Tag Archives: Community

C is for Community

04 Nov 15
, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Join me on a journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Throughout November we will be exploring each category of the A-Z guide to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Today we’re looking at C… Community.

This guide has been written from the point of view of someone living with chronic illness but the topics and concepts discussed are relevant to everyone and anyone.

C is for Community

As we move forward on this journey to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life it’s important to have a community around us. The people we share our lives with can have a major impact with how we live our lives.

An ideal community is made up of several groups of people that should include:

  • People in the same situation as yourself. For those of you with chronic illness, this would be other people who have chronic illness. For those of you don’t have a chronic illness but who are seeking a simple, sustainable and meaningful life this would be other people who are also on this journey and around the same stage as you.
  • People who have done what you want to do. These are the people who are already living the life you want to live. They can provide inspiration and support for you as you move forward on your journey.
  • People who love and support you no matter what. These are the people in your life who are there for you no matter what. They may not necessary agree with what you’re wanting to do. They may not join you on the journey either, but they should be willing to listen to you and talk things through with you.
  • People who are wanting to be where you are but aren’t there yet. This is where you get to give back to the community. Like the help and support you’ve received from those who have done what you want to do, you can guide and support others to get to where you are now.

Where do you find these people?

So you know where you want to go and the type of people you need with you to get there but how do you find them?

I’ll use my journey so far as an example of the different ways you can find and continue to build your own community.

In the beginning, my community was comprised of my immediate family; my parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties, uncles and cousins. This community helped to shape my initial ideals and values. I grew up loving being outdoors and spending time at the zoo. From a very young age I had chronic illness in the form of asthma and allergies.

As I grew up, my community extended to include friends I met through school, university and work. As the activities I did became more focused on things that I valued, the people I met were more likely to share my values and opinions. I began to meet people who were on the same sustainability journey.

Although many of my friends were on the same journey, we were all at different points in that journey and by sharing our stories and activities we were (and still are) able to support and inspire each other.

Since chronic illness became a larger part of my life, in the form of Fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, my community has extended further to include other people with chronic illness, medical professionals, and advocacy groups. This extended community has mainly been formed online as a result of my blogging, Facebook and Twitter.

My community, online and in real life, provides me with support, inspiration and encouragement as I move forward on my journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life with chronic illness. Without this community I wouldn’t have the strength to get through all the mental stress and physical pain I deal with on a daily basis.

This community helps me to focus on the positives, to continue to move forward on this journey even when it feels too difficult.

Building a community that inspires, empowers and supports you is something that you have to always work on. You need to be open to inviting new people into your life and to letting go of people who are a negative influence on your life.

I’m not saying to remove everyone who doesn’t agree with you but to consider if their impact is detrimental to your health and your wellbeing. Yes, get away from people who are violent or who encourage you to self harm in any way but don’t get away from everyone who disagrees with you. Take the time to talk. It’s sometimes good to take the time to talk things through and consider the alternative points of view.

I may be on a different path to many of the others in my life, including my husband, but I know I have their support. They may not completely understand my values, but they accept me for who I am. At times, they may get frustrated at me when we don’t see eye to eye, but we always get through it with discussion and with compromise.

Do you have a good community around you to support, inspire and empower you?

Are there any other people you would add to an ideal community?

turning thirty

Turning Thirty: Reflections, Visions, Plans

11 Jun 15
, , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

I turned 30 last weekend.

Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Twitter would be aware that my husband’s 30th was only a few weeks earlier. We decided to do a joint party on my birthday (it was Saturday) and invited friends and family to join us. We had an amazing day with close to 50 people joining us to celebrate.

I put a lot of effort into planning the party so that it would be aligned with my values and life goals.  By that I mean that I attempted to plan the party to be as close to zero waste as possible, and to be focused mainly on spending time with family and friends.

I created a large stack of cloth napkins which did get used, however when the cake was cut paper napkins were still used to distribute it.
cloth napkinsThe napkins I made were from leftover material in my sewing collection, mainly the scrappy bits too small for anything else.

Most of the food was homemade finger food with cocktail pies, pasties and sausage rolls purchased from the local bakery to supplement the food supply.

