The busy- mum-do-gooders’ Bloggy Blog – The reason why . . . .

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So by anyone’s standards I’m a pretty busy lady, a full time working mum of two young girls who in her spare time likes to organise the occasional fund raiser to help those in need. It was like an epiphany when I decided to embark on my first event. After following the tragic story of murdered MP Jo Cox, a mum who went to work one day and didn’t come home to her young children, it broke my heart. I saw her very brave widow Brendan Cox asking everyone to ‘Get Together’ in memory of his wife, I turned to my husband and declared ‘I love a party let’s do a Get Together!’ He rolled his eyes in a gesture of here she goes again but replied with ‘Go On Then’. The idea was born. I wanted to create a day to remember a special woman, bring the community together and make it accessible to all – so it had to be free too. Having always been the one who liked to keep my head well below the parapet I raised my head high above it and got cheeky and within just a few days I had a line-up of local artists, lovely raffle prizes a volunteer face painter and a way to raise money for a bouncy castle with the help of local We Shall Overcome founder Ste Goodall. I then put it out there on social media and asked if those attending could bring a donation however small on the day for the local Food Bank (a cause championed by Jo Cox). The response was amazing, and the day went far beyond what I had imagined it would for a day of music, games and togetherness. Afterwards people praised me on what had been a wonderful day and asked what I’d be doing next! At that point I hadn’t thought about it but a few days later it hit me . . . An alternative ladies’ night! Music, Boozy teapots, a fashion show (That story is a blog all of its own – what was I thinking ha!) and a chance for local female run businesses to showcase what they do: Women Shall Overcome was a reality (under the umbrella of anti austerity movement We Shall Over Come) another free event but this time raising donations of toiletry and hygiene products for homeless women –  By far my most ambitious party idea to date!! With the help of the lovely Louise Nulty at the studio we pulled off one of the most fun, heart-warming, informative and supportive female lead celebration of Female Empowerment the town had seen and raised tonnes of sanitary, toiletry and practical donations to be distributed to 3 homeless charities in the area. Again it was really hard work and a little bit stress full but I loved every minute!!!! So I get asked time and time again, why do I do it and the reasons are really simple:

  •    The sense of achievement is out of this world and will Hopefully leave my girls a legacy that they too can have a go and do anything they want:  Leading up to both events I have been involved in up to now there has been a bizarre chain of emotions from ‘I’ve got such and exciting idea’ to ‘Oh my word what have I done, I will never pull this off!’. When the sleepless nights kick in and no matter how many things are ticked off the to do list it keeps growing and to top it off you’re not even getting paid for it, your family and friends will quite rightly question your sanity, but once you pull it off and get the pats on the back, and a well done it feels good and what feels even better is the two pairs of little eyes looking up saying ‘ that’s my Mum’. I have included my daughters in my charity events and explained to them the reasons why we look to help those in need and if I’m the littlest bit lucky this will be a mindset they can take into adulthood and make the world a little bit better.

 

  • The warm feeling in your tummy when you see all the amazing things people donate and do for a good cause:   Somedays you can send yourself around the proverbial bend thinking of all the things that need changing in this world to the point the logical solution is .. . . there is so much to do and just a little old me what can I do I’ll leave it to someone else! But the truth is if we all just did a tiny little bit and come together that is when we really make a difference, really make a change and finally get our voices heard together – when you do just a little something and see how people get on board and want to do good too it really does leave you feeling a little bit fuzzy inside.

 

 

  • The People you meet:   Everyday we are out there meeting and mixing with new people . . .and I’ll let you in to a secret . . I love it.  Meeting new people, finding out what makes them tick and just how different, and just how the same we all really are! Sometimes though we come across a person or people who make us momentarily stop in our tracks and have a little re think about just how we are living our lives. They make us stand up a bit straighter, listen a little more carefully and live our lives just a little bit better. Then on some even rarer occasions someone comes along who makes you think ‘Wow I wish I could be like that’ people who are consistent in their selflessness and seem to touch the hearts and minds of those around them  . . .I came across this such a person and her two daughters recently. When  putting together my most recent event,  Hearts4homeless were brought to my attention through the power of Facebook, a mother and daughter team who spend their spare time going out meeting with the homeless of Liverpool providing food, toiletries, blankets and most importantly a listening ear. They tirelessly spread the word of those in need, referring to every single person they meet as their friend and looking for new ways to  get people involved and raise the much needed donations of food, toiletries and dog food that are not accessible to those in need on our streets.

 

 

So now I’m am thinking about what to do for my next project to help those most in need so WATCH THIS SPACE!!

External links for more information:

https://www.facebook.com/Hearts4homeless.16/

https://www.facebook.com/weshallovercomeweekend/

https://www.facebook.com/jocoxmoreincommon/

The Working Mama’s week in lockdown pt 1

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Week one in lockdown.

So a week last Friday in an unprecendented move never before seen in peace time schools were asked to close their doors, shortly followed by an announcement that the country were on a partial lockdown restricting people’s movements and social activity beyond four permissable actions.

Ive cried a lot of tears today, I mean ALOT. I don’t know if its exhaustion, overwhelm, fear or just the fact that we have no idea how long this is going to last.

The week has seen an array of emotions from despair and disbelief to acceptance and gratitude for all the simpler blessings. Ive questioned my sanity, my ability, my relevance and how I am at ‘mumming’ during these very strange times.

