Monthly Archives: March 2010

Love Your Body Event: Tuesday 20 April

I’m MCing this event for the YWCA in Brisbane on Tuesday 20 April.  Ticket price is just a gold coin donation at the door. Bookings essential. It’ll be a terrific night where stylist Alison Triffett teaches all of us how to dress for our shape. And once you know what suits you, you can find great clothes everywhere – including op shops!   Info below!

The Dog Ate My Homework (… and other excuses)

I know its been a while since I blogged. But I have an excuse (stop rolling your eyes). I moved house. I moved house with a rambunctious dog and a mischievous toddler and a husband who was about to start night-shift.  I hate moving house even though I should be good at it by now. With Brad’s job we’ve moved about four times in the last five years. Anyway … excuses excuses excuses.

So in the time since my last post, FIND YOUR TRIBE (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school) has hit the shops. We had a fabulous launch last week involving two of my tribe: radio host Robin Bailey (97.3FM host and one of the first females whose name led a breakfast radio team) and Frances Whiting (columnist, surfer, bad guitar player, all-round-great-girl). I’ve also been doing a bit of media. Lots of radio interviews.  Filmed a fantastic, hilarious story with Sofie Formica from the Great South East last week (air date to be confirmed). I’m doing some newspaper stuff (stay tuned) and I’ll be doing some book store appearances. I’ll post those dates when I get hold of ’em.

Most of all I’ve received a wonderful response to Find Your Tribe – which means more to me than anything else. Lots of reader emails which I love to get even if it takes me a while to reply.

Phone is ringing. Ava is crying. Better go. Will post more appearance info when it comes to hand.

Sunday Mail column for Sunday 14 March: FIND YOUR TRIBE

It’s been a disturbing month. Every time I turn around there’s yet another horror story. Bullying that results in a school stabbing.  A young girl abducted from her bed and murdered by a family friend. The dangers of on-line paedophiles. And then those ongoing reports on teen binge drinking, body image issues, obesity and promiscuity in kids as young as twelve.

I used to think that high school today was no harder than when I was at school. I don’t think that anymore. I think our teenagers are struggling as much as their parents to navigate their way through.

Over the past three years I’ve received dozens of emails from teenage girls. Many just write to say hello. But others email asking for advice.  Meg* wrote about the panic attacks she’d started to suffer before going into exams. Brigid* would pen me hilarious letters during her stay in a health clinic as she dealt with an eating disorder. Shelly* wrote to tell me about the girls in her year 8 class who had started sending naked images of themselves to boys.

It was International Women’s Day on Monday. In the past I’ve written columns full of lessons I want our young women to know for the future. But today I’m going to share with you what I think they need to know NOW to survive those joyful but sometimes brutal high school years.

In a nutshell, you need to find your tribe.  In my opinion, the major factor that determines the quality of your high school experience is who you choose to hang around.  Your friends.  Forget about the cool group. You need to find your tribe. Your tribe are those people who get you. They get your sense of humour, have similar values and interests to you and are genuine friends who care about you and want what’s best for you. Sounds obvious but you need to avoid those so-called friends who slag you off the moment your back is turned, who routinely belittle you or pressure you to do stuff or be someone you’re not.  If you find your tribe – even if it’s just one true friend – you have an instant support system at school and you’ll cope much better with whatever high school throws your way.

My new book Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school) lists my other nine tips for enjoying your teenage years. They include the importance of bouncing back from disappointment, understanding that not even Miranda Kerr always looks like Miranda Kerr, learning to trust your gut instinct (even when that bad vibe is from a family friend), the value in giving back, the truth that success in life has little to do with your OP score, the risks associated with binge drinking and navigating first love (including the dangers of online romances).

But the biggest lesson is choosing the right friends to hang around. Find your tribe at school and you’re off to a good start.

Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 7 March: Helping orphans in Thailand

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time to donate $10 to a worthy cause. So far hundreds of Sunday Mail readers – working as a group – have put books into the hands of young girls in Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan and paid for more bedding to ease the plight of Australia’s homeless. So what is the First Sunday Club aiming to do this month?

We’re helping orphans in Thailand.

Few of us will forget watching the horror of the Boxing Day Tsunami unfold on our TV screens in 2004. The destruction of the environment and human life was hard to comprehend.

