My business, my story……

Reflecting on my first 6 years as an independent business woman and Aboriginal to boot. Those who know my story know that it began in December ’09 when I was made redundant at 51 years of age.

Breaking the yoke of being a salaried worker for 98% of my 35 years in the workforce was no small feat.  A book recommended by a colleague entitled ‘Flying Solo’ was a wonderful segue into my new independent world which required a complete ‘’about face” from my modus operandi and associated head space over my career.  No one in my family, to my knowledge had ever supported themselves working independently, though my mum supplemented her day job with dressmaking in a small country town. My parents came from an era of strong work ethic and longevity with one employer. In modern day terms what would be described as ‘struggletown’.

Blowing away a few myths

When I emerged from the fog of being made redundant I had an innate belief in my ability to have something of value and significance to offer society.

I’ve morphed from being an I-pro (independent professional) to taking a deliberate, strategic decision to be a non-employing business.  What?  Shock, horror!                But, but….. … what about the public policy to support Aboriginal businesses to employ Aboriginal people? Well, yes – if that’s what the business owners want to do – well and good.  However, why shouldn’t our business world have the same principles as that of dominant culture.  Surely, a level playing field constitutes business owners having the freedom to run our business on whatever business models we belief best suit us, our interests and to be free of judgement and any associated shame.

The journey to the decision to be a non-employing business, I think, is of interest….     It started with an epiphany when undertaking an interim CEO position with a National peak body representing 150 Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisations across the nation (NACCHO).  I’ve always had a strong sense of social justice and rose to the level of Regional Manager at the age of 32 in the early 90’s. However, daily head-butting the disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (3% of the Australian population) and the rest of Australia’s health brought about a realisation that this situation was not only not ok but that I wanted to devote whatever was left of my working life to help bring about change.                                                                          influence and change  For me – it’s about influencing and changing not just the status quo, but systemic and organisational racism.  Strong statement??  Perhaps, but without that level of change we will not see transformation or if we do, it will likely be short lived or sporadic and almost certainly, not be on terms that are consistent with values that sustained our peoples for thousands of years.

Having been asked early this year to share my journey at a Small Business Conference and now to participate on a panel at a Symposium on Aboriginal Leadership and Entrepreneurship I find myself reflecting on what is ‘success’ and ‘growth’ in an Aboriginal business.  Most certainly the outworking of that will be to build a business that employs Aboriginal people, directly providing financial independence, leaving a legacy for future generations.  I don’t think I’ve come across any of our mob who don’t have a sense of responsibility to give back to community.  Whether that’s our original communities where we have ongoing connection; or in the communities where we live or by way of relationship connection in other communities.

However, my answer to this personal reflective question in both cases of ‘success’ and ‘growth’ is: effective and expanding, authentic, influence.

Let me expand… mantra is to ‘dance’ to my own tune, to what is authentically me.  My Aboriginal roots and yes, for me, my Christian beliefs. The responsibilities and consequences that flow from that duality; from the duality of having been raised independent (and at that time unknown) from my Aboriginal descendancy to understanding this aspect of my identity and re-defining my place in dominant culture; to influence dominant culture systems and processes in a manner that will provide a better landscape of opportunity for upcoming generations to find a place of harmony with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait heritage however they choose to interface with dominant culture.

I am determined not to be drawn in to dominant cultures definition of success which is essentially based on money and materialism.  Beware the systems and processes that would seek to lure us into the limelight of the dominant culture.   Beware the policies that would lure us into working, living and playing in a world that is contrary to our heritage. Does that mean I can’t be affluent or live in an urban area?  I say  “No”.  Owning my Aboriginal heritage does not mean that I must live a stereotypical existence. That’s certainly one of the stereotypical beliefs that I’ve needed to lay to rest.

“How could I be an Aboriginal when I’m fair skinned, brought up in dominant culture and successful in life and career? “      Does not that statement really, say it all?   My – how we have been indoctrinated.  The last Tasmanian Aboriginal to die was Truganini or so I, and the majority of others, were taught.  And yet, today there are upwards of 6,000 Palawa Aboriginal descendants.

Why is this so important to ‘success’ in business?  Just as I discovered in being an effective Manager, to also be effective in business you need to ‘know thyself’. Understand your own values, beliefs, identity. Understanding your why will flow into the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of your business.

My ‘what’ is to do what I can within my own sphere of influence to give recognition and value to our cultural ways and values; for our peoples to be free to be who we were always meant to be.  To utilise and move amongst, but not be consumed by, modern societal structures, processes and ways.

