It’s a letter for midwives (and doctors and caregivers) to help them understand what HG is like for the person who is inside it.
If you know of anyone who might benefit from this article, please do share it along.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for caring.
Next time you see a woman shuffling into the ward, grey shading her face, shaking because she hasn’t drunk water or eaten in days, the look of abject horror in her eyes, all life sucked from her system from relentless, intractable vomiting… may I please ask a favour?
Please know that this woman is suffering. Profoundly. Horrifically. More than any human ever should. She is in the midst of the darkest days of her life, a relentless midnight. She is not herself. She has been subsumed by the hell of her illness. Her life has been taken from her, and all that is left is the constant, chronic, debilitating nausea that she can barely breath beneath. She can barely manage to drink the water and eat the food necessary for her body to not shut down, and even then, she is often not able to accomplish even that.
Not only that, but she is a part of an ecosystem that is now under profound stress. Her income is gone. The cost of Zofran when you don’t have cancer is astronomical. If she already has children, they no longer have a mother. Their mother is writhing, rocking on the bed, praying to every deity under the sun: Please. Please make it stop. I can no longer cope. Another mother must be found – extended family or paid carers. No one able to cover the immense, gaping hole where she was. Her partner is no longer a partner, he is a caregiver. He watches his wife recede into the bedsheets, unable to accomplish even the smallest of daily tasks. They argue. He doesn’t understand. When he does, he feels helpless. His life too, is gone. No cooking in the house. Nothing more to incite the vomiting. She is one vomit away from another trip to emergency to get some water needled through her. Their family life revolves around: bed, the chemist, the emergency ward.
How does this family survive the profound financial, emotional, physical and logistical nightmare that is HG?
I do not know. I have been that shell of a woman – twice – once for five weeks, the second for nine months – and I still do not know fully.
But I do know that you are important. You are critical. You very well can make the difference between whether she becomes one of the estimated 15% of women suffering hyperemesis gravidarum who opt for a therapeutical termination. Please know that almost all of us are considering it. Not because we don’t want our babies – indeed, we deeply do. But we do not know how on earth we can survive the personal hell that HG is.
The support I received – from my husband, midwife, acupuncturist, doctor, chemist – was critical. Without them, I assure you, there would be just the idea, the memory, the grief, the loss of a baby, instead of the strawberry-blonde imp of an 18 month old who is gallivanting around the house with her older sister as I type this.
Support in all forms is required – medical support. Hospital stay support. Childcare support. Most of all, emotional support. I can’t tell you enough just how much compassion, empathy and understanding from people saved me, and saved my baby. Very clearly in my mind, I can recall the difference in care I got from medical professionals. The nurse who casually asked if I’d tried eating ginger as I lay grey, hooked to an IV drip in emergency. The doctor who dismissively asked me if I’d diagnosed myself using the internet when I probably was just experiencing morning sickness. That made me feel like this very real and very serious illness wasn’t being treated as such.
And then there was the doctor who saw me when I needed to talk about termination. He looked at me so gently and said
“This baby is a precious blessing. I know this is hard. Let me make calls. I will get you admitted to hospital tonight to see the best registrar I can. We will get you the support you need.”
And he did. To the midwives and doctors and pharmacists and acupuncturists who all listened, and heard my pain, and took my suffering seriously.
HG is serious. Unmanaged, it can result in the death of baby and mother.
For more support + a personal look into Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I created an illustrated zine.
I offer it for any woman who has ever been through H.G.. Or who is going through it right now. Or anyone with a debilitating illness. Or any woman who wants to understand.
Depression is a secondary complication of HG. I don’t know how you can experience HG and not feel deeply and doubtlessly into depression. Profound, unrelenting and devastating. Medication is needed. Counselling too. And counselling is the hardest to get to – being bedridden and barely able to speak. Our life is gone, subsumed as we toil at staying alive so we can bring another life into the world.
Can I please put forth a HG Do’s + Don’t List (A Mother’s Perspective):
Please DON’T ever utter “morning sickness” to us. “Hey! You have cancer! That’s basically the same as a common cold, right?”
Things that don’t cure or in anyway assist with HG: ginger or dry biscuits. “Hey! You have cancer! Have you tried Vitamin C + Echinacea?”
Please don’t belittle this illness. Don’t make it smaller than what it is. It is serious, and it is horrific to experience.
You can make a very real difference in whether we have a termination or not.
18 months on, my body is still recovering and healing from HG. My teeth will never be the same, my body is still rebuilding itself after nine long, horrific months of malnutrition and muscle waste. It is a trauma to the body and to the soul. Emotionally, I am still learning how to trust a world that would allow HG to happen. Six months ago, I gave myself the gift of knowing I would never, ever experience HG again: a tubal ligation.
Next time you see my HG sisters shuffling into your ward, please remember you are glimpsing a woman in the darkest days of her life. She needs your concern and she needs your support and she needs your empathy in order to make it through, out to the other side, with babe in arms.
I wanted to give you an update on my pregnancy journey and how I’m travelling this time around.
So many of you have been with me on the journey last time I did it, and I gotta say it’s actually really helpful to me that I wrote + video blogged it all down. So helpful to revisit and see where things are the same and different for me this time!
First and foremost: I’m about 7.5 weeks pregnant now. I’m due approx March 5.
HYPEREMESIS (aka Morning Sickness From Doom)
Let’s get to the nitty gritty: this is the thing that’s most on my mind right now.
I was really, really hoping that I wouldn’t get hyperemesis this time around.
Hypermesis is like morning sickness on speed. It means chronic vomiting and 24/7 nausea.
It means your body has an allergic reaction to being pregnant.
It can mean weight loss, dehydration, hospitalisation.
It happens to between 0.5% and 2.0% but is often not diagnosed because vomiting and nausea occur in over 50% of pregnancies.
Trying to stop hyperemesis with ginger and peppermint tea is like trying to stop a tsunami with a colander.
