Category: helping others

How to feel safer on social media.

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet lately, you probably haven’t been able to avoid the news of Kim Kardashian’s run in with some armed burglars. While my life is absolutely nothing like hers in many(!) aspects, it sends a shiver down my spine to imagine what that would feel like – the violation, the trauma and the fear that your children could lose their mother.

While she’s received a lot of hate and victim blaming comments online, I do feel for her – sure her case has been widely publicised and talked about, because she’s super duper famous – but it’s still something that can happen to anyone. Even if you don’t have millions of dollars’ worth of jewellery on your person.

I have read that the Kardashian/West/Jenner family have really locked down on their social media since the scary event and while I wish this was the ideal world in which it did not play a role in the exploitation of people, I think this is a smart idea for them in the circumstances.

Please be mindful that I am in no way victim blaming anyone. Just offering some advice that I try to live by.

When I say ‘try’ I mean I am not perfect in this oversharing culture we live in, but I do try to have a somewhat cautious approach and I’m hoping to improve.

While the Kardashians are not to blame for the awful decisions made by others to traumatise or stalk them (yes I know a lot of people are disagreeing with me right now but I stand by what I’m saying), I do think this raises a good discussion about how we can keep ourselves as safe as possible. We can’t control everything that might happen to us, but we can put some safety measures in place – even without access to giant burly bouncers and bodyguards!

Here are the ways we can try to keep ourselves/locations/valuables safe(r) when on social media/blogs…

Reveal your location after the fact (or not at all)

It’s probably unrealistic to expect people to never reveal where they’re going or where they’ve been. Social media empires have been built on being able to promote exactly this.

Social media is amazing for its sense of immediacy. We can live blog, live stream, we have apps like snapchat. But it can come with its risks.

People know exactly where we are, what valuables we’re wearing and can deduce many other things about us in that place and time. While I wish there weren’t people out there who would exploit this, there are.

Sometimes for privacy reasons, I will do things like ‘check in’ to a location as I’m leaving it. Or I will save snapchat posts straight to ‘memories’ and add them to my story later.

I will keep certain locations to myself, but promote others. I recently went on an awesome holiday, which I shared a lot of, but I did not reveal the exact place where I was staying with family. Until recently, nobody even knew the exact name of my hometown on this blog!

Sometimes it can help to be a little enigmatic. Don’t always be consistent. Makes it a little harder for people to determine if you’re alone, or who you’re with/not with etc. Check a lot of settings on your social media accounts, because some reveal your location automatically. Try to disable as many of those as you can! You should be in control, not the app!

Be selective about who you share certain details with

I keep both personal and public social media profiles. While nothing is completely foolproof, my personal/private profiles are much more locked down than my public profiles and information. I try to keep my private contacts as people I know personally and feel like I can trust (I could probably even stand to do a bit more culling). I don’t give access to those I do not know well and what I share more ‘privately’ is quite different to what I share publicly.

I think it’s really important to have your private/public online presence sorted. While the urge to overshare to a wider audience can be bloody tempting, I like having people I can message/snap privately without that audience. I just ask myself before posting: is this for a couple of select friends/family members only or is this for a wider audience? What am I willing to reveal about my life right now? I’m allowed to decide what’s best for myself and my family. Some things are just not for social media.

Do not openly say ‘I’m home alone’ or my home is empty.

I try not to ever openly say whether I’m home alone (especially at night time) or that my home is empty. I’m happy to publicly show off my rather annoyingly protective dogs too haha.

I once gasped when I saw an acquaintance publicly post that she was enjoying a bubble bath right that minute, with a check in location at her house. I knew she lived alone and it freaked me out. Please don’t do that! Please!

It’s all about timing and inclusion/exclusion of critical details.

Do not allow people to virtually case your joint 

I can be quite selective in which things I share images of around my house. I don’t show off valuables (not that there are many – if any – mind you haha). I do not think that I have ever given a virtual tour of sorts of my place – i.e. while my house is a pretty standard design, I don’t think I’ve ever revealed the layout in its entirety.

I might just show the pretty generic parts of my place that happen to be in the background of whatever I’m snapping that day. If it reveals too much, I send privately to people who I know and trust in real life, who have probably visited anyway!


I know I may sound a little over cautious to some (it’s not like I’m super rich or famous or a particularly desirable target – something I do not mind AT ALL), but in reality I am really not. I probably could stand to tighten up a lot more. In some ways I envy those who can share so much without fear/paranoia (sometimes it’s even inspiring), but in other ways I can feel concerned.

None of the tips I have written here can guarantee anything. Some awful people have a will and they find a way and there’s nothing much we can do about it (which is why victim blaming is absolute nonsense). This advice just makes me feel a little more empowered and maybe these things make a small difference in deterring some morally bankrupt individuals.

I definitely could learn a lot more about keeping myself and my family safe online, but I am trying to be more mindful of what I share – especially in light of this recent news story (yes I referred to it as a ‘news’ story,  Hatey McHaters!).

How do you manage your online identity/presence? Do you have personal safety online measures put in place? (please make sure your comments do not betray any personal details that could put you at risk) 

When tragedy strikes.

Last week, some terrible things happened – notably in Paris and Beirut. Sadly, much like the constant news we hear about shootings in the US, I fear that we’re all falling into a routine in our reactions to such awful events. It’s not that we’re desensitised (at least I hope not) but it’s very sad that we can now predict exactly how the initial aftermath will play out.

Shock and adrenaline.

We’ve all sat by our Twitter accounts and watched the live feeds as terrible news breaks. We hear rumours of terrorism. We are transfixed – we want the latest updates. People are scared and horrified. Our hearts break. The news becomes a trending topic across social media. We make sure to mention that we’re thinking of all those affected, because now that the world is seemingly so connected via the internet, it feels wrong not to acknowledge that something terrible is happening. We can’t ignore it.

Outrage.

When we hear more and more about the disgusting things that ‘terrorists’ have done, we become outraged. We want to do something. We start to show our support for those who are attacked. We change our profile photos on Facebook. We sign petitions. We share what we feel are important messages on how to navigate such horrible news. If we’re in a position to, we donate to related charities or organise to show up at certain events.

