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Seriously Optimistic Online Newsletter IR Home

In this volume... • Girltopia workshop

•B  aby Strengths launch • Book reviews •T  op 5 list


Volume 45 - May 2011


Why feeling sad is no reason not to be happy

‘We finite creatures with an infinite spirit are born to suffer and to rejoice. One might almost say that the chosen few receive their joy through pain.’ Beethoven What are the gifts of sadness? To contribute to SOON Sadness can be a potent time for reflection, a email us at: call for down-time and retreat, a sign of transiHow can we learn to navigate sad times more skilfully? tion, a force for change in how we do things, a time for taking stock and discovering the gentle art of being quiet and alone. Sadness can help What are the differences between sadness us heed our soul’s and depression? longing for greater wholeness and cons ’ We humans are capable of experike . Lu St nection, it can teach encing great joy, and we are also us to listen, slow us visited by the sadness of difficulty and loss. Sadness may come right on cue or it down, soften our hard edges, help may arrive when you least expect it. Whatever us to let go, and the circumstances, sadness is a much maligned sharpen our intenemotion. Often our first reaction is fear and 137 McCrae St tion and purpose. panic. We think it means something has gone Bendigo 3550 Australia And it is a time for wrong and our knee-jerk reaction is to mask it and try to get rid of it as soon as possible. We honing our ability want people to move out of it quickly, especially to notice the tiny moments of upliftyoung people; ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Buck up!’ we phone: (03) 5442 0500 ment that sparkle RRP: $24.95. Code: 9083 may say. fax: (03) 5442 0555 throughout the day. international (+61 3) As a society we have a growing tendency to think that sadness is depression and this leads us to reach for medical solutions. While depression go to IR home page is a serious and wide-spread illness that deserves professional care, sadness is not depression. It is a natural response to loss and disappointment. Innovatice Resources is offering a one-day However, in recoiling from our sadness too workshop called ‘The Uses of Sadness’ in Bendquickly we lose the opportunity to experience igo in June 2011. This workshop is for counselthe gifts that sadness can bring. What if we decided to move closer to our sadness? What if we lors, therapists, social workers, psychologists, parents, welfare workers, youth became curious about it? Rather than trying to banish it, what if we decided to remain present as it evolves within us, noticing how it subtly changes and following its lead?

The Uses of Sadness Workshop

The Uses of Sadness workshop

workers, teachers, mental health workers ... and for anyone wanting to enhance their skills in navigating difficult times. Participants will take away a range of creative ideas and activities that are immediately applicable with their clients, students, families, and in their personal lives. Using creative writing and journalling, images, quotes, conversations, music, and other hands-on tools and activities, this workshop aims to enhance our capacity to transmute sadness using the seven-phase cycle of ‘soulful melancholy’ explored in Karen Masman’s book The Uses of Sadness. In this workshop participants will explore: • some differences between depression and sadness • •

the use of language in reframing our experience of sadness, including reclaiming ‘lost’ English words, and poignant words from other languages all seven phases in the ‘cycle of soulful melancholy’, and suggested activities appropriate to each phase

• the gifts, opportunities and insights that may be gathered from sad times •

a range of creative writing and journalling techniques including lists, sentence starters, poems, character dialogue, and stories

• the ‘liminal space’ of transitions and ‘not knowing’ • The skills of naming, questioning, listening, and noticing turning points • •

‘Janusian’ thinking (the ability to hold contradictions) ‘soulfulness’, and their link to creativity Self-care during sad times

• Our role as the meaning-makers in our lives

The Facilitator: Karen Masman Karen has a masters degree in linguistics and literature, a Diploma of Teaching and a Diploma of Counselling Psychology. She has worked at St Luke’s for over 10 years, as the managing editor of their publishing arm, Innovative Resources, and in projects for foster care, and youth and family services. She has been involved in creating over 30 strengths-based books and card sets for counsellors, social workers and educators, including editing St Luke’s seminal book on strengths-based practice The Strengths Approach. She has facilitated workshops using hands-on resources and therapeutic writing techniques for a wide variety of organisations including Relationships Australia, Open Place, The Australian College of Psychological Medicine and the Otago Medical School of General Practice. Karen is the author of the book The Uses of Sadness: why feeling sad is no reason not to be happy (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2009)

