I recently read a book I have seen on the shelves many times. A book that has been seen to be quite controversial as it’s brutally honest and well let’s just say very blunt. One can tell this from the front cover which reads, ‘The Subtle art of not giving a F#!ck’. Apologies for the language but I am just writing it as it is titled.

I have passed so many people reading it over the past few months and today, as I walked past the newsagent in the airport, on the way to my plane I decided what the hell, I am going to buy it and see what all the hype is about.

Well I read the entire book on my two short flights. I laughed out loud, resulting in some weird stares from my close neighbours, and I mean close… economy seems to just be getting smaller. Anyway, I am getting off track.

The book focuses on how today we are all about positive thinking, being happy, bettering ourselves and finding what we lack and improving on it….. NOT.. in fact it throws all the above out the window.

Instead, through blunt, real and true statements Mark Manson highlights some things which I have found myself experiencing as well.

The best part was when he talked about ‘Choice’. He stated ‘We individually are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter what external circumstances.’ My initial reaction was no way am I responsible for what I have been forced to experience over the past two years and even more recently a marriage break down.

However, his next line reads, ‘we don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.’ Almost like reaching a fork in the road!

Recently I have had to practice the art of waiting 24 hours before I respond, a blog I wrote about recently, as I frequently find myself ready to fire off a heated and emotionally charged response. The book made me realise I had a choice, yes I had control over how I could respond and I’m doing this with the mindset of if and when I did press send the things out of my control could then have unknown affects on many people including me.

I made the choice to put the phone down as I did not need to respond. I did not need to become entwined in a useless conversation which ultimately would make me angry when I really didn’t need to.

I made the choice to ignore someone else’s need to feel empowered by sucking others into their negative and insecure ways.

It’s interesting the word ‘choice’, I don’t think we all realise how often we are presented with it, forced to use it or it even being done for us. It can be choices within our control and also not.

Here are some examples of ‘choice’ I experienced just this morning as I flew from Brisbane to Uluru.

Brisbane – it’s 5am and it’s cold, I am tired and I arrive at the valet parking. With lots going on and little sleep I round the corner to a smiling young man who greets me with not only an amazing upbeat smile but politely and with enthusiasm. Right then I made the choice that no matter what or who, today was going to be a good day, my day, a day for me. It all started with the happy guy at the airport. Imagine the difference to my day if he had been rude and short….. who knows what choice I would have made then.

Aeroplane 1 – Brisbane to Sydney, I am next to and elderly couple (sorry mum and dad!) who were off to Japan on a tour. The lady was lovely and was happy to chat. I made the choice to take the time to talk, and listen. To actively listen. The other option and the one we see far too often, was to plug in, or isolate myself from others in fear of interaction or any form of being engaged in conversation. Times are sad aren’t they!

Landing in Sydney I had to change terminals, on my way I came into contact with a Kiwi lady who told me all about how she thought the weekend I was heading out on was going to be one of rejuvenation and adventure. One I deserved! I was like wow, I certainly hope so. She was again happy and joyous and positive and it just made me smile. As I walked away I heard her say, ‘enjoy your weekend sweetie’. I made the choice to say, Thank you, you too, rather than ignore it and keep walking.

Only seconds later I watched a lady struggling to push her suitcase near the exit doors, due to her being disabled and in a wheelchair. It only took me a minute before I made the choice to help, surprised that the 15 people who had passed her and watched her struggle just kept walking.

She was a bit taken aback when I asked her if I could push her suitcase for her. However, she was grateful for the help. Walking out with her and having light conversation we got her into the taxi line and on her way.

I made the choice to take a moment to assist her.

Recently, I have been through a lot of emotional, mental and physical trauma. It’s been hard! The days have been slow and long, the emotions high and low, the body sore and bruised but I have over the last week made some choices. Some choices for me. These may seem ‘korny’ to some but to me they have and will make a difference!

After all we are the product of our own making:

Here’s what I have decided:

1. I am going to spend some time making the right choices for me. This is going to be a time to focus on getting me in the right head space again. I was lost and have been for a while but I plan on finding me again.

2. I plan to make the most of all the negative things I have experienced and learn from them, (I hear my parents sighing with relief and at the same time making bets on this one).

3. I plan to reignite some of the friendships I lost due to the choices I had made previously, while maybe not my own choice or one I would have done without the external sources, but one I plan on making right.

