Monday, March 26, 2012

blogging tips: How to find time to blog

One of the questions I get asked the most as a blogging tip is:
How do you find time to blog?

When I first started a blog I set myself a goal that I would fit it around my family time. My family comes first in my heart and I did not want my blog to become the first priority for me. In saying that I also believe that it is important as a woman and mother to have time to follow your passions in life, to do what you love to do and to make time in your schedule for those passions. With those two ideas in mind I set out to find a comfortable balance of taking care of my family and also following my passion and running my blog. 

In the beginning I found running a blog took up a lot of my time. I would spend a great deal of time on each blog post (mainly because I lacked confidence in my writing) and extra time learning about blog code, SEO and all the other aspects of having a blog. I would write my blog posts at night time after the kids went to bed and would often stay up really late commenting on other blogs. 

Now, I manage my blog very differently. I now get up early in the morning to write. I find my mind is clearer in the morning, I have fresh ideas and I can get my writing done faster compared to late at night where it felt like it would take me 10 minutes to put one sentence together! Getting up that little bit earlier gives me time to myself, I start my day doing something that I love to do and I feel happier for the rest of the day because I have written my thoughts out and I have had some 'me time'.

I also keep several blog posts on the go at once. If I have an idea I start writing out my thoughts and I will often come back to finish it off later on when I am having a day where I am not feeling very inspired. Every so often I will spend a night batch blog post writing. I might get Matt to take the kids out or they might all go and watch a movie in our rumpus room and I will sit down and smash out 5 or 6 blog posts in that one night. Then I can schedule them throughout my week and I can spend more time on my family.

I also have a blog notebook to write down any ideas about blog posts that I have and will refer to it when I do my blog writing. Often with one idea I can get 3 or 4 blog posts out of it. However, I find one of my biggest problems is that I have too many ideas and not enough time!

I also plan out in advance what blog posts I am going to post for the month on my blog. I write up a schedule and then discipline myself to stick to it. I say discipline because often I am not in the mood for writing those blog posts or for posting that topic on that certain day and I find it takes discipline to stick to a plan. 

I think that a lot of people who start a blog are shocked at how much work it is to run one. It really does take a lot of work to maintain but if it is something that you love to do, it will not feel like work as you love it and are passionate about it. 

For me personally, I am constantly working on ways to balance it better with my family. I pay attention to how my children are feeling towards me and my blog. If they feel I am spending too much time on it I cut back. I post less often and I drop the extra time of replying to comments. I love to reply to comments but if my children need me then it becomes my priority to reply to my children when they need me instead. I also try to keep a bunch of blog posts in reserve so that if I want to take a couple of weeks off to focus more on my family I can. This way my blog will keep running as I schedule those blog posts in and it becomes kind of like taking a blog holiday but nobody knows you are taking one!

I really appreciate that my readers know that my family comes first for me. They understand that I am not good at replying back some days, that I do appreciate every comment and that I love to write and to share my thoughts and ideas. Letting your readers know what your priorities are really helps you manage your blog and time as well. Then there is less pressure and expectation upon you as a blogger.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

dangers of suppressing depression

A keeping it real blog post.

I have spent a great deal of my life suppressing depressing feelings and memories.
Pushing them to the back of my mind and hoping that by doing so they would disappear.

The only way I found I could surivive was to treat my mind like a filing cabinet. I would file away experiences that hurt under different topics, boys - file, family - file, friends - file, until one day my filing cabinet became full, too overcrowded and overloaded with 'paperwork' to fit in any more.

I was in trouble. Big trouble.
I now had to face my stored up feelings and to deal with them one piece of paper at a time.

Often I think we believe that by storing it away or by blocking our hurt or pain we are helping ourselves or doing ourselves a favour. When in actual fact we are making life worse for ourselves by not dealing with issues or experiences in a healthy way.

Imagine my friend file, with piece of paper after piece of paper piling up on top of each other in my mind of hurt feelings that I had not dealt with. In the process of trying to help myself I actually ended up intensifying and highlighting the hurt by creating such a large file.

I became more sensitive, more protective and more intense in trying not to add to this file that by my own behaviour I actually ended up adding to it faster than I normally would have. In the end I even started to avoid friendships so then I would not have to deal with being hurt and taking the risk of adding to my pile.

It became a habit and in a way limited my ability to form healthy relationships.

