Saturday 25th June 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #22. Joanne. 106/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #22. Joanne. 106/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

If Joanne, aged 52, and I had met in real life some years ago we would have been neighbours (almost). However, we have ‘met’ virtually now and that is awesome. Since we made a move to another part of Australia as did Joanne we have found some experiences in common. This woman goes on with her life with such energy and interest in all things ‘foodie’ and visual – her morning beach photos are magic and story-telling…so without further ado, here’s hers on the blog today. Thank you Jo for being part of the series.


What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

I have written and deleted a few answers to this question. I don’t think that I’m particularly courageous, in fact compared to others I really feel as though my life has been a fortunate one thus far – and I’m touching a lot of wood as I say that.

My mantra is “seriously, how hard can it be?” and I have, over the years, found out to my cost that some things can be very tough indeed. The truth is, if I think too hard about most things I’ll talk myself out of it every time.

I remember a time that some girls at the new school I’d gone to in country NSW told me to meet them in the oval after school because they wanted to bash me up. Their words, not mine. Not only was I the new girl but I was also smart-ish. Apparently, both of those things together were unforgiveable. Anyways, I turned up and they didn’t. I did ask them the next day why they didn’t show. I must have been 9 or 10 I suppose. Courage or stupidity? Either way they didn’t bother me again.

Then at 18 I decided that not only did I want to get a rugby league referees ticket, but I wanted to actually use it. I was the first woman to do so and North Sydney Referees had the courage to allow me to run lines and officiate at games. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I was being courageous, more that I had a point that needed to be made.

There were other points that have needed to be made at various times during my career and I wasn’t afraid to make them – even though on occasion it put my job at risk.

More recently we made the difficult decision to sell up in Sydney and move away from family and friends to start over again on the Sunshine Coast. While difficult to do, it was a decision made from a point of preservation, not courage. At the time everything we’d built up and worked for was at risk – as was our relationship and our mental and physical health. Yes, it took courage to trust in ourselves and walk away from our support networks but when all factors were taken into consideration it wasn’t a difficult decision to make at all. While we miss family and friends we otherwise haven’t looked back.

By far, though, publishing my first novel took more courage than all of that. I’m well aware of how trite that sounds, but it really felt as though I was exposing a part of myself and deliberately making myself vulnerable – and vulnerability absolutely terrifies me.


How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

To be honest I don’t think it’s changed me at all. I’m still the girl who would sit in front of that panel of senior referees and stare them down and answer their questions until they gave me a ticket.

I’ll still stand up for what I believe in and I’m still ridiculously scared every time I publish a new novel – and I have four out in the wild now. I suspect that the day I no longer care will be the day I should give it up.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Be true to yourself. Sometimes the only thing you can control is whether you act with integrity – in accordance with your own moral code or ethical standards, whatever they happen to be. That takes real courage.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

In many ways I think I’m less courageous than I used to be – less prepared to risk or expose myself. Goodness knows, I can’t be behind the wheel on the Bruce Highway without feeling panic. Having said that, I think I’ve developed a sort of resilience over the years that I didn’t have when I was younger and I’m definitely more aware of the consequences of my actions – although that awareness is always enough to stop me when I’m on a particular path.

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Sometimes it’s best not to think about it, but just to jump in. As a politician who I quite admire but won’t name here once said – “down the slope with one ski and no poles…” or something like that. After all, how hard can it be?



How interesting to learn more about you from this post. Love the surprises I have found in reading your story, especially about  becoming a rugby league umpire. As to the politician’s quote. How interesting! As for resilience I too know the more I seem to do that I may fear the better I become at it. However, it is not to say it’s any easier!

Thank you so much for sharing here and I look forward to seeing the comments after your post.


Social Media:


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Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 – All rights reserved.



  1. I’m a huge Jo fan and although we too met via the computer, I’ve been lucky enough to meet up in real life too. I loved this interview and I didn’t know about the rugby umpiring either (or maybe I did and my memory failed me!) I’m a big believer in just jumping in – someone once said to me “jump and the net will appear,” and it always does!

  2. Hi Jo – I love reading your answers and learned a bit more about you. I agree with your recommendation to be true to oneself. Thanks, Denyse, for featuring Jo in your Women of Courage 2019 series. #MLSTL

  3. I think if more people were aware that the only thing they have control of is how they react with what life throws at them. Could we perhaps be a more peaceful world if we took more responsibility for how we behave? We are all courageous at some point in our lives. Pleased to hear your move is a positive one, not easy to do no matter what the reason is. #MSTL

    • Suzanne, YES! This thing of wanting to control everything and everyone which seems to beset us when we are at our ‘worst’ is a coping mechanism of futility.

      However, as I know, it does not work. Very hard lessons!

      Thanks so much for your kind words.

      If you too would like to be part of the series let me know.

      Denyse x

    • Responsibility for our own actions – it sounds so simple, but… I agree with you though – I think we are all courageous in our own way and at different times of our lives.

