Posts from the ‘Life lessons’ category

Let’s get this straight; I don’t build things with my hands.

In the caveman era, I would not have been the guy making the clubs.

It doesn’t come naturally, nor have I been able to acquire the skills at this point in my life.

I’ve never been interested in how things are designed or put together.

Tools are people I think are fools, and hardware has something to do with computers.

Monkey Wrench is a Foo Fighters song.

Scraper is missing the word sky.

Bolt is the surname of a fast man.

Who is Phillip? And, why do I have Allen’s key?

And then…

My daughter is bunny sitting for the summer, and she asks me, “Daddy, can you build me a bunny hutch?”

Her hopeful blue eyes stare at me, and I melt.

I immediately reply with “Of course, sweetie. Let’s look at some designs and see what is best for the bunnies.” In my head I’m thinking, ‘I’m in trouble if she want’s anything more than a small square box’.

Suggesting to look at designs was my first mistake. There are some extremely nice bunny cages out there.

Suddenly my requirements included a cosy sleeping area, a grassed area for them to eat and play, a run long enough for them to hop a few times, and multiple opening and closing areas to control where the bunnies are, and for cleaning purposes.

What’s that saying? ‘Fake it til’ you make it’.

I had wood lying around, so my first trip to the hardware store was for nails. I thought I’d start simple.

While looking for nails, I picked up a saw. A wire attached it to the shelf so it couldn’t be stolen. So, here I had an electric saw with no power, with a plastic cover over the blade, and I still managed to cut my finger on the wire. Good start.

I located the nails. Who knew that there were so many different types of nails? Different sizes and finishes had my head spinning. I didn’t realise it’d be so specific. I just needed a multi pack of about 1000 nails, because I really had no clue what I needed. However, that didn’t exist.

I left dazed, with a few packets of nails and screws, wondering what I’d gotten myself in to.

Before I started building, I sketched, and measured, and sketched some more. Having the design on paper was not really helping me feel any more confident with actually building the bunny cage.

But here’s only one way to learn, and so I began.

I hit many design problems along the way, including the need to reinforce components of the design, and using an excessive amount of nails to hold the thing together. However, I was feeling more and more confident it could house 2 bunnies.

My daughter was incredible throughout the build. She helped where she could, provided moral support, and at one point said to me, “Dad, it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, as long as the bunnies have a home, they’ll love it!”

I battled through my own doubts, knowing that this was an important moment in my father/daughter relationship. I started to laugh off mistakes, be creative and innovative when faced with design flaws, and enjoy the experience of using my hands to build something.

Meanwhile, my daughter reminded me that she loves me unconditionally. She also loved that I was able to get blue and pink outdoor paint to complete her dream bunny cage.

So I finished the bunny cage. It’s true; if you build it they will come. The bunnies have arrived and are loving their new home.

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And then…

My daughter asks me, “Daddy, can you build me a dolls house?”

Stay tuned.

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As a young child, I wanted to be a train driver.

Going to the city was such a rare but magical trip. Waiting on the train station was almost unbearable. As I watched the horizon, I would lean forward to catch the first glimpse of the old rattler coming around the corner.

It seemed like an eternity from when the train finally appeared, to when it screeched and groaned it’s way into the station. The doors then hissed, and opened.  We took a careful but excited step onto the train, to take our first breath of that distinct old train smell.

As I grew up, I learnt that I loved the entire train experience. It was never really about being the train driver. Sometimes we get so caught up in the atmosphere of what surrounds a job that we forget about what the job actually is, and whether it’s truly what we want, and if it even meets our skills or needs.

I’m not one to sit still for long, and despite a very safe driving record, my attention to detail is weak when it comes to reading road signs. This is not the ideal skill set for a train driver, but perfect for a passenger staring out the window.

So often I hear about people doing countless years of university to get into a job they think would be fun, or will earn them lots of money, or because their parents told them that’s what they should do. But they hate it. They do something else.

We all have a different path. For me, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d spend almost all of my 17-year working career in life insurance. I could ask every child on the planet, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Not one of them would say, “I want to work in insurance”.

As a teen I wanted to be a paramedic. I’ve always operated on adrenaline and thrived under pressure, so perhaps this would have been a suitable career choice. However, an oncoming car hitting a helpless pedestrian (me) changed my outlook on life.

I decided to focus on tourism. I wanted to travel, see the world, and experience other cultures. I did a tourism TAFE (college) course while in high school, and studied Japanese. Again, I got caught up in the idea of travel, and didn’t really understand ‘tourism’.

