Thursday, June 30, 2011

Free Printable: 30 days of happiness plan

Wow! I am at the end of my 30 days of happiness posts.
Thank YOU so much for all your comments, encouragement and support.

I have really enjoyed your additional insight, honest heartfelt experiences you have shared and that you have taken this happiness journey with me. I am now closer to reaching my 100 ideas of happiness goal and more importantly I have been learning more and more what makes me feel happy. So worth the time and effort I have put in over the past month pondering and writing.

Today is Day 30: Have a plan of happiness.

I am a seeker of happiness and am on a journey to discover what really makes me happy.
For some people is comes easily, for me not so easy.

So, I have decided I need to create my own happiness.
My goal is to experiment, to try, to learn and discover what I love.

For something different, I thought I would share with you a calendar I have put together with simple, small suggestions that relate to the past 30 days of happiness posts that I have blogged about.

I have kept it simple so that you can print it out and cross out each day as you go. You can use it however you want and I hope that it will help bring a little more happiness to your life.

I decided to do this as I believe it is important to have a plan for happiness. Often happiness just happens, special moments just occur for us to treasure and delight in, but some days they don't come and they are hard to find when you are exhausted and worn out. On these days we need to go out of our way to create happy moments for ourselves. Insert a homemade happiness plan.

I hope you enjoy what I have put together.

You can download it from here:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Euky Bearub Giveaway

As Winter is now upon us and many of us are suffering from the sniffles, Euky Bearub is a wonderful way to help your cherubs relieve some symptoms of colds and coughs. This cream has been helping families breathe easier for over 35 years and many parents call it a 'miracle cream'. The bright packaging is a hit with children and the fact that it comes in a tube means less mess and easier access when your little ones are sick.

Some wonderful benefits of Euky Bearub are:
Is a natural Eucalyptus chest rub to clear a stuffy nose, soothe the throat and ease a cough
Very gentle on most sensitive skin
Helps you breathe easier - sleep better
Soothes & comforts for effective all night relief
Suitable for the whole family
Australian Made and Owned

Many parents love the fact that the scent is pleasant and not overwhelming - just the gentle warmth of natural eucalyptus to help soothe kids to sleepy dreamland. Every parent loves sleep!

Thanks to Euky Bearub, we have 4 Euky Bearub Packs to give away worth $40.

Each pack comes with a soft plush Euky Bear and 50g tube of Euky Bearub cream.

To enter this giveaway here are the guidelines:
1. Open to Aussie residents only
2. Winners picked by the random number generator
3. Entries close July 7th, 2011
3. Go like Euky Bearub on facebook HERE.
4. Leave a comment below to enter.

* I did not receive a product to review for this post but I did charge a fee to run this promotion.

Giveaway Closed.

Congrats to:
Tiff from Three Ring Circus
Daisy and Roo and Two
Tassie Made 4 Baby
Melanie from Three Crochet Chicks

Please email me you home address so I can get your prize sent out to you:
sevencherubs (@) gmail dot com

Be still my soul

Being still gives me perspective and insight.
Being still brings me answers and revelation.

With a full busy life, taking time to stop has been a challenge I have been working on. Finding the time to fit a quiet moment into my day has been the hardest part. Often when I can get a quiet moment either early in the morning or late at night, I find I am very tired and my mind is slow to function.

Even though it has been difficult to fit in, I have found that it has become a necessary part of my day. You see, I love to ponder, to toss ideas and thoughts around in my mind and to come to a conclusion about what is the right choice or course of action I need to take.

I am a very ponderous person.

I find when I take the time to be still, to find a quiet spot and to really think and listen, I see my family and life in a whole new perspective. Being still allows me to calm down, to assess my emotions and to be prayerful with my thoughts.

It centres me.
It heals my soul.

This perspective allows me to see clearly, answers to problems that have been worrying me and to see that I am really blessed when I am often feeling low and discouraged.

At first I found it difficult to be still, my thoughts would turn to housework or other uses of my time and it took a while to control my thoughts and to be in the moment of just sitting and being still.

Now, I look forward to still moments, to take in my surroundings, to appreciate ways I am blessed and look for the sunlight in my life.

On Sunday, a good friend of mine, Sharon, taught a lesson at church on being cheerful. At the end of the lesson she handed every woman a piece of paper and asked them to sit down and record their blessings in life.

A wonderful way to start off having a be still moment.

If you are struggling with finding time to be still or feel guilty about stopping to ponder, I highly recommend you try this activity to look for the good in your life.

