~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

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

Moving beyond Building Bridges

Posted by carolom on October 18, 2016

The Mandorla

Unity in commUnity CarolOmer

During  almost three decades of working in human services, I have seen the term  building bridges gain  popularity.

Its a powerful metaphor. Bridges exist in all countries and transcend cultural barriers. The image of a bridge requires no  explanation.  The image speaks the intent.

We are crossing over, transcending the distance between us.

l am leaving my side of the bank and arriving at yours and We are no longer limited by the circumstances  that separate us.

It isn’t  surprising that both the visual image and the language of bridge building has  become an effective analogy, a visual metaphor  for getting along with our neighbor, resolving issues and conflict and  walking into new territory together, our differences transcended,  bridged by understanding and change.

A few years ago I came across a symbol that captivated my attention and spoke to my ‘inner bridge-builder’ with a clear message that bridge building, no matter how well intended, has its origins in the dual paradigms  of separation and difference.

The symbol that stetched my perception is called a Mandorla.

The word is Italian for Almond and that is the shape that is created when two circles over lap.

When we are developing a process that involves building a bridge, we begin from a point of separation and strategise  how to transcend the distance between myself and the other, us and them by seeking to unite two distinctly separated sides.

With the Mandorla we can see that  two whole and complete circles retain their unique identity and between them create a new, unified  space where those two circles meet.

The place  where we are already connected.

This is the place where  we all share commonalities and experience our pre-existing connection.

We breathe the same air, we have the same needs for food, shelter and warmth. As human beings we share a mutal need for safety, love, belonging, purpose and a need for meaningful stories and sense of place in the world.

These are core human needs that form the foundation of families and communities across the planet, regardless of the different cultural, economic or political circumstances of where we live in the  place we call home.

If I am facilitating a workshop for  young offenders in juvenile detention or visiting a rural Aboriginal Community for a womens camp, the Mandorla affirms our connection.

I am not entering  their community or communal space  wondering how I can build a bridge between us, instead I show them my Mandorla poster (see below) and ask if we can spend a bit of time looking at where we are connected.

Once we get past the obvious we are all humans, a whole range of possible  shared experiences and commonalities come forth. You are left handed like I am   / My football team is  /  I share your same views on racism / how can we make a difference together?

As we explore our commonalities we also look at the space outside of the Mandorla, that large expanse of the two separate components of the intersected circles.

This is the place where we learn from one another, a place where our differences are recognised within the experience and recognition  of our connection and not as somewhere we need to get to by crossing the bridge of our differences.

I created a poster for the ART of Change program  to  show my interpretation of the Mandorla.

I always show the poster with the wildly enthusiastic expectation  that when  people learn about the possibilities of Mandorla for the first time they too will have an ah-ha! moment and realise that the time we spend thinking about, talking about & building bridges  is time taken away from sitting  in the Mandorla of our connection & sharing in the joy of learning & growing together through one another’s Stories.

I came up with another way of expressing the Mandorla and it goes like this:


Posted in Building Bridges, Change, Community, Creativity, Human Rights, Jean Houston, Journeys, Mandorla, Peace, Social Artistry, Stories, Transformation, Unity, Wisdom | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Ode to the Rescuer

Posted by carolom on September 15, 2016

This poem is dedicated to the many women, especially those who I meet in domestic violence shelters, who really do believe:

If I just keep on loving him, he will change & we will have the relationship that I know is possible…


We hear the words “I thought he would change” so often inside of the walls of domestic violence shelters that I created the following dramatisation for our Talking circle so that the group of women who have sometimes had 2 or 3 relationships with violent men, could begin to unravel what keeps them there and how to recognise the pattern.

The following piece is not relevant for all women who leave domestic violence, but for those women who sit in support groups and say “I believed him when he said he would change” and “He is a really nice guy, he just had a rotten childhood”, this piece is for you.
And for Janet who was killed in domestic violence by a man who then killed himself, leaving four beautiful children behind.

Ode to the Rescuer:

There was something very appealing about his pain, it matched her pattern perfectly
and her pattern goes like this:

Give me a damaged man with potential and I will embrace him as my life mission
My personal quest!

I will claim myself to be his Rescuer and through my eyes he will see how sorely he has been denied Love

And with the love of this Good Woman, he will heal!

