“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support and help other women.” -Madeleine Albright
Having been through my own trials and tribulations, I often look to strong, empowered women for encouragement, as sometimes, all you need is a good quote to kick some inspiration into your day. This is why I love Instagram. It connects me with such women and gives me my daily dose of self-esteem.
It works for me anyway.
Ellen Degeneres, Michelle O'Bama, Ophra - and one of my favourites - J.K. Rowling - all driven women, who have undoubtedly changed the world with their strong voice, optimism, motivation and opinions.
While we can't all be high profile women in our own right, it doesn't mean we can't be inspirational to each other.
My beautiful friends are just that. They constantly inspire me.
Their authenticity, support and never-ending loyalty are what encourages me to keep moving forward. To pursue my dreams and love myself, faults and all.
We as human beings can be very confusing creatures, even in our own eyes. It's your tribe who will decipher through the bullshit and paint the picture of reality. Regardless of what that is, they will back you with their last cent, believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself and continue to push you to be your best self.
Empowered women, empower women.
So today, love your tribe. Love and respect the women who are not in your tribe as they are your sisters - treat them accordingly.
You watch them grow right before your eyes.
Starting school seems an eternity away.
Then comes high school - gosh where did the time go?
Graduation - OMG that is years off and then next thing they are heading off to Schoolies week.
The day Brittany mentioned doing a University Exchange in the UK, I laughed. Having struggled with anxiety from a young age, not for one minute did I think this would eventuate.
Heck, she didn't even like sleepovers - and I won't even mention the the anxiety we went through getting her to school camps. So how the hell was she going to move to the other side of the world?
Turns out I have underestimated my daughter's strength and abilities.
Fast forward 5 weeks before her departure - as I was paying for her airfare, all of a sudden I was crippled with fear.
I am generally a positive person, however, my whole mindset changed. I tried to regain control of my thoughts and snap myself out it, but nothing seemed to work.
Planes crashes, terrorist attacks, abduction and sold into sex slavery (& wishing Liam Nielsen was her father) were all at the forefront of my mind. Sounds dramatic I know, but it consumed me.
I felt like I was carrying around a dead weight on my chest. At times I was gasping for breath.
Why on earth was I feeling this way? Millions of young people travel every year and return home safely. Why will it be any different for my daughter?
January 15th was here before I knew it. I had been watching her madly pack and unpack for a week. I could see her anxiety starting to flare, as well the determination to be brave. I was beyond proud of the lengths she was going to, to remain strong.
Me on the other hand - I was a blubbering mess, not that I ever let her see it.
The morning of her departure day I was awake by 4 am, I could not wait for her to wake so I could slip into her bed and cuddle her one last time.
And that is exactly what I did.
I could not stop looking at her beautiful face.
We laughed and joked about how fast this day had come and it was surreal that this would be the last morning - for a while, having a coffee together.
It took everything in me not to scream - DON'T GO - as I fluffed around pretending to be excited about her pending adventure. I was genuinely excited for her, however also struggling with a great sense of loss.
She is a big presence in our home and an only child. We are the three musketeers and she is a very strong link, and now that link was about to be broken.
As her departure time finally arrived and I watched her leave, the feelings of fear subsided and were replaced with this overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
How blessed were we to be given the gift of Brittany.
Our daughter is happy, healthy, smart, social and had defied the claws of anxiety.
She was on her way to pave her own path and make her mark on the world. I would of given anything to be her shadow and protector, but where was the sense in that?
I thought breastfeeding and the terrible two's were bad. They were nothing compared to this. I love being a Mum, but it can certainly be a tough gig.
Watch this space to see if Anxiety raises it's ugly head again! (if so we will kick it in the arse)
Families divided and at constant loggerheads.
Words that wound and can't ever be taken back.
When you are faced with toxicity within a family it can be soul destroying.
Especially when you still love the person - it's their behaviours and way of thinking you don't like.
No one is perfect. We all have darker shades.
I am flawed just like everyone else. I don't pretend otherwise.
But I was raised to say sorry when I was at fault.
To build bridges and not walls.
To make peace not war and to treat people how I would like to be treated.
Really, it's quite simple to be a decent human being.
Healthy relationships are built on boundaries, tolerance and communication. Something we are all taught from a very young age.
So how do you cope with someone who doesn't practice all of the above?
If you read those inspirational quotes plastered all over Social Media the answer is unanimous - you just cut toxic people from your life.
Much easier said than done.
What if to some extent they will always be involved in your life?
Distancing yourself is the next best option, yet it still doesn't remove the angry, resentful feelings you have when you do cross paths.
After endless googling in the hope of finding some self-help tips, I also came up with a diagnosis for people who have these traits. Personality Disorder.
