Do your clothes give you joy?

Do your clothes give you joy?  Or do they make you feel nostalgic? Do they make you feel fabulous?

clothes memories fabuliciousfifty

I was privileged to talk to Marcia O’Regan of Colourharmonie recently and somehow we stumbled on the subject of clothes and decluttering.  She is currently reading Maria Kondo’s bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  Marcia was telling me about her experience of tidying her closet, and only keeping items that give her joy.

 

Now I am a long way from being a tidy (a very long way) but this really resonated with me.  For quite some time now I have only bought clothes that I really love.  Part of this was financial but I also found that when I was wearing something I really love, I felt more confident, and I suppose a little bit fabulous.

I really believe we dress for ourselves and even though people around us get the pleasure of seeing us with a pretty dress and make-up, how we look does for some of us impact on how we feel.

After the call with Marcia I returned to household chores which of course included the endless laundry.  As I was hanging up my clothes I realised that almost every item of clothing carries a story.

These are some of the little one line stories my clothes have to tell ….

  • A pretty blue floral dress that I call my party dress.  I bought it with gift vouchers in South Africa on a visit home.  The first time I wore it was for my birthday 4 years ago.
  • I have quite a few maxi dresses, all similar in style but in a wide range of fabulous prints.  These are dresses that arrive in boxes from Dubai.  My lovely sister sends me care parcels and each time I wear one of my dresses I think of her – it is like a fabric connection.
  • A royal blue chiffon jacket was a gift from my Mom from the fabulous Queenspark in South Africa.  It is sheer and light but adds not only colour but style to anything it is thrown over.
  • I won a prize on Facebook of a voucher for Liberties in Westport.  I thought I was too fat to be able to choose anything from this wonderful boutique.  When I went to visit I was treated really well and fell in love with a long dark purple top that I wear often.  It covers a multitude of sins.
  • My current favourite dress summer or winter is a LBD – it is really simple but beautifully cut and when I wear it I feel great.  I stumbled across it at the time of the month when you shouldn’t find anything you like.  It was a big decision, and meant a few lean days before payday but it was worth it.

One thing I realised when I was walking down memory lane in my closet was that I keep my clothes a long time.  I have a beautiful cardigan that I paid quite a bit for and literally wore it until it fell to holes.  I then begged my mom to use her embroidery talent to create little flowers over the holes.

I am committed to doing a bit of decluttering and tidying up very soon, but I know that some of my lovely clothes will stay with me.  That way I can wear my memories and joyful moments.

I would love to hear some of your clothes stories – I bet that a visit to your closet will bring up many happy memories.

Kerry x

 

 

Celebrating my birthday with Joy

I have always loved celebrating my birthday.  I guess it is really just a great excuse to get together with family and friends and celebrate life.

There is always reason to celebrateAs I get older (and I will be 52 in a few days time), I try and reason with myself.  You are too old, too tired, not well enough, it will be too much work, and then something happens to remind me why we should celebrate our birthdays.

Last week I listened to Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sheryl Sandberg is a fabulous woman in my opinion, and has shown just how strong she is following the death of her husband just over a year ago.  In this speech she is very honest and quite emotional about the shock of dealing with his sudden death and how she has coped.

She talks about finding joy and meaning. “Dave’s death changed me in profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void — or in the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning.”

Choosing joy over sadness can be really hard, but the rewards are immense.

I urge you to listen to the speech which you can do here.  Her honesty about pain and hurt is so real, but so is the message that we can continue on.

Now what has this to do with cake?  During her address Sheryl Sandberg says “I used to celebrate my birthday every five years, and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always.”

We do not know what is ahead of us, but what I do know is that my riches in my life are in people, my friends and family.  A birthday party – why not?  It is a great excuse to celebrate life and to focus on gratitude for what we have experienced this last year.

I have decided that this year I will simply open my home, and spend quality sofa time with wonderful people.  It is an open invitation to if you would like to join in, please message me.