It might not come easy at first, but if you persist, you will recognise the blessings more and more in your life and come to treasure this time.

Just as the sun is bursting through the trees in the image above, so will your happiness when you take some time to be still and listen to your soul.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to be happy * Dance often

Dancing brings me joy.
I love to sway and jiggle and bounce away to a song.

I feel free as I throw my body around and feel the beat of a song.

We love dancing in our home.

The cherubs are crazy dancers.
They are beautiful dancers and also energetic dancers.

What is it about watching children dancing?
I find it a delight to see them expressing themselves through movement.

To see them exercising and laughing and happy.
I always feel happy when I am dancing.

Especially when I am in my kitchen, with loud music, cooking dinner.
It makes cooking so much more fun when I am not in the mood to do it.

Below I have attached a great clip about the evolution of dance.
Love that Judson is rocking on to the beat of his own drum.

Enjoy x

Monday, June 27, 2011

{Book review and giveaway} 365 ways to make money

This post is Day 27 Stay out of debt as part of my Happiness series.
It is also number 48 in my happiness list.

Perhaps one area of our lives that often needs great attention, is the need to stay out of debt. Personal debt in our country is currently at a staggering level and there has never been a better time to be wise with our finances. I have learned a little about debt in relation to happiness over my time and I have discovered five main tips in relation to achieving finanical happiness:

1. Understand needs verses wants
2. Spend more than you earn = misery
3. Spend less than you earn = happiness
4. Interest never sleeps
5. A budget is essential

I so love a quote by J. Reuben Clark Jr.:

“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies;...Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.”

I have personally felt crushed by debt several times and I know now there is good debt and bad debt. If you are in a situation where debt is controlling your life, there are ways to overcome it. It is possible to restore financial peace. I love the feeling that being in control of my finances brings, the peace in knowing that our house is in order in that area and the security of having a little savings gives.

A big boost in relation to happiness for myself and my relationships within my family.

Recently, I have had the wonderful opportunity to do some more reading about finances when I was sent a book to review written by the lovely Kylie Ofiu from Aspiring Millionaire and now her new site Kylie Ofiu Author of 365 ways to make money.

Kylie knows what she is talking about when it comes to making money. As one of nine children she has grown up in a home learning to be resourceful and practical. All you need to do is check out her blog to know she is one determined and focused lady on reaching her goals of earning some more cash. After all she is an aspiring millionaire!

Her new book is a insightful look into the many different ways that we can bring money into our home. It is a great resource if you currently are in debt and are looking for ways to speed up the process of earning some extra cash. Her book is practical, easy to navigate and informative. It contains ideas that have been tried and tested and some just look like pure fun to try and do at home.

365 Ways to Make Money is broken down into sections for easy application as some ideas range from quick and easy cash making ventures to larger scale opportunities to earn some much needed cash. Her book is not just a list of ideas, each idea is explained in detail and has symbols to help explain what may be required to make it happen.

I love, love, love that there is a symbol system used in this book. Some symbols relate to ideas you can do at home, ideas you need qualifications for and even a symbol that children (under 18 years of age) can undertake to earn some cash. Easy for me to relate to and even a great help for my children to understand when they start reaching the age of wanting to earn some more money.

I can now see myself saying when the cherubs come complaining to me about wanting some money,
'Go and get Kylie's book, 365 Ways to Make Money and pick out a way to make it happen!'
thank YOU Kylie!!!

With a new idea you could try every day of the year, 365 Ways to Make Money will get your mind thinking about getting motivated, dumping your excuses and seeking opportunities to reach your goals. I know after reading the book I started to devise different ideas in my mind on how I could make some extra cash to pay off our home loan a little quicker and to work my way to becoming a millionaire myself.

Thanks to Kylie and Wright Books I have the wonderful blessing of being able to giveaway a signed copy of her new book, hot of the press, 365 Ways to Make Money to a Seven Cherubs reader.

Here are the guidelines:

1. Add yourself as a follower on my blog
2. Open to Aussie residents only
3. Winner chosen by the random number generator
4. Entries close 11th July, 2011
5. For an extra entry share on facebook or twitter and come back and tell me
6. Please make sure you have your email attached to your profile or leave it below
7. Leave a comment below to enter and tell me:

What is your best idea for making money???

Giveaway closed.
Congrats to Tracy you are the winner!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Look for rainbows in life

In thinking about this post, I knew that I just had to invite one of my good blog friends Felicity to do a guest post on this topic for me. She is more than qualified at looking for the 'rainbows' of life and I so hope you enjoy her thoughts on this topic.

