Colour me festive perspective

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Festive Perspective

Forget the tinsel around the tree

Or the gifts all wrapped up perfectly

Do not put the decorations in a pattern

Nor dress the children up in satin

Don’t worry about the twinkle lights

That will still sparkle on a summer’s night

But pause for a moment to reflect on our being

And take time out from disagreeing

Care not about silver that remains unpolished

For the Christmas pudding will soon be demolished

Enjoy the sound of the champagne flowing

And remark at the speed your children are growing

Who will remember the sparkling floors

Or that you exhausted yourself with chores

Don’t clip the dog before December

There is still time in January, if you remember

That person you missed on the social calendar

Will still appreciate your friendship and candour

Fret less about finding the perfect present

What you have will be more than pleasant

Do not lie awake at night stressing

Be grateful for life and all of its blessings

There are no perfect words upon a card

Don’t make the sentiment so hard

Concern yourself not with the ideal clothes

But delight in those you love the most

Fuss over the kids but give them perspective

Remember your words are most effective

Hug them hard as you tuck them in tight

For Christmas morning is a true delight

Lament not the early morning waking

But delight in the noise the children are making

Recycle the wrapping and clean the mess after

The delight is now so join in the laughter

Watch the children in wonder on their new wheels

And laugh in joy as you hear their squeals

Pop all the crackers and moan at the jokes

Wear paper hats with all the old blokes

Play backyard cricket and drop every catch

No one will remember who won the match

Sip on eggnog and nap on the sofa

Before too long the day will be over

Load up the car with children asleep

And file this memory as one you will keep

Bask in the wonder that is all love and kisses

And have yourself a Merry Christmas

Colour me back, baby. Maybe.

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There’s been a deathly silence here. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, in fact the opposite is true. I’ve been writing a lot. But I haven’t hit publish.

There’s been writing in my day job for GT Magazine and a bit for some friends’ blogs. Plus I have been emptying my head with my own words and feelings. Some days I want to share these and quite often, I don’t.

The truth is that emptying my head, baring my soul and sharing these often painful, confusing words here is both cathartic and exhausting. So sometimes I just don’t want to.

This is why, for the past little while, I haven’t shared. I’ve been content processing in my personal silence. This quiet space has been therapeutic for me.

I’ve always been a big sharer. An over sharer even. A great communicator. Perhaps I talk too much. Either way, I’m just being me.

But my head has been busy. My body has been reacting to some of the head stress I’ve put it under. There’s been the return of my adrenal fatigue and my sacral iliac joint pain meaning that my beloved running has been put on hold. Adrenal fatigue means my resilience is challenged so I’m less tolerant than usual and often unable to manage myself as well as I’d like.

Health wise, my Vitamin D fell through the floor so a quick trip to Bali and several months of drops should fix that. Plus I’m detoxifying excess oestrogen out of my body and boosting my GABA levels. It’s working but it’s slooooooow. There are days when I rock my own socks off and days when I can hardly get my socks back on.

A lot of this I can accept but it takes a lot of patience. I don’t think I was given a tremendously large supply of patience at birth. It’s not in my genetic makeup. But as they say, life isn’t meant to be easy. Some days it would be really nice if it was hey?

I’m gearing up for an awesome Christmas. I freaking love the festive season. But I do feel a bit like I’ll just fall over the finish line. It’s been a big year. They all seem to be big now.

We lost the Baker’s dad in January. I then spent two terms getting one of the kids through a tough personal battle. She’s blown me away with her resilience and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and parenting along the way. But it’s been stressful. Add to the mix a crazy sports schedule for the kids plus my own running. Then two kids had surgery in the past few months and one this week. I’m sure there’s more but I feel exhausted just listing all that.

So forgive my silence but it’s been great for my head. I’ll get back, baby but it’ll be at my own pace. In my own time. I can’t put deadlines on myself at the moment for my life is doing a fine job of that. I just want to manage my crazy well. That’s not too much to ask in my book. Managing crazy takes a lot of effort.

Colour me whatever colour you’d like. I’m not colouring myself today. I’m just grateful for a moment of silence for my head has it rarely. I’d like to sit in that quiet for a while.

