Tag: blogging

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

 

Marmaris, Turkey – the Friendliest Place!


Our recent trip to Marmaris in Turkey was literally a tale of two parts.  The good however significantly outweighed the bad.

Although I love the idea of travelling the actual travel day is incredibly hard, especially if you are struggling with mobility.  As mentioned in a previous post, this trip started on the right note with a wonderful night at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown.  At 4 am all excited we set off on our new adventure to a place that we had never visited before. (read about our wonderful night here)

Arriving in the friendliest place

Almost 5 hours on a budget airline is tiring.  It was wonderful to land at the brand-new airport at Dalaman and to feel the sun on our shoulders.  The transfer system here is very slick, and we were soon installed into a smart little mini bus, complete with a cooler of drinks.  All the transfer buses stop off half way, and I was delighted to stretch my legs and treat myself to my first Turkish ice cream – it was called blue sky – and looked exactly like the sky above us.  I was curious to try it and wondered what it would taste like – hard to describe but the closest I could get was caramel delicious.

A word of warning

Before we arrived at our hotel we knew it wouldn’t be great.  We had been doing some research on Trip Advisor and were a little worried to be honest.  The reviews were shocking.  We already knew that it was a five-story hotel that had no lift.  When I found this out I called ahead and explained my mobility issues and thankfully we were in a room on the first floor.  The hotel was very run down, but thankfully clean (this is important to me).  We had also booked full board – and one look at the dining room, the food that looked like it was recycled for each meal, and the kitchen led us to a quick decision that we wouldn’t be eating in.

On the plus side the location of the hotel was perfect, only 5 minutes from the beach, with easy access to the town and lovely eateries.  It also had a great rooftop pool, that had me taking a daily dip!

It is important to check things out.  We do travel on a budget, so were not expecting 5 stars.

The most delicious food always served with a smile

The food in Marmaris is amazing.  Let me just say that.  From a gorgeous Cappuccino to a full mixed grill, everything was fresh and delicious.  It was also extremely affordable, and served with a smile.

The first morning we went for a walk along the seafront.  After a while I was hot and tired, so we chose a restaurant for a refreshing drink.  Vamos appealed to me from the sidewalk, and it was a good choice.  Although we were only having a drink, I read the menu (I always do this – its ok to dream).  I noticed a starter of watermelon and feta and never mind that it was 11am I ordered it.  The portion that arrived was enough for three!  They quickly brought extra utensils and told me that this was not the normal portion size but that they decided to treat me.  It was fresh, juicy and so delicious.  And, it set the tone for a foodie holiday.

A firm favourite on the Turkish menu was lava bread.  This is literally a balloon of bread – crispy and light served with salsa, garlic yogurt and garlic butter.  I think we shared one every day, and I am missing them already.

Food was so affordable and the quality was outstanding.  We indulged in gorgeous kebab skewers, the most delicious pizza, and tasty gorgeous Turkish breakfasts.  If you fancy, there is always a great English breakfast – available in most restaurants.

Great value for money

I had underestimated how much spending money we needed – primarily because we ate out all the time.  After one attempt at drawing cash from a Turkish language ATM which was stressful, we realised that it was easy enough to choose a multiple language version.  By this stage I thought I was accustomed to the Turkish Lire.  I had bought three pairs of Birkenstocks, and we had tried out all sorts of treats from the supermarket.  I drew a couple of hundred lire, and then realised that it was barely 30 Euro.  Your money goes a long way in Turkey.

We booked our budget trip with Love Holidays.

A long walk to Icmeler

We love to walk.  Even though I walk slowly and with my trusty stick Stan, I am game to see how far I can go before I need a rest.  One day we decided to visit the next village – Icmeler.  I am not sure why we thought we could walk there, but we did.  We walked and walked.  I got hotter and more tired, and started complaining.  Himself kept on saying, it’ll be around the next corner.  After about six or seven corners I called time and we popped into a café with a Wi-Fi sign for a cold drink.  I checked google maps – it was 8km further!!!  Suffice to say we went back to the hotel for a swim and took a taxi the next day. I fell in love with Icmeler, bought the most delicious Turkish delight and indulged in yet another Lava bread.

