The Frank n Al Chai Story; A Recipe for Success

The Frank n Al Chai Story; A Recipe for Success

Frank n Al Chai

Ponderings kicks off this edition with a burst of inspiration from creative humans transforming a passion and need into a thriving business. 

Beloved Ocean Grove local Kristen Carroll is one such human; her infectious and bubbly nature makes it no surprise that Frank n Al Chai has become a popular staple for those who want to be soothed and nurtured by this high-quality range of goodies. Have you tried the mulled wine kit? Your’s truly has- and there’s something uniquely next level and earthy about it, from the packaging to the flavour. It’s a soul pleaser. We pondered with Kristen, and her insights will leave you smiling. 

 

What are the origins of Frank n Al Chai?

Frank n Al Chai was born from a need to find something to replace coffee. I was on a meditation retreat with no coffee and woke with a headache I couldn’t get rid of on the second day. I didn’t realise till this point that it had such control over my body, so I set about trying to find a nice chai to replace my morning coffee. There are many great Chai’s out there, but many were too sweet or not strong enough for me or had caffeine in the tea used or weren’t organic, so I set about making my own.


What are some of the unexpected aspects in starting your business?

 

The most unexpected thing to happen when I started was Covid. It literally hit our shores as I started my business.

 

I was building a business as a yoga and meditation teacher at the time, so I had to put this to one side for a while. Looking back, I’m not sure I would have taken the business to where it is now if the pandemic didn’t happen.

 

A pleasant surprise was the open arms of the local small business community down the coast. Everyone was doing it pretty hard but still took time to give both myself and my product a go.

 

Your Products are raved about, what is it like to get success from something you have created?

So humbling…. I am pinching myself…people are authentic. When they taste Frank N Al Chai at markets, you can instantly tell if someone is into it or not, and people just take a sip and say Mmmmm, that’s beautiful. 

People contact me to tell me how much they love Frank n Al Chai. They send me pics and rave to their friends and family, who then come and rave to me at markets!! It’s the best!

 

Lanas Garden Ponderings

Did you ever have someone you looked up to in your childhood that might have influenced your ability to be so adaptive?

Growing up, I was a bit of a square peg and didn’t know who I was or what I was ‘supposed ‘to do.

My grandfather loved me for who I was, and I loved being with him. He was the guy who could make anything he needed out of what he had. He once made me a skateboard from some old roller skates and a plank of wood fashioned into a deck. We painted it white with an electrical tape stripe down the middle…to make it go faster!

He instilled in me the value of fun and giving things a go.

What was your background before Frank?

I have had a very interesting journey through my pursuit to find out why I am here. I worked in hospitality when I was younger, at music venues, so it was my work and my social life. I met my husband, Ricky, there too, so it worked out to be much more than a job. I also loved talking to people about their lives…people are so interesting. 

I also worked in a company called Avant Card for over 20 years! The free postcard company no longer exists, but I am great mates with the owner Pat, who always kept the planet in mind when she ran that company. She is a total girl boss!

I was a distribution manager for Victoria and learnt a lot about what people resonated with (marketing!) This helped me out heaps with my decision for packaging and how I wanted to present my product.

I was always drawn to meditation throughout my life. And in 2018, I completed a diploma in meditation and mindfulness. This formal study helped me realise that it wasn’t about the destination. It helped me to realise that I was on the right path and had always been and to continue living in the now and to just be

I put one of my beautiful meditations into each pack of Chai to help make the chai drinking experience that much more enjoyable.

What advice would you give to other people thinking of starting a business?

Running my own product-based business has given me a great sense of self-worth. I created this from a need I had and made it the best possible product. In addition, I made sure my product had a minimal harmful impact by using compostable packaging and only sourced the best possible organic ingredients.

I love this world I live in and only want to live as harmoniously as possible with it. However, it’s not all bottom line with me. When creating a product or service, it’s not hard to be mindful of the planet and all that inhabit it. Try not to be fooled by a plastic bag with a green leaf on it and the word ‘recyclable’. There is 4 times as much plastic used to make one ‘recyclable’ bag instead of the single-use degradable bags of the past. 

My supplier of compostable packaging said that people have never been buying more of these plastic bags, which makes me sad. The choice is easy, just don’t. There are other less harmful options. Most people bring their own bags to shop these days anyway.

If I was to give advice to someone wanting to start their own business, I would want them to make sure they were value-adding to the community in which they live. But, again, it’s about the trade you make. You get paid money to provide people with something that should equal or exceed that value, which will enrich people’s lives…no gimmicks… it’s such a great feeling.

Cubbyhouse or treehouse?

Definitely, treehouse, as it gives you so much more! (as long as you are not harming the tree, of course!)

You can climb up into it; you get a different perspective from ground level. It has an element of danger which is exciting. You can have a rope to swing on or a slide to make a quick exit. You have beautiful greenery all around you, be one with the birds…so much fun just thinking about it.

