Monday, December 31, 2018

Dear 2018

Dear 2018,

I am ending you on antibiotics and with a cold that won't go away, but what a year you have been! I have to admit I am a bit sad to see you go and this year has been one of the best years for me in a long time.

At the start of the year I had this urge that I needed to document it, I found a box and labelled it 2018 then throughout the year I have placed mementos and things to help me remember the year by I have no idea why but I hope that in the future I will look back on this year and be amazed at what I achieved in it.

In February I went back to study, I decided to study Computer Systems Technology and promptly had an anxiety/panic attack on the second day back, I felt like a failure and just wanted to hide. But God had other plans and he used something I was ashamed about to lead to something good and I started studying Community Services. I found myself and knew this is what I should be doing, I loved getting my Cert. 4 in it so much so that I found myself continuing study and I am half way through getting my Diploma in Community Services. I can't wait until next semester and am eager to see what it holds. I love looking back at my past assignments and I am so proud of what I have achieved. Almost everyone I know has told me that community services is the right job for me and I never would have found out if it wasn't for that panic attack.
In March I experienced my first broken bone (when I did it, my sister exclaimed that she couldn't believe I hadn't done one sooner) when I fell down 3 steps on campus and broke my ankle! I ended up being in a moonboot for 12 weeks which sucked and it's still giving me trouble all these months later. I joke that it's proof that I am the clumsiest person ever and all my friends seem to agree with me.

I learnt how to cater on a larger scale this year, as I catered the youth group camp and helped cater a friend's wedding. Both were full on at the time but I am proud of myself for doing both and have no doubt that the skills I have learnt will come in handy and that they won't be the last things I cater.

All my hard work has finally started to pay off anxiety wise and people started to tell me I looked
healthier and more relaxed. Both my psych and doctor couldn't believe how well I am doing and am both proud of me. I started to journal more, regularly practice self-care and not rely on sugar as much. I finally feel like I am showing my anxiety who is boss, while I do have bad days they aren't as bad as what they used to be and it's been great to see a noticeable improvement over the year.

This year was all about pushing myself out of comfort zone as it was something I have always struggled with. When you have anxiety it can be so easy to just stay in your bubble and not move out of your safe space and somehow in my mind I had built up safe areas and safe people, this was preventing me from living my life and while I do push myself a lot, I wanted to really push myself and prove to myself that I could take big risks and survive.
I went to some events where I knew very little people to start but the big thing I did was sign up and participate in G Team. I really enjoyed it and I want to do it next year and see if I can rope in some extra people from church so they get to experience it to.

I turned 24 this year and it's a weird age to be in as some of my friends are single, some of my friends are married and some of them married with kids. It's a really transitional period and if I am being honest I have struggled with working out where I fit in and felt isolated at times. Don't get me wrong I am 100% where I am meant to be right now, but it has been tough at times.

I continued to be involved with ReachOut as both a Forum Moderator and Youth Ambassador. I fundraised, took over their instragram stories for a day, did some stalls and even did a speech on how ReachOut has helped me! I also to attend their 20th celebrations in March and also completed another Moderator Workshop. It's been really helpful to get to apply what I am learning in Community Services into both of these roles and am I am excited to see where my work with ReachOut leads me over the next year.

I also continued to be involved with the young adults at church and while the group dynamic has changed, it's been great to see some new faces. We read through all of Genesis in a night which was awesome and it was great to see how the all stories fitted together, then just before Easter we read through all of Luke. We competed in the Inter-Church young adult sport competition and came 16th overall. We also had no ambulances called or injuries requiring a trip to hospital this year which was good.

Self-care was something I had to focus on during the busy times and I really needed to schedule a few times before I ended up on empty. I realised that self-care doesn't have to take a huge amount of time or be a big deal, it can be something as simple as watching a TV for 30 minutes or reading a chapter of a book. I also started to say no to things when I found myself feeling overwhelmed with life and needing a break. There were times when I had 5 assignments due, I needed to bake for bible study and had to vacuum and I couldn't go on like this. I realised that the world wasn't going to fall apart if I said no and that I am allowed to take a step back from things if I need to. Thankfully I am now on a break from everything until a week into January before the year kicks off and life starts to slowly get busy again.

This year has seen me grow and really learn how to fly, I am so proud of myself of what I have achieved and looking back on the 2018 it's been a great year. Yes there have been low points but there has also be high points and things I never in a million years thought I would do.
I have no idea what 2019 will hold and I can't wait  to see what I will achieve and experience.

Thanks 2018 for a great year and hopefully 2019 is even better.

Love Erin

2017 recap, 2016 recap and 2015 recap

Friday, December 28, 2018

Five Friday Favourites

I apologise for not keeping up with Five Friday Favourites, but it's the season to be busy. Thankfully things should be quietening down finally.
On Christmas Eve my sisters and I went to my church for the Christmas Eve service which was nice and the whole church glowed with fairy lights. On Christmas day we opened a present each before going to breakfast at my parents church, I actually used to go their church so it was great to catch up with some old faces. Then we came home and opened up the rest of our presents, it was a quietish Christmas day with only us and someone from my parents church who had no family in town. We played some board games after lunch before we went to a friends place with another family to enjoy each others leftovers and catch up.

On Boxing Day, I met a friend who was over for a few days from Hong Kong for lunch at my favourite café along the river. Then on Boxing Night we had all the immediate family over which included doing a stealing Santa, this is lots of fun and always gets a bit competitive. Everyone buys a gift around the value of $30 and wraps it up and then you can either steal from someone who already has something unwrapped or unwrap your gift. The guys go crazy for the tools and it's hilarious to watch them get so competitive!
We had so much food, with turkey, lamb, chicken and salads for main course followed by pavlova, flourless chocolate cake and a rocky road cheesecake which I made. It's always good to catch up with the extended family and I always have loads of fun with my cousins (shout out to my cousin Brianna who reads this blog and likes to tell me how amazing it is!).

