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Bellissimo – Everyone has a right to feel lovely

Bellissimo translated into English means lovely.  I strongly believe that no matter where we are in our lives we all should feel lovely.  Sometimes that comes about due to some kind words but sometimes it rests on us to make ourselves feel lovely no matter what is going on in our lives.

Bellisimo pretty mermaid nailsI know for me having my nails done is a big treat.  Due to some of the auto-immune diseases I have and some of the drugs I need to take, my nails are brittle, ridged and dented.  One has a fault and it cannot grow.  Every little millimetre it grows just causes a vertical split.

One of the few things that helps is having a manicure and if I go all out and have a Shellac (two-week manicure) it kind of holds my nails together.  And of course makes me feel lovely.

I was treated to a beautiful ‘mermaid’ themed shellac manicure at a blogger pamper evening held at the very aptly named Bellissimo salon in Galway.  My comment – these nails look so good I might have to scratch someone just to show them off.  Of course there might be other ways of showing them off too.

It was such a fun evening, hanging out with ITWBN bloggers having manicures and pedicures while eating delicious food supplied by the g Counter.  Honestly it was a bit like a grown-up slumber party with lots of giggling and laughing as we had the run of the salon for the night.

Trying on a long glamours dark wig!The biggest laughs of the evening came about when we started trying on wigs.  There were shrieks of laughter as we transformed ourselves into different characters by simply changing our hair.  Loads of giggles.  Wigs however are a medical necessity for many women.

A couple of years ago when I started on Methotrexate to treat arthritis a lot of my hair fell out!  I have always been quite proud of my hair and I can tell you I panicked.  Hair wash day became worry day as the plug hole filled and each stroke of the brush meant less hair on my head.

Thankfully I didn’t loose all my hair, and by using vitamins and other tricks and techniques (which you can read about here), I was able to get back on track.  I regularly trimmed my hair and waited hoping it would grow back.

Many many woman are not as lucky.  Various conditions and drug programmes result in thinning hair leaving woman feeling less lovely than they should be.

As we clowned around in the wig room at Bellissimo I couldn’t help thinking how important wigs are to so many people.  Many of the wigs available look so good, you wouldn’t realise that they were exactly that.  These wigs are well made and although synthetic would make anyone look fabulous – even if they were simply having a bad hair day.

I spoke to  Mike and Dympna our Bellissimo hosts who explained that because the salon was registered with the HSE (Ireland’s health service), there was a contribution that could be claimed against the purchase of a wig if hair loss was medically related.  The staff is fully informed and are happy to help anyone in a confidential way.   You can also have a look at the info on the website. I can promise you that anyone leaving the salon would feel fabulous!

Bellissimo in Galway is a simply gorgeous venue.  I really couldn’t think of a better name for a salon that makes woman feel lovely!

Thanks to the staff and the lovely ITWBN bloggers for having a pretend slumber party with me.  I felt Bellissimo going home.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry x

 

Finding your blogging voice

Finding your blogging voice

 

When you decide to start a blog, you might have a clear idea of what you want to write about, but, have you really found our blogging voice?

I have recently read back on some of my earlier blog posts and realised that it took a while to find my blogging voice.

It is important to figure out what it is you want to blog about and to find your blogging voice.  This is what is going to make your blog popular and have people returning to read your posts on a regular basis.

My mission, a year after starting my blog was to find out what was working and what wasn’t.  Because I love statistics this was my first stop.  I had a look at my stats on Google Analytics and on Jetpack which is a WordPress plug-in.  I also had a look at my comments and which posts had the most feedback.

If I had to describe myself I would say that I am a storyteller.  I tell stories about my quest to feel fabulous despite the curveballs that life throws at us. I am a plus size lady, who has passed the age of 50 who loves life and is determined to find the positive.  I have a good few health issues, that really are curveballs for me.  Over the past few years I have learnt that in order to feel fabulous I need to consider my health and wellness holistically.  I look to my own experiences and to others to find out what it is that gives is that positive kick to overcome the stumbling blocks of life.

