What Is Narrative Therapy? | Introducing TMC’s New Counsellor, Bronte!

Hi there! As an ACA registered Counsellor I pride myself on being the best listener you will ever meet, and I’m pretty good at puns to boot! My main focus is the way our life stories are formed by society, by others and especially by ourselves and how to reverse the effects of a negative story told one too many times. I have a strong counselling framework rooted in a combination of Narrative Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but believe the most important part of a therapeutic relationship is trust. As I am accredited by the Australian Counselling Association I constantly undertake training and development to broaden my skills and understanding and adhere to strict guidelines to ensure quality support. Now, onto the fun stuff!

A counsellor’s guide to narrative therapy and “shakin’ off” a negative story just like Taylor Swift

Narrative therapy is a therapeutic approach that takes our lived experiences and stories and uses them to feed new ways of thinking and being. It is a modality that is centred on the way the world around us shapes our own personal views. Think about it, in our day to day lives we get a lot of verbal and visual feedback from those around us. Sometimes we can brush off that snide comment or sideways glance. Other times those small interactions can create a lasting internal story of self-doubt and inadequacy, often feeding into a larger story that we have been telling ourselves for years. This is our internal negative narrative and if left large and in charge it can build until it saps our self-worth.

Even celebrities are not immune to a negative narrative! They, just like us mere mortals, face the feedback of friends, family, society and themselves. And they, just like us, can re-story that negative narrative. A prime example of this is the transformation of Taylor Swift from a girl with a “Bad Reputation” into a woman in charge of her own story and career. So, inspired by the absolute BOP that is T-Swifts song “Shake it off” here is a run down of catching that negative story and reclaiming your own narrative. Let’s put our personal reflection hats on and get down to this.sick.beat.

“ That’s what people say, mmm hmm”

Much like T-Swift – I’m sure many of us have experienced others talking about us and been given societal labels. She goes on too many dates but can’t make them stay, but maybe your story is one of being a failure, being not good enough or just generally sucking as a human. The first step in pulling a Swiftie is knowing when our internal narrative is becoming a problem. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • When something goes wrong what do I tell myself? am I a failure? Is this something I ALWAYS do?
  • When something goes right what do I tell myself? It must be a miracle? About time I did something right? Or is it a case of yay I did it again?
  • Are you a player who is going to play? A Hater who is going to hate?

Did answering these questions make you squirm and feel a bit bummed out? You and me both! But looking at the stories we tell helps us identify if we tell them too much and too often. It helps us decide if we truly agree with these stories or do we want to shake it off and tell a different story.

“And that’s what they don’t see mmm mmm”

On the topic of telling a different story, sometimes when that negative narrative is too loud, alternatives can be hard to see on our own or completely unseen by others. While me may be bit incompetent in one area of our life we might be AHMAZING in another. Taylor Is lightning on her feet and you might be too! This where narrative therapy shines in helping us explore alternate stories, times where there has been an exception to that not good enough story we hear constantly. And when we start seeing more than one story and living life through multiple stories that’s we really start to reclaim our own narrative.

“Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off, I shake it off”


Want to book in with me? I’d love to have you! Click this link to book online for in person or online appointments.

I can’t wait to meet you!



We’re Moving!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Hello everyone! we have some exciting and amazing news! We are moving to Paddington on the 18th November 2019!

For all clients that are planning to see Amy from this day onwards please come to this new location!


Address: Top floor, 189 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington 4064

Opening hours: Currently, opening hours will remain the same, however, keep an eye out as Amy may be increasing to 4 days per week in office.

Parking: There are 3 on-site parking spaces at the rear of the property and plenty of 2hr street parking (dependent on exact location).

Bus Services: There is a bus stop immediately outside the property catering to routes 61, 375 and N385


We apologise for the very short notice, however, this was a very fast-moving process. If you have any concerns or queries please feel free to give us a call on 0451 060 764 or email on hello@themindfulcollective.co

Also, please be aware that we will be gradually decorating and furnishing the premises over the next few months.

We are surrounded by some amazing local businesses, so take a chance to venture out from the clinic and explore the area!

See below for a map of our new location. Click on the map to open up google maps to explore in more detail.

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It’s Brisbane Pride Month 2019!

You may or may not know it, but this month is Pride month! Bec Johnson, who was appointed Brisbane Pride president earlier this year, has announced that Brisbane Pride has partnered up with Queensland Health this year, making this year’s theme focused on Mental health!


She went further, stating that “A lot of events during Pride month are focussed on wellness, Queensland Health’s message is ‘making time for you’”.


