Learn How to Make Kombucha Tea Easily for Improved Health

Kombucha tea is an ancient Chinese beverage which has been around for over 2000 years. It’s a delicious sparkling drink which can be flavoured with herbs, spices or fruits.

 

Kombucha  is produced using sweetened tea and a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast (a.k.a. SCOBY)

 

As it is naturally fermented, it is a probiotic beverage and is reputed to be beneficial for gut health and improving digestion. The bi-product being reduction in depression, anxiety and improved mental clarity.

 

It also contains Glucosamine’s which are known to prevent joint inflammation by increasing the production of Hyaluronic Acids. These acids help to increase the production of synovial fluid and preserve cartilage.

There are also claims that  Kombucha  aids in liver health by producing a lot of enzymes and bacterial acids that your body uses, thus taking the burden off the pancreas and the liver.

 

Where do you get it? You can buy it in health food stores (be ready to be shocked because it’s about $7 for a 600ml bottle) or you can brew your own.

 

It costs only a few cents a litre to produce.

 

The SCOBY can be ordered online or get one from a friend who brews Kombucha. The magic in the SCOBY is that it reproduces, so anyone who brews Kombucha will have a “baby” to share with you to get you started.

 

I ordered my initial SCOBY from The Good Brew Company.  It arrived promptly and was well packaged after apparently attending several festivals in places of peace, love and hippydom.

 

You can be quite creative with the flavours you  add to make it a delightful and refreshing alternative to sweetened or artificially sweetened commercial beverages.

 

My Mum brews and flavours hers with chunks of fresh ginger. Her brew is clear, sparkly and very delicious.

 

The picture below is of my latest brew. I used Black Tea (Bushells) and organic raw sugar (the SCOBY devours all the sugar to convert it into the  enzymes and antioxidants). Next batch I am trying a Chinese Tea which was bought back from Beijing as a special gift.  See the bubbles!  Better than Champagne.

Kombucha flavoured with ginger
Sparkling Kombucha

It’s fun to brew up this delicious drink, whether the health claims are true or exaggerated.

Here is the recipe I use:

Ingredients:

2 litres of water1 cup sugar

2 heaped teaspoons of tea
1 SCOBY with 1/2 cup of starter fluid
Grated Ginger to taste
Method:
Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan.  Then add the tea leaves and stir in the sugar.  Leave to brew for 15 minutes.
Sweet Black Tea
Black Tea brewing in the water

Strain the tea into a tall (sterilized) jar and leave to cool down to room temperature.  Then add your SCOBY and the starter liquid.  Cover with a clean cloth which will allow air to flow but keep any insects out.  I use a piece of cheesecloth and an elastic band.

 

Sweet tea cooling
Cool the tea to room temperature

Leave the jar to brew for about 7 days.  You will see the SCOBY growing larger and the tea will become paler.  The longer you leave it, the more sugar will be devoured by the SCOBY so it will become more tart in flavour.

 

Lift off the SCOBY and separate into two – you will see a “baby” has formed underneath.  Place the “Mother” into a sterilised bowl with about half a cup of the liquid to start your next batch.  Bottle the remaining liquid into sterilized bottles which have really tight seals.  I use recycled beer bottles with pull down clips to lock shut.  Add your desired flavouring – I add some grated ginger.

The SCOBY and starter liquid
Your SCOBY ready for the next batch

 

Leave them to ferment for a few days
Bottles of fresh Kombucha
Stand your bottles in a cool place (I cover mine with a Tea Towel) and leave for a few days.  The Kombucha will go through a second fermentation and the flavour will develop.  Then place in the refrigerator.
Drink, enjoy and share with friends.  Mine tastes a bit like old fashioned ginger beer.
Do you know anyone who would enjoy this recipe – do share!
Easy way to make Kombucha
Simple Kombucha Tea Recipe
Have you brewed up your own Kombucha?  I would love to read your comments.