Reusable and compostable We used as many reusable items as possible and what wasn’t reusable I aimed to make compostable (cornstarch cups, bamboo plates, paper straws).

Although I did my best to pace myself in the days leading up to and the day of the party, it was still a much busier week than I would normally have and I have spent the last few days recovering. I’m starting to feel better now (Wednesday – 4 days after the party) but pain levels and fatigue levels have both been rather high the last few days.

Before I go further with this post, I just want to apologise for the large gap between posts lately. Both Janelle and I have been very busy working to put together the Back to Basics Workshop which will be starting in the next few weeks (You can still join if you’re interested).

Turning Thirty: Reflections

Large life changes are always times to reflect on where you have come from and consider where you want to go moving forward. Turning 30 is one of those times.

Looking back over my life I have always had pretty clear ideas of where I though I would be by the time I turned 30. Although some of these things have come true, my life is nothing like what I had imagined (as you’d expect).

My childhood and teens were spent making friends, spending time outside and getting to know the world around me. As I moved into my 20’s it became more about getting to know myself and becoming clearer about where I wanted to head.

During my 20’s I married my long term boyfriend, we bought our first house together and moved in, and got our own pets.

Early 20’s were focused on finishing study and starting my career as well as focusing on my health by exercising regularly at the gym.

Late 20’s my vision of myself, my career, and my health all changed when chronic pain and fatigue became a part of my life. My goals had to change to fit into my new reality. I could no longer be the ‘gym junkie’, the active outdoors person I was before…

Turning Thirty: Visions

Although part of my vision has stayed the same, I still want a family and to work in community engagement and sustainability,  most of it has now been modified.

How do I see my 30’s going?

I will have a family (biological or adopted) and will be working in community engagement and sustainability field by consulting and providing services through this site.

I will find balance between work, social, and me time. This will include time for meditation and rest and some form of exercise (at this point walking and very basic yoga).

By finding balance and pacing well, I will recover to a point where I can enjoy travelling with my husband and family.

Our life will be as simple, sustainable and meaningful as possible.

Turning Thirty: The Plan

To make my vision come true I will need a plan. The plan is to answer the following questions:

What would make my/our life meaningful?

I’ve already begun answering this question by completing the 100 Goal Challenge last year, but through participating in our Back to Basics Workshop I’m going to review those goals and reassess what is meaningful to me.

I will also have discussions with my husband about what is meaningful to him so that we can make our future plans together.

How can I simplify my life?

A simple lifestyle is key to living well especially with chronic illness. By identifying areas in my life that I can simplify I should create more room to do the things that I meaningful.

Steps I’m already taking towards this are:

  • Hiring a cleaner. Over the past few months I had been doing the cleaning myself again. To begin with I managed to keep up and do a good job, but I’ve found that as I’ve begun adding other meaningful activities into my life (like work), I no longer have the energy to do the cleaning as well. For the cost of $75 a fortnight it is worth having someone come in and clean for us.
  • Simplifying my wardrobe. I’m finally getting to a point where I’m happy with my wardrobe. Through my decluttering efforts I’ve removed over half the items in my wardrobe that were not comfortable, didn’t suit my lifestyle, or were worn out and stained. My next post I’m going to share in detail what is left in my wardrobe.

How can we be more sustainable?

Because sustainability is one of my key values, this is a question that I’m constantly asking myself. I’m attempting to move us from single use and disposable items towards ones that can be reused over and over. Buying quality items that last (instead of large quantities of items) is also key to aiming for a more sustainable house.

This area is one that causes a bit of tension in our house though as my husband doesn’t necessarily understand my strong focus on this value. I’m not saying he doesn’t believe we should do our part to help the environment, it’s just that he thinks I take things too far a lot of the time. For example, he rolls his eyes each week when I take out my keep cup to use when we get takeaway drinks, and he doesn’t feel comfortable using my cloth bags for vegetables or asking the butcher and baker to use my containers (instead of plastic bags).

Another part of being sustainable is to be financially secure/independent/whatever term you’d like to use. This is something that I’m spending a lot of time researching at the moment. Security is one of my husband’s biggest values and so making sure we have enough money to live the lifestyle we want to and achieve our goals is very important to us.

