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Women with Purpose

Bali, Women with Purpose

Women With Purpose : Agata Bogusz

January 23, 2017

It’s been a while since my last Women With Purpose post, but it’s time and well overdue! After growing up spending summer by the lake or at the seaside Agata Bogusz was always destined for life in the water. But it wasn’t until a scuba trip in Egypt in 2008 that she discovered freediving by chance. The polish record holder is now based in Bali, with a mission to share the benefits of freediving with others (and through freediving, I’ve been lucky enough to meet her and now call her my friend as well as my coach.) Here is my interview with this lovely mermaid that was originally published in Travel Play Live Magazine in January.

Have you always loved the water?

I was always in the water from early childhood. My father was a member of a scuba-diving club and it was a tradition to go to with him to the pool on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On these days I was playing a lot in the water with my brother and father. We were always holding our breath, having fun and diving in the deeper part of the pool. I remember crossing my legs, and pretending I had a tail.

How did you discover freediving?

I started scuba diving around the age of 19 and loved it immediately. I did my level one, and level two, and then started technical diving, because I really wanted to go deep. Technical diving is decompression diving with different mixes of gasses, which allow you to stay longer and dive at a greater depth. I was training with the polish record holder in deep technical dives; he wanted to make me his partner. This journey brought me to Egypt to train for a month in the summer of 2008. During this trip, I met a guy who was freediving and did not have a buddy for his dives. He took me out for a session with him and I thought it was easy. In just a few sessions I got to 30 meters. He checked that it was the Polish National record and convinced me to train properly. Then I came back home to Poland and I trained for a month for a pool competition, and came second. This is when I was introduced to the polish freediving community. After a year of training in September 2009 I re-set three polish records in Dahab. Continue Reading…

Daily Life, Musings of sorts, Women with Purpose

Liz Gilbert – Words of Wisdom

March 7, 2016

I saw Liz Gilbert talk on Friday. I was pretty pumped to see her after reading her book BIG MAGIC about creative living without fear, as it was about a year or so ago I went to see her at the Opera House. I dragged The Ginger Hunk along. Liz, while sitting ALMOST CLOSE ENOUGH FOR ME TO TOUCH, HUG, HAVE WINE WITH LIKE MY BEST FRIEND ETC was drilled on the intricacies of creativity, BIG MAGIC, fear and pleasing others.  Here are some nuggets of her wisdom I will share with you.

Forget about creativity, curiosity is inside us all

My friend Clare just wrote a beautiful post on this. Quite often we believe that we are NOT creative, that creative is something that we are tagged with, and thus we are allowed to be creative, once granted permission.  This is wrong. I don’t know what stops us being creative, but something does.  I was looking at all the little girls at my nieces party yesterday, and they were all jazzed up in their tutu’s drawing, playing, walking around like little princesses. I’m not saying that we all have to wear tutu’s in our mid-thirties… but somewhere along the line we are all told taught to walk the line, and stop being creative, that creativity is for the chosen few. Let me tell you a secret. I have always been a writer. But I also LOVED to draw. I would spend hours when I was young, drawing and writing stories in books. I was a terrible artist, but would lose hours in it. HOURS. And that is what BIG MAGIC IS. So despite my curiosity and call to draw for hours. I stopped. I wasn’t any good. Liz asks us to not decide to be creative, but say yes to the little inklings of curiosity we may have, and that is in us all. Don’t kill your curiosity, you don’t need permission to try.

2016-03-07_05.10.22Create then let it go

Liz described a friend who would ‘hang’ onto projects after they were finished, hoping that the publishing media whirlwind or whatever happened would bring her joy. She advised us to ‘put it in the river and let that project go’. The best satisfaction that we can have is FINISHING. Once finished, you send your art out into the world and make space for new ideas, by setting old ones free. Your job is to create and finish things. I loved it when she said that “the saddest thing in the world is thinking about all the unfinished novels sitting around in drawers “. Cheers to that. And guilty of that. I had a very clear idea for a children’s book. The story came to me. I wrote it. I wanted to self publish it, just because I wanted to. Now it is sitting there, I think it’s not ‘good enough’ to send to publishers and my heart is telling me I really want to do it myself. Yet I wait.  For I don’t know what? Permission? I just need to put it out there AND FINISH!

Are you surrendering or giving up?

As in the example that I chose before. If I killed my book idea now, I would be giving up for sure. I had the idea almost 14 months ago. Yet it sits. Surrendering is another thing all together. Surrendering is pouring your heart and soul into an idea, and hitting a brick wall. You can’t go any further, but you really know that you tried. Surrendering is different to quitting.

