YESSTYLE.COM – it was a fashion website that was big back when I was in high school, but it was also a website that I never bought from because I never had any money and everything looked so expensive. I don’t know what compelled me to, but a few weeks ago I decided to go on the website and make my first order. Do I regret it? Absolutely not!

If you are into your Asian, Kpop, Linen (and all the above) fashion then this is definitely a website you will thoroughly enjoy. Something that was only meant to be a quick browse while I was on the toilet, soon turned into an hour of me watching, wish listing and saving a bunch of items I didn’t even know I “needed” in my wardrobe.

Since this was my first experience ordering from the website I decided to provide a review for all of you guys who are contemplating on thinking of placing an order from YESSTYLE.COM.


I believe it’s a website dedicated to a bunch of different manufacturers and sellers from around Asia – think of eBay but a lot more classier, no used, vintage items and actual regulations. They sell a crazy amount of different things for men, women and children. From clothing, underwear, swimwear, shoes & accessories to asian cosmetics, skincare, home & lifestyle.


The website is made all electronic device friendly. They do have an app, which I refuse to download to resist any urges to do unnecessary shopping. But the website made it easy to navigate, watch and place orders on items. They even have subcategorised menus for things such as new items, 48 hour sale, in-stock items, Korean highlights and Japanese highlights.

The products they sell have a good amount of images, varying from inspiring outfit ideas to close up detailed images.

If you’re lucky a few of the products also have a few reviews from past consumers, which was very helpful when it came to sizing.


I don’t know what happened but it seems that within the last few years YESSTYLE has become a lot more affordable. Don’t get me wrong, they still have their pricier items, but they consistently do flash sales (probably every couple of days) so you are always bound to get a good bargain.

Depending on where you live, free shipping can be available. They have deals such as “spend over $50AU, receive free shipping” – which of course I did, spending $50+ isn’t hard to do when it comes to clothes!

Now this is where I have a little story to tell you guys that made me become a very impressed and satisfied consumer on YESSTYLE.

During initial purchase I had ordered 6 different items, all in which they had to wait until arrival to the factory before actually shipping to me. Within the next 24 hours I had received an email notifying me that one of the items was no longer in stock. Not only was there an apology attached to the email but also a full refund on the item and spending credit worth $5US for next purchase. After getting my money back for the unavailable item plus extra credit on top of that – I was happy and not phased at all by the loss of purchase.

The arrival of my package came within the week – which is very fast considering I didn’t pay a single dollar for shipping.


When it comes to online clothes shopping for Asian based websites, I tend to become very wary about the sizing. Usually their “One size fits all” really means “One size fits small”. And their large means our medium.

The website does provide measurements for all items and depending on what item, they actually have a great amount of size selections, some actually went from XS to XXL. Which I thought was fantastic!

However, even though they provided measurements for all the sizes, I had learnt my lesson from a few other websites and instead opted for the larger sizes.

When my package arrived I found that everything was true to size. EVERYTHING. Some actually came quite bigger than expected – but I don’t mind, I always like the extra room for a food baby.


I’m obsessed with the website, I have since initial purchase been upgraded to a “Bronze Member” which includes a $10US credit voucher and 3% discount from all future purchases. Honey, I’ve got so many items on watch that I know I will be a “Diamond Member” by the end of the year.

All the items I received are top notch quality, true to size and affordable. I can’t complain. The items were so unique to what I would find here at our local shopping malls.

I do recommend that you guys check out the website, it may be your next go to impulse shopping website.


Snow Flower – Print Collared Linen-Blend Dress



A breathable linen dress. One that I can’t wait to wear for the warmer seasons.

Clover Dream – Linen Cotton Panel Shirtdress

$27.86 AU


One of my favourite purchases from the lot. I’ve worn this dress about 3x already in the last two weeks. Again, breathable linen fabric – perfect for the upcoming warmer seasons, comfortable and plenty of room to run, chase and squat after the kids.

Clover Dream – Linen Jumper Midi Dress



How adorable is this piece?! Imagine, a white T and white canvas shoes for the Summer time. Heck yeah! This is probably one of the items I was uming about before payment. I am sometimes wary when it comes to wearing overalls – even though they’re absolutely adorable. They tend to accentuate my food belly, but not with this one. It’s flattering in the most awesome way, comfortable and breathable.

Fancy Show – Check Cropped Pants



I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Anything with or close to a tartan print is always automatically placed into my basket. These cropped pants are definitely no exception. Cute right? Yeah, thought so.

HOTCAKE – Print Crewneck T-Shirt



Why not get a graphic T that has a phrase I constantly use as a mother? Something I know I’ll be wearing as a basic with absolutely anything.

So this sums up my haul from YESSTYLE.COM I hope you all found it helpful. Let me know if you guys ever bought from there and paste any links as well!


Easy Mom Spring OOTD Ideas

Hi guys!

It’s that time of the year. The time where we are transitioning from Winter into Spring and we can’t decide whether we are hot or cold, whether it’s too early or not to pack our coats away and whether or not denim shorts are appropriate to wear just yet.

