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I started a course called Creativity, Innovation and Change. The title intrigued me for one, but the idea of collaborating with over 127.000 students world-wide in a sort of social constructivist experiment was what really hooked me.

Sharing and developing creative ideas with people of so diverse circumstances as the head of a university in Denmark, a furniture designer in Mexico, a house wife in USA, a government employee in France, a psychologist in Russia a domestic cleaner in …… well, it has to be interesting, don’t you think?


Here I am in week three, and 127.000 is a lot of people and how we will work together and how many of us will stay is yet to be seen. But the course kicked of f in a flurry of activity, with several of the more outgoing students organizing online meet ups via Google and Linkedin and the university releasing the first set of course materials of exercises and projects.

Step one seemed to be to help each of us find out where we were so to speak. Not in a physical sense of course but in a creative sense.

Through videos and transcripts, we were assured that everyone are creative, based on the fact that we make our own choices and thereby create our own solutions or problems, the main measurable viable being our creative style which could be measured by how innovative we were in these. Strangely enough our level of innovation wasn’t to be tested by any more clever or innovative means than a questionnaire. The questionnaire took minutes to answer and the results arrived back in seconds.

I was delighted to find that I came within the mildly innovative range, a range that most people come within, as was illustrated by the tried and trusted Bell curve at the end of the test.

On the Map

Flushed with pride in my averageness I promptly went on to carry out the next exercise which was concerned with putting me in the picture spiritually; the question being ‘what drives you.’

A lot of people really ran with this exercise, others moaned they had already done that kind of thing before. I have, but I think it makes perfect sense that if you want to make, you need to know exactly where you are now.

Like any kind of project, defining where you are and where you are going; what your objectives are is the recipe for success. But how often when we are lost, when we are unhappy or have a problem to solve, do we take the time to sit down and lay down the facts?

The CIC course again did not come up with an innovative tool, nevertheless the tool they presented to us was perfectly adequate; Mind Mapping. We were encouraged to put what drives us in the middle and up to nine departments of our lives to branch out from that.

Many of the students posted their map on-line for all of us to see, and it was very interesting.

Some people had ‘love’ in the middle, others had ‘me’ and ‘happiness’ one I saw had Nike’s slogan ‘just do it’ and so on. Finally all of us had to choose our position to the course; were we tourists, explores or adventures. A little like in life.

I wonder how you see yourself.

Creativity Innovation and Change is a free on-line Coursera course from Pennsylvania State University led by Dr. Jack V. Matson, Dr. Kathryn W. Jablokow, Dr. Darrell Velegol from Penn State University, the course modules are: Uncovering Your Creative Identity, Character Development, Idea Generation, Idea Evaluation, Creative Collaboration, Research, Metrics, Experimentation ,Synthesis of Creativity, Innovation, and Change.


I have been talking to Lily Byrne; a woman of great talent, with an insatiable appetite for dangerous liaisons and incurable need for speed.

She asked me questions about my new book ‘The Girl from Limerick’, how I wrote it, who is in it, and if it can really all be true.

Check out her page for my reply 😉 :

In celebration of my son’s birthday ‘The Girl from Limerick’ (possibly the next bestseller) will be made available to download for free from 22 June at 12 o’clock to 23 June at 12 o’clock.
Available at Amazon.

ImageHope you enjoy 🙂 and if you do, you will be kind enough to write a review.

Thanking you in advance and happy reading.

Enter that special place in your mind. Unusual, beautiful and relaxing. Enjoy 😉

andrew MeekYou don’t ever ‘get better’, ‘recover’, from mental health ‘issues’ – serious or otherwise; what you do is adapt to them, accept them, that is the ‘trick’ to coming to terms with a new way of living. And it is ‘living’, it is life, just a different one that you perhaps once believed you would lead.

And part of this new paradigm of living is to accept that you will fall back from time to time, but that this is not ‘the end’ and you will not die – because you have been here before, and you survived, and you will survive again, and you will go on, go on living, even thriving.

And with each fall back there will be, in the back of your mind, even in the worst of times, that knowledge that grows just a little each time you fall; that you have been here before and it did not kill you.

This is the ‘trick’ to living: to accept this new paradigm of being.

Accept it, make it a simple thing to accept it: that you will never be ‘normal’, but then again; define ‘normal’? No one is that thing, it’s just that some of us are at a different point along an imaginary line that means we feel the sting of being human that bit more than most.

But we also feel so many other things at a heightened level, and they are there; the ‘highs’, these are the gifts of our ‘condition’. Enjoy them, revel in them, and in time, they will help you realise that you are very lucky to be who you are. You may not feel it today – but it will come. It will come. Hang on, hold on to the world with both hands – there are more of us than you know.

