Midlife – why label it a crisis?

Midlife – why label it a crisis?

Is Midlife Crisis an Accurate Label?

Look up midlife in any search engine and the top 10 or more results say Midlife Crisis. Why is that, when all the midlifers like myself are happy, secure and leading productive, full lives? Midlife is a time when we have passed the stage of striving for self improvement and career change, and are confident and happy with ourselves. We know ourselves well and have come to terms with our life choices. To me that’s not a crisis. Definitely not a crisis of identity. We’re not comparing ourselves to the younger generation enviously because we’ve been there, we’ve lived through it, and we don’t want to relive a time of developing our character and climbing the career ladder. We’re already established and are looking ahead to retirement, an empty nest and freedom from a lot of the responsibilities of our younger years.

The Labels we Grew Up With

I do not like the term midlife crisis. Come to think of it, I don’t like to label anyone at all. It stems from my youth, when I was labelled a geek, a nerd, a shy girl – all accurate but not fully describing me and pigeonholing me into this boring person. I brought my sons up with the message that they shouldn’t label themselves because it doesn’t allow them to fully express their identity. That didn’t stop them though, as I will explain later.

Hurtful nicknames hurled at me like gingernut (red hair) probably made me acutely aware of features that I was already insecure of. My self image plummeted in my younger years and I think there was too much emphasis placed on our appearance in our family. My dad was the worst – pointing out features like one crooked tooth or acne, and making us hate our bodies. He tried to lecture my sister about her outfit one day when she was over 40 and had her in tears with his cutting words. I jumped to her defense and told him he had no right to comment on our looks. No right to even comment on his wife’s looks either. I don’t think he realised how much his comments had affected my sister and I over the years.

I’ve never found a label to fully describe me – star signs are way off, I never fitted into the Catholic school girl mould even though we were brought up with those views. In my nursing training we had a seminar on Myers Briggs and that was the first time I ever came close to having a label that fitted me. My personality is rare – INFJ, and it describes me as introverted. Yep, that’s me. But I’m still much more than that. My new label is Previvor – because I have BRCA2, a genetic mutation that gives me an increased risk of cancer, I can now identify with that group of people who seem to wave the label around with pride.

Raising Children with a Strong Sense of Identity.  Photo shows young adults
Raising Children with a Strong Sense of Identity

Raising Children with a Strong Identity

Being aware of the damage it could cause their self esteem, I tried very hard to bring my sons up with a strong identity. It didn’t always work though as I’m not the only one to influence their self identity. Even though I’ve tried to bring my sons up without the limitations of a label, that approach hasn’t always had the positive outcome that I would have wished for. I found some old school photos not long ago and the change between one year to the next showed a marked difference in my son. He went from an innocent smiling boy to a sullen sneering pre-teen with black dyed hair and an ear-ring. I was brought to tears because I know that was brought about by my sudden separation from his father. He really struggled with it, and turned his angst into writing lyrics and starting a punk band. That was the start of his writing and his ability to turn his emotions and thoughts into the written word, which was eventually a good outcome but in it’s early days a reflection of the anger he was feeling.

He chose some pretty sketchy friends at that time and I could only sit back and hope he would eventually come to the realisation that these kids were no good. He has always been the type of kid you can’t push in one direction because he’s likely to go the other way. I was very relieved when he decided to go Straight Edge in his teens – they follow a death metal band called Parkway Drive and vow to abstain from drugs, alcohol and sex, so I thought “great, at least he’ll stay away from drugs!” That stage lasted a while, and his self image improved over the years. His first foray into university was a complete letdown. I was hoping that he would benefit from all that university life has to offer, including the social aspects, but he felt incredibly out of place. The Gold Coast is very “clicky” and it’s hard to fit in unless you have a buff, toned body, are into the beach, surfy lifestyle and the gym. My sons are definitely not that way inclined and they find it hard to fit in here so they both dropped out of uni in their first year. That was so disappointing for me, but I completely understand as it would be hard to enjoy it if they’re constantly alone.

Struggling with Identity as an Adult

They’ve found their own way much easier as they’ve aged, and both identify strongly with the group of friends they now find them selves part of. My urging them to not label themselves worked in some ways as they’ve been able to mould themselves into confident adults. My older son is very secure in his identity, and even though he is heavily involved in the music industry, he hasn’t gone down the path of drugs and alcohol and is very staunch on that fact. He’s had a lot of pressure to conform over the years but it hasn’t swayed him at all. His music has taken him all over the world on band tours and he’s very much a part of that community. I’m very proud of the fact that he has such strong self image that he sticks to his principles and doesn’t care what people think.

My younger son still struggles with self doubt at times. He likes to express himself by his clothes and his eclectic music taste but he struggles to pick one path in life for his career. My family growing up was extremely conservative and there was often damnation if you tried to break away from the Catholic nuclear traditional mould. God help us if we turn out gay, get divorced or believe in something other than the Catholic religion. My dad was praying for us till he died because he was genuinely worried about our chances of making it into heaven – me, because I’m a lapsed Catholic and divorced, and my son because he’s an atheist.

I don’t want to go too much into my views on that because I fully respect everyone’s right to their opinions, but I feel sad for my dad that he could not see any other view from his own. Watching my kids grow up into adults with their strongly held beliefs and ability to verbalise those beliefs and express themselves has been a wonderful gift to me. I wanted them to grow up into adults with their own beliefs – I didn’t feel it was my place to impose my beliefs on to them and condemn them if their beliefs were different to mine. Who am I to say my beliefs are right? I don’t want my sons to become mini-me’s!

I do think it’s a shame that my son felt he had to move out to be able to express his sexuality freely. I’ve been waiting for the big “coming out” talk to happen for years but it never has. I think he’s still trying to figure it all out but he couldn’t do that while living here. It’s not my opinion that made him feel like that. My husband did not vote “Yes” in the vote for gays’ rights to be married. Obviously for someone who may identify as gay or bi, that would upset them even if there’s no outward animosity towards them. Time will tell, as my son will declare himself soon enough. We’ve talked around the issue many times but I don’t think he really knows the answer and he’s still trying to work it all out himself. My extended family is not very open-minded on this issue and it would be hard to fit into unless you’re straight.

