Real Life

She had three jobs and a host of dreams - then she made one fatal mistake

Maria Fernandes, 32; Glen Carter; and his daughter, Hannah, in 2014.

Rachel Swarns 12:28pm She could have been the girl who poured you a cup of hot coffee, right before you rushed off to catch your afternoon train. Maybe you noticed her huddled over an empty table in the station, dozing in the lonesome hours between one shift and another.

Benjamin Law: thirty - the age where you are both old and young enough

Ben Law.

BENJAMIN LAW Throughout my 20s, I was basically immortal. My hair was thick and ropey like some Oriental Samson, I didn't need to exercise to stay lean and hangovers would slide off me like I was teflon.

Real life

The Afghan girls who live as boys

Mehran Rafaat (L), age 7, stands next to her 11 year old twin sisters, Benafsha (2R) and Behishta (R), outside their family home in Qala-e-Naw, Badghis Province, Afghanistan, on September 16, 2010. Mehran is the daughter of parliament member Azita Rafaat, and at the age of 5 Azita and her husband Euzattolla changed Mehran’s identity to male. Her former female name was Manush. Manush was the youngest of four daughters, and out societal pressure to have a boy in the family they changed Manush into Mehran. When Mehran reaches puberty she will likely resume the identity of a female so she can marry. Azita Rafaat also had a male identity when she was a child. Photo by Adam Ferguson

Jenny Nordberg In Afghanistan, the pressure to produce a son leads some families to disguise their daughters as boys.

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1000+ Coffees

Would you get a coffee with every single one of your Facebook friends?


NICOLE ELPHICK Matt Kulesza, a student from Melbourne, is adding some real-life familiarity to his faceless Facebook friends with his Tumblr project, 1000+ Coffees.

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Mortal lessons

What the dying can teach us about death

Patricia Pearson, author of Opening Heaven's Door: What the Dying Tell Us About Where They're Going.

Patricia Pearson How do some people know when they will die? There are many things we know about dying and death that we choose to ignore.

Postnatal depression

How I overcame postnatal depression


Claire Zorn "So we don’t ask for help. We keep quiet, put on a smile and when someone asks how we are we don’t tell them about the horrible pictures that run through our heads."

My 12-year-old brother saved my life

Creative pic.
First person - Sept 21
cr: Getty Images

As told to Robyn Doreian When Shiloh Middlemiss was diagnosed with leukaemia as a teenager, it was her younger brother Jude who gave her the gift of life.

Romance on the rack

I dated a cocaine dealer


Robyn Windshuttle Robyn Windshuttle recalls her long affair with a man who was charming, charismatic ... and a major cocaine dealer.

Domestic violence

He held a gun to my head but I stayed

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Leslie Morgan Steiner Leslie Morgan Steiner on why women stay.

Real life

I survived the tsunami and a stabbing attack


Jemma Clancy For sufferers of large-scale trauma, sometimes there's no such thing as 'getting closure'.

Youth homelessness

What it's like to be homeless, while pretending that you're not


Bee Orsini "Work was hard. I was living with a constant poker face. I would make phone calls in the building’s fire stairwell to secure a bed each night, then go back in to the office and lead a team."

Suicide Prevention Day

How I recovered from my husband's suicide


Alex Aulich Alex lost her husband Damien to suicide eight weeks before she gave birth to their daughter. As today marks World Suicide Prevention Day, she shares her story.

Insight: My Fault?

Can you blame a bad background for bad behaviour?


A destructive childhood led Tara to a life of abuse, self-harm and drug addiction. But she's since redefined herself from 'victim' to 'person'.

Real life

My partner had a stroke at 46

National Stroke Week. Edwin had in January when Ted was four months old. Pictured here with Jewel Topsfield and son Ted. 3rd September 2014. Photo by Jason South

JEWEL TOPSFIELD "This is very serious," the physician says gently.

Real life

I've had my naked photo stolen and shared online

Kate Iselin's relationship with a friend changed in an instant.

Kate Iselin “Can I take a photo of you?” he asked, out of the blue. “Sure,” I responded, after a moment of thought.

Real Life

I carried, and terminated, a baby for another couple


Lisa I always knew I could be a surrogate. I’m not sure why, but for some reason, I just knew.

