By Mark Luckey @roomsxml03 Feb 2016Travel agents do amazing things things every day and demonstrate their commitment to bigger causes on a regular basis, but is this lady one of the bravest consultants in Australia? I’ve been lucky to meet agents who are not only brilliant at what they do, but who give something back every time they do it. On this occasion, this lady accepted an invite to lunch with a group of her associates. Bit of fun, nice food, banter and a hope some business would result at the end of it. But the email exchange revealed that Penny is a travel agent that should be celebrated for her achievements outside of travel. Here’s my interview. For the record, Penny didn’t want her details mentioned for reasons you’ll understand as you read her story. As well as being a successful travel agent, you have a few other things on the go. Life guides you to where you are meant to be, whether we understand this or not. A deep passion inside has lead me to speak to people and initiate my own “self freedom” against family and domestic violence (DV). My speaking role aims to support people to rise up from challenges be it from DV or elsewhere in their lives. I have spoken publically and am studying to become a life coach and mentor, combining travel with events and functions. To separate my travel work, my public speaking name is Penelope Jay. Your “origins” in putting yourself out there come from a pretty dark place. Are you comfortable sharing with us your experience? A question I would not previously have been brave enough to answer or even known how to answer. Domestic violence is more than black eyes and broken bones there are many types including emotional, verbal, financial, social, intimidation, being coerced etc. Living with DV has many facets and often we think it’s just a bad relationship, but once we realise and break free it may all come to light that it was present. Once you are forced to write and talk about your life in a public platform such as a court with a judge, it honestly changes you forever. Whilst a lot of awareness has been in the media there is still a long way to go. Making the decision to free oneself isn’t easy as the complexities are overwhelming, but with personal experience behind me, it could the best decision someone can make once the courage to do so has been sought. How hard is it to undertake the journey from “victim” to “empowering agent” who helps others? First step was to recognise the “victim mentality” and change it from a “lifestyle” to a word more like survivor or even better, a thriver. For my own journey I have found a new life to include professional support, further education, inner strength, like minded new friends, volunteering for charity organizations such as children’s camps and raising money, plenty of time and the overwhelming need to provide my darling children with an inspiring and safe life. Overcome, Realise and Heal. How do people react to you when you tell them you are active in providing support for domestic violence? Initially I was too scared to speak out so I kept my most inner anguish and pain very private. However with amazing support and new belief in myself I have now found my true voice. I really feel a desire and responsibility to educate and support on a topic which once was pretty much taboo. I surround myself with kind people who don’t pressure me. Those who don’t yet understand perhaps never will, however time is not only a great healer, but a great educator as well. It is a topic that does make many uneasy and we all have our own comfort levels. The need to “survive” is very natural as many of us “fake our happy” whilst living in silence being miserable, submissive and accepting that this is all life will amount to. Once I spoke out so called friends dropped off, life changed and it was extremely challenging. BUT… once a path of “self freedom” was set there was no looking back and where I am now is totally where I should be. I feel quite blessed. You are building up strong networks – what is the “Mastermind” group all about? I belong to some amazing network groups within the travel industry and have branched out within the personal development arena through the courses I attend which guided me to building Mastermind network groups. “Masterminds” are a group of passionate people who desire to create and sustain relationships with like minded people and in-turn helping one another by leveraging in business. Natural progression of regular business interaction automatically combines people personally… Masterminds are a total “experience” that is about people coming together and providing them what they want allowing for a successful group of inspiring people. You have a speaking tour planned – what are you hoping to convey? The message of hope, happiness and love. The message of support that we can all take that first step to stand up and speak out. With loving people around us we can all combat life’s challenges with a promise to ourselves of “self freedom”. What would you say to anyone who is considering directions that run in parallel to what they are doing in travel? Go for it. Educate, network, be passionate and love. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. We all have the ability to create the most amazing existence. Dream the dream and then live it, then dream and live some more. What do you think about Penny’s story? Share your thoughts below. Other stories you may like New TV show ‘Clients at first sight’ aims to help agents find love John O’Sullivan, Tourism Australia: Travel to change the world Qantas thanks you!