My Sweet Revenge: Prologue

Prologue: Introduction

Victim: a person hurt, killed, damaged or destroyed
Survivor: a person who manages to live or exist or keep going despite hardship
Thriver: a person who grows or develops well or vigorously

* I remember that night as if it was yesterday. The way that it started out like any other night at home but ended up being a night that would affect me for the rest of my life. It is incredible how one incident, one small moment in time can define you and follow you for the rest of your days. How a single moment as a young impressionable child can imprint and determine how you see yourself, stipulate who you are and determine your self worth.

I had gone to bed like normal, climbing under the covers, hoping to fall asleep right away. I remember laying in the dark and hearing my parents go to bed. The house fell silent. The darkness descended upon our home and night time had fallen. My bed was positioned by the door, along a wall, opposite the bathroom. I was struggling to sleep. I might have cried, I might have made some noise that echoed in the darkness. I don’t know. I don’t remember. 

I rolled over in my bed and there in the doorway I could faintly see a tall figure. His outline just visable from the light that reflected from the bathroom window. The bathroom light snapped on revealing his tall naked outline.

“What are you doing awake?” he asked.
“I can’t sleep” I replied.
“I can help you, I can make you go to sleep. Move over and let me get in.” he said.

He lay down next to me. Snuggling under the covers. He had his back to the wall and I could only make out his outline in the darkness. He turned his body towards me so that he was facing me. He talked quietly to me in the night, so as not to disturb my sister who was also sleeping in the room. He began to touch me. He touched me in a way that was new to me. He said he was trying to help me to get to sleep. It sent a chill through me.

He began talking to me and repeating, “I know you want this, you have always wanted this since you were little, a little girl. You have always wanted me to show you.” The darkness grew thicker and I remember the silence. He left as quickly as he arrived. One moment he was there, the next he was gone. I lay in bed and wondered how I was going to get to sleep. I wondered how to sleep when I felt wet. I quietly got up, slipped into the bathroom and got a towel. I lay the towel on my bed and went to sleep. I fell into a new sleep that would take me years to wake up from. *


They say everyone has a story to tell. A part of their lives that is unique to them, that will help another, touch a heart and make a difference. I don't know if my own personal story qualifies to do that but in my quiet heart I have hidden a story that longs to be told. It is a simple story of overcoming rejection, seeking validation and of thriving under difficult circumstances. This may be one of the hardest things I have ever written, but it is a story busting to be told. My heart gently encourages me to tell it.

I have fought this story for many years. I have protected it and squashed it down every time I have felt it start to rise. But, my story wants to be set free, to be recorded and to be remembered. As I write out the words I start to feel the last strands or chains that were holding me back, snap and disappear. As I embrace the feelings in my heart and acknowledge and validate my own personal journey I begin to flourish. To grow vigorously into the future and to create a new ending to my life.

As I speak openly and honestly about the truth I learn more about myself and discover who I really am. This story is not about everyone else. This is about me. It is about me living the rest of my life in the best way I can and embracing where I have come from. It is a daring step for me to be so selfish to share my heart, to take the time to write this and to record how I really feel about my life. As you read through my journey you will begin to see why this is a healing process for me and why recording these words have validated who I have become today.

This is the story of my journey from moving from victim to survivor to thriver. It is a story that continues to be written as I continue to grow and what is most important to me is that I keep moving forward, I keep feeling and living my life in a way that helps me to progress. I know that I will still have my up’s and down’s and I will still face challenges along my way but the fact that I have taken the time to acknowledge who I am, where I started and the tragedies of my life is a dream come true for me. At times I struggled to ever see myself reaching this stage!

As Brene Brown shares ‘owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” In sharing my thoughts I know I am embracing my discomfort, my despair and my heartache and claiming back those feelings and turning them into a place of power and determination to be better. In writing this I am also facing the demons of my childhood and the hard facts that happened to me. I have learnt that these experiences have been key in shaping my mindset of how I feel about myself and my behaviour even to this day.

I have spent years trying to face the truth and to gather enough self esteem and strength to even get to the stage of acknowledging what has happened to me. I am now happy that I am past that stage. I have openly acknowledged being abused and even shared some emotions and experiences that I have had previously in my life. I am now delighted to say that I am no longer a victim or a survivor in life. I am a thriver. I am on a new journey of thriving in my life every single day.

