~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

Creating wearable Empowerment Art…

Posted by carolom on November 24, 2015

  Just Bead Happy is an
ART of Change  program for women who have experienced violence.

We hand roll  beads  from air drying clay to create an empowerment necklace.
Meeting over 2 or 3 sessions at the Shelter,   participants shape their beads based on a Vision they hold for the future or as an expression of  strength and developing a clear, confident  sense of Self and identity etc.

When  the personal vision  beads are dry we paint them and give them life, colour and vibrancy. Das clay is  quick drying and a very hardy medium that is not heavy once it has dried.
The rolling of the clay and shaping the beads is a very relaxing process a form of open eyed meditation that  is very conducive for learning and relaxation.

The bead happy project engages two significant aspects – process and completion, which are often difficult to attain for people who are living with post traumatic stress and the effects of violence, losing ones home and coping with injuries and grief.

The talking circle format is a very relaxed,
creative  environment .

This informal setting  is often more culturally relevant for many of the participants from CALD backgrounds. (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse).

This kind of environment does not have a counsellor -client dynamic. It is an empowering model that facilitates conversation  beyond pain and issues to the place of connecting with personal power, natural talent and new possibilities.

We celebrate personal strength and explore the potential we have to move beyond limitations and the impact of domestic violence.

Thank you to the Women whose work
is in the image below.

Although they remain anonymous in the photos, the very personal stories and amazing creativity that is expressed through the clay and the beading process  affirms to me how privileged I am to provide art based life coaching at the grass roots, community level where so many amazing women have extraordinary stories to share.


Carol Omer is a certified Life Coach and Artist.
She specialises in creativity based empowerment and healing programs for women. Carol recently launched The Big Girls Little Coloring Book, a life coaching colouring book for women.



Posted in ART of Change, Domestic Violence, Sisterhood, Transformation, Uncategorized, White Ribbon | Leave a Comment »

We all have Choices…or do we?

Posted by carolom on November 24, 2015


I hosted a Creativity and Conversation afternoon for a group of professional women recently and Vivienne, one of the newest members of the group brought along a delicious banana cake for morning tea.

The compliments flowed, some went back for seconds and several of us asked her for the recipe.

Vivienne laughed and called it the never-fail banana cake recipe. It’s a family recipe but I changed a few things.

I stopped mid bite to absorb her words. A family recipe.
I have worked in domestic violence shelters and prison settings for over 25 years and I recently participated in a number of social media conversations about families, lifestyles and choices. It was the 90’s when terms like you have choices and it’s your choice began to circulate.

It is a broad sweeping concept that basically says, you are free to choose differently at any moment and if you make a poor choice, you must deal with the consequences.

In the homeless sector we began to hear about choices at conferences and forums. Some took it on board as a tool for case management for working with at risk youth and young offenders.

“You have a choice”  became firmly embedded in the language  of homelessness and housing.

Choices could also be put on the table if a woman was facing eviction from her public housing because she had not paid her rent, citing her gambling addiction as the reason: You made the choice to gamble instead of the budget you agreed to. Unfortunately this is the consequence of your choice.

To assume a person has made a conscious, considered choice leaves little room to factor in complex issues such as post traumatic stress which can manifest as making seemingly poor choices.
Replicating the ingrained habits and behaviours  that are reinforced by the social and behavioral norms of the people we spend most of our time with can also seem like a choice . However in  context of social and family conditioning they are mirroring people who have enormous influence on our world view not a conscious choice at all.

“You have choices” precludes the overwhelming emotional and psychological impact of being born into systems of oppression, racism and abuse that distort a persons sense of self and the capacity to reach ones fullest potential.

Some of the women we meet in shelters and domestic violence support settings had lived at the shelter  with their mothers when they were children, returning a few short years later as a young mother who is trapped in the same cycle of family violence and lifestyle “choices”.

Other women in shelter settings  may be struggling with the relentless alcohol addiction that also plagues other members of her family. Is it a choice or are the implications of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder so significant  yet externally invisible. In these cases  choices  are limited by neurological impairment.

You made the choice or you could have chosen differently assumes that because one person has the fortitude and inner strength or resilience to “choose well”, others should also be able to make the same kind of informed and considered choices when in reality many women are struggling simply to overcome the impact of past events and feeling unsafe in the world.

Unfortunately minds that are filled with fear, stress and chaos are not always  well equipped to make considered choices.

Back to Vivienne’s fabulous banana cake and the recipe that her mother had received from her grandmother that was then   tweaked and changed in Vivienne’s kitchen.

