Archives for posts with tag: big hearted business


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.


“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.


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.


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. 


On my 36th birthday I realised I had everything I had ever wanted.  Cue mid-life crisis.

It’s a nice problem to have, I know.  And yet a quandary none-the-less.

Now what?

I am achievement addicted.  I love the feeling of working toward something meaningful – planning, studying, saving, crafting, training, anticipating.  I get more of a kick from the process than the result most times.  And this trait has served me well to date.

But for the first time in my life, I found myself uncomfortably goalless.

I had it all – hunky hubby, gorgeous kids, happy home, healthy parents and successful career.  I should have been ecstatic.  Yet I was not as happy as I felt I could be.  But I did not breathe a word of this, for fear of sounding disgustingly ungrateful.

Then an insightful girlfriend gave me Getchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project”.  At first I was a little offended that she thought it apt, but on reflection it was genius gifting by her.  Much of the book is common sense, and it scared me to realise just how far I had strayed from the basics.  I resolved to make this the year I chose happiness.

In my eagerness to please and achieve, I had ended up carrying too much.  As wife, mum, boss, celebrant, photographer, friend and daughter, I made myself so busy that I had no time left to enjoy any of it.  And the stress of my over-commitment was manifesting in unwanted kilos around my waist too!

So I took stock of everything on my plate, and prioritised according to which brought me the most joy.  Then I made the brave decision to cut my job loose.

I’m pressing pause on my career, for now.  Giving myself permission to take a detour.  And making time to truly savour my many blessings.

Yes, my bank balance will suffer.  If I don’t adjust my lifestyle our savings will be hemorrhaging in fact.  But I am willing to take that.  After two decades of working I am deeming myself due for some long service leave.

If it sounds like I am justifying my decision, that’s true.  It’s been one of the most difficult I have ever made.  I love working.  And my job was with an awesome organisation, leading a team that I had hand-picked, for a boss I found inspiring.  But it took so much out of me that I had little left to give at home, and I hated that.

Having it all is possible.  But not having time to savour any of it was depressing.  Each week I survived the endurance test, but I was not having fun.  And it was making me feel yuck.

Sharing my decision to opt out has been an interesting experience.  People have told me they wish they could do the same.  You can.  Another working mum lamented the loss of a friend who shared the juggle.  I’m still here.  Others ask, perplexed, “so what do you do now?” which momentarily had me seeking a label for my new way of life.  My answer is simply “whatever I want!”  My father-in-law cheekily termed me “housewife” which is a title I hate.  It suggests I married a house.

I want my new title to be HAPPY.

I have not given up my career to be a mum.  I was already a mum.  I merely quit my job to create more space to enjoy my beautiful life.  And to invest time in being the best me I can be.

At the Big Hearted Business Conference recently, Catherine Deveny spoke about what she called ‘Fuck Off Status’ – that obligation free state where you can do whatever you choose without playing slave to anyone or anything.  Her advice included:

  • don’t have a mortgage or more children than you can manage on your own
  • use public housing, public health and public schools
  • have as few financial burdens as possible, because debt is the biggest barrier to being brave enough to do what you really want.

I resisted much of this messaging at first, but Catherine’s advice has played on my mind since.  She’s onto something.  And it’s sure worked for her.

I like the idea of not buying into the script that has been pitched to us – work hard at school to get to uni, work hard at uni to get a job, work hard at your job to get a raise.

There is another way to live.  All you need is less.  And perhaps choosing AWOL (another way of life) is the ultimate indulgence these days.

Stepping out is not the norm.  And I get that it’s an economic impossibility for many.  79% of Australian mums work, and that figure is growing.  For me, it’s merely a case of timing.  I am willing to bet that my career will get time to shine later.  But my kids will only be little once, and I will never be this young again.  I want to really enjoy now.

For years I have been striving for that elusive “balance”.  But I have finally decided that it’s not something you can achieve day to day.  We need to look at it over our lifetime.  There is a season for it all, and you can have everything, but it’s best not taken all at once.

My decision did not not feel fabulous right away.  Liberating, brave, and exciting – yes.  But it’s taken weeks for me to detox from corporate life.  And a part of me will always be tuned in to it.  I can take myself out of the office, but I don’t take away my professional skills in the same sweep.

Aussie music producer John Watson describes life as a four burner stove. “The burners represents yourself, your family, your friends and your career. True success involves you turning off at least two of those burners, and great success involves you turning off three of them.”

So it’s all about trade-offs and compromise.  I guess all we can do is be clear about what success looks like for us at each point in time.

Last week I read Alex Carlton’s “The Retro Housewife” article in The Age and I wondered if I was indeed the newest “cult of domesticity” recruit.  I have long been an admirer of the Stepford-esque 1950s aesthetic, but I draw the line at aspiring to the associated entrapment.

Inspirational baker and maker Pip Lincolne, responded to Carlton’s article with her take on women reshaping their lives and re-inventing themselves via all things home-y.  Her post “The New Domesticity” is a great read.

Perhaps I am just cementing gender stereo-types.  But I am no less ambitious or capable than I was when I was on the payroll.  I just want to find a way to do it that works for me and my family now.

That said, if I start building a backyard chicken coop or planning home-school lessons, somebody slap me please.

I’d love to hear about the bold calls you’ve made in pursuit of happiness.  Please do share.