People Pleasing-An Exercise In Futility

When I was a very young girl, of about six or seven, I remember reading this fable. It has stayed with me throughout my life.

Every time someone has expressed their opinion of me or what I do, this little story always pops into my head. I never discount people’s opinions, thank goodness that people have opinions and that they can be different but that is all that they are, THEIR opinions and have nothing whatsoever to do with me. I respect that.

So next time, when you are going about your daily business of being your totally AWESOME self, and someone offers their opinion that you did not ask for (keep in mind, opinion is different to advice; and advice you did not ask for is also different to the advice you did ask for) especially if it has the potential to make you feel bad or shroud you in doubts, think back on this little story. A simple story yet a story which carries wisdom of ages….

 

The Man, The Boy and The Donkey

 

“The old man, the boy and the donkey”

 

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time, they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said:

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders and carried him.

They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

Moral of Aesops Fable:

Please all, and you will please none

So, as you can see, trying to please everyone is a complete waste of time as it is an exercise in futility.

There is only one person in this world whom you need to worry about pleasing. That person is YOU. You always know if you have lived your day well and if you have not. You are the person you have to go to sleep with every night, now and always. You will most likely agree with me when I say that it is much nicer to go to sleep with a person who is pleased than the one who is not. 🙂

Aesop has many more fables, and if you’d like to have a look here is the link for you.

So please, go forth and be as awesome, as you were put on this earth to be, and if someone has a problem with that, just be grateful they are the person having to sleep with them tonight while you get to sleep with awesomeness itself. xxxxx

 

The Evil Stepmother

Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Brier Rose….

Most of us have grown up with fairy tales. And thanks to the “child friendly” versions, they are mostly stories where we have a villain, a hero and a happy ending. The villain is almost always hated by the reader and we hope that the “good” will prevail and that the villain will get what they “deserve”.

I was thinking about this the other day, one thing that came to mind was that the villains are very often the evil step mothers but more importantly, I had a bit of an a-ha! moment. Why can’t the villains be our role models? Without the evil bit of course. Here are some thoughts I pondered and how they can be related to you and I.

My ponderings lead me to thinking that the fairy tale villains, or at least the idea of them, is something we can all look up to and learn from (minus all the pure evil stuff, of course).

Villains are INSPIRATIONAL!

Why? Let me tell you…

They are confident; clearly they love themselves to the point of vanity but they do not have any self-image issues, they never doubt the way they look (apart from Snow White’s stepmother, but even then she knew she was beautiful but she just wanted to be the MOST beautiful).

Why can’t we then, the non-evil ones, enjoy self-confidence and self-love, and revel in the unshakable knowledge that we are indeed beautiful and flawless? Feeling these things and behaving in this way, does NOT makes us evil. Or is it, that deep down we feel that it might?

 

They know EXACTLY what they want and will not stop at anything until they get it. They never doubt that they WILL get it and they never doubt that they deserve to get it.They see what they want and they TAKE it.

Do you know what it is that you want? Not many people can answer this question. Some spend years trying to figure it out. But it could be as simple as that what you want most of all is to know what you want. Now, having said that, what’s stopping us from having absolute certainty that we will indeed GET the very thing that we want? We are stopping us. You are in your way and I am in my way. Because the only obstacle between you and your dream is YOU. (I have said this before, there’s even a meme, lol)

Are we using excuses and procrastinating and feeling that we are not worth it and we don’t deserve it? Probably.

But the fact remains, we are the only ones who can take what we want. No one else will do it for us, it will not magically land in our laps. It takes hard work and dedication and also permission to yourself from yourself that it is okay for you to have your wishes granted and that yes, you do deserve it. Ask for it, work for it and then take it. And always remember to say “thank you”.

 

They are certainly not concerned with other people’s opinions of them.

As for the being concerned about the opinions of others, well I have written a few blogs now on that subject but to sum it up: just don’t. You are the only you. No one else is or can ever be you. They are who they are. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but it doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. You always have a choice, you were blessed with free will. Use that gift, don’t waste it.

 

They don’t feel like they owe anyone anything and they certainly do not feel like the world owes them a favour. They know they need to work hard for what they want and they do it without hesitation, without question.

Some of us spend a long time always working hard, doing the right thing, caring for others and we wait and we wait for “our time” for that “something” to happen that will change our lives for the better. We dream of that moment. Sometimes it is all that keeps us going. We think that if we are a good person and do all the right things that it only naturally follows we should be rewarded at some stage, if we are just patient enough.

I used to think like that but now I call bullshit.

I now understand that I am the only one who can ever make a difference in my life, I am the only one who can make that “something” happen and it will never be given to me by an outside source. I am the one who gets to make that CHOICE, the choice to change, the choice to make my life into what I want it to be. Choice/Freewill is the one gift we have been given. There is a reason why it’s that gift and why there’s only the one gift and not more. Because it’s the only gift we will ever NEED. It is the key to everything!

 

They are highly motivated and driven

And you can be too, once you figure out what it is that you want and how to get it.

 

They are smart and intelligent

SO are you

 

Failure is not an option and it’s probably not even a word in their vocabulary

If we all thought we were going to fail, we wouldn’t be bothered starting anything and we would still be stuck in the middle ages with no electricity and we would think that the Earth is flat. Every time you have a perceived failure, it is actually one step closer to your goal. Because that is one option you have now eliminated, one lesson you have learned and something you are not likely to repeat. Say “thank you” for the experience and the lesson and move on. Keep going. Never stop.

 

I’m not going to do a psycho analysis into their mental or emotional states but yes, they do hurt others without any detectable remorse and that’s a bad bad thing. But everything else? How awesome are all the other traits? And the best part is that you don’t have to hurt others, or be pure evil to have all the other traits

IMG_1805

Probiotic

You know how everyone is going on about how “gut health” is important?

Well, that’s because it is 🙂

An excellent probiotic can be beneficial in so many ways.

For example, if I have bread or beer (basically things with yeast), all sorts of funky things happen to my body; but if I have my probiotic I know that those things will be negated.

My eldest used to wheeze and sneeze and cough a lot, so much so that the doctors were suspecting asthma. I gave him a course of probiotics and he’s now okay; still gets the sneezes due to allergies but as soon as they come on, I give him some probiotic.

When the little boys have too much sugar (thank you, Halloween), a probiotic helps balance them out.

Think of how everyone says that your abdominal muscles are your “core strength” when exercising, well your gut health is the core of your healthy body.

The brands you are able to buy at the supermarket and health food shops contain about 25 billion of good bacteria in each dose.

The probiotic I use, contains 30 billion per dose, but even more amazingly, as it travels to your gut, it actually accumulates the good bacteria, so by the time it has arrived at the destination, it actually contains 1.5 TRILLION good bacteria!

Kind of like Pac Man 🙂

Here is the link:

https://www.modere.com.au/ProductDetail/probiotic/?referralCode=644387

 

Modere Probiotic

Love Affair With Your Skin

Modere Skin

 

Here are the reasons why you should begin a love affair with your skin:

  • It is the largest organ in your body, it needs lots of attention and love
  • It keeps you all together, you’d be pretty vulnerable without it. Imagine walking around with no skin
  • It protects your internal organs; otherwise they would be easily hurt and would get infected
  • It protects you from infections and diseases because it acts like a barrier and a shield
  • It gets rid of wastes and toxins, via sweat. Did you know that sweat itself doesn’t actually have a smell? It is the bacteria on the skin that the sweat comes into contact with, that produces the stinkiness.
  • It also produces vitamin D, it’s the only thing that does, and you need your vitamin D to be well and healthy
  • Our skin allows us to feel things. Like hot and cold. And through the nerves it talks to our brain and says things like “that saucepan handle was really hot, I should put my hand on some ice”
  • It’s a thermometer. It helps us regulate our body temperature.
  • It’s waterproof. This is why I always find it amusing when people rush to get out of the rain. A-hem, you are NOT going to melt in the rain, that was the wicked witch of the west!

In short, without our skin, we would be in deep trouble. So we need to be grateful to our skin and show our gratitude by caring about what we put on it and what we expose it to.

I have a SAD

Sad smiley face

Since moving to our little piece of paradise, I have been experiencing emotions which were quite new to me. And not in a good way.

At the beginning, I didn’t take much notice; I put it down to being exhausted from looking after the children without much support and doing “everything” myself.

But the last couple of times “it” happened, was so full on, in my face, that I could ignore it no longer.

I call it “the dark cloud inside me”. What happens is that this overwhelming darkness takes over and I become numb. It feels like everything happens around me, like I am not connected to anything. I feel nothing. A whole day goes past and I realise that my face hasn’t moved. Not a smile for my beautiful babies, not a frown, not a squint, nothing. I don’t care about anything, I don’t react, I am numb. In the morning when I get out of bed, all I can think about is how I can’t wait for the day to be over so that I can get back into bed and not have to deal with anything.

This would happen every couple of months or so, and last between two days to a week.