How to Participate in Your Own Rescue – The Disruptors Are Coming

Once upon a time, I went to a Tarot Reader.  It was many years ago now but I still remember the lovely words she said.  She told me that my life would be like a Fairy Tale and that I would be surrounded by beautiful flowers.  I took her literally and thought that perhaps she meant that I would have a beautiful garden filled with flowers.  Now, years later, I realize that I am surrounded by beautiful flowers – many beautiful women in my life.  My Mother, my daughters (my daughter and my future daughters-in-law), the women I am in business with, my blogging buddies, my mentors.  All wonderful and powerful examples of disruptors – women who are making the world work their way.  I am surrounded by beautiful flowers – different, all perfectly imperfect.
Disruptors making a difference
All Perfectly Imperfect
These women did not enter my life by accident though.  I have been discerning about who I spend my precious time with.
It is said that we become like who we associate with and that the sum total of who we are as a person is a result of the people we meet and the books we read.
Books about new and Disrupting Industries
The people we meet and the books we read.
If this is true, it means that we really do need to think about who we invest our time with.
As a business woman, it has become very obvious to me that there are many, many women waiting to be saved.  Saved by a man, saved by a windfall, saved by lady luck, saved by anyone or anything but their own efforts.  It’s tragic to see women become bitter or jealous when they see others achieving.  I have seen women make excuses and justify why their life has not gone to plan.  My message –  it’s reward for effort and happiness is a choice.
Right now, there is a lot of talk about entrepreneurship and the need for a “side-hussle”.  The new term “Mompreneur” has emerged amid uncertain times.  For women, security is key, so the need to take charge and get some good energy going around income streams is vital.
No longer do women look at the direct sales industry and turn their noses up as if they are too good for it.  They are finding ways of using technology to turbo charge these old models.  It’s so exciting to see what women are doing with online marketing in the Blogging Industry and how they are becoming change agents in new business models.
Want to read about this new breed of #GirlBoss?  See how Sophia Amoruso changed fashion retailing.
It has also become clear to me that age is no barrier.  As a 50+ entrepreneur, I find that I have much to contribute.  I have experience on my side as I have seen much.  Industries come and go, I have seen economic cycles that have broken people, I have watched people rise and then discovered that there is much to their spirit and I understand why they rose.  Now I see disruptors
Disruptors are changing businesses and industries at lightning speed.  They arrive with fresh ideas, new business models and streamlined, efficient ways of doing things.  Over the coming decade, I believe that more and more of these disruptors will emerge.  In this lies opportunity.
Women, you can sit and watch, or you can be part of it!  You can choose to make technology too hard or you can embrace it.  You can be part of what’s happening or you can wonder what happened.
Technology - the tool of the Disruptor Industry
You can choose to make technology too hard or you can embrace it.
Opportunities come in strange packages.  Often they are unrecognisable as opportunities.  Have courage, explore, examine but don’t miss them.
Change is here, I implore you be open minded and embrace it.
Love your life!
Have you ever been to a Tarot Reader?
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5 Things You Should Do In Hawaii

Hawaii has always seemed like a dream destination to me. As a child I watched black and white Elvis Presley movies and fell in love with the idea of visiting Hawaii.

The opportunity to travel has come through our business and we are lucky enough to travel all expenses paid. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the chance to visit amazing places like Hawaii.

Today I am sharing 5 things to do in Hawaii and I am focusing on the beautiful Island of O’ahu.

The Beautiful Island of O’ahu

 

O’ahu Hawaii:

O’ahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian islands and is famous for Pearl Harbour, Diamond Head and it’s capital city Honolulu.

From the moment you land at Honolulu airport you can feel the gentle heat and smell  delicious tropical fragrances. You are greeted by friendly faces wishing you “Aloha”.

We stayed in the beautiful Sheraton Waikiki this trip but have also stayed in the iconic “Rainbow” Hilton Hawaiian Village on past visits. I have googled and it is quite expensive to stay there at around $500 per night. There are abundant accommodation options at every price point as this is a popular tourist area.

With heaps of great things to do and see from the Waikiki area, tour operators are on every corner ready to hook you up with an adventure.  You can try surfing lessons, paddle boarding, hiking and outrigger rides. For those looking for more sedate experiences there some huge shopping opportunities at the massive Ala Moana Centre and the Waikele Outlets.

