For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I am very fortunate to have many people and experiences in my life to be grateful for. I am most grateful for the love of my beautiful family and friends; for my good health; for the work that I get to do; to be living in a socially and politically safe place; to be creating a beautiful safe and enriching family base for my children; for time to write and to work with clay (two loves of mine); for the truly interesting and diverse people I get to meet in my work.
If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
My favourite things to teach are possibility thinking, respect and compassion, with my children. In my work, meditation is one of my favourite things to teach, although I also really love delivering Building Buoyancy courses. This is about building beyond resilience, to positively foster personal mental wellbeing. I love then hearing from people a year or more later and hearing about the changes they’ve made from this course.
I would love to be able to teach Italian. I can barely speak the language now, but if I was teaching it then surely, I’d have to have pretty strong skills, so that’s something I’d love to be competent enough to teach!
We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you? And which mistakes do you wish we would all stop making?
I make lots of mistakes. As a reforming perfectionist, I now try to launch ideas and projects before they’re perfect which means I am often making mistakes. And I try to be graceful with myself about this. I wish that we could be more compassionate and graceful with ourselves and others around mistakes. We seem to take extreme reactions of either excusing someone’s error too quickly to try to soothe their guilt, but this often doesn’t work. Or we berate someone for so long that we’ve sensationalised their original transgression. I see we do this locally in our workplaces and communities but also globally in our focus on people we’ve never even met. I wish we could instead sit with the discomfort of acknowledging ours and others mistakes and do what we can to take note and make amends where possible, without harpooning anyone in the process.
I think we have an innate drive for connection and sometimes we aren’t always very discerning of the quality of this connection. For example, we will engage in a collective harpooning of another for some perceived transgression or difference and the group think mentality of all being against this ‘other’ almost seems to inflate and delight us. And I notice we do this ‘othering’ in many settings. We look for the differences in people as a reason to not be connected with them. Rather than look for things we have in common we seem keen to focus on what separates us and we then connect with others who validate us by being the same as who we are (or perceive ourselves to be). I wish instead we could be more respectful of differences with others and celebrate these differences instead of being put off by them.
What do you most connect with? Why?
I connect with people’s stories; their experiences; their perspectives. I am terrible at small talk. I cannot stand and talk about the weather or the latest sports results. I would much rather sit with one person and find out their deep reflections on the world, than have a surface chat with a mob. I connect with a desire to create a community and world that I want to live in. I remember a TV show from when I was a teenager and this guy would walk through the streets of Perth and carry a huge mic set and a camera and would interview people randomly walking down the street. I loved this show and it seems like a dream job to me! If I could then use this as inspiration to write novels, that would be perfection to me.
Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you?
I certainly influence the world of my family, and am also significantly affected by them. I try for my influence to be a positive affirmative one for the most part.
However, I don’t think I can separate the two elements. It is symbiotic, circular, inter-dependent. In general, I see influence as working both ways, although I do notice that when I feel stressed, fear can rise to the top and threaten to overwhelm me. At these times I feel that the world is happening to me. One way I help to stabilise myself in these times is to recognise what I can and can’t control and take actions to influence what I can, and commit to releasing what I cannot. I love the technique Check it, Change it, Chuck it. This process taught to me by a friend about 20 years ago focuses on checking in with what’s making you feel distress; changing what you can; and chucking what you can’t (instead of rehashing the past and rehearsing the future). Developing a mindfulness practice has helped me with the chuck element. As has learning to change state by using sensorial stimulus such as listening to my favourite music (The Cure, U2, The Beatles, Kate Miller-Hieke, Cindy Lauper, Alicia Keys, INXS...), burning a candle and doing a breath meditation, or getting out some clay and forming a new vessel.
Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing?
I am consciously choosing to live my values and fortunately feel that I am mostly in sync with them. I have a process I use to plan for this:
I revisit this annually, and also at times when I’m feeling either out of step or dissatisfied with what’s happening in my life. It helps me to stay focussed on what’s important to me. I usually follow a principle of life by design. When I follow this and intentionally act as if its true my life is happier, more fulfilled and calm. As the years pass I am getting better at the deviations from this being shorter and less frequent and I tend to now recalibrate much quicker than before.
Have you been the kind of friend you’d want as one?
I hope so. I have friends who I have known since childhood, uni friends, travel buddies made over twenty years ago as backpackers in Europe and am fortunate to have new friends every year. As a friend you have my loyalty and trust. Friendships change over time and I’ve learnt to appreciate that some friendships go through seasons where you may not be as connected or central to each other’s lives. Over the last two years of studying Masters, running a company and lovingly staying engaged with my husband and children, I have certainly been less present for my friends. However, I know that this season will soon pass.