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• TIME • TO • PAR-TEA •

We recently celebrated my daughter’s birthday and as usual I had lots of fun pulling all the details together.
Traditionally we have always had quite a big party for her birthday, however this year we decided to go a bit more low-key and so she asked to have her closest friends over for a little tea party, and then our family over for dinner.

Well I when I saw low-key I guess my daughter summed it up best, as one day I was showing her the lace fans I’d found for her friends to have as a gift at the party she looked at me and said “Gee Mumma, I love you but you really just can’t do a little party can you?!” haha…!!
She’s pretty spot on, I just can’t help myself! I get caught up in the details and find myself swept away in coordinating tablecloths with teacups and searching out fake pearl necklaces in op-shops.

Over the years I have had my fair share of other people who have little digs at me about being too over the top, or doing too much for her birthday and I’ve had to learn to brush it off. The truth is that there are very few people in this world that could ever understand what her birthday means to me and why it is so important to us that we celebrate it as big as we do every year, and I’m ok with that.

For me all birthdays are special, they are a chance to celebrate the people in your life that you love. Making cards, giving gifts, blowing up balloons, having a special lunch, eating a slice of your favourite cake – you should do whatever it is that makes you happy and celebrate in a way that feels right for you and your family. I think the biggest motivator for me is seeing her face light up when she sees everything come together, we are raising a very appreciative, grateful little soul and she knows exactly what goes into making her day so special and thanks me a million times for all my effort – so that definitely fills up my heart.

I’ve included some pictures of my daughter’s latest birthday party below to hopefully provide a little inspiration if you’re ever looking to do a tea party (you can click on the images to enlarge them). I put together all the details my self, and thought you might like to know some hints and tips on how it all came together;

• The beautiful bunting was made by a friend of mine for another event and she was kind enough to let me borrow it for my daughters party decorations. She is so clever that to make this she purchased old sheets in the patterns she was after from Ops Shops and tore them into strips. She then spent (many hours!) knotting them onto some lovely twine and they turned into the amazing hanging masterpiece you see in the photos.

• The cups, saucers and teapots were all sourced over time from Op Shops, Salvo Stores etc. and were all generally between $3 – $6 each.

• The balloons were purchased off ebay to match my theme and were much more affordable than balloons I’d seen in the party shops, then I had them blown up at Big W. They will blow up balloons that are not purchased there, you just need to sign a waiver to say that if they’re inferior quality and pop they are not responsible.

• The tablecloth was just a plain white one I had, then I grabbed a lace curtain from the Op Shop for $2, gave it a wash and cut it in half to go over the square table.

• Each of the pearl necklaces were also found at the Salvo’s store and were $1 each. I only needed a couple to add to the theme I was going for.

• I found the cute lace fans at our local $2 shop for $1.50 each and though that they were so sweet and would make a lovely gift for the girls attending the tea party.

• The amazing cake and cookies were made by a colleague of my hubby’s who is sooooo clever and talented, so I can take no credit for them at all! haha

• The tea cup lolly treats are simply a marshmallow stuck onto a tic-toc biscuit, then with a freckle stuck onto the marshmallow. You then cut a musk lifesaver in half and stick that on the side of the marshmallow for the handle. To ‘stick’ each element together you simply mix some icing sugar and water until it’s a paste like consistency.

• The wooden No 7 was from our local $2 shop and we decorated it by tracing the letter onto some pretty paper in our colour theme, and then sticking it on and decorating it with stickers.

• The cupcakes were made by me, and the little flowers on top were pre-made icing flowers purchased from Woolies in the cake decorating section. They were so easy to make and tasted amazing (chocolate fudge! Yum!)

• The marshmallows were stuck on paper straws to make them look more fun, and also were then used by the kids for their drinks.

• The candle holders were items that I already had around the home, so I was able to use these as part of the decorations.

• The napkins were also found in our local $2 shop. They had a large selection of napkins and looking through the box I found these gorgeous ones which were right on theme for us!

Hope that these little snippets of information help to give you a few ideas on how you can use items in your local Op shops to help bring together lots of little elements to create an overall party theme that you’re looking for.

