Newsletter Dec 2021

A collage of screenshots of 4 virtual terrarium workshops

Christmas and New Year Celebration by Dr. Bibiana Chan

Team CFS is all ready to put on our ‘Welcome Back Stall’ on Sat 11th December (outside Little Giant Roaster Café at 525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby). We received some generous donations from our supporters and we will launch the Petal-it-Forward campaign.     

2021 is another challenging year for many of us – COVIC-19 Pandemic is not going away yet. B.1.1.529, was confirmed in samples from more than 20 COVID cases. The World Health Organisation has named the new variant Omicron. Overnight, the stock markets around the world started panic selling! Travel plans to South African countries have to be shelved. There will be empty chairs at Christmas and New Year family gatherings again this year.

Australia is blessed with low death rates and relatively low positive cases compared to the rest of the world. However, it also came with a price! Melbourne is the city with the most days of lockdown! Residents in NSW also experienced 106 consecutive days of strict public health ‘Stay-at-home’ orders. Now that NSW is approaching an adult vaccination rate of 95%, we hope to ‘live with COVID-19’. As many of you are catching up with family and friends in person, please don’t let down your guards against COVID-19. Please continue to practise good hand hygiene, keep at least 1.5 m physical distance in indoor public space, wear a face mask when physical distancing may not be possible.  

I just finished writing my 6th COVID-19 Safe Plan for CFS to resume our face-to-face Creative Workshops at Chatswood Youth Centre. The first come back workshop (4/12) will be facilitated by two members of our Youth Subcommittee who are passionate about baking. You may like to register online to learn some ‘picture cookies’. Wouldn’t these cookies be nice to give to loved ones as Chrisie Presies!

Talking about the Youth Subcommittee, the two youngest members, McKayla & Sophie, both enjoyed co-facilitating virtual workshops with me. Their CFS volunteer experience would be valuable for future employment. Jasmine (the CFS Junior Florist) started working at a new florist at a busy train station in Oct. The 2020 summer intern, Hannah, accepted a job at one of the major banks after graduating from Macquarie University. Tiffany and Anthony now work in the field matching their qualifications. Jacque, the Co-chair of the Youth Subcommittee has received very positive feedback from her employer. They also taught me how to play games over the Internet during the extended lockdown 2.0. I’m very proud of them. I am very pleased with what CFS has achieved in the last 2 years:  Help Youth Learn Life Skills and Find Meaningful Employment! The CFS 2021 AGM will be held on Sun 5/12 at 11:30 am. A belated 2nd birthday party for CFS will follow. You are welcome to join either in person or via Zoom. Please drop Bibi a line on for more details.  Below was a collection of photos of members of the CFS Youth Subcommittee at various events in 2021. If you would like to find out more about the CFS Pre-Apprentice HELP ME GROW project, click here.

If you would like to purchase a DIY Succulent Terrarium Kit for a loved one or a friend as a Christmas present, order online here !


Flower of the Month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


Alstroemeria (Alstroemeria hybrids) also known as Lily of the Incas, Princess Lilies. Alstro (its shortened Aussie nickname) is a tuberous rooted herbaceous perennial.  It is part of the Alstroemeriaceae family which is native to South America (e.g. Peru) It is sometimes called the Peruvian Lilies. In Spring, Asltros form a clump of upright stems with mild to dark green leaves depending on variety. The flowering season is from mid to late Spring through Summer. There are many different varieties of Alstroemerias. Some popular colours are white, orange, apricot, green, purples, pinks and reds and take on a lily appearance with a variety of markings on the flower.

When planting they prefer a full sun, to part shade in warmer climates, a position that has moderately fertile well-drained soil. Alstroemeria are drought tolerant once established and with a layer of mulch protecting their tuberous roots. Alstroemeria is a low maintenance plant when established.  They make excellent cut flowers with a vase life of over 2 weeks. The Alstroemeria flowers are not fragrant which means they are a good addition for allergy sufferers. The meaning behind alstroemeria derived from the six beautiful petals of the flower. Each petal represents a different characteristic: understanding, humour, patience, empathy, commitment and respect. The logo of CFS also consists of 6 petals to represent 6 goals – community, creativity, growth, support, resources and recovery.   There are some shared symbolic meanings between alstroemeria and CFS: friendship (community), love (support), strength (growth and recovery) and devotion. They’re often thought to represent mutual support. And the ability to help each other through the trials and tribulations of life. Here are some tips for growing Alstroemeria. In this YouTube video clip, Ben Cross, a British flower grower will tell you everything you need to know about growing Alstroemeria! Ben is very passionate about what he does. He has been campaigning since 2014 for a project ‘British Flowers Rock’ to advocate for Britons to buy from local growers as 90% of the flowers sold in the UK are imported. 

