50 years ago….

50 years ago today my life changed completely!! I had been the centre of attention, the centre of my mum and dad’s universe. On the 24th February 1972, the little sister arrived!

It was probably pretty weird to start off with but then I must have realised I had someone to hang out with, play with and laugh with.

Then in 1974, another sister appeared and we were the Douglas girls. It was the 70’s – we had ABBA, purple, green and orange curtains, a big bag of lollies for 10 cents, Dr Who, Young Talent Time, knitted jumpers, Hey Hey it’s Saturday morning, Sissy Bars on our bikes, Smurfs, a puppy called Pal and if we were lucky Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs.

The 70’s became the 80’s and we had Countdown, Dirty Dancing, Pseudo Echo, Bruce Springsteen, Muppet Babies, Donkey Kong, The Princess Bride, Rubik Cubes, Xanadu, roller skates, our cats (Tiger, Blackie and Cosmo), Saturday morning milkshakes, a Commodore 64, makeup and a clothes allowance!

As kids, we fought quite a bit. On reflection we spent a lot of time together, having adventures and on holidays. Dad was always planning and dreaming about what we could do next. Weekends were filled, holidays were planned and we were always together. We had a 3 bedroom house with a lounge room and kitchen/dining area, one toilet and one bathroom. As we became teenagers that gave us a lot to argue about!

Very few of my childhood memories don’t involve Lisa and Brenda. Our lives were entwined and twisted together in so many ways.

Over the years we have ebbed and flowed around each other. My sisters are always there, we are linked by our childhood together, we have become a part of each other’s identity and who we are. I can be completely honest and authentic with my sisters, as they have known me their whole life. The worst thing they can say is “I’ll tell Dad on you.”

Fifty years later I appreciate that I scored big that day. I got a little sister, I also got a friend. Have a beautiful day sis 😍

Sentient souls

Yesterday was meant to be my last day at Edgars Mission. It was the end of my 3 month contract. I have been asked to stay an extra month, which I will do.

Yesterday cleaning the barn I realised how much I have learnt over the last 3 months. I didn’t even know the difference between straw and hay!! Now I can tell the difference between different hays and I know when and how to use eco chips and wood shavings. I know how to muck out a stall and lay new bedding!! It’s been a massive learning curve, stepping into a different industry and learning new skills. Many times I have felt like a teenager – not knowing the basic stuff that comes so effortlessly to the team around me.

The biggest lesson has been in my interaction with the animals. I have read about how they are sentient beings. That they feel emotions and share many of our needs and desires. In many ways that has shaped my life and the decisions I make about food. To see these sentient souls everyday still astounds me.

I take the sheep and rabbits breakfast and on their faces I see anticipation and happiness.

I see the pigs desperate to get outside and play.

I have seen the bunnies snuggle up to each other, offering support and love.

I see the donkeys getting into mischief, playing chasey and having fun.

I constantly see curiosity in our animals – especially the goats and our darling calf Smudge. They want to know what you are up to, what’s going on.

I see the goats seek a sunny spot where they are comfortable. They turn their heads to help you find their favourite place to scratch.

I see the young sheep seek out their mumma and the mum always making sure her baby is ok.

As I am in the barn I see the new animals come in. I see fear on their faces and their bodies react to protect themselves. I see the look of sadness and heartbreak on a sheeps face when they fall over – so many of our animals have been so abused and broken. It breaks my heart but also gives me a heart warming opportunity. I tell them that life will be easier for them now they are at Edgars Mission.

At Edgars Mission they are safe.

It’s a small part to play in a massive big ugly industry – but it’s something.

In amongst the poop pick ups, scrubbing food bowls, sweeping the barn, carrying bins and hay bales, filling water bowls and making beds more comfortable I have been a part of something bigger.

I have always believed that if everyone did a little bit, it would make a massive difference. I have applied that to raising money for charity, reducing plastic use, recycling.

I can’t help but wonder, if we could all be a little kinder what kind of world could we create?

