The Time Flies…….

Time is flying since I finished my contract with Lifeline Top End a couple of week ago. Nice little send off from the Board which also gave me a chance to say goodbye to some of key people who have been so supportive and I know I will continue to be in touch with no matter where life leads.

Farewell from Lifeline Top End
Farewell – Card and Flowers – Lifeline Top End

It has since been a whirlwind round of organising my affairs in Australia to run smoothly (I hope!) while I am gone. Plumber to fix leaking taps, glazier to replace a couple of cracked window panes, suspending Medibank Private payments for period I am away (did you know you can suspend for up to 4 years?), organize banking, insurances, rates, taxes etc – all boring necessities!.

On the fun side has been last moment dragon boat sweep training, meeting up to farewell old friends – mad rush to fit everyone in but I’m making a good job of having breakfast, lunch and dinner with different people! Might resemble a barrel before I even get started on all the vino, cheese and pastries in Europe.

Final English class last Monday for my fantastic students at Melaleuca Refugee Centre – sad to say farewell to these amazing people and my fellow tutors who all give so generously of their time.

Looking at range of TESOL jobs on offer in Europe – not yet decided how long I plan to stay – my assessor has spent a year working in Milan so she was full of helpful tips and hints too. There have been couple of interesting offers in Australia but not enough to tempt me to sign on the dotted line and pledge a return date.

Three days to go and I’ll be on my way. Stay in touch with my adventures through this blog.




It’s National Volunteers Week here in Australia so I’d like to take a moment to give a public thank you & SHOUT OUT to all the fabulous volunteers around Australia.

Fabulous Volunteers
Maureen & Daryl Manzie, Michelle Hanton, Marco Montenuovo and partner Lara Riva, Peter & Helen Hazelman

People volunteer because they have a passion and last night I was able to attend the NT Volunteer of the Year Awards with our 2 fabulous nominees (Marco & Peter) and their partners.

Partners and family play a pivotal role in allowing an individual to be able to volunteer – so thanks also to all of them.

At Lifeline, where I am currently working, we could not exist without the selflessness and generosity of our volunteers who sort in the shop, drive the truck, answer the 13 11 14 crisis support calls and take on so many other roles.

I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many volunteers during the course of my career to date. Oxfam, St John Ambulance Brigade, NT Breast Cancer Voice, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Dragons Abreast, Dragon Boat Northern Territory, AusDBF, Melaleuca Refugee Centre and Lifeline are the main ones to date.  I have learnt so much by working with these amazing people.

Individuals do not volunteer expecting recognition but it’s always nice to be able to say ‘thank you’ in a public way and National Volunteers week is a great opportunity to do so.

Volunteers everywhere – I salute you!


Bernard Tomic Booed…Is it un-Australian? by Maria Paterakis

Fulfill DreamsOn Tuesday night (14 Jan), a young Australian, only 21 years old, stood in front of Australia and the world’s media to face tennis’ world number one, Rafael Nadal.  Now we know that Bernard Tomic does not always make headlines for the right reasons, but that’s outside the court.  Many great tennis players have also made names for themselves off court, such as Agassi, McEnroe and Becker.  However, like them, when Tomic is on the tennis court he is living his passion, something that many of us do not have the courage to do in life. 

I didn’t get to see the match, but I was saddened when I read:

“The 21-year-old drew boos and jeers when he retired with a groin injury a set down to Nadal in their first-round match.” [1]

I thought to myself, that’s un-Australian.  No sports person makes that kind of decision lightly.  I started to wonder, is the cost of a ticket and the spectators need for entertainment more important than the health and wellbeing of our young sports people?

Here is a young man who has worked hard to stand on that court.  He has made sacrifices to be there and he has also been braver than most of us.  Every time he gets on that court he is vulnerable to the scrutiny of everyone.  Australians booing and jeering – why should young people strive for greatness in this country if that’s what they get in return?

I have a greater respect for Tomic after this incident.  He has shown maturity and most of all, the capacity for resilience.  He is a young man who:

·         has a positive view of himself and his confident about his strengths and abilities

·         is constantly moving towards his goals

·         knew how far to push his limits, and when to step out for his own safety and self-care

·         has a strong support network around him and

·         has a hopeful outlook on life.

I applaud Bernard Tomic and wish him well in his career.  He is living his dream.  As for those who booed and jeered, I hope that on reflection, applauding him would have been a better choice.  Are you living your dream too?

The Power of Words by Sasha Hanton

Far reaching words

Words.  There are so many types and synonyms. The choice of one word in place of another can completely change the meaning of a sentence or paragraph. It can also change the interpretation and effect.

