The last couple of years has been unsettling due to the global pandemic and my hope is that we can create a more peaceful, compassionate and tolerant world as a result of the learnings from the last two years. We’ve all learned humans are fragile, yet resilient, not good with change, yet adaptable and we are stronger together than when we are apart. This pandemic has impacted everyone differently, so it helps to remember we are all dealing with this in different ways. Some of us are fortunate to be able to stay home, have a roof over our head, food on our table and be safe with our families – others may not be as fortunate. It can be difficult to remember this when we are challenged with our own issues, we can forget the bigger picture. There are a lot of things happening across the world that are worse than lockdowns and quarantine. Even through all the craziness of these last two years, I hope you have been able to find moments to Laugh.Love.Live and be grateful for the things we do have, rather than focus on what we don’t have or are unable to do. I have found when I remember to be grateful for everything I do have, it helps me remember that I have so much more than others. I may not have a lot compared to others, but to some, I have more than enough. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy (President Theodore Roosevelt), this is what creates feelings of inferiority or superiority and does not create emotionally healthy humans. Let’s aim to help each other through this challenging time and look at ways to keep our minds, bodies and spirits healthy!
Thank you again for reading, and I hope to get some reading and writing in now that I have a bit more free time after completing my learning journey. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, until next time – peace and blessings!
I wrote earlier about a midway point, I am now nearly at the end of my learning journey. I have been completing my MBA for the last two and a half years and have submitted by very last capstone assessment. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment in getting to the end of my learning journey, a sense that I had finally made it to the finishing line. It seemed so far away when I started my journey and I thought it would take so long to get to the end. Now that I am standing so close to the finish line, it feels both like it was just yesterday that I started, as well as a long time ago. I remember starting my learning journey with trepidation because I had not completed any formal studies for more than 20 years. I have completed shorter stints of study, but nothing as full-on or formal as an MBA. Short courses and work-related certification courses had been my mainstay over the years. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to juggle work, family and studies. I always looked with admiration at other mothers who had juggled these commitments and knew the journey was not an easy one. I wasn’t so sure I would be able successful juggling the same commitments.
What I learned along the way is that it was easier if I concentrated on each milestone, such as getting through the first week, then the first assessment, second assessment, exam and first subject. Once I had successfully passed the first subject, I applied the same discipline and process for each subsequent subject. I learned to be even more disciplined with my time and prioritised any precious free time with my family. My priorities shifted to family, work, study and found some small pockets of time for myself as well. These rituals and routine helped me prioritise what needed to be done and when. I feel if you are committed to finishing what you start, you will find a way to make everything work. When it is important to you, you will find the time – whether it is family, friends, work, study and me time. As a working parent, the balance can get tricky. Sometimes you feel as though you are walking a tightrope and at other times, you feel like you are swinging through the air on a trapeze. It has definitely been a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
Then, on top of all of the usual challenges of being a working parent, juggling the demands of family, work and study, the global pandemic was thrown in for good measure. While it has not been a wholly positive experience, there was certainly no FOMO (Fear or missing out) from my end. With lock downs, work from home and online studying, it became a little easier to balance time due to not having to travel. Although, what did become a bit of an issue in the beginning, was cabin fever and being affected by news about the rising number of virus infections worldwide, deaths and hospitalisations. The unknown affects of the new virus, feeling unsafe when going out of the house and avoiding any crowded places affected my mental state. When things calmed down and we were able to go for day trips and get away to the beach with family, this helped immensely. I learned small changes helped to break the routine. I tend to get quite involved in what I am doing – when work was very busy, research on top of the weekly webinars for assessments, and reading through textbooks and articles, I tend to go too far in one direction. This can affect my mental state so I have learned that it’s important for me to be aware of my triggers and work to manage them. Please remember to reach out for help when you need to, it’s important and takes courage to do so. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of strength.
This roller coaster ride of emotions also applied to the differing stages of my learning journey. The elation of completing an assessment, completing each subject and receiving a passing grade upon completion of each final assessment. These are all things worth celebrating, I found taking the time to appreciate where I was in my learning journey, as well as recognising how far I had progressed, kept me focused on the end goal. As I completed another subject, it helped me to see how much closer I was to the end goal of completing my MBA. Now that I have completed my final assessment of the final subject, it feels amazing. I celebrated by listening to music and dancing like no-one was watching on the night the final assessment was submitted. It was a nice way to celebrate, as well as release the elation, anxiety and stress of the last 8 weeks. Now, it’s a waiting game for the result, milestones are being ticked off – one by one. Once final results are received, the next milestone will be receiving the email confirming completion, graduation details and awards being sent. Given I am in lock down again and with the graduation ceremony being held in another state, it’s unlikely I will get to attend an in-person graduation. I’ll be happy to receive my MBA award via post. It’s the final milestone to confirm the end of my learning journey and it will be great to celebrate it in my own way.