Her changes included adding crushed walnuts to the batter and brushing a light lemon syrup over the top of the cake before the icing.

Many family recipes remain unchanged, handed down through old note books and cook books without a single adjustment made to any of the ingredients or formula

Some women are able to improve upon a great recipe and others completely throw out the old one and rid themselves of the predictable serving that has been handed down through the generations.

Most of us can think of an old recipe or formula that we learnt in the family home and decided to re-work and let go of once we left the nest that imprinted us with who we are and how to move in the world.

In shelters these change makers are the women we support and cheer on!

We recognise that she is courageous and brave to make a conscious choice to explore a different lifestyle recipe for her self and her children.

We know she will have to work very hard to acquire all of the ingredients and skills she will need and there will be times when old habits and familiar formulas will distract her along the path of obstacles that she will face.

What about those who are repeating “poor” choices that could be identified as the  attraction to the bad boy  characters who feature in so many of our group conversations?
As one woman said “Every guy I’ve ever loved has either been to jail or he should have but didn’t get caught”. Many of the women in her family and social circle had similar patterns.

What about  the woman who hasn’t fully realized that the choice to allow him back into her life is a recipe for disaster?
We love her any way!

We continue to believe in her, support her and offer her different tools for navigating her lifestyle.

We recognise that what might seem to be a very poor choice on a daily basis to some people is perhaps the very thing that is keeping her afloat at this point in time.

In shelters we meet women who are very new to the concept of self agency and the power they have to choose differently.

I created the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. acronym for discussion during our Art of Change  group and whilst it encourages strong and informed choice making, we also discuss the some of the limitations and road blocks that are in place when it comes to navigating those words you can choose differently at any time…

Carol Omer bio:

Carol Omer is a certified Life Coach and artist. She specialises in creativity based empowerment and healing programs for women. Carol recently launched The Big Girls Little Coloring Book, a life coaching colouring book for women.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

It is White Ribbon Week. A poetic tribute to Resilience.

Posted by carolom on November 23, 2015

The Flashing Light

Saturday night and an empty dance floor

a flashing, aging disco light and desperately loud music

that pulsated a false promise of a fabulous time ahead.

In he walked with three loud and noisy friends

Handsome Hunk. That was her very first thought.

It was love at first sight!

At least it was for Grace, who would say many times in the coming weeks
He is my knight in shining armour, my love and light, my new best friend


The seeds of the kind of crazy making chaos

that had begun by date number five

were planted at a time when other suitor-seeking-women were travelling joyously

in four wheel drive chariots and on shiny motorbikes

that roared with the sound of it’s so good to be alive!


The first time he shoved her into the wall

she was holding their brand new baby girl

By the time their fourth child arrived her friends were chanting a mantra

that made Grace’s ears burn and her heart race:

Why don’t you leave him?

Surely you don’t still believe him?

What are those bruises on your face?


Cupid’s arrow had shattered into dangerous shards

that she now slept on in a bed of nails

but she didn’t tell her friends that of course

She was already grief stricken that baby number four

was not a union of love and light

but a creation of forced submission after an evening of fear and fright

Grace had to ignore her friends to keep herself from going mad.
How did she go from the disco floor to being kidnapped into confusion

amidst the a landscape of a romantic illusion

that transported the once light spirited, optimistic, amazing Grace

into the place of fright and loathing?

No longer did she laugh when he said, you are my pussycat!
Truth be known she had learnt to protect her children

by placing herself in the jaws of the fierce lion

all the while feeling like a vulnerable, scaredy cat.

One day in the supermarket, surrounded by her tribe of children,

lead by the dangerous man with the vituperative tongue,

a woman with a tray of pomegranate samplers approached Grace
The woman smiled brightly, her gaze fixed upon Grace tightly

Try this one it’s delicious, she said
and then whispered urgently

Leave him or he will kill you –you deserve better than this!

Grace stood dumbfounded that this pomegranate wielding stranger

this once terrorised sister, had sensed her present danger


Something changed for Grace that day

though it didn’t happen straight away

Within six turns of the full moon her children and beloved pets

had escaped and were now living in a shelter house

a place where the walls were light and fresh, with fences high

They were safe!

It took a Village to rescue Grace from the illusion

that was cast that night under the flashing dance floor light

In the words of the police officer

who attended that very last incident that Grace had to endure

You were lucky to get away

But we know that Grace was brave, it was not a matter of luck at all!

