LUV so far.

**a really long post**

June 2017

I am going to be doing a project.

Motivation

My motivation, I have been told and or asked numerous times; why do I write? it seems a waste of time! Why do you think that anyone would be interested in what you have to say?, there are millions of blogs on the internet why would anyone want to read yours?, what’s the point if you’re not getting paid?, why would anyone pay your to write?, there are millions of writers in the world you need to be really kick ass to get paid!, why bother studying professional writing and publishing, it’s seems like one of those useless degrees that you’re not going to get a job out of!. The final straw was, when a person close to me said, they looked at my record of results for the subjects that I had completed for the professional writing and publishing degree, and I was failing because it said I had all “d’s”. Without falling into tears and giving into the slice in my heart they just caused, I explained dejectedly that “d” is for distinction and that on the next page was a “hd” – high distinction. I stood at my Euromaid oven and watched the blue flame heat the bottom of the kettle and the more the water boiled, the more my blood started to boil, when it finally screamed I felt as though I need to do the same. Instead I thought outside the box and decided to see if I could be paid to write, to show that my “d’s” and “hd’s” are paying off.

Further motivation: Sharing in women’s stories creates a sense of community, a sisterhood, women come to recognise their own value, and our narratives display our differences and our similarities. It’s a recording of female history. Healing and understanding occur from voicing our experiences, and we can see ourselves reflected in others. Reading other female experiences helps us to see our own potential, it builds feminine identity and shows us how other women live their female life.

Why else? Well, to show, that we interested in reading about women who open their heart and share, to prove a point that people are willing to pay for beauty to be created. To share the love.

I sent my thoughts to a writer, author and generous lady on a little Greek island called Sifnos. I discovered Daphne when I clicked “download now” on 100 days of Solitude, her new book that I found on my kindle app on the smart phone that I have. I finished the book and wanted to interview Daphne for my #sistertribe interviews on my blog. She kindly agreed and we had a 45 minute conversation on Skype. She was on a Greek island and I was in Australia. I had found a kindred spirit, Daphne like me needs solitude to be able to function, while also needing conversations and connections that matter. I had known this connection with her deep within the screen of my kindle app but she didn’t know me at all and was open and honest, comfortable and with a complete stranger.

My Greek friend replied to my email with

Hi Melinda!

I love it and I think you should do it! 

I mean that’s not all she wrote, she took the time to offer valued advice and suggestions. I took her information and recommendations and reviewed the plan.

I read an article that I haven’t been able to find again. It was about trusting your journey and following the breadcrumbs that will lead you to your goal. That is how I am trying to stay on the path of this project – follow the breadcrumbs. If the breadcrumbs thin out or I am not feeling it in my heart. I stop and try and find more breadcrumbs – I am getting frustrated that this project will take forever to kick off.

I tweaked the plan, researched, looked for breadcrumbs and decided on Patreon as the platform. I read reviews, explored the website, and started preparing for my project to take off in this creative space. I think I am researching it too much and just need to do it. My heart doesn’t seem to be in it though. I know the look that I am going for, I know that I want to earn money from this and that I want a whopping audience. Patreon seems to offer all of that but I have the feeling that I have followed the wrong breadcrumb, Patreon at this stages seems too ambitious, I don’t have the audience to follow me here and it doesn’t feel like my domain.

July was spent imagining the potential of this project, the winter month passed with me discussing the merits of this project on my days off work and the few hours in the mornings after school drop off and before getting ready for work, building the courage to know that I have the ability to fashion a space where stories will be told. Where healing can occur after splitting open festering wounds, and the lessons learned from the experience is an education that will be cultured from voice, where women are celebrated for their journey. From the bravery of women sharing their message. Where I selfishly probe into their hearts and minds so that I can get to their story, because I want their story, their message, and their experience to teach and heal me. It was spent searching for answers external to me. July the dead of winter, was spent hibernating away from making a decision, it was spent in the darkness of fear and  making excuses why this project would be too hard on me, my little family and  the waves I didn’t want to create.  Not wanting to shine a spot light on my story or why I appreciate other women’s stories.