Here are my top tips for memorable things to do in O’ahu Hawaii

  1.  Pearl Harbour. I always feel sad to visit memorials and places connected to war but I felt it was important to visit this historic naval base. As expected, it’s a place of quiet respect for the people who lost their lives in the air attack by the Japanese which drew the US into World War 2. You can watch a movie which details exactly what happened at Pearl Harbour. The iconic memorial building takes you above the sunken USS Arizona where the oil from the ship still bubbles to the surface.
  2. Bicycle Tours. There are many bicycle tours available in Waikiki. With beautiful scenery and some wild volcanic activity this is the perfect place to ride. We cycled about 8.5km DOWNHILL after being driven up the mountain by air conditioned van. This tour is suitable for anyone who has ever ridden a bike – ever, even with trainer wheels. The guides take extreme care to ensure everyone is riding well and deliver a lengthy safety message before setting off in convey down the mountain at cautious speed. A ride leader and tail end Charlie communicate via radio and the van follows to collect anyone who decides the ride is too hard. In other words, they cover their litigation butts and it makes for a very slow, safe ride. The scenery is beautiful and as an experienced cyclist, the slowdown made me more mindful to enjoy the beautiful views.
  3. Barefoot Walk along the beach at night hand in hand. This is the ultimate romantic dream experience and just needs to be done for the memory bank and bucket list.
  4. The Pink Palace  is the famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel which opened in 1927 and was the playground of the rich and famous throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. The hotel has a spectacular view of Diamond Head and its private beachfront is “the place” to be. We were lucky enough to be invited to a private Lanai where we were serenaded by a solo singer/guitarist while watching the sun set and tasting a delicious assortment of finger foods. The building has gone through a number of incarnations and has been renovated to preserve its opulent style.
  5. North Shore is the place to see the big waves and is the surf spot famous the world over. We took a guided tour up and stopped along the way to see the spot that Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster rolled around lustfully in the surf in the movie “From Here to Eternity”, the TV home of Magnum P.I. and took in a spectacular view of the island. From the lookout you can see Gilligan’s Island (or the island that was depicted in the TV series introduction shots)  just off the coast of O’ahu. It’s real name is Coconut Island and it’s definitely not a 3 hour cruise away. The day that we visited the North Shore, the waves were massive and even the locals had come out to watch the surfers being towed out by jetski to risk life and limb to take advantage of the huge surf.
Pearl Harbour Hawaii
The Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour

 

Diamond Head Hawaii
Waikiki by night

 

Pink Palace Hawaii
The Pink Palace Garden Lanai

 

waves crashing on Hawaii
Surfers risk their skin on the volcanic rocks

 

 

Checklist of must do’s while you’re in Hawaii:

Best Restaurant – House Without A Key, famous for it’s signature Mai Tai.
Great Restaurant/Bar – Tommy Bahamas with it’s upstairs fire pit.          Essential Footware – Several pairs of Havianas
Sunglasses to buy – Mau Jim’s
Memento’s- iconic dashboard hula dancer and vintage playing cards.

 

Signature Mai Tai of House Without a Key

O’ahu is a beautiful place to visit, meet wonderful friendly people, taste beautiful food and capture picturesque sights with some adventure opportunities thrown in.

Have you been to any of the Hawaiian Islands? Love to hear your top tips – do post in the comments section below.

Know someone who would enjoy this information about what to do in Hawaii?  Feel free to share using the social button below.

5 Strategies to Stop Comparing Yourself With Everyone

Do you have a competitive spirit?  Do you find yourself comparing with others?

Since childhood I have had an insatiable desire to win at everything.  Constantly comparing myself with others,  I would take on anyone who would compete with me.  Running, jumping, chess, board games, pick up sticks – whatever.  It’s now obvious that this need to compete and compare is based on some underlying self esteem issues.  The need to constantly prove myself stemmed from self doubt and lack of confidence.
competing and comparing
Running, jumping, chess, board games, pick up sticks – whatever.
Competitiveness begins as comparison.  Obviously, we are constantly comparing one thing against another.  That’s how we weigh up the benefit something will offer our lives.  This is good, it helps us to make great decisions and stops us from making mistakes.  Comparison ensures that we are satisfied with the decisions that we make.
Where comparison does not serve us well is when we need to compete and compare ourselves with others.
Comparison ensures that we are satisfied with the decisions that we make.
The number one thing on my list of all things important is to love your life.  By eliminating the need to compare myself with others or compete I have found   a whole lot of peace and a grateful heart.

5 Danger Signs of Comparing:

  • Jealousy – it’s simple logic that there are people in the world who have more or can do things better than me.  Dropping envy and studying people who have great results with an open happy heart allows me appreciate others, their skill sets, their attitude to life and to learn from them.  Having a jealous heart shuts down possibility thinking.  Being genuinely happy for what others have and achieve lifts the lid on my own potential.
  • Putting Others Down – The need to put someone else down stems from feeling “less than” thus the need to elevate yourself .  Whenever I have seen someone achieving results faster and better than me it’s tempting to think that they are taking shortcuts or getting an unfair advantage in some way.  Everyone has their own path, sometimes that path is smooth and sometimes bumpy but everyone faces challenges in life.  It’s easy to judge from the outside without seeing the full picture.  Every life has a story, everyone is a package.
  • Complete not compete – I used to try to compete with my Husband.  He has a Masters Degree in Education, speaks well and is well respected.  I would interrupt him and butt into conversations in an attempt to be valued.  It took me a long time to realize that we are very different and that I too add value – just in a different way.  I joke that I am the light relief but I know he values my input and that I view things from a different perspective to him.
  • Edify Others – this is the opposite of bagging someone.  When you speak well of others you open the doors for all kinds of goodness to come back to you. Finding something good in someone and then speaking it feels great and brings joy.
  • Don’t believe your own press – My husband knows how to edify me.  I hear him saying the nicest things to others about my amazing skills and virtues. I have learned not to totally believe, maybe just enough to feed my self esteem a little but not totally.