I have been battling a cold for over a week and on Boxing Day my voice started to go and after all the family had left it was safe to say it wasn't going to return anytime soon. I haven't lost my voice in forever so my family is really enjoying how silent the house is. I was tossing up whether I should go see my doctor this afternoon as when I was coughing my left ear popped followed by pain, I looked online and there was a 3.00pm appointment and I grabbed it. Long story short I have a fever and my left ear is filled with fluid so I am on antibiotics for a week. I was lucky that I saw my doctor when I did, as come next week it could've been much worse.

Tartiest Pro Remix Palette - this was a splurge for me but I love it and am currently not allowing myself to buy anymore eyeshadow palettes. The colours are amazing and super pigmented and I find myself reaching for it time and time again. I really love how you can make so many different looks with the shadows and the different finishes add dimension too.

Skechers EZ Flex 3.0 Beautify - these shoes are some of the comfiest shoes I own. They provide great cushioning and decent support which I need with my ankle, are super lightweight and look good. I wore these when I was over east and spent a day walking around and my feet didn't hurt much at all (I did develop a blister but that's my fault as I hadn't worn them in, as I had only just got them). They are currently on sale too so well worth buying.

Stan (streaming service) - as  a Christmas present to myself I decided to get Stan to go along with my Netflix subscription. I love Disney Channel shows and DCOMS (Disney Channel Original Movies) and when I heard these were coming to Stan I was sold. It's been great to watch shows like Raven's Home, Andi Mack, and Jessie along with movies like Camp Rock and High School Musical. Stan also has shows like Friends, The Office, Parks and Rec and Community so I am sure between Netflix and Stan I will be sorted.

Oral B PRO 500 Cross Action Power Brush (pink) - I bought this toothbrush when it was half price and I really like it. It has great battery power, has a timer that tells you when to move onto the next area of your mouth after 30 seconds (you are meant to brush for 2 minutes) and fits great in my hand. I feel that my teeth and mouth are cleaner overall and so far it's good.

Summer reading - if you are after some Summer reading the following books are out now and both good reads (thanks to NetGalley for letting me read them):
Paper Girl by Cindy R Wilson - this book is a great read about anxiety, facing your fears and secrets. It was an easy read and one that surprised me in that there is more than meets the eye and it covers things that everyone should be able to relate to.
Who I am With You by Robin Lee Hatcher - I really enjoyed this book and loved the characters of Jessica and Ridley. It was a story about forgiveness and moving on beyond the past and focusing on the now.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Christmas Decorations

For the past 5 years I have made Christmas decorations, they take me hours of time, care and planning, I always make far to many and because of that I have a box filled with previous years decorations and I often think that when I finally move out of home my tree will be covered with them. I have just finished packaging up this years decorations and realised I hadn't shared on here about them. I dug out the previous years ones and couldn't believe just how many I had made and the work that had gone into them!

Gift giving is my love language and I love the idea of giving those in your life gifts but when I have many people in my life it isn't cost effective to purchase everyone meaningful gifts. I had the idea of buying Christmas decorations then I realised I could make them for a lot less and they would be personal as I had taken the time to make them. Of course I had to work out what to make and when I saw the clear plastic baubles you can purchase I had the idea to fill them with something but at $2 each it wasn't cost effective. I then realised that for $2.50 I could buy a pack of 5 glass bottles and fill them with something and it would be unique and different. 

2014 - this was my first year, I filled the bottle with star sequins and a note that had John 3:16 printed on it, these were designed to be taken out. I tied a candy cane charm (a sign of what was to come the following year?) with ribbon for hanging.
2015 - I did two variations of this decoration and they were inspired by an Etsy jewellery listing that had these as necklaces, when I showed my Mum she told me I could make them so the idea was started. I made the candy canes out of polymer clay which I did while watching TV. I originally just made the small candy canes but after I had made those decorations I had some clay leftover so I made the bigger candy canes and bought some more bottles. I glued the corks on so they couldn't be opened and cause a potential choking hazard for kids.
2016 - I made candy cane crosses out of polymer clay and included an angel or a star charm tied to the bottle with Christmas twine. I once again glued the cork on and I included paper stars and wrote "Love Erin" on them.
2017 - I twisted together gold, silver and bronze polymer clay and made crosses and then I made tiny candy canes out of clay. I found small gold bells in my local discount store and tied them on with Christmas twine, once again the corks were glued on. I remember making these decorations while watching the first season of  Greenhouse Academy on Netflix. 

2018 - I actually made these in June/July this year, I had a feeling that come November/December life would be busy (I was right!). I was able to buy the bottles off ebay instead of hunting them down in discount stores which saved me time and money. I decided to do a reverse of last year charms with a big candy cane and 3 small crosses out of polymer clay. I spent a night with a tiny funnel pouring 1/4 teaspoon of glitter in and then gluing the cork on. I was able to buy star charms off ebay and tied them to the bottle for an extra touch.

These bottles tell a story and it's fun each year to display them on our tree. I give them out to so many people and people now tell me they look forward to receiving them each year. They are unique decorations and you can't buy anything like them. I start thinking up the new ideas in February/March of each year. I have no idea when I will stop and I have even purchased next years bottles ready for an idea to take place of what they will be filled with. I know the right glue needed for the corks to stick and I buy the twine in the clearance sales (one roll of twine can last for ages too).
I hope when friends and family hang them on the tree they are reminded of the love and care I put into each decoration and that they made an impact on me that year.

Friday, December 7, 2018

ReachOut Mod Workshop Recap

Hard to believe that a week ago I was over east gearing up for my second ReachOut Mod Workshop, recap down below :)

It was a given I was going to stay on to be a forum moderator for ReachOut for another year and in order to
be one it meant attending another workshop on the other side of the country. This year's workshop wasn't as anxiety induced compared to last years and I had loads of fun catching up with old friends and making some new ones.
As I lived the furthest away in a completely different time zone I was able to get a red eye flight on Qantas and fly out on Thursday night at 11.15pm. I had tried to have a quietish week leading up to it and made sure to get a decent sleep the night before. The flight was booked out which meant I got to sit in the middle of the middle row and I kept waking up every hour or so during the 4 hour flight. They also served us food at 12.00am which was random!