I get knocked down but I get up again…

Seventeen years ago today I started training as a Group Outdoor Personal Trainer at Le Page Park. For the next 14 years, around this time of year, we would celebrate the milestone.  I would think about the words I wanted to say to express my gratitude for the previous years. As the years went by the gratitude deepened. I had a lot to be grateful for. I was surrounded by a wonderful community, by people who inspired and supported me.  We shared our lives – grief, sadness, milestones, celebrations and always lots of laughter and fun. 

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Starting the business, back in 2004, was one of the most challenging things I had ever done. I remember seeing a Lawyer before I started. He told me to stay where I was – with a regular (low) income, superannuation, holidays and sick leave. I considered his words and then wrote him a letter to thank him for his advice, but I was going ahead. I wasn’t enjoying my job – I hated going there. Weekends couldn’t come around quick enough, Sunday nights I was always an emotional mess. I wanted to do something that was challenging and fulfilling. Something that inspired me, that I would be passionate about. I found all of that – and so much more.

Then in 2019, I closed the business. I had looked at so many options to keep doing what I was doing. With the threat of legal action over me, if I did continue the business under another name, I decided to close. The most heart-breaking decision I have ever made. It broke my heart and sent me down a path where I felt so much grief and sadness. I can’t explain the loss I felt. It ran deep and it hurt – a lot.

The previous year I had been lucky to meet my kind, smart, gentle Neil. A man who shared many of my values, hopes and dreams. After closing the business – struggling with my grief – I sold my home. I left my puppy friends, neighbours, my family and Step family and moved to a rental in Balwyn. Sharing a house with Neil and his 2 teenagers was challenging. (Neil had 100% custody of his teenagers. Now they are 19 and 20 and live with us.) Many times, we questioned what we were doing. And then the pandemic hit, and it became hard – a word I rarely use. In September 2020, we moved to Heathcote Junction. Hoping to be soothed by the country life and a beautiful home. It took about 9 months of anguish and arguments. Learning how to live with each other, to change and communicate was a rocky path. A path also filled with lockdowns and uncertainty. We stumbled many, many times. A week ago Neil and I celebrated 3 years together. We share something that is hard to describe in words – the best word we have is love. 

Two years on, I can think about my Step years, my Step family, without my heart, feeling like it’s being ripped out. I am so grateful for those years. I learned to be strong, resilient, adaptable, flexible. I learned what it was like to be surrounded by a strong, supportive community.   

To my Legends – thank you. Thank you for trusting me with your fitness for over 10 years.

To everyone else – thank you for joining our community and embracing it in so many ways.

To my puppy friends, we miss our walks still. Without you, I don’t know how I would have survived 2019.

To my sister – it was a rocky path but your commitment to support me is cherished deeply.

Once this lockdown ends I want to arrange a catch-up with my Step family. A chance to celebrate what we had and what we have. 

Neil and I look forward to a time when we can have visitors and share our beautiful home with you all.  

Two years ago I started an online training group. Every week I post 2 lesson plans to be completed that week We train together online every Tuesday at 6.15pm. Belinda, Cathie, Dagmar – thank you for trusting me to be your online trainer. You gave me focus when I had none. You continued to laugh at my jokes – even when they weren’t funny.

I am also blessed to have a group of Tai Chi ladies that train with me regularly (at the moment 4 times a week!). Your wisdom and understanding keep me grounded.

In the last 2 years, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t missed my training days at Le Page Park with my Step family.  Thank you for the wonderful memories.

Happy 2021!

Happy 2021!

It’s time to make New Year’s Resolutions!

Or is it?

A problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that by the time we stop saying “Happy New Year” (around mid-January) we tend to stop thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions.

So how about setting some goals?

I have been setting goals for many years. In 2020 I never set any goals. Changes outside my control after 15 years in a business, negatively impacted my motivation and vision… I lost my WHY. I couldn’t face it and needed a break. I drifted through 2020 (who didn’t?), but I still ended up achieving quite a bit – it just wasn’t what I thought it would be. Over the years I have talked to clients about setting goals and many would struggle with it. The idea of wanting more than we have, the thought of change, what to do if the goals are not met – tends to make people freeze.

