Portfolio + praise
Trusting your wordsmith to maintain your vision through every step from plan to presentation is paramount.
Here you’ll find words of praise from clients as well as samples of my work.
You’ll notice writing and testimonials attributed to me under my birth name/legal name [Claudette] and pseudonym [Assisi], but fear not, they are all me [see my About page for more info].
Contact Me to find out how.
Claudette Chant and I met nearly ten years ago at a Conference. Even then I was drawn to her warmth and compassion and, knowing her skills as an Editor, she was my first choice when I needed someone to proof and edit my book.
As well as her practical editing skills, what really drew me to Claudette was her passion to infuse my words with greater meaning and depth, so that they connected even more thoughtfully with my audience. Claudette’s ability to use her intuition to connect with my message and audience, and to mold my manuscript into a polished piece ready for publication, was the best investment I’ve made.
Claudette kept me informed throughout the entire editing process, including when she would be starting on my manuscript and an estimated completion date, and was happy to hear my thoughts when it came to the proofing/editing drafts she sent me. Claudette also managed the formatting process for online book stores, including Amazon Kindle and iBooks, which made this process so much easier for me.
I have no hesitation in recommending CC to authors needing editing work done to strengthen and enhance their overall message. She was so lovely to work with and I was extremely happy with the finished product.
As an author it is of utmost importance that the editor of my work would streamline the text whilst
maintaining the original voice and integrity of the work in its entirety. Upon first consultation with Claudette it became clear that she was a professional in her field and passionate about working with her clients to achieve the best outcome.
Claudette is gifted with a profound ability to align herself with the vision of an author and articulate in words what is otherwise thoughts and images upon the mind of her client.
With such professional and passionate editorial input from Claudette I am pleased to say my manuscript was successfully taken under contract with Westbow Press Publishing in the United States.
I have no hesitation in utilising Claudette as editor for any future work that presents itself in my writing career, she works with integrity and honour in all editorial work she puts her hand to and I wish her well in pursuit of what is clearly a gift and call upon her life.
working with assisi was one of the best choices i made as i published my book. i have a very unique style to my writing (including the unusual quality of not using any capitalization when i write) and my “voice” is well known to my audience, so i was a bit nervous about hiring an editor.
i absolutely wanted my book to be the absolute best it could be – clear, concise, clever, and of course error free – however, it was extremely important to me that my voice and my style be maintained… not somehow lost or overly “cleaned up” in the editing process.
assisi immediately put me at ease – she did not judge nor question my unique style, plus she had taken the time to become familiar with my work and my audience, so i really felt complete trust in her as i handed over my manuscript.
she did not disappoint! not only did she edit my book beautifully – with my voice and my style intact – but she even noted areas that i could expand on my work and make an even bigger impact with my words.
i truly feel that i got so much more than an editor when i decided to work with assisi, i got a true champion for my book and my message.
I engaged CC to help me with the writing and editing of my first book. I had no writing experience and she came highly recommended by a mutual acquaintance.
To say I am happy with the outcome of our work together is a massive understatement, I find it hard to express how grateful I am to have met CC and that she was happy to work with me and share the same vision and passion for my projects.
CC has a way of making everything sound great, she took my words and recordings and turned them into next level, relatable story telling. She has a way of making sense of all the words and ideas floating around in my head.
She is gifted with the ability to be extraordinary at what she does, is committed, available and reliable. We were always in communication throughout the entire time that we worked together and as the project evolved CC was more than willing to accommodate changes (and changes in direction) that were of great benefit to the outcome.
I have never worked with someone that has just got me, got my work and my message so wholly.
It was a pleasure and refreshing to work with someone so professional and excellent at what they do but was also very intuitive in guiding the development of the book from concept stage to completed product.
I am proud to put my name to the work we produced together and am forever grateful to CC for helping me get the book out of my head and onto paper.
I have absolutely loved collaborating with Claudette. She really listened and understood my needs. By asking all the right questions, Claudette was able to turn my collection of ideas into a structure that I could work with and that kept me on track the whole time. Finding this direction early on was essential to the success of my project and I’m grateful for the open communication that made it possible.
Her trust in me and enthusiasm for my work gave me the confidence to keep going when things got tough and enabled me to produce a resource that really serves my audience.
The most important outcome of my work with Claudette is the heart and soul she gave to my book. She was able to stand in the shoes of my readers, to know exactly what they wanted and how they’d best receive it, and then she presented a perfectly polished version of exactly what I had been trying to say.
Bravo CC. I can’t wait to work with you again.
Thank you Assisi, superstar author + editor.
I’m so delighted to have worked with you on this project. You’ve intuitively made our words SPARK from the page without losing their meaning.
Your support is always so appreciated xx
Claudette was instrumental in researching and developing an instructional training program that JCB Construction Equipment Australia required to provide a consistent, successful procedure for dealing with dispute resolution in customer service.
This program has been a complete success and has now been implemented nationally.
Claudette has the ability to deeply understand the needs of her client and produce an outstanding end result.
I have employed Claudette on a number of occasions to write on behalf of my clients. Her work is always submitted error-free, is concise and on-brief, and submitted on time.
Above all, CC is able to ‘get into my head’ and knows what I need without the need for endless discussion – a valuable gift in this time poor world!
Thank you Assisi, you did a great job with our words!
Fantastic job editing Assisi. You make me sound super smart!
Assisi, thank you for pulling it all together. You did a wonderful job and I am grateful for this fun project.
I feel so utterly grateful for you doing everything behind the scenes, it is a great gift to the world.
Thanks for everything you did to pull this off.
mwah mwah mwah xxx
Thanks Assisi for your patience and commitment.
I couldn’t have pulled this off without you!