 

When you speak well of others you open the doors for all kinds of goodness to come back to you.
My  top 5 strategies for beating the need for comparing:
  1. Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt.  I surround myself with people who talk about great ideas.  I read books by people who inspire me to think at another level.
  2. I look at others who are achieving and consciously think “a rising tide lifts all ships” and look for ways for everyone to win.
  3. I unfollow or block people on social media who spark negativity in me .  I believe social media can be used for good and I deliberately guard my mind.    I also hide posts in my feed which spark negativity, uneasiness or make me think badly of people.
  4. There are fish.  When I see others getting the results I want, it proves that it can be done.  If someone else has caught a fish, I know there are fish.
  5. Eyes in the boat.   I learned this phrase from a champion rower.  If a rower looks at their competition they steer their own boat off course.  When I am tempted to compare myself with others I tell myself to keep my eyes in the boat.
    If a rower looks at their competition they steer their own boat off course.
Life is so much sweeter when you can enjoy the gains, accomplishment and wins of others with an open, happy heart.
Do you have a competitive spirit?  How do you stay focused on your own path?
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A Story of the Settlement of Northcliffe Western Australia

Northcliffe Western Australia

Northcliffe is a tiny town situated in the South Western district of Western Australia.  It’s about 30km away from Pemberton and currently has a population of about 400 people.

This is the story of the townships beginning.

Apart from the original inhabitants of Western Australia, we are all imports and we all have unique stories of how we come to be here.

I was a child in the 1970’s when people were fleeing Vietnam and arriving by boat in Australia. It was terrifying to see television reports of rickety fishing boats filled to overflowing with desperate people arriving on our shores.

Despite the reservations of the Australian Government to accept large numbers of refugees at that time, those who did manage to receive asylum here have been a valuable addition to Australia. Just over 2,000 “Boat People” were given asylum in Australia.

It seems that not much has changed since the 1970’s – just the Country’s that people flee from and the atrocities they run from. The 24 hour news cycle replays the same stories with the undertone of fear and intolerance.

My Grandmother’s family came to Australia by boat too, but under very different circumstances.

This is their story.

Great Grandfather Joseph Cooper and Great Grandmother Annie (Goodall) Cooper lived in England. Joseph was the Manager of the United Dairy factories in Barkston, Longridge and Leigh in Lancashire.

By 1923 Joseph started hearing wonderful reports of farming opportunities in Australia. The Premier of Western Australia, Sir James Mitchell, was promoting land for dairy farming in the South West. He was establishing “The Group Settlement Scheme”. An offering to people willing to clear their own land and pay for it later. Joseph perceived it to be a very good offer, especially after seeing pictures of beautiful rolling pastures with fat grazing dairy cattle.

Great Grandmother Annie was willing to make this big move because she and her 7 children were Asthmatic and her Doctor advised that the fabulous Australian climate would be much better for them.

Although Joseph Cooper didn’t have any farming experience, he felt confident due to his background in the dairy industry. They left behind a comfortable home with hired help and had hope for a great future.

The children were aged 2 years to 16 years old and they travelled by train from Lancashire to London where they boarded a little steamship which took them out to the “Euripides” where she was anchored out in the Thames.

December 26, 1923 was the day the Euripides departed with cabins crammed with up to eight people. The men and women were separated and Annie spent the next 6 weeks suffering with seasickness so severe that the older children had to look after the little ones.

The Ship travelled through the Bay of Biscay and onto the Canary Islands where it was restocked with food. It travelled onward to Capetown where corn and coal were loaded aboard by a chanting chain gang.

The destination was Albany Western Australia.

Joseph and Annie had paid their landing fee in England so did not owe any money. They were approached by an immigration officer who offered them the chance to get an established farm. The price for this offer was a bribe. Although they had the funds to pay the bribe, it was against their principles so they refused.

The family travelled by train up to Fremantle where they were taught about the dangers of the Western Australian bush. Lightning strikes, bushfires, snakes, spiders and bull ants, how to clear the bush and how to construct their shacks.

They all stayed in Immigration House, which was accommodation that the Government repurposed from Army Barracks used in World War 1, and waited for other new settlers arriving from England who would form Group Settlement 108.

The families left Fremantle by train to travel through the bush to Pemberton. Along the way they spotted bushfires in the distance and were quite fearful of what their future would hold. Their arrival in Pemberton was late at night and in the moonlight they could see the massive trees and the thick scrub.

