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My escape from Domestic Violence

!!!!TRIGGER WARNING!!!!

Please call 000 if you, or someone you know, is in danger

I have been trying to write this blog for over a year, and every time I tried, I would close the laptop, walk away and not return. I’ve never been shy in admitting that this blog started as a bit of therapy for me  -a way for me to talk about the things I have experienced and see if that could help someone else. So why publish now? I was scrolling through Instagram yesterday and I saw a young woman (quite influential in the social media world) stating that she “doesn’t feel sorry” for women who don’t leave an abusive relationship. She claimed that she doesn’t “feel sorry for these types of girls” and that they should “make something of their lives”. At first I was angry – and then I became saddened. Saddened because she was a woman not supporting other women, and saddened that someone who was being followed by  so many young women – was expressing such harmful and ill educated words. So NOW I will share MY story. It is not easy to read, it is quite confronting in parts, however I feel it shows WHY women don’t leave, even when they have the opportunity. It’s not always fear or finances that stop a woman leaving- it’s often the beleif that SHE is the problem, it is often because SHE has no self esteem left it is often because SHE doesn’t know how to live a life not being manipulated and controlled by this person and because SHE doesn’t even realise that she IS being manipulated, in the first place. So here it is and I hope beyond hope that if anyone else has the opinion of the above, unnamed, “influencer” that this provides a little bit of clarity.

As a little girl I would spend many hours a day dreaming about what my life would be like as an adult. In my fantasy world I was a famous stage and screen actress spending every day doing what I loved – performing. I was also married with two children and had a beautiful home that I had decorated myself with yellow and blue paint and lots and lots of dolphin pictures (I never said I was going to be an interior designer!) I was going to live happily ever after with a man who loved me and wanted me endlessly. I didn’t realise it then ,but I had 100% based the success of my dreams on whether I found a man to love me!

               In high school I had ‘boyfriends’ but nothing serious and no one I even really liked! At 14, in Year 9, I was asked out by a boy, who REALLY liked me and all though I didn’t REALLY like him – I liked that he liked ME. I thought it would be cute – someone to call of a night time, someone who wanted to hang around me and tell me I was pretty, and I think I liked the idea of a boyfriend, much more than I actually liked having one! I liked the idea of being loved, clearly something I hadn’t dealt with from childhood, and the way he REALLY liked me- well it made me feel good. He would write me love letters and leave them in my locker, bring me single stem roses, walk me to my train every day after school and often caught the train all the way home with me, to keep me company, and then catch it all the way home.  Every recess and lunch he was there, every day after school he waited for me, every night he would call and ask what I was doing and could he come along (even if it was shopping with my girlfriends!) and as much as I loved, feeling loved, I began to feel smothered. I asked him to tone it down a little and give me some space to spend some more time with my friends. I think I actually wrote it in a letter and the next time I saw him- he completely ignored me. As I walked past him in the school grounds , I would say hello, only to receive a death stare in response, he stopped calling, the little notes stopped and he had gone from obsessive, to completely indifferent! I was confused, but mostly I didn’t like how being treated as if I didn’t exist, made me feel. He soon let me know that he would not come second to my friends – I missed the way he made me feel when he wasn’t ignoring me, and I confused that with liking him. So, I let him back in and said sorry, and that was my first big mistake. He had waved a red flag, and I missed it or chose to ignore it and blame myself for making him upset.

The first time he “physically” hurt me was at school down the back of the school oval. I can’t even remember how it started or what we had argued about, but he pushed me – he pushed me so hard that I fell and rolled backwards into the fence. My peers were standing there when it happened, yet no one offered to help me up, no one told him not to do that, so I got myself up, dusted the grass off my school uniform and walked away, tears stinging my eyes and arms crossed protectively across my flat chest. I felt humiliated and worthless – no one cared so it must have been my fault…. right? I’m the piece of crap with no value that people were happy to look at in a heap, on the grass, down the back of the oval. He was older, much bigger and a bully…. but I blamed myself – I’d blamed myself for many things in my life that had happened prior to meeting this “man”, so I was going to be an easy target for this abusive person. This was the beginning of years of physical, sexual, emotional, mental and verbal abuse.

As time went by – I felt myself becoming increasingly dependant on him. If he ignored me at school, I would spend all day in a panic wondering what I may have done wrong and trying to do everything in my power to please him. Had I spoken to another boy? Had a looked at another boy? Did I forget to find him at lunchtime? Was there a question in his note I’d forgotten to answer??He knew my insecurities and would use them against me by pointing out other girls with his mates, whilst holding my hand, teasing my body whilst his mates laughed and teased it too. Slowly, little by little, my self esteem reduced to only valuing myself on his opinion of me and trying so hard to please him. Not just trying but actually needing him to want me and dreading the next time he didn’t.

If I ever defended myself or talked back – it would only end badly for me. Not just physically but emotionally too. If he didn’t hit me, he would ignore me, give me the silent treatment, look at me as though I disgusted him – and he’s all I had by now. I was treating my entire family terribly, sneaking out to see him, running away to stay with him and no longer had any friends. Sometimes he would hit me just because I’d talk about going back home. Sometimes he would hit me because I said I didn’t want to have sex. He would hit me until I “changed my mind” (yes…… your boyfriend CAN rape you)

The physical abuse was tough – I was tiny and 15, he was 16/17 and he would punch my arms, legs, hands and feet so no one would see my bruises (hands and feet don’t bruise easily but hurt A LOT) One time I remember we had gotten off the bus and he was so ANGRY at me ( I think I may have smiled at someone to be polite – a male) that his chest was heaving, his eyes were huge and wild and with all muscles flexed and his fists clenched – I was terrified! We made it to the beginning of his driveway, and I whimpered “I’m not going in there” – he stormed towards me, grabbed me by my hair and dragged me up the driveway spitting angrily as he yelled at me “you stupid whore!”. Once inside I was kicked down the stairs into his room, punched, strangled and stood on – all whilst his Dad sat on the lounge yelling “oi! Pack it in you two! Be quiet!”

