🎧 In this episode, Kelly talks about her passion for writing and poetry, which helps her to make a difference in the world around social issues. She has six published books, three of them have been number one bestsellers, and two of them got gifted in the swag box to the Oscars winners in Hollywood.
Pretty gritty and raw in style, Kelly writes about social issues and urban, contemporary topics. She is also an activist for social change in antibullying, domestic violence prevention and coaches youths and women in leadership on the power of resilience.
Kelly says that she really wants to help youth that are not necessarily from privileged backgrounds to know that they can achieve amazing things, whether it's being through their career, or their education or their passion, that there are different ways they can overcome obstacles and find resilience.
Kelly also talks about how she grew up in a working class, single parent house and on a council estate in the UK, travelled the world, lived in 3 continents and now is based in Sydney Australia, combining her passion for writing, working as Managing Director of a Fortune 500, and being a wife and a mum of two teenagers.
She talks about how COVID gave her a pause to reflect and to focus more on body and wellness and outdoors and nature, as well as allowing her to explore different creative things to do with writing.
Kelly’s short bio:
Kelly Van Nelson is the Sydney based #1 bestselling author of six books, including Graffiti Lane, Punch and Judy, Retrospective, and Rolling in the Mud. Her literary work has featured in numerous publications and her contemporary poetry books have been gifted to numerous Hollywood celebrities, including Academy Award winners. She is a prominent media figure using poetry to drive conversation on social issues, including bullying and domestic violence. She is a KSP First Edition Fellowship recipient, winner of AusMumpreneur ‘Big Idea Changing the World’ Award, Roar Success Best Book and Most Powerful Influencer Awards, CEO Magazine Managing Director of the Year finalist and Telstra NSW Businesswoman of the Year finalist. She is also mum of two and the Managing Director of a Fortune 500. In short, she is a juggler.
Kelly is represented by Newman Agency
and her website is www.kellyvannelson.com.
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT (auto-generated):
Hi, Kelly, welcome to our studio, and welcome to the project. While you're sitting in the makeup chair, and Chitra is doing makeup for you, I'll be asking you a few questions.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
So I'll start by saying I'm a mum of two teenagers, and I am originally from the UK from Northern England, I've been in Australia now for around 10 years. I work full time in the corporate world for a fortune 500. Company. So very busy. And I sit on the executive board. So it's quite full-on in terms of sort of work. And outside of work. I'm also a full-time author, and poet, and public speaker as well into and that's sort of side of what I do. It's always around social issues. So really contemporary topics. And yeah, do a lot of work with underprivileged youths, the youth community, and really trying to showcase in January a conversation around social issues. So yeah, a few different aspects, family work and my life as an author.
So, what are you most passionate about?
I mean, I have to say, I'm most passionate about the family, otherwise, my family will not be too impressed. I love my family. And I've been married for over two decades. So I'm very, very lucky that I've got a really great home life. But I am super passionate. And I always have been super passionate about trying to make a difference in the world around social issues. From very young, I was always sort of interested in trying to create impact in things that cared about and that comes through in the writing. So yeah, I've always written I write every day I write every day before bed. And yeah, it's just a habit now in something that's sort of as easy as breathing so that that will be the passion.
So, you mentioned earlier that you your fourth or fifth book is on the way. So, can you just tell us a bit more about that?
Yeah, um, six books, I've had six out. So, three of them have been number one bestsellers, which is very cool. And they have all been contemporary urban poetry collections. And two of them. Two of my earliest books actually got gifted in the swag box to the Oscars winners in Hollywood. So had a bit of a red-carpet moment there. And I've been I've had three books, six books out in total. And each one's got a different theme sort of that I tend to sort of have as a focal point. And they're quite varied and quite different. So I mean, some examples would be my first book was called graffiti lane, and the anchor and the theme around that book was around social issues, but communicated through poetry and through street murals, and the art form of that, and I use the source of street art themes throughout a lot of the poetry so got huge traction in the youth community. And that's an example of one of the themes, but each one of my books has got a different theme. And I Yeah, so I just evolve and have loads of fun with it, and I really enjoy it.
So how did you start like, when? And why this kind of poetry and writing?
Yeah, I think when I was a child, I grew up in a way Working class, single parent house and on a council estate. We were not particularly privileged, you know, as a family. And I always just still today find urban life and street life really interesting. And, yeah, I sort of see the beauty and some of the normal things in this sort of concrete jungle out there. And I also had a bit of it. I mean, I had a tough time at school and a tough time at home. And that stuck with me all of the years, where I really want to help youth that are not necessarily from privileged backgrounds to know that they can achieve, you know, amazing things, whether it's being through their career, or their education or their passion, you know, their creative outlets, that there are different ways they can overcome obstacles and find resilience. So, it definitely stems from youth. It's just part of the DNA. But I think that's why I write about social issues and an urban, you know, contemporary topics. I'm not a historical fiction writer, put it that way. Pretty gritty and raw in style. That, yeah, I enjoy it. Very interesting.
Very interesting. So, your books, if someone wants to read it, where they can find it?