Midlife is a time when we are secure about our identity

We are all individuals but we like to identify with others as a way of finding community. Our sense of self is increased when we find like-minded members of our group. It strengthens our sense of self worth because we’re having reflected back at us the validity of our values and beliefs. It’s character building in one way, as long as we don’t lose part of ourselves in order to conform to other peoples expectations of us. Our self esteem should be strong enough that we don’t care what other people think.

A person’s midlife “crisis” is probably brought about by them finally getting to the stage in their life when they no longer care what other people think, and they’re sick of living a way that keeps other people happy. They finally want to be and do what they’ve known in their hearts is right for them. It happens in midlife because we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as our children are leaving home, we’re more financially secure and we’ve probably got as far as we can in our careers. I just think “crisis” is the wrong word to use. It’s too negative and doesn’t express the positives that can come out of finally expressing their true selves. I sincerely hope that the next generation can break out of the barriers that were built in front of our generation, and they won’t need a midlife crisis to be able to express their identity.

If you enjoyed this you may also enjoy:

Midlife or Prime of our Lives?

The Half Empty Nest

Letter to Myself, Aged 17

Please leave a comment, I would love to hear readers’ feedback on this.

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My YouTube Debut – an Interview for Women Living Well Over 50

My YouTube Debut – an Interview for Women Living Well Over 50

Staying Positive Despite the Setbacks in Life

I was interviewed by Sue Loncaric for her new YouTube channel on Women Living Well Over 50. This being the first time I’ve ever done a live interview, I wasn’t sure how I’d go. But Sue put me completely at ease and the conversation flowed freely! I had some notes written down but didn’t have to consult them once.

We talked about my recent surgery, my history of genetic and other health conditions, making health a priority and knowing your family’s health history, and how I lost weight despite having health issues. Take a look at the transcript of the interview on Sue’s website and her YouTube Channel, the links are as follows:

Staying Positive Despite the Setbacks in Life – transcript

Guest interview with Sue Loncaric on Conversations With Women Living Well After 50

Be sure to check out Sue’s website, it’s an absolute wealth of information for living a healthy lifestyle in your midlife. Sue lives on the Gold Coast as well. She’s an inspiration to me, both in the blogging world and in what she strives for by living an active lifestyle and achieving her goals. I’d love to hear if you enjoyed watching my YouTube debut!

You can read more about my weight loss and other health issues I have overcome in the following posts:

My Weight Loss Journey

BRCA2 – How it has Affected my Life

Living the Healthiest Version of your Life

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shared at this link-up party https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/taking-stock-3-27-51-lifethisweek-54-2020/
https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/taking-stock-3-27-51-lifethisweek-54-2020/Shared at this link-up party – life this week, https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/taking-stock-3-27-51-lifethisweek-54-2020/

What you need to know before you start walking for your health

What you need to know before you start walking for your health

Please note, this article is for informational purposes only – see my disclaimer here. It is aimed at people who would like to start walking for exercise, especially those who have other health problems that may hold them back from starting to walk for their health.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure

The benefits of walking

Walking has many health benefits including increased cardiovascular fitness, improved weight control and increasing your life span. This guide tells you all you need to know to start you off. Walking has been shown to lead to sustained weight loss, especially if you walk regularly. It is the only exercise I do, and I lost over 17kg last year and have kept it off. If you incorporate walking in to your healthy lifestyle, along with other choices of a well balanced diet, stopping smoking, minimal alcohol and plenty of sleep, you will derive multiple benefits including reduced stress, weight control and improved tolerance to illness. Just 30 minutes brisk walking per day has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and extend your lifespan.

Why you need to see a doctor before you start a walking program

Any walking plan should begin with a trip to your GP. If you have other health issues such as heart disease, arthritis in your joints or chronic back pain, you will need to have an individualised program under the supervision of a physiotherapist or other trained specialist in this field. This is especially relevant if you haven’t exercised for a long time or have a significant amount of weight to lose. Starting off slowly and building up your tolerance will mean that you have less issues such as strained muscles.

I don’t want to put you off altogether, however, there are some precautions to be aware of. If you experience any symptoms such as palpitations, severe shortness of breath or chest pain, seek medical attention straight away. Any muscle aches and pains can be treated by a cold pack and resting and elevating the affected leg, however anything more serious should be examined by a medical professional. Apart from these precautions, there is relatively very little that prevents you from starting to walk for your health. Walking is the best exercise for anyone with other health issues because it is less stress on your body.

Why I started walking for health

10 years ago I was relatively fit. I went to the gym at least three times a week and swam 1 km on the other days. I trained for triathlons and competed in two. I went through a period of losing my stamina, and I just thought I needed to train harder. The harder I trained the worse my exercise tolerance became, until one summer evening when I collapsed in a heap at boot camp, my heart racing and palpitating, and gasping for breath. I had developed a cough as well which I thought was just a cold or flu. After a trip to my GP, he referred me to have a cardiac echo done which I thought was a bit over the top. It couldn’t possibly be anything cardiac.

The cardiac echo showed I have an atrial septal defect, which I’ve had since birth (another genetic condition thanks to my dad’s mother who had the same thing). To be diagnosed at 43 was a huge shock to me, but it explained why my symptoms had got worse with increased exercise. I have two holes in my heart, plus an aneurysm in the wall between the top chambers (atrium). This allows unfiltered blood to circulate into my blood system, and the symptoms include palpitations, migraines and shortness of breath. I manage it by minimising the work my heart does – no high intensity exercise, and medications to stop the palpitations and lower my blood pressure.

Walking is the only exercise I do now. I swim in the summer but not as much as I used to, and I do some yoga although I’m out of practice with it now. Contrary to what one might believe, I don’t miss the heavy schedule of training that I used to do. I was often nursing injuries and my life revolved around training which left little time for anything else. My running used to be on a treadmill and I rarely walked in the fresh air. I had a lot of migraines, not surprising really. Now I walk my dog every day and it is the best part of the day. I enjoy the fresh air and feel completely stress free when I’m walking. I’m telling you this story as a word of caution as to why any symptoms should be checked out by your doctor. It may be something completely out of the blue like mine. You always need to be checked by your doctor prior to undertaking any exercise program.

