Life- A Wheelchair Won’t Stop Me

Life- A Wheelchair Won’t Stop Me

Janelle McMillan OAM is an artist and author living in Hobart, and she’s got more warmth and charm than a basketful of puppies. 

What started as a Facebook friendship around six months ago, after she messaged me about an episode she’d liked of my Home Truths podcast on PodcastOne Australia, has blossomed into a fascination on my part of “what the hell is Janelle is up to next?”

She’s just so balls-first positive; thinking about Janelle makes me kick my COVID-19 worries into the corner and get out of bed every morning with a swagger and an ability to seize the day.

Janelle has Cerebral Palsy, which means she gets from A to B in a wheelchair.

She’s one of the most vibrant people I’ve come across in a good while. Janelle is non-verbal, which means that rather than speaking, she communicates via the written word and through her art, and her voice is joyously fun, take-no-prisoners honest, and fresher than the air on the top of Cradle Mountain.

She embraces every opportunity that life throws at her and technology has provided many of them. 

Operating a computer with a joystick instead of a mouse, Janelle has done hundreds of artworks over the years, raising thousands for charities by selling her Ken Done style T-shirts, calendars and cards through Redbubble to her global fan base. 

Social media has liberated Janelle to interact with insight on the topics she’s passionate about and she tweets and messages on how to increase inclusivity and community, especially for those with or caring for people with disabilities. She has helped me to minimise the dominance of a wheelchair or other disability to see people as they really are.

Like truly creative and positive people do, she’s not just getting a load of recognition like the 2020 Order of Australia she received for fundraising, she’s also building a fan base among the students she’s visited while discussing new book Rafting, A Wheelchair Won’t Stop Us! 

Janelle wrote the children’s book after going white water rafting and then deciding to use her experience to show that people with disabilities can be included in similar adventures as able-bodied people. 

Keen for a few insights on how to remain positive, I asked Janelle a few questions:

You write that being able-bodied doesn’t necessarily mean that you are happy in life. What do you mean?

Some people are never happy with what they have in life, and some people have mental health issues. But you have a body that works fine, so what more do you want in life? Non-verbal people are no less of a person just because they have difficulties with communication, and we can offer verbal friends great support when they are going through tough times. Never underestimate what a smile or cheeky grin can do to make someone’s day.

How important is being an artist and writer to you?

It gives me a reason to stay as healthy as I can be to continue to do artwork and write. And I can help other people by fundraising through my artwork and writing. My fundraising has made me a better person because it is important to me to give back, and it has given me something else to focus on rather than myself. 

 Just to understand, how you write backwards, is that word by word, like for you the word “word” would be “drow” before you move onto the next word?

Yes, you are right. I write the whole sentence backwards. People can read my handwriting like anyone else.

Will you continue to write?

Yes, I want to publish my biography.

What is the most frustrating thing about living with a disability?

Bloody small-minded good-doers who think that they know better.

What is the most liberating thing about living with a disability?

Knowing that I can help other people to be better people by teaching them to see life differently. I couldn’t care less about what people like me or not.

What is your next goal/desire for your life?
My next goal is to go into classrooms and talk to students about non-verbal people.

How do you communicate with students face to face? 

I write out what I wanted to say. And then I get my support worker to read it out, or I con the teacher to do the reading! 


What do you tell teachers about how to include kids with varying abilities in sport? 

It would be awesome to see kids who are not as great as other kids at running being encouraged by teachers to push kids in wheelchairs on sports days. It would make all the kids feel good about themselves.

What would you like to say to people scared about self-isolating with the current COVID 19 pandemic?

I’d like them to take the time to think about people with disabilities or people with compromised immune systems whose normal life is being stuck in their homes for weeks on end because they don’t have the appropriate funding for a support worker or can’t afford to pay for taxicabs.

The feelings and limitations around self-isolation is regular life for a lot of Australians with disabilities, and it doesn’t have an end date. I ask people to be brave but to also understand they are getting just a taste of our everyday life.

And finally, what makes you happy?
I love a challenge, and I have great pleasure in proving to people that I can do things. And also, being me and making people smile.

To watch a short film on Janelle by Small World Documentaries
Click Here

Or to buy her artwork
Click here

Six Tips For Salon Hair in ISO

Six Tips For Salon Hair in ISO

Life was changed as we knew it mid-March 2020. COVID- 19 was ravaging the world and had started to encroach on our shores significantly. 

Lockdowns began, and all residents of our country started to realise the seriousness of this viral spread.

Jomara Hair Studio is a boutique salon in the Belmont suburb of Geelong. With a small team of hairstylists and a highly engaged, loyal and trusted clientele. Business surged as pubs, clubs and cafes were closed, and people thought hairdressers would be next. Two weeks of busyness as clients brought their appointments forward. 

