Baylee Rescue Dog

How my rescue dog has saved me

As I walked my dog down the beach path early this morning I had a moment. I looked at the sky, the trees, two lorikeets flew past and I smiled. My life is very different now compared to the dark days that nearly ended it.

A large part of my newfound contentment in recovery is my beautiful dog, Baylee. My plan was to foster dogs who’d been abandoned, smother them in love and then wave them goodbye as they headed off to their forever home.

It didn’t quite go to plan.

I’m not sure what Baylee’s life was like before he ended up at Animal Welfare League Queensland at ten years old. When I first brought him home he was shaken, bony and too scared to make eye contact. I sat on the kitchen floor to hand feed him, told him he was beautiful and sang to him at bedtime.

Nine months later he’s rounder than he was. His eyes are brighter, his coat is healthy and our bond is strong. His tail wags whether he’s awake or asleep. He snores very loudly and it makes me smile no matter what time it is.

Every day I’m thankful for Baylee rescuing me.

Baylee

Corrine and Baylee | Image supplied by Corrine Barraclough

Dogs can be brilliant for people living with depression. He gives me a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to get outside when I could otherwise choose to hide.

Days feeling paralysed with fear have fallen away. Being around dogs can calm down our breath, speech and minds. Research has shown the healing power of touch; stroking a dog can reduce stress. It can also lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Laughter and love both release the chemical serotonin, which is known as the ‘feel-good’ chemical in our brain. Now serotonin is being flooded around my body every day, those symptoms of depression have decreased.

This is all really good news for introverts!

Dogs are distracting which is good news for anyone with a mind that sometimes races.

My little dog trusts me and that gives me a giant lift. It’s been good for me to have a responsibility outside work. Depression research has shown that responsibility promotes mental health and caring for another creature builds self-esteem.

There is an unconditional love which is hard to describe until you’ve felt it.

Some of the people I interview for work have had really difficult lives. Their stories are intense and phone call interviews can be emotionally draining. Taking Baylee for a walk in the fresh air to admire the gorgeous Gold Coast scenery helps me to reset and recharge. Exercise is as good for me as it is for him.

Before you consider fostering/adopting dog, ask yourself:

  • Do you have time?
  • Do you have patience?
  • Can you commit long term?
  • What breed will suit your lifestyle? (ie. how much exercise can you commit to)
  • Have you done your research?
  • Do you have some spare money? (Not a fortune, but vet-bills aren’t zero).
  • Have you pooch-proofed your home?

If you want to know more check out Animal Welfare League Queensland.

Debbie Malone Studio 10

Psychic medium Debbie Malone: “I’m the biggest skeptic!”

In her new book Always With You (Rockpool Publishing $29.99), acclaimed psychic medium Debbie Malone shares some of the readings she’s done over the years. A powerful collection of experiences with the other side, her new book offers messages of love, loss and reconnection, and provides a fascinating insight as to what lies ahead in the world beyond. We interviewed her about her new book, and some of the stand-out stories within.

I’m the biggest skeptic ever – I didn’t want to be doing this work! I fell into it by accident, something I talk about in my first book, Clues from Beyond. That’s why when people say they don’t really believe in this, I say, ‘I get it, I understand’. I’ve always been very skeptical, but I have also always been very open-minded to the possibility that we are protected from above.

I once did a reading for a man from England. His mum had died of pancreatic cancer last year, and even though he was not much of a believer [in the work I do], he came along after a friend convinced him to. His mum was telling me all these things about peony roses, where they were in his house, that type of thing. He said, ‘How do you know my house looks like that – how do you know these details, only mum and I know that?’ He’s a believer now! It’s lovely to know that his mum is still there, and keeping an eye on him.

Why do good things happen to bad people? I question this all the time. The hardest and most heartbreaking part of the work I do is meeting with people who have experienced great tragedies. I did a reading for a beautiful woman at the beginning of the year. She’d fallen pregnant with twins, and when she was seven months pregnant, she delivered and they only lived a few hours. I could see these two beautiful little girls in spirit, and they were rubbing her belly, telling me another baby is coming soon. I said, “You’ll be pregnant by Easter.” I made her a special memorialised piece of jewelry and when she came to pick it up 4 weeks later, she told me the exciting news: she was pregnant again.

Some of the stories in the book were unfolding as I was writing the book, especially the one with my son Blake. It’s a story about his past life. It came about by accident, really; he’s always talked about the army, even from the age of 2, he would talk about seeing the men with arms and legs missing – it was quite terrifying! He’s now 24, but he’s been talking about the Army his entire life. He always wanted to be a gunner.

One day I was researching my grandfather’s war records. My grandfather is Bernhard Ernest G, and I came across a record for Walter Ernest G – he was born on my son’s birthday, exactly 100 years before. He was discharged from the Army on my birthday. I tracked him further back, and discovered he was actually born in Randwick and was interred in an unmarked grave just near my office in Sydney. My son Blake then went under hypnosis, and he discovered memories of being Walter. He actually saw himself on the battlefield, trying to find his mates during World War I. It’s incredible to make these kinds of connections with loved ones – you never know what’s going to come out!

The biggest message I want people to take away from the book is the fact that we’re never really alone. Our loved ones will always get your attention. Our guardian angels are there – I’ve had many adventures when travelling, and my angels have saved me. One time in particular, I went in a helicopter and we had to make an emergency landing, after the helicopter malfunctioned. I believe my guardian angel saved us that day. Our loved ones are always with us – their love never dies.

Get hands on at POT, Tugun’s newest pottery studio

If you’ve ever felt the undying urge to recreate that scene from Ghost (yep, I’m talking about the one on the pottery wheel), this one’s for you.