The next morning their luggage and boxes were loaded onto trucks for the 20 mile journey along the rough track to the Group 108 Settlement site at Northcliffe.

They arrived on March 6 1924. The men got to work immediately to build toilets out of wooden frames covered with hessian to ensure privacy. Meanwhile, the women pooled their pots and pans and kitchen utensils and amidst their tears managed to get everybody fed.

The group settlement farm blocks were allocated by lottery. Each of the twenty families drew a number from a hat to determine which location was theirs. They combined their efforts to build temporary shelters for each family to use until the group homes were built on the allotted farms. Some of the settlers waited for up to two years before their homes were built.

Life was very difficult and so harsh and many of the settlers gave up and either moved up to Perth or returned to England.

The dirt floor shack the Coopers built to live in while they waited for their house to be completed.

Joseph and Annie were the first to have their house completed because they had seven children, more than any of the other families. Joseph and the older boys set to making a shed on their property so that they could start farming as quickly as possible. They caught marron from the Gardner River, trapped rabbits and possum and even ate Kangaroo.

Annie gave birth to two more children in Northcliffe, making a family of nine children – Joseph, Alan, Gwendoline, Eva, Edith (Daisy), Arthur, Cecil, Edwin (Teddy) and Phyllis. A resilient bunch who all, apart from Phyllis and Arthur, lived well into old age. Arthur died at 17 of an illness. No autopsy was performed so they never discovered what killed Arthur.

Phyllis Cooper in Northcliffe
This is Phyllis Cooper aged about 8. She was born in Northcliffe.

I remember my Great Grandparents as jolly and loving people. My childhood was filled with stories of life in Northcliffe which my Nana (Daisy) shared with me.  She spoke of the funny things that happened, the tragedy’s, the romances and her suspicions about scandalous behaviour.

Daisy Cooper on the way to her wedding in Northcliffe
Daisy (centre) on the way to her Wedding. She was accompanied by her sisters Eva and Gwen. Daisy was 19 years old

 

Great Uncle Joseph (the oldest son of Joseph and Annie) wrote a self published autobiography titled “The Past is Always Present” which the  Pioneer Museum of Northcliffe recommends for anyone who is interested in researching the Northcliffe Group Settlement project.

The Group Settlement Scheme put many families through incredible hardship and many abandoned their farms in desperate circumstances. Details of the programme can be found here

Despite the hardship, the pioneer families of the Group Settlement Scheme were instrumental in the development of the dairy industry in Western Australia.

Joseph and Annie moved away from Northcliffe after their son Arthur died at the age of 17. When I was a child they lived in a house in suburban Wilson and their property backed onto the Canning River. Great Grandad Joseph had a pair of binoculars positioned in the back room at the ready to see what was happening on the river. They celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary and Joseph continued to grow his own vegetables into his 80’s.

They left a legacy of kind heartedness and strong work ethic along with multiple generations of Coopers in Western Australia.

It’s my hope that the descendants of Joseph and Annie can share lots of wonderful stories about these special people so that their legacy can continue.

It’s surprising simple to find out information about your ancestors.  Ancestry is currently running a 14 day free trial – Jump on here

 

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Raising Great Kids Who Love Life and Enjoying the Process

Raising great kids

First up a disclaimer – This information is based on my own experience with raising great kids.  Although not an expert, I do have lots of  experience after raising 3 kids, 2 boys and 1 girl, of my own and learning lots of valuable lessons along the way.

Raising great kids and the lessons of metamorphosis

Imagine that you have just won a multi million dollar lottery. Now, what is the first thing that you think about doing with your prize money?

If you are like me, you may think about a new home or investment properties, maybe travel, new cars and maybe giving some money to a charity you believe in.  Somewhere in the list of all the things, you will probably have thought about giving your children some money.

Perhaps your kids are little and you consider setting up some kind of trust account that they can access when they are older.  Or maybe you’ll pay for their education.  Maybe you’d like to buy them a home or a car.

I believe that none of these things will add value to our kid’s lives. I believe that the best thing a kid can learn is personal responsibility.

As a Mother, I feel compelled to spare my children from pain and anxiety. It’s like I am wired to ensure that my children’s lives are smooth and problem free.

There is a wonderful story about kids learning about Metamorphosis. When they saw the Cocoons moving and heard the creature within scratching to escape, they decided to help the developing butterfly by cutting a little hole in the cocoon and making the process easier. Instead of emerging with beautiful strong wings, the butterfly’s wings were deformed and weak.

In nature, when the butterfly struggles to emerge from the cocoon, it’s the fight that makes their wings strong.

