fat shaming will not work

How To Get Over Fat Shaming Right Now

Fat Shaming will not help cure the Obesity Crisis.   We need to remove the social stigma associated with obesity.  We’ve proven that making it easier for people to talk about stigmatized health conditions is enormously beneficial.  But we still have the barrier to break down in terms of obesity.  This week is National Obesity Awareness Week in the UK.  Hence I’m debunking some of the myths associated with the attitude towards obesity.

Fat Shaming Won’t Help

fat shaming is not the answerI despise any kind of body shaming whether it’s fat shaming or skinny shaming.  It’s bullying and downright harmful.

Fat shaming someone who is obese is unlikely to encourage anyone to change their lifestyle.   People who respond positively to being shamed are relatively uncommon.  If you doubt this my recommended reading is Gretchen Rubin – The Four Tendencies.

Fat Shaming is more likely to reinforce their feelings of low self-esteem and may lead to more comfort eating.

I was overweight as a teenager and was bullied for it.  I’d been underweight until I was 6 years old and had a tonsillectomy.  My parents so overjoyed that I was at last enjoying food encouraged me to eat and eat.  While my own unhealthy relationship with food then later manifested itself as anorexia, this had nothing to do with being bullied for my weight.

 

It’s Just A Matter Of Calories In Versus Calories Outfat shaming not simply calories in and calories out

It’s easy you don’t need to be fat you just need to consume less calories than you burn (Calories In V Calories Out  – CICO)

This is a more insidious attempt at fat shaming.  Implying that people merely need to eat less and stop being lazy.

Dr Jason Fung states before 1980 we didn’t count calories.  He argues that we ate without knowing how many calories we consumed. We expended calories without knowing how many we burnt.  He argues that myths perpetuated about CICO benefited the US corporations who drove these messages for the purpose of their own bottom line.

Is this a cynical view or simply reality?  This week I read that McDonalds, Taco Bell and Wendy’s had spent $1Billion on advertising targeted at Black and Hispanic youth.  If this wasn’t bad enough  they’d all pledged to support healthier lifestyles to deprived groups.

 

Fat Shaming Is the Same As Skinny Shamingfat shaming not the same as skinny shaming

No it’s not!

As above I don’t condone any form of body shaming.    But skinny shaming is not the same as fat shaming.  I have friends who are naturally petite and get upset when they are told – you must have an eating disorder.  But this is not the same as the every day discrimination and humiliation levied at obese people in every aspect of life.

Michael Hobbes – Huffington Post Highline Article ‘Everything you know about obesity is wrong’ . He cited how one reader told me that unsolicited diet advice from strangers feels overtly worse than direct comments about weight.   Another said she leaves the room when her colleagues start talking about their new diets.  This is because it’s only a matter of time before a woman smaller than her describes herself as “huge.”

 

Let’s Get Children More Active And They’ll Lose Weight

Well I would never disagree with more activity.  There are incalculable benefits to more activity including:fat shaming we must educate children

  • More face to face social interaction;
  • Team sports and events improving their people skills as well as exercise benefits;
  • Improved sleep patterns with reduced screen time;
  • Emotional wellbeing of being outdoors particularly in nature.

Interestingly a number of international studies looked at healthy eating and more activity within children.  They found that while the combination didn’t have a massive impact on weight academic results improved.

But we do need to educate and help children from an early age without creating issues regarding food.  My own mother was a habitual dieter.  She had a relationship with food that consisted of deprivation followed by indulgence.  She loved food but was on a diet whenever her weight crept up again.  Of course her body suffered.  Her disordered eating had, at the very least, a sub-conscious impact on my own relationship with food.

 

Featuring Large Models Glamorises Obesity

No it doesn’t.diversity representing society on the catwalk

I’m a huge advocate for diversity on the catwalk and within the media to represent Society.  It’s vital that people don’t feel discriminated against. They should be able to relate to what is on the catwalk and in the media.

The outcry in October 2018 over Cosmopolitan’s Cover featuring Tess Halliday last year got the fat shaming brigade ranting and raving.    Led by Piers Morgan whose argument was that the cover made it acceptable to be obese.

Everyone deserves to feel positive about themselves.  Equally everyone should have access to education, information and support to lead a healthier lifestyle.

What we need to do is create a culture where fat discrimination is ostracized. People are encouraged to have a positive attitude towards their own bodies, which is fundamentally the aim of the body positivity movement.

Summary

We need to de-stigmatize obesity in the same way we’re creating a culture that allows us to talk about Mental Health.

Last summer an electrician visited my house and the conversation turned to photography. He shared with me his passion for photography and painting.  When I asked if he’d always enjoyed being creative he said he’d never tried it until he started to use it to help with his mental health.   How many complete strangers (particularly men) would have opened up like that even a year ago?

Obesity isn’t simply about physical health it’s equally about mental health and emotional wellbeing.   We have made fantastic progress with regard to mental health let’s replicate that with obesity.

 

Like to feel more confident about your body?  Why not take a look at my 3 top tips to be body positive by clicking on the link below.

 

 

 

getting dressed up

When Did You Last Get Really Dressed Up?

Do you remember the last time you really made an effort and got dressed up?make up feeling dressed up

I’ve got a confession to make – I’m not dressed up!  I feel a bit of a fraud sitting here in jogging bottoms and a t-shirt writing this!!  But my excuse is that I’ve just applied a liberal dose of fake tan!    I was feeling a bit pale and wintry but a slap of St Tropez has made me feel so much better!

However I’ve been carrying out a little experiment over the past few weeks and it’s proved my theory.  I have been applying make up even if I’ve got a day in the office.  I also add add jewellery and a nice pair of jeans/top.  Result I feel better and am attracting more clients.  Somehow I don’t think that the two are disconnected.

 

Most Of Us Feel More Confident When We Look Fabulous.

For many of us this means wearing an outfit that really makes us feel good.

business suit getting dressed upReading a  forum thread on this subject it was interesting that many of the guys commenting said how much more confident they felt when wearing a decent suit.   Many women feel empowered when they wear heels.  But so often we dress down and find ourselves relaxing into a casual/comfortable look.

Look back at photos from the 1950s/1960s and it seems like people made more effort and really dressed up when they went out.    I remember that even in 1960s my father never visited the pub without a cravat and shirt.

Now it seems a greater social faux pas to be over dressed rather than under dressed.   Is it because we have a real desire to fit in or we don’t really have dress codes any more – other than ‘smart casual’?  A term that strikes terror into many of my client’s hearts!  How do you define smart casual or is it just a cop out?? A subject for another blog, methinks.

So why don’t we get dressed up anymore?  I personally believe that there are a plethora of reasons as to why our approach to getting dressed up has changed.    I thought I’d explore a few here and then invite you to comment.

1. Price of Clothes And The Value We Place On Themfast fashion dressed up

Fast fashion has seen clothing getting ever cheaper and as a result I believe we don’t value it as much.  When we place less value on something we treat it with less respect.

Go back 50+ years and people would have only had a couple or handful of outfits to wear when they were going out. They took more care and pride in their clothes.

2. Cultural Changes

Undoubtedly the huge cultural shifts from the 1960s onwards had a massive impact on fashion.  At first this was a trend towards breaking cultural norms in fashion.

Fashion became more about standing out and making a statement.  Pop culture, to glam rock, power dressing from 1960s to 1980s.    All about making a statement and for most people unless they worked in fashion, PR or the creative arts, a distinction was needed between a work wardrobe and a dressed up look for going out.

The grunge and gothic look of the 1990s started to then set a more casual trend.

