Connecting to Humans in Geelong ~ Episode 53 ~ My Conversation with Jacqui Bennett

Connecting to Humans in Geelong 

Mark [0:00] Jacqui Bennett, welcome to the Heart of Connection podcast.  I’m really pleased to be able to have the founder of Humans in Geelong in this conversation.  Humans in Geelong is part of a foundation that’s all around the world.  It was started by Brandon Stanton, who establish Humans of New York.  They probably needed to establish that in New York.  The Humans in Geelong are stories about people putting the humans back into the equation and back into action. The aim of humans in Geelong is to inspire, connect and strengthen our communities.   It’s with real pleasure to be able to welcome you Jacqui to a conversation with yourself.

Jacqui [0:47] Thanks Mark.

Mark [0:48] Jacqui, is there anything I missed out on in the introduction that you’d like to add to and improve?

Jacqui [0:57] No your right.

Connecting to the good news

Jacqui [0:59] We have been sick of all the bad news.   We decided to focus on positive stories. It was amazing when we got started because there are just so many positive stories out there. We still can’t keep up.  You meet one person and hear their story and they might nominate another three or four people.  So we’ve got a long list of people that we want to catch up with tell their stories.  In the aim of hopefully inspiring others to take action and make a difference one way or another.

Mark [1:35] Over the years, we’ve seemed to have lost a bit of humaneness somehow?

Jacqui [1:45] Yes, and you’re bombarded by bad news from all over the world.  So we wanted to par it back and focus on locals and then get the human side.   It’s amazing what you find out about people and about community and the fabric that’s holding up our community when you start doing this.

Mark [2:12] Would that be the unseen fabric that’s holding up that community?

Connecting to others & the flow-on effect

Jacqui [2:16] Yes.   Like someone had invited me, to your group, the World Heart of Connection Day. I thought, oh, connection, you know, our aim is to connect.  You happened to have a meeting that weekend, and I was free and I thought well, I’ll pop along and find out about this.   That’s been really interesting, just tuning up at different things and to meet the group that was there – that is really passionate about what you’re doing.  To be able to connect with you and find out a bit about your story.  Let the people of Geelong know that they can go along on Wednesday, and join together.   Hopefully, I love the whole concept of blanketing Mother Earth in kindness and love and helping her heal that way.

Mark [3:10] Yeah, look at it.  It’s been an incredible shift and an incredible momentum.  It just started by having conversations like this with people like yourself, around the connection to self, others and ‘All That Is.’ When we move into the conversation about the ‘All That Is’ it just deepens and becomes universal in a way.

Jacqui [3:36] It’s good for us to be brought back to that level and to be thinking of those three things. Since you invited me on to have a conversation. It made me think well, what is my connection to self and what’s my connection to others and “All That Is and helped me reconnect.

My reconnection ritual is movement

Mark [3:58] The reconnection with we will disconnect and reconnect, disconnect and reconnect.  Sometimes we need to disconnect to have our own space to recharge.  How do you reconnect to Jacqui?

Jacqui [4:13] Well, my way of recharging is to be active, I’m a mover.  So I’ll dance or I’ll walk or swim.  This time of year, I love getting back into the ocean – for the first time. So in the first swim on Saturday.  I’d learned the trick from a man from Holland, and who I’d met on the beach in England.  It was Easter time and no one had been in the water over there as the Easter time.  He was in the water and I said I’m coming in.   He said well, don’t think about being cold, just relax.  Usually, if I get into freezing water, I jump around, wait to go numb.  He said no, just relax and don’t think about cold and because if you panic, of course, you’re going to fight or flight and all the blood rushes to main organs.  That’s when you get that terrible sensation in your hands and your feet and you can’t warm up afterward.   Whereas going into the water and just being calm and not thinking about it.  You can swim and then you get out and you just feel very refreshed.

Mark [5:31] When you’re very refreshed, what do you notice happens to you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?

Connecting to my ‘mind over matter’

Jacqui [5:39] Well, it’s so wonderful feeling of ‘wow,’ I conquered that mind over matter.   I love the ocean and I love swimming and that’s a real connection for me.

Mark [5:56] When you in connection to the ocean, what happens to the sense of self?

Jacqui [6:05] Feel very calm and relaxed.

Mark [6:07] Do you sometimes feel you’re part of the ocean?

