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Soul Sister Sunday

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I am so incredibly grateful to be sharing not one but TWO soul sisters today – actual sisters – Ashleigh (right) and Kaitlyn Davidson. These two beautiful girls are not only World Fitness and Fashion Show (WBFF) contenders, bikini models and health and fitness advocates, but they live and breathe the idea that optimum wellbeing is aligning mind, body and soul.

These sisters are so inspiring, and both have incredible stories to share – Ashleigh is passionate about helping shift workers maintain a healthy lifestyle through her role as an emergency services worker, and Kaitlyn is openly sharing her recovery from anorexia on social and mainstream media. 

A soul sister to me is….

A: Someone who supports, uplifts, encourages and pushes you to be the best you can be. They are there for you when life is great but also there to pick you up when you are down and never turn their back on you. A soul sister doesn’t judge and is someone who makes you a better person for knowing them. They are someone who believes in the power of positivity and believes in empowering other women, not competing with them.

K: Your backbone. Someone who supports you through thick and thin. They have a positive influence and motivate you because they only want what’s best for you. It’s about being empowered by each other and having a like-minded outlook on life where you both want nothing more than to see the other achieve their goals and aspirations.

My favourite things to do with my soul sisters are…

A: I love doing activities that treat the body, mind and soul. It may be getting out in nature for a walk, doing a yoga class, training together or something different like a fitness expo. When I’m with my soul sisters, especially my actual sister Kaitlyn, even doing everyday activities are fun.

K: Generally anything. My soul sister is definitely my real sister Ashleigh and it doesn’t matter if we are training together, relaxing at the beach or doing house work together. Time with her is so valuable to me because time is the one thing that you can’t get back so I am thankful for the moments we spend together.

How do you maintain quality friendships with so much on?

A: I am a strong believer in having good time management skills in order to get the most out of like so I like to make future plans with friends that involve activities that make us feel good! It gives me something to look forward too and feeds the soul. It’s awesome when you find other like-minded friends who want to empower each other and live life to the fullest.

K: It comes down to priorities. Everyone is busy so I make sure that I prioritise time to spend with those people I cherish. I think it’s really important to maintain quality friendships so I make sure that I am present when spending time together. I am a big believer for not being on my phone when with people, I think this is important to be in the moment and shows that you respect the time they are giving.

What are your favourite traits that your soul sisters have?

A: My number one soul sister, my actual sister, empowers me, understands how I’m feeling and is generally concerned about my well-being. A soul sister is someone you can open up to without judgement and is there to listen, provide advice and support you no matter what.

K: Someone who is kind, understanding, supportive and fun. Everyone has their own goals and life is busy, so when you find a person/people that respect each other’s lives and make the time for one another it goes a long way and those friendships are so valuable to me.

What makes your soul light up?

A: Hanging out with other beautiful girls who empower, positively impact and when you leave them you feel like your soul has been reignited. Being able to help, motivate and inspire others is also an amazing feeling, when I have girls telling me I have inspired them to live a healthier life I feel so joyous. I love setting challenges for myself and accomplishing them, there is no greater satisfaction than reaching your goals! I love how social media has created a platform where I can meet like minded people such as Instagram (@ashleighelise) as well as in real life weather that’s through work or fitness related events that are run through ASN Castle Hill, who I am an ambassador for. I recently met some beautiful people undertaking the ASN 10 Week Body Challenge and it was inspiring hearing why they want to make a change and helping them take those first steps to a positive life for themselves and those around them.

K: Being able to give back. Weather that be to a stranger, family or closest friend, being able to put a smile on someone’s face or know that you have helped them in some way definitely makes my soul light up.

What causes are you supporting at the moment?

A: I am very passionate about helping shift workers maintain a healthy lifestyle. I see so many who want to make healthy and positive changes but just don’t seem to have the tools to be able to. Having a stressful it can be easy to let it get to you and make poor lifestyle choices as a result. I love being able to positively impact peoples lives by showing them how to time manage properly in order to be able to live a positive life.

K: I have recently had the opportunity to give back through sharing my journey of recovery from anorexia. Being able to help others through my experience has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience to date. I openly share my journey through my Instagram page (@kaitlynmaree_x) and will continue to take any opportunity that arises that can help others. I am currently working with The Butterfly Foundation assisting with their national campaign which I am really passionate about and helping to raise awareness of a topic that isn’t spoken about enough.

