Monday, October 24, 2016

There's Life After - How you can support a year 12 student facing exams

The final exams are coming up for year 12 students, now while I never did the exam subjects (well I did English) I do know what it's like to live with a year 12 student who is going through them. My youngest sister Jocelyn is currently getting ready to sit her final exams and I know that she can't wait for them to be over! I am amazed at the amount of preasure that the kids face when it comes to these exams they are made to feel like that the results shape their whole lives, when they don't.
ReachOut is encouraging everyone to share their exam experiences and use the #thereslifeafter tag. I know I celebrated once my final exam was done as high school was finally over and I could close the door on that part of my life.
The chances are you will know someone who is getting ready to go through their exams and you are wondering how you can support them, well here are some tips:
  • Give them space! - don't expect to see them during the day unless its for food or for a quick break.
  • Don't talk about how the study is going. - yes ask them if they are surviving it but don't dwell on it, instead ask about their plans for once exams are done focus on beyond the exams.
  • Share with them the Theres Life After videos. - these are great videos that show various media personalities sharing their experiences about what they did after their exams and how they felt during the exam period. Everyone's exam experience is different but it does help to know that other people have gone through it.
  • Do little things to help them. - grab them their favourite snacks, buy them some fun stationary, send them a funny meme etc. its the little things that will help them keep going and make their day.
  • Ask how you can help when it comes to study. - maybe they need space, maybe they need someone to help quiz them on human bio or maybe they need to have a steady supply of snacks coming. Everyone retains information differently so its good ask if there is any way you can help them.
Exams suck but ReachOut is here to help and to show people that there is life after exams (and year 12).

ReachOut is encouraging everyone from the 4th of November to share a pic of themselves (like the one below) sharing what they did (on social media) after exams. It could be what you did the moment you were done with the exams of what you have done since exams have ended. Just remember to include on and use #thereslifeafter tag when you post it.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

This week has been busy but not as busy as some, still 100% quiet on the job front though :(
Its meant to be warming up this weekend finally after what feels like an endless Winter (I know I know come Summer when we're in the middle of the heatwave I will do anything to have it be Winter again!). I also had my first breathalyser experience which was interesting, I mean I know they normally pick on P Platers but up until now I have always been ignored. Of course I had nothing to worry about as the only thing I had been drinking was Sprite Zero, so it was a rather uneventful experience and took all of 1 minute, I can now cross that off the driving bucket list!
Moving onto Five Friday Favourites (which happen fortnightly if you haven't figured that out!):

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert - I received a copy of this book to review and I loved it. Candace knows how to write books and Maybe It's you did not disapoint. Click the link to read the full review and what it's about.

The Handmade Box - I love subscription boxes but it can be hard to stick to an annual subscription when you're unemployed and I find that while I love receiving a box every month I just don't need more stuff (or an ongoing expense). The Handmade Box while it is a subscription box at the start of each month there are a couple of boxes (each based around a theme) and a mini box and you can decide to purchase a box (or boxes) if you want with no long term committment. I love the boxes and the few I have purchased have been well worth it! I love how all the products in the box are handmade and there is always a great selection of products. The Christmas boxes have just been released and with 9 to choose from there's a great selection, I bought the Secret Santa box for myself and the Stocking Box for Jocelyn for Christmas and can't for them to arrive.

Staedtler Noris Club Triangular Colour Fibre Tip Pens 10 Pack - These were a total impulse buy one day when I was at Office Works but I am glad I bought them, I use them for colouring in and find the tips are the perfect size for the small areas that some pictures have. The colours are vibrant and they feel great to use, if you are after a decent texta to use for colouring in buy these.

Cinnamon Scrolls - This is one of my most requested things to bake and no one ever believes me when I tell them how easy they are to bake! You can easily cut down on the time by making the dough in the food processor (just gradually add in the butter until it resembles wet sand then slowly add in the milk until dough forms). I have made these so many times and its gotten to the point where I am known for them in church. When they are baking the smell of the house is seriously amazing and if I am able to I will often bake them at the place where I am serving them because nothing beats them warm. Give them a go and see how easy they are to bake :)

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water - This has quite a cult following and once you try it its easy to see why. In one step it removes make up (even the toughest eye make up!), cleanses and soothes the skin, it feels so light to use and its non irritating. I love this stuff so much and its one of those all rounder products that once you start using you will wonder how you lived without it. My skin always feels amazing after using it, I just apply some to a make up remover wipe (once I've used it to wipe my face) and it gets everything the wipe didn't get.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Book Review: Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert (advance copy)

If you know me you will know that I love reading and will read for hours. I was recently given the
chance to review Candace Calvert's latest book due to be released early next year.
I first came across Candace's books at the library but was super hesitant to start reading them as I'm not a fan of hospitals/medical procedures and the books are all set around hospitals. I watch two medical TV shows Scrubs and Saving Hope and that's because the general medical stuff happens in the background and the shows are based around the characters.
I finally decided to give her books a chance when I was in a bit of a reading slump and figured the worst that could happen is I stop the book and move onto something else well its safe to say I loved her books. Just like the TV shows the storylines are really based around the characters and the hospital stuff happens in the backgrounds and to sometimes add some drama. So as someone who is not a fan of hospitals and has almost fainted in many science class dissections (fine and watching a C-section for childcare class) these books not only kept me reading but wanting more...

