Four People, Twelve Questions

QPAC’s Story team connected with four new friends and gained an insight to their slices of paradise

Tim Costello, Mojo Juju, Jenny Woodward and Fez Faanana discuss their identities, beliefs and cultural habits, offering us insights into their slices of paradise. We connected with them through questions based on neuroscience and neuropsychology research. Here’s what our four new friends shared with us!

Tim Costello

TIM COSTELLO

CHIEF ADVOCATE OF WORLD VISION AUSTRALIA, ACTIVIST AND BAPTIST MINISTER

A bit about you…

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST FAVOURITE STORY?

It’s Peter Pan. The playful, adventurous world, the companionship with Wendy and Tinker Bell was a picture of paradise. The story reminds me of innocence, beauty and my loving, playful childhood.

WHAT MUSIC MAKES YOU WANT TO DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING?

I love black soul and gospel music. I love Aretha Franklin, The Blind Boys from Alabama, The Holmes Brothers. There’s something about music that has come out of suffering, but still has hope.

WHAT’S LEFT THAT YOU WANT TO DO / THE NEXT THING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

I really want to become a person who’s now a mentor to the next generation. Stepping sideways and investing in the next generation of advocates and activists – people who want to make a difference and change the world.

WHAT EXPERIENCE, PERSON OR WORK TOUCHED YOU DEEPLY AND LEFT SOMETHING PRECIOUS WITH YOU?

Going to Uganda over the past seven years with friends who have generously built four or five hospitals in Northern Uganda, where 13 women a day were dying in childbirth due to insufficient healthcare facilities. The joy of these rural communities celebrating the opening of a health clinic for a whole day is joy like I have never experienced. It’s what I call the law of increasing returns, not diminishing returns.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN?

I really want to learn to be a good cook. I remember this started when I saw a lovely film, Babette’s Feast, a film about this poor woman who cooked a feast for people, just because! I can cook basic things but I can’t do a feast and I want to learn.

WHAT OR WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU?

I was inspired as a young person by the writings of Martin Luther King and his refusal to demonise even enemies. Martin Luther King was a Baptist minister, and it’s one of the reasons I became a Baptist minister. I even named my youngest son Martin after him.

A bit about paradise…

IF THE SENSE OF A HEAVEN IS WITHIN US, WHAT GETS YOU THERE?

This takes discipline, meditation, prayer and solitude. It takes facing your inner shadows and seeing the resentments and the envy of others; comparing up, never comparing down. It’s really dealing with the nasties in you rather than just the nasties in the world, or in other people.

WHAT BRINGS YOU OUT OF IT?

Me not attending to the things in me: things that are bad out there can only get you riled and disturbed if you are not going inward and thinking about how blessed you are and keeping it in perspective.

WHAT GETS YOU BACK?

I think the most important thing in life is perspective. That breeds gratitude. Perspective that says, “No, I’m actually blessed, and therefore I can be grateful for what I am”, is what gets me back.

WHAT DOES YOUR PARADISE LOOK LIKE?

A horizon. When I can see the sky meet the sea there is this lifting of my spirits. I know that I’m small and that gives me a sense of transcendence; a sense that I’m not the Messiah and I can’t do everything. It’s deeper than me.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?

Centred and gaining perspective.

WHO IS WITH YOU THERE?

I believe that there is – let’s use the word God – there is something great in the universe that I’m not just a biological freak in a cosmic zoo, that I’m just an accident. Why I exist rather than I don’t exist, means that there is some deeper presence, being, purpose. I connect to that.

Mojo Juju

 

MOJO JUJU

SONGWRITER, MUSICIAN, STORYTELLER

A bit about you…

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST FAVOURITE STORY?

The first thing that comes to mind is Epaminondas. The reason I remember it is because of the comic element of it. I think there’s something really endearing about the character!

WHAT MUSIC MAKES YOU WANT TO DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING?

I have two criteria for music: It has to either move me on a physical level, or move me on an emotional level. If it can do both at the same time then incredible, but it has to do one or two of those things.

