The Blazing Heart of Community

The Blazing Heart of Community

The Blazing Heart of Community

Words by Kirsten Macdonald

Like many all over the world, our hearts are left swollen and aching as we witness on our screens and for some in their backyards; the scorched earth and hellish sky.


Beach blue now engulfed with smoke haze and embers of the worst kind; scarring the land with unprecedented ferocity. Beneath with sooty tears and anger lies the desperation of people fighting in what has become one of the worst National disaster bushfires in Australian history. The devastation runs deep and will continue long after the last flame as sputtered out. For the impact of wildfire is a destructive force that will echo forever.


As we heard the stories from friends and family defending their homes, like so many, we felt desperately sad, angry and frustrated, helpless. 

Our fellow tribe were left without water, listening to the cries of dying animals, burning fauna and drought-impacted earth baked to concrete under the glazing sear of intense heat. Lives were lost, people and wildlife, pets and livestock. Gone. And bushfire season hasn’t even begun for many areas. 

We started asking those impacted “Who are the organisations there now, helping rebuild and doing work person to person, on the ground?” The resounding response was BlazeAid

Started after Black Saturday in 2009 by Kilmore East farmers Rhonda and Kevin Butler, BlazeAid is volunteer based and has helped rebuild fences and lift the spirits of people who are often facing their second or third flood event after years of drought, or devastating losses through bushfires. 


BlazeAid volunteers work in a disaster-affected area for many months, not only helping individuals and families but also helping rebuild the local communities. 


The 100% Australian run registered charity currently has 14 base camps around Australia helping on the ground. 


So Kate and I packed the boot with goodies and made the trip to Lexton Victoria to meet with Bruce Hindson, co-ordinator of one of the camps. 


We drive on a dusty road into a popup township of campers, caravans and tents, we soon realise we are in good company, a thriving and bustling place. The trailers are lined up ready to go out for the next job, each one equipped with the tools needed to build fences and make repairs. But BlazeAid isn’t just about fences. As Bruce explains, it’s really about people. 


“Talking to people on the phone is okay, but actually dropping in and having a cup of tea, face to face can make all the difference. You have to meet people, shake their hand, check-in and listen. People underestimate what this means. When you have a team of people staying nearby at a hall, or a footy ground that are there to help you get back on your feet and get the fences mended, it can change everything for a person. Fences are expensive to replace, and people have sometimes had everything wiped out. You got no fences? You got no farm. To help them with an ear, a conversation and a sense of community go a long way” says Bruce. 


With trailers stationed in every state, BlazeAid has anything from 15 to 110 people turn up to help with a carefully planned roster, logistics and rebuilding set up. People may give 2 hours of their time or two months and the dedication of return folks each year gives you goosebumps. 


The Lions Club are there today, donating their time and helping set up a marquee tent for more room. 


Bruce and his wife Janice tell us the community generosity is fantastic. They tell us the story of one night everyone was at the local pub, the publican put on a special meals night at a discount price for all the BlazeAid crew. When they went to pay for their meals, 2 x locals had covered the lot. “People look after each other, and there are so many more stories like this, it happens all the time,” says Bruce. 


The team in the kitchen are working away and tell us there is a real “get this done” mentality along with lots of laughs and big smiles and you get the feeling this is a marathon, not a sprint. 


“People think once the fire or flood has gone, it’s all over with. But this is not the case. It’s like a funeral, at first the casseroles roll in, then 6 weeks later everyone starts to get on with their life. This is often when families are only just beginning to come to terms with what has happened and wondering how the hell they are going to get going again” says Hindson. 


“I am not going to lie to you, there have been times when we have rolled up, I have met a farmer and thought I would see him hanging from a tree by the end of the week; the devastation runs that deep. But what do you know, a week later the bloke and his family are smiling, they have some future to look to and feel a bit of support. That’s what happens.”


A sobering thought.  


For many, they might not have lost their lives but may have 200 head of sheep badly burned, or wildlife living on the property, ancient trees protected on a generational property. 

Animals they have raised have died. Or perhaps they might have hundreds of acres of crops ruined, years of work gone in a moment. They may have already been suffering from drought, and this type of disaster is the straw to break the camel’s back. Let’s not forget sacred sites and the lands of native animals close to the country’s heart and soul. 

