Category: Fabulous women

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…)

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

 

Respect – my tribute to the fabulous Aretha Franklin

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody would respect me fully until I respected myself.

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

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

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

Kerry xx

Life is Fragile, and we need to treasure it.

Life is so fragile.  It may seem robust when we look at the hurley burly of traffic, deadlines and positive goal setting.  The truth is it is extremely fragile and although it is trite to say, we really only have today promised.

After returning from my adventure in South Africa, I found myself sitting on my sofa on a wet Saturday afternoon wondering.  I had such a wonderful time spending time in the country of my birth.  It was simply an awesome adventure in the sunshine.  And yet here I was in my living room, feeling a little sorry for myself.  I was surrounded by laundry drying indoors and contemplating the choices I have made in my life.

I think we all know this feeling.  The what ifs, and what could be if only something would change or was different.

Life is fragile

I then got news that a dear friend in South Africa had her life completely altered between going to bed and facing the new day.  Her husband was shot and killed.  This was a man in the prime of his life, father to two young men and husband to my friend.  His life was literally snatched and he no longer has any tomorrows.

The friends and family that are left behind have had their lives altered to such a degree that their tomorrows are dramatically altered.  A complete act of violence has created a fork in the road, and placed a road block on the original path.

This is just a huge reminder to me that life is fragile.  When I hear of tragedy and loss I am always reminded that we have an obligation to live each day with joy, remembering to be kind to others and to embrace possibility.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think it is very important to have dreams and visions and to strive to be a better person every day.  I constantly dream and plan for a future where I am living a life that is filled with all that I desire.  I work towards this too and practice journaling every day making plans for travel, work and creative pursuits.

I also continue with writing my book (almost complete now) where I share how I have changed my own life.  But, truthfully as we are reminded so often life is fragile.  It is delicate and should be nurtured and appreciated every day, and every minute of every day.

Cherishing my Adventure

I had so many wonderful experiences on my trip and I have the pleasure of being able to look back and remember them.  A bit like the song from the Sound of Music, these are a few of my favourite things.  Memories of moments, memories of people and reminders that living each day like it is your last is the only way to live this fragile life.

  • The bitter sweet taste of creamy cappuccino shared with my Mom and Dad.  Spooning the foamy froth from the bottom of the cup and relishing the bubbles popping on my tongue.
  • Sitting in my parents living room watching my son graduate with tears in my eyes because I wasn’t there, but joyful ones because I got to watch.
  • The prickle of heat sitting outside having breakfast and watching whales frolic in the ocean with my wonderful friends in Port Elizabeth.
  • Watching ice cream melt in front of me because I was so absorbed in chatting to a client in person that I had only ever met on Skype.
  • Waking up to freshly prepared fruit including African paw paw (papaya) prepared by my Dad.
  • Meeting my Facebook friends in real life.
  • Presenting my Deep Dive events and getting to know such wonderful woman, and understanding the value of woman who support woman.
  • Taking my joy of craft to a new audience.
  • I know I ate far too much cake, but I have no regrets.  The cake that was served with two forks for sharing was always the best.
  • I felt so connected to my African roots in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve watching and photographing my favourite zebras and then laughing so much when it was pointed out that the Zebra in front of my lens was excited and showing off his private parts!
  • I had really special times that were not traditionally high points.  Spending time working alongside my old friends, and simply chatting.
  • I drank many cups of tea and spent many hours just being with the people who are special and the richness of my life.
  • I saw old friends and met new friends.  I had a princess birthday party in October when my birthday is actually in June.  Thank you to my special mom and dad for making this happen for me.

Life is a fragile vessel

I could go on and on sharing little memories, and although I won’t bore you, I am making a mental promise to myself to life me my life as though it is a precious and fragile, but valuable vessel.

A vessel filled with memories and lessons learnt and lots of capacity of future dreams.  But most of all I am going to life my life relishing every single moment of every day and know that when I lay my head to sleep at night that I have lived and added to the lives around me.