Cocoon cutting starts early, you see your child struggling with something and feel that you need to alleviate the pain and help to solve it for them. But are you really serving them? Is it better for them to go through the solution process despite the difficulties?

When my daughter was 9 years old, there were a couple of girls at school who were basically bullying her. They had a book which they wrote hateful messages in.  My daughter knew she was often the subject matter in their book and it really plagued her.  She would come home from school in tears and tell me the mean things the girls were saying and often spoke about their diabolical book.

Every fibre of my being wanted to go and straighten those girls out.  I wanted to march up to the school and complain to the teacher and question why he was allowing this nonsense to go on in his classroom.  I wanted to phone the parents and tell them about what their daughters were doing to my sweet girl.  But I didn’t.  I taught my daughter a key phrase.  One that she could use only when absolutely necessary.  A phrase so powerful that it would stop those mean girls in their tracks.  A phrase so shocking that she must only say it when the teacher was out of earshot.

That phrase?  It was  “Shut the fuck up”.   Simple, empowering and shocking.

It changed everything for my daughter.  She no longer put up with nasty comments.  She stopped them in their tracks.  When they continued to write in their book – she pinched it.  Yes, she made the book disappear and they never knew what happened to it.

My daughter solved her own problem and became a beautiful butterfly.

The boys were a very different breed of human. My cocoon cutting for them extended to doing things for them that they were quite capable of doing themselves. From helping to finish projects on time, to making their lunch and cleaning their rooms.

But my biggest challenge was when the boys got to driving age.  It was then they I worried about whether they would even survive.  One of my boys continually lost his driving license (thank you Kalamunda Police, I am sure you saved my kid).  I found it incredibly hard to navigate their transition into manhood.

Resources that can help  you are raise great kids.

I have recently come across some youtube clips of Celia Lashlie. Celia was New Zealand’s first female prison officer. She understood adolescent boys and she wonderfully articulated that transition to manhood and how Mothers can help to grow boys into good men. You can watch her here

Celia Lashlie wrote a book called “He’ll Be OK, Developing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men”  You can access her book here

And now….

My kids have all grown into wonderful human beings and I am supremely proud of each of them. They are courageous and compassionate people who I love spending time with.

When they face adversity, as everyone does, I still fight with myself not to clip their wings.   I certainly made lots and lots of mistakes as my kids grew up.  There were times we seemed to be living from crisis to crisis during the teenage years.  But we all survived and we can even laugh about some of the crazy things that went on.

If I could travel back in time, I would read more books, I would learn to detach, I would laugh more and worry less.  And I would certainly savour every precious moment.

 

Do you have any tips for raising great kids?

 

Know anyone who would benefit from reading my opinion on raising kids?  Do share using the share buttons below.

 

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How to Create a Wardrobe You Love

wardrobe favorite jag jeans

Back in the 1970’s, I was an aspiring model. Fashion was my focus and passion and I wanted to wear unique pieces that nobody else had. My wardrobe was filled to overflowing with clothes and shoes. The photo above was taken in Perth City in 1976 as part of a portfolio shoot and I was wearing my much loved Jag Jeans. They cost AU$50 which was mammoth back then. I believed that I could never be too thin or have too many clothes.

Everyone has been talking and writing about the Minimalism documentary this past month. It shows the ugly side of consumerism and features many approaches to living life with less. Most of which struck a chord with me. The tiny house concept – not so much. We lived in a caravan while we built our own home back in the late 1980’s. We had three little kids all under seven crammed into that little space for 10 long cold months through the wettest winter in living memory. So for me, over tiny dwellings.

Since watching, I have thought a lot about that documentary.

Particularly about Courtney Carver who spoke about Project 333 which she created along with her blog, Be More With Less, in 2010.

Project 333 was a challenge Courtney created to refine her wardrobe down to 33 items only which she wore (and photographed) for three months. You can read more about Courtney and Project 333 here.

I still love fashion and beautiful clothes. But the reality is that I have spent most of my life feeling very unhappy about clothes. Always feeling like I just need to purchase one more garment and then my wardrobe will work. At times I have felt stressed by the need to buy something new because of an event that I believed required a new dress. I have been standing in my walk in wardrobe, surrounded by clothing and feeling like I have nothing to wear. Then there is the body image issues that have plagued me. Gosh even writing about it makes me feel greedy and ungrateful.

What made me change my wardrobe thinking?

Ten months ago, my husband quit his job and began consulting on commission. This meant that we had a substantial drop in income with no guaranteed date for when he would start earning again. I made the decision right then that I would not buy any new clothes unless absolutely required.

