Tag: inspiration

Spend Time not Money the Christmas

When I think of Christmas I think of traditions.  Those little rituals that cause you to feel warm and happy.  For me, it’s these little  things you do year after year that make my festive season special.  Spending time rather than money

I have put together a round-up of Christmas traditions that have been part of my family for years, and others that I have gathered from other fabulous woman around the world.

Here are my top 8 Christmas traditions (in no particular order):

  1. The treat cupboard.  So many of us remember our Mom’s having a special cupboard or shelf set aside for Christmas treats.  We start buying early and slowly it fills up with lovely goodies that are only revealed on the 24 December.  I love the illicit delight of knowing that there is chocolate in the house, but it cannot be eaten.  This is a really practical tradition too – because it is a great idea to spread the cost.
  2. This leads neatly into a fabulous Christmas tradition that I started when my son was born (23 years ago). I received a book call the Ultimate Christmas Book by Jane Newdick.  In it she describes a tradition called the 13 desserts which originates in Provence.  On Christmas eve you set out a plate with a risen cake (I use a small Pantone) and 12 other treats including fruits, nuts, nougat, biscuits and more.  These are to represent Christ and the 12 Apostles.  The idea is that this plate of goodness is to be refilled over the festive season, and welcomes people to your home.  In my home it is simply called ‘the plate’ and is an essential part of Christmas.
  3. Christmas music. My guilty pleasure.  There is nothing I like more than cranking up the volume and singing along.  I wait with eager anticipation for Christmas FM to come online.  Christmas music is an absolute must when decorating the tree, cooking the turkey and wrapping gifts.
  4. Christmas Cards – giving and receiving. I think it is quite sad that the ritual of sending cards seems to be dying out.  I make my own cards and love the process of checking addresses, writing short messages and getting a pile ready for the post office.  It is a really good way of remembering people who you might not see that often and touching base at least once a year.  I also have to admit I love the thunk of a Christmas card through the door, and delight in seeing who it is from, and savouring the connection.
  5. Books and chocolate on Christmas Eve.  Although we normally allow one gift from under the tree on Christmas eve, I have recently read of the practice of receiving gifts of books and chocolates the night before Christmas and then snuggling up for a good read and a nibble.  Jolabokaflod – literally translated as book flood is an Icelandic tradition that I will definitely be adopting.
  6. Decorating the tree. We all have special dates we start, and then special traditions.  Each decoration I have is individual and many are handmade.  As each decoration come out, it tells a story.  So many of us have decorations and baubles bought to mark special occasions like the birth of a new child.  that mean a lot or decorations that hold lots of memories.  Put on the Christmas music, break out the mince pies and keep decorating.
  7. Christmas Baking. It doesn’t matter what you choose, but almost everyone you speak to has a Christmas baking tradition.  Every sense is awakened by baking – including the obvious delicious tastes and smells!  In our home we have to have homemade shortbread – which is consumed when unwrapping stockings on Christmas morning.
  8. The Gingerbread House – although this could be considered baking it isn’t really. Every year I buy a kit. Which we assemble on Christmas eve.  It has progressed from a purely Mom affair through a family construction that was more fun than beautiful to a carefully engineered construction.  I do know that it always means lots of laughs and the gift of time spent together.

Christmas is a great time to think of the people we share our life with, and to spend time, rather than money.

I would love to wish you and your family a wonderful festive season as you take time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Happy making memories.

Kerry xx

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

 

I went back to work in the corporate world at almost 50!

At 48 I went back to work in the corporate world.  It was scary.

I truly began to understand the meaning of fake it until you make it when I found myself in hot water for not replying to a meeting request in Outlook.  Outlook hadn’t been invented the last time I played corporate games.

The reason I was dressed in black and wearing heels for the first time in 10 years, and literally shaking in said heels was an interview.  This was something that hadn’t happened in more than 20 years.

My back to work story

My marriage broke down, and at 48 I realised that the only way forward was for me to get a job that paid well.  I had my qualifications and lots of life experience, but nothing currently corporate.

There are a few things I did that really paid dividends:

  • I paid someone to write-up my CV – CV styles change, and it is honestly the best investment.
  • I bought some corporate clothes – it really is true that you must dress for the job (and salary) that you want.
  • Brush up on your IT skills. Absolutely everything had changed in the time I was out of the loop.  Although I used a computer at home I needed some up-skilling.
  • Learn a bit of jargon – it seems trite, but it really helps to fit in.
  • Study – read blogs, articles and anything you can get your hands on – especially if you are aiming at a particular industry.
  • Set up a twitter account and start following industry leaders
  • Set up and work on your LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is basically your online CV and really important.  Use the CV created (see above) as a guide.  These two should really match..
  • Google yourself – your prospective employers will do this, so be aware of might come up.
  • Check your Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – and delete anything you don’t want to be found.