Check out Frank’n Al Chai on Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/franknal_chai

And the website  https://franknalchai.bigcartel.com/

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Business with Heart – A Relishing Success

Business with Heart – A Relishing Success

Lana's Garden

Is there anything more comforting than a Grandparent’s recipe? Traditional homestyle tucker made with love translates into soul food. You have a combo destined for success when you combine this with business. There is authenticity behind every great heart-filled business, a story resonating with people, beyond the buck and into the feels. 

The “Rhubarb Lady” of the South-West, Lana Campbell, optimises this with gusto. Lana’s Garden was founded on a passion for home-grown goodness that has flourished from relish, jam, and coulis to gift packs and even a tea towel range. The website has a treasure trove of scrumptious recipes to try your hand at. Did we mention the limited edition tote bag? 

We pondered with her on the story of Lana’s Garden. 

How did Lanas start? What was your inspiration?

My inspiration was family! Lana’s Garden was born from necessity and being able to spend time with my growing children.

 

What are some of the unexpected things that happened when you started?

Starting Lana’s Garden was a huge learning curve! At the start, there were mishaps such as ordering jars for my product that then had to find their way down a corrugated, country road to my house – there were a few broken jars along the way!

 

There were so many good, unexpected things like extended family and community support. I remember the first market we went to, Scott’s Creek market. My daughter Zoe and I set out for the day – we didn’t have a gazebo, only our product and a table. We started with 150 jars to sell, and WE SOLD OUT! I was very unsure and felt very vulnerable, but that was an exciting and unexpected way to start my business.

 

Everyone loves your beautiful products so much! What is it like to achieve success from your creations?

I am really passionate about this brand and what we have built. Because Lana’s Garden is based on my Grandmother’s Rhubarb Relish recipe, I have that will or want to succeed because I feel as though I’m representing my family.

 My uncle told everybody, ‘this is my mum’s recipe’. It made me feel so proud to represent my family like that, and it gave me a huge amount of satisfaction. One of the biggest things that I am proud of is that it is not something that I have taken over but something that I have created and built upon.

 

Did you ever have someone you looked up to in your childhood that might have influenced your ability to be so adaptive?

 

My dad. Even though I was raised in a traditional household, my dad instilled the sense to ‘give it a crack. He had me out fencing and fishing and all those sorts of things. Also, my Grandparents and people of the older generations – I saw my Grandparents being thrifty and sustainable, making amazing things out of what they had. It always comes back to family – they were all adaptable.

 

Both my Grandmothers and my mother did what needed to be done to keep the family ticking over. One Grandmother went off to the ammunitions factory, and the other worked in the telephone exchange – Pretty impressive on both accounts.

 

Mum was raised on a dairy farm, worked in retail, went back to the dairy farm, and found another job again – just watching my mum doing what needed to be done definitely inspired me to be adaptable in all aspects of my life.

 

 

Lanas Garden Ponderings

What was your background before Lanas Garden?

I had a hospitality and sales background – which was the perfect storm for what I’m doing now!

I started with a cooking apprenticeship at the local Hotel Warrnambool and the iconic Lady Bay Hotel. Then, after leaving hospitality to start a family, I worked for Tim and Caroline at Timboon Fine Icecream. I learned so much from working with them. This was my first experience working with a quality, family-run artisan food business.

 

Has anyone supported you in a special way you would like to mention?

I would like to shout out to all of the amazing women who have been a part of Lana’s Garden over the years – we would not be where we are without them.

 

What advice would you give to other people thinking of starting a business? 

Be prepared for a lot of challenges! But, like most challenges, ‘tackle it like you’re eating an elephant…one bite at a time.’

 

Go for it but make sure that you are in it for the right reasons – at the end of the day, having a passion for what you are creating keeps you going. It’s a lot of hard work, and if money is the only reason you are in it, you may as well go and work for someone else.

 

Cubbyhouse or treehouse? 

Definitely a treehouse!

Why? Because I feel like your view is unencumbered. You can see the landscape and dream big! I love a good treehouse.

Lana’s products are handmade in Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia; they are gluten-free and vegan and do not contain artificial colours, artificial flavours or artificial preservatives. Our team tasted a delicious selection, and we particularly loved the Rhubarb and Fig Jam. To check out more of her Australian Made goodness, go to https://www.lanasgarden.com and don’t forget to check out her Insta page- full of inspo. 

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Miss Universe Dr Olivia Wells Says You Can Take 15 Minutes a Day to Reframe Your Mindset

Miss Universe Dr Olivia Wells Says You Can Take 15 Minutes a Day to Reframe Your Mindset

We all have those days where we feel like life is getting the best of us, especially in a world where a pandemic monopolises our lives. You might be feeling more stressed than usual, or maybe you’re just not sleeping well at night. Sometimes it can seem impossible to find time to do anything for yourself, let alone take care of your mental health and physical wellbeing. But don’t worry – there’s help! Meet our very own Miss Universe titleholder and pediatric registrar, Dr Olivia Wells! 