To be completely honest, at first I thought it would just pass if I ignore it. The last two times were so full on that I still didn’t want to address it because I thought that I might be heading for depression and I didn’t want to deal with that.

But I am a fixer. I needed to get to the bottom of this. I needed to know what was causing it so that I could fix it.

I bit the bullet and spoke to our family therapist. As soon as I described the symptoms, he said “you have SAD”! I had absolutely no idea what he was on about and he explained it to me.

SAD stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder”.  What I understand about it is that it is related to light. Because I have moved further down from the equator, the days are shorter and the light is different. Whilst this condition seems to affect me most during winter, there are people who are affected the most in summer.

It is also thought that people with blue/green/gray eyes are most susceptible.

I felt such a relief that I knew what it was and that it was something I could work with.

So my prescription is: at least 40 minutes per day of sunlight, vitamin D drops and a banana a day (apparently bananas work well to get the magic of vitamin D happening).

My GP also had these words of wisdom: “when it’s happening, just recognise that you are not going to be productive. Let it flow, be kind to yourself, go and get a massage.” (needless to say, the GP is a keeper!)

The main reason I wanted to write about this is basically to raise some kind of awareness. I had never heard of this condition before; there could be so many of us out there who think there is something wrong with them and keep it to themselves (like I did), but in reality it is so important to nip these things “in the bud”; like that funny looking mole or that annoying little lump or anything really that is out of the ordinary.

Avoidance is never the answer. For anything. We must gather the courage and take the step to get these things seen to. More often than not we find that we were worried about nothing and then we have peace of mind. And if it does turn out to be “something” then at least we can begin to address the cause and make it all better. 🙂

Choosing Your Children

That old saying “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family”; most of us will see that and think of our extended relatives we don’t get along with, or our parents we don’t get along with, or whatever. Most of us will NOT look at that saying and relate it to our children.

Friends are people who “get” us, just as we are. We get along with them, we have similar interests or quirks, we enjoy spending time with them. They love us and we love them back; not because we have to but because we want to, we choose to, no strings attached. And sometimes, friendships can come to an end too. People do sometimes grow apart and have different priorities.

Family is a completely other story though, isn’t it? You are “born” into it, you are “married” into it and you “give birth” to it. These people are in your life and you cannot escape the fact that you are related, and you may not like them, or you may truly love them but if they were random people, would they be your friends? Would you choose them to be your friends?

And so it is with our offspring. We do not get to choose their personality traits in advance to make sure we all get along. We get what we are given and we have to make the best of it. (and some days this can be really hard and you may or may not, find yourself sitting in a car park lot crying and asking, why god, WHYYYYYY?)

It is important to recognise that our children are in fact, NOT little extensions of ourselves but independent people in their own right. And we have to make an effort here. A really BIG one.

For example. Madison and I (I’m using her as an example because we are both female). People look at us and call her my “mini-me”. And yes we look very much alike but we aren’t.

Choosing Your Children Blog

Madison is very athletic and adventurous. I always sucked at sports and was too scared to try new stuff.
Madison is very social and has many friends and is popular at school. I only ever had either a group of close friends or everyone hated me, and I was never ever popular.
Madison is messy, I am an OCD freak.
Madison is intelligent but school work is not high on her priorities list. If I didn’t get an A at something, I cried.
We do both, however, carry the clumsy gene. It’s been passed down through many generations. There are numerous funny stories. Not going there right now.
Would my younger self and Madison be friends? I doubt it.
So anyway, back to my point. As Madison’s parent, my only point of reference is myself when I was around that age. And after many months of banging my head against the wall because I totally suck at this parenting thing and why don’t my kids respect me when I had the upmost respect for my elders etc etc etc; I FINALLY realised that my point of reference is all wrong!!!
I cannot compare her to myself at that age or ever, because she is NOTHING like myself at that age or ever! She is her very own individual person. Because something is important to me does NOT mean that it will automatically be important to her. Things that motivate me may not be the same things which motivate her. I had this parenting thing all wrong!
So, what now?
Well, as I always say, awareness is the key. Once you are aware of something, you cannot make it go away or unthink it. It doesn’t go away until you address it. So that’s really cool, I’m glad I have had this a-ha! moment.
What do I really do now? How do I change things? How do I parent in a different way I have never tried before?
Look, I have no idea. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated and welcome. Thanks xx

You and Your Body – Till Death Do You Part

Body weight seems to be an issue which transcends the ages. It seems that people are always “struggling” with their weight and size.

My first issue here is who exactly determines the size and weight an average person should be? Moreover, is there such a thing as an “average” person? Of course, I will look at the media and blame the unrealistic models and photo shop. Then I will go to blame the peer pressure people are put under by the people who believe the media and the photo shop. Then there are the more complex emotional issues. Then we have the medical conditions some people have which affect their weight.

I truly believe that there is no “one size fits all approach”. I believe that every person is meant to be the size THEY are meant to be. I also believe that a person is meant to be different sizes through the different stages in their life. Or not. It’s all individual.

Let me illustrate this point.

I had twin boys. Now, you would think that two babies who shared a womb and a mother, two babies who were fed exactly the same quantities of milk and food would therefore be a very similar size. Well no. My babies are not. Yes, their feet are the same length but not width. Yes, they are both the same height but not girth. They are individuals; their bodies were made to be different shapes and size. This has really brought home to me that grown-ups are all also MEANT to be different. Why would a size 14 person try to be a size 8 when they are MEANT to be a size 14? Why the diets and the tears and the heart break? Let’s blame the media here as well.

Point is, if you are eating a healthy diet and you are healthy and active and fit and your body functions how it is supposed to, then embrace that beautiful body and say “thank you very much”.

Personally, I have been every size from 16 to 8; and personally, I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist or anything like that. But I have done some study and research and I have lived through it, so let me give you my FOUR TIPS on how to ensure your body and your food can have a love affair that never ends.

 

  • Do NOT eat before sunrise or after sunset

Sun time is eat time. Think back to caveman days (yes, I know we have evolved since; back then you couldn’t do anything but sleep when the sun did. The sunlight time was the active time, the eating time, the do stuff time). No sun, meant rest time.

Your body needs to rest and process all the stuff you do to it during the day, including the food you feed it. If you overload your poor liver, for example, it will not let your body absorb all the good stuff out of the food you are eating. Your liver is like a big filter or a processing center. If you go easy on it, it will process the fuel well; taking the nutrients and discarding the bad stuff. If you put it into overdrive by constantly consuming fuel, it will be so busy it will just not have the time to do it’s job properly.

Love your liver so it can show you how much it loves you back.

 

  • Never mix protein and starchy/sugary foods in the same meal

Our body processes these types of foods differently, so what happens when you have them together is that stomach acid that is secreted to digest protein then suppresses starch digestion by ptyalin. And because the sugar is not digested in the stomach, it just sits there and ferments while it is waiting for the starch and protein to digest.

Some examples of foods to avoid eating together include: meat with potatoes or rice, fish and chips, hamburger, nuts and bread, bread with jam or honey, cakes and biscuits (flour and sugar are incompatible).

 

  • Main meal in the middle of the day

I think large breakfasts and large dinners came about with the 9 to 5 work day. Because having a large meal in the middle of the day just wasn’t practical. But your body might just feel differently.  In places like Europe, it is still common practice to have your main meal in the middle of the day.

Your body is designed to digest your food most optimally between the hours of 10am and 2pm.

 

  • STOP eating when full

Key is to always listen to your body. Your body tells you what it needs. So you listen when it tells you it’s hungry and you feed it. In the same way, you need to listen when it tells you it’s full. It doesn’t matter if half of your food is still on your plate. It will make no difference to the starving children in the world if you finish your meal or not (contrary to what your parents might have told you) but it WILL make a difference to your body and your health.

For me, the way I am super sure I am full is when I am eating and my body communicates by sending me a burp. Sure, it’s not polite in social occasions, so you kind of suppress it but it is a sure sign that you need to stop eating.

 

These are my MAIN four tips which I believe make a huge difference.

 

But WAIT! There’s more….I have another four 🙂

 

  • Never drink liquid half an hour before a meal and two hours after a meal (this is to give your body a chance to digest the food correctly)

 Meal

  • In today’s world, unfortunately, soil has been depleted of nutrients that it once contained (this is not the case everywhere in the world but the majority of first world countries) therefore it is an excellent idea to take a nutritional supplement (NOT your general variety from the supermarket, get a good one, you are worth it)

 Supplements

  • The “cleaner” the food is the better for you it is. Avoid processed foods as much as you can. What are processed foods? The ones that come in a packet and have a list of ingredients. An apple is not a processed food because it is an apple. AppleApple juice in a bottle at the supermarket is a processed food because while it may indeed contain apples it also contains other things.Apple Juice

 

  • Drink water. Try to drink water which is free of “things” like the trace chlorine, fluorine and aluminium. Unfortunately you will often find these things in tap water in your kitchen sink. Of course, the best thing would be to get a water purifier or buy purified water but sometimes this is not an affordable option. Have a look at filters which are available on the market or the like. Anything is better than nothing.Water

While it would be great to be able to utilize these tips all the time, I am going to be realistic here and say that we are all human and sometimes life gets in the way of our best laid plans. I am also a great believer in the 80/20 principle in all areas and I think that if you can make changes 80% of the time, it is perfectly okay if for the remaining 20% you do not. Life is meant to be enjoyed not restricted by rules all the time. So live, and be happy and healthy whilst doing so. Cheers 🙂

Wine

 

Why does a bully bully?

