Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Shout out to my US readers!

So I just want to do a quick shout out to my readers in the US in the midst of the storm. I hope anyone in the effected area is staying safe, has enough food and water to get through the next few days, and most of all has a storm kit and a safe place to bunker down! 

The photos and footage coming out of this event are both beautiful and terrifying, so for anyone who has family or friends in the Tri-state area, know I am thinking of you all and have my fingers and toes all crossed that they get through this safely.

Here is one of the more beautiful pictures I've seen from today. Mother Nature is as fragile and beautiful as she is vengeful and strong, and not even one of the greatest cities on earth is immune.

Stay safe, be smart, and see you when the sun comes out again.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Sunday 10: Summer must haves 2012/13

I wanted to write this one sooner but I also wanted to suss out what was on trend at the grand opening of Myer Townsville this week! I went to the VIP night Wednesday and braved Stockland again yesterday to catch a glimpse of Jennifer Hawkins - oh and to double check my notes! I am so over the moon to see Peter Alexander, Veronika Maine, Collette, and of course Myer finally in Townsville! Maybe now we finally can shake our status as the town where fashion goes to die!

Brace yourself, summer is coming! There are SO many trends happening this summer, and so I thought I would post the absolute must haves. Not all of them are for everyone though, so make sure you pick and chose what is right for you!

10) Pastels. I want to start out by saying pastels are not for everyone, and most people will not suit all pastel colours. I have seen these in lovely floaty chiffon tops and other light ethereal fabrics. Ice-cream colours like lavender, mint, powder blue, and baby pink are all over the place, everywhere from Myer to Cue, and Rockmans to Ice. 

9) Capris. Once again, this style is not for everyone - particularly the short of stature or leg. But for our average height ladies or those with legs up to their arm pits, these tight fitting, leg slimming beauties are for you! The great thing is that capris are suitable for all ages in the right cut, so get out there and try them on. Pair them with espadrills and a nautical striped blouse for a seaside look, or pumps, a sheer collar shirt, and statement necklace for something with a bit more edge.  

8) Tribal Prints. Tribal prints seem to be making a come back in all sorts of colours and styles. Don't get this confused with animal print! Find a fab tribal maxi and you'll be bang on trend. The great thing about tribal prints is they are often flattering on all shapes and sizes, so get in touch with your wild side! There are also some funky bold feather accessories out there to really add more texture and pop to tribal looks. 

7) Sleeveless collared shirts. These are everywhere! Be careful, if you have an ample bust stay away unless you are willing to add a waist belt. If you are also particularly short in the kneck or broad shouldered, this style may also swamp you in fabric and make you look broader/shorter than necessary. Small breasted girls have at this one and don't be afraid to button right up to the top and add a heavy, bold statement necklace tucked in under the collar like a sexy, blinging, tie.

6) Sheer. Sheer is hot, hot, hot this summer. Many people freak out at the thought of sheer but it really is very easy and a lot less scandalous than you might think! I picked up a sheer asymmetrical hem skirt from The Iconic, it has a shorter black lining skirt underneath with the main structure and flow of the skirt in black chiffon over the top. The aforementioned pastels and collar shirts are also coming out in these flowy sheer fabrics, so try teaming it with a tank underneath if you're not ready to go the fully Miley Cyrus and just go for the bra and sheer top. 

5) Maxi skirts and dresses. A summer favourite for decades. If you can find an awesome sheer fabric maxi you will be smokin'. The 'mullet' hemline is also still around for us shorties who have to take a foot off the hem of every maxi we buy. Don't be afraid to twist a mullet skirt around a little to create an asymmetrical hemline and create a whole new look in the process.

4) The Clash. Colour clashing is big again this season. Smashing your pinks, oranges, and blues all together might sound horrendous but if you do it right then it gives a fresh twist to old favourites. If you're just starting out, or are not sure where to start, I find clashing with the small things like accessories is a great way to test the waters.

3) Bold colours. It's all about the pop of colour! Oranges, pinks, lime green, it is a rainbow of colour in the fashion world this summer! Not everyone might be comfortable with stepping out in head to toe tangerine, but you can get your pop with a bold lip. While the smokey eye can be hard for us less adept in makeup application, bold lips are all about colouring in the lines with a quality lipstick and liner. Particularly hot are bold out there colours, bright red, orange, and hot pink. With all these colours is it important to make sure you find the right shade for your skin tone. 

2) Lace. Lace is a wonderful way to add a touch of femininity and charm to any outfit - of course it can also add a pinch of sex and seduction too, and that is what is so hot about it! Lace detailing is very prominent this summer, from lace shorts, to lace collars, and it is perfect to go from day to night, or from work to play.

1) Neon. I love it and I hate it, but above all I have to have it this summer! The stores are awash with neon! It is very hard to do right, and also takes a lot of confidence to pull off. While there are lots of neon dresses emerging, if you are new to neon I strongly urge you to start small with accessories - nails, shoes, earrings, and bags - and work your way up from there. My favourite thing at the moment is my China Glaze Shocking Pink nail polish, it's just the right amount of neon for me, though I would DIE for a pair of neon Louboutin's! 

