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Giveaway to Celebrate my Bloggy 1st Birthday!

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It has been a year since I launched ‘the art of joy’ .. to some it is just a blog, to me it is so much more. It is also so much more to the lovely people I hear from who my sharing has reached when it has been needed most. I believe that social media is a reflection of our inner values and the way that we see life more broadly, it is what you make of it. The potential for good is beyond anything we could have imagined during life pre social media. As an honest personal blogger, it also has the added and immense benefit of healing our own souls as we go about sharing with that intention for others.

It is not really a celebration without gifts (or cake!) so I have gathered a few of the things that give me a little joy on a daily basis as a way of saying thank you for the chance to share, connect and change the world a little here! I will be sending all of these lovely things to the lucky winner:

Life Lessons Wellbeing

Free your Mind! (join me for another brain dump)

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It has been a little while since I indulged in a therapeutic brain dump, in the interests of sharing and hopefully imparting my latest learnings and musings. It is sometimes nice just to let the thoughts roll, rather than create a more structured post around a particular topic. I think of it like us sitting around sharing a tea, or a glass of wine, shooting the breeze and getting to know each other a little better!

♡ It is now Week 8 of our first school term, my little 5.5 year old (going on 15.5 at times) is loving the kindy life thus far. He is a sociable little butterfly much like his Mamma, so making friends comes naturally. He is also a lot taller than pretty much everyone else in kindy, so he stands out and tends to lead a little, again much like his Mamma! I was surprised to discover that there are fellow 5 year olds who can read, and I mean read a whole book, we are currently reading our own name.

♡ Just on the topic of reading, I am not a competitive Mamma, I am not interested in when your child was toilet trained, how many words they are currently reading or any sort of academic comparison whilst we are all still in primary school. I have read a lot lately about homework, and I have now experienced the kindy homework. It is a little excessive, and I am not overly fussed about whether it is done or not. The research is currently unclear on whether there is any benefit to primary school children doing homework at all. Yes it encourages time management and sets up study habits for when it does matter, I do believe that play and other activities are more beneficial at this age though, and that we can set up good habits outside of just homework.

♡ Enough about school. Lets move onto the topic of people still driving and talking, using their hands, on their phones. I’m sorry, but this is just completely idiotic. Sadly, it seems to take something tragic experienced firsthand before most people get the message that this kills people. Rolling your tinted windows up and slouching in your seat does make you invisible BTW! Nor does it make you immortal. I think the thing that gets me the most upset about this is the complete disregard for the lives of others, it is arrogant, offensive and somehow it has to be stopped.

♡ A friend from school took her own life on the weekend, leaving behind 4 children. Suicide is one of those things that nobody wants to talk about, yet it is still the leading cause of death for 15-44 year olds in Australia, that is the age group of most of us, and most of my people. It equates to 5 men every single day deciding that they cannot take another breath, live another moment .. can you begin to imagine the darkness that they must be experiencing? I think on this most days, wondering what more I can do, what more we can do. I hope that by sharing my own little snippets of hope, my own recovery and return from that darkness, that I am somehow making a difference to some of these people. In the past I judged the people who chose this option, I realised that it is not fair and nor is it helpful, judging is not going to change the statistics.

This recent post on friendship received a lot of lovely and heartfelt responses. I could have written another couple of posts on the topic and maybe I will. For now though I want to share this .. If you have a friend who is experiencing anxiety, depression or any sort of mental illness can I make a suggestion based on experience? Stick with them, not many can or do, I know that firsthand. It is not their intention to let you down, over and over again, some days they simply cannot contemplate getting out of bed, let alone being a good friend to anyone outside of the house. Don’t let any number of unanswered calls deter you, or make you feel unloved, it is not about you. It is never about you if a friend with mental illness becomes unreliable, not as much fun or simply not themselves. They are still in there somewhere, stick with them.

