Nom nom nom


(Credit to the awesome guys at Our Veggie Patch for their beautiful produce!)

So I was supposed to write this post over a week ago, but being unwell (effectively from lack of sleep) took care of that, and then this week has gotten away from me, so here we are, nearly a third of the way through March and my head is almost spinning wondering where is time going!

But we’re not here to talk about my own personal time warp, we’re here to talk about our wellbeing, namely focusing on eating for (what’s left of) March.  And just like sleep, it’s a biggie too big in fact, for me to cover in a month, so I’m choosing a couple of particular elements of eating and focusing on them, namely why we eat what we do, what meaning food has for us and how we choose what is right for us.  Should be simple enough!

I’m not going to tell anybody what they should eat, or go into a deep psychoanalysis about the choices we make, or start a debate on food being good or bad (spoiler: food is neutral, it has no moral value).  What I am most interested in is the motivation behind the choices we make, and how to work out what our bodies need and what is the right food for us and our families.  This comes from my own journey with food, which has been a deeply complex one all my adult life, and at 41 I’m only really now making changes that come from healing from some deeply entrenched unhealthy beliefs and habits.

I’m one of those people for whom certain foods have a direct adverse effect on my body and health in general, and I have not always made choices that avoid these effects when choosing what to eat at any given point in time.  More often than not, I have given in to the desire for what I want right now and then suffered the consequences – both in the short and long term.  I know I’m repeating myself here, but through a lot of self-reflection, prayer and counselling (over a period of time), I fully understand that, like other areas of my life, I will do just about anything to both avoid discomfort and fulfill a desire instantly rather than be denied what I want, and for the most part I’m able to do that in my life.  As a result, I am constantly lethargic, achy (I have an auto-immune arthritis), have GI upsets, chronic headaches, don’t sleep well and walk around in a brain fog, not to mention the resulting lack of motivation and apathy.

This is not living, it is surviving.  And it’s a pretty poor substitute for the real thing.

I’ve shared about the effect of lack of sleep on my life, and this is still a work in progress, and my less-than-stellar diet only compounds these effects, and adds its own flavour.  When I eat certain foods (grains, dairy, refined sugar and anything processed), my joints ache more and I become more lethargic, but I have been willing to put up with those symptoms to get what I want, when I want.  But last year I experienced something that was to become a game-changer for me.  After consuming more chocolate than I usually would in one sitting one night, I ended up with an awful, debilitating migraine, and I knew my chocolate days were over.  I would do anything do avoid having that experience again.  Since then, I’ve had the same experience on certain occasions after eating wheat and dairy, so they are now off the list too.

I had someone say to me once that we make changes when the thought of staying where we are is more painful than the thought of the change required, and that is what finally broke through to me with my food choices.  Pain is often a motivator for change, and whilst I was willing to put up with pain in my body to eat what I wanted, I was not willing to risk debilitating headaches and migraines for the same reason.  And I haven’t looked back.  I refuse to become fearful of these foods, but choosing not to eat them is easy now because I know what a likely consequence will be, so I just don’t.  And this has surprisingly led to other (welcome) changes in my eating habits – I don’t snack as much (because I don’t have as many ready available options), I’m becoming more aware of how much eating (particularly snacking) is often more habitual/boredom busting/filling some emotional need than for nutritional requirements, therefore I’m becoming more mindful about my habits,  I don’t buy take-away food anywhere near as often as I used to (not just for me, but for our whole family), and I’m back to primarily cooking from scratch, with beautiful ingredients, and getting creative with what I have available.

I can’t say I’ve experienced a radical transformation as a result, and I’ve still had headaches, but far less often and less debilitating.  And I’ve even lost 5kg (despite January’s Move being a bust!)!! I am definitely being transformed in my mind as much as my body, and I am so grateful to finally be experiencing breakthrough in what has been a nearly life-long struggle, but I still have more to learn and grow in, and I’m excited J

How about you?  Are you happy with your way of eating?  Do you struggle with certain areas?  Do you know why?  Let’s do this together and encourage each other along the way.




So February was all about sleep, and it wasn’t the month I had planned in my head.  I had planned to look at all the whys of why sleep is so important, what to do to sleep well, what to avoid to get good sleep, how sleep affects our immune system and so on and so on.