It can be very confusing, especially for a mother who is just after something comfortable to wear so we can actually chase our kids. Honestly, if it were up to me I’d say Pj’s all year round, but there’s just something about flannel pajamas and school drop offs that shouts “hey fellow mothers! judge me!”.

Here are a few outfit ideas that are comfortable, transitional and also affordable. Majority of the items mentioned is actually from my Kmart Spring Fashion Haul. Haven’t read it yet? Then CLICK HERE.

 Outfit #1

  • Tartan Dress – Korea
  • Mustard Jumper – H&M
  • Black Scarf – Ebay
  • Baret – Ebay
  • Boots – Payless

Honestly? This is what my husband would call a typical Vanessa outfit. Anything that resembles a tartan print is usually put straight into my basket and into my wardrobe. What I love about this shirt/dress is that it’s long enough to wear on it’s own when it get’s warm, but perfect with a pair of tights for when it get’s cold.

Outfit #2

  • Dress – Kmart
  • Scarf – Jeans West
  • Boots – Kmart
  • Bag – Kmart

The flow of the dress allows me to sprint after my kids (literally – my son is a fast runner) and just overall feels so comfortable. You know what the best thing about this outfit is? I literally just threw on a dress, a scarf and boots and automatically looked put together.

Outfit #3

  • Top – Kmart
  • Skirt – Salvation Army
  • Scarf – Hand me down
  • Tote Bag – Made by yours truly
  • Shoes – Kmart

I’ve probably worn this outfit 5 times already in the last month. It’s just so darn comfortable and adorable! It just screams buying a bouquet of flowers from the farmers market (and I actually did with this outfit. Ha!).

Outfit #4

  • Top – Kmart
  • Boyfriend Jeans – Big W
  • Bag – Aldo
  • Shoes – Kmart

This is what I typically would wear to my kids playgroup, sport classes or anything that requires me to be more active than usual. It’s comfortable, not restrictive and still looks put together.

So that sums up todays blog post. A big thank you to my fellow mother friend Griz for giving me this “Easy Mommy Outfit” idea. You are a charm!

Thank you for visiting today. I will see you all next Wednesday with our next post!


Spring Cleaning Checklist

A new season is here! And generally that’s a sign for me to deep clean, cull and reorganise our home – in other words Spring clean. Yes, I don’t just leave Spring cleaning for Spring, I tend to do it at every turn of a new season.

I thought I’d give you guys a copy of our checklist of the thing’s our family does when we Spring clean. Keep in mind this list usually takes about a week to complete – depending on how much you own… and we own a lot!



  • Wipe surfaces
  • Dust and clean rugs/mats
  • Wipe down front door


  • Empty and purge
  • Dust Shelves and storage
  • Clean and polish shoes
  • Reorganise
  • Wipe stair case railing and glass


  • Dust shelves, coffee table, entertainment unit, decor and surfaces
  • Dust Lampshades and light fixtures
  • Launder all cushions and throw blankets
  • Wipe down windows
  • Purge and donate items
  • Polish and wipe couch (if leather)
  • Dust and air rugs
  • Wipe remote controls


  • Wipe Surfaces and light fixtures
  • Wipe windows and mirrors
  • Wipe tables


  • Scrub shower, sink and counter tops
  • Clean shower drain
  • Empty, purge and reorganise drawers and shelves
  • Purge and restock medicine cabinet
  • Empty and Wash bin
  • Scrub toilet
  • Wipe mirrors


  • Empty, purge, reorganise and wipe down fridge and freezer
  • Empty, purge, reorganise and wipe down pantry
  • Wipe down microwave and stove top
  • Deep clean oven
  • Wipe down cabinets
  • Wipe down appliances
  • Scrub sink, dish rack & faucet
  • Wipe down rangehood
  • Wipe down counter tops, bar and bar stools.


  • Dust and wipe light fixtures
  • Clean windows and blinds
  • Shake & air out rugs
  • Empty, purge and reorganise wardrobes
  • Purge and donate knick knacks
  • Wipe down all furniture and shelves
  • Wash beddings
  • Turn mattress over
  • Wipe door knobs, door and light switch
  • Wipe mirrors
  • Purge and reorganise kids toys


  • Purge and organise paper work
  • Purge, organise and restock office supplies
  • Organise computer files and hard drives
  • Organise emails and folders
  • Dust and wipe down surfaces
  • Purge and reorganise craft supplies, make up collection and DVDS.
  • Wipe light fixtures
  • Organise and label chargers and cables
  • Clean camera equipment
  • Dust and air out rugs


  • Dust and wipe aircon vents
  • Dust and wipe walls and wall skirting
  • Dust and wipe door frames
  • Vacuum
  • Steam Mop


  • Weed the garden
  • Mow, edger and water the lawn
  • High pressure driveway and decking
  • Brush cob webs
  • Wipe down outdoor furniture
  • Dust and wash cushions
  • Harvest and fertilise vegetable garden

Seems like a lot isn’t? Lol, that’s pretty much what it takes to make sure I have a dust and clutter free home. Thank you all for visiting today’s blog post.

