words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

“I only belong in your heart”

Laura at 6 (with no front teeth)

One of my favourite pics of me and my precious girl on a Prep Excursion to the Zoo. I love it because her smile is so big (and gappy!).

I looked at my daughter’s face as tears welled up in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t want to go to school because I don’t feel like I belong there anymore,” she cried as tears rolled down her face.

“Of course you belong,” I said. “You’re an important member of your class and the whole school.”

“No, I only belong in your heart.”

Then she sobbed.

My beautiful 8 year old daughter, then told me that a group of girls at her school wouldn’t let her play with them. According to her, they were being rude and telling lies about her. And so, she felt like she didn’t belong there anymore.

After we had talked a few things through, I asked her what she meant when she told me she belonged in my heart.

She replied: “Because we are connected, heart to heart.”

Now to explain to you what that means, I have to take you into a world of Barbie movies. I know, I know — Barbie movies are not award-winning material. But my daughter loves them and one particular movie is very dear to her heart — and mine.

It’s called “Barbie and the Diamond Castle”. Basically, it’s a story of two best friends who grow flowers for a living. They both love music. One day they find two heart-shaped stones which they turn into necklaces to symbolise their friendship. One of the songs they sing during the movie is about their friendship and the chorus goes like this:

I feel connected (connected), protected (protected), it’s like you’re standing right with me all the time.
You hear me (you hear me), you’re near me (you’re near me),
and everything else is gonna be alright.
‘Cause nothing can break this, nothing can break this, nothing can break this tie.

This song is one of ‘our songs’, and my daughter still loves to sing it to me, in full.

The reason this song is so special for my daughter and I is we first saw this movie when she started school. That was a very emotionally draining year for the whole family, as my daughter cried every day for three months. Every day. Some days the teacher had to prise her from me, which was not pleasant for any of us.

But through it all, we used to remind each other that we were connected like the two girls in the Barbie movie — even when we were apart. We even bought one of those ‘best-friend’ necklaces in the shape of a heart that you split in two and give to your best friend. She would go to school wearing her half under her uniform and I would wear my half for the day. It was our way of ‘being connected, heart to heart’.

Three years later, she was standing before me, with tears rolling down her face, telling me she belonged in my heart because we were connected.

She knew that no matter what happened at school, or anywhere else, that she would always have a place in my heart.

I wasn’t happy to hear that she was feeling so upset. But I was happy to know that she feels like she ‘belongs in my heart’, regardless of whatever else is taking place around her.

Happily, that day in the playground was a ‘one-off’ and she is back to playing with her friends and going to school with a smile on her face.

But it was a valuable experience for her, to not just ‘know’ that she was important to us at home, but to really feel and believe that she can always count on us to make her feel special, loved and cherished.

Forever connected, heart to heart.

My daughter found this rock a few months ago. When she picked it up, it broke in her hands into two pieces. She gave one half to me and kept one half for her to remind me that we 'are connected'.

My daughter found this rock a few months ago. When she picked it up, it broke in her hands into two pieces. She gave one half to me and kept one half for her to remind me that we ‘are connected’.

Side note: For those of you interested in the rest of the Barbie movie plot, the two girls stumble across a girl called Melody who is trapped in a mirror. She tells them a story about how she lived with three muses in the Diamond Castle until one day, one of the muses turned evil because she wanted the music to herself. The other two muses hid the Diamond Castle before they were turned into stone. So of course the two girls head off to stop the evil muse, before she finds the Diamond Castle and destroys music (and the world). And of course, everything works out in the end.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com


15 songs to inspire?…or perhaps make you laugh (because I’m so daggy)

treble clefI’ve been having a bit of fun this week. I have been updating my ipod playlist with songs in readiness for my next 12-week Transformation Challenge which kicks off in March.

I’ve been looking for songs that have inspired me in the past, or are attached to something inspirational that I can draw upon during that time.

My top 15 picks are below:

But before I share my choices with you, let me just preface by saying I know some of my choices are daggy, some are cheesy and some may show my age. However, perhaps by looking through this list, you may find some inspiration of your own.

If you’re not inspired, I hope at the very least, you are amused at my daggy-ness.

1.       Dreams by Van Halen

There is a clip of the US Navy Flight Demonstration Team — The Blue Angels, that is set to this song, which reminds me of my brother. His dream was to fly planes, born when he went to an International Air Show many years ago. He worked hard towards that dream, and finished his career with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), as a fighter pilot. This song reminds me of him and that with lots of hard work and determination, you can make your dreams a reality. The clip posted here is the one of the Blue Angels.

2.       Eye of the Tiger, by Survivor

Nothing more to be said than a classic song with typical ‘fighting’ lyrics and a ‘fighting’ beat. ‘It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, risin’ up to the challenge of our rival’. And it was the theme song of Rocky III — enough said. Released in 1982, the clip is full of typical 80s ‘special effects’.

