Inspiring drones is not an oxymoron

by Rebecca Barnett

The ghost of New Years’ Eve past

At around 9pm this past New Year’s Eve, I found myself watching celebratory drone displays on YouTube with my 89-year-old mum. This was the result of our conversation that evening, reminiscing about what we both experienced as the glory years of the Sydney NYE fireworks display.

Never fear. This won’t be a boring old fart story about how much better things were back in the good old days. Those early firework displays were objectively a gazillion times lamer than what happens nowadays. However …

When I was a young kid, the Sydney New Years’ Eve fireworks were let off manually from a single barge just east of the Harbour Bridge. There was only a midnight display back then which lasted around 15 minutes. The best views of the display were from Muttawunga, better known as Bradfield Park, on the northern side of the Harbour Bridge. I grew up about 15 minutes by car from that park. So, for several years of my childhood, my siblings and I would go to bed as usual on NYE but then, at around 11.30pm, our parents would bundle us into the family car in our pyjamas, along with a chilled bottle of champagne, and we would drive to the park to watch the fireworks.

These midnight sorties rank high on my list of core childhood memories. Us four kids would rage around the park like the sleep-interrupted maniacs we were, while mum and dad laid out the picnic blanket and prepared for the ritual opening of the champers. There were never more than a dozen true believers present in the park with us, politely tolerating our pyjama-clad displays of youthful over-excitement.

At midnight, as the fireworks began to light up the sky above the single barge, my father would open the champagne with the aim of projecting the cork as far as possible. I’m not proud to admit that we rejoiced the year that the cork hit a car parked on Kirribilli Avenue about 20 metres down the hill. Happily, no duco was harmed in the making of those hijinks. We checked.

The ghost of New Year’s Eve present

Childhood me loved those NYE firework adventures with a fierce devotion but adult me recognises the enormous environmental cost, which is how mum and I came to be YouTubing drone displays on NYE 2023. When I mentioned to mum that drones had emerged as an impressive alternative to the environmental catastrophe of fireworks, she wanted to understand what I was referring to.

We started our journey of discovery with my favourite NYE example. I am a sucker for a Scottish accent but I dare anyone to watch that stag galloping above the Scottish Highlands or in the skies above Edinburgh and not be moved, or feel your arrector pili contracting.

And I’m confident that 7-year-old me would have been utterly enchanted by a drone display at midnight on Sydney Harbour. This avid consumer of stories would have eaten up the accompanying narrative and copiously wept like a prematurely sentimental, overtired ratbag.

The ghost of New Year’s Eve future

You could legitimately ask why I have spent 500 words so far dribbling on about historical fireworks displays and modern drone displays.

Well here goes drawing the long bow …

Over the past month, I have returned to my AMT desk, refreshed and enthused, to fill an interim role at AMT. During my brief return, I have had occasion to speak to a few experienced industry practitioners who have been practising for decades. It’s fair to say that, like many of us, they’re really struggling to find time and motivation to meet their 20-hour annual professional development commitment due to the intense and competing demands of life and work. I have genuinely never known a time when most people are managing such an insane mental load so I’m not surprised to hear about this struggle.

But the thing that concerns me about these conversations is my sense that the enthusiasm for new learning has all but evaporated in the face of all those demands. It’s incredibly hard to stay curious when you’re just bloody stretched to the limit most of the time.

I am not sure what the solution to this quandary is, but I wonder whether there is not a way forward based on the idea that you can treasure the old and familiar but get a buzz out of the new and innovative, just like those old fireworks displays and their thrilling modern counterpart. In other words, is the path out of exhaustion a bit easier to tread if it’s illuminated by the thrill of the new? Is there a ghost of future new year’s where curiosity outweighs exhaustion?

I am keen to start a dialogue around some of the novel professional development pathways that some of you have discovered over the past few years. What journeys have you taken that have reignited your enthusiasm for your work and passion for ongoing education? Is there some new nugget of knowledge that you think might just be the spark for a tired or jaded colleague?

In the meantime, here’s a few suggestions based on positive feedback we have received from AMT members.

Flexibility research


Flexibility research is a digital platform committed to sharing the latest advances in the science of flexibility directly from the frontiers of clinical research.

Reconciling Biomechanics with pain science


In this training, you will learn that you don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater when you embrace the biopsychosocial (BPS) approach. Remember, the BPS model starts with “Bio”. You will learn how biomechanics matters and how pain science education and cognition changing can fit together.

Performance Therapy


Performance Therapy uses ‘therapeutic’ inputs to address what has been traditionally seen as ‘coaching-related’ problems — bringing the therapist’s toolbox into the coaching realm. 

Equip Aged Care Learning Packages


Introductory modules for those new to the sector and refresher-level content for those familiar with aged care cover a range of aged care related topics. Each learning module highlights key concepts on contemporary aged care topics and encourages participants to continue their learning by providing additional resources.

Wicking Centre Massive Open Online Courses


Hundreds of AMT members are satisfied customers of the Wicking Centre’s Massive Open courses on dementia and traumatic brain injury, and the Menzies Centre’s course on multiple sclerosis.

AMT’s on-demand webinars and interactive workshops


AMT has a growing repository of past webinars and interactive hands-on workshops that are available at a reduced rate for members.

Some closing advice from ChatGPT

Where do you turn nowadays when you don’t have any easy answers for a problem? AI obvs. Here’s some surprisingly useful closing advice from ChatGPT on how to get back your professional development mojo. If even one of these steps helps to ignite something, AI’s work here is done.

  1. Set Clear Goals: Start by defining clear professional development goals. What areas of your practice do you want to improve or explore further? Having specific objectives can help reignite your curiosity and focus your efforts.
  2. Prioritise Self-Care: It’s crucial to prioritise self-care, especially as a massage therapist. Ensure you’re taking time to rest, recharge, and take care of your physical and mental well-being. This might involve scheduling regular breaks, incorporating relaxation techniques into your routine, or seeking support from peers or a mentor.
  3. Find Inspiration: Seek out sources of inspiration within and outside your field. This could involve reading books, watching documentaries, attending lectures, or listening to podcasts related to massage therapy or health. Exposing yourself to new ideas and perspectives can spark curiosity and creativity.
  4. Join Professional Communities: Engage with other massage therapists and professionals in your field through networking events, online forums, or social media groups. Connecting with peers can provide support, encouragement, and opportunities for collaboration or mentorship, which can reignite your passion for professional development.
  5. Break Tasks Into Manageable Steps: When faced with conflicting demands on your time, break down your professional development activities into smaller, manageable tasks. Set aside dedicated time each week or month to focus on learning and skill development, even if it’s just for a short period. Consistency is key.
  6. Celebrate Progress: Celebrate your achievements and progress along the way, no matter how small. Recognising your accomplishments can boost motivation and reinforce the importance of ongoing professional development despite challenges.
  7. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to seek support from colleagues, friends, or family members when feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s help with managing your schedule, sharing responsibilities, or simply providing emotional support, reaching out can make a significant difference in maintaining your enthusiasm for learning and growth.

Here’s to sharing professional development wins and celebrating progress. I look forward to reading about some of your PD inspirations in comments.

About the author

Rebecca would back the wedge-tailed eagle every time in a drone versus eagle battle to death. She is currently serving as AMT’s interim Executive Officer but doesn’t plan to do as many comebacks as Whispering Jack.

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  1. Irina Ivankovitch
    10/04/2024 - 10:02 pm

    Hi dear Rebecca!!! So nice to have you back! I am so glad to read your humour and organisation! Thank you so much!????????????

  2. Welcome to the hotel california!

    Great read, loved it.

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