It’s ok, to not be ok.

Hello. It’s been a little while since I wrote here, or anywhere really, but I’ve had something brewing for a while. Something which I didn’t know if I could (or would) share but I can’t seem to shake off a feeling telling me to write, and hey, who am I to deny that part. So, if you’re ready… Continue reading It’s ok, to not be ok.

Dear Career, It’s not you, it’s me…

// Edited version originally published on Iris Lillian 30 November 2016 //

Living the dream, kind of

It’s mid-2014 and I’m an ambitious career-driven thirty-something marketer with a good job in finance. The truth? I’m utterly miserable. Underneath the mask is the reality that I feel increasingly stuck in a career which neither lights me up nor inspires me to climb any kind of ladder. I feel like I’m going through the motions of life. I’m completely disillusioned by the corporate world and I’m wondering what the hell is wrong with me. The mask is starting to slip.

On the outside looking in, I’m living the dream. But, on the inside looking out – through a thick heavy confused fog – things aren’t pretty. I’m lost.

The well-trodden path

Multiple industries and job titles in a ten year marketing career and it never felt enough. Constantly searching for the salary, the recognition, the appreciation, the job title that surely one day would make me feel fulfilled; ‘this one, I’m sure this one is it, it’ll be great, I’ll love it, just you wait and see’. Nope. That feeling I was searching for never came. Instead, a feeling I couldn’t shake; there must be more to life. Surely? Please!

But, it’s too late…isn’t it?

But, who changes careers in their thirties? For as long as I could remember I’d wanted to run my own business, but what could I possibly do? Who was I to think I could run a business? So, I convinced myself that I was happy enough. I was good at my job, I was rewarded financially for it and I always loved the people I worked with. Surely that’s enough, right? And hey, I’m sure everyone hates their job, sometimes?

Yet every so often, as though trying to get my attention, life would have me stumble across someone who loved their job. Someone whose eyes sparkled with a passion that was undeniable. My soul yearned for what they had. When people asked me what I did, I cringed a little. Who wants to hear about a boring job in marketing.  And that innocent question from your friends when you catch up? “How’s work?” (Oh god, please don’t make me to talk about work, it’s so boring… and shit…and same old. Answer: “Oh fine, what about you?” – deflection, bam!)

But like it or not, I was a marketer. The path had been chosen. What else would I do? I’d moved to the other side of the world solo. How could I possibly afford to restudy (even if I knew what it was I wanted to do?) How could I start back at the beginning and survive on a salary less than what I was on? At least I have a job…and it pays well…blah blah blah. Your mind might be creating different questions or ‘facts’, but it’s pretty good at arguing the case for safety, isn’t it? The fear is and was very real. But do you know what else was very real? The feeling of utter discontent, matched with a feeling that if I continued doing what I was doing it would not end well. I disguised it well, but I was stressed out, unhappy and my self-worth was rock bottom. Sunday night blues were at an all time high, as were my recurring migraines. Something had to give.

The “Ah-Ha” moment

Around the same time. I moved into a new apartment. My first place to call home in Sydney. Finally, I could own things again (my own bed! a teapot! cushions!). And while a sofa might not exactly seem like an item to aspire to owning, for me, it was important to create a space which felt like home. I was a home bird. So create a home I did and friends were rather complimentary about the result. Enter a question, asked by several people:

“Hey, you’re pretty good at this,

have you ever thought about Interior Design?

Lightbulb moment. Yes!

If I could turn back time

If I had my time again choosing my university degree, I would have chosen either Graphic Design or Interior Design. Art was always my favourite subject at school and as a child I was forever giving my childhood bedroom a makeover, I just loved making spaces pretty. I loved making things. But, at that impressionable time when you’re deciding what you’ll ‘do’ in life, I sort of allowed myself to get side tracked by what others expected of me and what my peers were doing. Law, Medicine, Economics. And so, Business Studies (and later, Marketing) was as close to creative as I would allow myself to get without feeling like I was taking the easy option and doing something “arty”.

