If you’re anything like me, you will have experienced the usual winter day-dream about waltzing out of the office, jumping in your car with a triumphant “WOO-HOO” and zooming, full throttle, into the sunset. Destination: sun and warmth. Well, amazingly, that’s exactly what I was doing about this time last year. My name’s Lisa and, if you haven’t already met me behind the desk at our Austi or Sydney clinic, I am Quirky Kid’s own in-house (well, sometimes out-house) Graphic Designer.
The thing is, when I started my university degree in Creative Arts/Graphic Design, I didn’t really consider the fact that I had resigned myself to a lifetime of office work, eyes blurry from such long sessions of screen time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this profession (and wouldn’t swap it for anything!) but after three years of working from the office, I did begin to feel that itch. The itch to just get out there and experience the world. I know everyone feels this way eventually, it’s just how people deal with it that’s interesting! For instance, many people sate this desire by working non-stop, pooling together every dollar, then heading overseas on a six month travel binge… Only be then trudge back to the office, starting the saving process all over again! This approach to work/life balance works for lots of people, but never really appealed to me. I started brainstorming other ways to create this fabled balance…
Luckily at this stage of my life I wasn’t interested in foreign shores or icy slopes. In hindsight, I was probably just homesick. I wanted to be back in the tropics. Born and raised in Darwin, these southern winters leave me withered in mind, body and spirit. But there was an answer: buy a van and get on the road towards home. “You’re dreaming!” I hear you say. “How will you afford it?” I hear my mother say. Well, I approached the big boss with this idea who, being a seasoned traveller himself (and luckily very modern in his thinking) very kindly agreed to keep me on while I made this happen. So there you have it. I was about to start working on the road: logging in where I can, attending meetings via skype, regular phone catch-ups, uploading files to our cloud. The technology is there, so why not use it?
I began the trip having no idea how much this new found freedom and space would spark my creativity! I’ve read countless ‘feel-good’ articles about how nature and being out of your comfort zone can have positive effects on your mind’s ability to think in different ways, but never truly believed it. The last few chapters of our latest production (BaseCamp) for example, are two of my favourite chapters of the book – But because I like the work? Or because the work is tied to memories of being out on the balcony looking over the rainforest of far north Queensland? Who knows! Time to do it again, I think!
Last week, I was lucky enough to get a ticket to ‘Wired for Wonder‘, an annual 2-day event hosted by Commonwealth Bank. ‘Wired For Wonder’ features an impressive line-up of speakers and workshops in the areas of technology, life, business, arts and science. It aims to encourage collaboration, innovation, inspiration and self-discovery. There were also coffee stands. Lots of coffee stands.
So, there I was, sitting spellbound for the entire 10 hours, listening to incredible speakers talking about inspiring ideas, overcoming adversity, polarity of ideas, technology, parenting, innovation and creativity. We were treated to music by Ben Lee and LIOR, opera and comedy. We participated in “DIVE DEEP” workshops where we met in small intimate groups and focused our learning. We practised brainstorming and prototyping and even badge-making.
I laughed and cried (mostly tears of laughter) during Dylan Alcott’s talk as he pulled gold medal after gold medal out of the pockets of his wheelchair. Born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, the doctors set to work and removed the tumour. The operation, however, left him a paraplegic and wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. He spoke of being the best version of himself, of not feeling sorry for himself and of making the most of what he could with the cards he was dealt. His positive attitude and ability to look at things from a positive angle was ultimately what pushed him to succeed (and even go crowdsurfing in his wheelchair at festivals).
In psychology, we often use techniques that focus on a person’s thoughts to help them change. By changing the way one thinks, we start to change how we feel (from anxious or sad to calmer and happier) and ultimately this leads to a change in the way we behave. I saw in Dylan Alcott’s talk the sheer power of thought and will. By believing he could do it, he felt confident and inspired to achieve and he put that into action.
Another highlight for me was the DEEP DIVE session I attended during lunchtime with Fiona Triaca and Sharon Cody. The concept of their workshop was that instead of thinking in order to build, we should build in order to think. Using my hands and creating prototypes and building my ideas (using paper cups, boxes, sticky tape and blue tac) helped to harness my imagination and it got my “creative juices” flowing in a way that writing down ideas on a piece of paper would not have inspired.
It is hard to condense 10 hours of ideas into a few paragraphs. I suppose that for me, the event was about exploring polar opposites, creating cognitive disinhibition and provoking thought, then using these ideas in the context of my own personal and professional world. I think I could sum it up with the tagline embroidered onto the lanyard chain – “I’m weird, I’m wired, I’m wonderful”.
Every now and then, we can all benefit from a little bit of inspiration.
A sincere thank you to iAccelerate at the University of Wollongong and Commonwealth Bank for making it possible. Tickets were kindly provided free of charge by these organisations.
Mount Everest. It has been a place that has fascinated me since I was a little girl, with it’s alluring beauty on one side and it’s unpredictable and commanding nature on the other. While I have always known that I would never scale it’s peaks, I’ve always wanted to hike to Basecamp, and that is what I will be undertaking in a week’s time!
In December, I attended a UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) fundraising event and met some inspiring members of the organisation who were heading to Everest Base Camp in March 2016. The mission to Base Camp is designed to raise awareness and funds for two important UNICEF projects: Nutrition programs in South East Asia and the Nepalese Earthquake appeal. After hearing about UNICEF’s amazing work and dedication to helping marginalised and poverty-stricken children and families across the globe, I asked what I could do to help. Then and there I signed up, committing to raise at least $5000 and to head up to Everest Base Camp on an 18 day trip of a lifetime!
Getting ready to head to Nepal has been a journey in itself. I have walked on average 60kms per week with boots, 10kg pack and ensuring lots of escarpment climbs have been achieved to get my body ready for the trek ahead. Walking has been time to reflect on the plight of millions of children who live in dire circumstances and who lack the things we typically take for granted, such as fresh, clean water. Training has also been a time of raising awareness of friends, family and community members have joined to support me through the kilometers! I am happy to say, I am fitter and healthier than ever and have raised over $7000 that is going directly to support UNICEF and their work.
I will be back with stories and adventures to share in a few weeks and in the meantime, I encourage you to share an act of kindness with someone around you. A small act can make a big difference!
“The smallest act of Kindness is worth more than the grandest intentions” Oscar Wild
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