My Whole Van in Three Suitcases

Heading across the country

If you’re reading this post, you may know that I’m an artist, and that I lead workshops for beginners

What you may not know is the craziness goes on behind the scenes of each and every one of my one day intensive workshops! Let me preface this by stating that I tend to do most things the hard way around. So instead of running a workshop and having everyone bring a list of supplies (like most art classes), I provide everything. EVERYTHING (even aprons). I started doing this because I’m easily irritated and hate dragging heaps of gear to any art class that I attend. So I figured, how can I ask my students to do what I hate doing? It turns out that my grumpiness has its rewards, as my students love that they don’t have to bring a thing. Beginners feel safe when they don’t have to buy stuff they are worried they will never use again. 


I provide ALL the supplies – including some special textured thingamajigs that take me all week to prepare. They all go into many, many large, labelled, stackable plastic containers (thank you IKEA). Then I pack these supplies into my van (I use the word ‘I’ here loosely, as I usually have an assistant do the packing on account my extremely poor spatial skills and lack of muscle tone). Pretty tired by this time, we head off to the studio, unload the van, set up the workshop space and voila! Two to three hours later, a bare room is turned into a Place of Breathtaking Possibilities.

The next day, about fifty unique, textured, astoundly gorgeous paintings are created, by several surprised, elated beginners!

Then we clean up, pack everything back into those large stackable, labelled boxes, bung ‘em back into my van, and I head home. Very tired, and Very Happy. And then I do it all again a week or two later. I usually do all this in Perth, Western Australia.

What you may not know is that Perth is often cited as the most remote city in the world. While this may or may not be true, it undoubtedly a long way from anywhere. So maybe, I think to myself, it’s about time I did my workshop in another city? Perhaps the next closest major one?

Well, sure, why not. Except the next closest major Australian city is Adelaide, which is 2693 km away. So I’m nipping over there next weekend. And I’m going a little past Adelaide.

Yep, I’m taking my workshop clear across this vast land, from Perth aaaaall the way over to South Australia. It’s a crazy adventure that I have officially titled ‘Oh-so-many-things-could-go-wrong-and-they-probably-will-but-I’m-going-to-do-it-anyway-just-because’.

I’m sailing on uncertain seas and there is an iceberg ahead of me. Gulp.

I will be flying away from my home, my van, and my lovely labelled plastic containers.  I’m going to be teaching in one of Australia’s oldest and most iconic buildings, the Seppeltsfield Distillery, surrounded by vats of wine. Which is a bit ironic as I don’t drink (at all). However, if things go wrong, the nearby wine may be rather convenient 🙂

Yesterday, somehow, the entire contents of my van were packed into three large suitcases. A combination of the most amazing packing skills of my husband Greg, and the obvious fact that these suitcases, like the Tardis, are apparently bigger on the inside.

Dr Who fantasies aside, I think these suitcases are quite magical. They are a symbol of all the Impossible Things that had to become possible in order for me to make this trip: Receiving an invitation from a stranger to go teach far, far away. Saying ‘yes’ but really ‘no’ because my husband is dying of cancer and how can I possibly leave him. Two years later saying ‘yes’, really ‘yes’ because he is somehow stable enough now that I can do this. Actually having a discussion with him about whether he wants to come with me! Knowing that I have a choice, he will probably be ok either way. Having so many people enrol in the workshop that I had to put on some extra seats. Working out how to transport all my gear clear across the country. Having Greg around to argue with about when he was going to do it… and then have him strong enough to actually pack it all for me. Being silly enough to think it’s an adventure to journey a total of 5386 km to teach one workshop.

Not knowing how, but having my entire van fit into three suitcases.

Nothing left to do but grab all this Uncertainty, clasp it to my bosom and reframe as Adventure.
Double Gulp.

What about you? What impossible adventures have you had?

Leave your comments here 🙂


Would you like to take one of my classes, but you’re too far away? Head over here to join my EXTRA SPECIAL list saved just for my new e-course Paint Something Beautiful. No commitments, just be first in line when I launch!

Comments 19

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    Thank you Kelli! Fortunately courage has its own rewards (I’m relying on that!). I can’t wait to meet all the beautiful people who are taking a chance on their creativity by coming along 🙂

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  2. You know what i’ve learned about courage latelyt? When we’re unsure and a bit scared, it’s like fuel to push us through. I seem to be even more fuelled now that I’ve made that connection to the fuel and push. The minute I sign on to commit to something that’s intimidating me, I’m fuelled, and that little scary feeling is okay.
    Not sure if that’s a scientific fact :).

    Wish was closer to sign on and applaud your courage and your talent ! But I”m on your list for ecourse ..

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      I completely agree! When we’re afraid, we’re invested! Thank you for the beautiful reminder Sandy, and I’m sooo happy you’ve signed on for the e-course 🙂

  3. What a wonderful undertaking. Good for you Malini. You must bring a lot of happiness to a lot of people. My daughter does something similar on the east coast. Loved your post.

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      Hello Pam, nice to meet another Parker 🙂 Thank you for your kind comment, and for stopping by. I hope I meet your daughter one of these days too.

  4. OMG Mal! I am your sister, and we talk and visit and stuff, but I never realised all that goes into your van, and has now gone into your 3 suitcases. Like Dorothy, you get to click your heels for another amazing adventure. Onya sisterling. Look forward to reading in your blog how Adelaide went!!!

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      I can barely believe it myself 🙂 and then doing it all again 2 weeks later in Melbourne! There’s going to be a LOT of heel kicking in the next few weeks!! Thank you for stopping by, big sister!

  5. Well done Malini! I am positive that all of your efforts ….well Greg’s efforts too…LOL will pay off when you have a room full of fabulous smiling people completed your painting workshop! So can’t wait to hear how you went!!!

    1. Yes that is what I am focussing on, Maria 🙂 Thank you for the reminder…those wonderful people and their courage and creativity are what makes everything make sense! And you are one of them!

      1. I am so glad that I am one of them…. you certainly changed my life for the better! I am now not worried about the “little” things and focusing on the positive things and enjoying life! BIG HUGS ALWAYS MALINI!

  6. As always an inspiring post! I wish you the best on your amazing adventure. Practicing courage always has rewards and I have no doubt yours will be plentiful. I would gladly skip over to Australia to take one of your classes but in the meantime, I have just discovered you are launching an e-course so I’ve got myself on the list. Boy am I excited! Look forward to hearing all about your adventures. Here’s to skydiving (or other alternatives!)!

    1. I’m sooo happy that you’ve put your name down for the e-course 🙂 Yay! Thank you also for the encouragement, I feel better already and I’m SO glad I’m not actually doing a skydive!!

  7. As you know, I have a particular understanding of this kind of ‘adventure’. 😉 Mind you, my version still doesn’t compare with factors like distance. But I do know that when you’ve done it you’ll a} realise how doable it really was and b} probably be astonished to learn how much more you had in you than you thought. I love the reframe. Can’t wait to hear how it all goes and will be thinking of you heaps.

  8. You are so right, my friend! And distance is just an illusion — like everything else 🙂 It’s not like I’m going on horseback or anything! I will fill you in on the details when I return, be prepared!! Thanks for stopping by x

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