Financially speaking we want to make sure we have enough saved for retirement (so we don’t have to rely on a pension that may not be around), we want to be able to travel and buy nice things when we want to (we have a large lego collection, good quality camera and camping gear, and my husband maintains his bikes), and we want to be debt free.

In general we are doing well in this area (our mortgage is our only debt) but, given I’m pretty much not working at the moment (I don’t bring in any regular salary), I’m not having money put into Super for me and we basically have to live off my husband’s salary. To me setting ourselves a financial plan for the next 2-5 years and belong is a key step to achieving our goal to live a simple, sustainable and meaningful life.

Next week I’ll be sharing my simple, sustainable, and (almost) minimal wardrobe with you.

Do you have a clear vision for the future and a plan to get there?

Have you got a financial plan in place to help you achieve your goals?



Workshop Opportunity – Back to Basics

29 Apr 15
, , , , , , , , ,
one comments

Are you looking for a simple, sustainable & meaningful life?

We’ve taken the plunge, and are planning to share our journey with you and help you start your own journey via a 6-week online workshop.

The workshop will cover the following topics:

  • What makes life meaningful for us?
  • Identifying our values, passions, and life goals
  • What does it mean to be sustainable?
  • Are our current lifestyles sustainable?
  • Developing an action plan towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life.

What do we get?

This 6-week workshop will begin 1 June 2015 and will consist of regular emails with guiding questions and activities and group discussions via Facebook.

At this stage we are also planning to run at least one webinar during the 6-week period.

Everything will be available for you to access in your own time, and you will have lifetime access to the LiveKen Community via our closed Facebook Page.

How much is the workshop?

The workshop costs a minimal AUD$25  AUD$19.95** and you can sign up using the link below.

** We’ve reduced the cost to make the course more accessible for you.**

Once you’re payment has been received, you’ll be sent a link to access the Facebook page and you can introduce yourself to the other participants before the workshop commences on 1 June 2015. mid-June.************We’re working extra hard to make the course contents as exciting and useful as possible. As a result we’re postponing the start until mid-June. This gives you another few weeks to sign up for the workshop*****

I look forward to sharing this journey with you and hope to see many of you online in June.


HEALTH – a simple, sustainable, meaningful lifestyle

27 Apr 15
, , , , , , ,
No Comments

HEALTH – an acronym and guide for living your own simple, sustainable and meaningful life

Hopes and Dreams – Just because you’re not as healthy as you once were, doesn’t mean you need to roll over and forget about everything you ever wanted to do in you life. You are still you, and with a bit of support and modification it’s still possible to live a meaningful life in which you can fulfill your hopes and dreams.

Exploration – You have passions and values that feed into your hopes and dreams. By exploring what your values are and what you’re passionate about you can discover ways to create your own simple, sustainable and meaningful life. One of the best ways I’ve found to identify your passions and values is to participate in the 100 Goal Challenge. Through this process I was able to identify that family, making a difference, and living sustainably are the highest things that I value in my life. This fits well with my dreams to start a family and run my own business helping others live simple, sustainable and meaningful lives.

Action – Once you’ve identified your hopes and dreams, and explored your passions and values the next step is to take action. Decide on one small step you can take today to move yourself one step closer to the life you want to live. My first steps included setting up this blog, fundraising through Kickstarter to publish the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang picture book (happening later this year), and networking to find opportunities to help others.

Listen – Your body knows what it is capable of. Make sure you pay attention to changes in symptoms and pace yourself accordingly. Although I’d love to do everything I want as soon as I want, my health dictates that I can’t. By making sure I rest when I need to I’m able to do more in the long run as I’m less likely to crash.

Talk to others – Having a network to support you is important if you actually want to live your own simple, sustainable and meaningful life. The best way to create that network is to talk to others. Share your ideas, form partnerships and build a community around you. I do this through social media and this blog, talking with neighbours, friends and family, and identifying relevant workshops and conferences to attend when I’m well enough.

Highlights and Reflections – As we move through the process, it’s important to take time to identify the highlights, reflect on where you have come from and where you are going. People do change over time so it’s important to make sure that the path you’ve set yourself on is still the right one for you. By doing this regularly you can make changes as you need to so that you can maintain a simple, sustainable and meaningful (to you) lifestyle.