Abuse may have claimed many early years of my life but it no longer controls me. I have taken charge. I have broken those chains holding me back and I have set myself free. By breaking the silence I am encouraging others to speak out with courage and to free themselves from their own personal experiences. Silence is what abusers want most. They want us to keep our mouths closed, to hold the torture inside and to keep the ordeal to ourselves.

This is my brave journey of how I have set myself free and have moved on in life.

For those of you who may be squirming in having read this far and maybe are thinking I should keep my thoughts to myself and not speak out, I want you to know that I have spent most of my life dealing with this alone and unable to discuss it in my family. It has been a heartbreaking and lonely journey.

I do not excuse what I have to say or write about. I must speak out and do what I need to do to heal myself. Would you deny me that opportunity in life? Because of abuse I have lost my parents, I have lost the chance to connect with them in a normal natural way and by speaking out about it I hope to help the cycle of abuse stop in other homes. Children have the right to share how they feel and to be listened to. They are a voice that needs to be heard. They also have the right not to be touched in ways they don’t want to be.

In writing this I hope to inspire and encourage people to accept that yes, life can deal you harsh blows, yes life is not fair and yes, you can move forward and create a new life with a new ending that is happy, full of love and laughter. It is possible to recover, to heal and to begin again in a new way.

This is not one of those sweet, fairy tale stories. It is raw, it is real and it is not a self help book for others. It is my own self help book, of how I helped myself overcome depression, overcome abuse and overcome my own doubts. It is more a testament, a statement, an announcement, a proclamation that abuse is real, is evil and needs to be spoken of and faced. The more we talk about it the more we can help other’s overcome it. My goal is to speak out, to touch hearts and to stop the silence, to stop the whispering and to fight against those who abuse. I hope you enjoy my story. It is not magnificiant, it is not written with eloquent writing, it is not incredible or remarkable, but it is mine.

Bedroom Makeover: DIY Paper Bunting

Often when I get in the mood to do a little craft project I never end up making it happen because either I can't be bothered going out to the shops to find supplies or what I need doesn't fit into our budget. Last week I was in the mood for a little bedroom makeover and decided upon a craft project that was easy to do, didn't require me leaving the house and where I had all the supplies already at home. I decided to make a paper bunting project to hang above our bed. 

So easy and cheap! Here is how I made it:

1. First of all decide on the bunting shape that you want and how large you want it to be. I decided to go with this look instead of a triangle bunting look. I then cut out a simple shape or template I wanted. So I used a paper template like this:

2. Then chose what background you want for the bunting. I wanted it to be paper or words. You could use any paper with a pattern or even material if you wanted. To make it even more special for me I used pages from a old set of scriptures we had around the house. I know shock horror!

3. I then traced the outline of my template onto the pages and cut them out. It is a good idea at this time to know what word you want to use so you know how many pages you will need to make. As I have young children who love to touch everything and I wanted this to last a while, I then glued the page cut outs of my bunting template onto cardboard. You could use old cereal boxes to do the trick. Nobody will see the back of it and be able to tell.

4. When I had picked what word I wanted to spell out , I simply typed it up into a word document. I chose a font that was thick and bold. I then made the letters large and the right size to fit on the size of the bunting template I was using. I then printed the words out and cut out each letter. I decided to use black lettering but you could pick any colour you wanted.

5. When I had cut out each letter I then carefully glued each letter onto the paper bunting shape. Really easy and simple to do and just be careful you don't use too much glue as you are working with letters that are all black and it will make a mess.

6. When it was dry I then picked what string or look I wanted for the bunting to hang up with. I wanted something really simple so I just used some white wool I had in a cupboard. I simply used sticky tape to tape it across the back. Then I hung it up on our wall above out bed!

I really love it and has created a whole new look to our bedroom. 
I also love that it now means I have a smily face hanging above our bed! 

Ohhhhh! Tear drops....

See this look above. It is currently driving me crazy! My children know that in our house we speak kindly to each other, we don't call each other names and one of the ways we show love is with our words. Well, lately my children have been finding a way to get around this....

Let me introduce you to the new saying in my house... "Ooooohhhhh! Tear drops" which is used with a pretend sad look and a finger placed on your cheek!

