Thursday, 22 December 2011

How to improve your self-esteem in 5 minutes.

How's your self-esteem at the moment?
Feeling on top of the world?
Love your body?
Think you are a good person?
Happy with your role as a parent/partner/professional?

If you are anything like me, you go through phases of feeling like you really have owned your place on earth and can justify your existence, and at other times, you feel completely and utterly useless as a parent, you question your skills at your job and look at yourself in the mirror and wonder where those love handles came from!

Well, when I'm having one of those days, one thing I like to do is to look back at my achievements. Sometimes I look at what I've achieved that day and sometimes I go all the way back to the last 10 years.

It doesn't have to be any major achievements. Something as small as "managed to not kill the plant (even if it was a cactus)" is something!

So now that we are almost at the end of 2011, it's time to look back at the year. Here's my list of achievements (in no particular order) (Gosh isn't this egocentric! Oh well, it's MY blog!)

The little human I created -
bub a few minutes old.

- Had a baby (that's big when you think about it - I created another human being!
- Got a promotion - albeit a small one.
- Started blogging.
- Put together lots of pieces of furniture.
- Made Christmas advent calendars (I am not very crafty!)
- Helped a few people along the way (patients).
- Completely planned a surprise holiday overseas (hubby normally does that).
- Ran workshops.
- Lost all my baby weight.
- Taught my toddler to write his name, say thank you and draw circles.
- Supported hubby through some very difficult times.
- Decorated my baby's nursery complete with painted wall art.

As I said, some of them are small and some huge, but I do think that we shouldn't underestimate our role as mums, partners or colleagues. You just don't know how much of an impact your actions will have.

As I look back at 2011, I see that despite my faults and mistakes, I have achieved good things.
Good things for me and good things for others.
 And that's all that matters in the end.

What have you achieved?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Christmas gift to Oxfam

You have helped raise $76.50 for Oxfam!!

(If you don't know what I'm talking about - have a look here).

Well done! And a big thank you for helping me with this challenge!

So now, to decide how to spend the money (don't you just love shopping with someone else's money!)

This is what we can afford:
- Blankets for survivors of disasters like tsunamis - $40
- Breakfast for AIDS orphans in Southern Africa - $20
- Bucket hygiene kit for disaster affected areas - $25
- Cattle manure - $15
- Chicken - $10
- Chicken family - $38
- Clean jar to filter water for a Cambodian family - $14
- Duck - $20
- Fishing net - $50
- Fruit tree - $35
- Goat - $39
- Goat couple - $78
- Lamb $55
- Literacy classes - $40
- Midwife essentials - $35
- Mossie nets - $22
- Prenatal classes - $55
- Piglet - $35
- Support for a women's shelter - $25
- Seeds - $10
- Toys - $29
- Veggie garden - $52

Phew!! Quite the list. So since YOU helped raise the money, it's only fair that you get to decide what to buy. Comment below with your choice and whichever gets the most votes by midday Thursday the 22nd of December, I'll buy (please make my life easier and only pick one). If there is any money left over and we can afford the second most popular item, I'll buy that one too. If not, I'll just donate as a dollar amount.

You can find more details about each gift on the Oxfam website.

Thank you!

And if anyone feels like contributing, please email me. Every dollar counts.

Waiting for your votes and linking this one up to Jess from Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Going back to the beginning

Things haven't been great between hubby and I recently.

You know how it goes: Boy meets girl and at the beginning they spend hours looking into each others eyes, they have long walks on the beach where they talk about their dreams for the future and every minute apart is spent daydreaming about their latest conversation.

He cannot do anything wrong and she is the most beautiful thing to have ever walked on this earth.

And then, the honeymoon phase slowly slips away and in comes reality.

They get more comfortable with each other. Her legs are spiky more often than not and he burps like it's a sport.

They talk less.
Sex is scheduled for every Friday night.
And the only walks on the beach are to collect sand for the cat litter.

And that's not even taking into consideration the changes that having kids bring to your marriage!

Hubby and I are well past the honeymoon phase. And recently we've been arguing a lot. And I mean A LOT!