Click the titles below for samples of my published writing
VIPASSANA: AN INTRODUCTION TO SILENCE
I have a deep love of and curiosity for the world I inhabit and am fascinated with the nature of reality that each of us experiences. This drive led me recently to Vipassana. Vipassana is a ten-day silent meditation retreat run at Dhamma Rasmi, a specialist meditation Centre (as well as in many other centres all over the world). My acceptance into this course allowed me to take a bit of a sabbatical away from the farm and contemplate the other things growing in my life.
So, you might be new to mediation (and possibly even to silence!), and the thought of spending ten days without speaking might seem a little daunting, but I have to say it is actually very achievable. The silence essentially makes the whole process easier as it removes everyday distractions and allows you to turn your focus on what is within. And if it helps, you really only spend nine of your days at the centre in silence.
The tenth day is dedicated to sharing your experiences with other participants and acts as something of a “shock absorber” before your return to the ‘real world’.
You are also able to ask questions of the course instructor and at the end of each night you can sit in on a general Q&A session to gain clarification about your experience and the technique. There is also a manager you can speak to about practical issues like needing a blanket or unblocking a toilet.
Ok, so that’s the silent bit sorted, what about the mediation? Although being one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation (which was rediscovered by Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago), this course provides a non-sectarian method by which you fully experience the ever-changing nature of life, in all its forms.
It is easy to dismiss the effectiveness of this practice because it is essentially such a simple process. Throughout the ten days you progress from concentrating on your natural breath flowing in and out of your nose in its own rhythm to feeling the subtlest of sensations on your body. Although this sounds like an incredibly simple task, developing this specific, single-pointed awareness can be challenging for many participants.
Along with these particular techniques the course also delivers personal anecdotes that foster a deep understanding of the impermanent nature of existence and how this knowledge can be translated into all areas of your life.
The literal translation of the word Vipassana means to see things as they are, and through participation, meditators are able to gain personal comprehension of exactly what that means.
By embedding this practice into my life I have noticed that I can quite quickly recognise the attachments I have to my thoughts, feelings and beliefs and now have a very reliable way of releasing these bonds on a daily, if not moment-by-moment basis.
For those of us searching for simplicity, change or betterment, a Vipassana course offers opportunities for self-transformation through self-observation – no hype, no fuss, no special tools, nothing but your breath and your body.
The International Vipassana website (www.dhamma.org) states that it is this “observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion”. And yes, that is the eventual aim. A balanced mind full of love and compassion, with the added bonus of full liberation and enlightenment, if that’s your life’s goal.
I would have to say that because of my exploration into quantum physics and alternative sciences, my experience of Vipassana was extremely deep and rewarding. I underwent journeys on both the physical and mental planes unlike anything I have ever known and my mind was opened to many, many ‘dot-joining’ understandings of our universe and my experiences of it.
I’d highly recommend the 10-day retreat, however if life is a little too full to clear your schedule for that long, then I’d definitely be taking advantage of 10 minutes here and there to sit in silence [without the stimulation of a digital device] and reap the rewards of some dedicated quiet time.
Adapted from an article published in the Eumundi Green – Issue 181
IS THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN DREAM MORE ACHIEVABLE SINCE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC?
Of the many ‘new normals’ in a post-Covid world, working remotely definitely seems to be one of the more positive. Many city dwellers have found that they can achieve even more than just the ‘Great Australian Dream’ of buying their own home, by moving to regional Australia and enjoying their very own Country Change.
It’s now easier than ever to satisfy both lifestyle and career ambitions in one go. Regional real estate can be bought for a fraction of city prices, with REA Insights declaring an accelerated interest in this property market. Continuing, or pivoting, a career remotely has also proven practicable, thanks to COVID-inspired experimentation. Since the pandemic, opportunities to work online have skyrocketed and this has allowed more people than ever to pursue careers that are location independent.
Why move from the city?
For new Henty couple, Ben and Izu Hooper, Sydney living just didn’t make sense. Although they approached it with commitment and optimism, the day-to-day living expenses, traffic, and crowds soon started to take their toll. “I wanted space and to purchase a home which wouldn’t put such a financial strain on us,” Ben reflected, “I wanted a place I could pay off in five or ten years,” he added. Unsurprisingly, this was not a goal the couple could achieve in the city, so they began to look further afield.
Fulfilling housing dreams in Greater Hume
Identifying both Albury and Wagga Wagga as growing centres, the pair decided that somewhere halfway between them would be most suitable as each location was very accessible. A quick look at a map shows Henty in just such a location along the A41/Mid-Western Highway. And the Greater Hume Shire allowed their real estate dollar to go a lot further than it ever would have in Northwest Sydney.
Recent data by PRD Research has proven that the Hooper’s foresight and planning were spot-on. Recently naming Greater Hume as one of the Top 10 Affordable Regional Areas in 2021 in its Stand Out Regions report. Deeming the Shire “to be affordable, with solid fundamentals for sustainable future growth.”
TOOMEY FAMILY LAW WEBSITE COPY
Family Law Mediation & Property Settlements
Toomey Family Law is a boutique practice that works with you to build holistic solutions for your future.
Rather than spreading ourselves across a wide breadth of legal services, we concentrate on marital and relationship cases with complex estate mediation and property settlements at their heart. This tailored specialisation ensures you get explicit expertise and the highest attention to detail in the planning and construction of your claim.
Complicated disputes often cost far more than just money. Toomey Family Law works closely with you to find optimal solutions that avoid the time, financial and emotional costs often associated with technical and lengthy court proceedings. We firmly believe that relationships need not end in a fight.
LEISA TOOMEY – DIRECTOR
Leisa Toomey is a voice of authority in Family Law, providing high-quality one-on-one service to each of her valued clients. Admitted as a Solicitor in 1998, she became a Qld Law Society Accredited Family Law Specialist in 2003, has been a Qld Law Society Mediator since 2004, and an Independent Children’s Lawyer since 2005.
Leisa also holds memberships with Qld Law Society, Sunshine Coast Law Association, Law Council of Australia, Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia (FLS), Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland, and Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network.
