The Benefits of Self-Care

Looking after your own needs is the best way to let yourself know that you are valuable and loved. We cannot give to others, without cost to the self, if we have not ensured that we are at optimum health first.

We carry so much guilt if we cancel plans, or fail to return a phone call, or aren’t there for someone else, but the truth is, it is okay, more than okay, to put your own needs first.

It’s taken me a long time to understand and to live this way. I am still a work in progress. But, I am working on it.

Yesterday, in the interests of self-care, I had a full body massage. I can’t really afford it at the moment, but last week was a rough week, and I hoped that the massage would relieve and release some emotional blocks.

In some areas, I felt such deep pain during the massage, wincing and cringing and praying it would be over. In other areas, absolute bliss and praying it would last forever. When it was finished though, and I took those first steps, my body felt loose in a way it hasn’t in a very long time. I was smiling from the inside.

Last night, I had the best sleep I’ve had in I don’t know how long. All up, about nine and a half, ten hours of sleep.

Today, my body feels at peace. I’m slowly getting my jobs done whilst a festival takes place on the road outside my house. I did the lawns late yesterday afternoon and the backyard feels like a haven. I’ve recaptured my feelings of independence, peace and hope.

I still have a snotty nose, have my business accounts to do, some school work and my tutoring lessons for this week to organise, as well as floors to vacuum and mop, a couple of loads of washing and a couple of phone calls to return.

The windows are open, the pets are happy, and I’m at peace.

It will all happen.

In its own time.

I am so grateful I looked after me first.

Dolores O’Riordan

I cried this morning when I heard that Dolores O’Riordan had died. You would have thought, had you seen me, that I had lost a close friend.

The Cranberries’ music is a part of my life’s soundtrack. I loved them. In many ways, Dolores being the same age as me, battling emotional demons, we shared a narrative. Simple as that.

My music idols and heroes are important to me. They provided refuge and companionship during some very lonely and difficult times as I came to terms with my past and who I was. We never get to tell them how important they are to us. I hope they know.

My dad introduced me to Zucchero. Dolores performed with him. I used to play it over and over, singing with her in kinship. My poor neighbours.

I know her soul will be at peace, and so I wish the same for her kids and loved ones here on Earth.

Deep Breaths

This time last year, I was excited by the potential of a new life. I was also absolutely terrified. That I wouldn’t have enough money. That I would fail. That I would be a hot mess for the entire year. That nothing would change. That I wouldn’t have enough money. That I wouldn’t have enough money. That I wouldn’t have enough –

You get the idea. More than all of that though, I was terrified I wouldn’t see it through. That everything would become too hard and I would just go back to what I knew. For the fourth time in my life, I had to jump, because if I didn’t, I knew I would be starving my life and my soul of something it needed, to breathe.

I think we know when we are hitting that point. We feel lost, stagnant, as if we are dying whilst we stand. We either become depressed or we change something. I had to change something.

So, I did.

From the outside, I guess it looks like I up and left my life. Big step. Lots of courage required. But, the truth is, I just put a pause on the life I lived. I created space to see what else my life could be. By doing this, I opened my life up, took the things I loved doing, and the space was there to do them.

I said yes to every opportunity, even if the opportunity was scary. I paused life as it was, and with it, I paused fear. As I’ve often said, twenty seconds of courage – acknowledge the fear, and then remind it that it isn’t driving the car (thanks, Liz Gilbert The Big Magic).

I have expanded. My life has expanded. I am happy.

At some point during the year, I let go of the fear of not enough money and really started to trust that I will always have enough. I am now working on becoming a multimillionaire within ten years, but that’s another story for another day. Especially as I face a January without income (or very little income because I will only receive what I generate for myself – and I’m cool with that. I think my bills are covered).

I have had many highlights this year. Many. I have been humbled beyond belief by the love that has opened within my life. I have been humbled by the growth of my business. I have been humbled by the sheer number of beautiful people and beautiful experiences I have encountered this year. I am in love with my life again. I am learning to see myself through the eyes of others, and loving who I am.

We create our lives. We create who we are. We create the potential and we create the lack of potential. We are in charge.

