The Career Coach Stripped Bare

A few months ago, the usual stream of work had dissipated, and I started to explore my options. After doling out career advice to thousands of people over the years, I was getting a taste of my own medicine.

It all began in 2005, when I took a leap of faith and plunged into self-employment. After more than two decades of a coddled corporate life, I was a sole-trader with no promise of work in the pipeline. Slowly but surely, projects came my way. I enjoyed working without the shackles of an employment contract, and the newly found freedom allowed me to commute between a city apartment and a house in the country.

Eventually, I developed relationships with several consulting firms which provided me with a variety of assignments, added value to my expertise, and offered the collegiality that sole-traders often sorely miss. As I settled into my new routine, I created a website and started blogging. Seduced by the new age of social media, I devoured the articles, posts and ideas written by ‘experts’ and consumed e-courses that offered the promise of a thriving online business. My income supported a modest lifestyle, in exchange for a schedule on my terms. But the gut wrenching moments of this rollercoaster ride were always around the corner.

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My Own Career Style Challenge

Since breaking up with a conventional job and going solo 11 years ago, I have created a lifestyle which gives me the latitude and wriggle room that I love. It was a bold move, and I’m grateful for all the people who’ve given me the work to fuel my career aspirations, and earn my own living through feast and famine.

I have leveraged and built upon my expertise, and helped thousands of professionals to negotiate the stepping stones of their careers. I launched a website so potential clients could learn about me, how I worked and the services I offered. That website has been tweaked, plucked and re-styled more times than I’ve had soy lattes. About five years ago, I added a blog – which allowed me to capture and share my thoughts, and let readers learn a little more about me and how I work with others.

I tippy-toed my way into the social media jungle, soaked up ideas and was inspired. I almost drowned in the oceans of articles on building an online business. I have headaches from evangelical gurus shouting about the importance of building a tribe. I’ve invested in plenty of e-courses. I’m done with thinking. I need more doing and feedback.

However I know that if I’m going to take my career coaching to a wider audience, I need to crack the code in a way that’s faithful to how I like to work with people, and how I want to engage with them in an online world.

There are still a couple of things that I need to tackle as I build my community of online clients.

Find my inner athlete

Although I don’t have a competitive spirit, I do have an internal picture of where I want to take my business. It’s a kind of ‘big, hairy audacious goal’ –  and a little woolly around the fringes. Ideas and possibilities excite and distract me. I need to take some of my own medicine and create a few loose goals with time-frames, and monitor my progress. But just thinking about the granularity of this process exhausts me. Some bright colours and images might make this discipline a whole lot sweeter!

Connect with a wider audience

Despite having loads of advice, tips, templates and software at my disposal, sometimes I feel like I’m hitting my head against a virtual wall. Although active in the online world, I have limited reach. One of my biggest surprises has been the potency of Facebook groups, which enable members to share and learn in a supportive environment. These groups also provide a testing ground as I develop e-courses that are welcome by the clients I’d like to attract, and help with their careers.

And while my own Career Style Challenge is an ongoing work in progress, I haven’t looked back.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1


Carving Out a Career on My Own | Cathy Wever

It’s been 20 years since I joined the full time workforce, so I’m right on the half way point of my career. As a Gen X-er, I’m never sure how many different professional pathways I’m expected to tread throughout my working life (two? five? seven?) but either way, three key decisions stand out on the winding career route (aka career/family juggle!) I’ve taken to date:

An early career switch

After a BA in English and a year living and working in the UK, I qualified as an English and History teacher and spent four years working at schools in both Melbourne and Alice Springs. I enjoyed developing lessons and being part of a very collegial profession, but I hated the marking and found teenagers hard work (surely I’m not alone there?) Recently married to the love of my life, I was also sceptical about how I could combine teaching with raising a family.

I decided a career shift was in order and completed a graduate certificate in public relations before landing a PR manager’s role at a bayside independent school. When our first child was born a couple of years later I negotiated to keep working in the role during my maternity leave for one day per week from home. I naively thought this would be pretty easy (who knew babies took up so much time?)

Working bleary-eyed around my baby’s sleep times while I mastered breastfeeding etc was harder than I’d imagined, but it gave me the confidence that I could work from home while caring for our children. Yes – I could do it all (sure). Which was lucky, given I was one of a large number of women who are unable to negotiate permanent part time work with their employer following the end of their maternity leave.