(This is what Princess Kate had in the early stages of her pregnancy.)
Last time around for me it was 5 weeks of that kind of bullshit. But I didn’t KNOW at the time it was hyperemesis. I thought it was just morning sickness. I didn’t even go see my doctor about it because I thought it was just part of pregnancy.
And to be honest, I really doubted myself. I wondered why it seemed so much harder for me to exist compared to other pregnant women. I had a feeling I must have been a bit soft or weak. Looking back I believe hyperemesis was the catalyst for ante natal depression for me.
It’s kind of been a blessing to experience it again just to see:
Nope, fuck that, I am NOT weak. This shit is just really, really hard.
It started right on the same day as it did last time – right on 5 weeks. Last time, it ended right on 10 weeks. So I’m hoping beyond hope it follows the same (or hello! earlier! I would be totally okay with that!)
I’m very grateful that this time around:
I know what I’m experiencing (instead of just thinking it was par for course)
I know that if I lost weight I did last time, I actually should go to hospital
I have lots of support. I don’t have to turn up to a cubicle everyday and fall asleep under my desk and pray to the vomit gods that I don’t spew all over my desk. I’ve got my husband and parents-in-law at home.
I have an amazing amazing team who say “Just give it all over to us. Delegate delegate delegate. We’ll get it all done.”
How I’m doing hyperemesis differently this time around
I’ve made a commitment to myself to do pregnancy differently this time around. Last time I tried to do it all perfectly and it drove me bonkers. Last time I tried to do it all on my own in my head.
This time around, I decided to see what would help, and how I could feel more supported.
I decided to take very-safe-for-pregnancy anti-nausea medication prescribed by my (adorable) doctor (last time I was all “ALL WESTERN MEDICINE IS BAD AND I WILL NOT CONSIDER ANY.” This time around I was like “You know what? Tell me the options and risk factors.” And who woulda thunk it? There’s a kind of medicine that’s Category A (aka the safest stuff around). It’s a real relief to not be a freaked out hippy this time around and instead just be an open one.
I have fortnightly intuitive healing/therapy sessions with Hiro.
And I took a VERY big leap of self-care capacity, and decided to get daily (5 days a week) acupuncture for the duration of my morning sickness.
I started going to see if I could get some relief from it, and noticed I did.
And after noticing that, I had this whole teary awareness moment in the shower:
You know what? I’m actually going to get as much of this as I possibly can. I deserve to feel supported during this process because it sucks so much. It’s a worthwhile investment to have some relief!
I tell ya, it was really, really big for me to decide that. As I’ve shared before, I’m a slow-comer to the self-care game. As Hiro’s said to me before:
Leonie, the reason that you think any kind of self care is extreme is because you grew up in a family that never took care of themselves. You’ve got to write a new story about support.
So I did. And having that kind of daily support has made a HUGE difference.
So I’ve been getting it daily now for about 1.5 weeks.
Most days I get between 2-20 hours of relief from overwhelming nausea and vombombing. Which is HUGE! LIFE SAVING!
Having moments of feeling almost normal and almost functional has been a real relief. To get respite from the chronic doom makes the big difference between feeling despair and hope.
There’s been a few days when my hormone levels were so high that I didn’t get a huge relief from it – just enough to stave off chronic vomiting, but not the nausea.
Life can feel really, really hard when you are spending every moment of each day trying not to vomit, and trying to force yourself to eat because an empty stomach makes you barf more.
Hyperemesis thoroughly sucks giant donkey balls. I really want to give major love and high fives to the women who go through it in order to bring a new soul into the world. The women who can go through it for nine months and be in and out of hospital. The women who suffer organ failure and super low blood pressure because of the vomit convulsions. The women who go in and out of hospital. The women who need to terminate their pregnancy because their body will cease to function if it continues. The women who have it for less time or more time or the same time. Hypermesis is french for: that shit’s bad.
And the women who may not have hyperemesis but who still have morning sickness. It’s just not fun at all.
And I really want to say: I’m sorry if you are suffering. My heart goes out to you. I understand, I understand, I understand. And I wish you so much gentleness and healing.
A note on acupuncture
If you have morning sickness (aka not the chronic vom boms), acupuncture CAN cure it. Like fix that shit right up within 3 sessions.
Get someone who is experienced and ask if they can fix morning sickness.
They can cure about 80% of women from it completely by fixing the hormonal imbalance.
If you’ve got the giant-suck-balls-of-hyperemesis, they can’t cure it but they CAN provide temporary relief to help you get through it.
When hyperemesis first began again with me, I noticed that I got covered in a grey cloak of depression almost instantaneously.
I went to my acupuncturist and cried and cried about how lonely and miserable I felt in hyperemesis.
She explained that women who suffer from the voms are highly likely to get it – with all the convulsions around the belly, the pericardium channel which moves along the stomach is thrown out of whack, and the pericardium channel moves up around the heart – it’s the heart’s protector and nourisher. When the pericardium channel is thrown out, the heart feels very tender, alone and sad. It made so much sense to me.
She fixed the pericardium from the first session, and that grey cloak hasn’t been back since.
There have been moments where I’ve felt despair (mostly as I chunder all over myself), but it’s bouyed with more hope and more light-heartedness. Like “ho boy, this is funny, this is going to make a good story!”
Like that time that I puked so hard in the morning that I peed myself. I thought that was quite hilarious and couldn’t wait to tell Chris/Marissa/my acupuncturist about the new level of attractiveness I exuded.
And when I do a really massive puke, I like to tell Chris “Ahhhhhhh, the miracle of new life!”
But of course there are still days when it’s really, really hard and that I don’t find funny at all. Like yesterday which was an acupuncture-free day and a festival of vomit. I ate three dinners before one managed to stay down.
Back to acupuncture again this morning, and I get a few good hours of partial-normal back before hoiking up lunch.
It’s up and down, up and down, but just knowing I can get SOME relief is making all the difference in the world.