Lots of people these days are reckless with their use of offensive words or use swear words for novelty. There are many words that have been used or are viewed in a negative light. There are words which have had their meanings twisted and changed.

Words can be freeing or constrictive.  If all your life people have put you down or you have used self-depreciating language you may feel stuck. Changing the words you use can be amazingly weight lifting and freeing, it helps change your outlook on life.

Some words can even be life changing – like Psychosomatic  which basically means “it’s all in your mind”.  Since I learnt the word Psychosomatic I’ve applied it to some particularly painful times, so for example when I get period pain I make a point of telling myself “it doesn’t hurt”, I repeat it as a mantra and you know what it helps.

This is why it is so important to watch what we say, to be careful with what we write. Today many people post things to Facebook or any other number of other social communication websites without thinking about the impact of their words and just how permanent it is. Most individuals don’t even realise just how great our propensity is to retain the negative.  It’s always easier to think of everything that’s gone wrong rather than what is going right.

With that I’d like to end with a little warning, consider what you’re saying and think about it (is it harmful?). And for those struggling through hard times, try to embrace using positive language – it won’t fix everything but it might make it a little easier to bear.

In Australia Lifeline is available 24/7 on 13 11 14 for those in crisis

Another New Year by Maria Paterakis

It’s that time of year for setting your New Year’s resolutions. If 2014 is like other years, after a few hours, days, weeks (depending on how it works for you) you promptly forget you even made any resolutions. Not only that, but you just made the same resolution 3 years in a row, so why is it going to be any different this time?
Most of us start our New Year filled with hope that it will be better than the year before. There is no intention to fail at our resolutions or anything else we try to achieve during our year. Chances are you probably have had a few wins in 2013. In fact if you take a moment to reflect on last year you would probably be able to think of several achievements you are proud of. I encourage you to think about what went well, what you learnt, what you might do differently, and what experiences you are grateful for. Being able to do this is one of the skills of resilience.

Here are some characteristics of resilience that may help you with preparing to identify your new year’s resolutions :
1. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of a struggle.
2. Move toward your goals. Ask yourself every day, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
3. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
4. Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
5. Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Seeking additional support from a professional when required is also an important part of making connection.
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2014, be kind to yourself. Things won’t always go to plan, and sometimes you might fall off the wagon, so treat yourself with the same kindness you would treat a good friend. If your New Year’s resolutions are a re-occurring theme for you, consider seeking additional help. Being kind to ourselves and caring for ourselves is one of the biggest changes we can make towards success and making 2014 different.

Looking back and looking forward

I started this piece at the end of December as I reflected back over the year and as we approach the end of the first month of 2013, I finally have got around to popping it on my blog! 2012 was an amazing year which took me all over the place, not to mention well out of my comfort zone but it was always a great new learning experience – I cannot believe it flew past so fast. Grandma Lucy was right, time does go so much faster as you get older. I remember her with great fondness – seems like only a few years ago we were all watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in her little sitting room in Green Hammerton. How much the world has changed since then! That fuzzy black and white image on the TV was considered very high tech – now we have instant access to just about everything – and it’s not that many years really!

The world is changing so fast and so is my life but I have been very fortunate in 2012 and although there have been difficult times I choose to focus on the highlights instead. The Year of the Dragon was packed with land mark occasions and events which included Sasha’s 18th birthday and flying the nest to move to Bond University, Wayne’s move to Melbourne, my role as campaign manager for Katrina Fong Lim in her (highly successful) bid to become Darwin’s Lord Mayor, the AusDBF National Championships at Docklands – a memorable affair for all the wrong reasons, my first trip to Bali which I enjoyed courtesy of winning the prize at the Government House Ball the previous year, with my good friends Denise Lynn and Bonita Fong, my taking up Italian lessons, working with TESOL students, Yvonne’s 50th birthday and my contract at Lifeline Top End.

One of the things I am looking forward to most in 2013 is the chance to walk 100km of the Camino – it has been on my radar for a few years now and this is the year it will happen!  I am not a Catholic but have had quite an exposure to the various religions through a childhood spent in many different countries, making life-long friends with those of differing faiths and of course one of those locations was the ‘Holy Land’  Jerusalem so it will be interesting to see another other side of this faith. It will also be a great holiday that involves exercise as well as an opportunity to see the countryside at a leisurely pace (no boot camp foot-slogging for me!) and the luxury of being able to meander not just physically but allowing my mind to wander wherever it might take me; generally an opportunity for prolific new ideas to pop into my head.

It’s by having this kind of break to look forward to that I am able to better cope with the challenges that I face on a regular basis – we all need ‘me time’ and the fact that I will be sharing this time with other Dragon Sisters – some of whom have become good friends over the years – makes it all the more enjoyable. A perfect balance of work and pleasure.