How to be a plus sized over 50 Fashionista!

This post has been sponsored by Hotter Shoes who have also kindly gifted me my boots and handbag.

I love fashion – and I like to think of myself as a plus sized over 50 fashionista.  Why not?  We are all entitled to celebrate our bodies and the beautiful clothes we wear.  I know that I always feel better when I am wearing something I love.

The seasonal wardrobe change over

I grew up in South Africa, where we had cold dry but short winters and long hot summers.  The big wardrobe change over is a ritual that I have continued even though the seasons are quite different in Ireland.

The steps!

  1. The first step is to haul the suitcases from under the bed. As I unpack last seasons clothes, I really try to do my first cull.  Is there anything that is really tatty or something that I will probably never wear again?  These go straight into a bag for recycling.
  2. The next step is to check if anything needs mending – realistically if I don’t mend it now, it will languish in the back of the wardrobe for another season.
  3. The next step is to empty my current wardrobe. There are some basics that are part of my wardrobe all year round so these don’t go into storage.  I also keep a few summery thing out in a special section for winter sun holidays!
  4. As I pack my new season wardrobe into the wardrobe I take note of what I have, and consequently what I need. As you can imagine at 54 I have amassed lots of clothes and even after recycling, there isn’t a lot that I need.
  5. I then make a list of what I need, this season it is jeans and boots. My current boots are two years old and have been worn so often that they burn the soles of my feet on a good day in town.  My body seems to have changed shape and I really need to treat my bum to a new pair.
  6. Finally there is also what I want!  Money is tight but it is always good to add something that you might fall in love with.
I love this outfit – perfect for travelling. Super comfortable and trendy Pixie boots from Hotter Shoes in Wine. The matching handbag is also from Hotter and is perfect for taking on the plane. My lovely book patterned skirt is from Bo-Peep.ie.

What to buy?

Over the past few years my life has changed and I no longer need corporate wear, and have found that my casual wardrobe is growing.  I still love dressing up for any occasion.  I also like feeling a bit trendy and have found that the careful purchase of fashionable accessories is a great way of updating my wardrobe with minimum expense.

Once I had my wardrobe all packed away in sections – tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets and cardigans.  The accessories were sorted with special attention to hats, scarves and gloves I was ready to make my wish list.

  1. Black boots and a fun pair if possible.
  2. A winter dress – not the easiest thing to find, but I do love my vintage so I knew where to look. Lindy Bop in the UK has the cutest vintage style, and I fell in love with a black swing style dress that was conveniently on sale.  – pics of this soon – I promise.
  3. Jeans – well this is still on my list. I need to find the pair that makes me feel good.  For now it is my old ones with a belt.
  4. I am still on the look out for all the perfect accessories, but then it is good to have something to shop for when I am away or out shopping.

Falling in love with online shopping

Traditional shopping is something I only do on occasion.  My health has made me really sensitive to sounds and lights and I find it really tiring.  I also get claustrophobic in the changing rooms.

Online shopping is my saviour.  I never thought it would be possible to buy a pair of boots that fit so perfectly online.  My first interaction with Hotter Shoes included a chat with their fitting expert.  When my fabulous new boots arrived, I was only a little apprehensive. The first time I wore my boots I walked and walked and walked – no better recommendation.

I also bought my Lindy Bop dress online and based on previous purchases, I knew what size to buy, and it slipped on like it was made for me.

Feet up after a long day. These are my fabulous Hotter Whisper boots – that go with almost everything.

Footwear is probably the most important fashion item in my wardrobe

If my feet are not happy I am not happy.  Comfort comes first even before fashion, although it is a close second.  Because of this I always plan my outfits from the feet up.  There is no point in putting a fabulous outfit together and then realising that you don’t have the shoes to finish it off.

My first choice from Hotter Shoes was these black Whisper boots – these are simply the most versatile ankle boots ever.  They are smart enough to wear with tailored clothes and with dresses, but are equally suited to jeans.  An extra selling point is that they have two zips rather than one.  When you have awkward arthritic feet this is a fantastic feature.

As an extra treat I chose trendy Pixie boots with their suede print and tassels.  These are simply boots that speak to my heart.  I love the boho chic look right now, and these boots make me feel fabulous whenever I wear them.  My feet also love them for their slipper like comfort.

