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My experience as the middle child in my family has taught me to accept all of my quirks that set me apart from my brothers, to embrace my individuality and to stand on my own two feet.

Ever since I was little, as the middle child in my family, I have always felt like somewhat of an alien in my house – the oddball misfit. From the outset, the stark differences between my brothers and I were painfully obvious – where they were sporty and steered by scientific fact, I was geared towards using my imagination and natural creativity. As a child, I never felt as though I belonged to the family. I would joke I must’ve been swapped at birth.

Both of my brothers favour maths and science over humanities and played soccer like it was their divine birthright from an early age. Me? I saw a maths equation in prep and thought, “Nah this is some bullshit,” and never looked back. Soccer on the other hand, is unfortunately not the meaning of my life. I wanted to read and write during school hours, then dance and act after classes.

Being the eldest, middle or youngest child in a family is said to affect personality or tends to box siblings into certain perceived identities. The eldest tends to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, the youngest notoriously gets the most attention and the middle child is just sort of “the other one”.

Somehow my parents got landed with me – a hyperactive, loud and outgoing daughter, with an overactive imagination, more interested in memorising the lyrics to every Taylor Swift song or reading Harry Potter for the ninety-seventh time than sport or maths. I wanted to spend my time on arts and crafts, writing stories on scrap pieces of paper and reading with my torch under the covers after lights out. Yes, I know I was such a rebel.

I was the strange middle child who thought soccer was the most overdramatic and ridiculous sport on the planet and questioned why maths was even taught in the first place.

Clearly, there was always something fundamentally different about what I enjoyed and valued compared with my brothers.

Teachers at my high school always acted as though my older brother was God’s gift to the planet, a maths-science gun ready to save the world with his genius. I’d arrive to maths class every year with teaching staff who’d hear my surname, and their eyes would light up with joy, expecting another prodigy. Instead, ten minutes later, they’d realise I was not a Ferrari of a student, I was a rickety old tow truck whose eyes would glaze over at the sight of maths equations.

I was more interested in drawing hearts in the margins or egging on the teaching staff with philosophical questions like, “but why?” or, “how do we know that maths is even real?”

I would ask myself why are there letters with numbers, how does this apply to the world and most importantly, why should I care? It sounded like a load of waffle to my high school self. Maths wasn’t something at which I excelled, unlike both of my brothers.

And I also couldn’t comprehend the fuss about soccer. Players run around a pitch for ninety horrifyingly dull minutes, nobody scores whatsoever, and the team acts as if every game is a matter of life or death. I wish I was kidding.

I also somehow lacked the sense of direction that both of my brothers magically possessed. They knew what they wanted to do and who they wanted to be. I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do with my interests and odd skill set.

I liked to read stories, shout lyrics and act in school plays. I didn’t know where my life was going to take me. I was the odd one out.

Outsiders to the family noticed it too. Family friends would ask why I wasn’t “like” my brothers, or they’d address me as the “little sister”. They saw me as adjacent to my brothers, rather than a person on my own. They wouldn’t ask how I was doing; they’d ask how my brothers were doing.

Some would simply forget I existed in the first place. I’d hear “oh wait there’s a third sibling?” all the time. I would think to myself, yes, Jennifer you and I have met on several occasions, you just didn’t happen to notice that I too am a fully-fledged and functioning member of society. Also, eat my shorts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite close with both of my brothers, they aren’t monsters or anything. They’re the best! It’s just that sometimes I’d feel as though I was chocolate, and they were both pasta. Both foods are great in their own right, they’re just quite different and you wouldn’t exactly put them together. 

Sometimes, I would let it get to me. I would get so worked up at everyone. How could they not see that I was there too? I mean sure I wasn’t like my brothers in some respects, but I knew I was just as valid and valuable. I just wanted other people to recognise it!

When I was in Year 11, one of my teachers who was in the crowd with me while my older brother was receiving yet another award turned to me and said, “Don’t worry, your time will come!”

Such a small phrase was a massive turning point for me. In true middle child fashion, I was unsurprisingly morbidly offended and went home to cry in my bedroom. I was 16 years old and coming of age myself. I was excelling in other areas like English and theatre, but somehow still being brought to a lower level than my brother. I was still being cornered into the mould of the somehow lesser middle child.

I didn’t want to wait around until my brother stopped being fabulous. I believed that my time was now.

I had spent years thinking others would only ever see me as a sister rather than a person myself and I was struggling with the fact that I didn’t know how to break away from my brothers and stand on my own. It was at this point that all the stars and planets aligned, the universe opened, and I realised that all it took was a change in my mentality.

I had to ignore outsider opinion or comments and I had to accept that I was not the same as my brothers and use those differences to my advantage.

I focused my studies on English. The best part of my week was when I would get to write my essays. I loved it! Now, it was my brothers turn not to understand me. I could do it all day. It wasn’t anything like the rigidity and one right answer structure of maths. It was creative, opinionative and fun. All of those years of reading, music listening, lyric bellowing and drama pieces pointed to a love for both words and the stories they tell.

I had finally realised that this was my passion. As the different middle child. I was the odd one out, and that was okay!

I am now almost 21 and have turned my love for humanities into an arts and law degree, majoring in literary studies. My family still watches soccer every Saturday and I do begrudgingly join them now. If you can’t beat them, join them. My brothers still harp on about maths and science and I still think it’s the strangest thing in the world and that’s also okay! They don’t understand some of my passions and I certainly don’t understand some of theirs.

I myself still don’t always know what I am doing with my life. I still have moments where I feel like a coco pop in a family of rice bubbles. I still don’t always have the answer.

Maybe I’ll become a lawyer or a publisher or a writer or choose from the endless options humanities has to offer. Or maybe I’ll move to Hogwarts to become a witch. Or maybe I’ll be a unicorn when I grow up.

I mean, who knows what I’ll do. I am the middle child after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas can be an amazing time shared with family and friends, and yet many of us enter the New Year feeling drained from the holiday period.

Often when a co-worker, friend or family member returns from a vacation or travel, we hear the joke ‘I need a holiday after my holiday’ thrown around. When we are on holiday, the temptation to make the most of every day and minute can be so prevalent that we forget to simply stop and breathe.

The Christmas holidays look different for everyone. Perhaps it involves interstate travel, overdue catchups with extended family, work Christmas parties, friend parties and Christmas shopping and cooking.

And while all or at least some of this is fun, it is also not our usual routine. Several days or weeks like this in a row can overextend our social battery and sometimes it is too late before we realise, we are not just emotionally drained – but physically as well.

Learning to practice self-care and establish a sense of boundaries with yourself and others during this time can save you from post-Christmas burnout and make the holidays an even better time.

Here are some tips for keeping yourself sane, healthy and happy during the holidays.

  1. Establish boundaries with friends and family about money

Giving gifts should be something joyful and leave you with a good feeling. The ritual of picking or making gifts and wrapping up each one with a glass of Prosecco is half the fun. However, financial stress can suck the joy out of this if you feel like you are spending money you don’t have to not disappoint others.

Consider your finances and what you are capable of spending and what you are comfortable with. Then, try expressing this to your friends or family. It can be as simple as saying that you are a bit tight this year so you will just be doing small gifts. Or if you really want to, you can set a specific price to cap gifts at for everyone.

2) Don’t commit to things you don’t want to do

Over-commitment is another huge issue that will drain the joy out of the holiday period for some. As much as the parties, shopping and events can be fun, don’t lose sight of the small moments. Remember to make time for yourself curled up watching Christmas movies at home, cooking, or simply sticking to your regular routine.

