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.

 

Valentine’s Day – love it or hate it?

The 14th of February is Valentine’s Day.  Is it a day that has been hijacked by commercialism?  I think so.  However no matter what I think, it is a day that dawns in the middle of February and puts all sorts of pressure on people to think about romantic love.

I did a little google search on Valentine’s day and it looks to me like the day we celebrate today originally had little to do with the plethora of red hearts, chocolates and overpriced roses.  To be honest I am not particularly bothered with celebrating love on this day.  I would far rather celebrate it on anniversaries, on special days and on the unexpected days and moments that are important to me and the people I love.

Why does Valentine’s Day stress me out?

What does stress me out, is the pressure that the media put on us.  It really isn’t fun to be just out of a relationship, to be going through a separation, or to be feeling simply lonely.

Even kids going to school on the 14th of February are put under pressure.  I remember going to school (many moons ago) and having to partake in a system when cards were posted in a box in the classroom and counted at the end of the day, with one girl and one guy being awarded some sort of made-up award.

I have spent many Valentine’s days either single, or wishing I was.  I have spent the day with hope in my heart only to be disappointed. I have been blessed to spend some months of love in ‘love’, and the interesting thing about that is, when you are in love you don’t need that many reminders at all.  You simply need to be grateful.

Romantic life under the microscope

Valentine’s Day makes people examine their romantic life and sometimes land up feeling fed-up.  I would hope that we can rise above it and simply fall in love with ourselves which would be far better for us.  Self love builds esteem and confidence.  We are subjected to a huge amount of messages from Facebook and other channels.Almost every product, no matter has jumped on the Valentine’s bandwagon.  It is hard to avoid.

How do I choose to spend Valentine’s Day?

So despite being quite happy in a relationship myself I choose to celebrate the 14 of February by spending time with the man, but also with friends.  Let’s have a feast of love, but not make it about being paired up like the animals on Noah’s Ark.  Let’s make it about gratitude for the wonderful people we share our lives with.

Don’t spend money on overpriced and underwhelming gift items.  These won’t last in the hearts and minds of those people you truly love.  Simply tell them how grateful you are that they are in your life.

Reading through this I realise it is a bit of a rant, so apologies for ranting.  Thank you for reading my rant.

Kerry xx

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