Explore and Create Stories #16: Kori Nemme

The articulation of “exploring creativity” is such a wonderful philosophy to have. The wondering, pondering, inquiry, curiosity and openness to explore really underpins the notion that creativity can be approached in different ways. I am reminded of the quote from T. S. Eliot ‘We shall not cease from exploration; and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the very first time" as our latest Explore and Create Stories interviewee shares her thoughts with us about the place of creativity in her professional and personal life. I think you will agree, the openness to explore and be totally absorbed with learning, fascination, perspectives and the flow of possibilities just oozes from Kori and her approach to…well, everything! I so hope you enjoy this interview, just as much as I do.

Tell us about what you do. 

Professionally speaking I am an educator. I like to mix it up a bit and work within schools, universities and community settings, where my focus is on holistic education, creativity, and spirituality. I am an itsy bitsy part writer but I’m working on this being a bigger part this year. When I’m not working I love scribbling words and playing outside. I love learning deeply about almost anything. If I could be a professional learner that would be me. Till that happens, teaching and academic work come pretty close to living that dream.

What are you passionate about?

Writing, creative thinking, feminism, education, hearing people’s stories, exploring other cultures, and marinated goats cheese.

What’s inspiring you at the moment?

I’m writing a book on children’s spirituality (which has taken me about 1000 years thus far so maybe it will be out in another 1000) and a series of workshops on creative and critical thinking. I’m also toying with the idea of studying creative writing back at uni.  I’m feeling inspired about dedicating a solid chunk of time towards writing for the sake of writing, without a particular work focused agenda. I’m more excited about this than hot popcorn popping.

What led you to your latest project or focus?

Celestine Prophecy style the subject of creative and critical thinking kept tapping me on the shoulder via other projects, conversations, and through meeting people in areas other than education. I‘ve been drawn to the area since researching children's spirituality ten years ago and this is where I now find my focus. I'm in love with this idea because it draws upon the oldest knowledge in the universe combined with our modern understandings, multicultural awareness and technological underpinnings. Fascinating! Working in this area is a sure way of never being bored, and that, I absolutely love.

How do you approach creativity in your life?

Creativity is everywhere. It comes to me in unexpected moments and also as a result of a conscious effort to seek out creativity. Mostly, I intentionally find time to be creative when I know flow will find me. This is almost guaranteed to happen when I have solitude, a pen, and a metropolitan park/ café/ public transport. If I’m traveling I feel great bursts of creativity also. Play of course is central to it all because it allows for freedom and risk.

I feel strongly about exploring my own creativity. I think it’s the most joyous feeling of being human so it would be ridiculous not to explore and play and engage with it. Having said this, since becoming a mama bear two years ago I have had to reflect on where and how I can feel a daily sense of creativity amongst some very practical and time-consuming daily parental tasks. To experience those solitude pen moments I have to organize and push for chunks of time. This isn’t easy when my partner has a busy work life and we have no family living nearby. Its important to know my daughter believes I live a creative wonderful curious life. That’s the story I want to send to her. When I feel creatively stifled I am a drab and anxious person to hang around anyway so I need to be creative.

Professionally, ideas thrive after having had interesting conversations with others. This conversation does not necessarily need to have focused upon my problem/ project. A conversation with someone in a completely different discipline can turn the rustyness over in my brain and unleash something. The cogs have been oiled and the ideas are good to go. Such a big heart feeling.

We talk a lot about "being in the moment" or “being" when creating. What does this mean for you?

Certainly agree. It’s all about the here-and-now state of being. In my PhD research I looked at these concepts as part of relational consciousness.  This includes those moments when bodily awareness almost diminishes, time flies, and you experience a oneness with the self and whatever task is at hand. I think mindfulness is paying attention to this, to the here-and-now.

What defines you in terms of balancing creativity and mindfulness for flow? How do you do this?

At the moment, with an active and curious toddler, my balance means taking any opportunity I get.

Other times moments of creativity/ mindfulness isn’t planned. For example, we may be down at the beach and before we know it a few hours have passed and we have played and relaxed and really connected back to the ease of the ocean. I experience mindfulness through weekly yoga and walking on the beach. For a while I was tuning into the Headspace App daily to experience a sense of mindfulness but that habit has fallen away. I’d like to get back into it because I really enjoyed the challenge. And I do find it challenging at times.

What’s the biggest challenge you find in approaching your creative endeavours? 

Definitely finding the time. And then once I have the time being self-disciplined to use it! I battle with being ‘too inspired’, particularly within the social media landscape. Although I value social media for the connections I’ve been able to make on there and for learning about ideas and projects I am guilty of senselessly swiping through the news and works of others. I read a quote ‘Less inspiration, more self-creation’ and I absolutely can relate to that. Trying to live it.