3.       Don’t Stop Me Now, by Queen

Just love this song. It’s got a good beat, and it makes you feel good. It’s guaranteed to put a spring in your step, or a smile on your face. It’s also a little message to everyone that I’m chasing some goals, so ‘don’t stop me now’. However, as this song was released in 1979, I’m afraid the film clips is not very inspirational at all. Maybe just listen with your eyes closed.

4.       Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi had to feature on my list of songs. This is a favourite of ours — even the kids like to sing it in the car. Released just before my last year of high school, it takes me back to a time when dreams were big and belief in achieving those dreams was bigger. Special note to those younger than me: Long, big hair really was the ‘in-thing’ in those days and Bon Jovi are not the only ‘big-hair band’ from that era.

5.       Speechless, by Steven Curtis Chapman

This may be a strange choice to most of you. The song, by one of my favourite Christian artists, reminds me that no matter what is going on in my life — whether I am happy or sad, succeeding or falling flat on my face — that through all of that, ‘the God of this whole universe’ rejoices over all of us, including me. It’s good to be reminded that what we achieve for ourselves on this earth, is really not the most important thing at all — something that I forget from time to time. Along with the fact, that there is some divine help available to help you reach your goals — if you remember to ask for it.

6.       Undefeated, by Jason Derulo

There’s nothing deep and meaningful about this song. It’s just a happy anthem about never giving up, and not letting anything defeat you. It also has a good beat which is great to work out to. Unfortunately, there is no decent film clip to this song, so just close your eyes and imagine yourself winning!

7.       You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban

This song is a change of pace. It’s more of a ballad, but a very powerful ballad. This was played at the end of the most amazing three-day personal development course that I attended. So it has lots of powerful memories for me. Josh Groban’s voice is to die for as well. Plus, it’s a great reminder that success isn’t just about me. Throughout my life and throughout any success I have had, there have been many people around me, lifting me up, so I can be more than I can be. Take a moment to remember those who help you succeed.

8.       Hall of Fame, The Script feat. will.i.am

This is one of my favourite songs at the moment. I just adore the piano introduction. Not only is it the promo for the Australian athletes competing in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games (which is kind of inspiring), but the words are also inspiring. Basically, if you work hard and dedicate yourself, you can be and achieve anything you want to. ‘You can be the greatest, you can be the best…..be a champion’. You can be anything from a student to a teacher, a preacher or an astronaut. Whatever you choose.

9.       More, by Usher

I played this song hundreds of times when it came out. It was my official ‘hill climbing song’, when I was participated for the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker. We trained for six months before the actual event — over 200 hours of walking up and down bushland tracks. Whenever there was a hill to climb, I would plug this song in and off I would go — “like a rocket”, some of my team-mates said. This song reminds me that I have achieved great things that took a lot of time, dedication and effort to achieve, and I can do so again, in the future, no matter how hard they may seem.

 10.   Kickstart Your Heart, by Motley Crue

This is just a song that helps me through hard workouts or when I know I need to push myself. It’s really good turned up loud. And once again, the film-clip is full of bad 80s hair and leather pants, being released in 1989 and all. Quite funny to watch. They really were a motley crew.

  • 11.   Don’t Give Up, by Chicane feat. Bryan Adams

This song has a regular beat which I find quite good in some of my cardio workouts. I also used to play it a lot during solo hill training in preparation for Oxfam. And Bryan Adams is constantly reminding me ‘Don’t give up’. The only down side is the video. I really don’t get it.

  • 12.   Roar, by Katy Perry

I had to have something by Katy Perry. I do quite like her and it was a toss-up between this song and Firework. This song won out though, mainly because my 4-year old niece loves to sing this song. She puts on the video and grabs her microphone and sings loudly, no matter how many others are watching her, or whether they are smiling or laughing (she is quite funny when she sings it). She sings it because she loves to. Reminds me to keep doing the things I love, no matter how many people might be watching (and laughing). Besides, she is convinced that the line ‘I am a champion’ is actually, ‘I am a chambell’. And that amuses me.

  • 13.   Man in Motion, by John Parr

All of you who experienced the 80s will be familiar with this song. It’s from one of my favourite movies of the time, St Elmos Fire — a coming-of-age film starring the 80s ‘brat pack’ (Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and a very young Andie MacDowall). It’s a bit of an 80s anthem, typical of songs from movies of that era. But I love it regardless. And the film-clip features scenes from the movie — double bonus.

  • 14.   I Believe I Can Fly, by R Kelly

This is not really something you would listen to while you work out (not if you are looking for a fast beat anyway). However, it’s something that I love to listen to when I have my doubts. The words ‘If I can see it, then I can do it. If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it’, really do inspire me to have belief in myself, my abilities and my goals. Because without belief, it’s pretty hard to reach your goals. And the chorus at the end of the clip is pretty cool.