I have chosen to celebrate on 6 June which is a day early, but as it is a bank holiday it will be lovely and relaxing.

I urge you to use any excuse really to celebrate and spread joy.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

Be Brave – take the first step

Be brave, take the first step

Being brave is huge!  It means different things to different people really but it is really a very powerful emotion that can propel us forward in a really good and positive way.

What does brave mean to you?

For some people attending an event or a function is brave. For others it might be attempting something that they never thought they could do.  We all have our comfort zones and when we take a step outside of this lovely comfortable place we are being brave.  For me it is stepping out into the unknown.

I am being really courageous this year.  Due to my health, I have had to start again.  Literally.  Imagine almost 52 and having to find a new career which will fit in with my current life.  It isn’t easy, but I am reading and learning and hopefully will be able to work part time very soon.

I have also had to be extremely brave and face some of my exercise demons.

This time last year I was living in Westport, working as the Head of Marketing for a financial services company and generally living it up.

Now my life has changed and I am living in Galway and trying to get my body as strong as possible in ways I can control.  I think this is really important as I cannot completely control the arthritis or fibromyalgia (never mind the other issues), but I can control my fitness levels.

I was brave in February when I did a 10km walk for charity.  I felt this way again when I did the Darkness into Life walk earlier in May.  I felt terribly brave when I went to my first yoga class.  Granted it was a yoga class for people with joint pain, but it was still hard to walk into a room and realise that you might be the biggest person in the class and more likely the least flexible person.

Fast forward a few weeks and I am lying on my back with my legs up against the wall, and trying various poses.  It is still a long way from the downward facing dog, but I am proud that I am taking these little brave steps.

Every day we have a choice, to be brave and take that step out of the comfort zone or stay cuddled in the warmth of the known.

I do both.  One thing I have learned though is that every time I take a brave step, the reward is there.  It isn’t always immediate, but it does come.

Please feel free to stop by and tell me your stories about being brave.  It honestly doesn’t matter how small the step, it is a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

Fabulous Women delight in each other’s growth

'A Flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms'

When a flower is blooming, it doesn’t worry about the flower next to it, neither does it compete with it simply blooms. This is a wonderful sentiment and one that I really need to take heed of.

As woman (even from a young age) we are always very aware of our peers. How they look, how they are doing and how we are doing in comparison. I don’t know about anyone else but I always seem to come up short.
We have so many lessons we can learn from nature.

For fabulous women there are two sides to this very relevant quote:

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms

The first is that we should delight in each other’s growth and celebrate each other’s victories.
A couple of months ago I started a group on Facebook called Fabulous Woman. It was something that I did because I was looking for a tribe. I was seeking positive woman who were not bitchy and who wanted to lift each other up rather than breaking each other down.

I can’t begin to express the joy that this group has given me personally. In a space of two short months it has grown to over 800 members with many members active on a weekly basis. As I am lucky enough to have two home countries membership has grown not only in both Ireland and South Africa, but across the globe. It is so wonderful to see support pouring out across the miles, and fabulous women friendships being formed.

This wonderful bunch of fabulous women is just like a full field of flowers all blooming together and celebrating life.

The second part is one I really need to take note of.  We are all individual and unique.  It is so easy, especially on social media to wonder if you are good enough or if you are doing enough in terms of diet, exercise or even fashion.  We are constantly bombarded with messages of what we should and shouldn’t  do.

I think we spend far too much time competing with others – and sometimes they are not even aware that we are competing.  I often find myself using my energy on something that isn’t productive.  Something that doesn’t make me bloom.  We need to nurture ourselves.

I also seem to be a worrier.  I am told if there was nothing to worry about I would find something.  I have had to learn, and am still learning that other people’s problems are exactly that, they are not my problems.

So today let us remember this Wednesday quotation:

‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms’

Thanks so much for reading and for the support.

Kerry x

If you would like to join the Fabulous Woman Facebook group – please feel free to request or message me!