That night I lay broken and bruised as he used me however he saw fit – as I was lying next to him in bed I was planning on climbing out his window whilst he slept and making my way back to mum and dads. Those thoughts were cut short as a knife was driven into the wall just above my head “don’t leave” – were the only words he said. I was still just a 15-year-old girl who was no longer day dreaming of a life on stage with the perfect house, children and marriage but daydreaming of a life where she celebrated her 16th birthday ( I honestly didn’t think I was going to live to that age)

So, at this point you are thinking – ‘you left then right?’ Sadly – No. The next morning, he showered me in love and affection and made me feel so special. He assured me that he only did these things because he loved me and if he didn’t love me so much, he wouldn’t hurt me. He explained that if I was different then he wouldn’t do it. If I could just change then he wouldn’t have to hurt me. So, I worked on being “better” so that he wouldn’t be driven to hurt me. It was a vicious cycle of abuse followed by his adoring love for the days that followed. I began to dread the abuse but long for the aftermath.

You must also be thinking “Surely people knew?!’ Some year 12 students commented on my upper arms bruises once, when I had to change into a dress for photography, but my excuse of being clumsy seem to hold them. His dad very clearly knew – but didn’t care, so added to my feelings of deserving it. He was sporty and popular, charismatic and funny – no one would EVER have suspected this of him. I dropped hints to my parents but what parent would ever think that their 15-year-old daughter was being abused by her 16-year-old boyfriend! I hoped that if my parents knew maybe THEY would believe me so, one cold winters night, I purposely wore summer pyjamas that showed my arms legs and chest (yes, I was bruised there too) and went into the kitchen where my dad was. He asked the question …. I told him the answer and, together with my mum,  they took me to the hospital and called the police. The ER doctor had a diagram of the female form and had drawn circles where I had new and old bruising, bumps lumps and scratches. They asked how I got the bruise on my chest and I explained I had been kicked. They showed me where the sternum was in relation to where I’d been kicked and said I was lucky to be alive. They asked about the light yellow, barely visible , bruises on my neck and I explained I had been strangled, naked on the floor, until I passed out. They said I was lucky to be alive. They asked about the bumps on my head and I explained that he would hit me on my head because he didn’t want bruises on my face to be seen. They said I was lucky to be alive. I then explained how I had pushed his buttons, that I started it  – that it was my fault. He loved me, if I wasn’t so emotional and mouthy he wouldn’t have done it. I was there being questioned, photographed and poked and prodded until daylight but I didn’t feel relief at finally revealing what I had been going through for the past year. I felt guilty! I felt like I had betrayed him and was so worried that he was going to get into trouble. I felt responsible and angry at myself for ever putting on those stupid pyjamas!

A restraining order was taken out against him and we had to attend school at different times. By now many people at school had heard the news and BLAMED ME! They were angry at ME! They thought I had made it all up as there was no way such an amazing guy could have done these things.  My parents seemed mad at me – I now realise they were going through their own grief – everyone at school was mad at me and the one person who I felt loved me , wasn’t allowed within 100 metres of me and I’d been the one to do it!

He found me one afternoon at the train station after school. He was there waiting and I was so happy to see him and see that he wasn’t angry at me for ruining everything and getting him into trouble!  he was crying and threatening suicide. He said he couldn’t live without me, that he was sorry, that we had both changed and it would never happen again. He told me would run away and live together, get married and have the babies I wanted – he even had a ring . I was so relieved that he wasn’t angry at me, I was so relieved to lose the feeling of guilt ,that I just walked right back into his arms. I left school and secretly lived in his bedroom, sneaking out to go to the bathroom only when his dad was asleep or at work. I ate dry bread and raw noodles because I was too scared to venture out of the room , in case I was seen. If I ever tried to break up with him or leave, he would threaten suicide or murder suicide, and in one instance even drew blood on his neck with a knife to prove his point.

I’d go for a walks, as I enjoyed the time to think, keep fit and daydream,  but he would follow me to make sure I wasn’t secretly meeting other men and I was too scared to go for a walk when he was at work, in case he found out, so I hid in the room. The abuse continued but started to become less and less often as I he now had full control of me under his roof. I had nowhere to go so he didn’t need to threaten me to not to leave -Every now and again I would be vocal in a disagreement and he would throw me around but he had started to become indifferent and I found myself WANTING him to hit me – I mean he said he only did it because he loved me and now, he wasn’t. Why? Didn’t he love me anymore? THIS is how much the abuse affects you mentally – your judgement – YOUR ABILITY TO JUST WALK AWAY

I was just 17 when I found out I was pregnant, and I was overjoyed. He was basically ignoring me now and I didn’t care because I was going to have my own little person to love and treasure and I was going to do a damn good job at raising her! In my head everything was going to be fine now, and we were going to be a happy family with 2 kids, a house and maybe a dog! I moved us out of his Dads house and into a family home and became quite the “Susie homemaker”, decorating the house (yep…lots of dolphins and yellow and blue!), cooking, cleaning, laundry – I loved it. He was barely home anymore – I suspected he was out cheating/having affairs but whenever I questioned him, he would yell at me for being so annoying and paranoid. He would tell me that I was crazy and then go back out again.

