Category Archives: Changing Your LIfe

A Life Lesson I Wish I Knew At Sixteen

carla coulson, life lessons, self esteem, life the life you love, change your life,

That’s me in middle showing my undies with my two sisters.

Hey Friends,

I had time this holiday to think about some of things I have wasted time on (shhesh the list was long).

But one of the things that stuck out was probably the biggest life lesson I had to learn, self-love.

This may be a little too personal for some of you so please feel free to click off here.

When I was sixteen I lived in Port Macquarie and in theory was having the time of my life. I had great friends, my first boyfriend and a bike that I pedaled from one end of our town to the other, I felt as free as a bird.

In those days I would creep into my brother’s bedroom when he was out (he was the only one with a full length mirror), turn my back to the mirror and angst about the width of my ankles. My bestie had long lean legs with pretzel thin ankles and mine weren’t shaping up anywhere near close to hers. When I was done with my ankles I would turn around and with all my muscle power I could summon I would try my best to create a gap between my legs like the glam girls with long legs at the beach. This was the beginning of many years of comparing myself to others.

On the odd time my mother would catch me, she would tell me that ‘one day you will realize how lucky you are to have strong legs that will carry you through life’.

Hey, I was sixteen as though I was going to listen to my mum!

Not long after my sixteenth birthday my little world fell apart, my dad had a transfer in his job to Sydney and we were all wrenched out of our happy little ‘surfie’ lives in Port Macquarie.

My brothers and sisters were all at different ages, one stayed and the others were young enough to move on but when I hit Sydney my life stopped. I mean literally stopped. I reasoned, I already had life long friends in Port Macquarie, I had been to 3 schools by this stage and no longer wanted to try.

For the best part of the next 5 years I shut down, I made no friends, didn’t have a boyfriend, I refused to get involved with life and skirted around it’s edges, doing the minimum I needed to get by.

Fortunately in my twenties I found a job I loved in marketing and slowly I found a world in the big city were I fitted. I met great people and started a new chapter of my life.

But something was always missing. My self-esteem by this time had taken a battering, the carefree years of a teenager were missing and I did the best I could to cobble together some sort of ‘mask’ that I was together on the outside but on the inside I was still that girl crying in the backseat of the car as my family drove away from my safe place.

I did a dangerous thing, I started to put my self-esteem in the care of others, men.

How I felt about myself was based on how men saw me, treated me, loved me and then eventually left me.

My self-esteem plummeted from one failed relationship to another.

By the time I was 32 I had ‘wasted’ a good half of my adult life not knowing who I was and not feeling the power that you can feel when you believe in yourself.

Things got so bad I could no longer sleep at night, I would drag myself to work, work in a daze and then an exhausted mess head to bed for another sleepless night. I started to take sleeping tablets and things just got worse. This went on for years.

I was lucky, my day of reckoning came and I decided to do something about how bad things had become and found my way to a great bunch (by this stage I needed a whole team!) of healers.

Over time they taught me to value and love myself, to take care of myself, not give everything away to others as I had always done and keep something for myself. I learnt my boundaries and stuck to them.

And then I had an appointment with The Indian Guru. By this stage I was done, I was sick of talking about me, I had re-learnt to sleep (after having wiped out my sleep memory with sleeping tablets) and I felt I could deal with this on my own. One of the kind people who had helped me so much insisted I see the Guru and in one session of 1 hour my life truly changed.

The Guru read my mind and not once did I open my mouth, I cried, he talked and he promised when I walked out of the room I would be different. He moved more energy than a nuclear bomb.

I didn’t even make it to my car before a stream worse than someone afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome hurled from my mouth. For the first time I can remember I was truly angry, I sat in my car and yelled, screamed and swore. All of a sudden I could ‘see’. Twenty years of angst was gone, those boyfriends appeared weak, frail and un-worthy and in that moment I couldn’t understand why I had wanted to be with them.

But most importantly I could see me. I could see that the kindness was more important than the size of my ankles, I could see that the empathy I had for others was far more important than the gap (or no gap) between my legs, I could see that the goodness outweighed any physical faults and my intelligence was alive and well. My mother after all was right!

I was going to need those strong ‘Munro’ legs for the life I was about to embark on.

From that day forward I have never compared myself to others, I have never looked outwards for my self-esteem but allowed it to be nurtured from inside.

I only realized once I had healed my low self-esteem how much it had held me back, how it had stopped me from living the life that was waiting for me and the difference when your true power flows into your bones and sticks.

I couldn’t hang around my old life for much longer and some of you already know the end to this story but eventually I hopped on a plan to find a new life as a photographer in Italy as told in Italian Joy.