I would say that it took me from about 13 to 30 to find myself – to find my style and the things that I would be passionate about most of my life.  I have some pretty frightening and clear memories of some fashion disasters that followed me through my twenties, not to mention hair styles including the spiral perm on very blond hair.  I think I must have looked quite odd, and yet I didn’t think so at the time.

By the time I had hit my forties I had found my personal style.  I do still indulge in some fashion purchases and some of these are less advisable, but generally speaking I now know what suits me and what doesn’t.

Finding your blogging voice is similar I think.  In an effort to find mine I have looked for advice.

I was given a fabulous book The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, and it devotes a full chapter to finding your voice.

‘Great bloggers all share one virtue in common:  They infuse their writing with a triple shot of personality.   Let your personality flow into your blogging and your readers will find you.’

Jeffrey Feldman, editor in chief of Frameshop and Huffpost blogger.

Verena von Pfetten, Living Editor at Huffington Post advises you to use the voice you have.

‘The best and easiest way to find your voice is to use the one you have. Sounds too easy?  It’s not.  That is why blogging is so popular!  First think about blogging as writing an email to a friend.  Better yet, and email to a really cool clever friend with whom you have a great and witty rapport’ says Verena.

She also advises to simply start writing.  You don’t spend hours hemming and hawing over how you are going to draft an email, so don’t spend hours hemming and hawing over a blog post.  It is not worth the effort.

Her final piece of advice is not to try too hard.  Don’t try to be anything other than exactly who you are.  It is your voice you are trying to find.

I have been blogging for over a year now, and I want to thank everyone who has read my blog, and an extra thanks for the comments and feedback.  Thanks for helping me find my voice.

I also want to do a quick thank you to the ladies at ITWBN who run fabulous events and give bloggers support.  Being part of a blogging network and reading lots of other blogs is really important and certainly helps to find your blogging voice.

I am proud to say I am a health, wellness and positivity blogger.  Here is to another year writing about finding the fabulous especially for those who are a little older and those who are facing some curveballs themselves.

If you are thinking of starting a blog – do it!  If you want any help or advise please feel free to get in touch.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

 

South Africa to Ireland a Big Move – My Story

There is no place like home

 

I have updated this blog post, which is one of my most read.

Thirteen years ago I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Ireland.  Not only was it a huge move from continent to continent, but it was also a move from city life to a rural life in beautiful Connemara.

It really doesn’t matter how many people you ask about the experience before it happens, it is still a massive shock to the system.

Ultimately my decision to move was motivated by the rising crime in South Africa.  There were a few experiences that really touched my life and I realised that I was living with fear.

I don’t judge the people who have stayed and neither do I judge the people who have left the beautiful country that is my birthplace.  The time came and I had to make my choice, and the fact that I had a 7-year old son was a huge part of that.

From South Africa to Ireland

We moved across the world and landed up in Connemara in early February.  Connemara is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t really show it’s beauty in February.  It was wild, windy and very cold.  It rained almost every day.  I wasn’t prepared, and my pretty umbrella bought in South Africa turned inside out and blew away the first time I used it.

With the hindsight of 13 years I am glad I made the move.  It has been a very turbulent 13 years which has seen me live in Connemara, in Westport, Mayo and now back in Athenry on the east side of Galway.

It has seen me start my own business in the form of a craft shop called An Siopa Buί – The Yellow Shop.  Through the shop I was privileged to travel across Ireland and meet some really special people.   Circumstances change and I returned to the corporate world and spend two and a half years in Westport (considered to be the best place to live in Ireland.)  I am now living in Athenry (made famous by the song The Fields of Athenry) and am moving onto a different phase of my life.

The common thread through my life and the big move has been people.  The friends that I have made at every stage – both South Africans in Ireland, South Africans at home and of course my Irish friends.

After 10 years I took Irish Citizenship and am proud to be Irish – although I will always be South African too.

I visit South Africa as often as I can and will always have the song of Africa in my heart.  When I am homesick I think of the sound of crickets on a summer night.  The evocative smell of sunset after a hot day and the wonderful social culture of bring and braai (a BBQ where everyone brings something along).