There you have it, the trends to watch out for this summer! What I really love about this year's trends is that they really are all about colour and that means that being trendy won't cost you the earth. You can find great coloured shorts and tees cheap as chips from Target, Kmart and Big W, and Equip, Diva, and  Famous Footwear all have us girls on a budget covered. Also, don't be afraid to hit your local habby and customise basic pieces. Add a little lace detail to your favourite shirt or shorts from seasons past and breathe new life into your existing wardrobe.


Friday, 26 October 2012

Day for Daniel 2012

Today of course is Day for Daniel here in Australia, and the first DFD that the Morcombe family has some form of closure regarding their sweet boy. For my international readers who may not be familiar with the story, in December 2003 a boy called Daniel Morcombe was abducted from a bus stop on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. After 8 years of searching and heartache for his family, his remains were finally found in August last year, and a man charged with his murder. His parents, Denise and Bruce have since founded the Daniel Morcombe foundation, which raises awareness for child safety through in school programs, and public events such as Day for Daniel.

I remember the day Daniel was taken very vividly, as I was in the same area at the time. I was the same age as Daniel, and I too was out and about without a parent - in fact I was looking after three younger children as we walked to Sunshine Plaza from the camping ground where we stayed every Christmas. I remember my parents calling me and telling me that my friends' father would come and get us and that we were not to walk home because a boy had been taken. We saw it on the news that night, and I remember looking for Daniel constantly that summer, and many after that. 

Daniel was also a twin, which for me now as a twin parent, makes me think of him all the more often. It was only a few days after my girls were born that his remains were discovered, and I remember looking at them in their crib and promising them that I would protect them from horrible people who look to hurt children.

Daniel's story is a solemn reminder that the world is not as safe as we once thought it was. I wish I could send my kids to the local store by themselves, or not worry about sending them out trick-or-treating, but that is not the world we live in. Unfortunately it took the life of one happy, smiling, loving boy to show us that. Child abduction, and child safety is a real threat, and something to be taken seriously, yet it is important to find the medium between wrapping our children in cotton wool, and protecting them from the dangers of the world. 

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation works tirelessly year round to help us educate our children on safety and risk, and welcome donations no matter how small the amount, to help them in their quest to make a safer, better world for our kids. Please give generously if you can and visit their website to read about all the wonderful initiatives they are currently undertaking in the name of child safety. Bruce and Denise are determined to see a positive outcome from their tragic loss, and through our support they can make it happen.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I love my Chiball!

So you might remember a few weeks ago, I won a Chiball pack in the 12WBT blogging challenge. Well after a month of using my Chiball regularly I can honestly say that I freaking love it!

Chiballs are specially coloured and scented to promote a certain mood, and are used in exercises that combine Chinese yoga, pilates, dance, and Tai Chi. There are many different DVDs and 10 different colour scent balls. I have the Awaken Your Spine DVD, and the silver Eucalyptus ball which stimulates creativity and increases mental clarity.

Since I started using my Chiball with the DVD, my back pain has lessened, and my abs are actually sore after a workout, so I know they're working. My chiropractor has even noticed the change and has  looked into Chiball for himself! I always feel super relaxed by the end of the workout - which lasts about an hour - and my head actually does feel clearer.

This is a great low intensity exercise for when you're injured - particularly if it's the lower body. It's also great if you're feeling a bit tired, stiff, like you don't have the energy, or if you just feel restless and don't know what else to do. It's a workout you might not feel working at the time, but believe me, when you wake up in the morning you'll know all about it!

So for anyone who is a bit over their usual core strengthening routine, or over your regular yoga and pilates, Chiball is definitely worth a go. Chiball products can be purchased in Australia through the Mind and Body School of Management, but for international sales, and for more information about Chiball and the Chiball method, visit the official website, www.chiball.com. You can also like Chiball on Facebook for all the latest updates and products. 


Monday, 15 October 2012

The Sunday 10: Wardrobe Essentials

So business first, I apologise for being MIA this week, my iron levels have dropped severely so I pretty much slept all week, at least my husband had the week off to look after me, but I'm back now feeling much better and ready to get on with the show!

So this week, 10 wardrobe essentials that everyone needs in their collection. Think of these as your bread and butter. Timeless pieces that can be updated easily through accessories, and that make you feel a million bucks.

10) A quality coat/jacket. Even if you live somewhere you don't see yourself needing a particularly warm coat, trust me you never know. You can make it climate appropriate - maybe a stylish rain coat if you live in Darwin for instance, or maybe even just a light weight linen jacket - or even a cute waistcoat. Make sure the tailoring is perfect, and the shape is right for your body. Shorties should avoid coats past the bum in length if you can, and certainly nothing past the knee, as it will make your legs look even shorter, and will swamp you like you're a child playing in your parents' wardrobe. Top heavy ladies with ample chests should also avoid double breasted jackets and coats, as it adds extra bulk where you don't need it. Instead, opt for a V neck, or lower neckline cut. Gents can't go wrong with a sports coat, but remember, if you're shorter in the body, opt for a single button to lengthen out the torso. Skinny blokes go for those double breasted coats and jackets as they will add padding in the right places, and make you look and feel a bit more masculine.