By the time my baby was 2 I had returned to part time modelling and acting, and this meek little mouse was making friends. He was happily off having affairs and leaving me alone, assuming I was trapped and not fearing I would leave. I had a very low opinion of myself and my worth, so still had doubt in my mind that he was cheating even though the evidence was overwhelming. When he finally admitted to sleeping with a stranger next door, I told him to leave and told him we would talk about it another day, just to calmly get him out of the house. He came over one night to “talk” and when he realised, I was standing my ground and wanted this relationship over, he hit me so hard I temporarily lost my hearing and couldn’t see straight. I wasn’t expecting it as he hadn’t hit me for so long and very rarely in the face  – but I felt different inside. Having a baby girl to look out for I was angry and was not going to let this happen again!  He tied me up like a dog and slept on and off – letting me go to the bathroom but not letting me close the door – which humiliated me but I kept quiet as I needed him to leave. My daughter was coming home from a sleep over at her grandparents and I didn’t want her, or my parents to see me like this. I was embarrassed and ashamed and yet I felt STRONGER than I had in the past.  I kept the peace temporarily the next day so he wouldn’t hurt me , BUT I was fighting back! I had the fire in my belly because now I was a MOTHER, now I had WORTH, now I had PURPOSE, now I had so much MORE to fight for, other than myself (although myself was ALWAYS enough) I had to teach my daughter about love, respect and what strong independent women looked like and I couldn’t do that unless I WOKE UP! 

It wasn’t easy breaking the chains from this relationship. I had those days where I felt guilty again, where I temporarily believed his words that things would be different if he came back, where I longed for the love and the fantasy family in my head. I struggled with my own identity and I struggled with his harassment, verbal and mental abuse that continued post break up. But I finally let my family back into my life and with their support I stayed strong. I continued to work part time and saw a doctor for my mental recovery (which is still a work in progress) and I just enjoyed my little girl and the new friends I had made.

At 23 years old, 9 years after it all began, I was finally free! He eventually left us alone completely immersing himself in one-night stands and football and stopped turning up to his supervised visits (I never stopped him from seeing his daughter and he even had legal scheduled supervised visits) – He never answered another text message, never returned another phone call and I never saw or heard from him again.  I know he received a suspended sentence a few years later for  holding his girlfriend hostage in her house and physically and sexually assaulting her and I could only shed a quiet tear for that poor girl and her shattered soul. I had been that girl…. but I wasn’t anymore! 

Not everyone has the support that I did (family) but there was no social media back then, no support groups, no google and I had no clue where I could go for help.. So, I share this story knowing that someone may be in a similar situation reading this.. Maybe a mother is recognising something from this article in her own child (daughter OR son), or maybe they WERE me and escaped too but are feeling lost. Escape and reclaiming YOU is possible – you are not a slave to his abuse for the rest of your life I promise!

There is life after Domestic violence – an amazing life. It might not be all lollipops and rainbows (or dolphins and blue paint) but it is a real life full of joy and love and purpose and its waiting for you. You don’t have to do it alone – please see the below links (Australia) or reach out to your loved ones.

Much love

xoxo

1800RESPECT – open 24 hours. Call or visit the website and chat online

LIFELINE –   13 11 14

White Ribbon – Click here to be taken to the domestic violence hotline pages

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When anxiety strikes, unexpectedly

59473189_320341045294421_875625664219185152_nIt begins with a sense of impending doom. My heart rate increases, my mouth becomes dry like it’s made of chalk. I begin to sweat and my body breaks out in goosebumps. I start to feel nauseous and my head starts to pound from the pain of my tense body and clenched jaw. Noises become louder and a bit of a blur, there’s a dull ringing in my ears and my heart is beating so loudly I am sure other people can see it physically pulsating out of my chest wall. There is a fear of humiliation- that everyone knows I am panicking and that I will vomit/pass out or be trapped whilst very publicly having an attack. I will do anything to make it go away, I am scared, I feel crazy and I even feel I could possibly die. I can’t handle the feeling, its like butterflies in my tummy but replace butterflies with large birds – I can’t calm down and I just want it to stop.

This describes anxiety for me and, if you’re reading this, possibly for you too. One thing I have learned from having anxiety most of my life is this – there isn’t always a trigger and it can hit when you least expect it. There are times I KNOW I’m going to be anxious – attending an event alone, job interview, modelling job casting/booking, meeting new people and even, like today, waiting for my daughter to come back from her driving test! Usually the anxiety for these events is building in the weeks, days, hours leading up to it and I am somewhat prepared and have a plan of action in place. But what about those times that anxiety strikes and you aren’t expecting it? For e.g. –  I woke at 4am the other morning panicking about……I wasn’t entirely sure! I was extremely nervous and feared I had embarassed myself the day before, or that I said something I shouldn’t have , to someone? That sense of impending doom and fear of humiliation had somehow struck when I was SLEEPING?! I have had times when I have experienced it in a shopping mall for no apparent reason and I didn’t know what to do. I liken anxiety to the mean girl at school who knows everything you’re afraid of and all your insecurities and uses them against you. When you’re panicking it’s like this mean girl is inside your head validating your irrational thoughts and fears. She is the only voice you can hear in a very noisy room, when in the throes of a panic/anxiety attack. The not knowing what to do, in this situation,  is terrifying so I’ve put together a little action plan, we can all implement, when anxiety strikes unexpectedly.

Step 1. Calm your breathing. When experiencing anxiety our breathing becomes short, sharp and shallow. This contributes to our fear and feeling of choking/dying/being out of control. Breathe deep into your diaphragm ensuring your stomach expands like a balloon, not your chest. Breathe in for three seconds, out for four seconds – do this 5 times.