Giving gifts is one of my favourite things to do.

Whether it be for a birthday, wedding, anniversary, Christmas or ‘just because’, the process of finding or making the gift, wrapping it and tying a beautiful bow has been something that has given me great pleasure over the years.

It’s a joy to give something that you know will make someone else happy and as I’m getting older (and perhaps a little wiser) I’m also learning how precious the gift of receiving can be.

When I am given a package that has been beautifully wrapped, I view it as an added treat, because the ‘Gifter’ has put as much thought and effort into this part of the present as what is contained within.

Ribbons or bows are an essential part of the wrapping for me and I’ve collected a gorgeous selection over the years. They are like the icing on a cake and I love to be extravagant in their use.

So what does any of this have to do with looking for rainbows?

Well, I’m blessed to live on acreage and I feel incredibly fortunate to be given gifts from nature on a daily basis.

The joy of waking to birdsong, visits from kangaroos & their joeys, trees bursting into blossom, colourful feathers collected on my daily walks, glorious skies both day & night and clean, fresh air. All of these are simple treasures that make me happy and that I’m truly grateful for. But I must say that one of the most amazing and glorious of all my gifts from nature is the ribbon that wraps a sunshower or storm, the rainbow.

Have you ever considered how rainbows are just like ribbons or bows in nature?

I like to think of them like this - bows of serendipity unexpected & lovely, wrapping a rainy day in glorious colour.

To see a brilliant rainbow illuminating the sky through the grey clouds is to witness one of nature’s simple gifts of beauty. To see two together is a double treasure and I’ve been fortunate to have been able to do this on more than one occasion.

Having previously lived in busy cities and dry rural landscapes I know that it’s not possible for all of us to regularly witness the beauty of a rainbow.

But we can keep our eyes and hearts open to the bows that wrap the gift of our lives and those of the people we care about.

A cool breeze on a hot day, a warm hug from someone we love, a song that makes us tap our toes and sing along, a meal prepared for us, infectious laughter, a bubble bath & time to enjoy it, clean sheets fresh from a sunshine line.

So if it’s raining in your pocket of the world and you’re inclined to see this as an inconvenience, remember that we can’t have rainbows without the rain and that a rainbow is a gift of serendipity - unexpected and lovely.

** Thanks so much Felicity you have inspired me to keep my heart and eyes open this week for special bows in my life. Felicity blogs over at Gifts of Serendipity and you will love the treasure she shares with us each week. Pop on over to say Hi!

I so love rainbows - they make me smile and fascinate me.

{taken from out the front of my house}

This blog post is dedicated to my friend Lyn who is at home stuck on the couch with a
very sore leg and my hope is that she can find some rainbows during this time. N x

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Disney Pixar Cars 2 ticket giveaway

As the school holidays are now upon us, there is great excitement in our house in the hope that we will be able to make it to the cinema's to see the new Disney Pixar Cars 2 movie. We recently were not able as a family to attend the preview screening of the movie but was able to send another lovely family in our place.

It just happened to be great timing for the family attending as it was the birthday of one of their children and they were all super excited to get a trip to the movies to see Cars 2 as a present. After the preview I sat down with the children to get feedback from them on how the movie was. Here were some of the comments shared:

Who was your family character in the new Disney Pixar Cars 2 movie?

All children totally loved - Holly Shiftwell. She has guns coming out of her wheels and can fly!

Holley is a beautiful young British desk agent, turned spy-in-training who is stationed in Tokyo. Well-educated and sharp, she knows every trick in the book. She is armed with the latest state-of-the-art spy equipment imaginable, from hidden cameras and concealed weapons to a telescoping utility arm and a holographic pop-up display. Holley is a highly motivated agent, but is fresh out of the academy, so her experience is based on lessons learned in school rather than real-life situations.

What was your favourite scene in the movie?

When Mater picks up a car and flings it into place with his towing cable. They loved that he was able to get it right on the first go and that he was so casual about it. A simple scene in the movie but it really impacted the children with just how cool Mater is. In fact they liked many scenes with Mater in it.

Would you recommend the movie to other children?

The movie was interesting the whole way through, it was a little funny and had a lot of cool parts in it. The story line was good as it had a great spy theme throughout it. We smiled a lot through the movie but we did not laugh out loud very much. We would recommend other children to go see it.