Subsequent to going back to work I trained in Personal Branding Coaching – you can find out more about this here.  We all have a brand and going back to work – you need to be aware of this and craft a brand that works for you.

Back to work Tips from Teenagers

My son, at 16 was my back to work coach.  ‘Stop worrying about what you are going to wear Mom, you need to study for your interview’.  Really?  I had never studied for an interview before, so I took to Google and researched common interview questions.  I found out that you also need to research the company, and have your own set of questions prepared.

Once I had the study part done, he did advise me on what to wear, and it meant leaving my hippy arty clothes in the cupboard.

Armed with my homework and wearing my new outfit I set off for my interview.  Literally shaking inside, I kept reminding myself that I had run my own business, and I had started a business in Ireland and marketed it with absolutely no budget.  I might be older than all the other candidates, but that could be turned into a positive too.

I surprised myself (and a few others) by nabbing myself a job in corporate financial research as a marketing manager – after a very long spell out of the corporate world.  This was only just the beginning.

A sandwich, and a briefcase doesn’t necessarily crack it.

The first day of work I was literally shaking.  I got dressed twice despite having chosen my clothes the night before.  My confidence wasn’t great, my marriage was in tatters and I was taking a huge step into the unknown.

It was horrible.  I am not going to pretend otherwise.  I arrived at work, was shown my desk and that was it.  Almost everyone in the office was more than 20 years younger than me, and they didn’t speak to me.  (There was a reason for this but I didn’t find out for months).

My new boss who was based in London flew over to meet me, which helped somewhat but the truth was I was very out of my depth.  I was receiving emails and meeting notifications and having to figure out the internal communication system, while smiling and acting like I had everything under control.

It does get better

The following day my marketing colleague and boss headed back to London and I was on my own.  On my own with my good friend Google.  I googled everything and learnt fast.

The easiest part of the learning curve was applying everything I knew about marketing to financial research which was a new industry for me.  The hardest part was learning how to deal with difficult people and office politics.  I also learnt to trust myself and to follow my own instincts.

My back to work story got better and better.  Like a baby bird (of 48) I learnt to fly, and to proudly put forward my opinions and follow those instincts.

During lunchtime I had a sandwich at my computer and taught myself everything about modern marketing.  I learnt how to harness social media and how to convert the basics of research into an online accessible web portal.

Looking back I am really proud of what I achieved.  I am now retired for medical reasons but I can look back and know that I did it!  Yes, I went back to the work in the corporate world and succeeded.

Thank you for reading my story.

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

The Joy of a Solo Cinema Outing

I love the cinema.  The allure of the darkness, of being totally drawn into a story with no multi-tasking allowed.

I am not sure quite why, but I always believed you needed a companion for the cinema.  Someone to share popcorn with and chat.  That is fun, but I have found it isn’t a necessity.  There is something quite indulgent about taking yourself to the cinema.  Choosing the movie that you want to see, selecting your snack and drink and allowing yourself the luxury of a couple of hours in darkness where you are totally engrossed.

Being Brave

The first time I flew solo to the cinema, I was fresh out of a relationship and feeling a bit lonely.  There was a movie that I really wanted to see.  Maudie is a wonderful movie about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis who suffered debilitating arthritis.  I was intrigued, and I really wanted to experience her story.  I put my feelers out asking friends and relations if they fancied a visit to the cinema.  No takers.  I had a good chat with myself and decided to simply go by myself.  It was liberating!  (On a side note, if you can find this movie on Netflix or another streaming platform watch it!)

This solo movie thing has become a bit of a quiet addiction.  I drive past the Eye Cinema in Galway (my favourite haunt) I am tempted to pull in just to see what is on.  Finding your Feet – a wonderful romantic comedy featuring Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton and Joanna Lumley gave me so much delight.  It lifted my spirits and when it was over – I took myself off to the 5-star g Hotel for a solo cappuccino.  I was getting the hang of this.

Go solo to the cinema this month

I have lots of friends and a wonderful partner, but I am now a firm believer in flying solo at the cinema.  I like the 3pm time slot which seems to feature my kind of movie.  My latest outing was to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  I had read the book some time ago and was intrigued to see how it translated onto the big screen.  What a delight.  A really beautiful representation of a wonderful story line and truly complex characters.  As a budding writer I was fascinated by the story within a story.  I loved seeing how the story unfolded as each character revealed their part in the establishment of this book club during the Nazi occupation of Guernsey.   I won’t add too many spoilers as this is still showing.

