Is Social Media a Thief of Joy? – or is it Comparison?

When I compare myself to others, I always seem to come up lacking.  I suspect that this is the same for many of us.  Is comparison the thief of joy? And what role does social media play?

Before the advent of social media (and I am old enough to remember it) we went about our world fairly oblivious of what other people were doing.  What they looked like.  What event they had attended.  How cute their kids were.  Somehow or other we managed, and I suspect that we were happier.

I actually love social media

This blog post isn’t all about slagging social media off.  Not at all.  I really value social media and can list numerous ways it has made my life better.

  • I have met such amazing people through social media who have become firm friends. When I was moving town, a wonderful woman I had met on a group promised to bring wine and cake on the day I moved.  And she did.  I really value her friendship (you know who you are – thank you)
  • I have been able to share my blog with people all over the world. I have also used social media to meet so many other bloggers who have inspired me.
  • I have reconnected with so many people from my past. Long lost cousins, school friends and numerous other wonderful people who I might have lost touch with.  Especially as I moved from South Africa to Ireland.
  • I have been gifted this window to the world. There are times when I have been lonely and knowing that I could pop into Facebook and connect with friends has been a true gift.
  • I have gained knowledge. I have joined groups that deal with issues that I face such as arthritis and pernicious anaemia (which I knew nothing about).  In these groups I have met fellow sufferers and we have lifted each other up.  We have answered questions and explained the unexplainable.
  • I have connected with hundreds of people through my own and have had the privilege of taking these online relationships offline through meet-ups and events.
  • I have made a little money. I have sold art, found people to work with and met up with brands who wanted to work with me.

There is a big but though ….

There are two real negatives for me relating to social media.

The first is time.  When I am online – either at my laptop or gazing at my phone scrolling or chatting, I am effectively disengaged from the world around me.

I know I spend too much time online.  I know this because I scroll, and scroll and realise that I am seeing nothing new.  I know this because I have to go back and ask what is happening because I missed a vital part of the conversation.  I have literally been missing in action.

When I do ‘forget’ my phone I am far more productive.  I get things done.  I listen to music, clean the house and find my creative juices flowing.  I love the practice of daily painting and I can’t paint and scroll at the same time.

I am really trying to limit my time online.  Those that know me are chuckling and rolling their eyes and saying ‘yeah’.  I promise though – I am trying.

The main reason why is that I am finding that comparison is indeed a thief of joy for me.

Comparison is my thief of Joy

My situation is unique to me.  And let’s face it each of us has a unique situation.  I am 54 now, and I suffer from severe arthritis which limits my mobility and in fact everything I do.  Most days pain is my companion and I am always tired.

I struggle with my weight as well so I am no svelte size 10.  I have wrinkles, and rolls and that is just the start of it.  Working full-time is no longer an option – as I simply can’t.  I also struggle with overwhelm and anxiety. There are weeks when I don’t post on my blog because I haven’t been able to write, or photograph anything.

On the positive side I have wonderful friends who support me. I have a good life. Fashion and beauty inspire me.  Travel delights me and I am determined to do more (albeit on a strictly limited budget).  There is nothing I like more than sitting down with a friend drinking creamy cappuccino.  I find my true bliss with a paintbrush in my hand.

I am not writing this for sympathy, but merely to give you a true picture of where I am in my life.

Even though I am intelligent I am still drawn in to this dreadful comparison trap.  I watch through the lens of social media as others attend events, go out for gorgeous dinners I cannot afford and seem to have endless cocktails with friends.  I feel real envy when I see people progressing in their careers when mine is in a sort of standstill state.  A cruise – oh I wish I could afford a cruise.  Skinny Jeans and high heels – no chance Kerry!

I know that there are many people who are too sick to go out.  People suffering from depression who cannot comprehend the goings on of others.  Your child might be kicking and screaming and very dirty and you cannot help but compare with the angels you see on Facebook.

Real Lives versus Facebook Lives

A very wise friend and mentor once reminded me.  Beware of the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives.  We all put our best foot (or face) forward on Social Media.  If I take a selfie and I look too tired and sick I don’t post it.  Perhaps I should.

I think that there are a couple of things I need to do for myself to put social media in the right place in my life.

  1. Monitor my time spent online
  2. Remember the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives
  3. Don’t compare. Comparison is the true thief of joy.
  4. Be grateful for what I have!

Truth or Lies?

We don’t know what really lies behind those beautiful images and even if we did, do they really change anything?

