Antibullying Week 2018

#antibullyingweek

This morning I went to my daughters school for an anti-bullying fundraiser which was hosted by one of our local radio stations Star FM 104.5. The theme for the fundraiser was big bows and crazy socks. It was a great morning with a sausage sizzle, face painting, plaster painting, games and the school choir. I think it is a fantastic thing how schools these days are really making an effort to say no to bullying.

I have been inspired to put together a video for anti bullying week. This is important to me because I was bullied at school and it did have a big impact on my. I do not want my kids to ever be bullied and I do not want them to be the bully either.

This is a snippet of what I have said in the video;

“It is so important to be kind
Because we are all human beings
No one is better or worse
We are just different
And different is what makes the world interesting
Being unique is not a hinderance
It is our strength
Whilst it is normal to not always get along with everyone
It is never ever ok to bully any one
Making people feel uncomfortable and excluding them
Hurting them by kicking, hitting, pushing, tripping, etc.
Name-calling and spreading nasty rumours
None of these things are ok
Whether it is ok or on the internet
Treat others as you want to be treated”

Please watch the whole video to hear the whole story.

No Means No!

#nomeansno #speakup #sexualassaultawareness #stopvictimshaming

 

With the 16 Days of Activism coming up from the 25th November to the 10th December, I felt inspired to create a video which is specifically aimed at sexual violence. The 16 days of activism is a campaign to take action bring and end to  gender-based violence against women and girls. Yes it does happen to boys and men also. Violence towards any one is a terrible thing. Unfortunately I am the 1 in 3 who has experience physical and emotional violence, I am also am one of the 1 in 5 who has experienced sexual violence. The video I have created is specifically aimed at sexual violence. As a woman, I have spent my life subject to sexism from men. It is something that is so common and it is not unusual for some guys to just laugh it off. It’s not ok and we need to not only speak out and say ‘he it’s not on.’ We need to educate people, especially boys from a young age.

The video I have created may seem a bit provocative, even controversial for an anti-sexual violence video. It is as though I am saying women are not just objects, we are human beings and we have the right to say no. We should not have to put up with sexism or gender based violence. Yet at the same time I’m dancing sexy in a provocative outfit. Is it a mixed message? No it most certainly isn’t. That is the whole point. To flip the victim shaming on it’s head. It doesn’t matter what woman is doing, there’s still no excuse to abuse. You are the only one who is responsible for your behaviour and actions. No one forces you to abuse any one.

Care for the Coast Christmas Drive

Friday night was filled with wrapping a couple of hundred presents, a few drinks and laughs.

Of course I wasn’t wrapping presents on my own. Eight months ago in March I became a volunteer for Care for the Coast. I am the local drop off point in my area.  Care For The Coast is a not for profit organisation based on the NSW Central Coast. It is run by Mums who have come together to help families in our midst experiencing hardship and crisis. Some families are on verge of becoming homeless, some have sick children or a sick parent and others are fleeing domestic violence. Care for the Coast Helps through the collection and distribution of food, toiletries and pre-loved items such as clothing, toys for kids, things for babies, homewares. Care for the Coast also refers people to other local services or groups.

I did not know what to expect when I first became I volunteer. All I knew was I wanted to help people and make a difference. With four young children it is hard to find something I can actually do. So being a Care for the Coast volunteer was perfect. My front door might often look like a tip but I do enjoy every bit of it. I enjoy sorting through it all and knowing it goes to people in need. Some people may drop of stuff that probably should go in the bin but majority are good donations. Whenever Care for the Coast does a call out on their Facebook page for specific things or asking for help, there are always plenty of people willing to give and help. The thing I have enjoyed the most is the Mums and friendships I have made. The Mums (and Dads) who run Care for the Coast are all volunteers and they are selfless, big hearted, witty, fun and even quirky but quirky in a good way. It is so much more than just collecting and referring, it is about community and helping to build people up.  I am in continual awe of Gina who set up Care for the Coast and Runs it. She works tirelessly and also has three autistic boys. She is amazing! .Wrapping didn’t finish on the night I wrapped, Gina has continued wrapping, sorting and getting all the pressies picked up or drop off for days afterwards.

Saturday night was my first time as part of the annual Care for the Coast Christmas Drive wrapping night. Seven volunteers worked until late at night wrapping all the presents. Well done everyone involved in the organising the Christmas drive, collecting, wrapping and distributing. Actually well done for everything you do all year.  I had a great night with lots of laughs, music and of course can’t forget the alcohol.

White Ribbon Day 2016

Today I went to the White Ribbon Walk at the Entrance for White Ribbon day. The turnout was amazing with over 600 people.  For the first time, “Walk A Mile – Koori Style” and “White Ribbon Day Walk” came together for one big walk as part of Domestic Violence Awareness campaign.  It was a lovely morning and the weather was beautiful. I plan to go along to White Ribbon Walk at Terrigal this Sunday. Some friends and I made up some white blooms, so it will be good to 50,000 of them that are on the Skillion. The blooms are in the shape of a ribbon and it looks amazing in the photos I’ve seen.