To remain true to ourselves

.Zig Ziglar


Where are you? open and expansive or in overload?

The issue of ‘margin’ in our every changing, fast paced world.  Continuing our musing on the work of Richard Swenson……

Load isn’t the problem over load is – particularly over a sustained period.  Only so many details can be handled by our brain before becoming disorganised or creating frustration. It’s like all the drawers of our filing cabinet (hippocampus) have been left open or bringing into more modern terms – too many applications open slowing down computer response times.  Sometimes we need to remedy with a warm shut-down, other times to perform a de-frag; all of which refreshes the computers memory.  Get the correlation?  Ever noticed the difference when we give our brains some off or down time?

So, what’s the definition of overload. “a state of chronic overage that leads to dysfunction in at least one important area”   Short term overloading of course, is a common occurence – deadlines, tax time,  grant submissions, exams.

Common symptoms of overload:

  • Apathy, withdrawal, depression, work dread
  • Irritability, anger, hostility
  • Frustration, disorganisation, mistakes, chaos
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, burnout
  • Moral failure, relational problems
  • Risk taking behaviour, excessive self-medication
  • Abonormal sleeping or eating pattern
  • Hyperacidity, irritable bowel, headaches, palpitations

This is obviously a serious and complex area and cannot be over-simplified. However, clearing the ‘clutter’ and ‘noise’ around us can be a great starting place.  Here’s a few simple suggestions:                                                   clutter

The schematic above gives some great insights into what can be ‘weighing’ us down.  Do a self-health check. See what resonates with you.

If you’re constantly feeling hurried and fatigued – try consciously slowing your pace, make technology work for you, ruthlessly eliminate hurry, turn back your clock; develop healthy sleep habits and exercise.

Information overload?  It’s ok not to know.  Be selective about increasing information. Pitch the pile. Manage notifications. Turn off your email alert and read at designated times only. Have a technology free day or weekend.  Have a news free day.

Let me or someone you care about know how you went.

Hapa, Hapa – slowly, slowly (Swahili)

Life is about how we see things

What?  Are you getting old or something?  Perhaps, after all I am on the far side of 50 but the underside of 60 which is the new 40 so I’m told.

But then, perhaps it’s wisdom.

Have a read over the next few weeks and decide for yourself. You are the author of your own destiny.

In his excellent book, Margin: Restoring emotional, physical, financial and time reserves to overloaded lives, Richard Swenson, MD describes margin like this:

Margin is:

  • the space between our ‘load’ and our limits.
  • the amount allowed beyond that which is needed
  • held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations
  • margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion
  • the space between breathing freely and suffocating

Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin. Margin is never easy but – perhaps recognition of when it’s not present, is.

Swenson says:

  • When we’re maxed out – we’re at 100%
  • Overloaded – 120%
  • Burnt out – 140%

When we’re on the unsaturated side of limits, it is possible to be open and expansive.

When we’re on the saturated side of limits, however, the rules of the game change. We cannot put something in until we take something out.

So – where are you?  Open and expansive?  or the latter?

See you next week to check for symptoms of overload.

Unearthing a forgotten treasure…..

Brene Brown quote

My Story …….  I had been recovering from a major operation for four months, and was on a graduated return to work. Going to a Conference where I would be away from home and having to get to a venue each day, then sitting all day was a big physical test for me at the time.  But – I felt I needed the mental stimulus to begin the movement out of a three year health hiatus.  I was trusting God to give me the strength to do so.

As part of the conference, I nominated for a full day master class entitled MARGIN: Sustainability with Passion versus The Overload Syndrome with an American by the name of Richard Swenson MD.  I wasn’t certain that I was going to manage sitting and concentrating for that long. My short term memory was still being affected by the surgery and my physical body was still at odds with itself.

What a gift

In so many ways…… True, I was ripe for the moment, BUT I was captivated by what he shared. Time evaporated and except for a couple of twinges I was unaware of my body and I remember sleeping well that night.     I remember thinking as I was sitting there listening that ‘I was born for such a time as this’.

The man himself – such a humble, unassuming person. He had been a family physician for years and became more and more intrigued by what influences our health. In 2003 at this master class he described himself as a ‘futurist’. Well I had never heard of one of those.  It seemed that what a futurist does is read and listens to lots; gathering information on current world trends, what is affecting us as a society and individuals. Then layering that, with what he had learnt and observed as a physician, resulting in a remarkable day of stimulating thought.

