Family, joy, Love

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I used to hate cooking, absolutely, positively HATED it!

I was not good at cooking, I used to burn everything, I could never get the flavours right and in my earlier relationships I was expected to cook, clean and act like a servant. I despised everything about that life, especially the cooking and cleaning. It was also rather challenging to make anything delicious or healthy when you had no money and no ingredients. There is only so much you can do with a packet of 2 minute noodles, some cheese and a bottle of sauce. I could not find anything therapeutic, enjoyable or wonderful about the process of cooking.

I never saw the value or found any joy in cooking for others nor for myself, sure I would often cook meals and deliver them to people who were sick or out of action or whatever but I really struggled to cook well for my family. I just cooked for the sake of cooking.  I really think a huge part of it was due to the relationship(s) I was in because I despised the way I was treated and that it was demanded I have a meal on the plate at the same time every evening, or else! It was nothing more than a daily, laborious chore that needed to be done. Of course as my illness progressed and I was more and more incapable of cooking, my children stepped up to the plate and cooked for us instead. I used to watch them in complete awe at how much they both enjoyed cooking. They attended classes and entered into competitions and my eldest even won the local Junior Master Chef Competition. I just didn’t understand why they loved it so much. I know now that they were cooking out of pure, innocent love. They saw their beloved Mum so sick and incapable of doing much of anything, so they poured their hearts out through cooking. My children have taught me so very much about love and life and of course cooking.

Now that my health is constantly improving, I am in a loving, healthy relationship with a beautiful man, I often sit back and ask myself how I can support him each day when he goes off to work and does his share of contributing to the relationship. One of the things I can do to support him is cook us both healthy, nutritious and delicious meals and that is what I try to do. I actually caught myself enjoying cooking recently and the fact that he comments on my cooking, EVERY single time, praises me, thanks me and always goes back for more, it really makes a difference. To feel appreciated and valued is such a huge act of love, even when as simple as “That was delicious Honey, Thank You!” I want to cook for him. I never thought I would say that, or experience it. I could never understand why people would willingly WANT to cook, clean, wash etc for their partner. I didn’t get it. I honestly felt as though they were being treated like slaves, that I had been treated like a slave previously, that there was this stupid, sexist stereotype about women belonging in the kitchen, but now I get it. Now I understand why people do whatever they can to support and love the significant other in their lives.

Now we have gotten that out-of-the-way, let’s move towards this recipe, which is currently one of my family’s favourites.

I learned the basics of this recipe when I attended a series of classes recently where we were taught some really great tips like how to make our food go further, how to prepare and store foods, making healthier meal choices, reducing waste and much more. I was actually fascinated in these simple, helpful tips and learning new techniques and recipes along the way. Gee, I’m turning into a regular Martha Stewart.

I learned so many useful things throughout this course and some of them come to mind right now however, one that sticks out for me today is utilising vegetable scraps for stocks and broths. I keep a large freeze-able container and each time I use any carrot, celery, onion or garlic, I throw the scraps into the container. I keep the peel and ends of the carrot, the celery tops, leaves and base, the onion and garlic ends and throw them all into the freezer.

FOR STOCK - this one was started last night, parsley stems, caoort ends and peel, parsnip ends and peel, onion ends and a layer or two and the garlic ends.

I just keep adding these things to this container until I have enough to make a vegetable or beef bone broth.

Vegetarians and vegans PLEASE avert your eyes.

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Last veggie scraps I saved were turned into a beef and veg stock. You can see beef bones, veggie scraps and a whole bulb of garlic in there.

 

I have embellished this recipe a little to suit my family’s tastes and whenever I serve this meal, I always receive rave reviews.

There are a couple of downsides to this recipe however, 1. It is VERY time-consuming, especially the prep involved but I am a VERY slow and meticulous cook too and 2. You will not be able to stop enjoying the delicious flavours that roll over your tongue, going back for more until you feel as though you are going to pop.

To cut down a little on prep time, I use wonton wrappers instead of making my own pasta at the moment. I am hoping to spend a day soon where I am able to do a whole heap of meal prep, including pasta so it can be frozen or dried for later.

shopping
Wonton Skins I use
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Gow Gee Pastry I also use

When I make these ravioli now, I will make up a huge batch so I can freeze some for later. As my daughter and I were given some fresh spinach yesterday, I decided it was a great time to utilise this recipe once again.

Now, I am going to find this a little challenging as I don’t often measure portions, so whenever I am asked for a recipe, I cringe because my measured portions sizes are “a bit of this, a splash of that, about that much of that!”

Last night, I used the following portions, 3 large bunches of spinach which I remove the stems and spines from and finely sliced the green parts of the spinach. (The spines are usually sliced up finely as well and fed to the worms in the worm farm). I use my large electric frying pan, pour in some garlic infused olive oil, about a dessertspoonful and put all of the spinach on top to sweat. I usually find I need to put some water in to help the process. Last night we ended up putting in 2 cups of water at a time until it had all evaporated and then added more water as needed until the spinach had wilted and cooked. Once cooked and thoroughly wilted, cool your spinach.

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Chopped, fresh spinach

Into a large mixing bowl, I placed an entire 1kg of La Casa Del Formaggio Traditional Ricotta Cheese and finely grated an entire block of parmesan cheese. No particular reason that I use this brand of ricotta except that it is the largest and most affordable quantity I can easily obtain and it cooks well and tastes good.  Last night we used 250gm Mil Lel Parmesan Cheese and only this brand this time because it was on special at about 40% off. Then add your cooled spinach and mix well. This is also the time to season well with salt and pepper. Once you have mixed all ingredients well, do a taste test to ensure the seasonings are right for your liking. Cover and set aside.

With your wonton or gow gee wrappers, lay some out on the bench and place a small amount of your ricotta and spinach in the centre. I probably have a bit too much in these shown below. I would aim for about a teaspoon full.

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Place about a teaspoon of filling on to your wrapper

With the amounts we cooked up last night, we used just under 4 x wonton and gow gee wrappers which totalled 160 tortellini.

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Once you have placed you filling on your wrappers, wet 2 x adjoining sides, fold the wrapper in half and seal well, ensuring you squeeze out any pockets of air from inside the wrapper including around the filling. Air pockets will expand in the boiling water when you cook them and will in turn blow the side of the wonton wrapper out and you will loose all of your filling. You can then turn the triangles into gold ingots as below as taught to me by my beautiful Chinese friend, Angel.

Here is a link to a YouTube tutorial on how to fold wonton ingots

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I fold the gow gee wrappers in the same way.

As I am folding the wrappers into tortellini, I place them onto a tray that will fit into my freezer and freeze some as I go. Once I have a tray full, I place them in the freezer to freeze until I fill another tray. By the time the next tray is filled, the current tray in the freezer is frozen. I remove the frozen tortellini from the tray and place them into freezer bags to return to the freezer to preserve for future meals.

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On a tray in the freezer

When you are ready to cook your tortellini, you will need a large pot of water to bring to the boil with a generous pinch of salt. Once the water has come to the boil, leave it to boil vigorously and drop in your tortellini, reduce heat to simmer so you can see when they are cooked. Remove them with a slotted spoon when they rise to the surface and bob on the top.

Now to make the tomato sauce, you want to get about 5 or 6 cloves of garlic and crush or mince to form a paste. Add a little salt to help with the crushing, I usually just use the back of my kitchen knife on the chopping board to mince my garlic, dragging it and squashing the garlic across the board. alternatively, you can also finely chop or even slice your garlic.

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These tomatoes in the above photograph do NOT have their skins removed, after making this the first time, I decided it was much more delicious to remove the skins.

I used 6 packets of 200gm tomato medley punnets and cut small crosses in the bottoms of each tomato. I bought a large pot of water to the boil and had a large bowl of ice water sitting on the bench beside the stove. Once I had crossed all of the tomatoes, I dropped them all into the boiling water, turned the heat off and within about 60 seconds, scooped all of the tomatoes out and dropped them into the ice water. Then it is time to peel the skins off all of the tomatoes. It comes off very easily once they have been blanched like this.

Back to our large electric frying pan and again, add some garlic infused olive oil to a clean pan and your garlic cloves before adding your peeled, whole tomatoes. Add a very generous amount of fresh thyme as well and then add 2 cups of chicken stock, 2 cartons of thickened cream and a carton of double cream. Reduce the sauce until it thickens.

Once your sauce has thickened, you can plate it up. Place some of your tortellini in a bowl and top with tomato sauce. You can sprinkle some grated parmesan, thyme and parsley on top if you wish or just eat it as we do.

Recipe by Rochelle 

Decadent Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato Cream Sauce

Prep time: Approx 3 hrs

Cook time: Approx 30 mins

Total time: 3hrs 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Infused Olive Oil
  • 1.5kg (or 3 bunches) Fresh Spinach (Stems Removed) & Finely Sliced
  • 500gm Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 kg Ricotta Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Infused Olive Oil Additional
  • 5 Cloves Garlic
  • 6 x 200gm Punnets Tiny Tomato Medley
  • 5 – 10 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 Cartons Thickened Cream
  • 1 Carton Double or Heavy Cream
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 Packets Wonton Wrappers

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large electric frying pan. Add the finely sliced spinach with stems removed. Add a cup of water if necessary to help the spinach wilt and cover, approx. 15 minutes. Turn spinach regularly to ensure it wilts evenly.
  2. Continue to cook the spinach with the lid removed now to evaporate all liquid. About 5 – 10 minutes, ensuring the spinach doesn’t burn or dry out.
  3. Once spinach is cooked and wilted, removed from heat and cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, 500gms finely grated parmesan, cooled spinach and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients until well combined. Taste the mixture to ensure the seasoning is correct.
  5. Lay out wonton wrappers on your chopping board and place a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture in the centre of each wrapper. Wet 2 adjoining sides of the wrapper, fold wrapper in half forming a triangle, and press sides together to seal, ensuring you remove all air from the wrapper. Fold points of wonton wrapper into the centre and press together forming a golden ingot shape.
  6. Once you have made enough tortellini with your wonton wrappers, drop them into a pot of salted, boiling water. Reduce the heat of the water to simmering so you can watch the tortellini float to the surface when they cooked. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and serve into serving bowls.
  7. With the large amounts I have used in this recipe, I was able to freeze excess tortellini for future meals to cut down on prep time. As tortellini were being wrapped, I placed them onto a tray that would fit in my freezer and froze a tray at a time, while continuing to wrap tortellini. Once the next tray was ready to freeze, the first tray was frozen. I then store them in the freezer in portion sized bags.
  8. Get all of your small, coloured tomatoes and cut small crosses in the bases. Once you have cut small crosses in your tomatoes, drop them into a large pot of boiling salted water. Turn heat off and within about 60 seconds, use a slotted spoon to scoop tomatoes out of the water and drop them into the bowl of ice water you have beside the stove. Peel the skins from the tomatoes and discard the skins.
  9. Heat olive oil in electric frying pan once again over a medium heat. add garlic and peeled tomatoes. Cook covered for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
  10. Add stock and thyme to the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Cook uncovered until about half of the liquid evaporates. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  11. Add cream and double cream to the tomato mixture, return to a low heat and mix well to combine.
  12. Add seasoning to taste and serve over tortellini.
  13. You can sprinkle some grated parmesan, thyme and parsley over the top if you wish.