4. I plan on taking the time to nurture the relationship I haven’t had the chance to with my ‘Pre-teen’. Some of you may be laughing hysterically at me saying; friends, relationship and teenager in one sentence. However, I know we will have bad times and rough patches but I choose to have those. I choose to take them on as without negative experiences we never experience adversity!

5. I plan to tick a few things off my bucket list, one of which I am in the process of doing right now!!! I am about to walk Ayres Rock or better known as, Uluru. Something I have talked about and thought about for a while now.

6. I plan to take back control! Something I have had taken away from me without my knowledge or consent, but be ready world, here I come again!

7. I plan to make the time for love, laughter, joy, pride, hope, inspiration and even sadness.

Trumping all these, no matter how many I was to list or how many may be relevant to you or not, I plan to choose.

I plan to choose for me, it’s my time now!

While on the plane from Sydney to Ayres rock I watched people, not in that creepy stalker way, more the seeing them as they are. I will admit it I am a people watcher, I like to watch people, in restaurants, at the beach, in the grocery store etc. We are amazing people after all! The way we walk, talk, communicate, stumble, move and much much more.

Well on the plane I watched a lady made a choice. I was given the ultimate responsibility and major leg room to be on the emergency exit aisle. However I wasn’t told that by taking this seat I wouldn’t be able to recline my chair…. did you know this?? Anyone?? Anyway I didn’t mind, after all it was only three hours and with added leg room I could just find a better slouching position to sleep in.

However, the lady in front of me also didn’t know that as she backs onto an emergency aisle she to cannot recline her chair. Well I watched her battle her chair for a good five minutes. I watched her get annoyed at the person in my aisle as she believed they were stopping her from reclining her chair. I then watched her get annoyed and stand up from her seat and almost, well it seemed she was ready to tell off the person in my aisle. Mind you she was fast asleep and was not even near the chair in front let alone had her tray table down or anything blocking this lady’s chair. I watched the confusion replace the annoyance and signally after what must have been a 15 minute episode she realised she had no choice and her only choice was to sit back down and that’s that.

Pretty simply, choice is everywhere. Sometimes we have no choice but to experience anger, pain, suffering and all those emotions we wish we never encountered but we have to, as the negative experiences also shape the positive. Not only this even in the above emotions we have a choice. Yup, a choice.

Back to the book, Mark gave a great example – when angry, you have two choices, to acknowledge being angry and choose to deal with it in a controlled way or put your fist through a wall. Ultimately both are choices we make, it’s the ‘actions’ after your choice, that again lead to more choices.

This may not have made an ounce of sense to you at all but it was interesting to read an entire chapter and mostly a book that talks about choice. It wasn’t all right, the book that is, well in fact it may have been but I chose to not accept sole parts and that’s up to me. Because at the end of the day, my choices are mine.

“The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives.” (Mark Manson, 2018)

‘I wish I could wake up with amnesia’

I heard this on the radio this evening. A song sung by 5 seconds of summer and the song is titled; ‘Amnesia’.

I thought about this, what if we did one day wake up and we had totally forgotten everything, everyone, the moments, the laughs, the tears and much much more, just gone….

Never to return.

“memories are sometimes a relief, other roles they are torture.” (Thirteen reasons why, 2018)

“We hang onto those memories because that’s what we have left.” (Thirteen reasons why, 2018)

I realise, at this moment in time it would be easier to wake up and have it all go away or have it gone. Then I stop and think about all that would be lost. All that would be gone, forever.

What happens to us throughout our lives shapes us to be who we are. Even the parts we wish we could forget.

When I truly thought about waking up one morning with amnesia I actually became tearful. There is no way I would give up or change what I have done, what I have experienced and ultimately who I am as that would be even more devastating.

While I have been through hell, not just once but on multiple occasions. I would not change a thing.

The money, the heartache and the loss. The anger, the trials and tribulations are all worth it. I am who I am because of all of the ‘stuff’ that I have experienced.

Wouldn’t it be easier though, to forget it all and get a new start, a blank slate. Well for me I don’t think so!

I would never give up the travel, the love, the friends I have made and also lost. The things I have seen the people I have seen. These are all once in a lifetime things.

I could never imagine forgetting my daughter’s first smile, her first laugh and even her first step.

