For the term of 11 weeks – perspectives on my first term of teaching

Dear future Ms Hainey, 

Congratulations on making it through your first term as a teacher. Your working memory is shot to pieces and who knows what has been encoded and can be retrieved. Bless. So I have written down as many of your perspectives on your first term as I can conjure for you to look back on and see how far you’ve come (naaw warm fuzzies). 

– Your experiences in the classroom only made you cry twice and both times it wasn’t actually at school (pat yourself on the back for that one). Yes there were moments when you sat at your desk in the staff room and wanted to cry but you didn’t (on that note don’t stop taking your homeopathic and naturopathic supplements). 

– Don’t be so hard on yourself for not networking more at PD events. It doesn’t make you feel better. In fact it makes you feel worse. On that note stop comparing yourself to them and seeing yourself as inferior or a fraud. It might seem like their students are more motivated and engaged in learning but who knows what it is really like? God believes in and has equipped you – get on board girl! 

– Apparently (hopefully by now you are more convinced of this) when students don’t follow instructions or perform poorly it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is your fault and that you didn’t teach them properly. You can’t do everything for them. There is only so much you can do. At the end of the day they have to practice self-regulation and do the work. 

– Remember that time in your first week when you drove home using the back roads for the first time and there was a turtle in the middle of the road? You stopped, paused to  try and comprehend the situation and burst into hysterical tired laughter. You needed that. Take every moment you can to embrace your goofy side. 

– Well done for resisting the urge to tell a student to “come out of the closet” when he was having a laughing fit in your storeroom. 

– Focus more on what went well and the positive feedback you get from students e.g. “That was a really solid lesson Miss…”, “Be quiet, she’s actually really good!”, “You seem like you’ve been teaching for ages”. Remember that student who came to you anxious and teary and asked you for help because “you’re actually nice”. You made him more comfortable and went the extra mile. Keep doing that. That is what you’re there for. Yes you have students who haven’t responded and continue to be challenging. But that is inevitable in teaching. Keep trying different strategies and keep persevering. Focus more on the students who have responded and as a result are more engaged in learning and are more positive about themselves and others. 

– Pray for your students, especially those in your home room. 

– It is ok to ask for help but go to more effort to find out yourself first. 

– You weren’t expecting your year 10 class to be so hard. Remember that lesson? Give yourself cudos every time that doesn’t happen again. Student surveys are a great idea. 

– Don’t forget how gracious God has been to you. He has given you a permanent full-time history teaching position at a great school where you can be open about your faith. He has given you a license and a car to make this possible. Even though you want to move He has given you a safe and comfortable place to live that isn’t far from school and you don’t have to pay rent. He has provided for you financially. He has given you your own classroom that is close to your staff room with the female staff toilet right next door. He has given you Christ-like colleagues to guide and support you. He has given you woofles to cuddle after a week of teaching and a family who are proud of you for getting to where you are. He has given you friends who have been very patient and understanding with you being so distant and out of it. He has given you the Holy Spirit who is with you everywhere you go especially when you’re teaching. 

– And finally, for a first year out teacher, who wasn’t even looking for let alone preparing for a full-time teaching position, “you’ve done an excellent job” (yes I’m quoting your HOD because we both know that you have a tendency to rely on the affirmation and opinions of others but hopefully you’ve gotten over that more by now). 

– Don’t forget that God put you there and He doesn’t make mistakes. BOOM!

In Christ, 
Post Term 1 Ms Hainey

Classroom before

  
Classroom after/so far

  

  

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Billabong reflections 

This wasn’t what I had planned. We both knew that I was going to write about my experiences from my first term as a teacher. More on this later. But something else is on my mind. 

I am on my very first retreat. It is in fact an eco retreat in the Hawkesbury that is amusingly close to my school. Can I just say (this is your blog Claire, so yes, you may – and you will) how nice it is to be somewhere where being ethically conscious is not abnormal. I just had a lovely solar-powered rainwater shower using environmentally safe and cruelty-free products after eating a super healthy organic, vegetarian, gluten-free, wholefoods dinner and more cups of non/low-caffeinated beverages than I thought my caffeine dependent Term 1 body could handle.  

  
I don’t fit into any particular category. In fact I think none of us do. Yes I am a vegetarian and do my best to follow a cruelty-free life but there is more to it than that. Labelling myself as a vegan isn’t quite right either (I eat free-range eggs). Such labels are becoming more and more popular. Why? Because greater Australian and Western society have turned away from God. They don’t consider themselves to be Christians or believe in any God at all. They have given up on God and are trying to find their identity and answers elsewhere. Why? Putting the Fall and predestination aside (bear with!), I’m wondering if it is because of us. How well are Christians modelling Christ and God’s word in what we do, say and think? 

When we’re not practicing silence (yep that happened!) I’ve had more meaningful and open conversations with people I have just met around the ethically sourced recycled wooden dining table than those I break bread with during a communion dinner at Church. The focus of this retreat is yoga and mindfulness and it has a quite “spiritual” vibe to it (whatever that means (I skipped the chanting class)). My dining companions described themselves as such. Most of them said that they were Orthodox Christians who were married to athiests. What did I do? I just sat there. I felt confused. These people care about some of the things that I care about. They are asking the big questions in life. They want to do the right thing. So why am I the only Christian here? Fast forward to Sunday and I’ll probably be skipping Church dinner because I’m not comfortable eating what is there and want to avoid all the awkward questions about why I’m not eating or not eating meat. 

After dinner we watched, and I quote, “an inspirational movie”. ‘I am’ is a documentary by a successful Hollywood director (the guy who made almost every Jim Carrey movie ever), who (after a near death experience) asked this question ‘What is wrong with our world and what can we do to fix it?’ Who does he ask? Some of the greatest minds both living and dead. Even Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5:43-48 get a mention. So what did the film suggest was the solution? Love. Sound familiar sisters and brothers in Christ? Don’t get me wrong it is great that he turned his life around and that he is using his gifts in a more meaningful and benefitial way, but am I the only one who is exasperated at how these moments tend to happen after a near death experience? Jesus died because God loves us so much. Even a lot of non-Christians know John 3:16. Christ is our near-death experience. He as already done it so what are we waiting for?  

 Why do I try and be an ethical consumer? Because God wants me to. How do I know? Because it says so in the Bible and because the Holy Spirit prompts me to do so. I don’t want to keep doing this on (what feels like) my own. He wants all of us to! I thank God for giving me this experience to help make me more bold and to provide me with enough space to finally articulate what He has put on my heart.

Despite being a dancer – I’m still not very good at yoga. 