 

Dr Olivia Wells is a Paediatric Registrar at the Royal Children’s Hospital. She has dedicated her life to helping children in groundbreaking medicine, along with an inspiring history of philanthropy in underprivileged countries. Her dedication also includes being an ambassador for many organisations, including Connor’s Run https://www.connorsrun.com/the-run. In 2013 she was the first Victorian woman to be crowned Miss Universe Australia and represent in Moscow. 

 

We ponder! 

 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

How did the process of Miss Universe help you to gain skills for what you do today?

 

In my year as Miss Universe, I had the opportunity to undertake charity work, and instead of doing just Instagram, Snaps, and you know, attending balls, I spend several with a group called Operation Smile doing overseas aid work in cleft lip and palate repairs in children in developing nations. As a result, I met a number of surgeons who became mentors and had an opportunity to develop my skillset with kids; this led to going into paediatric medicine. This also opened the way to doing other charity work within the healthcare field.

 

I guess that’s what I decided to get out of my year! I knew I didn’t want to be a TV presenter, and I didn’t want to be a model, and I didn’t want to be an influencer. But I was already in medical school, and I did want to be a doctor. 

 

Connor’s Run influence on your medical career?

 

I was already in medical school when I started working with Connor’s Run. I wanted to be a doctor well before then. I got involved with Connor’s Run and met one of my new mentors, Dr Jordan Hansford, a Paediatric Oncologist at RCH, and he was Connor’s Oncologist. Knowing that I wanted to get into paediatrics, part of doing that is doing research. So I pestered poor Jordan until he took me on. In the end, he said, yes, I’ve got a project, you can come in and work on this massive Excel spreadsheet ( I think it still gives me nightmares), and we’ll see how you go.

 

This grew into a great working relationship where I’ve been researching with Jordan as part of his team for years now. I fell in love specifically with paediatric Oncology and particularly Neuro-oncology or brain tumours. 

 

I have seen first-hand a lot of unsung heroes in groundbreaking medicine, people that dedicated a whole lot of life, years into this extraordinary work. Helping children live by the hour in some cases!

 

Well, that’s why I do it as well because I’m blown away by the work. Oncology; is this incredible space at the cutting edge of medical research, and every day, every week and every year, there’s something new coming out that gives hope. You’re also in a space where you can provide care and compassion to families in their greatest time of need and walk with someone on a journey that no one should ever have to walk on. So to be able to say that I’m here for you, to support you, and provide kindness, compassion, and dignity on this journey is humbling. 

 

With this workload and dedication, you use your social platform to encourage balance and healthy living. I am told you have a really interesting take on 15 minutes a day, can you tell us about it? 

 

At the moment I’m studying for a paediatric exam. This exam is my last big exam in my training period, and it’s the biggest scary one, the scariest one that I’ll ever sit. So my routine in the morning means I get up at 5:00 – 5:30 AM, I do an hour to an hour and a half of study, and then I try and do something active for just a little while. And then I go to work.

Some days I managed to get out for like a 15 or 20-minute run. And that’s great. Some days I’m exhausted, and I just think, you know what? Today I’m just going to congratulate myself for getting up and having done some extra study and doing this. Some days I have a day off, and I feel really good, and I’ll say, all right, I’ll go out and run 10K today because I just feel like it, and I enjoy it. And so, for me, it’s been actually really difficult to sort of have that compassion and hold the compassion for myself in not being amazing at everything.

 

I used to be a competitive swimmer. I was in state and national competitions. I’m very used to being quite athletic and fit, and this year, my physical fitness has taken a backseat to work and study-related things. That’s been hard to reconcile within myself. But I focused in September in the Connor’s Run Your Way Any Day is that something little for myself every day, even if it wasn’t what I would have previously expected to be amazing or something to toot my horn about on social media is still a pretty bloody good job, especially in a pandemic.

 

The positive affirmation is wonderful, and embracing the I WILL 

affirmation is powerful, like Connor did during his yoga therapy class. His was ‘I WILL be Awesome’ – yours can be anything.

 

What would be some of the ways that you’ve changed your self talk? Can you give an example?

 

I started journaling a lot; I try and sit down and write as much as I can. I reflect on something I did well that day, why I did it well and what skills this showed. So I might say, for instance, one day I did a great faster run than usual, but I did that well because I had looked after myself by eating well the day before and using positive self-talk on my run. Or it might be that I had a special interaction with a colleague at work or with a patient. Or I could actively listen to someone to take on board their feedback or their concerns or whatever it may be. I’ve found it’s been really helpful. It’s one thing to ask what am I grateful for or what am I good at? But to take that next step and ask, what is it about me that allows me to be good at this? And recognise that. This also brings these aspects to the front of your mind, and you can continue working on them as well.

 

It became like a self-fulfilling prophecy where I was mindful of how kind or dedicated or how well I communicated. Being mindful of that one day means that the next day I can employ these skills. I can build on them.

 

What’s something about being Miss Universe that our readers might not know about? 