Colourful Alstroemeria
Red and white Alstroemeria side by side.

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Christmas Workshop by Young People for Young People

Make Your Own Picture Cookies Workshopby Jacque, Anthony & Bibi Register today!

Date: Sat 4/12 Time: 1230 to 1430

Venue: Chatswood Youth Centre, 64 Albert Rd. (Crn of Albert and Victor Road)

Create your picture cookies
Floral cookies

Partly funded by Willoughby City Council. Send Bibi an email if you have any questions.:

A ‘Christmas Bell’ floral arrangement

Orange Alstroemeria is one of my favourites
A small vase with Alstroemeria & Kangaroo paws
Close up of a white bloom

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Woolly Bush

Woolly Bush (Adenanthos sericeus) is known for its soft, silver woolly foliage. It is a great alternative Christmas Tree and can be successfully grown in pots or in the garden bed. Highly recommended for therapeutic gardens due to their soft texture. Woolly Bush is an upright plant up to 3 metres tall and wide, with silky, silvery foliage. The flowers are red and attract birds. Its silver-green foliage and velvet soft texture is the features of Woolly Bush. It is a popular native leaf choice for cut flower arrangements. If you would like to support buying natives, Woolly Bush could be your 100% Aussie Christmas tree. It can be used as a screen plant if you choose a tall and upright variety of woolly bush. Pruning the tips of the plant will help it to flourish in Spring and Summer. It will thus form an attractive shape.  Since it is a native Australian plant, it is well-adapted to the local environment and doesn’t really require additional nutrients. However, you can feed in spring with low phosphorus fertiliser once a year.  The Woolly Bush prefers a full sun position in the garden that has well drained soils. It is low maintenance and requires very little water once established. Woolly Bush are a great feature shrub and can be planted in large pots and containers. Woolly Bush attracts nectar feeding birds into the garden. It was rated as one of the Top 5 Waterwise Plants in Australia by The Garden Gurus

A tiny red flower of Woolly Bush
An Aussie Xmas tree


Woolly Bush with silver leaves
Green Woolly Bush with soft velvet leaves

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Book Review

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Burnout – A Guide to Identifying Burnout and Pathways to Recovery

By Gordon Parker, Gabriela Tavella and Kerrie Eyers. 

I came across this book recently on ABC Breakfast on TV. My PhD research supervisor Prof Gordon Parker was interviewed to talk about his new book on Burnout. I have long been interested in the topic of Burnout which has an equivalent Chinese term 筋疲力盡 (Jīnpílìjìn) describing a state of ‘total exhaustion’! What is so interesting for me was that the reference to ‘total exhaustion’ in the Chinese concept had a single focus on the physical aspect of the body. The body was so very tired that it had consumed (finished/exhausted) all its strength.

The authors first presented a historical view of how ‘burnout’ is measured and diagnosed. According to the World Health Organisation’s ICD-11 manual: Burnout is

·       Energy depletion and exhaustion,

·       Increased mental disturbance from one’s job or feelings of negativism and cynicism related to one’s job and

·       Reduced professional efficacy.  

It is followed by the discussion on how their research team developed a ‘Sydney Burnout Measure’. They have confirmed the following about burnout: 

·       Exhaustion is a central component

·       Loss of Empathy or inability to feel

·       Work performance is compromised

What is new?

·       Impaired cognition – difficulty in concentrating; lowered attention span, poor memory, distractibility

·       Burnout and depression are not synonymous

·       Perfectionism heightens the risk of burnout

I vividly remember my own experience of something similar to total exhaustion, impaired cognition and inability to ‘feel’ anything! However, I still pushed myself to work harder. My perfectionist voice was screaming loud and clear at me: ‘Pull yourself together!’ ‘Life has to go on!’ I was also told by my Chinese friends and family, ‘No Big Deal la!’ ‘You are so weak/fragile! Everyone is doing it tough la!’

