Full disclosure: for me, 60 minutes is the ideal workout length. Any less and I still have something left in the tank; any more and I lose the will to live. A full hour gives you time to warm up and cool down properly, to get your brain out of your inbox, and to feel pretty amazing.
“Nothing was as scary as my children not having a mother” – How a Cancer Diagnosis Sparked This Mother’s Creative Career
I don't like to be defined by any single part of my life experience. Whether it's being a mum, losing my mum, being a career person, being a cancer patient, being a creative person; it's all just me and part of my story…
Piece By Piece Home designer Elizabeth Pilkington has quite a story. While she now operates her design studio out of her Bowral home, the mother of two left behind a very different life in corporate communications in Sydney. The move was inspired by her impending motherhood journey, but the transition into design was brought about by something far more sinister: a breast cancer diagnosis. Her daughters were four and five at the time. "I stopped worked altogether for a full year", Elizabeth recalls. "Everything became about survival and undergoing numerous surgeries and treatments, including chemotherapy. As I started to emerge from the shock, horror and invasive catalogue of medical intervention that was required, I found absolute solace in textiles."
With Elizabeth's own mother having passed away from the same cancer when Elizabeth was just 21, the experience was terrifying. But that fear gave her a new perspective. "Any fear about possible failure in a creative endeavour disappeared", she explains. "Nothing was as scary as my children not having a mother. So, in a sense, having a life-threatening diagnosis did spur me on to focus my time and energy on what I loved to do, rather than what I thought I should be doing."
Tell us about your childhood…<p>I moved around a lot as child as my Dad was a school principal. I was born in Orange in the Central West of NSW, but lived in Windsor NSW, Palm Island QLD on a remote Aboriginal community, and also the Blue Mountains. I went to boarding school from age 14 in Bathurst, NSW. As my locality growing up was so varied, I have many stark and contrasting memories; from collecting shells on an empty tropical island beach and flying on a light plane to violin lessons in Townsville, to going for bushwalks in the Blue Mountains and attending B&S Balls in the country. I am one of four kids, so the only real constant has been always having plenty of company around as I grew up.</p>
What prompted your move to Bowral? Was it a difficult decision?<p>We moved to Bowral about 12 years ago to start our family. I was heavily pregnant and living in Cremorne Point in Sydney, and working in Martin Place in a corporate communications role. I didn't see how my current work life would fit with my view of the type of mother I wanted to be, so my husband and I started looking for homes in the Southern Highlands. We turned up one weekend, viewed a beautiful, quaint cottage in Bowral, and ended up buying it on the spot at auction 20 minutes later. Bowral has been a wonderful place to be as a family, but I still love to visit Sydney regularly and travel is an essential ingredient for my happiness.</p><p>We have recently sold our lovely home and are now preparing to build a home in the heart of historic Berrima, in the Southern Highlands, NSW. The 14 month design process has been exciting and exhausting, we now have approved plans from Council and will be commencing the build in the next couple of months. The plans include a separate studio for my Piece By Piece Home business. </p>
You gave birth to your first daughter shortly after moving. Being in a new place without your support network at such a vulnerable time - what was that like?<p>I recall having a routine blood test shortly before the birth of my first baby, and the nurse asking me if I was moving to Bowral to have my baby because I have family and friends here. When I told her I knew no one here, she looked a little stunned and then casually, but firmly said, "Be sure to look after yourself and reach out if you need help." At the time I was thinking her reaction was odd, but after becoming a mother I realised exactly what she was alluding to! Luckily for me I joined a local mother's group early on and met some wonderful people who I am still friends with today.</p><p>My mother had died of breast cancer when I was 21, so I found the early days of mothering were also laced with grief for my own mother. She had already been dead for about 8 years when my first baby arrived, but I missed her more than ever. When I became a mother myself I truly understood how much my mother had loved me. </p>
