I am an indestructible womxn.
Ange Robertson works as an Interior Designer and Property Stager in Brisbane, Australia. Ange has an extensive background in art, craft and design as both a practitioner and in Arts Management. She is an advocate of a local, sustainable, creative production industry, supported by stronger copyright laws and consumer education. Ange is also a single mother of two teenagers and has studied and worked in flexible roles in; television, website design, hospitality and cleaning; to accommodate the changing demands of the job of full time parenting.
What have you changed your mind about?
My ‘wasted youth’ in Sydney. We’ll never have such freedom again.
What brings you joy?
Easy! Hearing my two children make each other laugh, letting my silly little dogs run wild on the generous four kilometres of off-leash beach near my mum’s place at Peregian Beach. The smell of Jasmine and Murraya flowers, floating over huge waves at the beach. Doing stand-up and making people laugh. Making people laugh generally! Professionally, as a Property Stager, transforming people’s much loved homes into something they love just as much or more to the point where they cry happy tears or don’t want to sell anymore!
What's easy for you as a womxn?
Putting other’s needs ahead of mine. It’s generally not a good thing and something I’ve only learned in retrospect.
What's difficult for you as a womxn?
Charging clients for my time, talent and expertise. So much of my life has been spent in unpaid labour; volunteering, studying, mothering etc. Even though I have high-level executive skills and extensive experience in; finance and management, training and human resources it has been largely acquired in the arts and creative industries which I feel are undervalued in this country – as women generally are. I totally accept this is MY experience not every woman's and I’m working on it!
How do you maintain mental fitness/mental health?
Are you ready for a long answer? It’s super important to me and while I should say I do yoga and meditate (which I love!) I just don’t… I see a psychiatrist about every three to six months and have since my father committed suicide about 11 years ago. I had previously seen a psychiatrist after my first child was about a year old and I was a tearful mess. He diagnosed me with exhaustion not depression! I was career oriented and we were supposed to be able to do it all. After my father’s death I was referred a psychiatrist by my beloved family GP, for ‘unresolved grief’. I was subsequently prescribed a low dose antidepressant to treat anxiety and depression. Earlier this year, my son, having previously been found to be highly gifted, was diagnosed with ADD and prescribed a slow release amphetamine. My psychiatrist had previously suspected I might also have ADD and recommended an excellent book which I found very useful in identifying some revelatory ‘me too’ characteristics. Following my son’s diagnosis (by an excellent children’s psychiatrist and a psychologist – both women as it turns out), my psychiatrist agreed to prescribe the same medication to me. He said after four years and seeing me through a long and difficult divorce, my full time interior design studies and solo parenting two children with very little money; he still hadn’t ‘worked me out’ and wasn’t sure about ADD because of my focus. I laughed and said, “You don’t know how bloody hard it’s been!”. Seeing a physio (for tennis elbow initially) has also been important in connecting to my body and learning to love its strength. Unfortunately my finances currently dictate when I can do this.
Describe a turning point in your life...
The suicide of my father. Ironically, that was when I recognised where my personal power and true appreciation and admiration of my skills had come from. So, rather than lose that, I decided to own it.
How do you nurture your relationship with nature?
I don’t think I need to nurture it. It’s like a great friendship where you may not see each other for years but always pick up where you left off as if they had just been in the next room. I love what inner cities offer – cultural diversity, built environments, bars etc – but as my sister once observed, I’d transform into a feral hippie in a heart beat. But I do tend to avoid it unless I have the time to be properly immersed – the ocean or the outback… nothing in between. I should probably find a way to benefit from ‘quick dips’ without a sense of regret.
Where do you feel a sense of belonging/community?
In my bed, having a coffee, with my two children on board. Seeing a band that I love. With my siblings. They’re all types of crazy but also the wittiest, most intelligent and interesting people I know. Seeing a band with my siblings! Seeing friends who ‘get me’.
What makes you optimistic about the future?
Not very much. Attempts at genuine change are thwarted by the inherently destructive nature of capitalism/communism – ‘the global economy’. While natural gas is still extracted from the earth to make plastic bottles I don’t feel very optimistic.
What’s important to pass on to your children?
A love of wilderness, stars, clean oceans and beaches. Love, respect, empathy and ethical behaviour.
Best piece of advice from a woman?
Never stop drawing.
What are you working on?
Getting my business organised and not avoiding doing things I enjoy.
How do you play?
I mooch around my little apartment. Downtime with a G&T, Netflix and social media is fun for me. I’m looking forward to more fun and play when my second child finishes year twelve!
Describe an influential woman in your life …..
This woman has taught me, while admitting her own struggles, the power of patience and understanding but also the importance of being assertive, not angry. Being empowered rather than drained in dealing with adversity.
Where do you live/work?
I live in Kelvin Grove and work all over Brisbane, Turball Jagera country, the Sunshine Coast, Kabi Kabi / Gabi Gabi country, and Gold Coast, Kurrungul country.
Ange’s honest description of her life conjures up an image of a field of many colours, through which she is valiantly navigating the tragic, the joyful, and the mundane. Real stories about real women told in their own words bring us closer to the realness of suffering and the activation of caring and compassion for each other. Brene Brown in her book Rising Strong supports this notion:
"Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is bo weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage."
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