See you all soon!


What I Love About Being A Mother

Yes, like every other parent, I have my off parenting days. Days where I literally feel like I’ve completed no tasks but yelling till my throat is tired. I could vent for hours upon hours on how my son James laid on the floor of our local Kmart screaming, because he didn’t want to leave ( I felt his pain, I never want to leave Kmart either). Or how my daughter Maddy told me I “broke her heart into two” when I told her she can’t have an ice block for breakfast – true story.

Honestly I’ve had the moments where I’ve been so frustrated I actually yelled “FUCK” to the ceiling (as if someone was actually going to bust through the roof and save me) and yes I’ve had minutes where I day dream and make a mental note of all things I’m going to do when the kids finally hit primary school (6 hours of complete silence – heck yeah!). All mothers do that. It doesn’t mean we hate motherhood, or that we regret having babies. I love being mother. Hands down has got to be the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. Apart from discovering Korean Dramas – have you ever watched an episode? It’s a drug I tell you!

You know what beats the thing’s that my kids do that drive me insane? The things they do that make me love being a mother! To celebrate our special day – Mothers Day. I have listed a few things that I love about being a mother.

1. The Lessons They’ve Taught Me

My kids have taught me more lessons than I could have ever learnt in my years of studying, reading books and pinning on Pinterest. All us mothers can agree that our kids have enlightened us, taught us things about ourselves, about the world and about empathy.

As annoying as the constant “why?” our kids ask us can be, it really opens up our minds.

“Mum, why is the sky blue?” Had to google that one.

“Mum, why does everything cost money?”

“Mum, if you and daddy are true loves first kiss then why are you yelling at each other?” 

There was even a time when I explained to Maddy what poverty is and she asked me “Why don’t people who have money share it with the poor people?” Yes, my four year old asked me that. Trying to explain an answer to what seemed like a simple question made me just sit still and think “far out, ay.”

I’ve always been a person with a lot of empathy, but never to the level that I have now. Our kids have so much innocence. They haven’t been jaded like we have. They don’t see things as complicated as we do. They have a fresh new set of eyes that makes me look at things and learn lessons that I’ve never realised before.

2. Forgiveness

Kids are all about forgiving. One minute they are literally fist fighting with each other, the next they are both holding hands and playing like nothing ever happened. Kids forgive so easily, they never carry a grudge.

No good parent loves spanking or yelling at their children. Yes we do it, because it’s our job to teach them the difference between right and wrong, and sometimes yes we do it out of frustration, but the second we do it we feel guilt and sorry.

I can’t even count the amount of times I secretly cried in my room after I’ve spanked James on the arse for drawing on the walls. I spank him, he cries, I cry and then he forgives me.

No matter how much I’ve yelled, “broken my kids hearts into two” or made my kids cry, they will always come to back to me, hug me and love me. And that’s one thing I will never forget. Your kids will always forgive you.

3. Purpose & Strength

When I went through morning sickness for three months, I felt like giving up.

When I pushed and got 2nd degree tears during birth, I felt like giving up.

When I had sleepless nights because I was rocking a crying baby, I felt like giving up.

There were tough days I thought I’d never get through and I’d think “Shit, I can’t do this.” But somehow I did. I got through them all. And that was because of my children. They gave and showed a strength in me that I didn’t even know I had.

And this is the reason why I think parenthood is probably the most challenging thing you will ever go through in your entire life. Because when you become a parent, you will forever have the responsibility of being a parent. You can’t give up and say “I quit this job, it sucks, I don’t want it.” You force yourself to get through the tough times. And you do it, every-fucken-day.

I remember it took me about 2 years to realise my fathers death, 2 fricken years from his funeral to realise he was actually gone and wasn’t on a long vacation. Boy, was I a mess. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to eat or get ready for the day. I wanted to stay in bed for a month, not change my underwear and just cry. But I didn’t. I had a purpose to wake up for, I had my children waiting for their mum to come and get them out of bed.

On my lowest of lows my kids always remained to give me a purpose, a purpose to get up out of bed every single morning, a purpose to take care of my health and myself. They are your reason to keep on going and stand up tall during the hardest of times.

4. Laughter

As much as my kids drive me up the wall with their antics, they also use those antics to have me rolling on the floor laughing (literally, ROFL).

I could spend the entire day chasing my kids, yelling at them, putting them in the naughty corner over something ridiculous that they’ve done. But, no matter what, at the end of every single day, I find myself reflecting and I start laughing. It’s the exact same ridiculous things my kids did which drove me up the wall, that also had me laughing in bed that very moment.

There was a time when Maddy was just under 2 years old and she kept running away from me every time I tried giving her her medicine. She would bolt and I would have to chase after her. She tried running and hiding from me so many times that she ended up getting stuck under the dining table – don’t ask me how. At the time I was so upset and frustrated, but later on that night I was in tears from laughing at the exact same situation.