Turns out just getting enough sleep was what became the focus in February, and it was a big lesson learned for me – a true game changer.  I committed – several times – through the month to keep to a regular bedtime, and both my choices and events out of my control saw that that didn’t happen, always to my detriment.  My #1 takeaway from the month is if I don’t get enough sleep, nothing else I try or do really matters, because lack of sleep will trump everything.  And I do not live well on lack of sleep.

I have an auto-immune disease (psoriatic arthritis), osteoarthritis, chronic headaches, gut issues and other bits and pieces that pop up from time to time.  I determined a long time ago that I would not let these conditions define me, and would do what I can to minimise their impact on my life, but as is the nature of our beautiful, complex, mysterious minds and bodies, when things are intertwined there’s no easy way to create a clear, step-by-step ‘plan’ to fix or control what we would like to be able to.  And I have learned in nearly 10 years of living with these issues that sleep is the key component to living well – but I didn’t truly appreciate the significance of this until this month, when I chose to  focus on the effect of sleep on my daily life.  So there is step 1 to living well and thriving in wellbeing – get enough sleep!  Of course there are more factors (as we are walking through each month), but without enough (good) sleep, nothing will really change.

Understanding all this was really brought home to me this week after 3 nights of too little sleep late last week and over the weekend (some nights because of my choice, some because of events out of my control), and I have spent the rest of the week unwell and ending up with a migraine.  Simple cause and effect, and something so obvious I can’t ignore it.  I’ve also learned I believe I need more than 8 hours sleep per night, which will mean truly, truly protecting my sleep time and routine, because this is what is going to see me live well, and truly thrive every day.  It will mean giving up what I *want* to do for what I need to do, giving up social opportunities and managing my daily routine around a set, non-negotiable bedtime. I’ve written before I don’t like this, but I like even less the results of not enough, or living as a half-version of my true self, so this is how it has to be, and I am choosing to embrace the process.

How about you?  What does sleep man to you, or look like for you?  I plan to keep tracking and monitoring my progress throughout the year, how can I help you in your journey?

We’re into March now, which is all about Eating – what we eat, why we eat, how we see food in our lives.  It’s a biggie, and I’m in for the ride!

(P.S. For more information on the importance of sleep and the effect of not enough sleep on our bodies – especially in regard to immunity – go to this excellent article by Sarah Ballantyne at The Paleo Mom, her knowledge and expertise is amazing!)

Sweet repose



It is a hot topic amongst people in all stages of life, and from my experience the primary theme is not getting enough of it.  Whether it’s the 20-somethings foregoing sleep for socialising, parents wishing for a night without having to attend to a child, people with chronic illness or pain trying to remember when they had their last unbroken night of slumber, or older generations settling into life requiring less time in the world of dreams,  sleep is something that can be quite defining in our lives, and it’s an area full of unknowns and wonderings.

February’s focus for Ways of Wellbeing is sleep, particularly how important it is, good sleep hygiene, and how we can improve our sleeping experiences.  We’ll look at what sleep does for our brains and bodies, what happens if we don’t enough of it, what is sleep hygiene (hint: it’s not clean sheets and pillowcases), and what we can do to to optimise our experience.

My sleep story has had many ups and downs over my lifetime.  I was the kid who never wanted to get up in the morning, but could lay awake for hours in bed at night.  As a teenager, I struggled to get to sleep, but never felt tired, and never had any problem sleeping in until lunchtime if I could. When I became a parent at 21, broken sleep didn’t bother me, and on reflection I can say that the best period of sleep experience in my life is when my kids were babies and toddlers and early school years.  I never had any trouble actually sleeping, I could stay up late and live well on about 7 hours sleep a night (often less), and didn’t have any health issues.

It was when I hurt my back nearly 10 years ago that my journey into the world of problematic sleep began.  Pain would keep me from getting to sleep and then wake me through the night, and just as that settled I developed Psoriatic Arthritis, which while it made me so fatigued, I couldn’t sleep well enough to overcome the constant deep tiredness.  Over the past 10 years, I’ve gone through ups and downs of some times being better than others, with a good period of about 4 years or so being pretty problem-free, but the past few years have been the most challenging, with my experiences ranging from struggling to fall asleep, to waking frequently through the night, constant fatigue, never feeling rested, and just generally sleep deprived.  And in the middle of this time, I thought working night shift would be a good idea (it wasn’t)!