Suzi and Ruth are busy in the kitchen. They tell us; “People come in each day covered in soot,  smoke, they’ve had a hard day, sweaty, dirty exhausted…Then even after all they have done for the day or dealt with, there is storytelling, laughter and jokes. From randy goats taking a fancy to the latest volunteer to the little pleasures of a freshly made scone; there is a community here. This is what Australia is made of.” 

An operation like BlazeAid costs anywhere up to $5000 a week for a camp to run and facilitate. 


Relying on volunteers, business sponsorship and the help of the donations from the public it is a 100% charity. It relies on these funds to help it continue to grow, engineer trailers and get on the road to having those conversations to those that need help the most. 


We know there are many who are helping by donating to major organisations, but it was an easy decision for us to support BlazeAid and move from feeling despair and take some action. 


We have chosen to donate $20 from every new Subscription in February to BlazeAid. We currently give $2 from every subscription to Vision Australia. So your gift is supporting two incredible charities, both of which are hands-on and help those in need of restoration. 


For the month of February, we are dedicating every edition from our online Magazine, Podcast and App to the stories of those impacted by the Bushfires, because we believe that the unfiltered truth of our collective stories is the fabric of life. It is the one thing everyone has; a story. 

At Ponderings, we need to hold that space for these stories to be told. So know that not only will you be supporting the creation of this space but also BlazeAid and Vision Australia. 


Fleishman is in Trouble

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. 




Sorry I Am Too Tired To Friend

Now faced with the grown-up responsibilities of raising a family, paying bills, a mortgage, working and raising little humans and sleep deprivation. There has been a shift.






Five More Minutes

Five More Minutes

Five More Minutes

Words by Julia Lorent

My mother was amazing.

When you look upon her life and what she was able to achieve it truly highlights something many people forget; adversity doesn’t have to define you. 

She was strong but didn’t really know it. With six children, including a daughter who was intellectually challenged, she needed to be. Mum was a lot of fun and enjoyed a good laugh. Life was hard in our house, but because it was filled with so much love and laughter; these became sacred bonds- unbreakable. 

This family of mine is etched in humour and support; we are there for each other, we argue like hell, but we love each other very much. Interestingly, all of us have careers focussed on helping others. I believe this is a legacy my Mum would be very proud of. 

Not many people I know have the relationship that we have; it often draws comment from those we know.

It is 100% because of our parent’s influence. A football team of kids would be carted from sport to sport in the car, and if anyone was in need, my parents were the ones to help people out. Material possessions were of no importance. 

Tragedy smashed through our door uninvited at age 46 for my mother and our family when the love of her life (my dad) died. With six children, no income, no life insurance and a broken heart; times were beyond tough. My mother was a strikingly beautiful lady; very Nigella-esque but without the sexy mannerisms. The next tragedy was the disconnection with her married friends. Husbands were hitting on her, and she became a perceived threat, she was often blamed. The womanhood did not support her. 

These were all tragic events that saw her trying to be very strong and support six grieving children who lost their dad.

It must have felt incredibly unfair. We all had our individual and collective issues about the sudden and unexpected loss of our father; totally overwhelming and insurmountable. She also had an intellectually challenged daughter who had bouts of intense violence and a system that echoed back with no help or answers whatsoever. There was just no help. Here was a woman trying to make sense of her own life, grief and heartache then depression while wondering the whole time what the hell she did to deserve it.

But somehow we got through it, not unscathed, but through. Even when we were at our lowest, our mother’s love and support kept us together.

Her one true friend and companion were cigarettes; she thought they got her through; it was her time out, her thing. While she always had intentions of QUITTING, they too turned on her. She was diagnosed with advanced Lung Cancer. She QUIT instantly, but it was too late. I try not to overthink about it because it fills me with sadness that when her friends should have been there for her, the only friend she could trust was her cigarettes.

It is very sad and breaks my heart to this day. We loved her deeply. 

We all ended up with a very strange sense of joint humour, which often bubbles up when tragedy strikes. It is what get’s us through, and we have our parents to thank for this. Dark humour can be an excellent tool. I wish we recognized it at the time. I wish we told her more how damn strong she was, acknowledged her more and just had five more minutes.

Only 5, how good would that be?


My partner Colin was definitely the love of my life.

Rather good looking, Colin worked hard, fun and very kind, he wanted to travel and work overseas, he, we, had big plans. He loved my mum, and she adored him, my whole family did. 

