As our spirited Arley Bob contemplates his first brave steps in the school yard this morning – it has me thinking about all the other ‘middle’ children out there taking this giant leap alongside him.
If those children are anything like our Arley – they, more than anyone – deserve to be celebrated today.
Because if we’re brutally honest, it doesn’t happen very often.
From what I’ve learned in eight years of parenting our three boys and through sharing the privileged journey with many beautiful friends, the middle child syndrome is a real and living thing.
Middle children (I’m looking at you Arley boy) often feel as though they have nothing special that is just ‘theirs’ to cherish. They fit right where their birth order consigns them and at times can feel invisible and left out.
Older children typically get the glory of all of the ‘firsts’ a child accomplishes (hello Dhara). And younger children – well they clearly benefit from the emotional impact of being the baby of the family (you know it Geddy).
By the time our ‘middlies’ lose their first tooth, run their first race or play their first game of footy, the shine has already been buffed back a layer or two courtesy of their older siblings.
And when they’re not being left behind by sibling #1, or harassed by #3, they’re sandwiched right in the middle.
They’re never old enough to hang with the big kids, and they’re called out for acting like babies.
If they’re anything like our ‘middlie’, who at the grand old age of 20 months was kicked out of his cot by his baby brother, they were asked to grow up when they were but babes themselves.
And as little Arley well knows, the middle child syndrome is particularly heavy-handed in same-gender sibling families like ours. Generally speaking, when middle children are of a different gender, they’re treated almost like a firstborn, because they have different characteristics and are involved in many activities that will be ‘firsts’ for a family.
Not so for us.
In just five short years of life, Arley has learned to live in the shadows of a big and little brother whom he adores with every inch of his enormous heart – and he’s totally cool with it.
This joyful, energetic, dogged, loyal, affectionate, bat-shit crazy little boy has already learned that life is not all about him.
But here’s the thing Arley Bob – today, as you morph into a school boy, it is.
You’re more special and unique than you could possibly imagine – and don’t you forget it.
Fly high darling middle child – today and for all the days to come.
We’re signing off for 2015 with this week’s #spreadingthegoodstuff post and wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy festive season.
In a time when there’s little goods news to hold on to, particularly on a global scale, it’s important to focus on the good and always remember, that even in the most horrific of circumstances, there’s always someone helping and caring for those suffering. This is something we encourage our children to do if they see the ever-present images of war and destruction: “Look out for the people helping – there’s always someone helping.”
It’s with this advice we look upon the world at this time and take comfort in the fact there are always people willing to help those less fortunate and those who do not take for granted the annual sharing of (too many) gifts and an abundance of food with family and friends.
Yes, be merry, but remember to also be grateful and herald in the New Year with a promise to practise more peace, gratitude and forgiveness and spread a little love around – especially in our own backyards.
Because these are things we need this Christmas – wherever we are in this world – peace, love, thanks and forgiveness.
See you all in 2016,
Christy and Lee
This week’s #spreadingthegoodstuff is all about our fabulous township of Echuca Moama (EM).
We feel very blessed to live here and during the time of all things ‘festive’ understand the importance of counting our blessings.
In a town described as ‘physically gorgeous’ by legendary Australian rocker Tim Rogers just this week, many of us can get too caught up in the busyness of life here to stop and look around – it is bloody beautiful!
And whether you’re playing in the mighty Murray, chilling out under some towering gums, or sitting at one of our outstanding cafes, you are truly lucky to live in such eye-catching surrounds.
With Christmas nipping at our heels there’s an abundance of activities and festive gatherings to attend: dance concerts, work break-ups, hospital openings, markets, and the ‘last’ of everything for the year!
Summer is finally here and there is much to look forward to – even after the man in the big red suit has come and gone.
Come Boxing Day EM bursts into a hive of activity. Attracting so many tourists here is something our economy depends on and probably calls for a little more gratitude from us local folk – even when we’re stuck in traffic on the bridge!
And there is much to anticipate in the new year: triathlon and swim events, the world’s largest ski race – no less, and one of regional Australia’s fastest growing and increasingly popular music festivals.
This week we’ve been lucky enough to chat to just a few of the stellar artists coming for Riverboats in February and they helped turned a light on how others perceive EM. Their generous descriptions of our town made me realise how lucky we are to live in such a stunning and ‘chilled out’ part of the world.
And we all need a little reminder every now and then to stop, take a breath, lift your head from your work (or your mobile phone) and enjoy the vista.
