rainbow chasers: Carly Stephan

Oh goodness me, I am pretty darn excited to introduce you to this week's rainbow chaser - because she's only one of my favourite people on the planet in the history of ever. Lovely readers, it's time you meet Carly Stephan. 

Carly is an omni-passionate international aid and development project manager and writer. She works on projects in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on cultivating sustainable livelihoods, the empowerment of women, community enterprise, local market development and positive social change. Carly also has a beautiful blog, Pockets of Peace, where you will find spirited musings on peace, wellness and living an inspired life.

We met via the Interwebs a couple of years back, when Carly approached me to work on her blog's branding. It was the week that I moved to London, and although right at that time our distance was literally a world apart, it was clear from the first email that this lady was MY type of person. We promptly kicked off a 'long distance' friendship, which soon led to working on a beautiful collaborative project - the Pockets of Peace manifesto (all sold out now, but we have a handful of greeting cards + gift tags still available!)

Carly and I finally met in real life just a couple of months ago, when we road tripped from Brisbane to Byron Bay, and it was one of the most nourishing, healing, joy-filled weeks of my life. I know we're going to have many soul-sister, free-spirited, sun-drenched adventures to come (like, literally - i'm hopping on a plane for our next adventure in just over a week!)

Soak up these beautiful, insightful, spirit-centred words from Carly below. It's absolutely soul nourishing stuff.

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+ Let's jump right in. In one sentence, what is your raison d'etre? (your purpose, or reason to be)?

To cultivate love, peace, joy and light within myself and beam it out in to the world – and enable others to do the same, if they so wish.

+ How did you come to be where you are right now?

I’ve always had an interest in international affairs, combined with a strong sense of social justice and compassion for anyone in need of assistance. I remember feeling a sense of ‘there but for the grace of god go I’, when I watched people on the other side of the world living in war-torn countries or experiencing genocide and starvation. I was compelled to assist with both alleviating some of the planet’s pain, and also bring as much light to it as possible. I remember feeling it ‘wasn’t fair’ that depending on where you were born, (or the circumstances within which you were born) could largely dictate your relative wellbeing on earth.

It wasn’t until I both studied and taught ethics at university that I realised this perspective is actually enshrined in John Rawls’ theory of distributive justice and the ‘veil of ignorance’ – which basically asks you to consider morality from behind the veil, (so hypothetically, before you’re born): if you had no idea what position in society, fortune, or distribution of natural assets, resources and abilities you were to have – what would be just and fair? Would you consent to locking up refugees in mandatory detention, if it’s you who ends up being the refugee?

This concept has guided my work in international aid and community development for many years now, and keeps both my passion and compassion burning strong. My work has seen me travel to Eastern Africa, South East Asia, and throughout the Pacific region, and I’ve worked on many amazing projects in that time.

My other loves – writing and exploring spirituality and wellness have been pretty much life long passions. I remember being obsessed with fairies, feng shui, energy and crystals from a very young age. I launched Pockets of Peace a couple of years ago to share my thoughts on all things personal wellness, soul, spirit and leading heart-led life. It’s been the RADDEST journey of my life so far, as it’s led me to explore realms within (and beyond) me that I probably never would have. It’s also connected me to a veritable army of uber-inspiring women and men, committed to positively contributing to the world and living authentic lives.

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+ Can you paint for me your big, beautiful vision? What are you creating in this lifetime?

I want to work with people who are interested in positively contributing to our world, and adding more light, love and peace to it – however that looks for them. Whether it’s through my community development projects, working with people one-on-one through energy and intuitive work, writing, speaking, sharing, or holding space – I feel my contribution in this lifetime is as a conduit for as much light, love and peace as I can possibly handle!

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+ Stellar life moments :: What’s a happy memory or story that stands out for you, from any time ago?

Any time spent with loved ones having fun, laughing, and sharing love is a happy memory – and I’m so grateful that I have heaps!

One that stands out would definitely be going to Kinfolk Festival in January, hosted by Bec from Soul Sister Circle. It was a divine day full of love, spirited connection, joy and fun. I got to spend time with precious friends (including YOU) and made amazing new connections too, which I’m so very grateful for. I felt like my heart chakra exploded with the yumminess of it all.

+ Talk us through what a typical day in your world might look like.

Wake up at about 6:30am, and the first thing I try and think of is ‘thank you’ for my bed/restful sleep and do a quick gratitude rampage of whatever I can think of. Then I hop up to get about half a litre of warm water (probably with a squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar), head back to bed and sip it slowly. I’ve gotten in to the habit of giving myself a gentle foot massage at this time, which gets me right back in to my body and is a lovely little self care practice. I’ll usually do some stretches, put on some music in the bathroom and move my body in whichever way feels good.

At the moment I’m in the middle of a 40 day Kundalini sadhana practice, so my mornings are a bit different while this is on, as I have to factor in about 30 minutes or so of a full kriya practice – comprising of various yoga postures, pranayama (breathing exercises), chanting and meditation. It’s a revolutionary practice, but it does take some dedication and discipline to get through every day. But I’m committed – if I miss one day, I have to start at the beginning again!

