Each to their own.

This week, I have been thinking a lot about the challenges I’ve faced in my life. I’m only 31 and have seen more devastation and loss than most people my age, in both my personal and professional lives.

I’ve been thinking about how I’ve managed to get by all this time and what and or who I’ve need along the way to help me through. I’ve encountered death, bereavement, physical and emotional abuse, the financial ruin of those I’ve cared about, and more.

Everyone has their own struggles in life and what is so significant to some may not be to others. But each to their own.

I lost my father to metastatic bowel cancer at 22, I lost my mother this year (at 31) to congestive heart failure-undiagnosed. I have lost all grandparents. I am the middle of three daughters who are now left as the oldest generation to care for their own children.

I wonder why all this loss has come about in my life but I don’t blame any one thing or any one force or person. I don’t think I have lost those I’ve cared about the most as some sort of personal challenge to overcome, even though in a way, overcoming the loss and grief is enough of a challenge in itself.

I wonder what this loss will have taught me in the years to come, as my children grow into teens and then adults. All I want from this situation is to not have this happen to my children. 

I don’t know if you know what it feels like to lose someone. To lose someone who you feel is a living, breathing part of you. I never saw my mother and father as just my parents, they were my idols, and not for any specific heroic reasons either. It is all the small, seemingly insignificant things they were and did for me that adds up to my feelings for them.

My mother was the kind of woman who would drop everything to help you. She’d say the right things and if she didn’t, you knew she had meant well. My mother was a loving spirit who cared only for her children. She was a generous, thoughtful, beautiful person with the kindest nature you’d ever come across. She could feel my pain and my joy and I could tell her anything and everything.

My father was tough but I knew he loved me. He didn’t want to show a deep connection with me but I knew he’d fight for me if he had to. He saw all sorts of potential in me and pushed and pushed for me to blossom. I felt I had a lot to live up to but being a better me was the best thing I could strive for.

Together, my parents were black and white, no grey and in between. One was tough love, one was soft love. One was unconventional, one was meticulously planning. But together, it worked, mostly.

My biggest fear from a young age was to lose my parents. And now I am at a stage in my life where I have gotten over that hurdle. My parents are no longer living and I’m part of the oldest generation of my family left behind. 

I always think to myself, no matter how kooky it sounds “death is the only thing my family hasn’t endured together”. We are left behind to try and find our own way in life without the role models {positive or negative} that were our parents.

I do get jealous of ‘children’ my age who don’t value their parents as I did mine. Or should I say idolise or cherish their parents. I understand though that all families aren’t as close as we were and other people left in my situation might be looking back on their parent-child relationships with confusion, as to why they never really knew each other or became close.

I look back and smile. I cry that it’s over and smile that it ever happened. I miss my parents with all my heart and soul. They were two of a kind. I still cannot believe that I am even in this position at times. It is a nightmare, but one I feel like I can wake up from eventually.

At this point in time, little things bother me, but only for milliseconds. Before Mum passed, I would’ve stewed for days on unimportant issues. I’ve let go. I’ve cut off some feeling I was holding on to and felt some new emotions that I didn’t think were part of me. I do believe I have every right to be angry at the world for taking my parents too soon. But I choose to be happy that they were my parents at all. 

We all have challenges to overcome in life. My greatest has been to not curl into a ball of hurt and sorrow in front of my children. I’m surviving so far. Grief is a big thing. It’s gut-wrenching. I’d rather be angry than grieving. Anger never lasts so long. Grief, if you let it, takes control of every part of you, of every bodily system and doesn’t let go until you force it to. The pain that comes at the most random of moments, it hurts every fibre I’m built with. Then it fades. Just a gentle reminder that I’m allowed to feel pain at this time and to let myself feel the pain. Being a mum isn’t about being tough all the time, it’s about being the best and most human example to your children.

I am positive that if I wasn’t a parent myself at this point in my life, I would struggle to find meaning in the loss I’m facing. My children, thankfully, don’t know what it feels like to lose part of themselves. They don’t understand the tears and the moodiness. They don’t understand the ‘forever’ part of death or the unbearable sadness of being bereaved.

