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The Case of The Exploding Brain

The Case of The Exploding Brain

What will it feel like?

It will be like nothing you have ever felt.

How will I know?

Oh, you will know! It will be the worst pain you could experience in your life. You will either be dead or wish you were.

Good to know.

Social Skills may not have been in his repertoire but hard facts certainly were.

When someone tells you this, you don’t forget it.

I forget my pin number and my sunglasses. But never this.

Then it happens. The Thunderclap headache. Standing in the kitchen having a conversation, perfectly normal. No build up. No symptoms, no warning. Instant projectile vomit and what feels like someone shooting me in the brain from across the room. Shock. Trauma. Ouch. Not in that given order.

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The pain. Today, some six months later I can’t believe I could be in that much physical pain and not be dead.

The ambulance came quickly that night.

Then the sirens. My name, over and over again. Kirsten, can you hear us?

She’s not breathing; BP is dropping. I answer. Why can no one hear me? They can, someone is screaming. I think it’s me. Don’t leave me.

The rolling vomit, the wave after wave of nausea surges through my body, like nothing I have known. The entire contents of my body feel like they are pouring out of my mouth. A tsunami I have no control over, and my whole body shakes and shudders from the violence of it.

By the time we got the hospital I was passed out, pupils dilated, and I was in trouble. A suspected brain bleed. 25% of bleeds cannot be picked up on an MRI; they require a lumbar puncture. I had one of those once. Never again. When one’s spinal chord is impaled with a thick needle by an intern with shaky hands, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I awoke in time in between vomiting to say No thanks. They were not happy with me.

By Friday I was washing the dishes and planning dinner. At my kitchen sink, with what felt like a hangover but no other symptoms. How? How is this possible?

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Gratitude, wonder and then Uh Oh set in. Then “everything is fine today, so let’s move forward, nothing to see here” set in. Its the survivor in me. Thinks she’s a cross between Charles Bronson and a Williams sister. No one likes a martyr. The grief counselor reassured me this sweet denial was a path to potential disaster. It happened. It happened to me, it happened to Lothario, my children, my brother and a lovely friend we had visiting at the time of the “Incident.”

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So I went to Magnetic Island with my youngest son and Mamma bear for a month. I wrote it off, played with him, had adventures, explored my second home some more in all of its pre Summer glory. I enjoyed the company of my island friends. I walked the beaches alone and cried out my fear, my panic. Papa G and I had many conversations on that beach. He was helping me mourn.

What was I mourning?

Well, it’s more than easy, in fact it is downright intoxicating to forget you are unwell when your symptoms do not stop you. You are invigorated by the hypnosis of a fulfilling life and do not want to subscribe to fear. EVER.

But then there is being emotionally truthful. The fact is unless someone comes up with a solution, I am not going to hold my grandchildren. I will not get to be old and grey with my boy. I will very possibly die from one of the most physically painful experiences you can have. Or I could end up a vegetable sucking bacon and eggs through a straw and getting Sunday visits. Sound depressing? It is! Bring on the Tropical Island and a few well deserved Margheritas. 

Rule: don’t ever talk about this to people. They will stop you immediately with: Well I Just Know You Are Going to Be Okay, I Can Feel It. Or No Kirsten, Don’t Say That, YOU WILL BE FINE. IMG_6679


Here’s the thing, I am really glad you can feel it.

I know that the love we have for people makes us want to make them feel better again. For those reading this that have said that to me, I love you for caring enough to say it. I am invested in believing that I am going to be fine too, 365 days of the year which is 825 days longer that they expected me to live. BUT sometimes shit gets real.

Sometimes it JUST IS. Left with the facts you then rely on your faith to surge through again, creating an equilibrium that is a force to be reconned with. In the meantime? There are moments of emotional truth. Good or Bad. Pretty or Ugly. They just are. But this can be distressing to others. So I don’t do that. I take it to God. I take all of those “thoughts” and talk to God about it. We are sitting in a kitchen eating pancakes and discussing matters of the universe. Like what on earth is She going to do with Stephen Hawking now? Whoa. That’s a big one.

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There are people out there who walk around with some disease inside them, not of their own making. Someone operated on me and made a mess of my brain. The entire contents of my cerebrum, my grey matter, the old think tank and noggin is being held together with a microscopic thing called a FRED which isn’t doing it’s job very well, because it has slipped and has created a high volume bomb ticking in my head. Sneezes- dangerous. Flying – Dangerous. Humidity and the Common Cold ain’t great.

Constipation now holds a genuine concern. Vomiting? Forget it. Anxiety, Stress, and a raised heart rate are the worst. But head knocks? I can take those. I have titanium in there. One unfortunate head butt from my husband getting out of the car almost knocked him out, and I didn’t feel a thing. It was quite amusing.

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As much as I love Louise Hay, I did not manifest this. I am human. Therefore I can break. I did not have unresolved anger issues, but thanks and no Frankincense oil under my tongue each night won’t cure me or special drops made from a rainforests Monkey’s toenail clippings, as delicious as that sounds.

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There is a process involved, and it has taken me places I never dreamed possible.

So is it a dis-ease? Or is it a blessing of the most peculiar kind? Depends on the day. Everyone lives and everyone dies, why does dying have to be the worst thing that happens to us in the Western world? Why can’t it be a celebration of how we lived and then the next journey begins? Like saying “Wow, you lucky thing, you are off to Hawaii now! Good luck and see you soon!” “She’s gone to walk with Jesus, lucky bugger.”

Because time is relative don’t you know? A word of advice- religion is not just a safety net for the emotionally weak. I am strong. I did my research. I believe in Physics. I believe in science. I also do not believe in chaos, but design. Conclusively. I do not believe in some Zeus like Gandalf in the sky. Please with a cherry on top, do not spruik your disbelief about the existence of a universal architect to the possibly dying. It is unkind. It’s just a shitty thing to do.

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This journey is upsetting at times. Especially times like “the Great Vomiting incident.” If I can change that fear, that sadness I will. Purely because the vibration is heavy and it doesn’t feel very nice. Good one Captain Obvious.

But it is life.

It is. None of us get out of it unscathed or without learning, so why pretend we do or can? For me, its the faith I foster through it and the learning it presents me that creates joy within the crisis, as I have mentioned before, the alchemy of it all is the light that changes any darkness.

Think of it like walking in a deep dark cave, you know you need to turn on the light, so you do. You find yourself looking at a cave filled with magnificent, luminous waterfalls, diamond-lined walls, and beauty. But you are still in a cave. You have stumbled over sharp rocks, trying to find your way in a cold and hard place, and everyone else is standing in the sunshine. You are in a cave. No denying. There’s the emotional truth bomb. It’s what you DO with it that counts.