I started thinking about goals in a different way in 2017. If you were training with me at the time you received my strange email on the 9th January 2018 ( because I tend to keep this stuff!) Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions (that will not see February) or setting goals (that fill you with fear) how about thinking about WHO YOU WANT TO BE? What comes to mind?

For a moment let’s fast forward to Christmas 2021. Think about the kind of person you want to be. Who are you? Grab ahold of the first thoughts you have.
Now ask yourself a few questions – WHO, WHAT, WHERE.

This list could give you some ideas about the kind of questions to ask.
Who is in your life?

Who are the people you are connecting with regularly?

Who is a positive influence in your life?

Who makes you laugh?

What are you doing for a career?

What are you studying?

What do you look like?

What have you done?

What have you read?

What have you watched?

What music have you listened to?

What are you doing for exercise?

What improvements have you made to your health?

What improvements have you made to your home?

What are you driving/riding?

What projects are you working on?

What are you doing to be creative?

What is your financial position?

What clothes are you wearing?

Where are you living?

Where have you travelled?

Where have you been?

Once you have an idea about how your life will look, spend some time thinking about your WHY. Knowing your WHY is a crucial step. Trust me, if you don’t know your WHY, nothing will change. For example, I am thinking about “What am I doing for exercise?”. WHY – because having a fit and healthy body is important to me. It gives me energy and vitality. It’s essential for my mental health. It makes me a better person. My WHY is strong.

Armed with your WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHY. The next step is fun; think about the HOW. How are you going to get there? Do some brainstorming. Talk to the people around you – but be careful with this. Talk to those that will lift you up, that will inspire you and give you courage and strength to be a better person than you already are. If the person you pick is negative, just walk away. The next step is CRUCIAL. Grab yourself some paper and pencils or pens and write it all down. You absolutely must write it down. This is the time to be honest with yourself. If you don’t write it down, you don’t care about the WHY enough. When you care about something you will find the time, you will make it happen.

If you like the idea of a little time travel to the future and being an even better person than you already are, this is a great way to get there. If you want support give me a call – I am here for you.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2021 – may it be magical 😊

It must get lonely

Monday 7.36am Monash University.

At this stop I have between 4 and 7 minutes before I need to depart. I tend to get off the bus and stretch, do some high knees and shoulder rotations. Yesterday I noticed a man walking towards the bus stop next to mine. He was quite tall, solid built, dressed in tracksuit pants and a wind-cheater, with a beanie and mask. Then I heard him say “It must get lonely by yourself all day with no one to talk to.” I looked behind me to see who he was talking to. Then I realised that he was talking to me. Foolishly I said “oh, sorry, you were talking to me.” He said “I was.” Then repeated his earlier statement. I replied, “Not really, you kind of get used to it. Thanks for talking to me though!” He laughed and said “No worries, have a good day.”

It made me realise how much I have changed over the last 9 months. Neil and I moved in together in January. That included Neil’s 2 teenage kids, his fur baby and my 2 fur babies. I had left my home, friends, neighbourhood, community and my 15 year business. As if that wasn’t enough, in March the Pandemic arrived. The only person to connect with face to face was on the phone, constantly in meetings and busy dealing with his own COVID world. As I worked through the challenges of this new world I found myself in, my sense of loneliness and isolation was off the scales, fuelled by fear and despair – at times it was unbearable.

I relied heavily on the Be Active Tribe, the Tai Chi gals, the weekly calls with my Dad and Auntie Joy, the frequent messages with my 2 sisters. Without them I don’t know how I would have coped. I have always been a person who can easily start a conversation with whoever I meet. I think it comes from being a country kid! Over the years I have had conversations with people from all walks of life, learnt some really cool things and made lots of great friends. I just love connecting and engaging with people. For six months I have had to change and adapt and learn to be ok without regular connection or engagement. I have learnt to be ok with the loneliness and not having anyone to talk to for long periods of time.

