more about me
*(if you came right here and missed ‘about me’ – the first part of my bio – click here!)
The 50s and 60s
Born into a family that spent weekends messing about at the beach or bush-adventuring. Teenage mini-skirt wearer. Yearned for exotic travel, played guitar and channelled heartache about the world’s troubles into songwriting.
Waitressed and dishwashed my way through four university years (French, Spanish, English, History); exploded my heart and mind with ideas and culture; filled my ears with Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen; fell in love; lived, worked (as an interpreter) and roamed Europe and the USA; began high school teaching – three bonded years to repay a scholarship, to be followed by a diplomatic career that didn’t happen because I fell in love again, married, and moved to England.
Loved mothering my Australian-born daughter (Jane and me above on a beach in Hawaii); taught high school (faculty head); learned Italian; wore clothes with shoulder pads; chanelled Nigella Lawson in the kitchen and Vita Sackville-West in the garden, and accumulated more passport stamps.
No longer married (but friends with my ex) and raising a wonderful teenage daughter, I left French, History, Social Science and Performing Arts teaching and went back to study (graphic design); began a successful creative business; made art and wrote poetry; and winged it to yet more foreign destinations (kept veering to Paris on the way elsewhere).
The 2000s to now
Kept studying part time last decade (professional writing and editing, and visual arts); fare-welled my grown daughter (sob!); youth hostelled Europe for a summer; followed a heart calling to work as women’s centre coordinator on a remote Aboriginal community for two years (providing a safe, welcoming social hub, and delivering well being, creative, cultural, practical life skills and leadership programs to give Aboriginal women a voice and more power over their lives); worked for Save The Children, and rediscovered my passion for working with people to tell and retell their stories to change their lives.
The women, kids and I packed up the Toyota troopie weekly and bumped along out bush to find bush food, hunt sleepy lizards, cook food, and tell stories around the fire. Above left, I’m eating kangaroo tail, and in the middle there’s the cover of a book I designed, compiled, photographed and edited for Save The Children. On the right, I’m with octogenarian Pitjantjatjara woman Alice Cox, who, with her small family group, walked in from a nomadic desert life to ‘civilisation’ as a child. She shared a treasure house of stories in five interviews.
I learned what I needed to know for what I call ‘life design’ firstly from a high school teaching career spanning almost 20 years, and more recently by studying Narrative Therapy in intensive training courses through 2007 (with groups of psychologists, therapists and counsellors from around the world) at the The Dulwich Centre in Adelaide with the late Michael White (pictured below) – pioneer of Narrative Therapy and international lecturer. And afterwards, by studying hypnosis, NLP, nature experience education, and creativity coaching. I keep on with extensive independent and open university study of the neurosciences, philosophies, the arts, sociology and anthropology and other ‘ologies’ to enrich my work by deepening my understanding of what makes us tick and what we can do to live better lives. I began working with clients in 2007 & formally opened my ‘life design’ business in 2009.
I make art when the muse calls me (Klimt-inspired painting above shows my daughter Jane, dreaming – more art and design on this page.) I designed the ‘seven wombats swinging’ Christmas postcard above for Tullawon (Aboriginal) Health Service based on their wombat logo.
It’s a lush paradise, my garden. Tall shady trees, flowers, and herbs growing on the terrace. In spring I’m digging and planting veggie seeds – what a thrill when new shoots push through. Summer’s lemons and limes and autumn’s quinces always inspire some kind of kitchen alchemy, and there’s joy in losing myself in the cool velvety petals and sweet perfume of my roses.
Preparing great food and feeding friends is a longtime pleasure, as is lounging around a dinner table or idling in a café or restaurant absorbed in a stream of conversation spliced with laughter.
Dad hooked me on photography by giving me a Kodak Brownie 127 for my eighth birthday; I always have a camera handy to snap something begging to be preserved in pixels. There’s some Flickr photos here.
I walk most days under trees by a river – nature feeds me. Sometimes I bush walk, scramble up small mountains, sea kayak and sail (above, I’m sailing Bass Strait from Eden to Lakes Entrance in 2009), and a pair of snow skis has sulked in my garage for years.
I read. A lot. Teetering ziggurat of books by my bed. TV barely gets a look in. Poetry’s my pick for deep-diving introspective moments: Seamus Heaney, Billy Collins, David Whyte, Mary Oliver, Rumi, Rilke, Yeats, Emily Dickinson, ee cummings, and all the rest. Music? Yes. All kinds (some of it here). And my world-travelling musician daughter Jane (photo above) is an endlessly fascinating creature worth listening to. http://www.aurorajane.com
I’m enthralled by the ways different cultures interpret human existence. How the land, weather, plants and animals where we live shape us so differently. And I’m captivated by how language determines our values, shapes who we become and develops and preserves culture. (Me with museum fatigue below – taking a break from culture at Hobart’s astonishing MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) last March.)
Am blessed with a loving family, and a wonderful group of people who’ve come into my life over the years – the loving, funny, sustaining friends I treasure. I play often and meditate most days to still my mind and connect to something bigger and more mysterious than I can explain. Primatologist Jane Goodall says it well: “I don’t have any idea of who or what God is. But I do believe in some great spiritual power. I don’t know what to call it. I feel it particularly when I’m out in nature. It’s just something that’s bigger and stronger than what I am or what anybody is. I feel it. And it’s enough for me.”
You can reach me on 0428 724 277 for enquiries and appointments, or click here to email me from the contact page.
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