The essentials for walking for health

What you need for walking - 1. Drink bottle 2. shoes 3. hat 4. fitness tracker 5. sunscreen 6. comfortable clothes
1. Drink bottle 2. shoes 3. hat 4. fitness tracker 5. sunscreen 6. comfortable clothes

What you need for walking:

You can walk almost anywhere, in any weather (with adequate clothing for extreme temperatures and rain or sun), and it costs very little to get started. This is what you will need:

Shoes – Good shoes are a must as they take all the impact and need to support your feet so that you don’t get strains in your leg muscles. My favourites are Asics (link to buy online here) and Sketchers Go Walk (buy online here). In the summer a good pair of sandals such as Planet Shoes (with arch support) may be more comfortable. I know a lot of people wear Birkenstocks but I’ve never tried them so I can’t rate how they are.

Hat – I always wear a cap but a wide brimmed hat is better for sun protection. Sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Sunscreen – SPF 50+ is the best. Neutrogena make a great spray-on one called Beach Defence (buy online here). I bought a fantastic one in Japan by Biore – if you can buy it I recommend it as it is light, and goes on like moisturiser without leaving a greasy film on your skin (buy online here). In Australia, Cancer Council make the best range of sunscreens and skin protection (buy online here) .

Clothing – walking doesn’t require any special clothing, but comfortable loose fitting clothes will be better. I wear shorts or long pants with pockets so that I can carry keys, phone, dog poo bags and hand sanitiser, leaving my hands free for the dog leash and a water bottle. You may prefer leggings which are definitely more comfortable. T-shirt and light sweatshirt are usually enough, and a lightweight jacket on rainy days.

Optional – a dog, preferably a border collie! Even when you don’t feel like walking, they always do, and their pleading eyes will motivate you even on your laziest days. Being out in the fresh air is the best remedy for a glum mood, and my dog is a social butterfly so I get to meet all the other dog walkers even when I’m feeling antisocial so it helps take my mind off things. Seeing how happy he is lightens my mood so much and it definitely is the highlight of my day.

Fitbit or other fitness tracker – to record your steps for the day, pulse rate, weight, calorie intake and sleep. I am in challenges with other people on Fitbit which keeps me motivated. (Buy online here)

Banjo and I at the local off-leash park.

In the above photo I’m wearing my Asics shoes (link to buy online here), Uniclo pants (Ultra Stretch Leggings), Uniclo long sleeved shirt (Ribbed Cotton Crew Neck) and Katies jacket.

Other ways to increase your step count

The optimum number of steps per day is 10000. If you don’t have the time to take a 30 minute to one hour walk every day, you can increase your step count by doing the following:

  • Park further away
  • If you sit at a desk all day, set a reminder on your phone to get up and move every hour. My fitbit buzzes to remind me to take 250 steps every hour during the day
  • Walk in your lunch break
  • If you meet a friend regularly for coffee, get the coffee to takeaway and have a walk while you drink it
  • Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and go for a quick walk in the morning
  • If the weather is bad, go to your local shopping centre and walk around there
  • Take the stairs at work. Walking up stairs burns calories 2-3 times faster than walking on level ground
  • Invest in a treadmill or join a gym so that you can use theirs

By gradually increasing the amount I walk, and by taking the stairs at work, I have increased my stamina so much that when I was in Japan a couple of years ago we used walking as our primary means of transport (apart from the train), and we managed to climb a mountain! I was so happy that my fitness had allowed me to see something that was only accessible by walking and climbing. Some days we walked up to 14km while we were there.

I hope I have inspired you to start your own walking program. You may like to read these other articles:

Slow and steady wins the race – how I lost weight by walking

How to make goals that stick – how to set realistic goals that you will achieve and stick with

Living the healthiest version of your life – even if you have health issues, you can still live the healthiest version of yourself

If you enjoyed this article, please share and comment.

Shared at the following link-up party: Life this week #195 19/6/20 Prompt: Best time of the day

Also shared at the Midlife Share the Love Link-up Party

Prioritising Self Care

Prioritising Self Care

Many people have remarked on how well I’m coping with all the setbacks I’ve faced in my life, especially this year. Developing resilience doesn’t come naturally, it needs to be learned and nurtured. I thought I’d share some of the ways I incorporate self care into my daily routine, and hopefully inspire others to develop their own resilience.

Until I prioritised my own self care needs, I was a bundle of nerves to the point of social anxiety. I had difficulty enforcing my boundaries so that I was a punching bag for others’ abuse. My self esteem was so low that I had absolutely no confidence. If I did speak up I was knocked back down so I built up barriers and sunk into my shell.

I went to therapists and they helped to some extent but I still lacked confidence. Getting really fit helped with my self image but I was still lacking in self esteem. Even though my external appearance was the best it had been for years, my inner self was struggling with self doubt and negativity. I was rushing around trying to fit all my responsibilities into my daily routine, which left little time for myself.

The real change came last year, when I finally lost a lot of weight. I had a coach for my weight loss program who rang me every three weeks, not only to set goals with me, but also to give me positive feedback about my progress. Having that regular contact helped me lose over 17kg and graduate early from the program.

That success gave me so much confidence. The changes I had made included regular exercise, a new healthy diet with lots more vegetables and the joy of cooking and gardening. With it came the realisation that I had to prioritise self care.

My top tips for self care are:

