Category: Confidence

Social Isolation – the curse of the self-employed

Social Isolation is a phenomenon that is often associated with the elderly.  I do believe that it effects many other people too and can be a curse of those working from home.  This is a long post, but I really hope you read it through to the end.

Social Isolation

I had a visit from a very wise friend recently.  We were chatting about my new circumstances.  A quick update for anyone who may not know I had to give up work in December due to ill health.  I am now ‘pottering about’ doing a bit of writing, working on my blog and exploring opportunities for the future where I can create an new career where I can work part time, but also on my own timetable to fit it with when I feel well enough.

My friend listened to what I had to say and then asked me about social isolation.  I laughed and said oh don’t worry about me I am very outgoing and I am always out and about.  This isn’t entirely true as sometimes I am physically too sore to do too much.

Working from home is becoming more and more commonplace both for the self-employed and for people who have the option offered by their employers.  There are great perks.  You can put a wash on between calls, nip out to collect the kids from school or even to buy a bottle of milk.

There are downsides too and social isolation is one of these.  Social isolation is defined as the complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. It differs from loneliness, which reflects a temporary lack of contact with other humans.

Social isolation isn’t a choice, it is something that creeps up on you while you are busy.

I strongly believe that there are degrees of social isolation.  An ‘at home’ worker can spend hours a day alone.  I am quite happy with my own company for much of the time, however the value of social interaction is huge.

Spending time with colleagues and friends is one of the best forms of communication.  Conversation sparks ideas and thoughts and generally gets us out of ourselves.

Social isolation can lead to depression, social anxiety and a loss of self-esteem.  This can result in the ultimate vicious circle where you might become more reluctant to interact socially and withdraw even more.

Since I have been ‘home alone’ for the last six months I have been very conscious of the fact that I no longer need to get up in the morning, do my hair and make-up and go off to work.  Although I have not missed all the office politics, I have missed the chats around the kettle, lunches with colleagues and meetings. I have also missed getting dressed up.

I just love meetings.  I love the interaction and flow of ideas.  I enjoy deadlines and the challenges of working as a team to beat them.

So how to ensure that we don’t suffer from  social isolation?

  1. Go to an opening of an envelope

My partner says this what I do.  Seriously though if there is any opportunity to interact I take it.  I have attended coffee mornings, focus groups, blogger events and meet-ups.

Martha Fraser who recently organised the Shine Adventure an event for online businesses facilitates free meet-ups in different areas.  A couple of hours and a cup of coffee with online colleagues – a great idea.

The Women’s Inspire Network started by Samantha Kelly (aka Tweeting Goddess) also holds great networking and inspirational events.

 

  1. Become a lady who lunches (or a gentleman)

Lunch or even a morning coffee (or tea and a scone if you are me) is a great way to break up the day and to have a good natter.  I have been very brave and grown my network by simply asking.  If I have been following someone online that is very interesting, I will call up and ask them to meet me for lunch.  What is the worst that can happen?  They could say no or perhaps they will say yes and you will have made a new friend and contact.

  1. Beware social media it is a joy and a curse

I really enjoy social media and see a huge value in it both in terms of keeping up with friends and family and making new connections.  I have a wonderful group that I created with a friend called Fabulous Woman – it inspires me every day.

The key with social media is to know how much is enough?  I aim to spend enough time to be inspired and connected without spending so long that I start suffering from FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) and a feeling of isolation – where I start to imagine the whole world is having a better time with more friends and more cocktails than I ever will.

 

I love linking point 2 and point 3.  Meet someone on Social media and take it off-line – invite them to tea!

 

  1. Keep a diary and keep it full enough

A diary has been my constant companion in all the years I worked.  It still is.  It is a great way of not only organising yourself, but also creating balance in your life.  I try to schedule at least one – out of the home office – activity a week.  Keeping a diary also helps to track what I do work on, so at the end of the week I can sit back and reflect on what I have achieved and what did and didn’t work.

  1. Keeping up with friends and family – thank you Skype

I also use my diary to remind myself (I suffer from the odd bit of brain fog) to set up calls with my family and friends far and wide.  We are lucky to live in an age of technology where you can have a chat with an old school friend as though they were in your living room.  I have even carried the iPad around the house showing off my cooking prowess.