Its such a weird feeling to spend all your time rushing about, from meeting to meeting, activity to activity, work, family, school, clubs constantly in the hustle and bustle wishing for the day you can just be and have time to think but when it is handed to you on a Corona Guilded plate . . . . . thinking is that last thing you want to be doing.

When the schools first announced they were closing I personally felt a wave of releif as we all sensed it coming but also trepidation as to what this would look like going forward and what measures would be coming next. Over the first weekend the hardest part was trying to explain to the kids why, now they were home for the duration, they couldn’t just play out with their friends as they normlly do at wekends and holidays. As they saw groups of children still allowed to play, as others took time to come to their own realisation of how serious this situation was, we had to have amny converstaions about why they hadn’t done anything wrong, their friends hadn’t done anthing wrong but that this was out of all our control right now.

As the days went on we started to embark on a funny routine of a walk some crafts/school work, lots and lots of eating and me trying to fit in some work whilst crippled with anxiety waving my husband off to work each day. As I look back it feels as though this first week in lockdown has gone pretty quick, surprisingly so.

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There have been a few things I’ve learned on lock down though……

One strange thing I have found and it might just be my worry brain was the absolute overwhelm of online content that burst through, I clicked ‘Interested’ and ‘Going’ to so many online events thinking – I must use this time as an opportunity to better myself in some way – wrong!!! I realise now I must use this time to adjust maintain stable mental health and look after my family. I think the online content is great and i’m sure as time goes on I will find ways to dip in and take advantage but for now I have decided not to berate myself for not diving head first into everything or in deed find my own way of Corona Branding online just yet!

No one’s circumstance is better or worse. No matter what your situation is you will always find empathy/symapthy for every one – regardless of their circumstances. Although I may be finding it hard balancing work, home school/enetertaining two kids and have the anxiety of my husband still going to work. The positives are, I’m able to home work, I’m with my kids for homeschooling and entertaining and my husband still has his job. There are people who dont know how thEy will meet next weeks bills, people isolated all alone, families with two parents going out to work each day – this crisis is indiscriminate and is effecting EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING in some way.

Our NHS staff deserve our applause all of the time. Although its true they are our frontline defence and soldiers during this time please lets not forget that our NHS staff are on the frontline saving lives and protecting people all of the time. When we come out of the other side of this try to remember your admiration during this time when your tempted to gte short tempered because you have had to wait a bit longer than you had hoped for your medication/appointment. I’ve always had upmost respect for those in frontline public services but after this I will try even harder not to let my personal irritations get in the way of these people doing their jobs.

Just how much Community is alive and well. It has been heartwarming seeing how people have come together. Just yesterday on my daily walk I saw a neighbour leaving a Sunday Roast on their neighbours step before knocking and running off. At the end of this once we no longer have socially distance I hope we remember how we cared and looked out for each other and continue doing so. We have been recipients of compost, seeds and computer games from friends and neighbours, when out on our daily walk there is a definite increase in people smiling, nodding and saying hello as we all navigate through this shared experience.

So over all the first week has been one of ups and downs but we have survived, we are healthy and there have even been a few laughs. I hope you have managed to get through the first week in lockdown as happily and healthily as you can too and if all you have managed is to get up keep everyone fed and survive the week you have done an amazing job….. its a bloody global pandemic its totally allowed!!!!

 

 

 

 

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Its a funny thing ……

I’ve been stuck in a crisis of confidence lately. It may be the imposter syndrome, it may be something in the air but what ever it is has made me do a bit of soul searching and question ‘am I as nice a person as I think or hope I am?’

I was involved in a group conversation recently in which someone seemingly felt put out by some of the comments that were made. It played  on my mind a little at the time as what seemed to be a bit of fun appeared to have crossed the line and make them feel uncomfortable. My initial reaction was that there was no malice meant and this person should learn to laugh at themselves a little. But then I mulled it over and wondered, is asking people to laugh at themselves or stating ‘its just a joke’ just a way to justify being a bit mean. As I’d worked so hard at learning to laugh at myself why couldn’t they! But in true pondering style It raised a number of questions in my good old brain chatter so I again took to the trusty t’interweb and came across the following:

“Far too often we laugh at ourselves on the outside and feel dreadful on the inside but we are going along with a group behaviour that we cling to instead of valuing yourself enough. Be able to laugh at yourself must not be at the expense of your own well-being and having healthy boundaries is critical to that. Some people are not laughing with you they really are laughing at you. Know they are not people worth laughing with at all and allow yourself to quietly detach.” 

 

I’m very open about the fact I consider myself a work in progress and that I am continually striving for self improvement. I’m also at a point in my life that I have journeyed many a spiritual path dietary trend, exercise fad and lots of other things that people have felt able to poke fun at me for (among many other things). Generally i’ve been able to laugh this off but it does make me wonder if I should have called this out as a form of bullying or if I was right to laugh along while being the butt of the joke.

As a youngster I was uber sensitive, and took any negative comment or suggestion as an outright insult, but as I got older and would see people and interactions around me, the people who could take a joke about themselves and not feel the need to get in a lengthy and serious discussion to counteract every not so nice word, were always the ones who seemed happier, in the middle of all the fun and the most popular. So what could I do to learn to laugh at myself too. There are lots of articles and writings about the art of learning to laugh at yourself but, part of it I have found to be as simple as this  –

1 – letting go of the need to be right

and

2 – that what other people think of you is really none of your business.