Our side project loveEM – which uses stunning images and splendid words to spruik about all things Echuca Moama – allows us to pay homage to our vibrant twin-towns.
Feel free to pop past and like our Facebook page, share the love and sprinkle a little #loveEM around the place this summer
And remember to enjoy and be thankful for all our town has to offer – now and throughout 2016.
It’s no secret we’re suckers for words that uplift people, empower communities and inspire kindness across the world.
It lights us up reading them, writing them, hearing them and teaching them.
And while this love for positive language is what sustains us and our work on a daily basis, sometimes even we need a little pep talk to help lift our vibe.
And who better to turn to for a 101 in empowerment and positivity than our good friend Oprah….. (by friend I mean the kind you ‘know’ through facie and insta).
In case you missed the memo, she’s here in Oz at the moment spreading her message of love, grace and gratitude across three stripped-back shows in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Her performance at Rod Laver Arena this week has copped some pretty rough reviews, but they were from people who turned up expecting to score a free car or a holiday from the former talk-show host.
Those in the crowd who were there to hear a living legend share her wisdom and life lessons on living a purposeful life got everything and more than they could have dreamed of.
Love her or loathe her, there is no greater beacon of light than Oprah Winfrey.
And in the present day, that’s exactly what we need more of.
Yeah she’s a preacher – but of the very best kind. She is an orator of the highest order and she uses her fame as a platform to be a force for good in the world.
How can there be a negative in that?
Oprah’s purpose in life is to spread the message of kindness, and it’s one that we share intrinsically here at The Splendid Word.
We’re on a crusade to teach our tribe the power of positive communication. It is our intention – and the key driving force behind TSW – to help shape a community that is committed to spreading empowering messages. Promoting what we love – not bashing what we hate type stuff.
How we speak to ourselves and others – in words and on paper – says so much about who we are as people. Our mission is to get us all thinking about the way we communicate and to start taking responsibility for the impact our words, energy and intentions have on the world and all those around us.
Being positive, effective and authentic communicators is not just important to writers like us. It’s enormously important to anyone in business. It plays a vital role in each and every one of our work and home lives and we can all do better at it.
Thanks for #spreadingthegoodstuff Oprah – for reminding us that we can all be a force for good in the world, and that we are all responsible for the energy we bring to the space we inhabit.
Whether you’re a small business with just a handful of staff or a large enterprise with dozens of employees, you need a clear and consistent style guide for all things relating to communication.
So what is a style guide?
Put simply, it’s a guide to how things are done in your business. It involves procedures and polices for all written communication and can include rules around the use of your company logo or images and information about how to write a clear and concise email or business letter – to name just a few.
From a technical perspective, it can also include templates for all in-house documents and procedures for all data entry and financial processes.
Style guides are unique to each business, although we always use the Australian standard for media and business writing as a starting point.
An integral part of developing a style guide is the discussion around company goals, values and a mission statement – something we encourage all staff to be involved with.
Here at The Splendid Word we love developing style guides and have produced bespoke versions for Echuca Regional Health, the Rochester and Elmore District Health Service, Moama Bowling Club, Echuca Community for the Aged and recently, Ecotecture Design Group (EDG).
Although EDG only has a small team of talented building designers, business owners Alastair and Kate McDonald recognised the need to have a clear and consistent style guide to ensure everyone was ‘on the same page’ in regards to communication.
During four staff training sessions with EDG we covered all in-house procedures that involved customer relations and communication, including topics such as email and business writing, hard and soft copy filing procedures and general house keeping.
We also had a very valuable session looking at the ‘big picture’ stuff, discussing company goals, and came up with a set of core values and a mission statement that reflects the team’s passion for what they do what they aim to achieve for their clients on each project.
Individual and team ownership is key to the success of this process and is an essential part of any business style guide. We find when staff are directly involved in the development of their own style guide they are more likely to identify with its importance and put it to good use.
Kudos to EDG for recognising the need for developing their own style guide and for taking the time out of their busy schedules to involve all staff in the process.
So this week we’re #spreadingthegoodstuff for businesses like EDG who take the time to work ‘on their business’ and develop a style guide to ensure they continue to deliver on-key communication and outstanding customer service.
The Melbourne-based building company was recently named Professional Major Builder at the HIA-CSR Victorian Home, Kitchen and Bathroom Awards and we’re thrilled to have played a small role in their success.
This past two years The Splendid Word (TSW) has helped edit and proof award submissions the Carlisle Homes marketing crew has poured hours of preparation and a bucket load of passion into.
