• How to Teach Your Kids to be Respectful and Avoid Abuse #StopItAtTheStart

    10 Things to Do to Prevent Domestic Violence and Promote Respect

    My daughters and I went through abuse. In my first marriage, to their father, there was a lot. After 7.5 years, evidence in 3 states from police, teachers, psychologists and reports made to child protection from those professionals, I secured full custody.

    During that 7.5 years court was difficult but so was dealing with PTSD and assisting my daughters through the process of healing. We had 2 protection orders, the first in 2021 and the most recent one granted in 2019 for 5 years because there was still harassment issues.

    Despite what we went through, one of the most common compliments I get about my kids is how mature and emotionally intelligent they are. They’ve both prevented other friends from suicide, self-harm and gotten them to get help. Both have an above-average level of respect for everyone and understanding of human rights, respect, tolerance and love.

    This comes down to how we handled things after I left my ex-husband and parenting since. In my home, I have some specific things I implemented immediately, none of which take much time or effort. All of which make a significant difference though.

    And for me, when I partnered again, he needed to be on board with all of this. Fortunately, we have the same parenting goals and views so that part has been easier with blending our family.

    What to do With Your Children to Teach Them Respect and Give Them Confidence

    I have no doubt that if I had more confidence, felt unconditional love and knew what to look for that I would not have entered the relationship I did. My marriage happened because I felt and was told that no one else would want me. Abusers prey on this and seek out the weaknesses in people to use against them and gain control.

    As a mother, I have been determined to ensure my daughters never felt this way. I’ve actively sought ways to give them confidence, teach them respect and overall, be stronger and more empowered than I was. They are now both in high school and the difference between them and their peers is phenomenal.

    Since other parents ask me constantly how I did it, here are a few of the most important things.

    Image of some of my family: Justin Saula, Kylie Travers, Halia Travers and Mele Ofiu

    1. Private Conversations

    At any point in time my kids can ask for a private conversation and I either drop what I am doing if I can or will arrange to do it as quickly as possible. When they ask, the other members of the family know to give us space and not interrupt.

    Providing this opportunity to talk, knowing I will make it a priority and it can go for as long as they need has enabled my daughters to discuss things with me their peers do not tell their parents.

    On top of being given privacy to talk, my children know not to ask each other what their private conversation was about. They have been taught from a young age to respect each other. However, most of the time, after a conversation with myself or my partner, my kids open up to each other without any prompting.

    By having this space and support, they feel confident that no matter what happens, their family will listen, love them and support them. This is crucial for combatting abuse.

    2. Open Conversations

    Along with private conversations, my kids can ask anything. No conversation is forbidden. Some of the conversations might be uncomfortable but knowing they can ask anything has seen them ask me everything instead of relying on Google or peers. They still ask their peers as well but for the most part, if they hear or see something they don’t understand, they simply ask me.

    This goes for anything including sex. I answer age-appropriately so as not to scar them for life. Also, if they ask specifics about my life in that area, I ask them to really think if that is something they want to know about their mother or if it was simply a question they blurted out.

    By asking them to think about it, I am not rejecting any question. I am redirecting though and giving them the opportunity to think things through fully. There are topics I won’t discuss but it is done in a manner where they feel they made the choice for it not to be discussed. Thus, open communication is still there.

    These conversations usually happen in the car or during one on one time when we go to the beach or hike.

    3. Turn The Radio Off

    We love music and often have it playing in the home and car. However, I also turn it off sometimes and we chat in the car. In the car, kids don’t have to look at you and for teenagers, this can be a huge relief.

    If they have had a bad day, they can get in the car, the radio goes off and they can talk without feeling pressured and without feeling stared at. Some of our most important conversations have happened on a drive.

    4. One On One Time

    As mentioned, some big conversations also happen during one on one time. One on one time doesn’t need to be a huge production or special date to a cafe. It can be as simple as you doing face masks and manicures together, which for me, I do weekly anyway.

    When I was running a marketing company and travelling a lot for speaking, I looked at as many ways as I could to have one on one time with my kids. This time fills their bucket, it makes them feel loved unconditionally and that they matter.

    Since I was time poor, one on one time often fell into something that had another purpose. The face masks and manicures is one example. Cooking dinner together (one child one night, another child another night), doing groceries as just us and getting a treat they’d eat in the car before their sibling saw. Using the time one was at an extracurricular activity to spend time with the other one.

    We all have more opportunities than we think to spend one on one time with our kids and make them feel special. It is all about how you approach it. Make it about doing something special just the two of you and it doesn’t matter what it is.

    5. Family Fun NIght

    This used to be Friday Family Fun Night. we;’d watch a movie, go ice-skating, check out festivals or other activities on a Friday night. Nothing else was booked on that night and my kids knew no matter what, Friday night was just for us.

    It amazed me how many kids at school were jealous of this. They longed for their parents to spend time with them such as this or have family activities. I was shocked how many don’t do it.

    Family Night or a family activity doesn’t have to cost money. Look up free events in your area, head to the beach, go for a bike ride or hike. Get snorkelling gear or sports gear and go do it.

    The main thing is that kids have a set time every week they know is for us. The stability of this and the connections formed as a result build confidence and respect.

    6. Family Dinner

    We eat dinner as a family every night. For Justin and me, this is an essential part of the day and our family. Meals are sometimes prepared together, other times we take turns. The table is usually set by all of us and we sit down together for our meal.

    Preparing together, taking that time out of our day is often when a lot of conversations happen or the kids show us funny stuff they have learnt, random things they have seen on YouTube and the things happening at school. Even our baby loves this as he watches his sisters act out their day or tell us things in their animated, excited manner.

    Sitting down to eat, we do Grateful and Compliments (see the next two points).

    7. Grateful

    Each night, as soon as we all have our meal ready to eat, we start grateful. One of us starts while the rest of us eat and we take it in turns sharing 3 things we are grateful for. My kids look for things to be grateful for all day to share at dinner and sometimes they don’t want to stop at 3 (they don’t have to).

    This doesn’t mean they can’t have a bad day or share the bad with us at other times. At dinner though, starting with grateful and having that attitude throughout the day has definitely helped shift thought patterns.

    8. Compliments

    After grateful, we compliment each other. The aim is to catch the other family members doing something good, recognising it and complimenting them about it. It has been interesting to hear the things our kids have noticed about each other and us. Kids see more than you think and if the aim in the family is to find the good in each other, we don’t dwell on the bad as much.

    9. Other Mentors/Family/Adults

    It takes a village. Kids won’t always want to open up to their parents so it is important to provide other trusted adults in their lives they can turn to. Whether that person is an aunty, uncle, close family member or friend, it doesn’t matter. Your kids need someone they can pour their heart out to and know they won’t get in trouble.

    My daughters have a few people they can contact and know it won’t get back to me. That said, they are open with me so both say they don’t feel the need but appreciate they have the option. Unless it is life-threatening or dangerous, I trust these other adults to manage the situation or thoughts and to judge if they need to tell me.

    Knowing they can vent to someone or express concerns has made a big difference to my kids.

    10. Professional Help

    You can’t do it all alone. My kids had play therapy, counselling and other assistance from professionals as needed. They also know they can request it with no questions asked at any time. Professionals are there for a reason and if you children need any help, it is better to get it rather than having your kids bury their feelings. When people feel they have no one to talk to and nowhere to turn, that is when things can turn dangerous quickly.

    As a parent, you can do a lot to shape your children, provide unconditional love and a safe place. 

    Image of Halia Travers and Mele Ofiu on a family hike
  • 20 Ways to Build Self Confidence

    How to Build Confidence

    Have you ever noticed how successful people seem really confident? Do you struggle with confidence in yourself or your ideas?

    I come across as confident and there are many things I am confident about in my life. I wasn’t always this way though. I do not know anyone who is confident all the time, however, the successful people I know don’t let failure or fear stop them. They embrace it and use that nervous energy to push them forward.

    Instead of dwelling on what could go wrong, they focus on what could go right. If they are nervous before going on stage they use that nervous energy and jump around or dance before going on stage. It gets them pumped instead of scared.

    Building confidence can be a slow process. I had none when I was married, then after I started blogging and I was offered opportunities like a book contract, speaking and freelance writing my confidence grew.

    I want to make it clear, that while the tips I am about to give help me, if you have severe anxiety or other underlying issues, I highly recommend professional help. Whether it is a hotline to get started or a full counsellor, psychologist or similar, it is ok to get help. I have many times in my life when I felt I needed to. 

    20 ways to build confidence

    To gain more confidence, try some of the following methods.

    1. Know Your Purpose

    Know why you are doing something. Having a strong sense of purpose gives you the confidence to keep going when things get hard. If there is no purpose behind what you do, there is no strong motivation to keep going.

    2. Write a List of Things you like About Yourself

    Sit down with a pen and paper and list out things you like about yourself. The first time I did it I aimed for 100 things I like about myself. It was extremely difficult as I had severe depression at the time. I started with 10, then did the next 10 and the next until I reach 100.

    Starting with simple things such as “I have great eyebrows because they are shaped nicely naturally and I don’t have to wax them” made it easier. Followed by “I have long eyelashes that curl up” and “I am good at helping other people”.

    I thought about things others said about me and asked close, trusted family members and friends what they thought my strengths were, what they liked about me. By listening to compliments people gave me, I realised my strengths. I was careful with where I sourced the compliments and only listed ones from people I trusted who I knew were honest and genuine.

    Once I had my list I made a few copies to place in various locations as a reminder of my qualities and values when I felt low. I put one in my wallet, one on my bedroom wall, one on my computer, and took a picture to keep on my phone.

    At times I struggled to believe they were all true. As I read them and thought about examples of each thing such as a time I helped someone or the discussion with a family member about the qualities they admired in me, this list became more believable and eventually I stopped needing it.

    3. Have a Daily Affirmation

    I mention affirmations a few things throughout this book because they are powerful. Affirmations are not simply about repeating a quote or line to make you feel good. Affirmations are meant to change your mindset and create a genuine belief within yourself based on the affirmation.

    One of my favourite quotes that I use as an affirmation is “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ~Carl Jung.

    I repeat this to myself whenever I need a pep talk.

    4. Write a List of Your Achievements

    Similar to the list of things you like about yourself a list of achievements can help you see how amazing you are, the impact you have had on the world, and why you should be confident in yourself and your abilities.

    Achievements are not limited to awards. Recently when I was looking for ideas for my bucket list I was reading through other people’s lists and was surprised by how much on other people’s lists I have done.

    I didn’t think I had done much, but when I wrote down some of these things I was amazed and quite proud of my achievements.

    5. When Someone Gives you a Compliment, Accept It!

    Don’t talk it down. If someone says they like your top/shoes don’t say “this old thing, oh, it’s nothing” just say “Thank you, I love it too.” You can compliment them back, but stop putting yourself, your things, or your work down.

