Supporters of wildlife and women spoke of ‘exceeded expectations’ as they cued to have photos taken with Julia Baker’s pet python and get their favourites by Steve Parish signed after the two spoke at Wildlife Queensland’s second annual brunch, Inspiring Life on Sunday, 4 March.
Parkland views from the tenth level of Hotel Urban were a fitting outlook as Julia and Steve shared personal stories of how nature inspired their respective rises to international recognition from similarly humble beginnings.
Steve, the middle child of a Pentecostal preacher mother, was moved to tears at times as he recalled the characters, landscapes and species that spurred and steered his life-long love affair with Australia’s wild places and creatures. Steve was honest, vulnerable and in good humour in reflecting on his lack of formal education, unsupportive family life and questionably limited talent as he went from spying on wildlife through the sight of a rifle to the lens of a camera.
“Not one of these early photographs was in focus,” he told an amused and disbelieving audience.
Was this the moment that set Steve Parish apart from others on a creative journey? Not to be deterred by early setbacks, Steve held fast to his life purpose at the time (to photograph and collect specimens of every fish and invertebrate in the area for the senior curators at the Australian Museum), a quality that, now honed through self-taught mindfulness, has seen him survive a series of subsequent challenges and even “have a giggle” at those “poor-little-me mind stories we tell ourselves” in hindsight.
Similarly refreshing in her self-awareness, ‘Snake Boss’ Julia Baker gave decidedly little airtime to the destructive mid-life divorce that planted the seeds of the creative regeneration that would one day take her “from cakes to snakes”. Far from passive bystander in this process however, Julia speaks to the power of actively “putting it out there”; being clear and detailed in your desires and recording them in vision boards and written lists. Nothing new when it comes to positive thinking: perhaps, yet so invigorating in its embodied form as Julia stands before her audience entwined in her beloved python, Mango, advocating for the protection of these misunderstood creatures she recognised in an ‘aha moment’ as her calling.
The two speakers appear to share this ability to recognise pivotal moments in life for what they are – powerful, full of creative potential, potent with change – and understand that active mindfulness allows us some degree of influence over what comes next. If this insight alone were in any way contagious, attendees of Inspiring Life left Hotel Urban on March 4 with more than fond memories of a lovely brunch with like-minded nature lovers; they were inspired to consider their own purpose – a project that fascinates and propels them – and create powerful positive change of their own.
Wildlife Queensland’s sincere thanks go to all who attended and supported this event to raise funds for the conservation and protection of Queensland’s wildlife, with special thanks to Wildlife Australia editor Karin Cox for performing the role of MC, Hotel Urban Brisbane and Spicers Hidden Vale.