SIX WAYS TO FIND YOURSELF AFTER DIVORCE GET YOUR SLICE OF THE SETTLEMENT PIE
JOIN US ON OUR HEALING TREK TO NEPAL!
THE SOLO MUM ON A MISSION TO TRAVEL THE WORLD!
HAVE A GLOBAL FOOD ADVENTURE AT HOME!
the e-magazine for any mum flying solo www.liftmagazine.com.au | 1
heart if your
has been BROKEN INTO LITTLE PIECEs,
rearrange them into a
mosaic Jill Marcy
The 365 Day Sanctuary is Lift Magazine’s private Facebook group where you can come to recover, seek advice and meet women who have been where you are now. If you’d like to join us, email firstname.lastname@example.org the 365 day for solo mums
Lift Magazine is for the mother who can never be broken. The mother who could get knocked down a thousand times but will keep getting up. Every. Single. Time. She is strong, she is resilient. She wears a thousand hats and deftly juggles her role of mother, friend, career woman, chef, entertainer, comforter, chief snot wiper, educator and funny little teapot... Although, she often forgets to give herself enough credit for all she does. Yet she does it and she does it solo, a quiet determination upon her face, her battle cry ‘I will not be defeated’ hidden not far below the surface of her cool, calm exterior. But at night, as she turns out the lights and kisses her dear ones upon their tiny brows, she may feel a weight upon her shoulders, the pressure of being a good mum, of being the one who fixes everything and the one who says it’s going to be alright even though she has no idea if it really will be. Lift is the online magazine and support group for single mums. We’re here when you need a lift, we’re here when you feel like you want to give up, we’re here when you need new ideas because your brain is drowning in a fog of sleep deprivation, and we’re here when you need a coffee and a conversation. You may be flying solo, but you are definitely not alone. And you are fabulous. www.liftmagazine.com.au | 3
contents FIND YOURSELF AFTER SEPARATION AND DIVORCE
HAVE A GLOBAL FOOD ADVENTURE AT HOME
10 30 OPEN YOUR HEART AND MIND TO YOGA
FIND A FOCUS & CHANGE YOUR LIFE
CREATE NEW FAMILY BONDS WITH THE HELP OF FURRY FRIENDS
LIFT’S VERY OWN ONLINE STORE IS NOW OPEN!
52 8 WAYS TO BRING DATING BACK TO LIFE
AN INTERVIEW WITH TINA FROM SINGLE MUM TRAVELS
14 GET YOUR SLICE OF THE SETTLEMENT PIE
54 BOOK REVIEW - FIND A MORE EMPOWERED ‘YOU’
JOIN US ON OUR HEALING TREK TO NEPAL!
46 38 38 COOL THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE KIDDIE-FREE
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
IF THERE’S ANY TIME IN YOUR LIFE TO RE-CREATE YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFE, IT’S AFTER SEPARATION & DIVORCE.
Being a single mum comes with certain restrictions - on your time, your finances, and in some ways, your freedom. And so, late at night, when you finally have a moment to yourself, you dream of ducking off to Italy and feeding your face until you end up in a food coma or meditating until you find that f*#ing sense of calm that’s hiding in the same place your little cherub has hidden your toothbrush. It’s easy to sit there and wish your circumstances were different. They’re not. That doesn’t mean you have to let your dreams die. You can make changes, find alternatives, have adventures, take control of your financial future, learn new skills, build a new and totally complete family unit or whatever it is that’s screaming out from the depths of your heart to be brought into reality. In this issue of Lift, we’re bringing you ways to do just that. AND.... I’m so totally psyched to announce that, after what seems like eons of planning, I’ve just finalised one very special healing trek to Nepal. And you are invited, and your kiddies can come too. We have ten spaces available. Sweethearts, now is the time for you. Yes you. Remember you? It’s your life too.
THE 365 DAY SANCTUARY
k e r T g n i l a e H e s e l a 2015 Nep
Walk away from your past and into your future in one of the most stunning and spiritual destinations on earth... Starting in Kathmandu, our ten-day, child-friendly healing trek takes us from the imposing landmark of the sacred Boudhantha Stupa on to Pokhara where we walk through local villages and rolling hills surrounded by breathtaking panoramic mountain vistas to our final destination of Poon Hill. During the days we’ll trek, with children carried by porters or riding donkeys if they’re not old enough to walk, we’ll also nap (mostly for the children’s sake, but hey, why not treat yourself to one too?) and visit local tea houses, then in the evenings, when all is quiet and calm from the day’s activities, we’ll take time for ourselves in workshops created in collaboration with some of Lift’s expert contributors - to heal, to forgive and to empower ourselves to create the brightest futures we can possibly imagine. Dates: November TBC I Child-friendly I Prices start at USD$2,749 For more information contact: Naomi Gora Lift Magazine/The 365 Day Sanctuary 0409 322 977 I email@example.com
for any mum flying solo
Tanya Kellen - Mobile Travel Agents www.mtatravel.com.au/tkellen 0421 986 733 I firstname.lastname@example.org
www.liftmagazine.com.au | 7
CONTRIBUTORS NAOMI GORA Editor / Graphic designer / Trekker / Single mum After documenting her bumpy landing into single motherhood in her award-winning daily blog ‘365 Days, a Diary of a Newly Single Mum’, Naomi decided to start Lift e-magazine and support group as a place where newly single mums can find hope and empowerment as they journey into this transformational new phase of their lives.
LEANNE HALL Psychologist / Personal Trainer / Self confessed health nut Leanne was at the end of her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology when she gave birth to her first child. 3 years later, she became a single working mum. Today, she is married with 2 children, consults as a Clinical Psychologist and Personal Trainer and is the Mind & Body Expert on Network 10’s the Living Room and Studio 10.
TRACEY MERRITT Vet / Animal lover / Single mum Tracey is a single mum to three children aged 6, 5 and 3. She’s also a vet and partner in her own veterinary clinic which is now almost three years old. Her feathered and furry family of two cockateils, three dogs and one cat keep her busy, but when there is ‘free time’ she spends it with friends and family or going on trips with the kids, especially to new places.
HELEN BAKER Founder of On Your Own Two Feet Helen loves to empower women to financial freedom and has a heart particularly for those who are newly single or planning to be so soon, helping them to re-establish their foundations, provide financial advice and walk along side them through their journey so they can get back on their own two feet.
KAREN NORMANTON Engineer / Keen budgeting analyst / Single mum
Karen is a part-time Mining Engineer and a full-time mum to her 3-year-old daughter. In her spare time she enjoys keeping active, analysing her bank accounts, being very social and learning how to be more mindful! She currently lives in the western suburbs of Brisbane.
REBECCA COATES Sociologist / Caffeine enthusiast / Single mum Rebecca is mum to her 4-year-old son and lives by the river in beautiful, sunny Brisbane. Rebecca works as a sociologist, and when not at her desk, she can be found doing the things she loves â€“ practicing yoga, drinking coffee, reading books and exploring the beaches and mountains of Queensland.
REBEL TUCKER Yoga Teacher / Single mum Rebel is a mum to three kids and step-mum to two more. Sheâ€™s a yoga instructor and is a keen student of all things natural and spiritual; holding qualifications in naturopathy, homeopathy, shiatsu, reflexology, remedial therapies, aromatherapy, counselling and NLP. For Rebel, yoga is not just a practice, but a way of living.
EMMA DRAPER Dating Expert @ Lovestruck.com Emma is a London-based journalist and dating expert who specialises in how to build successful relationships. For more information about Lovestruck, head to http://www.lovestruck.com
IT’S TIME, MY PETAL, TO REDISCOVER YOUR MOST WONDERFUL & VIBRANT SELF... Relationships inherently ask us to compromise, and when those relationships end, we’re often left with many habits, behaviours and even ways of thinking and being that are still ‘us’ rather than ‘me’. Separation offers a unique opportunity to reclaim your own identity and rediscover yourself - and this is where you will find renewed confidence and a strong direction for your new life. The exercises following will help you decide what it is you want and cleanse yourself of anything that no longer serves you so you can blossom into the happiest you that you can be.
By Naomi Gora
Reclaim your home This is a great exercise to get ‘pin-happy’ on Pinterest with. Yes, I’m giving you permission to waste time on Pinterest, excellent homework, right? Whether you’re staying in your family home or moving into a new one, reclaiming it and making it your own is a great way of rediscovering who you are. It’s also an important way of re-building your self-confidence. If this seems too daunting, try one room at a time. The bedroom is a great place to start, replace your bedding, pillows and artwork with fabrics and colours that you love - and if you’re low on funds, get busy on Pinterest anyway, that way when you are ready you’ll already have a bunch of delicious ideas that will light you up and make the whole process that much more exciting (and do-able!).
how many new and exciting opportunities it will create. Even if it seems like more effort than it’s worth, making time for yourself, even at the expense of routine is essential to your recovery. So, set a monthly girls night out and don’t cancel it no matter how tempted or tired you are, find a baby sitting club or commit to setting aside time each day to really look at what YOU want and need.