    6. Change Your Mental Dialogue

    We are our own worst critics. Whenever you start to think negatively about yourself, whip out your list of things you like about yourself or the list of compliments and read it. If you are not in a position to do that just change what you are thinking. It can be hard at first, but try to remember your achievements. Think of your daily positive affirmation and repeat it in your head.

    7. Make Self-Care a Priority

    I see many women guilty of putting themselves last. I spent years putting myself last, not going to the beauty salon despite it making me feel so much better. I felt bad if I spent money on clothes or things I wanted. I allowed myself to get frumpy, overweight, and lack confidence.

    Part of this was because of the abusive marriage I was in. I was too scared to stand up for myself. When we got married he stopped me wearing pink or pretty lingerie because he didn’t want other men looking at me. He felt I looked too good in pink. I was not allowed to talk to other men and because of the way we ate, I gradually put on more and more weight. He made me feel like no one else would want me. I was depressed, unhealthy, unsure of myself and undesirable.

    Because of this, I stopped dressing in clothes I liked, often didn’t do my hair or make-up, neglected my health and put myself last.

    When I divorced, one of the first things I did was overhaul my look. I am fortunate that my sister, Jac Lambert, is a personal stylist, designer, make-up artist and has a keen eye for all of that naturally. She helped me find my style which boosted my confidence. 

I started booking in monthly to go to the salon and scheduled time with myself for other beauty maintenance such as regular facials, body scrubs and things at home. I started putting myself first and my confidence grew as a result.

    Stop telling yourself you aren’t worth it. You are. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel happy with your health, mind and body. Take care of yourself.

    Check out how to have the ultimate work life balance and how and why to prioritise yourself.

    20 ways to build confidence (1)

    8.) Watch your body language

    Our body language is a clear indication of our level of confidence. Sitting or standing with our legs crossed, our shoulders hunched or our arms in our lap are all submissive poses. You are trying to make yourself smaller than the other person.

    If you want to be confident, act confident. Use strong, confident body language such as a superhero pose – hands on hips, shoulders back, legs apart. Stand tall, with good posture. Claim and own the space you are in. Not only does it increase your confidence, but it is also better for your overall health.

    9. Focus On Your Health

    Aside from self-care, you need to focus on your health. Drink enough water every day, sleep properly, exercise. All these things are recommended because they matter. When I work out, even if it is just a 10-minute yoga routine in the morning, I feel so much better about myself and am more likely to take better care of myself during the day too.

    Focus on your health. Work out what you need to do, take it one day at a time and implement small changes to improve your health. You don’t need to be perfect all the time, any change in the right direction is better than nothing. The more you do, the more you will be motivated to do as well.

    10. Music

    Music is powerful, it can change your mood completely. Look how music is used in movies and the media to convey emotion, make you sympathetic to the victim, get your blood pumping in dramatic action scenes or scare you in a horror film. Music impacts your mind.

    Start taking note of how music makes you feel and create a confidence playlist to use when you need a boost. I have playlists for motivation, working out, cleaning and certain songs I play before I go on a stage to speak. Music can help you overcome fears and project a sense of confidence.

    11. Act It

    Being happy, smiling and giving compliments will make you feel better about yourself and it makes thinking positively a whole lot easier. There used to be days I would dread doing certain things. By making a decision to act positive, try to think about things in a positive way or try to find things to be grateful for, over the course of the day I felt happier and more confident about what I was doing.

    That said, there are some days this just did not cut it. And that’s ok. Accept how you feel, if you can change it great, if not, take care of yourself and try again the next day.

    12. Be Prepared

    Know what it is you are doing or talking about. We all have to start somewhere when learning, so accept which stage you are at, learn as much as you possibly can and be prepared. When you know what you are talking about or have to do you are a lot more confident than if you don’t know.

    With public speaking, I could confidently get up on stage and discuss homelessness, domestic violence, going from homeless to CEO, motivation, my personal story, social media, blogging, blog monetisation and goal setting because these are topics I know a lot about, I speak on often and I am confident in them.

    I prepare beforehand, I have key points, I refresh my memory with current statistics as needed and know that when I get up I have prepared myself as much as I can. If I was to simply get up on stage without preparation I would fail miserably, have no confidence and everyone would see right through. Preparation is key.

    13. Be True To Yourself

    What are your standards/principles/values? What do you live by? Without principles, we have no guidelines or direction for our life. No direction is no reason for confidence since you aren’t working towards anything. When you have direction and aim you are more confident because you know what you are doing.

    14. Do Something you Love or are Good at

    Whatever it is, do it regularly – painting, dancing, singing, cooking, fixing things, anything. Doing something you love and doing it regularly gives you positive feelings about yourself and what you are doing. These positive feelings can then overflow into other areas of your life. The happier you are and the more you achieve, the more confidence you will have.

    20 ways to build confidence (2)

    15. Meditate

    When you are busy, overwhelmed and distracted it is easier to lose confidence than it is when you are calm, in control and feel secure within yourself. Take time out each day to meditate in whatever form you are most comfortable with. Getting centred regularly enables you to clear your mind, focus and feel more confident.

    16. Set Some Goals and Achieve Them

    To begin with, it might be something simple like pay your bills, or a to-do list such as groceries, banking, return library books, etc… Set it and complete it. Having goals gives you something to strive for.

    Starting small gives you mini confidence boosts when you achieve them. Having big goals to work towards gives you direction. Don’t make goals so big you will not be able to achieve them though. If you break them up into sub-goals, every time you achieve one of those sub-goals you are a success.

    Check out 10 steps to success with goals for more information.

    17. Recognise What Makes you Feel Insecure

    Take note of your feelings doing certain things. What makes your confidence waiver? Why are you insecure about it? What can you do to change it? I am insecure about dancing because of an incident that happened when I was a teenager. I have taken dance classes since and done well. The thought of dancing in a group or in public at all strikes fear into my heart. I dance with my daughters in private at home, that is pretty much it. This is something I am still working on.

    18. Keep Good Posture

    Standing up straight and ensuring your back is straight makes you look confident plus as mentioned further up, it is confident body language. When you are projecting confidence you can’t help but be confident. Keeping good posture improves health as well.

    19. Get Rid of Toxic People in Your Life

    What are toxic people? They are the ones who are always negative; leave you questioning yourself and what you are doing. They don’t encourage you, they just tear you down. They are often people who have been in our lives for quite a while, so we don’t realise how bad they are for us.

    Also, they are NOT really friends. Backhanded compliments are common with people like this. Everything is all about them and they leave you feeling drained. You do not need that in your life. They chip away at you and bring you down.

    20. Focus

    When you are focused you are studying, getting to know what you need to do, and doing it. This leads to achievements and success which boosts your confidence-boosting!

    What do you to do improve your confidence?
    You might also like:
    An interview with me about confidence
    10 ways to motivate yourself
    Time saving tips
    Weight is irrelevant! Stop weighing yourself and drop dress sizes
    How to stop feeling overwhelmed and stop overloading yourself (lessons from my body shutting down.)
    Originally posted on October 13, 2010. Revised and republished May 6th, 2021. 

  • How to Deal with Eating Disorders and Confidence Issues

    How do you Deal with Eating Disorders, Increase Confidence and Create Abundance?

    If you struggle with eating disorders, please seek professional help. Butterfly Foundation is fantastic 1800 33 4673. They alson have online chat.

    While I appear confident, I have struggled with body image issues, a strong eating disorder that started in childhood and a few other issues for years. I’ve overcome a lot (domestic violence, homelessness, paralysis, PTSD, my daughters’ autism etc) with the help of various treatments including therapy, alternative therapies and of course, a strong support network.

    I was skilled at hiding my eating and body issues. No one I dated or was in a relationship with seemed to notice or worry about it, I hid it well from my family because I had a full lifestyle as a teen (religious studies before school, went to school then work so not many meals with the family) but that changed.

    For me, the eating and body issues are not only about how I see myself (I often see myself as significantly bigger than I am), it’s about control. When my life is spiralling out of control, I automatically go into a deprivation mode of starvation because it is something I can control. Having control over something when facing extreme obstacles is my response. Aiming to control and restrict eating is not a healthy coping mechanism though and one I need to unlearn.

    What Prompted My Change?

    In 2019, I was in a new relationship, we were travelling together and he noticed quickly. Coming from a developing country (Vanuatu) and having spent years in one of the least developed countries where we met (Solomon Islands), food was important to him. Healthy food, ensuring you eat well and take care of your body are priorities.

    Last year, I was pregnant and had our baby in January 2021. Numerous health issues plagued the pregnancy making it extremely difficult – a heart murmur, gestational diabetes, fainting and more. It was the mental aspect that was harder though. My changing body, not being capable of normal exercise because of my health issues and some personal matters relating to it all were hard to handle.

    My daughters are now 12 and 13, old enough to notice everything. This plus the pregnancy forced me to make changes and evaluate why I am doing what I do. I need to be an example to them the same way I have in other areas of our lives.

    So on here, I will be sharing what I am doing, methods that help me and the link between these issues and other issues I have faced such as domestic and gender-based violence, business ups and downs, paralysis and more.

    Different times I have struggled with my body image, health and eating issues.

    Health, Wealth, Mindset and the Links

    I don’t have all the answers to overcoming eating disorders, increasing confidence or abundance and wealth. My experiences are varied though and I am constantly learning. Since I have been open about other obstacles, after discussing it with my partner, I decided to share my experience here as it all links up.

    In my own life, along with a lot of research and learning, the connection between health, wealth and every area of our lives is huge. Personally, when I am confident in myself, love myself and doing well, my finances grow, my health increases and it is easy to stay on track. When my self esteem plummets, everything else drops as well and it is hard to get out of the place.

    My paralysis, both times, I know was caused by stress and mental issues. Using You Can Heal Your Life and mindfulness practices, I was able to heal myself despite what the doctors were telling me.

    I know for a fact, if I had been confident, mentally and physically healthy, I would not have gone into the abusive relationship I did. My depression was extreme, I felt no one else would love me and despite a few red flags, I got married. Abuse eroded what little self-esteem I had, as did his desire for me to look like an adult entertainment worker.

    Eventually, with a new career, a boost of confidence because I was a finalist for an international award, I finally left that marriage after a specific incident. In the following years, I learnt a lot about myself, grew my confidence and became quite successful, winning multiple awards, raising money for charity, sharing my story, founding then selling a company and more.

    Knowing all of this, I will be learning and applying what I can, sharing it here and being transparent. This goes for all areas, the eating issues, confidence, relationships and finances, since they are all linked.

    My Main 2021 Goals

    When I dedicate time for myself, it is amazing what can be accomplished. 2019 I declared the year of me and it is phenomenal the changes. I went to the Solomon Islands a few times, got my diving certification thanks to Dive Munda, re-partnered when I never thought I would and travelled a lot. The Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Austria, Slovenia, South East Australia etc. I secured full custody of my daughters, a 5-year protection order, went back to the gym and worked with a personal trainer, took up a dance class and basically, lived the life we wanted.

