DIY: My Second Attempt (Lavender Bath-Soak).

Need a quick gift idea? Or just looking for a simple self-care remedy?
Try this!

DIY/diːʌɪˈwʌɪ/noun

Abbreviation for: do-it-yourself:

The activity of decorating, building, and making repairs at home by oneself rather than employing a professional.

‘DIY avoids the difficult relationship between householder and professional decorator.’

Who’s up for round two?!

Okay, so I know I only just did a DIY post on the planters (see here).

But I really wanted to share another DIY project I did at the same time: Homemade Bath-Soak in cute little jars.

I decided to make Bath-Soak for a couple of reasons:

1. It seemed super easy; &

2. It’s a cliche, but timeless gift idea

And if truth be told, I was running out of ideas on what to get individual people.

I settled on the following sites for inspiration, which I found by roaming around on Google and Pinterest:

MY INSPIRATION CAME FROM:

Source: https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/lavender-bath-salts/

I didn’t really know where to start when I started looking at making Bath Soak, so I just started Googling and roaming around on Pinterest until I found something I liked.

Soap Queen’s Lavender recipe and method seemed relatively straightforward and manageable, which was great for someone like me.

Although everything was in Imperial measurements, Soap Queen’s step-by-step page was a great starting point for me.

Soap Queen also had a similar recipe, but for Rose Bath Salt, which I also sussed out.

I decided to stick with Lavender, because I wanted to use Essential Oils rather than Fragrance Oils (as they’re much better for you), and Rose Essential Oil is quite pricey.

The Spruce Crafts kind of confirmed to me that there are really only a few ingredients needed for Bath Soaks and Salts, and that less is more.

This website recommended using food colouring, but I decided against that for my final recipe, as I didn’t want any of it transferred to my family and friends’ bodies.

I really liked this website in general, as it has so many cute DIY projects – I’ll definitely be visiting again to get some new ideas!

And with that, I got started!

LAVENDER BATH-SOAK RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup of Pure Epsom Bath Salts

1 Cup of Pink Himalayan Rock Salt

1 Tablespoon of Bi-Carbonate Soda

1/2 Cup of Dried Lavender

20 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

10 Drops of Peppermint Essential Oil

*Simply mix these ingredients into a bowl and you’ll have roughly 630g of Bath Soak.

WHAT?

WHERE?

HOW MUCH?

Much like my Planter Pot project, I wanted to keep the cost of my DIY Bath Soak down as much as possible.

I wanted this Bath Soak to be as luxurious, organic and simple as possible – without costing an arm and a leg.

The best thing about this recipe is that it can be changed to suit your needs – simply adding different essential oils, salt-types and petals can give it a completely new look.

The below gives you an idea of how much individual products are – you may already have some of these at home (like I did), which is great!

WHATWHEREHOW MUCH
Salts&CO. Pure Epsom Bath Salts 1.5kgCostco/ Nocelle Foods$10
SAXA Natural Pink Himalayan Rock Salt 500g (x2)Coles$4 ea
McKenzies Bi-Carbonate Soda 500gColes$2.40
Dried Lavender 500gIshka/ Happy Herbs/ N-Essentials$4 – $6
Lavender Essential Oil*DoTerra/ Ishka$25 – $30
Peppermint Essential Oil*DoTerra/ Ishka$20 – $30
Clip Lid Glass Jar Kmart$1 ea
*I use DoTerra Essential Oil (CPTG: Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade) which is pricier, however once bought, a bottle lasts a LONG time.

NOTE: The above table has a couple of options for those looking for cheaper alternatives/ similar products. The below breakdown is based on what it cost me personally – this might differ for some.

PRICE COMPARISON

NOTE: For those interested, below is a price break-down of everything I bought – this will obviously change depending on how much you plan on making… I made 12 jars and had roughly enough for 2 jars left over (I kept that separate and used it myself!).

In total, I bought: 12 jars from Kmart ($12), 1 bag of Epsom Salts ($10), 2 bags of Himalayan Salt ($8), 1 box of Bi-Carb Soda ($2.40), 2 packets of Dried Lavender ($8), 1 bottle of Lavender Essential Oil ($25) and 1 bottle of Peppermint Essential Oil ($25).

HOMEMADE BATH SOAKSTORE/ MARKET BOUGHT BATH SOAK
12 Jars = $90.4012 Jars (Average RRP of $15) = $180

This means the total price for each DIY jar came to half the price of store/ market bought bath soak, at $7.50 a jar. Stoked!

Finished Product:

NOTE: I decided to spruce my little jars up a bit – I didn’t really get many photos of them before I wrapped them for Christmas – but stickers, stamps and twine are always a good choice!

Australian Bushfire Crisis & Emergency Information.

Information true at the time of writing (31/01/2019 – 13:00).
*Updated 05/01/2020

Source: https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/12/photo-of-koala-and-firefighter-surrounded-by-flames-perfectly-captures-the-climate-emergency/

Now I know most people are usually working on New Year’s Resolutions in January – and I’m sure I will post something about this at a later date.

But right now, I want to take some time out to acknowledge the truly horrific bushfire season Australia is currently suffering from.

Fires of this intensity, size and duration are unprecedented, with Australia already seeing multiple fatalities and homes lost – and we’re only one month into summer.

Due to our record-low rainfall, soil moisture at all-time lows, and dry and windy conditions across the country, Australia is not set for relief any time soon.

At the time of writing (updated 05/01/2020), the losses are as follows:

Source: https://www.qbe.com/au/news/bushfire-danger-ratings-explained
STATEDEATHSMISSINGHOMES LOSTHECTARES (h) BURNED
NSW1701,365+ 3,600,000
ACT1000
QLD0045 220,000
SA4075 155,000
TAS001 24,000
VIC26178 825,000
WA001 283,020
TOTAL:24 61,516+6,300,000
See bottom of page for a list of Sources.