Now of course if your birthdays consist of no decorations or party at all, that’s completely fine too! Everyone should do what makes them happy, and if yours happens to be a par-TEA like our last one was then I hope you’ve found some inspiration here.

Much love,
Stacey 💜 xx

• T H E • U N S P O K E N • G O O D B Y E •

A few months ago I received some truly awful news that one of my friends had died. The first emotions I experienced were shock, sadness and confusion at her passing away at such a young age when she was vibrant, fit and healthy… then the next piece of news came – her life was taken in a truly violent and gut wrenching way by somebody that was supposed to love and protect her.

My first reaction was sickness, that awful, physical reaction of stomach-churning nausea that creeps up on you as you try to process the news that you have been given. Then I moved into trying to make sense of it, asking a million questions and trying to obtain answers that deep down I knew would never actually eventuate, and even if they did, they wouldn’t change the outcome or bring my beautiful friend back.  Finally, I moved into deep sadness and empathy for her family and close friends as I had somewhat of an understanding of the pain that they would be feeling and I knew that there was nothing that anybody could do to ease their pain. I felt helpless.

With any sort of death there is the obvious pain and sadness that we experience over the loss of somebody that we loved or cared for regardless of their age, health or circumstances.
Then there is all the extra baggage that comes with losing somebody in an unexpected and traumatic way. It’s like a whole other layer of very deep emotions such as pain, confusion, anger, despair and hopelessness that you go through that nobody truly understands unless you have experienced it yourself. 

I am a very strong empath and it doesn’t take much for me to connect with the feelings of others, however in this particular circumstance I felt like I was reliving my own story all over again, for I lost my own father in very traumatic circumstances and thinking of my friends parents, sister, sister-in-law, family and friends transported me right back in the middle of my own memories.

When you first hear the devastating news of an unexpected death of someone you love it is an immediate gut punch, a sickening disbelief, your mind then sends you into denial, and then quite often it’s straight into pure shock and paralysing fear that this news may actually be true. It’s so hard to actually get your head around the fact that this person that you love so much and spent your life with is not there anymore. Physically they may still be here, but their soul and spirit has begun the journey to its next destination and there is nothing you can do to bring it back, and no goodbye that they will ever hear.

Then you move from the shock and devastation of your traumatic loss into realising that you now need to share this news with other people that loved them as much as you did, and to be honest with you for me it was nearly as painful as hearing the news myself. 

I remember having to make the calls to tell people of my Dad‘s passing.

I sat on the front porch of my family home staring at my phone, staring at the name of the person who I loved and who I had to call, knowing that my phone call was going to change their life.
It was such an overwhelming experience knowing that I had to share with them news that was going to devastate, traumatise and damage them for ever.
I remember so clearly looking down at the phone in my hand, it was shaking so badly I thought I might drop it, my eyes were so full of tears I could hardly see, my breath was laboured and shallow and I was fighting with my stomach not to vomit. Once I finally pushed through the pain and fear and dialled their number I remember hearing the ringing on the line, stifling the urge to hang up and pretend it was all a dream and willing myself to be strong in this moment.
I needed them to answer because I needed them to know, but in all honesty I didn’t want them to answer because I didn’t want to have to tell them of the news and make it real. 

The voice that answers on the end of the phone is always a happy one because they think you’re ringing just to check in and say hi, catch up on what’s going on and have a chat but then they hear your voice and they know somethings wrong and then panic sets in for them. In that moment my  emotions begin once again bubbling up to the surface ready to explode, but I know that I have to control them because if I break down with no explanation on the phone they’ll be sent into a panic thinking the worst and not knowing who it’s concerning. Somehow I mustered the strength to share the lifechanging news that my father had passed away, and then having to follow that information with the sentence that will forever haunt me “he took his own life”.

I remember clearly hearing the words coming out of my mouth and actually having a bit of an out of body experience that even though I was saying these words was this actually even my reality, had this actually even happened to me, to my family? Then another wave of pain comes as you hear the people that you love break down, cry, question everything and you have to try to be a source of support to them in your own pain. Then once you finally disconnect the phone from them, you look at the next person in your phone and know you have to go through that all over again.