I’m not throwing up as much this time and not recording weight loss like I did last time, and I believe that’s a combo of acupuncture/medication/intuitive healing at play.
UPDATE 3 DAYS LATER:
Hahahahahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHA HA.
Just when I thought I had it under control… nope!
It got worse (HOW! WHY!) and I ended up in hospital for a rehydration drip and stronger anti-nausea medication to help me keep food and water down. Oh what a fun journey hyperemesis is. And when I say “FUN” I mean: “This sucks giant donkey balls.”
Some other things that might possibly help with morning sickness/hyperemesis
The homeopathic remedy Cocculus (hahahahaha, I dirtily thought to myself – like really DOES cure like! That’s what got me sick so this should fix it!) may help. Morning sickness pills of ginger and Vitamin B6 might help.
I don’t really know if they’ve helped me with hyperemesis, but fuck, I’ll give anything a go at this stage of the game. PLACEBO ME UP BABY!
One thing that definitely definitely definitely makes a difference is eating protein.
Try and eat protein for breakfast. And every meal.
I’ve found it can stabilise my blood sugar levels and clear my head. I’ll get nauseous quicker after meals if I don’t have protein.
And I love my doctor to the moon and back for this – instead of the horsepill sized pregnancy multi vitamins, have the tiny i-Folic tablets instead. Last time around I hurled so many horse pills over the kitchen from gagging on them, so tiny ones are like little miracle unicorns in my mouth.
Other things I’ve noticed with pregnancy this time around:
Okay, let’s stop talking about puking for a while, yeah?
Here’s what else is happening:
My tummy has popped earlier this time.
Most preggos find this: if you’ve already had a baby, your ready made pouch inflates at the very hint of pregnancy.
It’s like all the muscles are all:
Yeah, I know this gig. POOF!
(That’s EXACTLY how muscles talk, by the way.)
Last time around I remember inspecting myself every day looking for a bump.
This time around I reckon I look at least six weeks more pregnant than I did last time around.
Cravings/smells/feeling like a human animal
Everything smells overpowering right now. I’m like a sniffer dog. Except every smell makes me want to throw up.
Like dirt. I can smell dirt, people.
And let’s not even talk about cooking food. Oh holy stinkfest, me and my ultra sensitive nose DO NOT LIKE.
The outside world feels very noisy, very loud, very smelly and very hard to be in.
Which makes perfect sense on a biological level: at this stage of pregnancy, nature kinda wants you to just chill in a cave and be hyper aware of what you’re eating.
I have that feeling again of being an animal.
So often we can ignore our body’s needs for hunger, thirst, movement, sleep.
In pregnancy, you can’t.
Your body is your dictator.
I’ve become a champion napper once again – usually I’m a shithouse napper and don’t nap at all. But with first trimester pregnancy: TRY AND STOP ME FROM SLEEPING. There’s been a number of three hour long naps. I guess baby was growing a new organ that day or something. (Yep, I’m supremely grateful that I have extra support around so I can nap while Starry plays endless rounds of skateboard tobogganing down the driveway with her grandparents.)
And again, this time around I don’t get weird cravings (ala pickles on ice cream) but I do get very specific desires of what to eat. As in: THIS IS THE ONLY THING I WANT TO EAT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE EVERYTHING ELSE IS DISGUSTING TO EVEN THINK OF.
Some I’ve had so far: gluten free pumpkin and fetta pizza, lemon squash drinks (for that sharp punch in the mouth), home made marshmallows (must be for the gelatin inside them), red capsicums, red capsicums, red capsicums, full fat milk and coconut ice cream. I’m also quite cognizant of the fact that right now, my major aim of the game is to keep ANYTHING down. ANYTHING at all. So I really don’t judge whatever I’m eating. Salads are a no go zone for my mouth during the festival of barf, and that’s okay.
How I’m feeling
I’m feeling for the most part fairly optimistic.
I have had quite a few panicked moments of:
OMG! I AM PREGNANT AGAIN! FUCK! SHIT! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? WHAT WAS I THINKING! THIS STUFF IS HARD!
I also have this very firm vision in my head of Starry with her sibling, and it really warms my heart, and it’s something to move forward into.
I expect that my stuff will keep coming up over the pregnancy, birth and newborn period.
And that I have the support this time around between my acupuncturist, kinesiologist and Hiro.
And my relationship with Chris is even stronger this time around – thanks to already having been through this before and because of our transformative time healing our relationship and learning to communicate with couple’s counselling. Last time around, I think me and Chris were both very naiive and new to the game of parenting last time around – neither of us knew what to expect. He’s got a better handle on these things last time around and I know he’ll be a listening support.
I know I’ll be able to heal whatever comes up. And it will be okay. It will be a different experience.
Prissy Pregnancy Princess Syndrome
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have bouts of “Prissy Pregnancy Princess Syndrome” (that’s what my acupuncturist calls it!)
You know, the special moments when you are completely overrun by hormones and emotions but don’t know it and your love is DOING IT WRONG.
I totally get this time around that my thoughts are not actually necessarily the truth, and the truth is often halfway between what you and your love are both experiencing and arguing about.
As Prissy Pregnant Princess, you may find yourself outraged at your partner’s lack of compassion and understanding, his inability to experience what you are experiencing, his complete ineptness at working out what you need.
Just wanted you to know you’re not alone, and that it’s okay, and that it will pass.
It’s not actually a sign of the worth of your partner or the validity of your relationship.
You are (for very good biological reasons) overrun with hormones and everything feels ridiculous, shit tastic and awful at various times.
Be gentle with you. Be gentle with him (as much as possible).
The other day I was overrun with my fuming sensibilities, and took myself for a little drive down to the village for a solo lunch. Once I had some food in me, and a bit of fresh air, I couldn’t quite remember why I was so pissy with him to begin with.