Deciding to go it alone

Cathy Wever Communication – my own PR, writing and editing business – was born in 2003 and I spent the next 13 years working for a wide range of clients in industries such as health, education, travel, automotive, property, finance, media, defence and more. I was lucky that technology had recently made working remotely a truly viable option. Many of my clients I never met face to face, but I always met the brief, and never missed a deadline.

Saying ‘yes’ to almost everything and having a commitment to developing strong client relationships enabled me to grow my business and I was never short of projects. Working this way meant a lot of late nights at the desk and working during the daytime while my three children slept. It’s not a formula that suits everyone, but it worked for me and my family (did I mention I have a very supportive husband/partner?)

As the internet age took hold, ‘content’ emerged as an essential element of the marketing mix for virtually every company and brand. As social media and mobile technologies transformed the way we do business, more people began to realise the power of content to influence perceptions, build reputations and achieve customer engagement.

The subsequent demand for skilled content creators and strategists grew steadily and in the last few years as a sole trader I enjoyed developing and creating content for a wide range of businesses and brands including NAB, Domain, The Weekend Australian, Intuit, Australian Executor Trustees, the University of Western Australia, the Royal District Nursing Service and many others.

Combining kids with a career

There’s a lot of (unpaid) work involved in raising a family. Throw paid work into the mix and it’s always going to be a juggle – and there’s no right or wrong way to try and keep all the balls in the air. Here’s what I learnt while working for myself from home, while prioritising the needs of our three children:

  • You can’t do it all. Domestic help such as a cleaner is vital.
  • Be super efficient. When you have time to work, just work. Don’t hang out washing or do anything else on the domestic front.
  • Embrace working in the evenings. Evenings are actually very peaceful and there’s no constant stream of email to distract you. I found I could be very productive when working after the kids went to bed.

Joining forces to create something bigger

During the Cathy Wever Communication years I often partnered on larger content projects with another fabulous self-employed content marketer, Clare Murphy. In 2015 we decided to join forces and launch our own content marketing agency: Content Empire.

Part of our motivation was the knowledge that working as a sole trader offers limited scope in the longer term. The insecure nature of freelance work also becomes less appealing as time goes by.

With a small team of staff and an extensive database of freelance content writers at our disposal, Content Empire is able to take on larger content projects and meet the growing content needs of businesses in every industry. From content strategy to social media campaigns to native advertising to microsites and blogs, Content Empire operates in a space that didn’t even exist ten years ago.

Working to build a bigger business in the digital era is both challenging and rewarding, but now that my three children are all at school, I am loving the chance to focus on the next stage of my career.

Exciting times are ahead…here’s to the next 20 years!


Career Ladder or Jungle Gym?

What does your career path look like? Are you climbing a ladder, or has your career taken you through a zig-zag of moves, with the end goal in mind?

Globalisation and technology have transformed organisations over the past two decades. Professionals now navigate flatter structures, which may offer limited and less visible pathways to career progression. With a few exceptions, well sign-posted careers are so very last century.

In her book Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg refers to her own career path as being more like scrambling a jungle gym, than climbing a ladder. Where a career ladder offers just one way to get to the top, she writes there are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym.

“The jungle gym model benefits everyone, but especially women who might be starting careers, switching careers, getting blocked by external barriers, or reentering the workforce after taking time off. The ability to forge a unique path, with occasional dips, detours, and even dead ends presents a better chance of fulfilment. Plus a jungle gym provides great views for many people, not just those at the top.”


While it’s easy to think Sheryl has enjoyed a charmed career, every step has been carefully researched and executed. And in doing her due diligence, Sheryl has engaged the following:

  • A clear understanding of her values, strengths & expertise
  • An ability to network, and nurture her relationship with mentors and sponsors
  • Being prepared to challenge assumptions, and embrace uncertainty
  • Openness to diverse experiences, and opportunities offering growth
  • An orientation to ongoing learning, and acquisition of new skills
“The reason I don’t have a plan, is if I have a plan, I’m limited to today’s options.”  Sheryl Sandberg

What can you learn from Sheryl Sandberg’s career progression? Are you limiting yourself to the traditional or more obvious choices? Do you need to challenge your approach?

An American in Paris

How does a Taiwanese-born woman, end up living in New York, and operating her own graphic design business from Paris?

With family in Canada and the USA, Katherine Levasseur’s parents had plans for her to live with her grandma and study in Montréal. But as she couldn’t bear the harsh winter, and didn’t want to learn French, Katherine had other ideas. She moved to New York City instead.