Exercise 3 Find a new crew
Get out of your routine
Separation can also mean a change in the dynamics of your friendship circle, so it’s a good time to make new friends. You don’t need to ditch your old ones, but it can boost your self-esteem to seek out new social interactions. It can also remind you of things you may have forgotten about yourself...Perhaps you’re a great conversationalist, or you’re funnier than you thought you were.
As single mums, we know how important routines are to keeping our lives running, but it’s ok to let go of that routine and make time for you too, in fact, you’ll be amazed at
Great places to start are your children’s school or day care centre. Be bold! If your child always talks about a certain friend, see if you can leave their parents a note to make a play date.
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Adult education courses can also provide comfortable situations for social interaction you also don’t have to commit too much time and they won’t cost you a fortune. And then there’s www.meetup.com where you can search for just about any sort of social group you can imagine. If finding new friends scares the bejiggeries out of you, that’s ok, just focus on being involved in something rather than putting pressure on yourself to make a new friendship blossom. It takes time for that familiarity to kick in.
Exercise 4 What’s stopping you? Grab a pen and piece of paper and write a list of anything your relationship stopped you from doing. From the little things, like perhaps wearing certain clothes, to the big things like career choices. Then ask yourself if you can do any of those things now. I recently heard of a lady who always wanted to be a Doctor but felt she couldn’t in her relationship. After some introspection, she realised it was really important to her, so went back to school and did it! You don’t have to take on something as hefty as a medical degree, but what have you always wanted to do? If you can’t think of anything, think back to what you loved doing as a child, that’ll give you some clues.
Exercise 5 What do you want in a new relationship? Even if you don’t want to find love again yet, writing down what you would like in a relationship will give you some great clues
about who you are and what’s important to you. And when I ask you to think about what you want in a relationship, I’m not asking you to think about what you want in a man, that’s an entirely different thing. I mean things like... Is it important for you to laugh every day or to not have arguments or to have arguments and work through conflict honestly or feel that your opinion is heard and valued? This exercise will help give you a place to start for our last one...
Set yourself some boundaries Once you start to get an idea of your new ‘you’, get out that pen and paper yet again and write down things you are not willing to give up or compromise on in your new life. It may be that you won’t tolerate being spoken to in a certain way - by a new partner or even friends or family. It may be a hobby that makes you sublimely happy or it might be a certain time or day that you spend with your children or doing something for yourself. Knowing who you’re not and what you won’t tolerate is just as important as knowing who you are. You don’t need to complete all these at once, in fact, it should take you some time to work through them all, and then, work through them again at different stages of your healing. Just start at a pace you are comfortable with, and watch yourself blossom... one petal at a time.
FREE CoParenting Makeover Session Separation and divorce can be one of the most difficult times of our adult lives. There are countless questions from parenting plans to communicating with your ex and making decisions about your children’s lives. With our free coparenting makeover you will:
Naomi Douglas Coach and Founder of CoParenting Australia
• Identify your stumbling blocks • Make an action plan to create results • Discover the most important changes you can make for your children and how to manage your coparenting relationship Call now on 0421 421 757 or go to our website to book your free session
Testimonials from some of our mums... “It’s going so well. We all celebrated our son’s birthday yesterday (the 4 of us) and I have even had 2 cups of tea with my ex-husband at his house since I returned from Melbourne. It’s made an enormous difference spending time with you.”
“Naomi, I want to thank you for all your support, this process is SO massive and I really appreciate your depth and intelligence in this work. I felt like a weight has been lifted from me.”
www.coparentingaustralia.com.au phone 0421 421 757
SINGLE MUM TRAVELS? YES, SHE DOES...
Tina is 28, Joshie is 6 and together they travel the world, they’re planning to cycle the world in 800 days, and they’re doing all this as a single parent family. Based in London where Tina works in product development, they travel for fun but also to learn about the cultures of the world; to see the similarities with others, to respect the differences and to appreciate that we are all one race in a world we call ‘home’. Here I talk to them about their life, their family and their trips through South America, Europe and beyond...
HI TINA! THANKS FOR TALKING TO US... TELL US, DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO TRAVEL? Absolutely, yes! For me, travel is like breathing, it’s what truly makes me feel alive, it helps me recollect my thoughts, heal and feel strong. It’s about learning about myself as much as it is learning about others. To me life isn’t about possessions, it’s about experiences, travel humbles me. HOW DID YOU AND JOSHIE START TRAVELLING? I started travelling during my teenage years, with road trips during college breaks. My uncle drove trucks on the European continent - once we drove from London to Milan, through five countries! My first trip with Josh was to Oman. There was a lot of negativity in the media about Islam and I felt anxious about it all, so I reached out to
Grand Masjid, Muscat
find the truth. I found a family who would host us in Muscat, Oman’s capital city and after an eight hour flight, we were warmly welcomed into their home. Even though our children didn’t speak the same language, they played like old school friends. I spent time learning what Islam was for them and met many wonderful and kind families. What I learnt from that experience was if something is strange and unknown then we should embrace it. Our next big adventure was to South America. I had a random daydream of green rolling hills, heat and sunshine during lunch at work one day, so I went back to my desk, Googled until I found what I was looking for and booked flights to Peru then and there! DO YOU TRAVEL INDEPENDENTLY OR WITH A TOUR GROUP? 100% Independently! I like the freedom and making it my own experience. I don’t see travel as a holiday, it’s an adventure and a learning www.liftmagazine.com.au | 15
experience. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to really appreciate it and experience personal growth. When I booked our flights to Peru it left me just 7 weeks to plan the itinerary which was actually a really major project. Using an agency isn’t a bad thing, but what I paid for our adventure to Peru would have been more than double through an agency.
Red Square - Moscow
HOW MANY COUNTRIES HAVE YOU BEEN TO NOW? Not half as many as I wish! Hahaha… so far it’s been; Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Greece, Peru, and Russia. I think next we want to venture out to Japan where Josh wants to ride the bullet train.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE EXPERIENCE? Visiting the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Northern Peru. We took a motorised canoe to a nature reserve and saw a wealth of animal species from macaws to three-toed sloths, squirrel monkeys with babies, weird dragon creatures up in trees, pink Amazonian dolphins (which I swam with!), rodents, bees nests,
Red Sqaure - Moscow
we heard howler monkeys, gazillions of birds including the hoatzin, poisonous snakes and many creepy crawlies. I even held a poisonous dart frog, yep and I didn’t die! WHAT ABOUT JOSHIE’S FAVOURITE? I’m so glad you asked this question! Without a doubt it was Piranha fishing in the Amazon River! He was 4-years-old and caught the very first piranha fish that day, it was also the largest. I think that was our proudest moment thus far; he still talks about it. We went back to the lodge that afternoon with about four or five red-bellied piranhas, the chef prepared them and we ate them for supper! I was surprised at how delicious they were; they tasted like salty chicken! Overall, travel for Josh has been a really positive thing; I’ve seen his confidence grow tremendously. ARE YOU EVER SCARED TRAVELLING WITH JOSHIE ON YOUR OWN? Fear! Fear can make you or break you. I was really nervous travelling to South America. You hear lots of stories about drug gangs and getting kidnapped or robbed, but you just have to have a flexible plan that’s based on research, research, research! Make contacts before you fly out, even if it’s just with hotels and talk to people who have been who can offer first hand advice. When I went to Jordan last year I travelled to the Dead Sea and to Petra to see the Treasury where Indiana Jones was filmed. Some of the online forums were talking about sleazy men who’d harassed women in the area, so I talked to the hotel staff about it. They then arranged my transport and suggested a guide who was great. I felt much more confident. Wherever you’re travelling, just trust your instincts and listen to your body, how you feel is very important. If you feel too nervous to do something or go somewhere then don’t until you’re ready. www.liftmagazine.com.au | 17
I WOULDN’T HAVE EXPERIENCED ANY OF IT IF I HAD LET MY FEARS OVERTAKE ME
“ Piranah Fishing
Amazon canoe ride
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR TRAVELLING SOLO WITH A CHILD? 1. Let them have their own camera! Invest in a semi decent one too, you will never regret it. Your child will capture things you wouldn’t have given a second glance. 2. Apps! There are heaps of Apps for the travelling child. Load up your device, get them learning, playing and exploring during those “boring” road trips. 3. MediKit. Take a compact zippered polyester pouch preferably with a waterproof lining and top it up with hand sanitizer, pain relief and Hydralyte sachets, travel sick pills, tweezers and thermometer, antiseptic wipes, Bandaids and a folding mini travel cloth. 4. A travel journal. Get one from any good book store, cover it with wrapping paper of a
world map and let them take pride in writing about their adventures. They get to practice essential handwriting skills and tell all their friends about their adventures. 5. Contact! Write your contact details inside your child’s shoes and on a piece of paper in their pocket. Use an easily identifiable backpack or brightly coloured hat in super busy places and teach them how to dial your mobile number and the local emergency code. Always let them keep some cash, you never know when they (or you!) will need it. Another thing I always do is take a few business cards whenever I get to a hotel, one for me and one for Josh, that way we have the phone numbers and address so if we take a taxi and can’t speak the local language we just show them the card. That’s saved us a lot of time and hassle trying to convey the details to the driver. www.liftmagazine.com.au | 19
IS IT DIFFICULT FUNDING TRAVEL ON YOUR OWN? HOW TO YOU SAVE FOR YOUR TRIPS?