Every good pair of shoes deserves a great handbag.  Hotter also kindly gifted me the Laura handbag.  This bag complements my pixie boots as it is wine with a black floral print.  I took the bag with me on a recent trip to the UK.  Such a brilliant bag, and ideal for fitting in everything you need for a flight.

All set for the season

After all that wardrobe sorting, here I am snuggled up on the Chesterfield in the kitchen reading. I still have my boots on as I am comfy and warm.

I think I am almost set for this season!  My wardrobe is tidy and getting ready every morning is a pleasure!

Thanks for reading and sharing my fashion journey.

Kerry xx

Marmaris, Turkey – the Friendliest Place!


Our recent trip to Marmaris in Turkey was literally a tale of two parts.  The good however significantly outweighed the bad.

Although I love the idea of travelling the actual travel day is incredibly hard, especially if you are struggling with mobility.  As mentioned in a previous post, this trip started on the right note with a wonderful night at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown.  At 4 am all excited we set off on our new adventure to a place that we had never visited before. (read about our wonderful night here)

Arriving in the friendliest place

Almost 5 hours on a budget airline is tiring.  It was wonderful to land at the brand-new airport at Dalaman and to feel the sun on our shoulders.  The transfer system here is very slick, and we were soon installed into a smart little mini bus, complete with a cooler of drinks.  All the transfer buses stop off half way, and I was delighted to stretch my legs and treat myself to my first Turkish ice cream – it was called blue sky – and looked exactly like the sky above us.  I was curious to try it and wondered what it would taste like – hard to describe but the closest I could get was caramel delicious.

A word of warning

Before we arrived at our hotel we knew it wouldn’t be great.  We had been doing some research on Trip Advisor and were a little worried to be honest.  The reviews were shocking.  We already knew that it was a five-story hotel that had no lift.  When I found this out I called ahead and explained my mobility issues and thankfully we were in a room on the first floor.  The hotel was very run down, but thankfully clean (this is important to me).  We had also booked full board – and one look at the dining room, the food that looked like it was recycled for each meal, and the kitchen led us to a quick decision that we wouldn’t be eating in.

On the plus side the location of the hotel was perfect, only 5 minutes from the beach, with easy access to the town and lovely eateries.  It also had a great rooftop pool, that had me taking a daily dip!

It is important to check things out.  We do travel on a budget, so were not expecting 5 stars.

The most delicious food always served with a smile

The food in Marmaris is amazing.  Let me just say that.  From a gorgeous Cappuccino to a full mixed grill, everything was fresh and delicious.  It was also extremely affordable, and served with a smile.

The first morning we went for a walk along the seafront.  After a while I was hot and tired, so we chose a restaurant for a refreshing drink.  Vamos appealed to me from the sidewalk, and it was a good choice.  Although we were only having a drink, I read the menu (I always do this – its ok to dream).  I noticed a starter of watermelon and feta and never mind that it was 11am I ordered it.  The portion that arrived was enough for three!  They quickly brought extra utensils and told me that this was not the normal portion size but that they decided to treat me.  It was fresh, juicy and so delicious.  And, it set the tone for a foodie holiday.

A firm favourite on the Turkish menu was lava bread.  This is literally a balloon of bread – crispy and light served with salsa, garlic yogurt and garlic butter.  I think we shared one every day, and I am missing them already.

Food was so affordable and the quality was outstanding.  We indulged in gorgeous kebab skewers, the most delicious pizza, and tasty gorgeous Turkish breakfasts.  If you fancy, there is always a great English breakfast – available in most restaurants.

Great value for money

I had underestimated how much spending money we needed – primarily because we ate out all the time.  After one attempt at drawing cash from a Turkish language ATM which was stressful, we realised that it was easy enough to choose a multiple language version.  By this stage I thought I was accustomed to the Turkish Lire.  I had bought three pairs of Birkenstocks, and we had tried out all sorts of treats from the supermarket.  I drew a couple of hundred lire, and then realised that it was barely 30 Euro.  Your money goes a long way in Turkey.

We booked our budget trip with Love Holidays.

