Tag: inspirational women

A New Year, a New Way

word-of-the-year

The time between Christmas and New Year excites me.  It may seem odd to some but I just love this week which for me is laced with anticipation.

I don’t like New Year’s Eve parties.  The false anticipation that something is going to change as the clock strikes midnight.

I do however, love a new book.  Cracking the spine and smelling the pages.  My Kindle is my companion these days, but my love of books has simply transferred to notebooks, journals and books with blank pages. A new year is like a book of blank pages.  365 days of opportunity to be in charge of your life.

Five years ago I was certainly not in charge of my life.  In fact I was juggling so much and lost focus and balance in a huge way.

I changed my life and sitting here today I can say that I am happy.  Today I feel strong and in control of my life.

A Word for the Year

I said goodbye to New Year’s resolutions, and instead for the last 5 years I have chosen a word for each year.

This strategy has been core to the changes and most of all improvements I have made in my life.

Balance

My first word was balance and I tried a few techniques to incorporate balance into my life. It worked in a big way across all areas of my life even on my core balance which wasn’t in my mind at the time.  I ended the year being able to stand on one leg!

Change

The second year I chose the word change and again used the simple techniques to incorporate it into my life.  By April of that year – only four months in – my life had changed to such an extent that there was little that hasn’t changed.

Discipline

Discipline was my word the following year, and this simple word focussed on areas of my life that needed strengthening.  It wasn’t an easy year, but it was a year of small changes that made big differences.

Creative

After those three years I needed a word that would feed my soul.  I have always been creative (I honestly believe that we all are), but I had been neglecting my creative side.  Creative – what a beautiful and fun word to have.  I started my blog, I got my paint brushes out, and I started teaching crafts again.  Most of all though – I fed my soul. (I also started writing my book)

Detail

There are two types of people in the world – big picture people and detail people.  I would definitely fall into the category of a big picture person. My career as a marketing strategist and an entrepreneur was all about big thinking, but detail was always my weakness.  For 2016 I chose detail as my word.  I needed this word – I really did!  I have been through a transition this year and putting a focus on detail has been essential.  I am so glad I chose it!

I also have a powerful word that has become an overriding word in my life and that is Fabulous.  Regular readers of the blog will know how much I love this word and what it means to me.

What will I choose as my world of the year for 2017?

During this reflective time I am again contemplating which word I will pick for 2017.  I know this programme works and I am excited to be sharing it with members of the Fabulous Woman group on Facebook.  Join me for a Facebook Live video every night and am delighted to be sharing this special planning time with people from all over the world. It was exciting to see people popping up from America, South Africa, Ireland, Germany, Scotland and more.

I will be back in a couple of days to share my word for 2017.  If you would like to join me on this journey please feel free to join the Facebook Group (only girls allowed), my page on Facebook and by subscribing to the blog.

I am excited!

Thank you for reading.

Kerry x

Where Women Inspire – a report on a wonderful event!

womensinspire-1

Women Inspire – it’s that simple.  I am privileged to be a member of the Women Inspire Network on Facebook and Twitter where I receive daily inspiration.

The privilege was even greater when I was honoured to speak at the recent Women Inspire Event – From Kitchen Table to Building an Empire, held at the City North Hotel in Dublin.

I have to admit I was excited and then intimidated to share the stage with women that I admire.  Anna Scheller came over from Texas to give us some awesome tips on sales, Lilach Bullock, one of Forbes Top 20 Women Social Media Power Influencers flew in from London.  (more…)

Fabulous Women delight in each other’s growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So today let us remember this Wednesday quotation:

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

Thanks so much for reading and for the support.

Kerry x

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

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

 

bake it easy fabuliciousfifty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Kerry

Social Isolation – the curse of the self-employed

Social Isolation is a phenomenon that is often associated with the elderly.  I do believe that it effects many other people too and can be a curse of those working from home.  This is a long post, but I really hope you read it through to the end.

Social Isolation

I had a visit from a very wise friend recently.  We were chatting about my new circumstances.  A quick update for anyone who may not know I had to give up work in December due to ill health.  I am now ‘pottering about’ doing a bit of writing, working on my blog and exploring opportunities for the future where I can create an new career where I can work part time, but also on my own timetable to fit it with when I feel well enough.

My friend listened to what I had to say and then asked me about social isolation.  I laughed and said oh don’t worry about me I am very outgoing and I am always out and about.  This isn’t entirely true as sometimes I am physically too sore to do too much.

Working from home is becoming more and more commonplace both for the self-employed and for people who have the option offered by their employers.  There are great perks.  You can put a wash on between calls, nip out to collect the kids from school or even to buy a bottle of milk.

There are downsides too and social isolation is one of these.  Social isolation is defined as the complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. It differs from loneliness, which reflects a temporary lack of contact with other humans.

Social isolation isn’t a choice, it is something that creeps up on you while you are busy.

I strongly believe that there are degrees of social isolation.  An ‘at home’ worker can spend hours a day alone.  I am quite happy with my own company for much of the time, however the value of social interaction is huge.

