How I Quit My Life - An Open Letter - Carla Coulson
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How I Quit My Life – An Open Letter

Carla Coulson by Loc Boyle

Moi by Loc Boyle

Dear J,

Thank-you for your lovely letter and for sharing with me your hopes and dreams. I hope you don’t mind me answering this as an open letter but I figure it might be able to help others who are feeling stuck and lacking confidence.

How to make your dream come true and jump from one life to another?? Ahhh the million dollar question..

Here goes:

I quit my life almost 13 years ago.

Amidst sobbing gulps of dissastifaction I found the courage to say  ‘no’ to a life that was eroding my hope. Hope of a life full of emotions, excitement, adventure, meaning and love.

I walked away from the only life I knew, my beloved family and friends and years of unhappiness to go find the right life for me.

I have had the chance to live every emotion invented, I have curled up on the bathroom floor sobbing with fear, screamed at the top of my lungs with joy, flashed danced with happiness  and had the chance to stare life right in the face to find out what is important. And life continues to surprise me.

5Moulin Rouge Copyright Carla Coulson

I have been asked a million times how I made it happen. There have been many ingredients, time, energy, passion, persistence, learning, hard work, making mistakes but one of the most important ingredients was ‘believing’ I could do it.

If there is one thing I wish I could give to you (and all my fabulous followers) is the gift to believe in yourself and your dreams. My life change(s) happened because once I was out of mental jail (allowing myself to think I couldn’t go)  I knew just one thing, I wanted to do something that I loved. When I finally walked into a darkroom and had the biggest love rush of my life I believed I could become a photographer. I am just going to say that again ‘I believed I could do it’.

backstage 2

 Backstage Moulin Rouge Copyright Carla Coulson

I remember the first day I said I was a photographer. It kind of just slipped out. It felt strange rolling off my tongue for the first time, I was a long way off having my first story published and finishing photography school but that was what I was and wanted to be. Every time someone asked me what I did I said ‘I was a photographer’, the more I said it the more I believed in my future.

This was the first time in 13 years that I felt proud to tell others about my profession. When I had my own business I did anything to avoid talking about this topic and instead the very first time I said the magic word ‘photographer’ I had the opposite reaction, all of a sudden ‘I was cool’!

Lido de paris Carla Coulson

 Shay Stafford Lido de Paris Copyright Carla Coulson

I believed I could make it work because I trusted myself. I had a life philosophy of doing things the right way, for the right reasons and I in my old business I would never have let a client down. Now that I had a chance to do what I wanted to do with my life I was never going to let myself down. I trusted myself to do it.

I wanted this new life so badly I learnt a new craft, I made a plan, I made sacrifices, and I have worked everyday to make it happen. This has taken blood, sweat and tears (buckets of them) but it has happened. I put my trust in myself and you should put your trust in yourself.

Moulin Rouge Carla Coulson 2

 Moulin Rouge Copyright Carla Coulson

There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t pinched myself and thanked the universe for this new life.

If you feel you are living the wrong life take steps towards a new one. Surround yourself with your future dreams, make an inspiration board that you will look at everyday with the photos you love, the direction you want to go in, the place you dream of living, the people you want to eat with, dance and love and make your future happen.

moulin rouge, carla coulson, backstage moulin rouge, paris, showgirl, cabaret
Backstage Moulin Rouge Copyright Carla Coulson

I continue to believe that all is possible if you make a plan, believe it, implement it and work at it everyday, your dreams will come true.

Believe in you, trust yourself and the rest will happen.

“It’s difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you.” Russell Brand


  • Thank you for this post! I quit my job in December to start over and go back to school. You’re right – I just had to believe in myself!

    July 10, 2013 at 9:39 am
    • Brava to you Vanessa I am so happy for you x

      July 11, 2013 at 11:25 am
  • Oh how this tugged at my heart (and oh the tears)! Thank you, thank you for this letter. Feeling stuck with lack of confidence has become my regretful tag line since starting my new life away from almost everything (and everyone) I once knew. I’m often paralyzed with fear and searching aimlessly for direction, but in reading your letter I realize I’ve been looking in all the wrong places. The line that got me most was the one about never letting yourself down, and thus far I’ve failed to truly believe in myself first and foremost. Why it is so hard to do is beyond me, but for this beautiful prayer of a post, I thank you with all my heart.

    July 10, 2013 at 9:46 am
    • Haley I am so excited my post redirected your belief back to the only one who can make it happen YOU! I am so happy my words have helped xx

      July 11, 2013 at 11:29 am
  • I loved this. I’ve quit my life a couple of times and have always known – even though it often seemed otherwise – that I was going forward. I think it gets harder to reshuffle as you grow older, and certain things still scare me, but the most essential thing is honesty with oneself. Truth with the soul! Thanks for this xcat

    July 10, 2013 at 9:50 am
    • Absolutely Catherine if we cannot be 100% honest with ourselves we will never be able to move forward……trust the soul love it xxx Carla

      July 11, 2013 at 11:30 am
  • Rupert's Mum

    Very timely as I find myself at a career crossroad. Good food for thought.

