It is Winter in Australia, and it is now possible for Matthew McConaughey to tell you a bedtime story.
If you are fortunate enough to have a hot water bottle and a comfy bed, you are in for a treat.
As you snuggle down under the doona, the gentle southern gravelly drawl starts to tell you a bedtime story called Wonder. There’s not an alright in sight, but there is a starry sky, and you are in for 35 mins of heaven. The beautiful wordsmithed tale by Chris Advansun is part of the Calm App. The sleep story feature is pure decadence.
This is not your average meditation app.
Founded in 2012 by Michael Action Smith and Alex Tew, social entrepreneur and the creator of Moshi Monsters; the Calm App has taken the concept of guided meditation and taken it to a new level.
It did not take long to take off with investors like Ashton Kutcher jumping on board the chill train along with a bevy of fast pace angel investors.
The Calm platform won the 2017 Phone app of the year, and with a revenue of 150 million in 2018 and a world full of present chaos, we can see why it is popular.
Featuring simple icons with an intuitive For You feature based on use, categories and classes like Sleep, Meditate, Music, Calm Kids, Calm Masterclass, Breathing exercises and scene therapy make this the full suite. The scenes are seriously serene, and I am hoping in the future, there might be a VR component.
There’s even Emergency Calm- a meditation to provide immediate relief when overwhelm hits you. You can choose 3 minutes, 5 mins or 10 minutes. The motto is Sleep more, Stress less, Live better – I can’t argue with that.
As a meditator now for 12 years, I was keen to see what was so unique and if it was a beginners only format or if there was depth and substance. I was not disappointed.
I was pleasantly surprised. Many of the meditations are lead by Tamara Levitt – head of mindfulness at Calm. Tamara is a Canadian author, mindfulness instructor and voice over artists. The Siri of Zen.
It is Winter in Australia, and it is now possible for Matthew McConaughey to tell you a bedtime story. If you are fortunate enough to have a hot water bottle and a comfy bed, you are in for a treat. As you snuggle down under the doona, the gentle southern gravelly...
When Ronni Kahn walks into a room, you know it. It isn’t just because she is dressed in powerful layered shades of honey, laguna and mustard, her signature colour is yellow. She has a presence. We ponder with Ronni about Oz Harvest and her book…
words by Kirsten Macdonald Jane Bunn is one very popular lady, with a prime spot as Australia’s beloved weather presenter and a feverish 40,000+ followers on Instagram and an App on the horizon; Jane is a bit of an enigma. A glamazon and fashionista; she is a...
The Architect of Awesome And The Order of The Teaspoon
Words by Kirsten Macdonald
When Ronni Kahn walks into a room, you know it.
It isn’t just because she is dressed in powerful layered shades of honey, laguna and mustard, her signature colour is yellow. She has a presence. One that is unapologetic and regal, shiny, sincere and on a mission. From the moment she walked onto the stage at PauseFest 2020, there was no need for written flourished speeches, she was there to connect and with a story to tell. She told the story of The Order of The Teaspoon. That is the moment I knew I must chat with Ronni.
Ronni was born in South Africa, moved to Israel and then emigrated to Australia in 1998. In 2004, she founded the food rescue charity, OzHarvest, which started as a single van in Sydney. She delivered 4,000 meals in the first month. OzHarvest now operates nationally, rescuing over 180 tonnes of food each week from over 3,500 food donors and education has also become a part of this mighty mission.
We asked Ronni where all her energy comes from.
“The power of what I do, I am completely driven by the impact we can make, by the difference it makes and the gratitude I have for what it is that I do. I’ve always been a positive human being, a combination of presence and finding one’s sacred duty and living every single day in gratitude. Means I am inspired every day of my life.”
So what is a sacred duty to Ronni?
“Sacred duty means I stumbled upon my true calling, which allows me to radiate my life’s force. I am here to serve and do good and to try and live very consciously.”
OzHarvest is now a massive social enterprise, a large machine helping so many people with the very basics of food. It is quite intriguing, almost novel that an organisation like this also needing to co-exist within a corporate space has this enigmatic leader driven by purpose rather than the buck. How does this marry together?
“It’s all about eclectic leadership, OzHarvest is a magnet for magnificent people,” says Ronni.
“It is because it is a blessed organisation, it is unlike any other organisation. It is unique, people walk in and say “we love it!” the energy, we love what it is. Our people are inspired and inspiring; they have chosen to work for a purpose. Purpose at its very core is powerful and true.”
“People want to buy purpose at a supermarket- I want some purpose! Can I get some? I don’t know what I am supposed to do! It takes more hard work, you have to look inside, align with your values, know what values are. You have to do some inner work, I think absolutely OzHarvest is a very proficient business, it is not just that it has the packaging around it that drives it and protects it. OzHarvest is prosperous because those who are dedicated to it are there to serve others, we aren’t here to be the biggest or best. I am not here to be the most widely quoted leader. I am here to serve.”
OzHarvest celebrated opening Australia’s first rescued food supermarket – the OzHarvest Market in Sydney this year, based on a ‘take what you need, give if you can’ philosophy. Philosophy is as aspect solidly forged through Ronni’s journey as a philanthropist and life changer.
A sharer of knowledge and a great communicator; Ronni’s story will go to print this year. The book is beautifully titled ‘A Repurposed Life’- with the release set for October.
“It is a story about finding your true calling. It’s really a memoir of what I have learned over the last 15 years, it starts when I was little and reaches into today. It is vulnerable, scary, honest, and I hope the book resonates with people just like when I talk. This is what I want the book to do. To make people say; I can do this, I want to be the best human being I can be” says the beaming woman in front of me.
We were blessed enough to have Ronni give you this special message The Order of The Teaspoon. I just know you will enjoy this as much as we did.
Jane Bunn is one very popular lady, with a prime spot as Australia’s beloved weather presenter and a feverish 40,000+ followers on Instagram and an App on the horizon; Jane is a bit of an enigma.