It might not be easy, but it’s easier than continuing to live a life that you don’t enjoy, and that is slowly killing your spirit and your happiness.

I am very poor. I am very happy. I needed to come to this point to embrace the riches I have, outside of money, so that the next chapters in my life generate both equally. Having money in a life not loved makes us rabid consumers and breaks our connection to who we authentically are. I am now living a life I love, it fuels trust that I will always be provided for, and generates the desire to earn more to enable the sharing of wealth with others.

It’s been an interesting year. The moment that best encapsulates it for me occurred very early on, during February, in Western Australia, when Mel taught me to snorkel.

Oh my. I still feel the fear, then the conquering of the fear as the cool water streamed past my face, stroking my cheeks, as my eyes opened to a whole other world under the surface of the water. It’s beauty caught my breath then, and holds it still.

What a wonderful life. What a wonderful world.

What will you do to create your best life?


I had a friend come over with her two young children today. We started several conversations. I don’t think we finished a single one. She is a great Mum. She doesn’t stop.

I spent yesterday afternoon with another friend of mine. Her two children had friends over. They are all a few years older than today’s children. She is a great Mum. She, also, doesn’t stop.

My nephews and a niece were here last Saturday. My niece is old enough now to look after herself. My nephews still need time and constant effort. My nieces used to be the same. Both of my sisters are great mums. They don’t stop.

Last week I spent time in Wagga with some friends I have had for over ten years now, since their two were 10 and 8. They are very easy to look after these days, but it hasn’t always been the case and they still require time. They are great parents. They still rarely stop.

Parenting, and mothering in particular, must be the most thankless and the most exhausting job of all time. Kids take you to your limits, and then push you that little bit further, just to see if you can endure it.

They need constant entertainment, they always need to be learning and having behaviour corrected or praised, they are always hungry, and they truly believe the Earth exists solely for their pleasure. Lol. Okay, some of this might be exaggerated. Sometimes.

They are relentless hard work. Just on their own, with their contexts just perfect, without trauma and without anything else impacting.

Realistically, most mother’s lives are not just perfect. Most mums work in and out of the home (and truthfully, inside is more than enough for anyone) and in contemporary society, most mums come from trauma or hardship (seventies and eighties were not kind decades).

Battling and resolving your own demons, whilst trying to provide the very best for your offspring, catering to everyone’s needs and demands, including society’s, and finding time to still be who you are and have some balance, makes existence really hard.

My mum, born during World War Two, forced out of home to live with other people so that she could be educated, leaving her home country of Finland 🇫🇮 to travel, finding ‘love’ in Australia, and marrying to settle here, did not have it easy. The marriage did not work and she was left with three daughters to raise on minimum income. Hurt and feeling betrayed, lost and lonely, she did the best she could with what she knew at the time.

I am grateful for that and for her.

For a while, I blamed my parents (illogically) for my inability to conceive. My non-biological daughter came into my life as a teen so I missed the chaos and self-doubt of raising a young child. I see that fear and self-doubt a lot in the eyes and words of parents, especially mothers. They worry that they aren’t enough, that they are messing up their kids, that they aren’t doing enough, that they are in some way failing their children.

Unless you are not present, and by present I mean in full mindful presence not just physically around, you are doing a good job.

Are you perfect? No.

But, your imperfections will be teaching your children tolerance and resilience, and you are modelling that they do not have to be perfect to be more than enough. They are valuable, important and perfect just as they are.

And, this my friends, is the best gift you can give your children.

Tonight, as I write this, I know why I am a mother to many rather than my own. I don’t have the personality or the patience or the selflessness required to be a present birth parent. This is not to say I couldn’t do it. If I had to, I would have. I’m grateful I didn’t have to.

I love my life as much as my friends with children love theirs. It is okay to be different and to follow a different path. It is important to own our limitations, and to be good with them. Mothering is an exceptionally important job, more important than it is given acknowledgement for. So, I acknowledge my friends that are parents. I acknowledge my sisters. I acknowledge my own Mum.

You are all more than enough. You are doing a phenomenal job, even when you are in the shower, or in your bed, or in the car, sobbing that you fear you aren’t, or that it’s all too hard, or you just want five minutes alone. I am grateful to you. It is hard, but you are succeeding, even when it feels like you aren’t.