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Sometimes the message is clear for me to write about this path I walk.

Other times I don’t think it’s a great idea. I enjoy writing other things more. I enjoy writing for others more. But I am reminded. It’s not just about me.

I reminded that there are 1 in 50 aneurysms out there. I am reminded that there are people out there in Australia who have a Used By Date that just keeps going. There are people out there that every time they cringe with a tiny pain, their child looks at them with fear and they must wrangle with the conversation “no sweety, I don’t plan on dying today, did you put your uniform in the wash?

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There are people out there who are losing friends and family because the journey they walk is too painful for others to bear, so they walk away. Sometimes it’s time. It takes too much time. Seriously? You keep going on about dying, but you are still here.

Sometimes some desperate people feel it would be easier to bring that final journey closer because then it’s in their control. That’s a scary one. Researchers at Baylor University Medical Center believe depression, grief, and suicidal thoughts affect up to 77 percent of people with a terminal illness. Would you like an after dinner mint with your taboo topic?

There are people out there who have been told they are going to die and it feels like someone took your arse and shoved it through your nose and out your ears.

Then you have to get back to being “normal.” You have to make sure it doesn’t ruin you, consume you or turn you into a victim. Becoming a victim to me is like denying the existence of a JEDI, somewhere a light saber just dropped dead. It’s just not cricket. (I was only joking about the Light Saber thing if you doubt my cred about the whole God thing.)

You are out there. Hopefully, you are reading. Hopefully, you feel a sense of connection that says I am not alone.

I see you. You are not alone.

PS- I know Mr. Hawking was an Atheist, but at the same time I wonder if he is having maple syrup with those pancakes?

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Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au LIFELINE: https://www.lifeline.org.au BRAIN FOUNDATION: http://brainfoundation.org.au    

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Ponder Kindness Part Two

Ponder Kindness Part Two

There is nothing I like more than meeting a person who surprises you with a character that is refreshing and far from mundane.

 

This interview with Fr. Rod has created a joyful series of conversations that spark the mind. The most refreshing facet of this man and his beautiful wife Kerry is that even though at times I am sure they fear the backlash that comes with being a messenger, they march on. They march on not because they revel in it. They march on because it is a calling. It is a calling that they cannot ignore.

It’s the stuff that your soul emits in unison with your heart so strongly, that to ignore it would be emotionally dishonest. This is why the congregation has grown, this is why many Australians are intrigued and captivated by the message Fr. Rod echoes, its quite simple: compassion and kindness for everyone.  Not everybody agrees. Is it easy? No way. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

 

Planet Spectrum

This boy from the Hunter Valley, the son of conservative country party graziers is now the voice of many.

In Part Two we chat about the lighter things in life; cubby houses, Lucifer, climate change, Netflix and so much more…

Kirsten: Ok, so now I am shifting the subject, but if there’s music that’ll get your foot tapping what would it be?

Fr. Rod: Can you believe I am not a huge music fan? (I audibly gasp) But, if there were one it would be Jazz. And improvised, very highly improvised Jazz. I think the biggest-selling Jazz album ever was Miles Davis and Arlo Guthrie, and they came together and basically just cut this thing like nothing in the day in these jams sessions.
I was actually out having drinks last Thursday night, and the guy at the piano was the guy who composed the music for the Compass documentary, and I asked him if he could play this because he’s a very clever musician. So he started playing it.

Kirsten: Okay, so I ask everyone this question as we always get the most interesting responses. As a child did you like tree houses or cubby houses? What would be your preference?

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Rod: I’m a cubby house fan because I don’t like heights. I can remember, we must’ve bought a new refrigerator or something at one stage when I was little kid. So, I created this cubby house out of it, and I spent a good couple of years in this box.

Kirsten: (Laughs) There you go.

Rod: But I did climb trees from time to time. I’m not fond of heights, though.

Kirsten: If you could meet with your 25-year-old self and give him a piece of advice, what would it be?

Fr. Rod: Don’t drink so much. Don’t waste a lot of time, money, and brain cells and use that money to travel. I kind of regret I didn’t, I should have. I had an opportunity to go overseas when I was 20, and I never did, and I still regret that to this day. I wanted to travel in my late twenties and early thirties.

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Kirsten: What made you decide, was there a moment, was it a series of events, which lead you to be in service to God?

Fr. Rod: Well, there was no Damascus road. In fact, it was a long journey of resistance to an insistent call and people sort of encouraged me to be a priest and me agreeing at each step along the process to engage in that. At the same time, I was totally expecting that I’d be rejected by the Church and so I found myself, you know, the day of my ordination, not really understanding how I had got there. And there’s a sense in which I’m still in that process. I’m daring the Church to throw me out.

Kirsten: So I take it you’d have to walk a pretty fine line.

Fr. Rod: Sometimes.

Fr. Rod: While I’m accused of being progressive, I am, I think fairly theologically orthodox and especially regarding patristics in the early Church years. I know I’m not seen as orthodox by contemporary Protestant conservatives, but they’re not really orthodox in terms of the Great Theologians.

Kirsten: But I think too, one of the reasons people find you progressive is because you guys have a real social presence. You are literally streaming online. You’re on Facebook for starters and churches don’t usually have a strong following on social media. This is not your usual stiff upper lip, cause no waves Anglican church!

Fr. Rod: 150 followers is the average for many churches.

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Kirsten: Exactly! You’re up front and center, you do it very well, but it’s also the way you explain theology. It’s very friendly, it makes sense, it’s logical, and it’s not stale. People want to listen to you.

Could you tell me a little bit about your passion for climate change?

Fr Rod: Yeah I have to say we have been very focused on the last few years on refugees. It’s taken over a bit of the agenda for obvious reasons, and in more recent times focus has been on the marriage equality debate. I am hoping this will be resolved quickly and we can get on with other things. Note: this interview happened before the wonderful marriage equality results

I mean, the climate is the ultimate question for us, for our generation, my children and my grandchildren’s generation. It’s going to be the defining subject over the next 100 years. It’s the defining ethical subject; it’s the defining scientific and economic question. It’s the new paradigm. We are the economic paradigm in which we have been in for the last 70 years. It’s crumbling after the GFC. We’ve propped it back up again, but it’s crumbling, and the emerging paradigm has to be the environmental and ecological paradigm. It’ll be the new economy.

 

Kirsten: The new economy?

Fr. Rod: Yes it has to be. It’s farcical to watch the old right clinging to their coal philosophy when even AGL are saying, um no, that’s old, that’s the old we aren’t interested anymore. They know money is in renewables and clean energy! You know we are so close to this renewable technology being introduced, so why on earth would you invest in coal fired?

