Fat people can exercise and enjoy it!

 

Yes, I am fat.  I have struggled with my weight my whole life.  Knowing what I know now, I wish that I had figured out how happy keeping moving makes me years ago.

A few weeks ago someone asked me what exercise I did.  I answered that I jumped on my mini trampoline.  You could actually see the images in her mind as she tried to visualise me on a trampoline.  It is not that I jump up and try touch the ceiling – what I do could probably be defined as jogging in one place.  With the huge benefit of less pressure on my arthritic joints. (I previously wrote about the benefits of rebounding (trampoline jumping) here.)

My biggest fear

I am afraid of loosing my mobility.  In fact, I have lost some already and have issues with balance and pain when walking.  I use a stick for any distance, or in areas where I am unfamiliar.  At first, I was embarrassed, and ashamed that I needed a stick to walk.  In Manchester with my son and I asked him – do you mind that I need a stick to walk?  His answer (he is very straightforward):  ‘At least when you walk with Stan (the stick) you walk faster.’  To be honest at least when I walk with a stick I get out and do it!

Anchoring habits

I knew I had to get moving and at the same time I knew that I needed to incorporate exercise into  my daily routine in a way that I would enjoy it and that it would become a habit.  When I get up in the morning, my first thought is tea, and then breakfast as I have a number of medications to take that need food.  The next thing I would do is write my journal.

In order to incorporate exercise effectively I decided to anchor my trampoline sessions to these two activities.  It is no fun jumping on a full stomach, so first thing in the morning I come downstairs and straight onto the trampoline.  Sometimes I jump to breakfast TV and other times set up a YouTube concert to inspire me.  By doing this first, I get it done and am rewarded with breakfast and some quiet time with my journal afterwards.

What to wear to exercise?

For many years I used the excuse of not having workout gear.  Thankfully times have changed and there is a great range of exercise gear at companies like Oxendales in all sizes.  The truth is that you don’t need special clothes to jump at home.  Just be comfortable and wear a good bra!

Footwear is another matter.  It is really important to look after your feet – especially as you get older and most exercise requires good supportive and comfortable footwear.  I am delighted with these blue grey shoes gifted to me by Hotter.  I could walk for miles in them, and the extra bonus is that they look great with jeans or jeggings.  They  haven’t been off my feet since they arrived.

My fab footwear are called Flow Shoes and are lightweight, flexible and trendy.  They come in three colours – Sky Blue (my choice), black and pebble grey.

Check out their range online at www.hotter.com.  They have a wide range of sizes and widths and a superb delivery service.

Although this is a sponsored post and the shoes were gifted to me, the story is my own.  I hope to share more episodes of my health and fitness journey with you here.

Thanks for reading – I am off to jump!  Yes, fat people can exercise.

Kerry xx

Unplugged in Mabalingwe


It is ok to be unplugged!  To leave behind responsibilities and that fine but strong thread that ties us to the online world.  It isn’t easy though.

The lure of the African bush

When we started planning our trip to South Africa, I just knew I wanted time in the bush.  Time to get back to my roots and feel ‘African’.  It is hard to describe the assault to the senses that sunset in the bush is – it’s the smell of the soil and the aroma of smoke as the fires crackle for night-time braais (BBQs).  The gentle sun on my skin, and the sparkle that the sun creates as it touches the leaves in the trees and kisses the water.  It is the taste of a cold beer, or glass of wine and the company of good friends.  And, It is even the laugh as you look behind you and find a family of warthogs wanted to join in.

Dreams do come true and we had our bush experience at beautiful Mabalingwe, a nature reserve in the Swartberg Mountains in Limpopo Province in South Africa.

Letting go

We shopped, we packed and set off on our journey.  It is funny that the first thing we seem to do when we get anywhere is to check our phones.  And when we got settled in to our gorgeous cottage, we had nothing.  No signal at all!   Between us we tried all sorts of positions and combinations but to be honest no matter what we tried it didn’t work.  Standing on my tip toes with my head angled towards I don’t know what, I managed to send a message that we had arrived safely.  We relaxed, we ate good food, we chatted and laughed and yes, had that glass of wine or two.

Mabalingwe is an amazing place, with the opportunity to go on self-drive safari.  We got up early in the morning and headed out at a slow pace, rambling along taking in all the sights, sounds and smells that epitomise the African bush.  Lucky for us, we saw some amazing sights including my two favourite animals, zebra’s and giraffes.