Step 2. Tense all your muscles- concentrating on one muscle group at a time and then release. Start from your toes and work your way up slowly to your face/head.

Step 3. You’re internal dialogue is imperative here – remember that mean girl we talked about earlier? It’s time to tell her to be quiet! This is when you need to remind yourself that what you are experiencing is anxiety, that it will pass and that you are NOT going to die. Do NOT reprimand yourself with negative self talk, just be with it and your feelings and know it will pass.

Step 4. Distraction – All of the above is a form of distraction, but if you are in such a state that you cannot initiate these, then distraction is key. Touch something cold and concentrate on that feeling, count to 100, find five objects around you and list them in your head.

Step 5. Smell – Carry an oil, or scent that you find calming, with you at all times (just a small vial to fit in your purse, or even something around your neck) Lavender is a popular choice and you’ll find, if you have this smell around you when your practice mindfulness or meditation, your body will associate it with calm – even when you’re panicking

Step 6. Call someone you trust – tell them what’s happening and describe your symptoms. This helps you to recognise that they are just feelings and by recognising them you can let them go.

Step 7. IF you can- walk it off.  Sometimes there is a build up of adrenaline and walking not only helps to remove this excess it also encourages deeper breathing

I plan on doing another blog on steps to PREVENT anxiety from occurring however I feel this needed attention, as its the unexpected panic attack that , I feel, can be the most debilitating.

And remember……… no panic attack ,in history, has  lasted forever – it will pass and sometimes just letting yourself feel what you’re experiencing and letting it pass by, is enough.

Do you have your own experiences with anxiety? Some tips you can contribute to our growing community? I would love you to share them by commenting here –  Gold Coast Musings.

Much Love

Ness xxx

 

 

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We’re NOT here for your entertainment!How women are seen by men needs to change – and it starts with us!

TRIGGER WARNING – CHILDHOOD ABUSE

I’ve been holding in so much ANGER, of late, around the way women are treated by men. What has made my anger boil over is how I see women treat other women. This anger ultimately resulted in a lot of self reflection, on my part, revisiting the past to understand myself and the reasons for my feelings better and this resulted in this blog. I spewed so many feelings onto this page and kept veering off into other topics and had to keep coming back and editing. It still is a bit of a mish mash of various issues – but this is the gist of how I feel and it is what it is.

From the age of 3, until the age of 8 (which is when I told my parents), I was abused by a trusted male. Despite having supportive, loving parents who ensured I received treatment and therapy for years after – my life, my outlook, my BRAIN was changed forever.  Research suggests that surviving adults of childhood abuse have a higher risk of substance abuse, anxiety, depression and impulse control – due to actual physical changes in the brain development(verywellmind.com) So it makes sense the choices I made in the future and the situations I put myself in – all come back to the trauma I experienced as a child.

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Me around the age I told my parents
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Me aged 6

From such a young age I was taught that I was purely a sexual object. I was exposed to things that no child should be exposed to and thus viewed myself in a very different way to most children. As I grew up I was hyper sensitive to women around me and what men would say about them. I took it all in – every wolf whistle, every comment about a womans body, every rating out of ten she was given, every disgusting comment uttered about what the “man” would like to do to this woman. I heard it all around me and I even started getting wolf whistles at around 11 or 12 years of age – from VERY GROWN MEN. The boys at school had gorgeous busty women on their school diaries and stuck all over their bedroom walls – this told me that this is what was desired. I was mocked for my ‘curveless’ body, teased for my lack of breasts and this constantly reinforced the feeling ,that I was not good enough ,unless I was sexually useful or appealing to a man. I was told by a few guys at school that they “liked” me – but that they knew they wouldn’t ‘get anywhere’ (obviously sexual!!) with me so didn’t want to date me. Again – you’re no good to me unless you’re providing sexual benefit. Women in Tv, magazines, billboards  – everywhere I looked there were sexy curvaceous women who , in my eyes, mattered because they met societies “ideal”. I began a relationship in highschool at age 14 and seeked this persons approval so much. I needed to be desired – I mean it was my role right? That’s all i’d ever been exposed to as a girl. The first time this person hit me I was only 15 – but I am leaving that story for another blog, as it deserves full attention, – but it is relevant as it added to my feelings of being  worthless and useless and I continued to value myself based on my looks and ‘desirability’ to men, for years to come.

When I had my daughters I was adamant that I would raise them with different views – I protected them fiercly from potential predators and ensured that they believed in themselves as strong, kind, smart, beautiful women who didn’t need a man to complete their life and to treasure their virginity and sexuality with everything they had. To not seek attention from boys in order to feel good, to dress for themselves and not for a man, to stay strong and believe in themselves and their WORTH which had nothing to do with how their body looked, or what they did sexually.

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Me and my 3 STRONG, INDEPENDANT daughters

They were still exposed to the boys at school teasing their bodies, the boys at school talking about other girls in a derogatory fashion. They were still wolf whistled at from a young age, approached by men, gawked at, honked at, had sexually explicit things said to them, touched without their permission in public places and still privy to the horrible things that happen to women in this world. But they are strong! Their beautiful brains were able to develop in childhood and their impulse control was much stronger than their Mummas was.

Just recently, one of my daughters, had her body commented on , by an older male who should know a lot better.  She was told, and I quote “this is not what men like. Men don’t like this kind of body, you need to put some weight on. Men like girls with curves”. Ummmmmm what?! Excuse me?! Her response I was so proud of, she shrugged her shoulders, lifted her chin proudly and said “Oh well! I don’t care what men like!” and walked off. We had a big talk about what had happened and I reminded her of the words I have shouted from the roof tops ever since Pink released her song “U+ur hand” –

I’M NOT HERE FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT!!!

