How many identities do you have?
Sometimes I feel like I have a personality disorder because of how many hats I wear! Haha. I am a mum of three beautiful kids, Jude, Kristian & Abigail. I’m a wife of 25 years to David. I am a teacher and often do relief work. I am a singer song writer and am planning on releasing my album second half of 2019. I am the Founder of the Inspire Collective which is a community of creative entrepreneurs that aims to inspire, catalyse and empower women to fulfil their dreams through a culture of authenticity and belonging. Last year I founded the Little Girls Inspire Collective (7-12 years) which is all about bringing out the gifts and passions, and raising up strong identities in young girls to pursue their best lives, teaching them that who they are is special and is something that is needed on the earth and that they have a place. I am about to publish a book calledPermission to Dream which is a practical tool to help women identify what their dreams are, put language to them and gives a way of structuring how to outwork them. I think that’s all haha. Tell us a bit about your story and how you’ve got to where you are now?
We all have a story don’t we. My story has formed who I am today. I haven’t always been someone who has felt that they had much to say. When I was younger, a lot of the time I felt like I was invisible. I guess part of this reason was an experience I had in Year One. My music teacher put me in the corner of the room during a lesson for not opening my mouth properly when I was singing. I was an extremely shy little girl. Things that most kids would find easy, I found excruciating. That memory stayed with me and shaped the young person I was.
Being an introvert and quite sensitive, I found reaching out for a life I wanted very hard.I was often passive and dominated by others stronger than I was. I knew I had things of substance to share, and that there was more to me, but it seemed no one wanted to listen. It's only really been the last decade that I have truly discovered the woman I was meant to be and have started walking that out.
Because of the nature of the creative call on my life, I also struggled with knowing if what I was feeling was ok and have discovered that a creative person’s personality (or creative entrepreneur) is quite unique and in that way, I want to encourage other women in that area. When I produced my first albumDance of Life, I found it a solitary journey. There wasn’t really anyone I could talk to about the process and the unique pressures with ‘birthing’ a creative project. I think it's the same principle when starting a business or anything else. There’s so much that goes into it, there’s such a cost, you carry it like no one else does so no one else really understands the depth of what you go through to ‘get it out.’ I think that’s why I talk about dreams so much. Everyone has them, but a lot of women (and men) don’t live them because it takes an immense amount of courage and resilience to truly go after them.
What has been your most challenging moment in life thus far?
I think my most challenging moment has been raising a teenager. No one gives you the book on ‘how to’ raise a strong willed child! It's been a wild ride for the last 12 months! haha. How do you feel stereotypes have affected women in society so far?
I feel that we are possibly in the place in society at the moment where stereotypes of women are perhaps some of the healthiest they’ve been. I think with the introduction of social media into our everyday worlds, that women now have a platform and a voice that they didn’t previously and this means that there’s more chance they’ll find their niche or their ’tribe’ and be able to speak the same language and find identity in the collective voice. I definitely think women are still pigeon holed in certain roles such as wife/mum but in the circles I mix in, this is becoming less and less, as women realise that they have so much more to give. I believe that women have a voice that needs to be heard, and that they have the capacity to nurture and the wisdom to make really great decisions in a predominantly male dominated society - particularly in CEO roles etc.
What are you doing to affect change in these areas?
I actually see it as one of my mandates to inspire women to become all they can be. I think so many women believe the ideas that they can do one or two things, but not more and that there is certainly no space for them to actually go after their own dreams. I feel like shouting from the rooftops, ‘It’s ok! You’re not being selfish or self indulgent if you go after something you love that doesn’t involve your kids!’ I love it when I see the lightbulb go on and women realise they are ‘enough’ and they step up to fulfil a dream or a business idea that they’ve been sitting on for years, but didn’t feel they had the ‘permission’ to do anything about it. I feel like I’m affecting change by encouraging women that they have what it takes to live their best lives, particularly when it comes to going after creative passions.
