I wrote this piece last year. I feel vulnerable sharing it, but if it means just one other person feels heard and understood then my heart will rest.

………………………………………………………………….

I want to tell you how much I cry silently inside when he arrives home from school and tells me how all the kids were talking about the latest birthday party they’ve been to and he matter-of-factly accepts that he wasn’t invited.

I want to tell you what it feels like to get ‘that tap’ on the shoulder from one of your child’s carers when they suggest there may be something in your beautiful son that isn’t quite fitting the mold. My boy was just three years old. He’d built a sand castle and attached a complex network of reeds and twigs to it to make a hydro-electricity scheme. This was a red flag…apparently.

I want to tell you what it is like to spend two hours every night holding him to help him go to sleep because his brain, or his life, won’t turn off enough to stop his limbs from being in constant motion. How he often sobs with the anguish of his school life.

How I have spent hours taking him to psychologists, audiologists, speech pathologists, chiropractors, herbalists, osteopaths, ENTs, kinesiologists and every other bloody-ologist looking for just one thing that might ease his heart. I want you to know that one unkind word from a child unravels that and sets us back weeks, months even, but you would never know because he is wary of how people respond to him and does his best to hide it. I collude in this lie.

I want you to know that he reads adult non-fiction and remembers interesting facts that you would never imagine a ten year old being remotely interested in. How he is a voracious consumer of texts but with that comes the fact that he’ll read something and repeat it in a way that your child finds odd, or you find too advanced or even just a bit off. I can’t stop his interest in the workings of the human body or his appetite for information. He can’t help that his filters aren’t set in such a way that he doesn’t know what to repeat and what to hold. He’s ten. He is a masterclass in obsessions, and he will fix your computer and can be found in long detailed conversations about cheat codes with the guys behind the counter at the EB Games shop.

I want you to know that it’s not his fault (although it’s taken me a long time to realise it’s not mine either). That being ‘that kid’ in the class seems to automatically make him guilty of all the transgressions that go on in the school yard. That even when he has the balls to speak or tries to let adults know he is being bullied, the first and default response is to suggest he made it so. That’s what happens to all the kids who are different – us mums know this only too well. And one day a teacher softly says ‘yes I’ve seen what they do to him’ and you can’t hide your relief, but you’re also angry that it’s taken this bloody long for them to see the reality of his world. And then there’s the guilt that I also didn’t act earlier and be his advocate.

It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted. He’s exhausted.

I want you to know that I love my boy and admire him for who he is but I carry his stress too and it magnifies in my body. Sometimes I avoid the school pick up because I carry the feeling that ‘I’m the mother of that kid’ even though I know it’s not my shit to bear. I suffer from a form of co-dependency – how he is doing is deeply influential on how I am, and in the past 3 months, as my little boys’ life has become increasingly more difficult, so my anxiety has exploded. Sometimes we can both afford to go to the psychologist, but most of the time I postpone my appointment so he can have his.

I want you to know that some days I just can’t face the drop off scene because it’s taken me two hours to move through the morning’s pattern of school refusal and I have nothing left to give – and I’m certainly not showered. I want you to know that meltdowns are exhausting and what works today may not work tomorrow.

I want you to know that there are endless appointments and expenses in our family. I work less because I feel I need to be ‘on call’. When my phone rings and I see it is the school, a hot wave of worry automatically rushes through me- I think must be a little like PTSD. And I have spent so much time in the principal’s office.

I want you to know that at times I feel desperate, and I run out of strategies. I often lose hope because I don’t know what to do next and my partner and I will have different ideas about how we might move forward. We are a bedrock of support for our little guy but even stones develop fissures. I want you to know that my daughter suffers and we do our best to not have our family life obsessed with my boy, but it’s hard, and she feels it and her resentment is understandable.

I want you to know that I would never judge another child for being who they are. And having a child like my son is full of its own rewards. Because one day he will be remarkable and quite possibly change our world. He is magnificent–the one you want on your team (although these days he’s consistently last pick), the creative misfit that actually has a fucking good idea or two. My boy’s sense of social justice is beyond his years. He feels with every fibre of his being and it’s overwhelming for him.

