Deck of Dreams - - Creative Wellbeing
Bipolar Blessing
August 18, 2014
52 People, 52 Stories, 52 Dreams

Deck of Dreams

It's time to start positive conversations around our mental health experiences
Share in the quirky, funny but always real insights from those that know


Be inspired by the dreams of 52 different people impacted by mental health issues

Real Stories

Read about their uplifting, quirky and very real experiences.

Unique Art

A portable gallery of goodness with 52 original artworks


Paint, draw, photograph, or sculpt your dream and join in

What is Deck of Dreams?

The Deck of dreams is literally an illustrated collection of 52 hopes and dreams. Each card represents a person's dream. People from all around Australia participated in its creation.  Everyone who participated in the Deck of Dreams is connected through experience of mental distress. Carers, consumers, friends and family, all came together to share their dreams. It is a portable gallery of goodness with positive, inspirational, quirky and real messages of hope around mental health. When you buy the Deck of Dreams you are supporting the future of this project.

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality" - John Lennon


Discrimination around mental illness is prevalent. Fundamentally, we are all the same, we are all human. We all have dreams and a desire to connect. This project’s aim is to inspire dream creation. Imagine a world where the focus is not a person’s illness or history, but a person’s dreams and purpose.

1 in 5 Australians experience “mental illness” in their lifetime. Suicide is the main cause of premature death among people with a mental illness. More than 10% of people with a mental illness die by suicide within the first 10 years of diagnosis (SANE, 2008). This project has the potential to connect people to the part of them that wants to live.

  • Michael B
    The cards also have potential in therapeutic support, mental health, the educational sector and in holistic health fields. I can’t stop talking about the innovation and potential of the deck of dreams. Highest recommendation!
    Michael B
    Speech Pathologist
  • Tharusha
    I love my set of cards! They are beautifully made and very insightful with stories and dreams that I found touching and inspirational
  • Sarah Allen
    These cards are fun for my children to look at and enjoy as well as for me to read and gain inspiration from – wonderful!
    Sarah Allen
    Happy Agency
  • Kate
    I am privileged to work alongside people at various stages of their recovery journeys. The Deck of Dreams is a wonderful resource to inspire the people I work with to consider what their own dreams are and to create their own vision for a meaningful future. I love the Deck of Dreams, as do all of my colleagues with whom I have shared it.
  • Shyam
    Highly recommended resource to uplift, inspire and make you smile! These cards provide for the perfect reminder to reflect on all that is possible, beautiful and transformative within us all despite our life circumstance.
  • Melanie Lambert
    Jenny has made a dream come alive, for herself and others. The cards are beautifully done and a joy to read. I feel privileged to have been a part of it
  • Sue
    I found the insight, courage, dreams and hopes expressed by those who created each card so uplifting that I passed on sets to people I know who would be inspired and supported by their content.
  • Roxie
    I have my deck placed on my coffee table. They always get complimented when visitors come over. Love them!


In each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental "illness", that means over 4.7 million Australians.


Mental "illnesses" are the third leading cause of disability burden in Australia, accounting for an estimated 27% of the total years lost due to disability.


Approximately 2% of Australians will experience some type of eating disorder in their life, with women 9 times more likely than men.


Approximately 14% of Australians will be affected by an anxiety disorder in any 12-month period, that's about 3.3 million Australians a year!

Consider the impact of mental health issues of the 23.7 million people (Australian Bureau of Statistics) living in Australia. Data from Mindframe

Wait a Minute: Why the connection to Mental Health?

My own mental health journey officially began when I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder. At one point, when I found myself as an involuntary patient in hospital, my most prized possessions were my pens and drawing book. I found immense solace in documenting, doodling and drawing my experience. I know how healing art can be. This is why I knew there had to be an artistic component to the dreams.

Another aspect I contend with is the tone of ‘mental illness’ in Australia. Most the time it is very serious and frankly, it can be depressing. I acknowledge that it is a serious topic and there is a place for education of this nature. However, I believe there is room for some fun and laughter around this traditionally serious topic. Fortunately, recently there has been a shift in focus to "wellness", a far more uplifting approach.