He will heal
He will heal
He will heal

With the peace of mind that I alone have brought to him, delivered to him on a sincere heart that pulses with conviction, his heart shall finally, after many troubled years finally beat with contentment in symbiotic rhythm with my own

Ahh..this future memory brings tears to my eyes and reminds me to be patient and the reward will come.
Of this truth I have created, I am sure.
He will change
He will change
He will change
I shall interpret his moodiness as poetic brooding,
his sarcasm as merely the shadow of his enormous artistic sensitivities and
his broken promises as the unfortunate repercussions of a busy, preoccupied man.
I shall deny myself my heart’s desires,
less they place too much of a burden on his already busy mind.
I shall desperately seduce him into security with words thinly veiled
with the false reassurance that I want nothing of him
After all he is the broken one
Not me!
I will prove to him that I am the one single woman
on this Earth who can heal his troubled Soul.
Because I believe in him like no other has in the past
or could possibly at any time in the future
As the rescue program gets under way I will slowly begin to allow
the duality of the situation to come to the fore
Actually I won’t have a choice!
Having ensnared him with my rescuers net
or having fallen into his
I shall wrestle with the duality of being drawn to his charismatic withdrawals
whilst also experiencing an awakening awareness
that he is indeed mirroring my own need to heal and rescue the wounded heart.
There is something painfully seductive about that wounded heart after all it’s in all of the fairytales and rom-com’s isn’t it?
Love that Beast fair Beauty for he will come good in the end!
In order to ignore the needs of my own hopeful
wounded heart
I will plunge into my rescuing role with paradox and passion
for I am drawn to the angst of tortured feelings
which I have misconstrued as Romance and Love
as haplessly as he is drawn to his broody silences
and the acidic observations he casts out to bait me every now and then.
And quite regularly at times.
And yes. He has hit me in the past but the degree to which he is so truly deeply sorry overwhlems me with compassion for him.
Every time.
Every single time.
Except the last three times when I only felt fear and loathing,
But I got over that!
Didn’t I?
Didn’t I?

or Did !?

Words that forge our bond like who else would put up with you or me and
we were meant for one another, we are as bad as each other
will be the hypnotic sound track of the saga of our co-dependence

He will be my co-star as my life unfolds according to the stories I believe
Stories that I have created, many that have piggy backed onto the romantic tales of how the good girl transforms the bad boy with exquisite mastery and tears.
Fictional stories that I will defend as

Alas it is a tired old script with no surprises in the Story whatsoever!

but it will take me a long time to understand that
to reinterpret and rewrite the lead roles
because most of this is new to me!

And I am a stranger to myself.

Indeed aren’t we all until we remember who we really are?

Therefore I will need quite some time to realise any of this
as this predictable Olde Story unfolds on a roller coaster of
drama and desire
yearning and conflict

Those old scenarios and inevitable cycles replaying themselves in the guise of Love.


No this is just unlearnt lessons in re-enactment!
I will come to realise this one day
though I do not know that yet of course!

Although my heart does skip a beat when he looks at me in that certain seductive kind of way
Surely that must be Love?

Though you may well think I am making a banquet from a few crumbs of moments of hard earned intimacy
You are wrong of course!

I know this banquet will be rich in the fruits of my desires so long as I am patient.
I will be Patient
will be Patient
will be Patient

My mantras give my life meaning and hope
They really do
Really really they do.

In the meantime I will deny that the toxins of this relationship are causing me great harm.
Souring my naiveté.
Poisoning the sweetness of my illusions whilst I continue to defend his lack of friendliness and warmth as justified

The increasing violence as a sign
that his love for me is so much he can barely handle the intensity!
I understand that and why he is violent
on account of the awful things he went through as a child.
The unresolved issues with his difficult father
The conflict with his troubled mother

There was just so much trouble that went into creating his troubled life
that I share

I am perhaps the only one who really knows that
and understands him and LOVES him
The only one

The lonely one


Love will conquer all. I think I am sure of that!

There is only one fixed rule in all of this apparent uncertainty
And this the rule I made and now obey:
I must Love him no matter how hard he is to Love.

I will Love him unconditionally
will Love him unconditionally
will Love him unconditionally

This one rule will make it all wonderful one day because

He will open up
He will open up
He will open up

Ultimately of course I will deny myself the right to move forward, to reach my fullest potential because I will be anchored defiantly to our co-dependence and staunchly courageously


refer to it as

This is what I know Love to be.