  1. Walking and exercise

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am an avid convert to the daily walk.   I try to get out every day dodging the showers if necessary.  I was walking a couple of days ago, enjoying the sunshine in my bright blue coat.  I smile and say hi to anyone I pass on the road.  I was walking along in the town and a gentleman looked at me and said – my you have a happy face.  I wished him happy Monday and moved on.

 

These are some tips and ideas that I have used and would suggest.  There is a way to prevent social isolation when you are working from home, and I do believe it needs to be a conscious choice.

May is mental health month and as someone that has suffered with depression over many years I think it is important that we raise awareness for mental health.

Thank you for reading

 

Kerry x

 

Believe in yourself – we all deserve to feel beautiful

Model for a Day(Including before and after pics)

Believe in yourself.  Rather easier said than done.  I have struggled with self-esteem especially related to body image and my looks for as long as I can remember.

I know it will be hard for many people to believe as I appear bubbly and outgoing but for much of my life I have avoided mirrors and weighing scales.  I reached rock bottom in terms of self-esteem about five years ago.  My marriage was crumbling, my weight was ballooning  and I got to a point where make-up was something that gathered dust in the cupboard.

I remember going to a family function and making a real effort with lots of eye make-up including liquid liner.  My eyes were just not used to it.  One eye started watering and then I managed to poke myself in the eye with the mascara wand on the other and had to start again.

Before and afterWhen I was putting this post together I decided to be brave and include a photo from this time of my life.  I couldn’t find one.  I had such a negative belief in how I looked that I had gone through Facebook and untagged any image of me – just to make sure that nothing ‘ugly’ popped up.

I am extremely grateful for the wonderful people around me who have supported me over the last while.  I have worked hard to reach where I am now.  I have fallen in love with make-up again and I honestly believe that we all deserve to look good.  And, more importantly we all deserve to feel fabulous.

I met Natalie Greer at an ITWBN blogger event a year ago.  Natalie is a photographer and we got talking about boudoir shoots (you now the sexy ones).  It got me thinking about how confident you would need to be to do something like that.

The more I thought about it the more I felt that every woman deserves to feel truly special and in my head being a model for a day would be something special.  True beauty and fabulousness comes from within, I know.  However in the society we live it so much pressure is placed on body image and looks that it is important to feel good about yourself.

For some people this might be creating something, or doing something for a good cause, but for me it included looking good, and more importantly feeling good about myself.

Something new and exciting is happening …

I am also embarking on something new in the career line where I will be combining my experience with some new training to offer personal branding services – something that I really believe in.  The more I researched this, I realised that we are a brand ourselves and our image – photo – is part of this brand.

I felt both brave and excited the morning of the shoot.  I had a little suitcase packed with a couple of outfits and accessories and of course my bulging make-up bag.  As I was driving I looked down at my hands and panicked.  My nails are in a dreadful state.  Due to conditions like pernicious anaemia and arthritis and the drugs I need to take, my nails are brittle, ridged and in some cases very short.

I quickly pulled into a pharmacy and bought myself a packet of stick on nails.  Now I was ready for my photo shoot.

Natalie Greer - Always wear your invisible crownThank you to Natalie, for making it so special, and to everyone who has already liked the profile pic on Facebook.  I love the image with me wearing my crown – it reminds me of where all this started.  My first really well read blog post was all about wearing your invisible crown.

Thanks so much for reading this and for looking at my photos.  I really do appreciate the feedback.

I am working on a blog post about personal branding which will include a free downloadable personal branding questionnaire.  So please check back in or subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss it!

Thank you again for your support on my journey.

Kerry x

 

Driving Safely on Thin Ice

chill_icy_kerryBeing a South African I was not always (and to be honest am still not) confident driving in bad weather.  Driving safely isn’t as easy as it seems.

One morning a few years ago, I woke up bright and early to a frosty morning and got ready to go to work and take my son and his friend to school.  We never got to school that day.

Half way my car slipped on black ice and turned over.  I will never forget the sensation of rolling and all I could think of was the kids who were screaming.

Thankfully the car came to rest and didn’t go any further as that would have meant landing in a lake.  It is the weirdest sensation – we landed with the car on its side.  I tried to reach for my handbag and couldn’t get to my phone.

Other drivers stopped and helped get my son and his friend out of the car.  I was stuck and had to wait for the emergency services.  On that long drive in the ambulance on the way to town I had over an hour to think.  What could I have done differently and how could I have adjusted my driving to avoid this happening again.

