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Career

The mantras that Trelise Cooper lives her life by

Fashion designer Dame Trelise Cooper talks timing, sacrifice, perseverance, leading by example and self-belief.

"From the early 1980s, I've lived by the philosophy that 'everything happens for my highest good'. Tragedies, disasters, grief, sorrow, heartbreak, dreams that don't come to fruition… it's taking you on a path. Hold onto that in the moment of your deepest despair.
If it's something that's broken your heart, consider how that break is allowing the light in. Breaking open can mean breaking through. When bad things happen, they send you on a new journey – somewhere you'd never have gone otherwise. It doesn't take away the sadness – the feelings of loss, the grieving, that still happens. The human emotion still happens.
But out of your sadness, you'll become stronger. It's all about attitude.
Perhaps you lost your job. Nothing will change that fact, but three months, six months, a few years later, you'll realise, 'Wow, if I hadn't lost my job, I wouldn't be on the path I am now.'
In our darkest hours it's difficult to have that perspective, but the more I've been able to look back and see the good that has come out of bad situations, the less stress I've had about things not going the way I want them to.
Of course, I make sure I've done everything within my power to bring about the expected outcome. But if I've done that and the outcome is unexpected, I accept that my highest good is unfolding right in that moment, and I surrender to that. I learned this lesson in my early twenties.
I've always been a seeker of truth on a spiritual level. I've been on a journey of seeking all my life. My teenage years were less than easy, and in seeking answers for all the things that had occurred, I came across some teachings. This was one of them, and I started to adopt it. It took my head a long time to get around the idea that a horrible thing could be a good thing. But I trusted the philosophy, and going to a lot of self-awareness, self-help courses, I could see the philosophy in action.
Many years ago my husband and I had this dream of building our ultimate home – everything I'd ever wanted. But by the time it was finished, it had overrun the budget and my husband pointed out that we'd spend the next 10 years paying off a mortgage. 'We won't have a life or a lifestyle, we won't be able to travel, and I don't want to live like that,' he said, and told me he wanted to sell it. We'd only been in there three weeks after working on it for three years!
Long story short, we were introduced to a couple who were in a position to take on our big mortgage and we essentially swapped homes, getting theirs mortgage free. We lived there for probably 15 years. But I remember the day I had to leave, the new owner was baking pies in my gorgeous kitchen, and her husband had sent her two dozen red roses. I had that image in my mind as I walked into my second-hand house and I couldn't see the good in it at all.
A couple of years later I wanted to go back into business, and having a mortgage-free house that I could take out a loan against enabled me to do just that. This business of Trelise Cooper has given me so much freedom and choice, a life less ordinary and a dream bigger than I could ever imagine.
I wouldn't have it today had everything not happened the way it did. I had to hold fast to the idea that my highest good was unfolding, and it was."

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