Special feature:

This Cars movie even includes a little Aussie feature by Australian V8 Supercar driver Mark Winterbottom who actually voices a character called Frosty. Sneak peak below:

If you are interested in learning a little more about the movie you can check out my post about it here. Now thanks to Disney Pixar and Porter Novelli we have one family pass to giveaway (Admit 4).
This pass will Admit 4 to participating cinemas within Australia.

Here are the guidelines:

1. Add yourself as a follower on my blog
2. Open to Aussie residents only
3. Winner chosen by the random number generator
4. Entries close 7th July, 2011
5. For an extra entry share on facebook or twitter and come back and tell me
6. Please make sure you have your email attached to your profile or leave it below
7. Leave a comment below to enter and tell me:

If you were a racing car what would you name yourself???

Disclosure: I received free tickets to give to another family courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Porter Novelli. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

Giveaway closed.
Congrats to Jill from beautyliscious babe.

Be creative for happiness

Today we have a lovely guest post on how being creative brings happiness from the lovely 
Melissa from One Crafty Mumma! So love her blog and ideas.
Take it away Melissa.

When I start to think of the words creating + happiness together, they make me smile! 

I’m very passionate about making nice things and encouraging my children to create - whether it be sewing, cooking, drawing or making models in the shed. Both of my children were painting, drawing and playing with different mediums when they were toddlers and around the age of four years of age, they progressed into embroidery and sewing.

{first embroidery by James}

I’ve always encouraged (never pushed) their creativity and even though my 15 year old boy doesn’t pick up a needle, paint or often draw anymore - it makes me happy to know that he knows how to sew on a button and stitch up a seam if needed. He’s progressed into intricate tank/army miniature models and now spends hours sanding, building and learning all sorts of new techniques to benefit his building process. He’s still creating - just using a different medium. On saying that though, James glued and sewed his little sister the most beautiful Christmas present last year - a monster in a box. After a discussion with me about how he really wanted to make Bella something extra special for Christmas - we talked about options, I showed him some ideas and he spent several hours working on the project in his bedroom. The monster house takes pride of place on Bella’s chest of drawers in her bedroom, which makes me smile. I love how he created a heartfelt gift for his sister - that’s definitely happiness on a stick!

{Monster house + monster}

My daughter Bella (she’s 10) spends copious amounts of time creating new projects. She has lists inside her notebooks that include gift ideas for friends/family, bookmarked projects in craft books and usually several projects on the go at once. Lately she has been designing her own stitching projects - a couple of softies and some clothes for her beloved Blythe dolls. I can see that she's definitely following in her Mama's footsteps with her love of creating.

{First softie pattern - designed & stitched by Bella}

For me personally, creating is part of my life. It's my down time at the end of a day, something to keep my mind and hands active. Sometimes I crochet, sew, scrapbook or try out new crafts. In 2009 I had the opportunity to put together a special edition 'Australian Homesewn' magazine and that was an amazing experience for me - there were so many ideas running around in my head and it was a lot of fun to be able to transform them from pen to project. Last month I launched an online creative newsletter - Teapot - with a very dear friend of mine. It's a free fortnightly edition and full of tutorials, tips and snippets of our crafty lives, just like an extension of our blogs I guess.

A friend asked me the other day how we could be bothered starting a free newsletter and I realised that it boils down to our combined love of crafting. We both spend many hours creating different projects, so why not share them with the world, spread the happiness and encourage other people to craft. One of the loveliest emails I've ever received was from a lady that was going through a very dark time of her life. She wanted to thank me for encouraging her to take time out and create, describing it as her little piece of sunshine in a very black room. For me (& that sweet, lovely owner of the email), creating = happiness.

{My sewing space}

Thank you so much for having me along today, it was lovely to be able to spread the 'crafting' word. xox

** Thanks Melissa. That was inspiring! Today ladies I would love you to share:

What do you love to create and...
 in what way does it help you to feel happy?

Friday, June 24, 2011

forgive yourself for happiness

I have been putting off writing this post for a while. It is a topic I feel passionately about: Forgiveness. Forgiveness of others, but especially of ourselves, yourself even.

My thoughts have been tumbling around in my head for years now and I added it to my blog happiness list so then I had to write about it. I feel that it is an area that as women we need to talk about so much more.

I have written before about how I feel we are harsh on ourselves and need to let go of the past.

As women I feel we get so comfortable putting ourselves down, being critical of our efforts and end up internally speaking in a negative way about everything we do. It becomes a new normal for us and we end up seeing no way that we can make a change to start being positive again.

In thinking about forgiving yourself for happiness I want you to think about:

Have you done things you are not proud of?
Do you feel there is no way to solve your problems?
Do you constantly spend time reliving your past mistakes?
Are you carrying around unnecessary burdens you need to let go of?

