reviews · Uncategorized

Book Review – A Kind of Magic

A Kind of Magic by Anna Spargo-Ryan

The back of the book has a review quote from Clementine Ford, ‘Anna Spargo-Ryan writes with the kind of searing insight and beauty that both shatters your soul and also pieces it back together. I hope she never stops.’

This is truly a remarkable book, I’d give it 4+ stars (out of five) but nonetheless I found it difficult to read. The searing insight truly shattered my soul – it was painful, raw and oh so real. This was a definite real life story of someone going through experiences that at times seemed out of this world and yet were so relatably real they hurt.

This start to the New Year has been tough for me. It’s a true case of New Year, New Me, except I really really wish I could go back to the old me. The old me was a wife and mother. The new me is an ex-wife and ‘part-time’ mother. These were the two most important roles to me and although I’ll always be a full time mother, they both feel lost to me….and not by choice.

I’ve had about 6 months to get used to the idea but New Year (and probably post-Christmas stress) hit me again afresh (as I’m sure the grief will hit again and again for awhile).

This book was a gift from a friend who bought it online and had it sent to my address. I love this friend and really respect her reading recommendations, so even though it was difficult to get into I knew it would be worth it. And tbh, it wasn’t so much that it was difficult to get into (although sometimes it was) but moreso it was painfully raw. It felt a relief to put it away after a page or a section and was then at the same time difficult to reflect that as a person’s memoir I could set it aside, they can’t just set aside their life (or more specifically their mental illness)

The book is essneitally about the author Anna’s experience with anxiety, psychosis, borderline personality disorder and depression and it’s impact on her life.

Getting back to my ‘tough’ life, as I continued pressing on with my reading, I had days where I could identify my own symptoms of anxiety and depression coming to the fore. I don’t know if the book exacerbated them or if it was just where I was in life but whilst I could recognise and appreciate the excellent writing and truly insight, much needed voice of lived experience it was rather hard going.

There is much humour in how Anna writes but it really was quite close to the end before I truly felt a shift to optimism and ‘the magic of finding ourselves again’.

Each chapter began with a clinical or technical definition of an aspect of life with mental illness, a real juxtaposition to the honest lived experience shared.

…It’s now nearly the end of March – a testament to how long I can keep a tab open on my computer and avoid getting back to it! But there’s another post on my mind and I won’t let myself start that until this is posted. Thankfully I discover there’s enough here to be publish worthy (by whatever standard I choose to declare that). I had dog eared several pages in the book and intended to go through and share what made me do so but I’m going to pick just a few to share (and get this over and done with)…

“So I have to trust that it will abate. I have had to learn to wait. I have learned to be patient with my
fear.’ [Yes! I get this, and the below page too]

Lastly – we have to do better. These last two images show the shocking state of our support systems for mental illness in Australia – first an experience of an emergency room and the second acknowledgement of the luck of privilege [Sorry this post is a bit of mess – main message – lived experience memoirs rock and this one especially – thank you Anna Spargo-Ryan]


Back into Reading?

I finished a book last night and it felt a bit weird.

I just havn’t been reading much lately (we moved, I work a lot on computers, netflix is just pretty darn good).

I enjoyed it – The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels, with lots of literary references and a well written dual timeline. I liked the main character and learning more about her and her journey but I did feel a bit, I don’t know, either lost or bereft when I finished it. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the ending, or maybe I just wanted to keep enjoying a book.

So tonight, Maundy Thursday, I thought I’d start a new book, actually I’ve started two and I’m disappointed with both.

Page 6 of the first …”She liked to look her best, of course, and she had not, like some other mums she knew, let herself ‘go’. What does this even mean?!? Are we Mums so judgemental about other women’s post birth bodies?!?! I guess its culturally normal for women to talk/think like this, but do the books we read need to utilise this trend. Am I (most probably yes!) overreacting?

Then the second book I pick up page 1, …”Not that Carly’s hair was bad, it just wasn’t naturally blonde….no one would have guessed how many extensions, pieces, pins and lacquer sprays were holding it all up.”