Unplugged and without transport!

I told myself I was fine, not being connected.  After a couple of days of no internet access I felt quite smug. I could do this.  That was until I finished my book on my kindle and realised I didn’t have a way of downloading a new one.

On Monday I needed to confirm that the hire car I had booked would be delivered.  Now my stress levels started rising.  I couldn’t make a clear phone call as the signal kept dropping.  I couldn’t access my emails and to be honest I didn’t feel good knowing that I was so out of touch.

Eventually I asked the hotel reception for assistance and some hours later the car turned up.  Sometimes we need a reminder of how things were done before mobile phones arrived.

To celebrate the arrival of the car, we visited Vultures View – the amazing pub that is literally in the sky and offers great service, good food and views begging to be posted on Instagram.  And, we discovered, the best WiFi!

I downloaded a book, or two, checked my mail and social media accounts and realised that truthfully, I hadn’t missed much.

Choosing to be unplugged

For the balance of the week, I chose to be unplugged (almost 24/7).  It was quite freeing to know that scrolling through my phone was pointless.  Instead I read lots of books and took time to simply do nothing.

I also, treated myself to a couple of treatments at the Mbali Spa.  Self-care is a bit like being unplugged – you know you need to do it, but in the hustle of daily life it gets forgotten.  I made my choice and simply relaxed. My first treatment was a geranium and pine sugar scrub.  I felt so good after it that I booked a facial for the next day.

I must admit that every couple of days we visited the pub and ‘checked-in’.  We even got caught in the most amazing and scary thunderstorm one day, when even the higher powers unplugged the electricity.

Perhaps I need the thought of our beautiful time in the bush to remind me to stop scrolling and unplug.

Thank you for sharing my adventures.

Kerry x

 

How often do you replace your make-up?


In many cases not often enough.  I fall in love with a palette and keep going back to it.  Or sometimes I forget about something (in amongst the clutter that is my make-up table), and then find it again.

I got a harsh reminder how important this is when woke up with an infected eye and had to go ‘naked’ for a week.

Yes, I can see clearly now

A second reminder arrived on my return from holidays,when attending a routine eye screening for diabetic retinopathy.  I must admit that I had put it off and kept on postponing.  A commitment to put my health first had me booking the appointment and sunglasses in hand, I set off.

It is simple.  You receive drops in your eyes, wait twenty minutes as the pupils dilate, and then a photo is taken of the back of your eye.  Your vision is blurry for a bit and you should guard your eyes against sunlight.

Unfortunately for me something went wrong.  Within half an hour I had intense pain in my head and eye sockets and couldn’t even open my eyes without getting a wave of nausea.  Thankfully I was able to react quickly and check into A&E where I received some treatment.  It wasn’t the end of the story though as I was sent to an eye specialist the following day, to find out that there had been some eye damage which was to be treated with steroid drops.

It was scary, and a huge reminder to be grateful for the things we take for granted like sight.

I haven’t worn make-up for over a week.  I am really determined to protect my eyes.

Make-up shelf life –  how long is too long?

I did a bit of research, and what really resonated with me was to look at your make-up like food. If it smells odd, looks odd or has changed texture – throw it out.  It can also be a good idea to note the date you bought it – and then simply check back.  Storage is also important and keeping lids tightly sealed and out of direct sunlight will protect your make-up and of course your skin and eyes.

When it comes to make-up shelf life, I will be stickign to these guidelines

  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner– 3 months after opening.  This is the most critical when it comes to infections as bacteria is carried back and forth on the wand.  It goes without saying that if you have an eye infection, treat yourself to a new mascara no matter how old it is.
  • Eye and lip pencils can be kept up to 2 years, if you are using a clean tip.  Invest in a great sharpener and use before each application.
  • Powder based products such as eye shadow palettes and powder brushes should keep up to 2 years, but if it smells odd (this happened to me) then throw it out.
  • Lipsticks can last up to 2 years – unless it’s your favourite colour, in which case it will be used up!  Again, keep an eye on the product and if in doubt indulge in the latest shade.
  • Foundations and concealers have differing shelf lives, normally ranging from 12 to 18 months.