A partner at Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers from 2000 to 2014, Leisa stayed on at the firm as Head of the Qld Family Law Department, following its sale to Slater & Gordon. In December 2016 she began a three-year break, before being called back to this dynamic and purposeful arena.
Her desire to help clients by designing clear blueprints for solutions to complex family and high-value property settlements encouraged her to start Toomey Family Law in February 2020. Uniting a dedicated team committed to providing empathetic and pragmatic results, has allowed the firm to provide personalised, trusted advice and timely action that enables clients to focus on positively building their futures.
Using a unique, tailored methodology, Toomey Family Law brings practical advice together with a simple, holistic and compassionate approach that minimises delays and overwhelm and maximises desired outcomes.
If you or your clients are looking for guidance to inform and empower your future, let Leisa share her expertise and leadership in Family Law to save you time, money and emotional resources.
Toomey Family Law believes we can help change the impacts that divorce, separation and settlements have on individuals and families. We keep our clients front-of-mind and measure our actions through thorough case management protocols. We are accountable to our Firm’s Values and our actions and outcomes represent this.
Toomey Family Law is focused on driving change from the front. We understand who our clients are and we put the needs, desires and wants they hold for their future, at the centre, at all times.
We don’t steamroll with an agenda or incite unnecessary fights. We guide clients to choose their battles, manage expectations and help remove the toxicity that can delay cases, and ultimately overwhelm all involved.
EASING STRESS AND OVERWHELM - DIY COURSE: PART 1 OF 6
MEETING OUR BASIC NEEDS
Most of us can easily list a few things we currently ‘want’ in our lives. Generally speaking, this is quite a conscious process. We’re in a situation that is lacking something, and we ‘want’ the thing to solve it.
Our needs in action
It could be something particularly simple and obvious; I have a report to present to investors and I ‘want’ a protective folder, so it doesn’t get creased.
It would be easy to look at this as a very straightforward situation (and if that was the only reason a protective folder was desired, then it would be very straightforward). However, quite often, what is desired isn’t just a protective folder. It’s a professional looking folder that will let the board members know that you are serious and competent and deserve to receive their funding.
Hidden deeper within that conscious desire for a nice folder could be an unconscious yearning for:
- acceptance (I want the investors to see I’m as good as them)
- significance (I want my work to be of value to others)
- connection (it would be so rewarding to work with like-minded people)
- variety and growth (asking for this funding is really out of my comfort zone, I want to make sure I have everything perfect so I can concentrate on this new experience)
- certainty (I really need this to go well or I’m not sure how long I will be able to pay my rent)
This is just one specific example where we can see that a ‘simple want’ may have a much deeper motivation.
As previously stated, our basic needs can be hidden more deeply than in this example. If we have never acknowledged these needs, or have never even been taught about the concept, we don’t realise that many of the things we ‘want’, we do so for a much more significant reason than we realise.
If this is the case, we might find ourselves continually ‘wanting’ things, but when we get them, we find that that desire has simply been replaced by a different one. This is what happens when the underlying need is not actually met.
Why is it important to meet our needs and what happens when they aren’t met?
Now, if this is the first time you have heard of this approach, you may think it is simply an over complication of facts. But our basic needs are actually so important, that when they are not met, they find ways of making themselves known to us.
When our needs are met…
When you become aware of your basic needs and consciously work on meeting them in your daily life, you begin to become more comfortable with yourself – just the way you are – and as a result, you have more compassion for yourself and others.
When our needs aren’t met…
If you continuously feel like something is missing in life, then you can be assured that one or more of your basic needs are not being met. If you often buy things that you don’t really ‘need’ or seek direction from others (even if you’re pretty sure you know what to do), you are trying to satisfy a need.
And if we go for a long time without meeting the most basic of our needs, especially if we feel like we are continually trying to satisfy something within us, we will end up feel stressed and, eventually, overwhelmed. These feelings can have diverse and far-reaching consequences for our mental, emotional and physical states, especially if they are experienced for an extended period of time.
Ways unmet needs can manifest
When our basic needs remain unmet, the following can result:
- personal and professional stagnation
- personal and professional relationship breakdown
- avoidance behaviours
- eating disorders
The basic needs explained
So, what are the 6 basic human needs, how do they show up in our life and what happens when they are not met?
What is Certainty?
This is the need, not just for safety and security around your food, shelter and person, but also for comfort, a feeling of order (especially when it comes from having a routine), consistency, and a sense of control.
How can a need for Certainty show up in your life?
If you have a strong need for certainty in your life you like it when things are predictable. You pay bills on or before their due date, are prepared for emergencies and complete work before its deadline.
What happens when your need for Certainty is not met?
We feel ‘out of control’, like other people make decisions for us, we are out of our depth or that there is never enough time to do what is necessary.
What is Variety?
The need for variety is the other end of the spectrum from the need for certainty. It is not only a need for uncertainty, but for diversity, challenge and change.
How can a need for Variety show up in your life?
If you have a strong need for variety in your life you like surprises, enjoy adventuring or travelling to unknown places and are not afraid to try new things.
What happens when your need for Variety is not met?
Some of the symptoms you might display include feeling bored, changing workplaces or professions often, or regularly starting new projects without finishing old ones.
What is Significance?
Significance provides you with a sense of meaning, a validation that you are needed or wanted and a strong need to know that who you are and what you do is important. Your need for significance is intertwined with your identity.
How can a need for Significance show up in your life?
If you have a strong need for significance, you need to know that you are special to someone else. You want to ensure others know how much effort you put into everything you do, and you often compare yourself to others.
What happens when your need for Significance is not met?
When we don’t feel significant, we constantly look for validation from others, we have self-esteem issues and don’t feel ‘good enough’. We might embed our identity in one arena (e.g.: in our job or a sport we are good at) or give our power away to others.
LOVE AND CONNECTION
What are Love and Connection?
