Practise more self compassion by Audrey Cantillon

Kinsale-based Audrey Cantillon plays numerous roles in life: artist, wife, mum and business owner. We asked Audrey if women can have it all and how does she keep going.

Can women have it all ?

It’s tricky to say outright that women can have it all. When I was about to have my second baby, my boss at the time gave me some really good advice. He suggested that if I could manage it, I should stay working, part time at least. He said if you take your foot off the pedal totally, it can be really hard to get back in the game. His opinion was one that I valued and I was fortunate to have a part time position so I took heed.

Audrey created a mural to help the town cope during lockdown.

I am a strong believer that most mums are great multitaskers, and they can achieve a lot in a little time. So working part time or flexi time shouldn’t terrify organisations. There is of course always the risk that you’ll be expected to do a full week’s work in 3 days so it’s important to get the balance right.

And I think balance is everything.

You need to have time for work and play.

You need to make time to nurture your relationships.

You need to carve out time for self care and exercise.

You need time for rest.

And these things change through different stages. As the babies get bigger and they needed me less, they can get their shoes, go to the toilet, feed themselves. And so while each phase may be intense, it is just another phase, that passes.

As they grow, so did I. And while I am still me. I’m a very different version of me than I was 15 years ago.





How do you keep going?

I am always better for a good brisk walk with my dog and my girlfriends. I also enjoy just walking by the sea with some music or just with my thoughts. Walking is an essential part of my self care.

My husband is my absolute rock and my greatest champion.

When I wobble, he keeps me steady. He anchors me and encourages me to keep going. I am very lucky in that he is very hands on. He has been working at home since the first lockdown and I love him being here. I bounce ideas off him and ask his opinion – it’s not always what I want to hear, but his honesty is brilliant if not brutal sometimes. We share the workload pretty evenly, one week he might do more, the next week I might. But in general, we have a pretty good balance.

I have an amazing mentor who has an insane ability to read me like a book. Her intuition is off the charts and I find time with her often helps me to whittle out the noise and energises me. She has really helped me on my journey and has encouraged me massively to follow my gut instinct, which in turn has helped my confidence.

Audrey with her children in front of the mural she designed.

I was having a major imposter syndrome moment at one stage and somebody said to me – give yourself the advice you would give your best friend. And listen to it.

That’s a very handy little tool to pull out every now and then. A lot of the time I find other people’s belief in me, makes me believe in me. We are sometimes our own worst critics. I’m learning to practise more self compassion.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have my own business, let alone be working as a visual artist. It is the greatest dream to have come true, that I never even dared to dream. Of course there is the actual art of drawing. I love it.

And I’m always trying to be better. Practise does make perfect. I’m blissfully happy practising my art.

It makes me happier than any other job I’ve had. It forces me out of my comfort zone a lot. It lets me listen to my creative voice. And I get to do it out of my house, meaning no commute and extra time with my kids.

It’s all of this that keeps me going. I don’t want to give any of that up and so I am happy to work really, really hard.





Audrey with children doing their best at the Kinsale Farmer’s Market.

All photographs in this article are submitted by the author, Audrey Cantillon.