Caring for your make-up brushes and using clean sponges and applicators will extend your products and keep your make-up and your skin in perfect condition.

I have learned my lesson and am off to tidy up my make-up table.  Thank you to Isadora Ireland and The Works PR who gifted me two fabulous new mascaras that arrived just when I needed them.  (Look out for them during May in pharmacies and Shaws as they are 50% off!)

Thanks for reading

Kerry xx

 

Meet Bev Hancock – the Woman who taught me to talk to myself

 

Friends are the true wealth, and I am privileged to have lots of riches.  This Fabulous Woman interview is with Bev Hancock, a truly wise woman who I have known since I was five years old.  We have shared a journey and she taught me a hugely valuable lesson.  (Well at least one!)

Bev taught me to talk to myself – kindly and wisely – you can read about my aha moment here.

Meet Bev Hancock, International Speaker and Masterclass Facilitator:

Q:  When we decide on something – that is really the first step to being the best version of ourselves and simply fabulous.  What makes you a fabulous woman?

A:  I think it is firstly accepting that you are indeed enough, that you are valuable and that you have a unique magic that would make the world a poorer place without you in it.  My greatest gift I bring to the world is to see the potential in others and to help them see a future they did not even dream of before – and to do this on a global stage.  I am big picture thinker, a starmaker and believe that if we buy into abundance rather than scarcity, we can all be fabulous. (more…)

Embracing JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out

I took a month off.  A month off blogging and most of social media.  I left my laptop upstairs gathering dust on my desk.

The time out from my normal routine led to great perspective and some exciting clarity.  I think it is a great idea for anyone.  We are constantly evolving and time out and a bit of rethinking is just what we need to get the next surge forward.

So, what exactly is JOMO?

Well, JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out – is basically the opposite of FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out.  I wrote about this a while back, as it was something I struggled with.  My health prevents me from doing quite a few things, and even when I say I will, I often have to cancel.  I always felt a bit peeved to be honest.  I sat at home on my sofa watching events on social media and wishing I was in the thick of it.

A shift in my thinking over the past months made me realise that it is ok not to be everywhere and that there is huge joy in simply staying at home and investing in my own life.  I love to paint, and to create and truthfully, I am so happy being creative that it’s a joy not to worry about what I might be missing out on and simply embrace the present.

I’ve taken up crochet again, as a tool to stop mindless scrolling and its is truly a joy to see the little piles of granny squares that will soon become a blanket.

I have also realised how often we don’t pay attention to the person we are with.

Mom, do you really need to Instagram that?

As a travel lover and travel blogger I love sharing my experiences, finding new vistas and new flavours across the world.  Recently I was in Manchester visiting family.  I was trying to be subtle as I snapped sights, while still enjoying this special time.  My son and I went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch.  We both love Japanese and this had become a bit of a tradition when we were together.  The food arrived, and I opened Instagram to add to my story.  Mom, do you really need to Instagram that?  I stopped short.  Of course, I didn’t.  I needed to spend special time with my son who I don’t get to see that often now he is living in another country.  I also needed to savour the aroma of the gorgeous food in front of me.

Taking time out

I took time out for January.  I didn’t blog, and I shared very little online.  I felt strong.  I felt like I was in the moment and took a huge amount of joy from it.  We had a little budget trip to Spain, a belated Christmas present, and keeping account of everything wasn’t a priority.  Yes, I did take a few snaps and shared some of it online, but I was also very conscious of simply feeling joy in the moment.

I love my blog

I have been writing my blog for nearly 4 years now.  I love how it has opened my world and brought me back to the joy of writing.  I have met so many amazing people and have had the true joy of connecting to people all over the world, as their lives touched mine, and mine theirs.

I am not giving up my blog, or social media, which I really enjoy too.  What I am doing is embracing JOMO and knowing that everything has a place in life.  I have committed to blogging at least once a month – less than I originally planned.  I will blog about things that excite me and that I cannot wait to share.  I am also committed to finishing my book (it has been a long time coming) and focussing on my art ventures.

Thank you all for your support, for following me and reading my ramblings.  My blog brings me Joy.

Between you and I have given up on FOMO.  If I am not meant to be there, then why fear missing out.  I’ll embrace JOMO and sitting by the fire, sipping on hot tea, reading a good book or simply being in the moment.

