RUOK Day 2015 – Thanks for Asking

It’s that day again, when we see lots of images posted on social media (and the media) with big yellow and black writing asking: RU OK?

ruok-day

I have written two responses to this day in 2012 & 2013. I’m not sure why I missed last year, but perhaps at that time, I wasn’t okay.

Not only is the 2nd September of every year dedicated as RUOK? Day, but today is also National Suicide Awareness day. Quite fitting. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (a government organization), over the last two decades there has been a steady rise of death by suicide, and incidents of self-harm resulting in hospitalization.
To pretty much everyone, this is scary stuff. Suicide today, is still a subject that is skimmed over, hushed, and most certainly not as common a topic as we should be making it. Why are people committing suicide? What is making them think that death by their own hand is the only solution? Of course I can’t give you these answers, but what I can do is highlight that we have the power to change someone’s life.

All it takes is one question: Are You Okay?

We don’t have the right to tell people how to feel, we cannot force them to feel, or make them talk to us. What we can do is show compassion, and show that we do care by asking them a simple question. Not because we want to be cool, and trendy, but because we care. It is a simple question. It’s three words. What is not simple is the answer you might get. When someone says, “No, I’m not”. What happens then? The aim is to start the conversation.

I’ve seen a few posts online today that are questioning whether people should be asking the RUOK question if they are not equipped to handle the answer. From my point of view ~ Yes, they should still ask the question. All exposure to a worthy cause is fantastic. This cause highlights so much, and it is the job of those who understand it, to equip those who may not know, with answers. If they are asking RUOK? on this particular day in September, then we are assuming they’ve seen the social media graphics, the television ads …. I mean, we can only assume (which could be risky) but now what we do is inform everyone that not only are we asking the question, we hope they are reading material regarding mental illness, and how to be a supportive friend. Materials they may never have seen without the RUOK day campaign. Remember, being supportive doesn’t mean you take on the responsibility of the problem that someone may be feeling. You don’t suddenly make those feelings your own, and you certainly don’t turn into an unqualified psychiatrist or psychologist. There is so much that can be done by being You. Acknowledge, validate, and you offer to help them if they would like. Quite often it’s letting that person know they are not alone. Did you know that every year ONE in FIVE Australians will experience a form of mental illness?! Now with a population like ours, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet to say that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You certainly don’t have to yell from the rooftops that you are not okay, but I promise, if you have seen someone ask the question, and you’re willing to do it, then please, answer honestly and let them be a support.

Soooooo….. enough of the preachy preach! I’ll add some links to the bottom of the post so you CAN be armed with any solutions, help, assistance, or answers you might be seeking if you do get an answer that isn’t, “Yes, thanks for asking”.

This years theme of RUOK?  Day is: “Thanks for asking”… right now in my life, although I feel like I am drowning a lot, I know that I am okay. I’ve had people ask me and I’m am so thankful they asked. At this very moment in time I have a supportive spouse, and close friends who are forever my sounding boards on life, love, and everything in between. Unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury. Society enforces it’s labels upon us, and many people can feel locked in a box. Thinking they are not “Normal” and therefore, not able to be their true self. To those people, I am but one person who would like to say: Regardless of how you see yourself – YOU MATTER. You have the ability to create an impact on society and this life. Be who you are. Be what you want. Just be yourself. As Dr Suess says:


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Depression, anxiety, and feeling hopeless… I’ve experienced all of those feelings. I want you to know. They do not define you…. It Gets Better. The more we speak about it, the more it’s in mainstream media, hopefully the more we can abolish the stigma. In my opinion, social labels suck…huge big sucky suck….but they are there, and it’s our job to smash them into a million pieces and make the abnormal, normal. There are so many fantastic places that can offer assistance free of judgment and stigma. Many, like Lifeline, are anonymous. They are someone to lend an ear when you’re feeling alone and helpless. Please, know that this life is one for living, and you living it, matters.