Making it happen

Back to 2014 and the seed had been planted. I looked into restudying. Geez, It was really expensive. Back under the carpet that idea went. But a month or two later (after a particularly trying day at work which involved tears) I found myself googling design schools again. There was an open day the next day at Sydney Design School. A sign! I took a taxi from work on my lunch break and for the first time in a long time, when the Director of the school spoke about the school and the course, I felt like a part of me was waking up. YES! Hell yes! Where do I sign?

6 months later I graduated. I had a qualification in Interior Decoration & Design and there was no way was I going back to my corporate job. I resigned. With a shit load of debt and no savings to my name, there and then, I just made a choice. And while some people cheered me on, others questioned my sanity and why I was throwing my career away

“Um, are you sure this isn’t just a hobby?”

Deep inside, without doubt though, I knew this was the start of something which would change my life.

F**k it. I’m doing this”

My new life

And change my life it has. We’re nearing the end of 2016 and I’m officially a business owner. I’m an Interior Decorator and Stylist and that sparkle in the eyes I admired in others? It’s now my reality. I love what I do. I love talking about it. It doesn’t even feel like work. My life, and the wayI live it, has changed immeasurably. For one, I’m writing this from Bali where I’m spending the month because well my boss is kinda cool and she said it was ok. Seriously though, this journey unleashed this creative side that I forgot existed. I started writing. I started to feel like I knew who I was. I remembered that life is for playing.

It’s not all rainbows & unicorns

And here I must acknowledge that the challenges along the way have been immense and plentiful. But to name three biggies:-

  • Feeling like a fraud – Was I really an Interior Designer? Could I really charge people for this new found skill of mine? Of course the answer to both was yes but this was a big step to get over in those early days. When someone asked me what I did, they’d get my whole life story, as if trying to validate my choices. But with each new client it got easier. And like any job, it takes a little time to build confidence.
  • Money, Money, Money – ‘If your doing a job just for money there’s a good chance you’re in the wrong job’. We’ve all heard it. But we’re all also conditioned to believe money comes from a job. It pays the bills. And while that’s good. It’s not good enough. But money was and continues to be a major fear for me throughout this process. But honestly, I’ve less money than I’ve ever had. More debt than I’ve ever had, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been. A new found richness.

Asking for help (and being able to accept it) – People actually love to help and once I accepted that I started asking for help where help was needed. And it came in really cool forms that I couldn’t have imagined. You don’t need to do it all alone. Allow others to share with you and be open to possibilities.

I’ve been stretched more than ever before but every stretch has taught me something about myself. And I’ve always come out the other side, knowing more about Laura or business or both.

Just do it

I want this story to give you hope. If you feel the way I felt, I want you to know that what was possible for me it is entirely possibly for you. Find the courage that I know you have. I know it’s scary, I was scared. But do you know what’s scarier? Another 30 years feeling suppressed and unheard and miserable.

Life on the other side

And I can also tell you that on the other side of that fear is something truly magical. The doors which have opened for me this last year, the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met, every single bit of it has been worth it. I’ve never once regretted my decision. Not once.

Maybe it’s not logical, maybe it doesn’t make financial sense, maybe people will tell you that you’re crazy but screw that. Get out of your head and into your heart  and let it lead. It knows the way.

“Surrender to what you love & let it guide you.”

Please do not do the world the disservice of not sharing your gift with us. And please don’t do yourself the disservice of not following your dreams.

And, I promise,


(*it always is)

Resigned to happiness.

I’m sitting looking out onto the rice fields of Bali and it’s really one the prettiest of views I think that my eyes have ever had the pleasure to enjoy and I’m wondering how I got here? Not literally. I mean I took a taxi, then a plane, then a taxi, then another taxi, then a motorbike along a palm tree lined track to the most magical home-from-home. That I know. But, how did I come to be able to take a month, one whole month (well 34 days to be precise and for those aware of my visa dilemmas!) in this beautiful, magical even, place? Continue reading Resigned to happiness.

Face Everything And Rise…

When the urge to write comes over me, it’s totally non-negotiable, I simply must write. And that very urge struck again this week, so here I am writing another blog post on a blog I’d thought had maybe had its last entry; existing online only as a moment-in-time. A small part of my online footprint collecting virtual dust, being revisited occasional by me, and only me. Or, existing only until I forget to renew the domain name and it disappears into the t’internet black hole for ever and ever… But, perhaps it’s not quite ready to start collecting dust just yet. Continue reading Face Everything And Rise…

One dreamer. One dream. One year.