A glamazon and fashionista; she is a seriously educated Meteorologist and Atmospheric Scientist, and she really (really) knows her weather! Forget Gucci and Balenciaga, when this lady starts talking about negative and positive dipoles, the juicy clouds, the Southern Annular Mode and climate drivers; welcome to Australia’s Nigella of weather. Warm, sincere and with a disarming enthusiasm; we are going to admit it, we were charmed.
K: How are you today, Jane?
J: I am very well, thank you! It is an interesting day to be alive in the weather world because the pattern has changed. Whenever the pattern changes, I get very interested!
K: There is so much to talk to you about! Your education in meteorology, journalism and atmospheric science are extensive, Monash, Penn State in the US just to name a few. Penn State is really impressive, how did that come about?
J: Well, I was at Monash University. To start off actually, I was studying software engineering at RMIT. To be honest, I was not great at it, but I’m so glad I did the first year of that because I don’t love it, but it’s handy!
Then I worked for a little bit and worked out what I actually wanted to do, I found that I was procrastinating with the jobs I was meant to be doing. I was looking at the weather, and so after a while, I thought: that’s actually what I want to do. This is what is driving me, this is what I’m interested in. I went back to Monash Uni and studied a Bachelor of Science. I majored in mathematics and atmospheric science.
The coolest bit was everyone was going over and doing a semester abroad. Everyone else went to Oklahoma to chase tornados. The thing that first got me into the weather was when I went skiing for the first time. I fell in love with snow and why it was falling or wasn’t falling or raining instead. Instead of chasing Tornados, I went to Penn State so I could live in the snow for six months! (Laughing)
K: So can you tell us about Jane’s Weather?
J: It is a term I coined a long time ago because people want to know about the weather and so Jane’s Weather made sense. I have been working on it for so long with these lovely guys that know a lot more about IT than I do. They are working a way to produce the App because while I’ve got three minutes every night on TV,
I can’t get across as much as I would love to be able to share in that short time. So I go and do talks to help people understand more about the weather. Everyone says “you need your own app” so I said yes! There is so much weather data, weather information out there now. It’s an amazing world we live in.
What I am trying to do is to collate the best of everything that’s out there. To put it all in one spot. It’s important to make it look good, so people want to take in this information.
K Are you purpose-driven? And if so, what is your purpose?
J: My original reason for getting into the job that I have now (or trying to get the job that I have now), was because I was working at the weather bureau. I did a graduate diploma in Meteorology with them. Then I was working as a forecaster, and I would get really annoyed with the media because we would sit there all day, perfecting the forecast.
There are certain words you have to use, terminology. So we’d get them all in the right order and around the right way and what we could say. Then “the media’- certain people in it, would change those words and then change the meaning completely. But a forecast of “fine and mostly sunny”, what “fine” actually means in Australia is “it’s dry.” It says nothing about the cloud, whether it’s hot or it’s cold it just means that it’s not wet. So a forecast of “fine and mostly sunny”- that means that it is completely dry and there’s lots of sunshine.
So this woman on the radio used to take that and think it was a little bit too long and shorten it to “mostly fine” she had changed the meaning of that completely she said it is “mostly dry.”
So I’d be like what? We put some wet weather in there that I don’t know about? (laughing) So just a little tiny thing like changing one word around like that has massive meaning, and so I went, that’s it! I want to forecast the weather. I also want to avoid the middleman, and I want to be able to get the right information out to as many people as I can. And so, that’s what I’m all about!
You’ve been on our screens for a long time now. Have there ever been any self-doubt moments, especially in the media industry for you? And if so, what was your strategy for continuing to shine so brightly?
J: Oh thank you! What I think about is where we’re living now. Could you imagine having done this 20, 30 years ago where there was no social media? And the only people you ran into were the only people you got feedback from, rather than where we live now -which is so social media based.
Part of my job is to get the message out to as many people as I can. So, I put things out on Instagram, I put something out on Facebook, I put it out on Twitter. But then, people now have a license to say whatever they like straight back at you and you see it.
So, that’s what’s interesting about how we live now is the feedback you get from that.
It can be anything from gross sexual stuff which I just completely ignore and move on from or things about the way I look or how I did something or those sorts of things. Some of it can hurt when you read it. What I end up doing is overtime, working out a strategy of how to actually live with that.
Some of the things are; Don’t look at social media before you go to sleep- because that’s the last thing you want to see before you shut your eyes.
Also, don’t be constantly looking at it. Control how often you go and look at these things. My ruling is; if you’ve said something gross I’m not going to respond to you. But if you’ve asked a weather question, then yeah if I have the time absolutely I’d love to do that. Also, if you’ve said something that isn’t correct, then I’ll come back to you and try and challenge you and help you grow and understand what these things actually mean. It’s actually quite pleasing to see how many people I’ve been able to do that with. Just a one on one basis back and forth. We’ve been back 10 times on Twitter, and by the end of it, I feel like the person’s walked away with “Oh I actually get that now.” Which is good!
K: If you had a spirit animal, what would it be?
J: Hmmm I’m cross between two things. So if you aren’t trawling through Instagram, I reckon the things that catch my eye are cute little dogs but also randomly and how Australian is this?! Quokkas! You’ve seen Quokkas, right?!
So when I went over to Perth a couple of years ago I went out to Rottnest Island- they are the cutest things ever. So, I think a cross between a little furry dog and a Quokka.
K: You be vibing with the Qokkas, I like that
K: If you have a devastating personal moment or event or just having a shocking day and you’ve got to get up on that screen. You have to shine brightly, and you are so professional. How do you transform into that space?
