I really enjoy going to conferences, so having the opportunity to attend two in a row was extra special, especially because they were both to do with writing.

The first conference, organised by the Australian Association of Writers’ Programs, was held at Swinburne University in Melbourne. It was a very academic conference, with streams for both academic papers and creative writing.

I was the last speaker for the day. The presentation I gave was about how art therapy has been helpful in overcoming my resistance to break the silence and write about family secrets in my memoir. I showed lots of slides of the work I produced during three art therapy sessions. I also read out parts of a creative writing piece I wrote about my experiences with art therapy. I had some thought provoking questions from the audience and the presentation was well received.

The presentation will be published in a publication produced by the conference organisers.

The next day had me flying to Adelaide for the International Autobiographers’ Association – Asia Pacific chapter’s inaugural conference. It was wonderful to meet so many like minded people there from different parts of Australia, Hawaii, India, Japan and China. Most of the talks I went to were from people talking about memoirs or biographies they were writing. The participants were academics and post-graduate students like myself. Some of the themes included writing about family secrets, pilgrimages, object biography and family history.

I felt so inspired at this conference. It was like coming home.

Once again, I was the last speaker for the day. This time I spoke more about my spiritual journey, and showed slides of me at different stages of my life, as well as some of the art therapy drawings.

The talk stimulated lots of questions and a very worthwhile panel discussion at the end. Some people were obviously moved by my story – they were in tears.

The biggest thing for me was not to be afraid to be me to an audience of strangers, and to speak without reading from my notes. There was a time when I would not have been able to deliver a presentation in this way because of fear of public speaking.

So I’d like to challenge all of you who are reading this. What is holding you back from being more of your Higher Self? What can you do about it? What resources could help you get there? (eg. people, courses, support groups, finding an accountability partner etc). Can you break down your goal(s) into small steps, and go slowly…one step at a time? This is how I’ve often approached the challenges in my life.