Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Shape of Things

I came in tonight expecting to blow the dust off and chat with my last remaining subscriber, so I'm rather touched and gratified that there is still a little huddle of you patiently waiting for me to breeze in at my leisure.

Leisure is, in fact, in short supply 'round my casa at present as the changes I have been alluding to for a while have become my reality.

Uni has started, and I am coming to grips with the site and the learning materials; it's certainly a challenge doing it externally, as I don't have the comfort of routine and structure already created for me, but must make my own. I began by devoting 2 days of my working week (Thursday and Friday) to my readings, coursework and online lectures.

The other 3 days were meant to be devoted to my fledgling freelance business (but more about that in a moment), and (trying) to write and market my own ventures, including a shiny new blog.

Now, before I go any further, I've been thinking long and hard about a few things to do with identity and online privacy and all that razzmatazz. This blog has been filled with so much of my lint-filled navel gazing, and is rather personal in nature; especially in its infancy, when I was still married, I trod a very delicate line between revealing my true feelings and maintaining a degree of discretion I felt I owed my then-husband and little boy. And so, because I was showing pictures of us, and talking about personal things, I maintained a certain level of anonymity.

In my new work, I am going the opposite way, and am consciously setting out to be known for who I am, and what I think and do. In my new blog, I am also blogging about being a single mother, but this time I am talking from the perspective of a specialist, if you like - I shy from the word "expert" because I am far from expert, but I want to initiate a conversation for and with and particularly relevant to single mothers, so it's less about me as a person as such, and more about me as an entity, a brand, for want of a better word.

With all of that in mind, my initial impulse was to avoid drawing the line between this blog and my new one, to maintain my relative anonymity here. However, so much of my learning in the last few months has dwelt on the power of communities; what counts, in the social media/marketing/business world is what we women have long known - that relationships count, and making genuine connections with people is the only meaningful way to build a business in the long term. I have nothing to hide here - what I have shared I have done with sensitivity and respect for the other people involved, and it will ever be so. If my ex comes off looking like a shit sometimes, well, that's because he is. ;)

Mainly, I kept thinking about all of you, wonderful people that you are, who have cheered, uplifted and supported me through the highs and lows of the last few years, and how it made perfect sense to share with you the next part of my journey. This is not about business - nothing in my new blog is monetized yet, and when it is, I have absolutely no expectations that you are going to race over there and buy anything (though should you choose to, that'll be lovely, of course ;) ). It's about sharing the next exciting stage of my life with my friends. You have my back-story; now, you might like to get to know me on a different level. Or not. Your choice.

But, if you do want to come check out what I'm up to these days, drop over to The Successful Single Mama and say "Hi!". I'm still struggling to learn more about Wordpress and make the blog look and work the way I envision, so treat it as a work-in-progress - there will be changes to come, and I've got lots of content and ideas to implement yet. I'd love to see you there, and hear your thoughts. :)

Oh, and regarding the freelancing? It was working too well - trying to meet client's deadlines meant I was putting my uni work behind, and my own work even further back(like these blogs). It was lovely to know that I could do it; that people liked my work and were willing to pay for it, but it was coming at too high a price. Most importantly, it was really unfair on the little man, who had a grumpy, frenetic stress-bag for a mother.

In the last couple of weeks, I have decided to put freelancing on the back-burner, and focus on my studies and my own writing for now, until I can reach a comfortable place where I think I can do more. I've beat myself up a bit over this, as I know lots of people who seem to manage to juggle far more. However, I've begun to think we've sold ourselves a real lemon with this whole 'multi-tasking' thing. I suspect it makes us less productive, at least in terms of the quality of our output. And so, I'm being kinder to myself, and chunking things down - when the time is right, I know that I will be able to integrate freelancing into my workload, but that time is not now.

