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Welcome!

This little corner of cyberspace came about after I went on a rather lovely holiday, and had the time and inclination to write about my adventures and share them via social media–which reminded me that I actually like to write.

This is essentially a personal blog, but will have a regional/South Coast (NSW) focus, because that’s where I live and work. I may sometimes link to my two existing academic blogs, Shapeshifters in Popular Culture and Autism Spectrum Disorders in Higher Education, both of which have been hanging in a kind of frozen stasis not  unlike Agent Scully in those pod things (yes, there will be lots of geeky pop culture references), because I’ve been focused on my day job, and writing in order to publish, not perish.

And on that note, opinions are my own.

Milestones

It’s been a busy few weeks.

Our SAL (Special Additional Leave) block overlapped with the NSW school holidays this year, so those of us still actively affiliated with the Uni (one as a student, one as staff) tacked on an extra couple of days in order to facilitate a border-crossing adventure.

Now, before you get too excited, it was just a domestic/internal border, but even that has been a challenge for the last couple of years.

So when we were trying to figure out the best way to get to Queensland to see my in-laws, and to celebrate our son’s 21st the same week, he came up with a solution: we’d all go to the Sunshine Coast to visit Nanna and Grandpa, and then we’d stop by Movie World on the way home to mark his milestone birthday.

Ever optimistic, we also planned a couple of fun stops on the way home, including visit with my Aunt and Uncle and going to see The Phantom of the Opera on Sydney Harbour.

Just before all that kicked off, though, I spent my Saturday in Batemans Bay with our team at the launch of the Wattle Walk, a community art project to mark the beginnings of bushfire recovery; which has somewhat ironically been been delayed by another large scale disaster, Covid.

So on the Friday I went to the launch of the Southern Shoalhaven Country University Centre in Ulladulla, then headed to the bay to help plant 7000 woolen wattle branches, and then finally we headed North.

with Mayor Amanda Findley at CUC Southern Shoalhaven
Planting time

The Wattle Walk was a big hit locally. We ran craft workshops on Saturday, and were pleasantly surprised at how many people came out, despite the ongoing rainy weather we’ve been experiencing. The installation was actually extended by a week at the request of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, who were finding they were getting lots of new visitors and lots of positive feedback.

Heading North was a bit of an old-school road trip, with two “kids” in the back, ie my son and his partner. My daughter and her partner joined us at the Sunshine Coast. We had a nice little reunion with The Scottish Grandparents, but unfortunately Nanna was carrying the coronavirus and was not yet aware. We had the most amazing accommodation at Twin Waters, with plenty of rooms and living areas, including a great covered area on the ground floor where we could host the mobility-challenged for our Good Friday lunch.

The resort pool was slightly warmer than the unit’s one, and also boasted a lovely view of one of the eponymous Twin Waters.

All the Colemen and Colemen-adjacent people

Blissfully unaware of the virus hiding in plain sight, we enjoyed the random Good Friday fireworks (theologically speaking, that’s not a day of celebration, organisers!) and the Easter bunny arrived with chocolates and dorky pyjamas for all.

Easter Sunday was largely spent in a car, most of us contorted with knees around ears in order to accommodate 6 people and luggage, after several iterations of the travel plan were changed and/or abandoned.

Our Gold Coast accommodation was laid out like a rabbit warren, which fitted our pjyama theme, and quite dirty, which was horrifying. But hey, it had lovely views, so I guess they catch a lot of people once. I actually wrote a review to this effect, but it seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the website. Go figure.

Rob had a pre-birthday dinner and cake to accommodate his sister’s flight on the evening of his actual birthday, which we topped off with a visit to Holey Moley.

We headed to Movie World as planned, and discovered that while the number of visitors was back to pre-pandemic levels, the number of operational rides and the staff on deck probably weren’t. Tony and I went into the 4D theatre and had lunch, and spent the rest of the day sitting on a park bench. The young people were in queues from park open to park close, and made it onto two rides.