I’ve been following this guide for the last 12 months and I believe it has put me on a path to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life despite the problems living with chronic illness throws at me. This is not a be all and end all guide but a broad overview of things that need to be considered.

Have you focused on your H.E.A.L.T.H.?

What steps have you taken towards your own simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyle?

I must apologise for falling off the band wagon with the HAWMC posts. I’m still working out how to pace myself with the new casual work.


stress managment

Stress Awareness Month and Travel with chronic illness

20 Apr 15
, , , , , ,
No Comments

I missed yesterday’s #HAWMC post on Stress Awareness so I’m combining it with today’s topic… Travel.

Managing stress is a vital part of learning to live with chronic illness. Especially with conditions like Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) which can be exacerbated by stress. Even for a healthy person stress can have a negative impact on your life.

So how do we deal with stress?

When I was healthy I used to deal with stress by exercising… a lot! I would go to the gym most week days and work out hard for at least 30 minutes and walked everywhere I could.

My husband reduces his stress levels by riding his bike.

Exercise has been proven to act as a natural stress reliever.  The endorphins released by our bodies when we exercise make us feel good and relax.

But what if we can’t exercise? Or at least have limited ability to?

As I’ve mentioned previously, my exercise routine is no where near as extensive as it used to be so I’ve had to discover new ways to minimise and manage stress.

I still walk when I can (although this is no where near as often as I like), and I still do some yoga each day. This alone is not enough to keep my stress levels at a manageable level.

These days, I’m more likely to manage my stress levels by stepping back and finding a way to relax. I have hot baths, meditate, and generally avoid situations I know will be too stressful for me.

When considering stressful situations I take into account the physical, mental and emotional impact a situation could have. I have to avoid and minimise extremes in any of these aspects of life in order to maintain my health. I do this through pacing.

Travel and Stress Management

Travel is one area of my life that has had to completely change since the ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. When I first fell ill, we had been planning an African safari for the next year. That obviously hasn’t happened and probably will not happen any time in the foreseeable future.

Although I’d love to go see the African wildlife and have a wonderful adventure with my husband, I know that the holiday we had planned would be too stressful for me. There would be the physical stress from actually travelling to the destination and the many activities we had planned that required walking and hiking. There is the emotional stress of becoming overexcited by the prospect of the adventure and the mental stress of planning the trip and making sure everything is planned properly.

Instead of big adventures like this, our current trips tend to be shorter and closer to home. We’ve done a couple of trips to bed and breakfast accommodation within an hours drive of home, and others (sometimes as short as over night) where we’ve driven somewhere and camped for a few nights.

These smaller holidays are more relaxed as we don’t plan out the details in advance. Because we don’t have to travel so far the stress of physically getting to the location is less, so I need less time to recover before I can participate in actual holiday activities. With these types of holidays we can decide what to do on a day to day basis based on how I’m feeling. We make sure we have activities we can do that are less taxing on my system, like audio books to listen to. We also allow for periods of rest between any larger activities and if there’s something that my husband would like to do that is just too much of a physical stress for me, we find a way for him to do it while I do something else.

The key to stress management for me is to pace myself and to allow for flexibility. This helps in every day life as well as in situations that may be out of the ordinary like travel or large social events.

What’s your key stress management tool?

I feel best

I feel best when… My Manifesto

14 Apr 15
, , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

When you live every day with chronic pain and fatigue it can sometimes be difficult to remember what it’s like to feel good, to feel ‘normal’. It’s important though to not focus just on your symptoms but to find at least something each and every day to be grateful for. Something that will make you feel as good as you possibly can given everything you’re living with.

I feel best when…

I feel best when I’m making a difference. When I’m able to find a way in which I can contribute something of meaning to the community. I currently do this by sharing my stories here on the blog and through other social media outlets. By sharing I hope to help others to live simple, sustainable and meaningful lives of their own.

I feel best when I’m able to pace myself well. At the moment that means:

  • only working 1-2 hours a day, up to 4 days a week
  • finding time each day to do some stretches and yoga
  • maintaining a step count of around 5,000 steps a day
  • ensuring I get adequate rest throughout the day

I feel best when I’m adequately hydrated. Remembering to drink enough water can be difficult when I’m at my most foggy, but I try hard to remember.