A funny coincidence whilst waiting for a plane to Italy was finding a book by John Gray called How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have, his booked explained what happened to me when I missed out on my teenage years. I was relieved, according to Mr. Gray at different stages of our lives we need different kinds of love and I had missed a biggie. Without correcting it I couldn’t move forward. Hallelujah, there was a reason for all of this.

So dear friends, if you are 16, 20, 25, 30 or 60, the age isn’t important, if you too feel you haven’t yet met the real you or tapped into your true self don’t wait a minute longer. Find someone to lead you out of the maze and allow you to be who you were meant to be.

Remember kindness is more important than the width of your ankles and your mother was probably right!

Love and kisses and I hope this wasn’t too much after a long summer.







Like this post? Don’t miss one..

Change + Affairs Of The Heart

Carla Coulson, Eiffel tower, seine river, pont alexandre III, paris, dusk paris, carla coulson

Photo Copyright Carla Coulson

Of all the questions people ask me it’s often about changing their lives.

Change is a big subject in my life and it is something that has accompanied me almost since I was born. You see my parents were ‘changers’. We moved town 4 times by the time I was sixteen (for my dad’s job)  and I lived in 18 different addresses in Sydney (and ruined my mum’s phone book) before I eventually moved to Italy.

Every weekend of my childhood my parents took our family ‘somewhere new’. I was put on a plane when I was 4 with my big sister who was 5 and off we flew to our grandparents almost 1000kms away. Our parents each year took us on a holiday to a new corner of our world, whether we loaded up the Valiant or we slept on a bus for the best part of 48 hours to reach the top of Australia.

Without realising it my parents  were preparing me for a life of change.  I have now lived in 3 countries and becoming a photographer meant everyday would be filled with change and constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone. 

Excitement, newness and adventure  I discovered looking back on my journey is part of my DNA imprinting.

Change isn’t a competition, it isn’t about what others have, it’s about you, your feelings, your passion and making the life you want. Change teaches you to be humble and generous, to give more than you receive and to be thankful for the kindness offered to you when you are the odd ‘woman’ out, standing in a corner on your own in a new situation wanting to fall through the floor and someone reaches out with a word, a gesture or a show of humanity.

I have always had the feeling that someone is watching over me, that when I want something bad enough  the universe hears me and when I truly believe it, it happens. Believing is the key and the power of positive thinking is the most powerful gift we have.

My parents gave me this gift and if you are a parent reading this I encourage you to do the same, their gift to us was to allow us to believe in ourselves, that things were possible and to always be positive. My parents were never filled with fear for us, for our futures and our security. When we crashed our bikes and ended up in hospital they let us get right back on (and boy did we know how to crash). I don’t believe it was a conscious thing, it was just the simple way they lived and thought and this was passed onto us.

Change is easier for some and harder for others but this doesn’t mean that all of us can’t change things.

So here is a little advice:

1. Take one step today towards something you have always but only ever thought about, contemplated or dreamed of doing. Even if that is grabbing an excel file and working out your finances, going to meet someone you have always wanted to, write an email that you have been putting off forever and start putting change into practice.

2. The next time you see someone in a difficult situation cross the room and offer a word to make them feel included. The world will return this to you a thousand times over.

3. Give when you can, a coin to someone on the street, your time, your heart or your thoughts.. All of this will be returned when you need it the most.

4. Make a mood board of where and how you want to live including photos that inspire you and put it some where you will see it everyday.

5. Close your eyes once a day for a couple of minutes and imagine the life you want as though you are living it. Think about the details of where you are, what you are wearing, how you feel, the smells and sensations.

6. Don’t compare you, your life and where you want to go to others. Everyone is unique, we all have our own way of doing things and so do you. Believe in yourself.

7. Always be kind.

Change is a million little steps with an open heart and an action plan!

Sending you love dust from Paris.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” Martin Luther King


Like this post? Don’t miss one..

Save The Date – Italian Joy Limited Edition Prints

fine art travel photography, naples vespa, black and white photography, joy, emotions, silver gelatin print naples vespa, italy fine art photography, carla coulson

SAVE THE DATE – The cover image of Italian Joy will be available in my print shop Wednesday 11th March 2015 at 8am Paris time, 6pm Sydney Time and 2am New York time.. Naples Vespa 2003 Limited Edition image print of 30 signed and numbered, silver gelatin hand print 30 x 40cm on fibre based paper by master printer Toros.

Italian Joy (the book) holds a huge chunk of my heart. Those years living in Italy were the most special years of my life, so full of learning, adventure, happiness, fear, finding photography, love and living my truth.

There was so much to learn and take in. I was fresh, eager and in love with everything Italian and filled with joy for the simple life I was living. When I look back it was the purest emotion I could ask to live and feel. I was doing what I loved, in a place I loved with no compromises.