As always, I would like to recognise the beauty of being human. The diversity, the uniqueness, the treasure, the freedom to choose.

As such, this article is MY take on the issue. You may not agree. That is okaaaay.

Sometimes not all choices we make are the best ones. And that’s okay. Sometimes though, it’s not okay. Like when the choices we make adversely affect those around us.

To bully is a choice. How we react and respond to bullies is a choice. How we let bullying affect us is also a choice.

This is an “issue” rife in children’s playgrounds as well as in the world of so called adults.

Actually, it is not an issue. It is a symptom. But more about that later.

First, let’s talk about how it feels to be bullied.

It’s not pleasant to be on the receiving end of a bullying attack. As we probably all know, there have been unfortunate incidents where people have taken their own lives because of the amount of bullying they have been the subject of. Makes me angry and I’m sure it makes you angry too.

And there are other cases which happen on a daily basis, which are less extreme but still painful.

To be bullied makes you feel really bad about yourself, makes you doubt your self-worth, decreases your self-esteem, makes you feel scared and physically sick to go to a place where you might by chance encounter your bully.

Why do bullies makes us feel this way?

Because we let them.

We make a choice to allow them.

To borrow a quote from one of my favourite movies: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

If an individual has a strong sense of self worth, is loving and accepting of others, loves oneself and understands that there is no person who is better than them or worse than them, only different; than that person has absolutely no reason to believe the bully and allow them to make them feel inferior. If anything, that person will feel sorrow and compassion for the bully. The bully’s actions speak only of the bully not the person being bullied.

Let me spice this up with a couple of examples.

End of last year, we moved. The kids changed schools. For the very first time in his life, my six year old was bullied. After his dad finally got him to talk about what was happening, my six year old said, all of his own accord: “It’s okay, I know they are doing it because I am the ‘new kid’”. As a parent, my heart broke, but I know that it is something he had to go through and something he was clearly quite prepared to and able to comprehend.

Start of this year, my daughter started high school. Last week, she got bullied by a girl in a grade above hers. She cried, there was drama and we had a talk where we concluded that her “bully” mustn’t have a very happy home life and has a low self esteem. (Madison was mainly doing the talking, she’s really smart)

Secondly, how do we react when we are bullied?

Well, the way I see it, the bully is doing what they do to cause a reaction and gain attention. If neither are achieved, they may persist for a while but will soon move on to a different target (unfortunately).

When Madison was little, I always said to her: “if someone is rude or nasty to you or anything like that, take a breath. Smile sweetly. Say “thank you”. Walk away.”

As this is not the response most bullies expect, they end up completely confused and pause, giving you enough time to move away from them before they keep carrying on.

Unfortunately, sometimes the bullying involves physical violence and then it is not that “easy”. This is what my son went through and what my daughter was threatened with. This is when the “cause” really needs to be addressed and the bully removed. This brings me to my next (and last) point:

Why does a bully bully?

When a person is derogatory to others, what they are trying to achieve is to make others feel “small” and thus make themselves feel “big”.

Why?

This is where I conclude that bullying is a symptom of a cause that is much larger. This is why no matter how hard we try to eliminate the symptom, i.e. the behaviour (think the orange “no bullying days” etc), it will not work unless we focus on the actual cause.

Bullies generally come from a place of low self-esteem, a place of hurt and pain. They do not love them selves, they do not hold themselves in high regard; how can they then be expected to show these things to others? They are searching for something to make them feel good about themselves, for that instant “high”. Instead of turning to drugs or seeking help, they take their frustration out on people around them. They are energy vampires. They take your good energy by making you feel bad about yourself so that they may feel good instead. If only just for a second. It is all they know.

I feel ultimate sadness for people like this. Sometimes I doubt if they even realise how scarring it can be to the people who are on the receiving end of their behaviour. Probably not. But even if they did, would they stop?

Have you sometimes had a REALLY bad day and you were rude to people because you just could NOT be bothered and everything was going wrong no matter what you did? And then maybe a perfect stranger was unexpectedly kind to you? And it made you stop and pause and take a breath and bask in the knowledge that someone could possibly actually care? And it wasn’t all that bad after all?

Imagine if we could do that. Imagine if we all loved ourselves enough to be strong enough to make a choice to not allow others to make us feel inferior. Imagine if we could react to bullies and their behaviour with kindness and love.

Do you think that might make an iota of a difference? Do you realise that even one drop in the ocean can still create a ripple?

 Kindness

This article was also published in the Elephant Journal on 25/03/2015

Post Natal Depression Or Am I Just Normal?

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about Post Natal Depression. It seems to be a disease which is taking over the society or perhaps it’s always been there silently but we are just being a bit more open about it now?

I think like many other diseases, Post Natal Depression is a modern disease, created by the modern society in which we live in today. In my previous blog, I mentioned how “back in the day”, the mother of a newborn got to spend six weeks in bed, just focusing on the newborn child and bonding with it. Today, with so many pressures of other children to care for, immediate family not being available to help, cooking, cleaning, generating an income; it is pretty much unheard of that a new mum would be able to take six weeks out of her schedule and solely focus on the brand new baby.

I truly believe this is where the problem lies. Of course, I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist and I don’t have any kind of a professional degree. However, I am a mother. Of a few children. Let me tell you my stories.

The first time I fell pregnant, I was 23 years old. I was barely more than a child myself. I didn’t particularly like children. When everyone would be fussing around a newborn, I would remove myself; this was because everyone would be going “ooooh, she’s sooooo cute” and I just thought they looked like a wet rat. (I still think this) In a supermarket, I would give a wide berth to any isles containing children. I couldn’t relate to non adult people and I didn’t particularly want to.

So I totally hated every bit of being pregnant. I didn’t like my body being “taken over” by something I had no control over. I wasn’t prepared for all the changes. Sure, I read lots of books, but they don’t prepare you for real life as much as real life does. There were things in there which were conflicting, there were things in there which freaked me out and there were things that should have been in there but weren’t.

And of course, there is nothing to ever prepare you for your first child birth. The pain sucks so bad and the thing is that you can’t make it stop, and you don’t have a choice but to keep pushing because the baby ain’t gonna stay in there until it starts college.

And there always have to be some kind of complications no matter how minor. The first time, Madison was overdue so she pooed in the sac during labour. Luckily, she didn’t breathe it in however she did swallow it. The first poo is tar like and therefore sticky. If the baby breathes it in, it can get stuck in their lungs. This time however, it got stuck in her throat and she wasn’t breathing when she came out. They quickly whisked her away to “fix” her.

Being in a daze from twelve hours of constant pain, I didn’t quite react to anything, so I wasn’t worried. When they brought her to me and put her in my arms for the first time, I looked her and thought, “oh, gross, she’s got blood and white gunk all over her head, didn’t they give her a bath?”

See now, the only “newborns” I had seen were on TV and they all looked clean so naturally, I assumed mine would be as well, how was I to know any different?

Also, I knew nothing about skin to skin contact or breastfeeding. A midwife coming up to me and pinching my nipple to get the colostrum started was my first brush with breastfeeding.

Those early days sucked big time. First of all, I felt absolutely nothing for my first child. All the books said that there would be a “magic bond”. I had no magic or any other kind of bond happening, was I failing?

Breastfeeding sucked and was painful and we were both crying and distressed. Did this mean I was failing?

I had random thoughts pop into my head about all the things I read in books and what causes SIDS. All these scenarios would go through my head of the different ways my baby dies and I failed her and I would cry and cry for hours like it actually happened. Did this mean I was a failure?

In the middle of the night, I would hold my three week old baby as we both struggled to feed her and I knew I wasn’t doing a very good job and I would cry and cry and I would put my head in her lap and cry and feel like I was the worst mother she could have possibly ever chosen because she deserves so much more and for some reason I am not able to give it to her?

And then when she was eleven weeks old and I had to go back to full time work, did I feel like a failure? Just when we finally got happy with the formula and had a routine happening and started the bonding thing, I up and deserted her.

Yes, I felt like a failure with all of the above. I didn’t know what to do about it or that I was, in fact, supposed to do anything about it. Sure, I read somewhere about “baby blues” but that only happened in the first week and I was past that. I heard about post natal depression but that had the word “depression” in it, and I didn’t think I was “depressed”.

Of course the “mother guilt” continued for years as I had to send her to daycare twelve hours a day, five days a week until she started school. I felt so guilty from being away from her and she must have felt so many things that she could not express at such a young age, that the time we did get to spend together was not as good as it could have been.