Children will make you experience a time of laughter you’ve never had before, and they will guarantee to give you that every single day, for the rest of your life. It’s amazing.

5. Love

I’ve loved many before my children. I loved hard. But then my kids were introduced into my life and I experienced a whole new level of love. It’s really a different kind of love. It’s different to the love you have for your own parents, for your friends or your partner. I don’t know if this will make any kind of sense but the love a mother has for her children is like this warm, pure, light, unconditional glow of love.

I remember when I had my first born Maddy, I was head over heels in love with her. My whole universe revolved around her. Then I got pregnant with James. I had this fear before he came. I was worried and thought “No way could I have enough love to give him, I’ve used it all up on Maddy.” But I was wrong. As soon as I held James in my arms for the first time, I felt it. I felt that warm, pure, light, unconditional glow of love for him. It was like the love just poured out and kept refilling. I didn’t run out of it like I thought I would. It was an outpour of love.

Children give you this sense and type of love that you will never experience any other way. It’s just beautiful.

There are so many more things I love about being a mother. Like seeing my kids satisfied faces after they eat a home made meal I’ve prepared, dancing like crazy with them to Kpop or the late night cuddles I get when they sneak into our bedroom at 2 o’clock in the morning. Motherhood has a lot of perks and I would never exchange it for anything in this world.

Happy Mothers Day to my fellow warriors out there. Please never forget everything we do as Mothers. We are strong, amazing women, who always gets shit done, juggles tasks, has a permanent memo in our heads and continuously wipes spilt milk. We are the bravest and strongest out there and no one could ever replace our position – because only we can do, what we do, for our own. Happy Mothers Day!

xo Vanessa

Dear Maddy Ava,

To My Dearest Daughter Maddy,

You, only a few hours old. My precious little girl. So new to this world.

As I am writing you this letter I am watching you play with your baby brother James in the park. You are both currently pretending to serve invisible cupcakes and pizza to invisible customers. You always had such an imagination. Ever so often I am hearing James call out for you to help him climb something. You’re such a good Ate*.

I am writing this letter to you in hopes that you will read this in the distant future. Hopefully as you are reading this myself and other women before you have made the world a more hopeful place. A place where you can fulfil your dreams and have more opportunities.

Mum isn’t the wisest person you will ever come across – Well, I certainly hope not. But as I’ve lived my life thus this far, there are a few things I’ve learnt along the way. A few secrets to a happier life. Shh… don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret.

1. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should live your life – even dad and I.

This is your life, you are the only person living it, you are the only person dealing with the struggles, the thoughts and the results, so live it on your own accord.

I spent a lot of my years wasted by following other peoples rules, other peoples labels and expectations. I thought I had to be a certain way or else I was living life wrong. It was mentally and physically exhausting. It made me often cry and feel like I was never good enough.

You were always so eccentric with your fashion.

People would tell me “You’re a mother, you can’t have a career, your only obligations are cooking and cleaning” or “You’re a Christian, you’re not allowed to associate with gay people and others belonging to different religions”. It wasn’t what I believed in, but it was what I was expected to live by.

People will tell you ‘You’re a girl, you’re a mother, you’re a wife, so you’re suppose to only do this and you can’t do that’. Honey, it’s all a bunch of bullsh*t.

Do not let other people define you. Whether it be a religion, a culture, a clique or society. No one tells you how you should be or what you’re expected to do. Follow your own set of rules – just don’t break the law. You know the difference between being a good person and being a bad person and that is all that matters. The sooner you free yourself from other peoples expectations and rules, the sooner you will be able to live your life for yourself.

2. Relationships.

19th November 2012 – The date you were brought into this world.

In your lifetime you will go through many different types of relationships whether it be friendship or love. People will always come and go. I just want you to know the difference between someone who’s only meant to pass by and someone who’s meant to stay.

When I was younger your grandma and grandpa use to tell me “Vanessa I don’t like so and so as your friend, they don’t really care about you.” I use to snub their opinions and I ended up getting hurt. It’s true when they say you’re parents can tell when you’ve got a good person in your life and when you don’t. I was stubborn and blind, so I learnt the hard way.

You will have “friends” who only talk to you seasonally, who only approach you when they want something or need something. Those aren’t friends.

You will also have “friends” who only care about social status and climbing the social ladder – those aren’t friends. They have issues they need to deal with on their own.

Then you will also meet the people that only want to have fun. That is what they are there for. To have fun. So have fun with them. Just remember gossiping is not a way to have fun, hurting others is not a way to have fun.   

Don’t be friends with people who make you question yourself as a human being, who make you cry or feel awful. Don’t associate with people who enjoy hurting others and gossip. If they can do it to other people, how do you know they don’t do it to you?