  

  

Experimental Travel Blog

As we’ve learnt from previous blog posts, I’m trying to foster the spontaneous side of my character. I love writing. I have so many ideas and so many drafts that haven’t yet seen the light of a device. Why? Because I’m a perfectionist and I’ve been a uni student for over a decade. Worse still I’m trained in history and have written a thesis both of which are all about meticulous research. This has subconsciously affected the way I blog. So this time I’m writing with no research and no filter. Let’s see what happens.

Sat 27th Dec 2015

Sydney

I’m on a train replacement bus. Good ‘ol NSWTrains have changed my itinerary at the last minute (of course). This is why I got here extra early. Speaking of which, I decided to get on the earlier bus in case they changed it again and I missed my final connection to my destination. I’m not that annoyed really because this feels far more spontaneous. Unless they do this again, I’ll get a chance to enjoy a musing direct trip back home. Afterall, in a few weeks I’ll (hopefully) have my P’s. I won’t know what to do with myself when I get them. After fending for myself for so long I imagine it will take a while to realise that I can get to a from places much easier. I can go almost anywhere I want anytime I want and take anything I want. That boggles my mind. We take too much for granted.
Anyway it’s the day after Boxing Day so the CBD is quite lively. A young man sprints through the pedestrian crossing as soon as the green man comes on, he leaps up towards the wall of a local nightspot and slaps the ‘NO’ in the NO LOCK OUT poster attached to it. He is screaming all the while. I’m in the bus so I can’t hear it but it looks so strange. I think he was excited about there being no lock out rather than being so offended by it that he felt compelled to charge and attack it.

Heading over the Harbour Bridge again. In the direction I just came from…Just went past my place…We’re on the road I’ll be using to travel to and from my new job. My first ever full-time job. My first ever teaching position. It still doesn’t feel real. Next year is going to be completely different from this year (and every year before that!)

Blacktown

I got here 45 mins early. I was only a little bit nervous. I can’t help it. I’m a single upper-middle class Anglo-Saxon woman who grew up in the Shire. More to the point I’ve never been here before. It is hard fitting even my small suitcase into the toilet cubical. A young dad reminds his young son to say “Merry Christmas” to everyone he passes including me as we both approach the turnstile. So sweet.

I’m drinking a really delicious berry smoothie which probably isn’t as healthy as my mind is trying to reassure me. But it is the little things that make a difference. On top is written ‘Safe the World’ which is attached to a power chord. I presume the Mandarin underneath reads more like ‘Save the world’ and is encouraging us to use less electricity?

Unlike Central at least Blacktown station has water faucets you can fit your water bottle under to refill it. I think these modern fancy sinks are part of a mass conspiracy to force us to buy bottled water. Well, I refuse.

Lithgow

A lot of people say that Lithgow is “a hole”. This choice of phrase has always intrigued me. Not a lot seems to happen here and I can understand how young people may be frustrated by growing up in a country town and leave for the city the first chance they get. But I believe in making the most of what we have instead of chasing after something “better”. But I would say that because I’m overwhelmed by living in suburban Sydney. I don’t even come close to making the most of where I live. I’m a city born country girl and yearn to be back living at the farm or on my own small property in a small country town.

I presume I’m on the correct coach. Lithgow was the end of the line and everyone with luggage headed towards the only coach in the coach bay. It was about the right time to stat boarding in order to leave on time. The driver missed my question “does this go to Orange” during our pleasantries and it must have gotten lost in my still intermittent voice.

I’ve started listening to Serial and I am addicted. I probably should be listening to history podcasts in preparation for Term 1. Hey, I’m on holidays.

Sat 2nd Jan 2016

Dubbo

I have seen and done a lot in the space of just one week not to mention been a lot of different places. I didn’t blog during my actual holiday. I was too relaxed and too engrossed in being in each moment and spending quality time with people.

I wasn’t in the mood to do much people watching. I love the vibe of public country transport. There is something about it which makes people connect with each other. There is this mutual understanding and acceptance that we’re all in the same boat so we may as well make the most of it. Being in the same space for long hours brings people’s walls down (whether that be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing). Or maybe it is the fact that most country people are more open and friendly?

I sat next to a friendly man. He was middle-aged and weathered. He wore his baseball cap and sunglasses for most of his journey. It was one of those moments where I didn’t quite know what to do. It wasn’t a sustained conversation. Every five to ten minutes he’d say something about interesting places he had been. Even though I was looking forward to putting in my headphones, listening to the end of Serial and shifting from staring out the window to knitting or colouring, I didn’t want to stop this connection. In ‘normal’ life it is very likely that we would never speak. Afterall, this kind of thing doesn’t often happen in Sydney so it would be my last chance to have this type of exchange for a while.

That and the fact that I can be so awkward. I didn’t want to eat my Subway because I felt too self-conscious. Eating a Subway is not elegant. I did however get their glorious Devonshire tea now with the option of a blueberry scone! I look forward to this every time I use the XPT. I’m already acquainted with the precariousness of the cup they serve the tea in so after carefully preparing it and nursing it until it was cool enough to drink (which takes a very long time. Unless you have a superhuman sense of self control you can never enjoy the scone and the tea simultaneously) I still managed to spill it all over my white top at the first sip. That was awkward and embarrassing. We parted ways and I took the opportunity to shift into non-conversation mode for the rest of the trip home.

Sydney

Ugh why does it seem to take so long to get anywhere in Sydney? I made it to Sydney but trackwork means that it going to make getting home more difficult and take a lot longer. Its moments like this which make me wish I had someone who could pick me up and take me home. It would be nice to have someone to come home to.

Sun 3rd Jan 2016 

Final thoughts

Almost every largish country town has at least one Subway. When did that become a thing? Don’t worry, as crucial as this observation is, it wasn’t the most profound thought to cross my mind this trip.

I feel a lot better after having a break from living in the city. I genuinely enjoyed and felt the benefits of being out of range with little access to email, social media or YouTube. Let’s see how long it takes before it starts to permate too much of my life again.

The more I travel around the country the more I struggle to get my head around how huge Australia is (and I’ve been to WA many times!) Yet for thousands of years people have not only survived but thrived here. The first Australians respected and worked with the resources available to them. They lived in harmony with their environment. Today we exploit what we have been blessed with and work against nature. Getting back to nature and a ‘simpler’ way of life puts all of this into a healthy dose of perspective. Most of contemporary Australia has more than what we need and mistake our wants as needs. And yet we want more. It doesn’t have to be this way. Let us focus on responsibly using what we have over constant acquisition.