In retrospect through, and even at the time, while I recognised that I was on an emotional rollercoaster and my mind was playing some very strange tricks on me, I still knew that hormones were a big part of it and perhaps because of my ignorance, I just accepted that it was what it was and I just had to deal with it, in an onwards and upwards fashion. As much as I may have imagined myself giving up on numerous occasions, I knew that in real life, that was simply not an option.

My last pregnancy with the twins was a different yet similar story. The main obstacle I had to overcome was the tyranny of the public health system. You see a twin pregnancy is considered a “high risk” pregnancy, so what the hospital is interested in doing is minimising THEIR risk that anything could go wrong by taking the control away from nature and god/universe, and taking that control themselves. They don’t like to let you full term with a twin pregnancy. They like to “take them” early and put them in an incubator. That is a whole other blog and I will not go into it here.

At the hospital, I was inundated with a 24/7 procession of doctors and nurses and midwives (I would also like to say that midwives are my favourite people in the whole wide world, I love them so much), but at least I got to stay in bed.

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When I got home, my lovely mother in law came and stayed for five days and that was a blessing but when she left, I cried and cried because I didn’t know if I could cope with it all on my own. I was so tired that I would fall asleep while breastfeeding; I would wake up and feel so guilty because what if something happened? What if I had smothered them? What if I had dropped them?

And also the whole looking after two babies instead of one was a new thing as well.

I felt like a failure because after sixteen hours of labour and nine centimetre dilation, I still had to have a caesarean section. I felt like a failure because I nearly bled out on the operating table and died and left them without a mother.  I felt like a failure because my nipple got so sore that I would cry when I was feeding them and it wasn’t until after I stopped that I realised I had a blocked milk duct. What if I had realised this sooner and could have continued breast feeding for longer?

I doubted myself because I insisted on always keeping them together and never separating them. Would they be okay in the same cot, I mean what about SIDS? Will I fail them? What if they die and it’s all my fault? And the dying scenarios started again. And everyone was dying. All the kids, my husband, me. I wept for us all.

And should I feel guilty because the twins have now changed my life, and ended my career as I know it? Would I blame them for that later and will that make me a bad mother?

I don’t think it matters how many kids you have had or what you do, this will just happen.

The reason I am sharing all of this is because I want the mothers and the fathers out there to know that:

  1. You are not the only person this happens to
  2. There is NOTHING wrong with you
  3. Trust your instincs
  4. Yes, you CAN get through this
  5. If you can stay in bed for 40 days with your newborn child, PLEASE do so
  6. You are perfectly normal
  7. You are the very BEST mother/father your child could EVER have, that is why they chose YOU

Caustic Soda….Chemical Misunderstood

Caustic Soda or Lye or Soduim Hydroxide is a highly toxic chemical. There is no two ways about that.

From personal experience, I was using the granules mixed with water to unblock the drains. I accidentally dropped TWO drops of it on my leg and it started burning through my flesh before I could get my leg under the tap to rinse it off. Over a year later, and the two marks are still on my leg, not healed properly.

I found this really interesting bit about it on Wikipedia: “sodium hydroxide is used to digest tissues, such as in a process that was used with farm animals at one time. This process involved placing a carcass into a sealed chamber, then adding a mixture of sodium hydroxide and water (which breaks the chemical bonds that keep the flesh intact). This eventually turns the body into a liquid with coffee-like appearance, and the only solid that remains are bone hulls, which could be crushed between one’s fingertips.]Sodium hydroxide is frequently used in the process of decomposing roadkill dumped in landfills by animal disposal contractors. Due to its low cost and availability, it has been used to dispose of corpses by criminals. Italian serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli used this chemical to turn dead bodies into soap. In Mexico, a man who worked for drug cartels admitted disposing over 300 bodies with it.”

Scary enough but it is also used in food preparation. For softening olives, for making German Pretzels crispy and in the yellow coloured chinese noodles, to name a few.

Caustic Soda is also used in soap making.

HOWEVER

If you recall some of the science experiments you may have done in high school, when you combine an acid with an alkaline you get a neutral result. And so, in soap making, when you mix the caustic soda (acid) with fat or oil (alkaline), you get a neutral result. Actually, what you end up with is glycerine which gives the soap soothing properties.

“Back in the day”, soap makers didn’t quite always get the ratio right and used too much lye. The excess lye then formed pockets in the soap which burned the skin on contact.

Pretty much all handmade soaps these days use lye unless it is a liquid soap, which uses potassium hydroxide, which is a form of lye anyway.

Nowdays, with most commercially produced soaps, glycerin (the byproduct of mixing lye with oils or fats) is removed from the actual soap and used for other products. This is a real shame because glycerin has soothing properties and is excellent for dry skin.

This is one of the main reasons I always recommend using handmade soaps as opposed to commercially manufactured soaps which are also likely to contain other nasties as well.

There is also just one more thing to mention. There are three types of lye: Diaphragm Cell (uses Asbestos), Electrolysis (uses Mercury) or Membrane (membrane). The membrane process seems to have the least environmental impact so if you can, inquire about that from the place you purchase your soap.

Unfortunately, because caustic soda has such a bad reputation and is widely misunderstood, when labeling their products, soap makers sometimes don’t put it on the list of ingredients. So for example, they have an option to list ingredients BEFORE the process of saponification which would look like: olive oil, water, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda/lye) OR they can choose to list the ingredients AFTER the process of saponification which would look like this: sodium olivate. So, the same ingredients but before and after a chemical reaction they have different names.

I have covered misconceptions before, like “citric acid” and we all go “oh,noooo” but if “lemon juice” is used instead, we all go “oh that’s fine”. In this case we still go “caustic soda, oh nooo” but we need to understand that after being mixed with the alkaline fats or oils, it becomes neutralized and it’s caustic soda no more.

So. Try and avoid commercially produced soaps as much as you can, and go the handmade soaps. Still, always make sure you check out those ingredients just in case something is hiding in there, and if you are able to, ask the soap maker if they use the MEMBRANE lye.

Personally, I use the Clear Conscience Soap Company soaps, I love them so much on so many levels and if I had a shop I would stock the full range. I know they are more than open to discussing overseas shipping if you do not live in Australia. Please have a look at the website and you will see that all of the ingredients are listed and nothing is hidden. Not only that but they smell delicious and they are wonderful for the skin.

As always, I welcome your feedback and questions about this topic or any other. Thank you for reading x

 

Alice

Today I would like to talk about Alice.

(no, not the song, although I do love the song)

This Alice.

Alice

To me, Alice represents “the village”, the support, the family, the friends; all those things which help a parent raise a child. Because yes, parents DO NEED HELP.

We are probably all familiar with the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. That saying is a saying for a reason.

For generations, child rearing has been something which was done not only by the parents but by the grandparents and the aunts and the uncles and the family friends and by the peers. The mother would be on complete bed rest for 40 days after birth, required to do nothing more than bond with the baby. The family would take care of the rest. And there was absolutely no guilt attached to this whatsoever.

It was quite reasonable for a mother, who stayed home caring for her children, to have “someone” come and help a few times a week. Like you know, clean the bathrooms and the floors and dust and iron and stuff like that. This was not seen as failure, this was seen as normal.

Mrs Brady, of course, was the luckiest of the bunch, to have Alice live with her full time and run the household so that all Mrs Brady needed to concentrate on was charity work, idle chit chat and children’s squabbles. Oh and always looking well groomed, of course.

And “back in those days”, children were well behaved, well mannered, respectful to adults and knew their place. Not all of course, but I’m going to say it must have been the majority because that is how it is represented these days. All I hear about is the good old days and the “young people of today” not having any respect and behaving like the world owes them a favour.

Let’s have a look at parents today as a comparison, shall we?

More often than not the family unit is the parents and the children. The grandparents and the rest of the extended family are all over the country, if not all over the world. More often than not, the mother has to go back to work weeks after the baby’s birth. More often than not, she is out of bed days after childbirth, cleaning the house, doing the washing, cooking and looking after other children. We rely on childcare to look after our children while we work long hours so that we could pay for that childcare. The notion of having an Alice on one income makes the mind boggle!!!!

So we have these children whose parents are stressed out from before they are born. Breastfeeding or formula? Disposable nappies or cloth nappies? Does mum stay at home or does she work? Is it even a question? Does dad stay at home and mum goes to work? If it’s childcare, which childcare? We are made to feel guilty by the society regardless of which decision we make.

And the kids end up in day care for long hours every day because the parents are trying to make ends meet; and they are irritable and they can’t tell us why. And the little time the parents do get to spend home between work and commute to and from, instead of spending it reading their children stories and kissing their fat little fingers and toes and giving them bubble baths; the parents have to spend that time getting ready so they can repeat the whole process the next day. And they miss out on the every day things, the falls and the smiles and the tears and the a-ha moments because someone else is looking after their child, someone who probably cares a lot, but not as much as mum and dad ever would.