I arrived at 6.25am (3 hours time difference) and raced to the bathroom to wash my face and do my make up so I could look a bit more awake. I then caught a cab to the hostel I was staying at and was able to stash my luggage there until check in later that afternoon. I messaged the forum staff letting them know I had arrived safely and decided to grab breakfast and do some exploring. I was fortunate to be staying at the same hostel I stayed at when I was over for ReachOut's 20th so I knew the area a little. I ended up grabbing breakfast at a 24 hour pancake place, it wasn't super busy so I was able to take my time and read my book. I ordered a chocolate vanilla surprise which was a vanilla pancake, chocolate pancake with ice cream and chocolate sauce, along with a Sprite because if I was going to get through the day I would need the sugar! I spent the morning wandering the alleyways, exploring different shops and checking out the street markets. I allowed myself to buy one thing I really loved under $50 so I bought a leaf necklace. It was an actual eucalyptus leaf that had been stripped down (to the skeleton) then coated in copper then sterling silver and I loved how unique it was. I then stopped for lunch and had a chicken, cheese and spinach gozleme from a food stall and sat down under some umbrellas set up in an alley way to enjoy it. 
I was due at the ReachOut office to help them set up at 3.00pm and I realised that I could catch a ferry from the harbour followed by a 15 minute walk which seemed liked fun. For someone who is from a smallish city it was super confusing but I eventually figured it out (I think I drove the guy crazy with all my questions though as I did not want to get lost)! It was great trip over and then I had to work out how get from the ferry to the office and google maps was not giving me clear instructions, I did work it out and got there with 10 minutes to spare.
I helped set up and said hi to the staff, many of whom chatted to me about the talk I gave on behalf of ReachOut on the 27th and passed on their congratulations. At 3.30pm three other mods (B, L and N) arrived, I'm really close to these mods and we have a group chat on Facebook so it was great to see them and spend some one on one time :)
Afterwards we caught a taxi back to the hostel and checked in, we decided to head out for dinner and ended up back at the 24 hour pancake place (it had other things on the menu too). I ended up ordering potato pancakes, with Mexican mince, salsa, guacamole and sour cream, which were interesting and the pancakes tasted a bit sweet. I would love to recreate them at home because while everything was nice it could've been better.
We then spent the night at the hostel talking, catching up and laughing before going to bed.
The next day we had to be at the ReachOut office by 9.00am so we caught a taxi and helped finish setting up. The other mods arrived at 9.30am/10.00am and it was great to see some returning faces along with a few new ones.

We made name tags and then started on the house keeping side of things, because my prac booklet required me to demonstrate a WHS practice and I had chosen sitting at your desk correctly, I was asked if I could do it at the workshop (because despite being signed off on this semester it was deemed a great idea and something the other mods should know about). I was actually given access to the presentation to add it in and not knowing all the house keeping things, I decided to take it into my own hands and under in case of a fire I wrote: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES. The staff were able to edit these presentations and despite it being a joke they left it in followed by what to actually do in case of a fire, it got a laugh and lightened the mood.
Then we had various sessions about how the forums work, setting boundaries and the returning mods got to help understand how the triage system works.
Afterwards we caught taxis back to the hostel, got into our rooms and got refreshed. We worked out dinner plans, with many choosing to stay in and those who wanted to heading out to explore the area, I ended up going out to get burgers with 3 other mods (B and two others) which was really nice and it was great to chat to them.
After dinner we walked back to the hostel and B and I decided to go out onto the terrace to take
photos. B is a super talented photographer and I had asked her prior to the workshop if she would consider taking some new photos for my blog (coming soon!). We had so much fun and it was great to laugh and watch her work her magic.
The next day after breakfast we headed back to the office for more sessions. I was actually doing a session in the afternoon on self care (I was actually working on this presentation during G Team to add to the craziness of the week!), which was fun and everyone really enjoyed it.
That night a group of us met with the old forum staff member who had left and it was great catching up with him. After a while B and I left the group to grab some gelato and just spend some time hanging out and chatting as we wanted some space and time to relax. We then headed back to the hostel and chatted some more before going to bed.
The next day we packed up our things, checked out and headed to the office. I was doing that day's ice breaker game and I ended up taking an activity I use at Youth Ambassador workshops, which is where people match up captions to memes (it's a simpler version of the What Do You Meme game). This went down really well and a lot of laughter was to be had.
We then took a quiz about our strengths and put our top five up on the board with our names and ranking. My top one was spirituality, followed by bravery and love and I can't remember my other two. We then discussed how these would work in with our work as moderators, it was a really interesting session :)
This year instead of stopping at lunchtime the workshop didn't stop until later in the afternoon, which meant we got to have lunch with the staff. I loved chatting to them all and was thrilled to finally meet
the new CEO, who is lovely and I can't wait to see where he leads ReachOut.

