Friday, May 29, 2009
Not sure where this was going I replied, “No – why do you ask?”
“Because my dress is getting shorter and shorter!”
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Savvy and Successful, Viktoria’s new business provides a coaching service offering business and marketing advice to businesses owners.
The new business venture is something Viktoria has had ‘brewing’ for a long time. “It’s probably something I should have done sooner, but with a young family and growing a business, I didn’t have the wherewith all or time to think it through completely and put the wheels in motion.” But when Viktoria became a mentor and speaker for the Young Entrepreneur’s Stepping-Up Program she realised she had everything she needed to start the business.
Viktoria’s favourite part of the job? Working with young people. “I love their bravery, passion for what they are doing and of course the delicious potential that they represent.”
Despite her high-achieving lifestyle, Viktoria is under no illusion about the fact that, underneath it all, she is just a normal, busy mum and admits that her daily motivation is quite simple; “Getting the children ready for school is what makes me get up every morning.”
Thursday, May 21, 2009
“I’d been told that it’s quite common for adults to have nodules on the thyroid,” Rachel explained, “but I wasn’t prepared when the specialist rang me and said, ‘Hi Rachel. It’s got to come out.’”
Rachel was prescribed surgery (total removal of the Thyroid) and Radioactive Iodine Treatment and was booked into hospital almost immediately.
At the time of the surgery Rachel was still breastfeeding Campbell and the operation required a four day hospital stay. Rachel’s husband, Justin, spent those days by her bed, there with Campbell, so she could still breastfeed.
The Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RIT) was much more complicated than the surgery but fortunately it was able to be postponed until after Campbell turned one and had been weened.
“I had the RIT in an isolation room at the hospital and no one was allowed in and I wasn’t allowed out of the room for 24 hours,” Rachel said. “It was a very lonely experience.”
“Even after going home I spent ten days alone in my room, not allowed to kiss or hug anyone (especially my boys). It was a frustrating and went very slowly but we had a lot of family and friends from church who brought us meals and we knew we weren’t alone.”
Rachel and Justin explained everything to their eldest son Jake, who was three at the time. He understood that he needed to stay away from his mummy so that the medicine in her body didn’t make him sick but it was tough on baby Campbell who was too young to understand why his mum couldn’t hug him.
There are two types of Thyroid cancer which are fatal. Fortunately, the type Rachel suffered with was curable. “Surprisingly, there wasn’t a time when I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Rachel reminisces. “It did get hard though. I just wanted to enjoy my new baby but had this hanging over me for the first 15 months of his life.”
Even though life has changed forever for Rachel, she’s confident about the future. “Whether the cancer returns or I’m faced with more mountains to climb, I know I can do it,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever go through something I can’t come out of stronger.”
Rachel is now fully recovered from the cancer but will undergo tests every six months and requires medication everyday for the rest of her life. She still has trouble with low calcium levels and is working with specialists to find a solution.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I spoke to two of my beautiful friends who've both carved a life for themselves in which they're able to be doing exactly what they want with their lives. Leanne is a full-time accountant and Susan is a full-time at home mum. They've both explained how they make their lifestyle choices work, why they chose the life they have and what makes it work and sometimes difficult.
Full-time accountant - Leanne
“We decided that Hayden would be the main care giver mainly for economic reasons. I always thought I’d be a stay at home mum, because that’s how I grew up. However, that changed once I started working.
“It works well for us; the kids get real hands-on time with Hayden, which they love and having more money isn’t everything but it certainly gives us more options. I love it too because I come home to cooked meals and clean washing! I’m very fortunate that my employer is quite flexible; sometimes I meet Hayden at appointments for the kids (eg. Will’s kinder orientation) and make the time up later.
“I can get very tired though, especially when I was breastfeeding and I’ve found that friendships can suffer because I like to spend all my ‘after-hours’ time with the kids.
“The last three years have been a steep learning curve and I’ve had to learn to let Hayden do things his way. I’ve also found that it’s very important to take time out and to make the effort to socialise, especially for Hayden’s sake.
“Socially it can be tough. My husband has been laughed at for being a Mr. Mum and someone commented to me, “He must be lazy”. These comments upset me because I believe that my husband is more of a man for putting his family first by choosing what works best for all of us rather than simply conforming to the norm. Some assume that I’m working only because I have to, not because I want to and they feel sorry for me which can be frustrating, yet some people think it’s fantastic. In the end, who cares what people think? As long as our family is happy.”
Full-time stay at home mum - Susan
“Ever since I was a little girl, I really wanted to be a wife and mother. I’ve always loved taking care of children and although I didn’t have any younger siblings, I was looking after other peoples kids from my early teens onwards.
“One of the biggest benefits of staying at home is the time I have with my kids, where they can ask questions like, “what is time?” (try answering that one!). I see it as a privilege to have this time with my kids and don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to make such an impact on a life so I want to do the best I can.
“At first it was tough getting used to putting all my time and effort into working at home and not getting paid for it. It was quite humbling to be dependent on Steve as the breadwinner. Now I feel like Steve and I are a team doing our different parts for the family and I don’t see it as ‘Steve’s money’ anymore.