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston: My 'value as a woman' isn't measured by motherhood

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14:  Jennifer Aniston attends the European premiere of 'We're The Millers' at the Odeon West End on August 14, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

KASEY EDWARDS How our obsession with marriage and procreation being the ultimate in female fulfilment hurts all women.

Good job, internet

Video helps gay teen disowned by parents raise $90,000


Anna Whitelaw A gay teenager has received $90,000 from an internet campaign after a horrifying video of his experience coming out to his parents went viral.

Real Life

My father was convicted for distributing pornography

Courtesy of Kristin Battista-Frazee

Kristin Battista-Frazee Kristin Battista-Frazee recalls how her dad went from stockbroker to pornbroker.

Organ donors

Would you donate a part of your body to someone you didn't know?


COSIMA MARRINER Meet three generous people who gave the gift of life to complete strangers.

Adult life is full of petty humiliations: is this one the worst?

Annabel Crabb Dinkus

ANNABEL CRABB As an adult, the discovery that one is harbouring an unspecified number of small scuttling insects in one’s hair brings about a number of confronting results.


A sperm-donor daughter's quest to discover her real father

Sarah Dingle who has been trying to find her genetic father who was a donor and all records from Royal North Shore Hospital have been destroyed.
The only information Sarah could find was the code AFH supplied from a nurse.
21st July 2014.
Photo: Steven Siewert

Sarah Dingle The shocking revelation she was conceived using a sperm donor was nothing to the news Sarah Dingle may never find her father.

Triple the fun

Rare surviving panda triplets are impossibly cute

Baby panda snoozes.

What's cuter than one baby panda? Three baby pandas that have the same birthday.

Horror attack

How an acid attack victim comes to terms with her altered life


A horrifying attack at the hands of her ex may have left Italian lawyer Lucia Annibali badly disfigured, but it did not defeat her.

Cancer support

What to say when your friend tells you they have cancer

woman women sad friendship hug friends friendship

Dr Ranjana Srivastava "If I ever have to help somebody I must remember to just do useful things for them instead of trying to banish their fears."

How to turn down a friendship like an adult

Woman five myths

KERRI SACKVILLE Saying no to a date is easy compared to rejecting someone who wants to be a friend.

Unspeakable Things

The day I confronted my rapist

Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny How should we forgive men who have hurt us? Is it even possible?

Real life

What it's like being a mum with cancer

Woman holding baby (6-9 months) rear view

"I'm not sure I'm the person who can handle being the mother of a toddler and chemo."

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Returning to Australia

Belgian tourist raped on her second day in Sydney returns to Australia

Kirsten Vanhentenrijk

As told to Danielle Colley Belgian tourist Kirsten Vanhentenrijk had been in Sydney for two days when she was brutally raped. She returned home immediately. At the request of local residents she has returned to Sydney this week. [trigger warning discussion of sexual assault]

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Moment of zen

Photographer documents customers snoozing at Ikea

A little bit of shut eye at Ikea in China.

Try it before you buy it.

Real life

How my rapist was brought to justice


JOHN SILVESTER [Trigger warning: description of sexual assault]

Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life

Elizabeth Gilbert

SARAH MACDONALD Elizabeth Gilbert thinks we should stop using the word 'balance' as a weapon against each other.

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How my wedding helped me forgive my father

USE ONLY WITH A SUNDAY LIFE STORY ABOUT: Father by Amelia Wallace/UK Telegraph, Stella Magazine, London
NO ARCHIVE Amelia Wallace

Amelia Wallace As a child, Amelia Wallace was consumed by anger with her dad. She overcame this to ask him to walk her down the aisle.

Time to change

Arianna Huffington: why one of the world's busiest women wants you to switch off your phone

TODAY -- Pictured: Arianna Huffington appears on NBC News'

Mark Dapin When the founder of The Huffington Post woke up in a pool of blood, she knew life had to change.

Real life

The awkward relationship with people we pay to touch us


ALICE WILLIAMS How do you tell the difference between what's 'professional' and 'inappropriate'?

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Life as the 'well spouse' of a chronically ill partner

Watching TV - XLarge

Katherine McQuay Lewis My husband, Dave, may officially be the sick one in our marriage, but his steadily declining health is also doing a real number on my mental and physical well-being.