The photos I took in those years are some of my dearest, they are part of me and my journey, they are filled with the emotions and joy that I felt taking them and the love I have for photography.

Over the years many people have asked to purchase an image from Italian Joy but I never had the time or courage to delve into my archives and organise it. There was a little hesitation on my part too, it all felt so personal.

But this winter I promised it was time to share my babies with loved ones. I know many of you have had a great connection with Italian Joy, hundreds of you have written to me kindly sharing your stories about being inspired to make changes to your life, go on your own Italian adventures and others wrote that it made them feel simply less alone.

fine art travel photography, fine art photography italy, italian joy, vespa naples, joy, emotions, silver gelatin print, black and white photography, toros I wanted something special for the cover image of Italian Joy, an image shot in Naples in 2003. I wanted a silver gelatin print onto fibre based archival paper printed by Master Printer Toros who has printed for Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Josef Koudelka and recently David Lynch. So I headed to his darkroom like the old days and watched him at work, testing the contrast of the image numerous times, before printing the first full image.

italian joy, italian joy limited edition prints, carla coulson, black and white photography, fine art travel photography, vespa naples, silver gelatin, toros, carla coulson

The print process takes time, he prints multiples of the same image with different contrasts, dodging and burning special parts of the images till we agree on our favourite. hand retouch silver gelatin photo, carla coulson, italian joy limited edition prints, italy, vespa naples, joy, emotions, change your life, toros, When the images have been printed, dried and flattened he hand retouches away any dust spots.

david lynch, mep paris, toroslab, black and white photography, silver gelatin,

My spirited friend Toros with an image he recently printed for David Lynch for his exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.

So dear friends SAVE THE DATE, the cover image of Italian Joy will be available as a 30 x 40cm silver gelatin print in my print shop Wednesday 11th March 2015 at 8am Paris time, 6pm Sydney Time and 2am New York time (sorry guys but you will probably be still out partying). Set your alarms because it is a limited edition of 30 prints worldwide, signed and numbered till sold out..

If you would like a dedication on the back of the print to a friend or for yourself there is a ‘add an note’ section prior to putting in your payment details.

‘You may have the universe if I may have Italy.’ Giuseppe Verdi




Ps: If Italian Joy made an impact on your life I would love you to share this post. x

Like this post? Don’t miss one..

An Auto-Immune Update

carla coulson, ranunculas, flowers paris, fleuriste paris, pink flowers, pink,

Thanks to everyone who has written to me and asked me to keep them posted on my progress treating my 3 auto-immune conditions naturally.

I have been wanting to share my latest results from December with you but raced off to Australia to teach a workshop and soak up the sun.

I have continued to eat the way I explained in this post here and live the same way but a couple of habits have crept back in like coffee. I love coffee and it’s been a hard one for me to let go of.

For the first 8 months I didn’t let a drop pass my lips but prior to Christmas and in Australia I was back to having a good coffee 3 or 4 times a week and in Oz almost everyday.

I also started to re-introduce grains such as rice and sarrasin (buckwheat) but in all honesty I feel better without them.

So here’s the score card from December..

Alopecia Areata – Gone, gone, gone.. All 3 bald spots have re-grown and I have a fabulous ‘horn’ sticking straight out of my head where the regrowth is so strong it just grows vertically. Francesco thinks I will soon ‘be growing hair on my back’..

Thyroid Values/Graves Disease – These values were ‘kicked to the kerb’, as my American friend loves to say back in August. All three thryoid values were back in range and have remained there and I have no symptoms at all. You can see the results here and how they changed from my first blood test.

Lichen Sclerosus – This was the trickiest Auto-immune to deal with but I have decided was the easiest way to measure my overall health. When I ate the wrong foods or stressed myself out it hurt like hell. Since early December my dear friend Lichen and I are on the very best of terms. I behave myself and so does he!! All lesions have healed and I have the occasional itchy attack when I eat too many food with oxalates in them.. You can read the details when I discovered what oxalates were back in May here and how I adopted a low oxalate diet.

TSH Antibodies – I started this adventure with TSH anti-bodies measuring 11.9 which I believe indicates the severity of Graves Disease. Over the past months every blood test the anti-bodies continue to drop as my body self heals. My latest test in December dropped again and mumma is getting closer to ‘zippo’. They are now at 3.22 and the antibodies need to be under 1.75 to be home free. This has been the progress..

TSH Antibodies – Dates and Blood Results – Under 1.75 to be in remission

23/12/2014 – 11.9

4/2/2014 – 7.54

22/4/2014 – 6.49

14/8/2014 – 4.86

18/12/2014 – 3.22

Francesco and I decided to do our own form of ‘lent’ this year. For forty days  he would try to give up coffee, wine and ciggies and I would go back to no coffee or grains.

