The life I wanted

by Carmen Cromer. Average Reading Time: about 5 minutes.

22 January 2019

On reflection at the start of this year, I realised I’ve made the life I wanted. In three short (but endless) years.

It’s three years today since my daughter was born at a minute to midnight. My life today looks completely different to the way it did back then, in January 2016.

But for completeness of documentation, I know that things had really begun to change almost a year before that. In February 2015, I was very ill, recovering in bed from two operations to remove a baby that didn’t live (I was almost 5 months pregnant when we found out he had the chromosomal abnormality, Trisomy 18 – ‘not compatible with life’). It should’ve been a straightforward operation, but it needed to be done twice, then I got infection on top of infection… and then I also somehow got pregnant again. My gynaecologist was surprised…

Both babies were a surprise. Women in my family tend to like having kids over forty, but it had not been part of the plan. To be honest, I didn’t really have a plan. But life, as it does, handed me one…

As sad as the death of the unknown boy was, that time sick in bed sparked a deep self-reflection in me that had me saying: No More. And committing to creating the life I wanted no matter what. So he was important, and his death wasn’t in vain, and I have a lot to thank him for – in addition to the fact that my daughter would not be here without him.

And because I love a list, here’s the unedited dot-point version of the journey…

What I was saying No More to:

  • No more blaming others/Tasmania for what I didn’t have
  • No more working for other people, ever again – I simply wasn’t designed to do it
  • No more half-assing it in my own business (which I’d been running on and off since leaving Cleo magazine in 2003)
  • No more avoiding who I was and what I wanted
  • No more jumping from one shiny object to the next, trying to work out why I was so restless and dissatisfied
  • No more financial issues – especially no more being underpaid for what I did
  • No more working in my zone of competence/excellence – only zone of genius from now on
  • No more migraines
  • No more crippling anxiety

What I knew I needed to do to change:

  • Find out who I was – like, REALLY was
  • Find out what I wanted – again, the hidden, below-the-surface wants
  • Find out how to tangibly create that in real life (quickly and easily) – so it didn’t stay a dream

(Some of) What I’ve discovered since then:

  • I’m a genius at identity work
  • I’m not designed for the conventional
  • I’m a synaesthete
  • I have a high tolerance for risk
  • I’m autistic
  • I’m a writer and artist to the core, with a streak of business (not the other way round)
  • My life must be beautiful
  • It’s easy for me to make money – but it’s not about the money for me
  • I have a Mensa IQ and the emotional age of a 14 year old (thanks, autism)
  • I’m an extrovert – not an introvert like I’d previously thought
  • It doesn’t matter how hard it gets, I don’t give up
  • The outcome I wanted to create for my work meant I had to design something that didn’t yet exist
  • I was a practicing witch (actually, practitioner of magic is more correct) until the age of twelve – and it was time to start again, after a thirty year break 

    Lola Winter walking home after her birthday – high summer/full moon, January 2019


What I created:

  • A one-of-a-kind business that makes more than $250k a year
  • A lifestyle that means I work about 8 hours a week, with amazing client who want to – you guessed it – find out who they are and what they want, and how to make it real
  • My own unique, unrepeatable synaesthetic-based creative/investigative process that helps clients get what they need
  • The space to be creative on my own terms
  • The space my neurodiverse brain and my overly sensitive body needs in order to function

How I did it:

  1. Made the decision (during those weeks while ill in bed) that I was committing to this process, no matter what – I was prepared to leave my husband, my kids if necessary. I was focused like a motherfucker on finding out who I was. No. Matter. What
  2. Started searching and researching – every spare moment was spent in increasing my self-awareness and self-reflection. Like a woman possessed
  3. Hired professional help (mentors) – I invested a lot of money in mentors to speed up this process – and I did this while not earning an income AND with a brand new baby
  4. Got clear on what I wanted. NB: this is a never-ending process – there’s no destination you arrive at – I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life. But, the basics are that in each moment, I took immediate action on what I knew I wanted in that moment
  5. Created the identity of the version of me that had everything I wanted, and started acting from this place in every moment
  6. Shut down the old version of my business, quit my job and launched my new business – coaching and mentoring – with a brand new baby
  7. Believed 1000000000% that I would make it work, regardless of what others said
  8. Ruthlessly removed everything from my life that didn’t fit with the picture of what I wanted (and have continued to ruthlessly remove things)

What I have today:

A peaceful existence in a beautiful place. Happy, healthy children. A husband who fascinates me. A plan for 2019 that includes writing an illustrated young adult series, plus loads of painting and portraiture work for my identity clients, and more investments (houses and vintage cars). Lots of travel within Tasmania (mainly to research my book series). A couple of writing masterclasses. A weekly schedule that includes a few phone sessions with clients, time in an art studio, and lots of time for reading, working on my art/magic journal, yoga and walks in our coastal suburb. And this process has given me total control over my anxiety, so I have finally, finally, finally been removed from the cyclical grip of it (and the grip of the things I was using to cope with it – namely alcohol).

Everything’s not perfect, obviously. That’s not the point.

But I don’t recognise myself from where I was four years, even three years, ago. And I can say with total honesty, that I have created the life I wanted. It’s all mine.