But there will be ethical and moral questions to ask in this process, and I think this is where theologians need to be.

KM: You are bringing back the cool. Reminding us of why we look to women and men that question everything and bring our ethics and what we stand for to the forefront. Which leads me to this part of my questioning: Why is it seemingly so uncool sometimes to be Christian? I said to someone at a dinner party that it seems to be very zen and modern for people to be Hindi, Buddhist, or even Zoroastrian, Muslim, anything other than Christian. But it seems to be very uncool to be Christian; this seems a bit unfair!

Fr. Rod: Yes they seem to be the flavor don’t they? (Hearty laughter injected from my interviewee)

Fr. Rod: I think the life and teachings of Jesus, has an enormous amount to offer society. The basic doctrines of Christianity are an anchor that we let go of at our peril in that sense because we float off into this sort of nothingness. But I think we can get a bit obsessed with that side of things and not so much on the social ethics.

Kirsten: Outside of all of this theology, as a regular bloke, what do you like to do?

Fr. Rod: I don’t get much time to relax, it’s quite foreign to me! I grew up in an environment where you didn’t take holidays, and so my brain isn’t programmed in that way. Which is not a very healthy. I am not very good at relaxing, I try and take time each day to walk. I am 55 Type 2 Diabetic with high cholesterol, a very typical 55-year-Old Australian male. (more laughter)

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I enjoy getting home, after a long hard day and having some cheese and bikkies, a glass of pinot noir; occasionally I get to veg out I will binge watch something on Netflix. I just finished binge-watching Lucifer.

KM: NO WAY! Are you serious? Ok, if you are watching that, I am so watching that! What did you think? (I am shocked, gaping like a goldfish and laughing).

Fr. Rod: Well it was challenging for a while because Lucifer’s Dad- God is portrayed as a very capricious character, very punishing and I was resistant to this! I am like: God’s not like this! He’s not like this! But the more I watched it; I think he is portraying God in a way in which many people see God. And while it made me uncomfortable, and I don’t believe God is like that I had to acknowledge that this is how many view God.

And you know, Lucifer is the devil, and he does kind of challenge in the show this idea of “the devil made me do it” type stuff. He comments that humans make their own choices and actions, his only job is to punish them, he doesn’t make them do anything. Not that I believe in that either, but I have found it challenging, thought-provoking. Its the antithesis of what I believe but it reminded me of how endemic folky religion is in our culture. Because that is what a lot of people believe. I am a Game of Thrones fan.

Kirsten: Now I like you even more. (grinning) This is my all-time favorite series. We actually have a GOT night at our house with friends and eat special dessert. Seriously.

Fr. Rod: I like Tyrion Lannister, he is the archetypical human in that he is carnal, but also has a social ethic, that he actually doesn’t want people to be hurt.

Kirsten: His transformation in the show is pretty entertaining and so complex!

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Fr. Rod: Yes, because he is vested in good, even though he is a drunken fornicator and even a user and abuser of women which I hold to be highly immoral and terrible. But his complexity fascinates me. I enjoy the religious metaphors in the show, the use of faith metaphor because I think that’s quite challenging too. You know, we are in the process of electing a new bishop… (and there might be a few GOT’s comments, as well as Dutton…I am leaving the next 10 minutes out, what gets said off the record stays off the record) (grin inserted).

 

The conversation continues in Part Three… where we discuss some serious business like Homosexuality, Kingdoms and that Heaven thing people get so hung up about.

The Evolution of Dogs

The Evolution of Dogs

Written by Montanna Macdonald

I am sitting in the sun on the grass in a pandemic lockdown,

looking into the puppy dog eyes of my three-month-old dog as she eagerly watches the tennis ball in my right hand.

She tilts her head like mine, mimics the movement of my arm following the ball, and with tails wagging and tongue out, she happily leaps like lighting to catch it. 

I ponder what the evolution of the dog is? Have modern-day breeds always existed? Did our caveman ancestors cuddle our fur friends of joy and play fetch with bones? 

 

How in the world do I domesticate and train my dog? Is my dog a genius?

Let’s  dive into the history of our intelligent, globally superior favourite pet. 

What we do know is that your cute puppy was once a wolf. Dogs evolved from their canine ancestor, a Gray Wolf. To date, scientists are baffled  by the timeline where wolves merged into dogs and the art of domestication. 

Dog fossils date back as far back as 20,000 to 40,000 years ago in the Neolithic Era, so our fur babies are Stone Age, a friendship that has lasted eons. 

 

In studies by Professor Dr Krishna Veeramah at Stony Brook University, ancient fossils of dogs in Germany were very similar to our modern European dogs, even many of the breeds we have today as pets. 

Another interesting study by Brian Hare, Director of Duke University Canine Cognition Center found that wolves have domesticated themselves into dogs, changing not only their behaviour to survive as companions with humans but also their physical features. This self-domestication process of changing eyebrows, floppy ears, splotchy coats, are all a visible byproduct of their “friendly” evolution from wolf to dog. This is evident in the study of domesticated foxes in Russia, who made themselves look adorable over time and pick up on human social cues.  

Your dog was once a snarling member of a pack that radically altered its appearance and manner to quite literally become our best friend! Crazy right? 

So next time your dog gives you that puppy dog looks when they want your dinner, remember, they are purposely putting on that face to get what they want.

Cute, but oh too easy to give in. 

There is also a unique bond between dogs and humans; when they look at each other, equally both brains produce the chemical oxytocin, a hormone which is likened to maternal bonding and trust. Dogs are the first animal proven to have this bond with humans, and one of the first animals to domesticate itself with humans, well before humans were herding sheep, cows, pigs and growing crops. It is a beautiful connection between human and dog, and incredible to know a little history; from wolf to friend. 

 

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Melbourne Social Media Series: The Business Pivot

Melbourne Social Media Series: The Business Pivot

Written by Renae Failla

How are businesses pivoting and diversifying their product range during COVID-19 to re-emerge stronger than ever?

 

Westpac’s SME COVID-19 response report revealed that 49 per cent of Australian small businesses have changed the way they function due to the COVID-19 hit. For most this has been in the form of adding additional products and services 29%, shifting business to online 21% and transferring the focus of their business 19%.

 

With a plethora of new businesses popping up during the last couple of months and the diversification of almost every business, we have been noting the trends.

 

Shift to online

 

Firstly, although we do live in a digital age – it is interesting to note that pre-COVID many businesses did not have an online presence. Considering your local cafe, butcher, florist or supermarket – many shoppers were so accustomed to visiting the store and deciding what they wanted to buy on the spot, however, there has now been a forced shift to online.

