A card of sincerity…

As I sit here writing my blog (which has just taken a dramatic topical turn), my partner is attempting to write a card for the wedding we are attending this afternoon.

He wants to write something that sounds, and is sincere. For weddings I find this difficult. The typical lines slot their way into the heart felt card, which manages to remove all sincerity:

You make a beautiful couple.

Thank you for choosing to share your wedding day with us.

We are so excited to be part of your special day.

You certainly have luck on your side with the perfect weather… not that you need it!

Here’s cheers to a fabulous future.

Blah blah blah.

 

Even if you do really mean the words within these corny lines, they devalue themselves as they have been overworked. Maybe I have just attempted to write too many wedding cards lately.

I have never been on the receiving end of the wedding card train, but if I feel like this writing the card, I can only imagine the monotony of having to read it 100 times over. I do not intend to be a cynical unwed lass, I just like things that are unique, from the heart and with character. And it is difficult to capture that in the congratulations-on-your-wedding spiel.  A home-made card usually  helps tone it down… but today we left our run a little late.  Maybe instead we can whip up a wedding rap or something… time to work on the card. We have to earn the afternoon at the winery. Yeehaa.

Keeping life interesting… and weird.

I like culture. I like quirk. I like things that are a little different. But putting Pumpkin Pie Spice flavouring in your coffee – that’s just weird. And then selling individual sachets of the stuff, well that’s just plain rude to Mr Coffee bean himself.  But hey, each to their own. It keeps life interesting. I love vegemite. Mmmmm the sweet, salty smell of a black yeast mixture.

 

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

Why moving back in with the parents is a great thing.

It now seems to be one of those things. That today’s generation are moving out of home later and later. And when they finally do – they often come back. Four of my good friends, all 29, are currently living with their parents. All for various reasons, and some of them for no particular reason at all. Just because. I am not one to judge as over the past 7 years since I moved out of home the first time round, I have had numerous stints back in the nest. But I am glad that I have a reason to be living the good life and kicking it with the oldies.

So I wanted to share 5 great reasons why parents make the best house mates:

1. Good conversation over dinner

I love to have a good chat. Not only a gossip over a cup of tea but also that quality, real world debate around the dinner table. Living with the parents at an age where you can participate, have an opinion and actually know how to fully express your ideas means you can really enjoy polishing off the bottles of red with mum and dad. Which takes me to my next point…

2. Refining the palette 

No cheap and nasty vino in the house. Always a good bottle opened, often pre-2002. Who does’t want to come home to nice wine? Can’t argue with that.

3. Responsible house mates

No dirty dishes left till morning. Take it in turns to do the food shopping. Everything is shared and everything gets replaced. There is less of the child-parent thing and more of the general understanding and appreciation for each others company thing .

4. Fresh sour dough bread

Now this one is a winner. My dad has bread making in his blood. Although sometimes a little bit of a stressful process – looking after the base, the double rise, the 6am knead, abusing the oven settings… it is all worth it when you get fresh sour dough with vegemite for breakfast. Hard to beat really.

5. Great relationship

Family are important. We all know that. And as you get older, quality time with the parents is sometime hard to find. Sometimes an opportunity to move back home is a great thing. A chance to reconnect on the small day-to-day things in your life, not just the big ticket news-worthy items. A chance to actually see just how similar you are to you mum and dad and often why you turned out just the way you did.

People often cringe when I say I have moved back home. But I think I am lucky. Not only lucky to have great parents that want me, and my partner of 5 years around. But also lucky to have a chance to connect with them as adults and as friends. If you buy a house, that needs a little love and renovation, then you should try it too.

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

Why being a little lost can be better than striving for goals.

It’s usually all about setting goals and achieving those goals. Not letting them change, and doing what you have to do to get there. I am one who likes goals. Likes accomplishment and is driven by a known challenge. This is all well and good when the environment around you is predictable. And also when that predictability is considered a good thing. So what about when we live in a dynamic environment and want to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that it presents.  And the evolving culture of this environment is the very motivating factor to play in the space, like digital and social for example. Where if we are too focussed on our goals we may miss a better option.

How can we make sure we still lead the pack when we are not quite sure where we are going?

Change is opportunity

With no defined course, just one that is striving for success, you can not be thrown off track. Instead you are only presented with additional choices that you could choose to ignore or turn into an opportunity. I did try to put it into my own words but our scholarly friend John Schaar summed it up much better than me.

    ‘The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.’ 

Flexibility is more than nimble hamstrings.

The ability to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves requires absorbing and adapting to change. This means switching direction without creating a tidal wave of clutter around you. Having less loose ends, unanswered emails, and dirty washing. So that we are not too busy sorting out our ‘stuff’ to notice an opportunity when it comes along.