The End

I dedicate this to my lifelong friend Janet 1959 -2001 who was killed by her husband who then killed himself.

Your life mattered Janet, your stories are important to be told. I miss you dearly my friend.

Carol Omer
Certified Life Coach
Author of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book

Posted in Change, Chaos, Childhood, Co-dependence, Denial, Domestic Violence, Drama, Fear, Journeys, Letting go, Lifes Stories, Love, Men and Women, Poetry, Relationships, Sisterhood, Transformation, Unrequited Love, Wisdom, Women | 9 Comments »

When things turn up and make you smile …

Posted by carolom on September 6, 2016

This is a true story and it began this morning when I was preparing to go for a morning walk.

I could not find a second hair clip and rather than waste time looking I decided to go with a hair clip and a hair grip ( as Mum used to call them). I had already lost half an hour to emails so I didn’t want to waste any more time!


It is Spring time in our part of the world and  the Jasmine vines, my very favourite flower, are bursting with new life. There was a massive flowering vine hanging over the edge of fence in one of the very old lane ways and I picked some but as I was only half way through my walk I thought I wish I had brought a bag with me…

I exited the lane way into a car park and there, on the edge of the car park  was a lone shopping trolley with a bright pink,  empty bag sitting in it.

No car nearby.

No people to be seen.

This must be my bag! 

I smiled as I put the Jasmine inside and reflected on how sometimes there is great power in our throw away thoughts. We throw them out into the ether, often thousands of thoughts in a single day  and sometimes they boomerang back to us wrapped around a prize  catch created by the matter of fact nature of our thoughts !
Did you know that often the things that matter in those matter of fact moments can  matter’ialise when we least expect it?

I arrived home, took the beautifully perfumed Jasmine from the bag and placed the flowers in  Mums  old ceramic boot vase that she made many years ago.

Since Mum passed away  last year I treasure every single thing she made and there are many art and craft creations she lovingly made over the years.

For example that is one of her knitted dolls hats on her manikin that is embracing mine.


I am an avid student of the power of the mind and our role as co-creators with life but there was no way I could have guessed what was in the bottom of what I thought was a completely  empty bag!

Here it is! A second hair clip!

Exactly  the same as the one I was looking for before going with the hair grip instead.



Hand on heart this extra bit of Magic just kind of made my day! As the late and wonderful Dr Wayne Dyer wrote You’ll see it when you Believe it!

I definitely believe in the Magic of life!

I don’t know how the empty pink bag ended up sitting in an empty trolley in a near empty car park and I would happily return it to its’ owner if there was identifying information in there.
But then again it is quite possible it just turned up because I thought I wish I had brought a bag with me  and before that I need that hair clip, my fringe is in my eyes…

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She walks alone at Midnight…or does She?

Posted by carolom on August 17, 2016

I went outside at midnight to round up Junipurr and Purrly.

At the end of my driveway a woman was walking past.

She said : “What are you doing out so late?” and I said:
“I’m calling my cats in, what are you doing out walking so late?”.

“Oh I don’t sleep much these days. I often walk at night.

My son died 5 years ago. I haven’t slept much since”.

It was one of those unexpected moments where everything in the world funnels down into this one encounter with a stranger.

Junipurr ran towards us, his bell jingling with vibrancy and gorgeousness, so full of life and vitality.

“I am so sorry for your loss. The world isn’t the same anymore is it? My Mum died last year.”

I know this because since Mum died it feels like the doors and windows are permanently open and drafts and winds blow in at anytime of the day or night.

But I know that losing a child is not the same as losing your Mother. It’s a different kind of pain because I’ve seen it in my friends C’s eyes.

“He was only 20.” She said this twice.

” See that star up there, the bright one. That’s him”.

I realised that’s why she walks at night alone. She isn’t alone at all.

5 minutes before my biggest concern was a failed creative project I had been working on for hours.

It was a moment that completely reorganised my thoughts and perspective from the personal to the Universal.

“I’m truly sorry for your loss”…I couldn’t find any better words. I would have liked to have.

“Thank you. And I’m sorry for yours”.

“It makes you wonder why we are here” she said.

She walked off into the cold but very clear and crisp night and I came inside with my kitty-cats.

I went out 10 minutes later to see if she was walking back. Maybe a coloring book would help.

But the street was empty.

This song is for all of the Mothers who are living in the world without their children.


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When a Throw-away line Casts a Wide Net. MagNETic!