Do You Have A Bushfire Survival Plan?

There are a lot of questions surrounding why Australia is currently experiencing such a horrific bushfire season, and what is going to be done to contain this.

But as the country gears up for what is looking to be like an historic bushfire season, my question to you is this:

Do you have a Bushfire Survival Plan?

All states have a Fire Service with available information regarding Survival Plans – and it is worth being prepared.

Bushfire Warnings:

The best way to keep updated is to follow, subscribe and check your state Fire Service – they will usually have the most up-to-date information available.

You can also find out your area’s ABC radio frequency – ABC is the official emergency broadcaster in South Australia and many other states.

This may help if you don’t have access to your phone or internet.

What Is Being Done:

As of December, Australia has declared a ‘State of Emergency’ in New South Wales, granting powers to the NSW RFS Commissioner – meaning they can now allocate government resources and direct agencies to take immediate action regarding the crisis.

In New South Wales, where the country has been hit the hardest, there are over 2,000 firefighters working to gain control of the fires – along with aid from the US, Canada and New Zealand being sent in.

The Australian Defence Force has also been deployed, including Naval vessels, Airforce crafts and Army personnel to help with search-and-rescue, firefighting and clean-up efforts.

Multiple GoFundMe and Facebook Fundraiser pages have been set up to help ordinary people donate (Megastar P!nk even donated $500,000), including Celeste Barber’s fundraiser, which has raised over $16 million at the time of writing (05/01/2020).

Climate Change & The Bushfire Crisis:

Whether or not you believe in Climate Change or not, I think we can all agree that these bushfires aren’t normal. If you don’t believe in Climate Change, feel free to skip this section – but it is still something I want to touch on.

I thought I would simply share some of the key findings of the Climate Council’s briefing paper, titled ‘This is Not Normal‘ – and you can all do what you like with that information.

NUMBER ONE:

The catastrophic, unprecedented fire conditions currently affecting New South Wales and Queensland have been aggravated by climate change.

Bushfire risk was exacerbated by record breaking drought, very dry fuels and soils, and record breaking heat.

NUMBER TWO:

Bushfire conditions are now more dangerous than in the past.

The risks to people and property have increased and fire seasons have lengthened. It is becoming more dangerous to fight fires in Australia.

NUMBER THREE:

The fire season has lengthened so substantially that it has already reduced opportunities for fuel reduction burning.

This means it is harder to prepare for worsening conditions.

NUMBER FOUR:

The costs of fighting fires are increasing.

Australia relies on resource sharing arrangements between countries and states and territories within Australia.

As seasons overlap and fires become more destructive, governments will be increasingly constrained in their ability to share resources ad the costs of tackling fires will increase.

NUMBER FIVE:

The government must develop an urgent plan to:

(1) prepare Australian communities, health and emergency services for escalating fire danger; and

(2) rapidly phase out the burning of coal and gas which is driving more dangerous fires.

But most importantly:

Please stay safe. Have a plan. Talk to your loved ones about it. Keep your property clear of anything that can fuel a bushfire. Check the warnings and know when to leave, before it’s too late.

Nothing is more important than the lives of you and your family.

Sources For Above Table:

DIY: My First Attempt (Planter Pots).

A cute, affordable and fun DIY project – these planter pots make the perfect gifts for any occasion!

DIY/diːʌɪˈwʌɪ/noun

Abbreviation for: do-it-yourself:

The activity of decorating, building, and making repairs at home by oneself rather than employing a professional.

‘DIY avoids the difficult relationship between householder and professional decorator.’

DIY Projects never really appealed to the laziness in me. However, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try.

For those of you who know me, you’ll know that my partner is obsessed with plants. We even have a walk-in greenhouse in our house’s sun-room.

So while I was watching him tend to his plants one morning, I had a great idea for a DIY Project/ Christmas Gift Idea.

Why not make some pretty pots for all those pretty plants?

So I started Googling ideas for DIY pot plants, to get some ideas. I found so many amazing DIY ideas, but I am a rookie, so I started filtering out some of the harder looking projects and opted for something more ‘beginner-friendly’.

I settled on the following sites for inspiration, which I found via Pinterest and a few blogs (see below):

MY INSPIRATION CAME FROM:

This was a site that I found really helpful, as it had a list of all the materials I would need, plus a step-by-step guide (very handy for those who have not used a hot-glue gun since Kindergarten).

I chose this kind of style for my pots, because I think they look super beachy and they give off a real hand-made, ‘market’ type of vibe.

Although I chose slightly different lettering etc., this was a really awesome guide for me to stick to.

The next thing I needed on my DIY journey was a bit of ‘plant pun’ inspiration.

I wanted to find some cute little plant related quotes for the pots (Pinterest delivered the goods!) and get some ideas on different lettering.

This little blog page really helped me to start thinking of my own puns and quotes.

The last source of inspiration is a local business in Adelaide, South Australia (where I live). Unfortunately, they have decided to close their business for a while and focus on personal things.

A few of my old work colleagues had pot plants from Rub a Dub Shrub, and the plants always looked so nice in their offices!

I’ve also seen these guys around at local markets etc., and really loved the designs and puns they came up with.

And with that, I got started!

WHAT?

WHERE?

HOW MUCH?

So for me, a really big part of this project was to keep the cost down – I wanted to make some really cute presents for Christmas and birthday gifts, without it costing me a fortune and defeating the purpose.

I wanted these pot plants to be cheaper to make than it would be to go to the market and purchase something similar.