Most things in life are boring – but keep going 

I loved this part of the speech. Things that people do are often boring. Parenting. Boring. Travelling. Boring. You spend a lot of time sitting around in airports, feeling sick, tired jet lagged and spending a fortune, or alternatively, cleaning up vomit and schlepping around to kids parties. But we do it for the ah, hah moments, that are few and far between. Writing is the same. For the most part, we slog it out. I’ve had two of the biggest pieces of my career due this week, and I waited for the BIG MAGIC to come and it didn’t. What I had to do was squish two very passionate subjects of mine, (and six interviews, and two studies and EVERYTHING ELSE I WANTED TO SAY) into 600 words a pop. That was not BIG MAGIC. That was stressful. So sometimes, creative work is hard and boring like life.

But what is BIG MAGIC then?

For me, it’s waking up at 4.45am to let these words out as if they were bursting.

Losing hours in this thing.

That is what BIG MAGIC is.

Much love and Happy Monday, 

Ashleigh XXX 

Image credit for feature – Oprah 

Linking up with My Home Truths for #imustconfess

More Women With Purpose on My Meow

Elizabeth Gilbert

Edith Hurt 

Bexy McFly

Bronwyn Law 


Health & Wellbeing, Women with Purpose

Women with Purpose: Sarah Anne Evans

October 5, 2015

I first  met Sarah Anne in 2010 at a triathlon catch up organised by a friend who was convincing me to race. Way back then, the sporty blonde and her partner Warren, were creating online fitness programs for people training for endurance events and running an outdoor fitness company. As my triathlon addiction grew (then swiftly ended) I have watched Sarah Anne grow her business into a successful multisport hub. Karmea now offers (as well as training programs) turbo classes, strength training, yoga and pilates. I have watched as Sarah Anne has not only created a gym, but also a vibrant community, welcoming people of all levels. On a personal note, Sarah Anne took me from a beginner triathlete to a half ironman, adapting a program for me around a busy life.

I have her to thank for believing in myself to have one of the biggest achievements of my life.

A few weeks ago I chatted to my former coach about all thing sport, living a Karmea life, her recent trip as a National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) role model, her previous life, what is next and her biggest business learning.

On her previous life. Sarah Anne ran a successful events production company for over 15 years in the UK. In her former life she jetted about from event to event, working long hours and earning a great reputation for high quality productions. She always had the passion for health and fitness, training for endurance events outside of her busy schedule and racing for Great Britain at age group level in triathlon and duathlon. A move to Australia in 2009 brought the chance of a fresh beginning and the opportunity to pursue a career which aligned with her passion, fitness and training.

Realising the dream to open the Karmea Hub. After training clients outside for four years Sarah Anne started to feel a itch that she wanted to have create a center to bring together the Karmea community and welcome people to a friendly, non intimidating space. She says that this took a while to say out loud, particularly to her husband, as the dream was a big leap financially and time commitment wise, to running the outdoor business with minimal overheads. The Hub on North Head in Manly has now been open for two years and continues to grow by the week, with 30 hours of classes a week to choose from and over 500 active clients visiting the centre each month. The team of Karmea Athletes is limited to 20 to enable Sarah Anne and fellow coach husband Warren, to offer a personal service to each of them.

The biggest business learning so far. Learning to step back as a trainer and be behind the scenes as a manager has been a steep learning curve for Sarah Anne. Today she works with a team of great trainers who are committed to the Karmea brand and ethos. Managing personal stress and time in between fitting in her own training, coaching, writing training programmes, and running a business is also challenging. Sarah Anne sets clear boundaries on her work and personal time, something that gets blurred when your sporty hobbies are also your job (and you love to talk about sport!) She keeps two phones, one for work and personal, the work is always switched off when she isn’t working. Her own training forms an important part of her week, but fitting it in around a  50hr work week can prove challenging. Days start early, 6am, and finish late 8pm, so scheduling and planning are important to ensure balance. Recovery time is massively important so she manages this by setting aside some non-negotiable time for herself on the yoga mat twice a week. “My Yin Yoga time is scared”, she says.

 On what is in store for the future. “I only look three to six months ahead at a time” she says, explaining that this allows flexibility and space for opportunities to arise. “While I have long term aims for the direction for Karmea, I like to allow new ideas to grow and I’m always open to new adventures and possibilities.”

On the NASCA Athlete and role model tour. In August 2015, Sarah Anne had the opportunity to go on the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy Role Model tour. This opportunity took her 200km from Alice Springs, to a small community called Laramba where she spent a week doing sport with the kids. This experience was transformative in her understanding of Australia’s first people. “Coming back to Sydney and my home on the Northern Beaches, couldn’t feel further from the reality of everyday life of the real country I call home. I have been to the heart of Australia, and now I’m not sure where I live. I look at the land around me differently somehow. The true foundation of this country lays with its first people.” You can read more about this amazing journey on Sarah Anne’s blog.