3. The World Got Smaller!laptop lifestyle dressed up

Well of course it didn’t physically but in terms of how we started to copy others’ dress cultures it certainly did.

This seems so relevant to the workplace.   A European influence of men not wearing ties, to the US ‘dress down Friday’  – that’s now become more Monday-Friday both having a huge impact.  This has come not simply from films and TV influences but also US and European companies coming over and setting up in the UK.

Also, as more people work from home whether for an employer or self-employed, the dress down culture goes hand in hand with the laptop lifestyle.

4. Activities Valued Differently

It used to be custom for people who traveled by air to get dressed up. Air travel was a privilege and was treated as such.  Cheap airlines and flights have put paid to that particular trend and now (quite rightly) comfort is key.

Although from experience I know that when I traveled for work and took a change of clothing with me on the flight. I felt better if I’d made the effort to put on make up and change my outfit before we landed.

Recently a keen theatre going friend and I were discussing why going to the theatre is no longer an occasion where you get dressed up.  I personally don’t believe that this is about theatre tickets being relatively cheaper.  But, especially in London, I believe that many of us combine a trip to the theatre with other activities.

5. Athleisure Trendsneakers dressed up

This sports style dress down look of trainers; jogging pants and gym wear doubling as Streetwear started a few years ago.  It started to really gain traction in 2014, and industry statistics show it started to take market share from the jeans market around this time.

The growth in health and fitness trends has undoubtedly also had an influence on this lifestyle trend as well.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we did make more effort to get dressed up occasionally?

getting dressed upClothes can be so powerful in terms of impacting the way we feel about ourselves.

In Brutally Honest by Melanie Brown, she describes how putting on sexy figure hugging dress transformed her.  She discharged herself from hospital against her doctor’s advice.  The dress and make up meant she was able to take up her role as a judge for the 2014 X-Factor Final.

So I’m inviting you as we enter the Festive Season to think twice and get dressed up!  Put your sparkly dress on and celebrate with family and friends.  Your Onesie or Christmas Jumper won’t be offended if they end up back in the wardrobe!

Why not leave me a comment to let me know any reasons you believe we don’t get dressed up anymore?

 

Finally…..

My top tip…. If you want a very simple way to get dressed up then simply put on a simple plain dress or top and put on some sparkly accessories to complete the look!

 

 

 

 

 

inspiring women bonnie s. hardie homeless for two years

Being Homeless Is It Your Worst Nightmare?

Is the thought of being homeless your worst nightmare?  I know it’s mine.inspiring women bonnie s. hardie homeless for two years

Heck I can’t even entertain the idea of doing The Big Sleep Out.   Incidentally, a friend of mine did it last year and said that it was incredibly hard.   She also shared with me that they had it ‘easy’ with hot food before and after the event, a ground sheet and an insulating layer of plastic bubble wrap….

The image of homelessness conjures up an image and we often associate it with substance abuse or mental health issues.  But what if you became homeless through a perfect storm of circumstances?  You’d been in full time employment, been living a comfortable life and then it all changed.

My latest inspiring woman interview is with Bonnie S Hardie.   Bonnie is a bubbly, confident entrepreneur, supporting business owners, with her services as a Virtual Assistant and Social Media Expert.  Bonnie lives in Florida with her two gorgeous kittens.  I was speechless when I discovered she’d been homeless for nearly two years (2015-2017).    Her story of resilience and determination is simply inspiring.

What Were The Circumstances Leading To You Becoming Homeless?

Several things led up to my being homeless.  I sustained a severe knee injury at work. I was working in a restaurant and so had to give up my job.    Unfortunately the knee injury had revealed more extensive problems with my knees. While I was cleared to go back to work after the injury I struggled to find a job.

I applied for benefits but it’s an extremely long and arduous process in the US.  I had no choice but to give up my accommodation, as I could no longer pay the rent.

A neighbour and I made an agreement.  I would move in with her and help her with her mother who had Alzheimer’s.  In return for helping her mother at night, when my neighbour worked I would live rent-free.    Sadly only about three weeks into the arrangement her mother passed away.

We then made a new agreement that I would pay one week’s rent and she would pay the next week.    This only lasted about a month before she decided to move to another state.   I was unable to pay for the full amount of the rent on my own after this.

 

homeless living in a tentWhy Didn’t You Consider Yourself Homeless When You Lived In A Tent?

I didn’t consider myself “homeless” because I had a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on.  I was living in a tent and sleeping on an Air Mattress. Instead I looked at it as being on an extended camping trip.  Albeit without some of the comforts that we often take for granted on camping holidays.

What Was The Worst Thing About Being Homeless?

Having to deal with possums, raccoons and snakes coming up to my tent at night to chew on it!

Being regularly asked if I had any drugs or alcohol (I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs).

Other people. Those who judged me, showed a complete lack of respect and were rude, simply because of the way they viewed someone who was homeless.

The most frightening aspect was not having anyone to trust.

What Were Your Positive Takeaways From Being Homeless

It was down to me I only had myself to rely on.

I am a very resilient person so I dug deep and this helped me to stay strong.   I managed to detach myself from the situation, to appreciate that it was happening for me and not to me.

Luckily I had neither animals nor children, so with no dependents it was easier.   I really learned to appreciate what I did have.  It was a great opportunity to learn a lot about myself during this time.

I met a lot of different people who were also homeless.  They all had fascinating stories about how they’d become homeless.

Very often other homeless people were accommodating than non-homeless people.    They were not judgmental.

 

If People You Knew Found Out You Were Homeless How Did They React?

I did not tell too many people about my situation because I was embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I was homeless.

Those I did tell were people at places where I hung out during the day (Library, Grocery Store, Coffee Shops) and they were generally nice.

It certainly helped that I made an extreme effort to stay clean (showering every day at a campsite). I was always polite to everyone I met and this meant others responded to me more positively.

 

What Impact Has Being Homeless Had On You As A Person?

I am more empathetic and sympathetic towards other people.

Before I was homeless, I got to know several homeless people.  They would come in to the restaurant where I worked.  I was always nice to them and treated them with respect. But being homeless has meant that I’m even more empathetic and sympathetic towards others.

It’s also fair to say that I am much more appreciative of what I have now.

 

It Is Easy To Judge People In A Negative Way Who Are Homeless How Did You Cope With That?

There were always a few “Negative Nellie’s”!   Some people would insinuate that I was: lazy, a scammer, a bum and so on.  So I just did my best to ignore them.

I am the only person who knows everything about what happened during the 2 years that I was homeless. I tried my best to do what I could with what I had.

Has Your Attitude Towards Homeless People Changed?

I was always empathetic to homeless people, even before it happened to me.

How can you judge someone when you don’t know his or her circumstances?  You don’t know the story of why they became homeless.

What Would Be Your Advice To Anyone Facing Homelessness?homeless reframing

Just stay strong.  I know that might sound easier said than done, but try to reframe your negatives into positives.   So for example:

  • I considered that sleeping outside meant I was getting plenty of fresh air;
  • While I had no car, I did have a bike and that meant I got plenty of exercise;
  • Although I had no shoes I had a pair of flip-flops. This helped me to develop a cool tan line!

Are There Charities In The US Who Support The Homeless?

Currently in the county I live in there are no homeless shelters.  There are a few Churches who help the homeless.  But transportation is often a barrier to getting to the facilities.

I applied for and was granted Food Stamps, which helped me to buy food.  But with no cooking or refrigeration facilities my choices were limited as to what I could eat.  Hot dogs or pasta out of a tin were regular meals for me.

How Did You Turn Things Around?homeless mindset and self-belief

It was a long process.