You were working in corporate communications in Sydney. What inspired the career change? Did motherhood make you reassess your priorities?<p>I had thrown myself into my career during my twenties and lived and worked in London and Sydney. I have always been ambitious on the career front, but I have always wanted to be a mother too. When I got pregnant in my late twenties I knew I wanted to give my full focus to my family, for the short-term, and so decided not to try and juggle both my career and motherhood. I loved being at home with my babies, but I also missed the buzz and brainpower required at work.</p><p>I started doing some Strategic Communications consulting work when my two girls were aged three and four. Then suffered a huge blow; I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36. I stopped worked altogether for a full year. Everything became about survival and undergoing numerous surgeries and treatments, including chemotherapy. As I started to emerge from the shock, horror and invasive catalogue of medical intervention that was required, I found absolute solace in textiles. </p><p>I started designing one-of-a-kind textile creations and held a launch event one year later where I sold out of my pieces. Originally I was creating eclectic style quilts and cushions mainly, but I have since ventured into one-off fashion pieces too, like clutches.</p>
Have you always been creative?<p>I have always loved to find things, collect things and make things! I didn't ever anticipate having a career that necessarily aligned with these interests, hence studying Arts/Law for a year straight out of school. I then switched to a Communications degree and that suited me much better as I got to exercise creative thinking for businesses. After my breast cancer diagnosis it felt so good to fully succumb to the creative calling. Any fear about possible failure in a creative endeavour disappeared – nothing was as scary as my children not having a mother. So, in a sense, having a life-threatening diagnosis did spur me on to focus my time and energy on what I loved to do, rather than what I thought I should be doing.</p><p>I don't like to be defined by any single part of my life experience, whether it's being a mum, losing my mum, being a career person, being a cancer patient, being a creative person; it's all just me and part of my story.</p>
You were diagnosed with breast cancer when your girls were still in primary school. What was your initial reaction?<p>The breast cancer diagnosis was terrifying. My daughters were four and five years old at the time. My experience, based on my mother's breast cancer diagnosis, was that you die from breast cancer. Initially I just couldn't see how I would survive this and the thought of leaving my two daughters motherless was almost too much to comprehend. Following lots of aggressive surgeries and treatments and discovering an incredible psychologist, I found my way.</p><p>Part of my recovery was definitely losing myself in the touch and visual appeal of textiles.</p>
Tell us about Piece By Piece Home...<p>Every single Piece By Piece Home creation or artwork is an original, one-off. The commitment to one-of-a-kind designs allows me to be more nimble, adaptable and eclectic in my choice of colour, texture and materials. It may be a slower process, but it means every single piece is considered, super special….and there will never be another one the same.</p><p>All fashion and home decor pieces are designed by me and stitched by local dressmakers. I source vintage and modern textiles and embellishments from all over the globe. I have been luckily enough to travel to Paris, New York, Hong Kong and the West Coast of the USA to source textiles and embellishments to utilise in my designs. </p>
Every piece you make is unique. Is that borne out of an interest in sustainability?<p>Sustainability does matter to me and I am proud to give vintage fabrics and embellishments a new life. Every piece being a one-off is also driven by other factors, such as the pure joy of the creative process, so if I create one design and then mass produce it, the creative process is much more limited. I also just love the notion that if you have a Piece By Piece Home design you know it's bespoke and no one else in the whole wide world will ever have the same creation as you.</p>
Where do you draw your inspiration from?<p>Art galleries always fuel me, as does travel. Seeing how colour combinations are used by other creatives always fascinates and inspires me. I love vintage auctions and flea markets. All these places get the creative heart beating fast!</p>