The rollercoaster of seeing beauty therapists closed down and hairdressers to stay open but operate with a 30 minute per client restriction unravelled. Hairdressing social pages went crazy while many salons shut their doors and stood down staff. Then the heartbreak for some and relief for others as the restriction was lifted and no time limit applied to visits to the hairdresser.

Amidst this storm, my journey was unfolding as a business owner, and for once, my introvert nature held me in good stead, along with years of personal and business development.


Rather than react to what was happening all around, I observed, listened to what Mr Scott Morrison, our Prime Minister, said and did not say. Rather than be angry that the Government had not shut our industry down, I was grateful. 

I focused my attention on reviewing all our processes to make our salon the safest haven it could be in the face of such an infectious virus. We did experience a sudden decline as clients digested the new world we are currently living in. I listened to what their main concerns were and communicated how we were addressing these issues. Trust held firm, and we have been able to trade through the storm and stay well afloat. Self-doubt was alive and well every day, and my real courage was choosing to back my decisions and quiet the negative ‘monkeys’ in my mind.

We are through the intenseness of going into lockdown, many people are working from home and have more unfilled time than usual. These are perfect conditions for creating your retreat. The offerings online are endless for looking after body, mind and spirit. For those of us still working full time adapt these tips as no added pressure is needed.  

Here are my top tips for looking after your hair at this time.  

  • Take a break from using any heat appliances.

Only style your hair on the days you have video meetings or are going into work. Leave your hair be on your days off; this tip will benefit your hair more than anything else.  

  • Upgrade your haircare

With a small amount of what you would normally spend going out, you could treat yourself with professional salon haircare. A professional hairstylist can prescribe the right product for your needs. Our products are very specific rather than a broad spectrum with more concentrated and higher quality ingredients than the products at the supermarket. Many salons are providing contactless pickup and free delivery. At Jomara we use DeLorenzo Haircare the only wholly Australian made and owned professional haircare range. All following product recommendations are from the DeLorenzo range.


  • Treatments

Superfood for your hair. Treatments come in a wide range from instant leave in such as Instant Restructurant or Hair Moisturiser for those still going out to work. Pre shampoo such as Novaplex 3 or Oil Balance and post shampoo such as Protein Complex and Equilibrium. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for product use. 

  • Hot towel wrap

Take your treatment to the next level. Lightly wet a hand size towel and heat in the microwave for approx. Thirty seconds, (this will vary according to your microwave) carefully remove and check the temperature is right to wrap around your hair. The heat helps to infuse the treatment into the hair.

  • Visit your Hair Salon

Some salons have stayed open and done an excellent job creating safe and calming spaces for you to visit. Others are reopening; again doing all they can to keep everyone safe. You legally can visit your hair salon, and there are no time restrictions on your visit, so full colour and treatment services can be completed. A word of warning, at the time of writing NO beauty services, should be performed in a hair salon so please don’t ask your stylist to do lash or brow tinting or facial waxing and the like and say NO if these are offered to you. Government guidelines apply to those over 70 or those with compromised immunity. Please consider your personal circumstances when deciding whether to visit the salon.


  • Dealing with colour regrowth if visiting the salon is not an option

This is a loaded issue for professional stylists, you will discover who is ethical and who is not, and I will address this best I can. Firstly DeLorenzo colour is for professional use only and having your stylist sell you colour should not be an option.

There are terrific spray/powder/mascara stick products available at some salons, Hair House Warehouse and Priceline that cover regrowth beautifully then wash back out leaving the hair damage-free.


The taboo product ‘supermarket box colour’. 


I know some of you will go there so I will share my limited knowledge as I do not use them but on the flip side my 30 years of colour experience gives me a fair insight into how they work and how you can best use them if you must go there. Your box colour will contain one tube/bottle of tint and a bottle of developer. When you visit with an expert hair colourist, you will notice at least two bowls of colour mixed for your hair.


A stronger mix for regrowth which may need to be lightened or grey covered and a much gentler mix for ends that have already been coloured and just need a refresh. The mix in that box will be on the stronger side and should not be put through all of your hair every time you use it. I would never do that to someone’s hair! So if you must use it, go for as near your natural colour as possible and just apply it to the regrowth you can see not throughout all your hair.


Remember it will be near impossible to get a nice result if you try to go more than two levels lighter than your natural hair. Hair colour is science and art. Find an expert and leave it to them if you can.

I sincerely hope this COVID experience leaves all of us calmer, more caring about what really matters and with beautiful, healthy hair whatever that means for you xox.