By this time, however, Tony was starting to feel very ordinary indeed, so it was possibly a good time to be sitting quietly by ourselves.

Right after we arrived in Coffs Harbour–meant to be Step 1 of our leisurely journey home–Tony got a positive Covid result, joining his parents, 13 others on his mum’s ward, and his sister among those who’d got an unwanted Easter bonus. Our daughter and her partner would soon join those ranks.

We could only look on this from afar as we regrouped in our room and made sure not to have contact with anyone else.

So long story short, it was a long and unexciting trip home, after dismantling and cancelling all the fun activities. Followed by disinfecting every surface in the car (twice!) and a week of offering room service to the patient, who was confined to his bedroom.

The return to working on campus was equally eventful. Day 1 was setting up for Shoalhaven Graduation, Day 2 was Shoalhaven Graduation, and Day 4 involved traveling to Wollongong for the first on-campus and in-person graduation in over two years, where the student I supervised was awarded her PhD.

Dinner with the team

Special times, indeed.

New Habits

So here we go: two weeks in a row. It’s a new record.

Well not really, but it sure feels like it.

There was a time when I had WordPress Wednesday in my calendar and it was sacrosanct. Now, it’s in there but I move it around other things and sometimes to other days and then it gets to the end of the week and I just delete it rather than have it taunt me. Et voila, that’s how we get to the end of March with nary a post.

Now, I know that I do better when I have a morning routine, and morning pages, and daily exercise, and a sleep routine. I have even read evidence to back it up, and I’ve blogged about it. And yet somehow I have once again slipped out of my good habits. Part of it is to do with my battered old body, which gets very grumpy in multiple joints when I go for a walk or other exercise–my Physiotherapist will be able to put her kids through expensive private schools for life, if she so chooses. Part of it is the appalling weather–flooding rains are not conducive to morning strolls–and part of it is just trying to get back into a going-to-work routine after a working-from-home routine for so long.

So: baby steps. I’ve done the morning page two days running. I’ve done WordPress Wednesday two weeks running. I’m trying to use the email answering half hour at the start of each day and the setting up half hour at the end of each day exactly as they are intended. And I’ve tried to follow Kristina Karlsson’s idea of reviewing the quarter and planning for the next one, albeit somewhat half-heartedly, since she advises thinking about your dreams and I was focused on work goals because the “dream” list was at home and I was in the office.

Like I said, baby steps. Faltering ones, from someone with a dodgy neck, hip and knee (at last count!).

Mea Culpa

Bless me, Reader, for I have sinned. It has been several months since my last “weekly” blog post.

In that time the world has gone to Hell in a handbasket, with continued COVID outbreaks, a war in Ukraine, floods, the Chris Rock/Will Smith saga, and Married at First Sight.

Not me. Just very near our home.
Perhaps most heinous of all …

There’s been some pretty cool stuff, too. With restrictions easing, UOW’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Trish Davidson, was able to come and visit all our campuses, including presiding over graduations in Batemans Bay and Bega. I believe it’s the first time a Vice Chancellor has come to a Bega or Batemans Bay grad. My brand new boss also visited, making it to Shoalhaven campus in his first week on the job, and the others soon after. This feels like a recognition of the importance of the less well-known campuses, and has really buoyed spirits.

I was invited to sit in on a HDR review panel, which necessitated delving into the world of Outlander, which I’d been avoiding out of fear of how long the books are. It’s an adaptation project to boot, so the Spousal Unit and I started watching the telly version together. It’s not bad, and it’s caused some very amusing moments where he (born in Scotland) has turned to me (Scottish by heritage, but never set foot in the place) to ask questions about things like the finer points of the battle of Culloden.

Will my Scottish husband look like this if I convince him to wear a kilt?

I once again attempted to attend the Long Wet Autumn-ish Long Hot Summer Tour, this time in Berry, and we were once again absolutely drenched. That’s the third time, in three different locations and in three different months. We even thought about purchasing tickets to the Kiama version this weekend, but since most of NSW is currently building arks, have held off.