Out come the haters. The ignorance runs rife. Newsfeeds are filled with weird propaganda of scumbags who preach hate against Islam. You start to realise the true colours of people who you used to think were a little smarter than that. You feel disappointment as you start clicking ‘hide’, ‘block posts from this page’, ‘unfollow’. People become competitive and start arguments about who is more caring. We’ve all seen it.

“Oh, look at you all supporting the people in Paris. You don’t even care about what’s happening in x, y, or z every day of the year.”

“Hashtag activism is pathetic and lazy. Why aren’t you actually doing something about it?”

Politicians whose views should never be given the air time come out of the woodwork. It all starts to feel like some sort of shitshow and you despair.

Horror stories break hearts. 

As time rolls on, horrific firsthand accounts emerge from survivors. Eventually we click on a couple. We want to know what these poor people have been through. Last night I finally read some and I found myself in tears. I had to stop. It was a luxury that I could. My heart truly does go out to the people who live through events like this. You wonder if your heart can take anymore and then you wonder how people actually living through it must be feeling, if this is how you’re feeling so far away from the situation.

Waleed makes so much sense. 

Then the thing comes that we’ve been waiting for with bated breath. The awesome Waleed Aly of The Project comes through with the goods. He is always the voice of reason. He nails everything I’ve been thinking but cannot express as eloquently. Waleed is not taking any bullshit. He will smash your ignorance into smithereens if you let him. He will use facts and intelligence and wit. No-one gets out dumber. A little hope is restored.

ISIL is WeakWaleed talks about how we can stop ISIL #TheProjectTVWritten by Waleed and Tom Whitty (@twhittyer)

Posted by The Project on Monday, 16 November 2015

What can we change?

Now this is just my opinion, but here’s what I think…

We can stop judging the way other people grieve, mourn or show solidarity with the victims of such attacks. Do you really think you’re a superior person because you trolled or insulted somebody who shows compassion for other people in this world? Do you really think you’re achieving anything by dismissing their love and empathy as empty nothingness? We can educate people about the lesser known social injustices occurring around the world without shitting all over other people who show their support and sadness about something more visible. We can stop buying into racist or xenophobic rhetoric. We can speak up for love and reject hate and anger (that is what fuels such evil people to do these things – why would we think it’s going to make us better?). We can raise children who are generous, tolerant, accepting, but who also know how to critically analyse what they’re seeing and hearing every day from the media, politicians and evil ‘organisations’ who are trying to divide us. We can talk about terrorism as basic, cowardly and an extreme act of stupidity. We can be proactive when we have the opportunity. We can choose our thoughts and our tweets. Like my homeboy Waleed says, we can choose to NOT give ‘terrorists’ what they want.

We can hug the people we love extra hard each day and never let them doubt how we feel about them. We can remember what’s really important. We can send and share that love and kindness everywhere we go. Because love is contagious and it really can start at home. Anger that is directed in all the wrong places is poisonous, but love is energising.

We are all better than a handful of deplorable, awful, violent people. I believe love can win if we choose it.

 

I beg you not to burn + Banana Boat Giveaway.

Products supplied by Banana Boat for review & giveaway

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While I wouldn’t exactly say that spring has completely sprung around these parts (it’s a still a bit cool for my liking), the sun has definitely been showing its face around here a lot more lately. I’m already planning so many more outdoor activities – beach time, more outdoor running, spending time in the garden, working on the outside of our house, trips to the playground, socialising and more. Yay! SUMMER IS COMING!

*stops happy dancing and puts on serious face*

Only thing is… with summer comes more risk of doing damage to our skin. While we can still do damage on cloudy days, it’s during the summer that I start to see disturbing images on social media of people with pretty bad sunburn. Usually captioned with silly emoji and a bit of a light hearted, “oh – whoops – burnt again – silly me – hahaha!”

Some people even seem proud of it. Sometimes there’s even talk of how they hope that after their skin burns, they’ll be brown and tanned.

I’d be lying if I said that I don’t worry about it. I’d also be lying if I said that sometimes it doesn’t frickin’ annoy me that they’d potentially mess with their lives just for a tan.

Look, I get it. Sometimes we can be forgetful. We can fall asleep in the sun after a couple of beverages, forgetting to find shade or reapply our sunscreen. We can be so absorbed in a rousing game of beach cricket or a productive day in the backyard and lose track of time. We can unexpectedly find ourselves outdoors for a prolonged period and realise we have nothing to protect us.

But I am appealing to you all to stop getting sunburnt. Make it your mission this summer (and all year round). My own family has experienced tragic loss to melanoma. It’s real and it’s happening to Aussies everywhere. Our lifestyle and our weather put us at more risk if we don’t take precautions. It doesn’t just happen to “other” people. Believe me when I say this.

Ever since our family’s very sad wake up call we try to keep up with our skin checks (you might be super scared to do it in case the results are bad but trust me – not knowing won’t change the reality of a situation – it will only steal away the time you could have been treating it). I have my house, handbag, and beach bag stocked up with sunscreen everywhere. I have it in roll on form, spray form, cream form, formulated for children, stuff for sports activities, water play. You name it, we’ve got it. Wherever we are. It has to be easy or we forget.

We cover up as much as we can. This spring/summer I’m on the hunt for the perfect wide brimmed hat. I am terrible with hats (so not a hat person), but I want to protect myself better and set a great example for the Little Mister. I urge all of my fellow non hat people to give it a go too. There’s gotta be something flattering out there for us!! We just have to commit to the search. Vanity just can’t be an excuse anymore.

Wear your sunglasses. Protect your eyes. I have been making a huge effort to remember my sunnies everywhere I go. See, during the Little Mister’s first year of life, I kept forgetting them. I was completely consumed by what to pack for the baby, that I put myself last. I don’t know why but sunglasses always went to the bottom of the list as I ran out of the door. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but by the time the Little Mister was about 18 months old, I realised the damage. In just that short amount of time (after years of being dedicated to wearing my sunnies for most of my life), I had sun spots around the corners of my eyes. They look a bit like I’ve made a mess of my eye make up. At first I thought that was what they were. I rubbed at them, thinking I’d stained my skin with eye liner or mascara. When the realisation dawned on me that it was the sun’s doing, I immediately changed my ways. I admit it started with vanity, but it showed me just how quickly you can do irreversible damage. It doesn’t take long. I promise you that. Wear them when you’re driving, walking around outdoors, any time your eyes are exposed to the sunlight.