POT in Tugun is a pottery school designed to teach you all things clay.

Learn the art of pottery at POT studios four-week introduction courses in either hand-building techniques (HAND) or wheel throwing (THROW).

Get the low down on how to use the clay, tools and equipment – and in just four short weeks’ – you’ll go from a block of clay to a glazed pottery piece that will undoubtedly go straight to the pool room.

Image supplied by POT

Once you’ve completed either of the HAND or THROW courses, you’re invited to the MAKE sessions, where you get full use of the equipment and guidance from a pottery mentor.

To attend POT workshops there’s no experience required – just a fun attitude and the willingness to get your hands dirty.

To enter into POT Studios, founded by Cindy Hamrey, is to ascend into an urban sanctuary in the quietly humming creative community of Tugun. Image supplied by POT

Visit their website to find out more.


Editor’s Note: This article is for general information and entertainment, and is the expressed opinion of the author and not a paid advertisement. Be sure to check current addresses, opening hours and contact information directly with the venue/service in advance of any booking/purchase.

Yoga Beach

How yoga can help your mental health

Before I tried yoga I thought you had to be super bendy and skinny to even think about walking through the door. For many years various friends had told me I should try it but, being me, I stubbornly refused.

Now I can see that they were trying to guide me to a place that could help my mental health.

Some people practise yoga for physical fitness, and there is certainly that element to it, but we can actually resolve emotional issues through our practice too.

Fear, anguish, loneliness, self-confidence, self-esteem, relationships, setting healthy boundaries, self-compassion – can all be helped. And learning how emotions live in our bodies rather than rule us is important work to apply to daily life too.

Yoga isn’t just about the poses; it’s the mental and emotional benefit of the deeper practice that many love. After the physical release of stiffness will come an emotional release.

I tried a variety of different classes, with a range of different teachers, before really finding what worked for me. Some classes are more strenuous and challenging, which will give your mind plenty to focus on rather than worrying about your to-do list. But there are plenty of less strenuous, more relaxing practices too.

Research from Harvard Health found that “yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal – for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.”

It also found “for many patients dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress, yoga may be very appealing to better manage symptoms”.

Interestingly, studies have also found that yoga can improve symptoms of schizophrenia when practised alongside medication therapy. And a UCLA study showed how effective it could be for caregivers; those taking care of loved ones with dementia for instance.

Learning breathing techniques and beginning to understand how you can change your mental state through slowing down your breathing is a game changer. Anyone who struggles with stress or anxiety will appreciate the benefit of beginning to change from a state of fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest.

Stepping away from the armour you place around yourself to face the world is important too. You start to see that you are worthy as a person and build the crucially important sense of self.

Feeling less stressed and anxious by the end of a class is a feeling that you learn to carry with you.

Becoming less reactive can lead to fewer regrets and that can improve mental health too.

Beginning to own hurt rather than lashing out and blaming others paves the way to living more mindfully.

Jersey Day

Have the Conversation – Make it Count

On the saddest day of my life, I never expected to also have to make the biggest decision of my life.

My Dad, my hero, my person, passed away unexpectedly and within a few short hours of losing him the phone rang – it was a counsellor from Donate Life.

“We are so sorry for the loss of your Dad but we need to make this call because there is a possibility with organ donation we can save someone else’s.

“Your Dad hasn’t indicated whether he wanted to be an organ donor, do you know what he would want?”

I clenched the phone to my chest and with a broken heart called out to my Mum and sisters to ask whether Dad had ever told them.

Everyone was too devastated to talk and could only manage to shake their heads to indicate they didn’t know. I had no idea what my Dad’s views were about organ donation, and I had to give an answer then and there or else there would be no time to donate any viable organs.

My Dad was a generous man and what was his was yours if you wanted it, so through an ocean of tears I blurted out, “If there’s anything that’s any good, then take it, I’ve got doubts about his liver though as he didn’t mind the occasional beer.”

The lady on the other end of the line chuckled, thanked me and went about organising the paperwork.

To this day I don’t know whether that was what Dad truly wanted. What I am absolutely certain about is that my Dad would have never wanted me to have to make that decision, particularly when I was in a state of overwhelming grief.

At Maurice Blackburn we have the honour and privilege of assisting families who have a lost loved one in tragic circumstances. These families only want to act in ways that honour the wishes and memory of those they have sadly lost. Where this becomes difficult from a legal point of view is when those wishes are unknown.

Discussing your wishes with your family is one of the most important conversations you can ever have. Donate Life report that around 1500 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any one time and the single most important thing that helps a family’s decision is knowing the donation decision of their loved one. One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people.

On Friday 31 August 2018 I encourage the Gold Coast Community to wear their favourite sporting jersey to show their support for the Donate Life network and begin the conversation with their friends and families about Organ Donation. Jersey Day has been inspired by the story of Nathan Gremmo who was tragically lost in an accident in May 2015. Nathan’s family chose to give the gift of life to others to honour the legacy of Nathan’s generous personality.

I have to end this on a positive note, as that was something my Dad always did. About a year later I got a letter in the mail advising me that Dad’s eye tissue had been donated and someone who had lost their vision could now see. I will forever be heartened to know that the kindest and wisest eyes I have ever seen are still helping to keep an eye on this world.

So this Friday I will proudly wear a maroons jersey which belonged to my Dad and I will have the conversation with those closest to me about organ donation.

For more information about Jersey Day and Organ Donation visit www.jerseyday.com.au and www.donatelife.gov.au #makeitcount #donatelife