And so, here I am, revealed to you at last. You can still keep up with me here - I'd like to continue to share the more everyday, personal side of my life here, and chuck out the odd recipe and P&C exploit - yes, we've moved on from the preschool committee. Oh, and a word about the little man; I think he has outgrown 'the wee man', don't you? You'll hear about him, here and elsewhere, as 'the boyo' these days. :)

My name is Tracy Rudd, and I am a writer and blogger. Forget the 12 step program - I like how I am. Read about me here, or at, or find me @ruddygood on Twitter and chivvy me back to my studies or writing. :) xxx

Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Woman, 42, discovers she is already LIVING her New Year's Resolution.",

I'm 42.

For most of my life, I have wanted to be a writer.

Yet, when people asked me what exactly it was I wrote or wanted to write - even as recently as last week - I would pause for a moment, as I struggled to frame the answer for myself as much as for them.

The standard answer is usually "anything" as I have dabbled in most forms, from poetry and short stories to newspaper and magazine articles and editorial content, with a recent foray into web content and copywriting. I also usually neglect to mention that I blog, for some reason forgetting that composing my thoughts into a 500-1000 word post is certainly a writing exercise, and occasionally produces something actually worth reading. And, like many or most writers, I mention that I hope to have at least one good book in me...somewhere.

Yet, for most of these last 40-odd years, I have done everything BUT become the writer I have always believed I would be.

Something I read today has crystallised all I've been pondering on recently, in terms of my plans and direction in the New Year. One of the incredibly inspirational writer/bloggers I am presently enjoying, Barbara Winters of Joyfully Jobless, wrote a wonderful newsletter suggesting 10 things to do instead of making flimsy and short-lived resolutions. (I am planning on working on her suggestions once the wee man has gone to sleep tonight...a much better use of New Year's Eve for me than drinking champers and partying late, both of which give me headaches these days! Sign up for her Joyfully Jobless News if you want to know what I'll be up to...and no, I'm not paid to say that.).

Barbara quoted Cher as having said that her greatest fear was not living as well as she knew how to live and those words, and the ideas they triggered within, have hummed through my skull and my bones for most of this morning, until I had to sit down and write this post.

"That is my fear", my bones sing, and I realise how a lifetime's passion for learning and self-examination and truth and well-being are guiding me to this moment, to these pivotal thoughts on the eve of a new year, and a new decade.

As you know, this has been a very introspective year for me. A relationship of over 10 years ended last year, and the dreams and plans I held for the future have had to be examined and re-framed in the light of the very significant changes this ending brought to my life. Joyfully, I have realised that I am actually in a better position to acknowledge and achieve my true heart's desires than I was while in that particular relationship.

I have taken concrete steps towards these goals, by enrolling for university and taking baby steps towards a freelance career. For every forward step I take I stagger backwards two, under the force of self-doubt and procrastination and an over-abundance of gurus and how-to's and must-do's. It is mostly self-inflicted, as I feast at the buffet of information online while shaping my vision to become a successful freelancer and entrepreneur, and I'm not missing the opportunity to beat myself up about it.

Yet I also recognise that out of this struggle the seeds of my new future are being sown, and I trust - yes, I really DO - that they (and I) will flourish. My life has been an adventure in learning to live well, even those times when I seemed to doing the opposite. Many times, the people in my life have credited me with helping them find hope and inspiration and direction in their own journeys to living well; occasionally a bittersweet pleasure when I reflected on my own situation at the time, stalled (or so I thought) in one way or another on my own journey.

Ever a work in progress, I confess that that fear will not leave me, no matter what I achieve with the rest of my life. But rather than call it a fear, I prefer to see it as a motivating force, and I have placed my own interpretation of that quote on the top of my monitor, to remind myself every day, not just for New Year, what it's all about:

"I will live my life as fully and as well as I know how to live."

Since I'm always learning, every single day, I know I will find new ways to fulfill that aim, and to share that knowledge with the world.

At 42, I can finally call myself a writer. It's what I know. I might not be the best writer in the world, or even an extensively published one (yet!), but it's one of the things that makes my soul sing.