 

Kerry x

Creating Spaces for wonderful things to happen – my Word of the Year

It’s that time again.  A new year and 365 fresh days ahead.  It’s always exciting for me as it is time to choose a word for the year.

Seven years ago my life was not good.  In fact it was rather awful.  In amongst the fog I knew that something had to change and I had the idea that I could change my life one word at a time.

I chose my first word of the year, and I am happy to say that my life has changed so very much – for the better.  Last year my word of the year was content, and it was super effective.  I managed to overcome the urge to compete (mostly with myself).  I learnt to live in the moment.  Gratitude was a strong theme of my year as I embraced the now, and relished the beautiful feeling of true contentment.

My word for 2019 is Spaces

I have a little process for choosing my word.  The first thing I do is look at what needs changing.  The first word that came to mind was tidy.  I am really untidy.  It annoys me, and yet somehow I can’t seem to overcome it.  Based on the success of previous words I thought that this would be an ideal word to embrace.

As I went through the process of journaling and meditating on my word, it didn’t seem quite enough.  I tried it out in conversation, and it just wasn’t quite right.  All of a sudden the word spaces popped into my mind and I knew I had my word for 2019.

This year I will create beautiful spaces.

  • Space to grow
  • Space to exercise and do yoga
  • Space to create
  • Space to relax
  • Space in my waistband
  • Space to simply be
  • and I am sure Space for a whole lot more

There is a huge school of thought that you need to create a vacuum in order for good things to fill it.  Declutter and invite new and good things into your home.  I am certain that as I tidy and declutter and create beautiful spaces in my life, I am in for a wonderful new year.

If you would like to read about some of my other words and how they have affected my life pop Word of the Year into the search engine and all the relevant posts will come up.

I am writing a book about my experiences and the programme I follow.  It is making some progress but still needs completing.  Perhaps I need to create a space to finish my book.

This little concept has truly changed my life in such a positive way.  As a way of giving back I run a group on Facebook where I do live videos and other inspiration for people following the Word of the Year programme.  You are very welcome to join by following this link.

May I wish you a wonderful 2019.  I hope that the word you have chosen brings you lots of happiness.

Kerry xx

 

Stepping up your blog

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Sponsored post

Every blogger has a reason for starting a blog.  I started my blog shortly after turning 50 as I had a passion to communicate.  The purpose of my blog was to let people know that you could be fabulous at 50, no matter what the circumstances.

I have always loved writing and from the first day I sat down in front of my computer and wrote a post I was hooked.  I literally fell in love with blogging –the research, the photography, and the writing.  The best part however was communicating, sharing my story and learning from others.

An unexpected side of blogging which has really enriched my life is the blogging community, both online and offline.  I read blogs, I am friends with bloggers and I have wonderful support from the community which keeps me going especially when I perhaps hit a block!

Marketing your blog.

It is all very well to write a blog, but every blogger needs an audience and marketing your blog is a huge part of the process.  Finding things to write about that are relevant to your audience, working with brands and using social media to promote your blog posts is all part of the process.

I met Sinead Carroll, founder of the Irish Blogger Agency in my first year of blogging.  At this stage she was a marketing professional and blogger at Yummy Mummy.  When she set up the agency I was so excited.

I have been a member of the agency since its inception and have been delighted to be invited to a variety of blogging events and to work (on a paid basis) on a number of campaigns.  So many of us blog for pleasure but let’s be honest it is great to get some income that can be used towards hosting, and other expenses.

I have recently been involved with great campaigns with Hotter Shoes and the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown.  These collaborations were a direct result of working with the Irish Blogger agency and have allowed me to share some great products with my readers.

The Irish Blogger Agency steps it up

The Irish Blogger Agency has now introduced the most fabulous platform for connecting brands and influencers.  It is really quite simple, fill in your information, connect your social media accounts and then you are done.  It is a wonderful way of putting your blog in front of brands all over the world.  I am delighted that I joined hundreds of other bloggers and digital influencers and signed up.

I am so glad I met Sinead right at the beginning of my blogging journey.  I can now look forward to travelling with her on her own journey with the Irish Blogger Agency.

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to message me if you want to know more.

Kerry xx

This is a sponsored post, but one I would have written anyway.  Being part of the Irish Blogger Agency is a huge part of my own blogger journey.