 

I look back and realise it was an innate need to always be right which started me out on the tedious journey of needing to call out everyone on their jibes which were often dished out in the name of good fun but my sensitive soul took them to heart.

It has been a long and sometimes difficult journey that has brought me to the point of not giving in to others opinions and not a complete one, as there is still a way to go but almost as a combination of the two points I started to ask myself what is the worst thing that will happen to me today if I Iet this person leave my orbit not agreeing with me? What actual impact is it going to have on my day? Lets face it once we have parted ways as long as we haven’t fell out or anything I’m much more likely to be bothered by a soggy sandwich for lunch or finding I’ve got a flat tyre or similar – in other words I told myself to Let It Go.  

But can it be as simple as that?

I couldn’t find anything that didn’t encourage us not to laugh at ourselves, there were articles and pointers on how to learn to laugh at ourselves including ‘learn to be your own partner in crime’ and ‘exercise your laughter’ , and I wholeheartedly believe there is something to be said for learning not to take ourselves too seriously. To be able to separate the ‘it’ll be ok whatever happens’ from the ‘Life and death’ choices but I think there is a danger that by encouraging more ability to laugh at ourselves we are not tackling the true issue of why people can’t just be a little more  kind sometimes, and actually when we do cross the line a little bit, which we so often do without even meaning to, why not just say ‘ I’m sorry’ instead of justifying it as a bit of fun.

Also we should consider  the ability to laugh at ourselves may often be affected by the head space we are in on any particular day, sometimes when the anxiety levels are up my reaction to having people poke fun might be completely different. Something that I had laughed off or not really thought much about one day might play on my mind if I’m feeling a bit differently, that off the cuff comment someone made about my wrinkles, or word I used or lunch I ate, can send me right into orbit on a rant of How Very Dare Yous if that’s where my mood is at that day.

Despite the Pros and Cons of learning to laugh at ones self I’m still determined that by being kind we can still find the funny – after all in the words of Charlie Chaplin “a day without laughter is a day wasted” but I would say this, in learning to laugh at ourselves lets make sure its in the name of making ourselves feel better and not to suite someone who should know better.

 

So back to my original ponder – am as nice as I think I am, well I don’t think I’m too bad but I also know I don’t always get it right. And although am I able to laugh at myself most of the time in memory of my super sensitive soul of days gone by I will be trying my best to ensure I consider that not everyone finds the funny in themselves everyday and try and bring some kindness into the funny too.

Is laughter the best medicine?

Tired of thinking about thinking….turning off the brain chatter

According to the Urban Dictionary, brain chatter is the high intensity inner monologue (in some cases dialogue) that distracts or interrupts activities in the external world.

Do you ever get those days when you cant close off the chatter in your brain. Everything feels a bit tense and uncertain and you realise there’s a train of thought running through your mind in circles that you just cant seem to shut off!

All sorts of things can trigger the brain chatter,you start replaying conversations, something brings up old memories, anxiety or worrying about upcoming events or projects. Although we always have a running dialogue somedays the chatter feels louder than usual and stops you from concentrating on anything else. You start generally questioning your ability to make sense, of well, anything.

I often wonder if this is how its always been,or is it worse these days due to constant media and social media stimulation meaning we are being bombarded by triggers almost 24/7.Is it also an increase in brain chatter that is a driving factor in todays ‘busy’ society. I certainly feel as though part of me needing to keep busy, busy, busy, is to try and keep the inside chatter at an inaudible level – almost like putting the lid on a pressure cooker waiting to pop which then creates its own mental and physical issues. So what is the answer for keeping the chatty cathy in your brain at bay?

‘The devil makes work for idle hands – and minds’ ….. one of the main suggestions I have come across for this is journaling. The process of emptying your mind through the process of writing can help focus thoughts and give an opportunity to commit in writing any issues that may benefit from some head on action.

‘Switch it off – switch it off ‘. ….. easier said than done I hear you say but seriously try and physically switch off. Turn off the TV put away the phones and devices and have a break from social media.take a rest from the triggers and the guilt making. Especially before bed – we are plugged in to the outside world from the moment we wake till we fall asleep, is it any wonder we’ve got so much chatter going on.

Meditation – This doesn’t need to be in a special building, wearing special clothes or whilst being able to be at one with nature sitting still for hours on end ( although thats all good too), there are plenty of apps, CDs and videos that can guide you through a short meditation to slow down and pause for a moment.

Plus anything else that gives you a moment of  still and self care, a bath by candle light, a walk in nature, singing along to your favourite song, in short a little something for you.

So is it important to quiet the chatter? Well simply put yes, chemically you can tire out by thinking too much. … When your brain is dealing with an ongoing supply of new information, it must put energy into every decision, which overuses that executive function and can cause mental fatigue. Don’t get me wrong I know, we all know what we need to do to try and quieten the chatter, but if like me your in need of a little reminder now again – take this as your chatty cathy reminder alert for today 🙂

The Busy Mum’s fear factor

Things that frightened me as a child:

Ghosts

Getting in trouble

Being laughed at

The Dark

Aliens

spiders

Things that frighten me as a grown up:

Losing my family

Becoming seriously ill

Dying

Terrorist attacks

Losing my job

Being a rubbish Mum

House fires

Brexit

Driving on motorways

Getting it wrong

Losing hope

Putting myself out there

Not being liked

Being laughed at

Flying

Roller Coasters

Aliens

Spiders

I touched recently in a blog post about some of my fears and how they can help to drive me out of my comfort zone. I don’t remember having much in the way of fear when I was younger ……… It’s a funny thing, described as “a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms”.