Love and connection can most simply be summed up as a feeling of belonging. When we feel like we belong to a family or group, we feel a sense of security. The sense of place within a larger group brings with it contentment and opportunities for sharing.
How can a need for Love and Connection show up in your life?
Love and connection show up when you want to tell someone about an achievement or important decision you have made. You might experience general feelings of loneliness and not take enough care of yourself.
What happens when your need for Love and Connection is not met?
If your need for connection is not being met, relationship problems can result. These can develop in personal and professional relationships. An unbalanced desire to love and be loved can compel people to pursue unsuitable bonds with others or lead to anti-social behaviour.
What is Growth?
In nature, if there is not growth, there can be only stagnation. Modern psychology has also adopted this adage and it applies particularly to personal and professional development, whether it be physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual.
How can a need for Growth show up in your life?
Curiosity, a desire to do try new things and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone all show that you are in a growth stage. If you focus on growth for growth’s sake, you may not be fully present to all aspects of your present situation and can end up missing opportunities to deepen your knowledge or understanding.
What happens when your need for Growth is not met?
If you fear not being ‘ready’ or ‘enough’, you generally avoid opportunities that challenge you to grow. This can result in extreme anti-social or avoidance behaviour and leave you feeling frustrated with life and disappointed in yourself.
What is Contribution?
Contribution has a lot to do with your passions and purpose; what you love and feel you are here to share with the world. When you feel like you are adding value to the people or situations you come into contact with, you feel an authentic sense of contribution. This need feels fulfilled when you genuinely believe that everyone benefits from your input, including you.
How can a need for Contribution show up in your life?
A strong desire to make a difference to other people’s lives or to be of service shows that you are working towards fulfilling your need for Contribution. Felling generally unsatisfied with life, even though you can easily articulate what you have to be grateful for, is a sure sign you could do with more opportunities for Contribution.
What happens when your need for Contribution is not met?
When your need for Contribution is unbalanced, you can feel like other people just don’t understand how much you have to offer or don’t appreciate how much easier it would be for them to have your help. At the other end of the spectrum, you may feel resentful of how much you do for others or how little respect is given for the time you spend doing things for other people.
How many needs do we have at once?
Ultimately, we all experience each of these needs to some degree, all the time. The needs that centre around food, basic security and safety, are the most important. Until we have met those, we will not be able to expend our energy on finding ways to meet the others.
At different times in our lives, different needs will take precedence. Achieving balance in each of them is the ultimate aim. When we are balanced, we have harmony between our needs and our wants and do not sabotage or harm ourselves or others in meeting them.
In this process, when we serve not only ourselves, but those around us, we have a greater opportunity to meet our basic human needs with harmony and fulfillment.
MEETING OUR BASIC NEEDS – ACTIVITY
It’s now time to consider the 6 Basic Human Needs and how they might be showing up in your life.
Take into account the examples given of what can happen when a need isn’t met.
Consider your current situation in light of what you have learned and identify one or two personal circumstances where a need might not be met.
Use the questions below to help you uncover ways you could work toward meeting your needs.
INCLUDES A FILLABLE PDF ACTIVITY WORKSHEET
Created as a 6-part course for Holgro: Cultivating Regional Leaders
GIVE IT AWAY TO KEEP IT
We were recently gifted a mammoth pumpkin (a Trombone Gramma to be precise) and it reminded me just how homogeneous our food can become if we only ever shop in supermarkets. When was the last time you saw a two and a half foot pumpkin in the fresh food aisle? I rest my case.
There are however many ways we can ensure that non-conformist species like this pumpkin continue to grace our tables. Many locations have formal seed-banks or seed-saver groups from which you can buy heirloom variety seeds to grow at home and there are commercial nurseries that will ship stock directly to your door.
Farmers’ Markets are also a great source of non-compliant vegetables. Buying veges from a local source like this also has an added informational component. The growers are usually more than willing to let you in on propagation advice and seed-saving tips so your crop will produce year after year.
Not everyone has a Monsanto mindset and most people, when asked, will be happy to share the lessons they have learned (given their knowledge, and possibly their plants, likely came from asking similar questions).
But our best resources are usually right on our doorstep. Neighbours and friends often have all sorts of interesting things hidden in their back gardens or in dusty bottles and packets of seeds that they found in Great Aunt Daisy’s airing cupboard. And if they live nearby and the plant grows well there, then you have a pretty good chance of being able to grow them at your place too.
The best way to keep heirloom varieties alive is by, well, keeping them alive! Seeds do have a shelf life and along with that can fall victim to moisture, mold and small critters. One thing I particularly advocate when you do get hold of interesting seeds or cuttings is to share them around. If you can give them to friends, neighbours or relatives to grow they not only receive the windfall of the foods or flowers these provide, but with each successive generation you are able to collect more seeds and spread the species further. There is also the added bonus of having access to more seeds if there’s been a particularly bad cold snap, dry spell or chicken invasion and you’ve lost your crop.
Adapted from an article published in the Eumundi Green – Issue 191
THERE'S A LOT TO LOVE WHEN YOU FOLLOW YOUR HEART TO COUNTRY NEW SOUTH WALES
Narrandera – the true ‘heart’ of the Riverina
Narrandera has long been heralded as the heart of New South Wales’ Riverina region. However, it’s not just the town’s geographical location or position along the Murrumbidgee River that affords it this title. The welcoming locals, supportive community groups and beautiful natural landscapes help swell the heart of this town and all who visit.
Follow your heart to the Riverina
Originally from South Australia, Lauren Redden found herself following her heart to Narrandera when her then boyfriend, Ryan, was offered a position in the small country town. With Ryan’s family’s farm in the Riverina town of Brocklesby, an hour and a half from the town, it was an opportunity too good to be missed.