  • Get outdoors daily. Natural light is better for you
  • Ladies wear makeup (even just tinted moisturiser and mascara) even when you’re not going out, and men shave. You feel better about yourself when you’re groomed. It goes without saying, but shower and brush your teeth too. You’d be surprised how many people don’t, as a nurse you see it all. Wear clothes that make you feel good, and that make you look good too.
  • Exercise daily, even just a walk. You will get natural endorphins.
  • Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. Eating junk food depletes your energy and will have long-term repercussions if you base your diet around it.
  • Listen to your body. If you’re tired, rest.
  • Have regular massages, beautician visits or manicures purely for the enjoyment of it. If this is outside your budget, you can do at-home spa sessions . My favourite routine is a soak in a bubble bath with a face mask on, and lovely soft music playing, followed by beautiful scented body lotion. I definitely make time and room in my budget for regular professional massages though because it helps me manage my chronic back pain.
  • Listen to the sound of water. We have a pond with a fountain and the sound is so relaxing. You can get the same effect from white noise apps or a small water feature. Bubble baths, swims in the ocean and looking at waves lap on the shore are also calming.
Tips for prioritising self care collage
Tips for self care
  • Practice gratitude. Regularly write down a list of all the things you’re grateful for. Thank other people too, it goes a long way.
  • Spend time with your pets and loved ones. If you have young children or grandchildren play with them. Being around pets and children allows you to see things from a different perspective. Play games with them and their laughter will cheer you up.
  • Hug someone! Social distancing laws made this impossible and a lot of people struggled with not being able to have physical contact with their loved ones. I really missed not being able to hug my best friend and relatives that didn’t live with us.
  • Do something creative for example drawing, painting, baking, music or writing. I found a great colour-by-numbers App, very similar to the paint-by-numbers paintings we did as children. It’s so relaxing. Jigsaws are also calming.
  • Use your brain – do crosswords, puzzles or Sudoko. Learn something new like a language or skill.
  • Read books written by people who are inspiring in some way. I’ve read a lot of books by people who have faced the worst adversities and come through them. That gives me confidence to tackle anything that comes my way.
  • Have less screen time. Avoid reality TV especially – it’s just trash. Only watch news from trustworthy sources – don’t get all your knowledge from Facebook and Instagram. Knowledge is power, so don’t get sucked into believing everything you read or hear.
  • If you’re sick stay home. I know we’ve heard that constantly this year but I’m shocked by how many people go to work and school when they are sick. By resting and recuperating your body has a chance to heal. If you’re working and mixing with other people, it takes a lot longer to fully recover and you’re passing it on to other people. Those people may have compromised immunity or other health issues which would lead them to develop much worse illnesses than you.
  • Most important – reach out to someone if you are not coping. There are resources there to help you. Avoid people who suck your energy from you or make you feel worse. These are some help lines available in Australia:
Australian Help lines for people struggling mentally
Help lines in Australia for people struggling

Once you start prioritising self care, it will become part of your daily routine. It will be easier for you to assert your boundaries and say no to people. Your confidence will grow, and you’ll feel so much better within yourself. You will be more resilient when life throws unexpected stresses and crises your way.

Go on, you deserve it.

Please share if you enjoyed my article. I would love to hear what your tips for self care are in the comments below.

https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/share-your-snaps-5-25-51-lifethisweek-50-2020/

Midlife Share the Love party

Shared at the above Link-up parties

Staying positive despite setbacks

Staying positive despite setbacks

Updates on Midlifestylist

It’s five weeks since my bilateral mastectomies and in that time there have been triumphs and setbacks. First the triumphs:

  • Midlifestylist is now officially a business! I registered the business name on the Australian Business Register and applied for an ABN (Australian Business Number). It’s exciting to see my business name on official documents. I first thought of the name seven years ago and bought a domain name but didn’t officially start my blog until October 2019. If I ever start earning money through my website I’ll need to pay tax so I thought it would be worth registering the name officially.
  • While I’ve been at home healing I completed a legal course for my website. I knew I’d need to get the legal side of things done before my website grew any further but I haven’t had the time to sit down and tackle it until now. The course was very beneficial and included all the templates for Terms and Conditions, Disclosures, Privacy Policy and Disclaimers. A blogger that I follow had her blog plagiarised by a B-grade celebrity who made thousands of dollars off a book that she compiled from 4 or 5 bloggers’ work. The course I did covers copyright and what to do if your work is plagiarised. I recommend this course and if you’re interested, click the link highlighted. The basic course is free but if you buy one of the other courses I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you because I’m affiliated with the course conveners. Read the full disclosure here.
  • My niece Ally, her friend Coralee and I raised over $1000 for breast cancer research by taking part in the GO PINK campaign. We dyed our hair pink and did a live feed which was a lot of fun.
  • My husband and I baked bread for the first time. He did all the mixing and kneading because I’m still not able to do anything strenuous and we ate 3/4 of the loaf with some homemade vegetable soup because it was so moreish. We have a bread-maker on order but it won’t come until July because it looks like everyone else had the same idea when there were shortages of everything in the shops.
  • Our vegetable garden is thriving and we’re already eating produce from it. Every year it improves because with trial and error we’re finding the best ways to do things. The weather has been perfect for growing too with lovely sunny days and plenty of rain. Winter really is the perfect time of the year in Queensland.
  • I’ve been collaborating with other bloggers on some projects which are new and exciting. One of the best things about blogging is the community of like-minded individuals that you meet online. Reading their blogs gives you another perspective as well.
Freshly baked bread

Now the setbacks:

  • I still have a lot of swelling and the wound is taking a long time to heal because of the massive post-op bleed I had on the left side. I had to have another course of antibiotics and I’ve been very restricted in what I’m allowed to do. I’m supposed to start back at work on Monday but I’m not up to that because nursing is a very active job and I’m not allowed to lift anything or do strenuous work yet. I was referred to a haematologist to try to get to the bottom of why I bled so much and it may be genetic because I’ve had a few other instances in my life of unexplained bleeding. I’ve had days when it all gets too much and I’ll be very down in the dumps and cry, but I’m able to bounce back and am in a positive frame of mind most of the time. I’ve had a lot of support so that definitely helps.
  • Because my mobility has been restricted I’ve been very tired at times. The worst week was when my husband went back to work after looking after me for 3 weeks. I wasn’t allowed to drive so was catching the bus and tram which meant catching 2 buses to get to my doctors’ appointments and 2 home, plus walking. I can drive short distances now and that’s been a huge improvement. I hired dog walkers so that my dog didn’t miss out on his walk and now that I can drive I can take him to a dog park where I can park so close that he can jump out of the car and go straight onto the off-leash area so I don’t have to hold his lead. He’s a big boy and at the moment I’m not up to him pulling on his lead.

The social distancing laws are gradually easing in Australia which is a big relief. The border between Queensland and New South Wales will open in a couple of weeks so I’ll finally be able to visit my brother who lives an hour away. We have a camping trip planned for the last weekend in August which has been delayed twice before. We’re really hoping we’ll be able to go this time. My sister-in-law’s 50th birthday party can finally go ahead as well – she was waiting for restrictions to ease. It has an Alice in Wonderland theme so I’ve been making a costume – watch this space as I may be brave enough to publish photos!

I hope all my readers are staying well and coping with whatever restrictions are on in your part of the world. This year has certainly put a lot of stress on to people and we’re all having to cope with current events. There’s still a lot of unrest from the Black Lives Matter movement, which I wrote about in my last post. I hope that this year’s events bring about lasting change for the better. The world has now woken up and it would be awesome if we all learnt the lessons that are available to us.