Spend Time not Money the Christmas

When I think of Christmas I think of traditions.  Those little rituals that cause you to feel warm and happy.  For me, it’s these little  things you do year after year that make my festive season special.  Spending time rather than money

I have put together a round-up of Christmas traditions that have been part of my family for years, and others that I have gathered from other fabulous woman around the world.

Here are my top 8 Christmas traditions (in no particular order):

  1. The treat cupboard.  So many of us remember our Mom’s having a special cupboard or shelf set aside for Christmas treats.  We start buying early and slowly it fills up with lovely goodies that are only revealed on the 24 December.  I love the illicit delight of knowing that there is chocolate in the house, but it cannot be eaten.  This is a really practical tradition too – because it is a great idea to spread the cost.
  2. This leads neatly into a fabulous Christmas tradition that I started when my son was born (23 years ago). I received a book call the Ultimate Christmas Book by Jane Newdick.  In it she describes a tradition called the 13 desserts which originates in Provence.  On Christmas eve you set out a plate with a risen cake (I use a small Pantone) and 12 other treats including fruits, nuts, nougat, biscuits and more.  These are to represent Christ and the 12 Apostles.  The idea is that this plate of goodness is to be refilled over the festive season, and welcomes people to your home.  In my home it is simply called ‘the plate’ and is an essential part of Christmas.
  3. Christmas music. My guilty pleasure.  There is nothing I like more than cranking up the volume and singing along.  I wait with eager anticipation for Christmas FM to come online.  Christmas music is an absolute must when decorating the tree, cooking the turkey and wrapping gifts.
  4. Christmas Cards – giving and receiving. I think it is quite sad that the ritual of sending cards seems to be dying out.  I make my own cards and love the process of checking addresses, writing short messages and getting a pile ready for the post office.  It is a really good way of remembering people who you might not see that often and touching base at least once a year.  I also have to admit I love the thunk of a Christmas card through the door, and delight in seeing who it is from, and savouring the connection.
  5. Books and chocolate on Christmas Eve.  Although we normally allow one gift from under the tree on Christmas eve, I have recently read of the practice of receiving gifts of books and chocolates the night before Christmas and then snuggling up for a good read and a nibble.  Jolabokaflod – literally translated as book flood is an Icelandic tradition that I will definitely be adopting.
  6. Decorating the tree. We all have special dates we start, and then special traditions.  Each decoration I have is individual and many are handmade.  As each decoration come out, it tells a story.  So many of us have decorations and baubles bought to mark special occasions like the birth of a new child.  that mean a lot or decorations that hold lots of memories.  Put on the Christmas music, break out the mince pies and keep decorating.
  7. Christmas Baking. It doesn’t matter what you choose, but almost everyone you speak to has a Christmas baking tradition.  Every sense is awakened by baking – including the obvious delicious tastes and smells!  In our home we have to have homemade shortbread – which is consumed when unwrapping stockings on Christmas morning.
  8. The Gingerbread House – although this could be considered baking it isn’t really. Every year I buy a kit. Which we assemble on Christmas eve.  It has progressed from a purely Mom affair through a family construction that was more fun than beautiful to a carefully engineered construction.  I do know that it always means lots of laughs and the gift of time spent together.

Christmas is a great time to think of the people we share our life with, and to spend time, rather than money.

I would love to wish you and your family a wonderful festive season as you take time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Happy making memories.

Kerry xx

Meet Fabulous Woman Christine Webber

Welcome to my new series.  Once a month I will be interviewing Fabulous Woman from around the world.  The first in the series introduces Christine Webber,  author, psychotherapist, broadcaster and  journalist.

I few weeks ago I lost a few days, buried in Christine’s book It’s Who We Are.  In this book Christine tackles many issues facing both men and women in their fifties in the most delightful way.  This is a book you will fall into and want to spend the day reading and drinking tea.

My interview with Christine has inspired me in so many ways, to write more, to value my friendships and to perhaps be more pragmatic.

Q:  I strongly believe that being authentic, is what makes us fabulous.  And that we all deserve to feel fabulous no matter what.  What makes you fabulous?