These moments have been playing through my head over and over during the last few weeks since my beautiful friend’s passing. Although her circumstances are very different to my Dad’s, it takes me back to that same trauma, the shock, the disbelief and then realising that you will never be able to say goodbye. Sometimes for me the unspoken goodbye is the hardest part.

I can’t stop thinking about her family having to tell everyone what happened to her, having to relive the horror of the way that she passed from this world, having to support their friends and family whilst trying to deal with their own crippling grief. There is something truly life altering about someone you love passing in tragic and unexpected circumstances. It changes you forever, it changes who you are as a person and it changes the make-up of your soul, for a piece of it goes with them when they leave you.

The road through grief is a long winding hilly, bumpy, complicated and challenging path to walk and it is so different for everyone. As somebody who has walked on this particular road for the last six years and continue to walk this path every single day of my life, what I can tell you is that it truly is a journey and I am committed to sharing my particular journey with you all in the hopes that there is some small speck of support, understanding or comfort that you may find in my words.

To my gorgeous friend’s family – my heart is with you all. I do not fully understand what you are experiencing, however I want you all to know that what I do understand that it is in the worst times of your life that you also get to see the best in humanity. Grab onto everyone that is there for you, accept every single tiny piece of support that you feel will help you survive for now. Sometimes just surviving a day at a time is the best that we can do, and that is ok.

This is only a small sliver of my experience and I share it as a way for me to share my story and continue to heal from my own trauma, and also to hopefully reach even one person that may need to hear that it’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to be broken, scared, afraid and terrified of the future after you experience a life altering trauma. There will be a rainbow on the other side of the rain, it may take weeks, months, years or decades, but I promise with the right people around you, investment into healing yourself and working through your pain you can lead a happy life again and honour those that have passed in the best possible way – by living your best life in their memory.

Much love,
Stacey 💜 xx

If anyone feels that this blog post has bought up feelings that you are not sure how to deal with, please reach out to LifeLine on 13 11 14.

• H E A R T S • D A Y •

It’s creeping closer… you can feel the air begin to change, all of a sudden there are roses for sale everywhere, soft teddy bears holding hearts in store windows, cards declaring love for sale in every shop and you realise it’s nearly here…. Valentines Day…. or as my daughter likes to call it ‘Hearts Day’.

Cue the grumps! Here they come…

“It’s a greeting card marketing ploy”

“What a crock, its’ a day for suckers who want to pay $100 bucks for flowers”

“I’m not spending that much on a card!”

“Every day is Valentines Day when you’re with me, I don’t need a special day”

Blah, blah, blah…. *eye-roll*

Well I can tell you now that when these people (my own husband included…) pop out of the woodwork and give me any of the lines above I’m quick to shut them down! Why… because I LOOOOOOOOVE VALENTINES DAY!!

Uha – I know, I know, it’s really not a surprise to those that know me, as I’m a sucker for anything related to love but it truly is the BEST day and if you will indulge me for one more minute, I’d love to tell you why it’s so special to me.

Valentines Day to me isn’t about the roses, teddy bears, chocolates and all the other commercial things. It’s about a chance to remind people in your life how much you love them!

Every Valentines Day I make an extra effort to message, call or tell my family and friends in person and tell them just how much they mean to me. I tell them all the things that I love about them and how special they are in my life.

On Valentines Day I always have a card for my little one as well as some sort of teddy bear (yes I’m a sucker…) and we all have a special breakfast together, which is a luxury that we never really indulge in as life’s so busy most days we don’t have the time we’d like to connect in the mornings.

I always make her a special lunch for Valentines Day too, something as simple as a heart cookie cutter can turn a sandwich and some fruit into gorgeous little surprise hearts and it honestly doesn’t take too much effort!

Now before you all think that I’m sprouting off about Hearts Day because I’m showered with love on the day, please let me correct you as that couldn’t be further from the truth. My hubby is not a fan of the day at all, never has been and probably never will be!
It’s taken me 17+ years of us being together to get him to understand how important it is to me that he makes the effort to at least get me a card, which thankfully he does, even under sufferance. hehe
I don’t care if it’s from the $2 shop or if it says Happy Birthday on it to be honest – all that I want is some time put into writing a message in there.