Be prepared to lose your inhibitions

I had heard about a Hamman – a Turkish bath.  Feeling brave I booked in and descended the stairs to the Hamman spa.  Now, please remember that I am fabulous plus sized lady.  I was shown the changing room and offered a Turkish towel which is probably slightly bigger than a large dish towel.  I blanched!  A young lady came to assist and managed to truss me up in two towels – I had elected to keep my underwear on (for now).  After a sauna, I was shown into the Hamman room and invited to lay down on this large marble slab.  There was then a confusion of communication and eventually and English speaker came to clarify – did I want a man or woman to wash me.  A woman please!

This was a great choice as from this point on I realised that I had to simply give up on inhibitions and enjoy the experience.  I was given an invigorating aloe vera scrub, followed by a massage with what can only be described as pillow cases full of foam.  It was sublime.  The experience concluded with a full body (and I mean full body) oil massage.

I have shared my turkish bath story with a few people.  I have told that I didn’t sell it well.  Yes, it is an extremely intimate experience – but I would do it again.  Just remember to leave your inhibitions at the door.

Sailing away with pirate ships

The bay of Marmaris is extremely picturesque. From the first moment, we glimpsed it on arrival, I wanted to paint the misty hills that enclosed it.  The first morning we noticed Pirate ships on the bay, and I was intrigued.  There are several ships all offering day trips around the bay.  In the end, we chose the Black Pearl, primarily because of the friendly man who engaged with us.  I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a pirate ship, but then again we got to watch the Pirate ships instead.

This day out was brilliant value and included all drinks on board as well as a delicious lunch.  The views were stunning and so inspiring.  We dropped anchor at various spots for swimming, sightseeing and to view truly magical caves.

My lasting memories of Turkey

When I think back on my trip, the overriding memories are of the friendly people, and the kindness of strangers.  For the most part, people are honest and kind.  We had great chats with locals and other tourists, and felt truly welcomed.

We will be back – and next time we will stay in the lovely Icmeler but of course we will visit the beautiful bay of Marmaris.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

 

Is Social Media a Thief of Joy? – or is it Comparison?

When I compare myself to others, I always seem to come up lacking.  I suspect that this is the same for many of us.  Is comparison the thief of joy? And what role does social media play?

Before the advent of social media (and I am old enough to remember it) we went about our world fairly oblivious of what other people were doing.  What they looked like.  What event they had attended.  How cute their kids were.  Somehow or other we managed, and I suspect that we were happier.

I actually love social media

This blog post isn’t all about slagging social media off.  Not at all.  I really value social media and can list numerous ways it has made my life better.

  • I have met such amazing people through social media who have become firm friends. When I was moving town, a wonderful woman I had met on a group promised to bring wine and cake on the day I moved.  And she did.  I really value her friendship (you know who you are – thank you)
  • I have been able to share my blog with people all over the world. I have also used social media to meet so many other bloggers who have inspired me.
  • I have reconnected with so many people from my past. Long lost cousins, school friends and numerous other wonderful people who I might have lost touch with.  Especially as I moved from South Africa to Ireland.
  • I have been gifted this window to the world. There are times when I have been lonely and knowing that I could pop into Facebook and connect with friends has been a true gift.
  • I have gained knowledge. I have joined groups that deal with issues that I face such as arthritis and pernicious anaemia (which I knew nothing about).  In these groups I have met fellow sufferers and we have lifted each other up.  We have answered questions and explained the unexplainable.
  • I have connected with hundreds of people through my own and have had the privilege of taking these online relationships offline through meet-ups and events.
  • I have made a little money. I have sold art, found people to work with and met up with brands who wanted to work with me.

There is a big but though ….

There are two real negatives for me relating to social media.

The first is time.  When I am online – either at my laptop or gazing at my phone scrolling or chatting, I am effectively disengaged from the world around me.