Yes, it sure is! I became a single mum at 23 (after 6 years with Josh’s dad) during my finals at university. I still finished my studies and then took a job selling toys in Harrods for experience. When Josh and I first moved out, I slept on the floor because I couldn’t afford a bed, I remember times when I couldn’t afford to buy food for myself or even a bus ticket. I couldn’t afford a TV either so we walked everywhere and spent the days out and about exploring the local parks. Eventually, I managed to get a job working in a small design company and I now manage my own projects, I’ve worked on creating products for luxury brands and a variety of global financial companies. So now, in short I work, save a lot and travel. YOU’RE PLANNING TO CYCLE THE PLANET IN 800 DAYS. TELL US MORE! Oh yes! I really enjoy cycling and after reading biographies of people who have cycled around the world and seeing how enriching the experience was, it’s urged me to venture into the world too, so we’re planning to cycle around the world when Josh turns 12. We’ll take touring bikes and cycle through countries including South America, Asia, China, Vietnam, Australia and Africa. If the Englishman Phileas Fogg went around the world in 80 days, I’m sure we could manage it in 800 days on a couple of touring bikes, you never know we might even go tandem! YOU CAN FOLLOW MORE OF TINA AND JOSHIE’S TRAVELS AT SINGLEMUMTRAVELS.COM
Cusco, Peru Miraflores, Lima
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HOW TO GET YOUR SLICE OF THE SETTLEMENT PIE Even if your relationship didn’t end up being a happily ever after experience, it doesn’t mean the same must be said for your financial future. Avoiding these few critical financial mistakes during separation and divorce can make sure you’re well provided for now, and for all your years to come.
By Helen Baker
HOLDING ONTO THE FAMILY HOME AND LETTING YOUR EX-PARTNER KEEP ANY AND ALL OTHER INVESTMENTS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES I SEE WOMEN MAKE.
“ When a relationship ends, who do you turn to for support? Probably a best friend for moral support; maybe your parents too. And it’s likely that you’ll seek legal advice, particularly when property and kids are involved. But did you know lawyers are not authorised to give financial advice? At a time when emotions are running high and your security is paramount, independent authoritative financial advice is often neglected; and it’s an oversight that can cost you, big time.
An incorrectly calculated asset pool split can also have expensive capital gains tax consequences down the track if assets are sold, post-divorce. A really switched-on family lawyer will refer clients to a licensed financial adviser long before any settlement discussions between you and your ex-partner, knowing that: • A licensed financial adviser with divorce planning expertise has the skills and insight to scope your goals and values (what’s important now as well as in the future);
It can cost in terms of the volley of solicitors’ letters developing an antagonistic Mexican standoff over who gets what.
• A licensed financial adviser can provide detailed realistic options and easy-tounderstand calculations of what an asset split could look like, and mean, for you; and
It can cost in terms of determining what you really need, financially, to stand on your own two feet.
• Independent financial advice takes any recourse off the lawyer over money matters and assets.
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THE BIGGEST DIVORCE SETTLEMENT MISTAKE YOU COULD MAKE It may be difficult to hear, but holding onto the family home and letting your ex-partner keep any and all other investments is one of the biggest mistakes I see women make. I understand the thinking: we women have more emotional attachments to our ‘nest’, particularly when children are involved, and of course you want to minimise the impact on the kids. Keeping them in familiar surrounds with friends seems logical. But is it really? A large home requires upkeep and that costs money. And what about mortgage repayments? You cannot rely on the kids’ father and his child support: what if he loses his job? With all the money going into the home, there’s even less chance for small sanity-saving, morale-boosting treats or family holidays (and these are absolutely essential to the recovery and wellbeing of you and your family). As we know, children do grow up and leave home too, and without other investments, you may have to sell the family home to fund your future. Will downsizing, and potentially moving away from established social and support networks, be an option for you then?
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE If you’ve already gone your separate ways, you may feel it’s too late to improve your financial position. It’s true you generally can’t go back and say ‘I made a mistake: I want X’ unless the decisions were made under duress or fraud, but you can reframe your thinking... Having the right financial foundations in place and applying smart long-term strategies wherever you are in life can rebuild your sense of financial security. Maybe you will need to rethink what you have and what you want. Maybe you will need to seek Centrelink supports such as parenting payments or rental assistance for a short time. Maybe you can supplement your income through work that fits with your parenting demands – online enterprises and virtual office jobs make that more achievable these days, and so do jointcustody arrangements. Understanding your financial position and options (ideally from the start of a break-up) is both practical and psychologically empowering. It helps you regain a sense of security and control around your decisions, reminding you that the end of the world hasn’t happened.
Helen Baker MICM, B Com, Adv Dip FS (FP) is the author of On your own two feet: steady steps to women’s financial independence available via Amazons or online at www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au. Founder of Australia-wide women’s financial advisory service, On Your Own Two Feet, Helen Baker is a financial adviser, authorised representative no.336378 licenced under Godfrey Pembroke.
A FEW MORE BREAK-UP BOO BOOS Wanting your day in court. Some people want to go to court so they can hear the judge beat down on the other side and say how bad their ex was. Surprisingly, the judge might not see it that way! Besides, court proceedings drag out. Emotionally, it can be like picking at a scab, not letting a wound heal – and then there’s the cost…
Spending what you walk away with. Cash buys choice…and burns a hole in your handbag, forcing you to buy that lovely Mimco number, oh and the Miu Miu ankle boots; and after the hell of the past few months, a holiday is necessary – five-star all the way. I understand the need to breathe and regroup but that money needs to work for you. When it’s gone, it’s gone!
Believing you are not ‘entitled’. Do not be bullied. Do not fall for the “I’ve worked while you’ve had the kids”, or “I earned this, you didn’t”. Property, investments, shares, cash, superannuation – anything that has value or potential value – needs to be included in the asset division and you are ‘entitled’. You’re looking after your kids too.
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MAKING A DIFFERENCE DESANKA OGRIZOVIC
JUST DANCE! TRISH EVERETT
ROLLER DERBY ‘FRESH MEAT’ ‘NIKKI STYX’
THE POWER OF FINDING A FOCUS
Finding a focus can be one of the most powerful ways to help you recover after separation and divorce. It can improve your mental state, release all the energy and emotions you have rolling around inside you, boost your family dynamic, help you regain your confidence, and in some sort of magical way, uncover the part of you that needs healing the most. Three solo mums share with us how finding a focus changed their lives after separation... 26 | For any mum flying solo
MAKING A DIFFERENCE - DESANKA OGRIZOVIC I’m a trained counsellor, and after my separation, I suddenly found that on top of everything else I was dealing with, I couldn’t find a job. One day while chatting with a friend about my situation, she mentioned an organisation called PANDA (Post and antenatal depression association). Post Natal Depression (PND) was something I was very familiar with as I developed it not long after my daughter was born. There seemed to be so much pressure as a new mum, I felt judged a lot and I even convinced myself that the midwives were going to take my baby away because my house wasn’t clean. So when I discovered I could volunteer as a counsellor with PANDA, I thought ‘I just have to do this!’. In those early days after separation, volunteering got me out of the house. As a single mum it can be so easy to stay at home and tell yourself you have to cook or clean, but getting out, connecting with people and having a different
focus is essential. As time went on, I found it was actually giving me back my confidence. It was something I knew I could do, and whenever I was having a bad day, I would talk to people calling in and feel like I made a difference to them and the world. It also made me realise that my situation really wasn’t so bad. Now, I’m in such a good place and for the first time in my life, I feel free. I’ve learned to love myself. I’ve learned not to criticise myself. I’ve learned who I am, that I don’t need a man to feel loved and that I’m absolutely 100% accountable for myself. I’ve also come to learn that money’s not everything. If you’re mentally ok and helping yourself, that’s the most important thing. I’m blessed I’m not in a bad relationship anymore and finally can see that sometimes divorce can be a good thing. If you’d like to volunteer with PANDA, you don’t have to be a qualified counsellor, you just have to have had some experience with it - either yourself or with a loved one. You can find out more at www.panda.org.au
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JUST DANCE! - TRISH EVERETT
‘FRESH MEAT’ ROLLER DERBY - NICOLE COLLIE AKA ‘NIKKI STYX’
I’ve been a single parent for 18 months now and dancing was one of the most important things I did to get through my separation. I’d always been fond of dancing, but one day, not long after I separated, I was on the phone to a friend and found myself bursting into tears. His reply was ‘Just go and dance through it‘, so I did and suddenly all those heavy emotions lifted. From that day I danced every day for almost a year. I started with any sort of music really, but then found a form of dance called the 5 Rhythms that really resonated with me. It’s aim is to put the body in motion to still the mind.