If there was no social media, then I wouldn’t know about these things.  I would simply be going about my day living my life.  And perhaps being more joyful.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

How to pack fabulous into a 10kg carry-on bag!

Packing for a week in a carry-on bag is the biggest holiday challenge for me.  I want to be comfortable, feel fashionable and pretty and still not incur excess baggage costs.

It starts with shoes …

Shoes are the most important item in my holiday wardrobe.  Firstly I must be comfortable, and walking is always a huge part of the holiday.  In addition shoes are the heaviest item in your luggage and when you have 10kg for a week’s worth of style some forward planning is needed.

I was recently introduced to Hotter shoes.  These fabulous shoes have transformed my wardrobe and my foot comfort.  So stylish and super comfortable.  My pale blue Flare sandals are a dream to wear.  They are seriously stylish but are so well designed that they even have fastenings that adjust – absolutely perfect for me as my feet swell in the hot weather.

Blue is a favourite colour for me – and like denim they go with everything!.

Red shoes, in my opinion are magical.  Gorgeous soft buttery leather and a padded,shaped innersole make these Nirvana mary-janes so comfortable, while still being fashionable.  The design of this shoe is perfect with dresses, leggings or jeans.  Such a versatile choice that I know will take me through the seasons.  A great choice for travelling!

How to pack for Summer sun

Summer means colour to me.  Banish those blacks and greys and get happy.  I love summer bright dresses that you can simply slip on and be ready to go the beach or eat dinner al fresco.

I start packing by laying out the clothes I think I want to take on the bed.  Then, I count the days and consider contingencies.  Most often do a bit of editing because we often take too much.  The next items to go in are shoes.  I normally travel with three pairs.  For a summer holiday, a pair of flip flops, a pair of sandals and a pair of shoes suitable for walking and travelling.  As I wear a lot of dresses, these all need to be pretty!  My Hotter sandals and shoes in blue and red were the first items in the suitcase. A quick glance at my holiday wardrobe assured me that they were the perfect choice.

My packing checklist

I work on a little checklist for all my trips – just to make sure I have all I need and nothing extra.

This would be for a seven-day trip.

  1. Footwear – sandals, flip-flops, shoes
  2. Dresses x3 – normally a couple of maxi dresses and a shorter one. (I do wash and wear)
  3. Leggings x 1
  4. Tops (for leggings) x 2
  5. Wrap/cover-up
  6. Swimsuit
  7. Cardigan
  8. Underwear
  9. Modesty tops (Little vests to go under my dresses and protect my modesty somewhat)
  10. Capsule make-up and cosmetic collection (it all fits into a little zip lock bag)
  11. Hair – yes I take my heated rollers with me everywhere, hairbrush, hair ties and pins.
  12. Medication – I do have to take a good bit with me – so that is a second zip lock bag.
  13. Extras – travel adaptor, phone charger, my journal
  14. Accessories – a fold up beach bag, sunglasses, and a few key pieces of costume jewellery.
  15. Handbag – I checklist all the items in here too – no harm in being prepared.

Tick everything off the list and then roll pack.  This way I fit everything I need in.

Yes, it can be done!  Carry-on luggage only.

I wouldn’t have believed it could be done.  It is possible to save on checked luggage and fit whatever you need into a little suitcase.  I do think it is all about choices, and for me it definitely starts with choosing the perfect shoes.

This is a sponsored post by the fabulous Hotter Shoes.  I was gifted the shoes which have honestly become my favourites.  I wrote about choosing the shoes and the wonderful service offered by Hotter in this blog post.

Thank you for reading, and I hope I have inspired you to book that summer break – and save the cost of check-in baggage for a nice dinner out on holiday and maybe a glass of wine.

Kerry x

Tenerife – it creeps into your heart until you don’t want to leave

Everyone has different expectations of a holiday and of course different budgets too.

We were so excited to be visiting Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife.  Endless hours had been spent on YouTube looking at travel videos.  I was very curious to experience ‘black’ sand!

The holiday didn’t get off to the finest start.  Despite being excited, the trip was long.  A four and a half hour flight, plus a couple of hours drive and of course airport waiting time all added up.  It meant that we arrived late in the evening a little tired and grumpy if I am completely honest.

Travelling with a budget airline on a short trip is fine, but absolutely no frills on a longer flight is a little more challenging.   The holiday had started and were eager to get going as we had a 90 minute transfer from the airport to our destination at the north of the island.

Something went wrong and we found ourselves waiting for more than an hour.  Eventually a small group was loaded into a mini bus that was not road worthy and we set off.  This was not the way I was expecting to start my holiday.

