Tag: writing

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

 

What would it feel like to be content?  My word of the year for 2018

What is contentment?  Is it that elusive feeling on simply being myself?

If in doubt consult the dictionary about your Word of the Year

I love the dictionary – in years gone by I always had a battered, dog-eared copy at my desk and although use the computer these days, I miss the habit of leafing through wafer thin pages to find a word I was looking for and then getting lost finding other new words to add to my vocabulary.

When I looked up the definition of content – it really resonated with how I feel right now, but more importantly how I want to feel in the next year.

Content as an adjective is described as being in a state of peaceful happiness. Synonyms included contented, satisfied, pleased.  Pretty good so far.

Content as a verb means to satisfy (someone) – “nothing would content her apart from going off to Barcelona”.  I kind of like that one too, although I may alter that to the Algarve, Tuscany or elsewhere.

The synonyms for the verb content are soothe, pacify, placate, appease, please, mollify, make happy, satisfy, still, quieten, silence.  There are some positive words here, but some have little red flags.  One thing that always happens when you choose a word is unexpected consequences. After reading these verbs, I will be quite wary.  I have learnt over the years that it is important to be content yourself before trying to placate others.

Content as a noun is simply a state of satisfaction, and that is really what I am after.  I am grateful and satisfied with what beautiful abundance that I have in my life.

Why I choose a Word of the Year every year.

Choosing a word of the year is something that has become so integral to my life.  I am so grateful for the moment many years ago that I said to myself, “Kerry, things must change”.  I chose the word balance and started the change that has given me the life I have today.

2018 will be a year in which I relax into myself and let myself be content.  I will remind myself that  I am ok just as I am and that I can take joy in being satisfied.

Three magnets for your Word of the Year

Part of the process that I have developed while following the Word of the Year programme,  which I now share with others is that I try to identify three areas in my life as ‘ magnets’ for ensuring that my word works towards my overall vision for my life.

For my year of content I have identified these three areas in no particular order.

  • To be content with what I have – especially in relation to food. When I feel content with what I have eaten I will stop, relish the taste and know that being content is enough.
  • To learn that I am ok as I am. I don’t need to push myself beyond my limitations.  Suffering from arthritis and fibromyalgia amongst other things means that pain is my constant companion and that I get very tired.  I have always been the person that pushes myself beyond, believing that there is something left in the reservoir.  I learnt the hard way last year that isn’t always the case.  Giving myself a serious concussion as well as other injuries was a big wake up call.
  • I will be open to new opportunities and then choose to be content with what life offers me. If we open our eyes, ears and hearts to what the world has to offer and simply accept, we stand a far greater chance of happiness than if we are continually looking for something better.

I am ready to embark on a wonderful year of contentment.

If you would like to know more about the Word of the Year programme I run (which is free!) join our group on Facebook.  You can also look into how choosing a single word for each year has changed my life by reading some of the other posts I have written.

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/my-word-of-the-year-idea-balance/

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/new-year-new-way/

http://fabuliciousfifty.com/writing-my-first-book-and-how-words-changed-my-life/

 

Thank you once again for reading my ramblings, and would love to hear your feedback.

I wish you a happy and contented new year.

 

Kerry xx

 

 

 

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

 

Empty Nest  – a Syndrome or an Opportunity

On Tuesday last week I waved my son off on a journey that will propel him into the real world.  I closed the door and burst into tears.

I could not really explain the tear. They just came and the more I tried to stop them, the more they flowed.  I was a bit taken aback as I thought I had my head around it all.

From birth our role as a parent is as a nurturer.  We feed our children, keep them safe and do everything we can to make them smile.

I am a proud Mom

I am incredibly proud of the young man who is my son.  My son is a hard worker who is passionate about everything he does.  In my opinion he has unusual clarity about his life’s goals and is now on the way to a wonderful future.

