Tuesday 24th May 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #54 Leanne @DeepFriedFruit. 73/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #54 Leanne @DeepFriedFruit. 73/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week and now the series concludes today with this post. Over the next two weeks there will be a look back at those who have shared their stories. Actually 56 women. The link to all of those stories is here.

Here is the introduction to the series and each woman’s story.

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.


Leanne, also known by her blog’s name of Deep Fried Fruit, has been blogging FOR ever..no, not really. However, I believe she started for a significant ZERO birthday and now admits to being at the next decade. Not one to hide away from her celebrations of life, she calls her birthday a festival. In real life, and yes, we have met, this person is warm, funny, generous and very caring. In fact, she stopped off on her family’s trip to Queensland two years ago so we could meet up!


Let’s get on with Leanne’ story…and I admit, she has written more than was asked but all good. The more we get to know about the ‘why’ of this lady!



  • I look back and think of all the things in my life that took great courage and I guess most things do.  Every new experience requires some amount of bravery.
  • I used to be timid and shy.  As an only child I found safety in the walls of my own home with my tiny family.  Then one day my mum was told she only had two weeks to live and suddenly my safety was about to be stripped.
  • Her bravery of fighting the disease and winning, changed who I ultimately became.  Being timid in life was no longer an option. I learned if you want to achieve results you have to stand up and take responsibility for your existence. You had to find courage.
  • As a result, I’m someone whose meta programming is set high on the “challenge” meter.  Some people take the path of least resistance in life, others take the path of most challenge. I’m the latter.


My favourite quote is by Sarah Henderson:

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.”

That’s how I live my life. I spend a great deal of time striding down great big long tunnels to turn that bloody light switch on. Which means I need a fair bit of courage I suppose.  Although I don’t necessarily recognise it at the time.


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

My mum’s leukaemia, backpacking overseas alone, buying my first home, completing my degrees, creating a career, marrying into a readymade family, having kids, dealing with fibromyalgia. The standard stuff.


I think there are some major milestones that took more courage than others though.

  1. “Retiring” from a well-established career at the age of 36 to concentrate on my family
  2. Becoming the creator/founder of several small business initiatives
  3. Deciding to self-publish my children’s book series
  4. Watching helplessly as cancer took our (my husband’s) eldest child
  5. Re-entering the workforce at the age many retire

While point number 4 is probably the one jumping out as the most challenging event anyone could possibly face, it’s still too hard to talk about.  So, I won’t be talking about the loss of a child today.

Instead, given it’s current, I’d like to chat about number 5.


Re-entering the workforce.


How did this change you?

  • For the past 15 years, skipping merrily outside the boundaries of the paid workforce as a sole trader and finder of cool projects, I’ve been striding through many tunnels turning on a shitload of Sarah Henderson-esque light switches.
  • You’d think that with all the results I’ve achieved when I was out there on my own, re-entering the workforce would be easy. I mean, I’ve done so much! I’m a force to be reckoned with, aren’t I?
  • I would have thought so too, but no.
  • Going back to work” has honestly been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
  • Why? Because I discovered something when I went back to work in corporate Australia.  I’m old!
  • I know right.  Shocking revelation.
  • I thought I could waltz right back in there and just be amazing. But it turns out I’ve got a bit to catch up on in the corporate world and apparently my brain isn’t quite what it used to be.


Re-entering the workforce changed me.  My confidence, resilience and emotions hit an all time low.

According to the numbers I am fifty years old, but my heart says I’m still a vibrant, intelligent and energetic 35-year-old who knows everything there is to know about everything. Hell, there are days I’ve got the mindset, energy and frivolity of a 20-year-old and the smarts of a 70-year-old Harvard professor.  Lingo and all.   Yet despite my love of life, my readiness to be challenged and the wealth of experience under my belt, the fact is, I’ve been out of the workforce for a bloody long time.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend?

  • Every single challenge in life presents an opportunity for growth.
  • While wallowing in self-pity, I realised I’d bumbled into this job without much thought nor planning.  Somebody needed me to fill a gap, so I filled it.  Then somebody else needed me to fill another gap and I filled that one too. That was my re-entry. I didn’t create my new work life; I simply fell into it.
  • It’s hard to stride down a tunnel with purpose when you’ve fallen into the tunnel.
  • So, I downed tools, re-wrote my resume, contacted recruitment and said, “hello world, here I am, and this is what I have to offer you”.  I took back control and started striding forward on my terms again.
  • I guess I’d like to say out loud for all to hear, if you find yourself in a job you aren’t enjoying, or that doesn’t suit you, or that makes you feel less-than, then do something about it.  Don’t stay there for staying sake.
  • I’m now focussing on my strengths, adding value where I know I can and not putting so much pressure on myself to be able to do everything.


