Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

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I have been asked to Chair the Tonkin’s EA/PA Skills Forum 2012

I am honoured. Tonkin have outdone themselves this year by putting together an outstanding programme for the EA/PA Skills Forum. This year’s event includes an amazing line-up of extremely experienced senior EAs and PAs at the top of their game. The sessions on the programme have obviously been carefully thought out and are specifically targeted to meet the needs of EA and PAs looking to enhance their skills set and advance their career to the next level. I’m particularly looking forward to the superb net-working opportunities this event will provide. Hope to see you there!

Butterfly Busters. Conquering the Fear of Public Speaking

My hands were shaking, my knees were quaking, my heart pounding and my throat dry. First date? No. Worse, much worse. How did I get myself into this situation?

Let me take you back. It’s the year 1999 and I am attending college. A late bloomer, but that’s another story! I find myself preparing to give a presentation (for the life of me, I can’t remember what I was presenting on) in front of about 50 – 100 students in the auditorium.

I have a problem, fear has engulfed me. I just wish I would die, right on the spot. Maybe a heart attack? Quick and easy, hopefully relatively painless as I have heard that people can “drop dead” from heart attacks. Yes, that would work. It would certainly get me out of this situation I am in right now. I am ill prepared. Better prepared for the heart attack than for the speech, that’s for sure. I am positive everyone can tell that I am nervous. Certainly my fellow students can tell because we are all standing around back stage murmuring ” I am so nervous, I think I would rather die.”

I have my speech somewhat memorised, although I am now thinking I should have spent more time practicing. What am I saying? I should have spent ANY time practicing. I am so not prepared. Luckily I have the speech typed out in large font so I can just read it. How hard can it be? But then the fear engulfs me again. How did I get myself into this situation? Everyone is going to see my hands shaking as I read my speech. My voice is going to quiver. I don’t look good. I should have worn a dress. Yes, I am thinking of all the negatives and not thinking about my speech at all.

My name is called. F%@K, that was fast. I walk onto the stage, introduce myself ( I think) and start reading my speech hands shaking, knees knocking. Lucky thing I didn’t wear that dress. People would have been able to see my knees. Why the hell didn’t I memorise this speech because the pages are shaking so bad, I can hardly read!

I hurry through thinking the least time on stage, the better! With speech having been delivered (I think), I exit. Stage left, or right or…just exit! I can’t remember how I left the stage or what happened on stage. Did I make it through my speech? I don’t know. I do know, I am never putting myself through this again. I have just been to hell and back and it wasn’t fun!

I never did remember what I said or how I said it on stage and I never put myself in that situation again. But rather than let the fear win, I decided to educate myself ( or rather seek out others who could help) and learn how to speak in public. One of the first things I did was join a Toastmasters Club.

To my shock, I wasn’t the only one who felt this kind of overwhelming fear of public speaking. In fact it’s more the norm. People really do fear death more than they fear speaking in public. When you come right down to it, that’s just ridiculous! I also discovered the audience isn’t there to see you fail, they are there to hear you speak. They are interested in what you have to say. And they care.

I have since realised this after becoming a confident and competent speaker, I have sat through speeches delivered by people who are overwhelmed with fear. And, all I could think of when listening to them struggle is ” I want to help.” I am willing them to get the words out. I want them to succeed. I want them to feel the nervous excitement one feels when they deliver a well prepared speech. It’s exhilarating.

It has taken years and a lot of practice. One does not become a speaker overnight. But with practice, I have learned not to just control my nerves and fear, but use them to enhance my speech with nervous excitement. I have also surrounded myself with supportive people I can practice in front of. I know now that the audience can’t tell how nervous you are and if then can,they are empathetic and want you to succeed.

Some tips I have learned over the years; I practice deep breathing before speaking, this helps to calm nerves as it slows the heart rate down. I move around as much as possible to warm my muscles. More importantly, I practice my speeches and then when I think I have practiced enough, I practice some more. And, I will myself to stay in a positive head space. Public speaking has given me confidence. Not just confidence in myself, but confidence in my message.

I do make mistakes. I have become over confident and found myself in situations where I haven’t practiced enough or I make a mistake in my presentation. It’s okay. I accept imperfection and often the audience doesn’t even notice the mistake. This makes it easier to just “let it go.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am nervous every time I speak. And, that’s okay. My internal voice that once told me, ” I am never putting myself through this again” was a voice that came from fear. But, I have embraced and mastered my fear. I now use my nervous and anxious thoughts and turn them into energy to enhance my speech. I have conquered my fear of public speaking by turning that fear into my friend!

“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you are scared to death” Harold Wilson

Are You Listening?

I am always looking for ways to learn and improve myself. One area I know I need to work on is listening skills or lack thereof. I can see the heads nodding of just about every family member and friend I have. Yes, I admit it; I am not the best listener in the world. I can hear my daughter who has told me a million (or at least a hundred) times that it’s my ADD. And, I don’t think she means that as a plus!

I try hard to listen, but it seems my mind is going 300 miles an hr, which means I am never really 100% focused on what the other person is saying. I work on it through Toastmasters, reading and being aware of (and admitting to) my shortcomings.

So, it is a breath of fresh air, when I have the opportunity to watch someone who has mastered listening skills. Yesterday, I attended a meeting with my new boss. Because it is only my second week on the job, it is the first real meeting I have been involved in that included a potential investor/member.