I wondered at God’s power and love as reflected through creation. No detail was spared. Situations like this also help me to appreciate the power of human will. We drove to the summit of Mount Kaputar (a mere 1510m above sea level) and enjoyed a view that encompassed ten percent of New South Wales. This was only possible because generations of people before us had made it possible through exploration and infrastructure.

This experimental blog was a worthwhile experience. I feel a bit uncomfortable publishing it but I will move past that. As I learnt throughout this trip being comfortable isn’t the be all and end all. We don’t learn and grow when we’re comfortable.

IMG_1085Exploring Warrumbungle National Park

IMG_1098The view from our home away from home at Piliga Pottery. The best and strangest place I have ever stayed.

IMG_1117View from the summit of Mount Kaputar.

This is an intervention – lessons learned on the sovereignty of God

HIMYM Intervention
‘Intervention’ would have to be my favourite episode of How I Met Your Mother – and now it makes even more sense as to why.
I am no expert on the sovereignty of God – only God is (this comes with the territory and is the beauty of it). In fact I am not even close. Rather, it is my prayer that sharing my experience will encourage you in your journey towards gaining a better (not perfect) understanding of God’s sovereign grace in your life.

If you feel like you don’t ‘get’ the sovereignty of God or that you have lost sight of it, don’t worry, because you are not alone and it is going to be ok. I’ve been there and, inevitably, I will go back there again. How did I get to this point? God has taught me four important lessons.

Lesson 1 – God is sovereign

The most important lessons are often inconspicuous and incremental. For me, it all started with hearing the words “God is sovereign”. I’ll be real with you – some sermons stick more than others.  But this sermon and this phrase had an immediate impact and lodged itself in my mind (we’ll get to my trying to grasp its meaning later. For the moment this was enough for me to get my head around).

To some, this may seem like Christianity 101 – but to me (taking my background and previous experience into account) it was revolutionary and life-changing. This concept changed my prayer life and, as a natural consequence, my relationship with God. Nine times out of ten the phrase “you are sovereign and therefore…” was the mainstay of my prayers. Clearly, God, in one of an infinite number of examples of His sovereignty, knew when, what, how I needed to hear this truth.

Lesson 2 – God’s sovereignty is a blessing instead of a burden

Ok. So God is sovereign. Great! But what does this mean (in general) and what does this mean for my life? As the conversation between Jesus and Pilate in John 18:37-38 demonstrates, it is all very well to hear the truth but what really matters is comprehending it, accepting or rejecting it and facing the consequences of that decision.

Here was (and is) my simplistic understanding of the sovereignty of God. I am not in control of my life – God is. This changes everything that I think, do and say. Here is what the Bible has to say, which, let’s face it, is much more articulate and accurate than I am. Here are some passages that resonate with me:

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Face it Claire, God’s plan is better than yours and resistance is futile.

“It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”Philippians 2:13

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

So it is not up to me?…I don’t have to try and be perfect anymore?! *mind blown* What an undeserved privilege!

God, particularly through His work through the Christians around me, has taught me to see His sovereignty as a blessing instead of a burden. This may not be new to you but it was certainly new to me. I was a very anxious person and I spent most of my time, energy and resources trying to control every aspect of my life and being. Every day felt like a battle to survive where I thought I had to be perfect in order to be worthwhile. It has only been in the last few years that I have started to even grasp the concept that I never was and never will or should be in control of my life. To be honest, I’m surprised at how ‘freeing’ this is. Instead of getting caught up in the hamster wheel of trying to gain control, I’m learning to let go and hand the reigns over to God. Instead of beating myself up for every imperfection I am starting to see them as opportunities to learn and grow to be more like Christ. And it feels pretty good (at least most of the time).

Lesson 3 – Just because it is God’s plan doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy all of the time. 

What difference did my newfound understanding make? What would my life have been like if all of this hadn’t happened? Perhaps I would have stayed on the trajectory that I had established for myself many years ago. I was in my mid-twenties and I was looking for big answers to life’s big questions. But now the question was – what does God want me to do and who does He want me to be? Just as I started to feel like I was making progress and moving in the right direction, that’s when spanners started appearing in the works. I was about to learn that applying the sovereignty of God to my life was even harder than understanding it.

God has given me a heart for serving and empowering young people. I am convicted that He wants me to be a teacher. desperately want to be a teacher. So I changed course and studied education. This process was much harder than I thought it was going to be. It didn’t just affect me – it also affected those close to me some of whom understood why I was doing this and some who didn’t. From this point on I have felt like the odd-one out amongst my peers. Since starting this journey, and as the difficult events of the past two years unfolded, I came to feel more and more isolated. I started to doubt whether I really did understand God’s purpose for my life. If this was God’s plan then why was my life getting harder and why were there so many things ‘getting in the way’ of my plan to follow Him? Once again, I turned to the Bible.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Whilst I found this encouraging, I also found it hard to reconcile with my experience. Inevitably I compared my experience with those around me. Everyone else were going places (literally and figuratively) and I felt stuck. Thus I learned that just because it is God’s plan doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy all of the time.

Lesson 4 – NOTHING can get in the way of God’s sovereign plan for our lives (especially not ourselves)

Despite how easy or hard it may seem, if it is God’s will, it might not happen overnight but it will happen. Why? Because nothing can get in the way of God’s sovereign plan for our lives. I refer again to John 18:28-40 – Jesus’ Roman trial before Pilate. Verse 32 reads:

This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

Immediately after this scene, Jesus is sentenced to be crucified. Jesus knew God’s plan but it certainly wasn’t easy (cf. Mark 15:34):

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Nothing got in the way of God’s plan for Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection. He planned everything in minute detail. The events of Jesus’s life and death would not have been possible if God hadn’t planned it so. So why should anything get in the way of His plan for my life? God has a big picture of which we only see a tiny part. Therefore, we have to trust his better judgement and promises:

The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. (Psalm 37:23-24)

Most of my teaching practicum was at a prestigious Catholic boys school. But I was convinced that God wanted me to teach in a rural public school, so I was confused by this placement – it seemed to be the exact opposite of ‘the plan’. Little did I know that I was exactly where I needed to be to learn more specific details about what God wanted me to do with my life and career. It was an opportunity to learn that I can cope (and thrive) when I’m thrown in the deep end and the fact that Christain schools really need genuine Christian teachers. So I changed focus from public to private and from secular to Christian. I enrolled in (yet more) further study in religious education and planned to slowly introduce myself to teaching as I recovered from the events of the past few years. 