Feelings change. Hormones come and go. Communicate where possible. Let the rest go. Get the support you need from lots of sources (not just your partner).
Speaking of love…
Chris is writing a book called “101 Things To Not Say To Pregnant Women.”
We both laugh about this of course. It has stemmed out of PPP Syndrome.
He is writing it by trying out different phrases and seeing how I react.
“DON’T SPEW IN THE KITCHEN SINK! I JUST CLEANED IT!”
“Why did you just spew on yourself? Can you do it outside next time?
“You don’t look THAT sick.”
“Everyone goes through this honey.”
“YOU WANT TO STAY INSIDE AGAIN? BUT I’M BORED!”
If steam starts to rise out of my ears, he reckons it’s a shoe-in for the book.
I mostly find him funny (when I’m not steaming and fuming).
And when I am steaming I remember:
Oh that’s right, I got pissed with him last time sometimes too. And it didn’t mean anything was broken. We’re going to be okay.
It’s a real joy to not be a first timer at this shin dig, I tell ya.
It feels less rupturous, less alien and scary.
Even on a body level – that feeling of stretching between the hips, the solid mound of energy around my uterus, the feeling of being host to a new life form – it’s less:
HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THIS?
Oh yes, this ole feeling. I know this one.
I can relax into it a little more gently.
Last time felt like a complete unknown that I struggled to integrate and understand.
This time around I get it more. It’s more peaceful. I can sit with it a little longer.
Not being lonely
Right now, I’m writing this on our verandah as my hunky love and daughter play soccer in the yard. My two fluffy dogs are by my feet after being banned from the game for being far too ball-bustingly boisterous.
At this point in time, something else I’m noticing is a real feeling of not wanting to be lonely.
Hyperemesis can feel very alienating like I’m doing it all on my own.
I don’t like that feeling of aloneness. I’m usually very comfortable and happy in my own company.
But right now I need to feel like I’m not doing this all on my own.
So I don’t work in my office right now. I want to be around my little family. I get work done in the hours when I’m not sick (usually in the afternoon after acupuncture if it’s worked enough). I need to know that I’ll be witnessed if I’m hurling, and not just doing it like a sad lonely animal in a cave.
I will not be alone. I will not suffer.
At this point in time, we’ve decided to skip the date-testing ultrasound and wait again for the 20 week one. We will find out what we’re having like we did last time. I really loved knowing what we were having earlier in the game. I totes respect when peeps like to keep it a surprise. I just don’t wish to – it’s not in my personal makeup of what makes me happy. I feel more connected when I know what gender we’ll be having. And I don’t actually want another thing to process on birth day – it’s enough for me to process HOLY FUCK I JUST GAVE BIRTH TO A HUMAN. I’d rather emotionally process whatever gender we will have in 13 weeks time. I’ll be delighted with whatever we have of course:
It’s a boy: Oh yay! Something I haven’t done before! That will be really sweet!
It’s a girl! Oh yay! How cute is that! Starry will have a lil sis! That will be really sweet!
For me it’s something I can’t really lose at, ya know?
I’m not considering home birth this time around – it’s not something I am called to do. If all goes to plan, we’ll go to a small country hospital that has a midwife run maternity ward. If I need pain medication, I’ll take it.
We had a doula last time around which was so important to us. I was waiting to see what would arise for the kind of support we’d need this time.
And my lovely angelic acupuncturist Kellie (who is also a wonderful friend) also acts an acupuncturist/doula for many births in that hospital. When she told me I immediately got tears in my eyes and goosebumps all over me – I knew she was exactly what I needed for support. A supportive woman sister who is intuitive and also has needle magic powers to help with pain and labour! WOO!
I’ll be getting acupuncture through most of the pregnancy, with another bout of intensive action in the third trimester to get my body ready for labour. I did use acupuncture last time in pregnancy to turn Starry from being breech twice (which totally worked and was awesome) and to try and induce labour when it stalled. This time I’ll be much more dedicated as using it as a preventative and preparation medicine instead of just “fix what’s fucked”.
In other news, I don’t really have plans as such. Not die hard ones like last time.
More: what will be, will be.
I will not suffer, I will be supported, I will not do this alone.
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I’m currently working on my yearly review in my 2020 Goals workbooks, and thought it would be fun to do a round up post here as well to share with you all of how this year has been for me… life, business and all the good stuff!
This is a massive review – just under 5,000 words!
In it I’ll share:
some of the hardest parts of our family’s year
our transition from homeschooling to schooling
some of the best ideas I had that changed my life
where I focussed my business over the last 12 months
what I sold the most of
how I changed my philanthropic focus
the piece of technology that helped me simplify and increase profits this year.
I’ll talk about life first… because that’s the most important thing!
We bought a new house this year after 12 months of living on the Sunshine Coast. It was our original plan to do this – we bought a smaller property to live in while we decided where we wanted to live on the coast, and then bought a larger house on an acreage. We kept the smaller house to rent out.
We’ve been in our new home for six months now, and it’s such a blessing to live on acreage again. We are on two acres, surrounded by birds and trees. I feel so grateful. I love the spaciousness… being on acreage has always been my dream, and when we lived in the rainforest in Kuranda on acreage I was just thrilled with it. We definitely thought we’d keep living on acreages, but our adventures took us in different directions. Until now!
To come back to acreage after four years of longing feels very lucky.
I still love living on the Sunshine Coast, and we will probably be here for a few years at least. KNOCK ON WOOD! HA!
If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know we’ve been pretty transient with our homes, and have lived in 8 places in 10 years from Cairns to Hobart. On good days I think we’ve just had a magical, unexplainable journey of slow travel around Australia. On bad days, I wonder WTF we were thinking. Ha! Luckily, my days are almost always good.
