Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

I honestly have no idea what the purpose of you was and I doubt I will ever find out. It was a year of
unemployment and just staying in the same place.

The first 3 months of the year I learnt how to live alone while the rest of my family was overseas. I am thankful for how many people supported me and became like family to me during this time. I don't think I could've survived without them! I gained some independence and had to fend for myself, thankfully both the house and animals survived as did myself.

My anxiety continued to try and rule me and I spent many times just letting the tears fall unsure of what the future would hold. I am so thankful for having an amazing psychologist who wasn't afraid to tell me like it was while also supporting me. I shed a lot of tears in her office but they were healing and she showed me that I don't give myself enough credit for what I've gone through and my strength. Despite it all and almost hitting rock bottom a few times I am feeling more in control of my anxiety than I ever have and starting to slowly change my thought patterns.
I also realised that despite not thinking it does that my anxiety affects my social life, I avoided going to things because I didn't know many people or it was something that wasn't my scene. I have slowly
started going to more events and accepting more invitations and I hope to continue that in 2018.

I started to stop seeing myself as broken or damaged and instead started to see myself for the strong young women I am. Having both anxiety and dyspraxia meant that I tended to focus on my weaknesses and not my strengths but I have slowly started to see myself in a new light. It's always going to be something I need to work on but this year something started to change.

I took my writing to the next step this year and had 5 articles published on The Mighty. I never thought I would be able to be published somewhere other than this blog and this was a huge (much needed) confidence boost. I got to tell more of my story and share it with people who may be going through similar things.

I learnt how to stand up for myself this year and not be such a pushover. Bullying throughout the years had taken it's toll on me and I rarely stood up for myself but this year I started to stand up for myself and advocate for my needs. I still have a long way to go in that area but it's great to be making some progress and finding my voice.

I continued to be unemployed and struggled a lot with wondering why this was. It wasn't for my lack of trying and perseverance, I applied for so many jobs and despite that I just couldn't get work. I tried to put on a brave face but there was only so much of it I could take and I found myself not coping at all. I lost it a few times and there were times when it felt like me against the world but I somehow managed to survive it.

Despite not working I managed to be very busy with volunteer work. I continued to be a Youth Ambassador for ReachOut which meant attending a workshop in February and working really hard as I am the only YA for my state. I attended comic con and helped out in the ReachOut ChillOut room which was loads of fun. I spoke at a youth mental health expo on exam stress which was very nerve wracking but I did it. I did an online bake sale to raise funds and inspired them to do it that way next year as it went so well. I became a forum mod which meant a weekend away in a new city, never in a million years did I think this would happen and my mum ended up being more worried about it than I was.
I became more active in my church and ended up catering a quiz night with one weeks notice which despite my stress turned out well in the end (a bonus was that my team won!).

I started doing regular exercise and noticed a huge improvement in both my mental and physical health. I also used to make excuses for not exercising but I forced myself to get up early and go for a 30 minute walk 5 times a week and I have stuck to it the bulk of the time. I have also started to eat less sugar and not skip meals which has helped. I continued to avoid diet coke and I can safely say I don't miss it at all and have yet to have a sip in over a year.
I also added to my collection of scars when I had what I thought was a cyst removed, but it turned out to be a precancerous growth so while I am left with a weird scar I am thankful that it wasn't worse!

It's strange to realise that you are not where you thought you would be at this age and I can honestly say it's taken me a while to accept the fact that I am not married or even have a boyfriend for that matter at the age of 23. I joke that having anxiety makes relationships harder and I am realising that it is true (to a degree) but at the same time if people can't handle the fact I have anxiety then they don't deserve to know me. It is hard not to feel jealous of those around who are in relationships whether that be dating, engaged or married. But something I am working on is reminding myself that things will happen in God's timing and I will meet the right person at the right time.

I got off my P Plates so I am now a fully licensed driver which is great and considering everything I went through just to get on the roads it's a huge achievement and proof that perseverance does pay off.

In between the challenges good things happened; one of my cousin's got married, I took a few
weekend trips away, I turned 23, I laughed way to much, I saw some amazing movies (Dance Academy, Power Rangers, Pitch Perfect 3, Wonder...), met some amazing people, caught up with new and old friends, baked a lot of yummy goodies, lost myself in books and tv shows, shopped until I dropped on a few too many occasions, played some new board games, went to the cat café, embraced change (and realised that it can be good) and did so many more things that helped make this year bearable.

So what does 2018 have in store for me? Well I am going back to study to get experience in the IT field, I have no idea what that will hold and I terrified that I won't cope with it. Of course I am putting things in place so that won't happen but it's in the back of my mind. Everyone I have spoken to thinks I am doing the right thing and have chosen the right course and I am praying that everything goes smoothly.
I hope to get a job and break my unemployment streak and that one day soon I will be writing here that I have a job.
I have no desire to stop volunteering for ReachOut and can't wait to see what 2018 holds in term of being a Youth Ambassador and Forum Mod. I feel a sense of accomplishment whenever I put on my ReachOut shirt and represent them and I still can't believe I have found such an amazing organisation to be apart of.
I want to hold onto the friendships I have made over the years and not loose touch with people no matter how far away they live whether that be by regular texts and facebook messages or scheduling regular coffee catch ups. A lot of my friends are moving away and while it's sad to see them go I know they are doing the right thing for them, but I want to do what I can so I won't loose touch with them.
But lets be honest only God knows what 2018 holds and while I am terrified to live it I am so ready to move forward.

2017 you've been a hard year and one that I am happy to see end but I have survived you and I am stronger than ever, 2018 bring it on let's see what I can survive next.

Love Erin

Dear 2016 and Dear 2015

Friday, December 22, 2017

Five Festive Friday Favourites

With Christmas on Monday (seriously?!) I thought it was fitting to end the week on a festive high with Five Festive Friday Favourites.
I will not be braving the shops doing any last minute shopping this weekend and if anything I will be avoiding them at all cost because I don't like crowds. We have the family Christmas happening tomorrow night which will be fun and Christmas day will be spent with friends. I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen baking and making sweet treats for the event and on Wednesday I felt as though I lived in the kitchen!
Tonight Jocelyn and I are heading to see Pitch Perfect 3 at Hoyts Girls Night Out, it's a real treat for us as we rarely go to the movies and it's even rarer for us to both want to see the same movie. We are also getting dinner before hand (thanks to a generous friend) which will be nice.
Next week I am planning on having a nice quiet week and hopefully hitting up some sales, as the rest of the family is away and after the craziness of the past couple of weeks a staycation is exactly what I need.

Moving on to Five Friday Favourites:

All That Glitters Eyeshadow Palette in Dazzle Me - I am all about the glitter and metallics during the festive season and I was thrilled to find this palette. I really love the colours and how the glitter actually stays where it's meant to be, it's such a fun palette to break out when I need some extra sparkle. I will say that if you wear it over cream eyeshadow it may cause it to go into the creases and smudge a bit so be careful but all in all it's a great fun palette.

2017 MASHUP - this video is amazing and I still can't get my head around that they filmed it all in reverse (including the lyrics!). Also checkout 2016's which is also really cleverly done.

Watermelon and Lemonade Soy Candle - this scent screams Summer to me and while it is a sweet scent it isn't too sweet and the perfect candle to leave out year round. A bonus is that it's in a green jar which means it can double as Christmas décor but you can leave it long after the festive season is over.