I’m now in a time where going to sleep is (usually) no problem, but staying asleep and having good quality sleep cycles sometimes feels impossible – I can be asleep for 8 hours and wake up feeling like I nodded off for half an hour, possibly with having run a marathon during that time (and according to my sleep tracker, I can sometimes have been restless enough to account for nearly 10,000 steps worth of movement through the night!).  So I’m on a mission to improve my sleep quality, to feel better and more awake and energised through the day, and I’m starting with implementing good sleep hygiene practices.  It will take more than a month to turn the tables, but this month will be a good start, and hopefully we’ll find out some interesting things along the way!

I’d love for you to share your experiences, good, not so great or otherwise, I know I’m not the only one who longs for the land of sweet dreams!



(Gratuitous pic of my walking buddies)

So January didn’t go quite to plan.  My month of ‘Move’ came to a bit of a halt 19 days in when I aggravated my back, an injury I had nearly 10 years ago but which reminded me it can still knock me down nearly as much as when it first happened.

I am a huge advocate of continuing to move despite pain, within your own limits, of listening to your body and doing what you can wishing your own pain experience, all the while understanding that when it comes to chronic pain, hurt does not (usually) mean harm (further tissue damage).  I’ve had to put my now beliefs into practice more consciously over the past 10 days, because I can tell you, laying on the couch seems the best option most of the time!

I live on a hill, so my usual morning walk has been put on hold until I feel walking down and then back up the hill won’t result in another flare-up, so I’ve been trying to be active in other ways – walking around town while doing jobs, standing more than sitting when I’m working, parking the car further away from my destination where I can.  I’m the first to admit that I haven’t done as much as I could have, but in conjunction with reading a book called ‘No Sweat’, I’ve been re-thinking what daily movement looks like in my life, movement with the aim of being active and contributing to my wellbeing.

We tend to think of movement as ‘exercise’, and that we need to schedule a certain activity for a certain amount of times per day/week/ etc, and there are certainly evidence-based recommendations and guidelines to this effect.  For the record, the Australian government (based on researched evidence) advises the following:

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.

  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.

  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.

  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

(For the record, they also say that absolutely any amount of exercise is better then none!).

These are perfectly reasonable and achievable guidelines, especially when we think about them in the context of activity and movement as opposed to specifically structured exercise.  I have tried to go to 2-3 gym classes or workouts a week for more than 10 years, and have always struggled to maintain the program.  However, I can maintain a daily walk for 20-30 minutes a day (sometimes more), plus walking whenever I can in other environments (e.g. around town doing jobs), plus gardening (which can certainly involve strengthening activities), even carrying the shopping requires strengthening movements! Of course there are many other activities that people engage in that probably wouldn’t be considered ‘exercise’ as such, but which keep up active and moving – golf, dance classes, housework, running around after kids (quite literally sometimes!), swimming at the beach – basically if you’re not sitting, lying down or standing still, you’re moving, and it counts!

What I like about the current guidelines is that they recommend an amount of movement per week, as opposed to certain amounts of time per day per week, which means that movement accumulated through the day ‘counts’ as much as if you have a 1 hour session of exercise structured exercise.  Of course, if structured exercise is you thing, then great, that’s what works for you!  That’s what this whole journey is about, finding what works for you and embracing it.

One of the key philosophies of Michelle Segar’s ‘No Sweat’ is looking at why we don’t sustain particular exercise programs, even when we have the best of intentions.  What she says really resonated with me, because the stories of her clients was just so familiar to me – set good intentions, for really good reasons (lose weight, become more healthy etc), and continually fail to stick with the program.  She suggests that the reasons we make decisions to exercise (generally all reasonable and good) aren’t actually effective motivators for behaviour change because they’re usually aimed at outcomes that are based in the future, and we don’t feel like we’re getting any immediate benefit, therefore we are more likely to stop what we intended to do.  However, by taking a step back and really looking at our motivations, we can identify what we want to achieve or how we want to feel now, in the present, and that becomes a more powerful motivator.