A long walk to Icmeler

We love to walk.  Even though I walk slowly and with my trusty stick Stan, I am game to see how far I can go before I need a rest.  One day we decided to visit the next village – Icmeler.  I am not sure why we thought we could walk there, but we did.  We walked and walked.  I got hotter and more tired, and started complaining.  Himself kept on saying, it’ll be around the next corner.  After about six or seven corners I called time and we popped into a café with a Wi-Fi sign for a cold drink.  I checked google maps – it was 8km further!!!  Suffice to say we went back to the hotel for a swim and took a taxi the next day. I fell in love with Icmeler, bought the most delicious Turkish delight and indulged in yet another Lava bread.

Be prepared to lose your inhibitions

I had heard about a Hamman – a Turkish bath.  Feeling brave I booked in and descended the stairs to the Hamman spa.  Now, please remember that I am fabulous plus sized lady.  I was shown the changing room and offered a Turkish towel which is probably slightly bigger than a large dish towel.  I blanched!  A young lady came to assist and managed to truss me up in two towels – I had elected to keep my underwear on (for now).  After a sauna, I was shown into the Hamman room and invited to lay down on this large marble slab.  There was then a confusion of communication and eventually and English speaker came to clarify – did I want a man or woman to wash me.  A woman please!

This was a great choice as from this point on I realised that I had to simply give up on inhibitions and enjoy the experience.  I was given an invigorating aloe vera scrub, followed by a massage with what can only be described as pillow cases full of foam.  It was sublime.  The experience concluded with a full body (and I mean full body) oil massage.

I have shared my turkish bath story with a few people.  I have told that I didn’t sell it well.  Yes, it is an extremely intimate experience – but I would do it again.  Just remember to leave your inhibitions at the door.

Sailing away with pirate ships

The bay of Marmaris is extremely picturesque. From the first moment, we glimpsed it on arrival, I wanted to paint the misty hills that enclosed it.  The first morning we noticed Pirate ships on the bay, and I was intrigued.  There are several ships all offering day trips around the bay.  In the end, we chose the Black Pearl, primarily because of the friendly man who engaged with us.  I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a pirate ship, but then again we got to watch the Pirate ships instead.

This day out was brilliant value and included all drinks on board as well as a delicious lunch.  The views were stunning and so inspiring.  We dropped anchor at various spots for swimming, sightseeing and to view truly magical caves.

My lasting memories of Turkey

When I think back on my trip, the overriding memories are of the friendly people, and the kindness of strangers.  For the most part, people are honest and kind.  We had great chats with locals and other tourists, and felt truly welcomed.

We will be back – and next time we will stay in the lovely Icmeler but of course we will visit the beautiful bay of Marmaris.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

 

The best way to start a holiday!

I love going on holidays.  What I don’t like is the getting ready.  I get quite stressed about the packing in case I leave anything behind.  My other big stress is getting to the airport.  To drive or catch a bus?  Where to park?  Quite honestly I don’t normally want to be around myself the day before travel.

The Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown offer a service called #StayParkFly –  you can stay over at the hotel the night before you fly, and leave your car there.  They then offer a shuttle service dropping you right at the airport.

I was delighted to collaborate with the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown on our recent visit to Turkey. We were flying at 6am on Sunday morning so needed to be at the airport at 4am.  And, yes the shuttle bus was available at this hour of the night.

This was such a cool experience that I decided to dedicate a full blog post to what I am now calling the first day of the holiday.

Day 1 of my Holiday

On Saturday afternoon we took a leisurely drive up to Dublin arriving at the hotel mid-afternoon.  I have visited the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown before and I know the rooms are lovely but we were given a real treat and upgraded to a suite.  I felt like a movie star!  We settled in with a cup of tea and some lovely little cakes.  I stretched out like a star fish on the bed and himself watched a little TV.

Instead of my usual stress I felt so relaxed, like I was on holiday already.  And what better way to celebrate the beginning of a holiday than a wonderful G&T!  The bar is so lovely and welcoming and all the staff were super helpful.

We needed an early night (as we had an extremely long day ahead of us) so we had an early dinner.  A delicious juicy steak for himself and some yummy pumpkin ravioli for me, before heading off to our gorgeous room for a bubble bath and an early night.

Watch a video of my ‘room tour’ here

Day 2 of our holiday

The next morning I woke up and instead of being stressed, I was excited!  The attitude of the staff at this hotel is fantastic.  Before 4am we came downstairs with our bags to be greeted with a smile, and two little bags with take-away breakfast of croissants, muffins, fruit and water.  Our cheerful driver Michael set off for Dublin Airport – next stop for us – Marmaris, Turkey!