Peter Baines was working in Forensics with the NSW police force when the Tsunami hit and was part of the team despatched to Thailand to help identify bodies.  Once there, Peter was confronted with the shocking reality that vast numbers of Thai children had not only lost both their parents but also their extended families. With their homes and villages also completely destroyed countless small children were living in tents, left to fend for themselves.  So Peter, together with UK policewoman Gil Williams, set up a charity – Hands Across The Water (Hands).

To date, Hands has built two orphanages and a community sports field in the badly damaged Baan Nam Khem region of Phuket. They’ve purchased trucks, cars and motorbikes so the kids can get to school, are running sponsorship and scholarship programs to fund the kids’ education and fund a full time nurse who works at the orphanages.

In a significant step towards self-sustainability Hands has also recently established a rubber plantation and fish farm that, once mature, will generate an income for many years to come.

In 2010 Hands will build a medical and community centre at a cost of over AUD $1 million.

My good friend Bobby Cox, Marketing Manager of Ideal Electrical, recently completed an 800km bide ride through Thailand to raise money for Hands. Just five weeks ago, Bobby was standing in the Hands orphanages, seeing for himself what the charity was providing.

“The orphanages are beautiful places that give the kids all the love and care they need,” Bobby tells me.  “All the kids are enrolled in school – a good education is vital because it enables them to take care of themselves and become leaders of their community.”

According to Bobby, just ten dollars will pay for twelve weeks of school for each child.

Every cent donated goes directly to improving the lives of the children

at the orphanages. Not one cent is spent on administration and there are

no political or religious ties. Any costs incurred in running the

charity are personally absorbed by Peter and other board members.

So it’s time to hand over your moula. Go to www.handsacrossthewater.com.au and click the donate button. Or send a cheque to “Hands Across The Water”,  PO Box 4337, Castlecrag NSW 2068.

Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 28 February 2010

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  I wanted to be the blonde woman out of ABBA, an actress, a teacher, Mrs Donny Osmond, Mrs Vinnie Del Tito and Jaclyn Smith in Charlie’s Angels. I was pretty serious about the Charlie’s Angels gig to the point I spent much of my childhood in Chapel Hill running around our garden armed with a supersoaker, wearing swimmers and mum’s cork platform heels. (You’ll be relieved to know I arrested our dog Mac about 834 times).

Notice that “author” doesn’t get a mention in my list. I think that’s because when I was growing up in the 70s writers were as scarce in Brisbane as a decent coffee. I didn’t actually met a writer until I was twenty and went to the launch of one of David McRobbie’s books. Today things are different.  Primary school kids have often met authors like Morris Gleitzman and Jacki French numerous times.  High school kids have done writing camps with Markus Zusak and James Roy and Kim Wilkins.  Writers are accessible and writing is suddenly seen as a legitimate career choice.

That said, I recommend students initially aim to be full time writers rather than full time novelists.  The former is easier to achieve and is less likely to have your parents going into complete meltdown.  (The average first time writer sells about 3000 copies of their novel which often earns them not much more than $6000. Try selling that career to your dad.).  But life as a full time writer? That’s definitely do-able.

Just a few weeks ago I was at a school reminding the students that if you can write, you have a talent which most of the population do not possess. If you can write you can work for newspapers and magazines, you can write advertising copy for TV commercials and radio ads and print ads. You can write newsletters, speeches, brochures, website content, instruction manuals, computer games, TV scripts, film scripts and, of course, books.

Add the fact you can work for yourself, from home in your pyjamas and it makes for a pretty great career.  Look at me. I’ve been a travel writer and a television publicist. I’ve written radio and TV commercials, feature articles, magazine columns, websites, brochures, speeches, newsletters, books and just last year, I wrote some TV scripts.

When Di Fitzgerald, Executive Producer of kids TV show, The Shak, invited me to pen a few episodes of her popular kids TV show, I jumped at the chance. I’d always wanted to work in children’s TV and it was a bit of a dream come true.

My episodes are on this week, if you’re keen to check them out. Meanwhile I’m launching my new book “Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school)” on Tuesday 9 March at 6.15pm at Mary Ryan’s Milton. Ring the store if you’d like to come along!