Ms Alchemy

Career

Posted:01.31.2013

For the last six months, first thing in the morning, I have written down five things for which I am grateful.

It’s really interesting to see what comes up each day.

Recently I have been grateful for: friends, my passport, my family’s health, my determination, great food, coffee, holidays and the freedom to make my own choices.

What has surprised me most is how often work comes up in my daily gratitude list.

Work often seems like such a burden, particularly on a Monday morning. The whole world seems so hard! Waging war against the strong desire for a sleep in, battling along on public transport or fighting traffic, dodging airborne germs as people sniffle and sneeze. Lamenting with colleagues about how good the weekend was, and how long the week feels like it will last!

Yet I look over my gratitude lists and I see it written time and time again – work. My job. My career.

It got me thinking I should have been a little more specific about what it is that tickles me about work at these moments. But, since it is a ‘first thing when you get up’ job, my lists are usually short, sharp and to the point.

If I wasn’t so bleary eyed, I’d probably write some of the following.

I’m grateful for my work because:

  • I work with beautiful people everyday. People who are strong, funny, intelligent, passionate and committed. People who make me laugh, who care about me and make me welcome, who drink coffee with me in the morning and share a celebratory drink at the end of the week. People who are at work to make a difference, in every way they can. People who, as well as doing their work, are also looking after their partners, children, parents, grandchildren, pets and themselves. People who make my every day a blessing.
  • I work on important issues. Working in human services is about exactly that – humans. My work is my contribution to try and make the world a little bit better.
  • My work is an ongoing education. As well as the formal opportunities I have for professional development, every day I learn something new, from what I read, who I talk to, or who I work with.
  • My work keeps me busy and keeps my achieving. I celebrate the little wins and know that I continue to get better at my job all the time.
  • My job is secure. I am very lucky to have a stable job, with leave and other entitlements.
  • My work gives me a steady income, which allows me to make choices with my money. My income gives me independence and options, whether I choose to use it to save, travel, shop, eat, explore or give it away.

My job is not perfect. I don’t think I know anyone who has the perfect job. It’s also not always easy, and I certainly have my bad days. I am however, lucky to have my job, and I will continue to be grateful for it, and all the options it allows me.

Rowena Southgate (aka ‘Ms Alchemy’) is based in Melbourne. While she would love to write as an occupation, she still needs to earn a living. This living so far has seen her work in research related to employment, in policy related to disability services, in HIV prevention in Vietnam, and also in the sexy world of communicable diseases. An acute observer and amateur photographer, Rowena likes to think twice about she sees in the world around her, and what it would take to make it a little bit different – for the better.

Reflection and Planning – December 2012

Posted:12.04.2012

I’ve been writing and re-writing this post. Trying to find a pattern, a rhythm, a balance, in talking about my reflections on the year. I’m finding it very difficult – to list the accomplishments over the year seems like bragging, yet treating them with brevity and flippancy seems disrespectful to what I have achieved.

So, I’ve decided I need to change tack. I don’t need to tell you what it is I have done – just that I am very proud of it all. In the last twelve months, I have started things from scratch, continued with previous activities, and finished things that have been important. I’ve let go of relationships that held me back, I’ve renewed friendships that make me feel good, and started some new relationships with people who are strong, supportive and on my side. I’ve learned to understand my body better, to listen to it, to give it more of the fuel it needs, and have avoided the things that weigh me down. I’ve sought advice and support in the right places, and learned to quiet the voices that cause self doubt. I’ve persevered with building myself up when I thought I couldn’t. I’ve stopped sabotaging myself when I fell into old habits. I’ve tapped into some creative outlets, with the hope that one day, they will flow more easily. I’ve challenged myself in many different ways, and brought myself both to tears and to laughter.

While it hasn’t been perfect, 2012 has been a good year. It’s been a good year because I’ve had support, strength and a vision for the person I want to be. I’ve also been determined to make my world different, and better in any way I can.

And it’s with this sense of accomplishment that I will plan my year ahead. For me, 2013 will be a year to build on the momentum I am gaining. I will continue with my current projects, start some new ones, and leave some old things behind. I will inject into every day the experience I have gained in 2012 – the successes and the failures. And, with a sense of pride in what I did in 2012, I am setting out to make 2013 even better. I hope you too can see the good in yourself, the great work you have done, and that it is just the beginning of many wonderful things to come.

Rowena Southgate (aka ‘Ms Alchemy’) is based in Melbourne. While she would love to write as an occupation, she still needs to earn a living. This living so far has seen her work in research related to employment, in policy related to disability services, in HIV prevention in Vietnam, and also in the sexy world of communicable diseases. An acute observer and amateur photographer, Rowena likes to think twice about she sees in the world around her, and what it would take to make it a little bit different – for the better.

Inspiration, Action and Change

Posted:06.06.2011

My last blog for 10thousand girl was written just before I went off to the planning workshop, held in Melbourne. I’m really glad that I did! It was a great opportunity to listen to some different perspectives, some experts, other women, and get some great information.

Most importantly for me, it was a time of inspiration. While the workshop went for one day, the impact on me is really just beginning. As part of the workshop, I had an opportunity to look at what I really want from this life. As happens in many seemingly small moments, that end up being significant turning points, looking at what I wanted and what I was doing, showed me that the two did not match up. It is, I think, a very rare but valuable experience to have this opportunity to analyse and compare the life lived, and the life imagined. For me, it has certainly turned my world upside down.

So, after the inspiration, comes the change. As a result of the workshop, and a whole lot of ruminating that has filled most days since, I have begun to make some of these changes. In change there is often great excitement, as the possibilities open up. The number of ‘unknowns’ increase, each with their own opportunities and risks. There is a focus on new goals, new milestones, new challenges and new achievements.

In order to get to this exciting new world of possibilities and new perspectives however, part of the old world has to go. And that, for me, has been really tough. To see that while I loved parts of my old world, and that I was enjoying, to some extent my life as it was trundling along prior to the workshop, in order to get more, to go where I really wanted to go, there was a need for some fairly massive shifts.

In order to achieve my change, my new vision, to open up my new world, I had to make a break and change a significant part of my old world. In order to focus on the new, I had to take my focus off the old. To set my new goals, I have to let go of some of my old priorities, as the sad truth is, I can’t have both. My change in direction means saying good-bye to the old path, and it’s safe and comfortable environs, and treading onto the new.

So, in the very nature of its being, change is exciting, tumultuous, and at times, exhausting. From the centre of it, it often feels like it’s not worth it – I know that there have been times where I have doubted my own decisions, and been tempted to go hurtling back to the old and the comfortable. But I know in myself, that I don’t really want to just trundle along any more. I want to soar, at best, or at the least, skip along, enjoying every step of it. I know that if I want to change the world, or at least a small part of it, I need to go through the constant process of change for myself. As hard as that is, I’m starting to come out of the change haze now – it feels like I’m coming up for air. And it feels good.

Rowena Southgate (aka ‘Ms Alchemy’) is based in Melbourne. While she would love to write as an occupation, she still needs to earn a living. This living so far has seen her work in research related to employment, in policy related to disability services, in HIV prevention in Vietnam, and also in the sexy world of communicable diseases. An acute observer and amateur photographer, Rowena likes to think twice about she sees in the world around her, and what it would take to make it a little bit different – for the better.

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