For me, this has been a challenging, yet rewarding journey. I am looking forward to some free time to relax and recuperate, and spend more time with my family. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel – it is bright and welcoming, and I look forward to what the future may hold. This door will close on this learning journey but my learning journey continues with life, family and work. It’s a big reminder that it’s important to Laugh.Love.Live. even when it feels difficult to do so. It might mean you need to look a little harder to find those moments. It’s also important to have the right people by your side, cheering you on – providing encouragement and support when you need it. Your people can also help you to see the light and continue travelling towards the light, rather than staying in the darkness. I found that learning to focus on one step or milestone at a time, as well as celebrating each milestone – the smaller goals, help you to reach your bigger end goal. Doing this helps to keep you moving towards the light – that light at the end of the tunnel. Once you get there, the light continues to shine, brighter and bigger than you could have ever imagined. I would like to thank you for reading my post, liking it or any of my other posts, and for any new followers. I have been a little busy so may not have been able to return the favour, your support is much appreciated. I aim to do some reading in the next few weeks and hope to return the favour. I hope you are all kicking your own goals – stay safe and well, take care of yourselves and each other – namaste!
Emotions are remembered by the body, often before you register the day or date. Grief has that impact on me. Especially when it relates to loved ones. When I am upset, I tend to hold grief in my upper back, my upper back has a dull ache that stretching and yoga doesn’t relieve. This happens on two anniversaries for people who have passed and are dear to me. They are still recent for me – 2.5 years and 6 years ago. One is the death of a dear uncle and the other is the death of my beloved grandmother. Both had a momentous impact on me, not great but momentous. My grandmother’s death resulted in being diagnosed with depression. My uncle’s death, even though expected, was just as difficult when it occurred. Thinking about either can still trigger tears and feelings of sadness, amongst love, cherished memories and happier times. This year, the anniversary of my Uncle’s death did not coincide with Easter as it occurred earlier this year. Easter is often a reminder of his passing and can still be difficult to enjoy. This year, the anniversary of his death was a week later. The day before, I started to feel very tired in the early afternoon so decided to get to bed a little earlier. The next morning I woke up at 3am, unable to get back to sleep. I got out of bed by about 4am and did some yoga – deep stretching as my upper back was aching. Later that morning, as I was getting my breakfast ready, I saw the date and then it hit me. My body had remembered before my brain had registered the date. I sent a quick message to my Aunty to let her know I was thinking of her and continued to make my breakfast.
When I see butterflies that are large and colourful, they remind me of my uncle because he had suggested we go to the Butterfly House in Melbourne Zoo when we were visiting one year. We did go and had a wonderful time, with many butterflies landing on my daughter and I and remaining for quite some time. Especially on my daughter, we had to carefully lift one off her and place it onto a tree branch because it seemed like it had found a place to perch and stay. On the anniversary of my Uncle’s death this year, I saw a beautiful black butterfly with bright blue on its wings. It fluttered and stayed in sight at waist level before slowly flying up and away. I felt that was my Uncle’s spirit visiting and passing by. It made my heart lighter and was a nice distraction for a fleeting moment. There are many stories that state butterflies and dragonflies are often reminders of loved ones who have passed. The synchronicities of these reminders are often significant. I emailed my Aunty that evening to advise her what I saw during the day and said I felt it was my uncle’s spirit. She agreed and said he visits those who loved him. I find these moments reassuring and help to lighten the grief. Everyone feels grief and is impacted by it differently. As I have said previously, it doesn’t mean one way is right or wrong, just different. And different is okay. I hope you have moments of sunshine during periods of grief or sadness. We need to have the rain to see the rainbows, sadness to know happiness and pain to know comfort. I hope this provides a little comfort to anyone who is experiencing grief. Please remember to reach out and ask for help from people around you or organisations who can help you manage your grief. It helps to have people who genuinely care about you and are happy when you are, or at least help you manage your pain until you can feel hopeful again. Hold onto those people, they are your people – who bring the sunshine to you. They help you to Laugh.Love.Live and are priceless. Peace and blessings, stay safe and well!