Bec being a big advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ+, sistergirl and brotherboy communities, has stressed that festivals such as this one will be an opportunity to help individuals feel more connected and feel a sense of belonging. These groups tend to feel a higher rate of isolation, discrimination and exclusion. Events like these play a pivotal role in creating a safe space to express oneself.


Open Doors Youth Services has also announced that they will be hosting “A Week of Wellness”, holding back to back events for a whole week surrounding wellbeing. These will primarilly be aimed toward LGBTIQ+ young people and families!


“Fair Day” includes the famous Brisbane Pride march and LGBTIQ+ focused stalls and entertainment, as well as a “chill out zone” this year. Proudly brought to you by the Queensland AIDS Council. The ‘chillout zone’ will include free mental health support for eventgoers and discussions on how to strengthen your mental health!


Brisbane Pride started in 1990 as a means to organise social gatherings and events within the LGBTIQ+ community. The first event started as a small march in the streets of Brisbane and ended on Musgrave Rd in South Brisbane. It has never been smooth sailing through the years for the LGBTIQ+ community, for example, the gay panic defence was only abolished in 2017! These events aim to celebrate the diversity we have in our community and to educate others about who we are. They look to bring people together and recognise how far we have come as a community and as a society as a whole.


So a little homework for our readers today! Go out and celebrate the Brisbane pride festival! Whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, bi, trans or any one of the many other fabulous groups under the LGBTIQ+ rainbow. Brisbane Pride month isn’t an exclusive event! It is an inclusive one! Invite your straight friends along! And remember that the theme this year is mental health and wellbeing! A simple “are you okay?” is all you need to start a meaningful and beneficial conversation!


There is so much happening this Pride month that you can’t help but go out and celebrate the diverse community that Brisbane is!


FEATURED EVENT! : from our very own talented Tayla!

Sep-28 CandleLight: Here We Queer X Brisbane Pride:

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Candlelight is a space for LGBTIQ+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy people to gather and share their stories on coming out, accepting themselves, and embracing queerness.

This event prioritises listening, sharing, and understanding. Coming out and embracing our shared experiences is an invaluable part of recognising our own identities, and the agency we have in controlling our stories. Candlelight also invites heterosexual, cisgender folk to join us to listen quietly to these stories with understanding and acceptance. We invite people who have embraced their queerness for years, and those who are still questioning and learning, to speak and be heard in this inclusive safe space. Free entry. Wheelchair accessible.


Some other amazing big events happening this month include:

Sep-06 Pride Connection & Belonging Dinner: This event will be hosted by 2Spirits for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community! A dinner with some great tunes and food provided!


Sep-08 Rainbow Families Waterslide Pride Party: This event is aimed towards the families of LGBTQ+ members, particularly kids who might identify somewhere on the LGBTIQ+ rainbow. The event will help fund new childcare and health service resources!


Sep-08 Same Same Weddings Expo Brisbane: Hosted at the Brisbane Powerhouse, this free wedding expo is aimed for all those LGBTIQ+ couples out there looking to get hitched!


Sep-08 Sister Funk: In the mid-1990s, Sister Funk was a monthly event for women to dance and party the night away! This year at Brisbane Pride the event will happen once again with great line up of female DJs right here in Brisbane!


Sep-14 Rainbow Story Time: Another event hosted by Rainbow Families Queensland! Rainbow Story Time will be held at Brisbane Square Library and will be a reading of some great LGBTIQ+ themed stories on family, community and friendship. This event is great for kids under 5.


Sep-15 Drag Storytime at Brisbane Square Library: Another Story Time hosted by Rainbow Families Queensland! But this time with Drag and sequins!


Sep-19 PRIDE Sessions Ft Alfie Arcuri LIVE: As a part of the ‘Fair Day’ Launch party, Alfie Arcuri, the winner of the Voice 2016, will be performing live and unplugged!


Sep-20 Story Bridge Pride Lights Up: On this evening the story bridge will be lit up with all the colours of the rainbow!


Sep-21 Pride Rally & March: It’s the big one! The pride rally & march! Get your boots on and walk the streets of Brisbane flying the rainbow flag!


Sep-21 Brisbane Pride Fair Day Chillout Zone: Don’t forget to make time for yourself and head to the Chillout Zone and learn how you can strengthen your mental wellbeing!


Sep-21 Pride Fair Day 2019: Pride fair day will have some fantastic LGBTIQ+ focused stalls and entertainment! Proudly sponsored by Queensland Health!


Sep-21 PROUD (Official Brisbane After Party): You have got to have an after-party to any good festival! At this one, pop princess, Samantha Jade will be performing live, releasing her new single!

What can an aspiring nurse, mother and student teach us about Self-Care?