Flourish and Nourish

Posted in Chaos, Domestic Violence, Family, Fear, Lifes Stories, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Your licence is about to expire…

Posted by carolom on November 4, 2015

Your licence is about to expire…

Nestled in between two busy main roads
that were once dirt tracks winding between churches
and blue stone cottages
Rickety roads where horses kicked up dust
and the creaking milk cart was a welcome sound

Sits the Old Road Cemetery

IMG_1985A large impeccably kept burial ground
with rows and rows of gravestones
that depict a life narrative in one line
Many of the stories begin and end with
a death over a hundred years ago

Google –which is a word that had not emerged from the ether
when those original shovels tossed dirt
upon the first of many hundreds of coffins
will tell you that Daisy Bates
who set up camp with Aboriginal people

and wrote about her version of them is
in the Old Road Cemetery

Edmund Wright that renowned architect
and former Lord Mayor of Adelaide
and Edward Charles Stirling,
the first person in Australasia
to introduce a bill for women’s suffrage
are resting in eternal peace under the guardianship
of angels that fly motionlessly
whilst peak hour traffic speeds slowly by

IMG_1990Thousands of people are laid to rest
at this tranquil cemetery where the expired flowers
of the old Jacaranda trees
transform into purple snow in December
and cover bleached white headstones and red rusted railings

Young Eliza May who passed away in 1907
was only fifteen years old
her sister Lilly who barely saw life past one year
had died before her in 1895
Such a sad family story written in black letters on
pristine stone that has carried their tragedy for 120 years
Some of the letters bleed black dye
as if the headstone weeps in their honour

Bereaved mothers and inconsolable lovers
Families bound by sorrow
Friends who farewelled the young man who
died by his own hand
have all walked upon this ground

Many of them are now also buried and interned
inside of ornate coffins that cocoon them
into the tranquillity of Mother Earth

Others have become ashes tossed to the earth,
the waters
the wind
and the fires

I often walk through this cemetery with wonder
This story book of happenstance and tragedy,
with tablet headstones
bursting with lines of anguished poetry
and philosophical levity

It was at the start of my short-cut walk
through the Old Road Cemetery that something very
unusual caught my eye
At the entrance, attached to the notice board where
funeral notices and Old Souls day events
are announced
was an eye-catching, attention seeking poster
of headstones covered in thick black plastic.

They headstones looked like besieged hostages
hapless victims of torture and oppression
This puzzling somewhat disturbing site
required stopping,
getting out the reading glasses
and peering at the small writing to fully grasp
exactly what was going on

Warning sign

A heavy handed caution
reminiscent of the grim reaper ads
that prophesised impending doom back
when the Aids virus was new and we were ignorant
was written under the plastic covered headstone
Don’t let this happen to you!

It seems that in some cemeteries but not this one…yet
graves that have not had their licence renewed were being shut down!

This was confirmed as I walked through the old section and saw
rows and rows of aging graves with yellow notices stuck to the stone
Daisy May and Lilly’s graves that appeared undisturbed since 1905
now had a yellow parking ticket that said:

“The licence to this plot has expired
Please contact the Old Road Cemetery Office for renewal options
(email and telephone number provided)

IMG_1975Needless to say
I felt a wave of dismay
I have never seen flowers of remembrance
upon Daisy May and Lilly’s grave

I strolled past the resting place of George and Jack
side by side in their father and son burial plot
their sad story embossed ornately in stone in 1897
On the bottom of the headstone a simply written
statement of unwavering faith
Reunited with Grandmother in Heaven



Further down the row James and Emily Jones’s husband and wife plot

eerily reminiscent of a perfectly made cement double bed

Long forgotten and undisturbed
had also been tagged by the uncompromising slip of yellow paper
that cautioned non existent relatives
and summoned families who no longer walk upon this earth

Salutations and blessings penned by grieving family and friends
overshadowed by slips of yellow paper
announcing the grave site is now in the first stages of
negotiation and relocation

IMG_1992Old Road Cemetery has been targeted
by visual and confronting imagery
plucked from the information highway
I wonder what will become of Eliza May and Lilly
all those old, unattended graves
and the army of flightless angels who guard them?

Posted in Adelaide, Adelaide architecture, Stories | 1 Comment »

How Colouring is making a difference in Domestic Violence Shelters

Posted by carolom on October 19, 2015

I was recently invited to contribute to the newspaper article How Colouring-in heals the psychological scars of trauma ( <– see link) and as a result of the interview process I have a couple of pages of added information. I thought it would be a good idea to blog some of  the questions and answers  that formed the basis of the article.

How did colouring-in come into your domestic violence service?

Throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s I was publishing an in house newsletter for the staff and women at our shelter. I called it C.H.A.N.G.E. – an acronym for Creating Happiness And New Growth Everyday

The newsletter created an opportunity for residents of the  shelter and outreach programs to share poetry and stories and for staff to promote programs and provide information relevant to the groups they facilitated.

We had already undergone a cultural change in the shelter regarding the physical environment evolving from one of issue based posters and imagery, to a much more positive and uplifting setting.

*See this blog entry for further detail:  Domestic Violence Shelters as a place of possibility not pain

C.H.A.N.G.E. updated

I was aware that the written word as a form of personal expression and communication relies on being able to read and write English…

and that it isn’t everyone’s preferred form of expression. Delivering information in written form was not always culturally relevant for Aboriginal women or for women from CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) backgrounds.

As the daughter of a very creative mother, I recognised that many of the programs and systems in place in shelters are developed within an academic, not a creative framework so with the support of our management team and my colleagues I began to create tools that tapped into women’s creativity and gave the hands something to do that was engaging and fun. “Fun” is not usually associated with domestic violence shelters.

In the late 90’s I read Carl Jung’s memoir, “Memories Dreams and Reflections” and was fascinated by the concept of the Mandala. I had seen how the young women at our shelter would get very involved in some of the playgroup activities that were designed for their children, including colouring in.

I drew a very rudimentary Mandala and put the words “Believe in Yourself” at the centre and from that very first colouring sheet the women let me know that sitting at the table and colouring while the personal development information was being delivered had changed the group from a class room setting where they were often bored to a much more dynamic and engaging setting.

Our group attendance and retention rate increased dramatically as a result of offering creativity and colouring groups to the women.

I Believe n Myself Poster
Over the next few years I developed creative tools to accompany most of our in house information. For skills training in the area of budgeting, I designed a colouring sheet with circles representing their different financial obligations, such as rent, groceries, electricity etc and we coloured the sheet as we explored topics like budgets, direct debits etc.
The completed poster became a visual tool for budgeting rather than a hand written form that is often left in drawers or left behind in the group room after the session.

A very common topic in dv shelters is how do I change negative patterns?

…especially if it is the 2nd or 3rd domestic violence relationship that a woman is experiencing or she has grown up with domestic violence and does not recognise the intergenerational cycle.

For those sessions I designed Mandalas that had affirmations such as “I release the patterns that no longer serve me” and “I love and accept myself”.

Within a couple of years I had created a master copy folder of colouring pages that were designed specifically for issues affecting women in domestic violence settings but also other pages that related to relaxation and goal setting.
Our staff team enjoyed the colouring process also so I occasionally designed Vision statement colouring sheets for our team building days.


How does colouring-in help people touched by domestic violence?

Colouring in is a form of open eyed meditation.  The rhythmic movement of the pencil slows the mind, acting like a kind of mantra because of its repetitive nature. Colouring brings the consciousness into the present moment. Rather than worrying about past events and speculating about the uncertain future around court cases and hospital visits, the creative process is relaxing and soothing. It is a form of mindfulness that is very effective for women dealing with trauma, who are in recovery from domestic violence.

Colouring is not competitive and it engages the hands which are often excluded from learning and relaxation processes.

Breathing relaxes, the mind slows down and for many women the internal stress is transformed into creativity and focus while they are colouring in.

Breathe Deeply b:w
When a woman arrives at a domestic violence shelter she is often in a highly traumatised and distressed state. She may have physical pain, post-traumatic stress  issues and is finding  it difficult to concentrate and focus.
Along with dealing with court cases, hospital visits, financial issues and worry for pets who have been left behind, a woman will often be managing distressed children and in some cases extended family conflict relating to her decision to leave.

I created a colouring pack for the women who arrived at our shelter.

We added pencils and blank paper to the pack. Many of the residents said that although they hadn’t coloured in since they were young, they felt relaxed and peaceful as they coloured.

I reminded them that we all had colouring pencils for the first few years of our life, at kindergarten and in junior primary but as time went on our creativity was often left behind in preference to the academic processes and outcomes driven education system that places the “arts” on the bottom of academic prestige and sciences on the top. As a result it is often seen to be childish or unprofessional to engage colouring-in as a training tool.
At the shelter new arrivals were often shy or distressed and uncomfortable sitting in a group setting but once they sat at the colouring table and there was no pressure to speak or hold eye contact, they would often relax and begin to share their stories in a much more organic and relaxed manner than if they were sitting with hands on laps and expected to participate in the group dynamics.

Colouring-in creates something beautiful from a black and white page. It is a personal, unique interpretation of the image and that in itself can be very reassuring and nourishing during times of distress and uncertainty.