Yeah, those clouds don’t look ominous at all.

As for me, I’m currently in regional Victoria where there’s not a cloud in the sky, working remotely and being an extra adult family member for a little bit. This has some pretty big advantages–four feline ones, for starters.

Cutest co-worker ever
Then the cuteness factor doubled.

So yes: doing OK. And hoping to get back into a good blogging routine … after all, it is almost April!

REBLOG: Why we’re scared as the ‘let it rip’ tide of COVID hits NSW, Australia

A local perspective on the inherent ableism of NSW’s current policy settings with regard to COVID. Shawn, Gina, Mac and their extended family are friends of mine, and live in the next suburb over, so this is very close to home.

Disability & Media Matters

Here’s why we are so scared for Mac and why we are desperate not to be caught in the ‘let it rip’ tide of COVID that’s hit NSW and Australia.

Thanks to vaccination, we are now less worried about the disease than we are about the potential treatment and/or lack of it he would receive in an overwhelmed hospital and health system as a very young adult with severe disability. Mac, Gina, and I are triple-vaccinated and we have done everything possible to follow the health guidance of the likes of Dr Kerry Chant for two years. We have been significantly isolating for the entire time. Even when I returned to face-to-face teaching for a brief time at the start of last year, we did it without fully embracing the ‘return to normal’ we were encouraged to do. As those who know Mac know, he does not talk or walk…

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O, Christmas Tree

I had a perfectly timely plan that centred around WordPress Wednesday and December 1 (traditional lights-on day) aligning this year.

But life got in the way, so welcome to Thursday, December 2.

At the moment I’m working 14 hour days because of HSC marking at night (and on Saturdays), so very little is getting done at home. This is not good because it’s Christmas lights time.

So on Monday, Miss Almost-23 and I both took a day’s leave and worked on decorating the house. Because it’s the most industrious time of the year.

According to my Facebook memories, her enthusiasm kicked in approximately eight years ago. In response to her sudden self-promotion to Head Elf, her brother apparently announced, “Now there’s two of them everything should get done faster, Dad!”

Now, I know some people have beautifully curated trees and decorative themes, and while this is something to which I’ve always aspired, in reality we’re a little bit closer to the “Christmas threw up on our house” end of the spectrum than I’d like.

This isn’t ours.
Nor is this.

And as much as I annually check out the Balsam Hill site and sigh over pre-lit flip trees, I just don’t feel, as a proud owner of a mortgage or two, that I can justify it quite yet.

Aforementioned Head Elf and the Spousal Unit, however, have both acted as the devil on my shoulder, telling me I need one. Child the Younger, who has thrown to the Grinch side of the family, tried to convince me to instead buy a very economical and pre-decorated one from the discount store where he works. The very concept baffles me, if I’m honest.

Then the Spousal Unit had a moment and told me that he likes “our” tree. I told him I was looking at an additional tree, not a replacement tree, and suddenly he was on board again.

(We have two living areas: a family room and a formal room. If that’s not a recipe for two trees, I don’t know what is!)

You see, the reason we can’t have a beautifully curated colour themed tree like the ones above is that our tree’s “theme” is pretty much the history of us. There are the decorations made by the kids when they were in preschool. Sure, I tuck them away at the back, but they are there. There’s even one that my son made in Science a bit later on.

This isn’t bad, all things considered.
It’s a Santa hat. With crystals on it. He grew the crystals. He was very excited.

There are the decorations made by my friend Jody and my late bonus-mother, Sue.

There are even the clay present tags my niece and nephew made several years back.

But mostly, there are the “special” decorations chosen each year to represent something that’s happened in our lives. The idea is that the kids will eventually take “their” decorations with them, but we don’t seem to be there yet. Possibly because they have a curated, colour-themed tree at the flat. In fact, they also have a matching garland after I stopped in at Bredbo on the way back from a conference two years ago and the lovely staff dutifully went searching for a white garland, which the Head Elf/Child the Elder had, up until then, found elusive.

