Content Creator and Graphic Designer
While she always wanted to be a writer, Colleen O’Dea chased a career in Information Technology…working with IBM before starting her own consulting company and teaching as a part-time professor at Mount Saint Vincent University. Eventually, Colleen packed it all in to stay at home to raise her young family while happily volunteering in Ms. Millet’s primary class.
After a divorce and a whack of changes that left her head spinning, Colleen found her voice and began writing “for fun”…totally taken back that people were reading! In 2011, Colleen returned to school to study Graphic and WebDesign, graduated in 2013 and began her company, Drawbridge Creative…all the while, she wrote about her adventure.
Curtains are Open is about facing change…accepting it…and moving forward.
It’s about Colleen’s life…the way she sees it…surrounded by a remarkable family and a group of hilarious friends.
It’s about Living Creatively, and Living the Dream!
Colleen’s story in her own words:
"Mom first and foremost, I have three amazing children aged 27, 21 and 19 who are my absolute world. All three are now living on their own, with the youngest just recently spreading her wings and chasing her dreams. My children stay in touch with me on a regular basis through a text group called Ohana...named from the Lilo and Stitch quote: "Ohana" means "family." "Family" means "no one gets left behind."
And while the "mom" label is the most important label I have...I'm also an entrepreneur running my blog, Curtains are Open, my design company, Drawbridge Creative. Plus I partner in a company that supports local influencers and brings companies and social influencers together, ECM Media.
I LOVE my life. A decade ago when things were tough and folks would ask how I was doing, I'd sarcastically reply "Living the Dream" until one day...I realized that I really was living that dream I'd dreamt about for so long!
Currently, I'm redefining who I am as the kids have all flown the coop and I'm no longer chasing them around rinks and volleyball courts! Instead, I'm working a great deal, spending time with my amazing friends, or preparing a healthy meal (as I've recently jumped on taking care of myself!)
I'm still figuring out who I am at the moment!
What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?
I love supporting other content creators (bloggers/influencers) in Atlantic Canada. My blog helps to tell the story of my life...and it's amazing to me to look back at where I started and to see how far I've come. I was worried when telling my story publicly that clients would shy away from working with me...but at every step of the way, clients have embraced me and enjoy that I'm "real"...it feels so good to be working with people who care about who you are as an individual rather than just who you are as a professional.
As a content creator, I've partnered with some amazing brands through the years and love that I'm able to support myself and my children by sharing my creative life. I love my work...truly enjoy each and every day behind the computer screen and meeting new people. I'm luckier than most.
As a designer, I created a piece 5 years ago for my father's 70th birthday called "70 Things We Love About You" and a few years later, after many requests, opened an Etsy shop to create custom pieces for others. Recently I reached 2,500 sales on this one piece so really, this present I made for my Dad has essentially been the gift that keeps on giving. The best part of making these...is I get to read all of the things that are so endearing about people and I've learned that it doesn't matter where you live in the world...TIME is the biggest gift you can give. It's not about what you have around you, it's about the time you give of yourself to others...the kindness, the laughter, the love you share. That’s the thing that all of us want...to feel appreciated and loved...to feel like we matter to those around us.
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
My divorce threw me for a loop. I'd thought I was in a good place and had a fabulous life...but looking back...there were many cracks in the foundation I'd built. It took some time to break away from the disappointments, but the person I've become is so much stronger than the person I was. I'd lost myself for a few years...but now, I'm a better person, daughter and friend...but most importantly, a better Mom than I ever dreamed possible.
What’s your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
Favourite book...Still Alice. I found it incredibly difficult to read and wrote a blog post about how I was "hiding" from the last chapter. Lisa Genova actually commented on the post...which was rather thrilling. As for Podcasts...I've been listening to quite a few but I love Jann Arden and Arlene Dickenson's "The Business of Life"...I feel that if they ever needed a third person on the podcast, that I'd be the perfect fit!
What’s your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
I sold my family home this year...the house I raised my children in as a single mom...that I fought so hard to keep through my divorce. It was tough to let go and to leave the neighbourhood that has been such a huge part of my life...BUT, I've moved into a swanky new apartment and I'm loving it so far! I feel more free. Purging through all of my "things" and downsizing was good for my mental health. This new apartment brings with it a new chapter and new adventure. I feel like I'm ready to spread my wings and fly...just as my children have done. It's me-time...and I'm ready for anything!
Who’s inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
My parents have been a huge support in my life and I hope to be the same type of parent to my children. My 2 daughters, Emily and Megan. and my son, Noah, have been my biggest inspiration...I watch them reach for their dreams and push through adversity and I'm in awe of them. I am behind them every step of the way but they are with me as well...my biggest cheerleaders. As for my work life...I love my design clients and am always happy when I'm being creative. As for blogging...there are so many local bloggers who inspire me...we have an incredibly supportive community and I feel blessed to be one part of it.
What would you have done differently?
I can't have regrets as I've grown from everything that's happened to me in my life.
What are the principles you live by?
Family first, kindness and fake it til you make it!
Entrepreneur, Artist, Mom, Story Teller, Dreamer, Idea Generator, Empty Nester, Tea Lover