Getting confidence to drive again

It took over a month before I had the confidence to drive again and when I did it was January and more icy than ever.  If I woke up in the morning and there was frost outside I froze inside.  Froze with fear that it would happen again.

At this point I lived in Connemara – which is far from everywhere.  There was no choice I had to drive and in order to do that I needed the skills to ensure that I wouldn’t crash.

On the day of the accident I was driving really slowly which was why we were all ok apart from bumps and bruises. So driving slowly wasn’t enough.

I was advised to drive with my gears rather than my brake.  Easier said than done.

A few weeks into the new year I had opportunity to test my new skills.  We set off to school.  Passed the scene of the accident and my confidence started to build.  When we turned onto the coast road it was solid white ice.  We were literally driving on a skating rink.

Even writing this now years later, the fear is real.  I crawled along the road – in a low gear- and tried to keep it together for the boys.  There came a point when I had to pull over – simply to rest and cry and to do this I had to brake.  I changed down gears safely, indicated and pulled onto the side of the road.  After pulling myself together I re-joined the line of cars and dropped the boys safely to school.

I am delighted that my driving tip has been included in a mini e-book published by Chill Insurance.  I think we all need to be aware of hazards like bad weather than can make driving a challenge.

Download the book here.

chilldrivesafely

Thanks for reading and for your ongoing support.

Kerry x

You are never too old to learn

become like a bird

 

I remember hearing this saying – You are never too old to learn – when I was much younger.  I must be very honest and say that at the time (when I thought that 50 was very old), I thought that it wasn’t true – now I know different.

I remember looking at my parents and grandparents and thinking that they were old.  I couldn’t imagine them learning anything.

Thankfully I matured and now that I am a certain age, I certainly don’t think that I am old at all! (Although I am now older than my parents were when I was twenty).

I digress.  The one thing that I have learnt as I have matured is that you are never too old to learn.  I have also learnt that learning is fun and it makes you feel young.  It is a bit like body fitness.  You need to exercise.  I think we need brain fitness too.

 Become like a bird,

expand your wings,

learn new things

and fly as high as you can

When I came across this quote it really resonated with me and made me realise that no matter what happens in life, there are so many opportunities to learn new things.  With knowledge comes opportunity and the possibility of new adventures.

Thinking back to my teenage years learning involved books, photocopying and writing.  I have an old history project of mine complete with drawings traced from library books.  We are really so lucky now that we have access to a world of knowledge from the comfort of our homes.  It is all there online, and I for one am both aware and grateful for that knowledge.

Our brains are like a muscle, they need exercise and like any fitness regime, an exercised brain starts working so much better.

I know a few people who have returned to college as mature students exercising the muscle that is the brain and delighting in the love of learning.

I don’t know if a return to college is in my future, but I do know that I am really enjoying learning about new things. I am setting myself a little study schedule and know how it feels to go to bed with a tired and well exercised mind.

Thanks for reading and feel free to drop me a line to tell me what you are learning.

Kerry x

 

 

 

Looking back – my life age 5 years and 20 days

Age 5 and 20 days

A few days I unpacked a box and found a pile of old school reports.  I laughed when I read this one dated from when I was 5 and 20 days.  I really haven’t changed much.  It has me wondering how much of our personalities are formed so very young.  I have also been contemplating how we lose confidence as we get older.

I have typed the whole thing out, for the amusement of my readers (especially those who have known me for many years).  I know I still look for validation and still stress out when I lose things.  I still don’t like cocoa.

For many years I believed that physical activity and sport were something I could not do.  I am glad I am walking now and keeping myself as fit as possible.  I still, of course love making things and painting!

My challenge to you is to dig out your old school reports and take time to reflect. (I also had to dig out my nursery graduation photo too.)

Half Yearly Report:

Name:  Kerry Manning

Height: 44 and 5/8”

Weight: 47lbs

Feeding:  Her appetite s good, she enjoys all fruit.  She has milk and cocoa but does not particularly enjoy the latter.

Cloakroom:  She is fairly independent and quick during this routine.

Emotional development:  Kerry is a happy and cheerful little girl.  She does however get very upset if anything goes wrong or if she loses an article of clothing.  She is still a little shy and tense when faced with unfamiliar situations.

Social Development:

  1. Relationship with adults: She is friendly and co-operative, who likes to win praise and to gain the attention of staff.
  2. Relationship with children: Kerry enjoys the company of other children. She is less reliant on Frances now and more independent in forming her own social contacts.