I have the training. I know all the tips and tricks. I know how to fight in a 'healthy' manner. I counsel couples for a living! And none of that stops my couple from experiencing the same troubles as others. Because before being a psychologist, I'm a human.

Arguments are healthy of course. It worries me when I hear couples say that they never argue. You are two different people with a different upbringing, different rules, different values, different dreams. If you are not arguing, then it means one of you is always giving in. And that's not healthy.

But there is a point of course where arguments become unhealthy. And we've definitely reached that point.

It seems like we are constantly at each others throat. Bickering about the littlest thing. It's slowly been getting more and more unpleasant. To the point where the other night I was trying to imagine what it would look like if we separated and I was wondering whether life would be better or worse than what we have now. That sucks.

But when I married him, we vowed that it was "for better or for worse" and I take that seriously (although the worse bit does have it's limits - if he ever cheats on me or abuses me or the kids, I'm out of here!).

But on the whole, I do believe that marriage is a sacred thing and that too many couples take the "easy" way out rather than working on their problems (and I do believe that sometimes, separating IS the best option).

There are many, many ways to improve your relationship. Google it and you'll come up with a thousand and one "tried and tested" ways to get the sparkle back.

There is one thing that always works for me: going back to the beginning.

Remembering why I fell in love with him in the first place. What attracted me to him. Remembering those long walks on the beach. That first kiss. Waking up to find him looking at me sleep. Remembering dancing in his arms at our wedding.

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 It's not about going back to the honeymoon stage. That's over and long gone. It's about taking some time out of the daily grind, and reminding ourselves that the love is not dead, its just hidden behind life.

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How did you fall in love?

Friday, 16 December 2011

Will donate for "likes"...

With only 4 days to go, I'm reposting this one.
On the 1st of December I pledged to donate 50c for every 'like' and new follower that I got on Facebook, Twitter and my blog.
Some of you suggested Oxfam as the organisation to donate to, so that's what we're doing. With the money we raise, we can buy breakfast for kids, some farm animals for a family or contribute to a woman's shelter.

At the moment, you've raised enough money to donate a piglet or a goat, or 4 chickens or 2 mozzie nets.

Image from the Oxfam website

Once the 20th comes, I'll be running a poll to see what you want the money to buy.
Image from the Oxfam website

So spread the word!!

The original post:
I went shopping today and came back with some new decorations for the Christmas tree.

While we were putting them up, hubby saw the price tags ($40 total) and said: "That could feed a whole family for a week in Afghanistan!"

He was saying it jokingly.
Knowing him, he would've spent much more if he'd gone shopping. I'm the reasonable one in this relationship!

But it got me thinking... and feeling guilty (that bloody guilt again!). I spent $40 on pretty little items to put on my tree. And there are families out there who go hungry. Parents who can't put presents under the christmas tree.

I am not suggesting that we stop enjoying Christmas because some are not as privileged. But maybe we can give something back.

Not very long ago someone posted on this topic (so sorry, but I've forgotten who it was). I commented and said that I'd think about a way I could give back and that she could hold me to it. Well I've figured it out.

This is what I'm going to do: for every new "like" I get on Facebook, and every new "follower" I get on Twitter and for every new member on this site, between now and midday on the 20th of December, I will donate 50 cents. It may not sound like a lot, but in a month and a half of blogging I've had almost 300 likers on Facebook alone - I'm a bit nervous about making it any more just in case you ruin me!

As it stands right now (1st of December at 9:21pm), there are:
274 Facebook likers
84 Twitter Followers
and 56 Site members.

I haven't yet thought about what to do with the money. Some ideas are: buy presents and donate to an organisation who distributes them to the underprivileged kids, blankets for the homeless, gifts for older people who don't have family?

What do you think? Do you know of any organisation that we could donate the money or gifts bought with the money to?

This is one starfish we can throw back in the ocean. (If I've just lost you, check out this post: Making a difference... one starfish at a time...)

