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

 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

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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

Thank you to our sponsors Australian Skin Face Body- click here to find out more about them!

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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

Writer

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Clockwork Chaos- Finding Time When You Have None

Clockwork Chaos- Finding Time When You Have None

Time became my most valuable treasure when there was a threat to my long-standing rental agreement on planet earth. The most important aspect just became time. You are healthy until you aren’t. Two brain surgeries and defying a terminal diagnosis skilled me up some.

I am not too busy; I am a productive person with a full life. There is a time to eat, a time to play, a time to sleep, a time to work and a time to pray. There is a big creamy dollop of self-care in the mix, too.

 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

Reshaping how you feel about time and having enough of it can be often tinged with overwhelm, anxiety and exhaustion in a busy world. All the things we have to do can subconsciously build-up becoming an oppressive shackle we see too late.

I don’t often feel overwhelmed with the fullness of our life. It’s a skill set I had to learn, and it is with cautious optimism that I write it down so it may be useful to someone else out there.

Many people ask me how I ‘get it all done with a large family, successful businesses,  a homestead to which I am a mother to many adopted farm animals (including three ridiculously sweet alpacas), a writer, epilepsy, narcolepsy and an inoperable aneurysm that requires tender loving care as I try my dandiest to send it on its way. People can deliver the question with a note of intrigue, concern that I may be burning the candle at both ends or admiration. The answer is that time is a commodity, and I spend it wisely, and in the voice of Moira Rose, I spend it on my bailiwick.

 

You are reading the words of someone who literally counts each day as a blessing. So wasting Time is counter-intuitive and equivalent to pouring gold down the toilet.

 

There is stuff to be done, people!

Your long term success for healthy life promotion, smiling more and living a full life depends on it. The bonus is feeling good about purpose, meaning, inner achievement, and science tells us this is great for living longer and healthier. Who can argue with that?

 

This is where the inner conflict around self-discipline can kick us up the butt. We need to break it down into bite-sized pieces to help deflect the overwhelm.

Self Discipline Without Self Punishment

Self-discipline starts with managing realistic targets for ourselves, and this becomes the building block of a routine. Why are routines good for us? According to the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, the consistent presence of structure, routine, and regulation within a day positively shapes us. Keeping it really simple and small to begin with make this achievable rather than setting yourself up for disappointment or unrealistic expectations.

In another study, Ouellette and Wood found that repeated goal congruent behaviour and self-control formed good habits and positive feedback. Tick! The goal-setting theory lies within the domain of purposefully directed action. When we set goals and achieve them, we feel good. Simple. Start small too, steps not leaps are the building blocks; when we use goals like muscles, they build up and get nice and strong and next thing you know- self-discipline has us feeling the warm and fuzzies. No pressure!

Routine

Routine brings rhythm and habit into our day to day life. Rhythm is important, and studies also show the human body responds positively to a natural, synchronized routine system. Our minds depend strongly on patterns and healthy habits to stay healthy. When we create a routine, a rhythm to our life, we are more likely to achieve our goals without too much effort- energy conservation right there, right? When I say goals, I mean- the stuff you want to do or change, aspire to or get at.

An in-depth study titled Routines and Meaning in Life shows a life characterized by routines is associated with a more meaningful life through extraordinary experiences and its daily living.

 

For example, each morning, I get up at 5.30 am, meditate, stretch it out in a yoga class, exercise class, write, sit in prayer time, along with a healthy breakfast, all enjoyed by 7.00 am.

 

I know some people who have a run, shower and massage ritual with essential oils every day. It might be the act of sitting with yourself in the quiet. People in my house are just starting to stretch their arms and yawn to the new day, and I’m good to go. I can hear people telling me to piss off now, but your body will get used to it and love you for it. Our bodies respond well to routine- you will get used to it.

This time allocation is brilliant for creatives too. The space in between is when we touch the ether, and ideas drop into form.