In that ten months I have purchased one pair of shoes ($50 from Walnut online), one shawl (while travelling) and one full length dress (Sasha Drake Column Dress) which was to wear to a formal dinner plus my Mum and Dad gave me a lovely Kelly & Hunt dress for Christmas. No other clothing or shoe purchases for ten months and I have enough.

I have travelled on a Baltic Cruise and spent ten days in Hawaii. I have spoken at several events and attended quite a few business and social functions. I have also dropped 11kg in weight and I have enough clothes.

I have even had enough clothes to donate some as my weight has dropped and they no longer fit me well.

A massive mindset shift has taken place for me. I am happy with my clothes. I don’t worry about what I will wear.

My clothing collection is relatively small but it is efficient. I am no longer a victim of fashion, feeling compelled to purchase to keep up or needing to buy clothes to give me a confidence boost. I have pared down and simplified my wardrobe. I wear my favourite things – I was saving them before.

I want everything in my wardrobe to bring me joy and every garment be a pleasure to wear.

My simplified wardrobe feels lighter, happier and more kind.

Here are some great tips from Nikki Parkinson on how to edit your clothes and shoes.

Do you think you could survive with only 33 garments for the next three months?

 

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How Resilient Are You and Do You Feel Secure With Change?

Resilience

There is a turn in the tide. Can you feel it?

I have felt this before. It starts in subtle ways – you feel it in your gut. Something doesn’t feel quite right.

This is the moment when some become warriors and some become victims. And…..it’s a choice.

I have spoken to several women over the past few weeks who have been caught up in career change beyond their control. All wonderful, experienced women who add value to others now feeling powerless and discarded and they are angry.

A shift in the economy means that change is inevitable. There are many redundancy’s and that other tricky measure where people get shunted sideways into positions they neither wanted nor are qualified for.

Everything can change in a heartbeat. Technology, change in Government, change in management, a new system, downsizing, new thinking can mean that roles become obsolete or change beyond recognition.

This is the time to be resilient.

I started my career in the Banking industry. It was an industry dominated by male managers and the computers were housed in an airlocked room taking up an entire floor of the city head office building.

My first job description was Batch Clerk and I manually processed every deposit made each day and wrapped and bagged all the documents ready to be sent to the data processing centre.

Next, I worked in the position of Ledger Clerk. This involved opening and closing bank accounts, processing dishonoured cheques along with being the extra Teller when the bank was busy. I also trained the young men who were appointed to the branch.

It was me training the new male appointee and then he would be promoted. This would happen over and over and the men would progress through the promotional program and I would remain the Ledger Clerk.

I remember feeling so angry at the unfairness of it that I wanted to scream. I felt sickened and stressed so I decided to request a transfer to another branch – the request had to be signed and supported by my branch manager.

That request went into the rubbish bin.

So I resigned and completely changed my career direction. I felt empowered and free because I had chosen.

It would have been easier to console myself with the fact that I had a job which was paying me money. Or that there was a limit to how far I could go in the bank anyway. Or that I wasn’t really that good at my job so didn’t deserve a promotion. Or that this was the only job I knew. A million reasons to sell myself out and stay.

This happened a long, long time ago. It set a framework for me to be a seeker and to think outside the square.

Resilience is the key.

Being solution oriented means that we are empowered to choose.

In every situation where I have that gut feeling that things are not quite right or that this will not end well I always come back to the basic thought “this is solvable” – even if I have no idea how. What I do know is that this thinking changes my reaction to any situation. I am not a victim. I am in control because this is solvable.

When we make the choice, we own it.

As women march through the streets to stand up for basic human rights, this is the time for resilience. This is a time to find our own power and model to the next generation that we have kindness and compassion and we will not be victims.

Time to be resilient
women march through the streets to stand up for basic human rights

Face change. Choose the direction. Choose to stay. Choose to go. But choose.

Choose to Love your life.

These books have been very helpful to me as I have navigated change:

Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson

The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert, PhD

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How to Build a Happy Life

One of the fundamentals of happiness is to be connected with other people – actual relationships, friendships.

In the digital age it’s very comfortable to remain isolated and yet we have an artificial sense of connection because of the online relationships we can cultivate. These are convenient relationships. You can switch them on and off at will. You can even feel like you are staying up to date with real friends through their online updates.

When we moved into our home eleven years ago, I was Neighbour Averse. Not very “Neighbourhood Watch” friendly. I am not a particularly introverted person, I just felt that I needed privacy and space. The home we lived in previously was surrounded by one acre of land.   I had recalibrated my personal space zone to one acre. So, when I moved into my new suburban home on a 450 square metre block of land, I felt surrounded and encroached upon by the homes which grew around me.