It comes out whenever someone says something that they don't like, that they don't agree with or just because they love to do it and it relates to nothing at all! My efforts to explain that this is not really a loving gesture and a way of being kind have recently been falling on deaf ears. I am thinking we need a whole family night dedicated to this topic! Oh! The Joy!!

The things kids say these days. 
I see many more family nights on these types of topics in the future.

Although I must say when I see this face being pulled I am tempted to walk past and simply say:

Seeker of Happiness: Feeling Happy In My Skin

Happiness does not come naturally to me. I have unfortunately over the years developed an association and almost friendly connection with negative self talk. We get along very well together and it is where I feel most at ease. Daily trashing myself. So to overcome this I like to call myself a seeker of happiness because every day that I wake up and pull myself out of bed, I have to make a concerted effort to seek for happiness in my day and in myself. I have slowly become better at finding happiness and the older I get the more I find happiness in the simple things in life.

I don't have this problem, and yes I do think it is a problem, with how I think about my family, my friends or anyone else around me. Only about myself. When I look at other people I see good and I see potential. When I look at myself I see mistakes and I see limits. To overcome this natural disposition to be a little melancholy within my own mind, I set myself goals and challenges that relate to my body. Physically challenges to help me feel a little more happier, to help me feel a little more connected and to help me feel as if I am improving. 

As most of you know I set myself a goal to run 10K. I worked hard for it and achieved it. I felt good about myself and I felt happy. When I was exercising each day I felt a real happiness boost and I felt self love for who I am and where I was going in life. Now that I have finished that goal I am right back to where I started. Trashing myself. This always leads to me putting on more weight and to feeling a lack of energy in my life.

For me, the greatest struggle is to have a regular, consistent, healthy mindset where I feel happy about the skin I am in. I don't really have a problem with the way that I look. I can't do much to change that. I can't grow any taller, I can't change the shape of my feet or the way my face looks. I was created this way and it is the way I will always be. I even wrote a blog post about how I heart my saggy baggy body. But, what I can do is change the way that I think about myself and improve my current fitness level. My fitness level always has a direct correlation to my mindset. The fitter I am, the less I trash myself.
So I have taken on a new challenge. Did anyone just roll their eyes? Here she goes again! This time I have done something completely different. I have signed up to a regular program of healthy eating and exercise with an online trainer {Lifestyle Rescue for Working Mums}. I am not at a stage in my life where I feel confident attending the gym so having someone online allows me to still be motivated in the comforts of my own home. It involves regular chats about where I am at, setting goals and doing the tasks assigned to them, 3 exercise skype sessions a week and I am taking pictures of all the food I eat. Can I just say that this a great way to actually see what you are eating and at first it was a little confronting to see what I am actually shoving in my mouth! 

I am working on eating less sugar, smaller portions {killing me!}, more fruit and vegetables and spending a lot more of my time doing squats, lunges, pushups and the plank {double killing me!}. I am even, shock horror, eating the same food some days to help me stay focused and have been trying out new food items such a soy milk, oat milk and rice milk and really trying to change my diet. I have been finding the results are worthwhile and helping me to feel better about myself. The longer I am following this plan the more I feel happier in my skin. 

For the last couple of weeks I have been doing really well and then I hit an obstacle. I started writing a book. Each day I would spend more and more time sitting at my computer smashing out my story and spending too much time sitting on my butt. I started to slacken off and I let my exercise and eating slip. So I contacted Vlad {the trainer}. He was very understanding and worked out a new plan for me that involved a short exercise routine in the morning, a short walk during the day and some stretches to do before bedtime. I loved that I could still be motivated during this crazy time and it has given me the extra motivation to get this book finished so I can get back to my normal routine. 

I am hoping that by following a regular plan that I can really start to speak a little kinder to myself on a regular basis as well. This is not a short term challenge that will have an ending, I am trying to change my lifestyle so that I can feel happier in my skin. So that each day it will flow more and more naturally for me to seek that happiness in my life and be more positive within myself. In the meantime whilst I am waiting for that to happen, I am very excited to welcome back size 12 into my life. You have been gone way too long and I miss you! 