15.  Best Day of My Life, American Authors

This is a current favourite in our house. It’s happy tune that is easy to sing along to. The kids love singing it when it comes on the radio. I find it helps me to make the most of everyday. That today should be ‘the best day of my life’, regardless of what is happening. It’s also sums up how I want to be feeling at the end of the challenge, because I have achieved all my goals.

So, if over the next few months you see me with my ipod plugged in and I am either singing or jigging about, I’m probably listening to some of the songs I’ve just listed.

Were you inspired by any of these?

Perhaps you were rolling around laughing?

Either way, my job here is done.

If I have missed an obvious song, or you have some songs that inspire you, please share them in the comments below. I would truly love it if you could help expand my Inspirational play list!

Until next time.



cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com


Lessons from a wooden spoon

bakeGuilt caused me to take action this week.

I’ve been feeling guilty for a number of weeks now and over the past week, my kids have been making me feel even more guilty.

You see, I haven’t baked anything for weeks.

Yes, I have cooked meals, and made lunches, and organised breakfast. But I haven’t baked. You know, like cakes, or biscuits or muffins, or slices. That kind of baking.

For someone like me (who is known among my friends as an “amazing cook” and a “great baker” — even a “Brownie Queen”), that’s quite an admission. In fact, one of our friends we had dinner with on the weekend was shocked at my lack of activity in the kitchen.

Even my kids have been asking me why I haven’t baked anything.

Over the past week, they have been coming home from school and asking with hopeful little eyes, “Did you bake anything today?”

And the answer has been “No”.


Firstly, I was totally over it by Christmas. That time of year always means extra time in the kitchen, particularly as we have many family birthdays at the end of the year. By the time I had baked for birthdays, break-ups and Christmas itself, I’d had enough.

Then we went away for a week on holidays.

The week we got back we had a record heatwave with five days of temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius. I don’t turn an oven on when it’s over 35.

Then we went camping. Followed by some more hot weather.

However, it is now week 3 of the school year and I can tell my children are desperate for something home-baked.

I could no longer ignore the guilt, so I switched on the oven and got to work.

Within no time, I had made a carrot cake, blueberry pancakes and one of their favourite chocolate slices.

And during that time a kind of peace and contentment settled upon me. Out of the kitchen window I saw a young mum and her toddler playing in the park, and I thought about how good it is to do things for your kids —  with no timelines or agendas, other than the fact that they would like you to.

What started out as an act to relieve my guilt turned out to be something more therapeutic. I was reminded again, how much I love to bake.

I also learned a few lessons:

  • It’s good to take your time with things — sometimes, taking time with things is what you need to do, in order for them to turn out properly.
  • Sometimes, hazarding a guess is not conducive to the outcome you desire. Sometimes you need accuracy, precision and a set, proven formula.
  • There is a natural order to things — including the part where you wait for the end result, with a cup of coffee in hand.
  • There is joy and contentment to be found by focusing on one task at a time, rather than multi-tasking in your head and thinking about the next thing that needs to be done.
  • Sometimes you need to do something simply because it will bring pleasure to others. More often than not, you will get pleasure out of it too.
One of my favourite pics of my two kids in the kitchen. This was taken a number of years ago now, though.

One of my favourite pics of my two kids in the kitchen. This was taken a number of years ago now, before they were old enough to go to school. However, it still brings a smile to my face.

This afternoon my kids came home from school. They didn’t ask if I’d baked them anything. Perhaps they had given up on the whole idea.

However, when they walked into the kitchen and saw the containers on the kitchen bench their faces lit up.

Cries of “Ooooh, what’s this?” and “You’ve been cooking!” echoed around the family room.

So this afternoon, after they had washed their hands and unpacked their bags, they joyously sat down to some home-made goodness.

And there were three of us with smiles on our faces.

Nerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

What happened to Ian Thorpe is none of our business

if you can't be kind be quietAs I sit here and write this, I am feeling angry. Very angry.

One of our Olympic heroes is suffering from an illness, and yet the media (and the general public), are busy surmising ‘what went wrong’ and ‘how did he get into such a mess’?

Quite frankly, nothing went wrong. He is sick.

When people get cancer, no one asks them, ‘what went wrong?’

When people are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, no one asks them, ‘what did you do to get yourself into this situation?’

Certainly, their medical issues are not splashed all over the television, newspapers and internet.

There are two things wrong in this situation. Actually, there are more than two things, but I will only mention the two that I find most offensive.

Firstly, the stigma associated with mental health issues has to stop. NOW!

I am no expert in mental health issues, but having suffered from several depressive episodes, I feel I am (slightly) qualified to speak.

Mental illness is a very complex set of conditions. According to the Black Dog Institute, the most common are anxiety, depression and substance use disorder, with almost half (45%) of Australians experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime.