Yes, I want to tell you that he feels it all, everything. He overacts, a lot. He insists on rules but only as they apply to others. His behaviour is annoying. He doesn’t do well with maintaining friendships. He rarely follows instructions straight away. He goes to sometimes extreme lengths to avoid anything that makes him feel vulnerable. Believe me I know these behaviours better than anyone. He tells me he knows that the tall stories he has told to impress people have had the opposite effect, but no-one will give him another chance. That two weeks ago his latest ‘story’ had sufficient red flags in it for mandatory reporting. These are not the stories of our family life. The only subtext is ‘please like me’.

I want you to know that last week he cut off the beautiful long eye lashes he was born with because other children teased him about them. I want you to know that ten year olds shouldn’t be having an existentialist crisis or talking about suicide.

I want to tell you what it feels like to have your child lose his trust in you because you haven’t made it better yet. That is the kind of ‘epic fail’ no parent should feel.

And I want you to know I look forward to a day when our society practises tolerance in the truest sense of the word – a time when generosity infuses the way we respond to children with autism or Asperger’s or who are just their own people.

Because the system is a tough place for all of us, and all the programs in the world will not make lives better for these kids if the mums and dads, the teachers and the classmates who get to spend so much time with our children don’t show tolerance and compassion. We desperately need to learn how to embrace the different kid. I’m not sure what is worse for them – to be ignored or to be the target.

My son is losing his faith.
Yesterday he said to me, ‘Mum, why do I have to endure this?’
I cannot answer.
Just love…fiercely

 

© Lindy Schneider 2018

You’re worried what they will think of your writing
A Professional Writer will never judge you for your writing skills, or any attempt you’ve made to get your thoughts down on paper. We applaud you. We know it’s hard. And guess what – we are inspired by the challenge your writing presents us.

You’re not sure if you need a professional? (Aunty Mavis has always been a ‘bit good’ at English)
Would you cut your own hair? Install your own power points? Fix your own brakes? Probably not. Professional skills matter, let the experts do what they do best.

You don’t know how to put in words what you want to say
Thats exactly the right reason to hire a writer. We will help you work through your random ideas and craft it into copy that sings. That’s what we do best. We help you through the confusing bit and put words to your ideas. It will be exactly what you meant to say – promise.

You think you could or should be able to do it all
Outsourcing is where it’s at. Seems like the pressure today is to be a jack of everything. Not only do you have to run your business, make your products and more, you also have to be a social media expert, a writing maven and an SEO and website tech head. It’s exhausting and you can’t possibly do everything well. So outsource your writing tasks and focus on what you do best (and enjoy most).
Busy people need support.
You can’t be all things.
You can’t.

You still think you can write it yourself
You learn to write in primary school so you should be good at writing, right? Kind of. You’re probably better than you think you are, but even so, a Professional Writer has spent extra years in education and honing their craft in addition to primary school or high school English. It’s a special range of skills and knowledge you can’t possibly be expected to know.
And how long have you been meaning to write that piece or freshen up your website? Months? I thought so.

You’re not sure if its too expensive for you
A Professional Writer will always work with you on a brief, a quote and a budget. They are the three things you need to ask for, and in doing so you’ll have control. And consider the costs of not having professional words to back you up. People leave websites just because they’ve seen a typo. People can’t get you and what you’re offering if they don’t read a clear message. It’s a distracting world out there and a Professional Writer will bring clarity, direction and focus to your words and business.

You don’t want to look silly, unprepared, and a million other ways we tell ourselves we’re not ok
We get this. It’s almost everyone’s bag. No judgement. We’re all equals.

You’ve just never done it before so you don’t know what to expect or how it rolls
The first step is a baby one – make the call or enquiry. We will figure it out. We’ll take care of you. Every writing job is different and we’ll guide you step by step.

And yes, you can get out of it. And yes you get final say on what is written.

And it will be fun!

