Who are you, what do you do, and what do you love about it?

I am a kick-ass rockstar chick with attitude and sarcasm as my twin superpowers. I come from a really crappy childhood and then chose to double down and become an engineer and work in construction. 30 years ago, when it wasn’t promoted, wanted, or even something that women thought of. That smashing of the mold has continued all my life and I now embrace being a disrupter and #GladiatHER as my self-titled tag!

In addition to that, I was diagnosed at 18 with a severe and debilitating form of Rheumatoid Arthritis and told I would be in a wheelchair by 24 and dead from complications by 40. 45 and still using these legs, albeit not exactly evenly some days. But with my boots on, I can still kick some ass. Occasionally that includes my own.

I am also a 20-year qualified coach and experienced mentor, who has also done public speaking for about the same amount of time. I am also a self-published author of a guide to mentoring yourself that leaves all the “woo” out and has practical advice for believing in yourself – because I couldn’t find one that helped when I needed it.

In my free time in the other life I have I am a mother to two monsters, disguised as Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They just turned one.

Having RA makes everything a lot harder, but it causes me to be strategic, smart, efficient and make every second count. Skills that I hope to pass onto other women in order for them to keep kicking ass.

How does being a woman in business impact your life and how you manage your chronic illness or disability?

I refuse to let it impact me, but then it smashes me and I have to allow some time and space to recover. I am getting better at listening to my body’s needs instead of ignoring them and is why I want to now get into coaching and mentoring as a paid gig, to allow me some more time to be good to me. Working 15 hours a day in construction with the disease is something I no longer wish to do. I now want to pass my legacy to other women in the industry and create more #GladiatHERs to take my place and multiply <insert evil laugh>

What is the advice you wish you were given (either business advice, illness advice, or both)?

I figured out pretty early to ignore the doctors for the most part.

In business, I really wish I had someone to help me deal with all my childhood shit – instead, I did it alone. I wrote an entire book on things I’d wish I knew or advice I wish I’d been told.
To name a few – don’t take on criticism unless it is real feedback. Ignore the “advice” of others when it is clear they just want to control who you are.

Don’t follow the crowd and attempt to be normal – it doesn’t work. And allow yourself to see how fabulous you are – don’t take 20 years to figure it out, please!

What are the three most memorable things you think about when you look back on your journey so far to bring you to this point?

Only three?

Three this year – becoming YMag’s Top Ten Women to Watch for 2019, and being a cover girl for one of their issues. Winning NAWIC (National Association for Women in Construction) Crystal Vision Award 2019 QLD for contributions to the construction industry and furthering the cause of women. Winning the Fearless Educator Roar Success Award. These sum up my achievements that I have failed to stop and recognize my entire career, which is filled with these kinds of things. I just never stopped to take a moment and feel how amazing that is. It was always onto the next thing, the next achievement.

Do you love labels? If so, what do you identify as?

No, I loathe labels, but I understand, like book genres, they allow others in a similar category to find you, so here goes…
Misfit
Nonconformist
Weirdo
#GladiatHER
Disruptor
Bitch
Queen Bitch
The Original Mother of Dragons
That Construction Chick with Purple Hair

Are you comfortable talking about your chronic illness or disability with the rest of the business world or have you found it has negatively impacted you in the past?

I hid it for years; because I was sacked for my disease a few months after diagnosis; because I thought the right thing to do was to share it with my employer. He “let me go for my own good” on xmas eve 1992. In March 1993 the Disability Discrimination Act came out. It could not be applied retrospectively.

I also had a complete c&$t of a father who entirely made my disease about him, so I just “forgot” about it and moved on. I still struggle with what is called “disability pride” and even the word disability, because nothing has stopped me. AND I have probably been more successful as a result of my disease/disability that if I’d had it easy (ha!) It’s a love/hate thing we have going on. And now I talk about it publicly where relevant because you never know who needs to hear that RA doesn’t stop you from achieving what you want in life.

Where do you find support? For business, for life, for managing your illness or disability?

For the first years (like 15) I didn’t really have any support. My family was absent and I cut them off after massive amounts of co-opting. Not to mention heaps of other drama I just didn’t need. I didn’t have any friends and any I met through work or uni just found it too hard to understand why I was tired all the time and was in pain and cancelled and it was all just too hard for them. I really withdrew when I overheard what was supposed to be a good friend mock me coming down some stairs when she thought I couldn’t hear. Doctors wanted me to take tablets for depression and couldn’t understand I wasn’t depressed I was freaking angry – at a lot of things including them. I was sick of being treated like a freak – “arthritis in someone so young, really?”, so I just isolated and lived for my work. Which I loved. And occasionally someone would care enough to ask, but by then I was flippant… you should see the other guy, you could buy photos but you can’t afford them, etc.

