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.

 

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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 Lion, The Witch, Tolkien and Atheism…We Ponder Into the Wardrobe of C.S Lewis

The Lion, The Witch, Tolkien and Atheism…We Ponder Into the Wardrobe of C.S Lewis

Author C.S Lewis has held my attention and imagination captive for many years. For those who know and love Narnia, a wardrobe will never ever be just a wardrobe. A lion will never just be a lion. Ever.

As a wee poppet, I loved a good story, and Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia is an all-time favourite. The first book in the series of seven was The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe. Set in WW2, three siblings are sent to the home of Professor Digory Kirke to escape the impending threat on London by Nazi Germany. What came next was nothing short of a masterpiece of fantasy, magic, heroic adventure and mythical beasts. The narrative of what lies beneath this formidable and conflicted world endures to the current day, where his books continue to sell millions of copies and translated into multiple languages, movies and TV series. I believe along with the Magic Faraway Tree it started my fascination with multiple dimensions- the portal into places afar is more than a little captivating. 

 

An intellectual herculean of his time, albeit a humble one- Clive Staples Lewis was born in 1898 in Belfast.

Oxford and Cambridge Universities were his stomping grounds along with his friend, JRR Tolkien.  It was actually during a stroll in the September of 1931 along Addison’s Walk in the ground of Magdelen College that a conversation would change the course of the Irish scholar’s life. The passionate and reportedly steadfast atheist chatted with Tolkien and Hugo Dyson about metaphor and myth. After some robust debate, Lewis was challenged by Tolkien that the myth of Christ was real and worth further investigation. C’mon right? More than a little fascinating, there was this one time when Tolkien and I were chatting…  

Forty books later and countless works of literature, both in fantasy and academia, CS Lewis became one of the most prolific writers and lay theologians of the twentieth century. 

The world of Narnia provided more grown-up tales exploring loss, heroism, villainy, forgiveness, faith, siblings, and children’s courage. Aslan, the lion, was as fierce and wonderous as the witch was frighteningly real, the beautiful trickster incarnate! There were life lessons to be discovered and a hankering for Turkish delight. To my fascination, the female characters developed stealthy warrior skills that were to be reckoned with. For a time, the book was banned in several countries for its perceived violence. 

The world is once again in a state of compunction, and perhaps dare I say it; a hue of change?

I pray each day, each of us might find silver threads in the lining of all this; I know many have. In the meantime, Pondering can help us find meaning in a world of disquietude, and so I have found some of my favourite C.S.Lewis quotes to do what we do best – inspire, reflect and prosper. Now as I write this the cool air is coming in, I think I need a coat… time to go to the wardrobe. (wink)

 

Our team has decided a gift is in order, so make sure you access your free subscription to Ponderings– Until June 2020. Normally 4.95 per month. We will choose a lucky subscriber to send this complete Chronicles of Narnia Hardcover collection, beautifully illustrated, featuring all seven books along with an essay by C.S.Lewis on writing. Valued at $89.95 

 

“Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it. And don’t talk too much about it even among yourselves. And don’t mention it to anyone else unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves. What’s that? How will you know? Oh, you’ll know all right. Odd things, they say even their looks will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools.”

-The Professor”

Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) 

 

 

Sources:’

Further reading and sources:
Sources: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/41513-once-a-king-in-narnia-always-a-king-in-narnia

https://www.cslewis.com/us/about-cs-lewis/
https://www.vqronline.org/essay/cs-lewis-and-his-critics

photo credit: creative commons Illustrated by Pauline Baynes 

photo credit: C.S Lewis square- belfast https://discovernorthernireland.com 

 

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We will choose a lucky subscriber to send this complete Chronicles of Narnia Hardcover collection, beautifully illustrated, featuring all seven books along with an essay by C.S.Lewis on writing. Valued at $89.95 

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Lights, Camera Action in Geelong

Lights, Camera Action in Geelong

Montanna Macdonald

Montanna Macdonald

Journalist Ponderings

As safe COVID-19 practices draw more Hollywood actors to Australian shores, the Geelong region is just one of many booming cities with film industry potential. 

With an abundance of opportunity for major film productions, the Geelong region’s future is looking promising. Some previous Geelong film sets include Mad Max, the Dressmaker, Paper Champions, not to mention multiple streaming service shows like Netflix’s show Rostered On and teen series currently filming on the Surfcoast, Surviving Summer.

The arts and entertainment industry is struggling with restrictions on gathering, events, and tourism globally. Still, funding resources and COVID-SAFE film production in Australia is an exciting avenue for future filmmakers, jobs, and encouraging investment back into the arts and hearts of Aussie towns. 

A new foundation in Geelong called the Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation is paving the way for encouraging filmmakers to produce in town, with tax deductible funding and grants available for film production in Geelong. A game changer in an entertainment industry that is battling through a pandemic. 

Ponderings met with Executive Director of the Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation, Belinda Lyle, for an interview to discuss the exciting opportunities, resources and support for local emerging artists the Foundation can provide.

What does the Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation want to achieve in Geelong? 