I'm linking this one up to Flog Yo Blog Friday, hosted by Glowless. Heaps of other great blogs there.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Christmas post with a difference

I swore I wouldn't write a Christmas post. There are enough bloggers doing a great job at it.

But then I got thinking about the link between Christmas and Mental Health.

For many, this is a time of great happiness. You see the extended family again, perhaps go on holidays and water the festivities with a good dose of alcohol, which never fails to brighten the mood!

And how exciting is Christmas with little ones! The magic of believing in Santa. The sparkle in their eyes when they wake up and find he came to THEIR house and left them presents under the tree!!!

But... Christmas is a time of great misery for many.

Those who have lost loved ones. Jess from Diary of a SAHM knows a mum who died recently, leaving a husband and two little ones to spend Christmas alone.

Those who don't have a family. The homeless, the old. The suicide rate goes up during the festive season. Did you know that? I can't imagine being home alone on Christmas. No dinner, no friends or family to share the joy with, no presents. I'd go to bed early. Maybe watch some TV. I know I'd feel very sad. It's harder to forget that you are lonely on Christmas.

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And what about those in prisons? No matter how you feel about them being in prison, the reality is, this is not a happy time for them or their families either.

Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who was also a survivor of the holocaust, wrote about his experiences in the concentration camps. He says that the death rate in the camps went up during the week between Christmas 1944 and New Year 1945. The food was not any worst than usual. The hard physical work had not changed. There was no epidemy.

What happened, was that the prisoners of the concentration camp had held hope that they would be home by Christmas. And when Christmas came and went and they were still living in those miserable conditions, they gave up and died.

I'm sorry to be raining on the good festive mood. I don't mean to depress anyone with this post. But maybe just to highlight that, for some, Christmas is a terribly sad time.

Maybe this Christmas, you could invite a lonely neighbour to join your dinner, or pay a visit to a long forgotten aunt, maybe just a phone call, and spare them the pain of a lonely Christmas.

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Is there something you can do this Christmas to brighten someone's mood?

Monday, 12 December 2011

When I grow up, I'd like to be... a serial killer.

Yesterday I posted a question that would determine whether or not you had the potential to be a serial killer. If you have not read it yet, go there, and then come back here for the answer.

But before we get to that...

I have a confession... yes another one... but I guess that's what I do...

A few years ago, I wanted to be a 'serial killer' when I grew up.

I'm not, and don't really want to be one either. Actually, I don't want to be one at all.
I just had a bit of a fascination with them. Especially the really intelligent ones. Cos they usually are. I thought how exciting, fun, amazing (can't think of a word that won't make it sound like I'm a total nut!) it would be to be one of those famous serial killers. One of those that leaves clues for the police and still don't get caught. One of those that sends letters to the newspapers about their next crime.

Anyway, I was young and stupid. Very stupid. And you'll be glad to hear that I have grown out of that stage! I can't stand the sight of blood, and get my husband to throw out the spiders because I feel bad killing them, never mind actually murdering someone!

Serial killers are fascinating yes, but only as far as I can study them and get into their brains and better understand what makes them tick. They are very sick people. I have had the opportunity to work with some. Fascinating but very unwell.

Anyone still here?? Hello?

And now for the answer...

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When the question was paused to serial killers, they all reportedly said that she killed her sister in the hope that the guy would come to the funeral and she could see him again. Serial killers think that way apparently...
You'll be glad to know I didn't get the 'right' answer.

Now if you'll please excuse me, I have a few people I have to remove from my followers list.

Linking up with Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Are you serial killer potential?

A woman went to her mother's funeral and met a young man there, whom she instantly fell in love with.
Two weeks later, she killed her sister.

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This question was reportedly asked to a bunch of serial killers who all gave the same answer.

Now, us psychs are good, but not THAT good that we can pick serial killers by just asking one question. You would need batteries of tests to pick the psychopaths.

Nevertheless, why don't you play along and tell me why you think the woman killed her sister. And I'll tell you if you have the potential to be a serial killer.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Evil in all of us

If you'd been born a German in the early 1900s, would you have been better or worst than the thousands who tortured? Would you have been brave enough to hide a Jewish family? Or would you have been one of those who gave them away for a gold coin?