I have done some experimenting with freezing and preserving both the tortellini and the sauce.

As I mentioned earlier, I froze the tortellini on trays initially then packaged into bags. I have worked out for our family, 6 x tortellini each person is a rather generous serve so I have made individual serves of 6 per packet for freezing.

As for the tomato sauce, I have discovered that 3 x Tablespoons into a plastic bag and frozen flat, is more than enough per person.

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Sauce initially frozen flat then transferred to a container and stored upright in the freezer.

To cook the tortellini, bring a large pot of water to the boil, with a generous pinch of salt added. Once boiling vigorously, drop your frozen tortellini into the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep an eye on the tortellini and as soon as it raises to the surface and bobs on top, it is cooked. Drain.

For the sauce, place it in a saucepan while still frozen and warm over a gentle heat. Add a good Tablespoon of milk to your sauce while it is re-heating. Keep a close eye on this and warm it slowly so it does not burn. Ensure that your tomatoes are warmed through. If the sauce thickens too much, add another Tablespoon of milk.

As mentioned earlier, you can sprinkle some finely grated parmesan over and some freshly chopped parsley and/or thyme as well.

What is your family’s favourite meal or dish at the moment? Please feel welcome to share in the comments below.

Love and light.

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1000 People 1 Voice, Domestic Violence, Got Your Back Sista, Hunter Stadium, Say No, Sista Code

Knights Activation with GYBS

As most of you would know, I’m a proud supporter of the local charity Got Your Back Sista.

It’s that time again where we take the field at half time during the Knights game to make a stand against Domestic Violence.

I would LOVE it if my family and friends could join us this year to make a stand!

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Join us on the field at half-time at the NIB Newcastle Knights Home Game

in Round 19 to say NO to domestic violence, YES to ending the silence!

Game: Newcastle Knights vs Gold Coast Titans, Round 19

Where: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

When: Saturday 21st July 2018, 3pm

What: Half-time activation on the field to stand against domestic violence in our community.

How to join the activation: Make a $20 donation to Got Your Back Sista via this mycause website (link below) PLUS buy a ticket to the Newcastle Knights vs Titans Game to gain entry to the McDonald Jones Stadium (unless you are a Season Pass Holder).

* Use the Promo Code GYBS to get 10% off your Knights game day tickets.

joy

Fantastical Feathers Workshop

Last Thursday I attended a Fantastical Feathers Fineline drawing workshop with Val of Maude’s Madhouse.

I guess you may be wondering why I’m sharing this, well this is one of the tools in my toolbox that I find helpful in not only expanding my creativity but in helping me find peace, relaxation and confidence. It also helps me to push beyond my self imposed boundaries on occasion.

There are days when I don’t want to leave the comfort and safety of the house. Some days I convince myself that it’s all too hard, that it’s too overwhelming or too people-y. Sometimes I struggle with anxiety or social phobia but for me, having something like an art class to focus on, helps alleviate those fears.

I also focus on the experience of learning new techniques, of enjoying the atmosphere – I knew we would be enjoying a lovely, homey cafe with delicious home cooked meals right in the middle of the famous Hunter Valley Wine Country.

This was the stunning view of the vines as we drove in with the fog settling in the valley.

Would you believe it, I even managed to meet some new people and make some new friends.

I can never tire of gazing over the fields of vines, especially in the crisp morning with fog settling in the distance

The workshop was held at Taste of Country Cafe in Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin, Hunter Valley.

Here is the beginning of my feather. Being the perfectionist I am, I sketched my initial shape about 18 times 😐

Val taught us some drawing techniques, How to use our fineliners proficiently and how to draw in our basic feather shape.

I started with a 0.8mm nib, moved to a 0.1 but quickly settled on a 0.5mm

It was then time to start filling in the feather.

As you can see, I thought I’d try something a little different and added some gold and some pearls.

I’m still not sure about the pearls but I’m happy with the gold

I had a wonderful day in the class, learnt heaps – always and loved spending time with my friend again.

All in all I was happy with my feather and will even do some more.

And all of the walls, boundaries and fears I had created in my mind, were just that – in my mind. I had a fabulous day and thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.

Feelings, Growth, joy

Keep Your Inner Peace

Behaviour
Don’t let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace

This is something l seriously need to keep reminding myself today and throughout the last few weeks.

“It is a fact of life that we cannot control what other people do. We can’t make someone else act with integrity, or make someone else do the right thing, and we can’t make someone else be a good person. All we can really control in life is ourselves. When someone else does something bad or dishonest or unkind we can only control our reaction to it. And the way we conduct ourselves in tough times is the way we exhibit the person that we are.

Unfortunately we live in a world where there are people who will lash out at others in jealousy or greed or plain old meanness. And no matter how good a person you are, there will always be those who try to tear you down as best they can. But always remember that regardless of what anyone else does or says, we can always choose to take the high road – we can always choose to continue to act with integrity and kindness. And at the end of the day it is taking that high road that will bring us inner peace, even amongst the turmoil that others may try to create”. – excerpt written by Amy Rees Anderson at http://www.anyreesanderson.com

#amyreesanderson #amyanderson #dontletanyonedestroyyourinnerpeace #innerpeace #peace #souljoy #souljoypeace #joy #dalailama #dalailamaquotes #dalai #dailyreminder #keepremindingmyself #namaste #namasteॐ #integrity #dotherightthing #kindness #loveoneanother

joy

Stop For A Moment

When was the last time you stopped?

Tonight I was rushing to the supermarket to buy some stuff for dinner that I thought we already had. I didn’t want to get dinner on late and I didn’t want my family to have to wait so I felt the need to rush.

Suddenly as I crossed the bridge, I spotted this sunset. It was like the universe was telling me I needed to stop.

I pulled into the park and planned on just snapping a few shots out the car window.

No, l had to stop, get out, take the time to breathe in the sea air and appreciate this amazing sunset.
How long did it take me to stop? Honestly l didn’t look. Time didn’t matter in that moment. Surely it wouldn’t have taken more than ten minutes. Can you spare ten minutes out of your day to stop and appreciate the amazing light show that mother nature has to offer?

Stop for a moment.
Slow down
Breathe again.
#stop #slowdown #breatheagain #takeyourtime #appreciate #sunset #sunset_pics #lightshow #mothernature #whenwasthelasttime #lakemacquarie #lakemacquariensw #lakeview #thisislakemacquarie #thisisnewcastle #thisisnsw #thisisaustralia

Love

16 Ways to Implement Self-Love Today

16 Ways To Implement

Self-Love; what is your idea of self love?

Self-love has often been seen as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness.[1] The Merriam-Webster dictionary later describes self-love as “love of self” or “regard for one’s own happiness or advantage”. Synonyms of this concept are: amour propre, conceit, conceitedness, egotism, and many more. However, throughout the centuries this definition has adopted a more positive connotation through self-love protests, the Hippie era, the new age feminist movement as well as the increase in mental health awareness that promotes self-love. HERE

Do you feel self-love and filling your own cup to be a selfish action like I once did?

Do you feel that maybe you’ll be seen as being up yourself? (There you go, worrying about what others think of you again. What others think of you is none of your business and yes that is still something I need to remind myself on occasion).

Well guess what, you really should be #UpYourself!

You really do need to be self-loving to survive in today’s fast paced world and egotistical selfish society that can easily wear down those among us who are empathetic, caring and giving.

I used to be one who put everyone else first, especially my children and I simply couldn’t understand why I kept burning out, why l was always so exhausted, so emotional and totally spent.

I’ve recently learnt that we cannot possibly give or care for others if we have nothing in our own cup first.

Please allow me to try to explain…

To be able to love (and give, care for others), we must first full our own love cup to overflowing. Now before I move on to how you can fill your cup, you need to understand that it’s not as easy as just filling it. Imagine if you will, our love cup is Styrofoam (I know, not very environmentally friendly but bare with me). When life throws challenges at us, it’s the Styrofoam cup full of love (joy, compassion, empathy, happiness, kindness and more)  is being pierced with a biro or a knitting needle thus creating holes where the love can leak out. Of course, this means we will never truly fill our love cup to capacity and therefore will not reach overflow for us to be able to share and give with others. It’s that overflow on top of our own love cup that we need to be able to help, support and love others unconditionally to ensure we don’t burn ourselves out.

Don’t despair yet, there are ways you can patch your cup then go on to fill it to the point of overflowing. Patching and filling are very similar strategies and must be implemented daily, to minimise the chance of having your Styrofoam cup pieced again.

How do I patch my cup I hear you ask;

I will begin with a few practical acts of self-love then progress onto some more psychological tips. Practicing at least one act of self – love each day is highly beneficial. Also learning to not allow others to hurt, control and manipulate you is a great way of patching.

I would even recommend a morning ritual of meditation/yoga and some gratefulness and to set your intention for the day.

  1. Draw A Bath – when was the last time you had a bath? I drew a bath the other night, added some magnesium salts from my dear friend Bec and a few drops of lavender essential oil, a few candles and Tash Sultana playing in the background. It must be twenty – odd years since I’ve last soaked my troubles away in a bath. Incredibly relaxing and energizing, I just slid down into that tub and melted into that hot bath so effortlessly. All of my aches, pains and worries were left behind in that bath tub and washed down the drain when I pulled the plug.  All I needed was a glass of wine and it would have been perfect. What are you waiting for, draw yourself a bath, lock the door and soak your troubles away.