 

Australian Study conducted by McKinsey & Co surveying Australian customers suspects that post COVID-19 or during a COVID Normal 25%-65% of customers will make a portion of their purchases online in most categories while 70 -145% anticipate they will make all of their purchases online. This spans not only groceries, apparel and household supplies but also makeup, snacks, alcohol etc.

 

Small business tip: Websites such as Wix, WordPress, Squarespace and Shopify are becoming a must for small businesses to rise in the online space.

 

Identify and push products within your business that meet current consumer needs

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 Pandemic has forced a sudden shock on consumption and consumer spending with partial and total lockdowns all around the world. This has resulted in a change in what consumers are buying and prioritising which is consequentially pushing businesses and retailers to adapt and push products that weren’t normally selling as well.

Namely, there has been an identifiable increase in the purchasing of loungewear, candles, masks, care packages, graze boxes, pre-packed groceries and takeaway items as consumers seek convenience and value with stay at home orders. Many businesses are recognising this need and the products they already have to centre marketing campaigns around this.

One retailer that is paving the way and demonstrating its adaptability, placing relevant products front of mind to their consumers is The Iconic.

Now including a #StayHome section – you are able to find all relevant items such as workout wear, WFH footwear and even face masks all in one unique hub.

A shoutout to small business in Metro Melbourne, Mini-Me Mango @minimemango cafe who have managed to utilise their current staff members to do free delivery within 25km of the store. Noticeably with tighter restrictions, they have also expanded their takeaway menu offering and pushed items like their vegan donuts which are a perfect gift for #isobirthdays.

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Change/add to your product range

For other businesses, the pandemic has forced the introduction of additional product ranges and offerings to majorly pivot and remain operable at this time of uncertainty.

Harvard Business Review advises that a pivot to the product range and offering for restaurants could be “to offer a flat rate for a set number of meals per week or per month, with limited menu choices” or “to offer a combination of precooked dishes with sides or additions that could be prepared at home using ingredients supplied by the restaurant. The restaurant could send a link to a video that walks the customer through preparation, thus incorporating an experiential and learning element.”

This pivot has successfully been undertaken by a local Italian restaurant who hit the nail on the head for Father’s Day, offering customers a ‘homemade cannoli kit’, keeping the brand front of mind and ensuring their customers felt as if they were eating cannoli together in the restaurant.

In the same way, businesses from all categories learnt to respond to the shortage of face masks and sanitiser around the world and jumped on the trend quickly – especially with the introduction of mandatory face masks in many places.

Open a new business based on new talents

Stay at home orders and significant job losses have urged people to become more creative, trying new things and learning new talents that have eventuated to a surge in new small businesses.

In fact, the ABC reports, “There were 253,529 new business names registered between January and July this year, compared with 222,516 over the same period last year,” proving how individuals have become more malleable and adaptable than ever to hasten future ideas and dreams.

CCIWA chief economist Aaron Morey has indicated that they are now seeing startups that respond to changing consumer demands as well as a surge in consultancy type businesses.

Small business tip: If you have started creating your own candles in your garage, learnt how to arrange aesthetically pleasing platters for graze boxes or been busy sewing garments throughout the night – now is the time to take that plunge and carry out your dreams.

If you have either started a new business, diversified your product range or shifted to online during the COVID-19 pandemic we would love to hear your success stories! And if you’re busy working on your new Business Strategy and need someone to ramp up your Social Media strategy post COVID-19, Melbourne Social Media can help! To get in touch, email renaelaurenfailla@gmail.com or call 0448 875 934.

Instagram: @melbournesocialmedia

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Skyrocketing to fame only months ago,

Debb Oliver has become somewhat of a household name in the Australian digital illustration industry after one illustration, in particular, was brought to the attention of a very famous Family.

Debb modified the group photo of Chandler Powell, Bindi, mum Terri and brother Robert on Bindi’s wedding day by adding their dog Piggy, her father the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and his beloved dog Sui. Through social media and word of mouth, the family saw the heartwarming illustration in no time.

 

Originally from Brazil, Debb moved to Australia as a teenager and now resides in Sydney with her two boys and husband. Her personalised watercolour portraits are her speciality and almost every piece features nature, her second passion.

Now fully booked until 2021, we were lucky enough to snag an interview with the talented woman behind The Monkey Brush.

 

 

Tea or coffee?

Coffee before 11 am, and tea after 🙊

Dogs or cats?

Love cats, but, dogs

What is your perfect day?

Good food, family, good music and a pretty summer sunset 😍

Where does the name ‘The Monkey Brush’ come from?

I worked at a childcare centre teaching arts. There was this beautiful boy called Ethan, who was so sweet and curious. At the time I was also studying biology and we would spend a long time outside naming every bug and plant.

I told him possums loved eating the flower “bottle brush” and he loved hearing about how I’d collect them fresh every night for my rescued orphan baby possums. Every time he was cheeky, I’d affectionately call him monkey. And one day when he saw me, he asked me if I had found some “monkey brush” flowers for my possums. I thought it was the sweetest thing.

I often wonder where he is in life, and when it came time to choose a business name, I thought of that special little boy.

Tell us a bit more about the portrait of Bindi Irwin, her family and her late father Steve Irwin.

As I said, I have a diploma in Biology and I must say Steve and Terri were my biggest inspiration alongside Dr Jane Goodall. I cried for days when he passed, and I kept loving his family. I’m a huge animal lover, and the work they do is just unbelievable. When Bindi got married, I had this mix of emotions.

I was so happy for her but so sad that Steve didn’t get to walk her down the aisle. I decided to draw the portrait of her family on her wedding day and include Steve and Sui. I posted on my social media, she saw it, thanked me, sent me gifts, made it her profile picture on Facebook, posted it on her social media and I flew to QLD to personally give it to her on her birthday.

I met all the Irwins and they were more amazing then I could ever have imagined. The story was featured in 17 different papers and it’s been the highlight of my career. Can’t wait to draw them again when Bindi has her baby.

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How did Bindi find out about the piece?

A lot of people tagged her on my posts.

 

What inspired you to paint this portrait?

My immense love for them and the wonderful work they do.

 

Describe your encounter with the Irwin Family.

It was unbelievable. Due to COVID, we couldn’t get too close to them, but Bindi kept saying she wished we could hug and I had to contain myself lol. I got to share that amazing experience with my two kids and they loved it as much as I did. It was incredibly special.

 

Describe 3 of your favourite pieces.

