Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5778

shevat art journaling page

Rosh Chodesh Shevat

What is Shevat all about?
This is a month BURSTING with information and insight. The explanations of the month are as full of growth and potential as the month itself! The dreams we made in Kislev, the progress we made to work through anger in Tevet, are culminating together to be planted like seeds in Shevat.

There are so many aspects I could talk about this month – newness, gratitude, food, nature, righteousness, or trees, but I just want to focus on one or two. I will put links at the bottom to all my favourite resources, so you can do your own research if you want!

Shevat is a month to start bearing new fruit and to welcome newness within you. We did so much work on ourselves in Tevet, tilling the soil so to speak, that now it is time to really bury those seeds, water them, get excited, and feel the growth and new life rising within us.

I challenge you this month to say “yes” to some things that you’ve been putting off, or de-prioritisng. Say yes to self care, and say yes to new experiences – especially ones that take you out of your comfort zone a little and bring some excitement!

Of course I can’t go past the obvious connection to food this month, starting with the tribe of the month is Asher, which means happiness, and is connected to the sense of taste. The tribesmen of Asher were rich because they were abundantly happy. They were so happy because of their contentment with what Hashem had given them – they were not a tribe who often compared themselves to others, or were always wanting more.
They experienced pure joy and happiness because of their contentment with what Hashem had given them.

So it should be with our food – not always lusting after this meal, or what someone else has. But being content to eat good, nourishing food. Being mindful of the food we eat.

At the full moon this month is the minor holiday of Tu B’Shevat, which is like a new year for the trees. A great time to be mindful of the environment and our responsibility to look after it. But also to be mindful of the food we eat. Definitely make time to research a Tu B’Shevat seder, or just put out a platter of the 7 species of Israel to enjoy on this day.

There are many many rules in the Torah about food, and this reminds us that God really does care what we put in our mouths and when. I am loving researching kosher laws, brachas before eating, and Jewish ways of eating this month. The purpose of eating is the elevate the godliness in food, and we can do that by honouring God with good healthy food that he has deemed acceptable.

I’ll end with this quote from At The Well.
“Jewish teachings have long equated humans to trees. The Rebbe equated a tree to the spiritual life of a human. The roots represent a person’s faith, the body represents the spiritual life through intellect, emotions, and practical achievements, and the fruit and seed the power in each of us to in uence others and help everyone in our community become their own healthy trees. “It’s not enough to feel and experience God just when you’re in prayer. You need to feel and experience him in the every day.

Holidays:
Tu B’Shevat. – Full of Moon of Shevat. 15th.

Questions & activities for personal reflection:
Spend some time in nature this month. What are you doing to help repair the world in an environmental sense?
Be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. Think about why you are eating, and ask yourself if this is how Hashem intends for it to be.
What new things do you hope to welcome into your life this month?
Are you content with what Hashem has given you, or are you always wanting more?
Write out a continuous gratitude list. Don’t break your list up into days, or worry if you miss a day, just keep adding to the list every time you thin of something to be grateful for!

Art Journaling

Art Journal Process Video: A Reflection of death & grief

Hi everyone, and welcome to my first process video for the year. This was quite therapeutic to put together, and I loved just having a chat with you guys in the voice over.

In the video I explain how I’ll be improving this channel in 2018. I look forward to your input!

As I work through this art journaling process video I talk a lot about death, and grief, and the reality of not having any tomorrows promised to you. I hope that by the end it is encouraging for you. Sometimes art journaling is less about the page you make, and more about the therapeutic process you went through whilst making it. That’s definitely what this page was for me, and I felt really free by the time I’d finished – like I’d worked through any unknown fear or worry that was in the back of my mind.

Please don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe”. I’d love to get a comment from you – tell me what you think of my philosophy on death and life, or my plans for 2018!

Art Journaling

Hello 2018

art journaling page of a girl with text in her red hair

Hello 2018! I am looking forward to creating beautiful art this year.

I thought I would start this blog with a list of some of the creative projects I will be working on in 2018.