So I think it is good to be a little lost and not know exactly what you are after. That way you won’t miss something great if it comes along because you are too focussed on where you want to get too.

I think I am a good example of this. Often considered a little erratic with a confused career path. I moved through a bachelor of science and a bachelor of commerce, into an online startup for a couple of years, trading that in for two years of travel, back for a soul destructing session in a satellite company, into non-profit for a few years, dabbling in a masters of international development, and now working in the most exciting enterprise social network company yet. So although it may sound like I am not going anywhere in particular, perhaps instead I am going everywhere. I was never really lost. I was really just keeping my eyes open for opportunity. Sounds pretty good to me.

 

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

How to have a perfect Sunday in San Francisco.

My first full day in San Francisco. Perfect weather. Perfect coffee. Perfect vehicles. Perfect views. And a Sunday. No complaints.

So I thought I would pull it all together as a blog post incase anyone wants to repeat my perfect Sunday in San Fran.

Wake up…

To a beautiful morning looking out over the city. I was staying at Parc 55 Wyndham on the 24th floor. Superb view.

Breakfast at Farm:Table

A great little (well tiny) place full of character, serving fresh food, an always changing menu and lovely coffee. A short stroll from the hotel, Farm:Table was the perfect place to read my book and enjoy breakfast on the single, shared wooden table with bench seats. I had a ham and cheese brioche which was crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and mighty tasty.

Catch the cable car

Yep, you feel like a tourist but there is definite joy in that. Stand on the side with the limbs hanging in the fresh air, let out a few woohoos, and take in the views as you go up and down the hilly city. You finish up at Fishermans Wharf the perfect place to switch your transport wheels for a bike.

Are you ready to ride the bridge?

That is the question all the bike hire people ask when you walk past. Cringe yes. But in my full sense of Sunday tourist, I said ‘hell yeah’. Then cruised out of there with a bike that said hire all over it and an extremely sans-cool helmet (which went missing for the photos…).

They give you a map and all. Out along the beach, up and over the Golden Gate Bridge, and down to Sausalito for a panini and iced coffee in the sun. Lovely.

Now that is an impressive tree.

There is an extra hour long detour that takes you out to Old Mill Park which has some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world. A beautiful forest of Redwoods which tower above you making you feel insignificant yet protected, which is confusingly comforting.

Little Tiburon

An hour on from the forest, through some back streets and along a meandering foreshore bike path is Tiburon. A town full of luxurious weatherboard houses painted seaside pastels. Very sweet. And if I hadn’t have been on a mission to make the 2.30 pm ferry I could have easily sat at one of the restaurants looking back across the water to San Francisco and alcoholically sipped the afternoon away.


A ferrytale ride home

A three hour ride over and a 30 minute ride back for me and my bicycle on the ferry. Great views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city as you sit on the top deck, take it all in and eat the second half of your panini which you wrapped up from lunch.

Ethical shopping

Paying $30 for postage sort of defeats the purpose of ethical shopping with TOMS. So a quick stop to pick up two pairs of TOMS shoes, which makes four pairs, as two go to someone who really needs some shoes on their feet. Lovely to fit some shopping into the day and even better when you can feel good about it. Nice.

Finish off with a coffee at Four…. Barrels

A cafe that pumps out the coffees… in the best manner ever. A great soft-cornered-industrial set up with baroque inspired bike racks and public bench seating out the front, which catches the afternoon sun. The perfect place to finish my perfect sunny Sunday in San Francisco.

Thanks to @rosshill and @katyste for sharing their wisdom on where to go in San Francisco. Strike rate of 100%. You guys are great 🙂

For the month of March I am writing a blog post every day as part of #b03. Thanks to Steve for the challenge.

The beauty (and regret…) of a stereotype

I like things with character. A tad crooked, a touch mismatch, a little out of the ordinary or a cause for surprise. I like people who break stereotypes and public thank yous for tray mats. Yep. Strange hey. But that’s what Virgin Australia have done. A brand that regularly breaks the mould and sparks character throughout their communications.

On my flight to San Francisco today, I found this unique, intriguing and chuckle worthy and so wanted to share it with you (click it & you should be able to read it).

I also feel ashamed that I purchased a starbucks coffee (no capital ‘S’ intentional – undeserving)… an overnight flight from Melbourne and a four hour stop over in LA. It was an emergency. Without wanting to I am already conforming to the American stereotype. Devastated Sarah feeding the beast 😦

So to help get it off my chest I needed to share that with you too.

 

 

 

Time travel: Tripping with Buddies.

As part of #b03 I have signed my March away to blogging every day. And as a little jet setter I am now in a pickle. If I am about to get on a plane to San Francisco and essentially have Saturday twice, do I blog before I go on the ‘real’ Saturday or when I land? And what should I do when I come back and completely lose a Sunday. Do the ultimate faux-pas and set my post to go live while I am sitting in the air sipping champagne (I wish! I will be kicking it with the plebs in cattle class) or fail and miss a day? Confusing.