A:  Gosh, that’s quite a difficult question. As some of your readers will know, my husband (media doctor and writer, David Delvin) died this year. He thought I was fabulous. And told me so, all the time – right up to his last days in the hospice. Living with someone who thinks you are absolutely marvellous really helps you to believe that you are. I’ve been very, very lucky. And, of course, I miss that dreadfully now. But putting that aside, I think one of the things that helps me feel great about me, is taking ballet classes. I loved ballet since I was a tiny girl, but my mother wanted me to learn the piano (which I do enjoy too) and hated the whole theatre/ballet scene that I hankered after. But eventually, I plucked up courage to go to a class when I was 63! Looking back, I think that was quite brave. So, maybe a bit fabulous. And it’s even more fabulous that I am still doing it at 71.

Q:  We are all different and that is what makes the world a wonderful place.  What would you say are the most important values that underpin who you are?

A:  I believe very strongly in decency and kindness and honesty. What upsets me most – particularly in light of the complete fiasco of Brexit this side of the water – is that I see a side to people that I find deeply worrying. It really concerns me when people become extreme in their beliefs – in whatever way they do. The other most important aspect of life for me – and I see it as the major difference between us and the animal kingdom – is, for want of a better word, culture. Art, music, literature, dance … these are vital. They transport us and feed our souls. Life without them would be intolerable.

Q:  As we go through our adult life we all reinvent ourselves – because of circumstance, and as we grow into ourselves.  How have you reinvented yourself?

A:  Oh my God, have I? Yes. Over and over and over again! I don’t want to bore you or your readers by going into this in huge detail! But, in a nutshell, I failed to make a great career in what I trained in – which was classical singing – so I tried acting, being a sales rep, a postwoman, a toy demonstrator, a piano teacher, a teacher of music in a comprehensive school etc, etc. Finally, I found I was good at being a television presenter. That was a great reinvention. I loved working in television. Still do. And though my years as a daily news presenter are way in the past. I still pop up on TV or the radio from time to time. Another reinvention was becoming an agony aunt after I left full-time television. Then, in my mid-fifties I trained as a psychotherapist and ended up writing a great deal about mental health. I also established a practice in Harley Street. Then, approaching 70, I re-invented myself as a novelist. For years, I’d focused on non-fiction and self-help books, which were published by Hodder or Piatkus. I also did some ghost writing too. But I wanted to write fiction. Neither my publishers, nor my agent, were keen on that, or believed I could do it, so I went ‘indie’ and feel I have a lot of energy now for writing stories and hope to continue till I am a hundred!

Q:  We all hit lows in life – what do you to get yourself moving and motivated again?

A:  I have always been a very up and down person. What helped me most to see myself more confidently and rationally, and act that way too, was training as a psychotherapist. I specialised in cognitive behaviour therapy. The basis of that is that we learn that ‘it’s not things that upset us, it’s our view of things’.  CBT has helped me enormously. Honestly, I think it should be taught in schools. I now subscribe pretty much to the Stoic philosophers’ way of thinking which is – basically – that everything in life is on loan. It’s not ours by right. We have it, while it is our time to have it, but when it is gone – well, it was never our entitlement in the first place, just temporary. This has been a useful way of looking at things, not least in dealing with my sense of loss since David died.

Q:  I have just finished reading your wonderful novel It is Who We Are I loved how the characters faced life in their fifties.  What inspired you to write about this generation?

A:  Well, I think mid-life is fascinating! When we hit our fifties these days, we are so very different from how our mothers were at our age. And I also think that we are amazed that life is so turbulent and busy – and that though we may have imagined we’d feel settled and have plenty of money, and have a fixed routine and lots of time for ourselves, this often isn’t the case. On the plus side, we can keep making friends, doing new things, starting new businesses, embark on love affairs with people we’d never have met, or perhaps even liked, as young people. It’s mad really, but mostly in a good way.

As a budding author, myself may I ask a few questions about writing ….

Q:  Do you have a writing routine?

A:  Not at all – especially with the events of the last couple of years. In an ideal world I would begin writing in the morning. Take a break for exercise, and write again later in the day. Also, I feel any writer’s regime should include reading novels by other people. At the moment, I only do that when I’m on a train, bus or plane! I am moving house soon and beginning my own personal fresh chapter so I will let you know if I get organised!

Q:  What do you do when you hit a block and need inspiration?