“A group of local stakeholders are now working to create an environment in which a sustainable local film and TV industry are possible. With diverse and impressive natural landscape Geelong is destined for the screen. Urban areas, semi-rural landscapes and beautiful coastline see Geelong and surrounding as an ideal area for filmmaking. Let’s establish a filmmaking hub with a framework in place to make it easy to film in the area!” 

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What is Geelong Waterfront Film? 

 

“Geelong Waterfront Film (GWF) is set up as a Foundation, in which once adequately funded via local investors, backers and the community at large will assist filmmakers financially should they choose to film in the region.”

“The brainchild of the Foundation, Geelong Accountant Mr Patrick Rowan, found when producers currently come to the region, they are usually looking for ways to raise completion of finance for final production. As an Accountant, he was often approached to recommend investors. Establishment of the Waterfront Film Foundation allows investors to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation which in turn can be a grant or investment to those filming in the region.”

How does Geelong Waterfront Film support local emerging talent in the region?

“GWF is committed to supporting local and emerging filmmakers, creating another funding stream for them. Through its financial support, the Foundation allows for more diverse voices to be heard as this could mean the difference between a film being made or not. This extensive project now also has a newly established board consisting of various artists and Geelong professionals. 

What achievements has the board managed so far?

We have a small grant from the City of Greater Geelong to establish a database of people in the industry. There’s so much talent in Geelong – experienced and emerging filmmakers, directors, lighting & sound engineers, actors, – post-production experts, we are continually surprised with who’s coming out of the woodwork.”

“We want people to be able to come to Geelong to film and know there’s expert talent here to help with the production. The evolving database will help point people in the right direction.”

“In the BIG picture, GWF wants to host the Waterfront Film Festival, think Cannes and Sundance – red carpet and limos – all on Geelong’s stunning Waterfront. This would certainly attract international attention. Wheels are in motion for local film awards and the criteria that must be filmed in the Geelong region. This is a chance to showcase existing and up and coming talent.”

Belinda Lyle, Executive Director GWF.

Belinda Lyle, Executive Director GWF.

 If you are an actor or an aspiring filmmaker, how can you get involved?

 

  • Sign up for the Industry database. It costs $20 per annum to set up to be listed on the website database. Your talents are also promoted through WFF’s social media. It’s not only actors and filmmakers – anyone involved with the industry can sign up to the database!

 

  • Member-only events are planned for down the track offering networking opportunities. 

 

  • There are also opportunities for businesses to get involved with sponsorship. 

 

  • We also run several working committees if anyone wants to be involved with the project. 

 

  • Film-buffs and people interested in the arts can also sign up as a “Friend of Geelong Waterfront Film” for $20. Tax-deductible donations can also be made to the Foundation. 

 

The future of film in Geelong is an exciting avenue for jobs, emerging local talent and tourism, and we look forward to watching this space! To find out how you can support- jump over to: https://www.geelongwaterfrontfilm.com.au 

 

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The Moving Tide of Mama Kin

The Moving Tide of Mama Kin

Photo credit Jarrad Seng | Words Kirsten Macdonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

We ponder with Mama Kin.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How is David now?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Treehouse or cubby house?

 

Teepee… so I suppose cubby!

 

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

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

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

 

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


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

 

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Get your Scandi On- Insights of Interior Design

Get your Scandi On- Insights of Interior Design

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

 

We ponder with Netherlands native and Geelong’s newest addition to the style scene- Maartje Hartveldt.

 

Scandinavian influence on design, and its persistent popularity make it more than a cultural trend we infuse, copy and paste – but rather an enduring aesthetic that appears to really resonate with those seeking simplicity, elements of nature, light and refuge. Rising to popularity in the 1940’s and 1950’s Nordic clean line interiors have a philosophy behind the style. We caught up with Maarjte Hardveldt from MH Interior Decorating to ponder the intrigue of Scandi design and renovation decisions. 

  

Why do you think the Scandi Style has grown so popular in Australia?

I feel that the Scandi look really reflects the Coastal Lifestyle here in Australia. You see many Scandi styled homes with BOHO influences, a beautiful mix with a true Coastal Vibe.

What are your favourite aspects of the style?

Besides light and airy, the Scandi Style is also characterized by simplicity, minimalism, and functionality, bringing this overall feeling of serenity and relaxation to the space. I love the neutral colour scheme, the whites, the use of lots of natural fibres, the clutter-free aesthetic and clean lines.  

In your field of expertise, how important are ambience and aesthetic when creating space?

These two words are equally important when designing a space. Ambience determines how you will feel in a space, so think about lighting, for instance. I am a big lover of dimmable lights, so you can play with the mood and create the right atmosphere for every occasion. The aesthetics of a space is really the heart whilst designing as that’s the overall style in which you consider balance, shape, colour, pattern, scale and use of material.   

When undertaking renovations, particularly new structures within the house, kitchens, bathrooms etc.- what do you look for in a tradesperson?

That’s a very good question and from my experience in all those years renovating in The Netherlands and Australia, I think tradespeople should be very good at their job. People sometimes don’t consider an essential skillset- Listening! Is your tradesperson a good listener, and do they have an open mind? Being willing to go beyond what they know and visualizing with an open mind focussed on quality will get the best result. 