So often we carry unneccessary heavy burdens.

We lug them around and let the weight of these feelings and thoughts wear us down, discourage us and depress us. We end up feeling worn out, tired from trying to escape these feelings and left with no where to run. Then when we hit rock bottom it finally dawns on us that WE are the ones who need to let go.

As a mother I have made many mistakes.
I have lost my temper, been the kind of mother at times I never believed I would be and could be. 

I have tried my best to fix situations the best I can after those moments. 
I have gone out of my way to say sorry, to restore love to my home and to start again. 

That part was easy, forgiving myself however was much more difficult.

I find it so hard to forgive myself for experiences or feelings that may have happened.

After I while I realise that all this time I have been wandering around waiting for someone else to help me, to relieve me when really it was all left up to me all along.

We are in control of forgiving ourselves.
Letting go of the past can set us free to forgive ourselves.
It is a conscience choice that we make. A gift that we give ourselves.

Why is it possible to forgive others so freely and not to forgive ourselves?
Why cannot we be as kind to ourselves as we are to others?

Surely we are worth this kind of treatment ourselves.
Surely we are not that bad and deserve such harshness and to be denied self love.

I have struggled over the years to give myself permission to forgive...myself.
To give myself the gift of self love and the chance to start again.

I love that every day is a fresh start. A chance to do better, to be better and to become better.
To move forward, to try again and to be happy.

I know that forgiving yourself does bring happiness.
It is possible and so worth the time and effort.

Several times I have had to give myself the gift to fall apart, to weep and to suffer and to feel the pain I have been carrying around, unconsciously trying to protect myself. When this has happened, I have prayed, sought guidance and forgiveness has flowed naturally and smoothly.

I have been able to move forward, to feel light and free.
Thankful in the knowledge that I am here to learn, to grow and to make mistakes.

Mistakes are normal, they are necessary and will happen.
As I lighten up and give myself a break, I feel so much happier.
At peace even. It is worth the time and effort.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Read good books

"There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book 
and a tired man who wants a book to read."
  G.K. Chesterton

I have always loved books. 
They have been an escape for me and filled my mind with beauty and adventure.

Books have taken me places I would never have dreamed of and helped my imagination run wild with delight. I love to discover new books that teach me fresh ideas, that help me to learn new words and carry me away to a new place of discovery.

We have many books in our home. I collect a variety of books that I love to read for pleasure. I have books on finance, books on gardening, books on parenting, books on religion and many classics. Having studied literary studies and children's literature at university, I was able to start increasing my personal library very quickly and since then have been expanding it to include many favourites.

Part of my library at home.

One of my all time favourite places to go is a little bookstore near my home. They have a great system in place where you can take books you have finished reading and exchange them for different books. When you take a book to the store you get credit at varying prices that you can put towards the new books that you want to purchase. It has been wonderful and I could spend days lost in that store. 

I have included a picture below:
It is jam packed with books and I just love getting lost in the masses of stories available for me to read. The store is called The Really Good Book Shop - of course!

Now, there are many benefits to reading but I believe it is important to develop a habit of reading good literature. I find it beneficial to my mind and overall happiness to open my mind to different ways of thought, to become more learned and to gain great knowledge. Even as a mother at home I continued to read and to educate myself. It often did not require very much time out of my day, even a paragraph of a book was uplifting and educating to me. I also found it helpful to put me to sleep at night!

My cherubs are always encouraged to be reading a book at all times. We generally get them to spend some time reading before bedtime and I just love finding them reading books like this:

So to help you out I asked around on facebook on my Seven Cherubs page what some lovely ladies would recommend for you to read. Here are some suggestions:

Sarita: All of Jodie Picoult's books, Barra Creek by Di Morrissey and Nineteen minutes
Tara: Mia Freeman's books, The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes
Felicity: Paulo Coelho, Isabel Allende, Mich Albom, Marcus Zusak's, The Book Thief
Cate: To kill a mockingbird, Lord of the flies, Water for elephants and Friendship bread by Darien Gee
Kate: The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons and The time travellers wife
Vanessa: The fire and the Covenant
Tracy: The history of Love by Nicole Krauss
Sharlene: Pillars of the Earth and World without end
Barbara: Terry Pratchett
Chrissy: Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates

*I have not read all of these books so please purchase and read at your own discretion.

A great site I just found that is awesome is: Kids Book Review.
Check them out.

What book are you currently reading???

