Explore and Create Stories #15: Alke Groppel-Wegener

I’m so excited to be introducing Alke for this #exploreandcreatestories. I’m excited for many reasons, two of which are that I’m currently in the UK (hanging out with one of her great buddies and inspirations who introduced us (shout out Katy Vigurs who you'll connect with again later in the interview but did meet in the #exploreandcreatestories #9), and secondly for the way Alke describes what it is that she does. She does it in such an organic way. On her blog called Tactile Academia, Alke introduces herself as someone who is about living, breathing, and inspiring others to explore ways of teaching and learning in. She is focused on designing the learning opportunity particularly, but not exclusively, in Art, Media and Design as a way to link creative practice with academic research. That is, getting the right side of our brain in on the act and ready to party as part of academic research and writing.

I do hope you like this latest interview that really draws together how creativity and being present can align to what we do in our everyday life and the communication of this in visual, textual, spatial, written gestural and audio ways.

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Explore and Create Stories #14: Victoria Firth-Smith

This creative lady’s ability to bring people together is amazing. I have never quite seen someone juggle the empowerment of others with such sass, care and integrity. Say hello to Victoria Firth-Smith as our latest #exploreandcreatestories interviewee. Victoria enjoys making people think while promoting the best in them. She’s a creative thinker who allows others to also explore their creative ways of experiencing and viewing the world. Victoria has a mission (and one that I so so so love). She wants people to feel part of a community, and to feel and express creativity, empathy, and trust (oh yeah!). Don’t you just love this? I do hope you enjoy this chance to learn from and with Victoria as she shares her explorations and experiences in bringing people together, swimming in ideas and the potential of things, and how being creative is her version of mindfulness and flow.

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mindful walking - top tips for showing some self-care

We all walk. But we are usually walking fast on the way to something, thinking about a task we need to complete, something that is worrying us,  or the person we are meeting. We often walk without noticing what we are thinking, doing, or feeling. Often we can be walking while talking on the phone or listening to music.  And it’s not that uncommon for us to just walk in an automatic mode as a means to get us from point A to B; it is after all something we do pretty much everyday.

What I love about mindful walking is that the practice and action is very much underpinned by the principles of mindfulness. That is, being self aware, grateful, and present. When being mindful we are in the here and now, in touch with our body, senses, thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Here are my top tips for turning your walks into a mindful walk.

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Explore & Create Stories #13: Mel Silk

Mel Silk is one smart cookie. She is a thinker, and indeed invites others around her to think as well. When talking about "flow" and "being in the moment" as a creative she really makes one think about their own being. As you will read in this interview, for Mel, "being is fluid...being a person creating and feeling immersed in the creation experience" is how she would describe those marvellous moments in time when ideas, space, and being all click.

Mel is an educator, and one that has inspired others to be empowered with their thinking about the world through design and making experiences - specifically making learning visible, because the learning is the experience in itself! She has had a wonderful background in schools and is now inspiring outside the walls of one school through her new endeavour called STEAMpop. Learning through making underpins STEAMpop and illuminates how making is an essential part of the creative process. Making enables us to understand abstract concepts,  it challenges our ideas about the world, helps us visualize mathematical concepts and scientific ideas, provides a real sense of achievement, allows us to fail and try again, and is most certainly joyful.

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5 steps to reconnecting to your goals and intentions and setting those boundaries

It’s April! Where did that come from?!? This means we are a quarter of the way through the year, and it is indeed a timely reminder to reconnect with goals and intentions set at the start of the year. I’ve been working with several clients who are finding that they have shifted away from their main goal for the year. This is not because it is not important to them. Rather “life” and “busyness” have taken them in tangents and circles that have meant there is a feeling of non success and of being overwhelmed in relation to their yearly intention. The more I tune into this occurrence with those who I am working with, the more I am coming across others in my life who are feeling this way as well.

This is a timely reminder to set boundaries around what it is you want to achieve, and how.  It’s time to reconnect!

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Explore and Create Stories #12: Elizabeth Bull

Elizabeth has a beautiful story. It is one that I really connected with when I met her through the Creative Women’s Circle and The Resolution Project we participated in together last year. Elizabeth is one kick arse photographer. Her eye is incredible…you just can’t stop looking at the finer detail of her work while also appreciate the simplicity and freshness. She is also one of the most humble, curious, and gracious women I have ever met. I think you will agree that this Explore and Create Story shares so much in regards to the complexity of being a creative.


"We share beautiful and inspiring prints created by talented photographers, and make them accessible to people who would like to enjoy them in their home".

