Sparkles

As many of you know, my family and I have been fostering  rescue cats through  North Queensland Animal Rescue  for a little while now.

All up, we have fostered a total of 10 cats now, and it has been a truly rewarding experience for our entire family.

It is also very ironic that before fostering cats, I had never ever owned one, to be honest, I actually thought cats hated me!

February this year one of our foster cats was delivered to us.

She had been found wandering the streets, and once more research had been done, we realized that she had been missing for 6 weeks, being fed by lovely people in a nearby old peoples home.

She shot out of her cat carrier the moment she arrived,  running to hide in the darkness under Kiara’s bed. Whenever anyone came near, she would howl in fear and visibly shake. There was even a very cranky hiss to be heard at times.

Though I wasn’t ever scared of her, I could tell the poor thing was just so frightened.

It was our daughters turn to name a cat, so she choose “Sparkles”

Hiding in our bathtub

Hiding in our bathtub

It took forever to gain her trust, and still for weeks she would hide away.

That serious look never left her face.

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Then slowly she got a bit more used to us, allowing an occasional pat, but any sharp movements would have her sprinting off scared.

I did all I could to show her I could be trusted, and to help her feel safe.

I made sure she had easily accessible hiding spots, and I would talk to her in a soft soothing voice.

Slowly, we got there, though some days I felt it was one step forward, two steps back.

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She started to come out of hiding more often, however, whenever someone other than family came over, she could not be found again.

I also was afraid to admit, but I was falling in love, and hard.

A few people showed interest in Sparkles, but the moment they would come, she would run off again, sometimes just crying loudly from her spot, and being visibly shaken for hours to come.

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In July, Jamie made the executive decision and suggested we adopt Sparkles, neither of us could see her easily transferring to yet another new home when it had taken 5 months of hard work for us to gain her trust.

For a while I really thought her name did not suit her, many people would say

“Sparkles is not really very “Sparkly” is she?”

Now I realize it suits her to a tee.

We were fortunate enough to watch an amazing transformation.

We were lucky enough to watch a scared little kitty turn into a lovely,trusting cat.

I think we got to witness the wonderful.

We got to witness Sparkles Shine.

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Then it was real!

We owned our first cat!

My Sparkles and I

My Sparkles and I

Jamie chuckles to himself quite often when Spakles runs after me in the house, or when she jumps on my lap as we watch tv, she has also taken to sleeping at my feet every night.

“To think you used to think cats hate you” he says

“That one is in love with you”

I proudly reply back

“And I am in love with her”

How can you not love a cat who makes a pile of laundry look glam?!

How can you not love a cat who makes a pile of laundry look glam?!

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A little broken

I believe that we are all a little bit broken, every single one of us.

We all have strength that we have gained through the most hardest of challenges or life experiences.

The only problem is that our cracks are  mostly invisable to those on the outside.

A majority of the time we all go about our daily business and the broken parts of our hearts, minds and souls do not hider us.

Other times they disable us in ways we cannot explain or make others understand.

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For those of you whom have followed my blog for a while, you will remember what a difficult and challenging year last year was for my family and I.

I tried to sit down in a brief break from office work the other day to articulate exactly what we all went through and where we are now.

It was going to be a post of celebration, of moving on and showing strength in times of trouble.

I wrote and rewrote the post three times.

Tears streamed down my face, memories came back to the surface, and in the end the whole situation just drained me more than I like to admit.

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The events of last year led me to having a mental meltdown and eventally being diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression.

The mere process of getting out of bed in the morning felt like the most challenging task.

I had anxiety attacks which  disabled me and frightened me more than I could ever imagine.

I was medicated, had therapy and forced myself to be much more gentle on me.

The  whole recovery process was much longer than I could have anticpated and in the mean time I was presented with other, annoying and disturbing health concerns.