If I encountered a neighbour, I would smile, nod or wave but never actually engage them in conversation.

All was going along nicely until Simon and Anna moved in next door. They are a mid 30’s couple with no kids and a Doberman. It started with Simon standing on the front lawn chatting to Jeff while he played worked on his boat.

Then, a few weeks before Christmas, we received a note in our letterbox inviting us to a “Street Christmas Get Together”. Comfort zone seriously invaded.

My immediate response was to decline the invitation but Simon had told Jeff that they were going and Jeff had half committed us too. It seemed that Simon had “friended” everyone in the street. So we accepted the invitation.

It would have been easier just to decline or even ignore the note. It was just at that crazy busy time before Christmas. We had other things happening and we had to take Ziye (our Chinese student) to the airport that night.

But we went.

As I stood there watching all the neighbours meeting one another and explaining which house number they were from, I realised that we were all just as isolated as one another in our street full of people.

I thought about people who die inside their homes and the skeletal remains are discovered years later by some water service person checking to see why the bills aren’t being paid. The neighbours oblivious to the odour of death as they go about their daily business.

I just learned that the lady a few doors down had twins three years ago.  Her husband works away for weeks at a time so she was alone and struggling.  I had no idea she was there.

How easy it is, in the busyness of life or “Stranger Danger” thinking, to miss out on meeting new people and making more connections.

The couple across the street left for a New Zealand holiday and while they were away we noticed their perfect green lawn developing circular brown patches. We stretched our garden hose across the street and watered it.

Then Simon and Anna’s Doberman died and we dropped a card in their letterbox and told them how sorry we were. Simon cried.

There is a continuum from relationships with family to friends, neighbours and community to the virtue of altruism which leads to safe communities and happy people.

Connection makes us kinder.

There are some great books which have helped me a lot, here are some I recommend:

Eveyone Communicates – Few Connect by John Maxwell

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Kelly Exeter, Perth based author and speaker has some great information on her website too along with this podcast – Community

So, I am glad I went along to our little Street Christmas Get Together.

How about you – do you know your neighbours?

Tips for Surviving the First Day of Pre School

A very long time ago, I had a cute little boy. He was such fun with his quirky little sense of humour and big ideas.

His favourite thing was to pretend to be Superman. I would tie a tea towel around his shoulders and then use sticky tape to make the Superman curl flat on his forehead. That was all it took for his imagination to kick in and he was the Man of Steel.

It was lovely to spend my days with him. We would read books together, play games and dance and sing together. We would cook together and we would chat. Life with my little boy was relaxed and we ran to our own schedule.

He was so excited to be heading off to a whole new world of Pre School. I bought him special shorts to wear. We went to the barber for a new haircut. We chose special sandals for growing feet and a little backpack for his fruit.

We talked about the things he would do, the things he would learn and all the new friends he would find at Pre School. We discussed how we had to arrive on time each day. We would have to be organised and have everything ready the day before. We talked about how some kids could feel nervous and that we must be kind to them.

Then, it all began.

We arrived at the gate and found lots of other little kids all waiting to start their first day too. There was excited chatter amongst the kids as they waited for the Pre School Teacher to open the door to invite them all in to their first day.

My little boy stood with me watching the action and listening to the conversations. He looked confident and happy.

I realised that this was the last day that I would be his only influence. I realised that the way the Teacher treated him would affect the way he saw himself. I began to worry that the other kids might be mean to him or exclude him. I remember standing there amongst the children’s noisiness thinking that we still had time to make a run for it and escape from this change maker. I can remember the inner panic as I realised that life for my little boy would never be the same.

The door of the Pre School opened and the smiling face of the Teacher appeared. There was a happy buzz amongst the crowd as they all moved forward to go inside. We were caught in the flow of kids and mothers and backpacks.

I stood and listened as the Teacher organised all the kids onto a padded mat on the floor. My little boy was a very willing little participant. He sat listening carefully as she explained what they would be doing today.

The other Mothers and I left the building. She must have told us to go, but I don’t remember. I only remember my little boy’s casual wave and dismissive smile as I left. He was a happy and confident little boy. I had done my job.

I cried all the way home.

It was as if the system had stolen my child. Influences that I may not approve of were now going to change him for ever.

My baby was no longer my baby. He was a little person with a sharp little mind. He had accepted the challenge of Pre School with an open heart. A new phase of his life was beginning and I had a giant hole in my heart.

But that’s life isn’t it? Children grow and change and enter new phases of their lives whether you are ready or not.

The important thing is that we prepare and guide them so that they can grow and expand with confidence in themselves. High self esteem is what makes them compassionate and generous human beings who add value to others.

And compassionate and generous people change the world.