Significant appreciation for that garland is required. It took effort.

Some of our special decorations date back a long time; others have come a long way. Courtesy of multiple trips to Disneyland, we’re heavy on the Disney decos. That Cheshire Cat was the best surprise though … the smile glows in the dark. Magic.

Each trip, I would ask the kids to pick a decoration. This ranged from the ridiculous (“Really? You want a plastic M and M guitar ornament as a memento of this trip?”) to the sublime (“Well, yes. I do think Baymax tangled up in Christmas lights is the coolest thing ever.”) to the downright dangerous (“Sure. If we wrap that huge, fine, spherical Jack Skellington bauble very, very carefully, we can get it home on the plane in one piece. Probably.”)

Other times, we’d pick something that represented their year: Jamie’s obsession with Cinderella, Robert’s with Angels baseball, Jamie’s “graduation” from high school.

And then there was the time when Rob and I travelled to the States for Ellyn’s wedding. In New York, he found a Minnie Mouse-as-Liberty decoration and asked, “Mum, do you think this would be a good gift for Jamie?”

Why, yes, Son. In fact, it’s perfect.

Speaking of Ellyn, she’s represented, too. Back when she and Jamie were concurrently undertaking dance lessons, I bought some absolutely heinous (in my opinion) pink, glitter, ballet slipper decorations. They both love pink. And glitter. And dance. One slipper hangs on our tree; the matching one was sent to El.

For her part, she sends us representative ones from her state.

Because that’s another thing: when I travel, I try to find a decoration. It started with my Vancouver lights bear. Ros was with me when I bought him, and has of course been on many conferences with me in various places so she knows about this little habit of mine. Which means I have a lot of bonus decorations from when she’s visited Christmas markets in far-flung places.

We also have some matching ones, from joint trips. Matching Texas stars, for example. And also these matching paua shell angels, a personal favourite. Picked up in an airport after believing that perhaps I had missed my chance to find something on that particular trip, and look at her. She’s beautiful.

There are a bunch of decorations from our family travels. We’re missing South Africa and Antarctica, but all the other continents are represented, which is not bad going from our little regional Australian outpost.

It’s pretty much the history of us and our family, both biological and the ones we’ve claimed. And family times – the positive kind! – is what Christmas is all about. And so, from our family to yours, and to quote one of Ellyn’s gifted decorations: Merry Christmas, Y’all.

Another Online Ceremony

This week, our graduate will be admitted as a lawyer.

Once again, the process is not exactly what anyone intended.

Owing to a fixed date in her timeline and the Christmas shutdown, Child the Elder couldn’t wait to see when in-person admission ceremonies would come back. And owing to the changed HSC dates, I’m in the middle of night-marking season, so a trip to anywhere, let alone Sydney and back, is pretty much a non-starter.

Oh, and it’s her Dad’s birthday that day, too.

So: on Friday I will finish my day-job and then race home to watch her get admitted online, while her Dad will interrupt a flex day with his brother to get to the same location so we can watch together. We’ll then retreat to our separate corners.

Her brother has been tasked with transporting the physical gift we got to mark the occasion.

Then on Sunday (the only official day of rest from Marking!), we will get a chance to congratulate her in person, and to mark Tony’s birthday as a family.

And then she and I are taking Monday off, to hang Christmas lights on the house. (Well, take the day off from the day-job, anyway). Because otherwise, it might never get done.

So, it’s all happening in Chez Coleman.

Now, can anyone explain to me why, when I googled “lawyer images,” the above was the only option that wasn’t a bloke in a suit?

Hmmm.

When Roadmaps are Ridiculous …

NSW has hit its next milestone on the “Roadmap to Freedom” – 80% double-vaccinated.