What I’m particularly loving as I read this book is how I can see the philosophy of motivation impacting all behaviour change in life, not just movement, because our actions come from motivations, and understanding our motivations will shape the outcomes we desire.  For example, my reasons for exercise/activity.moving have always been the same – lose weight, become more healthy, ward off any health issues in older age, keep fit to manage the chronic condition I have etc etc.  And yet I’ve never managed to maintain consistent, active behaviour.  So I’ve been asking myself ‘why do I want to move?’.  My answer was actually ‘I don’t want to, I’d rather lay on the couch and read a book at any given point in time’.  Ouch.  Talk about a reality bite!  So I reframed the question to ‘why do I want to make regular movement a part of my life every day?’, the answer to which surprised me – ‘because I want to achieve a goal (in this case of daily movement)’.  My motivation has nothing to do with health or anything physical – it has more to do with the satisfaction of ticking off a daily activity on a habit-tracker and achieving a goal, which comes from a life-long sense of disappointment at not achieving goals I set (for  whole variety of reasons), and feeling like I constantly fail and what I want to to.

Michelle also goes into looking at our perspective on the activity before us, and evaluating if we feel it is something we should do or something we want to do, because how we see what we do makes all the difference. For example, if I think ‘I have to go for a walk’, I’m going to immediately be resistant to the idea, because I feel like it is something I should do, as opposed to something I’m choosing to do, whereas if I think ‘I get to go for  walk’, my perspective is immediately flipped, because the same activity has now become something I am choosing to do (because I want to, not because I feel I have to), and I’m thinking of all the good things that will come with the chosen activity.  The possibilities of how we can apply this perspective to all areas of our lives is endless!!

So there you have it.  Whilst this month’s Way of Wellbeing didn’t exactly go to plan, I’ve still learnt a lot about myself, and gained some insight on behaviour motivation and how to apply that to probably nearly every area of my life, which can only be a good thing!  Next month I’ll be focusing on Sleep, and I for one will be interested to see what happens, I’m hoping you’ll join me and share your stories along the way!


Ways of Wellbeing


In the interests of full disclosure, this is not a representation of how I feel right now – certainly not physically anyway, but I am just a little bit excited on the inside about what has been brewing in my heart over the past couple of days, a culmination of ponderings and musings that have been simmering away for, well, for a long time.

As I wrote in my previous post, I am making a commitment to improving my wellbeing by making purposeful, intentional changes to live a wholehearted life.  And I actually have a plan – well, somewhat of a plan, anyway!! It might be better to say I have some sign posts, some markers to guide me along a path of discovery which I believe will lead me to a life of thriving, the abundant life that Jesus speaks of when He said the enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy, but He came, Jesus, the Son of God came so that we may have life and have it to the full.  To the full.  The definition of ‘full’ is ‘containing or holding as much or as many as possible; having no empty space; not lacking or omitting anything; complete’.  

Having no empty space.

Not lacking or omitting anything.


This is how I want my life to look.  Full of Jesus.  Full of life.  Life abundant.  Just as God intended. Just as Jesus promised.  Who am I to turn away from that, to reject it in preference for anything that cannot fill me, cannot satisfy me no matter how appealing it might look at the time?

As I thought about all this, I read about a blogger’s year of wellness journey, and the idea of focusing on a particular area of life a month at a time really appealed to me, having time to explore that part of my life and working out what works and what doesn’t, what changes would benefit and what could stay the same, what can stay and what can go.  Then as I was out walking yesterday morning (I’ve already started making some changes!) the particular areas I want to focus on became more clear, and I knew I had the bare bones of the journey ahead – and I even had a name for it.

And thus, the Ways of Wellbeing came to life, and for the first time in a long time, I began to feel excited about something, truly excited about possibility, the good ‘what ifs?’ of life, the potential of lasting change and what it would mean to thrive rather than just survive.

So what is wellbeing?  The dictionary definitions of wellbeing generally describes it as the ‘state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’.  But that doesn’t sit with me as a thorough definition, because I believe an abundant life is about much more than just being comfortable, healthy and happy, that thriving is more than just feeling good.  It’s also about accepting that much of life *doesn’t* feel good and learning how to not to let circumstances define our feelings and actions, challenging deep-seated habits that aren’t healthy and pushing out of our comfort zones. My list of life areas gives a much more wholistic overview of what makes up a full life, and I’ve opted to focus on one area each month, starting with what has been my biggest frustration – moving (or the lack thereof!).  So here’s what my journey in 2018 looks like –

January      – Move      (Increasing daily movement)

February    – Sleep      (Improving sleep habits and quality)

March         – Eat          (Refining what my body does and doesn’t tolerate)

April            – Grow     (Personal and professional learning and development)

May              – Play       (Bringing more fun into life)

June             – Create    (Prioritising daily creating)

July              – Spend     (Budgeting and financial planning)