I want my family and friends to take it seriously, because I want them around for a loooooong time. I’d rather they all be a little bit pale and perfect than burnt, leathery and flaky (and potentially sick). Tell me, which is the better look?

So that is my plea to you. Please don’t be weirdly proud of your sunburn. Do not increase your risk in the hopes that you’ll tan. Protect yourself when you’re out and about. Protect your precious children. Let’s teach them good habits now that will pay off later.

Let’s prevent the heartbreak of you or your family suffering from melanoma. Let’s not forget to look after ourselves (I know it can happen easily if we don’t put self care at the top of the list but it’s so important). Let’s stop laughing about sunburn like it’s a funny joke and start having meaningful conversations about preventing skin cancer.

This is an issue very close to my family’s heart and I want to help you to get your family’s sun protection routine in order, so I’ve arranged a little something to get a couple of my lucky readers started! I am a big fan of Banana Boat and I am so stoked to be able to run a Banana Boat giveaway right here on the blog!

You can win either a kid’s pack (4 items as below):

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…or an adult’s pack (2 items as below):

 

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How to enter…

Leave a comment right here on the blog, telling me which pack you want (kids or adults – if you don’t mind which one then let me know that either would be fine) and what you plan to do to make sun protection easier for you and/or your family this summer. Any great tips for my other readers? 

T & Cs

  • There will be two separate winners. One winner will receive the kids prize and one winner will receive the adults prize. While prize preferences of competition entrants will be taken into consideration, it is not guaranteed that they will receive the pack they preferred, should they be named a winner.
  • Giveaway ends at midnight WST on Sunday the 4th October, 2015.
  • The prizes will be sent out by a 3rd party. Products may vary slightly from what is pictured.
  • Winners will be chosen based on the quality of their entry comments. My choices will be final.
  • The winner will be notified privately via email and be announced on my Facebook page (click to follow).
  • Giveaway only open to Australian residents (so sorry my gorgeous foreigners).

GOOD LUCK!!! 🙂

When you’re in your PJs by midday. Winning.

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Have you ever had a sudden revelation that changes your life forever?

*smug face*

I have. I had a revelation late last night. I’d turned everything off, was ready to go to bed and then I remembered my earlier intention to buy some cheap hoodies online, so I don’t have to wash the same two over and over to the point of ridiculous. Out came the laptop and I managed to grab a couple that were on sale. While this was going to make my life easier (and comfier), this was not the revelation. The revelation came when the website told me that if I just spent $20 more I would get free postage. Everyone loves free postage, right?

So I thought I’d have a look at some PJs. I had been wearing the same long sleeved nightie to death, because it was the only thing I felt comfy in. I have winter PJs but the pants kept annoying me. They were a bit loose so when I was sleeping, they bunched up at my knees or into my crotch (TMI?). I’d resorted to my trusty nightie, but my legs did get a bit cold and Mr Unprepared isn’t always stoked when I use his legs to warm mine at night (“Get off! Your feet are FREEZING!”). I admit I do it on purpose just for a bit of a shit stir sometimes – never gets old. For me, anyhow.

I did see a lot of ‘loungewear’ that confused me. Are they clothes specifically for lounging about in? Can you wear them in public? How does it work? What is ‘loungewear’? It kind of seems like when pyjamas and real clothes have a baby and they name it loungewear. Does anyone ever wear it? Tell me how/where/when, please. It seems kind of like a fancy thing to do.

Anyhow, back to the pyjama situation. I saw these PJ pants that spoke to me. I must point out that while they are an absolute revelation to me, they are not at all a new concept. They’re basically long johns (but not thermal – not the ones I bought anyway). Leggings that you wear to bed, if you want to nitpick. They’re made in the softest fabric, they stretch with you and because they are very fitted, they don’t ride up. They’re kind of like the bottom half of a good pair of onesies. Without the butt flap.

Only the day before, I had got into my bed in a fit of wishful thinking (I have a kid and it was not night time yet). I thought, “I wish I could wear leggings to bed”. And then I got straight out of my bed, because I have a kid and I didn’t want to make my leggings all fluffy and gross.

So you can imagine my excitement when I realised that all my life I had failed to realise the existence of these amazing pyjama pants.

Earth shattering, I know. You’re shocked too, and not at all rolling your eyes at how late I am to this glorious soft panted party, right?

So I ordered them. And then today I found some in Big W and I bought them, because they were cheap and colourful and I couldn’t wait any longer.

I got home and all I wanted to do was put them on and swan about my house in them for the rest of the day. I waited until I’d done all of my ‘need to go out the front of the house’ tasks, and then I could not resist for even a moment longer. So basically, this all happened before 1pm. The Little Mister thinks I’m bonkers, but DAMN I’m comfy.

My excuse was, that it’s Friday. Magical things happen on Friday. Friday is a beautiful unicorn riding on a rainbow.

But I later found out that there was actually an even better excuse! Today is National Pyjama Day! How’s that for the best ever accidental coincidence?

I decided that I couldn’t know that this wonderful day was happening without donating a little something to help the effort to raise awareness and funds for foster kids (through the Pyjama Foundation).

If you’d like to have the best excuse ever to chuck on your PJs in the middle of the day too, then just do it! You can donate here if you like 🙂

Happy Friday!

Are you wearing your PJs too? Do you have any silly Friday traditions? What are your pyjama preferences? 

Feel good Christmas gift ideas that won’t break the bank.

Sponsored by GroupTogether

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When I think of Christmas, I think of the act of giving. I think of the ways in which we can show the people in our lives that we care about them and that we have appreciated them throughout the whole year. Christmas to me is about togetherness. In the ever increasingly commercialised world that we live in, we could almost be forgiven for thinking that it’s about ‘stuff’ and ‘money’ and ‘more is better’, but we don’t have to remortgage the house each year to please those we care about. Truly. A little imagination and a lot of love can go a long way (which is what really counts don’t you think)!