I have decided to create my job, rather than have my job re-create me. Or more specifically, rather than have my job deflate me.



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

  • Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt. Our challenges make us stronger.  My challenges have made me stronger.
  • Facing problems can be hard. At the time it can even feel like the end of the world.

But looking back at the times where courage has been required is a fantastic reminder that we do survive them, 100% of the time, because we’re still here!


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


  • When you’re younger you tend to put up with a lot more heartache in order to get your foot in the door, particularly when it comes to jobs and careers.  I know I did whatever it took to show my value. I worked hard from the ground up.
  • When I re-entered the workforce, I thought I’d waltz back in without that need to go back to grass roots, and it was quite a dent to my pride to discover I wasn’t as shit-hot a I thought I was; or perhaps as I used to be.
  • When I hit rock bottom, I thought “wow, does this mean I have to start again? Has my experience over the last 30 years meant nothing?”
  • No.  We don’t need to start again. Everything we’ve done previously is still part of us, only we’re even better off because we not only have that experience, we also have a proven track record of resilience, growth and acquired wisdom.
  • If like me you don’t like your job, and the light at the end of the tunnel is dimming, then just stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.


Anything else to add?

  • This “being back at work” thing is new, and I am still finding my feet.
  • But if there is one thing I know for sure; I still have a good 15 years of work life left in me in which to create something that suits my strengths.
  • I may well create my dream job or a whole new career, or I may just decide that my current income generating activity is simply that, an income source.
  • The bottom line is, if the world feels dim, I’m now old enough and wise enough to know where to find the light switch.

Denyse offering me this WOC interview has been a fantastic exercise in recognizing where my inner lion has been needed in life and how I can apply it to my current situation.Thanks so much Denyse for this opportunity to reflect and to remind me where to find the light.


Thank you Leanne, you are an amazing friend and definitely a great woman of courage and it’s my privilege to share your story as the final one in the series over the past 2 years.

Thank you to all of the Women of Courage.

Over the next two weeks, there will be a farewell and appreciation for those who shared in 2019 and in 2020.




Social Media:

Blog/Website:  www.deepfriedfruit.com.au

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DeepFriedFruit

Instagram: @DeepFriedFruit

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.



  1. Oh Leanne that quote is just the bomb! Thank you so much for sharing your incredible wise words from your life experiences. I’m in awe.

    Denyse, what a way to end the series with this interview from Leanne. Two years is an amazing effort to show up and deliver these wonderful interviews to us amidst your own health challenges. I’m in awe of you too. I shall miss the series greatly.

    The Women of Courage featured have taught me so much about resilience and the power of story telling. Thank you for bringing this series to life and a big thank you to all the women for their selfless sharing.

    Sandra. Xx

  2. Thanks so much generous friend!

    Yes, it’s a bit sad it is all coming to an end. ‘

    It would have gone for longer if some people had not said no…or procrastinated about sending responses but I hold no negativity about that. It was something anyone I approached had to feel OK with doing so.

    Mind you, I also know for many the submissions came to me with some ‘fear’ about how it might be received. In all cases, very compassionately they were!

    Over the next 2 weeks each of the years will be highlighted.

    Thank you for your generous support, always!

    PS Sarah Henderson’s books were awesome. I read them ages ago too.

  3. It’s a shame the series is ending, but it’s ending with a mighty bang. So many lessons in leanne’s story – and I can identify with it in relation to the day job comments. I haven’t read any Sarah Henderson so am off to google her.

    • Thanks Jo, it is hard to see it conclude. I did have some people still ‘out there’ who had yet to return responses but I also determined that I had made sufficient requests so it was time to stop.

      Sarah Henderson’s works will give you insight into life of yesteryear on a very remote Australian property. I read all of her books which came out probably in 1980s and even into 1990s.

      Thanks for being a loyal and regular supporter here AND sharing your story. I agree, “this” one was right for the finish up too!


    • I figured you’d probably relate re the day job Jo. Two peas in a pod you and I!
      Thanks for reading!

  4. Leanne you def it rly tick the boxes to qualify to be a Woman of Courage. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I can definitely relate to them

  5. I love this. And I love the quote. I think returning to the work force is a much bigger deal than people realise – yet also so much more rewarding than people recognise too. Great post to finish on.