I hope your children show their appreciation this Christmas. You deserve that.

My three kids are kids I can handle … shameless plug for my alternative children.

A Rollercoaster of Emotion

Well, it has been a while. Today, my brain won’t let me do anything else until I have blogged. Not sure I am quite ready to put down the emotional rollercoaster that is my brain every year at this time, but meh. What can you do. I must blog so that I can achieve other things lol.

I cried myself to sleep last night. Unexpectedly.

A friend of mine had commented on a Facebook post by Em Rusciano. Em was due to give birth yesterday, but miscarried earlier in her pregnancy. It was such a heartfelt post, something resonated, and I just released. No prize for guessing what the next thing will be to work on when I return to therapy in January. I will, under guidance and not by myself, Demartini the mother out of my miscarriage. This morning I awoke feeling emotionally hungover. I can feel the cogs turning in my mind, a lot of processing happening, I can’t access most of it yet.

I head back to my permanent teaching position in ten sleeps. Yes. I am counting down. Why do we do that to ourselves?!

I have had a phenomenal year. My goal was to heal from the investigation, and for the most part, I have. I do not think I carry any anger anymore, especially towards the people that I used as a symbol for all that went wrong last year (and not the people you would expect). I feel quite calm about returning to work from that perspective. However, this year has really solidified for me the people that regard me as a concept and those that value me. This is a good thing moving forward.

I carry concerns that I will fall into past patterns at work upon my return. I have no desire to be the person I was when I left, almost a year ago. I no longer desire to mentor any adults in the workplace; I no longer want to be the ‘go to’ person for all and sundry; I no longer want the long hours and excessive workload, watching those that I have supported drive through those gates to liberation before me.

My life has moved. I have moved. My values have changed. I am no longer the person that I was; I have liberated myself from the cage I had imprisoned myself in.

I think I felt a lot of shame and a lot of guilt. I had always wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t stop to think that teaching takes many forms and doesn’t necessarily just happen in a classroom. I was, and am, grateful for all of my years in formal education. I grew into myself, forged new paths, and inspired and empowered many. My legacy in education may not have reached award status, but my impact has been significant. So, I felt guilty thinking I may have outgrown it, shame that I wasn’t being grateful by needing to move away from it.

One of my clients had to watch a TED Talk to use as a related text for an assessment on “Discovery”. We were deconstructing it on Wednesday. It spoke to me on so many different levels.

Emilie Wapnick’s “Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling”

It sort of sums me up. I think I am a multipotentialite. I am a teacher, but I think my main calling, and this has been a recurring theme in how I teach, what I teach, and in who I am as a teacher, is that of healer. This year, even in my tutoring business, what I am really doing, ultimately doing, is healing the fragments within all of us that we carry with us every day. My multipotentials come in the myriad of activities I have engaged in through teaching and outside of teaching. I am always doing many things.

So, the shame and guilt I have felt have given way (or are in the process of giving way to) an acceptance that in our society, living and moving unexpectedly, requires courage. And, I am courageous.

When you are unhappy in life, and we all have moments – mine just became a long term series of moments, it is imperative that you do something to change it. It takes courage, even to mix it up a little, let alone to take leave to see what else is out there. I have always said that all change takes twenty seconds of courage. Thank you eternally, We Bought A Zoo.

We can all do twenty seconds.

It will take the same courage to go back, to be authentically me, to stand by the changes I have made this year, and to remember that I am worth putting me first. And, I can do it; I know I can.

This year has been successful beyond measure, a true legacy to my friend Natalie. It took me a while to make my promise to you real, but I will live with passion and energy. I will not waste my life, because I know how much you would have given to still be here breathing and living yours.

I firmly believe that our souls find peace when we are walking the path we are supposed to walk. My soul had been restless and scared for years. She liberated herself this year and she will not go backwards.

I do not know what the future holds for me. I know that I return to my school full time in a week (ten sleeps) and then five days a fortnight next year. I know that my tutoring business is going to be fine (most of my clients have already re-booked for next year – humbling and surprising to me – such is my naivete, and I have new clients booking). I know that the outline and focus for my book found its shape yesterday. I know that I have some ideas for an online business to source and build during January. I know that I am excited to start programming for my school students and to be back in my classroom next year.