While recovering from surgery there are triumphs and setbacks. It’s important to stay positive and look to the future as this period in my life won’t last forever. I don’t regret making the decision to do risk-reducing surgery as it means my chances of getting cancer are reduced almost to zero. No matter how hard things seem right now, it is important to focus on the bigger picture. I’ve been through much worse than this in the past and I know I have the inner strength to get through this as well.

Our own shameful statistics on Black Deaths in Custody

Our own shameful statistics on Black Deaths in Custody

The news coming out of the US after George Floyd’s death in custody was incredibly disturbing. What followed was shocking to witness. I heard again and again “It’s disgusting what’s happening in America”. The reality is, however, Australia is no better than America. We have our own shameful statistics of black deaths in custody. I’m writing this because I don’t want to stay silent. As Meghan Markle said “the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.” If we want change, we have to speak up.

Some Background on my own Situation

I grew up in New Zealand, where my life was stable and lacking in exposure to prejudice and racism. We grew up very close to our Maori and Pacific Islander friends and relatives. I honestly never thought about race in context of who to make friends with when I was a child. We learnt Maori language at school and learning New Zealand history included learning Maori history and folklore which was an integral aspect of our culture. We all learned Maori songs, crafts and art – it was as part of our education as maths and English were. I don’t remember ever witnessing racism during my childhood. That’s not to say it wasn’t there, but it was not something I ever thought about.

It wasn’t until I moved to Australia in the 80’s as a 19 year old that I ever had prejudism focused on me. Australia in the ’80s was very different to today. Kiwis were allowed to emigrate to Australia without any barriers and we had a bad name for coming here and going straight on the dole. We were allowed immediate access to Australia’s welfare system and it was very easy to become a permanent resident and citizen. Consequently we were not always welcome here. I had a very hard time applying for jobs and frequently had the phone slammed in my ear as soon as they heard my Kiwi accent. We were regarded as bludgers and probably deserved it due to many of my fellow Kiwis taking advantage of the system.

I eventually did get a job, but not until I applied for a Government department that advertised their policy of equal opportunity no matter what race, sex, religion or sexuality you were. I pointed out the policy in my interview, and I like to think that my cheekiness had something to do with why I got that job. These days it is much easier to be accepted by employers but equal opportunity in those days was a new concept. Now it is in legislature, and rightly so. While I did experience some discrimination because of being a New Zealander, this was in no way comparable to the level of racism and discrimination that is facing by people of colour here and throughout the world.

I had a bit of a naivity in those days. My nursing career began in 1987 in a public hospital in Brisbane. It opened my eyes to the health issues facing new migrants and Aboriginals. Seeing how their health outcomes were so much worse than the general population was disturbing. I wanted to do something to help – I thought that I could make a difference if I worked in a small community with a large Aboriginal population. Feeling driven to do something to help, I took a job in a small outback hospital in the Northern Territory.

I was in for a major culture shock. I soon realised that the problems facing Aboriginal communities were way more complex and ingrained than what I had anticipated. This naive 30 year old nurse was pretty useless, especially when trying to assess Aboriginals who were living very traditionally. My questions were met by amusement many times because of the cultural divide between myself and them. My ignorance was the problem. They are beautiful people who are proud and self sufficient – even when they are extremely sick they will still make their own way to the bathroom rather than have someone help them. Even though I’m disappointed that I really didn’t do much to change their health outcomes, I learnt more from my year in the Northern Territory than I did in 10 years in the city.

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

The statistics on black deaths in custody are appalling, and not just in the US. In 1991 there was a Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The key finding of the royal commission was that Aboriginal people are more likely to die in custody because they are arrested and jailed at disproportionate rates. That remains as true in 2020 as it was in 1991. In 1991, 14.3% of the male prison population in Australia was Indigenous. In March 2020 it was 28.6%. According to data released by Australian Bureau of Statistics this month, 4.7% of all Indigenous men are in jail compared with just 0.3% of all non-Indigenous men.

At the time of the Royal Commission, as now, non-Indigenous people died in greater numbers, and at a greater rate, in custody than Indigenous people. But then, as now, Indigenous people made up just 3% of the total population. That means more Aboriginal people are imprisoned and dying as a proportion of their total population.

“The conclusions are clear,” royal commissioner Elliott Johnston QC wrote in 1991. “Aboriginal people die in custody at a rate relative to the proportion of the whole population which is totally unacceptable and which would not be tolerated if it occurred in the non-Aboriginal community. But this occurs … because the Aboriginal population is grossly over-represented in custody. Too many Aboriginal people are in custody too often.”

Source: Aboriginal deaths in custody: Black Lives Matter protests referred to our count of 432 deaths. It’s now 437, The Guardian, 9 June 2020

What is the Solution to the statistics on black deaths in custody?

There’s no easy solution, and it would be easy to put blame on the Government and politicians for these appalling figures. Prosecuting law enforcers as in the US in the case of George Floyd is definitely a step in the right direction. Police brutality in America has been in the headlines lately, but unfortunately Australian police have been guilty of excessive force as well, with a record including fatal shootings, excessive taser use and overly rough treatment during arrests. Despite evidence in some cases of excessive force or neglect by police or prison officers, there has never been a criminal conviction for a death in custody in Australia. Chris Hurley, the police officer accused of killing an Aboriginal man on Palm Island in 2004, was acquitted of manslaughter. Two police officers are currently facing murder charges for the deaths of Kumanjayi Walker in the Northern Territory and Joyce Clarke in Western Australia, and both have indicated they will plead not guilty. The police have the power to use force, but only within the conditions set out in the legislation of their state. Stronger guidelines around what constitutes excessive force by law enforcement, and more awareness of citizens’ rights needs to be in place. Source: Shine Lawyers

How can we help the Black Lives Matter movement?

How can we help empower black people within our communities? Ask them what they need. Listen to their concerns. They have been dealing with inequalities and injustices for centuries. It’s clear that in 2020 they’re frustrated – they shouldn’t have to fight to be heard, or criticised for attending the Black Lives Matter protests. We need to be woken up! Wotna Moris, a Papua New Guinean lawyer and political analyst, wrote a very inspiring piece on how the collective voices of black people around the world combine in this one voice that is the Black Lives Matter protests.