I first went to a derby game a few years ago. I wanted to get into it instantly, but I’d just started my PhD so it really wasn’t the best timing! Then, last year I ended up in a difficult legal battle with the father of my children. A friend took me along to a derby bout again and I thought ‘Stuff it! It’s time to do something for myself. I’ve just got to do this’ and so I signed up for their ‘fresh meat’ beginners sessions then and there.
When I was living in Melbourne, I attended a few 5 Rhythms classes. I not only made new friends, but dancing with other people made me realise how easily swayed I was as a person. When I would dance by myself, I would be in my own dance, but when I joined others, I’d get lost in their movement and lose my ability to be my authentic self. By working through that, I now know how to hold my own power and be myself in any situation, no matter what’s going on around me. I’ve also learned how to truly feel emotions, to express them and then let them go rather than indulging in them. Dancing also helped with my family dynamics. Sometimes if we were a bit grungy with each other or having a rough day, I’d put on some music and the kids and I would dance together. It was a instant mood lifter for all of us. Today, I have a strong theme of empowerment running though my life. I decided to combine my experience of separation with my Masters degree in Wellness and created a framework I now use to help single parents move through their separation and feel empowered again. I’ve also just started a dancing group in my home town of Bega. So much has changed, and to think, it all started with one little dance. 28 | For any mum flying solo
Training sessions ended up being on the night I get my kids back from their father though. I thought it’d be such a push to organise, that I nearly put it in the too hard basket, but I was determined to do it, so I did! On my first night, we were all in the car when my younger kids started complaining about having to go. My eldest piped up and said ‘You know what? You need to be quiet. We do sport. Mummy deserves to do a sport too’. It showed me just how empathetic kids can be. During my legal battle, derby helped me get out of my own head. It’s such an adrenalin rush and I’ve learned so much - it pushes me out of my comfort zone every week. It also really shifted the dynamics of our family. It’s stopped me from getting so hung up on routines and has forced me to be more relaxed, and if I’m relaxed, the kids are relaxed. Training night has become a real event for us now. We have an easy dinner of something like toasted sandwiches, the kids get to watch me have fun (they’ve even made up a banner saying ‘GO NIKKI STYX!’) and when we get home they have a hot milo and snuggle up in bed. The derby community is so inclusive and there’s loads of single mums who do it - you just do what you can and it’s so good to have a commitment one night a week so you actually get up and do it. It may be a little hard to get started initially, but it’s so worth it.
CONTRIBUTE TO LIFT
We need you! Lift is the online magazine for single mums made by single mums. It doesn’t exist without you. If you’re a single mum with a story to tell, whether you’ve overcome obstacles, thrived after heart break, learnt some life changing lessons, developed time-saving recipes or new life management strategies, if you’ve travelled solo, discovered new hobbies or made a career change after separation and divorce, contact us by emailing email@example.com
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OPEN YOUR HOME AND YOUR HEART TO YOGA There’s no need to stress about finding someone to mind the kids so you can make your way to your local yoga studio... There’s a whole world of yoga just waiting for you in your very own home.
By Rebel Tucker
ALL YOU NEED IS TEN MINUTES AND AN INTERNET CONNECTION
Why not open your computer and discover the world of online yoga that is waiting for you to show up? WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR? If you haven’t done yoga before, don’t start with the classes that target specific areas, such as arms or legs, as guaranteed they’ll be difficult and you’ll wonder how you could ever try it again. Instead, start with classes that actually say ‘beginner’. Not only will these classes ease you into a regular practice, they’ll have more detailed instruction and leave you feeling more relaxed. Look for classes where you can pick the length - 10, 30 or 60 minutes. Titles that have the
word ‘relaxation’ are also great to begin with. These classes are typically slower and gentler. There is nothing worse than being over-zealous and choosing a v or Power class that kicks your butt into never wanting to try again! In other words, if it’s too hard, don’t beat yourself up…just take a break or pick another class that suits you. One thing to remember is, of course, that in the world of online yoga, the teachers can’t see you, duh! So, you are not going to get that personalised attention you may get from a live teacher. Don’t let that stop you though! If you end up a little frustrated or confused…just modify it, or lie in child’s pose till you recover, then start again.
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WHAT DO YOU NEED? Comfy clothes, a computer with internet, a yoga mat or towel to practice on…and at least ten minutes. WHAT IF YOU GET INTERRUPTED? If you get interrupted, just go back to it later. Sometimes kids can’t wait…but yoga can and it will always be something you can look forward to when the kids are asleep. FINDING DAILY PRACTICE Once you learn a few poses you can do them whenever you feel like it. Why not stand on one leg in tree pose (balance on one leg) while you wash the dishes? How about standing and breaking out a few chair poses (similar to a squat) while you are on the phone? Or stand in warrior (wide stance) whilst rocking your baby to sleep. There are many ways you can incorporate yoga into daily life – get creative and experiment! No matter what you are doing if you draw your attention to your breath and move consciously, then you are inviting yoga into your every day routine. Being aware of your breath is the foundation of yoga. Inhale and exhale and notice how you feel. Notice where your breath moves to in your body. Practicing this enables us to let go of that monkey chatter that goes on…and on and on…in our mind. When we let all the distractions fade away and instead focus on our breath, we find that the noise in our head becomes quieter, and even if it’s just for a minute, the benefits of this are so worth it. Spending this quiet time has been shown to induce a sense of calm and reduce the effects of stress.
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Yoga has a lot more to offer than just the poses. Once you look into it you will discover breathing techniques, meditation, cleansing practices, mindfulness and more - and yes, you can find it all online. Yoga is an opportunity to journey into the self and to find ways to live a life that is more peace-filled and conscious. It gives us access to living well and loving life by being the best version of ourselves possible. AND SIMPLY...RELAX! If you don’t want to get into the poses just yet and what you are up for is the relaxation side of yoga, you can try Yoga Nidra. This is a beautiful guided meditation that facilitates a deep, mindful rest that refreshes and revitalises you. A quick Google search will deliver you lots of different versions. I like this one from Blooming Lotus Yoga. (www.youtube.com/ watch?v=vvldC6mzLvA) You can even get a Yoga Nidra app on your phone. So next time the kids are quiet, before you sit on the couch with a cuppa and chocolate biscuit, try out some yoga poses or Yoga Nidra - in the comfort of your own home, in your trackie pants or pyjamas. Who cares what you look like? No-one can see, and if you end up only doing a few poses, or only getting through a few minutes of the meditation before falling asleep on the floor, then smile to yourself and know you got exactly what you needed.
YOGA AT HOME If you donâ€™t have the time or the budget to head to yoga classes regularly, here are my favourite online options. Some require a monthly access fee but you can still get a free trial to see if you like before joining. Others are completely free, yay!
myyogaworks.com doyogawithme.com yogavibes.com yogaglo.com ekhartyoga.com/videos lululemon.com/giftofyoga essenceofliving.tv/ yogadownload.com
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CREATE A NEW FAMILY BOND WITH A FLUFFY, FEATHERY OR FOUR-LEGGED FRIEND Pets can give a family so much at any stage of life, but after separation and divorce (as long as youâ€™re in the position to take on the commitment), they can be stalwart companions that will reduce stress, provide unconditional love, extra security and a good dose of stability, not to mention a truck load of laughter and hugs that will help solidify your new family unit.
By Tracey Merritt
I MAY NOT HAVE CHOSEN THE MENAGERIE I HAVE IF I KNEW I WAS GOING TO BE A SINGLE PARENT TO THREE SMALL CHILDREN, BUT BEING A SINGLE PARENT SHOULDN’T DETER YOU FROM PET OWNERSHIP. AS A VET, THE THING I STRESS MOST IS TO MAKE SURE IT SUITS YOUR TIME CONSTRAINTS AND BUDGET... AND REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOUR CHILDREN DO SPEND TIME WITH THEIR CO-PARENT, YOU’LL BE THE ONE PICKING UP THE SLACK. HERE ARE A FEW PET SELECTION BASICS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED...
What you need to know: Birds can become quite tame if they’re handled from a young age, which is great for kids, but bird vets are often specialists, and there aren’t usually that many around. Your regular vet might know the basics and should be able to teach you to trim their wings but if your bird gets sick, you may need specialist care which can become expensive. Lucky, this shouldn’t happen too often.