I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert about strong women, from my experience it has been proven true again and again. I have and have had many strong women in my life who have all handled shit went it went wrong a thousand different ways on a thousand different days – friends, beloved grandmother, mother, aunt and acquaintances. I had a conversation with my daughter about the double standards applied to women in the spotlight – leadership positions, celebrities, politicians, etc. The double standard we observe is that women are judged harshly by who they are/ how they are portrayed – whether they are compassionate, empathetic, professional, and it doesn’t matter if they are competent and well qualified for their roles. There seems to be more importance placed on how they conduct themselves, what they wear, how old they are, what their marital status is or if they do or do not have children. These things have no bearing on how well a woman can fulfill their role. To me, it demonstrates we need to teach the next generations not to judge females – on appearances or what the ‘societal’ norms may be – which may not be the norm at all, for some people. It would be great to pass on the importance to not be judgemental – especially females of other females. From my experience, we are stronger when we stand together and support one another. We can only understand from our point of view.
Jacinda Adern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, is often criticised for her empathy and compassion – it has been observed as being weak. From my experience, those who have these qualities are the opposite – these qualities enable them to place themselves in other people’s suffering and circumstances, yet have the strength to make a positive impact. Jacinda herself is quoted saying “I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong”. She is also quoted saying “It’s essential for women to unite and support one another. Together we are stronger.” This is demonstrated when women come together to support and advocate for the vulnerable, less able or, be a voice when they have experienced the same circumstances. Some examples include breast cancer, domestic violence, sexual violence/assault, child abuse – when women come together for these causes, they are able to garner great support and awareness. I’m not saying males are unable to do the same, however, these are some examples where I feel women supporting other women, showing solidarity for the same cause are stronger together.
There are also double standards perpetuated by the media such as two people may do the same or similar things but one gets criticised while the other is praised. The problem is not just that of the media companies, it is us, it is society – if we allow it to continue, it becomes a norm and we are silently condoning that type of behaviour. If it were to be happening to our loved ones eg spouse, children, daughters, nieces, etc – we would call it out as bullying and find ways to raise awareness and look to eliminate it. I have written previously that we all judge, we are all imperfect but it is about catching ourselves when we do or before we do it, to consider the rolling effect. It all starts with us, with you – if we can prevent ourselves from doing this and teaching our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sons – it is unacceptable, we can challenge the norm. How could you start discussion about this with your children, or children you may have influence over? How can we encourage open and honest dialogue about this and other topics? How can we ensure that we embody the principles to Laugh.Love.Live? We may also discover we have internalised some behaviour, perspectives or ways of thinking based on our environment and influences that are not in alignment with this. It’s up to us to change it and rewrite the script.
This is just one of many challenging topics for discussion but it’s important to start the conversation and plant the seed. It’s important to raise the next generations with empathy, compassion, authenticity and treating all with kindness – inclusion for all. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed time over the festive season to spend time with friends, family and loved ones or at least were able to send your love. I hope this year may become a better one for us all. Stay safe, stay well – peace and blessings!
If we had rolled the dice at the beginning of the year to bet on how this year would have unfolded, what are the odds we would have gotten it right? It has been a challenging year for many people across the world, some more than others. Even with 20/20 vision, we may not have seen this coming – it’s a year that caught many by surprise. It is a year defined by a global pandemic with daily indicators highlighting number of cases and deaths. It’s a grim indicator to mark a year that many would rather forget. Although this has been a major focus of 2020, here are a handful of things we can celebrate:
Ability to work from home/flexible working
Families appreciating more time together
People finding alternative ways to connect
Home cooking, baking and sharing recipes
Home crafts, handy hints and tips/ DIY hacks being shared
Raising awareness, support and appreciation for the arts industries
Ability to be less social for those who prefer smaller gatherings
Time to complete studies without fear of missing out (FOMO)
Learning something new or different
Collaboration to raise awareness on important global issues via social media
With 20/20 hindsight, there are probably a lot of things we would like to have done differently…or not. It’s been a year most would rather forget, although there have also been some good news stories for this year also. Here is also a link to some good news stories for 2020 you may have missed:
Even though many of us have not been able to go anywhere, the year is still speeding by as usual – it is already Christmas Eve, the 24th of December and we’re almost at the end of a year most would rather forget. Although, if 2021 is going to be more of the same, we may not be so eager to rush into it. This year is a year to be grateful – for our blessings, our friends, loved ones and people who have kept us sane. It has been a difficult year for those of us who suffer mental health issues, those living alone, those who are unable to visit family and friends and those who have lost oved ones. I hope everyone has the support they need to help them through this year and beyond, so we all can continue to Laugh. Love. Live. This year has been a crazy year and although it has had it’s challenges, there have also been triumphs. Please take care, stay safe and well – remember those who have lost loved ones and may we all approach 2021 with more compassion, understanding and love. Peace and blessings – namaste!