Systemic racial discrimination is a worldwide problem that black people have combated since slavery and colonisation. And in that battle, every step taken by one of us, towards equality, is a step taken by all of us and has always been.

Wotna Moris, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/09/australias-pacific-minister-called-black-lives-matter-protests-self-indulgent-he-couldnt-be-more-wrong

Meyne Wyatt told us exactly what he wants in his powerful monologue on the ABC’s Q&A programme. His moving speech grabs at your guts and makes you sit up and take notice. They’re angry. Angry after more than two centuries of racism and prejudism. That anger is fueling the Black Lives Matter protests in Australia and around the world. I understand it, and I want to help! The best way to help is to listen to what they are telling us.

Meyne Wyatt on racism

Educate yourself about culture

Educate yourselves with regards to their culture. This is what I noticed with the difference between my education in NZ and my Australian counterparts. We were immersed in the Maori culture. We didn’t regard it as separate from ourselves. It was part of us. My Australian friends knew very little about Aboriginal culture, whereas we knew a lot. Education brings tolerance. If I had done my nursing training in New Zealand there would have been a requirement to learn so much of the language and have cultural understanding before I was registered. That goes a long way towards tolerance and respect of their cultural differences.

Children aren’t born with cultural biases – it is learned. Education needs to start very young.

In Respect of the Traditional Aboriginal Owners of my own City

In saying this, I realised I do not know anything about the traditional owners of the city in which I live. I need to educate myself so that I can show appropriate respect for the land on which I live. Aboriginal culture is very much entwined with the land. They were the original environmentalists who knew how to respect their land, and receive nourishment from it without stripping it of resources. Australian landscapes can be harsh but they found enough food to sustain them during drought, often traveling vast distances to achieve it. They know how to regenerate the land after bushfire and other natural disasters, all too common in Australia.

I live in the Gold Coast, a very glitzy city which caters for tourists – it is well known for Surfers Paradise, the theme parks and beaches. What isn’t as well known is that it is the traditional home of the Yugambeh people. The Yugambeh language people are the traditional custodians of the land located in south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales, now within the Logan City, Gold Coast, Scenic Rim, and Tweed City regions whose ancestors all spoke one or more dialects of the Yugambeh Language. 

We acknowledge and pay respect to the land and the traditional families of the Yugambeh region of South East Queensland, including the Kombumerri, Mununjali, Wangerriburra and others, and their Elders past present and emerging.

https://www.yugambeh.com/faq

One of the most popular beaches in the Gold Coast is Burleigh. Burleigh was the ancestral home of the Kombumerri Tribe known as “The Salt Water People”. It is believed they lived in the area for thousands of years until around 1936 when they ceased holding their ceremonies there but many of the people remained at Burleigh Heads. The Aboriginal name for Big Burleigh is Jellurgul; Little Burleigh is Jebbribillum or the Waddy of Jebreen. Jellurgul meaning sugar bag or bee’s nest. Other reports from later say Big Burleigh was Jayling (black) and Gumbelmoy (rock), named after the volcanic black basalt rock of the headland. There is a cultural centre in Burleigh called Jellurgal where it is possible to learn more about Aboriginal culture. Source: https://www.burleigh.com.au/history.html

Burleigh Beach, Gold Coast, Australia

Moving forwards …

As a final note, I urge you to stand up to racism and prejudism when you see it. Be aware of your own biases, as we all have them. Speak up if you see someone being intolerant of anyone else. We must stand up for those who do not have a voice, those who have been pushed down their whole lives. I do not know what it is like to live in fear every time I step out my door because of the colour of my skin. I acknowledge my own white privilege. It’s only by standing together that we can overcome this problem in our society.

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The Simple Joy of Gardening

The Simple Joy of Gardening

How to Start a Garden from Scratch

One day’s harvest from our garden last year

There’s nothing better than eating fresh produce that you have grown yourself. Knowing that it’s been grown without the use of pesticides or other dubious additives and has only been handled by yourself adds to the pleasure of eating fruit and vegetables that haven’t been transported many kilometers or stored for months.

My husband and I usually grow our crops between Autumn and Spring because the Summers in Queensland are far too hot. Temperatures are mild here, rarely dropping to frosty levels, and there are fewer bugs around to eat everything before we do. Be sure to check locally to find out when the best time to grow is. If you’re lucky, you may live in an area where you can grow crops all year around.

This is last year’s garden in it’s prime with many of the vegetables ready to harvest.

Start with the Basics

Start With The Basics – the requirements for a healthy garden:

  • Soil that is well drained, full of nutrients and has loose texture
  • Few weeds and bugs
  • Water
  • At least a few hours of sunlight

If you live in an area without ideal conditions like us, you need to create it. That is why we use raised garden beds. Our soil is very sandy and of poor quality so we fill the raised garden bed with the following:

Cow manure – you can buy by the bag like this. You can use any manure as long as it has been mixed with soil and allowed to settle
Organic garden soil – you can buy it by the bag like this or have a truck load delivered if your garden is large enough
This compost is ready to be used. It has composted down to half the depth it was at the beginning, and there are very few large pieces of uncomposted material.

These ingredients are added to the garden bed and stirred and turned over with a garden fork.

Mixing the compost, soil and cow manure with a garden fork

My husband does all the heavy work because I suffer from arthritis in my back, but once the plants have started to produce, I can look after them.

We generally plant seedlings to save time. You can also raise seeds yourself and then plant them out when they’re mature. Instructions are on the seed package or seedling tags as to what favourable conditions to grow them in. Our beans grow from last year’s crop – we save some of the last beans to dry out then just plant the seeds straight in the ground.

We have also grown cherry tomatoes using seeds taken from the previous crop. Our pumpkins grew wild from the compost. It’s interesting to see what crops up each year from our compost!

My husband planting the seedlings. They will come with instructions on how far apart they need to be planted, and other requirements

Daily Garden Tasks

Daily watering is a must except if you have really rainy days. A daily routine would include picking out weeds and squashing bugs before they get out of hand. Remove plants that have died or gone to seed because they attract bugs and disease.

Regularly fertilise your garden. We use our own liquid fertiliser that we make from our worm farm. Read about it in this post. Alternatively choose a commercial product that uses organic ingredients only.

Pick plants as soon as they are ready to eat. Living them to die in the garden only attracts bugs and weeds to take over. You will find that fresh vegetables will keep much longer than store bought ones because they haven’t been stored and transported for weeks or months.