What does your work/life balance look like now? Is it tricky managing your own business from home?<p>Work life balance is tricky! I have my small Piece By Piece Home business, I also consult with a local marketing agency, <em><a href="https://www.bantergroup.com.au/" target="_blank">Banter Group</a></em>, and of course I still want to be present for my two girls as much as possible. My husband, who I have been with since I was 17 (not part of my life plan to marry my first boyfriend, but he was too good to pass up!) is very hands on. He does travel for his work quite a lot though, so when he is away, I do feel the work/life juggle more challenging. I try to just be as organised as possible and take things day by day, just doing my best. Ultimately I feel lucky to be here and to be living such a full life. </p>
You recently went on a sourcing trip to the US which was cut short by the coronavirus outbreak. Can you tell us about that?<p>Yes! My family and I were living in Portland, Oregon. We went there for my husband's work, he is part of an Australian Ag Tech business. I was having an absolute ball sourcing incredible textiles and vintage jewellery and hanging out with my Aunt who has lived in Portland for over 20 years. Then COVID-19 hit. The kid's school had started warning people about coronavirus, but we didn't realise how bad things were about to get. When the NBA called off all games we knew things must be serious! My husband and I made the call to leave early in the COVID-19 outbreak and ended up changing our flights and leaving 3 days later. We had to cut our time there a month short, but Australia definitely felt like the best place to be during a global pandemic.</p><p>We went from being in down-town Portland in the Peal District to a remote family farm in Southern NSW where we self-isolated for 5 weeks. </p>
What was your life in isolation like? Has it made a big difference to your day to day?<p>Every day as the pandemic situation worsened, particularly in the USA, we felt so grateful to be safe at home in Australia. Having lush green paddocks around us was also good for the soul, being cooped up in an apartment in Portland would have been pretty suffocating in comparison. I was able to continue my design work for Piece By Piece Home and my consulting work, so that was really positive. My husband and I both felt lucky to have employment at a time when so many people were losing their jobs. The home schooling side of things was definitely challenging; trying to work and support our girls in their learning was tough. I also didn't like how much time they were all of a sudden in front of screens. Every day, rain, hail or shine we would all go for a walk together as a family and I think that helped keep us all sane!</p>
What's next for Piece By Piece Home?<p>I have started to release some new one-off designs and they are being snapped up via Instagram. I am so grateful to the people who support my business and feel such pride when they tell me they love my designs! I am continuing to design fashion and home decor pieces, but I have also added one-off jewellery into my range, including charms. I have some beautiful pieces that I am adding to my website and shipping to customers in Australia and abroad. My new studio being built in Berrima is also a really significant step for me and my business. I can't wait to style the interior, fill it with one-off pieces and welcome my clients!</p>
What's on your list of loves at the moment?<p>Beauty is everywhere, so it's hard to name just 10 on a list of loves!</p><ul><li><a href="https://www.nathalie-lete.com/home" target="_blank"><em>Nathalie Lete</em></a>, a French artist who is whimsical and magical. </li><li><em><a href="https://www.romancewasborn.com/" target="_blank">Romance Was Born</a></em> fashion designs full of unique accents and unashamed confidence.</li><li><em><a href="https://www.instagram.com/vanessastockard/?hl=en" target="_blank">Vanessa Stockard</a></em>, an Australian artist who expresses herself through her art and has a lot of important messages to share.</li><li>Walks in the Southern Highlands with my family, surrounded by Autumn colour.</li><li>The texture of vintage velvets, so lush!</li><li>Fresh flowers every day, I need to have things that are colourful and alive nearby. </li><li>Seeing restaurants and bars reopen, I can't wait to eat at Eschalot and Josh's Cafe in Berrima.</li><li>Normal People, the Stan series. The book was good……but the TV series is great. </li><li><em><a href="https://www.gucci.com/au/en_au/st/capsule/gucci-bloom?&utm_source=google_au&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=coty_bloom&utm_term=gucci%20bloom&utm_content=sRmbS3i5g_dc|pcrid|254320342453|pkw|gucci%20bloom|pmt|e|slid||product||pgrid|45779407180|ptaid|kwd-307212674359|" target="_blank">Gucci Bloom</a></em> perfume, I bought at at the airport on my trip with a friend to New York 1.5 years ago, so it reminds me of freedom and fun. </li><li>Vintage costume jewellery, so opulent and eye-catching, yet so affordable. </li></ul><p>I'll stop there, but I could go on…</p>
Known on Instagram as Glow Maven, and as co-founder of the wildly popular Continuum Conference, Latham Thomas is an advocate for reproductive justice.