We are all taught about fight or flight from a young age and told that some fear is quite normal and in fact something to be embraced to help with certain situations.

But when and why do our fears turn into anxieties that permeate our thoughts throughout the waking day as we get older. Is it the enormity of becoming a parent? The realisation of mortality as we get older? Or in these modern times are external factors like social media, increased pressures and 24/7 news partly or mostly to blame?

Fear and anxiety often occur together but Fear relates to a known or understood threat, whereas anxiety follows from an unknown, expected or poorly defined threat. So when we want to keep our children safe from danger and fear what we know could happen surely that’s normal but the nights we keep ourselves awake thinking of all the unimaginable things that could happen is this pushing more into a anxious response? These perceived dangers seem so real and almost feel so real, but could this be because of the millions of stimuli rushing through our brains throughout the day rather than actual perceived dangers?

Ok but how does this help me overcome fears and do the things I want to do I hear you shout ( or maybe that’s just the anxiety in my brain again).

I don’t have a magic answer and don’t profess to be an expert but I know what has helped me.

Talking – it may seem obvious but sometimes externalising fears can help

Put them into perspective. I found that when I started to talk to others about anxieties and thoughts that would

Keep me awake at night I really wasn’t alone and that helped me to put them into perspective a little bit. I can’t switch of my worry button completely but it certainly helped when I realised I wasn’t alone!

Putting fears and vulnerability on the table – I picked this phrase up listening to Brene Brown. Acknowledging fears and being vulnerable about them through talking honestly to explain why you might feel limited.

One practical example of this is despite my fear of speaking in front of others I continue to put myself up for doing it. But I acknowledge the fear, admit that it’s not my most comfortable place to be and speak from the heart and so far the response I have received has been amazing. I don’t always hit what I want to say or how I want to come across but each time I face my fear I feel as though I’ve taken another step in overcoming it.

Inspire and be inspired – one way to help you face your fears might be to look for inspiration from others. Not to compare (“comparison is the thief of Joy” after all!!) but sometimes when we see others step out and face their fears and come out the other side not only still alive and kicking but often elated and proud of themselves for taking the step, it can help in rationalising our fear a little and help us to also take the first step. Flipping this over sometimes when we need a little motivation to face our fears and take a brave step it can help to remember that you might help to inspire someone else through stepping out.

I asked some people what they were frightened of and if they thought we have more fear now than before.

From the responses there does seem to be a consensus that there is more pressure with one believing modern society “thrives on fear” to control and another feeling increased pressure creates “fear of failure and losing control” but as one person stated.

“One can only do their best, with what they have in the ‘now’ tomorrow has not arrived yet and yesterday is done and dusted with 🤗 and smiles help too”

So with that in mind and a smiling face I’ll dig out the old spider catcher again and see if I can take the first step in overcoming that fear a little bit too 😱😱😱

The Busy Mum and Imposter Syndrome

Having just embarked on the biggest, boldest and most uplifting Women Shall Overcome yet this is a subject that has been a topic of conversation and consideration quite a lot lately. So what is Imposter Syndrome? Why do we get it?And how can we get away from it?

So what is it?

noun: imposter syndrome

1. the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”people suffering from impostor syndrome may be at increased risk of anxiety”

It’s certainly not something that is exclusive to Women as it can effect anyone at anytime but there has been much discussion and research recently around why and if it may hit women more proportionately than men.

Commonly described as an individual who doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Some people believe that women who suffer from imposter syndrome do so because of internalised sexism from perceptions and ideals they have been subjected to. I can relate to this. From personal experience I have been in conversations were men have been congratulated for achievements that women have been called out for being boastful about. Plus a phenomena that seems to sometimes go along side is a sort of martyrdom that while men embellish and tell tall tales of success I have often encountered groups of women who’s sole purpose is to outdo each other in the who’s the hardest done by stakes.

And I’m certainly not calling these women but I think it goes some way to illustrate the subconscious bias we’ve been exposed to meaning we often feel guilty in celebrating ourselves. Think about it, how many times have you been paid a compliment but feeling so uncomfortable straight away you tear it down with ‘oh this old thing’ or ‘I got this so cheap in the sale’ or similar self put downs. What is it in Society that tells us we can’t enjoy being told something nice?

So why?

In one study it was reported the cause seems to be setting expectations that are “exceedingly high” and “unrealistic notions of what it means to be competent.”

There is nothing that says imposter syndrome can’t effect men too and often in those in successful professional roles men and women will equally be effected. But In more recent years for women the narrative that they should be tying to ‘have it all’ with careers and families and being social butterflies and all of this being played out on a show reel of picture perfect social media highlights it’s no wonder women are feeling a particular pressure.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

I first heard this quoted when filming local women for a project looking at issues effecting women today. Local PT and life coach Sue who spends her time encouraging and helping other women after facing her own struggles spoke about why comparisons with others fuel the narrative of not being good enough And it really resonated with me.

Every time I get up in front of a group of women, get involved in another event, post about something I want to champion on social media I feel the monster of imposter syndrome creep up and tap me on the shoulder. ‘ who do you think you are?’ ‘ all these people know your winging it’ and ‘if someone else was here doing this they’d be so much better at this than you?’

Every time I’m late to the school gates I imagine serene households all over the country while we get up and out like a tornado crashing through the house.