I had to do a lot of Mindset work to get my confidence back.   I had to believe that I had gifts to share with the world.

Luckily I was able to connect online with an awesome Mindset and Business Coach – Liz Hancock from England.

Liz believed in me more that I believed in myself.  It was through her that I recovered my confidence and self-esteem. Without her help I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Liz and the other people in her private coaching group were very supportive of me and they always encouraged me.

We figured out what my Zone of Genius was & I was able to start offering Virtual Assistant, Social Media Marketing and Research Services on Facebook.  I’m now proud to say that I have a great business with international clients and am in a much better place.

Care Bags For The Homeless

A project that I am working on right now is : “CARE BAGS FOR THE HOMELESS” — Putting the following in plastic bags: water — socks — hand sanitizer — tissues — lip balm — snacks ,etc. These can be filled for about $5 each.  My plan is to hand out at least 150 of them.   If you wish to donate follow the link: :

Do You Have A Story To Tell?

I’m looking for inspiring women to feature on my blog for 2019.  You may think that you’re not very inspiring but I can promise you that the adversities we overcome and the challenges we deal with in everyday life are often the most inspiring.  If you’re interested in being interviewed for 2019, please click fill in the form below.

By providing your personal details we will only use this to contact you in connection with your enquiry about my Inspiring Women Blog and Vlog Series

 

 

Kate Cherry Personal Brand

How To Show Up As Your Amazing Personal Brand

Whether we like it or not we all have a personal brand.    How to choose to show up as our own personal brand is really down to us.

personal brand small business ownerI want to look at personal brand from the perspective of a small business owner. More specifically let’s consider those who sell their expertise and time.  You are your brand and it doesn’t get much more personal than that!

But even if we work as part of another organisation there’s a good chance our personal brand aligns with the business brand values.

Let’s take the example of someone while self-employed is part of an established brand as a distributor/consultant.  It’s highly unlikely you would put effort into selling and marketing this business unless your personal values were aligned with the company’s brand values.

For those of us who run our own businesses being aligned with our brand is crucial. It’s our passion, our raison d’être as we live and breathe our brand.     If we show up and are not aligned with our brand our prospective clients will be confused.    It’s not enough to simply talk the talk if we’re not aligned in the way we present ourselves.

If you are your brand it’s important to represent it in a way that aligns with its values in every way that we communicate:

  1. Our website/social media/online marketing
  2. Offline marketing – networking, events
  3. Working with clients

Lets Use Kate As An ExampleKate Cherry Personal Brand

I’d like to use Kate as an example.  Kate has successfully built a business with Arbonne a health and wellness company. Arbonne’s brand values are:

Promote balance and live a pure, healthy lifestyle that encourages others to do the same. Support the Arbonne products and culture with knowledge and relentless passion. Lead by supporting others with professionalism, compassion, respect and integrity.

Okay so let’s take 5 personal values out of that statement:

  • Knowledge
  • Passion
  • Professionalism
  • Compassion
  • Integrity

Those values are stamped through Kate like Brighton Rock, if you meet Kate you will realize that she lives and breathes those values.  They are her personal brand as much as Arbonne’s brand values.

Given that only 7% of our communication is verbal how else can Kate communicate those values?  One way is through her appearance.   Consciously or sub-consciously Kate thinks about those values when she gets dressed in the mornings.    She walks the walk.

Personal Brand And Our Business Brand

It’s about the three Cs

Confidence

If you know you look and feel fabulous that will shine from the inside.

Your inner confidence will be conveyed to everyone you meet.   You will be able to easily communicate your message and it will be understood.

Equally have you ever turned up to an event and felt self-conscious about an aspect of your outfit?   How successful was that event for you?

This is also about accepting that your appearance will not appeal to everyone, any more than you or your business will.   This doesn’t mean you have to completely embrace the idea of dressing for your audience (see consistency).  But it does mean being true to yourself and your values in the way you dress.

Consistency

This isn’t about wearing a uniform, but it is about being consistent in the way you dress.   Let me give you an exampleGet the colours right Hitchin style coach

If I’m out networking I’ll pile on the accessories.  I want to be remembered by the people in the room for what I’m wearing. I’ll wear a bold scarf, a statement necklace and often a chunky bracelet.

However, if I’m working with a client then this look is very much toned down.  Often I’ll wear black, a smaller necklace and sometimes jeans.  Why? Well I’ve asked my client not to wear makeup, to wear an outfit that shows her body shape.  I’m aware she may not feel very comfortable without her normal look. I don’t want her to feel intimidated so will not overpower her with what I wear.

You may wish to create a signature look that helps you to create that consistency.

Accessories are a fantastic way to create a signature look and identify your personal brand.  Alternatively you can do this with the style of clothes you wear.

Credibility

It probably goes without saying that we want to be known as credible and authentic?

It’s an integral part of building a business and establishing a know, like, trust relationship with our clients.

As I’m so fond of quoting: Style is a way of saying who we are without having to speak (Rachel Zoe).  So being seen as credible and authentic in the way we dress helps to reinforce this message.

If we show up in an outfit that doesn’t really represent who we are and our values, then we may find our credibility has suffered.

Remember that we all have a message that we portray to the world on a daily basis.  You can control what the message is saying.   Alternatively you allow others to make assumptions about who you are and what you stand for.

Within seconds, people can and will formulate opinions about who they believe you are. Everyone has a personal brand, whether you have consciously thought about it or not.

 

Oh and there is a 4thone….

ColourKate Cherry Get The Colours Right

Getting your colours right.  Wear the right colours and you will have a healthy glow, the wrong colours and you’ll look tired/overwhelmed.

Special note that if you’re having a photo shoot for your business or you are using video, think about colour.

If you wear the right colours for you, the final images will be much better.  Wear the wrong colours and it will show in images and on video.

It is also a good idea to incorporate your brand colour(s) into the photo shoot. Not necessarily as your entire outfit, you can include your brand colour as an accent colour (accessories, colour in a fabric).

The caveat is that the colours need to be in the right tone/shade for you.  If this is not in true alignment of your brand colours it’s not a big deal.  No one is going to be looking for that level of detail.

So In Summary

Think about your personal values.  Ask yourself if these are in alignment with your business values.    Then consider if the clothes you wear are an expression of these and if not what could you do to ensure more congruence.  If you’re still not sure, why not book a 30-minute no obligation call with me to get clarity on your personal brand and how to show up as yourself?

inspiring women Claudia Crawley Bells Palsy

Bell’s Palsy Absolutely Made Me More Ambitious

How would it be if, within 24 hours, your face became paralysed? You could no longer eat or drink, your right eye would not close.

Imagine the terror and how those feelings would be for a young woman? How would it feel if doctors were initially unable to diagnose or offer treatment?  This is what happened to Claudia Crawley when she suffered from Bells Palsy.

For many women this would have been catastrophic. But if you’re an extremely capable and resilient woman like Claudia Crawley you don’t let Bells Palsy stop you!

Claudia enjoyed a successful career before setting up her own coaching business.   Awarded Mentor of the Year in 2017 by City University of London.   A published author and in her spare time Claudia is a stand up comedian!

Claudia Crawley suffered from Bell's Palsy

Claudia, Please Introduce Yourself To Our Readers

I’man Executive Coach, Career Coach, accredited Master Coach, Mentor of the Year, 2017 (City, University of London). A co-author of ‘Winning in Life and Work’, ‘The Power of Being a Woman’ and author of‘Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things: 5 Steps To Add Extra To Ordinary’.

I enable women to drive their own ‘careers’,whatever their challenges, current status, or feeling they have run out of road. I help them to get ahead and stay ahead.

