Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When the sand runs out...

I was listening to my ipod tonight and the song 'When The Sand Runs Out' by Rascal Flatts came on. As I was listening, it struck me how relevant the lyrics are to my view of life at the moment. Here is a sample...
I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
And learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here
Go out on a ledge, without any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out

flying....inspired by diyosa (via flickr)


I am reading a brilliant book at the moment called 'Shantaram' by Australian author Gregory David Roberts. In 1978, Roberts was sentenced to 19 years in prison for a series of armed robberies. He escaped and spent 8 years as a fugitive in Bombay. Here he established a free medical clinic for slum dwellers, and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner, and street soldier for a branch of the Bombay mafia. He was recaptured in 1991, served out his sentence in Australia and established a successful multimedia company upon his release. Roberts is now a full-time writer and lives in Bombay, where he has established a charitable trust to care for slum-dwellers. 

Whilst the book is a novel, there is no doubt that it is Roberts' own life that the story is based upon. It is an extremely lengthy book (just under 1,000 pages long), however, that isn't a problem in the slightest since you never want the story to end (I'm just sad that I am up to page 800 already!). From the very first page you are completely drawn into this magical world and its characters and I cannot recommend this book enough. Interestingly, the rights to the movie were sold to Johnny Depp in 2004. 

You can find out more about Gregory David Roberts and the book by clicking here.

Lots of joy in simple things today....

The little man sleeping through the night until 6am (Yeah!)

Lots of laughs with work friends

This picture of a hedgehog found in the backyard of a workmates mother who lives in England. How gorgeous! 

A great lesson on mental health with one of my classes

A lovely homeroom group

Getting home from work earlier than I did last night

Receiving my first comment from an international blogger (how exciting!)

Spending time with my little man who smiled and laughed at me all night long (and then fell asleep in my arms...heartbreakingly cute)

Monday, April 27, 2009

I am officially a 'working mother'.

I have survived my first day of work but it is now 8pm and I've just about hit the brick wall. Our little man decided to test me to the max by waking up every 1-2 hours last night. It was quite surreal to go back to work. In a sense it's as if all other areas of my life have moved with me on my new journey but work is the only aspect that hasn't because I've been totally removed from it (if that makes sense?). Tomorrow all the girls will be back so that will be the real test!

Lovely husband was in charge of after daycare activities tonight and I have to say it was very strange to be the one walking in the door at 7pm. I expected my little man to be safely tucked up in bed but instead I found both husband and son asleep on the lounge. Apparently the little man made it no further than being taken out of the bath before he was dead to the world. I was secretly quite happy because it meant that I got to sneak in a few unexpected hugs and kisses. 

I dare say I will be in bed asleep by 9pm. I'm hoping that as I get into the swing of being a 'working mother' I will be able to manage things so that I can also fit in and keep up with all my creative pursuits. If anyone has any tips on how they manage to do this, feel free to leave me some comments. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Fingers crossed that I am in my bed for longer than I am out of it tonight....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Loving these shoes....


I'm really into 'girlie' dresses at the moment. There's nothing I appreciate more than a dress that takes your breath away and these ones do just the trick. Admittedly there is not much call for attire like this in the world of a PE teacher, but I can dream......

Picture 1 & 2: Kate Towers "Suavie Island" collection
Picture 3: Goose Girl Gown by Akina (via Frankie magazine)

This one gets me every time...

The ipod is always on in our house (especially with a son who likes to listen to music when he goes to sleep). This morning the song "Albertine" by Brooke Fraser came on and I wanted to share it because it is an inspiring and beautiful song with a very important meaning. Albertine was a girl in Rwanda who Brooke met when she was doing aid work there in 2005. Brooke also met the man who rescued Albertine in the genocide of 1994. Before the man introduced Brooke to Albertine he said "You have to go back to your people and write a song and tell them about us here in Rwanda". And that is exactly what Brooke did. 