Moving onto Candace's latest book Maybe It's You, the blurb reads (taken from Candace's website):

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past—new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards.
Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.
Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past.
Can hope spring from crisis?

We had previously been introduced to Sloane in her last book Step By Step, so we know a bit of her background and what made her leave her last hospital. While you can read Candace's books in any order, I would recommend that you read Step By Step before you read Maybe It's You just so you have a bit more understanding about her past. Maybe It's You also includes a cat, Marty which ups the cute factor in this book (can more books includes cats please!!!).

One thing I really loved about Maybe It's You was that none of the main characters were perfect, in so many Christian books the main characters are seemingly perfect and its how they deal with their struggles - which isn't a bad thing just not that relatable in this day and age. Where as these characters are each dealing with their pasts and how that made them see themselves in the present day. Sloane has lived in fear for so many years and now she finds a place where she wants to stay and things are holding her back from opening up to people and putting down roots.
Sloane has never had it easy and we can see how that affects her judgement and how willing she is to trust people.
At the beginning of the book Sloane takes comfort in knowing that she has rescued her cat Marty and believing that she can rescue herself. Throughout the book she begins to slowly realise that she may need people (and God) to help rescue her.
I loved the storyline and how the characters just wove together with it beautifully, the love of God also shone through. I am all about the characters when it comes to books (and movies and TV shows)and they need to have good chemistry the characters were amazing and just connected so well together, I just love how even small characters were connected in with the book perfectly. I read so many books and at least half the books I read are Christian Fiction so I know this genre and these things really made the book stand out for me.
I would probably compare Candace's style to Dee Henderson's (but not as dark) with a dashes of Jenny B Jones, Rachel Hauck and Denise Hunter so if you love those authors then definitely read her books.

Maybe It's You gets released on the 7th of February and its well worth the wait! You can pre-order it on Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, and where all Christian books are sold.

*For those wondering how accurate the medical side of things is while I am unable to personally comment on it, Candace was an ER nurse for many years and has used her own experiences during that time in her books. So for me coming from a non medical I felt that it was accurate from what I have heard and seen, but if you do have a medical background its up to you to decide.

**I was provided with a temporary EPUB copy of Maybe It's You in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are 100% mine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mental Health Week

This week is Mental Health Week and its a week when people are made more aware of mental health and illness. 1 in 4 young adults will go through a mental health issue (or illness) at some stage and so many people are shocked that it's so high, as no one really talks about it. I still get people looking at me shocked that I am so open about my anxiety struggle, when at the end of the day in order for them to get to know and understand me they must know that I struggle with anxiety.
In order not to let my anxiety effect my life I have to be so aware of my mental health, some days I am fine and other days I really have to take it one thing at a time.

I have done many posts over the years to do with mental health so below are some posts that really stand out for me:

How You Can Help Someone Who is Going Through a Mental Illness - If you know someone going through a hard time, I've written a list of dos and don'ts on how you can help them.

My Anxiety. My Mental Health. My Story. - This was such a big thing for me to write about but I have received so much positive feedback surrounding the post. It will give you an overview of just how a mental illness can affect someone and the types of treatment they may seek during their diagnosis.

Mental Illness in TV Shows -  This was meant to be a part of a 3 part series but only 2 parts got written. Once I started writing this post I was amazed with how many TV shows cover mental illness, which go unnoticed.

Mental Illness in Movies - The second part of the above series. It just covers some films that show mental illness, though I was annoyed when I could only think of two recent films. Hopefully there will be more films in the future where one of the characters suffers a mental illness.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health - A few easy ways that you can take care of your mental health. I notice a huge difference

Mental Vs Physical -The differences in how mental illnesses get treated compared to physical illnesses, and should we really be ashamed to speak up when we are struggling due to a mental illness.

Limiting My Anxiety - How I limit my anxiety in my day to day life, this covers things such as diet, sleep and down time. Its a good read if you or someone else has anxiety and is looking at ways to limit it as much as possible.