We didn’t really have guidance counsellors at school, because perhaps they would have told me that the tourism industry doesn’t pay enough money to catch a bus to the next town.

Sometimes you need to recognise when a decision may be detrimental to your objective. So when I was offered a traineeship at the Sheraton in Sydney, I rejected my first, and at the time my only, job offer.

So my Dad said, “Why don’t you join the bank?”

“Not a chance, I will never work for a bank,” I replied.

Three months later I was working for the bank.

Seventeen years later, I’m still at a bank. Of course I’ve had my good days and bad days over that time, but overall it has been a fulfilling experience. I made the choice to progress my career and challenge myself everyday, and more often than not, I felt a sense of purpose in what I was doing.

Is it my dream job? Maybe not, but it’s given me an incredible platform of skills and experience. I’ve worked with some truly amazing and talented people. I’ve worked on projects that I’m proud to have been involved with, and I’ve genuinely tried to make a positive difference in an industry that has had to overcome negative public perception.

It has been my enabler to get me to this point in my life. Not only has it fulfilled many of my dreams already, including the opportunity to take a family year off and create ‘Roaming Days’, it more importantly has opened many paths for the future.

It’s not that I don’t believe in a ‘dream job’. But I’m an advocate for having the right job for a time in one’s life, as a job is only one portion of living a full life.

Wherever you are on your path, here are a couple of simple tasks you can do to check in with yourself:

1. Are you getting the most out of your job?

We’re each better suited to and enjoy different aspects of any job. Ideally, you need to understand what these are for you, and what psychological need(s) they are fulfilling.

A simple place to start is looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Try to identify what you need in your job, for example: ‘a sense of belonging’, ‘achievement’, and/or ‘respect from others’. Once you have your list, go through and write down examples of things that have happened at work in the last 3 months that have met your needs.

If you find that you are not meeting your needs:

  • At a minimum, you should be doing tasks that you’re 1) good at and 2) enjoy doing. We all have things in any role that we dislike doing, but they should be the minority.
  • Ask for further development or training, and continue to build your resume. Some of your needs can be met by undertaking such activities.
  • Work towards a goal. It doesn’t have to big. Little wins will help to keep you motivated.

2. Does your job suit your skills?

A mentor once asked me to make a list of my skills. I realised that basically none of my core skills had anything to do with insurance, but rather soft skills like good communication, relationship management, time management and ability to deliver on tight deadlines, and so on.

I highly recommend this activity, it may open up opportunities you didn’t even know you had!

3. Can you manage a balanced lifestyle?

Work often becomes the centre of ones life. I’ve been there. We blame the job, or too much work, but we never blame ourselves and how we personally are contributing to the problem.

Over the years, I’ve made many changes to regain life balance.  However, I’ve seen many people around me that are unable to enforce such disciplines on themselves.

It’s bad enough to spend a crazy amount of time at work, but it’s worse when all of your life decisions become based around it. For example: you can’t make family events, you don’t have time to spend with your children, you fail to give yourself any down time, and/or your fitness and health suffers.

The risk of your job becoming your life is that you lose all perception of the world around you. You’ll be out of balance, and this is not good for your soul. Do this simple life balance test to see how you measure up.

4. Do you have a passion outside of work? 

Even if what you do is what you’re most passionate about, have another passion outside of your job. It helps create a balanced lifestyle because you have something other than work to look forward to and keep your mind engaged. As a result, your happiness levels are likely to increase – plus you’ll be more interesting (subject to your passion) 😉

5. Are you in the right job?

If you’re not happy with what you’re doing, if you don’t feel like the job is fulfilling in any way, if you generally dislike getting out of bed every day to go to work, YOU have to make the decision to change.

So really, it’s as simple as this, “Accept what you do, or change what you do”. Find you’re right job and make the most of your ‘working’ life.

Happy living,

Roaming days

 

 

 

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If I were to tell you that we’ve moved 5 times in 2 years, you may be right to question our sanity.

I’ve heard that the average person moves around 11 times in their lifetime, and we’ve knocked over nearly half that in the same time it takes some people to unpack from a single move.

Recently, we’ve taken a fairly liberal approach to life, letting the tides flow how they will, and not trying to swim against them.

It all started back in Australia, with our kids running naked and free in our backyard. Bathed in sunlight, ice blocks (popsicles) dripping everywhere, the sound of lawn mowers running, kids laughing, and friendly neighbours dropping by.

This was home, and we loved it.