9) A great bag. I am currently obsessed with my latest bag because I finally feel I've found the holy grail of bags. I can switch out the straps and can have a hobo, bowling, or shoulder bag all out of the one piece, and the best thing of all is that I can clip it onto the handle of the pram! Those Kardashian girls may be obnoxious at times, but they sure are practical! I put the long shoulder strap on for nights out and sling it around my body so I don't have to worry, and it's bling enough for the town but not too bling for day-to-day use. Being black, it will also be easier to work in with the rest of my wardrobe, and will be in vogue much longer than the bright orange version of it that I almost bought! Ladies, I know a hand bag is just as personal a choice as your knickers, but make sure it has everything you need, is good quality, and versatile. Blokes, don't fear the man bag! 

8) The T-Shirt. Everyone needs a T-Shirt. Long sleeved, short sleeved, somewhere in the middle, everyone needs one. The cut of the shirt is extremely important however. Top heavy ladies once again, opt for a lower neckline, and if you're concerned about your waistline, a sleeve that ends at the waistline will have a slimming effect. Make sure you choose a classic colour that compliments your colouring, and if you can find it for a good price - buy a few because you know you'll never see them at that price again!

7) Waist belt. Ladies, a waist belt is a must have in your collection. It can instantly transform your shape, add sophistication if done right, and give you a pop of colour. You can use it to accentuate your curves or create curves, and make a dress that may otherwise be unflattering into a perfect 10. Fellas, you just need a great belt to take you from work to play, something that will go from suit trousers, to jeans. 

6) Sunglasses. Not only should everyone own sunnies for eye protection, but they can be the cherry on top of the perfect outfit sundae. Make sure you chose something versatile, and in a shape that suits your face. Just because aviators might be the cool thing, doesn't mean they're cool on you! I'm a big, round sunnies girl and luckily for me they suit and flatter my heart shaped face. If I put on aviators, or anything square shaped or slim line, I look like an idiot.

5) Comfy flats. Everyone needs a comfy pair of go to shoes - other than your flip flops. They might be a sweet pair of Chuck Taylor's, or the comfiest pair of ballet flats the world has ever known. I once had a pair of dark brown leather sandals that I literally wore the souls out of twice! They met their untimely demise in the jaws of my puppy though, and since then I haven't been able to find anything as comfy. They went with everything, I could take them from work, to uni, then out for a night on the town, and that is what you want out of your comfy flats. Ladies, if you can fit them in your bag when you go out with the girls to slip on at the end of the night when those killer heels are literally killing you, then that's a bonus. 

4) Jeans. Who could live without jeans?  Jeans are a must have item in your wardrobe, and one perfect pair can last a good decade or more! Make sure you choose the right cut and wash - for those who are concerned about "thunder thighs", avoid washes that are lighter at the front and back and darker at the sides. Check out Gok Wan's "Work Your Wardrobe" for the 411 on jeans, and if you're lucky enough to live in the US, you may even find a specialty store where the staff can recommend the right pair just for you.

3) Sexy knickers. What is under it all counts! A sexy bra and pants, or even a bustier under your outfit can give you the confidence boost you need on one of those bad days. Blokes, this might be a particular pair of jocks that you're lady or fella particularly loves on you, or that just make you feel like you could be Magic Mike.

2) Shapewear. I know I've had my beef with it in the past, but I cannot deny that this is essential in your wardrobe. If the foundation of the building isn't right, then the building will look the same! Wear your sexy knickers underneath, or take them with you and go 'freshen up' if you decide to get fresh. Ladies, it can also be a saviour on a big night out if you happen to stack it off those heels, because you won't be pulling a Britney! Boys, a power vest can hold in anything you might be conscious of, and help you feel strong and confident.

1) The Little Black Dress (LBD)/ Suit.  The ultimate. Suitable for everything from work, to weddings, and from a party to a funeral, you cannot go wrong with a great LBD or suit. I wear mine for all of those things, and accessorize according to the ocasion. Stockings and a camisole underneath for a funeral, funky heels and a big necklace for a night out. Blokes, this is where that suit is a must have, and once again, you can change it up using a tie, a fun shirt, even a tee underneath. If you don't have an LBD or suit - go forth and shop! As always though, remember that tailoring and cut is everything.

Next week: My top 10 favourite fashion brands and why


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Mental Health Matters: My struggles with anxiety and anger

Today marks the start of National Mental Health week here in Australia, and Wednesday the 10th will be world mental health day. Mental health awareness is crucial in today's society. The rising cost of living without rise in wages, pressure from the media, and in Queensland a state of political and social free-fall makes this year's mental health week and it's activities even more important than ever.

So today I am going to do my part to raise awareness about mental health by sharing my story about my ongoing battle with anxiety and anger management issues. Anxiety is a condition that for the sufferrer can be impossible to talk about because the very nature of the condition pretty much prevents you from doing so. Anxiety can be mild, the odd panic attack here, or fit of anger there, but it can get to the point where it controls your life and can become a gateway to other mental health conditions such as depression, mania, agoraphobia, and depending on the source, eating disorders. Many people with anxiety are also often ignored, their condition dismissed with people assuming they need to just "toughen up." Well I tell you what, I'm tougher than an old leather boot that's spend 30 years in the desert sun, and it happened to me.