Tell me a little about some of the people who have found solace (if that is a fitting word) through your work?

Colouring Mandalas and black and white pictures is a process that is relevant for women of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

When *P was colouring her Mandala she looked up after half an hour of colouring and said “I think this Mandala just spoke to me” I asked her what it ‘said’ to her and this was her reply:
“When I was young if I ever felt proud about something I had done at school, my step father (who was abusive) used to always say self praise is no recommendation.
I never felt good enough around him and he was always cristicising me, he still does, but this Mandala made me realise I am good enough and I don’t need to listen to what he said all the time.
The next week she arrived at the group glowing, with a piece of paper in her hand. She had created her own Mandala with the words Self praise. The best recommendation.

We made many copies of her Mandala over the ensuing years and long after she left our service and went to University, her colouring page was there in our group room for other women to colour and medARTate on the words she had written and the important message she left us all with.
Colouring has taken her to a deeper, more reflective place within herself and in that place where she had rarely visited, insights and a new level of resolve awaited her.

There was a young woman in the shelter from a refugee background. *L had lived in a camp in one of the African countries for most of her childhood.

She was married at a young age and had courageously left domestic violence with her young baby. *L did not speak English and the staff members did not speak her language. She was shy in the group settings but her colouring style was so bright and skilful that she drew many compliments from the rest of the shelter residents.

Although the colouring circles were not competitive as such and everyone’s unique style was celebrated it was obvious that *L was a gifted artist and the recognition of her art connected her to the women around her. She was proud of her work and generous in showing the other women her unique shading techniques.

In this scenario colouring raised her confidence and self esteem and enabled her to be the “expert” in the room rather than experience isolation because she did not speak the language and we did not have interpreters on site.

Big Girls Picnic copy

 Would you like to see colouring-in used across the country to help victims and survivors?

As a life coach and an advocate for equitable learning and embracing diversity I would like to see colouring circles in women’s prisons, homeless and domestic violence shelters and Community health and healing environments.
I would also like to see social workers trained in the process of engaging with creativity as a tool for case management as many of the students who come to our shelters are often very uncomfortable with their own creativity or using it as a tool for developing trusting relationships.
In settings where there are Aboriginal clients the colouring process draws on the cultural practices of art and creativity as central to community and learning through story and sharing creative practices.

Victims of domestic violence are entitled to heal and recover in their own time and colouring is a gentle, easy meditation and in that moment of colouring they can have respite from dealing with the vast array of pressing matters that fill every waking moment.

I would like to see front line staff and management and board members trained in the simple process of establishing colouring and conversation circles, this includes access to the colouring process as part of an organizations work-life balance policies.

As a community education and relationship building tool, colouring and the self reflection and creativity that it unleashes is  a fabulous, inexpensive way to build relationships and encourage creativity amongst women who are looking for new answers to old problems

Colouring circles are creative way for women who have escaped domestic violence  to offer her knowledge and experience, to “give back” as one woman put it in the Talking Circle aspect of the colouring circle.

Healing Power of Nature b-w

Carol Omer is a Certified Life Coach and Artist, specialising in Women’s Personal Development and Empowerment programs.
The Big Girls Little Colouring Book is available on her website: CarolOmer.com

The Big Girls Little Coloring Book is also available on Amazon

Posted in ART of Change, Community, Creativity, Domestic Violence | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Service Stations – are they a relic of the recent past?

Posted by carolom on July 17, 2015

I was driving along a road that I had travelled many times  during the 10 years during that  I worked in the area.

As I neared Gino’s  service station where I bought my  petrol and ice creams in summer ( and didn’t mind paying a few cents more  when the multi-national petrol-supermarket chains began opening nearby), I was aghast to see this:


“Oh no..they got Gino”
Convinced that this local grass roots, no frills business man had finally been beaten down by the corporate giants, I stopped my car and stepped over the flags that reminded me of a crime scene.

Poor Gino! He gave such great service. I will miss him (even though I hadn’t filled up my car there for years, he was still the Village mechanic).

Gino gave such great service he was always booked and people who had moved out of the area would even bring their cars back to him, such was Gino’s reputation.

We didn’t care that everything looked like it needed a coat of paint or that his hands were deeply ingrained with oil stains when he handed us our change. They were working hands! No robotics in Gino’s workshop!


I looked at his familiar sign, grey clouds framing the simple words and felt a sense of loss that was totally disproportionate to the moment.
Except of course if you are a community worker who has been watching  the Village crumble over recent times as supermarkets stomp on the corner store and community organisations fall victim to budgets and politics, the Village Green now a carpark so to metaphorically speak.