After a couple more sessions, we all caught taxis to the airport. Most of the flights left around 6.00pm (I didn't leave until 7.00pm) we grabbed an early dinner and hung out a bit before saying our goodbyes.
I flew Virgin on the way back and it was my first time flying with them, I wasn't expecting to get a meal on the flight but I did so I had a second dinner of pumpkin ravioli.  I also got a window seat which was nice especially considering I was in the middle of a middle row on the trip over! It was actually a longer flight on the way back so I was able to watch 2.5 movies (Tag, Crazy Rich Asians and half of Life of The Party) and the trip flew by.
I had a great time at the workshop this year and I can't wait to continue being a moderator and see where it leads me next. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Leavers/Prac Recap

I got home yesterday afternoon and I am exhausted but I also want to write down all my experiences
before I forget about them!
I will say that I actually didn't end up getting my hours signed off on because my lecturer had emailed me telling me it was pointless and to just enjoy the experience. I did attend the meetings for the other prac students just as it was nice to have the extra support and I was still technically a prac student.
I drove down on Saturday and arrived at the zone ready to help set up, all the main tents had been set up but there was still a lot of work to do. We had to roll carpets out the tents and help put up signs identifying exits and entry points. We did that for a couple of hours and then we headed to the resort where we were staying.
All the TAFE students roomed together among a few chalets (3 bedrooms each with 2 beds, a living/kitchen area and a bathroom/laundry, the master bedroom also had an ensuite) and this is where I felt isolated I have no doubt if I was rooming with different people my experiences would've been different. All the TAFE students were from another TAFE location and there wasn't a rivalry as such but more they wanted to challenge me on how my TAFE ran things. In their prac booklets they just had to get ticked off for experiences and do 'assignments' where as in mine I had to write down examples for and my whole book had what they called assignments in. I was also the only Christian in my chalet and the girls I was rooming with hadn't seen a real life Christian before (their words) so during the week I got asked a lot of questions about where I stood on controversial issues.
I also just didn't really connect with them all and despite how much I tried, it was a me and them. I felt that my concerns weren't heard, we only had 2 keys for the chalets and it would've been nice to rotate who had the keys as despite being told that they would make sure someone was always around who had a key, I was locked out a few times and had to get the resort staff to unlock the door for me. There was also only one parking pass and one of them decided it was theirs and that was that, so the rest of us had to park outside the resort a few hundred meters away. I also caught them talking behind my back a few times regarding my snoring (I warned them cause allergies) and other stuff. Once I realised that it was who I was rooming with was causing a lot of my anxieties I could let it go and I tried to hang out with other people and focus on building those relationships.
Moving on the next day we went back to the zone and continued to help set up, that afternoon the rest of the team arrived. At night we all went to nearby Baptist campsite and met with the other services for dinner. This was the G teams way of welcoming everyone and it was really fun night.
During the week my mornings were pretty much the same, after waking up, I just stayed in the chalet and read a book, answered emails or did some ReachOut work (I am giving a speech on Tuesday so I had to write that). I then would go to lunch and chat with different people and in the afternoon either participate in the activity that the G team would put on, attend the TAFE student meetings and just try to recharge before the night began.
At 3.30pm everyone was invited to meet on the tennis courts for some singing, devotion and prayer, this really helped me feel recharged spiritually and I looked forward to it everyday.
At 4.00pm everyone would meet and we would get into our groups for the night, you know how I broke my ankle earlier this year? Well guess what decided to make my life challenging, my ankle decided that standing on it all night wasn't the best idea so I had to find areas of the zone where I could sit down for some of the night. This wasn't great considering all areas required standing and I was thankful to have the TAFE student coordinator help me find a different area and negotiate me sitting for some of the night. I ended up doing First Aid on Monday and Wednesday nights - you just helped get people triaged and help those find their friends so I could sit down between those times, movie tent on Tuesday night - so in between stopping kids making out, picking up rubbish and putting different movies on I was able to sit down and on Thursday night the final night I did one of the silent discos - which was a lot of standing but I was also able to sit down when I was collecting and cleaning the headphones from the leavers and we rotated locations twice during the night.
After each night we cleaned up our areas before a quick debrief and were bussed back to the resort. Everyone in my chalet would stay and talk for an hour except for me who needed my sleep and was desperately requiring some self-care. Also the one time I stayed up tried to chat with them none of my opinions were acknowledged and one of the girls stormed off when I mentioned that the Headspace people at the zone were volunteers and not staff like she had thought (in her words I couldn't let her be right about something). We were encouraged to debrief with those in our chalets at the end of each night so instead I messaged some friends about my experiences and they would respond when they woke up a few hours later, so I did my version of debriefing in a way.
On the final night (Thursday) we were able to ride the rides at the zone which was fun and made the extended pack up time worth it. We rolled up the carpets in the tents and put them in skip bins and doing a thorough rubbish pick up. None of us went to bed until 4.00am which was super late especially as we had a checkout at 10.00am the next morning!
On Friday if we were able to we were encouraged to go to the zone to help with the final bits of pack up, I left there at 1.00pm before driving home. I ended up stopping twice - once at the rest stop RAC had set up for the leavers and other travellers where they were giving out refreshments and once to get fuel.

Highlights for me was making new friendships and just chatting to people whom I wouldn't normally chat to. There was a wide range of ages of those who were volunteering with the G team and it was great to see. I also ran into quite a few people who knew my parents or had known me when I was younger (one couple knew who I was as soon as I smiled which I found amusing). I also enjoyed getting such a wide range of experience with young people and knowing what first hand they could be like under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Anxiety wise I had a few starts of panic attacks and I will say not sleeping much did take its toll on me! I also felt really isolated in the chalet but I was fine when I was with other people, I did try not to feel isolated and have conversations with those in my chalet but it didn't work out. My ankle still being sore didn't help and I honestly didn't think it would cause me so many issues down there! I know that some people thought I was making my ankle up and by now it should be fine. The reality was I didn't know it was broken for 2 weeks then it was another 2 weeks before I got a moonboot and that delayed the healing (my doctor told me had I realised it was broken sooner it would've heal a lot quicker and I would have minimal long term issues), also everyone is different with injuries some heal quicker than others and unfortunately I heal slowly.