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Be brilliant. Volunteer your time with community service. 500 hours

Being brilliant often does not take very much. All it requires is a thought or an idea and a little action. Today to inspire you to be brilliant, I have invited a friend of mine to share how she goes about being brilliant and encourages others to as well. Let me introduce you to Samantha from 500 hours. Here is her story. Enjoy x

Two people, one day a week for one year is 500 hours. This is how many hours my friend and I are donating to Kippa Ring State School this year to see how much impact we can have with a small amount of time and a specific focus.

We have called our project 500 Hours.

Ever since I was a little girl my parents taught me that often the best, most fulfilling and happiest times of your life are when you give yourself, your time, your talents away and expect nothing or little in return.

I thank God everyday I learnt this lesson at a young age because as a 28 year old with a fantastic husband who supports and gets involved and two beautiful daughters, one and three, our lives are so full of joy because we choose to give them away.

One of our commitments as a family has been to the 500 Hours Project at Kippa Ring State School.

Why Kippa Ring I hear you say......

Well some things we have learnt so far are:

• Half a dozen year 6/7 students can’t read beyond year 2 level

• More than 50% of prep students have the oral literacy skills of three and a half year olds (or less)

• 78% of students at this school are below the national average for socio educational advantage, meaning that the circum¬stances they are born into are impacting negatively on their educational advancement

• The teachers have great ideas, but zero time to action them which is where we come in.

• The ‘naughty boys’ shine when given a practical task that involves significant responsibility.

Some things we have done so far include:

• Successfully applied for a grant to employ a reading tutor to work one-on-one with half a dozen senior students

• Organised and sourced funds to create a support group for young women who are struggling to connect and have low self-esteem and body confidence issues, primarily as a direct result of disadvantage. This program is called Hula Helps and involves some Hula Hooping fun.

• Worked with a double year 6/7 class one hour a week, every week, focusing on life skills and social capital building to see if that has any impact on those students and their class over the course of the year. Activities have included guest facilitators, a regular gratitude exercise, self-awareness tasks and flood fundraising.

• Facilitated four groups of students to design, plan and run four flood fundraisers. Altogether they raised $1051.05 which was amazing for a school of 400ish students.

• Applied for an Artist-in-Residence grant for Circa to come into Kippa- Ring one day a week in term 3 to deliver circus workshops including aerials, tissue and object manipulation for two.

• Hula hooping classes with some of the Kippa Ring staff after school for a bit of fun, community building and exercise.

We have been at Kippa Ring a total of 2 terms now and feel like there is so much power and joy and possibility when you give yourself away to a place which needs it.

As a society we spend a lot of time analysing what the problems are but little time actioning any of the solutions. If all we do is look at the problems and there are so many it is very depressing!!!

Once you choose to say YES I will get involved, use me, that depression turns into inspiration and anything is possible!!

Getting into my car every Thursday after being at Kippa Ring my heart is often filled with joy and hope because I can see that giving away just one day a week has made such a big difference to me and the Kippa Ring kids.

If you want to find happiness, getting involved and giving yourself, your talents, your time away is a great place to start.

Feel free to check out our project HERE and use it to inspire your own ideas or help support our work at Kippa Ring State School.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and all the best at your attempts to help this world (including yourself) be happier!!! Samantha.

Wow! love what they are doing and creating to help spread happiness.
Here are the 2 ladies behind 500 hours:

Samantha Jockel has a double degree in Human Services and Theology. She has worked as a high school chaplain, peer educator and business trainer. She is well recognised for her work with Biddy Bags, a social enterprise providing income generation for mature aged women via use of their traditional crafting skills. Samantha’s superpower is ‘making things happen’. 
Lisa Burnett has dedicated her working life to sup¬porting young people to achieve their best; helping them to identify and build strengths and recognise that if they want to succeed ‘it’s up to them’. Lisa has high-level skills in project management, grant writing, event management, mentoring, facilitation and design. Lisa’s superpower is ‘attention to detail’.

Thanks so much ladies.
You are brilliant and so inspiring!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fox in flats: Have a happy outfit

Today to help out with my happiness posts I have the lovely Andrea from Fox in Flats guest posting about clothing and how they can bring a dash of happiness to your life. Check her out below... isn't she the perfect person for this post! Thanks Andrea xx

Clothes that take me to my “happy place”

A few months ago my 5 year old son was a little glum, and in his funk simply refused to get dressed.