Gino, we will miss you and your workmanship guarantee.

Perhaps I should set up a facebook page where your loyal customers can gather and share memories of the many years you looked after their cars, seeing toddlers turn into young adults and pull up in their P plate cars to fill up at the local servo…


As I walked solemnly towards the door I had walked through so many times, fully immersed in sentiment and not-very-nice-thoughts toward the corporate world, I saw a sign on the door.
An eviction notice?
Letter to my customers?
Details of how to pay outstanding accounts?

I stepped closer to read it…the flags making a slight flapping noise, the sky becoming ominously darker. I could see the word Closed and wondered “where did Gino go”….

This is what it said:


Gino!! You’re back!! I was so worried!

I walked back to my car after this 10 minute funeral for a business that has  just gone on holidays and had not in fact suffered a fatal heart attack by the corporate giants and drove away thinking about those first three letters in the word assumption.

And  where Gino might have gone on holidays…to Italy?…I hope his family is okay because you never know, elderly parents and…and..

Moral of this story: Always make sure the facts get in the way of your good story…


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There is a Coloring Revolution Happening & Very Good Reasons Why…

Posted by carolom on June 13, 2015

Have you noticed how many articles and news segments, facebook posts and blogs have appeared in the last few months about the phenomenal rise in  coloring books for adults?

I have and I’m thrilled that the best kept secret in women’s personal development is now reaching audiences far and wide! I have been creating Mandalas and coloring sheets  for women for over 20 years and have seen the tremendously positive impact of coloring first hand!

To celebrate the launch of  The Big Girls Little Coloring Book I thought I would share a few of the things that I have learnt about the why  part of Coloring for Women and some of the reasons we are seeing such a meteoric rise in coloring books for adults.

1.Coloring is therapeutic. In the words of one of the women in our prison group “I’ve met a lot of psychiatrists and therapists and counsellors who want me to talk about the things that happened in the past but for me, sitting with the coloring book is one of the most peaceful places I go to”.

Coloring a pattern or template is similar to walking a labyrinth. The lines that are followed create a meditative state and within the conformity of those lines, like the labyrinth, the mind and body enter into a soothing meditation that is not confined to or bound by the pattern that is being followed.

2. As children we were very connected to our coloring pencils and often received a coloring book as a gift. In kindergarten we were coloring all the time and then, sometime around junior primary, our colored pencils began to take  a back seat to learning processes that were not so much concerned with creativity   as  academic performance. Many women never found their colored pencils again…until now!

Women are now reclaiming their colored pencils and returning to the fun, relaxing enjoyment of coloring.

3. Many women are tired and exhausted from participating in  you can have it all and are now holding down full time jobs as well as running a family full time, pursuing studies and in amongst it “all” are tired, restless and feeling disconnected from their creativity.

Coloring creates a peaceful, personal space that is a form of open eyed meditation. Breathing slows down and  the rhythmic movement of the pencils is akin to a mantra that slows the mind and stops its restless chatter.

4. Women experience a great sense of connection and community when they come together to color in circles. This is especially relevant for women who say they are tired of socialising in public  spaces and are looking for a return to the Village and the sense of community and belonging  that is at the heart of conversation about when the world was a much more simple place.

Gathering in small circles creates a trusting, innovative space where young women and older women can gather. Where we can meet up with friends, make new ones and share food, stories, creativity and laughter together.

These are just a few of the reasons why Women’s  Coloring books and Coloring Circles are on the rise.

The Big Girls Little Coloring Book has 21 Mandalas, each accompanied by an Affirmation poster with a thought provoking message.

It has been a pleasure and a great honour to create a coloring book for women that covers topics such as the power of the mind, the nature of patterns in our life and how to tap into that deep well of creativity that we knew so freely and easily as children and, for many women, are re-discovering again through the pages of coloring books for grown ups!

I am deeply grateful for the women in domestic violence shelters, prisons, community health and healing groups who have shared their stories, told me what works and what doesn’t work for them and allowed me to create coloring pages that are like a small labyrinth, a place where the rhythm of the lines and the focused movements of the hands,  slows down the busy mind and breathe deeply as the pattern unfolds.

Posted in Community, Creativity | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Autumn is the Perfect time to let old BeLeafs go…

Posted by carolom on May 30, 2015

As the seasons change Mother Nature releases the old growth and over the coming months the plants prepare for the new growth that bursts forth in the Spring.

We all have old growth, old ideas and beliefs  that could be released…

What are the BeLeafs you could be letting go of today?


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Give Me The Courage of a Mouse.