I know I spend too much time online.  I know this because I scroll, and scroll and realise that I am seeing nothing new.  I know this because I have to go back and ask what is happening because I missed a vital part of the conversation.  I have literally been missing in action.

When I do ‘forget’ my phone I am far more productive.  I get things done.  I listen to music, clean the house and find my creative juices flowing.  I love the practice of daily painting and I can’t paint and scroll at the same time.

I am really trying to limit my time online.  Those that know me are chuckling and rolling their eyes and saying ‘yeah’.  I promise though – I am trying.

The main reason why is that I am finding that comparison is indeed a thief of joy for me.

Comparison is my thief of Joy

My situation is unique to me.  And let’s face it each of us has a unique situation.  I am 54 now, and I suffer from severe arthritis which limits my mobility and in fact everything I do.  Most days pain is my companion and I am always tired.

I struggle with my weight as well so I am no svelte size 10.  I have wrinkles, and rolls and that is just the start of it.  Working full-time is no longer an option – as I simply can’t.  I also struggle with overwhelm and anxiety. There are weeks when I don’t post on my blog because I haven’t been able to write, or photograph anything.

On the positive side I have wonderful friends who support me. I have a good life. Fashion and beauty inspire me.  Travel delights me and I am determined to do more (albeit on a strictly limited budget).  There is nothing I like more than sitting down with a friend drinking creamy cappuccino.  I find my true bliss with a paintbrush in my hand.

I am not writing this for sympathy, but merely to give you a true picture of where I am in my life.

Even though I am intelligent I am still drawn in to this dreadful comparison trap.  I watch through the lens of social media as others attend events, go out for gorgeous dinners I cannot afford and seem to have endless cocktails with friends.  I feel real envy when I see people progressing in their careers when mine is in a sort of standstill state.  A cruise – oh I wish I could afford a cruise.  Skinny Jeans and high heels – no chance Kerry!

I know that there are many people who are too sick to go out.  People suffering from depression who cannot comprehend the goings on of others.  Your child might be kicking and screaming and very dirty and you cannot help but compare with the angels you see on Facebook.

Real Lives versus Facebook Lives

A very wise friend and mentor once reminded me.  Beware of the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives.  We all put our best foot (or face) forward on Social Media.  If I take a selfie and I look too tired and sick I don’t post it.  Perhaps I should.

I think that there are a couple of things I need to do for myself to put social media in the right place in my life.

  1. Monitor my time spent online
  2. Remember the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives
  3. Don’t compare. Comparison is the true thief of joy.
  4. Be grateful for what I have!

Truth or Lies?

We don’t know what really lies behind those beautiful images and even if we did, do they really change anything?

If there was no social media, then I wouldn’t know about these things.  I would simply be going about my day living my life.  And perhaps being more joyful.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

How to celebrate a blog birthday

Well the obvious answer is with cake!  I love cake – I would choose it over chocolate, crisps and even wine.  I think a cake is just such a symbol of celebration.  It always makes me feel festive, as well as being delicious and deeply satisfying.

I am lucky enough to be friends with a master baker and decorator and when I asked if Aine from The Cake Emporium would make me a birthday cake for my blog she didn’t even blink an  eye and as a reader of my blog she didn’t need a brief either.

I was truly delighted and jumping up and down like a three-year old myself when the cake arrived complete with crown!

Why did I start my blog three years ago?

Three years ago I was 50 and coming out of quite a dark place.  I still had a lot going on health wise (and still do to tell the truth).  I had learnt that it was important to maintain your dignity and to always wear your invisible crown no matter what.

The blog theme is to be fabulous despite the curveballs that life throws at us. And what better way that to place that crown firmly on your head and know your own value.

The blog posts were I wrote about this concept were some of the first posts that got me noticed and is still some of my favourites.

Telling my stories

I have struggled with my weight my whole life, despite dieting for most of it.  One day I sat down and wrote the story of how I gave up dieting.  It was early on in my blogging journey and I remember being amazed as the views on the blog increased and increased and the reactions came in.  People direct messaged me, they engaged and told me their own stories.

I think that at this point I realised the true joy of blogging.  It is about creating tribe and a community.  Creating a conversation with people all around the world.