    • THE. BEST. QUOTE. Has kept me on track for years. Returning to the paid work force was definitely a bigger deal than I’d realised it would be. From a self awareness point of view if nothing else. Thanks for reading Lydia xoxo

    • It is a big thing and I admit I never actually did it. I was full-time working in schools from 20 to 52. Then after a break, I went back part -time. My biggest and newest challenge back then was stepping into a class setting with older adults needing (or being there for the chat) to learn English as a second language. I did not love it but I learned a lot about me!

      Thanks Lydia.


  6. Leanne

    Thank you for sharing your journey, the major life challenges and achievements and also the return to work!

    You are right, ‘birthdays are festivals’ and your frame of mind regarding age is inspiring!

    SSG xxx

  7. Hi Leanne, Returning to the workforce after having been your own boss and running your own business is a big deal. You’ve got the right attitude though. Good for you! Thanks, Denyse, for the nice ending of your WoC series with Leanne’s story. #lovin’lifelinky

  8. Hi Leanne, it takes courage to not only find the bloody light but to turn it on, so I’m right there with you! What a great attitude to have and good on you for showing up and telling them like it is.

    Thanks Denyse it’s been a fabulous series and I’ve ‘met’ come wonderfully courageous women and Leann’e story was a great one to finish with, so much to love in her words. You, though, are one of the most courageous women 🙂
    What’s next??

    • I love the picture of all of us striding down that tunnel and lighting the damned light!! Haven’t we all had some times doing that.

      Thank you so much for your kind words about the series (and me!), Deb.

      I am keeping an open mind about what’s next but do have a review of both years coming up for the next 2 Wednesdays.


  9. Resilience is the key to so many things. I think some people may naturally be more resilient, but age and experience sure help! Absolutely love the Sarah Henderson quote. I’d have to say that’s how I met my husband.


  10. Hi Leanne – I love that quote by Sarah Henderson so much! It’s been 8 years now since I left my corporate job. I imagine it would be very confronting for me to return now, and I would feel SO OLD! Good on you for persevering and not settling in a job which you’re not enjoying but rather charging down that tunnel again. Good for you! Thank you Denise for your lovely series. I loved being one of the participants and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all the other posts. It’s been fabulous!! xoxo

    • Thank you so much Min, and good to see you back here to read and comment. Yay.

      I have enjoyed putting together the series. It may have had even more stories but not everyone got back to me after a few reminders so I let that be.

      In the next 2 weeks there will be a retrospective of each year.

      Take care,

    • Thanks Min 🙂 Yes, feeling old. But then I forgot that I’m old and I get a shock when others say to me “oh yes, my Mum does that too” or “that’s something Mum would say” and I realise that I am actually old enough to be their mothers. Damn it! LOL

  11. Hi Leanne – you were an excellent choice for Denyse’s final guest and what you say about changing career paths in your 50’s is so true. I pulled the pin on a miserable job and chose my own needs over everyone else’s for the first time in my life. It was the best decision I’ve made and I’m not sure that I see the workplace as being where I ever want to return. I’m happy doing my own thing atm and choosing a lifestyle that is well within our budget means that the $$$ aren’t a real motivator any more. This really is the age to start choosing ourselves instead of denying ourselves.

  12. My first thought when I began reading this post was that I wasn’t a woman of courage; I’ve never really done anything courageous… but by the time I finished reading I realized that yeah, I am. We have all taken new paths at one time or another that took courage to try (like when I pulled my boys from school and began homeschooling!). What a wonderful & encouraging post.

    • Thanks so much Joanne. I am really glad you could see your own courage as you continued to read. I reckon we women downplay so much of ourselves that it does take a bit of a wake up call – such as what you had to do – to bring it into action.

      I approached many women with the offer that they might like to share their story. I got some return with “I am not courageous” or “no thanks, I can’t see myself as that”. Yet, I did. From my observations anyway.

      Take care and thanks again for your wisdom re yourself!!


    • Thanks Joanne. There are so many people who are “obviously” courageous, but I agree with you and Denyse, we are all courageous in some way. We have to be. So much in this world takes courage … even the day to day activities for some.
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  13. Thanks so much for having me Denyse and for allowing me to interact with your guests. Such a lovely “party”. So sad it’s all ended!
    Well done on such a wonderful series and the honour for being your lucky last.

    • I sure did not know how long the series would last Leanne and I am grateful it spanned two years.

      Your story, like many, is heart-felt and that is part of the appeal.

      We are ALL courageous women, some just don’t see it as well as others in themselves.

      Considering how long we have been friends in blogging land and real life too, it IS fitting for you to be “lucky last”.