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By the unflattering light of a neon snake, I had an epiphany today.  

I want to be a Catherine Deveny.

Recently I quit the best job I ever had to try a less conventional career path. I was burned out by two decades on the corporate treadmill, frustrated by the inflexibility of western working ways, and determined to find alternatives. 

I’m on a mission to create a big life, not just a big living. So I’ve been taking random creative adventures. And today I attended a writing masterclass by the delightfully feisty Catherine Deveny

As I parked my car, Catherine cycled past in her fur coat and raspberry beanie. It struck me just how fabulous she looked.  She exudes fearlessness, fulfillment and freedom. And I wanted what she’s got.

“You can’t order hummus until you know it exists” said Catherine at the Big Hearted Business conference.  I realised today that Catherine is my hummus. 

In my teens it was Marilyn Monroe for working her curves.  In my early career, it was my big boss lady who successfully juggled it all.  And now, it’s fearless, fulfilled and free Miss Deveny who’s my lighthouse.

Fearless

“Pull your finger out and sing from your heart” Catherine challenged us. 

She is unapologetic, opinionated, feisty and funny. And her super power is her ability to articulate so that others connect.

If you put good stuff out there it comes back in spades. All you need is intent, charisma and persistence. 

For the first time in my life, I do not have a plan. And that excites and terrifies me, in equal measures. But Catherine encouraged blind faith by saying “you only need to be able to see as far as the headlights”. The rest will come into light with time.

My perfectionism streak has caused paralysis too often. So I need to lower my expectations of myself in order to get stuff done. “Perfection is the enemy of good” she said. Don’t let it stop you. 

Showing up is the hard part.  But once you’re in the pool, you will swim. 

And it’s only crazy if it doesn’t work.

Fulfilled

The satisfaction is in doing the work, even more so than getting it published, praised or paid, explained Catherine.

She has clearly been rewarded, sought out and most of all satisfied for saying what she thinks.

Great people do great things.  And if not you, someone else will do it.  Why not you?  Crack your own whip.

Free

Catherine titled her creative, financial and emotional independence “fuck off status”. It’s the freedom to say no, as you please. And it’s a pretty neat picture of success for a yes-person like me. You see, I’m a pleaser. And my inability to say no frequently gets me overcommitted and overwhelmed.

I also envy her inhibition. “Loving your body, as it is, is an act of social disobedience” she proclaimed. And I love that kind of rebellion.

Apparently, for every positive thought, we have 17 negative ones.  That’s tough competition for our fragile egos. The trick is to know to expect the negative ninnies, and when they shout, promptly tell them to piss off because you’re busy. Then you’re free to do great work.

 

From the moment I entered the funky Collingwood warehouse today, I felt inspired. Modern artwork adored white walls and hipster coffee orders abounded (strong decaf late anyone?). 

Catherine cracked the whip and made us write. And I was inspired by what people produced with the combo of reckless abandon and a ticking clock.

I’ve reignited my new sense of urgency. Before my eyesight fails, I must shoot beautiful photos.  And before my hands seize up with arthritis, I must write words that matter. I do not want to be on my deathbed regretting the risks I was too scared/tired/busy/embarrassed to take.

Catherine pitched today’s workshop as “creative laxative” and it’s given me the writing runs. Despite having a family to feed and concert tickets, I was determined to squeeze out this post fresh tonight. 

Catherine reckons that the only difference between her and anyone else is that she did it.  And so I vow to too.

My tools of trade will be different to Catherine’s 700+ columns, 8 books and countless stand-up gigs. I marry people. I shoot people. I write. And as a celebrant, photographer and blogger I am excited about finding freedom, fulfillment and my very own brand of fabulous.

The neon snake artwork that hung over today’s workshop stated that “fear eats the soul” and so I am getting over myself and sinking my teeth in. You have been warned.  And you can follow along via this blog (sign up in the footer).

Thank you Catherine, for the kick up the arse. 

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