Category: Confidence

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

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

 

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

The Magic of Three – and how this little number helps me in my day to day life.

Three is a magic number.  Or so I am told.

I have been having a bit of a tough time lately.  I had two bad falls which set me back a bit.  As I stumbled around the house trying to get focus and motivate myself, I realised that three really is my magic number in so many ways.

I make a commitment to tackle (at least) three things off my to do list every day.  It might seem little, but when you look back on the week, know that you have achieved 21 things.  By using this focus I know that I move forward.  Sometimes little and often, but I do achieve what I set out to do.

As someone suffering from chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia it isn’t always easy.  Even if I think of keeping my home tidy – it is overwhelming.  By the 7th day of concussion and I was getting frustrated.  Three things I kept telling myself.  Put a wash on, unpack the dishwasher and wipe the counter.  Then you can sit down.  A little later I tackled three computer related tasks, and after that sent three thank you messages to friends who have helped me out.

By the time I got into bed I felt a real sense of accomplishment despite the fact that I was ‘under the weather’.

The Magic of Three – in so many ways

Every night before I go to sleep I always recall three things I am grateful for.  Sometimes it is more than three, but never less.  This really puts me into such a positive place.

The more I think about it three is a number that resonates through my life.  It is a small number but a perfect number.  It is just enough but not overwhelming.  Add a few threes together and you can really rack up some impressive personal statistics.

Imagine if we saved 3 Euro a day.  That isn’t a lot – a cup of coffee.  Over a month that is 90 Euro.  Over a year it is over a 1000 Euro – more than enough for a holiday.

Three and its multiples are also a great way of dividing up your day.  As I mentioned before I need to pace myself due to my conditions.  By dividing my day into 30 and 60 minute chunks I can ensure that I get enough rest time and also get things done.

I have followed this principle for a while now and I can honestly say that 3 is my magic number.

The internet of things

The internet is awash wish apps, blog posts, and articles confirming that by simply using a formula of three we can become happier and more effective in life.

I have downloaded the 3 Good Things app for my phone and am going to see how that goes.

Before writing this blog post I did a little bit of internet research as to why 3 is a number that seems to have magical properties.

  • As a creative person I was delighted to be reminded that there are 3 primary colours
  • Almost all religions have 3 as a sacred number
  • Mathematicians will confirm that 3 is a really cool number.  It is the first prime number and of course is the first number that forms a geometric shape – the triangle

So many things come in threes – here are a few random ones that delighted me.

  • The beginning, the middle and the end
  • The past, the present and the future
  • The three bones in the human ear
  • The three little pigs
  • The beauty of 3 dimensions
  • And of course the perfect 3  minute egg.

Frivolity aside, I am happy that I have the number three in my life.  It really helps me to pace myself, feel productive and puts me in a lovely positive mindset as I am reminded daily that we have at least three things to be grateful for.

Thank you so much for reading xx

Kerry

 

Yes, you can still be fabulous even if you have UI

 

I am determined to be fabulous no matter what.  For many woman that no matter what includes Urinary Incontinence (UI).  It is something we feel ashamed about and don’t like to talk about. A little while ago I was approached by Always Discreet to write a blog post about it.  I thought about it quite a bit, because even for me this was very bold and brave.  The reason I decided to talk about it was because it is a real issue.  It affects so many woman and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.  We should be able to access the solutions and still be fabulous.

This year I was approached by the fabulous glossy – Irish Country Magazine.  They wanted to feature me in an article about Urinary incontinence.  Again I hesitated.  I remembered the response I received after publishing the last blog post.  It was all very positive.  Woman were thanking me for speaking out.

The latest issue of Irish Country Magazine is on the shelves this week and my little case study is featured.  It is an honour to be included and ‘you know what’ I am proud to be talking about this important subject.

We do all deserve to be fabulous no matter what is going on behind the scenes.

Thank you so much for continuing to read my blog and to support me.

Kerry xx

Do more of what makes you happy

What does happiness mean to you.  It is different for each and every one of us.  The one thing I know for sure is that we deserve to be happy!

For a good while I didn’t know what happiness felt like and when, one day I was sitting alone drinking tea and eating a scone I realised that I was happy, and that I deserved to be happy.

Today is World Happiness Day and I am celebrating by doing a little more of what makes me happy.  I have been for a swim, I have cooked a yummy pot of tomato and roasted red pepper soup and I am simply being me.