My husband doesn’t at all, nor has ever, understood why I write, or post to a blog or want to interview women and post their stories.

“Honestly babe, I just don’t get it, it makes no sense to me. Why do people give a shit, why on earth would someone pay money to read about someone else? Why do they want to read about other people’s business? You tell me you want to do this, just do it. You want to write and talk to women, just do it! Not once have I ever told you can’t have or do something. It doesn’t make sense to me, but so what. Just because we are married, doesn’t mean I am going to agree with you 100% of the time. If you enjoy something, do it. Do not, however, hide yourself away in your office when we are all home, we need you and want you with us. Prove to people like me, that don’t understand what you do, that you can make it successful. That you can prove people wrong.”

July was spent finding and paying other people to validate my desire to create something beautiful with my writing. I sort the guidance of a tarot card reader. The first message she passed on to me was that the new business I had just started is going to be highly successful, because I am being driven from my heart and the project that the business includes, is part of my soul purpose (I hadn’t told her what I was doing) I spent an hour listening to her guidance, and predictions. I cried, laughed and came away feeling as though I was on the right path, that everyone would love this project and it would take off. I also spent time on the massage table with my kinesiologist, I told her about the project and she worked with me on some of my fears. Again I came away with gusto and drive to lock myself in my office and create the work that would make this project a success.

With all of these thoughts and ideas of starting a project and continually thinking about making a living from writing, I have been offered an hour a week of writing social media posts for a local strawberry farm. I am petrified. Excited but petrified. I will be writing posts and taking photos for their Facebook page.

August

I have a name.  I always use the word luv. Hi luv! thanks luv! how are you luv?

LUV. Luv is an acronym for luv ur voice.  LUV – Giving voice to every womans story.

I have sown lots of seeds on my days off work this week. A new email account for LUV, a new Instagram account, I set up folders in my documents on my computer – “women that said yes” and “women that said no”. I need the first one to have more documents in it than the second. I drafted personalised invitations to women that I want to be part of this project with me, sharing their story. Now to wait and see how they bloom or if a green thumb alludes me.

I took a piece of paper from my printer and wrote out thirty numbers on it, cut it up, the numbers went into a hat. I closed my eyes and picked out the number twenty one. The Patreon site will launch on the 21st of August, it is a relief to have a date, but equally nerve wracking and I had hoped for a higher number. With a start date, I now need participants. When this idea was conceived I wanted to interview a very select few, then as the excitement grew I wanted to interview and write about every single woman that I met. Know that the invites are going out, I have reverted back to the original idea of quality over quantity. I want to be able to do my absolute best work, so it’s back to a few. Four invitations have been emailed today. I sat at my computer in my corner office and hit send, I immediately wanted to retract the emails. My fear of rejection was a heavy-duty weight today. In retreat mode, I turned off the computer, put my phone on silent and escaped to the school pick-up.

The first reply email was:

Thanks but not at the moment, if you are still continuing this little project in a few months, you can try and approach me again.

The invitation and the reply went into the women that said no folder. There are so many amazing women in the world; I won’t be asking a second time.

The second email said this:

Dear Melinda,

How do I respond to such an amazing project? I thank you for raising the importance of women in business, in life and as general leaders of society. I would be the person being honoured and yes I would love to share my story and hope this gives many the courage and the inspiration that anyone has the capability (such as yourself) to shine and be the modelling for many others.

I cried when I read this reply, not so much from her words, but because of who she is, the opportunity to interview her and how important she has been in the education of my little family.

The next email: Thank you for your email. I am still in Germany at the moment, will get in touch with you when I get back to Brisbane in couple of weeks.

This went in the yes folder. I know that this lady will contact me and we will have a fun time doing the interview.

The next one

Thanks Melinda, have heard about your project and it is awesome; love to be part of it.

There was another:

I’ll have a read through and will have to get back to you when I have a moment to work through my upcoming commitments. 

This one went in the women that said no.

The yes folder is filling up faster than the no.

Another part of the process took place today, and I am nervous to see the outcome. I smiled for the camera today. My neighbour who is knee deep in University studies for film and photography jumped the fence this morning and snapped some pictures of me.  Me working at the computer in my everyday uniform of jeans and a top, on the phone in a pretty dress, hanging out in a tulle skirt amongst our gum trees, and pushing my pink bike with a basket on the yellow brick path, under the canopy of our very own rainforest.

