“Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence”- Osho


You create when the ego is not on your shoulder

Filtering every word into its cookie cutter form,

Giving a shade and shape to every idea.

Evaluating the accuracy, the validity, the potency of your unique consciousness.

You create in that rare brief moment,

When you are enough,

And you are alive.


My ego is…….

A multi coloured parrot that sits on my shoulder.

Sometimes I squint,

And it disappears.

And then,

I can write.


I love this TED talk on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert:



‘Hippies in the City’ Health Wellbeing & Yoga retreat in Bali


One of my goals for 2014 was to try new things, as many crazy, quirky, different things as possible. So when I found out about the Hippies in the City retreat run by certified health and wellness coach Rita Balshaw and Yoga teacher Jade Gluckman during my school holidays of all times, I knew that I had to attend. In fact, I booked my ticket without telling a single soul, or checking my diary or finances. A little reckless, I know but the spontaneity felt oh so exhilarating and liberating. Sometimes things come your way and you have a gut feeling that you must get involved.

Rita Balshaw is the author of ‘Hippies in the City: A guide to natural urban living’ and is a bit of a ‘spiritual and wellness gangster’ if I can call her that. She exudes an innate calm and tranquil energy that is palpable and contagious from the moment you meet her; she encourages you to stop, slow down and live in the moment with genuine intention.


Jade Gluckman is an intuitive healer and yoga teacher extraordinaire who lives and breathes what she preaches. Her yoga classes are not only about perfecting various asanas (poses) but about how to take the practice ‘off the mat’.  “This is the real practice” she says; it is all about how to bring a sense of mindfulness and peace to every moment, no matter what form it takes.

The retreat was held in Bali’s yoga capital, Ubud at the Ubud Aura Hotel. The boutique hotel proved to be perfect for our purposes- inexpensive yet offering all that you could want from a retreat centre- yoga hall on the top floor, spa and pool facilities. An added bonus was the location; literally metres away from the world famous Yoga Barn offering a variety of different yoga classes on the hour. Something that I didn’t expect was that it turned out to be a little food safari also, as we were able to sample the healthy cafe scene of Ubud.

A day on retreat:

7am: Wake up to Yoga! Jade would guide us through a gentle yet energising yoga sequence to awaken the body from rest.

9am: Breakfast together beside the pool. Rita would often talk to us about nutritious Balinese foods e.g Noni fruit, dragon fruit and Mangosteen. Each day, Rita would make one of her recipes  from her book ‘Hippies in the City’ such as a probiotic granola and wheat free, guilt free muffins.

10am: Nutritional meetings and workshops including stress management workshop.

12pm: Lunch excursions!  (My favourite part) We visited so many different organic vegetarian restaurants and juiceries.

Some of the gastronomical eateries visited included: Sari Organik, Clear Cafe , Kafe, Alchemy, Bali Buda, and Yellow Flower cafe

5.30pm: Yoga Nidra: yoga and meditation for relaxation

7.3opm: Dinner: Another opportunity to sample more of Ubud’s culinary cuisine.

9pm: Snooze time (Being such a night owl, this was a little hard for me; I would often stay up late and write (eek!)


rice paddy 2The rice paddyfields of Ubud, only a short walk away from the hotel.

rice paddies


hallThe yoga hall where we practised every morning.


y barn 2



yopa barnVinyasa Flow class at the Yoga Barn

My highlights:

  • Yoga and meditation
  • African dance class led by Malaika Cheze Darville
  • Kirtan at the Yoga Barn where we danced and sang in Sanskrit
  • Two group discussion sessions that encouraged us  to ‘open up’ and be vulnerable.  I realised that some people go through their entire life without being vulnerable, or making the conscious or sub-conscious decision to avoid vulnerability and exposure at all costs. Discussions such at the ones we had on retreat reminded me of the importance of laying ourselves bare. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable but it is also what allows us to grow and connect with others. We see ourselves in others’ experiences and problems, and we are reminded that we are not alone in our struggles.
  • Meeting so many wonderful people who were on their own wellness journeys. One such beautiful soul was Katy Tsai, a music teacher and musician from Sydney. Katy was such a ray of sunshine and her love of life and passion for music was evident from the moment I met her. Katy is interested in the healing power of music and how it can influence our overall wellbeing. She produces music for yoga, meditation and healing and creates wellness events that explore the fusion of music and wellness. Check out her website, Sound Oasis here.
  • The food safari!  Some of my favourite dishes included the dragon bowl  and Chai iced dream from Clear Cafe (cashew milk, nutmeg and honey), Nasi Campur with marinated tempeh from Bali Buda, Gado Gado, raw burritos with sunflower mock beans and cashew cream, raw cheesecake,  and Jamu juice (Balinese drink of tumeric, cayenne pepper and honey)

budaNasi Campur from Bali Buda

sariorganikfoodNasi Campur from Sari Organik ( can you tell I like my rice?!)


