I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.
I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.
I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Robbie Cheadle
Robbie aged 20 with her sister.
When I received Sally’s email asking me if I’d like to participate in this blog series, I was slightly flummoxed. Of course, I wanted to participate, but what to write for such an article. I have been swirling this topic about in my head for days and, finally, I have decided too just be blatantly honest.
My life journey has never had a plan, and it still doesn’t really have a plan!
So there, I’ve said it. I am not a planner. I am hard working, dedicated, and full of passion for many things in life: my husband, children, parents, work, writing, artwork, social causes, baking, and cooking. In the past, I’ve had other obsessions passions including exercising (I taught 10 spinning classes a week and cycled 100 kilometres over weekends when I first got married), the passions have changed over the years, but they have always been there. They are a constant in my life.
When a new passion arises, I throw myself at it with all the enthusiasm and dedication of my complicated soul and, with a lot of good luck, it has always panned out into something worthwhile for me.
“But you’re a chartered accountant,” I hear you say, “You have two degrees in finance, and you also did three years of articles. Surely there must have been a plan with your studying.”
Well, that all happened quite by chance. When I finished school, I went to secretarial college with several of my friends from school. It was the usual thing for girls to do at the time. Girls going to university was becoming more common, but it was not as yet the societal norm.
After a year at college, I got a job working as a creditors clerk for a travel agency. It was the first of seven jobs I had over the next two years. They all ended in my being retrenched due to ups and downs in the travel industry, or my resignation due to acute boredom. I never had any trouble getting a job, but I had a lot of difficulties staying in one.
I decided to accept a part-time job managing a video shop in the evenings and over weekends and apply to do a degree through a local correspondence university. My mother accompanied me to the interview with the career guidance councillor. I wanted to study law. The councillor said I should take an aptitude test which came back saying I should study accountancy. I did a Bachelor of Commerce (Accountancy) and then an Honours Degree. My favourite subjects were commercial law, economics, and financial accounting.
My least favourite was auditing.
Landing articles at one of the Big Five (it’s now Four) auditing firms was also a result of sheer good luck. I knew I had to do articles to qualify as a CA(SA) but I didn’t know how to go about applying for articles. I spoke to a friend of mine and she put me in touch with a small auditing firm which offered me a position. The man who interviewed me expressed surprise that I was considering a small firm given my full house of first-class passes for my courses. A week later, I happened to be chatting to a friend of my cousin’s. I’d never met the chap before, but he was in corporate finance at one of the big five auditing firms. He offered to get me an interview at his firm, and I was accepted to do my articles at the Johannesburg branch.
I only did two years in audit before I moved to corporate finance at the firm. Articles is a three-year contract, but if you had completed your required hours in all areas of competency, you could move into a specialist area. How did I end up in corporate finance?
One of the teams was looking for a junior to help them on a transaction. I wasn’t busy and I volunteered. The team leader was so pleased with my work he recommended me to the head of corporate finance and my path changed direction.
It changed direction again two years later when I volunteered to work on a transaction for a company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. I never looked back as I have a great aptitude for regulatory work and deal structuring. Over the past twenty years I have become an expert in listing requirements both locally and in select African and other countries. I enjoy what I do most of the time, but I wish the hours weren’t so demanding.
It was through my employment in corporate finance, and my interest in rules and regulations that I started writing a series of publications about investing in Africa. I learned a lot about writing, editing, and publishing when I produced those weighty academic documents, largely on my own. In 2015, I was inspired to start writing poetry again after many years, as well as to write the Sir Chocolate series of children’s books together with my son, Michael.
The first Sir Chocolate book was published in August 2016 and over the course of the intervening 5 and a half years, I have created and maintained two WordPress blogs, a YouTube Channel, two Twitter accounts, and an Instagram account. I have published 10 children’s books, 2 poetry books, and 2 adult novels as well as contributed short stories to 9 paranormal anthologies and poems to 2 poetry anthologies.
In summary, reading over my thoughts and what I have shared here, my advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career of any sort, whether it be writing, photograph, or something else, is to grab opportunities when they are presented to you. You don’t need to know much at the beginning, you can learn as you go along. Work hard, learn everything you can about your area of interest, meet people and listen to their advice or learn from their example. Most importantly, believe in yourself and, with just a little bit of fairy dust, you will make it happen for yourself.
©Robbie Cheadle 2022
My thanks to Robbie for emphasising the importance of opportunities in our lives that come along seemingly at random, but can have a powerful impact on the direction our lives take. I know she would love to hear from you.
About Robberta Eaton Cheadle (Robbie)
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.
The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.
Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.
Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.
A small selection of other books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle and as Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
One of the reviews for Behind Closed Doors
Behind Closed Doors by Robbie Cheadle is a collection of various style poems such as freeform, tanka, haiku, and limerick. Robbie touches on many aspects of life evoking a myriad of emotions. She writes beautifully with strong convictions about marriage, motherhood, dreams, her struggles of working in the corporate world, living in lockdown during the pandemic, and about social issues she finds distressing. Whether her words speak of joy or anguish, they are fiercely passionate.
I personally connected to “Contrasting Colors” because of my strong marriage and relationship with my husband. Robbie creates a lovely metaphorical comparison between her and her husband, showing just how much they complement each other. I really liked the format of this poem. In “He Walks Away” her words paint the picture of her son who is no longer the little boy whose mom’s kisses cured all pain, but a young man who she will need to let go for him to find his way in the world. As an empty nester, my heart felt her bittersweet emotions.
Environmentally, I was drawn to “I saw a fish a-swimming” and “If the polar icecaps doth melt.” Robbie emphasizes the tragic effects of global warming not only on the planet, but on living creatures. She writes with concern and compassion, and some poems are written as twisted limericks bearing nothing but the truth. My stomach felt just as twisted after reading these powerful reminders. But even in trying times, Robbie includes, “Can you see the butterflies?” This poem offers delightful imagery, imploring the reader to dash outside in that very moment to embrace nature’s beauty.
I highly recommend Behind Closed Doors for poetry fans who revel in finding themselves relating to the messages or scenarios, therefore sinking into the deeper meanings.