Spending time with colleagues and friends is one of the best forms of communication.  Conversation sparks ideas and thoughts and generally gets us out of ourselves.

Social isolation can lead to depression, social anxiety and a loss of self-esteem.  This can result in the ultimate vicious circle where you might become more reluctant to interact socially and withdraw even more.

Since I have been ‘home alone’ for the last six months I have been very conscious of the fact that I no longer need to get up in the morning, do my hair and make-up and go off to work.  Although I have not missed all the office politics, I have missed the chats around the kettle, lunches with colleagues and meetings. I have also missed getting dressed up.

I just love meetings.  I love the interaction and flow of ideas.  I enjoy deadlines and the challenges of working as a team to beat them.

So how to ensure that we don’t suffer from  social isolation?

  1. Go to an opening of an envelope

My partner says this what I do.  Seriously though if there is any opportunity to interact I take it.  I have attended coffee mornings, focus groups, blogger events and meet-ups.

Martha Fraser who recently organised the Shine Adventure an event for online businesses facilitates free meet-ups in different areas.  A couple of hours and a cup of coffee with online colleagues – a great idea.

The Women’s Inspire Network started by Samantha Kelly (aka Tweeting Goddess) also holds great networking and inspirational events.

 

  1. Become a lady who lunches (or a gentleman)

Lunch or even a morning coffee (or tea and a scone if you are me) is a great way to break up the day and to have a good natter.  I have been very brave and grown my network by simply asking.  If I have been following someone online that is very interesting, I will call up and ask them to meet me for lunch.  What is the worst that can happen?  They could say no or perhaps they will say yes and you will have made a new friend and contact.

  1. Beware social media it is a joy and a curse

I really enjoy social media and see a huge value in it both in terms of keeping up with friends and family and making new connections.  I have a wonderful group that I created with a friend called Fabulous Woman – it inspires me every day.

The key with social media is to know how much is enough?  I aim to spend enough time to be inspired and connected without spending so long that I start suffering from FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) and a feeling of isolation – where I start to imagine the whole world is having a better time with more friends and more cocktails than I ever will.

 

I love linking point 2 and point 3.  Meet someone on Social media and take it off-line – invite them to tea!

 

  1. Keep a diary and keep it full enough

A diary has been my constant companion in all the years I worked.  It still is.  It is a great way of not only organising yourself, but also creating balance in your life.  I try to schedule at least one – out of the home office – activity a week.  Keeping a diary also helps to track what I do work on, so at the end of the week I can sit back and reflect on what I have achieved and what did and didn’t work.

  1. Keeping up with friends and family – thank you Skype

I also use my diary to remind myself (I suffer from the odd bit of brain fog) to set up calls with my family and friends far and wide.  We are lucky to live in an age of technology where you can have a chat with an old school friend as though they were in your living room.  I have even carried the iPad around the house showing off my cooking prowess.

  1. Walking and exercise

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am an avid convert to the daily walk.   I try to get out every day dodging the showers if necessary.  I was walking a couple of days ago, enjoying the sunshine in my bright blue coat.  I smile and say hi to anyone I pass on the road.  I was walking along in the town and a gentleman looked at me and said – my you have a happy face.  I wished him happy Monday and moved on.

 

These are some tips and ideas that I have used and would suggest.  There is a way to prevent social isolation when you are working from home, and I do believe it needs to be a conscious choice.

May is mental health month and as someone that has suffered with depression over many years I think it is important that we raise awareness for mental health.

Thank you for reading

 

Kerry x

 

Celebrating Fat and Fabulous with Ashley Tipton of Project Runway

 

Ashley Tipton Fabuliciousfifty

Project Runway has always been one of my guilty secrets.  Of all the reality shows this is the one where I sit quietly with a cup of tea and absorb.  Warning – don’t talk to me or interrupt – this is my program.

Season 14 kicked off and I was even more excited to meet Ashley Nell Tipton, a big beautiful woman who wanted to win to launch her own plus sized range.  This was a woman living my dream.

Ashley is all about self acceptance and loving you.

Her mission: to represent for full-figured women and to enable them to have options to express their style and individuality through fashion just like women who wear “standard” size.

Project Runway Season 14

Throughout the challenges on Project Runway, Ashley designed for the standard models and early on she began to shine. It wasn’t about designing plus sized fashion, it was about designing beautiful garments. I loved her quirky taste and very wearable fashion sense.  I wanted to buy her clothes already.

Early on in the season during a team challenge some of the other very trendy girl competitors tried to ‘throw her under the bus’.  It was ugly and quite obviously planned.  I was delighted when Kelly Osbourne called them on it!  Bullying is never ok in my book, and despite showing vulnerability, Ashley showed them by winning challenge after challenge.