We travel budget style

We are on a budget and more than happy to compromise on luxuries for the chance of some sun on our bones.  Resorts wouldn’t necessarily be our choice either as we enjoy walking and soaking up the local culture.

Our hotel, Travador, was in the older part of Puerto de la Cruz, and despite the website reporting a big upgrade it was a little tired.  We eventually realised that it was the public rooms that had been upgraded and that the rooms were in progress.  Never mind, it was clean (a biggy for me) and the location was absolutely perfect.

Walking our way around Puerto de la Cruz

Both my partner and I suffer from arthritis, and one of the reasons we travel is to take advantage of the dry heat which makes such a huge difference on our pain and inflammation.  There are days at home where I struggle to walk.  In Tenerife I was walking 10 0000 steps a day (with my trusty stick Stan), but walking nevertheless.

On our first morning we started exploring the town, which in a weird way reminded me of South Africa.  The beautiful gardens which were part of the city scape incorporated Bougainvillea one of my favourite childhood flowers as well as many other trees and flowers.  I took hundreds of photos that first morning.  The heat on my back and the paw paw (papaya) and guavas outside the shops were enticing.

Location is really key – especially if you want to be able to walk everywhere.  After treating ourselves to coffee in an outdoor café we found our way to the beach only a 10 minute walk from our hotel and it was at this point that I started to fall in love.

It is odd looking at black sand, because it’s different to what your head says it should be.  The combination from an artist’s eye however is breath-taking.  The sea reflects an exquisite turquoise shade as it brushes across the sand.  I took loads of photos and can’t wait to get into the studio to try to recapture this amazing colour combination.

A beer and a beer shandy were just what we needed after our long walk and we simply sat back and enjoyed the magnificent view.  These positions at the beachside café became a daily indulgence.  Sometimes we indulged further tasting the local cuisine or a naughty ice cream.

There is something about the sea that calms and relaxes me completely.  I can look at it, walk along the shore line dipping my toes into the waves or simply close my eyes and take in the smell of the salty waves and sun on the sand.  I did a fair bit of the above in Puerto de la Cruz.

Musings from my journal

I journal every day.  It is part of my routine and certainly something that helps me in so many ways.  When we are on holiday, journaling time has to be planned for.  Most days this took place in a little café a stone’s throw from our hotel where I could order a pot of tea and a pastry for the princely sum of 2 Euro.

During the holiday I came up with these seven realisations/lessons that I learnt from my week in Puerto de la Cruz.

  1. It really doesn’t matter what you look like.  On the beach I saw woman (and men) of every shape, size and age all wearing bikinis and other skimpy swimwear.  They were happy and sunning themselves and not beating themselves up about what they looked like.  I made a pact to give up tangling with my sarong and simply relax and enjoy.
  2. I love the coffee culture. People watching is such fun and there is nothing nicer than whiling away an hour over a delicious café con leche and perhaps a sneaky pastry.  Costing less than 2 euro – including the nibble, I can afford to indulge.
  3. My IBS is better on holiday. I realise this is a bit TMI (too much information) but it is really relevant to me.  IBS is part of my life and a side effect of fibromyalgia and other conditions not to mention the many pills that I have to pop.  I think it could be all the walking (see point 4) or simply being truly relaxed and keeping hydrated.  It could be lack of stress.  I just know that somehow I would like to hang onto this advantage when I get home.
  4. Walking! Instead of dancing all night I could walk all day.  I walk fairly slowly and use my trusty stick much of the time, but I really enjoy it.  We walked on the beach, along the paved walkways which stretch across Puerto de la Cruz and wound our way through quirky back streets.  Yes, my feet got sore, and I got tired, but it felt so good to be moving with the sun on my back and a few breaks along the way to enjoy the atmosphere.
  5. My joints – the bane of my life with arthritis are much, much better in a dry heat. It is amazing to rely less and less on pain relief over the week, and of course to be able to move more.  The sad side of this is that within 48 hours of being back in Ireland, these positive effects are gone.  (Never mind I can book another budget holiday).
  6. You can travel on very little money. Both my partner and I are on a very limited budget.  Holidays are only possible if we budget carefully before hand and afterwards.  We invest a lot of time into digging out the best deals possible.  We are fairly flexible with dates which means that we can avail of the best offers possible.  This holiday was booked through Love Holidays and was paid off on an instalment plan.  We don’t mind the lack of luxuries, but do love the warm air and the sense of excitement that travel brings.
  1. Be adventurous! In everything.  We had a giggle every morning when we came down for breakfast because it wasn’t what we are used to.  Peas, carrots, and one morning pizza.  There were some really yummy cakes and pastries too.  Everyone is different and every culture that you visit has different cuisine.  Try things – you might not like them, but then again you might be back for more.

