Putting work in its place on the Sunshine Coast

I’ve never been happier since I started to work at home, and I do believe that it’s the only way to achieve a genuine balance between work and everything else.

Most of the people I have met recently also work at home, usually for themselves, but not always because, increasingly, employers are getting the message that they can trust their staff to work diligently at home: subsequently they are retaining those gold-standard employees who might otherwise take themselves off to the green, green grass of self-employment.

The Sunshine Coast (did I mention that I’d temporarily relocated Down Under for a short while?) is among one of the most entrepreneurial communities I’ve ever come across. Nearly everyone I meet works for themselves, either full-time or because they have a secondary business alongside their substantive job. Yet, for all that, the atmosphere here is what the locals call ‘cruisy’. Somehow, time spools out at a leisurely rate and no-one ever seems to be unduly stressed, no matter how busy they are.

It must be the weather. How could anyone be stressed when they’re never more than 10 minutes away from a wide, empty, golden beach lapped by a warm turquoise sea? By 6am, the coastal walk has a regular flow of walkers and runners – yes, even me – making the most of the coolest part of the day to take exercise. We watch the distant surfers bobbing patiently in the silvery sea as they wait to catch a wave.

By the time I retrace my steps, the surfers parked up beside the beach are putting their boards onto roof racks and peeling off their damp rashies in anticipation of breakfast and the day’s work ahead. No doubt about it, there’s a very different attitude to work and play here: it’s all about working to live, not living to work. I hope I can cling on to that when I’m back in the UK in what passes for our summer!



Joy, thankfulness and the tale of a dog

In my daily life I aim to spread joy and happiness. Indeed, a small cartoon bluebird often sits chirping on my shoulder, metaphorically speaking. But, seriously, these days, when many people feel stressed and unappreciated, a word of praise or encouragement, or a simple thank you, can make all the difference to someone who really needs to hear it.

I am often in the town centre early on a Sunday morning and encounter the street cleaners who turn out to clear away the debris of a well-lived Saturday night. These guys pick up litter and unwanted kebabs, they clean up vomit – and sometimes blood – and make our streets spick and span again for the shoppers and tourists who’ll later be crowding the streets. I sometimes pass the time of day with these workers and thank them for doing a great job, a job that few of us would probably be willing to do week in, week out. I hope I’m not the only one.

I also know people whose Facebook pages are upbeat and cheerful, but who endure bouts of depression, self-doubt and unhappiness. They face a mighty struggle every day and on better days, just one small thing can be enough to get them through – even a pretty sunset can go a long way when you’re searching for hope or something joyful in your life.

How much better then is a kind word, an unexpected compliment or a thank you? Since we never know what difficulties lie behind other people’s behaviours, I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt. When you think about it, it’s not difficult to find something encouraging.

And, in case you think that’s all a bit pious and goody two-shoes, let me tell you that I am excluding the owner of the Dalmatian who, while her dog farted repeatedly and revoltingly throughout a recent pub quiz, failed to remove the animal from the scene of the crime. Not only was everyone squeezed into that tiny pub practically fainting from the horrific whiff, but the dog’s rear end was pressed up against my leg and, as I later discovered, initially everyone thought it was me.