These guys know their stuff and have a unique ability to share their story.
Three cheers for Carlisle Homes…
A good deal of our work here at TSW is based around editing and proofing and many of our clients wax lyrical about the benefits of having ‘another set of eyes’ pore over a lengthy document.
This is where we get the chance to hone our skills for spotting typos and potential inconsistencies and truly make words sing – it’s what we do!
Our job is to ensure your grammar is faultless, your descriptions are on-key, and that your logic and structure reach perfection.
We’ve edited many splendid words for award and grant submissions, web copy and blogs, reports, style guides and university essays – the list is long and varied.
So, many thanks Carlisle Homes for trusting us with your words and congratulations on being a leader in your field.
Christy for TSW
After a week that has seen news bulletin after depressing news bulletin carry some of the most sad and horrifying stories, it is more timely than ever that we inject some high vibe energy into the world.
Today’s #spreadingthegoodstuff instalment centres on two trailblazing women who will be visiting our neck of the woods over the coming months to host some particularly awesome workshops that we know you are just going to love.
Melbourne ladies Cynthia Mahoney – Driving Your Life (DYL) founder, and Kylie Lewis from Of Kin, are returning to the region due to popular demand following the inaugural Imagine The Possibilities business conference held at Moama Bowling Club in September.
So if you’re an entrepreneur, professional or creative type looking for some serious career and self-enlargement, get out your mighty pen (or keyboard) and mark the following dates in your calendars.
Leadership guru Cynthia Mahoney is bringing her two-day, life-changing program, Driving Your Life (DYL) to the stunning Perricoota Vines Retreat at Moama on November 24 & 25.
This DYL program assists people to be their best selves, build confidence, leverage their strengths and succeed at work and in their personal life.
And it’s available at a special early bird price of $500 for guests who book before 13 November.
To purchase tickets click here. If you are registering as an individual, not-for-profit or small business remember to use the code ‘ITP’ for the early bird price.
If you are registering as corporate or government use the code ‘ITP1’ for the reduced price.
For further information you can visit Cynthia’s website at www.drivingyourlife.com.au or email Cynth at email@example.com
Phewwww – and now for the second workshop!
The uber-talented digitial strategist Kylie Lewis will host Content Kin – a content marketing & social media workshop at Junction on Tuesday 1st December.
This creative and interactive workshop for businesses will explore social media and content planning ideas and challenges, and will arm you with a defined social media and content strategy and an actionable plan.
The workshop will run from 9.30am – 4.30pm and tickets are $260 per person. (Numbers are strictly limited)
To purchase tickets and for more information you can click here.
And if you feel so inclined, please spread the workshop love to your friends and colleagues by sharing this post.
Sometimes in our line of work we come across a tough writing gig where, every so often, the words get a little stuck and it takes an extra push to make them really sing.
Following a recent query about a small project for Riverboats Music Festival guru, Dave Frazer, we knew this gig would not be one of those.
As huge fans we had declared our love for this stellar event on more than one occasion, via our various social media platforms and through our side project loveEM.
Therefore, to say we were a little excited to land the gig of interviewing the likes of Missy Higgins and Tim Rogers for the festival program would be an almighty understatement!
The line-up, announced earlier this week, sent a buzz through our riverside towns with festival lovers whipped into a frenzy of tagging friends, locking in dates and booking accommodation.
So this week we are #spreadingthegoodstuff for what is a superb cast of musicians and the delicious prospect of legendary musos such as The Church, You Am I, and the perennial Mick Thomas, rocking out in EM come February 2016.
Not to mention the sweet-sounding melodies of the incomparable Missy Higgins.
Wow – and we get to interview all of them and share their stories in the official festival program.
Did we mention this was a great gig?
At TSW we are privileged to craft all manner of words for varying projects, but when a gig involves interviewing sublime music talent, creating some extra special words and enjoying ourselves at an event we love, well, it’s just not work!
Hats off to Dave and his hardworking crew for creating and sustaining Riverboats into its fifth year and thank you for allowing us to share a little creative slice of this wonderful event.
Bring on Riverboats Music Festival 2016!
This leave-pass essentially absolves them from all sense of obligation, guilt and responsibility for an agreed period of time – including work, family-duties and the notoriously long ‘to-do-lists’ we leave for them on enormous whiteboards placed strategically around the home (be honest – we know you do this too).
And it just so happens that today is one of those ‘blue moon’ occasions.
We may (read: will) regret it come midnight (or much, much later) tonight when our darling husbands return home completely pie-eyed.