J: When I get up, literally the first thing I look at is what may have changed overnight and then any data that comes in. It takes me about an hour and a half every morning. My husband loves it! (laughing) Then you sit throughout the day, and you are weather watching. Checking the radar, monitoring the satellite, seeing ‘has this popped up when it was meant to? What is the temperature doing?’ Then you are planning what you are actually going to go out and say there.
I had a colleague once and we weren’t getting along. She walked into my room at 5 minutes to 6 one night and started yelling at me. It was quite difficult from that screaming match then at 6:02 to go back into weather mode.
There’s something about it because what I’m trying to do out there is make sure the right information is getting out to as many people as possible. I think my mind just shifts and goes back into the right gear. There’s something about going into the studio. As soon as I step into my shoes in wardrobe, and they put the audio pack on,-once you feel that, and makeup are doing your last checks- there is something about no matter what else is going on- your head is there. It’s dark in there. There are lights only in the right spots, so it feels like you’re in the wings of a stage -so you’re on!
K: It’s Sunday, you’re in your lounge, there’s no one else around, a song comes on, and you have to dance. What is that song?
J: (laughing) What is interesting about that is I think it changes. That’s the problem. About 4 weeks ago I would have said Dance Monkey -how can you not dance to that?! There’s just something about that (laughing), but now it is a Billy Eilish song. There’s just something about the beat in the back of it that you can’t not move to.
K: I was reading that you recently took up Ballet again after a hiatus. And as an ex ballet dancer, I was like oh, ok you can go back? Are you going to go back en pointe?
J: That’s a massive question! I was never good at it in the first place (laughing)
SO, I am doing this class every Wednesday. I’ve been going there since November, and we had a little hiatus over Summer, but I’m back in! The best thing that my ballet teacher said to me yesterday was “You’re getting stronger.” I was like “Oh!” I can actually feel it myself too!” The other thing that I wasn’t really good at was turning.
Every time I’ve had to turn, I’ve been heading into what I thought was the right direction (laughing), but yesterday I got three of these in a row, and it felt like I was starting to nail this!
You know what?- around me are all these semi-professional dancers that are working on doing these things most amazingly. It was a struggle, I’m so glad I’m doing it.
What is the funniest thing that has happened during a segment, that maybe the audience would not know that you’ve had to like cover or something embarrassing where no-one’s had any idea unless you’re behind the camera?
J: Oh! There was one where my earring fell out. Generally, I’m in pretty big earrings, and it’s like it just had some kind of projectile behind it and it has not just fallen out it’s like it’s gone voom! And it actually landed right in front of me and made this big sound. So that’s always quite amusing.
The other thing is, I don’t know if you can pick it up, but Mitch and Tim are following along with what I am saying which is lovely of them, but sometimes they can actually start laughing over something I have said and so they’re trying to contain some giggles like when I say there are some “wispy clouds” haha Tim…
So then they are laughing just off to the corner of my eye. I’m getting the counts in my head, I know how long is left, I’ve got to get all of this out, and these guys are sitting over there giggling and trying to keep it quiet.
K: That would be like being in school, and everyone has got the giggles around you, and you’re trying very hard not to laugh. Especially when you’re in front of Australia!
J; MMhhhmmm! (laughing)
K; So what are the attributes that you find in people that really resonate with you and make you walk away thinking “you know, I really like that human!”?
J: Hmmm. I’m not sure how to answer that. The thing that is immediately hopping into my head is all the people that I have interacted with recently that have rubbed me up the wrong way! (laughing)
When you think about that question, why do you like hanging out with these people? And why do you not like hanging out with those people sometimes? Some of the people you are with, you really don’t enjoy being around, it’s hard work.
Whereas when you find people that you actually love, how much better is that feeling?
And just everything sort of inside. I reckon I got a little bit of that last week. I MC’d the Saints AFLW launch- which was so exciting to be a part of. The first year that the Saints have a women’s team and I got to meet all of the girls. I got to read out their name and number. To meet all of these girls, and see how excited and ready and pumped they are just before this new season.
They’re getting to do what they have always wanted to do and never thought they would be able to do. Just that energy rubbed off on me in such a good way, that when I came back in on Monday morning, I was like “Right! We’re going to do this today, this is going to be amazing! This is going to be so good!”
So I think when you interact with positive people you can get so much done in your world too. It’s beautiful.
K: Do you think when you get to 40, you start to realise that you can actually give yourself permission on who you invest your time with? And who’s not so good to spend your time with- like energy conservation.
J: Yeah, I agree. I reckon there is something about turning 40. I was very apprehensive about it (like most). Everyone was asking me if I wanted to have a big party, and my reaction was no, I actually don’t want to do that. I want to go on holiday and get away. So I had friends that I actually like come on this holiday with me (laughing). Then I go off on this romantic thing with my husband, so it was just this really nice week of our lives which was really really good.
K: That’s exactly what I did for my 40th!
J: I reckon that’s the way to go!
K: I took them all to a tropical island
Jane: Yep! So good! When you’ve got the big 4 in front of the number that you are now it’s like you kinda go “I don’t have time for this crap anymore” and you actually feel ok saying that.
Saying no, I’m ok with that and I’ve already moved on! (laughing) rather than thinking about it when I go to sleep, and I think that’s a great way to be! I just wish I had that a little while ago (laughing)
K: Cubby house or treehouse? And why?
J: I had what was called a cubby house built for us when we were kids, but my dad took so long to build it that by the time it was built we didn’t fit in it anymore! Anyway, that became the spot where we stored all of the pool toys!
But for some reason, I mean I grew up watching the Simpson where Bart had Milhouse and a treehouse. So yeah, the media has made me think of a treehouse, but if I go back to my childhood, it was definitely a cubby house.
K: Instincts win
K: What is something that a lot of people don’t know about you?
J: Wanna know how I spend my day off? I take myself out for lunch! And I go out and have a glass of wine- I get them matched to all the dishes I’m ordering, and there are these places that will do half serves of something.