How have you grown as a person, mentally, emotionally and spiritually since starting the Inspire Collective?
The Inspire Collective started by accident in many ways :). After doing my first album, and being approached by a few women who wanted me to mentor them in their creative pursuits/businesses (ie. blogger/singer song writers/artisans etc) I started a small group in my lounge room where we’d talk and I’d encourage them to make practical decisions about initiating and following through with the projects they had on their hearts to do. It initially started like a show and tell group - I‘ll show you what I’m doing and everyone would give feedback. We’d eat really nice food that I’d get catered in and occasionally share a nice coffee.
This outgrew my loungeroom and ended up with sell out crowds at the Little Bird Cafe in Northbridge. We did the events free because I got the coffee for nothing and the venue hire was gifted to us. After a while we needed to start charging a small amount because of the number of people we needed to cater for and the fact that we had very real costs that we needed to cover that myself and my volunteer team couldn’t cover any more. When we moved to the Platform on Adelaide Terrace, I decided I wanted the experience to be semi luxe so we’d cater great food, give the ladies a gift, invite world class speakers and do other lovely things. Obviously this increased the cost, but we still have gatherings of over 100 women every three months who are prepared to come and receive inspiration in this space.
My biggest stretches have been in the area of managing people and budgets and people’s expectations. As a visionary, I am always seeing the future of where the collective needs to go, but to take people there is one of the hardest things because by nature, people like the old and like the comfort of what they know and what they’ve done.
Our move to The Platform was met with a few grumbles from women who said they felt that the collective had ‘changed’. Incorporating feedback graciously, whilst sticking to your guns and hearing what others have to say is something that I think you need to be secure in yourself to receive. Also, as I work with volunteers, most of who are amazing, there have been times when I’ve had to ask people to step down because they haven’t represented the ‘team culture’ of the collective or the excellence that I like to lead with.
There are so many more challenges…..I think it might be the topic of my next book hahaha
Emotionally you carry it - it's your baby and no one will ever carry it like you do, or take the weight of responsibility on your shoulders for it like you do. At the end of the day, the buck stops with you and that’s a huge pressure.
I think juggling my responsibilities to the community of women I lead and then making sure I’m present as a mum and a wife is probably my biggest challenge.
I used to get very tired after speaking at Inspire Collective events and organising them, but now I find that my capacity has grown and it doesn’t affect me anymore.
Spiritually, I’ve had to grow in my prayer life as I rely on God for my strength more and more.
I’ve become a lot more resilient in dealing with people’s opinions of me or in managing issues in leadership, because I have seen that these things often have a habit of working themselves out or that it is often the issue of the person who has the problem, rather than a need to address things in myself.
I have become much more self aware and realise my blind spots and have become more vulnerable in sharing my weaknesses with others, because I know most of us have a hard time with one thing or another, and to hear that from someone who looks like they have it all together is freeing and liberating for women, because at the end of the day, we’re all trying to make it the best we can :)
What would you say to all the women out there who are in the corporate world and have creative passions but are too afraid to pursue them?
I love this question. I would say firstly, you have permission to pursue them and if you’ve had ideas and dreams in your heart that have been sitting there for a while, it is time to listen to those whispers and begin to give them a voice. Ultimately, we’ve been given one life and it's our job to figure out what our gifts and talents are; what unique expression we were created to make on the earth in our short time here, and to take responsibility for them and to express them. No one else is going to do it for you. You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realise you’d wasted those opportunities.
You don’t want to live in the shadows of your own life…you want to express fully who you are and allow yourself to be seen. I would say fear is a healthy emotion that you can use to your advantage, but to stay locked in fear is unhealthy. You need to surround yourself with others who have similar dreams/aspirations to you because at the end of the day, you need a community of cheerleaders to help you step out, keep focused and keep going when it gets hard. You need other voices who have walked that little bit further who can encourage you to keep going. I could say so much more about this - but it's all in my book. hahaha