Small towns offer workplace diversity
With experience working in local council in South Australia, Lauren was able to gain employment in the Narrandera Shire Council after her move. She took a fixed term contract as Finance Officer initially and from there, a permanent position in administration became available. In comparable city situations, “employment opportunities are much more competitive,” she said. “In a smaller town you can get to know all aspects of a workplace and gain jobs internally.”
Something Lauren has particularly enjoyed about working in Narrandera Council is the variety of roles she has been able to fulfill. “The great thing about working in a smaller place is that you get to collaborate with a lot of departments. I’ve worked with finance, executives, administration and other areas and my role is really diverse and fun. I get to work with a real range of people,” she explained.
Job opportunities = financial stability
Narrandera has not only provided Lauren and Ryan with great job opportunities, but their positions have also offered financial stability. As a result, the couple, who were engaged last year, have been able to take full advantage of the Riverina’s great housing affordability and have recently purchased a 16-acre property in the area. “It’s a big life change,” revealed Lauren. “We have a large garden and lawn and have just brought in some sheep and cows to keep some of the grass down,” she said, describing their growing hobby farm. “There’s not much spare time at the moment, but we’re really enjoying it,” she affirmed.
Get involved in your new community
Lauren does get the chance to engage in many of the sporting and recreational activities Narrandera has on offer. “Sport and community groups are a great way to meet people and become involved in a new community,” advocated Lauren. When she first moved to the area, she made many friends and found out about what was on offer by playing volleyball and going to boxing and yoga classes. “I think it really helped me settle in and meet nice people,” she explained. “Everyone was lovely, and it made my transition easy.”
Narrandera shire has a swimming pool and recently renovated water park. Local sporting and leisure venues also offer netball, basketball, cricket, bowling, golf and tennis. The Murrumbidgee Trails provide yet another way to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, with walks not only through Narrandera, but three of the adjoining shires. “Some people think small towns are boring,” Lauren relayed, “but the town is inviting and welcoming,” she explained.
Creating a better future
By actively ‘putting herself out there,’ Lauren found and joined the Soroptimist Narrandera community group. Part of Soroptimist International, this is a global initiative that works to foster “a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities.” Lauren has made like-minded friends through this group and been able to give back to her new community and those who are less fortunate. By raising money, the group provides educational, business and domestic support to those in need.
Ready for your own Country Change?
If you can imagine becoming involved in all Narrandera has to offer, you can Contact Us to find out how to make your own Country Change a reality. With so much on offer Lauren has no hesitation in recommending you “just go for it! The prospects are endless if you just have a go,” she advises.
INNER CITY GARDENING: AN URBAN POP UP PATCH
I recently had to travel to Melbourne, Australia, for work and while I was there I had the opportunity to explore a bit of the city. Although I partook in many of the cultural and food-related activities, my biggest joy came from stumbling upon a gorgeous community garden, smack bang in the middle of the city.
Now when I say smack bang, I really mean smack bang, right in the centre – on the rooftop of the Federation Square car park!
Although the gardens weren’t open to the public at the time I was there I was lucky enough to be having a sticky beak through the fence when a lovely couple came along to water their patch and invited me in.
Not only did I delight in the plethora of photographic subjects, but enjoyed learning how the city folk bring the outdoors, gardening and fresh produce into their lives. All of the raised beds had quaint stenciled signs on them, indicating their owners, and I was thrilled to recognize the name of the restaurant I had just eaten in – no wonder their food had tasted so fresh! It sure limited the food miles I contributed that day.
My hosts, Roy and Lisa, were (almost) retired school teachers that lived in the city’s centre. However, like many city dwellers, their high rise balcony-less lifestyle didn’t allow for much more than a pot of herbs on a windowsill. Although we hinterland folk would just about choke at the price, residents of the CBD pay $25 a week to use the facilities and become a part of the community garden.
This raised quite a bit of discussion amongst us but was put neatly into perspective when the price differences between apartments with balconies or gardens were compared to those without, and the cost of buying fresh herbs and greens at the supermarket each week was factored in.
There were other added benefits too, like
– getting an extra raised bed if you were prepared to water the communal gardens and other people’s plots,
– the sense of community that grows out of meeting those who share similar interests and ideals,
– not to mention the perfect positioning of the patch, practically on the banks of the Yarra, making it an ideal party location for fireworks and cultural celebrations.
You can find out more about the Pop Up Patch (run by the Little Veggie Patch Co) on their website and also on Facebook and see the other magnificent ways they are bringing like-minded members of the community together with healthy and life-affirming pastimes.
Adapted from an article published in the Eumundi Green – Issue 183
LIFE [AND DEATH] ON A BETTER RIDGE
Nature’s remarkable cycles have given me much to write about in the past. I have pondered the wondrous renewal evident in the botanical world, the passing of seasons and the plethora of changes these bring, but until now I’ve not spent a lot of time writing about quieter side of this cycle.
In order for new growth to burst out of bare branches and long, warm days to replace the harsh cold, we need the bareness, dark and cold to be felt and recognised
Today, it is my hope that I can pay respect to the ‘other side’ of the new life, fresh growth and renewal that is the main focus of much that is written about spring. After all, It’s not as though things only die off in winter.
In the natural world as well as the human realm, death and change are an ever-present aspect and perhaps turning our attention to them occasionally allows us to better appreciate the whole cycle. Death is not a subject that’s off limits in my household. Having fairly recently lost the great-grandfather figure in our lives, my children understand that sometimes bodies wear out or don’t work as well anymore and also that all people and things eventually die. This concept seems to be pretty well understood, but what about the new life, the lives that are just beginning that don’t make it?
Well, this week I had the opportunity to find out just how best to explain this. Amid the excitement of new chicks hatching out of their eggs, there was a tinge of sadness. Out of the seven eggs nestled under our clucky girl we welcomed three little fluff balls, full of chirpy sweetness. The fourth egg had started to crack and you could see where the birds’ little egg tooth had made its initial hole, but alas, no amount of waiting and wishing could bring this life further out of its egg and into the world.
