Inspired by International Women’s Day, I want to photograph 52 ladies, one for each week, from my life and recommended to me. To me, the most inspiring women in my life are my friends and family.
They are the ones who push me to go further and pick me up when I’m down. I couldn’t do anything without my girl gang. I want to empower my ladies to see themselves how I see them. Follow along on Instagram for inspiring quotes and shoutouts to other amazing women kicking butt.
Carly and I met during an incredible monumental period in our lives – right after the end of our long term relationships while on a yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. Being able to go through that life-changing experience with someone who was going through something similar was incredibly powerful. Upon our return to Australia, it was the best being able to swap break up meme after meme and commiserate the different “break-up” milestones. Trust me, there are definitely turning points in recovery. I knew when I started this project I wanted to include Carly because of our shared love of empowering ourselves. Carly has taken the most active participant in this project of any other ladies included so far because not only did she know exactly what kind of photo she wanted (she requested an image of her conquering life from on top of a rock), but she also answered the most questions. We came up with the idea of going up Mount Ainslie so she could metaphorically conquer Canberra!!! You can just spot the Telstra Tower in the distance. I couldn’t bare to cut any of her answers so here they are in all their glory.
Thanks Carly for coming into my life when I needed it most. I admire you so much!
Which three guests would you like to invite to a dinner party (dead or alive, fictional or real)?
Michael Jackson, Obama and Amelia Earhart
What would be your signature dish you’d make them?
Lasagne! Even my mum wants me to make my lasagne when I visit
What would be the title of your autobiography?
Hmm… “She thought she could”?
What would you choose as your Mr. Men/Little Miss character to describe your personality?
I was given the ‘Mr Forgetful’ book as a gift, in Facebook quizzes I get ‘Little Miss Busy’, but I more relate to ‘Little Miss Stubborn’ or ‘Little Miss Tidy’. If I could make one up it would be ‘Little Miss Trying’, or perhaps you can tell that I am ‘Little Miss Indecisive!’.
If you were stuck on an island what three things would you bring?
Toothbrush, cello, and my medication haha
If you were to write a self-help book, what would the topic be?
If you were an animal what would you be?
I love cats, and the idea of lazing about in the sun and getting head scratches sounds delightful, although I think I would get bored and probably kill a lot of native wildlife for a challenge, so best I stay human 😊
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?
Emma Stone please!
If you could be anyone from any time period who would it be and why?
This is a tough question, I think women today have it much better than they did so I wouldn’t want to back in time. I try not to wish to be anyone other than the best version of me. Wishing to be someone else is tied to jealousy, unhappiness and possibly ingratitude, it also assumes that others have everything you want, when in reality I’m sure they don’t.
If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?
Perhaps the falling of the Berlin Wall, and although it’s not yet history, I would like to see gays marry in Australia. (Carly actually answered this question well before the postal vote so we are getting closer!!!)
How do you define success?
I used to think success was about the big things: a top job, large salary, big house etc. Then I realised it has a lot to do with the greater things, like happiness, health, and a sense of belonging. Personally, I feel successful when I achieve the things I said I would – especially despite setbacks – but I’m starting to realise now that success is keeping yourself healthy and happy and staying true to yourself, and that might mean knowing when to quit (I’m still figuring this out!)
What are your three most overused words/phrases?
I don’t think I verbally articulate myself very well, so I say “do you know what I mean?” a lot!
If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Steak, chips and red wine.. Or anything my Baba and Dedo make.
What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?
I have realised that sometimes it doesn’t matter that you do the right things and do them well, sometimes things don’t work regardless; sometimes hard work doesn’t meet luck or opportunity (or meet the right team player). But from this I have learned to be kind to myself and enjoy the process regardless of the outcome – there is always a lesson to be learned.
What is the one thing you cannot resist?
Singing to a good song. And I’m a terrible singer!
If your house was burning down, what is the one non-living thing you would save?
My housemate, because he’s dead inside.
What is the first concert you attended?
I believe it was Kylie Minogue back in the early 2000s
You’re happiest when?
I feel happiest when I’m singing, or riding my motorbike on a sunny day, but mostly when a large number of my family (you can’t get them all) are together in one room.
Which one would you want most – flying cars, robot housekeepers, or moon cities?
None of the above. Flying cars only if they’re environmentally friendly. I like to clean as it clears my mind and I don’t want someone else touching my things haha. And I’m not convinced we are made for the moon, do we really have to conquer everything?
What’s your favourite holiday memory?
Walking into Dubrovnik for the first time. I had seen pictures of the city where my grandparents had met all over the walls of their Croatian restaurant since I was born. To see it in real life was like walking into my favourite childhood fairytale. Speaking of which – there was a tower in a fairytale my Dedo would tell me about, and Baba told me it was true because the tower was in her hometown. But I couldn’t find it anywhere on the internet. One day driving along the Neretva river I saw it and I was so excited I made my cousin pull over for photos.