In the brief that I emailed her, I asked for photos that were of me in my home where most of my writing is penned. I wanted it to be true to me but also a bit of fun – hence the pink tulle skirt that I absolutely swooned over when I got it, but have had nowhere to wear it. I wanted to show where I work with the messy vision/ quote board, with the photos of my family in the background. It was so fun, but so exhausting. Three hours of looking like I am working, hugging a tree and pushing a bike and I was ready to curl up on my bed under a crocheted blanket for a nanna nap before work.

The day after me smiling for the camera was my first interview.

I have researched interview techniques. I have studied interview techniques for the professional publishing and writing degree I am undertaking. What I learnt: research your subject, research other interviews that they have done, make notes about questions to ask, practise the questions, be prepared take a note book, a voice recorder, detach yourself.

My first interview for LUV is with Sandra Conte. My camera battery is charged, I made sure the I scheduled the interview on my day off so I can take my time and try and relax. I have a list of questions written out. I have been over the questions on that a4 piece of paper so many times I know them backwards. I think all the questions are making me more nervous. When I have interviewed in the past, I have let the conversation flow organically. But I feel this time the interview needs to be structured. Still, each time I read over the questions they feel forced.

I dress in a white lace skirt and a pink jumper, cute shoes, and a painted face for our chat at a local café. I am nervous – my hands feel dry and a bit shaky, and my voice always wobbles when I am anxious. I take a seat outside in the sun at the café where we have agreed to meet, and there are people everywhere. I am 10 minutes early and am wondering if I should move the interview to somewhere else. I get a Facebook message from Sandi to say that she will see me in a minute.

We get settled at our table with chai latte each, I whip out my camera for a quick photo of the table,. I ask the first question and I am taken away, this is why I love doing this, I get lost in the conversation, her story flows. Sandi is vulnerable, open, honest, and generous, at some moments in the conversation, the expressions on her face are of remembrance, fond and forgotten moments and achievement’s getting a voice. She is candid in sharing so much of her life experience, I get goose bumps and my eyes get teary. The questions on my piece of paper are mocking me from their position under my arm on the table, I gradually work them into the conversation and we are off on another tangent of connected conversation, the conversation ebbs and flows and time slips away.  I drink my cold tea, and look around to find we are the only ones in café. I repeatedly check that my phone is recording Sandi’s voice. That I am capturing her dialogue, her words. After an hour and a half, the butterflies in my belly are still fluttering but in a good way, my hands are still a bit shaky, I feel like a ball of energy. I capture Sandi on my camera, we walk to the street together still chatting, but off the record.

We part ways, I walk through a construction site and Sandy walks in the other direction. I am smiling and feel light as I walk to my car. Itching to get home and write out the interview. I get home and change out of my pretty white skirt and pink jumper, only to find a tiny patch of blood on the back of my skirt. I am mortified. Never in my life has my period blood leaked over my clothes. I was so anxious going into today. I left the interview feeling confident and so excited to share Sandi’s story and now am feeling mortified.

Today’s interview was a family history lesson. I piled my mum and two boys into my new little hatch back and headed to my Grandma and Papa’s house. We told them we were coming for a cuppa and morning tea. As always they were excited to have us all together for the morning. Once grandma finished her cup of milk with a tiny bit of coffee in it, I asked her if she would answer a few questions for a university assignment. I felt awful not telling her the truth. However, I selfishly want my grandma’s story, I want to know about the life and experience that lead her to sixty plus years of marriage. I want to know her stories so I can have a deeper understanding of the blood that runs in my veins, I want to know our similarities. I want to know her traditions and the things that she holds dear. Any time I have asked Grandma if I can interview her, she always laughs and tells me that she has nothing exciting to share and she has just lived day by day. Sitting on the brick stairs at the front of their family home I started with the questions. Grandma had Papa sitting on her left hand side, my mum was sitting on my left and my boys were “playing in the pool”. My grandparents had a pool in their front yard that the whole family enjoyed over the years. That pool holds a lot of memories, there was the time a car smashed through the front fence and landed in the pool, the time my aunty dropped me as a baby while swimming and I nearly drowned, I lost my first tooth in that pool. I was devastated when they fenced the pool, and it was even worse when they filled it in and is now a rectangle piece of grass surrounded by concrete pool edging. My grandma’s conversation flowed she answered all my personal questions. I forgot the carefully thought out interview questions, I watched my boys make their own memories in the pool.