Finding balance and more

My long-awaited book (it is coming out soon) is all about how I have changed my life one word at a time.  The first posts I wrote about this related to balance and how by choosing to focus on this word I had started the avalanche of change that would filter through my life.  Again I was truly humbled by the response.

Moving from South Africa to Ireland

A personal blog is all about sharing stories of my life.  Stories and experiences that I hope other people can relate to.  My all time most read blog post is about my move from South Africa to Ireland.  It is read almost every day and I have communicated with so many people who are in the process of making a big move.  By simply writing a story about one woman and her move to Ireland I have been blessed to meet so many people.

Fashion, Beauty and Confidence

I have written many posts.  Perhaps I should count them.  I have touched on many subjects from fashion to beauty, food to travel and of course health.  The common denominator in everything my blog stands for is confidence to be authentic.  I really believe that we all come across so many curveballs in life, it is our choice though to choose to be fabulous despite whatever tries to knock us down.

So I wear my crown and try to be fabulous.

As I celebrate my third blog birthday I want to thank you so much for reading my posts, for sending me messages and for sharing my journey.

Kerry xx

P.S  A few exciting changes coming very soon.

 

Give a Book this Christmas – December Girl

I just had a delivery from Amazon.  My son commented that the Amazon Deliveries are modern-day Father Christmases.

Perhaps they are, and what better gift to give that a great book.  Books are my friends.  They allow me to travel to other world and experience the lives of others embellishing their lives with my imagination.

As an aspiring writer I have met so many talented authors online and have really enjoyed the gift of reading some really good books recently.

December Girl by Nicola Cassidy

Nicola is a blogger, who I have been following for a while, I loved her writing and was really delighted to hear that she had secured a publishing contract.  The arrival of her book, complete with a beautiful snowflake ornament was like Christmas coming early.

It is a cracking read!  Historical fiction crossing between north County Dublin and London.  It is a mystery about a missing baby, but it is so much more.  It is dark, but entertaining with such great characterisation that I couldn’t decide whether to like and admire the heroine Molly – or not.

Molly, the December Girl, was born on the Winter Solstice and despite many hardships but she never loses her strength and belief making her such a great character.

It is a tale that transcends geography and could have taken place in a different country and at a different time.  I am writing this review and wanting to give spoilers but trying to resist.

Buy it on Amazon, wrap it up and give it to someone for Christmas, or simply to tell them you care. And the exciting part is that if you are running late with your shopping you can send a Kindle version.

It is a gift that will give the reader pleasure on a long winter’s day.

Preferably accompanied by gallons of tea and perhaps some December food like a mince-pie or a slice of Christmas cake.

Happy reading and look out for some more book reviews soon.

Kerry x

 

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.

Get up and Go – I am excited!

Sponsored post

Get-up and Go – how many times have you asked for a little of that.  I know I have.  Days when I am tired, or simply not motivated.  I hear a voice in my head – Kerry, just get up and go.

Well it seems that the call has been answered.  I am delighted to be attending the Get up and Go event in Sligo on 21 and 22 April.

I will be spending two days in a beautiful setting in County Sligo listening to some of the most inspiring speakers and most importantly tapping into my own get up and go.

Get up and Go with Passion and Purpose

The Theme for 2017 is Get Up and Go with Passion and Purpose.  It was chosen to inspire everyone to think about what you are truly passionate about and to discover how to create purpose in life by living true to your passion.

Spend two days listening to wonderful inspirational speakers in their own unique style of ‘get up and go’. Speakers and topics range from business, adventure, entrepreneurship, confidence, education, health and well-being. All with the intention to inspire, motivate, encourage and empower the audience to ‘get up and go’ in life, especially in areas where they might be ‘stopped’ or stuck.

‘Our speakers this year show us how, as ordinary people, we can courageously step outside of our ‘comfort zones’ to pursue what is important to us, and be a demonstration of life lived in accordance with passion and purpose”, said Eileen Bennett organiser and publisher of the now famous Get up and Go diary series..

