Sometimes the best changes in life spring from an ‘aha’ moment.
Just ask mum-of-three, Sarah Parkinson, who started a thriving business after sitting next to her husband on a tractor in the middle of their farm in south-west Victoria.
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As the sun rises on the farm today this is my affirmation “You are rising strong”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Because sometimes we need a motivator, a reminder, some inspiration, a positive note to start the day right. Affirmations are (obviously 😉) what I use to help me start my day, what’s your go to for a good start to the day? • • • • •⠀⠀ #affirmationfarm #affirmationcards #affirmations #positivethinking #positiveaffirmations #positivequote #reprogramyourmind #rewireyourbrain #shiftyourfocus #shiftyourmindset #selflove #selfcare #selfdiscovery #selfhelp #inspiration #youarerisingstrong #startthedayright #womeninbusiness #australiansmallbusiness #mumboss #mumlife #workathomemum #lovewhatyoudo #ladystartup #farmerswife #farmlife #etsy #etsyseller #etsyshop #planoly
Sarah had not felt herself since the birth of their second child. And she had just returned from a weekend course run by Lisa Corduff and Amy Taylor-Kabbaz in Melbourne all about healthy eating and mindfulness, where she’d stood up and asked for help.
“I stood up and said, ‘I am at a turning point in my life. How do I deal with negativity from myself?’ And I just kept talking it was like the floodgates open, and I shared what was going on with my life. And it was like a cry for help as I was trying to figure out what to do next. I didn’t know how to start?”
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Here goes, time to introduce myself. Hi, I’m Sarah, creator of Affirmation Farm. I’m a mother to three, 7, 5 & 3 years old. I’m a Health Information Manger, running my own contract coding & auditing business. I’m a farmer’s wife. And a #ladystartup. I created Affirmation Farm last year, after coming out of the fog of post natal depression and anxiety. I’ve spent the last two years healing myself, primarily through doing courses with @happymamawithamy. During this time I discovered meditation, self reflection, amazing books/podcasts/teachers. And the thing that helped me the most: affirmations. I would print them out on colourful paper and put them up on the fridge. Positive, empowering statements that would help me focus; on my self worth, on resilience, on mindfulness, on changing the way I was thinking. These affirmations helped me so much that I thought maybe others could benefit from their power. So I taught myself to use a graphic design program, I spent hours online searching for the right printer & packaging, setting up my Etsy store and social media pages. And I launched 🚀 It’s been so great, I know through messages & feedback that my affirmation cards are really helping people, and that’s the whole point. It’s not about making sales, it’s about connecting with people and bringing a bright spark to their day. I’m new to all of this social media marketing and to be honest I’ve been hiding behind this screen because it’s easier than putting yourself out there. But I truly want to help people and if seeing who I am and reading my story helps build that connection then here I am! In the past few days I have seen posts and heard podcasts about ‘humanising’ your social media account, telling people who you are, the person behind the product. The accounts I love are amazing business women putting themselves out there. Thanks @happymamawithamy, @lisacorduff, @confetti_rebels, @bonmaxie, @mumswithhustle, @pdme_ for inspiring me to ‘breath into the fear’ 💛
A postnatal depression diagnosis
At that stage Sarah had three small children, a baby, a two-year-old and a four-year-old and while her farmer husband was very supportive, his busy days did not leave much time helping out at home.
“We had children close together. And I had a maternal heart condition and c-section and didn’t have time to recover from birth and pregnancy. The next thing I knew, I was at home with two little kids on my own trying to work it out. And not long after that, I was diagnosed with postnatal depression, which is an isolating experience on its own. And to try and deal with it on your own is very isolating too,” Sarah told Amy Taylor-Kabbaz’s Happy Mama podcast.
“It was total survival mode”
“When I did have time to myself I would think, ‘Do I have time to eat something or try to sleep?’ It was total survival mode. At that’s not something you can maintain in the long term, I had to do something to rescue myself from this state of mind and be a better mother, wife and friend.”
Sarah decided to sign up for Amy’s online ‘Reconnect’ course, and that’s when she went to sit out with her husband on the tractor.
“I said to him, ‘I am setting up an area in the study just for me and I am going to do my meditation there and print out all my notes from the course, and I am going to make it happen.’ And he was very supportive which was important.”