You know the feeling when you come home from holiday.  You have been travelling hours on a mini bus and a budget airline and you are beyond tired.  This is normally the time when you have to either climb on a bus for another few hours, or play the game of find the car in among hundreds of cars in the long-term parking.  By this stage my fatigue normally has me close to tears.

What a difference this was.  Despite our plane being delayed, the cheerful driver Michael was waiting for us, he had even called ahead to check that we knew where to find him.

I can honestly say that the wonderful service from the staff at the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown contributed to a wonderful holiday.

Kerry xx

Our stay at the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown was gifted to us.  Thank you very much!  Thank you also to Sinead from the Irish Blogger Agency.

p.s.  The next installment of our holiday in amazing Turkey will be coming soon!  And it includes my take on a Turkish Bath!

12 Tips for Travelling on a Budget

I love to travel.  There is something about visiting a place that is not home that captures my imagination and quite simply excites me.  I had to find a way of travelling on a budget.

We are on a very limited budget.  I am in fact on a medical pension which makes it even harder to travel, but not impossible.

My excuse was that I couldn’t’ afford a holiday

For many years I was the person that said I can’t afford a holiday.  I looked on with envy as many people jetted off to sunnier climates and felt frustrated and a tiny bit left out.  What I didn’t realise is that there are a few tricks and techniques which make it perfectly possible to travel – on an extremely limited budget.

  1. Book out of season – it’s one of the advantages of being a little older.
  2. Be prepared to trawl the internet – the deals are there to be had, you simply have to spend time looking. Our favourite site is www.loveholidays.com
  3. Be flexible with dates, and places, you might have to compromise a little but I promise it is worth it.
  4. Let go of the 5-Star dreams. We travel on a budget and understand that if you aren’t paying 5-star rates you won’t get a 5 star hotel.  However, you might get a really clean self-catering apartment in a perfect location.
  5. Choose self-catering. Although we have tried various options, but if I am honest I do prefer self-catering.  It is fun going to the supermarket and figuring out what might be delicious.  It is also a lot cheaper.  A bottle of wine, or even a bottle of water from a supermarket is more affordable than one in a restaurant.
  6. Eating out is cheaper than at home – just remember to do your research. Trip Advisor is great for knowing just exactly what you are getting.  I love the European café culture – so am always happy to pay for a great coffee and a pastry and sit and write in my journal or simply watch the world go by.
  7. Save! Yes, no matter how cheap it is savings are going be needed.  I am personally very happy to have baked beans on a baked potato for dinner for a few nights and know that I can make the holiday payment.
  8. Choose to pay monthly. I find it quite difficult to save up a lump sum, but many holiday operators offer the option of paying monthly.  We allocate 10 Euros each of our weekly budget to paying off holidays.  It is easy enough to find 10 Euro and we are heading to our third European holiday this weekend.
  9. Research transport options. You might be able to pick up a bus pass for the week for as little as 10 Euro.  I love to walk on holiday but sometimes you need to catch a ride.
  10. Think of the extras. I used to get caught by extras like check-in fees, and parking.  Parking can be quite a chunk of spending money if you don’t get it right.  One option would be to stay at an affordable Dublin hotel which offers a shuttle to the airport and parking while you are away.  We are delighted to be staying at the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown before leaving for Turkey.  An added advantage is that we need to be at the airport at 4am.  This way will be rested and ready for our holiday.
  11. Look into the local currency. If you need to convert your spending money before you go.  (And yes you guessed it I save that too for a few weeks before the trip)
  12. Check out mobile phone and internet access with your service provider. The last thing you want is a rude bill on your return.

It is exciting to go on holiday and the best part is when everything is sorted and paid for before hand.  I am off to pack my bag, tick off my checklist and get ready for Turkey.

I hope you are inspired to go travelling on a budget.

Follow me on Instagram @fabulouskerry to see how we get on.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

I went back to work in the corporate world at almost 50!

At 48 I went back to work in the corporate world.  It was scary.

I truly began to understand the meaning of fake it until you make it when I found myself in hot water for not replying to a meeting request in Outlook.  Outlook hadn’t been invented the last time I played corporate games.