I hope that I show them by example that any challenge can be faced with pride and with dignity. And that if so, we can be gracious in defeat. Grief is something, however, I will not bow to. I’ve chosen my path, as I always do, and that path is to be strong and feel the love of my parents with each breath I take. Their souls and their love are with me and I will never be without them. I just need to remember their love and I’ll be okay.

My children will hear every day, stories of their grandparents and know that they are forever loved by them. I never wanted to speak of my parents in past tense but I’ll make the best of this difficult situation. My children deserve nothing but a strong, brave and loving mother who leads by example. I will show them the way, just like my mother and father did for me.

Have you told your parents you loved them lately? Just tell them. If they aren’t in your life, just talk out loud and tell them you’ve thought about them today.

 

All my strength and love today is dedicated to Margaret Elizabeth and Kevin Bradley, my heart and my soul, my beloved and most treasured Mum and Dad. May you both be resting in each other’s arms and are comforted by the fact that you are together again.

RIP my angels.

LEJ

Little Red’s Guest Book- Emily Foote (Me & Em Graphic Design)

ImageMe & Em Name Print

(Image courtesy of Emily Foote)

Can you introduce yourself and your business to my readers?

Hi my name is Emily Foote of Me & Em Graphic Design. I’m a Graphic Designer and artist who has created a gorgeous range of products to decorate babies & children’s bedrooms.

What made you take the leap into small business?

At the time I was a single parent, working in graphic design for the local newspaper and studying part-time to reach my goal of becoming a freelance graphic designer. I didn’t want to be limited to designing for newspapers, and I wanted the opportunity to put more of my personal stamp on things as I have a strong need for self-expression.

Which social media platforms do you use to publish and promote your work? (include links here if you like)

Almost all of them!! I love social media as a way to promote my products and services, it allows me to do it all for free, and to reach out to my large circle of friends & family and tap into their networks as well. I especially love the visual aspects of Instagram and Pinterest.

Facebook

Etsy

Pinterest & Instagram: meandemandyou

Who and or what inspires you in your life and your business?

Other female artists and designers inspire me, such as the late textile designer Florence Broadhurst – she was such a vivacious character and had a real drive and determination to succeed – but unfortunately passed away.

Colour & nature are always intriguing to me, I can generate new ideas just from looking at a particular colour swatch or plant in the garden! I also love to play around with interior design in my house.

How do you treat yourself after a long week of work?

My weekdays can be incredibly hectic as I’m still working 2 jobs part-time on top of running my business, so I definitely need to wind down on a Friday night! I take my partner Steven and 5-year-old Hunter out to our favourite pizza joint. Hunter thinks it’s great because it’s the only chance he gets to have lemonade!

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Me & Em Number Print

(Image courtesy of Emily Foote)

If you could donate $1m to a charity of your choosing, which would you choose and why?

That’s a hard one because I’d love to help everybody! But Epilepsy Action Australia is one that is close to my heart – my eldest cousin Robin suffers from a very rare form of Epilepsy – called MELAS. It affects the nervous system, brain and muscles, creating a slow deterioration in bodily functions. He has stroke-like episodes which progressively damage all his systems, however he’s lived well past the expected age for survival of 30 years of age. I’d love to give $million to aid in the research of this disease.

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve received?

Be yourself! You cannot get the best out of life if you try to do exactly what other people are doing. Forge your own path, and blaze your own trail.

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Me & Em Personalized Wedding Bunting

(Image courtesy of Emily Foote)

What is your favourite of all the products you’ve created and why?

My favourite product is the Vintage Floral custom name poster. Each illustration is researched and created specifically to match the meaning of the child’s name. I love when I get a new order as it sparks my imagination and allows that creative drive to happen. Personalised things make such special gifts that can be treasured forever.

What has been your greatest achievement in your business to date?

There’s no one thing that I focus on but the general pride I feel in creating and running this business all on my own is a fantastic feeling.

How have you overcome your biggest challenge (in life or business)?