Bring on those salads and planks! I have been missing size 10 as well!

writing from the heart: living with an angry heart

As you know I am currently writing a book. I have over the last few weeks developed a newfound respect for those who write. I am personally finding it an incredible journey. I am learning and developing and discovering my voice. My writing voice, my blog voice and my voice in my heart. As I am writing a memoir, it is even more challenging. Part of me finds this absolutely crazy as I am still only young but another part of me can't resist the challenge of telling my story so far. It is emotional and it is mentally draining. Like right now I have a problem with the main character in my book, namely myself! Trying to escape yourself each day is a difficult task and it is one of the reasons why I am trying to write this book as fast as I can. 

{Just passed the 30,000 word mark by the way!}

In thinking of how I am going to share this book I at first thought I needed to create a new website for it as I want to keep my blog more of a happy place. A positive place focused on family. However, this book I am writing is part of me. It is also part of my blog voice. I have written about some confronting issues here on my blog and tried to write about them in a positive way. I have shared how my heart has been hurt, how I have worked hard to develop my self esteem and how I have spent a great deal of my life angry and depressed. I am also writing a lot about this in my book. It is more about how I have tried to overcome those feelings than the experiences surrounding them. It is not really a self help book for others but more how I chose to help myself during my life.

I wrote a blog post about living with an angry heart in September this year. I published it and then took it off. I felt it was too dark for my blog. But, you know what? What I wrote is me and this blog is all about me and my life. My words were part of my life and how I have felt at that time. At first when I published it I felt brave, I felt it would help others and then I felt like I had maybe gone to far. That I had been too bold and too honest. 

Writing a blog is a learning experience. I have no problem sharing that I struggle with the choices I make on here some days. I try to be consistent and confident with what I have to say but some days I make mistakes and let my emotions get the better of me. So I now I want to republish it and own it. It is a little taste of what I am writing about each day. It is an insight into my heart and who I am. Right now I am embracing who I am and where I have come from. I have come a long way and I want to encourage others to take the same journey. 

So here are my words from September. Some of you have already read them and I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. I also know I may be coming across as a little crazy or even stupid doing this but right now I am deep in loving and owning my own story and this is what I need to do to encourage myself to be braver and to own who I really am. Who I am is not always nice and sweet and lovely. I am real, I feel, I hurt and I work hard to be better. 

"I know a thing or two about living with an angry heart. I spent much of my younger years full of hatred. The kind of hate that makes you want to hurt someone. The kind of hate that makes you want to hurt them so bad that they never take another breath.

Living with an angry heart is like living with oil and ice flowing through your veins. Oil because it flows and slides as fast as lightning from your heart to every nook and cranny of your body and is so dark that it consumes every thought and feeling you possess. Ice because hatred is a cold feeling. It tricks you into thinking that what you are feeling is good when in reality it leaves you numb.  Your heart becomes frozen. Unable to feel any love and kindness and all you feel is hate. 

Pure rage and hate.

My favourite song when I was a youth was 'Janie's Got a Gun' by Aerosmith. Steve Tyler and I. We bonded. We understood each other and he said the words I was longing to say. I sang that song as loud as I could and felt those words deep in my heart and I wanted that gun.

The hard part for me was that I grew up in a home with a gun. I knew where it lived and where to get it and how I wanted to use it. How I wanted to follow those lyrics and heal myself from hatred. I had days where I felt that firing that shot would solve my problems. Where I was fully prepared to suffer the consequences. Such was the angry heart I owned and nurtured.

So what do you do when you have an angry heart and nobody wants to listen?
You cry. You scream. You leave. You face the unknown and you stare that hatred in the face and deal with it. Alone. As best you can. With what you have. Yourself and your thoughts.

You fight it. You fight it until you are exhausted. You fight it until you feel crazy and mentally insane. You hang by a thread and tell yourself that no gun is going to make this better. You hang there and repeatedly tell yourself that the only way to make this better is to provide YOURSELF with all you need. That you are in control of your heart. That the oil and ice is poison and can be removed.

That you can be cleansed and if you work hard enough, believe in yourself enough, then that sweet innocent heart of yours that was hurt and damaged and stained can be replaced with all the love that it was meant to have, all the kindness that it deserved to find and with all the tenderness that a young child deserves.

With all this work you slowly begin to start to feel a warmth. It is a feeling that is new, scary even and you wonder if you can help it to grow. Soon it has turned into a delicate trickle of happiness that starts to flow within. At first you are surprised. It almost shyly starts to move forward and to possess more of your heart. You carefully encourage it and nurture it. Some days you feed it and it begins to grow. Other days it hurts so much you leave it barren and bare.