Life is fragile and tomorrow isn’t promised for any of us.

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

I am dedicating this blog post my friend Nikki Bush and her family.  Her late husband  no longer has any tomorrows as a result of senseless violence.

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

How to be Fabulous

Fabulous is probably my favourite word.  When I was on the cusp of turning 50 I had really mixed feelings – do I duck it and pretend to be 49 for years, or do I embrace it.  I decided to go with the latter and to be fabulous at 50 and beyond.

how-to-be-fabulous

Words are very important to me.  I am writing a book about how single words have changed my life, and the word Fabulous would have to be included.  This time last year I had a breakdown – a hard-earned one, and I can honestly say that embracing the fabulous has been a huge part of my journey.

I have been through a lot.  A broken marriage, depression and numerous health issues which are still ongoing.  The one thing I have learned is that the only person you can be is you.  And it is your obligation to be the best you that you can be.

My favourite quote is this one from Dr Seuss.

Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive that is youer than you.

When we are authentic we are fabulous.

So how do you embrace your Fabulousness.

There are 6 principles of fabulousness that I have figured out.

Positivity

Being positive is another of those skills that you have to practice.  Like any form of exercise it can be hard and frustrating at first.

The first time on the treadmill is hard, the second is harder, you feel awful, sore and sweaty, but ultimately you get it and start to feel fantastic.  I only started walking (as a form of exercise) in my late forties.  The first walk was so short, but after a short while I was clocking up the miles and I felt better.

Positivity is like that.  Tap into positivity.  Find your self daily affirmations – I am fabulous – and spend time around positive people – both online and off-line.

Inspiration

Inspiration is a wonderful thing.  We all aspire to be better than we are and tapping into inspiration stretches us and makes us want to put the effort in to be a better version of ourselves.  I find inspiration in my daily life, I also find it online by following people who I admire.

How many ‘friends’ do you have on Facebook?  How many people do you follow?  Follow people who you admire, and aspire to be like.  Read books, listen to the radio and podcasts, put yourself in a place where you are inspired.  But remember what you goal is – to be the best version of yourself.

We have a wonderful group on Facebook called Fabulous Woman – I go into the group every day, and sometimes more than once a day and get inspired by ordinary woman who are aspiring to be fabulous.

Motivation

This is another biggie for me.  Motivation.  Where do you find the motivation to do what you do every day, and then where are you going to find the motivation to do even more?

Motivation is your reason for acting on something.  Your reason for getting up and changing things.  My motivation is simple – I never want to go back to being a quivering scared woman in a marriage that was hurting me.  I want to be the best mom I can to my son and I want people to know that everyone deserves to be happy.

That is a big vision, I know.  We also need to break it down and talk about daily motivations.  Perhaps you need some incentives on a daily or monthly basis to do nice things for yourself.  That sounds funny just saying it but woman generally put everyone first before they do something for themselves.  Your motivation is to be the best you that you can be and I promise you this that everyone around you will benefit from you being fabulous.

So set yourself some goals and set up some treats and incentives.

Creativity

I believe that everyone is creative.  Some people paint or draw, and others might be creative in the kitchen or through crafts.  I have been teaching crafts for many years and I just love the light that comes on when people are being creative.

It is simply fuel for the soul.  We spend so much of our lives giving to others but we need to refuel.  Eating well, drinking water and exercise are all important but being creative is essential.

You don’t need a lot of money to get started.  Simply start in your daily life.  Rearrange furniture or ornaments, write in a journal, tap into your creative well.

Add it into your mix and you will become even more fabulous.

Networking

Networking is an essential pillar of fabulousness for me.  When you say networking to some people, a switch goes off.  They are not in business, don’t have a business card and are not interested in getting up at 6 in the morning for a meet-up where business cards are swapped.

Networking is simple and it has been done since the beginning of time.  You know that person that is connected to everyone?  You know if you call them they will know someone who can help.  She is a supreme networker.

