Monday, September 19, 2011

Fun with frugality: Melanie McMinn

Melanie McMinn is the inspirational woman behind a popular and spirited blog by the name of The Frugal Kiwi –  a 2011 finalist in the highly acclaimed Bloggie Awards and runner up in ApartmentTherapy Best Green Home Blog Homie Awards.
“In the interest of disclosure,” Melanie says with a grin, “I should admit, I’m not really a kiwi.  I was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, USA but I love New Zealand.”

Melanie launched the blog in 2009, when, at the age of 36, her life was turned upside down by what the doctors at the time believed had been a stroke.    It took 20 months for specialists to discover that in fact Melanie was suffering from an extended duration, extremely severe migraine.
“I’m happy that I haven’t had a stroke. Thrilled, in fact. My long term prognosis is much better than if I’d truly had a stroke at age 36,” Melanie says.

Since the onset of the migraine Melanie’s natural tendency to frugality has blossomed into a full-fledged necessity and from there The Frugal Kiwi was born.
“I thought I’d share a tip or two to others who are frugal by nature or necessity and love living the green life.”

Melanie grew up in the southern states of America, the eldest child of simple, hard working parents.  Her father, a preacher, worked in the family business, a holiday park, and her mother was a stay at home mum.
“My mother, who suffers from various thus-far undiagnosable neurological disorders, was a stay at home mum, lover of books and quilter of beautiful things and still is.”

The family moved all around the South and Melanie changed schools often, learning to enjoy her own company and developing a love of reading.
Later, whilst completing a Master’s degree in Audiology Melanie’s eleven year marriage ended.
“ I struggled as best I could through the rest of my training as an audiologist and worked for a while in Arizona. Feeling I needed a break from life as I knew it, I sought out a job in New Zealand. I landed a position at Auckland District Health Board and moved to New Zealand.”

Still, moving half way around the world was not enough for Melanie and before long she left audiology and launched a career in freelance writing.
“ I wrote a couple of magazine pieces, but mostly worked a corporate freelancer. Before I could get fully established as a freelancer, the migraine hit.”
Unable to work, wanting to contribute to the household as best she could and needing a distraction from the excruciating pain, Melanie designed the Frugal Kiwi site and started blogging.   In the beginning she posted recipes but before long her love of adventure kicked in and she embarked on more adventurous projects like soap and felt making, bee keeping, and a variety of other activities.
Since then it has been a challenge to keep the mix on the blog balanced.
“It is easy to go off on a tangent and write about one subject, chickens or bees or felting for a month, but not all of my readers are that interested in any one of my projects. Making sure I keep a mix of posts that will engage the majority of my readers is a priority and a challenge for me.”

Designing, writing and managing a blog can be a challenge for most people  - but Melanie has her constant companion, The Migraine, to battle with as well.  She says her posting can sometimes be erratic and there are times when the pain is bad that she worries about her content.  The blogs numerous fans, however don’t seem to share her concerns.
“ I went through a period of four months earlier this year where I was barely conscious-a time I call living in ZombieLand.  I did my best during that time to create engaging content, but only my readers can say how successful I was. It did amuse me no end to have several comments from reader during my time in ZombieLand saying how energetic I was, so I must have been faking it pretty well at times.”

Although popular, the Frugal Kiwi doesn’t bring in a huge income, although it does bring in potential customers for Melanie’s Felted Kiwi product.  But money isn’t the point of the exercise.  Melanie blogs because she loves it.  When asked what she would do if handed a blank cheque, she laughs.
“Can I have the blank cheque now? In any case, I would still blog as I do now. I love knowing things. I love learning things. I like knowing how to do things and how things work. I'm not ONLY frugal and green because I have to be. I like my life the way it is. Passing that knowledge on in a way that people enjoy satisfies a pedagogical part of my soul.”

Melanie is not just adventurous in mind - before the arrival of the migraine, Melanie had another blog called Intrepid101,about her adventures  as a curvy lady:   skydiving, kayaking, rock climbing, riding in stunt planes, to name a few.  Melanies say too many women think, "I'll do that when I've lost a few pounds" and then life passes them by while they wait to get thinner.
"I wasn't waiting and boy am I glad now I didn't. Doing those sorts of things have been off the cards for me lately, but will hopefully be back on again in the coming months as things improve for me healthwise."

 ©2010 Angelique Jurd – All Rights Reserved.

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