I am moving forward. I am where I am meant to be. I am not stagnating again. I will continue to wholly love and breathe, embracing change and the moment with passion and wonder that I could be just this blessed.

I should stop there. It was inspiring and empowered and strong. However, this post is a true example of my brain, my rollercoaster. Be grateful you don’t live in it lol.

Much love …

In Transit

Waiting to check out, then we will be waiting to check in, then to board, then to get home. This is my least enjoyed aspect of travel. I am not a happy flyer. I tolerate it. I understand it is a vital part of the journey, but it is my least favourite.

Being in transit though provides time and space for reflection.

In two days this time last year, I would be boarding a plane to join others for a retreat in Varanasi, India. This time last year I had no real idea of how dramatically my life would change after that trip; no idea how much more and how fast I would move into myself with ease and comfort.

Twelve months have almost passed. My life is not what it was. I am grateful. I am blessed.

It hasn’t all been easy, and it hasn’t been without drama or pain. I set the intention to heal and healing is never easy. Having said that, healing hasn’t been as difficult as it could have been either.

I made myself a deal that anything I felt called to do, I would do. As a result, I have been drawn out of my comfort zone many times this year. Each time, I acknowledged the fear and then ignored it. And, as a result, I think I have had the happiest and most productive year of my life.

I am financially poor, but emotionally and experience rich. I know which I prefer. Bank accounts that were full no longer resemble that. I have met so many incredible people this year and have consolidated, in my heart, my existing people. I have no idea what my future holds and where I am headed, and I am at peace with that; content to be present and holding complete trust in the universe.

I am not healed; I am healing. I have not experienced anxiety in ten months and have not experienced any depression this year. I am in control of my life as much as any of us can be; it is fluid control and not dictatorial in nature.

I no longer feel shackled. I am liberated. A series of decisions and choices, mixed with naïveté as much as courage, pulled me from the mire I had been drowning in. It is an amazing gift to give to yourself. A gift that will keep giving.

I am excited to be coming home, to hug my kids, to start work again, and to continue healing and growing and moving more into the life I chose prior to this incarnation. I am happy.

The Beauty of Aging

I woke up this morning, after some yucky dreams, reflecting on aging and getting old. I have had the very real pleasure of spending almost two weeks with some people who are fifteen years and older than me, people of my parent’s generation. Collective wisdom in bucket loads. Completely inspiring.

Here, in Asia, generally, older family members are celebrated and nurtured. A very real understanding exists regarding the use and relevance of the wisdom of an aging generation. Something that I do not believe is valued in western culture. Definitely not to the extent that I believe it should be.

Val and I had lunch at a local restaurant here. It is across from the hotel (Sunrise Resort) here in Hoi An, and it is simply called Simple. It is owned by a young woman, just starting, who cooks beautiful food. We ate as a group there last night and rebooked for tonight.

Anyway, the young girl who manages or owns the spa next door and helps out the owner of the restaurant, was ducking off to check in on her father who is dying from cancer. She then came back to continue working. There was/is a nobility in her attitude that I don’t see as often in Australia.

Val and I then discussed death and nursing homes and retirement villages. My dad and I had discussed the importance of purpose and feeling useful before I left for Kampuchea. How easy it becomes to feel overlooked and uninspired when we feel we serve no purpose to anyone, and are just waiting to die. Val recently lost her husband, misses him, but feels the need to keep moving forward. Here, in Asia, we have been told repeatedly how the elderly teach the young their ways. Old wisdom and understanding works in partnership with youthful vigour, and society progresses.

In education, I don’t see this sort of reverence for older workers. As a result, older teachers become cynical about the system and vital corporate knowledge is sacrificed. Younger teachers are regarded as treasures and opportunities are piled onto them, suffocatingly, because they are not given the time to adequately hone the craft of teaching itself. They end up burnt out or not very accomplished where it counts, in the classroom.

Western culture reveres the ‘purity’ and ‘naïveté’ of youth above the wisdom of the old, to its detriment.