I can have like 6 dishes which is great! So I go out for my own little degustation by myself, which is actually THE best thing in the world. It is THE nicest way to spend an afternoon!
Then I take myself off to the movies. Again, by myself, which is so good! It means no one is disturbing you through it! You get to watch the entire movie, and you get to pick and watch what you want to do!
K: Thank you so much, thank you for giving us your time
The Ten Reasons She Does Not Leave – Busting Myths
by Kirsten Macdonald
WARNING: There are parts of this story that may trigger emotional pain and trauma including PTSD for readers.
A friend commented on Facebook she hoped women of strength would come forward to help raise the voices of women impacted or at risk of domestic violence.
I held some close conversations with my women folk. I am an editor of a magazine, I have a voice, I have a platform, so F*ck the small talk. Let’s do this. Why? We lived it and these are the voices of survivors.
The intervention order doesn’t stop the trigger, the lighter, the acid, the fear or the knife on the day of the attack.
If I get an order, it will make him angrier
It’s all over; he said it was my fault. Years of gas-lighting tell me it is my fault. – Associate Professor of Philosophy Kate Abramson published a paper which is worth reading unpacking the term Gaslighting. The script for gaslighting goes a little like this:
Don’t be so sensitive.
Don’t be paranoid.
I was just joking!
That’s all in you.
It doesn’t mean anything
I don’t know why I did that, you made me so angry, it will never happen again.
Are you proud of yourself? Look what you made me do.
You’re imagining things.
You should be grateful I do so much for you
Don’t get so worked up.
That never happened.
There’s no pattern.
It wouldn’t be any different anywhere else.
You’re just acting out.
I’m worried; I think you’re not well.
How are you going to look after yourself?
These statements on their own are not a case for gaslighting but when it is consistent, constant and insistent, you might be in hot water. You will begin to believe it and this makes it another control mechanism.
My children are now sleeping, their familiar doonas, their toys. Their place of family. Am I going to rip them out at night time and sleep in the car? Sneaking out? They will be terrified. Plus he has the keys and the money. I don’t have access to the money any more. He has the location settings on my phone; he is tracking me. It’s not worth it. It is worth it, but we need to support you more and our community needs to, our court systems, our education and disruption of male rage towards women needs to stop.
If I go to my parent’s or friends’ house, he might hurt them too. I am taking my drama to their home, putting them in danger. – In 2003 Ingrid Poulson was in a police interview regarding an assault by her husband when police drove her back, Grandfather Peter Poulson, 60, Marilyn “Marli” Kongsom, 4, and Sebastian “Bas” Kongsom, 20 months, were found stabbed to death in the driveway.
Where will I end up? I have no money, no home, no way to support my children. Centrelink will need an address. I have no address to put down. I am told there is a 4-month waiting list for an emergency home. But will this be in a nice area? Will it be near good schools? What if I take my children to a neighbourhood that is worse? What if he finds me? Social media makes it more accessible. –Women need to know exactly where to go, how to and what to do.
He says he is sorry and will go to counselling. He cried so hard, and he can barely live with the guilt. He’s a good man, and had a terrible time as a child; I don’t want to stigmatize mental health. I need to help him, be patient and get him help and not trigger him so much. He’s so lovely to everyone. Over the years, he has convinced everyone how difficult I am. Even my family, I will lose everyone in my life. Everyone will hate me, and I will be even more alone. People will doubt me.
‘As reported by The Guardian, Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said the police need to determine whether this was an instance of “a woman suffering significant domestic violence” or “a husband being driven too far. We need to look at every piece of information and to put it bluntly…is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband, or is it an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues he’s suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form?”
He has photographs of me he took, I trusted him, and he said it would make me more attractive to him and make our marriage better. We have been married for 15 years. Why not be body proud and spice things up? But, now he says he will put them online with my phone number and my children will see them. -Since 2016 Revenge Porn – All states in Australia except Tasmania have made it a criminal offence to distribute non-consensual intimate images. The non-consensual sharing of intimate images commonly occurs in the context of domestic and family violence. According to a survey of 4,122 Australians we conducted for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in 2017, one in ten Australian respondents had experienced a nude or sexual image of themselves being distributed to others or posted online without their consent.
She doesn’t leave because they kill. They kill every day.
Every day. Around the world. A woman and her children perceived as property to be kept, damaged, discarded and killed at will in a moment of blinding horrific rage. Yes it happens across other relationship genders, however the numbers speak for themselves and require attention here right now.
Abuse can create a vicious generational cycle of trauma unless there is a positive disruption point and some very big changes in our world.
There may be a small chance families can be healed here.
When broken is left broken, it breaks more things. When broken is recovered, it can create life-changing opportunities for unity. How do I know this? I have lived it.
My hands are shaking because this is real. That means talking about it.
When I was ten years old, my stepfather, who was well liked in our town, he gave piggy backs, made people laugh and smile- beat me and then threw my baby sister across the room. She flew like a basketball and hit the wall with a thud I have forever lodged into my memory. I covered her and my baby brother’s bodies on the bed with my own to protect them while my mother calmed him, claiming responsibility for his aggravation.
Once he accepted her heartfelt apology, she told him she was taking us to the shop to buy a treat to cheer us up and would be back soon. Just her wallet, and us. The three kids. We walked to the corner cafe, 500 metres away. My mother told the cafe owner calmly we were in danger from her husband, could he hide us? He did. Immediately. Mr. Cafe owner you were a lifesaver. We hid out back with his wife.
Not 15 mins later a furious stepfather came in and asked where his wife was. The cafe owner said he had not seen us. A few hours later, under the night sky and cover, we were picked up by my mother’s best friend. We would stay at their family home that night and work out the next plan.
Her cousins came over and organised a caravan from a friend that would be put in a secret location, and we would start putting the pieces back together. My baby sister; an early talker kept saying over and over again “My Daddy hurt my arm.” He had never hurt her before.