I feel best when I eat a balanced diet. Eating enough nutritious fruit, veg, nuts and meat, mainly eating home cooked meals with fresh produce and avoiding alcohol, dairy and gluten all help to keep me healthy.

I feel best when I have a project to work on that I’m passionate about. At the moment, my passion project is to try and build the sense of community on my street. Although I feel connected to my wider community online, I feel like I don’t really know my neighbours that well.

I feel best when I’m part of a connected community that supports one another and works together towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyle.

I feel best when I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family.


Rest – Could you take a whole day off?

13 Apr 15
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
No Comments

Yesterday I took the day off. Not only did I not allow myself to do any work, I attempted to completely avoid technology as well. As you’ll see below I wasn’t quite successful in this second quest but the day was still worth it.

Why take a whole day off?

It seems counterproductive when you’re really busy and have a lot to do to just stop and do nothing for a whole day but in reality it’s anything but that. When you don’t take the time to rest and switch off your productivity drops dramatically. Although you may always be doing something it can take you longer to do it and the quality of the work you produce may not be to your best standards if you are stressed and attempting to multitask too much.

By taking a day off to allow your batteries to recharge, you come back to the work with a clear head and focused on what you want to achieve. I find after taking a break I also tend to come back with a renewed passion and interest in whatever it was I’m trying to get done.

Another benefit of taking a day off, is it allows you to reflect on what you do and identify things that you do that are actually not being helpful and could be counterproductive. For example, I tend to crash out in front of the TV or browsing the internet when my brain fog sets in. If I actually take a rest instead I can return to my productive work quicker and with a clearer head.

A sample day of rest

As I mentioned above, and on social media yesterday, I took the day off and avoided technology to focus on rest and recovery.

What did my day look like?

6:30 AM – The cats woke me up

My husband is away this week, finishing a cycling tour of the Mawson Trail so the cats woke me instead to feed them. I managed to ignore them and get back to sleep for a while though.

7:20 AM – Up and feed the animals (cats and fish) followed by a 10 minute rest

7:30 AM – Breakfast

I made a container of coconut rice the day before so had some of that with fruit and honey for breakfast.

8:00 AM – Bath with a book (Seven Little Australians)

Due to pain levels on cold days I tend to spend a lot of my time in the bath. Yesterday was one of those days.

8:30 AM – 20 minute rest

8:50 AM – Snack

Because I was up so early, my energy levels were low so I had a few snacks throughout the day.

9:00 AM – 20 minute walk

This was a short but very slow walk around the block. Just because it was a day for rest didn’t mean it was OK for me to avoid all exercise. In order to manage my pain and fatigue levels I have to maintain a certain level of activity. In my normal daily life I currently don’t do any specific walks like this because I get my target step count or higher just doing tasks around the house. However, as I wasn’t doing housework I would not have met my target without a designated walk.

9:20 AM – Pot of tea and Journal

When I’m managing well I try to write in my journal daily, however life can get in the way. I hadn’t written in my journal since January so I spent some time reflecting over the changes that have occurred in the last few months.

9:50 AM – 20 minute rest

10:15 AM – Back in the bath with my book

As I said above, when the weather is cold and my pain levels high I tend to spend a lot of time in the bath. I don’t run a completely new bath though, just top up the water to make it warm again.

At this stage I actually finished my book.

12:00 PM – Lunch

For lunch I had left over pizza (gluten and dairy free) from dinner with friends the night before. At this point I did go on my phone for a little while just to get an update from my husband as to how their trip was going.

12:50 PM – 40 minute rest

This was my big rest for the day. On any day I tend to crash in the afternoon. I normally try to hold our until at least 1 pm, usually 2 – 3 pm then put the TV on and crash on the couch.

1:30 PM – Woke up and Snack

1:50 PM – Yoga

As well as my step count I do daily yoga stretches to reduce pain levels. This is mainly the pelvic stretches discussed in my routines post last week.

2:05 PM – Hot Chocolate and a book (Kitchen Table Sustainability)

This book could technically count as doing work, as the information is useful for the development of my ideas, but it is a book I’ve been trying to read for a while and as I’d finished my fiction book I decided to read some of this one instead of starting another new book.

