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One Balmy Eve of Inspiration.

Last Tuesday I embarked on an adventure of inspiration, perspiration, and a sprinkling of frustration. It was one of those days (which seem to be how many of them have been going this year) when things just didn’t quite go to plan. Plan A was to get the dog in the car, drive him to boarding, then catch the train to Brisbane to attend the Peppermint Mag Peptalks event and spend the evening sleeping in a ‘quaint’ (ready dodgy and cheap) motel. Packed and ready to go with the pooch in the pooch-mobile (it’s his car… pretty much the only time I drive is to move the dog from place to place) I turned the key in the ignition and there was a very loud bang. My dear little 20-year-old automobile friend failed me for the very first time (the only other time it hadn’t started was when the battery went flat a few years ago). It wasn’t a surprise that after 20 years of moving; first my folks and my sister and I around, then carting myself through two serious relationships prior to my current one, and now my hubby and a pooch, that my poor little car had finally decided to put itself into retirement.  Having already paid for my accommodation I pushed a devastatingly confused Seb-dog out of the car (his look was… ‘why is it not moving…I’m sure we were going to the beach or daycare’), rang the boarding kennel to arrange for him to be picked up, then waiting around for the doggy shuttle bus to arrive. A three hour bus-and-train-trip and one lovely train friend later I found myself immersed in soul filling art at Brisbane at GOMA, then eating a vegan burger meal deal with chips and a watermelon juice at the cutest (and hottest… no air con and no breeze) little cafe in West End.

Meanwhile the series of unfortunate events had continued with a lost lip liner, forgetting my photo-id which nearly meant I couldn’t book in to my Motel room, a broken bag strap, spilling food on my shirt, and the button that holds my shorts on snapping in half. Fortunately the op-shop came to the rescue and provided me with the most gorgeous Tigerlily shirt (which I quickly realised had a hole in it but it was fortunately not too visible) that sorted the stained top and covered the broken button shorts before heading to the Wandering Cooks Peptalks venue. A venue that I walked around for ages trying to locate as Google maps sent me to the wrong end of Fish lane as I juggled my umbrella and phone in the balmy stormy evening. Fortunately I made it! Sweaty, a little confused , totally flustered, and not at all the way I was intending to arrive, but my somewhat epic Plan B was successful.

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Why the long story?

So you are probably thinking… What the heck does any of this crap have to do with the event? My decision to share my journey to the event with you is based on one of the clear take home messages that all three of the Peptalks speakers shared. No matter what you embark on, whether it’s developing your own fair trade designer label, taking on a (several) year long personal challenge, or creating a not for profit product range with the goal of providing water and sanitation to the developing World, you will have moments along the way where life throws you challenges. Challenges are designed to help you learn more about yourself and make you stronger. Justine from ThankYou Australia threw up a quote mid way though her presentation that provides wisdom that would resonate with most of us:

Life’s roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors.

It can be easy to assume when viewing social media accounts that there are people out there with ‘storm-free’ lives. Where nothing bad ever happens and every day is a holiday. As far as we know there isn’t a soul out there that has had a life free from some kind of disaster, be it big (like death, suffering, or heartbreak) or small (like loosing your lip liner or having the button on your shorts break). It is part and parcel of being human that we will inevitably experience some kind of negativity or sadness in our lives. So accepting this and working with it, like Hailey Bartolomew mentioned during her heartfelt talk on the night (more on this in a moment), is the best way to be ready for life’s storms.