Danielle is an awesome young mum who is about to complete her nursing degree! (yaay!!) She has completed our online Self-Care course twice, which I think is awesome! I was lucky enough to interview her to see how she incorporates mindfulness as a mother, student and soon to be Nurse!


My mindfulness/self-care journey

I’ve always taken a proactive stance with my physical, emotional and mental health, and even more so after becoming a young single mother to a very energetic (& wonderful) son. I’m currently in my final year of my nursing degree, and early on became determined to focus on developing a self-care routine, to be my best self for my son, as well as maintain career longevity as a nurse. I’ve now done The Mindful Collective’s online Self-Care Course twice, and both times have discovered values and needs that I was unaware I had. Now when I feel burnt out, stressed or run down, I am able to better reflect and tailor my self-care to what I need at the time, whether it be physical, emotional, social or spiritual.


How I apply a self-care perspective to fit into my life

Given that I am stretched quite thin between family, study and placement commitments, I feel that I have very little time for self-care activities. However, what I have found useful is slightly altering and applying a shift in focus to everyday activities, rather than introducing new activities, can be really helpful. E.g. if I need to clean my house, I might put on some music and sing along – that’s a really effective destress tool for me. Or, rather than ‘forcing’ myself to do a chore I don’t want to do (e.g. washing the sheets), I might change my focus of thought to ‘by washing my sheets I am caring for myself by making sure I have a lovely clean bed to get into tonight’. It seems overly simplistic, but it works really well!


Which stress-busting tools have I noticed work well for me?

The most effective action I can take when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed with life – if I have the time – is to take a ‘mini holiday’ for the day. I love driving up the coast to Mooloolabah or Maleny, or taking my little boy to the zoo or a theme park. When I have less time, I might just do something simple, like getting out in the sunshine or making something different/special for dinner. I also love yoga and do it quite regularly (just at home), and love working out at the gym when I get the chance!


Who inspires my self-care, and why?

Definitely my son – he’s motivated me to be my best self and for that reason, I’ve decided to always take care of myself so that I’m fully able to take care of him.


How do I express my creative self in my parenting?

I find that being a parent is one of those roles which brings with it ample opportunity for creativity – particularly with toddlers; every day is full of imagination play, storytelling and adventure. Also, sometimes avoiding oncoming meltdowns involves a lot of creative distraction tactics!


How do I stay motivated to care for myself?

I find it particularly easy to notice when I’m running low on emotional energy, going from someone who’s fairly patient to losing my temper easily and snapping over the smallest things. A positive (or negative, depending on how you look at it) of being a single parent, is once my son falls asleep at night I have a fair bit of time on my own to reflect and think (and admittedly overthink) about how things are going; this works well for me as I am able to use the time to determine what my needs are and what I can do to help myself fill them.


Have I seen a therapist, and what have I learned about my self-care?

I’ve been having sessions with Amy since my son was about 6 months old, and through our sessions I’ve been able to challenge myself to increase the diversity of my self-care techniques; I’ve always been heavily reliant on physical self-care (going to the gym, doing yoga or running) but once I became a mother I had much less time to do so, and was struggling as a result. Amy helps me keep focus on the importance of my own needs, which is something that I think mums often need to be reminded of!


My thoughts on values-centred living

Having a better understanding of my own values has been enlightening in how I deal with challenging situations, in particular, conflict. Co-parenting has proven more difficult than I was anticipating, and I often feel that there is pressure on separated parents to ‘fight to win’ – more custody, more child support (or to pay less child support), more control. It has only been recently that I’ve realised one of the major reasons this has been such a distressing time for me, is that my major values involve empathy, kindness and compassion for others, and therefore taking an offensive stance becomes a very unnatural and resultantly stressful endeavour. By understanding what your values are, you can make the choice to stay true to what feels right – in that sense, no matter what the outcome of any challenging situation may be, you are left feeling more secure and happy with the decisions you made.


Thank you, Danielle! Such a fantastic interview! You have really done an amazing job incorporating self-care techniques into your day to day life, and also recognising that your needs are important too!

Evie’s Second Birthday Event

If you would like to come along, head over to our Facebook page and purchase a ticket!



We had such a hilarious time celebrating with you last year, so we are doing it all again for Evie’s 2nd birthday.

Evie has enjoyed a big, exciting year (as you can probs tell from our insta stories).  A standout moment was becoming trained and accredited Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs Australia!!

Hosted by The Mindful Collective, the event looks to fundraise for OneGirl, a charity which aims to educate girls in third world countries, specifically Uganda and Sierre Leone. All ticket sales from Evie’s big day will be donated to OneGirl. There will food, dogs, good vibes and over $3000 worth of raffle prizes!!