It is perfectly ok to say no to things and still make time for yourself. The fear of missing out can be huge and the pressure to show up at events we don’t care for. Either way, remind yourself that saying no is ok.

3) Delegate Tasks Evenly 

For some of us, the desire to create an unforgettable Christmas experience for the people we love, and particularly our children, can cause us to bite off more than we can chew. Before you know it, suddenly you are the shopper, the chef, the party planner, the event organiser, and the cleaner.

This can make Christmas feel less like a party and more like hard work.

4) Simplify the Lunch Menu

The same philosophy goes to the Christmas menu – don’t bite off more than you can chew and don’t be afraid to delegate. It should never be one person’s job to spend hours toiling in the kitchen for everyone.

Eating, drinking and cooking with the people we care about should be a wonderful experience. However, feeling stressed and overworked can drain the enjoyment out of this tradition.

It is also important to know that sometimes less is more. Don’t get caught up in the notion that a good Christmas meal has to be a complex or ornate one. Instead, pick a few of your favourite simple dishes that everyone will enjoy and you can be sure it will not diminish the experience.

Christmas is a time to enjoy and celebrate and the end of the season should leave you feeling content – not exhausted. Make small changes during your Christmas routine this year and in years to come to make sure you are truly enjoying – rather than simply making sure everyone around you is enjoying it.

Whist Christmas is a time of joy it is also a time of excess. Wasteful habits can be minimised by being mindful of more sustainable practices to follow in this season.

Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year, but unfortunately significantly contributes to overproduction and unnecessary waste. Australians receive over 20 million unwanted gifts at Christmas and more than 250,000 tonnes of food is wasted each year. Here are some ways to practice sustainability and be more environmentally conscious over this festive season.

Source sustainable wrapping paper and use e-cards

Australians use more than 150,000km of wrapping paper over Christmas. This is the equivalent of about 50,000 trees and enough to wrap around the equator four times. Most wrapping paper is recyclable but sticky tape, ribbons, bows and most glitters are not. To determine if your wrapping paper is recyclable, scrunch it. If it un-scrunches easily, it likely has elements in it that are not recyclable.

There are many alternatives that could be used, such as brown, eco-friendly recyclable paper and twine, newspaper or fabric wrapping paper. Cloths, sheets, scarfs and bandanas are all reusable and sustainable options to wrapping paper. Furoshiki is a Japanese method of using cloth to transport gifts, a great zero waste option that adds a unique twist to your gift.

gifts wrapped with twine

Around one billion Christmas cards end up in the bin each year. Consider giving your loved ones a call or emailing them an online card you’ve created. Reuse old cards or cut out tags with brown paper and twine as a better alternative to a card that will only be read once!

Go meat free or choose local products

The holidays are a time of sharing gifts and food with your loved ones but are also a season of waste. Around 9 out of 10 Australians discard over 25% of their food during this period. To reduce your waste, only buy what you need, use the food you have and be organised to plan out your meals. Approximately five million Christmas puddings are thrown away each year. Think about what food guests will actually enjoy rather than the traditional options that don’t get touched. Use reusable cutlery and napkins at events for nice decorations and better options for landfill.

Consider going meat free just for the holidays! However, if you like this season for this reason investigate where your produce is coming from. Buying seasonal produce and Australian farmed and sourced protein such as muscles and prawns are a more sustainable choice. Doing so reduces your food miles, the costs associated with transportation and refrigeration of goods.

siblings decorating christmas tree

Choose quality gifts over quantity

The average Australian spends $475 on gifts with less than half being appreciated. To ensure your gifts will be kept, look for unique presents and choose one or two quality gifts over four or five that may not be loved. By choosing something from a local market or a smaller retailer rather than sites like Amazon, you are more likely to find something one of a kind, of better quality and have the chance to boost a sustainable local economy. Alternatively, you could gift an experience rather than material things, or presents that aren’t easily disposable and care for the earth – like a Poinsettia, a Christmas plant!

woman sipping drink at christmas market

Source real trees and LED Christmas lights

If you are buying an artificial tree, ensure it is one that lasts. The environmental impact of these trees is 10 times greater than real trees as they are often not recyclable, ending up in landfill. Real trees are biodegradable or able to be replanted and are a great alternative if you will not keep your artificial tree for more than 10 years. If you are not a fan of bugs and twigs that come with real trees, consider putting some lights and baubles onto a plant, and repurposing your Devil’s Ivy or Fiddle Leaf Figs!

LED lights use about 80-90% less energy than incandescent lights you might usually find in your home. They are a safer, durable and longer-lasting option that don’t get hot to touch and will still give your tree and house the Christmas sparkle it needs. Set a timer to turn the LED lights off when they aren’t needed.

christmas tree flowchart
Source: House Beautiful

Along with being more sustainable this Christmas, consider the true meaning of the holiday season and ensure you spend time with your loved ones to be grateful for what you have.

family putting up christmas tree

Anxious Mums author, Dr Jodi Richardson, offers advice for mothers and children experiencing anxiety.

One in four people will experience anxiety within their lifetime, making it the most prevalent mental health condition in Australia. Statistics determine it is twice as common in women, with one in three, compared with one in five men, diagnosed on average.

Having lived and studied anxiety, Dr Jodi Richardson  is an expert in her field, with more than 25 years of practice. In addition to her professional background, it was ultimately her personal experiences and journey in becoming a mother that shaped the work she is passionate about. 

Jodi’s books, Anxious Kids; How Children Can Turn Their Anxiety Into Resilience,  co-written with Michael Grose (2019), and her latest release, Anxious Mums; How Mums Can Turn Their Anxiety Into Strength (2020), offer parents, in particular mothers, advice on how to manage and minimalise anxiety, so they can maximise their potential, elevate their health and maintain their wellbeing.

The more I learned about anxiety, the more important it was to share what I was learning.”

Jodi’s first-hand experiences have inspired her work today, stating, “The more I learned about anxiety, the more important it was to share what I was learning.”

Jodi’s first signs of experiencing anxiety appeared at the early age of four. Her first symptoms began in prep, experiencing an upset stomach each day. Her class of 52 students, managed by two teachers, was stressful enough, on top of her everyday battles. Jodi recalls, “There was a lot of yelling and it wasn’t a very relaxing or peaceful environment, it obviously triggered anxiety in me, I have a genetic predisposition towards it, as it runs in my family.”

Twenty years later, the death of a family member triggered a major clinical depression for Jodi. She began seeking treatment however, it was in finding an amazing psychologist, that helped her to identify she was battling an underlying anxiety disorder. Jodi discloses, “It was recognised that I had undiagnosed anxiety. I didn’t really know that what I had experienced all my life up until that point had been any sort of disorder, that was just my temperament and personality.” 

After many years of seeing her psychologist, Jodi eventually weaned off her medication and managed her anxiety with exercise and meditation. Offering advice on finding the right psychologist Jodi states, “For me it was my third that was the right fit. I really encourage anyone if the psychologist you were referred to doesn’t feel like the right fit, then they’re not and it’s time to go back to your GP. Having the right professional that you’re talking to and having a good relationship with is really important for the therapeutic relationship.”

Jodi highlights the importance of prioritising mental wellbeing, affirming, “The more we can open up and talk about our journeys, the more we encourage other people to do the same and normalise the experience.”

Anxious Mums came into fruition after a mum in the audience of one of Jodi’s speaking engagements emailed Jodi’s publisher stating, “Jodi has to write a book, all mums have to hear what she has to say.”