WHAT’S LEFT THAT YOU WANT TO DO / THE NEXT THING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

So much left that I want to do. I want to keep pushing myself to make better art. What I’d like to be remembered for is as a songwriter mostly – that’s my passion: songwriting, more than performing.

WHAT EXPERIENCE, PERSON OR WORK TOUCHED YOU DEEPLY AND LEFT SOMETHING PRECIOUS WITH YOU?

One of the most emotional and moving voices – Billie Holiday. There’s so much conviction in her voice and the way she sings, and you believe everything she’s saying. It also reminds me so much of my grandparents.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN?

I’m pretty curious just in general. If I could be anything in another life, I’d be a dancer. I also have a deep love of conspiracy theories.

WHAT OR WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU?

My grandparents were a huge inspiration. I tell a lot of their stories on Native Tongue. My grandmother always said I live every day like I’m lucky to be alive because she believes that. They were a huge inspiration to me


A bit about paradise…

IF THE SENSE OF A HEAVEN IS WITHIN US, WHAT GETS YOU THERE?

I think that comes down to authenticity, knowing who you are and having conviction is a really big deal. I think that how you treat other people and how you nurture your relationships is definitely going to make that easier.

WHAT BRINGS YOU OUT OF IT?

Anxiety, and anxiety usually comes from fear, and I think mostly fear of being alone.

WHAT GETS YOU BACK?

Reach out to people you love. It can be a really big step and really hard to do. Also, therapy is really good.

WHAT DOES YOUR PARADISE LOOK LIKE?

It probably looks similar to the Philippines, in a way – slow days in tropical locations.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?

Calm and secure.

WHO IS WITH YOU THERE?

All the people that I love and I care about. But I think you should be able to be at peace with yourself and on your own. It’s very important to have a strong, healthy relationship with yourself – that takes a lot of work.

Jenny Woodward

 

JENNY WOODWARD

JOURNALIST, TV PRESENTER, A WOMAN FOR ALL SEASONS

A bit about you…

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST FAVOURITE STORY?

I have always loved the story of how my parents met. The tale has permeated my childhood and become part of family history! Mum was on holidays at Coolangatta with some girlfriends. It was just after the war. Dad was still in the army and he and some mates were in uniform driving an Army Jeep down the road. They stopped and asked the girls directions to Kingscliff. The girls cheerfully said “we’ll come with you and show you the way.” It later transpired the boys didn’t need help with directions, but they all had a great day at the beach and that was the start of a long romance. Of course Mum said times were different then and they only went along with it because the boys were in uniform!

WHAT MUSIC MAKES YOU WANT TO DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING?

If it’s got a good beat and you’re a good mood, then anything. A good loud sing around the house is fun too!

WHAT’S LEFT THAT YOU WANT TO DO / THE NEXT THING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

I would like to see the northern lights or the southern lights. Whether I’ll ever get an opportunity, I don’t know. That’s kind of something you can plan for, but there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen! Another thing I’d love to see is the Morning Glory cloud, which comes across the Gulf of Carpentaria. The glider pilots sort of surf along the cloud to a certain extent. But that’s also something you cannot plan for!

WHAT EXPERIENCE, PERSON OR WORK TOUCHED YOU DEEPLY AND LEFT SOMETHING PRECIOUS WITH YOU?

My parents giving me permission to pursue what I wanted to do. That’s a really precious gift to get. They recognised my interest in creative arts and supported that. Without that sort of permission from the people you love, it’s a much harder battle.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN?

I’d like to be able to retain information better. I’m open to learning lots of things about new topics all the time yet I don’t feel I have a particularly good retention of information. I’m not quite sure how you go about doing that. I suppose concentrating more when you read it the first time would be a start!

WHAT OR WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU?

I take inspiration from things and concepts around me. For example, the reality show Project Runway. The participants are extraordinary! They create the most beautiful gowns a lot of the time in a ridiculously short space of time. I mean I sew, so I know how hard that is, especially having to fit it on another person rather than yourself.


