How to get daily gratitude actually working for you

I’ll be honest. I always thought daily gratitude was just a little bit woo-woo, even for me.

What I’ve discovered is that a little bit of gratitude, done right, helps me to feel thankful not just for the big things but also for the smaller ones. Admittedly, this is a recent addition to my daily routine, but one that’s helped me to start the day on a positive note.

It can be easy to get bogged down in the challenges of a freelance lifestyle, rather than embracing and celebrating the awesome bits. By carving out five minutes before I jump into my email or an important copywriting project, I'm choosing to start the day feeling uplifted, and with an I-can-conquer-the-world vibe.

grateful for a shelf of books

From zero to hero

So, how did I go from zero gratitude to a daily habit? I heard about a better way. I had a bit of Marie Forleo in my ears over January, as some of you probably did too. She shared her method, and it really resonated with me. Rather than merely listing everything you’re grateful or thankful for, you choose just one each day. But, this is where the magic happens. For that one thing, you list five reasons why. Let me give you an example.

Today I wrote that I’m grateful for my freelance life.

  1. It allows me flexibility, extra precious when I have a young child in my world.

  2. I can choose which sorts of clients I work with, based on whether it’s a good fit for both of us.

  3. I can work from home in my new office. Or a cafe if I fancy a change of scene. Or a library, or a coworking space. You get the idea.

  4. I can start my day with a strength training workout, which gets the creative juices flowing, and also leaves me more time in the evenings to hang with my family and friends.

  5. I can continue to grow professionally and personally, following my passions and unique areas of interest.

In this past week, I’ve expressed gratitude for my neighbourhood, my husband, my son, my business and fresh water. It’s a new practice for me, so I’m starting with the big and perhaps obvious choices. As I continue to explore it, day after day, it’s going to get me thinking more deeply about all the small blessings that surround me.

Small Blessings book Emily Brewin

Speaking of Small Blessings...a GIVEAWAY!

‘Small Blessings’ also happens to be the title of talented Melbourne author Emily Brewin’s second novel, out now with Allen & Unwin.

(In case you missed it, you can catch my interview with the inspiring Emily here).

I’m thrilled that I’ve got a copy of the book to give away. Oh, and another small blessing. A $100 voucher to use towards any of my copywriting services! (A new author bio or blog post, perhaps?)

For your chance to win both of these fab prizes, head to Instagram. But, be quick. The lucky winner will be drawn this Sunday night 10th Feb at 8pm. Good luck!



The Day I Survived Without My Laptop

If you were ever a ‘Sex and the City’ fan, you’ll no doubt remember when Carrie’s computer went to heaven and she spectacularly lost everything. Those were pre-cloud days, and she lived life on the edge, without backing up. Now, that was a huge technological fail. So, mine? Not in this league, but still enough to throw a spanner in the works.

I didn’t need to log on to Xero on Tuesday last week and, thankfully, I’m not an accountant. Xero - my reliable, trusty accounting software - was down for the day. Eeep! But just the following day, I went into panic mode as I realised with horror that my laptop had gone into work with my husband. I had inadvertently left it in the boot while doing childcare pick up and general toddler wrangling. After letting out plenty of initial frustration, I took stock.

I had three precious work hours ahead of me, courtesy of my little one’s grandma and grandpa, and I was not going to waste them. Here’s what I did, and what I suggest you try if ever you find yourself in the same boat.

1. Go old-school!

I put pen to paper, the old-fashioned way. With a newsletter due in the next 24 hours, I had no choice but to go old school. What did I discover? How much I love the feeling of my pen running along the page. The break from staring at a screen was also pretty refreshing. Sure, I had to skip formatting, links and image placement for now. But, I quickly finished a draft that would take very little time to type up later. Dare I say, perhaps the copy flowed even quicker by hand?!

2. Prioritise

I went in to my Trello app via my phone and got my priorities in order. Yes, it meant juggling a few things around, but it also meant I used my time productively. Funnily enough, it also gave me time to focus on the tasks I’d been avoiding…

3. Go big

...Such as big picture dreaming. I’ve long had ideas brewing that I rarely make time to ‘work on’, such is the daily grind. Today, rather than see them as big day-long tasks, I spent some bite-size chunks on the big picture and goal stuff. And, you know what? It didn’t take long to get some serious clarity.