About our Ponderer: Mariesa has 30 years experience in the hair & beauty industry. She finds nothing more satisfying than a great conversation blended with time for you to deeply relax, while delivering a great cut and colour helping you look & feel amazing. You can visit at https://www.jomara.com.au



About our Ponderer

Mariesa has 30 years experience in the hair & beauty industry. She finds nothing more satisfying than a great conversation blended with time for you to deeply relax, while delivering a great cut and colour helping you look & feel amazing.

You can visit at https://www.jomara.com.au

Or on Facebook: Click Here

Waiter, There’s Some Social Enterprise in My Soup

Waiter, There’s Some Social Enterprise in My Soup

Chris Burnett is not a chef, but he is very interested in soup.

The Scottish native moved to Australia and is doing a PhD in social procurement, while in his spare time leads Melbourne SOUP: a community initiative supporting grassroots change in Melbourne. Our recent ponder together at PauseFest 2020, Melbourne led to an amazing conversation about his project.

So what is Melbourne SOUP? 

From Chris-

We gather people together interested in doing good at our events. We have SOUP events every couple of months, and they are all about good causes, good food and good people.

People pay $15 for a ticket. There are four presenters at the event; these are people with ideas for early-stage projects that all have some social or environmental benefit, then after the four presentations, everyone gets a bowl of soup!

There’s a bit of live music, and everyone has a vote. You’ve got a poker chip, and you put it in one of the jars at the front to vote for one of the presenters. The presenter with the most votes goes home with the majority of the ticket money. Typically, we’re looking at around 90 tickets sold, which means about $900 for someone who is just getting off the ground with their idea or project.

SOUP is a global thing. It started in Detroit, in the states back in 2010 but it’s not connected up in any way. I ran this back home in Aberdeen in Scotland. I came to Melbourne towards the end of 2018, and SOUP hadn’t reached here. So February last year, we did our first event, and then from there, we’ve kind of just grown organically, which is cool, going from strength to strength.


In terms of my study outside of SOUP, I’ve been passionate about social enterprise since I went to Canada in 2015, I did an internship, and it was a trigger for this path.

My background is in social sciences and in terms of the PhD, impact measurement and social enterprise are my two real key passions, and the two are aligned in the project. When I saw the advertisement for the PhD, I thought it was too good to be true, and I just had to apply for it. So it was a big step, you know, committing something for the next three years, but I couldn’t be happier in Melbourne. If I were to design a PhD, it’d be pretty much this sort of thing.

Back to SOUP. Melbourne SOUP is just a complete space of people doing fun things and wanting to improve Melbourne in some way, and it’s just an open and heartwarming space, no negative or hammering home an agenda.

Something that’s come up in a few of the talks at Pause Fest this week is authenticity. It’s struck home with me in terms of the SOUP community; we have this authentic group of people that want to do some good in some way. Our team, we’ve got 12 of us, and it is all voluntary. Half the team were my mates; I roped them into helping.


They’ve loved it, and then half the team have been to a super event and then reached out and said, “How can I help?” It is organic, and I think this transmits to how people find out about us. It’s just through that word of mouth and going to these sorts of events and connecting with like minded people.

Melbourne SOUP is open to people that are starting their social enterprises; it’s open to charity; it’s open to community groups.

One presentation we’ve had that’s an interesting project to share is called Small Fires. Grace started Small Fires, and it’s essentially storybooks for kids, increasing diversity and telling stories of change-makers in other countries. So say her first book is going to be based on a girl named Lillian, she’s in Kenya, and it’s based on her childhood. The idea is about providing a narrative about people in other countries who still live a very similar life to you. 

With a tagline of ‘TEACHING EMPATHY ONE STORY AT A TIME’ you can’t help but be inspired.

Having kids here read that and see, visually, people appear different, but actually, they’re all just the same. We’re all just having the same experience. So she’s creating this enterprise to sell these books, and then the profits made from those books will be given to Lillian and her community and help support the work that she does. So multiple impacts happening at the same time.


Our plan this year is to do another four or five SOUPs and then two or three of these other events. 

Whether it’s a documentary screening, whether it’s just a pizza and beer night, we want to allow opportunities for people that come to events to meet up without that format of having to vote and having to talk about who’s presenting. Because the spotlight is very much on the presenters, so it’d be nice, especially because we’ve got 24 alumni, 24 of our people that have presented at SOUP

So we’re allowing them to come back in a space where they can mix, mix with presenters at different events, combined with attendees that maybe didn’t see them at the event they presented at. The end of last year was the first time we did that, and we hosted a screening of the documentary: 2040

For more information about the next Melbourne SOUP, go to:



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.











Have You Ever Wondered What You Would Say To Your 21 year Old Self?

Have You Ever Wondered What You Would Say To Your 21 year Old Self?