WHAT

Terracotta Pots

Spray Paint

Twine/ Jute Rope

Hot Glue Gun

Glue Gun Refills

Stamp Set

Clear Coat Spray

Plants

WHERE

Bunnings

Bunnings

K-mart

K-mart

K-mart

K-mart

Bunnings

Cuttings from Partner

HOW MUCH

$1.60 ea

$12.88

$4 ea

$8

$3 ea

$8

$17.98

Free

PRICE COMPARISON:

In total, I bought 15 terracotta pots ($24), 2 cans of spray paint ($25.76), 2 rolls of twine ($8), 1 hot glue gun ($8), 3 glue gun refills ($9), 1 stamp set ($8) and 1 can of clear coat spray ($17.98).

So the total for 15 completed pots ended up being:

15 DIY/ HOMEMADE POTS:

TOTAL =

15 Home-made Pots:

$102.74

15 STORE BOUGHT POTS:

TOTAL =

15 x $27.95 (RRP Rub a Dub Shrub):

$419.25

That price comparison was crazy to me – the DIY pots ended up costing roughly $6.85 each to make. And they turned out very, very well (for a first-time DIYer, anyway)!

THE PROCESS:

STEP ONE:

Wash the pots, let them dry, and then spray paint them with the white paint.

My partner and I ended up putting down a plastic sheet and spraying all the pots on that – we gave them 2 coats of paint in the end, which seemed to work fine.

IDEA: You could always change up the colours, or create stenciled patterns if you were feeling creative – I went with plain white to accentuate the black lettering I was planning on using.

STEP TWO:

Use the hot glue gun to add the twine to the top lip of the pots.

I struggled at first with the glue gun and where to start with the twine, but after a bit of trial and error, managed to work it out and create something that looked reasonable.

TIP: Start the twine from the top of the lip, but don’t start from the inside of the top, or the pot will look wonky. Pull the twine tight as you go and try and push the twine together as much as possible, this helps lessen any gaps in between the twine.

STEP THREE:

After you’ve let the twine and glue set, you can then add the lettering.

I used a generic stamp set from K-mart, nothing fancy – with normal stamp ink.

I picked out some of the plant puns I liked and thought up a few different quotes to stamp onto the pots (see image).

TIP: Stamping can be a bit hit-and-miss in terms of getting the lettering straight etc., but I’ve found that having lettering that’s a little bit wonky can add to the ‘home-made’ touch. But if you’re really not happy with your stamping or have made a mistake, I found I could wipe off the ink with a tissue or earbud if it hadn’t dried yet!

STEP FOUR:

Clear-coat your pots.

I’m not sure if everyone does this, but I didn’t want to risk the ink on the sides of the pots running if someone watered their plants and accidentally spilled some.

I used the Boyle Gloss Spray Sealer.

Clear-coating/ sealing is a good thing to do anyway, as this will help protect the pots from weathering, ageing and wear and tear.

TIP: I used a few coats of the clear-coat on my pots – simply hold the can at around 30cm distance and spray all over – it doesn’t matter if you get some on the twine as it is colourless.

STEP FIVE:

Pot your plants.

I let my partner do this, as he is the expert when it comes to plants, but choosing the plants is completely up to you.

We put a variety of different plants in, such as Ivy, Aloe Vera and plants that I don’t know the names of (I’ll have to add them in another post).

IDEA: Succulents are a great idea for this, as they are hardy – so even your friends and family who aren’t ‘green-thumbs’ can enjoy a long-living plant. They’re also quite cheap (or you can get cuttings from someone’s garden for free). Plus there are plenty of succulent-related puns to pair them with!

STEP SIX:

Wrap/ decorate your finished product!

I decided it would be better not to fully wrap the plants, for obvious reasons, and decided to put a little bow on the pot instead, and pop them into Christmas ‘gift-bags’ I got from the Reject Shop (2-pack for $2.50).

It’s really up to you how you decide to wrap/decorate your pots – but there’s plenty of ideas on Pinterest – click here for some ideas.

Finished Product:

(Thanks to my sister Nikyta for taking some photos of the pots I gave her!)

Well, I did it – I finally finished my first DIY project! It was so much fun to have a creative outlet and be able to give them as gifts for Christmas.

Hopefully over the next couple of months I can try out a few other DIY ideas and share my results with you.

Let me know if you’ve done something similar, or try out the above – I’d love to see your results!

Logo

Done & Dusted!

University: Don’t Rush.

A bit of sound advice for those waiting on University Acceptance Letters.

There is a certain narrative that young people are sold these days: University is the only path to success.

We’re told that if we want to make a difference, we need to pack our bags and join the never-ending queue of people rushing to University straight after High School.

But I’m here to tell you that attending University is not the only way to succeed, and it certainly isn’t the only way to make a difference.

Opened Notebook With Three Assorted-color Pens

Please don’t get me wrong here – I am a firm believer in education. Without an educated society, we give in to ignorance.

But what I am saying is:

If you don’t know exactly what you want to do when you finish High School – University won’t magically enlighten you.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of rushing off to university with everyone else.

We’ve all heard the same old lines, over and over again:

‘University is the only way to make good money.’

‘No one will hire you without a degree these days.’

‘You’ll be stuck in this town forever if you don’t go to University.’

The trouble is, entering a degree straight from High-School is oftentimes not what we should be doing. We risk being put in a box, becoming disillusioned and regret going to University at all.

I’m not saying everyone will have this issue – some people know exactly what they want to do for a career and enter University with confidence that they know where their future is headed – and that’s absolutely fine!

Question Mark Illustration

But when I was in High-School, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I was told by my teachers to fill out a University Application like everyone else, and put some preferences down.

I chose Nutrition, Art, Law and Psychology as my preferences.

My choices were based on what I thought everyone else would want me to do, because I was young, impressionable and everyone expected me to go to University. I really had no concept of how big of a decision a degree was.

I was a bright student, and got accepted into Law School a couple of months later.

But I had never studied anything to do with Law before, and had chosen the topic because I thought it would be ‘cool’ and that my Dad would be ‘proud’.

