Saturday, March 25, 2017

4 tips for managing those over-whelming times in your life


A couple of years ago I was going through a period where I couldn't see the woods for the trees. I was feeling so over-whelmed, I could barely put one foot in front of the other. In an attempt to sort myself out, I joined a free six week coaching program called NewAccess, delivered by Beyond Blue.

It was a really useful process. It wasn't that I learned anything new, and what the coach passed on wasn't rocket science. However, taking time out to consider what I do and how I do it was very beneficial, and helped me to get moving again. And in the eight weeks following the coaching program I was accepted onto a MBA program, gained my nurse registration in New Zealand and Australia, and applied for long term residency in Australia!

Here's four things that I found to be really beneficial in overcoming that feeling of being overwhelmed, and getting moving again.

1. Break down activities into small, individual tasks
At my worse, I could barely come up with a shopping list, let alone start anything as complicated as applying for my Australian residency. However, by breaking down all the tasks into manageable activities, and then ticking them off, I was able to work my way through what needed to be done. And each time I ticked off an activity, the satisfaction of completing something increased my confidence.

2. Put individual tasks into your calendar
Writing a list is one thing, but getting the tasks done on the list is another. I found that scheduling tasks in my calender's helped me to manage my time and incentivized me. I found it a lot more difficult to ignore pop-up calendar reminders than lists that may end up in the rubbish bin.

3. Give yourself small personal goals to achieve
The beauty of giving yourself small goals to achieve is that when you achieve them, they give you a real boost and build your confidence, making you to want to move on. The trick is not to give yourselves large, unrealistic goals because you can set yourself up to fail, and this only compounds your difficulties.

For example, you decide to go for an hour's walk every day of the week. But you might actually be better off setting yourself a goal of two walks a week, or a walk every day but for 10 minutes, rather than an hour.  Then you can build the size and commitment of your goals as you increase your confidence and capacity.

4. Live a healthier life
I know this has been said time and time again, but it does make a difference! Get rid of all the crap food, booze, smoking and other unhealthy stuff that physically impacts on your mental health.

Get regular exercise and eat healthy food.  My favorite thing is to go for a walk and listen to an audio book as I go. It gets me out into the fresh air, allows me to relax, and gives me space to collect my thoughts and re-group for the next few hours or days.

What are your top tips for overcoming those times when you feel unable to move forward? What works for you, and why?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Have your say! Consultation on the new Australian Maternity Services Framework


A pubic consultation is now open on the new Australian Maternity Services Framework. It's imperative that anyone with a stake in maternity; midwives, women, families, nurses, other words...everyone....has their say! 

The 2010-2015 Maternity Services Plan came to an end a while ago.  A lot of good ideas and actions were embedded in the Plan, such as a commitment to midwifery continuity of care and support of Birthing on Country. There have been some successes, but we still have an incredible amount of work to do to address such outcomes as caesarean section rate of over 30%; twice the mortality rate of indigenous babies compared to non-indigenous babies, and suicide is still a leading cause of maternal mortality.   

One of my concerns with this new document is that it is a "framework" and not a plan. This means that the government outlines a "vision" and "principles" but abdicates the responsibility for implementation and evaluation back to the states and territories. This will lead to further inconsistency and inequities around Australia, which increases risk to the maternity services.

I am pleased to see that cultural safety and woman-centred care are key principles, but continuity of midwifery care is not identified as an enabler despite very strong, high level evidence that it makes a considerable difference to clinical outcomes. There is a brief mention of continuity of midwifery care toward the end of the Framework, and no talk of 'birthing on country' at all, which is very disappointing. 

My overall impression is that the Framework is very focused on screening for and preventing medical complications, which is right and proper, but lacks a more holistic, community approach to improving care for women and their families. 

Have you reviewed the Framework? What do you think? What do you think the Framework does well, and what additions would you like to see?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How to be a wedding MC

The other day I had the great privilege and pleasure to be MC at a wedding of two beautiful young people. I have to admit I was very nervous because I didn't really any idea what a wedding MC did. Back in the day, we never had MCs, and any formalities were generally managed by the best man.