And then we wonder why they grow up distant and aloof and thinking that life is unfair?

Or, if a parent chooses to stay at home and rear the children on their own with no help because the family is unavailable, how does that work? When you have to clean and wash and cook and help with homework and be a taxi and a bank and a budget advisor and a savvy shopper and a dietician and a nurse and a confidante and a bargain hunter and the payer of bills and organiser of parties and the cupcake maker and the dog walker and the dog poopy picker uperer and the last minute everything? Not to mention be a wife/husband, a friend, a daughter/son, a sister, a brother? How about personal sanity and a moment for yourself? Like going to the toilet without an audience? You know, the little things.

One could say that as a stay at home parent you could “get organised” and “follow a routine”. Really? Nothing quite disrupts routine like a child taking their nappy off without you noticing (since you are busy being all of the above, you are not able to watch your children like a hawk every second) and then the said child proceeds to poo and pee sporadically not only all over the inside of the house but also the concrete outside as you discover some time later when it’s all dried up and you need to get the chisel out. There is nothing like the time later on the same day when you are in a room and although you have thoroughly cleaned it, you still can’t help but notice a particular smell. Then you go on a hunt on your hands and knees for the source of this particular smell because you cannot rest until it is located. After some time you realise that innocent looking raisin over there is in fact not a raisin at all.

So what I’m saying is routine is all good and well as a concept, but the reality is very VERY different. “Best laid plans of mice and men”; great book, very tragic but it helps put the concept across.

I remember reading in the Celestine Prophecy that we are meant to have one child per adult so that they are given all the attention they need to develop into a really cool adult. “What a great concept!” I thought at the time. L O L

Now I have five children fighting for my attention at the same time. And I mean fighting. And this could possibly be while I am on the toilet, on the phone, in the shower, cooking with hot oil, baking things in the hot oven…they can strike at any given time….it is never safe to relax…

Quite often I find myself at the shop buying milk in the mornings dressed in my pyjamas. Sure, the mornings can start off well organised. And then, you know, one thing leads to another and I realise while paying for the said milk, that my teeth are a bit on the furry side.

Even as I write this, William is climbing on my back waving my laptop case in the air (because he IS Batman!) and Phoenix has got the vacuum AND the broom out in the lounge behind me and is trying to knock down the objects he can’t reach with the broom. (I think he must have tried the vacuum cleaner first, but it must have been too heavy)

So, understandably, there are times when I will say to my husband “dear, I need an Alice”. And he will lovingly reply, “dear, we can’t afford an Alice”.

I don’t know what the answer is, I really don’t.

All I know is that I am doing the best that I can and the best I know how. And if the kids have thrown their bowls of pasta all over the floor and I let the dogs in to clean it up, don’t judge me. I choose not to judge me. My OCD cleanliness standards have gone out the window a long time ago. I want to be able to sit and kiss each and every one of those little fat toes and fingers while they are still little. And I want to snuggle up and watch a gazillion episodes of Batman, because Batman is cool and I do love those snuggles!

Yes, I will make sure I pick up each and every one of those raisins but if the day gets away from me, I will not feel guilty for feeding my children toast and tea.

I know I will never be able to give them all the attention they need all of the time but I will give them all of my love all of the time.

I know they can be naughty and I should discipline them better but sometimes I just don’t have the strength so I just don’t (even though I know it will come to bite me on the arse later).

There are days when I am just so exhausted and I feel like the weight of the whole world, past present and future, rests on my shoulders and I just want to run far far away and hide and pretend I’m a tree.

There are days when I want to paint my nails and let them dry before I have to go and do something.

Every day I wish I could actually finish one cup of coffee before I am interrupted.

Parents everywhere will say, “oh, but the REWARDS are so worth it!!!”. Kiss my arse. The rewards are NOT going to mean jack shit to me if I run myself into the ground and end up sick or depressed because I have failed to take the time to look after ME properly.

So, in a nutshell, Mrs Brady had it right. And I want, no I NEED an Alice. And so do you.

Mrs Brady and Alice

Not being able to have extended family around is sometimes due to geographical reasons but sometimes they can also be people you don’t want to be around with (let alone have them around your child); whatever the reason, you always get to choose who your Alice is.

Now I just have to figure out a way for every parent to be able to afford an Alice…maybe it will work like fashion styles do? They all come back. So maybe the concept of actually having and needing and getting and not feeling guilty about having help with the household chores will come back into fashion too?

Life and Curveballs

I have an urgent need to apologise to my friends, my readers for going completely MIA for the past few months. It has been “full on” to say the very least.

Life does, indeed, throw us many curve balls along the way, I guess this is how we learn and grow and gain strength and perspective.

One of the main reasons I have not written of late, is that I have been experiencing a feeling of “flat”. It is something which does not happen to me very often at all, so it took me by surprise and I was not sure exactly what I should do to make it stop. I felt that if I wrote when I was feeling that way, that it would not be my true self writing and whatever I did write would not be authentic and me.

Some of my friends said that it was just the reason that I should write, to make others aware that it is okay to “be flat”, lol! The thing is, that writing is what I love doing most, and all I could think about was writing and I was getting increasingly frustrated that I just could not make myself sit down and just write.

But I’m here now and that is all that matters. Finally, I made it 🙂

So…what has been happening?

Well, we were living in sunny Queensland, in the middle of nowhere but our lease was about to run out in July and we weren’t sure what our next step was.

The reason for this was that my husband’s employer kept saying that they wanted him to relocate to Newcastle but they couldn’t say when or if for sure.

At the same time, Forrest, our eldest, came back to live with us. And again, we could not enrol him at school because we didn’t know where we would be living and the end of term was drawing near. So, I got to home school him. Yay! Good times 🙂

And, of course, because I am a super organised control freak, I started packing all the things we weren’t using every day, getting slowly ready for the inevitable move.

The situation had us in limbo. I did not like being in that place at all. I function well with dates, goals, lists and generally the full knowledge of what is going on. To say I was out of my comfort zone would be a gross understatement.

Anyway, we had to let the real estate know our plans (which we didn’t have) so that they could make plans and we set the moving date as the end of August. We decided we would move to Brisbane and stay with family until we knew exactly what was going on with Billy’s work. I was adamant that I did NOT want to move to Newcastle. I didn’t know anyone there, all of our families were in Brisbane/ Queensland and I would have absolutely no support with five children if we were to move to Newcastle.

But at least now I had dates and I could get on with what I do best: organising!

So, I organised the movers and the pest control and the cleaners and all that jazz. Finally, I was on a mission!

And then, on the weekend before our move, we got a phone call that Forrest’s mum had an accident and was in a critical condition at the hospital. Of course, Billy and Forrest got in the car straight away and drove the four hours to the hospital in Brisbane. As much as I would have wanted to go as well, I did have to stay behind with the four children and the two dogs.

A couple of days later, she died.

Naturally, there was no way I was going to miss the funeral as well, so I knew I had to get a move on. The movers were scheduled for that Thursday and it was very late on Tuesday afternoon that I found out that the funeral had also been scheduled for that Thursday. Before panic set in, I called the movers, who could indeed make it over…. the next morning!!!!!

Then the panic truly set in. I had less than ten hours to pack up the whole house, the kids, everything!

So I sat down and did something I very rarely do. I cried. Then I cried some more.

Then I went to get wine. But I packed all the glasses and the cups. Never the one to be unclassy and drink out of a bottle, I drank out of the only other vessel available: baby plastic sippa cup.

Wine in a plastic cup

I had friends calling me from all over the place offering to come and help, and I was so very touched by their kindness. It’s funny how in the midst of all that mayhem a kind act or a kind word can just make you stop for a minute and put it all into perspective.

Anyway, here is a photo of the damn trampoline. It is the one with the sides. Billy was meant to disassemble it (one of his three jobs for the move) but then he wasn’t there so I had to. I figured after taking the sides and the legs off, that it could just go into the truck. Then I rolled it up against the garage and realised this was not possible and yes, I really did have to go ahead and take the springs off, one by one. This is why.

Trampoline

And also, thank god for my beautiful neighbours, who came over with their weed cutting things and lawn mowers and ride on lawn mowers and tidied up the lawn and mowed an acre’s worth of grass.

So, that night, I managed to move everything into the garage and only leave the big furniture in the house. I had two trucks coming the next morning.

Moving 3 Moving 2 Moving 1

In the morning, I did a trip to the dump on the way to school, dropped off Madi and Rahn at the school, went home and helped pack up two twenty foot containers. I also packed my car to the brim and after cleaning up, was left with a bag full of rubbish which poor Rahn had to have on his lap while I drove around to find a wheelie bin to put it into after school.

Of course, it all happened so suddenly that they didn’t have the time to say good bye to their friends properly and Madison managed to leave a heap of stuff at the school.

So, we got to Brisbane that night, went to the funeral next day and then back to limbo land.