In 2010, I will be living my life as I fully as I can, one day at a time. Read about it here, or in other places shortly to be unveiled. And go gently into the new year and decade yourselves, with love and light in your hearts. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cricket song

The cricket song is reverberating in my ears now, as the last of the light fades. It's funny - moments after stepping out of the car this weekend, my brother's girlfriend was asking me what all the noise was, and it took a moment's pause and a re-tuning of my mental filters before I realized she was referring to the crickets. And yes, they ARE loud.

In our own everyday environment, we become used to certain sounds, smells, sights. In my world, much of the light and colour and sound comes from my little boy. He was long-ago nicknamed "the EveryReady Kid" (a nod to a battery advertisement) for his astonishing energy and ability to be "on", and on the go, from the moment he opens his eyes till the moment his eyes (and mouth) finally close.

Right now, for all the incredible reverberations of the crickets and the murmur of the TV in the background, my house is quiet. It's not unusual for him not to be here - he spends every second weekend with his father, and has been doing 4 days a week at preschool this year. Yet, somehow, when his father picked him up for their Christmas holiday in Northern Queensland, something stilled inside my house, and within me. This will be the first time my little man sees Christmas in without me, and me without him.

Sadness is probably not the right word for the feeling I'm experiencing. Fairness demands that I recognize that his father has already been through this last year, when I took the wee man to my mother's for Christmas, and I'm nothing if not fair.

Part of me is actually quite exultant at the unique pleasure of a quiet, stress-free, totally-mine-to-do-as-I-please Christmas week. I've an invite to a street party on Christmas Eve, which I'm looking forward to, but apart from a last bit of shopping and groceries tomorrow I plan to make like a hermit, and immerse myself in writing and developing the various projects I am setting up for the New Year. (More on that in the near future...look, I'm even going to have time to blog!)

Yet, as well as fair I'm also honest, and it's true that not being able to watch my baby's face light up as he realizes that, once again, the magic of Christmas has touched his world and the jolly fellow in the red suit has heeded his dreams is going to be worthy of the odd tearful moment.

But don't feel sorry for me. Think about all the things I'm going to get done! After all, it's so quiet....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Journey Inwards

If last year, 2008, was all about moving back out into the world - more volunteer activities, coordinating an event, running for local council - then, for me, 2009 has surely been the year of turning inwards.

I've come to see it as part of the healing process after my marriage breakdown, as I regained my spirit and focus after feeling lost for so many years. Last year, I needed to be able to do things for people because helping others helped me. Using my skills and passion and drive in service to others without having to justify it to anyone was a freedom I delighted in.

Sounds sad when I put it on the page, and I dare say it is. Anyone who has come from a relationship hedged about with suspicion and justification and fear will know what I mean.

Since I put the Fun Day to bed earlier this year, I have found myself turning further and further inwards. As this is the last year the wee man will be in the preschool/playgroup world, my time on the various committees I have served with is coming to an end. With each AGM rolling around, and new people taking over my positions, I have felt a sense of relief.

I have come to realise that this year has been about drawing back and turning my focus on me, and what I need now and where I am heading in the future. The future that I am creating for myself and the wee man. Examining all that esoteric stuff about who I am, and what my purpose is here on earth, and how I can better align myself with this purpose...

I have spent much time on the Internet this year, yet almost no time blogging or sharing much of my internal life online (apart from an on-going flirtation with Facebook...but, for me, that is an extension of my real-life world.).  What I have been doing is learning...and also, learning about learning.

Yes, I am returning to school. I have finally enrolled to do the university degree I deferred nearly 25 years ago, a dual major in Writing and Media.

I have also been absorbing as much as I can, from the incredible resources available for free on the 'Net, about freelance writing and article marketing and internet marketing and Wordpress and platform building. So much information, in fact, that I have resolved to do 2 things: become more focused in my reading, and take action as I read. I am limping through the set-up of my first online writing portfolio...I say limping because I feel totally inadequate doing it, and am of course absolutely unimpressed with my first efforts...and intend to experiment with some other simpler web-pages in the coming weeks to use as launchpads for various online enterprises.