    In 2021, with the freedom I have now because I have custody, I am more focused. My aim in 2019 was to get through while increasing self-care as I had neglected myself so much. Now, it is about healing properly, not just covering my issues with ‘self-care’ and feel good things.

    My areas of focus are:

    Mentally Improve and Deal with my Eating/Body Issues – As mentioned above, this has plagued me for years and I am now focused on being my best self.

    Regain my Feminine Energy and Confidence – One of my favourite compliments has always been about my energy. The person I am, caring, giving, open, curious, understanding etc. The best compliment was “You are like Christmas!” as in, I light everyone up because of the energy I bring. Over the past 2 years, with custody, numerous obstacles and my eating/body issues, this has shrunk.

    Live For Me – I get lost in others easily then neglect myself or put myself last. This year, my goals are around taking care of myself, doing things I love or have always wanted to such as skydiving, getting my advanced diving certification etc. I am a better mother, partner and person when I take care of myself.

    Slow Changes and Realisations

    By 2020, my partner and I had been travelling together for months. New Year’s Eve set the tone for that year. Being evacuated from bushfires in Jervis Bay was just the beginning. Within a couple of weeks, 2 close family members died in Vanuatu and we needed to return. As we were leaving, Sydney had massive storms and chaos causing delays and issues. In Vanuatu, the world was starting to change but we needed to go to the Solomon Islands to sort child custody for my partner and a few other things.

    While on an outer island, the borders closed. We set up home in Honiara, Solomon Islands and awaited repatriation then got hit by Cyclone Harold. During this time, my websites were hacked, I lost 70% of my income, my health suddenly declined rapidly and I was told if I wanted more kids (which we did) it needed to be now. When repatriation came up, we were able to go to Queensland and set up home again after quarantine and it turned out I was already pregnant.

    My pregnancy had numerous issues with my heart, passing out, gestational diabetes and more. In the end, I had a healthy 3.935kg boy on January 10, 2021. A smooth, natural birth and all the health issues I had during pregnancy left instantly. Except my body image and eating issues. During the pregnancy, I ate because I was pregnant but it was hard. It was then that I knew, once he was born, I needed to focus on myself more and create a solid foundation of self-love, confidence and abundance to match the amazing life we have.

    Which brings us to now.

    2021 – Focus on Health, Eating Disorder, Body Issues, Confidence and Business

    Those are quite a few things to focus on but most of it overlaps. My main focus is my health, both mind and body because if I can’t get my mind right, the rest of me will not be ok.

    As an example, below is an image of Justin (my partner) and I a few months after we met. I was stressed out of my mind going through child custody and getting another protection order. Despite eating healthy at that point, going to the gym and doing a dance class, I could not lose any weight which also stressed me out. The other image is me, 2 weeks postpartum and doing much better mentally. I have custody of my daughters, just had my son, my partner is supportive and I know what I want.

    Justin Saula and Kylie Travers at Tenaru Falls, Solomon Islands. Kylie Travers at Sunshine Beach, Queensland.

    Our bodies can hold so much weight and create various health issues when we are holding onto stress. Unfortunately for me, because my body held so much, I later resorted to what I knew to lose weight instead of reducing my stress levels – starvation.

    Dealing with and Overcoming an Eating Disorder and Body Image Issues

    My family are incredibly supportive and the reason I could hide this well was because of our lifestyle. In high school, I was out of the house at 6am for seminary (I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). From seminary I went to school, after school was often sports or working at Woolworths. I’d be home after dinner so often my daily meals were not with my family and easy to skip. Plus, even if dinner was left, I had siblings more than willing to eat it if I didn’t want to eat (I am 1 of 9 kids!)

    Growing up, my older and younger siblings were slimmer than me, I got teased at school and by high school, I had perfected starving myself without too many people noticing.

    In previous relationships, my eating issues slid under the radar pretty well. I was able to hide a lot of it or they simply didn’t care. This time is different. Justin pays attention to me and supports me in everything. So the eating and body image issues were extremely obvious to him.

    Below is a good example of the past few years and my thoughts/feelings.

    Picture 1: Canberra 2015 – I thought I was fat and was still trying to lose another 5 to 10kg! I had paralysis and level 10 pain issues so couldn’t work out. As such, starving was the ‘easiest’ option.
    Picture 2: Cairns 2017, I felt so fat here and was struggling to lose weight.
    Picture 3: Tenaru Falls, 2019 -I hate this picture because I had been working with a personal trainer for 4 months, gym 3 to 4 times a week, a dance class, tracking what I eat and yet had not lost any weight, not a cm, nothing. And there is Justin, super buff, fully defined six pack etc.
    Picture 4: Savu Savu 2019 – only a few months after picture 3, I had finally won custody so stress eased considerably and the weight dropped even though I was no longer at the gym etc.
    Picture 5: Mele Bay, 2019 – When I first saw this photo I loved it as I felt I looked healthier. Within seconds someone commented “You should do planks” and ever since I cannot look at this photo without hating myself.
    Picture 6: Noosa, 2020 – until I saw this, I hadn’t realised how much weight I had lost. I did it through starvation in the islands though. Not healthy at all and once I was pregnant I was sick so it was hard to eat much.

    Having Support

    Early on, Justin noticed my issues and he cared about it. He felt awful I was doing this to myself and wanted to help. He took it upon himself to ask me every morning what I wanted for breakfast and he would make it for me. It was never pushed, simply encouraged or on offer. 2 years on and he still does this.

    As we travelled and it was clear how much I was struggling with it all, even more once I got pregnant, he continued to reassure me he is in it for the long haul and wants to help. By learning what he could, being open to discussing, not judging and simply providing healthy meals, whether I ate them or not, I feel supported and am working harder to overcome this.

    I opened up to some of my family recently about it too. This is not something you can overcome without support. And I’ve seen how it directly impacts other areas of my life from finance through to my parenting. I do not want my daughters having issues because of me.

    How I will Overcome/Manage my Eating and Body Issues

    Where to start? There are so many options, resources etc. If you are struggling with similar issues, the first step is professional help. Someone who specialises in eating disorders and body issues can help you process things, deal with traumas, triggers and find coping mechanisms.

    I like alternative methods too such as hypnotherapy, kinesiology, meditation etc. Justin gifted me these sessions for Valentine’s Day too as he knows my tendency to put myself last, budget for everything for the kids but skip out on my own needs. They are booked in thanks to him.

    I’ll be using all methods as well as reinstating my regular routines. When I am practising my morning routine and doing some other things which make me feel good, my body and eating issues are not such a problem.

    Justin is going to continue with cooking and assisting me there. Too often, it feels so hard to prepare meals when I am mentally not coping.

    My aim is body neutrality, not so much body positivity. I don’t want to be happy with myself at an unhealthy weight/size. How strong my body is, what it is capable of and achieving goals such as breaking my rowing speed record matter more to me than being super skinny. To do that, I need to fix my myself mentally.

    Focus On Mental Health

    Over the years I have learnt my stress levels have the greatest impact on my health and weight. As such, this is my main focus rather than working out. I downloaded an app to track my habits and put in ones which I know help me significantly.

    While I only just started this again, the difference on the days I do the following vs the days I don’t is huge.

    Ho’oponopono

    A daily practice of ho’oponopono does wonders for me. It’s a Hawaiian forgiveness practice which helps you clear out old beliefs, forgive and move on. When we are struggling mentally it’s often because we are hung up on something past or present and replaying it in our minds.

    Two of my favourite books, Unleash Your Inner Money Babe and Lucky Bitch discuss this method. Essentially you write a list of things you need to forgive. Then go through each one, feel the emotions behind it and say:
    I forgive you (some say please forgive me)
    I’m sorry
    Thank you
    I love you

    It’s about forgiving yourself and everything around the situation, apologising for holding it for so long, being thankful for the lesson and sending it love.

    Daily Gratitude

    Write 3 things you are grateful for in your journal every day. Every night at dinner we go around the table and all say 3 things we are grateful for as well as a compliment for each member of the family. I also aim to write at least 3 things I am grateful for every day.

    When I am struggling, I aim for 10 or 25 things I am grateful for because it shifts your mindset. Being grateful or thankful opens up your mind and gets you away from the negative self talk.

    Daily Meditation

    Sometimes this is yoga, sometimes a walk on the beach or other times a guided meditation. Whatever works for you. It doesn’t need to be hours long. Most of the time, I aim for at least 10 minutes but if I have more time, I feel the difference when I can do 20 to 30 minutes instead.

    Mini Workout

    Once I get the all clear next week at my 6 week check up, I’ll be doing more. Right now, it’s been mini workouts. Even 10 minutes of yoga on a busy day or going for a walk will help. You need to get moving and personally, I feel the difference when I get out side for a walk vs being stuck inside all day. A workout in the morning sets up my day for success.

    Read for at Least 10 Minutes

    My goal for 2021 is to read 52 books which I am sharing on The Thrifty Issue. A minimum of 10 minutes reading a day helps me stay focused and clear my mind. Most of my reading is non-fiction so I am constantly learning.

    Create My Miracle Routines

    I first learnt about a Miracle Morning in 2015 but realised I already had a similar practice. Over the past 2 years, with travelling then repatriation to Australia, those habits fell by the wayside.

    My ideal morning consists of the above mental health things, drinking 1L of water first thing and getting some time with my kids before they go to school. If I can do that, my whole day goes better.

    Of an evening, I like to wind down by writing in my journal, being grateful, a little yoga and meditation. On nights I don’t do this, I don’t sleep well.

    Nutrition, Fitness and Health

    Living next to the beach, health and fitness should be easy but it isn’t always! Getting my nutrition right, exercising healthily and not with an obsession to lose weight plus being healthy overall is a huge leap from where I am right now. One I am determined to make.

    When it comes to nutrition, Justin and my daughters will prepare most of our meals. I have a recipe for a smoothie I am happy to have every morning at the moment, with a fully cooked breakfast as a family on Sundays. Lunches will typically be leftover dinner and our dinners usually come from HelloFresh (get $50 off your first box here) or similar services. My kids love choosing their own recipes and learning to cook with them and I don’t obsess over food as much when I am not having to meal plan or prepare it.

    Fitness will be focused on walking everything, doing my morning yoga, swimming at the beach and getting back into diving. Justin and I love to dive, he is tec qualified, which is specialist trained to go 50 metres deep. I am a beginner and working on my advanced soon followed by eventually getting to the same level he is. Fortunately, I was able to learn with Dive Munda then during my pregnancy I was able to complete the Science of Diving with them too, which helped a lot.

    Final Notes

    So there you have it, my current obstacle and one I have kept secret. A solid plan to deal with it and I’ll be open about the experience, treatments etc. As well as still sharing about the other topics I have in my life such as business, homelessness, relationships etc.