Would you rather be a tiny elephant or a giant hamster?
Tiny elephant. My great grandmother had fond memories of elephants where she grew up in India, so they’ve always been special to me. Regardless of their size I find them majestic and graceful.
People would be surprised if they knew these three things about you:
People I don’t know very well are always surprised to learn that I used to play drums (and wish I still did!), I ride a motorbike, and I speak Indonesian.
What is your favourite thing to do in Canberra and/or your hometown?
I love the Arboretum in Canberra. I love trees, timber and architecture. But the best thing about the arboretum here is it’s still quite young. So every time you visit it’s a little different than before. I also love taking afternoon walks here, nowhere special – just around my suburb. The trees here are beautiful and it’s mostly sunny. I always find myself taking a dozen pictures on a walk.
What one food do you wish had zero calories?
What phobias do you have?
Bananas…. Heights if I don’t feel secure (like standing on a chair opposed to the Giant Drop)
What places have you lived in?
Sale, Geelong, Jogjakarta in Indonesia, Christmas Island and Canberra!
What tv show/movie are you ashamed to admit you love?
Top three life highlights?
Graduating, travelling Europe, and falling in love.
What book did you read last? And what books are on your to-read list?
The last book I finished was Cold Light, the final in the Edith trilogy (which I highly recommend), and on my to-read list is ‘The Politics of Exile’ by Elizabeth Dauphinee, ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ by Haruki Murakami, and Magda Szubanski’s ‘Reckoning’.
What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?
A house and a plane ticket!
What is on your bucket list?
Amongst other things: write a book, visit the Philippines, Mexico and India; perfect ‘Ave Maria’ on the cello; and buy a house.
What did you want to be when growing up?
I went through a number of phases, and some of them I’m not sure I’ve grown out of yet, but the most persistent dream was to be an author.
If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day? or what would you like to do?
Or ‘who would you like to do’? 😉
To you, what is the best part about being a woman?
Holy crap! Can’t even think of an answer… think I’ll need to do some meditating on this. Thanks for asking this question I didn’t even realise I wouldn’t be able to answer it :O
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Personal or work, doesn’t matter!
Well the most memorable is not so much the advice I received per se, but that a person in my life who was always around but never ‘there’, pulled 12 year old me aside to tell me not to worry about moving from a small town to a new city where I didn’t know anyone, that I would make friends etc. I guess what was special to me was that this person felt like he needed to give me this advice and I’ve cherished that moment ever since. I’ve also relied on some advice from my Baba (grandma), ‘forgive everyone. You have no right to withhold forgiveness, the rest is up to God, that’s His job’. I found this particularly helpful knowing all she’s been through, and if she can forgive, then who am I not to? There’s something about letting go of your ego here and I am struggling with this concept lately, but it’s a nice idea that you can surrender the idea of forgiveness to the universe.
What is your personal mantra right now?
“She needed a hero so that’s what she became!” or;
“What was meant for me will never miss me, and what misses me was never meant for me” – I still believe in working for things you want but this mantra can be quite calming.
Can you tell us a little something about you about yourself- what gets you up in the mornings and what motivates you! Pets, family members but more about how what is in your life makes you feel.
Struggling with a lack of motivation right now! My alarm wakes me up but doesn’t really help me get out of bed – especially in cold Canberra! At the moment I’m motivated by sticks rather than carrots (fear of failing rather than incentive of winning). This is not a good question to answer for me right now, but you know what one day I’ll have a brilliant answer and that’s what motivates me.
I’d like to think that you wouldn’t be able to judge me by my cover. My cover is dressed by second hand clothes and hand-me-downs, so I don’t think my cover displays my identity, nor should it have to. If you read my book you would find that I like to travel and I often travel alone (not that I don’t like travelling with others – it’s more that I have dreams and if the timing is right than I will seize that opportunity rather than waiting for someone else to be ready with me). Despite all my independent-woman drive and my constant propulsion to far-away places, my family mean the world to me. I enjoy music and playing the drums, djembe and cello – I also love singing but I’m not extremely talented in the vocal department. I like to paint when I’m feeling relaxed and not like a perfectionist. I enjoy riding my motorbike on sunny days. I like to cook, especially for people. I like to dance, either ballet in my kitchen or low on the D-Floor at Knightsbridge. I love all living beings unless they invade my territory (spiders, ants and moths). I probably love too much.
To you, what is confidence?
I always felt that I was not very confident, but I might be confusing confidence with self-esteem. When I noticed a particular colleague would rather make things up rather than answering with ‘I don’t know’, I realised that I am quite confident. I am confident enough to say ‘I don’t know’ and show my vulnerabilities, to be unashamedly myself – whether I feel good about it or not. That is confidence.