9.30am-11.30am, August 4th


Sunset Dog Park, 30 Monoplane St, Ashgrove QLD 4060


Ticket Pricing:

Silver: $5 for 1 raffle tickets and a gift bag
Gold: $10 for 3 raffle tickets, a gift bag
Platinum: $20 for 8 raffle tickets, a gift bag
There will be delicious pupcakes and cupcakes for purchase! We ask for these to be prepurchased so we know how many to order!
Cupcake Price: $5.50
Pupcake Price: $5.50



Don’t forget that we have over $3000 worth of prizes! The tickets will include a certain number of raffle tickets, which you can put towards a prize of your choosing! You can throw it all into a single prize or diversify your risk (a bit of business strategy there 😉). The current amazing prize sponsors, as it stands, includes:

Not only do we have this but everyone will get a gift bag filled with local goodies and vouchers! From awesome businesses like:


If you would like to come along, head over to our Facebook page and purchase a ticket!


We hope to see you there!!




I don’t have a dog but I do love them, is this event for me?

Absolutely!!  Come along to cuddle someone else’s dog and enter the raffle!!


My dog is often scared and unpredictable around other dogs, should I bring them?

In the spirit of safety, this isn’t the event for them.  We would not recommend bringing them along to a big dog park packed with excited humans and puppers.  We would recommend bringing them to seek further training (perhaps even with the team at Therapy Dogs Australia – they do more than just therapy dog training) to help with their anxiety.  It would be great to have them next year!!


Where can I sneak a coffee and bathroom break before/during/after the event?

There are many amazing places close by; however, the closet would be Banneton Bakery on Waterworks Road.


Are there minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Anyone under the age of 16 needs an adult accompanying them as Evie’s party is in a public dog park and we have absolutely no control over the dogs and people who are using the park at the same time.


What are my parking options for getting to and from the event?

Parking and access to the park are available on Monoplane Street and Barnett Road.  Please see the Translink website for current public transport options.


What should I bring into the event?

Your mates, your doggos and a printout or screenshot of your ticket to claim your raffle tickets!


How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Contact Nikita on 0451060764 or hello@themindfulcollective.co



The Mindful Collective and other local businesses involved in Evie’s 2nd Birthday Party do not accept responsibility and cannot be held liable for injuries, illness or other negative outcomes caused during this event.  This public event is being held in a public dog park and the team have absolutely no control over the attendees, their dogs or dogs and people who are using the park at the same time.  Please be very mindful of your children and pups during this event.

How Do Therapists Self-Care? With Amy Sketcher

Amy Sketcher is an awesome child psychologist based not too far away in Coffs Harbour! I was lucky enough to get the chance to pick her brain into what she does for self-care and how she incorporates mindfulness into her everyday life.


We would love to hear about your mindfulness/self-care journey! What helpful changes have you noticed along the way?

Years ago I used to think of self-care as a luxury, and an almost self-absorbed concept of bubble baths, massages, and facials, which at the time I had neither the time to allow, or money to fund. I now know that notion was totally ridiculous. I think as I have grown, read, explored for myself, and walked with others on their journey I have come to a fuller understanding that self-care is just such a broad term for what fills your cup back up again, and it looks different for every single person.  When your cup is empty you not only have nothing for yourself, but you also have nothing left to give to others, so in many ways, self-care is the furthest thing from selfish and a necessity rather than a luxury. 

How do you apply a self-care perspective to fit self-care into your life?

I have to mentally and tangibly schedule in self-care sometimes, I know that doesn’t sound very dreamy but life gets so busy with work, social life, church, and other commitments that if I don’t block out time in the diary for me it just doesn’t happen.  I have my regular routine self-care like exercise, eating well, certain social catch ups that are set, but I then like to carve out time to phone my bestie living in another state, or to be on my own with no plans, just have solo time thinking and doing nothing, or taking a night to do something for me like a face mask and hair mask.  My self-care is broken into the routine self-care, and the spontaneous/ free self-care and both are equally important.

Which stress-busting tools have you noticed work well for you?

For me, I find the best stress-busting is done physically, and socially- combining the two if possible! It might sound cliché but I have ALWAYS hated exercise, in the past, I did it because I knew it was healthy and good for me but I used to dislike every moment. I have tried literally everything from gyms, to team sports, to group classes and it is only recently I have found what works for me so stick at it people! I now do personal training with a really great trainer and friend, combined with yoga weekly. I really notice when I miss my sessions cause I can feel the physical build-up of stress wanting to burst out of me.

How do you express your creative self in your work/parenting?