I work full time in an office, so I’ll head in there and work on a variety of things – project management and implementation work, skype meetings, face-to-face meetings, workshops, emails, research, event organising, proposal writing, business development – whatever the order of the day is really!

After work, if I don’t have a function to go to, I’m either hanging with loved ones, heading to yoga, going for a walk/run, dancing, or I’ll take my time with cooking dinner – I love cooking and experimenting with recipes, so I’ll pop on some music, or an inspiring YouTube vid/podcast, and get to playing around in my kitchen.

Lights are out at about 10pm usually, after quiet time - which is usually reading or writing. I rarely watch TV, unless it’s one of my fave shows (which I usually watch on the ‘net). I do some kind of medi or gratitude practice in the evening too, and try my darndest to fall asleep with positive thoughts and feelings running through my body.

+ And when you’re not doing any of the above, where can we find you?

Reading on a beautiful Queensland beach, eating delicious food somewhere, meditating quietly in my living room or in nature, dancing wildly at No Lights No Lycra or my Samba No Pe class, laughing hysterically with my friends, and spending quality time with my loved ones (probably also while eating…).

+ Down time, and the work vs. life balance deal. How does this vibe with you? How do you make it all work?

I’m totally down with balancing things in our lives, but I feel like that balance doesn’t necessarily need to be delineated along the lines of work versus life, if that makes sense. For me, work and life are so intermingled – I prefer to see it as times when I’m in my yang/masculine/doing nature, versus time when I’m in my yin, feminine, receiving nature. This balance is more important to me than the ‘work/life’ one. There may be some days where my work is quite yin (writing time, for example), and I may feel like balancing that with an evening of ‘getting stuff done’ – house related activities, or anything on my ‘to-do’ list.

I’ve pretty well honed my ability to sense what I need in order to perform optimally, and I think this helps prevent burnout!

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+ The creative process. What’s yours? How do rituals help you tap into your creative muse?

Ha, it’s less of a process and more of a ‘let’s see what comes’ game. I’m getting in to the habit of letting action beget inspiration, rather than waiting for inspiration to cause action – something I still struggle with a bit, but it’s getting better! I find that using a focus technique I learnt from Alex Franzen helps: set a timer for just three minutes and start writing something, anything – it could be a letter or just ideas around a topic. Before you know it, you’re on to a thread of an idea and behold – the muse has arrived! - then the timer is up. You then reset the timer for three minutes and focus for a little while longer. It’s amazing how much you can get down in just three minute blocks!

I also tend to jot down ideas as they come – I have many ideas on post its! When I feel called to expand on one of them, I’ll feel in to what wants to come through and I’ll start writing.

I also find that creatively ‘cross-training’ really helps my creative muse arrive, and leaves me feeling really juiced. So I also make a point of painting, drawing, dancing, cooking, singing, styling my home, collaborating with other creatives – anything that makes me feel good while in creator mode is awesome.

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+ When you are creating, what is non-negotiable?

A comfortable place to sit, tools to enable focus (e.g. headphones), usually a crystal or two somewhere close. Phone out of reach, tea within reach.

+ Music, or no music, while you create? Whether yes or no, what are you listening to at this very moment?

Ooh, I’m a big music-while-creating person. I wrote my entire honours thesis listening to Moby’s Play album on repeat (that’s a one year writing process!). And yes, I still love the album.

At the moment I’m loving my Divine and Sacred playlist on Spotify that has a whole heap of awesome spirit-stirring tracks by Snatam Kaur, Craig Pruess + Ananda, Erin Breech, Jai-Jagdeesh and Mirabai Ceiba.

I’m also loving Sia, George Ezra, James Bay, Lorde, Chet Faker, London Grammar, Peking Duk and Vance Joy.

+ Highlights and radical moments :: what has been your most rewarding creation to date, and why?

My two theses definitely rate a mention (Honours and Masters); they were some both some serious labours of love (and pain)!

Of all the community development projects I’ve worked on in the last 10 or so years, my women’s empowerment projects based in the Pacific have been most rewarding. Seeing women light up in their capacity as social change-makers and hearing how they’ve gone on to impact their communities far and wide is hugely rewarding and completely thrills me.

And creatively – launching my blog two years ago was momentous for me! And our Pockets of Peace and Emma Kate Co collab also features as a highlight! Seeing a combination of my words and your deliriously delightful art beam itself out to many corners of our globe, bringing joy, peace and love is hugely rewarding.

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+ What would you tell your five year-ago self?

Strap yourself in, baby, you are in the process of becoming – and it’s the most amazing thing you’ve done in your life so far. (And, IT’S ALL GOOD.)

+ Who do you look to for inspiration? Or, who madly lights you up + makes you want to chase down your dreams?

Anyone who has found their dharma (soul purpose) and is expressing it in our world. People who stand in and express their truth and shine their light with compassion and kindness absolutely, madly light me up. Specifically, people like: Alexandra Franzen, Danielle LaPorte, Leo Babauta, Gabby Bernstein, Charis Melina Brown, Malala Yousafzai, Elizabeth Gilbert, Teal Swan, Pema Chodron, the Dalai Lama.