    July 10, 2013 at 11:04 am
    • Good luck Rupert’s Mum I hope you make the right decisions for YOU x

      July 11, 2013 at 11:31 am
  • Lynn Taylor

    What a beautiful post, so inspiring! I’ve wanted to quit my life for a really long time, too long, your words may just be the catalyst. Thank you so so much for sharing xx

    July 10, 2013 at 11:46 am
    • Lynn start planning it is NEVER too late for happiness and fulfilment xxCarla

      July 11, 2013 at 11:32 am
      • Lynn Taylor

        Thank you Carla, what a beautiful Spirit you are!

        July 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm
  • I have been reading your blog for couple of months and I want to send you congrats for your fine work and especially for your honesty and encouragement in finding one’s own voice in life. I am now in the moment of a life change and sometimes I feel “is too late to start a new career”, but I keep telling myself is never too late, so thank you for this post and the best of luck to all of those in the same situation!

    July 10, 2013 at 11:49 am
    • Dear Lula,
      Firstly thank-you for your kind words on my work this really means so so much as every time someone compliments me it reminds me of why I love what I do even more 🙂 In life we have one short chance so my belief it is never too late to grow and learn and be happy, follow your heart you never know where it will take you xxx Carla

      July 11, 2013 at 11:36 am
  • Always an INSPIRATION Carla !!!!!

    July 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm
  • Today, I needed this. Thank you for being honest and candid. I always jokingly say “I quit my life”…but now I realize that perhaps there is a deeper consciousness in me that is not-jokingly telling the truth…perhaps we should all, to some extent, quit our lives. Circumstances can be changed…Continue making “it” happen! You are inspiring!

    July 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm
    • Kinga so pleased I could give you a dose of Inspiration for the day…..hope you are making IT happen much love Carla x

      July 11, 2013 at 11:45 am
  • Diane

    Thank you.

    July 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm
    • You are so welcome Diane and THANKYOU for your support x

      July 11, 2013 at 11:46 am
  • elizabeth

    Love you blog, photography and this post! Thank you so much for sharing. I found this VERY encouraging as I’m about to quit my job and move to Spain to teach and try to start a freelance writing career. Besitos!

    July 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm
    • OOOOhhhh Eliszabeth your life is about to change I am so thrilled for you…….all my best wishes xxx Carla

      July 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm
  • Thanks Carla,
    A great post. I quit my life 4 years ago and have never looked back. Yes,you really do have to have unstoppable self belief and I have been tested a few times. But I know I am on the right track and will always go forward.
    Each of your posts inspires me to look forward

    July 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm
    • Yaayy Gai keep moving forward it truly is a wonderful feeling x

      July 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm
  • Wow! beautiful words. Always inspiring

    July 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm
    • Thank-you Sarah so happy to inspire Carla xx

      July 11, 2013 at 12:46 pm
  • Thank you for your courage, spirit, in writing this piece + loved it!

    July 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm
    • Dear Peggy I do not feel so courageous but looking back there were some things I did and achieved that i think WOW I wonder if I would be able to have the courage to do that now!!! xx Carla
      Love your support 🙂

      July 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm
  • DEAR J,

    July 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm
    • Do what you love Contessa so happy for you xx

      July 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm
  • It was great to hear your candid comments on your life. I felt I was living someone else’s life for a long time not mine. I think the biggest reason for all of us to linger too long in our old lives is money. To quit one life and start a life you are passionate about takes financial resources. The only gals I know who did that had husbands to pay all their bills. You can be very committed and confident about what you want in a new life but without resources, it becomes another failure. I started slowly taking baby steps to make sure I could pay cash for everything in my new business while keeping my old one. Can you do a post on the financial aspects of changing lives? I know this would help many women.

    July 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm
    • Dear Colleen,
      Great to hear from you and your comments are so relavent. Financial planning is such an important part of making the transition and I hope to share my experiences with all my readers in the future…thank-you for your comments Carla xxx

      July 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm
  • What a great post Carla. I read the book you sent me about your “new life” in Italy in 3 days because I couldn’t put it down… Here is another great quote I came upon: “not all who wonder are lost”

    warm regards from New York
    Emily @ TownAndCountryShuffle

    July 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm
  • Joe Chapman


    That is a great letter, open or private or printed on a billboard in Las Vegas. It’s also personally amusing to me because in a sense I went in reverse.

    I began woking professionally as a shooter in 1960 at a tender age and I have never enjoyed anything so much since, not that there haven’t been good times. I put up the cameras in 1970, two years after Martin Luther King was killed. I was burned out. I stayed in the news trade and retired a while back.

    My wife of 38 years and I have chosen our joint paths so that we could work to live, not live to work as drudges and the result was that work and life intersected a lot. Your work is stimulating and gorgeous.

    Keep living well and photographing for the sake of your life.