In the past, I used to think I wasn’t a creative person cause I don’t have the ‘traditional creative’ outlets like painting, music, etc.  I have found however that creativity looks different for every person and it is more about expression then talent or skill.  As a Psychologist, I find my creativity is at it’s highest when I am working with kiddies and trying to find a way to teach a skill or explain a complex concept. I love exploring this and the feeling when you think up something different, or find a new way to do this; whether it is drawing little comics strips to explore social skills, or seeing who can blow the biggest bubble to teach slow breathing.

How do you stay motivated to care for yourself?

I am not sure it is a case of staying motivated or surviving.  Taking care of myself (or self-care) is just a way of being now, and without it, I find it really hard to function well, and get through my weeks.  Obviously, there are times in life where I need to amp it up, or when it takes a backseat but overall it seems to find a balance.  I have gotten pretty good at recognizing when I need to make it a bigger priority and now know myself well enough to listen to that inner voice (or body that is getting sick or tired) and put self-care back in a prime position again.

Have you seen a therapist? If so, what did you learn about your self-care?

YES! I am a therapist and I have seen a therapist before too. I think sometimes there is still a stigma around accessing support. This is heightened when you are in the industry, cause there is the additional factor of ‘you know all this, you should be able to sort yourself out’ but honestly having someone else to talk to, that you can trust, who will give you unbiased discussions without judgment is really just a wonderful thing.  I think that one aspect of self-care I have learnt through therapy is simply that it is ok to take time out for yourself, it is ok to have needs, and it is ok to seek out ways to meet your needs, and it this not a flaw in you but rather it is a basic part of being a human being.

Share your thoughts on values-centred living

Values- centred living is really the key to living a flourishing, and healthy life.  It is important to remember though that values centred does not mean perfect happy life- but rather a knowledge of where your priorities are, and a strengthening of your resilience to tackle the tricky phases we are all thrown time to time.  Knowing what is important to you at your core can really support you to live your life in alignment and give a sense of knowing to the direction you take and goals you develop.


We’d love to hear about your experiences with women coming together for a cause, as a collective.

I am not sure if this fits in this space, but each fortnight I meet with a group of girlfriends for what we call Bridge nope not the old people card game.  It’s just us doing dinner, catching up, chatting about our faith, lives, struggles, achievements and all round just being each other’s cheerleaders.  It became a really important and lovely part of my life when I moved to a new area and was trying to find where I fit in.  Since then it’s also given me a lovely opportunity to welcome others into our group to find a home away from home, in the same way, that I did when I first started going to Bridge.

Amy Sketcher

Thank you, Amy, for that insightful interview! It’s not often that we get a perspective of self-care from a therapists point of view! I love how Amy found a way to make exercise work for her, we all know the importance of exercise but it may just take some time to find something that works for us! Amy is right on the money when she says values centred living does not mean happiness 100% of the time, but rather, learning how to overcome those more difficult stages in life that everyone, even therapists, happen to go through!

If you want to know more about Amy and her awesome practice, head over to her Instagram @seasonalliedhealth and give her a follow!

If you would like to learn some important self-care skills, we will be running another online self-care course in the near future and would love to see you there. Book online via: themindfulcollective.co/online-courses/

Mindfulness with Nicole Joy + #TheCollaborativeEffect

Nicole Joy is an inspirational foodie who passionately shares her story of rediscovering her love of food. Nicole believes in nourishing the body and soul with delicious, wholesome ingredients, and advocates that healthy eating does not mean compromising on flavour. Having grown up in an Italian family, she is also very adamant that there will always be a place for mum’s lasagne and good red wine! It’s about creating healthy habits not restrictions.


What form of meditation do you prefer and why?

Definitely guided meditations for me, and if it’s candle-lit – even better!


What are some changes you’ve noticed in your life since beginning your mindfulness journey and how have these helped you achieve your goals?

When faced with stressful situations (which is often when you run your own business!) I find I can return to a normal, relaxed state a lot quicker. I don’t stay stressed out for very long and can return to a productive and efficient workmode within minutes.


We all need some crazy powerful stress-busting tools and techniques – we would love to hear works for you!

Breathing! All it takes is exhalations that are longer than your inhalations. Dr Libby taught me that one and I have never forgotten it!


We would love to hear of a powerful experience you’ve had of people coming together for a cause -as a collective.

Just recently, I have started the group #TheCollaborateEffect – a place for like minded entrepreneurial women to connect and have the support that can often be missing when working alone. Just seeing the connections women are making through this small group, and the support they give each other give me the warm and fuzzies!


Have you always been into wellness or was there a light-bulb moment that sparked your health journey?

For the longest time, I just wanted to me a ‘skinny’ model and would try the latest fad diet or exercise regime to accomplish that. Of course, results are short-lived when what you are following is not sustainable for the long term and I quite literally crashed and burned. I was introduced to the concept of intuitive eating and mindfulness by a dear friend of mine and it was with her help that my relationship with myself and my body started to take a positive turn.