The biggest challenge for me in my business has been time management! I still struggle with it occasionally because it is a constant thing that doesn’t go away on its own. When you are the sole owner/operator and employee, you have to do EVERYTHING! To manage this I write lots of lists, have a diary and calendar handy all the time, and prioritize/rearrange schedules constantly.  My email is always active and if I have 5 minutes spare I use it to get on top of any communications I’ve not yet responded to.

Name three things that put an enormous smile on your face.

1. My son’s cheeky grin and giggle – he is a very charismatic and funny little boy, I think he’ll go into a job in theatre when he’s older.

2. Food! I’m a self-confessed foodie, I eat a lot, cook a lot, and talk about food all the time!

3. Babies – I love the innocence and purity, their tiny little bodies, sweet-smelling skin and that they rely on you for all their needs.

If you were granted $100k for your small business, how would you spend it?

I would probably use it to develop heaps of new product ranges, not just for babies & children. I’d love to put my stamp on interiors with tableware, upholstery, bed linen, wallpaper etc I could go on for hours!!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? In ten years?

In five years time I’d like to be working from home 5 days a week with excellent sales and time to create new products for your home.

Can you describe your business in three words.

Uplifting, Bespoke & Inspired.

What makes you different from your competitors?

Great design should be thoughtful, considered and deliberate – some large businesses out there are spewing forth mountains of new products and imagery which are highly manufactured but poorly executed. They are created to fill a perceived market, but not everyone wants a picture that a million other people have also got. My designs are unique, original illustrations which have been thoughtfully developed and lovingly created.

If there was one person you could swap lives with for a day, who would it be and why?

I have a girl crush on Beyonce, so I’d love to step into her shoes and get some great business advice. Also to be able to sing like her would be amazing, currently I love to sing but nobody else does!

Which song that always gets stuck in your head? 

That Taylor Swift song “Trouble” gets in there all the time!  “I knew you were trouble when you walked in…”

Your next holiday destination and what will you do on the first day?

Really hoping to have a mini getaway to a B&B in the King Valley. Not too far from home, and a nice quiet place to relax. I’ll be reading magazines and having a massage for sure!

Which small business are you loving right now? 

Nest Design Studio – Belinda is an Interior designer who specializes in making over children’s bedrooms. They are delightfully uplifting rooms and are decorated with such care.

Any parting words for my readers?

It sounds corny, but follow your dreams! You can be anything you want to be if you work hard and have determination to succeed.

You can help me build my Em-pire by liking and sharing my Facebook page, or head on over to my Etsy store to make a purchase! Each package sent is a little bundle of joy for you and me.

www.etsy.com/shop/meandemgraphicdesign

Thanks so much to Emily for participating in Little Red’s Guest Book today, I’m a big fan of her work and can’t wait to see where her vision takes her next!

If you’d like to be part of Little Red’s Guest Book, please contact Lauren via lauren@littleredwritingsolutions.com.au

LEJ

I know nothing about Australian Politics but I do know this….

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My two reasons for EVERYTHING I do.

I’ve been on Maternity Leave since just before Christmas last year. It has been the most amazing, eye-opening experience. And that’s just the being a stay-at-home-mum part. I gave birth in February to my beautiful daughter and have been the primary carer for my two piplings ever since {my son is 5 next month}. While my husband works full time, I care for the kids, do kinder and childcare runs and all the “mundane” mum tasks. I, however, am relishing the experience because I never got this stay-at-home experience with my first child. It’s been too perfect for words to just be focusing on my new baby and making sure my son feels like he is {more than ever} my world.

Such a brilliant part of my leave, and one that has put my mind at ease and reduced stress levels is the fact that I was fortunate enough to be able to receive employer-funded maternity leave, as well as paid parental leave via the Government. It has meant that as well as taking up my new role as Mum of Two, I have also been able to still contribute in the same way financially to our household, which means a lot for my confidence, my identity and for my goals in life. I am woman, hear me roar!!!!

Thanks to the Government, my husband was lucky enough to receive the two weeks paid paternity leave to spend with us at home. It was time where he bonded with his new girl, spent time just being with his son {when he otherwise would’ve been hard at work} and giving me the much needed support in those early days with a newborn.

The hunt for our new PM will come to a head shortly and for Mums and parents everywhere, the Paid Parental Leave and Maternity Leave Schemes could be a deciding factor in where many votes lie on September 7th.