How do you find your zen?

Solitude 2am evenings shared with nothing but the crickets, baths with red wine in hand, calm cafes, wandering beaches and metro parks, listening to zen tunes, and yoga.

When you experience flow, what is the impact on your productivity? Tell us about this.

I can keep going and going. Time is of no influence. Quality in terms of the experience or the product is the highest it can be. I will look back at a piece or writing or work I have produced at those times and won’t recognize having written what I wrote. Impressing yourself like that is too good. I try to think about that potential future afterthought whenever I am in a moment when feeling as though I’m not producing anything any good.

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing creative/mindful work?

- My research supervisor, Dr Phil Fitzsimmons, who introduced me to flow theory and relational consciousness. He is the most fascinating and non-conforming brain and always leaves me asking more questions, wanting to know more, to get deeper.

- Laura Dockrill is a creative writer who I am a little obsessed with right now. I don’t know if she has been a huge influence over my lifetime overall but at the moment I am in awe of her creative attitude, and it’s contagious. I have a Laura Dockrill virus.

- My mum whose only advise was to do what makes me happy. Even though as a teenager I craved for much more ambitious advice, in retrospect this simple suggestion has influenced many a creative choice.

- My Dad who encouraged a fun curiosity for knowledge and learning about the world

 How would you rate your level of happiness about your creative endeavours at the moment? (1 being sad, 10 being love it/awesome/BEST EVER.)

Hmm that’s a tricky one. On one hand I have less time than I ever have to undertake creative projects and workwise I am producing very little compared to what I usually do. On the other hand having a baby has made me incredibly motivated to strive to use my creativity and explore it further, hence potentially undertaking a creative writing degree, which really goes against what I should be doing practically. Hmm perhaps a 7 then?

Tell us, who are you clicking on at the moment?  Why? 

I have only gotten into Instagram in the last few months. That’s how I’ve met you Narelle! Other people include Dallas Clayton (because he is ultimate fun), Brain Pickings (to learn something every time), Laura Dockrill (See, I’m obsessed), Yoko Ono (simplicity), The Broad Place (slowing down), Humans of NY (isn’t there so many interesting in this world!).

Tell us, who are you listening to at the moment?  Why? 

At this very moment I’m listening to Mozart. When I have a list of things to get done on a laptop I quite often go classical. It keeps me focused. Other than that, at this moment, it’s a mishmash of Beth Orton, Clare Bowditch, Laura Marling, Jose Gonzalez, Martha Wainwright and The Wiggles. The former artists make me feel good. The Wiggles make my daughter feel good. And any chance I get I tune into the Dumbo Feather podcast, TEDs and BBC Women’s Hour.

Tell us, who are you talking to at the moment?  Why?

Family and friends. This morning I had a focused and uninterrupted conversation with a friend who has just began her own business consulting with NGO’s. So proud of her. I’m also talking with as many people I can about Japan – I plan to travel there in May.

Tell us, who are you are reading at the moment?  Why? 

·       The 3-Day Nanny – to try and work out how my daughter can stop hurting my brain with am wake ups ready to party.

·       The Desire Map – started it last January and like the simple idea of running with the feeling to guide your goals.

·       Big Magic by Liz Gilbert

·       Jack Gilbert – listening to his poetry be read online

·       A graphic novel on philosophy.

·       Good Bones by Margaret Attwood – let me get lost

What’s some advice you would offer to someone who is struggling to find their creative spark? or What advice would you give to someone who thinks they aren’t creative? 

 Someone who thinks they aren’t creative means they’re not human. Creativity is what separates us from the rest of our wonderful animal world. Start by being curious. What interests you? What don’t you know about? What is the thing you do that makes time fly? Pursue it and play with it. Creativity doesn’t have to be serious. Actually I think humour is fundamental to it. Just start by following your curiosity. Make friends with fear (ridiculously easier said than done. If you find out how let me know). Just start small but give it a go, whatever it is. Our time on earth is way too short not to explore our full creative self. How sad it is when people don’t do this!

What’s the best ever quote you have seen in terms of creativity or mindfulness or flow? 

Gosh there are way too many. ‘Our own life has to be our message’ by Thich Nhat Hanh is a goodie. Simple and gets straight to the point - It makes me think, hell yes I’m going to get over whatever it is that’s stopping me and just go for it, whatever it is. ‘Follow your bliss’ by Joseph Campbell has to mentioned also.

Want to connect further with Kori, the check out her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.