I have met many women who become infinitely more beautiful as they age. I am one of them.

There is magick in the lines in a wizened face; a majesty of experience, knowledge, pain and happiness, never seen in the young who have not had the time necessary to experience the rich tapestry of life.

There is truth in the words of the old; consideration, reflection, wisdom and understanding, never seen in the young. Again, because the young have not had the time to experience all that life can offer.

There is the real compassion that comes from surviving much pain, and the confidence to share stories to empower and inspire the young. To reach out a hand, to give a hug, to truly heart connect with others. The young have not survived enough yet to feel the conviction that survival brings.

There is the truth of life reflected in many different ways of choosing how to live, and honesty even in the shortness of impatience that we can all learn from.

Wisdom, real wisdom, comes from the many experiences that a long life has had access to. It comes from the time taken to experience and process life’s many realities and extremes.

Older people don’t care so much how others view them, even though they are often invisible, and with that comes freedom, a real freedom. Unseen, we can really embrace every second, uncensored. There is an honesty and rich authenticity in this. A freshness that youthful vigour does not, cannot, possess.

Aging is beautiful. It is rich. It is empowering. We need to learn from the older ones so that we do not lose their collective wisdom, and so that we can forge a better world in years and for generations to come.

Khmer Lessons

It has been a year since my trip to India kickstarted massive transformation in my life. My life and I are unrecognizable lol. It is awesome that I start and finish my travel in an Asian country.

What have I learned …

That travel is education. When we travel, we learn. I have learned so much about Cambodia: it’s history, culture, lifestyle, politics, and peoples. I love this country. I have some fears that it may not remain a ‘democracy’ much longer, but I hope that I am wrong.

That I can achieve anything I decide to achieve. Those 352 steps, one way, are staying with me. I did it. I took breaths as I needed to, I didn’t compete with anyone else, I was lacquered in my own sweat five million times over, and I did it. Fitness is an obstacle for me. I have chosen that. Since the steps, I have chosen otherwise. Every activity, every chance to walk, I have taken. Because I can if I decide to.

That people are basically the same. We all want to belong, to connect, to fit, to be valued, to be seen. Age, gender, socio-economic status, none of it matters at the core. At the core, we are one.

If you choose to give to beggars, especially children, you become part of the problem. Children who earn more money begging than going to school, will not go to school. Education is vital to break cycles, and to improve the condition of our planet and us. Find another way to assuage the guilt of privilege.

That my passion for teaching exists deeply. I have no time for the politics and admin. Enough said.

That those of us living in the first world have no idea what poverty and suffering is, evidenced by our overconsumption and misery. People here have nothing but smile broadly. We should learn from that.

And I have learned that girls from Campbelltown can become something, anything, everything. I am truly blessed.

On to Vietnam.

Tina’s Tutoring ~ A Love Story

I think it was either late last year or very early this year that my forever friend suggested I start tutoring to help out my finances this year. I balked a fair bit. I had never really enjoyed tutoring, but it made logical sense, so I started the tutoring branch of my business.

Thank you, Karyn.

Another of my closest friends hired me to mentor her and tutor her child, almost straight away. This pushed my business into start mode and empowered my confidence.

Thank you, Renee.

English, reading, writing, spelling and mentoring adults in writing. Bliss. I decided to use Facebook as my main tool for promotion and advertising. I set my rates. I encountered some public opposition to them. I countered that.

Small businesses are taxed approximately 30c in the dollar. Plus, I am a mobile tutor which means petrol expenses, and wear and tear on the car. Plus, purchasing teaching aids and stationery. Plus, I have to make a living to pay bills.

Add to that, I am an exceptional teacher. It has taken me a long time to own this. I am not exceptional for everyone, but the right people find you and stay a while, and I am exceptional for them.

And, not only am I an exceptional teacher, but I am an amazingly resilient and wise human being. I know stuff, because I’ve suffered and learned from my suffering. I share this with my students; I always have.

My students get the whole Tina package. We work on what we need to work on. Some days this is academic stuff, some days it is anxiety, or stress relief, or trust, or confidence … whatever my client needs, I try to offer.

