Friday 2nd October 2020

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!

 

Background

  • 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.

 

Denyse.

 

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.

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Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

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

This week we meet Leanne who is 57. I first ‘met’ Leanne via blogging and we clicked for a few reasons. One being we both worked in remote parts of our respective states when young and two being we are happily married grandparents! Here’s Leanne telling her story of courage.

 

 

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

I feel like a bit of a fraud answering these questions because I’ve never faced a life threatening illness or event. Maybe the closest reference to living bravely for me would be in the area of our finances.

We’ve been married for 37 years and for a lot of that time we’ve had a pretty basic income. My husband tends to enjoy a more flexible work style than your standard 9-5 and that has entailed a lot of times when we have lived on a part-time income. He has worked for himself freelancing with the resultant ups and downs, and also returned to study for 3 years to change professions in his 50’s.

When you’re a planner and an orderly person, having an uncertain and fluctuating (or non-existent) income when you’re raising a family, paying a mortgage, covering bills, buying food etc can be very stressful. It puts strain on your marriage, it puts pressure on the person who pays those bills, and it means that you have to step up and do more than you might have chosen to in different circumstances. For me it meant returning to work earlier than I planned to after having both our children – but managing to juggle time so that we never needed to use childcare (something I’m very proud of as that was a real priority for me).

 

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

Having an uncertain income has changed me in a lot of ways. My visions of being married to a career driven person and staying home and being a housewife when my kids were younger got tossed out the window fairly early in our marriage. I had to come to terms with the fact that the husband isn’t always the primary breadwinner – sometimes it’s a shared responsibility. I’ve needed to step up and share the workload and income earning for all our married life, but the plus side is that in the process we’ve also shared the child raising, school parenting, housekeeping etc roles too. It meant that I kept my skills current and didn’t ever have problems finding a job or taking on the challenge of learning a new position due to being away from the workforce for any length of time.

I’ve also needed to change my way of looking at what is truly needed for a happy and satisfying life. We’ve learned to manage our finances over the years and live frugally (but not in an impoverished way), to prioritize paying the mortgage and other bills first and making sure we had savings to fall back on when the leaner times arrived. Money is certainly not as important as I thought it would be – you can get by on a lot less than you imagine if you’re prepared to make compromises and be a little bit creative in how you view the essentials of life.

 

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

I’ve learned that our society focuses too much on material wealth and the idea that you can’t live a fulfilled and happy life unless you have it all. What my experience has proved is that you can live well by living within your means. If you haven’t got the money then you don’t buy it on credit – you wait until you have the money before you spend it, you don’t aspire to keep up with the Joneses, and you don’t spend randomly and thoughtlessly. Finding a second-hand bargain, or buying when something is on sale can be more rewarding than instant gratification.

Often when finances are precarious it’s easy to panic, but if you’re willing to make compromises – both of you going out to work, or both working part-time, or doing a job you might not normally consider (I sold Tupperware for a year when our kids were too little for me to have a 9-5 type job) you can always make ends meet. You might not have a brand new car, or an overseas trip, meals in expensive restaurants, or the most expensive clothes and shoes, but you will have plenty of food to eat, the bills paid, a roof over your head, and a sense of pride in what you’ve achieved.

 

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

I’m definitely less worried about what life will throw at me these days. I’ve seen our marriage weather the storms of financial strain (many marriages fail when money gets tight). We’ve learned to pull together and to adjust to each other’s differences. My husband has learned to be careful with money (he was more of a spender in his pre-marriage days) and I’ve learned to be more flexible in my expectations of who the breadwinner should be and how much money you need to be “well off”.

I’ve also seen what you can achieve with discipline and care – we were debt free by the time we reached our 50’s. We own our home, two cars, enjoy modest holidays, have plenty in our savings, and are in line for a fairly comfortable retirement. I used to joke that we’d be living under a bridge eating catfood when we reached 65, but that’s far from the case (thank goodness!) In fact, having managed things as well as we have means that I’ve actually had the courage to leave my toxic workplace and not feel the pressure to find another job – all that hard work has paid off!

 

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

As I said at the beginning, I can’t imagine giving advice to people who are facing cancer or the death of a loved one, or any other life changing event. All I can say is that life has no guarantees, we aren’t automatically dealt a hand of cards that gives us health, wealth and happiness. Instead, we take what life gives us and work with that to the best of our ability. We put ourselves out there and work hard, we don’t look for handouts, we don’t throw our hands in the air and give up, we don’t look to be rescued – we just get on with it and push through the barriers.

Life is truly wonderful, we are so blessed to live in a country that is safe and where we have a standard of living (and health care) that other countries envy. We need to appreciate all that we’ve been given and make the most of it. Tough times are guaranteed – there’s no free ride for the majority of us – and it’s having the courage to look for a way through and then getting on with it that ultimately makes all the difference.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your story Leanne. I am always appreciative of your blog, the opportunity to be a guest poster and to join the link up you have (see below) each Wednesday with Sue called MidLife Share The Love. This post, in fact, will be on that link up!

Denyse.

Social Media :

Blog/Website: https://www.crestingthehill.com.au

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

 

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 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

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