Ondine Sherman – Author of “The Miracle of Love” answers Ten Questions.
Last night I had the honour of being a guest at the launch of Ondine Sherman’s memoir The Miracle of Love. The first time I met Ondine was at a writer’s festival in Sydney. Though we had mutual friends and had seen each other around the traps, we had never really exchanged more than a ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’. At the writer’s festival however, we were ‘on the same page’ and Ondine and another writer invited me to join their writers group. Ondine was already deep into writing her memoir about her journey as a mother of disabled twin boys. Even at that those early stages, I knew that this book would touch many souls and would hopefully impact the way we as a community perceive disability. I also knew that I was in the presence of someone who takes action, follows through, is humble and brave, and would write her story with an open heart.
Some background on Ondine:
Ondine founded Voiceless in 2004 in partnership with her father Brian Sherman AM. Voiceless is now renowned as one of Australia’s leading, influential and cutting-edge animal protection groups. In 2012 she was nominated by Cosmopolitan magazine for their “Fun, Fearless, Female” Award and featured on their website and magazine. In 2009 she was nominated by News Limited and Microsoft as one of Australia’s top 10 Community Leaders and featured in The Australian. Ondine has been profiled on numerous occasions including the cover story of Good Weekend, ABC Television’s Australian Story, the cover story of The Australian Financial Review Magazine, The Weekend Australian Magazine’s Double Take and the Sydney Morning Herald. Her Op-Eds have been published in national media outlets. Ondine regularly gives public speeches on animal protection. In 2011 she was invited to give the Occasional Address for Macquarie University Graduates. Ondine grew up in Sydney Australia and now, with her husband, three children, a dog and a ninja cat, lives between Sydney and Tel-Aviv.
WonderWomen is thrilled to have Ondine answer Ten Questions during her press tour in Australia.
What is the essence of being a woman?
I think the essence of all of us, woman, man or other is the same: being true to yourself as well as practicing kindness, tolerance, love, and nurturing our humanity – to make the world better.
What do you feel unites women?
There are so many different ways to be a woman. If anything should unite us, it would be striving for equality for women who are persecuted just for being a woman as well as accepting and supporting the diverse ways in which we want to live our lives as women, mothers, sisters and daughters.
How do you stay strong, assertive and feminine?
As I have gotten older, I have worked hard to become stronger and more assertive. If you don’t know who you are and what you want, you will always live by other people’s rules – when it’s so much better to dance to the beat of your own drum! I have never been a particularly girly-girl and don’t even own a skirt. Being feminine isn’t about how you look but rather a softness and openness that allows us to share our stories, nurture and support one another.
What and who inspires you?
Mostly, I am inspired by nature and by animals. It can be as simple as a flowering weed growing on the side of a road or two birds chatting on a tree-branch. I’m also inspired by people who are totally open and honest about who they are, and at the same time, kind and respectful of others, and the world in which we live. Luckily I come across many inspiring people in my daily life: women I meet through Voiceless who work tirelessly to stop cruelty to animals; as well as the many, many women who dedicate their lives to helping children with special-needs reach their potentials.
How do you live your life so it has meaning?
I try to live my life so that I am contributing to making the world a better place. Often I feel like I’m not doing enough. But at other times, I believe I am making a difference and allow myself to feel proud of what my father and I have achieved with Voiceless. I think small daily acts are very significant; for me that might be deciding to not buy those beautiful shoes because they are lined with leather or choosing to pick up a plastic bag on the beach so that it doesn’t end up being digested by a turtle. My children also give my life endless meaning and joy.
What contribution would you like to make to benefit humankind?
The two causes closest to my heart are animals and the horrific suffering they endure for the sake of human greed and also children with special-needs. I have two beautiful boys with severe disabilities and there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that children like them get a fair go and their families are adequately supported.
How do you stay calm under pressure?
I can easily become stressed-out and overwhelmed. When I get like this, I become very quiet and to others, actually seem quite calm! I am working on maintaining inner-peace by taking my dogs for long walks and doing yoga.
How do you move from dream into action into completion?
I love the process of having a dream and turning it into a reality. I find breaking the task into tiny steps and then ordering them into long to-do lists and time-lines is helpful. As was written in the Tao Te Ching, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.
Three words to describe how you maintain a life balance.
Currently I’m juggling three kids, a dog and kitten, a husband, Voiceless and launching my book, The Miracle of Love. I’m working on a life-balance by trying not to feel guilty that I’m not doing enough in each area!
My three words would be: Remember to Breathe.
If you could ask any woman one question, what would you ask?
What’s your best piece of advice for living a contented life.
© Photograph of Ondine by Canan Kokden