Now maybe it’s just that I’m not a very visual person. Personally I don’t need a physical description of my book characters, in my mind they are really just shadowy shapes of a person so there’s that side (and maybe it’s the only side), but do books really need to describe their characters physical features full of comparisons of what they are or arn’t, using what I consider negative societal body image norms? I want to know who they are as a person – their values and personality, not their looks. No doubt (?) these books will get to that but with a start focussing on looks and judging other women’s looks I’m not sure I want to go any further.

Am I just in a funny mood?

Despite my earlier claim I havn’t been reading much I will recap a few other 2021 reads.

Last week I finished Hamnet by Maggie Farrell for bookclub. It was well written from the start but took awhile to get into, I relished the second half ( plot looks at William Shakespeare’s family).

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty wasn’t what I expected and a good read but I do find her books all have a similar feel which is great but after a few a tinge unoriginal .

The Survivors by Jane Harper was an easy buy based on her previous novels but although another good read not as good as the ones I loved before.

The standout was easily Honeybee by Craig Silvey – this was an absolutely brilliant read which I highly recommend, even if you’re not immediately struck by it’s blurb. Another must read from last year is What the Dog Saw by Mark Worthing, written for children/siblings with experience of suicide in mind but just beautiful for anyone.

What have you been reading lately? Hoping to get into a good book over the long Easter weekend? Have you let yourself been put off of a book because of a mood/insensitive wordings?

Happy Reading and a reminder that I believe Jesus died on a cross for me and you and loves us all very very much.

God bless



COVID and 2021

There’s no denying that 2020 will be remembered for COVID-19.

For me in country South Australia we were relatively unscathed but I still want to take a moment to reflect on what it meant for me.

March was when it really started to get real locally – there was so much unknown, people were pulling kids out of school, schools were feeling overwhelmed – I was scared of the possibility of schools closing, not sure how my mental health would cope. Empty supermarkets also made me anxious – I hate shopping and cooking at the best of times let alone when the shelves are empty, thankfully I bulk buy toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap so those supplies were fine!

In the end we only had one week of extra holidays – with a revision pack sent home from school, we did 3 days home schooling. I also attended a conference via zoom (and many more meetings over the year – a real plus for us country-dwellers). The next holidays felt sooo much better knowing there was an end date.

In SA we then had another lockdown in November which was again thankfully short lived. Event planning became much more involved with maximum numbers, check-ins and covid marshalling. As I write out these few thoughts I’m reminded again how lucky we were with limited lockdowns, cases and deaths. I know others have been much more affected.

This year I also obtained a masters degree, started a counseling business, dipped my toes in a now defunct political party, continued volunteer work in community mental health/suicide prevention and took on a new leadership role.

In 2020 I can also say I was mentally resilient (amongst the usual ups and downs) and I put into practice prioritising self-care.

In 2021 I hope to grow my business – more clients and maybe also incorporating community work.

I need to keep working on my health, particularly diet and I’d love to use house-moving to truly do a decluttering clean up!

So in summary I think my priorities will be…..

  1. Faith
  2. Family – quality time
  3. Diet (and exercise)
  4. Business
  5. Professional Development
  6. Housework
  7. Volunteer roles

No real new resolutions but I’ll keep an eye out for something to inspire me….

life · parenting · reviews

My Hats, My Inadequacies and My Readings

It appears I’ve had a bit of a hiatus from the blogosphere. Similarly it appears that the end of school holidays is my time for posting. So here I am again, this time at the end of Term 3 holidays, relaxed and inpired enough to make time to sit in front of the screen and type out a post.

We were ready for these holidays, worn out from our routines and ready for a break, and yet I largely spent my time feeling inadequate and guilty, then trying not to let these feelings take me down. We did participate in various activities and particularly enjoyed recent days as a whole family in our capital city (family, friends, adventures, beach, soccer fields, viva pinata!) but I found the days long and screen and snack time difficult to manage. I kept my head above water and am coming out of this time especially motivated to build my business – I’m thinking this may help me justify OSHC next holidays!