Once everyone was calmed, we all went to bed. I slept on a trundle bed of Mum’s friend’s daughter, a sister to me. I remember the house being hushed and then the screaming, shouting and breaking sounds started. He worked out where we were, and he broke down the door. He hit my mother’s friend and threatened to kill her husband; he pushed past, found us, picked up my baby sister and brother and pulled me along.
My mother was screaming, and her friend yelled at me to run. At the time, I remember thinking, man, he must want us to go home if he is going to this trouble. I listened to the urgent yelling “Run Skin run.” (That was my little nick name back then, I had very skinny legs) I stomped on his foot as hard as I could and took off into the blackness of the backyard. An old car was parked out the back, and I scrambled underneath it. I hid there for what felt like hours. The police were called, one was a friend and lived at the end of the street.
I am told there were chains and tape in the boot. We weren’t going home. It appears we were going for a deep dive into the Murray River. Police removed him, and we travelled the countryside under fake names; in a caravan park, a women’s shelter, couching it with family and then finally a long time later, a housing commission home became ours.
The gun was confiscated a few weeks before.
If you ever want to play, hide and seek, I am a champion.
This event was after years of horrific violence, psychological abuse and terror. The local doctor was the patch up man, and our bond with him will never die.
The psychiatrist my stepfather agreed to see at the request of our family doctor informed my stepfather there was nothing wrong with him and my mother was antagonising him, pushing his buttons: I hope you have a long day in hell wrapped in the blanket of a million children’s bruises, sir. My stepfather could have received critical help. This would have flowed through to us.
Graphically depicted parts of this article have been removed due to respect of sensitivity to those triggered by PTSD.
He was likeable. He showed kindness too. He had good traits. These two components and opposites don’t sit well do they? They make us feel uncomfortable. When we “monstify” the man, we don’t possibly think its our mate, or the bloke next door, our workmate or a relative.
Scared to leave? You better believe she was. By staying she believed she was keeping us alive. But she did leave and we were lucky and we are alive.
There are some stories too horrific to repeat, and I don’t want to share them. I have seen psychologists; very objective ones, including blokes weep with my personal stories. Transference is pretty much inescapable. They are stories that belong to the voice of others in my family too, and I do not wish to take that away. We had a support system, we had friends, and we had a whole lot of healing. Years of counselling and psychological understanding. We are resilient. Because we had SUPPORT.
But there is a stigma in telling this story. What creates stigma? Assumptions. Let’s smash those apart shall we?
Were we from a lower socio economic background? Nope. It doesn’t matter if we were, but we weren’t. No one deserves to be unsafe.
We must be all really fu**ed up now, right? Nope.
All abusers have terrible parents right? Nope. Some boys are taught to respect women no exception and yet it STILL HAPPENS
Intense education and psychological scaffolding helps to create incredibly mentally healthy adults capable of reason, rational and emotional balance and an authentic understanding of problems and human behaviour.
Does it mean you will become an abuser? Not always, no.
It can actually generate perfectionism in your own parenting, and a really strong instinct on what NOT to do. You imagine the ideal childhood you didn’t have, and you take from the examples you did have, and you build that family with significant intent. My sister and I can attest to this. It made us want to be the safest, best parents in the world. We try not to be overprotective. We were taught nurture by our womenfolk, bravery and smarts, resilience, and how to pick danger. It took us a long time to trust men. It might take us the rest of our lives, to be honest. Our mum remarried, and he is a good man. He taught us that not all men hit. We had some beautiful uncles and family friends who taught us about good men too. Really good men. Uncle Steve, we love you. You will never know the example you set at the most crucial time.
Because we had the tools, family and love, we developed hope. I remember one night, he found us and was walking around the house. We were all in mums bed, hands over mouths, not making a sound. She whispered to us: one day we won’t live like this, one day you will all be grown up and safe and have beautiful lives. She was 100% right. She was a hard worker; we all got that from her. There was nothing she could not learn to fix or repair, and she was strict, sometimes too much for our liking, but I think she needed to be because there had to be boundaries and control in place.
We drove a shitty car, and that’s its own story, I had a red matchbox sports car we would make-believe drive around the carpet. No rust, or long walks. No gear stick that came off in your hand. One day when we were safe… I have the same one today, but I can drive it. This little beauty on four wheels reminds me of where we have come from and arrived, and it makes me smile every time I get behind the wheel and take the roof off. It is a shiny red physical metaphor. We never not live with story of “it”, but it has not defined us; such is the power of transformation.
Fact: Homelessness doesn’t just happen to poor people.
My mother was successful. We had a new 4WD, lived in a lovely home with a yard, a tree swing and the best treehouse you have ever seen. My mother read Enid Blyton until we breathed the Magic Faraway Tree and we came from good stock. It’s beside the point. It crosses all bridges, street names and car types, bank account balances and titles. We grew up in a nice house, and then we moved to the town ghetto, and I can tell you it crosses both sides of the tracks. We were safer in the ghetto.
Fact: Not all poor people are useless, generational traumas waiting to be rescued. Some are doing a great job of saving themselves, they just need the rest of the world to create opportunities for this to be successful.
Fact: Not all women in this situation are weak.
They may be empaths, seeking to heal the wounds of another and are deeply compassionate. Little boys carry trauma, and while they might try very hard to be good men when they grow up, this trauma can develop and seek violence as a means of control and perpetuated fear. Which means women can and do fall in love with the charismatic ‘not-so-good- man.’ They might be warrior women who quite simply fall in love with an abuser. When violence first starts to bubble, the little boy within can be fixed. He doesn’t mean to… here’s the thing- you are never going to fix him. Only intense psychotherapy, professionals and a changed society can try and do this.
Sometimes women have not experienced domestic violence and don’t see the signs, they actually do not see it coming and sometimes they have, but it isn’t until it happens to their children that the self-realisation of ‘this is not okay and we are not safe’ stirs change. It all comes in different shapes, sizes and psychological profiles.
