Make the Most of What You Get
MAKING THE MOST OF WHAT YOU GET
by Monique Mulligan
A DANISH proverb says: The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man be perfected without trials.
None of us want to face adversity, difficult or horrific life challenges, but no one can avoid it. How we deal with it depends on many factors: personality, circumstance, support and more. But what this quote is saying is simple, yet ironic: is often through adversity that people find the best in themselves and others.
Three Perth women who have experienced this first-hand are joining forces to share their stories of success through adversity on International Women’s Day, March 8. Each of them has faced incredible challenges – from walking the Kokoda track, to becoming a World Fitness Figure Champion, to surviving the “un-survivable”. Through their challenges, Dr Ann O’Neill, Janette Philp and Michelle Nazaroff have, as Roman poet Horace said, been given the “opportunity to discover” their abilities.
Some may be familiar with Ann’s story.
Nearly 20 years ago, she was the victim of a shocking, unthinkable crime that robbed her of her two children, her leg and life as she knew it. Her estranged partner broke into her home, shooting her, then her children, before turning the gun on himself.
These days, the founder of angelhands, an organisation dedicated to helping victims of serious crime, would rather talk about where she is at now in her life, about the heroes who inspire her to keep on going no matter what.
A State finalist for WA Australian of the Year in 2011, Ann has used her devastating experience to become a passionate advocate of the needs and rights of crime victims, focusing on what she says is a lack of social support for crime victims.
“I’ve always been of the belief that this happened to me for learning, for something beneficial,” she said.
“I’m not interested in the voyeuristic aspect (of telling the story).
“I’m concerned about prevention, so we are better equipped for those left in the aftermath.”
As she warmed to her theme, revealing the disenchantment she feels at times, the passion was evident in her voice.
“We live in a society that’s fixated on legal justice,” Ann said.
“As a community, we’re all responsible for social and moral justice.
“I hear people say, what’s the Government doing about it? Well, what am I doing about it?
“We all know youth suicide is an issue, and depression, but what are we actually doing about it? In what way are we contributing?
“Each and every one of us is part of the solution - It’s not someone else’s problem - it’s our community.”
Her strength of spirit and belief that there was a reason behind her life experience may have pulled her through to her current path, but Ann recognises that it is not always the way for crime victims.
“I like to be the co-director of my life rather than a passive actor of scenes in scenes that someone else writes - I can’t control all the actors, scenes or sets, but I can control my part,” she said.
“I look at other people and think, ‘Wow, they’ve been through so much’.”
Sorrento Live Love Laugh author and adventurer Janette can happily say she has been through a lot, but freely admits much of it was by choice.
She is a woman who radiate happiness – it’s in her voice, words, body language and even her emails – she’s not just “good”, she’s “fabulous”.
“Life’s too short. I endeavour to live within the moment. Why not be happy?” she said.
The classic poet Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I wished to live deliberately” - for Janette, who got her pilot’s license at 40, the word “deliberately” drives her decision to look at life positively, to seize challenges and not accept the word “can’t”.
“What do I say to people who say ‘I can’t’? Remove the‘t’. You can do it,” she said.
“People are so fearful of everything.
“Set your goal to what you want to do, as long as it’s physically or realistically possible.
“As soon as you put your focus towards something, things start happening, things start gravitating towards you.
“I led a group of women, just because I wanted to, on the Kokoda Track.
“That was an amazing experience. I call it life-changing.
“It was physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. To see the changes in the women... all 12 of them, they have gone out and inspired others.
“I intend to continue climbing and trekking for as long as I can. I have a list of all the things I want to do, like walk the Inca trail.
“I’ve always got something exciting to look forward to.”
Despite being born with mild aortic stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve, Waikiki mother-of-one Michelle Nazaroff had plenty to look forward to until open heart surgery got in the way.
At 29 and more than halfway through a five-year goal of winning a world bodybuilding figure title, she was told that she would no longer be able to train or compete and that having children could be risky.
Against the odds, Michelle recovered, got married, won her world title and had a child.
Ann, Janette and Michelle’s stories could not be more different. But what these flourishing women do have in common is the success – personally and professionally – they have achieved despite what life has thrown their way.
On International Women’s Day, they will share their stories at Keynote Events’ International Women’s Day function at the Gary Holland Community Centre.
The function runs from 11am to 4pm and includes networking, an expo, a two-course lunch and these three inspiring women as keynote speakers.
Tickets cost $165 (inc. GST), $1100 for a VIP table of 10.
For a booking form, contact Mabel on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0415 700 637.