Every time I hear the lyrics to this song I am reminded of the fact that words without actions are meaningless. Or as Brooke so eloquently puts it, "Faith without deeds is dead"..... 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Postnatal depression - my experience

For some people who read this blog, it may be the first they have heard of my postnatal depression and they will be shocked that all of this happened and they didn’t know about it. Some people may initially not understand why I would be telling everyone about such a personal experience. But I want to speak up about it for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, I believe that it is my duty to educate people about postnatal depression so that they are aware of it, recognise the signs and can help themselves or anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation to myself. Lack of understanding has a huge effect upon a person’s ability to seek help and to manage a situation that in many instances is a matter of life and death.

Secondly, I feel that to not speak out about it makes me a complete hypocrite. In my role as a PDHPE teacher I teach my students about the issue of mental health and stress to them the importance of understanding the issue, the increasing prevalence in our society and the importance of getting help. The importance of this issue, however, will only be fully understood if people like myself talk about it as a very real thing. If I tried to cover this up how can I help others and expect them to seek help when I haven’t? By remaining silent I am perpetuating the stigma surrounding mental illness and depression; that it is something to be ashamed of and that you should keep to yourself.  This is in fact the complete opposite of what should happen and perhaps if I share my experience then others I know or even don’t know will feel that they can get help and that they will be supported if they are ever in the same situation.

Finally, I am hoping that by raising awareness society will come to understand just how significant a problem postnatal depression and depression in general is and realise that we must do something about it. Thousands of women and their families are affected by this illness and it is essentially something that can be prevented or at least dealt with.

My story and everything I would like to share is too long to tell in one sitting, so I feel the best way to go about it is to address certain elements of it a bit at a time. I will start out by giving you a picture of what it feels like because this is often the hardest part for people to comprehend or understand. Before I begin I would like to say that experiences of postnatal depression vary widely from person to person so all I can do is explain my experience as best I can.

The postnatal depression didn’t seem to kick in for me until the second or third week or so after my son was born. Initially it was all overwhelming and hard getting used to taking care of and being responsible for this little thing that is completely dependent upon you. But what I began to feel after a couple of weeks went well beyond that. I could not stop crying, I was completely and utterly exhausted (but could not sleep even when the baby was asleep), and I basically felt as though I was going insane. At first I thought this was just how every new mother feels and that this was the reality of having a baby. But as the days went on and I didn’t seem to be feeling any different I realised that something was very wrong. I felt as though I couldn’t do anything. I was so exhausted that the thought of even getting up out of bed to have a shower or go to the bathroom felt impossible. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything and I had an overwhelming feeling of dread and panic. I felt as though I would die if I had to spend another second feeling that way, but I had to keep looking after this baby who needed me 24/7. The second my son cried I would be filled with panic and a thought that I had to get out of my apartment. But even when I did escape for a few minutes or hours the terrible feelings and thoughts followed me. To most people who have never experienced depression or known anyone who has, this probably all sounds completely absurd and they just can’t comprehend it. People would try to tell me ‘It’s the Baby Blues’ and that I was just having trouble adjusting to motherhood. But having a feeling like the worst thing in the world was about to happen to you every second and not being able to do anything to fix it, not being able to care for your newborn son, wanting to run out the door because you have panic attacks just thinking about your newborn son, and basically wanting to die because you have no control over your life is not the baby blues. I was constantly being told that my son was a wonderful baby and that he wasn’t difficult etc, as if I was just being a whinger and couldn’t cope. But the problem was with me and what was going on inside my head – it had nothing to do with whether my child was easy to care for or not. Having my son was the catalyst to the depression but his existence, behaviour or personality was not the problem.

The Beyond Blue website is a great place to start in order to get a better understanding of postnatal depression and mental health issues. The following accounts are from some of the women who have shared their stories on the website. I wanted to include them as they really help to provide a very real picture of what it feels like. 