It will probably surprise nobody that knows me to know that I still have every single card that I’ve been given over the years from special people in my life. The beautiful energy that is in someone’s handwriting is priceless to me, as is the messages they carry.

Now I of course wouldn’t object to a massive bunch of roses, or a romantic weekend away but if a card and an ‘I love you’ is all I get then I’ll be a happy girl.

So my request to you all ahead of Valentines Day this week is to please not pass it off as ‘a commercialised money waster’ and actually see it for what it is – it’s an opportunity to tell those in your life how much you love them and to do something special for them.

Perhaps you can cook your loved ones favourite meal, send a text to a friend, family member or partner telling them why you appreciate them, put a surprise note in a lunch that you prepare or go for a nice walk around your neighbourhood at sunset with someone you love.

Whatever you do doesn’t have to cost money, only your time and effort.

C’mon… make someone’s day a little brighter by being the light in it.

Lots of love, hearts and fluffy stuff,

Stacey 💜 xx

• G R A T I T U D E • A N D • G R O W T H •

This morning I attended my daughter’s final school assembly for 2018, and it was such a surreal feeling.

I remember sitting in her very first assembly at the start of this year, watching her with pride as she walked in with her class. All of the little munchkins in their brand new school uniforms, with giant jumpers and dresses down to their shins. They were all so excited and nervous for what the first year of school held for them all.

As I look back at this year, I can clearly see how much my little one has grown. She has physically grown (nearly two clothing sizes!!) but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually she has taken giant leaps. It has been a very challenging year for me too, I had to adjust to letting my baby out of my grasp and allow her the space and support that she needed to thrive without me by her side every step of the way.

There were times this year that she cried many tears, as she navigated new friendships, learnt that she cannot always be the best at everything and had to work hard at some things that didn’t come easy to her. One of the biggest challenges that I faced was watching her experience pain that I couldn’t ‘fix’ and trying to balance up whether I needed to let her fall so that she could pick herself up, or whether I needed to step and in and protect her.
I can promise you that for every tear she shed over this year, there was at least double that I shed once she was safely tucked up in bed for the night.

Parenting is the most amazing, terrifying, rewarding, raw, emotional journey you can experience and none of us have any idea what we are doing. We all try our very best to love and protect our children in the best way that we know how, and we are all doing an amazing job.

Upon reflecting on her journey this year, I realise have watched my little one learn some hard lessons about friendship, courage, confidence and love. Throughout every challenge that she faced, she had an amazing tribe behind her ready to step in should she need it. Lucky for me, all the work that we have done together this year through our Kinesiology sessions and positive affirmations has meant that she is leaving her first year at school a much more confident and strong girl than she walked in as.

I know that we have many, many more years ahead of heartache and tears and if I’m being honest the future absolutely terrifies me at times as I know it can be so full of hate and awful behaviour, however before I spiral into another anxiety attack I now choose to look at the glass as half full and embrace the amazing parts of this life that we are living.

I am so very grateful for the challenges she has faced this year, for without them she wouldn’t have the resilience and confidence that she has now.
I am grateful for the challenges she has faced with her friendships, as it has shown her how to value and appreciate a true friend.
I am grateful for the times that she didn’t succeed, as it has shown her how sweet victory tastes when you work hard for it.
I am grateful for the tears she has shed, as she was able to do that within the safety of my arms.
I am grateful for the pain that I have experienced this year watching her struggle, as it has meant that I had to dig deep and surprise myself with my strength and resilience at the times that it mattered the most.

Most of all I am grateful for the opportunity to have this amazing, big-hearted, gentle soul of a daughter who has given me the greatest gift of watching her blossom and grow during her first year of school.

Much love,
Stacey xx

• E M P A T H Y •

Noun: empathy

‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I have been thinking a lot about the word empathy, how the word’s meaning has changed for me over the years and where it fits in our modern world.

Since I can remember, I have been an extremely strong Empath. I have always been able to ‘feel’ what others are feeling and connect with their emotions so strongly it feels as though it is happening to me too.

Over the years I have been attacked over having this quality in such a high degree. I have was accused when I was younger of being a ‘drama queen’ who is trying to put the attention on herself.
I was accused of being ‘over-sensative’ and needing to ‘relax’ and most of all to stop ‘taking everything to heart’.

