Finding those hidden gems

property advocatesThere are so many little things and components that go into starting up a business that sometimes, if I’m going to be perfectly honest here, I feel like my head just might explode. Not that it would have to be dramatic, exactly. The metaphor that comes to mind is more that, one day, I just have to do one more thing and instead of just adding to what’s there, my brain just starts slowly leaking out of my ear. That it will suddenly be too much and there won’t be any more room for the new information to go.

Take, for example, my latest shock to the system. As a part of setting up a practice that’s not completely online, I will actually need an office. The problem with that, though, is that there’s more to getting an office than just getting an office. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true. Like I was talking to a friend of mine and she was telling me that if we wanted a really top of the range place, we would need to go through a buyers advocacy. The Melbourne property market is extremely competitive, for businesses as well as for housing, so if we want something that’s going to reflect the essence of our business, we need to use every advantage we can get.

The problem with that, though, is that it’s just one more thing to do, and believe you me, when every penny counts, hiring property advocates in Melbourne is a luxury we can’t necessarily afford. But here’s the thing. I don’t want to do it halfway. I don’t want to be looking back at this whole process in 6 months time and thinking that we went for what was available. That’s just not in the spirit of what I’m trying to do here, and it’s no good compromising our values before we’ve even really gotten started.

Metal Enthusiast Here!

mabile scaffoldWe scrap metal enthusiasts live dangerous lives on the edge, especially when you’re trying to nick a great bit of discarded trash from the rubbish bin while the refuse collectors and coming down the road. I’ll admit to letting it happen on purpose, sometimes. Nothing quite like a time limit to really make you feel alive!

I’ve gotten some great stuff, too. You wouldn’t believe what people throw away, and you can rest assured that I’ll put what I find to good use. That’s the thing about growing up poor…you learn to use things to their limit.

The best find ever: someone threw out an entire set of folding platform steps. By how mangled the box was, I’m guessing that they bought it and couldn’t set it up, so they threw it away in disgust. See, this is why you should always bring the stuff that still works to an op shop, if you don’t want it any more. Someone will make use of it, I guarantee it. And I’ve used those folding platform steps to start my own local painting business, which takes a bit of the pressure off Mum, caring for six kids. I’m moving out pretty soon, and all because someone threw out a tangle of metal that they thought was useless. Nope, just because you can’t figure out how to set up an aluminium platform doesn’t mean it has no worth.

It probably helps that I’m drawn to metal like a crow. It’s always been pretty fascinating, and now that I’ve got a bit of DIY know-how, I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to add to the garage. Eventually I’d like to make my own mobile scaffolding, since the set I have now doesn’t quite reach or fit everywhere. It’s alright, but there’s nothing quite like walking around on top of some mobile scaffolding you built yourself. I don’t quite have the material right now, though…though i plan to buy some actual professional platforms anyway. When I have the money!


Some Quality Pruning Experience

tree pruningI guess I wouldn’t mind a bit of getting back to nature…even though for me it’s not really getting back, because I’ve never been. Yep, born and bred in the city my whole life, so when I saw the flyer for a wilderness survival course at uni, I initially thought nothing much of it. That’s a thing for country people, or…just people who actually enjoy camping. Camping is the worst, am I right?

And then I got to thinking…because I guess it was a really compelling flyer. It talked about how you could learn new skills, gain fitness and generally improve yourself. That all sounded pretty good, I guessed. My closest connection to the outdoors was that time I did an internship in Melbourne at a tree pruning business. It doesn’t exist anymore, but I didn’t get my forms in on time and Mrs Aldergate at the end of our road needed someone to help with her pruning business, so I just told the school I’d be helping her out. It wasn’t so bad; Mrs Aldergate knows pretty much everything about the area going back sixty years, and she had breaks every fifteen minutes because of her aching joints so we honestly spent most of our time just very slowly walking around the local neighbourhood, drinking tea on the grass and talking about the war. I think she finally retired after she started pruning a certain tree and had to be told that it was actually a street sign and that counted as vandalism. Didn’t have her glasses, maybe.

So yeah, that’s my grand level of outdoor know-how, which is to say that I don’t have any at all. I can prune trees, and I helped my Dad with some stump grinding once, so those will have to be the skills I bring to the table. It’s going to be a group of us out there for two weeks. So far from Melbourne, tree pruning skills at the ready…that’ll be me.


Late night adrenaline

courses for dry needlingI am so excited right now I can barely breathe.

No seriously it totally sounds like I’m exaggerating here but I’m like 100% not. It’s not even like I’m excited in the traditional way I’m more just like insanely nervous and I have a heap of adrenaline and other crazy hormones pumping through my system and basically just making me feel like I downed a whole jug of coffee and then some. Do you know what I mean?! It’s freaking NUTS.

