AuthorLachlan Aird

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By Sandy Bauer

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.”  – Unknown Author

In the last couple of months my idea of how my life plan is supposed to go has changed in every way possible. I went from having a definite plan of sticking to the one job and going away in October to study, however a few minor ‘things’ fast tracked my so called life plans.

Fast forward – I went from living on a station to living in town within a week. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of living in a small town with a large supportive community, but the differences to station life are massive and I have had to learn a variety of new ways and skills. I still have a definite plan of studying to do my equine bodyworker certification in October, and that one is set in cement!

Within two days of searching, I was lucky enough to find a 3 bedroom house in town for $200 a week, an amount that I’ve never had to pay before. The usual station living fee is about $6 keep per day. The number one skill I have learnt since moving to town has been budgeting, it’s one of those adult tasks when you grow up that really makes you wish you weren’t at the ‘adult’ level yet.

Within the budgeting topic also comes the price of food. To live in town and just feed myself for about one-and-a-half weeks it costs approximately $100-$150. Most – mainly companies and some private places – have a food budget where they have a set amount of money aside to buy their workers the necessary food such as milk, butter, bread, cheese, sausages, fruit and veggies. Along with a lot of places having their own veggie gardens to cut costs – I will be making one in the near future!

I was lucky enough when moving into town that a family that I met when I was doing ‘School of the Air’ allowed me to agist my horses on their block. With the payment of checking a few fences and making sure the troughs are full 24/7. For that I am very grateful, the normal cost of keeping a horse in town is practically an arm and a leg for boarding – and then imagine the feed bill! This is compared to stations,, which usually allow their workers to have anywhere from one-to-four of their own private horses (varies for places) and they just live in the paddock and eat grass at little to no cost to the owner. Lucky for me, my current cost is a bit of horse feed and the essentials for keeping a dog in town, which equates to about $50 a month with the additional $40 council registration per dog. Something else you wouldn’t normally have to pay on a station!

Moving to town also comes with learning new skills, which in this case was my whole point of moving to town! I wanted to learn something new other than the general station hand duties. I want to be able to vary what I know and my skill levels, then incorporate it all into one job.

Currently my two jobs are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I work at the local service station. The jobs here really vary from cooking, cleaning, making coffee, serving customers and handling money. All skills that one day I can put back into station work, be it office administration or cooking.

My second job is as a Teacher’s Aide on Wednesday and Friday, although sometimes I fill in for a full week! This job is challenging but it’s something I really enjoy. The jobs vary from teaching the students, preparing work, helping them to complete their work, getting to know each kid and their personalities, fine tuning their skills and helping them to understand the correct behaviour to become better adults in the future. This job is perfect for sharpening my skill development, learning to become a leader and helping to develop the learning and thinking habits of young students.

Even though moving to town has plenty of ups and downs, like the new environment, more money spent, a large empty house and making new friends, it’s slowly growing on me. It is nice to remind yourself daily of the advantages that employees who work in the rural industry actually receive. They are the small things that quite often happen without you actually realising how lucky you really are!

Empower Profile: Aprille Legacy

Written by Michelle Monaghan – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

For this blog post, I found myself overjoyed and honoured to be interviewing one of my favourite authors and role models: Aprille Legacy.

Renee Dutton writing by the pen name (Aprille Legacy) is a successful self-published author who wrote her first novel, Soul Fire, in her final year of high school and published it on June 3, 2013. The novel was then made into a trilogy with a further two published novels. Since then, Renee has published the spin-off series to the Soul Trilogy, starting with A Veil Of Stars, which is part of the Lotherian Novellas.

Renee has even appeared on ABC’s Behind The News, in a writing segment where she ran a writing class with three students from a northern suburbs school.

I first met Renee when she ran a YA writers workshop at my local library in Victor Harbor where I live in South Australia, she discussed writing and the world of publishing. From that day on, Renee has inspired me and given me the confidence to start turning an idea I had into a novel that I would like to publish one day. I have also starting reading her books and highly recommend reading them – you won’t be disappointed!