Everyday efforts new mothers face, consign extra pressure on wellbeing and showcase the need to counteract anxiety before it subordinates everyday lifestyles. While Jodi’s children are now early adolescents, she reflects upon the early stages of new motherhood, “Ultimately when I became a mum with all the extra uncertainty and responsibility, as well as lack of sleep, my mental health really declined to a point where I ended up deciding to take medication, which was ultimately life changing.”

When I became a mum with all the extra uncertainty and responsibility, as well as lack of sleep, my mental health really declined to a point where I ended up deciding to take medication, which was ultimately life changing.”

New mothers experience heightened anxiety as they approach multiple challenges of parenthood; from conceiving, through the journey of pregnancy, birth and perpetually, thereafter. Becoming a mother provided Jodi with insight into new challenges, in particular struggles with breastfeeding and lack of sleep. She shares, “It’s something that we don’t have much control over, particularly as new parents. We just kind of get used to operating on a lot less sleep and it doesn’t serve us well in terms of our mental health, particularly if there have been challenges in the past or a pre-existing disorder.

Research suggests women’s brains process stress differently to men, with testosterone also said to be somewhat protective against anxiety. This, along with different coping mechanisms of women, highlight statistic disparity between gender. For early mothers in particular, it is a time of immense change, as their everyday lives are turned upside down. New schedules, accountability and hormonal changes increase the likelihood of anxiety and depression, which are also commonly triggered in the postpartum period.

Jodi elaborates on important hormonal timeframes that shift women’s mental wellbeing stating, “Anxiety is heightened during times of hormonal changes as well as in the key points in our reproductive lives. Through having children and menopause and alike. It’s more disabling in that it impacts our lives in different ways to men, particularly I think, because we’re usually the main carers. There are stay at home dads, but predominantly that’s what women tend to do.”

Normal anxiety is infrequent and settles down, but when someone suffers a disorder, they can have incessant worry and avoidance. This can include anxiety around not wanting to participate, attend a function, for example, try something new or step up in a work role. Anxiety disorders can be crippling, leaving sufferers feeling as though they are unable to live their best life.

There’s no harm in going and asking the question because the gap between the first symptoms of anxiety and seeking help is still eight years in Australia.”

There are many telling physical signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Some indicative signs to look out for include a racing heart, trembling, sick stomach, frequent perspiration and dizziness that accompanies shortness of breath. Jodi says, “If you think that your anxiety might be a problem, that’s absolutely the time to go and make an appointment to see your GP. There’s no harm in going and asking the question because the gap between the first symptoms of anxiety and seeking help is still eight years in Australia.”

“Half of all mental illness comes on by around the ages of fourteen. Most adults who have anxiety can track it back to when they were teenagers or children.”

Just as anxiety is common for mothers, it’s also important to observe and be aware of in children. Jodi reveals, “For parents it’s important to know that half of all mental illness comes on by around the age of fourteen. Most adults who have anxiety can track it back to when they were teenagers or children. 75 percent of all mental illness comes on by about the age of 25, with one in seven children [4-17 years old] being diagnosed with a mental illness, and half of those have anxiety.”

“75 percent of all mental illness comes on by about the age of 25, with one in seven children [4-17 years old] being diagnosed with a mental illness, and half of those have anxiety

These pre-covid statistics highlight significant numbers of anxiety in adolescents. However, with the current climate prevalent of immense loss of control, many are facing new heightened emotions and increased numbers of anxiety. Early research coming out of Monash University is showcasing significant growth of adults with depression and anxiety, including statistics of children in the early ages of one to five experiencing symptoms.

Similar research has given light to evidence portraying children mirroring stress responses of their parents. Jodi further explains, “They can pick up the changes in our own heart rate, in our stress response — we are told that as new mums aren’t we, that our babies can pick up on how we are feeling but the science proves that to be true as well.” Parenting is a consequential way in which children receive cognitive biases and behaviours, “Just the tone of our voice, the expressions on our face, the way that we speak, what we say, certainly can be picked up on by kids and mirrored back.”

Noticing these early signs in your children is essential to alleviating anxiety before it progresses, Jodi lists some signs to be aware of, “Avoidance is a hallmark sign of anxiety — I don’t want to go, I don’t want to participate, I don’t want to deliver that oral presentation in class, I don’t want to go to camp and so watching out for that sort of thing. Other signs and symptoms to look out for include big emotions. If your children seem more teary or angry than usual, are feeling worried or avoidant, can’t concentrate, having trouble remembering or difficulty sleeping.” It’s important to be aware and help counteract anxiety when you see it. 

Jodi offers parents, who are struggling coping with their children’s anxiety some advice stating, “It’s an age old question, how much do we push and when do we hold back; I think as parents we are constantly answering that question. We don’t always get it right, but the thing about avoidance is it only makes anxiety worse. So for the child who is anxious about going to school, the more they stay home, the harder it will be to front up on another day. Sometimes, we need to nudge them forward in small steps and that’s a technique called step-laddering. It’s about making a step in that direction.”

Jodi encourages parents to observe their children’s symptoms and to never feel ashamed to go see a GP.  She urges, “Sometimes we get that reassurance from a GP, it might just be developmental, but the sooner kids are getting the help they need, the better, and it’s the same for us as mums.”

There are simple everyday steps we can take to combat anxiety. When someone is anxious a threat has been detected within the brain, this part of the brain is called the amygdala, one of the most powerful strategies for managing this stress detection is regulant meditation. 

Jodi explains, “What meditation does is it brings our attention to the present, so we are paying attention to what’s happening in the moment.” Meditation recognises deliberate breathing with a focus equally on exhalation as inhalation, proven to be calming to the anxious brain, using the relaxation response. 

Commending the importance of the practice and its effect on functioning, Jodi describes, “Meditation is more that sort of seated and formal practice of focusing the breath. What we know this will do over time, is it reduces the size and sensitivity of the amygdala, so it’s less sensitive to threat which reduces long-term anxiety. For the average person, our minds wander around 50 percent of the time, when we can bring our attention back to the present we are much more likely to be able to settle our anxiety, and feel happier as well.”

Another everyday strategy for combatting anxiety is exercise. Jodi shares her experience and routine stating, “Exercise is something I’ve used my whole life to calm my anxiety. Even now, I do cross-fit, karate and walks every week. I think naturally I was managing my health and wellbeing without really understanding why, I just knew that it made me feel good.”

The fight or flight response tied to anxiety powers us up to fight physically to save our lives or to flee. So often, when someone is anxious, they are powered up in this way, but not doing anything about it. Jodi shares, “When we move, it’s the natural end to the fight or flight response. Not only that, when we exercise we release serotonin, which is a feel good neural transmitter, among with gamma aminobutyric acid, a neural transmitter that puts the breaks on our anxiety response helping to calm us down.” 

Jodi’s practice in physiology, working with clients using exercise to help them with their mental and physical health has led her to her understandings, “One of the things I can 100 percent tell you is that it’s best not to wait until you feel motivated — the motivation will come once you get into the routine of it.

Dr Jodi Richardson, anxiety & wellbeing speaker, bestselling author & consultant

I’d just like to say, anxiety isn’t something we need to get rid of to really be able to thrive, to do what we need to do and accomplish what’s important to us. But I really encourage to anyone, that there are lots of ways to dial it back. I think it’s very easy for us to wait until we feel 100 percent to do something, but doing anything meaningful is hard.

So don’t wait until your anxiety is gone because you might be waiting a long time.”