So, based on my experience, here are eight top tips for being a wedding MC, in no particular order.

1. Be prepared
The wedding MC is responsible for making sure the program runs to plan. Therefore, it is worth having a written time line of events; who is doing what and when, and running over things with the wedding couple before the day. That way you'll know all the little idiosyncrasies, and be able to act when time lines drift, or unexpected problems arise.

2. Get to know the key players
By key players, I don't so much mean the wedding party, but rather the people behind the scenes such as the photographer, catering and venue managers, bar keeper and anyone else responsible for providing services. That way you can keep an eye on how the day is unfolding; liaise with appropriate personnel, and be the conduit between the wedding party and the service staff.

3. Stick to time frames
There's nothing worse than a wedding reception that drags on and on, especially when proceedings are holding up the food. So keep your introductions and instructions short and sweet; make sure the speeches stick to time; and do what ever you can to keep everyone on track.

4. You don't have to be a stand-up comedian
The MC does not have to be a comedian, although you'll probably be asked because you are a confident and personable pubic speaker. Your role is to facilitate proceedings, not to be persistently cracking jokes. The risk is that the jokes you tell will offend least one person, which can put a dampener on things. And as one wedding planner said, if the wedding party want a stand-up comedian, they should hire one!

I would suggest that you plan a script if you are not a confident public speaker. That will keep you to time, and make sure you don't wonder off into more controversial territory. Let others get themselves into trouble; not you!

5. Get to know the venue and equipment
It's really worth checking out the venue beforehand so you know where important locations are such as toilets and fire escapes. Also, know where to go behind the scenes, like the kitchen, in case there's problems you need to sort out. It's also worth knowing about venue policies such as smoking and alcohol licensing restrictions. Similarly, make sure you have checked all equipment like the microphone to make sure it works, and give yourself time to fix faulty equipment before the wedding starts.

6. Stay sober!
My nervousness was further aggravated by the grooms telling me that I had been "employed" to be MC because I was very funny. What I don't think they fully appreciated was that I am only really funny when I am tipsy. But, getting drunk is not an option when you are a wedding MC!

7. Get to know people
It's great fun getting to know everyone at the wedding and hearing about their connections to the wedding party. As MC you can help people to enjoy themselves; encourage them to get involved; introduce them to other attendees and help break the ice; and if nothing else, drag people up onto the dance floor.

8. Have fun!
I had a lovely time at the wedding and really appreciated the opportunity to celebration the union of two people in love. However, I did feel the responsibility quite strongly and didn't really relax until after my role had come to an end. But if you get too nervous, your performance will be stilted and won't flow. So, relax...enjoy yourself...and believe in yourself, the same way the newly weds believe in you!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I am a nurse again!

After all these years of midwifery, I have reactivated my nurse registration.

I am bucking the trend in Australia because an increasing number of midwives are letting go of their nurse registration. This is because of a number of reasons, not least because midwives do not identify as nurses, and do not want to have to maintain two sets of regulatory requirements.

You could be forgiven for wondering how on earth I have managed to register as a nurse when I have such a prominent midwifery role. I have to say that it was a lot easier than I thought because so much of what I do in my day job can also be applied to nursing.

I don't have any plans to dash off and become the next Florence Nightingale. But I do think it's handy to have my nursing registration up my sleeve in case I ever decide to do something different one day, like work in a rural or remote area of Australia.

Are you a midwife who also has a nurse qualification? Have you maintained your nurse registration, or let it go?  How easy is it to maintain two professional registrations in your country?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Coaching. An effective way to adddess work-life pressures?

 BeyondBlue is an Australian organisation that addresses depression and mental health issues. One of the recent initiatives it has released is the NewAccess coaching service. This is a six week coaching service offered to people who wish to devise mechanisms and solutions to deal with particular work-life pressures or issues.

I enrolled into this program a few weeks ago and have one session left. I decided to take part because it's a free service - yes, I am that shallow! -  and I thought it would be interesting to access a coaching service. I have spent many years looking at mentoring and trying to tease out what the difference is between mentoring, coaching, preceptorship and counseling. I hoped that by receiving coaching I would be able to further tease out what is involved, and how it may be beneficial for professional development.