On autonomy in birth…<p>We've been on a 25 year increase in Black maternal deaths in the United States. These numbers actually mirror in other developed countries like the UK. They're exactly the same in terms of the disparities, where we see Black women who are four to five times more likely than white women to die during childbirth or due to childbirth-related causes.</p>
On racism in the medical industry…<p>The reasons for these deaths, it's not because of race, it's because of racism. There's nothing wrong with Black people. They're not more susceptible to illness or disease or more prone to birth disparities. But what's happening is that we see a system that has never really reconciled how it was founded. In the 1700s, we started to see medical journals that would talk about Black women in a certain way, that talked about certain things like the inability to feel sensation or pain. And so a lot of studies and experiments were done on black women in slave hospitals, without anesthesia.</p>
On the future of medical care for birth…<p>What does the future of medicine look like? What does inclusivity in medicine look like and maternal health? How do we repair the system if not just completely dismantle it and build it over again? How do we imagine birth outside of the hospital? I think that's a huge piece that I would like to see – more out of hospital birth options for people, including home births, birth centers and standalone maternity care centers. I think this is really important because as we've seen in COVID-19, our medical system is under duress, is overstretched and extended, and cannot accommodate people who are healthy and low-risk, and are coming in for birth.</p>
On what a doula actually is…<p>During pregnancy and birth, it's a person who is being a non-judgmental presence of support and who is carrying through that journey, and helping you as you navigate this process and postpartum. Someone who is helping you to figure out how to configure your life, how to figure out systems so that when they leave, that you're set up and you can meet the demands of new motherhood and parenting.</p>
On how the role of a doula connects us back to our village…<p>It is like a role that just was part of our village, village wisdom keepers, but now we don't function in that same way. So this is a way to protect the birth village by having someone who is connected to some of our traditions ancestrally, who will bring back that energy and help people to anchor in a process that's so deeply moving, transformational and that really impacts their life in such a meaningful way.</p>
On what birth means for a mother…<p>If you think about what happens when the baby arrives here, they are born but the mother is also born. And it's a rebirth for that person. Who she once was is no longer; she's someone new.</p>
On mothers and postpartum vulnerability…<p>They are people who are so vulnerable, that when the babies are here, when they don't get the same amount of attention that you give to a baby, when they don't get swaddled with love, when they don't get fed and washed and hugged, and they don't get sleep, and they're not hydrated, and people aren't checking in on them, they don't thrive.</p>
On consent in the medical system…<p>For you to be able to provide consent, you need information. And so, informed consent really means that prior to a procedure that you have all information on the nature of that procedure, the risks, the benefits, and the alternatives, prior to the procedure even taking place. And so that has to happen before you can give consent.</p>
On parenting a Black teen…<p>I'm really committed to my son not living in fear, especially in a time like this when we see Black people being murdered, and by the hands of the police and state-sanctioned violence that is happening constantly. I'm in this sort of space where I'm learning as I go. He's 16. That's the only teenager I've ever had. And so I'm sort of figuring it out. What I've found is that, I have to trust him and I have to trust that our village has taught him things that he needs to know, so that he can be a good human being when he goes out in the world, an informed human being.</p><p><span></span><em>Image:<a href="https://yumimatsuostudio.com/" target="_blank"> Yumi Matsuo</a> for <a href="https://linguafranca.nyc/" target="_blank">Lingua Franca</a></em></p><p><em>Go to</em> <em><a href="https://mamaglow.com/" target="_blank">mamaglow.com</a></em></p>
There's a calm self-assurance to Lucy Zelic. It's likely been cultivated through her years of being in front of the camera as a presenter on SBS, notably hosting both the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups. Sport is in her blood – born into a traditional Croatian family, she was raised playing and watching football, and her two older brothers went on to play professionally. But as a woman, she tells us, "I've copped a hell of a lot over the years"...