Posted by carolom on January 2, 2015

Give me the Courage of a Mouse

I heard my cat Junipurr rustling in the dry leaves by the back door. It was the sound of Cat Chasing Mouse so I went out and ordered him inside.

I didn’t want another of the spoils of  Junipurr and Purrly’s hunting to arrive on the door mat. Their hunting is instinctive. I get that and equally it is my instinct to protect mice and birds and lizards from the deeply coded jungle instincts of my well fed domestic cats who play with small animals and birds with the same kind of cruelty that humans delight in when they make the bulls run or roosters fight one another for no reason.

When I am able to intervene successfully, Mouse always runs as fast as she can whether it is back to the nest and her babies or to the foreign soil of the garden next door I will never know. I just see her run and I cheer her on, a sense of satisfaction that I have liberated a tiny little animal from the jaws and claws of the lions.
Mouse’s world is no less important to her than my own. She lives by her wit and skill in a garden fraught with tigers and lions and panthers ready to pounce on her day and night. Sharp metal mouse traps, poisons and bait, night owls and frightened humans who will kill her in an instant. This is the world that she is born into.

I bent down to see Mouse hiding under the leaves, her body heaving with a palpitating heart and her back leg covered in blood. It was a distressing scene and I knew her terror was equal to that which I might feel if I was attacked by a pouncing giant or trapped in a corner with no escape.

I moved towards her and saw that she was not in a very good state at all so I picked her up to bring her inside where my husband would euthanise her rather than have her die slowly from her wounds . Despite her injuries she pushed against my closed hand with the strength of a small lion, all the while her heart, which was now close to the palm of my hand was pounding in terror. In a deft twist of her body she lunged at my finger and bit it sharply, jumping to freedom as I recoiled in pain. It wasn’t a big bite. Can a Mouse  ever really make a big mark?

It was enough to free her from my gasp and she ran into the vegetable garden.

I don’t know where she got her energy from as it was apparent when I picked her up that she was critically injured with a stomach wound.

I have learnt over the years to accept that there are limitations to the difference I can make for a suffering animal or a struggling human being so I didn’t pursue her into the vegetable garden. In spite of my best of intentions I will never be able to transmit a message of safety and protection to a wild animal, big or small, so instead I transmitted a prayer for her pain and I let her go.

The rustling leaves told me she was on her way to her freedom and I walked back inside, past Junipurr who had moved on to the effortless task of getting my attention for his breakfast, the wide eyed hunter now replaced with the purring, tail wrapping choreography of a cat who will never have to hunt for food to survive.

My encounter with Mouse had impact and occupied my thoughts over the next couple of hours. She was so strong and determined in the face of what must have felt like my second attack after the cat struck her with his razor claws.

In the few seconds she was in my hand, I noticed how perfect her own claws were and how her limbs were not so different than mine with her perfectly formed legs and hands that grasped at my skin to push me away.

An hour or so later I imagined her laying in the garden dying a slow and painful death so I decided to see if I could find her and return to my first plan of bringing her inside to be euthanised.
I found her straight away.

She hadn’t run very far into the garden at all. In fact she was only a few inches away from where she jumped out of my hand.

She was laying on her side, eyes closed, covered in ants. She must have died shortly after her escape.

Her stillness enabled me to see the extent of her injuries and truly, I could not see how she was even able to move let alone fight with the strength and fierceness that made me recoil and release her.

I picked her up and stroked her head as I carried her to the flower bed for burial.

I told her she had been amazing.

She died on her own, no doubt in enormous pain and blood loss but she truly gave her survival her all.

I was able to look closely at her tiny little hands and the perfection of her face, her magnificent rope like tail and in her I saw the courage of a lion and the fierceness of many of the women I have met in domestic violence shelters who continue to fight, even though the battle is with an enemy far bigger and physically stronger than she will ever be.

I dug a shallow grave next to the mint patch and placed Mouse down gently. I thanked her for taking me away from my computer and the technology that so often removes us from the world of animals and nature and death and victories and into the realm where to have the courage of a Mouse is a thing to be proud of indeed.

She was a hero of mythic proportions.

She fought both the jungle cat and the human-giant and I am honoured to have been the one to lay her to rest.

Give me the courage of a Mouse and I would consider it an honour of equally mythic proportions.

915653-bigthumbnailImage source

Posted in Animals, Letting go, Lifes Stories, Metaphor, Mouse | 2 Comments »

The Virus. An Australian Story.

Posted by carolom on November 18, 2014

The Virus is a representative story. Though names and some of the details have been changed for narrative purpose, it is a true story.