Only now I realize that Anxiety and Depression are not anything you can ever say you have recovered from 100%, they share your life, even if just by being in the back of your mind, or you may have a bad day and think

“here we go again”

For a long time I would often find myself on a floor somewhere, collapsed from the pressure I was feeling inside, more than once this happened at work, where my husband was thankfully Manager at the time.

For a long time it hurt to smile.

Many friends and family shone like bright little stars of hope as they sent me messages of courage and hope and surrounded me with love.

Sadly the moment I was at my weakest also became a time others choose to use me as an emotional punching bag, dumping piles of hate on me.

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Just when I thought I was getting strong, the haters would get me down.

Slowly, over time, their words and venom did not cut me like they used to, they did not leave me paralysed, and I am proud of that.

Unfortunately, as with any trauma, the hurt does leave some scaring behind, and that really takes some time and kindness to heal.

A year on I am so much more stronger, and I am so happy about that.

I think I really wanted to write this post now to send out some love to anyone else going through a tough time, as I know there is a lot of you.

I want you to know that you are not alone.

I want you to lean on those who love you.

It is ok to vent, to talk, to say to others “I need help”, or “give me a moment please”.

I really want to make sure that you do not put yourself down throughout this.

Breaking down is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of being strong for far too long.

Remind yourself when those voices in your head tear you apart.

Remind yourself that you are one remarkable human being.

Be proud of who you are, and how far you have come, even if that is merely that today you smiled and your heart did not hurt in doing so.

I remember a little over a year ago, a lovely lady named Leigh posted a gorgeous quote on my Facebook page.

I have searched and searched the net, but cannot find the exact words, however it said something like this:

“One day you will get through this, and you will look back and be so proud of how far you have come.”

And I did get through the rocky parts, and life has thrown more things my way, but for the last year I constantly thought of that quote.

So today I send it out there for anyone else having a rough time.

You will get through this, it may seem hard right now.

But one day, you will look back and be so very proud of how far you have traveled.

Just promise me one thing please.

Be kind on yourself xoxo

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Kiki Koala

7 years ago life was full on with a little baby girl.

A little insomniac, colicky baby girl.

We named her Kiara, we had a few names to choose from, but when we uttered the name “Kiara” to her when she was freshly in our arms, she blinked.

To this day, and forever, we will tell her that she choose her name.

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On one of the many days that I was pacing the house attempting to calm my little screaming, overtired, upset girl, I found myself whispering “come on Kiki, it is all ok”

By the time my husband returned home, the name Kiki had stuck, and from that day forward, our little girl had a nickname.

Sometimes I found myself calling her “Kiki Koala”, after all, the cuddly Koala is  my all time favorite animal, and my little Kiki sure clung onto us like a Koala.

A friend overheard the new nickname and asked if I had heard of the Australian teddy, also named Kiki Koala.

I hadn’t, and as I was attempting to find something/ anything to help my now 6 month old sleep, and had also read that a baby can sometimes be comforted by their own teddy or blankie, I was desperate to see if I could find a said Kiki Koala in our town.

Turns out a soviner shop stocked them, and I raced in to purchase this beautiful, soft, pink Koala teddy.

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I hoped and prayed it would help in some way with the sleeping of my little Kiki.

It really didn’t help in that department, (though you wouldn’t tell by the photo above!)  but it was obvious that she liked this lovely new toy of hers.

image (3)Kiki Koala came on family holidays, outings, trips in the car.

She was hugged when Kiara felt sad, or tired, or hurt.

Before we knew it, Miss Kiara was a big sister to Noah, and Kiki Koala joined them on quiet movie days, or craft activities.

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As Miss Kiara grew, Kiki Koala faded with the many washes, and sagged a little more as time wore on.

She joined us camping, and on many other adventures.

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Everyone started calling Kiara “Kiki” too, friends, teachers, people who had just met her.

In fact, when a friend made her birthday cake, she didnt even ask, she just wrote “Kiki” on top.

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Kiara seemed to love Kiki Koala more and more each day if that was possible.

If she could not find Kiki at bed time, she would not go to bed until house wide search had found her.

