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:: 10 Things I Realised About Creativity When I Went On The Radio (& A Recipe for Corn Chowder)


Yesterday, Rachel Power (author/editor of Motherhood & Creativity), Clare Bowditch and myself were on the radio to talk about juggling parenting and creativity, with a bit of a focus on Rachel’s (great) new book. I love doing radio. There is none of the stress of looking nice and all of the opportunity to talk about things that are important to you. Jon Faine’s program, The Conversation Hour is a bit of a Melbourne institution and I felt very lucky to get a chance to be part of it.

We all got to speak about our own creative lives and the juggle that parenting can be, but as callers and text-ers began airing their views, it became clear that people either understood how important creativity is to humans or… they didn’t. There was much talk of us being idealistic (we’re not) and one person even remarked that children should always come first (perhaps implying that women shouldn’t have creative aspirations at all?!)

Justine Clarke’s partner messaged in, in solidarity. (Later we decided to try to force Justine to have lunch with us). Someone I used to work with messaged in too. #sonice #helloBrendan

Another lady phoned in to talk about just how hard parenting is when your child has a disability. To her, our efforts and juggling were best filed in the ‘first world problem’ basket because not only was her daily experience so difficult, the concept of even contemplating a creative life seemed totally out of reach.

It’s terrible, terrible, terrible that so many people/parents are so isolated. Whether their child has a disability, or there are other issues like low-income, mental health problems, other health problems, relationship issues… the result can be the same. Daily survival becomes the priority and I can understand why hearing us talk about trying to write books or paint or make music whilst still being an adequate/awesome parent seemed like a bit of a slap in the face.

I always learn a lot from experiences like this. When I reflect on how the program went, I think this:

1. Too many people are isolated. There have to be ways to reach out – whether it’s those people finding the strength to ask for and receive some help OR whether it’s us looking for opportunities to lend a hand when people are overwhelmed or alone.

Having a nice life is NOT a luxury. We need to find ways to give marginalised or hidden heroes like yesterday’s lady-who-rang-the-radio more opportunities to do the things they want to do – while still being great parents. And we need to give them a voice, because yesterday showed us that they do not feel (or are not being) heard.

2. Being creative or seeking fulfilment and meaning are not  ‘first world problems’. Everyone deserves to live a full life, whatever that means to them. If we’re not here to make the most of things, what the heck are we here for? Someone? Anyone? Monty Python?!

3. Trying to make things better is not idealistic. It’s pragmatic. If things aren’t working, let’s work out why and fix them. Hoping for more is not a lofty pursuit it’s a vital ingredient in leading a meaningful life.

4. Diminishing others’ experiences because they don’t mirror your own is doing us all a disservice. Surely we want the best for everyone, whatever that means? Better to change the language and talk about the fact that we either don’t understand the experience, are not really that interested or even admit we wish we could have a turn at the thing the others are doing, too.

5. Creativity might not look the same to everyone. Being creative may mean painting a landscape, playing an instrument or writing a book, but it also might mean making creative decisions about how you live your life, taking the time to cook something beautiful, reading a wonderful book and pondering its pages, knocking up an awesome BBQ made from roadside finds, encouraging your kids to make up songs. It comes in many guises and does not always indicate a creator who is covered in glitter and rainbows and grinning beatifically.

6. Creative careers don’t denote entitled, wealthy, misguided or deluded individuals. Nor are they just a hobby. It appears that some people think that is the reality of what creatives do! It’s really not. The panel of 3 creative women not only work super-hard at their chosen pursuit (even if I do say so myself), we still have to pay the rent, cover the bills, look after our families, make ends meet – just as a plumber or PA or accountant or tram driver might.

7. The language around creative pursuits scares some people, while others relish it. Some switch off whilst shouting ‘lefties!’ whilst others pull up a chair and a cup of tea and try to knit a sock.

8. The ideas around making room/time for creativity is a discussion we need to keep having, despite the fact that it makes (some) people cross. There are other discussions too  – around the isolation of many people in our community and around the role of women and why we’re constantly reminded our children are ‘our priority’ (ask any mother if her children are her priority and she’ll look at you weirdly because… DUH! No sh*t, Sherlock. Preaching to the choir!)

9. Most people are supporting the creative arts, even those who say creativity is piffle. You might be poo-pooing the creative ladies on the panel, but you’re singing along to the radio later, you go home and watch a TV series based on a script someone wrote, you’re buying products in packaging designed my someone, you’re booking tickets to a show… HELLO! You’re a creative philanthropist, Buster!