I am convinced most days that everyone else has got it together except me.

So could this the key to saying goodbye to imposter syndrome for good? If we stop comparing and learn to celebrate our own wins no matter how big or small.

Does it really matter if I’m winging it or if someone could do it better than me if I’m there in the right place and time to make a difference to just one person?

And does it really matter how we get to the school gate as long as we get there chaos and all?

Is it recognising the impossibility of ‘having it all’ despite what we have been told and accepting that in todays busy society making it through the day is not just ‘good enough’ but actually worthy of a self pat on the back and a well done?

If we’ve managed to get through the day doing our job ok, keeping our family fed, healthy and happy enough and if we have done all this whilst still being a fairly decent human being to others maybe that’s ok in fact maybe that’s pretty amazing.

So my challenge to you….. when you feel the shadow of imposter syndrome looming. Take a minute to think of the wins you’ve had that day however big or small and remember your pretty amazing too and your not an imposter ….. your not doing things the same as everyone else because your not everyone else, your you and that’s your super power.

The busy Mum’s photo shoot- Why its so special when women gather

I saw an advert recently for a call to action for women to take part in a body diversity and positivity photo shoot.

I hate Having my picture took. My first thought is always I wish I was slimmer, prettier, had better hair and teeth or could be bothered to do my make up better but recently stronger than that thought, I have a fear. A fear That I won’t be here next week or next year, that some one is going to tell me that my time is up it was good while it lasted but hey ho! It’s a fear that sometimes keeps me up at night giving me anxiety palpitations so Afraid I am that the metaphorical rug is about to be pulled from under me. In those moments despite the anxious waves I’m so glad for all I have especially my family and I’m determined to create memories that my little girls can look back on. Quite sure in lucid moments that once I’m long gone they won’t be flicking through images thinking my belly was too big or that I should have touched up with concealer that day.

With instant media increasing and a growing photo ready culture We see a constant stream of cute and funny pictures of places, pets and kids but so many women are still too self conscious to get in front of the camera …… especially in a real way.

So I bit the bullet, I’m quick to loudly and proudly tell everyone else to ‘love the skin your in’, ‘be brave’ or ‘push yourself out that comfort zone’ yet in so many ways I still don’t take my own advice. Before I could think too much I responded putting myself forward as an overweight, about to turn 40 model for the day Mum Tum, wrinkles and all.

I didn’t know what to expect. We were told to wear black but no other instructions. I struggled a little keeping up with the WhatsApp group as usual spinning a number of commitment plates, the bits I did manage to drop in on the women all seemed confident, supportive and excited but as their excitement grew so did my anxiety. Imposter syndrome kicked in with force. I’m not a serious blogger or an ‘insta’ expert like some of the others seemed was I out of my depth?

The night before the shoot arrived and having done no preparation me and my young daughters dug out the old foot spa and made a night of pampering to get mum ‘model’ ready. Even if I wasn’t that excited they certainly were.

Then the day itself arrived and I luckily knew one other lady who’d signed up so we along with a couple of others made our way in together. As we chatted about what to expect the anxiety tightened a little more ‘ what on earth had I signed up to?’

We got there and were immediately made to feel welcome. There was a group of over 20 women in various levels of dress, from full length black dresses to lingerie and lots of variations in between and what struck me more than anything was that every single one looked beautiful and were so lovely, supportive and complimentary of each other wether fully dressed, half naked and completely regardless of shape, size, colour or age.

All the women there had a common purpose including the amazing voluntary make up artists, they wanted to spread a positive message that we should all take joy in the skin we are in! We are too busy focusing on the bits we don’t like to appreciate the bits that we might not think are so bad.

Despite feeling a little uncomfortable in front of the camera I came away feeling like I’d been part of something really special, we decided to keep the group going continuing to support and lift each other through this shared experience. I still hear people calling women out for certain behaviours and victim shaming which is why projects such as We Are Women is so important it’s a reminder that there is much more love and support out there than negative attitudes.

Women want to lift, inspire and nurture other women. Helping them realise the good they find so difficult to recognise in themselves. We are ready to show the world that you don’t have to comply with the media’s skewed view of perfection to be strong, confident, beautiful and to make a change for good.

So thank you to Emilie Shoots, the make up girls and every single other woman who was part of that day, each and every one made me glad to take such a giant step out of my comfort zone and be part of a wonderful day and also have some rather wonderful pictures for my girls to be reminded of the time their Mum said she would …… and she did!

🙌🙌🙌

#wearewomen

@wearewomen

@emilieshoots

The Kindness Shift

The Kindness Shift

I’m often asked where I get my energy from # fuelled By caffeine and chocolate is my usual flippant reply! ‘Ah I should try’ it is the laughing response I get! The truth is there’s no secret to where the energy comes from. Some mornings I wake up needing another nights sleep there and then. I ache and I groan and sometimes it’s such a struggle ( I’m pretty sure the joints aren’t supposed to be feeling quite so seized up yet?!) but as the old adage says I get up, dress up and show up. I say this not because I deserve a medal or anything but because I’m going to let you into a little secret…….. it’s not caffeine and chocolate that I’m addicted to , although I probably consume well more than my fair share, no my friends it’s Do Gooding and positivity that are my drugs of choice. And not because I’m some saintly figure oh no, I have my off days, the days I feel like bitching and moaning and like the worlds out to get me. But most days I try to dust myself off look for the good and move forward. And why do I do this you might ask….. go on you can ask! Because like any drug I’m chasing the high baby. Since becoming a bit of a do gooder amazing things have happened. And I don’t just mean in material ways or being bestowed with particular gifts but just generally my life has become richer in the people I meet, the way I spend my time and the things I’ve learned. Some sceptics may put it down to algorithms or fate or perhaps think I’m just being blinkered but since I’ve been more aware of the good that needs doing I’ve also become acutely aware of the good that’s already being done. I feel blessed everyday for people in my orbit who want to make things better through their positivity and good deeds. People who often don’t realise their own worth and importance in keeping me and others on a quest for good!