After Katherine completed her Bachelor in Business Administration (with a major in Advertising and a minor in Graphic Design), she joined a Chelsea start-up as a junior web designer just at the time when AOL dial-up (You’ve Got Mail!) became available. And as web design and HTML classes didn’t exist, Katherine spent endless nights online trying to figure it all out.

This all came to an abrupt end on 9/11/2001. Her company closed and Katherine started working for herself.

I asked Katherine about her career journey and experience as a solopreneur:

What have been the critical milestones or turning points in your career?

There are two major turning points in my career, and both have to do with the last decade’s economic crisis.

The first milestone would be 9/11, when the whole dot-com era pretty much came to an end.  Like most Americans, I was still in a state of shock the week following 9/11. As the parent company closed the business, I lost my “dream job” where I had the luxury of experiencing the “dot-com” bubble before it burst along with my 12,000 shares of stock options. I spent the next year taking consulting gigs at start-ups and non-profits around the city.

Eventually I took an opportunity to work from home as a contractor for the company that took over the client base from my first job. Within months I realized I could continue to work for myself and find more work online.



Just like that I was self-employed for the next 10 years, working out of my apartment on the Upper East Side Manhattan. It was never planned, but the way it turned out, it worked great for me.

In 2010 I considered going back for a salary job as the freelance as I’d know it was no longer sustainable after the global financial crisis. However after working for myself for almost 10 years, everything was kind of new and unfamiliar to me. In fact a recruiter in midtown Manhattan told me that I didn’t have the “experience” to sell myself at the rate I was asking at the time, as I didn’t have the kind of “big names” companies on my resume – times were tough now so I should expect less. I was not discouraged, and within two weeks, I proved her wrong when I was hired at almost twice the rate!

I was taken on by, (the largest bookseller/chain in the US), to help launch their self-publishing platform called pubit! It was the beginning of the e-reader/mobile/tablet apps era, and I was there at the center of it all, with the right skill sets, and working with a fantastic team, who introduced me to a whole new world of e-publishing and mobile development.

In spring 2011, I joined the mobile team at The Wall Street Journal Digital Network (News Corp.) as a consultant to help convert the WSJ iOS App onto the new Android platform. After I joined them full-time, I worked across various WSJDN web and mobile products and some large-scale projects such as the transformation of the WSJ international editions, which was a fantastic experience for me.

Who have been the most powerful influences in your life?

The most powerful influences in my life came from two decades of living and becoming an adult in NYC in my twenties. Growing up in Asia where conformability is considered a great virtue, I’ve always felt rebellious. I learned that I could do anything and study what I was interested in – and there was so much freedom in the American way of learning, compared to what I knew back home.

Going to college and living in New York City exposed me to a global village where I was surrounded by people from all walks of life and every corner of the planet. The spirit of NYC (if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere), and the diversity of culture and people in NYC greatly influenced me, and I believe made me the person I am today in every way.

I am forever grateful to all the people I have met and those who have helped and encouraged me, my teachers, my friends and my family who supported me during those years.

What were the biggest learnings during your first 12 months of self-employment?

One of the first things that many would find difficult to overcome in self-employment is the ability to do everything on your own. You have to be accountant, salesperson, secretary, there’s no water fountain or coffee station to hang out, and no one to blame when you screw up.

While I was equipped with design, technology, even business skills, I had great fears when it came time to face the clients. As many of my clients were scattered across the country, I didn’t “meet” many of them in person. However, it did take me time to learn how to negotiate rates and contract terms, and present and discuss design requirements.

Another challenge was finding a balance between work and life, and managing my time as well as setting expectations for my clients. Because I worked with clients from all over the place, I didn’t have set “office hours”.

I’d go to the museums in the morning, spend my afternoon in the bookstores, and work at night after a day of brain-storming.

One of the most important things I am glad I did was to take classes at local art school to improve my art skills, and eventually went back to college as a full-time student studying fine art, something I always wanted to do.


Initially I didn’t have the confidence to defend HOW and WHEN I worked, and I worried about work when I was at class, and vice versa. It took some time to let go and enjoy the freedom self-employment offers.

Keeping a balance between life and work, and working the way you choose to work as, is critical to an entrepreneur’s success. It took me years to fully embrace it.

What personal attributes helped you to establish & develop your business?

I think independence and self-reliance are probably my greatest strengths. They’ve helped me a great deal in both developing my business and my career in general.