So yes, some days we wish we could wake up with amnesia, but I can tell you now it would most certainly not be worth it!

Treasure what you have experienced, where you have been, what you have done and be amazed at it all for it is part of you.

I am me and I am strong. I am amazed and what I have done and am so eager to see what I know I am going to achieve.

Dont forget

So ultimately forget ever having amnesia! Bring it on I say!


Choosing not to hate.

I was lucky enough to attend a conference last week with my mother who came along after I mentioned two of the presenters I had heard before and I had thought were very, very good.

The topics, teenage kids and issues, were relevant to me as a teacher and Head of Year but would also be interesting to her as ‘Nanna’ to three very fast approaching teen girls.

Nana and I.jpg

The conference covered a number of issues we face with young adults. These included;

  1. Sleep deprivation
  2. Body image
  3. Over scheduling our children
  4. Sexting
  5. Drugs and alcohol
  6. Gambling in our young people
  7. Racism and hate

This last one, racism and hate was a powerful session. I am going to give you a run down.

Just like in the entertainment world, or when watching a show or event, the 10 minute warning bell rang. Mum and I dashed to the toilet, again! Oh and while I am on the subject of the toilet, why is there never a line outside the male toilets???

We took our seats in the big hall at the University of Queensland, a room I had not been in since I had graduated from University, and waited for the MC to introduce the next speaker. Little did I know that it would be Alpha Cheng and another male referred to as ‘Matt’.

Now I didn’t remember the story behind Alpha Cheng, my mother did and she was quick to re-cap the series of events that would have changed his life immensely. In October 2015 Alpha’s father was shot from behind by a boy aged 15 outside the police headquarters in Paramatta. What a day this would have been for him and his family.

Alpha spoke to us about his personal story and how he had chosen not to hate. It would not have been an easy thing to do as you stand at the crossroads I am sure, grief, sorrow, anger and much much more twisting around inside your head and your heart. It would have been easy to hate and to then become part of what could have been a huge series of events promoting this hate, maybe even riots, protests and potentially more deaths. However, he chose not to hate. Alpha, has in the past years since his fathers death taken it upon himself to guide others, to tell his story. To focus on racism and extremism which does exist in our society and even broader than that, our world.

I related to what Alpha had been saying as I had lived in a muslin country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for four years and truly loved it. To then be working behind a bar in Australia, while at University, and have listen to a few older men discuss the ‘Muslim’ community as  a whole, without considering the ramifications and possible implications of their opinions, if heard by the wrong person. I remember listening to them go on and on, their racial comments and bias becoming worse. Eventually I walked upto them, cleaning away their empty glasses and I said; “Can I ask if any of you have ever lived in a Muslim country? Been to a school with a number of cultures? ate dinners with them and celebrated Ramadam and the evening feast with their families?”. They looked at me shocked, the answer obviously being ‘no’. So I proceeded to tell them, politely and with enthusiasm, about the most amazing four years of my life. The culture, the people and how they had just sat there and stereotyped one race in all but 10 minutes. They had begun to ‘hate’, without realising they had boxed an entire race into maybe one persons actions. I think they never sat near the bar and discussed race again while I was at work.

In fact over time they gravitated back to the bar and slowly became interested in hearing more and listening to how amazing the experiences I had had while living in the UAE. After all all three of them had never left Australia.

Its a powerful message – learning not to hate. I know this as when my daughter was little and still sometimes now as a 12 year old she will come home and say “I hate this person….” or “? I hate class..”. I have always, since she learned to walk and talk responded with, ‘hate’ is a powerful word and we should be careful to use it at any time. We don’t hate, we don’t have time to hate and she should learn to understand what the word means.

Alpha Cheng was followed by a guy who was introduced to us at ‘Matt’, he is from EXIT Australia. If you do not know what that is, its worth having a look at. Matt works with people who need major interventions and help when things go wrong.

Matt told us his story, a very powerful one at that. Centered around hate as well, however, very different to the story of Alpha Cheng. Matt was brought up in a family, or more like a ‘cult’ were his words. He was brought up with the mindset that all, and I mean all Asians were bad. They were not to be trusted and if anything they were meant to be hurt, beaten and at times something worse. Matt was not only brought up within this angry and hateful home but he was also raped, repeatedly by his sister.