How can people create simplicity and get that minimalist vibe in cohesion with making a space that reflects your personality?

First of all, I would recommend to see the space as a white canvas and draw up a floorplan in which you choose statement pieces of furniture rather than having too many pieces that will take away the minimalist feel of the space. 

Make use of the natural light, choose muted colours, wood accents, natural fabrics, textures and fibres, greenery and always consider the less is more approach. 

By adding photos of people you care about or moments captured in a photo, grouping your treasures in a cabinet, add your favourite flowers, put some of your best books on display and use a scent diffuser with your favourite smell, you can reflect your personality without ‘destroying’ your new beautiful, cohesive minimalistic space. 

 

What is the most common mistake people make when doing a room upgrade or changing the space?

I guess not looking at the space as a whole but bringing in details they like without considering all elements together.  

What is the first thing people can do to make the process of changing a space less daunting?

My biggest advice would be to start with a mood-board, so you have an idea of what style you like and consider how you want to make the room to feel. 

Key questions you should ask yourself are:

 How will the space be used? 

What are the practical needs? 

Who uses the space, when is the space used and what activities will happen here? 

Set a budget and identify where the most significant impact can be made, so where is it important to spend money and work out to save money. 

Consider what already exists within the space that can be upcycled, repurposed, and decluttered throughout this process. 

Research product prices, check out the portfolios of those you are considering, ask for quotes, make a renovating/decorating plan, and start the exciting adventure.   

My biggest advice would be to really consider The Story that you want your home to tell about you, your family, and life; stay true to your own personal treasures. Sometimes you see these amazingly styled homes, but they lack personality. 

 

‘An interior is the natural projection of the soul’ – Coco Chanel.

so I believe that your home should be a reflection of yourself.

 

What is your background in design and what lead you to design now?

 

My background is basically working for a High-End Dutch Fashion Designer in Amsterdam for over a decade, in which I have been infused with design in general. Every season, creating a new Catwalk Collection always with a meticulous balance between materials, texture, colour, pattern, and shape. Besides this career in the Fashion Industry, I was renovating and styling houses. Creating a collection or creating a space feels very similar as it’s all about completing the puzzle, metaphorically speaking.

To find out more about Maartje and her renovation journey, head to:

insta: mh_interior_decorating (Maartje Design Solutions)

http://www.mhinteriordecorating.com.au

https://mhinteriordecorating.com.au

If you are looking for excellent Cabinetmakers who are open-minded, innovative and quality- go no further than ICM- Independent Cabinet Makers Geelong.

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Musical Queen Lizzy- The Treasure Of Kyabram

Musical Queen Lizzy- The Treasure Of Kyabram

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

 

A small town often holds within it a treasure. Humble treasure in the form of a person.

Golden humans who go beyond care and into a level of compassion and dedication that fills hearts. In a world that can often feel self-serving and lonely, this kind of treasure is vital. Why? Because when acts of kindness and kinship enter a person’s life for no other reason than the recognition that they need a little help- it changes lives. In Kyabram Victoria, Liz Dillon is this treasure. 

  

Liz is a vocal and performance coach and the founder of The Gift. The Gift started as a passion project to help raise funds to support local people living with Cancer. It is now a fully teamed Charity that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars alongside community bonding through social events and fundraisers. She is humble and whilst I know she will cringe at this article’s title, she is a Queen of hearts for many people. (She’s also very funny) Liz has been the heart and soul for many aspiring musicians in the area and according to locals has been a life support for many burgeoning artists.

 

How do you unwind and reflect?

Reflection- well, it’s funny you ask; my daughter and I recently pulled up at a new set of traffic lights in a town we tutor in, and she said how much she didn’t like them ( the new lights). I said, “I like them…it gives me time to reflect” she looked at me frowning, and I smiled. I reflect every moment I get to pause. 

These lights are on our way home, and I usually drive solo. I get to these lights, and if they are red, they remind me to breath and reflect on the day.

 

How do I unwind? – Look, I don’t think I actually ever do completely. Music is a huge part of my day; I often turn to it as a distraction for what else needs be done. ( best procrastinator in the world). Classical music does take me to the closest level of relaxation and unwinding. -And Gin. 

Knowledge is powerful. Do you have a gem of wisdom you now know that you wish you knew when you were younger? Something you want young women could know too? 

Many things- why stop at one? 

That I am worthy. Yeah ….. we are worthy, and talking about periods is normal. Whoops, that was two.

Your incredible dedication to the town of Kyabram extends well past the town boundary and into hearts everywhere. Your pursuit of musical education and joy through Dillmac entertainment, as well as The Gift, is more than a smidge inspiring. What part of you spurs you on to lead on these projects? Has this always been a part of your personality?

That’s hard to answer simply because I find all these things to be just a normal part of life. Shouldn’t everyone do this? YES – every town needs a Gift. 

Every child should have access to an education in music and charity begins in the home….(that’s what my  mum always said- I used to think it meant our home as a kid.) 

