Sinéad Cullen
About me

About me

“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one…..”

John Lennon

Welcome, 

I’m Sinéad and I support changemakers to access new levels of creativity in their work so they can generate positive changes needed to create better ways of living.

This is my journey of weaving creative threads and why I am passionate about nourishing your creative dreams of a Beautiful Earth

We live in extraordinary times: with climate chaos, housing crises, polarisation, hyper sensationalism, a loneliness epidemic and more access to information and ways of communicating than ever before in history. I believe the world needs our creativity to allow our hearts and imaginations to seek out brighter futures; building our courage to change what is not serving us and to allow for new possibilities.

If you’ve landed here you’re probably a sensitive soul who’s in search of ways to create a better world and you may be feeling tired and burnt out or frustrated by the rigidity of our current systems. The systems are  failing us because we live in a world driven by economic growth, profit and disconnection and that’s not what you’re about – me neither. 

My early roots

I have always been fascinated with creativity and the creative process: where ideas come from and the sense of connection I feel when I create. I grew up in a creative and sciency home and the three big passions that shaped my life were nature, art and physics. 

Nature. Growing up in the countryside in Ireland I loved the freedom we had to explore and gather treasures through the seasons and the abundance of food that miraculously came from our garden. I loved how industrious we were in autumn picking and freezing vegetables, wrapping apples in newspaper for the winter, making jams and chutneys.  It was easy to understand I was intrinsically part of nature and I was comforted by the awareness that we were nourished by nature’s abundance – literally. I grew up aware of climate change and dreamt of how we could all love our Beautiful Earth. 

Art. Any form of making and self expression amazed me: drawing, crafts, baking, dance.  When I was a teenager I would set up complex still-life compositions and sit for hours immersed: observing tiny details and drawing them patiently with a favourite 2B pencil. One composition included a Waterford crystal vase sitting on a mirror: I spent weeks absorbing the intricate detail of the light on the glass and the reflections in the mirror.  I was a stressed out, shy teenager and these quiet timeless spaces of meditative immersion brought me to a place of centred, peace and calm that helped me deal with the turbulence I felt.

Physics. Mam and Dad were always making things, and Dad was always taking things apart,  so it was innate in me to be fascinated with how things worked and were made. One of my favourite teenage school memories was making a DC motor using magnets in physics class! I still feel the thrill seeing the little motor humming away! 

At age seventeen I went to study architecture with the dream of designing beautiful buildings in harmony with the living natural world.  Architecture was my big love. It was a joy to use my mind and imagination together: sketching, technical drawing, researching, solving three dimensional problems and making models. It was hard work but I loved it! 

After graduation, office-life however, was a different kind of challenge. At first it was all about learning how to run projects, learning to weave ideas, designs, regulations, budgetary restrictions within multifaceted design teams and working long, long hours to meet deadlines.

I worked really hard, gained knowledge and began to see and offer alternatives to standard designs and material specifications: changes that would benefit the environmental design of buildings. In the main these ideas were met with resistance and skepticism.

In return, I berated myself for being overly sensitive and not clever, tough, loud or argumentative enough for the work. So I worked harder, regularly clocking 80-90 hours per week, to prove I was good enough. This led to more stress, frustration and cycles of burnout.

Over time, I felt myself harden as I attempted to become a more aggressive version of myself in order to be heard.  I felt out of place in an industry that didn’t seem to share my vision for a better world. I grew despondent as I began to understand the lack of awareness connecting architectural design and its impact on our world. The vision I had for the world felt far removed from reality and I couldn’t see a pathway towards it.  

I was burnt out, suffocating in a high pressure environment, which was affecting my personal life and leaving me feeling miserable and exhausted. I loved architecture and it broke my heart to realise that I could not survive in the industry as it was. I knew something needed to change but I didn’t know what, or how. Never one to give up, I started to look for solutions. 

Searching for answers

To better understand the problems and learn about new design solutions I did a Masters degree in Architecture: Environmental and energy studies. I began to understand the interconnectivity within the systems of life that weave us all together. 

I left architectural work, temporarily I thought, and worked with a consultancy on holistic approaches to development; weaving in holistic design thinking and actually creating projects in new ways. 

To deal with stress I began a conscious dance practice (no choreography, no steps; following intuitive movement) and I believe that it saved my life: it connected me with my own body and heart allowing me to process my own stress, recoup from burnout, begin to accept myself as I was, tap into my creativity and remember my dreams again. 

I travelled extensively for many years: deepening my practices of yoga and meditation,  understanding health holistically through Ayurveda, learning healthier ways of living using systems thinking methods such as Permaculture and exploring alternative community design in Indian Ashrams and Indigenous cultures in South America. 

Within this time I dedicated years to my own creative practice where I learned to express myself in ways that felt like the unlearning of unhealthy habits. I participated in group and solo art exhibitions in Ireland and New York creating installations, paintings, bronze sculpture and many collaborations. And I trained to become a Movement Medicine  teacher, I learned about trauma and how we can recalibrate our bodies through movement and creativity. 

Curious to learn ways of co-creating community, I trained with Architecture Sans Frontieres and learned about participatory design practices and I spent two years learning about intentional and indigenous communities in Europe and Colombia, writing a blog and crowd-funding to  finance the project. On returning to Ireland I was an active member of a co-housing project for two years.