Through Amy’s program, Sarah learned how to journal and meditate – self-care activities she’d never tried before.
The business idea is born
“The three-minute meditation was amazing. Just somebody saying to you, ‘You are enough, you are strong’. That positive reinforcement is so powerful if you are ready to absorb it,” says Sarah.
Sarah found the mantras so powerful that she started writing them down in her notebook and sharing them on the Reconnect Facebook group, with her fellow members showing their support.
And that’s where the inspiration for Sarah’s business, Affirmation Farm, hit.
“I started printing out sentences or quotes from the focus of Amy’s talks from the week. And I would print them and put them out on the fridge, and they would keep me on track. And they were a good conversation starter for my husband too,” says Sarah.
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This place has healed me. I have been here in good times and in bad. In sickness and in health. In joy and in post natal depression and anxiety. I have been here alone or with friends after school drop off walking and chatting. I have been here with the kids in a pram and on scooters or bikes. I have listened to music or podcasts or meditations while walking or sitting on the rocks. And I have sat in silence with the waves, my back against the lighthouse door, tears streaming down my face. This place has healed me. I am drawn to it, the sea, the rocks, the sounds, the lighthouse. It beckons to me…’I will save you’. Whatever it is that heals YOU, that YOU need, say YES to it, make it happen, you deserve it 💛 • • • • • #affirmationfarm #affirmationcards #affirmations #positivethinking #positiveaffirmations #positivequotes #reprogramyourmind #rewireyourbrain #shiftyourfocus #shiftyourmindset #selflove #selfcare #selfdiscovery #selfhelp #inspiration #sayyestoyou #iwillsaveyou #postnataldepression #happyplace #lighthouse #happymama #mumboss #mumlife #workathomemum #lovewhatyoudo #ladystartup #farmerswife #etsy #etsyseller #etsyshop
“It felt like a gift”
“They seemed to jump out at me. And I would put them in the Notes in my phone until I had time to write them up. It felt like I was reading and they were being highlighted so they’d jump out at me. It felt like a gift.”
“These affirmations really helped to shift my focus to positive thoughts and get me back on track if things were getting challenging. Because they had helped me so much I thought perhaps they could help other people, so I started the designs and sourced printers and packaging and went from there,” says Sarah.
Sarah says she is still in awe of the power of these simple positive statements can have on your life.
“I use them every day, they are in various rooms in our home and seeing the positive, motivating statements when I am going about my day to day life really helps me to get out of my head and refocus. They really can reprogram your subconscious mind, shift your focus and change your thought patterns. This positive reinforcement and motivation help to build self-confidence and self-belief. When they are used on a regular basis you can rewire your brain and change the ‘stories’ you tell yourself,” says Sarah.
Growing with pockets of time
Affirmation Farm is a side-project for Sarah who says she manages to find pockets of time to devote to growing her the business.
“It’s been a slow process because I am still running another business and helping with the farm and raising the kids. But I find pockets of time. Often when the kids are playing out on the trampoline or watching a bit of ABC Kids, and that’s okay. I just tinker along. I have worked on it slowly and quietly. I have just started selling on Etsy and it’s been a really wonderful journey.”
Inspiring the next generation
Sarah also says Affirmation Farm cards have inspired her eight-year-old daughter’s quest for self-discovery:
“One evening last week my eight-year-old daughter was having a bit of a tough time. I went into her bedroom after putting my other two children to bed and she had laid out all of her affirmation cards for kids on her bed and was going through them to pick the ones that she thought could help her. Then we chose some together and she decided to take them to school with her to help motivate her,” says Sarah.
“And I thought, ‘Yes, this is why I created Affirmation Farm,’ to help people motivate and empower themselves. If this is something we can build into our children, it will help them for the rest of their lives.”
“The business has been an integral part of my healing”
“I am proud that my experience of postnatal depression and anxiety has lead me to develop such a positive and empowering product. The whole process of designing the cards and setting up the business has been such an integral part of my healing, Affirmation Farm is bringing me such joy and fulfilment,” says Sarah.
“Maternal mental health is very important to me and if hearing my story helps other people, that’s fantastic. I know through messages and feedback that my affirmation cards are really helping people and that’s the whole point of Affirmation Farm. It’s about connecting with people and bringing a bright spark to their day and helping them to know that they are not alone, there are other people out there feeling the same way.”