Four Points to Ponder from Netflix Documentary: Miss Americana

Jasmin Pedretti

Wordsmith

Four Points to Ponder from Netflix Documentary: Miss Americana

Taylor Swift’s new documentary Miss Americana aired on Netflix this year. It is vulnerable, raw and just a little more than surprising. 

Coming from the girl that used to write 13 on the back of her hand and practice the famous hair flip in front of the mirror, she could have spoken about her love of cats for an hour. 

Thankfully, there was more to learn than her devotion to cats. 

 

Taylor says, “one of the major themes about the doc is that we have the ability to change our opinions over time, to grow, to learn about ourselves.”

 

Through Taylor’s experiences, her highs and lows, her insecurities and vulnerabilities, the viewer reflects on who they are, what they stand for, and the effect their words have on others.

 

Here are 4 facets of inspiration to take away from Miss Americana.

Respond to disappointment with determination. 

When Taylor finds out that her album Reputation wasn’t Grammy-nominated for any of the major categories, she is visibly disappointed. But her immediate response is determination. “I just need to make a better record,” she says, “I’m making a better record.” 

 

Good things can come from your lowest points. 

Taylor dropped off the map after the “Taylor Swift is over party” in 2016. Thankfully, after a year of being MIA, she bounced back, creating beautiful music from her darkest days. 

Don’t be what people want you to be. 

Standing up for what’s right might go without saying. But Taylor stayed silent because people didn’t want her to have opinions. They wanted her to be a “good girl”, so she was. Until now. She shed her “good girl” persona and now stands up for her beliefs, no matter the ramifications to her career. Instead of seeking approval, she now cares about being on the right side of history. She is no longer afraid to talk openly about her experience with sexual assault, her views on feminism and who she’s voting for in the election. 

 

Life is transient, so focus on what is real and important. 

Taylor talks about her mother’s fight with cancer and how this changed her perspective. While the world crucified her on social media, Taylor was spending time with her family, especially her mum. She got back in touch with what mattered. Taylor says, “do you really care if the internet doesn’t like you today if your mom’s sick from her chemo.” Ponder that. 

 

The premise of this article is that I basically resonated the heck with Taylor’s doc and felt all kinds of inspired afterwards. The message that spoke loud throughout was precisely what I needed to hear. If these points to ponder resonate with you, then I highly suggest giving it a watch, even if it’s just to see her mum’s gigantic dog or her backpack specifically made to carry her cat around.  

 

P.S. Taylor also did Todrick Halls nails for the VMAs. Iconic.

 

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Three Health and Wellness Trends for Twenty Twenty

Jasmin Pedretti

Wordsmith

Three Health and Wellness Trends for Twenty Twenty

We all want to be healthy. For some, this can mean a balanced diet and regular exercise. 

 

For others, it can mean ice baths, penis facials and cow cuddling. Our ever-evolving technology means health perceptions are constantly adapting. Hence the multitude of wellness trends popping up quicker than… toast? Moving on. Let’s look at what the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) predicts for health in 2020. 

 

The GWS is the top dog when it comes to forecasting global wellness trends. They predict based on the perspectives of experts worldwide, including economists, academics, futurists and the CEOs of international corporations from all related fields within the $4.5 trillion wellness economy. Let’s look at three of their predicted trends. I promise they’re not as absurd as penis facials. Yes, that’s actually a thing. 

 

 

Sleep and the Circadian rhythm.

2019 was the year of sleep obsession. From “sleep ice-cream” to nap pods, to sleeping with robots to lashing out on the smartest mattress and pillow. Yet around 1 in 10 people still have sleep insomnia. In 2020, we focus less on sleep aids and more on our circadian rhythm, ensuring we see the light during the day and go into sleep mode as the sun goes down. It is the year we turn off the lightbulb. Dr Steven Lockley, associate professor of medicine at Harvard and one of the world’s top experts on circadian rhythms and sleep says, “The absolute key to healthy sleep and circadian rhythms is stable, regularly-timed daily light and dark exposure—our natural daily time cues.” This would be a lot easier if we still lived in caves and didn’t have power. As this is not the case, (thank god), people will switch up their home lighting to app controlled LED tuneable lights that automatically adjust day and night, from bright, blue-light in the day to dim red, yellow and orange color spectrums (think: campfire) at dusk—which boosts melatonin. 