I’ve been on my learning journey now for two years, consuming a lot of my time. Although it has been challenging to juggle work, family and studies, it has also been immensely rewarding and enjoyable. One thing I do miss is being able to plan and write a post on my blog, so I am taking a bit of time out…pressing pause on studying so I can write this post. It’s been a crazy year due to the pandemic – there has been so much but also so little happening in our lives. It has been a disruptive year in many ways, yet also been a good year in other ways. What’s so good about it do you ask? Well, for me, being able to work from home helps me balance my work/study/family commitments so much easier – travel time is not consuming my productive time.
I have been fortunate to work from home on many occasions, but not to this extent. I find myself more productive and able to achieve more without time spent travelling each morning and evening to and from an office location. I don’t miss the hectic days of trying to fit so much into the day. Don’t get me wrong, there are drawbacks to spending all day, every day at home with other family members working and studying – it can overwhelm you at times. However, I find walking the dog and getting outdoors, feeling the sunshine or cool breeze helps clear your mind, get the body moving and blood pumping. I empathise with those who have struggled mentally being in lock-down. It is hard when choice is taken away from you, things you took for granted – being able to see friends, family, see a movie, a concert or go out at any time to exercise. I have struggled with anxiety and depression so can empathise with the mental challenges of lock-down. When our state was required to be in isolation for a period of 8 weeks and with travel within the state restricted, I found that tough, let alone a full lock-down experience.
What I think we need to realise is once a virus is in the community, it is not going to be quickly eradicated. The flu virus has been around for years and each year there is a new strain as it evolves to survive. This will probably be similar for the Corona virus and wearing a mask, social distancing, washing our hands to keep ourselves and vulnerable members of the community safe will become the new normal for a while yet. I feel it is easier to accept it is here, do the things we need to do to keep ourselves and loved ones safe as well as those who are more vulnerable – the better we can return to the new normal. I feel our brains need to shift perspective to accept it is here and not going away as quickly as we hope. I am aware everyone has their opinions, perspectives and thoughts on this and that is fine. I am just sharing one – whether you agree or not, is fine. It isn’t right or wrong, just different and we are all different and how this virus may affect any of us may also be different. I feel what we can do, is have empathy, compassion and understanding of these differences because as my mum says “we’re all human, if you cut me and you – we all bleed the same red blood”.
As humans, we are good at adapting, it just may take a while but we have the ability to do so. It’s something humans have been doing for centuries – adapting to circumstances and environments. As research states, humans have biological plasticity – the ability to adapt biologically to our environment. We are also capable of cultural adaptions and adaptations vary in duration, can happen at any time and can be short or long-term (lumen: cultural anthropology). I feel this adaptation may take us a little while to get used to and accept. Until then, please stay safe and well so you can continue to Laugh.Love.Live. We are stronger together, rather than divided. Well, it’s back to my studies now before a break at the end of the year. Namaste.
I’m excited to share my labour of love has been published! My book is available on Amazon.com and I have provided the link above. The soft cover version is now available and is delivered to other countries when you change the destination address. The eBook version is available for kindle and you can click to see the free preview. This book is part memoir and shares my personal mental wellness journey. A percentage of sales is donated to Beyond Blue so please share with your networks. This has been a personal project over the last year and a half and I am still processing the reality! I am almost in disbelief that my book has finally been published. Please feel free to provide feedback and would appreciate if you can pop a review on Amazon once you have read it. I hope in sharing my journey, it will help others and reduce the stigma around mental illness.
Thank you for your support and encouragement on my humble blog and I hope you enjoy sharing my journey with my as you read my book. I also hope learnings resonate with you and you can apply them in your lives or, even modify them to work better for you. Stay safe and well in these uncertain times, continue to Laugh.Love. Live. Peace and blessings!
How do you feel when you are climbing a mountain (physically and figuratively) and find yourself at the midway point? You’ve realised you have made it halfway to your final summit! Especially when you started and you could not even imagine being closer to the end? It may not seem like something to celebrate but I feel when we celebrate the small wins we progress to our bigger wins, it makes the journey easier and keeps us focused on the end result.
I am working on a learning journey and realised after completing what has been the most difficult subject so far, that I’ve reached the midway point! I have a feeling of elation that the end is closer and celebrate the progress I’ve made thus far. We often forget to celebrate the smaller wins but without them, we are unable to see the progress we’ve made as we work towards our bigger goals. I like to compare it to running long distance, for example, you may motivate yourself by acknowledging when you run past the fourth tree, or you keep running for the first couple of kilometres before you slow your pace. Once you have reached that first goal, you then set another one. When you reach that second goal, you may set another one or set it for the next time you go for a run – to extend the distance a little bit further each time. For example, if you are training for a 14km run but the longest distance you have ever run is 5km, you start at 5km and add a kilometre or two each time you train.