I think we can all agree that there is so much in this world that is wrong and terrible and my heart breaks everyday at another harrowing story in the news but I’m determined that the next generation will not become so desensitised by these actions and events that kindness and love is allowed to completely fade away. I’m convinced that by giving out love and kindness and championing the message we are better together we will see a shift that people will no longer accept injustice and poor treatment of others as they won’t tolerate it as being the only way.

I saw a GIF once with Care Bears all shooting beams of positivity out of their brightly coloured tummies and it stuck with me. That’s how I visualise this little movement of kindness and just like the ghost busters the more beams we add the stronger the good vibes will be and although we might not be able to eradicate all the bad stuff overnight every time we set those beams off together we might be able to connect and bring along another person who felt alone or were struggling before, then next time another and another and who knows if we really concentrate ( and never cross the beams obvs) it might just be that one day the good vibes, the kindness and the love for one another will overcome and it won’t just be me who can see all the wonderful people and things being done in this difficult world 🌍❤️

Below is a list of a few of the wonderful ways we can start to fire our beams :

Talk to a stranger! There’s so much loneliness, people are so busy it’s easy to not notice the neighbour who comes and goes, never getting a visitor and not interacting. Say hi, ask how they are….. it’s scary I know but it might be the moment that totally changes their whole day and yours!

Carry out a random act of kindness. I did this with my kids recently, we gave out little gifts in the local park and it was such a buzz seeing how happy it made the recipients but also the joy my kids found in giving rather than receiving

Join a group or club this is less about being altruistic and more about lifting yourself so you can lift others. As I said our good vibe beams work better together so joining a group or taking part in an activity you enjoy can often be more about the interaction rather than the activity you do. On days you feel more affected by the bad and the sad a warm smile and positive interaction might be all you need to make the shift and on another day you might provide that shift for someone else.

Wether you try one or all of the above I wish you a happy kind filled day let’s get firing those beams ✌️✌️

Getting down with the F word

Getting down with the ‘F’ word and 4 good reasons why you should too!

 

Yeah, yeahok. So the title might be a bit of click bait but as we look to celebrate International Women’s Day I feel it only right we have a look at the ‘F’ word ( yep thats the one FEM-IN-ISM) and celebrate it too!

 

My journey to calling myself a feminist has been a bumpy one. Brought up by a single Mum who came out of a relationship marred by domestic abuse, I always felt an affinity to strong women…. I learned from an early age that we didnt need men and quite frankly, from my experience and from listening to the tales of my Mum and her friends,they caused little more than down right misery! So as a teen I spouted about how we didnt need men one bit and girls were far better than boys so ner ner ner! Voila! I was a feminist, surely?? Fast forward to the age of the laddette and I realised that actually boys weren’t always that bad. Actually, now that we were laddettes and could drink with the boys and sleep around like the boys, I thought (in a haze of nineties Britpop) that finally we were real feminists…werent we? I know, I know! I can hear Emeline Pankhurst turning in her grave too!! 

 

After this I never had much reason to consider whether I was a feminist or not until I committed the upmost cardinal sin a woman can ……. I decided to HAVE A BABY! And then another! Then, just like that, I was pushed out of my job of over 7 years. After giving years of pre baby over time (unpaid) and picking up tasks that weren’t mine to get the job done for the team, I was out – and my maternity cover, who didn’t have the limitations of 2 tots, was in!!

I re-evaluated everything – things like this didnt happen these days. Surely there were laws against this sort of treatment. However, low and behold, as I began to trawl the internet I found that this sort ofthing was happening in alarmingnumbers, and in a lot of cases the discrimination and poor treatment that a lot of these women suffered was much worse than what I’d been through! I started to post about the injustices women were facing and found I was being tagged on social media and presented with cases of inequality and the poor treatment of women in lots of different ways. I thought the suffragettes had won the war, but it would seem that they had won the battle but the war was a long, long way from being done. The more I talked about the issues women faced, the F word started to be banded about, usually about me. Id never much considered myself a feminist. Whenever people said the word, it was usually followed withjeers about burning bras. So I did the logical thing and looked it up:

 

A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women. (www.vocabulary.com)

 

Definition of feminist – a person who supports feminism.(en.oxforddictionaries.com)

 

Feminism – The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. (en.oxforddictionaries.com)

 

Ah ha! I was a feminist after all and I have very much embraced the term ever since. However, there are still very negative connotations around the word. So below I have listed some out and out feminists who I personally have found to be amazingly inspiring women:

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Maya Angelou

Angelou was awarded a presidential Medal of Freedom for her works that spanned over 50 years including: 36 books, 7 autobiographies and over 50 honorary degrees. An advocate for equal rights for all, her poems are hailed as radically feminist because of the particular struggles for black women that she portrays, especially in ‘Phenomenal Woman’ and ‘Caged Bird’. Her words are still as relevant today and inspire feelings of courage and rebellion in women who seek change and equality.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently” – Maya Angelou

