Unapologetically Her

Unapologetically Her

Inspired Read

What does it take to climb a mountain of adversity as a child, to find yourself as an adult in a place of complete devastation? Sitting with the realisation you are deeply unhappy. ..

Unapologetically Her

Words: Kirsten Macdonald

For one Australian woman,  the decision to alter her life would carry an enormity and bring challenges she could never conceive of. The outcome?  She has become the embodiment of grit, positive change and possibility.

Telia Tonkin was 38 years old, weighed 159 kgs, standing 175 cms tall. Carrying physical and emotional weight and in an unhappy marriage,  the mother to two beautiful kids realised if she did not make a change, she would die. For her, it was a straight forward action, there was no-in-between. 

 Life was about to change dramatically.

 

“As a teenager, I would walk down the street with my friends, who were all thin. People would approach and look at me first; I always told myself it was because I was the fat one.”

“I always felt different from my friends, the outsider because of this. It is interesting though isn’t it? What we believe to be true, because those friends, my best friends to this day also had their own self-beliefs and insecurities. But at the time, my feeling of alone was big. People would look at me, and I always felt it was because of my size.” 

 

The root cause of her attachment to food was forged in emotional distress, comfort eating and resentment eating. A toxic trio that would create difficulty in her life. “There were adults in my life who constantly told me I was fat and lazy, so I believed it, and ate to rebel and in spite.”

 

Fast forward years later, a successful teaching degree in her hand,  a move to Queensland and a brilliant police force job, Telia married, had children and paused.

 

“I knew that not only would I have to make a total body transformation, but a total mind change. I started to see things so much clearer, I was abundantly aware of the mistakes I had made, both physically and mentally. I had two young children, I couldn’t go on being so unhappy, pretending to the outside world that my life was fantastic, hiding my tears, dreading that car ride home from work, back to that unhappy house, which was supposed to be a home.”

“But isn’t home where you should feel safe? You should be able to express yourself without concern of the consequences? I didn’t have a home, I was in a house, I was simply treading water, and I couldn’t stand it one more minute. My children are my world. You know the oxygen mask theory? You need the mask first so you can give the kids oxygen? So I left, I packed up my two children and drove away. I rented a house near their school and started living for myself again. I became a better person and a better mother because of that decision. My energy went just into my journey to health and that flowed through to my children.”

 

The dedicated mother had always enjoyed a passion for sport from a girl, and it was this that pushed her forward.

Bootcamp training, nutrition advice and a commitment to a gruelling transformation would fuel the next path Telia took.

“I started to focus on my love for weightlifting, training for a sport like that can be brutal. Training twice a day, 6 days a week. My children embraced my love for exercise, they would ride their bikes as I ran, they would come to training with me and sit quietly in the creche. Not once did they make me feel guilty about following my passion. They were proud of their mum, they would tell everyone at school that they had the strongest Mum in the world.”

Telia lost half her body weight and started to gain her confidence and the progressive feeling of shifting from a negative mindset to a positive one. The positive was much more enticing and it paid off. 

 

The next step was competitive weight lifting. The last two years Telia returned home from the State Masters with a silver medal.

 

 

 “Some would say that winning a silver was amazing. But for me,  being second best in Queensland just wasn’t enough.” 

 

In March 2018 Telia competed in the Queensland Masters Weightlifting Championships in Milton, Brisbane.

 

The trip to Melbourne for Nationals paid off. 

 “I achieved 6 out of 6 lifts, equal personal best. But do you know the best part, I won Silver! I didn’t come second, I won Silver! There’s a massive difference let me tell you. So do you know who I am? I’m second best in Australia for my age and weight category in Masters Weightlifting! I’m number one in Queensland, I’m the strongest mum in the world (according to my children.) But most of all;  I’m happy. If people notice me now, its because of my hair, or something positive. My life is mine, no longer under the weight of so much.” The metaphor is not lost.

 

“I’d done everything right, trained hard, stuck to my diet, remained focused, I felt good. I couldn’t have done anymore more going into this meet. To be honest I don’t remember much about the day. I remember I was so focused, just took one lift at a time, didn’t think too far ahead, didn’t worry what the other lifters were doing, kept my mind clear from negative thoughts, those negative thoughts that were dragging me down for years.”