She was nervous and she had the same wobble in her voice that I get when I am nervous. My grandma is a product of her era and was modest in recounting her experiences. She kept asking if her answers were ok, if they were boring. Grandma sat ram rod straight in her chair and was afraid to move in case my phone didn’t pick up her voice. She was worried that I wouldn’t get what I need for my assignment. My heart melted at the details that she remembered and what she didn’t recall she would lean to her left and ask my Papa for the answer. Papa was just as moved by her answers as the rest of us. Mum mentioned on our way home that she sensed Papa shed a tear behind his sunglasses when the woman that he has been married to for 62 years was reminiscing about their early years together.  The longer she chatted about Papa, her immediate family and extended family the wobble left her voice and the memories kept coming and coming, the conversation had her glowing. I left Grandma and papa so proud of where I have come from

Busy, busy, nurturing my little family, working on the foundations of my project before I go to work in the afternoons and on my days off. One hour of writing for the local strawberry farm has actually turned into two or three hours. And, so many interviews with amazing women. With one week to go until the launch, I am energized with the flow of how the interviews are unfolding and a little anxious that Patreon is not the right platform. However, I keep reminding myself that it has the elements that I am looking for, a wide audience that I need to learn how to tap into, money making ability and the setup is free. One more interview this week and then the final touches and editing on Patreon for the launch next week. The interview is with Yvonne Rinaldi.

Honestly who doesn’t get nervous going go the principal’s office!! Today I was in the principal’s office at the local Montessori school. When I send an invite to a woman for an interview for LUV I ask them to be generous enough to allow me an hour of their time. This includes interview and photos (photos only if they consent, some people don’t want a photo taken). However my interview with Yvonne was recorded on my phone and the time was 14.44 minutes. This woman knows where she has been, what she wants in her future, she is clear in her vision, knows who and what inspires her. She is dear to my heart. I am so grateful that my boys have had such a strong woman at the head of their primary school education. It was such a privilege to spend time with her and connect over conversation.

With my confidence high, all of my interviews from my yes folder complete, one week to go until I launch LUV, I need some more women to chat to so I send out eight more invitations.

I get a reply;

Hi Melinda–

Thanks so much for reaching out and sharing your interesting project.

I’m not sure where you live or if there is a site I can peruse?

Unfortunately after emailing back and forth and having lovely conversation, I’ve not heard from this lady again confirming the date that I proposed. The date has come and gone so the correspondence has gone into the no folder.

This same thing happens twice more this week, me suggesting a date to chat seems to bring a grinding halt to all correspondence. The other five invitations that I have sent out have not been replied to.

I have set up one interview with my friend that is back in Australia from Germany – looking forward to that she is always great fun.

We have decided to go away for the weekend, launch day is Monday, I am excited and the apprehensive feeling is still in my gut about the platform. My husband has an RDO and I have the weekend off. This never ever happens. I have booked an apartment at the beach for three days. My eldest child broke his arm hours after I made the booking, not ideal but we are still going away.

Our weekend away was exactly what I needed after a busy month. Yesterday was launch day for LUV. It didn’t go as I imagined:

I waited until my family was all in bed and took a seat in my office, breathed out the annoying day that I had, and pressed the preview/launch button, then the little green go live button.

My aggravating day was me doing a 7am start at work when I usually start at 3.00pm. A 3.00pm start would’ve meant that I could’ve launched LUV earlier in the day and with a little more thought, excitement and ceremony than I did. I was too nervous and tired, and in true me style I pressed the launch button, took a quick snap shot of the confetti and the congratulations banner displayed on the screen from Patreon, then I promptly shut down the computer, turned off my phone and crawled into bed to avoid the anxiousness of doing something out of my comfort zone. I make these decisions to do something besides wifeing, mothering and being a receptionist and then I freak out.