Looking back now, I can see episodes in my childhood that really were indicators of anxiety. I was completely incapable of dealing with disappointing people, or others being angry with me - and I still am for the most part. I was terrified of not being able to do things that others found so easy. I would crumble into a blubbering, hyperventilating mess whenever someone so much as raised their voice at me, or if I failed in front of others. Most famously these incidents occurred at the piano when my mother would stand over me and force me to practice until I was more perfect than perfect, and my hands were wet with tears and snot. Sometimes though they would happen at school.

My most vivid and horrifying memory of anxiety at school was in year 6, when my teacher was trying to explain how to do something on the computer in computer class, and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't understand, I was the only one in the class who failed at this stupidly simple thing. Even the really dumb kids who had special tutors just to read could do it. My IT teacher was one of the most lovely and understanding teachers I've ever had, and we are still friends today, which perhaps made the shame of failing her greater. I felt the prickling behind my eyes and I started to cry. Then my breathing became quick and shallow, and my chest felt tight and I couldn't breathe. To make things worse some of my classmates proceeded to laugh at me, and call me cry baby. I was embarrassed, frustrated, angry, and afraid. I felt so stupid. My teacher and my best friend escorted me outside to calm down. I remember these things happening at other points at school but this day sticks in my mind like it was yesterday.

As I got older I forced myself to harden up. To hold everything in and just cry it all into my pillow at night. In sports, I became unable to lose, even terrified of losing. I would be inconsolably enraged and ashamed of myself if I lost or didn't achieve something in some way. At school, I began to over achieve in some areas. I was also unable to say no to my teachers and elders. If I was asked to take on an extra responsibility, I always did it because I couldn't bear the shame of letting down my teachers. By the time I was in year 11 I was run ragged. I remember quitting the school Marching Band in what would become one of my famous fits of rage. I suddenly decided I needed to rebel against 'the man' and did a complete backflip.

I was angry that everyone was just taking advantage of my condition, and so decided to take the "screw you all" path. My grades in subjects I didn't like or for teachers I didn't like dropped off to tow the line of mediocrity, much to my parents dismay and of course in turn, my own. I didn't like letting my parents down, but they didn't understand that I needed to be tough and not let others take advantage of me, even if it meant they were included in the mix. I had a boyfriend at the time who went on to be vice-captain of the school, and now has a successful career in business in Sydney. He was (is!) so talented at everything and my parents loved him, as I believed I did too. This relationship kept them off my back, and in a way kept me off my own back in regards to them because I wasn't failing them in finding an "agreeable match" (as they would have said at court!). I also began to reach out to other students who were obviously struggling with issues of their own, partially out of a compulsive need to help others, but also to distract me from my own issues. I would stay up all night talking people down off ledges, and building them back up from nothing. I helped people navigate the waters of relationships, parents, and school, and it made me feel good that I was helping these people and not failing them.

Then high school was over, and things settled down for a while. It was much easier to please my parents at uni, because the uni didn't give a shit about my grades and even less of a shit about calling my parents about them. I could easily fudge my results and mum and dad were none the wiser. I also joined the UQ Hockey club, where our team trained by eating donuts and pizza, yet still made it all the way to the grand final. I had made new friends, and was doing well with my studies without the scrutiny of teachers and parents, but through sports my anger again rose it's ugly head. We lost the grand final and as captain I was devastated. I don't think I so much as looked at my team mates for over a month let alone spoke to any of them! Of course I had a new relationship too, and now I realise that it was unhealthy as he would constantly dismiss my anxiety and concerns about everything, which of course made me angry and more anxious. After nearly 2 years in this relationship that had done nothing but feed my insecurities and anxiety, I'd finally had enough and just like in high school became angry again. The whole thing ended at our Bon Voyage party when I got very drunk, hooked up with is best friend, and told him it was over.  I should mention this was also Valentines Day and the next day we were going on a 2 week hiking trip of Borneo. Luckily for me he had wanted to end it too so in spite of the manner in which it happened it all worked out.

Another chapter over. I returned from the jungle reborn from the ancient earth like a magnificent and majestic tree. I was confident, happy, and for once completely calm. For the first time in my life, I did what I wanted, when I wanted, and did many things I had always wanted to do. I got a tattoo, dyed my hair blonde, would go on massive benders with my friends and gave myself a new rock n roll image. I think the cliche is "I found myself." I thought that maybe the monkey was finally off my back, and I'd won, and for a long time I had. In the time I call my "peace time," I met my wonderful husband, fell in love, saw my sister marry a wonderful man, and finally even got over my crippling inability to lose a hockey match. Really I should call it the calm before the storm.

I knew when I met Chris that he was going into the army. I just always thought we would cross that bridge when we came to it. Turns out it's a pretty effing long bridge. In the weeks looming up to his departure to Kapooka, I couldn't sleep, I struggled to eat. I would cry all night, sobbing uncontrollably. Three days after he left I went to my doctor for help. I was prescribed xanax, something to be taken irregularly. My doctor had known me all my life and thought this was just temporary. In an unfortunate and ironic turn of events, the medication designed to relax me gave me horrific, graphic, and violent nightmares. It also had the effect of making me drowsy, so I wouldn't be able to wake from the nightmare. My parents were also away overseas at the time, so I was home alone. When I did wake I would go intstantly into a panic attack, scouring my body for wounds and blood spatter. The nightmares were so vivid I could feel the warmth of blood spraying my face, or pain in areas where I became wounded, which would linger for a few minutes after I woke. I returned to the doctor and explained what had happened, and was prescribed vallium. However, the same nightmares kept happening whenever I used the medication, so I came to terms with the fact that it was not an option. So I joined a gym.