Havaianas Freedom sandal - these are my go to Summer shoe and I giving them quite a workout. I took these when I went to the RO Mod workshop and wore these everyday and my feet didn't ache or hurt once (despite doing quite a bit of walking). I also have a pair of the Flash Urban sandals which are still going strong, I do prefer these to the Flash Urban as they have an adjustable back strap and it's not a one size fit all approach like a lot of their sandals (I have a pair of the Luna sandals that are a bit loose at the back for me, not unwearable and still comfy but I am paranoid my feet will slip out of them). For the price you can't go wrong and if you are still looking for the perfect Summer sandals these are it.

Flourless Chocolate Cake - we are hosting family Christmas at our house tomorrow night so there has been ALOT of baking happening! I spent most of yesterday and Wednesday in the kitchen baking and this cake was one of the things I made. If I need a dessert to take somewhere I bake this cake and its yet to let me down. It's so chocolatey and moist and it's perfect for every occasion. It also freezes well so you can make it waaaay in advance and just make sure its fully defrosted before you serve it and no one will ever know (of you make the almond brittle the day of). If you haven't made it yet then it needs to be on your to bake list :)

I hope everyone has a great Christmas and its filled with fun, family and glitter :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Self Care at Christmas

Self care or looking after yourself is important in helping you stay at your best emotionally, physically and mentally. It's important to say on top of your self care so you can handle whatever life throws at you.
Self care can be anything that leaves you feeling recharged from breathing exercises and meditation or going for a walk to watching a tv show or movie or catching up with friends for coffee. It doesn't have to take up a lot of time as long as it leaves you feeling recharged and ready to take on the world.

If you have a mental illness you will know all about self care and how important it is but even if you don't suffer with one, self care is still important and it's especially important around the holiday season.
It can be hard to keep of track things around the holiday season and next thing you know your calendar filled up and you're running around with a few hundred things on your mind. At this point you are probably feeling overwhelmed, stressed and really wanting a break, not that you will get one as life is so busy. This is when you need to schedule in self care so you can handle everything that is thrown at you plus the usual stuff (like sleeping, eating well and remembering to exercise).

Here are some easy ways to practice self care so you won't feel snowed under during the holiday season:
  • Schedule it in - set alarm reminders to take a break or block out a couple of hours during the day just to recharge. Self  care doesn't have to take up huge parts of your life just enough to recharge your batteries.
  • Stick to your normal routine as much as possible (in terms of healthy eating, exercise and sleep) - it can be so easy for healthy eating to go out the window this time of year (so many parties and gatherings!), sticking to your exercise habits, and making sure you are getting enough sleep, but make an effort to. Give yourself some breaks as after all it is the holiday season but try not to make it something you do often. 
  • Don't be afraid to say no - I find it really hard to say no but it's totally ok to! Don't feel like you have to go to every event you get invited too or participate in every family tradition. The same goes if someone asks you for a favour you can totally say no! Give yourself some get out of jail free cards and don't be afraid to use them. Also don't make up elaborate excuses the chances are they won't be needed, if they need an explanation just say you need a chance to recharge or you have other plans (they don't need to know it's with Netflix or a good book!). 
  • Prioritise - just like Santa is making lists and checking them twice, so should you! Write a list of everything you have to do eg buy Christmas presents, wrap gifts, spend some time with the family, go to the gym, text that friend about that thing, clean the house... and prioritise them in order of importance. Once you tick them off go back through the list and reprioritise adding in self care when needed depending on how you feel. Don't be afraid to start with small tasks first so you won't feel overwhelmed. 
  • Learn to switch off - it's easy at this time of year for our mind to be on a million and one things all hours of the day but self care is time to focus on you! Figure out ways to switch off your mind whether that be by breathing exercises or mediation or by doing something that diverts your mind like doing a puzzle or watching an intense tv show. 

The above are all easier said than done but by making self care a priority at this festive season things should hopefully not be as hectic.

For more information on self care ReachOut has published the following articles:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Five Friday Favourites

So I managed to skip a few weeks of Friday Favourites, life got in the way and but I am making up for it with a full on Friday Favourites :)
Two weeks ago I was flying across the country for a Mod Workshop for ReachOut, which you can read all about here. It was a full on weekend but I had a blast and am loving being a moderator, it's volunteering I can do from my couch what's not to like haha!

We put up the Christmas tree on Monday and everything is so Christmassy now, we actually have four Christmas trees up. One big and three mini ones, as last year we didn't put up a tree as everyone (minus me) was leaving to go to Peru on the 27th and they didn't want the hassle of a big tree (and I wouldn't put it down according to them). So we had small trees scattered around the place and we (well I did) brought them out again because they are so cute so the house is looking very festive! It also gets to this time of year when I am all about the Christmas movies, I watch anything cheesy that's on Netflix and I LOVE Elf and The Holiday.
In another week I start avoiding the shops as they get so busy and finding a parking spot is a nightmare so I either go super early or not at all or I get my retail therapy fix online. I'm helping a friend do her Christmas shopping on Wednesday which will be fun and the shops will hopefully be only semi busy not full on busy.

Unless a major miracle happens (I am still praying I get a job but it will take a miracle at this point in time) I will be studying next year which is exciting and a bit daunting but I am starting to prepare myself now so it won't be a huge culture shock for me.

Onto Friday Favourites:

Mini Metal Stars Stocking Filler: Joy - I love these stars and whenever I have a spare $10 I buy a pack. They are the perfect size to put on a medium tree and I love how they sparkle and shine when the light catches on them. They are definitely something I can see being displayed for years to come.

Echosmith Christmas EP - this has been on replay lately and its the perfect music to get you in a Christmassy mood. The songs are catchy and really well written, it's the perfect music to listen to if you are sick of all the usual Christmas songs that are played this time of year.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ - I find that most sunscreens cause me to breakout on my face but not this one. It absorbs into the skin really well and does not feel oily or greasy at all, once you apply it no one can tell you are wearing it (no white film) and it goes great under make up. A little goes along so a tube will last you a long while, its defiantly a must have for Summer.

The Office (US version) - I am currently rewatching The Office when I get a chance and it's even better the second time round. I just put on a DVD (I bought the box set in January) when I need a quiet moment and let the laughs roll, I'm over half way through it and I don't want it to end.

2017 Christmas Gift Guide - less than 3 weeks until Christmas people! If you haven't started shopping yet and/or are stuck trying to find that perfect (and lets be honest budget friendly gift) then it's well worth checking out this years gift guide that I put together. It has something for everyone including some DIY gift ideas and my favourite online shopping places.

15 Gifts to Give Your Anxious Friend - The Mighty is coming out with a lot of awesome gift guides for those who struggle with mental and chronic illnesses. This is great guide if you are buying for someone with anxiety and will help them with their self care over the holiday season. I would love to buy a weighted blanket at some point as I could see it be it really helpful for when I can't sleep at night due to my anxiety or just going through a tough time.

Mighty Car Mods and Ryobi Facebook post - nothing like waking up and seeing this post on my Facebook, for those who don't know Mighty Car Mods are one of the recent celeb ambassadors for ReachOut. They have been a doing great job and are even letting ReachOut host stalls at their events which is awesome. It's a great donation and I am sure the Bluetooth radio kits will be put to good use too.