Most people think working for yourself from home is quite a lonely venture; however to me, it’s the best way to work! I enjoy working independently (both mentally and physically), and when I work alone I have the best concentration that my work requires.

Working independently also makes you a stronger candidate in your chosen field because you have to learn new things constantly to keep growing, and keep your skill set up to date.

Thanks to a decade of self-employment, keeping both design and programming skills has allowed me to continue working for myself, and it helped me get hired when I came out to work full-time, and the main reason I was recruited by in 2010.

Is there anything you would’ve done differently along the way?

If anything, I wish I had learned French the first time I lived in Montreal! Sometimes I thought if I had stayed and studied in Montreal I would be fluent in French today, but then I probably would not have met my husband who went to NYC to work in 2010 and met me. Life is very strange. I often find that things I resist doing in my life have always found a way back, and it’s very true what you don’t want the most is something that’s always stuck with you!

 What is your proudest career achievement to date?

I think I am mostly proud to have been able to adapt career-wise to work wherever and however I could – either from self-employed to corporate, or vice versa.

What’s your advice to anyone leaving corporate life to start a business?

I believe you can do anything in today’s world and go anywhere you want, there is really very little that you can’t do if you work hard and do things the old-fashion way, do it right!

To start your own business, I think it takes several things:

  1. You should really KNOW what you like to do, very very well. A lot of research, a lot of studying and observing to know what people do in the same business, what it takes, and if, it’s the right choice for you. There is no set rules for any business but I always believe knowing is better than not knowing. Know as much as you possibly can.
  2. Be prepared. People who prepare themselves have much better chance of succeeding. Hope for the best, but think of the worst that could happen, and what you would do when it sinks, when it sucks and when you just can’t take it anymore. Be honest with yourself, how much are you willing to give in order to make it?
  3. Be flexible and open to new things. The beauty of self-employment is that you are your own boss, you set the rules and you make the deals. If you are flexible, you will be able to adjust along the way. Things may not always happen as you wish, and you might have a surprise somewhere someday. When it’s a good surprise, will you be open enough to take on the opportunity or will you be stuck in your own “rules”? When it’s a bad surprise, will you be able to step back and re-assess or just give it all up?
  4. Finally, this is the advice I would give to my younger self 15 years ago. Be social. To work alone does not mean you have to be alone all the time. Networking with other entrepreneurs and people who might need your service or products one day, make friends. The more the merrier!

What do you hope to be doing career-wise within 2 years, 5 years?

I will continue to work for myself, running my own design studio, in the next 2-5 years. I also see myself working more in the traditional “graphic design” (which is a good surprise to me) while still keeping the web design side of my business. Thanks to Etsy I am able to reach a global audience and I have also learned a great deal on packaging my design services. It’s a very exciting time for me, re-starting my business after over 3 years in corporate America and I feel I am much more prepared than the first time!


You can find and contact Katherine as follows:

Etsy store
Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest @ madamelevasseur


What does it take to be a top female executive?

Growing up in South Australia in the early 1970s, my after-school schedule involved Gidget, Mister Ed, Green Acres, the Beverly Hillbillies and the Partridge Family. So when an American classmate introduced me to Seventeen magazine, I studied every advertisement, photo and story like a stars and stripes struck teenager.  I was besotted with all things USA.

About that time I discovered a list of penfriends in the Sunday Mail’s ‘Possum Pages’. Donna Goldsmith from Franklin Square, New York 11010, USA sounded perfect. Thanks to Donna’s enthusiasm, we exchanged letters regularly. Seventeen came to life, and I learned a lot more about David Cassidy and Donny Osmond!

We continued writing throughout high-school and university, and finally in June 1982 I met Donna on my visit to a hot and humid New York. As she’d just graduated, Donna was job-hunting, and I was impressed by her focus, drive and tenacity.

It wasn’t long before Donna was working at Revlon. She went on to build a stellar career at Swatch, the National Basketball Association, and World Wrestling Entertainment Inc, where she became Chief Operating Officer. Then in 2009, Donna Goldsmith was named by Forbes as the second most powerful Woman in Sport.

So how did she get there, and what does it take to be a top female executive?

I asked Donna the following questions:

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A TV star or a Broadway performer.

What was your career goal when you left college (university)?

To get a job! Back then having the ability to type was a real bonus. I knew I’d have to start in an entry level position and my speed-demon typing skills helped me secure my first position as an assistant at the cosmetic giant – Revlon.