Much the same as when I decided over a couple of bottles of wine and encouragement from my best friend that I would sign up for a degree on line. Sounds exciting in theory when my brain was swimming in Merlot to study writing and publishing. When the unit went live and I actually had to start the work, the assignments and exams, I completely freaked out. Honestly, I couldn’t answer my phone when said friend called me that day, my kids had toasted sandwiches for dinner, while I stared at the computer screen with the unit outline on the screen and wanted to vomit. Much like me agreeing to write posts and take photos for the local strawberry farm, being nervous and petrified of doing something that I am not qualified for. Then the day that I launch my own project receive an email to say that my services are no longer required as not enough strawberries have been sold to keep me in a job, I totally understood where she was coming from and was actually grateful for the few weeks of experience that I had with her.However, this email that I received on my phone, in the work lunch room, nourished all of my insecurities and fears, every comment that has been made to me about wasting my time writing, who would want to pay for your writing, what’s the point, blah, blah, blah flooded my mind. The anxiousness that I felt over launching on Patreon was tenfold. Me justifying why I want to do this project, working on it when no one is home and the no folder filling up with documents quicker than the yes folder, all seems like I have followed the wrong breadcrumbs and am wasting my time.

I watched a Youtube video of Oprah on Sunday. She was discussing making decisions to move forward and make positive change and influence to the world and your life. She continually referred to our internal GPS. To always check in with yourself and see what your internal GPS is telling you. That sometimes you won’t listen to it and take the wrong turn, but ultimately you will end at your destination. To accept the fear and feel it and if you are causing no harm and progressing then learn from the mistakes, and let them make you stronger.

So in my mind I have two references for my internal GPS. Our weekend away involved four wheel driving through sand tracks that lead to a beach access so we would eventually end up driving on the beach. Our GPS took us on the totally wrong track, there were huge ruts in the sand, not another car in sight, there were logs to drive over and branches reaching out over the track that scratched our car. All of this ended with the beach in sight but we had to make it down a near vertical sand dune, with a water hole at the bottom. I cried, I wanted to vomit, I had to direct my husband down the vertical dune, I could barely speak with fear that he would meet a sandy death in our four wheel drive. We then had to be pulled out of the water by the local ranger, who was kind and generous and had a laugh about our predicament. He was horrified when I asked him how much the fine would be. “No way, I won’t fine you this is the fun part of the job”.

The other reference is when I check my GPS to see how long my run to work will be and it always gets me there on time and in the least amount of traffic. So easy, stress free.

I don’t have any of these feelings with launching LUV, I am running somewhere in the middle of both of these at the moment. Feeling defeated and insecure, but looking for the place where I can perform a u-turn and be on the right path again.

I had a delicious vegetarian breakfast at Sol breads in West End with my friend Sarah on Sunday. We talked for hours about anything and everything. I vented my frustrations, concerns and ideas for the luv project with her and after letting it all out, I am going to revamp my blog, and work from there. I will post my interviews and writing on the platform that I have already given life to and where I have already built a loyal following.

31st August 2017, I dropped the boys at school, changed my outfit a couple of times, checked the battery on my camera, charged the battery on my phone and drove to Newmarket to meet the lovely Marina for our interview. Oh and what an interview it was. Again totally failed on the professional side. I cried – Marina had to fish out tissues from her handbag. We laughed, took photos together, we drank tea and chatted about everything. Marina’s interview was fascinating and her story is one I can’t wait to share. We parted ways agreeing to work together again. Can not wait.

I upgraded the blog site to a site that has my own domain name. www.mrsmelindaedwards.com , the features are so much better than the last one, the layout suits my needs and how I want the blog to look. I can monetize it and publish a variety of posts like a gallery of my fave photos and quotes. Now this feels, like I have followed the breadcrumbs. I will post links on my Patreon site but www.mrsmelindaedwards.com will be my home of writing.

 

Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

 

 

One Comment

  1. Great post Melinda. What an evolution. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. You sound clear and focused again. X

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