 

 

 

 

Anxious Kids Penguin Books Australia, Author: Michael Grose, Dr Jodi Richardson RRP: $34.99 Anxious Mums Penguin Books Australia , Author: Dr Jodi Richardson  RRP: $34.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help now, call triple zero (000)

Lifeline:  Provides 24-hour crisis counselling, support groups and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14, text on 0477 13 11 14 (12pm to midnight AEST) or chat online.

Beyond Blue: Aims to increase awareness of depression and anxiety and reduce stigma. Call 1300 22 4636, 24 hours/7 days a week, chat online or email.

Kids Helpline: : Is Australia’s only free 24/7 confidential and private counselling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 – 25. Call 1800 55 1800

To learn more about Dr Jodi Richardson’s work, watch the full interview below or on our YouTube channel.

 

 

We’re all familiar with PMS.

80% of women experience some form of physical or emotional symptoms just before their period starts. However, around 5-10% of women, experience what is known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD – a mood disorder that requires treatment to alleviate symptoms.

For these women, the week before their period marks the onset of symptoms so severe that getting on with daily life is impossible. These tangibly different yet similarly presenting conditions cause PMDD to be often confused for ‘severe PMS’. But, where PMS is uncomfortable or annoying, PMDD is debilitating.

PMDD was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mood Disorders as a depressive disorder’ just six years ago. Since then, the existence of the condition has been gaining awareness amongst women and the medical community. However, that PMDD is not widely spoken about or recognised means that more conversations and research into the condition are needed.  

PMDD often being described as ‘PMS on steroids‘ or ‘severe PMS’ signifies the possibility for accidental ignorance toward the condition.  When women are led to think of their incapacitating symptoms as ‘just PMS’ they may feel that their experience is ‘normal’.  The result of conflating symptoms causes many women wait to seek help until they reach their ‘breaking point’. By this time, women suffering from PMDD describe that their relationships, work and daily life have been significantly impacted.

How it impacts an individual’s life:

Gogglebox Australia’s, Isabelle Silbery, recently penned a deeply personal article recounting her feelings of desperation and frustration prior to being diagnosed with PMDD.

via Instagram: @IsabelleSilberry

Detailing an upsurge in arguments with her family accompanied by bouts of worthlessness, doubt, and despondence toward exciting things in her life – Isabelle called out for greater awareness and education for women regarding their cycles and the boundaries of what should be considered ‘normal.’

It was relentless. I hated myself, I hated my partner, I hated everything.

Isabelle says that her revelatory diagnosis stemmed from her mum, fortunately, catching a radio segment on triple R discussing a newly recognised disorder that bore markedly similar symptoms to her own.

Finding a printout on her pillow, she read about PMDD and was shocked and relieved to find she ‘ticked every box.’  Paranoia, fatigue, sensitivity – experienced only between ovulation and getting her period. Suddenly, Isabelle felt empowered – she wasn’t ‘going mad’ – there were answers.

Upon seeing a new specialist (who told her undoubtedly, she was experiencing PMDD) – Isabelle recalled asking:

Here I [am], 36 years old, having [had] my period for years now and birthed one child. How the hell did it take this long to figure it out?

Her doctor, Dr Lee Mey Wong from the Jean Hailes Clinic for Women’s Health, explained that ‘women who suffer from PMDD have what’s called a vulnerable brain’, meaning they may have suffered some trauma in their formative years. This vulnerability can lead the brain to be acutely sensitive to the by-product of progesterone – a hormone the body makes every cycle. This sensitivity contributes to the onset of symptoms that characterise PMDD.

In the process of learning about herself and her body, Isabelle found there was a lot more about periods, cycle phases and women’s health, in general, that she wasn’t across – prompting her to question: 

Why aren’t we educated around our cycles more as young girls? Being told you get your period and to use a pad or tampon is not enough.  

Isabelle’s message was simple: women are often made to feel crazy when they feel something is wrong. Yet we know ourselves better than anyone, and we’re usually right.  Information is power, and we need to empower ourselves and each other to assert control over our bodies. It is time we all prioritise our health and stop our silent suffering. To do this we have to stop demonising our hormones and periods.

A UK-based journalist, Jenny Haward, also shared her story of figuring out she suffered from PMDD. For her, the early years of getting a period were characterised by some ‘mild bloating’ and an ‘off chance that [she] might shed a few tears over a not-particularly-sad film’ with 48-hours of light bleeding to follow.

But, by her 30s, this had changed. Haward describes that being someone who had never tracked their period, it took her a while to make the connection that what she had begun to termthe dark week’ was linked to her cycle.

‘The dark week’ would bring tingling in her extremities, bloating of her stomach and hands and what she terms the PMDD hangover’ – Non-alcohol related but reminiscent of the hazy, sick feeling you get after a few too many, tinged with The Fear.

Haward describes the week before her period as charged with anxiety that pulsated through her, hyper-fixation on worries and exacerbated by insomnia – leading to fights with friends and terror toward work projects. But, as soon as her period arrived – she’d snap out of it.

Significantly, for Haward and many other women coming forward sharing their story – it took until the day she had to leave work, so ‘overwhelmed with misery and inability to function’ to call a doctor for an emergency appointment.

Haward wanted her story to reach women like herself and tell them: ‘there is help – you’re not making a fuss, or crazy or an awful person, and most importantly, you are not alone.’

PMS or PMDD?:

from Share the Dignity

Lynda Pickett, the Australian Project Coordinator for ‘Vicious Cycle: Making PMDD Visible‘, explains that PMS is an average onset of physical and sometimes mild emotional symptoms and typically doesn’t cause any life disruption.  On the other hand, PMDD is characterised by severe, life-impairing emotional symptoms that last 1-2 weeks before menses onset.

Recognising this difference between PMS and PMDD is crucial to understanding the significance of the disorder. While 1-2 weeks may sound manageable, when you factor in these symptoms occurring every month, every year – you can begin to get a clearer picture of the rollercoaster of emotion and life instability that sufferers face.

Symptoms:

Kin Fertility list the 11 symptoms of PMDD as the following:

  • Mood changes
  • Irritability or anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of interest in things you usually enjoy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Bloating and breast soreness

Experiencing five or more of these symptoms in a life-impacting way mean that you may meet the diagnostic criteria for PMDD.

What is it? Why do we need to talk about it?

PMDD Cycle – Buoy

PMDD is a disorder that sits between psychiatry, gynaecology and other mimicking conditions—making getting a diagnosis a lengthy process due to the necessity to rule other possibilities out.

In Australia, the average ‘lag to diagnosiscan take eight years.

This lag is in part due to the experience of having symptoms downplayed by doctors as ‘just PMS’. This dismissal often requires a necessary determination on the part of the individual to challenge what they are being told.  Due to many doctors being unfamiliar with the condition, a referral is often necessary, or the individual has to search for answers themselves.

Lynda Pickett shared significant statistics relating to the number of people affected by PMDD:

Treatment:

Although there is no ‘cure’ for PMDD, there is a range of treatments available to help manage the symptoms.

Several medical therapies are effective, including antidepressants (SSRIs) which surveys show have provided relief to 75% of sufferers.

Oral contraceptives are also routinely prescribed to treat PMDD. Due to the pill’s interference on ovulation and the production of ovarian hormones, the pill can give greater control over the menstrual cycle and therefore reduce the severity of symptoms.

Further, many women report that additional things like reducing caffeine and alcohol intake and taking supplements such as magnesium, calcium and B6 can help. As well as making lifestyle changes in the lead up to their period in particular, such as more exercise, sleep and generally taking it easy, can make a significant difference.