God opens doors for us. He generously and lovingly gives us opportunities to follow His plan for our lives. What isn’t helpful is when we slam those doors in His face. Only now do I realise that this is what I was doing. I had become focused on what I could and could not do instead of what God can and was doing. Either I wouldn’t take up the opportunities God was giving me or I wouldn’t make the most of them. I wouldn’t take that leap of faith and trust Him with control of my life. Something had to be done. So God staged a major intervention and gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. 
I finally and suddenly acted on an opportunity. I made a teaching resume and put myself up for a job (!) Then I got an interview (!?) In case that wasn’t enough, I was offered the job only a few hours later (?!?!) which I accepted (!!!) After stagnating for so long my life changed instantly. I got my “dream job” without even trying. I’m not trying to gloat, rather I’m trying to demonstrate how powerful God’s sovereignty is.

It was my birthday yesterday. It was also the one year anniversary of my father’s death and marked the last time I spoke with the person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Needles to say the past two years have been the most challenging years of an already challenging life. Yet they also coincide with these lessons on God’s sovereignty and grace. I was at a fork in the road both personally and spiritually. I could have easily gone down a different path away from God, but He had a plan for me and did not let me go. Piece by piece He has led me to this point. 

Please learn from my mistakes. Don’t let it get to this point. Forcing God’s hand is not wise. Rather, sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. You will never be 100% ‘ready’. But God is always ready. Better yet God has already planned what is going to happen and is right there with us.

Share your thoughts and experiences with me 🙂

In Christ,

Claire

This is not a puppy love – how Foxie is changing lives.

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Foxie.

Me and Foxie on the day we first met.
Me and Foxie on the day we first met.

I knew that I wanted to write about my rescue dog adoption experience but it took a while for me to figure out what approach to take. I knew straight away that I didn’t want to delve headfirst into the “adopt don’t shop” debate. There is already a lot of quality content out there, particularly UnleashedEnd Cruelty and Pet Rescue. Nor did it feel apt to take an analytical approach to what lies behind the human-dog relationship. In the end it felt right to take a very personal approach and simply share my experience with you.

This isn’t going to be another finger-poking, tut-tutting, guilt-trip on why you should adopt a rescue dog instead of buying a puppy from a breeder so please keep reading. That being said, yes I do think that people should adopt a rescue dog instead of buying a dog from a breeder. In my view, why buy a dog from a breeder when there are hundreds (if not more) dogs in rescue shelters and pounds being put down (often unnecessarily) every week? These dogs need us and should be our first priority. But I also think that everyone is entitled to their own views and to make their own decisions. However, this decision should be the result of careful consideration on the latest and most accurate information available. There is no valid excuse for blissful ignorance.

…everyone is entitled to their own views and to make their own decision. However, this decision should be the result of careful consideration on the latest and most accurate information available.

I’m all about keeping it real. Adopting a rescue dog isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t always have a warm and fuzzy ending (both literally and figuratively see for example ‘What I’ve Learned About Adopting a Dog…the Hard Way’). Nor should it be a hasty decision (even though ours was but every situation is unique). You don’t need me to tell you that getting a dog, especially adopting a rescue dog is a big decision that requires a lot of thought (but there you go I’ve told you anyway).

I must emphasise that no one should even consider purchasing a dog from a pet shop or from online classifies such as EBay and Gumtree. Most (if not all) of these dogs, particularly the puppies, are sourced from puppy farms. To find out more about the puppy farm issue, I recommend this recent news article from the SMH ‘Cruelty, squalor, disease at puppy factories in NSW detailed in RSPCA report’ (please note that it contains material that some may find confronting).

Foxie’s Tail Tale

What a tale she has to tell! Foxie is a rescue dog and (like most rescue dogs) we don’t know a lot about her history. I burn with curiosity and have so many unanswered questions. How many owners has she had and what were they like? When is her birthday? Has she had any puppies? Why doesn’t she bark and why is she obsessed with human food?

Here is what we do know. She is (most likely) a ten year old Fox Terrier/Corgie cross. According to her first adoption profile:

“Foxie was found on a lovely person’s doorstep on New Year’s Day. Luckily for her the family took her inside and tried their best to find her owner as she wasn’t microchipped. Eventually she had to go to the local pound but the wonderful family contacted No Kill Pet Rescue to let us know that there was a scared blind dog at the pound who needed us and they hoped we would be able to help as they knew she is one very special girl.”

Imagine that. What would you have done in this situation? What would have happened if she had been found on a different doorstep? So many questions! God’s grace and sovereignty never ceases to astound me. That January 1st truly was the start of something new not only for Foxie but for everyone in her life.

Nothing could have prepared me for the moment when I suddenly stumbled on footage of her in the pound before she was rescued. She was so thin. Tears immediately welled up and it felt like a cold hand gripped and was methodically dismantling my heart. She was quietly standing at the front of her long and narrow concrete and brick pen when a hand reaches out and gently rubs her chin. Although she was blind it didn’t take her long to tell that Heidi from No Kill Pet Rescue was there. Her tail immediately started swishing from side to side and she gave the hand a few licks. You can see her lightbulb moment. She starts to steadily pace back and forth ‘looking’ for a way to get closer to them, poking her nose through and hopping up onto the wire to get closer to and gently lick the affectionate hand. Incidentally, that footage was posted on my sister’s last birthday who would go on to adopt her and become her Mum/pack leader. Foxie was soon rescued from Hawkesbury pound by Heidi.

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If that wasn’t astounding enough, there is much more to Foxie’s tale. After being rescued from the pound, Foxie went into foster care with Nerida, a volunteer foster carer with No Kill Pet Rescue. Not only did she spend a lot of time, effort and money to get Foxie happy and healthy again, she had the difficult task of finding a permanent home for her. In June 2014, only a short distance from my apartment, Foxie was at Furever Pet adoptions in the hope that the people she met there would adopt her. She met lots of lovely people who donated to her cause but she was not adopted that day. After many months of campaigning, and despite her sweet and gentle nature, no one had expressed a genuine interest in adopting Foxie. The fact that she was blind made people hesitant and the adoption process more difficult.

Roxie's appearance in a calendar to raise money for No Kill Pet Rescue and to find someone to adopt her.
Foxie’s appearance in a calendar to raise money for No Kill Pet Rescue and to find someone to adopt her.
Adoption add in MX.
Foxie’s adoption add in mX.

In response, a fundraising campaign was launched to raise enough money so that Foxie could have the surgery that she needed to be able to see again and to have some tumours removed:

“This year for Christmas Foxie, a blind homeless doggie in the care of Furever Pets and No Kill Pet Rescue has asked for a special present, she would like to be able to see from one of her eyes in the hopes it will help her find a family.”