Colin came from a home with an abusive alcoholic father who used to bash his mother frequently until Colin was old enough to threaten that if he did it again, there would be consequences. Brave. 

Colin loved a drink and a smoke, and by all accounts, he was a normal healthy 25-year-old young man. Until that day, 26 November, when he passed away from a blood clot to the brain due to damaged blood vessels caused by smoking.  

There were no goodbyes, it was sudden, totally unexpected and such a waste of a life.

It is just wrong, he was 25 years old. I still feel so cheated. I never got to thank him for saving me so many times after my dad died or another family tragedy. I was so angry, angry with him for smoking – angry at the cigarette companies – angry at the world. He was always going to quit before he turned 30. That day never came.   

We had this incredible once in a lifetime connection.

He felt like home and was safe and my dearest, most absolute best friend. I miss him every day. If I only had five more minutes to chat with him about life, about what happened today or ask him how his day was…

Little did I know that this would not be the only time I would be what I call the – Hidden Victims of Cigarettes.

Anyone that has experienced the crippling anguish from losing a loved one knows how close it can come to derail your life. Instead of letting my grief beat me, I decided to channel it into helping others fight their own demons. For the next two decades, I would leave no stone unturned to find answers in helping people with addiction and practices, with no judgement. For the judgement of others is too harsh a force to be reckoned with. The result has been a career forged in helping others, and it has been successful. I think people understand I don’t judge and I have the skills to help them navigate a better life. 

I am the founder and principal practitioner for Melbourne Quit Smoking Clinic, Melbourne Clinic of Hypnotherapy, and The Savvy Changemaker.

Neuroplasticity, CBT and Hypnotherapy combined with a full range of therapies have formed the spine of a full offering to help people and seeing people step through their tragedies, their ideologies to form new confidence and health. 

When I see people flourish and live a beautiful life, full of authenticity and richness because of the work we have achieved together; it is the biggest reward I could ever ask for. 

The lives of those who love you are worth saving, not just your own.


Addictions steal our loved ones away, leaving them craving five minutes in a lifetime of longing. Torture of the heart is tragic. We never think we are hurting those we love by relying on outside substances to cope. This can be behaviours, cigarettes, drugs and food. We have within us the ability to change, and no one needs to be alone. 

2020 is the year you give back five minutes, if not for yourself, then for those you love and who love you. 

To get in touch with Julia, contact her on + 61 412 810 078 or email

Visit her site for more information about her services.

Sorry I Am Too Tired To Friend

Now faced with the grown-up responsibilities of raising a family, paying bills, a mortgage, working and raising little humans and sleep deprivation. There has been a shift.






Changing and Creating Change

Changing and Creating Change

Changing and Creating Change

by Ponderings Radio

Changing and Creating Change

Words by Melissa Griffiths

We all want to change something in society; however, often we forget that we must change ourselves first.  

If you look to other people in the world who have created monumental change like Gandhi, you realise that they must have had some inner shift emotionally, mentally and spiritually, which enabled them to succeed. 

As Gandhi rightly said, “We must become the change we want to create” and if you can realise the true meaning of this then you become more powerful than you think you are.

I know from my own experiences over the last few years; you have to work on yourself continually; re-evaluate where you are at and how you are going on your journey in life. You also have to take time out to be yourself, rest the body and recharge your batteries. 



Learning to be comfortable with change and changing yourself is not an easy thing to do sometimes.  

It is essential to understand this. Any pain you go through as you change or when things become uncomfortable, you will realise it is worth it; because you will recognise the result will be a better version of you. 

People like myself creating perception change in society toward transgender people do so in many different ways. I continue to share my story on social media through a variety of ways. Using positive quotes to demonstrate a point I am making or sharings aspect helps. Also by writing in the media or speaking on radio or tv or at an event has enabled my message to educate others about the challenges we face as well as how to respectfully treat transgender people in the workplace whether they are transitioning or already have transitioned. 

Being able to talk at various events such as the National Employment Solutions Conference about transgender from all angles and other associated subject matter like advocacy, bullying, leadership and mental health has enabled me to get a broader understanding of the challenges workplaces and society faces. This helps to stimulate change more positively and respectfully.


I know that anyone who creates change will always encounter some form of resistance. 