I was honoured to take part in a TV series on RTE in 2007 called No Place Like Home.  The producers came up with a cool concept of featuring foreigners living in Ireland, and comparing where their lifestyles in Ireland with lifestyles back ‘home’.  The title really says it all.  There is no place like home, but what I have come to realise is that you can have two homes.  I will always have a little part of my soul in Africa, but now I have fallen in love with Ireland too.

The West of Ireland where I have made my home is a truly beautiful place.  One day on a drive between Westport and Connemara I stopped to take in the view.  The word awesome came to mind.

Truly awesome as you realise that this magnificent scenery is simply there for us to appreciate and admire.

Ireland has been good to me.  I have made so many friends, through my crafting, through blogging , through the ICA and through my career.  I have been welcomed into so many homes and drunk copious cups of tea as I have learnt the generosity of spirit that the Irish are known for.

My son is now grown-up and has completed a Physics Degree at University in Galway and is now working in his dream job in the United Kingdom.  He has made his home here but I will always remind him of his African roots, so he too can have two homes. (Maybe even three since he has moved on)

You can read my post about my empty nest  here.

My information about the legalities and practicalities about moving to Ireland is a little out of date.  It is almost 15 years now.

I am delighted to say that there is a whole lot more information out there than there was when I did the move.

There is a wonderful Facebook Group run by South Africans who have made the move and I suggest that you join it and take a deep dive into the files.  There is so much information available and the people in the group are so helpful.

You can find the group here.

I do try to answer all the emails I receive but it isn’t always possible so apologies in advance.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

Pain is my Frenemy

 

Pain

Pain is my constant companion.  It is always with me and after all this time we have become quite well acquainted with each other.

I cannot think of a 24-hour period in the last few years where I have not been in pain.  Some days it is merely a twinge and a twitch, but most days it is a nagging constant.  It gnaws at me grinding me down until I am weary.

I sometimes wonder if there are tiny teeny creatures inside of my bones eating away and snagging my nerve endings until I have to stop and simply sit waiting for medication to kick in.

Each of us feel pain in a different way, and nobody can really know how you feel.

A frenemy (it is a real word), is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.  A combination of a friend and enemy.

Pain has become my frenemy because I cannot avoid it – it is closer to me than my partner, family and friends and although I don’t like it I have to learn to live with it.

The primary source of my pain is Arthritis in my hands.  In addition I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is also sometimes called the chronic pain disease.  Add Pernicious Anaemia a blood disorder that leads to neuropathic pain and you have a good cocktail.

This post is not about my pain, but rather my relationship with it.  It is part of my life now, and so I need to make a friend of it (or frenemy).

I am determined that my life will continue to be full despite my friendly enemy.

These are a few of the techniques I am using to deal with it.

 

  1. Distraction

I find that this is probably one of the best sources of pain relief.  The pain doesn’t go away, but as I absorb myself in other activities my mind begins to wander and I am able to deal with it better.

  1. Discipline

I am not always very disciplined but I have found that when I stick to a routine as far as using my splints, taking medication and rest, pain is easier to get along with

  1. Pain medication

Unless I am in a very bad way, I tend to take pain meds when I need them.  I am conscious of my overall health and try to limit what I do take.  Once again however, keeping pain at bay is all about being regular with medications and other pain management aids such as topical pain relief in the form of sprays, gels, Versatis plasters and more.

  1. Sleep

I used to be one of those people who boasted about getting on well with only 6 hours sleep a night.  A wise physiotherapist reminded me that the body heals while it sleeps.  I can honestly say that despite waking in the night in pain, the longer I sleep the better it is.

  1. Pacing

My pain is primarily in my hands and arms which makes things a little awkward.  What I have figured out is that I can do about 40 minutes with my hands without too much pain.  Then I rest – and return to my task a little later.  This has not only taught me patience but it also means that I get things done despite the pain.

My journey with my frenemy pain is exactly that – a journey of getting to know pain and to understand it.  To work with it and not against it.

Each person’s pain is specific to them.  If you have any tips of techniques on pain management I would love to hear about them.

A while ago I was interviewed on CRCFM a local radio station – some of what we discussed is very relevant to this post.  You can have a listen here.

Thanks for reading.