Yet these conditions still have such stigma attached to them. The Mental Health Foundation of Australia lists the following as common stigmas attached to mental illness:

  • Mental illness is rare and doesn’t affect average people
  • People with mental illness are dangerous
  • If you have a mental illness you can ‘will’ it away
  • Needing treatment means you are weak or have failed in some way
  • People with mental illness are receiving treatment
  • Mental illness is more like a weakness than a real illness
  • People with mental illness can never be normal.

All of the above are myths. Mental illness affects more people than you know. Statistically, almost half the people you know will suffer from this condition in their lifetime. Yet sadly, only 20 per cent of people with mental illnesses seek treatment

Why is this? More than 20 per cent of people seek treatment for diabetes. More than 20 per cent seek help for heart disease — and more often than not, these are conditions that are caused by living an unhealthy lifestyle. Where is the stigma attached to that?

Why, do we not call people who have directly contributed to their own illnesses (such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.), lazy, fat and irresponsible? Why don’t we ask them ‘what went wrong with your life?’. ‘Why are you so weak, you have let this happen to you?’ Why don’t we talk about them behind closed doors?

Why don’t we ridicule them and pity them, and make them feel like losers who can’t keep their life together?

It is a disgrace that in this day and age, when we so freely accept many things, we still cannot accept that depression, anxiety or the host of other mental illnesses are just that — illnesses.

Is it any wonder that people are loathe to seek help.

In the case of Ian Thorpe, I am sure that many people, both in Australia and around the world genuinely wish the best for him. I am sure that most of us hope he makes a full recovery and is able to find happiness and fulfilment in whatever he chooses to do in life.

Yet there is a side of many of us that wants to know ‘the inside scoop’. What really went wrong?

Are all the rumours true?

This is the second major thing that is wrong with all of this. It really is none of our business. Full stop. Do you hear me? NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

Sure Thorpe was, and continues to be to some extent, in the public eye. He was one of Australia’s most successful swimmers having won five Olympic gold medals, the greatest total of any Australian. He has broken numerous world records and has won gold medals in many swim meets. Along the way, he won the hearts of millions.

In 2012, he published his autobiography This is Me, in which he admitted to suffering from depression and alcohol abuse for many years prior to his retirement from swimming. He stated that after a secret meeting with a doctor to discuss his depressive and suicidal thoughts, he ‘felt as if I now had a secret and no one to share it with’.

Yet ironically, since sharing his secret, he no longer has the privacy he needs to recover.

Tabloid reports last week surfaced that he was battling depression and alcohol abuse. Reports that Thorpe and his manager denied. His alleged admittance to a rehabilitation clinic publicised for all to see.

As a former sufferer of depression, I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling either, nor how I was trying to deal with it. Having it broadcast to the world would have been mortifying in the extreme. Not to mention how unhelpful it would have been.

Thorpe’s manager, James Erskine admitted that such media reports were not helpful. “There is no doubt about it, the false reports did upset him. I’m not saying it sent him in a downward spiral but it did upset him. He didn’t go to rehab. That’s the truth. Everyone has to give him some space,” he says.

And Erskine is right. He needs space. His family need space. His friends need space, and the people treating him need space.

This is not an opportunity for journalists to delve into his ‘psyche’. The only ones allowed to delve into his psyche would be his medical team who are trying to treat him. Last time I checked, they will do that in a private manner. So anything you may read in the papers is probably not true.

What’s seems to be wrong with reporting in this country (and in many others), is that the ‘public’s right to know’ is treated too liberally.

I’m sorry, but the general public really don’t have a right to know about the private medical issues of a fellow Australian, whether he is well-known or not. Not unless, the person in question has made a public statement. To date, Thorpe has not made a statement about recent events.

If the names of convicted paedophiles and sexual predators can be protected (and don’t get me started on this one!), then why not the private lives of our fellow human beings?

It seems to me, that when there are stories to be written, money to be made and gossip to sell, common decency and respect go out the window.

A well-known journalist who names criminals convicted on sex crimes against children is held in contempt of court and goes to jail. I would have thought that this kind of information was more in line with the ‘public’s right to know’, than Thorpe’s battle with depression.

So if you really care about Ian Thorpe (and thousands of other Australians who suffer from mental illness), and genuinely wish the best for him, I ask you to do the following:

  • Wish him well
  • Pray for him and his family (if you are the praying type)
  • Don’t pity him — pity is not something depressed people like to have thrown their way
  • Stop reading the stories about him and his condition
  • Stop gossiping about him with the people you meet
  • Avoid buying the magazines that will claim to have the ‘inside scoop’
  • Make a donation to the organisations that are fighting the war against depression.

But most importantly, if you are feeling down, or anxious and suspect that you may be feeling depressed, please seek help.

Beyond Blue
Phone: 1300 22 4636

13 11 14

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

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