There was the bizarre 'scandal', for example, over her correctly pronouncing players names during the 2018 World Cup. "While it was upsetting at first, I've realised that staying true to myself is the only way I can handle it because I'd rather go to sleep at night believing in the woman I am, rather than pretending to be someone that I am not."
Since becoming a mother to one-year-old daughter Mila, though, the unshakeable Zelic has discovered a new vulnerability within herself. Some of it is born from the struggle most working mothers grapple with – "there are still times where I get in the car and cry all the way to work", she says, "but I now recognise that I am doing this for my daughter and her future." Even since the pandemic hit and she's been largely working from home, the guilt is inescapable. "I can be stationed in one room, interviewing the coach of the Australian men's national team while Mila is yelling 'mama!' at the top of her lungs just a few rooms away…my mum guilt is through the roof."
Tell us about your childhood. What are some of your most vivid memories?<p>I truly had the most pure and happy childhood. Most of my memories involve my brother Ivan and I playing football in the backyard and going exploring on his bike. I had such a wild imagination so it wasn't uncommon for me to run out to the front yard, stand on our concrete letter box and belt out a song, or build a fort with the next door neighbour's kids in their garden. I was always on the go, looking for the next adventure - whether it was real or imaginary - and I genuinely enjoyed being active.</p><p>I grew up in a very traditional Croatian household so it always smelled of my mum's cooking and on Sundays we'd go to church, then come home for lunch and watch the football on SBS. I have a sister and two brothers plus a host of extended family members, so there was always someone around or we were visiting them which I loved. Growing up, I wanted to be so many different things from a lawyer to a storm chaser, a photographer and an actress - you name it! It wasn't until I was 21 that I chose to study a Bachelor of Journalism and Sports Business and settle on something that truly felt like 'home' to me. </p>
Growing up in an avid sporting family, and with brothers, was there a particular moment or experience in which you realised that girls or women face discrimination in sport?<p>The beauty of my household was that there were never any limits to what we could do or be. My dad and brothers always encouraged me to get involved in their sporting activities and never told me I couldn't compete because I was a girl. It was only really once I started studying at University that I realised how limited the opportunities were for women in sport, both in front of the camera and as athletes. I wouldn't understand the true extent of those limitations until I fully broke into the television scene and started speaking to women who had been grafting for years to gain some kind of recognition as athletes, and not just as 'women who play sport'. Then the 'what do you know about football, you're just a woman…' comments started rolling in on social media. Can you imagine women asking male makeup artists what they know about makeup? It's just absurd. My theory is, it shouldn't matter what your gender is - as long as there is genuine passion and commitment there, everyone deserves a seat at the table.</p>
Tell me about some of the changes you've seen in the women's sporting landscape?<p>All considered, I am really pleased to say that there has been a positive shift and we're seeing so many improvements across the women's sporting landscape. A lot more women are involved in sports broadcasting now than ever before and they've proven that they add tremendous value. I stand on the shoulders of giants like Debbie Spillane who carved out an incredible career at the ABC, and worked through a time where the discrimination of women in sport was at its most abhorrent. I am forever grateful to women like her because they never gave up and paved the way for passionate football fans like myself. </p>
You're an accomplished journalist and awarded presenter, and you were also a Miss Universe Australia finalist in 2007. Do you ever feel that there's pressure for you to be a certain 'type' of woman - either the serious journalist or the charismatic entertainer?<p>I can honestly say that I never tried to fit a particular mould or stereotype when I came into the role. I always knew that I wanted to be myself and to not shy away from having an opinion, even though it might not be the populists' view. Arriving on the scene can be really daunting for any young woman because there's this fear that you're going to rock the boat or that you're going to cop a lot of grief on social media for stepping outside of the norm. Take it from me, I've copped a hell of a lot over the years and while it was upsetting at first, I've realised that staying true to myself is the only way I can handle it because I'd rather go to sleep at night believing in the woman I am, rather than pretending to be someone that I am not. A common myth is that women have just been placed in these roles to 'look at' or to tick a box, and while it may have been the motivation many years ago, there are a host of exceptionally talented women dispelling that theory. I am a journalist yes, but I also have a cheeky and sarcastic side to me and I think there's a time and a place for both because it's true to who I am. </p>
