Author: Bree James

TOP THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS THIS OCTOBER

THE THING IS… DECLUTTERING

There’s nothing better than a clean out. The past few months it seems to be the theme of my life. From cleaning out old storage areas and decluttering our house to throwing out all the freshly-bought freezer food after the kids left the freezer door open (bloody kids!).

Heck, I’ve even undergone a colonoscopy and – wow! Wasn’t that a true ‘clean out’ experience that I’d like to forget.

Yep, it’s been a month of non-stop clean-up, and it’s left me realising just how much I have in my life that is weighing me down.

The thing is, as much as decluttering sucks, it’s also so good for the soul. And I’m not just talking about old clothes, broken toys and untouched kitchen accessories you no longer have a use for.

I’m also talking about our time. Because, let’s face it, no one needs to be weighed down by things that aren’t ‘sparking joy’.
The more ‘adult’ we become, the more we realise our time is precious and our tolerance for crap and time-wasters becomes very low…This is especially the case with people.

I used to be so tolerant before kids.

Old Bree: Cancel our plans last-minute? No worries, I’ll easily find someone else to hang out with.
New Bree: Cancel our plans last-minute? I may possibly kill you (unless you are really sick and I’ll bring you soup).

Old Bree: Sure, I’ll tolerate the fact you are treating me poorly. It’s ok I can handle it. It’s been like this for years.
New Bree: Step up or step off. Ain’t no mumma got time for this type of treatment!

And no mumma does! We don’t deserve to be treated poorly or to spend time with those who may be toxic to our lives. Life is getting more and more convoluted and sometimes, it’s better to just wave away the clutter, the chaos and the crap.

The only way we can have more of what we want, is by making space. The only way to make space is by letting go of what is no longer sparking joy in our life.

So, here’s my mission for all of us: To focus on what matters – belongings we really love; the people who love us for who we are, warts and all; and the things that make us light up. Let’s get clearer about what we want in life, and more importantly what we don’t want in life, and let’s do our damn best to live the life of our dreams.

Who’s with me?

THE THING IS…MEN AND WOMEN ARE SO DIFFERENT

I was raised by a feminist and a father who really loved women (far too many if you ask me!) but it has given me an interesting perspective of men. Much to my mother’s disappointment, I’ve always had a real soft spot for our male counterparts and I’ve struggled instead with relationships with women.

Strangely, the universe has given me a home life filled with boys, both the two- and four-footed kind – which has given me lots of insight into the male brain.

The thing is, men and women are so different.

A male sees a woman and loves her for her.

A female sees a man – thinks he needs a few tweaks, and wants to improve him. Women love to make more work for themselves. We are always wanting to improve things.

A male wants to watch sport, so he watches sport.

A female wants to relax and read a book, but can’t until everything is done – which includes dropping subtle ‘hints’ that the male in the house should be doing the same as you and clean up around him.

To me, males always seem so good at segmenting their life. They deal with one thing at a time and if it’s football time on TV, that is what they do; they watch football.

Women. Well, we don’t do that very well. If we are cleaning, we are also talking on the phone, yelling at the kids, cooking a meal and thinking about our to-do list.

Women often wish their males thought like them and didn’t need to be told what to do. That they could juggle like them. Were one step ahead like them. And golly gosh, even plan like them so that things were more organised without having to be told. Women’s brains
are like a computer with a hundred tabs open at all times. Their brain never stops.

That’s why I admire the male brain. It is so good at focusing on what’s important, what they want, and making time for themselves. Life is much simpler and they seem so much more content. They fit in time with friends, time for themselves, time with the kids, time for work, time to do their jobs, and time to hang with you. The female brain on the other hand, is often never where her body is, and we finish a day feeling like we need more computer RAM or a defrag to be able to tackle another day (something males are also very willing to help out with).
If you want a good laugh, check out “A Tale Of Two Brains” on YouTube, it depicts the difference between our brains perfectly!

THE THING IS... MEN AND WOMEN ARE SO DIFFERENT

THE THING IS… REST

Recently the people in my life have told me I need to relax more, that I am looking tired and need a rest (just what us mums LOVE to hear). I’ve never been that good at chilling out. I have two speeds – full speed, or no speed. So, my idea of chilling out sees me falling asleep somewhere. If I am bored or relaxed, I’m like one of those tourists that can fall asleep anywhere; the movies, in a camp chair, whilst someone is driving me somewhere, while I am on the phone, and even in a bath. My dad once had a micro sleep whilst on stage singing a song and playing the guitar, he woke startled still doing both – so it must be in the genes!

The thing is, you gotta rest when you can, especially when you are a parent. However I find it hilarious the type of ‘rest’ you actually get as a parent.