I had enrolled Madison and Rahn at the school at the Gold Coast they previously attended, to make it all a bit easier since they already had friends there. Forrest, of course, was in no state to go to school at that stage.

Billy and I went to Newcastle to have a look around since we had never been there before, and we found a couple of houses that were suitable, however, I still deep down really did not want to live there.

The bottom line was though, that if Billy was to accept the promotion which has been offered to him and take advantage of the growth that would provide for his career, which he had worked so very hard for, we simply had to move.

I realised that. But I would still wake up in a panic in the middle of the night. Every night.

And then.

Billy went to Newcastle for a business trip and while he was there, he had a look around at some other houses.

He found a house in a place called Fingal Bay. It is actually over an hour away from his office, so we never looked this far out. But this house….it’s like a doll’s house and it is 450 meters away from the beach. When I lie in bed at night, I can hear the waves breaking on the shore.

So we have been here for about six weeks now and the kids are settled at school and there is some kind of a normalcy coming back into our lives and I am finally starting to get over the “flat” feeling.

I think that the amazing thing is that if you have faith and trust (or FaT, thank you Amanda) then you know it will all work out in the end, and that all things indeed have a purpose.

The amount of love and support and kind words I have had from my friends all over the world has been so very overwhelming and sometimes made me feel guilty because I just didn’t have the strength to reply to their messages straight away, but they meant SO much to me. Thank you xxxx

So, in conclusion, I am back and I am sorry and I thank you 🙂 xxxx

Healthy Armpits

Non toxic all natural Deoderant

Ah, the things I do for you….

In my never-ending search to find the products which are safe and effective for you and your family, I have discovered the “Healthy Armpits” deodorant from Simple ChemistryNon toxic all natural Deoderant

This deodorant was developed by Erika, who has been in the natural health industry for quite some time. It only has five ingredients. They are all safe. You could probably eat them if you wanted to. (please don’t)

It’s a bit different because it comes in a pot and you have to get a bit on finger and rub it onto your armpit. Because it has coconut oil in it, the consistency changes, so you might find in the warmer weather it gets a bit runny, in which case you just pop it in the fridge.

Erika advises not to put it on straight after shaving, as the baking soda in it may sting your armpits. However, I consider myself the guinea pig in the interest of the world at large, so I did apply it straight after shaving and it did not sting. Having said that, once I had a cut on my finger when I got some out and when it got onto my cut, yes it stung! This leads me to a conclusion that it probably stings your armpits if you cut them when shaving or perhaps if you have sensitive skin.

Alright, now. We HAVE to sweat. ( I’m pretty sure we covered this before.) Our bodies get rid of the nasties by sweating, so it is a natural and much needed process. The thing which makes our sweat smelly is the bacteria on our skin. The sweat itself doesn’t smell.

So. Personal experience here. I run around quite a bit after all the kids and also as I live in quite a warm area, every time I hang the washing out, for example, I sweat because my washing line is in direct sunlight.

When I normally become aware that I stink is when I am putting the twins down for a nap. I lie down between them and put my hands under my head. As I do this, I become aware of the smelliness of my armpits and quickly put my arms down before my poor children pass out from the fumes.

So when I started using “Healthy Armpits”, this was the time when I noticed a difference. Lied down, put my arms up, remembered that oh no, I should really put my arms down, and then…hang on, why? My armpits do not smell!! Yay!!!

Not only is the smell gone, I have also noticed a great reduction in wetness. Of course it is not an antiperspirant but I think that the baking soda may have something to do with absorption.

It also, does not stain your clothes once you have rubbed it all in (you only need a small amount, less than a five cent piece) and the smell is not overpowering. It smells lovely, like sweet orange, but if you are wanting to wear an actual scent as well, this will not overpower it.

I am really blown away by this product and so grateful to Erika for creating it and also helping change this planet to a happy healthy one.

You can now buy this wondrous deodorant online here.

 

This is my new favorite thing, I am predicting this is going to be HUGE!!!

 

To Gay Or Not To Gay

First of all, thank you my beautiful Belle, for sharing this article on the FB.

If you read it, you will see that it is a beautiful blog written by a mother of an infant boy to her future daughter in law. It is lovely and heartfelt and just gorgeous.

But it got me thinking, what if her son is gay?

Are we raising our children with a predisposition that they are straight? Is that the society norm? And if it is, then it truly is no wonder that it is to this day difficult for some straight people to accept the very existence of gay people.

I am only too well aware that as parents, we are told so many things about the right and wrong ways of raising our children. Of the “do’s” and the “don’ts”. All the well meaning advice. Kids don’t come with a manual, I get that.

As parents, we do the very best we know how when it comes to raising our children, but where do we learn that “how”? Do we allow our hearts to guide us or do we listen to the society a bit too much?

Do we say things like “oh look at little Timmy! He is such a little man! He will grow up to make some lovely girl a wonderful husband!” or “gee, look at little Mimmi! That dress is so pretty on her, she will make a gorgeous bride one day!”

We are pre conditioning our children into a behaviour where to be straight is the way to be, and anything out of that norm, needs to be “discussed”.

It is exactly same with racism. A person cannot control their sexuality anymore than the colour of their skin, eyes or hair.

When we judge (oh, so easily), we don’t stop and think of what it is like to be in that person’s shoes. (The person we are judging, that is.) How they are afraid to express who they are because discrimination is everywhere. Will their friends still like them? (well, yes if they are real friends) Will they lose their job? Will they get randomly beaten up and abused? What if that person was your child? Or your sibling? Or friend? Or whatever? Ultimately, that person is someone’s child.

So what I am saying is, as a parent, I am striving to raise my children with as much love as I can possibly give them so that they may grow into loving people. I have no control over whether they will play rugby (well, yes that I do, I don’t allow rough sports cause I can’t stand my babies to be hurt. Okay that’s a lie. I WISH they wouldn’t play contact sport because I don’t like to see them get hurt, but I WILL get over it), play the piano, dance in a cabaret, design space rockets, heal animals, write stories, turn into great cooks and I certainly have no control over their sexuality.

Society makes it hard to be “outside the norm”. Who is society? I am. And you are. We are the only ones who can change the “norm”. I don’t give a flying fuck if all of my five kids are gay but I sure as hell do not want them growing up in a judgemental, non-accepting society where they have to live in fear.

And it’s not just gay or homosexual. I am so ignorant (because it really makes no difference to me as to how I see people) but there are lots of different terms for non-straight people. I have been blessed to have a small glimpse and understand just how complicated it is to be a transgender person (love you, TravisJ) and I am probably insulting a whole lot of people here without meaning to, so I will stop.

What I am saying here is, we should not put OUR views onto our children. Raise them to ask questions so that they can make up their own minds. They are gifts, given to us for safe keeping and for loving. It is not our job to control them or make them into little “mini-me’s”. They are separate, independent, people with their very own identities. We should respect and nurture that.

Peace out

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5 Easy Tips on Living Healthy and Happy Lives

This week, I am so proud to bring you an article by our lovely guest, Zoe Swain. She REALLY knows her stuff and I would strongly encourage you to take on board what she has to say. You can read more about Zoe and what she does at the end of the article. Enjoy! 🙂

 

If you were to ask me what the keys to staying young, vibrant, disease-free, and happy were, I would give you the following outline:

 

  1. Alkalinize your diet and stop cooking your food. (Cooking foods above 40degC kills the nutrients and enzymes in our food, and enzymes are THE most important player when it comes to health.)
  2. Drink healthy water (un-fluoridated/chlorinated) spring/filtered water
  3. Get lots of negative ions (these are in the air we breathe outside)
  4. Exercise daily (in order to pump the lymph, and increase negative ions)
  5. Get adequate minerals into your cells

 

This article I am writing is going to focus on #5 – getting enough minerals into your cells (and also making sure #2 is covered also – hydration).

 

Firstly, let’s cover #2.  How much water are you drinking, and what is the QUALITY of the water???  Yes, quality.  Is your water filtered/spring/chlorinated/fluoridated??

 

Fluoridation is proven to actually draw calcium and other minerals OUT of your body, so if you are on town water that is treated, be sure to get yourself a great filter that will take away the fluoride and chlorine and other baddies.

With regards to quantity of water; you should daily be drinking around 2L ’minimum’ for ladies of any size, and 2.5L/3L for men.  I don’t know of a single person who can say they drink ‘too much’ water in the day, and I know most people struggle with getting a lot of water into their systems.  I will also go as far as to say that if we ALL drank enough water our medical system would be possibly very close to non-existent.

 

Dehydration leads to cell death; i.e. the more our bodies are starved for water, the greater the number of cells that die… The more cells that die, the more likely you are to attract disease, and of course early death.

Imagine if I told you that a cure to so much of your ill-health is FREE and comes right from the sky above us??  (There, I said it!)

Are you taking advantage of your FREE healthcare??

 

Now, getting onto #5…

It is a fact that dehydration still can occur even when you are drinking plenty (and more) of water.  WHAAAAAT??  Yes, many people who are drinking a lot of water are still suffering all of the signs of dehydration, and this is due to the fact that the water is not making it into their cells.  Confused yet?