Family is obviously very important to you and you've spoken about your close relationship with your nieces. Did you always know you wanted to be a mother?<p>I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but the desire really took over about three years ago. I had reached a point in my life where I felt really satisfied with where I was at in my career, my relationships with family and friends were flourishing, but there was something missing and I knew that it was a family of my own. I felt this palpable loneliness and this longing to explore the next phase of my life because I had already given so much to my work. For a long time, I put a lot of pressure on meeting someone and trying to make that happen and it was emotionally exhausting. I still remember calling my mum one day crying and saying 'I might just have to have a baby on my own' because it wasn't happening, and there was no way in hell I was going to get on Tinder or date online. It didn't help that all I did was work, work, work and had no interest in going to pubs or clubs either! It wasn't until I decided to let go of all the angst and just have faith that it would happen for me that Corey came along. We were both on the same page about life and wanting a family so for things to progress quickly for us wasn't frightening, it was a welcome step because now we have everything we've ever wanted.</p>
How did you find managing work during your pregnancy? Was there pressure to prove it wouldn't affect you, or did you feel supported by your industry?<p>Two weeks prior to falling pregnant, I had just returned from the World Cup in Russia and moved from Sydney to the Central Coast to join Corey, who relocated there for football. The plan was to commute to work in Sydney which plenty of friends of mine had said wasn't a problem. Well, try doing it when you're heavily pregnant and coming off-air at 3:30 in the morning! It was crazy when I think back to that time. I was falling asleep on the studio couch while we were covering games towards the latter stages of my pregnancy, and when I wasn't up to the drive, I'd stay at a friend's place. I was lucky that I had a great pregnancy and I'm grateful that I was able to stop working six weeks prior to my due date. I felt my own internal pressure to carry on working as though everything was normal, but SBS were very good at reigning my schedule in and looking out for me.</p>
What's been your greatest joy of motherhood so far?<p>Seeing my beautiful baby grow into this sweet, funny and feisty little person. It's just been so incredible to watch her personality develop, and see the world through her eyes, because I feel like I am on this road of discovery all over again. I've also really enjoyed breastfeeding and it's why almost 14 months on, I am still going. I had initially made a promise to myself to breastfeed until Mila turned one, but as we got to the 10 month mark I said to Corey "I can't stop now!" I've been very lucky that it's been a pleasant journey for me and it's such a wonderful bonding experience between Mila and I. I know the day will come when it will have to end but I am dreading it already. I feel for all the mums out there who have tried and haven't been able to for whatever reason. I just hope they know that 'fed is best' and that there is no such thing as a 'failure' in this department, only what's right for you and your baby.</p><p>Seeing Corey become a father and how much it has softened him has also been really special for me. One of the other great pleasures has been letting go of all the things that used to trouble me in the past. Nothing outside our little bubble of three really matters anymore and it's such a liberating and heartwarming feeling. </p>
And the biggest challenge?<p>The biggest challenge by far was returning to work. Mila was five months old and I cried uncontrollably for hours the night before my first day back. I can honestly say it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. I remember thinking 'it's just not natural for a mother to be away from her baby like this'. Eight months on from that day and there are still times where I get in the car and cry all the way to work, but I now recognise that I am doing this for my daughter and her future. I know of many women who have said that they really looked forward to going back but for me, I had already dedicated so much of my heart and soul to my career that I just wanted all of that energy to go to Mila. A few months prior to this, Corey had come off contract with his football club and made the decision to stay out of the game for a year, which I fully supported, but it meant that I had to go back. The greatest upside to all this was that he could be at home with Mila and he is the most wonderful papa. She is just crazy about him and nobody makes her laugh the way that he does.