Do you suffer from FOMO?

I am one of those people who suffer from serious FOMO (fear of missing out).  There are often great events on in Dublin or abroad, that I simply can’t get to for one reason or another.  This time there is a unique opportunity to listen to some amazing speakers at an affordable price point and within reach.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Sligo is a spectacularly beautiful location on the Wild Atlantic Way, with scenery that has inspired artists for years.  I will be snapping images for my upcoming art exhibition as we travel north for a two-day event that promises to shift thinking.

This is really an event with a heart.  It is a not for profit event with four charities that will receive support.  I am guessing that there will be many more people who will be benefiting from simply attending, listening to the speaker and tapping into their get up and go.

Hope to see you there, and watch this space for a report back.  I have my notebooks ready and know I will return inspired.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with the Irish Blogger Agency.  But, to be honest I would have written it anyway, it is an event that is just up my street!  I am counting the days.

 

Proudly Plus-sized and blogging about it!

For a long time I have been considering blogging about being plus-sized.  There is no reason why your size should stop you being fashionably fabulous.

For Christmas a couple of years ago my mom gave me a gift voucher to a fashion store.  Now, it is not polite to ask someone how much the voucher is worth. When I was in the shopping mall I popped into the store and asked the assistant if she could let me know how much I could spend.

The assistant looked at me, and didn’t even take the voucher.  She simply said “I don’t think we have anything to fit you here.”

I was speechless! Walking away from the store I felt less than fabulous and frankly upset and shocked.

Once I started to think about it I got mad.  This shop stocks fashion, shoes, handbags, fabulous accessories and lingerie.  They are also known for having a plus size department.  It was made apparent that this particular branch didn’t stock the plus size range, but that was no excuse for the rude and frankly hurtful manner in which I was addressed.

I could easily have chosen to spend my voucher money on earrings, and a gorgeous necklace or scarf.  The last time I checked my ears and neck were not plus sized.  A standard handbag also seems to fit me – in fact I like small bags.  I don’t want to sound bitchy, but really!!!

I did complain, and I did receive an apology.  It did get me thinking though of plus-size fashion, and especially the role accessories play in giving an outfit that fabulous touch. It was instances such as this that helped me to make the decision to introduce fashion and style into my blog.

Ireland’s got Curves and so do I

I am delighted to say that I will be attending Ireland’s got Curves a fabulous event which being launched by Miss Curves Ireland, SharonD.  For many of us who struggle with our weight we are made to feel less than fabulous by mainstream shops.

Many of my photographs (by the lovely Natalie Greer) show my head and shoulders (my best bits), but this photo shows almost all of me.  I am not going to shy away from showing my wobbly bits, after all they are part of me.

It is for this reason and my own experience that I have decided that I will embrace fashion blogging, as a plus-sized and over 50 fabulous woman.

Please come and visit my blog again and also follow me on Instagram – DynamicKerry – where I will be showing off my style!

Thanks for reading

Kerry xx

 

Blog marketing – a plan to follow

 

Fabuliciousfifty blog marketing planI recently had the opportunity to talk to a group of bloggers and as part of that presentation I discussed marketing a blog.  Thank you everyone for the great feedback!

I have worked in marketing most of my adult life, so when I decided to start my blog I thought about marketing it too. The obvious route was to see how other people marketed their blogs, but then I started thinking back to what I did as my day job.

My area of expertise is in strategic marketing.  I did a little marketing strategy for my blog, which has been reviewed and re-evaluated at regular intervals. It was only on a scrap of paper mind, but I would really recommend doing this as it helps to clarify my thinking, both in terms of content and my reader.

Marketing a blog – a mini plan

When you are putting together a marketing plan there are a few essentials that are normally included.  There are various models and methods for planning a marketing strategy, but for this post I am going to focus on my favourite method.

  • Research
  • Target audience
  • Message
  • Establish objectives – set goals.
  • Actions

Research

Research is the first stop for anything.  You might have an idea of starting a blog, but unconsciously or consciously we all research.  I would advise doing more of this.  Read blogs, talk to your friends, ask questions.  Do some research on the techy side – find out which platforms work for you, which channels work for you.  (Although I have snapchat it really doesn’t work for me – it doesn’t fit in with my message).