What you need to know: Most cats are pretty happy doing their own thing, and are content spending long amounts of time on their own. They’ll also generally let you know when they want a pat and food, so in short, they’re pretty self sufficient.
Set-up costs: The purchase cost of a bird can vary, from $15 for a budgie, to $75-$100 for a cockatiel or peachface or more for some of the fancier breeds. A decent size cage for these smaller birds might cost from $150-$200, but then you are pretty much set. Food costs: Ongoing costs include feeding which might cost as little as $10 per month for a box of seed. Vet costs: Worming should be done around every three months with an additive you can mix into their water which is usually very affordable.
Longer hair breeds will need more maintenance, or end up being an extra cost if they need professional grooming and clipping. In terms of their health, a few things to be aware of when choosing a breed are that pushed in faces often need more dental care and white noses, ears and eyes are more susceptible to sun cancers. Set-up costs: You can set yourself up with a bed, bowls and a litter tray for as little as $20. Other things you might consider are toys, a scratching post and collar. You can even buy a harness and lead and teach your cat to walk on a lead if you so desire. Depending on where you live, your local council rules and risk of cat fight or road injuries may mean you need to consider an outdoor enclosure to prevent wandering which can add to the set up costs significantly.
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Food costs: Spending a little extra now on good quality premium food will make sure your kitty has a long healthy life and you’ll ultimately spend a lot less on medical care down the track. You can get quality cat food for around 50cents/day using dry food or $2.50/day for wet food. Dry food does give them all they need for a complete balanced diet, but wet will add a little variety and some extra water intake. Vet bills: While there may be great variations in veterinary fees, as a rough idea an annual check up and vaccination might cost approximately $100, annual expenses for flea treatments and worming around $250, or more if living in a tick area as tick prevention can be quite costly. DOGS What you need to know: Dogs tend to be needy and although some can cope fine with very little attention, they generally like to be included as part of the family. They also need regular physical activity, which is a great excuse to get the family out of the house and bond over a brisk walk to the park. Best breeds: There are literally so many beautiful breeds out there it is difficult to recommend just one. However keeping low cost and children in mind I’d have to suggest a small mixed breed terrier or Jack Russell. They are generally pretty hardy, have little medical and maintenance issues, are smaller so medications and food cost less and they are usually great with kids. Remember though that this doesn’t apply to all small breeds as some can be snappy, however with a small dog the risk of potential damage is far less than for a large ‘snappy’ dog. I would also keep in mind the same things as for cats – pushed in faces often need more dental care and white noses, ears and eyes are more susceptible to sun cancers. White 36 | For any mum flying solo
tummies are also more susceptible to skin cancer in dogs too, this generally applies to larger breeds that like to sun bake. Set-up costs: Again this can cost as little as $20 for some bowls and an old blanket. Other things you may want to purchase are a collar and lead, a kennel, bed, toys, dog coat, car harness, etc. Also you will need to ensure your yard is dog proofed, as wandering can lead to more expenses with road accidents or impoundment. Food costs: To feed a good quality pet food for a dog weighing from 5-7kg would cost around 65c/day for dry food, or $1.50/day for wet, averaging around $1or so to feed a combination. Obviously the larger the dog, the higher the food bill, with 15kg dogs costing around $2/day, 25kg dogs around $3.25/day and so on. So basically if you love that 70kg big bear, be prepared to double your grocery bill! Vet bills: While prices do vary, an annual vaccination might be around $100 for a routine health check and vaccination. Heartworm prevention varies from as little as $60-$80 per year for smaller dogs to hundreds for larger dogs. Annual expenses for worming and flea treatments can range from $200 for smaller dogs up to $400, or more if living in a tick area. Other expenses: Other things to consider may be grooming, council registration, training or obedience and kennel accommodation or care while you are away. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS DIET While many pets can live a long happy life on the cheapest food, I cannot emphasise enough how much healthier animals are when they’re fed premium food. While it is more expensive to buy per bag, the benefits are numerous:
• Your pet eats less of it as they get so much more nutrition out of it. • Less of it goes straight through them resulting in half the clean up in your yard or litter tray. • It reduces the amount of skin and ear problems, tummy upsets, dental disease and urinary complaints, resulting in fewer trips to the vet and subsequently saving money in the long run. • Avoids sickness from food scraps (if unsure, checking with your vet might save you unnecessary expenses if they become sick from something they shouldn’t be eating). • Less chance of them becoming overweight which reduces the risk of heart disease, respiratory issues, diabetes, arthritis and joint disease. INSURANCE There are many to choose from and some can simply be added onto your current home or contents insurance. Just be sure to look into what is covered as they can differ. Some cover preventative health such as vaccinations, worming and flea control, others cover accident and illness only.
DESEXING I strongly urge that any dog or cat that is not intended to be bred should be desexed. This not only reduces the number of unwanted pets from accidental pregnancies, it greatly reduces a lot of health expenses for your pet from conditions they are susceptible to otherwise. This applies for both male and female pets. A WORD ON ‘FREE’ GIVEAWAYS’ This is a good time to mention rescue organisations such as the RSPCA and the fact that a ‘free give away’ dog or cat may actually cost between $200 and $500... Remember though that this is extremely reasonable considering it usually comes with a bag of food, health check, desexing, microchipping, vaccination and flea and worm treatments. If you’re still unsure, The RSPCA is a good place to discuss what sort of pet may suit your lifestyle. Other pets to consider are fish, hermit crabs, mice, guinea pigs, rats, rabbits (but check council laws), penny turtles, blue tongue lizards and if you’d believe it, even miniature pigs. With a little research, you’ll find just the right option to welcome a new family member into your hearts and your home.
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T0 DO WITHOUT KIDDIES
HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE OF YOUR YOUR COUPLED FRIENDS SAY ‘GEE, YOU’RE SO LUCKY TO GET TIME TO YOURSELF!’ WHEN YOUR CHILD STAYS WITH THEIR CO-PARENT? AND EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW THEY DON’T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT, IT BRINGS TEARS TO YOUR EYES BECAUSE, DAMN IT, IT AIN’T ALWAYS THAT SIMPLE...
Sure, it is great to have time to yourself, but being separated with children can also come with hurdles that makes planning that time a hurdle in itself, and before we know it, handover time has come and gone and we find ourselves sitting on the couch thinking ‘Ok, so now what do I do? Where is MY life?’
1. Have a bed-in. There is nothing wrong with catching up on those ZZZZs when you’re child-free. And if you’re going to sleep, you may as well do it in style. Grab your phone and enough chocolate, movies, books and take away menus to stay in bed for an entire weekend. Indulgent? I say, deserved.
Planning things for ourselves used to be so easy, but when you’re parenting solo, it can feel like there’s not enough time to think about scratching your nose, let alone to figure out what you’re going to do in your spare time. Then there’s the emotional strain of negotiations with your ex-partner which, fingers crossed, does get easier with time but if it hasn’t yet, the sheer exhaustion of that can render your brain useless to do anything after the kid’s bed-time, and then there’s that horrid feeling in the pit of your stomach whenever you think about your children being away from you, which of course, we all have to get used to, but damn it, that ain’t always that simple either. So amidst all this, thinking of, and actually organising fun, frivolous and self-nurturing things to do when you’re child-free can end up being yet another thing on your to-do list that falls to the bottom of the priority pile.
2. Go to a restaurant by yourself. When was the last time you did that? Chose exactly what you feel like eating, book that restaurant and order whatever you want from the menu... and get excited about saying ‘Yes, that’s a table for ONE, thank you!’.
So I asked our mums in The 365 Day Sanctuary (Lift’s private online support group) what they do in their kiddie-free time, and we’ve come up with a list of 38 cool things to do. Just pick one and do it. If you can’t do it every time you’re child-free, start out trying to do something cool at least once a month and see where it leads...
5. Go kayaking.
3. Go to a museum and loiter...or should I say, wander, slowly, and look at things, slowly, and then have a coffee, slowly. 4. Sign up to community event websites in your local area. That way you’ll have new and exciting ideas delivered to you inbox without even having to look. 5. Have a soppy romcom evening complete with popcorn, chocolate self-saucing pudding, a facial and a big old box of tissues. Invite some girlfriends and their kids, drag out some mattresses and have a sleep over.
6. Book a hair appointment. 7. Get an eyebrow wax or a leg wax or a lip wax or a bikini wax, hell, why not book in for a full body wax? 8. Get one of those crazy ‘body wrap’ things
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you always see on the day spa menus and have secretly always wondered what the hell they actually are and if you’d look like a kebab if you were in one. 9. Go for a run or a walk, to nowhere, and see where you end up.
24. Sign up for a webinar or find a You Tube video to start learning something you’ve always wanted to know more about. 25. Put on Magic Mike and pleasuere yourself!
10. Go to the movies - solo or with friends.
26. Walk around your house naked all day, except for when you’re cooking, that’s just asking for trouble.
11. Go shopping in shops that do not also include baby or children’s clothes. Perhaps even go and try on clothes in a shop you think you could never afford to buy something from.