Posted by carolom on August 17, 2016

Sometimes it’s the throw-away lines of our mental chatter that have the attractor factor.

I listened to an interview with one of my favourite authors, Norman Doidge who wrote the fabulous book The Brain that Changes Itself.
A must read for anyone interested in neuroscience and neuroplasticity and the extinction of the dinosaur belief that the brain is hard wired and can not be changed.

“Once broken can never be repaired” paradigm is sailing away across the oceans of the flat world as we speak… 😉

In the interview with Dr Doidge there was mention of his new book published by penguin in 2016 “The Brains way of Healing”.

I thought “Would love to read it, will check with library” but forgot to check and book it when I got home.

Three days later strolling around 2nd hand store and there is a brand new 2016 copy of “The Brains Way of Healing’ sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to notice it.

And I did.

How did this newly released $30 book arrive in perfect condition on the shelves of a second hand store for $2.99 just a few months after it’s release and three days after my intention to read it?

Throw-away lines sometimes cast the widest net perhaps….



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Words-Swords and the Emergence of Impersonal Language in Human Services

Posted by carolom on July 29, 2016

The following is an excerpt from my unedited draft of The ART of Change memoir. The names and details have been changed as a matter of confidentiality however the impact of language that empowers the worker  or the academic whilst disempowering the recipient of those words is a significant problem across human services and the legal system.

Words Cast Spells

Words ~Swords on the Cutting Edge.

The language and politics of homelessness and social work theories and practices changed many times over the years that I worked in homeless and domestic violence shelters.

Buzz words came and went as words like empowerment, agency, self determination and the words consumer and stakeholders replaced shelter resident and workers crept into human services through out the 90’s.

People stopped ‘talking’ and entered into dialogue, we would no longer ‘catch up for a chat’, we would debrief with one another and instead of ‘talking about things’ like we did in the old days   we would be invited to unpack complex issues and investigate multifaceted causes that underpin marginalisation and disenfranchisement.

With each new turn of phrase the culture of homelessness and service provision changed.

Discussions about the importance of using ‘professional’ language were bandied about during training sessions and statements we would have once made like ‘I think  the family is doing it really hard right now’ were spoken by the new young social workers as It seems that the high and complex needs as a result of the multiple issues facing the family as a unit will require external intervention and on going support to be put in place.

Many social workers and counsellors, health workers and researchers came in and out of the shelter on a weekly basis and the newspeak and jargon was so pervasive at times that we would chuckle as one of our residents, when asked if she had met her new social worker would say: “Yes, she seems okay but I can’t understand what she is saying”.

When offering support to a heart broken, confused teenage mother, our staff might say amongst ourselves ‘she needs a hug and to know she is loved’ or it’s a shame her mother has too many of her own issues to be able to support her daughter. Those internal state altering, mood changing words were nowhere to be seen in the mountainous pile of service agreements and policy documents.

Reassuring an upset teenager with a hug may be considered inappropriate and unprofessional. Physical contact had become almost outlawed in a society traumatised and made paranoid by the horror stories of paedophiles and child molesters. There was a vast new language landscape  that accompanied the hyper vigilant (freaked out) policies.  Terms such as non-physical client engagement and maintaining professional integrity and non self disclosure was the cultural indoctrination for the new generation of social workers and counsellors.

At times the newest theories and current research findings were far more complex and controversial than the complicated lives of the people whose lives they were designed to improve!

The distance and differences between grass roots service delivery in shelters and the academic institutions that conducted research into the lives of homeless people was so vast that our role as shelter staff was to be an interpreter of the newspeak as it gushed out of the government departments, and landed in the lives of the young women who spoke a very different language, developed from within a very different reality than the world of academics and researchers.

I came face to face with an adaptation of the newspeak in the late 90’s. I was visiting a member of SAYM (Strength As Young Mothers) who was living  in our outreach accommodation. Rosie had the great misfortune to have been born into a volatile and abusive family who had inflicted neglect and violence on her through out her childhood. She had  a shattered self concept, outraged ego and hair-trigger temper that could erupt anywhere at any time, especially when she had to deal with people in authority. Her anti-authority trigger might include anyone from a   bank teller to the social security staff and it definitely included the midwives at the hospital where she gave birth to her daughter. People she thought looked at her the wrong way in supermarkets, especially older women who she thought were judging her, would be on the receiving end of Rosie’s wrath. Both of Rosie’s parents were in and out of jail throughout her childhood and her family were well known to many government departments, including correctional services, welfare and the education department.