  • Weekly Parsha Project. This project is where I create an art journaling spread related to the weekly parsha (torah portion). I started at the beginning of the cycle a few months ago after Simchat Torah, and will continue through till then. I missed a few weeks while we were away, so it’s a priority for me to catch up on those ASAP! You can check these all out with the hashtag #taliastorah on my arty instagram.
  • One Little Word. This is my first year doing this project! I often choose a word for the year, but this is the first time doing the course. I haven’t bought a kit of anything, just the course, and hope to complete it simply and efficiently. I do NOT want this to turn into another unfinished project.
  • Rituals Class. I won this on New Years Day, and I am so excited to participate!
  • Regular art journaling goals – I want to art journal frequently, and continue to learn new things.
  • YouTube. It’s here if you want to subscribe. This year I’ll be posting twice a week – one day will be a process video like the ones currently there, and the second one will be a review of a product including ways to use it. Part of the reason I am doing this is because I want to increase my following places so that I can make it onto a design team for 2019.
  • Family photobook. I like to think this is an ongoing project, but it seems it’s just a December/January project! I like putting these together and having all out photos from the year in a neat little book!
  • Monthly Videos. I’ve been enjoying watching some of the old monthly videos I was doing a few years ago. It’s so sweet to watch the kids being smaller, and learning to talk, and walk and all those things. Luke would LOVE it if I got back into these again, and I want to really try hard to put aside time to do them.

So this is a lot of projects, right?! I figure now that I’m off facebook, Lior is a school 5 days a week, and Eli at kindy 2-3 days a week I should be able to make it work. It will require some self discipline and organisation though!

Do you have any creative projects you’re working on this year?

Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5778

Chodesh Tov! We are a few days into the month of Tevet, a month of purification, emotional healing, and self reflection. Tevet is often considered a challenging month, but only because our souls are yearning to be improved, and so our weaknesses rise to the surface, waiting to be healed.

The sense connected with Tevet is anger. Anger can of course be righteous. Hashem himself is described as being angry in Tehillim, and when we respond to an injustice in the world with anger, or a sin in our life, and that anger causes us to take action and make a change, then it certainly can be righteous.

But for most of us our experience with anger isn’t usually righteous. It is in fact, usually sinful.

For ages I felt guilty about the anger I felt, and the way I erupted, but through my research on Tevet I’ve seen that this anger is actually just a wound within me that needs to be healed. Of course, Hashem is the ultimate healer, and while I am often really focused on physical health, I need Him to be with me and by my emotional and spiritual healer as well.

This month of Tevet is a great opportunity to spend some solid time in prayer (more than your morning or evening prayers – some deep reflection time) so that you can find the root cause of any anger within you. Finding this cause gives us an amazing opportunity to grow, heal & expand. Talk to G-D about the hurt and anger you feel and ask Him for help and direction on how you can respond better.

ancient oil lamp

Questions & activities for personal reflection:

  • Today and tomorrow, take specific note of how you act in the day. Do you experience any negative emotions? Prayerfully choose which ones you want to work on this month.
  • Alternatively, look inward, and ask yourself “What is a negative emotion I often have?”. See what pops into your head first. Trust that this is Hashem leading you.
  • Do you experience any anger in your life? Is it frequent, or sporadic? Does it affect other people? What is the root of this anger? Note: This is an internal root – it can not be another person, or another situation. This has to be something within.
  • Write yourself a letter specifically addressing this anger or negative emotion. Treat yourself like a mentee you are looking after. Be truthful, but kind in your critique and encouragement.
  • Once you’ve discovered the root cause of your anger or negative emotion, make an action plan of how you will process it. Do you need some time to cry, pray, and write
  • Organise a time with your spouse, or someone else who can help so you have time this month to heal.
  • Create yourself a beautiful reminder that you can stick to the wall in your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, car… anywhere you spend a decent amount of time and need to be reminded!
Self Care Mama

Self Care Mama

self care mama

In 2017 I felt like I could well and truly say that I have self-care  under control. I have learnt how to prioritise my needs appropriately with the needs of the others in my family and how to incorporate the cost of self care into our budget in a mindful and responsible way. 

This has been a huge process over many years, and with many mistakes, but I’m glad to be at a place where I  know what I need, and be confident to make that happen when it needs to.

I totally recognise that I still have a VERY long way to go in terms of reducing my stress, limiting my angry outbursts, and  being a kinder and more gentle person, butI also recognise that this year I’ve made progress! I’ve also set up a bunch of things (listed below) that will help me on this path to being more at peace.

One of the hardest things about self care is starting, and I believe the first thing that needs to take place is a conversation with yourself about your worth, and an honest look at the most effective way you can be a good wife/mother/employee/employer/volunteer/person in general. It starts kind of life this:

angry woman

How To Initiate Self Care:

“Oh gosh, I am a terrible mother. I yell at my kids way too much. I want to chaaaange!”

Okay, so lets look at this objectively and work out why you yell – because you’ve accumulated stress that you haven’t had a chance to process or let go of. Because you’re running on empty. Because you feel like you don’t get time to pursue other things you enjoy. Because when you debrief to your spouse they think you’re complaining and they just want to fix things. Overworked, underpaid.