We are NOT here solely to entertain men – how we look, what we wear, how much, or how little, make up we wear the colour of hair, the length of our hair (or hemlines) are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!! We live in a culture where women are expected to look a certain way, dress a certain way and to maintain a certain “appeal” whilst pregnant and then to “bounce back” from having a baby, go to work, look good, maintain the house – in other words DO IT ALL and look good doing it……..then provide porn worthy sex at the end of the day! And if we don’t? We hear “if he doesn’t get it at home – he will get it somewhere else”, “Oooohhhh mate, six weeks without sex….wanna come to the strippers?” – and again it is reinforced that unless we are sexually available to men we are not worthy. Our own husbands, or friends of our husbands are the ones saying this!

So how do we change this? Well you’d think it would be with women. That women would band together and support one another and make a stand… but whats happening? Welll….. not that!  Social media means this view society has of the “ideal woman” is being thrown at us everywhere, every day and it’s not just men degrading women….its other women too! Thanks to social media our female counterparts are becoming keyboard warriors and bullies wth increasingly damaging and insulting shaming comments being made. These are a small example of some of the comments I have heard, or seen online.

Oh my god! So skinny! Yuck! Men want a woman with more meat!”

“No curves! Too skinny! She looks anorexic!”

“Omg look at the size of her butt. Who would want an ass that big? Does she actually think that looks good?!”

“Ha ha she has no boobs. Real women have curves”

“All these fake plastic women with boob jobs. So gross – just love yourself for who you are.”

“Marilyn Monroe – now that’s a REAL woman!”

“She is so fat. She looks disgustinging”

“Put it away!’

 

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I see this, and similar, memes posted by WOMEN often.
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society dictating to us what is “sexy” and it’s constantly changing!

This is just a very small sample – I have seen every body type under the sun scrutinised and insulted by fellow WOMEN and it has got to STOP!

The change we all want so much….. IT STARTS WITH US! Forget men, for the moment, how we talk to each other has to change and it has to change now! Whatever our reason for commenting on another womens body in a negative light, whether it be our own lack of self esteem, our sheep mentality, or just an actual case of bitchness – STOP! Walk by, Scroll past and if you feel the need to say something – say it in your own head and then reprimand YOURSELF and change your thought patterns.

Think of what we are teaching our daughters and not just our daughters……. our sons! We place so much emphasis on how men raise their boys and to be careful how they talk about and treat women but what about us?! As women, as mothers we can LEAD THE CHANGE  – we can teach our sons it’s not okay to talk about womens bodies in a derogatory or sexual manner, we can monitor what they watch and we can lead by example by not insulting women ourselves! How are we supposed to teach our daughters to not put up with bullying or body shaming, if the women around them are doing just that?! How are we supposed to teach our Sons TO NOT body shame women, or talk of them in a purely physical sense, if the women around them are doing just that?

I could honeslty talk forever on this topic, as I am so passionate about it – but I will leave it here with this final thought –  there is a popular quote – “Empowered women Empower women” but  i gotta say –

“empowered women raise empowered men and empowered men empower women too!”

 

Much Love

Ness xo

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Maxi Dress – Model Vs Me

Things can get a bit deep and serious here on GCM – and after some requests for more fashion posts ,on Instagram, I decided to put together this blog and lighten things up, in between discussing the serious issues.

I don’t know if its the humid Gold Coast climate, the fact I hate wearing a bra or knickers, or my desire to feel like a Boho princess, but I lurve a maxi dress. There is a huge section of my wardrobe dedicated to various floaty long dresses, with the odd cute shorter one thrown in for good measure. For some reason I am always being asked where I get my dresses from, not just online, but out and about as well. Whilst I do have my favourite shops – I am NOT a brand snob and am a fan of what I like, not what label is attached to it. I also love a sale…… I very rarely buy anything at full price and appreciate quality and VALUE.

So below are some examples of the dresses I get asked about the most and a couple of new ones that I have tried on, styled and compared to the “model” pic. This is important for me, as I know I personally like to see things on real heighted people, not 6′ professional models, in professionally edited pics!

Let’s open this with two dresses I was sent from @rubydollco

  1. Amara Dress $59.95 (rubydoll.com.au)50324528_528009654376830_2240063184188735488_nI loved the colour and fabric of this dress  the second I saw it and I KNEW it was a versatile dress I would be able to style in many different ways. This piece is easy to layer and the options are endless. A midi length with a removable waist sash, you can also adjust the length of the torso, via the tie straps. You can view how I styled the Omara dress on my IGTV channel- One Dress Three Ways
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    Model (5’9) vs Me (5’5)

    The online image of the dress, matched what I received and I will definitely purchase from this store in the future.

2. Tahyna Maxi Dress $49.95 (rubydoll.com.au)

50539574_539672786530086_4983938298624868352_n This dress is such a gorgeous colour and pattern, with a super flowy vibe and, whilst not lined, it is NOT see through and moves beautifully.

At only 5’5 this one was too long for me to wear with flats, but perfect with heels or wedges. It has a dressier feel (the fabric is silkier and thus – feels more luxe) – I added a silver waist belt and heels, however there is an adjustable drawstring in the midline of the dress which can be as loose or as tight as you’d like. This would actually make a stunning dress if you were pregnant, due to the looseness of the design and the ability to keep the drawstring untied for a growing belly (hell to the no…… I am not going there again!)