Under the surface of her volatile and recalcitrant behaviour there was a bright, funny, thoughtful young woman who was a very quick learner. She had been identified as having learning difficulties and ‘behavioural challenges’ during her school years, labels that followed her from class room to class room. Rosie had a reputation as a disruptive and difficult student and she made sure to live up to the way she was perceived!

It was very apparent that Rosie’s perceived learning difficulties were most likely a result of the relentless stress and chaos of her family home and her many trips in and out of foster care every time one of her parents went to jail. Her bright mind and astute grasp of new environments kept her afloat amidst the chaos of her family life but her reputation and the limitations of the education system to accommodate and nurture traumatised and volatile students meant that she spent her entire school years repeating the negative behaviours she learnt in her family home – and developing some new ones of her own. She left school at 14 and I am sure more than one or two teachers would have breathed a sigh of relief to be free of her hot temper and disruptive class room dramas.

It was no surprise to her social workers and former teachers that Rosie had her first baby at 16 and her second two years later.

There is an old saying ‘you become an expert at whatever you practice… so be careful what you practice’ and like many of the young women who came to our shelter, Rosie had great expertise in enlisting social workers, youth workers and counsellors to help her to get food vouchers, taxi vouchers, Christmas hampers and other kinds of assistance that is available to people in need. Her family had lived on welfare for several generations and Rosie had inside knowledge on getting the most out of the system that she was born into.

On this particular day she was trying to convince me to give her a taxi voucher from our very limited resources so that she could travel to the northern suburbs to catch up with an old friend. She didn’t like using public transport and would often end up arguing with strangers when she was out and about. Conflict was so deeply ingrained in Rosie’s mind that it was inevitable she would find it – or create it –where ever she went and putting all analysis aside, who wouldn’t prefer to catch a free a taxi rather than enduring a hot bus trip to the other side of town?

During her time at the shelter, Rosie had learnt that, unlike with some of the less experienced social workers and younger youth workers she had been allocated over the years, she couldn’t manipulate the shelter staff. We weren’t intimidated by her outbursts or threats to report us to human services for treating her unfairly. Like many of the young women in the shelter who had learnt to use aggression instead of assertiveness and believed that life victimised them over and over, it took many months before we developed the degree of trust that is necessary for a partnership on the journey of change. We kept our rules constant and allowed her to return to the groups after an outburst or dramatic exit and for someone who was very familiar with inconsistency and rejection the firmness accompanied by friendliness eventually allowed her to settle down and think about her future for the first time. The other young mothers weren’t impressed by her disruptive behaviour in the group room and the mirror of Rosie’s peers and their influence reflected far more to her than the staff of ‘geriatric grannies’ as she once called us with a dismissive slam of the door.

Rosie had been pleading her case for a taxi voucher, for almost half an hour. She lived on a direct bus route, the bus stop was half a block away and the weather was sunny and fine. I wasn’t prepared to give her a voucher, preferring to keep it for more important needs such as assisting a pregnant woman to get to the hospital or a mother with a sick toddler to go to the doctors. Rosie could see that her battle for the free taxi ride was just about lost when she drew her last resort weapon to the fight.

“Carol I need that taxi voucher cause it’s important for me to maintain my social networks.  I am marginalised cause I am a single mother. I am socially isolated in the community and my social worker told me I need to integrate more and explore new options. It’s not just a taxi voucher you know, I’m not just trying to scam a free ride, it’s a social justice issue cause I need to see my friends”.

Rosie’s words took me completely by surprise. I was both delighted by her new strategy and highly suspicious of her motive. She demonstrated that by adopting the language of her oppressors, she believed she stood a much better chance of getting what she wanted and whilst it didn’t get her the taxi voucher she was lobbying for, it was a very levelling moment that show cased how astute Rosie was in spite of the myriads of case notes, files, police reports and hospital records that stated the opposite.

I kept our taxi voucher and gave Rosie a lift out to the northern suburbs delighted to reward her sharp mind and creative use of the gobbledegook that had surrounded her since the first day welfare authorities began to interpret who she was and what she was capable of, tattooing her tragic history in files and reports through out her precious growing years.