He has had a fascination for computer games and programming for since his early teens and has worked steadily away in tandem with finishing school and then completing a degree in Theoretical Physics.  And, now he embarks on his new adventure as a games play programmer working on his dream game.  Yes, I am proud, extremely proud.  But, this job is near Manchester in the United Kingdom. So he is not only starting out in his new career and a whole new chapter of his life, but he has moved to another country.

Of course I will be visiting, and I have already started looking at flights and planning get-aways, but ultimately this week marks the end of my role as a mother to a child and the beginning of true adulthood for my son.

So an empty nest.  What does that mean?

In some ways I feel a fraud talking about my empty nest as he and I have lived apart for a while now between college and other things.  I did have the joy of having him under my roof for a couple of months after college which was a gift which I cherish.

An empty nest for me it marks the end of an era.  My child is now a tax paying adult!  It changes nothing about how I feel about him.  I will continue to worry about if he is eating well and meeting nice people, and that he is happy.  That part of mothering never turns off.  I do know however that as he left the nest, he is ready to fly.

I am sure that he will feel the excitement I once felt when I started out on my own and moved into my first flat with my sister.  The day I was shown my first desk at my first job, and the day I received my first pay cheque.

I have allowed myself a few days to get used to the idea that we no longer life in the same country, never mind the same house or town.  I have had a glass (or two) of Prosecco to celebrate his success and talk endlessly about how I feel, but now it is time to face up to what this empty nest means for me.

An Empty Nest as a launch pad?

I am at a stage in my life when I too can stand on the edge of the nest and decide where to fly.  What changes can I make in my life?  What destinations can I choose to fly too.

I know that many people of my age face the same challenges.  In a way it is an exciting phase for us empty nesters too.  We can play the game of reinvention.  I am putting myself in the way of opportunities.  I am determined to embrace my creative side and work on my art with the long-term aim of holding an exhibition.

You don’t get to 53 without accumulating. I have so many ‘things’ in terms of items that need dusting and tidying. So instead of shopping I am looking to spend my time and money on experiences.  I have booked to go to the National Gallery to see the Vermeer exhibition, signed up for an international craft class, and am playing short away trips.

South Africa is my destination in October and I am planning on spending time creating some wonderful new memories with friends old and new during my trip.  I will also stop off in Dubai for some special family time with my sister.

I have decided to consciously consider myself a Mommy bird who looks at her nest and instead of seeing it as empty sees it as an opportunity to fly.

As I continue to celebrate being fabulous in my fifties I hope you come back to share my journey here.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

Where have I been? A little life update

Why I neglected my blog

I love my blog, but between one thing and another, I have found myself neglecting www.fabuliciousfifty.com.  Here is a little life update.

At first I felt guilty and then I felt upset.  I then sat down to figure out why I wasn’t blogging. And gave myself a free pass for a few weeks while I got a few things in order.

A little bit about my work life

Followers of my blog will know that I had to give up full-time work a while ago.  I don’t mind saying that I found this hard.  Hard not to be doing what I was passionate about, and hard to complete a working day when it was required.

I am delighted to say that I have re-organised my life, retrained and am now combining my years of experience with new skills.

As part of this ‘new me’ I now have my own dedicated website built for me by the talented Sinead from Mini Media.  Have a look at www.kerrymanning.net, where you can read all about how I keep myself busy when I am not blogging or crafting.

You will notice that there is a section on speaking. It is a wonderful privilege to stand up in front of people and share my story and my philosophy of life.

You will also find some links to podcasts and other exciting collaborations.

Writing my book

I have also been working away at my book  I am so excited that I have now reached the milestone of 20 thousand words.  Quite a bit more to go, and it is only a first draft, but it feels good to put words on paper (in a digital version).  This is a very personal book, and it isn’t easy to write.  It is coming along and I believe that I will make my goal of finishing before the end of 2017.

I am the manager of my own health

My health continues to be a soundtrack in my life.  I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.  Perhaps I was hoping for a magic pill which would take all the pain away.