</p><p>Another challenge is that we don't have our families here in Sydney. My parents are in Canberra and Corey's are in Wollongong so everything is on our shoulders, which can make things a little tricky every now and again. That said, SBS have always been incredibly supportive, particularly my Head of Sport, Ken Shipp. He kept reminding me from day one not to rush back to work, and to take as much time as I needed. He has a family first policy and I am very lucky to have someone like that in my corner, particularly in an industry like this. </p>
How has your life had to shift since Mila was born? How do you and your partner negotiate the juggle with your careers?<p>It's shifted enormously, but in the best possible ways. Everything we do is geared around Mila. A big priority for me is making sure that I am there in the mornings when she wakes up and that I am there to put her to sleep at night. I still haven't had a night away from her since she was born and I don't think I'll be ready for that for quite some time, because I just love being her mum and don't want to miss a thing. Corey and I have developed a great system where he will take care of Mila while I am working and when he has to be out a few nights a week coaching, I am always home with her. Mila will always be at the forefront of our decision making when it comes to careers, and not the other way around. </p>
You faced some heated backlash over correctly pronouncing players' names during your coverage of the 2018 World Cup. Do you think that speaks to Australia's issues with racism, cultural cringe, or something else?<p>This is a really tough question to answer because it's something I grappled with when it all blew up, but I haven't been able to settle on any one thing. What's really strange is that I haven't changed my presenting style in the seven years that I've been in the role, including while I was hosting the 2014 World Cup, yet it became a big story for the 2018 tournament. Both myself and Craig Foster saw it as an opportunity to educate the wider audience on why we do what we do at SBS, and that includes taking the time to pronounce players names correctly. We do it out of respect for the nation that we're covering because Australia is so beautifully multi-cultural and at SBS, we're all about servicing those communities and making them feel like they have a safe place to come to. The one thing we also have to factor into all this is that not everyone is going to like you and the reality is, they don't have to. I am not a wallflower by any stretch of the imagination and some people will love you for it and others will hate you for it. It's just the way the world works and I am ok with that. It's just what you do with those feelings and sentiments that's up for contention in my view. </p>
You've recently fought back against online abuse after receiving a comment on a photo of your daughter that read “Burn, you fucking witch, and your child too.” Why is the #BeAccountable movement so important to you?<p>Reading that particular comment triggered such an irrepressible rage in me because it disturbed me to think that someone could say that about a five month old baby. Irrespective of what they think of me, it's downright sickening. Before I gave birth to Mila, I had already decided not to share many photos of her on social media and of the few I have, none show her face because she's entitled to her privacy and when she is old enough, she can make that decision for herself. I used to have so much fun on social media but it's become such a nasty, toxic place and I feel like it's only getting worse. The online world is starting to effect everyday life and I feel for teenagers growing up in an era where there's already so much pressure on you to find yourself, but now you have to do it in front of your peers and the world via a social media account. When I looked at the escalating statistics for suicide amongst young children, and that they were linked to social media use, it terrified me. I don't want social media to potentially have that type of impact on my child or anyone else's which is why #BeAccountable was born. Its objective is to call on everyone that owns a social media account to be responsible for their behaviour online, just as much as they are in the real world. The COVID-19 outbreak has pushed my targets for the launch back but I have been holding discussions with Members of Parliament and other important figures in the background to work on ways we can ensure everyone is safe online.</p>