It starts like this. “Honey, can I please have a sleep in tomorrow morning? You had one yesterday”. Yes, parents trade sleeping hours more than dollars on the stock exchange. Sleep is our most valuable asset to trade; more than food, sexy time and time out socialising.

The much-anticipated sleep in morning arrives, and of course, you are woken early. You kick your partner to get out of bed and remind them it’s your turn for a sleep in. Five minutes later the whole family is in the bed, the wrestling and fighting begins, and you know that’s the end of your sleep in.

Then you think, “lets wear out the kids, we can go for a long walk or scooter ride and then come back and they can have a rest and watch a movie, and I’ll try and nap then”… What is with kids and burning energy?

Just when you think you have worn them out, they are like dogs when you take them for a walk, they have a second bowel and there is always more poo and wee. Kids have more energy than the sun.

You attempt to have a day nap, but while the kids are quiet, you quickly chuck on dinner, pop in a load of washing and tidy up before you have a nap – you can’t rest when there are things to do! But, like looking at Facebook, you lose hours a day that could have been spent doing something better that replenishes you, like having a nap. But that moment is now gone and you commit to having an early night in bed.

The kids then have their next burst of energy.

Their dinner seems to energise them more, as does the water from their bathtime. They run around the house like dogs that have just had a bath for another thirty minutes while you are dragging your tired body around the house like an overused mop. You finally get them to bed, it takes about an hour of kisses, cuddles, discussions, drinks, more D&M’s, more cuddles, and finally they sleep.

Success.

After some more cleaning, you finally hop into bed for that long awaited nap. But then for some reason, your brain gets a second wind and you think about ALL the things you need to do. After a few hours, you finally fall asleep and groundhog day continues.

So here is a pro tip. If you want a non-interrupted nap, tell your family when you wake you’re all going to clean the house together. They will literally do anything to avoid waking you and maybe, just maybe, you might get that rest you’ve been longing for.

THE THING IS... PATIENCE

THE THING IS… PATIENCE

Patience. I have two extremes, I am either really patient, or I am really impatient.

I learnt patience from a young age. Mostly in the old Kingswood outside the T.A.B waiting for my dad, or the countless hours I spent at the hospital when my little sister had suffered yet another asthma attack. My impatience is usually with technology not doing what it’s meant to do, waiting in lines that I don’t want to be in, and watching my children look for their shoes in the morning. As an adult, some say I am way too patient or tolerate too much, but I think my patience has been my saving grace many times.

The thing is, without patience we will learn less, we will see less, we will feel less, we will hear less, and life will mean less.

So, it goes without saying, patience is one of the most important skills we can role model and teach our children.

Learning to walk, learning to tie their shoes, learning to ride a bicycle, learning to drive their first car are all times that our children’s patience, and even that of our own, will be tested. We somehow navigate this part of their life and remind our children that they need to be patient and persistent.

But the older we get, and the more setbacks we have, the more our resilience and patience are tested.

We get sad, frustrated and demotivated because things aren’t happening at the speed we believe they should. We haven’t got our dream job, car, partner or house. Our life just isn’t where we thought it would be and this is a tough place to be.

Very few people are living the life of their dreams. Or are they? Have you ever asked yourself the question, “if I had everything I ever wanted in my life, what would it be?” You may be surprised that you are closer than you realise.

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

Sure, trying to keep a good attitude whilst waiting for your kids is annoying.

Sure, trying to help your parents with their tech problems is frustrating.

Sure, trying to be patient with your elderly relative as they tell you the same story again is not easy.

Sure, trying to get that tired baby or child to sleep when they don’t want to is tiresome.

Sure, trying to get your family to clean up after themselves is repetitive.

There are so many things on a daily basis where our patience is tested.

This is life.

Maybe that story from your elderly relative will finally have meaning once you hear it for the 100th time.

Maybe you will learn something having to teach someone else.

Maybe you will see something amazing whilst waiting.

Maybe you will feel more connected to your children as you cuddle them to sleep.

Maybe it’s these little moments of extreme patience where we grow and we realise the importance of these times.

Patience will always achieve more than our force.

When we are feeling impatient, you have three choices. Leave the situation, change the situation or accept the situation and be patient.
Remember, the best things in life are worth waiting for. So, be patient.

THE THING IS... MEN AND WOMEN ARE SO DIFFERENT

THE THING IS… 12 YEARS OF PAKMAG

It’s been 12 years since I started PakMag. I started it with one desire: To help parents. I wanted to bring more joy to family life by informing parents of all the great things happening around town. If I could entertain and educate you too – then that was a bonus.

When I started PakMag, I had never worked in the print industry. I did not have a degree, I hadn’t written a story since school and I never had an inclination to be a writer (in fact I was a C grade student, especially in English).