For the Deck of Dreams I wanted insights from the community about mental health. Fundamentally, we are all the same, we are all human. We all have dreams and a desire to connect. Imagine a world where the focus is not a person’s illness or history, but a person’s dreams and purpose. This project’s aim is to inspire dream creation. Remember when you were a child and nothing was impossible. Let’s start conversations that also focus of the joy in life through living your dreams.

Read more about the journey to this point

The Story

It was about 2am in 2010 and it had just started to rain lightly. I flopped out of bed and got ready to climb 10,400 steps, but who’s counting? Needless to say this was not my typical morning routine. I was in Sri Lanka, an island country situated in the Indian Ocean on India’s South coast, and I was about to embark on a journey to conquer (sounds much more grand than saying climb) Adam's Peak.

Adam's Peak or Sri Pada is a sacred landmark, it is believed that Lord Buddha placed his footprint at the peak of the mountain; Christians believe the footprint is of St. Thomas, Muslims believe the footprint is of Adam while Hindus believe it is of god Siva. From where I was the small lights that trailed up the mountain seemed so far away. That's because it is far, that little voice is my head muttered. Pushing that thought aside, I knew that before the sun rose I'd be at the peak gazing down at the majesty below.

What about you, what's on your life list?

This journey was the seed that allowed the Deck of Dreams to grow from a conversation between climbing companions to a real life project. It was after the epic climb on the way down that I comprehended the task I'd just achieved. In my post-conquer exhaustion, I said casually, if only I'd known about this earlier I would have put it on my life list (much more affirming than the popular bucket list) so I could gleefully cross it off.  It was then I asked my climbing companion the question that started my inspired brain brewing. “What about you, what's on your life list?"

He replied that walking amongst the silverback gorillas in the rainforest were something he'd always remember. At that moment I knew I wanted to visually capture dreams, not just mine, but everyone's.

Wouldn't it be amazing to have a set of images that represented all your dreams, no matter what size? You could share them with people, and then be inspired to add to or grow your dreams?
It didn't matter what was said next, I already knew I would make it happen, I just wasn't sure how.

What resulted is a tangible artistic representation of the dreams of 52 people. It's my testament to the world that dreams are possible as this is one of mine. I truly hope that the images and words on this portable gallery of goodness does inspire you to achieve your dreams.

Your Questions Answered

1Where can I get a copy of the deck?
You can get your hot little hands on them from the shop
2How much is the deck?
For $20 it can be yours to own forever (plus postage and handling - unless you are ordering a lot, then we can arrange something special just for you, let me know)
3How else can I support this project?
Firstly, thank you for the thought. Best way is to tell your friends and everyone about it, we are on facebook. Another way is to join in!
4Can I get the Deck of Dreams at my organisation/shop?
The answer is a big YES! Drop me an email and we can talk
5How can I participate?
All you need to know is here

Featured Media

We've been published!
Inner Sydney Voice (Autumn 2014)

Read Article

Health Spirit (Autumn/Winter 2013)

Read Article

On the Verge (Winter 2013)

Read Article

A Snapshot of D2DL Stories (Second Edition, 2013)

Read Article

Mental Health Matters (Issue 24, Autumn 2012)

Read Article

The Mosman Daily (May 2011)

Read Article

Opening Speech (July 2013)

Read More

Jen Aboki

Deck of Dreams Creator

Jen loves to create, she's a handmade over store bought kinda girl. Her experience as a speech pathologist showed her that communication is more than just words and that’s why she loves art.


The Way­side Chapel has been a supporter of the project since 2011. Thanks also goes to Dou­glas HolmesSt Vincent’s Hos­pi­tal Syd­ney, for his input into the project and to Kir­ri­billi Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre and Plan­Big for hosting workshops.

During development, Deck of Dreams was part the Day to Day Living program. Day to Day Living provides people living with a long-term mental health issue with a safe and supportive environment to access educational, social and recreational group-based activities.

During it's time at The Way­side Chapel workshops were run at various services around the Sydney Inner City area, including Buck­ing­ham House and B Miles Women’s Foundation. Workshops have also been run outside this area at Kir­ri­billi and Parramatta.

The Deck of Dreams was produced in partnership with Day to Day Living in the Community funded by the Department of Health with support from The Way­side Chapel. The Deck of Dreams formed part of the City of Sydney Narrative Project funded by Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP Salary Trust.