Who we are depends greatly on our biography. This is a short summary of the time I have spent on this planet – providing some background to where my philosophies and theories are coming from.
I spent my first two years in Jakarta, Indonesia and traveling the world. The adventurous nature of my Dutch mum and Aussie dad seeded in me a passion for travel and I think the lovely Indonesian ladies who looked after me as a baby probably seeded in me a love for people and cultures.
Returning to Sydney my sister was born and I spent the next 15 years in the Northern Beaches attending a small Christian school in the same suburb, working as a kitchen hand in a local retirement village, and enjoyed a somewhat middle class Australian childhood.
At 17 (the youngest in my grade) I followed my Dad’s advice and went straight to the closest university to my house and for the next three years I completed by Bachelor of Business (Distinction!) but again, with majors in Marketing and IT, I really didn’t feel I learned that much.
I finished uni at 20 and after a couple of years working hard and saving up money I bought a backpack and went off to “see the world”.
After a short holiday in Thailand I landed in Japan where I stayed for the year and a half that followed. Here I taught English, “acted” in TV shows, short films & commercials, and did my first on-stage parade – in lingerie!
This was a dream come true. When hairdressers turned my hair yellow, green and purple I shaved it off and was surprised when this opened an opportunity to further my dreams – in Paris!
I modeled in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Majorca, and L.A. And in-between jobs I traveled around London, Barcelona, Hamburg, Munich, to name a few. I met wonderful people and gained a new perspective and appreciation for life.
Feeling homesick for family, mangoes, beaches and everything else that comes with the Australian summer I made a rash decision: I cancelled my plans for Europe, canceled my return trip to Tokyo, and booked a ticket home, turning up on mum’s doorstep on Christmas Eve.
With an apartment in Tokyo and modeling agencies awaiting my return in Europe, I had some decisions to make. My Dad was in my ear with the typical fatherly “time to get a real job” speech and approaching 25 years old I (nearing retirement age for models) I had a quarter-life crisis and thought for a moment he was right. Selling advertising space for fashion magazines sounded like a good job that involved both but at the interviewer it was one little comment the interviewer made that changed my life.
He said, “And you know what the BEST thing about this job is? When you see the digits on your bank statement!!!” He said it with such enthusiasm. My insides curdled and I knew it wasn’t for me. But if not this, then what?
Photography? Fitness instructing? That would be a good life. My Opa (grandfather) at 91 years old had a fall and I offered to move in as I “skilled up” – I assisted some fashion photographers, did part-time modeling in Sydney and became a qualified Pilates instructor.
I also got lost on wikipedia and in library books – teaching myself the things I’d either forgotten from my schooling, or never been taught. I was teaching myself a lot about science, history and religion – revisiting my childhood “faith” in the Christian doctrines, trying to reconcile it with my developing understanding and experience with the peoples and cultures of the world. I recorded my questions, sought answers from as many sources as I could and documented the answers I discovered (posted here: Journey of an Inquisitive Christian).
Realising I was never going to join the corporate world (much to my Dad’s disappointment) in 2008 I took the time to go back to university and skill up more formally. Then I came across “Peace and Conflict Studies” at Sydney University, applied for a MA which I completed over the two years, making use of uni holidays to travel South America, which I am using to write a book about travel, life, love and contemplating the future.
I loved learning so much that I submitted a PhD proposal on Narratology, Panentheism and Peace to start mid-2010. Prior to that I worked on submitting journal articles to get publication “points” and travelled to India to speak at a conference in Mumbai, do a yoga and ayurveda retreat in the hills of Coonoor, check out the Taj Mahal, and hang out in Kathmandu and Pokhara in Nepal.
This sent me on an adventure through Krakow, Poland, to speak at a “What is Life?” conference, and on to North Carolina, United States, to teach Storytelling (in Humanities) and co-teach War and Peace (cross-listed Philosophy and Political Science) at Lenoir Rhyne University in Hickory, for the second half of 2011. Along the way I dedicated a lot of time to editing “My Brazilian… and a kombi named Betty”, for which I am awaiting the right publisher…
On the way home from the United States I spent time visiting friends and hanging out in Vancouver, and teaching Pilates and hanging out at my friend’s bar Encuentros in Granada, Nicaragua.
By the end of this trip I realised my home: Sydney. I moved into a house with the most creative, fun and intelligent people who quickly became some of my best friends and inspirations.
I started part-time work as the Executive Officer of the Sydney Peace Foundation, a small not-for-profit organisation within the University of Sydney who award the annual international Sydney Peace Prize.
I finished my MPhil (a half-size PhD) in March 2014, and finally (on my fifth application) was awarded a scholarship to do a full PhD, beginning mid-2014.
Like anything worthwhile, it’s a looooong journey, and a lot of work. But that’s what makes it great. As long as I’m enjoying the process I will continue this journey my whole life.
Through this little slice of cyberspace somewhere on the world wide web I offer my story as it unfolds. I share my spiritual, mental and physical adventure in quest of understanding peace, justice and my place in the universe — traveling, researching, thinking and creating.
I believe that with an open mind and with the willingness to listen, empathise, share, and grow, we can move toward creating a more peaceful and sustainable planet, for us and the generations to come.
While the “anything is possible” motto is probably the more than overused “you can do it” message in the 21st century, there is something to be said for the power of the mind to create the reality it wants to create.
I have asked The Universe (or “God” if the word’s not too tainted) for the most unlikely things, and more often than not they materialise, sooner than later. They don’t always come in the way I expect, and when the opportunity to achieve that dream arise I might not always seize it. But I do believe that if you make your intentions clear you never know which of your most unlikely dreams just might come true.