Highlights and low notes

As with any journey there are particular highlights.  One of mine was the night we treated ourselves to dinner at a little restaurant and were in turn treated to a feast of flamenco dancing.  I am very much an off the beaten track person, and would prefer to try smaller eateries.  One of the best meals of the trip was a shared plate of the local Canarian potatoes (wrinkly potatoes) – basically salted boiled new potatoes with two mojo sauces eaten at the beachside café.

On a low note, it took us 27 hours to get home.  A technical fault on a Ryanair flight had us diverted to a different airport and drinking tea at 4am in an airport hours from our car.  It wasn’t easy and it definitely meant that we arrived home tired, rather than relaxed.

Thank you for reading about my travels.

Kerry xx

Feeling fresh with Pit Putty natural deodorant

I love smelling fresh, and I don’t like sweating, but then again I don’t like deodorant or antiperspirant.  The stingy spray is painful and the fumes choking.  This is not something I often reveal.

One day I was trawling through Facebook and came across a fellow blogger’s review of Pit Putty.

Avril, blogger at  A Paler Shade of Beauty speaks honestly and I immediately knew I must try this natural deodorant.

As I was about to head to the sunny island of Tenerife for a holiday, this was the perfect opportunity to try a new product.  The makers – almost local to me in the West of Ireland, kindly sent me a sample to try out.

It’s funny that in this world of budget travel, and no checked luggage, my first thought was wow!  I can take this in my little zip lock back and it won’t be a problem.

Hand made by Laura and Luke in County Sligo in Ireland, these deodorants are unisex (depending on the fragrance of course) and really effective. Using only 100% natural and vegan ingredients, this innovative product is completely free from harmful chemicals, aluminium oxides and preservatives.  You simply pull a little of the paste together, warm it in your hands and apply it to your pits.

Sharing is Caring

I didn’t quite realise I was sharing mine until a couple of days into the holiday I noticed a fresh aroma of limes after going in for a cuddle.  At this point we had walked 10 000 steps and sunned ourselves on a hot beach for a few hours.  I politely enquired if he was using my deodorant and he said that he had tried it one morning and it worked.

Fragrances include the Lime and tea tree  which is definitely unisex as well as Lime, basil and mandarin, Three flowers and Lavender and lemon.  I think I might have a girly one next!

I only review products on my blog that I really like!  My reviews are honest and I have no hesitation in recommending that you try these innovative but extremely effective little pots of Pit Putty this summer.

Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know if you try it!

Kerry xx

 

Finding Shoes for Difficult Feet

I have always wished I had different feet.  Prettier smaller, slimmer feet.  The kind of feet that Manolo Blahnik would like to grace.

Extreme Foot Make-over Fantasy

In the nineties there was a TV programme being aired called Extreme Makeover.  The participant was transformed via surgery, cosmetic dentistry, and the usual fashion, hair and make-up.  What differed on this programme was that nothing was off the menu.  I watched people undergo serious surgical procedures and what must have been extreme painful.

Every time I watched the programme I wondered if they could do a foot extreme make-over.  I could undergo surgery and come out with transformed feet.

Back to the real world where finding shoes for difficult feet isn’t easy

We are who we are and we should embrace our own unique beauty.  When it comes to shoe shopping though it isn’t easy if you don’t fit the ‘average’ shoe.

Since being diagnosed with arthritis, the situation has got even worse.  My feet are sore, the joints feel swollen and fragile at the same time.

Finding shoes that are perfect isn’t easy.  For me they need to meet the following criteria:

  • Comfort
  • Fit
  • Attractiveness
  • Affordability
  • Availability

Anyone with awkward feet (and I now know there are a lot of us) will know that finding all these in one pair of shoes is very hard to find.

Most comfortable shoes are not pretty.  Finding shoes that are comfortable and that fit well is another thing.  I am a size 8, and in many brands this is the largest size available so there is no opportunity of taking a larger size to get a bigger width.  If I do go for a bigger size I find myself flopping out of the one shoe, or gripping like crazy with my toes to keep my shoes from falling off.

Pretty shoes for a fashionista

I am a real fashionista!  I love my fashion and style and adore dressing up to go out.  And then it comes to my feet.  What will I wear?  Where am I going?  How far will I have to walk?  Sometimes I simply decide that I hope nobody looks below my knees.