Q1. So Renee, tell me a bit about your background and where your love of writing came from?

I lived in Victor Harbor for most of my life and attended Victor Harbor R-7 and Victor High. I was lucky enough to have wonderful teachers and special interest groups designed to nurture a love of reading and writing, so a natural curiosity was allowed to grow into full-blown interest.

My mother always had a book in hand, so it was only natural that I follow her lead. Penning my own stories was the next step.

Q2. When did you decide you wanted to try self-publishing your first novel Soul Fire’?

I’d finished Soul Fire and queried it a bit, but I’m a very impatient person and looked into self-publishing after one of my writer friends mentioned it. I liked what I saw, so I set out on that path.

Q3. What have been the challenges of being a self-published author and just a writer in general?

It’s very hard to stay motivated sometimes. When you’re trying to get a new project out there, it’s hard enough to just get the words down, but as a self-published author, you’re also working with designers, trying to meet your own deadlines, hoping you’ve set the right deadlines, organising events and launches… It can all get a bit overwhelming sometimes.

Q4. What advice can you give female writers out there about writing?

I think it’s important for us to have diverse female voices. The current trend in YA is good – strong heroines with a purpose and the strength and willing to make the sacrifice, but we need to diversify. We need girls who can admit that they’re frightened, or girls who are strong in other ways besides physically. We need voices that represent all people. My advice really is this – write for yourself. Pen the book you need to read.

Q5. Why do you think it’s important that we as women promote ourselves and have a voice?

I think female writers are important because they’re capable of bringing new stories to the table. I think it’s important that we have strong women for our girls to look up to, to follow in their footsteps, so that each generation can learn from the last and become better.

Q6. Do you have a female role model and if yes, who and why?

There are so many amazing women out there… I’d have to be corny and say my Mum. She’s an awesome person and has been nothing but one thousand percent supportive of my dreams and goals. She’d started me on this path of reading and writing, and now that I’m an adult, she is my partner is my publishing career. She is one of the strongest, most driven women I know. I couldn’t have asked for better support or guidance.

Q7. Finally, what has been your favourite thing about writing and publishing your own novels for people to read?

Everything. I have to write – it’s in my blood, like an itch. But when I write a story that makes someone come up to me, or write a review, or even just rate it, I know that the words and characters inside my head have come to life in someone else’s. It means I have done my job as an entertainer. I enhanced a few hours of someone’s life. That means far more to me than awards or prestige.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop writing stories – they just keep coming!

Check out this link to Aprille’s website and blog here:

And here is the link to where you can buy her amazingly addictive novels on Amazon:

Was The Manchester Concert Terrorist Attack An Attack On Girls?

Hearing the news breaking while working away on my desk of the terrorist attack at the Manchester Ariana Grande concert left me in disbelief. It was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the situation by reading about it on a screen – of the 14,200 people who attended, the majority were girls and their parents. It just seemed too cruel to target such a vulnerable and innocent part of society – no matter the attacker’s issue is with the United Kingdom or Western society, these girls were not to blame.

So why attack them? Well, I have some ideas…

For those unfamiliar with the details, on 22 May, 2017 a 22-year-old British Muslim man, Salaman Ramadan Abedi, detonated a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb at the exit of the Manchester Arena as the Ariana Grande concert ended, killing 23 people – including ten people under twenty and Abedi.

As truly shocking and terrible these details are for any reason – the main thing I kept thinking of was why this concert, why these people? It would be a stretch to imagine the concert full of politicians, lawmakers, police and all the types of people who someone trying to push an extremist agenda would be especially angry at – so it’s unlikely that these people would be amongst the dead or injured. However, I bet a lot of politicians, lawmakers, police and all the types of people someone trying to push an extremist agenda would be angry at would probably have young daughters and chances are they like Ariana Grande. Even if they weren’t in Manchester, would you let your young daughter go to a concert – no matter who was playing– in your city after an attack like this?