However, with resistance, it can, for the most part, be overcome. When people are prepared to listen, they often recognise that it may only be their unconscious bias creating resistance. They realise the change you are advocating for in society and the inclusivity you are building.   Also, be prepared to show how your change will make workplaces or society better, as this will go a long way towards your goals to be successfully implemented.


For tips for employers for a transgender person transitioning in your workplace and to find out more about Melissa you can visit and her podcast


Sorry I Am Too Tired To Friend

Now faced with the grown-up responsibilities of raising a family, paying bills, a mortgage, working and raising little humans and sleep deprivation. There has been a shift.






Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

Does 2020 Spark Your Joy? Pondering Fearlessly With Karen Brooks

by Karen Brooks Ponderings Magazine

Does the Thought of 2020 “Spark Joy” For You?

words by Karen Brooks

It seems appropriate to raise the spectre of the decluttering dynamo, Marie Kondo – someone who inspired an unparalleled cleaning frenzy – as, Janus-faced, we look both backwards and forwards as we reach the threshold of a new year. 

The truth is whether you “Kon-maried” your home or not, over the last twelve months it’s been almost impossible to declutter our hearts and minds as social media and the news are filled with stories more likely to raise despair, angst, anger and frustration. Whether it’s the appalling state of our politics and politicians (and not just in Australia), where not only have humane policies and platforms been belittled and trashed by a variety of leaders and media commentators as “woke”, “lefty” or the product of “inner-city elites”, but climate science has been turned into something akin to a religion/faith which you either choose to believe in or not. 

Just when you think it cannot get worse, as our country burns and lives and livelihoods are tragically destroyed, the Prime Minister goes on holidays offering, as he is wont to do, “thoughts and prayers.” 

What saddens many people (and it breaks my heart) is how denialism, inhumanity, lies and complacency have not only become normalised, but entrenched in our politics and sections of the media and thus cultural conversations, causing huge ideological rifts in families, communities and the nation. 

Remember the adage? Divided we fall.

As the year draws to a close, it’s more important than ever to try and carry over whatever positives we can wrest into 2020 – a year that signifies balance and clear vision – seeing the “truth” of a situation. 

If there’s anyone who has come to exemplify truth and “de-cluttering” the fabricated information we’re being fed, who has cut through the BS, exposing those who wilfully peddle it for what they are, it would be Greta Thunberg, wouldn’t it? 

Described as a “lightning rod” for the climate change movement, Greta is that and so much more. She’s an ardent, positive, no-nonsense voice in a world filled with mainly old white men proffering lame excuses and outright lies, despite the evidence around them and which many of us experience on a daily basis, insulting us all in the process.


This young woman has united people across the globe. Using protest and affirmative action, she’s inspired us to shake off inertia and use our voices, our presence – digitally and physically. 

Greta has reminded us of not only of the power and passion of youth, put the conservative older generations on notice, but our own clout. Whether it’s climate change, Indigenous, LGBTQI and women’s rights, gun violence, political and corporate corruption, the overwhelming importance of the arts and a free press in any society, we’re no longer content to sit by and bear witness to our freedoms, rights, our future being trashed, ransomed and sold.

Contrary to our politicians’ insistence that they represent “quiet Australians”, they’re exposed. They don’t and never have: they represent self and shareholder/corporate interests. 

This is why, more than ever, we need to raise our voices – together. Instead of emphasising our differences as our binary-minded leaders do, telling us we’re either left/right, hetero/homo, religious/non-religious, city/country, pro/against climate change (which is ridiculous – are you pro or against a cancer diagnosis?), believer/non-believer, PC/unPC, refuse to be categorised and aspire to demonstrate we’ve far more in common than they allow. 

Not only will uniting and collectively acting and demanding change spark some much needed joy, but it’s our only chance to show we care; to shore up a brighter and clearer future for 2020 and beyond. In other words, as Greta illustrates, we must be the change we want to see. 

Happy New Year. 


Sorry I Am Too Tired To Friend

Now faced with the grown-up responsibilities of raising a family, paying bills, a mortgage, working and raising little humans and sleep deprivation. There has been a shift.






EIGHT Wacky Fads That Should Never Come Back

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.   


Sorry I Am Too Tired To Friend

Now faced with the grown-up responsibilities of raising a family, paying bills, a mortgage, working and raising little humans and sleep deprivation. There has been a shift.






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