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A chameleon and a meltdown

By June 8, 2017 Family

Yesterday I gave you the first part of the story about Chelsea’s job quest.  The mouse was duly delivered and it was time for the second animal – a chameleon.

We had chosen the chameleon because of its ability to adapt rapidly to its environment.  The copy that would match this would reflect this.

The morning started well.  Mother and daughter were bonding.  Chelsea printed out the Chameleon template and set about making it.

Then something changed.

To this day I don’t know what the trigger was.  All I remember was darling daughter being incredibly rude to me. My response:

“I do not expect to be spoken to like that.  I am giving up my time to help you.”

No apology was forthcoming (Chelsea and I are not too good at the ‘sorry’ word ha ha – she actually is very much like me), so I said “I’m out of here” and promptly left the house to meet a friend for coffee and then lunch – as you do.

Here is where I am incredibly proud of Chelsea.  Abandoned as she felt, she continued making up the Chameleon.  She then wrote the copy to go with it (I can’t show you this because I never actually saw it).  She then went to her dad and asked him how she could courier it in to the General Manager at Cutting Edge.  All sorted.

Next morning, when we were to be doing the next animal (I cannot for the life of me now remember now what this one was to be),  Chelsea again snapped at me.  Again I again said:

“Enough! I’m not going to help you”.

This time though she had lost her confidence to continue and no more animals were forth coming.

This was Thursday.  On the weekend as I passed her in the hallway I said “Never leave things unfinished.  You need to directly contact the General Manager on Monday.”

On Monday she sent an email with her website address. On Tuesday she rang.  The response was fantastic.  Kylie (the General Manager) had received her animal models and was blown away.  She explained to Chelsea that although there were no animation jobs available there was a ‘coffee making’ position, was she interested.

Chelsea jumped at the opportunity – this was her foot in the door.

She started work the very next day in position of Star Service Person looking after clients (worth big money) and key management people at Cutting Edge.  It was actually a barista type position – learning to operate a full coffee machine.  She also took lunch orders (Cutting Edge has its own chef).  Her journey had begun and she took every opportunity to become a Cutting Edge advocate.


What is also interesting was that Kylie, the General Manager had started at Cutting Edge as a Star Service person.

In two weeks Chelsea learned the names of all the key people – clients and the Cutting Edge team members.  She also discovered that Cutting Edge used an special effects program called Houdini.

This was not one she had learned at Uni so she set about finding an animator that would be prepared to teach her.  Luckily, there are many who work all day and night at their computers and of course there was one at Cutting Edge called Chris.  Chris, apparently, was quite shy and not overly social.  It didn’t take Chelsea long however to bring him out of his shell.  Very soon he was teaching her the ins and outs of the program.

Chelsea worked her star service position from 6am to 6pm.  She then stayed back until midnight most nights to learn Houdini.  Then an hours drive back home.  Luckily youth has the ability to bounce back quickly.  For me personally it was torture.  I waited up every night for her to arrive home.  Naturally worried – like us mother’s are that she would fall asleep at the wheel or be mugged or something bad.

Finally she was given one day off Star Service to work on special effects.  Then two. Finally full time.  She had been six months in star service.  Chelsea now works on some terrific projects, loves what she does and feels her experience has helped her no end. I just hope Cutting Edge appreciates her and looks after her long term.

If they don’t – well, she now has enough under her belt to walk into any job in this industry.

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How this mouse gave my daughter a job!

By June 7, 2017 Family

My daughter Chelsea completed her degree in animation and was so excited. Like all graduates she felt optimistic about her job prospects.  Until she started applying for them.  She sent in application after application to different companies.  Not enough experience – 5 years minimum.

I’d like to know exactly how are these young graduates expected to get this said experience without a job to give it to them!

She was lucky enough however, to have a job that earned her money, while she was job hunting for one in animation.  It was with an accounting firm.  As you no doubt can appreciate, nothing could be further from an exciting job in animation. Chelsea became increasingly despondent and negative….

Believe me, nothing is scarier than your frustrated child!

Finally my husband and I suggested she resign (we felt she was just becoming too unhappy) and look at doing something else that at least she would feel happy and motivated with.  For a while she worked with us doing web programming and a bit of design work.  Unfortunately, we are a two man band and didn’t have enough work to sustain us let alone pay her.

The mouse that roared

One day she came to me and said:

“Mum, I want to give it one more go to try and get a job in my field, will you help me”.

I am a graphic designer by profession but have done many direct marketing campaigns and copy writing.  When she asked me this, I decided to think of her as my client so I could think laterally.  The first thing I asked her was:

“Where do you want to work – what company do you have in mind?”

Her response was immediate.

“I want to work at Cutting Edge.  They are a special effects company that do all types of creative things.”

Chelsea had visited Cutting Edge on a number of occasions in her job search.  Even being promised in internship if the company had enough work.  This never eventuated but Chelsea was still keen to work there.  She had also met the General Manager, Kylie, at her University presentation evening and been given her business card.  She was impressed by this woman’s confidence and presence.  This then, was WHO we would direct our efforts towards.

Now we had the COMPANY and the WHO to approach, it was time to work out the HOW.

We (Chelsea and I) decided to have think tank each on how we could approach the General Manager directly.  An hour later she came back with the suggestion she could send her a poster showing her skills and directing her (the General Manager) to her web site (Shananimation.com).

“Great idea” I said, “but I think we can do better.  “How about we send Kylie a LIVE animal, starting with a mouse (I’ll get to why in a minute) every day for 4 days – each with a message.”  