♡ Do you get excited about Easter? I am a holiday tragic, I know the value of those simple moments shared with loved ones, family and friends creating the memories that are shaping our children. It is all so fleeting, these moments are precious and if you can see beyond the commercial-plastic version of times like Easter and make the most of the chance to connect, share food, wine, a little childhood magic .. it really is beautiful.

♡ I have a bit of a confession. I don’t iron, anything. I outsource it, and the folding of my washing, and the vacuuming and the mopping, and the cleaning of my bathroom. If you put an hourly value on your time, whether it be working, blogging, parenting, doing something with passion, it is likely a lot more than the cost of a housekeeper. I have had a ‘Mother’s Helper’ for the last 4 years, it fluctuates from 1-2 days a week and it changed my life, literally. I cannot recommend it highly enough. My current employee has been with us for almost two years, she is an angel and I treat her like family. She does not have a lot of money, has experienced domestic violence and the time she spends in our home she cherishes, even though she is doing the things that I need help with, it is a win win. I gave her pretty much all of my wardrobe last week, seriously. I turn away from it every morning wondering what to wear, so I gave it all away, and the happiness it gave her was well worth it. I have not even missed one single thing.

♡ My final words are a sincere thank you, for taking the time to read my blog. It is difficult to explain here how much it means to me, it has become one of my greatest passions, to share and connect online. I could not be more grateful, more filled with love and purpose, thank you for allowing me into your world xx

 

Kindness Life Lessons Wellbeing

My (deep) thoughts on Friendship

 

Freelance Photographer - Hannah Millerick

Contrary to the very authoritative title of this post, I do not consider myself a particularly good friend, at times. The topic is never far from my mind though, and I think it was when I approached the big 4-0 that I finally let go of my guilt and expectations around friendship. I had been holding onto so much angst about the role I had played in lost friendships, I was questioning myself about doing enough for the friends in my life now and I was a little disillusioned about the concept of friendship in general.

I have been a bad friend, I have been that person who takes a week to return a call and who cancels at the last minute. I have also been that person who would jump in the car at any hour of the night just to listen, or to stay up all night making meals for a friend in need. The friends I had in my teens are some of my nearest and dearest now, we may not see each other for many months yet the moment we arrive at our regular weekends away our kindred connections are always the same. The joy that these friendships bring to my life is immeasurable.

Since connecting with so many like minded souls online through my blogging, I have been drawn to the organic and deeply spiritual friendships of women such as Tara Bliss, Rachel Macdonald and Melissa Ambrosini .. especially through their collective and public grieving at the loss of their soul sister Jess Ainscough recently. If you have a read of these two tributes shared by Tara and Melissa, you will get a sense of what friendship means to me.

It is the ability to sit with each other in the darkest moments, as well as truly celebrate during the good times. In the past I struggled with the real depths of friendship, my 20’s were spent caring for my Mother and completely shutting myself off from any depths at all. The damage that I did to any friendships during that time was immense and somewhat out of my control. I was 28 when my Mother died and it was only then that I finally asked for help and started to venture into acknowledging my post traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, harmful addictions and self loathing.

As I slowly began to embrace the healing process into my 30’s, discovered the importance of self love and embraced self development, friendships dropped away as I became a little too honest and real at times. I honestly believe though that losing anything in life is a part of what it means to love, and to accept that letting go is OK at times, and often necessary.

It has been more than half of my life now affected by trauma and the scars that have manifested as mental illness. I have few regrets, I know that I was only doing the best that I could possibly do in any given moment. This acceptance has taken time, and it has been a huge part of my outlook on friendship. It really is only when we accept ourselves wholeheartedly that we can attract or deeply connect with our lifelong kindred spirits, those souls who are truly meant to share the intimate details of our lives and our hearts.

Friendship to me is about paying attention, devoting time and unconditional love to a small number of people who truly deserve you. It is not about how many “friends” you have on Facebook, or how many events you are invited to. It is so much more than these things. It is intimate and real and precious. It lights you up and it also gives you the most incredible sense of being home, being loved and never being alone.

I would love to hear if you share any of my thoughts on friendship?