Our June Scrumptious Mom, Souri Sengdara, is a beautiful woman with a powerful and inspiring story. At 38 she lives the life of her dreams in the stylish city of Melbourne, Australia, married to the man of her dreams with her two children, 12 year old daughter Jaclyn, and 3 year old son Ethan. Souri will forever be grateful to her parents who literally risked their lives to give her a chance at a life filled with beauty and boundless opportunities.
When Souri was just five years old, her parents made a dangerous swim accross the Mekong river to Thailand, in an attempt to escape the stiffling communist regime of Laos. With nothing more than a handful of belongings stuffed in a plastic bag, which acted as a floatation device, these courageous parents used the shield of nightime to make it accross the river. The journey was dangerous, and the couple witnessed many others shot down as they tried to escape. But they were lucky and eventually found their way to New Zealand where they settled to raise their two children. With little to no English, the couple took whatever jobs they could find. They spent most of their working life as process workers, making minimal wages working in factories.
“They are the best parents I could have asked for. They’re super kind and giving Buddhists. Unfortunately they were of no help to me as I struggled through high school. I dropped out of school when I was 16 and I too ended up in a factory. The future was looking bleak!”
When Souri started dating an older New Zealander, who had wealthy friends and took her to nice places, she discoverd a whole new world and was inspired to make a better life for herself.
“Marrying into money was never something that I was ambitious about. I wanted to achieve wealth with my own blood, sweat and tears. That’s exactly what I did. I don’t have millions of dollars in my bank account, but I reckon that I’m richer than a lot of people who do.”
When Souri first set foot in Melbourne, Australia, she felt instantly at home. She loved everything the big city had to offer, and as a young fashionista looked forward to dressing up to attend the horse races.
Souri became a personal trainer and after eight years of practice, studied for four years at RMIT to become a Myotherapist (muscle therapist). She now runs a clinic from her home and loves her business and life! She learned the hard way that 40+ hour work weeks are too much for her so she limits her work week to a maximum of 20 hours… 25 in extreme cases.
“My husband and kids are my priority so I want a lot of time to spend with them.”
Souri’s schedule also allows her to fully express her creativity. She loves making clothes, hats for the races or folding origami, or pursuing the passion she shares with her husband, photography.
“I remember when I was about 10 yrs old, I told my father that I wanted to be a photographer. He told me that I wasn’t pretty enough to be one! He thought that I wanted to be a model. Did I say that my parents were super kind?! See why they couldn’t help me with my school work?”
Almost 30 years later, Soury is living her dream! She married Andreas, her CTO (Chief Towel Officer) in January of 2012. Andreas had been working in the corporate world for too long and was eager for a break. Rather than head off on an exotic honeymoon to Tuscany as they had planned, the couple decided to invest in the best camera equipment they could afford and launched their new business Freshphotography.com.au. They studied dozens of online tutorials and fell in love with the work of Jose Villa. Based in South Carolina Mr. Villa still shoots on old fashion film. His photograph have a timeless quality that is simply breath taking.
“Oh, this all started because I absolutely love weddings! I love wedding dresses, the venues, the floral arrangements, the joy that was shared at a wedding. What better way to see more weddings, and we get paid for it too! I want every wedding that I shoot to look editorial worthy. We love our work and people can feel this through our photos. It’s all about capturing the moment and the lovely couple in a natural state. We call it ‘Creative Photojournalism’.”
Insired by the success of their photography business and the joy she feels when making people shine, Souri launched www.fabulous-femme.com.
“In my Myotherapy and massage clinic, I see a lot of women who are suffering from depression or a lack of inspiration. I’d always try to make them break out into a smile or a laugh. This is what Fabulous Femme is about. Making people smile, giving some the inspiration that they lack. This blog is a reminder to myself of how life should be. I also get to be a model! My dad is super proud of me.”
What is a typical day for Souri?
Souri’s priority is time with her husband and kids, so she limits her clinic hours to a maximum of six hours a day. Many days she works less and truy relishes her time as a mom.
“At night, when the kids are in bed, I sit on the couch and process photos or write for my website. I’m lucky that I can spread my working hours around so that I have time to spend with my 3yr old during the day.”
What does Souri say about living the Scrumptious Life?
“My life is wonderful because I’ve done what was needed to make it so. I want everyone to know that life is seriously too short to spend on negative things. I was once a stress-head and dwelled on the negative things. When I learned to let go of it all, I propelled forward. It’s amazing what you can achieve with positive thinking and belief in yourself, whatever background you may be from.”
What makes Souri Scrumptious?
“Most importantly I’d have to say that it’s my positive outlook on life. When I first met Andreas, he would always ask me ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ to keep things in perspective for me. If I’m not going to die from it, then it’s not worth worrying about! And My smile! I like to think that it rubs off on those I give it to! My confidence just keeps getting stronger as I get older. I can laugh at myself when I’ve been ridiculous! Sometimes Andreas and I would laugh at each other until our faces hurt! “
Souri loves lounging around in her tracksuit at home but loves to dress up when she steps out.
“Looking my best whenever I go out is a form of pampering for me. My daily routine may take up to half an hour but it’s worth it. I’m doing something for myself on a regular basis. People appreciate seeing someone making an effort and looking great when out and about. I love receiving compliments about how I look and what I’m wearing. I can cook delicious meals and bake fantastic cupcakes! My husband and children are hanging out for my baking!”
With three jobs and a family to look after, there’s no time to get bored. Souri chooses carefully what to spend her time on and is grateful to be doing all the things she loves! Working for herself allows her to strike a beautiful balance.
One of Souri’s 70 year old client told her once “”We don’t do winter”. Him and his wife always traveled the three months of winter to one exotic place or another. That sounded fabulous to Souri and four years ago she and Andreas made it their family goal. Thanks to their booming photography business they are well on their way to achieving it!
“There are two places that I’ve been in the world that I would highly recommend. One trip was to South Africa on a safari. A safari in any African country would be superb. The other was to Vanuatu where we came very close to a live volcano on Tanna Island. Both something you have to put on your bucket list!”
As for little pampering rituals?
“For me, regular exercise and stretching are the most effective ways to hold off stress and maintain a pain-free body. Of course I’d love to have more time to go for a run, play tennis, dance salsa. That will come when my little one is in school – just under 2 years away!”
Souri always makes time for family
“I see my brother and parents regularly for family meals. My mother is a seriously good cook. I turn up and the food is there waiting for me! “
Souri also tries to make time for her girlfriends but sometimes life is just a little too hectic and she’d glad to have Facebook! The good friends are there regardless of the time spent apart.
Souri final thoughts
“I hope you get something out of my story. If anything, please believe in yourself and the power of positive thinking. I’m sure that some of you have gone through a lot and are finding things tough. I’ve met a lot of people with heart wrenching stories which have reduced me to tears. The one thing these people had in common was their need to look on the brighter side of life. There is no future if you choose to live in the negative.
A wonderful book, “You Inc.” told me to write down my goals and read over them frequently. Even though I’d hidden them somewhere, these goals all became a reality – all except my desire to learn salsa properly! Maybe that wasn’t so important to me.
Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it. Life is short, be fabulous every day! “
What a beautiful journey that began almost 40 years ago, when Souri’s parents made the ultimate sacrifice and risked their very life to provide their children with the opportunity to create their own destiny! There is no greater joy for a mother than to see her children live out a life that is filled with joy, love and true beauty, a life beyond anything she could have ever dreamed of!
To find out more about this Scrumptious Mom visit her website at http://fabulous-femme.com
All photographs courtesy of fabulous-femme.com and Freshphotography.com.au.