Jacqui [6:11] Yes. It’s like walking on the sand in bare feet.  Feeling the breeze and the sunshine and then immersed in water, you’ve got a wonderful feeling of being part of nature.

Mark [6:27] It sounds powerfully connecting?

Jacqui [6:29] Yeah, it’s a great experience.

Connecting to my aliveness & flow

Mark [6:34] What do you notice that does to your well-being and your connection to yourself?  Does it deepen your connection to yourself?  Does it give you that lift and aliveness to?

Jacqui [6:44] Yes, and you can keep on going then. I find myself in quite a busy space at the moment where we’ve got two major events coming up in the next month.   Originally that seemed like a great idea, we’ll have a book launch this weekend.  Great, get a lot of excitement about the Humans in Geelong Expo which is Sunday, the sixth of October. I hadn’t factored into, organizing two major events and it’s been quite busy.  Working so much and to bring yourself back and go for a swim.  At this time of year when the water is very refreshing, it just calms you down and brings you back to yourself.

Mark [7:40] Is it like centering back into yourself?

Jacqui [7:43] Yes.  When I first started the Humans in Geelong three years ago, my good friend, Angela Grace, the art teacher at school, she could tell that I was getting very excited about it and, and needed a bit of ground.  She’d go, Jacqui go home, take your shoes and socks off, walk on the earth and let yourself become grounded again and that was great advice too.

Finding my passion for good news ~ Humans in Geelong

Mark [8:13] That connection to the passion that you have for Humans in Geelong. Where does that passion take you?

Jacqui [8:22] I’m at a completely different level in my life now than what I’ve been before.

Jacqui [8:31] I always wanted to be a teacher.

Jacqui [8:34] I became a teacher and started teaching Primary School in 1985 and loved it and loved working with kids and families.  Being part of their lives and empowering them with the idea of thinking and inquiring and being inspired.  I’ve had a great life as it, teacher.  Then, almost five years ago, my mother passed away unexpectedly.  She had a stroke in the middle of the night.  She was 78, fit and healthy and her parents had lived till the late 90s.  So we thought we’d have my mother for another 20 years.   She was my rock.  My husband traveled a lot with work and she would always come around and had sleepovers when the kids were little.   She was like my best friend.  To have that happened. It was a real shock.   Then three weeks after that Rob’s dad passed away in the UK.   We found ourselves over there it was winter, we’re there for five weeks supporting his mom. I had lots of time to think.  Winter over there you watch the sun come up and go down in the middle the day.  So that’s what I did set, watch the sunsets and the sunrises – I thought, what is this all about?   Then, I just knew I had to find my purpose.   While being a teacher working with these amazing kids is a great purpose.  I just felt like there was more I had to do, personally.   It took a little while and then it came to me in the middle of the night.  I’d had a week of three lots of bad news, you just have weeks like that sometimes, and I was very depressed and this is miserable.   I’d been following Humans in Melbourne and I really loved the positive stories they told.  I just woke up in the middle of the night and I thought, I’m sick of this bad news, I’m going to focus on positive things and I want to write Humans in Geelong. That’s how it came about and that was just over three years ago.   Initially, I’m thinking I can’t do that on one person. I then talked to my friends, my family, and they all offered to help and they loved the idea and that’s how it started.

I just woke up in the middle of the night and I thought, I'm sick of this bad news, I'm going to focus on positive things and I want to write Humans in Geelong. Click To Tweet

Connecting to my heart’s passion

Mark [11:17] As you’re sharing your passion and purpose. I’m wondering, how much does your heart open up with that passion and purpose?

Jacqui [11:29] Well, as I said, I feel like I’m in a different place than I’ve ever been before. Like, I love a party.  So in my 20s I partied and had lots of fun, well now I’m still partying, but the purpose behind it and finding out all these great things that are happening in our community, and hopefully inspiring others to take action.   We see little things every day that really gives you hope.

Mark [12:04] I’m just curious, how do your passion and purpose affect others as you spending time with them developing and asking them of their story?

Jacqui [12:20] It affirms it for them and people really open up.

Jacqui [12:28] Whenever I get someone’s story, I say to them, look, I’ll send it back to you afterward. Sometimes there are things in there that are off the record.  It’s great that someone feels so comfortable with you, talking about their passion, that they’ll tell you all sorts of things.  Then they know that know what’s going to go and what’s going to be published is what they’ve said or what they want to put out there.