I am very passionate about domestic violence. It is something close to my heart because of personal experience and also because it’s a national and local crisis. The Central Coast is in the top two NSW police commands for domestic and family violence incidents.  It was in July this year that I became a White Ribbon Advocate and joined the Central Coast White Ribbon committee because I wanted to help make a difference towards educating, raising awareness and bringing an end to domestic violence. What I went through was bad enough but I know there are so many other’s currently experiencing domestic violence. Many experience much worse than what I did.

There are some people who don’t like a specific campaign for ‘violence against women’ and think there should be a general violence campaign instead. I understand where they are coming from and agree a general violence campaign is a good thing. I also think that men need more focus when it comes to domestic violence because they are less likely to speak out and some people may not take them as seriously. However a campaign for violence against women is very much needed because there is still a lot of sexism. My whole life I’ve experienced sexism. As a child I was molested by a family friend. I have had men wolf whistle, grope me inappropriately, make rude and sexist comments. I have had to leave a job due to be being stalked and also had male work colleagues make inappropriate advances towards me. This is just me. I know many women who have had similar experiences. Then there’s even more women and girls out there that I don’t know who have also experienced sexism. Yes we have progressed with women’s equality, however sexism is still well and truly alive out there. Most women begin to experience it when they are just a young girl. It is so important that we teach our children about respectful relationships and to treat women with respect.

The other thing that is well and truly alive is the out dated belief that the man is the head of the house and the women’s job is to cook, clean and raise the kids. I used to get the ‘the man is the head of the house’ line from my ex. I have friends who are struggling because their partner/husbands have this belief about women. I have met many women who have this same struggle. The only way to change these sexist and old fashioned, out dated beliefs about women is to engage the community, raise awareness and educate. It’s important to educate our children because our beliefs and attitudes are formed so young. If a woman chooses to not work,  stay home and do all of the cooking, cleaning and looking after kids with no help, then that’s her choice. In this day and age no one should be abusive towards a woman because she no longer holds or subscribes to this belief.

Before I experienced domestic violence, I used to think I would never put up with it. Then it ended up happening to me. I won’t go into too much detail but is was a mainly intimidation, emotional abuse and being controlling. There were times he yelled and screamed in a fit of rage. I was called every name under the sun. No one in my life had ever spoken to me like that. It was quite a shock. There were also a few times he was physically violent and hit me, threw me and pinned me down. My Mum and step Dad only had a minute glimpse of what he could be like and that was right at the end when I was leaving. They were shocked by the way he spoke to me and what they saw was nothing compared to what he could be like.

I was with my ex-husband for five years. He didn’t show this side at first and even when he did show this abusive side, he wasn’t like it all the time. I guess I didn’t leave straight away because   I was in shock, embarrassed and confused. He was very good at putting everything back onto me as though it was my fault. Which it wasn’t my fault and there’s never any excuse to abuse any one. My friends and family weren’t nearby because I lived in Sydney at the time.  So I didn’t have any support around or anyone to pick up on what was going on. I also think when you have traumatic experiences, you get worn down, your self-esteem goes out the window and you can’t think straight. I am very blessed and lucky to have left before we had any kids. For many other’s who have kids, it’s a lot more complicated and they have the constant nightmare of having to deal with their ex. I was able to leave quite easily and I didn’t take anything, other than my own clothes and personal things. I was happy to go without the house, furniture or pets. Although I was very heart broken about the pets. My friends and family didn’t see it that way and kept trying to tell me that I should get something. They didn’t really know what was going on. We hadn’t paid much of the mortgage off and had also done renovations. We wouldn’t have got anything back if we sold it any way. It wasn’t worth having to deal with him and all the hassle of trying to get something when I wouldn’t have got much any way.  I just didn’t want to have to deal with him anymore, it was too stressful. Being with someone like that is so soul crushing and I just wanted to be free to be me. I have now remarried and have four young kids. My husband is a very gentle and loving person. He has never said a bad thing to me.

If you are currently experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is experiencing domestic then call the NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 565 463 or 1800respect and ask to speak to a trauma counsellor. 

#WhiteRibbon #WhiteRibbonDay2016 #saynotoviolence

Teaching the kids about giving

Some people love the whole decorative commercial side of Christmas and get excited when they see the very first Christmas decoration in the shops. Usually the first decorations in the shops are are the day after Halloween. For some Christmas is a very religious time of year and for other’s it is about time with family and yummy food. I respect how people choose to celebrate Christmas and also what they believe. For me I am some where in between all these. I want to spend time with the family and for my kids to have fun. At the same time I want them to learn a deeper meaning of Christmas beyond getting presents. I am not religious though, as I’ve said before I am more spiritual. How can I make Christmas all of these thing for my family? For me I think teaching the kids about giving and helping those in need is something important and that I associate with the spirit of Christmas. Although it is good to always be giving and help those in need regardless of whether it is Christmas or not.

