Women in the know: My bestie on the big career change

Bec and I at the Races in Kalgoorlie 2014

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know about one of my closest buddies Bec. We fortuitously crossed paths at the ABC in Kalgoorlie and soon we were working together, living together and finishing each others’ sentences.

Not long ago, Bec made the courageous decision flip her career on its head, to leave media and pursue teaching. I’m so proud of her for making such a drastic change and it makes me tremendously happy to hear about her hard work paying off. Bec is currently working as a high school teacher while completing her Master of Education through Teach for Australia, a program that places professionals in schools in low socioeconomic communities. Working and studying full time leaves few spare moments so I’m very grateful Bec was able to contribute to my Women in the Know series. If you’ve been thinking of taking the plunge into a new career, I guarantee this will inspire you.

How did you decide to leave media and start studying to become a teacher? 

I think I’ve always known that I wanted to end up teaching ‘down the track’. But the funny thing is that ‘down the track’ sometimes sneaks up on you! It was never a case of me not loving my job, but more that I could take those skills and teach them to students. Once that seed was planted in my mind it really took root. I also loved the idea of changing the -perception that teaching is some sort of back-up occupation.

Bec and I interviewing a horse back in 2015

Had you thought about teaching before?

Yes, and no. I’d thought about the concept of teaching and certainly had the fantasy of inspiring young students by jumping on desks and having my very own Dead Poet’s Society moment. But in reality, I had no idea what the everyday entailed!

What were the steps you took to make the switch?

Well I was pretty lucky to interview on radio a young teacher who had transitioned into the profession through a program called Teach For Australia and was being placed in Kalgoorlie.

I like to describe the program as an apprenticeship of sorts. It takes specialists in other areas and puts them through an intensive teaching program and practicum, before placing them in low socioeconomic and hard-to-staff schools, which are often based regionally. We are given an in-school mentor, critiqued regularly and work a 0.8 work load so we can do our Masters in Teaching at the same time. I love being part of a program that’s actively working to bridge the education gap, so I took the plunge and quit my job at the ABC!!

Bec in Port Fairy during a 6 week stint at Deakin University in Warrnambool as part of her teaching Masters

What was the most daunting aspect? 

I was terrified – of so many things! Including:

  • what if I don’t enjoy teaching?
  •  and worse, what if I’m not any good at it!?
  •  I’m taking a serious pay cut, how will that affect me?
  • Will I miss working in radio and TV? Interacting with the community and hearing their interesting stories.
  • What will it be like standing in front of a class for the first time?
  • Will there be as much paperwork as everyone says?
  • What do I wear? (I’ve since learnt the stretch and bend test when shopping for teacher attire)
  • Urgh, doing a Masters on the weekends…

Marking papers in her spare time

Tell us about your first day in the classroom! What was it like?!

I have this distinct memory of sweaty palms, racing heartbeat and a whole lot of adrenaline. To be honest my experience in working in live radio means I don’t get nervous that easily – but it was more of an excited rush!

What do you love about teaching? Is it rewarding?

I couldn’t be happier about the choice to transition into teaching. Building relationships with the students and seeing their progress, even in incremental ways, is so damn rewarding. I’ve tried my best to be authentic and make true connections with students as they have excellent bullshit radars. I’ve kept a promise to myself not to lose my cool and yell at any class, which I think helps me keep my consistency. I love it when I’m so enthusiastic and happy about such simple lessons and teaching them to my kids. But even better than my own enjoyment is seeing student gains on social, emotional and academic levels.

Bec and I back in 2014 in Kalgoorlie

Can you share a funny story from the classroom?

More of a wardrobe malfunction than a teaching blooper! I was rushed going to work one morning and was frustrated with the way to pockets were sitting in my dress as it buckled in a funny way. So I cut the pockets out and didn’t think about it any further. I was sitting in English behind my desk and looked down to see my undies were completely exposed on each side! Hot pink, zebra stripes… I made sure the class was on task and side stepped my way out of there like a crab. Running into my office I asked my boss “have you got safety pins?!” He looked a little dumbfounded until I explained my situation. Through tears of laughter he suggested I staple my dress together. Needless to say the nickname ‘staples’ has stuck.