Unfortunately the published freedoms associated with 80% have changed a few times and so we now have a certain amount of ridiculousness baked in. So some people who had most definitely heard that at 80% we could travel to Greater Sydney but didn’t hear the subsequent update of “actually, not until November 1” may have been popping up to Shellharbour to the shops.

And on the same day that I’m allowed to travel the 90-odd kilometres to Wollongong to see my kids, other folk will be landing in the International Arrivals Hall to see theirs. Which is fine, but hardly the hallmark of a carefully staged return to normality.

We are finding other anomalies as we attempt to un-secure the campuses that were in secure mode. For example, we know we are educational facilities, which means we have to follow the 80% roadmap and not admit unvaccinated people. TAFE, with whom we share sites, are evidently NOT educational facilities because their staff and students don’t need to be vaccinated unless they’re visiting a facility that requires it. Like a preschool, because it’s an educational facility.

Also, because we are an educational facility we are under the pre-existing mask rules ie wear them unless you are in your office by yourself. Because even though we have whole wings of offices, we aren’t in office buildings.

Still with me?

In non-COVID times my son lives in Wollongong half the week and home with us in Nowra the other half, because he has Uni in Wollongong but his main part-time job in Nowra and frankly, no one would want their young person having no option but to commute that distance at night, when tired and/or on freshly minted P plates. He is not allowed to cross between regional and metro except for work or compassionate reasons. He has to cross into regional NSW to take his job back up, because the government support is disappearing because it’s not needed. It’s not needed because you’re meant to go to work now. He worked both days this weekend. We still don’t know whether he was or wasn’t allowed to stay here in between, given his two addresses and the anxiety his mother would have felt about him going back and forth for no reason other than we didn’t know whether or not he was technically meant to sleep in the room he’s slept in between the ages of 6 and 100-odd days ago.

He was allowed to come down here to go to work on Saturday but our daughter wasn’t allowed to be here on Thursday night for her (online) graduation ceremony. They have the same address as each other up there, and the same address as each other down here.

It’s going to be a long few weeks until December 1, when we will once again throw open every door to every person because vaccination status will no longer count.

As for how the first day back on campus went, let’s just say: migraine by dinner time, and I’m working from home today. Will try again Friday.

Anyway, here is a story on the aforementioned graduate, along with some bonus pictures from her shoot with UOW photrapher, Paul Jones. Hopefully in November we can get some with her – and ones where she doesn’t have to be searching for her on brand “Why” and can smile naturally!

When Roadmaps are Ridiculous …

HSC Time … or is it?

All my Facebook memories at this time of year seem to have been me giving last minute advice and messages of good luck to my former tutoring students (including my own offspring … yes, when they were in Year 12 they dutifully turned up each week to the tutoring centre I’d worked in pretty much their whole lives, much to the amusement of their peers in our small group sessions).

This year, of course, the start of the HSC has been delayed. Consequentially, so has HSC Marking. We now won’t start marking until close to the time we usually finish, and it will continue into December. As a result, and because of the compressed timeline to get the results processed and through UAC in time for University offers, NESA is doing an unprecedented (there’s that word again!) second call for applicants. So if you have recent HSC teaching experience, jump on board, jump online and join us for an educational experience that is quite literally like no other. In my experience, you won’t find a better bunch of people with whom to work.

More details here

In keeping with my HSC-styled musings, this morning The Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces”–all about letting your daughter go and waving her goodbye as she begins adulthood–started playing in my Spotify list. This also seemed kind of prescient since Child the Elder is graduating this evening. It’s a postponed and online event and for a few brief hours last weekend we thought we were going to be allowed to sit on a couch in the same location to view it, before state pollies “clarified” that no, metro and regional areas wouldn’t be allowed to cross the streams for day trips just yet, after all.

So instead we’ll be sitting on our separate couches 92 kilometres apart. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we can get together and have a properly celebratory meal and take some frame-able photos for what is actually a pretty significant moment in her life.

#UOWgrad2021

Congratulations, Jamie. We love you, we miss you, and we’re very proud.