Disney ZOMBIES - Disney Channel original movies are a weakness of mine (yes I love made for tv movies) and this is their latest. It looks like a super fun film and I can't wait to spend a Friday night watching it.

Shawn Mendes vs One Direction Mashup - I really loved the Taylor Swift vs Ed Sheeran mash up and this one is done by the same person - Kurt Schneider so it's well worth a listen too.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

ReachOut Mod Workshop Recap

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to travel to ReachOut HQ for a workshop to become a
forum moderator.
Since being a Youth Ambassador (almost 3 years ago!) I have pushed myself to do things I never thought I would do and I like to keep pushing myself. So when given the opportunity to get more involved with ReachOut I always jump at the chance. This lead to a fun glitter filled (so much glitter I am still finding it in random places!) weekend workshop at ReachOut HQ, so on Friday I headed on a plane and travelled quite a distance. I arrived late Friday night and didn't leave until Monday night. Trying to navigate a new city, getting to know new people and absorb new information is a challenge for anyone and I felt this pressure to keep my anxiety under control and not let it get in the way.
Here is how my weekend played out, along with my anxiety levels and what I would do differently:

Friday - I left home at midday to catch my flight at 1.50pm, I was lucky that lunch was included in my flight and I was able to get away with hand luggage on the way there. I hadn't flown in over 10 years and flying solo was a different experience. I forgot to take my laptop out of my bag before it went in the scanner so I had to rescan it and when I walked through security the alarm went off  due to my Pandora bangle so I had to unlatch it. My anxiety was starting to pick up but I focused on getting on the plane and practiced my breathing exercises (this app is amazing). I grabbed a (very overpriced) sprite and sat down for a while before I boarded my flight. I boarded my flight and enjoyed the inflight entertainment (I ended up watching Everything, Everything which wasn't a bad movie and I had actually just bought it on DVD but had yet to watch).
Due to the time difference I lost 3 hours, so it was late when I arrived. I grabbed a cab and went to the hostel where I would be staying. Only 2 other people for the workshop (L and S) would be arriving that night and they were already settled in, I said hi to them (they were both in bed). I set up my bed and decided despite not feeling tired I would go to bed and read (perks of having an e-reader with a backlight!). I struggled to fall asleep as it was still early at home but I eventually drifted off.

Saturday - I woke up at 7.00am which was super early to me due to the time difference, got dressed and chatted to my roommates and we headed down to breakfast. Everyone else for the workshop was going to be flying in to get there at mid-morning. L and I caught a cab to ReachOut office while S went to meet the others at the airport. I was feeling a bit anxious but no more than normal before a workshop. I will say throughout the weekend I struggled due to the time difference so my body clock was out of whack so I wasn't sleeping well at all which didn't help my anxiety. I met the others and we started the workshop. We were told that there was a room set up that we could take time out in if we needed, but for some reason I decided that I wouldn't use it as I was there to learn. I always talk more at new situations and my eye contact is off and while I knew it was happening I found it hard to get it under control.
The morning was about getting to know everyone and breaking the ice, there were a few returning moderators who helped run sessions which was good. The afternoon after lunch we got into more full on things and had talks from a few different staff members and returning mods about the role of a moderator, self care, research and a few other topics. I liked how it wasn't just the staff doing the talking but returning mods who had experience and knew the role, so we could relate to them.
Everyone was given money for dinner so we all broke off into groups to grab dinner, I went with 5 others and we ended up at Grilled and then proceeded to get lost trying to get back to the hostel. GPSs didn't really work in the city as the signal kept bouncing off the buildings but we eventually made it back. I was feeling exhausted so I went to bed and tried to sleep but I struggled so I ended up reading for a few hours.

Sunday - my anxiety was flaring up for no reason but I managed to get it under control with some breathing exercises and I pushed through it. It was a full on day and there was a lot of information to take in. We learnt the bulk of the information and there were a lot of back to back sessions. We learnt how to run a GR, got broken into groups which would then focus on a particular area of the forums for the month (and then rotate the following month), how people find ReachOut and the forums and the problems they may run into accessing it, looked at the official mod handbook, how to handle tough posts and what to do if we feel that something is beyond us and a whole lot more. It was very intense to say the least and a lot to absorb.
At night we watched Big Hero 6 and ate pizza before heading back to the hostel. We decided that we would meet on the 1st floor to hang out (it was a shared kitchen/living space) so I grabbed my Kobo and found a chair to relax in to wait for the others. Then people decided to head to a bar, bars aren't my scene and I felt like I was close to breaking point so I decided to finish my book before calling it a night. Back up at my room I chatted for a while with my roommates which was really nice and just what I needed it. I tried to get some sleep but couldn't as the bar next door to the hostel was playing music non stop, I must've drifted off at around 1.00am but it wasn't long before we had to be up and out.

Monday - We packed up and left our bags at the hostel and headed off to the office for the final part of the workshop. We were doing staff 'speed dating' and I was thrilled to see some familiar faces and meet face to face people I had been in contact with over the years. I was really struggling at this point but forced myself to push through. I saw J (who works in fundraising and I keep in regular contact with), who gave me a big hug and was thrilled to see me. I'm not a huge hugger but it was just what I needed and I had been hoping I would see her. I also saw H who is in charge of the Youth Ambassadors which was great. I'm the only YA for my state at the moment which is hard and can feel isolating so it was great to see them both and catch up with them. I met most of the staff members which was great.
We then all headed back to the hostel as most had to catch a shuttle to the airport, my flight wasn't until 8.00pm and I just couldn't face exploring the city. All I could see myself doing was getting lost and then having an anxiety attack. Thankfully I was more than welcome to hang out in the ReachOut office until I had to head to the airport. I was so tired at this point but as I really wanted to sleep on the plane I read my book for a bit, and surfed the net on my laptop, before ending up helping out doing some merch sorting (rolling up posters mostly). I loved being behind the scenes and seeing how much goes into making ReachOut what it is. I said a final goodbye to J, H and the rest of the staff before I caught a cab to the airport.
Despite not needing to check in my bag on the way there, I needed to on the way back as it was a different airline and they had stricter rules. I was early to check in so I waited around for a bit and grabbed some caramel slice at a café as I had skipped lunch (I just wasn't hungry) it wasn't nowhere as good as mine (which I ended up making on the Wednesday after I had gotten back) but it helped keep my blood sugar steady. After I had checked in I wandered around the airport (which was a lot bigger than I thought it would be) and explored a few shops. I ended up grabbing a couple of things (a picture book for the kids I babysit and a toy cat that looked like Maddy as I was missing my cats) and then had dinner at a burger place, which was really good and not typical airport food.
My flight boarded at 8.00pm and food nor entertainment were provided (you could purchase them) so I tried to sleep but I really needed a pillow. I had downloaded (using Netflix) A Christmas Prince so I put in my headphones and watched that and half of another movie (Bruno and Boots: This Can't be Happening) for the first half of the flight before managing to doze off for a while (though waking up frequently). It wasn't the best sleep but it was something and tied me over before I could be in my own bed. My parents picked me up at the airport which was great and as soon as I walked in the door Rikki was there to greet me and wanted cuddles. I ended up sleeping in until 9.30 the next morning which was great and spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching The Office. It took me the rest of the week until I began to feel 'normal' again.

