The Top 3 Australian Tech Whiz Chics To Watch

The Top 3 Australian Tech Whiz Chics To Watch

The Top 3 Australian Tech Whiz Chics To Watch

Words by Montanna Macdonald

You may be familiar with Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. But have we all heard about Marita Cheng, Cyan Ta’eed and Melanie Perkins? 

These three women are Aussie gals slaying the game in the tech world. With bright, innovative futures ahead of them, today we will ponder, support and celebrate these awesome chicks doing beautiful high-tech things. 

Marita Cheng 

  • Did a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at the University of Melbourne;

  • Designed a company that provided messages on phones to help manage drug prescription schedules, winning the best undergraduate business at the University of Melbourne. 

  • Partnering with fellow engineering science students, Cheng Founded Robogals in 2008 while studying. Robogals is now an international student-run organisation empowering women to study engineering, providing workshops, robotics competitions and exhibitions. Robogals is sponsored by the likes of Australia’s Department of Defence, Telstra and Modern Teaching Aids. 

  • On Forbes 2018 Worlds Top 50 Women in Tech. 

  • Founder and CEO of Aubot, the start-up robotics company, designing robots for people to log into from anywhere in the world where their robot needs to be. For example, for children with cancer who need to attend school and disabled people to attend work. 

  • Google-funded Cheng to study at Singularity University, where she Co-Founded the app Aipoly in 2016, assisting blind people by helping them recognise objects using their smartphone.  
  • Has done two TEDx talks, and so much more! 

Melanie Perkins 

  • A Perth girl, Melanie studied Communications, Psychology and Commerce at the University of Western Australia. Perkins left university to create her first company, Fusion Books. 

  • Fusion Books is an online design software made to create and print professional-quality yearbooks. This led to Perkins next big ‘Unicorn’ that would take over the world, Canva. 

  • CEO and co-founder of Canva, the online publishing tool for graphic design, saying goodbye to InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. 

  • Melanie is one of the world’s youngest CEO’s leading a tech start-up like Canva, that is valued at over two billion dollars. 

  • Melanie fought for investors in Canva, with some of the first being Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson. 

  • Canva is used by millions of people worldwide in over 150 countries, and all started with her first business, Fusion Books, in her mum’s lounge room. 

Cyan Ta’eed 

  • Creative Melbourne girl Cyan Ta’eed co-founded the tech giant Envato in 2006 with her husband at 26 years old from her parent’s garage

  • Envato is essentially an online marketplace where you can buy and sell creative digital content and designs like graphics, stock videos, music, templates website themes and more. Envato now has millions of users worldwide. 

  • Envato is the 88th most trafficked website in the world (according to Alexa), and over 48 sellers on Envato have earned over $1 million. 

  • Envato’s revenue was 16 per cent to $134 million in 2017-18, with both Cyan and her husband Collis making the fourth place in the Financial Reviews “Young Rich List”, agreeing to be on this list solely to make women entrepreneurs more visible. 

  • The “tech titan” also founded the new innovative Instagram website-building app Milkshake, and Hey Tiger, an ethical and incredibly delicious chocolate brand.  

Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

Janus-faced, we look both backwards and forwards as we reach the threshold of a new year. Remember the adage? Divided we fall.



We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Indigenous Australian Flag




The Paramedic and His Quest For a Fear Less Life

The Paramedic and His Quest For a Fear Less Life

The Paramedic and His Quest For a Fearless Life

by Ponderings Radio

by Jasmin Pedretti

by Jasmin Pedretti


The Paramedic and His Quest For a Fear Less Life

Chris Breen is a paramedic, a father and husband, and a friend to many.

He has assisted at terror attacks in Melbourne and saved lives. But one of the biggest battles he faced was the onset of anxiety and a severe panic attack disorder that lead to years of wrangling. After study, contemplation and countless hours of work, Chris has developed a new paradigm for helping others not only cope with anxiety but to lead A Fear Less Life

When did your panic first present itself? 