Sometimes a man will physically intimidate a woman, she makes a stand, someone else pulls him up, incorrect behaviour is identified, recognised, he goes to anger management, he takes responsibility for his actions, gets rehabilitation, is accountable, and he never does it again. This is a beautiful outcome. But sadly, it is rare for a whole lot of reasons. It doesn’t have to be this way.
What can you do?
1) When you see shitty behaviour you can see reduces the other person, or makes them feel unsafe or humiliated, speak up. It is your business. Your taxpayer dollars pay for our mental health, the judicial system, etc. you get it. It’s your problem. It’s our problem. Our tribe. Our people. Our species. Violence against women is estimated to cost the Australian economy $22 billion a year. Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and their children. Women and children are dying in our neighbourhoods. End of story.
2) A mother and her children have to have somewhere to go immediately that is safe and not an overnighter, and NOT a car. Once it is established that a woman and her children are at threat of harm, a woman should have access to instant escape. This means interstate protection with access to a secret location where her whereabouts are known to police only. This way, she is not committing a kidnapping offence and won’t be plastered all over the internet when she does a “runner.” (cringe) There is always someone who can validate. Consider providing a haven.
3) Stop using negative language, why don’t they just leave, —all untrue. Use positive language and do something to help. Change the language. The language you may have heard and come to accept or even used:
He shoved her, but she pushed him first, if you are going to give out you are going to get it back.
Why don’t they just leave?
Homeless people could get benefits, they don’t have to live like that
He shouldn’t have done that, but it isn’t like he punched her in the face or anything.
I never saw him hit her, well I never saw anything.
People say things all the time, he is so loving with his kids, there’s no way he’d hurt them.
I don’t want to get involved, what if he turns up at my place?
I think there might be a bit of biffo, not sure on that one.
How did she fall? It didn’t make much sense, but he doesn’t look like the type.
I think there was a bit of push and shove.
He messed with her sexually, you know, but it’s not like they aren’t married or anything.
I think it was just a once off.
It’s none of our business.
6) Not all domestic violence is the same. There is no single profile. If you notice early behaviour of a boy, young man or grown man that is intimidating to a woman, encourage him to seek intensive counselling. These controlling, and destructive defence mechanisms can be altered, re-education is possible and so is a positive growth mindset. This does not have to be concreted in, it can be changed, but we need to be very aware and have a low tolerance, and act quickly. Put simply; it must be, otherwise actions transform into senseless, murderous and rage filled inexcusable heinous crimes.
7) If someone begins to tell you their story and it’s uncomfortable, please hold the space for them.
It will be uncomfortable. These things aren’t nice to hear. But there should be no such thing as feeling you are oversharing when you have chosen people to be vulnerable with and hear your story. Positive communication is the heart of every healing and the continuation of a healthy species. If someone brings this up, don’t get weird because the vibe dropped at a dinner party, feel honoured that this person chose this time and place for their voice to be heard. It might just be a whisper. But allow.
8) Regular reporting and accurate profiling and exercising the proper use of the judicial system. If he’s been violent and he breaks his AVO, lock him up. Lock him up, or pay for the funerals and visit their graves every single day of the rest of your life and ask yourself why this woman or child is no longer here.
9) SPEAK UP—this way the validating testimonial can be used to establish the truth.
The statistics scream across the lands: it is women and children that are dying by the hands of men. It is women and children who are being abused by men in epic proportions and have done for a very long time. Men can and do suffer from domestic violence, however, our pondering here is where the proof shows the biggest threat. Let’s change this NOW.
If you are in immediate danger you should leave and seek police assistance.
IF YOU ARE AT RISK YOU NEED A PLAN. When women leave, they are at their highest risk of harm, so be smart and back yourself. Leave at a safe time. Get a support network, seek legal advice. Do your research and find out where you can go if you have to do it urgently. Save money he does not know about, keep it somewhere he cannot find or with a trusted relative. Have a trusted person know where you are, and inform police but keep your profile low. Do not use social media, and if you are in a controlled relationship, one where you may not be physically hurt but are being threatened, don’t risk it. Some women don’t see it coming and never believe he can go to that level. Keep records of threatening text messages, and report incidences always. A trail means evidence, and establishing evidence for yourself if needed is another means of backing yourself. Keep yourself safe. For more tips see this resource: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/domestic-violence/stay-safe/leaving-safely
What do we need from our leaders?
Better equipped shelters that can take more women and children and give them privacy along with instant access to counselling, food, clothing and a monetary fund of emergency assistance money. It needs to be unbreakable, consistent and available AT ALL TIMES. Let us also include comprehensive free counselling by the best professionals, and children must not be handballed from case manager to case manager like a tennis ball. This would be an excellent area for increasing private social enterprise investment.
Safehouses for those at risk; I know several people whom by word of mouth have spare rooms, or separate dwellings available for women hiding with their children, with only a handful of people know the whereabouts, and secure anonymity is provided. Let’s make this a national scheme.
Use the laws we have to prosecute with accuracy and swiftness! Our judicial system needs to step up, the entire show needs to. For God’s sake, what the actual F? My experience was over 30 years ago, yet here we are.
We need to obliterate the stigma, identify the threat and step up, speak out and reverse engineer our perceptions- one that helps to triage domestic violence to the point of it becoming a rarity. The cycle can and does stop. I am a testament to this. You can absolutely change a woman’s life, a child’s life and redirect the path into wonderful. You change a man’s life too. But it starts with you. Fuck the small talk.
For Hannah and the many before you x
If you are in danger, ring 000 or go directly to your nearest police station.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
https://www.safesteps.org.au – We assist women and their children experiencing family violence through our 24/7 phone line and specialist support services. 24/7 family violence response phone line
1800 015 188
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25). More information is available at Beyond Blue.org.au and lifeline.org.au.