Have you ever wondered what you would say to your 21 year old self looking back on where you’ve been and what you’ve done since then?  

If you had to write a letter now, would you say you should have taken more risks or travelled more; would you suggest saving more money or living more in the moment? Well Postcards from Tomorrow is a collection of letters from 270+ amazing women to their 21 year old selves – and they are telling it like it is!

I am so excited to be part of this project and have my letter published in this collection, which is now in print. Kim Chandler McDonald, the inspirational woman behind the initiative, approached me last year, just before the Australian LGBTI awards ceremony in Sydney, to ask if I’d be interested in writing a letter for the book. I instantly fell in love with the idea; I loved that the funds raised would go to Lou’s Place.

Lou’s Place, which is celebrating 21 years of giving service, is currently the only daytime drop in centre in Sydney, for women in crisis. 

At Lou’s they can access a wide range of professional services and support, for situations that include major issues like homelessness, domestic violence, childhood experiences of abuse and neglect, mental illness and addictions. Sometimes it’s as simple as being a welcoming place where they can enjoy a warm lunch and feel safe to just ‘be’.

Having organisations like Lou’s Place, where there is someone you can reach out to, talk to and who listens is so important. Without refuges, like these where would women in crisis go?  

For all of their 21 years in operation, Lou’s has run totally on donations and one of the many reasons I’m so pleased to be part of the Postcards From Tomorrow project is that all of the proceeds are being donated to Lou’s Place, through their Marmalade Foundation, to help them keep on doing what they’re doing. 


I know you will find these letters thought provoking and inspiring. 

All of the women involved are inspirational in their own right and have the  common bond of wanting to share part of themselves with others – not only impart our thoughts but also share our knowledge and wisdom. Some of the letters are heartbreaking and some absolutely hilarious. No two are alike, but they all share a similar theme: no matter how bad it was… it gets better. This isn’t a collection of letters from victims; it’s not about surviving, it’s all about thriving. #WeGotThis.

So I implore everyone to let curiosity get the better of them and purchase this great book. At the same time as being inspired when you read this book you will also be supporting a great cause. The eBook version will be available from this weekend onwards.

Check it out on Amazon

You can also get this great book at a very special and low price as eBook version for Kindle now: eBook Version for Kindle

You can also connect with me through my website – www.melissagriffiths.com.au


Contact US


+61 0401 409 499


Story Queries: editor@ponderings.com.au

General Enquiries wordsmith@ponderings.com.au

Admin and Advertising: media@ponderings.com.au

Connection, Crisis and Corona

Connection, Crisis and Corona

Connection, Crisis and Corona

words by Fr Rod Bower

Thoughts and prayers have got a lot of bad press of late.

The term has been hijacked and used to characterise inaction when action was so desperately needed.

Appropriate action in a time of crisis is always important as the 13th-century mystic; Meister Eckhart said, “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.” Perhaps it’s also time to revisit the real value of thoughts and prayers.

We are all inextricably connected; we are all part of the ONE when you hurt, I hurt.

Prayer is the intentional consciousness of that reality, and it is powerful, more powerful than we can imagine. It can be felt. I posted something along these lines on Twitter, and one tweeter retweeted with the comment “There goes Fr Rod, even teaching atheists to pray”. I was encouraged and just a little tickled by this because I think this understanding of thoughts and prayers is available to all humanity, regardless of your belief system. 


When discussing the current COVID-19 crisis with my wife Kerry and the consequences of isolation due to social distancing, we found our way into the subject of ‘thoughts and prayers’.

Now Kerry has a very acute discerning radar when it comes to platitudes, especially when they come for either politicians or religious leaders, which constantly rescues me from making too much of an idiot out of myself.

So, when Kerry suggested that “prayer is the space between us” I recognised deep wisdom and universal truth. 

Thoughts and prayers expressed out of love, concern and compassion is the true space between us. When we embrace this consciousness, we may well be practising social distancing, and rightly so, but we will never be isolated. SO, PRAY. Hold each other in your deepest consciousness and in the Ultimate Consciousness.

Let people know that you will intentionally hold them in your heart for ten minutes (or more) every day. Light a candle for them, take a photo and send it to them, let them know they are loved.

We need to flatten the curve, to slow the spread of Coronavirus so that our health care system can cope and lives of the most vulnerable saved. So, practice social distancing, but don’t be isolated. When thoughts and prayers fill the space between, that space connects, rather than separates us.

The Venerable Rod Bower is an Australian Anglican priest and social activist and a treasured conributor to Ponderings. He is currently the Rector of Gosford, Archdeacon for Justice Ministries and Chaplaincy in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle and lives on the NSW Central Coast. Visit here- you won’t be disappointed. 

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