Find a partner that cherishes you and loves you as you do them. There has to be a balance. No they love me more than I love them. I don’t want you to be in that kind of toxic relationship. Find someone that is gentle, caring, loving and passionate. Find someone just like your father. I struck gold with him  there aren’t many men as wonderful as your father is.

Your partner needs to be present. Your partner needs to notice when you are struggling and they need know when to help you. Never settle for someone who only has their own feelings in mind.

Remember, relationships need a strong foundation and hard work from both ends. It is a a two way street. If you don’t find the right person, then don’t be in a relationship. Don’t fear the word single.

3. Work your ass off.

You always snuck into mummy’s make up drawers.

You can be anything you want to be in this world. Anything.

You want to build an empire? You can do it.

You want to teach primary school? You can do it.

If what you want to do isn’t even a job title… make it one.

You can do absolutely anything this world has to offer. BUT. You need to work your ass off. The world owes you absolutely nothing. You will never get what you want by just sitting down and expecting it to happen. You have to go out there and do what you can, with all you can, to get what you want.

Have passion for life and work hard. If you work hard, you put in the time, the effort and the focus – you can do anything you want in life.

4. Be strong and stand up.

Your love for music started at a very early age.

It’s hard to know who you are as a person. It’s taken mum this long and I’m still unsure on days. Some people live their whole life not knowing who they are until they’re last five minutes of life. But know your values, know what you believe in and don’t be afraid to stand up and argue.

Live your life with passion, be offended. Because I want you too be a strong woman who’s not afraid to speak up. Don’t sit on the side lines while you watch someone get bullied or hurt. Don’t just sit on the side lines when someone tells you you can’t do something. You shut them up and let them know they can’t make that same mistake again.

Don’t be afraid to be who you are and act like how you want to. This is your life, your body, your personality. Don’t change yourself to “fit in”. Right now there are far too many women who look like a Kardashian – it’s ridiculous.

5. Don’t judge. Always be kind.

You would always sneak into your baby brothers cot whenever he cried.

Be kind. Princess please be kind to people. Stay as kind hearted as you are now. Share. Give what you can to those who are less fortunate. Mum and Dad didn’t work hard so that the world could suffer.


Never ever hurt someone on purpose. The last thing I want is to receive a call from school to find out that you’ve been a bully.

Treat everyone with respect and stand up for those who have no voice. We are lucky and fortunate enough to live in a country where our voice is heard and I want you to share that blessing with the world.

Don’t be afraid to apologise – when you’ve done something wrong.

Don’t judge. Be open minded. The sooner you realise there is diversity in the world, the sooner you will lose your fear of the unknown and instead become curious and happier. Not everyone will live their life like you, and you won’t live your life like everyone else.

Mummy pregnant with you. You and your brother made being a mother the best job in the world.

As much as I’d like to trust that your father and I have raised you with enough knowledge to battle everything that comes at you in your adults life, I’m never sure. And in all honesty, that terrifies me. It terrifies every mother.

I never want to see you suffer, hurt or experience any moments in your life of self doubt.

There’s a quote by Peggy O’mara and she said “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” And I am doing everything in my might to instil in your mind that you are a beautiful, loving, strong woman who can do anything and everything she wants to in life. Please never think otherwise.

I love you so much.

Love mummy.

Ps. Make your brother read this, if you can… he’s always been a stubborn little bugger.

*Ate – a filipino term added to females older than you as a sign of respect.

The Power Of Woman – Jennifer Kieves

Growing up my oldest sister Jennifer and I were never really close. We have a 13 year age gap so there was never a time we could relate to one another. She’d be an angst teen obsessing over boys while I was learning how to walk. When I became an angst teen obsessing over boys – she was picking a wedding dress and having babies. It’s only now that I am in my late twenties with a family of my own that I feel like we are finally at the same age of life, that we can finally relate to one another and talk for hours on end.

Growing up there were three things that I was protective of. One was my wardrobe, touched my organised wardrobe and you were about to become a victim to a teenage temper tantrum. Two, my collection of Korean soap operas – never ever make me press pause during an episode. Three, my family. I, the annoying youngest sister was the only one who was allowed to tease them.

I remember I was 19 years old and I was upstairs in my room crying to Tony (this was before we got married – young love). By crying I mean screaming and yelling with tears running down my face. We had just come back from a Sunday church service and I was furious.

While we were at church that day Tony’s best friend had shown me a few FB status’ and comments that had happened the night before. FB status’ and comments that were ridiculing and bullying my oldest sister, Ate* Jennifer. I was furious. So furious that I was in tears. At the time I wasn’t as present as I am now on social media, so I had absolutely no idea all of this was happening.

“Calm down hun, it’ll be okay.” Tony would try and comfort me. Bad idea. Just made it worse. Men should know never to tell a woman to calm down when she is on a rant.

“How dare they! How dare these people make fun of my sister! How dare they judge my sister! They have no idea the bullshit she’s had to go through!” I was fuming.

It had been less than a year since Ate Jennifer and her three children had left her husband and moved back into my parents house, but it was for years before that that she was in an abusive relationship with a man who was addicted to all types of substances. Ice, gambling and physical abuse was his substances of choice.

