Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Shock of Success!

Isn’t it funny when you get that feeling when you exceed your own expectations? You surprise yourself, you are in shock that you could actually surpass your own measurements of success? No matter how great or small they are perceived to be, this feat should always be celebrated! I am humble, so I will celebrate this with myself (oh yeah and anyone that reads this). Now to you, this may not make much sense. But to me, it feels great! I saw my name today appear on the ReachLocal internal Platform's 'Agency Heartbeat', this is the central hub where all of our online advertising campaigns sit within. This 'Platform' we call 'Campaign Central' stores every single advertising campaign we have running, live and in real time Nationally. And there it was. TWICE Number 4 in Australia for monthly portfolio growth and number 4 in the Australia for quarterly portfolio growth! WOWZAHS. Total shock. To most in the company, this is quite standard, we have many top performers, the usual suspects if you know what I mean whose names are constantly gliding across the screen. But to little old me, this is a win. and it gives me the motivation I need to climb up that ranking as much as my clients wants to climb up that front page of Google, Yahoo and Bing!

So it has been a while since I have written, and I am very angry with myself for being so un-disciplined. I can get myself up and out of bed in the ferocious Winter months at 5.30am to train on a Beach, I can Manage a full-time job with massive demands, I can run a household, a child and a husband, yet I can't spare half an hour to write my blog? Not cool! So I make a commitment right now that I will make an entry once per fortnight.

Last time I wrote, I was finalising my shoot for my TV Presenting showreel and I am pleased to announce that it is nearly finished! Once I got over the weirdness of seeing myself on a television screen, I took a step back and thought, 'Mel, it's not half bad!' To be fair, my final shoot on location, a piece I have done about gambling in elite athletes is excellent (content, delivery), HOWEVER, I look like a total male penguin waddling up Barkly Street. Either that or an obese male trucker. So I have decided to re-shoot that and get some professional advice on how to walk? Because as it would appear, I have not been doing it that long?! Once that is shot and edited I will be hitting the masses and aiming high!

We were gearing up to celebrate Daniel's 365 days of 'sobriety'. How far he has come, how far we have come! I recall the first time I discovered the magnitude of the problem, the financial 'situation'. I was standing in the front yard of Tam and Nath Brown's Adelaide rental in 2008. Afi Yze had come to visit with Jasi and Noah from Melbourne. Tam Brown had put on a feed for us all, Tam Walsh had arrived also to catch up with Afi. Nath and Peter Walsh came home together after finishing up at training for West Adelaide and Daniel was going to be arriving within the hour after training with North Adelaide. I have never told her this and when I get the chance, I will tell her how monumental this moment in my life would become. Tam Walsh is a strong lady, a no bull-shit, what you see is what you get, hard working and loyal friend. She had the guts after years and years of Chinese whispers, footballers 'code of silence' crap to tell me exactly what was going on with my husband. She pulled me aside out to the front garden, we stood in Tam and Nath's driveway and with tears in her eyes, she told me what she knew of Daniel's gambling addiction and how far and extensive it had gotten.

To be honest what happened after that is a bit of a blur. I do recall being physically sick in Tam and Nath's garden and Tam or 'Wuz' as we all affectionately call her, rubbing my back, begging me not to let this effect our friendship. Wuz knew that if it were her in that same situation, a colossal and very scary situation that she would want her friends to tell her as a duty of care. And to this day, I will be forever grateful for that. After this moment I would be faced with another situation similar to this in 2010 but that is an entry for another time.