It’s almost a year to the day since I left my corporate job. And, almost by chance, my toes have returned to the sands of Byron Bay. It was here that I scribed my first blog; fresh from quitting my job, with one bag of clothes and another whole bag of mixed emotions. Was I scared? I was shit scared. Was I excited? Hell, yes. I couldn’t really explain why, but I knew I had to follow this feeling that was telling me there had to be more. And boy did that feeling pay off, what a year it has been. And, like all good 1 year anniversaries, I want to celebrate it, but I also want to reflect & share. So one year on from those very first can-I-really-do-this?! words on a page in a leafy corner of Byron, here I am compelled once again to write. knowing I’ve something to say, but as ever, not quite sure – until I find myself at the ‘publish’ button – what that will be… Continue reading One dreamer. One dream. One year.

Get out of your own F#$%^!& way

Did you ever stop to think that maybe the only thing standing in-between you, and you achieving something great, is, well…YOU?

Three people told me last week to believe in myself. Three. Now, I’m sure someone important somewhere figured out that a person needs to hear new information at least three times before it registers into his/her mind. Well, after the third time in one week I was definitely starting to take notice, also noticing a hint there might be a blog post a brewing. Marking a return to my blogging after a bit of a blog holiday. What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I’d gone?! With my last post on meditation, you’d maybe thought I’d run off to be a monk. Not so. Still here. Still meditating. But, while I’ve missed the writing, I just haven’t felt compelled to write and writing for writings sake is just too hard, it has a feeling of homework about it, and it would, I’m quite sure, result in a pretty average read. But, here I am returning, fingers to keyboard, with a feeling I’ve got something to share. And hopefully for your sake, an above average read.

It’s that time of the year when we start talking about the end-of-year festivities & the new year just around the corner. A time that often results in reflection. Many of us will already have been reviewing the past year in our mind and wondering if we achieved enough, did enough, made enough money, travelled enough, saved enough, exercised enough. Enough already! It gets to this time of year and sometimes it feels like someone hit the fast forward button – everything is going faster and we talk about Christmas like it’s upon us all ready, then we blink (go to a few parties, eat a mince pie or two…) and well suddenly it IS upon us already. For me, probably unsurprisingly, a lot of those reflections are starting to creep in around my business. Have I done enough? Have I achieved enough? And even the existence of this blog can make me feel more vulnerable to those reflections and / or judgements of progress because I chose to share that progress with you the reader, I chose to tell my story; the good the bad and the ugly.

And I’ll be honest with you, another reason for not writing recently is because I worried I was being a bit of a fraud. Worried that because I’d returned to paid work I’d given up the right to write a blog about starting a business because I was cheating. I told myself I’d taken a step backwards. I imagined some of the things people might be saying. None of it true. All of it a self-created illusions. Not entirely useful thinking, is it? But if you’ve read my other posts you know that self-doubt has been a biggie for me on this journey and I’ve written about that often in the blog and it continues to come up so that I can continue to grow through it.

On my intro blurb to this very blog blog back on the beach in Byron in February this year, I wrote…

“…& by New Year’s Eve 2015 I plan to be (comfortably) self-employed as an Interior Designer

Well there you go. Shoot for the stars. Interesting isn’t it I used the word ‘comfortably’ in brackets, assuming perhaps that this part was a bit of a stretch target and if need be the sentence could still exist around it. And really, being self-employed is the easy bit; register an ABN and company name and technically, boom, you’re in. Making it a success is probably the part that’s going to need the oompfh. The brackets were a bit like my safety net though. The ‘Ok, so I’m um really doing this, but um… I’m not saying it’s going to 100% work’…part. The self-doubt part. The fear talking part. The part that has the potential to start getting in the way of something great if I continue to give it air play.