August         – Give       (Exploring ways of serving the community)

September  – Pray       (Focusing on daily spiritual growth activities)

October       – Think     (Challenging unhealthy thought patterns)

November  – Breathe  (Slowing down, being intentional, noticing the world around me)

December   – Love       (Intentional connections in my relationships)

I plan to document my experiences on Instagram with a few posts each week and a weekly review here on the blog, and each month I’ll share my ‘why’ for choosing that area of life to focus on, why it’s important to me and how I believe it contributes to wellbeing.  I’ll also share resources, podcasts, blogs and articles I find helpful for each topic, and I plan to read a book relative to each area during that month, some that will be new to me and some I’ve already read and found beneficial. And because I love to hear people’s stories, I’ll be talking to people whom I admire in these areas for their experience and skills, and who inspire me with their love for what they do.

I would *so* love for you to join me, because you are part of my why – the reason I’m embarking on this journey is much bigger than just my own transformation, it’s about encouraging and uplifting others in their own journeys, fulfilling the calling God has placed on my life to love and serve others whenever I can, in all the ways I can (however imperfectly that may be).  Please join in the conversation on IG at @alison_jane_again, or leave me a comment here, I would love to hear what wellbeing means for you and perhaps what areas of your life you’d like to see transformed.

‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together’

– African Proverb







I have a fondness for the semi-colon, how it allows a bit longer pause between sentences without interrupting the flow of the story, how they allow related parts to remain connected but can also allow the story to take a different turn while retaining its relevance to what has already taken place. And how it means the story isn’t finished, but there’s more to come.

The beginning of 2018 feels like a semi-colon, a pause in the story right before it’s about to take a new direction, taking me along a path toward a destination I don’t see clearly yet. Which is at the same time exciting and daunting, but in the best way!!! I’m comfortable with change (in fact I get antsy when thingsstay the same longer than I’m used to!), and I’m used to dealing with the unexpected and stepping into the unknown, so not having a step-by-step plan for the year ahead is not unfamiliar territory, and I’m learning to embrace this reality. But this year, I’m determined to be intentional in what I *can* do, what I *can* make happen, and for me that’s about my wellbeing, seeking the fullness of life Jesus has promised us.

I’ve lived reactively and in response to what goes on around me for most of my life, and while I’ve made significant changes in some fundamental areas of my life, my wellbeing is not what I want it to be. It’s more surviving than thriving, and that’s not what my life has been created for.I know, I know, anyone who knows me or has followed me here for any length of time has heard this before, has been witness to my intentions to change and the subsequent loss of momentum. And I can’t promise it won’t happen again, but I can say today, this is where I am, and this is what I intend to do. Well, I will when I gather all my thoughts and pull them into some semblance of a plan 😊 But for now, I’ll leave this as my intent for 2018 – to improve my wellbeing by making purposeful, intentional changes to live a wholehearted life. Will you join me?

Same but different

I’ve had this post mulling around in my head for a while, and when I sat down to write it, I looked out my front window, a beautifully big picture window that overlooks our town, the side of the mountain our town is set upon and through which I can see the glory of God in the skies every day.


This view is to the right of my my front yard, to the left is the town nestled below me (I live on a hill) and as I looked out my window this evening, it was that time of day called ‘the golden hour’, when the evening sun bathes the world in that beautiful, golden glow that you could just bask in forever, and you wish it would just stay like that.  But this window of time is brief, and disappears as you watch.  As I saw the swathe of golden light wash over the roofs below me and fade quickly, it struck me how this moment in time visually represented the stage of my parenting journey I’m currently living.

My eldest son left home two weeks ago, to enlist in the Australian Army, his dream since he was about 4 years old (and we have the photos to prove it!).  We spent the last few weeks buying everything he needed, making sure all the required paperwork was completed, nagging him about the jobs around the house he needed to do before he left and having many, many conversations about all things of life.  All the time I was wishing for more time, wishing for so many do-overs, realising there was so much in my parenting that I had made big deals of that just weren’t big deals, I could have let go for the sake of building our relationship rather than having to exert my authority and demand respect.  So many times I disengaged and put my needs first.  So many reactions from my own emotions that I know have left their mark.  So many things that reflect my broken human-ness and complete and utter imperfection.

