One of those moments that has had seemed like a happy coincidence, but was maybe more than that, which has had a big impact on my life, was when I was looking for rental space over two years ago. For a number of years, I knew that I wanted my own therapy offices, so that my business would get to know my name and to have it set up exactly how I wanted it to. I was chatting with a friend who would also end up using the office space with me a few days of week as a location for her role, and she mentioned another business owner that she knew well, that was also looking for a bigger premises. This person I actually knew as I had been at the same school about 7 years before (her as a teacher, me as the school psychologist) and our sisters were actually close friends. So although our paths had not crossed much in the years prior, we began to chat about buildings and that if she was looking for a tenant, I would be keen. What transpired was that we began to look at buildings together and as we talked it seemed that our ideas about what we wanted was quite similar and that our businesses could work well in the same space. Following on from that, within a few months we had secured a building for a and at the end of 2018 Side by Side Psychology had it’s first actual home and Bright Futures Mildura obtained a bigger premises a few doors down from where it had been. The past two years has seen times of enormous growth, fun, challenges and excitement as we have enjoyed working alongside one another and also created a partnership named Bright Side Learning and Therapy which we run our groups and collaborative projects out of. The business ideas, support and friendship that has emerged has been wonderful and not something that I was looking for nor envisaged when I was looking for a building to lease! Sometimes life has a way of putting opportunities and amazing things in front of you and it’s important to take them and see where it might lead!
If I could not be a psychologist in the way that I am, what would I be doing instead? I had thought in previous times, that if I couldn’t be in my private practice and could not be creating the online programs that I’m currently doing, I could still work in another setting. However when I’ve thought of returning into an organisation like a mental health service or school- jus so I could just work for someone else without the responsibility of running my own business, whilst I would still get to be seeing clients, which I love to do, it’s not a work environment that would be a preferred alternative. Thinking more broadly, I used to love art creation and I still enjoy this as a hobby, so maybe creating children’s books or illustrations could be fun, or even writing books might be something I could enjoy. Or, I love cats and kittens, could I be a cat breeder?! No, Probably not. Because when I’m pushed to think of what I can see myself doing if I didn’t do what I do, I really can’t see myself doing things much more different from what I am already doing. I’m currently creating the opportunities to reach more people by moving into an online space, and in the future I’d love to do more presentations and maybe begin a podcast so I can talk with other people that are interested in doing the kind of work that I do. My dream career is really being able to help as many people as I can-but all in all, I would be continuing the work that I’m already doing.
What about for you? Do you have a dream career alternative that you could see yourself doing?
The discussion about lies and white lies is an interesting one to have, particularly with children as the enter into middle to late primary school and especially into the teen years. Lying can be simultaneously be viewed as both an antisocial and a socially appropriate behaviour.
Telling the truth is generally viewed as a positive behaviour, that enhances trust in one another. However as relationships begin to be more complicated, the notion of a white lie or learning to omit certain truths emerges as an additional positive social behaviour.
This is a topic that frequently arises in my work with children and teens on the Spectrum, because telling white lies, which are lies that are told with the intention to preserve the feelings of others, ventures into the ‘grey’ zone of what can be considered ‘good’ social behaviour, whilst also being a lie, which is considered a ‘bad’ social behaviour.
Telling a white lie and learning to understand why they are considered socially acceptable, means understanding that social relationship rules are not absolute or black and white. That telling white lies means we have developed flexible thinking about another person and have and tried to make guesses about how the truth versus the lie will be viewed.
There are many instances that white lies are told, however if you have a child on the Spectrum and they are confused by the apparent contradiction that happens around lying, it might be important to learn about the values that many neurotypicals have, which is valuing the relationship connection over absolute truth and honesty. Learning about these differences can be helpful in navigating the complexities of lies and white lies and their specific differences.
Certainly the white lies that have been told in our family include the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy! And whilst I think my children are gradually learning to understand that these have been told to preserve the magic of childhood, I have seen the other side in my work children, the distress that finding out that they have been ‘lied’ to for years and the process of trying to understand this contradiction. So while this may not mean you don’t every utilise a white lie, in your household it is worthwhile considering whether it is something that your child understands yet.