The first time it presented itself was when I was about 26 years old and travelling overseas.  

What is something many people might not know about fear that you could educate them about? 

Everybody’s natural response to fear generally is to fight it. They fight two things, the thought and the sensation your body produces. A lot of people don’t realise when you encourage and accept the feeling, paradoxically, it reduces the negative feedback loop of fear, because your body responds thinking there’s a continuous fear stimulant. So, most of us feel anxious and then try to fight it. This fuels the fear versus going, yep, I’ve got a bit of anxiety, I am feeling a bit stressed right now, I’m going to work with it. 

If you could say one thing to that young man on the tube in London, your younger self, what would it be? 

Don’t worry; you will find the answers. Even though I had a medical background, back then, I really wasn’t aware of what was going on. I couldn’t find the answers-  why was this happening to me? How did this happen? How could I make it stop? It was completely debilitating to put it mildly. So the short version is- I had to go on a bit of a quest to find out, investigate and test methods to help myself.

This was a mountain climb. But I was successful. Then it came to the point where I wanted to show other people how to do the same. More research and education, and more experience in psychological studies and evaluation which lead to writing about it and creating some steps. This developed into finite resources to live a life with less fear and a better quality of life, management is key. 

We hear so much about men needing to communicate more. But if you haven’t done much of this growing up and have been influenced by society to hide strong emotions – how can men start to talk more about anxiety? 

Lately, I think there’s been a big push for mental health, especially for men. Also, a lot of AFL footballers and cricketers are coming out and indicating that they have some mental health problems. Younger men and kids start to see their idols affected and I think that opens the forum of discussion to go, hang on, these superhero sportsmen aren’t well. That allows for it to be more accepted and I think we’re moving away from the whole ‘it’s just in your head’ or ‘you’re weak’. It has become more freely spoken about part of life. I think there’ll come a time when talking about how you feel authentically will become the norm.


What is your favourite healthy habit? 

Definitely boxing on Monday nights. 

Do you believe people are suffering more now, or simply talking about it more?

I think that people might be potentially suffering more now because of our current lifestyle, our diet, genetics. I believe  anxiety was often misdiagnosed previously. But I believe our lifestyle and technology may have impacted our mental health because no one shuts off. This isn’t something you can quantify right now, but many people in this field will tell you our modern world is overwhelming to our system. 

 You didn’t have any resources that related to your specific experience at the time, is this what lead to A Fear Less Life?

 Yes, because I thought if I can dig myself out of this hole and work out how to fix myself, I had a responsibility to share this template and see it help other people. When this first happened to me, there was not a lot to support you. It’s certainly improved, but there’s a long way to go. I’ve got a template that may help.

You have an Instagram account A Fear Less Life, and you speak at different events, what is your main message? 

Allow people to understand, generally from the anxiety basis, what it is, where it comes from, and what you can do about it, in a simplistic form. I do that because these were the questions I wanted answers to. I had a medical background so you might have  thought I’d have more of an understanding, but I didn’t. It’s giving people knowledge, and the power to make decisions about how they think, act and feel. 

Your favourite way to chill on weekends and why?

Go surfing in the summer. Otherwise, it’d probably be socialising with friends, or just spending time at home pottering around the house.

Tell us your perfect day?

Be associated with great, positive, healthy, happy people. Maybe start with some exercise in the morning to get my endorphins going. Eat clean. And then of course have some great coffee and then at the end have a couple of social drinks.

Who inspires you most?

I’ve got lots of people who inspire me. My mum because she never gives up and she’s got certain physical conditions and health problems that she refuses to bow down to. 

 My wife, Tanya; she’s amazing with everything she does across the board and Kirsten does with all the trials and tribulations she goes through. (insert editor- thanks Chris x)

Treehouse or Cubby-house? 

I think I’m a bit more of a dare-devil, I’d go up the tree for sure. 