Would you have given some bread to the starving child sitting on the side of the road? Or would you have joined in stoning his father?

We all like to think that we would have been one of those brave souls who stood up to the authorities and did the right thing. But unfortunately most of us wouldn't have.

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In the 1960s a man called Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment where he asked his subjects (the teachers) to administer an electric shock to a "learner" every time he got an answer wrong. What the subjects didn't know is that the learner was an actor and that he was not actually receiving electric shocks.

The teacher sat in a room with the experimenter (the authority), and the learner sat in a different room. They had audio contact. Every time the learner gave the wrong answer, the teacher was to give an electric shock, going up in increments of 15 volts.

As the experiment progressed, the learner's cries got louder and more desperate. At some point he starts pleading with them to stop and says that he has a heart condition. He then starts banging on the wall and then goes silent.

How many do you think administered the full 450 volts?

Take a guess?



Would you have gone all the way?

Well 65% of us would've.
That's right 65% administered the full dose!
Even after the learner was pleading, screaming.
Even after he went silent.

The experiment was about how we obey authority. All of the subjects at some point voiced concern and said that they were not comfortable continuing. But when the experiementer - dressed in his white labcoat - told them to continue, they did.

It is easy to sit here today and blame the many in history who went along with horrific acts. And I am not saying that their behaviour was acceptable because they were following orders. But perhaps, when caught between power and fear, we would've done the same.

May we be spared ever having to pick a side.
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*I have not included a video of the Milgram experiment here as it can be a bit distressing. But if you are interested, there are numerous videos of the original as well as more recent versions of the experiment on YouTube.

Linking up with Where's my Glow for Flog Yo Blog Friday.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Mummy cuddles: where does the line lie?

I'm struggling with something.
Something I shouldn't have to struggle with...
Something I'm not sure I should be voicing out.

But this space is about my struggles. My conflicts. It's about talking about those subjects we can't in our society. At least not comfortably.
So here goes...

I'm struggling with what is appropriate when it comes to affection and physical touch with my kids.

Don't go calling Child Safety just yet. Hear me out.

I know what is NOT right. I will NEVER get sexual with my kids. (Even writing this makes me cringe).

What I don't know, is where that line lies exactly (sounds wrong again - let me explain).

My little boy is 2. At bed time I lie in bed with him to read him a story. We cuddle and I play with his hair. I touch his arms, kiss his tummy, tickle him. Normal mummy affection. I know that. I write this down now, and I know that our affection is in NO WAY inappropriate.And I know what WOULD be inappropriate. But I guess in the moment, I struggle with it.

The issue is partly that the line keeps moving as they grow up too.

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What was OK a year ago, no longer is. And what is OK now, won't be in a few years. I mean, if I were lying in bed with my 15 year old, reading him a story while playing in his hair, that wouldn't sit right with me.

You know how when they are little they run to you and bury their face in your crotch. And at that age it's OK, but at what point does it stop being OK? That's what I'm struggling with.

Maybe I struggle too because 2 year olds don't know where the line is. I don't think they even know that there is a line!

When I'm breast-feeding bub, my 2 year old will sometimes try to put my breast in his brother's mouth. Is that ok? Is it ok that my 2 year old is touching my breasts in that context? It would be if I were still breast-feeding him. But does the fact that I no longer am breastfeeding him change things? Maybe...

At the moment I will sometimes have a bath with the boys. That's ok with me. But when do they become too old for that?

Those are the questions I'm struggling with. I have no doubt that it is related to my abuse. But what do I do with it now? I am so concerned about doing what's right by my kids. And it is so hard in a society where different rules apply to different ages and genders. In a society where what is right for one person is not for another.

I'd love to hear what you have to say. How do you handle this? Feel free to leave a comment anonymously. And feel free to tell me if you disagree with me. This blog is about a safe place where we can talk about 'unspeakable' issues.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The cat ate your penis!

The difficult conversation NONE of us wants to have with our kids: masturbation!