Eventually, the hatred slowly disappears and with much work and effort you find yourself feeling comfortable and even delighted with the new heart you are creating. It is a wonder to you. Creating a new heart is possible at anytime in our lives. For me I have created a new heart several times in my life.

I have had my own beautiful heartbreaks and have been blessed to have mended them throughout my lifetime thus far. I know by sharing this I can come across totally crazy and a danger to society but that is what can happens to a child when they are abused and nobody listens and they have to counsel themselves and heal their own heart. 

I am damn proud of the work I have done on myself and continue to do to keep myself sane. I love to write about it because I believe that by speaking about it I give other people hope that healing can happen and is possible."

It is done. I have owned it. It is me. Now to go back to what I am spending a lot of my time doing: writing my heart out. It may be currently sending me a little crazy but I am hanging in there and am determined to get this book finished. Bring on the last 20,000 words! Did I just say that?!?

Cherish your Cherubs: Ellen Arthur Photography

Ellen Arthur is an avid blogger, photographer, sing, baker and minimal homemaker extraordinaire who fits it all around her 2 kids. Her blog is filled with her photos, heartaches and triumphs as she navigates through the craziness that is her life. I first met Ellen when she was a young girl who came from a lovely family of seven. The family she grew up in inspired me so much I went on to have seven children myself! I hope you enjoy how Ellen cherishes her cherubs.....

1. Tell us a little about yourself as a mother. 
I always imagined that my life would go like this. I would fall in love, get married and THEN become a Mother by falling pregnant but I become a mother in a far less conventional way. My husband, Regan had a child in a previous relationship and so on our wedding day over 2 and a half years ago, I became a wife and a mother, well a step-mother, but I took that role no less seriously than if she were my own. I had just turned 23 and she was this happy, crazy, funny 6 year old who had no clue what sarcasm was and she was the flower girl at our wedding. I must admit that it wasn’t very easy at the start, just as having a new baby and learning how to be a new mother is hard but Ella was so loving toward me from the word go and to this day she says “I love you” more times in a day than I can count. About 7 months later I fell pregnant and Noah came into our lives. Coming from a family of 7 children I always wanted a large family but after experiencing the whirlwind of motherhood I think that 4 might be my max. Ella is now 8 and Noah is 14 months and they are work but there isn’t a day that I wish that they weren’t in my life. Those hard days come and although I feel like I want to run away to the circus, there is this love that brings my heart back to them. Life is hectic as I try to juggle starting a new photography business, blogging, trying to keep the house from looking like an absolute dump (which I frequently fail at) but I am having the best time of my life. I have never been a clucky person. I was always one of those single girls that said that I would get married and then wait for as long as I could until people REALLY started to judge me and then I would have kids. I loved my nieces and nephews but I saw how exhausted my sisters were. Then once I met my husband Regan, I could not wait to see what our little babies would look like and the rest is history.

2. What is your favourite part about being a mother? 
The answer to this question is a double edge sword. My favourite part to being a mother is the fact that they need me. There is no better feeling in this world than to have this little chubby face that comes to you and gives you the biggest hugs and relies upon you for love. I honestly believe that I get so much more out of it than my children. The other side of that is when they get too clingy but that is small compared to the joy I feel.

3. Who inspires you as a mother? 
I know it sounds cliché but it would have to be my mother. She raised 7 children and gave us love whilst always giving service to others, working part time, always making time to dance with us around the living room and has instilled faith and love within our hearts so we are able to do the same for our children. I can think of no better teacher than her. My mother is just finishing off 18 months of church service in Finland and has not yet met my son but someone who has been such help is my mother-in-law. She is constantly asking if they can help or babysit and how she has raised my husband is a testament to how she has cherished him.