But we’ll honour our end of the hall-pass deal and turn a very blind eye in this instance, for it’s all in the name of an excellent cause and one worth #spreadingthegoodstuff about.
The fourth annual Echuca Moama Biggest Blokes’ Lunch gets underway at Moama on Murray Resort’s Dungala Centre from midday today – hosting 400 or so men for an afternoon of beers, grub and back yard banter to raise awareness and money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia (PCFA).
The event raised $40,000 in its inaugural year in 2012, $50,000 in 2013, and another $40,000 last year.
Former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting will speak at the event, along with impersonator Andrew Startin and urologist Rohan Hall.
The long-lunch not only raises much-needed funds for prostate cancer research, but also gives the men in our lives and in our wider community cause to think about their health and to take responsibility for it.
Big kudos to organiser Dick Phillips and his crew on all their hard work in staging this sensational community event which is raising awareness and dollars for a cause very near to my heart.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed internal cancer in Australia and is the fourth leading cause of mortality among Australian males.
According to figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, some 17,250 men are estimated to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. Of that number around 3,440 are projected to die from the disease.
In 2001, prostate cancer claimed the lives of 2,711 men – fathers, grandfathers, brothers, husbands and sons.
Among that count was my courageous dad – diagnosed at 45 with a six-month life expectancy. Strong as an ox, and with the gutsiest resolve, he smashed that out of the park and made it to 49. The older I get, the younger I realise he was. The pain of losing him so early in my life never eases – I’ve just got used to carrying it around. And it’s a daily reminder to never take life for granted and to live it in the very best way that I can.
So while you’re out there cutting loose today boys and emptying your pockets for this great cause, take a moment to remember the many brave men who have succumbed to this hideous disease, and raise your glasses to the ones fighting the battle of their lives today.
And you know those ‘to-do-lists’? They can wait until tomorrow.
It’s nearing the end of September and you don’t have to look too closely to discover it’s finals time.
Our Echuca Moama community has been adorned with club streamers, balloons, posters and flags these past weeks and there’s still more to come.
And it’s not just the big dance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 3 stealing the headlines. I’m more interested in the stories of passion and dedication displayed at our local football and netball clubs. Not to mention the enormous success each and every local club has tasted so far this season.
It sounds cliché, but these clubs are the heart and soul of our local towns and communities, particularly the smaller ones.
So this week, our #spreadingthegoodstuff shout-out goes to the footy/netball clubs of our region and what they mean to the people who give up their time each week for their beloved Bombers, Magpies or Eagles.
I was reminded of this just last week when we were talking with our children about the thing they loved to do more than anything in the world and our 10-year-old daughter said “going to the footy on a Saturday” (at Victoria Park in Echuca) where she can play with all of her friends at the same time.
This struck a cord with me as we had spent the most part of 20 years in and around the Echuca Football Netball Club and still see the club as our home.
It’s where we met and fell in love, where we were lucky to meet a large contingent of the dear friends we still have to this day and it’s where we learned the art of being part of a team, a club and a family of like-minded people who share the same values around ‘giving’ and not taking.
Another cliché: Local football and netball clubs provide the glue that connects people from all ages, backgrounds and abilities. This we know for sure.
They are places where men and women, boys and girls, come together to wear the colours of their club, give their all on the football field and netball court and for some, proudly sing the club song in victory or hold the cup aloft on grand final day.
And the taste of success can be sweet. So far this season we’ve seen the Echuca United Eagles come away with no less than seven netball premierships (clearly some sort of record), and the Moama Magpies, with four football sides in the grand final, take home the chocolates in the under 17s and reserves.
In addition, the Echuca Murray Bombers under 18 footballers and both A and B grade netball teams have booked a spot on Goulburn Valley League grand final day.
This collective of success speaks volumes for the competitiveness, and subsequent health, of our local clubs and all members, both on and off the field and court, should be very proud of their achievements. Success is why we play, isn’t it?
If you surveyed those involved with football and netball clubs, near and far, you might be surprised to learn that it’s about much more than just winning and best on ground performances.
You’ll discover it’s also about friendship and loyalty and supporting each other – win, lose or draw. It’s also about social connectedness and belonging.
Behind every successful team or premiership win there’s a huge contingent of people, worker-bees, parents, supporters and sponsors who help each and every player take to the court or field each week.
Three collective cheers for our local clubs and may they be around for many more years so our children can continue their love affair with going to the local game and one day, feel the all-important sense of belonging to a club.
Take note: community football and netball clubs rock!