I Choose My Words

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Casting Shadows

Posted by carolom on June 23, 2016

I was walking along a path  that is also  bicycle track in a park on the edge of the city this morning and in spite of the school and heading to work traffic I suddenly experienced a sense of vulnerability. The trees and bushes obscured the path from the main road and my imagination created a scenario based on stories in the news.
My work in domestic violence shelters has created a heightened sense of awareness of the vulnerability of women although many of my friends  will say they are alert to danger in some public places.
These thoughts were not my preferred rumination on a pleasant, brisk winters walk but as I began to refocus them, my own shadow caught my eye as its stretched out before me.

I was reminded of Robert Johnson’s illuminating book Owning your Own Shadow- Understanding the Dark side of the Psyche and what a pivotal moment it was when I read it many years ago.


I was so immersed in contemplating the shadow and observing my own thinking about how it plays out in people’s lives  that I didn’t hear the footsteps behind me until a shadow unexpectedly imposed itself over  my own, making me jump and turn around, eyes widened by a rush of adrenalin.

A woman’s voice said Oh, I ‘m sorry.I thought that might happen. Good thing you are not a karate person. And there standing in front of me were the sources of the shadow that crossed my path.Harley and Shanti. Two beautiful, friendly happy little souls who were walking without their lead and were so very excited to see a new friend on their walkway they had bounded up to me to say hello!


I explained to the woman that I had been thinking about shadows and domestic violence and had just taken a photo of my elongated shadow. She said Gee, it’s really long isn’t it?

It was obvious that these thoughts were a long way from her morning walk.

We parted ways at the traffic lights, Harley and Shanti now happily on their leads, wagging their tails and leaving me to ponder about the tale I had been wagging on the beautiful, sunny  crisp winters morning walk, where between our three shadows, mine was most definitely the longest…

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The Magical Child in Exile. Why does the Creative Well-being run dry?

Posted by carolom on June 22, 2016

Every child is born an artist, the problem is how to remain one. Pablo Picasso


Creativity is Oxygen

The Magical Child in Exile is a dramatised story written for people who have yet to reclaim their creative Magical Child in order to experience the mental, emotional and spiritual well being of the naturally free flowing creative state.

While the story makes sweeping statements about  academically, competitively structured education systems for the purpose of dramatising the impact of losing our connection to our innately creative state, I would  like  to acknowledge the wise, creative, fun loving  teachers who recognise that creativity should not be left behind in the eclectic  gallery of  kindergarten and  value it as highly as the science and 3-R subjects. They are the gate keepers for the Artists Soul.

Where does the unlimited imagination, the energy creativity and passion of childhood go? We start out at the kindergarten level oblivious to skin colour, cultural differences and economic status, yet have created a society that has so many divisions and ‘isms’.

As a maturing society we are face racism, sexism, agism and the complex needs of  people who are isolated, mentally unwell and disconnected from their fellow human beings. In the journey from kindergarten to adolescence and adulthood many people have learnt to believe in the differences that set us apart rather than celebrate and engage with the broad range of differences from within the sameness of our shared humanity.


Why does gossip and drama preoccupy so many people  these day and why do tabloids and celebrity gossip have such a strong hold that feeds social media and popular culture?

I think it began in a land far and near in  times as long ago as yesterday and  today…

The Magical Child in Exile

Once upon a time there was a Magical Child who loved to draw and dance and sing and paint and laugh and play. Some days the Magical Child just twirled and swirled in circles for the sheer pleasure of it all.

The Magical Child even had an invisible friend and all the grown ups thought that was very cute, just as cute as when the Magical Child played ‘make believe’ and “I can do and be any thing”.When the Magical Child was sad, tears flowed. When the Magical Child was happy, laughter cascaded.

When the Magical Child was angry there were big yells and sometimes a full-body splat onto the ground as the tsunami of outrage and disappointment is just too much for a  little person to contain. However as soon as the moment was processed the discordant energy left their body leaving the cells free to breathe and grow and remain in their healthy natural state.

But by and bye-bye something happened one day!

The Magical Child was in the midst of telling one of the grown up’s about a funny little make believe story when the grown up said, stop being silly! You can’t keep pretending like that! You are a big girl now! 

They had said the same thing to her brother not so long ago. You are a big boy now. Stop crying. You’re not a baby! STOP IT.”

The Magical Child was shocked and her shock was accompanied by an unpleasant feeling inside of her tummy that took a long time to go away. It was a shaming,  conforming moment. A matter of fact moment that began to alter the course of the Magical Childs life forever.