In his introduction Richard Swenson describes himself as an introvert even though he was then (having spoken at the Pentagon) and still is, a high profile speaker.  He goes on to say that after a speaking engagement such as this he would have a week of solace to re-charge.   From his delivery you would never know this.  He is humorous, engaging and knows how to ‘hold’ his audience – a powerful story teller.  Also a published author you can find out more at

What prompted me to write about this now?  I saw an article where someone else had referred to Richard Swenson and it reminded me of the treasure of that Master Class in 2003 in Sydney.

I’ve been looking for inspiration for my blog content and I think I’ve just found it.  Yes it is nearly 13 years on, but, it has ‘good bones’ so I’m going to draw some insights, along with what I’ve learnt since, over the coming weeks.

It will be a good lead up to my next workshop KICKSTART SPRING  on 24th October 2015.

Watch this space for the emerging KICKSTART retreat in 2016. Preference will be given to those who have attended the one day KICKSTART workshops.

Listening to Cornell West this week has given me the courage to finally post this…..

To my brothers and sisters………

I know many people whom I both respect and love who love not a person of the opposite sex.

I have watched the current battle rage for some time. I’ve been disturbed over a number of years about the terrible things that have been inflicted, endured and for some have just been too much and decided to leave this earthly experience.

For those who know me, you know that I believe in a living God, one who wants to have a living relationship (just to be clear non-sexual) with all His creation.  To those who find themselves in same sex relationships I want to sincerely apologise for all the defamatory comments, afflictions, hurtful words and looks that have been passed your way, particularly by people with my Christian belief.  I look back in recent history and I’m ashamed at how sexual orientation, by most, of the community has been demonised, criminalised with the effect of dehumanising people. I am profoundly ashamed of that.

Some abominable things have been done in the name of our God which is so alien to His nature.

Some of my Christian friends may be wondering where I’m coming from and I admit I don’t have answers per se.  What I do know however, is that there is no hierarchy of sin. Homosexuality, scriptually is no bigger a sin than fornication or adultery. Let he/she who is without sin there – cast the first stone.  But wait – scripture says that there is nothing God hates more than pride. Anyone with a stone in their hand clean on that one?  Scripture says that we have all sinned (or missed the mark) and fallen short of the Glory of God – all of us. So who of us is without sin?  None.  The stones need to stay on the ground.

There are also some terrible atrocities happening in the heterosexual world.  If we could only love and respect each other as God originally intended then we would not be having this debate. Unfortunately, this is not our reality so may I humbly make a request…..

As one who has been married as a heterosexual for nearly 40 years I would now respectfully ask my friends and family who are in same sex relationships that they show us the respect  that we perhaps neither deserve nor perhaps have shown you.  Have equality in the law but don’t make what is, in effect, retrospective legislation which changes the premise under which we entered our marriages.

If there is a new name then those that enter into that institution from the date of change will know what they are signing up for and be in agreement.

Could this be a way possibly be a way forward?

A reflection on respect and understanding in Reconciliation Week


Wanyu Ulurunya tatintja wiyangku wantima – please don’t climb Uluru

When I was 15 years of age my mother took me to Alice Springs. It was the early 70’s. Flying in a small plane from Adelaide we had a wonderful view of the country. There had been a lot of rain that year and the desert had come alive with carpets of flowers. Around Alice we went to many interesting places, Palm Valley, Standley Chasm, Simpson’s Gap, Hermannsburg Mission. We also went by bus out to what was then called ‘Ayers Rock’.

Such unique country and a stark contrast to the rolling green hills of the agricitulrual land of the North West Coast of Tasmania where I was born and raised. I climbed Ayers Rock and even have a certifcate somewhere to say so – signed by the bus driver no less. It all seem so ‘inappropriate’ now. But even then – two years before we discovered our Aboriginal roots, there was an eeriness about being ‘on the rock’. Mum had chickened out at ‘Chicken Rock'(That might surprise some now but I was pretty fit in those days). I continued on my own, though there were many others climbing that day.  I had a foreboding sense that I shouldn’t be there – ‘on the rock’ that is.  I can still remember it to this day. The feeling was so strong I almost didn’t sign the book recording my presence at the rock summit.

Knowing what I do now I would never climb the rock again. I have read accounts where people who took stones from the rock had felt the need to return them – some many years later. Some associating ‘bad’ things happening in their life to having ‘taken’ the stones.

Of course, the spiritual link, connectedness, is what I know know was happening to me at that time. Some would say superstition but no – its the connectedness to the land. For me – the honouring of God’s creation and the first people of this land and respect for our culture.

