My LETS journey

I can’t exactly remember when I joined LETS, but it must be a long time ago as my membership number is 0009.

I was a single parent with a difficult child. It was hard to function.

I had no family and no supportive community network. Life was a big struggle in those days and I just remember lurching from one exhausted crisis to the next. My son was very antisocial and succeeded in getting kicked out of every school he went to and a number of institutions after that.

But I remember going to a lovely trading day at the house of Isabelle and Michael, and on a bike ride with their kids.

I got cancer and was paralysed five times, then was in and out of hospital. I was unable to continue my high-powered academic job.

Recovery starts

By this stage I knew what isolation and loneliness felt like, as well as sadness, loss, despair and a reduced physical and mental capacity.

When I got over the surgery, chemo, radiation and successive paralyses, I was determined to get my body strong.

‘Give what you need’

I was of the opinion: give what you most need. I started a community walking group and so, for a couple of years, I led bushwalks from the top of Mt Gravatt, off-track on Mt Gravatt and over to Toohey Forest, building community and supporting people to heal in nature.

When my body was strong enough, I did a number of jobs requiring physical labour. One involved painting professional buildings.

One of the people on the walks was a member of BrisLETS and reminded me about LETS again.

She had decided to downsize and move house, and was advised to get the house painted, inside and out. The quoted price was prohibitive. I offered to paint the house as a gift of friendship. I was given money for materials plus some LETS units for the job, and found I was active in LETS again.

Brain back on line

A few more operations later and my capacity for manual work wasn’t as great as it had been.

But my brain was coming back on line and I started using my professional skills again. As a neuroscientist, psychologist, trainer, assessor and adventure-based trauma therapist, I had a range of skills.

I had always been interested in how I could encourage people to write as part of their therapeutic journey. When I saw a memoir-writing workshop advertised on BrisLETS in 2018, I went along to see if that would help with my vision.

I met Josephine Brown and have grown to love and respect her as a trusted friend. Her encouragement and high level of excellence in her work gave me the confidence to begin to bloom again and start some private-practice counselling, training and outreach, which has resulted in me connecting with a whole new community of LETS members.

I took the pictures for the cover of fellow-BrisLETS member Dawn Joyce’s new book, Imagining Peace, and was invited to her book launch.

New friends and renewed purpose

She went on to promote and support me in a tremendous way, which has allowed me to showcase my skills and consider opportunities for future projects.

A number of BrisLETS members have put their trust in me and, as a degree-qualified psychologist, I have been able to offer them psychological support, for LETS units, either in person or by Skype.

I have joined with Josephine to encourage storytelling for community connection at the BrisLETS monthly trading days at Albion.

I am now blessed, through BrisLETS, to be a member of a rich and thriving community through which I have developed many friends and avenues of purpose.

Jenn Wallace, BLCE0009

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