This week is all about raising awarness of mental health, so be sure to talk about it and bring it up in conversation. The more people talk about mental health and illness the less stigma there will be surrounding it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

I can't believe another week is over! I have started to see Christmas stuff in store and its hard to believe that soon the year will almost be over. I have been enjoying having a quiet week and just relaxing as next week is looking to be really busy. Saturday I have the mentor workshop, then next Wednesday I have a stall at a mental health expo, Thursday I am picking up Jocelyn from an exam (followed by lunch) in the morning/afternoon followed by the mentor program launch at night (in the middle of that I have Megan's friend to walk), and Friday I am preparing for Jocelyn's birthday high tea on Saturday. The job front is really quiet and I haven't heard anything back from the jobs I have applied for so if you could please pray that I hear some good news that would be great, I just feel so stuck in that area!
Moving on to Friday Favourites:

Designated Survivor - I am not normally in to political shows but this one has me wanting more! The concept is super interesting and the characters are great. If you like Suits the chances are you will like this, but the storyline (so far) isn't as intense. Its actually filmed on the same set lot as Suits and has just been given a full season order. Netflix is actually releasing weekly episodes, so we get it just after the US which is a bonus :)

Stitchers Season 3 - in the best tv show news this week, Stitchers has finally been renewed! I am super stoked for a 3rd season of this great show and if you haven't watched it now's the perfect time to check it out.

Mental Health Week - next week is mental health week, which is a great week to talk about mental health and mental illness. There are heaps of events running around and the aim is to raise awareness and get people talking about their mental health. With suicide one of the leading causes of death in young adults we really need to be made aware of mental health and what we can do to prevent more deaths.

Havaianas Freedom sandals - I am slowly beginning to think about Summer despite it feeling like it will stay in this winter like state forever and I have just ordered these sandals to put me in a Summer mood. Unlike the other sandals Havaianas offer these have an adjustable strap so there isn't any chance of them slipping off your feet. I pretty much live in sandals in summer and find a rubber base is best for my feet and these last really well (I got the Flash style last year and wore them non stop and they still look new!).

There's Life After - continuing with the mental health theme, every year ReachOut launches a 'There's Life After Year 12' campaign (is that what's it called?) to let Year 12's that there is a life after the major exams they take. I never took these exams but I currently live in a house where my younger sister is preparing to take them and I really appreciate what this campaign is saying. It seems like year 12s face so much pressure with these exams and its ok to be stressed and unsure what the future holds. Its well worth checking out if you or someone you know is facing the ATAR exams.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Catching Up - this past weekend, job applications and online workshops

Well I survived the weekend! Despite a major lack of sleep, my anxiety deciding to rear itself (which would not go away despite me using every trick in the book!), getting hit by various objects (more on that later) and weather that is so not Spring (where's the early 20 degree days not the 16 degree days and raining).
I left at 4.00 Friday afternoon and managed to skip the worst of the traffic as Gem and I were doing dinner and my idea of fun isn't sitting stop start on the freeway. After grabbing some pizza and chilling for a bit I got to the gym where we staying at around 8.30 and helped set up and figure out what sports I was volunteering at. We are so lucky that we get a gym all to ourselves rather than sharing with multiple churches and it really helps knowing that we all get our own space. There's also the option of sleeping on the gym matts rather than taking down air mattresses. One of things we had to do when we got to the gym was get down the matts from where they were stored and of course one managed get loose and hit me, thankfully I wasn't injured (I just laughed for a few minutes) despite getting an offer to call an ambulance! One of my friends was volunteering doing first aid at various sports and had decided that he wanted to call an ambulance, of course after realising that he would get very few major (or minor) injuries at the sports he was at he decided that I was his bet best. Luckily for me that didn't happen but it became a joke that if there was any chance that I could get hit by spectating something I would get hit.
The next day I was only down to volunteer for the morning session which meant I got the rest of the day off. I ended up watching some ultimate Frisbee in the afternoon where despite spectating I managed to get by a Frisbee in the eye no less. By this stage I was wondering whether I should result to wearing a helmet full time during the weekend! Thankfully that was the last of getting hit by items accidently (I did get roped into playing dodgeball on Saturday night but I was expecting to get hit then).
The rest of weekend passed ok but I found that I could not just get to sleep or get comfortable at nights so that didn't help with my anxiety levels. Thankfully Gem came to the rescue and offered me a bed (not knowing just how much I needed it) on the last night which I eagerly accepted, so I at least got a decent nights sleep before I had to drive back on Monday morning.
I didn't end up staying for the closing ceremony as I had an online workshop to start which I was eager to get into. But we came 2nd in small churches and 9th overall which isn't too bad!