Matt grew up angry and had a very different school life to what our children do. He was locked in a box at his school, a small window was all he had to see through. The teacher and principal used to walk pass this box and kick it, I couldn’t even imagine this!

As you can imagine Matt needed a way to vent his anger, he did this through becoming a gang member. He had two gangs, one where he attended school and the other where he lived. These gangs were his delegates, he had one group who were not so violent to do the simple tasks, the other group had violent tendencies, all a product of their upbringing. It was this group that were involved in the violent encounters that Matt described.

It was at this point, the room silent, that he told us how it all changed.

He was lying on the ground getting his head kicked in, dropping in and out of consciousnesses, fearing that this was the end, when someone came to his rescue. This someone was an Asian.

He said, at that moment, he realised that what he had been brought up to believe was in fact not true. He had an epiphany, a light bulb moment, as this man, a man who he had been brought up believing was evil, helped him.

Since then Matt has lead an extraordinary life, using his life experiences, his past and also all that he knows to help people who have experienced and are experiencing what he did. Matt has since worked closely with law enforcement and other agencies to work his way into existing gangs and try to redirect or reach out to the members, to try and redirect their focus. To help them as he was helped.

Matt has gone from being a violent gang member to being a member of the Popes security. How unbelievable is that!

As mum and I listened to his story, after that of Alpha Chengs we were totally in awe of how these two men had had such vastly different lives and had survived. Not only survived but had not given into the hatred, the racism and what could have been a totally different mind set. Both chose to use their anger, sadness and everything else to help others. Both skilled in different ways but both with amazing things to offer.

I had goosebumps throughout their speeches. What exceptional people. We forget sometimes how easy it is to fall into the depression, anger and hate we may feel when something happens to us or our families. We think by channeling this hate and anger we can get retribution, revenge and eventually peace. Well after hearing these two speak and having been through a series of life events myself I understand that hate, while easy to do, is not the answer. Hope and forgiveness are!

So from all of this you are probably wondering what on Earth is my message. Well here it is;

Be sure not to jump to ‘hate’, take the 24 hours, the necessary breaths and be sure to consider how that hate may actually look. Will it at the end of the day bring you peace?

I can guarantee it won’t.

Forgive, while this may take some time, forgive, heal and move on.

You will be a better person for it. I promise!

Life is one big story and you are the author.

I find myself sitting on the floor at Bond university as a number of schools and their Grade nines, alongside mine, listening to a guest speaker about how he has taken hold of his life. Taken hold of his life story and being the author of his own story.

If your life was a book what would yours say?

blank pages.jpg

It’s hard to imagine life as a story, but ultimately it is. If you think back to what you have done, where you have been, what you have survived and achieved, we could all write our own stories. Imagine it, a book of life stories from each and every person. What an amazing read they would be.

Some would talk of celebrations and achievements, some would be ridden with trauma and sadness. Others would be so far from our own stories that we would have to re-read some of the pages just to make sure we have read it right. Some would read just as ours would.

My story is certainly still unfolding. I find new chapters starting before my eyes, ones that I have planned for and others that literally bowls me over and said, “this is what’s happening, now strap in, hold on and enjoy the ride!”.

We may never be able to control our chapters or the events that occur but we can approach them all with our eyes wide open. With the mindset of hope, forgiveness, love, gratitude, amusement and pride.

When you write your story or start to think about what has been written so far think of the following:

  1. Hope – always hope for the best. Hope for the future and satisfaction in all you do. This may not happen but we can hope that it will.
  2. Forgive – be sure to forgive, hate and anger is exhausting, trust me I know! It may not happen straight away but practice forgiveness. It is truly rewarding and can only make your story even better.
  3. Love – I have spoken about this but be sure to be open to love, this may result in hurt but to love and be loved is something you must have in your story. Be sure to love unconditionally and with all you have!
  4. Gratitude – be thankful. Tell others thank you, appreciate the thank you’s you receive. Take the time to look around and what we have and where we are. For me this is near the water, the sea breeze coming through the windows the birds in the trees. I often look out the kitchen window and take a moment to be thankful for where I am right then. My life may be falling apart around me but I still take that moment, because I deserve it. You deserve it.
  5. Amusement – laugh, laugh until you cry. laugh until your cheeks are sore. Laugh until you may wet yourself, but try stop before you do. Laughter is the true elixir of life! Find amusement in the small things, amusement in the mistakes you make, the things you do and sometimes in the things that normally stress you out. Amusement and laughter are necessary. No matter how down you are, how alone you feel or want to be, find someone to make you laugh, read something do something silly and you will be amazed at how it makes you feel.
  6. Pride – be proud. Be proud of yourself, after all you are a winner. You may be like, I have never won anything in my life, well you have. You won the race for life, before you even knew it, you had won something. When the egg and the sperm came together you were the product. You won the first and most important race you will ever be a participant of. You won the race of LIFE!