 

Oh, that’s a hard one. I think there are so many things. I mean, firstly, it’s not as glamorous as what people may believe! The number of times I had to do a clothing change with the towel around me or in the car because I was trying to get from event to event. And of course, you can’t wear the same thing at two events. It’s a bit ridiculous. So now you see, she’s wearing the same track pants now for days in a row! 

 

What’s something our readers might not know about being a paediatrician? 

 

Bubbles are your best friend! Kid crying, bubbles. Suppose the child doesn’t want to be touched to examine -bubbles! Kids getting a drip put in? Bubbles. Just because you can- bubbles! I carried a bubble wand like a stethoscope! 

 

It’s changed with COVID, of course. So I’ve had to resort to stickers and like single-use things. But pre COVID when it was not a faux pas just to blow your secretions bubbles were the best thing ever.

 

Would you choose a tree house or a cubby house?

 

Treehouse.

 

Parting pondering?

This period is really difficult for all of us. And I think the one really important thing is that we have kindness and compassion for ourselves and others. And once you can start being kind and compassionate to yourself, you can start bringing that forward to others.

 

About Connors Run: 

 

Connor’s Run is the brainchild of the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation. 

This year Connor’s Run has raised over 2 million dollars for Children’s Brain Cancer. 

 

In September 2011, 17-year-old Robert Connor Dawes ran from his home in Sandringham to the boatsheds on the Yarra. He’d started his training for the upcoming rowing season early, as he wanted to make the Brighton Grammar 1st VIII. Not loving running, he did the 18.8 km because he was determined to be the best he could be. Little did he know that there was more than fierce determination in his head: there was also a tumour growing. Connor had unknowingly begun his battle.

 

Two months later, Connor was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma. Major surgery resulted in the loss of movement to his right side, impaired vision and severe short term memory loss. His body was broken, but his mind was not. He was determined to improve and spent hours each day on his physical and mental rehabilitation. The intense radiation and later chemotherapy followed. But throughout all this, Connor never stopped smiling. He stayed positive, philosophical and true to his mantra: “I will be awesome”.

 

For 16 months, Connor’s brilliant mind, strong body and gentle soul faced off against an ependymoma. Like many others, his brains and brawn gave it all to fight against the poor odds. But on April 20, 2013, Connor’s own battle ended. 

 

Inspired by his spirit of Aeternum Fortis, the RCD Foundation was created as a tribute to him and other brain tumour fighters.

 

Over the past eight years, Connor’s Run has evolved into Australia’s biggest event for paediatric brain cancer, with thousands of young runners now participating in the event. Many come back year after year, each time generating more funds raised and more attention for the #1 cancer killer in young Australians.

 

You can donate any time and get involved -see the below links for info: 

 

https://rcdfoundation.org

https://www.connorsrun.com/the-run

 

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Hour of Power For Women’s Health Thanks To Innovative Doctor

Hour of Power For Women’s Health Thanks To Innovative Doctor

A new Medical Clinic launching this month will be a breath of fresh air for women. It could not come at a better time as our country battles the current health stumbling blocks of COVID. 

The initiative, delivered by Australian Skin Face Body is headed by Dr Renuka Balasubramaniam. The holistic approach this female-focused provider offers is radically different from the health standard, with consultations lasting a full hour as opposed to just minutes and health plans being created based on individual needs instead of generalized categories. 

12.8 million women in Australia make up just over 50 percent of the Australian population and almost half the Australian workforce. Based on the Australian Health Survey, -only 1 in 4 (26%)women had spoken to their GP about their emotional and psychological health. The National Health Survey shows that 1 in 2 Australian females have one or more of the ten selected common chronic conditions. A disturbing presentation of information. These chronic conditions including arthritis, asthma, back problems, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart, stroke and vascular disease, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis and mental health conditions.

Over the years in general practice, Dr Balasubramaniam found that she attracted female patients and this focussed on everything from internal medicine, mental health to hormone disruptions encompassing all phases of life. The common theme ushered in the genius idea for a women-focused clinic with an extended time frame. 

“So often, time constraints, or interruptions, and general practice appointments prohibits women the space needed to discuss at length medical things perhaps they may feel embarrassed about. We want to help them hold their ground without being interrupted, be open about what is bothering them without being judged. We look at all facets, and then we make a management plan and activate this right away. We look at day-to-day living, lifestyle, work, personal life, relationships, holistically means covering all different aspects; including primary medical care. Integrating treatment is important, so there is a seamless approach to healthcare,” says Renuka. 

 

There is no time wasting either! “There’s a lot of homework; when women make an appointment, our team will email them through a thorough questionnaire. This is because I want these appointments to be targeted, not wasting time. I want to get that historical health picture to really hone in and develop some areas for targeting and management, and utilize the amazing up to date tech facilities at ASFB to meet health care needs and goals,” says the passionate physician. 

So what happens in this hour of power? 

Dr Balasubramaniam explains; 

“There is intensive health goal mapping. Why are they coming to see me? What needs to be done, what has been done in the past? For many women, they may have had a health concern and have not been happy with the management plan in place, or perhaps it was not resolved, or they have sat on a problem and not had expectations met, or perhaps they have had a negative experience.” 