My Hats:

  • Parenting is number one but it can be at the same time the hardest and easiest. My children are old enough to do much themselves (easy) but there is so much scope for more active parenting on my behalf (oh so hard). My son is pushing boundaries (do they ever not!) and gets so easily angry at home. My daughter is growing too quickly for me to keep up, she doesn’t share easily and I want to work on our relationship so I can feel more confident she will reach out if needed.
  • Family – keeping house and feeding the tribe – I feel happy when I’m on top of dishes and washing and we’ve done (the kids and I) something each day – walk, outing, cards, soccer.
  • Renovations – we are moving house sometime before the year is out and completing renovations before we do – I had hoped the holidays would be time to get on top of this but it felt overwhelming to work on independently and my husband was not readily available – my mind debated if this was excuse or truth
  • Volunteering – I had a few tasks for one role that I wanted to tick off, I got there but it was frustrating not to just get in and get it done earlier. Another role I was happy to take a backseat on during holidays, especially following some recent negativity but again some frustration arose with opportunities missed due to lack of – well it wasn’t exactly time, nor was it motivation perhaps a combination of the two and difficulty accessing timely support. Another role is ending prematurely not by anyone’s choice with some sadness.
  • Work – wonderfully flexible and slow in holidays but again the opportunity to catch up on PD (professional development) or other such ‘always there’ jobs went wanting

I did finally start Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (good for PD) – this book helped me move from my mother-guilt to what other purpose or meaning I could be searching for. The movie Carrie Pilby also spoke of purpose and touched my heart

AND I bookended the holidays with 2 wonderful reads, both South-Australian authors:

The Bards of Birchtree Hall by Amanda Maynard-Schubert – I got to read this pre-release date, and as number one in a trilogy it’s going to be a struggle to wait – it is the beginning of the story of Neala ‘Stormbringer’ Moran as she discovers she’s part-faerie – I fell immediately in love with this book. Neala’s voice was just so relatable, open and honest, it felt like home. Each character introduced intrigued me and the relationships felt so genuine. It’s Harry Potter in flavour but wonderfully different. The elemental nature of the magic, the importance of music and the learning styles at Birchtree are truly unique.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams – Based on the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary the author was considering questions of ‘Do words mean different things to men and women? And if they do, is it possible that we have lost something in the process of defining them?’ Again a beautiful and diverse cast of characters around the main character Esme who we follow from childhood through the women’s suffrage movement and the Great War, finding her own purpose. I love historical fiction especially when it inspires me, as it did today, to google and google to find out more!

Love to the blogging community


ps I do NOT get this new editor….adding photos anyone??


Kindness Pandemic #2

Today I was truly blessed to spend time on our nearby River. Our family tend to be more in-landers/busy no time for fun farmers ( :p ) . Today however my son was invited to a birthday party down the river fishing with a classmate. Hubby was busy farming (sheep to bring in for shearing Monday) but the kids and I made another trek into town for the adventure.

An added bonus was I know the mother well and made a bold request.

Lately we’ve been catching up with another family of one of my son’s classmates. A note came home from school with a phone number suggesting an outing to a local playground – the boy’s both love soccer. A few weeks later I sent a text and made the connection so we could catch up. This family has been in Australia for 18 months, just 6 months in our local area. Whilst the children have attended international schools learning English all the way the mother is still learning, her native tongue being Arabic. It’s hard enough moving to a new town without any extra barriers (believe me as a somewhat itinerant pastor’s daughter, I know!).

I’m so proud when I made the late request yesterday asking if I could invite this family to join us, Mum and son said yes. I’m so excited to be getting introduced to lots of new cuisine and seeing the kids all have fun together. Life’s greatest joy (for me) is knowing I’m making a positive difference in someone’s life and today I’m sure I and all the beautiful people around me did just that.

Hope you too brought a smile to another’s face today 🙂

God bless



Just a taste

I was feeling quite enthusiastic today by the prospect of writing a new blog: It’s been a while (but thankfully not quite as long as I thought); I’ve finished my most recent read (coincidentally the book from my last posts to read read list!); we’re running out of data so best to give my newly acquired Netflix a break and it’s been a good week, so I thought that would be nice to share. But of course now I’m sitting here, I’m feeling tired and a bit clueless for direction.