This evening I will find time to make art and of course spend time with human and furry people who mean so much to me.  I have even arranged a Skype call with my son who is busy with college.

So my quotation today is simply

Do more of what makes you happy.

Imagine if we made a conscious effort to do one thing to make both ourselves and others happy every day.  I bet it would be a wonderful ripple effect and make each day a little brighter.

Thank you for reading my blog – which makes me happy!

Kerry x

Talking about the importance of Body Confidence

I am body confident.  But, it hasn’t always been that way.

The irony is that when I had no confidence I actually was within a normal weight range, was much younger, and probably on the surface had a lot going for me.  Inside though my confidence – or lack of it messed up so many relationships, fuelled an unhealthy relationship with food and contributed to depression that was my black dog for many years.

Now I am 52, overweight, a few grey hairs, a few wrinkles and I have body confidence.

What really changed to give me body confidence?

What really changed?  I have given this a lot of thought.

I have waded through photographs of myself taken over the last 50 odd years looking for answers.  The only answers I got were that over the years my body has got less perfect (when measured up against the norm).  If the answer wasn’t in physical appearance then where was it?

I started to think about the people in my life at various stages.  It was at this point that some answers started to appear through the mist.  Where were the people who loved me unconditionally?  Where were the people who believed in me wholeheartedly?

It is very important to make a statement here.  Each person’s belief system is unique and individual to them.  Belief is the subject of another blog post in the future, but what I really want to emphasise here is that it wasn’t about the people who supported or believed in me, it was about my perception that they did.

Even if someone loves you unconditionally and supports you – and you don’t feel it or believe it then it doesn’t count as far as body confidence goes.

You need to know that there are people around you that support you.  It needs to be obvious support.  Compliments, affirmations lots of positive feedback.

Of course this is only part of it.  A huge part of body confidence comes from within.  That within needs feeding though.  It needs feeding by others and by you.

The media  and other voices and how they affect and body confidence

The media is constantly showing us unrealistic beauty.  We know it is airbrushed, but regardless this feeds into negative self-confidence.

It is more than just the media though.  People who are around you can affect the way you feel about yourself, especially if your self-confidence is low.

I have to share a little story about just that.  I was visiting my sister in Dubai – which is hot!  She said I must definitely bring a swim suit.  Well I hadn’t worn one in years.  I bought one online and felt very self-conscious wearing it.  I wrapped myself in a sarong and towel and headed outdoors for a dip.  The only ‘person’ around was the cat!  Well you know what cats are like – he looked me up and down and I felt awful.  Because, my inner self-confidence was in shreds.

Be that person that builds body confidence in others

My request today is that you decide to be the person that builds other people up.  This is more important even than remaining neutral.

Young girls are having issues with body confidence all the time.  They compare themselves to others, to people on TV and on social media and are made to feel that they are not good enough.

Although I know that self-confidence must come from within, I strongly believe that feeding anyone with a diet of compliments, positivity and unconditional friendship will go a long way to building body confidence.

I am so grateful to the people in my life, from boyfriends (and yes I mention this first as you need a lot of body confidence to get naked), family, friends and colleagues who have spent the time to like a photo on Facebook, and tell me I am looking good.  The times when someone has complimented me on what I am wearing or told me how a blog post I have written has helped them.

Feed your friends a diet of positivity.  They will really appreciate it.

I know for me once I heard it often enough I started to believe it and that is when the shift happened for me.  There were other tools I used including counselling too. It is never simple, but it has to start somewhere.  Receiving a compliment is a great place to start.

This body I stand in today is mine, and I am proud of it.  Every dimpled cellulite bump, wrinkle and pound.  Even my freckles which I have been trying to get rid of for years.  I have body confidence but it took a long time to get it.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share so we can spread this message about body confidence around the internet.

Kerry xx

Believe in yourself, and always wear your invisible crown

I am proud of being a woman.  It isn’t an easy job, but it is certainly one worth doing.

I am a Mom, a sister, a daughter and a friend.  I am also a girlfriend, a colleague. I am a marketer, a blogger and a writer.

Most of all though I am strong.

I am plus sized.  I battle with my weight.  I battle with my health, and I have a history.

All of this just makes me stronger.

If there was one piece of advice I could give today – International Women’s Day it would be to value yourself.