I love every component of medicine; during my time in my degree, I moved around a lot, met many patients, and worked with some wonderful colleagues. Whilst I know not all health concerns can be fixed immediately, I really enjoy helping women, and it’s fulfilling to see them again and hear about their improvements. Empowering women back into good health and practice is important to me. 

 

“We work as a team to reach a common goal. But, ultimately, they are the boss; I am working for them to help them achieve better quality and healthier lifestyle. They need to take control of their health. I am there to help them do this!” 

How do I make an appointment?

The women’s health clinic is a private service, the reception team at ASFB can provide fee information upon booking your initial appointment or making an enquiry. Medicare rebates are available.

No referral is necessary to see Dr Renuka.

You can book a Women’s Health and Wellbeing session with Dr Renuka by calling 1300 502 732

References and further reading:

https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/latest-release#data-downloads

 

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health/contents/how-healthy/chronic-conditions

 

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health/contents/how-does-the-health-of-females-and-males-compare

 

https://consultations.health.gov.au/population-health-and-sport-division-1/establishing-a-national-womens-health-strategy/supporting_documents/Evidence%20ReviewThe%20current%20state%20of%20womens%20health.pdf

 

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The Story of a Woman’s Journey to Business Success and a Little Girl Called Zoey

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The Story of a Woman’s Journey to Business Success and a Little Girl Called Zoey

The Story of a Woman’s Journey to Business Success and a Little Girl Called Zoey

 Tw:/ warning; this article contains information and recollections of infant death, neonatal illness and readers discretion is advised.

 

Dominique Ho, or Dom as she is affectionately known, gets stopped several times by people when I meet her at Ocean Grove beach for a walk and a chat. 

First, each person recognizes her and her beautiful dog, then their faces light up like the Geelong Christmas tree. Next, there is a mention from an approaching runner about her work for the local business group. Finally, a few school mums sporting grins stop to say hi, and this is when you get the vibe that the company you are keeping this day might be a little bit exceptional. 

The digital media go-to has a contagious, vibrant energy and humour, but a discerning eye soon senses a steeliness and resilience beneath her subtle confidence. For Dom and her husband Greg, it’s a no-brainer; family life must always come first; ideology isn’t waxing lyrical; it’s scaffolded quite seriously. Their business, Viewpoint Digital Media, works around the team. But where does this idea stem from? Dom tells me it is all because of Zoey. 

This successful businesswoman has a story, a precious gem she has kept close to her chest. Finally, after many years she is brave enough to share it with us. 

 

So talk to me about Zoey. 

Greg and I had our first baby Zoey when I was 25. I knew something wasn’t quite right during the pregnancy. I had dreams, and I felt quite intuitive. I just knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t show anybody. 

I had my scans early on as a normal procedure, the doctors said everything looked fine and the baby looked well. But after 20 weeks or so, I knew something was not right, but I couldn’t prove it. So, I just rode it out and thought it was just my fear. 

When I was ten days overdue, I delivered her and nobody was home. She was blue all over with black eyes. Being my first, it was an extremely painful delivery, as I’m sure many women experience. Zoey was rushed to emergency and I had no idea what was going on because I was so high on whatever the nurses gave me for the pain. 

Zoey, the doctors and Greg rushed off to the postnatal intensive care ward where they tried to stabilize her. Dad rushed in to come to be with me. The nurses helped me express my milk so Zoey had something. I had an epidural, so my legs weren’t moving. We learnt Zoey was going to the Children’s Hospital as she needed more care. My Dad said, come on, you’ve got to work your legs out. 

I had to be with my baby. We made our way to the Royal Children’s. We stayed there for basically four weeks, and the nurses cared for me because of complications with my blood type. Around the third week, Zoey seemed to be stabilizing. 

I can’t even begin to imagine the layer of hormones, grief, hope, limbo, all wrapped up in an intense parcel of suffering. It must have been so mentally and emotionally tasking.

Greg and I didn’t particularly feel like we were going downhill mentally. We were crying every day but more so because of the sadness of what Zoey was going through. But then I felt myself going downhill and realized that it brought me down when I was around other parents talking about their sick children. Finally, it got to the point where she was doing well, and we started to remove a lot of the medication because she didn’t have any food at all. So, I was expressing my milk, I had milk for days, and I wish someone had educated me on donating my milk because I had an enormous amount. 

I filled up their fridge to the brim. What am I meant to do with that all if my baby doesn’t need it all? I was bummed to see my milk go into the bin after all of that! Zoey started waking up, and she could hear me, and she was reacting! I talked  to her and read her stories. She slowly sort of opened her eyes, and she saw me, and she saw Greg. So we didn’t leave her side. Greg and I read her Alice in Wonderland. And it was sort of, we’d always, I guess, pictured Zoey going down the rabbit hole. We thought she got lost down the rabbit hole. We were 25-year-old kids; I remember thinking, “I don’t know what to do with this.” It was incredibly intense. 