dragonbowlDragon bowl from Clear Cafe


Raw burrito with daikon and cashew nut sour cream

Mini insights:

  • I became more aware of my ‘reactiveness’: what makes me react and what triggers me emotionally on a daily basis. I had to come back to something that I knew on a cognitive level but was forced to embrace on an emotional and practical level: that in each moment we have a choice as to how to react and love should dictate the decision as opposed to fear.
  • I realised how much I value solitude. I need to honour and embrace the little introvert inside of me and allow myself alone time, be it to write and create or simply to reflect.
  • During the first yoga session, Jade asked the question,’ What does it mean to be truthful?’ I found this particularly interesting as I had been meaning to write a blog post on authenticity and intuitive living. For me, to be truthful means to be authentic, to surrender to the reality of your situation and to accept yourself and those around you as they really are. It means to live with honest and genuine intention and to allow this to dictate how you interact with others. I have found this to be particularly liberating. If you are genuine, there is no need to be someone else, and the expectations fall by the wayside. You are free to be yourself in the moment. I have also found truthfulness to be a motivational force. Whenever I feel obligated to do something and I know my heart isn’t in it, I often find myself being disingenuous. If I clarify my purpose ahead of time and am honest about it, I find that I am more genuinely motivated to complete the task.

An antidote to the ‘TO DO’ list:

On retreat, I also assigned myself a ‘To Be’ list that focused on being rather than doing: Mine varied from day to day but a typical ‘To Be’ list looked like this:

‘To Be’ list:

  • Still
  • Patient
  • Calm
  • Compassionate
  • Grateful  (This one was far too easy)

A little poem born of love, light and stillness:

Cocooned in this soft chair, I listen to the sound that water makes when it is unrestrained.

The screech of exotic birds infiltrates the moment as two lovers frolic in the pool in front of me.

Ripples of water dappled in sunlight merge and flow.

Devotees of stillness lay on sun beds in solemn introspection.

I am grateful for this solitude and so content in this moment.

Overall, it was such a heartwarming trip and I hope Rita and Jade present a similar offering in the future. I left Bali with a sense of contentment in my heart and a few words on my lips:  thank you, thank you thank you.

light Early morning sunlight illuminating the reading room.


jaderitaWith Rita and Jade on the last day



feet yin yang





Creative musings from the Perth Writers’ Festival


In February, I attended the Perth Writers’ Festival and completed two mini creative writing workshops. The workshops required us to write in class (stressful at times!) and gave us various strategies to enhance our creative writing. It was so inspiring to be amongst so many talented creatives some of whom were already published authors. I was definitely a newbie at this but I gave it my best shot. Here are some of the pieces I wrote.

In this task, we were asked to write about a character who has just found out about the death of a loved one:

For the first time in her life, time seemed to slow down. She didn’t hear the chirping of the birds outside her window, nor the distant roar of an engine on the highway; only the incessant ticking of the grandfather clock punctuated this moment. Her breath came in shallow sharp bursts as she wondered how she would place one foot in front of the other and continue to move and breathe as she had done before. The sudden ache that began in the pit of her stomach slowly grew in strength as the abandoned tea cup rattled against the saucer on the counter.

For this next piece we were give only given an image to work with.  I was given the following information: setting: A park bench in the middle of the Perth Writers’ Festival crowd. Character: A man sitting on a park bench surrounded by bags. Conflict/problem: He is single, lonely, and desperate to find someone. He bumps into his female neighbour who is also at the festival.

There was no denying it. She could recognise that brand of desperation anywhere. His sullen expression permeated through the sea of faces from where he sat, surrounded by a barrier of bags. She edged sideways in an attempt to change her course of direction and kept her gaze low.


She stubbed her toe on the edge of the tropical grove and her pained expression revealed more than she intended.

For this next task we were asked to write about a childhood image that came to mind:

The playground was a battlefield of successes and failures. A sandy minefield that witnessed the consolidation of friendships and the ruination of others. It facilitated the improvisation of adult roles and imagined characters.  In between the monkey bars and the seesaw solemn pacts and promises and pledges were made, sealed with spit, and pinkie promises. It forged identities, this desert landscape. It made us who we are.