Support:

Joining PMDD support groups can also give sufferers a much-needed sense of community and connection when coming to terms with their diagnosis and managing their symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

Lynda Pickett says she ‘doesn’t know where she’d be without her PMDD Peeps‘, the group name shared by her fellow PMDD community.  The hashtag ‘#PMDDPeeps’ is widely used across Instagram and Twitter to connect sufferers with PMDD.

Facebook groups for individuals with PMDD, partners, post-op groups or child-free women are also widely available. These groups exist to give and receive support from people who are in the same boat.

Other great resources and groups who are bringing people with PMDD together include:

www.viciouscyclepmdd.com = a patient-led project that is focused on raising awareness and raising the standard of care for those living with PMDD.

www.iapmd.org = A global charity that offers peer support, education, research and advocacy.

www.mevpmdd.com = a PMDD symptom app.

Walking 10,000 steps a day has been linked to various health benefits and reducing the risk of disease, and a healthy focus for weight loss. However, the basis for this target being introduced was not scientific or medical.

10,000 steps is a well-known target, however this amount did not originate in medical or scientific studies as you might have thought. The Manpo-kei step meter was created by the Yamasa Clock and Instrument Company.  Its marketing campaign was created by a Japanese health science professor who believed that walking 10,000 steps a day would help Japanese people avoid obesity.

The advertisements for the pedometer said “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”, with the number 10,000 being chosen for the fact that it looks like a person walking in Japanese characters.

Celebrities such as Will Smith and Simon Cowell have taken to the 10,000 step challenge, likely due to advice from celebrity trainers. Harley Pasternack gives this advice to his clients including Adam Levine and Amy Schumer as a daily goal to challenge and motivate them to stay active.

The more steps the better!

Whilst the campaign for 10,000 steps may not have originated from a medical background, the sentiment remains a recognised goal. Most experts agree with the approximation of 10,000, slating this as a target as well as 30 minutes of activity a day. This is in line with the Australian guidelines which recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Whilst there is no real rule, 5,000 steps a day is recognised as a minimum target, with anything less being considered sedentary.

Research has found that those who track their steps take an average of 2,500 more steps per day. Pedometers are mostly a thing of the past, with fitness watches such as the Apple Watch or Fitbit motivating walkers to reach step goals and activity rings. This can be a good way to stay motivated as you can compare counts and challenge friends and family.

legs walking up stairs with bright coloured shoes

Benefits of walking more

Walking is a low-impact workout available to almost everyone with good walking shoes, and a 2015 report found that Australians walked the most, with an average of 9,695 steps a day.

An Australian study found that the risk of prematurely dying was reduced by 6% with every 1,000 steps increase per day. This same study found that those who took 10,000 steps or more had a 46% lower chance of having an early death than those who didn’t.

There are several health benefits associated with walking more, including the following:

There are several social and emotional benefits to walking more each day, including:

  • Opportunities to engage with new people and friends, reducing anti-social behaviour
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
  • A higher level of concentration
  • Better management of anxiety and stress

10,000 steps is often recommended as a target for weight loss. An average person will burn around 3,500 calories per week from walking this amount, roughly translating to half a kilo of fat. This should only be an indication however, as your speed and body weight will affect the amount of calories that you burn.

Recommended steps per age range

10,000 steps is regarded as a reasonable target for most healthy adults, who on average take 4,000 to 18,000 steps per day. Children however, already take around 10,000-16,000 steps per day.

The Australian guidelines to physical activity do not denote a specific number of recommended daily steps based on age, but instead base their recommendations around minutes of physical and vigorous activity. Young children aged 1-5 should be physically active every day for at least three hours in total. For children aged 5-12, this recommendation includes vigorous physical activity for at least one hour per day.

Adolescents aged 13-17 should also engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day, focusing on activities that can help strengthen muscle and bone.

For adults aged 18-64, a minimum target of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity is recommended per week, with a combination of at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity. This amounts to a rough estimation of 10,000 steps per day.

Older Australians aged 65 years and older should aim to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, and continue at a level they did throughout their earlier life. A Harvard Health study found that for older women, 10,000 steps is a large goal, and instead taking a modest 4,400 steps per day at minimum was associated with a 41% lower risk of dying compared to other women taking 2,500 or less.

table of step counts by age
Source: First Quote Health

Ways to increase your step count

If you are finding it difficult to spend time walking to increase your step count and don’t have access to a treadmill whilst watching TV, there are other simple ways to increase your step count. This may include:

  • Getting a dog. If you’re a regular walker, training and being kept accountable by pets is a great way to stay motivated to walk.
  • Using a standing desk and standing up during commercial breaks.
  • Breaking walks into multiple little ones per day.
  • Walking with friends to socialise.
  • Cleaning your house.
  • Taking the stairs wherever possible.
  • Walking in shopping centres when the weather is poor.
  • Parking your car further than usual from your destination.

The industry you work in will also impact the amount of steps you do per day. For example, hospitality workers do roughly 23,000 per day, retail workers 15,000 but clerical and office workers less than 7,000.

woman walking shoes

If you’re someone who walks an average of 7-8,000 steps a day, considering challenging yourself to 10,000 steps to see the well-documented benefits. Remember the more steps the better, so don’t try to take more than 20,000 steps a day if you are just beginning to increase your walking capabilities, as you may burn out. Too much walking can take a toll physically and mentally, so remember to only do what challenges you, not society’s expectations.

Trackpants or jeans may be your go-to, but Sydney fashion stylist and founder of Style Sense, Kim Crowley, shares her secrets for developing your personal style without compromising on practicality or breaking the bank. She explains how to feel more like ‘you’ again, the four most flattering colours in the world, plus the one mum staple we should all avoid…

After studying at the London College of Fashion, Kim Crowley has worked in the fashion industry for over twenty-one years including as a designer for several international high street brands. Now, she says she was part of the fast-fashion problem and is dedicated to being part of the solution by helping mums find and develop their unique style and shop more consciously.

“I want to help take the stigma away from fashion and help breakdown the process of dressing well so that mums, in particular, can feel good in the clothes they choose to wear.

It’s about being a bit more mindful and having a strategy about it. We know how to consume, we are very good at that, but now we have a wardrobe of clothes that don’t get worn.

“We don’t actually know how to dress ourselves, and that fascinates me.”

 As a mum, Kim understands the metamorphosis we all undergo as we become a mother, “As soon as you have a child and you start pushing a pram around, you immediately feel mumsy. And before that, your body is changing, you’re wearing maternity clothes and it’s easy to feel frumpy. Also, our body shape changes when we have children. We all tend to become a bit more apple-shaped. We have to consider that because you can’t escape it, but it’s not an excuse.”

Whilst some may think that they don’t have the time money and energy to put into their appearance, Kim has this advice, “I don’t tell mums to dress up, I say, ‘dress better’. That doesn’t mean spend a fortune, it just means update a few key bits. I lived in my active wear for a long time and people would tell me to ‘dress up a bit’, but I felt like they were telling me to put something sparkly on or wear a full face of make-up—but that’s the other extreme, when in fact there’s a whole big area in the middle to play with depending on who we are, what we want to achieve and how we want to feel.”

 Know where to invest and what to avoid

As for practical advice, Kim’s top tip to update your style is to invest in a new style of jeans. “A new jean shape is key because it’s an item that gets worn on high rotation for parks, playdates and those endless doctor appointments. Rather than living in your skinnies, maybe try a mom jean or opt for a cinch waist, or perhaps a wedgie fit where it’s more fitted at the hip and then parallel through the leg.”