‘Sadness can help us heed our soul’s longing for greater wholeness.’ The Venue: Spa Eleven Spa Eleven at 11 Forest Street, Bendigo is a beautiful inner city day spa with conference and accommodation facilities, and organic catering. A discount on spa services will be available for people attending the workshop. Join us for some for some seriously good learning and luxuriating. For more information about the Uses of Sadness workshop or to register phone Andrea at Innovative Resources on (03) 5442-0500 or email Andrea at Alternatively, click on the following link A4_2011.pdf

Girltopia workshop

Charting a healthy path for girls Author, educator and social worker, Jane Bennett, will facilitate a highly interactive two-day workshop in Bendigo this month for anyone who works or lives with girls or young women, including youth workers, teachers, counsellors, welfare workers and parents.

Also the author of A Blessing Not a Curse (Sally Milner Publishing, 2002) and co-author of The Pill: Are you sure it’s for you? (Allen and Unwin, 2008), Jane says the workshop is for anyone wishing to explore important foundations in a woman’s journey to maturity and empowerment – no matter what her age. The two-day Girltopia workshop will use storytelling, small and large group conversations, quotes, multimedia, a range of beautiful hands-on tools, and creative arts techniques including writing and journaling to help participants explore topics including: • • • • • • • •

Titled ‘Girltopia – working with girls to create healthy transitions through puberty and adolescence’, this innovative workshop will be held in Bendigo on May 30-31. Jane, the author of Girltopia (a set of cards created for building conversations with girls from age 10) has more than 30 years experience working in health and social services and says ‘real’ conversations are crucial in helping girls grow into womanhood with a “positive, celebrated and healthy sense’’ of both their identity and their body. “Puberty and adolescence is an important transition for any girl, a time of emerging female identity and potential empowerment. A time when genuine understanding of a girl’s changing body and her emerging values, goals, skills and patterns of relationship can be greatly supported and celebrated by the adults around her,’’ says Jane.

Menarche (first period) Cultural attitudes to menstruation and the female body Body image and its connection to self-esteem A range of conversational techniques such as images, metaphor and questions Tools and resources such as card sets and puppets created especially for girls and women Introducing girls to their cycle and how to chart it Self-care and strategies for easing anxiety, and Goal-setting strategies for girls and women.

The upcoming workshop follows the publication earlier this year of the successful Girltopia card set. “In writing the Girltopia cards I wanted to enable conversation and contemplation about as many aspects of girls’ lives as possible, the great stuff, the fun stuff, the stories, the strengths, as well as the difficult challenging things,’’ says Jane. The ‘Girltopia – working with girls to create healthy transitions through puberty and adolescence’ workshop costs $396 and includes morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch each day. Workshop sessions start at 9.30am and finish at 4pm. To register contact Andrea at Innovative Resources in Bendigo on 5442-0500 or email