I wish Prof Parker and his research team would have published this book a quarter of a century earlier! Thus, I could complete the ‘Sydney Burnout Measure’ and ‘Perfectionism Scale’ available as Appendix A & C at the back of the book. The book also provides a very comprehensive comparison of the different features (primary symptom, predisposing personality style, attribution etc.) between melancholic depression, non-melancholic depression and burnout. For those who are keen to dig into the biology of burnout, there is a chapter for you. The book also answers the question ‘what is burnout anyway?’ with real life case studies.

Media CEO Arianna Huffington wrote a book ‘Thrive’ after recovering from a bout of burnout. She advocates for a radical change on how society defines success. She has new insight into the importance of wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving to lead a truly thriving life!

 It doesn’t stop from there, the last session illustrated what you can do to make a change. I found this very practical and useful. It outlines seven basic steps to recovery in chapter 19.  I encourage you to grab this book and find out the details. 

Recipe of the Month

Picture Cookies

by Jacque Sudul



  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (170g)
  • 1 ¼ cups of caster sugar (155g)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 egg separate yolk and egg whites
  • 2 ½ cups of plan flour (310)
  • Food colours
  • Sprinkles


  1. Soften the butter and whisk still creamy with no lumps.
  2. Mix caster sugar in a little at a time
  3. Add in the vanilla extract, salt and egg yolks.
  4. Then fold in the plan flour.
  5. Once combined knead the dough.
  6. Depending on your picture separate your dough into colours by portions and dye them the colour then put into the freezer for 15mins.
  7.     A) roll out your coloured dough the way you like and use a cookie cutter to cut out the shape you like. Make sure the colours are in the same spot every cut

    B) make your dough into cylinder, triangular prism or cuboid and create your ‘picture’.

      8)   Freeze shapes for 15mins

      9)   Use egg whites when combining shapes together

      10)  Freeze shapes for 15mins

      11)  Brush egg white on the roll then roll in sprinkles

      12)  Cut the roll into cookies on a tray

      13)  Bake for 10 minutes at 170 C fan forced oven.

      14)  Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before eating.

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A photo of a Terrarium supplied by a workshop participant.

The! first Harmony Day was launched in 1999 by the then NSW MP Dr. Peter Wong. This was an initiative in respond to Pauline Hanson’s 1996 maiden speech at Parliament describing how Australia being ‘swamped’ by Asians.  According to the 2016 Census, nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was. Mandarin came first as the most spoken language other than English.  Eighty-five per cent of Australians agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia (check out the Australian Bureau of Statistics website for more details).

From the Desk of Bibi

CFS turned 2 in Sept 2021!

I had been thinking of a 2nd birthday party for CFS well before Greater Sydney Lockdown 2.0. When I first paid for the website registration, I promised myself to give it a go for 2 years. I have renewed the registration for another 2 years. Once a date was set for the AGM (Sun 5th Dec), I sat down to reflect on what CFS has managed to achieve despite the interruptions caused by COVID-19 Pandemic.  I drafted the president’s report. President’s 2021 Annual Report – Community Flower Studio

It is in my Chinese blood to reflect frequently. In the teaching of Confucius:

吾日三省吾身 (Wú rì sān xǐngwú shēn)  which is translated  as “I examine myself three times every day.” Everyone is encouraged to ask these 3 questions:

1.     Have I been true to other people’s interests when acting on their behalf?

2.   Have I been sincere in my interactions with friends?

3.    Have I practiced what I have been taught?”

Westerners also have a tradition of making New Year Resolutions. Before one sets new goals, perhaps an earlier step is to review the past successes and failures,. Then one can find out the areas for improvement or new areas to venture into.    Across cultures, there are ‘rituals’ to help individuals reflect on how we want to lead our lives.  