  4. Thanks, Denyse for giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts on this subject.

  5. Hi, Denyse and Jo – What a wonderful read! “Getting on with life with energy and interest” radiates in both of your blogs…and is highly contagious.
    Thank you both for your positivity and inspiration.

    • I am so glad much of this resonated as a wonderful read Donna.

      Thank you!

      And if you would like to take part, just let me know. The series is going on in 2020 after a break of two months during what we in Australia call “the silly season.” Summer, no school, Christmas and holidays.

      Denyse x

    • awww thanks (she says blushing)…

  6. Hi Jo – lovely to see you here on Denyse’s series. I admire you so much for all the interesting things you do with your life – all that travelling up and down to Sydney, the novels, the foodie stuff – and so much more (now I have to add rugby referree in there as well!)
    Denyse thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • I know, the referee bit was the best surprise. Of course we know how clever this woman is but that sporting one took me by surprise.

      Joanne is a busy and multi-talented person alright.

      Thanks Leanne.

      Denyse x

    • Thanks Leanne. Sometimes it feels as though I’m barely keeping my head above water & at other times I just get on with it…

  7. Hi Denyse and Jo – I love that saying ‘how hard can it be?’ and I also admire you for your resilience, which I think is so much more important than it’s given credit for. I love your vibrancy and and positivity and wow a rugby league ref – you go girl!!! Sharing for #mlstl

  8. Indeed, how hard can it be? I love your first story about the girls wanting to bash you up – I hope you’ve used it in one of your novels….there’s a lesson in that alone! #LovingLifelInky

  9. Of course you’re courageous Jo! Moving states, away from family and friends was a brave move even though you were moving to a beautiful part of the country! Writing books and self publishing is very brave too because I can imagine so much of yourself goes into those books and it’s like sending your baby out into the big wide world and waiting to see what reaction there is etc. I think it’s very courageous of you to pursue your love of writing and cooking and travelling and all the things that give you joy – all while working a day job as well. Thanks for having Jo as part of your series Denyse! xo #TeamLovinLife

  10. Thanks to you both, Denyse and Jo, for inspiring us. Yes, you are adventurous and courageous, Jo, in the decisions you’ve made thus far in life. Moving away from everyone and everything that’s familiar is not an easy decision, I’ve done it and agree that it was the best decision we made, but definitely uncharted territory. Thank you for sharing with us! #MLSTL

    • Thanks so much Candi, I agree about the aspects of courage you see in Jo’s story too.

      If you would like to be part of the series, please let me know.

      Denyse x

    • Thanks Candi. It was certainly one of those fly by the seat of our pants moments & has been hard. Ultimately though it was the best decision we could have made.

  11. Love this and I didn’t know about the Rugby League referee either. I think it’s because you’re brave you’ve achieved wonderful things.

    I suspect some of the things you mention as ‘not being as courageous about’ are things we all get nervous about as we get older.

    I had a conversation with a friend the other day about our parents and we talked about them worrying about certain things so much more than they used to. I notice it a little with myself about things too.

    • How interesting it is to find out more about someone as people have with Jo and her RL refereeing.

      About the getting older and less courageous. I haven’t noticed it as I have “tried” to be more courageous but I suspect that’s personal. I do think, as my hub and I sometimes chat about there is a feeling of “oh, less time left, what will we do?” My Dad at 95 is most concerned about one thing. He wants to stay well enough to stay where he is till he dies.


      I hope your mum is finished with her surgery. Been a long day!

      Denyse x

    • I get so anxious about so much these days. I think that’s probably why I downplay other things because if I was brave I wouldn’t be so anxious. Of course, though, I know the 2 things are very different.

  12. So nice to get to know another side of our friend Jo. I appreciate her humility but sounds like she has done a number of courageous things to me. Most recently, moving across continent to start all over again with a new home, friends, community.

    This series has been so inspirational, Denyse. Thank you for sharing these amazing women with all of us.

    • Thanks so much Leslie for your kind words and appreciation for the series. A few more to go before it has a two month break and will be back inn February 2020.

      Denyse x

    • Thanks Leslie. It goes to show that often we don’t see ourselves that clearly…well, I don’t anyway! Moving was hard & I didn’t realise how hard until a relative said the same at my father’s birthday party last year.

  13. Thank you Denyse for featuring Joanne in your series. I have been following Joanne’s blog site this past year and I love her positive, genuine energy with all of the amazing photos.

    Nice to learn more about you, Joanne. Interesting how past experiences can make or break you. (Or a bit of both) Major kudos on the referee ticket.

    Starting over again is always courageous. I enjoy seeing your photos on Instagram!

    I especially love your answer on what you would recommend to help others who need courage.

    Great questions, Denyse. Thank you for your genuine and candid answers, Joanne. #MLSTL and shared SM

    • Thanks Erica, what lovely words about Joanne here.

      I think this is the best part about the series, sharing our stories and each of us feels a connection.

      Do consider being part of the series Erica, It’s going into 2020.

      Warm wishes
      Denyse x

    • Awww thanks. From a mutual admiration viewpoint, I love your gram too…