Colour me a runner

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It turns out that I am a runner.

Today I am pooped. A 4am start and a 10 km run in the heat will do that to a gal. So will the bra chaffing that is as painful as it sounds. Big boobs + heat + sweat + running = ouchies.

In amongst my tiredness is a tremendous sense of achievement and pride. I am proud of myself, there is no doubting that, but I am proud of the whole running group that I trained with. But there were a whole posse of people who contributed to our collective success yesterday, whether we ran 10km, 21km or 42km.

There are coaches who guided us and fielded an avalanche of questions on nutrition, injuries, pace and general exercise related stuff.

There are families who allowed us a lot of time away to hit the pavement so early on Saturday mornings.

Then there are the amazing peeps who donated their pennies to River’s Gift in support of our run campaigns.

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If I am truthfully honest, I really detested yesterday’s run. Granted, not every run is fun. In fact, many of them downright suck. It is hard. It hurts. You get tired. You get injured. I could keep going but I won’t because you can have one awesome run and you forget all the crap runs. It is a weird little thing, this running gig.

But yesterday’s run really sucked. It was warm but not uncomfortably as we set off so early. It was the 10,000 other people that we had to run with that made it hard. If you can imagine the London Underground at peak hour, then imagine all of those commuters in lycra, then put them outside and make them Run, Forrest, Run and that gives you a bit of an idea. I had to concentrate so hard to make sure I didn’t trip myself or someone else over. I apologised several times to runners I elbowed. I tweaked my groin jumping down a gutter. I swore, I puffed, I panted and I just ran.

I didn’t run the time that I had in my head but shouldn’t have had in my head, because…no expectations. I doubt I could’ve run it anyway based on the single file around Brunton Avenue that made overtaking anyone a near impossible task. It was hard to find a rhythm. I have never wanted to see the finish line so badly. But you know what? I just fucking did it.

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I ran for River and that was what it was all about. It wasn’t about the heat or the chaffing or the time or the crowds, it was just about running for little River. That feeling right there, is better than the high I get from any run.

The Baker and the troops came up to watch but unfortunately missed me crossing the line. They were right there with an excellent vantage point but the sheer volume of people meant that they couldn’t see me on the other side of the finish line. But that is okay, for I know they tried their best. The kids donned their singlets and got into the spirit of things chomping down on smoothies and hugging Hope the elephant because, cute. And sunshine. Glorious sunshine that I hated in my eyes when I ran but loved afterwards. Sunshine on a Sunday is a simple but fabulous thing.

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I also met an awesome lady who Ran for River on her own steam. She fundraised like a boss and smashed out a half marathon in an impressive time. She reads this blog and came and said hello. Running helps you make friends and that is just another awesome reason to love it.

Will I run again? Absolutely. Will I run for River again? I hope so. There is the lure of the Great Ocean Road festival in May with a 14km or a 23km event. I am so tempted by the 23km. But adrenal fatigue and big distances don’t go well together so we’ll see. My calf is super sore today too so my foot and leg would have to behave. As would my head.

Running is both great and exhausting for my head so a fine balance is required. Running longer distances would make that much tougher to manage. Plus the Baker wants to run a marathon so it may be his turn to train. Life will work itself out. I don’t need to make any decisions right now.

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Two years ago when I first Ran for River (in the picture above), I injured my foot in the training campaign. I also hit the wall with anxiety, adrenal fatigue and a whole raft of shitty, grey, really, really hard to deal with feelings. The person behind that smile wasn’t holding it together at all. She was a messy, angry, stressed, busy ball of exhaustion. She had lost all of her resilience and confidence.

But she worked hard on herself. She overhauled her diet. She found Pilates, which is great for her injuries and her head. She found mindfulness and progressive muscle relaxtion and cognitive behaviour therapy and schema therapy and the ability to work on herself. She showed determination.

Although some days there seems to be a lot more grey than rainbow, she is running again and not just on the pavement. She is managing anxiety and depression and accepting life’s bumps and bruises. She has developed resilience again and slowly, her confidence has come back too.