These are just a few things to take into consideration when writing your story, however they are some of the important ones. They are some of the top ten emotions we all need to make sure we use each and every day.

notes on a page.jpg

I ask myself – What would I like to be reading, this is what my story should be and this is how I want it to be read! The story may not always go as planned but everything happens for a reason, whether it be good or bad, seem impossible to overcome or something amazing it was planned for your story. It’s how we fold it into our chapters that matters.

Ultimately, Life is a story and you are the author!

Waiting 24hours!

You may be wondering what I mean when I say, “waiting 24 hours”.


Well, let me tell you what it means. Just yesterday I was lucky enough to attend a conference held by NextGeneration in Brisbane, and even then, one of the speakers mentioned the crucial, wait 24 hours before your respond.

He stated quite sternly; “Wait 24 hours before you do anything, giving your emotive response time to calm down”. He is so right!

I have come to love this saying as it has a very personal meaning to me. As the guest speaker talked about waiting before responding, my mother nudged me and had this wicked grin on her face as she reflected back to when I myself hadn’t listened to this advice. I didn’t wait the 24 hours, I responded full of emotion and anger, boy did it back fire.

It was a piece of advice my father gave me when I was in Year 12 after something happened which I will tell you about. He is an amazing man, my father, and continues to give me good advice and constantly reminds me to; breathe, take 24 hours, sleep on it, wait before you respond. This advice has saved me on many occasions and I am sure will continue to throughout the life I have in front of me.

Let me set the scene for you.

I was in Year 12, it was 2001 and I had only been in Australia 4 years. We had moved from the United Arab Emirates and an International School. I will discuss this another time. I had this interesting friendship with another girl at my school on the Sunshine Coast, her name was Kate. To be honest we did not get along. AT ALL!

We used to walk the playground, as you do when you are in high school and glare at each other as we crossed paths.

Anger eyes

If we sat near one another it was the typical whispering and giggling that girls do when we want the other group to think we are talking about them. Thinking back to it now, it was so silly, so stupid. As a teacher now though, I am the one dealing with these girl issues as their Head of Year, talk about irony!

One afternoon I was pretending to do my Homework/study at home, and yes pretending is the truth, and I happened to check my e-mail. There was this long e-mail from Kate. The e-mail was, let’s just say, not very nice. She used colorful language and wrote things about my parents and used words to describe them that made me angry. SOOOOOO angry!


The following emotions began to flow:

  1. Anger
  2. Frustation
  3. Irritation
  4. Disbelief
  5. A bomb about to explode…..

These are just a few!

All of them being what my positive psychology course would refer to as ‘red cape emotions’. Emotions that when left to fester can produce a negative response.

As mentioned yesterday at the conference, the fight or flight response became engaged and the adrenalin began to soar. Before I could stop myself, before I even thought about the two choices in front of me I hit the reply button and away I went.

I was pounding those keys, smiling evilly to myself as I thought about how I was replying. The evil grin coupled with the nasty little laugh you hear on the Disney animations when the villain is about to enact his revenge.

How the following day I was going to meet her in the playground and give her a real piece of my mind. She was going to feel the rage I was feeling!

Let’s just say, as my imagination ran away with me at how this ‘meeting’ was going to take place. It did not turn out how I envisioned. Rather much worse.

So I woke up the following day, eager to get to school and enact this revenge. The vision had developed overnight. You can imagine as a teenage girl what it looked like the following morning. ‘Me standing over her body, one foot on her, arms in the air, my body telling those around me, don’t mess with me and my family. Rather ‘gangster like’ but that’s what my mind did.

So I head to school and before I know it, before I get to see Kate, before I get to say my piece I am hauled into the principals office. Now I don’t know about you but it’s the same feeling of dread you get when a police car is behind you. Even though you have done nothing wrong, you second guess everything you are doing and get all nervous.