So, am I glad I left my laptop in the boot of the car? Would I do it again? Not purposefully of course, but it’s great to know there are ways I can be productive without it.

Obviously, I'm back online now! So, if you've been meaning to get in touch, you can do that here. I'd love to see if we're a good fit.

unplug-from-technology

Emily Brewin, author

Emily Brewin is a quiet achiever. Not only is she an accomplished English and Media secondary teacher, in the early mornings and late into the night she is an author. As a former colleague and longtime friend, I have watched Emily's rise with fascination, in admiration of her commitment to her goal - publication of her novel Hello, Goodbye in 2017.

Emily is fiercely determined, tenacious and incredibly patient. She penned her debut novel while raising two young children, working as a teacher, and studying writing. This is not a woman who does things by halves. Whether you're a freelancer, writer or reader, I know you'll be interested in Emily's processes and musings on her work. Enjoy!

Emily Brewin, author (Photo: Harriet Tarbuck)

Emily Brewin, author (Photo: Harriet Tarbuck)

In the work you do, how important are the right words?

In the published form, the words can make or break a novel. You may have a fantastic story, but if the words fail to bring it to life, it won’t keep readers reading. Saying that, I think the right words are less important in those initial drafts. First and second drafts for me are mainly about getting the story down, rather than crafting sentences. The end product is a bit of a dog’s breakfast but it gives me something to work with and to shape into something more palatable.

What gets you up in the morning?

Usually the alarm clock on my phone, which rings at an ungodly hour. I tend to write early in the morning or late at night when my children are in bed. Apart from that, I’m driven by a desire to create something that belongs just to me, that I can disappear into and take pride from. Writing is exhausting, thankless work at times, but there’s also no better feeling than seeing a story that’s lived in my head coming to life on the page.

What led you to your current career choice?

I am a secondary school teacher as well as an author. I went into teaching because I don’t think there is a greater gift to give than education. And, there’s a certain type of magic that happens when a young person becomes engaged in a topic or begins to see the world from a new perspective.

Writing is similar in that it has the power to transport us to another time and place. I love that it allows me to stand in a character’s shoes and to see through their eyes. I tend to write as a way of understanding people, issues and the world around me. I believe that fiction in particular encourages empathy, and that society as a whole could do with a bit more of that.

What are the most effective ways you market your book and, indeed, yourself?

Word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to sell books, although a major literary prize never goes astray. I didn’t think seriously about the business side of writing until my first novel, Hello, Goodbye, was published and I witnessed the power of publicity. I’ve since learnt that social media is a great way to build a profile, although, it does take time and commitment to do properly.

How has the landscape of your industry changed since you began?

I think that people, especially young people, are much more media savvy. There is an expectation these days that authors will have and maintain a social media presence, which publishers can tap into to sell books.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other writers/freelancers?

Talent will only get you so far. Determination, discipline and a willingness to learn from your mistakes is just as important, as is connecting with other writers. In terms of being an author, being able to survive on very little sleep so that you can write at either end of your day job is also a must.

To learn more about Emily and her debut novel Hello, Goodbye, visit her website.

For assistance with marketing your creative work, generating a social presence or other communications bits and pieces, holla at a copywriter!

 

hello-goodbye-novel-emily-brewin

How I Saved My Sanity in January

School goes back next week.

Although, I’m no longer a teacher so I don’t live by the term, die by the term. And, my little rascal is still a few years off school (and his daycare largely stayed open in January - thank goodness!).

So why does it matter to me at all?

I don’t know about you, but it always feels like there’s a different energy around the place in January. Even for those of us continuing to go to work, we’re conscious of so many other people either away on holidays (sigh) or navigating the work/kids on school holidays juggle. But more than that, I’m a little bit of a (whispered) control freak. Honestly, I can’t remember what came first. The teaching term or routine addict. The chicken or the egg. But that’s how I roll.