Things I learnt:
  • It's ok if you don't get along with people and sometimes it can't be helped, you just need to accept it and move on.
  • Anxiety sucks and it's ok if it rears it's ugly head as long as you push through it and don't run away.
  • Meeting new Christians (and people in general) is awesome and I am so proud to be a part of this huge family :)
  • It's (sometimes) good to get out of your comfort zone. 
  • Surround yourself with awesome people even if it's not in person and instead over Facebook or text message. Having that support is invaluable to helping you manage your anxiety and mental health in general. I loved being able to message my bible study group asking for prayer points and Facebook messaging my friends when I needed support, 
  • Be honest with people when it comes to your mental health. If you need space just say so, don't feel bad about putting yourself first.
  • Broken ankles take forever to heal and I am over my right ankle.
  • It doesn't matter what your age you can still stay up until 2.00am helping run an awesome zone.
  • You will come home to a sooky cat who needs cuddles and will follow you around because you left him for 6 nights.
  • Teenagers will do anything to sneak in drugs and alcohol to a drug and alcohol free event. I did know that one already but I have learnt their ways now. 
  • The correct amount of layers for the zone is five - single, long sleeved shirt, G team shirt, water resistant jacket and G team hoodie.
  • The zone is awesome and more states need to implement it.
Will I do it again next year? At the start of the week I just wanted it to be over, but then I started enjoying it and as of yesterday I think I will do it again next year. I also really want to get a group of young adults from church to come down with me and I'm trying to convince my sister too.

*Photo is me before my first night at the zone (wearing the fluoro vest to identify me as a first aid person) chilling in the movie tent before it all started! 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Prac and Prayer Points

So on Saturday I am off to prac for a week!

I have had a lot of questions asking what am doing for prac and what it involves. So this post is to explain what I am doing and what I would appreciate prayer for :)

What is it?
Every year thousands of high school leavers head to places to celebrate the end of their schooling and blow off some steam after the stress of exams. Unfortunately how they decide to celebrate can have serious consequences on themselves and the community. This is where the G Team comes in, they are contracted by the police to create a safe zone for the leavers to have fun and celebrate. Each year they build the zone in a paddock and set it up from scratch. The zone has many different areas include: silent discos, rides, chill out tents, movie tents and first aid. The first aid tent is fully equipped with hospital beds, registered nurses and doctors and I am told it is like an army hospital tent set up.

The zone operates from 7.00pm-1.00am Monday - Thursday night which is the duration of the end of school celebrations. During this time around 8000 leavers come through the zone, though the zone can handle up to 10000 graduates!

The G Team
I had heard about G Team and it's advertised in my church (and at the inter-church sports competition)  but I never had the courage to take the plunge and do it. Then this year I am studying community services and as soon as a couple of my friends (who do it every year) found out they told me I had to do G Team for my prac if I was able.
So once I had been accepted into the diploma, I took the plunge, signed up and proceeded to have a mini panic attack. That night I prayed to God that if it was meant to be that he would handle it all and help me not to feel so anxious about it.
Many TAFEs actually advertise the G Team as a way to do your prac hours and the G Team can have around 30 prac students doing their placements.
Due to my ReachOut work I was able to complete the prac booklet during the holidays using my moderating work to fill it out and my lecturer was so impressed by it that I am officially signed off and done with this semester. However as the G Team is an amazing experience I am still going down as a prac student and getting credit for the hours.

This is waaaay out of my comfort zone (read about why it is important here) and I have no idea how I will go with it, but I know that all things are possible with God. I am excited but anxious at the same time but as I keep reminding myself I feel excited and anxious about lots of things even events I attend yearly so it's totally fine.

I would love it if you guys could pray for me, the rest of the team and the leavers. I have broken up the prayer points into three sections:

Prayer points - for me:
  • I will travel safely. 
  • That my energy levels will stay consistent.
  • My anxiety will keep at bay and not affect me.
  • I will make friends and building long lasting relationships. 
  • I will walk away with new skills and opportunities.
  • I will survive the week and walk away in one piece.
Prayer points - for the team:
  • That everything will run smoothly.
  • That the team leaders will be supported.
  • For good health for all the team.
  • That there will be opportunities to share the light of God with the leavers.
  • That everyone will have a good time.
Prayer points - for the leavers:
  • That they will have a safe and fun time.
  • That they will arrive safely to their destinations.
  • That none of them will be seriously injured or require major medical care. 
  • That they be well behaved and not cause a negative impact on the community.
  • That there will no arrests or issues requiring the police.
I can't believe that after what has felt like so far away that prac is finally here and I have no doubt when I return I will be exhausted and have lots of stories to share! 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

2018 Christmas Gift Guide

Believe it or not I actually started writing this in October but then life got in the way and as I was determined to get this published before I went away on prac I spent much of this week typing away on it with (so not) cheesy hallmark and Netflix Christmas movies on in the background. I am proud to get this out and I hope it will inspire you :)

Also full disclosure I am one of those crazy people who has all their Christmas shopping done and wrapped in November (I also have a small Christmas tree up in my bedroom haha!) but that's just because I LOVE Christmas.

Christmas can be an expensive time and it can be hard to not go overboard before I launch into this years gift guide here are some ways you cut down on costs:
  • Write a detailed list of who you want to buy for along side an expected budget -  then once you have purchased the gift write down the actual cost and what you bought them (I use an excel spreadsheet for this). This is great way to keep yourself accountable while also not going overboard. 
  • Start shopping early - I actually started my Christmas shopping in September and gradually bought gifts on a week to week basis. This meant it wasn't a huge hit to my bank account and I could put thought and time into each gift. 
  • Online shopping is your friend - I swear by the book website Booko as it tells me the cheapest place (including shipping) to buy the book I want. I also take advantage of those 'online only' sales where possible.
  • Use the store reward programs - so many stores have different reward programs and you can great savings from them. If you're shopping for gifts you might as well be rewarded or get discounts.
  • Think outside the box - are you a crafty person? Can you paint amazing pictures? Put those skills to work and make people gifts. Do you have kids that love to paint? Give them a roll of butchers paper and paints in Christmas colours and let them go wild making wrapping paper. Sometimes the best gifts are those handmade!