Thanks to the generosity of strangers and Foxie’s supporters the campaign was successful. In August 2014 Foxie underwent surgery and Nerida announced that her sight was restored in both eyes:

“We have never eagerly awaited a phone call as much we did today from Foxie’s surgeon. The operation to remove both cataracts was successful and she has VISION in BOTH EYES!!!…We had faith this would be the right thing for her, her heart was so full of light whilst her eyes were dark. Not any more Foxie Lady, your world will be a bright place.

Despite this, Foxie remained unadopted. But don’t worry. God had it all planned out. He was waiting for the exact right time and would continue to bless Foxie and those in her life.

The next chapter

We were not allowed to have furry pets growing up. Fish are nice but it is just not the same as having a dog which we so desperately wanted. So I had no idea how to be around animals and at times was sacred stiff of dogs.

My father died on the morning of 29th October 2014. In my sister’s mind this opened the door to getting a dog. In my mind, this was folly. I thought it was the shock and grief talking and so I didn’t take her seriously. My sister was one of Dad’s careers throughout his illness and I put the desire to adopt a dog down to her need to fill that space. To be honest, I tried to talk her out of it. At the time I thought I was being practical and logical. I thought that my sister was being selfish and that we would only be doing wrong by any dog we adopted. However, this was lesson number 1 that Foxie taught me. Sometimes not everything has to be “practical” or “logical” in order for it to be a good thing. Foxie was just what we needed but I wasn’t able to see it at the time.

I remember it vividly. My Mum, sister and I had just found a suitable place to inter Dad’s remains. We were slowly walking back to our car when Alison showed me Foxie’s second adoption profile. Alison was singing her praises and I read her description and saw photos. After that, I knew resistance would be futile and my head started to give way to my heart.

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Photo from Foxie’s second adoption profile.

Yet for some reason I still thought we wouldn’t end up adopting Foxie. Not long after, I received a text message stating that Mum and Alison went to visit Foxie at Nerida’s. I was shocked and before I knew it my sister adopted Foxie just before Christmas. Foxie had had a challenging life and maybe she needed a family who had experience with life’s challenges which was why we were the ones to relate to and then adopt her. And you know what. I’m so glad we did, because otherwise I wouldn’t have experienced such joy and learnt some valuable lessons.

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Adopted!

The day I met Foxie

I couldn’t believe that we had a dog. I got out of the car and Alison was standing with her in the driveway – a real life dog. She was telling her about me and saying “Look Foxie, here is your Aunty Claire!” Fox wagged her tail profusely and lapped up my pats. I couldn’t remember a time when I had seen my sister so happy. All a sudden the house was full of dog things. She had two beds, a pile of treats and toys and other canine paraphernalia. Needless to say I was instantly smitten.

Its funny, Foxie seemed to be so different that day compared to every other day since. She wanted to be near me and we cuddled on the couch where she had a nap in my arms. She has hardly ever done so since – probably because she is now so settled and confident. Foxie will come up to you, sniff your hands to see if you have food and, if you’re empty handed, will simply walk away shrugging off any pats. Don’t get me wrong. Foxie is a lovely dog and loves us very much just in her own way and probably not how most dog demonstrate love and affection.

That being said I am the only one who walks her and it has created a unique bond between us. When I say walk what I really mean is a series of long sniffs punctuated by brief moments of plodding along. Approximately 10 seconds into a sniff-fest she will totally forget that I am even there and that she is on a lead until she snaps back into reality and looks up at me with a “Oh hello, I didn’t know you were here and that we were on a walk but it is nice to see you!” expression on her face only for the process to repeat itself moments later. It is a different story, however, when we finally reach the oval. I let her off the lead and most (if not all) of her focus is on me and she will trot after me and we get quite playful.

Foxie’s character

As I’m sure you can probably already tell, Foxie is not what anyone would describe as a ‘normal’ dog. Rather, she is wonderfully weird. For starters I don’t think Foxie realises that she is in fact a dog. As I mentioned earlier, she is obsessed with human food. When we put her bowl of dog food down she briefly sniffs at it then looks directly up at us as if to say “Um, this is dog food where is my serve of your dinner?” Nor does she bark. In fact, I have only ever heard her bark twice. The first time was when I picked her up for the first time which made me exclaim “Oh my gosh she is actually a real dog!” The second time was when we were finishing up a walk and she saw a cat underneath a car. I looked around trying to find the dog that was barking and then looked down and was shocked to find that it was in fact my own! To top it off she has zero interest in toys and barely notices other dogs.

Everyone who meets Foxie is struck my her gentle and calm nature. She seems to take everything in her stride and she is a very independent soul. It seems like she is in her own little world of contentedness and is perfectly happy to totter around from sleeping spot to sleeping spot.

Highlights

I am all too aware that this is already a long post, and, therefore, I will restrict its remainder to a few key events and focus on how Foxie has changed not only my life for the better but also that of my family.

In order to better understand the effect Foxie has had you need to know a bit more background info. The past two years have been incredibly difficult. Life before that had been very difficult, but the start of 2013 and the end of 2014 took hardship and suffering to a whole new level. My experience of grief and trauma can be summarized and encapsulated in one word – surprising. It is nothing like I expected.

In the weeks after Dad’s death I was in shock and running on auto-pilot. A lot needs to be done when someone dies. There was no time or opportunity to grieve and mourn. Then when Mum was hospitalised I went numb and all my time and energy went into surviving and getting through each minute in one piece. It took months until I was in a place where I could start to actually feel anything. But by then I felt like I was on my own. A lot of my support network had moved on and thought I had too.

The grief and trauma started to consume and isolate me. Life ground to a halt. Everything (even the ‘simplest’ of tasks) was a struggle. I didn’t have the physical energy or mental space for daily tasks let alone the complicated ones that loomed over me. I felt like a robot. I would put on a mask of a functional person when I needed to. I went to work, I saw my psychologist, I went to dancing, I went to church. I scraped by and tried to be normal. But I couldn’t get out of bed for days afterwards.

I still struggle with this every day. At the moment my life is about getting through the next minute, the next hour, the next day, the next week or the next month. Next year and the future is little more than an abstract distant thought. I need time – a lot of it. This would have been a much more bleak picture if it weren’t for Foxie. She makes us laugh and it hard to be sad for long with her cuteness and antics.

Some lessons are hard to take. I crave affection but she is not an ‘affectionate’ dog in the typical way. That is just the way it is and it is helping me to develop the ability to be intrinsically rather than extrinsically comforted. One day, I could not contain my pain and emotions anymore and they exploded in a fit of tears and hyperventaliting. To my shock, Foxie immediately woke up, got up out of bed and quickly walked over to me and just quietly stood still at my feet. She had never done that before. For a dog who can’t see or hear particularly well she was very attentive to my emotions. She stood there with me mindlessly patting her until the tears stopped and my breathing returned to normal before resuming her nap, keeping one eye and ear in my direction until she nodded off. That was a very powerful moment that I will never forget. It seemed so out of character for both of us and it reminded me that people (and dogs) can always surprise you.