I also have a band of soul sisters (you know who you are) in real life and around the world that are lighting the universe up like a Christmas tree. They inspire me immensely.

+ Self-doubt, resistance, creative dry spells. How do you handle these?

Self-inquiry and energy work. If I’m ever in some kind of funk, I’ll journal it out, sit with what’s going on within and witness it. Then I’ll call on some kind of energy healing modality, or run my energy field myself (I do this using thought and feeling). Whether it’s reiki, chakra cleansing, acupuncture, massage, kinesiology, kundalini yoga – energy work is my salve.

Oh, and also usually some super honest and earnest conversations with mentors and good friends!

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+ If you were to hop on a plane tomorrow, where would you go? And why?

South America – because I haven’t been! I have a secret (now not so) hankering to dance at Carnevale in Rio one day. I’d love to go to Machu Picchu in Peru, the Salt Flats of Bolivia, Iguazu Falls, Patagonia in Argentina. I’d also hop on a boat from Ecuador and do the Galapagos Islands while I’m at it!

+ What can we expect from you next? What dreams are in the pipeline?

My community development work schedule is full of exciting and interesting project plans, I have my project on the ground in Fiji working in two communities implementing a strengths-based approach to community enterprise, with plans to expand on this more broadly in Fiji and maybe the Pacific more broadly. Combined with a number of local Australian based social change activities, writing projects, and research – there’s a lot in the pipeline!

I also have quite a few plans up my sleeve for expanding my blog, my outreach and my offerings in this world. All are in embryonic stage at the moment, so stay tuned!

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I N   A   N U T S H E L L:
{finish these sentences}

+ Right now, I feel... blessed. 

+ I believe in… thoughts creating things.

+ Secretly, I wish… I could still do the splits (I’m going to do it again, one day!)

+ I'll always remember the day when... I bought my first home.

+ I couldn't live without... love.

+ The best advice I’ve been given is… be responsible for the energy you bring.

L O C A L   T O   G L O B A L:

+ Where do you call home?

Brisbane, Australia.

+ What’s the best kept secret of your home town or city?

I could tell you, but then I’d have to… nah… There are so many, really. Cheap and awesome remedial massages with Ro at How We Move, West End. Fantastic body products that actually work at Handmade Naturals, Highgate Hill; great organic products and produce at Marcia’s Organics, West End; amazing Kundalini yoga with Sam Lindsey-German at Yoga Bones, Paddington; delicious locally sourced food at Wild Canary Café in the Brookfield Garden Centre.

+ Fave café/restaurant/hang spot?

Blackstar, Plenty or West End Coffee House (all in West End!).

+ Why should someone make the trip?

Brisbane and South East Queensland in general is just humming with high vibes (and high vibin’ people) at the moment, and it just keeps growing. It’s become a vortex of amazingness for people tuning in to their own wellness, spirit, and soul. Can’t you feel the pull? Come and experience it for yourself!

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Last but not least, where can we find you, online?



+ TWITTER @carlystephan

INSTAGRAM @carlystephan

Well. Are you feeling way lit up? What a gorgeous soul and divine human - seriously. Leave some love for Carly in the comments below, won't you? x


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As you were, lovely.
EKCo. x

Gravatar for Jessica Wright
Jessica Wright April 7, 2015 at 11:29 pm

I love these interview series! So inspiring and so lovely to get to know these inspiring people!

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Thank you SO much gorgeous! x

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Gravatar for Sonia from Sonia Styling
Sonia from Sonia Styling April 7, 2015 at 4:52 pm

I can totally see why you adore Carly so much - her words radiate love and positive energy. An amazing person to be around, I have no doubt. x

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm

She is indeed! As are YOU. xx

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Gravatar for Sarah
Sarah March 27, 2015 at 4:30 pm

This is a wonderful interview - very inspiring. I'm studying Social Work at the moment and starting to grow/realise my potential and passion for social change/justice, and this is very inspiring for me to read, as it's the kind of work I'd love to be involved in one day. I hope I'll get to know more about projects you're running Carly.

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm

I wish you all the best on your path, Sarah! I'm glad that you enjoyed this interview x

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Gravatar for Emma
Emma March 25, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Bless! Loved this little insight into you, Carly <3

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Emma! x

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Gravatar for Amy ~ OtherWiseLiving
Amy ~ OtherWiseLiving March 25, 2015 at 8:26 pm

This was so inspiring to read! I really admire Carly and get the best vibe from everything she puts out into the "blogosphere!" So genuine, compassionate and beautiful. Thank you for a wonderful read full of substance Emma Kate! xox

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Thank you for stopping by, Amy! I completely agree - Carly puts such beauty + authenticity into the blogosphere indeed.
Big love

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Gravatar for Ezzie
Ezzie March 24, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Now I can see why @emmakateco said we need to meet! Lovely to read your story, Carly, and thank you for all the work you do in the world. xox Ezzie

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Isn't she gorgeous? As are you! x

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Gravatar for Carly {Pockets of Peace}
Carly {Pockets of Peace} March 25, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Thanks so much, Ezzie! Hope to connect with you in real life soon - when the stars align! C xox

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