Connecting heart to heart engages others

Mark [12:58] Do they open their hearts to your heart?

Jacqui [13:00] Yes, and they become part of the project.

Jacqui [13:08] With the book launch, we’ve invited the people that we’ve done the stories on.  We’re going to have over 300 of Geelong’s change-makers there.   They are then the ones that are all part of the Expo.  The aim of the Humans in Geelong Expo 2019 is to inspire, connect and strengthen the community and we’ve got exhibitors and speakers and live performances.   We do stories about creativity, sustainability, health and wellness opportunities, cultural diversity.  When you get all those people in the room at the Deakin waterfront, when you get all those people there, it’s electric.  It’s just snowballed from there.  We held the first Expo three years ago, and we’ve got so many new team members from it.  They saw what we were doing was really making a difference and they felt the connection to it and they are like-minded so they’ve come on board.  They have helped and we’ve got an amazing team of inspiring people and we all bounce off each other and, and it’s just fantastic.

Mark [14:20] The sounds like there are so much power and that connection?

Jacqui [14:24] Yes.

Men Connecting through Man Walk

Jacqui [14:28] One of the recent stories was about Chris Lytas who started the Man Walk, Geelong.  Every Saturday morning, they start off at Eastern beach, at the fountain at 7 am.   They have 45-minute walk men only.   The ethos is a walk, talk, and support.  They did one walk and I talked to Chris about his story.  We put it out there, we said please share.  It got shared over 1000 times.  I think they had maybe six or eight on their first walk and a couple of weeks later, they had 26, which was the most of any man walk that has been since it started over a year ago.   Our deputy mayor, Peter Murrihy, goes down every Saturday morning and has a walk.

Mark [15:24] I think the men connection is in through doing.

Jacqui [15:27] Yes and it’s just nice to know that we’ve helped get these people together and let them know that this is happening and their very welcome.

Mark [15:42] Great sounds wonderful.  It’s really wonderful for men to connect like that in doing things.  Men will connect working on motor cars and rather than have that deep connection and they do it in different ways.

Jacqui [16:01] Not everyone’s part of a Sporting Club ball or has got a big family network.  It’s just a great opportunity for men to get out and walk and talk if they want to or just walk.

Mark [16:16] The connection – when you have the Expo and the power of that. How much change do you sense and feel could be garnished by constantly building those communities to empower them in a way?

Connections on all different levels

Jacqui [16:35] It happens in so many different levels, Mark.

Jacqui [16:40] At the Humans in Geelong Expo 2019, we have 45 exhibitors, and they connect amongst each other.  For example, take Bec Picone who runs ‘Peace of Mind’ she’s joined our team as well.   She’s was there each year and Anam Cara offers support to people at the end of life were there.  So, ‘Peace of Mind’ and Anam Cara connect.   We’ve got the general public that comes in and they wander through and they meet, meet the different groups that are exhibiting and then the artists and the creatives and the sustainable options.

Jacqui [17:23] In the courtyard, we’ve got non-stop performances and someone went away last year and said, “wow that was like a mini Pako Festa.  We are seeing women from communities that you don’t see on the streets.  They have come out to watch the little ones dance and they feel it’s a safe space and everyone’s welcome.  There’s something for everyone and that’s a lovely connection then too.

Community Connecting is coming together

Mark [17:54] It’s really moving, isn’t it when the community connects like that to those sorts of opportunities.  I’m wondering whether, in today’s busy day and age, we’re sort of getting on.   I sometimes wonder, in our busy day and age, and I call it the digital Bronx, whether we’re sorta we’re wanting to connect, so we connect through the digital, but we’re disconnecting at that human level, that deep human level?   How much there is a need?   We’re yearning to you know, we set up tribes.   Evolutionary we need to connect.  When you have that deep connection to yourself, and you really in there with the communities?  Does that extend to a broader connection to the ‘All That Is’?

Jacqui [18:46] Yes.

Jacqui [18:50] I’ve always been aware of the environment and the way we’re treating it.  Want to want to see it in a better state than what it is.  I’ve got quite excited by the school strikes for the climate.

Young people leading connection of change

Jacqui [19:11] I’ve been along to those and it’s just great to see all the kids out there who stand up for wanting more action on climate change.  That’s very heartening.  They walked down the street in Geelong.