When only tea and a biscuit will do – Bake it Easy review

 

bake it easy fabuliciousfifty

I am not quite sure how all the science behind tea works, but what I do know is that by this stage in my life I probably have more tea in my veins than blood.

I just love the stuff.  It is neither sweet nor savoury but this hot drink is what I reach for … well for almost any occasion.

I drink tea throughout the day at it simply makes me feel better.  It gives me a boost of energy (that would be the caffeine), but at the same time it relaxes me.  I think it might be the sitting down and taking 10 to 15  minutes to drink the tea that helps.

I also associate tea with friends.  Nothing quite like a sitting on the sofa with a pot of tea and a plate of biscuits and doing what woman do best – setting the world right with a cup of tea and a chat.

I love homemade biscuits but rarely get myself together to make them.  I was delighted to discover Bake it Easy on twitter one night.  (Yes, the world has changed to that degree that I find new things on twitter!)

Maria was kind enough to send me some samples to try.  The chocolate ones disappeared magically!

It is simply wonderful and every so slightly indulgent.  The jar of cookie mix can be ordered online and stashed in the grocery cupboard.  Tip out the mixture, add an egg and butter and randomly spoon out onto a baking sheet.  It is that easy.

Tea is now just a little bit more fabulous, the only problem is limiting yourself to two, or three.  They taste yummy with absolutely no artificial after taste.

bake it easy mixes blogI think I might just pop the oven on – I have a Bake it Easy smartie cookie mix in the cupboard and could quite happily down another cup of tea.

Thanks for reading!

Kerry

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

 

Tired all the Time – dealing with Fatigue is important

Fatigue is the common enemy of all of us - so slow down, rest up and refill

 

Sometimes I feel tired all the time.  I know that this has to do with some of my health issues, but I am sure that we all feel that way sometimes.

I came across this quote on Pinterest and just knew I had to blog about it.

Fatigue is the common enemy of all of us – so slow down, rest up and refill.

The fuzzy purple in the background is my favourite blanket.  I am not sure whether it was joking or not, but it was said that I could be found with my feet on the footstool and my purple blanket wrapped around me quite often.

What I have learnt is simply this, if we are tired we need to rest.  For some people especially those suffering from fibromyalgia or other illnesses that make you very tired, this will quite possibly be every day. For others it might be on the weekend, but no matter what we need to rest and refill.

I remember years ago being at a youth camp and the pastor saying that we had to imagine that we were a car.  If we drove and drove and never filled up with fuel or checked the water the car would break down.  It would also break down if we didn’t service it.

There is all sorts of research coming out which shows that everyone is more productive when they are rested.  They are more creative and more able to handle what life has for them.  When I can’t sleep, which does seems to happen quite a bit, the next day I am cranky and tired and certainly a lot less productive.  Fatigue wears you out.

Fatigue – breaking it down.

I think this quote is full of lots of wisdom – especially if you break it down.  First slow down – realise that moving fast doesn’t necessarily get you there quicker.  We were driving back from a trip this weekend and there was a car that was in the control of a very dangerous driver.  He was travelling too close to the car in front of him.  Overtaking when it wasn’t safe and obviously in a huge hurry somewhere.  When we reached the turnoff he was still only 2 cars in front of us.    Slow down.

Rest up.  We live in a world where there are so many demands on us and even if we sit down we grab our phone and check emails.  (I am guilty of this for sure).  I am going to try to rest up – and simply take time to breath and know that my body needs it.

Finally we need to refill.  This is such an important part of the quote.  I certainly forget that rest is not enough.  So how am I going to refill.  I am going to read – I am committing to read an uplifting/inspirational book for an hour a day.  You can also refill by spending time in nature.  A good walk in the forest always leaves me feeling better.  A great chat with a friend, and if coffee is included is also a good way of refilling.

Thanks for reading my ramblings and please feel free to leave a comment if you have any suggestions for slowing down, resting and refilling.

Kerry x

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