I have long considered the many different month long fund raising campaigns out there and every year I let them pass by seemingly accidentally. I know in my heart that it was a result of my laziness and fear, not any other excuse that I give myself. So this year, I am going to take the shortest month and try to make the most difference. I will be doing FebFast and giving up my luxurious 7am sleep-ins. My feet will hit the floor at 6 each morning to power walk at least 45 minutes. No leisurely stroll, these will be fast paced and pre-coffee. I might even run again if my asthma settles down. Selfishly, walk or run, these moments will be my alone time and I can get my priorities straight before anyone else in my family is even awake. More importantly, I will also be (with your help!) raising funds for disadvantaged young people in Australia.

Giving up lazy morning

As I explain on my page, I am not giving up my wine since I’m actually only having it once a week…maybe. I’m not giving up my coffee because no one needs that sort of mother/friend/human to be wandering the streets. I’m not giving up sugar either…out of principle. This had made me think what really would be difficult for me and what others have no choice but to do every day and how I could also make myself healthier for it… It did not take long for me to come up with a huge list of privileges and the one I would be giving up.

While I get to safely sleep in until 7am and rise from a comfortable bed to make breakfast for my three healthy kids who all get to attend school with home packed lunches, there are many here in Australia who don’t have any of these luxuries.

Where will these funds raised go? What will the money actually do???? Great questions! The answers are varied but simply from overcoming mental health issues and the impact of abuse and neglect, to finding safe housing and tackling drug and alcohol problems, febfast funds youth workers who connect with young people experiencing disadvantage and ultimately help them stand on their own two feet. My kids have not only me and Alec, but a huge family network of family and friends…I can’t imagine the lives of the young people who have none of that.

Maybe you will do your own fast or join me in my quest. I understand that money is tight, so maybe you will help in other ways like thinking of how you can help the youth of your own community. Anything that you can do to make things easier for someone less fortunate is a step towards a better world. If you do donate to my page, I want to thank you for supporting my febfast challenge to literally get my lucky and frankly, lazy rear end up and out the door at 6 each morning.

How shall I be accountable? What do you suggest I do to share my morning dedication with you all? A daily photo post taken durning my walk? A daily quote that motivates me? Combine the two? Give me your suggestions!!!!!

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  • Courtney - I would love to support you and take on the challenge myself as well. I think a photograph and a line or two would be fantastic. Thanks so much Rachel. You inspire me!ReplyCancel

    • sesame - I think a photo and some words is going to be the go! If I don’t stay accountable, I will try to cheat…I love my bed. Thank you for taking on the challenge too!ReplyCancel

  • JiwaTani - Hello… nice post
    Ill visit you blog today…
    have a nice day..

    Happy bloggingReplyCancel

For the first of the 12 posts I am doing this year, I am presenting something beyond a photograph. I have made a video! It is just a minute of our life this morning, the 12th of January, 2017, but it is actually much more than you may see at first. What this video represents is me learning from my kids. I am beginning to see that finding happiness means letting go of my rules and expectations…at least a little bit. I am allowing myself to be an observer of the details and seeing that happiness can be found when you break the rules.

I have tossed Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment into the Photographing Happiness Facebook Group as the theory to discuss this month. I chose this particular theory to start with because I feel that even a loose translation of his process is a place anyone can begin to improve their photography at absolutely any skill level. Concentrating on seeing and documenting moments helps to slow us down, become less intrusive with our picture taking and frankly, enjoy the small stuff. Learning to represent these moments in photographs means learning about timing, framing and composition. To challenge my own work using this theory, I have been concentrating on my underwater photography. To be more precise, I have been trying to capture that moment that includes the world above the water and under the surface. I am fascinated with that and beginning to get better and capturing it. Here are my 12 shots for the month. I have shared many more on Instagram as they happen… These comprise a roundup of the outtakes in a way…

Below you will find the images being shared on Instagram by everyone using our #photographinghappiness tag.

If you would like to join us, hop on over to the Facebook group and become part of our community where we are dedicated to a year of growing our photography skills as well as our ability to notice and appreciate the details. Later on this year, I will be doing Q&A as well as Live Videos on my Sesame Ellis Facebook page now that I have the little blue check, so make sure you like the page and check back often for updates! I am excited to be able to help my community more in 2017!

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Gemma has just done two days of a three day T20 cricket tournament with a rep team made up of some of the best U12 girls playing in our area. I might not understand the game yet, but it is crystal clear that this is a wonderful sport for her to be involved in. These are quirky and strong girls who are supportive and frankly, pretty bad-ass. I am super proud of their two wins, but mostly I am just impressed by their effort and teamwork. This year I am taking the role of cricket mum* seriously and am hoping to help facilitate more training, teams and simply clear a better path for these girls who just want to play cricket like the boys. With the Women’s Big Bash League in its second year, you would think they would be rolling out the green carpet in schools and cricket clubs to make it easy for girls to be involved. Sadly, it is not the way…yet. 