What is your secret nutrition weapon?



What’s your favourite daily health ritual, and why?

Meditation and walk with my dog Nobby


How do you express your creative self?

I sing! I think one day I might audition for The Voice or something


What’s your favourite way to treat yourself?

Nothing beats beautiful food in a gorgeous setting. My husband and I are foodies and wine-lovers so if there is a new restaurant to see – we are there!


How do you embrace yourself, flaws and all – even in self-critical times?

I picture myself as a little girl, about 5 or 6 years old and think how I might speak to her. That normally makes me re-think those harsh thoughts and negative thought patterns.


How do you manage to stay motivated both in your personal life and work life, even on those mediocre, flat days?

I let myself feel what I need to feel. Sometimes you need to feel a little blah and instead of pushing yourself, it can be better to give yourself more time and a little nurturing. Ignoring your true feelings is the fastest way to burn out!


What is your life vision for the next 5 years?

Continue speaking to teenage girls across the country, have my own cooking show on TV and a big fat published book deal! Would love to be living beachside with my husband and fur baby.


What advice would you love to give beautiful women just beginning their wellness journey?

The journey is YOUR journey and no one else’s. Don’t compare your start to someone else’s finish line. Find what works for you and what makes you feel the best. Note – this may not be the latest fad, or what all the ‘it’ people are following and you need to be ok with that. Not everything works for everyone.


Nicole, thank you so much for taking the time out to share your goodness. You’re a real life mindfulness champion! Checking out #TheCollaborativeEffect is an absolute must (Amy Kate is a very frequent flyer here) if you’re an entrepreneurial-minded soul. We actually have a #TheCollaborativeEffect event coming up shortly, hosted at the Better Life Centre.  Nicole has passed on her Snapchat detes: nicolejoy01. Oh and her two books, ‘Why it’s perfectly acceptable to eat dessert for breakfast’ and ‘Life’s too short for diets’ are available on her website – www.nicolejoyinspire.com – get on it!

Book Review: Capturing mindfulness: A guide to becoming present through photography

The desire to be more present in our lives and feel more sure of oneself is something everyone wants to achieve these days, but how do you go about achieving complete mindfulness?


If you buy into the fads of popular society these days, it would seem that the solution comes at the tip of a colouring in pencil, as many adults unleash the child within them to return to those well-worn colouring in books. “Just five minutes a day is all it takes,” declare many an advertisement in various book retailers around the country.


And it would seem that the technique is working, with illustrators such as Johanna Basford (Magical Jungle, Lost Ocean, Enchanted Forest) and Millie Marcotta (Curious Creatures, Animal Kingdom, Tropical Wonderland) continually topping the best-seller list with their “mindful” creations. Even some of our favourite fiction series are getting in on the act, with numerous Harry Potter-inspired colouring books for adults on the market, along with George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones and Sarah J. Mass’ Throne of Glass series.


While the concept itself may seem new, the idea of taking one’s creative passions and adapting them to mindfulness and meditative practice is not. Matthew Johnstone has been using his artistic talents to discuss mental illness since the publication of his first book, I Have a Black Dog in 2005, which was followed up by other books such as The Alphabet of the Human Heart and Quiet the Mind. Published a few years ago, Capturing Mindfulness: A Guide to Becoming Present Through Photography takes that concept one step further, as Johnstone works to combine both his passion for photography and positive thinking into one, neat little package. While, there is a certain “coffee table” feel to this book (in that in can be read in one sitting), Johnstone goes beyond that, accompanying the positive affirmations that feature throughout with instructions for how readers too can become what he describes as “photo-present”.


To be honest, I was a little dubious when I read that. While the author describes himself as more of a hobbyist photographer, he does have that background in creative arts, as evidenced by his previous published works. How will asking readers to take on a potentially new hobby and strive for the perfect photo allow them to achieve the calm that the mindfulness concept seems to embody? Surely that’s just going to enhance feelings of negativity, stress and anxiety, all things that go against becoming mindful, isn’t it?


Apparently, I was wrong. “Being photo-present is something that you set out to do with absolute intention,” he says. “It’s a time to consciously slow down both mentally and physically and look at your world with a keen curiosity.” “Develop a child’s eye,” declares one page,” (this advice being something that Johnstone takes literally, as he engages school students in the practice regularly) and abandon the rules of taking a good photograph, “It’s not about the outcome; it’s more about the process and practice. Pretend you don’t care, and you won’t,” are just some of the suggestions he makes.