 

Did you have much support around you?

I didn’t realize the emotional effect or know how intense this was on everybody else. I didn’t even have my phone. I didn’t have my phone for four weeks. 

Both our parents were there, and my Mum was good at reading me. We are very close. She was there when I needed her, and she was not there when I didn’t. She actually kept everything going in the background. She kept all of our friends and family up to date. Our parents were very supportive. We didn’t want to cut our loved ones off, but Zoey needed us, and we became quite protective of our time and shut out the outside world. 

 

How did you and Greg cope together? You are a dynamic team, but this must have held incredible weight. 

 

Greg and I have always been close, always been on the same page and best of friends. We just grew even stronger together; we only had each other. At the time, Dr Wood, Zoey’s specialist, said it’s not often that he came across a stronger couple after this. He said he saw so many couples pull apart. It’s very sad. But Greg and I were solid, and we’ve been solid since. 

Did you have a strong feeling? I find sometimes it is hard for people to voice intuition because there can be judgement from others. Or the ‘woo-woo’ perception, rather than the truth of it- instincts are kicking in! 

Greg was probably a bit more optimistic about her recovery than I was.

But, for a long time, I already knew that I wasn’t going to keep her and I think it was because instinctively, as I said earlier, I already knew that something was wrong, but I couldn’t prove it. I couldn’t visualise her in our life.

Zoey was four weeks old. She gave it everything. The doctor, when she initially got into the hospital, said, you know, she’s got a 10% chance of surviving the next couple of days. So knowing this information and having no idea of what’s going to happen, she’s made it to four weeks. It was the bloody longest four weeks. But during the third week, something changed…Dr Wood told us, we’ve got to make a decision. She’s not getting any better. She’s got a third of her lungs. She’s got pulmonary hypertension. 

 

She’s hit rock bottom. She can’t keep going. 

 

We thought this is not fair. Greg and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life support so she wasn’t suffering anymore. 

We held her in the room that we were staying in; we had her in a little yellow dress. 

What’s your fondest memory of Zoey? 

Her waking up. Her waking up, we were pretty excited that she saw us. 

What would you like people to know about Zoey and your experience?

What was more important than this grief is that Greg and I were so happy, appreciative and grateful that we had her; I carried her and then we were able to experience all of this regardless of how sad it is. 

There are people out there who can’t become pregnant, there are people out there who cannot conceive. There are people out there who don’t find husbands that love them as much as Greg loves me. I’m grateful for everything and the experience of Zoey. The fact that we met Zoey, and I was able to produce all that milk. I felt Zoey kicking, and I had those, you know, connections with her. Some people never get to have that. Even when they miscarry, they don’t have that the same way. I got to talk to her. We read her stories. We changed her nappy; we were able to wipe her and dress her. We got to say goodbye which gave both Greg and I so much closure.

The medical staff on the Butterfly Ward are beautiful. They opened their hearts, and I would imagine that that would be so hard for them in so many situations. We are so grateful for what the doctors and nurses did around the clock. We got to know them. I also wondered how emotionally tasking our situation was for the nurses and what they were taking home with them. After Zoey, we decided that everything we did would be forged with the intention of being of service and benefiting others. You always have a choice in life and we wanted to contribute to the community.

I look at how you protected that space around you, Greg and Zoey, and how you had the discipline to know ‘I’m not having my phone,’ that this needed to be what it was. You sound incredibly present, even in knowing and trusting your dreams. That takes real ownership and authenticity of self which is uncommon at such a young age. I can see now how that translates into everything that you do. Where did that all come from? 

My Mum worked her ass off to help me understand my feelings at a very early age because I was a handful. I always wanted more. I wanted more of everything. I wanted more of a laugh, more adventure, more fun, more learning. I didn’t have time for school. I hated school. I was like, this is going too slow for me. I was bored. I was misbehaving. I was sent to the office. I got detention all the time for talking and being disruptive. My Mum helped me work through these feelings; she would get judged! Nobody understood the way she parented me. She was indulging me too much, according to some (she laughs heartily). But, she taught me to understand myself and my surroundings, to better read people and my situation. My Dad taught me to have thick skin and not worry about what others are doing or what they think of me which has helped me alot through my career.

I wasn’t really accepted in High School, and I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was headstrong, and I decided I was wasting my time. So I told my parents I’m leaving. They said, okay, well, what are you going to do? You can’t leave unless you go to do something. I said okay. 

My Dad mentioned my love for cooking; what about becoming a chef? 

Done, I’ll be a chef. Sure thing, no worries. 

I went and got myself an apprenticeship. My Dad loved ironing my chef uniform and popping in my little buttons. I worked weird hospitality hours every day when I was 16 years old. Everyone else was doing school, and I was working. I didn’t go to parties. I worked early, and I worked late, and I worked all the bloody time.  

The connections that you have to have to dance around the kitchen are big, right? So it’s not for the faint of heart! 

It was a dance, and it’s a beautiful dance. It’s a fucking hectic dance! 