What Inspired You To Set Up Your Business?

I’d been a trained social worker and manager with an MBA, for a long, long time, working mainly with women in a female dominated profession.

In the late 90’s I applied for my dream job as a diversity consultant.  I  failed to get it through inadequate preparation.  After that, very disappointed, I lost my way.

In 2009, I had a great job as a knowledge, learning and professional development manager.   This was in a social work organization called CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service).  But I was feeling unchallenged and down.   I’d become stuck in my career.

When a woman from another department took out a grievance against me, unsuccessfully I might add, I got myself a coach to help me deal with the stress.

She was a blessing in disguise. Because through this experience I found coaching and realised it was a powerful way of enabling change within individuals.

I decided to train to be a coach and used it to work with managers in the organisation.

When I was made redundant, in 2010, it seemed a no-brainer to use my newly acquired coaching skills.   I wanted to work with women like myself who were stuck or who were managers, dealing with challenges in the role.

What Do You Believe Are The Major Factors That Hold Women Back On The Corporate Ladder?

I support the findings of Tom Schuller in ‘The Paula Principles’.

He found that although globally:

  • Girls tend to leave school with better qualifications than boys.
  • Women graduate with better degrees than men
  • Women are more likely to develop themselves once in the work place

But generally women were operating below their level of competence.

He found a number of reasons for this:

  1. Discrimination – we’re denied jobs or higher pay because we’re women.
  2. Structural issues e.g. getting affordable childcare.
  3. Lack of confidence. Women often lack the confidence to put themselves forward for a job, even when well qualified for it. Men, on the other hand will go for it even when they don’t have all the requirements.
  4. Lack of networks. Women don’t have the same rich network connections as men that can help them climb the career ladder.
  5. Desire for a better quality of life. Women may not want the stress of being at the top. They may consciously decide in favour of a better quality of life and go for a lateral rather than a vertical career. Were the challenges women encounter at the top less stubborn, more women might opt to climb further.

What’s clear is that the world is missing out on the skills and talents of competent women. Studies have shown that the more women at the top the better the organisation’s health.

Can You Tell Us About Your Hobby?Claudia Crawley Stand Up Comedian

My hobby is stand-up comedy, which I discovered by accident.

My life had become a bit dull, full of hard work and long hours and very little fun. When a close friend encouraged me to do a stand-up course at the Comedy School in London, I was a bit hesitant.  I thought, ‘Moi, serious Claudia, do stand up?’

When my partner twisted my arm by paying for the course, well, I had to do it, didn’t I?

Doing my first gig, at the end of the course was like magic.  People actually laughed – a lot. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. It was incredible.

I well and truly fell in love with stand-up. I’ve done several gigs since then.  I’m currently on another course, which is helping me develop my skills further.

The key thing I’ve learned is that stand-up is not just about standing on stage making people laugh. It’s an art.  There are certain rules.  It has to be worked at and developed if you want to be a real success.

My aim is to use it to take my message into organisations, and make the unpalatable palatable.

 

You Suffered A Frightening Health Problem Can You Tell Us More?

It was a long time ago. I was in my mid-20s when I suffered from Bells Palsy.

The condition came on gradually over a 24-hour period.  It started with a severe headache at the back of my head.  This moved around to the right side of my face.

Simultaneously, I experienced throat paralysis. When I awoke the next morning one side of my face was totally paralysed. I could neither eat nor drink nor close my right eye. I looked as if I’d suffered a stroke.

It took the doctors a while to reach a diagnosis and at the time they had no way of treating it.  Had I been treated, I might now have 100% movement in my face. As it is, I have about 85% movement.

So, now, I can’t raise my right eyebrow.  My right eye is smaller than my left.  That same eye weeps when I eat. My mouth is a little lopsided, which affects my smile.

The nerves in my face seem to operate a bit weirdly. For example, when I blink with my right eye it triggers a tick lower down my face. This gets worse when I’m stressed or nervous.

 

Having An Asymmetrical Face Is Pretty Scaryinspiring women Claudia Crawley Bells Palsy

The whole experience was traumatic, all the more so, because in this image conscious world, your face is the first thing people see on meeting you.

Imagine waking up one day to find that one side of your face for which you’d been complimented all your life had dropped and was paralysed. Imagine the horror!

So, my self-confidence plummeted and for years I felt ugly.

The worse thing was that it took away my smile, which of course is crucial to forming new relationships. I learned to live with this new identity – I had no choice. But I had difficulty seeing past the damage whenever I looked in the mirror.  Looking in the mirror was something I hated doing.

I also hated being photographed and if the photographer insisted, it would have to be on my ‘best side’. This may explain why I’ve found doing videos a turn off – although I’ve done a few. Possibly a matter of needs must.

Last year I had a session of Rapid Transformational Therapy with Dr Cheryl Chapman. Whilst my face is slightly better, the key thing I gained was the confidence to finally accept myself for who I now am and for how I look.

I no longer notice my facial imperfections in the same way and I’m no longer obsessed by it.

Interestingly it never got in the way of my personal relationships. This is an indication that the problem was mine, rather than other people’s approach to me.

 

How Did You Deal With The Emotional Impact?

My husband at the time was incredible supportive. I couldn’t have got through it without him.

My first instinct was to hide away. But how can you live a life in hiding?

Especially when you’ve a large network of friends. I’d no choice but to be upfront with my friends and family about what had occurred. It’s not an illness you can hide after all. But by being open I gained their support.

Did Having Bell’s Palsy Impact Your Confidence And Self-Esteem?

I’ve often wondered why Bell’s Palsy happened to me. What did I do to deserve it?

It’s as if I lost my looks through a nasty cosmic joke. But it’s not the worst affliction I could have had.  Although I thought it was for many years.  Now I’m in a better place emotionally, I recognise that I’ve so much to be grateful for.

Did Bell’s Palsy Impact Your Career?

I guess that unconsciously my career success was compensation for ‘losing my good looks’.  I was ambitious and driven and put everything into climbing the ladder.  However, I couldn’t shake off the self-consciousness that a lop-sided face gave me.

So perhaps I may have been more successful had I not had this experience – who knows?

Has Bell’s Palsy Had An Impact On Your Role As A Mentor And Coach?

If anything, Bell’s Palsy has made me sensitive to the plight of other people, especially to those with disabilities.

I met a man recently who’d experienced Bell’s Palsy and I felt an immediate connection with him. I was able to share my story and empathise. We became good friends as a result.

What Is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy is a form of facial paralysis. This is what I found on the internet: “Bell’s Palsy is a condition that causes a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face. It is named after the Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, who was the first to describe the condition”.

What Causes Bell’s Palsy?

Here’s what I’ve learned about the cause of Bell’s Palsy.  It’s when the seventh cranial nerve becomes swollen or compressed, leading to paralysis or facial weakness. The reason why this happens remains unclear, but there seems to be a connection with viruses (including herpes, influenza and respiratory tract infections), stress and a run-down immune system.

The following groups are at risk of getting it: pregnant women; babies; those with diabetes or lung infection, or a family history of the illness. In my case, none of these applied.

Can You Make A Full Recovery From Bell’s Palsy?

Most people make a full recovery within three to six months.  It may take longer for more severe cases of Bell’s Palsy.

In rare cases, like mine, the symptoms may return or may be permanent.

I’m one of the unlucky few.

Did You Get Support From The Medical Profession And In What Form Did That Take?

I got very little support from the medical profession at the time.  The doctors weren’t terribly sympathetic. I felt that they saw it as a cosmetic issue. They did not seem to realise it was one that could affect a person’s mental health and sense of self.