Chelsea was horrified!   “That’s just not going to happen” she cried,  ‘That is just too way out, and besides, what if she DOESN’T like animals? What will happen to them after?”

I explained to my 20 year old, that starting with the most ‘out there’ idea and working back is a strategy.  If LIVE animals were out then she could send in cardboard models.  I explained to her too that you don’t HAVE to know how to make them – templates were available on the Canon website.  They had a huge choice that would suit admirably.   My reasoning for 3d models was that Chelsea was a 3D animator.

Chelsea warmed very quickly to the idea – she is quite a visionary like me after all. She set about looking up the canon site for the first animal – a mouse.  She printed out the template for the mouse  and made up it up.

Time to write the accompanying copy.  The key to writing good copy is to put what you are saying in the terms of what benefit will you give the recipient.

The last line that said “More to come” was the teaser.

With the mouse made and the copy written, (which was pasted onto the inside lid of an Apple Macintosh mouse box that I had lying around) time to package it.  She wrapped the box in brown paper.  One more thing to do, however, before it went…

1. Check that Kylie was still the General Manager and

2. Her name had not changed since Chelsea had been given her card (marriage, Divorce etc).

These are two critical elements when carrying out a direct mail campaign.  NEVER get the name or position wrong.

After she had confirmed the details were correct, the package was addressed. We then drove the 55 minutes from our home to the Cutting Edge building.  Chelsea delivered the package to the front desk and we left.  We were pretty certain that a parcel individually addressed, by name to the General Manager, would most likely, only be opened by them.

Day 1 done…    Day 2 – an adaptable creature gets a turn.




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When life dishes you out a lemon – make lemonade

By June 6, 2017 Family

I have spent this morning at the hospital with my wonderful mother in law Elaine.   Nine days ago Elaine fell and bashed her ribs so hard she suspected they were broken.  As a nurse in her younger days, she knew nothing could be done if they were broken and to just take it easy.

Easier said than done when you’re 85 years old with a severe disability to start with.  Just when she felt she was on the mend, last night she turned over in her bed and suffered excruciating pain.  Jim, my father in law, called the ambulance and Elaine was ferried off to emergency at our closest hospital.  I found out this morning and rushed over to be with her.  Her last hospital experience (a different hospital thank goodness), was disgusting.  She was left in a hallway for three hours, freezing cold, unable to move and alone.  I vowed that would never happen again – not on my watch!

Elaine’s fall nine days prior, occurred because she has quite a severe disability to begin with.  It affects her balance and if she becomes slightly off centre, over she goes.  This time it was as she was pushing something into the garbage bin under her sink.  She lost her balance and came down on the corner of the door.  It must have hurt like hell!

‘Mummy, you have to stay alive’.

Elaine’s life changed when she was in her early 40’s.  Driving with her husband Jim and one of their sons Nick, who was 12 at the time, they were returning home to Perth from a trip to Melbourne.

Elaine always felt she should help out with the long distance driving even though she struggled with concentrating on long roads.  I know how she feels because I have this problem too.  Ignoring this fact, believing it to be just mind over matter, she took her turn at the wheel.  Next thing she remembers is that she was lying on the road struggling to stay alive.  She had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Fortunately Jim and Nick were unhurt or she would never have forgiven herself.   Elaine had broken her neck.   They were a long way from help and she recalls feeling she could have easily faded away except for that fact that Nick’s little face was inches from hers and he was saying

‘Mummy, you have to stay alive’.

Eventually she was helicoptered back from the South Australian border where the accident occurred to the Austin hospital in Melbourne.

This was a lucky break (excuse the pun), because the Austin Hospital in Melbourne was a leader in dealing with spinal injuries.  At the time, other hospitals around Australia believed in operating on broken necks and spines.  This would have been a disastrous outcome.  Her neck had broken and folded around her spinal cord, cutting off all feeling below the neck.  She was in fact a quadriplegic.

Nick and Jim stayed by her side in Melbourne not knowing if she would ever recover or feel from the neck down again.  Back home, their other three sons were growing up fast. At ages 15, 16 and 17 these boys, with the help of Elaine’s brother David, simply got on with life – they knew mum would be back soon enough.

Elaine’s life hung in the balance for weeks then she gradually she stabilized.     Bolts were then drilled into her skull and weights were attached to these bolts. Millimetre by millimetre over the next 6 months they stretched her neck bones back into place.  Although her spinal cord had been damaged, affecting the right side of her body,  it had remained in tact.   Three months after the accident Elaine finally felt her hands and feet tingle.

It was to be months more of rehabilitation and pain before she was able to fly home to Perth.  In all the time she had been in the Austin Hospital she drove herself on with the knowledge her boys needed her and she must return.

‘Boys!  I’m home’ she cried – except the boys had gone…

The day finally arrived and she was home.  Naturally her sons were thrilled to see her – but there was a change.  They took over the running of the house and were totally independent.  Boys no longer but capable young men to be proud of.  Except that she then went through self pity and remorse – she felt she had lost her value and was no longer needed.

Women of Elaine’s era self worth, once they were married, came from being the rock of every family.  They didn’t work – husbands simply wouldn’t allow their wives to work!  Their job was to care for the home (housework and meals) and the family (the kids – in every aspect).  Hence Elaine had given up her beloved nursing and become a mother of 4 boys in a time period of 5 years!  (I CANNOT IMAGINE WHAT THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE).


To come home after such a traumatic event from her accident and find things would never be the same again was heartbreaking.  More next blog…

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