Yeah, everywhere. They're globally distributed. So you can get my books on, you know, in DMX, Harry Hartog, on Amazon, Booktopia, Book Depository, pretty much everywhere, no matter what country you're in. If you want signed copies, you can get through my website.
Oh, that's excellent.
And yeah, try and get a good message out to, you know, personalise them and get signed copies out. But yeah, you can pick them up in a lot of the bookstores or pretty much anywhere online through major book retailers.
Okay, so I will put the link under our podcast, so everyone can find you, on your website.
Everyone knows that with age, we change. But what positive changes have you experienced so far,
I definitely feel more comfortable in myself with the edge must be honest, especially the last couple of years, I've sort of found myself in a new, more relaxed, comfortable place with myself. And I think that's just maybe it's life experience. And, you know, the different sort of life circumstances, but I find I'm embracing life more now enjoying, enjoying everything that I do, being more selective about what I do as well, so that I, you know, spend time on the things I'm passionate about and care about. And I think that brings more, more joy and more gratitude. So yeah, I definitely think with as you get more comfortable with yourself, and what you enjoy what you don't enjoy. And yeah, you sort of find your place a bit more in the world. So, the last couple of years have been a really interesting turning point for me, which, yeah, definitely finding myself
Is it to do with the COVID installation? Or?
Yeah, I think there's been a couple of things. One, definitely COVID, I was working before COVID crazy hours in the corporate world, during the day five, you know, more than five days a week, I was working, you know, 12-hour days, sometimes 16-hour days. And, you know, that, that it doesn't take its toll when you're in the midst of it, but when you actually step back from it, it is a little insane. And then I was probably writing as well from, you know, sometimes 9-10 o'clock at night, 2 to 3am in the morning, you know, four or five hours. And then, you know, also trying to cram in time with the family and so on. So COVID definitely paused all of those things, and, you know, gave me a reset. And it wasn't a conscious reset as such, but we know moving to work from home and, you know, everything that COVID brought, in terms of not being able to travel, I was travelling in the corporate job every second week before COVID. So a lot of those things stopped and gave me a chance to just pause and to reflect and to focus more on body and wellness and outdoors and nature. And I got myself fit in the last couple of years physically fit. And just started spending more time. Yeah, definitely enjoying the outdoors, walking, walking the dog. And yeah, just enjoying the world a little bit more than, you know, always head down, going like crazy. 20 miles an hour, you know, work working and so on. So COVID definitely gave me that pause. The writing gave me a bit of a different shift in perspective as well. I've been I've been writing forever since I was probably about 12 or 13 years old, but it's really been a successful period as a writer as an author for the last two or three years as well. So again, you know, being able to gain different, you know, just different experiences out of the thing. that that writing success has brought has been really, really fun. And yeah, again is just allowing me to explore different creative things to do with writing and to do with the way I present my poetry on social media be making short films, my son's an aspiring film director. So we make short films out of some of my written material. So a blend of the writing journey and where I'm at with the writing journey, and COVID, pausing, the madness that I was actually living in, has given me a whole new kind of like lease of life.
Excellent. So can you describe your greatest accomplishment so far?
I there's probably not anyone thing I often people ask if you've got any regrets, and I don't have any regrets. I'm a bit of a calculated and considered risk-takers. So we've moved around the world a lot travelled a lot, myself and my husband are very fortunate, we've you know, we've lived in three continents and 60 countries, and we don't sometimes even really think twice, if a new opportunity comes up our just embrace it, and, you know, live life to its fullest. But I think some you know, that there's been a few milestones where we have moved continents, and we have, you know, done something very, very different, though. So there'll be milestones like that. Definitely getting my centre by a literary agent was a massive one, I had, you know, 50 rejections in the early days when I didn't, you know, I hadn't mastered my art fully. And I didn't study creative writing or anything at university. So I was learning on the goal. So, so getting signed to buy an agent was a really big, you know, really big thing to, you know, there was a little bit of validation there that your writing has got some merit. And so I started going more in Ernst, and really, you know, push myself to get new material produced and write about different things. So, yeah, that will be a big one. My two kids were born in Scotland, you know, so I love them dearly. They're amazing children and becoming young adults, you know, so I've got so many different ones. But what I would definitely say is no regrets. i, if there's an opportunity there, or it's something new to try and explore a sort of go for it. It's a good way to live.
Yeah, it's a good basis for any success. No regrets and keep moving.
Exactly. Yeah. keeps life interesting. I'm definitely not a stagnant person, I'm quite a high energy, sort of style. So
I know, I know. You said no regrets. But what if you could go back in time and meet your 30-year-old self? What would you tell her? Or what advice would you give her?
I would definitely say don't be too tough on yourself. In my, even until the last couple of years, I've been my biggest critic, putting unnecessary pressure on myself, and sometimes maybe thinking I should conform a bit more to the norm. And I would tell myself, you shouldn't it's, you know, I think, embrace your uniqueness and embrace your own personal talents. And don't try and sort of shoehorn yourself into something that you're not. So yeah, I would say embrace all of your flaws. And, you know, everybody's different and unique for a reason. And just to embrace that don't try and conform.