This meeting is where it all happened. Where I was blown away by the high level of listening skills Mr. Boss has. He was genuinely interested in every word Mr. Potential was saying. Not that I am not genuinely interested in what people say to me, it is just hard to concentrate sometimes. The difference with Mr. Boss is that he was living “in the moment”. It was amazing to watch Mr. Potential respond to an active, sincere listener who asked the right questions at the right time and listened with interest and integrity to each answer as it was given.

Was I sincerely listening during this conversation? No, I was observing and trying to figure out how I could learn how to become a genuine active listener. I can hear you now, “first learn to listen”, which is what I wasn’t doing! “Learn to be in the moment”, well I was kind of doing that, wasn’t I?

The upside of all of this is that I will learn because I am now working for the best company in the world that offers me the opportunity to learn and grow every day!
How cool is that?

I strive to learn this skill, not just to be a better listener, but because I know how it feels when Mr. Boss is actively listening to me. It makes me feel special (in a good way) and I want to pass that feeling on to others. I want “living in the moment” to be something that comes naturally, not a struggle to achieve.

So, this is my challenge to myself, I am going to learn to actively listen with sincerity. Imagine the possibilities!

Focus, focus focus, I can hear Al laughing now!

LG Life is Good, Really Good!

We all love to hear the words “You’ve won!” I was lucky enough to hear those words last Thursday. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the lottery or anything as life changing as that, but it was pretty good, a cruise on Sydney Harbour while being pampered!
I had written a “Life’s Good” blog in a contest that Brenda Gaddi of Mummytime.com was running. She is an official tweeter for LG. Yes, the same LG that produces products such as the surround sound in my living room.
I was one of two lucky winners Brenda had chosen to share her “Life’s Good” cruise with.

Mummyk, Brenda & I

Mummyk, Brenda & I

http://mummyk.com was the other lucky recipient.
Life started out good with a beautiful sunny day and just got better from there.

mummyk showing off the Harbour Bridge


We were treated to a wonderful selection of sushi, decedent chocolate dipped strawberries, massages, manicure, pedicures

Melting into total relaxation with a massage

and to top it off, had the opportunity to meet Fifi & Jules and some very interesting and well deserving women.

Brenda and the beautiful Fifi Box


Did I mention the wine and champagne that flowed freely throughout the cruise?

Can you imagine a massage in this environment. Heaven!


LG and Brenda, thank you for the extraordinary experience. Not one I will soon forget.
Life’s Good!

Cheers!

Turning 50 is okay as long as it’s not me!

Two of my best friends are turning 50 in January. My first thought was “how exciting”. But that thought quickly turned sour when I realised why I have two friends turning 50.
I AM GOING TO BE 50 THIS YEAR!
Yes, I realize that when you write in all capital letters, it means you are screaming. I wrote in all capital letters because, well because, I’m screaming!
I just can’t believe 50 years have almost passed. What have I been doing?
Partying, getting married, partying, raising children, partying, working, partying, getting divorced, partying, finding my awesome new partner Al, partying, moving to the other side of the world.
You get the picture, I don’t have to repeat it, life has been pretty good.
I have had several interesting careers, a marriage that lasted 30 years, two very beautiful children that I am very proud of, and who have collectively given me five wonderful, smart, fun Grandchildren, and an exciting new partner for life that has taken me to the other side of the world. Not bad!

Enjoying the good life in Tassie!

So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that I don’t feel 50. I feel like I should be about 25, not 50. But my body betrays me. I still like to have fun and do have fun, but I am much more likely to go home earlier, have a hangover easier, and not be happy with how the clothes are fitting!
Yes, things have changed! I weigh more than I ever have in the past, my hands have age spots, my tummy bulges, my face has wrinkles and I don’t have the stamina I used to have when I was young.
On the other hand, my house isn’t as clean as it used to be (it’s a good thing), I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I notice beauty around me much more often than I used to. I appreciate life and all that it has given me.
Does this mean I am going to give up and get old? Hell no!
I will continue to look for adventure and probably find more challenges while looking for those adventures. I will use moisturiser more often and stay out of the sun when possible. I will continue to try soooo hard to lose that extra 10 pounds, but above all, I will strive to keep on learning.
I look at the last 3rd of my life as a new beginning.
I am blessed to live with a man who spoils me rotten. Now that I’m older, I am going to appreciate it and at the same time take advantage of it.
I am likely to have more grandchildren, but if not, I am more likely to have great grandchildren while I can still have fun with them. Not too soon though Tristan!
I will keep on snorkeling, kayaking and golfing. I might even try to improve my golf game.
I have just embarked on a new career. I will embrace this new career and give it my all, just like I would have done when I was younger, only now my all includes a lot more knowledge.
I have so much to look forward to…like being able to laugh at my many friends that are turning 50 before me since I have about 4 months to go (but who’s counting)! And, I will. I will laugh, but I will celebrate that they are healthy, happy, 50 and still my friends. And, together we will grow older, not gracefully, but kicking and screaming and fighting it the whole way!

Happy Birthday Sherry and Nancy, January 25, 1961, the day two wonderful Goddesses entered the world!

Sherry & Nancy, the Goddesses!