What have you found surprising about this journey?

What’s been most surprising for me is the reaction, often very negative or sceptical, that I’ve received from other people. “Why would you give up being on TV and in the media?” “Teaching… really?” “Oh, are you doing it for the holidays and so it’s easier to have kids?” “Were you not successful as a journalist?”

I find it hard to swallow such a jaded view of teaching and it’s status as a ‘fall back’ profession. To be frank, I was a damn good journalist, a natural on radio and adored interviewing people. But what I didn’t adore was the isolating nature of the industry, it’s relentless cycle and it’s impact on me and my wellbeing.

They say those that can’t do, teach. Well I call bullshit on that. I know I can work successfully in the media industry, but I choose to work hard as a teacher. I adore being a teacher and influencing students in a positive way. I choose to be a teacher because I want to, not because it’s a last resort.

At the end of every day – whether it’s a hard trying day that tests your limits or one of those which makes your heart soar – I can hold my head high and feel proud of what I do.

Bec in her journo days

What advice would you give to someone thinking of changing careers?

For anyone considering changing careers I guess my advice would be to ask what your motivation is. What do you want to achieve? Know if you’re motivated by money, workplace satisfaction or the need to try your hand at a new industry.
Plan for potential income differences and lifestyle changes. Will your new job require after hours work or weekend shifts? Will you need a new wardrobe? What skills do you need to achieve this change?

But most of all, make sure you have passion!
Passion is the thing that gets me up in the morning when those bags under my eyes could shelter a family.
Passion is the thing that keeps me working on my University assignments most weekends.
Passion is what gives me the patience to try and understand what my students have experienced and what drives them.
Passion is what makes my lessons engaging and hopefully interesting to students.
Passion is what breaks my heart when I see how badly economic and social disadvantage impacts school outcomes.
Passion is what makes me so happy and content in the classroom.

Sky’s the limit

Thank you so much Bec! It’s so important we have teachers like you who keep kids engaged and wanting to go to school.

P.S. Women in the Know: My sister on surviving long haul flights

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WTF are they doing upstairs? An ode to apartment living

Tenderising meat?! Jogging on the spot? Breaking in tap shoes? Repeatedly hurling a medicine ball at the same spot on the floor? These are all things I’ve actually considered while staring perplexedly at the ceiling wondering what is making that sound.

Living with upstairs neighbours is new to me, so I’m still somewhat charmed and fascinated with the weird noises that come through the floor. We’re only a block of six, but there’s also apartments next door so sometimes it’s hard to determine exactly who does singing practice at precisely 9pm every evening. There’s also someone (a woman?) who sneezes three times every morning. An odd ritual.

I’m well aware if I can hear them, they can hear me. I like to wonder what I annoy people with. I’m pretty sure blasting murder podcasts while I cook steak with an exhaust fan that belongs in a museum is up there.

This made me chuckle out loud:

I guess the solution is to live on the top floor… Do you have any neighbour horror stories?

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Friday Links

A dreamy photo from Crete

How has your week been? With the Anzac public holiday on Wednesday I’ve been so lost but my sources tell me it is indeed Friday.

It’s been a big week for true crime fans with police making an arrest in the Golden State Killer case. I’ve been meaning to read Michelle Macnamara’s book I’ll be gone in the dark since it came out at the end of February. Her letter to the killer is bone chillingly good. I went to buy the book today and it’s sold out everywhere! Kindle it is.

22 Ambassadors share the one book to read before visiting their country

Things that 50-year-olds know that 20-somethings often don’t.

5 easy ways to break your phone addiction (I need to do this!)

This colour and plant filled home gives me serious apartment envy

This movie trailer about three identical strangers is insane

How to be confident

Is this the best time of the day to work out?

I chuckled at this old blog post of mine 26 things I’ve never done at 26. Since writing that I’ve done four of those things!