And what would you say to younger women who will eventually undergo this age changes?
Life only gets better with age, I think. Yeah, I think I have a really dear friend, actually, who does a podcast on which is called ageing fearlessly. And I think that's a great term, you know, I think you've only got one life and make the most of every minute of it. And yet, as you get older, and you have more experience, and you, you definitely know what makes you tick, and you know, where you want to focus your time and your energy. And so I think just embrace every minute that you have, and, you know, try and avoid the negative sort of energies and negative people and negative things in life. And yeah, embrace what's out there on offer.
Good one. So, let's talk about body image and the idea of perfect body image. Where do you think it comes from, this idea?
I think there's always been, you know, you could go back decades and you would have different sort of pressures on the way people look and I think there's a lot of it's just peer pressure and society thinking things should be a particular way. And I think social media is playing in an even bigger part in that now because you know, images are so widely distributed and there's so much publicity around different looks and styles and things. So, you know, people can get pressurised by that. So I think it's, there's always been this sort of on sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken pressure on the way people should act look, you know, be Yeah. And I just said, just be who you want to be. And don't worry about it and be your own person and have your own style and luck and just be comfortable in yourself. And whatever your flaws are, they're you, they're good ones, you know, they're, they're designed to people are designed to be different.
Yeah, and what would be perfect body for you.
Probably just feeling healthy in myself both in mind and in, in body. And for a long time, I was always healthy. And I think in mind, I always felt strong and felt confident in what I was doing. And you know, that's really great, but I wasn't spending a lot of time on looking after my, my physical health as in eating well, and exercising and taking a bit more care of myself physically. So again, in the last couple of years, you know, having that pause with the COVID pandemic allowed me to spend a bit more time on body as well as mind and yet actually introducing different techniques for mental fitness as well which has been important during the lockdown. But I think they go hand in hand you've got it, you've got it if you if you're not inside your own head in a good place, you're going to you're going to put undue pressure on yourself so they sort of go hand in hand. Yeah.
And what does it mean to you feeling good and looking good? What comes first?
A feeling good comes first definitely you know, look sorrow, you know, looks surface level, I think if you don't feel good inside here that you're not a great place, if you do feel good inside, then you know, things fall into place much easier and you will find the things you want to do. But yeah, just in my own self, I just like to feel comfortable and confident. And I don't worry about what other people think as well which is a good thing. I just want myself to feel healthy. And to you know yeah, just to feel good and well and fit and to be comfortable in myself. I've definitely found that place but yeah, only over the last couple of years.
And what makes you feel the most beautiful.
Um, I've got a couple of different ones I love being outdoors in nature and just relaxed and in casual clothes and enjoying the fresh air and sometimes you know, without makeup and just feeling you know, free and easy outside. I do enjoy, you know, that side of things. But I'm a big lover as well of playing around with different looks and different images, which comes from probably the author world and having a teenage daughter so I do experiment a lot with different sort of vibes and different looks of you know, in clothes and in makeup and hair and have fun with it and I love as well looking for vintage clothes, vintage dresses, especially something so I like to go for a look that's again it's not my luck or anything but it's no one else's luck either. I just like to go for something that I like it might be a quick you're a bit different. So I'm always scouring for unique pieces of clothes or jewelry or you know, different kind of handbag and not always new or expensive or anything sometimes trawling you know, vintage shops as well to see, can I find something that's just got a little bit of a different look. And then I might create a look around that piece. You know, and have fun with it. So yeah, I've definitely gone through a few waves of that with with the looks. But the last book I published was called retrospective that was based on a on being an 80s child, I was born in the 70s. But you know, I was an 80s teenager. And we myself and my daughter had this whole lot of fun around, you know, 80s dress 80s makeup, loads of colourful eyeshadows and big hair. And that was really fun. And yeah, just like to play around with different locks, and have fun with it.
That's great. And do you have any favourite quotes about being a woman?
I've got a personal one that I see a lot, which is only you can spread your wings and fly it. It's not so much about being a woman. It's just about being yourself, you know, and being a person and about owning your space and not holding yourself back and being the one you know who's creating your own roadblocks. Often, it's ourselves that sort of can hold us back from being you know, everything that we can be so it's a one that I see in my own head almost every day somebody said it to me years and years and years ago. It wasn't a famous quote or anything but it's the one that sticks with me only you can spread wings and fly and just not clipping your own wings holding yourself back. I love every Maya Angelou quote she's a you know, a very famous and beautiful poet. She's got amazing quotes out there around. You know, if you're always trying to be normal, how will you ever know how amazing you can be? You know, such that it's a good one anything that she writes I, I adore. Yeah, there will be a couple.
Well, thank you Kelly for sharing your story and coming to our studio today. I hope you will enjoy the rest of the day and your photoshoot. Welcome to the project again.
If you have an interesting story to share would love for you to participate. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website, www. aleksandrawalker.com
This is the 45 over 45 chapter of MY BODY MY STORY podcast, where we celebrate rule breakers and role models - the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show their SENSUALITY, BEAUTY, SOUL, and TRUE ESSENCE.
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