Grace Curley with roses

Grace Curley – an astonishing 12 year-old

In Children and Family, People, Biographies and Interviews by LivingNow2 Comments

Grace tells us; “My family taught me that success is not defined by what I have achieved, but by my ability to transform failure into wisdom.”


Earlier in 2016 Grace Curley was awarded a literature prize at her school on the Gold Coast. Here is her amazing winning poem (below), along with her even more amazing acceptance speech, and a story of her at the age of two, by her mother, Hong Curley. Like us, the team at LivingNow, you may be thankful that we have young people like this coming up to lead society to a better place.


Grace’s award acceptance speech

My poem is about a boy who lost hope and took his own life. His family, friends and the society have stopped caring about his existence. He has been reaching out to you and me, but we are all too busy to pay attention to his loneliness and his desperate cries for help.

Who is responsible for his loss of hope? I would like to leave this question for you all to contemplate. Some said that winning this competition is a great achievement, but to me, winning is not the point. I would only consider this an achievement if, only if, my poem has stirred something inside you; has awakened you to the reality that your children need more than just basic physical care. They need you to pay attention to how they truly feel; to listen more, talk less; to love more, judge less; to accept more, reject less; to have power with them, not over them. I hope, I really hope someone’s life would be changed as a result of my poem.

Many people asked me today who inspired me to write. Well, I can say Cassandra Clare, JK Rowling, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, Shakespeare… but the person who inspires me the most is my mother. My mum could hardly speak English when she migrated to Australia 25 years ago, but now she is a published author of a powerful psychological best-seller that is changing tens of thousands of lives.


Family is the backbone of children, the wind beneath their wings. My family is my inspiration. They taught me to act out of love, kindness and compassion only. They taught me to think for myself, forge my own path and create my own destiny. They taught me success is not defined by what I have achieved, but by my ability to transform failure into wisdom. Most importantly, they taught me that the love of ourselves is the reflection of our appreciation of others.


I want to thank every single one of you who has made this celebration possible. I would not be standing here without your hard work, sacrifices and sleepless nights. Thank you Dr. Annet Allan for sponsoring this category. Thank you Andrea Louise for putting this massive event together year after year with such success. Thank you to all the sponsors, volunteer parents and students, the amazing PNF association; thank you to all Somerset teachers, administration staff, librarians, nurses, café ladies, lunch chefs, gardeners, grounds man and janitors. I appreciate you, I value your work, and I thank you.

Last but not least, Thank you Mr. Bassingthwaighte, Dr. Bohier and Dr. Johnson for leading such an awesome team at the Somerset College.

I would like to donate my award money to the upcoming Thailand trip. Please use the money to buy some books for the kids at the orphanage so they too can benefit from the power of literature and be inspired to inspire the world with their own stories.

Thank you. Have an awesome night everyone.


The winning poem

Once in a house on the
top of a hill
He wrote a letter
It went on for three pages
He signed his name on the bottom of the page
With the quill his father had got him for his birthday that year
And he sent it to you

Once in a house on the
side of a hill
He wrote a letter
It went on for two pages
He signed his name on the bottom of the page
With the quill he had borrowed from his sister
Because his father had forgotten his birthday that year
And he sent it to you

Once in a house on the
bottom of a hill
He wrote a letter
It went on for one page
He signed his initial on the bottom
of the page
With the quill he had stolen from school
Because he does not think anyone would care about his name
And he sent it to you

Once in a house on
a very small hill
He wrote a letter
It only had a few words
He did not even bother signing his name this time
Because he no longer remembered what his name was
Or whom he was inside
And he sent it to you

Once in a deserted house
on a broken hill
He wrote a letter
It only had one word
With the bloody wrist he had slashed
He put it on the bedside table
Because he did not think he could get to the post office


Hong’s story of Grace as a toddler

by Hong Curley

One day, when Grace was about two and a half years old, in the middle of lunch, she stopped eating. I was doing chores around the house and, when I saw her stop eating, I was going to start feeding her and hurry her up before the food got cold. When I went near her, I noticed that she was staring at a grain of rice on the tip of her little index finger with all her attention. All the focus of her eyes was on this little grain of rice, her breath was gentle and calm, her face was somehow illuminated with radiance; she looked like she was awestruck by something.

I was about to say to her, “The food is getting cold my love. I have to feed you because you are eating too slowly”, but I stopped just before the words flew out of my mouth.

Her attentive, illuminating, intense focus stunned me

I did not know what was going on with her, but I knew something magical was happening. So I sat down quietly next to her and just stared at her beautiful, magical presence. She stared at that grain of rice for at least ten minutes, then slowly she turned to me, and, with the softest and the most beautifully satisfying smile, she declared with absolute certainty, “Mummy, God lives in this grain of rice.”

My heart stopped at that moment. Part of me died, the mechanical part of me just lost its force, and a spark of consciousness flooded my entire being. Warm tears flooded down my face with overwhelming joy, and I reached out to her and touched the eternity.

Little Grace wiped off my tears. She smiled, and whispered to me, “Mummy, I tell you a secret. When I am eating, I am talking to God.”

At that moment I knew I was given the task to take care of the soul of a divine master, disguised in the body of my daughter. From that moment, I gave her nothing but pure love and freedom.


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  1. Emma Stephens

    Thank YOU so much, Vikki! What a beautiful comment you’ve made! ❤️
    This is exactly why we at LivingNow do what we do; to spread inspiration, so that we all may be urged into better things in our worlds, whether that be attitudes or actions (or both! ?). So thank you (& thank your mum) for bringing us into your morning, so that we could then do our job, so that you can now go into your life with renewed focus towards what truly brings you to life! ?
    Warm regards,
    Emma – LivingNow ❤️

  2. Avatar

    To Grace Curley, Grace’s mother Hong, and the Editorial Team at LivingNow,

    Thank you all for the magical and inspiring article in the 200th edition of the magazine (congratulations).

    I do not know what drew me to the magazine this beautiful Sunday morning. It usually (I am so sorry to admit) gets added to the pile of unattended reading material, after being faithfully delivered by my mum month after month. I have just felt too busy juggling life to treat myself to a luxury I once knew, seemingly many years ago – reading for pleasure.

    The article that drew my attention ‘Grace Curley: an astonishing 12 year-old’, I think, may have changed my life forever. If this proves to be the case, I will be forever grateful. And I hope this pleases Grace, for that is what this young author intended.

    I would also like to thank Grace’s mother, Hong, for articulating what might be considered the guiding principle of parenting – to care for and nurture the very souls of our children. In my work as a psychologist, every day my heart aches with the stories of adults, once children themselves, whose very essence was broken and forever changed by parents unable to understand the importance of this task and the devastating and life-changing consequences of an uncared for soul.

    This article has inspired me to take the time to really reassess and define what is important to me and to sharpen my focus on doing what I feel destined for – to send messages to others that may inspire and change lives. For this is what a 12 year old girl, her mother, and an editorial team at a magazine dedicated to inspiring people’s greatness has done to me.

    Thank you all so much.
    Kindest regards,
    Vikki Prior

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