This is in beautiful alignment with the next one- non-negotiables.

Set Aside Time Blocks of Non-Negotiables

What are non-negotiables? Nothing interferes with this one. For example, you may decide to use an hour every Monday morning to make all of your phone calls or appointments; no other outside interruptions are allowed to interfere with this- it’s not up for negotiation.

 

Your non-negotiable might be setting your alarm at 5.30 am and doing the self-care regime. We use NN’s on holidays- there must be a day of fishing or hiking and time each of us gets to spend recharging or having some alone time. Each of my vacation days begins with a routine of Yoga, meditation and prayer, then the rest of the day is up for grabs. It starts with a question- what are the things I want and need to do?

It is your time. I never get time for myself is no longer in your vocabulary.

Sunday nights in our house are family Hygge nights, and it’s non-negotiable.

This practice of blocking time off also gets your brain prioritizing it as necessary, rather than an event or task easily swayed by others. Particularly helpful in families with demands from others, by using non-negotiables you are scaffolding yourself with self-care with this one.

 Boundaries and non-negotiables are incredibly powerful in life in general.

Keep a Rythmn (not a schedule)

Some people, myself included, have time blocks for the whole week- including all the main aspects of my life. Media events are booked often a month or two in advance, along with appointments with doctors and kids stuff.  I often organize catch-ups with friends well in advance too. It isn’t non-flexible- it can bend and shape with life- because that’s the way life is, and flow needs to be an element too. You can even make a block for “nothing” if you want to. If it’s a non-negotiable, it goes in the “NN” category. I like to remove the word schedule and use daily rhythm with time allocations.

 

Time allocating like this sounds anal-retentive, I know. But before you roll your eyes again (sheesh) it was amazing how my body and mind positively responded to this in rehabilitation after brain surgery. I was blind and learning how to walk and do basic tasks for months; I couldn’t read a book, study or watch TV to pass the time. So I partitioned the day into blocks, breakfast, meditation, physio, coffee time, living classes, OT sessions, lunch, afternoon sleep, visitors, afternoon tea, meditation, long shower, audiobooks… you get the idea. This process helped me track time and progress, with something to look forward to each day. My meditation abilities became reasonably impressive and were imperative for pain relief.

 

Today, nine years later, I have time set aside for rest every day.

Every.

Day.

If you are faced with a serious health crisis – you will have to. Why wait?

Get It Out of Your Head!

The reward for writing ideas down and getting shite out of your head are aplenty! A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that tasks we haven’t done distract us, and the simple act of making a plan to get them done can and does free us from this anxiety successfully,

“Simply writing the tasks down will make you more effective.”

You may want to keep a journal, a personal favourite of mine too. Sometimes this can be overwhelming, so a productivity journal is a game-changer. Ponderings have these at our online store- designed around all the things I had to remember on my road to recovery.

Brain Dump On Your Microphone!

Don’t have time to write? Use the microphone on your smartphone notes app to record everything from shopping list items to ideas, worries, things you need to do etc. It turns your voice into words that can then easily be emailed, printed or even sent as a text to someone (convenient for reminding housemates to bring home goodies).

Time Savers

Blinklist- have that book you want to read? Perhaps The 7 Habits of Highly effective people by Stephen R Covey- jump over to Blinkist. You can read or listen to the primary key insights of a non-fiction book in 15 minutes or less. I know, right? Complete book summaries read to you, and you might like it and want to read more.

 

Exercise -we all know it- exercise is good for you. My personal recommendation? Fiton. This affordable app is diverse and has quality, intuitive features. Every workout you can imagine from meditation mind workouts, Yoga, boxing, dance classes and insane hits from 5 minutes to an hour, beginner to advanced. It also features deliciously healthy recipes and advice in one space; this takes the pain out of meal planning for my large family too. The reminders and encouragement on this are levelled up. When you make it part of your daily routine, the feel-good factor is amplified. Bonus points- Halle Berry is on there too.