 

Connect with Ashleigh and Kaitlyn:

Inst:

Ashleigh: @ashleighelise

Kaitlyn: @kaitlynmaree_x

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Soul Sister Sunday

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This week we meet one of the most inspiring women I have the privilege of knowing. Lauren describes herself as a mother to a little boy who didn’t make it home from the hospital, and a wife to an incredibly supportive husband. She openly shares her story of the love and loss of her beautiful baby Sebastian on her blog.  Additionally, she works in special needs as a behaviour clinician, and runs Mumspiration.com.au as well as the Twitter handle @safepetowners.

Of her busy work life she says: “I love keeping myself busy with projects that will improve the quality of life of others.”

Needless to say, this girl is an angel and I am so grateful so be able to share her with you today. 

A soul sister to me is….

You know when you can look at your best friend and she knows exactly what you are thinking? A soul sister to me is someone who just “gets” you, they are the yin to your yang; you can equally share wins and fails with her, she laughs at your lame jokes, but she is the first to help you up when you need it. A soul sister to me is my dearest and bestest friend.

My favourite things to do with my soul sisters are…

I think the best thing is that we don’t do the typical stuff. Yes we drink wine, eat cheese and dance to really old and pathetic songs, but we also find ourselves doing really funny, weird and random things that are probably too embarrassing to mention to anyone else – but we get it, and to us, it’s hilarious.

How do you maintain quality friendships with so much on?

It can be hard and it becomes a little like date night where you need to schedule well in advance. But we send lots of messages and keep in contact. When we catch up though it doesn’t feel any different, even if it has been 3 months.

What are your favourite traits that your soul sisters have?

They are all quirky and unique in their own way. I love that they keep it real and are brutally honest. If I’m avoiding something they will pull me up on it and support me through whatever it is. They are also hilarious.

What makes your soul light up?

Laughter. It’s been a while since I freely laughed without guilt, but it really does warm my soul.

The other thing is feathers, I see feathers as a sign from my loved ones who have passed away, especially my son. Whenever I see a feather my heart smiles and faith is restored. It’s amazing that when it comes down to it, it’s the simple things that I get pure enjoyment from.

What causes are you supporting at the moment?

Oh so many! One of the causes is around animals. I am a huge animal rights advocate and am incredibly passionate about reducing cruelty in the world. I love raising awareness around how common this is.

The other main cause I am very passionate about is raising awareness for pregnancy and infant loss. It’s a taboo topic, but an incredibly painful experience. For every 4 pregnant women, 1 will experience this type of loss. That is huge. That is a stillborn baby every 6 hours in Australia. These women walk around with heavy hearts for the rest of their lives and they are forced to do it silently.

If I make any difference in this world I want it to be about raising awareness on these topics. People and animals should not suffer.

Connect with Lauren:

Facey: https://www.facebook.com/Mumspirationaustralia/?fref=ts

Inst: @mumspiration_au

Website: http://mumspiration.com.au

 

 

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Breaking the Stigma

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Trigger note: The following article discusses mental illness and suicide.  

Some of my most favourite people in the world are men. My Dad and brother are two of my best friends. My partner is hands down my favourite person in the Universe. I have grown up with plenty of guys as my closest friends, and lots of my best friends today are male.

Which is why it absolutely breaks me that today, males are 3.3 times more likely to die by suicide than females.

In my short time in business, I have grown my client base to more than 30 clients seeking help and guidance relating to stress levels, life direction and just generally needing someone to talk to. Want to guess how many of the 30+ clients are male?

One.

This has been far from intentional. I haven’t set out to grow a woman-centric business. Sometimes I even joke I should have been born a male, I can relate to them so much.

The not-so-funny thing is, each time I share a video or one of my posts, I am inundated with public comments from women who can relate, sharing their own stories and supporting each other. What is interesting is the amount of private messages I receive from…you guessed it…males. Thanking me for sharing my stories of mental illness, saying it is like they wrote it themselves. I have had multiple men enquire about booking a session with me, but when it comes to showing up, only one has followed through.

Mental illness should not be a gendered issue. But it is heading that way.

In 2014, three quarters of those who died by suicide were male. The current ratio of male to female suicide is 3:1.