“I lifted in the snatch first, 3 out of 3 lifts, they were fantastic lifts and I was so damn proud of how I remained focused. I was equal first going into the Clean and Jerk, I knew what I had to do. When they announced that Telia Tonkin was Queensland Champion, I cried, I couldn’t control my emotions. For three long hard years I had wanted this so bad, and now it was mine! GOLD! Number one in Queensland! After I composed myself, I realised I had qualified from the National Champions in May to be held in Melbourne. I thought, you know what, I’m going to do this, bugger it! I’m going to represent my State at Nationals.” And so she did.

And you know what Ponderers? With cropped blonde hair, striking eyes and ornate tattoos, Telia is bold and edgy, funny and incredibly real.  The attractive and tenacious woman is unapologetically her. The jokes come fast, and her brave and brutal honesty screams of an authenticity that is rare these days.

So who inspires Telia Tonkin? “My children and my siblings and their partners are my scaffolding, they are my world and source of strength and love.”

“One aspect I have noticed is that many people become so insecure about their partner making change, that they seem to get some satisfaction about making you feel guilty for putting yourself first every now and then. Or people who project their own stuff on you. Some people like to keep you in one space to make themselves feel good. This still baffles me. So many women stay in unhappy situations because they are afraid of the financial implications, they are afraid of being alone, all fear based.”

“Don’t lie to yourself, and act. Because the funny thing is, when you give yourself permission to find happiness, and seek it out- you are never alone because you find the most important person- yourself.”

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Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Deborah Saunders experienced a mother’s worst nightmare when her son was killed in a tragic car accident at age 17. 

 

She recalls how the press bombarded her family, and mainstream media reported misleading articles. Everyone deserves a chance to tell their story. Here, Deborah explains in her own words how she coped with her son’s death and has healed her broken heart by looking after children.

 

The Barnardo’s Mother of the Year VIC 2019, has raised four children independently and fostered countless teenagers. She has devoted her life to providing young people with a home, a safe space and a chance for a better life. Deborah’s guiding light has saved those who have found themselves travelling down a dark and troubling path. Her home has been a place of protection and nurture. 

 

Children, entrenched in a world of drug and alcohol abuse, in an endless cycle of poverty, full of uncertainties such as when or where they will get their next meal, yearn for the love and stability that Deborah provides. The number of children dependent on this support continues to rise. 

 

The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Family Studies have shown that the number of children in care has risen in Australia by 18% from 2013 to 2017.

 

Winning Mother of the Year has in no way affected her humility. Throughout our small chat, Deborah oozed motherly compassion and a determination to help kids that need it.  

 

What would you say is your biggest passion?

 

I think the rights of young people. Definitely. The rights of dignity and respect. Some of the young people I work with don’t have housing. They’re living in poverty and experiencing drug and alcohol abuse, childhood abuse. The worst part is it just keeps going. It doesn’t get addressed. There’s no healing, so that’s my job. 

 

Has there been an experience that inspired your passion for helping foster children? 

 

I think it was my childhood. I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but it was a bit rough. I think also being a young person growing up in poverty, and then being able to reflect on actually how tough it is for these kids. I was one of the lucky ones because I had a family. Also, my kids would always bring friends home. We ended up with some staying, and these moments would help me reflect on how fortunate I was. 

 

From Dingley to Disney Magic and a Little Fish Called Nemo – Inspiring Aussie David Green

Home grown Aussie Brian Green pursued a dream, the boy from Dingley made it to the employment of Steve Jobs and is today the technical director of the world’s greatest animation company Pixar, Disney.

 

 

 

 

 

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti

Journalist

Reading The Play on the Mental Health Crisis

by Ponderings Radio

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

‘Read the Play’ is a mental health awareness and wellbeing program, specifically aimed at kids between the ages of 14 and 16. 

The program is presented at football and netball clubs and fuses fun with education. Games and jigsaw puzzles create a conversation and a safe space where kids can ask important questions.

We sat down with David Langley, chairman of ‘Read the Play’, to talk about the growing mental health crisis, how he created a movement, and what he has learnt along the way.

What is ‘Read the Play’s’ back-story?