The result was quite the opposite and I felt down and despondent when I was simply told I was getting worse and the arthritis was spreading.  No magic bullet, no cure and only painkillers on offer.

My normal positivity deserted me for a little while.  Thankfully it returned and I realised that the only person who could help me was me.  I have the freedom to try different treatments, experiment with mindfulness, creativity and pacing.

It isn’t easy, and I think this contributed to me not writing much for a while.  I have no choice really but to accept that this is my journey and it is up to me how I travel.

There will always be days when I dig deep and find the energy to throw myself into exciting things with abandon.  And, yes these will be followed by days when rest will be a requirement, as will medication.

I am determined to live life to the fullest.  Why shouldn’t I?

Being Creative

Being creative is, for me as essential as my favourite liquid, tea.  I strongly believe that when you are being creative you are in a state of flow, and it is when you are in this beautiful place you fill yourself up.  So many of us are always giving and sharing and we need to fill our own cup in order to continue.

With this in mind I have been very busy with my creative endeavours.  I have been teaching my class in Spiddal every month.  This is so enjoyable, both the creativity of coming up with the projects and the special time spend sharing laughs with other creative souls.

Another highlight over the past weeks has been teaching An Grianan – the Irish Country Woman’s Association adult education centre.  What a beautiful place, I can’t wait to go back again.

I have also just completed a big batch of handmade cards for the lovely Filippa of Harvest Breeze in Westport.  Her gift shop is a true treasure trove for all the senses.  If you are in Westport, please do pop in.

A new look to my blog

I am back blogging so expect posts to become regular again.  I am also working on a little blog make-over with a little more structure to highlight the areas I love blogging about.

This is a sincere thank you for your support and for reading my blog.

Kerry xx

 

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

I am broken and other words to be aware of!

We really need to be conscious of our conversations, especially those we have with ourselves.

Beware the power of your words

I used to tell myself, ‘I am broken’.  I felt broken.  My hands were sore, my body ached.  Everything I did took effort. There were a lot more utterances of I can’t than I can.

Emotionally I felt broken too.  I had been through quite a bit during my marriage and the break-up and I didn’t seem to be able to settle into a new relationship.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that the words that I spoke and the thoughts I had were just making things worse.

Starting a new conversation

In January this year, I started on a new career path as a business coach specialising in Personal Branding.  I have been training, practicing, reading and learning for months.  It has been a privilege to work alongside one of my oldest friends who is a business coach supremo – with two masters degrees under her belt and a PhD in progress.

As I was a bit cash strapped I offered to do some content writing and marketing for her company. Fair exchange for some of the tutelage.  The first job I was tasked with was writing about Conscious Leadership Conversations.  The idea of being so conscious of a conversation was new to chatter box me.

The message was simple but profound.  The content of our conversations is vital and can ultimately lead to increased productivity and efficiency.  Executives spend a huge amount of time in meetings – and in conversation and the quality of that conversation is vital.  But what about the conversations we have with ourselves.

Finding a new place for me

Over the past 7 months I have done all sorts of self exploration and personal growth projects and the message is clear – we need to be really conscious of the words that come out of our mouths (and the of our thoughts.)

Sitting down at your desk and saying – even to yourself – I am so stressed, I will never get through this.  She is driving me mad. I am so frustrated with this place.  All those words are basically prophecies.

When I was working in Westport and had to take a half day off to go to the hospital, I would go in an hour early and get stuck in.  I set myself tasks and motivated myself telling myself that I could get everything done and be in the car by 1pm.  I also reminded myself that everything would go smoothly and I wouldn’t get any calls on the road.  Those half days were sometimes the most productive days I had.

So now, despite the days when I am tired and in pain, I speak to myself kindly and wisely.  I guard against saying words like broken, stressed and frustrated.

Now I am very conscious of my conversations with others and with myself.

I love words and have been practicing my ‘word of the year’ idea for 5 years now.  Words are incredibly powerful.