We go to other lands and follow the traditions set out before us as a tourist and yet in our own country so many struggle or ignore the traditions of the first peoples of this land. Why is that so?  Why is it that we find it hard to respect the oldest continuous living culture in the world?

I stumbled across this article recently which provides the perspective of the traditional custodians, the Anungu peoples.

Lessons from the wilderness

The pace of our lives…. The pace of the world……Having taken a day trip on the Wilderness Railway recently from Strahan to Queenstown return on the West Coast of Tasmania I’ve been reflecting on a few aspects of life.  King River

The Wilderness Railway takes us through the King River Gorge on the edge of a World Heritage wilderness area.  We hear how people lived in this wilderness making a living as best they could. Townships of 400 people in by-gone days now re-claimed by the bush with barely a remaining artefact. It struck me as to how different life is today…..  Take the brighter green trees in this picture (they look a  bit like weeping Christmas trees).


They are our famed Huon pine trees. The pictured trees are 200-300 years old.  The tree itself doesn’t mature until 1200 years old.  Some of the trees are true ancients.   Even the notion of something not maturing for 1200 years flies in the face of our instant gratification world.

Something else that you may just be able to pick up in this not-so-sharp picture is the white whey type ‘foam’ in the water.  You see the Queen River, severely polluted by    Mt Lyell copper mine flows into the King River.  The white whey that we see isn’t due to turbulance of the water, as in rapids, it’s mother nature ‘cleaning’ the river.  The King River looks pretty healthy these days.  The Queen River looks much better than it did 45 years ago. When I visited as a teenager – it was a pinky/lilac/white sludge. Now it looks a rust colour – gradually recovering.  It is estimated that it would take about another 1,000 years without any human intervention for nature to restore it to full health.

So often in our own journey of life, we want things to be different; to be without pain, to be instantly healed…..

Lessons from the Wilderness:

  • it takes a long time to mature
  • damage doesn’t happen overnight nor does recovery and healing
  • nature is undertaking its own healing in us if we let it

Perhaps God is whispering…… “Thank you but I won’t be needing your help today –  so go, and rest in my name.”

Black enough for who?

Good reading! Thank you….

Border Crossings

Book cover - Anita Heiss looks over her glasses at the reader.In her Boyer Lectures, Marcia Langton points out that many white Australians haven’t really got to grips with the reality that Aboriginal people can be middle class. Instead they cling to a particular stereotype of Australia’s Indigenous population: very dark skinned, very poor and in need of help, either living isolated from modern society in remote areas, or begging on urban streets.

It’s a convenient stereotype, because it enables non-Aboriginal Australians to continue acting in racist and paternalistic ways towards Indigenous people, including denying them the right to self-determination and identity.

View original post 1,807 more words

Ever doing something and think…. Why am I doing this? Why do I keep putting myself ‘on-the-line’ ?

Eighteen months ago, there was a stirring, an inspiration, the birthing of a passion.  To create my own workshop to help unearth the gold that lies within each one of us.  Essentially it’s about increasing our resilience around transition (and who isn’t in transition these days)……… but let me continue the gold analogy.

Here are my opening remarks at the KICKSTART workshops

“MY AIM  for us all today is to discover something new about ourselves. 

This will be like gold for us

 regardless of where we currently are; where we want to be and what we think we would like to achieve …..

My strong belief is that we all intrinsically have gold within us. ………

BUT sometimes that can get a bit buried

maybe by ill health, the circumstances of life, grief – it can be so many, many things.

sometimes we’ve never seen that an aspect of who we are or a skill as gold or maybe we once did but lost sight of that.  Maybe we think our gold is 9k, 15k or 18k but I believe we have the potential for pure gold. 

Some nuggets will be easy to find; some may take a process which will hopefully be discovered, if not started today.

The fact that YOU are sitting here now is significant.

So – let’s go mining “

Why then the reflection – “why do I keep putting myself out there?”

What seems to happen in the lead up to a workshop is that it’s a ‘growth’ time for me.  It’s like I’m living out what I’m going to be imparting on the day. This can be strenuous but if I reflect on what’s happening it means that I’m being authentic, a value that is important to me, as well as valuable for YOUR workshop outcomes.

If you think you would be interested in developing more emotional intelligence and resilience in this wonderful journey called ‘life’ learn more and register for:

KICKSTART WINTER on Saturday 16th May  2015.

For the first time a Central Coast venue – St Joseph’s Retreat, Kincumber.