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Emotional healing is intensely personal. People find consolation in countless forms – from bush walking to music, clinical therapy to religion. For many of us, the presence of a pet is better than any anti-depressant.

Coming to terms with loss and trauma is one of life’s great challenges. Recovery may never happen, but I’ve seen many courageous people encompass enormous sadness and evolve through it. One thing’s certain. Healing takes time.

I met Kate Fennessey about three years ago when she started helping me with social media (I hardly knew how to Like something on Facebook back then). A gorgeous-looking, bubbly solo mum, she seemed to have everything going for her. I noticed a fragility about her, though.

As we became friends, Kate told me how she’d ended her marriage after learning of her husband’s serial affairs. Once our trust deepened, she shared details of her mother’s suicide when Kate was just 21.

When Kate confessed she wanted to write a novel, I sensed self- expression would be more than an outlet for her. It could be a precious channel of healing.

In the past, when people asked me to look at their writing projects I’d always run for cover. I’m no teacher. Besides, I’m not even sure writing can be taught. After 45 years scribbling for a living, I don’t consider myself a master. I’m still learning.

Kate and I laugh a lot. Over a glasses of prosecco one lunchtime, we dreamt up the crazy idea of doing a podcast together. As Kate wrangled her book into shape, I’d offer a few warped pearls of wisdom.

Our podcast would be a clinic, not just about an experienced writer helping a newbie through the process of writing her novel, but the possibility of turning everyday life into a conscious work of art. Of healing through creativity. There’d be guests. We’d ask Jonah the cat along, too. He’s the ultimate life expert around here, after all.

Kate came up with a great name for our podcast – NOVEL THERAPY. She ran out and bought a couple of microphones and we were off. After recording our first episode on Phillip Island, we celebrated by diving into a spa pool clutching glasses of champagne.

During Episode Two, Jonah knocked my microphone over. I sounded like Nanook of the North broadcasting from an igloo for a while. Who knows what’s going to happen this week when we explore the topic of fearlessness?

We’d love you to join us on NOVEL THERAPY. It’s fun, heartfelt and a little bit out there. And who knows? If you’d like to invite more creativity into your life, you might just learn something.

Showing 5 comments
  • Anne Morrall

    Helen, I accidentally, or may be it wasn’t an accident, any way I happened to pick up your book at the library . I was engrossed with your story of Cleo !!!
    I am so disappointed I am working on Friday 11th and I can’t get to see you at Malvern . It’s actually really affected me I can’t see you to thank you for such a wonderful book that really should be made into movie.! Where are you after the 11th? I really would love to buy the new book and request you sign it maybe? Thank you for such a brilliantly written story about your life with Cleo.

  • Melanie Abrams

    I Just finished reading “Cleo” after years of prodding from my Mother. I have never cried so much from reading a book! It touched my heart deeply. My Mother & I can relate to many of the experiences & feelings you so beautifully & thoughtfully conveyed. We miss my brother Charlie, who passed at age 18 (in 1985). Our pets definitely have helped us through life’s path. Kudos to your family & all the heroes in your life too! Thank you for sharing this healing memoir with us! Sincerely & Respectfully, Melanie. October 2019

    • Helen Brown

      Hi Melanie, Thanks for your beautiful message. Apologies if I’ve replied already. My heart went out to you when I read about your loss. It is such a hard thing when someone so young dies. Long may your hearts continue to heal. Warmest wishes, Helen.

  • Joyce Anderson

    I just finished Cleo also on a beautiful fall morning in late October in Illinois and tears are streaming down my face. What a wonderful book, so beautifully written with so much heart. I had to laugh at all Cleo’s antics and your insight into what he was thinking. I have had cats and loved them all my life and I just turned 79. I have two seven year old cats, brother and sister, now. Oscar, the male, howls often and patrols the house as my “watchcat” while his sister Izzy is a sweet chubby lady. I can’t wait to read about Bono next!

    • Helen Brown

      Hi Joyce,Thanks for taking the time to write to me. I’m so happy you enjoyed reading Cleo. Warmest wishes to you and your feline bosses.

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