Take Care and Remember, it’s okay to say you’re not Okay. You are not alone……

 

Hot Links

Click on each one to be taken directly to the website

Lifeline 13 11 14

Black Dog Institute

RU OK? Day 

beyondblue

headspace (for 12-25 year olds) 

SANE Australia 

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Dry July – A Month In Reflection

How was your July? Mine was Dry! dry_july_member_FB Last year, for the first time, I took part in a fundraiser called Dry July. It is a movement that asks you go “Booze Free” for the month of July in order to raise funds for benefactors that focus on the wellness of adults with cancer. This is something that is dear to my heart, as I see on a daily basis, adults who are going through cancer treatments. Last year I was able to rack up $225 which I thought was an amazing amount! With that in mind, I signed up again for 2015! What an amazing opportunity I have had! Not only have I successfully smashed Dry July, I was able to bring exposure through newspaper, radio, and public fundraising.dryjuly9 I began Dry July full of optimism, although a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to go to my nightly wine. The first couple of dryjuly11days were a bit blah, and I felt like I didn’t have a go-to drink. It was an effort to boil the kettle and figure out what tea I was going to have. Then I would sit and pout about how it didn’t taste the same as wine. I managed to get to a wonderful 30th birthday celebration and by-passed all of the alcohol! It was hard!!! It was at the beginning of July so I was still very much in the mind dryjuly6frame that booze was fun! I did a lovely ‘test tube shot’ of lemonade while everyone knocked back some schnapps! I didn’t let it dampen the fun, and still had a hilarious time playing Heads Up with a bunch of loaded ladies!!!! It was also a struggle during school holidays. Three kids, two weeks, no booze. That’s enough to send anyone a little crazy. Lucky for me, I already am crazy, and I was able to make amusing Mr T. memes to distract myself.dryjuly1 As the month went on, I found it was less and less on my mind. With winter in full swing, it was just as easy to boil the kettle and make a nice warm cup of herbal tea. I don’t mind the Chamomile & Spiced Apple. That flavor definitely became a favourite. Half way through the month I was blitzing the donations and was extremely thankful dryjuly3that I had so many people “on my side”. Knowing donations were coming in really did keep me accountable. Not only did I have something to prove to myself, but people were giving up their hard earned money with the assumption I would follow through on my end of the bargain. I knew I needed wanted more money so I decided to have a go at a cake stall! The local dance school (that both my daughter and I dance at) kindly allowed me to set cakestall3up shop one Saturday morning. With the help of a bunch of great friends who came forward and baked for me, I had a great set up. There were lots of goodies on order, and my local Tupperfriend came to lend a hand and showcase some goodies. I cakestall1decided not to mark any price on the items, and simply mentioned that all items were “by donation”, allowing the choice to remain in the hands of the buyer. I was amazed. By not restricting myself, I ended up with a whopping $341.55!!! I mean the fact that someone paid $20 for a cupcake was simply amazing to me! As soon as I explained WHY I was doing the cake stall, the money was handed over with no question!!!!! The following weeks were even easier. I didn’t think about the wine anymore. It was non-existent in the fridge and in my mindset. I was sleeping better, and I certainly felt a lot more alert. I did lose 4kg over the month, but I dunno..is that really the wine (please say no, so I don’t have to be sad!!). I’m just glad it’s over! I didn’t drink for another week, and then had a really bad experience, but that’s another story for another time. I can’t believe I managed to get through another July without booze! It was worth it! In fact, it was $923 worth it! That’s the amount that I have managed to raise! My dryjuly4benefactor was The Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre at Westmead. I am so proud of being able to contribute to ongoing funds to the centre. My hope is that by being one person, doing one thing, I can make a difference. I’m not sure if I’ll do it next year!! We’ll have to wait and see! In the meantime, have you attempted Dry July, or something like it? Had you ever heard of Dry July before? What’s the most amount of $$ you have raised for a charity? How did you go about raising so much?! Let me know, so I can be prepared for my next fundraising venture!

Those With Less Often Give More

Have you done anything for someone, to make yourself feel better? By that I mean, have you helped someone in need? Have you gone the extra mile to do a little something for someone without them expecting it? Sometimes it’s people who don’t have enough to share, that share the most.

Recently, I saw a video on YouTube and I was astonished at the social experiment. Watch it, and then come back to me! We can discuss…

Soooo.. what did you think?? My heart broke a little knowing that people were willing to give up their dollar for booze and drugs, but not for a man and his family. I think being on Dry July I’ve been able to take a step back and see how alcohol plays a huge part in society. Everywhere. Instead of asking if he needed help to get out of that rut, they assisted his behaviour. Interesting.

I loved the woman who came up and although she was homeless herself, she gave him EVERYTHING she had earned that day. EVERYTHING. Yet, at one point we see kids driving by in a mini car?!!? They stopped and you can see their parent (I presume) pushing them along to keep going. Why? Why do you think society turns it’s back on these people, yet not others?