  1. The Irwin portrait.
  2. One called “to parish in paradise” where I illustrated how difficult but fulfilling motherhood is.
  3. And One called ’empty arms ‘ where I honour mothers who have lost babies or couldn’t conceive. I lost 4 babies and it’s a very important theme for me, and I’m glad I can use my art to bring some healing to others.
  4. What advice would you give any budding artists out there who are either looking to start their own businesses or to have their artwork displayed in galleries?

    Work hard, value your work, practice every single day, be kind to people and trust the process.


    How old were you when you started drawing?

    I can’t remember. My mum is sure I came out of the womb holding a pencil. Lol


    Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?

    I’m firstly a mum, trying to juggle life, family, work, etc. I sleep 4 hours a night on average and I draw around 8-9 hours a day, and I still have to do admin and maintain social media. I also have an autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia. People assume working with art is easy. It’s not! It’s hard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m grateful for the support I receive, and the privilege of working with what I love.


    How can Ponderers get their own portrait?

    I’m fully booked at the moment for the next 12 months, but people can subscribe to be notified when I’m available for commissions again by clicking on a link on my Instagram bio or my website which I’ll be launching towards the end of September 🥳


    You can add your name to the 2021 waitlist here.


    To check out an array of Debb’s inspiring artworks, head to her Instagram page.

 

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The Small Town Boy Who Undressed Marilyn

We ponder the most famous Australian in Hollywood that you have never heard of, three time Academy Award winner, Orry-Kelly

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The Small Town Boy Who Undressed Marilyn

The Small Town Boy Who Undressed Marilyn

Written by Cassidy Krygger

From a small country town in New South Wales to dressing Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and designing costumes for some of the biggest movies on the silver screen, Orry-Kelly’s rise to success was astounding. 

He was once the most famous Australian in Hollywood and was the Aussie with the most Academy Awards to his name until 2014, having won three over his thirty year career. And yet, in his home country, barely anyone knew about him and after his death in 1964, he became virtually forgotten. So who is Orry-Kelly, Australia’s first Hollywood legend?

Orry George Kelly was born in 1897 in Kiama, New South Wales and from a young age, had aspirations to be on the stage. 

To divert him to something more respectable, his mother sent a 17 year old Orry to Sydney to study banking. This wasn’t a wise move on Mrs Kelly’s part, because his love for the theatre only flourished more in the Harbour City.

Orry inserted the hyphen and removed the George and became the glamourous Orry-Kelly when he moved to New York in 1922 to finally pursue a career in acting. 

He shared an apartment with a handsome young man who had just arrived from the UK by the name of Archie Leach who also had aspirations to be a star. The pair, according to Kelly, shared an on and off relationship for the next few years until Archie Leach was shipped off to Hollywood to become Cary Grant. 

Meanwhile, his acting career wasn’t fairing much better. 

After literally dropping a few chorus girls during a dance number (he admitted to having weak arms), it was decided he was best to do something behind the scenes.  Kelly began to work on the costumes and designing stage sets, gaining notice of some Hollywood heavyweights such as Warner Bros. executive Jack Warner. 

Hollywood beckoned in 1932 and Orry-Kelly found himself moving to the West Coast where he was hired by Warner Bros as a chief costume designer. 

Orry-Kelly finally hit his stride and he found where he belonged. He designed the costumes for almost 300 films including for iconic movies such as Casablanca, An American in Paris and Some Like it Hot where he designed one of Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic and sexy outfits. He became Bette Davis’ most relied upon costume designer early on in her career, she would refuse to do a film if he wasn’t designing her costumes. What made Orry-Kelly extraordinary and forward thinking was that while most studios at the time reused costumes to save money, he created costumes for the characters and the actors who were portraying them. 

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One to never forget his roots,  Orry-Kelly visited Australia as often as he could and kept his thick Aussie accent, which must have seemed alien to the Old Hollywood elite.

Throughout his time in Hollywood, Orry-Kelly spent his time writing a memoir of his experiences. Something that put Cary Grant on edge, who ended up being able to block the publication in the 1960s.

An alcoholic for many years, Orry-Kelly passed away from liver cancer in 1964. Cary Grant was a pallbearer at his funeral. May we never forget him, a boy with a dream who lived life to the absolute Hollywood hilt. 

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Its Life Jim But Not As We Know It- The Cool Tech Stuff Making ISO Easier

Its Life Jim But Not As We Know It- The Cool Tech Stuff Making ISO Easier

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

2020 has bought some surprises, and tech has never been more important. We peek at some of the tools, innovations and ideas that have showcased brilliant out of the box thinking in living, music and health. 

When we attended the Pausefest business festival in early 2020 guest speaker, Dom Price from Atlassian made some stunning predictions. The global whiz company make tools like Trello and Jira, along with customized collaboration platforms. 

So what did Dom Price, Atlassian work futurist predict? Well, he mentioned a new wave of productivity wasn’t too far away, with teams working from their homes instead of sterile office spaces with sharp efficiency. We all smiled and thought it too far out of reach. But it seems the future thinkers at Atlassian are touched with the golden gift of insight when the future came hurtling through the front door quicker than you can say Pandemic. In a new survey commissioned by Atlassian, 96 per cent of respondents stated that some or all of their employees have transitioned to working remotely due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Along with the likes of Atlassian, some wonderful innovators are seeking to connect and improve people’s lives. Amongst them is Next Address. 

 

 

The real estate selling platform has been winning hearts now for a few years; Next Address is at its core in an exciting bid to place the power of buying and selling homes into the hands of the people.

Using next-level tech, the company founded by Julie O’Donohue has an extensive listing all over Australia thanks to their closely held secret marketing algorithm and sales results. However, it is their virtual tech systems that have rocketed into popularity since COVID hit. 

Julie says; “Virtual Technology creates powerful user interactions and social experiences, all with the goal to generate a positive impact.”

Cleverly named; the NextReality3D technology allows you to virtually walk through a house, conducting an inspection from your chair!

All the elements of the property are extracted using a smart tech camera and its pure genius. From isolation or interstate, people can inspect homes and get more of a real aspect of the property that you cannot achieve with photos or a clever promo video. Check it out for yourself here: https://nextaddress.com.au/property/15-cluny-road-armidale-nsw-2350-23296

Virtual tours – tick! Now, what about some Yoga or self-discovery? 

 

One very special place adapting their sails to the wind to extend help to others is the Rocklyn Ashram.

Settled in the beauty of Wombat State forest in Victoria, Rocklyn Ashram has been a sacred place for schools, VCE students, Backpackers, CEOS, Doctors, Nurses, Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents and Retirees for well over 4o year. Every walk of human has passed through those doors from around the world.

A traditional Ashram, it is a destination for global specialists, botanists and horticulturalists with the drawcard of simplicity away from the rat race. 