Okay, got it.

So honestly, the best thing to do in this situation, is to work out a way to get some time to yourself. Once you’ve talked it out  with yourself, and you’re committed and understand all the benefits (do a bit of research – I’ll post a link to a blog post with links), it’s time to take action. As you read links and do your research on the benefits of self care it’s best to share these tidbits with your loved ones (spouse, parents, friends) as you come across them. These are the people you will need to support you, and so it’s great if you’re all on the same page and they understand how important this is.

It’s An Experiment 

I love that I’ve had the freedom to explore and experiment with a range of different self care methods, and that my husband has been supportive in giving me time/space as much as he can in order for me to try things. But the truth is, a lot of what I do I have had to carve time for myself in my regular life. If you rely too heavily on needing other people’s help to look after your kids while you do self care, then you will end up with disappointment. Also, you miss a really valuable opportunity for you to both teach your children how to care for themselves, and also that self care is important for you as a mother.

Choose something you can do on your own, without help, and start there. You don’t have to be committed long term to this, but you do have to be committed to the length of the experiment – however long you make that. For example, regular massage might fit into your budget once a week for the next month. So commit to that. Then reflect and see if it’s helped, if you enjoyed it, if you’d rather spend your time some other way. Then either give it up and try something else, or find a way that you can commit to it for longer.

happy woman

Some of my favourite self care activities in 2017 include:

  • Regular massages
  • Dedicated art journaling time on the weekends (husband looks after the kiddies)
  • Art journaling in the evenings
  • Essential oil time – learning about them, reading books on them, figuring out new “recipes” and applying them
  • Meditation – just a new practice for me, and one I’ve grown more confident after reading a great book on Jewish meditation. I hope to do a book review about it soon!
  • Walking to the shops by myself
  • Shabbat
  • Gardening
  • Daily reflection, connection with the moon, and tracking my cycles
  • Regular (weekly/fortnightly) “date nights” with girlfriends. Venting totally allowed!
  • Dropping Facebook (embracing just having one social profile)
USA 2017

Snow Day in Atlanta – December 8th 2017

One of the great things about being strangers to the snow is that when you’re travelling in a foreign city and it ends up being a snow day, it’s really no bother to you at all! I mean, for us, going back to our airbnb, turning up the heater, and grabbing a cup of tea while we look at the window at the snow fall is just as exciting as seeing the sights of Atlanta!

The place we’re staying at here in Atlanta is nice, and the host family (we’re in a granny flat out the back) is really welcoming and friendly. Our boys loved playing with the kids in the back in the snow this afternoon, then going into their house for hot cocoa – another classic “Americanism” I am glad they could experience. Hot cocoa on a cold snowy day – seriously, it’s what kids movies are made of.

We were out and about in the morning though – walking through the park in the icy rain, wishing it would snow, grabbing coffee (cue crying toddler in the middle of the shop because she’s obsessed with drinking your coffee when you’re not looking, and that’s seriously no good), and watching the snow start from our Korean lunch place.

We loved having a snow day, and it was made even better that it was in such an unlikely place like Atlanta!

USA 2017

WordCamp US 2017

Hard to believe that just last weekend we were heading into WordCamp US! Luke had tons of work to do while he was there, so we didn’t see him much, but I also had a ticket and really enjoyed going to a few of the sessions (as many as possible while looking after 3 kids!). Luke’s been working on a really awesome project called Tide and it was great to see it launch at WordCamp, and be announced during State of the Word, and to be there with him through it all (even if it did mean late nights and stressful times, it also meant celebrations and congratulations. I also got pretty good at tension releasing shoulder massages!).

I thought I might highlight a few of my favourite sessions I attended, including what I learnt from them and how this will impact me going forward.

Beginner’s Guide to Contributions by Josepha Haden.

I really enjoyed this talk by Josepha and particularly enjoyed how she highlighted ways we could contribute to WordPress without having to code (because that is not currently my strong suit!). I was inspired by the idea of writing documentation, and also being involved in WordCamps. 

DESIGNING FOR DYNAMIC WORDPRESS CONTENT WITH CSS GRID, FLEXBOX (AND MORE CSS TRICKERY) by Bob Visser

This talk wasn’t so amazingly relevant to me, because of course I don’t code. But I thought it was really helpful to me to understand some of the direction the web is taking. I also feel like Luke might talk to me about something along these lines at some point in the future and now I will have some fundamentals understandings when he does!