Christmas Eve 2014

Foxie has changed who I am and how I see myself and the world. I had an epiphany last Christmas Eve. I was sitting in an empty waiting room at the vet. I didn’t know what was going to happen from one second to the next and that weighed heavily on me. My father had just died, my mother was in hospital, my relationship with my sister was under strain and my friends were away.

Prior to Dad’s death, my coping strategy involved putting all of my time and energy into keeping my life together and moving forward through adversity. But afterwards I was exhausted and I couldn’t do that anymore. So suddenly I had no coping strategy and at that very moment it felt like my world was collapsing in around me. I felt so alone and vulnerable. I didn’t know what to do and I had no control. I had this small sick dog cradled in my arms and I felt helpless. I looked at her, fighting back tears, and she looked at me with such a calm, comfortable and trusting expression. I was overwhelmed by that look. She was more vulnerable than me yet she was so serene and quietly confident. How can anyone be so trusting particularly given what she had been through? I wanted to be that forgiving and that trusting. She barely knew me but I could tell that she loved me. I realised that I had so much to learn and that God had placed her in my life to give me an opportunity to learn some important lessons. In that moment I truly realised that I had to learn to fully trust and rely on God instead of trying to sort my life out myself. Foxie made that Christmas bearable.

Graduation 2015

I love graduations and earlier this year I graduated for a second time, which was just as, if not more significant than the first, considering what I had had to overcome in order to complete the degree. Yes we celebrated but Foxie had been very sick and was on our minds the whole time. We didn’t know if she was going to make it and I could not cope with the thought of her dying. I hadn’t been able to see her for what felt like ages and so I turned down a celebratory graduation lunch in favour of going straight to the vet to see her. Foxie had always been there for me and I wanted to be there for her. She was so shaky and had a pained expression on her face. Thankfully she accepted my offering of chicken and a few minutes into our cuddle I could feel her getting more relaxed and comforted. I gently held her close and prayed with all my might demanding that God heal her. I had already experienced so much loss and pain and losing Fox would be the last straw. It has been a long journey but Foxie is now on the road to recovery and will (hopefully!) stay a happy and well little dog.

Love can heal.
Love can heal.

Thank you!

Thank you to that family on whose doorstep our precious little Fox was found. Thank you for your compassion. Your decision has had a lasting impact on so many. Thank you to Heidi who visited and rescued Fox from the pound. Thank you for looking past all the difficulties to see dogs for what they really are and need. Thank you to Nerida who was an outstanding foster carer and for introducing her to us and entrusting her to our care. Thank you to everyone at No Kill Pet Rescue and Furever Pets and particularly to those who gave money so that Foxie could have the surgery that has made her life so much better. Thank you to Kirrawee Vet Hospital for being so accommodating towards us and for taking such good care of Foxie through all of her health struggles. Thank you also to those at Sydney University Vet Hospital who looked after her during her most recent surgery.

My heart, thoughts and prayers also go out to those who were a part of Foxie’s life before the events related above. May God bless you and give you comfort that she is a very happy, happy, loved and spoiled precious little Fox.

Want to find out more and what you can do?

Donate to and/or adopt a dog from No Kill Pet Rescue

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No Kill Pet Rescue saved Foxie and thousands of other wonderful dogs. NKPR relies on donations from the public to rescue and help dogs like Foxie recover from neglect and abuse to be rehomed to live the life that they need and deserve. New dogs regularly become available for fostering or adoption.

Support Oscar’s Law

Donate and/or sign the petition to stop the sale of dogs from puppy factories.  

Animals Australia

Follow this link to find out more about how to live cruelty free.

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With love from Foxie and her aunty Claire.

Put your money where your mind is – an exploration into our attitudes to paying for mental health services

Image source: http://savingsuniversity.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/money-mind-dollar1.jpg

Over the past few years, I have worked as a medical receptionist at two clinics that offer mental health services. In that time, I have noticed something about the way the general public conceptualise and treat paying for mental health services. This post is likely to raise more questions than answers – questions like: what value do we put on mental health services? In particular, why do some people treat paying for mental health services differently to other medical and even non-medical services? Unsurprisingly, this leads to even more questions, such as – how well do the general public understand the difference between the qualifications and specialisations of the different types of mental health professionals?

But at least questions are a logical place to start. 

Over the past decade there has been a significant increase in public awareness and normalisation of mental health issues. In fact, I get the sense that it is ‘trendy’ to promote mental health awareness on social media platforms. Social media is a powerful tool for facilitating the ongoing process of reducing the misunderstandings held by the general public toward mental health challenges and the discrimination and stigma faced by those who have them.

Most people can think of more than one example off the top of their heads. ‘Movember’ is a case in point. Australians from many walks of life have been quick to embrace and represent the message of promoting and establishing an ongoing dialog on men’s mental health (to find out more click here). There has also been an increase in the visibility of mental health services such as Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute. Although there is still room to improve, more and more people are getting the help they need, especially those who, for whatever reason/s previously wouldn’t or couldn’t. I have met people from all walks of life who have made the step towards improving their mental health. This is very encouraging and I am not shy about the fact that I have been seeing mental health professionals for many years and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Perhaps it is this relative ‘newness’ which has lead to the questions posed at the start of this thought bubble. The fact that people are using mental health services suggests that they find them valuable. Yet this doesn’t seem to match up with the monetary value they place on it. In short, people want to use the service without paying for it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not taking issue with the cost of mental health services. Mental health services can be expensive. Rather, the issue is our attitude towards paying for this treatmentWe need to change our minds on how we view paying for mental health services.

We need to change our minds on how we view paying for mental health services.

I find myself in the minority of patients who do not question or subversively (or otherwise) try to renegotiate my psychologists’ fee. I am very grateful for the assistance I have received from the government in the form of mental health rebates. In addition, as a low-income earner who requires regular sessions, I am particularly grateful that my current psychologist offered to provide her services at a discounted rate. The difference is that I did not expect or feel entitled to that assistance. My intention here is not to boast from a high horse. Rather, it is to illustrate what I assumed was normal thinking and that most people had this same attitude. As it turns out, I assumed incorrectly and I want to understand why this is the case.

