Just last week I had the most amazing opportunity to be surrounded by lots of ambitious women at the Thriving Women’s 2018 Conference in Hahndorf, South Australia.
The conference was put together by a newly launched enterprise WoTL (Women Together Learning) and targeted women in agriculture to come together to connect, share stories, knowledge and empower each other. It gave me time and space to reflect on my life and my story.
I married my farmer, Simon in 2006. I didn’t know much about the land, except it was hard work. I grew up in Pinnaroo, my parents worked in the town. When I was a kid I spent lots of the school holidays on my Gran and Pops farm and if I wasn’t there I was down the road at my Aunties farm. I remember they worked hard, I just had fun roaming the farm, climbing trees and helping Gran with the washing, cooking and going to bowls!
After a year or so of being on the farm I took over the admin side of the business. My role is keeping up with the finances, paying the bills and seeing the bank balance. At times that is the most stressful bit. I realised quickly that I loved the wide-open spaces and having my kids be free range and enjoying the freedom a farm brings, playing with animals, riding motorbikes, driving on the big tractors, and the list goes on….
So, here’s the thing… The farm is not my passion. Until the conference I was afraid to tell people this, I was ashamed to say that the farm, It’s really not ‘my thing’.
I hate the dust and I get asthma every time I’m around a wheat crop or hay. It’s my husband’s passion. Simon is a brilliant farmer, he’s innovative and keeps up with all the modern ways of running a farming business, it’s in his blood. I fully support him with his love of farming and the opportunities it brings, because I love him.
I wasn’t quite sure I was going to be the best fit at the conference. I thought I was the only wife or partner on a farm that felt like this. The conference revealed to me that there are more women who feel exactly like me, who feel they leave their passion and interests behind when their husbands’ passion is in the farm and theirs isn’t.
Before my 3rd child was born, I was unsettled personally and with my life. I felt stuck. I couldn’t express myself, I couldn’t think of the words to say out loud that wasn’t going to offend my family. I was angry, alone and scared. I felt like walking down that dusty track and never coming back. I had lost myself, my reason for being here.
Only I could pull myself out of this. I needed to remember my WHY. I knew I needed to feel these crappy feelings otherwise I couldn’t move forward. My thoughts of being a failure to myself and everybody around me was actually helping me grow. I needed to be true to myself. I needed space away from the farm and family to feel. So, I did.
I dug deep to remember what my core values were before marrying into the farm. I needed to remember and ignite my passion. I needed to surround myself with inspiring people.
Being creative is my passion – after leaving school I had a lot of opportunities, one of them was an apprenticeship in Pre-Press Graphics, which was 4 years of hard work. That lead to other opportunities other experiences in the creative world working on big accounts like Harris Scarf and BI-LO (which is now Coles) and I was surrounded by people who were on the same wave length, my tribe, my support network, brilliant people who knew how to run successful businesses.
That is when Kylie Martin Creative was born.
Using the internet (when it was working) from my home office I dived into Facebook groups and I enrolled into a business course which would take my business to new heights by learning how to communicate with my clients, implement workflows and utilise best business practices for running a creative graphic design and web design business. I purchased my very first Apple Mac (because if you’re not designing great things with a Mac you’re not doing it properly!!!). This is not my story about WP Elevation but feel it deserves a tiny plug…so If you want to know more click here.
During the online program I soaked up the atmosphere, I became active in the group chatting and collaborating with over 600 members in the group from all over the world. I’m lucky to still be a part of the group and have a lot of really good friends. It’s weird saying they are close friends when I’ve never met them in person. But these are the people I chat with nearly every day through messenger or skype or on zoom. They speak my language, they know firsthand what it’s like to run a business online from home with young families.
A requirement of the course was you are automatically partnered with an ‘accountability buddy’ – someone who checks in every now and then, somebody who can make you feel uncomfortable when you haven’t completed the work and understands and lifts you up, inspires you to keep going. I was lucky enough to be partnered with Karen from Mount Gambier. We have been calling each other once a week since 2016! We try to limit the calls to 30 minutes but always go over….a lot!!!
Karen and I met in person for the first time at the conference which was amazing in itself. I had a photo of both of us and posted it in one of our private communities and just doing that has opened up further doors for both of us to explore.
As I’m writing this and reflecting on the conference and how deeply it resonated with me, tears are falling. It’s such a powerful thing when you realise that the most powerful thing you can do is to just be true to yourself. I listened to many inspiring women over the 2 days who have experienced similar feelings to me.
The messages I’ve taken away from the 2 days were – to surround yourself with your tribe, be yourself, be informed, know your profession well, be courageous, welcome discomfort, create belonging, be influential. Just ‘have a crack’!
So for me Thriving Women means aligning with your values and finding your why, being courageous doing what you are passionate about. Because when you do those things the universe responds, new opportunities come, new doors open, your life thrives.
I’ve taken the pressure off myself because it doesn’t matter that after all these years I still can’t tell the difference between a wheat or barley crop or how to shear a sheep. Simon doesn’t know how to build a website or create a brand for a business either. But I do enjoy him telling me about his day and he supports me with my passion. And I can tell you that my life is thriving.