Explore and Create Stories #19: Nicole Marshall


Hello 2018! And hello to Nicole, our latest Explore and Create Stories interviewee. Nicole is an Aussie living in London. She’s such a risk taker – she’s tuned into her needs and wants and just gone for it! So exciting! Nicole and I met a number of years ago when she was studying to become a primary school teacher and we have maintained contact since then. I am so delighted she can share her story with you all this year and in the month of January – a time when we are all refocusing. Nicole shares her journey of self-awareness, noticing how she was feeling with her life in Melbourne and what her needs were…discovery, exploration, being challenged by new people and new environments. I’m delighted that she can be a part of this series, and I hope you enjoy the read as much as I have.


Tell us about what you do. 

I’m a primary school teacher.  I began my teaching journey in Melbourne, Australia where I completed my Master of Teaching at La Trobe University.  Before I even received my certificate, I was on a plane to London.  I taught year 3 at a school just outside of London for a year and then moved closer to London where I now teach year 1 in Dagenham.

What are you passionate about?

Teaching and travelling.  These were the two main reasons which prompted my move to London.  It’s funny how attached I get to the children in my class. I love them all so much!! I’ve also realized how much I love travelling.  Being in Europe makes it so much easier to follow my passion!

What are you working on at the moment? or What’s inspiring you at the moment?

At the moment, I’m working on being happier with myself.  I really believe that you need to find what makes you happy.  I’ve made a lot of big decisions, a lot of things that others will look at and judge me for.  But I’ve learned a lot about myself and that life is yours to live: you need to do what you enjoy, what makes you laugh and smile.  This is also especially true with the people you surround yourself with.  I’ve met so many people in London and it’s hard to push through the fake-ness people put up as a barrier when you first try to make new friends and connections.  London can be a lonely place but I’ve found that if I’m happy then London is a much more cheerful place.

What led you to your latest project or focus?

I was bored in Melbourne.  I was sick of the same routines and wanted a change.  I knew I needed to make a big move and I’d always wanted to live in London, so I thought why not?! London is everything I wanted the experience to be and maybe more.  I’m never without something to do, public transport is amazing and I’ve made more friends here than I thought I would.

How do you approach creativity in your life?

In teaching, your classroom is your space to be creative.  I’m able to create my own space that I can share with the children including displays, approaches to behaviour management and teaching lessons. 


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

Being in the moment has been so, so important with the move to London.  There are a lot of things to plan and worry about, and I couldn’t let these things overwhelm me.  Even now, being in the moment is something that I try to appreciate every day.  Sometimes I just sit back and think ‘Wow, I live in London now!’ and it is such a great feeling!  That feeling helps me to solidify the fact that I made the right choice, and inspire me to continue on the path that I’ve chosen.


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

I think it’s important to choose your own path.  Creating your own experiences, be your own person (not what others want you to be or what you think others what you want you to do).  Be aware of how your choices affect your own life.  You can’t change other people, you can only create your own path.  I like to think that I’m balancing my creativity and mindfulness by making my own path in life and making sure that the choices are my own and make me happy.

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

Time!  When you move to a place like London, there is always so much to do and so much going on that it’s hard to find the time to just do your own thing and be in your own space.  Even things like grocery shopping are a challenge when you don’t have a car and need to coordinate that with the route you take to and from work.  I definitely have started to schedule in more ‘me’ time into the week so that I can relax, refresh and do the things that I need to do for myself.


How do you find your zen?

I always seem to find my zen when I’m travelling.  I don’t know what it is, but there is something about the lack of control and the freedom you get when you walk into an airport that just makes me feel so relaxed, at ease and happy.  Luckily London teachers get 13 weeks holiday so travelling is frequent enough to keep me in my zen zone!

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

The biggest impact for me is my own thoughts!! If I am mentally positive and happy, then things seem to continue in a positive way, but if I’m in a negative frame of mind then things don’t work out as well as before.   Sometimes it’s really hard to keep positive but since I’ve moved to London I’ve learned that it’s extremely important to focus on the good things that are happening rather than dwell on the negative.

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

1.     My Parents.  They have always encouraged me to have big dreams and to achieve them.  I would not have been able to move to London without their love and support.  Their support has meant that I have been able to explore and be myself more than ever.

2.     I don’t really have any other influences in my life.  I really believe in doing the things that I want to do and what makes me happy.  All that matters to me is that my parents and sister support me and are always there for me if I need them.  I don’t look to others for comfort or encouragement because they don’t have a place in my heart to influence me.

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.)

At the moment, definitely a 10.  If I was still in Melbourne, maybe a 1.  I needed a shake up, and I definitely made sure it was a good one.   I was sick of being stuck in the same routine, the same life.  I have never regretted a moment of moving to London.  It is never boring, always exciting and helps me be happy.

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

Netflix!! I love being able to wind down after a long day with some tv shows or movies.  It’s nice just to be able to switch off and not think about anything else for a few hours.  It really helps me to relax and calm down.

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

London is such a great place to be able to see bands and artists live and at a reasonable price.  I’ve seen Ed Sheeran, Simple Plan and The Vamps.  I love listening to music that is upbeat, especially when I’m exercising.  I’m also loving the British bands at the moment (maybe because I’m living in London?), so they are high on my playlists when I’m out and about.

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

I just started a German language evening course at the University of Westminster, so I am talking, in German, to my German teacher and to the other people doing the course with me.  It’s been my resolution to start learning German since I moved to London, and I’ve finally been able to make the time to start this new adventure.  I love the course and it’s really helping me pick up the language.  I’d love to be able to travel to Germany and use the language when I’m there.

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

At the moment, I’m reading history stories.  I love history and did a major in it for my Bachelor degree.  I’m enjoying reading historical events but in a fictional way.  I also love the amount of history in England and exploring the history of this country.

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? 

Creativity is what you make it. 

Take a risk. 

Go out of your comfort zone. 

Don’t let others hold you back.

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

True creativity does not come easy; creativity is born of risk and refined by failure. - Erwin Raphael McManus.

Stay connected with Nicole on Instagram @anaussieteacherinlondon