As a medical receptionist who has received intensive mental health therapies, I have the fairly unique opportunity of seeing it from both the practitioner and client’s point of view. The fact is that some people who use the Medicare rebate choose to rather than need to. That being said, it is called Better Access for a reason: “the Better Access initiative is available to patients with an assessed mental disorder who would benefit from a structured approach to the management of their treatment needs.” (Better Access to Mental Health Care: Fact Sheet for Patients). It is not for me to judge (I will leave that up to the professionals). What I take issue with are those clients who can afford to pay the gap between the Medicare rebate and the practitioner’s fee but either refuse to or argue the matter. Under the conditions of the Better Access scheme it clearly states that “charges in excess of the Medicare rebate are the responsibility of the patient.” Some people genuinely can’t afford to pay the gap, however, many can but just don’t want to. I have never had a chiropractic or naturopathic client question paying the gap for their treatment. Not once. So what is the difference? It seems to come down to the notion that there is a dissonance between the value and the perceived value of mental health services.

…there is a dissonance between the value and perceived value of mental health services.

In typical Claire fashion, I turned to research for answers. Despite being conducted in the United States of America and published in 1997, Farberman’s research findings give insight into the current situation in Australia. According to her research findings “…concerns about cost and insurance coverage and a general lack of knowledge of what appropriate mental health services are and can accomplish were the most serious barriers for consumers to seeking out mental health services.” (Farberman 1997, p.135) Furthermore, despite recognising the value of mental health services, participants in the study were not willing to pay more to have that coverage (Farberman 1997, p.134). 

Peter Shallard, a mental health practitioner, wrote an enlightening blog post on this topic. His clients described his service as “expensive” despite the fact that, at first, he only charged $50(!). According to the Australian Psychological Society, the ‘average’ recommended fee for services lasting between 46-60 minutes is $235. In my experience, psychologists do not even come close to charging this recommended amount. Why? Is it because they think that people can’t afford it or because they know that people won’t pay for it – or is it a bit of both?  Most psychologists charge between $100-180 with an average of approximately $145 for a 50-60 minute session. The Medicare rebate is $124.50 which pays for most of the session. At my current workplace the gap is $18.50 – an amount which most people in my world spend on Saturday morning brunch. 

My best friend is a provisional psychologist. I have witnessed how hard she has had to work to get to this point and every day I see how much time, energy and money is spent on continuing her journey to become a registered psychologist. People don’t become mental health workers to get rich. They do it because they want to help people. It costs ‘that much’ because the costs of being a mental health worker need to be covered. These costs vary according to a mental health worker’s qualifications, job title, specialisation and level of experience. For example, to become a registered psychologist requires six years of tertiary training and supervision, a process which requires at least $50, 000. Then there are ongoing costs such as professional development, registration with the Australian Psychological Society, and, for those in private practice, renting premises to conduct their service.

Back to Peter Shallard’s post. He makes the point that when a client says “that’s too expensive” they are demonstrating an unconscious comparison. In response, he started to ask “expensive compared to what?” and the answers were very telling. They indicated that clients were comparing mental health services to something unrelated and often incomparable. However, there is a difference between mental health and other services. In Peter’s example, a client was comparing his service, which specialises in overcoming addictions, with their child’s piano lessons. In keeping with our previous image, an hour of specialised mental health treatment is not comparable with eggs benedict and a certified organic latte. In Peter’s words, “They’re not the same, and there are no similarities that can be drawn.The unconscious comparisons people make regarding price…rarely hold up to closer scrutiny.”

…clients were comparing mental health services to something unrelated and often incomparable. However, there is a difference between mental health and other services…

In light of the above, what lies behind and how do we go about reconciling the actual value of mental health services with its perceived value? There is a subtle but important difference between paying for a product and a service. A service is much more complex and variable than a product. However, unlike other services, the outcomes or ‘product’ of mental health are particularly variable and difficult to measure. For example, unlike paying a hairdresser for a haircut, a client doesn’t necessarily have anything to ‘show’ five minutes after an appointment with a mental health worker. In this way, mental health services cannot (rightly so) guarantee a particular outcome and don’t provide instant gratification. Clients need to approach mental health services with this in mind. This can be facilitated in a few different ways. Mental health workers and those who use these services can talk about their experiences and suggest some more realistic expectations, in particular how therapy is a process that won’t happen overnight. In addition, a client’s reluctance to pay for mental health services provides an insight into and opportunity for the practitioner to address the client’s belief systems.

So what now?  The general public would benefit from a better understanding of the different types of mental health practitioners and the services they provide. This can be achieved by incorporating these differences into mental health public awareness campaigns and information services. 

Finally, it is more important to find a mental health worker with whom you have an effective practitioner-client relationship than finding someone who is “more affordable” but is not the right fit. Otherwise it is a waste of everyone’s time, money and energy. If you have questions about the financial cost of mental health services don’t hesitate to talk with your practitioner or healthcare professional (after all that is what they are there for). Most of all, try to approach and value mental health services on its own terms.

Have you experienced this? I’d love to engage with you and your thoughts and experiences on this topic. 

I would like to thank Angie Hodgkins for her feedback and insight.

References

Farberman, R.K. (1997), ‘Public attitudes about psychologists and mental health care: Research to guide the American Psychological Association public education campaign’, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol 28(2), Apr 1997, pp.128-136 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0735-7028.28.2.128> (accessed June 4, 2015)

Native Box Review – Autumn 2015 Beauty Box

And now for something completely different. Here is a description of my first subscription box experience and a review of the Native Box Autumn 2015 Beauty Box.

What is Native Box? (in a nutshell)

Based in Australia, Native Box is a family run subscription box service whose mission is to source and share quality Australian-owned and made, eco-friendly, natural and organic alternatives to ‘conventional’ food, health, beauty and lifestyle products.

To date, Native Box provides a choice between the Classic and Beauty boxes which are available in monthly, 3 month, 6 month and 12 month subscription options. I chose the Beauty Box Seasonal Subscription at $24.95 a quarter.

Why Native Box?

It turns out that I have a shopping philosophy. Wherever possible I prioritise Australian made and owned produce and products that are ethically produced, cruelty-free and made from natural ingredients. It just makes sense to me. Buying local supports Australian agriculture and reduces my carbon footprint. Most importantly, Australia is blessed with good quality produce that is fresher and tastes better. What is not to like? I want to make the most of the opportunities we have particularly given the fact that there are a lot of people in the world who do not have this choice. I’m not a hipster, rather I’m just not comfortable with putting unnecessary chemicals on or in my body particularly when there are natural (and sometimes better) alternatives which, thankfully, are becoming more readily available (no more excuses!).

Subscription box “unboxings” are the latest craze in the online beauty community. I can see the appeal. Every month or season you get a box of surprise products to try. The quality and value of these boxes varies significantly yet I would watch unboxing videos out of curiosity both at what is in the boxes and the psychology behind them.  I never contemplated ever getting one because I didn’t think that one would exist that meets my criteria. Besides, as the proliferation of black pots in my bathroom and bedside drawer suggests (not to mention the fact that all of the staff in my local store all know me by name) I am a proud LUSH devotee. However, the only drawback is that LUSH is a UK owned company.

Then I found Native Box.

Finding natural and ethnical products is getting easier. But finding Australian ones is a bit trickier. Native Box takes the hard work out of finding products that fit my shopping philosophy.

What’s in the box? (“in the box, what’s in the box today?”)

The seasonal beauty boxes are thoughtfully curated to suit each season. The Autumn box includes products to cater for the drop in temperatures and the accompanying dry winds by focusing on moisturisation.

The box came with an introductory welcome letter and a list and description of the products and companies included in the box which was a nice touch.

I received seven products in my Native Box Autumn 2015 Beauty Box. I enjoyed the mix of mini/sample and full-sized products. I find the former perfect for travelling. Here are the products in order of unboxing.

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Sealicious – Hand and Nail Cream and Hand and Foot Scrub

These two sample pots were the first product I pulled out. I wasn’t sure how to best use them so I used the scrub on my feet and the cream on my hands. As a dancer and non-driver my feet take a battering and I am forever searching for the perfect tired and sore foot remedy and effective callous treatment. The scrub contains very fine sea salt that I didn’t need to wash off which is great because it is works as a moisturiser and scrub in one which saves time, effort and money = winning.

The hand cream had a strong but fresh citrus orange scent and worked fine. It was light but took a lot longer to absorb into my skin compared with and was greasier than the Absolutely Gorgeous product described below. But it now lives in my handbag and will come in handy (pun not intended but embraced in hindsight). Would I purchase? Foot scrub maybe? Cream, no.

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Anerah – Rosewater Hydrating Face Mist

I. Love. Facial. Sprays. I use them often and abundantly. I use them as part of my everyday skin routine and throughout the day (particularly on days where Sydney’s humidity shows on my face just from doing anything). I douse my face and body in toner during Zumba drink breaks and after bellydancing. It also does the trick when I’m tired and need a refreshing boost and pick-me-up. The sample size fits perfectly in my handbag and goes everywhere with me. Rose is one of my favourite scents so it was love at first spray. Would I purchase? I might try and make something similar myself first.

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Absolutely Gorgeous – Hand and Body Lotion (Lavender and Mandarin)

This came as a full-sized product which made me happy. Unlike most lotions this product has a light and thin consistency yet it still provides deep moisturisation that is quickly and easily absorbed into the skin. It has a subtle smell and I keep it on my bedside table for quick and easy use to give me immediate soft hands before I dash out the door. Would I purchase? Probably not, mostly because it will take me ages to get through the one I currently have.

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Anerah – Organic Mint Lip Balm

I received this box towards the tail end of a very heavy head cold. You know the type when you’ve been buried in bed all week where even the simplest of tasks and bodily functions more than a cm away from an aloe vera tissue is unthinkable. The one where you’ve been breathing in and out through your mouth to the point where you start to question whether or not you’re Darth Vader reincarnated. For the first few days, in a mucus induced haze, I decided that my lips were fine and that I didn’t need to expend energy putting on lip balm. That was a mistake. By day three I felt like my lips were slowly detaching from my face. Attractive! I was using every lip balm I have to try to put them back together to little avail. Then I put a thin layer of this stuff on and they were cured almost instantaneously! Would I purchase? A resounding yes!

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Skin – Line Smoothing Serum

I don’t use anti-ageing products (and at 28 years old I’d like to think that this is common!). To be honest the ‘dreaded’ signs of ageing doesn’t bother me, at least not at this point in my life. The box includes 4 generous sample pouches but I don’t think I will ever use it or I’d only use it once just because and so as not to waste it. Would I purchase? Nope.

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Weleda – Oat Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner

The box included a sample pouch of the shampoo and conditioner respectively which was enough for a single application to my thick medium-long hair. Contrary to the description, there was nothing delicate about the product’s scent (it reminded me of the cough-syrupy sickly artificial cherry flavour of Starburst chews that I always avoid). Even by sachet standards they were REALLY hard to open (particularly when you’re already in the shower – teeth were essential). BUT it left me with soft, silky, smooth and manageable hair that retained its body. I enjoyed leaving my hair down and showing it off, swishing it around for the next few days after which the effects naturally wore off. Would I purchase? Perhaps. I am certainly glad to have found this brand and will explore other products in their range.

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Figue Essence – Vegan Eye Shadow Spring/Summer in Impress

As the saying goes – last but certainly not least is a make-up product. Eyeshadow is my favourite part of make-up so needless to say this was one of the most exciting items I received. For such a light shade it is a remarkably pigmented pale yellow gold champagne colour with lots and lots of shimmer. It would make a dramatic inner corner highlight but on its own perhaps too much for an every day look. I will be perfect and I will save it for bellydance performances. Being a loose mineral pigment it should be mixed with a binding agent to prevent fallout and enhance its longevity (or just muddle through like I inevitably will). Will I purchase? No, only because I have so much eyeshadow already and don’t perform enough to justify a re-purchase.

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Overall experience

At first my experience was less than positive. I decided to try Native Box to as part of a ‘self-care’ initiative in an effort to make myself feel a bit better (I truly find it hard to do nice things for myself). I submitted and paid for my order following the website’s instructions and prompts but my order was not showing. I emailed Native Box customer support immediately but it took a long time to receive a reply and I was not satisfied with their responses. In my experience, the ordering process was unnecessarily complicated and inefficient. Also, a simple apology for the problems I was experiencing would have been appreciated. After numerous back and forth emails, my order was finally processed and I received a number of automated emails notifying me of each step of the shipment process. For me, one major drawback, is that Native Box use Australia Post to deliver their products. My local Australia Post facilities are very inconvenient and do not follow instructions or proper procedures *pats self on back for suppressing desire to majorly rant*.

So although I was very happy with the product itself, my negative experience with ordering and receiving the box has left me lukewarm and hesitant to order again at present. I need less not more things to think about and do. The stress and inconvenience meant that it defeated the purpose of purchasing the box in the first place.

My overall verdict? = Give it a go. The box represents good value and the products are quality and I want to encourage others to support Australian ethical businesses and products. In terms of customer service you might have better luck (or be less bothered by it) than me.

Do or would you subscribe to this or a similar subscription box? Share your experience with us.

Want to know more. Click the link to the Native Box website https://nativebox.com.au