With COVID came restrictions on visitors to the Ashram seeking solace and retreat. The very forward-thinking Yoginis have recreated a whole variety of classes and lessons online using a combination of their platform, Facebook and Zoom; however, the home retreat via Zoom was the one that caught our eye.

With classes live streaming to homes all over the country, the retreat aims to help offer some stability and routine each day, a regularity and re-establishment of daily practice. If you are in isolation and seeking to glean some peace and self-exploration along with balance, this is a beautiful and affordable way to do so. 

With offerings of Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Meditation and Asana, there are 3-4 online classes a day along with guidance from instructors. Click here for more details. 

AshramRocklynVictoria by Kirsten Macdonald Ponderings Magazine Australia
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What about Music? The musical arts have certainly taken a hit with tours, performances and festivals being canned quicker than you can say BoyBand. 

However, in true form, many musos have risen to the occasion thinking outside the box to deliver music to their fans. Facebook live concerts, the ABC Sound series, Youtube and Instagram have become the new dance halls. However, there is one more delightful la tribune that has really amped things up; MIXLR. 

MIXLR kicked off in 2010 by Londoner Rob Watson. A live social platform, MIXLR users can push out their live audio feed. In other words; create your own radio station!

We are big fangs of Fangradio- Neil Finn’s MIXLR station. Sublime, personal and brilliant; Neils rendition of Prince’s classic When Dove’s Cry is on repeat in the Ponderings office (Heroes by Bowie is pretty bloody amazing too) 

Perhaps the charm comes from being able to watch while the Crowded House legend strums it out with the mic on the table cloth, notes and headphones, but I am guessing it is more than a hint of musical genius. You can use the playback feature or play live; the choice is yours. Check it out here: https://www.neilfinn.com/fangradio

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Narnia, A Faraway Tree with a smidge of a Doc called Suess, and some Kahlil Gibran is the word charm that grew seeds in Kirsten Macdonald's imagination. She has an innate curiosity about the stories of "us" and a deep faith that is strongly supported by a dark sense of humour. Ask this wordsmith about anthropology, ancient religions, the curious nature of humanity and the incredible cuteness of sloths and you will have a conversation for hours. Writer, editor and researcher, Kirsten has developed Ponderings into a space that is now shared by a team and a shared vision that is infectiously positive and forged in good stuff.

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The Inside Files of The Mysterious Banksy

The Inside Files of The Mysterious Banksy

Written by Renae Failla

Who is the real Banksy? Or who do we think he can be?

 

In 2010, Banksy was considered one of Time Magazine’s most influential people alongside the likes of Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Lady Gaga. There are many theories and speculations of who the real ‘Banksy’ could be. In fact, you will find Google and YouTube littered with their takes on who he could possibly be based on attempted unmaskings and geographical profiling, a technique which has been used by investigators to work out offenders probable origins. 

Banksy has literally left his mark on cities throughout the world anonymously. Some popular opinions claim that he could be Robin Banx, this was the name he used during his teenage days around Bristol, England. This theory also correlates to a story where a young boy named Azarya was gifted a $30,000 painting signed by the artist after helping him pick up his fallen paintbrushes on a New York train – he provided the name, Robin Banks. 

The boy had described Banksy to be a white man in his late 40s and this might actually be the only legitimate information on the artist if this was indeed him. 

Other accounts claim he could be a team of 7 people or Robin Gunningham, a consequence of geographical profiling which discovered a graffiti artist by the name in Bristol.

Image credit/ Canon Snapper – Artwork: Banksy

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What does he stand for and what drives his passion?

We may never know who the ‘real’ Banksy is – and many of his biggest fans prefer not to know. Instead, they hold a strong passion for what he stands for. Banksy derives his notoriety through his satirical and subversive politically inclined art. 

He achieves this by utilising a stencilling graffiti technique which enables him to garner a political edge to his art. Additionally, the graffiti technique helps to add a layer of history- “they have been used to start revolutions and stop wars,” he says. 

In interviews, Banksy has shared that from a young age, he always had issues with police and authority figures, this alone could be the underlying reasons why his work often depicts political figures in satirical ways. 

Banksy is never one to follow the status quo, often doing the very opposite making a fool of the world of art which gives him his anonymous notoriety and source of income.

Image credit: Warchild Artwork: Banksy

Banksy is very aware of his audience and the platform he has been given with the shift of the 20th century, telling a friend in an interview:

“There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell [one’s art],” he continues, “You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful, all you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection.This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count,” this is the attitude that has turned him into a household name and obtaining that name goes against what he stands for.

What has he done?

The mediums, locations and continually new pieces to his collection make it difficult to keep track of all of his artworks. Some of his well-known artworks include the Banksy Monkey Parliament, displayed at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, One Nation Under CCTV in London, Sweep it Under the Carpet in London and Kissing Coppers in Brighton.

In addition to his graffiti artworks and what seems to spark the interest of many are his documentary, his pop up exhibition Dismaland and his self-destructive auctioned artwork.

In 2010, Banksy worked on a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Calling it ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop,’ the film tells the real story of how a strange French shopkeeper became a documentary maker attempting to discover and befriend Banksy. 

Banksy reverses the camera back onto the owner, once again protecting his anonymity. Banksy maintains that he is ‘unfilmable’. Many speculated that Banksy would show in disguise when the film was nominated for an Academy Award, but once again were left disappointed.

 

(Image credit: Banksy)

Dismaland, the Bemusement Park was a temporary art project that took place in an abandoned resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK.

In 2015, Banksy worked with other well-known artists to create the exhibition that took a mischievous twist on Disneyland. The tagline to the exhibition was ‘The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction!’.

Banksy funded the exhibition himself asserting that it was a Family Amusement park that was unsuitable for children. There were 4000 tickets available each day for the duration of 5 weeks which unsurprisingly all sold out.

 

More recently, Banksy’s painting of ‘Girl With Balloon’ had just sold for $1.4m in 2018 and to the shock of many onlookers, an alarm went off once it sold and the painting shredded right in front of their eyes. Banksy claims that it turned the exhibition itself into a work of art as it makes a mockery of auctions and the art industry altogether. 

Many considered it a PR stunt which inevitably raised the prices of his pieces.

Why are people so fascinated by him?

It can be said that people are so fascinated by Banksy due to his elusiveness and the unknown factor where they are constantly left wondering who could be responsible for the artwork. It seems the fascination is not even so much by his skill but more so the fact that he has managed to remain a mystery all around the world for so many years. 

For Banksy, anonymity has created a buzz and fame that he would never tap into from being associated with an image.