As the community director of the Kempe Group, I wanted to change the Kempe sponsorship model and one way of doing this was to create a youth program and through the process ‘Read the Play’ was born, initially teaching kids about alcohol and illicit drugs and it was delivered by parents after an 8 training session with the first program running in 2007.

After running this model for several years, I wasn’t happy with the numbers and parents weren’t comfortable answering questions about topics surrounding mental health. Words like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia were popping up.

 

A new model/program was developed around a games night that would deliver the questions easier. We changed the philosophy to be more about mental health, and professional clinicians were engaged to deliver the program. 

 

The next year we doubled our numbers. We went from around 650 to over a thousand, and then gradually went up to 4,500 kids overall, across Victoria.

 

How successful are the results?

Deakin University is doing a two-year review program. They’ve already done one year. I can’t tell you the results but they indicate we’re making a significant difference. After the second year’s complete, we will have documented proof/evidence that we are making a difference in the communities we work in, which will allow us to present to government for funding. Even though we have great sponsors we require ongoing funding to ensure the stability and viability of the program long-term.

What makes people in business want to support something like this?

It’s for kids. Also, mental health touches 1 in 4 people; it’s everywhere we look. It’s not a hard sell. Some people don’t get it, and I can’t understand that. Mental health issues have touched my family network, maybe that’s the key to getting it. 

I get blown away at times. I get emotional because people are so good, I get angry, because of the people that would rather give money to a club to buy beer which fuels the problems ‘Read the Play’ aims to prevent.

What are the specific components you have learnt about creating a movement like this?

I didn’t realize when I started ‘Read the Play’, how big the problem of mental health was. I think that has staggered me but also been my drive. I’ve realized, we could be helping a lot more kids. So, passion is one component. 

The other is having a great group of dedicated staff and volunteers on board. 

Growth is hard to contain, so we’ve had to change our structure and work out how we can do better.

How do you envision the future of ‘Read the Play’?

‘We’re developing the program for under 17-year-olds, which will focus more on youth suicide and safe partying/driving etc. 

People in Melbourne are interested in what we’re doing and want to run it in their areas. 

Ultimately, my vision is to get to as many places possible across Australia and continue to develop a very professional program. 

I’m chuffed when I look back at the number of stories where we have helped kids. We can’t stop. We need to keep the momentum going.

There were moments during this conversation, where Mr Langley’s eyes would well up. Youth suicide rates continue to sky-rocket, and too many kids suffer from depression or anxiety. Mr Langley and his ‘Read the Play’ team are on a mission to change this. The program’s success is proof that an idea, once put into action, can become a movement that creates phenomenal change. 

 To be a part of the ‘Read the Play’ journey click the link. 

KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800
LIFELINE – 13 11 14
HEADSPACE – 1800 650 890

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How to Survive a Day in Sydney

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

by Ponderings Radio

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti

Journalist

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

My boss took my colleague and I to Sydney for the day. 

 

I should’ve been excited but was shrouded with apprehension. If you’re the type of person who shouldn’t leave the house without body armour and your belongings strapped to your chest, you will understand why.

This is how the day unfolded.

 

10:00 am: For the first 15 minutes of The Rocks Walking Tour, our Swedish tour guide discussed the First Settlers arriving in Australia without a single mention of the brutal massacre of the Indigenous people. Hmmm…

We also wanted quirky stories. We wanted to know about the man who was chopped up and shoved down a fireplace. We wanted to know about the rumours and the whispers of vulgarity and vice. Instead, we endured two hours of dry historical facts. We watched Playing Beattie Bow for crying out loud. 

12:30 pm: Pasta at The Grounds, surrounded by 1940’s décor, made up for it. We decided to hold off on dessert and wait for the highly-anticipated scones at our next stop.

2:15 pm: Sitting at the Chinese Garden of Friendship Teahouse, my heart was full, until everything began to derail. For starters, there were no scones because the Teahouse was under new management. Feeling sorry for myself, I saw Kirsten frantically searching her bag. Her notebook that held a manuscript forged over years was missing. We headed straight for The Grounds.

4:20 pm: Kirsten jumped out while Cassidy and I waited in the Uber. Suddenly, the driver pulled back onto the road and started driving off, heading for the airport. I panicked and tried to explain that we had to wait for Kirsten to return. He couldn’t do a U-turn, and we couldn’t call Kirsten because we had her phone. I called up The Grounds to warn Kirsten not to panic when she saw we had left. Once we returned, she got in the car and asked, “where did you find it?”. The woman I had spoken too at The Grounds thought I’d said we found the notebook.

