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.


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