After a day and a half of this wait the broody hen was up off her nest indoctrinating her three hatchlings in the ways of chicken-hood, leaving in her nest three eggs that showed no signs of cracks and the fourth, with it’s little hole. Seeing that the hen had abandoned these eggs we pulled it a little further open to find that the chick inside was no longer living. Did the mother hen know that the other eggs were not viable?
Given the intuitive understandings other species seem to have concerning their young, my guess would be, yes. She knew that there was no longer any use sitting on the other eggs and concentrated her energy on teaching her three living chicks how to survive.
In the manner of all farm kids before them, my children were told simply and truthfully about this natural occurrence and although saddened by the news they too have focused their attention on providing their loving energy on the remainder of the flock.
This simple fact of nature serves to remind to us all that there is a full cycle in life and seeing as though neither man nor beast can avoid death, it is best that it is lovingly understood, accepted and celebrated for the role it plays in our lives.
Adapted from an article published in the Eumundi Green – Issue 184
A RIVERINA REMEDY NOURISHING HEALTH AND VITALITY
Why a Country Change is a perfect prescription for mental and physical health
The current global pandemic definitely has more of us contemplating our health and wellbeing than ever before. Anyone watching the news or current affairs will be aware that the spread of viruses and disease can be more detrimental in areas with a densely packed population.
Unsurprisingly then, more people than ever before are having thoughts of moving to the Country. Research is now beginning to show that, as restriction ease and life-as-it-once-was attempts to regain traction, people are taking action on their desires.
James MacSmith of RealEstate.com.au recently stated, “The real estate boom in regional Australia is one of the most significant and tangible effects of the coronavirus pandemic.” Suggesting we are already seeing far higher numbers realising the potential for positive lifestyle and housing changes in regional areas such as the Riverina.
With alternatives for almost every stress the city presents, regional towns across Australia can ease the drain on city-based resources, stem the depletion of personal funds and provide a panacea for the soul.
Physical and mental health benefits of making a Country Change
Coronavirus aside, often what people need most, regardless of where they live, is greater work-life balance as this has many flow-on effects for both physical and mental health.
One basic example, spending less time on your daily commute will mean more time for physical activity; to do an exercise class or go for a walk with the family. It will often also mean you have more time for psychological or spiritual activities, such as contemplation, planning, meditation and community engagement.
The science is unequivocal; physical health is directly related to mental health and vice versa. Open Minds, a leading provider of mental health and disability support services in Australia, makes these links very clear. “Poor mental health can make every day tasks more difficult, such as engaging in physical activity, making wise food choices, and making and maintaining friendships … [it] can also impact decision making, the way a person sees themselves and the world around them.” Open Minds also stresses that “physical activity, in particular, can boost mental health through the release and uptake of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in the brain.”
In addition to this data, the Black Dog Institute reveals that one in five Australians (that’s 20% of us) aged 16-85 will experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depressive or centre around anxiety and substance use. It becomes evident, then, that the effects of such conditions will be wide-ranging and present challenges not only to individuals and families but also to communities, health services and economies.
You might think it is a cliché that country living is associated with images of green fields, big blue skies and wide country roads. These portraits have become popularly associated with life in the country because that is actually what it is like. It is no misnomer.
Many country folk will tell you they feel less stressed than their city friends and they believe there are more health benefits. But if you are going to consider packing up your city life for a Country Change, you want something a bit more concrete than just the vague feelings of someone who lives there.
Feature Photo: A man standing in the wheat fields of Coolamon Shire, NSW. Photo credit: Elise Hawthorn
DOING WITHOUT DOESN'T HAVE TO MEAN GOING WITHOUT
Rather than focus on what we are doing on our property at Christmas time, I have decided to write about some of the things we will not be doing during the festive season.
As much as possible we forgo the commercial pressures. We don’t get any junk mail and we don’t watch commercial TV. We don’t take things too seriously. Far too much emphasis can get placed on this one day, and it’s easy to get drawn into the ‘perfect day’ myth.
It is my belief that things will only ever be ‘perfect’ if you allow them to be, in each and every moment. We plan for what we want to happen but be flexible enough to change plans if circumstances dictate.
This often results in a much richer experience than if we to stick doggedly to the way we thought we ‘wanted it.’ Doing without definitely doesn’t have to mean going without. We don’t buy ill-considered presents. We make sure to buy presents that really mean something to their recipient. If we truly reflect on the people we are buying for and give them gifts they will enjoy or cherish for many years to come we avoid the risk of contributing to any extra landfill, not to mention have happier exchanges!
In this vein, our family does a Secret Santa draw each year (for both children and adults) and has a set spend limit. This ensures we focus on quality rather than quantity and requires due consideration of the needs and wants the beneficiary.
In true better ridge style we have the added caveat that the gift must either be repurposed or home made in some way. For other gift giving ‘low impact’ is a stipulation. One of my personal favourites is giving experiential gifts rather than material ones. Things such as dinners out, once in a lifetime parachuting, movie vouchers or a personalized picnic hamper win out over a shiny trinket every time. Something people can ‘do’ instead of ‘have’ gives the environment a bit of a breather and shoots that breath of fresh air straight to the heart of the receiver.
Other Low-impact ideas include living gifts (potted plants, seedlings or herbs for the garden or window sill), pre-loved goods (from vintage or op shops), charity/donations (many of the larger charities have online gift catalogues and allow you to give a gift twice – once to your intended recipient and the second to the person who is actually in need of the gift. Examples of these types of life affirming gifts are school supplies for under privileged children, livestock or housing for a family in a third world environment or a micro loan for someone wanting to start a business and provide an income and fulfillment for themselves and their family).