I completed my apprenticeship which took me through to meeting Greg in Melbourne. He was the general manager at a bar two doors down from me where I would enjoy my well deserved knock off drink.

You were quite successful at a young age, too, right? But this was interrupted?

I guess you could say that. I had a lot of learning opportunities which put me in a good position to help open up a new restaurant for somebody in Toorak with a team. I was 19 or 20 at the time. Then, only a couple of months after opening, Greg and I were in a car accident.  My passenger seat detached; it was pretty bad; it was all over red rover. I had a back brace and couldn’t work. The impact twisted my insides; everything was stuffed. I could barely walk for a long time. So again, I was faced with a choice, I had a choice to either moan and groan and sit around or get up and do something about it. So I had to rethink my career, so I went and got my teaching qualification, and I became a commercial cookery teacher. 

I did this for maybe 8 years, I then took a side step and worked in automotive for a few years as the international market for students coming to Australia to do commercial cookery dried up a bit. It was here that we were fortunate enough to fall pregnant with Zoey.

 

Dominique Ho Ponderings Magazine

So how did you become a digital media expert? 

Both my parents are entrepreneurial. They both had successful businesses for a long time, and they’re both very creative but so different. My family, including my brother, share that motivation, determination, and hard-working ethic. We’re all creators.  

Dominique’s father, Peter Lamont, is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer and the creator of the Australian TV show InsideArt. 

After Zoey’s passing, I was miserable. Ii didn’t want to go back to my job at the automotive place as I feared people would pity me. My Mum and Dad checked in every day if not every hour to see how I was coping. Dad always said to just focus on making it through the next hour. When that hour is up, focus on the next hour. After about a week or so, Dad asked me to come in to work with him so I wasn’t home alone all day as Greg went back to work. Greg and I had several weeks off work by this stage.

I started there a couple of days just doing bits and pieces to keep me busy. My brother was there along with my cousin. I felt safe there with my family. It was just what I needed. Then after a few weeks I became really interested in Google Ads and it got into my veins, and I just kept learning more and more.

Not long after working with Dad, I fell pregnant with Aaliya. We spent the next 2 years in Melbourne before making the sea change to Ocean Grove. 

Greg began working for Barwon Health, telling people’s stories through incredible Video and Photography. He’s a visual storyteller, and he has travelled the world with his videography; he’s also a musician. Greg actually learnt his videography and photography skills from Dad. But that’s another story in itself. 

 

You then had another tragedy, didn’t you?

After we had Aaliya, and before moving to Ocean Grove we tried for another baby. I  already had some dreams from Zoey to tell me that this wasn’t going to work. Sounds like a bit of that woo woo, right? 

Zoey said to me in the dream, Aaliya will be perfect, but the next baby won’t be. Our next baby didn’t make it. She was 17 weeks old. 

She had a whole lot of other issues completely different to Zoey; I had all the tests, no answers. I wanted to try again, about a year later but after seeing a specialist, they said I was too high risk and not to try again and the doctor basically said, don’t bother. So I had to come to terms with that, which was hard. I wanted that choice for myself. I didn’t want that choice made for me. So I was pretty angry about it. 

I decided I wanted to be really grateful for what I have, all over again. I think that’s when I realized where I was working was not making me happy. I wasn’t happy having Aaliya in daycare. She would cry at the gates, and she would be hysterical when I picked her up. I had to reconnect skin to skin every day just to bond all over again. We needed the flexibility. I didn’t want the guilt. Aaliya is my only baby. 

Greg and I realised Aaliya needed us more. We needed to be more available for her. Greg supported me 110% in taking the leap of faith in creating my own business with the intention of growth, then when it was built up enough we could have him onboard full time too. He never doubted me. Not once. He shared my vision and was all in.  I managed to attract a couple of clients, and it went from there.

That was November 2017. Aaliya and I spent quality time together. We would disconnect from our phones, iPads, and go bushwalking. We built her up, so she had enough strength to bushwalk for a few hours at four years of age. I wanted to be able to go to a school assembly. I wanted to be there, pick up and drop off and if I needed to go to appointments for myself or for whatever it is. I wanted to be in business, I wanted to help people grow their business which could mean they can do more for their families.  I visualized what I wanted. Then the portfolio grew; we needed a team, and we wanted them to enjoy these qualities. 

The rest is history! 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

It rings true for me that you are emotionally invested in your clients and your team. 

I’m very loyal to all of my clients, and I’m emotionally invested in their business. Their digital media success is based on other people sharing the brand journey, values, and story. So it has to be authentic. The digital media space is rich with storytelling, and it’s crucial that the platform captures it. You can’t fake it. I think it is because our team are always encouraged to prioritise family and to take time if their kids are unwell or have something special on for school, they are never made to feel guilty. We have deliberately systemized the business to support this. 

We are working together to achieve the same goal. Both Greg and I want them to prosper in all of this.