So she drank to that. Because, hell yeah.

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Running for River definitely feels blue – calm + mindful. Rebuilding myself after breaking down screams red – confidence + bravado. A Sunday in the sunshine fills me with yellow – happiness + optimism.

But right now, I am colouring myself a runner.

 

 

 

Colour me an anniversary

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Today is a day worth acknowledging.

It is World Mental Health Day right in the middle of mental health week. It is time for us to open the conversation, break down the stigma and support each other in our journey. There are no intentional cliches but a call to action to demonstrate patience, empathy + understanding.

I was super lucky to join in the conversation as part of my speaker role for beyondblue along with Tony McManus. I was able to share my story of hope : resilience : recovery with some very lovely peeps in my home town.

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Amongst other things, the company I spoke at had introduced a pledge tree. I love this idea. Basically you write your mental health pledge on a card and hang it up for all to see. I pledged that am going to:

Live in the moment, forget yesterday and worry less about tomorrow

So far it is working. What is your pledge?

But the other reason for celebrating is that it is also a whole year since I was inducted as a beyondblue speaker. Yay me. Plus I turned 40 last month in a shower of anxious excitement. Then the month before that, my blog turned one and I did nothing about celebrating that.

Therefore, because there is so much to acknowledge + celebrate I have decided to put together a little pack of my favourite things. And you know what? You get the chance to win them.

All you need to do is tell me your mental health pledge.

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So what is on offer: Consider this a bit of a Colour me loving…collection.

1. Ribbon Ties : The Hairtie Bracelet with thanks to the lovely ladies at Collections. I am bit of fan, for those who know me in real life will know that I always have one on my wrist. They look fab, hold your hair really well and don’t leave that ponytail indentation.

Value: $20.00

2. Happy Socks : with thanks to the lovely ladies at Goose. In my darkest days, I chose my underwear as a start to get out of the grey. They still make me smile.

Value: $20.00

3. Mavericks laces : because I love to pimp my Rollies. And hello two pairs, yellow + blue. Love.

Value: $20.00

4. The Baker : actually, you can’t have him so I have managed to score some of the new preserves from La Madre. There is a spicy Tomato Kasundi for summer BBQs and Ruby Grapefruit + Lime Marmalade for breakfast zing. Plus some plastic dinosaurs : because, RAAAWWWR

Value: well, the Baker is priceless but the preserves are worth $20.00. The dinosaurs? They’re priceless too.

Total value: $80.00

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I like this little pack of happiness and I hope you will too.

All the best and colour you lucky!

And yellow. Because hello happiness + optimism!

 

The Competition

This is a game of skill. To win the Colour me loving… pack worth $80.00, please tell me your mental health pledge. All entries will be judged on their creativity by me. 

This prize is not able to be exchanged for cash.

The winner will be decided on Friday 17th October, 2014 at 8pm AEST. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours to my email, another winner will be chosen. This competition will be open from Friday 10th October 2014 at 3pm (AEST) and close on Friday 17th October at 5pm (AEST). This competition is only open to Australian entries. By entering this competition, entrants accept that I will email the winner with the email provided and publish their name subsequently here and on Facebook.

Colour me bonkers

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Well it is most definitely true that after the rain, comes the rainbow. I have been really struggling with the concept of acceptance and probably will for a little while longer. But it is one of those stages that I have to go through. A lot like anger after denial. I am doing the angry bit quite well. I guess it can be called a blip on the road to calm.

But in travelling over that blip, I have arrived in a much happier place. Yes, I am still exhausted. Yes, I still yell at the kids in the morning when getting ready for school. Yes, I still struggle to sleep some nights. But I have come to a very comfortable conclusion. My health is a hell of a lot better than I give it credit for. My armour of wellness is strong. So even with the dips and blips, I am in a great health space. I have put myself there through hard work, so I should really be proud of that.

The response to my last post has been phenomenal and the message is entirely clear.

Life is a beautiful mess and we are all just a little bit bonkers.

And that is okay. It is what makes us beautiful and unique and super dooper wonderful. I do believe the world would be a much more boring place without a bit of bonkers.