Q&A with designer Robyn Spicer CASTLEMAINE artist Robyn Spicer can’t remember a time when art and creativity haven’t been part of her life. Growing up during the 1950s, Robyn says her family didn’t have a television. Instead, Robyn used her time imaginatively and spent hours copying beautiful illustrations from old books and comics. “I can’t remember not drawing,’’ says Robyn. “I was very open to any forms of art and I still am. I love the old masters and modern animation as well as everything in between. I like to create small animations, for fun. I hadn’t thought about it till now, but I haven’t grown up much!’’ Today, Robyn is a busy and enthusiastic freelance graphic designer and illustrator whose artistic talent knows no bounds! Robyn’s wonderfully inspired art and design work have appeared in the card sets Note to Self, What Works and Girltopia, all published by Innovative Resources. SOON took some time recently to ask Robyn about her work on Girltopia, and her life as an artist . . . Hello Robyn. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us . . . to begin, would you mind explaining the process behind the creation of the Girltopia images? Not at all, I had some Japanese papers that I was saving for the right project and Girltopia seemed perfect. So I gave collage a go. I got out the scissors; it was quite fiddly and primitive, and relaxing. After making the images on card, I then scanned them. Then I sent my scans of young ladies and plants and animals to Innovative Resources as an idea for Girltopia. As it happened, [Innovative Resources] loved them and thought they would work. I then made new compositions for each card using the scans of the original paper images. Illustrations are only good if they serve their purpose. Some projects require rethinking and rethinking but Girltopia came quite quickly, maybe because of the subject matter. The process required lots of collaboration with Jane Bennett, Girltopia’s author and Karen Masman, editor and project manager. This was a delight as we had wonderful discussions. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Which Girltopia card or cards do you find most intriguing and why? It depends on my mood. At the moment I like the girl in the hammock best – I need a rest. How would you describe the style of your artwork in Girltopia? The images are bright, fresh and funky, and not too slick. How did you develop this style? By just playing. Innovative Resources is a publisher of conversationbuilding materials that can help people of all ages talk about what’s important to them. IR’s publications also encapsulate St Luke’s strengths-based philosophy. Which words describe some of your strengths as an artist? Oh! Most of all I like to play with images. I will give anything a go and I like the challenge of problem-solving. I discard things quickly if they don’t work, sometimes too quickly! Where do you find creative inspiration? I have a stash of interesting images from books and cards in a box and I put them away for a rainy day. I sometimes take an image and reproduce something similar, then mix it with something entirely different and basically play with it until it is something new and fresh. I love making something original.

Q&A with designer Robyn Spicer Would you mind sharing with us some of your history as an artist? I worked as a special education teacher with preschoolers for nearly 20 years. Teaching kids is very creative and fun. During that time, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book Oopsie the Witch, which was published by Five Mile Press. I have taken lots of short art classes; painting, drawing, oils and charcoal, and I draw and doodle in my spare time. I find it almost meditative. When I go on holidays, I sometimes search out an art class. There is always something new to learn. The art world has enriched my life beyond measure. In my 50s I had a career change and went to university to study graphic design. I had to learn how to turn the computer on, I was such a dinosaur. I felt strangely confident about it though, I realised that I have always seen myself as an image-maker. The course was a turning point for me. My illustration skills were seen as an asset. My honours project was the creation of a children’s pop-up book. After this, I was awarded a mentorship with the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust where I learned about the world of publishing. When I finished university I did some graphic work and worked on my exhibition of computer images, titled Weird Critters, for the Castlemaine Festival. Since then I have been working on lovely projects for IR. These projects require flexibility and variety, and I love working in collaboration with optimistic others. I get to use a range of graphics skills as well as illustration. I didn’t ever think I would be an illustrator because most illustrators seem to have a specific style that identifies them, whereas I try anything. I am very lucky because the IR projects thrive on innovation and that suits me down to the ground. Do you have a particular colour palette with which you prefer to work? Not really, every project has a palette to suit it. The final palette is decided in a collaborative way. I play with every colour in the rainbow, how lucky! Artists have such freedom!

Robyn, right, and Jane Bennett at the launch of Girltopia. Picture courtesy of Bendigo Weekly. A few quick, light-hearted questions to end . . . Favourite shape? A star. Favourite texture? Sand. Favourite artists’ tool? That depends on what I am doing but I do love a fine black pen and a sharp lead pencil. Oooh . . . Favourite fragrance? Lemon-scented gum leaves, mmm . . . Note to Self, written by Gena McLean, designed by Robyn Spicer and published by St Luke’s Innovative Resources. RRP: $44.50. Code: 4750. What Works, written by Kevin Vallence, Russell Deal and Karen Masman, and designed and illustrated by Robyn Spicer. Published by St Luke’s Innovative Resources. RRP: $49.50. Code: 4800. Girltopia, written by Jane Bennett, illustrated and designed by Robyn Spicer and published by St Luke’s Innovative Resources. RRP: $62.50. Code: 4150.