If you need help with getting organised for the HSC, you can contact me on https://www.kimberleymcmahoncoleman.com or send me an email via kmcmahon_coleman@hotmail.com

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey & Henny Penny Messy

Can anyone explain to me how the days are interminable at the moment, but the weeks roll by very quickly?

Not a lot is happening here on Cold Coleman Farm. The cat continues to monitor my work, stopping only to become distressed when her nemesis, a local roaming feline with buckets of attitude and little else to recommend it, harasses her through the front windows. Said feline usually waits until Scout is apoplectic and/or leaping against the glass and smacking her head, then heads into the backyard and starts in on harassing the chickens.

When I chase it away from there, it heads under the back fence to annoy the neighbours’ cat. Those neighbours are homophobic jerks whose kids only seem to communicate by screaming, so I’m OK with that as an outcome. Not that I have any proof that their cat isn’t as horrified by its owners’ attitudes and habits as I am.

The over-the-back-fence neighbours are the reason I had massive marriage equality posters facing into my back yard for a while there.

About the chickens: those little cluckheads have been causing chaos.

I was in a video conference yesterday when I heard a thump. The Spousal Unit also heard it. Neither of us investigated immediately.

Later, I walked past the kitchen door and saw an enormous amount of yolk on the patio and thought one of the chooks had had some kind of severe medical incident. I raced outside, to be greeted by this:

Scrambled eggs, anyone?

Currently, we have no ability to get our excess eggs to our kids, no workplaces in which to offload them, and Facebook Marketplace won’t let words like “eggs” be published in case it’s your own ova you’re trying to sell. So we had about a dozen lying uncollected in the nesting box, another dozen and a half inside, and three dozen or so that I’d brought in in this bucket. The bucket had been out in the coop and there was some wet straw around the eggs and Tony reckoned he could smell it in the kitchen (which was noteworthy in itself – he can be in the same room as a burning dinner and not notice!), so I stuck the bucket on the BBQ and thought I’d get to it later.

The chickens investigated and upended it before I got that far.

I saw the mess, cried out a slight character assassination (the kids next door paused in their loud play; maybe they thought they were the little a***holes in question), and burst out laughing. The clean-up provoked more laughter throughout the afternoon. I was really puzzled as to why I kept finding yolky drips, even elsewhere on the patio.

Turns out that if there’s yolk all over your pressure cleaner wand and you use the pressure cleaner to clean, you also need to clean the pressure cleaner. Who knew?

Same stuff, different day

I haven’t written for a while, but then again, there’s been nothing to say for a while. We’re in Week 2 of regional lockdown, and expecting an announcement tomorrow that it will be extended again. With cases surging in the West and sewage surveillance detection in the South, a pretty-underdone “plan” on the return to school across the state, and daily new cases now above the 900 per day mark, lifting restrictions seems pretty reckless.

So maybe our esteemed government will go ahead and do that, after all.

The NSW government continues to not make a real call about the HSC. They talk about certainty but really, if any Year 12 students gets a positive diagnosis, the whole year group will be out of exams for a fortnight or so. It only runs across four weeks from start to finish and it starts in seven or eight weeks. So proceeding is inherently uncertain and they only way to have certainty would be to say, exams are off and we’ll go by your assessments.

One of the big ideas has been that the students could sit exams outside. I laughed at that one. Better pray for no big winds. Also, I had really bad hay fever during my HSC and I’m thinking that being outside among the pollen probably wouldn’t have helped that situation.

I should add that I sat the HSC at Lithgow High School. My husband delightedly told me that Twitter was alight with people lampooning the “plan,” citing that it had snowed in Lithgow during the HSC last year. I pointed out that we’d had a bushfire during ours. It was a bit distracting when teachers came in and started collecting keys from my peers, so they could move the seniors’ cars before they all became potential bombs.

This is the view from my childhood bedroom window this morning. Quick, set up a desk and a chair and pass out the exam papers!

