imageComfort zone is a very nice place to be. It is also usually populated with friends and loved ones too. Moving beyond the comforts of internal ease and social connectedness is not something we do lightly. Or perhaps not at all.

My strategy in moving beyond the tall poppy syndrome was to move to Europe for 10 years and try out some things in the safety of a continent’s distance from sneering onlookers (brothers in particular!). But the time comes to re-integrate all the pieces of one’s life, and so back in my home town for more than a decade now surely it’s time to pop my head above the parapet?

I must say that since becoming more serious about  naming my Big Dreams of writing, business ownership and making a bigger difference as a free agent that I have been pleasantly surprised by the reactions of those around me.

What we can often find is that those we think may mock or question us can actually be very supportive. You can have the tall poppy and the loved ones.  That is what I am banking on, anyway!









observer realityIt is a fascinating study of quantum physics or just everyday behaviour – that when we are being watched, we change what we do.

I know as an advocate for health consumers, the very fact of your presence at a consultation, even if you said nothing, radically altered and usually improved whatever may have been going on between patient and health care provider.

Like many people I felt that coaching was just not for me.  I couldn’t afford it, what was the point, I knew what I needed to do so why would I pay anyone for that?

The sad reality is that most of us just do not follow through on what we say we will do.  For a thousand reasons, it just doesn’t happen.  I couldn’t believe the difference it made to me to have someone I had to speak to each week or fortnight, to let them know how I had gone with my self-imposed goals.  The many areas I was just not showing up in appeared in stark relief.

We humans are very strange, and making the decision to work with a coach was one of the best things I have ever done.  Apart from becoming a mum that is 🙂

02 freedomThat’s how my mother used to describe that sensation, of a mother suddenly relieved from her duties, able to walk out the house, up the street, on her own.  Sprouting wings.  Of course, she had six children in eight years and clearly had few opportunities to sprout wings and remembers them vividly five decades later.

That’s how I feel today, only this time the baby is not a human baby, but a job baby.

Perhaps I am an orphan, but I usually find that whatever job I end up in becomes an all-consuming passion.  To the point where you can no longer find yourself and you have ended up in a kind of endless flurry, the mouse on the wheel, round and round and round.

Life can seem to be an endless compromise between creative impulses and practical considerations.

All of my life I have wanted to write for a living.  As I am 50 in two years’ time, it is fairly safe to conclude more than half of that life has already passed by with so far just one monograph “The Camera Obscura and Greenwich”

Thanks to the wonders of google even this modest offering is able to be found on the internet.  But quite frankly, that’s not where I want my publishing legacy to end.

So I am delighted to announce that today I took another big stride towards a less committed work life; and that means carving out more of a space to write in.

Just want to let out a loud WOOPEE!

And there is Day 2 of 30 day blogging challenge.  Who said I couldn’t be consistent?


imageI am having the most beautiful, indulgent weekend at a retreat “The Courage to Lead” in Bindoon.  I went in fairly blind, on the recommendation of a colleague I trusted and her gentle prompting that the retreat would be “ideal” for someone going through transition.

That would be me!  Just weeks now separate my old life from my new – on my daughter’s birthday, applications for my job will close and the process of appointing and handing over to a new person to take on my job will be complete.  The space I am opening up will lead me goodness knows where in the long term, but right now I am just enjoying the uncertainty.  Like coming away for this weekend, not really knowing what to expect!

I found myself indulging in an early morning Inspirational Listen – I have (of course) signed up to the latest Hay House Summit and have been occasionally listening to one of the day’s speakers when I have a moment.

This morning’s was Joan Borysenko I loved her simple conversation about how to remain in your “wise mind” when feeling stressed or depressed.  She suggested a very simple breathing technique – in through the nose, out through pursed lips like you are breathing through a straw – and allowing your breath to assist you in re-establishing a healthy internal environment.  Short circuiting the stress chemicals, if you will.

She also said that she starts the morning with facebook to connect with her community, and share something nice.  What a perfect start to the morning, I thought!

imageMy name is Pip Brennan and I am a trainaholic.  I think I realised this week that my case had become quite serious. I went to my inbox, absolutely determined to resist all siren calls of small businesses with just the right solution for getting started as an entrepreneur, sorting your website, selling and marketing to bazillions with ease and grace. No, this time I would resist it all, tie myself to the mast and sail into my inbox and emerge without having bought or downloaded a single business development training package. Quite frankly I have more than a lifetime’s listening already loaded up and ready to go.

But alas, the wise resolution lasted no more than three emails and before you could say “tag line!” I had downloaded yet another hour long segment of audio training that I simply could not live without.

But this time it really really will change my life! Honest!

I couldn’t help feeling a bit naughty when one of the teachers on an audio program cautioned against having more than one teacher. So I guess five is not quite the ticket then?

I prefer to think of it as market research, and once you find the same advice coming up over and over in a range of different programs you know that you have mastered another piece of the puzzle.

What is exciting too is actually trying stuff out, making the learning stick. There seems to be no more sensible way of proceeding that following the footsteps of others who have been there before. And now I really really am not going to download anything until I have finished all my courses!! Really!

But please don’t forward me any training offer emails because the odds are not in my favour for resisting – I am just in the early baby steps of recovery!


LighthouseTo make progress in life, one needs a coach. I have heard this so often in the last few years and eventually this year I finally heeded this advice.

The energy changes immediately – you know that you are going to be held responsible at the end of each week  for those things you said you were going to do.