What if you don’t own a garden?

Two garden beds is enough for our needs. If you don’t have a backyard, you can grow most vegetables and fruit in containers. My brother lives on a houseboat and has an impressive array of vegetables and herbs in containers. Another alternative is to grow sprouts in jars. I have easy directions here.

What to Grow

Your choice of what to grow should be based on what crops grow best in your area. Your local landscape supplier or garden supplier should stock a good range of seedlings. Have a conversation with the staff – they are usually very willing to give you local know-how on what the best plants to grow are. Other than that it’s trial and error. In general, don’t grow anything that you don’t enjoy eating!

This year we are growing beans, snow peas, bok choy, baby spinach, parsley, onions, Kent pumpkin, beetroot and cos lettuce. My husband made trellises for the beans and snowpeas and you may need stakes for some of the taller plants. We also have a chilli plant and cherry tomatoes and a range of herbs.

Times vary from when you start the garden to harvest, but generally we’re eating our produce within a few weeks. One of my favourite pass-times is picking the ripe vegetables and making them into beautiful fresh meals.

Three weeks after initial planting. We have added a few more seedlings to ensure a continuous supply of our favourite vegetables

Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

A guest interview with Morgan Fitchett

Meet Morgan Fitchett, Vegan Life and Wellness Coach. She is the second guest for my Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series. I felt inspired just by reading her story and I hope my readers are inspired as well.

Morgan Fitchett, Vegan Life and Wellness Coach

Tell me about yourself. 

Hi, I’m Morgan Fitchett. I’m a Vegan Life & Wellness Coach. I help women adopt a vegan lifestyle with confidence. People often worry about what they are giving up or leaving behind. They can’t imagine fitting veganism into their social, home, family or work life. So I work with women to find ways to fit veganism in without losing or compromising what is important to them.  

What is your background and how does that impact what you do now?

I have a background in law, administrative and clerking work. After the birth of my son (he is now 2), I decided that I didn’t want to return to that life. 

I’ve been vegan for nearly 7 years, and I wanted to reach others and help them connect and make the swap. I started blogging as a way to reach more people. That then evolved into mentoring for Challenge 22(a free Facebook support group for those looking to transition).

I found that I wanted to be more involved and get one-on-one with people. I had considered mentoring, and through exploring that idea, I discovered coaching! 

I then dove in and took some certification programs on both life and wellness coaching. I added in a vegan nutritionist diploma program for good measure! 

Honestly, I am always learning. I am currently taking even more programs on coaching methods to further expand my knowledge and help others more effectively!  

What drives you? Where do you get your passion?

Well, veganism transformed my life in a lot of ways. It helped me take control of my health and weight and find a cause that was bigger than myself. I see a lot of people struggling in life with things a plant-based diet could help better or even eliminate. 

Plus, there are all the environmental, ethical and personal benefits to veganism. I think spreading the word and showing veganism is practical, fulfilling, and affordable is important! 

What is the defining moment that set you on this course of interest? 

I knew that I wanted to be my own boss and work at something I loved. I took the first plunge with my blog, and then I joined Challenge 22. I enjoyed interacting with the Facebook group and the environment they created, but I felt like it wasn’t enough for me or others. 

I kept thinking I would move into something more “one day,” and then I realized there is no such thing as “one day” – I needed to take action now. That shift in mindset really propelled me. Once I discovered the benefits of coaching, I knew I wanted to apply this to veganism. There are so many people that can benefit from working with someone one-on-one. 

Who or what inspired you?

Seeing other strong women being visible and confident in themselves and their veganism has been very inspiring. I started following more women online and really loved the way they used their platform to shatter stereotypes and myths. 

I also joined a plant-based dragon boat team last year, and being a part of a bigger cause and connecting with so many like-minded people was really inspiring. It was a combination of both those things that pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and start something! 

What are your goals in life?

Wow, big question! I think my goals are always changing and evolving. They shift and become more clear with time. 

But right now, my main goals are:

  1. To support women who are interested in starting a vegan lifestyle but just don’t know-how or have beliefs they are holding back
  1. To help others no matter where they are in life or their financial constraints. I’ve been trying to make sure that help is available in my blog posts and other free content in addition to my paid coaching.
  1. Create a successful business, so I can stay at home with the kids and be my own boss!
  1. Continue learning, evolving and exploring new things!

What message would you like the world to hear?

Eat more plants! Your body will thank you, the earth will thank you, and the animals will thank you. It’s easier than you think.

In your opinion, what does the world need now that would improve it?

More plant-based eaters! So many of the world’s problems could be improved or solved with the adoption of a plant-based diet. 

You won’t need fad diets to stay thin, or pills to control your blood pressure (though, don’t stop taking them unless you get an okay from your doctor!). Our environmental impact on the planet will be slashed, and the animals will no longer have to live in the worst conditions for food that’s making you sick. 

You don’t have to give up anything, you just have to make a shift. All your favourite items and comfort foods are available in plant form.

Morgan can be followed on her website The Veg Query, and social media:

thevegquery.com

facebook.com/thevegquery

instagram.com/thevegquery

twitter.com/thevegquery

pinterest.com/thevegquery

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfQMMuuY_JCA7p42peUMgnQ

Empowered Beauties With Brains – Guest Interview

I was featured on the Empowered Beauties With Brains website. This is a community organisation that aims to help, support, motivate, inspire, uplift and empower women. The website showcases women from all works of life. It was an honour to be interviewed by Tiya Gorain, the founder, who is an entrepreneur and a wellness & empowerment coach based in Sydney, Australia.

Here is the link to my interview

An excerpt:

“My goals in life were to bring up my children to be the people they’re meant to be, to make a positive impact on others’ lives, and to create a life of peace and joy for myself and my family… Your health is your most important asset. Don’t neglect it. Find some way to fit it into your schedule”.

You can follow the organisation on the following social media accounts:

Facebook

Instagram

Originally Published on April 24, 2020 by empoweredbeautieswithbrains

We are a women empowerment community organisation. We believe that every woman has beauty, brains & power within. She just needs to recognise it within herself. Our intention is to help, support, motivate, inspire, uplift & empower women. We implement various programs, workshops, events, training and coaching sessions for the benefit of women in Australia, Singapore and India.”