I spoke to mental health advocate Andrew Smythe who is one of the leading male mental health advocates in Australia. Here is what he had to say:

When I started blogging the public comments I received on the Facebook posts were all girls sharing similar things. But what blew me away and still does is the amount of guys who private message on Facebook and Instagram talking about their issues.

They won’t talk in public. I have even had close mates say they are battling anxiety or depression but they don’t want anyone to know.

And that makes me go what the fuck is going on. I honestly believe guys think it’s a sign of weakness. The Australian male is stereotypically strong, masculine and an emotional brick. Nothing is supposed to phase them and that’s what is making everything so much worse.

I don’t think there are enough male role models talking about mental health. A lot of guys are saying it’s good to see a tradie being open about it, but my job shouldn’t have anything to do with it!

I also asked a bunch of men from all walks of life – tradies, musicians, corporates, fathers, sons, brothers – why are men not asking for help or admitting when something is wrong?

Here is a snippet of some of their responses:

  • Part of it is the male culture of not wanting to admit anythings wrong/that tough image, but also a lot of it comes down to potentially not having the support base or knowing where to go to have those kinds of conversations.. I felt I couldn’t really go to ‘the boys’ to have those kind of convos and there are topics that you wouldn’t bring up with your mates
  • Stigma of being the old fashioned family provider and trying to portray the alpha male persona
  • I think mainly being seen as weak
  • I think totally for some dudes it’s a shame thing
  • Being too scared to admit somethings wrong
  • I think it comes from the ‘it’ll be right’ type of personality. Putting it aside and keeping occupied
  • I feel like that asking for help is still seen as being ‘unmanly’… Whether it be about something as simple as like asking for directions, or asking for help about a mental health issue.. I think it’s related
  • We don’t like to admit that we’re susceptible to the media. We believe we’re smarter than advertising tricks. But I’m willing to bet, that if you throw as much investment behind TV shows that clearly show situations where men both seek help, and resolve everyday problems (without repercussion or dismissal), then you will see a very fast transition in the stereotype of what it really means to be a man

 

I will let all of that sink in with you for a moment.

The thing is, every single male I asked said, without a doubt, if a mate came to them saying they felt like something was wrong with their mental health, they would do everything they could to support and help. Totally opposite to the lies this stigma tells us.

Last week I realised the vision of my business is to work towards the destigmatisation of mental illness. NOT just with women. For us all.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. You are not crazy or weird or weak. There is ALWAYS someone to talk to. I will continue to share my stories and experiences in the hopes that you realise you are not alone. We are all in this together.

If there is a male in your life you love more than anything, please share this with them. Talk to them. Ask them if they are really okay. I truly believe together we can work to drastically decrease these serious statistics, and chip away at a stigma that we all know exists, and is just not serving anyone.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be suffering with depression or having thoughts of suicide, please talk to your GP, local health professional or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

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Soul Sister Sunday

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With Lisa (left) from Lisa Catherine Couture...

I am SO excited to be sharing this talented woman with the world today. Not only is she an accomplished nurse (nurses are my heroes  any person who can commit themselves to helping others is amazing in my eyes) but she has just launched her very own couture line – Lisa Catherine Couture! The designs are absolutely stunning, I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful they are. Just go and see for yourself. She is off to Greece next month to further develop her craft and I am so excited to witness her soar…

A soul sister to me is….

A friend that shares the same values as me – respect & honesty. Someone who I can call at any time and that will listen whole heartedly.

A soul sister is someone that laughs at the same stupid jokes, who trusts you wholly and supports you unconditionally. It is someone who gives you constructive criticism because they believe in your potential.

Being soul sisters is a mutually beneficial relationship based on lifting each other up in life.

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(Our soul sister Lauren features in the new LCC campaign. Amazing right?)
My favourite things to do with my soul sisters are…

Drink coffee and vent! My girlfriends constantly support me and my many nursing and design adventures. I love hearing my friends problems too. Sorting out a way to help them means a lot to me, I always want them to be happy 😊

I always love to do the bay run with my friends! Exercising your mouth and body is always a great way to spend time with your friends.

How do you maintain quality friendships with so much on?

For me it’s phone calls and texting. I speak to my close friends almost everyday on the phone and we catch up on everything in each other’s lives. We are often all on different schedules so catching up in person is often not possible.