On what event is next. Sarah Anne’s next event will be representing Australia at the Xterra World Championships in Maui on 1st November, alongside hubby Warren. The off road Olympic distance triathlon (swim/mountain bike/trail run), will also include some well needed rest with time to kick back and ponder her next adventure.

 On the best part of her job. “Seeing the change in peoples self belief and confidence when they realise what they are fully capable of” is the biggest reason she keeps doing what she’s doing, she says. “I love that I train people that really don’t see that they are such an inspiration to so many. We get so caught up in the things we are striving for, that we often can’t see what we are achieving right here and now”. Whether it’s training a couple to keep fit for their walking holidays, or training someone for an ironman, the result is equally as exciting for Sarah Anne, when she see’s the change in people, their lives and their belief that anything is possible.

You can find more about Sarah Anne, her amazing team and living a Karmea Life at

More Women with Purpose

Edith Hurt 

Bexy McFly

Bronwyn Law 

Women with Purpose

Women with Purpose : Bronwyn Law

June 18, 2015

When Bron announced she was becoming a white lady (yes, the ones you see at funerals) my initial reaction was shock. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to drill down into the details. We had a chat about white ladies, being afraid of death and what each day is like. When she’s not being a white lady, Bron is a mum and stepmum, a loving and loyal friend, and the master of her thermomix. She’s also survived cancer and just raced in an ironman!

Impressed? Read on for the third installment of my ‘Women with Purpose’ series!

Tell me about what it means to be a white lady. 

My official title is a funeral directors assistant. On the day of the funeral my job is to either drive the hearse or pick up the family and drive them. A funeral in many ways it is like an event. Lots of things go on behind the scenes to make sure the day runs without problems. It might be sewing someone’s button that has fallen off their shirt. It might be getting extra chairs, or seeing what can be done to make sure things go smoothly for everyone else – so they can concentrate on their loved one that they are saying farewell to. 

What do you like about it?

Going to work is completely different. You don’t know what is going to be ahead of you. I enjoy the people I meet and the stories that I hear. I think of it as a wonderful opportunity. 

Tell me about how you came to start working as a white lady – has your personal experience helped you with this role?

I think because I know what grief is like (through the death of my brother) and I have experienced grief so personally, I can really have great empathy and compassion for people without trying to feel all of their feelings. It gives me the backbone to stand near people and witness their grief.

My skill set is working with people and groups of people. I have a background in hospitality. This gave me a good foundation for working with people when they are tired, cranky, emotional, or out of a night out. I also worked in outdoor education and sports recreation. Often you are in the cemetary, in the rain, it is a very physical job out in the elements. 

Weirdest thing that has happened to you at a funeral?

The craziest day was when we had a lady that was completely grief-stricken. Nothing was going the way she wanted. She ended up  chasing me around the cometary with a stick. In the outside world if I wasn’t in my white lady uniform, we would have gotten along fine. She was acting out of grief and things had gone wrong. Eventually she calmed down and thanked me towards the end of the day.

Best perk of the job?

Most of the time we hear amazing stories about what people have done. We hear about the little old lady lying before us who survived two wars and raised a family. It is such a privilege to hear the stories and also sad that you only hear about someone through their eulogy. Often people remark that they did not know the person had achieved something or had a certain experience and I think I am so privileged to be able to hear that in my work. 

Do you think that this is your purpose?

I do think that working with grief and death is a vocation. At the moment I work three to four days a week. With training for an ironman, I feel I have enough other stuff that is ‘alive’ to give me the balance I have in my life. 

How to people react when you tell them what you do?

They often say that they could not do it and ask how I deal with the sadness. The dead body thing seems to freak some people out. The make up artist does an incredible job. Most people are actually pleased and happy to see their loved one. 

Why do you think people are so afraid of death and dying?

People like to have control in life. Death, when and how we die is out of our control. As humans, nobody wants to feel like they are out of control. When you are dying you leave a hole in people’s lives. 

I had cancer when I was 14 and I faced the idea of death at a very young age. That has helped me in my personal life because I know that life is short and you have to be grateful for every day you have. 

It is all out of your control, and you can’t let the unknown stop you from doing anything. 

I come home and I just want to hug my kids.

My job is a constant reminder that life is short.

Bron enjoying her work


More Women with Purpose; 

Sarah Anne Evans 

Bronwyn Law 

Edith Hurt 


Cat Lady, Women with Purpose

Women With Purpose : Bexy McFly

February 15, 2015

Her name is McFly and I  admit that I did met her on the internet. (It is not as creepy as it seems I promise!)

We are part of a mutual writers group that offers support to up and coming writers and one day there I spied a post on the Facebook page that struck me. A lady asked: “Is there anywhere I can write articles about cats, I love them and think I should be writing about them more.” 