A Fear Less Life is a community dedicated to educating and helping others walk in the face of fear and and manage anxiety. Chris is a key note speaker who candidly talks about his personal experience combined with his life’s work to effectively help others who are struggling with anxiety and mental health hurdles. If you’re Chris Breen and the resources aren’t out there, you create them yourself. To get in touch with Chris visit his Instagram Account

Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

Janus-faced, we look both backwards and forwards as we reach the threshold of a new year. Remember the adage? Divided we fall.



We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Indigenous Australian Flag




Interview With a Real Life Ghostbuster

Interview With a Real Life Ghostbuster

The Paramedic and his Quest for a Fear Less Life

by Olivia - Ponderings Radio

Interview With a Real Life Ghostbuster

What is paranormal activity?

It is the occurrence of inexplicable happenings. Bumps and knocks in the night, an eerie presence, a hovering vision…

The paranormal can be so spooky and quite unbelievable to many, horrifyingly real to those who have experienced the supernatural. How do we explain that which we do not understand? The unseen. To protect our sanity we try to deny it. The transparent, little girl floating down the hall is not a spirit, I imagined it. Must have been the salami I ate with the hot chilly. But here’s the thing, if enough people have these experiences, then surely it’s a subject worth pondering. Who better to ask than a Paranormal Investigator?

So many people are drawn to watching scary movies and like to go on ghost tours.

It seems people want to be scared! There are even those, the bravest of them all, that are determined to face these unseen happenings head-on. Perhaps if they walked in Bill’s shoes, they might not be quite so keen. His stories might just make them shiver and quiver. But then when the salami can’t explain it all, who you gonna call? In addition to this, how many spooky events happen that actually have straight forward answers to them? Not paranormal but in fact events caused by other explainable factors. This is where Bill comes in. 

Move over Bill Murray, Bill Tabone, is the founder of the Australian Paranormal Society. By day he is a dedicated every day human working for a local council, by night he makes contact with paranormal activity. 

Bill has explored the paranormal realm for the last 30-40 years, and is known all over the world. His passion lies in helping anyone experiencing the paranormal in their homes and educating the public through tours and lectures. 

Where is the most haunted place you’ve been?

Aradale Asylum up in Ararat. I’m lucky enough to run an investigation tour there once a month. There’s so much unstable energy there because the old ways of treating patients with psychological disorders weren’t always the kindest. There were a lot of people locked up that shouldn’t have been. Wives could be locked up for hanging out clothes on a Sunday or reading too much. Also, I believe places like that attract negative energy anyway. 

Has there ever been a moment where you’ve been scared for your life?

Oh, for sure. We’ve worked with a lot of dark entities. Not necessarily demonic, but unfortunately when a human passes, their personality doesn’t change. A person that’s nasty in life will be a nasty spirit too. There have been times where I’ve been attacked or seen people attacked from things you can’t see. I’ve had to pull people out of buildings because they’ve been hurt or made ill.

Have you ever been hurt?

I’ve been scratched and bitten, pushed; I’ve had things thrown at me. We do what we call ‘grounding and protections’, spiritual protections to protect our energy. However, one time, when there was a few of us, some were less experienced. So by protecting them, I left myself open and copped some negative energy. I was ill for 4-5 days. 

Not your average job! What do you love about it?

I say there are no experts in the field because we know so very little about the paranormal. We’re out there exploring things that you can’t see, and trying to work out ways to connect with the other side. I find it intriguing that we can have these experiences. To me, it’s just fascinating to be able to make this contact.

Not all our cases are dark, although those involved, the clients, are usually fearful but it has more to do with fearing the unknown that what’s actually there. Some cases are very positive, especially when we find leave peace for the spirit or spirits involved and also for the living. 

Many times we need to help spirits that haven’t crossed over or moved on, sometimes they are stuck, lost or confused, sometimes just stubborn, among other reasons and didn’t cross when their time came. This is very rewarding and positive work and those in spirit are usually very happy to have help. 