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A Nibble on Philosophy and The Soul Part Four- Berkeley

A Nibble on Philosophy and The Soul Part Four- Berkeley

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Welcome to Part 4 of Ponderings Nibble on the Soul, an unashamedly reductionalist peekaboo at one of the greats: Berkeley.

George Berkeley was a priest of the Church of Ireland and one of the three most famous British Empiricists.  

Berkeley is best known for his early works on vision and metaphysics; a field of philosophy that is generally focused on how reality and the universe began.

In the Principles and the Three Dialogues Berkeley champions two metaphysical discourses: idealism (everything that exists either is a mind or needs a mind to exist) and immaterialism (matter does not exist). 

If we do not see a tree if we do not use a tree, then does the tree exist? Or if a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Our perception of what a tree is gives it form according to George. 

Berkley’s argument that every physical object is actually a collection of ideas is reflected in his motto esse is percipi (to be is to be perceived). 

If ideas are understood to be objects of knowledge, then there must be something that “knows or perceives them, and operates them, remembering them and willing.” 

Berkeley calls this ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’. Minds (as knowers) are distinct from ideas (as things are known). For an idea, to be is to be perceived (known). Since this holds for ideas in general, it holds for “sensations or ideas imprinted on the sense” in particular. 

 This article, for example, doesn’t actually exist, it is a construction of your mind. 

According to George, there is something indeed behind the thinktank, driving it and helping it to create form. Ordinary objects are nothing but collections of ideas, he proposed, and there are only two kinds of things: spirits and ideas. Spirits are simple active beings producing and perceiving thoughts, ideas are passive beings which are created and perceived by spirits.

The truth is perfect and eternal, but cannot found in the world of matter, only through the mind. The world of matter is imperfect and constantly changing. 

If you smash a table to pieces, will it cease to exist? No, because the memory of it still exists in your mind so therefore it still exists in some way. The idea of it makes it so. 

Incredibly complex, George’s thinking was nothing short of a gold winning Gymnast defying the laws of gravity and walking tiptoe on the roof holding a powder puff as walking stick. He liked backgammon. Imagine playing Cluedo wih him? Yikes. 

 

Hmmm. 

 

References:

(An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision, 1709)

(A Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, 1710; Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, 1713). 

Berkeley, George | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://iep.utm.edu/berkeley/

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Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Narnia, A Faraway Tree with a smidge of a Doc called Suess, and some Kahlil Gibran is the word charm that grew seeds in Kirsten Macdonald's imagination. She has an innate curiosity about the stories of "us" and a deep faith that is strongly supported by a dark sense of humour. Ask this wordsmith about anthropology, ancient religions, the curious nature of humanity and the incredible cuteness of sloths and you will have a conversation for hours. Writer, editor and researcher, Kirsten has developed Ponderings into a space that is now shared by a team and a shared vision that is infectiously positive and forged in good stuff.

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Australian Father of the Year Award

Australian Father of the Year Award

Written by Renae Failla

With Father’s Day, a day to remember paternal bonds and the influence of fathers on society, fast approaching on the 6th September 2020, we look to the Australian created award that recognises and congratulates famous fathers in society for their achievements.

Surprisingly, Father’s Day is so significant that it is celebrated by over 111 countries.

About the Award

The Australian Father of the Year award is an annual award that is normally awarded to high profile fathers of society which includes prime ministers, politicians, business leaders and entertainers. It recognises the support and guidance that they not only show to their own children but to other children in society. The award is normally announced annually at luncheon with all proceeds from the day being donated to The Shepherd Centre, however, this year will look a little different with specific details of the ceremony yet to be confirmed.

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This year’s winner is yet to announced, however, Dr Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre, has spoken to the qualities of this year’s winner saying

“The 2020 Australian Father of the Year Award winner is a father who has played a critical role in fostering community recovery and spirit during some of the tough times Australians have faced over the last 12 months. While the timings of this year’s nominations mean that the 2020 announcement is not related to COVID-19, this father has provided critical support to Australian families – including his own, over the course of the year. 

However, there is no reason why the 2021 Australian Father of the Year couldn’t be one of our dad’s on the COVID-19 frontline. The Shepherd Centre and the Australian Father’s Day Council would love to see nominations that recognise these heroes and their contributions. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how the 2020 Award will be presented but we look forward to what will nonetheless be a very special announcement and invite Australia to celebrate with us.”

 

How it all began

The awards were inaugurated in 1957 and later co-run by The Shepherd Centre, a world-leading children’s charity helping deaf children to develop spoken language at early intervention stages. The second organisation who run the awards are Father’s Day Council Australia. 

Past Winners of the award include the following:

  • Bandit Heeler from the TV show Bluey
  • Sports Journalist Mark Beretta
  • Entrepreneur, aviator, adventurer and philanthropist Dick Smith AC
  • Former NSW Premier Mike Baird
  • Former Governor of New South Wales His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d)
  • GP and community leader Dr Jamal Rifi
  • Basketballer Andrew Gaze
  • Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond
  • Air Chief Marshal (retired) Angus Houston
  • Former Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Taronga Conservation Society Australia Guy Cooper
  • Author of best-selling autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer Li Cunxin
  • Former Swans Coach Paul Roos

To qualify for the award, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  1. A father who is an inspirational role model and maintains a strong commitment and involvement with his family.
  2. A father who is an inspirational role model to the children in the communities with whom he associates.
  3. A father who has made a significant contribution to the nation and is recognised for his personal, academic or professional achievements.
  4. A father who is committed to maintaining an ongoing and future contribution to the nation. Consideration is given to voluntary, unpaid work undertaken and awards and recognition previously received.

This year, nominations for the award closed on the 29th June 2020.

Mark Beretta, the 2019 award winner

Last year’s winner of the award was Sunrise sports presenter Mark Beretta. Mark, is a father to two young children and over the years has been a strong supporter of many organisations including RAISE Foundation, Fight Cancer Foundation and the Australian Paramedic Support Foundation.

On being selected as the 2019 winner, Mark was undoubtedly honoured saying

“Becoming a dad is a special experience and it does change your life in a very fulfilling way – all my favourite memories involve my family. So many dads out there are doing a great job with their families and I am regularly inspired by the role they play in bringing up brilliant Australian kids. I take my hat off to fathers across Australia for all they do; they deserve a pat on the back.”

photo credit: The Shepard Centre

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The Revolutionary Scar Treatments Helping Aussies

The Revolutionary Scar Treatments Helping Aussies

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

The introduction of new tech into mainstream clinics is making procedures for scar reduction more accessible. This is a welcome relief for many Australian’s with issues of scarring. 

