A thank you

What a tough few weeks. Parenting, life even, is a tough gig. Navigating your way through roadblocks, big decisions, drama and getting it all done is exhausting, and the answers are not even close to clear. There might not even be any ‘answers’.

I am not the sort who asks for help, it’s not my thing. So, what then, do I do when life throws me some challenges I am completely unprepared for?

I have been so blessed to find some truly amazing people who have assisted me in ways I cannot possibility thank them enough for. I didn’t need to ask, they saw my distress and mustered me about with the determination I lacked and the clarity I needed.

Truly, I have an amazing bunch of fantastic souls in my world. Not just close friends but others have really wanted to help. I am learning that it is just as important for the helpers to give their assistance, as it is for me to receive it. Yep, it’s taken awhile, but I’ve got the message.

Thank you to everyone who’s been there for me the past few weeks, from a friendly smile to a considerate ear. Appreciated, beyond belief.


Yes, everyone loves using all their senses

Again, the past few weeks have been full, and challenging. I have been thinking a lot about the brain and how it works. We know now that brain is capable of creating new pathways, and a whole range of things science hadn’t caught up with yet. How much our knowledge has grown over the past decade is astounding. And I am so grateful. My son is ambidextrous I have discovered, and I know have a much better understanding of how this is going to be a challenge, but also, pretty awesome.

Right handed people have a dominant left hemisphere of their brain. The ambidextrous have more symmetrical brains. This explains the amazing 3d thinking, engineering skills and problem solving I see.

They also have a strong preference for tactile learning.

There are essentially 3 learning styles. Visual learning like looking at pictures, Auditory learners want things explained and tactile/kinesthetic learners need to be doing to learn.

While we all have a preferred learning style, using all approaches ensures everyone is learning at their best.

Studies are now looking at how we learn best. As the world we live gives us a range of input – sight, sound, smell, taste. It follows that our brain needs this range of input to work at its best. A Shams and Seitz study says:

It is likely that the human brain has evolved to develop, learn and operate optimally in multisensory environments. We suggest that training protocols that employ unisensory stimulus regimes do not engage multisensory learning mechanisms and, therefore, might not be optimal for learning. However, multisensory-training protocols can better approximate natural settings and are more effective for learning


Basically, we need to touch, feel, see, hear, play and fully experience something to really learn about it. It’s an exciting prospect.

How can we create better learning environments for adults and children, that work through all the senses and have a real impact?

It’s why field trips, museums, walks and ‘outside the box’ learning activities work so well.

I am currently working on an interactive installation that uses movement, sight and touch. A “project’s” page is coming soon!!

How you can help Nepal

In minutes, Nepal moved metres. Lives were lost, homes destroyed, centuries of history flattened. And now there’s an immediate need for help.

Here’s a quick list of some of the ways you can help the people of Nepal:

Mapping locations with GPS

Volunteers use aerial images from satellites to mark open spaces where helicopters or planes might land with supplies, highlight streets between towns and villages, and outline buildings that aid groups can use to guess where victims might be. Using OpenStreetMap technology—known as the “Wikipedia of maps”—they build continuously updated maps that can be used online or downloaded into navigation devices.

They’re asking you to map wells because there’s only water in every couple of villages.


Give money

As Claire Bennet said on The Guardian:

What Nepal needs right now is not another untrained bystander, however much her heart is hurting.

Australian Volunteers International agrees:

Humanitarian assistance after a disaster can be complex, requiring specialist skills and training. We strongly urge people willing to help with the rebuilding process to donate to or contact the following organisations:

Sanitation and hygiene are some of the immediate needs facing the community. The Global Women’s Project works in Nepal and set up an emergency relief fund, which is helping to put togther things like oral rehydration salts, chlorine, phenyl, gloves, masks, hand soap, sanitiser, toilet paper and sanitary pads.

And 99Designs is matching any donation you give! Donate here.

Document the damage

If you are in Nepal, you can help document the damage to cultural assets here.