In fact, I am bonkers in more ways than one.

Firstly, I freaking love snowdomes. Daggy AND awesome.

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I don’t even remember when my obsession with them began. Now they are all over my house. My folks travel a lot so they are the main contributor to my collection, which is fortunate because they don’t make snowdomes for school mums. Who would buy a wonky statue of a woman clenching her teeth with whining children holding onto their legs as they carry all the backpacks to the car each night. And instead of snow, it would be filled with bonkers. Because that is exactly where the kids are driving you every day. I holiday in bonkers regularly.

The Baker tolerates my snowdomes but I don’t think he’d shed a tear if several of them ‘fell’ off the mantlepiece.

Secondly, I am ridiculously organised. I have lolly bags packed for birthday parties before I’ve sent the invites out. I meal plan. I online grocery shop because nothing sends me into panic more than supermarket shopping with four kids. Once I let the one fanged monkey free range after he threw an almighty tantrum about NOT being in the trolley. I nearly lost my foshizzle one hundred times over but did actually lose it when I found him wandering down the aisle with a two litre bottle of Coke in his arms. If he were able, there would have been a matchbox car in his grasp too.

But this obsessive organisation keeps me from going more bonkers so it is a quasi-bonkers trait. As long as I don’t go bonkers being organised for something so far in advance then bring that bonkers on.

Thirdly, I heart Halloween. No one else does except my kids and me. Well, that is not entirely true based on the very rad looking moving zombie bride I nearly purchased the other week. She wasn’t just rad, but freakin’ rad, plus she was super scary. She was eating an arm, as zombie brides are wanton to do, and her background music was bone chilling. The other scary thing about her was that she was seventy five bucks. I thought about it and then slapped myself across the face and purchased a glow in the dark skeleton instead.

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So my skeleton is pretty rad. Let’s call him Claude. Claude likes to hang out and tell bad jokes.

Why didn’t the skeleton go to the ball? Because he had no body to go with. Ba-Boom.

I was so looking forward to Claude hanging out with me this Halloween, scaring the little children and causing general mischief. But the Baker went a little bit bonkers last Friday night and booked a last minute trip to Bali. Clearly he didn’t consult me on dates because we fly home on Halloween. And all the flights out of Bali are overnight ones which will be scarier than anything Claude or the zombie bride can think up.

But I’ll be looking at this*, so really I probably won’t give a… (* This is the view of blue sky from my pool side lounge. The children will be perfectly behaved, applying their own suncream and playing quietly. I will be either sleeping, topping up on vitamin D or drinking a Bintang. Only one of these sentences is true.)

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The kids were devo when the Baker told them they would miss Halloween. No seriously, the nine year old was bawling. So I told her I was a bit devo too to make her feel better even if the truth is I AM a bit devo that Claude will have to hold off on the scaremongering for another year. Told you…bonkers. Let’s just say I may be able to pick up the zombie bride in the post Halloween sales. Who am I kidding, she’ll be gone. She IS that rad.

But I am curious to see what would happen if Claude accidentally ended up in my suitcase to Bali. Imagine what the x-ray screening guys would do if a skeleton showed up on their screens. “Um, excuse me lady, there appears to be a skeleton in your closet.”

Claude and I are ready to rock Canggu though. He even has his sunnies on. Plus he doesn’t need swimwear or suncream. By the way, sunglasses are super hard to put on a skeleton without a nose, which is why he looks like I have got him in a choker hold. Actually, I do have him in a choker hold because without muscles, Claude can’t hold his head up by himself. He is quite high maintenance actually.

I might leave him behind because I can’t balance Claude and a giant coconut water. It is absolutely, positively too much like hard work.

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In the glory of being a little bit or a big bit bonkers comes a fabulous ability to laugh at one’s self. Does anyone else feel like a tosser when they refer to themselves as one’s self? And did I put the apostrophe in the right place? But how refreshing is it not to take life too seriously for a change. Serious is soooo boring and a whole lot exhausting.