Your research and your initial idea you give you a very clear idea of what you want to blog about, but who is going to read it?

Target Audience

Defining your target audience is I think one of the most important steps in marketing.  My blog is called Fabuliciousfifty – so there is a bit of clue in the title.  My audience is primarly woman who are a little older.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t get readers across the board.  Google analytics tells me that my readers range between 30 and 60 and do include some men!

I think that it is important to have an ideal reader in your mind.  Marketers even go as far as describing their ideal customers.

This might be a description for a product like healthy convenience foods – or a blog for busy working mums.

This is Mary, she is a working mother who has two kids and is short on time.  Convenience is key in her life.  Healthy eating is a priority, as is exercise.  She is 35 and living in Ireland.  The more detail and description you give to your ideal customer the better.

Knowing who you want to reach will help not only with coming up with content, but also with promotion and how you go about reaching your ideal reader.  It is also important for approaching brands as they will want to know who your target audience is.

Message

Knowing what you are and who you are talking to is really important and is quickly followed by your message, or elevator pitch.

My message is…

Fabuliciousfifty is a health, wellness and positivity blog which is all about being fabulous despite the curve balls life throws at us.  I have survived a very hard marriage and am constantly dealing with a good handful of auto-immune diseases, but I am determined to be fabulous.  There are days that I feel awful, but every day I try to be fabulous – inside and out.  I want to inspire anyone who is battling with health – especially those invisible diseases to find the fabulous no matter how they are feeling.

I also have a real passion for body confidence – and believe that we should all feel fabulous no matter what size and shape we are.

Goals and objectives

Your message links directly into your goals and objectives.  If we are following a traditional marketing plan the next step is to establish some objectives.  Objectives and goals are really important in all aspects of life.

I think it is important to go back to why you are blogging when setting objectives.  Some of my own objectives are to get meaningful comments on blog posts – I don’t get them every post but when I do – wow that really makes me feel good.  When I get personal emails telling me that a blog post really touched someone that means loads.

Many bloggers set statistics as goals.   Examples of reasonable goals might be 200 Facebook followers on your blog page, or 50 blog followers.  These are good goals, but, I honestly believe that we shouldn’t get too caught up with numbers.

Yes numbers are important – they are important for collaborations, and they are important for us too.  I just try and not get bogged down with them.

Other great objectives are to set a blogging calender – and stick to it.  Make a plan to post weekly/ bi-weekly or whatever, but most importantly try to stick with it.  I generally post on a Wednesday – sometimes more often but lately I haven’t been that well and have fallen a bit behind.  Within a space of a week I had skype messages, personal calls and texts saying how much readers look forward to Wednesday and that they were glad I was back.

Set objective such as an interview once a month, following and reading 4 other blogs per month – and of course leaving a meaningful comment.  Blog love is the best!

I also make research one of my objectives – this might involve a subject or a product range but I do believe that if you write with knowledge it does make a difference.

Actions

Finally the actions.  These actions are not really blogging itself, but more actions that promote and organise your blog.

  • Set up a blogging calender
  • Start a blogging idea bank
  • Put together your media kit
  • Set up a blog page on FB
  • Join in Twitter Hours -examples are #womaninspire and  #galway hour – there are many more for specific subjects
  • Join Facebook groups (I will be doing a post on these very soon)
  • Attend a blogging event such as ITWBN birthday or Bloggerconf
  • Join a blogger agency – just launched in Ireland the Irish Blogger Agency

I also set myself mini time goals and action plans for social media.  I do some social media coaching and always tell my clients to limit their time on social media.  It can be a real time suck – so my advice is to set yourself times for social media and then work hard at social media during that time.  At the moment I am working on my Instagram and have committed to uploading something every day, inputting 1 hashtag and finding new people to follow.

Thank you so much for reading this long post.  I would love your feedback and any ideas you have for marketing blogs.

 

Kerry x

 

 

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

 

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