Here are some great ideas (if I do say so myself) that won’t break the bank. They are not only fantastic if your budget is a little tight, but for anyone who has a lot of people to share the love with. And? The coolest part? They aren’t tacky, generic crap. They mean something and they’ll bring a genuine smile!

Group gifts.

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I think if I was given the choice between several itty bitty gifts and one thing that I really wanted, it would be a no-brainer. Just think, if your family/friendship group/sporting team etc all put in just a few dollars (whatever they chose to give), it would add up pretty quickly! You could give a loved one a much needed spa appointment, an experience (hot laps in a race car or sky diving anyone?), or that thing they really want but have never been able to justify buying it for themselves, because they’re so wonderfully generous to everyone else in their lives.

There’s even this awesome website called GroupTogether.com which makes it ridiculously easy! It is pretty cool because the organiser doesn’t have to work so hard to make a group gift happen, which is nice because it can take up a lot of time we don’t have at this time of year. Basically, you set up a collection with GroupTogether, it sends around an email to the others in the group and if they want to contribute, they pay online and add to a gorgeous gift card (yes – you don’t even have to rush down to the shops for a massive card and then somehow arrange for everyone to physically sign it at the last minute)! Basically, this helpful website tracks payments and can even send reminders! When the time comes, it will transfer the money to the organiser who can purchase the gift! Yay! That is a lot of brain space saved for us to fill with other festive chaos 😉

I know that group presents aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I find that not pressuring people to spend more than they can give (or judging those who choose not to) and setting realistic targets makes it a really positive experience! GroupTogether is perfect for managing that!

Also? For added feel-goodedness (not a word but I don’t care for your rules), GroupTogether even lets you nominate a portion of the gift amount to be donated to charity! Yes!

Which brings me to my next idea…

Charity donations.

The perfect thing for the person who has everything or needs nothing. At this time of year, I realise just how lucky I am and I try to remember those who may be less fortunate. Every year my mum purchases gift cards from World Vision for the family (isn’t she awesome?). They aren’t just any old Christmas cards, though. Each one can help World Vision to provide anything from school pencils, to immunisations or school books for children in need around the world (you can pick what you want to give). Each time I receive one of these cards, I feel genuine happiness inside – especially since I’ve become a mum. It brings me a warm feeling to know that someone has donated on my behalf to give children the things my child will be lucky enough to take for granted. Other organisations such as Oxfam provide a similar service.

If causes closer to home are more your thing, there are often present drives for charities in the bigger department stores. You can select a gift for a child, wrap it and place it under a tree there. It is sure to brighten somebody’s Christmas day.

You can also simply choose a charity close to your heart and make a donation on behalf of your loved one/s.

Let’s share the love around these holidays.

Home made gifts.

I know. It sounds like too much effort. Or it sounds lame. But, hear me out. I am a fairly average crafter, with very little experience AND I have a toddler. I have managed to somehow fool people into believing that I am actually OK at this home made gift caper and if I can, you can too!

Here are some ideas you can find online (or on Pinterest where I found them)…

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‘Cookies’ that can be baked later 🙂

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A Sundae kit

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Rein-beer!

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A naughty hot chocolate in a jar 😉

You can also put together great little (affordable) ‘care’ packages – mini manicures/pedicures in a jar (let’s just make peace with the fact that everything’s in a jar these days haha), little survival kits for anything from a frazzled parent to someone who is scared of zombies! Perhaps a uni student, a parent-to-be, or …well, just about anyone! Just get creative!

Oh, and if you do have a toddler like I do, SLAVE LABOUR. They think they’re enjoying some awesome new pre-school activity, but really you are teaching them about Christmas and the spirit of giving and then everyone receives something adorable (because it’s made with love by their favourite little person/people)! Yes. It’s a win/win situation, right there haha.

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Salt dough ornaments

I could seriously go on and on and on and on. But I won’t. Although, you can contact me if you ever want more ideas. I’ll be all over that sh…tuff (I found out on Twitter that I swear too much and I’m on the naughty list – oops)…

As long as you put a little bit of love in it, people will enjoy it x

Something meaningful.

Sometimes something straight from the heart can be the most valuable thing of all. These are one of a kind, very personalised things that no-one else will ever give that person.

I’ve been known to make photo books filled with special memories, and when the Little Mister was a baby, we ordered special little brag books for the grandparents and great grandparents. You can either print the photos out yourself, go to a printing place (for just a few cents per print) and then buy cheap little albums to put them in. OR you can order them as pre-made books online. A lot of websites will run amazing bargain priced Christmas specials and you can get them made at a very low cost.

Here are a couple of other ideas:

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“Open when…” letters to a loved one

These are great for when you need to spend time apart from your partner – perhaps one of you travels for work. Or it would even be great for your kids if you have to be apart for whatever reason.

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Pre-planned/pre-paid (if required) date nights for every month of the year

Oh my goodness. I would love this! Sure, it does cost something some of the time, but the time you would get with your partner (kid free) would be priceless and you deserve to treat yourselves all year round if you are lucky enough to get the child care (this kind of gift would be great motivation)! Perhaps the envelopes could include movie passes, reservations for a restaurant, baby sitting funds, something for a concert etc etc. However, there are a LOT of things you can do for free together too (and not just the bow chicka wow wow if you know what I mean haha), with a little imagination!

Your time/presence.

Last but definitely not least, give your time. Just be there. Show your loved ones how much you care all year round. It is the most important gift of all. You are very special to some people in your life and you can never be replaced. Find a way to be there in spirit, even if/when you can’t be there in person. Turn up when you can 🙂

~

I hope these ideas help a little. The thing I like about them is that you can tailor just about all of them to your budget or your particular situation.

What great gift ideas do you have? Have you tried these things before? x

Thursday thoughts.

Whenever I am feeling a bit “off”, be that anxious, a bit down or really frustrated, I like to find great quotes to fill my mind with and get myself headed in a better direction. I really think that our thoughts are powerful. They determine the energy we put out to other people and they can affect our health. Here are the things that are soothing me today…

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I’ve decided that whenever I am feeling conflicted or I find myself thinking negatively about people or circumstances, I am going to ask myself this question. Is this worrying/resentment etc good for my soul? Maybe not. I must remember to look after myself, rather than expend my energy on being annoyed or worried about other things or people that I ultimately have no control over.