This was when 24hour gyms were becoming the big thing in fitness, so I joined Jetts. I would go there for hours on end, sometimes multiple times a day. When I couldn't sleep I would go, when I was bored and afraid of becoming upset I would go. I would go after hockey training and after games. I didn't care if I was in pain or if I was tired or hungry. It was more important to keep busy and avoid being alone or bored because I didn't want to have a panic attack. Eventually the shin splints happened, but by this point it was okay, we were going to be together again and be moving to Townsville to start our new life. I was excited to be leaving Brisbane finally, but a little worried about not really knowing anyone.

Chris arranged for me to meet some other wives of men in his unit so I could make friends. I thought we got along well and would become fast friends but I was wrong. I was left out of all social gatherings which were posted on Facebook for me to see. When I invited them places they would ignore me, or not be able to go for this reason or that. To make things worse, Chris seemed to be being bullied at work, and seeing him come home so unhappy at the end of every day make my anxiety about being left out worse. Was it my fault? Were the men leaving him out because their wives didn't like me? After only a month of being in Townsville he was sent on a month long exercise and I was so alone with the exception of my puppy, Freya. I did go to the movies with one of the other ladies during that time, but I think perhaps peer pressure got the better of her because we never really hung out again in spite of having a good time. During that month, my group thesis for uni was due. My final assignment, and I was trying to do it via distance. As much as I love my friends who were in my group, they're pretty disorganised, and as the one in charge of writing the final thing and handing it in, it stressed me out to the max. Plus we were planning our wedding, and the day after the invitations went out, my mother called to say that for the second time our venue had gone bankrupt and stolen away with our money. I had no idea what to do, I couldn't make my friends get their work done faster, I had to find another venue for the wedding, with the same date available, and I had absolutely nobody here to just give me a hug and tell me it would all work out.

I once again became unable to sleep, or eat. My hair started to fall out in clumps, and I would regularly have panic attacks both at home and in public places. I had been working the punching bag so hard my knuckles were blue. I once again started to compulsively stick sewing pins just under the skin on the backs of my hands; the concentration this took calmed me and made me focus. I began to frequent the beach as being near the ocean was the only thing that seemed to calm me, but I couldn't be there all the time. I tried to reach out to local mental health facilities for help only to find that there was a two month wait for an appointment at most of them. I couldn't afford to see a private psychologist, and the unit didn't have a padre at that time so I was left to go it alone. Then of course there was the cherry on the top being I was probably going to spend my birthday alone, or having to put up with the intrusion of my parents. Somehow my friend Tash must have sensed my distress and as her birthday is only a week after mine, she came up so we could have a girly weekend. Her best friend was on the same exercise as Chris and she missed him dearly, so she was welcome company, in that she understood so many of the things I was feeling. The boys returned early from the exercise thanks to the baffling yet in this instant wonderful incompetence of the ADF. Things were good again for a while, the assignment and uni were over, we went on and got married and had a fabulous time on our honeymoon, and I even managed to get a job interview on return.

Unfortunately the job didn't pan out, and I began to feel I was failing my husband, and mooching off him. I hate being unemployed. I worked my ass off since the day I was old enough, so to go from that to not working, and being not wanted by anywhere - including McDonalds - feeds my anxiety like nothing else. I hated feeling useless to the world, but my husband assured me it would be okay, and he made me feel and believe it as he always does. He calms me, anchors me, and shelters me through all my storms, it's like he has a super power!

One night, I woke up around midnight with this unsettled feeling in my stomach. I found myself running to the toilet and I had no idea what was happening. It had been a good decade since the last time I vomited, so it came as a pretty huge shock. Then I realised, it probably wasn't the fact I had eaten a whole box of nerds and had iced coffee for dinner, I was late. We were going to have a baby. The tests confirmed it and I panicked. I was so happy but so scared, we couldn't afford this, what would my parents think, how would we cope being alone here with no support? Then we found out we weren't having one baby, we were having two. I was inconsolable. Torn between being scared, and happy and then guilty for feeling happy knowing my parents would think me a fool. Then the cyclone struck, and my husband was gone from me all day and night during the clean up while I was too sick to even stand up. I was so angry inside because I heard his sargeant say he didn't care that I was sick or pregnant, and that my husband needed to get to work now. I wanted so badly to be able to go the full Lara Croft on that man and beat him within an inch of his life. I was not in a good place, and I was going to bring TWO little babies into it? How was this going to work?

Lady luck was on my side though, and I managed to win a great deal of money off Sunrise, which enabled us to buy the bigger car we were going to need. I was still plagued by a feeling of loneliness, but like all good generation Y girls, I turned to the internet for help, finding the baby forum BellyBelly. I felt less alone, and eventually connected with Bex, who was also an army wife, a mother, and who was moving to Townsville in August, along with many of her army wife friends and their partners. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. More stresses came upon us courtesy of the defence force, but we got there in the end. Bex arrived the weekend I went into hospital to have my girls, and shortly after we finally met in person at her housewarming shindig. I finally knew I had made a friend, and not just one, but many. The ladies and gents we met that night have come to be my family here, and without them I don't know where I would be today. I will be forever in Bex's debt for that. I also have been introduced to a greater network of defence ladies, and made great friends, such as Fiona, through that network. While the bullies from our early days here did come back to haunt me again, causing me to have to ostracise myself from many defence events and facebook social pages, I no longer feel alone.