Again the Model Vs Me pic shows that this label is very accurate in their online depictions of their dresses – which I have a lot of respect for, as there is nothing worse than buying online and receiving a dud! I would recommend going down a size when ordering this dress online.

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Model vs Me

3. Frankie Dress – Marigold $89.00 (Seven Wonders the label)

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Model vs Me

This was a gift from my husband for Christmas, that he purchased from White Bohemian Store Palm Beach I was pleasantly surprised by his choice and love that the length is not super mini (comes just above my knee). It is cool, fully lined and yes those are REAL buttons – so breastfeed away mummas! This is a fun, flirty and flattering number, that would suit most body types. I include a little white cami under this piece, if heading out with the family.

4. THE Yellow Dress $29.99 (valleygirl.com.au)

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No Way! I hear you saying….. but totes yes way. I don’t even know the official name of this dress but I refer to it as “THE yellow dress” as I cannot count how many times I have been asked on Instagram and also in real life – where I purchased this dress from!

It is well made, it is a thicker cotton with concealed zip and buttons, lace details and a perfect maxi length for this little smurf! And yep….it’s from bargain chain store Valley girl. As I said, I purchase what I like, not what the label says, and I HAD to have this dress. I treat Valleygirl a little bit like an op shop – the stores are huge and a muddle of sizes, styles and colourways. You have to rifle through the racks and occasionally you will bag yourself a great piece at an even greater price. This dress was hanging on a rack – all by itself – with a swing tag reading $29.99 – IN MY SIZE! So there it is folks – this adored dress was a lucky find, I’ve never seen it since and I’ve never seen it online BUT the moral of this story is…..don’t be a brand snob or you might miss some little diamonds.

5. Gingham and Heels (ginghamandheels.com)

This is my #1 go to store for maxi dresses and I have shopped at Gingham and Heels for years and years. The majority of their dresses are true to size, good quality and have the ability to be dressed up or down. Many of their models are also quite short, and they will list the height of their models on each listing. Two of the dresses pictured below have been in my cupboard for 4 years and are in as new condition and I still wear them now. There are similar styles still online, just different colours and patterns (it’s a timeless cut)

I have so many more dresses by this label, these are just a few on regular rotation, and I will continue to shop here as long as the quality remains the same.

 

So there it is – I will be releasing more of these blogs, featuring the Model Vs Me, comparisons with a true and unbiased review of various brands and styles.

Let me know what you would like to see in the next piece and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @gold_coast_musings

Much Love

Ness xo

Uncategorized

Body Image – How to deal with the darker days

 

Body Image

In early 2017  I was feeling in a better, healthier place, than I had for a long time. I jumped on my phone in bed and started scrolling through Instagram trying to find “someone” to follow and support, someone I could relate to. Through out my search I found lots of young, gorgeous , girls and women with perfectly edited pics or weight loss journey profiles, heaps of fitspo and athletes or Pt’s, an insane amount of bum and bikini shots and occasionally I came across an Ed recovery page, however the pages I came across were melancholy and quite negative or spouting unhealthy, triggering captions and not what I wanted to see on my feed. I wanted to see a strong, older woman in recovery, who understood what I was going through and could maybe show me the light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted “real”, I wanted “raw” and I wanted to read about her journey. I guess I was feeling alone and whilst many of the profiles and pages I looked at were visually appealing, I couldn’t find one that fit what I was looking for. Despite my hours of searching – I never found what I was looking for and the crazy thought entered my mind – Why cant I be that person? If I can’t find someone, maybe others are searching too? And then of course the fear crept in and the negative self talk began; “No one will care”, “Who do you think you are?”, “You are going to embarrass yourself”. But I didn’t listen, I continued to work on myself, I wrote things down as I continued my healing, with the hope that one day I would have the courage to share my story with others and maybe, just maybe help one person.

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My first public post

On the 27th July 2018 I shared a side by side photo on my Instagram  and pressed publish on my first blog post A battle within . My hope was that just maybe there was another “me” out there searching the ‘gram, just like I had, trying to find someone going through what they were.

The response was not one I expected, and I cried with emotion as the messages and emails came in from other ‘Journey to Health Warriors’, who had found what they needed in that post. One DM sent via Instagram ,that will stay with me forever, was from a gorgeous soul who wanted to tell me that because I had the courage to post that piece, she had the courage to eat that day. That’s it – that’s all I wanted – to be the light for just one person!

So that brings me to today – the beginning of 2019. I have posted about my eating disorder, and recovery, a few times and touch on the importance of living a positive life, often. One of the questions that keeps popping up is “How to you love yourself after the weight gain?”  Weight gain isn’t always a part of recovery, as extreme weight loss isn’t  always a side effect of an ED. We tend to associate eating disorders with the skeletal frames displayed in the media – but absolutely anyone of ANY body shape or size can suffer. Whether it is over eating, under eating, bingeing, bingeing and purging, or obsessive thoughts about food – an eating disorder is simply disordered thinking around eating and food.

That being said, the people who have asked the question, are those who are following my journey and tend to be on a similar one, so they may have gained healthy weight as a part of recovery and are struggling with their healthy new body, or may just be lacking the ability to love themselves the way they are.

So below I have listed the things that have helped me on those darker days. Those days where you feel like all those steps forward are useless, as you want to be back where you were. You want to do what you know, what feels safe and comfortable – but we FIGHT those days ❤ It’s worth mentioning that many of these steps can apply to anyone in any type of situation, and if you find yourself here reading this and feeling connected to it – then maybe these will help you love yourself a little bit more too.