A bit about paradise…

IF THE SENSE OF A HEAVEN IS WITHIN US, WHAT GETS YOU THERE?

It’s always got to be the people who love you. Them knowing you and loving you gives you an enormous amount of confidence and comfort, which provides inner strength and acceptance. Once you accept who you are and the passage of growth you are on, and if you are happy with that, you have contentment which leads to inner paradise I suppose.

WHAT BRINGS YOU OUT OF IT?

Distractions in our lives – we have a lot of noise around that’s constantly competing for our attention. If you want to be distracted or allow yourself to be distracted, you can be jolted out of it.

WHAT GETS YOU BACK?

Contentment is key to a happy life. It is okay to want more, and you need to understand the distinction between wanting more for growth, or wanting more just for a grab.

WHAT DOES YOUR PARADISE LOOK LIKE?

I don’t know that it has a look but I guess that place for me is full of colour. My husband and I extract a lot of joy by being surrounded by colour. It would be pretty messy too!

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?

Warm and family-focused, contentment and joyfulness.

WHO IS WITH YOU THERE?

My family and my dear friends... the people who love and support me every day. And my gorgeous dog, Dakota!

Fez Fanaana

 

FEZ FAANANA

SAMOAN CHIEF, CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF 'BRIEFS FACTORY' AND DRAG ARTISTE

A bit about you…

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST FAVOURITE STORY?

Something that resonated with me as a child was Monkey Magic. It was based on a sixteenth century Chinese novel which made its way into Australian homes as a staple after school viewing ritual in the early 80s. It celebrated a culture in a really sophisticated way. It was so forward thinking and some seriously diverse TV programming for that era.

WHAT MUSIC MAKES YOU WANT TO DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING?

I really latched onto hip-hop and R&B growing up. Dirty-grindy and predominantly female hip-hop. Missy Elliott’s Supa Dupa Fly is my favourite album. Timbaland is a genius and his album with Magoo, Under Construction Part II is timeless!

WHAT’S LEFT THAT YOU WANT TO DO / THE NEXT THING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

I got an indoor sky diving voucher for my fortieth last year. I’m going to give it a go and try not to break my now 41 year old body.

WHAT EXPERIENCE, PERSON OR WORK TOUCHED YOU DEEPLY AND LEFT SOMETHING PRECIOUS WITH YOU?

Mama Winmill, who was my kindred spirit and whom I was very tight with. I have been with Mark Winmill for 18 years now. We suddenly lost Mark’s mum last year, which was really sad and traumatic and a great loss was felt. She left me with a lifetime of precious memories and hilarious moments.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN?

I want to learn more about the practice of law, understanding our legal system and its relation and impact on equality, quality of life and human rights. Oh, I would also love to learn how to fabricate props and set pieces with fibreglass.

WHAT OR WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU?

Pauline Hanson. She hit the scene when I just finished high school. I was so baffled by, and annoyed with, her limitations as a leader. Her desire to cultivate ugly ideologies and uneducated concepts made me feel unequal. At the same time, I was inspired to understand the history of Australia as a priority, my place in it as well as acknowledge the inhumane treatment of First Nations Australians.


A bit about paradise…

IF THE SENSE OF A HEAVEN IS WITHIN US, WHAT GETS YOU THERE?

I am not sure if the sense of a heaven is within us. Maybe looking for it will get you there… That was really deep.

WHAT BRINGS YOU OUT OF IT?

Giving up on looking.

WHAT GETS YOU BACK?

Being content with looking.

WHAT DOES YOUR PARADISE LOOK LIKE?

A combination of my partner Marks’ family property in the Clarence Valley in northern New South Wales, and my parents’ villages Fagamalo and Palauli in Samoa, with an endless supply of Sizzler bread.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?

It feels fresh, simple, rich, fruitful and cheesy.

WHO IS WITH YOU THERE?

The goats, the dogs and someone handing out the Sizzler bread. I suppose I should invite the family. Oh and the comedian Becky Lucas would be there too!

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