“It’s important to remember that being photo-present is about creating some time for yourself while heightening your awareness… With or without a camera, it’s a wonderful thing to be aware of where you are, what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.” At its heart, that is what the concept of mindfulness is about, and one of the reasons why this book (and the techniques discussed within its pages) works so well. It’s about discovering the little things in life, the things no one else sees, and taking time to appreciate them, and your place within the world in the same way that family and friends have a way of keeping one grounded when life gets chaotic.


While it is ultimately one of the objects of the book, for those who honestly have no desire to pick up a camera, you don’t even have to take the “photo-present” side of Capturing Mindfulness seriously, if that is your choice. I found the idea behind the technique enough, and that just flipping through the book before bed centred me enough to wash away the anxieties and worries of the day. Each page is a work of art designed to capture the mind and allow the reader (for a short period of time, at least) to let go of the weight stopping us from going about our daily lives. With artistic mindfulness becoming ever more popular, Johnstone offers another technique in this book that will not only appeal to those with creative leanings, but also to those just wanting to be reminded to not take life’s little treasures for granted. Take a few minutes to read it and you won’t be disappointed.


Capturing Mindfulness: A Guide to Becoming Present Through Photography is published via Pan MacMillan Australia and is available via their website, the author’s website or in local bookstores. For more information about Matthew Johnstone, follow him on Facebook.


Written By: Jackie Smith is a freelance journalist/editor and proofreader from Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Currently studying a Cert IV in Marketing and Communications, her work has been published with various media outlets (print and online). To keep updated with all of Jackie’s current articles, visit her blog, Facebook page or Twitter.

Helping Your Friend Who is Depressed

– Sarah Fader

I have lived with clinical depression for most of my life. I can remember as early as eight feeling a sick sad feeling. It usually started in my stomach and continued to permeate my entire body all the way into my brain. Having clinical depression is a mental illness; It is a disease. It’s in the DSM-V. It’s a medical condition. It’s also something that I would not wish on anyone, even my worst nemesis. You see, clinical depression is a horrible disgusting monster that has tried to murder me. It has terrified me to the point where I was scared to get out of bed. I didn’t want to shower, get dressed, eat, or live. At times, the monster told me to sleep all day. Other occasions it tortured me by not allowing me to sleep at all.


I’m proud to report that I am still here. I didn’t let this even monster take my life away from me. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t continue to challenge me and make me feel extraordinarily small. Clinical depression has a way of minimizing you. It points this lazar gun at your heart and attempts to shrink you to the smallest size possible. It is reminiscent of the part in Alice in Wonderland where she takes a pill and shrinks so small that she is able to crawl into places that a mouse could fit in.


Alice is taken on a wild ride, much like the terrifying rollercoaster that clinical depression takes its victims on.


I used to see myself as a victim of depression. Now I see myself as a warrior.  I have a shield and a sword and I’m ready to take that bitch down.


I go to war for my life each and every single day. I see a therapist weekly. I take antidepressants. I meditate and engage in breathing exercises. I religiously see my therapist and my psychiatrist. I am fierce about my regimen of self-care and I have to be. I don’t have the luxury of not going to the mental gym.


There are many people in this world who do not comprehend how awful depression is. They truly believe that they you can cheer up. They are sure that by reminding you of the great things in your life that you will somehow miraculously be cured. It all be a distant memory and you’ll be happy again because that’s how life works right?




These are the same individuals who will discourage you from complaining. Complaining is not what you’re doing – you are fighting a disease. They don’t know that though. They will insist that other human beings have it worse than you do. There are people in other countries who are starving.


What makes you so sad? You have it easy.


Here’s the truth.


When someone has ALS, do you ask them to stop complaining about their terminal disease? No. You don’t do that.


When you tell a person who has depression to be silent you are contributing to their illness. So stop doing that. Let your depressed friend speak.


She needs to open up

She wants to tell you her story

She is hurting

She needs you.


Depression is a disease and one of the cures is talk therapy. When you allow your friend to sound off to you, then you are helping her get well. You don’t need to fix it. You are not required to do anything but listen. And that is something you can do. So do it. Be there, and don’t try to do anything. Depression isn’t something that has a toolbox or instruction manual it comes with. In fact, quite the opposite. Depression wants to annihilate anyone who wants to stop it or get it gone.


It’s a sneaky bastard and doesn’t have any consideration for the people it afflicts.


When your friend tells you she is hurting, she wants some help fighting this monster. You can pick up that sword and pitch in. Listen to her, help her strategize, or just be there. Whatever she needs, she will tell you.


Understand that your friend who lives with depression is suffering. She may not know how to stop the pain. But she does love you. She wants you in her life, but she is sick right now. The wound is open and she is showing it to you. Be considerate and kind. She lacks hope at the moment, but that doesn’t mean she is hopeless.