I don’t mind spending money on a good pair of shoes that I am going to wear. However I think we have all fallen into the trap of buying shoes on the hope that they will ‘ease up’ or for an occasion. Frankly any money spent on shoes (or anything else) that you don’t use is money wasted.

So imagine if we could find a perfect pair of shoes that fit, were comfortable, fashionable and attractive and affordable.  Well that sounds like a pipe dream because I don’t know of many high street stores that stock these dream slippers.

I was introduced to Hotter shoes via my blog.  I immediately went to the website www.hotter.com and started exploring.  It was all looking good.  This website was telling me that the perfect shoe was available.

Their slogan of comfort for the soul/sole really appealed but to be honest I was wary about buying shoes online without being able to try them on.  I imagined a series of parcels travelling back and forth trying to find the right shoe.  And then probably settling for something that wasn’t quite right.  Yet another pair of shoes gathering dust and decorating my hallway.

Introducing the personal shopper

After chatting with the Hotter team on email I was told that a personal shopper would be giving me a call.  James called and immediately put me at ease.  We had a little chat and then started talking about fit and style.  He was so knowledgeable and understood both my medical history and my difficult feet.  He advised me on width fit and on style. There are things you need to look out for with both arthritis and diabetes and he was totally up to speed and able to advise which shoes were the best choice.

After placing my order, I had this sense of confidence that the shoes would arrive and that they would not only fit but become favourites.

Shoes that make me want to dance

My summer shoe wardrobe consists of three pairs of shoes from Hotter.  A fabulous pair of pale blue sandals.  Soft buttery leather and so very pretty.  The cutest red Mary Janes which are idea for an Irish summer where it isn’t that warm.  Fabulous with both dresses and trousers I know that red shoes are going to give me my own sense of magic.  Finally I have a cute pair of floral pumps. (A fashion post will follow with lots of shoe pics)

They all fit!! And are all comfortable!  I could turn into a shoeholic after all.

Thanks Hotter!

(Although I am working with Hotter on an #ad blog post, this post is purely from me.  It is about my struggles and my excitement at finding pretty shoes for difficult feet).

Thanks for reading and if you fancy trying a pair yourself, know that you too can talk to a personal shopper.

 

Kerry xx

The Joy of a Solo Cinema Outing

I love the cinema.  The allure of the darkness, of being totally drawn into a story with no multi-tasking allowed.

I am not sure quite why, but I always believed you needed a companion for the cinema.  Someone to share popcorn with and chat.  That is fun, but I have found it isn’t a necessity.  There is something quite indulgent about taking yourself to the cinema.  Choosing the movie that you want to see, selecting your snack and drink and allowing yourself the luxury of a couple of hours in darkness where you are totally engrossed.

Being Brave

The first time I flew solo to the cinema, I was fresh out of a relationship and feeling a bit lonely.  There was a movie that I really wanted to see.  Maudie is a wonderful movie about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis who suffered debilitating arthritis.  I was intrigued, and I really wanted to experience her story.  I put my feelers out asking friends and relations if they fancied a visit to the cinema.  No takers.  I had a good chat with myself and decided to simply go by myself.  It was liberating!  (On a side note, if you can find this movie on Netflix or another streaming platform watch it!)

This solo movie thing has become a bit of a quiet addiction.  I drive past the Eye Cinema in Galway (my favourite haunt) I am tempted to pull in just to see what is on.  Finding your Feet – a wonderful romantic comedy featuring Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton and Joanna Lumley gave me so much delight.  It lifted my spirits and when it was over – I took myself off to the 5-star g Hotel for a solo cappuccino.  I was getting the hang of this.

Go solo to the cinema this month

I have lots of friends and a wonderful partner, but I am now a firm believer in flying solo at the cinema.  I like the 3pm time slot which seems to feature my kind of movie.  My latest outing was to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  I had read the book some time ago and was intrigued to see how it translated onto the big screen.  What a delight.  A really beautiful representation of a wonderful story line and truly complex characters.  As a budding writer I was fascinated by the story within a story.  I loved seeing how the story unfolded as each character revealed their part in the establishment of this book club during the Nazi occupation of Guernsey.   I won’t add too many spoilers as this is still showing.

Modern life is all about multi-tasking.  We watch television while checking Facebook.  We are constantly juggling tasks and activities.  How often though, do we simply do one thing – for a couple of hours?

I now consider myself a card-carrying member of the solo cinema club, and a cheerleader too.

I’d love to hear your movie recommendations – I know I am going to be indulging again very soon – there is so much good stuff coming up.