    Feel free to ask me anything, leave a comment or email if you prefer.

  • How to Set Your Day up for Success – My Morning Routine

    10 Tips to Ensure a Successful Day

    As an entrepreneur, mother, partner and volunteer, my day is busy. It’s easy for life to get overwhelming or become unproductive if I let it. Over the years, I’ve noticed when I follow my morning routine and incorporate certain practices into my day, I am significantly more successful.

    By doing these 10 things, I am calmer, more patient, more productive and better able to handle anything thrown my way. During 2020, I let my morning routine slip as we were travelling in the first part then locked down in the Solomon Islands, repatriated and I fell pregnant with a complicated pregnancy.

    Those are all just excuses though and I allowed them to dictate my actions which greatly impacted my mental and physical health, as well as my business, finances and relationships.

    Image: Text at top: How to Set Your Day up for Success – My Morning Routine. Image includes: Inspirational cup with print of “Be the most encouraging person you know”. A plant and candle.

    1. Drink Water

    I used to roll my eyes when people talked about he importance of drinking water especially first thing in the morning. Once I finally switched to this habit and made it a goal to drink 1L within an hour of waking, the change was huge. After sleeping for hours, our bodies need to hydrate!

    Drinking plenty of water keeps you fresh, your mind sharper and helps with looking younger. Our bodies need way more than most of us drink. I aim to drink 3L a day and no coffee, only herbal tea if I have tea at all and I try to limit all other beverages.

    2. Ho’oponopono

    Learning about this Hawaiian forgiveness practice changed my life. Ho’oponopono heals you from negative thoughts you’ve developed and enables you to forgive and move on.

    The process is simple but meaningful provided you do it with feeling, not just saying or thinking the words without feeling them. It includes I forgive you, I’m sorry, Thank you, I love you.

    I Forgive You

    Means you release this from yourself and it is no longer your problem. You won’t allow it to affect you anymore or block your energy.

    I’m Sorry

    Is you acknowledging the situation and being sorry for holding onto it for so long. It will no longer be allowed to bother you.

    Thank You

    Showing gratitude for the lessons this situation taught you.

    I Love You

    Send love to the situation. A motto in our home is “Approach everything with love.” This matches that.

    3. Gratitude

    Our home and family have always had a strong practice of gratitude. Of a morning I write down 10 things I am grateful for. Practising gratitude is part of my entire day though. Growing up we had to say one thing we were grateful for every night at dinner. I’ve expanded on this with my own family.

    Each night at dinner we say 3 things we are grateful for and provide a compliment to each member of the family. This ensures we are looking for things to be grateful for and noticing the good things other family member do or achieve. Hearing the things my kids notice has been quite interesting and doing this each night has created some incredible family conversations.

    A gratitude journal is important too. Somewhere to write things I am grateful for regularly.

    Lastly, every time I am faced with an obstacle, I ask myself what I can be grateful for with that situation, what lesson I can learn from it and what opportunities can come from it. Seeing the issue through a different lens with those questions enables me to move past it much faster and turn my life around.

    4. Exercise

    Even 10 minutes of yoga or a quick walk makes a difference. My preference is a longer workout but with a newborn baby that isn’t always possible. Ideally, I get an hour either in the morning or at some point in the day. Exercising first thing gets the blood pumping and I find it a great way to clear my head.

    5. Meditation

    For some people, the yoga or exercise, Ho’oponopono or gratitude is what they would class as meditation. I prefer to set aside 10 to 30 minutes for meditation whether it is a guided one or my own meditation. YouTube has heaps or you can use apps such as Headspace.

    6. EFT

    Emotional Freedom Technique or ‘tapping’ as it is more commonly known is an alternative medicine which uses acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming, energy medicine, and Thought Field Therapy. You tap on different pressure points while working through certain issues or blocks you have. There is a good guide and explanation here.

    7. Read

    My goal is to read 52 books this year. Doing a minimum of 10 minutes reading each morning often gives me something to think about during the day and gets me focused. You can find my list here, which is getting added to as I read books.

    8. Journal

    There are various journal prompts around if you need. I use my journal of a morning to write any thoughts or notes from my meditation and other activities in the morning. Sometimes if I am working through a book such as Unleash Your Inner Money Babe or Soul Coaching, I will do the exercises from those books in my journal of a morning.

    9. Breakfast

    Most of my life I have skipped breakfast which is not good. After hours of sleeping, your body needs fuel. My partner, Justin, is a big advocate for breakfast, even if it is just a smoothie. So now he makes it most mornings from smoothies through to fully cooked breakfasts with eggs, veggies, meat etc.

    He asks me every morning what I would like for breakfast then makes it for me. Most mornings, I can only stomach a smoothie but those smoothies are packed with nutrients.

    10. Get Ready Completely

    This step is important. I work mostly from home. It is so easy to roll out of bed, skip my routine and work in my pajamas. But when I shower, get dressed, do my hair and get ready completely I am more focused and productive. It switches me from the sleepy state to a working state.

    Night Before

    Preparation is the key to success. My day runs much smoother when I prep the night before with a few things. Deciding what to wear and having it ready, planning the day with what I need to do and work to be finished etc. Knowing exactly what has to be done stops me from needing to think about it in the morning. Usually, I keep a list running throughout the day I add to when I think of something I need to do the next day or plan in later. Then, of an evening I use that list to create my plan.

    By doing things the night before, I have fewer decisions to make in the morning and can achieve more in the morning when I am fresh. Decision fatigue is real. By the end of the day I am usually pretty exhausted mentally, I can’t make decisions well and I simply want to switch off. So by doing my morning routine and prepping everything at the end of the day, I am being conscious of using my energy in the best way for me.

    What do you do each morning to set yourself up for success?

  • 6 Tips for Self Care Especially During Obstacles

    How to Implement Self-Care when You’re Stressed and Broke

    Throughout the past few years, I faced quite a few trials – an abusive marriage, homelessness, paralysis, multiple surgeries, child custody etc. Sometimes I was great with self-care, other times not so much. When I wasn’t, everything else in my life suffered.

    This year, I decided to dedicate the year to myself and focus on self-care. It has been incredible, more affordable than most think and changed everything.

    Too often we put ourselves last. Our kids get everything they need, if we are going through custody all our money goes to that and if we are in a relationship, their needs come before ours. Over the past 18 months, I have done a lot of healing, learning and implementing. Here are my tips for self-care on a budget, during obstacles.

    This post contains affiliate links to products and services which helped me and I use. 

    1. Get To Know Yourself

    Early last year my on again off again boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me and this time we were done. It was a shock at first but I took it as an opportunity to learn more about myself. I decided not to be in a relationship (I dated a little and each time bailed real quick!) and instead, focused on myself.

    When I stepped back and analysed everything I saw how unhealthy our relationship was and went from there. Learning more about codependent relationships, alcoholism, confidence and what I really wanted in life made me realise I had lost myself completely in this relationship. Him breaking up with me was the best thing he has ever done for my daughters and me.

    Books I Read Which Helped

    To learn more about myself, when I had a realisation about something, I read more on that topic.
    Women Who Love Too Much – I have recommended this to so many women. It is too easy for us to take on everything, try to fix or heal people and end up burnt.
    Loving An Addict, Loving Yourself – even though my relationship was over, learning about addictions and how it impacted my daughter and me, going to some meetings for families of alcoholics and similar helps immensely.
    The Big Leap – I’ve read this 3 times now and get more from it each time. I have Upper Limited myself many times and now I am more aware, life is changing at a rapid pace.
    Unleash Your Inner Money Babe – another book I have read repeatedly. Each time I do, more money flows. It is a 21 day challenge that will open your eyes!

    2. Visualise Where You Want To Be

    Have a really clear vision in your mind you can draw on when needed. For me, I knew I wanted full custody, protection order and for us to be able to travel. After going on my favourite trip ever, I had it. There is a particular place called Mane Bay. Whenever court and stress got overwhelming this year or I began to worry I wouldn’t get full custody, I brought this place to my mind. Here, at Mane Bay, the villagers come out in their canoes, everyone plays in the water and I could see my kids there playing with the others. Swimming, jumping, laughing. I stand at the dive deck and watch them. That was my vision, my peaceful moment that helped ground and focus me.

    You need something you can use at any time to take your mind off the awfulness of what you are going through. This image I used in my mind was real because I had been there and I knew once we got custody, we’d go there.

    3. Keep Healthy

    When going through custody, my stress levels meant I was unhealthy. I got to a weight I did not want to be but no matter how much I worked out and watched my eating, nothing helped. Despite that, I focused on eating healthy, getting sleep where possible (insomnia was common) and remaining active.

    Being healthy and active was not always easy when I was stressed out. Find activities you enjoy, it doesn’t have to be the gym. Running, yoga, dance, team sports, anything is good. When it comes to food, it’s not a reward. Ice cream and other junk won’t make you feel better long term.

    Even though many of us have been conditioned to reach for certain foods when we are stressed or upset, this isn’t a good strategy. Learn more about food and eat the way that works best for you.

    For me, that means a mainly vegetarian diet which is also gluten and dairy free. Sugar is kept to a minimum and I drink mainly water, herbal teas or kombucha.

    4. Reward Yourself

    Whenever I discuss finances, I stress the importance of having a little of your own money. For years I have recommended 10% of your income be yours to do whatever you want with. Maybe that amount is too high for you right now. That’s ok, pick an amount that suits you. Have an account that money goes into and use it for whatever you want.

    One of my big mistakes when going through this whole process was putting aside all my money for court. At some point, I’d snap and spend. More often than not it wasn’t a huge deal but a few times I felt extremely guilty.

    This year, I made sure to stick to my own advice and have done so much better. Being focused is good, having something for yourself is important too. Check out how to get the money for court.

    5. Rest

    If you want a nap, take it (provided the kids are taken care of). So many times I reached the point of exhaustion, especially as it got closer to court dates. There were nights and days where I got no sleep. In fact, there were a few where I was up for 48 to 56 hours straight.

    At this point, I didn’t drive or cook because I was concerned my body would collapse and felt it wasn’t safe. This is not healthy, you cannot function this way, your body needs rest.

    I was so wired even sleeping tablets didn’t help. Get rest when you can. You need it. When going through obstacles we are on high alert, in survival mode. So if at some point in the middle of the day you feel the need for a nap, take it and do not feel guilty!

    6. Create A List Of Things For You!

    That’s what the year of me was about, creating a list of things I want to do, then actively doing them! Within the first 6 months of the year, I got my diving certification, had 2 overseas trips for work, learnt some dance and read books from my list. Having that list and a focus on myself enabled me to be calmer, focused and a better mother.

    During this time, while doing things I wanted to do, court fell into place as well. I got custody and the protection order. Ultimately, a lot of time is spent waiting for court dates, so fill that time with things you enjoy.

    What do you do for self care?