    July 11, 2013 at 2:04 am
  • Denise

    My husband who is a rural GP wants to retire before 60 and work overseas, possibly Ireland. We keep procrastinating but I think after reading this post that we need to have a definite date to finish. The hardest thing is that as a solo GP, you feel that you are deserting your patient group who have supported you for 20+ years. Is it wrong to feel selfish and want to spend the next part of our life visiting our adult children who all live interstate(Australia). Boy how I miss them and we will be grandparents for the first time this Christmas. A fantastic Christmas present. I am going to make an inspiration board and maybe we can get back to Italy after many years. Thanks for your words.

    July 11, 2013 at 3:45 am
  • jeanette

    To my darling Carla,
    Yes you took a BIG STEP to do what you did and Dad and I are so happy for you , Francesco and Avadon.
    We would wake in the middle of the night praying that you would be safe and happy missing you terribly . I would like to say to all who change they direction in life believe in yourself and tell your parents that as parents of Carla we are so happy for her that she changed hers as in this “job” she makes so many people happy and you should see the photo of Hec and I . Carla made us so beautiful I think she bought the love out in the photo.
    Love always your Mother and Father xxxx0000 Hugs and kisses

    July 11, 2013 at 4:23 am
    • Carolyn Menadue

      Lovely, Jeanette! My daughter Felicity also followed her dream and has been living in Italy for some time. We know and love Carla, and I think my husband and I are in a similar situation to you and your husband – loving and missing our girls, but so happy that they are happy!! Carolyn x

      July 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm
  • Gosh I love reading your story – I feel your joy and happiness every time. Brava my friend for believing in your dreams. Take a bow and then a time step please!! Fxx

    July 11, 2013 at 6:01 am
  • shannon fricke

    This is a beautiful post Carla…

    July 11, 2013 at 6:39 am
  • As always your writing is so inspiring and your mom’s comment brought tears.
    Having a supportive family helps a lot.
    You’re very lucky on that account.
    The best thing I ever did in my life was to pick up and move to Paris.
    Years of slogging away in my molehole have evaporated and turned into so much joy.
    It’s hard to look back.
    THANKS for putting it so well and sharing your adventure Carla!

    July 11, 2013 at 7:52 am
  • This is a fantastic article! Thank you for it!

    July 17, 2013 at 6:46 pm
  • Excellent post, and so relevant to Martine and I. After thirty years in the IT industry I am chucking it in and doing what I have always wanted to do and that is to be a photographer. At the same time Martine is publishing her first book. Your post is just what I needed to today as I am having one of those periods of self doubt. I know it will pass, and all the quicker for having read this.

    Thanks again.

    July 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm
  • Dear Carla! Can’t express how much ‘just on time’ I read your words and how important they are for me! So inspiring! Just today I was thinking may be I should drop it all apart and continue with ‘old’ job, which makes me totally unhappy… You’ve just made me confident in my new steps. I believe in myself and will go ahead! Thank you, dear!

    July 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm
  • Carla

    Thank you for writing this. My name is Carla too, that’s how I found your site. This is an amazing post. I love this advice: “If you feel you are living the wrong life take steps towards a new one.”

    July 25, 2013 at 5:39 am
  • Molly

    Hi Carla !
    I’m reading over your website again as I wanted to get some tips on shooting my porcelain. Yep, I’m doing it !! Initially I was totally seduced by your life, and your wonderful photos, so got myself a DSLR, but I never really “clicked” with photography. So, I decided to behave as though I was at Art School for two years – I can’t actually go as I have a very young family, but I thought I would do a range of different workshops and courses and see what I liked….
    Ceramics were an old love of mine – I studied ceramics in High School. But i wasn’t expecting painting !! Cos I can’t paint !! Except I did a course with the fabulous Malini Parker, and it turns out I CAN paint- I’m actually quite good at it !!
    I took a gamble and have taken on a studio with my sister, and am now working towards a solo exhibition. I’ve been feeling a bit low, because I feel my work isn’t good enough (dammit! I’ve been doing this for a year now ! Why isn’t it perfect !? 🙂 but this story really resonated with me. One step at a time. One bowl, one platter, one painting at a time. Just trust that I AM an artist and keep working !

    You set my first shaky steps down this path….
    thankyou !

    Also, if I ever teach a summer course in Amalfi (and I intend to !) it will be because of you.


    January 6, 2014 at 1:11 am
  • Terri

    I have been reading your blog and following you for awhile now. You and your gorgeous photos are always inspiring. My dream is too live in Italy, at least part time. But I have young children, twin boys, aged 12 and a loving and supportive husband. So, I cannot just run off and live this life just yet. My husband’s work and our livelihood is here in the states. For now, I will have to dream of the future and try to get over to Italy as often as possible. Will continue to watch you though, and your wonderful life. Thank you so much for sharing it all with us.

    November 18, 2014 at 11:37 pm
  • changed my whole life….except my car…doing that in July

    March 15, 2016 at 7:21 pm