 

Thank you so much for reading about my viewing habits.

 

Kerry xx

Reading inspires me to travel to dream destinations

Reading giving me itchy feet.  It inspires me to travel to destinations that have until now only existed within pages of a book.

When I was about eight years old I didn’t read.  I didn’t like it – I thought it was boring.

I was then introduced to my first thriller/mystery and I was hooked.  I forgot about anything or anyone around me.  Nothing much has changed in the ensuing years.

These days I read on my kindle which is on my phone.  I still love a paper book, but I also love the ease of reading an e-book.  It is easy to hold and more importantly with me wherever I go.

Wednesday Quotation

I am delighted to be back bringing you a Wednesday quotation.  And this one from my favourite childhood author Dr Seuss really inspires me and tells a story of where I am in my life right now.

The more you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you will go.

I read every day.  Sometimes I forget things because I am absorbed in the story that transports me to places in my imagination.  I read fiction, I read travel books, I read inspiration and I read personal development and self-improvement books.  When I get a chance I still read childrens books too.

No matter what you read when you crack open the pages, virtual or not, you are learning.  You are learning about people and you are learning about places.

I am so excited to be travelling to Tenerife for some sun very soon.  There are lots of trips planned for this year and the next. My wish list that gets added to regularly, and sometimes directly in correlation with something I have read.

Travel does cost money and so many of my dream destinations will remain dreams for a while, but at least I can read, and research and allow my imagination to soar.

Thank you so much for reading

Kerry x

 

What is dignity?   And why is it so important?

Dignity is a complex state and something that I truly believe that everyone deserves.  Dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect

My blog is all about being fabulous despite the circumstances of your life.  Despite the curveballs that life throws at you.  Your dignity is something that is truly integral to your fabulousness no matter what age, gender or circumstance.

A little about me

Over the past five years (and a bit more perhaps) a lot of things have come across my path. I have been a victim of gaslight bullying in the work place. My health as also been a huge struggle, most especially with my arthritis, which has been stripping me of some of the things that I perhaps took for granted.  It is some of these situations that has made me realise how important dignity is.

If dignity has been stripped from you – for whatever reason, it isn’t the easiest thing to get back. Walking tall and acting confident when you are crippled with pain or humiliation is hard.  The first time I walked out with Stan, my trusty walking stick was hard.  Not simply because I thought people would be looking at me and questioning , but because I felt vulnerable.

Vulnerability is closely linked with dignity.

When I feel vulnerable, be it a situation when I had to return to the office after a humiliating dressing down, or when I had to introduce Stan to my date.  I feel vulnerable when I am faced with a plate of dinner that I know I cannot cope with (there are days when I cannot cut my food because of pain in my hands, and many days when I know I will be decorating my clothes with the food that I might spill).  I feel vulnerable when I need to ask for assistance to carry my tray in a restaurant and even on a very bad day when I cannot pick up a cup of tea.

There are days like this – perhaps more than I would like.  After several attempts, trying to get my essential fix of tea, I realised that lifting the cup was not an option.  I asked for a straw which was delivered with a smile and with an attitude that didn’t make me feel vulnerable.  This kind woman understood dignity.

We are all different

No two people are alike and there are many people living with disabilities both visible and invisible.  This month is autism Awareness month and I am delighted to hear of many supermarkets introducing shopping hours where attention has been paid to decreasing light, sounds and other sensory stimuli.  I will certainly be taking note of these.  As a result of my conditions I am hypersensitive and find shopping overwhelming at the best of times.

Invisible disabilities (very like me on a good day when I don’t have my stick or hand splints)  are exactly that.  They are invisible.  These include depression, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and MS just as a start.  Anybody going about what seems like daily life with these conditions is fighting an uphill battle and dignity is part of that.

So how can we help people to maintain their dignity?

  • Firstly as mentioned above we don’t know who is struggling.  So why not show everyone respect.  It is old-fashioned I know but if you are sitting on a train or tube and know that you are ok to stand, offer your seat.  I promise there is someone who is struggling to stand and maintain balance.
  • Be aware.  It takes so little to hold a door open, to perhaps notice that someone needs a little help, perhaps with carrying a tray or a cup of coffee.  Perhaps allowing someone to go ahead of you in the queue.  These are all little actions that will allow someone to maintain their dignity and not feel quite so vulnerable.
  • In close relationships, family and friends who know what someone is going through it is both easier and harder.  My advice would be to again be aware, be conscious of what things might be difficult, and simply help silently.  I had visitors over the Easter weekend and every day I realised that little things had happened.  My bin had been cleaned thoroughly, the back garden was tidied, the dishwasher had been packed and unpacked.  I didn’t ask for help, but it was given.  And I am so grateful.
  • Acceptance is key.  If there is a person in your life who is disabled in any way, simply accepting them for who they are is a wonderful gift of dignity.  When I was in a new relationship, I was shy about introducing Stan the Stick.  Eventually we were going on a trip and I knew I would need the support of my stick.  I remember asking my Mom.  If he doesn’t accept Stan he isn’t the man for you.  Wise woman!  I just loved the day when he suggested bringing Stan out with us.