 

Kerry x

 

 

My Cold and Flu Survival Kit

flu survival kit blog

 

These are the things I always like to have at home just in case the dreaded flu strikes.

Flu season – that time of the year when we just know that the bugs are circulating.  Kids go back to school, a colleague starts sniffing and the air conditioning does the rest.  Sometimes it is just a sniffle but then again it could be full-blown flu.  Aches and pains and a seriously red nose.

There isn’t a quick fix for colds and flu, but there are a few things that I think are essential for getting through a dose.

  1. Good quality tissues – the ones that have balsam in them. It really does make a difference.  My advice is to have a stash of a few boxes hidden away just in case.
  2. Honey and lemon. Good local honey has all sorts of healing properties as does lemon.  I make up a drink of lemon, honey and hot water and keep it beside me.  It is antibacterial and really is very soothing and helps sooth a cough.
  3. Orange juice. I crave orange juice when I am sick.  It is like a glass of sunshine.  I am sure that the Vitamin C helps to heal and ward off further bugs, and the sugar gives you a bit of energy to get a few things done.
  4. A good book – you need to rest when you are sick. Rest really does help healing so give into an early night and go to bed with a good book.  You deserve it. I am currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington on my Kindle.
  5. Essentials oils. I love my essential oils and they are great when you struggling to breath.  My go to oils are eucalyptus, and peppermint.  I add a couple of drops to water in a burner and keep it beside me.  When my son was young I would dab a few drops on his pyjamas and send him off to bed breathing easier.  A drop of lavender will also help sleep.
  6. Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. This is seriously magic stuff.  It fixes all sorts of things but can also go a long way towards preventing a red chapped nose – so often the side effect of a head cold.
  7. Your choice of decongenstant – my current favourite is Uniflu which works for me and doesn’t conflict with other medications I take. I have no medical qualifications but I do think that dealing with the symptoms helps.
  8. And finally tea. Honestly I always have tea in the house as I am addicted, but when I am blocked up I tend to reach for herbal infusions or my new favourite Solaris green tea chai.

Finally my advice is to be kind to yourself.  Taking time to rest and recharge is what your body is asking for.  Rest while you can.  Treat yourself to the chocolate biscuit with your tea. Say thank you for the TLC and get well soon.

 

Thanks for reading x

Kerry

 

 

Fabulous Food, Fabulous woman – Gill Carroll

Photo Martina Regan
Photo Martina Regan

I am always inspired by women who are fabulous in every way.  Woman who defy the rules, and set out to reach for their dreams no matter what.

I was invited to an ITWBN  blogger event at 56 Central, a new snazzy eatery in Galway.  The food was beyond delicious, the décor really extraordinary and the company of my fellow ITWBN bloggers sublime.

What really struck me though was the quiet confidence of the fabulous woman who welcomed us.  Gill Carroll spoke with passion when she spoke of the ethos of the restaurant that provides culinary excellence from local producers and invites people to connect.

I knew at this point that I wanted to do a ‘Fabulicoius Woman’ interview with Gill.  I wanted to know what made this fabulous woman tick!

Q:  You have opened two unique eateries, 37 West renowned for healthy food and 56 Central which is based on connections.  Where do you find your inspiration?

Gill:  I spend a lot of time researching, studying from great leaders.  I take one thing from everyone and then use them to drive me on! You can learn from anyone now online – but, I do like to go to talks as well to get the real deal!

Q  What would you consider your greatest achievement in your career thus far and why?

Gill:  I think it was when 37 West (the first restaurant launched by Gill),  won Best of Galway Awards or when we got our first McKenna award – seeing the teams faces when we got the awards was something special – we all worked hard for them.

Also, creating my vision boards for 37 West and putting them out, and ALL of them coming true!

Q How do you reboot yourself when you hit a low?

Gill:  I always go back to basics.  I have a Dream Day and over many years have created many vision boards – so when things go low I go back to them – read them and remind myself of where I want to go – where I said I wanted to go when times were good!

It is easy lose focus business is hard – people expect a lot so you. My aim is to follow the words of Tony Robbins and create, not destroy. I have super people around me too, which means in seconds I can connect with people who just get me!