Baby Strengths Launch Interest in Innovative Resources’ Baby Strengths card set continues to grow with more than 60 people recently attending a workshop and launch in Adelaide celebrating this unique resource. Written and illustrated by Adelaide’s Jan Player, Baby Strengths will also feature at the Annual Conference of the International Association of Infant Massage in Sydney later this year. Speakers at the Adelaide launch, held at Relationship’s Australia in Hindmarsh, in early April included Jan, Anglicare South Australia’s Staying Attached Program co-ordinator Jo Press and Innovative Resources’ creative director Russell Deal.

Later this year, Baby Strengths will also feature in a presentation facilitated by Jan and Jo at a special inconference workshop at the Annual Conference of the International Association of Infant Massage. The conference will be held on July 16 and 17 at The Centre, Randwick, Sydney. Keynote speakers include Assoc. Prof. Angela Underdown, who will speak on ‘Interventions to Support Early Relationships: Mechanisms identified within Infant Massage Programs’ and Adj Prof. Stephen Matthey who will speak about ‘Perinatal Depression and Anxiety’. For more information about the conference, visit www.

“The workshop and launch were wonderful,’’ said Russell. “I continue to be inspired by the dedication and professionalism demonstrated by Anglicare South Australia’s Staying Attached Program team.’’ Dr Anne Sved Williams, Director Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, congratulated author Jan Player and officially launched the unique resource which features 25 illustrated cards for building healthy attachment between babies and primary carers. Prior to the launch, Jan and Jo facilitated a creative and interesting workshop in which participants explored ways of using and working with the Baby Strengths cards. Comments made by participants about the Baby Strengths resource included: • • • • • •

“The cards make room for a conversation about what things look like to a parent and what they might look like to a child.’ “The cards will bring awareness to mums of what ‘normal’ is for babies/toddlers.’’ “The cards have a range of statements that resonate with most parents in a range of ways.’’ “Great reframes written on cards.” “I like the way this tool allows the parent to have choice with safe disclosure as well as the ability to direct conversation.’’ “The positive nature of the tool is refresing.’’

Russell Deal, right and Jan Player, below, during the launch

Book Reviews...

‘The Black Book of Colours’

Picture book reviews by Louisa Stuckenschmidt, age 15. The Arrival is not just a picture book; it is a story, a story of a nameless man who encounters amazing things.

The Black Book of Colours was initially designed for blind children but is also intriguing for those who are gifted with sight. Menena Cottin has not written, nor expressed colours by look but by texture, taste and scent. As another important aspect, the authors have also included Braille above the written text. Rosana Faria has illustrated the book in a way that can be seen and felt. Her outstanding lines are detailed, yet simple, providing blind readers with a perfect picture. What makes this book not only for the blind, but others too, is the simple but amazing way Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria have written and illustrated The Black Book of Colours so as to fully engage any reader deeper than just the colour.

The Black Book of Colours, by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria. Published by Walker Books, 2010. RRP: $19.95. Code: 6601.

The Arrival, written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. Published by Lothian, 2006. RRP: $39.99. Code: 6182

‘The Arrival’ Not a single word, apart from the title, is written in this book. Using only pictures it tells the story of a man who travels, meets many different people and from them, learns their stories. Shaun Tan and his extraordinary imagination have created a new world, full of creatures and symbols that each reader will interpret differently.

‘My Name is not Isabella’ Six names, six professions and one girl. Isabella has an amazing imagination and lives the life of six different names inspired by famous women throughout history. One minute she is ‘Annie, the greatest, fastest sharp-shooter who ever was,’ and the next, ‘Rosa, the greatest, bravest activist who ever was’. The outstanding illustrations by Mike Litwin synchronise with the text to create a perfect image.