 

The boom of the baby boomer campaign.

Did you see that 70-year-old woman kill it in that Adidas campaign? Said no one ever. These days, retirees are running marathons, yet this demographic only receives 10 per cent of marketing. In 2020, multiple health and fitness industries making the change, targeting seniors with their campaigns. Financially, this makes sense considering the 60+ population is rising rapidly, and they are now the fastest-growing membership group. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts they will nearly double by 2050 from 12 per cent to 22 per cent. According to The International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association, those aged 55 and up compose nearly a quarter of all US health club members. Ken Smith, director of the Mobility Division at the Stanford Center on Longevity, says “There isn’t a good embedded sense of the capability of older people,” says Smith. “Big companies are just starting to figure it out.”

 

Wellness music.

Humans are hardwired for music. Studies have well and truly proven that no other stimulus positively activates so many regions of the human brain (from the amygdala to the hippocampus)—with unique powers to boost mood and memory. No wonder we feel so good after we bless our ears with a little Beyoncé. This year, we won’t just listen to music as therapy, music will be intentionally created as medicine. Expect an explosion of healing playlists and popular musicians incorporating all kinds of wellness experiences into their concerts. There will also be a rise in AI-powered music apps that pull your biological, psychological and situational data to create an utterly unique, custom-made-for-you, always-changing soundscape—to improve your mental and physical health any time you want to tune in. 

 

Essentially, wellness in 2020 is a pretty picture. We can look forward to adjustable lights, seeing grandparents in activewear and custom made music. Is there anything more exciting than wellness ingenuity? I don’t think so. 

 

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Eight Young Rising Stars

Eight Young Rising Stars to Watch for 2020

by Ponderings Radio

https://ponderings.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/8-Young-Rising-Stars-Ponderings-Radio.mp3

Jasmin Pedretti

Wordsmith

Eight Young Rising Stars

In need of some fresh, new Australian talent to get excited about? Well, you have come to the right place Ponderer. 

 

Brenda Ueland once said, “Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.” This may be true, but not everyone has the bravery and determination to share their talent with the universe, letting us all have a bite of it. 

 

So, without further ado, let’s look at eight Australian youngins to keep your eyes peeled for in 2020. 

 

Cassidy Krygger 

(actress)

Sparkling new talent, Cassidy Krygger is an aspiring actress. She has been featured in The Slap, Theatre productions Wuthering Heights, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and her portfolio runs like a “WATCH THIS SPACE” advert. She’s purely amazing. 

 

Shantae Barnes-Cowan 

(actress)

The Casting Guild of Australia chose this phenomenal actress as one of the top rising stars for 2019. She made her screen debut in the television drama series Total Control, working alongside screen icon Deborah Mailman. We will see her next in the espionage thriller Fallout, due to air on the ABC this year. 

 

TL Mach 

(boxer)

After achieving back-to-back national titles last year, Geelong boxer TL Mach plans to go pro this March. The 19-year-old is a four-time state champion and is ready to take the next step in his career. The Sudanese refugee is dubbed a “boxing sensation”. Just watch his lightning-fast speed with the skipper rope at training. 

 

Amani Haydar 

(artist)

Amani used art to find her voice after her father murdered her mother, Salwa Haydar, in 2015. She has already gained a lot of respect for her paintings and illustrations, which frequently depict women expressing bittersweet emotion. The self-taught artist uses her work to celebrate hope and resilience. 

 

Sariah Paki

(rugby player)

Her bone-crushing hits and powerhouse strength has afforded Sariah the nickname “Big Girl”. She made her World Series debut with the Aussie Sevens last year at the remarkably young age of 17, making her the youngest Aussie Sevens player in history. Go girl!

 

Genesis Owusu

(musician)

What do you get when jazz and hip-hop collide? Delicious sound for the ears. Genesis Owusu leads Australia’s new wave of hip-hop at only 20 years of age. His hits ‘Sideways’, ‘awomen amen’ and ‘Wit’ Da Team’ have captured people’s attention. He is definitely one to watch!