Q Who inspires you?  And why?

Gill:  So many people!!!

My Dad for his true fearless entrepreneurial spirit.

My Mother for her passion for fun and enjoying life.

My best friend Pat for his constant inspiration.

My business partner Lisa in Strive For It for her passion for consistency.

Q If you had to sit down and have a meal at 37 West – what would you order?

Gill:  For breakie I have an omelette with Cajun chicken, jalapeno, feta cheese and gluten-free bread! My last supper would be of course a Chicken melt, chunky chip, garlic mayo and a san Pellegrino lemon! ahhhh heaven.  (And I am hungry just reading that)

Q  How do you relax?  You have two very busy and successful businesses, but I would imagine that you need to relax and rewind at some time.  I think this is an important part of being fabulous, hence the question.

Ok, I am bad on the relaxing! I love training, it’s my way of letting go and having me time.  I am in the gym early in the morning before the world gets up! I love going to the Radisson to sit in the hot tub for hours.

I believe in the freedom days – taking a day off away from world and doing something very exciting – at least once a month!

Q Lastly, what do you do you do to make yourself feel fabulous?

I am not into make-up, hair or fashion.  I have to be told to do that sort of stuff! To feel fab I enter a race the crazier the better – getting your body and mind in shape for something wild like that is when I feel alive inside – like doing Tough Mudder or Spartan race.  I feel alive covered in mud in a field, helping myself and others get through some hard hours!

If there’s a charity element I am even more ready to get covered in mud.  It makes the whole event so much more worthwhile.  Last year I was part of a team that raised  €160k for Cystic Fibrosis – a really   special moment of my life!

I also love to go for good meal, sip on a big glass of red wine and laugh my head off with good people.  Follow it up by dancing my ass off.  Basically acting like a big child!

 

I would like to sincerely thank Gill for not only welcoming me to her restaurant, but also taking the time to do this interview.  I can honestly recommend the food at both eateries (and I do love good food).

 

Thanks for reading x

 

 

When change happens – make it good change

Marilyn monroe quoteChange is inevitable.  Marilyn Monroe is a woman that divides.  I admire her and am often drawn to her quotes.  I think that to an extent she was misunderstood, but behind the blond curly locks and sexy voice was a very wise woman.

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

I was musing on 2015 and realised that so far it has been a year of two halves.  For the first 6 months I was happily living in Westport, working away at my job, with a great social life and a fabulous circle of friends in Mayo.

The second half has been all about change.  I found a new job in Galway – which was the first domino in a series of changes.  I left my beautiful flat,and now know that I would have been given notice anyway as the owners were moving back!  I bade farewell to familiar streets that I walked every day greeting people along the way.

The transition was not easy, but now I am starting to realise that this quote is true.  New things are starting to fall together.  I am writing this sitting in my lovely new home, contemplating putting on a fire with a pot of soup on the stove waiting for my dinner guest.

I have found new ways to exercise and am walking regularly.

I am closer to my family and am rekindling old friendships and making new ones.

I have new challenges in the workplace that are allowing me to exercise my mind.

So, thank you Marilyn for those wise words of inspiration.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy my Wednesday quotation.

Kerry x

 

 

How bumpy roads can make me a better person?

I have come to accept the bumpy roads of (3)Today it was time to stop and think.  To contemplate the changes in my life over the past few years, and now doubt the changes to come.

When I am working on my Wednesday quote series, sometimes I start with a word, sometimes a picture and sometimes a quote, and then pull it all together.

Today I started with this photo of a bumpy road that I often walked when I lived in Connemara.  Not only did you have to watch out for stones, and potholes, but also for cow pats – which where possibly a more distressing hazard.

When I came across this quote from author and motivational speaker Dr Steve Maraboli it all made sense.

I seem to bump along, sometimes dodging the debris on the road and sometimes stepping into it, but somehow we get through it.

At the end of this road pictured is a beautiful lake that I often sat beside.  A little further is a fabulous waterfall.

Most roads like that are a reflection of life.  Right now I am in a bumpy patch, but I look forward to some tranquil time overlooking a beautiful lake soon.