Moving on to other news! I am proud to announce that I have been accepted into ReachOut's peer support program, which means getting involved on the forum side of things and was the online workshop I needed to start. I am super excited to get more involved with ReachOut, ReachOut has opened so many doors for me, so applying to do this program seemed like the next step and I am thrilled to do it.
I have also been accepted into a mentorship program run at the local youth centre, I applied on a whim and figured its something else to do and as I am enjoying ReachOut so much I might as well expand my horizons.

On the job application front its been quiet, I actually had a job interview on the 16th (the day after my birthday) but the moment I got the call I felt like it was a 'warm up' interview. I had applied for the job on the Monday as it was one of those jobs that ticked all the boxes on paper but didn't expect to hear anything back from, so to get an interview was a surprise. It was my first interview in 6 months so it was good to get back into that frame of mind, I went and gave it my all but in the end it wasn't meant to be (which I had accepted as soon as the interview was over). I just didn't 'click' with the people and while the hours were good I knew deep down this job wasn't for me and walked out completely at peace with it all.
I am still praying that I will hear back from the job I applied for a couple of weeks ago and know that it is in God's hands. These past few weeks have been so busy that I haven't really dwelled on it and have just kept on praying about it.
 I couldn't help think about how much can change in a year, this time last year I was working. I remember driving down to the gym in my work clothes after work and feeling exhausted from work. This time I drove down when I wanted to and felt exhausted from a concert the night before. I can't help but wonder what I will be doing this time next year? How much will things have changed?

I know that God has a plan for me and nothing he does is ever a coincidence, so for now I know I am where I am meant to be and I am feeling excited for what the future holds.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

This weekend I am heading down south to volunteer at the inter church sports competition and I couldn't be more excited :) we are wanting to defend our title of the small church winners so if you guys could pray for that that would be awesome or just pray that everyone stays safe and no one gets injured doing anything stupid (mainly me!). Also that the weather won't be too bad there is a high chance of rain this weekend and playing sports in the rain is rarely fun (and scoring sports in the rain isn't fun either) so pray for decent weather too!

Last night Megan and I went to see The Next Step in concert and after months of counting down it was worth it! By the end of the concert I was just in awe of their talent and dancing skills and how friendly they were. They made an effort to interact with the audience and for the Q and A Trevor (who plays James in the show and is in FullOut) walked around with a microphone which was really personal and unexpected.
They had a good range of dancing to showcase their skills (and personalities how they managed to incorporate them into dance is beyond me) and it was really full on. We had really good seats, 5 rows from the stage and right in the middle and they were so worth it, we could see everything and it just made the experience that much better, if they ever do another trip over here then Megan and I will for sure go and see them.
We got there early and were able to grab some dinner at a nearby café before hand and then went to get some merch before the crowds got too bad. Surprisingly the merch wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be, posters were $10 ($40 signed) and that was the bottom end the most expensive thing was a hoodie at $70 (shirts were around $50).
It was such a fun night and I am still on a high from it all :)

Moving on to Five Friday Favourites:

Dance Academy The Movie - I spent my teen years watching this, I laughed, cried and just obsessed over every little detail and longed to have the coordination to be a ballet dancer. So I am super excited that next year a follow up movie is being released. I can't wait to see what Tara and the rest of the gang has been up to.

The Balm How Bout Them Apples - I have been wanting this palate for so long (since I got a tiny sample of one of the colours in a sub box a few years ago) but couldn't justify buying it. I mean $30

on a lip/cheek cream palate am I really going to use them all? Well my little sister bought it for me for my birthday and I am loving it! Its just a good quality multiuse palate and the 6 colours are great, they go on so smoothly and are long lasting.

Apples To Apples - I played this a couple of weeks ago at Saturday night games and it was such a fun game! Cards Against Humanity was based on this game, so if you've played that you know the idea you get a word and you have to pick whichever card in your hand you think will go best. The best part is when people justify certain cards which always ends in laughter.

Lauren Conrad Celebrate - growing up my favourite bedtime story was looking through cake decorating books, I used to love picking out my future birthday cake and planning my future party. Now days I stick to fiction before bed but I still love cake decorating books and party planning. This book is such a beautiful book and the party ideas are great, from baby showers to tea parties to weddings to birthdays this book covers it all. It would be a great gift for a friend who loves organising events or just a great bed time read!

Kikki K 2017 Diaries - call me organised but yes I have my 2017 diary already! I love Kikki  K diaries and couldn't resist buying one with my birthday voucher I got from them. I can't use an electronic diary (like a phone), I have tried but it doesn't work for me. Of course with a cute diary why would you even want to?! This is the one I have, its a great size not too big or small so I can write in it and it will fit in my bag, it also includes a notebook, fun stickers and a couple of pockets (I keep the odd business card I get in them). A bonus is that Kikki K every month has diary lovers rewards so sometimes you get an extra discount, freebee on purchase or another surprise so it keeps on giving.