If being bonkers had a colour, it could possibly be green – clarity + understanding. Because you can’t laugh at your bonker-ness if you don’t understand what it IS that makes you bonkers. And if laughter had a colour, it would most definitely be a shade of bonkers.

But this post is frighteningly (get it, like scary?) yellow – happiness + optimism. I am learning to have the ability to stop for a moment and just let life be wonderful. To not over think everything. To be in THAT moment, whatever that moment may be. Because I am managing myself well. Because I am clearing my schedule. Because I am slowly saying no. Because I care about me.

And with Claude + the Baker, I really do have the best of both worlds.

 

 

Colour me a beautiful mess

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Right now, I am being forced out of my comfort zone.

I have always been so strong willed in my determination to find a way out of the grey and play in my happy rainbow filled world. That determination was paramount to my recovery and has been the foundation of my resilience. What I didn’t bank on was that I would fall back into grey or into panic when things got stressful or emotional or busy.

Actually, I probably knew deep down that I could slip back at any time. What I didn’t anticipate was just how quickly the mighty can fall. And that stumble, trip, stumble, trip is not just the path away from the very cranky bear but it is the path I will continue to travel today, tomorrow and always.

My hope after speaking for beyondblue was that I felt free from anxiety. Then just a few weeks later I had a panic attack. Then another. And now, I’m calm but a little bit melancholy and a whole lot less confident.

My confidence has been shaken. Adrenal fatigue has returned although I am not convinced it ever really left. And worst of all, my determination to beat anxiety is wavering and my body feels weary.

But in this attitude lies my problem.

I must accept that I won’t always beat anxiety. That the greys and rainbows and panic and melancholy are all part of who I am. And that is okay.

But I’m a bit angry about having to accept this. I am also frustrated along with a touch of I can’t be bothered to manage my anxiety anymore. I am pissed off that I am doing so much right but that things can still go wrong. And that just sucks.

The problem with this woe me attitude is that it is not dealing with the one thing that I need to confront. And that is feelings.

Fucking feelings. Damn you feelings. Good feelings and shit feelings and hard to deal with feelings and I just cannot be bothered to spend time on feelings.

I have spent so long working on how to manage my anxiety with the intention of not having it anymore. What I haven’t done is accept that anxiety is going to stay as a part of my life, that anxiety is me. The oddness of me writing these words isn’t lost. I genuinely thought that I had addressed these feelings but it has recently become glaringly obvious that I haven’t.

By accepting anxiety, instead of wasting my energy struggling with my thoughts and emotions, I can stop fighting against it. And by stopping fighting, I can stop exhausting myself. And if I am not exhausted, then I can take action. And with action, I can open myself up fully to what is right here and right now. I can be present and I can let go of the struggle in my life and my head as it is in this moment.

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I have some serious homework to do on this. However, I am good learner so I will do this well. I have to. In the meantime, I’ll spend time in the present and think about this:

I accept me for me.

I am a bit broken, a whole lot resilient and a colourful medley of calm + not calm.

A beautiful mess.

And I really shouldn’t expect me to be any other way.

So colour me all the colours of the rainbow. Colour me grey as I work through the melancholy. Colour me yellow as I find happiness on my path of wellness. Colour me green as clarity comes into my vision and guides me along the way. Colour me pink because it is lovely. Colour me blue as I remain calm on my journey. Colour me orange as I will need the energy to wade on through. Colour me red with confidence to carry on.

You can also colour me full of cliches for happiness is a journey, not a destination and that my journey of a thousand miles will begin with a single step.

And right now, I choose to step forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colour me 40

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On Saturday 14 September 1974, my dad played his last game of football. I know this because every year on my birthday he tells me it was x years since he played his last game of football. Legend has it that he was winning his grand final at half time when he found out that mum had a baby girl. The North Old Boys (acronym NOBS – yes, seriously!) went on to lose the match. Oops.

I am not convinced that the ghosty looking baby with the jet black hair is me but my mum promises it is. Although the wonky eye does look like mine.

Hello 40. It is nice to be here.