Thanks you to Dr Steve Maroboli for the inspiration – I will certainly be back to your blog for more.

Thanks for reading

 

Kerry xx

Like Water off a Duck’s Back

Like water off a Duck's back  quote

 

Years ago, after coming home from work a little stressed and worn down from office politics, I was presented with a ceramic duck.  ‘Put this on your desk, and look at it every time you need to’.  Wise words indeed.

In the hustle and bustle of life, there are always going to be moments where you may be criticised, or when something happens that is nobodies fault, but you feel bad about it.

I drop things – and after a long day at work, looking at a plate crashed on the floor, can really get me down.  No matter what it is at work or home, big or small just remember, it is like water off a duck’s back.  Let it slide right off.

I love this photo of one of the Westport ducks along the river walk.  I no longer have a ceramic duck on my desk – I gifted it to my colleagues, but I have the image in my head.

Thanks for reading this Wednesday quote post.

Kerry xx

The biggest weight loss lesson ever!

Untitled design (8)

The day I attended the most fabulous buffet, my relationship with food changed, and it has never changed back.

I was always the person who had to have the last biscuit, in fact a packet of biscuits, or a bar of chocolate never lasted more than a single setting. I wasn’t conscious that I had a problem with food.  I didn’t realise that I wasn’t comfortable around food.  Well actually food should have been uncomfortable around me – I was ready to eat it.

I have honestly probably tried most diets and eating plans before accepting that health and fitness was a better route. You can read about other parts of my weight loss journey here.

Twenty-five years ago I attended a course with a difference.  It was a psychological approach to weight loss.  We started off with some gentle group therapy talking about our relationship with food.  A couple of weeks in, we were told that the next week we would be having a party.  Each person was to bring a dish.  Everyone volunteered their favourite dishes.  I made a trifle – yum yum.

My excitement was at an all time high!  There was a buffet to beat anything you would see in a top class hotel.  Sweet, savoury, snacks, starters, chocolate, wine.  There was nothing up there that I didn’t want to eat, and nothing I was missing either.

But, the lessons were about to begin….

We were all asked to go up and choose our meals.  A starter selection, main meal, dessert, cheese and biscuits, drinks, chocolates – in fact anything we liked.  I think everyone took less than they normally would – we were conscious of our neighbours.

On returning to our seat at the table we were asked to look at our food and think about what we really wanted first.  There were no rules, so if you wanted trifle, then you had a few bites of trifle.  We then moved onto our next favourite item.  Soon the moderator asked us if we were feeling full, as it takes a good 10 minutes for your tummy to register if you are full.  Very often we don’t know when we have had enough.

With no pressure it was suggested that we walk away from the table and chat if we thought we might be full.  We could come back of course, but you know what?  I didn’t – I realised that I had eaten what I wanted and was full.  I hadn’t eaten that much at all.  The sneaky thought of course was that I might just like a bite more, just one more chocolate, or a little biscuit with a bit of brie.

Look away now, it gets icky!

We were asked to pile everything in front of us onto one plate, and mash it all together.  It was literally a small mountain on the plate!  And mixed up all together it looked disgusting.  Left to my own devices all that would have gone inside me, no question.  We then went up and binned it.  From 12 people in the room we filled a large bin bag.  We also then binned all the leftovers from the serving dishes.  Another bin bag and more.

The messages were simple:

  • Rather waste in the bin than around your waistline
  • Food doesn’t have legs – it won’t run away if you don’t eat it all in one go
  • Be comfortable around food, it is ok to eat a small bit of chocolate, just don’t eat the whole bar
  • To listen to your body and stop eating when you are no longer hungry.

I am not perfect and I continually have to remind myself of the lessons I have learnt along the way.

This was a big lesson for me and even after 25 years it is still a very strong memory, I still struggle, but the one thing I know is that I am more comfortable with food.  I am comfortable with chocolate or biscuits in the house and don’t feel the need to eat them.  Well, maybe just one square!

The programme was called Weight Winners, which I attended in South Africa.  In an effort to credit experience, that literally changed my relationship with food, I found this article.

Thank you for reading my blog, I so appreciate the feedback and comments.

Kerry xx

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