According to the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia, Australians were spending more than 1 billion dollars a year on minimal or non-invasive cosmetic procedures. However, while people are choosing cosmetic procedures to enhance their physical features, it is scar reduction treatment that is presenting exciting treatment options. 

Dr Ian Holten, a prominent plastic surgeon, travels globally assisting with reconstructive surgeries, along with life-saving surgeries through his affiliation with volunteer doctor organisations. He says the psychological perspective of patients with scarring cannot be underestimated. As Dr. Holten has witnessed, the significant psychological impact of scarring is heavy.

According to a report on Cutaneous Scarring patients affected by major scars, particularly children, suffer from long-term functional and psychological problems. 

“The introduction of advancements in scar reduction means we can help people feel good about themselves. Scars can deeply impact a person’s confidence and their sense of wellbeing, causing anxiety and deeply impacting emotional trauma,” says Dr Holten. 

Those with scars undergo remodelling of their emotional state and are more prone to the development of depression and anxiety; feelings of shame and aggression can follow says a report by the University of Maryland- titled the Psychology of Scars.

“The reduction in downtime, more pain-free options and affordability makes procedures more accessible than before. The less trauma inflicted on the skin and the person, the better the outcome” says Holten.

Dr Holten and his extensive team of surgeons and clinicians offer services in skin checks and skin cancer, a very serious issue facing many Aussies. 

Skin cancer removal, acne scarring, unwanted tattoos and congenital skin discolouration and burns are examples of skin issues people are seeking help for. 

 

“We have seen some terrible cases of people who have had large and deep surface areas of their skin chopped out for skin cancer removal. Early detection of skin cancers can not only save lives but also reduce the heavy scarring associated with cancers needing surgical removal. This is all thanks to technology advancements” says Dr Holten. 

Early intervention and the introduction of treatments like Photodynamic therapy (PDT) means less scarring and earlier assistance. PDT is a light-based therapy targeted at pre-cancerous lesions, acne and rosacea or damaged and impaired skin cells. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses a specific wavelength of light, producing a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells. This is not to mention the help for early intervention in skin cancer, which accounts for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers in Australia. Likewise, the PICO laser treatment for tattoo removal and acne scar removal has revolutionised the way scars are treated.

The future is looking bright as we look to advancements, says Holten. 

Watch this space! 

 

For more information about Australian Skin Face Body Click Here

 

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Narnia, A Faraway Tree with a smidge of a Doc called Suess, and some Kahlil Gibran is the word charm that grew seeds in Kirsten Macdonald's imagination. She has an innate curiosity about the stories of "us" and a deep faith that is strongly supported by a dark sense of humour. Ask this wordsmith about anthropology, ancient religions, the curious nature of humanity and the incredible cuteness of sloths and you will have a conversation for hours. Writer, editor and researcher, Kirsten has developed Ponderings into a space that is now shared by a team and a shared vision that is infectiously positive and forged in good stuff.

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15 Tips on How To Be A Good Digital Citizen in Business

15 Tips on How To Be A Good Digital Citizen in Business

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

If you are in business you most likely know how important it is to have a thriving digital presence, but what about internet etiquette and ethics? 

How we behave online greatly reflects our business but it can also flow through to our personal lives causing extreme stress and discomfort for workplace colleagues and reputation. 

How often have you heard horror stories about a brand’s customer service? Happens more than you think. Social media is the playground for human dynamics to play out, and like all playgrounds it isn’t always nice. 

Human behavior and reputation management go hand in hand, so it pays to know your audience well! 

 

Being a good digital citizen helps know who you are; and it also helps you to protect and maintain your integrity. This is as crucial as having a brick-and-mortar retail store in a prominent position, front and centre on the main street with wonderful foot traffic passing by and cleancut employees who know what to say, how to say it, and have etiquette oozing from their every action.

 

So how can one be a good digital citizen? How do you, as a business, use technology appropriately and responsibly—be it on social media, e-mails, or more?

1. Keep exchanges legal and legitimate.

2. Maintain a professional and courteous demeanor around the clock.

3. Maintain a positive tone and attitude.

4. Avoid poor spelling, punctuation, grammar, and be careful with your choice of words.

5. Keep in mind that while we are using a computer to converse, there are real people on the other end.

6. Always ensure you have permissions in place for images and reference where you get your information from! Just because its online, doesn’t mean you can take it without permission. 

7. Use phone calls when necessary to avoid mishaps in tone and assumptions. 

8. Avoid spammy over-promotion. Create content that is useful to customers and be authentic without being offensive!

9. Authenticity is the queen of making connections online, fake isn’t nice in real life and it doesn’t translate well online either! 

10. Don’t use marketing as a means to throw shade to competitors. Keep personal opinions out of it, you might think cats suck but your business place online is not the place to put it. 

11. Do not tolerate offensive, bigoted and derogatory remarks from people on your pages. Be very aware of who is posting and have some firm boundaries in place! Turn the notification settings on so you know when someone has commented or ensure the person looking after your social media is being alerted! 

12. Use negative commentary or reviews as an opportunity to show people how you respond to feedback. Polite, positive language helps and a commitment to show you are trying to solve the problem.

13. Deleting reviews are harder than ever and not clever. If people see you doing this they question your motives, so use it as an opportunity, they are always there. Prepare statements and keep them on file so you have a template of responses. Proactive is always the best policy! 

14. Everyone working for you visibly represents your business online and on social media. This is important to remember, whether they are actual employees, subcontractors, or brand ambassadors. Have a social media policy in place for your team! Never abuse, always engage wisdom and more importantly remember; if people have you showing up on their news feed you are a part of their day, so try and be the best part of it, not the mundane. 

15. Be inclusive, always. Use inclusive language and make sure diversification is a part of your brand. Give extra! 

Virtual impressions matter as much as in-person first impressions. Bad experiences can stay with a customer forever, losing you business. Creating a positive digital footprint can be done quite simply if you have the right tools and mindset. Being a good digital citizen in business is not necessary – it’s crucial. 

 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Narnia, A Faraway Tree with a smidge of a Doc called Suess, and some Kahlil Gibran is the word charm that grew seeds in Kirsten Macdonald's imagination. She has an innate curiosity about the stories of "us" and a deep faith that is strongly supported by a dark sense of humour. Ask this wordsmith about anthropology, ancient religions, the curious nature of humanity and the incredible cuteness of sloths and you will have a conversation for hours. Writer, editor and researcher, Kirsten has developed Ponderings into a space that is now shared by a team and a shared vision that is infectiously positive and forged in good stuff.

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Follow Us

Join

Subscribe & Support Positive stortelling

Support our mission to write and produce Positive Stortelling, it takes a tribe to build one. We donate $2 from every subscription to Vision Australia

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