Cindy Lever’s colourful and extensive career journey has come full circle. She rediscovered a passion for her first career—the career she started out with all those years ago—and has created the life she once longed for: being at home raising her children, doing a job she loves, and living on an organic farm in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
During the rare moments she is alone, when her head is not buzzing with story ideas, she is pinching herself thinking how lucky she is.
How would you describe yourself in three 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. I most loved being there to watch my baby develop. I most missed that sense of control and 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 parental leave drew closer, I couldn’t let him go, so 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 daycare 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 two beautiful children; the second born approximately 10 years after your first. How has becoming a parent 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 second 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 others.
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 still quite young, and I’d like to say I get to do interviews and write while my daughter plays happily on the grass with the animals out the front, but the truth is she is normally screaming for my attention or trying to take my pen and write on my pad while I’m doing interviews. 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, mum-life and journalism?
Every day as mum and journalist is 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 my daughter 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 parent, 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 knew the whole process of picking and processing coffee at under two years 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, where would it be?
That’s a really tough question, but probably Greece.
Favourite time of the day is…morning.
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.
My role model is…other women doing amazing things and bringing to life their passions.