Always wear your Invisible Crown.

I came across this quotation years ago and it immediately resonated with me.  By wearing my crown (and I have a few real ones as well as my precious invisible one), you are placing a value on yourself.  You are saying I am worth it – no matter what anyone else thinks or implies. (This even featured on one of my earliest blog posts)

If every young girl today, growing up with the pressure of social media and the celebrity culture could understand her true value she would be guaranteed to grow into a strong and beautiful woman.

Today it is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating women in my life.  Those that have touched me in small and big ways and inspired me to keep going and to believe in myself.

I am also celebrating me.  Wearing my invisible crown and knowing that I am worth it.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Kerry x

Where Women Inspire – a report on a wonderful event!

womensinspire-1

Women Inspire – it’s that simple.  I am privileged to be a member of the Women Inspire Network on Facebook and Twitter where I receive daily inspiration.

The privilege was even greater when I was honoured to speak at the recent Women Inspire Event – From Kitchen Table to Building an Empire, held at the City North Hotel in Dublin.

I have to admit I was excited and then intimidated to share the stage with women that I admire.  Anna Scheller came over from Texas to give us some awesome tips on sales, Lilach Bullock, one of Forbes Top 20 Women Social Media Power Influencers flew in from London.  (more…)

Dating in your 50s – Part 2

 

Getting ready for a date when you are 50 plus gave me some challenges.

a-guide-to-dating-in-your-50s-part-2When you are over 50 chances are that you are not as happy with your body as you were in your twenties.  Things have sagged, bagged and expanded, not necessarily in that order.

I thought I would share a little story about getting ready for a particular date.  Spoiler alert – it was a one-off date.

Don’t despair though for every date that doesn’t pan out – you are one step closer to one that does.

The date …

I rushed home from work, threw myself into the shower and washed my hair.  I have this idea in my head that my hair and my cleavage are my best assets so all date outfits and arrangements start with that!

After pouring myself into my date bra – push them up and make them proud, I started on the make-up.  I love make-up it always makes me feel a little bit prettier.  Tonight’s date was with a man whom I had been corresponding with for a few weeks.  He seemed well read and intelligent.

I made a snap decision – I was going to wear contact lenses.  I very rarely do for reasons that will be revealed but I guess I was feeling a bit insecure and thought that the make-up might shine brighter when not hidden behind metal frames.

Breathe.  I was nervous and had to drive a half an hour to the meeting point at a random pub that seemed to be half way for both of us.  I grabbed my phone as I needed to keep an eye on work emails and realised that I couldn’t read my phone with my contacts in.  Like many of us over 50s I wear varifocals.  The contacts were only my distance prescription.

Time was ticking as I panicked over a solution.  Luckily I lived in the middle of the town and flew down to the chemist as it was closing asking for granny glasses (over the counter reading specs). I grabbed a pair that matched my coat and went to pay.  I glanced down at my phone. It was now twice the size and curved.  I had grabbed a pair that was far stronger than I needed.  The kind assistants made the swap and I was off on my date.

It was an awful drive.  The heavens opened and visibility was bad.  I didn’t know where I was going which didn’t help at all.

(Just an aside – after this date I made a decision that I wouldn’t travel – if they wanted to meet me – they could find their way to a place I could walk to!)

I finally made it into the pub and all I wanted was a nice calming drink but of course I had to drive back.  Blinking to keep the contact lenses in place I was at least glad that he had arrived first.

We didn’t gel.  I employed all my conversational skills over a soft drink and excellent fish and chips (chosen because it was what he chose and I couldn’t read the menu without the granny glasses).  It was simply hard work.

Dating in your 50s is hard work

At this point my next conversational gambit was delivered and landed like a lead balloon.  “I think there is a reason that dating normally happens in your 20s or 30s.  It takes a lot of energy and can be hard work.”

Perhaps I didn’t mean it so directly but I still stand by that sentiment.  It is hard work, but ultimately it is worth it.  I have met some amazing friends and some more than friends.

Suffice to say that date ended pretty quickly after that and I drove home, removed the lenses from my scratchy eyes and settled down to a nice cup of tea.

I waited a couple of days before diving into the dating pool again.

If you would like to read my previous dating post have a peek here

Thanks for reading and please come back for more dating in your 50s advice and adventures.

Kerry x

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