3:15 PM – Clean Kitchen

I know it was meant to be a complete day of rest but I had come back the day before from a night away and had bags of food and cooking appliances that had been used while we were away. To be able to make dinner I had to clear the bench space so I washed the dishes and put away the food.

By this stage I was really struggling with just wanting to crash on the couch with the TV on. I had made myself a promise to have a technology free day so I held out on myself.

3:45 PM – Visit a Neighbour

As I was struggling with a desire to crash on the couch and just rest, I decided a day off was a good opportunity to begin to foster better relationships with my neighbours. I really want to feel like I’m part of a strong knit community but in the 7+ years we’ve been in our house I only know a few of the neighbours to the extent of waving hello.

Recently a friend’s parents moved in 2 houses up from us so I decided to visit them yesterday and introduce myself properly.

I spent 2 hours at their house having a cup of tea and a chat. I found out that my friend’s mother has fibromyalgia as well so it was great to chat to her about what she does to manage her symptoms.

** Confession time: The TV was on in the background while I was there.

6:00 PM – Dinner

I threw a few vegetables (onion, baby spinach, mushroom, capsicum, chilli and garlic)  in a pan to saute and gluten free gnocchi in a pot.

6:30 PM – Bath and book

By this stage I really just wanted to collapse in front of the TV or go to bed. I decided it was too early for bed and I was still attempting to avoid TV so I made myself read a bit more of my book in the bath. I found myself struggling to read though so I wasn’t in there very long.

7:00 PM – Attempt to go to bed

I was exhausted and thought I would fall straight to sleep but as usual I just couldn’t get comfy.

7:10 PM – TV ON!!!

After attempting to get to sleep for 10 minutes I realised it just wasn’t going to happen. Not only was it a little early but my husband wasn’t home. Normally when he’s not home I have the TV on for noise in the background when I attempt to fall asleep. I gave in and put it on.

I also ended up taking a sleeping tablet as I didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 1 AM.

As you can see, even a rest day can be busy. The idea though is to do activities that recharge your batteries, not ones that drain them further.

Although I didn’t quite manage the whole day technology free, limiting my exposure to technology did maintain my energy levels slightly higher than on a normal day filled with the internet, tv and phone.

Yesterday was the first day in many, many months that could be classified as an OK day for me (not bad or crash) so obviously I need to do this type of thing more often.

What do you do to rest?

Do you ever take a whole day to just relax and do nothing?


Happiness – Enough and random acts of kindness

03 Apr 15
, , , , , , ,

As those of you who follow us on social media would be aware, I’m participating in WEGO Health‘s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.

Here at LiveKen we are on a journey to discover what a simple, sustainable and meaningful life is for us.  On this journey we have discovered that recognising that we are enough and we have enough is one of the key steps towards being happy with your life.

Yesterday’s prompt for the challenge was to answer the question

What is the key to happiness?

My key to happiness is to be grateful for what I have. To recognise that Enough is all that is needed to be happy with life. I may have several chronic illnesses which impact on my ability to live what is considered a normal life, but I have enough health to do the things which matter the most to me. I have enough health to spend time with my family and friends, to read a good book, write this blog, and make a contribution to the world. I am enough just the way I am.

Today’s prompt for the challenge is

Random Acts of Kindness

To me, these two prompts are linked. The random acts of kindness I observe and participate day to day are the things that remind me of the fact that I am, and have, enough.

When I do a random act of kindness, whether that is to make a meal for someone I love or give someone a big hug, I feel that I am making someone else’s life better. I am enough as I am to make a difference.

When I am the recipient of a random act of kindness, I am reminded that I have enough people who love and care for me to make my life special.

For example, the other week we were at a friends house for drinks. The host had made lasagna for dinner. 2 large ones full of dairy and gluten. We had only RSVP’d that day, as I’m usually unable to be sure of whether I can commit until the last moment, and I can’t eat dairy or gluten. Even though we RSVP’d so late, they went to a lot of effort making me a separate, smaller heart shaped lasagna with gluten free pasta sheets and a potato topping instead of the cheese sauce.