My father and Ate Jennifer heard the commotion. They both came to the room to see if everything was okay. That’s when Tony explained the story to them both. Here my family thought Tony and I were on the brink of breaking up, when we weren’t. I was crying because people at church were gossiping, labelling and judging my sister publicly on social media.

“It’s okay Vanessa, don’t cry…” She softly said to me as she patted my back. “I’ve been through too many thing’s in my life to care what people think about me.”

Yes, my sister who was the subject of ridicule was comforting ME – 19 year old me who couldn’t control her emotions.

Now, if you know my Ate Jennifer you would know she’s a very kind and soft person. Too kind to be honest. She has a lot of my dad’s personality in her. People would often confuse that kindness for stupidity. That softness for ignorance. I use to think the same. That was until I grew up and she opened her soul to me for this article.

I thought I had known everything my sister had gone through – I didn’t. And now that I am older, more mature, more wise. Now that I am a mother, a wife, a woman, I see it. I see her for who she really is. A loving, kind and strong woman who has had a past, but not a past to be labelled as an excuse of judgements and bullying. A past that gave her the battle scars and the lessons that has made her into the devoted mother she is today.

“He seemed like a really good man – I fell in love…”

“It was 1996 when my ex husband was first introduced to me. I remember thinking ’No!’ when I first heard about him. But then people told me to give him a shot, go on a date with him, if I don’t like him I can walk away. So, I gave him a try.”

Like normally, in the beginning of every relationship, they couldn’t get enough of one another. “Everything about him seemed so normal at first. We went on dates, we watched movies, we ate. We got to know each other, he cared about me, he seemed like a really good man – I fell in love…

When he asked for her hand in marriage she accepted happily. They both had two sons and a daughter- my nephew Joshua. He was a cheeky little bugger, with the biggest head I’ve ever seen. Jenelle my gorgeous and funny niece, who was born under emergency caesarean at 25 weeks premature. And my nephew Monico – an older version of my son James.

When she noticed the substance abuse

“He would never spend time with the kids. We would hardly see him. He spent all night out with friends or in his garage where he made a man cave for himself. And he would sleep all day. He would get a job, work for a couple of weeks and then stop again. He wouldn’t work.” Ate Jennifer began explaining the moments when things started getting fishy.

“I noticed people who I never knew started coming over to our house and spending hours in the garage. The kids would see these strangers who came over and would ask me ‘Who are they mum? Why are they going in the garage with dad?’ I got curious. One day when he wasn’t home I looked into the garage, that’s when I saw all these drugs and equipment he had been using.” She realised what he had been spending all his nights doing.

He was a drug user and a dealer. He would deal out of our family home.”

When the abuse started

It was before Jennifer was pregnant with Monico when things started to get abusive. “He was mentally abusive. He would call me horrible names and say horrible things to me. He wouldn’t help me with the housework or with the kids. He would always say it’s a woman’s job. Its a woman’s job to clean the house. It was hard when I was heavily pregnant with the kids. I would do everything.”

Then one night, which started out like every other night. Joshua and Jenelle were sound asleep in their beds and Ate Jennifer had ended her day. It was in the middle of that night when she was suddenly woken up by her husband. “I woke up to him turning the light on in the room and yelling. ‘Are you cheating? Are you seeing someone?’ He was so angry and I had no idea why. That’s when he suddenly hit me and gave me a black eye.” Ate Jennifer was mortified and had no idea what was going on.

The next day when he was sober, he didn’t realise he had hurt me. He saw my black eye and asked me what happened. He didn’t remember it was him who did it. I told his family. I told them I wanted to leave him. I told them I was scared.” But instead they told her he would change. To give him a chance to change.

I loved him. He’s the father to my kids. I thought that he would change for me and the kids. I thought he loved us enough to make a change. I look back at it now and I realise he was a smooth talker. He was manipulative and I believed him. ” So she gave him a chance – many chances actually.

Things only got worse…

“It was my birthday. Everyone, family and friends celebrated. All our uncles and aunts were there. We were at a karaoke restaurant.  I was looking at people coming people in and out of the restaurant. Then he started yelling at me in front of everyone ‘Are you looking at somebody? Who are you looking at?’ He was causing such a scene. He suddenly got up and tried to hit me in front of everyone. In front of mum. In front of dad.” It was then that our father and uncle got up and started yelling at him to stop.

“It was an emotional night. That was how I spent my birthday. I stayed at mum and dads house that night. When I took my makeup off that’s when mum saw my black eye. That was the first time that mum and dad knew about the physical abuse. They were so angry. Dad hated him since the day they met. Dad doesn’t hate people. Dad knew something wasn’t good about him. They wanted me to leave him.” But she couldn’t. She had so much faith in their marriage.