10. If in doubt, make some soup.

Thanks to Rachel and ABC Radio for a great day yesterday. Hopefully the podcast will be up today and you can have a listen. (Or subscribe to The Conversation Hour here).

x Pip

corn chowder two


Corn, Bacon & Potato Chowder

Serves six

2 400g tins of creamed corn
2 400g tins of corn kernels, drained
1kg of peeled, diced potatoes
250g of bacon, diced – omit if you are a vegetarian – it will still be delish!
1 onion, diced
1.5 litres of milk
30g butter
salt and cracked black pepper
optional: parsley to garnish

In a large pot, melt the butter.
Fry off the onion until translucent.
Add the bacon, fry for a minute or so.
Toss in all the other ingredients (except the s&p and parsley).
Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes or until the potato is tender.
(Don’t let it boil madly or it will not be nice!)

Serve with lots of cracked black pepper, salt to taste and some parsley to spruce things up!


  • Reply
    Cath @mybeardedpigeon
    March 26, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    Rachel’s book literally changed my life, when I read it when Marlo (my 8 year old) was a toddler and I have loved it and have since read it many times. I think it is correct to say some people ” get “creative and some don’t. The need to make/ create in whatever way is is not a trivial activity, like you said, our creativity becomes a business that supports our family and pays huge amounts of GST and TAX and raises money for humanitarian organisations, and unites people to create together for a larger cause- how could that possibly be trivial? Of course women put their children first- but sometimes putting my needs first is for their benefit and I know if I have not had time to doodle daydream and create I am a cranky mother! I feel like Rachel’s book gave me permission to do just that and I have done it ever since.

    Also, I often wonder if you 3 were elite sportsmen would people have questions the merit of your sporty pursuits? Would they have seen them as frivolous? I doubt it. Because men are allowed to have time to pursue their interests and it is seen as ok, where as women are made to feel they need to justify any time ” away from their children” this runs so deeply into traditional roles in society. Look at how sport is advertised in comparison to Art??

    People take the creativity of others for granted because they don’t realise how important it is but if we had no art and creativity in the world that what would it look like? How would it be?? what would be the point of BEING ALIVE??
    Can’t wait to listen Pip. X

  • Reply
    Cat @ ThatBettieThing
    March 26, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    Oh wowsers. I have recently come to the conclusion that sometimes people have trouble putting themselves in others shoes. Just because someone lives life differently to the norm, to what works for you or what you think they ought to be doing doesn’t mean that it is wrong for the them. It has taken me 8 long years and 4 children to realise that following pursuits of my own actually makes me a better mother. I’m not doing everything I would like to be doing in a childless world, but I have my own (mostly creative) little projects. These projects – be they online courses, sewing a frock for my daughter or blogging; empowers me, relax me, enlighten me and inspire me. I don’t spend hours chained to the sewing machine, or days tied to the iPad while the kids fend for themselves, but I chose how to spend my time wisely (like now, the kidlets are in bed), or the kids get involved (my 6 year old is busting to start her own blog!!). In return I have more energy, more time, more ideas, more enthusiasm and a whole lotta love to pass onto my family. And I think it is important for the kids to see me doing something I really love too.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 7:33 PM

    Creativity is essential to happiness. It’s a pity that some people don’t realise that. P.S. I agree with all of your points, you’re always spot on.

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 8:07 PM

      Thanks heaps for reading and taking the time to leave me a comment, Nicole. MUCH appreciated! x

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    Thanks for that important post Pip. Creativity is so often misunderstood. Isolation, motherhood and disability-all such important topics to explore. I’m looking forward to listening to the interview. And where would we be without your blog!?

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 8:06 PM

      Thank you so much for reading, Julia. I will be sure to let you know when the podcast is up. x

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    This post is so related to my thoughts of late. I can’t articulate them well (I’ve rewritten this comment a few times) but I just wanted to say thankyou for this post.

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 8:06 PM

      Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment, Shell. x

  • Reply
    Kate Forster
    March 26, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    What about people who don’t have a choice other than creating? Those silent artists who draw intricate doodles in long meetings that are akin to a school detention, or those who decorate their cubicles with whimsy and sunshine in their soul destroying jobs, or those who write poems in the windowless work lunch room?
    The creative person must create or else they cause destruction inside themselves. They burn to tell their stories with whatever their mode of choice demands and if they don’t; either the fire will go out and they become bitter and a little bit dead inside, or they can’t control the flames and one day, they throw in the ordinary and safe life to create the life they want.
    Sometimes it’s not self indulgent but self rescue.
    Ignore the haters, listen to your inner muse and create your life, whatever that means, with whatever means you can.