My mum taught me about charity and empathy. Whether she knows it or not, I wouldn’t be doing what I do with the Gift if it wasn’t for her. My mum is charitable and still, at 81 years old, gets out there supporting the community. We did meals on wheels together for a few years that really opened my eyes to a different part of our community.

But what drives me to keep going with the Gift?~ just the people. Their stories. Their fight.

Why should families have to drain their life savings for expenses associated with everything cancer brings? Why can’t our community pay for that? So we do. Our community does that. And otter towns help too. We raise funds all year. And it helps. It’s a gift. 

My music. It was my Saviour. Always. I couldn’t have gotten through school without it. Through life so far without it. I see the joy, feel the joy it brings to not only the amazing humans we have at Dillmac but their family, friends and us tutors.

I think this deep heavy ( wrong word ) feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear and see the kids perform. And I cry – ha! Yeah, I cry a lot from pure joy and such great pride. And admiration and even still a bit of disbelief that this is my life and these kids can do this.? Music and these amazing beings. So lucky. So privileged.

This month we are looking at the practice of Hygge – the Danes have it down like a boss. What is your ideal cosy corner? What would it look like? 

So much comes to mind. My constant go-to is, of course, my family. They are my comfort zone. But I am my own cozy corner. Wow. Did I just say that? 

I just love to be alone. Not always, but I enjoy my time being alone. I’m never lonely when I’m alone.  I feel safe. There are a few certain people in my life that I feel the same whilst in their company. I can count them on the one hand. My corner would be my family, my five on the one hand – music and a month of Sundays.

If you wrote a letter to Cancer, what would the first sentence say? 

 

Dear Cancer. I hate your stinking guts. 

You make me vomit; you are the scum between my toes. 

Liz 

( letter from alfalfa to Darla – little rascals) 

 

If I had a chance to write two?

 

Dear Cancer 

How does get @#*ked sound?

Liz

 

I took that chance and wrote two.

 

What are you reading right now? 

Honestly? My new timetable for work …. three weeks it’s taken me. No time for reading until the term is well on its way, and then I have a pile of books to catch up on. A pile. All survival stories. Surviving against the odds. 

What is your favourite way to celebrate your successes in life? 

My husband and family are my successes. They are my happiness. I celebrate life with them whenever I am with them. Alive for many days- but dead once. 

Who are you listening to right now? 

At this time of the year…everything. We are picking songs for our students to learn. But I always revisit, no doubt – Baby Animals and Pink.

Moulin Rouge the movie version, She used to be mine from Waitress (Sara Bareilles singing it, not the musical version ) and Jagged Little Pill – the musical and the whole album, ( yes Alanis Morissette’s music in a musical ) 

They- by Jem ( who are they – ), ok stopping now. 

Best sad song?

Everybody Hurts- the REM version is good, but the Corrs version, wow! Need a cry? Get on it! 

Most romantic?

The Story -Brandi Carlile – 

Feels like home -Chantel Kreviak 

Even when I’m sleeping -Leonardo’s Bride. 

When it comes to romance, you can not stop at one…

What is that musical Earworm that gives you the shits, but you sing to it anyway? 

Anything ABBA

What is the song that gets you moving? 

Dance wise…omg, not a dancer, but… I love a private jive to ~ I Will Survive!

Treehouse or cubbyhouse?

Never treehouse afraid of heights. Thinking about a balcony in a unit on holidays weakens my knees and stomach… so much so it nearly makes me cancel every time and just book the ground floor! So cubby house for sure! And now I play in the cubby house with my grandkids,… well I would if I could fit in it. 🤣

What do you love about living in a country town? 

Easy -My family. And the community spirit. Anytime someone needs help, this community will rally…. all small towns do the same, but I’m in this one …so yeah, it’s the best. I’ve done Melbourne and Sydney. Regional is the best kick out the rest, and around the corner really means around the corner.

If you want to listen to Liz’s Playlist- click here; we compiled her curation in our Music Playlist for the month. 

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

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The Art Of Hygge- It’s A Happiness Vibe

The Art Of Hygge- It’s A Happiness Vibe

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

 

Fancy a cosy corner or a warm fuzzy feeling of contentedness? 

If you love an ambient pub or fireplace chats with warm cookies and great company- there’s an excellent reason! It’s a Hygge vibe. 

According to the World Happiness Report, Finland and Denmark take first and second place as the world’s happiest countries. What’s the secret? Quite possibly Hygge! According to the Danes, our northern counterparts; Hygge- pronounced “hue-gah” or “hoo-guh is a Norweigan word that falls under a cultural category, meaning -a hug without the touch. 

For the linguaphile -the word hygge comes from a Danish word meaning “to give courage, comfort, joy”. Hygge stems from hyggja which means “to think” in Old Norse. Hygge is built from the Old Norse word hugr which later became the hug which means the soul, mind, consciousness. 

Meik Wiking is an expert and author of The Little Book of Hygge. According to Meik Wiking, the practice of Hygge is charming, cosy, wholesome but with a sprinkle of sinful snacking like chocolate. 

“Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to the cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight”. 

Ponderers, there is even a Hygge cookbook – ( I ordered it, and the recipes are most certainly sinful) Click here to check it out  Scandikitchen: Fika and Hygge.  