Furthermore, “the best way to compensate for feeling mumsy is to go to the other extreme and add something with a bit of attitude. Including a leopard print purse, even inside your nappy bag, or a pair of shoes with some studs on balances out the mum label and can help you to feel more like ‘you’ again. But one of the most unflattering things we can wear is actually the black round-toed ballet flat! They don’t do anyone any favours.”

Lots of mums hold off on investing in their wardrobe until they reach their ideal weight. Kim says one of the reasons she set up her business was in response to the debilitating self-talk that women engage in. We are so cruel to ourselves and Kim adds, “We literally cut ourselves into pieces saying, ‘I like this bit; I hate this bit’ (whilst pointing at forearms, then upper arms). My male clients will just look at themselves and go, ‘Yep. I’m good’. The difference is amazing. And this way of talking to ourselves gets passed down to our children. We need to start to understand that we all have good features, and you can dress to highlight them. In fact, one of my clients said, ‘I want to dress for my body, not find a new diet’.” Isn’t that just spot on?

“Mums are martyrs. We give excuses as to why we can’t spoil ourselves; we tell ourselves it’s too indulgent. Glennon Doyle, in her book, Untamed, explains that we should not be martyrs but instead remember that we are role models to our children. We need to stop the idea that, ‘Oh, no I can’t, I’m a mum’. Actually, it’s precisely because you are a mum that you should be nice to yourself! It’s like on an aeroplane when they tell you to attend you your own oxygen mask first.

You need to look after yourself before you can care for others.

Plus, your children see that you value your self-worth and that’s the most powerful lesson you can teach them”

Discover your personal style

So how do you begin to discover your personal style and figure out what looks good on you? “Have a think about the pieces that you wear a lot and why you wear them. Then, who do you look at for inspiration? Do they have a really clean style, do they wear soft fabrics or really structured pieces? Just try and diagnose why you like what you like,” Kim says.

But what if I like lots of different things? Kim shares this wisdom, “I find it really interesting that we try and sum up personal style with labels like ‘boho’ or ‘minimal’, but that’s such a dated way of doing it. It’s actually the way we wear our clothes that’s important. We end up with a blended style like, ‘I’m classic with an edge and a little bit of boho’. It’s the way you wear your looks—whether that’s oversized, tighter fitting, structured—that’s your personal style. Mums are multifaceted and we have to move from one thing to another seamlessly so it can be hard to nail down your personal style although every single person has one. Until you have time to actually focus on this you probably don’t think there’s much unique about you, but I promise you there is!” Kim suggests getting out your favourite pieces, the ones you love to wear and feel great in, and having a look to see what style, fit and colour these pieces tend to be. Give yourself permission and time to investigate.

Colour is everything

If you really want to make a big difference, Kim says, “Colour is everything. When I was upskilling from a designer to a stylist there was this whole thing about ‘having your colours done’ and I thought, ‘Ugh, this seems really dated. I’ll just skip over it. I really rejected the idea and I didn’t want it to work. But, it was absolutely amazing; I was blown away by how different I felt when I was wearing colours that flattered me versus colours that didn’t. Clients feedback weekly about how that knowledge has changed their life”.

“The right colour makes you look like you’re wearing a tinted moisturiser, the eyes sparkle and you look like you’ve had a good night’s sleep, which as mums can be pretty transformative. I create colour wallets for mums all the time and I have a great modern way of doing it that translates to clothes. Plus, I have found the four most flattering colours so if you don’t know what your colours are, start here: Teal, Salmon, Navy and your best version of White. These four colours sit right in the middle of the colour wheel so they will look pretty good on everybody. When you are wearing the right colours you will feel better and more confident.”

“Once you have the knowledge of what colours and shapes suit you, you are empowered. You won’t ever get sold to again. You can ignore the shop assistant that tells you’ll look great in lemon yellow because you know better.”

Most of us have several garments we don’t wear. Kim says playing around and creating different outfits from what you already have is one of her favourite parts of her job. But you can do it too, just spend the time to have a proper look at what you’ve got. Kim doesn’t spend a fortune on clothes, and nor do her clients. “People who come to me for a ‘mummy-makeover’ usually just need help with the ‘middle’ of their wardrobe and filling the gaps so that their entire collection is useable, practical and stylish.”

She advises taking photos of outfits to save time and energy every morning. “There’s no thinking required. Once you know your best colours, styles and shapes, shopping can become a treasure hunt instead of an overwhelming experience that forces you to just buy what you habitually buy. We can spend half your budget and get twice as many outfits, just by being strategic and having a creative outlook.”

Excuse me while I go and play dress up…

 

 

Spirits and signs, how do they shape your life? Psychic Helen Jacobs shares ways we can connect with our spirit guides, notice the signs and find our life’s purpose.

Helen Jacobs, psychic and author of You Already Know – a comprehensive guide to spiritualitychats with Wellspring editor, Kate Durack, discussing a framework for living more intuitively in order to see your path clearly.

Before she practised as a psychic medium, Helen was a successful PR executive. Upon the advice of her spirit guides, she was able to make this change. Helen suggests that everyone should connect with their own spirit guides to give direction to your life’s path.

A busy mum of two, Helen transformed her life’s outlook, staying grounded but believing that her spirit reaches beyond her roots. She knows the challenges life brings and taps into her psychic senses to let spirits guide her, inviting and urging others to do the same.

sunset and serenity

Spirit guides

Helen began her journey with guides in 2001 after a spirit visitation from her Aunty. After this, she began to really connect with her inner and higher guidance.

Helen has relied on spirit guides to help her through many life decisions. After studying business and journalism, Helen realised the importance of communication. However, only later and likely due to her self-proclaimed naturally curious manner, did she realise how important spirit communication is, and how it would change her life.

Helen suggests that guiding spirits are present to be called on at various times, whether that be a transitional period such as becoming a parent or other challenges in life. She knows that every life has a purpose and urges others to realise they are here for a reason, and you will be guided towards this if you use those around you.

Everyone has at least one spirit guide, who is assigned to them for the entirety of this particular lifetime.

Instead of just one spirit guide, Helen posits that everyone has access to a spiritual support team, likened to a board of advisors in a business where each spiritual guide plays a different role.  According to Helen, spirit guides do not possess a physical body and knowing they are present is not the same as sensing when someone is in the same room as you.

Their energy can be as close to us as we wish to invite it in.

girl in nature watching path

Use the ‘psychic senses’

Helen believes that everyone has psychic senses in the same way that we have the physical ones of taste, sight, smell, etc., but in a metaphysical sense.

The way that spirit is going to communicate with us is not necessarily through our physical senses, but the metaphysical.

Do the hairs on the back of your arms often stand up? Helen suggests events like this are signals that there is a lot of energy around. When you get dizzy, she likens this to a spirit being present as energy moves in circles, making you feel as though the world is spinning.

There are so many clues that our body is giving us that someone non-physical is trying to get our attention.

Colours, animals, numbers are also symbolic and can be relaying messages from the spirits around us, says Helen. Most of the time we are not even paying attention to the clues that indicate that spirits are trying to grasp our attention, she continues.

Through our intuition we can sense, we can feel that the energy in the room shifts, Helen says.

She believes in not hiding your truth and following these hunches.

tarot cards

Look backwards

Intuition plays a big role in how one expands and challenges themselves. Helen believes that everyone has a path, but this is not necessarily set in stone. Instead, listen and follow the signs around you to do what will ultimately benefit you. This intuition, she says, will help you navigate through your life’s journey.

Life will present us signposts with choices of directions and our job is to figure out, by using out intuition, which one of those directions we want to go in.

To determine what has shaped your life, Helen suggests looking at things that have shaped your life experience, as they will help inform you about how you have gotten where you are, and importantly what you will do next.