    • Reply
      March 26, 2015 at 6:47 PM

      So true Kate those meetings would drive me silly and I didn’t bother with the lunch room I’d write at my desk. When I’m out of the office my eyes are always open for that magical photo. Having a camera in the phone helps because you cant always have a SLR with you. But I do keep one in the car because when you are driving you just never know whats going to pop up. Last year I got some amazing photos of the Canola growing on my way home to Geelong on the road just past Werribee, Some amazing photos of foggy paddocks on the Anglesea Road near Freshwater creek. If I didn’t do this Id be half as productive when it comes to work.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 5:30 PM

    An interesting and thought-provoking post. Creativity is so important for quality of life I think, it is always very sad when people aren’t able to have time for this, my heart goes out to the woman with the disabled child. Too many people are in that situation, it’s so hard for them. I’m trying to find time for writing at the moment, and it’s hard to schedule it into a day that is filled with children and home, but I know I’m lucky to be in this situation. Just wish there were more hours in the day! Hopefully I’ll find a routine that works for me soon. Not until after the Easter holidays though… CJ xx

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 8:10 PM

      Honestly, I can’t even begin to imagine the challenges that lady must be facing. All I know is that she brought up a really important, related issue, and that isolation and lack of support are a HUGE problem for many… I think the fallout from that can be pretty fraught… all kinds of trickle-down effects that are not good. It’s blinking awful, really…

  • Reply
    Emily Van Der Molen
    March 26, 2015 at 4:56 PM

    Thank you Pip for saying all the things that have played on my mind after I listened to your (sensational) interview yesterday. We can’t build ourselves up by cutting each other down and it is high time we as a society valued artists more. We are all valuable

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    Pip, I love THIS! I want to give it to my whole family/colleagues/students to read! Raises some great questions about what/how we can help our isolated peers….what happened to the coffee and craft clatches from when we were growing up? Why is creativity not valued as a sanity saver? All the good stuff! Xx

  • Reply
    Jane @ Shady Baker
    March 26, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    Sounds very interesting Pip…off to listen to the podcast right now, thank you x

  • Reply
    Reannon @shewhorambles
    March 26, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    Pip you are such an intelligent woman. I really admire the way you see people & the world x

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 3:37 PM

    I listened to the program yesterday and I have to say, I really hate it when people use the term “first world problems”. I think people who say that come across quite judgmental themselves. I think you nailed it when you said in your post “Diminishing others’ experiences because they don’t mirror your own is doing us all a disservice.” Just because we’re not bringing up children with disabilities does not mean that we don’t have our own struggles with motherhood and trying to do things for ourselves.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 3:34 PM

    Loved this post. I’ve never considered myself creative but looking back I have always been making stuff with yarn or in the kitchen. In the last 3 years my family has been through some really tough stuff, & still moving through it & crafting at the end of the day is what got me through. My head & heart were hurting too much for even my meditation but crochet & knitting gave me that time to be still & forget just for a moment all the bad stuff. I now see the value & importance to me but I still struggle to be open & upfront about my creating as though I’m ashamed of my need to sit & make. Like I should be doing something more worthwhile.
    I’m off to have a listen to your podcast now.

    Cheers Kate

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    I think the callers comments say much more about the type of people listening to a day time radio segment than they do about the women who honestly spoke about their experiences. As I think your reflections say a lot about you Pip – instead of dismissing them as radio call in crazies, you’re doing your very best to understand their world view.

    I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast soon, just as soon as I can find the time in my first world, privileged, over scheduled, working mother lifestyle. I’m hoping to learn plenty about how you do it, and gain some inspiration and ideas for finding more time for my creative practice!

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 7:47 PM

      haha! Thanks for your comment, Natalie. Hopefully they get the podcast up soooooon! It’s taking ages!

      • Reply
        March 26, 2015 at 8:03 PM

        Depending on who is doing the IT work it can take up to four days to load the podcast. When that happens they tend to load up to four at once.

        • Reply
          Meet Me At Mikes
          March 26, 2015 at 8:05 PM

          Thanks for that insight, Patrick. And thanks for listening and commenting too. I am working my way through everyone’s thoughts, slowly but surely. x

          • Patrickc
            March 27, 2015 at 10:15 PM

            Hi Pip, I’ve just checked and the podcast is up. Its Friday night 27/03/2015 at 10pm or so Go to click on radio, select local radio, then select Melbourne, then programs then conversation hour and there it is. Happy listening folks.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 3:19 PM

    Pip, I listened to the program and tweeted whilst you were on.

    The one thing that I found sad listening to the program was indeed the number of people who were isolated by circumstance. be that isolation physical, financial, health what ever it may be. That isolation as you said led some people to diminish the lives of others and view creativity as a luxury. A nice life as a luxury and being undeserved.

    As a keen amateur photographer and writer who doesn’t get to explore that side of my creativity often because I need to work to pay the bills I sort of understand that but also feel that by diminishing we curb our own creativity.