Tomorrow is the first day of my dry needling course. I know! It’s going to be so great and totally awesome but like there’s also this possibility that it’s not and that is totally freaking me out. Like if it sucks? I don’t think it will but it could and that is so terrifying. What if all of this is a terrible mistake and it’s time I try and find a man with some money because the only thing I’m fit for is to be some housewife because I have absolutely zero tangible or even intangible skills?

Ah! Existential crisis moment!

No but for real I am totally losing it over here. Like I know that I should asleep (I don’t know what time it is where you are but here it’s 2am) but I am so WIRED. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for so long and even just the process of sifting through all the different dry needling courses in Melbourne has so time consuming and exciting and scary that I seriously wondered if I’d ever even get here. But now here I am!

Hopefully I get enough sleep for tomorrow but by the way things are going right now that is NOT going to happen haha! Oh well! At least this will be a funny story I can tell all my new friends tomorrow!

A Dog, in My Apartment? It’s More Likely Than You Think…

I like to think I’m proving a stereotype wrong: yes, you CAN have a large dog in an apartment. You just need to give him a lot more attention, and also be very rich like me. The apartment is huge, large enough for me to chase Doogle around while he does his best to keep me from stealing his rope bone and none of us end up tripping over any furniture. Furniture that is, by the way, dog-friendly.

Now, you might say that I’m out at work and that’s unacceptable. I don’t LIKE leaving Doogle for such long period of time, but that’s what dog walkers are for! Don’t think I was casual about that, either; I held extensive interviews with every local Melbourne dog walker I could find, looking for that very special someone. See I have a very good plan in place. First I get up in the morning, give Doogle a quick walk or a tug with his rope bone if I’m in a real rush. He has a snooze for an hour or so, until my first dog walker gets there. She has a play with him, gives him a snack and then takes him out on a good walk with some other dogs, so he has some company.

Doogle then gets home, has a snooze for a couple more hours and THEN another dog walker gets there and the whole process repeats: play, snack and walk. They get back at about six, the last walk of the day, then Doogle snoozes for a bit until I get home around eight. If he’s up for a walk, I take him then; if not, we just have a play. Then he’s mine for the weekend! We usually go out somewhere really special to spend some quality time. I know this sort of makes him ‘owned’ by my quality Melbourne dog walking people almost as much as me, but Doogle loves having such a big family, so it’s fine! And that’s how you have a big dog in an apartment. Loads of cash, basically.


The road to your dreams

shop signageI don’t think I’ll ever forget the first real sign I saw.

Well, I’m sure it wasn’t the first sign I saw, that would be almost impossible. In today’s climate, it would be almost impossible to grow up without any exposure to signage of any time. But I remember the first sign that I saw that really stuck with me.

It was about milk. I know that may not seem very interesting, but something about the composition and design just grabbed my attention. I made me really think about milk. I’m not sure if I could even read at that point, but I connected the cow with milk in my head, or so my mother tells me. To be honest, being so young, I don’t really remember that much about the aftermath. Only the experience of seeing the sign itself.

As I grew older, I knew that I wanted to be in some kind of marketing/design area when I got into the workforce. The older I grew, the more determined I became to make a splash. To change the face signwriting forever. To become the greatest signwriters Melbourne has ever seen.

So, after getting a solid qualification under my belt, I spilled out into the world as an adult and found no one would hire me. I needed a portfolio – a portfolio I didn’t have. I’d done a couple of different designs as projects during my course, but none of that was going to be directly applicable to a marketing type scenario.

And that’s where I’m up to now. I need a job, but I haven’t got any real experience under my belt. I don’t even know where to start, in a design company or looking at smaller-scale shop signage. Melbourne is such a big and wonderful place, so full of opportunity. Sometimes it all feels a little overwhelming.

Putting a good spin on a bad day

window frame repairsI have to be honest here, when I woke up this morning, I honestly thought today was going to be a waste of my time. It was just laid out as one of those kinds of days, you know? Appointments here and there that I was going to have to drive between – honestly, it looked like I was going to spend the majority of my day in the car. In addition to all the driving, I was going to have to deal with a bunch of traddies, which is normally difficult to say the least.

All of that was why I was so pleasantly surprised when things started to turn out well. To kick the day off, I met with one of the leading timber windows specialists in Melbourne. Not only was he friendly and engaging, but his expert knowledge and manner-of-fact way of describing the job at hand made the conversation not only bearable but genuinely enjoyable. I left feeling as though he was not only fully qualified for the job, but trying to think of other people who might have a similar problem so that I could recommend him to my friends. I’m serious. You don’t forget quality of service like that. It was truly impressive.

Meeting with who I now consider to be the best window repairs man in Melbourne really turned my whole look on the day around. I felt like I had already done something extraordinarily productive, and that put in a good mood for what was yet to come.