I didn’t choose Law because I had a career in mind.

I struggled my way through three years of Law School, because I didn’t want to let my friends and family down. I felt guilty for going off to University and not liking what I was studying.

I had poor grades, I hated my degree and had realized my passion lay elsewhere – I wanted to help vulnerable children and young people.

It wasn’t until 3rd year that I had realised I hated Law School and had never wanted to be a lawyer – I was just caught up in the hype of going to University.

It was this sudden realization that made me switch into Psychology instead.

I enjoyed my Psychology studies, but I was already three years into University, and was becoming more and more depressed and regretful – I had wasted 3 years of my life studying something I never truly cared about.

I kept thinking: ‘If I had done Psychology to begin with, I would have graduated by now…’

This mindset led to me becoming miserable and resentful of going to University at all – plus by this stage in my life, I was in my 20’s, had bills, a job and plenty of personal issues that distracted me from studying.

Boy in Brown Hoodie Carrying Red Backpack While Walking on Dirt Road Near Tall Trees

I ended up dropping my studies.

I contacted my University a year later and asked if there was anything I could do, or any qualification that I could attain from the University, considering how long I had studied for.

The University offered me an Associate Degree for the amount of topics I studied – basically the equivalent of an Advanced Diploma (which would have only taken me 2 years at TAFE).

I graduated in 2017 with an Associate Degree (I began University study in 2011). I didn’t attend graduation because I was ashamed and felt I had failed myself and my family. I then spent 5 years in different industries, gaining valuable life experience, before I ever even used my Associate’s Degree for anything. To me, it was just a bit of paper that reminded me I could have been much more successful than I currently was.

Luckily, an opportunity arose, and the Associate Degree was enough for me to obtain work in the field I have now realized I have a passion for: Youth Support Work.

Flat Lay Photography of Notebook, Pen, and Drafting Compass

I have now been working as a Youth Support Worker for over 6 months, and enjoy every moment of it.

I work with vulnerable young people who are wards of the State and have a relationship with a range of people from different organisations and the Department of Child Protection.

It is only now, 9 years later, that I have finally decided that if I go back to University, it will be to do Social Work – something I am passionate about.

For a long time, I felt I had achieved nothing but accumulate a large student-loan debt and a waste a lot of years studying something I didn’t even care about.

And although my journey was long, twisted and had lots of bumps, I finally found something I would be willing to go back to study for, and for that I am grateful. I have long-since let go of my resentment.

But more importantly, what I wish for everyone getting their High-School grades soon and receiving their University offers is this:

Don’t rush. Take time to know who you are and what you want to do before you jump straight into a degree.

And don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for doing it.

Miscarriages of Justice on Adelaide’s Doorstep.

While high-profile cases that are printed in the media are crucial in highlighting and educating the public on issues such as false confessions, misleading evidence, wrongful convictions and malicious prosecution, it would be incorrect to assume these particular cases are exceptional or uncommon.

When we think of ‘Miscarriages of Justice’, our minds immediately float to cases like the ‘Central Park 5’ or Brendan Dassey and Stephen Avery from Netflix’s ‘Making a Murderer’ documentary.

Thanks to platforms like Netflix, Social Media and Innocence Project initiatives, the public is more informed than ever when it comes to Miscarriages of Justice.

In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in such cases – Netflix has an ever-expanding library on the topic, with titles such as:

Source: https://www.netflix.com/au/title/80200549
‘When They See Us’ – A Netflix Documentary Series based on The Central Park 5
Source: https://www.netflix.com/au/title/80000770
‘Making a Murderer’ – A Netflix Documentary Series based on Stephen Avery and Brendan Dassey

And while high-profile cases that are printed in the media are crucial in highlighting and educating the public on issues such as false confessions, misleading evidence, wrongful convictions and malicious prosecution, it would be incorrect to assume these particular cases are exceptional or uncommon.

In fact, Miscarriages of Justice are more common than you might think.

There have been a number of cases across Australia in recent years which have amounted to Miscarriages of Justice, including: Lindsay and Michael Chamberlain, whose baby went missing at Uluru; Gordon Wood, whose partner was found at the bottom of a notorious suicide spot in Sydney; and closer to home, Henry Keogh from Adelaide, whose partner was found dead in the bathtub.

All of these cases were found to have amounted to a Miscarriage of Justice, and although the total number of innocent people convicted of crimes can never be fully known, Civil Liberties Australia estimate 7% of all people convicted of crimes are innocent.

Now 7% may shock you, or it may not.

But if we’re talking about 10,000 prisoners, that means 700 of them are serving time for a crime they did not commit.

That’s a lot of cases, a lot of people, a lot of suffering families, and a big problem for the Australian Legal System. The University of Cincinnati Law Review published an article written by Lynne Weathered in 2012, which outlines the fascinating way in which Australia’s (generally modern) Legal System seems to fall drastically behind in regards to wrongful convictions.

Weathered is co-founder and Director of the Griffith University Innocence Project, and believes that although there are many reasons why a Miscarriage of Justice may occur – acknowledging flaws in the Justice System does not necessarily undermine it, but opens up opportunities for reform.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-09/calls-for-royal-commission-in-wake-of-high-court-ruling/9131598
Dr Colin Manock (ABC News)

This is a view backed by other experts in the field, such as Dr Bob Moles, who has been heavily involved in Miscarriages of Justice cases all over the world, including Adelaide, Australia.

He and Associate Professor, Bibi Sangha from Flinders University are especially interested in the State of South Australia’s several failings in regards to their former Chief Forensic Pathologist, Dr Colin Manock.

Dr Manock performed thousands of autopsies and testified in hundreds of court cases in South Australia – after the state declared that he wasn’t competent to certify the cause of death.