We network in our daily lives every day and through this we create our circle – our network.

The thing to remember about networking is that it is relational not transactional.  Networking is not about making a sale or a deal, it is simply about getting to know more people.

I love meeting new people, and simply getting to know them.  Conversation is a great way of building relationships.

When you meet someone – tell them about you – not about what you do.  Tell them what makes your heart sing.

Talk to people everywhere and build your network – you will be remembered for who you are that real authentic you.

Am I that one on Facebook who wears a crown  and always talks about being fabulous, or am I a personal branding specialist?  You will probably remember the crown but then at some stage when someone needs a personal branding specialist you might tell them about me.

We can use networking to surround ourselves with positive people who will motivate us, inspire us and spark our creativity too.

Appearance

Now, I know that I like pretty party dresses.  I feel great if my hair looks great and I do love make-up.  But that is just me.

For many years I didn’t embrace this side of me.  I suffered from depression and cried so much that there was little point in make-up.  I felt really ugly and fat because I listened to the criticism around me.

One day I made the decision to be fabulous and I need to tell you that I had to fake it for a while.  Every day I got up and got dressed.  I did my hair and accessorised.  I took a make-up lesson and made a commitment to wearing make-up most days.

I feel that this is me – at my best, my most fabulous.

When I was all ‘dolled-up’ I felt better. I felt like the best version of me possible.

I just want to make a point here, that if you feel the best that you can be wearing jeans and a check shirt, that is ok too.  What you want to tap into is dressing as you, to feel like the best of version of you.

It is a funny thing because when you tap into your fabulousness, people notice what you are wearing less, they notice how you feel and the energy you are putting out.

Be fabulous online and offline

Facebook is now the largest ‘country’ in the world.  Most of us are on Facebook and many of us are on other social media sites such as Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.  It is really important that when you are showing up – as the best you that you can be, you do this online as well as offline. These days the first connection with many people is not in person but online.  Grow your network and show your positivity online.

This is an extract from a talk I recently presented at the Festive Ladies Afternoon Tea in Mayo.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share.

Kerry x

Where to you get your inspiration from?

Inspired by Coral-lynne Fabuliciousfifty

I am inspired by Coral-Lynn on a daily basis.  I am honoured to call this fabulous woman an ‘old’ friend too.

Inspiration comes from so many places. A walk in the forest, hanging the washing out on the line, or going online.  Sometimes though you need a nudge,a few words that get you thinking.

Years ago when things were quite tough, I started getting texts to my phone every day.  Little quotes and messages that so often resonated with what I was going through.  These little texts were sent by Coral-Lynn. (more…)

Being Fabulous on Tour – a little life update

Fabulous friends, fabulous family and fabulous experiences.  That basically describes my October.

Over a period of a month I travelled on 6 different aeroplanes, numerous cars, and changed the bed I was sleeping in eight times.

Yes, I was exhausted, but I was also exhilarated and inspired.

I started off my travelling to Dublin to speak at the Women’s Inspire Event.  What a wonderful day meeting so many inspirational women.  I wrote a little blog post about it here.

Special stop-over in Dubai

Then it was onwards to Dubai where I have a home from home with my sister and brother-in-law.  I love visiting Dubai which always inspires me.  This is a city that has been created from a dusty single road 25 years ago to the bustling metropolis of creativity it is today.

(more…)

Dream it and do it!

what-you-think-you-become-what-you-feel-you-attract-what-you-imagine-you-create

 

Sometimes you simply have to dream it – and then do it.  I am delighted to be back with a Wednesday quotation  blog post and from my home country of South Africa.

Eight months ago I had a dream to come back to South Africa and spend time with my childhood friend.  We have known each other since we were 3 or 4 years old.  Friendships like this are really precious.  They don’t just happen though, they have to be nurtured.  Bev and I do exactly that. (more…)

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…)

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