My attitude had done a full 180 and I found myself driving off to my next appointment with a smile on my face, and that attitude made all the difference. It’s like my mum always said, i you put out good energy into the world, good things come back to you.

Passion for interior decorating

interior decorating MelbourneI just went to a wonderful seminar put on for all the year 12 students at my school, in which we were told to try to combine our passions if we could. So if you were into mathematics but also being creative, choose something like architecture. If you loved animals and the outdoors, be a park ranger. If you liked…I don’t know, mechanics and being social? There’s probably something for that. Maybe working in a call centre for people having trouble with their cars.

For me, combining my passions is a bit more complicated. I LOVE interior decorating, always have. I want to bring property styling to Melbourne in a way never before seen, dressing up people’s houses to make them sell like a dream, just to live in also like a dream.

But then, my other passion is setting fire to things. It’s not immediately obvious from the seminar whether it’s always a good thing to combine your passions, so I’m forced to assume that there may be exceptions. Like, what if you were into swimming and electronics? Unless you can be a pioneer in the field of waterproof hairdryers, those may not mix so well. And then drying your hair underwater just seems counterproductive, somehow.

Getting back to interior design and setting fire to things, I’m struggling to see the overlap. If you’re trying to sell a home and you call in someone to do property staging  to give the place some flair, they don’t often mean an actual flare setting things ablaze, as visually interesting as that is. I suppose if you have a fireplace, I can help you out there. I could just go around recommending fireplaces, because they’re really nice and you can set fire to things inside them. But then, I wouldn’t be much good at property staging if all I ever recommended was fancy fireplaces. Maybe I have a third passion that goes better with immolation…?

Harry the Hammer, Teaching You Fabrication

It’s funny to think of how I was inspired, all those years ago. There used to be a lady who travelled around schools, dressing up like an otter and teaching children about the dangers of bullying and also the environment. I can’t quite remember how she balanced the two, but I can say for sure that it was truly a compelling case. For a brief time, this woman was my hero.

Then I left school, still thinking on how she used her showmanship to teach valuable lessons to impressionable children, and I thought…why not? There are more issues than just bullying and the environment. So many more. I picked one I was particularly passionate about- in this case, welding and fabrication, because it runs in the family- and established The Welda-Van. I even got a few  Melbourne companies that do marine fabrication to sponsor me, because after all, part of my message was that kids should be going home and telling their parents to get welding and fabrication done. I have some graphic close ups of poorly-welded beams to really hammer in that message.

To my surprise, my schedule quickly filled up as parents began to rave about my wacky, fun, informative lessons. I try to cover a wide breadth of subjects, including the application of steel beams, how to be safe in a welding construction site and my showstopper: Sizzle, Molten Core! I also throw in a little bit about smelting, hence why I ordered a full-size hammer costume to how in dramatic motion exactly how the process works. His name is Harry. Harry the Hammer (or just Harry for short).

Things are going great. Kids are learning why marine fabrication is great and not just a boring thing their parents tell them to do, rod holder sales are way up and I think I’m making a real difference. Next up I’m going to tackle stainless steel snapper racks. It’s a tough subject, but I think the higher primary ages can handle it.


Keeping Up the Cleaning Discipline

Melbourne upholstery cleaningLiving alone + cleaning. Not really a combination for success. I also don’t have that many guests, and that tends to make everything just a little bit, uh…less than optimal, in terms of productivity. I mean, you can’t let it get to the point where there’s some rotting food behind the fridge and you don’t care because you’ve grown so incredibly used to it that it just smells normal. That way when someone does visit, or worse, your parents, they can’t even stay. I haven’t grown that bad, though I have a few guy friends living together who have. I can tell you, house calls in the stench pad are no fun.

So I’m trying to make myself more proactive when it comes to cleaning. I have schedules, phone reminders, anything that’ll annoy me into cleaning. I’ve even resolve to splash out a bit, because if I’m going to be living alone for a while, I might as well develop SOME house-pride. There are businesses in Melbourne that do upholstery cleaning, which is a pretty extreme step for a single guy, but…my mother taught me better than to just let my furniture wear out. I earn a pretty good wage, so I can afford to splurge a bit. And we’re not talking ‘gaming/clothing/GF’ splurge. This is something that concerns the cleanliness of my actual living space. It’s pretty important.

Oh, and once I’ve had the upholstery cleaned, sitting on my sofa and chairs will be like floating on a fresh-smelling cloud, just like when I bought them. Wait, no…they were second hand. Okay, I’ve never experienced that, but it’s what I’m imagining. Delicious cleanliness that you can actually feel.

What else? Fabric cleaning, steam cleaning. But with actual steam, not just something I can get done myself with a vacuum cleaner. Wait, am I actually becoming house-proud…?