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Hailey Bartholomew is not a one trick pony. She started her online journey with a project many of you many be familiar with entitled 365 Grateful (which you can hear more about above), but she has since blossomed into a beautiful career in photography and film-making with her husband and has a website designed to help children with their self esteem and personal identity. For the Peptalks evening Hailey focused on sharing the story of the development of her career through the 365 Grateful project. Her talk was personal, tear inducing, and raw. There were no insta-filters to hide her emotions and it was endearing how she apologised for sniffing into the microphone mid-teary and moved it away to sort out her sniffles. The crux of Hailey’s message was to be real and live in the now. The more we accept that although people (including Hailey) have social media accounts full of beautiful dream-life imagery there are times when we all struggle. Life is not meant to be social media ‘picture perfect’ every single day because social media is cultivated not raw. Her talk made me think of one of the Buddhist nobel truths that’s been shared with me on my yoga studies. That ‘life is suffering’. Something that the other speakers, Justine and Shannon, confirmed when they shared the issues they have faced in setting up their businesses. Each day is meant to bring new joys, truth, wisdom, learning experiences, hardships and struggles. Which is why Hailey suggests that even on our darkest days we look for something to be grateful for. By making a daily practice of writing down something (or many things) we are grateful for the more we will start to see how abundant, magic, and fulfilling our everyday lives are. Even when things aren’t going to plan. This is something that I truly believe in and something I have practiced in the past and present. One thing that Hailey talked about that resonated with me is that when you are a freelance creative type there are times when you have no work, and there are times when you are inundated. It can be hard to remember to be grateful and see the joy in this lifestyle at these times of extremes and appreciate both the chance to have some down time, and the opportunity for financial fulfilment in the ‘go’ periods. She also noted that by checking out your Instagram or other social media images you can really get a good visual of what it is that you appreciate in life. Be it friends, family, nature, pets, or a good book, those images you share provide hints on what it is in life you are truly grateful for. 

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Achieving your dreams requires equal parts perspiration, determination and inspiration.

For those of you out there with a business (or dreams of a business) Justine Flynn and Shannon Sheedy (of fair trade label The Dharma Door) want to let you know that following your dreams is a journey not a destination. The process of getting from conception to fruition is full of surprises. There are times when things fall serendipitously into place, and there are other times when you are left wondering why you left the safety of regular 9 to 5 society to try to achieve what seems to be the unachievable. Life is a series of learning curves and being in business can up the stakes of your learning experiences as quite often your security rests upon the success of your venture. Justine shared the story of the very first Thankyou Water shipment. After a serious hustle her and her (now) hubby managed to convince a whole-lotta-folks that their idea to make bottled water and donate ALL the profits to provide water to people in developing countries was viable, they were heartbroken to have their first order of stock arrive with unreadable labels and have their distributor tell them that he would never give them a second chance (fortunately he did). Shannon shared the disappointment of having to pull the plug on the fair trade manufacturer, ending the relationship that had been the very reason she started The Dharma Door. As much as she wanted to support them, the product she was getting did not fit the order requirements and she couldn’t provide her customers with the items she had promised them. Business is not easy. It’s not meant to be easy. Business is a learning journey, and as we know from above, learning is part of one of life’s little struggles. We learn from our mistakes and these mistakes help us improve our systems. So if you have a business and things go to shit, don’t let this deter you! Use it as an opportunity for growth. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or get a mentor. In fact Justine of Thankyou (a now very successful Australian business about to go international) said that she utilised mentors from day one to help her and her partner nurture their idea into fruition. Be brave, smart, strong and open to suggestion and don’t be afraid of a little bit of hard work.

Well finally… a little foot note. It was a mission and a half to attend this event (note my sweaty fringe and disheveled appearance in the photo above… I wear it with pride after the series of unfortunate events that nearly prevented me from attending) but I cannot explain how lucky I felt to have been surrounded by a kinship of wonderful and inspiring people. A big thank you to the Peppermint team for putting on this amazing event and I hope that there is another one on it’s way soon. It was so lovely they offered the opportunity to giveaway tickets to the event on the blog and I had a great time meeting the lucky Sustainability in Style reader Tracey who was accompanied by her hubby. For those of you after an inspiring read you can buy ‘Chapter One’ of the Thankyou journey. A quirky book that not only challenges your notions of book reading (it’s printed landscape) it also lets you pay what you want for it, and all proceeds go towards the plans to send Thankyou international.

Lovely photos from the evening by Cathy Schusler and they are available for viewing on the Peppermint Mag Facebook page.

Did you get a chance to join in? Perhaps you have seen one of these lovely ladies speak in the past? Got any reflections on this post? Get vocal in the comments section!

 

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