Closer to home we’ve had bucketing rain and gale-force winds. Thankfully, we had some trees trimmed and used a cherry-picker to take down our advertising banners at the Shoalhaven campus about ten days ago – right about the time lockdown was called.

Photo Credit: Leanne Windsor. NOT taken on campus.

Other than trying to disentangle the mixed messaging of the daily pressers, I’ve been extending my brain by undertaking some online professional development. I’ve done this through two main channels; one formal, and one informal.

First of all, I’ve enrolled in another short course from UNSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). I did one last year during my first WFH period, and the one I’m currently doing (Leading with Resilience) feels much more directly related to my role, so I may redo the budget and explore another option or two later in the year.

Apparently if you do enough short courses you can “stack” them into a certificate. I’m not sure whether I’m keen enough to pursue this option, but I love that it is there.

I’m also currently doing an AGSM leadership course that’s free to alumni, so while they overlap this week and it’s a bit busy, they kind of also fit in well together. The latter has probably ten times more people in it and the synchronous classes are in the evening, so it feels a lot more chaotic than our boutique little one where there are fewer than thirty of us and I’ve probably chatted to most people via breakout room by now.

Apparently resilience largely comes from all the things we’ve been told to do since forever, like eating and sleeping properly, and exercising, and showing ourselves some grace and taking an occasional break. With some actual references and neuroscience to back it up and the accountability of homework, however, I’m paying more attention than when it’s the fad de jour of a women’s magazine. A lifelong insomniac, I moaned about the data on sleep hygiene, because it’s not like I don’t *want* to sleep. Yet I did as I was told and started using a sleep monitoring app. Knowing it’s going to register if I faff around and don’t turn it on until midnight has made a difference. And much to my surprise as someone who rolls my eyes every time the spousal unit talks about meditation or chattering monkeys, I was OK with the pre-sleep meditation loops on the app. I rationalised it away as I had been falling asleep to podcasts, so it was just different talking. And I quickly culled the creepy-sounding bloke for a nice female voice. I suspect I’ve never made it to the end of her reel. But I’ve slept through the entire night twice this week, which probably hasn’t happened since I was like, 5 years old. Or severely jetlagged.

I even managed to sleep through audible wild weather this week, which has not been a thing. Possibly ever.

The informal professional development is taking place in the form of SheMentors, which is a mentoring membership for women.

I’ll admit at first I was completely skeptical, having previously joined something similar that I’d first heard about at my Uni. You paid for each event, you were “matched” with a mentor and placed in a small group for a one-off chat. They also took place in Wollongong (more than an hour away) at 7am, so I had to be up VERY early to facilitate this. In my case, the mentor didn’t understand my context at all, and advised me to take some annual leave in order to meet a writing deadline. The one that is part of my job. She actually told me to use my leave to do my work when I was trying to hold that boundary in the kind of career where boundaries between professional and personal life are already incredibly blurry.

SheMentors and the alternative both involve a fee for mentoring, and at least one senior colleague at Uni was absolutely horrified by this, but I get that businesses need to get money to cover their costs, so I can find a way to live with that.

The cost structure is different at SheMentors. It’s a monthly subscription, so I’ve budgeted that in until the end of the year and will see how I’m going then. It costs what it used to cost me to be a member of a co/writing support group, until their plans and fees all changed. The monthly fee covers up to two mentor hours I book with women who have acumen in areas I’m developing, and I am expected to donate at least one in return. (Side note: I still have slots available for August. So if this is of interest to you–hit me up). There are also lunchtime webinars and social events. So far I’ve been to two of the former and I’m booked in for a new member coffee catch-up.

I’ve had one mentoring session and booked another (with the second mentor being a recommendation from the first, based on our conversation).

First mentoring session, with the lovely Deborah. Pre-lockdown.

So far, I’m finding it to be really helpful.

I’m still an introvert, but–as my classes keep telling me–growth happens just outside of the comfort zone.