Fabuliciousfifty Project Runway winnerAshley Nell Tipton’s finale show stole my heart.  I was metaphorically ordering everything that came down the runway, other than the shorts, because I am beyond wearing shorts really!  I didn’t love this fashion because it was for plus sized woman and was being modelled by plus size models.  I loved it because it was fresh and wearable.  It had style and was simply fabulous.

The finale show was themed around Mexico City in the 50s and featured the most wonderful head pieces full of flowers.  If I get invited to Ladies Day at the Galway Races this year, I will make myself one of these!

All the fabrics were hand dyed in unique shades of my perennial favourites of pink, aqua and violet.

I have to admit that I created my own spoiler.  About ten minutes before the Project Runway winner  was announced I picked up my iPad and started googling to see if I could buy something from Ashely’s collection.  I immediately found out that she had won, but to be honest it didn’t take away from the joy of watching the results.

Clothes and confidence

When it comes to clothes and fashion I believe that it is all about how you feel wearing the clothes.  If you feel fabulous you will exude confidence and that will make your inner beauty shine.

On the other hand if you are uncomfortable or conscious of a bad fit you will feel awkward and this will filter through to the rest of your demeanour.

I am so excited that Ashley has secured a deal with JC Penney to produce a line of clothing for them. The clothes are expected in Autumn and Winter this year.

This way all the fabulous girls will get to wear gorgeous clothes!

Fun, funky and fat.  Why not just say it like Ashley does and not be apologetic about it.

Thanks for reading and celebrating a truly fabulous woman.

Kerry x

Human Kindness – the Story of the Yellow Handbag

The Yellow Handbag and a story of kindness

 

This is a little story about a yellow handbag, but really it is a story about human kindness.

I was visiting London just after Christmas and was delighted to receive a beautiful yellow handbag as a gift from my sister. I was excited, and immediately changed everything over.

The next day I packed up my things to catch a train to Birmingham where I was attending a craft exhibition at the NEC.  I felt really smart heading off with my new handbag and a borrowed backpack.

I need to stop here and draw a little picture of where I was in my life at the time.  I was suffering from severe depression and had made a decision (on my own) to come off the anti-depressants.  While I was over in London my Dad was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, and I was trying to process this.  Life was a little hard, to be honest but I was still determined that all would be well.

On the second day of the exhibition I packed up early and had a quick breakfast in my hotel in the centre of Birmingham before catching the rush hour train from Birmingham Central to Birmingham International.  I boarded the train with my backpack, my yellow handbag and my bag of goodies from the exhibition.

What I didn’t realise was that my body was going into withdrawal from the anti-depressants and that quite honestly I was cracking up.

It is a short distance from the station to the exhibiton.  Considering the day ahead, I walked along and then  I stopped and stumbled and nearly fell over in shock.  I didn’t have my handbag with me.

Passport, money, phone,  train ticket, air ticket, house and car keys, everything.  I felt physically sick.

I stumbled along to the organiser’s office where I told them what had happened.  They offered me a seat and the use of the phone.  By this stage everything had closed in on me.  I was crying uncontrollably.  The shock added to everything else that was going on in my life, the worry about my Dad and the loss of my handbag had flattened me.

I had no idea how I could even get back to London, never mind Ireland.

I walked back to the station and asked about my ticket.  “You need to purchase another ticket to London”, I was told.  I walked back to the NEC – I didn’t know what to do.

Human Kindness from a friend

On returning to the exhibition I tried to focus and realised that I needed money of some sort to at least get back to London and to my sister.  Thankfully Sara from Crafters Companion, who was exhibiting, knew me didn’t even hesitate – she loaned me 50 Pounds.

I tried to enjoy the exhibition but by this stage my heart was not in it.  I felt broken.

Walking back to the station, yet again I really didn’t know what to do.  Something led me back to the enquiries office where I had been turned away earlier.  The man on duty clearly saw my distress and told me to go down to Platform 7.

Human Kindness from a stranger

There I met the kindest man who took my missing handbag seriously.  He called everyone he knew.  He traced the train down to London where it was on a siding being cleaned.  He spoke to the cleaners.  He left no stone un-turned.  He checked every station along the way.  He checked lost property.  I just sat there with my crumpled tissue feeling lost and desperate.

Eventually he had exhausted all his options and we called the police.  There had been a number of incidents where handbags had been stolen they told me.  They took down the report.

Just as I sat down the phone rang.  ‘Stay here,” he said.  Minutes later he walked in with my handbag.  My beautiful handbag.  ‘Check it please,” he said.  I did and nothing at all was missing.

Human Kindness from a woman I never met

The story was that one of the staff members on Virgin Trains had seen me get on the train at Birmingham Central with the yellow handbag and seen me get off at Birmingham International without it.  She was near the area where I was sitting, and rescued my handbag and brought it back to Birmingham International where she knew I would be stranded.

This was quite a few years ago, but I have never forgotten the kindness of the man who helped me search for the bag and the woman who had cared enough to bring it back to me.  I don’t know if it is possible, but perhaps through social media I might find this angel and be able to thank her properly.

If you have a kindness story, I would love to hear it.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

 

 

 

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