Hope you have a great weekend x

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Itchy feet

I’m sitting at the dining table, listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong while sipping lukewarm coffee from the percolator, wishing I was anywhere but here. Doesn’t that sound dramatic?!

Lately I’ve had such itchy feet- not from a nasty fungal infection, I might add. The desire to take off and travel hasn’t been this strong for a while. Last night at the pub I listened with uncontainable envy to an English couple who are wrapping up their year in Australia with a 6 month jaunt across Aus, New Zealand and SE Asia. Then I was all ears while a different woman explained her recent three-month road trip across Australia. Oof. Got me right in the itchy feet feels.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed setting up a home and filling it with (too many) indoor plants. Melbourne doesn’t have the ‘most liveable’ tag for no reason- I’ve loved squeezing in as many comedy festival shows as possible, eating amazing food, seeing bizarrely wonderful art one day and white knuckle footy games the next. In the next month alone I’ve got a symphony orchestra show booked, a talk with an instagram famous illustrator and an amateur musical production of ‘Ghost’ to look forward to. But I also have work, and bills and all the fun obligations of living in one place.

I am excited for our next trip: two weeks in New Caledonia and New Zealand. But I’m greedy and want more, plus more long term traval. Still on the travel bucket list: Sri Lanka, Portugal, the Philippines, Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique, Israel, Jordan, India… just to name a few. Have you got a trip planned? Where have you always wanted to go? What’s on your travel bucket list? I’m like a recently reformed smoker around secondhand smoke- hearing about your travels helps with the cravings, so lemme have ’em!

(above photo from my post on Ischia, Italy) 

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How was your week?

Cactus Country, Strathmerton VIC

I like taking stock of my week on a Friday. The working week is (almost) done and it’s time to cruise carefree into the weekend. I had a pretty great week.

Last Saturday mum and I visited Cactus Country, an amazing cactus farm in regional Victoria. I’ve seen it pop up on a few well known bloggers’ instagram accounts of late and I think it’s getting pretty popular. They have a ridiculously huge collection of cacti from all over the world, plonked in a field surrounded by Australian bush. The landscape was so cool and alien looking. The staff seemed a little overwhelmed with guest numbers; with the popularity of cacti and how damn instagrammable it is I think they’re going to have to hire more people quick smart.

This week I did a mini challenge of spending nothing all week! It was pretty interesting and I was surprised how long I could make food stretch. I might blog more about it later.

On Wednesday night Andy and I booked flights to New Caledonia and New Zealand (Queenstown) for July/August. Two new countries! Any tips let me know.

Speaking of travel, my sister is in Mozambique at the moment and her instagram is giving me major travel envy.

On Thursday a project I have been working on communicating hit the media in a pretty major way, so I was pretty stoked with that. It’s nice to see the pay-off of hard work.

Tomorrow I am cruising around some plant shops (dangerous) with my friend Claire and on Sunday I’m checking out the autumn leaves at Mt Macedon, about an hour from Melbourne.

On my mind is whether to get the passenger side of my car fixed- I accidentally got a little friendly with a pole in the underground car park at home a few weekends ago…

Hoping my football team wins, or at least doesn’t disgrace itself too badly tonight.

How was your week? Hope you have a great weekend!

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My latest Instagram obsession

Instagram is a strange beast. As least three times in as many recent weeks I’ve heard someone tell me how they’ve done a huge cull of who they follow on the app, whittling down to only the accounts that make them feel happy or inspired. These friends unfollowed accounts that made them feel inadequate and lacking in their own lives, their jobs, travels, bodies, homes and style. It seems like a no-brainer doesn’t it?! Why did all these smart women unwittingly follow people whose shiny, filtered lives made them feel shit by comparison?! But it’s really common.

I occasionally follow a ‘fit-spiration’ Insta account, but usually get bored and unfollow them pretty quickly. I can only pretend to be interested in so many organic smoothie recipes and yoga poses. I unfollowed super popular Instagrammer Steph Claire Smith because I worried her incessantly frequent bum pics would have people thinking I was consuming soft p*rn on the train to work. But 1.3 million other people disagree with me!
So who is worth following?! Here is my latest Instagram obsession:

Dreaming of spring… #myprovenceeverydayobjects

A post shared by Jamie Beck (@annstreetstudio) on

Can you believe that’s^ a photo?!