27. Think about what foreign language you’d like to learn and find some podcasts, online tutorials, apps or books to set yourself up a few lessons.
12. Read a book... uniterrupted... for more than ten minutes.
28. Have a huge clean-out and organise a garage sale... then spend any cash you make on something special for yourself.
13. Have a bath, with a bath bomb or aromatheraphy oils and candles.
29. Do a crossword puzzle.
14. Mop your floors. It’s so much easier without the kids and then you get to enjoy their super clean state for more than five minutes.
30. Start daydreaming about your next holiday, even if it may only be short or if it might be next year. Create a Pinterest board for it.
15. Window shop for EVERYTHING you’ve always dreamed of buying; clothes, home wares, travel... and then have a big long lunch.
31. Go Geocaching. Haven’t heard of it? Google it.
16. Buy a new cook book and try out a more complicated recipes. 17. Go to the beach, sun bake and hang out in the waves at your leisure. 18. Hit your local markets and enjoy the wares and the people watching. 19. Paint! 20. Create a vision board. 21. Play computer games.
32. Write a hand-written letter to a special friend telling them what you appreciate about them. 33. Find a book club to join or check out Meetup.com and make some new friends. 34. See a play or go to the ballet. 35. Go horseriding. 36. Clean out your old music and discover some new stuff. If you can’t think of new artists, try something like last.fm that will recommend new songs based on music you already like.
22. Go to an experience website like Red Balloon and book in to do something you’ve never done before.
37. Grab a girlfriend and tour some vineyards (this is even more awesome if you’ve got a preganant friend who’ll agree to be your designated driver).
23. Get in your car and just drive, to anywhere, and have an adventure there... go to a new place for lunch, or visit a new shop.
38. Write a list of ten things you’ve always wanted to do but have never got around to. Stick it to your fridge.
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FINDING YOUR TRUE PATH - A SINGLE MUMâ€™S REFLECTION ON MAKING DECISIONS & OVERCOMING OBSTACLES All the decisions we make in life matter, though sometimes there are moments of serendipity where we look back at life and pinpoint a single moment where a particularly important decision changed our life path, forever... By Rebecca Coates
For me, the single moment was when I was working in an inner-city café as a 20 year-old undergraduate student. I’d had a rough day at work, I’d had enough of my life, so I made the decision to change. I changed my job. Made new friends. And in the process met the man that became my husband. At the time I thought I was making a good decision. However, as time went by, I somehow got off my own true path and onto another, which led me to an unhappy and unhealthy relationship and severe depression. My (then) husband and I bought a townhouse and had a baby. I was writing my doctoral thesis at the time, and hadn’t really planned to have a child before I graduated. I tried to go with the flow, but the pressures of a new baby, my unfinished PhD and a mortgage were immense and our relationship didn’t cope. I felt like I had lost myself and become someone I didn’t like. I was exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster of my relationship, not only with my husband, but from my own internal voices
of self-doubt and perfectionism. I didn’t feel respected or loved by my husband. Despite this, I kept on trying to make my relationship and my life decisions work, and to make everything right and perfect. I thought I had made my decision to be with this man, I had his child, and now I had to stay. Things got worse though, to the point where, when I was 27 and my son just 18 months old, I felt like a terrible parent and had no hope for the future. I felt stuck, trapped, and that there was no way out of the misery and pain I was experiencing. I only started to see that there was an alternative when one day, a friend asked me very seriously, ‘What can I do?’ and then, ‘What are you going to do?’ She saw what my situation was doing to me and that I needed change, not just so I could be healthy and happy, but so I could also be a good mother by setting an example of how to be happy and healthy. So, I decided to separate from my husband, not really knowing what my plan was, just that I needed change. At this point I couldn’t see what the obstacles were in my life
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to finding my true path and happiness, I only knew I needed to get out of the relationship with my son’s father to feel able to breathe, think and to learn how to live again. My son and I moved into a small flat close to the university, my son’s childcare centre and his father. But, I kept on trying to do everything, to be perfect, to juggle single-parenting, part-time work, and finishing my PhD. Often, I would be up at 2am either writing, doing housework or making healthy lunch snacks for my son, without thinking about how unhealthy my decisions about managing my life were making me. Having the emotional distance from my son’s father helped, but the relationship was left unresolved and this burdened me. Life got even harder when less than six months after I left my husband, he lost his job. This left me with virtually no financial or childcare support from him, and I really struggled. Eventually, I decided to move about 40-minutes away from the university, to be closer to my mother, and to live in a more affordable unit. This worked for a while, but I still hadn’t let go of the idea of being the perfect mother and scholar. My own personal pressure and that of my circumstances was unbearable. I kept on feeling like my happiness was always just out of reach, and that something was in the way. I thought it was my unfinished PhD, and that I hadn’t finalised my divorce application. I was looking for a solution to perfection, without stopping to find out what was stopping me from achieving this. Everything became amplified around this time, and I couldn’t keep going the way I was, without looking after myself, and with trying to make everything good and right, and most of all, trying to avoid failure at all costs. I had a mental breakdown and was advised by my doctor to take time off work and study and
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have my mum look after my son for a while. After some time of not working, it seemed more viable to move in with my mum. So, when I was 29 and my son was 3-years-old, we moved in with my mum and her husband. When I look back now, all I ended up doing in this process of change, starting from that moment in the café as a 20-year old student, was running and hiding from my challenges. I hid in my studies and work; for a while I hid in my relationship, and I hid from my friends and family. I put up such a façade that when I was a new, exhausted mother, without my defences and energy to keep up the show, it all came crashing down. After I had the mental breakdown I took notice and stopped when I got to the crossroads, and I decided to look squarely at the obstacles in my path and take on these challenges. I got on my healthy, true path. I began to practice yoga and really took some time to get well and think. I realised that my biggest obstacle to finding my true path and happiness wasn’t all the people and things in my life, though they certainly played a substantial role, it was me. Once I realised this, and began to work on self-love and respect, and on building my inner strength I started to get better. During the time when we were living with my mum, I was also able to finish my studies. After about six months, my son and I moved back to the city, I started a new job and also filed for a divorce. My son’s father also started working, and was able to contribute both financially and in parenting time. We started a 50-50 parenting plan, and while I missed my son terribly when he was away from me, having the time to focus on myself, and my research, really helped. After these changes, and taking the time to re-evaluate my life, I felt renewed and
refreshed, and much more balanced. Releasing the pressure off myself to perfect everything, and to avoid failure was an immense relief. By taking the time to acknowledge my own inner barriers blocking my path, I was able to move forward. The changes I made weren’t at all easy to do though; in fact they were very difficult. But, I had realised that I had been falling in the same hole time and time again, throughout all of my adult life. The universe was trying to teach me a lesson. So, finally...I listened.
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD OR BAD DECISION, THE DIFFERENCE LIES IN HOW WE DEAL WITH THE OUTCOMES OF THOSE DECISIONS
It can be tempting to contemplate what may have been if I hadn’t made the decision to stop and face the obstacles in my path. I know for certain that if I didn’t decide to change my life when I was an undergraduate student, I wouldn’t have met my son’s father and therefore wouldn’t have the amazing child I do now. I also know that if I didn’t leave and divorce my son’s father, and gone through the struggles I experienced, I wouldn’t be the mother and woman I am today. What I learnt along the way about making decisions is that there’s no such thing as a good or bad decision, the difference lies in
how we choose to deal with the things that happen to us, and how we deal with the outcomes of our decisions. If we are faced with a challenge and we falter or fail, this does not mean we have made a bad decision, it means we are trying. If we get back up and try again after failing, it means we are succeeding. Whatever decisions we make, there will always be good times and bad times. Life gives us times of happiness and times of sadness. We feel pain so we can see the beauty of life. We can’t draw correlations between the decisions we make and how much happiness and sadness, or pain and beauty we experience, because these ebbs and flows of life will continue, regardless of the decisions we make. We can’t live trying to avoid the difficult and challenging times. Our only choice, and only way to survive, is to learn how to grow from the difficult times; how to get up each time we fall down, and how to see our failures and shortcomings as signs that we are willing, and trying, to grow and succeed. We, not just as mothers, but also as humans, are all walking along the same path, the path of shared human experience. All the challenges, the high and lows, the joys and victories, the pain and defeats, are part of the journey of life. Figuring out whether we’ve made a good decision in retrospect may not always be useful. Finding our true path, in the end, may not be based on the types of decisions we think it should be. Rather, finding our true path may, in fact, be as simple as actually facing our challenges and obstacles, and being brave enough to make the changes needed to move forward. Go forward bravely. Embrace your future. Seek your true life path.