If you are like most parents, your child at some point will start masturbating. Most kids actually start as toddlers. It's not a concept we find easy to swallow, but the reality is, kids are born sexual. Not as in, wanting to have sex, but as sexual beings who "feel good" when playing with their genitals.

Well what did you expect?? They wake up one day as a 13 year old and it suddenly starts to feel good? Well... NO!

So, now that you are over the shock... feeling ok? Back to the topic.

So what do you do when your 2 year old starts spending a lot of time with their hands down their undies?

As much as I want to freak out and tell him he is to NEVER EVER do that EVER again, I don't.

I tell him that he can play with his penis if he wants to, but he needs to do it in his room as it's something private. Now, I know some people will disagree, but I really think it's important for our kids to grow up with the sense that sex is a healthy, normal part of life.
Mmmmm... just not that normal that they can share it with everyone else!

I think a lot of us have grown up with the sense that sex is wrong, dirty, sinful and you've got to wonder how that affects your sex life as an adult (probably more so women than men).

The other thing I NEVER tell my little boy (if he's playing with it or walking around naked) is that "the cat will eat it" or "it'll get infected and fall off" or give him some idea that he'll lose it.

Freud theorised that little boys developed a castration fear when they realised that girls didn't have a penis. He reckons they thought little girls had had their penis cut off as punishment for something, and worried that they'd have theirs cut off too.

Now... I know!... Sounds a bit far fetched. I'll give you that.
But hey, I'm not taking any chances. I don't want my little boy growing up neurotically worrying about losing his penis.
Seriously though! I reckon if he woke up one morning and his penis had fallen off, he'd be totally traumatised (so would I!!).

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So there's no threatening the loss of penises in our home.

Please do note, that this is my opinion as a mum not a psychologist. I have not specialised in early masturbation...
Or any masturbation for that matter.
Thank goodness for that!

And don't ask me about little girls. I don't know. I don't have any.

How do you deal with it? Do you have girls? Would love to hear from you too!

Linking up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM for IBOT. Loads of interesting reads there!

How NOT to propose.

Last week-end I was out at the local bowls club for dinner with a couple of friends.

All of a sudden a group of people start cheering.

We eventually work out that someone has proposed to his girlfriend. And she said YES.
She said YES??!

Unh-Hun! She said yes when he proposed to her AT THE LOCAL BOWLS CLUB!!

Can it get much worst?? Who proposes at the local bowls club?? If that'd been me, I would've said "TRY AGAIN!"

I'm not saying it needs to be an expensive exercise. Take me to the beach, even propose at home over dinner and candles. But for pete's sake NOT AT THE LOCAL BOWLS CLUB!

The only time that would be acceptable is if it was one of those movie moments where they've had an argument and he's leaving the country tomorrow and he comes to the local bowls club where she works and tells her he can't live without her, will she marry him!! Then yes! But not like this! Not over dinner at the local bowls club!

I was going to write a post about how NOT to propose but there are so many ways NOT to propose (with a borrowed ring, with a ring your mum has chosen, while saying "I couldn't find anyone better than you") that I've given up.
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Just please don't do it at the local bowls club!

How did you get engaged? What are the no-nos for you?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What is Mickey Mouse doing under the sea??

This one is just for fun...

Recently I posted about hidden sex messages in Disney movies.
So now that you are all enlightened, did you know that Disney also hides Disney characters in other disney movies?

The reason? That depends how far along the conspiracy-believing spectrum you are.
Some say its just for a bit of fun.
Others believe it is about getting the adult Disney nerds enthusiasts to pour over each movie to try and find the hidden characters.
For the skeptics amongst us, this is Disney's way of subliminally getting us to seek and buy other Disney movies.

Here are a few examples:

The Beast in Aladdin

Scar in Hercules

Lotso in Up

Sebastian in Aladdin

Mickey, Goofy and Donald in The Little Mermaid

Mrs Potts and Chip in Tarzan

And there are hundreds of those. Pretty much in every Disney movie.

Ever noticed them?