Well, Kate had shown her parents my e-mail response. Here I was the one in trouble, because I replied, because I did not wait to respond and if I had just taken the 24 hours,  the response would have been much less ‘angry’. To say the least I was ashamed, I was annoyed and when read back to me I realised my response was just as bad as her initial e-mail. I had been brought down to her level and acted just as she did.

Put it this way, this was a life lesson and one I look back on now and smile about. Often we talk about the lessons we learn in life and how they shape us as human beings. This did just that. From that shameful moment on I began to take the time before responding.

Throughout the ordeal of the family and criminal courts, the education system, being a teacher and a parent, there have been many times where I have crafted this amazing emotion filled inappropriate response to an e-mail, text or something of the like and then stopped, taken a breath and deleted it. I kept thinking to myself, if my parents read this what would they think.

Sometimes I would e-mail myself the response I wanted to send, then at least when I hit the send button I felt some relief. I would even sometimes send it onto my mother and ask her to hep me remove the emotion.

This skill of waiting the ’24 hours’ has helped me immensely. I encourage you next time you want to hammer a response or take on the person who has angered, annoyed or irritated you, wait. Take a few breaths, walk away and come back to it when you are calmer and more rational. Its amazing what adrenalin can do and how it will make you respond.

Remember you are not on their level, you are better than them. You are strong. You don’t want to go through the feeling of being ashamed or regret as once you hit the send button or you utter those words as once they leave your e-mail or your mouth you will never be able to get them back. EVER!

Be wary of the hurt it can cause the other person, yourself and those around you.


This is something we as young adults, parents, educators, grandparents and others fear  ourselves and our young people.

It is something we hope we never experience and those around us don’t either.

Wherever we turn, especially living on the Gold Coast, Australia, we see advertisements about being aware. Don’t leave your drink, don’t go home with strangers, don’t accept a drink from someone and the list goes on.

We educate our young people in schools through talks and guest speakers. Through units we teach, however, when we look at the teenage faces in front of us we see ignorance and the idea that ‘this won’t happen to me’. Its everywhere. We remain ignorant to something like this until we are subjected to it. Until we experience it first hand. Then we are the ones trying to teach those around us to be more aware, we ourselves become frustrated with the ignorance you yourself once had.

Let me clear something up before I get into another very personal story. Being drugged is not something that happens just to young people. It can happen to adults and elderly. You don’t have to be an eighteen year old in a bar or nightclub. You can be in your thirties and at an organised event and it can happen to you.

It did to me.

It was a major event, ball gowns and all. An event attended by my colleagues, friends and more. We spent hours on our hair, our make-up and of course the perfect dress. I would like to say it was an amazing evening and event, but I don’t remember it. I don’t remember anything.

Now I am a cautious person, I was a thirty year old, educated and a responsible person. I was dressed to impress and enjoy the evening with my friends.We had been lucky enough to book a few rooms at the venue and had spent the afternoon in fits of laughter as we ‘glammed’ ourselves up.

We were ready early, yes I know, unheard of in the female world but we were, so we headed down to the bar outside the grand ballroom and ordered a pre-drink. This is where for me the night ended, or should I say began.


For me, the next thing I remembered was waking up the next morning, thankfully in my room. However, it was learning what happened, that I couldn’t remember, that made me feel empty, lost and eventually angry.

This is what I gathered from chatting to my friends.

After this pre-drink we headed into the grand ballroom, we took photos, we danced and I spoke and acted like a ‘normal person’. However, not the normal me. I was spacey, quick to make judgements, quick to anger and unable to make decisions.

I remember the following few days, after the event, hearing snippets of what I had done and said, how ashamed I was, how empty I felt, as for me I could remember nothing. It was like someone or something had crept into my mind and stolen hours of my life. Without my permission. Seeing photos or even talking about the evening made me sick to my stomach. I felt violated!

For days I felt physically sick, I couldn’t eat and even more so I was depressed. Truly down. Like nothing I had ever felt before. I rang my dad and told him I thought I had had my drink spiked and how I was feeling. He told me the emptiness is what people who have this done to them must feel. Its the come down. The after effects.