"The first thing I remember is waking on the morning after the birth of my baby. Oh no, I thought, I have just made the biggest mistake of my entire life. What have I done? Then I started to run though a mental list of the people I might be able to give the baby away to. My cousin? My Aunt? But how would I explain the absence of a baby to my parents, my friends....could I get away with pretending the baby had died at birth...................... 

Then the room was filled with visitors, and flowers, and friends and gifts and my baby cried continuously with colic and reflux, and I did not have time to revisit my secret thoughts. An anxiety the likes of which I have never known was slowly consuming me but I pushed it back and tried to ignore it. 

I was afraid to go home from the hospital, and tried to tell the nurses, but they insisted and so home we went. I tried to be a good mother, and do all of the things a good wife and mother do - cooking, cleaning, and breast-feeding. But the minute my husband tried to step out of the front door to go to work, I would burst into tears and beg him not to go. When he did leave, I would spend the day shaking with some unknown fear, and trying to pretend to myself and everyone around me that I was all right. Why should there be anything wrong with me? 

I was afraid to be alone in the house; a sense of doom as if something really terrible was about to happen began to escalate to the point that I almost could not move. I also felt completely incompetent as a wife and mother, a hopeless failure. The total lack of sleep was brutal. 

Then, one day, about 4 weeks after I left hospital, the anxiety became so bad that I literally could not move even to cry, and began to hallucinate. Suicidal thoughts permeated my mind. That was the moment I knew that I was terribly sick. 

The same night, I found myself hospitalized at the Belmont Hospital in Brisbane, and my world was turned upside down. 
Belmont Private Hospital is a psychiatric facility, and contained within is the most incredible, excellent unit for women with post natal depression. Women and their babies can stay there 24 hours a day with support and care from specially trained and experienced nurses and staff. 

I could not believe that I was suffering from post natal depression. I felt that I had ruined everything for my baby, my husband and my family. I had failed, big time. 

The staff at Belmont cared for my baby and I around the clock. They reassured me, comforted me, and treated me".

 "Those first nights at home were hell, I honestly thought I was going mad. Whilst she did cry a fair bit, looking back she really wasn't that bad. It was just that I was so mad on routine, I fed her by bottle right to the second of the book I was following which obviously didnt suit this new hungry little bubs. The nights were the worst, I would put her down and go to bed, and my chest felt like it was going to explode. I would lay there all night looking at the clock, just waiting for her to wake, dreading it. I was having severe panic attacks in the night where I felt like my chest was in a vice, severe night sweats and just running on around 1 hours sleep a night. I became consumed with my sleep but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat and lost all my baby weight in around 10 days, everyone was commenting on how wonderful I looked, and I felt like I was dying inside. 

I had this beautiful baby that everyone wanted to hold and touch, and all I wanted them to do was leave her laying in her bouncer quietly so I didnt have to pick her up. I can honestly say I never felt hatred or wanted to hurt this little creature, I just didn't like the fact that she had turned my life upside down. I just wanted my old like back, the one where I enjoyed simple things like having visitors over or reading my favorite magazine. I seemed to be crying everyday, everywhere, in the supermarket I would just break down".

"So I am thankful that I only missed out on 6 weeks of her life. Some days I think about it and I feel cheated that I didn't get to experience all that euphoric feelings that comes with having your child, however I am one of the lucky ones who chose to be open about my PND and get help early. I also joined a PND group very early on, and I really do think that this was the changing phase in my recovery, it made me realise I wasnt going mad and I wasn't alone".

"And whilst at the time of my darkest days, I really didn't think I would ever recover, I am actually grateful that I got PND. This may seem strange, but it really has made me appreciate things so much more, and now I really now what a bad day is. I may have an occasional bad day, but on the scale of things, its never going to be that bad. 

I guess in closing off, the only thing I would like to add is that people are constantly asking me "When are you going to have another one", yes everyone knows about what happened to me as I was so open about it, however just reading my story above may make people realise why I am a bit hesitant to go back again. OK, so it may not happen again, but the thought of going through it all again scares the life out of me. However if it means I can have one more child who is as beautiful, caring and sweet as our little girl, it will be certainly worth it".