Easy as 1, 2, 3 Gifts:
These are gifts that take a bit more effort to put together but are still easy, they are simpler version of a gift hamper and only require 3 items. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Movie night - grab a newish movie or an old classic, microwave popcorn and your favourite sweet treat. 
  • Pamper/self-care box - a bath bomb, a nice candle and a face mask.
  • Adventure box - a multitool/pocket knife, book of survival skills and a torch.
  • Games night - a pack of cards, a list of traditional card game instructions and a favourite snack will make for a night of family fun.
  • Puzzling time - a puzzle of some kind, word search/sudoku/crossword book and a pack of fun pens.
  • Beach day - beach ball, sunscreen/hat and some sort of sand toys.
  • Gardening - a pot, seeds and watering can. 
  • Cooking - apron, spatula, cute sprinkles.
For the kids:

General ideas:
  • Experiences - kids really don't need more stuff and experiences can help create lasting memories. Movies tickets, theme park passes, aquarium passes, zoo passes, ice skating rink passes … are all great ideas and will also keep the kids occupied during the holidays.
  • Art and craft kits - another thing to keep the kids occupied during the holidays and there are so many awesome craft kits for a range of skill levels.
  • Books - get the kids reading and pick a fun new book for them to read. 
  • Beach towels - you can never have too many towels and beach towels are great for Summer. 
  • Pyjamas - my grandma always used to buy me and my sisters PJs for Christmas and I still think they make a great gift. 
Away We Go Travel Journal - with a lot of people travelling over the festive season what better way than to record it all down in a cute journal from Smiggle? It also comes complete with stickers and a pen along with writing prompts and questions to help record all the important information. 

Kids Glitter Tumbler - kids are prone to spilling things and it can be hard to get them to drink water, but these tumblers make it fun.

Metallic Light Lantern - these lanterns are so fun and are a great addition to a room or prop for many make believe adventures.

Lush Fun mouldable soap - a great way to get the kids actually wanting to take a bath! This soap smells amazing, can be crafted into whatever shape they desire and will get them squeaky clean.

Silicone Laces: Rainbow - kid's are always wanting to take their shoes on and off and tying laces can be a hassle. These silicone laces mean you don't have to fiddle with the laces and give the kids some independence too.

Korimco soft toys - in June this year I was after a toy cat for a cat obsessed little girl and I was told that Korimco makes the best soft toys by a worker in a local toy store, they were not wrong! The cat I purchased was the softest fluffiest cat ever and is much loved. I know kids probably don't need more soft toys but if you are going to buy one look at Korimco.

For the adults:

General ideas:
  • Indoor plants - indoor plants are really in right now and they make great living décor. Pick a hardy plant like a succulent and you will be good to go.
  • 2018 diary/calendar - one of those things that everyone needs and will be used for the whole year.
  • Subscription to a streaming service - think Netflix, Spotify or Stan, something that they will use regularly and give them a chance to unwind.
  • Battery pack - if you're one of those people whose phones often run out of battery a battery pack will be a great useful gift.
  • Tickets to something fun - movie tickets, concert tickets, tickets to an exhibit, sports games, whatever they are interested in. 

Roamer Roll Up Picnic Rug - I have a Kathmandu picnic rug and I love it. The quality is amazing and it's great to keep in my car, everyone always compliments me on it to and wants to know where to buy one. 

Rope Quoits - this is an old school outdoor game that's fun for the young and old. I used to play this growing up and my mum bought a set a few years ago that get's brought out when people are over. 

BBQ Multi Tool - perfect for the king (or queen) of the BBQ and with Summer about to start this tool will get a lot of use.

Lush Christmas range - this range is always popular and there is something for everyone. With festive scents 

Kobo Forma 8" eReader -  I'm including this on the list as this is what I want for Christmas :) I know the price is steep but Kobo's are the best e-readers in my opinion and this one takes them to a whole new level. I use mine daily and are rarely without it and while I don't need to upgrade mine (it's still going strong) it would be nice.

Funemployed (game) - this game is hilarious and whenever I play it with friends it ends in tears of laughter. There's a job and job characteristics and players have to justify to one player why they think they are the best for the job. The jobs can be anything from lawyer to pirate to the bachelor and the characteristics are just as fun; knife skills, fluffy, French accent (in that case the player should talk with said accent) etc. 

Hive (game) Pocket Travel Size - another game but this a great one if you want something with strategic thinking, it's similar to chess but simpler to play and without a board. The aim is to surround the other opponents queen bee. This set is a great size for traveling and everyday play, the tiles are great quality and just feel nice. 

Light Box - these are great décor items and you can change up the words to suit whatever mood your in. I use mine to write celebration messages, inspirational quotes and use them at ReachOut stalls. 

Cooler Bag - I bought a cooler bag on impulse a couple of years ago and I get a lot of use out of it. It
doesn't take up much space but it can carry a lot and is perfect for picnics and for when you need to keep things cold. 

Stila 3D Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow - it's the season for sparkles and this gift set is perfect for the person in your life who loves glitter. It contains 3 deluxe sample sizes of Kitten Karma, Perlina and Golden Girl. I say from experience that once on they do not budge and I refuse to use any other glitter eyeshadow.

Kikki K Gift Sets - rather than just link you to just one, I thought I would link you to them all. I love Kikki K and these gifts sets are beautifully packaged and great value. Anyone would be thrilled to unwrap them under the tree on Christmas. 

Tartiest PRO Amazonian clay palette - this is one of my favourite palettes and a must have for any make up lover. The quality is amazing and you can create so many looks with the shades. Tarte has also just released a Remix version of the palette which looks so fun and is great for those who want some colour.

Insulated mental drink bottle - these are really popular at the moment and I love how they keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. 

Dusk Candles - candles are such a go-to gift for those hard to buy people and I love Dusk's range and variety. Their 8 pack soy sampler makes a great gift and it means they can find their favourite scent before committing to a bigger size (I am partial to the watermelon lemonade and raspberry rosewater scents). 

Google Chromecast - this gadget is amazing and can turn any TV into a smart TV. You also don't any special apps or software to use it.