Looking backwards is one of the best ways to realise what your signposts look like.

Helen warns against getting caught up in fear-based thinking, as despite its intention to keep you safe, it might make you retreat or hide from what is presented in front of you. Instead, she encourages us to follow our intuition despite this not always being easy. In doing so, she hopes, you will be guided on your journey by the signs around you that you might be missing.

girl meditating at sunset

Ask for a sign

Once you start looking for signs, Helen says, you will find them.  Then, she believes, you will be able to see how much life is working for you. Don’t be so specific, Helen warns. For example, if you want to quit your job and ask for a yellow car to drive past as a sign, you might be waiting a while. Spirit guides can do a lot, she says, but “maybe not that.”

There is real magic in watching how the signs come to you, and what the signs are that come to us.

Helen suggests taking a step back and becoming an observer in your own life, so that you can notice what has shaped your life’s journey and start to see this “serendipitous, synchronistic life” that we are a part of.

man meditating in nature

Be present

Don’t spend too much time wondering what you purpose is, Helen urges. “Each and every moment is of purpose,” she claims, and “if there are millions of moments in a lifetime, you have already offered so much.”

Life purpose is a moot point because you don’t know what the purpose is until your life is almost is complete.

She ends the interview with an important message, reminding us to trust your intuition and its guidance.

You know more than you think you do, and when you trust yourself, your whole world can change.

Watch the full interview below or on our YouTube channel.

Olympic gold medallists such as Emma McKeon in the pool and Logan Martin in the BMX event have wowed the nation with their achievements. However, there is more we can learn from our Olympians and Paralympians beyond their pursuit of gold.

This Olympic game for Australia has been our most successful gold medal, Olympic Games since Athens, 2004. Over August, Australians have come to love watching the world compete as well as learning about the lives of athletes outside of competition. Below are 10 inspiring lessons today’s youth can learn from our Australian Olympians and Paralympians about success, regardless of their future career.

1. Your character is just as important as your achievements.

Name:  Emma McKeon

Age: 27

Sport: Swimming

Emma McKeon has become Australia’s most successful Olympian in history, with 11 gold medals to her name. Her accomplishments surpass Olympic legends such as Ian Thorpe! Emma’s humbling attitude towards her achievements sets the precedence for all young aspiring athletes that your character is as important as success. 

2. Just because something has not been done before doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen.

Name: Shae Graham

Age: 34

Sport: Wheelchair Rugby

Credit: Paralympics Australia

Shae Graham was the first female athlete to represent Australia in wheelchair rugby! After being in a car accident in her late teen years, her journey with wheelchair rugby began after losing a bet to her brother. Shae debuted five years later internationally as a wheelchair rugby player in the USA, representing Australia.

Through Shae’s experience, she shows all young women that they too have the power to be the next ‘first’ for women in sport.

With her sights set on gold in Tokyo, as the first female Paralympic Wheelchair rugby player for Australia, she is sure to continue paving the way for young female athletes.

3. Women can be in healthy competition and still support each other.

Name: Ariarne Titmus

Age: 20

Sport: Swimming

Credit: Swimming Australia and Delly Carr
Her healthy rivalry and positive relationship with the USA’s legendary swimmer, Katie Ledecky, has been unwavering.

Ariarne is an excellent demonstration of how women can push each other to be better without resorting to toxic behaviour. Her healthy rivalry and positive relationship with the USA’s legendary swimmer, Katie Ledecky, has been unwavering, despite the media’s interference and speculation. Both Katie and Ariarne always speak highly of one another, modelling how women should treat one another on and off the clock, wherever life may take them.

4. Success is not a solo achievement.

Name: Cedric Dubler

Age: 26

Sport: Athletics, Decathlon

Credit: Cedric Dubler (pictured left)
Not only has Cedric become the pinnacle of sportsmanship, but he teaches us that success is even better when shared.

Cedric Dubler has sent the press into a frenzy, and it is not because he won gold. Rather, Cedric encouraged his teammate, Ash Moloney, in the final leg of the decathlon to push ahead and secure himself and our country a medal! Cedric could have kept running and finished his race but instead used his energy to lift Maloney when he needed it the most. While Cedric didn’t receive a medal, he teaches us that success is a team effort – even in a singles event like the decathlon. Not only has Cedric become the pinnacle of sportsmanship, but he teaches us that success is even better when shared.

5. You should never let a setback stop you from achieving your goals. 

Name: Liz Clay

Age: 26

Sport: Athletics, 100m Hurdles

Credit: @thewolfferine courtesy of Liz Clay

Liz Clay is the epitome of perseverance, constantly bouncing back from injuries and setbacks on her road to Tokyo. Driven by passion and determination, Liz qualified as a debutante in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team as the second-fastest Australian in history and broke two personal bests in her 100m hurdle event.

She never lets her setbacks define her worth.

While Liz did not leave Tokyo with a medal, she never lets her setbacks define her worth or ability to succeed as a person and athlete. We can learn so much from her attitude towards success and setbacks. She will definitely be one to watch for in Paris 2024!

6. It is important to pursue your passions.

Name: Deon Kenzie

Age: 25

Sport: Para-athletics

Credit: Deon Kenzie

As a child, Deon accidentally discovered his passion for running after he began running to support his AFL training. He has been representing Australia, internationally for eight years, and Tokyo 2020 will be his second Olympic games. Deon is a world record holder and has an Olympic silver medal to his name. While running is his life, Deon also owns his own Kombucha brand. How cool is that!? Deon is a stellar example of how passion fuels success. We also learn from him that once you discover your passion, you should take it and run with it – quite literally in Deon’s case!

7. Hard work pays off.

Name: Christie Dawes

Age: 41

Sport: Para-athletics

Credit: Paralympics Australia

Christie has represented Australia in six consecutive Paralympic Games, which calculates to over 24 years of training and competition. Not only does she have two world titles and three medals to her name, but she is also a mother, wife and has a career in teaching as well! There is no doubt that Christie Dawes’ long career as an athlete is founded upon a hardworking, dedicated attitude to para-athletics.

8. Resilience is key.

Name: Alistair Donohoe

Age: 26

Sport: Para-cycling

Credit: Paralympics Australia

Alistair, since childhood, always had a tunnel vision goal of becoming an elite athlete, even after an incident at age 15 that could have stopped his pursuit of this dream altogether. Instead, after falling into para-cycling, Alistair put in the work, making it to Rio to compete in the 2016 Olympic games.

There is more we can learn from our Olympians and Paralympians beyond their pursuit of gold. 

Unfortunately, a collision on the course wiped him out of medal contention. Fast-forward 4 years, he is back at peak form to compete in the Tokyo games as a contender for gold AND as a reigning champion in two of his events. What a comeback!

9. It is never too late to follow your dreams.

Name: Zac Incerti

Age: 25

Sport: Swimming

Credit: Swimming Australia and Delly Carr

Zac Incerti is inspiring for two reasons. Firstly, Zac did not begin competitively swimming until he was 18 years old! He challenges the notion that all Olympians began training in childhood. More so, Zac uses his Instagram platform to openly speak of his mental health journey, namely his battle with anxiety. We can learn from Zac that there is no right timeframe to achieve our goals. He also teaches us the importance of both physical and mental health, contributing to normalising the conversation around mental health for men.

10. There is more than one way to reach your goals.

Name: Logan Martin

Age: 27

Sport: BMX Freestyle

Credit: Con Chronis, courtesy of AusCycling

Logan Martin is the protagonist in the epic story of a man who builds an Olympic sized BMX training park in his backyard to secure himself a gold medal in Tokyo. Martin had two options to remain competitive in his sport. He either had to move abroad for international competition or find a way to increase his training from home among the COVID-19 lockdown.

