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My Many Hats

In my adult life I’ve worn many hats. I’m talking metaphorical hats here of course, not the fashion accessory. When I graduated high school in the early 90s I wanted to go to university to study creative writing but being the oldest of five, the finances weren’t there to send me on to further education, so I jumped into the working world and started my first career in retail. I spent ten years working at Coles, something I was never a fan of, but I hadn’t figured out how to get off that hamster wheel at that stage. Quite frankly, I hated working in retail! At least in supermarket retail anyway. Working late nights and Saturdays was a drag and the only real relief was that there wasn’t any Sunday trading in Queensland at that stage.

In 2001 when I moved to Canada I eventually ended up in retail over there, this time in a home décor store. We sold decorative items for the home and I was one of the department supervisors in my local store. Being an Aussie living in Canada, who happened to work for a boss who had spent eight months travelling around Australia a few years earlier, meant that I could get away with telling my boss it was against my religion to work on Sundays, so thankfully I didn’t have to do those shifts while I was living and working over in Canada.

When I returned to Australia in 2004 I wanted to remove my retail hat and get into something new. Sunday trading had arrived in Queensland while I lived overseas and I still refused to have to work seven days of the week if a boss demanded it of me. I never did have a lot of respect for the establishment! I looked into starting uni to study photography, my other big passion in life, but I couldn’t make it work right then, so eventually I got a job at the mail centre of Australia Post, sorting everybody’s mail in the oversized warehouse for a year and a half. The work was physically draining at times, but was fun and I made some good friends there. The best part of that particular job was the overtime rate when we worked night shift and the access to copious amounts of jelly beans in the cafeteria upstairs (my friend Kyllie gets it). When I became a step-mum in 2006 I left Aussie Post and became a stay-at-home mum for a while, eventually returning to the workforce in 2008 when life threw another major change at me and I found myself suddenly without the kiddies I had spent my days raising. Once again, I looked into uni, but it still wasn’t something I could swing, so I thought again about what I wanted to do with my life. I loved writing and photography, but I couldn’t figure a way to make my lifelong dreams a reality.

When I was young I wanted to be a myriad of things when I grew up – a preschool teacher, a hairdresser, a writer, a singer and a dancer and a truck driver – I’m a proud Daddy’s Girl and wanted to drive trucks like my Daddy did when I was younger. In 2008 I started working as a delivery driver since I love driving. It meant I didn’t have to be stuck in a factory or a retail outlet and I could relax on the road in a job I enjoyed, not dealing with retail customers again. My younger sister had been working in childcare for quite a few years at this stage and I had been thinking I’d like to finally try the education sector, so I dove in and started working for her at her centre in 2010. I found a new passion in education, loving my new career of educating young children during the most vital years of their lives. Every day was different and the kiddies in my care were adorable, giving me so much love in return for the care and education I gave to them each day. I spent ten years in the early years sector, completing a Diploma in Early Childhood very soon after joining the industry. I’m proud that even now, twelve years after I first started educating young children, that so many of my children and their families have remained good friends of mine to this day. It’s always a sense of pride when I get on Facebook and see another achievement that one of my little ones have reached in their lives and know that the earliest education they received from me contributed, in even the smallest way, to the beautiful people they are today. It is a very rewarding industry to work in, but it’s also very exhausting and there is a high turnaround of early years educators. I lasted longer than the average, tapping out after ten years and deciding to do something that was more personally rewarding for myself.

While I was working in childcare I finally went to university and studied photography, completing a Diploma of Photography and Photo Imaging over two years, while also working full-time. It was an intense two years, studying and working with a full workload, but I loved it! To finally be studying something that I was passionate about and have loved doing my entire life was a dream come true and I’m so happy I finally pursued that dream. While I was at uni Jacko and I bought our dream house and took an overseas holiday to the US, making for a very intense end of year in 2016.

