Clare McAlaney and Trish McNeill first met in 1983 in Airlie Beach, Far North Queensland. Clare had moved there with her parents from Mt Macedon in December 1982 and that first meeting on the school bus, on the first day of school in Year 11, was to commence a friendship that is now 30 years old.
Here’s their stories, and then, the story of how Bali Soul Journals began its life.
Trish McNeill (nee Pringle)
Clare McAlaney (nee Head)
Images of Clare and Trish in 1983
1983 was a special year, one that has seen many of the friendships continue to this day, even though some have moved away. When we meet up, which is once or twice a year in recent times, we will remark at least three times that we don’t know what happened that year, or why the friendships have endured.
As Trish and I wound our way up the pot-holed road of Nusa Penida, Trish said, “Who would’ve thought – 30 years ago, that we would be doing this?” I smiled and agreed, adding that had we known, it would have been something we would have wished for ourselves.
My dad died in a car accident at the end of 1983. I kept a journal throughout that year, which is perhaps why my memories remain so fresh in my mind. My father died on the 14th of November. On the 15th, I wrote: “I don’t know how much I can write. Is it any use introducing the topic? My father was killed in a car accident yesterday.”
Trish was my backbone through the weeks after his death, sleeping over the first night, sitting with me at the funeral, and walking me out, the last to leave, into the bright November sunlight.
Mum and I moved back to Mt Macedon and I spent the next three decades in Victoria. I travelled throughout Asia, but many times to Bali. Like many Aussies, something kept calling me back. At the end of 2011, my husband Bill and I relocated there permanently.
This was after a decade in the police force, a marriage, no children and moving several times, finally settling in Parkdale with a young step-daughter and Bill, a golden retriever and two cats. I’d rustled up three degrees, one on scholarship, and had a swag of design and writing experience under my belt, plus a career in marketing. I have two step-daughters, both of whom I am very proud and who would most definitely do their mother proud, who passed away some years ago. I have learned more from them than they will ever know.
I’d prosecuted for much of my time in the force, but once I began studying marketing and business law, I knew I needed a more creative role.
From Cadbury to Schaeffer, from Decor to Bolle, it took several years to work out that I was a useless employee. I could set a vision, but had trouble integrating it with the sometimes old-fashioned, rigid or slow ideas of my bosses. So I created my own company. The name was simple. Creatavision. Create. A. Vision. The company sat dormant for two years until necessity saw me pick up my first client. After being stooged by a wayward business owner who had promised me I could purchase the housewares company I was working for, I walked out. That was 2005 and I have never looked back.
In 2007, I came to Bali and began reading Jack Canfield’s book The Success Principles. I diligently wrote notes, underlined paragraphs and wrote my goals. I did the same in 2009 and 2010. But a failed business venture of my husband’s and personal issues all seemed to get in the way. Space needed to be cleared in my life, and fast.
With my husband by my side, we began writing what we wanted. As a couple, and as individuals. I began writing a book, even registered the name. We moved to Bali with the hope that I could begin to get the books out of my head that were starting to line up and pester me while I tried to sleep.
But arriving in Bali was culture shock. Not the Balinese. I was somewhat used to Balinese culture, having travelled here around 50 times since 1988. It was the expat community. So my writing was once again delayed until in August 2012, I bit the bullet and got stuck into it. This would be part of a series that I could apply to numerous countries. Practical advice about safe travel, fun travel, in Bali.
At the beginning of 2013, Bill and I were mugged.
This drew some criticism from a small group of expats. How could I write a book about Bali? They’d been here years, so why did I think I was qualified after only a few months?
But after the mugging, the fire was alight. Being a doer, rather than someone who sits on the sidelines and complains while hoping others will get the job done, I ran an evening to help locals and expats, anyone, learn about how better to protect themselves and to avert being a target of crime. Mind you, I would have done this no matter where I was living. That it was Bali was irrelevant to me! But the knockers knocked and I fell into a black hole, unable to cope with the comments splashed for all to see across Facebook. I almost withdrew completely, almost threw out my dreams and goals. The impact of words is something that is close to me, being a believer in the miracle of water, that it has its own consciousness. And I am all too aware of how adults can bully using the shield of the internet to guard themselves.
My step-niece is a reporter for Channel Nine and rang me, asked if I would do an interview. One expat accused me of going to Channel Nine to sell my story. That made me understand how ridiculous rumours can get, loaded with self-justifications and agendas. My eyes began to open again and I started to recover from the smears. And to get on with the job and focus on what was being created, rather than on a handful of critics.