“He was so angry and aggressive. He turned into this monster. He would threaten me with a knife. He would steal money from my wallet to gamble. There was a time when the kids and I had nothing to eat and no money for food. Mum had come to the rescue with groceries and food. He wouldn’t work so we had no money for rent. We got evicted from homes. It was horrible. He would always promise me things will change and I believed him. I would pack my bags, only to unpack them again.”

The story of Jezebel and Jasmine

“I was under so much stress, high blood pressure and anxiety. It caused me to lose two beautiful daughters.” There was Jezebel who was a still born at 23 weeks. Then there was Jasmine who was born at 30 weeks.

“They both were born without kidneys. Jasmine was born alive. She was so beautiful. She was so adorable. She looked like a healthy baby. She was so plump and looked just like a doll. The doctors told me she’d only live for one day. I remember wanting to never let her go, she died in my arms the next day…  If they both lived they would be teenagers today…

This was one story that I found hard to fathom. Admittedly the thought of even having to put your own child to rest brings tears to my eyes. To have life ripped from you, it’s just something that no parent should have to go through.

The moment she walked away.

“He would always be too lazy to take the kids to school. He would always just tell me to let them have the day off.” It was when Monico had just turned 2 months old when Ate Jennifer snapped.

“Joshua and Jenelle had missed so many days of school already. I had gotten them both changed into their uniform, packed their school bag and ready to go. But he didn’t want to take them. He was sleeping on the couch because he was out all night. I was over it already. I yelled at him ‘You’re so lazy! You always give them days off! Will you just get up and take them to school!’ I was so fed up…” Ate Jennifer recalls her memory of that day.

“He got angry and he suddenly got up. He picked up a chair and threw it at me. I was holding Monico in my arms during that time. The chair hit me but only missed Monico by a few centimetres. The kids saw it. Joshua saw it. It happened right in front of my kids. I just kept thinking what would be going through my kids minds.”

That’s when Jennifer gave up on trying to make her husband change and decided on making hers and her kids future change. “That night I packed all mine and the kids belongings into bin bags. I didn’t care about what I packed. I just threw everything inside. I just wanted to get away from him. I wanted to get the kids away from him. I had enough. He tried to stop me. He told me he would change. But I knew he wouldn’t. I didn’t want the kids seeing this. I didn’t want the kids being raised thinking that this was normal.” That night my sister and her children moved into my parents house. That night was the beginning of their new future.

Her life now

“When I left I felt all the stress disappear. I’m in a happier place now. My kids are happy. Even though the family isn’t a regular family, with a mum and a dad, it’s our very own little family. My kids have hope. They have a future.” Ate Jennifer began to smile. “Joshua is about to graduate high school, he has a part time job and earns his own money. Jenelle just had her year 10 formal last year, she wore a red dress and mum curled her hair… Just a few weeks ago Monico got awarded with a principals award for mathematics… my kids have such a bright future now.”

I asked her if it’s been hard. “I have my moments where it’s hard. I am both mother and father. But my kids keep me together. My kids made me stronger. They’ve made me rise above all my struggles and be strong to give them a good future. They never gave up on me and I could never give up on them.

“I had people help me. Mum and dad were always by my side. They gave me strength on days when I felt like giving up. I’m so thankful. I’m thankful for having the strength to leave him. I’m thankful for having the strength to move on from the past and I feel so relieved. I used to wake up everyday worried and scared. If I never left him, who knows where I would be right now. I could be dead. My kids wouldn’t have the future they have now.”

Her message to you.

“They’re not going to change. If they haven’t changed now then they never will. If you are in an abusive relationship, get out of it. It won’t be easy. But it’ll be better. I want you to learn from my experience, not have to go through them. Think of your children, think of your future.”

As I looked at my Ate Jennifer, I saw her in a different light. A new found respect. In times where people would judge her, ridicule her and humiliate her – she never gave up. She took responsibility for not only her role as a mother, but her ex-husbands role as a father and provider.

Never once did those people who ridiculed and bullied my sister ever apologise. They’ve had many chances to, they see her every Sunday. But they never have. I do hope one day they read this article. And I do hope that they realise that on that Saturday night, when they publicly humiliated my sister, they humiliated one of the strongest and bravest women I know.

Ate Jennifer, you are a beautiful person, a wonderful mother and a loving older sister. I commend you in so many ways. You have shown strength and you have told the world ‘f*ck your labels, I’m not simply a single mother, I am a provider, I am kindness, I am strength and I am love’. Thank you for always letting your smile shine. Thank you for allowing me to share your story with the world. I love you and I hope you know you are a fantastic mother. You have raised my beautiful niece and nephews to be the most kindest and loving human beings I will ever know. Dad would be so proud of you right now.

And to my readers, thank you once again for reading this article. Please know that if you are ever in a situation where you feel there is no way out, know there always is. It may be a tough road ahead, but that road is what’s going to lead you to your future. Just look at my Ate Jennifer.

xoxo Vanessa.

*Ate – a filipino term added to females older than you as a sign of respect.\

Hitting A Creative Block.