I am so excited that these determined young ladies have found each other. I mean, how often do you find other girls who want to watch test cricket on your break between halves in your own cricket game? It is a pleasure to watch them play and learn, led by a brilliant coach who can show them that women can play cricket too! Looks like this might just be a lifelong love for all of us! Who knew?

*Ps, that’s pronounced “mom”

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I watched a great documentary on Netflix the other day. Like a good film should, it got me thinking. The documentary is called Minimalism and as the new year rounds the corner heading towards us, I have seen quite a few people commit online to a clear out of stuff in their lives. Many people talk about the popular book about life changing tidy skills at the same time. I was seduced by a scene in the documentary where one of the filmmakers shares a view into his home in which he has just enough furniture to live with and nothing else but a lot of dust free floor in between his one pristine chair and his acoustic guitar. As my mind started turning, my eyes swept over the 10 year old couch set in my own living room. The light material showing the stains of life with five humans and a couple of pets. My eyes followed a loose thread on down to the legs which are marked with missing flecks of the dark stain we have kicked away like little stars in the night sky. I am ashamed, but my immediate thought was how I would love a new lounge set. Heck, I would love to remove the carpet it sits upon as well. That led to me thinking about the simple light grey bedroom set I admired in a catalogue the other day and how I would love to “lighten up” and replace the dark wood stuff we have had all our married life. As I considered creating a few new Pinterest boards for all the new looks I wished for, I was drawn back into the film and it hit me… Where is all this old stuff going? I have watched many films on the repercussions of fast fashion on people around the world. If we replaced our furniture, where would the old stuff go? How would that impact the world? Why do I want new stuff when the old stuff I have still does what it needs to do? I don’t want Alec replacing me for a less wrinkled version. I still do what I am meant to do! Things can be updated.


Desiring a new and cleaner feeling is fine. Heck, I am not even criticising the want of new things. I am merely examining my desire to acquire and coming to the realisation that it isn’t the stuff, but the feeling of fresh… That is what I want, not actually getting new furniture. And I realised that more than anything, I want minimal impact, not just less stuff. I am a collector though and raising collectors so we will continue to question our needs and and their impact.


So my minimal year will include clearing out, but like I have been doing for a while now, instead of dumping old clothes at the op shop, I turn the worn things that are no longer saleable into cleaning cloths. I can learn how to refinish the solid furniture we own so that it has many more years of use right where it is. I will research how to clean these couches that we sit on daily since they still serve that very purpose of holding us up off the floor well. We will still buy books, but as we have been doing, we will continue to purchase them used from the op shops or on the Kindle. Gemma made it all school year in 2016 with just one pair of sneakers before her toes came out the bottom, so I will buy her new ones for January. I plan on doing some research this time to actually see what companies are the most ethical. Instead of just getting a new phone through my plan since I am eligible for one, I will be upsizing to someone else’s old iPhone 6s+ and Gemma’s broken phone will be replaced with my still-working iPhone 6 since she needs one on her to get to and from high school alone. I know that I am so privileged to even have those options. There will be no sulking about not having the newest new thing in 2017. Nope, there will be celebration if we do acquire something brand new and we will care for it as we do all our other things. And, in all other cases, there will be thanks given for making do with new-to me.

Clearing out will feel great, but I am going to do my best to downsize in the least harmful way. I have never had a traditionally Pinterest worthy living space, but it will be a home I am grateful to have for my family to thrive inside filled with things we use and love. Taking care of those things by cleaning and mending might just be on trend for 2017!

My minimal year will mean minimal impact and maybe that will finally be Pinterest-worthy.

Don’t forget, you are all invited to join me in 2017 with my monthly project #photographinghappiness. We can collect moments instead of things together!

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  • Lea - I love this so much. I just watched that same documentary a few days ago and was struck by how much stuff we accumulate that we don’t need or have no use for. I have spent 2016 downsizing our belongings (many of which were duplicates!) and getting by with less – I crave that feeling of fresh as well. Last year, I made a hobby of purchasing old furniture on Craigslist and refinishing and/or recovering it in order to furnish our house with less waste. It was sort of liberating. To be able to walk by a store and not feel like I “needed” something. And it’s rubbing off! Christmas came this year and my kids’ wishlists contained only 3 or 4 things each. All of them items they will use regularly and won’t collect dust. I look forward to continuing this in 2017. 🙂ReplyCancel

Yet the desire to create remains… All I can do is photograph some happiness and hope that the inspiration to work returns in the morning. Holiday mode has settled in, but I am afraid it can’t stay for long.



It is funny that when the days are mad with activities, I crave the luxury of doing nothing slowly. Now that I have spent two weeks often not venturing further than my own backyard, I am desperate for the thrill of even just heading into the neighbourhood and picking up my prescription tomorrow. 

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