Mark [19:34] Yes, I’ve seen them walk past the office.  They have their placards, and they’re very young.   They are actually out there doing it and wanting to give a message to the powers that be.   For some reason, we seem to be polarising this issue around climate change. It seems to be very polar.   I’m wondering if we all stop, intellectually polarising it but just come down into our hearts?  Would there be a different sense?  If we become more open-hearted to the need for Mother Earth?

Jacqui [20:08] Yes, I think we’ve got to look at that at all levels, as well as individuals doing as much as we can, but then also we need more action taken from the top.

Mark [20:26] I wonder whether that action from the top will come from communities connecting and bringing that momentum of their connections. Will the top then need to listen and hear what the collective is saying?

Jacqui [20:44] Yes, well, that’s often where the change does come from.  It might start with one or two people and then it builds from there.  I’ve really enjoyed watching Greta Thunberg and what she’s doing.  She’s over in the States at the moment, talking with the UN, and really making a difference and she’s inspired so many students around the world.

Young people evolved & connected

Mark [21:13] They seem to connect differently to the younger generations to the environment, to themselves.  I wonder sometimes whether they’re just by nature of the time of we’re evolving as human beings at some level.   It seems as though these younger people just seem to just have that X-Factor about them?

Jacqui [21:39] Yeah, well, I work with young people. So yes, I see that in, in the kids. You learn a lot from children.

Mark [21:50] Yes, they do – children do connect in incredible ways, don’t they?

Jacqui [21:55] Yes at a lovely level.

Jacqui [22:08] It’s about feeling safe and feeling loved.

Jacqui [22:10] Their thirst for knowledge and for being inspired.

My connection to the growth of students

Mark [22:16] As a teacher to watch that, what happens to your heart when you watch that?

Jacqui [22:23] You watch them grow?

Jacqui [22:24] I see them coming.  They come in at prep and then go through the primary years and then they might come up to you and they’re adults now.  They say hello and it’s really nice to connect that way.  I had one student saw what I was doing with Humans in Geelong.  She message, are you a teacher?  I went Yes.  Yes, I was at Leopold and I taught her.   She said, I remember you – we used to all come up and give you random hugs.  That was my claim to fame at Leopold.  The specialist teachers used to say you’ve got the cuddle??? grade.   I think that was the most important thing.  If the kids felt loved and cared for, the rest will come.

Safe connections of love and care ~ we flourish

Mark [23:15] So they feel loved and cared for they will feel safe.  Which then enables everything to just start shining through.   Without judgment, without ridicule, without criticism. That’s powerful for connection for kids to having in blossoming into adulthood.   In coming back to – when you’re in that ocean.   You dive into the first moment of it.  What happens to your body?  Does your body dissolve into that coldness?  It’s as if you’re then connected to the ocean?   Do all the worries – when you’re in that space to all the worries just disappear?

Jacqui [24:04] Yeah, they evaporate, they disappear.

Mark [24:06] The worries disappear.  So, when you’re in that space, your worries all disappear, all the stress disappears. How would you describe your spiritual well-being when you’re in that zone?

Jacqui [24:21] The best state of spiritual well-being.  Really feel cleansed, and ready for more action?

Mark [24:33] Do you come alive?

Jacqui [24:36] I had to go out dancing that night (laughter).

Re-connecting to my Spiritual Well-being

Mark [24:40] Dance it all out?  How do you come back?  Do you have a reminder inside your mind or inside your body somewhere that – hey, I’m slipping out of that space?  How do you come back to that anchor point of connecting within to your ‘All That Is’?

Jacqui 25:04] If I feel like I’m slipping I’ll stop.  Take a deep breath.  I love being outdoors. I’ll go and go and sit outside in a bit of sunshine and come back that way.   A few years ago, my sister started meditating, and she meditates for a couple of hours each day.   She finds great benefits in that.   I thought, oh, this is really good for her.  I couldn’t sit still as I am a mover.  So I happened to be away on holiday and we always go to the library first up to stock up with some books for us and the kids.   I found a small book called ‘The Fountain of Youth.’  It was about the set of five exercises called the Tibetan five rites. I read it, this sounds good.  I’ll try this.   You just do these five exercises each morning and takes about 10 minutes.  It’s like movement yoga and so I do that each morning.  I’ve been doing that for over six years and I found that that has helped me remain calm and grounded as well.