 

My tool kit for coping

It may seem odd, but the little things I do for myself to feel better, and to maintain my dignity are important to me.

I like looking good.  I love my fashion and style.  If I am going out (and even sometimes staying in) choosing great clothes, doing my hair and spending time on my make-up give me that added confidence boost.

I also of course rely on the old favourites of pain relief, mindfulness and rest.  A great day out feeling totally dignified has a lot of planning behind it.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who I share my life with.  My friends who know and the strangers who don’t.  Allowing me my dignity is a gift.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

 

The Delights of Manchester and More!

There are two kinds of travel for me.  Travel to visit friends and family and travel to places where you can be anonymous.  I love both.  (They can of course be combined!)

Finding time for family

I was reflecting on my travel schedule and realised that for the first time in 22 years I wasn’t going to be with my son for mother’s day.  This had me immediately reaching for my phone and looking for flights.

My son got his dream job and moved to Cheshire just outside Manchester six months ago.  Coincidently my brother and his family moved to the same area a year before when then made their big move from South Africa.

Booking a flight to Manchester seemed like the perfect solution.  A bit of travel, a bit of mother and son time and of course family time.  There is nothing quite like spending time in conversation with someone you have known your whole life (well almost).

A different departure

Due to my health issues, I need to travel assisted most of the time and get quite unsettled in busy loud situations, so I decided to try Shannon Airport as an option to Dublin.  What an absolute pleasure it was – the airport was quiet, clean and very efficient.  And I must pay tribute to the assistance staff who were helpful and kind on both legs of my journey.

I was collected at the airport by my brother and headed back for the first of many cups of tea and hours of conversation.

The adventures begin

The next day my adventures with my son started.  We started off with Sushi for lunch at Zuma – a fabulous little eatery with bottomless Miso soup.  This has become a bit of a tradition and I would really be bereft without a visit here.  My son went back to work and I had a wander around Wilmslow which is a gorgeous town with quirky shops and high street favourites.  I finished up with a cappuccino and cake and my journal – simply the right formula for a little thinking.

That evening I had a wonderful treat.  David has subscribed to a great foody idea.  Hello Fresh delivers carefully curated recipes and the precise ingredients you need to make a tasty dinner.  He has always been interested in cooking and this seems to be a great way to increase your exposure to different cuisines and learn new skills.  The chicken and courgette curry with delicious coconut milk served with flavoured rice was lip smackingly delicious.  I was savouring the flavours in my mouth and not even thinking of dessert.

It was early to bed for us because we had a great day planned for Friday.

We headed off via train and Uber to the Intu Trafford Centre.  This is really quite a magnificent destination – in fact I would call it an experience rather than a shopping centre.  Quite regal architecture invites you into a world under one roof.  I had my phone out and was snapping photographs straight away.

I have always tried to hold onto the childish delight in new experiences and the self playing piano was just the kind of novelty to put me in the right mood.

We wandered the shops being drawn into various establishments, and then we passed  and the most magical display of confectionary I have seen in a long time.  It was time for coffee and a treat.  Unicorn cake for me and an unctuous Ferraro Rocher cupcake for David.  After a nice sit down and a few plans we returned to the shops.

On my first visit to the UK many years ago I discovered Molton Brown.  This has to be my all time indulgence.  Evocative aromas and silky sensations.  I was invited to sit down and give my hands a mini spa treatment.  A cleansing scrub, a bath oil that was literally so sensuous I was swooning and then some luxurious lotion.  I was literally oohing and aahing.

The visit to this emporium was probably the highlight of my visit to Trafford especially when David told me he was buying the oil for me for Mother’s Day.  It was truly something that I loved (I think he got the idea I loved it from my behaviour in the shop).  This kind of gift is perfect as it keeps on giving.  Everytime I have a bath I will be transported back to my special day.

We finished our visit with a yummy visit to Wagamama – a healthy treat and special mother son time.