I must do what is good for my soul and keep it healthy.

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I tend to be an over thinker. Which can be a good thing (it’s great for blogging and for having a greater understanding of myself and the people I meet) but sometimes I don’t know how to switch off. I can find myself worrying about the future or over thinking the past. I need to take a deep breath and be here in the ‘now’. Right now is good. Right now I am sitting at my dining table while my Little Mister plays, the sun is out and right here in my bubble of ‘now-ness’ everything is good. What a relief. I must remember to take life moment by moment when it starts getting away from me in my head.

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I must remember that those frustrating little hiccups in life do indeed pass eventually. That dreaded task you have to do will eventually be done with. That stressful deadline for whatever it is will come. And go. That miserable weather that’s getting you down will eventually make way for sunny days. That phase your toddler is going through will pass and that will probably be bittersweet so just go with it. It won’t last forever. Some things pass us by quicker than others, but most of those ‘every day’ type stresses will make way for better things. This quote really helps to put most things in perspective. I feel very fortunate that it applies to my life.

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Oh yes. Our brains can really play tricks on us. Sometimes we can let our inner voice be really mean. I am choosing to not believe every single thing my brain tells me. My brain can be a lying liar with its pants on f*cking fire sometimes. Especially when I’m anxious or angry. I need to always stop and ask myself – what evidence is there that the worst case scenario is actually happening or going to happen? Am I really as awful as my mind is telling me right now? Let’s be honest, probably not. Being able to recognise when this is occurring can be the difference between sanity and…the alternative! It can make the difference between positive and negative thinking.

I need to discriminate between true intuition and false thoughts that are destructive (and not good for my soul – see above).

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Unfortunately, there are people in this world who would rather squash your spirit so that they can feel better about themselves, rather than be inspired to raise themselves up and become better. It can be really helpful to recognise when this is happening. I have made a vow to myself to never lower myself to a level of behaviour that I am not OK with. It’s not worth it just to fit in, make your point or to make peace. The price your soul pays each time this happens is just too great. I am all for compromise, but it must go both ways for the betterment of a situation. NOT because someone wants to put me in my place or make themselves feel taller by standing on my shoulders. Those sorts of people get rather heavy after a while, don’t you think?

I will happily give somebody a hand up or support them as they make great changes, but it won’t come at the cost of my ability to live with who I am.

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Here’s a lovely one. As I look forward to Christmas (sorry to mention it before December haha), this is really important to me. I hope that I can show a generous spirit to those around me. The benefits of being generous of spirit are just too good to ignore! Putting all that positive energy and love out there is a beautiful thing. It’s not all about money or material things either. It’s about sharing your abundance, whatever that might be, with others. It could be a donation to charity or a thoughtful Christmas gift. But it can be as simple as a smile, a listening ear or great thought put into what we do for others. These things cost nothing to give.

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

I support you: It’s your baby. Feed them however you need to.

Support

I am participating in the I Support You campaign (1st to 7th November) run by Mama By the Bay. This blog post is in aid of supporting all loving mothers NO MATTER HOW they feed their babies or what parenting choices they make. 

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Look, I’m just going to get straight to the point on the issue of feeding our babies. Despite how we feel when we have our first babies (I can’t speak for subsequent babies so I’ll stick to my own experiences – please feel free to add to the conversation if you have more than one), the way we feed them is not how we should define ourselves. Neither is the method by which your child is delivered. They are just facts on a timeline. Things that happened in our journey. A path we had to take (even if we chose it we did so because it was best for us and our babies). It does not define our child’s life. As I look at my almost 3 year old (how time flies!) I don’t fuss that he was mixed fed from day 1. I don’t care that he came to us via C-section. It’s just a memory now. It hasn’t determined the rest of his life. He sits at the dinner table with us, munching on whatever I make him (well mostly – he is a toddler after all). I have a scar, but I only notice it when it tingles after a couple of cocktails (true story – it’s weird). My Little Mister is funny, charming (most of the time), he is healthy and he is bright. Medically, all is quite well too. He has the immune system of …whatever only gets sick once a year (touch wood) and he is developing quite normally. While it took me time (about a year) to feel this way, I have NO regrets. None. Oh, except that I wish I didn’t worry so much what other people thought about my choices. THAT was the one thing I wasted time on. The one thing that kept me awake at night (even when my baby was sleeping).

Please allow me to do some very blunt myth busting in the name of supporting anyone who has ever had to feed a baby (it’s kind of a necessary task – you know, for keeping them alive and stuff)…

*ahem*

Brace yourselves.

Myth: “If you stop breastfeeding, you’re going to miss out on a special bonding experience with your baby.”

Um, no. No you’re not. While breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with your baby (I can attest to that), it is certainly not the only way. It is one of many gorgeous ways we connect with our children. If you cannot (or choose not to) breastfeed, you are not to buy into that BS, OK? You’re a loving mother who has many tricks up her sleeve. Cuddles while bottle feeding – lovely. Talking to your baby. Singing with them. Eye contact. Smiles. The gentle way you tend to them. Quality time getting to know each other. The love you have for them is pretty powerful stuff in itself. You really think your baby can’t feel that bond? How do we expect adopted babies to flourish in the loving arms of their new parents (a heads up: I’m proof)? How do we expect awesome new dads to connect so beautifully? They can’t breastfeed and that does not diminish the love. Have faith in yourself. If the love is there, you’re going to be just fine. Sorry to be a little feisty, but FFS. I hate that people perpetuate this kind of judgement.

Myth: “Feeding your baby formula is the easy way out. New mums give up too easily on breastfeeding.”

Look, I have not met one new mother who has found the decision easy. I know that for me, to give up breastfeeding was a huge decision. I tortured myself over it for a long time before I went through with it. I weighed up the pros, the cons. I was educated on the subject. I had a great support network. I could argue that for a lot of new mums it’s harder to give it up. We have to change our expectations of ourselves that we may have had since before we were even pregnant. We have to admit to ourselves that whatever the circumstances, our bodies may not understand what we’re asking (this can mean working through feelings that we’re failing – we’re not FYI). We have to face the judgement of others. We have to fight our inner critics (the worst ones of all). We have to do so much more work (sterilising/prepping/warming bottles), spend more money on formula and the extra bits and bobs that come with the job. You call that easier?? We are f*cking warriors too – don’t you forget that. All new mothers are.