I was at an event this week in Sydney where I heard 8 entrepreneurial women share their journeys of success in business and life, and their relationships with money. It was massively inspirational stuff and it was the kick-up-the-butt I needed because honestly the only difference I could see between me and these successful women is that they’re doing it knowing they can and I’m doing it wondering if I can. Each of them their own biggest advocate and here I am playing the role of my own biggest criticYep, I realised I’m kinda getting in my own way.

Back in February when I left my job, I didn’t know how I was going to make this all happen, I just knew I had to try and the statement above, let’s face it, well it isn’t exactly very heart-led inspiring stuff is it? Instead it’s a pretty matter-of-fact statement that served a purpose at the time to get me started. And back then I was sort of gently stepping into the unknown, not wanting to shout too loudly about what I planned to do or achieve, sort of testing the water, quietly. But now I’m ready to start believing in the success of my business. To start driving my business hard, with a passion and a fierce determination to achieve the financial goals I want to achieve in 2016 and a belief that I’ll achieve them. I want to own my talents and I want to start being the positive voice of my business. Like those women I saw speak, I want to be able to stand-up and inspire others to confidently follow their dreams and I know to do that I need to first inspire self.

Whether it’s excuses, ego driven fears, distractions or general ‘I can’t do this’ bullshit that pops in to make everything that little bit harder, it’s all created within self. I’m responsible for all of it. It’s all just a story which stops me from taking action.  There isn’t really any reason not to go at this with everything I’ve got. I’m lucky enough to have found something I love and I’m loving doing it. And as if on cue on I was reminded of that last week in a rather lovely way…

After chatting with a friend over coffee about my perceived current lack of clients, the very same day something kinda cool happened. Over coffee as I shared woe is me start-up business tales, my friend asked me – with kindness – was I procrastinating? Remember I’ve been asked that before? It would appear to be a skill! I admitted, I probably was, and in that moment I also consciously decided I was going to step forward. I was going to actively seek out new clients. Starting that day. After coffee I drove to Bondi for another meeting. Something told me I was going to get a park near the arranged meeting point and I spot a space just outside where they’d chosen to meet and do a winning reverse park. The guy parked in front is getting something out the back of his truck. He watches me park, and then comes up to my window. He asks if I want him to move forward a bit as there is space in front of him. “No, it’s ok, I’m in!”, I tell him, rather chuffed with myself. He points out though that I’m in a no parking zone. Oh. Awkward. So he kindly moves forward and I park. Sorted. What a lovely man, I think.

When I get out the car he’s still getting stuff out his Ute (my Scottish friends will love that) I thank him again. He notices my accent and asks if I’m Irish (he’s Irish) no, I tell him, Scottish. And so we start chatting and he asks how long I’ve been here and if I like it. I ask him if he loves it too. He does but he’s a builder and it can be hard work. Then he asks what I do. Interior Designer I tell him. We chat about that a bit and then he asks if I have a card on me? Yes, yes I do. Turns out he’s renovating a 4 bed place in Bondi and might need some help. He’s had someone out to look at it but they never got back to him. He said he’d wait and see if they call in the next day or so and if not call me. “Giving you that space might have been an expensive move for me!” he jokes…”It was meant to be” I say. By the time I got home, he’d called and left a message. I’ve since seen the house and have a job out of it. My biggest yet.

A sign from the universe? Serendipity? Call it what you will. But it served as a very useful reminder that the clients are there. It was a reminder I love doing this. It was a reminder that all I need to do is let people know I’m here. It was a reminder life is awesome and that I need to believe in my business & to believe in me. It has reinvigorated my energy for my business which had taken a knock because I chose to tell myself I was too busy or too tired or too scared to fail.

And when things like this happen, I’m left wondering why I spend so long giving myself such a hard time when things are really so great. But, realising I’ve been getting in my own way is awesome, because it means I can get out my way and start to focus energy into more positive actions.

So, maybe there is something you want to do or achieve in 2016 or even before 2015 is out. There is still ‘enough’ time. My advice, is to a look at what you’ve perceived is stopping you, really look, and be honest and kind to yourself, and you might find that it’s actually you. You might find that a simple switch in perception of what is possible is enough to get you started. Ask yourself what’s the easiest thing you can do now towards achieving that goal and do it.  We spend so much time supporting loved ones and friends, championing their goals, yet often forget to be our own #1 supporter. The tragic events in Paris this weekend are a reminded of how precious life is and how important it is that we own our own power and that we do what we’re called to do.  That we love each other and ourselves and our lives, in every moment.