Without colour and words the story is clear — a man, who leaves his family and home for a new beginning, lives an extraordinary tale; a tale of new people, monsters, friend- Isabella’s teddy features on every ship and family. The illustrations that page which also gives the impression tell this story are breathtaking. Large of the age group this book is aimed and small, they all contribute to the at. Overall, My Name is Not Isabella big picture. The shading techniques is an exceptional picture book which along with the creativity are ingenwill capture your imagination. ious. The Arrival truly gives a clear insight into a world so different to our own. Animals and flowers which don’t exist come alive and add to the already mysterious tale. Each page, each picture makes readers think and open their minds and hearts. Readers can feel the emotions on the character’s face and feel what they do. The big picture is clear but readers are also given smaller details, and will live that man’s life.

My Name is Not Isabella, story by Jennifer Fosberry, pictures by Mike Litwin. Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010. RRP: $27.99. Code: 6655. To place an order for any of these picture books contact Innovative Resources at

Top 5 IR Products List Finding new ways to look at the world can be uplifting, invigorating, and sometimes challenging. Nonetheless, many simple opportunities exist in everyday life that entice us to explore our world from fresh perspectives. Be it choosing a new route to drive or walk to work, choosing to read a novel by an author previously unknown to us or slightly varying our daily routine in order to make life just that little bit less predictable, possibilities to gain new outlooks exist everywhere. This month, the Seriously Optimistic Online Newsletter invites readers to boldly explore 5 intriguing resources which may encourage gentle reflection and help to unearth hidden strengths. Each of the resources listed can be ordered from www. Enjoy!

1. Words. Here are 100 cards, each featuring a single word. These cards are designed to open up conversations about meaning, significance, thoughts, feelings and experiences. Some speak of difficulty and challenge and some of possibilities and dreams. Which words speak to you? Published by Innovative Resources in 2007. RRP: $49.50. Code: 4500.

elf elf to to te note elf notees to no oic note to elf ch y e w da n av ote I h y is a ne my I define to da po




no elf te to elf in

eess tiv succ ec own rsp pe

My life has meaning Reminders for life’s choices

note to elf

By Gena McLean

Illustration and Design by Robyn Spicer

note to elf





gs I feed tim giv p uba r p ock se e to e m y re self pr ese fl rva e tio c n t pr




What’s within my control? What are my choices?

I have choices

How do my choices affect my reality?

© Gena McLean and Innovative Resources.


2. Everyday Goddess. Featuring paintings by Katharina Rapp and a booklet by Karen Masman, the Everyday Goddess card set, designed by Jane Prideaux, dares you to define yourself and find the heroine within. These cards feature a delicious and slightly wicked sense of humour and take a light-hearted but compassionate look at the lives of everyday women and the heroines to be found there. Published by Innovative Resources. RRP $49.50. Code: 2800.

Deep Speak. Anyone who 3. spends time with young people can use Deep Speak, by Geoff Barker and Michelle Lane Jenner, to build rich conversations about some of life’s big questions, and some of the little quirky ones as well. This is an engaging and thought-provoking resource for educators, mental health workers, chaplains, youth workers and anyone employed in the juvenile justice system. Deep Speak is a set of 120 question cards, each one pertinent to the issues that absorb young people as they deal with relationships, identity, emotions, beliefs and values. To get the ball rolling there are also ‘openers’. Published by Innovative Resources. RRP: $59.50. Code: 4200.


4. Note to Self. Gena McLean’s wonderful card set reminds us that we have control over our thoughts and actions; that we have choices and that our lives can be rich with meaning when we feel connected and fulfilled. Note to Self is steeped in the principles of Choice Theory interwoven with components of Reality Therapy. Right questions at the right time are powerful catalysts for change and we all need these reminders to be the best we can be. These cards are for anyone who wants to take effective control of their life, make conscious choices and clarify goals. With more than 70 questions. Note to Self, published by Innovative Resources. RRP: $44.50. Code: 4750.

5. Signposts. How do you build conversations about meaning? Spirituality? Connectedness? Transformation? Here is a set of cards based on original photographs that will inspire exploration of the importance of purpose and belonging in our everyday lives. This tool is not based on a particular theology or philosophy and can be used by people from all backgrounds. Published by Innovative Resources. RRP: $49.50. Code: 3450.

Soon Edition 45  

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