This day has been coming at me like a freight train for well, forty years (der). So I decided to celebrate it to within an inch of its ageing life. And what a celebration it was! But there was so much fuss about turning 40. Everyone asked me how I was feeling. I felt really good but then double guessed myself that I should be feeling something else. Was I supposed to feel good? Could the confidence that I am finding at 40 be a smokescreen and that the reality of being 40 was that life was just going to be shit. Or how about normal? Because to be honest, I am craving a bit of normal.

The truth is, right now at 40, I feel fucking fabulous. Well, mostly.

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My head is definitely the busiest it has been in such a long while. All of the emotions and waves of darkness and seriously shitty thoughts that are swirling around in my mind like a tornado are enough to rain on anyone’s parade. But a combination of dedicated progressive muscle relaxation and deep belly breathing along with a visit to my psych all helped me hold my shit together for the weekend. On the Friday beforehand I was a nervous wreck so much so that I had to do two lots of meditation just to get through Friday. Then another lot on Saturday morning and well, I was a Zen as a fucking fabulous forty year old could be.

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I had planned the weekend to perfection. My unrelenting standards (for all you CBTs out there) couldn’t have it any other way. A long table plus colourful bunches of ranunculus plus quirky plastic dinosaurs (just because) plus boxes of old school sugary treats like :

chico babies : spearmint leaves : fantales : pineapples : teeth : strawberries + creams

Judging by the chewing mouths on the bus on the way home, they were pretty popular!

I decided that I would drink champagne all day on Saturday with my 29 friends at a local winery. My theory was that I would get less pissed than if I drank wine. According to 29 friends, it was the most flawed theory known to man, but I had the last laugh when I was the one standing at midnight. I know, how’s the stamina?!

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But the reason I feel fucking fabulous is not because my head is an overanalysing mess or that I have lost weight thanks to a combination of anxiety and running or that I had an ace fake tan and an awesome blow wave. Not to mention a fabulous skirt that everyone patted throughout the day.

I feel fabulous because I feel really, really, lucky.

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I am lucky to have a bunch of beautiful friends who moved hell and high water to get kids minded and celebrated my birthday like it was their own. There were 45 small people being looked after for this to happen so I am under no illusion that it may have been the kid free party they were celebrating as well. But to me, it was another chapter in my #yearoffriendships2014 at its finest.

I feel lucky because I was able to celebrate my birthday in good health and happiness. This privilege has been denied to some of my own friends and their spouses so I am seriously fucking grateful to be alive. It probably formed the slightly (only just) serious side of my GT Magazine column that weekend. You can read that column here.

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I feel lucky for all the simple things like sunshine in September, great food, fabulous wine (and my champagne theory), sugar free cakes, laughter, boob jokes (there were many) and general happiness around a long table.

And I feel even luckier that the next day, my actual birthday, I got to brunch with my university buddy and her hubby. We left eight kids at home and had actual adult like conversations. And we drank a lot of coconut water (the champagne theory was dehydrating!).

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I feel lucky that this blog has been such an amazing experience where my inner most thoughts are both comforting to me and apparently interesting and comforting to others. That I was so overwhelmed with comments on all my social media feeds that I literally have not had the ability to reply to them. But that every single one was read and is genuinely appreciated.

I feel lucky that I spent the rest of my birthday weekend hanging out with my folks and the kidlets. My mum put on some fabulous food and I shared it with extended family and my godmother. We ate and laughed and ate some more, including another cake. And drank champagne.

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I just feel lucky punk. I really do.

So colour me lucky, which most definitely feels yellow – full of happiness + optimism.

And colour me normal + calm + fabulously 40.

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Some of the nitty gritty deets that I am sure some of you would love to know!

Venue: Clyde Park Vineyard – these guys also made the yellow sugar free chocolate cake and provided the most spectacular weather, views + service

Flowers: She’s a Wildflower

Dinosaurs: From the toy section at K Mart

Boxes + Decorations: Blank Goods

Outfit 1: Skirt by M&S, Tee by Sussan, Hair by Berdi

Outfit 2: Dress + shoes by Gorman but inspired by Style and Shenanigans

Cake with blushing bride: Miranda Jane Cakes (sugar, gluten + dairy free)

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