Kira Puru

(musician) 

Kira Puru is one of Australia’s most exciting new pop acts. She released her debut solo EP in 2018, full of funky colourful music. Kira has worked with big names such as Illy, Paul Kelly and Urthboy and is known for her dynamic live performances. You’ll find her at every second music festival. 

Kwame 

(musician)

This 20-year-old rapper and producer from Sydney has already released two EP’s and opened Splendour in the Grass. His musical dreams began when he was just 12 years old and heard Kanye West’s hit “Power”. Now, he is the talk of the town. Or the country I should say.

It’s always fun to support home-grown talent. How wonderful that we get to sit back and watch their careers flourish and dreams come true? Here’s to the magical genius of youth in 2020!

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Reishi Mushroom Magic

by Jasmin Pedretti

2020 is the year of the rat. Thankfully, it’s also the year of the reishi mushroom, which is a lot more appealing.

This mystical shroom is set to become one of the year’s biggest food trends thanks to its abundance of health benefits and wellbeing inducing effects. It has been a Chinese and Japanese medicinal staple for over 2,000 years, and it’s known as the Mushroom of Immortality. Happy to get on board anything that promises immortality!   

So, what is reishi mushrooms? Also, known as lingzhi, reishi can be eaten fresh, but they’re so damn bitter that it’s often used preferably in powdered form which, added to drinks for added nutrition. There are many different types of reishi, and they range in colour, but the most popular is the red reishi.  

Here are five scientifically-backed benefits of reishi mushrooms. 

  1.   Boosts immune system. The most renowned benefit of reishi is its next level immune system boosting capabilities, thanks to the many beta-glucans (complex sugars). A recent study found that reishi improved lymphocyte function, which helps fight infections. 

 

  1.   Reduce fatigue, depression and anxiety. Reishi mushrooms are first-class adaptogens, which mean they help your body adapt to stress and essentially chill the f*ck out. Researchers have discovered, after examining 132 people, that fatigue was reduced and wellbeing improved after eight weeks of taking reishi supplements. 

  1.   Anti-cancer powers. Reishi has also been found to increase the activity of a type of white blood cell that fights infections and cancer in the body. One study of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors found that around 59% consumed reishi mushroom. Also, researchers believe beta-glucans in the mushrooms may prevent new blood vessel growth, which is vital as cancer cells need a steady blood supply to grow. 
  2.   Anti-oxidant powerhouse. Their science-backed anti-oxidant potential can reduce the risk of disease and premature aging. 
  3.   Decrease blood sugar. Finally, Reishi mushrooms have been found to decrease blood sugar levels by inhibiting an enzyme that produces glucose. 

 

However, all good things have the potential to be deadly. That might be a tad dramatic, but there may be some side effects. The use of powdered reishi for more than a month has been associated with toxic effects on the liver. Other possible downsides include an upset stomach and digestive stress. 

But don’t fret! These effects are rare, and the evidence is ultimately inconclusive. 

It’s about time we start celebrating this medicinal wonder shroom. 2020 is the year of the reishi and let’s hope that means a year of health and prosperity for all!  

 

Fleishman is in Trouble

Fleishman is in Trouble

by Jasmin Pedretti

‘Fleishman is in Trouble’, Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut novel, has a voice that is pure and tells the story of three complex characters with profundity. 

While Toby Fleishman is undergoing a bitter divorce with wife Rachel, she suddenly disappears, leaving him with their two kids. The novel chronicles the hardship that Toby faces when he must juggle his responsibilities as a father and a hepatologist.

Libby, one of Toby’s old college friends, narrates the novel. The reader sees how the marriage broke down through Toby’s eyes right up until the last quarter, where finally we get to see his wife’s side. 

Toby positions himself as the victim.

For the first three quarters, the narrator asks the reader to sympathize, an (albeit pathetic), man, who was abandoned by his cold, workaholic wife, Rachel. You do not even judge him for his creepy online dating obsession and cringy attraction to a young work colleague. At times you want to punch him in the face because he is so god damn oblivious, but even then, you pity his ignorance. 

Libby only permits flecks of Rachel’s side, making you anticipate the moment where her full story is finally revealed. It is an agitating wait but worth it, in the end, to learn how one-sided stories are a complete warp of the truth. Libby, learnt by writing for a men’s magazine, that the only way someone will listen is if the story is told through a man. 