This, I argue, is the desired outcome from the attack. Not to try and murder 14,200 people, but to try and instill fear in normal, everyday families, all around the world to think twice about doing even the most normal thing in the world, like attending a pop concert.

Why though? Who cares about Ariana Grande? Well, I have some thoughts on that too. I personally think Ariana Grande is ridiculously talented. I also think she is ridiculously problematic. She was on the Disney Channel and now she’s an international pop star, who happens to have shed her squeaky clean Disney image for a much sexier one. Some see it as empowerment, other see it as unnecessarily provocative, some see it as dangerous.

Dangerous? I mean, the title of her show and album is Dangerous Woman! But how is she dangerous? She doesn’t hurt anyone. Her lyrics aren’t harmful or hateful or anything much except sex, love and heartbreak. But that’s it – there is a vast majority of the world who don’t think that girls (or women) should be listening to anything that promotes sex, love and heartbreak. All the reasons why are much too vast to explain here, but my point is that these are very normalised topics in Western society – girls (and guys) in Adelaide where I’m typing this deal with these issues on a daily basis from a young age… just like I’m sure they do in Manchester or any Westernised city.

The normalisation of what can be viewed of ‘dangerous’ topics is what I believe an attacker like Abedi was trying to stamp out. I believe he wanted any parent to think twice about what they’re children are watching, listening to or Googling. It’s a natural reaction, but it’s one based in fear. And fear is – essentially – the currency of terrorism. Terror attacks are always random – the idea is that you never see it coming, so that you become fearful in your daily life. If you become fearful enough, you might decide withdraw from ‘dangerous’ culture, like what Ariana Grande represents, for your safety, and bingo – a small win for the attackers.

This, I think, would be a huge shame. As problematic as I think many pop culture icons have become (I once reviewed a Nicki Minaj concert and I’ve never fully recovered) I think the choice of whether or not you choose to subscribe to them is fundamental. Blocking out anything controversial or slightly unsettling will send society backwards. Sure, perhaps the boundary has been pushed a little too far, but I believe there is a corporate greed propagating the old saying that ‘sex sells’.

But you know what else? A lot of these ‘dangerous’ voices are female – and I think that’s fantastic. They’re businesswomen and for many of them, they have worked very hard to get exactly where they are due to their intelligence and talent. And whether you like their music or image or not, that’s a fantastic thing for feminism.

When I was growing up I wasn’t allowed to watch The Simpsons because it was a bad influence and while in retrospect it seems insignificant, kudos to my parents for sticking to their guns for so long. I support a parent’s decision to guide their child’s morality based on their beliefs, but there is a limit. My parents weren’t afraid that I might die from watching The Simpsons, they thought I would learn swear words. Guess what? I learnt them one way or another – and way worse ones than what The Simpsons ever say.

So now I wonder how parents handle situations where the culture their children are consuming represents so much of what terrorist groups are fighting against? As the months pass from the Manchester attack, life goes on… Ariana Grande will go on (and so she should) and people will continue to go to pop concerts.

But now there’s a precedent for what can go wrong. There’s second guessing, re-thinking and doubt. And there’s fear. We live in a world where something like Ariana Grande can cause fear in a parent beyond whether the think her songs and lyrics are appropriate for their age. And I think that’s an important issue that we should all acknowledge, contemplate and overcome.

Being afraid of things we enjoy will not help us move forward – it’s no way to live. Be confident and proud in what you enjoy and what you believe in – and I don’t mean just pop music. Not everyone will agree with everything you do. Sometimes these reasons are justified, sometimes they aren’t. Use your judgement and morals to guide you – deep down you know what’s best.

Most importantly, don’t allow anything to stop you from expressing yourself in a way that makes you feel confident and empowered. It shouldn’t matter to anyone but you and you should never have to be fearful of things that you enjoy.