I had no idea of what I was doing when I started PakMag and I’d still suggest that this is the case!

To top it off, I started a parenting magazine and didn’t have kids… I was however studying to be a school teacher at James Cook University, and I was also a childrens’ entertainer. But at 26 years of age, I had very strong desire to do my part to make the world a better place and went all in despite not knowing what I was signing up for.

The thing is, being a business owner is not glamorous. I think it’s funny when people think I am successful. Sure, I have succeeded in surviving for 12 years in this business (and twenty years with my entertainment business), but success is like pregnancy. Everyone congratulates you but no one knows how many times you were screwed to get there.

It’s certainly been an interesting journey and I am not the same person I was when I started out. Here are ten things I have learnt about raising a business and a family.

1. You are going to be burnt more times than an English tourist in the outback.

2. You are going to feel a whole lot of guilt. Guilty when you work on your business, and guilty when you are at home with sick kids. Guilty for taking a break, and guilty for working too hard. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

3. You are going to feel like you aren’t doing your best work. Perfectionism has to go, and “it’s not my best, but it’s the best I can do right now” will be your new mantra.

4. People will let you down. You will be shocked more times than a kid playing with a knife in a toaster, and it will hurt just as much.

5. People will think you are mysterious or aloof. Because you have been burnt more times than an English tourist you don’t let many people into your private world.

6. You will downplay your achievements. Because no one likes a showoff.

7. You will have so many sleepless nights and moments of despair because you simply just can’t do it all. A business is as needy as a newborn with colic.

8. You will be busier than a mosquito in a nudist colony. There will always be so much to do, so much opportunity, but only so much you can bite into at one time.

9. You will have times where you feel very alone, and so isolated because of the repetitive nature of points 1-8.

10. Just when you think you can’t take anymore, something positive will happen like a client or follower will send you a positive note and you will pull up your big girl panties and go for another round with “Mike Tyson” – for your family, your team, and your followers. Quitting on your dream is harder than quitting eating chocolate for life.

PakMag was my first baby. It’s nearly a teenager now, and I am really proud of what it’s become. I hope the teenage years are filled with us making more of a difference, and that we grow into the vision I hope for it. It’s certainly not been easy, but as they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

SINGAPORE - A MUST SEE FOR FAMILIESa

SINGAPORE – A MUST SEE FOR FAMILIES

It’s a city buzzing with culture in a gorgeous tropical environment. What more could you want from a family holiday?

Having never travelled there before we really didn’t know what to expect. We were in for a pleasant surprise with activities to entertain a family for months. Even after six full days in Singapore, we really only scratched the surface.

The food is amazing, the people are lovely, the architecture is eye popping and there is a wonderful mix of culture, shopping, and education making it a great place for families to visit for a holiday.

Singapore is a beautiful island city with a population of 5.5 million people from all around the world. The majority of people speak English and everything is written in English so you don’t have to worry about any language barriers.

A few things you can’t miss…

Sentosa Island – A small island just a couple of minutes’ drive from the city. You can get there via car, Cable Car, Monorail or walking. There are over 20 attractions on this amazing little island from Universal Studios to Adventure Cove Waterpark iFLY, S.E.A Aquarium, KidZania and lots more. Check out the Sentosa Fun Pass where you can have one pass for a sneak peek into all 20 attractions.

Gardens by the Bay – A stunning park spanning 101 hectares. There are several areas to the park including the Children’s Garden which includes a free waterplay park, treehouses and an adventure trail for 6-12 year olds. If you buy a ticket, you can enter the Cloud Forest
which is a massive greenhouse with a huge waterfall that you can walk to the top of. At night the huge (25-50 metre) solar “supertrees” put on a free spectacular light show that is a must watch.

See the Merlion – Singapore’s most iconic sculpture, the Merlion (a half-lion, half-fish creature), is free to visit. Pose with the water-spouting critter before taking a walk around Marina Bay.

Artscience Museum – This massive Lotus shaped building is super cool on the outside, and even cooler on the inside. The museum melds art with science in a spectacular way that is not only visually inspiring, it also interacts and changes according to your creative input.
Children can draw their own characters and see them come alive as animations on the walls and floors.

Forest Adventure – With 60 obstacles, three tree top courses and five zip lines, this is an adventurer’s playground! The “kids’ course” has 16 different crossings to get from tree to tree, and then finishes with a zip line to the ground.


Got the travel bug now? You and your family can WIN flights to Singapore at the PakMag Expo and Family Fun Day! Simply come along on the 9th of June from 9.00am – 3.00pm at Fred Moule Pavilion and complete the PakMag Family Passport to go in the draw to win a once-in-a-lifetime experience.