Checking out her profile pic I thought, I MUST be friends with this person right now! image1

Messages flowed back and forth before we met in person. We both had blogs, cats and (cat lady tolerant) husbands. We lived in London at the same time, had ambitions to publish and we share our uncertainty for children. Drinks were soon organised and we bonded over seventeen wines and discussions about books, cats and blogging.


Last year, Bexy self published her first magazine, PUSSWEEK Magazine, which is a magazine for cats, by cats. It is hilariously funny; her talent as a witty, sharp and creative author and graphic designer shines through. For the cat, advice can be sought about being addicted to catnip, your scratching post and top 20 sleeps. For the human, PUSSWEEK is funny and light, a delightful break from the daily doom and gloom or the usual pet care magazines (of the how to care for your cat variety).  You can read what Sasha thought of PUSSWEEK Magazine over here.

The idea for PUSSWEEK was born out of a uni assignment that Bexy finished TEN years ago. She had always had it in the back of her mind that one day she would make the magazine a reality. Now in her thirties Bexy has done the whole shebang herself, learning about self publishing her own print and e-book, marketing, and dealing with the occasional haters and crazies.

Throughout the project, she has learnt that you cannot expect help from other people, or rely on people to do things for you.

This is true to what she has achieved. She has self published online and in print, promoted it herself, made connections with bookstores and cat cafe’s and has developed a community of over 10, 000 fans on Facebook.

What can we expect in the next edition of PUSSWEEK?

(I for one am very excited about prospective interviews with some special cats.)

Bexy wants the next issue to be true to the roots of the first one, but also have its own unique mark.

She is not in a rush to get out a new issue if it isn’t purrfect, (which tells you something about her attention to detail and quality).

And for people who are haters or think she is a crazy cat lady?

Her advice is simple.

“Do as a cat does and walk away…or just scratch their eyes out”

Sounds pretty smart to me.

You can learn more about PUSSWEEK (and how to get your paws on a copy) here and read Bexy’s personal blog here.

More Women with Purpose

Edith Hurt 

Sarah Anne Evans 

Bronwyn Law 


Women with Purpose

Women With Purpose: Edith Hurt

January 18, 2015

I first met Edith when I was training for a marathon with Can Too back in 2011. At this time, I was in the depths of my social work career. I was burnt out, tired and stressed. I ran along with Edith and chatted to her one day about what she does and formed a deep admiration. What she described to me sounds very attractive, (and still does). On a personal note, she is one of the few people who picks up the phone and calls me to see if I am okay when I write a deep dark blog post.

So, what does Edith do?

Edith is a woman of many talents, and one of the first people who made me think outside of the box in terms of my own career.

I don’t have to do one thing for the rest of my life. I can do a number of things.

Edith runs her own strategic and business consulting practice, works part time as head of operations for Mozaic Management Consulting, sits on the board for The Can Too Foundation and is a facilitator for Beyond Blue.

Did I mention that Edith finds the time to train for and run a marathon every year, between raising two girls and sustaining a successful marriage.

Oh and she works on projects with her husband too!


This sounds  all a bit hectic on paper, but not when I speak to her about how it works.

Edith has struck a balance between raising a family, working for causes she is passionate about and helping businesses to grow and change. A 12 year history as a corporate project manager has given her the experience to design the way she works. With the learning gained from running her own consultancy she helps enable others to grow or start up their own business.

When having our coffee a few weeks ago, I realised this was someone who had found her balance. But she didn’t just stumble across it by accident. It was not handed to her on a silver platter. She had to redesign her life and the way she worked to get there.

Sitting inside one fine day when her babies were young, Edith was completing some consulting work while her children were playing outside with the nanny in the grass.

Something inside her mind shifted. She knew she had to get the balance better than this.

From that moment, Edith decided to make her business working for her the top priority, so she could put more of her efforts into raising ‘purposeful children’ as she puts it. Working out the balance between her and her husband by taking flexible yet fulfilling positions she was able to fit family life around her career.

I asked what she thinks about women having children AND having a purpose or calling.

Is it really possible to do both?

Absolutely. Edith says “there is a period of time which is challenging, but it does not go for ever.”

Not only living her own life with a social conscience but raising her daughters to have the same perspective to want to help others who are experiencing disadvantage has been important for Edith.

“It is the way I have been brought up – Dad sent me to an Aboriginal community at aged 14 for the school holidays… I have tried to do the same with my daughters and raise them as purposeful people.”

And that she has. Her daughters recently joined me on the track last September for their first half marathon program, raising money for The Can Too Foundation.

With the early years of motherhood behind her what is next for someone with such an impressive list of achievements already?

Edith tells me that would like to focus her energies on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing, but isn’t quite sure how she will go about this just yet.

Something tells me she will do just fine.

 To find out what is next in store you can follow Edith on twitter or LinkedIn