What I love about the Sunshine Coast:
the water. I love being near the beach and rivers and lakes. Gosh it’s good medicine for the soul.
the people. Honestly I’ve met so many lovely, educated hippies… it’s hard to keep up with all the beautiful hearts I’ve met.
the weather. Sub tropical mild magic! Not so endlessly hot you feel like you are one giant sweaty inferno of a ball sack. (Can you tell I’ve lived in Cairns?) Not so endlessly cold you feel like your asshole has frost bite. (Can you tell I’ve lived in Tasmania and Canberra?)
After two years of homeschooling both my kids, we decided with my eldest to try a term at a small independent school here. I’d done a tour of it previously and had been really excited by its approach. When we took a tour with my eldest, she said in the car on the way there: “I don’t want to look at a school! I love homeschooling!” But by the end of the tour, she told us: “I want to go to school here.”
So she did. We thought we would give it a go for a term and see what it was like for her and us. And it was great, so we continued. It’s been a year now, and it’s really been wonderful. My kid still adores it, and has learned SO MUCH. She is truly thriving. My youngest will start there in 2020 and we will be regularly kid-free for the first time in a decade (!!!!)
I do sometimes miss how much time we had together as a family, how much freedom we had when homeschooling, and how we got to choose our own schedule. My mental health is a lotttttt better when I’m not homeschooling – just being able to have more time to myself is crucial. Plus, it’s a pretty big mental responsibility to take on your kids’ education, so I found that taxing too. My kid has absolutely blossomed at school, educationally and emotionally, so it’s the right choice for us right now.
I’m grateful for the example of homeschooling friends who are “Flexi learners” – they take it term by term, and will happily homeschool or have the kids at school – it depends on what is needed by the family members at the time.
I appreciate that philosophy – that there’s no one right way to do things permanently. You can just choose, and choose again. Keep choosing what’s right for you and and your family and your kid to bloom.
I’ve been working out of a corner of our bedroom for 18 months. We just didn’t have the space in our first house, and I didn’t really care. I knew I could cope with just having a desk for the short term. Let’s face it – I barely even use a desk anyway. I usually work from bed or the couch.
Anyways, when we moved into our new acreage, there was an extra room behind our garage that was used as a bar or games room. It didn’t have any windows, and was a bit dark and sad. We knew we’d use it as my office/studio once we renovated. In my impatience, I expected I’d be using it within a couple of weeks of moving in. In reality, it took six months for us to renovate it and get it where it needed to be for it to be usable.
It’s now an amazing space to create in, and I’m so thrilled!
We’ve all been in good health this year, thank goodness. There’s been some years where that hasn’t been the case – between mental health, hyperemesis gravidarum and a shithouse immune system. This year has been healthy and happy though!
It’s definitely been the Year of Dental Work however… I had my wisdom teeth removed under twilight sedation (much good, highly recommend!) and I also had a root canal and new crown. My youngest Beth had the same teeth condition my eldest Ostara had – enamel hypomineralisation, likely caused by me having hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy. It meant she had to have the same surgery Ostara had at the same age – go under a GA for extensive repair and removal. I didn’t expect it to be super difficult – my gentle, placid-natured Ostara had no issues with the GA, and was out like a light.
For my strong spirited, boisterous Beth however, she did NOT enjoy going under GA, and was suuuuuper pissed off at the anaesthetist, fighting the whole way down (it probably only took a few minutes, but it felt like a lifetime). I ended up sobbing hysterically in the waiting room. She woke up quickly in recovery, climbed onto a nurse like a koala and sleepily proclaimed: “I AM HUNGRY!” This makes me smile – Beth, always hungry, always up for a hug. And that’s where I found her. The nurses transferred Sleepy, Hungry, Koala Beth onto me, and popped me onto the hospital bed with her on top of me. They tucked me in, and treated us both so gently. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of it.
They fetched Beth endless food – ice-blocks, ice-cream, custard, jelly. And yet she was STILL HUNGRY. Beth had been deprived of food for 5 whole hours, and she needed to redress that imbalance stat. Her recovery went beautifully. Beth now has some silver plated teeth which she is very excited by. She announces to every stranger in sight: “LOOK AT MY SILVER TEEEETH!”
Beth gave us another trip to emergency this year as well – she split her head open on a table at home and had to be glued back together. I will say: if the doctor asks you if you want to see the cleaned out head wound before they mesh it back together, say NO. I’m usually pretty fine with blood and said YES like a NOVICE PARENT. DO NOT BE LIKE ME. I don’t think I’ve managed to erase that visual memory yet. I still feel a bit vommy when I think about it.
Anyways, I’m always so blooming grateful when I go to hospital: it gives me a humanity tune-up to my heart. It reminds me just how vulnerable we all are. How much we adore our children, and how much we ache when they ache. And it reminds me to love perfect strangers, how thin the veneer of normality really is.
OUR SWEET DOGGY
At the start of the year, my husband met me at the door one afternoon when I got home with the kids.
“Honey,” he said, shaking just a little bit. “I think there’s something wrong with Angel.”
He’d noticed she’d had issues with eating, and inspected, and some of her teeth looked like they needed removal.
My husband ADORES dogs, and is very attached to our pets. He’s got such a soft heart when it comes to them.
I had a look, agreed, and calmed him down. I told him I’d take her to the vet in the morning, and that she’d be totally fine, she just needed some dental work done.
The next morning, I take her to the vet (my husband is too worried to come). The vet checks her teeth, agrees she needs some dental work, and says they can fit in Angel for treatment today. She does a health check over Angel to make sure she’s ok for dental surgery. I remember the moment: the vet puts her hand over Angel’s stomach to check her organs, and stops. She gets a frown on her face, and keeps pressing on her stomach.
In my head, I think: FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK. This is it. This is the beginning of the end. This is the bad news that none of us want.
We’ve had Angel for over 10 years now. She’s a part of our family. And we still miss our Charlie who died from a brain tumour a few years ago.
The vet finally says: “I can’t tell, but I think Angel has a large tumour. I need to get her scanned as soon as we can.”
FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.