(C)Lindy Schneider

Contact - basic

How do you choose a professional copy and content writer who will polish and bring your message to life? Everyone learns to write at school, but not everyone takes the extra step of becoming a ‘professional’.  If you’ve never engaged a professional copy and content writer before, and you think it’s time, here’s a list of quick tips to help guide your search for the right fit.

Local Life 

While you don’t necessarily need to meet with your professional copy and content writer face to face (thank you technology!), knowing they aren’t far away can be reassuring. It also means they understand the area you are operating in, will have strong networks, be in the same time zone as you for instant real-time responses, and will understand the subtleties and nuances of your market. There are ‘localised’ elements to the way we speak and write that come naturally to locals. And local can mean anything from ‘within 100 kilometres’ to ‘same continent’ depending on what you need!

Marketing Acumen 

If your engaging a writer for blog and content writing for your business then it is vital your writer has sound marketing instincts, after all they will be preparing information that presents your precious brand to the world. Look for a writer who has studied marketing and the copy you commission will be insightful and effective.

Journalistic Discipline 

Ensuring people are being quoted correctly, copyright, fair use, even areas of defamation or false advertising all come into play in writing content. It’s also super important to make appropriate  references to people’s gender,  sexuality and abilities to be inclusive, fair and empathetic.  A copywriter should be able to evidence a working knowledge of the do’s and don’t’s.

Real Relationships 

Building an ongoing relationship with your writer is not only efficient, it can bring a sense of ease and fun to the work. When you find a copy and content writer that gets you and your business, the whole process is streamlined and you will both be passionate and eager to do the best work. There is a mutual benefit in developing an ongoing connection and professional writers adore providing service and ‘extra mile’ support to their valued clients.

Across the backend 

if you’re too busy to write, you’re probably too busy to upload content as well. A good copywriter can offer you the additional service of content loading to your website and may even take it a step further and offer digital support across social media channels. Knowing how the backend of your website works is helpful when writing as it can influence how copy is presented (and therefore how it’s written) and how images, captions and other elements can be worked in together for the best possible read for your users.

Editing Diva

A copywriter who has taken the time to become qualified or educated as an editor and proofreader will always provide you with superior copy. High school English lessons only go so far. If you want to be professional, engage a professional who has done the ‘hard’ work of learning there are nine different types of nouns and what a dangling modifier is! And nothing turns people away quicker than a typo.

Deadlines done and dusted 

Copy and content writers need to have superhuman organisational skills. While you might only see the finished copy at the end of the process, the research, drafting, editing and crosschecking of content is often a time-intensive process. Ask your copy and content writer how they approach deadlines, and if they can facilitate quick turnaround jobs and you’ll get an instant feel for whether you’ll be waiting!

Breadth of experience 

An established copywriter will have a broad range of clients in their back story and be highly adaptable across different industries and writing styles. That is what it means to be a professional writer, not just a writer! Copy and content writers over time naturally build up a solid and broad ‘expertise’ base even when they have specialist disciplines they work in. (And what you learn in one industry can be very useful in another.)

coffee cheers

Connected and Creative 

Successful copy and content writers get to meet many different people in their working lives and naturally gravitate to the service providers they encounter that share the same work ethic and values. This means the right copywriter will also have an instant network of other businesses (think web designers, photographers, graphic artists and so on) to connect you with that offer that same quality work – you’ll end up with a team if you choose wisely!

Portfolio and testimonials 

Always, always, always check out the writers’ folio. If a writer is proud of what they do, they will have a dedicated page on their website with samples of their work and testimonials from clients. Check out the socials and see what others say about them.

Lindy X

Please give me a call on 0417 365 697 or ping me a message if you have any questions!

 

Often we have ‘moments of truth’ without realising until much later what grand epiphanies they are.

Way back in about 1998, I was sitting in the back of a strategic marketing presentation about a new range of toy concepts being represented by Gaffney Licensing in the city. The room was a blackened basement (lest we get distracted) devoid of windows or any sense of life…and I was bored.