Leading up to Christmas  we usually do a clean out at home and get rid of things the kids no longer want or use. We  donate it all to charity. These days it seems kids have so much. Mine have a lot and I tried not to go over board but between all  their birthdays, Christmas and even second had stuff we are given. They have just ended up with heaps. The kids enjoy picking out the things they want to give away.

Over the lashoeboxst couple of years we have participated in Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse that brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes. The shoe box must contain the following 6 things; something to wear, something to play with, something for school, something to love, something special and something for personal hygiene. It is a great opportunity for the kids to learn that Christmas is also about giving and that there are  kids in the world that aren’t as well off as they are. My 3 girls all love going shopping to pick out stuff to buy for the shoe boxes. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Last year I went to the Hot Dollar Shop and this year to Kmart. They also enjoy packing their shoe boxes and dropping off to the local drop off point. When Phoenix is a bit bigger, he can join in too.

This year for the first time I also started giving the girls pocket money each week which they put in their money box. We opened their money boxes and brought their money along to Kmart where they could buy something for themselves and also a present for each other for Christmas. They were so excited to open their money boxes and put their savings into their little purses and handbags. I try to encourage them to give to each other. To think about what they can give and not always what they can get. It is pretty normal for kids to think about presents and what they can get. I find it nice to briefly get them thinking about giving to some one else. Maybe they will remember when they are older. They at least had some fun shopping followed by a cupcake each. It was a nice morning for all of us.

 

PNDA Awareness Week

#PNDAawarenessweek #bePNDAaware #MaternalMentalHealth #StartTheConversation

This week is Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week. This is my story with anxiety. It has been difficult to write and even more difficult to share.

It is hard to talk about emotions and mental health. Especially when everyone else seems to be coping. So many of us pretend to have it together.15000137_1331521566881789_7217537635816805275_o.jpg Whereas most new parents are winging it at time and have their own struggles. Add perinatal and postnatal depression into it and things can seem impossible. I have many friends and acquaintances who have struggled with PNDA. I would never have known if they had not told me. I always thought they had it together and it was just me who didn’t. In the past mental health wasn’t talked about and many of our grandmothers and mothers did it all with little or no support. Society has progressed more and knows a lot more now. However there’s still a big attitude that we should be able to do it all and we should be able to cope. A belief that comes from society and also many parents take on board this belief. This type of belief can be quite damaging because it stops people speaking out and getting the help they need. It is so important to speak out, not only to get help but because speaking out helps to normalise PNDA and break the stigma.

I have always been a bit of a nervous anxious type of person. However I’m also quite independent, determined, active and passionate about a lot of things. It wasn’t until after my third baby that I felt anxiety like never before. I should be able to cope and I shouldn’t be feeling so bad. I just felt so inadequate. It was as though I was in a fog and I couldn’t think straight. Even little daily tasks seemed like such a huge thing. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t even look like myself. I no longer knew what I wanted or who I was, whereas I had always been very clear about what I wanted, my goals, passions, interests etc. All I wanted to do was escape but I didn’t know where to. My tolerance levels towards my elder two girls was so low. I was way too hard on them and I wasn’t present for them. I would suddenly fly of the handle at every little thing. It was quite frightening because this anger just came hurling out without even thinking about it. It’s like it just happened and I didn’t even realise what I was doing until I was midstream of flying of the handle. I was worried about hurting the kids and even there was one time I even messaged my husband and  rang my Mum. They both were are work, so they couldn’t do anything. I don’t think they understood the seriousness of what was happening. The fog I was in was dangerous and there were two occasions I nearly crashed the car with all three kids in it. I was in such a fog I couldn’t function properly. I knew I wasn’t ok and I had to do something not only for my sack, but for my kids’ sake, for their safety. I experienced anxiety again when pregnant with my 4th baby. I was very worried about going through the severe anxiety I did after having Indigo my third baby. This time the anxiety wasn’t as severe but it was still pretty bad. Both times I did see the Dr and also a psychologist. I didn’t get the severe anxiety after I had Phoenix my fourth baby. I have made my mental health and wellbeing a priority.

There is no shame in feeling, sad, anxious or depressed. It is ok if you are not coping. It is no reflection of you as a person. It can happen to anyone. Please do something about it, you are not alone. There are plenty of people out there experiencing the same and there are plenty of professionals and services that can help. Each year in Australia, up to one in seven women and one in ten men will experience postnatal depression (PND). Anxiety conditions are just as common both during pregnancy and after birth. However, many parents don’t seek help because they feel they should be able to cope with the challenges of parenthood.

If you are one of the many people who experiences depression or anxiety before or after childbirth, or support, please call PANDA’s National Helpline on 1300 726 306 Mon-Fri 10-5pm AEST

http://www.panda.org.au/