Ms Sangha and Dr Moles said:

‘…question marks now hang over a substantial number of criminal cases in which Manock appeared as a scientific expert, as well as casting doubt on the findings of the thousands of autopsies he conducted.’

Dr Bob Moles is calling for a Royal Commission into the matter, after Henry Keogh’s conviction was overturned in 2014, after spending 20 years in prison after being convicted of drowning his fiancee in the bathtub.

The Court of Criminal Appeal found there had been a Miscarriage of Justice due to flawed evidence provided by discredited forensic pathologist Dr Colin Manock. Two new experts, Professor Derrick John Pounder and Dr Matthew Joseph Lynch found that Dr Manock’s evidence was flawed.

In the judgment, it was found that:

‘…Both [experts] agree that there is nothing in the autopsy findings to exclude the probability that Ms Cheney’s death was a drowning in the bath following a fall and a head injury which rendered her unconscious…’

Twenty years is a long time to sit in prison for a crime you didn’t commit – which begs the question: are there more innocent people sitting in prison because of the evidence of Dr Colin Manock?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. One such case, which is currently before the courts, is that of Mr Derek Bromley.

Derek Bromley, an Indigenous Adelaide man, was convicted of the murder of Stephen Docoza in 1984, based on the evidence of Dr Colin Manock, much the same as Henry Keogh.

http://netk.net.au/BromleyHome.asp
Derek Bromley (Networked Knowledge)

As stated on Dr Bob Moles’ website, ‘Networked Knowledge‘, Bromley completed his non-parole period in 2008, but has not been released, as he maintains his innocence.

For a prisoner to be released, they must admit their wrongdoings and display their remorse, proving their rehabilitation – something someone who is innocent cannot do.

Derek Bromley has been in prison for 35 years – making him one of Australia’s longest serving prisoners.

Bromley’s case is due back before the courts in the coming months, with supporters keen to see his conviction thrown out:

Some may still question whether or not there is a possibility that Bromley may have committed the crime for which he was convicted, despite the botched evidence from Dr Manock. Regardless, Bromley has served more time than people convicted of much more horrendous crimes, who have long-since been released because they have admitted to what they have done.

But for an innocent man who refuses to admit to a crime he did not commit, he must stay in prison.

Some might also question why Bromley would not just admit to the crime, and therefore potentially be released on parole?

So let me ask you:

Would you admit to a crime that you did not commit?

If you would like to learn more about Derek Bromley’s case, or find out more about Miscarriages of Justice, head to:

*There is also a link at the bottom of my blog to Networked Knowledge, a page (and the people behind it) that I am proud to support in the continual search for justice, not only locally, but world-wide.

Working With Young People: 5 Lessons I’ve Learned.

It’s been about 5 months since I started my journey as a Support Worker, but I really wanted to write about some of the things I’ve learned along the way, and how it has helped me become better at my job.

Mid-way through this year, I decided to change the trajectory of my life by switching into a career supporting young people who are under the Guardianship of the Minister (in State care). This is something I have always wanted to do, and I had the qualifications to do it – but never took the leap into the field – preferring stable, (boring) but reliable full-time employment instead.

Working with young people has always appealed to me, given my own background and experiences, which involved drugs, neglect, homelessness, transience and custody disputes between parents. But even though I have had those experiences in the past, each day is entirely different, and nothing can fully prepare you for the wide range of things you hear, experience and see while on shift.*

Assorted-color Alphabet

It’s been about 5 months since I started my journey as a Support Worker, but I really wanted to write about some of the things I’ve learned along the way, and how it has helped me become better at my job.

* Obviously, client confidentiality is of utmost importance when it comes to working with young people, so there will be no mention of names or specific locations etc. in this post.

Keep An Open Mind.


Top View Of Assorted Colored Stones in Wooden Containers

Sometimes people forget that young people in care are just like everyone else their age.

They have dreams, fears, failures and successes, just like you and me – all of which should be nurtured and celebrated.

One of the most valuable things I learned in my training was this:

Change the word attention to connection.

If a young person is exhibiting ‘attention seeking’ behaviours, try seeing those behaviours as ‘connection seeking’ instead.

Young people don’t always know how to express their feelings and fears, or ask for help and encouragement when they desperately need it – and sometimes this can seem like they’re being ‘attention seeking’ or being ‘naughty’ or ‘disruptive’.

Next time you notice a young person exhibiting some interesting behaviours, ask yourself: ‘is this young person seeking connection?’ rather than writing them off as being annoying or naughty, and chances are, you’ll get a better response.

Educate Your Friends & Family.


One of the saddest and most frustrating things I’ve encountered since becoming a Support Worker is the negative reaction of my peers when I tell them I work with young people in care.

There is an automatic stigma associated with these children, which sticks to them like glue, no matter how hard they try to get it off, and society’s attitude doesn’t help.

It is something worth highlighting, because these children are just that – children. People automatically stick their noses up, have an opinion or see these children as criminals before they consider giving them a chance to prove them wrong.

Young people end up in care for a variety of reasons, and it is never their fault. Some of them have parents who are unfit to care for them due to addiction, neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Neon Signage

Some are orphaned and have no other family. Some end up in foster care, but are given back when their behaviour deteriorates due to their trauma. Some have intellectual disabilities that their parents don’t want to deal with. Some are refugees. There are hundreds of reasons children end up in care.

Oftentimes, people look at children in care as lesser than other children. But for me, I look to these children for inspiration. Their resilience is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. These young people have suffered adversity and still try their very best, each day – whatever that may look like. And it’s worth remembering and acknowledging.

Expect The Unexpected.


Photography of Green and Red Fire Works Display

If you think you’ve seen everything, you haven’t.

Each shift I work is entirely different. One day I’ll be looking after a toddler, the next day I might be looking after a teenager, or a house full of siblings. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s to never go into a shift with any expectation about how it’s going to go.