I am so grateful that they had made such a special effort to make sure I had enough to eat. In fact, the special heart shaped lasagna was so big I could only eat half, and shared the rest with others around the table.

To me, the key to happiness is being grateful for what you do have. It is recognising that you are, and you have, enough and celebrating every achievement no matter how small.

Random Acts of Kindness act as a reminder of how important it is to be a part of a community and to contribute to that community to help everyone find their key to happiness.

What is your key to happiness?

Have you been a recipient of a random act of kindness?

Are you ready to join me on an exciting adventure?

10 Jun 14
, , , , ,
No Comments

LiveKen IntroductionSince completing my list of 100 Life Goals and identifying my driving emotions I have begun working on some exciting new projects which will help me live a life in line with my beliefs, values and passions.

I believe it is possible for us to live in a world where people respect their own bodies, the people around them and the environment in which they live. For this to come true, I believe we need to work together to gain the understanding and knowledge necessary to inspire and empower ourselves and those around us.

This belief was further fueled this week when I was privileged to be able to hear Dr Jane Goodall speaking live in my home town. She outlined her successes in a way that was humble and that recognised the input from so many other people to help her get to where she is today. She made it clear that she believed that if everyone played their small part and did whatever small action they could to turn a ‘black’ (unsustainable/damaged) area near them into a ‘green’ (or whatever colour you prefer) area then together, as a collective, we can make a difference and change the way people view the world. By working individually and in a team, we can change the world.

Top 5 things I learnt from Dr Jane Goodall’s presentation

  1. There is always a window of hope. We just need to be aware it’s there and do what we can to nurture it and help it grow.
  2. By making small changes, together we can make a difference. As I mentioned above, a key message that Jane put across was that we need to look small so we don’t get overwhelmed by the larger picture and all the negativity there is about how the world is at the moment.
  3. When developing new products/services always listen to the community and provide what they’re asking for first. When she first noticed the plight of the Chimpanzees, she also noted the plight of the local people in surrounding villages. To help the Chimpanzees, Jane first listened to the people in the villages and began by helping them with basic needs like more food.
  4. Start with awareness, but make sure it leads to behaviour change. Increasing people’s understanding of an issue is only going to help if these people can also make changes that fix the issue. Make sure that any awareness programs are linked to achievable action plans that lead to behaviour change.
  5. With the right support and encouragement, anything is possible. Ever since she was 10 years old in war time England, Jane dreamed of living in Africa and writing books about the animals. This was in a time when it was thought to be impossible, especially for a young woman, and most people discouraged her and thought her dreams were crazy. Her mother though supported her and provided her with the sage advice that “if you really want to do something, make sure you are prepared to get there and take every opportunity you can to make it happen“. This is exactly what Jane did, and she was able to fulfill her childhood dreams.

How I’m going to use that advice, and how you can too

As is evident from this blog, before Dr Goodall’s talk I was already dreaming and planning out ways in which I could work with others in the Spoonie (Chronic Illness) community to help others in a similar situation to where I was. The Foggy Frog picture book was the first incarnation of me attempting to actually take action on these dreams and plans.

What may not be so obvious from this blog, mainly because I’ve been too ill to even consider my previous dreams until now, is that I’ve also had a long-held dream to deliver awareness and behaviour change programs related to sustainability (for school groups, community groups, and corporate groups). I have for the last 6 years said that my life long dream is to obtain a block of land from which I could run hands-on conservation and sustainability workshops and school camps or corporate retreats.

Although I may have to modify that second dream slightly to accomodate the fact that I don’t have as much energy or stamina (without increasing pain) as I used to, I have begun the process of attempting to combine these two dreams.

I have shared some ideas recently with people I trust and I’m close to, and together with two friends (one old and one new) I have begun the process to take that next step that will help us take the Foggy Frog campaign and our shared dreams and passions to the next level.

What is this new opportunity?

I’m excited to introduce to you:

LiveKen Logo

We are going to be completely open and transparent about what we are doing and so, even before our products are ready to launch, we are working on getting our website live in the next week so that you can all join along with us for the journey, through blog posts and (if you want to) through joining our creative team of volunteers donating time, skills and expertise to helping us reach our goal.

What do we plan on doing?