I still struggle to ask for help, but my new friends being mostly a little older and a lot wiser than me, now notice if I'm off, and perhaps in a show of maturity on my part I don't feel afraid, or ashamed to tell them things that I wouldn't have even let myself hear in my own head before. I still get fits of rage because of the way the defence force treats me, my family, and my friends and their families, but I now have the tools and the support network to deal with it. I have a very structured life, and I have found activities and exercises that help me keep my anxiety and anger mostly under control.

Anxiety and other mental illnesses are diseases like no other. They show no obvious symptoms, and they can be hidden easily by skilled individuals. They are difficult, if not impossible to talk about, and often sufferers can be burned by trying to reach out by people who don't believe them. Society has for many years treated mental illness as something to be ashamed of, however it is not. It is just as crippling, and can be just as deadly as any virus, infection, or physical illness, and unlike many sicknesses there is no cure. Just a prescription for medication and rituals to control it, and a call for support and understanding from those around the sufferer.

If you know someone who suffers, or who may be suffering from a mental illness such as anxiety, manic depression, bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, depression, anorexia, bulimia, or substance/food abuse, don't be afraid to ask them if they are alright. Even if you just let them know that you are there for them, that you will listen, and you will not judge them or criticise them. Be open, approachable, and understanding. They may not come to you right away, but they will need time to work out their feelings towards asking for help, and admitting to someone they may need it. If they seek professional help, make sure you are consistent in your support with their carer's plans so that you can support them fully and in a productive and healthy way.

I hope that anyone who has read my story today and may be suffering from anxiety, grows to feel they are not alone. There is hope, there is help, and most of all there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Mental health week runs every year in October, this year from the 7th-14th. Check your local area for events and activities being run to help raise awareness for mental health issues, and get in and be a part of it. Doing so might even give a loved one the courage to come to you, and take the first steps into building their new life.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Recommended Reading: "Through Thick and Thin" by Gok Wan

I just finished reading Gok Wan's autobiography "Through Thick and Thin" and it was such an inspirational, moving, and hilarious read that I just had to share it with you all. For anyone who has struggled with body image, with being overweight, anorexic, or who just plain didn't know what to do with their life, this book is for you. 

It was fascinating to learn how an obese, gay, mixed-race, council estate kid came to be the man to help women all over the world learn to love themselves again. Gok has truly had an amazing life so far, and I could not have read this book at a better time. Not only am I struggling to decide what I really want to do with my life, but I suspect a friend of mine is about to embark on a very difficult journey to regain her health, and now I have an idea of how to help her, and how she might be feeling, and I feel ready and able to give her the support she needs.

If you are worried that maybe your child might be going through something difficult, maybe they are trying to come to terms with their sexuality, maybe you fear they might have an eating disorder, or just plain lack direction in life, I urge you to read this book to get a perspective of what their life might be like.

And if you are a kid who feels lost, shunned, or you just don't know how to deal, Gok's story is sure to lift your spirits and prove that no matter how humble the beginning, or how hard the road, you can still make something of yourself and have a wonderful and fulfilling life.

Through Thick and Thin is available via the Book Depository, along with Gok's other style and cooking books.

Monday, 1 October 2012

MEGA SUNDAY! The Sunday 20: Best and Worst from the 64th Emmy's Red Carpet

I LOVE awards show red carpets. If I cancel on you on a Monday morning in February, it's probably because I need to watch the Golden Globes or Academy Awards or some other red carpet special. Seriously! 

This year the 64th Annual Emmy Awards did not let me down, in fact, I have never had to work so hard to come up with a worst dressed list in my life. The overall theme that I loved about the Emmys this year was the sea of colour on the red carpet! This year stars said no to black, and yes to every colour under the sun, from neon lime, to deep burgundy, it was like looking at the telly through a kaleidoscope.

So, let's get this party started with my BEST DRESSED top 10 for the Emmys 2012

10) Ginnifer Goodwin throws back to the golden days of cinema in this amazing Monique Lhullier Resort 2013 gown. What I love about this is the cut on her body, it is perfection, the hem, the neckline, the belted waist, everything. Ginnifer is a juicy pear, so this style is perfect accentuating her tiny waist, hiding ample hips, and drawing attention away from her humble bust. This style should suit most but if you do have big ta-tas stay away from this neckline, instead opting to take it a little lower and show off the girls. I also love the shoes with this, they were actually clear on the sides which really updates the vintage style of the dress and gives it a modern touch. The colour of this on the telly was a red, but I think it may have actually been tangerine, and it looked to die for with her colouring, so bravo Ms Goodwin! 