I’ve had to clean walls covered in drawings. I’ve wiped poop from walls and hands. I’ve had to follow a kid around in a mini-van trying to convince them to get back in the car after they ran off. I’ve had to call the police, clean wet bed-sheets and listen to music that has so many swear words my brain ends up hurting.

But even more importantly, there are bright, shining, heart-warming moments that I never expected.

I got to be the person to take a child to their first day of school. I’ve had open and honest conversations with young people that have helped me grow as a person. I got taught how to make cold rolls (I always wanted to learn!), I’ve danced around the room with children and teenagers and high-fived toddlers when they realise they haven’t wet the bed.

I’ve seen milestones, birthdays, sad days and happy days, and I’ve seen firsthand just how wonderful, bright and resilient these young people can be.

Never assume you know it all. We truly know nothing. All we can do is expect the unexpected.

Don’t Underestimate Young People.


Silhouette Photo of Man Throw Paper Plane

Many people underestimate young people – even those not in care. But young people aren’t stupid. They’ll know if you’re talking about them – because it happens every day of their life.

They know when you’re being genuine – because they’ve had so many different carers before you.

Young people are in care for a variety of different reasons, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they can tell who has their best interests at heart and who doesn’t.

The young people that I work with also know all of the things they’re allowed and not allowed to do – and sometimes they use this to their advantage – especially if you’re new.

This isn’t something to worry about, generally – most of the things the young people try to get away with, we’ve all tried as a kid. They’ll try and push their bed-times, get extra dessert or negotiate their curfews – all normal kid-type things to do.

The bottom line is that children and young people, no matter who they are or where they live, will test limits and push boundaries. It’s completely normal and to be expected. This is all part of growing up and seeing who sticks around – even when we make mistake or play up.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes.


Putting yourself in the shoes of a vulnerable young person can sometimes be hard, especially if you were lucky enough to have had a relatively ‘normal’ or ‘safe’ upbringing.

I find that the best way for me to truly empathise with the young people I work with is to ask myself:

‘Given the circumstances, what would I have done at their age?’

Now this might be difficult if you don’t know the full story. In which case, ask yourself:

‘Do I know enough about this young person to be judging their behaviour?’

Either way, it is helpful to remember these questions when dealing with behaviour that might seem risky, aggressive or otherwise upsetting behaviour.

For example:

Person in Blue Jeans And White Sneakers Standing On Metal Railings

If you had been forced to live off of scraps for most of your life and didn’t know when your next meal would be, wouldn’t you, as a young person, hoard food or steal it where you could, so you felt safe and knew you wouldn’t starve?

If you had grown up in a house where drugs and alcohol were normalized, wouldn’t you, as a young person in a new living environment, have trouble understanding what is safe and what isn’t?

If you, as a young person, had been physically beaten or emotionally abused when you had arguments with your family, want to run away every time you have an argument with someone, so you don’t get hurt?

These may be confronting scenarios, but they are incredibly real.

There is almost always a reason behind why someone does something – even as we mature into adults. We need to be able to see some situations from the perspective of the young people in order to connect with them and find ways to help them.

For more content, see below:

Top Talks (#8): Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong – Johann Hari

Welcome to week eight of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

Hello there!

Welcome to week eight of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

I am a strong believer in continuous improvement – which to me, means finding and listening to people who have an array of different values, beliefs and ideas, and sharing them with others!

So…

WHO IS JOHANN HARI?

Johann Hari is a published author, with his two books ‘Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope‘ and ‘Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs‘ making the New York Times Best-Sellers List.

Hari graduated from Cambridge University, studying Social and Political Services. He has written for many major newspapers, including The Huffington Post and The Independent.

Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=johann+hari&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GB&sxsrf=ACYBGNTN15NdLqZDWZmiNc6IK9wv1ct_zw:1568709134800&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj68fD1uNfkAhUa7nMBHajYBTkQ_AUIEigB&biw=1366&bih=576#imgrc=CuN5ykD6Q2dxtM:

Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong – Johann Hari

What I got out of this ‘Top Talk’:

Johann Hari’s TED Talk was significant for me. I have experienced first hand how easy it is to fall into a vicious cycle of addiction, and have watched loved ones suffer the consequences. Addiction is something that anyone can fall victim to, and it has a domino effect on the people trying to support, help or even find empathy for someone who is struggling with dependency-related issues.

There have been countless news articles, reports and studies on drug epidemics in all corners of the world, from crack cocaine, methamphetamine and more controversially (and prevalent), prescription medication. Johann Hari highlights some of the ideas we potentially need to unlearn about addiction, as well as shedding light on some of the reasons people become drug-dependent.

Woman Covering Face Through Hands Sitting on Bed

THE IDEA IN OUR HEADS OF ‘ADDICTS’ NEEDS TO CHANGE

Sometimes it’s easy to pass drug-addicted people off as ‘junkies’, ‘low-lives’, ‘bludgers’ or ‘criminals’. While these words can be used to describe some people suffering from addiction, it would be incorrect to assume this is the majority. In fact, it is far more common for people to be addicted to prescription medication than to banned illicit substances. And although it is appealing to write off all addicts as a waste of space, punish them, send them to jail and let society make them suffer to serve as a deterrent, Hari offers an insight into why that makes the issue worse, rather than better.

Hari suggests that addiction shouldn’t even be called addiction at all. He delved into the idea that perhaps the ‘chemical hooks’ we’re used to hearing about that cause addiction aren’t actually there.

Hari gives the example of war veterans who used heroin daily during combat, then coming home and not being addicts. Or, closer to home, how your grandma may have hip surgery and take heavy medication (stronger and purer than heroin you find on the streets) for the pain for long periods of time, but not become an addict.

So if ‘chemical hooks’ were real, why isn’t my grandma an addict? She’s had more joint replacements in her 98 years on Earth than most people I know. And that was the question scientists asked too. And it has more to do with our environment than anything else.