We were then asked to ‘destroy’ that place! :

When the last tree burnt down, there was only one lone kookaburra left to witness it. The charred bark crackled and writhed in the stifling heat and the once jovial bird now sat crippled in fear unable to move, let alone fly away. The phantom cries of children echoed throughout the desert landscape as the sand danced in unison with the wind and the sparks.

Photo source

A Briefcase of Memories

suitcaseImage copyright: by Jenifer Altman, Polaroid Love Notes

A briefcase of memories


One solitary over-ripe apple baked in the heat and stifled by its own banality.

The odours of books, leather and fruit.

A vapid, pervasive, emptiness.

A purposeful facade that deceives keen onlookers

But can’t conceal the profound ache

that ebbs and flows throughout each working day.

Compartments of lack; a lament for unfulfilled potential

You were indefatigable in your daily toil, your need to serve

and you deserved a world that reciprocated.

This prose piece was inspired by my father’s brown leather briefcase that I so keenly remember. He worked in a job that he was over-qualified for and under-appreciated in and despite leaving an imprint on many people, he never got the chance to fulfill his potential in a career of his choice. I remember opening the suitcase to reveal what he took for lunch each day,  (a few pieces of fruit) and thinking about how he must have felt going to work each day, feeling a sense of emptiness, worrying about how to pay the petrol on the way home and knowing that he wasn’t fulfilling his full potential. The piece reflects a quintessential struggle many migrants experience: having to compromise their own desires in a new country in order to provide for their family.


duskLight filters through the translucent haze.

Shadows flit and the feeble sunbeams lilt and flicker. Meandering through the dream, mind adrift and thoughts untethered.

The urban dance holding its breath as if caught unawares. Standing still ever so briefly to provide: wisdom in pockets of peace that are bite-size.

And with each exhale the gratitude swells in my heart

Image copyright- by Jenna Altman From Polaroid Love Notes

Mini musings


Sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes the days are long and hard and dreary.

But then I look outside my window and realise the world is full of infinite potential.

From the purposeful walk of a suited man,

to the smile of a child, and the warm embrace of a friendly reunion.

I am reminded that life, despite its imperfections, carries on its constant renewal.

Every moment is an opportune chance brimming with possibility.

Here’s to the next one.

photo copy

This Much I Know…..


I have been reading a gem of a book lately, Susannah Conway’s ‘This I Know, Notes on Unraveling the Heart.’  British freelance writer, Susannah Conway’s memoir focuses on her process of healing after her husband tragically passed away. It is written in a pensive, poignant prose that is so astute and wise and littered with her signature polaroid images.  I was so excited when I finally received it in the post and I knew, even before cracking open the first few pages that it would resonate with me like no other spiritual book. It really is such a beautiful gift. Thank you Susannah! (I follow Susannah on instagram and let her know, she kindly replied!!!)

The memoir has inspired the following post, about what I have learned so far, and the things that I know for sure about unraveling the heart and getting closer to living a more authentic life.

This Much I Know…..

1. Everything you do must come from a place of truth, honesty and love.  Whenever you do things from the heart, you NEVER go wrong.

2. Don’t allow your decisions to be dictated by your ego. When they come from a space of love, they are always justified.

3. Never compromise on your values. Not for anyone, be that a lover or a friend, or in anything that you do.

4. Be grateful. Every damn day. Express it with abandon.

5. Be BOLD and unapologetic. Never apologise for who you are and what you stand for. Never be afraid to express who you really are.

6. Don’t fight the present moment. Don’t wish your life away; you’re not going to get this moment again. I love this quote by Eckhart Tolle. I think it has made such a difference to the way in which I think about the present moment.

Accept- then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life. – Eckhart Tolle.

7. Be the wo(man) in the arena.

Brene Brown, the famous TED talker, and spiritual guru on vulnerability mentions this quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech ‘Citizenship in a Republic’  in her book ‘Daring Greatly.’

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

There have been countess times when I have muttered to myself ‘Stop being a chicken, GET IN THE ARENA!!” I love this quote so much. Be vulnerable and face the music.

8. This too shall pass.  If I have learnt anything, it is that life is a constant cycle of renewal. The slate of life is always wiped clean at the end of the day. No matter what happens, the waves will continue to kiss the shore, the sun will continue to struggle to emerge from the clouds to signal a new day. You will be forced to heal old wounds, to forgive and to accept what you cannot change.





All photos taken from Susannah Conway’s ‘This I Know, Notes on Unraveling the Heart.’