And January is a month where routines tend to slip a little. There are occasional later bedtimes, both for adults and little ones, pushed back or skipped naps, or unusually busy days. While that allowed our family more social flexibility, we certainly paid the price some days. Okay, okay so we also have an almost-two-year-old on our hands, which probably accounts for plenty. At any rate, it’s become abundantly clear that both he and I are natural sticklers for routine (much to the chagrin of my spontaneous husband - we’re still working on finding that middle ground).

So, how did I find some structure amongst the free-fall of January to keep my inner (sometimes outer) control freak happy? And, to feel like I was having a bit of a holiday in my own city some days?

We chose activities for the whole family. By that I mean, we selected either kid activities that we were happy to do, like visit the new Ground Up exhibition at Scienceworks. Or adult activities where toddlers would be welcome, like hanging at the super-relaxed bar and eatery Tallboy and Moose in Thornbury.

We used babysitters. With parent babysitters temporarily out of action, we were happy to pay our fabulous local babysitters for the privilege of dining out for our wedding anniversary and to just have some adult time.

We took naps or had down time. Some weekends were really full, so we made sure to take the opportunity if ever the toddler slept to sleep too, or simply rest in front of the cricket. To reset, and to find some more energy for when he woke.

We socialised with other families. This gave the little ones some instant friends to play with, and made ‘another trip to the park’ loads more enjoyable.

We tried new experiences. We went for pho and pizza, mastered the art of the babycino, explored Scienceworks, found a new water play park. We mixed it up.

In a funny way, I think I need January to reset myself, to reinvigorate and re-energise, to exercise my spontaneous muscle and to just free-fall. Knowing full well that, by February, everything will be back in its place, just as it should be.

Happy end of January everyone (and to my fellow control freaks, we’re nearly there!).

P.S. If there was anything on your Jan to-do list that you didn’t get to and I can possibly help - just sing out! Copywriting, editing, proofreading, hit me up! Piles of washing, cooking, bill paying, I will politely decline.

coffee-with-family

Things we can be thankful for

As each year draws to a close, I typically get a little bit reflective and I know I’m not the only one. Even if it’s been a doozy of a year - and there were some pretty rough moments in 2017 - I try not to wish a year away, to leap into the next without so much as a glance over my shoulder.

Because each year brings its own gifts. We lost my father-in-law in March, which was completely devastating. But, our son had his second year Earth-side, filling our lives with so much joy. I also made the bold decision to career transition and become a copywriter, and haven’t looked back. Friends were married, had children, moved houses, jobs and countries. Life happened.

I’m not sending out a newsletter this month - goodness knows there’s enough hitting your inbox right now. Instead, here’s my December musings in blog form. I hope that no matter what your year looked like, you can find something to be thankful for.

So, grab a cuppa (or a bubbles - it’s the silly season after all) and enjoy.

Thank goodness…

For good friends

Raise a glass to the ones who stuck by you this year when stuff got real. They are the keepers. Hug them hard.

For good things in the world

Rather than focus on the things we’d rather forget (Trump, anyone?), let’s celebrate marriage equality in Australia. #itsabouttime

For opportunities

We are so fortunate to be able to freely pursue our passions and goals, with all the resources we have available to us. Remember those days before the internet???

For family

We are grateful for the toddler-wrangling, the wise advice, and for the reality check when we need it. #rememberwhereyoucamefrom To the littles, thank you for keeping us in the moment and for reminding us just how fascinating the small things can be.

For the success of others

A dear friend had her novel published this year, while another’s business grew from strength to strength. Yet another navigated year one of motherhood with poise, grace and a hell of a lot of patience. A fourth is taking a brave and inspiring step to study abroad. The list goes on.

For Netflix

For the nights you’re too tired to make conversation, or you just want to be swept away, Netflix brought us Stranger Things, The Sinner, The Fall and The Crown. Hallelujah!

For community

For the bustling community where you may be living, to online, business and work communities, people need people. Connection is everything.

And lastly, for coffee

Without you, not much would be possible.

My very best wishes to you and yours this Christmas. See you back here in 2018. X

copywriter-on-holiday