  • How to Afford Legal Fees and Custody

    15 Ways to Make Money and More Tips to Afford Legal Fees and Custody

    It took 7.5 years from when I left my abusive ex until I was awarded sole parental responsibility aka full custody. A 5 year protection order is in place as well. Fighting for custody or any legal matter is extremely expensive. Here are my tips, what I did and some links for more help. This post does contain affiliate links for products or services I have used and recommended. I do not link to anything I have not used or trust.

    How To Afford Legal Help

    Professionals (lawyers and barristers) have studied for years and know a lot we don’t. But they don’t know your case as detailed as you do. In my case, it was essential to have a good lawyer due to how complicated it was. We were pushed to higher levels of court so I needed a barrister and I was not willing to risk anything. Mentally and emotionally I was not in a position to self-represent but if you choose to do that, still get some help, often for free.

    Legal Aid

    You can get free of charge help, however, not all Legal Aid is free. Check the details for your state and territory here.

    Community Centres

    When I was going through my divorce, there was a community health centre and other community legal help available, particularly for those leaving abusive relationships. This free lawyer helped more than the paid lawyer I looked at. I had paid $1,000 for help and ended up cancelling them, using advice from the free lawyer at the centre and doing the divorce parts myself. Police had already taken out the AVO for me before I was able to apply for my divorce. The AVO process with them doing it was free. Doing it myself later was difficult, so last year when I needed another protection order, I used my lawyer. Personally, the best result was the final protection order with the barrister involved.

    Online

    Research, research, research. Do all the research you can on cases similar to yours, look for precedents, study the laws relevant to yours and speak with lawyers. When I was seeking a lawyer in Canberra it was easy as the child protection unit and other departments involved with child abuse all recommended the same law firm. My lawyer in Canberra was $600 an hour with the first half-hour consult was free and there were other times she didn’t charge me for phone calls etc.

    Here in Melbourne, I checked reviews online then went to a site (I don’t remember the name of it now) and typed in my legal matter. I then got calls from a few lawyers about it, they offered their advice and plan of attack. Do this and you then are armed with more information plus you can choose one of these lawyers or another if you like. I went with one I spoke to.

    How To Make The Money For Legal Fees And Custody

    The amount of money spent on legal fees, custody, protection orders and keeping my daughters safe is the same as a house. Here is everything I did to make money so I could pay for it. I’ll cover things I did to cut back and save further down.

    1. Online surveys – $2,000 to $5,000 per year

    As silly as it might sound, online surveys were the first thing because I was doing them on the side when I was married. He didn’t think anything of them and while I didn’t make heaps, you can make $2,000 to $5,000 a year with them. Stash that away and cash out when you need or cash out each month and put it in a high-interest savings account. I wrote about the best ones for Aussies here.

    The ones which have been best for me are Octopus Group (Australia’s highest paying one), Swagbucks which pays in USD (find a full guide for how to make the most with Swagbucks here), <Prize Rebel which also pays in USD.

    2. Bank account bonuses

    You will not get rich doing this and it is not good to open and close a bunch of credit cards etc. I didn’t do credit cards, I opened accounts when there was an incentive to do so. ING offers $25 if you open a new everyday account and follow the steps here with the code CNW116. Over the years I have made $25 through to $300 for opening a new account.

    BUT make sure you follow the terms and conditions plus do what you need to avoid fees. This might mean moving money around a bit and can feel pointless.

    3. Look for lost money

    Check lost super along with your state revenue office. There is a lot of unclaimed money. I have had people find anywhere from $200 through to $20,000. Super is easy, you check through your MyGov account. As for other lost money, check out this post.

    On top of that, search everywhere in your house, car, all clothing pockets, bags, under furniture. You’d be surprised where you’ll find random money.

    4. Selling Things Online

    When I started I focused on books as I could buy them for $1 and resell for $10 to $20 most of the time. I am selective about which types of books, never buying fiction. Finance, self-help, budget cooking, hairdressing and similar books did the best for me. Later, I bought things such as Tupperware, brand name clothing and anything else I knew I could flip. In more recent years, rockabilly clothing, camera gear and similar did well for me.

    In fact, I have made over $10,000 in a month when I did it properly. It only takes me 3 minutes per listing and I looked for things around the $1 to $5 mark I could resell for a minimum of $50.

    Facebook Marketplace and niche selling groups have become the best places for me to sell now. I don’t do it as much anymore because I travel regularly.

    5. Selling for others

    Since I was already selling online, this was easy. I sold things leftover from friends businesses and MLM ventures, clothes and even flipped a car. Friends and family asked me to sell their things as I hade greater success and we split the money.

    6. Blogging

    I already had a blog but by 2014 I had a few and was reselling blogs too. To make money blogging I did ads, AdSense, affiliate links, sponsored posts, my own eBooks and services such as freelance writing. Now, I make most of my money from affiliate links on The Thrifty Issue. Read how to set up a blog and make money here.

    For reselling blogs – I’d look for finance-related ones, buy them for a low price, increase their profit then sell them.

    7. Freelance writing

    I was approached to write my first freelance article which was great and most of the freelance articles I’ve done over the years are because businesses sought me out. However, that is not the only way to do it! Freelance writing can pay either really low if you go for those articles when starting out or $1,000+ per article. The higher a publication pays the more competitive it will be and you will need a portfolio. Check out how to become a freelance writer.

    8. Mentoring

    Back in 2013, I did this for a specific company. Financial mentoring where I would help mainly stay at home mums with their budget, finding ways to make and save money. Later, I did more of this on a wider scale as well as marketing, business and other mentoring. I stopped offering this due to the level of stress I was under with custody and I didn’t feel I was at my best to help others during that. If it is something you would like, we can discuss it. Email admin@kylietravers.com.au or contact us with our form.

    9. Teaching classes

    I’ve taught classes on finance, social media, marketing, business and anything else I was asked to. Libraries, schools, community halls and the studio in my home when I lived in Canberra were all suitable. Think about your skills and what you could teach. I also did public speaking in general but am not including that as something for everyone because most people hate it.

    10. Airbnb

    $1,300 for 5 days over Christmas, $600+ another week and anywhere from $70+ per night is how much I have made with Airbnb. It’s free to join Airbnb and I have all my top tips to make money with Airbnb on The Thrifty Issue.

    11. Odd Jobs

    Babysitting, yard work, Airtasker, cleaning, anything. Basically, if I was offered work, especially in the early days, I took it. Later, as I grew my business I focused more on that and looked at what was bringing in the most money. But when I was newly single and needed money, I did anything I deemed reasonable.

    12. Medical Testing – $4,050

    This wasn’t strictly for legal fees and isn’t something I recommend doing generally. The one I was involved in was for a condition I have, testing a product already on the market so we knew the side effects. My group were the 10th group to go through, so 150 had already done it. I wrote about my experience and tips for medical testing on my other site.

    13. Market Research – $100 per hour

    I probably only did 6 or so of these but the pay is good, usually $100+ per hour. Farron Research was the one I did the most with. Read more about it here.

    14. Rented Out My Garage

    In Sydney, I rented it to a single mum to use for her sewing business. In Canberra, I rented it out for storage and in Melbourne, I rented it out for someone to store their spare car. Each time it was around $50 a week. In Melbourne, I could have charged more.

    15. Other Things

    There are so many ways to make money such as renting out your car, becoming a virtual assistant and more. Two articles which you might like are:
    43 ways for single mums to make money
    How I made $33,277.57 on the side!

    How I Saved Money For Legal Fees And Custody

    As mentioned earlier, I did what I could myself and there is free help available. Since I was paying for most of my legal help out of my own pocket I set up a high-interest savings account for it and looked at where I could cut back.

    Going over every area of my budget I found quite a few areas I could improve on plus accessed a bunch of freebies to help.

    1. Do A Full Financial Review

    I do this annually anyway, last year I saved $4,765 doing my annual financial review. Compare insurance, electricity, phone, rent/mortgage, everything. Use my review as an example and see how much you can save. Alternatively, do the free 21 day challenge which goes over all the areas and lists out ways you can save.

    Whenever you make a saving, actually put that money into your savings account. It’s too easy for the money to be frittered away otherwise.

    2. Freebies

    Sign up for birthday freebies and discounts. Look for coupons and discounts on everything (see a full list for Aussies here). Register for cashback sites and make use of them. Also, check out the full list of Aussie freebies from The Thrifty Issue.

    You can get $15 off each of your first 2 boxes with Dinnerly, $35 off with MarleySpoon and $35 off with HelloFresh if you want to try any of them. Check every website for an email list if you are going to shop with them. Most offer a discount. Also, look at how to get a discount on everything.

    3. Have A Reward And Splurge

    Typically, all money that comes in, whether it is work-related or bonus cash I split. At least 10% is savings, 10% invested, 10% charity and 10% to do whatever I want. The rest is either daily living expenses or straight to savings.

    Having that 10% to do whatever I want with reduces the feeling of being deprived, it means we can have takeout sometimes and do fun things without feeling guilty. I know when I was saving for court, I put everything towards it and felt guilty if I spent money on anything else. You are allowed to spend on yourself!

    Also, little rewards. Aside from custody, which is obviously the main goal, having smaller rewards helps with feeling like you are getting there and keeps spirits up.

    How did you pay for legal fees or custody?

    I will add a disclosure – I am extremely privileged in that I had the option to borrow from my parents at any time as well if needed. After 7 years of it, I was mentally, emotionally, physically and financially exhausted. So I did borrow off them in the final stages and allowed myself some breathing room instead of spending every waking moment making money or stressed out. 

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  • Learning to Dive with Dive Munda

    Where to Learn to Dive and how I did it!

    This year I decided was the year of me. I wrote a list of things I wanted to see, learn and do. Diving was top of that list after I did a trip with Solomon Island Discovery Cruises last year and got to try it. In June, I finally got to go to Munda and get my open water diving certificate with Dive Munda.

    I chose Dive Munda because I had already done diving with their manager, know the owner and felt safe with them. Knowing I was in the hands of people I trusted and learning in the most gorgeous part of the world was ideal. Full disclosure, I was gifted the diving lessons but I had already selected Dive Munda as the organisation I wanted to learn with, despite living in Australia. My accommodation was at the Agnes Gateway Hotel, which was also provided.

    Dive Munda is the building in the middle with the markets on one side and the Agnes Gateway Hotel surrounding it and stretching out to the other side. 

    Why Dive Munda?

    Well, as mentioned, I already knew and trusted them. Trust is a big deal for me, especially when it comes to being underwater, safety and my life. On top of that, have you seen Munda? WOW! It is the most amazing place to learn to dive! Crystal clear water, an amazing array of marine life, friendly locals, a laid back vibe plus they are located right inside the Agnes Gateway Hotel. You can literally walk out of your room and go for a dive.