Life is about being hurt and facing challenges and it is also about feelings, good and bad. I still have a long way to go in cleaning out my filing cabinet but the good news is I am working on it. I am decluttering, I am bringing up old paperwork and feeling, really feeling and opening my heart to new experiences.

If I get hurt along my life journey, I cry, I talk about it and I move on.
I have wasted too much of my life carrying unnecessary hurts and pains and burdens.

None of it made me happy, none of it was worth it and none of it lead me to a healthier life.

I have personally found that suppressing my depressing feelings is dangerous. That it leads to feeling worse about yourself and not better. There is freedom in letting yourself feel. Sure it hurts, it is hard to deal with and it takes time to get over it sometimes, but you are in control of how you respond to experiences and situations. That is real freedom. That is liberating!


{Just to be clear in this post - when I am talking about feeling depressed, I am talking about it being a stage in life when we feel sad or low as your life is not heading in the way you want it to be or you feel as if you are not living the life you want to be living. I am not talking about clinical depression.}

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

easy ideas display kids craft art projects

This year I am on my last year of displaying kids kindy craft art projects.
You know like the one cleverly, crafted and created above.

I have a love/hate relationship with these projects.
Love that my kids were creative, hate trying to fit them into my home!

I have seen my fair share of awesome (sometimes hard to love) craft projects come into my home. 
I have also used many different techniques to display them so my cherubs feel special.

Here are my tops ideas for displaying kids craft art projects:

1. The good old fridge. I don't know of any child who does not love their art work on the fridge. Super easy and seen everyday by everyone in the family.

2. Pin up board. This can be placed anywhere around the house. In the kids bedroom, play room or any family room so that it can be seen and appreciated by everyone.

3. Hang them on wire with pegs to display in rows on a wall in your home. If you have a large family or very creative children this is a great idea to create a dedicated space for displaying the kids art work.

4. A clothes airer. Just like they use in kindergartens. Bring the kindy home by displaying it outside under a veranda or in another room. Great as it can easily be folded away at anytime and also be used for the washing! Double role!

5. Display them in frames. Putting your cherubs art work up on a wall in a frame around the home helps them feel special and highlights the great work that they have done.

6. Open display scrapbook on the kitchen table. A way to keep artwork finger safe under protective sleeves and it can be referred to as the child's special art book that can be talked about during dinner.

7. One of my favourite things we have done is to lay down art work all over our kitchen table and to then cover with a clear plastic table covering so that it is see through and protected. Makes a fun table decoration and the kids can look at whenever they are sitting at the table. Great way for extended family or friends visiting to also see what art work has been created without it being destroyed.

8. For larger craft or art projects I sit them on our bookshelf or even on a hall table to be displayed and looked at. This way they are in sight of my cherubs until the time comes that they need to be disposed of for the next craft or art project because we can only have one craft project per child on display you know!

In my lounge room I have two large frames I picked up cheap that I have filled with my cherubs art work. It really brightens my room and everyone comments on it when they come in our home. My cherubs love that we have highlighted the great work that they have done. I also have a cottage looking coat hanger that hangs in my lounge (to the left in this picture above) where I can hang and display art work. At the moment it is showing off an awesome creation of Matt that Sam and Eli made.

By the way the large craft project in the first picture above that Liberty is holding is sitting in our hallway near the umbrellas and shoes until I can sneak it into the bin. Cute project but a little large for my liking!

How do you display your kids craft art projects?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

10 things Naomi from Seven Cherubs

10 things you might not know about me:

1. As a teenager I was a competition trampolinist

2. I have a great fear of large spiders 

3. I completed and passed a grooming, deportment and modelling course 

4. I did not own my first car until we got married

5. Even though I love reading I have never read any of the Twilight books or seen any of the movies

6. I have never, ever played a game of basketball

7. I totally rock at dancing to Michael Jackson on the Wii

8. After living in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga) for while and working in schools there, I one day want to collect a whole heap of children's books to send to there to stock up the school libraries as they have hardly any books and it broke my heart.

9. Matt and I made an agreement when we were engaged that we would never own a dog 
(The kids will never ever forgive us or get over it!)

10. Every time I fill my car up with petrol I buy a chocolate.
(In the last couple of weeks I have been encouraging Matt to fill the car up with petrol)
(I am currently stopping this habit as of today!!!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10 Steps to More Happiness

Guest post by Kalani:

I love the topic of happiness.  The toughest thing I have learned about happiness is that you have to seek it – but the best thing I have learned is that it can be found in every day. I thought I would share with you 10 ideas that help me focus and find happiness. I want so much to have it and I want so much for you to have it too. The great thing is that it is here and accessible to us all.

