Archive for March, 2014

imperfect and out there anyway

March 31st, 2014 | 3 comments

strictlyI remember seeing Strictly Ballroom when it first came out in 1992. I saw it with my (now elderly) mum, and we loved it. I recall her saying on the way out, “I smiled the whole way through!”

I smiled the whole way through the musical version on the weekend too, even though it was only the fourth show since it opened and a piece of the set was missing (having been damaged in an earlier show) and another piece of the set got stuck and squeaked a bit during a poignant part, and the microphone didn’t work a couple of times and the audience mucked up some audience-involvement segments and there were a couple of parts where the singing and dancing weren’t all that strong.

It was clearly very early on in a brand new production that I wholeheartedly recommend, and I’m trying to concoct an excuse to see again. I loved it. It was brilliant.

Baz Luhrmann directs it, and unexpectedly got up on stage to introduce it (*cue fangirling from me*). He apologised for the lack of a damaged set and thanked us for being there and suggested we have fun…

I devour musicals. Mamamia, Priscilla, Legally Blonde, Wicked… anything. This one was clearly being directed by an Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning writer/director. It was ambitious. It tried to do more than lots of the other musicals I’ve seen and it had a couple of early teething issues because of that, but WOW!

I felt like I was one of the privileged people who got to experience something written and directed by someone who isn’t afraid to put things out there – time after time – and improve upon them.

Risking criticism and tempting failure is how successful people in any field rise above dreamers who have a fabulous idea, but aren’t prepared to test it.

If your idea isn’t out there having the rough edges smoothed by experience, it’s not real. Unless you test it, it doesn’t exist. It’s not enough to keep your dreams under wraps, in a state of perpetual potential.

And if it’s not yet perfect – then now is the perfect time to let it go and see what happens.

one day, someone I loved walked out and never came back

March 16th, 2014 | no comments

When I was a little girl of six or seven, I used to love hanging out at my best friend’s house, partly because her dad had a Rolls Royce in his garage called Eleanor. It didn’t look like one – it looked like a piece of junk from the scrap heap – but he always maintained that this rusty wreck was beautiful.

Could he see something I couldn’t? It was like believing in fairies…

This is an image of the chassis of the car (which had been made into a water cart).

I have a strong memory of sitting on the frayed, scratchy leather in the back seat of this dismembered ‘thing’ in the darkness of their garage – bits and pieces everywhere, getting covered in rust and oil – pretending I was a princess.

My friend and I went through primary school together, and her dad was forever tinkering in the garage. We parted ways in 1985, went to different high schools and only really caught up again in the last couple of years, through Facebook.

A lot happened in our lives in the thirty-three years since we first sat together in the back of that wreck. We grew up, finished school, went to uni, started very diverse careers, travelled, married, had kids, divorced, re-partnered … the ‘life goes on’ stuff.

All along – for over three decades – her dad – Ian Irwin, now 75 – kept tinkering away, until yesterday – when Eleanor was finally unveiled. She took pride of place at Canberra’s largest gathering of rare and classic cars – and she’s exquisite. She’s exactly the car her restorer always envisaged – even when we couldn’t – back in the early 1980s when he first started breathing life back into her.

The car yesterday

We all have a dark garage in our lives, with a wreck that needs to be restored. We all need faith – not in fairies but in our own resourcefulness. It’s this concept that led us, through the My 15 Minutes program to launch today a free podcast series in which 24 prominent women – including surfing legend Layne Beachley, MasterChef Julie Goodwin, ARIA-winner Sally Whitwell, blogger Mrs Woog and many others – share intimate details about the ’15 minutes that changed their lives’.

In every case, the stories are not about overnight success. They’re not about things being easy. They’re not about lotto wins and knights in shining armour and job promotions landing magically in people’s laps.

They’re more like this:

  • “One day, someone I loved walked out the door and I never saw him again…”
  • “Everything starts somewhere. Apple was started in the garage. Everything starts small…”
  • “My scars have become something that I wear as a badge of honour, and I think all the cool super-heroes have a story, or a scar…Mine are more visible, but we all carry scars. And it’s whether we choose to embrace those or let them burden us that matters…”

They’re about struggle. They’re about heartache, and persistence, and dedication to a bigger picture. They’re about the times when life brings us to our knees and we scramble back to our feet, or when we risk everything and gamble on a dream.

The women in this series show us that – with enough tenacity, honesty and support – it’s possible for us to thrive after even the darkest of times: losing babies, being cheated on, losing the ability to walk.

It’s possible to create something beautiful out of almost nothing – even when nobody around us believes in it the way that we do. We warmly invite you to share in these ‘good news’ stories of hope, commitment, hard work and courage, which we’re offering for free from today at

Am I ever going to get there?

March 2nd, 2014 | 2 comments


Yesterday, I was meeting friends for a walk/jog at the National Arboretum. I took a main road, but found it closed for a triathlon, so I diverted through a nearby suburb, but that way was shut for roadworks.

Weaving through the backstreets, I turned down another road, and it was blocked off with witches hats, meaning I had to double back in the opposite direction, only to find myself on a road that, minutes before had been open – but was now shut off with barricades.

At this point, I had that familiar, slightly desperate sense of “Will I ever get there?” It would have been tempting to think, “Maybe the universe is suggesting I don’t go today”. But I LOVE meeting these people each weekend. Doing so was going to require a little bit more effort than usual.

Eventually, I arrived, only to find the parking metre not working, so I tried another one – but that was also out of order, then I gave up on trying to feed in the coins and tried to lock my car – but it wouldn’t lock from where I was standing.

After our walk, we ordered coffee and a croissant, and the alert disc they gave me to signify that the order was ready was broken and didn’t go off, so the croissant was cold by the time I found it on the bench about 20 minutes later.

End result?

Spectacular walk, great company, exercise, gorgeous views, the crisp air of early Autumn and a smooth trip home another way, now I was wiser.

The shambles of the morning reminded me of other times in our lives when we come up against obstacle after obstacle and sometimes it’s really tempting to give up.

Over the last 18 months, a good friend has been trying to break into TV journalism. She had tutoring, applied to volunteer, offered to take on very junior roles (far beneath where she was in her current career) and she had knockback after knockback after knockback.

She’s now working on a popular TV show and loving it.

If the end result is important enough, it’s worth persisting – even when we fall down, or doors slam in our face, or we get lost, or can’t get through a certain way. Whether it’s our career progress, or weight loss, or looking for love, or raising children, or seeking a break on a creative project – it’s often worth the frustration of getting there, to enjoy the final view.

When do you quit?

There are times when we find ourselves on completely the wrong path for us. What matters is to check in with why we want to give up. ‘Finding it hard’ tends not to be a good enough excuse. If something brings more negativity to your life than it can ever bring positivity – if you don’t learn and grow through it, if you’re not contributing or improving, if there’s no ‘big picture’ and if you’re not connected any more with the reasons you started – then it might be right to let it go.

If it’s just that there’s a road-block or three – go around.