26 April 2015

On A Year And A Bit of Saying Sure, Why Not?

When we first moved back to Australia eighteen or so months ago I was feeling a bit lost. It was partly the standard dislocation and general weirdness that is a normal part of the repatriation process. But is was also partly something more.

Living in Seoul I legally wasn't allowed to work. So I dabbled in things here and there. I explored on foot and took lots of photos and wrote lots of words. I read and embroidered and did loads of paper craft. I always had projects on the go; I was never bored. And there was never any pressure to get a job, to go to work. My spouse visa wouldn't let me, but more than that people just accepted that as an expat wife my role was focussed on supporting the family and that was as it should be. But then we moved back home and suddenly everyone was always asking - sometimes tentatively, sometimes expectantly - Are you going back to work? 

Let's rewind a little. Before we moved overseas, I worked. Since my first 'proper' job in a bookstore at 16-ish I've worked. I've always wanted independence, I've always wanted to be self sufficient, I've always wanted to do well. Then we moved overseas and I stopped working and at first it was a bit scary, but after a year or so I adjusted and it was ace. It was fun to devote my time to my husband and step-sons, and to the house and the dogs. It was fun to have spare time for crafting and reading and blogging. And I appreciated it for the luxury it was.

But then we moved back home and it felt different. It felt like I should do something more with my time, with my life - and not just because people were telling me I should. I felt it too. I just didn't know what that something was. I knew what I didn't want to do - return to full time corporate work - but I didn't have a clear idea of what I did want to do. I was a bit confused about it all.

Within a few months of landing back in Australia, while all this was just starting to swirl about in my head, I found myself at ProBlogger. It was wonderful and fun and I met so many ace people. It was exciting and motivating, and completely utterly terrifying. I kept having these ridiculous circular conversations with myself that followed one of two themes:

Theme one: There's some things I think I'm pretty good at and I should totally dive in and just do those things, but - what if in reality I completely and utterly suck at those things? Let's face it, I have no f**king idea what I'm doing... 

Theme two: There's some things I think I'm pretty good at, but I'm in the ridiculously lucky position of not needing to make money so why should I feel the need to enter the marketplace, with all the pressure and stress and potential corruption of ideals that it may entail? Why can't I just enjoy life and employ my skills in non money making ways? Isn't ambition just thinly veiled vanity? A desperate need for outside approval? 

As you can imagine, neither were productive lines of thought.

And then Voices of 2014 happened. Some lovely person (I know who you are and I'm so very grateful!) nominated my little blog, and somehow I made it through to the top forty in the personal category. And because of that a few emails came my way - invitations to PR events and sponsor challenges. And I still had no idea what I wanted to do, and those circular arguments were still swirling about in my head, but I just started saying yes. I figured I'd see where things went, see what felt right. I figured I'd cross the river by feeling the stones beneath my feet (thanks for that one, Deng Xiaoping).

So I said yes to some fantastic freebies and to some things I put cold hard cash behind. I said yes to blogger brunches and photography workshops. I finally said yes to a Photoshop class, and a pretty intensive weekend learning all about freelance writing (both worth every penny). I said yes to Facebook groups and Instagram and real life meet-ups.

I thought that maybe saying yes would help me figure out what I wanted to do. And it has. After a year and a bit of saying sure, why not? I'm definitely more certain about a few things.

Firstly, I'm clearer about why I want to make some money. I know that in the grand scheme of things I'll never contribute to the family finances in a meaningful way (I contribute much more in other ways). But I want to have enough cash to pay for a camera lens, or a magazine subscription, or to buy that dress that I really don't need, or to cover the cost of upgrading my flight to Europe (that's what I'm working towards right now!). It might all sound frivolous and silly, but it gives me a strange peace of mind. It means something, to me.

Secondly I'm much clearer about how I want to make money. And it's not through my blog, at least not directly anyway. It's through freelance writing, and photography, and collaboration, and through saying yes to very select opportunities that do come my way thanks to Good Things*.

And I've realised just how much doing things leads to doing other things. I've realised how little actions that may not feel like much at the time can lead to opportunities down the track. Sometimes way down the track.

And all of this has lead to where I'm currently at. I'm writing six posts a month on this blog which was my intention at the start of the year (yay me!); I've been nominated for Voices of 2015 (thank you, whoever you are!); I'm writing for the Threadless blog (I'm working on a post or three for them this weekend, actually); I've hit 24 sales in my Etsy store; and I've just submitted a 4000-ish word article - with photos - for one of my favourite magazines (my first properly paid commission, and the editor loves it! Yippee!). I've also recently submitted a paid-in-kind interview with one of my favourite illustrators for a fabulous little magazine; plus I'm in the midst of organising a trial run as a contributing photographer (yes, a paid position!) for a website I've long enjoyed (really hope I can pull that one off...). Oh, and I'm a finalist in the mobile category at the Head On Photo Festival.

I know that not all of these things will work out (and yes part of me is scared to publish this post in case it all goes to s**t). I know that next month may not be quite as awesome and opportunity filled as this one. I know that I'll have to work hard and stay focussed and keep thinking and planning and pitching if I want to continue writing. But right now it feels like there are some pretty ace things afoot, some pretty ace things indeed!

I still don't really know what the f**k I'm doing (does anyone?), but I reckon I'll keep saying yes for a little while longer.


  1. Yay!!! This is so awesome! I'm so excited for you for all the cool things you have going on!

    1. Awww thanks Dannielle! It's been a long road (you'd know, you've been with me for most of it!) - I'm just trying to appreciate the good stuff as and when it happens :)

  2. Love what you do with this blog Em, also love the way you've outlined your philosophy and progress since returning to Australia. Go well with your projects. Harold

    1. Thanks Uncle Harold! It's so nice to know people are out there reading my words and cheering me on. x

  3. go for it Em, love the crossing the river by feeling one pebble at a time, and crossing a rocky river means you will slip sometimes but I am sure you will find your balance again. The quote Catherine Deveny uses is from Theodore Roosevelt - Fail While Daring Greatly, so keep on daring......

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! And thank you for all your support and encouragement, it means a lot x


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