I started to see her 10 weeks ago when the siren song to leave my day job became more and more irresistible.  Of the many pearls of wisdom she shared with me was to visualise myself as a lighthouse.  Be still,  but be very visible and people will find you.


Work is progressing on my website as you can see, and  I am definitely on the road now to whatever is next.  Terrifying, but the only things worth doing in life are the things you are scared of.  Must be on the right track then.

Some women (and men) may be triggered by reading posts in the Not My Story Blog.  I have put together a simple list for Western Australian women of support services they can access.

For those in Western Australia, the main referral agency is the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC): SARC 24-Hour Crisis Line: 9340 1828 or Freecall 1800 199 888

They also offer counselling for historic assault or abuse, and they have a range of good group programs.  Call 9340 1820.

Allambee offer specialist counselling services in Mandurah: 9535 3869

Victim Support Services: they offer a range of support services especially during any justice processes

WA Police: if it is not an emergency it is really important to make an appointment to see someone senior.

Victoria’s Centre Against Sexual Assault is a great resource too

imageThere is nothing like a week’s retreat in Bali to freshen the senses and make everything seem like new.  Especially in the middle of a cold, wet, Perth September which is showing no signs of relenting for Spring and then Summer.  It is so magical to be able to fly in just over three hours to another country with a whole different climate, culture and pace.  Ah, Bali!

An even bigger treat to indulge in an art and yoga retreat in a little villa just above the teeming bustle that is now Ubud.

The edits from the draft I submitted to a professional editor were all there for me to complete – and yet with all the excursions, downward dogs and painting, they only half got done.

Since coming home to the cold and rain, some intense sandwiching issues of mother and daughter, I have nonetheless managed to get these done. So now, the first three chapters at least are edited.  I even met with a colleague who had read through and unlike everyone else I have submitted the book draft to, she has actually supplied her edits.  ‘Just go for it and publish it how it is!’ she advised.

Looking into online publishing options….


Ta Da! My special edition print run from Officeworks for Bookclub, who have so kindly agreed to review it, with red or even green pen.  We meet again next week so I will listen to their loving feedback.

The first three chapters of this version are currently sitting with Writing to Inspire‘s Elizabeth Bezant – I still have a couple of weeks left of waiting.

I am also beginning to explore more of the internet world and may well move this blog to where apparently it can continue to grow.  And see if I can get it published online.  What a maze!! Wish me luck…

justiceI have been doing a lot of thinking this week about accountability and what happens to Inquiries when their voluminous reports are released.  Specificically I have been thinking about the Recommendations from the West Australian Inquiry into the Prosecution of Assaults and Sexual Offences undertaken several years ago now; the above link is to the 2008 report. PASO for short, for there must be an acronym.

Ostensibly fuelled by the preventable death of a young girl after her murderer had escaped prosecution on prior offences, the Inquiry aimed to look at what had gone wrong to allow the perpetrator back out onto the streets after a bungled handling of a prior offence.  After its inception it grew to encompass sexual assault as well, and that is when I became involved, giving evidence at the Inquiry.

The Inquiry undertook all the processes that typify Inquiries.  Thoughtfully conducted, with painstakingly recorded testimony from victims, secondary victims and service providers.

And at the end there was more than 250 pages of report,  and 37 recommendations.   This is it quietly entering into parliament – need I say that 2009 has long come and gone, with no Hansard mention of a Report?  I liked this 2009 soundbite:

To this end, I will be asking the Sexual Assault Services Advisory Group to investigate a number of the issues that these reports have raised, including addressing the reasons for withdrawal of complaints of sexual assault and ensuring that established processes put the onus on victims or complainants to access supportservices themselves. I restate this government’s determination to ensure that individuals who are victims of sexual assault receive a very clear message that their issues and experiences are important and deserve the highest level of care.

Alas, alas this laudable sentiment did not survive the change of West Australian government, and there has never been an obligation, other than a moral one, for any of the relevant service agencies to report back.  At risk of breaching confidentiality, I can say that I sit on the Sexual Assault Services Advisory Group as a victim representative, and have done since its inception in 2008.  I was motivated by wanting to know what happens with a public Inquiry, whether all the work, time, care and effort that goes into writing recommendations actually translates into action.  Five years on I certainly question when I think it might be time to step away…

Certainly there are recommendations that have been actioned or superseded, but others still awaiting time and attention.  For example,

Recommendation 19: The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions,in collaboration with the Department of the Attorney General, investigate and report on the meritsof therapeutic justice.

I was googling for the PASO Inquiry’s link today to write this blog when I came across this UK article; the tragic story of a woman who felt so violated by her time on the witness stand being cross examined that three days later she took her life.  It just made writing this blog all the more urgent; as the article states:

Victims of burglary do not have to prove that they have been burgled or to justify their behaviour before the burglary. With rape and sexual assault allegations, victims still find themselves subjected to hostile questioning.

This is a really key part of the issue with sexual assault and abuse cases and why they are so difficult to prosecute, so hard for the victims to make it all the way through the process to hopefully a conviction.

I really would like to know more about Recommendation 19 – what therapeutic jurisprudence might look like, whether survivors of sexual assault are routinely offered a pre-recorded interview to give their evidence, if so what the uptake is, what the legal outcomes are in relation to trials using pre-recorded interviews vs trials where women are excoriated on the witness stand.

So back to the meeting next time I will go, to see if I can winkle out some more answers…