The vet pulls off some kind of miracle, and gets her business partner to bring scanning equipment from another surgery. They confirm she has a large tumour which needs immediate removal as it could potentially burst. They decide to perform surgery straight away, and send us home.
Hours later, they call. The surgery took much longer than they expected. They found the tumour was even larger than they anticipated – it was larger than a baseball (absolutely massive for a 3kg dog!) and took up all space in her rib cage. In an absolute miracle however, they were able to remove the whole thing, it did not cause haemorrhaging, it was not cancerous and she made a full recovery. The vets were stunned at how miraculous the whole thing was.
We are so grateful that she survived… and that we’d discovered it so serendipitously. We feel lucky for the extra time we’ve been given with her. At the age of 14, she is now in great health and is naughtier than ever. Sometimes I tell her: “ANGEL! CALM DOWN OR I WILL SHOVE THAT TUMOUR BACK INSIDE YOU!” Ha! Seriously though, thank goodness for her fluffy face and getting to keep loving her up.
We got to experience another “life crisis” first this year… we were evacuated!
In November, a bushfire became out of control near our acreage, and we were evacuated for three days.
It was really bloody intense, and happened so fast. We saw smoke, and didn’t know what was happening. Beth was standing outside with us, wearing only swimming togs as we were supposed to be going to the pool. She was crying because of the smoke, and I was trying to calm her while we worked out what was happening and what we should do. As we stood outside, neighbours pulled up and told us it was close and very large, and they were evacuating. So we jumped in the car too, with barely a change of clothes and nothing useful. I managed to bring litres of kombucha though! You really don’t think straight in emergencies.
It was only 40 minutes from the time we saw the smoke to the roads being closed down. We evacuated, but didn’t get government text messages to evacuate until we were out. The roads were so smoky, full of evacuees and emergency services.
I got teary – while we were all running from the fire, emergency services were running towards it. I can’t believe their sacrifice and bravery.
We drove to pick up our eldest from school. When I told her we were evacuated, she burst into tears and sobbed for a long while.
Evacuation centres were opened, but we didn’t feel we could take Angel there safely – she’s elderly, anti-social and cantankerous around other dogs. Luckily, our lovely friends had already texted us and offered their house to us. It was an absolute blessing. That’s the thing – during all the odd, hard parts of this year, we were saved by the grace of angels. Vets, nurses, generous friends. I feel so very lucky.
It’s very odd to be evacuated though – it feels like a very tense wait in an airport. We mostly listened to the radio for updates, checked our phones for updates, and texted other evacuated friends to check they were okay. Tried to make things as gentle and calm for the kids as we could. Held them as they cried. We slept all curled up together in one room.
The next morning, we drove to the shops to buy some undies, clothes and food. We could tell the other evacuees – we were all bedraggled and shell shocked. Big W lady said most evacuees bought thongs/flip flops – we’d all run away so fast we literally forgot to wear shoes.
That night, we still couldn’t go home and were going stir crazy. A cousin of mine offered up his beach house on Bribie Island to stay at, so we made a last minute decision to drive down there for a change of pace. We are NEEEEVERRRR spontaneous, so it was like the forced evacuation made us free. Who cares where we are? We can’t go home, so let’s go anywhere!
All up, we were evacuated for three days. It was strange coming home – we were still on high alert for a few weeks as there were spot fires and hot temperatures. It’s made climate change and conservation so much more front of mind for me.
And I know I’m not unique in this experience… Australia continues to burn, and so many are evacuated right now right across the country. It’s a crisis, and difficult to understand the extent of it. I’ll talk more about what I’m going to do about it later in this article.
Monthly spa dates. I have a lot of mates on the Sunshine Coast (as I said – it’s full of good peeps!) So much so – I find it difficult to catch up with all of them. Plus I am always trying to fit in more self care. So I decided to batch it all, and organise monthly spa days. I invite about 30 of my local mates, and whoever is free comes along. We go to a local spa who offers spa parties – everyone pays a fee, and we get a 60 minute massage and access to the pool, spa and sauna. We all bring food and drinks, set up camp, and live our best lives for the next 5 hours. We talk shit and laugh hysterically and enter into deeeeep chill. It’s magical, and honestly the BEST idea. Highly recommend doing the same!
This was a year of shifting into a new business model – away from having a membership site (the Academy which I ran for 9 years) and into producing stand-alone e-courses again.
I’ve felt so creatively juiced up, and excited by getting to make so many new courses – all up, I’ve made 6 new full-length courses this year! It’s been such a joy to connect with students and see them get results like this.
Self Sabotage Solution: this is a bonus course I created for students in my Book, E-course and Goal Getter courses!
Lessons learned from what was popular:
Honestly, I never really know how a course is going to go until I launch it. I thought the Anxiety Balm one would have been super popular, but it just didn’t call to people in the same way as my other courses did. I’m still glad I did it though – it’s an important topic and I feel like it was a kind of public service to share about it in the way I did.
I’m a bit surprised that my Money course has been the most popular – I came up with the idea one Friday night and launched it by Monday. I have marketed it more via a webinar, so maybe that is why it’s become so popular. I’ll probably create companion webinars for my other courses too. They are so much fun to do, and peeps seem to get so much out of the free training.
2020 My Shining Year Goals Workbooks
It’s officially a decade since the first edition of My Shining Year goals workbooks were released! I had no idea 10 years ago that those little rainbow worksheets I made for myself to plan my next year in life and business would end up being used by over 350,000 people worldwide.
This year, they were published by Ben Bella publishing house in the US. They are a slightly smaller size than usual – they are more portable plus needed to be reduced in size in order to fit in bookstore shelves!
Me and Chris also worked on new sections for the 2020 workbooks… including my new favourite game show… WHAT WORKED! WHAT DIDN’T!
I’m blooming THRILLED with them, and adore sharing them with the world.
I’m in the midst of my own planning this year, going through the workbooks. It really is one of my favourite rituals and traditions that makes such a difference for the rest of my year.