What’s one thing you’d recommend to professionals starting their career?

Be willing to do anything! Especially if like me you are coming out of college/university with a liberal arts degree. Take unpaid internships, network like crazy (don’t be afraid to ask mom and dad who they may know that can be helpful). Use interpersonal skills (this does not include TEXTING). Even if your first job isn’t in your chosen field, it’s a start – – the job market is very tough so be open to all opportunities!

What was the biggest turning point in your career?

Biggest turning point, without a doubt, was getting my job at the National Basketball Association. Although not a sports’ fan at the time, this was my start in what would become my career in the sports’ field. I was at the NBA during the “Dream Team” years – – Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson were all at the top of their game. I couldn’t have picked a more exciting time to be part of the most dynamic league in sports!

What do you consider your greatest career achievement?

In 2009 I was named number 2 in a list of the Most Powerful Women in Sports by This was actually a surprise to me as I didn’t even know I was being considered. For a girl from Long Island, New York, who didn’t attend an Ivy League University, this was a major achievement for which I was incredibly proud.

What is the hardest thing you’ve done in your career to date?

The most difficult thing to date is realizing that it’s time to leave a job (either on your own or being let go). This is probably not how you would have expected me to respond to this question but after ten years at World Wrestling Entertainment, and the last 2½ as COO for Chairman Vince McMahon, it was obvious to me that it was time to move on. My job was being marginalized and although my relationship with the board was excellent (WWE is a public company), Vince was ready to move in a different direction without a COO. Initially I was distraught, but ultimately (and a contractual solid severance package helped) I realized this was the best move for all. And to this day, I have maintained positive relationships with all the management at WWE.

Is there anything you would have done differently along the way?

I don’t think I would have done anything all that differently. Perhaps I would be a bit less emotional in how I reacted to certain situations. But when I am very dedicated to any project, position, staff, I tend to react strongly to the situation at hand. It’s just my personality.

Which qualities have been your greatest career allies?

I’m a ham, an actress! This has been so helpful when it comes time to making presentations in front of 100 or 1000 people. I’m also a great leader/manager. It’s what has been the most important and useful skill as I’ve moved through the ranks of organizations. I will always have the back(s) of my team members.

What has given you the greatest satisfaction about your career to date?

Because I’ve done well financially over the years, I’ve been able to be generous with family and friends. Be it to treat many to theatre tickets, sporting events, trips (to the Bahamas to celebrate my birthday with 3 of my closest friends). It’s been my pleasure to give back to those that have supported me over the years. However, as a consultant now (and not knowing when the next project will start), I’ve had to curtail this behavior. I’m learning to be a bit more restrained when spending on myself and others! Definitely not easy! Least satisfaction – working 24/7 and not having enough time for myself.

Are there any people that made a difference to your career along the way?

I’ve had some terrific managers/mentors during my career and so not-so-great managers. I’ve developed positive skills and learned from both. My first boss at Revlon was a true mentor and leader. He recently passed away and I sent a note to his wife to let him know how much he meant to me.

What did it take to become one of the top 10 female executives in sports?

Hard work, no ego, dedication, drive. A great personal brand and the benefit of working on a brand like WWE or NBA that is the best in its category!

What advice do you offer women who are pursuing executive level roles?

Do not be timid. Be focused on the prize (whatever that is). Find a mentor, take action, realize that your personal life may suffer, and find a way to best manage your time (I definitely didn’t do this well).

What 3 things do you recommend to all aspiring executives?

  1. As mentioned before, be willing to do whatever is needed of you. Pack boxes, work weekends, order coffee. Ultimately, it will show your willingness to dive in and you will be rewarded.
  2. Develop interpersonal communication skills. Young people now are so new-media focused. It is vitally important that any aspiring career person know how to look people in the eyes and carry on an intelligent conversation. Sounds so simple but it’s not a given anymore.
  3. Develop and maintain relationships – this has been hugely helpful to me as I’ve moved from job to job. The majority of new positions are obtained through networking so it’s of the utmost importance relationships are cultivated and maintained.

Any regrets about not pursuing a career in TV or Broadway?

I do have my Actor’s Union Card (AFTRA-SAG) and have been an extra on three soap operas (Guiding Light, All My Children and General Hospital) so that helped fill the need to do something in the “arts”.


