There’s something about Mary

In the spotlight of the Five of My Life Challenge podcast, Mary Chiarella unravelled the tapestry of her life under the skilled guidance of host Nigel Marsh.


Acknowledged for her transformative impact on both nursing and midwifery practice and the workforce over four decades, Mary’s presence on the show promised a journey through the choice of a film, book, song, place, and possession that represented different aspects of her life. They didn’t have to be favourites, just key choices that highlighted a range of different life experiences.

Branded as the ‘modern-day Florence Nightingale,’ Mary’s interview began with a reflection on the 1969 film Easy Rider. Transported back to her 17-year-old self, she described the movie’s influence on her perception of Middle America. While captivated by the music, bikes, and hogs, the film’s tragic ending, where three of the main characters died, shook her to the core, leaving an indelible mark on her worldview.

Segueing into her literary choice, “A Poem for Every Day of the Year” by Ali Riri, Mary shared her deep affinity for poetry. Her connection to the poem “The Oxen” by Thomas Hardy brought back cherished memories as a child.

On Mary’s chosen song, “To thee Oh Lord, Our Hearts We Raise,” a harvest hymn, she elaborated on why the music represented celebration deeply rooted in Mary’s English farm upbringing. From Harvest Festivals to her wedding and her first husband’s funeral, the hymn has had much meaning throughout her life.

Other discussions during the podcast led to Mary’s distinguished career, including what gave her strength in times of adversity while the Chief Nursing Officer of NSW. She also spoke about her groundbreaking role as the inaugural professor of nursing in the prison system; and gave insights into her hospice work, where she revealed poignant moments and insights experienced during this time.

Mary also spoke of her personal life- including love, grief, and resilience, where her profound insights helped her navigate hardship.

Listening to Mary’s story gives a glimpse into her strength and positivity and her ability to learn from life experiences, leaving a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to share in her journey through the Five of My Life Challenge.

Intrigued to know something more about Mary? Listen to her interview below:

If  you enjoyed this interview listen to the series  ‘five of the best women” recorded for International Women’s  Day, featuring : Layne Beachley, Anya HindmarchKate McClymontJulia Gillard and Mary Chiarella

Nigel Marsh, host of Five of My Life Challenge podcast is known for extracting captivating stories from his guests. Nigel uses a simple yet profound formula that requires each guest to discuss their choice of a film, book, song, place, and possession and the stories behind them.  With millions of listens and thousands of subscribers, Nigel’s interviews include numerous Prime Ministers, Australians of the Year, bestselling authors, sportspeople, journalists, health professionals, politicians and celebrities.

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