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    I can’t even remember the last time I had a bath before this incident two days ago, It must have been more than 20 years ago if I think about it.
  2. Go for a walk – some of you walk daily but do you walk for yourself, for your enjoyment or do you walk with a purpose? Try slowing down, remove the earphones and take in the environment around you. What can you see? What can you hear? See the beauty in every ordinary daily thing before your eyes that you may not ordinarily see or appreciate. If you don’t walk often, get out there! Start walking. A daily walk will do you the world of good. Again, what do you see, what do you hear, smell, feel? Absorb yourself in the moment.

3. Meditate – begin or even end your day with some mindful meditation. Of course you are welcome to stop and meditate at any time throughout the day. There are plenty of mindfulness apps or guided mindfulness and meditation out there, you could try these which are some of my favourites: The Mindfulness Clinic, F*ck That Meditation, These Meditations from Madame Flavour and Smiling Minds are great too.20161109_1300514. Gratefulness – start a gratefulness journal. Each morning when you wake, grab your little journal and write 1 – 3 things a day that you are grateful for. This will help set you up for a wonderfully thankful day ahead. what better way to start implementing self-love. (I will write more about how to journal in a further post so keep an eye out for that one)

5. Enjoy Breakfast – Take yourself out for breakfast or coffee. Just you. (Of course it is great to meet up with a fried or friends but try going it alone) Take time out to be alone with your own “positive” thoughts. I like to find a cosy little organic café and order a nourishing, healthy, organic plate or bowl of soul food. Sometimes I even take my gratefulness journal or my colouring or  I might even sit down and write my next post. You could even sit there whilst you are nourishing your body and think of all the things you are grateful for in your life. 6. Stay Up Late – if you never get time to yourself, try staying up a little later one night after everyone has gone to bed and immerse yourself in some adult colouring or some knitting, crochet, reading, writing while you sit in bed. I’m incredibly lucky that my partner tolerates me sitting in bed next to him each evening, well most evenings while I colour, write or knit. Of course if you’re on your own, how lucky are you to be able sit in bed and not disturb upset someone else!7. Puddle Jump – That’s right, puddle jump! When was the last time you ran through the puddles after the rain. Seriously, either whack on a pair of gum boots – or not and walk, run and jump in the puddles, run through the rain, get wet, have fun. Allow yourself permission to enjoy the moment. You might be surprised just how much you enjoy it.

8. Get up early  – and watch the sunrise. Where l live they are exceptionally spectacular in the winter months especially. Get out there, enjoy the crisp, cool air. Absorb the environment, what can you hear, any birds, animals, maybe machinery. What can you see, how do the shadows move as the light from the sun dances across the earth to meet your toes.

Sunset on Lake Macquarie
This photo was taken within walking distance from my current home. The lake is always so beautiful. How could this not fill your cup?

9. Go for a hike – go for a good old walk preferably into. nature if you can. There are so many incredibly beautiful locations around this globe and many right in our backyard. Even if you can’t get out of the city, take a walk anyway. I love exploring large cities and small towns as equally as much as I do exploring and hiking through the bush. Although the bush garners greater attention and participation from me I must admit. I guess what I’m trying to say is if you’re in the city, take the time to explore hidden places you’ve not been, find a public garden or gallery, enjoy a café, see what beautiful gardens or street frontages you can see and appreciate the architecture surrounding you. There is always something to enjoy and explore. Take yourself out on a bush hike, a beach hike a mountain hike, a suburburban hike or even an inner city hike. Just try to enjoy the experience.

Hiking
My Son looking out over the expansive and impressive valley below (that you can’t see in this image). We had been climbing in search of a hidden waterfall when we reached this location. Waterfall still not discovered.

10. Volunteer – Have you ever thought of volunteering and giving to others as a means of improving your health. Volunteering has so many great benefits not only for yourself but for the individuals you may help or touch and of course the wider community. Volunteering is great because you can truly make a difference, you may learn new skills, you can give back to the community or a cause you believe in. you will gain a whole new perspective, you will become inspired and you may even change someone’s life – for the better.  Don’t forget however that you still need to have your love cup full and overflowing before you give to others. Don’t get caught in the cycle that I once did where I was placing my role as a volunteer above my own health.

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Another hot day on the fire ground yesterday executing a hazard reduction burn.

11. Wear You – what do I mean by “Wear You” wear clothing and accessories that you love, that you’re comfortable in and that make you feel great. Forget about the latest fashion trends. When I finally reached a place where I didn’t give a shit about what other people thought when it came to my clothing, I felt an immense sense of freedom as if a weight had lifted. I primarily choose clothing that I love for one reason or another, I wear a lot of bright colours and I tend to hand embellish my clothing by hand when it is appropriate to do so which is all a far cry from the black and denim I only ever wore. I sometimes accessorise with jewels that I love and scarves, hats, shoes etc., just because I can. I used to try awfully hard to co-ordinate my clothing, my shoes, glasses, hats, walking sticks etc. so they all matched, which became stressful for me but now I just wear what I love and I receive more compliments than ever before. This in turns tends to help you feel good about yourself which of course adds a little to that self -love cup. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing the latest trends and co-coordinating all of your accessories, more power to you if that’s how you roll. I say go for it! Oh and I no longer dye my hair. I used to have my hair coloured every 3 – 4 weeks to hide the greys but after my hair all fell out I remembered what my grandmother once told me (I started going grey at 25) She told me that I should wear my grey hair with pride because I have earned it! Now I think back to all I have come through and think “damn right I have earned it” I now wear my grey hair as a badge of honour and still “wear Me” Occasionally I will run a brightly coloured rinse through my hair to change things up a bit but it washes out after a few washes and doesn’t damage my hair. I love how it is absorbed so well by the grey and I can still express  my individuality.

Grey Hair
Wear You! Grey hair, don’t care but it’s OK to run a rinse through on occasion.

 

12. Short Course – Why not enrol in a short course? An art class, cooking or baking, floristry, jewellery making, dyeing or something else that may be of interest to you. I recently enrolled in an eco dyeing class that ran for a few hours on the weekend. I have also enrolled in an upcoming Fineliner Art Class with a girlfriend where we will also enjoy lunch of fresh local produce including cheese and wine of course in the beautiful Hunter Valley. Naturally being the creative that I am, I have enrolled in many short courses  in the past. Another more recent one was machine embellished applique. So much fun and stepping way our of my comfort zone as I have normally specialised in hand embroidery in the past.

Furlicity Feline
Obviously unfinished but here is Furlicity the Feline as taught to me by Sew Quirky. One of my most recent short courses or classes.

13. Put Boundaries In Place – this can be a very challenging one. I was so out of practice and to be honest didn’t really have much of an idea what boundaries were. That is until someone tried to teach me. Now I find I am helping others recognise what healthy boundaries are and putting them into place. One very big thing with boundaries, when you begin to implement them, the people who you are putting boundaries in place with will not like it. The would have not previously been unaccustomed to you implementing healthy boundaries with them so you can almost be guaranteed that they will protest, they will push harder and they will really challenge you – this is where you need to stand your ground and be consistent with your boundaries whilst still being gentle and soft. It is simply because these people are not used to you putting boundaries around them. They will eventually get used to it and most people will learn to respect your boundaries. Learn that saying no is OK and to set boundaries around work, love or activities that drain and deplete you.

14. Become Mindful and Self-Aware – people who become mindful and self aware of their feelings, thoughts and actions tend to be more open and able to practice self-love. By becoming mindful and accepting of who you truly are and acting upon that rather than acting or reacting to what others want for you. When you begin to recognise where and how your thoughts and emotions are leading you, you will then be able to start making any necessary positive changes of growth to enrich your life and your future.

15. Protect yourself – it is time to end all toxic relationships in your life. whether it is a loved one, a partner, family or friends who take pleasure in causing you pain, heartache, grief or discomfort. If they leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed or simply drained any time you have contact with them. These people who are unfaithful, or who bail on you or who are just not there when you need them. People in your life who are jealous or angry or just plain mean to you, none of these are relationships you need or really want in your life. Do not continue to waste your time or your life, trying to mend or maintain relationships that are toxic or negative. Love yourself enough to stand up and declare that you deserve more.

16. Find Your Tribe – look for people and friends who make you not only feel good but give as much to your relationship as you do to them. Look for people who build you up and encourage and support you – spend more time with these people. People who will not abandon you when things get tough. Find your tribe, your fit, your support, your friends and travel this thing we call life together supporting and encouraging one another.

PLEASE feel welcome to add your positive thoughts on this post in the comments section below.

Love and Light to you all X

 

Adventure, Couple, Flora & Fauna, joy, Love, Motivation, Plants

Feeding Our Souls

Yesterday afternoon my gorgeous partner decided we should embark on a soul feeding and regenerating overnight camping trip. We also decided we should invite my son to join us. He took his new swag and we hitched our camper to the car.

Although it took us over an hour to decide where to go, our only requirement was to be able to have a campfire.

What a stunning view to wake up to

We drove to a local campground that took us less than 30 minutes to get to. Arrived in the dark, set up, lit our fire, cooked dinner and had no real idea of our environment. Very different to what we usually do and drive a few hours to our preferred destination. We decided to push outside our comfort zones this time.

These stunning images are what we woke to this morning…

I love grass trees
Isn’t he just beautiful – I love him to bits
Of course he insisted I reciprocate – I wouldn’t have it any other way
Loving life with my Tall, Dark and Handsome Soul Mate.
It’s the small details that make a difference.
Log Arch

How cool is this log arch?

Used by loggers to raise the butt (large) end of a log above the ground to prevent its fouling info the earth when being towed behind a tractor.

This log arch was build by Eric Turner of Turner’s Sawmiils, Cessnock, circa 1940 using the solid rubber tyred wheels which had been used as a log hauler on this mountain. The truck had previously been used in the construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Turner Family was involved in logging much of the Watagans, creating many of the forest roads still in use today. The Watagans are now regrowth forests, well used by the community for recreation.

Taken from the sign on the Log Arch.

Look how worn this steel rung is from the cable that ran over it.

After we packed up and left the camp site, we headed to our local Fire Brigade where we are all members to participate in some training.