The Orange Door is a free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children.
You should contact The Orange Door if:
someone close to you is hurting you, controlling you or making you feel afraid – such as your partner, family member, carer or parent(s)
you are a child or young person who doesn’t have what you need to be OK
you are worried about the safety of a friend or family member
you need more support with the care of children, e.g. due to money issues, illness, addiction, grief, isolation or conflict
you are worried about the safety of a child or young person
you need help to change your behaviour and stop using violence in your relationships
The Orange Door can work with you on your own, or together with your family members depending on your situation. The Orange Door welcomes everyone, regardless of migration status. You can seek help or support if you are a migrant or a refugee or do not have permanent residency. Workers at The Orange Door also know that people continue to be affected by family violence long after the violence stops. If you have experienced family violence in the past and would like help now, contact The Orange Door.
The Women’s House is a welcoming, safe and supportive engagement hub tailored to the needs of all women (trans and cis) who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.
We strongly welcome Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander women to our space. The Women’s House recognises that a gender-specific response is needed to address homelessness. Women who access the house may be socially isolated, in crisis or experiencing housing difficulties due to a range of reasons, including family violence, poverty, sexual violence, physical and mental illness, trauma and problematic drug and alcohol use.
DVConnect is a not-for-profit organisation that has provided state-wide specialist domestic, family and sexual violence crisis counselling, intervention, information and pathways to safety (emergency housing and refuge) for over 18 years.
DVConnect operates four telephone helplines; they are Womensline, Mensline, Sexual Assault Helpline, Pets In Crisis and 1800 RESPECT (Queensland operator).
The Vinnies Women’s Crisis Centre is a service of the St Vincent de Paul Society SA, to complement our existing men’s shelter and support women with short term, emergency accommodation. Guests must be referred by government and agency channels, which include the domestic violence help line and the South Australian Police. The Vinnies Women’s Crisis Centre is unable to accept private bookings.
Hobart Women’s Shelter provides support and a coordinated approach to assist women and children to address their housing, legal, emotional support, health, education, employment, financial support and other needs. Please feel free to call us on 03 6273 8455 between the hours of 9am and 5pm – Monday to Friday.
What did 2019 teach me? Well I bring certain hard learned lessons aka Gifts into the new year of 2020.
The last seven years altered me in ways I could never have predicted, wanted to or dreamed of. 2019 delivered a doozy of delights. Lessons encrypted so tightly it was like trying to force open a Da Vinci codex.
Learning came faster than QANDA quips on climate change, and my heart was broken and mended repeatedly. There was a shower floor moment- a first…
A tiled floor is a tough place from which to get up and not because of my dodgy hips, I am actually quite nimble (old ballerina brag) but because it just got a bit too much. Life got too loud. The words “multiple haemorrhages in your brain, but its okay, you’re still stable”- were delivered.
A juxtaposition if I have ever heard one. Doesn’t make sense, does it? What a quandary. Humph and bother. I think the word hemorrhage means bleeding and bleeding into your brain isn’t delightful. It’s not a cut on your knee; you can’t put a stitch in it. And it’s not totally dire, because I am still here. I am completely and utterly, loudly alive.
My demands on myself to serve others became too big, and I personally think God’s head was shaking with a sigh, looking at me asking “are you quite finished yet?” Because there was universe work to do, and I was not keeping up my end of the bargain.
Conservation of energy and dedication to purpose with purpose was required POST HASTE.
Wrangling control of one’s life when you have become accustomed to doing so to survive is an art form. When the worlds smartest doctors just can’t fix you they can end up avoiding you because its all too complicated- becoming the master of your fate is a pretty healthy option.
The captain of my ship. Invictus anyone? Never a control freak of anyone else’s life- just my own- my destiny was in my hands loaded up to the titanium clips with faith. Are you laughing yet? A good joke I once heard was if you want you to make God laugh tell God your plans.
Because often what we have in mind for ourselves doesn’t even come close to the good things that we have the potential to enjoy.
But that will come later. Much later. I got up from the shower floor feeling like the last round of a punch drunk boxer, I quite literally after crying every ounce of fluid out of my body, snotty and exhausted. It was time now. One foot, then the other. Of course, it had to all to come out. We can’t be fierce and brave all the time.
This moment is the one we shall call surrender. To truly surrender, we must first recognise a few things. These were items on a spiritual shopping list I thought I already had in my pantry. It turns out the labels aren’t always accurate. More information is needed!
So what did I learn?
Emotions can be toxic. People have emotions. Therefore people can be toxic. Sometimes more toxic than Springfield lake. Fish with three eyes are the least of your problems. It isn’t always obvious either.
Toxic people are experiencing deep pain and trauma and have inadequate coping mechanisms or may have developed some tricky psychological schemas to deal with stuff.
Very often, it doesn’t belong to you and is actually none of your business.
It is instead a malady of misaligned perceptions. Sometimes on both sides too. Wish them well, wish them, love, reduce your time with them and do not make room for toxic behaviour in your life. A dear friend said to me; it only happens when you make the space for it. Accountability bites, doesn’t it? This one felt like a million piranas. Pay more attention to your environmentally supportive shopping habits, your garden, and supporting your community and family or fly a kite. Energy flows where your attention goes.
Cliche magic here humans; shine brightly and don’t apologise for your shiny bits even when other people think they are not shiny but rather pieces of glass sticking in their eyeballs. Because those “pieces of glass” are actually diamonds to others. Others that wrap you in love and you wrap em right back.
You are you. In the words of the great Seuss: Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
Authenticity doesn’t appeal to everyone. Our need for social acceptance is a powerful desire, and subconsciously it can make us do weird things. Like toning our enthusiasm or joy down, for fear of rejection or “the look of disapproval” There is a strong urge to run backwards and not upset anyone by being you. Don’t listen. Success is not the antithesis to friendship! Otherwise you don’t have a friendship. Fear of success can be very real if you are also scared of losing relationships because of perceptions surrounding the so called “success.”