I researched, studied, read everything, saw woo-practitioners, some of which worked every now and then, cried a lot and read some more. I eventually found some amazing women who stuck by me and never saw it as too hard and I now have an amazingly supportive circle of most excellent peeps who keep me in good company. It is also why I do speak about my disease now as I know what that was like and how much strength it took not to just check out. I don’t want any woman to go through something like that alone, even if it just my voice via a blog, a book, an FB meme.

What does life look like for you in 5 years time?

F$CK knows. Whatever I want it to. And given I am just recreating a bucket list after making it to 40 and having the shock of my life that I probably have some good years left to go, I am enjoying the space to make it up as I go instead of striving to achieve before a deadline.
What I’d like is packets and buckets and oodles of cash, some more travel overseas, being paid my weight in gold to talk and present to people and inspire them to get off their ass and make their shit happen…. In some professional language like motivational, inspirational, very expensive, super HERo #GladiatHER lucky to have her kind of way.

To have several of my fictions published and create a revolution by overwhelming the industry through so many women suddenly wanting to embrace it as a career and every other girl cosplaying my Main Character all over the world.

Obedient dogs, that would be a nice goal too. Something like that.

Owning a castle with its own library (already half stocked by me) and some secret passageways would be somewhere in there in my free time.

What’s the one thing you’d want people to understand about who you are and how you operate as a fullysickbusinesschick?

Don’t really give a toss for other people’s opinions, especially of me, but if I had my way, I’d have every woman be nicer to all other women, including the ones who aren’t like them, wear less makeup, care less about their boobs and ass size and more about their kindness levels and empathy while raising a generation of #GladiatHERs to stop taking the shit we are fed from birth about being a good girl, a nice woman, fitting in, looking hot and downplaying how damn good we are.

And more accessibility for disabled people.

I operate on a don’t f$ck with me and you won’t make the biggest mistake of your life kind of modality. I am just over here doing my thing, if that makes you jealous, take a good look at yourself instead of dragging me down to your level, because I don’t play in the muck.

Who do you look up to in your industry or in the world?

Me. Ain’t nobody who can do me as brilliantly as I do.

And that is how it stayed for some time. But there are a few women who have appeared I can get behind and admire – Jacinda Arden, Michelle Obama. But mostly me.

What advice would you give to women starting in business who are also juggling multiple balls?

Drop the balls that you don’t love. Forget about juggling and put them in a backpack and just use them when you need to. Stop grinding and hustling and work out what makes you happy. Do the shit things so you know they are shit and are then grateful when someone can then do them for you, but you will appreciate it more, and also won’t get ripped off. Take some shit with a grain of salt, don’t listen to the people around you but the people who have already done it, and if no one has done it, then you can’t make a mistake by being the first. So get on with it.
In the words of the great Harley Quinn – deal with your shit. In the words of the fabulous Bek, don’t make your shit other people’s problems, but equally, don’t make other people’s shit your problem. Learn to distinguish between useful shit and stinky shit. And really, its all shit. It’s just the shit you chose to make it worthwhile.

Okay, that seems a bit extreme, but in “proper” language, deal with your own issues and make sure you clean your own back yard before branching out into the world. You will be more confident and more able to distinguish between success, sabotage, and syphons – which are like pythons but suck way more from you.

What makes you fully. faffing. sick? (Ummm… that’s awesome.)

So that should be pretty damn obvious already, but I’ve won heaps of awards, achieved lots of things, and I’m a fully sick Leo so if I love you, I will murder for you and cause I’m on the Virgo cusp it will be genius and perfectly executed (as will the victim).

Um, just being me, that pretty fully f$cking sick.

What will you do after you’ve finished answering these questions?

Relax because that was the most honest and intense I have ever been in an interview.

Because nanna naps are the best. Especially on a Monday.

And then submit my magazine article that is due because I’m awesome like that.

Teller of tales, weaver of futures supporting others with their dreams, weaves stories from gossamer and steel, who gets her boots on for breakfast. She is a professional mentor and writer with a history of engineering, construction, project management, and has dealt with some fucked-up shit like child abuse and a lifelong chronic illness.

Why are we doing this thing? Because there’s enough noise in the world telling women what we ‘should’ be doing.

We should parent more consciously, but not be helicopter parents. We should take care of our bodies, but not be vain. We should make boys pay, but demand equal rights. We should dress appropriately, but also be confident in our skin, wear what we want, but not be provocative, oh and please feel comfortable in the world’s skimpiest school bathers but then wear your jeans to the formal because last year the boys looked up the girls’ skirts and so you’ll have to be the ones to modify your behaviour. Yeah. No. 

We are a mother and daughter writing team who launched a platform for women 14 –  104. Women who need to read stories of daring. Women who need to write them.

How Dare She relies on donations to keep us ticking along. Help us pay for all those little things that keep a website running, and you’ll be rewarded with inspiring stories, a kickass community, and warm fuzzies. ♥

#fullysickbusinesschick – Lucy Tearne

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#fullysickbusinesschick – Teniele Arnold

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#fullysickbusinesschick – Sara Spasovski

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