4. Why do you think it is important to cherish your children? 
These children are sent into our homes and our lives to bless us with joy and teach us so many lessons, some that I wish I didn’t have to learn. They come to us with blank canvases and it is our responsibility to teach them in every aspect of their lives. They rely on us to build their self-esteem and self-image. How better to let them know of their worth than to cherish them. We send them off into a world full of mixed messages. Pressures from all sides including bullying, peer pressure and images pushed onto them of how they are ‘supposed’ to look. These precious souls need to know that there will be a soft, loving place to fall when this crazy world tells them that they are not good enough. They need to know that they are loved, that they have value beyond what they can imagine. Value has been misplaced in our society and I want it back where it belongs, on character, education, loyalty and the ability to love. It is especially important to me with Ella as we only see her on the weekends so this is the small window I have to show her how much she means to me. I always want my home to be a sanctuary where I’m always at the ready for a hug and equipped with tissues and a shoulder when heartache enters their lives.

5. What do you do to show your children you cherish them? 
I have already given examples of ways I cherish them but one thing that we do is pray together. In our prayers we kneel together and pray for each other. There is a constant stream of "I love you" present on a daily basis as well as positive reinforcement for even the smallest of things. We always try to play together, whether its x-box or the beach, we try and take time regularly to have fun and when we do this we also try to talk to Ella about how her life is going. This makes her feel loved and important and it allows us to gain her trust. I think it is so important to listen to the smaller things now so that when they have bigger issues that they can always come to you. Another thing that Ella and I love to do is baking, followed by stuffing our faces with the end result. One project that Regan and I undertook recently was to renovate both of their rooms as we wanted them to have special spaces where they could play and feel surrounded with pretty things. I know that it made Ella feel so special as she feels that she has a space that it uniquely her within our home.

6. What do you hope your children feel or learn from you cherishing them? 
I hope that they become loving, confident, and well-adjusted adults who believe in themselves and who are able to improve on my parenting techniques when the time comes that they have their own. I encourage them to become self-reliant and I do help them when help is needed but I think that by allowing them to feel like they are capable of making age appropriate decisions that they will be able to conquer the world and they will feel like their ability has been cherished. I want them to feel like they can always come to me for help or advice or simply to hold them while they sob. I want them to know that no matter what society says that they are loved and that they don’t need to look within toxic peer circles or bad relationships to find that.

7. What is your favourite activity to do with your children and how does it help you to cherish them?
I love to read books to them and to take photos of them. I can’t tell you the joy that spreads across Ella’s face as I put photos of her around the home or on my blog. She feels my pride as I display my children for the whole world (or my 24 followers) to see, plus she loves doing a bit of posing. It is in those moments of reading them a book that they snuggle in close, with heir tired eyes straining to stay open as I use a variety of voices to narrate to them. At that moment the TV is off and the house is quiet and they listen. I feel such a closeness to them then.

8. How do you make time for your children in your schedule? 
I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother and so although I do take time to do photography and some very light cleaning, I have the whole day to cover Noah with kisses every few minutes. I do find that sometimes you can get complacent and he will go off and play with himself a little more frequently so I always have to make a concerted effort every day to really get down onto his level and have a good old fashioned play or sing-a-long. As we only have Ella on weekends I try to make sure that we have fun activities planned when she comes. Of course there is also a lot of lounging but we try to spend as much quality time together as we can.

9. How does it make you feel as a mother when you know you are cherishing your children? 
It makes me feel happy. When I hear Ella say that she loves me every 2 minutes and when Noah trusts and loves on me with lots of smiles and kisses I know that I have done something right. I truly believe that no success can compensate for failure in the home and so I try my hardest, not to be the perfect Mum, but when I fail to pick myself up and try harder.

10. What advice would you give to other Mums about cherishing children?
I can honestly say that most of the readers of this blog have more experience than me but I guess as a blog reader myself I think we have all looked at so many blog posts where mothers post their triumphs in parenting and that’s all we seem to see. There are countless posts around the net that show mothers hosting wedding worthy parties, planning a fun game for every hour of the school holidays and spending a bucket load on doing up the kid’s rooms. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are adorable and if I had the time or mostly energy to do this then I probably would do the same but I don’t and that’s ok too. We have to stop comparing ourselves and thinking that every other mother has got it right, because the fact is that we don’t. Cherishing your children doesn’t have to cost a cent. It’s about giving them a footing into their life that they can succeed. Most of the women that write about the joy have moments of screaming and crying and embarrassing moments involving public places and poo but we just don’t hear about it all the time.

Thank you so much Ellen. I love your honesty and refreshing view on motherhood. Such an adorable family too! You can check out more that Ellen has to say and some of her photography on her BLOG and join her photography site on Facebook.

find your pockets of happiness

Last year I wrote an ebook. Pockets of Happiness.
In this ebook I share my secrets to how I find happiness with a large family.