(Another excellent resource is "Down Came The Rain", which is Brooke Shields' story of postnatal depression).

"Never Postpone Joy...."

As some of you may know, one of my creative loves is photography. It was always one of those things that was in the back of my mind as 'something I would get to one day'. I had fallen into this trap of thinking that life was something that would eventually happen once I had ticked all the boxes of school, uni, getting a job, establishing a career, buying property etc.  At the end of last year it dawned on me that 'one day' may never come and that it was utterly crazy to keep putting off the things that could potentially bring the greatest joy to my life. 'Life' is what's happening now and if I didn't change my way of thinking, it would all pass me by and I would reach the end of it with a million regrets. For a great deal of my life, fear of failure has stopped me from trying things or moving out of my comfort zone. But now my fear of getting to the end of my life and not having done things far outweighs any fear I have of failing.  

So I enrolled in a course at The Australian Centre for Photography and it was fantastic. The feeling that you get from saying I want to do something and just doing it is amazing. I can now say that I have done a photography course and recently had one of my photos shown in an exhibition at the centre.

The next step in my photographic journey is to complete an online course, titled "Unravelling: Ways of seeing myself". The course is run by Susannah Conway, a British writer and photographer and it is essentially eight weeks of learning about yourself through photography. I can't wait to start as Susannah is super talented and her own personal journey is truly inspirational. Her blog 'Ink on My Fingers' is a must read for me each day and I know this will be a very special experience. The course starts next week so I will keep you informed of my progress as I go. 

So if there is something that you have always been wanting to do, don't put it off any longer. Life is happening now, so make the most of it! 

P.S Before I go I had to include this image titled 'mother and child', which was taken by another one of my favourite photographers, Myla Kent. Her images are beautiful and are often accompanied by inspiring and thought provoking quotes. You can view more images from her
portfolio here and you can read her blog here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A new journey.....

Well, today was officially my last day of maternity leave. I can't believe that 8 1/2 months have passed so quickly but at the same time I feel as though I have lived about 20 lifetimes in that period. I have mixed feelings about going back to work. I have been very fortunate to have spent this long with my little man and I feel quite sad that this time is over (even after a very challenging day with him today!). But I am ready to see where life is going to take me next. I could sit here and talk about how nervous I am about going back to work, how I'm worried that its no longer where my heart is etc etc. But the 'new Bel' is going to embrace the challenge and see if I can transfer my new found attitude to the one area of my life that I haven't had to tackle yet. Even though this line of work is not necessarily where I see myself remaining long term, I'm going to view it all with fresh eyes and take it day by day. I'm going to look for the good instead of dwell on the bad, because I firmly believe that what you put out there is what you get back. Its going to be my personal challenge to make a difference in the lives of as many people as I can in that environment and to be open to wherever life takes me from here.

Which brings me to the next topic I wanted to address tonight. For virtually my whole life I have felt the need to know where I was going, to play it safe, to do 'the right thing' and to try to keep everything under control. But what I have found is that approaching life in this way hasn't made me happy. It has actually left me feeling as though there is something missing. So last year I decided that I had nothing to lose and if the way I was living life wasn't making me happy then the only thing to do was the opposite of what I have always done (this sounds simple but its very hard to change 31 years of habits and ways of thinking). Anyway, I've really worked hard on this aspect of my life. Instead of wanting my life to be a predictable straight line I want it to be a winding river, full of twists and turns and ups and downs. In trying to predict and control everything in my life I wasn't actually 'living' and I was depriving myself of so much that life has to offer. Instead of avoiding challenging situations, I look for them and tackle them head on. Instead of saying 'no' to things that take me outside of my comfort zone, I say 'yes'. And guess what? I'VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER. The change in my life has been amazing. So I challenge everyone who reads this to change your way of thinking, even if it is just about one issue or aspect of your life. If there is an area of your life that you know you need to change or want to change, do it. Just the smallest of steps and changes can make a huge difference to your life. The following quote sums this up perfectly for me and in the past 6 months I have definitely found it to be true. It inspires me to stay on my new path and I hope it inspires you!