I think the greatest gift that Christmas gives us is the opportunity to reaffirm what we find important in life. It enables us to do and buy only that which genuinely supports our growth and happiness. At this time of year we are also given our most valuable opportunity to teach our children how mainstream media, advertising and large corporations work and how exchanging our money locally can help our community to thrive.
It is in this spirit I wish each of you a simple and joyous Christmas.
Adapted from an article published in the Eumundi Green
TOP 10 REASONS FOR A COUNTRY CHANGE
Benefits of Regional Living over City Life
It’s not surprising that many Country Changers report similar benefits when discussing their move to the Riverina. Affordability and work-life balance are very high on the list of advantages. At the same time, the beautiful natural landscapes and agricultural bounties are the icing on the cake. Here we’ll cover the top ten benefits that the Riverina provides for Country Changers who’ve shared their stories with us.
The first thing a Country Changer will tell you is how much more affordable their cost of living has become since making their Tree Change. It’s no secret that median housing prices in regional areas are a fraction of their city counterparts.
Nina and Luke Piotrowicz of Cootamundra say that their move has allowed them “to have a life, not just earn a living.”
The Big Movers population trend report and factsheet, compiled by Regional Australia Institute (RAI) note that between 2011 and 2016, 1.2 million people moved to and between regional areas. In a specific section on millennials, the report lists housing affordability along with rapid career advancement and lifestyle choices as the top three reasons this group chose regional over city locations. And this seems to be equally valid for the Country Changers we’ve spoken to in other age brackets.
Cathy Cullen, of Lockhart, explains that “Part of the reason I moved here was to escape the ridiculously high mortgages in the city. I still have a mortgage here, but it’s very manageable and only about a quarter of what it used to be.”
Sense of Community
After affordability, it seems that the sense of community that exists in smaller country towns is what strikes Country Changers most. Unlike many experiences of city life, where people regularly admit to not knowing their neighbours, those in regional areas do support one another.
Kaarin and Thomas Besgrove made their Country Change to Coolamon and said they “couldn’t think of a better place to raise a family. To know there is the support and a community that cares means the world to us.”
The interdependence that smaller townships enable genuinely means that success for one person or family creates success for the whole community.
“Businesses rely on one another to keep the community employed and to stimulate economic growth,” noticed Angeline Mulder, who moved to Tumbarumba.
Business and Employment Opportunities
Having moved to Gundagai, David and Emelia Ferguson were struck by the potential they noticed. “There’s lots of opportunity here for people to come and set up a business and do something a little bit different. This area is crying out for people to come and do new stuff,” they said.
“Country towns really benefit from new people coming from different backgrounds and bringing different abilities,” agreed Clair and Ken Walsh of Murrumbidgee.
With many varied environments represented in the Riverina, there are even more business and employment opportunities. Excellent internet coverage makes small business and work-from-home scenarios viable. And the proximity of smaller towns to major transport routes and bigger city centres also means that many companies also have bases here.
With more fulfilling job opportunities comes the potential for greater work-life balance.
“It has certainly given me a lot of balance, and a lot of time to just relax,” said Cathy Cullen of her Country Change to Lockhart.
Because there is less time spent commuting and overheads are lower, there is more time to engage in the things you enjoy. Many people express their relief at the slower pace of life.
Nina and Luke Piotrowicz, now Cootamundra residents, realised their city lifestyle “just wasn’t fun anymore.” The high mortgage, ever-increasing fees and continual parking charges overtook the enjoyment of the parks and attractions their city had to offer.
In Junee, Rob and Kristy Vergano also found that they were, “not as busy now, so get to hang out more as a family, which has been really good and brought everyone a lot closer.”
“It’s more peaceful, you get to know people better,” affirms Wayne Bond of the Leeton Heritage Motor Inn, who moved to Leeton with his wife Mia. “For a work environment and for families as well, it’s just a great community to live and grow in.”
The clean air and water, wide-open spaces and lack of pollution all make it onto the top 10 list of reasons people choose the country over the city.
“I didn’t actually appreciate the space I had growing up,” said Patrick Dawson, a young lawyer from Narrandera. “Returning as an adult, it’s like I am exploring my backyard for the first time!” he exclaimed.
Alison Swanston and Libby Mullavey, business partners who both have young families in Temora, cite the environment as a significant factor in their moves. “You cannot put a price tag on wide-open spaces, fresh air and the ability for our children to connect with nature on a day-to-day basis,” they acknowledged.
Proximity to Metropolitan Centres
One of the many misconceptions people have before considering a Country Change is that they won’t have access to things they need; this couldn’t be further from the truth. Good internet connections and many city conveniences are now available in regional towns. As such, there is rarely a need to make trips to larger centres, but when necessary, they are still quite close.
Being able to purchase goods and services locally has added benefits too. “It’s nice to know that the dollars spent in town, stay in town,” identified Kelly Glass of Jayfields Nursery, from Greater Hume.
|Approximate distances between Riverina townships and larger regional and city centres (in kilometres – Source Google Maps)|
Less Commuting and Traffic
When stuck in peak hour city traffic it might be difficult to believe that quiet country roads could possibly lead you to your place of employment, but this is the reality for our Country Changers.
Julian, in Wagga Wagga, points out that the lack of traffic chaos was a game-changer for him. “There’s fresh air, green paddocks and vineyards, cows in the fields and beautiful views. And that’s just on the way to work!” he noticed.
Angeline Mulder, who moved to Tumbarumba, joked that “The worst traffic jam in Tumba [Tumbarumba] is cattle being moved on the way to town.”
Nature and Nature-Based Recreational Pursuits
Surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, forests and plains, snow and water skiing, bushwalking, hiking, nature photography, mountain biking and 4WDing are all available in the Riverina. As such, Country Changers report taking the opportunity to spend time in nature far more often than they did in the city.
“It’s a type of spiritual feeling,” disclosed Kathy Taylor, from Narrandera. “I feel a connection to the land. I love the trees. I love the river. I love the freedom,” she said.