A Complete Guide to Composting and Worm Farms

A Complete Guide to Composting and Worm Farms

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure

Start with the Basics

Your garden needs soil that is rich in nutrients in order to thrive. The best way to provide those nutrients is to use compost as the basis of your soil. Compost is organic material that can be added to soil. It enriches the soil and improves it, providing a strong basis for plants to grow. Compost can be purchased from landscape suppliers, but the best compost is one that you make at home.

The Benefits of Composting

In addition to improving your soil, composting has other benefits as well:

  • Reducing waste – composting reduces the amount of household waste that goes to landfill. Composting reduces the methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
  • Growing your own food with compost gives you the ability to grow organic, healthy food without fertilisers
  • Your plants are healthier and can withstand pest infestations and disease easier
  • You will need less water because the soil is healthier. The soil where I live is very sandy and poor quality. Adding compost to it gives it the nutrients and texture needed to retain moisture, enrich the soil and improve the health of the plants we grow.

Ingredients for a Compost

Your compost needs three main ingredients:

  • Brown: Twigs, branches and dead leaves. Cardboard and newspaper
  • Green: Grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, vegetable scraps
  • Water

What you can and can’t compost

You can compost:

  • All vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags, used coffee filters
  • Nut shells
  • Newspaper, shredded office paper
  • Cardboard
  • Grass clippings
  • Dead plants
  • Hay and straw
  • Pet fur and hair clippings
  • Vacuum dust
  • Cloths and rags
  • Ash from fireplaces
  • Wood chips and sawdust
  • Plant trimmings
  • Egg containers and similar containers made out of recycled paper

You can’t compost:

  • Eucalyptus and gum leaves, black walnut leaves, branches
  • Glossy paper and cardboard
  • Cooked food especially meat and fish
  • Diseased plants and weeds
  • Pet faeces and litter tray contents
  • Dairy products
  • Fat, oil
  • Plants treated with pesticides

Making your Compost

The easiest way to make a compost is to buy a bin from a garden supplies store such as Bunnings or you can buy one online here. There are a few different types available commercially, for example the traditional plastic bin or a compost tumbler. Alternatively, you could build one from scratch using wood for the frame and sacks or a tarpaulin to cover it. The bin should be situated in a shady part of your yard. We use two commercial bins made of plastic with lids. We use one continually until it is full, then the other one.

Our dual compost bins. We fill one continually until it is full. Meantime, the other one is breaking the organic material down into usable compost.

It takes time for the compost to break down the material into suitable matter for your garden. Our climate is hot and humid so it takes less time to break down than in a cold climate.

Add green and brown material to the compost in equal amounts, and add water each time. Use a compost stirrer or hay pitching fork to rotate the material regularly – this add oxygen to it and helps it to break down. You can also add lime or a commercial compost conditioner to aid in breaking the material down. When the material in the compost bin is dark and rich in colour it is ready to use on the garden.

Alternatives to Composting – Worm Farms and Bokashis

If you don’t have a garden or produce much green waste, there are alternatives to composting: worm farms and bokashis. We have a worm farm, which takes up a small amount of room on our verandah. Bokashis can fit on your kitchen bench and ferment the food waste into decompostable form that can be buried in the garden or used to enrich the garden. I have never used a Bokashi so I can’t vouch for it, but I love our worm farm – the worm juice that it produces makes the plants in our garden thrive. You can buy one online here.

We set up our worm farm over a year ago with the basic kit and a starter kit of 1000 worms. The worms were tiny when we bought them and now are the size of earthworms and are thriving. I feed them once or twice a week with kitchen scraps – you can give them any vegetable or fruit scraps apart from onions, garlic and citrus. Once a week we water them with a watering can full of water. There is a tap at the bottom of the worm farm that you turn on, and out flows worm juice – the byproduct of the worms’ digestive process. This is then diluted and used on the garden and pot plants. The plants visibly thrive with this fertiliser, which is natural and non toxic.

Our worm farm.

I really enjoy looking after my worm farm and recommend using one when you don’t have space for other types of composting. It feels great to be able to use food scraps in this way to improve our plants – a complete recycling of our waste, and economical as well because the only costs are the initial set-up. It’s much cheaper than buying commercial fertiliser and isn’t harmful to use in any way.

Even in the heat of our Australian summer my worms survived. We put a worm blanket on top of the worms and water them more often. You can also add frozen blocks of water if it’s particularly hot, but we’ve had temperatures in the high 30’s (Celsius) and they survived. They’re more active in cooler, damp weather of course.

How to Care for Your Worm Farm

Feed your worm with enough food scraps to cover 1/3 of surface of worm farm

Feed your worms with enough food scraps from your kitchen to cover 1/3 of the surface of the worm farm. Use vegetable and fruit scraps, cut up or mashed when the worms are small. I use a combination of large and small pieces of food so that the worms can eat the smaller pieces first and still have larger pieces for later in the week. Some take quite a while to break down like potato peels and cabbage leaves.

Close-up of worms and their food

This photo shows a close-up of the worms with some of the more fibrous food – corn husks and egg shells. The worms need this grittier material to aid in digestion.

Cover the food with some commercial compost

Take a handful of commercial compost (if you have some of your own garden compost you can use that as well), and sprinkle it over the food.

Cover the worms with a worm blanket to keep the temperature regulated

 Lay a worm farm mat over the top.(purchase at a garden supplies store such as Bunnings, or online where-ever you buy your worm farm from). Once a week water with approximately 5 liters water, preferably rain water. After an hour or so open the tap at the bottom of the worm farm.

The tap at the base of the worm farm allows you to drain the worm juice off after you have watered the worms. The worm juice is then diluted and spread on your garden and pot plants.

After the worm juice is drained out, close the tap again. Dilute the worm juice 1 part worm juice to 10 parts water. This creates a nutritious tonic that can be added directly to your garden and pot plants. Use on any plants over two weeks old, and as a fertiliser at any time. The benefits are that it improves your garden without chemicals, and is non-toxic to your pets, children or yourselves.

Our worm farm is a Tumbleweed product – their website is a great resource for starting and maintaining your worm farm and compost. There are some great video tutorials as well.

I recommend learning about the different types of composting in Compost Revolution’s Compost Tutorial. There is a guide to help you select which composting method suits you, and if you live in Australia, you can buy their products at a discount. Some city councils also give you a discount for composting because it helps them to reduce the waste going to landfills.