When this pandemic is over we will be different. We will realise that things can be done differently. Life will be changed forever. Some of those changes we can control and some we can’t. I know that I want to go back to being a person who has conversations with random people at bus stops, I want to go back to being a person that has conversations with people all day long. I have also discovered that if I don’t have that I will be ok. We all have a survival instinct – for now I will be ok by myself all day with no one to talk to. Once this is over its conversation time – face to face, without masks and with lots and lots of hugs 😀

70Joanne Link, Glynn Riseley and 68 others37 commentsLikeCommentShare

The eyes play tricks…

We rely on our eyesight to give us an accurate description of what is happening in front of us. Our eyes tell us a story so we can decide what behaviour or action is required. As a Bus Driver I need my eyesight to tell me lots of things. Picking up passengers is one of those situations that my eyesight frequently gives me a bum steer on – especially when it is dark/foggy/raining/overcast!

My eyesight is something I started questioning in the early 90’s. My partner and I were walking along a cliff trail. The tide was low and as we walked along we were looking out at the water and a natural stone jetty. Out on the jetty I saw about 30 people that I assumed were males wearing tuxedos. They were milling around in small groups, talking, and chatting. I was really curious about what was happening! I thought it must have been a photoshoot, but I couldn’t see any photographer or equipment anywhere. As I got closer, I realised that it probably wasn’t male shapes and it was probably female shapes as they were quite small. Still, I couldn’t see any equipment, but I was curious about what was happening. After all, this was 1990 and women wearing tuxedos were newsworthy! I said something to my partner like – what do you think all those people are doing down there wearing tuxedos? He started laughing – like full-on, belly laughing, tears running down his face. I was a little bit offended and insulted at being laughed at for asking a question… Through his laughter, he said “Penguins”. Initially, I was so embarrassed! Until I realised that he was right. They were penguins walking around on this rock shelf. Their actions and behaviour seemed so human-like that my eyes had said they were humans….. so eyes cannot be trusted.

When driving a bus, you are constantly looking out for the next bus stop, looking to see if there is a passenger there. Things that can confuse the eyes and tell the eyes a story that “yes – there is a passenger there” can be all sorts of things. Benches, poles, light reflecting off an object, trees, chairs, shopping trolleys, hard rubbish. OH, Bin day is really bad! Not to mention people walking away or towards the stop. People standing at bus stops with their little dog sniffing. All sorts of things. One of my “favourites” is a parking meter at Box Hill that I often think is a passenger!

In one of my assessments, I pulled up at a stop for a pole and a tree that looked like a human. I was really embarrassed and thought that I was going to get in trouble for that. The instructor Julie was awesome. She started telling me that it is much better to think that there is a passenger and pull up than drive by. She told me all sorts of stories of objects that she had pulled up for over the years. Having been a bus driver for a couple of decades she had quite a few stories to tell!

I guess for me it’s clarity that what we see with our eyes is not necessarily the truth. If you show a picture to half a dozen people, they will all have a different version of what was in that picture. The colours, the event, the objects, the faces, the story that was told. It is all based upon our own experiences, training, mood, attitude, personality, beliefs, values, morals and of course how wild our imagination is! I think it’s a good reminder that just because we think we have seen something it’s good to question that. As I do on a regular basis as there are a lot of Bus Stops on my route!

However, it is getting a little brighter and lighter now. There are more tricks to be played when it is dark.
Hopefully, in the coming weeks, my eyes won’t play so many of their little tricks!

A wise woman…

Donna seems to be a wise woman….not me 😊  My passenger Donna!

When I started this route, she used to always call me “Driver”. It felt kind of cool but also weird. On the day I introduced myself and we discovered we shared the same name, we also revealed the year we were born, so I know she was born in 1960.

I don’t know her, or her story, but the way she carries and presents herself makes me think of her as a wise woman.

Donna is always polite. She walks with a cheerful, confident, easy-going, purposeful step. She seems to be at ease with the woman she is and the world around her. I think of her as being authentic.

