Dare Greatly. Be Whole-hearted.

I’m been steadily unravelling here for the last two weeks. Who would have thought that good things happening – winning some money, GETTING A JOB –  would unleash the ocean of emotion I’ve been drowning in ever since.

For the last week it has ebbed and and then hurtled back knocking me for absolute six over and over again. I am constantly anxious – the pit in the stomach, the clenching of the jaw, the hard set shoulders, the internal monologue of keep it together man. The spontaneous bursting into tears. OH MY GOD the tears.

I have also been deeply pre-menstrual which is a whole “hello fire, I’m petrol” kinda thing.

And while the keep it together mantra has been the clanging cymbal, there’s been a whole percussive set going on underneath:

you’re not worthy

who do you think you are

you can’t do that

you’re not good enough

As IF you’re going to be able to pull this off


Do you know how exhausting that is? I can not even imagine what it is to live with. Chef’s bed shark is not even circling, that creature has found some secluded cave and is just hiding out until the crazy lady calms the fuck down.

Today Grover refused to get dressed. I begged, I cajoled, I used parental tones and eventually I just sobbed. Yep. SOBBED.

This morning I sobbed at last night’s Dr Who episode on iView. I’ve sobbed all day today actually. Stupid big heaving sobs that come from nowhere.

Except it’s not nowhere, it’s the core of my being. It’s my pure and utter fear of being vulnerable.

I’d seen these following two Ted lectures doing the rounds on FB and Twitter but never paid much heed as I don’t have time to sit and watch whole talks for goodness sake.

And then, today a friend – a friend I haven’t seen in years although she lives a few suburbs away, we used to work together a lifetime ago – sent them to me. She said, ‘you put everything out there but don’t see how courageous that makes you.’ She said, ‘maybe you should watch the shame one first’. She’s a smart cookie.

So I’m going to say this and quit rolling your eyes. FIND the two lots of 20 minutes you’re going to need to watch these. FIND IT.

Key points that really resonated for me:

Vulnerability is not weakness.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change.

I didn’t learn about vulnerability and courage and creativity and innovation from studying vulnerability, I learnt it from studying shame.

Be in the arena.

Dare greatly.

Shame is the gremlin which says you’re not good enough and who do you think you are.

Shame is not guilt. Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behaviour. Shame is I am bad, guilt is I did something bad

Shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders

Guilt is inversely correlated with those things


Shame is do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat.

Shame for women is the swag of unobtainable, conflicting and competing expectations on who we are meant to be.

For men it’s about being weak.


Empathy is the antidote to shame

Secrecy, silence and judgement grow shame


The whole-hearted – those with a sense of worthiness, a strong sense of love and belonging  believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.

A sense of courage (is not bravery) its original definition meant to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

The whole-hearted have the courage to be imperfect.

The whole-hearted have compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others. We can’t practice compassion with others if we don’t treat ourselves kindly.

Connection as a result of authenticity. They were willing let go of who they thought they should be for who they are.


They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. It’s not comfortable or excruciating, they just talked about it being necessary. About saying I love you first. To do something where there are no guarantees. To not control or predict.


Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and struggle for worthiness but it’s also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.


Our job as parents is to look at our kids and say you know what, you’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle, but you’re worthy of love and belonging. That is our job.

Love with your whole heart even when there are no guarantees

I am enough.









NDIS – time to lead

In Australia there is this marvellous political construct called COAG – the Council of Australian Governments. It’s meant to promote policy reforms which are “of national significance or need coordinated action by all Australian governments”. In reality it is a stoush. A chance for state and territory premiers and chiefs to prance and preen and belly-ache about lack of money, favouritism or lack thereof and so on and so forth. It meets once or twice a year and yesterday’s gathering was to advance the National Disabilitpy Insurance Scheme. This is a great 10 point document to tell you what the NDIS is and why we need it.

In brief the NDIS is about establishing a Medicare type scheme which would provide a secure and consistent pool of funds for services and supports to the disabled rather than the existing system where there is an annual budget allocation which is never enough and always runs out.

It reframes support to one of investment rather than one of charity.

It places timely intervention and appropriate aids, equipment, training and development as equal investment in an individual’s capacity rather than welfare.

It recognises that  disability is for a lifetime. It looks not just at the individual’s needs now but over their lifetime. For example, you’re profoundly disabled? So you’ll need a wheelchair, ramps, a modified vehicle, a hoist for getting in and out of bed, on and off the toilet, in and out of the shower, on and off the lounge. Right, let’s get that sorted as you are a human being with rights and to not have those things is not acceptable in a civilised society. OH, you’re now 10/15/20/40/OLDER so you’ll need a bigger wheelchair, your transport needs may have changed, an adult hoist/bed etc – let’s update your equipment.

At the moment all of that is in the hands of the family. And if you miss this year’s funding allocation for a bed that can be raised or lowered? Well, you can raise your own funds, go to a charity or just wait.

And you can do that every single time your child grows out of their equipment.

Perhaps you have a highly autistic child or maybe you’re like Oscar with a moderate intellectual disability but relatively mobile and  highly social? Well, you need time with your peers and activities just like any other person your age. On top of that, your unique circumstances mean your mum or dad or carer need some time out. Some time to recharge the batteries and just live for a few hours without the pressures of being the whole world to an individual dependent on you for just the most basic of human functions.

Well you can now ring around, ask others, chance upon some respite services in your area but they only do an intake once a year so your name can go on a wait list for the following year but don’t hold your breath because there’s a big cohort of kids moving up from the primary school group to the high school group and there won’t be any spots unless someone moves out of area.

And on and on it goes.

Having a disability in Australia makes you a second class citizen. FOUR millions Australians have a disability. That’s roughly the population of Melbourne. Then there are the 2.6 million Australians who care for family members with a disability. We’re now looking at the population of Victoria.

Now wrap your head around this cold hard fact:


In Australia if you are born with a disability or become disabled at some stage during your life you will be pushed to the periphery of its society. You will be forced to look for charity for basic needs in coping with that disability. You will, in light of all this, be punished for being disabled.

People with a disability and their families currently pay a price for disability in the form of social and economic exclusion and a massive lack of choices.

Way to go Australia.

The Productivity Commission report into establishing an NDIS made the very salient point that yes, the NDIS will cost a lot BUT – the overall economic benefits are likely to exceed scheme costs by facilitating economic and social participation by people with a disability and those caring for them.

Imagine that – your provide the additional support to those who need it and low and behold they become functioning members of the community rather than a drain on it. GO FIGURE.

Ironically as state governments cried poor in failing to support and instigate NDIS trials at COAG yesterday, they are staring down the barrel of an economic crisis in the disability sector. The number of people with a disability is rising, someone is diagnosed with a disability every 30 minutes in Australia, while the number of people willing and able to offer unpaid support is falling. The cost of that? To governments? MASSIVE.

So they have a choice. They can wear the massive costs of having a cohort of their population desperately needing resources, not getting them and therefore not able to function in the society OR they can chip in, develop a scheme that empowers and enables that cohort to then have those people able to contribute.

Yesterday there was such an opportunity for our elected leaders to stand up and say, this is important, this must happen, let’s make it happen. Instead they played politics and through their actions – or lack thereof – showed their true colours.

I have moved through incredulity and anger and am now just sad. I despair, truly I do.



the allconsuming guide to everything: cleaning a teenage boy’s bedroom

1. Don’t.

Seriously they’ll leave home eventually and as if you’re not fumigating, re-painting and ripping up the carpets when that happens. Just save yourself the heartache and cost of all those antihistamines.


If you

a) can’t help yourself,

b) need money for petrol/bread/milk,

c) can smell something worse than that heady mix of boy BO and Lynx, or

d) have not sighted the family’s beloved pet for a few days then:



Seriously, if it’s on the floor just wash it. I know it’s instinctive to just pick something up off the floor and sniff it but don’t. Repeat, back away from the smelling. Don’t question it, don’t doubt yourself, just wash it again.


You’re olfactory system will be forever grateful.





Comfort food: what’s your poison

Chocolate Sludge
World peace imminent

Today I spoke about comfort food in my radio spot on ABC Mid North Coast. It seemed fitting considering how cold it is at the moment and that I basically look on any situation as one requiring comfort food. Yep, I take emotional eating to a whole new level.

My in-depth research* for the discussion turned up some expected and downright weird revelations.

Potatoes and carbs rated highly – higher than chocolate even. This makes sense because your brain releases buckets of cortisol when you’re stressed and that in turn makes you crave carbs.

It seems that if you love potato you love it any which way. Mashed, roasted, as a dauphinois, you name it – obviously if it’s mashed you need to have as much butter in it as humanly possible, same with the salt. If you melt the butter and heat the milk before adding to your mash it’ll be even lighter and fluffier. Promise.

Pasta got a few mentions – macaroni cheese in particular – but bread trumped it time and time again. And it seems that the more comfort you need the more pedestrian the bread needs to be. Sliced white bread topped with lashings of butter seems to be a real go-to for many of us.

Devon sandwiches
White bread, butter, devon, tomato sauce = happiness in my mouth

In fact, comfort food for many seems to fall to the cheap end of the stick:

  • sliced white bread
  • plastic sliced cheese
  • tinned spaghetti
  • baked beans
  • tinned tomato soup

to name a few.

The weird includes BabyMac‘s husband’s very own experiment to prove the Higgs Boson: take one bread roll, smear with vegemite AND peanut butter and then nuke in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

Jodie from RicRac tried to convince me that slices of cream cheese topped with vegemite were a winner:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/jodiericrac/status/220488629959663616″]

Chips – either packet or hot – on white bread also featured.

Raisin toast – the crack of carbohydrates.

Pudding anything: lemon, chocolate, self-saucing, rice.

Mum’s roast, lentils, pudding, insert childhood memory here.

Mine are well established – anything with that white frosting bakeries make on top, jam rollettes, bread with quality butter, toast with lashings of butter and homemade jam, fried devon. Basically give me highly refined carbohydrates laden with fat and I’ll purr. Oh yes, there’s many many reasons I am Fat Runner.

So what’s your comfort food? What makes your whole body go ahhh and your brain think everything really will be alright.



*asking you all on Facebook and Twitter

National School Chaplaincy Program and the letter

On Friday an email came into my inbox from the Principal of Felix’s highschool.

Dear Parents and Carers
Following the incident reported in the media today, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you all that, as always, the safety, care and education of all our students is our highest priority and we have worked closely with the NSW Police to ensure the safety of our students in this matter.
The person who has been arrested was a religious education instructor under the School Chaplaincy Program, for a period of time in 2008 at _________ .
It is important that you know that as soon as we knew of the allegations made about this person, the school with the support of the department, acted immediately in line with departmental policy.

My stomach fell. The ABC reported on the case.

I knew that Felix was not directly affected in that he wasn’t at the school during the time of the incident BUT there are still three years of boys at the school who were.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind:

  1. Those poor poor boy(s) and their family(ies) (I am not sure of the details of the case)

I have always had deep reservations about the program mentioned in the letter – the National School Chaplaincy Program – and this has done nothing to lessen or alleviate those concerns.

The person who has been arrested was a religious education instructor under the School Chaplaincy Program

The program started in 2007 under the Howard government. A good Christian man who oversaw such events as SIEV-X, children overboard and the Tampa Affair all under the banner of “we will decide who comes to this country and how they come here.”  Prior to announcing the program in 2006, John Howard was reported on the ABC saying:

Students need the guidance of chaplains, rather than just counsellors. Yes, I am calling them chaplains because that has a particular connotation in our language, and as you know I’m not ever overwhelmed by political correctness. To call a chaplain a counsellor is to bow to political correctness. Chaplain has a particular connotation, people understand it, they know exactly what I’m talking about.

At the time it was a three-year program which was extended in 2011 and from 2012 will be called the School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program. From 1 January 2012 schools funded under the Program are able to choose the services of a school chaplain to provide pastoral care services and/or select the services of a non faith-based, or secular, student welfare worker. It is at the school’s discretion as to the faith of the chaplain.  The deparment’s website says:

The National School Chaplaincy Program supported schools and their communities to establish school chaplaincy and pastoral care services, or to enhance existing services.

This voluntary program assisted schools and their communities to support the spiritual wellbeing of students. This may have included support and guidance about ethics, values, relationships, spirituality and religious issues, the provision of pastoral care and enhanced engagement with the broader community.

Every year $222million is paid to religious organisations for chaplains to be in our state school system. The Code of Conduct for those school chaplains is a 13 point list, the 12th being:

While recognising that an individual school chaplain/student welfare worker may in good faith express views and articulate values consistent with his or her own beliefs, a school chaplain/student welfare worker must not take advantage of his or her privileged position to proselytise, evangelise or advocate for a particular view or belief.

I liken this to Gina Rinehart signing an editorial independence charter AND adhering to it. Impossible.

I do not doubt for a moment there is a plethora of good people fulfilling these roles in our school system offering all those things outlined above. But it is an absolute deal-breaker for me that those people are there as part of their religious affiliation.

It is just not appropriate for the counselling services in our state education system to be provided by religious institutions. The High Court recently found that it is unconstitutional for the government to be using its money to fund the program. There have been anecdotal reports of chaplains pushing their doctrine on students. What happens to a troubled Muslim or Jewish or Hindu student if their chaplain is not of their denomination and they don’t feel comfortable talking to that person for that reason? And on it goes.

The people employed in this program are not trained, professional teachers nor are they necessarily trained school counsellors. According to DEEWR’s FAQ on minimum requirements, if you become part of the program from 2012, the minimum requirement for a ‘chaplain’ is a Cert IV in Youth Work or Pastoral Care. The Youth Work course requires 15 hours of study a week and a period of time in work placement which can vary from 240 hours to 160.

Following a national consultation process last year, existing chaplains without the minimum qualifications [will be required] to complete two units of the Certificate IV course: Mental Health and Making Referrals. About 500 existing chaplains will have 12 months to complete the units, with the Government meeting the costs. 

I find this part of the guidelines mildly alarming (my bolding):

The Funding Recipient is responsible for determining that the school chaplain/student welfare worker has equivalent qualifications when that worker holds a different qualification but in a related field (e.g. education, psychology, social work, theology etc). The Funding recipient may exercise their own judgement when determining if their chaplain/student welfare worker has qualifications or experience that are equivalent to or exceed the minimum qualification requirements as outlined in Section 5.5 of the Program Guidelines.

What I find brain-spasmingly alarming is this document outlining exemption from the guidelines for schools in remote and regional areas. I totally get the unique challenges that exist for education in our remote and regional centres but this just strikes me as putting kids at risk or in need of help into potentially a whole new level of risk in regards to the possibilities of questionable people gaining access to kids through this program.

Someone offering counselling services to youths in a school setting must be fully qualified school counsellors. That means they are qualified teachers with a degree in psychology and postgraduate qualifications in school counselling. NO LESS. We should NOT be outsourcing this work to third party contractors whose foundation and approach comes from the basis of their religious beliefs.


And meanwhile, a person employed under this scheme sexually assaulted a boy who was attending my son’s school. Could this have happened by a teacher or aide in the school system? Of course. But this person is there to support the spiritual wellbeing of students. This may have included support and guidance about ethics, values, relationships, spirituality and religious issues, the provision of pastoral care and enhanced engagement with the broader community.

This boy has gone to that person for guidance and counselling and instead been groomed for sex by a predator.


What are your thoughts? A good program? A bad one? Misplaced good intention? I am keen to hear of positive stories as well as concerns or examples of otherwise.



Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations National School Chaplaincy Program homepage

National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program documents and guidelines

National School Chaplaincy Association