Documentation for Developers by Katherine White

Again, I’m not a developer, but I felt like the things Katherine talked about were relevant across many fields and aspects of life, not just dev work. 

Kids and Code: The Facts and the Future by Sandy Edwards

I REALLY enjoyed this talk by Sandy. I felt really inspired as a mother in general, but especially as a homeschooling mum. I remember when I started this blog I only had a tiny Lior baby growing in my tummy, but my plans were to homeschool him, and to use my blog as a place to teach him about the internet, and writing, and all those good things. This talk really brought me back to all of that, and has inspired me to include more of this in my homeschool plan for 2018.

Sandy talked a bit about what they are doing in Kids WordCamps she has helped facilitate, and I found that to be incredibly inspiring. Perhaps it’s something I can be involved in in the future…

Raising Kids with Code by Jonathan Brinley

This was another great talk – and another inspirational one that I’m sure will affect the way I teach and parent my children in the future. Lior will by 6 in January, and I feel like he is almost at a point where he can benefit more from direct learning about code. Making logic based activities and using coding language will be a priority for me after listening to Jonathan’s talk.

********

Many of you reading this will know that last year (2016) Luke & I helped organise WordCamp Sunshine Coast. That was a great experience, but I also quite enjoyed just attending the WordCamp and getting to enjoy the sessions. If you can get yourself to a WordCamp you should! Even if you’re not a developer there is always helps on offer for WordPress users, including networking opportunities (and fun after parties!).

Personal

How To Take A Break From Facebook

Whether you like it or not, you will probably find that quite a lot of your life is connected to facebook. Sometimes this is great – finding our information, connecting with people and making friends, and knowing about fun events. But sometimes it’s bad (and hard to escape!). For those of us who end up being a bit addicted to facebook and social media in general it can become important to take a little break in order to re-calibrate, and make space for bigger things.

But taking a break from facebook isn’t always easy. Earlier in the year when I had considered taking a break from facebook I wondered how I would do it. How would I know when the next homeschooling event was on? We were only newly moved to the area, so I was quite reliant on the facebook groups to meet new people and connect with homeschooling events. How will I update my blog / business’s facebook page? How would I keep up to date with other important things? How would I connect with friends? Eek!

Here’s how I did it: 

To solve most of these problems I simply made a second facebook account with no friends. With this new account I joined only the groups I desperately NEEDED to be part of.

Step 1: Log out of your current facebook account, and then create a new account.

Step 2: Choose a different profile picture (so the next step is less confusing), and make a status update that says something like “I’m taking a break from facebook, and this account is purely for keeping up to date with XYZ. Please do not contact me via this account or send me a friend request. You can contact me via [email protected] or 04….my phone number…”

Make sure it’s a public status update. Also, take a screen shot of this status and make it your cover photo, so it’s super clear for people.

Step 3: Make friends with your original facebook account, so that you can easily invite yourself to the pages you admin, or the groups you’re part of.

Step 4: Log out, and log back into your original facebook account (the ones with all the friends, and all the stuff). Accept your new friend request from yourself, and make yourself an admin of the pages you manage, and approve yourself to join the groups you need to be part of. You may need to contact a group admin and just explain what you’re doing, as a secondary account with no friends of a person who’s already part of the group is a bit sus! So just let them know that you’re taking a break from facebook, but still want to keep updated with what’s happening in the group so want to join again with your temporary account.

Step 5 (optional): Log back into your new account and check you’re part of the groups you need. Request to join them on your own if you need to.

Step 6: Deactivate your original account! Facebook hates this, and you have to just through quite a few hoops in order to deactivate it.

Now, this is just a deactivation – you can reactivate it at any time and keep your history and your friends and your photos and what not when you’re done re-setting. If you want to permanently delete it, well, that’s next level.

And there, you’re done! 

When I first did this it did not reduce the amount of times a day I went to check my facebook, but every time I went there, there was basically nothing to do or see there, and so the TIME I spent was very minimal. And boring. So basically I’ve been training my brain that facebook is a boring place. So hopefully, if I do go back, I will have learnt that 1. facebook isn’t fun and 2. I can make better use of my time.

Kids are awake, gotta run (to bed)!

Feature photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

 

Personal

Post Natal Depression Awareness Week

During the week I went on the radio to talk about my experience with post-natal depression, and how social media possibly contributes to this problem. It was a good experience, and I wanted to follow it up with some more thoughts to re-iterate what I’d said there, and also add some additional information.