Logan’s story teaches us that there is always another way, and it is important to be resilient against our obstacles.

Yet, Martin found another way. He created a training facility in his backyard. Logan’s story teaches us that there is always another way, and it is important to be resilient against our obstacles. Logan could have quit or moved abroad, away from his family, but instead, he has left Tokyo with a shiny gold medal!

 

Perth Weekend Guide

We’ve found some fantastic fun and engaging things for the kids to do in Perth year-round, all you have to do is choose where to go first!

KEEP THEM ACTIVE

Are your kids bubbling with energy? These activities are sure to keep them entertained all day.

Zone Bowling Joondalup

Looking for a place with it all? With bowling, laser tag, an arcade and yummy food, Zone Bowling will keep them busy for hours. Visit: https://www.zonebowling.com/venues/wa/zone-bowling-joondalup

 

LatitudeAir Joondalup

Take the kids to LatitudeAir Joondalup to climb, bounce and fly. With over 3,000sqm of aerial entertainment, including trampolines and climbing walls, get the kids ready for a day packed full of activity. For more information, head to their website: https://latitudeair.com/?_ga=2.60282477.1790865332.1605578656-66651972.1605578656

The Climb Zone

At Kerem Adventure Park, the Climb Zone is a fun adventure packed experience – with high ropes, low ropes and rock climbing in a safe and fun family environment. Go to: https://www.theclimbzone.com.au

Adventure World

A favourite for the whole family, Adventure World is now open with awesome rides for everyone. If you’re a thrill-seeker, check out the big scary Abyss or the Kraken. Or if you’re looking for something a bit tamer, go see the Hawaiian resort-themed Kahuna Falls. There’s even something for the little ones in the Dragons Kingdom. Visit: https://adventureworld.net.au

Island Aqua Park

Located in Hillarys, this floating aqua park features climbing walls and slides, and is suitable for children 6 years and over. Just make sure to book 48 hours in advance. Go to: https://islandaquapark.com.au

Trees Adventure

Just one hour out of Perth, this action-packed treetop and zipline adventure is suitable for kids 4 years and older, and offers a great range of courses and challenges for the whole family to enjoy. Hopefully you’re not afraid of heights! Go to: https://treesadventure.com.au/park/lane-poole-park/

Bibra Lake Regional Playground

This playground has something for children of all ages, with everything from water squirting bulrushes to educational giant rocks telling local Nyungar stories. Located near Bibra Lake on Progress Drive, this playground has plenty of activities including a double flying fox, rope obstacle courses and climbing frames, and plenty of shade, so you can even bring a picnic. For more visit: https://www.cockburn.wa.gov.au/Recreation-and-Attractions/Parks-and-Playgrounds/Bibra-Lake-Regional-Playground

VR-Arrival

For the older kids, this fun and new Virtual Reality experience is suitable for children 11 years and older. Much more than just gaming, VR-ARRIVAL delivers extraordinary experiences, transporting you, your friends and family into immersive virtual worlds. Boasting the best in professional VR headset (HTC Vive Pro) and room-scale motion-tracking technology, VR-ARRIVAL lets you experience virtual reality at its very best, with unmatched immersion and realism. Walk freely inside virtual worlds and literally step INTO the experience. Visit: vr-arrival.com.au 

LEARN WHILE YOU PLAY

Keep them learning and growing on the weekends, by making their time off fun but educational.

AQWA

A family favourite located on Hillarys Boat Harbour, the Aquarium of Western Australia is the place to see and learn all about the underwater creatures of our coast as you go on a journey to learn and gain respect for our sea life. There is plenty to see and do, including diving or snorkelling with the sharks. For more info, go to: https://www.aqwa.com.au/

Fremantle Prison

Fremantle Prison has some fantastic experiences such as an Escape Tour, for children aged 5-12; and their making a mark art workshop! With tours for children aged 8-12, the prison is an excellent and exciting place to learn while you play, getting a glimpse into the life of a prisoner at Fremantle prison.  https://fremantleprison.com.au/visit-us/

Boola Bardip Museum

Located in the heart of Perth, the new and improved Perth Museum has finally reopened its doors and has a multitude of fun programs and activities to get up to. From their “Blast off! Stop Motion Animation” program about meteorites and our solar system, to their “Virtual Vortals program” about virtual reality and interactive digital adventures, plus many more. See: https://visit.museum.wa.gov.au/boolabardip/tours-programs-events

WA Maritime Museum

This weekend, head on down to the Maritime Museum in Fremantle to learn all about the fascinating world of the Vikings, with activities such as a Vikings themed game show, a choose-your-own-adventure story, or just relax and enjoy a fun-filled adventure of sailing, raiding and exploring. Go to: http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/maritime

 

Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory

Located only an hour north of Perth, become a rocket scientist for a day with their rocket making activities, and on Thursdays get the chance to become a space explorer with their school holiday program. Visit: Gravity Discovery Centre

SEE THE WILDLIFE

Are you an animal-loving family? There’s plenty of activities to get out and see some furry (or not so furry) friends.

Perth Zoo

A family favourite for wildlife is the Perth Zoo. There is plenty to do, from kids and youth programs to watching live streams of the animals and Zoocoustics where you can see some of the best emerging Australian musicians with your loved ones. Set in the lush gardens of the Zoo, these unique live acoustic music sessions will have hearts fluttering. There will be food trucks for those looking for a bite to eat, or pack a picnic and bring your own food with responsible BYO drinks. General tickets are $30. Perth Zoo members receive a discounted ticket price of $25 (A valid Perth Zoo membership card must be present upon entry).  For more information check out the website:  https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/programs

Caversham Wildlife Park

Located inside of Whiteman Park, get the chance to meet a wombat, feed a kangaroo, meet the koalas or feed some penguins. Visit: https://www.cavershamwildlife.com.au/daily-attractions/

Yanchep National Park

Have a little explorer on your hands? There are more than 400 caves reported at Yanchep Park, each offering contrasting experiences. Not only this but there are koalas to visit, kangaroos to see, golf to play and the opportunity tolearn about the rich culture and history of the Noongar people of Australia’s South West. For more, go to: https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/yanchep

Cohunu Koala Park

Have a chat with over 30 talking parrots, see dingoes, kangaroos, emus, deer and koalas, just to name a few of the animals that live at this park. Take a ride on the Cohunu Park Railway for $4, it zig-zags its way throughout the park most weekends & public holidays (subject to weather conditions). Visit: http://cohunu.com.au/pioneer-steam-museum/

 

Penguin Island

Just a five-minute ferry ride away, the beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters is an island known for its wildlife. Join them for a cruise to see some dolphins, rare Australian sea lions, as well as the world’s smallest penguins. Plus the chance to swim, snorkel, picnic and explore, Penguin Island is a dream for animal lovers. Go to: https://www.penguinisland.com.au/#welcome-1

Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm

Are cuddly farmyard animals more your style? With entry including free tractor/train rides, a free merry go round ride, free bottle and bucket feeding, and free tea and coffee for the grown-ups, this is a lovely day out for the family. Visit: https://www.cuddlyanimalfarm.com.au

Toodyay Fairy-Tale Farm

Located in the Avon Valley town of Toodyay, this family built and owned farm has a range of indoor and outdoor displays of all your favourite nursery rhymes and fairy tales, friendly farm animals for the kiddies to interact with, and even a vintage toy museum. Go to: https://www.fairytalefarm.com.au