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I love watching my big girl fast asleep cuddled up to her teddy.

She acts like she is all grown up, experimenting with jewelry and fashion, but I know she is still a little girl, my little girl who needs a teddy to hug up to at night, who will soothe her to sleep when she is tired, chase away those bad dreams and make her feel better when she is sick.

Kiki Koala was starting to look a bit old and tired.

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I searched the internet to find a new one.

The toy maker had gone out of business, and the new ones cost a fortune.

I left it for now.

Then this weekend something amazing happened.

We used our family locals pass to go to the zoo.

We enjoyed looking at all the amazing wildlife, including my favorite, the Koala’s

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Our Kiara had taken her wallet along with her, certain that there would be something in the zoo souvenir shop for her to spend the last of her birthday money on.

In we walked, and there we saw an amazing sight.

A Kiki Koala display, complete with various size and coloured teddies, books, pens, magnets, key rings, jewelry and more.

Squeals from my little girl left Japanese tourists looking around in alarm.

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She took time to look at each item, smiling with excitement the entire time.

In the end she choose a smaller Kiki Koala than her original and a necklace, bracelet and ring set.

We knew where to come back for Christmas pressies.

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Squeals and chatter of excitement came out of Kiara for the rest of the day. I knew she wasn’t just excited about finding a new “toy”. I know for her it was like finding a room filled with her old friend.

She even went to bed talking about how amazing it was to find a new Kiki Koala today.

I realized then that this little pink Koala has become so much more than a teddy over the past 7 years.

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It has been worn out and faded, the old one is a lot more rougher than the nice smooth new one, but Kiki Koala has become a friend, and a part of our family.

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Kiara got sauce on her new Kiki at lunch time, so she made her first trip to the wash and was still too wet at bedtime.

So old Kiki Koala took her routine spot, in her owners arms, ready to fight the nightmares, give the cuddles, and be there when my little girl wakes up in the morning, ready to face a new day.

Kiki Koala, I want to thank you.

For being more than a fluffy toy to my girl.

For filling her arms for years as she drifts to sleep.

For making her happy when she is sad.

For taking away the pain when she is hurt.

And most importantly, for being much more than any other teddy could be.

As I look through Kiaras photo albums, I see so many photos with you, this little pink Koala alongside her, facing life’s adventures together.

Thank you Kiki Koala for being one very special Koala, and most importantly, for being my little Kikis friend.

Dear Sister

Dear Sister,

I have been thinking about you a lot lately.

Recently I placed a frame photo of you and me in the kitchen, it has brought with it a range of memories and emotions.

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I have found myself shedding silent tears over that photo.

The reminders of what we were, who you were as a person, and who you were yet to become, as well as the person you never got to be.

Our kitchen, like many others is often a busy place, and I have smiled at this photo as well, while I wait for the kettle to boil, or while you catch my eye in the early morning rush of emptying the dishwasher as fast as I can.

I find myself smiling at you a lot.

I like that.

Our lounge room also has a reminder of you, the tapestry you made for me as the very last present you ever gave me, sunflowers, my favorite flower. You were always so good at long stitch, and it passed some of your time while you were in hospital.

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It seems a bit old fashioned to some, but it hangs there,  pride of place to remind me of you. (I am so sorry about the cob web on the top right hand corner, I shall remove that at once!)

Each and every time I look at it, I think of you. (the tapestry, not the cobweb that is!)

Right now, my kids are watching tv, with your work of art looking over them, they are oblivious to the fact that a part of Aunty Tamina is in the room with them.

I took them to the cemetery to visit your grave recently, they put wild flowers on your headstone, without having to be told, they were very respectful about it, the photo I quickly snapped brings tears to my eyes when I look at it now.

I do not think of you as  being there in that cemetery, I prefer to think of your soul being released and free, and you living around us, and in our memories of you.

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Noah does not understand death, he thinks his Aunty Tamina lives in a different country and that one day we will save up the airfare to go visit you.