Looking back there's not much I would've done differently, while I did push myself a lot I also made the most of my time and absorbed as much as possible. While I didn't get to explore the city much I am hoping to return at some point in the near future possibly with my youngest sister (probably for her 21st Birthday in a couple of years) as when I was there I felt we would both have a good time and it's much more fun exploring with someone. I loved the parts of the city I did see but it was so big compared to where I live and felt like I needed a good few days to explore it fully. Of course I was there to work and learn so exploring was never really on my books for this trip.
The things that I would've done differently given the chance include:
  • Getting myself into the time zone before I left - I should've gotten up early and lived in that time zone the day of the flight just so I could sleep at night and not been so exhausted. This is easier said than done but I will keep it in mind for next time. I would also try and get a flight that landed in the morning rather than at night so I could exhaust myself before bed rather than go straight from sitting on a plane to bed.
  • Taken more photos - I really regret not taking more photos, I never took the opportunities to grab them and I would've loved to have had some of the office and of what I got up too.
  • Taken small breaks - I think I felt I could only take long breaks to get the most out of them and I really didn't want too so I didn't. But maybe if I took a few 10 minute breaks then it would've made some difference yet I wouldn't have missed out on much. 
  • Drank more water - I didn't feel like I was drinking enough and despite having a water bottle I rarely touched it so I found myself feeling really thirsty at night. I just forgot to drink water which was annoying. 
  • Packed less - easier said than done and I honestly don't know how I could've decreased my luggage except for leaving my laptop at home which I needed (though maybe I could've left the charger at home?). I kept it to the basics but maybe I could've left some things at home and only taken the bare minimum.
As I said before there wasn't much I could've done differently and most of the things I could do are quite doable for next time.

I am so proud of myself for surviving a very full on workshop and not letting my anxiety get in the way. I never in a million years thought this would be possible but I did it! It just goes to show how the amount of work I have put in to push my anxiety so I can do these things and how it's paid off. I can't wait to see what else I can push myself to do.

A huge thankyou to ReachOut for giving me this opportunity and the wonderful staff (and other moderators who put together presentations too) who put the time and effort into running this workshop. It was a great weekend and I am thrilled to be a moderator and get more involved with such a wonderful organisation.

Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 Christmas Gift Guide

Just over 1 month until Christmas and I have done my Christmas shopping! Of course I have been working away at it since October but if you have yet to start your shopping or still have a few people to buy for then be sure to check out this years gift guide.

Gift giving is my love language and I am obsessed with finding the perfect gifts for everyone on my list, but I can easily go overboard if I'm not careful! For the first time this year I decided to type up a table of everyone I need to buy for on Excel (#admintraining) including a budget, what I actually spent, the gift I bought and date I bought it. It's been really helpful with sticking to a budget and keeping track of purchases. I'm thankful that I don't have a lot of people to buy for outside of my immediate family, which makes things easier.

DIY Gifts
I am a crafty person and I use those skills to make people gifts, use the skills that you have to make people gifts and add a personal touch. Ideas for gifts you can easily DIY include:
  • Button magnets - grab some cute buttons, some magnets and some super glue. Glue the magnets to the back of the buttons and you have some cute magnets. You can even glue cute bottle caps, shapes made out of baked polymer clay, or pictures done on shrinkydinks to magnets. These are always popular and don't take much time or effort so perfect for co-workers.
  • Painted pictures - I love to paint and often paint canvasses for friends and family for gifts. My tip is to stick to small canvasses so they won't take up much space or time to do.
  • Baked goods - as a baker I really up my game during December and start planning what I am going to bake in November. Many sweet treats can be made Christmassy with the addition of Christmas sprinkles of course you have all your classic Christmas treats; gingerbread, shortbread, fruitcake ... and the ones I always seem to make oreo truffles, cookie dough truffles peppermint bark. Bag them up nicely and they will be well appreciated. 
  • Photo collages - it seems that people rarely print off their photos anymore so why not make a photo collage of their Instagram or Facebook snaps and put it in a nice frame. You can take it one step further and even paint/decorate a plain wooden frame (you can buy 3 packs at ikea) to make it really personal.
  • Painted pots with succulents - succulents are really big at the moment and something fun to do with the kids is grab some acrylic paint and paint some pots and plant some succulents in them. We actually did this at the mentoring program I volunteered at and everyone loved it. Make sure you varnish the pot before you put the plant in so it won't get weathered.  Perfect teacher gifts if you include a gift tag/card that says something along the lines of 'thanks for helping me grow'. 

For everyone:

Christmas decorations - every year I make a load of decorations to give to friends and family. Gift giving is my love language and I like to be able to present a small gift to those that are in my life but won't break the bank. I make my Christmas decorations in October because I always find November and December are crazy. As it happens to be the last week of November and first week of December are really hectic so I am thankful that these decorations are ready to be given.
I will say it again that if you aren't crafty you can find cute quality decorations at Kikki K (I love these metal stars), Bed Bath N Table and Myer. I actually picked up a heap in the January sales which cost me next to nothing with markdowns and deals (Kikki K did a buy 2 get one free on sale items so I bought a lot during that deal) so keep that in mind come January. I did stick to classic colours and styles as that way they can fit in with a variety of decorating schemes and styles.

Board games - I play a lot of board games with friends on Saturday night and these ones have stood
the test of time with us, I have mentioned a few of these before but it's good for a reminder:
  • Coupe - we still play this game years later, there's also an expansion pack too.
  • Codenames - this game will break you if you're an over thinker but its so fun and no two games are the same.
  • What Do You Meme?- a great game for millennials by millennials this one always brings laughter.
  • Spyfall 2 - seems like a simple concept but it will drive you mad and its always fun to think up different questions.
  • Apples to Apples and Apples to Apples Disney - either the original version or the Disney version are great. 
A fun print in a frame - I am actually scared to give away my perfect go to gift, the only catch is you need to know the person well enough to get the right print/quote. Go on Etsy and search for *insert the person's favourite tv show/movie* then under refine results click art & collectibles and sort by price. Many listings will say printable/digital download and will be between $5-$10 depending on the seller. Following the instructions for purchasing and downloading (most of the time they are instant) stick the file on a usb and go to a place where you can print things off (like office works). You could totally print it off at home but I like having different size options and it's so cheap so anyway that it doesn't seem worth it to do it at home. Once you've printed it off go and find a nice frame and you're done. A bonus is that once you buy the print it's yours to use so if you have any friends who like the same tv show/movie  you can gift them the print too (just change up the size/frame if required). You can get a nice personal gift for under $20 depending on the frame you buy. I like this print, this one and this one makes me smile.

2018 Calendar - pretty standard gift but you can find some really fun ones at the calendar stands popping up in shopping centres.

Movie tickets - there's quite a few movies coming out in January (Pitch Perfect 3, The Greatest Show Man and Coco all look good)  and going to the movies is always fun. I always find movie tickets are well received and can be given as a family gift (maybe include a few bags of lollies for the movie), plus its a gift that won't break the bank.

For her:

The Giving Keys - I love keys and have quite a few pieces of jewellery incorporating them! I was thrilled when I discovered The Giving Keys every piece purchased you help those transiting out of homelessness with employment opportunities. I knew I had to buy one for my sister for Christmas as she too loves keys. There are so many options and you get to choose the word to get hand stamped on the piece to or for an extra $5 a custom word. I will say as it's based in the US, shipping and the
exchange rate can make it a bit expensive but the pieces are good quality and you know by purchasing them you are helping people.