 

 

 

2.  Malala Yousafzai

Malala is a young Pakistani activist for female education. Her notoriety became known to the world, as someone willing to fight for Women’s rights in the face of adversity, after being shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up to them by defending her right to an education. Malala became the youngest ever Nobel Laureate after sharing her story, following her miraculous recovery from the incident, and writing the international best seller ‘I Am Malala’

 

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” – Malala Yousafzai

 

 

 

3.  Joelie Brearley

Joelie Brearley is the founder of pregnant then screwed, in support of women facing pregnancy discrimination. This was a particular inspiration to me for finding advice and support following my own issues of discrimination on returning to work. Joelie was sacked from her job when she was four months pregnant with her first child and has since made it her mission to raise awareness of discrimination and help other women. Joelie recently got the chance to sit in parliament and put forward her case against the use of NDAs as gagging orders that silence women ultimately being forced out of their jobs for having children.

 

“ Pregnant Then Screwed has become my life’s work. I will never stop campaigning for the rights of working Mums” – Joelie Brearley.

 

 

 

4.  Jo Cox

The senseless murder of Jo Cox in 2016 shook the UK. A newly elected MP for Batley and Spen, Jo had spent years campaigning for equal rights and in particular disadvantaged women, spending much of her time working within the charity sector across the world. Jo was also a keen advocate for helping other women in politics. Naomi McCaulliffe, who collaborated with Jo on women’s rights campaigns,was quoted as saying, “Jo was one of those women who helped up other women in the sector”. She was also well known for her inspirational maiden speech which talked about bringing people together and tackling loneliness. Jo’s legacy still lives on through her family’s passionate work with ‘More in Common’ and the ‘Great Get Together’ which looks at how loneliness can be conquered across the UK.

 

“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us” – Jo Cox

 So in conclusion don’t be afraid of the ‘F’ word and if you believe in equal rights for all or you too have found inspiration from some or all of the women above! Then my Friend its about time you embraced it in all its glory and meaning just the same as me. 

Lets face it,  it is high time we educated young girls and boys for that matter  that its is not scary to be a feminist and start to eliminate the casual sexism still faced in society everyday. 

So in celebration of International Women’s Day this year I challenge you to be bold state your claim on the ‘F’ word and give a nod and wink to those who have trailed the blaze before us magnificently leading the way.

A weekend in politics for a rebel without a clue 🤗🤗

 

I attended the Labour Women’s conference over the weekend. This will be surprising to many people I know and yet seemingly unsurprising to many others. It was a great weekend for lots of many different reasons. I found the weekend to be empowering, uplifting and very informative.

I haven’t come from a political background, and up until recent years did not have much opinion or thoughts on political matters. I voted the party my Mum did who voted the party her Dad did. I remembered there being much excitement in our area when Tony Blair was voted in and the cries of Woe when the Tories gained control once more in 2010 but besides this I didn’t know much more. It was never discussed in school, even less in the workplace as a young woman starting out- unless it was with guffaws and jokes from the men and I suppose I allowed myself to get in the mindset that it was nothing really to do with me!

My interest began to be piqued around the time of the campaigning for the Brexit referendum. People who before had never really seemed to take an interest were animated and forthright in their opinions. Daily headlines and news reports rolled out cheap laughs at politicians and sensationalised points from every side. No one seemed to know what Brexit would bring but everyone had an opinion, then on the 16th of June the unthinkable happened. A bright lovely Mum of two, recently appointed MP for Batley and Spen was murdered. This stopped me in my tracks. A woman, similar age to me with 2 young children, the same as me had her life snubbed out so senselessly. It affected me profoundly in many ways. What legacy was I leaving for my children? How could I try and make things better the same as this woman had done and how could I find out more about what makes our country tick?

A lot to wade through by anyone’s standards. I started to look locally what really mattered to me that I wanted to try to do to make things a little better for my girls. Inspired by the Jo Cox legacy I thought about ways to bring the community together and looked at issues causing isolation and feelings of despondency.

I began to think about my passions, and what I thought I could do. I loved bringing people together and I wondered if there was a way I could use this to help in particular for those using food banks and those facing period poverty. I decided to run events to raise donations for these causes and this led me on an extraordinary journey.

I began to reach out to the community and met wonderful people. Those involved in the setting up and running of the food banks. Those with their own tales of suffering and difficulty. Those dedicated to volunteering and giving. I was both heart warmed and and saddened in equal measures …… surely something had to be done but who would do it? Was politics the answer to make change? Hearing from others we had to ‘get the tories out’ and ‘end austerity!’ To make the changes so desperately needed.

When I signed up to go to the Women’s annual labour conference I’m not too sure what I was expecting but I knew I wanted to find out more. It’s fair to say I did. Firstly what an amazing mix. The

Youngest attending delegate at just 15 and the eldest 84. Just looking around I

Loved the mix of young and old, funky and more traditional looking. And as I sat over a brew I really loved that serious debate and conversation was taking place in every corner.

A highlight was Dawn Butler’s speech, it was funny, inspiring and rousing giving a glimpse to a future with real practical change to benefit everyday families. Plus a nod to Dolly Parton using the lyrics of 9 to 5 to highlighting our outdated work methods – what’s not to like?

