Hi there I’m Cindy Lever and I’ve rediscovered a passion for my first career. The career I started out with all those years ago. I have created the life I longed for; being at home raising my children, doing a job I love and living on an organic farm in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
During the rare moments I’m alone, when my head is not buzzing with story ideas, I pinch myself thinking how lucky I am.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Driven – Passionate – Overwhelmed
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?
I did a degree in journalism after school and went to work for the Cairns Post until the travel bug took over and I left for Africa and then London, where I spent my 20s.
In London I established a company importing Australian skincare and selling to stores such as Harrods and Selfridges.
At 30 the biological urge to have a child took hold and I decided to return home to Brisbane.
I completed my yoga teacher training, got married and began working for the Australian Government as a communications officer until at 34 I had my first son, Hamish.
Tell us a little about your experience of parental leave after the birth of your first child?
I had two years parental leave from my role as Communications Officer with the Queensland government. The things I loved most were being there to watch my baby develop. The things I missed were a sense of control, time to myself.
You made the decision to leave your job after your first was born. Can you tell us what led to this decision?
My urge to nurture and protect this tiny human was strong and as he began to grow into a little person, so in awe of the world around him and so attached to me, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him. As the end of my maternity leave drew closer I couldn’t let him go, I made the decision to leave my job.
What were your loves and challenges of being a full-time mum?
Being there for my son was great, but it is not easy being a full-time mum either. It’s tiring and can feel a bit like Groundhog Day at times.
After two years as a full-time mum, you returned to study. Can you tell us a little about this?
When Hamish was two my marriage ended. Suddenly I was a single mum. Dealing with divorce lawyers was frustrating and one day I woke up and thought, ‘I could do this. I’m going to study law’. So, I did. It meant I could still be the stay-at-home mum I wanted to be, and Hamish only had to go into day care a couple of days a week.
What path did your life and career take after completing your degree?
After my degree I worked briefly at a small law firm.
I met the love of my life and just before my 45th birthday Chloe came into our lives.
You now have 2 beautiful children; the second born approximately 10 years after your first. How has becoming a mama changed your perspective on life?
After longing for another child for so many years I wasn’t about to hand her over to someone while I went back to work.
Did your career take a different path after the birth of your 2nd child?
Yes I couldn’t put in the hours that would have been required in law and I rediscovered my love of journalism.
You are now living your dream having rediscovered your journalism passion? What do you love most about it?
I love being able to help other women. I am fortunate to be able to interview incredible people and pass on their knowledge and wisdom to other women.
Your rediscovery of journalism has enabled you to work from home. You’ve swapped city life for farm-life. Bliss! What does a typical day look like for you?
Yes, we have moved to a nine-acre organic farm in the Gold Coast Hinterland and I spend my days ‘juggling’ children, writing, housework and picking coffee and a myriad of fruit.
Life was supposed to be quieter and simpler when we moved here, but it’s still a lot of work, although perhaps a little slower.
Chloe, my youngest is almost two and I’d like to say I get to do interviews and write while my little toddler plays happily on the grass with the animals out the front, but the truth is she is normally screaming for ‘booby’ or trying to take my pen and write on my pad while I’m doing interviews and when it comes to actually writing, she wants to be sitting on my lap, which makes typing virtually impossible.
How do you manage the daily juggle of farm-life, mama-life, journalism?
Every day as mum and journalist, it’s a juggle. The inability to write when the urge arises is so frustrating. Patience is not my strength, but I must have patience and wait for the day’s sleep or a snatched ten minutes when she is occupying herself.
I don’t like the word juggle. I don’t want it to be a juggle. It’s about being creative and finding ways to work around being a full-time mum.
I’m lucky to interview other mums, midwives and doctors who understand children and being a mum and appreciate the challenges of working and mothering and understand if I suddenly stop an interview to clean a bottom or comfort a screaming baby.
I’m grateful to my son, a fantastic babysitter, who I call upon frequently when I find myself behind at the end of the day.
I love the diversity of jobs and sharing everything with Chloe; she knows the whole process of picking and processing coffee at only 23-months-old. But she also gets to watch her mum talking on ABC radio or doing an interview over the phone.
Finally, what are your top tips that enabled you to create the life you longed for?
- Having an income from a rental property
- Finding something I was passionate about doing
- Having a supportive husband
- Attachment parenting ie, babywearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping
- Not needing anything to start work – no capital, no equipment and no help from others
What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did? I’m not artistic and I’m really hopeless with technology and social media.
If you could only go to one holiday destination for the rest of your natural life, what would it be… That’s a really tough question, but probably Greece.
Favourite time of the day is… Mornings.
Instagram sites that inspire you… Hmm, I actually don’t use Instagram.
I’m happiest when… I’m outdoors playing with kids and animals or on the beach.
I’m addicted to… My son would say my phone, I’d say Scandinavian noir.
Favourite wardrobe staple for work… Shorts and top – hard to wear dresses when breastfeeding.
Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend… Shorts and top.
My role model is… Other women doing amazing things and bringing to life their passions.
Heels or flats? Sadly nowadays the heels don’t come out of the closet and often its gumboots.