9) Glenn Close looks amazing in this black and nude mermaid gown, with Fred Leighton jewels. If there are two women in the over 50's age group I go to for prefect red carpet glamour, it's Helen Mirren, and this lady. What is so perfect about this dress is how beautifully it flatters her curves, and hides areas that time may have not been so kind to, such as the upper arms and lower legs. The pattern created by the lace on the overlay is also wonderfully flattering, and edgy, solidifying Glenn's hold to the claim of the power matriarch of prime time drama. Another great trick here is the sleeve length. By ending the sleeve at the waist, it draws attention to the smallest part of her torso, slimming her instantly. This style would suit almost all shapes, in the right fabric and if tailored correctly. 

8) Kat Dennings is a knockout in J. Mendel, and I don't just mean it as in that would happen if her boobs made contact with your face. This is what I was talking about with the empire line. I am obsessed with this look, it is so effortless, and sophisticated, and cool that it just makes me squeal. The burgundy hue is perfect with Kat's colouring, and the bodice cradles her girls perfectly. As she said herself, "no matter what I do, they're there!" so there's no point in hiding them, and busty girls this is the way to do it. Sexy, effortless, chic. This style will suit all body types with the exception of those less blessed in the chest. 

7) Sofia Vergara did not disappoint in a stunning Zuhair Murad creation in dazzling turquoise. This gown perfectly plays up her famous curves and wonderfully compliments her beautiful latin complexion. Sometimes I think this woman can do no wrong, but when you look like that it's probably pretty easy to get it right! I also love the cheeky cut-out at the back but allegedly there was a wardrobe malfunction that exposed that famous tush! Also props for stepping out in a different cut for once instead of the same old shape we have been seeing the last few carpets.

6) Christina Hendricks shows hourglass and big busted girls everywhere how it is done in this Christian Siriano frock. Now it is not easy to dress boobs that big but she manages to do it with class and a whole lot of va-va-voom. The important thing when you are blessed with those beautiful bazongas, is to nip in the waist to make sure you keep your shape and this dress does it perfectly. The neutral champagne silver colour also works wonderfully with her beautiful red locks, and the red lip and minimal eye make-up screams 1950s glam and I love it. Curvy girls take note, it is easy to tip the scales from sexy to slutty with a frame like this, so keep your eyes on Ms Hendricks for style tips because she walks that fine line effortlessly. Another thing I love about this is that she looks 6 feet tall when she's actually only 5'3" like me, confidence and the right look can make all the difference!

5) Zooey Deschanel looks just like a princess in this custom Reem Acra gown. The blue compliments those gorgeous eyes perfectly, the shape is perfect, the hair, the amount of cleavage, the red lip, everything! Zooey commented that she wanted to look like a princess and she hit the nail right on the head! This look exudes femininity, charm, and grace. 

4) Padma Lakshmi stole everyone's eyes in a stunning creation by Monique Lhullier in tangerine. This colour perfeclty compliments her skin tone, and shows off her rocking body. She also does colour perfectly, remembering to let the colour do the work and keep the accessories to a minimum. Over accessorising in bold colours like this can make you look like a bright hot mess, but Padma has nailed it. 

3) Lucy Liu is ready to charge into fashion warfare in this metal - yes metal! - Versace frock. The design work and structure in this dress is just flawless, the lines, and shapes created by the placement of the mixed metals flatters Lucy's petite skittle frame amazingly. This would also look great on column shape girls, as well as bricks, and cornets, as it adds shape and curves where you don't have them. Once again here the styling is also A+ and she has kept the accessories to a minimum letting this dazzling dress do all the work. Even the hair here is kept sleek and simple so as not to take away from the dress. My favourite thing about this look is how it brings the sexy that Versace is so famous for, ramps it up with the metal to give it a modern edge, but still keeps it classy. It is easy to try to be edgy and sexy and end up looking like you've just taken the Courtney Love exit off the fashion M1!

2) Julie Bowen bought her A game big time stepping out in a lime Monique Lhullier that had everyone's heads turning. She channels her inner California girl, and for anyone who is wondering - this is how you do neon! We usually see Julie in black or dark colours so this is such a huge departure from her regular comfort zone, and to do it so well deserves serious kudos! The trumpet shape of this gown balances out her athletic cornet shape, and gives the illusion of curves. You guess it again, minimal accessories to go with the bold colour, and the only critique I can give is I wish the hair was pulled back better maybe into a messy pony, but really it's no biggie! And thank god she stepped up to the plate because an Emmy was in her stars Sunday night and she looked fabulous accepting it!

1) Julianne Hough stunned, shone, sparkled, possibly even levitated, in this one of a kind couture number by Georges Hobieka. This is the best she has ever looked, and I love the way she has taken old Hollywood and made it new. The silhouette, the hair, and the makeup here is all classic and timeless and very golden age of cinema, but the colour, the minimal accessories, and the textures, are very much 21st Century. This dress literally radiated happiness on film and all I can say is Ryan Seacrest is a very lucky man! Home run just absolute perfection. 

Honourable mentionsHeidi Klum, Ariel Winter, Guliana Rancic, Jim Parsons, Max Greenfield, January Jones, Leslie Mann, Tina Fey, Sarah Hyland, Emily Van Kamp, Kerry Washington, Melissa McCarthy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nicole Kidman, Jon Hamm, Aaron Paul, Brooke Burke, Michelle Fairley, and Jane Levy.

Okay, now the list you have really been hanging out for, the worst of the worst, the fasholes of the Emmys 2012. Like I said, it was actually really hard for me to come up with 10 bad looks this year which exites me so much for what we're going to see come February, but I promised 10! Lets see who needs to say their hail Mary's to atone for their red carpet fashion sins!