Jamie Beck is an artist whose incredible photos look like renaissance paintings. She’s currently in Provence for a year and posts videos of the painstaking creation of still life scenes like the one above. I’m not a huge art buff but the way she bends and shapes her subjects is so fascinating and satisfying. A splay of a tulip here, the crunch of an onion skin there, it’s so meticulous and usually set to an amazing sound track. Never would have thought I’d be into something like this! She also posts beautiful scenes from Paris.

Who do you recommend following? Please let me know your recommendations! Have you given up on posts and pretty much just watch stories now?! I have!

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Women in the Know: My sister on surviving long haul flights

Sarah, a wee bit excited to see an elephant in Zambia

I like to think I know a thing or two about travel, but if I’m completely honest it’s my sister who is the expert. Like me Sarah was born with the travel bug and was taken abroad before she had teeth. But having spent almost the last five years living overseas I’m prepared to concede she’s the foremost authority on long haul travel. Sarah has a full passport, a knack for avoiding jetlag and a deep-seated hatred for people who jump up to leave as soon as the plane touches down. As part of my new Women in the Know series I’ve asked her to share some tips for surviving the less enjoyable aspects of travel.

Tell us where you have lived and travelled in the past 5 years?

In 2013 I moved to Samoa for what was meant to be 1 year living abroad, from there I moved to London for further study which took me to Rwanda, where I’ve now lived for over two years. Compared to Australia, Rwanda actually feels incredibly central – its 8 hours direct from London and 6 hours from Dubai! Since living here I’ve been lucky enough to visit all the bordering countries – Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and the DRC, plus Kenya, Zambia, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, France, the UK, Sri Lanka, India, and Australia.

Sarah in Savai’i, Samoa

I’m always jealous of your smart comfortable travel attire, what are your tricks?

I’m not wanting to dress fancy on a long-haul flight, but I also try to avoid looking too schlubby because I always seem to bump into people I know in airports. Or one time I saw Tom Jones! And who wants Tom Jones to see them in tracky daks? So I always wear:

  • Black leggings that are thick and good quality so they are borderline pants.
  • A Big Blankety Scarf, for my sleeping on the plane routine (see below!) and generally for plane warmth. In summer the one I use is actually a Turkish towel I bought in Crete but I feel like it works as a scarf?
  • Underwireless bra.
  • Slip on shoes, for ease of security check and foot swelling situations.
  • My Uniqlo fleece jacket that folds down into a tiny bag, comes with me everywhere, and is collarless so somehow feels a bit less like hiking wear.

Aforementioned Uniqlo fleece jacket… oh and a gorilla! Rwanda

What are your in-flight must haves?

I have a little pouch of in-flight essentials that lives in a drawer in my bathroom whenever I’m not travelling, so I can just grab it and go. In it:

  • Eye-mask from Amazon.
  • Putty earplug which I would upgrade to noise-cancelling earbuds if I wasn’t sure I would lose them immediately. These babies are cheap and you can pick them up in any chemist!
  • Wipes and hand sanitizer because planes are gross.
  • Lucas’s Paw Paw ointment because planes are dry – I dab it inside my nostrils when the plane air dries them out.
  • Socks because planes are cold.
  • Aesop Ginger Flight Therapy which was given to me and to be honest for the longest time I wasn’t sure what to do with a ‘pulse-point therapy roll on’ (nice smelling oil in a little bottle) but then one time someone got onto a flight next to me with the most horrific B.O. I rolled the oil onto a tissue, stuck the tissue into the neck of my top and covered my head with my Big Blankety Scarf and had my own little aromatherapy situation that totally overpowered the terrible B.O.

Cartagena, Colombia

How do you avoid jetlag and manage to get some shut-eye on the plane?

