jenn jay tales

Jennifer Johnston shares her travel tales; life adventures; observations, photos and random thoughts

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How I lost half of myself

A weight loss journey

Background to the story

It’s well known there is a noticeable drop in the number of female lifesavers who continue volunteering once they reach age 50 and over. To continue as a lifesaver requires passing an annual proficiency test which involves a swim, run and obviously a certain amount of fitness. Maybe it’s hard to make the commitment later in life as other priorities take over? But not for Helen Hallett. She will be 55 years’ young in September.

Helen continues in her voluntary capacity as a lifesaver at the Gold Coast, a role she’s loved since her mid 20’s. She also works full-time for Surf Lifesaving Queensland. I initially met Helen in the Brisbane office of Surf Lifesaving Queensland, while I was working for the Lifeguard team. Helen is one of those work colleagues you love to be around. Upbeat, fun, generous with her time and incredibly passionate about what she does within the lifesaving community. Helen was the reason, as a freelance writer, I began researching a feature story on the 10 year anniversary of the Boxing day tsunami. We were at our desks in the office one afternoon, when a discussion began about Helen and her family’s incredible experience in Thailand during the Boxing Day tsunami – it was a real sliding doors moment. I wrote the story (with Helen and her family a major part of the story) and it ended up being published by QWeekend, titled Fatal shore. Qweekend article 13.12.14

A few months later I spied a call out from an Australian tabloid magazine for an inspirational real life story for “mature” women. I knew Helen would be a perfect choice having discussed her weight loss journey when interviewing her for the tsunami story. She agreed to do the article.  Helen generously gave more of her time to me to share her weight loss story. It’s not easy to share something so personal. That was 15 months ago and I’m not sure whether the magazine ended up publishing the story (I was paid for it.)  One of the many frustrations of being a writer!

So I’ve decided to share Helen’s story here, because I feel it’s a story worthy of sharing. Hopefully I’ve changed it enough to not conflict with the tabloid Magazine article (should they ever publish it!) Continue reading

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Home Towns or close to them

Caloundra isn’t my home town but Caloundra feels like a home away from home – so close to Brisbane.

Here’s a link to a few home towns  including mine on Caloundra shared on Travel Blog All Around Oz

Moffat Beach

Moffat Beach



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50 Shades of grey – my experience

Glad the title drew you in!  But I’m not talking bondage and love trysts (sorry not this time) I’m talking hair.  This is all about embracing your grey?  Read about my guest post with Champagne Cartel Going grey with Style 

Grey hair colour

Denise O’Neill, a 52-year-old administrative assistant from Belfast, Ireland, found out going grey actually enhanced her beauty. “The way I see it, the beauty of grey hair is one of nature’s best kept secrets and is only revealed if you give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can always dye again. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to be afraid and don’t be put off by other people’s opinions. You will get people who will be negative about it, even your closest family and friends, especially during the transitioning phase when your hair will most likely look a mess. Keep focused and keep in mind the end goal. Only then will you see the new you – and then you can judge if you like it.” (extract from article in UK’s the Daily Mail  )

Lol – I’m trying to follow Denise’s advice!

What about you? what will / are you doing?

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Singapore stopover – transit in an oasis

Be at their reception in less than 15 mins from the baggage carousel

Be at Hotel reception in less than 15 mins (walk) from the baggage carousel

One night in Singapore’s Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel is NOT enough – but long enough for me to write a review on it. Please take a look.

what better place to relax in Singapore while in transit

what better place to relax in Singapore while in transit

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Five Minutes of fame – interviewee is interviewed!

Swee Lee O’Gorman of DrinkingShampain Blog tracked me down to have a chat about a brief “interlude” I had (many moons ago) with someone very special in the Rock music scene.

Co-inciding with it being 18 years since the sad passing of Michael Hutchence, Swee Lee found a blog post I’d written a few years ago. As a fellow INXS fan I was happy to relive my very brief Michael Hutchence moment with her. Find her post here

Love the blogging community – how they reach out.

Thanks Swee Lee. xx




Boxing Day Tsunami – 10 year “anniversary”

A Sliding Doors Moment

“We’re born, we live, we die… sometimes not necessarily in that order. We put things to rest, only to have them rise up again. So if death is not the end, what can we count on anymore? Because you sure can’t count on anything in life. Life is the most fragile, unstable, unpredictable thing there is. In fact, there’s only one thing about life we can be sure of. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”  Meredith Grey – ‘Rise Up’ Grey’s Anatomy

Death is inevitable, but in between birth and death our life takes us on a journey and we travel down a path that twists and turns. For some, circumstances beyond our control, creates a dramatic shift which alters our life path from its original course.

The 2004 Boxing Day Asian Tsunami was one of those moments that dramatically altered the life trajectory of so many. This Boxing Day marks the 10th Anniversary of the 2004 Asian Tsunami. For anyone who experienced the tragedy of the Tsunami first hand, there has been a journey of healing and a change in their life’s journey.

Read my story about three people impacted by this Tsunami – published in Queensland’s Qweekend December 13th-14th edition 2014.

Qweekend cover December 13-14, 2014

Qweekend cover December 13-14, 2014

Qweekend article 13.12.14 scanned

Qweekend Fatal shore article p2.

My personal thanks go to the Hallett family (in particular Helen – whose story motivated me to start researching this); Rod Emerson who courageously shared his story about losing his older sister, Kim. To Kirsty Wright who spoke so openly and honestly about a job which outside of their world, no-one really appreciates how harrowing it must be. Thanks also to Sarah Yip whose personal story did not make it into this particular article (due to word length limitations) but is one I will share on my blog (soon) as it is a special and inspiring story.

Special thanks to Alison Walsh – Deputy Editor at Qweekend who took a punt on this Freelance writer and supported me throughout the process.