Time Savers continued…

Podcasts are my go-to for listening to the selection of outside influencers I want to give my attention to; listening to these while on the treadmill or an early morning beach walk is time conservation at its handiest.

Youtube– often a summarised version, the key gold pieces of podcasts, movie recommendations, which makeup to buy- Youtube is my go-to for quick tips, advice, reviews on products easy access on the go information. Don’t know how to apply the new primer? Jump on it. Need to grow your own vegetables and companion plant them to keep away the bugs? Want to quickly learn how to use Adobe  Photoshop? Whoomp- there it is.

The Ponderings App- apologies for the pitch but the whole reason we made it was for this topic alone. Our digital team created this as a passion project and a productivity hack for us all. I wanted one place to read about real people,  quirky stuff of the curious kind, find recipes, go to meditations we curated from around the world, get inspired, how to meditate and all the good shite. It cost a fortune, it was worth every penny and even has a chatzone for subscribers, discounts and coupons from our sponsors. It will continue to grow and evolve. You can access the app on any device simply by going to App.ponderings.com.au on your website browser. No need for downloads.

 

 

Give It Up To Gain

When the calendar felt like a doomsday clock; I had a wish list of things that would make my life easier and give me more time. I realized that if I wanted something badly enough, I would need to give up to gain.

My wish? A cleaner half a day a week. I needed her more than my long-held hair and beauty regime. The money I chose to save on extras like this I used for my dear Kylie. She is a miracle worker and does the heavy stuff that makes the house feel nicer and reduces background stress. (I also couldn’t really see the toilet bowl.)

You might have something you want to give up to gain. Smoking in return for health, news in favour of documentaries on positive living. You might give up the beers and give the money to the Salvos, and it makes you feel amazing- you catch my drift.

Less time worrying, more self-care and the exhilaration of achieving your goals from using your Time with meaning creates a life doing the things you enjoy.

Being conscious of the value of your time and using it sustainably helps you have a more awesome, less harried and far more fulfilling life. Time is precious, and none of us knows how much we have in this story, so go forth and claim yours.

Your soul’s journey in this time and this place must be honoured. There is no compromise on this, it’s not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. So take that clockwork chaos and turn it into a life with purpose and permission.

Do you know someone who might get something out of this? Click here for the E-book version

 

 

References and Resources for further reading

https://www.recovery.org/pro/articles/bringing-balance-back-why-you-need-routine-and-structure/

https://bpspsychub.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjhp.12504

http://users.wfu.edu/masicaej/MasicampoBaumeister2011JPSP.pdf

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29936091/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6378489/

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0146167218795133

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00560/full

 

Brazendale, Keith & Beets, Michael & Weaver, Robert & Pate, Russell & Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle & Kaczynski, Andrew & Chandler, Jessica & Bohnert, Amy & von Hippel, Paul. (2017). 10.1186/s12966-017-0555-2.

 

Kirsten Macdonald

Kirsten Macdonald

Writer

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The Moving Tide of Mama Kin

The Moving Tide of Mama Kin

Photo credit Jarrad Seng | Words Kirsten Macdonald

It’s hard not to pull the lever on the floodgate and release a stream of adjectives to label and describe the flow, ebb and tide that is Danielle Caruana- or Mama Kin as she is affectionately and professionally known. 

There doesn’t appear to be a spectral envelope, no single point or sentence to adequately describe her. There’s no denying the lady is a muse, and so I found myself stumped. There was only one remedy; I pressed play on our sound system in the garden, got my hands deep and dirty in the soil and planted seeds, tending to our veggie patch. 

On the last day of Summer listening to her soulful music, I stopped to sip a well-earned gin and tonic and smiled, remembering exactly who Mama Kin reminds me of! Polyhymnia. 