Trying to walk again

I paid $50,000 for a health 'miracle'


Matt Battista The heartache and reality of investing in stem cell treatment.

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Why it's much easier to share sad news than happy news

No caption

Jacinta Tynan Jacinta Tynan on why friends are there for the tough times, but it can be a different story when the going is good.

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Men at work

Men at work: the secret lives of house husbands

House Husbands

Georgia Cassimatis Georgia Cassimatis speaks to three fathers who've taken on the role.

I married a prison inmate

Documentary subjects Lorri Da  is, left, and Damien Wayne Echols from the film West of Memphis poses for a portrait Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 in Park City, Utah.  (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)

When Lorri Davis began corresponding with a convicted murderer, she never thought she'd fall in love.

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Can this app save you from yourself?


Andrew P. Street One of the biggest design problems with the human brain is that it's inconveniently stuck inside one's skull instead of standing in the beer garden at 2am slapping the phone from one’s hand and saying “No! Do NOT message that person! That’s a terrible status update! In any case, ‘hook-up’ is hyphenated!”


Sex talk doesn't belong in a yoga studio


Kelly A. Barrett A handy guide to avoiding awkward yoga moments.

Coping with grief

A manual for dealing with your mother’s death

Brooke Davies

Brooke Davis All the things a woman should know.

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Bikini body

I wore a bikini and nothing happened


Jenny Trout Our cultural discussion of fat bodies and how we clothe them has nothing to do with the comfort of fat people.

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Stop calling me on the phone

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15:  Freelance stylist Hilary poses wearing a Cos t-shirt, Cooper jeans with vintage glasses and a H+M hat at the Holly Fulton catwalk show during London Fashion Week S/S 2013on September 15, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/FilmMagic)

BENJAMIN LAW Benjamin Law can't be alone in his fear and loathing of phones, right?

Handy guide

How to recover from being the drunkest person at a party


Alyson Portlock A field guide to putting your shame - and property damage - behind you.

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Reasons to stay up

The perks of being a night owl


ROB MORAN Even if you don’t care for futbol, there are other reasons to stay up.

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Real life

Things you get away with by being skinny


KATE FRIDKIS The danger of assuming someone is healthy because they are thin.

What would you tell your 13 year-old self?

girls on opposing teams walking off field together

CLEMENTINE FORD Clementine Ford on what she wishes she'd known at 13.

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Why Turia Pitt's Australian Women's Weekly cover is important to me


Carly Findlay I've given up on buying women's magazines, but today I will be buying this one.

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Teen books for all

Men should be able to read YA, too


ROB MORAN A former teen girl's magazine writer thinks real men should read YA.

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Survival instinct

I survived three days adrift at sea


Rob Hewitt Rob Hewitt was separated from his boat on a recreational dive off the coast of New Zealand in 2006.


Inside a fetish fitness boot camp


Mistress Anna Not everyone wants to go to a Fitness First to exercise.

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Unsolved murder

How I became involved in backpacker Simone Strobel's murder mystery


Virginia Peters Writer Virginia Peters couldn't stop thinking about Strobel's murder, so she took matters into her own hands.

Jessica Rowe

Jessica Rowe: what every woman should know by their 40s

No caption

On her 44th birthday, Jessica Rowe shares 44 of the lessons she's learnt.

My year with J.D. Salinger

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20, 1952: ***EXCLUSIVE - CALL FOR IMAGE*** JD Salinger poses for a portrait as he reads from his classic American novel

Joanna Rakoff "Never talk to Jerry", instructed her boss. Then one day Joanna Rakoff picked up the phone, and it was him.

Benjamin Law: I took a nude yoga class

Benjamin Law - nude yoga story

BENJAMIN LAW We've had bikram, yogalates, even yoga with pole-dancing ... Benjamin Law takes the next step and strips for some naked downward dog.

Awkward stages

I was a young male ballroom dancer and these are my scars

TIMEOUT 961114 sun herald tempo pic shows still from Strictly Ballroom.
Paul Mercurio (Scott) and Tara Morice (Fran)

James Walker It's not easy having "advanced hip action" at such a young age.

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A painful loss

My wife died in a car accident, but I survived


Benjamin Brooks-Dutton On November 10, 2012 Benjamin Brooks-Dutton's life changed forever.

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