Through each of my careers I have always strived to continually educate myself, always wanting to better my knowledge of the world and all it has to offer. Some might say I’m a constant dreamer, always searching for that new challenge and working towards ticking off another item on my bucket list. I’ve always felt life was fleeting and something you need to grab by the horns, hold on and ride like crazy. You really don’t know what could happen to you tomorrow, next week, next year. We only have a certain number of tomorrows to live and I think I’ve always been afraid of running out of tomorrows before I finish my to-do list. I don’t want to have any regrets and I’ve always believed in just going for it and trying. If things don’t work out, there’s nothing that you can’t undo and go back to where you were before if you decide that’s where you prefer to be. Except death of course. That’s the one constant that is permanent, as I was to learn in 2020 when everything changed for me. I’ve mentioned how I lost both my Mumma and my husband only five months apart in an earlier post. Those two profound losses had such an impact on me and my outlook on life. We all know we’ll eventually lose our parents. Unfortunately, it’s the circle of life. One that people don’t talk about and nobody prepares you for, but the inevitable happens and you unfortunately face a day where one of your parents is gone. I suppose the one small blessing for my family is that we were able to prepare ourselves in a way about Mum. We were told she could have two years and she was determined to beat that diagnosis, something she did, even if only by six weeks. We had two years to make memories with her, tick off her bucket list, cherish her stories and absorb the sound of her cheeky laugh. Still, the day we lost her was shattering. It’s something I’ll write about sometime but am not ready to yet. But to then lose the man I loved only five months later – well, that was completely soul destroying and something that’ll take me a long time to be able to put into words without falling apart. Facing two close losses so very close together was the thing that was going to either break me and see me crumble or be my driving force to make me LIVE MY BEST LIFE and have NO REGRETS. I made a promise to both of the people I love that I would go on living, for both of them and for myself. They both had goals they never got to achieve. Places they never got to visit and dreams they never got to see grow into fruition. Watching their struggles and fight for life made me sit up and look at my own life, seeing what I didn’t like about it and what I wanted to do to ensure I had no regrets when my ultimate time arrived.

After saying my final goodbyes to Mumma and Jacko I pulled away from the world a bit while I caught my breath, evaluated my life and decided where I wanted to go from there. I had my little band of amazing rocks who held me up every single day through this time – my heroes and warriors, who I’ll write about another day – and they kept my head above water while I found myself. I emerged from the depths of grief determined to achieve my goals, especially my biggest goals. I left the traditional workforce and became a qualified snake catcher, completing the course required and getting the licence needed to go out into the community to catch snakes. A new hat for me to wear. I went and did the lessons and sat for my truck licence, passing with flying colours. A lifelong hat I’ve wanted to wear, proudly sitting on my head. I made the call to a publisher to publish my book. I had never wanted to “sell” any of my writing in the traditional sense. I’m fiercely protective of my creative work and couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else owning my baby, so I knew I wanted to publish in a way that allowed me to retain all ownership of my writing and have full control of how and what happened to my words. I had been a follower of Ocean Reeve for quite a few years and knew straight away that he was the one I wanted to publish my book. I didn’t need to shop around. I already knew I trusted him from being Facebook friends for years and observing how he ran his publishing house, so there was never any question for me about who I would ask to turn my manuscript into an actual, tangible, printed and bound paperback. It was finally time to acquire that ultimate hat I had always dreamed of. The big one. The shiny, diamond-encrusted, royal purple, amazingly comfortable dream hat. The ultimate investment of a hat I could make. An investment in myself and all I was capable of; My published author hat.

My dream hat is currently being finalised, going through the final editing stages and being prepared to be launched here to the world. It’s honestly the hat I’m most proud of, even more so than owning my dream home. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do for myself, and even if it turns out the hat doesn’t fit quite as snugly as I imagined, it’ll always be my hat and something nobody can ever take away from me.

I hope you’ll all go out in the world and find the perfect hat for you.

Carol xx

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