At LiveKen, we want to work with you to gain the knowledge, understanding, awareness and support necessary to achieve a fulfilling, sustainable lifestyle where you have a positive impact on your health, the people around you, and the planet we live on.

We are business working with the community for the community.

All of our products have been, and will be, developed through an open and transparent method that (like with the Foggy Frog picture book) allows the community to be involved from the very beginning of development so that the products and services fit their needs.

Why do are we doing it?

A strong passion for sustainable living and community engagement, combined with a deep understanding and awareness of the issues faced by those of us with invisible chronic illnesses.

Without knowing how and why we should act, we won’t.

We believe that people should have the understanding and awareness to make their own decisions about life, and we want to help them get there.

How can you get involved?

If you are passionate about raising awareness and understanding of, and helping people take action about, chronic illness or sustainability I invite you to join us and become part of the volunteer/community network that supports LiveKen in achieving our goals.

If you’re interested in being kept up to date, sign up to the Foggy Frog Newsletter (soon to get a name change as the Foggy Frog campaign will be migrating to LiveKen).

Mental Monday: Aspiration, Inspiration and Achievement

07 Apr 14
, , , , , , ,
No Comments


We made it!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Kickstarter Campaign, either through donations or through spreading the word and sharing the project with everyone they know. Because of all of you we have successfully raised the $7,500 we need to publish and distribute the first run of picture books!

After a week offline spending time with E and going camping, I am now back and ready to provide some informative and inquisitive posts over the next few weeks.

Some time soon (I’m hoping later this week) I will dedicate a post to sharing some of the behind the scenes stats I have from the campaign and outlining what the next steps are and where we are going.

Today though I want to talk about a topic which has been on my mind a lot lately…

(c) Megan S, December 2013

(c) Megan S, December 2013

What makes someone an inspiration?

Lately, with this Kickstarter campaign and just with the way I’ve been dealing with my illness, I have had a lot of people telling me I have inspired them to do things differently or just that I’m an inspiration to them. This makes me feel uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that what I’m doing is helping others and making a difference! I just don’t feel comfortable thinking of myself as an inspiration. I still feel like I’m just aspiring to be who I want to be…

I would love to make a huge difference and help make this world a better place, both in terms of sustainability and the way humans treat one another, but I feel like I’m still learning and making things up a lot as I go along.

Maybe this is something that everyone struggles with.

The way I view myself and what I am doing seems to be different to the way others are viewing me. Being told that I have inspired others with the same illnesses as me to change the way they think about their life and to take on a project to help them have something to focus on is wonderful. It feels nice to know that I’ve helped that other person to make a difference in their own lives but it feels strange to think that others are looking to me for guidance.

People who have inspired me probably feel the same way. They come from all very different walks of lives. Some are famous and others are in the background, unrecognised.

I’m sure we all believe that we are just doing what we need to do. Most of us are not looking for fame and glory or any form of recognition other than a thank you or an encouraging comment. We feel ‘normal’ and ‘insignificant’ even, but others in our lives may view us as ‘heros’ or inspirations’ who demonstrate the behaviours and values that they want to be able to do.

Recognition and Achievement

I’ll admit that even I am surprised and overwhelmed by what I have managed to achieve in the last few months, but I still struggle with accepting recognition for these accomplishments. Everything I have achieved in my life has been possible because I have had support, I have had others helping me in achieving my dreams. I am very humbled by the support and encouragement I have been recieving.

Over the past 3 years (2012, 2013, and 2014) I have recieved recognition for my environmental work in the form of a nomination for the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards – Flinders Port Environment Category. Each year I have been in the Top 3 Finalists for the award. I may not have won the actual award in any year, but to be nominated (or asked to nominate myself, as was the case this year) is an honour and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be recognised publicly for my work in this field.

On our way to the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards Dinner 2014.

On our way to the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards Dinner 2014.

Similarly, I am grateful and extremely humbled by the recognition and support I have recieved for the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang campaign.

Thank you!

Without each and every one of you none of these achievements would have been possible. I may be an inspiration to others but my inspiration comes from the community spirit I see in the groups I have joined and in the friendships I have formed through this blog and my work.

Who inspires you?

What do you believe makes someone an inspiration?