Sunnylife See Thru Pouch - These pouches are cute and practical, I got one last year for Christmas and I use it often. I have used mine to store my phone and keys when I go to the beach or pool and as makeup bag. 
Places to find fun gifts:

  • Sunnylife - I love their ranges and they are home of the extremely popular fun pool floats. All their products are great quality and perfect for Summer.
  • Tarte - one of my favourite make up brands and their limited edition gift range looks amazing and is great value to.
  • Mecca - I could spend so much here and I am loving all the makeup gift sets.
  • Smiggle - kids and kids at heart love Smiggle and the stationary and products are really fun. From pens and pencils to keyrings to craft kids there is something for every kid and their interests.
  • The Giving Keys - when you buy a key you help a person get out of homelessness. I love the model of this business and the keys are beautiful. 
  • Hard to Find - this website has a load of items from personalised to the unique and different. It's a great place to get ideas and find presents for those people who are impossible to buy for. 
As always remember that Jesus is reason for the season and the greatest gift of all and to you get you in the festive spirit here are two favourite Christmas songs of mine:

Previous years gift guides: 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014.

***I am also linking up with Brittany and Jessi

Friday, November 9, 2018

Five Friday Favourites

It's hard to believe in just over a week I will be on prac, I am praying that it goes smoothly and am starting to look forward to it (kinda).
I am almost finished my Christmas shopping, I just need to buy one more thing (which I will probably grab on Wednesday) and I am done! I have also wrapped up everything to, you are probably thinking that I am crazy but November/December are shaping up to be busy times for me.
This weekend is quiet-ish with tomorrow a safe church workshop for all volunteers at church in the morning and a baptism service tomorrow night being the only things on the agenda. It will be my last night at church for four weeks as due to prac, then a trip over east and a cousin's wedding I am unable to go which will be weird and I feel a bit guilty that I am missing so many weeks despite not being able to help it!

Onto Friday favourites:

Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray - I never thought I would be one of those people who spends $50 on setting spray, I mean surely the brands you can buy at Priceline are just as good right? But after trying quite a few and not getting great results, my sister gave me a travel size of this cult favourite setting spray and I am loving it. My make up will not budge and I have worn this in the middle of the city wearing all black feeling like I was melting. It's well worth it and I doubt I will be using anything else, also as part of the Christmas range at Mecca you can buy a two pack for $78 which is a great deal.

STILA Shimmering Heights Shimmer and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow Set - I love Stila's glitter eye shadows they do not budge are the pigment is amazing, so I thought it was time to try their shimmer eye shadows. The shadow's are super pigmented and the staying power is great, I love how you get three colours to try and they are super easy to apply. I have a feeling I may be splurging on a full size one in the future.

Naomi A line Skirt - I have had trouble finding denim skirts and find that they can be to figure hugging which isn't what I like. I can safely say I have found a skirt that looks great on me and ticks all the boxes! I did find I had to go up a size to get the fit I wanted but it's well worth it and I have no doubt I will be living it once it starts to warm up.

Metal Star Wreath - I love Christmas time and seeing all the sparkly decorations. I try to limit myself to what I buy and only buy things I really love and are classic. This wreath fits the bill and I love it, it's the perfect addition to the metal star decorations I bought last year. What I also love about it is that you can dress it up each year depending on your colour scheme and style preferences. I like the suggestions of using greenery but you could also tie ribbons, attach small decorations or use it to help display Christmas cards.

Five Feet Apart movie trailer - in high school I read a biography about a teenager who had Cystic Fibrosis and it opened up my eyes to what people who have it go through. Five Feet Apart is about two teenagers who have Cystic Fibrosis but due to catching each others bacteria have to stay five feet apart at all times. The trailer looks really good and I am looking forward to seeing the movie next year.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Things I am thankful for

I have this calendar that has strips of paper every day I write down what I am thankful for and put it in a corresponding envelope for that month. I'm not good at doing it every day so I tend to do a weeks worth at once haha! But today was a weird day and I thought it would be good to list what I am thankful for:
  • I'm thankful for the group chat between me and 3 friends who I have made through the ReachOut moderator program. Our group chat is hilarious and I am honoured to call these crazy awesome people my friends :)
  • I'm thankful that my anxiety is lessening about my prac in 2.5 weeks.
  • I'm thankful for getting rejected from the Christmas casual position, even though I was almost certain I would get it and I have a lot of questions regarding it. I know it wasn't meant to be and I have faith that God will provide me with the perfect job at the right time.
  • I am thankful for Maltesers that dull the pain of not getting the Christmas casual position. 
  • I am thankful that I can see the good during the hard times.
  • I am thankful that I am on break and I can recharge before the Christmas season starts.
  • I'm thankful that I am almost recovered from this cold and I've stopped sneezing finally!
  • I am thankful for the opportunity to attend a drug and alcohol workshop on Monday and that it was invaluable.
  • I'm thankful that God lead me into Community Services and that I know he has a plan for me regarding what I am learning.
  • I am thankful that I am starting to push myself more out of my comfort zone and I am seeing results. 
  • I am thankful for quiet nights, spent with the cats and bird.
  • I am thankful for this sense of peace I have that God is in control of my future.
  • I am thankful for The Afters new song - Fear No More and how it helps put my anxieties at ease.
  • I'm thankful for opportunities to share my story with anxiety and that I am speaking at a panel on behalf of ReachOut in just under 4 weeks. 
  • I am thankful for a sister who helps me reorganise my room and isn't afraid to force me to throw out/donate stuff. 
  • I am thankful for so much!
Even if you aren't having a weird day I encourage you to write down what you are thankful for, I guarantee you will feel amazing :) 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Five Friday Favourites

I am finally finished with class for this semester! I am also finished with my prac booklet and all I need to do is complete my hours and email it in to my lecturer and I am done. One semester done one to go! 
I have 3 weeks of "break" which while I'll try to relax in, I also have a list of things to do and things I want to achieve before I go away for prac. I have my prac induction tomorrow and then on Monday I have a drug and alcohol workshop which while isn't essential to attend it is highly recommended and I have no doubt it will be worth while.

