Take your readers on a  heroine's journey

Welcome. 

I'm Catriona Mitchell, MPhil. 

For info about Stories with Spine, click here.

My big question:

What does it mean to be alive at a time of late-stage patriarchy and environmental collapse?

To me, this points to the urgent need for coming home to the body and its subtle senses. The body is the literal source of life as well as the metaphor, and we have much to learn from its wordless intelligence. 

The body knows it is not just part of nature, it is nature. 

I prioritise the female body, because of the culturally embedded misogyny that treats women's bodies in the same way as it treats the Earth: both have been desecrated. Yet a woman's body holds a creative, relational and cyclical intelligence that we can all learn from. It holds awareness of the sacredness of life itself. This wisdom is urgently needed.

Your view of the archetypal feminine might represent something quite different, and I celebrate this. We all have a unique view to share, and it's only via collective contribution that we can bring about the cultural transformation we long for.

My Certifications: 

Book Coaching

Non-fiction book coaching training with Author Accelerator (USA), the world's leading book coaching certification.

Feminine Power

I am trained in Claire Zammit's Women Centred Coaching Masterclass (2023). I use these tools to focus on voice and visibility.

Creative unblocking

I'm certified in a simple, effective energy healing technique for dissolving painful beliefs, patterns and creative blocks.

Embodiment

I'm a teacher of Gabrielle Roth's 5Rhythms: a movement meditation practice that fosters deep listening to the body.

M Phil in Creative Writing

M Phil in Creative Writing from the Oscar Wilde Centre at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

Masters in Writing

Masters in Writing (1st class honours) from the National University of Ireland in Galway. 

EDITOR: 
WALKING TOWARDS OURSELVES (HarperCollins India & Hardie Grant Australia & UK, 2016)
Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories is a non-fiction book of mini memoirs about the gender revolution in India, the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman. It went to #2 on bestseller lists after a launch at Jaipur Literature Festival in India; and a speaking tour to Delhi, Melbourne, Sydney and Byron Bay writers festivals.

My backstory in 5 snippets:

Click on the dots to open & close. 

Please skip, if personal backstory isn't your thing!

A BOOKWORM & THE BODY SHOP

As a child, I was a book-worm: I injured my back from carrying too many library books around in my school bag.

I read these inside The Body Shop, where I would go after school. My mother had opened a branch for Anita Roddick in Edinburgh, at a time when the products were still home-made. This was my introduction to the intersection of women, nature and the body, and I loved it.

However, when I was ten, we moved from Scotland to Australia. My mother closed her shop, and my life was turned upside down.

VERTIGO & AN INABILITY TO WALK 

Feeling like an outsider in Australia, I buried myself in scholastic pursuits. Books and films saved me. At university I completed an Honours degree in English/Film studies (my thesis was about masculinity on screen). I believed I would go on to write books on film theory. 
However, on the day that I submitted my thesis, I fell ill. I remember crawling on my knees through the garden to get to my front door. I was struck down with vertigo so badly, I could barely walk for the following year.

No conventional doctor could figure out what was wrong with me, but eventually a Balinese healer came to my aid. He cured me with a set of acupuncture needles. 

We became friends, and over time he taught me how to re-inhabit my body, so that I was no longer seeing it as a 'brain taxi', but rather, as an integrated and highly intelligent energy system. 

He introduced me to Tibetan Buddhism, Tantric philosophy, meditation, dance, martial arts, vibrant expressions of aesthetics and beauty.... I woke up to why I was off-balance. I had been giving so much importance to the cerebral that I could no longer feel my feet. 

In the Jungian sense, I'd been living from the neck up in logos (left brain, the realm of logic and the rational) and was split off from my eros (right brain, psychic relatedness, intimacy, body, deep feeling). 

Over time I've come to see that this problem wasn't unique to me, even though I was an extreme case. It's the 'overstory' we're all living with to a greater or lesser extent, resulting in a widespread loss of empathy, joy, connection and true aliveness.

GLOBAL STORIES & IDEAS

For 16 years I worked with literature and film festivals around the world. I love the live experience: the thrill of observing how narratives can move, influence and expand an audience's perceptions of life. 

As Steve Jobs said, "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation to come."

I've contributed to the programming, production and presenting of some of the world's most iconic literary events, including:

  • Jaipur Literature Festival, India 
  • Bookwallah, India / Australia. Winner of an Australian government award.
  • Women in the World (India)
  • Hay Festival, India 
  • Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, Bali, Indonesia 
  • Melbourne International Film Festival - Books at MIFF, Australia
  • Melbourne Writers Festival, Australia

THE SACRED FEMININE IN BALI & INDIA

As a consequence of living and working in Bali and India for over a decade, I have absorbed the many faces of the divine feminine over time. These are still actively worshipped and ubiquitous (even if patriarchal values are primary.)

The sacred feminine - expressed in sculpture, painting, dance, drama, mythology and more - seeped into my bones, expanding my sense of what the feminine is and can be, loosening internalized constrictions that I'd been blind to and inducing a more blissful state of being.

A BESTSELLING BOOK & THE DALAI LAMA 

In 2016 I edited a #2 bestselling book on India's gender revolution called Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories (HarperCollins India & Hardie Grant Australia & UK.)

Going on speaking tour with the book and talking to audiences drew me deeply into issues of violence against women - not just in India but globally. My eyes opened. I also began to perceive the more subtle, near-invisible forms of violence against the feminine that we are all profoundly affected by, irrespective of our gender, because they have been embedded in the global narrative for thousands of years.

In 2018, I had the great fortune to have a private meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I asked him why he had famously said that "the Western woman will save the world." His response was simple. "Be active," he said. "Be active," over and over. Stories with Spine was born out of that conversation.

Things I love:

MULTICULTURALISM. Born in Switzerland to a Scottish father and German mother, I was raised between Scotland and Australia. I have traveled widely, lived on different continents, love Bali, and have a long-standing love affair with India, where I have lived and worked on literary projects and events since 2010.

JOURNALING. Inspired by Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, I've written morning pages almost every day for 25 years. This practice helps me dial down the noise of the external world and tune into my inner being.

DANCE. Anywhere, anytime. Dance is my big love - not for performance, but for joy. The dance floor is my temple. I've been devoted to Gabrielle Roth's 5Rhythms™ since 1999, I dance every day, and am a certified 5Rhythms™ teacher.

If you and I ever meet in person, let's dance!

How to take your readers on a heroine's journey

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