    On top of that, the owner and staff are passionate about conservation and equality. Dive Munda has trained the first two Solomon Island dive instructors. Previously, this was viewed as a male job. It is female-owned, female managed but has a good mix of male and female staff. Great care is taken to maintain the area, protect the reefs, keep it clean and promote Munda as a great destination. Given my background in advocacy work, Dive Munda was a perfect fit for my personal values too.

    Dive Munda also work with Pack For A Purpose to provide medical and other supplies.

    Where is Munda?

    Munda is a gorgeous area only 3 hours from Brisbane and now has direct flights! There are over 40 dive sites here from wrecks to reefs with sharks, manta rays, stingrays, loads of tropical fish and so much more.

    Map inside Dive Munda showing diving locations

    As you can see, Dive Munda services numerous incredible spots for diving, each with something unique to see.

    How does it work?

    Firstly, I was signed up to online learning so I could go over all the theory before arriving in Munda. It’s easy to do via the app and once you are qualified your certification will be on there plus you can log your dives.

    After theory, you do the practical. I flew into Munda on Saturday, explored the area a bit then on Monday, started my first lesson with Euna. If you want to dive, be aware you need to allow 24 hours after your flight before diving and 24 hours after your last dive before flying. It is extreme changes in pressure on the body and dangerous to not wait.

    Learning with Euna is hilarious which made it so much easier and less stressful. She is the second-ever female Solomon Islander dive instructor and a great teacher. You can read more about Euna and other women impacting the diving industry here. Before diving, we had to swim a set length and tread water then we got into skills. My most hated skill is mask clearing, which everyone knew and became a joke by the end of it. But we did it!

    Over the next few days, I completed my training in paradise. The first two sessions would be pool sessions in Australia. In Munda, we did them at a calm beach on this gorgeous little island. I preferred learning this way as I felt it was more realistic learning skills in saltwater with sand, fish and coral instead of a concrete pool.

    On my first ‘real’ dive to 18m, another instructor George came with Euna, David (another student) and myself. Poor George, I turned too quickly and smashed straight into him. Then I got confused about something and got him to repeat it possibly 3 or 4 times while we were underwater before I finally understood but he was so patient. Also, when I get excited, I tend to squeal and hug or squeeze whoever is near me. When I first got to see some of the marine life including sharks, turtles, manta rays, a giant manta ray, stingray and other creatures I may have lost my mind a little.

    This was a bigger problem later with Solomon Island Discovery Cruises. There, my instructor, Justin, promised me I would see a lionfish because I have wanted to since I was 6. When I saw it, I gasped so much because I was so excited, I started to rise and grabbed him to maintain control. My breathing was way too fast and it took me a few minutes to settle. He was pretty happy he spotted it for me and the whole trip other divers kept a lookout for lionfish for me which was amazing to me.

    I think Lionfish are just the most graceful, beautiful fish! Image by Justin Saula Yatibu from one of our dives. 

    What will you see?

    You will see everything! I had friends see hammerheads at Shark Point. On my first dive mentioned above, in the first coral crevice, a green turtle came out, hovered in front then went off into the blue ocean. At the next one, there was a reef shark just sitting there. Looking up there were numerous manta rays then the others spotted a giant manta ray. George tried to get me to see it but I missed it.

    Determined, I hovered and waited for a little while longer then it came back towards us and I was so excited. George and Euna seemed pretty happy I got to see it too. They pointed out stingrays, different fish, corals and so much more. Everything you could hope to see diving, we saw. Their knowledge, patience, understanding and desire to ensure we have a good time was astounding.

    What else is in Munda?

    You go to Munda mainly for diving because it is so diverse and played a part in WWII so you have wrecks combined with the gorgeous water, tropics and friendly people. If you are into WWII, Barney’s Museum isn’t too far away and there is quite an array of war artefacts from all countries that were here. Plus you can touch it all! You can try kava at the Agnes Gateway Hotel with Vili the manager or head to the kava bar. A little market runs during the week, with Friday being the biggest day right out the front gate of the hotel and Dive Munda. Do a walk with a local to see waterfalls or even get a massage. The massages here are done in a way unique to this area, with knowledge handed down. Grab a kayak, go snorkelling or just explore the area.

    All of these things can be arranged at the Agnes Gateway hotel where Dive Munda is based, making your trip easy.

    How to get there

    Solomon Airlines fly directly from Brisbane to Munda in around 3 hours. Flights from other Australian cities will go via Brisbane. Alternatively, numerous flights go through Honiara, you can extend your stay and do a Solomon Island Discovery Cruise from Honiara (only available at certain times of the year) and fly to Munda from Honiara.

    Another option is getting the local ferry from Honiara if you have flown there, although these are usually crowded and take a long time. Lastly, get your own boat and go or hire one there. I met a lovely couple who are sailing around and did some diving in Munda while staying on their own boat.

    Soggy Paws is owned by Dave and Sherry who were a lovely couple! 

    Accommodation

    As mentioned, I stayed at the Agnes Gateway Hotel. It’s a 2 star hotel with a 5 star view! You have wifi in reception, except on Fridays during the day when the markets are busy because everyone is on it. However, just 2 streets away you can get your own sim and data. Be sure to set it up correctly on data though or your credit will disappear quickly. They set it up for me. There is also an ATM and some shops next to it.

    View of an evening from the restaurant at the Agnes Gateway Hotel. Some evenings there is entertainment and every evening a variety of marine life are visible off the deck. 

    My accommodation was the family suite which had 2 bedrooms, a lounge, walk-in robe big enough for all your luggage, bathroom, separate toilet and it’s own veranda. With AC (which I barely used because the temperature is pretty perfect), a fridge, tea and coffee facilities plus super friendly staff, it was great. Be aware, as with many places in the islands, there is no hot water but since it is around 30C every day, you don’t really need it.

    My room at the Agnes Gateway Hotel. 

    What To Eat

    The restaurant in the Agnes Gateway Hotel provides a variety of dishes with generous servings. It is best if you let them know ahead of time what you would like and when you would like it served. They also offer a buffet some nights plus entertainment. Located within the hotel is a small bar as well.

    There is a little cafe around the corner or you can grab a taxi and head to Noro to the Blue Container Store to get some groceries if you prefer (it is mostly Aldi products). There are a few little supermarkets with limited offerings and a bakery in Munda as well. Some days the markets had good street food and fruit.

    Personally, I ate mostly at the restaurant because it was easy, the staff were friendly and the sunset view was amazing. Plus, all the guests were so friendly. I met numerous other divers, sailors, archaeologists and filmmakers all enjoying Munda.

    How To Plan And Book

    Dive Munda offer great packages in conjunction with Solomon Airlines and Agnes Gateway Hotel which is the best deal here or you can check out the sites and create your own holiday.

    Having been to the Solomon Islands in December, April and now June/July, my preference was April and June/July over December only because I grew up in Tasmania. So I struggle with high temperatures and high humidity. Munda I found nice because it is based right on the water with lots of islands and it felt there was more airflow than Honiara.

    Be sure to pack insect repellent or get the essential oil jewellery to protect from mosquitoes. Get vaccinated, take malaria medication and a mini first aid kit. It is easier to be prepared with everything rather than get there and find out you can’t get what you need. Munda is a small area without a lot of what most people are used to.

    I love diving, the team at Dive Munda are amazing and I will be going back with my daughters.

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  • How to Get Full Custody

    How I got Full Custody, a 5 Year Protection Order and he has no Access

    Before I even start, let me be clear about full custody and my views. Unless there is abuse or extreme circumstances, I do believe it is in the best interests of the children to have both parents. It doesn’t matter how much you dislike each other, that needs to be put aside for the sake of the kids and a relationship with them. I don’t mean stay together, I mean children deserve to have a relationship with both parents.

    This includes not putting the other parent down, not restricting access or playing petty games to get control or annoy one another. Your children are half of each of you and deserve to feel they are special, important and not be made to feel half of them is awful because you can’t get along with their other parent.

    How to get full custody is a loaded topic. Generally, I recommend trying to work it out without court and lawyers. Once you get into court, it is expensive, emotionally draining, time-consuming and hideously expensive. In my case, court was unavoidable, however, the law and police repeatedly failed us during the process despite ample evidence. When it finally got to trial everyone was horrified we were even there due to the external evidence, as in evidence from others, not just what I said. I should have been granted full custody from the beginning.

    What is in this post?

    I’m going to give you background on my case, my experience in 3 different states, tips for court, how I got full custody and my personal views. This is not a “how to game the system” guide and not guaranteed. Me getting full custody and everything I outline here will not mean you do. But if yours is a case where the other parent is abusive or something, it could help. Also, it shows you are not alone and full custody (also known as sole parental responsibility) is possible.

    My In-Laws

    Before I get into it, I want to make it clear we now have a great relationship with my husbands family and I am so grateful for that. My daughters have had sleepovers this year, text their cousins, Facetime them etc. His oldest sister reached out earlier this year and has been absolutely amazing. We were all nervous when we met up in person in Sydney but it was so good. They have all treated me exactly as family, my daughters are ecstatic and we will go up to Sydney at least 2 more times this year. And his whole family are conscious of the protection order, ensuring he does not breach it and that my daughters feel safe and supported. We are extremely fortunate to have them in our lives again and for their support.

    While there is no contact with my ex-husband, should my daughters want to, they can. They have made it extremely clear they do not want this but do want to be close to their Polynesian side, including attending a family reunion in Tonga next year.

    So in short, we love that side of the family and will continue to develop and maintain strong ties there.

    Some of the extended family. My kids look so much like their cousins! Mele is in the red GAP top and Halia in the black and blue SURF jumper. 

    My Case Background

    I was married in 2005, it was abusive and I left 2012 with our daughters. He still had some contact until 2014. I won’t go into details too much as it is not my story to tell. Despite sharing elements of my life, this involves my kids and it is their choice when they are older what they share.

    When I left, a protection order was put in place due to the circumstances. In 2013, the divorce was finalised, I moved to Canberra and during this time I was legally advised not to apply for custody as the court would grant 50/50.

    In 2015, we had the opportunity to travel and I tried to get him to sign passports, he refused. It was going to go to court but I became paralysed and extremely sick. At the end of that year, my daughters and I moved to Melbourne. Here, they had the opportunity to go to China with their school in 2017. Again, I tried to do the passports. This time he agreed (I had a recorded phone call of this). However, he didn’t sign and we had to go to court, which meant I also had to go for full custody. It took almost 2 years from then until now to get custody. Over 12 months of that was simply waiting for a court date!

    Evidence Against Him

    2014, my daughters came back to me and never wanted to see him again. Without sharing much, there is evidence, police reports, child protection reports, statements and reports filed by teachers, psychologists, witnesses and others in NSW, ACT and VIC. As well as the assaults against me. The file is huge and continued to grow in the 7.5 years between me leaving and me being granted custody. This is evidence NOT created or supplied by me. It was subpoenaed by the court when we got pushed to the higher court.