  1. Get RID of the clothes that no longer fit. Give them away, sell them, donate them, bin them. I don’t care what you do with them – but get them out of your cupboard and enjoy shopping for some new clothes ❤
  2. Get involved in some sort of fitness that you enjoy (not too much cardio), that makes you feel empowered.
  3. Thank your body EVERY day for what it is doing for you – it is keeping you alive! That blood is flowing through your body, your heart is pumping 25/7, you move freely , you are of sound mind, you can see, you can hear, you can move, you have working legs and arms that can hug your loved ones- feel love for your body everyday for that.
  4. Practice gratitude and positivity – check out my guide to leading a positive life here Creating a positive life – this is HUGELY important!
  5. Keep busy – Distract yourself, be social, go for walks, spring clean the house.
  6. Surround yourself with the RIGHT PEOPLE! I can’t stress enough how important this step is. A big part of my recovery was cleansing my life of some toxic people and environments, to really honour myself and my health. And it can be hard – the person that is toxic to you, might be well liked by those around you. But what YOU need, is all that matters. You need positive, strong, generous, kind, self loving women around you – and they need you right back, because that is what you are BECOMING ❤
  7. Dance naked – yep….you read that correctly! Allow yourself some time alone, take off  those clothes and move your body in front of the mirror. I found that when I stood and looked at my body I would nit pick the parts I didn’t like and the parts that needed to change – never ever did I look at what I loved. One day I just started dancing telling my mind to be quiet and you know what? Cellulite, dimples, bones, rolls, stretch marks, freckles, creases, scars….. I wasn’t starting at them I was seeing the whole package – an able body that moved fluidly and was kinda cute – even with the parts my mind was telling me to hate.
  8. Remember you are human, you are healing. A bad day does not mean a full blown relapse – contact your support person (whoever that may be) and tell yourself ” I am STRONG, I am LOVED, I am ALIVE, I AM WORTHY”

Self love takes TIME, and believe it or not it takes PRACTICE. On the days where I am not loving myself – the above steps help bring me up out of the depths of negativity and back into the land of the living, the grateful, the positive.

I am NOT a professional and this is just my experience. I highly recommend professional help, if you do not already have some in place. Eating disorders are psychological illnesses, best treated by a professional.

Your local GP is a fantastic starting point, as your physical health also needs to be monitored. Your GP can also help you with a mental health and treatment plan.

Please know that you are not alone, you are an amazing woman worthy of love and there is hope and life after ED

Thank you for joining me on my journey – it means the world to me. We are in this together my fellow Journey To Health Warriors (JTHW)

Much Love

Ness xoxo

Please view the helpful links below or if an emergency please call 000 (Aus)
https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/ -support for eating disorders and body image issues
https://www.nedc.com.au/ – eating disorder resources and information
https://www.lifeline.org.au/ – crisis support

Uncategorized

Creating a positive life

48374595_352702208643247_3080087477944320000_n“Nothing changes, if nothing changes” – Vanessa Haldane

People with a good job, good circle of friends, loving family and who are genuinely happy are lucky, right? They’ve just been handed everything in their life, haven’t they?

!WRONG! And if you are someone who thinks this way, then I am glad you have visited this blog – we need you here ❤

I am often told that I am “lucky” and whilst I feel incredibly blessed, luck ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. Luck didn’t create a successful home business, luck didn’t create a loving 18 year relationship, luck didn’t create work, modeling and influencer opportunities, luck didn’t bring me my health and fitness and luck sure as heck didn’t buy me my home or raise my children! Hard work, commitment, persistence and most importantly POSITIVITY  changed my life in an amazing way.

I have not always been this “happy’ – in fact, up until my 30’s I had a real victim mentality. I was bitter about the struggles I had been through in my life, the situations I had been in and the horrible events that had occurred in my life. I thought I deserved MORE, that I deserved BETTER and I expected “more’ and “better” to just happen – to magically appear in my life. It doesn’t work that way…. change takes time and it takes- well….. CHANGE.

Here I have a little guide, some tips, if you will, to how you too can change your outlook and create a positive life. This change will bring you happiness in abundance – so don’t start next year, dont start next week, don’t even start tomorrow – start NOW.

  1. DECISION – The first step – You have to make a decision – today – to become more positive and to make some , very difficult, changes. Negativity not only affects your mental health but also your physical, promoting more stress and illness!
  2. BE GRATEFUL – Lose the attitude of entitlement. It is practically impossible to lead  a happy and positive life when we are focussing on what we lack in our lives, and not appreciating what we already have. Start the practice of finding just ONE thing in your day, that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as being grateful for the sunrise or the cool breeze on your walk to work. Starting a Gratitude Journal can really help. Kiki K have some fabulous ones, but a simple notebook from Kmart is also perfectly fine!  Kiki-K Gratitide Journal
  3. LAUGHTER AND RESILIENCE – Sounds like a weird combination but , trust me, they go hand in hand. Are you easily offended by little jokes or light sarcasm? Try building up a little resilience and laughing more often. I’m not talking about a nasty or passive aggressive joke or comment, I’m talking about a light joke. Try laughing (fake it til you make it!) instead of becoming offended and learn to laugh at yourself and your silly mistakes instead of berating yourself 🙂
  4. DO FOR OTHERS – Doing something for others creates a sense of purpose and self worth. Start small by complimenting a friend or stranger, help someone solve a problem, hold open a door for someone and work your way up. Maybe eventually you can volunteer at a local charity or help a local family fundraise during a tough time.
  5. SELF TALK –  This is a huge one! Have a think about how you talk to yourself; Would you talk to your friends the way you talk to yourself? No? Then change it! This was really hard for me to do, and it took me ALOT of time and ALOT of practice. I constantly put myself down so instead of saying “I’m so weak! I sucked at that workout!” I now say “I’ve come so far, today was hard and I am proud of myself for turning up!”. If you’re like me, you may say the negative first – just make sure you follow-up with a positive ,to slowly change your mindset.
  6. RELATIONSHIPS – We become who we surround ourselves  so CHOOSE wisely. Yes I said “choose” – you decide who you spend your spare time with so limit your time with those who put you down, put others down, constantly negatively self talk, are victims or narcissists.  Instead, surround yourself with people who empower you to be better, love you for you and have a love and zest for life that just makes you smile.
  7. VICTIM MENTALITY – Stop being a victim! You are responsible for your thoughts and you are responsible for your actions. Life is about choices and we have all made bad choices that have resulted in a negative outcome. Own it, learn from it, move on from it!