Doodling on my notepad I started to write down every word I was hearing that sounded hollow or made me yawn (and I hadn’t even read about Don Watson’s book Death Sentence about weasel words at this stage!).

I quickly had a list scrawled down my page and a sudden spark of inspiration. What if I found a better and more engaging word for each of these hollow over-used, and frankly, lazy words?

Suddenly I felt alive. Words tumbled onto the page.

What about if we used words such as inspiration instead of information?

Considered instead of strategic?

Conscious instead of profit-driven?

Preference instead of plan?
Humanity instead of consumer?

Meaning instead of marketing?

Awe instead of purchase intention?

Gifts instead of KPIs?

Authenticity instead of qualifications?

The fall in the hero’s journey instead of ‘failing to meet budget’?

Visionary instead of CEO?

*and trust me just saying Chair instead of Chairman would have been bold back then…)

 

Now this was feeling juicy…

Fast forward twenty years and I am still bought alive by the search for the right word.

I believe the right word changes everything.

It can change your mind, your connection, your understanding, your desire, your action.

The right word can even change the world.

 

And what is the right word? Well in my mind, the right words are rich words, feeling words, evocative words that reveal the beauty of language and reflect the poetics that are deeply embedded in our minds via every story ever written.

 

These words sing.

They have rhythm.

They build a state of being in your body that is much more than the word.

I didn’t realise back then how much this simple awareness about words would define and refine what I do today. It wasn’t long after that meeting I left corporate life and started to rewrite my world.

The right word really does change everything.

 

Here is a post I just prepared about the Redwood Forest in East Warburton for my client Visit Warburton that has an important message to share. These words need to land…

‘We are all charged with the responsibility to look after the fragile beauty of the Redwood Forest in East Warburton.

Up until two years ago, the Redwood Forest was a little-known stand of Californian Redwoods that was considered a secret and meditative destination among locals. As a National Trust heritage listed site, stepping into the forest was done with a sense of awe and respect – its silence and simple beauty the essence of its appeal.’

Today it is bittersweet to see that its appeal is so widespread. The attraction of visitors has happened at a rate that has far outpaced the Redwood Forest’s capacity to cope, and also the ability of authorities and stakeholders to develop appropriate infrastructure.

From one short TV segment thousands and thousands of people have come to visit – and its all adding up.

So how can we, as lovers and visitors of the Redwood Forest, ensure it remains healthy, viable and respected?

Here are some important ways every individual can help preserve this amazing natural wonder.

  • Please take ALL your litter home with you.
  • Please do not use the Redwood Forest or surrounding areas for toileting – public toilets are available at the hall in East Warburton or make sure you stop in Warburton on the way through.
  • Please respect the homes and people who live on the road to the Redwood Forest (Cement Creek Rd and Woods Point Rd particularly) – drive the speed limit (and avoid dust), be sensible when parking. If it is too busy, come back later, or another time.
  • Please respect the trees – leave branches in place, leave bark on trees and the forest floor undisturbed.
  • There are other fun ways you can have your forest experience – you can ride a bike to Cement Creek Rd via the O’Shannassey Aqueduct, car pool or use bus services.

Other tips for minimising impact are to choose a time to visit that is a non-peak visitation time – avoid weekends and keep your visits short. You may even choose to just walk the perimeter of the forest (there are tracks all around it), rather than walk through it.

Continuing foot traffic is compacting the forest floor, causing permanent damage to delicate micro-infrastructure and biodiversity.

Tred lightly, if at all, and help preserve this natural wonder.

Parking solutions and preservation issues are high on the priority list for local and state governments, but in the meantime we can all do our little bit to help protect this place we all love.

We appreciate your visit and invite you to explore more of what the Warburton Valley has to offer – there’s lots of ideas on the Visit Warburton website, but here are five  quick suggestions:

  1. Rainforest Gallery
  2. O’Shannassey Aqueduct trail
  3. Observation tower on Mt Donna Bang
  4. Big Peninsula Tunnel
  5. The Ada Tree

There are many more secrets to discover!

If you have any questions and want the advice of a local, pop in to the Waterwheel Visitor Information Centre on the main street of Warburton.