What can you do?






Your friend is a human being and she needs you. So be there.


Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She is an author and blogger, having been featured on Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good day New York.


Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.

Social & Relational Wellness (social media and beyond)

– Amy Kate

It surprises some people to know that wellness isn’t just about physical and mental health. Social and relational wellbeing is also an aspect of ourselves that contributes to our overall health and wellness! 


It also surprises some that social wellness isn’t measured by the amount of friends you have on facebook, or followers on instagram…


Taking time to consider our relationships (and perhaps notice some patterns that exist) is a great place to start when considering your social and relational wellness. It can be easier said than done so here are some ideas, derived from the findings of Umberson, Chen, House, Hopkins & Slaten in 1996 (the study may be older but the ideas are still relevant now)! 


Get active, socially active!

Despite the age-old myth that men and women differ in this regard, social relationships are important for everyone’s wellbeing. Here are some ideas to help you stay socially active:


Mindfully build your friendships. Think about your friendships. Are you happy with them? Would you like more meaningful connections with others or are you happy with the level of connection you currently have? Are there some people you shouldn’t be friends with anymore, friends who have passed their expiry date in your life? Hopefully you have a few people in your life that after you hang out with them, you feel better. Who are they? Spend some more time with them!


Get on your hobby horse! Not literally, unless that’s your thing. I’m talking about joining a club that centres on a hobby you have (or a hobby you want to develop). Perhaps it is a fun dancing troupe, maybe a sports team, a scrapbooking group, a colouring in club, a parenting group, or even a gardening team!


Text someone. We all have these days. It could be once per year for some, and for others it is their daily life. On these days, we aren’t going out to socialise and see friends. We just aren’t feeling up to it. But the need for connection is still there – niggling away in the background. So text someone! It could be your partner, your mum, your brother or your bestie. Call them, email them, Facebook message them, snapchat them, whatever means of communication you have – get on it.


Help someone else

Helping others and being kind-hearted is a wellbeing immune booster. So dose up! These are some kindness ideas you might love:


Volunteering for an organisation that excites you is also a great way to build your social connections with like-minded people. Finding something you’re so crazy passionate about that you will volunteer your time is a powerful thing. Finding others who are in the same boat – well, that’s your tribe! Volunteering doesn’t have to be an ongoing thing, it can be for a once-off project so if you’re a commitment-phobe, this can still work for you!


Give someone a genuine compliment. Sprinkle a bit of love everywhere you go, like a trail of smiles behind you.

Help the old lady cross the street. Okay there isn’t always an old lady or a street involved but you know what I mean. If you see someone who needs a hand, help them out. It may be a co-worker needing a stapler, or someone struggling with a trolley with particularly misaligned wheels in the supermarket. Being polite and smiling is helping others and being super nice – after all, smiles are contagious!


Know what to do when someone bowls over your boundaries.

Where would you fit between doormat and always-angry-lady. Perhaps you’re closer to the doormat side, or closer to the angry-lady, or maybe you’re smack bang in the middle and loving it? As great as being a nice persona is, feeling like a doormat where people use you and then leave is not good for your mental health. Being the angry-lady someone knows is also not good for your mental health (your cortisol levels will be sky high which is not sustainable). Here are some tips to develop conflict resolution skills and assertiveness skills (not aggressiveness skills) to help you build your own wellbeing.


Think first, and then use your words. What is it that you would like the other person to do (or stop doing)? Okay, now think about how you can say that with authentic love. Instead of “Can you not talk to me right now”, perhaps try “I feel like I’m not taking in what you’re saying right now. I had a super stressful day, could I come back to you in 10 minutes because I really want to hear what you’re saying.”


Be willing to compromise. Listen to the other person’s perspective. Sometimes this can be very enlightening. We tend to assume we know why people do certain things, forgetting that they are their own person with their own history and way of thinking. Giving someone time to share their piece is powerful and can be very refreshing for a relationship.


Be assertive (not aggressive). Standing up for your own rights and beliefs, while valuing others’ opinions without letting them rule you is an incredible skill. Being assertive is all about listening, compromising and being respectful. The other trick is to know what you want and what you will/won’t compromise on (which is why you really need to think about it first). You may need to explain ‘why’ to the other person so they are able to also see from your perspective.


Let us know if these tips help you get through stressful times! Tune in to what works for you.

Comment below to let us know which ideas you will be trying and share on social media to help other women learn about their bare minimums!



Umberson, Chen, House, Hopkins and Slaten, (1996). The Effect of Social Relationships on Psychological Well-Being: Are Men and Women Really So Different? American Sociological Review, 61(5), pp. 837-857.