Doesn't sound very esoteric or deep-and meaningful, does it? What it does sound like is a way to provide for myself and my boy, to give me the freedom to study and apply and hone my skills. A lifelong dream of myself as a published author doesn't seem so far away when I am actually writing and being paid for my writing, even if that is just small change for article mills and magazine fillers. Learning to craft ebooks about topics I can write with clarity and passion, and set up to sell 24/7, seems like the next logical thing to do.

And creating a structure for my writing, making a habit of it, is the best remedy for the procrastination I have struggled with for so many years. I'm starting my uni course as an external student, accessing lectures and tutors and coursework online, so I can't afford to let myself procrastinate.

So does this mean I'm going to be blogging more often again? Have I come out of my little cave, finished with my navel-gazing? Well, it's been rather quiet and peaceful in there....but next time, I might take you with me.

Monday, July 06, 2009

"River Evening...Or The Story Of My Life"

Enter, stage right.

Mugging, waving desperately to those few friends still sitting waiting in the wings patiently for my next grand entrance.

And… cue:

Those who have been kind enough to follow me for a little while will be aware that I’m a self-stifled creative. Once a prolific writer and sketcher, I’ve allowed age, work, love and self-doubt get in the way of the creative expression that used to be second nature to me.

Being a seasoned procrastinator doesn’t help any. I think about things a lot; story ideas, drawings and paintings, craft projects, journal entries. Heavens! even blog entries. I turn them around in my head, refine and polish them, commit to getting them down…and then I don’t.

Even I can notice the irony, that I’ve described my ex-husband as a serial self-sabotager when I so clearly suffer from a version of the same. In the early days of a relationship, we are all attracted not just to another’s sparkling eyes and witty repartee, but also to certain darker, hidden qualities that mirror our own fears and idiosyncrasies.Obviously this is one of those qualities that he mirrored for me, that sub-consciously drew me to him. For I wouldn’t want to consciously choose someone comfortable with allowing themself to be any less than their best…would I?

Without plunging us all into a lengthy self-analysis better suited to the privacy of a therapist’s room, I have unravelled enough of my psyche to realise that the habit of hiding my light under a bush, of resisting opportunities to shine, or even to explore the concept of being “okay but not world-beating”, began young. It had some roots in the need to smooth out my abrasive “differentness” as I enrolled in new school after new school in my primary years as we travelled, and then popped my bright little head up in a still-fairly conservative country high school.

I was different – I was extremely well-read for a child, and well-travelled. I was brought up to believe I was talented and special in an era when many kids were still being told they should be seen and not heard. Anything that I became passionate about, I worked at till I could begin to do it to my satisfaction.

Writing and drawing were my two main loves. I remember looking at some of my drawings when I was about ten, and realising that they weren’t good, didn’t truly represent the thing I was trying to capture, and learned for myself how to see what was there and not what my brain thought was there (the essence of the rightly famous Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain book and course). I truly believed I was capable of anything if I just tried hard enough.

My dreams of the future always had me working for myself in some creative capacity – most probably, the author of a series of best-selling and much-loved books, who perhaps dabbled in a little illustration on the side.

So what happened? What happened to me, and millions of other little shining stars? How did we let the doubts in, see the “reason” in Society’s expectations about how we made our way in the world and how we expressed our truest selves? I can remember quashing my Mum’s dreams about me entering art school, by telling her I could never make a living if I had to work creatively to a deadline, that it would smother my creative spark. Instead, I put it out myself, by not trying at all.

And there’s the rub, kids. What this is all about. Fear. Fear of trying, fear of failing, fear of being different, fear of just not being quite as brilliant as the next person, or fear of being too brilliant and not being able to meet people’s future expectations of our brilliance – it doesn’t matter. By not trying, by not attempting to build on my talents, by denying their very existence, I have created my own self-fulfilling prophecy which can reinforce all the flawed self-judgement that come after it. See, if I was really good enough, I would have done it anyway.

