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photo-1423483641154-5411ec9c0ddfAs I lay on a massage table in a village in Eastern Bali, you could never imagine the thoughts that roamed my mind. Everything I could possibly need or want was in arms distance. A little boy, just shy of three and a baby girl sleeping soundly. A husband happy surfing and chatting with locals and my Mum on standby to look after our babies, so I could walk, write, swim or just be.

Despite all this my mind, roamed to dear and dark places.

I remember lying there, overwhelmed with gratitude, but at the same time plagued with memories. I kept on trying to shake my mind out of it. ‘Come on Amanda, think on things that are pure, honourable, life-giving. Think on scripture, think on the amazing miracles that have come to your world over the last three years, choose to rise above.’

The really crazy thing is though, it was like every massage I had over the few weeks we were in Indonesia, bought out memories that I thought were way in the past. It was like my muscles had memories of those emotions, the feelings of betrayal, the lostness of rediscovering who I was. My body held memories of rejection and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to forgive, it was like I had to let that deeper layer of the grief come to the surface.

There is a scripture I love and hate in the same breath…

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Every part of this scripture confronts my desperation in the midst of a trial or difficult season.

He is good to us.

Even when we don’t feel or see it.

He is good.

Rejection is a difficult emotion to hang a hat on. Shame, Forgiveness, Self pity and Loneliness all rumble together and try to come out of the other side still clean.

Whether someone, or a group of people have rejected us, when they have said we are not good enough, we can no longer be a part of, when we are ignored, shut down, discounted and dismissed. It is a cut that goes deeper than any wound and one that causes a scar on our soul.

The only way I have been able to face these seasons of rejection in my life, is to reform where I get my sense of self worth from. It causes me to go back to my foundations and realign my purpose and worth.

Have you ever given everything you have and felt rejected?

Have you ever creatively put yourself out on the line and the risk really failed to pull off?

The best thing you can do is allow those emotions and feelings to come forward. Find ways to process, talk it through with someone trusted, write, have a massage, walk the beach and scream into the ocean.

Find ways to face that rejection front on and realign your purpose once again.

Write reminders of the beautiful opportunities in your today and find a way to re- capture who you are.

Acknowledge the part to play you had in the story, but also allow the bitterness of the moment to be sweetened by the truth of who you really are.

Rejection is the most awful of emotions.

But don’t let it steal your future friend.

Hold your hands out dirty and full of promise, ask forgiveness and rediscover the jewels longing to be discovered in this vulnerable place.



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my locals



The more I settle into my beachside little village, the more I fall in love with its beauty, personalities and the perfection of the simple life it offers. When I bought a unit in a small group 1970’s Hawaiian beach flats, I never imagined that five short years later that I would call it home with my family of four.

I thought it would be a great holiday destination, when I came to visit periodically through the year. As I walk the beaches and stand in line at the shopping centre, memories of growing up, flood my consciousness nearly everyday.

I remember the lolly shop that was on the corner as I walk the beach. I walk past the little town hall that was the location of my amateur theatre company productions and remember how huge I thought it was and now it seems so tiny, so backward. I remember the forts and teepees we would build on the beach and the sand fights that would go on for days between my cousins and I.

Sometimes I feel like ‘Mrs Mangles’, as I walk the streets and notice the little things that make a community thrive. I love my locals. Our cafe, the bakery, the library, the parks, the Thai restaurant, the butcher, our little deli. My son does dancing at the yacht club every tuesday morning and we walk slowly watching the wildlife inhabit their island home.

My favourite local cafe called the pond barista, which has a completely gluten free menu has a little precious part of my heart. The owners are brilliant and the colour and life it brings to our local area is sublime.

These are the things that have made this ordinary tuesday, one that is full of life for this little Mumma. An interview on the radio this morning, walking down the beach to dance class with my toddler, bumping into a great friend and her dog at the coffee shop, filled with great conversation and even greater coffee.

Memories that make the ordinary beautiful.

A life lived intentionally supporting and encouraging our local businesses to thrive.

These now are the days that I will be making memories in my seaside town, that one day my babies will think back fondly upon.



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A creativity crisis!

Header Jeff and Julie

Last year a quiet little paper was published in a US based research journal, which traced the IQ and creative thinking scores of US children over fifteen years.