Language:  She has a slight lisp.  She is inclined to speak very quickly which makes her speech rather indistinct.   Her vocabulary and she conversed freely.

Play Interest:

  1. Indoor: Kerry enjoys completing the puzzles.  She is interested in all the manipulation sense training toys.  She likes to draw and colour in.
  2. Outdoor: She plays imaginatively in the Wendy House with a group of children.  She enjoys all forms of sand and water play.  Kerry is fairly agile and she uses the physical equipment with increasing confidence.

Organised activities: She loves making things and is very proud of the results she achieves.  She frequently paints and a certain amount of form and detail is evident.

Rings:

  1. Songs: She enjoys singing and is more willing to take an active part.
  2. Music: When she concentrates, Kerry’s sense of rhythm is fairly good. She participates with enthusiasm.
  3. Stories: Kerry is an attentive listener she has a good memory for detail.
  4. PT: She joins in happily and her muscle co-ordination is fairly.

General:  Kerry has made a good adjustment to Nursery School.  She needs encouragement to attempt unfamiliar things and is inclined to say ‘I can’t’ before trying.

I really haven’t changed that much to be honest.  I have learnt a few lessons from this old school report and writing this blog post.

Thanks for reading, and those who know me well, I would love your feedback.

Kerry x

 

The importance of valuing yourself

Put a price on your head and keep it!When I was a little girl, I battled with self confidence.  I am not being self serving here when I say that I honestly believed that I was fat and not very pretty.  I urge every person reading this blog post to go and dig out a picture of your younger self and look at it with adult eyes.  You might be surprised.  We don’t always value ourselves as we should.

My granny always said, ‘put a price on yourself, and keep it’.  When I was very young I wasn’t quite sure what she meant.  With the benefit of hindsight and remembering the context, I think she was talking about dating and not giving of yourself too freely!

This message, my quotation this Wednesday, is very true of so many other areas of our lives.  I know that I have had to learn to value myself more.

 Know what I am worth in the workplace both in terms of money and respect.

Know what I deserve in a relationship and be prepared to wait for it.

Know what I deserve in terms of respecting my body, and feeding myself with healthy food, and doing some exercise.

As a blogger I also need to value what I do and respect my readers.  I was recently asked to write a post (a quite contraversial one coming up soon).  I thought about it very carefully and decided that I would write the post as it is in line with the context of my blog, and it is something I can honestly endorse.  I did however request payment.  I politely wrote back and outlined the benefits of working with my blog, my reach and my rate.  I was delighted to receive a positive response.  I value myself, and through that people will value me.

‘Granny, in all respects of my life, I have put a price on myself and I will keep it – head held high!’

Thank you for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts when you have looked at your old photos.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Kerry xx

 

The awkward subject of woman’s facial hair – Tinkle Razor review

A smooth cheek thanks Twinkle Twinkle (2)

Woman’s facial hair is something that we don;t talk about.  We sneek off for a lip wax or discreetly buy hair removal cream.

I am quite fair and facial hair only became a problem a few years ago.  Not sure if it was because of age, medication or the fact that I was taking Biotin as the hair on my head was falling out from Methotrexate.

I had this really fine, blond, but thickening – dare I say it – moustache!   I started waxing.  Ouch!  then I tried threading – double ouch.  The problem was I waxed it grew back.  I am sure nobody was aware of it as much as I was, but it made me really self conscious.

I started to have a close relationship with my tweezers as every time a witchy hair appeared on my chin I freaked out and plucked..

When I got brave enough to talk about this awkward subject I realised that many woman struggle with facial hair.

The final straw came when I realised that I had a fine peach fuzz along my cheek bones.  I started doing some research.  The celebrities have started shaving.  It appears that even Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor did it!.  Read all about the trend in the NY Times.

Shaving your face as a woman seems to have loads of advantages including exfoliation, younger looking skin and smoother application of make-up.

Well I could now imagine myself standing in front of the mirror like my Dad with a face full of foam pulling funny faces to stretch out my skin and get a close shave.  Shudder there must be a solution.

And then, one night on twitter i ‘met’ Tinkle Razor.  Would I dare try it?  The delightful Tinkle Razor challenged me and posted me a set of three little razors.  I was so excited the night they arrived I only stopped for a minute to take a photo of my peach fuzz cheek.

I have given it a month, so I know that the regrowth for me is very slow, and when it grows back it is soft and downy still.