Decent makeup brushes - this is such a practical gift if you know the person wears makeup, the chances are she will appreciate some good brushes. I have quite a few sets and use them on a daily basis, I also like to have multiples of the same style of brush. The brands of brushes I have used and love include: Nude by Nature, Manicare, EcoTools and my sister swears by her Real Techniques brushes.

Something Monogramed - going the extra mile and personalising something really shows you care and I love the monogramed range from Kikki K, there's a huge range of things you can get personalised. Everything is leather too and will be treasured pieces for years to come (if someone wants to order me this clutch I would be totally ok with it ;) )

Nice candles - its really only been this past year that I have learnt to love and appreciate decent candles. I love how they make a room smell nice and when lit they have a calming affect. I have quite a few placed around my room in random places and its so nice to get a whiff of their scents. I love Dusk for candles and they have a wide range variety at various price points to suit your budget.

Beach bag - a girl can never have enough bags and beach bags are something practical for Summer that will be used. There's a lot of nice ones out at the moment, I just ordered this one for myself (a bonus is that it's half price!)  but this is a nice one from Jeanswest, as is this one from Sunnylife and this one from Typo.
Fun books - I love to browse through pretty books whether that be craft, cooking or party planning and I now have quite a collection! Some great books to look into:
  • Lauren Conrad Celebrate - this is such a well written party planning book and it includes pictures of her own wedding too. I have read this book cover to cover many times and it's such a beautiful book.
  • Cookies and Cups cookbook - I really like this cookbook as it doesn't have fancy recipes and everything I have made from it has turned out perfectly. 
  • Cake Pops by Bakeralla- full disclosure I have no plan on making these cakepops but I love looking at all the pretty pictures and imagining that one day I will (it won't happen as I wish to keep my sanity haha). There is also a Christmas edition too which is just as pretty.
  • Best-Ever Kids' Cakes (The Australian Women's Weekly)- this a thick cookbook but it covers so many cakes. When I was younger my favourite bedtime stories were cake decorating books (I was a strange child!) and after trying to resist buying this book I gave in and haven't regretted it. I love all the cakes and I have a dream of making every single one in the book eventually, plus its all doable and there is nothing super challenging about the cakes either.
  • Celebrate Everything - I impulse bought this book online one afternoon and have had the best fun looking through it. I love the illustrations and the stories included in the book regarding certain parties and family traditions. 
For Him:

Key Finder - if they are prone to loosing their keys a key finder is something I am sure they will find useful. This one not only emits a loud noise to locate the keys, and if you're out of range you can use the map to locate where the keys last were plus its waterproof.

Tickets to a sports game - whether that be football, cricket or something else. Find his favourite sport and get him a ticket to go along to a game. You could even get a group of friends and family members to pitch in and buy season tickets.

A hammock - my dad LOVES his hammock and spends many afternoons just lounging around in it. If you have a space for one, its a great gift and one that will be well used for those afternoon siestas that every man needs to have.

Multi-tool - even if they aren't a handyman the chances are they will need a multi-tool at some stage regardless of their hobbies and interests. They are super useful to have around if you need to tighten something up, open something, saw something off ... this one is a more budget friendly option which contains a hammer, and this one is a credit card sized survival tool which would make a great stocking stuffer.

Food and alcohol DIY kits - these are perfect for the foodie while they are expensive they seem like Fresh Cheese Kit, Italian Cheeses Kit, Hard Cider Kit, Cabernet Sauvignon Kit, Stone Pale Ale Brewing Kit, Cuisine R-Evolution Kit, and Gin & Tonic R-Evolution Kit.
fun gifts and are great for the person who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. There's a huge range of both food and alcohol kits that will be sure to impress them! The following kits look fun:

For the kids:

Duplo - my mum still has a box of this which we have collected over the years (some of it is easily over 20 years old!) and whenever we have kids over it gets pulled out and played with. It's a bigger version of lego and doesn't hurt when you step on it. I buy this for friends kids and it's a great baby gift too as it grows with the child.

Books - as a book worm myself I love to buy books for kids. Some great titles to look into include:
Beach toys - Summer screams beach and pool time and toys Summer family fun times will be well used. Plus kids can never have enough buckets and shovels. Sunnylife has some great ones that both kids and adult alike will love.

Activity packs - give the parents a break and give some packs filled with fun and hopefully some peace and quiet. Keep in mind the child's age and abilities when creating these packs and adjust where needed. 
  • Beading -  beads, elastic, wire and jewellery fittings all in a tackle box so they won't get lost.
  • Paint your name - wooden letters to spell out their name, acrylic paint and paint brushes.
  • Friendship bracelets - embroidery thread, beads and some instructions on how to make some basic designs.
  • Scrapbooking - note book, stickers, washi tape, scissors, glitter, ribbon and any other embellishments you can think of.
  • Outdoor fun - chalk, chalk markers, bubbles, toy cars, blow up beach ball or bouncy balls, water pistols, water balloons, sun screen and some outdoor game ideas.
  • Pamper pack - nail polish, nail stickers, fun hair accessories, face mask (you can get some cute sheet ones), moisturising cream and  possibly some make up depending on the age.
  • Sleepover kit - microwave popcorn/lollies/other snacks, sleeping mask, fun age appropriate movie, nail polish and a cute pillow.

Klutz books - these books are great in that kids (and adults) alike always love them and they cover a range of topics. Each book includes everything needed to complete the activity and clear instructions (including pictures). They also makes great gift for someone who loves to craft but never has enough time. 

Touchable bubbles - these are so fun and a great stocking suffer for kids. Its so fun to catch and try to build to build a tower of them.

I love shopping online and have bought quite a few gifts online just because I can get good deals and I can shop at home while watching The Office. The following websites are worth checking out:
  • Booko - I can't speak more highly of this website! Type in the book title you want and it will come up with the versions (hardback, paperback, year published) and a list of websites where you can buy the book for the best price including postage. It will even tell you where you can buy it second hand along with price trends. I use this website all the time and save quite a bit buying books by visiting this site first.
  • Hard to Find - this is a website full of unique, fun gift ideas with something for the hardest to buy for people. It also includes a wide range of personalised gifts too which is great if you want to go the extra mile.
  • Urban Rituelle - I just put in an order with them as I am addicted to their lip balms and I can't find them stocked anywhere, but all their products are amazing and smell so good. I am big on customer service and these guys go the extra mile so you can tell they really love their products. Shipping is free over $100 and you get 10% off when you sign up to their newsletter too plus every order gets a bonus depending on how much you spend so if you have a lot of people to buy for its well worth doing a big order to get a good deal. 
  • Etsy - like ebay but for handmade things, you can find so many things on here. It's great for unique gifts and you know that you are supporting small businesses too
It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the glitter, craziness and materialism of Christmas but remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and he is the greatest gift of all.

I have just started listening to Christmas music and I am loving Echosmith's Christmas EP, so give this song a listen.