Today was ORD refresher training up Archery Rd.
Back at the station, I spied these toads, complete with possum bite marks. Thought they were interesting and pretty cool as well.
After training, we all decided the station need some maintenance. We mowed, trimmed, swept, washed and helped make the station look great again.

All in all, a great, rewarding, educational day full of Soul Feeding.

We hope your day and your weekend was equally as rewarding.

Please feel very welcome and encouraged to share what feeds your soul on the comments below.

Love and light to you all.

Family, Separation

Parenting After Separation

I received the proverbial slap in the face, not once but twice within 24 hours in late March 2015. I read a post that a dear friend shared on Facebook. It hit me for a six. It was a letter (for want of better word) written by an 18 year old man to his father. It shook me to the core. Despite believing that I’ve done the best by my children, this letter showed me how poorly I’ve handled the subject of my children’s father. This letter has set in motion some enormous changes to my life and my thought process and as a result the last 3 years have seen an enormous shift in my relationship with my children. A much more positive, closer and trusting relationship than we have ever had.

In all honestly, I really do wish I had read this letter when my children`s father and I parted ways. Maybe it is a good thing that I didn`t maybe I just wasn`t in the right headspace then and wouldn`t have received the full impact of this letter.

I am incredibly thankful that one very important thing my Grandmother told me at the time was to never, ever speak poorly of my children’s father to my children or within earshot of my children. There were times when this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. He was an awfully vicious and mean character at times and would throw around poisonous, cruel statements and there would be incredibly nasty actions as well that would cut to the core. Of course it could be OK to vent and talk about him to a trusted friend, but never around your children.

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You can read the letter below;

Dear Dad,
I haven’t heard from you since my 18th birthday a few months ago when I was finally able to make my own decisions and chose not to follow the possession schedule for the remainder of high school. At the time, I told you I still wanted to have frequent dinners and get together often but I was no longer going back and forth between households.

You accused me of letting “mom get to me.” The truth is, mom encouraged me to continue the routine and invest in my relationship with you. It was just the most recent of a lifetime of examples.
One time when you noticed a mannerism of mine that reminded you of mom, I heard you tell my stepmom that it made you insane. When I told you something fun I did with mom, you rolled your eyes. When I was excited about an upcoming event with mom, you told me you were disappointed because you wanted to be the one to do that with me. Sometimes you told me you’d plan something similar only bigger and better. When I asked you for something I wanted, you said I could ask mom because you gave her a child support check that would cover it. When I asked to sleep over at a friend’s house you told me not on “your weekend.” When you gave me a gift you told me to leave it at your house. When I wanted to call mom from your house you would hover near me, listening, and then ask a bunch of questions about what she said. When I was rebellious you asked me why I was acting like my mother. When I argued, you said I was being manipulated by my mom.
One time mom saw me make a face that reminded her of you and she smiled. She told my stepdad fondly, in front of me, that my father does that too. When I told her something fun I did with you, she told me how cool it sounded. When I was excited about an upcoming event with you, mom was really happy for me. She told me how lucky I was and helped me count down the days. When I asked her for something I wanted and told her you said you’d sent her the money, she told me I could save up for it. When I asked her if I could sleep over at a friend’s house she helped me pack a bag, walked me there and was invited to stay and visit with the parents. When mom gave me a gift that I really loved, she handed it to me before I went to your house for the weekend. After I’d call you, she always asked, “How’s Dad doing?” When I was rebellious she punished me. When I was argumentative she would explain her reasoning once and require me to be respectful.
The truth is;
I wish you’d have loved all of me. I am a lot like you, and a lot like Mom. It’s who I am.

I wish you’d have made it possible for me to share the fun and exciting parts of my time with mom. You wanted the story of my life to be only about experiences with you.

I wish you hadn’t shared information about child support with me and involved me in grown-up business.
I wish you hadn’t made me put my life on hold when I came to your house. It wasn’t your time, it was time I spent living under your roof.
I wish the gifts you gave me didn’t have conditions. They were for me, no matter where I was.

I wish you were comfortable with me loving my mom and that you realized my phone calls with her weren’t about you.

I wish you had disciplined me instead of using my behavior to speak negatively about my mother.

I wish you’d have dealt with my phases as a parent, not someone trying to win a fight or make me think badly of my mom.

The things you did might have seemed small individually. But a lifetime of those little things didn’t lay the groundwork you intended. Instead, you don’t know me like you should. And I only know you as someone who worked tirelessly to dissect my life into parts and devalue important pieces. I

wish you had used the time raising me instead of fighting for me.

I wish you had let me love both of you.

Sincerely,
Your Grown Child

I am not sure of the source or authour of this letter. A friend shared a screenshot on Facebook and I found it shared from Gerald Opthof, Psy.D, LPC, LCADC Forensic Psychotherapist/Licensed Professional Counselor/Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Counselor Greater New York City Area Mental Health Care

This letter gave me the biggest kick in the pants that you could ever imagine. I honestly thought I had been dealing with our divorce and helping my son continue his relationship with his father as best I could. I didn’t think I was speaking ill of my children’s father until I read this. I was flummoxed. Stunned. Sickened. You see I had done all of those things at some stage.

I had not allowed them to take their precious belongings or gifts to their fathers because they would never return. I had worked damn hard to get those items, clothing, toys, supplies whatever. I had pushed through illness and trials and worked my butt off to try to give my children what I could and he would just sit back and take, take, take. He stopped working after our first was born and often told me that he shouldn`t have to work because the government owed him. How, why, I do not know. Then there was the issue of drug use. That was one of the reasons we separated in the first place. He was ill, and he would take, trade, hock anything he could to get more money for his next fix, even if it mean taking from our children. SO yes, I did not like them taking their belongings or new gifts with them to his place.

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Yes he would try to plan something similar only bigger and better. It honestly felt as though he was trying to undermine my attempts at parenting. I must admit, I did try to come up with more attractive activities during weekends and holidays in an attempt to keep them away from him because he was hurtful, abusive and dangerous. It was damn hard. I knew my children need their father but he was not really in any fit state to be a responsible parent. The additional downside to this was the way he abused and manipulated me and the children. I ended up so abused, defeated, sick and miserable so no matter how hard I tried to be the best parent for my children, I couldn’t. They missed out on the best from both of their parents.

Yes I used to roll my eyes when they spoke fondly of him. I even recall telling them that I no longer wanted to hear of their exciting tales and adventures with him, not realising just how much this hurt them.

These were the worst things I could have done for my children. Unfortunately, I honestly believed I was doing the best for them. I thought I was protecting them and nurturing them but I was slowly destroying them.

Once I read this letter, I tried to turn my thoughts and views around quickly for my children’s sake but I did it too quickly and my children freaked out. For example, one day my son came home from a weekend with his father and I asked “How is Dad?” Well my son looked at me with the most puzzled expression on his face and walked out the door shaking his head. A few days later I told my son I had filled his car with fuel so if he wanted to take his father for a drive while I was away, he could. Now this statement and action freaked him out to the core. I had been telling my son before we even purchased his car the his father is not to touch it, not to get in it, drive it or go anywhere near it. My poor child became quire distraught and thought I was playing some sick, twisted game. I had to then explain the letter and that I realise I have been wrong all these years. He still wasn`t comfortable taking his father for a drive in his little sports car.
Not only this letter but this other blog here that showed me that I can be me, especially around my children and for the sake of my children. There was also some pretty crappy circumstances and events around my life that all culminated in an enormous shift in my thought process and in turn my life – turning it all onto it’s head. This blog helped me to realise that I no longer needed to cover myself, to hide my body and my scars but to wear them with pride to show all the world to see what a warrior I truly am. Despite the fact that I honestly believed that by being the real me, it was more damaging to my children – in actual fact, wearing the mask and hiding behind the façade I had been hiding behind all these years was doing more damage to them.

Just like my Grandmother once told me when I was 21, I should wear my grey hair with pride because I have earned it – I should wear my scars with pride also and that goes for the excess folds of stretched and wrinkled skin.

I know you are hurting, I know you are confused and worn down and probably have lost all sense of self worth, especially if you have been in an abusive relationship or even if you’ve simply found yourself as a single parent. Please know you are not alone. Please think of your children and what is best for them through this difficult transition. This can be incredibly difficult when you honestly believe you are doing the best for them. Sometimes you need to try to step out of yourself, out of your situation and look down on it with fresh eyes, from a different point of view.

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Please also remember SELF LOVE. You honestly need to put yourself first. As much as you may not believe me, you need to put yourself first, make time for yourself to refresh, renew, reenergise and just be. How can you possibly give to your children and the ones you love if you haven’t given to yourself first. I will talk more about this is a later post but you need to fill your own cup to overflowing before your can give your excess love to others. Take some times for self love and self care every day. Whether you draw yourself a hot soaking bath, plant a herb or veggie garden, go for a walk – alone, take the time to cook a delicious meal and enjoy it, meditate, take up yoga, pick some flowers, something, anything that you can do just for you. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day.

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joy

Love The One You’re With

Yes it’s been a ridiculously long time since I’ve last posted.

There is a bit of an explanation to that and I’ll be happy to share that explanation in a later post. For now, I’ve realised that I’m sharing on IG each day, so why not share here as well?

So here are today’s thoughts;

Love the one you’re with.

Today is about partner appreciation.

Sometimes I take my partner for granted. I wonder if you might take your partner for granted also? I don’t think it would be hard to do.

Maybe you don’t, maybe you’re one of those gorgeous couples who obviously adore each other and make the time and effort to appreciate the other each and every day.

Good on you!

Would you like to share your secrets?

For me, I certainly don’t mean to fail to appreciate and love my man but in the busyness of life, I find that l don’t always offer him the appreciation and unconditional love he deserves. I’m lacking quite a bit in that department but I’m working on it. Working on ensuring I let him know how special and amazing he really is.

I never in my life imagined I’d find the love of such an amazing soul. He is so kind, gentle, selfless, caring, patient, tolerant, understanding and completely beautiful. I’m so incredibly grateful to have him in my life and I’m so deeply in love with this beautiful soul.

After being alone for so long, it’s still such a pleasure to reach out through the night and feel that he’s still laying there right beside me, even after 16 months of trials and tribulations and baptism of fire. To feel his touch every single night as he holds me in his arms to fall off to sleep would have to be one of the most comforting, peaceful, amazing experiences. I will never tire of that.