You can read more about it and view the contents page HERE.

I wrote it to help other women, especially mother's.
If you are wondering if you should get yourself a copy read this:

Dear Naomi,
Well,  I just finished reading Pockets of Happiness and I must say I'm not happy.
You’re book has highlighted why I’m not happy.
I’m not happy because I have put everyone’s needs before my own. It’s highlighted to me that I have lost ‘my’ way by becoming mother, wife, carer, cook, chauffeur, teacher, cleaner, nurse, counsellor, and all the other names that come before me and my interests.
It’s really highlighted to me that I have lost my own identity in the interest of the others and their needs. You asked what was it that made you feel really happy. I relish in the successes of joys of my boys (hubby and two sons) but it actually had me run through emotions while I was trying to remember what I did for me that made just ME happy.
I felt silly when trying to remember, like I’d forgotten someone’s name. Then I felt desperate because I couldn’t remember what I did before kids for my own entertainment. Then I felt upset because I realised how long it’s been since I’d done something completely just for me without any guilt and that’s when I got angry. A simple thing that has stuck in my mind to show how little time I get for myself is I’m forever borrowing books from the library with the obvious intent of reading them, to only return them a few weeks later, covers never even lifted.
The more I read your book – the angrier I got.  I can list 10 things off to the top of my head that I have pushed to the side with an excuse of ‘I don’t have time’, ‘the day’s already busy enough’ and the dreaded mother guilt for doing something SOLELY for myself. I’m sure you have dealt with it within you own family. Something is always calling for your attention. If it’s not the kids, it’s the pets, if it’s not them then it’s the dishwasher dinging to say its done.
I have this constant pull of everything else but this is where I’m making a change to include the things that I want to do.
I have made a list of two things – small yes, but HUGE in the reclaiming of Karen World.
I love to write and photography. I wrote professionally for several years and even won industry awards for my photography. Having kids really pulled the brakes on those two passions – however I have two great subjects to get my skills back up again.
I know it’s a step in the right direction and for that I am happy.
I have you to thank for highlighting my unhappiness and turning it around.
So thank you Naomi! Thank you for helping me find myself again.
Wishing you BUCKETLOADS of happiness in everything that you do – even if it is something for yourself!

Get yourself a copy and fill your bucket.
At only $4.95 it could help you feel like Karen.
A new woman!

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Having a ball! RedBalloon Zorbing Review

I have always wanted to try Zorbing. For some reason the idea of throwing myself inside a large ball filled with water has always appealed to me. I mean the thought of rolling down a hill and having the opportunity to slosh and slide around uncontrollably whilst getting soaking wet, I believe is going to be a happy memory in my mind and an awesome family experience that I simply had to make happen! So, I was very excited to have the opportunity to roadtest Zorbing with thanks to RedBalloon.  

As a family we headed off to Zorb Park located near the Gold Coast. It is placed just a couple of minutes from Dreamworld and run by OZBall. It is actually the only place you can go Zorbing in Australia. Upon arrival we checked out the OZBall Hydro Hill and started to get very excited about rolling down the hill. 

When we first ordered our RedBalloon voucher, we signed up to do the Ultimate Couples Zorbing Pass. It was for two people to enjoy the experience of riding together in a wet hydro and a dry rotating harness ride and you also get two single hydro rides to take on the OzBall Hill Challenge. When we arrived however, we did not realise that there was a weight restriction for the harness ride. The maximum number of people you can have in the hydro ball is 3, the weight restriction is 210kg. The maximum number of people in the harness ball is 2, with the weight restriction of maximum weight of 100kg per rider. So after understanding this we changed our plans and worked out a deal. 

Instead of Matt and I just having the experience of going Zorbing, we worked out a deal so that all of our kids could have a chance to try out Zorbing as well. They were beyond excited. The only problem we faced with this whole experience was that they did not bring any swimmers, so we just let them go in their clothes! Ha ha! Not quite how Zorbing is supposed to be done but we did not mind our children getting their clothes wet to help create a happy memory!