5:30: Waiting for our flight at the airport, Kirsten somehow held it together. I kept her camera equipment underneath my chair.

 

6:30 pm: During the flight back to Geelong, despite the exhaustion and devastating end to the day, we delved into topics like religion, third dimensions and reincarnation. Although we had different beliefs, there was no judgement, just a mutual appreciation for the wonderful complexities of life.

 

8:00 pm: When everyone exited the plane, I realized that Kirsten’s camera equipment that I’d been carrying throughout the day was gone. Kirsten assured me it was ok, but it wasn’t. I called up the Sydney Airport lost property and was asked: “is your name, Kirsten?”. Nearly crying from relief, we staggered out of the airport.

We flew to Sydney to uncover its secrets. Along the road to finding these secrets, we were bored, disappointed, and lost things, but ultimately gained a bond more precious. A beautiful friendship was forged between a wordsmith, an actress and a journalist. I learnt that the best part of a trip isn’t the destination, but the relationships you form while you’re there, especially when shit happens, which it always does.

Perhaps the most important lesson was that you should never get too excited about scones. Missing out on those guys is a kind of disappointment no one deserves to experience.

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Follow the Breadcrumbs to Storyville…

Follow the Breadcrumbs to Storyville…

Follow the Breadcrumbs to StoryVille

by Ponderings Radio

Follow the Breadcrumbs to Storyville…

Walking down a small lane on cobblestone streets in the inner belly of Melbourne can always delight and surprise. 

Perhaps like us you find a doorway, decorated with scrolled writing promising to stay a part of you forever. Echoes of childhood mingle with joy and discovery, and you realise you are walking into something exceeding magical. You have entered the realm of Storyville, Melbourne. 

The Enid Blyton inspired tree foyer leads to the Mushroom palace, Tinkerbell’s birdcage, then on upstairs you explore to the giant library and the Chronicles of Narnia corner. This is one joint that has managed to tap into the theatrical drama of Melbourne, and the inner child is awakened fully. Transfixed? You will be!

Our host Alex welcomes us warmly, and our conversation cannot run smoothly because a grown-up- transported into childhood is an excited mess. I order a Goblet of Flames beverage, and we chat. 

With magicians on Thursday nights and drinks to match the experience, Alex tells us Storyville has been an overwhelming success.

 “Melbourne is the city that embraces a late-night culture, everyone supports putting on weird and wonderful things, they turn up.”  Alex’s personal favourite drink is Poly Potion, a Harry Potter-inspired concoction of Gin, Kiwi Fruit and Basil, a sweet and sour sensation. We spotted So long and thanks for all the fish – Tanqueray Gin, Cocci Americano, Dry Vermouth, Lemon, Grapefruit & Orange (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams 1979 – 2009) We know right? NEXT LEVEL. 

So how long did it take to build this dreamscape? 

Around a year Alex tells us, and when I ask was it difficult to NOT keep adding to it,  he nods enthusiastically. The hospitality aficionado says the launch got put back multiple times with something else to be added. The meaning of scope creep is understated. After admiring the hand-sculpted trees, we can understand why. 

With a giant clock installation on the horizon and a matching food menu, creativity knows no bounds in a place like this. What inspired Storyville? 

“A range of things, we wanted something entirely different, a venue based on multiple stories, and we are all literature fans and had lots of inspiration. We felt like other people would relate to it too. Being able to link the product to the concept, events and the smaller things like the magic shows, comedy shows and literature launches, the reactions to the experience, being able to walk into a wonderland and lose themselves- all of this.” says Alex. 

From the videos on the back of Qantas seats to the thousands taking photos of what is an Instagram dream, Storyville should most certainly be on your Go-To map of Melbourne explorations. You may want to bring breadcrumbs though, you won’t want to leave. 

Check it out for yourself here on Insta- https://www.instagram.com/storyvillemelbourne/ 

Storyville is located just off 185 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000 

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Struthless, More Than a Ruthless Cynic

Struthless, More Than a Ruthless Cynic

Struthless, More Than a Ruthless Cynic

by Ponderings Radio

Struthless, More Than a Ruthless Cynic

Sydney funny man, Struthless (real name: Campbell Walker), is entertaining his 206K followers with a clever formula. 