    I had to have a full psychiatric assessment from a specific psychiatrist, which was expensive. It’s not a regular psychiatrist and not a simple process. However, all he had to throw against me was claims against my mental health. Which through this process, showed my prior mental health issues were mainly due to being in an abusive relationship.

    Other Factors

    At the end of 2017, my eldest daughter was diagnosed with ASD Level 1, anxiety and a few other issues to watch for. This is also known as high functioning autism or Aspergers. This does impact how child custody and visitation is awarded due to the special needs of children with autism.

    Last year, my ex caused issues again and I had to go to court for a protection order. An interim one was granted then in April, a full 5 year protection order even barring him from posting on social media about us at all, was granted. This helped significantly as it showed a long history of abuse, so no chance he would be ok with the kids.

    Lastly, in the final stages of court, his lawyer ceased to act for him. He never came to court throughout the whole process and on the first hearing this year, the judge saw what he is like. It was complicated, messy and thankfully, the judge set a date for a quick trial because of his behaviour. He was court-ordered to attend with legal counsel and we had it included that I could proceed uncontested if he was not there. This is what happened and on the final day, instead of there being a 6 day trial which they initially though, it took 2 hours.

    My Top Tips To Get Full Custody

    As you can see from my experience, it took years. I had a legal help the whole way which cost me a fortune and there was extensive evidence of abuse. Remaining calm, keeping it together, continuing to work and parent my children was extremely difficult during this process. But I did it. And would do it all again if I had to.

    1. Mindset is Everything – Have a Happy Place

    Don’t roll your eyes, this was one of the biggest determining factors enabling me to remain calm and focused. If you are hysterical, irrational and all over the place, it isn’t great for you in court. Yes, emotions are normal, hysteria is not. When our emotions take control, we can make poor decisions, it is harder to remember things and you need to remember for court.

    I didn’t implement this fully until December 2018, after my best trip ever. After going to the Solomons, with Solomon Island Discovery Cruises, I desperately wanted to take my kids and had a very specific image of Mane Bay in my head. I could see my kids playing in the water as I watched them from the dive deck. That moment, that experience, to me is the moment we are free.

    Last month, we were meant to go but as the judge hasn’t finalised the paperwork, my daughters are not allowed out of the country. So in February, 2020, we are going and there are more spaces on the trip if you want to come! Email us here.

    Whenever I got overwhelmed about court, I began to picture this spot, this experience and my whole body relaxed. It was so real to me and will be soon.

    2. Have Support

    My family is incredible. There were numerous times I rang family members in tears, or furious at what was happening. I borrowed money from my parents as needed, my sister dropped everything and flew down one night when I was not coping and I know I am fully supported.

    Not everyone has that but there are support networks. Charities have support workers to help you in court and with paperwork before court. I also had a private psychologist I started seeing to prepare me for court, have somewhere safe to vent to and also to help with parenting and understanding autism.

    Join a support network, get professional support, create a community.

    3. Have Evidence

    I have written about 5 tips to win in court previously and included the importance of evidence. Write down everything including the time, date, location, what happened. Get witnesses where possible. Report things to the relevant departments, have teachers and other people in positions of power who are involved to write reports. Do everything via email to ensure you have a paper trail and if you have to do phone calls, request they be recorded then at the start of the recorded say “This phone call is being recorded” to show they agreed.

    Do not fabricate evidence or embellish things. Numerous people involved with my case commented on the fact my records of what happened and when corresponded perfectly with evidence from police, schools, child protection etc. Having my own proof and the ability to show exact dates, recorded phone calls, text messages etc all added to my credibility.

    4. Dress to Impress

    Again, I wrote about this in the previous article. How you appear matters. Dress in blue where possible because it subconsciously indicates trust. Corporate or business attire is preferred, along with neat hair, nails and makeup. I look like a lawyer when I go to court and this has helped significantly and been commented on by others. If you want the law on your side, do the right thing, have your evidence and dress the part.

    Charities offer help with this, borrow from friends or family if necessary and do your best to dress accordingly.

    5. Be Willing to Compromise

    There are a few things in my court orders I didn’t want but they aren’t awful. However, by being willing to compromise, it increased my chances of getting full custody.

    6. Show you are Doing What is in the Best Interests of the Children

    Years of speech therapy, psychology, play therapy, extra-curricular sports, the autism diagnoses and treatment for that were all documented and used in court. These, combined with the evidence we were in contact with his family and I was willing to continue to facilitate that added weight to this part of our case. In fact, as it turned out, between the first hearing this year and the final trial, we had a trip to Sydney planned so we saw the family. This was mentioned in my court papers and when we went back for the trial, it helped to solidify the fact I will continue this relationship and contact for my daughters.

    The fact I had driven to Sydney, then instead of just letting the kids play awhile, allowed 2 sleepovers was huge. It showed I put my own feelings and fears of my ex aside for my kids. And they course had an amazing time with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents on that side. This was not a stunt I pulled for court, we will continue to see them all. It did happen to help though.

    7. Get Legal Help

    I don’t want to reveal the entire total of my court costs but they essential equal a house. This year I paid tens of thousands within a few months and he didn’t have to pay a thing this year. Be prepared to sell everything, do any job and work your butt off to pay.

    For some reason, when I started this process in Melbourne, I didn’t have to put money into trust. I had when I needed legal help in Sydney and Canberra but here we expected it to be a quick process with the evidence so my lawyer didn’t request it. Instead of having my money sit there, I was able to pay the invoices as they sent them. My barristers continued this arrangement when they were hired to help as well.

    I was extremely lucky with this. When my lawyer went on maternity leave and another took over he said he had never seen this arrangement but since I never missed an invoice he was happy to continue it. Don’t expect to be so lucky. Be prepared to have to put down thousands. You can save a little if you self-represent and the court is usually helpful if you choose to do it that way. My case had been so long and messed up I wasn’t willing to self-represent.

    Final Thoughts

    You know what is best for your kids and if you have left an abusive relationship, it will be hard but it is worth it. This nearly broke me, completely. My ex-husband used things I wrote or said online against me (well, tried to) which made me shrink completely and question everything I was doing.

    When he played mind and control games, it messed with my head. Hearing things from my daughters, seeing the impact on them and the amount of money it cost us wore me down. However, I held onto the hope we would be free. I kept the image in my mind of us at Mane Bay and eventually, we won. We are still waiting for the judge to finalise to upload the paperwork so they can leave the country for the first time but right now, we are free.

    You might also like

    5 tips to help you win at court
    How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

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  • My Birthday Week Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Honiara (review and tips)

    What is the Coral Sea Resort & Casino really like and what can you do in Honiara?

    This year, I committed to doing more for me and focusing on myself (read about that here). For my birthday I jetted off to Honiara and I cannot even begin to express how much fun it was! Having been to the Solomon Islands in December, I barely got a chance to see much of Honiara and knew I wanted to explore more. From April 4th to 11th, I was fortunate enough to stay at the Coral Sea Resort & Casino in one of their luxury waterfront villas which was amazing!

    (From top left – The Boardwalk Restaurant at The Coral Sea Resort & Casino; below it – US War Memorial; Tenaru Falls; Trying Kava; MV Taka off the shore of the resort; Bonegi; view facing back onto the Coral Sea Resort & Casino from the dock; Tenaru Falls).

    Getting There

    Honiara is only 3 hours from Brisbane so super easy to get to. One of the things I love about Honiara airport is the people at the top waving as you get off. I know they aren’t waving at me but it is such a cool way to enter the country. Walking through, all the staff are so friendly, my bags were out quickly and my driver from the Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Ben, was waiting there with my name on the sign. Such an easy start to the trip!


    View of the Coral Sea Resort & Casino including The Boardwalk Restaurant from the dock.

    We drove through the city chatting then as soon as we arrived at the resort I was given a warm welcome by the front desk staff. Ben unloaded my bags, I was checked in, handed a coconut as I was escorted to my villa.

    The Starfish Villa

    Every villa has a different carved plaque. You’ll find carvings incorporated in designs across the resort.

    Right at the front, my villa was the Starfish Villa with a beautiful view from my private terrace of the ocean, The Boardwalk Restaurant, pool and resort. In the evenings, I could hear live music while relaxing in my hot tub. It was bliss!

    Private hot tub, terrace and views of the ocean from one side of the luxury waterfront villas.

    The other side of the luxury waterfront villa. 

    Walking in, it was wonderfully air-conditioned, clean, the bed was comfy and I was surprised to find a proper sized fridge with an array of mini bar options instead of a few little bottles. The lounge is a sofa bed so if you have a family, the villas are a good option.

    My bed, lounge and hot tub in the Starfish Villa at the Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Honiara

    With enough space and amenities to cook if you wanted. Behind the door, there is a proper sized fridge!

    Breakfast is included in your room price and there is a nice selection of either buffet or cooked options. I tried almost every variation of eggs they had and was happy with it all.

    What Does The Coral Sea Resort & Casino Have?

    You could just hang at the resort if you wanted to relax and be taken care of. I was there to explore more of Honiara but I still made use of the great facilities. The swimming pool is a good size and lights up at night which is perfect for me. With my complexion, I tend to avoid swimming in the middle of the day but it is warm enough here to swim at night.

    Swimming pool at night with the villas and hotel accommodation in the background

    The foyer is open and has a chill island vibe plus regular live music, table service and Haydn’s (a steakhouse) attached with numerous options for either drinks or meals. I had most of my meals at Haydn’s and tried The Boardwalk once. Check out their dining options here.

    View of The Boardwalk from my private terrace. I loved how it was beautifully lit up but far enough away that I still had privacy when in my hot tub. Check it out on Instagram

    The Casino

    I don’t gamble but I have been to numerous casinos, including ones in Las Vegas. While this casino isn’t that big (for obvious reasons), I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is. Immaculately clean, well decorated and laid out plus cool and comfortable. With plush carpet and seating along with a VIP room which has been established for those wanting privacy when betting higher.

    A selection of casino games are available as well as the pokies. Whenever I had a look there was always people in there but it didn’t feel overcrowded and the staff were happy to help quickly. If I did like to use a casino, place bets or use the pokies, I’d be happy to do it here.

    My Top Food And Drink Choices

    There was an alcohol ban so cocktails and other things were limited for the start but my favourite cocktail which I had on my birthday was the White Lady. Vanilla vodka is available too which made me happy as it is one of my favourites and they have a great selection of whisky.

    The Thai Chicken Curry and Thai Beef Salad were two of my favourite meals. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of my food but you can see a great selection of images for food and drink on the Coral Sea Resort & Casino Facebook page.

    Exploring Honiara

    Every time I mentioned going to Honiara people were surprised. It has a pretty bad reputation because of things from the past but I absolutely love my time there, every time. In fact, this will be the first location my daughters go when we can travel overseas. Personally, I found everyone to be extremely friendly, helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip.