It was a tough year 2008 as it was, we thought we had a huge network of friends from the Club when Daniel finished, a lot dropped off, a lot never bothered contacting us whilst we were in Adelaide. It was hard, it hurt. We wondered what we did wrong? And for this 'rumour' to be mounting over the years and become common knowledge in the footy community killed us. Daniel found it very hard to adjust to 9-5 work life, he got job's, he lost job's, he suffered from depression, he felt like a failure, he never wanted to return to Melbourne Football Club again. Imagine in your second or third encounter with a new boss, in a business you have been with for over a decade, meets with you after you request a meeting instead of delaying what felt like was going to be inevitable and that person politely informs you that whilst you have been a great servant of the Club, you are no longer required? Daniel describes it as just like being stabbed in the heart and sucker punched all at the same time. All of a sudden a place that was your second home, you no longer feel you are welcome. You are yet another name on a locker and will soon be forgotten. That Club was our family. And we lost our family that day. Or so we thought, it would not be until the beauty of hindsight would prove us wrong later in life. We now have a level of understanding that whilst you are involved in an institution such as an AFL Club for a sustained period of time, it becomes a 'bubble', I often refer to it as that as you would all know!

So Rylee and I decided for Daniel's 365 days we would make the trip to the Central Murray to watch him coach and play for the Mallee Eagles. And to our delight Cam and Jules insisted on bringing Holly and coming on the road trip to be with us. What a wonderful weekend we had. Great company, lot's of reflecting and reminiscing, a down to the wire footy game that saw the Eagles lose by 1 point after fighting back from a 10 goal deficit - wow what heart. I know Daniel was so appreciative that his best mate who is getting over an injury himself and doing his best to get back into the mighty Hawks side before Season's end would make the 4 hour one way trip down. I think it was good for Cam to get away from the big smoke!

We celebrated my 31st birthday, my beautiful Mum's 61st birthday and my Dad's 61st birthday with the family! The usual suspects appeared at my birthday drinks Queen's Birthday weekend and we had an absolute blast! I even managed to sing a song with the one man band which was a rush let me tell you.

We welcomed Jo, Daniel's Mum back from her well overdue and deserved trip to Canada and the USA. She was glowing upon her return and it was such a relief to see her that way after months of worrying about her. Spending time with Peita and Aaron is like being in front of a warm fireplace with your jim jams on and a smooth glass of red wine in your hand. You just feel so relaxed and safe. So I can see why it did Jo the world of good to spend that time with her daughter, the backbone of the family really. Peita is a Psychologist and it's funny, I always want to get deep with her, she was born to listen and always has such a logical and objective perspective on life (I guess that's a common trait of the Psychologist, but Peita truly belongs in that role). She is an extremely thoughtful, deep thinker and you always feel safe to spill your guts to her. I love that about her.

Daniel is coming to terms with the reality of his Stepfather, groomsman in our wedding, trusted confident, Rylee's 'Poppy' and once best mate, entering into a sexual relationship with Karen, Jo's cousin, her blood, (I know it is like an episode of Springer really) whilst she was living on Jo and Phil's 9 acre property, rent free after separating from her husband! When I read that back to myself it just re-affirms how extraordinary that whole scenario is. These two people have clearly demonstrated no remorse, no spine, no accountability. The devastation, awkwardness and strain that this has created to not only the immediate family but the extended family, they will never fully understand whilst they are embroiled in their own selfish and dysfunctional relationship that will only lead to more lies, deceit and one day a cruel end as a leopard never changes it's spots............. Amazing how you begin to see a person, I mean really see a person.........

Friday, 10 June 2011

Red Red Wine !

I write this blog the day after the night before, when I made the decision that drinking nearly entire bottle of red wine would help me calm my nerves at Daniel's Commercial Sales Team dinner (first time I was to meet his colleagues). Well, mission accomplished. I drank my way to desensitisation! Why is it when we consume copious amounts of alcohol, all of a sudden, we are the most hilarious people that ever walked the earth? Oh yes, I was very much the comedian. It seemed I had our half of the table in stitches. Not only was I persistantly telling ridiculous stories, I was trying to sell them all a ReachLocal solution! Don't you ever wish that you were filmed during these 'altered state of mind' sessions? Were they really laughing with me, or at me, or was I the only one finding my mindless humour funny? On second thought I think it's best that the convenient amnesia sets in and we carry on like nothing ever happened!  