The reason I was dressed in black and wearing heels for the first time in 10 years, and literally shaking in said heels was an interview.  This was something that hadn’t happened in more than 20 years.

My back to work story

My marriage broke down, and at 48 I realised that the only way forward was for me to get a job that paid well.  I had my qualifications and lots of life experience, but nothing currently corporate.

There are a few things I did that really paid dividends:

  • I paid someone to write-up my CV – CV styles change, and it is honestly the best investment.
  • I bought some corporate clothes – it really is true that you must dress for the job (and salary) that you want.
  • Brush up on your IT skills. Absolutely everything had changed in the time I was out of the loop.  Although I used a computer at home I needed some up-skilling.
  • Learn a bit of jargon – it seems trite, but it really helps to fit in.
  • Study – read blogs, articles and anything you can get your hands on – especially if you are aiming at a particular industry.
  • Set up a twitter account and start following industry leaders
  • Set up and work on your LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is basically your online CV and really important.  Use the CV created (see above) as a guide.  These two should really match..
  • Google yourself – your prospective employers will do this, so be aware of might come up.
  • Check your Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – and delete anything you don’t want to be found.

Subsequent to going back to work I trained in Personal Branding Coaching – you can find out more about this here.  We all have a brand and going back to work – you need to be aware of this and craft a brand that works for you.

Back to work Tips from Teenagers

My son, at 16 was my back to work coach.  ‘Stop worrying about what you are going to wear Mom, you need to study for your interview’.  Really?  I had never studied for an interview before, so I took to Google and researched common interview questions.  I found out that you also need to research the company, and have your own set of questions prepared.

Once I had the study part done, he did advise me on what to wear, and it meant leaving my hippy arty clothes in the cupboard.

Armed with my homework and wearing my new outfit I set off for my interview.  Literally shaking inside, I kept reminding myself that I had run my own business, and I had started a business in Ireland and marketed it with absolutely no budget.  I might be older than all the other candidates, but that could be turned into a positive too.

I surprised myself (and a few others) by nabbing myself a job in corporate financial research as a marketing manager – after a very long spell out of the corporate world.  This was only just the beginning.

A sandwich, and a briefcase doesn’t necessarily crack it.

The first day of work I was literally shaking.  I got dressed twice despite having chosen my clothes the night before.  My confidence wasn’t great, my marriage was in tatters and I was taking a huge step into the unknown.

It was horrible.  I am not going to pretend otherwise.  I arrived at work, was shown my desk and that was it.  Almost everyone in the office was more than 20 years younger than me, and they didn’t speak to me.  (There was a reason for this but I didn’t find out for months).

My new boss who was based in London flew over to meet me, which helped somewhat but the truth was I was very out of my depth.  I was receiving emails and meeting notifications and having to figure out the internal communication system, while smiling and acting like I had everything under control.

It does get better

The following day my marketing colleague and boss headed back to London and I was on my own.  On my own with my good friend Google.  I googled everything and learnt fast.

The easiest part of the learning curve was applying everything I knew about marketing to financial research which was a new industry for me.  The hardest part was learning how to deal with difficult people and office politics.  I also learnt to trust myself and to follow my own instincts.

My back to work story got better and better.  Like a baby bird (of 48) I learnt to fly, and to proudly put forward my opinions and follow those instincts.

During lunchtime I had a sandwich at my computer and taught myself everything about modern marketing.  I learnt how to harness social media and how to convert the basics of research into an online accessible web portal.

Looking back I am really proud of what I achieved.  I am now retired for medical reasons but I can look back and know that I did it!  Yes, I went back to the work in the corporate world and succeeded.

Thank you for reading my story.

Kerry xx

It is a Joy to wear it – Plus Size fashion delight!

I love clothes.  From the days of dressing my Barbie dolls in scraps of fabric,  to the era of online shopping, fashion has fascinated me..

I am fabulously plus sized, and am delighted to find that more and more gorgeousplus size fashion ranges are  available allowing me to wear clothes that I love.

Decluttering

I have recently moved which set off a huge bout of decluttering and purging.  As I unpacked my clothes I applied the Marie Kondo principle of handling each item and asking if it striked joy.  It might sound silly but as I handled each item of clothing I realised that there were memories entwined in the fabric.