One example is a little girl who was stuck in an old miners cottage, I felt her come and hold my hand because apparently I looked like her dad with my beard and she felt safe, it was a gentle little girls hand holding mine but it was definitely there and was extremely cold. We were ecstatic to help her cross over.

Another is the time we helped an old lady who was stuck in her old house, we actually heard her cross and it was beautiful. We believe the sound we heard was a portal opening, the sound it made was beautiful, and when the sound stops the old lady had gone. We all get shown gratitude for helping in different ways, for example I usually feel my cheek being gently stroked right at the time they are crossing, but others experiences different things like a warm glow over their body of any number of other signs. 

Why do you think some people can see or sense ghosts, while others can’t?

I believe everyone can see to begin with. I can’t, but my partner is a very strong medium. As children, people will say “you’re talking to an imaginary friend, don’t be so stupid”. Kids shut down, so when they become adults, they shut off. I think it depends on how children are treated when it first starts.

When there is paranormal activity, what are the leading scientific indicators that there is activity going on?

Frequency and temperature are part of it. Cold spots, for example, are a sign that there’s a spirit trying to manifest, taking energy from the air. Then again, it could just be an open window. We’ll look at the temperature and work out why the temperature dropped. Is there any black noise, what are the EMF levels (Electromagnetic field), is there anything that might be causing these events that can be explained simply. Then once we’ve eliminated them, if there’s anything else that’s unusual, we can run the investigation. A variety of still and video cameras. These work in the normal light spectrum and some work in infrared, Ultraviolet, multi spectrum and full spectrum ranges. Thermal cameras, and motion sensors, there’s lots of unusual gadgets!


Do you believe humans transmit frequency, so when there is high emotion in the house, there can be disturbances generated?

Oh, 100%. Human emotions create what we call the residual haunting, where the emotion is caught up in the environment and replays sometimes. A classic example is a lady in a castle in England on the 3rd of July every year. Why? She’s doing the same thing. So, she’s not actually a spirit. She’s energy trapped in that environment, in the walls, in the rock. There’s a whole theory behind that called ‘stone tape theory’, but that’s another story. When the environment and time are right, the 3rd of July for example, then you get emotion playing back, so you’ll see the scene that created the emotion. 

What would you say to someone who doesn’t believe in the paranormal?

I never try and push my beliefs onto anyone else. On my investigations, if someone is negative, I’ll pull them aside and ask them to have an open mind. We used to run a public investigation at the Melbourne Royal Hotel. The husbands were bored, but the wives were really into it. We have machines, like modified radios, that allow the spirits to come through, and you can hear their voices. I pulled out the spirit box and just asked to hear someone’s name. It said one of the husband’s first and last name. His mouth fell open. He shook my hand afterwards and just said I’d changed his mind.

If you would like to dive deeper into the Australian Paranormal Society or buy tickets to one of their events, visit their facebook page where they have close to 96, 000 followers.  

Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

Janus-faced, we look both backwards and forwards as we reach the threshold of a new year. Remember the adage? Divided we fall.



We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Indigenous Australian Flag




Talking Transgender Truth and Trials with Melissa Griffiths

Talking Transgender Truth and Trials with Melissa Griffiths

Talking Transgender Truth and Trials with Melissa Griffiths

Words by Jasmin Pedretti

We sit down with Melissa Griffiths, transgender authority and advocate, to talk about her personal experience as a transgender person and her role in raising awareness and inclusivity in the workplace.

Talking Transgender Truth and Trials with Melissa Griffiths

by Ponderings Radio

What is your favorite thing about being a woman? 

Being a woman is who I am. My favorite thing about being a woman is that I can be myself. It’s pretty simple.

 In The Guardian, you said, “I began to believe that being treated like this is part of being a woman when it is not and should never be.” How were you treated differently as a woman? 

There’s a lack of respect. People think they can make fun of you and get away with it. They think, “she won’t mind, she’s a good sport”.

What was the most unusual part of transitioning? 

Probably some of the questions and funny looks I got. That’s probably the hardest part. I’ve been asked to access the bar through the back door instead of from the front. Like I’m an embarrassment. I get yelled at on the street.