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(All designs are custom-made with the Spring ready-to-wear collection to be shot in Greece this July…)

What are your favourite traits that your soul sisters have?

Honesty, integrity and the constant drive to achieve their goals.

What makes your soul light up?

Seeing my friends and family happy is so important to me. I love watching my niece grow, she’s such a happy healthy baby and she always makes me smile.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am going to study in Greece for two weeks this July with uni. We will be looking at the way plastic is used on an island called Kefalonia and design ways to better recycle or reuse it. Environmental sustainability is really important to me so this trip will be a fantastic learning experience ! I am also going to India to study print and embroidery in November. I am so excited to work with the artisans and to create some beautiful textiles that I can incorporate in my own label, LCC.

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Connect with LCC:

Inst: https://www.instagram.com/lisacatherinecouture/

Facey: https://www.facebook.com/lisacatherinecouture/?pnref=story

Web: http://www.lisacatherinecouture.com.au

 

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“If money didn’t exist, would you still wake up every day and do what you do for a living?”

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This quote jumped out at me when I was reading Oprah’s What I know For Sure a little while back, and I was reminded of it again in my Instagram feed this week.

“If money didn’t exist, would you still wake up every day and do what you do for a living?”

Pretty powerful hey?

How many of you said no?

Why?

Why is it you are currently doing what you are doing, purely for financial reasons?

Is it security? Self-worth? Something that you have always done, and as such it feels comfortable for you?

If you are happy living in this way then I applaud you, that is wonderful. Happiness and health are the two values I put before anything else, so as long as you are happy and it isn’t impacting your health, then go for it!

The irony is, I wasn’t either of these things a little over a year ago.

My health was suffering and I was seriously unhappy. Don’t get me wrong, I was good at my job, loved the people I worked with and the clients alike, everything added up. But there was this little niggle inside me that this was not my path. This wasn’t my purpose.

I was comfortable, yes. But the passion had gone. And it isn’t ever fair for the place you work at OR for yourself if you are staying in a job for the stability as opposed to truly wanting to be there.

My parents have been amazing role models in this case.

My father has been a musician his entire life – starting out in the family band at 14 and today, performing as Australia’s leading percussionist all those years later. Has it been easy for him? No. Being a musician means finding your own work, and anyone familiar with the Australian music scene, especially at the moment, knows that that can mean LONG periods without work. But is he happy and healthy? Yes. When he works, is he doing it because he loves it? Yes.

#Goals right?

Same with Mum. She teaches at a lower socio-economic school in Sydney’s west, making the trek from Mosman every day and SHE LOVES IT. Are the days hard at times? Yes. Doesn’t she realise it would be much easier to work at a north shore school, saving her petrol money and tolls? Yes. But then she wouldn’t be doing what she TRULY loves, which is helping the misfortunate children from struggling families.

It’s ironic that I have had these two as role models my entire life, yet still put immense pressure on myself to find a stable job and climb the corporate ladder because I assumed that was what was expected of me. By who exactly?

Myself.

I had convinced myself that to be a responsible adult, I needed to find a financially secure job and work at it my whole life to save money to do things that I liked when I had time to take off from my secure job. But only for 4 weeks a year obviously, because #annualleave.

This may be a common existence but it doesn’t make it normal. Maybe I am alone here, but how much better is it waking up every morning feeling excited about the day ahead regardless of whether it is a Monday or a Friday? When you are truly lit up every day by what you do, and are rewarded financially because of it….but it isn’t even about the money, it is just about that feeling of satisfaction you get from doing what you do?

Don’t get me wrong, money IS important. But there are always ways to make things work. I started my business in January this year, and in 5 months it has grown to more than 30 clients, writing opportunities for leading publications and speaking opportunities on the horizon. Amazing things are happening. That being said, I am currently living with my partner’s family to save money, and I am also working casual hours at beautiful jewellery boutique Lotus Mendes for stable income. For a lot of people this may seem to be a ‘failure’ – I have a University degree, have worked in corporate for 5 years…why step back into retail?

Because I love it. It supports my health (especially following last year’s struggles). And it enables me to build the business of my dreams. There are ALWAYS ways around your obstacles. You just have to genuinely look for them, with zero judgement – park those preconceived ideas and get to work!

If money didn’t exist, what would you be doing right now?

And what is currently holding you back from doing it?

Need a hand? I would love to hear from you.

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