Usually, one of two things will pull him out of a bad mood: a cuddle and a chat, or a treat of some kind. On that day, even a Freddo Frog wouldn’t do the trick, so I decided to free-style a little. I asked him, tickling under his tiny chin: “Hey little man, how about today, choosing all of your favourite things to wear at once? I’ll bet that will cheer you up!”

He fixed me with those big grey eyes, shrugged and sighed, “Alright, mum, if you say so…” and then slowly walked to his closet.

I returned five minutes later to find an excited little munchkin jumping on his bed with glee. He was wearing bright green rubber boots, swirly patterned shorts, a bright orange T-shirt with a monster on the front, a sheepskin vest with badges all over it, and an eye patch. That oufit – crazy as it may seem – made his heart sing.

Later, I got to thinking about my wardrobe. Did I have a “happy outfit”?

I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have one thing per-se, but a number of things that I love to wear, but often save for special occasions: Bright lipstick, my faux fur, and many of my accessories: necklaces, hats, cuffs, sunglasses etc. I had figured that on a day to day basis at home with the kids these things are just are not suitable.

But then, I set a challenge: to dress in at least one ‘favourite’ thing, every day for a week.

Monday: Bright orange lipstick to school drop off.
Tuesday: Faux Fur to the grocery store.
Wednesday: My favourite hot pink ruffled blouse with jeans around the house.
Thursday: A raspberry beret to the gym.
Friday: A sequin jacket to the park.

{the jacket worn at the park! love it!!}

What a week! What a thrill! And what a laugh!

The lipstick made me feel like a glamorous Parisian, the blouse made me feel oh-so giggly. The beret made me feel quirky & chirpy, and my son said the sequins lit me up like stars in the sky. And even while the fur was met with questioning looks by the other mums in Coles, I felt a bit like a movie star, popping out to get supplies for a fabulous soiree (instead of the reality of a trolley full of toilet paper, milk, bananas, and Tiny Teddies).

And since that week, when I’m feeling a bit down, or under the weather, I pull out one – or more - of my favourite things. So if you ever see a mum in the playground wearing bright lipstick, sequins, and faux fur around morning tea time, instead of thinking that she is in her way back from clubbing the night before and calling DOCS, just smile, and know she’s just gone to her happy place.

Andrea is a mother of two little boys who she credits for the motherhood induced fashion rut that she fell into sometime between the labour ward and now. She created Fox in Flats to share tips, ideas and inspiration to make it much, much easier to navigate motherhood in style. You can also find her on facebook.

As a challenge today I think we should all go searching in our wardrobes and pick out an item to wear that will make us happy. An item that will make us smile and even feel a little giggly. By the way the winner of the Agoo $50 voucher is Mel. Congrats Mel - look out for an email from me. Naomi x

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to be happy * Say No

Well, today is a happy day for me. Matt is doing a guest post and it means I can take the day off! 
Woo hoo! thanks sweetheart. I hope you enjoy some of Matt's thoughts in relation to happiness.

Hi, I am Matt, Naomi’s husband and if you want to see my first and only secret post click here

This time I thought I would try a guest post to support Naomi with her crazy ambition to write a whole month worth of posts on Happiness. When she gets a good idea, she goes for it. Then she asks herself – can I really do all that? That’s where I come in. To show reassurance, support and time, these are three ingredients I try to add to our relationship. 

Really what I want to say is “No, you can’t do it”, but usually it is too late and I believe my role is to give her wings to fly, not hold her down with all the doubts that we already tell ourselves.

Early in our courting I said to Naomi, “I am a YES man!” Being a YES man was only in relation to saying YES to helping people and serving opportunities. You know, like, ‘Who will volunteer?’ … ME… you can count on me. When I was single I could help people and do all kinds of things, when and however long I wanted to do them. So, whenever I got asked to do something, I would consider my time and circumstances and typically would say YES. It was only at my inconvenience and possible cost. If I had little to live off for a couple of days, only I had to worry about it, so I just made some simple sacrifices if I needed to.

Then I got married. I now had more to consider and Naomi was very patient in teaching me some priorities in relation to my enthusiastic character and what it means if I say YES to everything.

If I say YES to spending time helping people everywhere each week, I am not at home with the family. If I say YES to spending money, will there be enough left to support the whole family? Our children, now that they are a little older, have began speaking and asking for everything under the sun, so Naomi taught me a new word “NO”.

In relation to saying NO and happiness I have learned to use a ‘family filter’ when asked to help others. I put the request up to the light of the filter and consider if the cost or the service will impact our family. If our family is the priority (which it is in most cases), I have learned to say “NO”. If it includes our family and there is an opportunity for us all to get involved, “YES” is a good option.