Hari speaks about Professor Bruce Alexander, and the experiment he conducted to prove his point. In the experiment, a rat is placed in a cage and given two water bottles – one with water, one with cocaine or heroin. The rat almost always chooses the drug-laced water, slowly killing itself.

But then, the professor conducted the same experiment, except this time he placed lots of fun things for the rat to do in its cage – toys to play with, cheese to eat, tunnels etc. and most importantly, the rat has friends. And in this cage, the rats almost never drink the drug-water.

Hari suggests that addiction is about your ‘cage’. He suggest that addiction should be called bonding. Humans have a desire to bond – usually with each other. But when we are lonely, isolated and marginalized, we bond with other things that make us feel better. Like gambling, pornography or drugs.

WHAT DOES MY ‘CAGE’ LOOK LIKE?

The second thing this talk did for me was make me look around at my ‘cage’. What was I bonded to? What made me feel better? And it became crystal clear to me that ‘addiction’ as a word doesn’t shine light on the loneliness of people’s lives in the same way that other words like ‘bonding’ do.

Where human bonds fail, artificial bonds form.

Wire Mesh

The rise in drug use mirrors the rise in loneliness expressed by so many people, implicitly and explicitly. The people seeking affirmation in the form of ‘likes’ on Facebook. The amount of time people spend trying to look richer, thinner, stronger and smarter than others – all at the cost of real human connection.

Disconnection is everywhere we look. So who are we turning away, labeling them as ‘addicts’, instead of offering connection? Are there people in your life that are seeking connection in an unhealthy form – and if so – are you offering a healthier one?

… the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.

Johann Hari

Top Talks (#7): Why Teens Confess to Crimes They Didn’t Commit – Lindsay Taylor

Welcome to week seven of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

Hello there!

Welcome to week seven of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

I am a strong believer in continuous improvement – which to me, means finding and listening to people who have an array of different values, beliefs and ideas, and sharing them with others!

I apologize that this is a week late – I’ll be uploading two this week to catch up.

So…

WHO IS LINDSAY MALLOY?

Dr. Lindsay Malloy is an Associate Professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa (Canada).

Lindsay has a PhD in Psychology and Social Behaviour at the University of California, and has devoted her career to investigating the Youth Justice System and Vulnerable Youth.

Lindsay is also a columnist for ‘Behavioural Science’, where she has written about false confessions given by teenagers, with a co-author (Andrea Arndorfer).

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fiu/30913572962

Why Teens Confess to Crimes They Didn’t Commit – Lindsay Taylor

What I got out of this ‘Top Talk’.

This TED Talk was incredibly interesting to me. I have always had a keen interest in false confessions (yes, I watched ‘The Confession Tapes‘ and ‘Making a Murderer‘) as well as also having a personal interest in wrongful convictions, which stemmed from my time in Law School (more on that in a later article – but see Dr. Bob Moles’ page, ‘Networked Knowledge‘, if you are interested in the meantime).

Innocent people can often end up spending the rest of their lives in prison, or face death row in some countries, all because of evidence (such as a false confession) that isn’t used or interpreted correctly. False confessions are a huge issue, as well as testimony from ‘experts in the field’ who are biased to the state and also unreliable witness testimony.

Question Mark Illustration

WHY WOULD SOMEONE CONFESS TO SOMETHING THEY DIDN’T DO?

It sounds almost ridiculous to think of ourselves admitting to a crime we didn’t commit. But as Dr. Lindsay points out, in over 25% of overturned wrongful convictions, false confessions occurred.

False confessions are even more prevalent among juveniles/young people. In one study, Dr. Lindsay says that only 8% of adults confessed to something they hadn’t done, but 42% of juveniles had admitted to it. That’s a staggering number.

Juveniles are far more susceptible to influence, such as accusation or interrogation. Adult and juvenile brains are not alike, with juveniles still developing areas of the brain associated with self-control, decision making and sensitivity to reward vs risk – among a plethora of other things. This can influence the way they react to police interrogation – which is another problem area when it comes to teens falsely confessing.

‘THEY GOT INTO MY HEAD’

The above statement is what Brendan Dassey, from ‘Making a Murderer’ said after finally speaking with his Mother after a four hour interrogation (who knows what the outcome would have been if he had spoken to her first).

Brendan Dassey was 16 years old, accused of being present in a murder, and with an IQ of 70, putting him in the range of intellectual disability.

Hotrod Die-cast Model on Board

In many countries, police are allowed to interrogate juveniles in exactly the same way as adults. However, juveniles often don’t know their rights and police often fail to mention certain things, like the fact they are allowed an attorney or adult in the room while being questioned.

Interrogation in and of itself, is incredibly grueling, In some cases, interrogations can last hours – some lasting 12 hours or more. For anyone (not just juveniles), this can sometimes be enough to exhaust and confuse someone to the point where they agree or admit to something just so the ordeal is ‘over’. Dr. Lindsay puts it this way:

‘… we’ve decided that juveniles cannot be trusted with things like voting, buying cigarettes, attending an R-rated movie or driving, but they can make the judgment call to waive their Miranda Rights… in some states… without consulting any adult first.’

Interrogation strategies that work on adults can often be dangerous when used on developing, impressionable and socially susceptible juveniles. Being lied to, yelled at or told things will be ‘okay’ of they confess, are all part of standard interrogation.

As a parent and as a researcher, I think we can do better. I think we can take steps to prevent another Brendan Dassey, while still getting the crucial information that we need from children and teens to solve crimes.

Dr. Lindsay Malloy

Top Talks (#6): Save the World by Changing the Rules – Greta Thunberg

Welcome to week six of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

Hello there!