Myth: “Formula babies are fatter than breastfed babies. It’s like you’re feeding your baby fast food.”

Some babies just need some extra help to thrive. I’m sorry, but a thriving baby is better than the alternative. Also? Some of the cutest, chubbiest babies I have EVER seen were breastfed. And they were gorgeous. And healthy. And they grew out of their Michelin Man features quickly enough. And that’s saying something, because the Little Mister was a chubby bub indeed! Was it the formula? Probably. But only because he was able to thrive, just like the other babies, despite my body’s challenges. He, just like the breastfed babies his age, has suddenly grown into a boy shape (eek – when did that happen?) and wouldn’t you know it? You look at him, then look at his little friends and *shock horror* you would not be able to tell the difference. I know some people argue about the long term effects, but formula has been fed to human babies for generations now and I would not be able to tell the difference when I look at my friends or even my friends’ parents. So many more environmental or genetic factors determine our health and our body shapes as we grow. Formula is the least of our worries!!

Myth: “Pick a side and stick to it. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Which one are you?”

Firstly, it’s nobody’s damn business. You don’t owe any nosey parker an answer. Secondly, why can’t you have the best of both worlds when necessary? The Little Mister’s life began with mixed feeding. For the first 3 days he was exclusively on formula by default as I had no supply and he was in a hospital an hour’s drive away from me. The next 3 days I was stressed, on a heavy course of antibiotics (which no-one told me might interfere with my supply – this would have been so much more comforting for me to know) and getting stir crazy in the hospital. No milk! After a terrible first night with the Little Mister when he returned to me (he cried because he was essentially starving), a kindly midwife suggested formula top ups. She made it OK. There was no point starving him and distressing everybody involved. The first days of parenthood are hard enough! After I got home, with the help of some medication, I had some supply. It wasn’t awesome but it was enough for him to reap the benefits. I fed mostly on demand during the day but he had some top ups at night (I would breastfeed first and then offer him a little formula if he needed it). If we went out, I would pack some formula, because my boobs were super messy and unpredictable. I couldn’t rely on them as well as I might have liked to.

In my mind, he got the benefits of breast milk, but his diet was also supplemented to give him the amount that would help him grow and thrive. It was hard work to do both, but it was worth it. It was the right thing for us. And there was nothing wrong with that. There is no need to pick a side. What side? How about we all stay on the side of keeping our babies happy and healthy? However we need to in our unique circumstances? Yes please.

If you have a super hungry baby cluster feeding and crying for more when you have no more to give, what is the harm in supplementing his intake with formula? Gives your boobs a little more time to restock and helps your baby to feel satisfied and to keep the weight on in those important early days.

I know that we were lucky and there was no nipple confusion with the Little Mister – he was stoked to have anything and I am grateful. But seriously, if you’re struggling – like really struggling – anyway, what is the big effing deal? The worst that could happen? Your child wants a bottle over anything else? Read all of the above. It’s gonna be OK. I promise. Give yourself a break. You’re awesome. You care about your kid. A WHOLE LOT. You’re not failing. A lot of factors have to come together just right for exclusive breastfeeding to occur (your body has to come to the party, the baby has to learn how, and a whole lot of other things can affect your experience). Some women are lucky and others, not so much. It is NOT a reflection on your ability to parent. YOU ARE AMAZING no matter how you feed your child.

Newsflash: No-one is better than another person just because of how they feed.

I am making my stance clear here. I support you no matter how you feed your baby. Not in some kind of passive aggressive BS kind of way, where I say it because it’s the right thing to say, but then make little judgey comments here and there. I actually really mean it. I really really do.

We are all doing our best.

If you could write a message of support to new mothers, what would it be (doesn’t necessarily have to be about feeding)? Leave a comment – it might make all the difference to someone x

You might choose to spread the word via blog or social media yourself. Share my blog post, write your own (you can find ideas here), utilise Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #ISupportYou or #ISYWeek

x

How I feel today.

This post was inspired by Fat Mum Slim’s September Photo a Day challenge, but also by R U OK Day.

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About the photo: Yep. That’s one dodgy selfie right there. It would be so embarrassing if I actually admitted to you how much effort went into that one mediocre – and heavily edited due to no make up or hair styling, my insecurity and a frumpy hoodie outfit – shot. Do you like my sexy light switch? Anyway, today’s prompt was ‘How I feel today’. And I am so glad to be able to say that I feel OK. In a good way. I’m very lucky. I held up that sign to let you know that if you’re not lucky enough to feel OK right now, there is help out there and that I care. R U OK day (which is today) is about getting people to check in with those they care about and starting conversations that keep us connected with the aim of preventing suicide. If you’re worried about somebody or want to raise awareness, visit the R U OK site for some great resources. If you’re worried about yourself, please do seek help. You can call Lifeline on 131114 or reach out to someone who will listen. I hope somebody asks you this question, so you’ll feel safe enough to speak up. I promise you that SOMEBODY cares. I care.

So, I just want to ask…are YOU OK?

I’ve decided to look after myself. 

I’ve been feeling rather frumpy, overweight and just plain bloated and tired lately. There’s nothing like trying to look after a toddler when you aren’t even looking after yourself – hint, it’s hell. I was eating so much crap and even my latest attempt at exercising regularly wasn’t making me feel much better. So I’ve had to tackle my diet. Get back to basics. Not so much junk. More fresh food. I have to get serious. I don’t want to feel grumpy and lethargic. I don’t want to lose my motivation to leave home because nothing fits or flatters me. While my weight is important – to be in a healthy range and at my best I need to lose almost 10kg (ouch it hurts to admit it publicly) – I do not want to focus just on what I’ll look like. It’s all about health. I’ll always celebrate special events with food and family. I don’t mind indulging in a little fast food treat on a Friday. I just want my good food deeds to outnumber my not so good food decisions by a million percent. I am not a mathematician, but you know what I mean.