To say that those words hurt me would be an understatement. I did not understand why I felt so strongly connected to those around me. It made me so sad. I hated that quality about myself. Why couldn’t I just have a ‘thick skin’ and let things just happen as they happen in life and not get so bogged down by other people’s issues? I tried so very hard to distance myself from this particular character trait but I had no idea how to do so…. how do you stop caring about people? How do you stop feeling everything so intensely? All I wanted was to be carefree and happy and not feel everything so deeply.

I clearly remember being sat down by my parents when I was in primary school and them explaining to me that I was a beautiful, caring soul and that was a wonderful trait, however if I didn’t work on protecting myself and my heart I would constantly be hurt.
My Mum worked with me a lot on how to embrace who I was, and love myself and my Dad worked a lot with me on toughening me up so that I wouldn’t be broken in this harsh world.

Unfortunately as much as they tried, it just didn’t reach me. I’m not sure if it was the timing or other factors but ultimately they were right, no matter how hard I tried I always had my heart broken.
My best friends would turn on me, my relationships would brake up, some girl on the netball team didn’t like me, someone would start a rumour about me… the list goes on and on… it didn’t matter the circumstance, every hard life challenge nearly broke me because I felt it so deeply and severely.
The worst part about being an empath means that it’s not just your own pain that you feel at that deep level… it’s everyone else’s too. If someone I knew would have something happen to them I would feel their pain, their loss, their sadness just as much as they would. I desperately wanted to fix things for everyone around me. I wanted everyone to be happy, to get along and to stop hurting.

I have had so many things happen to me, particularly in my adult life (which I’m sure I’ll venture into in future blogs) but I found that the saying is true. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
This is true for me.
I have been through some horrific experiences, that I thought were going to break me, but you know what? They didn’t.
I decided that I wouldn’t be beaten, so I got up and got myself some help. I decided that ultimately life is good. It is a miracle which we are all blessed to be a part of.
Yes I have had some awful things happen to me, but I have equally had some amazing things happen to me also.

Throughout my journey of helping myself through some very difficult times I started seeing a therapist. She is the most amazing woman, and has helped me so very much. I have been seeing her for years now and I think the best thing that she ever helped me realise was that my ability to empathise with people is what makes me special. Yes I needed to work on building some boundaries for myself and my own protection, however I am proud of who I am and how far I’ve come.

I’m not a drama queen, I don’t need a thicker skin and I am not ashamed of my deep emotions. They are what makes me different and they make me love people in my life on a deeper level as I feel so very connected to them.

So perhaps I am the person who cries in a movie, as I forget it’s a movie and I put myself in the characters positions and feel all their emotions.

Perhaps I am the person who cannot watch any news, as I feel so deeply for the victims of crime that I have nightmares and cannot sleep for days thinking about what they are going through.

And perhaps I am the person who has panic attacks, as I worry so much about everyone that I love and the fact that I cannot keep them all safe causes me to get very overwhelmed… but do you know what? That’s ok with me.

Why? Because I am also the person who will sit with you for hours in the middle of the night and just hold your hand.
I will feel your pain and do everything in my power to ease it for you.
I will stand by your side through thick and thin, and never let you suffer alone.

So when I see my little girl crying because a little girl on a movie lost her favourite toy and is heartbroken, I tell myself it’s ok and I tell her it’s ok too.
I am raising a little empath and that’s ok.
I will help her, I will guide her and I will teach her how she is a very special little soul who is going to change the world with her kind heart. We will help her set boundaries so she does not break in this harsh world we now live in, but I will always encourage and support her caring, empathetic nature.

Do not underestimate the value of kindness and empathy. It is a rare and precious gift in this modern world and I think we need more of it.

I will leave you with this thought… who do you know who is struggling, be it with a minor or major issues in their lives.
Why don’t you call them, or send a message just to let them know you’re thinking of them?
It will cost you nothing, but may be the tiny little thing that this person needs to keep them going or pull them back from the edge of despair.

Kindness costs nothing, but gives so much.

Stacey 💜 xx