Running into a creative block can be such a pain, especially if your means of living demand you be creative 24/7. As fun and thrilling as a content creator and art directors role can be, it can also be exhausting and mentally draining.

One minute you’re inspired and shooting ideas out of your arse like rainbows and glitter, the next you have no ideas and are literally fumbling for some sort of motivation to even switch your brain on.

Musicians, poets, writers, photographers, directors, script writers, performers, even professors. You’d be surprised at how many occupations don’t just rely on the right side of the brain.

It happens to me all the time. For months on end I’ve got a book full of ideas, directions and mood boards. Content is being pumped out of me day after day and I’m on a bright, fast, creative ride. Then suddenly, nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I have days on end where the thought of even turning on my laptop, reviewing a film that is in the process of being edited or launching photoshop makes me feel like vomit. Literally. Vomit. I’ve tried to force myself to go with it and try to “work” through it and honestly? It made me feel worse. Soon no ideas were cutting it. All imagination felt like mush. That my friend is what I call a creative block. A barrier to inspiration. A brick wall stopping you from thinking outside the box. A brain fart. Yes, a brain fart.

Too often enough I’ve experienced it. So I’ve learnt how to manage to it. Yes. I’ve learnt how to manage a brain fart (lol). Here are the things I do when I hit that brick wall and find myself with a head cold.

Get Lost – Escape

I get lost. Not in the sense that I’m in the wilderness, I have no idea where I’m going and I’m on the brink of death because I’ve run out of water – NO, we are not talking about experiencing the film 127 Hours here. I am talking about going outside. Stepping out of your office/workspace and losing your mind. Go for a hike, go for a day trip somewhere. Explore.

Personally I love hitting the gym and running. Not weights. Running. Why running? Because instead of me focusing on reps and sets, I focus on nothing, absolutely nothing. Thoughts pop up, then thoughts turn into ideas and soon ideas turn into me jumping off the treadmill and writing bullet point notes on a piece of toilet paper in the gyms bathroom – True Story.

Whatever form of active recreation you choose to do, make sure you lose yourself and let your mind wander.

Get Digital

Digital has never been as advanced as it is today. We’ve got Netflix, Stan, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr or one of my favourites out of them all – Pinterest. I-am-a-pinning-queen.

When ideas run dry I turn to social media. I turn to Pinterest. I turn to Youtube. I turn to Instagram and Netflix. I analyse composition, ideas, content, angles, transitions. I look at what these other creators have done and I take flight on my inspiration jet.

Declutter and Organise

I am not talking about turning into a full blown minimalist, I’m just talking about keeping your space and time organised.

‘A cluttered room creates a cluttered mind.’ Live by it every single day. If my office is in shambles, if my files are scrambled on my desktop, if my SD cards are full of old content – then I can’t focus.

A mess is a distraction.

Personally? I find the biggest satisfaction after spending a weekend spring cleaning.

I am a #planneraddict (see what I did there?). I have everything split into notebooks and planners. I have a large divided notebook for my blog, youtube and photography ideas. I have a smaller pocket sized version that I bring with me on the go (you never know when an idea will come to you). I have a large A4 planner for my daily schedule, partnered with a seperate small pocket planner for meetings and errands for my work bag. I am a planner addict.

Anything that comes to my mind I have to write down. This blog post? It’s written down, in bullet form but none the less, the idea was written down.

It doesn’t matter what form of planning or organising methods you use, what matters is that it works for you and it helps you to clear your mind.

Express Yourself

Just as Charles Wright sings it. Express yourself. Sometimes pent up frustrations, sadness and emotions can build this wall, stopping you from entering that creative state of mind. Spiritually deep? Maybe. But us creatives always think outside the box.

So what do you do when you are met with this huge emotional fence? You knock it down by expressing it, express how you feel, express your emotions. Deliver it any, which, way, how you want to do it.

Do you paint? Paint it.

Do you write? Write it.

Do you photograph? Capture it.

Sew, cook, bake, play an instrument. Whatever your weapon of choice is, choose and create some real, juicy damage.

Enjoy The Moment

We as busy adults have such a hard time in living and enjoying the present moment. We are always so busy thinking about the future, steps we will taken in the future, for the future and all things alike. Take a moment for a breather. Meditate. Enjoy the moment you have and be positive about it.

Maybe this creative block is a sign for you to take a moment to sit back and relax a little. Go have a glass of wine (maybe two), go get a massage (or a back scratch), go on a date (go get some), have some good quality family time with your kids and your spouse (they miss you). Read that book that’s been sitting on your night stand collecting dust the last few months. Go call that friend you’ve been meaning to talk to for the last few weeks or go start that online course you enrolled in four months ago.

Sometimes when you hit a brain fart. A creative block. It is a clear sign for you to step back, turn away and enjoy the moment. Ideas will just come through naturally.

Thank you all for reading this weeks post.

I hope all you creatives have found some inspiration and ways for you to clear your mind. Let me know if theres other things you do to work through a creative block, I am very interested to know.

xoxo Vanessa