Fear of success and failure are genuine elements for those who have learned to turn down their volume as a child. Success in life in all its forms, but particularly happiness, intelligence, skills or unfiltered joy and even financial wealth can be a trigger for others.
If you are busy following your path and loving the heck out of those around you, you won’t have time to judge anyone else. There won’t be any room on the broom. You don’t need any excuses to be fabulous or unfabulous. It just is.
Follow your path and be 100% you. Unless you are farting in public, scratching your crotch and picking your nose amongst other yucky things, cos that is just gross, my sister doesn’t like listening to people chew, and I can’t handle toenail clippings.
There needs to be some social engineering for our evolving sensibilities right? NO! Narcissists and gaslighters must also be identified, and you need to move gently away from this sphere.
Toxic emotions are not conducive to peace. A sphere captures bad vibes like a noxious gas.
When we shine, we prosper.
Protect your positivity like a newborn baby you have wrapped in your arms. You have the right to experience joy as much as you want when you want. You are entitled to very little in life, but joy is one of them. So is sadness. The light and shade dance so eloquently together they can break your heart.
The next cosmic whopper and I might very well be singing to the choir here, but it is okay not to be okay. You are whatever you are, and the emotions you are feeling right now are real and do not need validation. You are experiencing them. They just are.
You do not need to be stoic — no one hands out trophies for it, or a skippy badge.
When we fight feeling to make everyone around us feel better, we sometimes rob them from their moment of learning. We can get very quickly caught up like a kitten in string until it is so tight it threatens to strangle us. Too many threads can choke the mind and body.
Often when are the central figure of perceived strength in people’s lives, and we get vulnerable or focus on ourselves, it can make people feel abandoned or unsettled, restless and fearful. Their need for us to remain the same, or be restored quickly is strong because it helps them feel better. Safe. Anchored.
But here’s the thing, you should be no-one’s anchor. For if you are theirs, how do they steer their ship when it is meant to sail?
Never rob someone of the opportunity to grow and become strong in their own right even if it means watching them skin their knees along the way. This can be torture for the empath to witness without taking control of the situation and saving. Lifeguards are not needed here. A cheer squad can be good. People are allowed to have feelings, and it doesn’t mean they want you to fix them.
I learned the statement “I am having strong feelings about x right now, and this is okay. I will come back to you if that’s ok.” People can get angry when we feel things, and we can feel anxious when people are having a case of the feels, and we don’t know what they are. The answer: COMMUNICATE!
When you permit yourself, you permit others. By neglecting to do this, you can also plant seeds of guilt within yourself, causing pain in your body and mind. This is toxic on every level.
Let the tears fall. Tears never hurt anyone. They might make people feel awfully uncomfortable. Still, space can be made for moisture falling from eyes, and when this happens, it can be sacred.
On the flip side, choose your friends carefully. Hello Captain Obvious. An old one but one that keeps popping up like a nasty case of herpes for me in 2019. Vulnerability is powerful, but it needs to be expressed with those you trust.
People that do not have the energy to respect you don’t need you in their life. Vulnerability is a gift. Thanks, Brene. Your lessons in boundaries were rippers.
Zombie apocalyptic movies taught me two things- Woody Harrelson will never lose his cool, and the double-tap is a metaphor to life. You need to learn lessons, but you don’t need to learn them twice. Placing people on a pedastool, they didn’t ask to be placed on causes an ouchy.
Family is life. Blood relative or soul relative, don’t forget your family. We become so disconnected today we can forget who our tribe is. Childhood is powerful. Family bonds are sacred. We don’t always agree. Sometimes we fight. Even if you aren’t close or are disconnected physically- family is essential.
Every morning, I have a little ritual where I ask God to watch over every family member and send them my love. They get it. If you love your family, treat them well. Treat them like the jewels they are.
Because nothing lasts forever, and humans are particularly susceptible to death. It can separate us physically and make us wish for things we can’t get back.
Feeling sorry for yourself and a having a shower floor moment is going to happen. But only for a while. Getting those suppressions out is crucial. Since 2012 I learned the key to optimism in action and the difference between ignorant positivity and positive living. Unconscious positivity means you don’t acknowledge the seriousness of what is going on and have a good case of denial.
Positive living means you know the different versions, and you understand the ability of the human body and the planet to overcome just about anything, so you do everything in your power to help make this happen. So allow self-pity momentarily.
Feeling sorry for yourself is like stubbing your tow and peeling the scab off every day, never allowing it to heal.
Don’t like it?
Change it. Deal with it.
Wrangle with it. Learn it, understand it, reflect, ponder, and you will prosper. Flip it, reverse engineer it if you need to. Feeling sorry for ourselves only serves one purpose- it turns us into victims of life. Life is a gift, and you are a conquerer, a rider of the wave, a humble student.
Power of the most beautiful, incredible and lightest joy is at your very fingertips always like a sea breeze on the fringes of your heart waiting to come in.
If we cannot receive love or welcome the flow of abundance in our lives with the faith required, we cannot ever truly experience it.
It is like living in a steel-lined box, 1000 miles from anywhere and wondering why no one ever visits.
Everything in the universe has rhythm, so you can dance with it, or sit in the corner. It’s up to you.
Say no thank you and remember sometimes people’s self-importance is a mirage. It isn’t real, and you don’t have to buy it.
Don’t think you have learned 1 through to 9, because just when you think you have they give you another big fat lesson to absorb. So go buy an Alpaca, they have big eyes, they love to listen and something tells me they don’t need to stand on pedastools.
Finally, the wise words of Maya Angelou
“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
I confess there were only a few swear words muttered with the lights last year, even though they were a complete Clusterf*ck.
Here is to 2020; a year of possibilities and potential.