In the last few years I have further deepened my knowledge by taking courses based in Creativity: Creativity & Change, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Process work; exploring what creates change in our lives and in the world around us through the use of creative practices.

Realising

As a highly sensitive person, holding a vision of a healthy, resilient world I’ve come to understand that all changemakers, working towards such a vision, must have space to both process their emotions and, in doing so, nurture greater levels of health and resilience. Looking back to how I, and so many others, reach burnout I can see we are looking for something that our current systems substantially lack: the capacity to engage on a heart level around work and embrace a different vision of the world. The systems we are operating in are not designed for change. 

Most of our world is driven by an economic system founded on the concept of exponential growth. Anything that doesn’t create growth is deemed not ‘profitable’. We even have an economic sector called not-for-profit instead of ‘for positive change’. War, the destruction of the rainforests, unsustainable fishing, mining and agriculture practices are rife because they are profitable. It is a patriarchal and colonial approach to growth by all means necessary. 

But nothing in nature can keep growing forever. Our systems need to change their current course or they will inevitably collapse.  They are deeply flawed and this is not welcome news: it can be scary to imagine doing things in different ways, even when we know they are not working.

We are living  in a time of so much unprecedented challenge. The old response is to knuckle down, put your foot on the accelerator and work harder but there is another way.  

There is another way

After all my searching, learning, trying and seeking I found my way back to myself and to the things I loved as a child: my relationship with nature, my curiosity to understand the seen and unseen world  and the practice of art. These resources remind me of who I am and inspire and ignite my creativity, bringing me back into a relationship with how and why I create, centering me in my body, heart and mind, allowing me to care for my wellbeing and giving me tools to communicate with the world: teaching me be the change that I want to see. 

When we harness our creativity, care for ourselves and break free from patriarchy and capitalism we think differently and we create differently. Now I work with people facilitating creativity for regenerative change with an awareness of our broken system and holding a vision of what is possible. Take a moment to Imagine a world: 

  • where nature is truly respected and we honour our own creative nature. 
  • Where vulnerability and imagination are as valued as power and money.
  • where we re-define intelligence beyond logical-mathematical and linguistic, to include all  types of intelligence.
  • where education is all about listening to the soul and heart calling of children. 
  • where history is all about learning from the past so that we do not repeat the same mistakes.
  • where we have an economic system based on regenerative principles, with no way to profit from war.
  • where design teams come together with communities to talk about health, wellbeing and happiness, as WE plan the future of our villages, towns and cities.
  • where hospitals are built in forests and orchards; where patients are surrounded by abundant life.

In the context of where we are now, the changes that are needed in our world seem far away, but don’t underestimate the power simple actions committed for positive change can have to inspire others. Change starts with one person.  

My work is about helping changemakers, like you, to harness your creativity as a personal resource and bring it into the work you do. I work with individuals and organisations to help people tap back into that incredible resource of creativity. To get back to the sheer wonder and joy of creating. This is the work that I do.

  • LEARNING – unlearning and learning new ways of facilitating change. 
  • BALANCING – allowing for healthy movement between perspectives
  • CONNECTING – Finding better ways to connect with ourselves and for our work to relate to people and the natural world. 
  • EXPRESSING – Removing the blocks to our fullest creative expression
  • DEDICATING – Having our work be part of something greater.

These days… 

I lean in to those elements that meant so much to me as a child: nature, art and engaging my curiosity. I embrace them in my creative practice to take care of myself.

I cherish my dreams of a more beautiful earth and I let them be a compass for my work.

Never again will I let myself be surrounded by people who don’t share some hope for change. 

Now I seek out fellow changemakers: dreamers, visionaries, storytellers, guides, disrupters, healers, caregivers, experimenters, weavers and builders to access new levels of creativity in their work so they can generate positive changes needed to create better ways of living.

There are a few ways you and I can work together

Workshops

I customise “Creativity for change” workshops for groups and organisations who are engaged in changemaking projects and initiatives.

One to one

I work one to one with individuals to support personal creativity to inspire inner and outer change. 

Creative nest

If you would like a nurturing space to support yourself and a creative project you can join my Creative nest sessions.  

A cuppa and a chat

To talk about how you might engage your creativity for change, you can schedule a 30 minute call to chat. 

For any of the above please write to me at sinead.a.cullen@gmail.com or click on the button below to schedule a call to find out more.

A few fun facts… 

I love the water and would happily spend the day swimming in the sea: I am basically an otter.

As a child I believed creativity came through me; that it wasn’t mine. So I would give my paintings and drawings away, as if they belonged to others. 

I have a supremely corny Dad-like sense of humour and tend to find humour in totally inappropriate situations. 

I believe sock puppets should feature in far more conversations than they do. 

I’m not a fan of the word ‘sustainable’ as I feel it’s been over used for green wash marketing. This is the only place you’ll find it on my website. 

Out walking I can be found creating circles: of pine needles, stones, leaves etc . It’s a creative meditation and a simple way of making a mark that beautifully changes over time. 

I have always wanted to live near mountains and the ocean.  I feel blessed to live in the shelter of the Mishkish mountains on the Beara Peninsula facing the wonderful wild Atlantic ocean. 

I love the words to ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. I cry every time I listen to it.