Barbara Cook was born, and still lives in, Geelong, Australia.
She has a wonderful family, including a son and daughter who live nearby. She was privileged to care for them in their childhood, and is deeply grateful for the many lessons they taught her. They now have lives, thoughts and marriages of their own, and two children each. Barbara just loves being a nana!
In her family of origin there is a long history of wise love, humour, silliness and practical creativity. She was supported in finding her passion early in life by parents who, above all, were inordinately proud of their kids. She became a dancer.
As a child she began her spiritual journey by learning many invaluable life lessons through the gift of an autoimmune disease. She lost her hair through alopecia. This character-building exercise led to a deep understanding that people are not their outward appearances, that children will prey on the perceived weak like circling vultures, that she can survive name-calling because it won’t break her bones like sticks and stones can, that the deep hurt can be stored away but accessed at a later stage in life, and that she is strong, brave and resilient.
The early years also saw her teaching school to an assortment of dolls and teddies, all lined up listening intently to her story reading. She had trouble getting them to recite along with the flashcards, but was always patient with them. She was obviously going to be a teacher.
Friends from high school years remember her as a self-contained individual, always up for a laugh. The self-made creations she wore to the school socials were not at all like anyone else’s. The white Romeo and Juliet dress was a standout.
Barbara trained and worked as a Primary teacher. Her Teacher’s College friends remember her as bubbly, vivacious, and quietly confident.
During a brief return to the classroom after her son was born, she quickly knew she couldn’t do both jobs well at the same time, so she chose the most important job. She resigned from teaching completely. After her two babies grew up, she went on to teach dance, dance therapy and movement studies in various private, therapeutic and community settings. For twenty years up until her retirement in 2019 she taught dance choreography to teenagers.
She loves learning new things, adores dance of any kind, loves to sew and even dabble in art. She can often be found at the movies or at live theatre, walking along the beach in any weather, meditating, cooking, having friends over for dinner, cuddling grandchildren, reading, watching the clouds or the night sky. Bike riding, bush walks and travel are other pleasures.
Her ongoing journey of personal and spiritual growth resumed in earnest in her thirties but was never undertaken voluntarily. It was only various kinds of crises that moved her forward. Her need to live an authentic life has taken her on a path familiar to many – pain, awareness, healing, and the discovery that she is, after all, a soul on a journey. Her meditation, dance, drawing and journaling, along with a plethora of self-help books, have always helped her to uncover her truth. A breakdown around 1990 was the breakthrough that led to a whole raft of poems that came through her at all hours of the day and night. After her marriage break up in 1993 she received free therapy by being compelled to write a fantasy story written from a soul’s point of view, again at all hours of the day and night. This allowed her to understand her journey in an abstract form, and bring her to a point of acceptance of all the lessons she had learned. She typed up the story as a gift to herself and then stored it on the top shelf of her wardrobe. She never looked at it again.
Up until 2015, her writing was mostly done in secret and hidden away, although there were some tentative forays into public sharing. In the 1980s there was an almost- published children’s book on Swan Lake, featuring photographs kindly contributed by the Australian Ballet. The Australian publisher began negotiations, but withdrew when budget cuts shortened their list. Another toe dipped in the publishing waters was a submission to a publisher with her 1990 poems. This was declined.
Barbara’s life continued fairly uneventfully, until a personal crisis at the end of 2014 resulted in her experiencing a surge of compassion for all those who are living in fear, and who are grimly determined to hold onto their carefully constructed yet limiting world. Barbara was moved to bring her twenty-year-old fantasy story out of hiding, dust it off and jump right in, self-publishing it as her first novella, “Good Choice — A Soul’s Story”
She will be forever grateful that this crisis gave her the opportunity to clearly see in the mirror that she, too, had been abandoning her truth, had been hiding away the fullness of how she sees the world, had been blindly holding onto her comfortable yet limited existence, and had been afraid to enter fully into the world of love and soul she was destined for.
She continues to strive to live an authentic life.