Who knows how much change we will see and how soon but my dalliance with the world of politics has definitely taught me the following things:

1. Start em young! It took me to become a Mum and get to the wrong side of my 30’s before I took a real interest in how changes can be made even in my local area. I know there is a lot to be said for gaining life experience but the younger we get the next generation to take accountability and want to make a positive contribution the better in my mind. I think more education in schools and more readily information for how young people can get involved in their local community is needed more than ever. Along with a culture shift around the Idea that you have to fit a certain mold to get involved.

2. Everyday is a school day. You are never to old to learn. At nearly 40 years of age I thought my brain sponging days were done! Oh no my friends the event taught me things at every turn and made me question even more. Even though I do believe there is a place for better education about the our political system and ways to inspire people from a younger age to make a change never be put off starting out if your older …….. we all have our dishes to bring to the table and life experience is a wonderful thing!

3. The power of women. I know this is something I bang on about a lot but the overall feel for the entire weekend was of support and compassion. No opinion or idea poo pooed even when met with opposition. I have long since said the old stereo type of women catfighting and insulting is well and truly dead and this weekend once again proved this to be absolutely true!

So all in all I think it’s fair to say I enjoyed my toe dip into the world of politics. Who knows if it will lead to anything else but it has certainly given me much food for thought and some very interesting ideas. If your a woman and you’ve been thinking of finding out more here’s some links to a couple of great non party affiliated sites you can check out 😊✌️

https://5050parliament.co.uk/about/

http://www.parliamentproject.co.uk/

Inspired to inspire ….

Shout it out ……

This time last year I posted my very first blog post about my foray into organising fundraisers and community events as a hobby and the reasons why. This year having embarked on the same crazy journey again for the second time I feel the need to comment once more on the absolute amazingness of the women of my town and shout about their awesomeness !

First of all Louise nulty the absolute backbone of widnes’ creative hub and probably the calm to my storm! Sometimes in life you meet people who get what your trying to achieve even when you don’t quite know how to articulate it yourself! Louise is definitely one of those people. When I first went to her with the idea for women shall over come (probably a little bit drunkenly after the regular Stand up at the Studio night) I had a list of things I wanted to achieve, a fashion show, live acts, a chance for women’s voices to be heard, helping local charities and cocktails …….. it did not sound like a well thought out plan! But rather than run me to the hills the idea was embraced and nurtured and between us we pulled off an amazing night for which I can’t thank her enough! Louise has been actively involved in community projects for many years encouraging everyone from all walks to explore creative ideas and express themselves.

Number 2 on my list is the too talented Kirstie Atherton of Frank and Biscuit. Someone I have known for many many years as a childhood friend of her sister. Her creativity knows no bounds having shown total genius in other creative aspects before embarking on her journey as a bone fide real life designer and dress maker under the guise of Frank and Biscuit. Kirstie truly has an eye for the unique and beautiful whilst maintaining a passion for empowering her customers by making them feel good about themselves. Again I quite out of blue got in touch with Kirstie with the idea of the fashion show …. talk about biting off more than you can chew!! But between us we pulled it off – a beautiful moment, primarily down to Kirstie’s designs it has to be said, but also filled with music, madness and making some wonderful women (who were all volunteers) feel amazing getting to strut their stuff on the catwalk!!

One of the best parts of Women Shall Overcome is the people we meet who are involved in the local charities we give the donations raised to! This year it was an absolute pleasure to have 3 ladies representing and talking about their charities. We had Fran from Brennan Lodge who I have met several times and has such a genuine compassion for the service users she works with. Fran runs a temporary accommodation home in Widnes, where men and women often end up because they have absolutely no where to go other than the streets. Fran’s passion for helping her residents find a way to become and more importantly feel like a valued member of society really shines through! Then we had a lovely lady called Louise who has stated the Widnes Red Box Project. Louise runs her own business yet has made it her mission to put a Red Box in every business place in the town to be filled and placed in schools and places where young girls can then access the donated products for free in a bid to eliminate missed education days due to period poverty! Finally we had Terri the founder of Nightstop in Halton. A charity that has been going for many years now providing support and temporary accommodation for young adults between 16 and 25 as well as offering other support services for mental health and other issues faced by young people locally. Terri has been receiving well deserved recognition for all her hard work and dedication having been nominated for several awards this year. The purpose for this unabashed, unashamed shout out is not so people think oh isn’t that nice! ALL of these women have qualities I admire and there are a whole lot more women I could be shouting about too!!

In times previous we were made to feel ashamed of admitting what we admire in others, caught up in the myth that we are all only interested in gossip and criticising and dragging each other down! Well I know from experience this is not the case, I have found that women coming together are supportive and empowering, willing to point out each other’s strengths whilst offering support in areas some may have felt weakness. And I have also learned that when I see something in someone I admire rather than resent or feel bad in comparison I just make it my aim try and take on more of the characteristics I admire! I look at everyone around me as lessons to be learned and hope that someday, somewhere there will be a little bit of something some one sees in me maybe that makes them want to do something a little bit different too! In the meantime I will continue to champion and shout out for my sex thanking my lucky stars these strong empowering women are around to inspire me and others 😊 peace out ✌️

Ps: If you want to find out any more about the stuff these inspirational women are up to or involved in check out the links below!

http://www.frankandbiscuit.co.uk

http://www.nightstopcommunitiesnorthwestcic.co.uk/

Brennan Lodge – Home | Facebookhttps://m.facebook.com › Places › Widnes

The Red Box Projectredboxproject.org