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EIGHT WAYS TO BRING DATING BACK TO LIFE When you’ve been single for a while, especially with children, the whole dating scene can start to seem like too much hassle and take too much time. Not only does it involve putting yourself out there, but there’s also the issue of finding time between your home and work commitments to date. But don’t give up hope, if you really want to find your ‘happily ever after’ here’s a few ways to give your dating life a bit of a spring clean, and I’ve seen it work with my very own two eyes. By Emma Draper
1. EXPAND YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLE Do you see and speak to the same group of people every week and a few others outside of that? The only way to meet someone special and possibly get swept off your feet is to get to know other single people. Dating online is brilliant for this because you can browse through sites looking for other like-minded single guys in the evening or when you are on the move. And although it sounds like a cliché, taking up a new hobby really will help you get to know more people. Always fancied ballroom dancing? Learning a language? Joining a book club? Whatever it is, make 2015 the year you make it happen. Go on, Google that thing, whatever it is, right now, I dare you. 2. JUST SAY ‘YES’ Whether an invite comes from someone you don’t know, a fellow parent at school or a blind date set up by friends, just take the plunge and say yes, even if you feel like running in the opposite direction and hitting your couch with a ready-made meal for one. You never know
where it might lead, and I can tell you one thing, it will definitely lead to more places than your remote control can take you. 3. ASK FOR INTRODUCTIONS Don’t be shy about letting your friends, workmates and acquaintances know that you are looking to start dating seriously again. Unless they know this, then they can’t help. When you’re talking about it, be clear about the sort of person you want in your life. Think carefully about what this is: attributes like kindness, respect and sense of humour should feature near the top. 4. GIVE YOURSELF A BOOST Confidence equals sexiness, and it can go a long way to attracting the partner that’s just right for you (and making sure those ‘crazy’ ones don’t come anywhere near you). If your self-esteem could do with a boost, think about all the reasons you’re totally awesome. Rope a friend in to help, grab a piece of paper and a glass of wine and get all those attributes down in hard copy. Then treat yourself to a few new items for your wardrobe or a haircut. Small things like this can really give the momentum and lift you need to get out there and start meeting people.
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5. MAKE TIME FOR DATING Schedule it! When you’re not with your children, allocate time for dating, be it browsing dating sites, chatting to new people online or on the phone or going out on dates. Make this time just for dating-related activities and block it out of your diary as you would any other commitment. As for the washing and housework – that can wait! 6. MAKE IT JUST FOR YOU Your children are probably involved in every area of your life but don’t involve them in your dating life by talking about it in minute detail. By all means give a general overview if age appropriate, but keep it upbeat and simple. Always let the people you are dating know you are a single mum but remember that a date is about getting to know that person, so focus on them, rather than your children.
into the details of your relationship. Also, try to steer clear of talking about how hard it is being a single mum. If he’s a single dad, he’ll get it, and if not but he’s worth keeping, then he’ll see your daily challenges as he gets to know you. 8. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS However long you have been out of the dating game, the same fundamental rule of trusting your instinct still applies. If you go on a date and it doesn’t feel quite right, cut it short, move on quickly and never settle for less than you deserve. Above all, remember that you and your children deserve the best. Keeping that one thought in mind will go a long way to making sure you waste less time floundering in the dating pool and more time making genuine connections with people who are worth your time.
7. KEEP IT CLEAN Everyone has a past but whatever you do, don’t start complaining about your ex or go
JUST SAY YES, IT WILL DEFINITELY LEAD MORE PLACES THAN YOUR REMOTE CONTROL CAN TAKE YOU.
48 | For any mum flying solo
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YOURHEALTH YOURLIFE Your questions answered with Leanne Hall, psychologist, personal trainer & health and nutrition coach.
Hi Leanne, I am 23 months down the track of my separation and feel I’ve hit a plateau. I thought by this point I’d be feeling free and really getting on with my life yet in actual fact, I don’t know what I want, where I need to be, and I am overwhelmed to the point that I can’t seem to function effectively. I’m not sleeping and in the morning I wake feeling heavy and unmotivated as it’s all too much to cope with. I feel that the world is waiting for me to make a decision, to do something, to be something. But I don’t know what and I don’t know how. Do you have suggestions for how I can get through all this? How can I make it easier to progress into my single life and feel somehow comfortable? The fundamental problem you’re facing is one of expectations not meeting reality. When people separate they create an idea of what life will be life when they’re single. They look to the media, friends, family, and a whole range of sources to create this idea, but these ideas may not match reality, especially when children are involved.
a normal part of adjusting, so here are some strategies that can help you with that adjustment: 1. MAKE SURE YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE REALISTIC AND SUIT YOU It’s positive to have a goal to help you through a negative experience, but remember you need to readjust it regularly.
When you’re partnered with children you can also over-invest in the role of being a wife and a mother at the expense of your core identity, so when the relationship ends, you’re left questioning who you are – that is overwhelming on its own without also trying to balance what’s best for your child.
Challenge your expectations and make sure they’re right for you. Reflect why you think you should be free by now. Why do you feel like the world is waiting for you to make a decision? Is it realistic? Where did that idea come from? Why does it have to be correct? Can you re-frame it?
Basically, you’re in the middle of one giant hurricane, and my answer is this: You should be overwhelmed! You’re not even two years down the track yet and everything you’re feeling is
Everyone is different and everyone’s experience is different. Don’t think you ‘should’ be over it if you’re not over it. Sit with it, then let it go and move forward.
2. GET THROUGH SEPARATING FIRST Real emotional separation and feeling like you can move on with your new single life doesn’t really happen until all the financials, child arrangements and property settlements have been finalised, so move forward through these processes as quickly as you can. Don’t get tied up in hate and blame – let go, forgive and accept. 3. LOOK AT YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK Who are you hanging around? Who are you listening to? Do they serve your best interests? If you are spending time with people who are at a different life stage, they may not know what’s best for you right now. That doesn’t mean you have to end friendships, but just be mindful of advice from others whose lives and experiences are considerably different to your own. It’s also a great idea to seek out new friends who are in your situation and can relate more to where you are now. 4. GET TO KNOW YOURSELF The most important relationship in your life right now is the one you have with yourself. You need to invest in that. Quarantine time for yourself every single day, at least ten minutes, and do something that makes you feel REALLY good. This slowly rebuilds your self esteem and brings you in line with your values. Once
you do this, you’ll be more able to take the big steps you need to take to create your new life. 5. HAVE AN OUTLET You need an outlet where you can be honest about how you feel, where you can fall to pieces and it’s contained away from your child. Have a place, a person, a time away from your child where you can just say ‘This is all crap’ or ‘I don’t know if I can do this!’. It’s normal to have these feelings and just because you feel like you might fall apart, doesn’t mean you’re going to. 6. BE HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU ARE Stop thinking about where you should be and connect with where you are and what you need to do now. Take one day and one decision at a time. Sometimes we don’t know what the right decision is, there is no obvious answer and we can get so wrapped up with what might happen, but sometimes you’ve just got to pick a decision, get behind it with everything you have and hope that it’s the right one. Life is never perfect. Living a life that’s in line with our values and goals is what we’re all after, so try to ease off on the pressure, invest in getting to know yourself and see if things don’t start falling into place!
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REVIEWS / BOOKS
RUNAWAY HUSBANDS BY VIKKI STARK Reviewed by Naomi Gora WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS BOOK?
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO READ?
Runaway Husbands was recommended to me not long after my separation. I went to the website to check it out and was astounded at how much it described what I was going through. I bought a copy immediately.
I devoured it in a couple of days and still refer to it regularly.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT? It’s a guide to recovering from ‘Wife Abandonment Syndrome’ which is when a husband leaves his wife abruptly with no prior sign of being unhappy. Wives in this situation often think they are in a caring and attentive marriage when their husbands leave out-of-the-blue and seem to turn into totally different people overnight.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT? WHY OR WHY NOT? Absolutely. This book made me feel like I wasn’t crazy. I finally had some sort of answer or understanding of all the ‘Why’s’ running through my head and finally accepted that I probably would never get the answers I was seeking. If you need help getting your head around what happened to you and how to move on, I couldn’t recommend a better book.
FINDING A MORE EMPOWERED ‘YOU’....
ON YOUR OWN TWO FEET BY HELEN BAKER Reviewed by Karen Normanton WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS BOOK? This book was sent to me by a friend as I had mentioned I was interested in budgeting and setting myself up for financial independence as a single mum. WHAT’S IT ABOUT? This book is a good first port of call for any female wanting to reassess their financial position and get an understanding of what is important, where to start and how to get in a position of power and take ownership in relation to your money. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO READ? I found this to be a really easy read and finished it in two nights after my 3-year-old was in bed. It is written in a way so as to make
it very easy to understand and really easy to glide through even when in a sleep deprived, single mummy state! WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT? WHY OR WHY NOT? If you’re a beginner and just starting to look at your financial position then this is a great once over giving you a comprehensive list of what you need to think about and where you could go to get the assistance you require. This book gives a good coverage for women of any age whether you are a young single (or an old single for that matter!), a married mother, a single mother, a retiree, or ill. If you are a little more into your financial journey you may want more detail, but I valued it as a confirmation that what I’m doing and how I’m managing my financial position is on the right track. www.liftmagazine.com.au | 55
REVIEWS / BOOKS
MOTHER OM BY LEONIE PERCY Reviewed by Naomi Gora WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS BOOK?