“Become the happiest most positive person you know”

Remember that Nothing changes, if nothing changes and this includes relationships, work, fitness, food, health and… YOU.

Much Love, Ness xoxo

 

Uncategorized

Married With Children

In 2000 I met him – our eyes locked and it was instant. There was an indescribable connection and level of attraction I didn’t expect on a first interaction. From the second we met we laughed, whether it be at each other’s  Ace Ventura impersonations or our similar sense of sarcasm – we have been affectionately teasing each other daily, for 18 years!40676873_2217515991813839_6717800700346105856_n

We often get asked what our secret is – how have we stayed so happy? The truth? We aren’t always happy and it hasn’t been “easy”. Partnership of any  kind requires patience, compromise and compassion. There are times where you get so sick of each other you just want to move out – normal. There are times when their quirks and habits drive you to the point of insanity – normal. Normal looks different for everyone, for every coupling – so what has worked for us may not work you. However one thing I know for certain – you CANNOT go into a relationship with a fairytale view of how it will be. Those first six months when you’re endorphins are making you giddy and you’re getting to know each other – starting to fall in love; that doesn’t last forever. That’s why it’s often referred to as a honeymoon period. It’s a magical moment in a relationship when time seems to stand still, you experience new things, go on amazing adventures together, sex is often and new and fantastic, those hormones are raging and there’s nothing but excitement and promise for the future. Then you move in together, perhaps get married, and maybe you start planning that first baby, that first new home build or new home purchase – but then what?  Then life becomes repetitive, you incur debt, you might have children and suddenly everything feels quite mundane, boring – like Groundhog Day. This is when many people may start seeking that feeling, that they experienced in the early years, elsewhere. They chase that rush of endorphins that loved up feeling without thinking of the consequences – the old “grass is greener. But – instead of chasing that we need to WATER OUR OWN GRASS , we need to find peace and gratefulness for the mundane ,the routine. To be grateful for the fact we are lucky enough to experience this “boring” life with someone else and to work TOGETHER to keep each other happy in order to grow old without killing each other off. Gee I make it sound so desirable don’t I?! But its TRUE! When you spend 18 years living with ANYONE, not just a spouse, you’re going to get on each others nerves, you’re going to want space and alone time – it DOES NOT mean you don’t love each other anymore.40587477_2147261418933406_781899191373791232_n
So how have we lasted so long? Theres no magic trick – as I said – every coupling will be different and you need to communicate along the way.

But here are some tips we’ve discovered along the way – that have helped us stay together for nearly two decades (Holy Crap!)

Tips to lasting two decades…….

KEEP DATING Find time for one on one – without the kids (if you have the little rascals). It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be a night-time date. I breastfed Kalani for 5.5 years and co slept with all the kids ( I still share a bed with a 6-year-old!) , nighttime dates are rarely possible for us and nights away havent been possible since I was pregnant. We do movies, lunch, just a coffee or walk on the beach, sometimes my hubby chucks a sicky when the kids are at school or kindy or daycare( his boss doesn’t read my blog right?) and we just snuggle and watch Netflix (or Netflix and chill now I know what that means 😉 )
LAUGH Be silly! Tell each other stupid jokes . Play pranks on each other. With all the mundane BS we all deal with on the daily its good to have someone you can just be a dag with. Don’t grow up too much.
SEX   Keep Having it!  That physical closeness is important – you’ll both be too tired sometimes – I’m not saying it has to be four times a day like in the beginning (gee vaginas are resilient aren’t they?!?) but don’t let it become six months before a romp in the hay. I’ve never liked that saying……It always gets me thinking about all the painful places that spiky hay could wind up, a bit like sex on the beach – ugh SAND! I’m off topic – it happens…. continuing on…..
BE FRIENDS Be BEST friends. Be there for your partner with compassion and a listening heart. When you want to roll your eyes , hug them instead. Do things with your partner you’d do with your friends – go bowling, play golf, work out together, gossip , hang out

TALK Tell each other about your day, your friends, the story you heard from a friends, friends, friends, brothers, Uncles favourite Aunts, cousin. And talk about the important things too – how you want to parent, what your goals are for the future – make plans – set goals TOGETHER

YOU TIME This is huge. Give each other space to grow as an individual as well as a couple. Allow your partner to keep their own identity, to go play footy or dance class or a trip away with friends, andd allow yourself the same.Your partner should be an awesome addition to your life, not the only thing you have in it. You can still have your own “life” as an individual that you share with your partner – in fact I think it’s hugely important. Without that, resentment creeps in and you long for your “old life” or to be alone for a while.

I don’t long for any other life – we have been teen parents with hand me down furniture, no electricity, no money – we have bought our first house together, gone on our first overseas trips together, made our interstate move together, cried together and lost loved ones – together.

We have had nothing and yet had everything – because we had each other the whole time.

Much love

Ness xo

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We don’t take life too seriously, all the time!