Modern life is all about multi-tasking.  We watch television while checking Facebook.  We are constantly juggling tasks and activities.  How often though, do we simply do one thing – for a couple of hours?

I now consider myself a card-carrying member of the solo cinema club, and a cheerleader too.

I’d love to hear your movie recommendations – I know I am going to be indulging again very soon – there is so much good stuff coming up.

 

Thank you so much for reading about my viewing habits.

 

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.

 

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.

The Magic of Three – and how this little number helps me in my day to day life.

Three is a magic number.  Or so I am told.

I have been having a bit of a tough time lately.  I had two bad falls which set me back a bit.  As I stumbled around the house trying to get focus and motivate myself, I realised that three really is my magic number in so many ways.

I make a commitment to tackle (at least) three things off my to do list every day.  It might seem little, but when you look back on the week, know that you have achieved 21 things.  By using this focus I know that I move forward.  Sometimes little and often, but I do achieve what I set out to do.

As someone suffering from chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia it isn’t always easy.  Even if I think of keeping my home tidy – it is overwhelming.  By the 7th day of concussion and I was getting frustrated.  Three things I kept telling myself.  Put a wash on, unpack the dishwasher and wipe the counter.  Then you can sit down.  A little later I tackled three computer related tasks, and after that sent three thank you messages to friends who have helped me out.

By the time I got into bed I felt a real sense of accomplishment despite the fact that I was ‘under the weather’.

The Magic of Three – in so many ways

Every night before I go to sleep I always recall three things I am grateful for.  Sometimes it is more than three, but never less.  This really puts me into such a positive place.

The more I think about it three is a number that resonates through my life.  It is a small number but a perfect number.  It is just enough but not overwhelming.  Add a few threes together and you can really rack up some impressive personal statistics.

Imagine if we saved 3 Euro a day.  That isn’t a lot – a cup of coffee.  Over a month that is 90 Euro.  Over a year it is over a 1000 Euro – more than enough for a holiday.

Three and its multiples are also a great way of dividing up your day.  As I mentioned before I need to pace myself due to my conditions.  By dividing my day into 30 and 60 minute chunks I can ensure that I get enough rest time and also get things done.

I have followed this principle for a while now and I can honestly say that 3 is my magic number.

The internet of things

The internet is awash wish apps, blog posts, and articles confirming that by simply using a formula of three we can become happier and more effective in life.

I have downloaded the 3 Good Things app for my phone and am going to see how that goes.

Before writing this blog post I did a little bit of internet research as to why 3 is a number that seems to have magical properties.

  • As a creative person I was delighted to be reminded that there are 3 primary colours
  • Almost all religions have 3 as a sacred number
  • Mathematicians will confirm that 3 is a really cool number.  It is the first prime number and of course is the first number that forms a geometric shape – the triangle

So many things come in threes – here are a few random ones that delighted me.

  • The beginning, the middle and the end
  • The past, the present and the future
  • The three bones in the human ear
  • The three little pigs
  • The beauty of 3 dimensions
  • And of course the perfect 3  minute egg.

Frivolity aside, I am happy that I have the number three in my life.  It really helps me to pace myself, feel productive and puts me in a lovely positive mindset as I am reminded daily that we have at least three things to be grateful for.

Thank you so much for reading xx

Kerry

 

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.

 

Believe in yourself, and always wear your invisible crown

I am proud of being a woman.  It isn’t an easy job, but it is certainly one worth doing.

I am a Mom, a sister, a daughter and a friend.  I am also a girlfriend, a colleague. I am a marketer, a blogger and a writer.

Most of all though I am strong.

I am plus sized.  I battle with my weight.  I battle with my health, and I have a history.

All of this just makes me stronger.

If there was one piece of advice I could give today – International Women’s Day it would be to value yourself.

Always wear your Invisible Crown.

I came across this quotation years ago and it immediately resonated with me.  By wearing my crown (and I have a few real ones as well as my precious invisible one), you are placing a value on yourself.  You are saying I am worth it – no matter what anyone else thinks or implies. (This even featured on one of my earliest blog posts)

If every young girl today, growing up with the pressure of social media and the celebrity culture could understand her true value she would be guaranteed to grow into a strong and beautiful woman.

Today it is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating women in my life.  Those that have touched me in small and big ways and inspired me to keep going and to believe in myself.

I am also celebrating me.  Wearing my invisible crown and knowing that I am worth it.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Kerry x

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