I recently came across a YouTube video clip which is part of a “Do Lectures 2014” by a Bulgarian-American Maria Popova – “7 Ideas in 7 Years of sharing Reflections Upon Lives with 7 Friends’  

Maria Popova started sharing her thoughts and reflection with seven of her close friends from all walks of life. These 7 friends then forwarded her emails to their circle of friends. Seven years later, this became a website ‘Brain Pickings’ with 7 million readers (the new name is The Marginalian – Marginalia on our search for meaning).  Maria described this as a ‘Cross-disciplinary exchange of indiscriminate curiosity’!

Her writings cover subjects like Arts, Science, Psychology, philosophy, History & design. She showed her readers how “ideas from different fields and sensibility relate to each other, and enriched each other in a relational way that helps distract meanings and information”.  Her website cuts across boundary lines of background or age and occupation or anything. To her, the website is her Lego bricks of the mind and records of personal learning!

I was fascinated by her ideas. I reflected on how COVID-19 Lockdown 1.0 was the trigger for the CFS e-Newsletter. We have now published 20 issues. I hope you will help make this e-Newsletter a place to record your reflections too. Please consider sending in your ideas and thoughts to be published on the ‘Member’s Corner’  

Here are the Maria Popova’s 7 ideas in 7 years:

1.     Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind

Don’t be forced to assert opinions under the pressure of social expectation. Be brave to change your mind!  

2.     Do nothing out of guilt, or for prestige or status or money or approval alone  

Don’t let any of these distract you from doing what you are really passionate about.

3.     Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and especially with your words.

4.     Build pockets of stillness into your life 

Meditate, go for a walk, day-dreaming. Best ideas come when not trying to force them. Let those mental Lego bricks flow and do their things and click together. Best ideas come in the shower when you are not expected to produce anything.

5.     When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. “We are the only custodians of our own integrity. Those assumptions reviewed a lot more of those who made them and absolutely nothing about us.

6.     Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. The world focuses too much on money, status, productivity etc which could rob us of the joy and pleasure of the present moment.

7.     Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time. Carelessly overlooked! Instant gratification! Overnight success is a myth! Take the Garden Metaphor – Flower doesn’t go from bud to blooming in one day!      

I found it fascinating to watch her presentations, to feel her passion for life and the conviction on what she does! It is interesting to see the garden metaphor she used to illustrate the last idea:  Flower doesn’t go from bud to blooming in one day!

I wish to use this metaphor to remind myself that CFS is like this bud, it will take a little while to reach full bloom. In the meantime, let’s water it, fertilise it and prune it! Please ‘Help Me Grow’ –  the name given to the CFS Pre-Apprentice Project.

  May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Searching for a Job

By Carol Sudul

First go online and registrar for all the job websites like e.g. seek, indeed, jora.  Registrar for jobs in your area and the field you want. 

These websites will text you as soon as a new job comes up.  You can choose to get texts daily or once a week.  You can unsubscribe at any time


Be prepared with your answers.

The questions always asked are

  1. Why did you apply for this job?
  2. What skills can you bring to this job?  List all your skills
  3. How do you deal with conflict?   Have examples of how you dealt with difficult customers in previous jobs.  Giving examples  to re in force you skills.

Go easy on yourself

Applying for jobs, going for interviews and waiting to hear if you were successful or not can be very stressful so don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t get the job.   Things happen for a reason maybe you didn’t get the job as something better is coming your way.


If you are looking for a retail job either full time of part time

Hornsby Westfield ground  floor every second shop has a sign saying wanting full time or part time staff.  Some even say to start immediately.

Buds of Peonies

This Bud is blooming
An open peony

A blooming Rose
Queen Anne’s Lace at various degree of opening
A rare beauty – flowers of succulent
Succulents are flowering plants

Community Flower Studio Logo Explained

Community: CFS is a community to support young people facing mental health challenges.

Creative: CFS hosts events to unleash young people s creative talents.

Resource: CFS provides members with resources to enhance their wellbeing.  

Support: CFS  offers support to members to develop their potential.

Growth: CFS fosters a growth mindset which is helpful in dealing with challenges.

Recovery: CFS sees recovery as achievable and a journey to cherish.



Website: Mobile: 0412 613 073

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Address: 10-12 Clanwilliam St., Willoughby, 2068, NSW, Australia.