So while this whirlwind was happening in my head I decided that I would post two great tools that I am using to solve my pickle and make sure I am on time for my flights.

World time buddy

A superb site, with a simple interface that shows & compares times all around the world. A new best buddy for international phone calls and trying to figure out when you should blog. Pop over to World Time Buddy.

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Tripit

A site that wraps up all your travel arrangements into a nice little package and delivers them straight to your phone. Once you have set up your account all you have to do is forward your itineraries to plans@tripit.com and shebang inputs your flight, reservation number and seat number all into the app. It even links your hotel reservations with the flights and then shows directions from the airport to your hotel. Amazing. It is so great that I don’t want to think about it too much incase it stops working. Trip out over Tripit.

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Happy travels.

How to make it all work in India… or not?

I am currently reading How to Make it All Work by David Allen. Only half way through so still digesting how to best harness my intuition, spontaneity and serendipity. But it has definitely got me thinking. I wonder also how it applies in various cultural environments… and if it is relevant. I recently wrote a paper as part of my Masters in International & Community Development on cross-cultural communication looking specifically at Australia and India. Two contrasting cultural environments, where the approach to task completion  and how to get things done is strikingly different.

There are numerous theoretical models which exist and can be applied to explain the existence of the different cultural values. I wanted to share this section from my research report on one of these – the idea of polychronic versus monochronic cultures – which determines how you approach various tasks. It compares the different approaches to learning to drive.

Polychronic and monochronic value orientations

Edward Hall, American anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher proposed the idea of a continuum in time orientation to explain the different approach to completing activities. He observed that differences in space utilisation and the priorities given to human relationships over task accomplishment vary with monochronic and polychronic cultural orientations. A monochronic culture has a linear and structured way of thinking and emphasises task completion. At the opposite end of the spectrum is a polychronic culture in which ‘people change plans, borrow and lend things more frequently, emphasize relationships rather than tasks and privacy, and build long-term relationships with family members, friends and business partners’ (Bluedorn et al).

The Indian culture typically illustrates a polychronic orientation, and Australia a monochronic orientation (Dodd 1998). The different approaches to driving in each culture as presented by my colleague Tarun and also by my mother, perfectly illustrate the contrasting orientations:

When I learnt to drive in India I was told never to leave a gap because someone else would take it. And to always blow my horn so then people know I am there. When I came to Australia I thought this is the way it is suppose to be. But it is boring. People only drive in straight lines. When I returned to India, it took me a month to build the confidence to drive again. It was crazy..

This experience shared by Tarun illustrates a learned polychronic orientation and then a shock when place in a monochronic environment. This is the mirror image of my mother’s recollection of driving in India, where she experienced cultural shock in taking her monochronic orientation to a polychronic environment:

We drove out of the airport and turned onto a newly laid freeway. There were three lanes meant for each direction with a dividing concrete strip down the middle. But no-one took any notice – of the direction or the lanes. There were buses and trucks going well over 100k an hour and a buffalo drawn cart coming the wrong way up the freeway. Everyone was swerving and tooting. There were cows sleeping in the middle of the road. We just went around them. And then all of a sudden the new freeway stopped. No signs of warning. We just did a sharp right hand turn and were on a dirt road. Amazing.

At this stage (100 pages in), I am unsure how David Allen’s approach would work with/in the Indian culture. Good food for thought. On that note. It’s lunch time.

Why would I blog every day in March? #b03

I have always been attracted to challenges. Whether it be run a marathon, cook a Jamie Oliver meal in 30 minutes, read Anna Karenina (now that was a looong book) or blog for 31 days straight. I am there. I will aim to straggle over the line with respect and a little impressiveness and then I will relax, reflect and wonder why I did it, how I could have done it better, and what I got out of it.

So I thought I would post what I hope to get out of the challenge (instigated by @stevehopkins & encouraged by @bryonycole) of blogging for 31 days straight.

Connected

To my environment. To my thoughts. To the constant change in my life. To the other 42 people blogging for the 31 days of March.

Challenged

To share something worthwhile every day. To channel my thoughts into something that doesn’t only sound good in my head. To post at midday, every day, for 31 days.

Slightly overwhelmed

There is a fine balance between being overwhelmed and underwhelmed. Somewhere in between is where energy for great ideas and the momentum to get things done collide. I hope I land there with this challenge.

Empowered

To post my thoughts, opinions, beliefs and values out in the public for response, debate and to sit there quietly unread too.

So day 1 down. Feeling connected, challenged, slightly overwhelmed and empowered. I like this blog-a-thon already.