"One new perception,
one fresh thought,
one act of surrender,
one change of heart,
one leap of faith,
can change your life forever" 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You know you're in love when.....

You let your niece give you one of her open mouth kisses... on your lips... when she has a mouth full of tuna mornay. Who could resist a kiss from this adorable little face?

This One Goes Out To My Sisters

I am very lucky to have three amazing sisters who are all very different but equally as important to me in their own special ways. I know they know I love them but every now and then I think its important to tell them exactly how I feel about them. You never know where life is going to take you, so if there are things you have always been meaning to say to someone but never get around to saying them - SAY THEM NOW!!!!! 

"S": My true soul mate. It makes me cry to think about how blessed I am to have been given a twin. I have never felt as close to you as I do now and I am so honoured that I have been able to share the journey of the past year with you. You are the only person who will truly understand what it has been like and I would never be where I am now without your love and support. I didn't mention this to you before but the other week you told a good friend of ours that I am the most inspiring person you know - that was one of the greatest moments of my life and I wanted to burst with happiness. I am here for you always and can't wait to see what the future holds for us. Here is something that I hope will make you laugh: "Mick, Mick, speak English". (To those of you who have never seen Jumping Jack Flash this won't mean anything to you but S, I know you know exactly what I am going on about).

"L": Building a relationship with you has been one of my revelations of the past year. Prior to this I haven't really had the opportunity to have a close relationship with you but I am so glad that all of that has changed now. I am immensely proud of everything you do and believe that you are wise beyond your years (although you must remember that I've got a good 9 years on you so I will always remain the 'wise' elder sister!). I'm sorry that it has taken us so long to get to this point but I am so glad that we are finally here. No matter what you do in life, or where you go, I will be behind you all the way. I still owe you for helping me with my photography homework so if there is ever a time that I can prance around the neighbourhood spinning a gay pride umbrella for you, just let me know and I will be there!

"A": My dear little "Fluff". Absence has definitely made my heart grow fonder. I cannot believe I have had to exist this long without you. I greatly admire you for following your dreams and living overseas. (You are far more brave and mature than I was at your age). I hope that you are having the time of your life and making memories that will last forever. The strength you will gain from embarking on this journey will serve you well in everything else you do. Your kind heart and fun loving nature will ensure that people everywhere will fall in love with you and I have no doubt that you will achieve everything in life that your heart desires. I can't wait until you are back here to renew your crazy antics on our shores. 

Lots of love to all of you, my three amazing sisters,

X Bel

Inspiration Board

Since unleashing my creative spirit, our bedroom has become an office/studio for me to work in (thank you lovely husband for allowing me to take over the room!). It has been so great to have a designated space to work in. Every time I walk in there I feel creative, happy, and truly like myself. I designed my own inspiration board so that I can constantly be inspired and reminded of what/who is important to me. If you are lucky enough to have a spare room or corner of your house to set up as 'your' space, I highly recommend it. Even just having a small board somewhere in your house is all you need. Look at it each day and add to it when you can to help you stay focused, motivated and in touch with who you really are.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Hi, I'm Bel, a mother, wife, teacher and creative soul. After experiencing post natal depression following the birth of my son in July 2008, I was forced to reassess who I am, who I want to be and how I want to live my life. Whilst that experience was the most difficult of my life so far, it has also been the greatest thing that has happened to me. The strength I have found in myself and my new outlook has transformed my life. I am now far more aware of what is important to me and I make a point of really living and enjoying each moment of my life. I am starting this blog so that I can document my new journey and hopefully bring some joy and inspiration to others along the way.