    I feel that this feeling that those who are marginalised by circumstance and who may be receiving some sort of benefit from the community purse or who need some help to get by shouldn’t have a nice life and be grateful for receiving “Tax Payers Money” has really taken over in this country. The theories of the deserving and the undeserving poor and user pays etc started back in the Howard years as a w edge politics argument and have taken over. Things like the “intervention” and Centrelink “Income Management” contribute greatly to this negative attitude.

    As a community we need to foster creativity, support and encourage that creativity because it invigorates community. A community with out creativity becomes grey and filled with automatons leading sterile gray lives. We need to be reinspired by people like yourself who express their creativity. On a social platform we need to look to the Scandinavian countries were this might is right user pays mentality is not their. Where the community cares for each other and encourages individuals to express their creative talents for the good of the entire community.

    Former Victorian Premier “Dick” Hamer truly understood the value of creativity ensuring that the National Gallery and the Arts centre were built. He knew that culture and the arts enlivened the community gave relief to the daily monotony and inspired new thinking.

    Thank you for your participation in the program with Jon yesterday it was an engrossing hour and when it was over I just went and hand a look through my portfolio and emailed a few photos to a friend over seas who missed the South West Coast.

    Thanks and Ciao,


    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 8:15 PM

      It’s a pretty tricky balance, isn’t it? Empathy, openness and understanding whilst trying not to feel dismissed or diminished – especially when the isolation and difficulties someone else is going through are so challenging. I’m not sure of the best response really, except to listen and try to understand… and keep the discussion going.

      Perhaps we all need to be creative scouts – nipping out ahead of the pack when things are a bit cynical and unwaveringly talking about the importance of living a meaningful and good life…

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the discussion and that it sparked some nice reflections and actions!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 3:18 PM


    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 8:16 PM

      Hah! Thanks for giving it a read, Sam! Thank you!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 3:05 PM

    I would literally shrivel up and die if I could not make things. I once tried to go on holidays without taking knitting and had to have a mercy dash to spotlight in Adelaide for some wool and knitting needles. I can’t stop the ideas. I can’t stop the urge. Not that anyone would call what I do “making a living” but I still have aspirations in that direction. I cannot understand people who AREN’T creative. Very suspicious in my book. Potential terrorists I reckon. lol and maybe even liberal voters. (aaaaaaah! )

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 7:42 PM

      I actually can’t NOT pursue creative projects. Even if I work full time on something less creative, I will be cramming stuff in before and after hours. It’s a drive, not a choice, very often. x

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 2:57 PM

    I loved that radio interview, and I got a lot out of listening to it.

    I used to work for an arts organisation trying to raise money through sponsorship and donations and this belittling of the importance of creativity to the community was a common theme in our quest to raise funds. “Who needs it? Give the money to hospitals/sick kids/whales/cancer research.” A big part of my job was to explain the importance of creativity for everyone. It’s a part of being human. I feel sad that people don’t understand this and are are missing out on something that to me, is intrinsically human.

    Such a great, thought provoking post Pip x

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 7:40 PM

      I guess some of us take our creative hankerings for granted, while others think it’s just indulgent piffle. And yet, you don’t catch me telling plumbers or clerks that their way of life is unimportant… I love plumbers and clerks (and others too!) I think those piffle-thinkers might want to rethink their approach…

    • Reply
      Carly Findlay
      March 28, 2015 at 9:39 AM

      What a great comment Michelle! I am an ambassador for Layne Beachley’s Aim for the Stars Foundation – Layne grants young women money to help them achieve success. She made a point last week that fundraising can be hard when there are disadvantaged people that need money, but she wants to support people who are reaching for the stars. Thanks for raising this.

  • Reply
    Dani @ sand has no home
    March 26, 2015 at 2:49 PM

    As the mother of a disabled child, I would be lost without my creativity. It is s terrible thing that people feel isolated, although, as you say, parenting a disabled child is not the only reason that people become isolated, but having an outlet is so vital, and finding the space for that is by no means a first world problem, but a great source of therapy and healing.

    • Reply
      March 26, 2015 at 7:30 PM

      Dani I think you totally hit the nail on the head!

    • Reply
      Meet Me At Mikes
      March 26, 2015 at 7:38 PM

      I don’t have a child with a disability – but I have experienced my own health issues and I know that making things has been so important to riding out those times. It’d be presumptuous of me to recommend creative work to people who are obviously completely disillusioned with their lot, especially when I don’t know them, but I really wanted to! x

  • Reply
    Robyna | The Mummy & The Minx
    March 26, 2015 at 2:12 PM

    I am looking forward to listening to the interview. I wish people would stop trivialising creativity as indulgent and view it as a cornerstone of human experience. I think it has a place in every single person’s life and perhaps even more for those who are struggling. It gives so much solace and so much hope.

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