You would have been an amazing Aunty, my kids would have loved you so much, after all they love you anyhow having never even met you, they know you are an important person.

Do you remember those matching duck necklaces we had? Kiara found mine and wears it all the time.

I tried to keep it away and special, but think it is meant to be worn. I think of us whenever she wears it, it is old and worn, but it is nice that a part of our childhood together lives on. She knows it is special.

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It has now been over 14 years since you passed away.

It took a few years for me to be able to talk about you without bursting into tears. This is a sign of healing, though there will always be a bit of a wound in my heart, open from the day you left us.

I have been spending a bit of time at Doctors and specialists lately. I have been rather sick, nothing life threatening, just a reduction of the quality of my life.

Last week, the specialist asked me to go over my family history, suddenly a lump appeared in my throat when it came to talking about you.

I think about how over Doctors surgeries I am, and the thought of being poked and prodded, then I think of how much more you had to endure then me, the months in hospitals, the surgeries and needles, the sickness and pain, and all in the end being told despite this, despite all they put you through, it was never enough to save you.

Man you must have been pissed off with the hand you had been dealt in life.

Sometimes I just feel fucking outraged at the unfairness of it all.

Days I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs

FUCK YOU CANCER!!!!

Unfortunately millions of other people in the world feel like screaming the same words with me.

14 years on, it just does not seem like we are any closer to a cure, I hope I am wrong, I hope one is just around the corner.

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One of the hardest things is being asked about my family, if I have any brothers or sisters, and what they are doing now.

There is no nice way to say “I have a sister, she is dead”

Then people say “oh, you are an only child then?”

I’m not an only child, to say that means you never existed, and  that is just not true.

I wish you never left, I wish you could have stayed, but I feel so blessed to have even got to spend 18 years with you in my life.

Man you were brave.

Gosh I admire you.

Oh how I miss you,

Every, single day.

Loving you Always,

Little Sis xoxo

Grateful for My Life Lines

While not exactly over the hill yet, I am 32 years old, and gradually more and more lines on my face appear.

It may sound weird to some, but I actually like them, I call them my “life lines”, a sign of having lived life, having cried, laughed, stressed, rejoiced, having just experienced emotions.

As a child I wanted so desperately to have dimples in my cheeks, it is one of those things that friends who were lucky enough to have them, wished that they didn’t.

I would be found standing still, concentrating as I poked the tips of both index fingers into the sides of my cheeks, hoping that if I did that often enough and long enough, I would eventually get myself a set of my very own dimples.

As you can imagine, it did not work!

Now in a weird sort of way, my smile lines look a little like those dimples I envied for years, sure you can tell they are NOT dimples, but I like them all the same.

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Only recently, my daughter Kiara asked me why I had lines around the corners of my eyes.

Some may call these “crows feet”, but I shall call them ” laugh lines”.

I told Kiara this, and she said she thought I was pretty lucky.

I asked why.

Her answer was simple.

“You must have laughed and smiled many times in your life to get those lines, I cannot wait until I have smiled enough to earn some lines for it!”

And you know what?

She is right!

As a  young teen, I participated in a makeup and deportment course. The teacher told me one day that I really needed to work on the emotions I showed on my face, she said that I moved my forehead up so much that the lines would become permanent over time.

I was worried about this, and tried so hard to keep my face still, and free from lines, but really that was never meant to happen.

Those who know me, know that I am a little loud, and prone to making funny faces.

I make jokes a lot, especially when I am the subject, and you really cannot do that with a smooth forehead!

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The lines are slowly becoming permanent there, but I really don’t mind.

They remind me of all the fun times.

I feel blessed to have some lines to show I have lived.

My sister died at 22, never getting the chance to see these small wrinkles appear on her face.

She never got the chance to grow old.

She was never given the chance to earn her lines.

I am not old, I know that, and I know that my wrinkles and lines will only grow more as the years dwindle on and my age ticks by.

You will never find me in the queue for Botox.

I like that you look at my face and you know I have lived.

Too many people are not given that privilege, and I am grateful for my small blessing.

BRINGING BACK THE PROJECT!

Hi All!

I feel as though I know so many of you, even though I have only met some of you.

On this page you have allowed me an outlet to share the moments of my life, big and small.

I started the page as “Alicia’s 365 Moments of Gratitude Project” when I embarked on taking a photograph a day of something in which I was thankful for.

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The project was fun, and as someone who does not always finish what I start, I felt it was a huge accomplishment for me.

I spent hours printing out each photograph and the story behind it to put in my own folder to keep.

It has been a while since I have looked back on the project, but I feel happy to know that it is there, a permanent reminder of a wonderful 365 days of my life.

The photos ended up filling two Facebook albums, which can be viewed here and here, feel free to browse when you have some time.

It has been over a  year since the project was completed, and it has been a huge year at that.

I attempted to change the name of my Facebook page  to just “Alicia’s Little Moments” (like this blog), but was unable to.

So the gratitude reminder lived on.

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Lately I have received some beautiful messages from lovely people commenting on how much they enjoyed the project, on reading the stories that went with the photos I was grateful for.

I feel so happy reading these messages, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.

You see, it has been a very tough year since that project ended, and it was always so nice to look back in my darkest days and remind myself of all the beautiful things in life.

I have continued to be grateful, in fact on being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, my doctor recommended I keep a diary of things that make me happy, so in healing I kind of continued my own project privately.

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I am ready to come back, though in being honest, I really do not have the personal time any more to take and edit photos every day, with a new business, time is very short at the moment.

So I have a request.

Lets bring back the project, but I need you to help me please.

Last time I invited readers to submit their photos and stories, which you did, but this time I need to share the job more so.

If you have a photo or a story of something you are grateful for, this is an open invitation to share it on my Facebook page . For this to work I need you to join in with me please.

It does not have to be every day,  just post something when the feeling arises, when you feel grateful for something, big and small.

You see, you all will never know how much your support and comments helped me over the years, now lets look at the beautiful things in live together.

The project is back, but this time it is not “Alicia’s project”, it is “Everyone’s project”

I look forward to sharing it with you!

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xoxox

Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained

“Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”, 4 words that I have been heard saying many times lately.

Jamie and I recently purchased our very own business, we became franchisees with a Mobile Coffee Van franchise.

Anyone who thinks it is easy to work towards your dreams are wrong.

It has been a lot of hard work, many hours filling in documents with the bank, conversing with  suppliers, setting up the van, getting our selves organised  and don’t get me even started on getting my head around the book work!

I am a self confessed over thinker, and the thoughts of what could go wrong by purchasing a business could very easily snowball if I let them, so this time I decided once we had done our research to not over think, for once, to just dive in, that was the first of many times that I was heard uttering the words ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.

As anyone setting up a business would know, it’s hard work, stressful and draining at times, but it is worth it.

One of the main reasons behind our choice to do our own thing, was the opportunity for more family time together. At the age of 4, Noah cannot remember a time which we had regular weekends together as a family.

With Jamie working every weekend, and Kiara in grade 1, she only got to spend time with her Daddy on school holidays.

Jamie was overworked and stressed to the max, and I just craved some time, any time together.

Kiara cried happy tears when we told her that she would get to spend weekends with Daddy at last, in fact even now, over  a month into our new life, squeals of delight can still be heard around the house on a Saturday morning when the kids realize that Daddy will be home for yet another weekend!

I wont deny that it is tough, that we have found a whole new definition to the meaning of ‘exhaustion’, but at last it is happy exhaustion, the knowledge that slowly, our hard work is going to pay off.

We have met some lovely customers, and I am more then happy to go to work with the knowledge that excellent coffee is on tap.

I love the vibe of happiness and excitement that greets us when we arrive at a workplace, ready to provide people with much needed refreshments and a chat.

I love witnessing friends shouting a mate a coffee.

I love working with my husband , although in the interest in being honest, we have had a few little tiffs already.

I love that we are both finished in time to pick the kids up together, and that one of us is not walking in at dinner time.

Original plans were for me to continue at my second job to assist with bills, but that unfortunately did not work out.

Many nights are spent doing things for the business when the kids have gone to bed, but that is to be expected.

It’s been lots of hard work, some have already told us we wont be successful, they just give us more fire in our belly’s  to prove them wrong.

The house is trashed, the washing pile grows, we fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day and right now we owe the bank ore money then we ever had in our lives, but you know what?

We are happy.

We are loving having so much more time together as a family,

We love that we are growing our own little business,

That we hope to watch our hard work pay off, both at home and at work.

We  continue to chant the words

“Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”

In My Garden

Our house is a home, we live in it, so therefore it sometimes also looks like a cyclone (aka children) has torn through it.

Some days the view from the outside is not much better, we seem to have come to a halt with renovations, and need to finish off some painting, tidy up the tools lying everywhere, and deal with the never-ending weeds, as well as the destruction  that two very energetic dogs make.

This all gets me a bit down at times, but then I chose to focus on all the great things that can be found in our garden, and decided to share them with you  (cause nobody wants to see pictures of the not so great things there!)

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Storm and Zen, our two beautiful, and crazy dogs.

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One of the Willy Wag Tail birds that frequent our garden.

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Our frangipani tree, silhouetted by the sunset

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One lone flower, that survived the destruction rampage of our dogs.

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There is all kinds of life cycle’s and events happening in our yard, I just need to remember to open my eyes and look up and around.

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Dew drops on a leaf

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Tree Orchid, only flowers once a year.

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Cute Lady Bugs

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Wet Season

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Raindrops on frangipani in our front garden

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View from our front porch of neighbors stunning palm tree

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The garden is the perfect place to enjoy a cuppa and slice of cake!

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Our shed was once used by a sunbird to build one glorious nest

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The current sunbird hanging around our place, I caught him in the car port today checking himself out in the side mirror on the car and having a chat to himself! Thanks for giving me a much-needed smile birdy!

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View from the backyard at a sunset over the mountains

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Technically the Singapore Daisy is a weed, but I still think it is rather pretty!

Learning to be my own hero

Someone once told me that life will continue to throw the same lessons at us, over and over again, until finally we learn what we need to know.

I have said for years that one of my life lessons is to become more assertive.

Over time, I have become much better, starting to stand up for myself more than I have done before, but I have so much further to go.

I am by nature a pretty outgoing person.

Regularly I will strike up conversations with random strangers, sometimes these are some of the most beautiful, enlightening conversations you can have.

Everyone has a story, and I love hearing what people have to say.

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I love to be around people.

There is so many wonderful souls out there.

The kind ones

The Caring ones

The loving ones

The giving ones

The happy ones

The beautiful ones

Thankfully on average I am mainly surrounded by the lovely souls.

The people that uplift me, and bring so much into my world.

Life isn’t perfect, and as much as we would love to, it is impossible to surround oneself in a protective bubble that the negative ones cannot penetrate.

Normally I will just let peoples bad moods and nasty comments wash off of me, I remind myself some people just have their own issues, it is their issue, not mine.

I also admit that sometimes I have been known to fall under the negative category myself, no one is perfect.

A few times lately I have been really put down and pulled apart in some really unfortunate events.

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You know what though?

The thing that upsets me the most is not what these people have done or said to me, it is the fact that I have not stood up for myself, that I have not been more assertive and told them that they are out of line.

So I have decided.

Time to be my own hero.

No more being pushed around.

No more being put down.

No more being walked all over.

I may be nice, but that does not mean you can use me as a doormat.

I realize that some times people put others down as they are insecure in their own skin, or sometimes they have had a bad day and take it out on others, or maybe simply they are just a jerk.

Heads up world!

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I realize that I have spent so much time fighting for others,

that I forgot to remember to fight for myself.

Now it is time to be my own hero.