This blog post is dedicated to an exhibition that is launching this coming Saturday night in Bendigo, Victoria at the Viewpoint Handmade Gallery.   What is special about this exhibition?  It is called “Community, an exhibition exploring themes of belonging and connection”. I just love this theme, considering that I am kind of new to my chosen community of Ballarat and am really enjoying the connections I am making in my new town and also the way that myself, my family and my new little business Creative Conversation are being embraced here.  And, frankly, I’m  just a little bit obsessed with the importance of creative people connecting and finding their place within the world!

This exhibition features artists and makers the attended the inaugural Big Hearted Business Conference this year, hosted by the wonderful Clare Bowditch.  Just in case you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard about this conference, it was just a wee bit TOTALLY FREAKIN AWESOME!  It’s had loads of press and Clare’s wish to encourage others to “Do what you love, make money, save the world” resonated with every single person of the odd 250 people that were lucky enough to attended that event, myself included.  Lives were changed and many a creative enterprise was born.

When I attended the conference I was three weeks out of my second shoulder surgery in five years.  I had a 20 month old and a 4 month old at home and a business, manquedesign.com.au which was ‘on ice’ while I was taking some maternity leave.  I was so excited to be at the conference and a few of my dearest friends were there also.   And I was so excited to be having some ‘me’ time, when my life was so completely taken up with kids and managing chronic pain.

Something in me ‘knew’ that I was meant to be there, and I didn’t know what for, but as the weekend and time after the conference unfolded, it became extremely clear to me.

On the first day, when they were passing around mikes and asking people to share, I ended up speaking, a bit of tearful mess (violins please!), on how extremely grateful I was that there was FINALLY a movement starting to take shape that addressed creating businesses in a more soulful and heartfelt way.  In my 13 years with Manque Design I had craved exactly what was going on at this conference.  But the creation of my successful fashion label had been such a lonely experience that had stressed me in ways that finally manifested in the breakdown of my shoulders (like I was literally carrying the weight of the world on them!).  I cried as I spoke about this, even dear Clare cried, because I really think she understood what I was talking about- the pain of trying to shove a round peg (aka me) into a square hole (aka the business world). And thus something opened in my heart toward my future that I have run with.

I wasn’t sure what that was until the next day when we were asked to split off in our industry specific groups.  I discovered that I had no interest going with the ‘fashion’ people.  I wanted to go with the ‘coaching and consulting’ people.  I also had another light bulb moment that day and scribbled the words ‘Creative Conversation’ on the bottom of my notepad.

I had completed a coaching and facilitation qualification before I had my kids and had began had began a coaching practice before I moved away from Melbourne and entered the foggy haze of having two children in two years.  I knew this was the direction that I wanted to move to eventually, but at the Big Hearted Business Conference, a fire was lighted in me that could not be ignored.

I came home and started working on my new business idea, and I noticed that as I did so, a miracle happened- I was not in pain anymore!  So I just kept working and working and working and 8 months later, this past Sunday, I presented my first Creative Conversation Workshop- Holistic Business Mapping- Business planning especially for creative people.  It was such an amazing experience.  And the thing that made me most happy was that I could see in the eyes of some of the participants that same fire that was lit in me eight months before.

So in honour of that very special experience I, along with a few other bloggers (you can check them out below) who also attended that event, decided to share in our blogs what happened for us on that that very special weekend.  I’d like to raise a glass to Clare Bowditch who is using her powers for super-dooper good and encouraging her fellow creatives to carve a heartfelt and profitable path for themselves out there in the business world.  In fact, I think its fair to say, she’s started a movement in this fair land of ours.

And here’s to Jess Cola of Viewpoint Handmade Gallery for her beautiful exhibition celebrating the artistic talents of our beloved BHB alumni.  Check it out from 30th Nov until 13 December at 13 Viewpoint Road, Bendigo, Victoria.

If you’d like to check out some other incredible stories of how the Big Hearted Business Conference changed lives, please check out the following blogs:

Caitlin McGrath: http://caituna.wordpress.com/

Martine Zajacek: http://viewsfromtheredbrickroad.wordpress.com/

Maria Harding: http://stencilportraits.com.au/blog/

Talina Edwards: http://talinaedwards.com/

Romy Sai Zunde: http://romysaizunde.com