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO READ?
I first heard of Leonie Percy when she was nominated in last year’s Ausmumpreneur Awards. As a single mum herself, I felt she could relate to my experience of motherhood and I thought if she can be a mindful mum, so can I!
I’ve been reading it on an ongoing basis for over six months now. I keep it on my desk so I can easily flip through it for whatever I need in the moment... especially when I feel a ‘mummy meltdown’ approaching!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT? WHY OR WHY NOT?
The sub-title of the book is ‘Connect with yourself and your child in one mindful moment a day’ and it really is just that. The style of the book allows you to quickly reference bite-sized chunks of information and practical tips, so you can literally flip through in a moment and find something to help you in your day - whether it’s about communicating with your children, handling stress, looking after yourself, being present or just finding ways to relax more.
Mother Om helps you remember the mother you want to be when you’re having ‘one of those days’. When everything gets too much, when stress and anxiety build up, all you need to do is flip through its pages to start feeling balanced and connected again. It really helps me remember that I don’t need to be perfect and that motherhood is a work in progress.
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HAVE A GLOBAL FOOD ADVENTURE AT HOME
From a small kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one every-day mum and food lover, Sasha Martin, has proven that you don’t have to be limited by your cirumstances. In fact, your challenges could become your biggest triumphs....
HI SASHA, TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF... My name is Sasha Martin and I eat the world for a living. That may sound a little far-fetched, but it’s true. I spent nearly four years (from February 2010 until November 2013) cooking a meal from every country in the world, all from my small kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Each week I served up a new country to my picky husband, Keith, and young daughter, Ava and shared the experience, as well as the recipes on my blog - Gobal Table Adventure. When the project wrapped up, I couldn’t stop cooking. To date I’ve shared more than 650 authentic recipe adaptations on Global Table Adventure in an effort to make our planet a little friendlier (and yummier!). My memoir, Life From Scratch will be out in March 2015. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START GLOBAL TABLE ADVENTURE? This idea, like so many, came from being STUCK. On the sleepless night I decided to undertake my quest, several concerns were rattling around in my brain: • MY BABY. My daughter Ava was about seven months old, just starting out on solid foods. I wanted her to eat well. I also wanted her to grow up loving her world (and feeling loved by it!). • MY HUSBAND. Keith was an extremely picky eater when I met him. (Eat an
eggplant? Forget it. He had no idea what it was and no interest in finding out.) • MY KITCHEN. Although I went to the Culinary Institute of America for a year, I wasn’t cooking. In fact, ever since Christmas, months earlier, I’d had 48 spice jars sitting empty in the kitchen, waiting for me to DO something with them. I was in a major rut. • MY TRAVEL. I really missed travel and the adventure that comes with it (I had been to 12 countries by the age of 19). There was no way we’d be able to whisk my daughter away to experience food from other countries first-hand, the expense was too great, plus I wanted her to remember our travels. I did know though that whatever her taste buds were exposed to as an infant and toddler would profoundly impact the rest of her life. Cooking the world seemed like the perfect solution to all of our challenges. Keith would become more open to new foods. My daughter would grow up with an appreciation for other cultures. And I would satisfy some of my wanderlust. Once my husband was on board (he loves a good challenge), we started the process – one country per week, 195 total. HOW HAS THE PROJECT CHANGED YOU AND YOUR FAMILY OVER THE YEARS? My husband DID become less picky and my daughter is incredibly curious about other cultures. As for me, while I cooked the countries, lessons from their cultures seeped into our www.liftmagazine.com.au | 59
everyday lives and I felt a shift – not only in how I saw them, but how I saw myself. Cooking the world changed everything… but the surprise was that the changes came from within. WERE THERE DAYS WHEN YOU THOUGHT ‘THIS IS ALL TOO HARD?!’ IF SO, WHAT KEPT YOU GOING? Definitely. The cooking-related challenges were easy to resolve: finding ingredients (I chose to cook global, shop local so that more people could replicate what I was doing) and finding recipes (I wore out my library card, expanded my cookbook collection, and got great at reaching out to authors of expat blogs). At the end of the day, the hardest part of this quest was facing myself. All good adventures become mirrors, challenging us to see ourselves for who we really are. During the last year of the project, when I began writing my memoir for National Geographic, my editor pushed me to dig deeper. I’ll always remember her laughing, saying something like “but you aren’t just some bored house wife, you’re obsessively cooking every country in the world. There’s something else going on here. Tell me what that’s all about!”. Introspection (and lots of tears) brought me face to face with my rough and tumble childhood – the string of foster homes, the painful separation from my mother, and the tragic death of a beloved family member. Food, specifically cooking with my mother, had been an important anchor early on but as an adult I felt disconnected from that experience. As I worked to build my own family, cooking the world had become much more than trying new food – it became my way of working out what unconditional love and belonging meant. Reflected in the desire for my daughter to love her world, I also saw my own need to 60 | For any mum flying solo
love my world and feel loved by it. After a childhood in turmoil I was hungry for peace. I soon learned that I could not control my world or how other people behaved. I couldn’t even force my beautiful, kind-hearted daughter to love her world. Even with my encouragement, the choice was ultimately hers. The only peace I could create, it turns out, is for myself. YOU GREW UP WITH A SINGLE MOTHER, WHAT HAS THAT TAUGHT YOU ABOUT BEING A MOTHER? Mom is the most creative woman I know. As I recount in my memoir, Mom stitched odd jobs at the kitchen table to make ends meet while we kids played at her feet. She didn’t have a lot of money so instead of the Barbie playhouse and pool, we used styrofoam inserts from shipping boxes for dollhouses. When my daughter came along, Mom showed me that something as simple as tossing socks into a basket can be endlessly entertaining for a toddler. I try to model much of my parenting on my mother’s gift for creativity. AND FINALLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE? AND WHY? I have many favorite international recipes, but I always come back to Mom’s homemade bread - it’s warm, homey, and simple. Mom made this bread every day for a couple of years while living at a small convent, perfecting variations as she went. She used side-by-side bread machines to proof double batches of dough, then baked the loaves in the oven. Not a crumb was left after breakfast. I like to bake mine in a Pullman pan, though a freeform loaf or small dinner rolls work, too. The powdered milk gives the bread a softer crumb, but I rarely add it.
BASIC BREAD RECIPE INGREDIENTS (MAKES 1 LARGE LOAF OR 12 BUNS) • 4 cups flour
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 ½ cups water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 tablespoons powdered milk (optional)
• 2 teaspoons yeast
METHOD STEP 1: Mix all ingredients together and knead for five minutes, until a smooth, elastic dough forms. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours. Punch down the dough and shape - either by forming a dozen rolls, or by pressing into a Pullman pan. Cover and proof another 30-45 minutes. STEP 2: Bake in an oven preheated to 375F (190C). Pullman loaves will take 30-35 minutes. Rolls will only take about 15-20 minutes.
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COFFEE & a CONVO’ With Tanya, single mum to Lucas and Emily
“ WHAT HAVE I LEARNED ABOUT In the way I prioritise things. Some of the things I used to think were important really aren’t. For example, I now work part-time instead of full-time.
WHAT UNEXPECTED POSITIVES HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ALONG THE WAY? It’s actually allowed me to have a better work-life balance, because there’s another household and another family, it allows me more flexibility at work so I can have a career and be there for my children. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN REBUILDING AFTER DIVORCE? The emotional fight within myself - part of me wanted to run away as my ex-husband and his new partner lived so close. I suffered emotionally so I could support my children in both of their homes. It took counselling to get through, but I just had to tell myself that it wouldn’t always be so painful, and it’s paid off, my children are well adjusted.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING TO DO WHEN YOU GET ‘ME’ TIME? Training! Just running – it doesn’t matter how far or where. I’ve been doing triathlons since
HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED SINCE BECOMING A SINGLE MUM?
MYSELF? THAT EVEN WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO FALL INTO A HEAP, I DIDN’T.
my separation and I want to do the China Great Wall Marathon in 2017. I never even thought I could swim 1.5km and I did and I was ok! You can accomplish so much more than you think you can – just have a plan and work up to it.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO RIGHT NOW? Wednesday nights are hand over nights with my kids and we’ve made it into our ‘movie night’. Lucas picks the movie, I make something special for dinner and we stay up late. Spending that time together on their first night home helps them to adjust quicker to the change in households.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST TIP FOR GETTING THROUGH A SEPARATION OR DIVORCE? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it’s hour by hour, then day by day and slowly you stop having to ‘just get through’.
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