Tag Archives: creativity

Books That Changed My Life

6 Sep

This week, I was set an impossible task by a dear friend: create a list of the 10 books that mean the most to me, or changed me, or touched my soul.

I immediately came up with 50 and had to cull ruthlessly. And then cheat, by tucking in 10 more at the bottom. Ahem.

So here are my ten, in no particular order.

1. The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

the-time-travelers-wifeI wish I wrote it. So original, so bittersweet & beautiful. Don’t watch the movie.

2. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown

DaringGreatly_largeWhy vulnerability is a strength, a beauty and a connecting force. This book changed the way I do everything and how I see my role in the world. Watch her Ted Talk for an abbreviated version.

3. Looking For Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta

Looking for AlibrandiI read this as I was starting high school and it was the first time I realised other Australians grew up feeling like they didn’t fit in anywhere, just like me. Informed my first inquiries into identity, family  and belonging.

 4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon Kavalier and Clay

A great friend put me onto this one. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

5. The History of Love, Nicole Krauss

History of LOVE

This one makes my heart ache, just thinking about it. I read it at a critical time and it was so healing. Made me believe again.

6. Wild, Cheryl Strayed


This memoir reminded me how important it is to go my own way, even if it doesn’t make sense to other people. And how important mothers are, so appreciate them while you have them.


7. Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert


Spurred my own overseas adventure, guided a different search for spirituality  and helped me realise I wasn’t alone in my wanderlust. It’s popular for a reason.

8. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

The best 21st gift you can get anyone.

9. Travels, Michael Crichton


All kinds of journeys, described by an amazing writer. I aspire to his ability to communicate esoteric ideas in a tangible, pragmatic way.


10. In Full View, Lily Brett

In Full View

I read this at age 15 and could not believe how honest she was. Oh, to be so brave as a writer! I love the way she lets it all hang out…

And, because I feel GUILTY about not including these life changers…

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

Incredibly Loud And Extremely Close, Jonathon Safran Foer

Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

The Little Book, Selden Edwards

Conversations With God, Neale Donald Walsh

A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett

Persuasion, Jane Austen

The Heather Blazing, Colm Toibin

Poser, Claire Dederer

What are your favourites? I’d love to see your lists…

Morning Poem

18 Jun

Zambo Sunrise 3

Every morning the world
is created.

Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches— and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
the thorn
that is heavier than lead— if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

– Mary Oliver

Inspiration + Purpose = ∞

11 Feb

Granada Sunset

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds:

Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. 

Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.


Give Yourself Space To Create

27 Nov

Sometimes all you need is a blank canvas…

I love this video!

“This is what happens when you give graffiti artists an abandoned warehouse and an unlimited amount of paint…”

The Pain of Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve…

20 May

“We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity,” writes brilliant classical pianist James Rhodes in his recent blog for the Guardian.

“Find what you love and let it kill you,” he says, quoting Charles Bukowski. It’s a wonderful, inspiring piece about hurling yourself into the creative abyss.

His journey has been extreme and harsh and total – and he’s a truly, truly phenomenal pianist.

“Is that not worth exploring?” he asks us, recounting how he pushed his dream away, burying it beneath the pursuit of security and self-worth.

“…only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted…”

Follow that Dream

Years ago, one of my teachers, Arion Light, told me to find the flavour or “essence” of whatever it was I was wanting. At the time, I felt sad and trapped; as though I was an actor who had wandered onto the wrong stage. I told him I wanted a better job, a bigger apartment, to be more successful, more important, more, more, more. I thought that in order to be loved, to be worthy of it, I had to be “someone”.

The essence – what I really wanted underneath that – was to feel loved.

 The irony was that I was using all these things that I didn’t really want to try and show “the real me.” As though once I hit a certain level of success, it would be ok to take some time off to do what I really wanted to do.

The “real me” actually just wanted to relax. To step off the mouse-wheel of crazy she had created for herself. To take long walks and indulge her baking habits. To have enough time to play on her yoga mat, to sit in meditation without an alarm set, to not be rushing all the time.

Next Vacation

It’s amazing to me the things I have denied myself because of this kind of thinking. I love to sing but for years, I kept it as a secret little side project. I was afraid of the life that I thought a singer would have. I didn’t want a life of touring and endless practice and being told what to do. I was convinced people would tell me to lose weight and change my appearance to be successful. That I would be judged.

So I didn’t sing.

But when I look at the essence of singing, of what it is to me – it’s connection. I want to sit on warm beaches and sing harmonies with people. To re-capture the feeling of singing in four parts like my family used to in the car on holidays. To look into the eyes of people in the audience and see that they too, connect with that song.

I love encouraging groups of people to sing from their hearts, with passion and freedom. Especially people who say they can’t sing. To see their faces crack with smiles as they start to feel what I do: that they are a source of love and energy.

I had these misguided ideas about what needed to happen in order for me to be able to “be” a singer. To “be” a yogi. To “be” happy.

Reading Rhodes’ piece reminds me that we always have the opportunity to challenge our idea of what we think we “should” be doing.

“What if rather than a book club you joined a writer’s club? Where every week you had to (really had to) bring three pages of your novel, novella, screenplay and read them aloud?”
“What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of “I love you” until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack?”

What are you making yourself feel badly about? What secret closet do you keep shut tightly, for fear of exposure?

What joy could you surrender to, what gift could you share with the world, if you just got out of your own way?

“So write your damn book. Learn a Chopin prelude, get all Jackson Pollock with the kids, spend a few hours writing a Haiku. Do it because it counts even without the fanfare, the money, the fame and Heat photo-shoots…”

It’s your life. Isn’t it worth it?

Having a rough morning?