What were my options? Well I could have had a blood test, I could have gone back to the venue and reported the event, but I didn’t. I think this was part shame, part anger and part not being able to fully comprehend what had happened. Having your memory wiped, stolen never to return no matter how hard you tried to fill in the deep black hole that was now present.


It took me days to recover and months to forgive myself. However, I had to also realise, I didn’t need to forgive myself. It could have happened to anyone anywhere, it was just me on that night.

Living on the Gold Coast, one of the entertainment capitals of the world, drink spiking was, and continues to be a major issue. We educate our young people about watching their drinks, being sure to order their own and never accept one from someone else, but, we must also educate them in the ‘what if’. What if this happens? We must educate them as individuals and also their friends to identify the signs of when things are not as they seem. To give them a lifeline, someone to call, something to do. Have the conversation when the time is right. Make them aware and be there for them. If they won’t ring you be sure to identify someone they will contact. Someone they trust and will not hesitate to contact. I am hoping to be that person for my soon to be teenager.

I can imagine the fear and the anger I would feel if I ever received a phone call like this, however I am convinced through education, awareness and understating I never will be.

If only a friend of mine had noticed or been able to take me to my room, remove me from the evening maybe the night would have been different. This is not a blame thing more an awareness thing. We need to be aware of those around  us, our setting and try be as cautious as we can be.

Don’t get angry with your child if they ring on a night and need you to come and get them, or if they do the wrong thing but reach out. This is the best outcome. Its a life lesson, a hard one but a lesson in itself. Forgive and then educate.

So many times I have wanted to share this personal story with the young people I see who talk about the parties they attend, the things they do and see but my job and need for professionalism inhibits this. I do believe hearing the personal stories and the real life events are what make our young people realise they are not invincible rather we are all just human beings.

To this day I have not been back to this venue. I am not sure why. Maybe its the shame, the anger or even the fear but I have not been back. Maybe one day but not just yet.

Why doesn’t the brain have an off switch?

Have you ever wondered why our brain doesn’t have an off switch.

Wouldn’t it be handy!

I mean think about it, how many times have you;

  • gone to bed wishing you could just switch off for a few hours?
  • stop the thoughts going through your head?
  • wondered if you will ever get through what you have to do as your brain seems to run away with itself and make the small things, into big things?
  • been so tired that all you want to do is ‘tune out’?
  • seen the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other and they are having it out with one another and your brain is just in the middle and cannot stop the ‘supposed’ conversation taking place?
  • Turn off the hurt or the emotions that you have been experiencing?
  • Turn off the grief and loss just for a moment?
  • Turn off the memories, whether good or bad, just take a break?
  • Worried about the bills you cannot pay and the financial stressors in your life?
  • Been somewhere and you see before your eyes, like one of those old movies, the list of things you have to do or need to get done scroll upwards like the introduction to a star wars movie. You may even have the theme song playing in your head as this happens. Your heart races and you almost go into panic mode before you realize you have managed before and you will again?

Personally I have this happen to me at least once a day. I find my brain sometimes even has a conversation with me. Whereby I say to myself, just get out of my head, or file this, as I imagine a filing cabinet and then the to do list, the concern, the worry or whatever, is filed for later. This ‘filing’ in my head even comes with a slamming of the draw. Sometimes I feel internally satisfied that I have achieved something by being able to file away the non-urgent things.

Lately, in schools, education, workplaces and even on an individual basis we are becoming more aware of peoples mental well-being and mindfulness. Some schools have installed sleep pods, meditation classes or even built a well-being center. Some work places have created surveys or run frequent staff morale events to ensure their mental well-being is taken into consideration.

Facebook has become more populated with small advertisements which promote – ‘Do nothing for 15 seconds’, then you see this amazing rain falling on the leaves of a tree and you are meant to feel calmer and more whole after watching it.

Others have Yoga, Pilates, boxing or even a glass of wine to achieve the same thing.

If only our brain had an off switch!

Inside the human mind

It truly is an amazing organ, so much goes on in there!

No wonder we often feel overwhelmed and we can’t keep going. I mean our body tires out when we are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted so why cant our brain get ‘tired’. Maybe when we say ‘my head hurts’ because you have been using the brain too much this is in fact when the brain should be able to turn off. Maybe it is tired….