I decided to focus on how to better manage my work-life commitments. If the conversations I have with friends and colleagues are any thing to go by, this is a problems that many of us face. I'll talk a little more about what I learned in my next post.

I have found the program to be immensely beneficial. I talk to my coach by phone - we've never met in person. The 30 minutes or so that we've spent together have given me time out to think about the changes I can make to my life, and how to better manage my commitments. Whilst my coach has lent me a sympathetic ear, she has also given me strategies to try out in my life. None of it has been rocket science, or even stuff that I didn't already know.  But I have found it very useful to have someone to be accountable to, and have the coach layer out activities for me week by week which has helped me see the wood for the trees.

The only problem with NewAccess is that it has limited availability in Australia.

I would certainly recommend the program to people who have access; in Adelaide, Canberra and New South Wales.  I have enjoyed having a coach who I have found to be someone who not only listens to my issues but also offers me ideas about how to manage those issues effectively.

This experience has certainly opened my eyes to the benefits of coaching, and I am going to look at how I can continue to access coaching in the new year. The only snag to professional coaching services that I can see, is the expense.

Have you ever received coaching for work? How did you find it?

Image - Kim Paulin:



Friday, December 4, 2015

Trying out telephone coaching to help me lose weight

Having admitted that I have terrible trouble losing weight and keeping it off, I am back on the weight loss tread mill.

I have gone back to Weight Watchers but this time I am using their weekly phone coaching service. I chose this methodology because I couldn't be bothered to go to the weekly classes - not a good sign!?  And WW were having a sale, so it wasn't too expensive when I signed up.

I have been at it for a month and enjoying this service. I get a 10 minute call every week and also have access to the online tracking system which can also be accessed via my phone.

To be honest, I don't find the content of the coaching that helpful. You can't really achieve much dialogue in 10 minutes. But I am finding it motivating having to account to someone every week. And the mobile app is great for keeping track of what I eat and do.

The plan that I have signed up for lasts for 3 months. I am not sure what I'll do when it runs out.

But in the meantime, I think it will be really useful to keep me on the straight and narrow over Christmas.

 What motivation do you use for keeping fit and healthy?

Photo - Billy Brown:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Suffragette" - Has the battle really been won?

I went to the see the film "Suffragette" the other day with my daughter.

The story is about Maud, who is a working class woman who becomes embroiled in the fight for women's right to vote in the early 1900s in the UK.

On the whole, I thought the film was overly long and a surface once-over look at this time in history. But having said that, it was good to see the story from the working class point of view, for a change.

The value for me of the film is that it reminds us of the fight for suffrage, both historical and today. For example, my daughter didn't know about Emily Davison and how she lost her life for the cause at the 1913 Darby.

But at the same time, it made me sad because I wander how much women have gained. We still do not have parity in wages. Women in Australia are being killed by their partners at an alarming rate. In some parts of the world, women do not have the right to vote, and in other parts of the world they are sexual and economic slaves.

I wonder what Emily Davis would say about women in today's world. Would she think her sacrifice was worth it?

Monday, November 30, 2015

'Make my day' - a day of my life in Canberra

Over the last couple of weeks I have taken part in a Canberra project called 'Make my day'. 'Make my day' is a Design Canberra project organised by Kate Shaw.

The aim of the project was for participants to take photos during their day every couple of hours. Kate collated the photos to make a shared story of how Canberra defines participants and how the participants defined Canberra. The final product was displayed in an exhibition last weekend in Northbourne Street.

I submitted photos from Friday 20th and Sunday 22nd November. My favorite photo was taken first thing on Sunday of a pair of shoes that a girl had left lying on the pavement from the evening before - I hope they weren't too expensive.

It was fascinating to see all the photos put into themes and made into a giant mosaic. 
Canberra clearly is a very busy place, and at the same time means so many different things to different people.

I expected to see many glossy "posed" Instagram photos, but was pleasantly surprised to see very ordinary pictures which felt so much more authentic.

Canberra get a bum rap from many people who pass by, but to those of us who live here, Canberra is a vibrant place with many faces.