How does this societal stigma affect you?

It’s quite hard. You’re quite vulnerable, being part of a minority group. I have moments where I need to take time out to cry. The pain I go through makes me stronger. I know that if I keep pushing on like I have been for the past three years, that it will create change and hopefully in 10 years we won’t be having these sorts of conversations.

You teach businesses about how to be inclusive and supportive of transgender people transitioning in their workplace. This is so important for social acceptance – has this been positive, negative, easy or difficult? 

It’s not an easy thing to do. We speak to management about the challenges they might face while someone transitions in the workplace and some of the issues I encountered. I think sharing these stories is a powerful way to create change as well. Also, giving people the space to ask questions, for example, what pronouns to use when referring to someone non-binary.

What has been the most inspiring success so far? 

I spoke at RMIT this year for International Women’s Day and did a TEDx talk. I can’t believe I got through it. They have the smallest stage ever, and I managed to remember my speech and get my jokes in. For me, speaking is a journey. One YouTube video I love is by Admiral Raven from 2014, where he talks about being a sugar cookie. He says, no matter how well you prepare, sometimes you’ll fail. He calls it ‘just get over being a sugar cookie’. I love it.

What is the best part of your job?

Helping people behind the scenes. When I wrote about my experience getting through anxiety and depression this year, well most of it, people commented on Facebook that they had experienced it too, and it helps to make those human connections.

Melissa is a Global Goodwill Ambassador and was a Finalist of the 2019 AUS LGBTI Awards, yet she was so humble, you wouldn’t know this.

As we ponder with Melissa, we were reminded of people who are brave and the importance of kindness. In addition to a conversation about inclusivity, it is about a person forging through and advocating for others, paving a way in a changing world. For tips for employers for a transgender person transitioning in your workplace and to find out more about Melissa you can visit and her podcast

Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

Janus-faced, we look both backwards and forwards as we reach the threshold of a new year. Remember the adage? Divided we fall.



We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Indigenous Australian Flag




Crumpets and Farting Rainbows

Crumpets and Farting Rainbows

Crumpets and Farting Rainbows

words by Kirsten Macdonald

Waxing lyrical about a majestic universe or avoiding A-Hole retrograde? You have come to the right place.


Humans of the earth I am going to cut right to the chase: where does the need for people to be un-nice come from? Truly?

Lately it feels like a-hole retrograde and social media words blowing out like radioactive solar flares – power obesity across the globe? Inequality tipping the scales in a dangerously precarious position, the children are about to fall out it seems.

When an activity puts others in dangers’ way or is harmful, interruption is necessary. The person/s guilty of said behaviour needs to be re-educated. But how? It all just a bit too much, isn’t it? Everyone in each other’s space, business and socials, criticising everything from parenting to little girls trying to save the world. We had one of those before, her name was Joan. She was burned at the stake. This one is being held high enough above the lick of flames. It took long enough though right?

Seriously- what the heck? Why should you care if so and so earns this amount, or that person’s parenting wasn’t what you envisioned it should be? Does he earn more than you and its not fair? Do you kick the footy enough with your son? Perhaps you shouldn’t have eaten that piece of chocolate? Oh Bother.

Don’t forget the pop culture and etiquette of smashed avo and saving a deposit for the thing we sleep under. Perfectionado city. According to Neil Degrassi Tyson astrochemists have gone from knowing nothing of molecules in space to finding a plethora of them practically everywhere. Anne Lorimor, an 89 year old just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, breaking a Guinness World Record. The world is an amazing place full of unexpected delights and as humans we are capable of incredible feats. Surely making a dedicated world effort to kindle compassion and authentic connection should be on the agenda?

Do you laugh too loud or my personal favourite- are you just TOO ENTHUSIASTIC or passionate? C’mon really? I’m going to own the last one. Too enthusiastic. Am I? Yup. Like a Meercat on happy pills. Unless its Sunday, then I am a sloth on Smirnoff.