In the absence of a structured treatment package, I was left to deal with it alone.

I tried alternative medicine over a number of years, including physiotherapy, acupuncture and cranial osteopathy, but nothing brought permanent change or enabled the return of my old face.

What Has Been The Most Challenging Thing You’ve Had To Deal With Regarding Bell’s Palsy?

My own feelings: about my looks and my resulting lack of confidence. I’ve only just got to a place where it no longer bothers me thanks to Rapid Transformational Therapy and Dr Cheryl Chapman.

Do You Feel That There Is Enough Awareness Of Bell’s Palsy And If Not What Could Be Done To Increase The Understanding Of The Condition?

Between 12,400 and 24,800 people per year are affected by Bell’s Palsy in the UK.

But there’s insufficient awareness of the condition and insufficient research.  More research is needed into diagnosing, treating and managing Bell’s Palsy and facial palsy generally.

What Would Your Advice Be To Anyone Who Is Diagnosed With Bell’s Palsy?

Seek medical advice and see your GP immediately.

Go to the website of Facial Palsy UK and get as much information as possible about the condition and how to manage it.

The absence of information was one of the most frustrating parts of the illness for me. Had this charity existed when I was first diagnosed, I believe it would have reduced my panic and despair.

Are There Any Charities Or Support Groups That Help Sufferers Of Bell’s Palsy?

The charity, Facial Palsy UK, was established in 2012 with the aims of:

  • Increasing awareness of the condition and its consequences;
  • Improving the physical and emotional health of those with facial palsy ;
  • Promoting diagnosis, acute and long-term management and rehabilitation of people living with facial palsy.

One of their roles is to fund raise for world-class research.  When Facial Palsy UK was launched in 2012, very few research projects investigating the prevalence, causes and treatments of facial palsy existed.

Facial Palsy UK has established a Facial Palsy awareness week that runs from 1-7 March each year.  Look out for it in 2019.

Click this link to find out more from Facial Palsy UK.

Winning Pathways Coaching

If you are inspired by Claudia’s story and would like to find out more her mentoring and coaching programs for women, you can find out more at Winning Pathways Coaching. 

Do You Have A Story To Tell?

I’m looking for inspiring women to feature on my blog for 2019.  You may think that you’re not very inspiring but I can promise you that the adversities we overcome and the challenges we deal with in everyday life are often the most inspiring.  If you’re interested in being interviewed for 2019, please click fill in the form below.

By providing your personal details we will only use this to contact you in connection with your enquiry about my Inspiring Women Blog and Vlog Series

Winter Coat Invest In The Perfect Style For You

A good winter coat should keep you nice and toasty but you also want a style to flatter your figure.  A coat is an investment piece so take the time to choose the right one for you.  I’d suggest buying a coat that you really look forward to wearing.  My own winter faux fur coat is at least 20 years old.  I still feel a million dollars every time I wear it.  It’s a classic shape that won’t date or go out of style but equally looks modern and sassy.

So what should you look for when you choose a coat?

Winter Coat Styles For Your Body Shape

Pear Shaped BodyDebenhams Winter Coat With Fur Collar

You want to show off your waist and add some volume to your top half.

Choose double breasted and wide lapels.  If you can’t find both in a style you like go for wide lapels in a faux fur finish.  The texture and pile of the fabric will give you volume.  It goes without saying that your winter coat should be belted as well to show off your waist.

Debenhams – Grey Fur Collar Coat

winter coat for hourglass body shape

Hour Glass Shape Body

You want to flatter your curves, but keep things in proportion.  A great style for you is a single breasted coat with a belt.    If you are a petite hourglass figure just be careful not to choose a winter coat that is too bulky.

Hobbs – Camel Coat

 

Athletic Body Shapewarehouse winter coat funnel collar

You will find you can wear a number of styles of winter coat.  If you are tall then an A line with a funnel neck will look amazing.  You can also wear a winter coat that’s belted to give you some curves.  Puffa jackets will also look fabulous on your slender frame and will add some curves to your top half.

Warehouse – Funnel Coat

 

 

Lipsy Winter CoatInverted Triangle Body Shape

You want to soften your shoulders and add some volume to your bottom half.  You can do this with a slightly fitted coat with soft shoulders.

Lipsy – Red Coat

 

 

Apple Body ShapeWinter Coat Chesca Wrap Style

You want to avoid anything that is too bulky and lacks definition.  Look for  some structure in a winter coat.  You can wear either a waterfall style jacket or coat that you can wear open and finish with a scarf. Alternatively look for a winter coat that has a wrapped look.

Chesca Wrap Coat

 

 

winter coat for petite womanPetite Body

While not a body shape, anyone who is petite needs to avoid overly big and bulky styles.  A winter coat for you needs to be more figure hugging otherwise the fabric may overwhelm you.

A shorter coat (finishing around your knees) will make your legs look longer.  Alternatively look for a winter coat with an asymmetric hemline

Joe Browns Coat

 

Big BustWinter Coat Single Breasted

You may find that buying a winter coat to fit your bust will mean it’s too big everywhere else.  Do not be tempted to swamp yourself in a poncho it will simply draw attention to your bust.  A good option is linear style single- breasted coat. This style will be simple and figure flattering especially with a deep v.neck.

Reiss Single Breasted Coat

 

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what body shape you are, download my free body shape guide to find out.

 

 

 

Wardrobe DeTox Tips

How To Save Money On Clothes

You can save money on clothes and still have lots to wear.  How?  Well, you can spend hours browsing charity shops, dress agencies or browsing on eBay. Or if that sounds like your idea of hell why not use accessories to maximize your outfit potential?

There are so many advantages to wearing accessories and my favourites are:

Create More Outfits From Less ClothesAccessories save money on clothes

You do not need a wardrobe full of clothes to create more outfits!  I know it sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true.

Save Money On Clothes

Wearing costume jewellery and scarves is a lot cheaper than buying a new outfit because you’re bored with your wardrobe.

Avoid Packing Nightmares

Heading off for a short break and don’t want to check in luggage.  Use accessories to maximize your wardrobe choices.   They take up less space and give flexibility.   Another bonus:  your clothes are less crumpled when you arrive at your destination.

Rescue Outfits In The Wrong Colours

You can ‘rescue’ outfits in the wrong colours by wearing scarves and necklaces in your colour palette.

If you’ve recently had a colour analysis done, a few scarves and necklaces is a lot cheaper than getting rid of clothes you love.

Repurpose An OutfitAccessories Save Money On Clothes

Transform an outfit from day to night.  With Christmas party time approaching and after work drinks invitations this is invaluable.  So much easier than having to carry a change of clothes!

Dress Down An Outfit

Use accessories to dress down a smart look into something more casual.  Wear an ethnic style necklace with a smart dress for example.

Create A Signature Look

If you are running your own business and are attending a lot of networking events accessories can help to identify you. They can also become a talking point.

Do You Really Save Money On Clothes?

You may argue that by buying a few scarves and necklaces your clothing budget has not reduced that much.  Well that does depend where you shop.  If you buy designer labels.  I’d agree you might struggle to save money on clothes!

But I’d recommend popping into the various charity shops – you’ll find scarves and necklaces at ridiculously cheap prices.  Okay so they may not be designer labels but it will help you build a wide selection at great prices.  Most charity shops organize accessories in colours.  This makes it so easy to check if they have anything in your palette.

Just A Word About Belts

I’ve mentioned scarves and necklaces at length, but belts are another way to transform an outfit.

Many women worry that belts will draw attention to the wrong part of your body.  But in fact belts can be a great way to create definition and draw attention to the bits of your body you love.