I am converted.  I have smooth skin and am far less self conscious.  Pucker up and come close I am confident enough for a kiss.

It is really affordable and costs around a fiver for 3.  Take a peek here

Go on try it – I dare you.

Kerry

Talking about blogging, and more on the Radio

Kerry Manning talks to Angela Faull on the Chatroom on CRCfm 102.9 by Crcfm on Mixcloud

 

I was delighted to talk to the lovely Angela Faull on CRCfm – the local community radio station in Castlebar.

I really love blogging and sharing ideas and this was a fantastic opportunity to have a chat.  I honestly forgot it was going out live on the radio until it was over.

We started talking about blogging but, Angela is a skilled interviewer and I landed up talking about some subjects like depression and pain, that I normally shy away from. We also talked about friendship and how I learned the joy of walking.

I would love it if you would have a listen, and would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks for listening.

Kerry xx

Sexy girls wear glasses

sexy specs (2)

I wear glasses, most of the time anyway.  I have been wearing them since my early twenties, and even though I do have contacts, I tend to stick to my specs.  They are comfortable and most importantly I can see!

It’s funny though everytime there is a special occasion or I want to impress I tend to reach for my contacts, and then land up in a restaurant not being able to read the menu (big secret my glasses are varifocals).  I squint to read text messages and am ever grateful for the fact that by flicking the volume button in a text message I can enlarge the font to headline size.

I digress, bottom line is I feel most comfortable in glasses – so my quest is to feel sexy and fabulous wearing them.

A quick search on the internet found this fabulous article on Buzz Feed with a cool slider thingy.  Check out these celebrities with their glasses on and their glasses off.  So cool, and honestly in most of the pics I would choose glasses!

sexy eyesThe second great reason to wear glasses is you can go all out on the eyemake-up.  Think smouldering lashes and sexy liner.  At a recent make-up demonstration at Matt ‘o Flaherty’s in Galway with the fabulous Stephan Ulvund Øien from Isadora I learnt about tight lines.  It took me a while to get back in and buy my waterproof black liner, but I am so very glad I did.  It has taken a bit of practice, but I am delighted with the results.  And most importantly it lasts all day.

As my sexy glasses confidence has grown, I have also got bolder with colour.  I generally stick to neutrals, but the summer palette from Isadora has had me experimenting and having a bit of fun.  I am not suggesting catwalk crazy eyes, but a subtle blend of some fun summery colours makes me feel fresh.

Lashings of mascara are also an essential to make sure that your eyes are not overshadowed by your frames.

Finally, and I am not great at this, but don’t forget your lips.   A nice strong lip colour will help to balance your face.

My very own sexy glasses come from Eye World here in Westport.  A big thank you to them for allowing me to take pictures in their fab shop.

Thanks for reading, and please if you get a chance leave me a comment letting me know if what you think.  Can glasses be sexy?

 

Kerry x

 

Why I am no longer scared of change

Making a big life change is scary, but (2)Change is something I have learnt to embrace.  It isn’t easy, and I still find it a huge challenge, but I have learnt that change offers opportunity.

This post is a very special Wednesday quotation as the quote in question aptly describes my life over the last few weeks.  The lesson for me has been that ‘making big life changes is scary, but what is even scarier is regret.

Let me back-track a little ….

Three years ago I chose ‘change’ as my word of the year, and experienced some extreme changes.  Over that year, I learnt to adapt and accept that things cannot stay the same if you want to grow.  2013 was the year I moved to Westport to take up a new job back in the corporate world.  It has been a fabulous experience, and I have really loved the challenges that working in corporate finance gave me.  I am proud of how much I have learnt, and extremely grateful to the Westport for welcoming me.

Now it appears that I need another change in my life to continue my journey.  I am delighted to share that I have a new job, with an exciting Irish company.  I will be based back in Galway and am excited about the new marketing challenges ahead.

It is scary, as I will be leaving the comfort of a job I know, great colleagues, and of course the wonderful friends I have made here.  Westport is a town I have grown to love.

I am not moving yet, as I like to take my change slowly.  First the job, and then the move I, tell myself.

On the plus side, I am delighted to be returning to beautiful Galway.  My son, my sister, lots of friends old and new and of course the fabulous attractions all await just a county away.

If you are facing change, be brave.  I know it isn’t easy, and a little part of me is dreading it, but there is another part of me that is very excited.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

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