Yup, I’m on the money. No waxing lyrical here, listen to Mama Kin’s song Rescue (loud) and then indulge in her TED talk or refreshing live performances on Youtube; you will nod and maybe shout me the next round. Yes, I know, I resorted to the Goddess trope, but if you are into ancient mythology- you hear me. 

There’s an intimacy and directness to Mama Kin’s music, poetry and storytelling. Her coppery voice, combined with blues + roots music climbs right into your heart like a bloody ladder. 

She’s an impressive person. Nominated for ARIA Award for Best Blues and Roots Album, she’s a WAM Award-winning TED Talking, and Philanthropic Musician.   

We ponder with Mama Kin.

Often, online performances from artists from their home feel very intimate and connective as an audience, but as the musician, is it difficult to get immediate biofeedback?

I’m not sure I’ve adapted yet, to be honest. I dip my toes in here and there, but I mostly find that what calls me most right now is very up close and immediate. I am more interested in who I am in my own community, with my immediate family and friends. My sense of pace has changed considerably. 

I have lost all romantic notions about travelling around endlessly chasing gigs, and I’m looking for something I can do from home. I have always wanted to write a book! So now I am dabbling, with huge encouragement from my kids and partner. 

I still want to connect with audiences and people in general, so that is the question I am asking myself- How can I connect with the wider world in a meaningful and viable way, while staying connected to home?

 

“They are completely different platforms. I don’t expect the same from one as the other. One is quick and has very little attachment to it. I like their differences. They compliment each other.”

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? 

In my fantasy land I wake and then meditate, maybe some pranayama, chanting, stretch and then go for a walk and a swim before coming home, making a juice and feeding the chickens, all before the rest of the house has woken. At this stage, I would then sit myself at the spotless kitchen table and do creative writing for 30 – 60 minutes. 

In reality, it is a bit of a rolling thunder. Most mornings, I wake and scan my body for where it is at and what I might need to do to kick start it into shape to meet the demands of the day. I then shuffle out to the kitchen and check my phone, I wish I didn’t do that first, but to be honest, I generally do. 

I love not having the phone in my bedroom through the night (except if my kids are out), but I still haven’t broken the habit of waking up and checking it first. Recently I have been trying to get straight out of the house for a walk and a swim in the Woodtichup Bilya (The Margaret River). I then come home and make my juice. I am usually mustering my 14-year-old son into whichever activity he needs to be up and happening for that day while simultaneously checking in with my email world. I am homeschooling my son at the moment, so our lives are fairly tethered to each other. It is kind of like being grounded; it is super grounding. 

 

I squeeze in work in between the cracks of what he needs from me, I squeeze in writing and singing, walks with my dogs, catch up with friends and visits with my horse; I squeeze it all in around him. Right now, he is my key focus, and it feels like a rare and fleeting gift, and I am so pleased I have the perspective to see it for the incredible opportunity that it is.

 

If you had one question you could ask a sage ancient mother what would it be?

 

I think I would like to know how to realise my ultimate potential while still holding space for the people I love, being fully present to them, and helping them realise their own potential.

 

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

“My mum told me never to stop trying. I understand that she means to keep the drive alive in your mind, body and spirit. Embrace life fully with curiosity and wonder. I see that in her, and she is 87 and spritely as a teenager!”

Your contribution to the Music Industry is astounding! Can you tell our readers in a sentence the vibe of the The Seed Fund?

The Seed is a philanthropic fund set up to support emerging Australian artists and arts workers. In its 15th year now (wow), we have distributed well over 1 million dollars in funding and initiatives. Our cornerstone initiative is the annual Future Makers: Management Workshop, where we bring together 30 self-managed and managed musicians for a four day live in deep-dive intensive.

Your music, events, The Seed, Ted x talk etc., the list seems both inspiring and endless. What is next for you? 

My biggest love is the power of storytelling. I’m fascinated by narratives and the power they have to shape the banks of the rivers that they flow through. I love fiction. I love the power of prose. I’ve enjoyed playing with storytelling through songwriting, and now I think I am ready to dabble in longer form! 