When I fly from Africa to Australia it’s 2 x 10 hour flights – and I probably sleep about 8 hours of each flight. I strongly believe that most of what people think of as jetlag is actually fatigue. I also strongly disagree that you should try and adjust to the new time zone on the flight; my personal theory is that if you sleep as much as you possibly can on the flight, your body will be so confused about what time it’s meant to be on so you can just do a hard reset when you land. It always works for me – I rarely suffer any jetlag in either direction.

A lot of people claim to not be able to sleep on planes, but I say they’re not trying hard enough. It’s easy to get on a plane and feel all excited by the movies and the free food but I say this: have you not seen movies before? Have you not eaten average food before? You have, dear reader, and you will again, so knuckle down and focus on sleeping through this flight so you can hit the ground running on arrival. This is how I do it:

  • I always try to be last on the flight, so once I’m in I know I won’t be interrupted by anyone else boarding and also I can spot free seats. Once the doors are closed, I settle in – shoes off, socks on, earplugs in, eye mask on, Big Blankety Scarf over the head and around the neck and shoulders for warmth, personal aromatherapy depending on how I’m feeling, airline blanket tucked in. It’s kind of a sensory deprivation situation and its key to being able to sleep.
  • I ignore the meals; I make sure I’ve eaten a good meal before boarding and take snacks so I can sleep through the food. I sit there, until I fall asleep. Sometimes this takes what feels like ages! Maybe an hour or more! This is what I mean when I say if you think you can sleep on planes you’re not trying hard enough – most people would try for maybe 20 minutes and then give up and watch a movie, but if you’re patient and committed to it, you will fall asleep and stay asleep, and it will make the flight go by amazingly
    fast, and your arrival be that much more pleasant.

Big Sur, California. I think I have a photo in the very same spot?!

What are some hints for effective packing (i.e. not just throwing it all in a bag and hoping for the best)?

I am pretty obsessive about packing light because I hate schlepping around things I don’t need. If possible, I travel with only carry-on. I did a 6-week trip to Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico, and a month in India with only a carry-on size backpack. I just came back from 8 days in Nairobi for work with only carry-on. When you only have carry-on, you get out of the airport so much quicker, you move around so much more easily, and there is no risk of having your bag lost which is always an enormous ball-ache!

The key to packing light is that it takes time – if you pack in a rush you will throw all sorts of random stuff in there, but if you take time to plan outfits rather than just throwing in clothes willy-nilly, and you’re prepared to hand-wash things on the road (do it in the shower!), you can take so much less.

Going bananas in Cuba

Any final tips?

Always assume if you’re checking in that your bag will be delayed and ensure you have a spare set of essentials in carry-on, memorise your passport details to make immigration and flight booking smoother, and for the love of god don’t stand up as soon as the plane lands.

And where to in 2018?

The US, Indonesia and Malawi for work, Mozambique for fun, Egypt and Romania to visit my husband’s family, Tanzania and Spain for weddings, and Australia for Christmas.

Sarah and I in Crete circa 2016

In Kenya last year

Thanks Sarah, for being my first Woman in the Know!

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Women in the Know

Expert women weaving in Peru

I am fortunate to be surrounded by incredible women. Women who are smart, creative, strong, resilient and know how to get shit done.

They know about everything from travel, craft, makeup and paperwork to being sustainable, cooking, crunching numbers, keeping fit and healthy.

I love learning from them and I feel like we don’t do enough knowledge sharing anymore. Skills that were once passed down from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, classmate to classmate, woman to woman. So much is lost when we don’t ask and don’t share.

I want to learn from the women in my life and share their knowledge, so I’ve started a new series called Women in the Know. I’ve asked some of my close family and friends to contribute, but I’m definitely branching out and asking YOU what you’re an expert on. If you want to write about what you know (where to get the best dumplings, how not to get ripped off at the mechanic, how to train for a marathon) whatever it may be, do drop me a line! My first post is coming up next, keep a look out.

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How to walk to work avoiding blisters, creeps and getting sweaty

*If only* I walked to work across the Brooklyn Bridge! ❤

I recently had a message from a lovely follower on Instagram who asked me to cover the topic of walking to work. I was delighted on two fronts; firstly to have a topic to blog about and secondly because I have a weird affection for morning routines. It turns out a lot of people do! Remember this post on breakfast? So many great comments.