Wear a top with a belt and then again without and you’ve already got two different looks for the same top.   If you have narrow hips then wear a belt slung low across your hips to add definition to this area.  A great bust and defined waist, wear a belt higher to show off your upper torso.

Just To Show You What I Mean

Here’s a case study of how I used accessories and a jacket to create a series of different looks from a couple of dresses.

If You’re Still Not Sure…

If you love accessories but are not sure how to use them to best effect?  I’m about to launch an online course to help you to accessorize with style and confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

new pair of jeans skinny jeans

You Are Passionate About A New Pair Of Jeans?

When you find a new pair of jeans that work for you it feels like a dream come true? While we might find it a nightmare to shop for a new pair of jeans we love denim.  Let’s face jeans are versatile and convenient.  They can be dressed up or down and are staple items of clothing in many wardrobes.  But when we buy a new pair of jeans we need to think not just about the style, but the environmental cost too.

environmental impact of a new pair of jeans

Facts about denim

  • 8000 litres of water to make one new pair of jeans!
  • Harmful chemicals that are used in the dyeing process of denim
  • Distressed jeans – are sometimes sandblasted to create the worn look

But it isn’t all bad news and many brands are doing a lot to work on their eco-credentials. So when you buy a new pair of jeans consider some of the following brands.

Brands With Good Eco Credentials

M&S

Supports the Better Cotton Initiative and works with Jeanologia, which specializes in sustainable and efficient technologies to reduce chemicals, water and energy in production.

MUD

Have very high eco-credentials and are the only brand that works with a truly circular economy.  Using recycled fibres, recycled water in production and a carbon offsetting program. They also offer a ‘lease a jean’ program where you can lease a pair of jeans for a year and then effectively swap them out for a new pair.

Re/done

This innovative brand re-purposes Levis vintage denim.  Taking the pre-loved jeans apart at the seams and making into new jeans.  The jeans are manufactured in LA using water conserving techniques and no harsh chemicals. Because the jeans are made from repurposed denim every pair is unique.  They offer free global shipping.

People Tree

People Tree were pioneers of ethical fashion before most of us had started to consider it!

They source from Fair Trade suppliers who produce ethical and eco fashion clothing.   People Tree developed the first integrated supply chain for organic cotton from farm to final product.

Asos Recycled Denim

In 2017 Asos partnered with REMO (the Recycle Movement) to use a mixture of recycled cotton and cotton made in Africa for their Recycled range.

 

A New Pair Of Jeans By Body Shapenew pair of jeans finishing process uses chemicals

It can sometimes help to have a quick guide on what to look for according to your shape. So I’ve put together a brief summary on what styles to look for:

Pear Shaped Body

If you have large hips and thighs with a small-defined waist jeans are probably a nightmare!   You need to buy for your hips and thighs but this means a new pair of jeans rarely fits on your hips?

If you’re tall you can get away with wider legged trousers.  With jeans be careful about looking at flares unless you are very tall as the weight of the denim may mean you have too boxy a shape.   If you are petite definitely stay away from flared styles as they will not work for you, making you look ‘bottom heavy’.

Regular or straight jeans are going to look good.  If you like wearing longer tops or tunics you can also get away with skinny. More than most body shapes you will want jeans that really do cater to the feminine figure and have a more curvy style.

Hourglass Shape Body

You have a gorgeous silhouette with bust and hips pretty much equal and a well-defined waist.  But like pear shaped bodies you sometimes struggle to find a new pair of jeans that fit on your waist.  Again look for jeans for curvy women and styles with an element of elastane.

Skinny will look great on you and show off your hourglass curves providing you are not petite.  If you’re petite you should choose regular or straight styles.

A tall hourglass figure will look great in flares or wide legged jeans.  A petite hourglass will not be able to carry off these styles, as they will make you look shorter.

Apple Shaped Body

If you have no defined waist, a tummy and fabulous arms and legs you are very likely an apple shaped body.

You are looking to create some definition and shape.  But don’t be misled into thinking that you should hide yourself behind the widest flares you can find.

An apple has great legs and so a bootcut style will look good.  Following the line of your legs and then flaring out slightly. This flare at the bottom will create balance and take attention away from your midsection.

Athletic Body Shapenew pair of jeans skinny jeans

Your bust and hips are pretty much in alignment and you don’t really have a defined waist.   While you may wish you had more curves, when it comes to a new pair of jeans you are the lucky one!

You have a wide choice in terms of styles.  Go for whatever style you like from skinny to wide legged jeans.

If you are a petite athletic body shape beware of jeans that are too flared as they will make you look shorter with too much width at the bottom.

Love skinny jeans – add some volume to your top half with a top or blouse to create some shape and make your legs look even better!

Inverted Triangle Shape

Your shoulders are broad and your hips are slim.  You have a bit of a waist, but it’s not really that well defined.

You want to add balance to your bottom half and so wider legs will look great. Bootcut jeans will also look fabulous and add some width at your feet to balance your shape.

If you want to wear skinny jeans then you really need to do this with a top that you can belt and add definition to your waist area.  Alternatively a long tunic with an asymmetric hemline would be an option, but you need some shape and definition around your waist.

But don’t forget that charity shops and dress agencies can be a fantastic source of pre-loved jeans.   They will be a new pair of jeans for your wardrobe even if they’re not brand new.  You will often find designer labels and expensive brands at unbeatable prices.  Okay so you’re a chance on styles and sizes but it’s always worth a look!

If you are not sure what body shape you are or would simply like more information about clothes for your body shape, then why not take a look a my body shape guide.

 

 

cashmere and its eco credentials

Let’s Talk About Cashmere And Its Eco Credentials

As the weather starts to feel a bit colder (well at least in the mornings!) we begin to think about warmer clothing.   Cashmere is one of the most luxurious fabrics to wear.  But what about cashmere and its eco credentials?  Once the prerogative of those with deep pockets, cashmere is available in budget conscious brands.

Should we take advantage of these cheaper options?  Personally I think we should think twice before buying cheaper cashmere. We need to first understand what it means to cashmere and its eco credentials.

cashmere and its eco credentials

What Is Cashmere?

Cashmere has an incredibly soft feeling.  It comes from the neck and underbelly of the Kashmir Goats.  Kashmir Goats are indigenous to remote regions of Mongolia.  They are exposed to an extremely harsh climate and develop an undercoat of fine hair that they shed in the spring.

 

Why Is Cashmere So Expensive?

The hair is combed from the goats.  We’ll get on to shearing later.  It takes the hair collected from 4 goats to make one sweater.     There is then a lengthy and complex process to manufacture.  You may already be starting to question cashmere and its eco credentials.

 

So What About Cheap Cashmere?cashmere and its eco credentials

Demand started to grow dramatically from 1990s.  This is when cashmere and its eco credentials started to fall apart.

  • Farmers increased the size of herds. More animals needed more grazing.  Over grazing led to destruction of the landscape.  Goats eat the roots as well as the grass and vegetation.   The hard ground of the mountainous deserts meant they were destroying their own food resources.
  • The demand for more cashmere led to dubious practices of shearing goats, rather than combing them. If this wasn’t bad enough goats were being shorn in the wrong weather and consequently many died.

Brands like Asos are now putting a stake in the ground and refusing to stock cashmere from 2019.

 

Is The Eco Price Is Too High?cashmere and its eco credentials

So should we simply say that cashmere and its eco credentials mean we should stop buying cashmere?

We could, but that approach means we destroy the livelihoods of those depend on goat herding and collecting the fibers.  The landscape and climate where the goat herders live is remote and not suitable for other ways to earn a living.