 

Let me explain a little more….

Cells require water in order to function correctly.  Also, it is the trace minerals found in Himalayan salt/sea salt that actually pull water into your cells.  So, this means that in order for us to be hydrated and have water making it into our cells, we need the trace minerals that are found in Himalayan or sea salt.  Comprendé??

 

Minerals, and hence water, getting into cells creates an alkaline pH and maximum cell volume, at the same time as providing enzyme co-factors necessary to activate each enzyme.  Without this going on, our enzyme can deplete, and enzyme depletion is directly related to decreased DNA function (yes, we can rewrite our DNA makeup through our diet and mental wellbeing choices) and decreased life span.

 

Now, another thing you will want to know (especially all of you gorgeous women creatures) is that all hormone function is electrical, and (the correct type of) salt in the body means that the ‘software’ of the systems of the body can communicate and interact properly.  Simply put, without salts, our hormones go crazy!  Are you starting to get the picture?

 

Now, I did mention above that Himalayan or sea salt is best, and I will explain this really simply.  Table salt has a chemical agent in it called ‘anti-caking agent’ (so it pours easily and doesn’t clump together) and is more highly processed than natural sea salts, so the trace minerals are lost from it.  Sea/Himalayan salt still has the trace minerals in tact, and you can get the required amounts of sodium and potassium needed for optimum health (very little) from these salts.

Most people on a regular ol’ processed, meat and dairy diet are getting waaaaay too much sodium and not enough potassium on a daily basis.  This once again, funnily enough, leads to dehydration of the cells, premature aging, clogged arteries, and much more.

 

Sodium levels need to be kept under 1500mg/day (no more than ¾ teaspoon, daily), and potassium levels need to be around 4500mg/day for an average adult.  Potassium is in traces in natural salt, but mostly we should be able to get it from the foods we eat.  For instance, a medium potato yields over 1000mg of potassium, and a medium sized banana yields around 500mg.  In my own personal diet, I would have the recommended amount of potassium in my daily diet before the afternoon each day.   I eat 10-15 bananas a day, as well as a huge array of other fruits and veg that are mega rich in potassium.

 

 

If you eat any foods like potato chips/crisps (from a bag), takeaway meals, packaged food, salted meat cuts, then there is a high chance you are going over your daily maximum safe level of sodium already.  It is a step in the right direction to cut out the packaged foods and takeaway so that you can cut back your sodium levels (and of course fats and sugars that are packed into those things).  For me, I probably only bring in around 500mg of sodium per day as I eat a vegan diet which is mostly raw, and I don’t indulge in processed foods if I can avoid it (which mostly I can).

 

For those of us who are not getting enough potassium in their diet (not enough fruits and veg), and who are also getting possibly too much sodium, here are some healthy tips.

 

  1. cut out junk/takeaway/processed foods – period.  Foods that have ingredients in them that you cannot read – or don’t know what they may be derived from – are a no go (if you want health in your life).
  2. 2.                   Keep an eye on labels – if your chocolate bar/sandwich/juice has a sodium content of more than 500mg/100gm then you don’t want it.  Just think ‘salty shit-storm’/clogged up arteries/dry bowel movements!! Oh the joys!
  3. If you don’t eat salt at all or work out a lot, or you are an athlete (or even just sweat a fair amount), then you will want to supplement your potassium/sodium levels with trace minerals and/or natural salts.  This might mean a ¼ tsp of natural salt in your 1L bottle of water before lunch, and again after lunch.

I personally find (as do my clients and other nutritionist gurus that I work with on a regular basis) that when I have this ¼ tsp in my water, my strength in training goes up exponentially, my heart rate recovers to normal a lot quicker than anyone around me at a similar fitness level, and recovery time is cut in quarters.  With a teeny bit of natural salt (sodium and potassium) in our bodies, we are able to have MEGA boosts in our power, strength, and endurance.  How utterly wonderful!!  Oh and don’t forget the hormone function benefits too!

 

 

In reflection of everything I have written above, a pinch of Himalayan or sea salt and 10 trace mineral drops in a liter of water a day will help to alkalinize your body, ‘electrify’ your cells and of course, provide optimum hydration levels for enzyme function.

 

Oh and don’t forget that it is best to drink water ‘away’ from meal times.  Drinking at meal times will make it harder for your stomach acids to break down foods, and lead to disadvantaged digestion.

 

If you would like more information on the above or just want to check out the benefits of eating Raw, head on over to www.RawSkinny.com.au and grab some FREE recipes, tips and goodies

 

Raw Skinny

Zoe Swain is a country girl, born and bred.  She was born in Townsville, North Queensland and was raised on cattle and sheep grazing properties in Northern and Far Northern QLD. 

 

Between finishing year 12 and commencing University studies, she travelled to the USA, and from that year onwards, she embraced vegetarianism, against all wishes of her family and friends.  Since then, she has always ‘looked into’ health, and searched for different ways of ‘finding’ health for herself, via food and exercise. 

 

Having been brought up on cattle and sheep stations, she has always been a horse rider, and this led her to winning many Australian championships in her sport, as well as having the opportunity to compete on the World stage in 2009, and winning.  She nowadays has 9 horses and still competes throughout the year, but a lot of her time is taken up with her two kids, and her coaching.  She has always loved sport, and went on to running her first half-marathon in December last year at ‘The Entrance” in NSW. 

 

These days she lives on a property at Gunnedah, NSW, with her husband and two children 6, and 3, and life is very different.  She is nowadays a Raw Food Coach, after having found Raw Food via a friend of hers in New Zealand who had been ‘into’ it for some years.   Zoe’s son suffered very bad asthma when he was young, and this was also an instrumental part of her decision to move towards a much more natural lifestyle, embracing Raw Foods.

 

In business, Zoe specializes in helping women by simplifying their lifestyle via the food they eat, increasing their happiness, losing weight, increasing energy, and gaining the life they have always wanted (without creating more work in the kitchen).    She is the founder of the ‘Raw Skinny’ brand, and has helped many women, via her program, with curing diseases, losing incredible amounts of weight, and in general totally turning their lives around. 

 

Zoe loves to run, bike, ride horses and do yoga at any opportunity, but she also knows that via the wonderful powers of raw food, you don’t need to exercise much in order to have optimum health and stay youthful and happy.

 

 

 

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Laundry Powder – Safe Alternatives

Following my blog about laundry powder, I have had a few readers ask about safe options.

So.

There are some links on the actual blog and some of these can be found in your local supermarkets (again, it would depend on the supermarket) and health food shops.

There are also other alternatives.

I have mentioned that you can “make your own”.

Here is a simple recipe that you can find on http://www.instructables.com/id/Home-Made-Laundry-Detergent/

2 bars of soap, 1 cup of washing soda crystals/borex and 1 cup baking soda.

Grate the soap, mix all together and store. Use about 2 to 3 tablespoons per load.

When it comes to soap, I would of course, only use the non toxic variety 🙂

Another alternative, provided by the lovely Katie from Clear Conscience Soap Company is to grate one of their soaps (and they do have the MOST wonderful soap) and use a table spoon full in the wash.

I would also like to add that putting white vinegar in the “fabric softener” compartment is a cool thing to do. It rinses your clothes from any residue and potential odours (I use this heavy duty when I am having to wash sheets after a night time “accident”)

And  then of course, people say to me, yeah whatever but what do YOU use?

Well, I do tend to make my own and that is mostly because I like to know what is in it. Like, exactly what is in it. It is very difficult to find a laundry detergent these days which has all of the ingredients listed on the packaging. I am sure a lot of the companies have nothing to hide but are just simply not required to list the ingredients. Having said that, though, if there is nothing to hide, then why not just list them?

There are times, of course, when I have run out or don’t have all the required ingredients on hand. Then this one is my back up. Not only is it safe for your skin and the environment but it is also safe for your clothes. It has in built sun protection so that your clothes don’t fade in the sun. It is also designed to work with the sun to get rid of any stains.

Lastly, Chelsea from the Trevallan Lifestyle Centre also wrote about this recently, you can have a read of what her thoughts and recommendations are here.

 

As always, your feedback and questions are things I look forward to the most, so don’t be shy 🙂

My plan…..

Most often I get my very best ideas just as I am about to fall asleep at night. In the morning, sometimes they come back to me and sometimes not.

This time, it came back and I am running with it!

It has come to my realisation (new term, just made it up) that although I have been fortunate in my life to forge strong, lasting friendships that have indeed, lasted a lifetime (and you can read about those here), I have also been rather closed with my emotions deep inside. You know the old, well if I don’t give away too much of myself then there is less likelihood to be hurt or taken advantage of?

Well, approximately a couple of years ago, I had thrown this notion to the wind and started allowing myself and my inner control freak to let go and to not only give all my love but to also receive it. Trusting that “if something was not meant to be then that is perfectly okay but that I gave it all I had anyway”.