I once asked my doctor many years ago if I should be on antidepressants to counteract a period of melancholy; his response while retrospectively refreshingly honest was shocking.He burst out laughing. Heartily. A robust laugh. Which is quite seriously undebatable really. Because my melancholy was real and I have fought it my whole life.

I live hard and on purpose, I smell the roses with gusto and understand calm. 

 My friends call me Polly though because I have tendencies that flow towards flipping the situation into a positive. It must get annoying. (positive polly with her perspective gymnastics) 

I am not THAT positive. I don’t fart rainbows and wax lyrical all the time. I do not. I am totally guilty of loving the hell out of the people close to me. They get frequently told how awesome I think they are, but this is the truth. It is actually why we are friends because my friend detector is honed into awesomeness. Yeah I know right?

Comedians everywhere. But have you met my friends? I may not have been blessed with both eyelids, but God made up for it with friendship. If friendships were braziers, I’d have a K cup. Let’s be real here, I need some wins. K cup friendships might not save lives or obliterate aneurysms, but they certainly create treasures worth keeping.

For the record too, just because your health might be up poo creek without a paddle doesn’t mean you are not allowed to be happy or positive. Reality can co-exist.

So why am I pondering judgy people, criticism and defending my position on the positivity aspect you ask? Well, it’s Nellie Florence’s fault. AKA my Nanna. It was her influence that instilled the ideology to treat others the way you would like to be treated. The tricky bit is, my expectations then tend to be high of other people. I really struggle when people are unfriendly or unkind. This is tricky.

For example, I would never in a million years demand that another human go and buy crumpets at 7.30 am when the aforementioned human is doing their daily business in the bathroom. That’s just not cricket. I would never judge someone for their unco-ordinated running man.I never wish bad thoughts upon anyone either, another farting rainbow Kirsten thing.

The multiplicity of our human experience makes us like salt and pepper, when we mix it all up and shake it enough it all becomes lovely shades of grey. Incapable of separation because it all becomes one. Alan Watts style. If we thought about it all a bit more objectively perhaps we could preclude non-kindness.

We are built for survival. So I am wondering why the frontal cortex hasn’t established a decent relationship with the primal cortex. Not a reality TV show one with back stabbing and undie dropping. The long termer, finish each other’s sentence kind of one with a big cupid smooch. Good old Frontal is reason, primal is function and instinct.

Ok, so let’s put those two darlings together and create the pathway that goes like this- my legs won’t move unless I am kind. Before you can eat or scratch your ear- you would have to say to the people around you :

“Have I treated you the way you would like to be treated today?”

What the response would be?

Imagine if this was a prerequisite to social discourse? Customer service would make us blush with joy. Sex lives would be magically enhanced across the world, people with disabilities celebrated, and differences rejoiced. Wars ended, world leaders high fiving each other…whale hunters weeping at the destruction on the ship’s decks, snobbery abandoned, hunger destroyed, child marriages and exploitation might no longer exist.

Would our faith in each other grow? Would the homeless be housed? The hungry fed? The unloved be loved? This is my pondering. 

When we are kind, are there strings attached?

The strings are the expectation people might do the same if the situation was reversed. Where did this expectation of others having to be nice comes from? Yup, it was a childhood mantra. Problem is these days’ people get all tangled up in their own stuff. What happens when people don’t return the favour, and you are left like a kitty up a tree, and the branch is ‘abendin? 

 ‘‘Concentrate on YOU’’ is thrown at us every day, look after yourself first. Spend more time on you and less on others is blasted across the emotional airways. Look I am all for self-nurture, but if we are THAT tied up in our own stuff are we at threat of slowly growing narcissistic? The canaries looking in the mirror, preening their feathers. Quip of the day- Want to know how a narcissist is doing? Tell them about you.

Perhaps this is all about energy maintenance, staying in our own lane only to reach out and love another when guided to. 

For we are all our own creatures on a journey in this place, are we not?