A:  Exercise – particularly a dance class – is very helpful. Also, going to the theatre or watching a good drama on the box often reveals something that is useful. Best of all perhaps, I observe myself and other people all the time. Stuff you hear, or think, or see, feeds into your brain. And will bubble up into your conscious mind when you need it. Being keenly vigilant and interested in people and life and your own emotions (without being selfishly obsessed) gives you all the inspiration you’re ever going to need.

Q: You have written both fiction and non-fiction (link to books on Amazon).  Can you tell us a bit about why you moved towards writing fiction?

A:  My very first book, published by Century (Random House) in 1987, was a novel. I had no idea what I was doing! The basic story was good though, and I have re-written it this year and it came out in early November. It’s called In Honour Bound. I wrote it when I was still a television presenter. I just assumed I would write more fiction, but becoming an agony aunt, and a psychotherapist propelled my career firmly into self-help territory and there was always a book being commissioned by someone, or a column to write, so fiction just kept being pushed out of sight and out of mind. It was only in my late sixties, with that big birthday looming, that I actually thought that if I didn’t get back to writing fiction soon, I might run out of time!

Q:  Your characterisation is wonderful, for the time I was reading I felt like I had friends who were also going through change in their fifties.  How have you handled change in your own life?

A:  Ooh, well I am quite pragmatic. I also am lucky in that I was born with lots of energy, which I still have. I think I just need to get on with things. Certainly, dealing with the change of being a single woman again – after over thirty years being joined at the hip to Lovely Husband – has been a challenge, but I have found that being as busy as possible is essential for me. Though of course you do need to allow your emotions to take over sometime. Tears have to be shed. But I do that privately.

Q:  I loved the thread in the book which highlighted how we can be inspired by a mentor in life, and of course be an inspiration.  Who is your inspiration?

A:  I have had so many people who have inspired me. I’d like to give a big shout out to teachers here. So often, they open up a world to us that our parents are not part of, or don’t want us to venture into. I can think of three teachers who changed my life. I also had a mentor in the shape of a psychiatrist and writer. His name was Jack Dominian. He taught me a huge amount and supported me at a time when life felt very difficult. But I draw inspiration from all sorts of people. I was watching a documentary on the artist Tracey Emin the other day. She said something about spirituality and layers of time-zones overlapping. And I found that inspiring. You can find inspiration all over the place. I think the thing is to make sure you’re ‘curious’. When you are, your mind is alert and you can learn stuff from the unlikeliest sources.

Q:  I have often written about the importance of friendship on my blog.  This was such a wonderful plot throughout the book.   Can you tell us what friendship means to you?

I think we need our friends more and more as we age. And writing It’s Who We Are explored that theme as you know. The most wonderful comments I’ve had about that book have come from people who said that they felt they knew and understood those characters and they’d like to make friends with them themselves! I loved that. Friendship is so enriching and vital to us. Did you know that scientists believe loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking? Real friends for many of us are more relevant and supportive to us than our families. I’m not saying that is necessarily a good thing, but it’s true for lots of individuals. Now that I am alone, I am going to move back to Norwich, which is where I had my full-time television news presenting job. I had masses of friends there. It was a very sociable company, and most of those people never left that part of the country. Also, I met my husband there when I booked him to be on a television programme with me. The good pals from that time – going back forty years – are my real, core friends. And I reached out to them – and they supported me wonderfully  – during David’s illness and death. I am going back to live among them. And I know this is absolutely the right thing for me to do. 

Thanks so much for inviting me to do this Q and A. I hope that It’s Who We Are might do well in Ireland as much of it is set there. My husband’s family came from Kerry, which is where I have located that bit of the story. The other notable thing about him was that he was a banned author – because he wrote a lot about sex, relationships, contraception and so on. He loved that status, believing himself to be in very august company! Shortly before he died, a young radio presenter did a programme about banned authors in Ireland. He described my husband as the ‘bad boy of Irish literature’! David could not have been better pleased.

In conculsion

I would like to really like to thank Christine for her honest and inspiring interview.  Give yourself or someone you care about a gift of this book.  I will be gifting myself In Honour Bound – and look foward to snuggling up with a great book and a cup of tea.

Thank you to Mairead Hearne of Swirl and Thread for nominating Christine.

Kerry xx

p.s If you would like to nominate someone to be featured in this series please get in touch by emailing me on kerryjmanning@gmail.com

 

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

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