How do we achieve that fuzzy feeling of Hygge? 

Well there are so many ways to have a Hygge moment or make time for Hygge, but the fundamentals according to Meik are; 

1) Light! Ambient light. Ever wondered why the Scandi style is so focussed on lighting?

The design aesthetic and colour temperature are essential to creating Hygge. Candles are also HUGE; the Scandi countries are the largest consumers of candles in the world. We have some for you here – the wonderful folks over at Angel Sent Candles have a Hygge range and they’ve shared them with us at www.shop.angelsentcandles.com

2) Presence- get off the phones and be in the moment! 

3) Pleasure-

Think cakes, pastries, hot drinks and lollies! Here’s the link to that book again if you didn’t see it already- Scandikitchen: Fika and Hygge  

4) Equality – We over Me

Sharing is caring. Share household chores. Share attention and listening. Share your love for those around you.

5) Gratitude-

 

Take it all in; this might be as good as it gets.

 

6) Harmony,

 

We already like you, no need to mention your achievements or the current political environment. You get the drift.

 

7) Comfort, cosiness, blankets,

 

Take a break and relax. But Hygge is humble and slow, not expensive. Ugly warm socks and homemade cookies are more than acceptable vs champagne and heels. Simplicity and modesty are crucial components.  

 

8) Truce-

 

No drama and a sense of belonging will ensue. No topics of tension and arguments must be put to one side. 

 

9) Togetherness,

 

Build a narrative, play a board game. Do you remember the time we…? Oxytocin is released when we are physically near someone, its called the hug hormone, so Hygge away! Cooperation, trust and love are the buzzwords here. 

 

10) Shelter,

 

This is your tribe and a place of peace and tranquillity. 

 

Sounds wonderful right? 

Every home I have lived in; the first thing I needed was a cozy corner. Always. I love nothing more than snuggling up in my favourite chair, pooch at my side, a candle burning, a cup of herbal tea, soothing music and if it’s winter- that fireplace earns its keep. 

So after reading Meik’s book, I decided to introduce the family to Hygge night- Sunday evenings would be dedicated to pure Hygge-ness. 

We rolled out our new Harry Potter Cluedo game, put the earlier made cookies on a plate, made some dutch cocoa, grabbed some comfy blankets, pillows and dimmed lighting all topped off with the Harry Potter soundtrack playing in the background. Phew. It was pretty magical. A cringe-worthy moment of wholesome indulgence. 

I was very tired, so I snuggled in on the couch with the bunch and watched on picking broccoli seeds and enjoying the merriment. It was beautiful. 

Then the dog farted- no one had explained Hygge to him so totally not his fault. Kind of ruined the vibe. When I looked at the aforementioned hound with a raised eyebrow, he stared at me right back; I imagined a Seth McFarlane Brian Griffin-Esque voice “stupid humans.”  

Have you got the Hygge vibe?

Check out our Pinterest curation of all things Hygge and the video below for further awesome ideas. Go to app.ponderings.com.au to get the Hygge links or check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

We partnered with Angel Sent Candles – here’s their new Hygge range of candles. 

PS- 

“The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. The World Happiness Report 2020 for the first time ranks cities around the world by their subjective well-being and digs more deeply into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect our happiness.” 

https://worldhappiness.report

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Stephanie Asher- Geelong’s Shining Light

Stephanie Asher- Geelong’s Shining Light

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Mayor, Committee Chair, Advocate, Mother, Businesswoman, Consultant and Author, amongst other delightful discoveries- this reads like an à la carte menu of achievement. However, amongst the glaring lights of success, it is the sunny, fresh-faced honesty and integrity that has you standing in the shine that is Stephanie Asher. 

Many describe you as being very positively driven with an abundant flair for leadership- did you have someone in your life as a child who inspired you or a role model you believe influenced these aspects? 

My parents were career-focused and managed to balance their work ethic by providing my sister and I with a happy and healthy childhood, which I consider the ultimate privilege.

My dad has always been incredibly focused on values and the importance of a society founded on sound moral values. At the same time, my mum is extremely social and managed the connection between work relationships and friendships very well. I learned a lot from them both, and I’m grateful every day for their emphasis on a good education.

 The leadership aspect probably comes about because I see solutions quite easily and over time, I’ve learned to voice them and own them. As Rosanne Barr said, “As a woman, no one is going to give you power, you have to take it.”

Do you believe a growth mindset is a skill someone can learn? 

If that means a focus on abundance rather than a fear of scarcity, absolutely. And once learned, it’s so important to keep remembering – to bite down on that panic that we are not enough and that we may miss out.

There is a huge sense of freedom and confidence in shifting from the marketing-driven ‘need to compete’ to a spirit of generosity and appreciating that there is actually plenty for everyone. 

If you could only use three words to describe your perfect day; what would it be? 

Sunny, active and fun.

Have you had a crisis that transformed into a valuable learning experience? 

Probably more than I’m prepared to put in writing! Travelling alone to Europe on a one-way ticket four days after turning 21 was filled with challenges and mini-crises, but the year away backpacking was life-changing. 