When I began working in the city in late November I opted to walk instead of commuting via tram. I had just left a job where I drove 17km to the office in the suburbs and the prospect of walking was honestly the main reason I was excited to start my new role. I had visions of arriving at work fresh and invigorated from my 4.5km jaunt and getting home in the evening, sufficiently wound-down and clear-headed.

There are a few considerations with walking to work; how do you manage all the pairs of shoes needed? How do you get to work without being drenched in sweat? Here are my tips for pounding the pavement to work and back again:

Shoes

When walking at least 9km a day ‘comfortable flats’ is an oxymoron. Flat shoes generally don’t provide enough support, so super light runners are the way to go (also quite the fashion statement!). I keep a pair of suede black heels – that I’m highly unlikely to need on weekends, under my desk to swap into or carry work shoes in a tote bag with me.

Clothes

I’ve tried walking in active wear as well as my work clothes. Unless it’s really hot or I need to walk super fast I prefer just wearing my work clothes. I find it too risky to pack a change of clothes in case I forget something or crush a freshly ironed shirt. Plus it’s a lot to carry with everything else. Sometimes I do arrive at work a little hot and sweaty, so I just sit and cool down on a bench out the front or at my desk for a moment. Then I head to the bathroom and cover myself in a light cloud of deodorant. No complaints so far!

Bag

I don’t have a very big handbag so I carry a material tote bag over my shoulder containing my change of shoes, lunch and an umbrella. The bag is super light (I got it from Tommy Hilfiger at least 10 years ago) and folds up really small, it’s also wider than your average tote so if I need to grab food on the way home there’s plenty of room.

Podcasts

A commute that takes an hour and a half a day (most of which is waiting at pedestrian crossings) leaves plenty of time for my all-round favourite pastime: listening to podcasts. If you like true crime I recommend: My Favourite Murder, Dirty John and Trace. If you like great human interest stories/storytelling and interviews I recommend: The Moth, Death Sex & Money, Mortified and S Town. If you like high production value stories on human behaviour, science and history I recommend Human/Ordinary, Invisibilia, Revisionist History and This American Life. That is an overwhelming list, at the moment I pretty much just binge My Favourite Murder with a few This American Lifes thrown in. I’ll do a dedicated post on podcasts with episode recommendations soon!

Safety

There are some really average drivers and cyclists around… Make sure you stay alert while crossing roads and for the love of god please don’t look down at your phone while walking! Also once I had a weird experience with a man who sidled up next to me while I was completely zoned out listening to My Favourite Murder. He practically stood in front of me to get my attention, so I had to stop and take out my earphones. Then he asked me out. I was SO mad at being interrupted! And also worried I’d encounter him again. But I didn’t! Be aware: creeps are everywhere. SSDGM

Enjoy!

Walking is a really nice way to commute and if you live close enough to work, I highly recommend giving it a go. It’s good for your health, cheaper than public transport and a whole lot better for the environment than driving.

How do you get to work?

(How walking to work changed my life)

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I moved!

Our new lounge room

It’s been a long time between drinks around here. I could blame my lack of blogging on being busy (which I have been!) but I’ve also just lacked inspiration, if i’m completely honest. This blog will be 7 years old in May, it’s taken many forms over those years and I’m still figuring out what it will be in 2018. If you have any ideas let me know! I do take requests- a lovely person in Instagram asked me to cover a certain topic on here so I’ll be posting that soon.

So my biggest news is that we moved house a few weeks ago! I’ve been having the best time decorating. Andy and I moved from a share house where we owned almost none of the furniture to our own 2 bedroom apartment, so there was a bit of a mad scramble to get the vitals. Like forks! I’m happy to report all of my plants survived and a few more have joined the family. So far only the lounge room is complete, but I’m looking forward to sharing more rooms soon. We also moved to a new suburb, so I plan on finding the best local smashed avo and happy hour.

How are things with you? Have a great week!

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