There is another reason too, some of my little lovelies have started their own adventures with auto-immunes (not their choice) and I want to help them make this road easier. So just after Easter I am hoping to have my last blood test and kiss this chapter goodbye.. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime I will leave you with some lovely links especially if you are a mum and you are trying to find some healthy living alternatives for your children.

I love:

The Organic Sisters – Two lovely sisters with children who have had their own health issues and changed their diets. They share wonderful recipes with a simple list of ingredients that work. They also have e-books for lunch boxes and sugar free sweets

Mummamara’s Kitchen – This is a recent discovery through my dear friend Ath. Mara shares great recipes with a focus on family food. Great for kids..

Healy Eats Real -  I discovered Hannah Healy one day on Dr. Google when I was dying for a crunchy biscuit. I found this delicious recipe for Ginger Snap Cookies. I often use chestnut flour instead of the almond and coconut flour.

I Quit Sugar – The lovely Sarah Wilson has made it easy for all of us. There is every cookbook here for kids, adults, cooking in your slow cooker, smoothies and chocolate

Paleo Grubs – has an exhaustive range of meal ideas and you download this dessert E-Book for free

Pete Evans – has developed a ten week program with recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you can’t think of what to do with another root vegetable (aka us poor Northern Europeans in winter) check out his Paleoway

I have gathered all my auto-immune posts together so if you are too struggling with an AI you can read what I have been up to here

Wishing you the very best of good health and I will check back in after Easter.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Ghandi


Like this post? Don’t miss one..

A Valentine’s Day Story About Being Single

single valentine's day story, italian joy, doing what you love, love my job, carla coulson, italy

Self portrait from Italian Joy

Hello Lovelies,

I love Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. The other day on her Facebook Page she invited people to do this

“I want you to do me a favor today.

I want you to post a picture of yourself taken at a moment when you felt like you were at your most powerful. When I look at this picture, I see a woman who is doing exactly what she wants to be doing with her life.

That’s what power means to me.

In fact, that’s the ONLY thing power means to me.

Power doesn’t have to be fierce. It doesn’t have to be aggressive or combative or cocky. It doesn’t have to tear anything down. It doesn’t have to be in your face. It doesn’t have to be a moment of fist-pumping victory. It doesn’t have to be expensive or monumental. It doesn’t have to make the world explode.

Generally speaking, the deepest kind of power doesn’t have much to do with anyone else at all. Nothing to do with status, nothing to do with reputation, nothing to do with winning. Because you can achieve all that stuff (status, reputation, victory) and still feel lost as hell. No, true power comes from standing in your own truth and walking on your own path. That’s it.

When you are operating from that place (standing in your truth; walking on your path) you are the mightiest thing that has ever lived. Nothing can harm you.” Elizabeth Gilbert

I thought about this all week. Then the other day I was flipping through a copy of Italian Joy and I saw this photo of myself I took in the middle of the year at photography school back in 2001.

I was on my own, single but the happiest I had ever been. I had boarded an overnight train from Florence to Sicily with a small bag, my camera, lots of rolls of film and a big bundle of hope and adventure in my heart. Hell I was off to Sicily to roam around on my own with my camera in the middle of August…I couldn’t wait to get there! For the first part of my life I had compromised, put everyone else before me and now I was pleasing myself.

I remember the feeling whilst taking this ‘self portrait’ (long before they were called selfies) and smiling to myself thinking I was the luckiest girl on the planet.

I had found love in the name of Mr. Photography and for almost an entire year of my 35 years I had loved myself. Truly loved myself, all the rest that come before that was just faking it. I was solid, had my feet on the ground and new my true worth and I was no longer willing to take seconds. Now that was something to feel powerful and happy about.

In this photo and at that moment I was the Carla I was always meant to be, the happy, carefree, emotional, loving woman that for years had been busting to break out. I felt powerful because I knew what I wanted. I wanted a simple life, love, adventure and photography and I was on the path to find it.

I had spent many Valentine’s Days on my own watching the delivery boy enter the office with a bunch of roses for someone else, I had walk home emptied handed Valentine’s Day after Valentine’s Day feeling lost, alone and frightened for my future. As the years passed the weight of being single burdened me.

Since I left my old life I have rarely had that feeling again although I have been alone many times.

If you are single this Valentine’s Day I am sending you this little story to know that life changes, it won’t remain the same as it is today and you can be a great, happy, single person in love with life! In this photo I was single and probably at the most ‘powerful’ point in my life, there were no compromises just me doing what I loved.

“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” Arthur Rubenstein



Like this post? Don’t miss one..

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...