I recycled a lot.  Many bags of clothes went to the charity shop and clothes banks.  Dresses that were linked to work I can no longer do found new homes.  Items  that never made me feel good found new homes.  There were also some items discarded that have been worn to a thread because I loved them.

A wardrobe that delights me

I now have a wardrobe that makes me truly happy.  I can see everything I have – and it is all sorted into sections.  My accessories are clearly displayed sparking new combinations.

It is wonderful to see all my clothes hanging up and getting dressed is such fun.  By thinning out my wardrobe and only keeping things that I love to wear, I can dressed in minutes and feel fabulous.

A little plus size fashion retail therapy

I popped onto Oxendales to pay my account one evening and decided to have a little look on the sale.  Joe Browns available from Oxendales and Simply Be has been a long time favourite.  Quirky prints and individual style delight me.  I was  delighted to find a fabulous dress with a huge discount!

When the dress arrived I was simply overjoyed.  It fitted so well, but most importantly it made me feel joyful and fabulous.  I wore my dress to town styled with a soft gold Michael Kors shopper (a gift from my sister).

It must strike Joy

Not everything in my wardrobe is special. I have my basics, my comfy jerseys for wearing at home and piles of leggings.  But the special place in my wardrobe is for my special dresses.  I can honestly say though that everything i have now strikes joy!  I have promised myself that anything new that comes into my wardrobe will meet the same criteria.

Thanks for reading and sharing the joy of my new dress.

Kerry xx

 

Imagine if you were battery powered

You know what it’s like when the batteries are running low on the TV remote?  It is awkward – pointing at the TV and pressing buttons in the hope that the channel will change or the volume will increase.

We all charge our phones.  We have chargers in the car, next to the bed, in the kitchen and even if you are like me a power bank in my handbag for emergencies.

There are great lessons to be learnt from the digital world.  My son is a gamer and game developer.  I have often watched him play and noticed that players get ‘health’ which slowly ebbs away especially if you get injured.  You have to complete a task or buy new health.  Thank goodness we have the option of ‘plugging ourselves in’.

What about our own batteries?

I think we are battery powered.  Perhaps not in the same way as a phone or TV remote, but more like the quintessential Duracell bunny who can go and go and go, but will eventually run out of power and stagger to a halt.

My own personal situation and the health issues I deal with on a daily basis often make me feel like the bunny that got the dud batteries.  I find myself flat.  Not only down but flat like a battery operated toy that is mumbling and muttering, staggering around.  I am no longer the singing dancing bear (or bunny).

Every one of us is unique and our situations are too.  Some people struggle with mental health, and others with physical health.  Even the seemingly healthy people, are using their batteries every day – running around doing lifts for kids, working in a high stress environment, studying for exams.

Every little thing we do in life is sucking our battery power.

If we don’t plug in and recharge we will come to a grinding halt.

We all have different battery lives

Because we are all unique, we have different battery lives too.  Mine doesn’t seem to have a very long life, and sometimes I need to be plugged in and recharging 3 or 4 times a day.  Other people might be ok with an overnight charge.

The truth is that we all need to charge.  And we need to be cognizant of the fact that if we don’t plug in and recharge we could be in from some serious health challenges.

It was only when things were really bad that I became consciously aware of the need to recharge.  I think this conscious awareness is what has really made a difference, and I would urge everyone reading this to stop, and if it doesn’t seem too silly think about when you need to be plugged in and juicing up your battery.

Recharging is actually quite easy.  There are a number of activities which will make a difference, but to varying degrees, and of course unique to each person.

  • Rest
  • Sleep
  • Eating healthy
  • Drinking enough fluid
  • Meditating
  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Creativity and flow
  • Setting boundaries

It is all very well to simply list these items and promise yourself that you will remember to plug-in.  Life gets in the way, constantly veering us off course and then we look down at our battery life and oops – we are on emergency power.

How I recharge

Recharging needs to become a habit.  Something that you do automatically.  When I go to bed I leave my phone plugged in downstairs.  When I get into the car, I plug it into the car charger.

Similarly I have a routine that after having breakfast, I have my second breakfast (medication and supplements), and then I sit with a cup of tea and write my journal.  This sets me up for the day.  Quite often I get up from my cup of tea with my mind buzzing and a list at my side ready to grab hold of the day fully charged.