One example was arriving in Nice late at night to no accommodation, and my plan to sleep at the train station was foiled when it closed at midnight. I ended up sleeping (with one eye open) on the beach, which was vaguely terrifying and decidedly uncomfortable as it’s not sandy! Learning to survive through challenges provides inner strength.

What is a habit in people you find irksome? 

I’m fascinated by people, and I find that the most irritating traits can also be funny. But sniffing is annoying and licking a knife is disgusting and more than a bit dangerous.

 What are you reading right now? 

 The Gina Rhinehart biography by Adele Ferguson.

 Favourite movie of all time? 

 

I have the memory of a sieve with movies, but seeing Watership Down as a kid had a major impact on me, not least because the music was so powerful. All-time faves are probably Zoolander, Happy Gilmore and anything Monty Python because I laugh out loud every time I think about particular scenes. 

 

What inspired you to write The Footy Lady, and if you could choose one resonating memory from this experience, what would it be? 

A mutual friend connected Sue Alberti and I, and we clicked at our first meeting over coffee. Sue’s life story is so colourful, so dramatic and such a powerful demonstration of the power of grit and resilience to transform lives. It was impossible not to want to write about it! The unexpected aspect of being Sue’s biographer was the inspiration she provided to me personally about never giving up. It is a message that is so important to women, in particular, as we face many hurdles and a lot of them are invisible. Sue literally keeps showing up despite constant knockbacks, and she is always flawlessly groomed and brings a beaming smile. My resonating memory is of Sue’s beautiful smile and wicked sense of humour. She is a winner.  

Favourite genre of music? 

 

My taste is so eclectic it’s ridiculous. I grew up with dad rocking our Saturday mornings with Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Diamond, The Fifth Dimension, Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack. I then spent my teens and 20s in Melbourne’s live music venues being a ‘friend of the band’, had a housemate for seven years obsessed with 70s metal and now my daughter is valiantly educating me with current artists. Having said all that, I do have a soft spot for 60s soul.

I feel as though you have a solid collaborative and progressive impact on Geelong and district, which is positive at least and in a dignified way that gives a flourish of class and excitement. This kind of cohesion in a council once described in less favourable ways is inspiring. The legacy seems to have changed course significantly- in light of this, what do you believe is intrinsic to happiness and productivity in a complex workplace? 

 

Thank you for your very kind words! Be assured that I don’t work alone; I have a great group of councillors around me who are part of that shift to professionalism and collaborative spirit.

For happy and productive workplaces, I believe acceptance is really important – acceptance of other people, different views and new ways of doing things. I always distinguish between tolerance and acceptance because tolerance has a condescension about it, whereas acceptance is kind and generous.

A sense of fun is also mandatory wherever I spend significant time and effort – if you can’t have a laugh, it’s not worth being there.

Professionally speaking, accountability is critical. I manage large people-centric projects as a consultant, and high-performing workplaces are focused on getting things done and clear accountability. When people know their role and the timelines associated with tasks, they can function more effectively. Opacity and incompetence go hand in hand.

Treehouse or cubbyhouse and why? 

 

Both are hugely appealing, but I’d opt for a treehouse for the view and the perspective. And the birdsong!

 

What message would you like us to ponder?

 

 It made a huge impact on me when I chose to embrace uncertainty in life. At 27, I chose a career as a consultant and set up my own business. As a female, I could see the challenges ahead with trying to have a family in a permanent corporate role. The alternative – uncertainty – has the benefit of flexibility and freedom.

Having moved from Melbourne to the surf coast 20 years ago, I have a non-local perspective, and I suspect it’s my city upbringing that allows me to see how regional areas can struggle with change and lack of certainty. 

Once we accept that change is inevitable and that it can be positive and exciting, there is the chance to then look at what we can influence and what we can’t. Fighting change usually means missing out on the opportunity to control that change. 

My observation is that the people of Greater Geelong are starting to see the benefits of managing change well. So many people say Geelong has great potential and I believe that if we continue to work together to manage our regional growth in a sustainable way then we will realise that potential. 

It is such an amazing region – I call the Bellarine ‘the best holiday place to live’ – and I am confident we are all of a similar mindset that we want to prosper at pace, but in a gentle and sensitive manner.

To find out more about The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Geelong, Ms Stephanie Asher- (her well earned title, eloquent don’t you think?) head over to: 

https://geelongaustralia.com.au/councillors/article/item/8d540963de6a0dd.aspx

https://geelongconsulting.com

Click here to get your copy!

Bought to you by Stephanie Asher- Susan Alberti- The woman from the working-class suburbs has battled boardrooms, cancer, diabetes, open-heart surgery and shed 59 kilos—half her body weight—on the road to recovery. She has stared down adversity and prevailed.

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Love Letters From The Ukulele Dream Girl

Love Letters From The Ukulele Dream Girl

Romance to survive Covid, thanks to a novel Valentine’s Day gift from an Adelaide Fringe artist and Love Letter Enthusiast.

When dating options took a hit during the height of Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, Adelaide Fringe artist, Phi Theodoros, put down her ukulele and turned to her pen to keep the romance alive with her partner through the art of the love letter. 