Welcome to week six of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

I am a strong believer in continuous improvement – which to me, means finding and listening to people who have an array of different values, beliefs and ideas, and sharing them with others!

So…

WHO IS GRETA THUNBERG?

Greta Thunberg is a Swedish Climate Activist. She is credited with raising Climate Change awareness through her ‘School Strike for the Climate’ demonstrations – which began with her missing school to protest outside the Swedish parliament, before picking up traction in schools around the world.

Greta is 16 years old, and has just finished sailing from Plymouth, England – reaching Manhattan, New York on August 28th on a zero-carbon-emission sailboat to attend a global warming conference.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/28/20837520/greta-thunberg-boat-new-york-city-climate-change

Save the World by Changing the Rules – Greta Thunberg

What I got out of this ‘Top Talk’:

This TED Talk is one of Greta’s first speeches in the larger public arena regarding Climate Change, after deciding to skip school to protest Climate Change on the steps of the Swedish parliament. Since then, Greta has spoken to a number of high-profile political leaders and assemblies, and is known for her blunt, matter-of-fact manner. She gives a great insight into how hard the next generation will have to work to battle against Climate Change ‘non-believers’, politics, poor leadership and out-dated rules in order to secure the planet’s future.

Brown and White Signage

HOW COULD WE LET THIS HAPPEN?

In her talk, Greta speaks about how she first came to learn of Climate Change at the age of 8. She says she was skeptical at first, because if this was happening, surely it would be all over the headlines, leaders would be doing something and there would be public outcry…

‘…why are we not reducing our emissions? Why are they in fact still increasing? Are we knowingly causing a mass extinction? Are we evil?’

Greta soon realized that there was a crisis looming that no-one seemed to be taking seriously. She stopped eating, stopped talking and was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome with selected mutism.

Greta was depressed. Depressed that we, as humans, could allow this to happen to our home, right in front of us. And it is an important thing to think about. We need to be accountable for our actions.

We need to start having frank conversations, changing our thinking and living in a sustainable way. It is everyone’s business. Without everyday people like Greta Thunberg taking a stand, what will our world look like in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time? And what will it mean for our children, or our children’s children?

THE RULES NEED TO CHANGE

Ice caps are melting, temperatures are rising and forest are being cleared for agriculture. Who is accountable? What is the governments’ stance? Who is becoming richer, while the planet becomes poorer in every way? Why aren’t we acting?

‘People keep doing what they do because the vast majority doesn’t have a clue about the actual consequences of our everyday life.’

In this talk, Greta questions why no one is acting. There are no emergency meetings. No headlines. No policy changes. No meaningful restrictions.

‘Even most climate scientists or green politicians keep on flying around the world, eating meat and dairy.’

Greta so rightly says in her talk that we can no longer play by the rules, because the rules themselves need to be changed.

 

And she’s right. How can we expect to tackle this Climate Crisis, when people in huge positions of power like Donald Trump are Climate Change ‘skeptics’? How can we tackle it when there aren’t any headlines, any policy changes or emergency meetings? The rules don’t work. The rules don’t serve to help the planet. They serve to help people. But what happens when there’s no planet for the people?

So we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. 

Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. 

GRETA THUNBERG

Top Talks (#5): 10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training – Admiral William H. McRaven

Welcome to week five of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

Hello there!

Welcome to week five of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

I am a strong believer in continuous improvement – which to me, means finding and listening to people who have an array of different values, beliefs and ideas, and sharing them with others!

So…

WHO IS ADMIRAL WILLIAM H. MCRAVEN?

McRaven is a retired Navy SEAL for the United States. Among his long list of accolades, he has served as Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Commander of Special Operations Europe (SOCEUR), and Director of NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre (NSCC).

McRaven also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Master’s Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School and is openly critical of the Trump Administration (for those who care).

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._McRaven

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training – Admiral William H. McRaven

What I got out of this ‘Top Talk’:

This ‘Top Talk’ is not necessarily new – McRaven gave this speech in his 2014 Commencement Address to the students of the University of Texas (which is when I first heard it). However, it has always stuck with me as I’ve made my way through my University and young adult life. McRaven gives his 10 Life Lessons from his SEAL training:

  1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed
  2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle
  3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers
  4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward
  5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses
  6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first
  7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks
  8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment
  9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud
  10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell (to quit)

Although all of them are worth their weight in gold, I always liked number one and three the best:

Photography of Bedroom

MAKE YOUR BED EVERY MORNING

This particular life lesson is especially notable (McRaven even published a book based around it). The idea is:

‘If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.’

Your brain releases a hit of dopamine (a neurotransmitter responsible for generating feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness) every time you complete a task, meaning you will feel good and want to complete the next one.

By the end of the day, that one task head lead to many others, big and small.

Making your bed each morning is a reminder that the small things matter and are always worth doing. McRaven also reminds us that if we do have a crappy day, at least we will come home to a nicely made bed!

MEASURE A PERSON BY THE SIZE OF THEIR HEART, NOT BY THE SIZE OF THEIR FLIPPERS(!)

… or the size of anything else, for that matter – be it bank account, friend group or other.

McRaven speaks about the ‘Munchkin Crew’ – a crew of SEALS that were all under five-foot-five; but the best crew of the lot.

The other crews would lightheartedly make fun of the ‘Munchkins’, because their flippers were a smaller size than the rest. But no matter what, the Munchkins always made it to shore faster than all the other crews.

McRaven said SEAL training was a great equalizer:

‘Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.’

Pair of Black Flippers

McRaven’s main message throughout his speech is one of empowerment, and of the profound impact one person can have on the world and on others. One decision can have an incredible impact on those around us – meaning it is vitally important we make decisions that are embedded in integrity, compassion and strength. We need to band together, rather than let our differences keep us apart and be strong even when it seems we should give up.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

ADMIRAL WILLIAM H. MCRAVEN