I’d love to hear your thoughts….

bcyM6MdcLI’m currently participating in a charity drive for “Share The Dignity“. The aim is to provide homeless women with sanitary items. It’s a wonderful initiative (there are a few various charities who do it – Melbourne Period Project is another), because this is a controversial topic that is quite often brushed under the rug. The more people talk about it, the more people will know about it. If you would like to donate a packet of pads or tampons, please check the website for Australia wide drop off locations. The drive ends August 31st and all items will be distributed to local recipients. I believe there are programs like this in North America, and encourage you to look them up and contribute!

Schools Back.. Skerred.

In my youth I decided that university wasn’t for me. I wanted to see the world. To live in another country. To Fly Like An Eagle. That’s exactly what I did. After an extended time overseas, I finally came back to Australia for good, in 2004. I met a guy, married, worked, had three kids…. For that reason, my university journey is taking shape in my late thirties, instead of my teens.

Tomorrow, the kids go back to school for term 3. A welcomed return for me (not so much for them, because helloooo…homework – YUK!)

It’s also a week until I return to university. After having studied online for a few years (and getting nowhere thanks to not getting cross-credits) I have found that on-campus is definitely the best way for me to study successfully. The only problem is I have mild social anxiety. I do not like crowds, and I do not like being around a lot of strangers. Whenever I think about having to go in to the campus I am a combination of excitement to be learning new things, and sick to my stomach because..people.

I’m trying not to acknowledge my anxiety and nerves, but they are creeping up, sitting on my chest and pressing down so much that I can physically feel it change the way I breathe.

I don’t have any ‘university friends’ as last semester I was doing a couple of mandatory subjects that were aimed at a cross section of courses, thus not strictly in my ‘field of study’. Also, I’m not good at making friends. I love being friends. I love having people in my community, but I’m so awkward when it comes to making them. I have a knack of being really quiet and observant, until I know you. Once I do know you though, look out! You’ll never get me to shut up! It’s hard, but I’m going to try to reach out this semester.

Anywho, I’ve managed my anxiety with diet and exercise for awhile now, however my exercise has slipped. My diet isn’t terrible, and I try to stick to Gluten Free, Wheat Free as much as I possibly allow myself. I certainly don’t beat myself up when I do eat a spoonful of Nutella, but I am aware it will affect me. In the past I have seen marked improvements through exercise. Something I have learned is that I really need to do a ‘type’ of movement every day. If I don’t do it every day, my body becomes a blob. Yesterday I had great intentions of going out for a run (jog/walk/shuffle – let’s face it, what I do isn’t graceful, but it is out there!) I had on all the gear and then bam… throughout the day, my mind talked me out of going. I didn’t do it. Complete regret. Why didn’t I just lace up the shoes and go? I KNOW I’ll feel better. It’s like I self-sabotage myself by not doing it. Self-talk is huge. How you talk to yourself reflects on how you put your own energy into the world. I also believe that you can change the way you think by being conscious of the how you speak to yourself. Being present, and listening. I’ll listen to Benedict…because he knows…


Anywho, this week I am committing to three thirty minute runs (and anything above that is a bonus!). I am also starting back at dance class this week, which I thoroughly enjoy. So, whilst the anxiety is creeping up, and I’m feeling panicky, and scared to return to school, I am also going to commit to getting out and exercising, as well as being kind to myself. Because really, in the end, being kind to yourself really does matter. Regardless of my ‘friend count’ I know that I am important, and I matter.

***Shout Out to a wonderful online community. I’ve written about them before. They are known as Operation Move. A true Sisterhood. If you are into being around positive women, who uplift, encourage, and inspire, then they are your community! Come over and check them out on Facebook! I’m fairly certain that without them I wouldn’t believe in myself half as much, and I certainly wouldn’t have the confidence to move as much.***

School Holiday Fun – Two Ingredient Screen Time Saver

If you’re anything like me you have a love-hate relationship with school holidays.

Whilst I love not having to make school lunches and ship off the kids every morning by the time the second bell rings, I do so miss the routine and the few hours of time that I usually do things without the kids (or at least with just the littlest).

It’s also a battle of the screens. You want to give the kids a well deserved break from school, and let them have at it with technology, but you don’t want to lose them to the monster of the screen. You know, the children that turn into unrecognisable monsters when you say “time’s up” or “break time”…don’t tell me that’s only my children!