The researcher found that while IQ had increased (IQ as measured by intelligence tests), the alarming finding was that creative thinking was declining(Kim, 2011). He suggested that the drop in creative thinking followed the introduction of NAPLAN style standardised testing in the US that valued learnt, memory based literacy and numeracy outcomes.

What’s the problem you might ask?

IQ is the big indicator of success and potential, leading to entry into positions in medicine, law – a life of financial security etc etc etc. while creative thinking leads to… being creative –good for a nice hobby on the side, but shouldn’t be valued in serious educational and academic circles. As one of the participants (studying medicine) in Julie’s doctoral study said, “why would you want to do anything creative, isn’t it a waste of time?”.

Along with the eminent, visionary, articulate Ken Robinson we believe that creative thinking is critical for our changing postmodern world.

Creative thinking involves a couple of elements; the first is lateral and innovative thinking and includes the ability to explore beyond the logical and simple solution. Julie had a client whose prestigious role in a major multinational computer company required high powered logical thought however, this way of thinking and problem solving prevented her from thinking about her problem from different perspectives.

Solving her relational issues required a more complex, lateral, less logical, albeit “messier” way of thinking. She was invited to brainstorm, think more imaginatively and avoid “premature closure”. Resistance to premature closure describes intellectual curiosity and openmindedness.

The best way to demonstrate lack of premature closure is to do it with pictures.

image one

Figure 1: Create an imaginative picture from the image above.


image 2Figure 2: “Zig Zag” Person A

image 3

Figure 3: “Gummy bear on skis with cloud” Person B

Adapted from real participant response to Abbreviated Torrance Test of Creative Thinking for Adults

The type of thinking shown in image three represents an approach to solving problems that demonstrates the ability to perceive differently, imaginatively, humorously and originally when faced with the same “problem” of completing the picture – interestingly the same participant (med student) in Julie’s study commented that “this was the hardest thing I have had to do” ie conceive an original idea.

So creative thinkers are great innovators and creative problem solvers – in a major meta-analysis into this area creative thinkers are able to define problems differently and uniquely as well as quickly retrieve information –using fluid or divergent thinking -from a vast memory bank of previous impressions, memories, experiences in order to creatively solve problems. (Ma, 2009)

So our question is, “who do you want to help you solve your complex problems, person A or B and who do we want to lead us in our highly complex world?

Society needs people skilled in logical/ linear (convergent) thinking as well as creative/ fluid (divergent) thinking but if our education system and society is only valuing one type of thinking over the other – then it will reduce our ability to solve the complex rapid problems facing our individual lives and society.

In order to stir up our creative thinking – lets embrace curiosity, imagination and resist premature closure – avoid going for the quick fix, simple, sound bite solution and sit with and listen to the more complex and maybe even messier responses to problems…

Of course those who are great at thinking creatively can get caught up in overdriven (maybe even catastrophic) thinking but that’s for another blog.

Thanks for reading with us

Jeff and Julie Crabtree

KIM, K. H. 2011. The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Creativity Research Journal, 23, 285-295.
MA, H.-H. 2009. The effect size of variables associated With creativity: a meta-analysis. Creativity Research Journal, 21, 30-42.


ContentImage-793-4980-IMG_7235Jeff and Julie Crabtree are the authors of Living with a Creative Mind, a survival guide for creative people and those who live and work with them. Their work is to help creative people be more productive without sacrificing their health, relationships and longevity.

They are also the directors of The Zebra Collective an online mentoring service that is designed for how creative people think and work. They produce short weekly bursts of highly digestible creative, psychological and management insight in visual form. They are also collecting and curating some of the most interesting behind the scenes stories from expert creative professionals worldwide.


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Living with a creative mind

Header Jeff and Julie

Why is creativity often linked to “madness” and why do creative people cause so much frustration to everyone around them?

Why do they keep going to extremes? Why can’t they just be like normal people?

Highly creative people have unique vulnerabilities and sensitivities – ways of thinking and temperament that need to be understood and managed – for them to not only stay creative and productive but also stay healthy.