Sometimes I would like to create a multidisciplinary theatre piece. I would really like to create a conversation series around obstacles and narratives, but I feel under-qualified. It is just what I am naturally drawn to. So, in summary, I think I’d next like to write a work of fiction that explores narratives within narratives. Hmmm sounding a bit like I have no idea what I am doing, but I am pondering over scraps of clues.

What is your favourite song to perform? What does it mean to you?

Oh, you’re asking me to pick my favourite child! It depends on my mood. The one that springs to mind right now is a song I co-wrote with an artist from America, Aaron Embry, which I recorded on my We Two Thieves project with Emily Lubitz and Dave Mann. The song is called Only For You, and I LOVE the sentiment and the harmonies in it. There is a section that builds and builds, and I can’t sing it without my heart swelling and a huge smile erupting across my face. 

The song is about being loved and embraced by the natural world around you, and when the harmonies kick in, I feel that universal hug resonate, vibrating love in my whole being.

We love your TedX talk about taming “David”, your inner Tyrant. Sharing your story and inner workings, your “David” was vulnerable, empowering, insightful, and so bloody relevant! (not to mention the perfect balance of raw and funny!) We applaud your “surrender muscles” and honest account. (readers scroll to the bottom for the TedTalk) 

 

How is David now?

 

David is a wonderful passenger and a terrible driver. He is a brilliant navigator and can pack the car within an inch of its life. He sometimes tries to convince me to let him drive, sometimes he even tries to execute radical coups to have me forcibly removed, but I know better, and I remind him that I’ve got this, and I need him to stay right where he is, and could he please pass me a drink.

 

What would you be doing right now if not playing music?

 

Well, I am not playing that much music, so what am I doing? I am homeschooling my son, writing small works of fiction, doing some local creative collaborations, preparing my 18-year-old daughter to leave home, trying to learn more raw plant-based meals. I’m in a creative lull of sorts, and I like it.

 

If COVID19 had a theme song, what would it be?

 

Strange Girl by Laura Marling. The album dropped soon into the first lockdown in WA, and that song became a love song to this time and each other. Once the regional borders opened my daughter, and I went on a month-long road trip and that song, and album, was the soundtrack to that trip. I will forever remember her golden hair flicking in and out of the window as we sang along to I love you my Strange Girl, my Lonely Girl, My Angry Girl, My Strange…”, as we rode the white speckled black ribbon through the red dirt country. Heaven.

 

Treehouse or cubby house?

 

Teepee… so I suppose cubby!

 

Check out more of Mama Kin and her latest release on Spender, called Are You Listening available on all streaming platforms. Additionally, this collection of story vignettes which accompanied the release: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuYCFpzEE4M&t=10s diving deeper into the Listening journey.

www.mamakin.com
www.mamakinspender.love
www.theseedfund.org

PS- her song -Rescue- can someone in the Netflix series industry please use this song as a theme? Waiting patiently….

 

Note for the non mythology geeks- (unlike yours truly): Polyhymnia was an ancient goddess, a muse often depicted as pensive, eloquent, wise and meditative-Polyhymnia, the goddess of lyric poetry, sacred music, song, and study the stars, geometry and meditation. 


On behalf of Mama Kin: In acknowledgement of  the Wadandi / Pipelmum traditional custodians of the country upon which I live, love, learn and create. I pay my respect to their elders – past, present and future – and thank them daily for their age-old custodianship of boodjara, and their ongoing generosity and trust in sharing their culture, kinship and language with us all. Always was, always will be.

 

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In September, Hermione Granger, Stephen King, George R. R. Martin and Roald Dahl Birthday all have birthdays. Given that nearly all of them are favourite authors of the Ponderings team, we decided to dedicate this auspicious month to an assortment of bookish loves. ...
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