Companies like Naadam are focused on a truly sustainable approach.   The founders also helped to found an NGO in Mongolia called the Gobi Revival Fund. This NGO helps the people of the region to sustain and promote their unique identity.

British Brands like N.Peal take a responsible approach and can trace their cashmere back to the individual herders.

Bigger brands like John Lewis ask their suppliers to sign a code of practice.  But do admit that this relies on suppliers being responsible and self-regulating.

 

How Do Tell If Your Cashmere And Its Eco Credentials Are High?

  • Price is a guide.  It’s not going to be the only way to tell if your cashmere is responsibly sourced.
  • The percentage of cashmere in a garment is another indicator.   More cashmere and less other fibres is a positive indicator.
  • Tighter knits.  A tighter knit is indicative of 2-ply yarn and a better quality.
  • Look at the brand.  Do they state how they source and verify their suppliers?  Many brands claim to be transparent and source ethically.  In our fast paced hectic lifestyles we may be too ready to take this at face value.  But maybe dig a little deeper?

Buy from responsible brands and consider that buying something made in cashmere is a real investment piece.  Buy something you will love and treasure for years to come.  Ensure that you care for it in the best way possible.  Even pure cashmere may suffer from pilling if it’s subject to friction (seat belt, rough clothing etc).  But with pure cashmere pilling only occurs once.   Avoid washing in a washing machine.  I have my husband’s socks that now just about fit me to prove this doesn’t work!  Instead hand wash in baby shampoo.

Environmentally Conscious Buying

If you want to shop more ethically, why not download a copy of my free guide to Environmentally Friendly Brands?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Julie Foster

Dancing With Breast Cancer: Happy To Be Alive

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I’m thrilled to share with you the story of one of the most amazing, courageous and sassy women I have the honour to know.Breast Cancer Awareness Month Julie Foster

Julie Foster is, as she says in her own words, a survivor.  But Julie is much more than this.  She is a caring, fun-loving woman who loves helping people.   Julie leads by example and loves to nurture others.

I first met Julie in 2015 when she invited me to her Strawberry Tea Party fundraising event for breast cancer.  She raised £1250 in the space of an afternoon.  The venue was overflowing and the energy amazing.

It was evident that Julie radiated so much positive energy and love for others that they were attracted and wanted to reciprocate.  I wanted in!  So signed up to her regular networking and personal development group.

Julie was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when she was 59 years old.  She enjoyed a successful corporate career as well as running her own coaching business.  Julie had everything to look forward to.  She was due to retire from her corporate role, excited about spending more time on her business and quality time with her husband….. Sometimes though, life has some unexpected twists and turns.  Julie’s belief system and positive mindset have played an enormous part in helping her to deal with a very difficult time in her life.

In Julie’s Words…

Julie, please introduce yourself to our readers…

First and foremost I’m a woman, Daughter, Wife/Widow/Mother/Grandmother and a survivor. My mission in life is to enable success in anything.

Was Your Diagnosis Part Of A Routine Mammogram?

Yes it was part of a routine mammogram.  However, due to previous occurrences of cysts in my breasts I attended annually.  Thank heavens I did or this would not have been picked up so early and dealt with so well.

What Did You Go Through When You Were Diagnosed?

A sense of disbelief.   A letter arrived to tell me that because of an unclear mammogram result I should attend a clinic in Luton.  I still believed that nothing was wrong and the re test was normal in the circumstances.

I went through the process with my husband Kevin supporting me.  My mindset training over many years enabling me to keep my options open.  I knew not to create fear in the uncertainty, as this affects your cellular composition.Breast Cancer Supported By My Husband

We were called back to see the consultant  Mrs Brazier, (no joke, that’s her name!).  I saw a picture of my breast on the computer screen.  She looked at me with an expression that told me bad news is about to come.

True enough it was not good.  The x-ray clearly showed some ‘salt and pepper’ markings just behind the nipple.

These markings can be calcium deposits.  They can also indicate cells that are changing or are in a cancerous state.   Mrs Brazier asked me to prepare for a biopsy to test the tissue so we can be sure what we are dealing with.  I thought this would be in a week’s time or some time in the future. NO. She says we will do this right now.

At this point my mind is racing.  My husband’s hands are sweating, while he puts on a brave face for my sake.  I’m starting to feel like this is not really happening to me.

While being positioned on the doctors couch she and the nurse assisting are trying to settle my nerves by telling me that it will hurt.  In fact Mrs Brazier tells me it’s the most sensitive place to have a biopsy etc etc.  So I get all assertive and speak up.

Meditation And My Believes Were Vital

“Please stop talking to me as I am going to meditate my way through this procedure” I secretly wanted to tell them to stop frightening me and putting negative thoughts in my head. This is how I rock and roll!

I then calm myself through practiced breathing and take myself into a place where I focus on a star, a star filled with only light and love.  Silently asking my Angels and Guides to give me the pain relief I need to go through the procedure.  Focusing on breathing and being relaxed and pain free. I feel some tugging and sensations around my breast but no pain.

Bandages go on and I resume my seat with the consultant and my Husband.  Her opening line to me.  “How do you do that?”  I need you in my waiting room to teach all my patients to do that.  Smiling I acknowledged the help I had just received.  I explain I have been practising focused meditation for years so not sure what I can do in the waiting room.

While I believe that I could produce a meditation for people to practice listening to, the challenge would be to get it to them early enough in the fast track treatment that followed.

The Longest Week Of My Life

I am told to expect a phone call the following Wednesday afternoon after the team have studied the biopsy and xrays.  This would be the longest week of my life.

The uncertainty is the thing that drives you mad.  I just wanted to know so I could plan what to do about it.  Any way the call came, and the result was that I had a DCIS.  Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, which means I have cancer cells grade 3 inside a duct behind the nipple.  I am told that it is contained but basically could blow at any time, cells would then be loose and free to spread around the breast tissue.  In the duct tube they were contained and safe for now.

More waiting, with what feels like a time bomb in my body.  The news was shocking and I felt like I wanted to escape, couldn’t breathe in the house, needed to get out in the fresh air. Kevin asked me what I needed/wanted so I asked him to drive us to our favourite spot The Three Lakes at Westmill Farm.  We had spent many happy hours there and I loved the feeling of space.  It was a beautiful day at the beginning of May, nature just budding into it’s glory.  We walked and talked for hours.  Deciding on how and what to tell the family.

I had a week to wait to see the Consultant surgery who would perform the operation needed to extract the cancerous cells.

 

How Did You Deal With Telling Your Family That You Had Breast Cancer?Breast Cancer My Family Organised A Barbecue

To be honest I don’t remember, and Kevin isn’t here to ask.  It’s all a blur of lost days and surreal times.  Walking around in disbelief and shock while trying to function on the outside I was very much in my own head, my own thoughts.

I do remember that my 3 children and my Mum treated me differently, possibly they didn’t and I was interpreting their behavior in a strange way.  They had a look of pity, of fear in their eyes and on their faces as you do when you hear the word cancer it strikes fear of death I guess.

My family organised a Barbecue for my Son’s Birthday.  I was angry with them as I felt the reason for organising was because they feared there might not be many more with me attending.

I don’t do pity and weakness very well.  My belief system is very much based on thoughts become things, so I didn’t want to fuel any negative thoughts.

Can You Tell Us About Your Treatment Process?

Physically I had to loose my left nipple because the carcinoma was too close to it to save. My Surgeon Miss Deol (wonderful woman) tried her best to save it but couldn’t.  After all this is about saving my life not my nipple.

I remember her asking me how attached I was to it, lol.  I replied I had had it for 59 years and quite liked it.  She did offer me a tattoo, stick on or reconstruction but it was too early to think about that.