I go into more detail on this in my Money course, but I have three main business income streams – my e-courses, royalties from my workbooks, plus I still receive money from my doTERRA side business, and I’m an affiliate for a few companies I use like Kajabi. Those are the income streams that fall under our company, plus we have some more that are our private investments.
A few years ago I experimented with having a larger team to cope with business growth. At one point we had about 15 employees I think? I discovered I hated it with a passion – I ended up spending my time managing staff instead of creating, and it broke me. So I downsized in order to rightsize my business. It was blooming HARD at the time, but I’m now well and truly back in my sweet spot. I have one part-time VA who largely manages herself. She does all customer service, and some admin. And my time is focussed on creating, marketing and strategy, which very much is my sweet spot.
I still earn about as much profit (just under 7 figures). I think I can manage this kind of extreme profit business working 10 hours a week or so for two reasons:
I adhere pretty strictly to Pareto’s Principle that 20% of effort creates 80% of income. So I worked out what tasks are profit-generating, and I chop the rest (i.e. the 80% of effort that only creates 20% of results).
I have the right business model. I don’t have physical products, I don’t manufacture. I used to self-publish my workbooks by printing them in China and having 3 distribution houses shipping. It was fascinating to learn, but HOLY FUCK was it time consuming, costly and stressful. It also required so much more staffing. It just wasn’t the right business model for me. So now I have a publishing deal, and work with a company who prints them for me. It’s not as profitable doing it this way, but it frees me up to create income in other ways. I’m much happier doing it this way!
In other staffing news, Chris (my loverrrrrrrrr/husband) still does all the layout for the workbooks and other acts of tech slavery. He says working with me is fine, but the sexual harassment from his boss is a bit hard to take at times. I told him to make an official complaint to 1-800-SHUT UP AND KISS ME.
I’m massssively in the mood for simplification in my business now. I’ve built my business over years and years, hodge-podging together lots of different software solutions for different areas of my business. It got so complicated it was difficult to execute anything. For example, to create a webinar, I previously would have had to create an opt-in page using Leadpages, and get it to link to Infusionsoft (my previous email marketing software) and create tags and an auto-responder sequence from scratch. Infusionsoft would need to link back to landing pages on my website, and then I’d need to use video conferencing software to run the whole thing. Consequently, it was so complicated I either had to outsource it to staff to do, or just… no do it because I was so confused. Then, to sell a new e-course, it was even harder – I had to set it up in Infusionsoft to sell via our shopping cart software and integrate with a WordPress plugin. Fuck.dis.shit.
I wanted to feel empowered in my business again – like I could just have an idea and RUN with it, and make it happen simply and easily without complication or interference or staff needed.
I ended up transitioning to an all-in-one online business platform called Kajabi.
Here’s a list of what I got to kill off because I moved to Kajabi:
Kajabi has a shit tonne of features:
I can sell e-courses, products or even a membership platform again
I can do webinars and opt-ins super easily – it’s all integrated, and it will even create the email templates for me.
It’s not perfect – for example, it’s email marketing system could probably be a bit more customisable, and email deliverability rates are about 1% behind ConvertKit, but its benefits are so huge they outweigh any issues completely for me.
I’m just so glad I’ve been able to get back to coming up with ideas and executing them super quickly by myself.
I’ve donated to a large number of charities over the years – built a library in Vietnam through Room to Read, helped build a school in West Ghana through Pencils of Promise, I’m in the top 1% of Kiva lenders worldwide and donated to loads more from WWF to Red Cross to World Vision. I donated over $40,000 to an orphanage. I want to share publicly here as well: as I learn more about racial justice, I increasingly feel more uncomfortable with supporting orphanages. More info here, here, here and here.
This year I made the decision to make a change with my philanthropic work.
I decided to centre my philanthropy going forward on climate change and the environment. It’s the place that I feel is the highest priority going forward, and feel passionate about.
I did a huge website and brand redesign… we’re entering final development now so hopefully should be out early 2020!
As part of the redesign, I did a photoshoot with Eyes of Love. I was freaking STOKED with the images we created, and have been using them all year long for my projects. Plus, I adore Michelle and Jacko. Total champions!
I used a coach for 3 months which was totally helpful in helping strategise my next steps in business. I haven’t used a coach since 2012 as I’m pretty self-directed, so it was a change to use one! I used Brigit Esselmont, and she was bonza. Brigit is also a mate of mine who lives close by, and I really just wanted an opportunity to pick her brain more.
I used a daily accountability buddy. Basically – me and one of my closest mates would FB message each other our daily to do list, and check-in once we were done, or if we were stuck. It definitely helped!
In rounding up…
Even though there were some challenges this year with family health and bushfires, I feel really freaking lucky with my family. I feel grounded and grateful to be back on land. I am SO freaking relieved we’ve found a schooling method that is working beautifully for us. I’m so glad we’re here, doing our best, turning up, together.
Business was a real blessing and joy this year. I feel more creatively in my flow than I have in a long time, and that feels super exciting. It’s been a ray full of gladness to reconnect with myself and what I want to share with the world, and connect with the beautiful souls who are called to be a part of my offerings.
What’s next for 2020?
More of the same. More new e-courses. More live rounds of the e-courses I’ve already created. More workbooks. More free webinars. More creativity and sharing in all its forms.
More philanthropy. More looking at ways I can reduce my impact on the earth.
More grounding. More art. More friendship. More self care. And more family adventures.
That all feels very good.
I’m sending you so much love, right where you are.
Today, let’s talk about how to deal with the fear of failure when creating.
When it comes to writing, you might find yourself spending a lot of time THINKING about writing, AVOIDING writing, TALKING about writing and feeling BLOCKED when finally sitting down to actually write.
See how time consuming it is already… and there’s STILL no writing being done?
After working with thousands of creatives over the last 15 years or so, I know that one of the biggest reasons for avoiding creativity is that we are being held hostage by fear.
