Career

How Pregnancy Has Made Me More Productive

February 4, 2016

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I’m not someone who thrives on stress. I like taking my time with things. I pride myself on being organised and having systems in place to keep all the balls I juggle in the air. Five years ago when I first started seriously thinking about becoming Dr Mum I talked to my coach about what this would look like. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like to give things 100% – one hundred percent of the time. When I cook a meal, I want it to be an amazing and healthy meal. When I entertain I want ambience perfect. When I work, I need the work I produce to be at a level that I can be proud of. I’ve never thought of this as good or bad, it’s just me and how I work.

My coach smiled and suggested I started working on just focusing on giving 100% to something for a set amount of time. She gently reminded me that I couldn’t be the perfect wife, mother, and professional all at the same time. But when I was working I could be the best at my work. When I was with my husband I could focus on being entirely present and available and so on.

I’m now edging closer to having my baby and while I haven’t had a difficult pregnancy (it’s actual been quite the opposite) I am pregnant. That realisation has brought a sense of determinedness in me to really focus on what I’m doing. I can’t say that I’ve slowed down, I think I’ve accomplished more since finding out I was pregnant then the months before it. I jokingly say it’s all in an effort to baby proof my life!

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So what’s changed? 

  • I say no more often. It’s amazing how many little projects we say yes to. A 200 word guest post. An invitation to speak on something that could-kinda-maybe-remotely be made to fit our area of expertise. These are things that would just cause me a lot of grief to get done. I just said no.
  • I say yes more often. This probably sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But once I emptied my life of all the above busy stuff – the noise – I had the time and space to say yes to the things that brought me so much happiness and joy. Things I was truly happy to do, that when I sat to do it, took up almost no time and created no stress at all.
  • 100% to one thing at a time. I started doing this much more. When I was working I was completely working and not looking up baby clothes. When I was reading my baby a story,  I was there completely. When I ate I was mindful of the process. When I rested, I rested completely.

And just like that I’ve felt calmer, less tired and have been incredibly productive. I’m sure I would have come to these processes eventually but I think pregnancy provided that little nudge I needed to get there sooner. But let’s be realistic, the fear that in a few months I won’t have two hours to plan,photograph and write  my posts has scared me. Am I going to be too tired? How will I feel? What will the little one be like? This type of uncertainty and anxiety can be caused by a variety of changes to ones life – pregnancy just happens to be mine!

 

Magazine Cover

November 16, 2015

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I’ve been doing quite a lot of freelance writing of late. It has provided the perfect transition from my busy work schedule to easing into the pregnancy and fingers crossed motherhood next year. Not too long ago the tables were turned a little when the Publisher and Editor of Mai Life magazine, based out of Fiji, asked me to be on the cover of the October issue. It was nerve wrecking but in true Vanisha fashion, I said yes and then panicked later. Works like a charm that one! I’ve been such a huge advocate for storytelling but I suppose sometimes I get caught up in the work of encouraging storytelling that I forget that I’ve got a pretty great story to tell. As we all do.

The October issue came out a few weeks ago and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome. The Mai Life team treated my story with so much respect. The feedback from friends and strangers in Fiji has been encouraging. It’s one of the best things telling your story – the discussion, feedback and interaction that follows.

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The magazine is available all over Fiji and if you wanted to order a copy without subscribing to the entire magazine, the editor Wame Valentine (an absolutely wonderful human) is happy to facilitate. All you need to do is send him a quick email at editor {at}  mailife {dot} com {dot} fj and let him know where you’d like the magazine shipped to. He’ll let you know how much it’ll cost and help get a copy out to you.

You can find more of my writing here: Kindred Collective (e-magazine), Stella Magazine and of course Mai Life. Thank you everyone for your love, support and engaged yet constructive criticism x

In Conversation

August 5, 2015

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photo by kama catch me

“I had people tell me I didn’t look Indian, or ‘act’ Indian but no one taught me how an Indian girl should act. I was taught how a human being should act. Ethnicity wasn’t the first explanation we reached for to explain differences”

“I’m in constant competition. With myself. I don’t really compare myself to other people – not because I’m arrogant but because I don’t know their stories, their standards, and their challenges. It just seems unreasonable. Instead I compete with myself every single day”

Last week I sat down to a rather candid interview with fellow creative Arieta from Talanoa (the word talanoa is the Fijian, Samoan and Tongan word meaning to talk or discuss). What started out as just another interview gained so much positive response that Arieta and I have been left wondering what we could possibly do next to build on this. Before I get too carried away on the next steps I wanted to share this interview with my readers and my community. I talk about ethnicity and race issues, career and business as well as my journey. I think in part the response has been what it is because this is an aspect of my story that I hadn’t really shared. I hope you enjoy it and as always, I love your feedback (positive and constructive).