And if you are in Melbourne, there’s a candlelight vigil in Fed Square this Saturday.


Whatever any of us can do, I’m sure it will make a huge difference.

gumboots on the beach

10 ways to celebrate the magic of Autumn in Australia

I love this time of year. In Melbourne, the weather cools, but it’s is still sunny, for a little longer at least. The European trees turn their golden colour and the natives are greener than ever. It’s a great combination.

But unlike our northern counterparts, many of whom we have borrowed traditions from, we don’t have a Thanksgiving or Guy Fawkes night to celebrate..and Easter, a celebration of Spring (and Christianity too) is plonked in there! Confusing!

How do we celebrate the season and stay connected to our local season. Here’s some ideas for at least the southern part of Australia’s Autumn.

Checklist of things to do to celebrate an Australian Autumn:

  1. An Apple a Day– Apples are at their best in Autumn and we grow some fabulous varieties. Visiting a farmers market or a farm that sells direct gives you the full experience.
  2. Find the Emu in the Sky – around April and May, the Emu in the Sky, recognised by indigenous Australians, emerges. As explained by the Aboriginal Astronomy blog: The Emu first becomes visible in March. When it is fully visible in the Milky Way during April and May, it assumes the form of a running emu. This represents a female emu chasing the males during the mating season. Because emus begin laying their eggs at this time, this appearance of the celestial Emu is a reminder that the emu eggs are available for collection.
  3. Eat the last of the watermelon – In March at least, watermelon is at its best. Get into this last of the summer fruit while you can.
  4. Celebrate Easter with food and candles – many easter traditions are about spring (eg the eggs) but Autumn is also about food and harvesting and easter is associated with candles. A sense a candle light dinner coming along… Jewish Passover is also focuses on a meal so that seals it.
  5. Crack open the hot chocolate – or mulled wine. It’s time for warm drinks. Mmmm
  6. Listen to some World Music for WOMADelaide – while Adelaide hosts the World of Music, Arts & Dance, if we can’t make it to this awesome event, we can just indulge in some world music and dance around our lounge rooms like crazy people ..who’s with me?
  7. Find wild mushrooms – mushrooms start popping up every year at this time of year. I am fascinated by mushrooms..but I don’t know enough about them to pick them. But admiring them is still a fun way to spend a walk through your neighbourhood. These always a quite a few varieties in our street alone. Check out this list for your mushroom spotting.
  8. Spot a wombat – From April, the season changes to the Waring or Wombat Season in the Wurundjeri seasonal calendar. Wombats will be out and about basking in what sun they can, in between sleeping. Ah, to be a wombat!
  9. Watch the ferns blossom – the other sign of the Waring Wombat season is that the hearts of the tree ferns (the curly bits) are starting to unfurl. Ferns are beautiful.
  10. Knit – time to top up on socks, scarves and jumpers.. and we still have plenty of great quality wool and plenty of creative crafters willing to teach you how.

Have any other ideas to celebrate Autumn? What do you plan to do celebrate Autumn this year?

Knowledge is a privilege

Last week, I farewelled my grandmother, the last of my grandparents. She was 79 and had been ill for some time. We got to share a special last hour or so together before she passed. It was super special and I’ll be eternally grateful to have those moments.

With the passing of that generation, so too passes a lot of the knowledge accumulated over a lifetime. There are so many things I wished I’d known when I was younger, and I am guessing that feeling will continue as I keep discovering more about myself and the world around me. Perhaps that is the point of life and we can’t skip quickly through it, but need to build up our knowledge with experiences and information acquired over time. I am determined to pass on as much information as I can in my lifetime through my work (marketing and community for behaviour change and the promotion of culture) and life.

My grandmother grew up poor. She was one of 12 children. The three youngest girls (including herself) had one ‘going out dress’ between them which they would take in turns to wear. Books were a luxury well beyond her means. Even going to school was a luxury and she left after primary school so she could work and help the family pay the bills.

Fortunately, she worked hard, and her life is not at all familiar to me. Not only did I finish high school, I worked part time so I could buy myself new books and the latest CDs. I bought myself a car as soon as I could so I could explore the world, see new places and learn new things. I went on to further education and current have 2 postgraduate qualifications.

Grief gives you time to reflect, be thankful for everything someone else was in your life and make sure their stories continue to live inside you and your descendents.

As someone who has loved learning, books and the opportunity to share my knowledge with others, I am launching an online bookstore today. I am keeping an eye out for all the best, most fascinating and most helpful pieces of information I can find and will keep adding a curated list of top finds here.

 Remember it’s still my birthday sale (ends 4 April) so make sure you enter BIRTHDAY on my products for 20% off.

Thanks for reading and give someone you love a hug today, it’s so important.

Books that Cultivate can be found here:

Bonding with a new community..or coping with change

In the last few weeks, I have stepped outside my comfort zone. I wasn’t expecting to feel this way. But my family has had a change – a new school. It’s not that far away, but far enough that it doesn’t feel like ‘home’ anymore. I have felt like I have abandoned my old community and replaced it with a new, unfamiliar, one. Is it better? Have I done the right thing? Maybe I should have just put up with the issues that forced the change, it would have been so much easier!

I consider myself flexible and easy going. I make good decisions. I like progress. But this change… it wasn’t so easy.

I am not alone. As human beings, we are in a constant tug of war between changes that are forced upon us – from job loss to relationship breakdowns, and changes we make ourselves to better our situation, like going on a diet or even taking a new route to work hoping there will be less congestion!

In all the uncertainty, we look for what is certain. We create certainties. Ensure there are things we know to be true and that we can rely on. It’s a bit like the scientific method:

– Form a hypothesis (I think cupcakes are better with sprinkles)

– Test the hypothesis (consume a cupcake with sprinkles and one without)

– Come to a conclusion (I am a cupcakes with sprinkles person, that’s what I’ll eat from now on)

Sometimes life’s not always that simple. The sprinkle recipe can change, your taste buds can change, sometimes you don’t get the choice. So we have to learn to cope with change.

So enough about cupcakes, what does this have to do with community?

Joining a new group of people or a new place, no matter how much you think this change is a good thing, will test your hypotheses about who you are in relation to your current neighbourhood and who you can be in your new setting.

So, I have been trying to:

  • Allow myself to grieve the life I thought I was having and let go
  • Reconnect in a new way to my community – I have visited the library, we have gone walking around the streets. I’m still part of my local area, just in a different way.
  • Find the positives in the new experience – I have a new community to join with my old. My friends to make, new places to explore. I am further blessed by the expansion.
  • Develop new routines. These help settle you down.
  • Be patient, it takes time to adapt.

I have learnt that a strong bond with your local community is a great thing. My family and I are supported, connected and strengthened by our neighbourhood. But stretching beyond these imagined ‘boundaries’ widens your perspective as well. I am glad I stretched. I look forward to bonding with my new community more.

PS. My son is coping with his new school much better than me! The routines have helped, and the reassurance that he hasn’t ‘lost’ his old friends. More about helping kids to cope on Kids Matter here.

Inspiration and connection

Now I thought festival monthin Melbourne was March, but there is so many things to see and do at the moment, I’m not sure how I’m going to fit everything in.

But I did make it Supergraph on the weekend. It’s a celebration of art and illustration and all things paper. Saw some fantastic businesses doing their thing, including old favourites and newbies.

sg3 sg1 sg2

Images: cardboard arc inside the Exhibition Buildings, Mechanical drawing dogs art installation, discarded paper planes from the paper plane comp.

It’s great to get out and see what others are doing, take some inspiration, kick yourself for not thinking of that first and just absorb people in their element.

Where have you been finding inspiration lately?

Some other things on the to do list asap:

On this weekend: White Night Melbourne

Ends this weekend: Bohemian Melbourne

Hearing good things: Romance is Born at the NGV