So today, for the first time in almost a week, I feel normal. I had a healthy little pita pizza with avocado and an egg on it last night (YUM) instead of something heavy. A big side salad of spinach and tomato. And I feel NORMAL. I feel OK! My tummy doesn’t feel like it’s bursting at the seams. I have a little energy. My mood is better. If that’s what ONE meal can do, then imagine my whole lifestyle being better. IMAGINE!

I have always struggled with food and (since the Little Mister) exercise. I’ve always used food as a reward or a comfort. I’ll be the first to admit that once we got back from Korea and Japan, I really let myself go! It’s time to take charge yet again.

I can’t make excuses…oh, if my life was different, I’d go to the gym ALL the time or I’d have a treadmill at home which would solve all my problems and because I don’t have a treadmill that’s a legitimate reason I’m not doing better for myself. I can’t say that it’s because of this or because of that. It’s all up to me and while there will be challenges along the way (sometimes it truly is hard to exercise the way I’d like or to find the energy to try new healthier recipes), I have no reason I can’t still TRY.

I know my mental health is so much better when I exercise and eat food that is good for me. That’s enough motivation above all else. I’ve got to stop putting myself so far down the list. I give the Little Mister all the healthy things I can, I keep him active. I would go to the moon and back to make sure he’s happy and thriving.

I need to tell someone I need time to go clothes shopping, so I can feel good when I walk out of the house (I have been wearing the one worn out dress over and over and over lately – it’s that or hoodies with jeans). I need to take time to exercise, even when I don’t feel like it. I need to eat healthier, even when the Little Mister isn’t with me (my worst overindulgent moments).

I accept that my body has changed and that it will never look like it did (or bounce back like it did) before I had the Little Mister, but I can work with what I’ve got and look after it. Working towards a far away weight goal is just overwhelming, so I’m going to work on feeling good every day. Making choices that make me feel healthier each day. It’s a start.

My bikini body may not be ready for summer (or ever), but I can make sure I’m in good shape (fitness and health wise) and living a full life. I’m lucky to have all that I have and I don’t want to waste it.

So, help me out. What’s your favourite healthy recipe? Something that makes you feel satisfied without that deprived feeling? Do you find yourself in a similar place to me? Have you been here before? Any tips on getting back into it? x

Words are the new sticks and stones.

Everyone’s heard that saying:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

I’m sure the expression was created with the best of intentions many years ago, with the message that it’s important to be resilient and have a tougher skin when people say mean things (which is fair enough on some levels and that’s for a whole other blog post), but in all reality, words are so important and shouldn’t be given less significance than physical hurts. It is our responsibility to use our words wisely. I know that as the Little Mister grows up, that is one very important thing (of many) that I want him to know.

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While we’re always drilling home the important idea that we must be strong and choose the way we react to a challenging situation or person, we need to remember that we also need to be considerate of what words we put out into the world for others to react to. Should we be hurting them in the first place? Of course not. Will everyone in the world be nice to us and use kind words? Of course not. But should we try to do/be better than that? F*ck yeah.

Even though, we are supposed to all be ‘tough’ and ‘strong’, some of the worst hurts we look back on in our lives can be very emotional or involve something horrible someone has said that has made you feel a certain way. While in my mind, physical violence is abhorrent and should never ever be tolerated, we need to also remember to never use our words violently – even in the heat of the moment.

Words can constitute emotional violence and abuse. Yes. It’s a thing. A very real, awful, damaging thing. People don’t realise it, but physical violence is actually a tool that abusers use to reinforce their verbal and psychological bullying. It can make or break a person’s self esteem, whether it is a child or a partner. You can only put a person down or use controlling language and threats for so long before they start to believe what you are saying, too afraid to escape a situation. According to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), one in four women report to having experienced emotional abuse, and one in seven men. We need to teach our children not only to not accept this behaviour from others, but also to never be the perpetrators. It starts now. While they’re young. We need to teach them that words matter.

“Whatever. It’s just words. It’s not like I hit anyone…” should never be uttered as an excuse. Ever.

Personally, my worst memories involve the words that people have used. They are the hardest to shake. Sometimes people don’t mean to use their words hurtfully, but can be careless. Once something is said, it cannot be completely unsaid. We need to think before we speak (or type). Especially in this modern age of social media and internet anonymity. Of trolling and cyber bullying.

Think words aren’t that powerful? That words should just be ignored? That people should just ‘get over it’? Maybe consider these things:

Words can make or break a politician’s career. How many times have we judged them on what they’ve said and whether they’ve meant it or not? How many times have we seen a pollie crash and burn because they’ve said something completely intolerable or ridiculous (I can think of several very recent examples)? Or remembered the politicians who said such powerful things that they are forever immortalised by their inspiring speeches?

Without words, blogs (and bloggers like myself) would not exist (nor would lively debates in the comments sections). Books wouldn’t be so powerful. When’s the last time you read a book and thought, ‘Wow. That was so amazing that I couldn’t put it down. That writer really brought the story to life. I shall never read another book again because no book could ever be as good as the book I just read!’
Unless it was a picture book…I’m pretty sure the words mattered the most. With the exception of 50 Shades of Grey of course – I’ve heard it’s terribly written, but somehow it’s sold about a bajillion copies. Still, it consists of words. Words that make people feel things *shudders*.

Same goes for the scripts of TV shows or movies. We fall in love with, or loathe, characters because of the words they use. The way they speak. The stories they tell. We quote them and they become iconic. Sure, there are a lot of things we can like about movies without even hearing the dialogue (hello Channing Tatum!), but it’s the things characters say that tell us the most about them (um…every word ever in The Notebook)!

Without words, we wouldn’t be sucked into clicking everything on the internet ever. Have you ever heard of click bait? Those few words designed to lure you into clicking a link to a blog about something that’s ‘sure to go viral’? You know the type. If it wasn’t for those ‘You’ll never believe what happened next…” thingies, you wouldn’t waste hours of your life in a rabbit hole of crazy internet stories that may or may not be true.

*ahem* not talking about myself here of course *cough cough*

Words are how we sell something. Sure, people would argue that sex sells, but work with me here. If you walk into a store, who is going to convince you to buy that thing? The person who mumbles, accidentally offends you, doesn’t know what they’re talking about and sounds like they’re lying? Or the person who is confident, well spoken, whose words seem honest and genuine? Communication skills are important.

