photo 1 (2)From one of the best English novels written Middlemarch by George Elliot, (in my humble opinion), this passage is about Dorothea the main character, a strong, independent, creative and progressive woman who wants to help those around her, and designs cottages for them to live in and is always seeking to relieve the suffering she sees. She is also deeply spiritual.

I adored her character when I first read Middlemarch at university, I couldn’t put it down. I could completely relate to her inner thoughts and desires to help those around her, and to not live the conventional life simply accepting the misery of others as inevitable, and yet this novel was published in 1872. It is one of the most complex and multifaceted plots, rich with dense detail about the many characters that interweave throughout this completely compelling novel. This quote is one of my most loved passages from the novel and is so true:

“Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus
broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great
name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around
her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world
is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so
ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the
number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Attended Narrative Therapy Writing Conference in Adelaide

A week ago I attended the 12th Annual Narrative Therapy Conference Post Conference workshop; the Cross Cultural Inventions: Metaphoric Narrative Practice in Adelaide. I am so grateful I was able to attend. It was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. This enlightening and inspiring workshop was hosted by Ncazelo Ncube-Mlilo and David Denborough who together created The Tree of Life Narrative Therapy methodology for helping children and adults navigate through their horrendous trauma they have suffered.

Ncazelo is an educational psychologist and a narrative therapist with extensive experience working with children and communities affected by HIV in East and Southern Africa. Currently, she works with the Nelson Mandela’s Children Fund, she shared how she and David developed their unique program. (She also required us to sing and dance during the workshop which was hilarious and enlivening!) David has written many books about narrative therapy practice and works as a community practitioner, teacher and writer for Dulwich Centre, he talked about how he used narrative therapy in his work in prisons, fascinating.

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Suzanne Strong, David Denborough and Ncazelo Ncube-Mlilo at the 12th Annual Narrative Therapy Conference, Adelaide, November, 2014


At the workshop I was mesmerised whilst listening to the other attendees. Usually, it is only the presenters out the front that attendees are impressed with but I was awestruck by Ncazelo and David as well as those around me. People like a beautiful Brazilian lady, Ana Luiza who works with children and adults in the favelas near Rio De Janiero, Halimah who works with people dealing with drug abuse, pre-teen pregnancy, suicide, and other forms of extreme social issues in Mount Isa. As well as an African woman who started the Home Of Hope in Johannesburg when she realised children were being forced into prostitution, at first she accepted a few until there were so many, expansion was needed. Listening to this lady, I was entranced by the horror of what she was saying but also, by her simple compassion, she took gave them a safe place. Wow.

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Ana Luiza, Suzanne, Lucia Helena; lovely Brazilian ladies, who work in the slums in Rio De Janeiro.


Listening to the narrative therapy methods described by Ncazelo and David captured my imagination and as I sat there, I felt like my whole being was being expanded in the sense that I could see how I could take these concepts, and expand them into many different directions like branches.

In the conference workshop sat amazing, outstanding individuals from Mexico, China, Canada, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Africa, the USA who are using their imaginations to set on fire ideas that help people in the most horrendous of situations. For the first time in many years, I could see how I could tangibly adapt my current writing therapy techniques to assist more people around the world, including youth and children!

Over the past six years I have been developing my own writing therapy methods and conducting workshops helping people through stress and trauma and this has produced amazing outcomes for people. I have been very blessed to be a part of this. Then, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the Dulwich Community Centre in Adelaide. This centre conducts training in methods of narrative therapy. Some of these methods are slightly different to what I do, but I am so excited to add this to my repertoire!

With my methods I had always wanted to adapt them and make them accessible to help indigenous people in Australia, at risk youth, refugees, communities in Africa, or any parts of the world, children and adults overseas who had suffered trauma. I knew I would find a way and work with others to make this possible, though I didn’t know how it would happen.
Now, I can finally see the way. It’s a way for me to access my imagination and expand on methods developed and tested and worked on by Ncazelo and David Denborough. I can be creative, using this framework to adapt and expand my own techniques outwards, therefore allowing me to help more people with my writing therapy techniques. I was exhilarated.
David said during the conference workshop the Tree of Life method is a framework and is meant to be used to invent and create our own adaptations.

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Beautiful conference setting, serene and captivating.
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Amazing Halimah and me, enjoying lunch.