Once you have appeared on one television show, the media contact you. So, being author of a book on Bali, and now having been on television, Channel Nine called whenever something happened in Bali. They wanted to revisit the mugging. I obliged, feeling that if it helped one person not make the same mistake I had, it would be worth it. Phew, I was totally unprepared for the backlash! “Bali basher!” they cried!
In early May, 2013, I was blessed to attend a retreat with Jack Canfield, author of Chicken soup for the soul and The success principles. It was on my list to meet him, so off I went for almost a week to learn about what I was missing in this jigsaw of goals I had created.
Things began to happen quickly from there. While my book was already published, I felt it missed something integral, but couldn’t put my finger on it.
After the course, I began writing my business plan for the series, and it began to flow. Jack had mentioned that if it contained vignettes of Balinese stories, he would buy it in a heartbeat.
The words gushed out onto the paper (screen!) and Creatavision Publishing began to take a whole new direction. I had found what was missing.
And then, Trish and I connected one day, and Bali Soul Journals was born. The rest, they say, is history.
What a journey.
I do believe that each of us is lucky enough to have a moment in our lives that can turn it around, shake it up and stand it on its head. It can be through something horrific as an accident, a near death experience, or a loved one dying. Or it can be something simple. A spoken word, a piece of music, a beautiful morning or it just may come to you out of the blue.
Mine was a gradual experience, starting with the words of one of my favourite teachers, Mr Oswin. I came from a family of workers, we owned a mango plantation, Mum worked outside the home, Dad did too, and workers we were. When you are a worker, you tend to speak like one, so I grew up thinking that youse were gunna do them things that people always done.
Mr Oswin, my teacher at Cannonvale Primary School, was the first person that changed my thinking. What….what do you mean it is not called Mondee? “No”, he would say patiently, “we don’t say “Mondee”, we say Monday, it is a day not a dee, and that goes for all the days, not just Monday.” He also said, very wisely, that if you sit on cold concrete you will get piles, but that is another story!
I have no problem with people who say the wrong words, I still do too, however what it did mean for me was that outside our small family, there were a world of people that knew more than me, and more importantly, there was more to know…so much more to know.
My story begins with the realisation that there is more, that we are here to learn, to grow, to forgive, to not get messed up in the drama, to accept, to allow, to listen, to give and to serve. Most of all though, we are here to be the best we can be.
How do we measure how good that can be? This has been the question that haunts me lately. How on earth can we sit back and say “Gosh, I have made it to my pinnacle, here I am, this is as good as it gets!”
Now I think that it is what we create, the legacy we can leave and the inspiration that we can not only give, we must be on the lookout to receive inspiration constantly. And a lot of the time we need to get out of our own way to take the first step on the journey.
So here I am in Bali.
Clare has the memory of a writer, and to say the least, I don’t. When Clare and I first met way back then…it was a different time. I can say we were probably just a little naughty, although they did let us in to the pub back then. So, obviously not our fault. (Said very much with tongue in cheek!) It was a year of highs and lows, of joy and heartbreak. It was a year of growing, learning and being teenagers.
I really don’t know who had the worst influence on the other, although I wagged school for the one and only time in that year 11.
I remember collaborating on our art projects, we both loved drawing and the whole process of creating and I guess that is one of the reasons we have ended up here today.
I have 3 beautiful cherubs and a loving husband. All of whom I cherish beyond words, their love and support is wonderful. Having been self employed in our construction company for over 25 years I, like Clare, have trouble working for others. Whilst having the construction company has been great, my passion has always been creating. A few years ago I discovered photography. It is awesome!!
I am truly inspired and in awe of people that despite their hardships, or indeed inspite of their hardships they rise above their circumstance and they create their world. That is what I want to explore, how does one create a world and get the things done, and flourish and prosper and look on the bright side. The other side is being happy with your lot. Contentment. There have been thousands of books written on the subject, and I have read quite a few, now is the time to take some action and explore.
So here I am. xx
Soul Journals Emerges
One day, not long after the course, Trish contacted me to see how it went.
“Great!” I said.
Here’s how the conversation unfolded!
Trish: What was the number one thing that life-shifted for you?
Clare: So what’s happening with your photography? I truly ruly really need someone like you on the team…………………………….My brand plan has “hmm, need someone like Trish McNeill to help here…”