The Merrymaker Sisters: The Making of Merry! by Vanessa Finnigan
Some may say the word ‘merry’ is overused or even a misnomer at this time of the year! How can we be merry when there are so many suffering around the world and the silly season is upon us? Well, you only need to spend a few minutes with Carla and Emma Papas, AKA Merrymaker Sisters, to know deep within your being, that it’s actually more important than ever, to ‘be the joy’ and share as much of this with the world as possible. Like a breath of fresh air… these effervescent sisters are bringing about the revival of merry.
So their merrymaker journey began about five years ago when they became disillusioned with trying to climb the corporate ladder and instead of signing up for a lifetime subscription of yo-yo dieting, self-judgement and stress, they started to wonder if there were easier ways to be happy and healthy.
They stumbled on the concept of ‘real food living’ followed by some paleo recipes which got their gastric and creative juices flowing! Then they started experimenting in the kitchen (bouncing ideas off each other), and found inspiration in every nook whenever they ventured out into the world.
They came across the work of the late Joseph Campbell and his ‘follow your bliss’ message strongly resonated with them and they started to imagine ‘living the dream’ in all aspects of their lives.
Two years later in early 2014, they started building their Merrymaker brand while still working full-time in corporate land. All the while, they were researching and casting the net wide as they embarked on their exciting new career and lifestyle journey. The sisters turned to Mr Google and typed in ‘what is a blog?’ and ‘how to start a blog?’ to the search engine and continually educated themselves, becoming blogging and online maestros. They began to ‘road test’ things along the way, sharing their experiences as a way to make it easier for others AND… just because it brought them joy to share!
Quite quickly, a magical journey unfolded which was conceived from their creative talents and their enthusiasm with sharing the things that lit them up. They began to travel the world, becoming famous for their merriment and things like turning old junk food favourites like ‘The Mars Bar’ or ‘Golden Gaytime’ into healthy, whole food versions to make the taste buds tingle with delight!
Emma said, “I had always enjoyed baking and making things like cookies and cakes and Carla had always enjoyed eating them (they laughed). So we decided to turn one of our passions into a healthy hobby.” The joy and creativity with which they began sharing their blogs and posts was infectious and started to create a following which allowed them to walk away from their full-time jobs in mid-2014.
Now they have a combined audience of 1.5 million people from their blog, app, podcast, books and social media sites and this year they released their healthy cookbook ‘Get Merry’.
The girls have a simple yet effective recipe for success… tune in to yourself and see if what’s on offer, feels fun and aligned (whether it’s a project, an invitation to an event or a new practice), then go for it!
One of their latest passions is creating live podcasts from their home base and learning from the people they interview! And they love speaking at events and are excited to have their work published in a variety of well-known magazines.
Creating a happy, home life is a high priority for Emma and Carla and a few months ago they moved in with their two best friends and it definitely sounds like they have created the house of Merryville! They said their morning ritual includes a chai or coffee and sometimes a healthy brownie at one of their favourite local cafes. They live and work in a way they described as ‘random’ in that it is a constant living, breathing creation. It basically boils down to… following their bliss in each moment!!
An added bonus of their merrymaker career/lifestyle, is that their health improved! But they don’t advocate a ‘one approach suits all’, so whether you take a vegan, paleo, or other approach, they believe it’s more about keeping it real and simple.
And it’s not all about the food! They became aware of how our self-talk can ‘make or break us’ and so they share their mind-set tips along with their recipes and latest news. In fact, Emma and Carla are on a mission to encourage people to be kind to themselves, rather than constantly judge their bodies and obsess about counting calories.
And they haven’t boxed themselves into just the ‘wholefoods and mind-set’ genres either, they also discovered the world of Pilates and yoga and understand how these practices align with everything else they are creating. They love the mind, body and spirit connection! But they did point out they don’t have a set spiritual or religious path, they say being kind, practising yoga/Pilates and being in nature in their spare time, is what assists in remembering their true selves.
And for extra inspiration they regard visionaries like Oprah (whom they regularly listen to via her podcasts), and author Paul Coelho (whom they quote on a daily basis), as their mentors and catalysts for their creativity and growth. “If there is someone on the planet doing extraordinary things then that is inspiration that it is possible for us all to aspire to and create that,” said Emma.
So what’s next for Emma and Carla and where do they see Merrymaker Sisters in five years’ time?
“We’re not so big on five-year plans! We do however have a one-year plan! You’ll see Merrymaker Sisters reach even more international audiences, we’ll be bringing in a new aspect of Merry, that will help women overcome negative body image issues (something we’ve both personally struggled with for many, many years) so they can live their most magical life possible,” they said.
From all of us here at Holistic Bliss, our hearts go out to people who are struggling with trauma, loss, family/relationship distress this festive season and let’s lend a hand and give support where we can. And at the same time, let’s take a leaf out of Emma and Carla’s book and direct our thoughts to what we are grateful for, and what we have, rather than what we don’t have. And if it comes from a real and authentic place, let’s share joy and celebrate!! Let our laughter, smiles and expression of merry, heal in all directions this Christmas and beyond.
Emma and Carla’s Simple Festive Tips:
1. Don’t be too hard on yourself, once you make the decision to eat or drink something at a festive event, then go with it and enjoy it. Let go of the guilt! You can also at other times bring wholefood/healthier versions of things to parties. Have your healthier days as well as your festive days.
2. Practise the Mediterranean way of living: Cold pressed olive oils, fresh fruits and vegetables, basil, garlic, a glass of red wine, etc and they connect with each other socially and make food a celebration and a special event which is good for your health too.
3. You can keep moving your body through the festive season, you don’t have to stop everything.
4. Keep hydrated and increase your clean water intake during the summer season.
The Merrymaker Sisters’ Number One Bliss Tip:
“Live 100% in alignment with your values/higher purpose/heart.”