The act of creating can bring up so many fears:
“Who am I to write this book?”
“Can I REALLY do this?”
“I don’t have anything original to say!”
“What if it’s terrible? What if I try my hardest and it isn’t good enough?”
“What will my parents/partner/children/friends/business colleagues think? What if they think I am untalented or ridiculous? What if they roll their eyes at my book?”
“I’m not an expert! I’m an imposter and this book will be evidence of that!”
“What if this hurts or negatively affects any of my family/friends?”
“There are so many other things I should be doing instead of creating. I’m a terrible person/wife/mother if I spend my time writing instead of taking care of other people!”
“I do NOT have time to write. There’s no way I can fit this in!”
And on and on and on…
The excuses seem endless. The fears seem insurmountable.
NO FREAKING WONDER IT TAKES SO LONG TO WRITE A BOOK!
But here’s the thing:
Writing a book actually doesn’t TAKE that long.
The actual writing process can be pretty fast when you’re not spending your time dicking about with fears. It’s why I’ve been able to write books in a month in a couple of hours a day.
So let’s talk about how to get rid of the fear so you can actually get to writing!
Here’s some practical ways to get your fears to shush it so you can become hugely more productive and actually get your book DONE.
#1: Give your fear another job to do.
Write it a letter.
“Possum, I get it. You are trying to keep me safe. I so appreciate how much you care about me. However, you’re not helping me in doing the thing I need and want to do right now. Instead, can you please help by doing this VERY IMPORTANT JOB i.e. guarding my writing time/using my subconscious powers to find the answer to world peace/whispering love songs to my cells as I work. Thank you so much darling. Let’s go make miracles together.”
For example, when I wrote the 40,000 word compendium that became my Double Your Biz e-course, I set myself a month to do it.
#3: Give yourself even smaller, sharper daily deadlines in a compressed writing period.
That deadline for my Double Your Biz compendium? My daily goal became very simple: write 3,000 words before sunset. I was sick with hyperemesis gravidarum, and had a short window in the afternoon where I could sit upright. By the time the sunset, I would be ill again. So I needed to write as much as I could in that short time window.
You don’t have to be ill to do the same however. If I was doing it again now, I would set aside 1-2 hours a day with a word limit to have reached.
#4: Fuck the distractions.
I use a Self Control app on my computer to stop me from me being able to access time wasting websites while I’m working. Facebook, Youtube, Buzzfeed, gossip websites are what I tend to find myself visiting when I am avoiding doing something. Using an external boundary to prevent me is a massive time saver. I also don’t keep my phone in my office to prevent the Instagram scroll from happening.
Tell someone – or as many people as you can – that you are writing a book, you want to write # of words and that the deadline is _________. It’s incredibly motivating, and I always get that much more done when I know I’m being watched!
I have a friend who wants to write more poetry. She asked me to be her writing accountability partner. I agreed, and asked her to define what success looked like. Writing more poetry is a really vague goal, and you won’t know if you are being successful at it or not. She had a think and decided her goal was to write poetry for 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Which was awesome – it was something I could hold her accountable to, and it was a very real, concrete action she could take and know she was completing her intention.
#6: Remember it is NOT your job to second guess yourself. Your job is to create.
I deeply believe that our stories need to be heard. That the things that are inside us – our journey, our experience, our wisdom, our gold – are great gifts that are needed in the world. Our stories can heal us as we write them, and they can heal others when they read them.
I believe that when you have an idea for a book, it is a divinely ordained request from the angels. They know that this creation is needed in order to help and heal the world. And so they plant the seed with you, in the hope you will birth it into the world.
With this kind of divine ordinance at play, who are we NOT to create? When the world needs the soul gold that lives inside us, who are we to ignore that mission?
Example Time: This is not about a book. But this is about a divine writing mission.
A few months ago, I had a strange feeling. I knew I was supposed to be writing a letter to someone I barely knew. I knew this person was going through a very difficult time. And I kept having this feeling that if I just opened up a page, and wrote to him, there would be things to say.
I had fears of course: What is this person going to think? Is it going to be the right message? Will I offend their religious beliefs by sharing the message I could hear? And who am I to do this?
But I knew I needed to nonetheless. The angels have blessed me again and again. They have given me so truth and wisdom and creative ideas that have healed me time and time again. Who am I to ignore them on this?
I should say here: I am NOT someone who hears the angels constantly. I only hear them clearly when I am writing. I can take dictation from them. I can occasionally hear them outside of writing – like in a sacred women’s circle, in dreams or in nature. They also came with my daughters’ spirits when both of them wished to be conceived. But that’s by the by. I just wanted to say – I wouldn’t regard myself as being super intuitive, or someone who talks to angels everyday. Reading back over this though, I definitely sound like a MASSIVE HIPPY however. Bahahahaha!
Anyways, the angels had given me a mission. And EVEN THOUGH I was scared, EVEN THOUGH I was not sure how it would be received… I knew I needed to do my job, and turn up, and respond to that divine calling.
I did. I wrote it, sent it, and gave it up to the world. I’d done my job. That was all that was needed.
I got a long email today, months after my mission missive message. It was a beautiful thing, coming full circle. He wrote to tell me what a bad place he had been when he’d received my email, and how my writing him had felt like God was speaking to him, reminding him that he was loved. That it was a touchstone for his healing.
And it was such a blessing, of course, to know that the mission I’d been given had worked as intended. But even if I hadn’t heard from him and hadn’t known the effect it would have, I still would have done the right thing.
The right thing is to create. The right thing is to heed the call of your creative soul and the call of the angels. The feeling you receive from doing it is indescribable. It is the closest to transcendence I have ever come.
The World Needs Us.
It’s time to get out of our own way, and get on with our all important mission.
We need to write our way to our own healing… and let those words free into the world to heal others too.
Fuck the fears. There is too much beauty waiting for us out the other side.