Day surgery took care of things and I was soon home with my glued together scar and a pack or three of pain relief.  I needed it later that night.

A straight-line scar was all that remained of the offending cancer and for the first time in weeks I felt safe, glad that the time bomb was no more.

After further analysis of the cells and xrays etc I was told that I would not need Chemotherapy, but I would be given radiotherapy.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Personal Conflict Of Beliefs

I had been happy to have the time bomb removed but I was not happy about the radiotherapy.  It conflicted with my spiritual beliefs about healing of cells.  There I was believing that through thoughts I would heal my body and assist it to do so with rest, goof food and spiritual healing.  Being asked to allow radio waves to bombard my perfectly healthy cells, burn tissue away just in case a random cancer cell had escaped and was running around trying to find a home in my breast was totally against my principles.

I was in real turmoil over agreeing to the treatment.  So, over the next few weeks I meditated on this, consulted my spiritual Mentor and others. I read lots of material on the treatment and looked at the benefits v the potential damage to my body.

In the end I decided to go ahead with the treatment and blend the sciences, so I could receive the best of both worlds.  I will always remember the look of relief on the faces of my family when I told them I would go ahead.

It was difficult to go into the chamber every day for 6 weeks and allow them to bombard my body with burning rays.

 

How Did Breast Cancer Affect Your Mental And Emotional Health?Breast Cancer Bra Competition

I do believe that my mental health was pretty good because of all the years of mind training I have done, because I have deep faith and a wonderful family who allowed me to express my feelings, who asked me what I wanted and listened to me.

Emotionally I was up and down and definitely in turmoil over the decision I mentioned before.

I am a natural researcher so I went researching for information on the breast cancer I had and what the treatments would do.  In the end I had books on this and that arriving from every day.  It had to stop.  There’s such a thing as information overload!

In the end I chose to relax and surrender to whatever was to come.

Did You Get Enough Support From The Medical Profession?

The surgical team, including the breast care nurses were fabulous and supported me while I was in clinic and if I telephoned they were very patient and reassuring.

I developed an abscess which created secondary problems for me and they supported me through this very well.

As A Mother, Wife And Daughter What Was Your Biggest Challenge?

Being conscious that my family all needed different things and that I could not always provide what they needed.

My lovely Mum just wanted to put me on the couch and feed me chicken soup!  She wanted to treat me like I was really ill and needed her to do everything for me.  Not easy for me to receive.  However, after discussing this with her I allowed her to put me on the couch and look after me for one whole afternoon.  Then I jumped up and got on with life.  I think it helped her.

Did You Have A Support Network Outside The Medical Profession And Your Family?

I am blessed to have a wonderful network of clients in my business and friends who understand me. My clients collected together items that they knew I would like and delivered me ‘A Box of Love’ I will always remember opening all the little packages and crying at every one because the thought behind the gift was so very meaningful.  They held parties, kept me cheerful and positive as well as allowed me to cry on their shoulders and share my thoughts.

Did You Join A Support Network For Cancer Patients And Survivors?

No.  I didn’t want to spend my time around others who were suffering and hear their experiences.  This may sound selfish and, in a way it was.  I chose to be supported by others who would lift my spirits and make me laugh.

How Did Having Breast Cancer Make You Feel About Your Body?

If you mean my image, then it felt quite odd to look at a body that was no longer symmetrical. Everything about us is symmetrical, well it was for me.  Therefore, looking at myself in the mirror felt very odd.

Looking down on myself was also strange as I was used to my curves and now I had a boob with a straight edge.  I was assured this would soften and round over time and it has.

The abscess caused an unfortunate dip in the center of the scar which I think spoils the amazing job Miss Deol did of trying to retain a natural shape.  I have been offered a fat implant, taking fat from my stomach to fill the gap.  I may have this, not sure.

Generally, I was happy to be alive and worked on being proud of my new original shape and look. My Husband helped me very much to feel beautiful too.

My body is still changing three years on, so decisions about any reconstruction are on hold.  I know I don’t want a stick on, can you imagine? The tattoo idea was appealing but I don’t want one.

What Impact Breast Cancer Had On Your Life?

Interesting question this as I am a person who lives, very much, in the present moment or in the future. Very little attention given to the past unless I am giving it focus for a purpose.

Three weeks after the end of my radiotherapy my husband passed away unexpectedly, so I didn’t really think much more about me.  My health was very good and with lots of rest I was recovering well.  Grief took over really.

I was reflecting on this question and realized I have probably just kept putting one foot in front of another and here we are.  Not a bad thing in my book.

Has Breast Cancer Changed Your Relationship With Nutrition, Exercise and Self-Care?

Yes, all the research I did at the time resulted in my awareness of what sugar does to the body has meant that I try not to eat it too much.  Whenever I can I choose good fresh produce and stay away from sweet cakes. I never did drink fizzy drinks (unless accompanied by Jack Daniels or Gin) so everything in moderation is my philosophy now.

I enjoy food and having the odd alcoholic drink.  Sometimes a Danish pastry jumps into my trolley when I’m shopping!  But I respect my body more now and treat it with kindness.  Not obsession just kindness.

What Would Be Your Message For Women Regarding Screening And Self-Examination?

We are very fortunate to live in a part of the World where we can access medical services, undergo tests to prevent some diseases progressing.  For me I consider screening potentially saved my life.  Self-examination would not have helped me. I do practice this but my cancer was too deep to feel. No lump or anything external to find.

What Would Your Advice Be To Anyone Diagnosed With Breast Cancer?

Take one day at a time.  Be kind to yourself, ask questions and have a voice, ask for what you want and persist.  Do not allow fear to take over your life, but allow it to be your friend.  Thank it for showing up, but ask it nicely to bugger off!

Be open to receiving the help that people offer, but let it be on your terms.  Love yourself the hardest you ever have and be grateful.

My dance with cancer was brief, and my recovery has been wonderfully easy, I am cancer free three years on and sometimes I think I didn’t really go through much as I have friends who have gone through worse and are no longer with us.  But, my experience was mine and I honour that now.

Breast Cancer – The Facts (Breast Cancer Care)Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, one person is diagnosed every 10 minutes.

1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month around 5,000 people will be diagnosed.

Breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the past 40 years in the UK.

Almost 9 in 10 women survive breast cancer for five years or more.

Every year around 11,500 people die from breast cancer in the UK.

An estimated 691,000 are alive in the UK after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is predicted to rise to 840,000 in 2020. For many the overwhelming emotional and physical effects of the disease can be long-lasting.

A Breast Cancer Care survey found 1 in 4 women (26%) found the end of treatment the hardest part of breast cancer and only 1 in 10 (10%) said they felt positive and ready to move on when they were discharged from hospital treatment. More than half (53%) struggled with anxiety at the end of treatment and nearly a third (31%) with depression.

If you want to find out more or get involved in supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year then take a look at Breast Cancer Care

Inspiring Women Blog Series

We all have a story to share.  As Julie has shown, her story is an incredible one, of positive thinking and using her belief system to help her at a very difficult time in her life.   Her philosophy that no matter what you dream of becoming it is possible, if you embrace life, if you smile instead of frown, if you laugh and play, if you break free from your conditioning and listen to your soul.  Read more….

Your personal journey can be a real inspiration to others.  It may give them courage to talk about their own experiences.  Or it may help them to seek help or give comfort that they are not alone.

So if you have a story to share I’d love to help you.  It doesn’t need to be in the form of recovery from an illness it can simply be your journey.  Every woman I know is an inspiration.  something that may  gruelling physical or mental

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