READ MORE 

or https://www.visitwarburton.com.au/blog/redwood-forest-a-place-to-care-for

Dear Writing,
I am so sorry I abandoned you. It’s been two weeks since I last wrote a single word for myself. You’ve waited patiently in the background, but the sense of words choking my veins, needing to get out, words shapeshifting into feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, has been palpable. You Writing, did not abandon me as I have abandoned you.

What a relief it is to sit right here, right now – to go to the page today and write this ‘blog-to-self’ – the post I most need to read.

The truth is I’m a bit crap at prioritising my own writing time. If every writer has their ‘wound’ then that is mine. It’s not that procrastination or writers block keeps me from the page, but rather the ‘stuff’ of life. Eminently justifiable stuff such as the paid freelance work I need to do most days, magazine deadlines, the preparation of my Life Writing workshop (I delivered week one last night and it was wonderful), the seemingly endless stream of social media attendance I do as part of my work that has no determinable end (unless I myself draw a line). There are children and school events, horses and friends and family. And rest. Sometimes it feels that everything exists to steal my time, and while I can be effective in stealing it back, my writing soul aches for long stretches of musing time to wander through the words, rather than the snatched sentences I manage in between other moments.

How can we ‘cocoon our practice’?

I have an artist friend that I admire greatly for many reasons, one of which is her deep commitment to her painting as a first priority every day. This is a mindset, a true expression of the value we attribute to our own art making. Nothing gets in the way of her practice to paint first. She declines just about every invitation or obligation that would take her away from her painting.

I admire this.

I struggle with this.

But I think this is what cocooning may be about.

We value what we create first and most, before all our other endeavours.
We honour our work and the time we give to it.
We defend the time we set aside for it, vigorously, without obligation to others, without hesitation. We simply say no.
We protect our space physically, psychologically even. We create buffers that protect us from intrusions, be they the visitor, the ding of social media, the news of the day.
We immerse our whole self in our practice and we emerge full from the experience, and our writing becomes self-perpetuating.
We give ourselves the right to pleasure and recognise our deepest need to do our art as the truest part of our selves.

And at the heart of cocooning our practice is the deepest held belief that art is worth it.

Writing is worth it.

We are worth it.

Cocooning your practice is a form of fierce love, for the self, for the soul and for all that is created from that space.

I’m working on it.

Want a Life Writing tip to get you started with writing a piece of your own history? Life Writing is a style of writing that draws out your unique story and preserves it for you or whoever you choose to share it with. It’s a wonderful way to honour your life and anyone, regardless of their writing skills, can start today.

Read my guest blog Bring Your Story to Life here.

If you would like to know more about this course or wish to enrol call Simone on 5967 1776 or email simonewhitehead@cire.org.au. Life Writing with Lindy Schneider commences Tuesday 15th May at 6.30pm to 9.00pm (4 sessions).

Held at Cire in Yarra Junction.

You can listen to my radio interview on YVFM (1.5.18) here.

Brochure with more details on this course is below.

Ten years ago, being a Self-published author carried with it the same stigma as admitting you’d met your partner online. Fortunately, both scenarios have changed immensely in the past decade.

I am proud to say that I am a Self-published author and what this means for me is I bring work to the world that might otherwise languish in slush piles at publishing houses for months, perhaps years. I’m not alone in being empowered enough, and brave enough, to take the step to have my voice heard and to take steps to realise myself as an author.

Taking the publishing process into my own hands has meant I am living a truth. I am a writer, and this is the way I make my writing visible. I can’t imagine how choked my writing would become if I did not have this way of ‘releasing’ my words to the world. That moment when you push the button and the words that have been ingrained on your heart are set free into the world is a scary moment, but it is also the moment that makes you as a writer. And you do it again and again.

Carl Jung referred to the capital S Self as the unification of the conscious and unconscious– a wholly complete and integrated Self. As people, as writers, isn’t’ this is what we aspire to? Self-publishing could be part of our Self-actualisation.