I have updated the original blog post in response to the SBS series First Contact

The Virus. An Australian Story

I was 5 or 6 years old a migrant child of parents who were swept away from the sooty chimney towns of Britain’s working class north by the promises of a bright new life in a young country. A country brimming, spilling and erupting with outrageous opportunities for people, white people, who dreamt of owning their very own land. Australia.

We were the ten pound package , government assisted chance of a life time Brits who flocked in their thousands to these shores and landed like sparkling white seagulls that squabble amongst themselves as they fly in kindred form. Noisy chattering seagulls on the look out for the best morsel they can find.
Some have said seagulls all look and act the same…

Poms they called us, the latest flock of new arrivals following in the footsteps of the convicts and our sea faring ancestors who came to seize new territory in a land that was not young at all.

Big skies, wide streets, pupil dazzling light Brand new asbestos houses far removed from the tall sooty terrace flats cramped side by side back Home.

We staggered wearily, eagerly into government issue houses that nestled expectantly in the middle of tiny little paddocks. Neatly sliced quarter acre blocks that beckoned the new arrivals to seed a brand new life and sow a future far removed from the misty grey land where the sun rarely shines.

This was The Lucky Country and we thought that we were very lucky indeed! There was much to learn and many new things to see and for awhile my migrant child’s world was consumed with more space new friends, big school, new sounds, interesting sights and beach time delights.
In fact we were so immersed in our new life we were utterly, completely, mind numbingly oblivious to the Land where we were living.

That is when the virus struck.

I remember the day it happened.Unlike those silent viruses that sit invisibly on taps waiting to hitch a ride on fingertips that brush past lips this insidious, relentless, sickening parasite travelled effortlessly upon the breath transmitted upon invisible sound waves elusive in their source, the destination always the same.

It was very hard for young children to escape a germ such as that! I was standing by the milk shed when the virus struck.

Its current host was a plump red freckly boy called George. He was no doubt named after a king, an uncle or grandfather back Home .

The kids called George names like dot-face and carrot top.
Giggling and laughing, George entertained us by pulling faces and joining in the fun. His best friend stood with us, Peter Green, an Australian boy who was fond of saying “we go back 6 generations“, even though he didn’t really know what it meant.

His father said it all the time so it must have been important.

Peter was teaching George the real Australian way

We were standing in the cool shade, a rare find across the sweltering expanse of the asphalt playground when the virus emerged and the first cross infection occurred. In a loud voice that announced his cockney origins wherever he went, George sang out four words in the mocking tone of a confident child: “Dirty coon, rotten baboon” Four words that speared my consciousness and left a tender wound, a vulnerable space to host a virus that I was too young to fight.

Georges words invoked contempt a voracious contempt that swept through the crowded school yard as quickly as it took to catch one another’s breath. I followed Georges eyes and saw the object of his loathing.
Curly haired Lindy and her little brother Jimmy the Aboriginal kids. The Blacks

Lindy and Jimmy stood out from the sea of white faces. Shiny black birds surrounded by vicious seagulls. They stood holding the eyes of their attacker whilst holding tightly onto one another’s hand. Jimmy leaned towards his big sister terrified that the big kid with the flaming red hair was about to lunge and squash him then and there.

They were the outcast kids the Abo’s who were never ever invited to play our games. Peter smiled at George approvingly and one or two others snickered our way the virus twisting itself across children’s faces annihilating the anti-bodies of innocence feasting upon the collective enjoyment of someone else being teased.

This particularly robust virus had its own language.

After coon followed different words boong-boong –that’s the noise they make when the bull bar hits them. Before long other children joined in the heckling until a bubonic plague of racist torment swamped us all in its vitriolic grip.

That was the day I learnt a new A, B C. The uniquely Australian alphabet. A. B. C.


This was the alphabet I was infected with as a child.

In the lucky country. A magnificent land older than the mountains with secrets winding back through time. Something terrible occurred. A virus was unleashed long before our little family travelled to the down under shores.

What became of Lindy and Jimmy? Innocent children who were called half castes, treated as out casts.
Removed from their Mother, kidnapped before her very eyes.
Thanks to the power of forgiveness and decency and common sense, strong medicines for curing the malaise of toxic tongues and the virus that leaves many deaf and mute and blind, Lindy and Jimmy and I became friends.
Precious friends and together we are all in recovery from the virus that strikes so many innocent children down. UnityinCommunitySistars2

Posted in Aboriginal, Australia, Australia's abuse of human rights, Carol Omer, Racism, racism in australia, Reconciliation, Relationships, Sorry | Leave a Comment »


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