We worked out who was going to ride together in the ball and climbed the hill to await our turn. You can have three people in the ball together to slip and slide around. Matt went with Sam and Eli, Liahona, Nathan and Harmony went together and Chelsea and I had a ride together. Liberty decided this was not an activity for her and sat out to watch us all have some fun. If you want a child to ride by themselves I believe they need to be six years of age to ride.  

We had an absolute blast and my kids were so excited and hyped up when they finished their turn. The only negative thing I would say about this experience is that the hill is too short! Your ride in the ball is a total blast and you really want it to go on for much longer. Zorbing really is a unique experience and ride and several of my children immediately started planning a birthday party plan so that we can come back again! Here is also a short clip of Chelsea and I trying out Zorbing. I was trying to take on the challenge of standing up the whole way down...I have the purple top on. 


Naturally, we believe that Zorbing would make a great Christmas gift for a friend or family member. So much fun! You can also check out my other RedBalloon review here: V8 Super Car Racing Package.

Reader Discount: For Seven Cherubs readers if you spend $129 or more on any RedBalloon experience, you can receive $30 off. To redeem visit and enter the promotional code: RBXMAS12 at the checkout to receive your discount. This offer is valid until 31/01/2013. The promotional code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon's T&C's. Full details here:

Disclosure: Thanks to the team at Digital Parents Collective for inviting me to be a part of the Red Balloon Experience Program. I am having way too much fun! I have some more awesome experiences to share with you so stay tuned! As always, all opinions are my own, however the experiences are complimentary. 

I heart shopping: IKEA Shopping Adventure

It is no secret that I love to shop. I find it very relaxing. I love taking in all the colour and being inspired of new ways to dress, wear jewellery and decorate our home. I often walk around the shops just for inspiration and come home having purchased nothing. For something different I thought I would share a recent shopping adventure I had to IKEA and the type of products I like to purchase for my home when I go there. I normally come home with the same type of items. I am a sucker for a good rug and platter! So here is what I picked up on one of my latest trips....

 I have been really inspired by colour lately and picked up this floral tablecloth and platter. So cute!
It is also no secret that blue is my favourite colour. It calms me. 
I picked up this gorgeous rug. They also had a hot pink one. I still really want to go back and get it! 
L-O-V-E this rug!
I picked up 2 rows of hooks to hang our pool towels on. Perfect for our family!
Adore these white lace topped containers. I have them all over our home. Stunning!
I found these angel napkin holders. Cherub looking....Totally meant to be in my home. YES!
Dots! Who can pass up a dot platter. Not me! So F-U-N!

So there you have it. A little collection of treasures I picked up from IKEA. I love pottering around there, absorbing the colour and textures and finding what I think will work well in our home. I have way too much fun decorating and it is lucky I only go to IKEA about two or three times a year! 

{P.S: This is not a sponsored blog post. I just thought I would have fun and try something different}

Grace at my place

Every Sunday I love to count my blessings. I love to look for moments of grace or goodwill that happened in my life. As I attend church, I love to reflect over my week and the many different ways that I have been able to see God showing me grace. I also love to remember the ways my family has touched my life and to count the ways that I have felt blessed by having them in my home. 

 So, I thought I would share with you some of the ways that I find Grace at my place. My place being my home, my thoughts and my heart. I hope to make this a regular feature on my blog. I want to be more grateful, more mindful and more appreciative of my blessings.

1. As I have spent the last couple of days writing my out my story, I have felt gently encouraged to be brave, to be honest and to speak the truth. 

2. Our family attended the school awards night where I was able to watch my children perform and share their talents. My heart burst as I watched them trying their best and sharing their personality with so many people in the audience. I feel so lucky to have them in my life.

3. As I have been pouring over journals I have written I have been able to see how God has guided and directed me to where I am today. I have felt His tender mercy upon me and His love for me, especially when I was at my lowest.

4. On days when I felt too tired and exhausted to cook this week my husband took over and provided our family with delicious meals. This small act lifted a great burden and gave me time to relax, restore and nourish myself.

5. I have been enjoying and appreciating the simple pleasure of a day of sunshine. I love to wake up to a sunny day. It boost's my spirit and I feel happier and motivated to get stuck into my day. I have spent time in my backyard feeling the sun against my skin and simply enjoying how blessed I am to live in the Sunshine State of Australia. 

Hope you enjoyed reading about my blessings and that you were able to find some for yourself this week as well. N x