Last years gift guide, 2015's , 2014's , and  (I think I skipped 2013) 2012's.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

When things don't go as planned

My life isn't going as planned and that's ok -  is what I want to scream from the rooftops when people
ask me how I am going. Maybe because I want to reassure or convince myself or maybe because I feel the need to let people that sometimes when things don't go as planned that's ok.
I never in a million years thought I would maybe going back to study next year, but I'm ok with it.
I thought when I was 23 I would be married by now or at least have a boyfriend, but I don't and I am seriously ok with it.
When I was younger I thought medication would 'fix' my anxiety but it doesn't alone, so I see a psych and do regular exercise and try to eat a high protein diet and I've never felt better.
I used to think volunteering was overrated and I could never find time to volunteer regularly or find an organisation I would be so passionate about. But then I discovered ReachOut and it's been almost 3 years of being a Youth Ambassador and I have no desire to stop anytime soon.
I didn't think I was a good enough writer to have anything published other than this blog, but I took a chance and submitted an article to The Mighty which got published and I am so proud of myself. I have since had multiple articles published and it's been a great confidence boost.
This past week things have started to go as planned, I got a job interview (it was only a first round interview but it was something!), I got accepted into a ReachOut program which seemed like a far fetched dream when I applied, I got a certificate recognising that I had raised $380 for ReachOut with my last fundraising activity along with an encouraging letter from them, I bought two cute tops from Jeanswest that made me feel confident and life in general seems great. But I can't help wonder how long this will last, sure life seems to be on the up but when will it start to crash down around me again? I am a planner by nature yet when things do go as planned I can't help but question when they won't. Over this past year I have shed many tears and felt hopeless too many times too count but I have gotten through it. I questioned what was going on and there were times I just wanted to give up (and nearly did) but through it all God had a plan and he helped guide me through it.
Yes things haven't gone as planned and I have no idea why, but I've survived it and I now know that when things don't go as planned that it's ok because at the end of the day God has a plan for me and he will guide me through it all and that's pretty amazing to think about.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Five Friday Favourites and why I'm maybe going back to Tafe next year

What a strange fortnight! I've had both busy days and quiet days, but nothing to really write home about. I had a stall for ReachOut at a school last Wednesday and while I knew it was happening I wasn't fully focused on it until the night before it hit me. Thankfully it came together despite the wind and my lack of focus and I got to speak to lots of kids about ReachOut.

I've also been looking into doing some study at Tafe, as the job market just isn't improving and I'm feeling very trapped by it all! I would love to work in admin but if I can't land a job in that area then maybe it's time to do something different. I had my heart set on doing a Certificate in Mental Health but after looking into it I realised that it wouldn't lead anywhere and at the end of the day I need a job and it's pointless doing study that won't help me get a job.
So I thought back on what I enjoyed studying in high school, what lead me to wanting to do admin and most importantly what would lead me to getting work. I realised that maybe I should look into studying something computer related, I enjoy computers and it's an industry that is booming, plus being a girl means that I'm an minority so more places are likely to hire me. I rang up my local campus and chatted to someone regarding the courses offered to do with computers, the course I had in mind (Cert.4 in Computer Systems Technology) seemed like a good fit and having done a Cert. 3 in business I wanted something that would compliment that. In the end she agreed with me and said that I just should apply and I can always refuse my enrolment if need be for whatever reason. So I sat down and applied to do a Cert. 4 in Computer Systems Technology which will not only lead me to getting a job, it's also a course that is subsided by the government as it's a skill that they want and if I do one additional unit I can also complete my Cert. 4 in IT at the same time. A bonus is that by also having a cert. 3 in business I am more hireable as I know how businesses work so the course compliments that well too (plus my previous employment is also relevant too). I soon got an email saying that I qualify for a place in the course and to wait further information on my enrolment. The campus I have selected to attend is also 2 minutes down the road which is great as it's local and means I won't have a big drive each day.
I have no idea whether I will accept it or not (I have until mid January), but its a step forward and something to fall back on. I am still going to apply for jobs and I'm in no way giving up, I am just going a different route and seeing where that leads me. If it was up to me I would be working part time in admin environment being a typical young adult but nothing in my life has been straight forward so why did I think finding a job would be?
I have always said that God is in control of this journey and maybe what I want isn't what God wants, maybe doing another course is a step in the right direction. For now I am going to continue to pray and take it one day at a time.

Moving on to Friday Favourites:

Bed Bath N Table Christmas Range - I LOVE Christmas and if it was acceptable I would decorate the house in November and every year I have to restrain myself from buying all things Christmas from Bed Bath N Table. This years ranges are really cute and there is something for every decorating style. This is currently on my to buy list, I also think this one is cute and I'm tempted to buy this one too.

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter - the blurb reads:
Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe--a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.
As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

I love all of Denise's books and Blue Ridge Sunrise did not disappoint! It's a story of redemption and of living in the present while also dealing with the consequences of the past. I wasn't too sure what to think about Zoe at first but I soon grew to love her and realised that she felt broken and unsure how to handle the challenges she was facing. Cruz was someone who had been hurt deeply in the past and pretended like he was over Zoe and moving on with his life but in reality he wasn't. It was great to see these two characters reconnect and see what God had in store for them. Life rarely goes to plan and this book showed it perfectly and how sometimes where God leads us can be better than expected.
The story was a delight to read and I loved how Denise incorporated the past with the present so you could see the whole story. I wasn't quite sure where the book was going at times but it was a great read and left me wanting more!
If you are after a page turner filled with surprises and love then this book is for you!

Blue Ridge Sunrise comes out on the 7th of November.

Best Ever Loaded Brownies - everyone needs a good brownie recipe and this is mine! I probably make these once every 2 weeks as they are popular and easy to bake. Unless its a special occasion I normally just put in choc chips but it's fun to go crazy with mix ins too. For an easy dessert I serve them warm with ice cream and hot fudge sauce for a brownie sundae which is a crowd pleaser.

The Engagement Plot by Krista Phillips - the blurb reads:
Six months ago, William stole Hanna’s heart and shattered it in front of millions of people on a reality TV dating show. And now the big-wig CEO is back on Hanna’s home turf in Minnesota and wants her to forgive him? Fat chance of that. But life is swirling around faster than snow in a blizzard, and despite her objections, teaming up with William seems like the only option to rescue her reputation.
William has never regretted anything more than the day he gave that ill-fated interview for the reality show, The Price of Love. But while he can’t change the past, he’s determined to fix the future. He just needs to convince Hanna to forgive him—and pretend to be engaged with him. Simple, right?
When the media erupts with even worse accusations, teaming up and pretending to be engaged seems to be the only way to salvage their reputations. Despite the media frenzy that swirls around them, an attraction neither of them can fight off begins to surface. Could this love run deeper than a scandal, or will old wounds tear them apart once and for all?

This was a fun read and if you love watching the Bachelor or Bachelorette then you will love this book! At first glance it seemed like a typical girly read but it was filled with faith and once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Hanna is someone who every girl can relate too in some way and who just wants her happily ever after. William is a business man who has turned his back on God and thought that by going on a reality dating show would make the people around him happy. Somehow both of them get sucked up in a scheme that should help both of them, it seems fool proof and what could go wrong? Of course God has other plans and the more you read the more you get to know about their pasts and what the future could hold.
If you want a light read with some faith filled moments then this book is for you.

The Engagement Plot is out on the 1st of November.