What does a typical day in your life look like?<p>It's certainly changed since the pandemic struck! I've been working from home for the last 14 weeks and it's hard not to feel torn between your work and family life. I can be stationed in one room, interviewing the coach of the Australian men's national team while Mila is yelling "mama" at the top of her lungs just a few rooms away. It's been tough to find a balance and switch from work mode to mum mode because you always feel like you're 'on', or should be doing something, and my mum guilt is through the roof. A typical work day involves waking up with Mila and breastfeeding her before we make our way down for breakfast. From there, we usually go for a walk to the nearest park or oval and have a good run around. Once we get home, Corey whisks Mila off for playtime while I start on my emails and take phone meetings. I usually conduct a string of Zoom interviews with various football identities, write blogs or host a weekly program called 'TWG LIVE'. In between all that, I still make time to stop for lunch and put Mila down for her afternoon nap, which is really important to me. Once the working day winds down and Mila wakes up, we go out into the backyard for more playtime before I get dinner started. I really love to cook for my family and see it as a chance to unwind. After dinner, it's bath time and then I breastfeed Mila before putting her down to sleep. Some nights I can be up late interviewing talent in the UK, USA, Switzerland or Germany, so keeping on top of the time zones can be challenging, but no two weeks are the same. When the weekend rolls around, that's my opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with Mila and Corey and catch-up with my lovely girlfriends.</p>
You've recently celebrated Mila's first birthday. What advice would you give to a new mother about that first year?<p>For goodness sake be kind to yourself mama bear! As women, I feel like it's written in our DNA to put enormous pressure on ourselves to be everything to everyone so don't strive for superhero status, just try to be the best mama to your baby, because you're already Wonder Woman. Don't ever feel guilty when you ask for help, delegate duties or take some time out for yourself, because you're no good to your baby or your loved ones if you're strung out from trying to get on top of the laundry or write thank you notes. Everyone is going to try to give you unsolicited advice about how to raise your baby but here's the amazing truth: no-one, and I mean no-one, will know your precious little one better than you, so trust your instincts and just smile when someone thinks they know better. The rough days won't last forever and neither will the newborn phase so be as present as you can because it goes by oh-so-quickly. I was so consumed with Mila that I didn't want to spend my days looking at her through a phone, but I wish that I had taken a few more videos and photos of her while she was that teeny tiny. Finally, you're going to be vulnerable but it's such a beautiful thing. I cry at just about everything now, and feel things much more deeply than I ever did before - it's been a terrifying but magical side effect. In order to feel the kind of love you have for your baby, your heart has to expand and with it, so do your emotions. Feel them, don't hide them, and remember in the eyes of your divine little boy or girl you are their whole world. To me, there is no job or role in this life more important than that.</p>
What are you loving at the moment?<p>I've been hiding a dirty secret for years and it's that I have this shameless penchant for bad reality television. At the moment I am watching the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills and the New York City version too. I spend so much of my days watching football and talking about it that it's nice to have mindless pleasures to get into. I also got into Stranger Things recently (I know, I am behind) and watched all three seasons in two weeks. It's bloody epic.</p><p>My makeup routine has changed a lot since having Mila so when I want to try and look like I've had eight hours of sleep and not been up with a teething baby, I indulge with La Mer's <em><u><a href="https://www.cremedelamer.com.au/product/20180/26248/cleansers-and-toners/the-mist#/sku/49000" target="_blank">The Mist</a></u></em>, Kevyn Aucoin's <em><u><a href="https://www.mecca.com.au/kevyn-aucoin/the-sensual-skin-enhancer/V-026606.html" target="_blank">The Sensual Skin Enhancer</a></u></em> and Chanel's <em><u><a href="https://www.chanel.com/au/makeup/p/185390/healthy-glow-bronzing-cream-cream-gel-bronzer-for-a-healthy-sun-kissed-glow/" target="_blank">Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream</a></u></em>. It's nice to feel human every now and again, right mamas?</p>
The Grace Tales is a global lifestyle platform for mothers searching for style, substance, and solidarity. Driven by creating content, community and connection, we celebrate the paradox of modern motherhood; the struggle and the beauty, the joy and the relentlessness.