A shaming moment that would seep into the recesses of the subconscious mind and like a noxious weed, eventually choke the fertile magic-making  soil as surely as if a nuclear land scape  had been dropped in the new’clear landscape of the Childs mind.

And so it began. The artist, the story teller, the dancer , the scribe, the prophet , the mystic all living and breathing through the imagination  – the I~magi~nation-  of the Magical Child was told to stop!   Be quiet!  Don’t dance on there you’ll fall!   Sit down.   Don’t be silly.   Stop fidgeting.  Stop asking so many questions!   STOP!

On and on the commands continued. All the way through school where the Magical Child was now only permitted to create only between 10 am and 11 am (art lesson), to tell stories between 2 and 3 on Tuesdays. (English lesson). Creating whilst remaining as motionless as humanly impossible.  Stop fidgeting! Stop day dreaming! Pay attention! A’tension indeed!

Facing the front board, often bored inside of a square box   they called a room, a box  where whirling, twirling, playfulness no longer came through the door,  banned from ever mentioning invisible friends lest you invite the horrors of medication and mislabeling before you have even learnt how to tie your shoes up properly, the Magical Children sought to become what was expected of them and learn about things beyond their Magical, creative realm.

The Magical Child quickly learnt not to show sadness, anger or confusion and to repress inappropriate eruptions of joy, fear or insecurity in the class room.

Of course eventually the Magical Child stopped completely. Making sure instead to h~o~l~d~It~In!! Sit Still! Eyes to the front…STOP whispering, laughing, talking. Stop. Stop. Stop.

A kind of who-I-Am-amnesia set in.

Forgetting about the art, the magic, the songs, the dances and the stories and instead replaced those Magical currents with learning the things that the teacher insisted was important to their current learning, competing with the other lost Magical Children in the sports yard, in the academic arena and eventually in the work place. If they were able to still function that is.
Magical Children are resilient and they are able to forget if it means freedom from the shaming, the naming, the labeling and the ire of the grown ups but some succumbed to their true self in spite of the challenges and sometimes became known as disruptive, troubled learner, withdrawn , different and uncooperative and  other such names that reveal an inability to conform to the lost-Magic around them.

So was born the latest generation of leaders, lost Magical Children, who will perpetuate the lost-magic and creativity of the system. A system saturated with lost Magical Children, living unreal lives, not even realising – real’eyesing – that who they have become is not who they were meant to be.

Not. who. they. were. meant. to. be.

Many of the Magical Children, now groan-ups themselves are still h-o-l-d-i-n-g—i-t—-i-n. It is not surprising many of the once-magical-minds of the grown up’s  became choked with the weeds of mental illness, alcoholism, drug dependency, neurosis, psychosis, anger, depression, boredom and frustration, competition and back biting and preoccupation with celebrity lives and drama!

Magical Children are full of pure, free flowing creative energy and energy can not be destroyed, it simply transforms, turning toxic, creating tragic from the magic.

Millions of grown up’s are lost Magical Children in varying degrees of exile though a few do escape and return to their natural state I hear. Perhaps this is  why a nation can be preoccupied reality television and obsessed with the lives of the stars! The gods and goddesses of magic and creativity who not only stayed connected to make believe and pretend but are richly rewarded for doing so. They delight audiences who sit still in their chairs, immersed in intrigue and adoration, seeing the world of possibility in the magic-mirror of television.

No longer creating and producing their own stories and art and dance, the need for fantasy and magic nevertheless remains ever strong. Indeed when Magical Children in exile see others leading a “magical life” something within their own self may yearn to return to that place of Magic, creativity and infinite potential for love and connection.

How many people are sighing their day away, feeling that something is missing not realising that ‘Something’ is their free flowing creative Self. It even has been names the mid life crisis  and the seven year itch and finding meaning and purpose in life. Like the kind of meaning and purpose we knew as creative children I guess

Sadly though the lost story teller may now be churning out reams of tragic rather than experiencing that once familiar creative magic. Workplace gossip, chaos and unhappy relationships, forever telling wounded story teller tales to friends and family, occasionally plummeting into the deepest chasms of depression and despair, overwhelmed by the tragedy of an uninspired life.

Depression is on the rise in the western world and there must be a reason why.

I know a lost artist who now  obsessively cleans a clean house and a former magical child inventor who  weeds a weed less garden seeking to create something of note in their world, processing those ever-flowing creative energies towards their small boxed in life.