Living where I do, although not a desert, it can sometimes feel like it, with the dryness and heat we experience, so I am certainly drawn to the humidity and greenery of the rainforest, because it is such a contrast. The picture I’ve shown here is a trip that we did in 2014 to Daydream Island, Queensland where we got to explore on foot as well as zip-lining through the tree tops, which was just beautiful. I love the sounds of the rainforest, the warmth in the air and just the vibrancy of the colours is amazing. And though I enjoy visiting our own mini-desert -those of our Perry Sandhills just outside of Wentworth, I was super-impressed by some even bigger dunes we discovered on our last trip to Queensland. We visited Moreton
Island which is mostly just flat beaches and dolphins, but to our surprise, it has massive sand dunes in it’s centre, which we all got to slide down. But apart from being able to admire the sheer expanse of this kind of landscape, it’s not all that particularly enjoyable to be in it for too long, as it’s exposing, sandy and so hot. So if I had to choose where I got to spend more time, the rainforest or the desert, the rainforest would definitely be my preference. And I don’t even care that my hair becomes a frizzy curly mess when we are in the tropics! In fact, am feeling excited about the possibility that we may be able to book some trips outside our state very soon!
Donate to causes such as Light up the Night-Lukemia Foundation as it has affected those who are close to me. I’ve also supported RCH Butterfly House, which is the intensive care wing in the Royal Children’s Hospital, where my nephew was born and care for across his 45 days of living with us. I also like to give to a charity called Rio’s Legacy which raises money for hospices which is a home for terminally ill children and their families to live.
Currently there is only two in Australia and they aim to raise money to have one in each state. This hits home because of how important this can be at end of life and I personally know the parents that set this up in Sydney. And in my family’s case when my nephew was at the end of his life, we were fortunate that there they had a home in Melbourne they could live in for the last few days just to not be in a hospital environment and allow my sister and brother-in-law to be with their son, give him a bath and get some beautiful photos of the twins together. Most other families are unable to have that experience as there is no such hospice in Melbourne and most of the other states.
I’ve also recently become aware of and supported efforts for Making Waves for PCD-for awareness and equipment for PCD-a rare lung and respiratory disease that affects two local familes.
Causes that affect people that I know personally .
Sponsored a child for years, which in effect is a donation to the projects in a particular area-World Vision. Giving is the best forms of happiness creation, without expectation of getting anything back except good feels!
To pick one love of my life seems so absolute, and I’m a person that generally embraces all the shades of grey. But if I have to state something that is absolutely, unequivocally the love of my life. It would be my children. When I was a young woman, it was very clear to me that I had a strong desire to be a mother, and that when I became a parent, I was going to do whatever it took to become the best mother I could be. This has meant sacrifice and it has meant having a commitment to always learning, always trying to be better. But I have to say, with three daughters -one a teenager, one a tween and one that is eight, most days I feel it’s working out fairly well. That’s not so say there are not days when I want to yell (WT actual F?!), but most of the time I hold those thoughts inside, take a deep breath and remember how amazing they are much of the time! I remember that they are growing up to be their own person, learning about friendship and love themselves. And that no matter what mistakes they make, no matter how old they become, I will always love them. And I hope that they carry this love inside them throughout their own life, like I do from my own parents. My love for my children also carries through to the values that follow me into my work with the kids and teens that I work with-in that I really believe that all children deserve that kind of unwavering belief in them. And that if they have this conviction that they are loved for just being themselves through and through, then there is nothing that they cannot get through, there is nothing that is so bad that they can’t share it and nothing that you cannot accomplish with the support of your family and those that care about you. It’s that conviction that allows me to provide acceptance, empathy and support in all that I do. And from this very safe space, it can allow them to feel understood and able to form a connection and relationship, upon which lots of great self development and new skills and accomplishments can be built. So the the loves of my life (my girls), allow me to feel filled with a joy, that flows my cup over, to allows me to easily work with other young people in a truly caring and compassionate way.
Something that people may not know about me, is that I grew up, one of six children on a fruit-block in RedCliffs, Victoria. My parents moved there when my mum was pregnant with me.
I loved living on the block, we had lots of cats, kittens, dogs and would you believe it, a cow called Jenny. My parents would milk her daily and we would have her milk for our cereal and my mum would then make it into yogurt and other things. It seems like a strange family pet to have now, however, Jenny was really another member of the family.
My sisters and brothers and I, grew up climbing trees, exploring the block and eating way too many grapes and other fruit off the trees during picking season and swimming in the channel that ran through our block. When I think of this now with it’s muddy water and sludge on the bottom, it’s hard to believe we swam in it, but we used to love it! So we had a simple life, with lots of space, lots of freedom just to play and I think this has cultivated my appreciation for simple things in lifeand it has definitely influenced my love of having pets as family members!
It also makes me realise that happiness can be found in the simplest of lifestyles, without need for much, other than space and a playmate or two-which I was lucky to have!
And whilst having a simple life is not as easy to provide for my children these days as there are may more demands and expectations placed on them both within and outside the home, I know that they are definitely happiest when they are exploring, being creative and making their own fun without too much interference from the adults!