However, some recent feelings:

  • delighted at how relaxed I feel these school holidays compared to the last
  • Grateful to live in South Australia which has consistently stayed COVID free
  • Motivated by my latest read to keep learning about Australian politics
  • Nostalgic watching my favourite childhood series return to the screens on Netflix, yay The Baby-sitters Club
  • Excited that my small counselling business is getting off the ground
  • Content with my relationships
  • Happy to be home with the kids
  • Busy with my various roles but also relieved I shelved one responsibility a little bit

And now I think I’m ok to leave it at that, short and hopefully sweet 🍓

Happy Friday All 🙂

How have you been feeling lately?

Books · Uncategorized

WWW Wednesday 6th May 2020


I’ve had a long hiatus from this post but got inspired in my reading last week and am keen to share 🙂 Thank you to Sam from Taking on a World of Words  for hosting this fun and simple meme, with just three W questions to answer: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? You can also join by answering and linking your blog post back on Sam’s post here.  

What did you recently finish reading:

Last week I found myself reading The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power. Somehow I came across this on Libby (my library ereader app) and I loved it. I’ve been interested in learning more about the UN for awhile but hadn’t quite managed to open the ‘beginner’s guide’ I’d picked up. This memoir, however, about President Obama’s US Ambassador  to the UN had me eagerly checking wikipedia for more details about titles and descriptions of the UN. Samantha Power has also been a foreign journalist, author (Pulitzner award winner for a book about genocide), human rights advisor etc. etc and her memoir was a real eye opener.

What are you currently reading:

Somehow I’m managed to start and have 3 books currently on the go (not the usual for me). I was only a few pages into The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi ( – author and Luke Leafgren -translator) before my hold for Educated by Tara Westover became available and then I realised my loan for The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton was almost up. So we’ll see what the week brings in getting through any or all of these!

What do you think you’ll read next:

Inspired by how Samantha Power’s memoir got me thinking, I’d like to try my hand at an Australian politician, so my next goal is My Story by Julia Gillard. Will be interesting to see if I get into it or not. Maybe you’ve got a different politician/activist memoir to suggest? Have you heard of Samantha Power or read her memoir?

That’s all folks, happy reading!


family · Farming · life · mental health · relationships


Feeling cold, sad and lonely.

I just finished an episode from Season 2 of The Crown. Prince Phillip has been travelling around the Commonwealth, predominantly via ship, away from England for months, Queen Elizabeth is home and one of the Prince’s staff’s wife is seeking divorce.

It was not a good day to watch this show. My house is cold. I’ve turned the heater on, but I think the batteries are going flat in the remote and the mode hadn’t changed properly sending out cold air (just finally feeling warmth now coming out). The window in one of our doors has been broken for over a month (the new glass is s sitting waiting to be replaced along with new screening laying around for literally years), so cold air has been more easily able to enter. I reattached some cardboard today and have shut off that section of the house, although being the kitchen area can not avoid it entirely.

We have just had some wonderful rain. The perfect start to seeding and my husband is hard at work. I had three weeks at home with the children for extended holidays in SA. I’m incredibly blessed that we have had 6 days free of new COVID-19 cases and my children have been able to return to school (Indeed our shutdown has been minimal compared to many countries).

Even prior to seeding starting on ANZAC Day my husband had been busy preparing for this time on the farm and despite no usual sporting committments on the weekends family time was still limited.

I know I’m sad from having just watched a sad show but I’m also crying because I can’t remember the last time my husband told me he loved me without myself first saying the words. Nor can I remember the last time he asked how my day was. He is a wonderful provider and a good man but he puts little effort into our relationship. Sometimes its ok. Sometimes I have enough else going on in my life I am distracted from this absence. Sometimes I’m happy just to be living peacably and doing my own thing. But often, today it hurts deeply.