But who wants 8 months of summer every year? It was time to four season our life and move to Canada. The move aired adventure and opportunity, with absolutely no clue as to how the next year or two would transpire.

We started living with family in a finished basement while we adjusted to the new sub-zero weather conditions. We had to adjust quickly, as we faced a record breaking winter of low temperatures and snow fall. If we could survive the worst winter in almost 60 years, we were going to be okay!

This was home, and it was great to be living with family and having our own little space to retreat.

When you dream something so grand as to live in a motorhome and travel North America with 2 kids under 5, it doesn’t happen magically. There’s a ton of work, commitment and sacrifice to make it happen.

As we loaded the kids into our new (used) motorhome and set off on this adventure, I’m sure I heard my wife laugh and mutter ‘What the f#%k are we doing?’ It seemed surreal that we’d made this dream come true!

A wise soul said to me recently, ‘it’s not about the length of time you spend on the road. The road is the road. It’s the openness to learn and grow… and to let go.’ We love these words, and they are close to our heart. Living on the road is such a humbling experience.

This was home, and North America was our backyard.

We then decided to spend some time establishing ourselves in a new country. While we searched for work, we moved back into the family basement as the cold weather made the RV unliveable.

Fortunately, the job hunt was quick and we were packing again. The move to a high-rise condo was contrastingly different to the freedom of a motorhome.

We had every possible convenience at our doorstep. It was big city living; an endless choice of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. However, we hardly used any of it. Instead we focused on experiences. We took them hiking, biking, to parks, and shows and ballets, and lots of swimming in the condo pool. We even had the kids skiing down a little hill in the middle of the city – which was perfect for teaching them.

This was home, and for a short time, it was fun to be as high as the birds (we literally watched birds soar passed our window).

In the last two years, we’ve not had a clear destination in mind. Despite this, we’ve not been lost, nor have we been blindly out of control. We left Australia with an open mind, willing to let go of the life we knew, and embrace whatever came our way.

As a result, the concept of ‘home’ became more fluent for us. We learnt by living in the motorhome that once we closed the blinds at night, no matter where we were parked, we were home.

One night in the condo, as we sat overlooking the city lights, my wife and I realised this was a temporary home. It didn’t represent us, or the things that we wanted for our little family. The sheer recognition of this immediately opened up new possibilities. Within weeks, our life was heading in a new direction.

Now, I’m staring out into our newest backyard. Touched by the lightest remnants of an icy snow, the leaning wooden fence loosely defines our backyard. Beyond is a huge horse paddock, and beyond that seems to be endless acres of rural land to explore.

We find ourselves in an adoring and thoughtful community, in a farmhouse that sometimes feels like the middle of nowhere (in a good way).

This is home… for now.

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What do we miss staring into our mobile devices each day? What do we miss by having a head full of ‘to dos’? What do we miss by not seeking ‘real’ human connection in our day-to-day lives (even with strangers)?

We miss this…

It was just another mid-week morning.

These people had one thing on their mind… ‘Morning coffee’.

Almost on autopilot, they’d steered their cars into the drive-thru and given their order into a little faceless box. Now they waited. Their cars’ hummed and crept forward at any opportunity.

As they waited to drive up to a little window to pay, some drivers chatted to the passenger, and others starred blankly ahead. In a moment, they would collect their cup of motivation and survival for the morning.

But one thing was different this morning…

Inside the coffee shop was my family. We were sitting in a corner booth, which just happened to be right next to the drive-thru. As each car pulled up next to us, my wife encouraged the kids to wave. My kids liked the idea and started waving at each car.

It became evident that many people don’t react well to change in their morning routine. It was astounding to me, how many people could blatantly ignore two gorgeous little kids (under 5), waving and smiling at them from the window.

My kids don’t give up on anything that easily. They were committed to their plight and were not discouraged even for a second by the lack of response.

It was their sheer joy of the experience that sent positive energy out to each and every one of these strangers. Their energy grew car after car. Sure enough, people started waving back. We even got a few smiles.

It was uplifting to watch strangers find that unexpected moment of joy in their morning routine.

And then it happened…

In the next car was a woman we didn’t know. As she looked in at the kids waving and smiling gleefully, she burst into tears.

We don’t know her story. We don’t know whether there was pain behind those tears. But there was certainly joy. She managed a smile. It was a moment that broke all of us.

Having an impact on others from behind a window in a coffee shop was truly magical.

Tis’ the season to make others happy!

Happy living,

Roaming Days

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