As you reach each extra kilometre, you feel a sense of achievement and realise the end goal of 14km is now closer. Once you reach halfway, you realise you have made it this far and each kilometre from now brings you closer to completing 14km. You can then go on to 7, then 8, then 10km. Once you have completed 14km, it is now the longest distance you have ever run in your life! How great does that feel? It doesn’t need to be running a marathon, this applies to various goals. It’s good to set milestones or mini-goals to ensure things stay on track. It also helps us to see what works and what needs to be refined to continue the path. Each step brings you closer to the end result. I find starting small, increasing in small increments and celebrating along the way helps you to achieve your final goal. Even if this is to learn to draw, paint, or drive. With drawing or painting, you may start with buying the paper, pencils, paint supplies. You may watch tutorials, you may start to copy other drawings or paintings, you may start with something simple and progress to more complex drawings/ paintings. You may attend classes to learn more about technique, colour, texture and styles. Soon, you are drawing and painting like you have been doing it all your life.
This also applies to learning to drive, you start with learning theory – road rules, requirements, legalities, etc. You may need to take an exam to test your theory knowledge is competent, then you can progress to the driving lessons. You learn to start the car, adjust the seats and mirrors, you learn how to indicate, check mirrors and use the pedals and if learning manual transmission, learn how to change the gears. You learn which gear is suitable for each speed, and how to reverse. You will learn to drive, park and reverse the car, as well as use the brake to stop. Each step mastered, we move onto the next one, sometimes in sequential order, sometimes in an order that suits us. With each step completed, each milestone reached, the closer you are to your end goal. You realise the anxiety and fear you may have felt at the start, ease away more and more when you realise how much closer you are to the end result and it is all based on the dedication and effort you have put into your journey.
We often forget how far we’ve come until we look back and see how much we have progressed on our journey. As we get used to the new normal, I feel it is nice to stop and celebrate the small wins in a way that suits, that have progressed you to this point. Without these small wins, you would not be any closer to your final goal, so please remember to celebrate them. Small wins may be small in stature, however, they can make a huge impact! I hope you are enjoying your journey, whatever it may be and celebrate your small wins along the way. There is a saying that sometimes it’s more about the journey and what it teaches us, rather than the final destination. I hope you learn, are challenged and grow on your journeys, enabling you to enjoy your destination when you get there. Life is a journey, remember to Laugh. Love. Live as you progress on your journey. Peace and blessings!
While in self-isolation, I’ve been using some time to experiment with food, replacing ingredients in some of my favourite recipes. One classic favourite I have made for many years is a lemon cheesecake. My youngest sister recently asked for the recipe as she also wanted to make it while in isolation. It seems many people are baking and cooking up a storm during this time, based on what’s been trending in social media! I’ve modified a few of my favourite recipes and so far, they have worked out well without sacrificing flavour.
For this food experiment – a no bake cheesecake, I substituted ingredients for lactose and gluten free options. As you can see in the photo above, it turned out a treat! I topped the cheesecake with freshly sliced strawberries which were a sweet contrast to the tartness of the cheesecake (if you prefer it less tart, I suggest to use less lemon juice). My family enjoyed this cake just as much as the original recipe. The recipe is one I have been using for over 20 years which I modified, and sharing with you below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do – happy baking and bon appetit!
1-1.5 cups of sweet gluten-free biscuits (I used a combination of 9 anzac and 6 scotch finger biscuits), crumbled (depending on the size of your spring-form tin or the thickness you would like the base to be)
1/2 cup dairy-free butter (Nuttelex or olive oil spread)
250g lactose free cream cheese
2 x 150g goats cream cheese spread
2 teaspoons of gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
400g condensed coconut milk (I have included details on how to make this dairy free version)
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind (optional)
1 punnet fresh strawberries (to decorate)
Place crushed biscuit crumbs into a mixing bowl and pour over melted dairy-free butter, combine well.
Press into base of spring-form tin and place in fridge to chill.
Beat cream cheese and goat’s cheese until smooth, mix in gelatin mixture, condensed milk, lemon juice (and rind).
Pour cheesecake mixture over crumb base and place in fridge to set overnight.
Top with sliced strawberries or any berries of your choice, you can also grate chocolate to sprinkle on the top.
Coconut condensed milk
2 x 400ml cans of coconut milk
1 cup caster sugar
Place coconut milk and sugar into saucepan over medium heat, stirring for 8 minutes until sugar dissolves.
Bring to boil and reduce to low heat. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring until mixture is a thick consistency (coats back of spoon like custard).
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in airtight container.