Donna dresses in greens and browns, purples and maroons. Her bag is a combination of all these colours and looks like a kaleidoscope of colour. She carries it slung over one shoulder and across her body. She has a slim frame so the bag (which could be called a holdall, as it must hold it all!) covers her whole side. She usually wears slip-on shoes with thick woollen tights or long boots. She is always in a layered skirt that floats around her calves. Her tops are layered, and the top layer is a long velvet maroon jacket that she wears open with a scarf that hangs down or is wrapped around her neck. With one hand she holds a keeper cup – tea or coffee must be her morning routine. She has auburn hair, threaded with grey, which she often wears loose. Her eyes are watery blue – like she has seen many tears. Tears of joy and tears of happiness. The effect is a cross between a hippie and a gypsy – a wandering soul.

Donna always has a warm welcome for me and always thanks me when she gets off the bus. Her laugh is infectious and genuine. It’s almost a cackle and makes me smile when I hear it. It makes me think she might be a good witch.

She hasn’t been on my bus for a few weeks, so I had assumed she wasn’t an essential worker. This week I have seen her twice – so maybe she is. She was my only passenger to hop on at 6am today.

ME – Good Morning Donna

Donna – Good morning. How are you this morning?

ME – I’m good. As good as I can be given what’s happening.

Donna – That’s the shot. We both woke up this morning. We’re LAUGHIN’ (and she cackled).

Wise Donna made me laugh and reminded me that it’s not that complicated to be wise. Wisdom comes when we can reach inside of ourselves, push our ego out of the way and be truly grateful. When we have true gratitude there is very little room for anything else… apart from laughter……and we always need to be laughin’ 😊

Essential worker…

It became official this week; I am an Essential worker and my job as a Bus Driver is essential. This contradicts how I feel about driving a bus as I don’t feel essential.  If my bus wasn’t there, passengers would find another way to get to work or another bus.  If I wasn’t driving there would be another driver to drive the bus.  Whilst what I offer may be essential, it doesn’t make me feel essential.  What feels essential is the work that I do with my Be Active Tribe (our on-line training group) and my Tai Chi ladies (also currently on-line).  For almost two decades being a P.T.  has filled up my heart and been my passion. After my online Be Active Tribe training and Tai Chi sessions I feel like I have made a difference, created impact and a positive change. I feel like I have been essential.

Yesterday was one of those rare moments when I realised that I am creating an impact and I can create a positive change as a Bus Driver.  Perhaps it is this strange world we live in and even though it is small, I can have an impact on someone’s day.  I have a young, female passenger.  (Young in my eyes! Maybe early 20’s!)  She has this jaunty walk, as if she is on springs, like she has all this energy inside her that is ready to burst at any moment. She is almost dancing.  I can imagine her kicking her heels to the side as she walks along. (This reminds me of you Joanne Link!)  She is a little shorter than me and it is hard to tell what her body is like as she wears a big puffer jacket, baggy pants and a beanie pulled down over her short dark hair.  Her hair spikes out from under her beanie – as if it is also packed full of vibe and energy.   Before she wore a mask, I could see her beautiful coffee coloured skin and lips that were quick to smile. Now I see eyes that dance when she smiles, which she did every time she got on the Bus. She has an accent that I just can’t recognise. I get the feeling she would be a fun, somewhat mischievous person to hang out with. Our passenger/driver relationship was sealed about a month ago. I had left the Bus Stop and was about 20 metres away, when she came running down the footpath towards me. I pulled over and opened the door – which I am not actually allowed to do. I made a quick decision and given  she was one of my regular passengers and is pretty much on the bus 4 to 5 days a week, I figured she would be late for work if I kept driving, so of course I pulled over.

