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.