I’ve made a point of telling my mate just how much he means to me today. I’ve tried to verbalise all the little things I’ve noticed he does. I’ve tried to express the feelings I have for him and I’ve also tried to show him what he means to me. Something I really should be doing every day.

When was the last time you stopped and appreciated your significant other?

When was the last time you stopped and not only noticed the little things they do for you on a daily basis, but made the time to tell them?

When was the last time you stopped and watched them, observed just how beautiful they really are?

When was the last time you went to bed at the same time, left the phones and tablets away and simply layed in each others arms, just being?

Don’t forget to take the opportunity to talk. Talk about the great things about your relationship. Tell each other how you appreciate what you do for the other, talk about your hopes and dreams for the future.

Please stay tuned for further info on my absence and future posts.

Until next time, don’t forget to make time to find your soul peace and make the effort to appreciate your mate ❤

joy

Contentment 

I can’t remember a time in my life where I’ve felt so incredibly happy and content as I do right now.

To wake each morning and realise that the man of my dreams is still laying right there beside is pure bliss.

As soon as I realise he’s still there, my heart overflows, a silly smile breaks out across my face and my soul is crammed full of love.

I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I am the luckiest woman in the world, no I’m the richest woman in the world.

After being alone so very long, I am so incredibly happy and content with this truly beautiful soul.

My heart truly overflows.

joy

Finally Found

As many of you know, I’ve been alone for a long time.  Well it feels like forever to be honest.

For a few years I searched for my mate. I was convinced that there must be someone out there who gets butterflies in their tummy, who goes all weak at the knees whenever he sees me smile and who can love me for who I am, baggage and all.  
I searched for that man for so long. 

For what felt like an eternity. 

I had a list of character traits and conditions that I would accept In my mate and things I would not.  I searched tirelessly for this man for years, until one day I realised that he does not exist. Not that he can’t have all of the traits and conditions I was searching for but because I decided that;

  • No man could possibly love me entirely, 
  • No man would even be able to bare looking at my terribly scarred, damaged, stretched, unattractive body let alone touching it
  • No man could handle my mood swings, my depressive episodes, my struggles with PTSD
  • No man could ever love the mess that I am – physically and psychologically.  
  • No man could ever love and embrace my creative urges or my spontaneous need to explore. 

I would painfully witness people I know fall into dedicated, devoted relationships and I would then fall into a heap myself wondering why I can’t have the same. 

I began questioning myself. 

Am I that ugly that no man could stand to be with me or even look at me?

Maybe I’m ugly on the inside?

Why can “she” find someone to love her and I can’t?

I have been on a couple of dates the last few years. They never went anywhere but the consistent theme was that I’m “too independant” – pfft! Too independant! seriously ?!!

What does that even mean? 
If I even am a strong , independant woman, I would have thought it was out of necessity. I’m sorry but I can’t see the negatives in being independant.  Do these men expect women to completely submit to them and do everything they’re told? Maybe I’m way off. I don’t know.  

I reached a point in my life where I was exhausted trying to find Mr Right. I searched everywhere I could think of. Sporting groups, cooking classes, art classes, science lectures, museums, galleries, walking, cafes, pubs, clubs, bars and more but he was nowhere to be found. 

Even my children tried to find my Mr Right for me. 

Finally, due a series of unrelated overwhelming events, I quit. 

I quit searching for Mr Right.  

I became resigned to that fact that he’s not out there.  That he doesn’t exist. 

It’s been over six years since my husband walked out.  The husband who never really loved me and who never accepted me for who I am. The husband I never truly loved either.  Unfortunately we were both lonely and were desperate for companionship. Turns out that companionship was never enough for either of us.    

I make a poor choice in partners anyway so I guess it’s time to quit while I’m ahead. 

So I did. 

I quit. 

I quit searching for the man of my dreams. My soul mate.  My best friend. Instead, I decided to try to focus on me – trying my hardest to not be selfish of course.  

I began exercising regularly, I started physiotherapy in an attempt to improve my health, strengthen my muscles, increase my core .  I started leaning yoga. I walk every day. I take the time to stop and smell the roses. 

I spent my days creating a vege garden, walking, discovering myself. 

Guess what? As if by some miracle, it’s beginning to look like I’ve been found.

This post was written on the 5th December, 2016.

He’s been around for some time but I never, ever considered that he might dig me. 

I still remember the very first time I laid eyes on him.  He certainly captured my attention.  I did think that he was cute and I was certainly attracted to him but I constantly dismissed my feelings believing he would never be interested in me. 

I’ve  a feeling that he’s known all along. I certainly felt something and I’ve been watching him ever since.  Now that I think back to how he’s treated me, how he looks at me, how he’ll do anything he can for me. I don’t think I was ready before but now, here he is.  Sweet , kind, gentle, caring – waiting. Waiting so incredibly patiently for me to see him and love him entirely. 

He gives me butterflies. I want to get to know him better.  In all honestly, I just want to hold him in my arms and have him hold me in his.  I just want to get lost in his eyes and gaze into his soul. 

I really do believe that I’ve finally been found.  All this time I’ve been searching for him and he had already found me.

My someday and my someone has finally found me.  This wonderfully beautiful soul who strolled into my life and stole my heart. 

Do not ever give up on your someone.They are out there searching for you just as you are searching for them.  Wait for your souls to collide.  You’ll know when they do. For now,  learn to love yourself and focus on your well-being and you’ll be amazed how your soulmate will appear. 

joy

Relationships or Lack There of…

There are a few things in life that I struggle to get my head around.  Of course those things include war, politics, violence, animal cruelty, Human cruelty, stupidity, arrogance and so much more. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.  

Today, and the last few days, weeks, months or even years, I’ve been struggling to get my head around relationships, moreso my lack of relationship with the opposite sex. More specifically, my lack of relationship – with a partner.  

At the current moment (15th November, 2016) I’ve been single exactly five years and one day.  Sadly through no choice of my own. Admittedly, there have been times that it would be incredibly unbeneficial for anyone if I were in a relationship. I mean that first twelve months + that was the post separation fog was simply hell. The confusion, heartache, the betrayal. The trying to process what on earth had actually happened and what went wrong. I’m sure no man in his right mind would want to be involved in that mess and that I totally understand.   
After five years of self analysis and consultation with a therapist it has finally dawned on me that nothing actually went wrong.  We were just a bad fit.  I do believe that we both just didn’t want to be alone and as a result jumped into a relationship far too early.  I’m sure it didn’t help that I was diagnosed with an awfully debilitating, chronic illness just weeks after our wedding which caused my health to decline rather rapidly. There was a huge load placed upon his shoulders and not only was he suddenly required to look after me but he had my children to watch and care for and provide for as well. 
It became very obvious that he was not coping and instead of being my support, my love, my life, my everything through sickness and in health, he started to look elsewhere for support. My illness and the massive expectations placed on him so suddenly just became too much.  Of course none of this was helped by his decision to enter into an affair with another woman. 

I often wonder how unrealistic it was for me to believe that he would love me unconditionally through thick and thin for the rest of our days.  I also wonder if he ever did love me.  It rarely felt like he did, despite his generosity with material items.  
Lately I’ve been feeling incredibly lonely. More than I ever have.  I see people around me everywhere in loving relationships and I just can’t help but wonder why I can’t have that too.  Is it unreasonable for me to believe that I too deserve the unconditional love of another?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not through lack of trying.  I just don’t seem to be attractive to anyone.  Why – I’m not sure. 

I know I’m not stunning, in fact I am rather unattractive with all of the excess skin that I carry around after losing so much weight but I’m certainly not ugly. I’m not stupid, I’m not mean or nasty .  
I was hoping that as the days, weeks, months and even years ticked on by that I would become less lonely and more at ease with my own company.  I guess in many ways I have become accustomed to the latter. I do enjoy my daily walks, yoga, extra-curricular activities that I do on my own but I’m always, ALWAYS wondering what it would be like to have someone by my side. Longing for that relationship, friendship, partnership. 

Sure , I’ve been on a few dates since my marriage failed. Most of them were nice but most men also had a dark side.  An incredibly selfish, arrogant, shitty side to them. Maybe I’ve overlooked these crappy character traits in the past but not anymore. 
You know, the name calling, even if they do believe it’s in jest. The attitude, the arrogance, the not offering to help carry bags or hold the door open. Sure I can do these things on my own, I have done for years but some chivalry and manners go a very long way. 

The men that I can’t see a future with are the ones who just won’t leave me alone but the ones that I do see a future with, that are the sweetest, kindest, most gorgeous souls just don’t have feelings for me. 

Why does life and relationships need to be so hard?

There have been men that I’ve either dated or become friends with who’ve told me that I’m just too strong, too independant and too intimidating for them. 
What a load of crap! 

At first I thought I could see how I was too independent. Intimidating – give me a break! Strong – what is wrong with being strong? Do they mean physically strong because I’m really not that strong or do they mean mentally strong? I really can’t see what’s wrong with either of those qualities.  

I guess my problem is that I’m not a real girly girl. Well that appears to be a bit of a barrier anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up in lace, silk and diamonds as much as the next woman.  I love having my hair and nails done.  I love good perfume, pretty jewels and gorgeous shoes. I just don’t dress like this every day.  

Most days I wear jeans and a T-shirt with boots or joggers or my active wear.  

These days I throughly enjoy physical labor, I love working and being outside in the sun and other elements and I tend to hang out with the guys more than girls. 
I  spend my days gardening, building, cleaning, making.  I’m a frontline firefighter and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.  I’m more than happy to get on the end of a fire hose , a rake hoe (McCloud Tool), the pump or even drive the truck (when I get my MR licence of course).  One of my favorite tasks is blacking out, turning logs, making sure the fire is extinguished, climbing in and out of the truck, dragging and winding hoses and ensuring there is nothing left burning, smoldering or cooking away.

Now that I’m healthier, I really don’t mind a bit of hard work.  I much prefer the company of the guys at the station because for the most part, there’s  no bitching, no back stabbing, no trying to push other women out of the way.  
I just don’t know. Maybe I’ve just become too fussy.  Maybe there really is nothing wrong with me rather they’re just isn’t anyone around.  

It’s become evident that I think way too much about the elusive partner.  There must be someone out there for me as I must be the right for him too. I just can’t seem to find him.  

I’m sure I’m not made to be alone for all eternity.  
I have given it some thought though, any potential partner must be understanding of my involvement in the fire brigade.  He must understand that attending incidents, accidents, fires and large campaigns are now a part of me and something I will not give up. He must understand that I’ve fought so bloody hard for a large part of my life to be there.  He must be able to tolerate me stumbling out of bed at stupid hours through the evening and early hours of the morning to respond to the pager. 

He is going to have to be some special guy to understand that.  To be tall, dark and handsome would be an added bonus. 

My knight in shining armor must be out there among all of the duds in tin foil.  

If you know where he is, please send him my way.  

I’ve been searching for him for way too long. 

Adventure, Blessing, Bucket List, Disease, Friends, hope, joy, Motivation, Purpose

Another Soul Joy Adventure

It’s certainly no secret to my family and friends that I wrestle with The Black Dog from time to time.

Thankfully I have had some incredible family and super special friends who do everything in their power to ensure my time spent with the black dog is limited. For those who tell me (or you) to “snap out of it”, “deal with it”,  or just “get over it”,  you’ve obviously never struggled with depression or mental illness.  It’s not that easy.  It’s not easy at all. Despite focusing on the positive, despite living in the now,  despite mediating and relaxing.  It’s just not that easy. Mental illness is an illness, not a mood or attitude,  not something you can “snap out of”.

After time spent in therapy, I have learnt that my depression is situational.

Situational depression is a short-term form of depression that can occur in the aftermath of various traumatic changes in your normal life, including divorce, retirement, loss of a job and the death of a relative or close friend. Doctors sometimes refer to the condition as adjustment disorder.

I had experienced one such incident recently after leaving the job of my dreams (or being sacked – I’m still not sure what happened) and around the same time, my son was beaten by some random drugged youth, which brought the black dog knocking at my door once again. The interviews and statements to police began and so did the stress, anxiety and depression.

Of course I kept playing over and over in my mind why. Why would some stranger want to hurt my beautiful,  kind,  sweet, generous boy?

Why am I no longer working the job of my dreams in which I gave my all and then some.  Why does that person not care about me as I cared for them?  Is it just business?  Why does it have to be so hurtful?  What did I do wrong when I thought I was doing so much, especially since I made it perfectly clear from the get go that I have a chronic illness that impacts on my ability to work long hours and at speed.

I quickly slipped into that deep pit of despair and not known quite how to dig myself out yet again. Although I am more aware of what is happening to me these days and knowing some of the steps I need to take to ensure my mental health remains positive, it is never quite that straight forward once that damn dog is nipping at my heels.

A couple of my friends, recently came to my aide. I am not sure they are even aware of what they have done for me but without them, their unwavering support and belief in me, I have no doubt I would still be stuck in that damn pit with that bloody dog sitting on my lap sharing his blood sucking fleas. If they’re reading this,  I really need DT & RM know just how very much I appreciate them,  their friendship,  their loyalty,  their resolve and their unconditional love. Everything about them.  They are my tribe and I sure hope I am part of theirs.  They are the most selfless people I’ve had the honour of forming friendships with and I love, adore and appreciate them both so very much.

It all began one Saturday evening when I was dropped off at D’s house with my overly filled luggage so I could join him for the two hour drive to Sydney from Newcastle. We must have talked a lot because the drive seemed to go by in no time, made even more special by a super sized bag of Malteasers on hand – thanks D 😁

I later chuckled at D’s attempts to annoy me during the trip by driving along the rumble strips on the freeway.  I have an 18 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. Your feeble attempts at annoyance pale in comparison to those of my children.

We drove into the city and I was wide eyed and expectant like a kid in a candy store. I love this city. The older I get the more I appreciate it’s beauty, the architecture, the people, the diversity and almost everything about it. It is always such an exciting adventure for me, made even moreso with my great friends by my side.

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Driving into the city,  across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

We arrived at the hotel where B was waiting to meet us. D parked the car and we walked up to the foyer to be greeted by B.

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The Sir Stamford at Circular Quay

We walked into the hotel, you would think I had never been in a 5 star hotel before. Truth be known, I hadn’t. I was ridiculously wide eyed and gawping at everything, trying to not be so obvious. I was so excited. I may not have shown it on the outside but on the inside I felt as though I could burst. I tried so very hard to contain my childish excitement.  We approached the front desk and registered our booking before receiving the key to our rooms.

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The concierge at Sir Stamford

I was completely surprised that we each got our own room, thanks to B and I’m sure D as well. I was totally expecting to have a room to share. How incredibly spoiled are we, how incredibly spoiled am I?

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Check in and the key to my room

We headed up to our rooms, I had a balcony room on the ninth floor! How exciting is that! I was flabbergasted. Really,  I was.  I just couldn’t believe I was there and to be honest I kept waiting to wake from this surreal, wonderful dream.

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My little balcony that was not accessible

We freshened up before meeting down in the foyer to go out for dinner. We walked across the road and around the corner where we found ourselves dining at Matt Moran‘s restaurant ARIA. WOW!

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D, showing that we were at ARIA. He really is a lovable clown and incredibly smart believe it or not.  

I am speechless. I can’t believe I am in Sydney, staying at The Sir Stamford in Circular Quay AND now dining at ARIA. Someone pinch me. This has to be a dream.

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We sat over there near the window where I struggled to not stare at the amazing view all evening

We sat by the window with the most incredible view of both the Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not to mention the most stunning harbour on the globe. How incredibly fitting. I just sat at that table staring out the window for way too long. It was simply stunning.

Our meal was divine and I must say,  one of the most delicious,  taste sensations I’ve ever experienced.

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I ordered the Salmon

I ordered the Saikou Salmon with Apple, Dill and Horseradish for entree. It was completely divine. That fish simply melted in my mouth and the flavours were so subtle but so incredibly delicious.

Before being served our entree, we were presented with a gorgeous little handmade ceramic bowl that nestled neatly within the palm of my hand. It contained the most delicious little sashimi mouthful with maybe caviar (I can’t remember now). A palate cleanser apparently. It was just perfect and totally unexpected.

D ordered a divine rose’ that accompanied dinner as well.

For main, I ordered Roasted Cauliflower Croquette with Cime Di Rapa and Truffle Hazelnut Pesto. This too was a taste sensation but I could not finish it. I was filling up quite swiftly. Mind you we were given another palette cleanser between courses. This time it was some sort of citrus mouse, so crisp and refreshing.

After our meal, we were offered coffee and petit fours

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A selection of three petit fours each with coffee

We finally left the restaurant,  we were the last to leave and once I realised we were the last remaining customers,  I was surprised that we were allowed to continue with our conversation and shenanigans. The staff were so incredibly patient and polite,  even though they’re paid to be.  I was so impressed – with the food,  the staff,  the wine,  the location and of course the company.

We headed back to our hotel where we planned to continue our evening with a nightcap or three. This idea unfortunately was short lived.  The bar in the hotel was closing.  It was after midnight.  We couldn’t believe it.  We had arrived at the restaurant at 5:30pm.

The Sir Stamford Bar

Regretfully we retired to our rooms where we were supposed to be getting some sleep before our adventure the next day.

I couldn’t sleep.  Apart from being so ridiculously excited that I was in Sydney, at the Sir Stamford,  awaiting an amazing adventure,  about to check another item off my bucket list, waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up. We had discovered at dinner that it was B’s birthday the week before.  She hadn’t told us so I sat up and knitted a scarf for B from a skein of yarn that I had dyed and spun. It was a superfine Australian Merino and was incredibly soft and luscious.

By the time I was finished knitting it was almost time to get up.  I managed about an hours sleep before being woken by the sound of a megaphone outside my window.

This was incredibly inspiring and certainly brought a smile to my face. What a fabulous way to start the morning. The woman on the megaphone was amazing.. She was encouraging as many individual runners as she could, yelling them that they looked great,  that they could do it,  that they had it in the bag.

I guess you’re wondering what the whole thing is about,  well it was the Sydney Half Marathon

Even more inspiring given what I, what we were about to embark upon.

Today,  this day,  will be just another day to millions of people.

For me,  today is something incredibly amazing.

For me, someone with Acromegaly, fibromyalgia,  hypopituitism,  arthritis, a spinal injury and more,  this day is a huge deal.  I’ve been told by my specialists that I should not be able to walk.  That if I survived this long I’d be in a wheel chair.

We’ve been through this before I know.  I don’t mean to bore you but there are people who’ve not read my history so to fill them all in and to give a picture of why this day is such a big deal for me, these things need to be repeated.

For those who don’t know,  some fifteen + years ago I began to experience extreme exhaustion,  unexplained weight gain,  unexplained joint pain, migraines,  sickness and more.. All tests came back negative and the consensus was that I was just too fat.  Lose weight they said but I couldn’t.  I had dieted and tried to exercise but despite all of this, despite following the diets to the enth degree and being in too much pain to walk. Despite blood test after blood test after blood test,  for so many years they just kept coming up negative.  The thing is,  they were doing the wrong blood tests.

Anyway,  it was finally established that I have Acromegaly and a pituitary tumour and I’ve been seeking treatment for that ever since.

Some people with Acromegaly don’t seem to experience joint pain at all but for me,  it’s beyond debilitating most days.  It’s exhausting and it messes with your hormones,  your mood,  your ability to think clearly, your outlook on life and more.  Throw in a couple more chronic illnesses and I have more days in bed resting,  surviving,  just trying to make it to the next day more than anything.

Well I decided recently that I need to see if I can push harder.  Not that you can push harder when you’re this ill. I have had a mind shift and as a result I’ve found I’ve been successfully overcoming more challenges than usual.  I can’t tell you why,  or how as I don’t really know. I’ve been taking cannabis oil and help seed milk.  I’m sure it’s made a huge difference to my quality of life because I haven’t been this mobile for years.  I do know that I’ve been trying to place more focus and empathises on the positives in my life.  I’ve been consciously removing toxic people from my life,  people who do nothing for me except make me miserable or depressed or even stressed and upset.  I’ve finally realised that I’m better than that.  That I deserve to be happy and content just as you do too.

So part of my new found positive life is checking items of my living bucket list.

That’s where we return to this tale.

I know it’s not a great photo but I just had to get a selfie wearing the world’s most plush robe

This morning I awoke early,  as mentioned earlier when I watched the marathon runners.  I showered and dressed,  made myself a cup of tea then made my way downstairs to the foyer to meet my friends.

Made a cup of tea before heading out for the day.

Together,  the three of us set of for a morning walk,  in fact one of us had already been up early and taken a stroll around the harbour.  It wasn’t me.

Obligatory tourist photo at Circular Quay. D and Me 😊

We walked toward The Rocks, stopping at Circular Quay for the obligatory tourist photos along the way before stopping at Guylain for breakfast.

Guylain for breakfast at The Rocks

I ordered a ristretto and a slice of toast. It was served as four slices of toast with Guylain chocolates on the side of course.

Naturally I struggled to eat just one slice of toast but I managed coffee and chocolate.

We finished breakfast and headed back to The Sir Stamford to collect or luggage from our rooms and place it all in the car.

We then headed back out for our long awaited adventure.  Well my long awaited adventure.  I’m not sure my friends were as excited as I was.  B has a paralysing fear of heights that I didn’t find out until we started climbing.

Can you guess yet what we’re doing?
That’s right!  My incredibly generous, kind hearted friends took me on the Harbour Bridge Climb.

Almost at the top. Never, ever thought I would get this opportunity.

I was terrified.  Completely terrified.

Not so much terrified of heights, although until recently I have been beyond terrified of heights.  I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it.  That I would hold up the rest of the group. Terrified that I’d run out of strength or energy or breath or that the pain would be totally overwhelming.

I didn’t.  In fact B asked me a couple of times to slow down because she couldn’t keep up.

I did get all wobbly and incredibly dizzy and disoriented a couple of times and feared I would not be able to continue.  I do know I pushed too hard and I’m pretty sure I was dehydrated too as you can’t take water with you.  There are about two bubblers strategically placed along the walk but I would have liked more.

We’re almost there. Not far to go now. My legs are well and truly burning but the view is amazing.

We climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

We did it together! The Three Musketeers 😊

We did it!

We made it to the very top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I did it with not only the help and support of two beautiful people but with two of the most important,  amazing, kind,  generous,  funny,  loving people in my life. Without these two I would never, ever have accomplished this long held dream or checked it off my bucket-list.

Without these two friends I would not be the person I am today.

You know,  they say that you need to find your tribe and until recently I never really quite understood what that meant. After developing friendships with these two,  I finally understand.

We did it! We all overcame a fear of some kind and conquered that sucker. We reached the pinnacle of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Yep,  we did it!

Together we reached the pinnacle of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  The most famous bridge on the most famous harbour in the world.

What an incredible experience.

What an amazing view.

What a once in a lifetime experience.

With immense,  immeasurable thanks to B & D. Without you both there is no way in the world that I would ever have accomplished this dream.

I did it! I achieved a long held dream and tickled another off my bucket list

Again,  a reminder to those of you who’ve been told you can’t do something or you’ll never be able to do something, please don’t ever give up on your dreams.  They are never impossible. Maybe incredibly challenging and currently beyond your reach but that doesn’t mean they will always be so.
What brings your soul joy?

Please take the time to leave a comment below and tell us what is on your bucket list or what you’ve managed to tick off your bucket list.

1000 People 1 Voice, Belinda Smith, Changes, Domestic Violence, Got Your Back Sista, Hunter Stadium, Melissa Histon, Purpose, Sista Code

1000 People 1 Voice 

Saturday I attended an event close to my heart, with great relevance to not only myself but to almost everyone I know either directly or indirectly.

The event was “1000 People 1 Voice” by The Sista Code to make a stand against domestic violence.

This incredible event was the brainchild of Belinda Bow with support from the amazing people of The Sista Code.

Belinda Smith and Melissa Histon, the girls who started it all – Got Your Back Sista. Image by The Sista Code

It’s not too late to donate – you can go HERE to do so.

Wednesday volunteers, I’m 3rd from the right. Photo by Grace McLean.

I had helped out a little earlier in the week by helping a team of volunteers pack goodie bags for the day.

Image courtesy of Heidi Alexandra Pollard
Team of incredible volunteers. That’s me, first on left. Photograph by Heidi Alexandra Pollard.

I’m not telling you this for the accolades or recognition – far from it.  I’m telling you this to bring awareness to the exorbitant prevalence of domestic violence in today’s society. It’s time we made a stand and said NO to Domestic Violence.

An amazing sight 1000 People 1 Voice. Image Courtesy of The Sista Code

This last Saturday was the day we gathered with a huge team of incredible volunteers to help with this event.  I was tasked to help with handing out the pre-ordered t-shirts from the online registrations.

Got Your Back Sista – image by The Sista Code

I was trying to make an effort to compliment as many people as I possibly could so I was looking for beautiful smiles,  great hair styles,  gorgeous pieces of clothing or jewellery, anything that I could, to offer a ray of hope or sunshine into the lives of strangers by offering a compliment.  Of course there were many people who I missed, focusing on handing out shirts as efficiently as I could and ensuring that everyone was made aware that we would be filming all day.

Filming commenced early. Here is Helen Cummings. Image by Michelle Faithful

I was also incredibly anxious, not only volunteering and handing out shirts but incredibly anxious offering compliments so this was huge for me.
While I was pushing through my own fears and making an effort to compliment people, I spotted one lady who was approaching me with a beautiful,  warm smile, gorgeous strawberry blonde curls that shimmered in the sunlight and tumbled onto her face, illuminating her smile with a soft, inviting presence.

Before I could speak.  Before I could offer her a compliment or even ask her what size shirt she wanted,  she excitedly told me how much she loved the hat I was wearing.  She loved the 1920’s inspired, cloche style hat with the big, black ribbon flower and the fact that it was her favourite colour – purple.  She radiated as she spoke to me about my hat and her energy was contagious as she did so. I was a little thrown as I was preparing to compliment her,  not receive a compliment first.

Here is an older photo of the purple, 1920’s inspired hat I was wearing

Finally I was afforded an opportunity to tell this lady how much I loved her earrings, how the colours and style suited not only her complexion but her vibrant, vivacious personality.

This lovely lady leant forward. She looked me in the eyes,  tears welling in hers and told me that was the most beautiful thing anyone had ever said to her.

I was perplexed.

How could a comment about someone’s earrings be such a beautiful thing to say?

They didn’t look to be anything overly special or intricate.  They didn’t look like precious metals or gems.  I did however think they were very well made.  I thought to myself they looked handmade.  They consisted of a large purple bead with a smaller orange bead above it that were attached to a shepard’s hook with a fishing swivel. The findings looked to be brass and the coloured beads looked to be glass, maybe even handmade,  lampwork beads so the more I looked at them the more I realised they really were quite special.

As this beautiful lady looked into my eyes,  she went on to explain to me why it was such a beautiful thing to be said to her.

Those earrings were handmade by her sister. She chose those particular earrings to wear on this day to this particular event that was not only raising awareness of domestic violence but raising money to help support those escaping domestic violence.

She chose those particular earrings to wear on this day that her beautiful, beloved,  darling sister had made for her by her own two hands.  Her sister who was murdered at the hands of domestic violence.

I was stunned.

I was completely heartbroken for this lady.

I was lost for words.  Gobsmacked!  For some ridiculous reason,  I had not even entertained the idea that there would be people there who had lost loved ones.  I certainly had considered there would be people there who had escaped DV, but rather naively and stupidly,  I never even considered the alternative.

I apologised.  I told her I was sorry and she told me she was sorry too.

I wish I knew some words of comfort,  of support that I could offered her.

I was instantly wondering what exactly it is that I’m sorry about or for.

I was firstly sorry she had lost her beautiful sister.

I was sorry that the system failed her sister.

I was sorry that her sister endured the most unimaginable.

I was sorry that a huge part of her life and soul had been snatched from her.

I was sorry that a beautiful life had been taken by someone who had absolutley no right to do so.

I was sorry that I failed to even ask her sisters name.

I was sorry for so much.

I was so sorry for this lady,  for her sister, for their family and for all who knew her.

I was sorry for every single life taken, snatched from this earth at the hands of domestic violence.

I’m sorry just doesn’t say enough.

It’s past time we all made a stand against domestic violence and said NO!

No more!

Animals, Changes, Development, Flora & Fauna, Plants, Sadness, Spring

Spring Sadness 

​Spring has sprung! 

I’m so excited I wet my plants…

I’ve been a bit down again lately.  Today was a particularly hard day after a few events over the last 24 hours,  that damn situational depression again I guess, either that or its that flea bitten black dog. 

As a result I decided today, the first day of spring, I needed to go for a walk, feel the sun on my skin,  the breeze tickling my hair,  the smell of the blooming wattle and enjoy what nature has to offer. 

The stunning visual and sensory displays she puts on each year, especially in spring are nothing short of spectacular. 
I await in anticipation for the smell of freesias to waft through the house signalling the first warm spring day. Thousands and thousands of freesias. I’ve loved laying down among them over the years and taking in their scented delights.

I enjoyed spying the stunning white native orchids that littered the floor of the bush,  nestled below the canopy. 

Seeing the prickly Eggs and Bacon cracking into bloom. 

Hearing the sounds of the birds, lorrikets,  king parrots,  rosella’s, kookaburras, noisey miners and the magpies warbling.  

It’s nothing short of bliss. 
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have grown up being surrounded by the bush. 

I’ve been privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to not only interact with but learn about our stunning native flora and fauna.  Over those last 42 years I’ve bought home, rescued and rehabilitated birds of all kinds,  magpies,  lorrikets,  king parrots, rosella’s,  kookaburras,  noisey miners, tawny frogmouth, butcherbirds,  not to mention blue tongue lizards,  geckos, bearded dragons,  skinks, legless lizards, red bellie black snakes, brown snakes, olive green tree snakes,  diamond pythons, whip snakes,  flying foxes, micro bats,  foxes,  ring tail possums, brush tail possums,  turtles,  frogs, bandicoots, antechinus, echidna, wombat,  and I’m sure many more. 

Over the last 42 years I’ve watched with heartache as parcel after parcel has been developed, birds,  animals and plants have disappeared. 

This is the very last parcel of bush that had surrounded or home for the last 43 years. 
Next week the bulldozers move in.  

My heart is broken 💔

Blessing, Domestic Violence, Got Your Back Sista, hope, Hunter Stadium, Melissa Histon, Say No, Sista Code

Got Your Back Sista

This Saturday I’m joining hundreds, even thousands of people at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle to take a stand against domestic violence.  

What better way to “Find Your JOY!”  

Thanks to the amazing people of The Sista Code,  especially Melissa Histon this event is going to be something incredibly special.  

You can either register to join us this Saturday at the stadium HERE or you can make a donation to this amazing cause. 

I spent a couple of hours this morning helping prepare gift bags for participants with a small group of about 9 amazingly kind, inspiring, selfless,  generous people at the stadium. After we completed the bags, we were given a tour of the stadium and walked out onto that field.  What an amazing feeling.  I am so excited for this event on Saturday.  

The event is to raise awareness and funds to help those escaping domestic violence.  Whether you’ve been touched yourself,  your sister,  your niece,  your daughter,  your mother,  your friend, even men you know. There is usually someone you know (whether you know it or not)  who has been affected by domestic violence.  

It would be really fabulous if you could join us at the stadium or make a small donation.  

Thanks for visiting my Fundraising Page for 1000 People, 1 Voice Say NO to domestic violence! 

Together we are raising funds to help victims of domestic violence start their lives again free from violence, with dignity and in safety.

You can sponsor me and leave a message by selecting the donate button above.

Thanks for supporting our efforts in raising money for women and children who have escaped domestic violence and showing that you say ‘NO’ to domestic violence.

From The Sista Code website – 

The spirit of The Sista Code is to uplift, inspire and support other women, including our most vulnerable sistas, those who have escaped a violent relationship and must start their lives again. As such, we have established the registered charity, ‘Got Your Back Sista.’ 

Currently based in NSW, we work directly with domestic violence services and refuges, by referral only, to provide:

1. Assistance with sourcing and providing household items, household and personal starter-packs, clothing and furniture for women that are moving from a refuge to independent living.

2. A ‘Be A Sista’ mentoring program to provide friendship and support to women who are starting over after escaping domestic violence.

So,  if you’re not too busy this Saturday, it would be really great if you could join us. Children are welcome and free to enter.  They’re will be a jumping castle and the Knights Development Squad there too. If you can’t join us,  please consider a donation of any size which will be accepted with enormous thanks and sincerity. 

Help me reach my goal of raising $150 for The Sista Code by following this link HERE 

Uncategorized

Exciting Times are Afoot

I’ve often struggled with the idea of starting my own business.

The flexibility of dictating my own hours,  especially when living with a chronic illness is an incredibly attractive drawcard.
Don’t get me wrong,  I’m completely aware of the hard work and commitment required in being a business owner. In fact it absolutely terrifies me.

I’ve studied business for many years.  First certificate 1 in Business Management.  Then Cert II. I then went on to do the NEIS Program or Cert IV in Business. Most recently a Double Diploma in Business and Management,  not to mention managing a couple of small local business as well.  I know what’s needed.  I know how tough it is or can be,  especially when the hard work is not put in. 

The prospect of lack of cash flow,  how am I going to keep paying the bills.  What if I don’t gain enough costumers to maintain the business.  Where will I focus my marketing,  what kind of marketing should I employ.  What or who exactly is my target market, what is my point of difference or my unique quotient etc,  etc and so much more. 
Now I know that when embarking on a new business that one needs to be positive and have big goals,  however I’m hesitant.  I certainly don’t want to jump in two feet first and expect some unrealistic exponential growth and place unnecessary pressure on myself, my family or my investors.

Where do I find that balance? 

Of course there needs to be some goals,  some that may initially feel beyond my grasp.  I completely understand that I need to challenge myself,  stretch myself and aim big.  But I’m also a realist.  I have no doubt that my business is not going to be a massive success overnight.  I know that there will be ups and downs,  challenges and a whole heap of hard work. Not to mention late nights,  early mornings and the loss of weekends in the persuut of happiness, contentment and satisfaction. 
This business is certainly not going to make me a millionaire that’s for sure (at least not overnight anyway) but it will be great for my soul,  my creativity,  my desire to help and nuture others. It will allow me the opportunity to do what I love each and everyday and expand my creativity. In turn will have a positive affect on my family, especially my son. 

My first goal will be to turn over enough income to cover costs and overheads to keep the business ticking away and of course to maintain a constant flow of stock on hand.

My second goal will be to generate enough income to support myself and my family.  Nothing extravagant.  It would be fabulous to know that there is enough money in the bank to pay the bills each month.  Even have a little extra for some luxuries such as being able to eat out with friends,  go on a weekend away,  be able to keep my car maintained without panicking and wondering how on earth I’m going to pay for rego or new tyres or even be able to shout my kids to a movie or concert or something extravagant like that. 

The next level would be to take them on a holiday. How cool would that be? A holiday.  Now that’s a dream come true. 
I’ve no real idea how I’m going to pull this off. I have no savings,  no collateral,  not much of anything really. A lifetime of chronic illness has taken care of that,  however I’m quite well now for the first time in over twenty years so it’s time. 

It’s time I took a chance.  It’s time I pushed the boundaries.  

It’s time I put in the hard-work to make this happen.

I’ve started this business with just $20.12c in my bank account, a great belief in myself and the unconditional,  amazing support of wonderful friends and amazing family. 

To be honest,  I’m completely overwhelmed with the support and encouragement I’ve been receiving. 

You honestly have no idea of the degree of support and encouragement I’ve received from family and friends.  I’m completely overwhelmed and incredibly humbled. 

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be able to do this without my friends. 
I’m about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.  I’m just about ready to launch my business,  thanks to one or two amazing,  incredibly generous friends. 

The business I’m about to launch is called Art-Gentum

Art-Gentum is a business that teaches PMC or Precious Metal Clay.  It is an incredibly exciting medium that looks and feels similar to porcelain clay. It contains microscopic metal particles combined with an organic binder and some water. PMC can be stamped, carved,  shaped and air dried before being carved,  sanded, polished and refined before being kiln fired. 
During the firing process the organic binder is burnt out and the fine metal particles sinter (or fuse together) leaving you with fine silver 999. 

This gorgeous unfinished piece was created by a 10 year old. If she can do it, so can you.

You can create some really amazing, bespoke,  one of a kind,  personalised jewellery pieces or sculptures.  

Stunning hand made fine silver (999) ginkgo leaf mounted on dichroic glass

You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve and you don’t have to be a jeweller, a Potter or even a ceramicist, in fact you do not need to have any experience what-so-ever.  
If you live in the Newcastle,  Hunter, Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie areas and are interested in learning this amazing art, contact Art-Gentum, all you need is 3 – 9 friends,  a comfortable location with tales to work on and a desire to learn to create your own bespoke silver pieces.  

Adventure, Blessing, Creativity, hope, joy, Motivation, Purpose

Intermission 

I’m slack. 

That’s right.  

I’m slack. 

Very slack. 

I’ve been trying so very hard to write something incredibly interesting and motivating but I’ve been slack. 

I’m a perfectionist so the twenty -something posts that I’ve written or commenced to write are just sitting in my drafts folder. 

There really is some gold hidden in there but none are quite ready to be posted. 

This blog. 

Well this particular blog post is just to let you know that I’m still here and I’ve not forgotten you,  any of you.  I’m just going through one of those stages of insecurity like most of us do.  

Please bare with me. The great blog posts are coming and you won’t regret the wait. I promise.  

In the meantime I thank you so very much for your patience and understanding.  

As my dear friend Deano would say ; Peace out!  

Acromegaly, Blessing, Disease, Dr. Karl, joy, Purpose

My Meeting with Dr Karl

Last November I attended a book launch at Newcastle Regional Museum

The author was none other than Dr Karl Kruzunizki the one and only.  What an incredible man he is.

Dr Karl was there to launch his latest book Short Back and Science.

I was completely enthralled with his stories and anecdotes.  What an amazing human being.

Toward the end of his presentation he had question time.  I sat up the back of that lecture room, wracking my brain trying to think of a good question to ask. Suddenly it came to me so I thrust my hand in the air only to discover he had just taken his last question. 😢

He then announced that he will take more questions at his book signing out in the foyer. Since I had purchased a copy of his book before the lecture I made my way out to the signing area.

Ashleigh (my daughter) and I were first in line for the book signing.  As we approached and pleasantries were over with I asked Dr Karl if I could still ask him my question.  Of course he said yes.

I asked him what he knew about the hormone ghrelin.  He told me that it was found in plants.

I challenged him and said “No,  it’s not” well you can only imagine how well my response was received from such an educated man of science.

Dr Karl then went on to ask me why I wanted to know and I simply said I have Acromegaly. 

Well, he leapt out of his seat, grabbed my hand and commenced feeling my bones and knuckles. He squealed with delight saying “I can feel it. I can feel it!”
He called his PA over and told her, she just rolled her eyes and returned to her post.

Dr Karl had a few questions for me before asking if I could do some research for him and then handed me his business card, asking me to contact him with my findings.

He then went on to tell me that he had wanted to study Acromegliacs for years but has never been allowed access to anyone, even through the Garvan Institute.

Now that I’m not working as much, I really must do the research and contact him.

Can you even begin to imagine how much this man could help with scientific advances in acromegaly if he is finally able to study acromegaly?

How incredibly exciting!

joy

Queens Wharf Tower aka Giant Phallus

I have lived in Newcastle my whole life, well Lake Macquarie if we are going to get technical however I still call myself a Novocastrian. When someone asks where I live or where I am from and I say Bolton Point, they ask “Where’s that?’ so I tell them it’s near Toronto and they say, “Ahhh, Canada”

OK, I’m from Newcastle in Australia. They usually get that.

So I call myself a Novocastrian.

Anyway, today I climbed to the top of the giant penis on Queens Wharf in Newcastle – finally.  After a lifetime of having never done so. 

My wonderfully encouraging son came with me and cheered me on the entire way. He knew that this was something on my bucket list that I wished you one day achieve.  
Together we climbed that tower and it wasn’t even hard. 

I was so very pleased with myself.  It was just a couple of short years ago that I would not be able to climb 3 stairs let alone the entire tower. 

As my reward, the observation deck was open.  It’s never open.  

Another amazing experienced checked off my bucket list, thanks to my son x