Today we went and saw The Minion Movie. Cute. Funny. Completely kidcentric!!! When we came home I knew the kids would all want to jump onto their iPads, or tablets, or PSwhatevers, but I had a trick up my sleeve. Last week on a Facebook post I saw a recipe for two ingredient moon dough. Curious, I clicked and read how easy it seemed. I’m linking to this post because I can’t remember the FB one I clicked!  All you do is add in some hair conditioner to cornflour and ‘presto’ ..moon dough. I didn’t quite believe it could be that simple. Until I did it!

20150710_135441_resizedWhat a great, clever idea! Here’s what you do:

1 cup Cornflour
1/3 cup Hair Conditioner

Mix in a bowl until 20150710_135557_resizeda ball is formed – hand over to child and watch them mould, fold, stretch, and shape it! It was so simple AND it smelt so good (because I used apple scented conditioner).

It gave the kids some time away from the screens (I 20150710_135641_resizedthink the first sitting was 45 minutes), and once I packed it into a ziplock bag, they came back to it later and played again. They used knives to slice it. Cutters to shape it. Hands to mould it! It was a great activity that didn’t cost anything (because we had the ingredients in the house!) AND there were no complaining about not being on technology!

So, next time you’re looking for a simple time out from screens activity, give it a try! Sometimes it truly is the simple things in life that are the most fun!

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Cupcake!

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When you don’t meet a challenge have you failed?

Recently I took part in an 80 day fitness challenge.

The idea was the exercise/move every day for 80 days in a row. Before you think that the idea is insane and rest days are important, one of the options was stretching, which worked well for ‘rest days’. It was also a fundraiser for a wonderful woman raising money for Cancer research.

I went into the challenge full of enthusiasm and had planned out a countdown of days. It looked intimidating, but totally achievable. I enjoyed moving every day, and at the beginning of the week I would set out my days and what movements I would be doing. I used YouTube a lot and am so addicted to “The Fitness Blender” and all their workouts. I got stuck into the kettlebells and the DOMS were feeling good. By about day 25 I started to feel stronger, and better. The online support group was great, and it was good to go in and celebrate movements.

There was an element of nutrition that came into it, such as introducing more fruit and veg, which I eat anyway, and trying to cut back on alchohol..bonboooong.. THIS one may have definitely was my demise with seeing complete improvement.

We planned a trip away for the weekend for my eldest, who turned 8. That’s when it all headed south (literally). I believe it was around day 52. We spent the weekend away and I didn’t make it a priority. That‘s basically what it comes down to. Poor planning meant that I neglected to do any movement, thus disqualifying me from the challenge.

Now..there are two ways this could go. I miss a couple of days, pick myself back up and keep going with moving every day (because I genuinely enjoyed the feeling!) Or…. drop it and forget all about it. Going back to old habits and neglecting what made me feel good. You can guess which one happened. I fell apart. All the planning, all the moving. It stopped. Do I regret it? I don’t regret it, because I feel it’s a genuine lesson. I think the lesson I needed is to keep small goals in mind. Not grand ones. Think small, achieve big. I was able to go for 52 moving EVERY day. That is HuGE. To me, that is an achievement I should celebrate. So.. I am celebrating the fact that I was able to meet part of a challenge, and whilst I didn’t complete it to get a ‘medal’ at the end, I know that I’ve learned an extremely important lesson to me.

Starting today, I am going to plan one week ahead. No further. I will write out my workout/moving plans and stick to them. I will celebrate small victories and although the bigger picture will always be hanging on the wall, I will choose to look at the snapshots that will create good habits, and allow me to continue on a journey of life, love, health, and everything in  between.

Do you have any favourite YouTube workouts? Do you have a secret to motivation? Is it motivation, or is it planning?

Charity Virtual Run

The Charity Virtual run I wrote about a couple of months ago is happening!

Right now I’m finalising the details of the website and Facebook page, as well as minor details with the charity of choice. Once I’ve done that I will be posting all of the details of entry and participation.

I’m also looking at medals and best ways of getting them for good quality at the lowest price (after all, I want the money to go to the charity, not into the bling!)

I am hoping for a wonderful and successful first round so we can make it a regular event! These virtual runs have been so super fun for my family. My 7yo son and I have just entered into a Star Wars themed one!!!! So Cool!

Keep a look out for the details soon.

On another note… I’m now going ON-campus to uni so life is going to be everything in between for quite some time! Wish me luck!