Seasonal Living and Awareness of Food Sources
With greater work-life balance and less time spent commuting, Country Changers mention noticing and enjoying the changing seasons more than ever before. And it is not only recreation pursuits that change with the season. Classed as the food bowl of Australia, many agricultural needs evolve throughout the year as well.
Annie Featherstone, of Griffith, has also been delighted by what her family has experienced. “Seeing the kids awaken to where food comes from is great. They have so much more gratitude for what goes into producing their food and understand it so much more than they did in the city.”
Health and Wellbeing
The nine factors listed above all contribute to Country Changers feeling a greater connection to themselves and others.
Kelly Glass “wanted [her] kids to develop the grounded demeanour and associated work ethic that rural living contributes to.” And she has seen this sense of wellbeing become their reality since making their move to the Greater Hume Shire.
“We have a great life here, and I finally have time for my own health and wellbeing. It’s wonderful,” said Annie Featherstone of their move to Griffith.
The Benefits of a Country Change are as Vast as Your Intentions
Of course, there are far more than just ten benefits of moving away from the city. As we have seen, the advantages of a Country Change are as vast as your intentions.
Andre and Keryl De Hann, from Coolamon, sum this premise up perfectly, “You gain so much more than you think you might lose just staying where you are.”
If you’d like to experience some of these benefits in your day-to-day life, contact us to find out how we can help you make your Country Change dream a reality.
 Millennials are those born from 1981 – 1996
Feature Image: ‘View of Tumbarumba Vineyards, a part of The Snowy Valleys Council.’ Photo credit: Destination NSW
AFFORDING THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM
The surprising benefits of embracing a Country Change to Griffith
Meet one of Griffth’s most passionate Country Changers, Annie Featherstone. Originally from South Africa, Annie is now a proud Griffith resident. Making her way from her home country to Sydney, she found that living in the Eastern Beaches was very much to her liking. She liked it so much that when her husband, a police officer, was transferred to the picturesque Riverina town of Griffith, she made him go on his own. After six months of living separately, they wondered if they had made the best choice.
“Essentially, I came against my will,” quips Annie, after sheepishly admitting that she didn’t know where the town was when the transfer was offered.
Her first visit to Griffith was on a scorching January day. The heat had clouded her perspective, and when she couldn’t immediately spot a sizeable air-conditioned shopping mall, she wondered whether she could survive there.
When the couple found a great property to rent for half the price they were paying in Sydney, she began to rethink her initial reaction. Further exploration of the town did in fact reveal two air-conditioned shopping centres but also plenty of other shopping options and much more. The thriving wineries, arts, cultural and sporting options sparked memories of a childhood spent away from the cities.
Moving herself and their two children out of Sydney to join her husband became an exciting prospect. The range of schooling, extracurricular activities and housing helped cement the idea, and it wasn’t long before Annie was wondering why she hadn’t made the move sooner.
Buying a house with a large yard and swimming pool had been a pipedream for the family; however, this is precisely what they were able to do. With lower mortgage repayments than they had in the city, no less. “We really have been able to afford the Australian Dream,” said Annie, “and we finally have enough space for a dog.”
Thriving arts, cultural and sporting communities
With so much going on in Griffith and other nearby Riverina towns, Annie and her family have not only had the chance to attend local festivals but have even been able to volunteer. “I was really amazed by the citrus sculptures the first time I saw them,” recalled Annie. “It was wonderful to be involved and help out with the festival ourselves last year.”
Although having loved city life, Annie explained that the family rarely had time to participate in external activities. The children had plenty of school-related things to do and being busy, working parents, there was rarely time for non-essentials. In such a bustling urban area, even getting to a venue took a lot of time and patience. Not to mention the additional expenditure on fees, parking, fuel and the like.
In Griffith, not only is everything nearby, the family actually has time to be involved in their individual interests. The kids have had the chance to try many new things and Annie herself has joined a netball team. “Netball is something I would never even have considered in Sydney. In 13 years there I didn’t have a chance to play sport,” she explained.
A welcoming school community
Although working full time, Annie says the family has more quality time together than they ever had before. “Having the afternoons free with the girls is fantastic,” she reflected. “Their schools offer so many extracurricular activities and have been so welcoming and inclusive. Everyone feels like they have something to contribute.”
The quality of education was another thing that surprised Annie when she moved into the regional area. Having become accustomed to a large, busy school environment, she was pleased to find good ratios of teachers to students. “There was such a caring attitude about each child as well as their educational needs. The girls were buddied up when they first arrived, and that really helped them settle in.” She said that she too was made to feel welcome by the school and other parents, “It was a massive surprise and so different from Sydney. No one seemed anxious or rushed, and people made me feel included straight away.”
Schools have always been a place for parents to connect, but when people are stressed or rushed this connection seems to be the first to go. But in Griffith, it appears to be quite the opposite. “There is such a sense of community, and someone always reaches out if times are tough,” she said.
Advice for other Country Changers
A supportive community is one of the most repeated advantages Country Changers report of their regional towns, and this is undoubtedly the case in Griffith. Annie is enthusiastic in her advice for people considering a move to the country, “Not knowing about a place is the biggest problem,” she said. “Just go and visit all the places you’re thinking about living. Ask questions. People are not scared to share information. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed,” she insisted.
Living in an agricultural area creates a strong connection between people and their provisions. “Seeing the kids awaken to where food comes from is great. They have so much more gratitude for what goes into producing their food and understand it so much more than they did in the city,” explained Annie.
“But do you want to know what the biggest giveaway is that this is a great place?” Annie asked. “My husband’s transfer term was only three years, and nine years later, we’re still here!” She added, “The only regret I have about moving to Griffith, is not doing it sooner. We have a great life here, and I finally have time for my own health and wellbeing. It’s wonderful.”
If you’re interested in visiting Griffith or finding out more about this thriving, welcoming community, contact us for further information.