In spite of the niggling voice inside my head telling me to not turn up to bootcamp, I dragged my boozy, garlicy, bloated-self out of bed at 5.30am and as always drove on the wrong side of the road until I cleared out the peepers, to Sandringham Beach to be completely enhialated by Paul and Luis from Original KBox. I could feel last night's greek feast working it's way back up from the depths of my stomach and up to my esophagus as Helen and I were sprinting up Beach Road holding 8kg medicine balls above our heads. We must have looked like right moron's to the early birds on their way into work at that hour. Man, the humiliation when we start to do an exercise called 'double time' on the grassy area adjacent to the rotunda, which happens to be right opposite the pedestrian crossing where car's bank up in peak hour. I liken this exercise to the dance move pulled by the character 'Alex Owens' played by Jennifer Beals in the 1983 hit movie Flashdance. You know the one, the crazy running-man move, she is running on the spot in 'double time' to the song 'Maniac' by Michael Sembello. God I love that move but in the privacy and comfort of my own home, not particularly to the business men and women of Bayside!

It was a miracle. I survived the session and felt better for it, ready to face the day at work!

Prior to this night, I had managed to perform my 'introduction to Mel Ward' piece in class which I must admit, flowed naturally for me on the night. What a challenge, try and describe yourself by 'being' the adjectives that best describe you, not listing them. Hmmmm, struggled with this concept. I had worked myself into such a frenzy in the lead up that I nearly psyched myself out of it! And then it hit me like a bolt of lightning. JUST BE YOURSELF DICK. Why are you trying to mimic Catriona Rowntree? Why are you trying to speak like Jana Wendt? Back yourself Mel. A concept that I never used to deem appropriate, fearing that I could be perceived as being 'cocky' or 'arrogant'. Two word's that LEAST describe me. You CAN succeed, you are pretty good at this and you know what, it's ok to have faith in yourself, to believe in yourself.

Writing an autocue piece for class, practice it and perfom it was the next assignment. I would have been slightly concerned if I could not nail this! I loved it, it is amazing how much more relaxed you are when relying on the autocue instead of your own brain (which has let me down many times in my nearly 31 years)! I decided to talk about my Mother in Law's amazing Day Spa and Bed & Breakfast in Portarlington. Yeah, yeah, yeah Postcardsesque I know, but let me tell you, this is a show I would love to work on!

Which brings me to my next rant. What a lovely idea of Paul Wheatley and Beck Martial to arrange a catch up for some ex Demonites at The Matthew Flinders Hotel in Chadstone. Paul played with Daniel at Melbourne, Daniel refer's to Paul as 'his Rookie' or 'Dirt' or 'Dirtbag'! They have an amazing bond and connection those two. Paul and Beck are engaged, they have 2 beautiful chidren Jade who I am pretty sure is 3 and Logan who would be a 5 or so months old (sorry guys if I am wrong, you know I am useless when it comes to ages, birthday's and date's!). Beck is a pretty phenominal chick. She has experienced some pretty heavy losses in her life and geez she has been tested time and time again but she always has a big beautiful sime on her face and a positive outlook to boot. I have so much admiration for her. Matt and Renee Whelan also came with their two gorgeous munchkins Kai and newborn Ava. Renee and I have a special connection, we went to Primary School together and we also were aspiring Gymnasts with Mountain Districts Gymnastics Association as rugrats. How ironic our paths cross again through our partner's at Melbourne Football Club a decade later! Renee and I have a cheeky banter and I love that about our friendship, she always smiles and shakes her head at me for the silly things I say or do! Tam and Nath were there of course with Kynan, Jake and Ryder - the Brown boys we call them, they are rough, they are tough but they have hearts bigger than Phar Lap and cute? Hell yeah, they are just beautiful like their parents.