I know when we conserve our energy and pour it into focussed areas that are sourced from an intuitive truth- we can only learn and grow. We can also create healthy boundaries. This includes unnecessary crumpet purchases and saying no to the mother’s group catch up where everyone hates someone and has a serious case of twisted knickers.

My mantra- always be kind to each other, be brave and enjoy the time you have with the people close to you as best you can. I know I will be. And children of Australia; please darlings, please let your parents have some private bathroom time, when something is evacuating your body, alone time is essential.

We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

The Case of The Exploding Brain

What will it feel like? It will be like nothing you have ever felt. How will I know? Oh, you will know! It will be the worst pain you could experience in your life. You will either be dead or wish you were. Good to know. Social Skills may not have been in his...

Ponder Kindness Part Two

There is nothing I like more than meeting a person who surprises you with a character that is refreshing and far from mundane.   This interview with Fr. Rod has created a joyful series of conversations that spark the mind. The most refreshing facet of this man...

Five More Minutes

Words by Julia Lorent My mother was amazing. When you look upon her life and what she was able to achieve it truly highlights something many people forget; adversity doesn’t have to define you.  She was strong but didn’t really know it. With six children, including a...

Changing and Creating Change

Words by Melissa Griffiths We all want to change something in society; however, often we forget that we must change ourselves first.   If you look to other people in the world who have created monumental change like Gandhi, you realise that they must have had some...

Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

words by Karen Brooks It seems appropriate to raise the spectre of the decluttering dynamo, Marie Kondo – someone who inspired an unparalleled cleaning frenzy - as, Janus-faced, we look both backwards and forwards as we reach the threshold of a new year.  The truth is...

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

by Ponderings Radio | Kate O'Donnell Author Planet Spectrum

Kate O'Donnell

Kate O'Donnell

Wordsmith & Teacher

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

words by Kate O’Donnell

I would like to tell you that there are specific types of autism, but the truth is whilst with new terminology there is only one umbrella term of autism; the word Spectrum is used to describe the varied range or degrees of autism. The fact is that not one person is the same as another. Every single child with autism is different and exclusive.

There are many different shades in the spectrum.

One observation I have made over the years is the need for parents to compare their child with other children; to see how their child sits against or is doing in comparison to other children. Whilst I have no doubt that this observation and comparison has its place and seems natural, it isn’t helpful in the slightest when it comes to children on Planet Spectrum. Every one of these munchkins is absolutely unique like a fingerprint.

Sure there might be certain characteristics or traits that appear to be similar but the fact is no two personalities are the same so therefore no two ‘autisms’ are the same. Your child is like a once off work of art, each brush stroke differs, each shade is different. Life on Planet Spectrum is one of stark contrast and differences. Once you start to work out your little individual’s quirks, reactions, triggers and focuses, ‘language’ becomes easier to negotiate, understand and facilitate.

Often other people feel the need to adapt their experiences to your child, as a means of trying to emphasize or relate to you.

This may start with “I know a person with a child with autism and they do this… this is like this…” We call this the Great Comparison of Misunderstanding. But autism is not a one size fits all, and like all good misunderstandings, they can be changed.

This is actually a great opportunity for you to educate those around you. If someone opens a conversation with you that resembles the Great C of M, explain to them that in fact no two autisms are the same!

You can often get verbal feedback from people who are not educated and can be both generalised and unhelpful.

There are thousands of stories of total strangers giving negative and ignorant feedback which takes you right over to Planet Frustration and wanting to bang your head against a brick wall, maybe even have a meltdown of your very own but we will touch on that more in the later chapters.

In the case of the Great Comparison; treat it as a positive opportunity to inform and educate (if you have the energy). Not everyone has visited Planet Spectrum before, so it can be unknown territory. Some people have really great intentions that just don’t know any different. Our aim is to have everyone in the community educated, so they know all about our beautiful Planet’s inhabitants and how to treat them and care for them with respect and understanding.


We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. 

We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

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