    Bioluminescent Beaches

    I lost my mind over this which my friends (locals) found amusing. Moving around in the water made it light up blue! I legit felt like I was Ariel and may have announced “Oh my gosh! I feel like a mermaid!” with squeals of excitement. It’s the plankton that causes it and I actually squealed seeing it. I didn’t get photos (I tend to live in the moment more than take photos of whatever is happening) but I highly recommend it. We were at Hammock Beach, not too far from the Coral Sea Resort & Casino but definitely a nicer beach than those right near the resort.

    Tenaru Falls

    Tenaru Falls, one of the guys took this for me as I walked in.

    This was top of my list because I love waterfalls. I heard it was fairly simple but I am not fit. Hilariously, my lovely guide, Alex, laughed about how women walk up and down here with babies. He did it barefoot and realistically, I preferred doing the river crossings barefoot rather than in my hiking boots. You cross the river 6 times so shoes which are good for river walking would be beneficial rather than hiking boots.

    Parangiju Mountain Lodge where you start and finish. There is also a little shower to the side to rinse the mud. I got covered in mud and ended up coming back to the hotel in my bikini and a towel to clean up properly there. 

    How To Book

    To do Tenaru Falls you need to arrange it through the visitors’ office or Parangiju Mountain Lodge. The lodge is also perfect for a cool drink and gorgeous view after your hike. If it has been raining you won’t be able to do it as it will be too slippery. But white water rafting is an option then.

    It takes around 2 hours round trip and if you are an active family, is suitable for kids. I am sure my two could do it and better than I did.

    Tenaru Falls, that’s me right next to the falls. Amazing to swim here. My guides were so much fun!

    After hiking and crossing the river, it is as if the trees and everything parts to open up to the waterfall. It is stunning and you can swim underneath, climb up into a little cave there and stay for a while. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip.

    Snorkelling Bonegi

    Look how close it is to shore! An easy snorkel for anyone at Bonegi.

    Diving a wreck properly has been on my bucket list for years. Since I don’t have my certification, we hit up Bonegi where I got to snorkel the incredible wreck, see the marine life and spent some time hanging out at the beach. The wreck is so close to shore, as are others dotted around the Solomons. It is one of the things I love about the Solomon Islands – the history. Planning a significant part in WWII you will find wrecks, memorials and significant locations all around on your travels.

    Honiara Central Market

    A quick walk straight from the hotel to the market means you can pick up anything from food to souvenirs. You can negotiate with stall holders but I didn’t because I know what the wages are there vs what I earn.

    There were lots of roadside stalls around the place too, which is where I picked up a lava lava (wrap around/sarong) and bag for my daughters which they love. Being part Maori and part Tongan, my daughters love island style gifts and use them often.

    Relaxing

    For the most part, I wanted to relax and spend time with my friends living in Honiara but there is so much to do around the Coral Sea Resort & Casino. You can book a boat through the resort to go fishing and the chef will prepare your catch for you back at the resort or do a day trip to islands close by. Check out the war memorials, which I did and cried. They are beautiful, moving and the views are incredible.

    Take the time to walk around and read everything. 

    I try to visit a war memorial everywhere I go. The amount of WWII history in the Solomon Islands is incredible and well worth taking the time to learn about and explore. 

    Trying Kava

    My ex-husband is Tongan and how I first learnt about kava. I’ve wanted to try it ever since but women are not allowed in some cultures. Finally, here in the Solomon Islands, I got to try kava at the Kokonut Cafe. Be warned it tastes like mud mixed with wheatgrass juice and pepper. Definitely not for everyone! It reminded me of this juice I had to drink when trying to get pregnant years ago.

    See, kava looks like muddy water! You drink it from a coconut shell usually then rinse your mouth. 

    The beers weren’t mine but I’ve been told it’s best to follow kava with something such as beer. I’m coeliac so didn’t.

    Honiara is amazing and there is so much to explore there, then be sure to jet off to Munda, Gizo or other areas. Another option is to go on a dive tour since the Solomon Islands has incredible diving locations. (I did one with Solomon Island Discovery Cruises last year here which is how I knew about the Coral Sea Resort & Casino as guests stop here for a few hours before and after the cruise.) I’ll be heading back with my daughters in October so if you want to join us, let me know and we can arrange it! We will probably stay a night or two at the Coral Sea Resort & Casino before or after the cruise as well.

    When planning a trip to Honiara, you can book anything you want to see or do easily through the Coral Sea Resort & Casino. Their customer services is fantastic.

    My Tips For Honiara

    Honiara is not a big, bustling city and the Solomon Islands are a developing country. Wages are much lower, the infrastructure such as roads are not the same as Western countries but the people are super friendly.

    Since I typically travel alone and have had issues in other countries, I now usually have a guide with me. They know where to go, negotiate everything, translate when necessary and have the best tips. On some trips, I have worn a wedding band and at times my guide or a male travelling in our group would be referred to as my husband to stop issues. I didn’t have this problem in Honiara. My guides were great and I felt totally safe.

    Safety

    Staff in the resort take security very seriously. They have security guards, a whole team, cameras and management are regularly around. Everyone was super friendly making the Coral Sea Resort & Casino feel more like a home away from home rather than a resort.

    That said, be aware, as you should be anywhere. Keep your bag zipped, your belongings close, use the safe in the room and be aware of what is happening around you. This was my second trip and I haven’t had issues either time nor has anyone else I know personally who have been to Honiara. In fact, everyone can’t wait to go back to the Solomons!

    Get out and explore! The resort is great but there is so much to see, do and try.

    Have you been to the Solomon Islands? What was your experience?

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  • 5 Tips for Going to Court (for Custody, Protection Orders, Anything!)

    How to Best Prepare for Court to get the Best Outcome

    Heading to court is scary, especially if it involves your safety or your kids. Yesterday, I went to court for the hearing of our IVO (also known as an Intervention Order/Violence Order/Protection Order/Restraining Order). As I sat there and watched people come, speak to the judge and go, I realised many people simply don’t know a few minor things that can make a big difference to your day in court.

    I was given advice back when I got divorced and more when I had to do the protection orders. These tips mostly don’t cost you anything but have a significant impact, whether we want to admit it or not. We like to think all judges and magistrates are fair and impartial but certain things about how you look and speak do have an impact.

    1. Dress Corporate

    Every single time I have been to court I have been the best dressed non-lawyer there. In fact, I am usually mistaken for being a lawyer or similar. When you think of dressing for court think corporate or Sunday best. Think conservative, modest, neat and tidy from your head to your toes.

    I always wear a skirt and heels, my shoulders are covered and often some of my arms. My skirt comes to my knees and my heels are not platforms, they are modest nude or black matt heels (not patent/shiny ones).

    If you don’t have any suitable clothes or cannot afford them, borrow some or reach out to a charity. There are numerous charities offering clothing for court and job interviews.

    Why does it matter how you dress?

    It takes years to become a magistrate or judge so most are over 40 before they are appointed and can work into their 70s. Also, there are significantly more males than females. If you want to make a good impression, think about how grandparents or a church priest would expect you to dress and go for similar. Be conservative.

    Dress however you want anytime you want, it’s your body, your choice. However, people make snap judgements in a split second based on how we appear. You are appearing in front of someone who is going to make decisions for your life. Dress to impress and appeal to them.

    2. Wear blue

    This is based on the psychology of colour. Blue conveys loyalty, trust, dependability, all things you want to represent when in court. Look at our police, uniforms for firefighters (when not fighting fires), ambulance officers, doctors, nurses and similar. The majority wear blue for this reason.

    Think about it, you want to align yourself with that side of the law. Sky blue shirts, navy suits, navy skirts and dresses or royal blue all work well. Add the black shoes and the immediate impact is you are similar to law enforcement.

    3. Have all your documentation

    Be prepared with dates, times, locations, facts and any relevant documentation to provide evidence. Depending on your case, this may have needed to be submitted already. You cannot turn up to court on the day and be all over the place.

    Respect the courts time. Be prepared, have a timeline, have your proof and if necessary, lodge it before you go to court. Take copies with you of anything and everything on the day. It might not be needed but it is better to have it than to not.

    4. Be conscious of how you speak and act

    Firstly, when you enter the courtoom, bow to the crown. It will look like you are bowing to the judge/magistrate but it is to the crown and a sign of respect. They notice who does and who doesn’t. Do it every time you enter or exit the room. When the judge enters or exits and everyone stands, make sure you do too! All these things seem minor but they make a difference.

    Next, the judge, magistrate or registrar is the one making the decisions. Even if the lawyer asks the questions, direct your answer to the judge/person at the front making the decision. The questions are being asked for their benefit. Our courtrooms are not all like the ones you see on most TV shows. Often the witness box is positioned so you can see both the lawyer and the judge. Address them properly and if you are unsure what to call them, pay attention to how the lawyers speak and copy them or ask your lawyer. Your honour, Your Magistrate and similar are most common.

    Next, speak clearly and concisely. They don’t need your life story. Answer questions in a simple manner. If it is a yes or no question, answer yes or no. You do not need to spend 5 minutes explaining why. When asked to explain something, keep to what they have asked you to explain, not everything that has happened to you at every point in your life. Be factual and have evidence to back up your claims.

    Be honest and genuine and things will go much smoother.

    5. Get legal help

    I know lawyers can be expensive, some things you can do yourself, others are better with a lawyer. It is up to you to decide. However, in my experience, a good lawyer is worth it and will make things go much smoother. For starters, they know what needs to be lodged, they know what different magistrates/judges are like and how to best appeal to them, they know what to ask for and can remove the emotion.

    Get referrals, get pricing structures and an idea of how long things will take, how expensive it will be, then plan for it. You can go to legal aid and community legal centres. If the matter is more complex, you are better off with a private lawyer though.

    Rebecca Neale of Bedford Family Lawyer suggested on my Facebook page: “If representing yourself, I suggest you develop a short narrative, like an “elevator speech,” to start your argument and then focus on the facts that support your argument that you’re in imminent fear of serious physical harm. To identify the most potent facts, I suggest sharing your story with a friend and seeing what she responds to the most. Frequently, survivors are used to certain atrocious behaviors, that they can lose perspective on what is the most egregious.”

    This is fantastic advice in my experience!

    How can you afford legal help?

    Your lawyer could cost anything from $300 through to $700 an hour and they charge for everything. Every email, every phone call, draft, all of it. Get the costs agreement so you know what you are paying for. Whenever you need to talk to them, do all of it at once rather than 5 different phone calls. Also, ask about pro bono work, looking into legal aid and all your options.

    When it comes to actually having to pay for a private lawyer, do everything you can. Online surveys might not pay much but something is better than nothing. Take on extra shifts or a second job. Sell off anything you can, mow lawns, do babysitting. Check out these 43 ways for single mums to make money or how I made over $33,000 on the side last year.

    Comments Off on 5 Tips for Going to Court (for Custody, Protection Orders, Anything!)
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