Absent were Cam, Jules and Holly and Russ, Brooke and Tex - I missed having them there. The pleasant suprise of the night was getting to see Brad, Pia, Issiah and Lenny Miller. It had been years! You know it's been a long time between drinks when you actually put your heads together only to come up blank when trying to work out when the last time you saw one another was. Brad seems great, the smiling assasin, he has an intriguing grin that leads you to think 'that boy is cheeky with a capital C'! I had known Brad since he first came to Melbourne Football Club, he must have only been 18 years of age and we hit it off straight away. We had our moments over the years but all in all we were mates, he used to call me 'Captain of the girlfriends' which I thought was kind of nice. When he started to date Pia I remember the first time I saw her. She took my breath away. So beautiful! Shy at first but once you got to talking, this bright and bubbly girl emerged and you couldn't help but want to be around her. Pia is very spiritual and calming and I remember when were approaching the end of both Daniel's and Brad's contract's as Melbourne Demon's we spoke every day for weeks speculating, stressing I am sure crying but most of all bonding.

Pia has worked hard and has secured movie role's, television role's, ambassador role's, modelling gigs and presenting role's. When I see her sparkling eyes peering out to me, like she is looking right into me from either her picture in the paper, or when she is in a fabulous city on Postcards it takes me back to all those years ago and I realise how much I miss those times with her.

Pia and I had a great catch up, we watched the kids play and bowl, we reminisced and I have to say I am so glad the Miller's came to dinner. I know that everyone enjoyed their company it was just like old times.

On our way home from the dinner, Rylee and I were chatting in the car 'Mum, why do boys like trains?' 'Well honey, they might just like train's, or maybe they want to be train driver's when they grow up?!' Rylee replies in her sweet sweet 4 year old voice 'Yeah, totally, just like I want to be a Barbie when I grow up!' God help us!

Aside from these highlights my week was busy as always with work, chipping away at my new business pipeline, trying to get my head around ReachCast by pitching over and over again to Daniel the poor love.

But looming in the back of my mind is the sense that Daniel is still struggling with the recent events in his family. He doesn't say much about it, he saves that for his Psychology sessions most of the time. And don't worry, we are open about Daniel seeing a Psych! Front Page of The Herald Sun kinda does that to you! This time of year should be exciting for him, he is approaching 365 days of sobriety from gambling! We have worked so hard together as a team, Daniel, myself, Jo his Mum, Margie is Nan, Peita his sister, Aaron his brother in law, Shirley his Great Aunt, Deb his Aunty and her hubbie Graham, Ken my Dad, Colleen my Mum, Bec my sister and Nath my brother in law to be. The one man who he trusted more than any other, the one person who he thought he could rely on as a Father after his own Father abandomed he and Peita at such a young age, walked out right on Joanne, his wife's 50th birthday. Who does that? And if that wasn't enough, sadly for Jo and the entire family that this effects, it was revealed that Daniel and Peita's only Father figure was unfaithful in more ways than one. And this horrible and shocking twisted chain of events is tormenting Daniel more than anybody can imagine.......................

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Juggling Act

Excuse the spelling errors I am deliriously tired!!!!

James Freemantle. 20 years experience in the communications and training industry. A television personality himself, having been on 7's Coxy's Big Break for 8 years, 9's Postcards and Talk to the Animals and 10's Bread! James was even an International anchor on Russia Today, a 24-hour News channel broadcasting across Europe, the USA and the UK! Impressive. Yeah that's what I was thinking when I walked into last weeks class. What better person than he to guide we budding Presenters?! The best thing about this class was we were far more relaxed then the first week. We let loose, learnt some valuable breathing technique's, presented some pieces to camera and worked on our intro's that will begin our showreels! We bonded. Lucy, Heidi and I hit it off from the get go. Heidi, a stunning blonde bombshell whom of which you could imagine presenting celebrity gossip on E News, we have so much common ground and are of similar age. And Lucy, a spectacular looking quintessential 'cool' chick who exudes MTV and is incredibly funny. All 3 of us share a very dry and warped sense of humour and the dynamic between us just works! Oh yeah and we are trout mouth's!  