Believe in yourself. Step aside and allow yourself to achieve greatness.

Step aside...

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Um to the omm…Meditation? Me?

We all know that busy feeling. So busy it’s bordering on overwhelm and when people ask ‘how’s thing’s?’ We say “Oh, you know, busy?” Well, lately I’ve been that “busy” person & I’ve heard myself say that exact line and I’ve also observed that I don’t feel particularly good about saying it. Busy with work. Busy with interning. Busy with training. Busy with business. Busy with general busyness. Yep, just busy. Too busy to blog, it would seem. And I’ve missed it. You too, right? So, as I find myself with a less busy weekend, I return to the keys of my MacBook for writing that’s not of the work or business variety but instead just me writing about me. And please, don’t get me wrong, everything keeping me busy, well it’s good stuff – things I asked for, which I want to do & which I’m grateful for. But what happened was that while doing all those things I switched back onto auto-pilot and started going through the motions, focussing again on delivering results for others, forgetting in the process to make time for me and to be present in the things which I was doing. I was back on the treadmill & when people asked me ‘how’s things?’, my head was so caught up in thinking about all the things I ‘had’ to do, and focussing on looking straight ahead…to the next task…the next place I had to be, I couldn’t formulate an answer so instead it was easier to just say “busy”.

Continue reading Um to the omm…Meditation? Me?

Take it to the bridge…

Return of the (amateur) blogger. It’s been that long since I blogged that I forgot my password for wordpress. Always the pro. Mind you, blogging aside, I’ll typically go through at least 3 password resets in an average week – my attempts to be security conscious and avoid a 1 password fits all approach doesn’t bode well for my time management. I regularly spend the first two minutes on a website swearing and then trying to find the ‘password reset’ button. So, why the hiatus? What can I say, business has just been so busy, I’ve just not had a minute to document my thoughts. Kidding. The real reason for the hiatus was more world travel. Hey, someone’s got to do it. No weddings this time, but I’ve calculated 40,000 miles and 14 flight in less than 10 weeks. Never mind this ‘Like a boss’ lark, maybe I should start a travel blog. Or a blog comparing the amenity kits on various airlines running long-haul flight because quite frankly I have continued to identify this as an area for notable improvement. What a winner of a blog that would be. I can feel the awards now. Ahem…

Continue reading Take it to the bridge…

Cabin Fever (& books, lots of books)

This week I did something I’ve not done in a very long time. I frequented a library. In fact, to be entirely accurate, not only did a frequent a library, I became a member of a library. Yep, I’m now the proud owner of a library card. I know what you’re thinking, how very eighties. So, why the return to the kingdom of books? Well, working from home is ok, it definitely has its benefits, but I realised I needed a change of scene. I needed to get out of the house, you know, see other humans, interact, speak, that sort of thing. Home has a lot of distractions, most of which reside in the fridge and as much as I love getting my grove on to Spotify, it can get a wee bit lonely. And, I’m not going to lie, I really rather liked the library. Plus, I mean, it’s not just any library, it’s Surry Hills award-winning-architectural-design-library. It’s where the hipsters hang out. It’s a far cry from the mobile library we used to go to when we were kids. Literally a mobile van filled with books which used to rock up at the bottom of our street. Why go to the library when the library can come to you?… I think that’s now called a kindle. Continue reading Cabin Fever (& books, lots of books)

What do you do?

I’ve just returned from three weeks in the homeland for a wee bit of a wedding extravaganza. It was lovely. Weddings are so great. And, despite being in Scotland, the sun shone for every single wedding. Which, considering they were three Saturdays in a row, might be some kind of Scottish record right there. The trip was my first official leave since becoming self-employed. How nice of the boss to let me take annual leave before I had accrued it. She’s such a gem. I needed it though and while I’d like to say the Scottish Vitamin D intake has left me refreshed, energised and ready to get back into it, I actually write this from under my duvet (doona) with a hot water bottle at my toes and a lemsip by my side. Continue reading What do you do?