“Lock down was a real catalyst for people to slow down so it was a nice return to handwritten love letters when my partner had to move back to Brisbane in late March. Through the nostalgic thrill of sending them and the anticipation of a reply, I became aware of how this simple joy had been lost in the pre-Covid times of busy nights out and fast-typed words in Messenger,” says Phi.

“This is why I decided to do something to help others rekindle passion and encourage new ways to express their affection for their significant others or others-to-be.”

“For everybody who buys tickets to my Adelaide Fringe show, Ukulele Dream Girl – Love at a Distance, before Valentine’s Day, I invite them to contact me directly so I can offer a little, personal serenade to them and their beloved during one of my shows,” she says.

Ukulele Dream Girl – Love at a Distance uses song and storytelling to explore different perspectives of distant love. More relatable now than ever while we strive to maintain genuine human connections with loved ones in the world of instagram, facebook and social distancing.

It covers Phi’s long distance love story alongside Tinder Casanovas, high school stalkers, mental health and migration. This poetic journey is more than your typical love story.

To celebrate love during Valentine’s Day, Phi is offering a personal serenade to couples who pre- purchase a ticket before Feb 14th. To find out more, romantics are asked to message Ukulele Dream Girl directly via Facebook or sign up to her mailing list to receive an exclusive discount code.

The Lark at Gluttony – Rymill Park

East Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000

20, 21 and 26th of February at 5pm

5, 6, 7, 8 of March at 5pm

Tickets – Full Price $25, Concession $20

Show Dates & Venues:

Laneway Garden Stage at Mixed Creative

20, 27th of February at 8pm

28 of February at 7pm

Tickets – Full Price $25, Concession $20

Tickets available via: bit.ly/LaaDFringeTix

Email Phi via storyteller@phitheodoros.com or 0401 517 082 for enquiries relating to

interviews, group bookings, media/reviewer comps or accessibility enquiries

Thanks to the Department of Premier and Cabinet through Arts South Australia and Adelaide Fringe.

 

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The Real Cost Of Grey Pride-More Than Just Root Deep

The Real Cost Of Grey Pride-More Than Just Root Deep

Written by Kate O’Donnell

Whilst “going grey” is a natural progression, humankind has fought it defiantly. The weaponry? Hair dye, henna concoctions, boot polish (we’re not joking), hairpieces, and wigs to name a few.

Concealing and hiding greys has been a long-standing battle. In the 20’s and 40’s talking grey was taboo and one tended to their grey secretly. Now, however, there is a building momentum to ditch the hair dye and embrace the grey. The trend of grey pride is building, and with icons such as Jamie Lee Curtis, George Clooney, Tara Moss, Tracey Spicer, Selma Hayek, and Gwenyth Paltrow embracing the grey, we thought it an interesting topic to ponder.

According to Penn Medicine, the average age to begin going grey is in your 30’s. After 30, your chances of having grey hair goes up to 10 to 20% every decade. Most studies suggest half of the population will have 50% grey hair by the age of 50. 

It seems that fighting grey is a rather uphill battle. And an expensive one at that! 

Given the statistics, it does seem rather silly to consider how going grey naturally is becoming a phenomenon! From interviews with celebs to support groups on Facebook, Women (predominantly) have taken to social media and rallied. For what? For some going grey naturally has given a sense of empowerment, self-acceptance, and radical defiance of not conforming to an outdated ideal. For others, grey hair was liberating. Not wasting time and money at the hairdressers or worrying about maintaining hair colour and covering grey roots.

In a Ted talk, Tracey Spicer stunned viewers when she un-transformed. Her goal was to show how many hours it takes and how much income is spent on looking the way society thinks you should. 

“I started going grey in my late 20’s, we have it in the family it’s genetic so I’ve always dyed my hair. When I was in my last 40’s I thought my God this is time-consuming, it’s expensive and it’s inauthentic.”

 

Rise of the silver Vixen!

Grey hair can be seen from many different lenses. Some cultures view grey alongside wisdom, elder leadership, and right of passage. However, in the western world, we predominantly relate grey hair with ageing and no longer standing in our prime.

Whilst there have been many positive stories of going grey gracefully, it has not been without backlash. 

Sue, an Australian woman in her 60’s spoke with Ponderings about her grey- journey. Sue chose to stop dyeing her hair in her 50’s and was shocked when she received  hurtful comments of “letting herself go” and being advised to dye her hair so she didn’t look so old. These comments were from her workplace AND friends. Perhaps 50 with shades of Grey is not nearly as exciting as the movie…

In her 60’s, with a complete head of silver, we asked Sue if embracing her grey was as empowering as it was cracked up to be.

The answer may disappoint.

Turns out since going grey naturally, Sue feels invisible in the community. Often dismissed and considered old and out of touch.

 

“I’ve been referred to as an old lady more times than i’d like to count. Now all of my hair is grey I am talked down to in shops, referred to as “Sweety, Dear and Darling”. None of these titles are endearing and rather patronising. 

 

It appears that with grey pride, comes a free invisibility cloak and a ticket to ageism.