The week continues: 6.30am start in the ReachLocal office the next day after class to be part of the first ever Global Sales call hosted by the USA Office. Zorik Gordon: Founder and CEO of ReachLocal Inc, Google him, he is the single most brilliant man I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His vision for this great company I work for is extraordinary and Nathan Hanks, one of ReachLocal Founder's and Chief Distribution Officer literally is the most excitable, enthusiastic, inspirational and motivational person I have ever listened to! I sit in this meeting reminiscing about previous jobs and times when I may have been seriously pissed to be dragged into the office at such a crazy hour but realising that I was part of something special.

Fleeting thoughts of my little girl pass through my head and I start to feel sad that I am not with her on this morning. But I know one day, she will be so proud of me and will learn from me. It is so important that my time with her on the weekends is that of quality, activities that make her happy. Seeing her smile and laugh is the best feeling that one could have.

The rest of the working week pans out very well. With 6 new business meetings flying past, a marathon ReachCast training session from our National Training Manager and ReachLocal Director who I affectionately call 'Uncle Ken' (ReachCast happens to be the most amazing online reputation managment and social marketing solution for businesses), constant words of encouragment from my new Manager Dale, I am feeling like things are coming along nicely in Mel's Internet Marketing Consultant world!

I manage to squeeze in a Bootcamp on Friday, Helen my partner in crime makes me laugh. She has such wit and I enjoy her company a lot. I met Helen through one of my nearest and dearest friends Brooke Robertson about 6 years ago. I chew the poor things ear off every morning bitching and carrying on about the things that are really pissing me off in my life! I think she is going to start charging me not only for my hair (she is an awesome hairdresser) but for the 'Psychology' sessions I force her into.

I launch into the weekend with GLEE! date night with my beau on Friday, so nice to have a night together, thank God for the bye in the Central Murray Leauge for Lalbert this week! Sat morning Rylee has swimming, God I love watching her in the water, although she is aquatically challenged she is a real go getter and gives it her all! A quick catch up with Heid's and Luce to practice and prepare for our intro pieces we are filing in class on Monday night and then time to prepare for the evening............

A great friend De Woewodin, yep another former WAG (I wonder what we can title Coaches wives now that Shane is Assistant at the Brissi Lions - CAG?) was coming down from Brisbane to help celebrate Afijet Yze's birthday on Saturday night at the Flowerdrum, yep another former WAG too! Tamara Brown, best friend and Mother of the year and you guessed it ANOTHER former WAG organized the whole kit and caboodle and wow did she do a brilliant job of co-ordinating all the gang. It was the reunion we had been waiting for! Daniel's Mum Jo came over late arvo, she was off on a whirlwind trip to the States to see my Sis and Bro in Law who are living in Canada the next morning, we volunteered to take her to the airport Sunday morning. Worked out well because it meant that she could spend the night with Rylee whilst we are out. So happy she is doing this for herself, she has been through hell lately (that's another story) so I am pleased she is taking time out.

Honestly when we left the Melbourne Football Club I would never had imagined I would have maintained the friendships I did, the obvious one's dropped off but the real keepers, the one's you want for life are the one's I still talk to and see regularly and there is something to be said about that. We had an amazing culture, an amazing camaraderie, this incredible bond that no other environment will ever emulate again. I speak to Tam Brown and Julia Bruce (who is my other best friend who I refer to as my lobster) every day and you would think that we would run out of things to say? Nope. I am very lucky to be part of a special group of people especially to have these two in my life. I guess when your partner's go through so much together, playing finals, losing finals, losing a GRAND FINAL, being restricted in their social activities etc you tend to gravitate to those who get it and are in the same situation. Oh the fun we all used to have, whenever the boys would play interstate it would be a given - champagne and nibbles at Mel and Daniel's. I miss those times and catch myself smiling at the fun we all had! I remember Neale Daniher being such a character, I had a great rapport with him and his beautiful wife Jan who I miss dearly! Maree Royal, wife of Brian Royal was the life of the party with her bourbon and coke in one hand teaching Brooke and I how to wedge a 50c piece up our butts and successfully release it into a glass positioned on the floor after the 2000 Grand Final is a moment I will never forget!