By Andrew Meek author of Code Words: A Poetry Collection on the Theme of Love and Loss and Being and Becoming.

Kathryn Ma with mum and dad

I first met Kathy thirteen years ago in a pub in Brighton UK. She had come over for a few weeks doing a tour visiting friends. We instantly got on and spent a few days together, shopping, laughing and generally having a lovely time. Little did I know that back in Hong Kong my new friend was a celebrity and a regular guest on local radio shows.

We have stayed in contact despite the physical distance and over the years I have learnt that behind that laid back happy-go-lucky demeanour lies a person who is incredibly driven and determined. ‘Hong Kong teaches you not to be lazy and try your best at all times.’ She says and adds : ‘As a woman you have to be even better.’

Kathy makes friends wherever she goes, despite this she is surprised when I asked her to be interviewed for my blog: ‘But why? I’m not very interesting.’ She says’.

Kathy is unusual; she is a Chinese Australian living and working in Hong Kong. She is psychic and a serial entrepreneur and yet she is one of these people who lives her life without a plan, accepting whatever challenges it hands her with gusto and flair.

You may think knowing what the future holds solves a lot of problems, like making the right choices and getting involved with the right people – foresight must be better than hindsight. But she insists that’s not how it works: ‘Psychics are unable to make predictions for their own futures.’ She says and explains: ‘Emotions get in the way, we make mistakes like anyone else.’

In fact it took Kathy a while to realize she could read the future. Not from a psychic background, while growing up she tried to reason she was a good guesser and her anticipations were logical rather than psychic. But after meeting a psychic in her early twenties she gradually realized she had an ability. Despite this she was still at loss to fit it into her life and it was only years later, attending a World Health Expo in San Francisco and meeting working psychics she realized she had to trust her ability and decided to embrace her gift fully. Kathy admits:’ it was a now or never moment.’

Kathy being Kathy not only set about giving personal readings, but quickly got involved with the business community as well, giving readings and strategic advice. ‘I wouldn’t give financial advice. I would convey the intentions of the participants of a meeting and the tone of the meeting itself which obviously went a long way to help good decisions being made.’ She says.

Attending other people’s meeting and reading other people’s lives was not enough for Kathy in the long run. She set up a Mind, Body and Spirit shop (The House of Energy), followed a few years later by a dating online website (DateAsia) and a paid Privilege lifestyle card purveyor in Hong Kong (VivAsia). At this point, much to her amazement she was hailed as one of the major trend setters in HK. ‘I’m not like that!’ She protests: ‘Things capture my interest and inspire me. Then of course comes the challenge to see if I can do it.’ She laughs.

Viewing her success and popularity I have to ask: ‘Why Hong Kong? Why not the world?’

Kathy doesn’t even pause to think: ”In Hong Kong you’ve got total efficiency – it’s amazing what you can get done in a day.’ She explains: ‘ Australia is too laid back and I did have offices in China, but it drove me crazy – it drove everyone crazy. Initiative and responsibility was basically alien to them.’

Hong Kong by Trey

Like Kathy, Hong Kong is full of contrast; densely populated it still has the feel of a village. Its inhabitant driven and demanding yet they are exceptionally friendly, helpful and creative.

Like in most of Asia the extended family in HK is very strong and despite living accommodations in general being very small by western standards it wouldn’t be unusual for a married couple to have one or two grandparents living with them and looking after the children. However there is an emotional and financial need to work.

Kathy driven as she is values her family more than her personal ambitions. You see while HK teaches you not to be lazy and try your best at all times – family always come first.

Kathy’s favorite reads:

1) A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani

2) The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

3) Collins Complete Works of Oscar Wilde

4) There’s A Customer Born Every Minute – P.T.Barnum’s Secrets to Business Success by Joe Vitale

5) Any books by John Sandford or Harlan Cohen – I do love a good crime mystery.

Thank you for reading. If you know anyone who you think should have been interviewed by me, please let me know on Comments are very welcome and so are ratings. 🙂

Carol Bridgestock

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed and look forward to your comments. Please come back next month for another installment of Inspirational Lives and feel free to contact me with your story via my e-mail: Best wishes – Maggi 🙂

All books mentioned in my blog are one click away from the Book Store below.

She is the senior manager of a management consultancy firm, wife, and mother of three children under five. She is thorough, determined and when it comes to human suffering whether it’s anger, deceit, violence or love she is utterly fearless and relentlessly curious. She comes alive between midnight and four in the morning new worlds are created. This was Catrin Collier in the nineteen eighties.

‘The management job was more than a nine to five and so was the family of course, but I had to write.’ She states simply.