If you want to read some of my previous word of the year posts have a look at these links – Balancewriting about my words, and this year’s word – detail.

Be aware of the power of your words, they can come back to bite your or they can lift you closer to your dreams.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry x

 

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

 

 

Finding your blogging voice

Finding your blogging voice

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

 

Life Lessons from my Granny

Lessons learnt from my Granny

I am privileged to have had many woman in my life who have guided me and shaped me and made me who I am. Today I would like to acknowledge the life lessons taught by my maternal grandmother – Olive Hanson.

My granny passed away in 1978, when I was 13, I may have been young but I have remembered she taught me some great lessons.

My granny was born Olive Pickavance (I do like that name) and was one of 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls.  All the girls had names of plants – Olive, Iris, May, Hazel and Violet.   My granny was a lady, and one with a sharp wit.

I have fond memories of staying over at my grandparents on a Friday evening.  We went to sleep with a huge sense of anticipation of the adventure the next day.  My grandfather brought us tea in bed, something that didn’t happen at home.  We got up and got dressed with our frilly knee socks and black patent shoes and got ready to ride the bus to town.  Saturday morning in town meant a visit to the hairdresser for my gran (a proud supporter of the blue rinse) and then a visit to the multi-storied department stores which have now disappeared.  The excitement of tea and scones in the tea room and a little purchase or some kind meant we returned home on a high.

These trips were the ignited a passion for independence which had me riding the busses for many years.  At 16 I rode the bus into town and secured myself a job selling children’s shoes.

Here are a few great life lessons I learnt from my Granny.

  1. You are never too old to learn. Granny learnt to drive at 63 before my Grandad passed away.  I think it is fair to say that she was never a great driver but it didn’t stop her getting around.  My little sister always maintained she could hear Granny arriving.
  2. The importance of underwear. Granny always maintained that you should have good undies in case you were ever in an accident.  Years later I was in an accident and found myself lying in the ambulance trying to remember what I had put on in the morning.  Luckily I was ok!
  3. The value of a good story.  Granny was a great storyteller. Sometimes the stories grew and grew like the story of the cat that was so big it could fill a bath.  I did see the cat once and it was big, but not quite that big.  Stories are our history and really should be passed on
  4. The need for walking shoes and sitting down shoes. As a young child I couldn’t understand what Granny meant when she talked about sitting down shoes.  Now I know exactly what she meant.  I have both types on my shoe rack.
  5. The importance of being well dressed. Granny was always elegant and well dressed. She valued her clothes and would spend a good deal of time choosing a piece of fabric that would then go off to the dress-maker. She also didn’t like black.
  6. The value of a social occasion. As she got older she often attended the funerals of her friends. She wore Navy and saw these occasions as not only an opportunity to pay her respects but also to socialise, a wise woman.  She also loved a good wedding for the same reason.
  7. How important quotes and sayings are. She loved sayings – perhaps I have inherited that from her too. One of my favourites was – You would notice an inch on the end of your nose.  This referred to skirts that were too long or too short. (She was way ahead of her time would have enjoyed Pinterest)
  8. The value of occasion.  She had a real sense of occasion. A tea-tray was set and cups and saucers and always a little something to nibble would be brought out for a visit after school. Making small things special.
  9. The importance of high standards. Always told her three daughters to put a price on themselves.  It has been something I have never forgotten – the importance of valuing yourself – featured on  my blog here.  Her three daughters, my Mum, Aunty Ingrid and Aunty Elna were reminded – Remember you are a Hanson. Basically behave yourself and keep high standards.
  10. Everyone is special.  Granny had a way about her that you always believed that the time she spent with you was special.  A real gift that I hope I have inherited.

My granny was born on 12 March – she would have been 109 on Saturday and probably still dishing out wisdom in the form of stories.  I will set a tea-tray and sit down and raise a cup to Olive Hanson – thank you for the lessons you taught me Granny.

 

Kerry x

 

 

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