You can find the full interview here.

Let’s Talk About Mentoring

May 28, 2015

I’ve been offering mentoring services for over a year now and I’ve been doing it rather quietly. I think I’ve mentioned it on the blog once and a few more times on Instagram. One of the best things about blogging is that you get an amazing insight into the lives of others and this sustains and feeds our sense of curiosity. And what a curious bunch we are! Your support and curiosity into my work is humbling, that’s why in addition to answering all your questions I decided to talk about my mentoring program.

The quote above I feel gives you a snapshot of what mentoring is about. Through mentoring I’ve been able to help individuals strength their careers, establish and maintain routines and goals, develop productive lifestyles and grow their blogs and social media. Ultimately through mentoring I’ve been able to help individuals gain the confidence and skills to pursue and accomplish their dreams.  While many people are interested in the idea of mentoring the cost of mentoring and often the difficulty in finding upfront information on how much mentring costs acts as a hindrance to accessing the service.

Can you afford mentoring?

My chargers are set and simple. You pay for the sessions you need, when you need them. The first session is $75 for one hour. All the sessions thereafter are $50 for 45 minutes to an hour. I accept payment via Paypal and it is expected that the session is paid for beforehand. Current market rates for mentoring and coaching are roughly $180-$200 per session and there is an expectation to commit to a number of sessions upfront. I do not charge as much not because I don’t think I’m as qualified or skilled as other coaches and mentors but because I think the process of mentoring needs to become more accessible. My commitment to offering mentoring is driven by a passion and knowledge that mentoring can be an empowering, successful and rewarding process. Why shouldn’t more people have greater access to it?

In addition to how much mentoring costs, it’s important to consider if you can afford mentoring in terms of time. At this point in your life can you make the time for mentoring? Are you able to invest your time, space and resources into this process, and essentially into yourself and your development? Really think about if this is right for you at this point.

I’m excited to be sharing this with you, if you’re still curious or have questions about my pricing or if you need something catered specifically for you please feel free to get in touch! You can email me at vanisha at alifeunstyled dot com. I look forward to hearing from you and exploring the possibility of helping you along your journey x

Managing Career, Education and Passion

May 5, 2015

 
A year and five months after submitting my PhD and a little longer after finding out about my infertility I had to re-think a lot of goals and plans. I wanted to be Dr Mum and to be honest for the past year I’ve struggled to understand how I could be the Doctor without being the Mum. There was never a plan to be one without the other. Not because I feel I need my life to be defined by children but because it was a passion. A goal I aspired to – the way others would aspire to be an artist or surgeon. Working through that, over time, has helped me let go of the Mum part but its opened my eyes to the wider tensions and conflicts regarding who I want to be and the realisation that I wasn’t going to fit into any clear cut category.

I love research, the consultancy work I do and academic writing. These I felt fit together, they made sense to me (and the world around me). Last year I set up Making Connections Fiji the consultancy firm that I’ve always wanted to have. It utilised my academic achievements in a way that was deemed acceptable and almost expected. Having this business established is a big life goal achieved sooner than I thought I would be able to.

That I felt was easy – it was anticipated, a given almost. A greater tension lay in reconciling my career and education with this deep-seated interest in life and style blogging. Even while doing my PhD I saw these two pathways as being separate. There were almost two of me. The me that went to the office in the day and wrote up chapters, advised students and then the me who rushed from the office to get my hair and make-up done for some fashion show or event. I’ve kept them separate for the most part mainly because I hated having to respond to those raised eyebrows when people found out about the two different versions of the same me.