The Good Doctor - I have been trying to find a show that will fill the void Saving Hope left in me (but I am still not recovered from that final episode!) and came across The Good Doctor. Its about Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome who relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital's surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to save lives and challenge the scepticism of his colleagues. I've only watched the first few episodes so far and I'm really enjoying it. It's great to see more disabilities shown on tv and it's really clever how they show what is going on in Shaun's head.  It's due to start airing on channel 7 soon so give it a shot and you might be pleasantly surprised, like I was.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Five Friday Favourites

Another fortnight means another Friday Favourites. I walked into Big W the other day and Christmas stuff was already out which is crazy when you think about it! I have to admit that I LOVE Christmas and I have a feeling once I get my own house I will start decorating in November just because I love the lead up to it. I have also started my Christmas shopping, I find its best to spread it out over a long period of time so it doesn't destroy my bank account.

I've applied for a couple of jobs this past week so praying that I see some results soon. There's not been much out there in the job market so for me to apply for two jobs this past week is good, when I've been lucky enough to apply for one in previous weeks. But at the end of the day it's in God's hands and I know in his timing I will get a job.

Onto Friday Favourites :

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolour in Metallic in Gleam - I bought this the other week and really like it, the staying power is decent and unlike some matte lip colours it doesn't dry out your lips. I really like the colour and its a more subtle pink than my go-to lip colour so perfect when you want something minimal which isn't a nude.

Greenhouse Academy - I know I mentioned this last fortnight but since finishing the series I am watching it for the third time it is that good. Its a about a private boarding school for gifted future leaders, mysterious events draw kids from both competing houses into a secret investigation. They uncover a deadly plot to destroy the planet. Only by joining forces, will they be able to save the world. It's such a different show and I can see a lot of people loving it, I can't wait for season 2 and what it will hold.

Riverdale Season 2 - there is a reason so many people are hooked on this addictive show, its dark (but not too dark), mysterious, the actors are amazing and there are so many layers to it that leave you wanting more. It's one of the only shows my sister and I both watch which can be tricky when only one of us has seen the latest episode. Season 2 has just started and so far so good, if you haven't started to watch it I highly recommend you do! - being a big reader of books I buy a lot online (yes I have an e-reader but sometimes hard copies are best) and it can take a lot of time to shop around to find the best price. Booko is a site I use often, you type in the title and/or author and it comes up with the cheapest options INCLUDING POSTAGE (which can be a killer with online shopping). You can select the format if you want it in hard or soft cover or even in ebook form and it includes where you can buy the book second hand if that's an option, it evens shows you price trends. It even does it for DVDs if that's more your thing. I have a few books to buy for people for Christmas and this site will be getting quite a workout.

The Giving Keys: Classic Key Necklace - keys are one of my things and I was gifted with a bronze key necklace stamped with 'inspire' and I love it. I recently discovered The Giving Keys an initiative in LA that aims to help the homeless by employing them making this awesome key jewellery. There's such a huge range and you can pick from a range of words to get stamped on (including breathe, love, hope, inspire, faith, create, fearless, let go, brave... just to name a few!) or choose a custom word (up to 9 letters) for an extra $5.  I couldn't resist ordering one for myself (me and online shopping are never a good combination!) and a piece for a Christmas gift for someone. It was a hard decision to make but I got a classic key necklace in silver with Faith stamped on it and I can't wait for it to arrive. You can view the full range here and if you want to purchase one for a Christmas gift for you or someone else I recommend ordering one now.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Not Caring

Still unemployed and nothing has changed, no jobs on the horizon and it seems at every employment
agency meeting I feel like they are doing nothing, but I don't care. But two months ago I was in the same position and feeling really annoyed and angry, I have no idea what has changed but my mindset has changed.
There's been very few jobs I can apply for, I haven't applied for a job in almost 2 weeks because there is nothing out there and I don't care. I want to care but that won't change anything and I check Seek every day and a few other sites on a regular basis but nothing has popped up and that's ok.
I would love a job but if I am doing everything I can, why should I worry?
I'm a planner by nature and a bit of a control freak (mainly due to my anxiety), so for me not to care about this unemployment situation is a big deal. I used to think that once I got a job other things would fall into place but why should I put my plans on hold due to not having a job? I am lucky to get money from the government and while its not a lot, its enough to live off and save a bit. I would do anything to have a job but maybe I should just stop worrying about it all and let God deal with it?
I still pray about getting a job and it's still a huge prayer point for me but at the same time I know God has a plan for me and while being unemployed isn't fun I know there must be a reason for it. So maybe not caring at the moment isn't a bad thing?
Image from 2017's Sadie Robertson calendar you can order 2018's here

Friday, September 29, 2017

Five Friday Favourites

It's been a crazy couple of weeks! Last weekend was the annual inter-church sport competition which was full on but loads of fun, I also only got hit by one flying object which was a record! I've been applying for jobs, recovering from yet another cold (which wiped me out for a few days) and starting my next ReachOut fundraising activity.

I went shoe shopping at the outlet shopping centre on Wednesday to find some shoes for my cousin's wedding in December and ended up buying 2 pairs (there was a buy one get the next pair 40% off) from Wittner. I got these silver wedges and these white block heels and ended up spending just over $110 in total for both pairs (my budget was $100 for one pair so I am thrilled!). I am unsure which pair I will choose to wear but figure I have 2 months to wear them both in and will see what I am feeling on the day.

Onto Five Friday Favourites:

Swatch Colorush watch - I had it in my head that I wanted a watch for my birthday from my parents and I love Swatch watches. I spent ages looking on the website trying to find one I liked and I eventually settled on this one. It's such a different fun watch, while still being classic and having the metal band which I like (it also means its easier for me to get on). I've gotten loads of compliments on it.

2018 Sadie Robertson calendar - call me organised but I have already bought my calendar for next year! I got given the 2017 one for Christmas last year and I loved it, even now it makes me so happy when I see it so I couldn't resist ordering it for 2018 (I had a 25% off code for Koorong). I am obsessed with Sadie Robertson's range (these cards are on my bedside table and they are so encouraging) and just love the messages behind everything, plus the water colour style is so pretty.

Kikki K 2018 Weekly Diary Small: Cute - I like to think I am sorted for 2018 now! If you're a member at Kikki K you get a $10 voucher for your birthday each year and every year I like to use it to buy a diary for the following year. I always go for the same diary as it's the perfect size for my handbag and I am a creature of habit. I just can't get in the habit of using my phone for a diary and like to be able to write dates down far in advance where possible. Plus it's the cutest diary and it's perfect to use for work and study.

Dear World by Echosmith - this is a song that I think everyone needs to listen to at the moment and its so beautifully written and sang. Also Echosmith's EP is released today so go download it now, you won't regret it :)

Taylor Swift VS Ed Sheeran Mashup
This popped up on my Facebook feed and I loved it. I tend to get sucked into YouTube holes quite easily and I spent my Wednesday night watching a lot of videos but this one came out on top by far. The way the songs flow, its just a fun video plus you can't deny that these guys are talented.

Bonus entry:

Greenhouse Academy - I must say that Netflix is killing it on their original stuff and Greenhouse Academy was amazing! I won't give too much away but it's one of those that will have hooked from the first episode and it's a new concept with a relatively unknown cast too.