Cocktails in a Laundrette

The following day we were on the train again and then caught a cab to a laundrette.  Yes, a low-key, tatty looking laundrette with washing machines and baskets of undies.  Behind the door disguised as another washing machine was the most magical cocktail bar ever!

The Washhouse in Manchester is all about storytelling – in the form of delicious cocktails.  The host welcomed us and even as we walked towards our table my eyes were darting about looking at the amazing creations.  Each cocktail has a story and this is played out in the ingredients, the wonderful and creative presentation and of course the taste.

Three is a magic number so we each had three cocktail experiences.  Everything but a Beach – was a trip to the seaside.  The cocktail was served in red bucket and was a wonderful salty but fruity hit and it was served in a sandpit complete with a fallen ice cream cone.  The sand was delicious!  It was all delicious.

My second choice was the Tea-Total – and no it wasn’t a mocktail.  Everyone who knows me, knows that I love my tea and this drink was perfection.  It was served in a little tea-cup complete with a couple of biscuits and floating pink rose buds and the best part, a photograph of David and I pegged to the cup.  (another gift that will keep on giving as it came home with me!)

I finished up with Hard Breakfast – an orange and bourbon based glass of yum served with a tiny toast and marmalade side.  This was the strongest flavour of all my choices so I am glad I ended with it.  As we made our way to the station in the cold wind, my tummy was warm and my heart was delighted.  What a wonderful Mother’s Day treat.

Home comforts

On Mother’s Day the treats continued as my son and his cousins prepared a wonderful lunch for the moms and my brother.  Crumbed Camembert, Lime and Tarragon Chicken and a home-made Toblerone Cheesecake was a menu that couldn’t be beaten.  Thank you to you all – it was a delicious and comforting way to end off a visit that will be remembered.

I enjoy all sorts of travelling and this trip was a delight at every step.  So many of us have family spread out all over the world.  Creating wonderful memories through travel as like jewels in my mind.

Thank you for reading about this month’s adventure.  I wonder where I will go next ……

Kerry xx

 

How to celebrate a blog birthday

Well the obvious answer is with cake!  I love cake – I would choose it over chocolate, crisps and even wine.  I think a cake is just such a symbol of celebration.  It always makes me feel festive, as well as being delicious and deeply satisfying.

I am lucky enough to be friends with a master baker and decorator and when I asked if Aine from The Cake Emporium would make me a birthday cake for my blog she didn’t even blink an  eye and as a reader of my blog she didn’t need a brief either.

I was truly delighted and jumping up and down like a three-year old myself when the cake arrived complete with crown!

Why did I start my blog three years ago?

Three years ago I was 50 and coming out of quite a dark place.  I still had a lot going on health wise (and still do to tell the truth).  I had learnt that it was important to maintain your dignity and to always wear your invisible crown no matter what.

The blog theme is to be fabulous despite the curveballs that life throws at us. And what better way that to place that crown firmly on your head and know your own value.

The blog posts were I wrote about this concept were some of the first posts that got me noticed and is still some of my favourites.

Telling my stories

I have struggled with my weight my whole life, despite dieting for most of it.  One day I sat down and wrote the story of how I gave up dieting.  It was early on in my blogging journey and I remember being amazed as the views on the blog increased and increased and the reactions came in.  People direct messaged me, they engaged and told me their own stories.

I think that at this point I realised the true joy of blogging.  It is about creating tribe and a community.  Creating a conversation with people all around the world.

Finding balance and more

My long-awaited book (it is coming out soon) is all about how I have changed my life one word at a time.  The first posts I wrote about this related to balance and how by choosing to focus on this word I had started the avalanche of change that would filter through my life.  Again I was truly humbled by the response.

Moving from South Africa to Ireland

A personal blog is all about sharing stories of my life.  Stories and experiences that I hope other people can relate to.  My all time most read blog post is about my move from South Africa to Ireland.  It is read almost every day and I have communicated with so many people who are in the process of making a big move.  By simply writing a story about one woman and her move to Ireland I have been blessed to meet so many people.

Fashion, Beauty and Confidence

I have written many posts.  Perhaps I should count them.  I have touched on many subjects from fashion to beauty, food to travel and of course health.  The common denominator in everything my blog stands for is confidence to be authentic.  I really believe that we all come across so many curveballs in life, it is our choice though to choose to be fabulous despite whatever tries to knock us down.

So I wear my crown and try to be fabulous.

As I celebrate my third blog birthday I want to thank you so much for reading my posts, for sending me messages and for sharing my journey.

Kerry xx

P.S  A few exciting changes coming very soon.

 

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