If it is true that ‘in order to experience heaven one must become like a little child then it might well be that the Magical Children no-longer-in-exile, those who have recovered from the amnesia and remembered who I Am will be the ones to remind us all how to begin the wonderful journey back to our authentic, creative  self and to reclaim what was always within. After all the word reclaim is simply the word miracle in anagram disguise!



Posted in Art, Childhood, Creativity, Lifes Stories, Magic, Oneness, Peace, Spirituality, The Art of Change, The Big Girls Little Colouring Book, The Magical Child in Exile | 28 Comments »

The “N” word and the A,B,C of racism here in Australia.

Posted by carolom on June 21, 2016

*Dedicating this updated post to Nova Peris today after the man who sent her messages with these words in them, pleaded guilty:


The Intergenerational Impact of Australia’s Racist History

I have often thought that those divisive, racist terms, Australia’s equivalent to the word,  the ABC of racism, have not been publicly outed here in Australia.

It’s as if those derisive names and derogatory terms have gone underground yet still live and perpetuate in the collective psyche today, erupting occasionally but generally not aired or brought to the light of public discussion and transformation.

I pre-empt the following with an apology to those who are offended.  In the context of the word discussion it is important that we acknowledge the toxic, pervasive impact of the words abo, boong & coon and the inference of the superiority of one group by the demonising of another.   Dehumanising words that  were instilled in the post European settlement consciousness  of  this country.

As a migrant child in the  60’s hearing the adults use the terms in a derisive, mocking, disdainful manner transmitted their racist origins down through the generations and their legacies are alive and breathing long after the first people who uttered them have gone.

That old adage that you can’t heal it until you claim it is as relevant when discussing collective language and divisive stereotyping as it is when discussing personal  mental, emotional and spiritual wounds.

It is the very early days of recovery from the violence of colonisation in this country and naming and accepting responsibility for the impact of the language of Australia’s history of apartheid that was linguistically coded into our schoolyards and policies in very recent times, is another step in the healing process and journey of restorative justice.

An Aboriginal Woman said to me recently: Unless you have experienced it, a person could never know what it feels like to have your culture, your tribe and community demonised to the point where just the word “Aborigine” triggers fear, distrust and loathing in people who have never even sat down with us and had a yarn.

Australia’s history of colonisation, which was an invasion into an occupied country whose inhabitants had   highly sophisticated systems of governance & environmental practices, is the story of many first nations people right across the globe. Domination, theft, rape, genocide, kidnapping of children and loss of language and identity and the slow and painful inter-generational recovery for a nation of people living in the post traumatic state.

I sometimes wonder if people outside of Australia are aware that there are uniquely Australian counterparts to that loathesome and highly political word “nigger’

They are words that imprison the innocent and are not discussed openly  in Australia or made accountable for the role that they have played in demonising one race in order to serve the agenda of another.

Deep within the psyche and at the fore front of many people’s thinking & belief systems, the ABC – abo, boong and coonof Australia’s shameful & very recent past is still very much alive and breathing  a fresh generation of racism despite progress being made in some areas of Reconciliation and healing.

This is what the women in our Aboriginal Women’s Healing groups have told me over and over and when an Aboriginal grandmother is standing at the bus stop with her three grandchildren and a car full of teenagers drives by and calls out boongs, it is evidence that the virus of racism is still beng transmitted in Austraia today.

Click here to read “The Virus” – a story of how racism is ‘caught’ in the schoolyard…

Definition of boong in the Urban Dictionary reveals the derogatory intent of the term:Urban dictionary Definition of ‘boong’

Many Warriors are still in chains.

For more on this topic, I highly recommend the following book “Blood on the Wattle” which details the history of some of the massacres across Australia. It is a hard book to read but one that should be read by every Australian.

Posted in Abo, Aboriginal, Aborigines in Chains, Apartheid in Australia, Australia, Australia's abuse of human rights, Boong, Coon, Human Rights, Indigenous, Nigger, Racism, racism in australia, Reconciliation, Slavery in Australia, What Oprah should know, What the Australian Tourism Commission won't tell you | Tagged: | 19 Comments »

How Colouring is making a difference in Domestic Violence Shelters

Posted by carolom on June 21, 2016

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 Coloring 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 Coloring 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, Carol Omer, Community, Creativity, Domestic Violence, feminism, Healing, Patterns | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »