Being defined by a mark on a piece of paper.

Yesterday almost 77,000 NSW Year 12 students

learnt the outcome of their HSC,

a culmination of the last two years of study.

Some of the headlines read Twins celebrate almost identical results, NSW Top schools revealed, HSC Honour Roll .

And would you believe it, Student injured in fire after burning his study notes!

However, for some students, the news was not all positive and not necessarily what they had hoped for. For others, it was exactly what they thought it would be, and the results were not as good as they would have liked.

There is now incredible pressure placed on students

to perform extraordinarily.

It is no wonder that for some

they reach a breaking point.

I have two daughters who are well past their HSC now, but I still remember that time. Today I speak from my own experience as a parent and the journey of two incredibly creative and gifted young women.

Women who are not academics, and as a result, received ATAR’s in the 50 – 60 range. My advice to them was to do their best, invest in their HSC and study, deliver your assessments on time, take care of yourself and whatever the outcome is, it is! And that is what they did.

It was not smooth sailing.

There was some anxiety and stress along the way, and one of my daughters was diagnosed with depression which brought with it, its own challenges. One of the girls lost their voice just before she was due to deliver a vocal performance. The other had a teacher deliver some of the wrong curriculum in year 11, meaning that she had to make up lost ground.

They were challenging times however it was not the end of the world. Instead, we chose to see it as the beginning of an adventure, a  time of discovery and exploration, even if we didn’t know where it was leading. The planning of an alternate pathway, one that didn’t necessarily slide them straight into university.

Both now in their 20’s,

they are working towards

pursuing their dreams.

My elder daughter didn’t get accepted at the University she wanted, and she had to begin her studies elsewhere. Four years down the track she applied and was accepted at her first-choice university and is completing her studies there.

My other daughter chose a different path. She spent two years studying at TAFE and then discovered that she wanted a different career. Now she has multiple qualifications under her belt and is working in a job doing what she loves. She continues to study and is growing into a well-rounded individual, who volunteers her time and also has her own small business.

Even with all this good support, I remember one of my girls being devastated when she received her ATAR, even though it was what she expected. I also remember them cringing when people would ask them how they went.

So today when you are talking

to a young person

who has just received their results:

• Ask them how they are, not how they went
• If they voice their concerns acknowledge them, even if you believe that they are unfounded, it is their reality
• Be supportive – not judgemental and full of advice
• Encourage them to believe in themselves
• And above all let them know you are behind them 100%, no matter what their HSC results were

These are all things

we can do every day to support

not only our students but also each other.

Life is too precious to let it be defined by a mark on paper, HSC or otherwise, so let’s ensure that we don’t create an environment that feeds that opinion.

Instead let’s nurture, and encourage,

creating excitement at the possibilities

that lie ahead.

If you or someone you know needs help contact:
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Lifeline 131 144
Call 000 (Emergency Services) if life is in danger.

Your Tribe – more important than you realise!

I had a wonderful weekend!

The fun began when I attended my school reunion on Saturday evening. It was 40 years since we were all in Year 10. Imagine a room with nearly 70 women the noise was deafening as the air filled with laughter and exclamations of joy. Many of us hadn’t seen each other in years.

It may have been forty years, and our faces and bodies may have changed, however, the voices and smiles hadn’t. If I closed my eyes and listened, I could easily imagine us back in year 10. And as a people watcher, it was fascinating to see how quickly, women gravitated to their original groups.

The night was fantastic,

and I’m glad I got the opportunity to go.

But there was a time when I wouldn’t have seen it that way. For me, high school wasn’t easy. Having been moved in primary school to attend a gifted and talented program at another school, I had no childhood friends. Only two girls from my school went to the same high school. Also, I was ill for a lot of Year 7. At a time when many were forming their groups and bonding, I was away from school sick.

Over the years I made some wonderful friends, girls who accepted me for my weird quirky ways, love of animals and knobby knees. However, the reality was I was a fringe dweller, trying to find my tribe. I didn’t have much luck, so instead spent most of my time either in the art rooms or in the Science Labs looking after the animals. It was one of the most challenging periods of my life.

On Sunday I attended another gathering.

This one poles apart from Saturday night. It was a small group of women, eight of us in all, meeting on a friend’s back veranda. I hadn’t met these women before, and it was wonderful to be invited into their tribe for the afternoon. We had the fabulous Sasha from Stronger with Oils extolling us the benefits of Doterra oils (and they are pretty good) as we feasted together on food and wine.  And I was privileged to be able to take them on a goal setting journey in a mini-workshop.

These two experiences on the weekend reminded me of the importance of finding your tribe.

Why do you need a tribe?

Quite simply it’s good for your mental and physical health, it is nectar to the soul. It’s the place where you can be you and be accepted and nurtured no matter how crazy your dreams or life might seem to others. If you don’t believe me check out this interesting article from Psychology Today, it may be six years old but is still a fascinating read.

As we gather together our tribes help us grow.  They inspire us to pursue our dreams, cheer us on when we succeed, and commiserate with us when things don’t go as planned. But be warned, they will also give us a good kick up the rear end, lovingly, when we are maybe not being the best version of ourselves.

Tribes are important no matter what age we are, they come in all shapes and sizes, and often we belong to multiple tribes. Chances are you already have one, however, you mightn’t even recognise it. If you don’t have a tribe, I encourage you to look for one or create one. Not sure where to begin, like-minded people is a great start.

This week give yourself the gift of community,

as you create, celebrate or find your tribe.

Creative Instigator – Natalie Wadwell

This weeks Creative Woman is west/south west Sydney based creative Natalie Wadwell. I recently attended TEDx Parramatta, an event that Natalie co-organised. It was an inspirational experience! One that made you come home wanting to create a better space in this world whether it be in your backyard, suburb, nation or globally.

What I love about Natalie’s story is that she has already crammed so much into her life. She is a testimony to the fact that if young people are given the right creative environment to flourish in, they will pour their creativity back into our community, weaving it through their work and social life.

I can’t wait to see what she does next, so make sure to “watch this space”!

Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice

I am a creative instigator and writer. It is my belief that communities are not disengaged, they are looking for meaningful opportunities to participate – be that in civic life, the arts or otherwise. I like to work in the in-between spaces. Creating opportunities at the intersections of community, social change and post-suburbanisation.

My business sort of named itself – people always told me that I was a go-getter and took initiative, thus Wadwell Initiatives. I have worked with for-purpose, commercial and government entities to design solutions to engagement challenges. I love that it draws on my creative skill set as well as entrepreneurial and critical thinking. Starting out when I was 19 years old, I independently organising a HSC art exhibition, Stepping Up Macarthur with a range of strategic partners. We put the creativity of young people in the middle of Macarthur Square (a large South Western Sydney shopping centre) and attracted over 100,000 attendees each year. This quickly evolved into a travelling exhibition with an expanded music and visual arts program.

The need for sustainable independent arts spaces in South West Sydney drove my honours research ‘Cultural activation in West and South West Sydney.’ When I struggled to get investment for an independent art space (the forecasts were way beyond my means, even if I leveraged other funding sources), I teamed up with a friend to present a digital solution. State of the Arts Media was the only arts and culture guide dedicated to Western Sydney and Regional New South Wales. Since stepping away from the business, you can find my #wadwellwanders published on my blog. I have been fortunate enough to get several speaking and writing gigs for topics about the arts across Western Sydney and youth entrepreneurship

In 2017, I wrote an article for Artist Profile and more recently wrote the catalogue essay for the Adorned Collective for New Sacred at Mosman Art Gallery. Most recently, I co-organised TEDxParramatta to start providing individuals who live, work or Parramatta with the opportunity to share their great ideas that can help ‘shape tomorrow, together.’ I used to do a lot more drawing with fine tip pens and making polymer clay necklaces. Now that’s mostly for my branding aesthetic.


What is your greatest creative achievement?

My greatest creative achievement has been learning to adapt and transfer skill sets. From experiential learning and bringing partnerships together, to transferring entrepreneurial skills into roles with larger organisations. It’s not been without its challenges but, it is incredibly rewarding to see what experiments we can put in motion.

What is your first memory of being creative?

I have always been the creative one in the sporting family. My mother’s classroom is covered with drawings from primary school. I think I remember those by the product rather than the process though. I remember the experience of being a part of the school choir, dance groups and participating in two Wakakakirris. We’d have practice at lunch time in smaller ensembles before coming together as a large group in the hall. The parents got involved with costume and prop design and before we knew it we were performing on a large stage. The whole process was about community coming together and being creative storytellers – through movement, song and costumes – I loved it.

Who or what inspires you?

People. Without them our society is just bricks and mortar. No colour or creativity, no life injecting activity to make our spaces become playgrounds. They say that empowered women, empower women. It is of no surprise that my constant source of inspiration is the strong women in my life. From my mother and sisters, to my peers and colleagues, they all have wonderful stories and are generous humans. Ultimately, I am inspired by the communities that I aim to service. It is their stories, determination and creativity that are a constant source of inspiration.

Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?

The compositions of Ludovico Einaudi form the soundtrack of my creative time. He is an Italian pianist and composer. Depending on what I need to do, if it is a writing piece or something more hands on, his compositions remove the blank canvas effect. It is something to connect my energy into and build off.

How do you deal with creativity blocks?

I turn to movement mediation. I will go for a walk, pull out my hula hoops and crank up the tunes. Finding a song that really helps me sit into my mood and body is important to break through the barriers. I am an over-thinker, so it is especially important to surrender to just feeling and moving. If necessary, I will take a pen to my journal and unpack what’s blocking me. However, I try to get it all out with movement mediation.

What is one tip you would give other creatives?

Stop surviving and start thriving. I wrote about this on my blog after cycles of exhaustion that no amount of yoga, mindfulness or productivity tools could get me through. It is important to play the long game, rather than spending too much energy on short term fixes, which is why I stopped focusing on self-care and instead turned to self-preservation. This was particularly important when I was freelancing and cash flow was scary.

What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?

My favourite colour is yellow, favourite book Oranges and Sunshine by Margaret Humphries, music changes with my mood, but a constant is Imagine Dragons and I love risotto! Favourite place in the world, Lauterbrunnen… or Chicago… ah this is hard. I feel like once I tick the Daintree Rainforest off my list it will jump towards the top.

If you want to keep up with what Natalie is up to visit the links below, and you might also want to take a look at her  TEDxYouth Sydney talk ‘Engaging Communities throughArt’.

Weaver – Claudia Chase

Black and white image of Claudia Chase

Claudia Chase is an amazing creative from Francestown, New Hampshire in the USA. I am often reminding people that creativity isn’t just about Arts and craft, it is threaded through all aspects of our lives. What I love about Claudia, is that she is a fantastic example of this. Her creativity is not only expressed in her weaving, it also extends to her business.

Back in 1996, as a young mum, Claudia saw a need and came up with a creative solution, a portable loom that could go with you wherever you went. From humble beginnings she has grown a successful business Mirrix Looms. It’s a business that also has a social conscience, the looms are manufactured at Sunshine House, a place that provides employment for people with disability.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice.

I am a tapestry weaver, among other things, who jointly owns Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms with my daughter, Elena. Mirrix was born 22 years ago. Tapestry is my go-to favorite medium, although I have indulged in everything from spinning to dyeing (which I still do a lot of), embroidery, crochet, knitting, and beading.

What is your genre/medium?

Tapestry is my main genre/medium although I am addicted to anything that uses fibre.

What is your first memory of being creative?

My first memory of being creative in the fibre world, (because until this moment I did not know about my love of fibre), happened when my parents brought my sister and me, little needlepoint kits from France. I think there were three little pictures to needlepoint. I dutifully made one and then turned the other canvas’s upside down and did my own thing. That eventually lead to weaving and all my other fibre addictions.

Who or what inspires you?

I am mostly inspired by nature. I know that sounds trite, but she informs all my colour decisions, and colour is the basis of my creativity. If it doesn’t work in nature, it just doesn’t work. When I paint silk, which I do frequently, I stare out at my lovely mountain view and take my cue from that vision. I am also constantly inspired by the many brilliant tapestry weavers out there.

Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?

Not really since being creative is my primary outlet and I practice it on a daily basis. Even when I am not feeling creative, I will practice my art daily. Just the act of working on something every day opens one up to new discoveries. Most of what I do is really repetitive and often the creative bursts are fairly rare. However, it’s the constant doing that leads to the eventual creative breakthroughs. And if that doesn’t work, I ride my horse or my bike!

How do you deal with creativity blocks?Phoo of a Mirrix Little Guy loom

I just plow through them. I know that maybe ten percent of what I do is really creative. The rest is just repeating an old chorus. But you can, for example, weave a tapestry even when you aren’t feeling that creative tug, since it’s usually been planned and allows for you to just go under and over, under and over. And then you can always rip it out!

What is one tip you would give other creatives?

Just do it. Don’t talk about it too much. Don’t just collect supplies. Use them. Don’t hoard special materials for the future. Use them. That gorgeous gold thread you bought ten years ago. Find it and use it now!

In other words, don’t compromise, don’t hesitate, don’t hold back. Just do it.

What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?

Favourite colour is not one but a combination, salmon, sage green, magenta and a bit of yellow. My favourite book, that’s a hard one!  I have read a lot of books, so I will pick the first book that ever rocked my world: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Amelia by Joni Mitchell is my favourite song and I love spicy food, complicated, fresh ingredients with Corsica being my favourite place in the world.

I have to confess I am smitten with these looms and own one myself, so I am a little biased. However, I want to encourage you to take a look at the Mirrix website, even if you aren’t a weaver! You can also find Mirrix on Ravelry and read more at their blog.

Artist – Freya Jobbins

Assemblage Artist Freya Jobbins

When my children were much younger, I met artist Freya Jobbins. It was through a community-based arts group that she was part of establishing. It’s amazing how once you meet another creative they often keep popping up your life, Freya and I have crossed paths many times over the years. Her work is multifaceted and continues to evolve, however Freya is well known for her assemblage work, created from deconstructed dolls and plastic children’s toys.

To some these creations are a disturbing, carefully and thoughtfully placed, assemblage of deconstructed plastic body parts and toys. For me there is so much to absorb. At first glance I see what it represents, whether it be Darth Vader, Batman or even Freya. However on looking closer it brings a smile to my face. There is a ‘Where’s Wally’ moment as all the components come into focus, pieces reminiscent of my childhood and that of my children. And then for me, there is the thought provoking. Freya has taken the ubiquitous, and turned it into the extraordinary. But what happens to all the other pieces that are discarded destined for the scrap heap, the pieces that don’t make it into an artists studio.  I am reminded that our consumerism and waste now begins in childhood.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice.

I am multidisciplinary contemporary artist based in South West Sydney. My practice includes assemblage, installation, collage, printmaking and now video work and is based on current social commentary.

Both my prints and sculptures have been exhibited and held in collections Australia wide. Also, in NYC, Detroit and San Francisco in USA. Hamburg Germany, Oslo Norway, Klagenfurt Austria, Yorkshire England, Dubai UAE and in Tel-Aviv Israel.

Currently, I am part of the group exhibition at Campbelltown Arts Centre (CAC) We are all connected to Campbelltown (one way or another)”, this is on until October 14th. I was commissioned by CAC to create a new video work especially for this exhibition. Other artists are Suzanne Archer, Candy Bowers, Joan Brassil, what, Joel Beers, Blak Douglas, Heath Franco, Anna McMahon, Danie Mellor, Claudia Nicholson, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran and Shireen Taweel.

At the moment I am also in a group show at Town Hall Gallery Hawthorn Arts Centre called THIS WILD SONG” which addresses gender equality with an empowering tone. Artist Illona Nelson styles and photographs significant Australian female artists, to create portraits where the artist becomes a part of their artwork. Open until Oct 22nd.

I will be having a solo show at Lamington Drive Gallery, in Collingwood Melbourne, from October 24 to November 10 called SURFACE2

What Freya doesn’t tell you is that Art is her second career choice! To some it may seem like an irrelevant fact, however for me it reinforces that we can pursue a creative life at any time in our lives, fulfilling our innate need to express ourselves.

What is your first memory of being creative?

I have always been drawing. Even before starting to school I was drawing. Building, making and experimenting started very young.

Who or what inspires you?

So many people, living and dead, inspire me. Places, people and moments in time, are stored and revisited through my work. People with persistence inspire me tremendously. I am never lost for inspiration in my creative processes as there is always something that I would like to say!

Artists like Kathe Kollwitz, Louise Nevelson, Cindy Sherman, kaarina Kaikkonen, Catherine O’Donnell, Suzanne Archer and Camden’s, Patricia Johnson, are all artists who have had a strong influence on my practice.

Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?

I am always ready with ideas, they are constant! My journals are always being added to, sometimes at 3am in the morning. I am always seeing so many possible conversations that could be addressed, made into a series of works.

How do you deal with creativity blocks?

I don’t have that problem, the creativity just keeps flowing.

What is one tip you would give other creatives?

Artists: find out what you want to say.

Creatives: Be original, and if you don’t enjoy it, I mean really love what you do, don’t waste your time and money.

What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?

My favourite colour is not a colour, I like black and white and grey, I have two books on the go at the moment ‘Seeing ourselves Women’s Self-Portraits‘ by Frances Borzello and ‘The Subtle Art of not giving a F–k’ by Mark Manson. Currently my favourite music is “HappenGoStay” by Norwegian muso Thea Hjelmeland from her latest album KULLA, I love potatoes and my favourite place is Berlin.

Make sure you head to Freya’s website to check out her work, not only her plastics but also her prints.

Or follow her on Facebook or Instagram

Do you have a Dream?


Do you have a dream?


A desire that burns deep inside of you, something you want to do, create or be?

Do you remember what it was like when you were a child and you had dreams for when you grew up?

Dreams are important, and as we get older, and caught up with the busyness of life, it is all too easy to lose sight of what we desire.

We listen to the voices of others telling us to grow up and be realistic, to take the path that is safe, and that the time is not right.

We doubt ourselves, we put our dreams on hold.

We limit ourselves.

We stop dreaming, we lose hope.


What would your life be like if you started dreaming again?


What if you decided now was the time, put your big girl pants on and began to chase your dream?

It’s never too late!

You are never too old!

What if you took off the bindings off fear, put on a mantle of courage and gave it a go!


I wonder what amazing things you will you accomplish?