I’m not beating myself up over any of this, I’ve healed from the shame and guilt and sense of failure that has embedded itself in my parenting over the years.  I’ve never strived to be a perfect parent as such, but a misunderstood drive for perfection and subsequent sense of failure has crippled me so many times in my life, and fortunately the past couple of years have brought increasing freedom and peace from the weight of condemnation, myself being my own worst critic.  My parenting is of course still far from perfect, but it does involve a lot less yelling and much more listening and thinking before I respond, lots and lots of breathing and a desire to show grace rather than enforce consequences just because I can.

All this to say that as my eldest son was the subject of my first venture into parenting, he was the one for whom I made so many mistakes as I learnt how to be a mum.  But my God is in the business of healing and redemption, and as I grew in God I grew into the mum I am now (a process that will continue for life, I’m sure), and our relationship healed as he grew into a young adult, deepening as he started his own adventure into adulthood and for me this made it so much more bittersweet as I counted down to his leaving home.  Realising how much would be the same but different, as we all found our new ‘normal’.

That was my golden hour with him.  The time of our life together – when I was still responsible for him as a parent – that felt bathed in love and understanding and grace and compassion, and I loved every minute of it.  It was the time where I still had opportunity to invest time and emotion and energy into him while he was home, to pour into him and hopefully influence him in ways that would equip him for adulthood, to speak life and God and love into him and hope that was greater than all that came out when my less-than-stellar parenting took over.  The golden hour that was all too short, and over all too soon.

I am so very grateful that was how that stage of our life together as mother and son ended, that that was the foundation we built that the next phase of our relationship will grow on, more as equals and friends than parent and child.  I am so proud of this child of mine who is fully embracing his life and all that it is offering him, I’m proud of us as parents for raising the boy into the man he is now (and that he can cook, clean, iron and generally organise himself!), that he is respectful and kind and compassionate and takes responsibility for his actions because that is what we value in our family.  And yet I do feel sadness for opportunities lost, the time I can’t get back or re-do, the mistakes and hurts that I can’t undo, that I can’t make our golden hour longer.  That’s the nature of life I suppose, celebrating our successes and mourning our losses, and accepting that both come by virtue of living and breathing.

I have learnt to focus on the joy more than the sorrow, to learn from my mistakes and do better next time (without aiming for perfect).  My daughter and youngest son are reaping the benefits of my lessons learned the first time round, they know my presence and listening ear more than my distraction and raised voice, are far more likely to find me next to them on the couch than being busy elsewhere and know that they can come to me with anything, without fear of criticism or judgement.  It feels like this time in their lives is already the golden hour, as much as I still get things wrong and need to apologise and ask their forgiveness.  After my relationship with God,  the time spent plugging in to them and sowing into their lives is the greatest investment I am making at the moment, the most important use of my time and energy and I am so glad I know this now, and not as they’re getting ready to leave home.

Knowing what I know now, what would I say to my younger self?  Breathe.  Keep remembering to breathe.  Pray first, then speak.  Most of what seem like the big things aren’t really that big a deal, and a grace-filled response will always have more effect than a raised voice or harsh words.  Your kids want you, just you, your time and your presence more than anything else, more than any thing or experience.  Spending time being more than doing is better for everyone.  Time spent without a specific purpose gives life to everyone.  Rest is good.  No-one expects you to be perfect, so why should you?  And for that matter, what does it matter what anyone else thinks?  Whose opinion is more important, theirs or God’s?  The big things that you know are important, they are worth standing your ground and fighting for, investing your time and energy into.  When you feel angry or upset at your kids (or anyone else), ask yourself why, because it’s usually more about you than them.  Laugh about something every. single. day. Go looking for adventures, starting with your own backyard.  Be spontaneous and do the things that seem inconvenient and messy, it’s worth it!  Spend as much time as possible outside – even when it’s wet and cold.  Make the effort now even when you don’t feel like it, because you have no idea of the effect it will have later.  Give your kids as much affection as they will let you, especially as they get older.  The more you listen when they’re little, the more they’ll talk when they’re older.  Don’t stop reading to them when they can do it themselves. Always, always, always let love be your guide.  Be love, do love, live love.

There is so much more I could add to this list, so much more I wish I knew then but have learnt and know now.  I certainly don’t know everything and don’t have all the answers by any means, I have grown from being encouraged and supported by people who love me, so if I can encourage even one mum by sharing my hard-learned lessons, then it’s been worth it.  Make your golden hour last as long as possible, it truly is a beautiful time.