 

Dominique and Greg Ho Viewpoint Digital Media

Photo: Greg, Aaliya and Dominique Ho

It is crucial to create a safe space for people to be just as authentic as you; that’s a big deal because it’s less of an “us and them” situation. When there’s not that connection, there’s not that friendship. Your scarcest resource in business is to maintain a seamless longevity with your team so you can grow without forsaking quality. I think we have managed to achieve that. 

Is there an aspect of business you would like to see change?

When people comment on our ethos, it really makes me question, why aren’t there more businesses like this? Why can’t businesses value people’s lives outside of work? How do they not see that if you put value back into your employee’s life, they will work so much harder and more efficiently if their family life is looked after? 

You know, in life, growth and positivity can come in the most traumatic sources; you must recognize it and transform it. We have gifts come into our lives. I started Viewpoint Digital Media to honour Zoey and what she taught us and to embrace our life with Aaliya and as a family while giving that to our team and clients in some way shape or form. 

 

Viewpoint Digital Media is lead by Dom and her husband Greg; they have developed a culture at VDM, a trend-bucking hybrid – where business and family life is synergetic. Viewpoint Digital Media has grown from one person to 9 within three years and is on the lips of most SMEs in the Greater Geelong region. To find out more about their dynamic offering, go to: https://viewpointdigitalmedia.com.au 

Side note; good luck from Ponderings to Dom, Greg and the team for the upcoming Small Business Awards!

Further resources:

Victorian Milk Bank : https://www.mothersmilkbank.com.au 

Butterfly Ward Royal Children’s Hospital; https://www.rch.org.au/butterfly/

Still Birth Foundation : https://stillbirthfoundation.org.au

Sands Australia  https://www.sands.org.au/contact

Photo: Viewpoint Digital Media

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How Pets Save Humanity

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How Pets Save Humanity

How Pets Save Humanity

COVID-19 has affected our lives massively, and pets have emerged as an integral part of coping with the pandemic. Animals provide us with unconditional love, reduce stress levels, and help fill social isolation gaps society faces during these trying times.

Consequently, the world has seen a significant rise in animal adoptions and purchases. According to PetRescue Australia, over 2.3 million pet lovers jumped on to PetRescue during the first few months of lockdowns in our country, collectively contributing to over 49 MILLION page views. 

In just three months, 20,350 adoptions were successfully made.  

According to experts, these are the unique qualities that make pets so valuable for people worldwide during COVID-19.

Pets Can Pick Up On Your Emotions

Pets can sense your emotions. So whether you are happy, sad, depressed, or tired, your pet always knows it and will try to give you company to put you in a good mood. Moreover, you can share all your feelings with your pet without getting unwelcome advice. Pets are great listeners, and sometimes, simply saying things out loud can help you overcome troubling thoughts triggered by COVID-19.

Pets are a Good Source of Laughter

Pets are incredibly adorable and funny. If you have ever watched your dog chase his tail, or your cat startled by noise, or your parrot copying your sentences, you have probably had a good chuckle.

Remember that pets love human attention. And if they notice something they do gets them your focus, they will keep milking the moment to make you laugh, and laughter is the best medicine to relieve stress.

Pets Can Accompany You on a Walk

Even during the pandemic, it’s impossible to stay at home all the time. Change of environment is essential for the brain to stay healthy, and going out on a walk is a great way to achieve that. Whether on a leash, on your shoulder, or in a stroller, you can always go out with your pet to say hello to your neighbours from afar. 

Pets Are Safe To Hug

While touching humans may not be safe during COVID-19, you can still snuggle with your pets to feel relaxed. Currently, there’s no evidence that pets transmit this disease, and therefore, hugging them is completely fine. According to experts, snuggling your pet will produce a feel-good hormone called oxytocin and lower cortisol levels, a hormone responsible for triggering stress, anxiety, and depression.

Pets Help You Spread Happiness

Nowadays, both TV and social media are filled with depressing updates about the pandemic. However, during these tricky times, a cute photo of your cat, dog, hare, or parrot can add joy to your loved ones. Besides, it’s the simplest way to bring a smile to the faces of people who are close to you. All you need to do is take a picture or make a video of your pet being adorable and share it with your loved ones through text, email, or social media platforms. Indeed, nothing makes people happier in a stressful situation than a funny pet photo or video sent to them by a loved one. 

Interesting fact to ponder:

Pets can help you survive a pandemic.

During the 1918 flu pandemic, pets were used to help detect infected people and alert doctors before they got sick. They were also used as guards in quarantine camps to protect humans from one another during this time of crisis. 

Pets are a wonderful addition to any household, and they provide many benefits for the owner. One of these is an increased sense of well-being when times get chaotic or stressful. So if you got a new pet over the last 12 months (or know someone who did), we would love to see your pics! Use hashtag #ponderingspets- we want to hear about how this furry friend has changed your life or helped during periods of isolation–we’re sure there are lots more stories out there! So grab those camera phones and snap away while giving us some good feels with your pics.

PetRescue is a national animal welfare charity with a vision of a future where every pet is safe, respected and loved. https://www.petrescue.com.au/about 

Kirsten Macdonald

Kirsten Macdonald

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