It is really about finding what works for you.  I jump on my mini-trampoline for at least 10 minutes a day.  I have made this part of my routine too, and find it is really energizing me – yet another way of charging my battery.

As my own personal battery isn’t all that long-lasting, I have to constantly remind myself to plug-in.  I use the list above to remind myself of different ways I can recharge.  The luxury and necessity of rest is a priority as is setting boundaries.

Just imagine me sitting on my sofa plugged in – just like my phone.

Thank you for reading and please let me know what you do to recharge.

Kerry xx

Time to love my nails

I always think that it’s important to have pretty nails, especially when your hands are on display. As I teach art and craft – this is quite often.

Over the past few years I have really struggled.  My fingers have lots of lumps and bumps because of arthritis, and are often swollen.  My nails have simply been a disaster area.

Years on methotrexate (a chemotherapy based drug used for arthritis) saw them in a dreadful state.  They were so ridged they were like corduroy.  That isn’t the worst.  They split – vertically, and flaked and some of them simply stopped growing.

For someone who has always had a nail polish library this was quite distressing.  I must admit that I neglected my nails too.  It just became depressing.

There is nothing I can do about the lumps and bumps, and nothing I can do about the fact that my hands are in their fifties just like my body.  There is however quite a lot I can do about my nails.

Since I have been off methotrexate my nails have slowly started healing, but are far from fine.

Making a Nail Commitment

A couple of months ago I made a commitment to myself.  I was going to take care of my hands.  They may be arthritic but they are the only hands I have.

I set myself up with hand cream – my choice was a nourishing hand and nail treatment from Roger+Gallet – aptly called sublime.  This brand has been going for years (my granny used it) – truly standing the test of time. I placed this along with some cuticle oil next to my sofa spot and promised to nurture my hands and nails every day.  What a difference this has made.   Things have improved significantly but unfortunately the ridges are still quite prominent.

Treating myself to Mavala

I went off to the pharmacy to treat myself to a new colour.  I love Mavala – the little bottles of delicious colour remind me of paint.  They never go hard and you can build up a whole library of little pots of deliciousness.  I chose a gorgeous pearly shade called Rose.

The real find for me was the Mavala ridge filer from the Nail camouflage range.  At nearly nine euros I had to have a little think about it.  I then reminded myself that I was taking care of my body which does so much for me.

What a brilliant little pot of goodness.  I used it as an undercoat and it was brilliant.  My nail polish went on smoothly and lasted for days!

I really think it is important to give our body and in this case our hands a bit of tender loving care.  Now all I need to decide is which colour to add to my library next.

Mavala is available from most pharmacies. 

(This isn’t a sponsored post – I bought the products myself and absolutely love them)

Thanks for reading.  I hope this inspires you to love your hands too.

Kerry xx

 

Respect – my tribute to the fabulous Aretha Franklin

It took me many, many years to truly understand how important respect was as a value.  It is a word we bandy about but a couple of years ago all of a sudden I understood.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

I was journaling and thinking about my life and my history and it came to me that part of the reason I have been bullied (and more) over many years, in many situations, is that I did not have the respect of my others.  This was a huge moment and I feel quite emotional even writing about it.  I had recently left a job where I had been gaslighted by very real horrible bosses.  This was at one of the lowest points of my life.  I was sick, struggling to come to terms with my arthritis diagnosis and also coming to terms with the fact that I could no longer work full-time.

The horrible experience I had in the workplace had brought me to a stand still.  I was good at my job, I knew this, and yet I allowed these truly wicked people to belittle me, to call me a liar and to bring me to a point where I started to question myself.

I was listening to the radio and Respect sung by the fabulous Aretha Franklin came on the radio.  It struck a chord with me.  I listened to the words and then realised I needed to listen again.  I headed over to YouTube and literally played it over and over again.  These amazing lyrics written by Otis Redding resonated with me. As I listened all of a sudden I realised something really important.

Nobody would respect me fully until I respected myself.

This was such a turning point in my life.  Once I realised this I embraced respect as a word of the year.  This word however I think will live on with me forever.

Today following the passing of a truly fabulous woman Aretha Franklin, I pay my respects to a woman who lived through decades of change and stood tall, constantly belting out an anthem that has, I am sure reminded many woman of the importance of respect.

Thank you for reading and please take a listen to this amazing song.

Kerry xx

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

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