I am still a secret ‘YES’ man, but only to my wife who is very kind and reasonable. Our seven cherubs have also helped to teach me how to say NO. I find myself saying NO a little too frequently sometimes, so I do make it a point to find a way to say YES. Then I don’t always become a negative father.

In learning to say NO… there is still one area I need to learn and that is self-control when it comes to food and chocolate. Although I have gone without chocolate two times for the duration of a year and I end up learning something about myself. I have found it is not enough to sufficiently stop my eating too much, too often. I need to learn to say, “NO more thank you, I have had eloquent sufficiency”, which is a nice way of saying “NO, NO, NO”. Saying No in this way will help me physically feel happier and give me more energy to help others when asked to.

You have now probably had eloquent sufficiency of my appearance on this blog. Naomi is the one who is a good writer. I also enjoy reading her blog posts, thank you to all who read and leave comments. You are all very kind and honest readers/bloggers.

We all find it difficult to say No at times, what do you have trouble saying ‘NO’ to?


Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to be happy * Be Romantic

Romance and they go together for you???

Are you a romantic at heart or are you at a stage of life where it has become a thing of the past???

I love a little romance in my life and even with children, Matt and I try our best to plan in some time out dates and romance to keep our love alive. It takes thought, planning and preparing to make it happen.

Every so often we get caught up in our busy schedules and become slack in focusing on each other. When this happens we sit down and try to plan out when we are going to go out for dates and what date ideas we can do at home. We try to make every Friday night date night. It does not always work out that way but mainly we try to keep this night just for us.

When our cherubs were younger and we knew it was going to be difficult to get out for date time, we planned a whole year of date nights ideas and slotted them in every Friday night for a year. If a Friday night came up with a date idea that we did not feel like doing or could not get to work we simply swapped it for another one. I will have to blog about them some time. Here are a few examples:

Play a board game
Cook a dessert together
Hire a movie to snuggle and watch together
Write each other poetry - so funny!
Eat dinner late after the kids are in bed with candles
Draw a portrait of each other - hilarious!
Give each other a massage
Leave love notes for each other to find

Our ideas were simple and they were activities that allowed us to spend time together and to just focus on each other. They often involved being kind to each other and small acts of service. In this way we were able to remember that even though our relationship with our cherubs is important, our relationship with each other is the most important. We value our marriage and believe in putting time and effort to make it work and to keep our romance alive.

I wanted to introduce you to a lovely site that I found called the Dating Divas. The focus of this site is on strengthening marriages, one date at a time. Here are the lovely ladies who contribute to the site below:

They have some great date ideas with pictures and printouts to help you have a lovely romantic time together. As you can see there are many ladies contributing so there is a great variety to choose from.

Some other sites you may be interested in that relate to romance are:
Love Actually
Loving you
Nifty Date ideas

It does not cost a lot of money to be romantic. It does not need to always involve flowers or chocolate, even though they are lovely. For us it involves the little things like, holding hands, opening a door, a smile, a wink and kind words. These little things make my life wonderful and bring me much more happiness than diamonds and jewellery and for me - that is really saying something!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How to be happy * Indulge

Hot chocolate heaven!

INDULGE: to allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of

Hmmm.... I have never been one to shy away from taking a moment to indulge.
In fact...I think I spend a little too much time indulging...especially in relation to hot chocolates.

In relation to happiness - I believe it is important to take some time out to enjoy the pleasure of things that you love. There is absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself on a regular basis and I would totally encourage you to have something that you love to look forward to.

Indulging does not have to involve spending a lot of money, it does not have to involve food and it does not have to involve partaking in excess. It can be simple and short and small. 

It all depends upon what you love to do and what brings you joy.

Some examples of indulging could be:
*A nice cold drink on a hot day
*Reading a chapter of a book in a quiet room
*An afternoon window shopping
*A hot bubble bath to relax
*Wearing more than one necklace at once
*Spending an extra ten minutes in bed in the morning
*Holding your baby cherub for a little longer than normal
*Painting your toenails a new bright colour
*A long hot shower

All of these activities could be normal everyday activities for you but it all depends on how you look at it. If you see it as an activity that brings you happiness and pleasure you will find the experience that much more enjoyable because you appreciate it in your life. It can then be an activity that you desire to indulge in on a regular basis, therefore bringing you greater happiness.

So what do you find pleasure in???
What do you indulge in???

p.s ~ I am also guest posting over at Alice Becomes today on how I live in the moment.
Linking up with Maxabella. Check it out.