As a result, in this time, I have had so many beautiful, strong, and authentic women appear in my life and I feel truly blessed.

And as I was lying in bed last night, thinking about all this and how wonderful it is to be on the receiving end of this wonder, I thought about my dear daughter.

She had recently written a blog about her best friend and how much she appreciates having her in her life.

And I thought to myself, hey, that is what I will do. I will write a blog about each of these women and tell them how grateful I am that they are in my life. (please don’t tell anyone I am copying an eleven year old or I will just never be cool again)

So what is to follow is a “series of gratitude blogs”. I am a fan of this idea, so glad I didn’t forget it in my sleep, lol!

Laundry Powder

When we think of our skin and what we put on it, things that instantly come to mind are moisturiser, make up, sunscreen, shampoo and so forth. But what about our clothes? If you live in a country where clothing is required (you know, so you don’t get arrested if you go out in public naked) then you more than likely wear clothes. And let me go one step further by saying that you probably wash those clothes too! 🙂

I don’t wear clothes to bed, I hear you say…. But you sleep on sheets and blankets, don’t you? And I hope you wash them! Don’t forget those towels when you give yourself a good scrub to get dry after a shower or bath.

What do you wash your clothes with? Laundry powder or laundry liquid? You think it all magically disappears off your clothes through the “rinse” cycle? Think again.

Where does the water go once it’s washed and rinsed your clothes? In our waterways or in your back yard, if you have a gray water system.

Just to reiterate. You wash your clothes with laundry detergent, which stays on your clothes as a residue, then you cover the majority of your body with those clothes. Before you put on your clothes, what is your body covered with? Skin. Skin is the largest organ of our body and it absorbs things you put on it. If you haven’t read my article about skin, read it here.

So, I think we can agree now that laundry cleaning is rather an important part of our everyday lives. Let’s talk about why this seemingly innocent every day activity can be so very dangerous.

The majority of your supermarket, off the shelf laundry detergents contain some pretty nasty ingredients. Let’s get technical! 🙂 (this is my favourite part. Likely it bores you to death, but keep reading anyway)

I’m only going to talk about the “top four” here so that I keep you awake.

  • SLS and/or SLES – oh but I don’t have to tell you about these because I already covered them in this blog. Little suckers hide everywhere!
  • 1,4-dioxane – a petrochemical. This one is interesting because it is not actually added intentionally. It is actually a by product of SLS and it is created by a process called “ethoxylation”. Anyway, highly carcinogenic and toxic to your brain and central nervous system, kidneys, liver and respiratory system. (also a major ground water contaminant)
  • NPE (nonyphenol ethoxylate) – “lovingly” referred to as the “Gender Bender”. When NPE enters your body, it can’t distinguish between it and estrogen. It is an endoctrine disruptor which can cause hormonal problems. For example, when rainbow trout are exposed to NPE they become part male and part female. Reminds me of that three eyed fish in Mr Burns’ stream on the Simpsons.
  • Phosphates – well, if you read my blog about dishwashing powder you will know that it phosphates burn and dry out skin. They are also known for causing things like nausea, diarrhoea and skin irritations. But the greatest sin of the phosphates is what it does to the waterways. This single chemical can kill off a whole lake! And it has done. What happens it that it increases the algae growth which in turn suffocates all life forms like fish by starving them of oxygen. When the algae die, they release toxins that deplete waterways of oxygen. Geez, I have a gray water tank and I sure do not want that stuff in my garden!

Again, there are a lot more toxic things in there than just these four. Like the carcinogenic, formaldehyde which is what you breathe in with the scent.

Some of the most common side effects of these ingredients are:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Endoctrine system disruption
  • Cancer

I recently witnessed firsthand, the side effect of skin irritation. I had unexpectedly run out of my “safe” laundry powder. One of the kids had an “accident” over night so I just HAD to do the washing. I went to the store and bought a packet of a well known brand of powder. And since I was already doing the washing, I thought I might as well do all the washing that was there.

The whole family broke out in a rash. In varying degrees, but all affected. One of my two year olds was most harshly affected with a red rash and welts all over his little body. The worst thing was that even when I washed everything in the “safe” powder again, the skin irritation took a long time to go away. Needless to say, I am just never going to take that risk again.

Another point.

The companies who make the laundry powders and liquids do NOT have to disclose the ingredients on the back of the packet. It can be a “trade secret”, very much like the perfume. So you need to make sure that you are buying from a company which is willing to stake its reputation that their product is “safe” or buy one that does have the ingredients or you can make your own.

In conclusion: skin is your largest organ which absorbs everything and don’t forget about the cumulative effects of things. Be careful of what you put on your skin. Keep putting clothes on your skin but take care what you wash them with.

 

Safe Alternatives? Here are some to get you started:

https://www.modere.com.au/ProductDetail/laundry-powder/?referralCode=644387

http://www.trevallan.com/shop/#!/~/product/category=9063490&id=35331415

http://earthwise.co.nz/index.php/products/Laundry/Laundry-Liquid—Fragrance-Free

http://www.ecostore.com.au/products/laundry-powder-top-and-front-loader

http://shop.seventhgeneration.com/laundry-powder/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

Parabens

I had been considering writing about parabens for a while but I saw something that just threw me over the edge. It was a shampoo bottle from a well known shampoo brand (not naming any names but it does say “herbal”) and on the front it claims that it contains “0% silicone and 0% paraben”. So they are saying geez, we are so good and caring and since parabens are so bad we didn’t put them in. But they surely made sure they put in not only SLS but threw in SLES for good measure as well. Wow, how caring!

So what are parabens and why are they used in cosmetics?

There are four main types of parabens being used: ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. You will mostly find them in things like shampoos, conditioners, shaving gels, tanning lotions, sunscreen, toothpaste, deodorants, lotions, facial and shower scrubs. Their main use is as a preservative as they fight bacteria and fungus (and are cheap to manufacture).  Although parabens are found in nature (like in blueberries), the majority of parabens used in the products are manmade.

The man made version of parabens mimics estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. As such, it causes endocrine disruption. It has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer as well as developmental reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity.

They say that it is most dangerous for pregnant women and young children.

I say that anyone with skin is at potential risk.

Couple of things to keep in mind here. If there are paraben free options available, that tells me that there is no need for it’s use in the first place (clearly, other options are available).

Secondly, if a product claims to be paraben free, that is great! But look at the rest of the ingredients as well. Are they trying to trick you (like our friends above) by clever marketing? Saying that their product does NOT contain ONE potentially harmful ingredient, but then including another five potentially harmful ingredients to make up for it?

Do NOT be fooled!

You know that you can always ask me questions if you are unsure about something, that is why I am here 😉 x

The Value of Nothing

Ana Glasses

Sometimes we live our lives in such a busy way that we hardly ever pause to take a breath. I try to make a conscious effort to stop and notice and give gratitude. But it is not always easy.

As a mother of numerous children, it is difficult to even find time to have a glass of water. It kinda goes like this: oh, I’m thirsty, I am going to go and get a glass of water, hang on that nappy SMELLS, oh and look at that mess on the floor, what do you mean you are hungry, again? Right, what was I doing???? And so on and so forth.

Last weekend, ALL of my children went to their grandparents’. My husband followed on a business trip the next day. All of a sudden, for the first time in about three years, I was HOME ALONE.

Because I was prepared for this and did not want to fall in a heap, I wrote myself a HUGE list of things “to do”. I figured that this way, I would be much too busy to have time to sit down and think about anyone let alone miss them.

And I exhausted myself for three days straight. The house looks great. The garden looks great. I look great. My web pages and social media are all updated. I finally finished the two books I had wanted to read.

But not today. Today is a “nothing” day. Don’t get me wrong, my list could easily take me through to next year if I wanted to keep going but I am choosing to disregard “the list”. I am choosing to find appreciation in the “nothing”.

Taking the time to really listen to my body and do what it wants me to do. So far I drank about three litres of water AND I have been able to go to the toilet exactly when my body wanted me to, not after doing a gazillion things first, and nearly requiring a Tena Lady by the time I got there! Let me tell you, having lots of children sure does take a toll on the old bladder. And if you are holding it in, the last thing you need is a sneaky cough or a sneeze or it’s all over rover!

And I have allowed myself to think about my babies and how much I miss them. And I didn’t break down in a heap like I thought I might. I know it’s okay to miss them and it’s okay that they are building their independence without me. And that one day my house will be empty for real and I will just have to deal with that. Because, I’m like, a grown up and stuff…. (NOT!)

And I am taking pleasure in the small things like being able to have a shower without an audience. Leaving all the drawers and cupboards unlocked, leaving sharp knives on the bench… you know, it’s the little things….

So, I might describe my day today as a “nothing” day, as in, doing nothing or…. I could call it my “reflection” day, my “me” day, my “finding joy in the small things” day.

However I refer to it, it holds value for me. For even emptiness and voids are always filled with “something”, we just have to find what that is, and then appreciate the value they hold.

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