To you, what is kindness?
To me, kindness comes from empathy. To try and understand the feelings or experience of others – even those with a world view that is different or clashes with your own – is kindness because it assumes the best of everyone and frees yourself of judgement.
What would you tell 13-year old you?
I can be too hard on myself too often. But when I imagine 13-year-old Carly standing in front of me I immediately melt. She’s a person I understand all too well; I know her struggles and her achievements in spite of those struggles – and it makes me proud. So proud. I wouldn’t tell her anything, but I would give her the biggest, warmest, most love-filled hug that I know she needs. Carly, you’ve got this <3
Who inspires you?
My girl tribe. They are open and honest about their trials and tribulations but carry on, and we bask in each other’s achievements and successes without jealousy or competition. Their honesty, courage, bravery and supportiveness inspire me to be like them, and to set out further and wider knowing I have a cheer squad to catch me should I fall from a tumble.
What have the females in your family taught you about being a woman?
A few in particular have taught me that being a woman involves so much strength in the face of a community that perceives women as weak, emotional and crazy. I know what they put up with and I see their stride; it has taught me that sometimes you have to carry on. Their fight is that they take this all in their stride without it breaking them. I appreciate that.
What has been your best year?
I’m sure I’ve had good years in childhood being part of a family, but my best year that I can recall was probably 2013. I finished up a challenging job on Christmas Island and went to Europe on my own, meeting old friends, making new friends, and meeting family for the first time. It was awe-inspiring to see where my grandparents had come from and see the places I’d only heard about from them; I got to see so many stories come to life. That year I also spent a few months living with my Mum and bonding with my younger sister, and started a new job on Nauru.
To you, what is happiness?
Happiness is contentment. It is void of desire and of sadness. It is not the positive, fleeting feeling of joy, but rather the comfort of feeling there’s nowhere in the world you’d rather be than right here, with nothing you feel you need to change. I think we lose sight of happiness, believing that it is over there, in those things we don’t have yet. But often once we have achieved those things, we don’t get the happiness we thought that it would entail. I think that’s because happiness is in all the small things. It’s watching a flower open in early spring, having a cocoa and a book to read on a cold day, it’s spending time talking to those who you care about. Happiness is a choice to focus on these things.
What are your guilty pleasures that you shouldn’t feel guilty about?
Singing terribly in the shower?
What are three words that you’d like to define yourself with?
Authentic, compassionate, and …. Too much!
What brings you happiness?
Having my family together, being with my friends, playing the cello, riding my motorbike on a sunny day, walking in nature and singing in the shower.
In what moments, are you the happiest? Can be simply reading a book or going for a run – whatever calms your mind.
Having my family together, being with my friends, playing the cello, riding my motorbike on a sunny day, walking in nature and singing in the shower. Also camping with friends.
What have the men in your life taught you about being a woman?
Some of the men in my life have taught me the best they could about being women. And they were wrong. They inadvertently taught me to trust myself.
How would you like the men in your life to empower you?
I would like the men in my life to empower me by empowering all the women in their lives. To treat the women in their lives as they would their own daughter (or son for that matter) like to be treated themselves – with love and respect.
What, to you, is the most pressing issue women face?
ENGRAINED PATRIARCHY – BLAH
What are your favourite quotes? I.e. for a pick-me-up, or girl power and for moving forward etc.
“She needed a hero, so that’s what she became”
When was a moment that defined you? That set you on your path to now.
I don’t think it was a single moment, rather a collection of moments that gathered more definition and effect with its momentum. The most glaring and recent one was being told that my boyfriend cheated on me the day after our 7-year anniversary. There are obviously a lot of feelings that are tied to such a moment and sometimes when I catch my reflection I am shocked to see that I am standing up. I have learned that I am much stronger and much more resilient than I gave myself credit for, so I’ve learned to trust my own strength and I think that will send me further and wider than I would have dared ventured before.
The IWD2017 theme was Be Bold for Change – what change would you like to see in your life?
I would like to see a change in our mindset. Currently the world is so divided between ideologies and people’s own experiences, and they use this as their compass for understanding or judging another’s experience. But we need to listen to each other more, and be open to understanding another’s point of view and the reasons why they hold that view. Open dialogue! I would also like to see a change in consumer behaviour and to see each and every individual, company and government take more responsibility for the environment.
To you, what is being bold?
Being bold is being courageous, and that is unique to everyone. What scares me might not scare you. But being scared, nervous and unsure, then doing it anyway – that is bold. And that is hard to do.
When have you been bold and set yourself apart?
I set myself apart by simply being myself, and sometimes this does not align with societal expectations.