Lately, and I’m talking about the past month or two, I’ve seen my two worlds collide naturally. The achievements in one boosting my status in the other. My academic background enhancing the blogging opportunities that have come my way and the content and community created on my blog launching me into a platform that helps me extend the conversations of my academic interests. I know there are many people who still don’t get ‘it’ (it being what I do) but there is a great beauty in finally being able to own it and allow the two paths to intertwine and feed off each other. I embraced the realisation that my ‘jobs’ aren’t jobs – they are who I am. I can tell you it’s already becoming easier for me to get out of bed in the morning because I’m no longer having to put one Vanisha on hold while the other works. I wake-up and I can be me, entirely.

I’m sure we all have our own struggles and tensions between what we love and what we’re good at. I thought I’d share my journey because often what you see is perhaps someone who is doing it all. What hasn’t been as obvious were the tensions and the shifts in thinking (mostly the result to my two paths merging the way they have) necessary to get me to this point.

Have you had a similar struggle? Did your reconciliation take place somewhat naturally like mine did, or was it something you’ve had to more consciously work towards? 

Professionalism Through Poise

April 30, 2015

May – how quickly you’ve come around! This month is shaping up to be challenging. I’m going to be involved in projects that are exciting but alongside people with whom I wouldn’t normally work. It’s going to be a complete change of scene and without the calming influence of Patrick I’m worried. I’m quite a firecracker and it’s not often that I regret what comes out of my month but it sometimes makes me unpopular and I don’t really want that this month. Quotes are really helpful as little reminders of what we aspire to and I enjoy having them in my planner and little notebooks for different projects. This month I’m clutching desperately to this intention – professionalism through poise and grace. When you think of professionalism you don’t often think of the words poise and grace but I’m re-defining professionalism for myself. I plan and envision myself working on this project and with these people with a lot of humility, grace and poise. A gentle reminder that regardless of what I have achieved or what my skills are that professionalism speaks volumes and when in doubt – poise and grace. Just thinking about those words already help me settle the anxiety I feel about this month.

For all my new reader friends, this year instead of goals I’ve been working with monthly intentions, you can see all my intention posts here.

How do you deal with work or creative environments where you happen to be put with people you normally wouldn’t choose to work with? 

The Fear Of Being Forgotten

February 9, 2011

I used to worry about things quite a lot. Everything. Anything. I was constantly worried about things I couldn’t change. And I knew I couldn’t change them. But still. A lot has changed over the years. I let things go a lot now. Either that or I talk through things in my head or with Patrick (or my mum or my sister) straight away. Recently I also talk to Nicki who is the most amazing coach you could find. I’m still discovering new ways to make life calmer and more peaceful. I’m an avid reader of Rue magazine and in the most recent issue they have the cutest Worry Flashcards designed by Jess LC I fell in love with them and I’ve decided to give them a go!

This is a worry or perhaps a fear I’ve had since having to move to Canberra. I may have mentioned it here already. But I am deathly afraid that the 12 or so years of work that I’ve done in the country – beginning when I was 12 through voluntary work to just recently when I spent more time being involved in policy and everything in between voluntary and influencing policy – would be forgotten.  This played on my mind a lot before I moved.

I love what I do and I loved the small things that I had achieved at home. I was crazily in love with the students I worked with at USP and I didn’t want to leave. But I did. When I returned last month, I realized that I didn’t have that much to worry or fear. It was like I never left! People were still coming up and talking to me and reminding me of the work I had done with them previously!

In Taveuni a young man remembered me from a talk I gave on youth justice years ago! I met another gentleman who remembered me from the session I ran with P at the Pacific Youth Festival. It was the same in Suva, just hearing people say, ‘it’s so great you’re back’. Other people coming up and saying that they’ve been told to talk to me because of all the work I’ve done.

I couldn’t really do anything whilst I was in Australia. I continued my engagement with Fiji, but I couldn’t do anything about people forgetting me. Perhaps it’s something about your work speaking for itself? I don’t know. But I am so grateful. You really can’t imagine. I appreciate it all. Very much. Every day. Every moment. Now I can file this worry flashcard as a reminder of something that turned out well and as a reminder that nothing lasts – no great sorrow and no great happiness lasts forever.

What do you do to worry not? Patrick is probably the calmest person I know. He hardly ever worries about things, and when he does, he talks to himself, he reasons with himself and then convinces himself that way that there’s nothing to worry about. But I guess it’s each to his own.

So worry not worry wart….

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