Women of Balance: Donna Thistlewaite, passionate about inspiring and improving the lives of others


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current job?

I’m a mum, career coach and professional speaker. I help adults to revitalise their careers and have a special interest in supporting return to work mums through an in-person and online workshop I developed called CareerSmart Mums. For the past 18 months I have been speaking on resilience and mental health after experiencing a significant personal crisis that led to me making big changes to my life. I’ve always loved helping others and feel blessed to be able to do this daily.

What is your goal/ what are you passionate about?

My goal is to inspire and improve people’s lives through my speaking and careers work.

I’m passionate about helping others to know that it is possible to live a fulfilling life, reducing the prevalence of suicide in our community… and living in a world where parents are able to participate in meaningful paid work and be hands on at home.

What are the most challenging things about your life?

Running my own business definitely presents challenges. I used to regularly have thoughts about giving it up but the further I’ve got into it the more confident I have become that I’m on the right path. I think that the Louise Hay affirmation I started saying a lot at the end of last year, “I let go of fear and doubt and life becomes easy for me”, helped to eliminate the thoughts of giving up and has allowed me to really step up in my business.

I’m often challenged by the fact that I love my work and that there always seems so much to do. I generally work from home and will often pop down to the office at night to quickly post something on social media and re-emerge hours later.

Keeping all my plates spinning in a life where I have multiple roles and varied interests can also be challenging and I’m so grateful to be someone who has a lot of energy.

What are the most rewarding things and what achievement/goal are you most proud of achieving to date?

Parenting has definitely been one of my most rewarding (and challenging) experiences to date. I was almost 42 when I naturally conceived our, now eight year old son, Matthew. I think that we learn as much from him as he does from us (actually probably the former because I’m not sure how much he listens to us!).

I am actually proud of what I’ve managed to do in my business and of creating the online version of CareerSmart Mums because it felt like one of the hardest things I’ve done but I persevered and am happy with the outcome.

Finally, I’m am proud of having been able to transform the darkest time in my life into a positive. In 2012 I attempted suicide by jumping off Brisbane’s Story Bridge. After waking in the hospital I decided that I must be meant to be here. A couple of years later I realised I hadn’t dealt with what caused it, even though I knew I’d never go there again. I consciously embarked on a quest to find what I needed to improve my life and was able to successfully move from floundering to flourishing. I now share this story to help others to know that it is possible to change our thoughts and to create the life we want.

How do you find balance?

I think a big part of balance for me is having a routine. I’m strong on self-care. I meditate each morning, cycle three times per week, cycle with Matthew after school one day each week and generally don’t work on weekends. I also ask for help when I need it, whether it’s asking my partner to pick up some of the home activities or someone to look after Matthew. He actually sleeps at grandma’s on Thursday nights so that I can cycle at 5.30am the next morning. The balance isn’t always perfect but good communication and making sure I look after myself really help.

Do you have any mentors or people who inspired you to follow your dream?

Julia Baker, aka the Snake Boss, greatly inspired me a few years ago when she shared her story of transforming herself from a divorced, overweight, depressed mother of two to becoming the star Animal Planet’s highest rating TV show. Her story, and a subsequent conversation with a friend who had decided to stop the unhelpful thoughts that had become her stream of consciousness, gave me the hope that life could be different. Lisa Nichols, and other US speakers, also inspire in my speaking.

What is inspiring you at the moment (reading/ watching/learning)?

I love audio books and am currently listening to the “NLP: Essential Guide to Neurolinguistic Programming”. I attribute lots of the positive things that I have introduced into my life to NLP. Other books include Mel Robbins “5 Second Rule and Rebecca Campbell’s “Light is the New Black”.

Do you have a message for women over 40?

If you’re not already there, please love and accept yourself for who you are. You are amazing and have wonderful gifts to offer the world. Don’t ever compare yourself to others, only compare yourself to yesterday’s you. Listen to and trust your intuition. Live your biggest life, as far as we know we’ve just got this one crack at it. As George Eliot said “It’s never too late to be who you might have been”. Find time working out what lights you up and do lots of it.

What does the future hold for you?

Growing my business, inspiring more people through my work, a teaching memoir that people can take home with them, living on the Sunshine Coast and travel. I’d love to attend a Lisa Nichols workshop one day and to meet Anh Do.

Do you need hep revitalising your career path? Learn more at Career Vitality.

Balance Team

This article was written by the brains trust of Balance . We are a talented team of writers and contributors with real life experience and a passion for finding balance.

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