1. Start your day in an inspiring way. I like to read a scripture, a page from an inspiring day book and review a wise quote each morning. This helps me to start my day on a bright and positive note and to try to maintain that perspective all day.

2. Accept that life and people are not perfect. When we remember and accept that life and relationships can be a bumpy road we can accept the bumps a little easier. Knowing that this is how it is for everyone else also seems to make it all more okay. It is okay. There is always something in every day to love and appreciate. Some days are and will be better than others.

3. Make a list of things that make you happy and then make time to do them. If you have ten minutes or two hours, you can fill in life’s little spare moments with joy. On my list are reading a book, calling a friend, working on an art project, watching an inspiring TV show, baking, or buying a few flowers and putting them around my home.

4. Plan things to look forward to. When I know I have something fun on the calendar, it keeps me cheerfully going. Plan little things, plan big things, they all help. Often we have to work these into our busy days, but in the end we realize nothing was lost by changing the schedule a bit. If anything we are more effective at the everyday tasks when we’ve taken some time away to recharge our batteries and feed our souls.

5. Spend time with friends. One of the great joys of my life is meeting a friend regularly for a good chat. It is invigorating to hear about her adventures, challenges and dreams. She always teaches me something new that inspires and guides me forward. Spending time with friends also reminds me that life isn’t perfect for any of us. When I see them tackling their challenges and dealing with life’s imperfections, I know I can do it too.

6. Make happy changes. Sometimes in life, without realizing it we numbly put up with things that make us sincerely unhappy not realizing that we can and should change them. If you find happiness destroyers in your life, whether they be people, places or things, make little changes and if necessary make BIG changes.

7. Serve others. There is nothing that makes a person feel better about the world or their own life than performing service for another. This can be little things like smiling and holding a door open for someone or big things like helping a friend pack up their home and move. There is a high that comes from showing simple care for others – and the best part is that both giver and receiver are awarded that joy.

8. Keep a journal. Every day write down what made you happy that day. You will be surprised how this colors your view of your life. Being grateful for all you have in life increases joy and happiness exponentially.

9. Smile. Putting a smile on your face makes chemical changes in your level of happiness. It affects how everyone reacts to you and creates positive energy in your world and theirs.

10. Live in the present & treasure simple moments. On some of our worst days we have stopped and walked on the beach. The breeze, the sun, the sand and water help us to calm down and just be – be there, love each other and drink in the good energy. Little moments – hugs, smiles, kind words, walks, sunshine – treasure them and you’re heart will feel joy and remember it.

Sending you warmest wishes for happiness in your every day.

After a career in corporate marketing and PR, Kalani Cropper, a trained journalist, has returned to her first true love, writing. She is also having a mad affair with her second true love, creativity and is so happy to mix the two on her blog, kalanicut.  Since college, she has designed and sold cards, toiletries bags, handbags, skirts, jewelry and other accessories. She also often dabbles in event planning and home organization. She gives thanks daily for a loving, hilarious and wise extended family, The Man and The Little Bug – who all fill her life with great laughter, learning, fulfillment and joy. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

an empty bucket

I am having one of those days where I feel like my bucket is empty.
Where I feel like I have nothing left to give.

The kids have drained me, 
I feel exhausted from keeping up with the housework, 
I am having trouble keeping up with the bills and school notices, 
I am way behind on my emails, 
 I cannot keep enough food in the house, 
I am having trouble finding time for me this week, 
I feel like I am letting my friends down, 
I am not getting enough sleep, 
I am worn out, 
tired and exhausted.

My bucket is empty.
I am empty.

On days like this I let everything go.
My priority becomes to fill my bucket, to fill me.

I start with a good cry.
I pull myself together and start to plan.
I put myself first.

I plan in one thing that I know will uplift me.
Everything else can just wait.

I do that one thing just for me.
I do it if we need food, I do it if the kids are crying and want my attention.
I do it to survive.

I enjoy it, I savour it and I allow myself to feel it.
I smile for a moment and I count my blessings.

Then I get right back to taking care of my family.
That one thing that was just for me - fills my bucket.

It gives me the strength to keep going.
It gives me a bucket full enough for others to drain.

If you have days like this:
What do you do to fill up your bucket?