Friday, September 15, 2017

22 things I have achieved my 23rd year

 No Friday Favourites this week as I am 23 today! I am feeling a bit old today, I have heard from
various people that once you turn 23 you are officially an adult and I am starting to agree with them. This past year hasn't turned out how I would've hoped but at the same time I have achieved so much (I have also binged quite a few TV shows! Parenthood, Friends, The Office, Every Witch Way, Good Witch, The IT Crowd ... I will stop now!) and done things I never in a million years thought I would do. I realised that my self worth wasn't in the fact whether I am employed or not, having a job shouldn't give you an identity or self worth when so much else shapes you. While I don't currently have a job and I have no idea when I will get one, I am not just my job status and if people can't see that then they don't deserve to be in my life.
I have no idea what this year will hold but I do know that whatever happens God is in control and I will be ok with whatever happens.

I thought I would write a list of things I have achieved in my 23rd year, so I can remind myself that despite still being unemployed it hasn't been a disaster and I've done so much.

  1. Survived 3 months living alone while the rest of the family was overseas. 
  2. Had multiple articles published on The Mighty.
  3. Catered (and did décor for) a quiz night for church with only one weeks notice.
  4. Attended a ReachOut Youth Ambassador one day intensive/refresher course.
  5. Continued to be a ReachOut Youth Ambassador.
  6. Gotten off my P-Plates which means I have my full drivers license!
  7. Started doing regular exercise and kept it up.
  8. Been stabbed 2 times by my doctor to get a mole (which I thought was cancer but turned out it wasn't) and a cyst removed (which turned out to be pre-cancerous). Which means I now have 2 new scars.
  9. Saw The Next Step in Concert (this was exactly a week after I turned 22) with Megan.
  10. Did a speech (twice!) at a mental health expo about exam stress.
  11. Closed some doors that needed to be closed.
  12. Continued to stay on top of my anxiety despite having a few 'life traps' (as is the correct psychological term for them).
  13. Learnt how to stand up for myself and be assertive when the time has called for it.
  14. Baked an amazing 3 layer cake for my parents 25th wedding anniversary.
  15. Learnt how to really trust in God and rely on him through some really hard times.
  16. Helped organise a car wash for missions at church (despite not being able to actually wash cars due to having stitchers in from a cyst removal).
  17. Did 2 terms of mentoring at the local youth centre, which got me out of my comfort zone while also being really rewarding.
  18. Grown more as a Christian.
  19. Gotten hit by a flying gym matt and Frisbee (I was spectating our team warming up and got hit in the eye!) all on the same weekend!
  20. Shared more of my story.
  21. Continued to serve my church doing various things including: projector, young adults and ALOT of baking!
  22. Started to stop believing the lies my anxiety tells me and believing that I am worth something.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mental Health Expo - ReachOut Stall and Exam Stress Presentation

After a lot of hard work and the mental health expo is over! This is a long post so you have been
warned, mainly because I want to document it but also so it can be used as a resource for other ReachOut Youth Ambassadors if they ever get the chance to do something like this.

How the expo ran was that there was a morning session between 9.00am and 10.30am then morning tea followed by breakout sessions (where I was presenting) from 11.10am -12.20pm (with a 10 minute break in the middle), then lunch and the afternoon session between 1.00pm-2.30pm. All stall holders were welcome to join in any sessions they wished but I didn't do the morning session so I could focus on my presentation, though after lunch (and after I had packed up) I went in to the afternoon session which was good (though the first half was on sport so I kinda switched off for that). I was asked to be there for a 7.30am set up and to expect people before the morning session, recess and lunch. I was thankful that a forum moderator (the only one in my state) could be there to help for the bulk of it which was helpful. I had to set up in the theatre for my presentation during recess which was really busy so it helped to have her man the table while I did that.

The Stall - I kept it pretty simple once again with my light box (best $20 I have ever spent!), a blue tablecloth, lollies (I buy mentos and mini chupa chups in bulk from The Reject Store as they are cheap and individually wrapped), brochures and bookmarks with the Caption Game (see below) in the middle. Thankfully table and chairs were provided though the table was narrow but I made things work, I also took a freestanding banner. I find that the light box and banner makes everything seem more professional and once again I got confused as a staff member from ReachOut!
As I was catching the train in, I found it make sense to pack everything (including my laptop and food for the day) into a small roll along suitcase which made things so much easier. I think from now on I will do this for stalls rather than carrying everything in a crate.

The Presentation - the irony of this was that it caused me a lot of stress and it was about exam stress haha! I spent a good amount of time writing my talk and powerpoint to go along with it, I also rehersed it on and off for 2 weeks leading up the expo.
For the content I just picked and chose what would work in well from this page. This meant that I could use it as a point of reference at the end of the talk and direct people to check it out.
I did the presentation during both break-out sessions and I will say that the second presentation did go a lot more smoothly which was expected. Despite me thinking that both talks should come close to 30 minutes they came in at 20 minutes which was fine. Including a video was a good idea and it was something that they could all related to and tied in with the talk perfectly (Rahart Adam's your 'There's Life After' video helped make my talk!).

Caption Game - I always find it helps to have some sort of interactive element on stalls, to get people talking and act as an ice breaker. I have previously made a memory game but from experience at last years expo I knew it wouldn't work so instead I made a caption game. The concept was based on the game What Do You Meme where you match captions to memes but I wanted this have to have a mental health twist and the captions not be so long. Instead I had some basic captions (some mental health related) and a variety of images and people could match them as they pleased and leave them in the middle of the table for other people to see them.

Captions -  I used a variety of captions all kept to one sentence. I just typed in a text box on Word keeping the format the same. Some captions I used included: what a good day feels like, what a bad feels like, me and my friends, words of advice, when I try to explain myself to people. how people react to mental illness, how people should react to mental illness, when I realise I have responsibilities, how I feel today, when your favourite song comes on in the car... I had a total of 22 captions but that included some repeats.

Images - I found these over a week (when I took breaks from writing my presentation) and printed them off every time I had a couple of pages of them. I tried to use a wide variety of images and made sure that the bulk of them had some wording on them (as in quotes from tv shows) rather than just images. I also included some quotes from popular young adult novels including: Harry Potter, Tomorrow When The War Began (which is common book high schoolers read in school), If I stay and Everything, Everything (as the movie has just come out).
Images I used included: Friends quotes/memes, Degrassi: Next Generation Quotes (I had a heap saved in my images that had to do with mental health), movie characters (including Big Hero 6, Inside Out, minions and a Princess Bride quote), Parks and Rec quotes, The IT crowd quotes, Brooklyn Nine Nine quotes, a pic of a celeb ambassador (Rahart Adams) for ReachOut wearing a ReachOut hoodie and a few other random images. In the end I had a total of 41 images.

I then printed out the images and captions in colour and the tedious work began! I really wanted to make sure the game lasted, so after I printed them out I cut them out and stuck them on white cardboard, then cut them out and laminated them and finally cut them out again! You could totally skip the laminating part but I am lucky enough to have access to one and figured that it will make them last. I do suggest at least gluing them onto cardboard as paper isn't going to handle much wear and tear.

I was able to do the cutting out while watching Netflix so it wasn't too bad and its nice to have access to another game when it comes to stalls.

This game went down really well and a lot of teachers were impressed by it (one even took a photo it so she could recreate something similar), some kids also liked flicking through the images and having a laugh.

All in all it was an extremely successful (but tiring) day and I am thrilled that I get opportunites like this because of ReachOut.