While there are dozens of ‘vanity publishers’ out there prepared to take your money and turn your book into a reality (often with very poor editing and production standards, minimal author support and desperately woeful marketing), Self-publishing a book and actually taking on every step of the process is the hands-on way to nurture the birthing process of your book and ensure it gets the life it deserves.

And does being a Self-published author mean you will never be traditionally published? There are many stories of successful Self-published authors being picked up for second books by publishing houses and there is also the emergence of the hybrid author – that is an author who cleverly develops a range of titles across both Self-published and traditional published formats. For many authors the Self-publishing financials make better sense, and the ability for authors to ‘cover all bases’ is their best chance at establishing income streams that are sustainable.

The From This Place book is a great example of a Self-published book that has been nurtured every step of the way. Photographer Angela Rivas and I invested hours in our publishing process. We went to printers, and worked through a myriad of specifications and quotes. (Our printer even came to our book launch we had such a strong relationship!) We sat with our graphic designer, and brought people into our editing and marketing team that we truly loved and respected. The end product is an ode to collaboration and the spirit of ‘making it happen’.

And that is what sharing your gift with the world means. If you’ve resisted Self-publishing because having a large publishing house like your work is the only way you might feel legitimate as a writer then I invite you to examine what is really going on inside your head. If is feels hard, consider a coach. Don’t resist the impulse of your own heart to share your work. If Self-publishing is within your means, honour your work and let the world see you.

 

Photo Credit: Angela Rivas

Know thyself.

I don’t think there is a single place in our lives where this isn’t relevant.

I am often asked to write PR releases or web content and, for me, the client’s self-awareness of who and what they are about is far more important than their latest SWOT analysis, or KPI (in fact I avoid this jargon on purpose).

Writing great copy requires emotional integrity and honesty. That’s the key to connecting with purpose to the people you are communicating with. You could say it’s part psychology, part writing and part marketing. The questions I ask of clients are the same ones I have muddled over in my own working and personal life. The answers shift over time as I evolve and respond to new opportunities but the ‘work’ in having strong and thoughtful responses to these questions makes everything else that you do flow.

Contemplate your responses to these questions and the writing – whether you engage a professional or want to prepare something yourself­–will be richer, easier and real– touching people where it needs to. Sometimes it’s just a few words that make all the difference.

Here are 10 provocations that can inspire deeper thought (and always more questions!)

  1. My work matters because…
  2. I am passionate about this because…
  3. My authority in this lies in my…
  4. Without this (your service/product etc) the world will…
  5. The three things you will learn/gain from my service/product are…
  6. This is unique because…
  7. How I want you to benefit from this is to…
  8. I stand for (3-5 defining words about who you are)…
  9. What is or where is my edge? Where will it grow…
  10. What do I yearn for?

The more you know your Self, the easier the answers will be, and your brilliance will flow naturally from this source.

As I scrolled through what must have been hundreds of posts this morning offering resolutions and advice for your ‘best 2018’ I couldn’t help but come to one conclusion.
There is just one word that pretty much provides a solution to most of life’s laments.
So in the spirit of sharing and stimulated conversation, I’m going to share my one word today (knowing full well that we suggest to others what we most need to hear ourselves!)

So my one word is this…

OUTSIDE

Yes that’s it – seven letters
O.U.T S.I.D.E.

Try this…

Feeling sad? – go outside
Lacking creative inspiration? – go outside
Kids spending too much time on screens? – go outside
Carrying a few extra kgs? – go outside
Electricity bills too big? – go outside
Lacking motivation? – go outside
Seeking community?- go outside
Feeling stressed about something? – go outside
Lacking appetite? – go outside
Can’t sleep? – go outside
Cranky children? – go outside

(you get it, right?)

Cooking, eating, living, sleeping – do more outside-even meetings (cos let’s face it any time we can get out of the white wall boxes we confine ourselves to has got to be good right?)

So there it is, one word I am going to steer my compass for 2018 by. Enjoy!
Feeling gratitude outside.
(Pic: @wedgetailrides)
#liveoutside