I had no intention of writing this post. Although I struggled mightily in the holidays with negative thoughts and lack of motivation. I also (belatedly) reached out and received wonderful support. I had wonderful cuddles with the kids in bed this morning, so although lacking patience at bedtime in general I’m coping.

My body is warming up, I have plenty to do today with time too I believe for rest and bingeing (no more The Crown, I’ll turn to Gilmore Girls!). But I am sad.



community · faith · life

Kindness Pandemic

The last few weeks have seen so much change in our society and with it at times overwhelming anxiety. I confess to being scared to go to the shops unsure of what I’ll find. I’ve also been one of millions of parents thinking about the decision whether or not to send my children to school. Living in a country area, there’s a sense of false safety perhaps. But also living on a farm social isolation doe not feel all that new, and I know whats not entirely best for my mental health.

I was very blessed this week to be added to a facebook group with Mums from my sons class where we could share our choices and thinking. Within this group we also acknowledge the superhero efforts of our school and it’s staff and I can’t even describe the joy it gave me to be part of this group who arranged these gorgeous flowers for these very special people in ours and our childrens lives.


I’ve also been completely uplifted by The Kindeness Pandemic group on facebook recording kind deeds all over the place. Also learnt about Up Lit and read the darling book A man Called Ove today. So while the world may at times get us down, there always good to be found.

Praying for everyone in need at this time

God bless


ps I also recommend Humans of New York for good fuzzy feelings – have you got any recommendations? Any specific prayer requests? xo



Starting Off Right

Have you ever started a job wrong and then had to re-start it right? … Um only like a million times!!

Apparently God’s biblical ‘heroes’ did too.

From Lutheran Hour Ministries – Daily Lenten Devotion 27th Feb 2020

You may remember the story of Moses and how he started his work. God found him tending sheep in the wilderness, and He spoke to him through a burning bush and sent him to set the people of Israel free. What you may not know is that Moses had already taken a whack at that job, 40 years before. He had attacked an Egyptian slave driver who was beating a Hebrew man. Moses’ self-appointed rescue job didn’t work out. He was accused as a murderer and he had to run for it. It was another 40 years before God called and sent him back to do it right (see Exodus 2:11-25). God’s call makes all the difference.

Today did not start right for me. I had a late night due to book-club (Yay! Wolf by Wolf – check it out). I slept in my daughters bottom bunk as my son had transferred to our bed (morning washing required). Said son slept in but needed a shower and only had a single bite of his breakfast. In all honesty I knew we weren’t  early but I didn’t think we were really running late, so I didn’t do my usual bus run speeding, but the bus didn’t come.

I was busting for the loo but had to drive the kids into town as for the first time we had TRULY missed the bus (we have needed to race it down a number of  times!). I pulled over one car on the 30 minute drive in, hoping it was the school’s local receptionist, no such luck. But we did meet the bus at the first intersection where the bitumen starts so I didn’t have to go ALL the way into town bra-less!

Over half an hour later than usual I got home and hear from my husband that we’d had a miscommunication around some funding we’d discussed that he DID want me to apply for. I ‘obviously’ hadn’t heard what he’d said to me, no possibility that perhaps that’s not how the conversation ended….hmm a bit defensive aren’t I?!

I found it a hard then to settle into my normal morning routine – cuppa, bible reading, job-list and go…. I was tempted to go back to bed but knew that would only make the job-list harder.

I put the bible aside, I put the washing on, made the bed, grabbed a blanket and curled up on top….and then I connected. I sent off some messages, spoke to my brother (who’s life complexities are currently much higher demand than mine, he and his wife are amazing humans and parents, I wish there was more I could do but God will answer my prayers and He IS with them too), read the above devotion and still wasted my morning away writing a blog (hehe) but it was the time-out I needed.

I needed one yesterday too at around lunch time and it allowed me to get on top of my afternoon jobs. I am learning and surprising myself and trying each day to start right, sometimes multiple times a day.

God’s biblical ‘heroes’ were all far from perfect, except for Jesus of course, who saves us from our imperfections and works with us, comforts us and calls us each day for a life with Him.