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Explore and Create Stories #11: Jonathon Hagger

In this Explore and Create Stories interview I’m so delighted to introduce Jonathon Hagger. Jonathon is a marvelous example in how you can balance your life and make sure you are true to yourself. As we were preparing for this interview Jonathon shared how reflecting on the questions has been a mixture of relief but also knowledge development. He shared that “I feel that in writing my answers I am able to see for myself how my thought processes and beliefs are/have changed and for that I am extremely grateful”.  His on going reflections about his well being, self care and mindfulness are just infectious. A future e-book on mindfulness is on its way to share his learnings and to empower others. This is such a gracious demonstration of how Jonathon connects with others. I also love how he lives his true belief in mindfulness - you’ll love the realisations about mindful writing and ironing! (that’s right!)  I do hope you enjoy this latest story.

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feeling like a fraud: the secret sense of imposter syndrome and mindful thinking

Who hasn't felt like they were out of place or not able to live up to others' expectations? Who finds them self asking "what if?" Many, and actually most people, do experience these feelings at one time or another.


This feeling and thinking is often associated to Imposter Syndrome. This is a term phrased by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978 and refers to high achieving individuals who internalize their achievements and accomplishments and display a persistent worry of being exposed for not knowing as much as they think others think they know. It is often associated to feeling like a fraud. There is often a feeling of not beingas smart or talented as people think. Often there is a feeling of not being deserving or experienced in the area, skill, or task being undertaken, completed or lead. 

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Explore and Create Stories #10: Duncan Gibson and Sam Hambour

A core part of living a life where you are always exploring and creating is being open to new opportunities. This is where Duncan Gibson and Sam Hambour of Hop Nation Brewing Co. are a glowing example of how their love and passion for beer, and great tasting beer with hop forward flavours (that’s one of the ingredients that imparts biter, zesty or citric flavours…and smells devine) shines. I’ve been chatting (and watching with a smile) these guys who burst into public eyes in 2016 with one cool, trendy and vision packed brewery and tasting house in the inner West suburb of Footscray in Melbourne, Australia. What I love is their genuine passion and desire to continually create new recipes that are not only bursting with flavour but are original and punchy as a whole package (you just have to check out their names and art work that go with each beer, way cool). They are passionate about sustainability that comes with small batch brewing, and produce beer made using quality, natural ingredients, with no fining or pasteurization and minimal filtration.

I sat down with Dunc and Sam on a Saturday afternoon at their bar. We chatted about their past, future visions, the creative process, and how they work as a collaboration. I also gained some insights into how they show some self care for themselves as they develop their business, join the Footscray (and I like to think Seddon) community, and become a standard product on the beverage list for our barbecues, parties, and casual Sunday afternoon drinks. 

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Explore and Create Stories #9: Katy Vigurs

I met Katy a few years ago in Chicago after we had been connected for some time via Twitter and Instagram. The power of social media and networking is so great (as you know I’m an advocate for social media as a powerful learning tool!). We met on a spring day and the tulips were shining. I remember this so well, apart from the fact that I captured it on film, but because the yellow was like a metaphor for Katy – bright, bold, beautiful, refreshing, and just so lovely. I do hope that you enjoy this Explore and Create Story. Katy really does share with us how it is possible to stay true to ones self and be involved in creative projects that inspire those she works with, and indeed herself. Her ability to weave this way of working into her professional and personal life is contagious...I'm a big fan of her everyday photography on Instagram that just ignites many moments of inspiration.

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openness to feedback: top tips

No matter what we do we are learning. When we learn we open our self up to receiving feedback. Feedback is a powerful resource for improvement. I like to think of feedback as if we can be 1% better each time we attend to our learning. Over time this allows for feedback, continuous improvement and being present in what is possible. Be open to feedback. Take the chance to receive feedback as your grow and develop.

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Explore and Create Stories #8: Sharon McDonough

I just love chatting with Sharon. She is someone I just love to talk with in regards to writing, being creative, and exploring mindful self-care. When we first met we shared strategies on multitasking and surviving other people’s expectations when it comes to the ‘diary’ and ‘email emergencies’ (or perceived emergencies from others’ when they have left things to the last minute) and how we don’t ‘wear’ this in terms of how we manage our own time and be true to our self. I just love it when you meet someone who you can bond with and are able to constantly reflect on how to be a better version of yourself, while also helping others’ do the same. 


What I love about Sharon is her willingness to explore new things. She does this in her writing, her teaching, her crafting, her cooking, her personal life, and how she engages with others. Her “pretend olive farm” produces some just awesome olive oil (we enjoyed it over the end of year break with homemade fresh bread and dukka…yum yum), but is also for me, something that stands out to how Sharon balances her life with her hubby to spend time with nature, on the land, and with a sustainable and mindful approach. This time on the land just oozes mindful practices that are in the moment, compassionate, and allowing for moments of being present. She relishes meaningful relationships, opportunities to learn and to also share her learnings with others, and try new things.


I so hope you enjoy this #exploreandcreatestories interview with Sharon. I think you will agree her passion and enthusiasm to explore and create possibilities in life are just infectious.

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there is no right or wrong of being creative: my top 8 tips

I find it rather empowering when I have the realisation that there is no one way of doing something. That there is no right or wrong. You know that feeling when you realise you can be who you want to be, you can approach a task how you want to, you can think about something from any perspective, and you can be so open to what is possible. For me this is what creativity allows me to explore — choice, freedom, and expression. It allows me to connect to the present and be immersed in thoughts, feelings, senses, seeing, hearing, breathing, and moving. 


Everyone is creative. BUT many of us think we are not.

So if you are exploring how you can be creative or find more time to add creativity to your life think about these ideas. My top 8 tips...

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Just one word.

So as we transition from 2016 into 2017 I'm thinking about my mindful intentions for the incoming year. These are connected to how I want to be as a person and how I want to engage with the world personally and professionally. This intention focuses on the present and provide the guiding light to living mindfully moment-to-moment. In thinking about my intention for 2017 I'm drawn to the word Renewal.

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Resting and learning from others

Over the end of year period we all stop...or at least try to stop. We connect with family and friends. But importantly we connect with our self and what we have learnt, and how we wish to improve ways we work and engage with others. Self care comes into play.

The time away from my work, colleagues, and research for me is required. My time away is about renewal and reinvigoration.  I want to take care of myself so I can continue to do what I love. A part of this is stopping and rethinking how I can do this. The stopping is the most important part of this process. Rest is vital.  I also read about how others do this. I ask the question: How can I renew and reinvigorate our ways of working so that we can be smarter in our approaches?

An article Ihave read that has captured my attention is 12 Weekend Habits of Highly Successful People. This is what I have learnt…


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Tweet Chat 101: using social media for learning

Social media for learning is one of the best resources available to us. I’m a fan of the access to content that supports our growth for learning. Active participation, or even being an elegant lurker, allows for the engagement that can trigger ideas, inspiration, connections, and possibility. The chance to explore ideas connected to current thinking or interests is prevalent.

What I particularly like is the platform of Twitter for links to focused conversations that can come from Tweet Chats. In thinking about this way of connecting I’ve become aware that many of us have not participated in a Tweet Chat nor heard of a Tweet Chat. So this post is an introduction to the 101 of Tweet Chat participation.

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I'm not creative! Think again, any problem can be approached through creative thinking

Everyone is creative!

When we are mindful of creating opportunities in our daily life to be creative, we are approaching a problem in an innovative and original way. We are also, taking care of ourselves and our mental health, its about self awareness, boosting self esteem, being in the moment and present, calming our mind and quieting the mind and the negative self talk, and most of all being non judgemental.
No matter what we do, we can think creatively.

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Explore & Create Stories #7: Nicole Bilinski

Nicole and I have been all systems go with our creative goals this year as part of the Creative Women’s Circle Resolution Project. I’ve been so excited to hear all about and follow Nicole’s adventures into being true to her self and making sure creativity is a part of her life. I was just blown away by her determination and passion to make this real with a mission to practice every morning. With the blessing of her boss, and true alignment, Nicole is showing all of us just how it is possible to find time within a busy life and various commitments to explore-create-make-be. I just love it, and I do so hope you enjoy reading this latest #exploreandcreatestories interview. 

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always connected

We have now become accustomed to being always connected. Most of us have multiple devices, we have multiple social media accounts (sometimes multiple with the same platform for different audiences and purposes), and we have multiple email accounts. Our way of communicating and keeping connected with the outside world is primarily through the digital. It is not uncommon to hear that most people sleep with their smartphone next to their bed, it is the last thing check before we sleep and the first thing we check when we wake. 

Is the way we areconnected now, too much of a connection?

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Explore & Create Stories #6: Helen Kara

Helen is one of my social media buddies. We have never met face-to-face (although when she visits Melbourne at the end of this month we'll be having a coffee for sure!!!!) and we engage with each other through various social media platforms. Our passion for research, sharing people's voice, arts and creative practices has meant that our online interactions have continually collided...and in great and inspiring ways! In this Explore & Create Stories interview I am so delighted to introduce Helen. She has a background in private, public, and voluntary sectors, and now carries out commissioned research and evaluation, mainly for public and voluntary sector organisations and partnerships. Her focus is in the areas of social care, health, and the voluntary/third sector. Say hello to Helen, and I do hope you enjoy this wonderful interview...and the surprise video towards the end!

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