I should hear back regarding the two interviews I had last week next week and I have no idea what the results will be but I am giving it all to God and trying to stay busy.

Moving onto Friday favourites:

Kenzie Curve Bermuda Short - during winter I live in Jeanswest jeans and tops, during Summer I live in Jeanswest shorts and tops. On Wednesday I finished class at 11.30 and instead of going home, I decided to do some retail therapy and I ended up in Jeanswest as I needed another pair of Summer shorts. Short shopping can be a headache at times and I always find that no matter how many different pairs I try on I always end back at denim shorts, thankfully Jeanswest does curve style denim shorts and as someone who has a bit of a stomach this style is perfect for me. Last season I bought a dark pair of curve shorts so this season it was time for a lighter pair. 

Angelina Tech Tote Bag - I have been using canvas bags to carry my TAFE folders in but I decided to keep an eye out for a nice professional looking bag to use. I came across the Angelina Tech Tote Bag (I bought it in Navy which unavailable online) at Colette on Wednesday (just when I won't be needing one for a while!) when I was browsing and the price was right and the style is really classic. What I like about it is that it includes a laptop bag that can be removed if you need the space, so it's not built in. I also liked the fact that it was 30% off and if you sign up to be a member you get a $10 voucher which I used, that took the price down to under $50 which was a great price. 

Manifest (TV show) - I was sceptical about this show but I'm really enjoying it and my mum is also hooked on it, so it's nice to have someone to discuss it with. The concept is really interesting - a plane disappears for 5 years and returns with the passengers unharmed and they haven't aged. They have to fit back into their lives when to them nothing has changed but to the rest of the world 5 years have passed. It's just been picked up for a full season so I am interested to see where it goes.

Royally in Trouble by Jenny B Jones - this book is on my to read list and I am looking forward to reading it. I love Jenny B Jones she is one of my favourite authors and I reread her books yearly. The blurb reads:
If an ex-popstar-turned-event-planner can't find a Ren-faire killer, she may not survive the final act.

As a former member of a popular girl-band, Paisley Sutton knows what it means to be in the spotlight. So after she takes on an event-planning gig for the new Sugar Creek Renaissance faire, she's counting on a smooth opening night. But when one of the cast is murdered, Paisley knows her event has gone lethally off-script. 
When her handsome old friend Beau is named the prime suspect, Paisley enlists the help of her trigger-happy ex-CIA grandmother and aunt. As she tries to keep the faire alive and fights off her matchmaking family, she uncovers secrets that might just get her killed. Can Paisley shine a light on the killer in time, or will this faire be her final curtain call?

Royally in Trouble is the second book in the lively Enchanted Events cozy mystery series with a dash of romance. If you like engaging characters, small-town intrigue, and laugh-out-loud moments, then you’ll love Jenny B. Jones’ Renaissance romp. 
It's safe to say that I am looking forward to reading this book and I have no doubt it will be amazing. 

Fear No More by The Afters - I love every song by The Afters and as someone who suffers from anxiety their new song is just what I needed and well worth a listen. It's just a great reminder to trust in God and cast all your fears onto him. Their new album is also due to be released next month and I have pre-ordered it on iTunes and can't wait to listen to it.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Job Interviews Recap

Sometimes I question what on earth God is doing with my life because just when things can't get busier he decides to pull not one but two rabbits out of hat. I can't remember if there ever was a time when I had two job interviews in one week let alone two within 3 days. Did I mention that both these interviews happened to be during a week where I had 4 assignments due, talk about busy!

Monday afternoon I had a job interview with Mission Australia, this was my first ever community services related job interview and I had no idea what I should wear and what to expect. I ended up settling on my go to interview outfit of black pants, a top that wouldn't be out of place in an office and black flats, I almost wore heels but my ankle had been acting up so I decided to skip them. I arrived at the office 20 minutes early and decided to go for a walk just to calm my nerves and look around at the area as I was unfamiliar with it (despite it being 5 minutes down from my psych's office), I arrived 10 minutes early and gave my name to the receptionist and took a seat. I decided to do some forum moderating while I was waiting and I wanted to see how a few users were going while they were on my mind.
Eventually it was time for the interview, a lot of the questions were case studies - how I would go in this situation, how do you handle  this and that. Not at all the questions I was used to answering when I was applying for admin jobs! While I think I did ok I have no idea how I went and whether they feel I am right for the job or not. I find out in about a week and I am just praying about it and knowing that whatever happens God is in control.

Wednesday I went to class as usual before coming home for lunch and getting ready for the group interview for the Christmas casual position. I was told to wear all black so I wore black jeans, flats and a nice top, of course the one time I had tow wear all black was on the first 30 degree day of the season that required me to go into the city.
I was able to talk my sister into giving me a lift to the train station which was good, and spent some time wandering around the city, doing some window shopping before hand. The interview was at the library near the art gallery so I grabbed a sprite and ended up sitting near the frog pond tucked away next to the art gallery. I was able read my book and just relax, before I went to the library and made my way upstairs to where the interview was.
I had a vauge idea of what to expect as I had asked the workers in my local store (which I visit weekly and know me) which helped put my anxieties at ease. We were given a badge with out name on and walked into the interview room, where a photo of us was taken and we handed in our resumes. It turned out that one of the people who was doing the interviews was the store manager of my local store, which really helped as I knew her (yes I visit so much I know the store manager and workers!). We sat down and chatted to the people next to us before introducing them to the group (there was about 20 of us), I soon realised that I was probably the oldest in the group which was crazy!
The rest of the interview required us in 2 groups to talk about good customer service and sell a product.
Again I honestly don't know how I went especially as there was probably another 4 group interviews happening that day!

Since the interviews, I have been praying like crazy and reminding myself that whatever happens God is in control and I know if a job is meant to be he will make it happen.