10) Emilia Clarke in Chanel Resort 2013. Now, this dress isn't actually bad in itself, but darling you are on this list because you could have done better. You are 25 years old! This is a dress I would expect from Ariel Winter, someone 10 years your junior. Not only that but you are 5'3" like me, this makes you look like a child because that skirt is wearing you. At the risk of sounding like your character's pervy brother, you have a woman's body so show it off! This ensemble is cute on you, I love the nude pump to elongate the leg where the skirt opens up, and it's theoretically sound enough, it's very hot this season, but I don't want any more of this playing it safe nonsense! 

9) Julianne Moore in Dior Couture. The 1900s called and told you to show a little skin woman! this is just too much yellow, too much fabric, just too much! The neckline is too high, the hair is boring and half-arsed, I can see your bra though the fabric, the skirt isn't flaring from the waist where it should, it's too low, and worst of all it makes you look older than you are! This wouldn't be half as bad if it had a lower neckline, or a black statement necklace to draw the neckline down, or you know, if you picked something completely different. No, no, no! However, well done on the make up and of course taking home the Emmy! 

8) Julianna Margulies in Giambatista Vali Couture. Did you skin your grandmother's couch, steal her curtains, and and make a dress out of them or something? This is awful! The silhouette is nice, but the fabric is just vomit worthy - and get your hands out of the pockets! I love a dress with pockets but for god's sake you're a grown woman and you're on the red carpet! This dress in this fabric is far to mature for you, give it back to great-gran!

7) Lena Dunham in Prada. Talk about going the whole granny! Lena you are a bigger girl, do not drown yourself in all of this bulky fabric! The sleeve is also ending at the widest part of your bust making your chest look far broader than it needs to, and the neckline could do with being a little lower. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if you have big boobs, or a broad chest do not swamp it all in fabric because it will make it look bigger! The waist is also way too high making it look like she has stilts on under there somewhere, and making her torso look cartoonishly short. The only redeeming thing about this dress is the colour...maybe...probably not. The makeup however, is amazing with those beautifully shaped eyes. 

6) Mayra Veronica in what I suspect to have actually come from a costume shop. This is how NOT to do old Hollywood! Once again big boobs smothered in fabric and an unflattering neckline - sweetheart, it's called the sweetheart neckline! Then there's the matter of the gloves...I have nothing to say about those apart from a look of disdain. It's all so matchy matchy and cliche and to be honest cheap looking! This needed to have a sweetheart neckline, and be a pencil skirt cut off just below the knee with a great pop of colour shoe and a soft, sultry, and wavy hairstyle - oh and NO GLOVES!

5) Lena Headey in Armani Prive. Lena, halloween is next month! My gosh Morticia! This is just...you have a wonderful body, beautiful hair, and yes I get it you have the whole goth chick thing going on, but please there is nothing flattering about this outfit! Possibly if you were to lose the bat cape and wear your hair loose maybe but and it's a very shaky maybe. On top of all of that, this dress is too old for you! Go give it to Shirley McClaine or Betty White! This is the perfect example of the kind of thing that works on the runway and nowhere else.

4) Ashley Judd in Carolina Herrera. This just screams prom cliche on steroids! The ridiculous hair, the taffeta, the weird brooch, the oversized bow at the back, and not to mention the lack lustre tailoring make this a big thumbs down, girl! The colour is very flattering on your skin tone but that is the only good thing about this dress! Take it back to the under $100 rack at the prom shop where it belongs!  

3) Portia de Rossi in the world's most hideous jumpsuit. Portia darling just because you're a super hot lesbian does not mean you have to wear pants! Ellen has that covered! This is just...it's almost like a bad 70s throwback! The trouser is too short, the shoes are wrong, the bra is crap, the sleeves are wrong, the pleating at the waist makes you look like you have a baby bump, and the hair is just...no! This makes you look years older, like maybe you may have remembered the 70s even! You are a gorgeous woman, this is so awful! No! No! No! 

2) Tawny Kitaen in the dress that needs to be killed with fire. I actually don't think there is anything to say here. Trashy, cheap, 80s-esque, awful! A blind man on a galloping horse would even vomit at the sight of this monstrosity! 

Now what could be worse than that you say? Drumroll please!

1) Christine Baranski in a dress that shows she has some serious lady balls. I just want to say I love that you had the guts to wear this and show off those hot pins, but it really is too young for you. Not to mention it gives you no shape because the tailoring is just appalling, the neckline is far too high, the sleeves are too long, and its just...not right! You should know better! It was also not really appropriate for the event, maybe for the kid's choice awards, or an MTV red carpet...or you know, karaoke at home. Christine I love you but please, no more mutton dressed as poorly tailored, sequinned, lamb! 

Dishonourable mentionsKristen Wiig, Matthew Perry, Jenna Malone,  Amy Poehler, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth Moss, Jessica Lange, Kate Mara, Zosia Mamet, and Kaley Cuoco

So there you have it! My take on the 64th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards fashion, I hope you all enjoyed it. Let me know what you think, do you agree, disagree, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Next week for the Sunday 10: my top 10 favourite wardrobe must haves