Perhaps it’s not the colour that is the problem, but rather the reflection of grey = ageing and in the Western world’s view on age.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if the attitude towards age was like the   same appreciation of an aged good wine with rich tannins?  

We ponder on the movement of women claiming back their grooming en masse and if it will alter acceptance and a higher level of respect rather than a lesser one. 

What are some of your experiences? We would love to ponder these with you…let’s start a conversation!

P.S personally we think you should  rock that silver or dye your hair purple if it brings you joy. 

Check out this insta profile- very cool https://www.instagram.com/grombre/ 

Check out our Ponderings Pinterest Style Guide : https://pin.it/3DTfSIs

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Invisible Disability Stigma Signals Need For Change

Invisible Disability Stigma Signals Need For Change

Disability discrimination accounts for the highest volume of complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission annually.

This can potentially lead to those living with an invisible disability to decide to hide their condition from prospective employers in fear of discrimination and social stigma, according to leading Disability Employment Services experts atWork Australia. In order to create inclusive workplaces, the need for support, open conversation and businesses to see the ability in disability, has never been more important.

The International Day of People with Disability will be observed on 3 December, with the theme ‘seeing the ability in disability’. With this in mind, it’s key to note that not all disabilities are visible and therefore conversations should be widely encouraged, promoting empowerment and inclusiveness. It needs to be said that focussing on abilities is positive, however labelling and the stigma attached to ‘dis’ rings loud and clear across the country regardless. 

Research shows that mental health conditions are at least twice as prevalent than they were in non-pandemic circumstances. With another 700,0002 Australians said to live with a brain injury and approximately 3.95 million experiencing hearing loss, invisible disabilities are affecting more people each day. 

“Invisible disabilities, or hidden disabilities, are those that are not immediately obvious including mental and/or neurological conditions, impairments to the senses, chronic pain and issues that restrict movement,” says Shaun Pianta, atWork Australia DES Ambassador & Disability Awareness Trainer. “For example, people who live with a mental health condition may not ‘appear’ to have a disability but much of their daily life is affected by their condition. It’s the same with chronic pain, or diabetes. As a result of these conditions not being instantly apparent, this can lead to a multitude of misconceptions, judgements and sadly, discrimination,” he adds.

In a recent study on the people who experience the highest rate of employment restrictions, those living with ‘invisible’ disabilities reported highest, with 91% experiencing mental ill health, 88% for emotional and nervous conditions and 78%  experiencing chronic pain.

Sharah Smith, a client of atWork Australia lives with depression and anxiety which at one point led to a severe social phobia and agoraphobia. “I was unable to leave my house alone, and even if I had company to help me, the anxiety would be unbearable. I was beginning to be unable to go grocery shopping. I lost contact with friends which led to loneliness and increased depression,” says Sharah. 

“The fact that I couldn’t leave my home made it incredibly hard to even consider employment, and I worried that while people are usually understanding, some may still judge and think that I was ‘lazy’ or needed to ‘get over it’. When I began speaking with atWork Australia however, I began to trust them and the process due to their understanding of my illness.

“I eventually became comfortable around my Job Coaches who encouraged me to try new things, like going to appointments and catching public transport alone. I attended a resilience group atWork Australia hosted and regained some of my social skills. They also referred me to counselling and coached me before interviews, even driving me to meetings and my first day of work. They also helped me gain my licence, which was a requisite for my current job,” Sharah adds. 

Business leaders have a pivotal role in educating themselves and their employees on the benefits of employing someone living with disability and changing the focus to seeing the abilities that these workers bring to their roles. In celebration of the International Day of People with Disability, the Department of Social Services has produced a number of resources which can encourage workplaces to promote and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of people with disability. While many organisations will still be working remotely, businesses can get involved online, celebrating staff members who may be living with disability and inspiring other staff members to join in the conversation. 

Beyond supporting those living with disability, businesses also gain a lot of benefit from creating inclusive workplaces, as research shows that in 9 out of 10 cases (90%), employees with disability, injury or health condition are as, or more, productive than their peers and almost the same number (86%)  show superior attendance. 

Disability Employment Services, an Australian Government initiative delivered by atWork Australia, aims to support businesses by offering bespoke inclusive recruitment advice (from development of position description through to retention of staff) based on their needs, and to connect them with job-ready candidates. atWork Australia works with prospective employees to prepare them for interviews, while assisting employers with the hiring and onboarding process through screening candidates based on skills, abilities and organisational fit. Once in place, the provider continues to monitor the placement and offers assistance to both employer and employee over the first year, and beyond if required.

“I now actually work for atWork Australia and love my job,” says Sharah. “While I still struggle with tasks such as making phone contact with clients when there are other people in the room, my experience as a client and living with an invisible disability has benefited both myself and my clients, as I am able to empathise with their situations and service them in a way that helps their progress.”

“Our aim is to shape a society and the future of work, that is inclusive for all people living with disability, injury or a health condition,” says Shaun. “That starts by recognising that not all disabilities are visible and that no matter the condition, we need to remove stigma to create better relationships for all,” Shaun concludes.

For more information, please visit https://www.atworkaustralia.com.au/des

 

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