Afijet seemed to have a great time on the night, we ate some amazing food, although I think the decor at The Flowerdrum needs some serious updating! I got to catch up with more former WAGS in Julia Nicholson who I have the utmost respect and admiration for, Belinda Bradley who is a very strong and inspirational lady, Trudy Rigoni the quiet achiever with the biggest heart, Olga Anderson who we used to look up to as the Mum of the Demonette's and the stunning Anna Green who is still in the system with Brad of course Captain this year.

And, after all these years the same pattern of behaviour from all the boys..... Boys up one end of the table, girls up the other! Some things will never change.........

The usual suspects rolled on to the old Arizona Bar, we drank, we danced we talked, Jules planked, Jules stacked - it was on for young and old! God I love my lobster!

After an amazing Sunday of playing with my Princess and resting from the night before's activity it was time to prepare for the week ahead.

Big week at ReachLocal in terms of signing new deals and INTRO FILMING in class!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bring it on...........

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

And so it begins.........

Well here I sit after another long and eventful day on the job at ReachLocal Australia! How am I functioning still? Is it only Tuesday? The week started off with a BANG.

Monday. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm goes off, scares the absolute bejesus out of me. I spring out of bed not really knowing where I mustered up the energy to do that with such vigour? Perhaps it was because for the first time in a long time, I had a quiet weekend with Rylee. My training clothes for bootcamp are neatly laid out on the couch in the family room ready for me to slowly climb into. I hear the rain outside and think to myself 'Why Mel?'. Yet, I reassure myself that it will be ok once I get there and also remind myself that I need to lose the spare tyre staring back at me because it isn't going to just disappear all by it's gurgling self. Brush the fangs, tip toe through the hallway, stub my toe on the clothes horse, drop my Ventolin inhaler, pick it up like it never happened praying that the sound did not wake Daniel up. And out the door I go. Jump in Derrick (my Dualis), freezing, blast the heater, eyes fuzzy, woops bush in driveway clips the window, wrong side of the road, woops again - time to administer eye drops. Slowly make my way up towards the Highway and I hear the phone beep. 'Due to bad weather bootcamp has been cancelled.' NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So after that anti-climax, I decide to plonk on the couch and watch my favourite show,Grey's Anatomy from the Thursday night before. Self disciplined Mel would say: 'Get off the couch and go for a run, you are up after all'. See this is the life of a Mum, especially the working Mum. We play catch up to all our favourite shows whenever we can, this time for me 5.50am seemed like the most appropriate time, bugger the run! Once that was done, I got myself ready to head into the office where I was feeling excited knowing we had new staff beginning.

Made it through the day, 1 meeting with a potential new client who decides he is not ready to run an online advertising campaign with me just yet. Filled in the rest of the day planning my week, polishing up proposals I needed to send out, checking results for current campaigns and my day ends with a MAD dash to the second week of my Television Presenters course.

Can hardly contain myself I am that excited. You see, this has always been my dream, to learn about people, places, try new things, entertain an audience, make people smile and laugh. I think I do it naturally? For some reason, reasons I am trying to understand even now I have doubted myself. Could it be that I have felt inferior to all the beautiful 'modelesque' type women who are out there and on T.V? Could it be that I put my own dreams aside and shifted my focus to my dear husband's career for a long long time? Could it be I am a lazy cow? All I can do is look to the future and the future is bright for me and my little family.

When I ask Rylee what she thinks about me being on T.V, she says 'Oh yes Mummy but we will need lot's of make up so that you will not see the bags under your eyes'. Bless her cotton socks. 

I arrive at Brave Studio's where I am complimented by 19 year old Ariel 'MEL, you look GORGEOUS tonight, have you had your hair done?'

I reply: 'Nah, I just found an hour to wash, blow dry and straighten it, last week it was 6 day old bootcamp bashed hair in a feral bun.' I realise that to a young girl like Ariel she would have no concept of the time restrictions one has when trying to jugglea demanding job, a child and now study. We all walk in and James Fremantle greets us with a smile............................................