Footnote: In 2014 Donna was named #2 in the Top 10 Women Executives in Sports. As one of the USA’s most prominent business people with experience in three different sports, she was considered to be a contender for a senior executive position with any of the major leagues. Since this interview, Donna has been appointed as SVP Consumer Products/Partnership Marketing and International Event Licensing at Tough Mudder Inc.

[Tweet ” What did it take to become one of the top 10 female executives in sports? Hard work, no ego, dedication & drive.”]

Photos courtesy of Donna Goldsmith

My MBA 20 years on

I’ve just spent most of November in the North-East of England, in the magnificent cathedral city of Durham, where I started my MBA 20 years ago. While I’ve been back since then, this visit was for my class reunion weekend. After two decades, I was curious to see what becomes of an MBA graduate. How had we changed, how much were we the same, and what, if anything did that experience do for us?

We were a class of some 60 students from 21 different nations, coming together during a global recession. For the first time in modern corporate history, organisations were exercising massive redundancies. Like me, many were able to attend thanks to unanticipated windfalls. Others had been emancipated by the recent dissolution of communism in Eastern Europe. A lucky few were there on British Council scholarships.

With ages ranging from 21-55, our class was diverse in every conceivable way – a powerhouse for academic, professional and interpersonal development. For 18 months I’d worked with the Alumni team to locate our classmates. Despite the technological explosion since we completed the MBA, the inevitable name changes and geographic dispersal meant some classmates were missing in action.

While it was a life-changing year for me, it may have been 12 months of mixed emotions to others. Not all were interested in making the trip back to Durham. My sentimental journey was just a stepping stone in another classmate’s life. Reunions can be fraught at the best of times.

As the weekend got closer, numbers dropped off. Classmates who were keen initially, fell silent. Business trips came up, and family commitments made the journey difficult for others.

Kicking off the reunion over a few pints on Friday night, the 20 years dissipated in seconds. During the masterclasses the next day, it was like we were back in that lecture room again. Same posturing, glances and contagious laughs — along with the comradeship that accompanies a shared experience. For the younger classmates the MBA had been their entree to corporate life, and a transition into consulting for others. And for those with more work experience, the year offered consolidation, reflection, and affirmation of the next career step.

Whether it was the qualification or just all those years of experience, by 2013 we’d made great strides in our knowledge and expertise. Strangely, we seemed to have outgrown the MBA.

Although the learning takeaways would have been as disparate as our 60 classmates, that year had left an imprint. Regardless of our chosen pathways and career achievements, deep bonds and mutual respect had developed. While the coursework and dissertation provided the structure, it now seemed immaterial. For the relationship building alone, the MBA was priceless.


“Wide Open Spaces”

I’ve been doing a lot of country driving lately. The seasonal changes of the landscape can be breathtaking, and the time alone gives me space for reflection. A few weeks ago, I loaded a Dixie Chicks CD that I rarely play. With hours of bitumen ahead of me, I found myself listening to each simply-crafted word, and connecting with the lyrics of their hit anthem “Wide Open Spaces”.

It transported me back to early 1985, when I left Adelaide in my Monza Red Ford Laser, bound for a country town five hours away. I can still see my mother on that summer morning, waving me off at the gate with Twinkle the terrier in her arms. I was full of anticipation about my promotion to a newly created position, and the opportunity to experience country life. My destination was the home of the Blue Lake, Mount Gambier, in the South-East of South Australia.

As my friends started to settle down, I wanted to set off. I wasn’t ready for the bluestone house just yet. Restless to shake the creeping claustrophobia, I needed to breakout and find new places to discover, just like the song.

“Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out,
To find a dream and a life of their own,
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone”

I recall the adrenalin rush of new beginnings, greener pastures, and moving closer to Melbourne, my career mecca. After the drive across the scorched mallee, the vegetation began to change. As if it was on cue, I came across an enormous field of sunflowers, closely followed by the glorious repetition of the Coonawarra’s lush and verdant vines.

“She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes”

While my relative anonymity and independence were liberating, there were plenty of tough lessons along the way. As I met new people and places, I felt free to be myself and shape my life. I was strong but naive, and made a litany of mistakes.  This wasn’t the only rite of passage available, but it was perfect for me.

Although the Dixie Chicks sing about a young woman leaving home, the lyrics made me think that some of us need “wide open spaces”, at other stages of our life. At times we need to be bold, shift the paradigm and change the rules, to poke around and reveal our options, and make that career transition or change.

By the way, I’m ready to return to Adelaide….well almost.

Click here to see the Dixie Chicks singing “Wide Open Spaces”