For those that don’t know, I suffered post-natal depression after the birth of my first son. His birth was hard, and he suffered a dairy intolerance as a baby.  I was helpless, and hurting that my baby was hurting. I yelled and cried, and when I told the health nurse, or the GP at mine or his checkups I was repeatedly told that he was fine – he didn’t have the right symptoms for ANY sort of problem, and it was just colic. Oh, and that I was probably exaggerating things. 

// Having people not believe you because you are a first time mum is very hurtful, and certainly contributes to higher PND in first time mums //

// Find a good GP! If your GP doesn’t take your concerns seriously, or doesn’t believe you, just find a new one. Seriously. There are actually heaps of GREAT GPs out there, you just have to find them (and probably wait for an appointment!) //

After a few months of this, my thyroid totally spun out, although I didn’t know that was the problem at the time. By this stage I had discovered Lior’s dairy intolerance, and we had things mostly under control, but the damage was done. I suffered in silence for many many months after that, and at 13 months postpartum I went to a new doctor and was diagnosed with post-natal depression. Even that part of the story did go smoothly, and I was screwed over by the mental health services at the local hospital. I gave up, and Luke, Lior & I put everything we owned into storage and hung out in Israel for a while, where I found myself not only cured, healthy, happy and at peace, but also after not too long a time, pregnant again. Ha!

// Definitely not saying everyone should just pack up and move to Israel, but also… it’s a miraculous land… // 

// Holidays are great – don’t underestimate the power of changing your routine and lifestyle for a period of time //

I re-wrote the above story of my first year of motherhood, it made it sound horrific, and terrible every day, but in reality it wasn’t. I had lots of really great days, and in general I soldiered on, making the most of my life, and appreciating what a gift it was to be a mother, and to have my darling little boy. He was adorable, and lovely, and I loved spending time with him. And I think lots of people would attest to this being their reality when they experience  post-natal depression. Little things being fine, and yes to fun things, yes to laughing, yes to generally “coping”, but having a bit of a cloud hanging over you. To have the running theme of your life somehow being hardship and sadness, even though rationally you know that this is not so much the case.

// PND is different for everyone – having someone to regularly talk to is a great way to keep things in check and notice when that cloud just won’t go away. I’m sorry to tell you that this person is almost definitely not your husband, or your mum. //

As I said on the radio, if you’re a mum (new or “old”!), then finding the right tribe on social media is so important, and during my second pregnancy I found that. Finding people who’s parenting style you resonate with, and who are honest about the ups and downs of motherhood. No one wants to watch people sad and moping online, but also it’s not helpful only seeing the highlight reel.

// You might find that by being honest you actually help other people. If you’re someone who is open about their own realities, then you might make people feel safe enough to ask you for help should they need it. //

My personal manifesto for using social media is to keep things real, and being mostly positive. Sometimes, times are tough, and life is just not positive. It’s about a year ago that I got some hard core burnout from over-commiting myself, and that was actually pretty hard to share online, but I’m glad I did. I hope it helps someone else not over-commit themselves. Sharing the tired days when my baby didn’t sleep, and I am desperate for coffee – this is real life, and I share this too. Sharing the joy my kids bring me, and things they do that make me proud – this is also super important, and part of what makes a strong online community. We’re about to embark on a three week trip with 3 small children and a 20 hour transit, so if you’re keen to see the fun and also the hard of travelling with kids, definitely head over to my instagram. 🙂

// Be honest! Be vulnerable! But this is partly why having that right tribe is important. If you’re surrounded by people who like to give tons of advice when you didn’t ask for it, or judge you for give them the ol’ heave ho, and block them. Aint nobody got time for that. //

// On one of our trips both our kids weed and pood in their clothes whilst sleeping on a 12 hour flight. That was incredibly fun. Not. Hopefully nothing like that will happen on this flight!! //

I just wanted to lastly add that if you’re a husband, keep an eye on your wife. Don’t let things get so bad. If you’re a wife, even if you may have PND yourself, don’t forget your husband! I think men actually get PND in a different way, but quite frequently, it’s just not diagnosed (and they can get through it a bit easier, because they don’t have the hormonal interference. But still, a psychologist can really help. If you’re in Australia, just go talk to your GP about it, and you can most likely get a bunch of free session to see if it’s going to help you!

// Post-natal depression is not a women only issue. Men can also suffer post-natal depression. //

// Post-natal depression not only affects you, but also your spouse, baby, and other children. Seeking help is the best thin you can do, if not for yourself, then for the people you live with who are affected. //

Photo by S S on Unsplash