“When I was a kid, I felt like I was this skin-covered antenna, and I could never get this antenna down. I was so aware of everything around me. I would watch people looking for signs of danger all the time. It was so acute that I really was able to jump into other people’s skins. From this vulnerability, came opportunity. When I was 13, I parlayed that passion into a means of escape.”??- Ryan Reynolds (US Actor)

The creative mind is wired with the ability to feel with great depth and passion.  Creative people often experience the world in a way we call skinless – as if they lack the protective shield and instinctive filtering that we normally use to cope with the barrage of sensory information that comes at us all.  Without good strategies for managing this hypersensitivity, instead of creativity – the result can be a plunge into the emotional depths.

“It’s as if neither of us, or especially myself, had any skin…I am afraid. I am not solid, but hollow. I feel behind my eyes a numb, paralyzed cavern, a pit of hell… a mimicking nothingness.”Sylvia Plath (US Poet)

The creative mind is also wired for rapid, fluid (divergent) thinking – making quick associations but also able to control the flight of ideas in a way that turns out to be amazing. When James Lipton (Inside The Actor’s Studio) interviewed actor Robyn Williams, his (William’s) rapid thinking – drawing on a well of memories – was able to improvise comedy in the moment.

JL: “Are you thinking faster than the rest of us? What the hell is going on?”

RW: … It’s all part of it, because I think the human mind is adapting and evolving; but I am trying not to speak all that fast cause eventually … you … have … to … catch … up. But the brain is not really working all that well because you know that you – cough, you breathe, you come back, she’s about to pass out (indicating a woman in the audience laughing uncontrollably) but the ideal is to create something different, something that moves with the times, new motion – crouching dragon – hidden CD (mimicking tai chi moves) move out away from the moment, take microwave – open the door…Along with skinlessness and rapid fluid thinking, creative people often have natural highs and lows, of mood and energy.

“It’s really important when it starts to come, it’s like you are in a trance and a frenzy all the time.” Rickie Lee Jones

Rather than trying to live a normal or balanced life creative people can learn to embrace the highs and lows – and begin to see their lives as being like the tides. The challenge for the creative is to learn how  to navigate the tides not struggle against them or get stuck.

“I dwell deeply in my lows. Not till recently have I tried to push through my depressing states I get myself in -­? but I feel like I am still a bit creative in my depressing lows. It’s more of a dry lonely state of creativity, but it’s definitely a dark time.”??- Case Study from Living with A Creative Mind (from an interview with the authors)

5 Principles For Living With A Creative Mind

1. Affirmation; Creative people need a lot of encouragement. As confident as they may seem, they are also full of doubt. Affirmation helps to buffer the skinlessness of the creative person. It needs to be at the forefront but it also needs to be real. No fake compliments please.

2. Permission To Fail; Unless you are willing to fail you will never be creative. Much of the creative process involves exploration, discovery and a willingness to “go where no one has gone before” – so although failure does not equal creativity – failure and learning from failure is a part of navigating the tidal creative life.

3. Fear Kills Creativity; Creating an environment of anxiety does not promote creativity. Fear automatically inhibits the fluid nature of creative thinking – to make us focus on a threat. While you might think fear is a great motivator, it only motivates certain kinds of responses. Originality is not one of them.

4. Room to Explore; Creative people need room to explore. An essential part of the creative (fluid) thinking process involves the search for new ways of seeing things, or new connections between old things. This often comes from what seems like ‘random’ activity like going out to new places, and seeking out new experiences. Don’t discourage curiosity.

5. They Need To Belong; Creative people need a community of like-minded types because they can often feel like they don’t belong. Creative people tend to be quite tribal…musicians like to work with other musicians, dancers with other dancers and so on. Find a tribe.

I am not like other people

other people are like other people.

they are all alike;




they are both gleeful and content

and I am burning in hell.
my heart is a thousand years old.

I am not like other people.
American poet Charles Bukowski.


ContentImage-793-4980-IMG_7235Jeff and Julie Crabtree are the authors of Living with a Creative Mind, a survival guide for creative people and those who live and work with them. Their work is to help creative people be more productive without sacrificing their health, relationships and longevity.

They are also the directors of The Zebra Collective an online mentoring service that is designed for how creative people think and work. They produce short weekly bursts of highly digestible creative, psychological and management insight in visual form. They are also collecting and curating some of the most interesting behind the scenes stories from expert creative professionals worldwide.