If we’re worried about a loved one, perhaps they’ve gained a little weight or we’re worried about some of their habits, do our words matter then? Um, hell yes. What do you think makes things better?

“Honey, you’re so fat now. Go to the gym. You’re hurting my eyes.”

or…”Honey, I’ve noticed you are not feeling like yourself lately and you’ve lost a bit of confidence because you seem self conscious about your weight. Is there anything I can do to help? Wanna work out together?”

I know what I’d rather hear!! Even for selfish reasons, we need to consider what our words can do. If the result we want is for someone to do something for us, will insults and put downs really work or will kindness and sensitivity get us the results? The way we speak to someone we care about truly matters. It can definitely make or break a relationship. Tact can go a long way.

Why do people go to therapy? Because talking is important.

I can only imagine how many family feuds began because somebody said something that hurt somebody else. Hello, Dr Phil would be out of business if that wasn’t the case!

If words were not a thing, we wouldn’t be able to sue each other for saying nasty, untrue things about each other in the public eye. If words are not that important, we wouldn’t be outraged when somebody writes offensive things on picket signs at funerals or abortion clinics.

We can’t just stand there, quoting our ‘sticks and stones’ crap while living a life that says we do actually really really care what people say. It would be hypocritical. Language and words exist for a reason.

We care if someone is telling us the truth or lying. We care about those text messages that come without emoji to tell us whether it’s a nice one or a mean one (and we won’t admit that we sometimes lose sleep over it). We care about the passive aggressive tactics someone uses to make us feel bad about ourselves (have you ever seen the mother in law on Everybody Loves Raymond?). Entire social movements and campaigns have been created, based on some careless words somebody has said somewhere in the world. For better or worse.

I want my Little Mister to know that words matter. That he can be strong when somebody uses them badly, but that he shouldn’t tolerate it either. I want him to know that if he speaks ill of somebody it will come back to bite him. I want him to know that he can enrich his relationships by using his words lovingly. That if he speaks out of line, he should be quick to mend it with an apology and a heartfelt, “I’m sorry, what I meant to say was…”

That what he writes on the internet can stay there forever.

I want him to be clever. Not to resort to physical blows over some horrible words that have been thrown around. It’s not enough to tell boys and young men to just punch someone to fix a problem. Even if the other person is in the wrong.

Words are used to convey our emotions. To clarify something. To present ourselves in resumes and job interviews. To tell people who we are. To show we care.

I want to use my words to encourage, inspire and uplift my child. I don’t ever want to squash his spirit or hurt his confidence. My words will matter too. There is a best way to use your voice or to say anything important that you feel (even if it’s a touchy subject or it’s not what someone wants to hear). I hope I can lead by example and that person by person, we might make a difference in this world where people seem to have forgotten that words have so much power.

Let’s think before we add more meaningless noise to the world (and even the internet)! Who’s in? x

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‘Twas the weeks before Christmas and everyone was stressed…

I found this in my ‘drafts’ folder. I wrote this last December (2012) in the lead up to Christmas. I don’t know why I didn’t press ‘publish’. I think my main message still applies – let’s all make this year’s festive season as happy as it can be and remember what’s really important xx

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Christmas.

I sometimes feel like I’m the only person wandering about just moderately stressed (as opposed to extremely). Am I doing it wrong? I still have a crapload of shopping to do, and while I do worry about whether I’ll get it done in time, I’m fairly confident I can. Maybe it’s the last few years that have helped take the edge off. Five years ago, my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Thailand until the 20th December, so the pressure was off – we just scrambled about when we got home and nothing bad happened! Last year the Little Mister was not much more than a newborn so we ordered a bunch of brag books online for all the grandparents and great grandparents, and no-one expected us to give anything, so anything above and beyond their expectations made us feel like superhumans (we managed to do pretty well considering).

Yesterday, I hit the shops early. I was in a clothing store with the Little Mister strapped into his pram. He’s a sociable little man and he tried to ‘speak’ to a lady who had her back turned. It was just cute babble (so nothing shocking or screamy). The lady jumped a mile. She whizzed around and looked so relieved that it was just a little kid. She said he scared the living daylights out of her and held her hand over her heart, saying it was still beating really fast from her scare. The Little Mister sensed her fear and began to cry (after being so happy and friendly a moment earlier).

Later, I was manouvering my way into a car park. It was a very busy time of day, but there were spots opening up everywhere and I was blessed when a great one (in just the right position) became free. I pulled in, but because of other drivers consistently moving past in the opposite direction (off-putting), my angle was a little off. I decided to put my reverse lights on and adjust my angle ever so slightly so as to make sure there was ample space for both cars that were next to mine. I slowly but surely (and vigilantly) inched backwards (we really are talking inches – it was all I needed) and in the space of 30 seconds two drivers (who had been several metres away at the time) kept beeping their horns at me. They were so sure I was about to hit the lot of them. Their defences were well and truly up.

Everybody is so on edge that the smallest things are spooking them. I just wish I could hug everyone (well the ones who won’t bite) and say that it’s OK to feel the way you feel (who knows what each person’s life story is), but it’s also OK to just slow down. Chill out. Remember what Christmas is all about. Wish the exhausted shop assistant a Merry Christmas. Wish your tired customers a Merry Christmas. Have a laugh when you come face to face with a pram or a shopping trolley in a squeezy store (rather than giving a huffy puffy look of anger). Treat others how you would like to be treated. Tell your family you love them and accept them for who they are. Don’t make mountains out of molehills.The good tidings you receive back will make you feel so much better about the tough things you might be dealing with at the time. You might be having a tough day/month/year but be careful. The innocent person who you might be glaring at or abusing might be having it tough too (they may just have a better attitude about it). Be nice in car parks – I’m talking to you, That Guy Who Flips the Bird at People Who Aren’t Doing Anything Wrong.

Stop jumping at every little thing. Breathe! Take a break when it starts to feel suffocating. Fresh air is good. Step out for a bit! Plan your day out carefully (but take it easy when those plans don’t work out so well). When in doubt, give to others (whether it’s simply kindness or a special good deed). It will make everybody involved feel good.