Practicing my Tibetan 5 rites each morning

Mark [26:26] Meditation doesn’t have to be just sitting.  Sometimes when you’ve dived into that water that can be a meditative process in itself.   A lot of surfers, I was once an amateur surfer and you talk to them.   They say, oh look – out the back sitting here, it cleanses my soul.  For men to be able to sort of say that’s really quite pertinent.  It’s like ‘wow’ how powerful is that?   That need to be cleansed, the clarity that it brings us and the connection that it brings us?

Mark [27:06] If we could somehow bottle that.  What happens to you?  What do you notice happens to your flow state when you’re in that space?

Jacqui [27:21] Everything calms down and I feel at peace.

Mark [27:31] As it calms down and you’re into that flow state?  Is there more clarity and more energy coming through?   More of a crystal clear, creative way?

Jacqui [27:43] Yes.

Jacqui [27:47] As far as creativity goes, I was talking to someone recently about this.  If I go away and I’m just – instead of working full time on the project, doing other things as well.  That’s when creativity kicks back in.  My husband finds it to with his work, that he really needs to switch off for a while before the creativity starts kicking in again.

Our need to stop and connect within

Mark [28:21] I used one of Albert Einstein’s quotes this morning, in the Facebook group – about – he tries 99 times but then it stops and thinks and then the truth comes up.

“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” ~ Albert Einstein

“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” ~ Albert Einstein Click To Tweet

Jacqui [28:32] It’s so true.

Mark [28:34] It’s our intellectual mind trying too hard.  I’m wondering whether our intellectual brain takes us away from our connection sometimes.   Connection is in our emotional brain and in our hearts.  Moving forward, what do you feel and believe might be the answer to improve our connections to Self, Others & ‘All That Is’?

Jacqui [29:04] Being mindful of self and being respectful.  Respectful of yourself and respectful of others and having respect for ‘All That Is’.

Jacqui [29:20] You will hear people walking down the street.  A man at a Probus group I spoke to, said can’t stand walking through Belmont, there’s just rubbish everywhere.  Well, I get out and I talk to groups and talk to the kids and I tell them about take three for the sea.  It was started off by a surfer and his view was, wherever you are just pick up three bits of rubbish.  Then that’s three fewer pieces that are going to be washed into our waterways and end up in our oceans.   We can feel miserable about rubbish being around, or we can take action and do something about it.

Connecting to Live globally ~ act Locally

Mark [30:08] It’s that first step to 1000 miles.   Starting small and locally is a really important part of that connection.  Is there any advice that you would have around connection for young people coming through?

Jacqui [30:30] To just spend time in nature.  Get outdoors, have time down the beach.  Have time in the bush.  Even just go for a walk outside on the street.  I think nature’s really positive with her healing power and her connection power.

Mark [31:01] Yes, she’s there waiting for us to reconnect to her, isn’t she?

Mark [31:08] My sense is there is a movement coming that people are awakening to the need to reconnect and give back to Mother Earth.  A lot of religions have changed and I’m wondering if we could make Mother Earth a new religion – in a beautiful way?   She’s given to us – she gives to us every day.  It’s how do we give back to her?  How do we begin to connect?  We human beings do need to.  There is a lot of power in connection and we can do a lot of healing of ourselves when we connect to ourself.  Moving past, healing instead of having the disease that we have.  Is how do we heal and the more we heal ourselves, we heal others.  The more others heal, I’m wondering, hopefully, we will begin the journey of healing Mother Earth

Gratitude for your connection to the World Heart of Connection Day

Jacqui [32:05] Being grateful.

Mark [32:09] I’m very grateful for having met you at the gathering of the World Heart of Connection Day gathering.  Thank you for connecting, reaching out and connecting to the group.  The groups growing and the idea is to openly connect and build that connection and share the positive and the negative.  The light and the joy and suffering. How do we help each other connect and grow and give back?  Thank you very much, Jacqui lovely to meet you and have had a story in the Humans in Geelong. I really appreciate it.

Jacqui [32:50] Well, we look forward to having you at the Expo.

Mark [32:52] Yes, I’m looking forward to that. Thank you very much.

Jacqui [32:56] Thanks, Mark.

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