“I plan to stay at home until Archie is at school because I think that’s what’s best for us as a family. Because Steve’s job requires long hours, I feel it’s important for the children to have a parent consistently in the home and I’m in the best position to be able to do that.
“I’m really glad I haven’t had to put my children in day care but believe that having the luxury of having Grandparents caring for your children would be a great option.
I’ll probably study at home for a couple of years and then work part-time within school hours once he’s started school. I’m a big believer in taking things as they come though and don’t spend a lot of time planning it out.”
Monday, May 18, 2009
In 2001 Shelley launched two businesses from home - Pay Solutions and Salon One. Pay Solutions is a direct debit management company, allowing buisnesses to have a more steady cashflow due to regular direct debit payment being made by clients and managed by Pay Solutions. Salon One is a beauty salon membership program used at many salons around the country. Members/salon clients pay a monthly membership fee which is then translated into credit for use in-store, again allowing owners a more steady cash flow.
Salon One was the original concept. Shelley's friends were struggling with their family business - a gym/beauty salon; “Their salon was having its ups and downs so they came up with a concept of a membership program which was to be conducted via direct debit,” Shelley explains. “My friend had the concept and I had a marketing background so she asked me if I wanted to come on board in a marketing capacity. My daughter was only three months old but I jumped at the opportunity.”
Shelley has since bought out the business and now runs Pay Solutions and Salon One with the assistance of two employees.
Pay Solutions evolved soon after.
“There are a number of reasons why we chose to have a home-based business,” the busy Mumpreneur explains. “I have a young family so the flexibility was a plus. The other main reason was that I wanted to invest funds into the marketing and growth of the business.”
Shelley admits that initially, the plan was to stick with the home-based setup for a few years and then to move into an off-site office. But people’s perceptions changed and Shelley realised that moving wasn’t necessary. “I thought if I ran the business from home that people would see me as an unprofessional small business but that if I had an office, people would see me as a more professional, large organisation,” Shelley says. “I think people’s views have changed over the years and it’s no longer necessary to have an external office.”
Shelley’s family have been very supportive of her business and her daughters, Georgia 8 and Ella 5, love watching and getting involved. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing (that they often see me working). They’re exposed to that work ethic and I can explain to them that Mummy’s working to earn money so we can do special things.”
Pay Solutions and Salon One will remain home-based businesses for as long as possible until council restrictions require them to move (many councils have strict regulations about how many employees can work in a home office). When the time comes to move elsewhere, Shelley will no doubt feel a little disappointed. “If you had asked me eight years ago whether I preferred working from home or not I wouldn’t have said it was by choice but now it is definitely my choice.”
Friday, May 15, 2009
When Debbie's son, Joel, decided he wasn't going to eat vegetables, Debbie, who was on a weightloss journey herself, decided to find a solution. The solution came in the form of meal time guest, Andrew Potato Face, and developed into a colourful children's book.
It all started at a Mother's Group meeting. Debbie expressed her worries and some of the womens suggested she make a 'vegetable face' on Joel's plate. Debbie gave it a go and asked him; “Would you like to eat his eyeballs?” He was so excited that he grabbed a handful of peas and ate them.
“When I lent the original book to other mums in our Mothers Group, they all came back with positive feedback," she sais. "One of the mothers had a premmie daughter who’d never eaten a plate of food in her life. She borrowed the book and she said it was the first time her daughter had eaten a complete meal." After seeing how much it had helped other mums, Debbie decided to have it published. The bright, fun illustrations were created by Leonie Windle and Debbie had it designed and printed through her graphic design company, White River Design.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The market Darren identified was men’s gifts and the solution was Guy Stuff, a classy men’s gift and collectables business. With two stores now open in Sydney and another two being planned for 2009, Guy Stuff is also a thriving online store which sold 10 000 items in its first year alone.
Darren, who also has a passion for collecables believes there is a huge demand for shops specialising in men's gifts. "My main attraction is to retail, it just turned out that it was gifts and collectables, it was almost going to be bakeries.”
At Guy Stuff a customer is sure to find a suitable gift for any man. The stores sell everything from cuff links to bar accessories, model cars and planes to collectable pins and coins and much more. Stores are clean, bright and well set-out, appealing to men, women and children.
Another thing setting the up-and-coming retailer apart is the lack of professional market research. Darren doesn't pay for 'market research' but instead, opts to listen to customers comments and suggestions; "Just about every decision we have made in Guy Stuff has been the direct result of talking to customers," he says.
The current financial crisis is making it hard for Darren to find investors for his growing business but, despite this, has bright plans for the future. "We hope to have a store within 20 minutes of the entire populations of Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne, Geelong, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast," Darren says. "I want Guy Stuff to be known as the best retail destination for men’s gifts and collectables in the country."
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Matthew Johns has a huge advantage. He is loved by fans all over the country and holds regular spots on popular TV programs. He has the greatest avenue to tell his story and render as much pity in the hearts of the public as possible.