The 28 year old, combines art and humor with political and social commentary to create the color ‘Struthless’. Markers lend Struthless his millennial voice, and Instagram serves to spread his ideas to the world, forging an anti-racist and anti-nationalist counter-culture. He also just makes you laugh.

We spoke to Struthless about his recent series, among other really cool, fun, interesting things. You’ll just have to read to find out.

Your recent series ‘drawing cartoon characters in 9 styles’ has gained a lot of popularity. What inspired this series and what has been your favourite adaptation?

I broke my hand earlier this year, and the doctors said I couldn’t draw for six weeks. Three weeks later, I ripped the cast off and started drawing again. I was going stir crazy, like a working dog in a cage. When I could finally draw again, I just got this sudden rush of passion to really draw. I’ve always mimicked other people’s styles when I draw for fun, so I did it for a video and people seemed to enjoy watching it. My favourite adaptation is either the Maurice Sendak Pikachu, the Oni Nigel Thornberry, or the Terry Denton Po.

 

Throughout this series, you’ve been able to showcase not only your skills but your knowledge and respect for other illustrators, who has influenced you the most?

It’d be a 3-way tie between Robert Crumb, Dr Seuss and Terry Denton. The way Robert Crumb uses his lines pushes me to be better. Dr Seuss has the most iconic, unique and somehow transferable character and object design. Terry Denton has such a childlike love for chaos that I adore.

 

Was there a cartoon or comic series that inspired you to start drawing?

Definitely the works of those three illustrators, but I only started drawing very recently. I was more of a fan than a practitioner. Mad Magazine and Tintin have always been huge sources of inspiration. Also, a lot of cartoonists online inspired me.

 

A lot of your cartoons, though hilarious, have strong political or social commentary. Is your primary goal to start a conversation, or is it purely comedic?

My main goal is to articulate things people are already feeling, so they stop feeling the loneliness they’re prone to. The way I do this is usually through cynical social commentary, which I hope makes people think “thank god I’m not the only one who thinks like this.” The political stuff is different. That’s more about articulating ideas in unique and succinct ways because ideas need to be well-expressed to travel. Then there’s the more surreal stuff – my goal there is to make people happy.

 

What do you think is the biggest issue in Australian culture today?  

Damn… I’m not sure, but my first instinct is to say probably people using “job creation” to justify long term damage to the environment.

 

 

 

What would the Struthless’ starter pack’ entail? 

Dumb tattoos, a few colourful markers, and my two beautiful dogs.

You’re great at interacting with followers; how much does their feedback influence your work?

Thanks! Feedback helps me make better and more intimate stuff, and I like it for that reason. The way I see it is that I create the structure and then work with other people on what to fill the structure with. It’ll always be uniquely my work at the end of the day, but in a collaborative way that resonates with lots of people. Plus, it’s just fun. You get to make something with heaps of different ideas you wouldn’t ordinarily think of on your own. I love it.

 

So there you go; behind the satirical and often wickedly immoral depictions, is a humble man drawing to make people feel less lonely.

To join the fun and partake in the conversation, chuck struthless69 a follow. If you can’t get enough, then listen to his podcast, ‘God is Dead’, co-hosted with Bryce Mills. If you still can’t get enough, then buy a sleek and stylish product from his apparel line he makes with partner Felicity. If you still can’t get enough, no judging, obsessions can be healthy, buy a print to stick on your wall so you can look at it every night before you go to bed.

From Dingley to Disney Magic and a Little Fish Called Nemo – Inspiring Aussie David Green

Home grown Aussie Brian Green pursued a dream, the boy from Dingley made it to the employment of Steve Jobs and is today the technical director of the world’s greatest animation company Pixar, Disney.

 

 

 

 

 

From Dingley to Disney Magic and a Little Fish Called Nemo – Inspiring Aussie David Green

Home grown Aussie Brian Green pursued a dream, the boy from Dingley made it to the employment of Steve Jobs and is today the technical director of the world’s greatest animation company Pixar, Disney.

 

 

 

 

 

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