I was so happy to get to know another participant, Halimah, who is from Zimbabwe but lives and works and is Australian now, she said “when I came here, I thought wow, I’ve found my tribe!” and as we were talking I was explaining to her how I was feeling and she said; “You’ve also found your tribe.” And I thought yes. That is very true.

Freedom doesn’t come with achieving our dreams, or receiving acclamation for our talents, (though this can be amazing), freedom comes in giving your life for others, freedom comes in “losing your life” according to what the world thinks. These people were dedicated to helping others in the most dire and dank areas of need in the world and yet these people were some of the most joyous people I have met. That is why I know if you give your life for others, though you may not have impressive cars, houses, or clothes you will possess something infinitely more valuable, inner peace and fulfilment. Inner freedom and a feeling that your life is contributing to the life of others, the privilege of helping others achieve freedom and empowerment in their lives. This is something that cannot be attained or bought.

Participant Response to Writing Therapy

“I had never done any form of therapy before and I was not very good at writing, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was interested in what writing therapy was and if it provided positive outcomes. I had no real idea of what it was going to be like, although it exceeded what I knew of therapy and was a good way to get out what I was feeling. I enjoyed the questions of growing up and making you think what parts of your life could possibly trigger other parts, it was all there in front of you on paper.

It made me aware of my sub conscious thoughts and I realised why I was feeling this way. I felt really released, relaxed and grounded after the therapy. I would highly recommend Write for Life to anyone. It’s a less confronting form of therapy that allows people to see their subconscious thoughts and issues on paper, right before their eyes and to be free from them.”

Charles Rolls, Y2K

Writing Therapy and Forgiveness -Produces Happiness

Check this video out, this perfectly demonstrates how writing down trauma and stresses in our lives, whether this be a difficult relationship or something someone has done to us, or whether it is something we have done, writing this down, provides us with release and freedom. This shows the direct link between writing stresses down, forgiveness and increased happiness following this process. Check it out. 🙂

Word of the Day…

When I think of humility, it is not low self-esteem, it is however, a solid understanding of oneself and a love for oneself. It is an honest acknowledgment that all people have value, and that we should not raise ourselves above each other, as in the quoted definition, narcissists do. Mandela is described as “Humble,” his humility in my mind, is the correct one. A sense of yourself but also an acknowledgment that the world does not revolve around one individual and we must treat others with respect and being full of one’s own importance sits in direct opposition to this.

True leaders, and in my opinion beautiful people do not have to boast about themselves, and they do not boast about themselves or their achievements, which in essence makes others feel inadequate, they are at peace with who they are and can love with an open heart, from a humble perspective. Of course Jesus Christ, and Martin Luther King Jnr (he also writes about this a lot, especially in “Strength to Love”), along with many other brilliant and transcendent people are examples of this.

I think of humility as a more personal attribute rather than the traditional view which was to acknowledge a hierarchy. Humility to me, is accepting our own faults, without blaming others for these and not seeking to deny them, that in essence is what a narcissist does, he/she does not acknowledge they have faults, and therefore they are extremely dishonest and proud, the opposite of humility.

Humility is a rare and exquisite quality, that is sadly lacking in our narcissistic, self-centred world. If we all, actually chose to think of other people’s needs and desires as important, the world would be a much better place. (Though I am not talking about putting up with incorrect behaviour, or not having boundaries, these are essential for healthy relating, and creating better people.)


Humility (adjectival form: humble) is variously seen as the act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others, or conversely, having a clear perspective, and therefore respect, for one’s place in context. In a religious context this can mean a recognition of self in relation to a deity or deities, acceptance of one’s defects, and submission to divine grace or as a member of an organized, hierarchical religion. Absent a religious context humility can still take on a moral and/or ethical dimension.

Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, often in contrast to narcissism, hubris and other forms of pride.

These People Slept On The Streets For Fun

This was what I participated in recently. The St Vinnies Community Sleepout, for me it was profound, moving and fun. Thanks to all my friends I could share it with. Special mention to the Global Happiness Project, that I am part of. 🙂


“He spoke quietly not looking into the crowd, but so brave to tell us his experiences and story”

The night began as any other Sunshine Coast June winter night: frost, dew and complaints about the severe drop in temperature. This night however, was different. We (The Global Happiness Project) were huddled together, laughing, smiling and playing UNO, whilst sleeping on cardboard boxes at Maroochydore beach. Our team of 14 volunteers tackled the overnight challenge known as “The 2014 Vinnie’s Community Sleepout.”

The Global Happiness Project Crew The Global Happiness Project Crew

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