After seventeen unpublished books, a number of short stories, articles and plays; three of them which were professionally performed, Catrin finally had a book published in 1989. It was a crime novel. Killing the hero in the first chapter she brought on police officers that were too fat, too thin, too non PC – the title was Without Trace and written under the name Katherine John (the name of her Welsh grand mother).‘I’d received advice from Alex Cordell, I changed the way I wrote and everyone wanted more.’ She recalls.

Catrin went on to write and has published one crime and one historical novel a year.

It was her dream to become a full-time writer and live these stories in her head. But while her husband was one hundred percent supportive and even re-mortgaged the house to buy her first computer, the children now fourteen, thirteen and nine were less sympathetic to Catrin’s need to write.

‘My children knew exactly how and when to wind me up during those years. They’d come in when I was in the middle of a chapter and ask for pocket-money or tell me I cared more for my books than them.’ She laughs.

‘I noticed though, they didn’t mind ‘helping’ with my research whenever I visited fairgrounds and theatres or toured the Rhondda Valleys.’ She adds.

The need to write started at a young age, in fact as soon as she could form words on paper and it has never left Catrin since. Even while in the last two years coping with her fathers Alzheimer’s and mothers Vascular Dementia she ghosted two books and a novelization of a new horror film. ‘I can’t imagine a day without writing – but then I’ve never had one. Perhaps my husband is right, it really is a disease.’

Back again, she is … writing! She’s sitting in the study she calls her ‘cupboard’ with a strong black coffee, spilling the contents of her dreams onto paper as fast as she can. Characters are coming alive on the page as she enters their world completely. ‘The characters are walking around, they are real to me.’ She admits.

The advice Alex Cordell gave her so many years ago was to write what you know. It turned Catrin into a successful author with books translated into Czech, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish and Spanish.

I ask her how her stories relate to her real life.

‘The most personal pieces I have ever written are probably in my books.’ She replies and goes on to admit relationships can be difficult to write about. ‘ If someone really annoyed me I might kill them off in a book and that will be the end of it.’ She adds playfully.

Catrin Colliers favorite reads: H H Munro -Saki, Isabel Allende -House of the Spirits and The Sum of our Days, Cruz Smith -Gorki Park, Kellerman -The Butchers Theatre

Catrin Collier can be found on: 

And here is a list of her books.

As Catrin Collier 21 books: (Historical sagas set in Wales)
A Silver Lining (Orion, 1996)
All that Glitters (Arrow Books, 1996)
Past Remembering (Arrow Books, 1997)
Such Sweet Sorrow (Arrow Books, 1997)
Broken Rainbows (Arrow Books,1998)
Spoils of War (Orion, 2000)
One Blue Moon (Arrow Books, 2001)
Swansea Girls (Orion, 2002)
A Swansea Summer (Orion, 2002)
Hearts of Gold (Arrow Books, 2003)
Homecoming (Orion, 2003)
Beggars & Choosers (Orion, 2004)
Winners & Losers (Orion, 2004)
Sinners & Shadows (Orion, 2004)
Finders & Keepers (Orion, 2005) 
Tiger Bay Blues (Orion, 2006)
Tiger Ragtime (Orion, 2006)
One Last Summer (Orion, 2007)
Magda’s Daughter (Orion, 2008)
Black-Eyed Devils (Quick Reads) (Accent, 2009)
Bobby’s Girl (Allison & Busby, 2011)

As Katherine John 10 Books: (Crime novels)
Without Trace (1990)
Murder of a Dead Man (1992)
By Any Other Name (1996)
The Corpse’s Tale (Accent Press, 2006)
By Any Name (Accent Press, 2006)
Midnight Murders (Accent Press, 2006)
Amber Knight (Accent Press, 2007)
The Black Daffodil(Accent Press,

A Well-Deserved Murder (Accent Press, 2008)
The Destruction of Evidence (Accent Press, 2009)

As Caro French 1 Book: (Modern fiction)
The Farcreek Trilogy (Simon & Schuster, 1995)

As Katherine Hardy 2 Books: (Novelisation of TV productions)
The Grand (Simon & Schuster, 1997)
The Grand II (Simon & Schuster, 1998)

As K A John with James Patterson 1 Book: Bloody Valentine (Arrow Books 2011)

Forty years of life on the street – Coronation Street the epic novel (Granada Ventures Ltd 2003)

*All books are available from the store below.

Thanks for reading this, I hope you enjoyed. Please be my guest and make a comment or ask a question. If you have a story to tell, let me know. I would love to hear from you.


P.S. Extra bonus material for writers – ‘Catrin Collier on writing’. It’s very short but if you like to have it, simply e-mail me. It’s free 😉