A very broad label I know. But it depicts the behaviours.
I also learnt those with this disorder don't ever change, it is how they are wired. It is a sickness, no different to mental health.
This just complicated my feelings even more. I am now laden with a blanket of guilt.
Families are meant to always have each other's backs - an unconditional love. Yet I have realised it's not that black and white.
And you may be thinking who I am to label someone with such an unpleasant title?
Well, I am not the only one of this opinion. If you add up the numbers of others who feel the same and look for the common denominator in all the family upset, there is your answer.
Family disconnections, especially around Christmas can put a cloud over the entire festive season, and if you are anything like me - I love Christmas, it can dim your Christmas spirit.
Except for this year, I won't let it.
I have realised there is absolutely nothing you can do to help a person who doesn't see their own faults. Absolute zilch.
The more you try, the more difficult they become and you end up consumed with frustration and resentment.
It's exasperating. Draining. Infuriating.
It can kill a part of your soul.
So how do you deal with a Personality Disorder? You distance yourself and when you do cross paths you don't react to anything they do or say.
After 3 very deep ocean breaths (it's a Pilates term), you smile, nod, be polite and leave.
Unless you want to master the skills to interact - which involves being civil, friendly and extremely patient – you won't win.
Leave it to someone who has the art and ability to do so.
Doing this will not only lighten your load of anxiety, but it will also reignite your Christmas spirit.
1995 was my first Thanksgiving in LA, my introduction to table confetti and the beginning of a long distance, long lasting friendship.
Staying with very dear friends in LA in the trendy area of Park La Brea (directly opposite The Grove) we were invited to their next-door neighbours for Thanksgiving Dinner. I was beyond excited.
Growing up I loved watching the American TV shows and movies where Thanksgiving and Christmas were being celebrated. The snow softly falling outside viewed through white frosted windows, the entire family seated around the elegantly decorated dinner table - with strategically placed table settings and a spread of delectable, insanely delicious food - made me want to be American.
Many, many years later, on a magnificent cool, Autumn late afternoon I was finally able to experience my own traditional Thanksgiving.
Marilynn, Chuck and their beautiful little boy Austin (such American names - I love it) welcomed us into their home filled with the most appetising aroma. The twinkling lights, music and the most gorgeous Thanksgiving autumn hues tablescape, awaited our arrival.
The stark white tablecloth sprinkled with sparkling table confetti and adorned with a hand decorated runner was the stage for the pretty pumpkin and berry centrepiece and miniature candelabras. A pumpkin leaf place card and a festive autumn napkin, positioned in the middle of each place setting created the elegant but playful scene.
It was so goddam American. I was obsessed.
All I needed now was for it to snow in LA!
3 cocktails downed and a belly full of Pecan Cheddar Cheese balls and spinach and cheese stuffed mushrooms - it was now time to share a meal and give thanks.
The entrance of the oversized turkey was nothing short of grand, just like in the movies. Stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce followed and then came the endless sides - white creamy mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, corn and Brussel sprouts all beautifully presented - just like in the movies.
I was in heaven. I now consider myself American.
Of course, the evening was not complete without pumpkin pie, pecan pie and holiday cupcakes.
More cocktails, dancing, whoopee cushions and dare I say - food brought the evening to a close.
All I can say is thank God I only had to walk next door! The button on my jeans was ready to pop! It was definitely time for some comfy pants.
What did I think of my first Thanksgiving?
Well, I think the expression of gratitude I have to say is underrated.
I love celebrating Australia day, we make it a real party. However, celebrating Thanksgiving was very different. Almost spiritual.
It was one of the most memorable days of my life and also life-changing. I became and remained friends with one of the most beautiful families on this earth.
In the last 24 years, we have travelled back and forth to see each other and they have played a significant part in my daughter's life. Even hosted her and her best friend for schoolies week.
I am not only grateful for the experience of a traditional Thanksgiving, but eternally thankful for the gift of friendship - which I now class as family.
If you love traditions and celebrations, then do yourself a favour and experience a Thanksgiving in the USA.
You won't be disappointed.
When I was young I could never imagine my parents getting old. To me, they never aged. They would always be around.
It wasn't until I gave birth to my daughter and I became a parent, did I realise my parents - now grandparents, were aging.
Still, I could not visualise them as old people, and especially ones who needed care.
Today my mother is 80 and lives with Alzheimer's and my father is 84 - while still as sharp as a tack, physically he is slowing down.
My father is Mum's unpaid sole carer. For those of you who have had experience with Alzheimer's patients, you will understand some days for him are mentally and emotionally draining.
He deserves support and admiration for all he does, as well as caring for. That's where I come in.
I am a part-time carer for them both and very fortunate that I can share the load with my two older sisters. It makes the world of difference. We are the lucky ones.
Most unpaid carers don't have that luxury. It is they and only they. For some, their every waking moment is consumed with having to think for someone else and attend to their every need. Can you imagine how draining that would be? How could you not feel resentment?
But they don't. They just do what has to be done.
When they do escape for a while, they feel guilty. Guilty for leaving their loved one and guilty for the person who is relieving them.
Those inspirational life quotes - live life to the fullest, love the life you live - must eat at their soul. Of course, they would love to apply that to their lives, but it's unthinkable to do so.
These exceptional human beings deserve recognition and support.
If you know an unpaid carer or someone who is sacrificing their existence to care for someone else - support them. Care for them. Your words and actions can move mountains and break down walls.
They need us.
I care. I hope you do too.
Lately, stress and I have become best friends. Not really the type of friend I wanted in my inner circle, but she forced her way in. (yes stress is a she)
Being a part time carer for my beautiful mother who has Alzheimer's, running a small business with my husband, working part-time and trying to kick-start a freelance writing career - and run the family home - was the invitation that stress RSVP too.
She keeps me awake at night, at times gives me chest pains and consumes my every thought. She is very high maintenance. I wish she would find a new BFF.
Learning that Magnesium - among other things - can help relieve stress and sleep deprivation I started taking tablets before bed.
However, I found out today that mixing Magnesium citrate powder in water (hot or cold) and sipping it through the day works even better.
And get this - to amplify the benefits add a little sea salt as it includes 72 minerals! (1/4 teaspoon per litre)
Gosh, that and my lemon water, I will pee all day.
Besides drinking lemon water as a natural detox, did you know it is insanely good for your skin and hair?
This knowledge has been around for so long and there have been endless articles written about the benefits of Lemons.
It has taken 48 years for me to actually try some of these natural alternatives and I am happy to say, after 8 weeks of drinking 2 litres a day of lemon water, there have been obvious improvements.
Working in the cosmetic industry I get to see many different skin types and speak to patients about different alternatives they use. I was surprised how many incorporate lemon into their daily health routine.
Lemons are full of antioxidants. Drinking lemon water can actually remove damaging free radicals from your body. Packed full of Vitamin C (88%) it also helps repair damaged skin cells and assist in minimising fine lines, blemishes and wrinkles.
For those of you who use a Vitamin C serum in your daily skincare regime, you will know it plays an integral part in rejuvenating the facial skin internally.
Others have said drinking this liquid gold over a prolonged period of time has also helped with acne and skin infections.
In regards to hair - I have a full set of strong curls and no dry scalp, so I am very lucky. However others have confirmed a noticeable difference with the strength of their hair (strengthens the follicles) removal of dry scalp and dandruff and for the people with oily hair - it works by decreasing the secretion of sebaceous glands in your scalp, which stops the hair follicles from getting blocked.
Last and certainly not least - for me - I am 99% sure it is helping with some weight loss - especially around my stomach. It seems to work a little like an appetite suppressant. That alone makes me want to drink bucket loads.
Oh and very important - because Lemon juice is one of the most acidic fruit juices of all - with a pH of 2 to 2.6, it can erode tooth enamel. Drinking the lemon water through a straw will bring any acidic liquid toward the back of your mouth away from your teeth. (note to self - use metal straws - no plastic)
Can't believe it has taken me this long to understand how highly beneficial this piece of fruit is.
Spring and Summer - my two favourite seasons. What is the first thing that comes to mind when I feel the warmth of the first Spring day? Weekend BBQ's on the back deck, afternoon drinks around the pool, hot summer days and nights at the beach. I mean seriously, what else are weekends for?
Every year I look for the trending warm weather beverage that will quench my thirst and accompany me on the many social weekends that lie ahead.
2018 - Hello Aperol Spritz.
Ingredients: 90ml Prosecco (does not have to be an expensive Italian sparkling), 60ml Aperol, Splash of Soda water
Served: On the rocks
Garnish: Orange Wedge (in Italy it can be garnished with a salty green olive as well)
Drinkware: Tall, short - as long as it looks fancy.
Preparation: Pour all ingredients into glass over ice, garnish and serve.
This coral coloured, Italian aperitif is reminiscent of the seasons - the colour is the combined energy of red and the happiness of yellow.
It's strong - but fresh, bittersweet taste pairs well with snacks and appetisers - perfect for those afternoon drinks around the pool. Also is known to prime your appetite for dinner.
And you know what I love about this drink? Unlike beer and wine (and even for me champagne), being low in alcohol (therefore less sugar) it's light, refreshing taste doesn't leave that heavy, bloated feeling.
Even better if you are in for a marathon session - you can easily have 10 of these and still be standing at the end of the race. (Ok 10 might be pushing it)
Lastly, I have the perfect appetizer – found on https://www.platingsandpairings.com (def worth a follow) to serve with this quintessential cocktail. Bacon-Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Cherry Peppers. Can be made ahead of time and they are insanely tasty.
A hot appetizer may not seem like the right match for this refreshing drink on a warm day, but trust me, they go down very well.
Arrange the stuffed peppers on a tray with baking paper. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the bacon is crispy and the cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.
So there you have it, the perfect combination for your next spring/summer hosting.
Both are so easy to make, are crowd pleasers and Martha Stewart will become your second name.
Kenilworth - Queensland - Friday 28th September, 2018.
Rolling acres surrounded by sweeping mountain views was the backdrop I was welcomed to last Friday at my first rustic country wedding.
The warm spring weather didn't disappoint and the sunlight streaming down on the untouched countryside offered endless photographic opportunities, which I could not get enough of.
The rustic wooden sign welcomed us as we arrived at this magnificent setting, igniting excitement that this wedding was about to come to life.
Rows of hay bales covered in white vintage sheets, with a few white long white benches here and there were the perfect guests seating to take in the breathtaking surroundings and watch the romance unfold.
As the bridal party arrived they were serenaded by a live version of Elvis Presley's - Only Fools Rush In. The bride and bridesmaids all dressed in white, and the bride carrying a spectacular oversized, bright, native bouquet, complimented the natural beauty of a rustic wedding theme.
The ceremony took place between two tree stumps, the significance being where the newlyweds home will be eventually being built. As they lovingly said their vows bringing a tear to all who were there to witness, they were now pronounced man and wife and sealed it with signatures at the cutest little table you could imagine.
The celebrations kicked off with live music and an array of artistic grazing platters, flowing champagne and beer on tap - all perfectly laid out on the back of an old farm truck.
As the sun set we made our way to the old hay shed where the reception had come alive. Exposed beams draped with festoon lights (which were bought from Cosco and not expensive), wooden naked tables with old style school chairs, mason jars with small bunches of blooms alongside home made marshmallows and candles - decorated this once baron shed which had now been transformed into a venue of simplistic beauty, full of love and celebration.
The rustic drinks bar made from recycled timber and an old bath was a feature alongside the dance floor made completely from wooden pallets.
A self serve Mexican feast of enchilada’s, nachos, dips and salads - full of simple ingredients and spicy flavours were presented on recycled timber platters – all hand made and all catered for by the Brides family.
The presentation was creative. 10/10.
Time to cut the cake, which was a small and elegant home made vanilla butter cake, used as a prop for cake cutting photos, and then an assortment of delectable cup cakes served with coffee and tea for desert.
Feeling content and relaxed, it was now time to party. We danced under the stars for the remaining of the night to a mixture of country and modern music, which kept us on our feet for many hours.
A splendid way to finish the night was sitting around a crackling campfire. Exhausted, the glowing embers slowly mesmerised me bringing my night to end. The wedding had been nothing short of remarkable.
All weddings are beautiful, but for me there is something extra special about saying “I Do” in the country. I think the combination of being surrounded by nature and the finer details of a rustic setting - that looked effortless, but clearly wasn't - brings a different appreciation than a luxurious venue.
They say less is more and I have to agree. It was simple but elegant and the rustic woodland ambience is something I will never forget.
I am world’s worst green thumb - I generally kill every plant I try to grow.
l have loved Lavender since I can remember - it represents beauty and feminity and I have finally had success in growing it. (probably didn't really try that hard before)
It's deep, vivid, feminine colour and fresh, floral, healing scent give this flower a unique purpose of its own.
Did you know our brains associate a scent with memories? For me, the scent of this flower instantly transports me to France - Provence - where I saw my first field of Lavender.
The sea of purple was pictural and the scent overpowering. I was hypnotised.
It was on this memorable day I learnt this flower/herb is not just beautiful, but therapeutic.
A herb belonging to the mint family - it has powerful antibacterial properties which can help with sleep issues, anxiety or stress, hair loss, digestive complaints, acne, migraines and even repels insects.
I have recently been suffering from insomnia and last night I pulled some leaves off the stem and put them into a small organza bag (was a small present bag) and placed the bag just under my pillowcase towards the end.
I was not expecting any miracles, but I drifted off before I knew it and the next thing it was 4:30 am. Yes, I had two wines last night - maybe that helped, but I was pleasantly surprised that it actually worked.
I intend to make it a part of my daily life - I will let you know how it goes.