Well, I’m tired of living in fear. I have moved out from one kind of fear, over the last couple of years, but I know that I have plenty more to tackle. For someone who basically comes across as confident, self-assured, forthright, I am a master of self-doubt and self-sabotage. (There – I AM good at something. *hollow ironic laugh* )

Apart from recovering from the frenetic activity of the beginning of the year (staging a children’s event as a volunteer coordinator), I think I’ve been quiet over the last few months as these and other thoughts have been percolating in my brain. I’ve known for some time that I am well and truly ready for a change of direction career-wise. Twenty-some years of retail and customer service were not the future I envisaged for myself in those childhood musings, but they did equip me with some useful skills, not least the ability to recognise where my strengths lie. I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the last few months, both on-line and off-, and I know that I have something to offer, and that it is a move closer to those childhood passions, using some of the talents I was born with.

The saying “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived” has long resonated with me. I know at times I have been living very much a half-life, full of compromise and doubt and a painful awareness that I was here to do so much more. I am a long way from having all the answers or even knowing clearly where I am heading, but I am shaking some of the shadows from my eyes and my heart. I am investing in my own future and the Wee Man’s, by staking my next moves on my own talents and abilities, and I trust that I will be able to rise to the occasion.

(I did this at about age 14. It is called - yes, you guessed it - “River Evening…Or The Story of My Life” - typically teenage melodramatic, but essentially true…my life then WAS about horses, and dreams, and nature, and drawing and myself. I still like it. The baby and the girl are self-portraits, by the way… lucky I got cuter as I got older, eh?)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

EFT - Refining my use of this amazing tool

Trust me - this is a valuable use of the next 7 minutes of your time. I've been refining and re-focusing my use of this incredible tool for well-being recently, and when I happened upon this video I felt that I should share it. There is no-one who cannot benefit from this.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is something I have dabbled with for a number of years. Funnily enough, for a long time I forgot to use it on myself except in moments of extreme emotional crisis...usually in the middle of the night, when my troubled mind whirled and fought sleep. It has always given me relief.

My greatest success with it has been in using it with children. Firstly, on my stepson when he came to stay with us, and was anxious and homesick at bedtime, and inclined to have nightmares. I taught the routine to him, and his anxiety subsided, and he slept well from then on. He continued to use it after he went home, and would occasionally mention it to me casually over the phone. (I was thrilled and proud that he has continued to explore its uses.) I have only recently started teaching the wee man how to do it, again for night-time anxieties, and he also has taken to it well, though he doesn't always want to "do tappings" when I suggest, so I surrogate tap for him which seems to work too.

Gary Craig's website ( is a wealth of information and ideas and case histories, as well providing the free PDF manual and the training CDs (not free, but they can be re-distributed by people who have bought them, and a lovely friend of mine is passing copies on to me shortly). Dr Mercola is a big fan of this technique, too, and has been advocating its use on his website for some years

You have nothing to lose. Check it out - I'd love to hear from any of you who have a particular experience with EFT you'd like to share.

Monday, February 09, 2009


"Lukewarm" is how the wee man described us last night, situated half-way up the eastern coast of Australia, sandwiched between the searing temperatures and horrendous bushfires of the South (Victoria and South Australia) and the torrential downpours and heavy flooding of the North (Far North Queensland).

The irony struck me this morning, reflecting on this conversation, as I remembered that around this time last year I was blogging on the string of natural disasters that had touched our little part of the world (first here, then here), and wondering what was next.

I can live with "lukewarm".

Like all Australians, I'm incredibly sad for the people affected by the terrible bushfires in Victoria, now being described as the worst natural disaster in Australia's history. At least 107 people killed, and many more to be discovered, and countless families left homeless - entire towns razed to the ground. (See here for information and images.)

At the same time, I worry about members of my family, and many others, who are still threatened by rising floodwaters around the Townsville area.

Just as we all wonder how we're going to manage through a financial "crisis", Nature reminds us what being in crisis is really all about.

(PS. You can make a donation to aid the fire victims by direct debit with these details: Victoria Bushfire Relief Fund; BSB: 082-001; Account: 860 046 797. Money is the greatest need right now - many families have nothing more than the clothes they are wearing.)

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