Maybe it is an evolutionary fault – not being installed with an off switch. Imagine what a difference it would make if we could go to bed and just like our bedside light, switch off our minds, completely. Maybe it is a fault of the recent generations, becoming more technology focused and reliant. Becoming busier and busier. Trying to complete what we would have done  in a week in only a few days.

Maybe it us, maybe we are not letting the brain switch off? Maybe we can’t for fear we will never be able to wake up, reboot, or even I believe our greatest fear is missing something. Maybe we will miss something or wake up and be left behind. We are afraid.

Then when we wake the next morning we just turn it back on and it’s had time to reboot. It’s had time to rest and re-group. We would be so much more productive!

Our phones, computers and everything electronic often requires time to be ‘shut-down’ in order to be able to work at its best. Why is our brain not the same?

Awe – one of the top ten.

Awe, one of the top ten emotions I learnt about in my positive psychology course.

It’s actually a great word.

Before I talk about it let’s define it:

Awe is: “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder” ( It’s synonyms include: wonder, amazement and astonishment.

I hadn’t realised how many times I had experienced this emotion until I took the time to think back and reflect on all I have done, everything I have seen and where I have been!

Here are some of my ‘awe’ moments, where I have felt amazement, wonder and complete overwhelming appreciation for beauty. Being in that moment, in that place at that time to capture what I have.

1. Sitting in a cave which acted as a safe haven for the women and children. Housed in the mountains of Kenya, one of the guards puts down his machete and picks up a camera to take some photos.

2. The skull of a deer lying next to a watering hole where lions and elephants frequent. The circle of life in real time!

3. An African sunset. I just couldn’t believe where I was and how lucky I was to experience this alongside people just as motivated as me and who take the time to develop our young people. Taking them across the globe to volunteer and dedicate their blood sweat and tears to help others. A truly awe inspiring thing to do!

4. This picture says it all. Sitting in a hotel sipping on a cider looking over a watering hole and this is what we get to see. Animals in their natural habitat. A truly unique experience, and amazing to be a part of.

5. A young monk sitting in the temples in Cambodia. Days spent dedicating his time to helping others give thanks. Only having one meal a day, he is still so thankful and always willing to do what he can to help others appreciate their surroundings and to be thankful for what they have.

7. Cambodia 2017 – working as a volunteer alongside some students in our sister school. Two boys who have nothing, sitting next to one another watching what was going on. A special moment for them both that I captured. I was in awe of how resilient these young people are despite the hardship they face each day!

8. A small puppy in Myanmar, one of many, that just sits alone in the city, the temples or any place where tourists may be. Some are used by the locals to get money or donations as they ‘cannot feed themselves’. A helpless puppy.

9. A tree that has shown us building a temple will not prevent it from being all it can be. One of the most beautiful temples in Cambodia.

Taking back its space!

10. A cupcake parlor called ‘Blooms’ in Cambodia. Run by an English lady who educates the local women and gives them a skill. This amazing cafe is situated on a street full of dust and pollution; however, behind the glass walls resides this magical place and the most delicious cupcakes!

11. Three of the children from our sister school in Cambodia. They may have walked 5km to school that morning, had no breakfast and the only clean water they can access is when they are at school! Despite this, they are still so truly happy and grateful!

An amazing culture!

12. A picture tells a thousand words. The killing fields in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A confronting experience no matter how many times you go. A bracelet made and hung as a sign of respect and acknowledgement to every body, set of bones or child killed in what was a very hard time in Cambodia.

13. In the skies of Myanmar, a bird takes flight!

14. Like life sometimes we refer to the light at the end of the tunnel. This just made that statement seem so real! It resonated with me as on another level as the tunnel may seem dark, but there are always patches of light along the way!

15. Early in the morning, camped on the side of the Clarence River in NSW, we wake up and find a spider has spent hours crafting the most beautiful and intricate web. The dew made it even more amazing to look at. The time, the effort and detail was amazing!

16. Working with some horses in Gatton, QLD, and this little spider (mind you a very poisonous one), is out getting some sun!

17. Snow on the Gold Coast.

18. I thought this was normal, I mean come on, everyone has a snake help them when they are marking. She was so comfortable!

19. Taking the pet snake for a walk – is this normal. The looks we got that day!

These are only a snippet of the many times I have experienced the emotion, ‘awe’.

Be sure to take the time to look up,put the screen down and take a moment to appreciate your surroundings!

It is truly amazing!

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