Gender double standards is a prominent concern throughout the novel. “Whatever kind of woman you are, even when you’re a lot of kinds of women, you’re still always just a woman, which is to say you’re always a little bit less than a man.” 

‘Fleishman is in Trouble’ is a story of shrewd observations.

Everyone has their own version of the truth, even outsiders who cannot possibly know what happened in the private, complicated experience of two people. 

Even when Libby reveals Rachel’s version of what happened, the reader is not asked to side with her but to empathize with both sides and accept that we all have weaknesses. We are all just doing the best we can, and sometimes problems in a marriage just cannot be solved.   

At times Libby’s account is indeed impossible. There are intimate details and conversations that only Toby and Rachel could know. Nevertheless, this only furthers the point that all perspectives are shrewd, and no account is entirely reliable. In this case, Libby is taking artistic license, and the whole novel is her interpretation. An animated, sparkling and agonizing one at that. 

‘Fleishman is in Trouble’ is an outstanding exploration of how our culture attempts to navigate the breakdown of marriage and the experience of others.

Although it can be at times painful to read, it is worth pushing through Toby’s uncomfortable sexual-popularity, to get to the revelations that unfold eventually. After laughing and crying your way through, you will put the book down, satisfied that “Fleishman” is indeed “in trouble”. 

Click here to purchase a copy.    Have you read Fleishman in in Trouble? Want to tell us all about it? Join Ponderings today, and join the Book Club. You can upload your book and tell us what you think about it! Click for your membership now. 

 

 

 

EIGHT Wacky Fads That Should Never Come Back

EIGHT Wacky Fads That Should Never Come Back

Words by Jasmin Pedretti

Okay, so these actually happened. Before Tik Tok and flossing, our human race got into some pretty bizarre stuff.

It’s amazing what the world can obsess over. We have collated the eight most absolutely wacko fads of all time for your amusement. 

1. Death 

Death might seem morbid nowadays, but during the Victorian era, it was all the rage. People wore brooches made from their dead loved one’s hair and skeletal remains. Cemeteries were the perfect spot for a picnic, and it was fashionable to catch tears at a funeral with a glass vile so that when the tears evaporated, they could stop mourning. The discovery of Egyptian Pharaohs saw the upper classes host parties where guests would watch a mummy get unwrapped and disintegrate when it came into contact with the air. Because what else would you do at a party?

  1. Fasting Girls

Based on how bizarre the Victorian Era was, it’s no surprise some young girls claimed they could survive without eating and were an exhibit display in public.

 3. Flagpole sitting

By the mid-1920s fads became a little more fun, if you consider standing on top of a flagpole for extensive periods “fun”. Who knew this was even possible? 

  1. Dance till you die. 

Okay maybe not till death, but dance marathons during the Great Depression were taken very seriously. I guess when times are tough, why not dance till you pass out to make some extra coin? 

  1. Leg paint

During World War II, the manufacturing of nylon stockings stopped because the money went towards the war effort. It became popular for women to wear “leg make-up” to create the appearance of nylon stockings. Nothing could stand in the way of a woman and her style!

 

  1.   Phonebooth stuffing

Whoever thought it was a good idea to stuff as many people as possible into a phone booth was clearly bored. Somehow, this claustrophobic nightmare caught on and became a huge fad in the late 1950s. 

 

  1. Hunkerin’

Thankfully, by 59′, phone booth stuffing was old news and was replaced by hunkerin’. Considered by authorities as preferable to the previous craze, people hunkered for hours in random places like car roofs and around campus, wherever people gathered. Apparently, it helped you get to know each other and talk peacefully about issues such as politics.

 

  1. Banana peel smoking

This is known as the biggest hallucinogenic hoax of all time. The Berkeley Barb published a recipe in 1967 claiming that inhaling dried banana peels would get you high. This became an actual thing, even though the feeling of “tripping” was just a placebo effect. 

These quirky crazes are a testament to either the random stupidity or wild imagination of humanity. If we can gain anything from this history of nonsense, it’s that a group of people will enthusiastically follow any impulse if it becomes popular enough.

They might be peculiar, pointless and often life-threatening, but fads are the ultimate vehicle that bonds all walks of life from all over the world.