What has this paid leave meant to me? Everything. Most importantly, I have felt I have been able to combine my role as primary carer for my children with secondary income earner. Many families, for example those in a single income situation or for single mothers, may not have this opportunity. This precious time getting to know and bond with my new daughter has been a time I will remember for the rest of my days. And even with the 18 week scheme currently offered by our Government {it will grow to 26 weeks, if Abbott gets in}, I felt extremely lucky.

I can’t imagine that many couples who are considering starting a family or adding to their brood would look past Tony Abbott’s 26 Week Paid Parental Leave Scheme. You can read more about his plans for this scheme here. Some may not like him as Leader of our great country, but to me, family is my priority and if this scheme was to come into action, it would get my vote. Simple.

I put my family first and believe that it is such a fantastic opportunity for women to receive paid leave whilst caring for their young children. As well as providing much needed income at the time, the benefits include: having more time to secure a child care place/sort out childcare programs for when and if your child needs to enter care, women are less stressed upon re-entry into the workforce, women are more inclined to return to the same type of work they took leave from in the first place ({great for employers who want experienced employees} and apparently is much better for women financially when it comes to superannuation, retirement planning and time out of the workforce over the course of their careers.

According to Mr Abbott and his Gang,

“Of the more than 30 countries in the OECD offering a paid parental leave scheme, Australia is one of only two nations that fail to pay parental leave based on a replacement wage”

(Liberal Party, July 2013)

And under this scheme, a mother’s wage will be fully replaced, superannuation and all. Sounds good to me! Let’s hope the promises are delivered upon for all those hopeful parents with their fingers and toes crossed. It’s hard enough to create a baby for most couples, it’s seriously hard work to grow a baby then give birth. So then the ACTUAL hard yacka of raising and nurturing the child with full payment is something I would smile upon.

For me, it has meant stress-free time. I can have those nights where I get no sleep and we have the chance to catch up the next day, at home, where we are comfortable and all I need to do is catch the kids up on sleep, rather than leave them to go off to work in that foggy sleep-deprived state. All you parents out there know that fog, it take so long to lift after a new baby has arrived! It has given me the greatest opportunity to form a strong bond with my daughter. I feel I know her more than I knew my son when he was the same age because she hasn’t really had to leave my side yet.

I know nothing about Australian Politics but I know that this is something I’d seriously consider in my voting plan on September 7th. Anything that help parents gets a stamp of approval in my book.

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My precious bookworm

How do you feel about Paid Parental Leave and Maternity Leave? What do you think could be improved? How would these schemes change your life?

LEJ

This made me laugh!

This really made my night ….

What makes life 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been to those meetings where someone wants more than 100%.

How about achieving 103%?

Here’s a little math that might prove helpful.

If:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

then:

H A R D W O R K
8 1 18 4 23 15 18 11 = 98%

K N O W L E D G E
11 14 15 23 12 5 4 7 5 = 96%

but:

A T T I T U D E
1 20 20 9 20 21 4 5 = 100%

and:
B U L L S H I T
2 21 12 12 19 8 9 20 = 103%

So, it stands to reason that hard work and knowledge will get you close,
attitude will get you there, but bullshit will put you over the top.

And look how far this will take you…

A S S K I S S I N G
1 19 19 11 9 19 19 9 14 7 = 118%

Think about it…

Thank You from Me to You {big hearts}

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I’ve been blogging for a small portion of my life, but writing for longer. I didn’t realise how much fun and how therapeutic blogging was until I started my own copywriting business.

My ideas can be random, my thoughts can be scattered, my ideas can be personal and not always business-focused. I write for myself, no matter what, and hopefully, kind people who take a look at my work enjoy what I write, agree/disagree with my words or feel inspired to write something for themselves.

I can’t imagine my world without being able to write in this way. And I love what I do. So thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you lovely people who have either stopped by my blog, commented in some way on a post or two or liked my work.

You have no idea how much it means to me when I get a notification saying “X liked your post” or “Y likes Little Red & Her Writing”. It turns any darkness in my day to light!

Love.

LEJ.

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