The woman who, seven years ago, was involved in the activities portrayed by the media doesn't have this advantage. She finally spoke out about what actually happens behind closed doors and gave these 'mystery' women a face and, more importantly, a voice. She has exposed the shame and emotional trauma these rituals cause the women involved.
I'm inclined now, to be of the opinion that the most noble thing Matthew Johns can do right now, in an attempt to save face and his career, would be to publicly acknowledge the harm he has caused the woman involved. Instead of lamenting the strife it has understandably caused him and his family, Johns might consider apologising to the woman in question.
These sex acts reinforce a common thought (even if it may be subconscious) that women are objects to be played with and discarded as desired. Johns is now in a position to help change this sad state of affairs but may not have the humility to do so.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Bernadette Black and her son, Damien Oliver-Black
Bernadette was nominated by her 15 year old son, Damien Oliver-Black, who said of his mother, "It's like she has a flame inside her that burns and burns to help people," he said. "But she also always has time for her own kids and makes us all feel very special - and she makes great chocolate chip cookies!"
Bernadette's story is so different to previous winners of the Barnardos Mother of the Year Award. While all are very much deserving, Bernadette speaks for many of the unheard mothers. The ones who are assumed inadequate and often ignored because of their young age. How fantastic to have such a beautiful, loving woman encouraging and representing this group of people.
Bernadette's book, Brave Little Bear, is available at her website http://www.bravelittlebear.com.au/
Quotes courtesy of http://www.news.com.au/
Images courtesy of http://www.bravelittlebear.com.au/
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
“On April 19, I chose to answer a question during the 2009 Miss USA pageant in an honest and personal manner that expressed my views of the long-established definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman... my comments defending traditional marriage have led to intimidation tactics that seek to undermine my reputation and somehow silence me and my beliefs, as if opinion is only a one-way street.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Jess Comes Out Of The Shadows
by Joni Leimgruber
DESPITE international contract offers, a growing fanbase and an upcoming slot with singer-songwriter Lior on his ‘Shadows and Light’ tour, Kurrajong’s Jess Chalker is determined to take
Ms Chalker, was flung into the online spotlight when she posted some of her songs on internet website YouTube. After one of her songs, ‘Said the Raindrop to the Seed’, received
around 400,000 hits, contract offers from all over the world began flooding in.
Ms Chalker, whose feet seem to be firmly planted on the ground, spoke to The Gazette about her approach towards music and her hopes for the future.
“I want to approach this as an artist and build on my craft first,” she said. “I’m still very shy and my performances are still quite intimate. I want to be a true professional before I really get into it.”
When asked how she would describe her musical style, she said it was difficult to categorise.
“No-one really wants to be put into a genre box but I guess my music is alternative acoustic lyrical,” she said.
This year looks like it will be a busy one for the talented songstress, with a tour beginning in March, supporting well respected alternative artist Lior for nine dates of his ‘Shadows and Light’ tour.
“I’m really excited,” she said of the upcoming tour. “I’m a little nervous but very excited. Lior is an amazing artist and I feel honoured to open for him and to have his support.”
Ms Chalker, who also plays piano and guitar and dabbles in the ukulele, finds her inspiration not only in talented musicians such as The Beatles and Joni Mitchell, but also in her circle of friends and family who only discovered her lent last year, when she began posting her music online.
“They felt quite proud,” Ms Chalker said. "They knew that I was singing and playing guitar but I don’t think they realised that I was writing my own songs and doing okay with that. It came as quite a surprise but they’ve been very supportive.”
While Ms Chalker is now based at Summer Hill, her family still lives in the Hawkesbury and are proud of her development as a serious musician and artist.
Jess recently serenaded diners at a Valentine’s Day dinner at Sassafras Creek restaurant in Kurrajong Village.
Sassafras owner Natalie Smith raved about Jess’ beautiful voice, lilting acoustic melodies and
Lior’s’ Shadows and Light’ tour is set to be the final shows before he commences work on his third album, and promises to be a unique and memorable show which shouldn’t be missed. The tour is expected to cement Jess Chalker’s status as a homegrown musician to watch.
For more information, gig dates, or to listen to Ms Chalker’s music, visit www.jesschalker.com
As published in the Hawkesbury Gazette, January 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Visiting this exhibit certainly won't be on my to-do list.
HE is an art lover who has dedicated his whole body to his passion.
Now retired history teacher Geoff Ostling, 65, has pledged to donate his skin to the National Gallery in Canberra.
"To donate skin is not the most amazing thing in the world but the tattoos are revolutionary."
The concept of donating his skin was followed in an Australian documentary Anatomy, which has already won international acclaim.
He will also donate his organs to medicine.
"It has never been done as a whole body before and not in a gallery," he said.
"People can be squeamish about it. Portraits painted on human skin hang in galleries around the world. They don't tell you that, of course, and valuable books were also covered in human skin."
Sydney taxidermy expert Sascha Smith said it could be a challenge to preserve the tattoos unharmed but the process would be no different to skinning an animal.
Read Daily Telegraph article by Vikki Campion here: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25411667-5012895,00.html