Then I received a question about Maths tutoring. I responded to say that I didn’t tutor Maths, but I would try to find her someone. I spoke to Renee (a Maths Head Teacher) who told me to pull my head in because I could definitely teach Year 6 Maths. I replied to the parent and told her I could give it a go, and we could see if it worked and she embraced that.

I offered my services in Maths tutoring at a discounted rate, because I didn’t believe I would be good enough. I have surpassed my own expectations and now my rates are equal.

Thank you, Sophie.

Tina’s Tutoring grew, and grew quickly. I now work every afternoon and evening during the week, and all day on Saturday.

And, I love it. Every second of it. What’s more, I love my clients, and I love their families. I always imagined it would be awkward being in people’s homes, but it isn’t. I feel very welcomed in all of the spaces I work in.

I had a rough few days as a casual teacher this past week. In the old days, before the business, I would have felt sorry for myself and come home to mope. This week though, I got into the car, left work, breathed deeply, listened to my audiobook, and became even more excited to see my clients.

We have also started seeing improved results and happier, more confident children.

I firmly believe that success at school comes from the relationship between the teacher and the student; if a child likes their teacher, they will want to learn and they will learn. That relationship forms the foundation for success. Without it, learning is achievable, but loveless.

Relationships take time to build. I will miss my kids when they no longer need me, but I know that we both leave enriched. See, I get just as much as I give. If not more.

I love seeing kids finally get how to do something. I love seeing kids grow in confidence. I love seeing kids celebrate their success. I love seeing kids learn that marks aren’t everything. I love seeing kids love learning. I love seeing kids try, more than anything. I love seeing their smiles.

I love my business. It doesn’t feel like work, and even when I am utterly exhausted, feeling demoralised in life, I find the spark to keep going and am rewarded for it as soon as the door opens.

I used to feel this way about teaching in schools. The politics, and increased and unnecessary workload, has changed that for me. It is important to be happy and to feel fulfilled. As a teacher I felt taken for granted, minimised and very over worked. I do not feel that way anymore.

I earn significantly less money, am always very, very poor, but I am blissfully happy.

I know which I would prefer.

The Pursuit of Happiness

I think one of my greatest lessons this year has been that happiness makes life better.

No, we can’t always be happy, and I get that. We ‘need’, for want of a better word, moments that aren’t happy, for balance, for perspective and for understanding.

By happiness I don’t necessarily mean we are always smiling and laughing and dancing, but more a stillness, a calm, an inner peace, and a knowing that pain is temporary, and even whilst in pain, we need to remember that it too, is temporary. Happiness is knowing. It is trusting.

You are okay.

You have been okay.

You will be okay.

Happiness is also easier to achieve and to maintain when we are being authentic and living our best lives, as our best selves.

It could be easy for others to say things like, Well, we can’t all just abandon our lives for a year, and, Easy to do when you don’t have kids or responsibilities.

Maybe that’s right. Maybe it isn’t. We can never know. But, we can all make some changes. Even small changes like spending one day each weekend outside is do-able, if it brings you happiness.

And, taking this year off hasn’t all been holidays and happiness. Financially it has been difficult. My savings went earlier than expected and casual work hasn’t been as forthcoming as I thought it would be. But, I’ve survived it. I’ve asked for help when I’ve needed it. I’ve really grown the business to support me. And, I finally learned that I can live with less money, and that the universe will always provide.

More importantly, I have reconnected with me, on less money, and with more happiness. I’ve reassessed my values, and altered the way I think and the way I live.

I am also more cognisant of my need to suspend judgement regarding what makes other people happy. Thank God, we aren’t all the same and that diversity is encouraged in our country. We are reasonably free to be who we are, who we want to be, and do the things we want to do, even if it means we sometimes have to think outside of the box to achieve our goals (hopefully very soon same sex couples will not have to leave their home country to get married, and our first people will see real opportunity, acknowledgement and respect from us invaders).

Happiness is relative, it is subjective, it is forever fluid. But, what I know for sure, is that when we spend time with people we can be ourselves with, when we spend time doing things that make our hearts sing, when we are aware and conscious, it is easier to sustain happiness.

What makes you happy? How can you do more of that or bring more of that into your life?

Have a happy week. Let others have a happy week.