From the first time she hopped on my bus she would always give me a bright and cheerful “Good Morning!”. She pretty much leaps off the bus using the rear door and always calls out something – “See you tomorrow” or “Have a great day” or “Thank you” AND gives me a wave. Without fail she makes me smile. Yesterday she was the only passenger to hop on at 6am. As I pulled into her regular Bus Stop, I pulled up and opened the back door. As I looked in the mirror, she was almost beside me, so I opened the front door. She stood beside me and was kind of shy when she said, “Today is my last day at this job and I won’t be on this bus anymore.”  My heart dropped and I said that I was sorry to hear that. She said I just wanted to say goodbye to you and thank you.  I said I will miss you. She looked at me and said, “You will?” I said of course I will. You are one of my favourite passengers. She looked at me with her dancing eyes and said “Really?”.  I said of course you are. She said that is so nice, thank you. She jumped off the bus and turned around and said to me “Take care, stay safe” and gave me a big wave. I was choked when I said to her “You take care and stay safe”. As I closed the door, I watched her walk away in her bouncy, energetic way and realised that she had been an essential part of my day, and I had been an essential part of hers.  That is the thing about being essential – it is about give and take.

For all those essential workers out there, that may not feel essential, think about what you are doing and remember what you are doing and why.

For all those out there who are interacting with essential workers please remember that they are feeling the same way you are. A kind word and a smile will go a long way.

Smiling is infectious..

In these “trying times” it is SUPER Important that we STOP judging.
We have no idea what another person’s story is.
Let us treat those around us with KINDNESS and COMPASSION.
It is challenging to smile with a face mask covering your mouth – but you can smile with your eyes and with your body language. You can smile with your words and with your tone.
Be aware of the judgement calls you are making.
You get what you focus on.


When I got back in the car at the end of my shift today, I pulled my mask down. After four and a bit hours I wanted it OFF! I got home, reversed around 10 metres down the drive and grabbed my stuff. As I was about to get out of the car a woman walked past, clearly saw I didn’t have a mask on and shot me a terrible look combined with defensive body language. My initial reaction was a flare of anger – but that doesn’t help my mental health.

The next time I see her I will wave and smile. She doesn’t know my story – but I do, so I will do what I can to turn her frown upside down 😊

This poem was one my Nana’s. Even though it’s at least 30 years old it’s still valid 😀

Wakey, Wakey!

Have you ever fallen asleep on Public Transport? I am embarrassed to say that 20 years ago I fell asleep on a train. It was late at night and I had been out drinking. Plenty of good reasons, right?

During my Bus Driver Induction, I was with 6 different Bus Drivers. They all had stories to tell about passengers falling asleep on the bus, at night and mostly smelling of alcohol. I didn’t give it much thought as the Bus Drivers had been driving for years – so once a decade or so seemed feasible.

I am on an early shift – 5.38am to 9.38am Monday to Friday. My route takes me from Oakleigh Train Station to Boxhill via Monash, back to Monash, up to Boxhill again and back to Monash where the service terminates. At Monash I make sure I have no passengers on the bus, otherwise, they would end up going back to Box Hill or to the depot and I am Thoughtful, Considerate Bus Driver 😊

What a surprise then, that over the two months I have been doing this route I have had 2 “sleepers”!! At this rate, I am expecting another one any day now!

The first one was sitting up the back and her head had fallen forward – she was sound asleep. Of course, with social distancing, I didn’t want to get too close! I had to call out a few times to wake her. When she woke up, she just said “thanks” and got off… she wasn’t embarrassed.

The second one was sitting on the seat next to the back door. There’s a panel that separates the seat from the back door. She had her forehead resting on this divider – sound asleep. I knocked on the divider a few times to wake her up. Once again, when she woke up, she said “thanks” and got off. She didn’t seem embarrassed either…..there’s a pattern here!

Twenty-something years ago I just woke up. No one was around, no one woke me up. It got me thinking about how frequently this sleeping on Public Transport thing happens.

I’m driving for around 17 hours a week, weekday mornings. I can’t even begin to guess at how many buses there are on the road…..and I’ve had one a month. Then there are trams, trains, taxis – it must be 1000’s of people a week!!

I think it is time for me to let this embarrassment go!

Perhaps if there was snoring or drool it may have been different 😊