how beachwear ready are you?

How To Navigate The Beachwear Jungle Sustainably

How beach ready are you?  I’m not talking about bikini bodies (everyone who wears a bikini has one of those!) but your beachwear look.

what is your beachwear styleHow do you like to dress to go to the beach?  Are you a shorts and T-shirt style – minimum fuss and maximum sun worship? Or do you prefer a more elegant style? Perhaps you’d love to wear a sarong but you’re not sure if they flatter your body shape.

Much as I have aspirations of being a style icon when we get to the beach, my beachwear is more practical.  We’ve often been out walking before we get to the beach.  So I’m often in denim shorts and a vest top.  As both are likely to be hot and sweaty (sorry too much info!) they’re purely for getting to the beach!  In the beach bag I pack a long cotton over-shirt.   Essential beachwear for the post swim bar visit!

In this post I’m going to give you some tips on choosing beachwear for your body shape and some ideas on where to buy sustainable beachwear.

BEACHWEAR FOR YOUR BODY SHAPE

Apple Body Shape

If you have a full tummy but great arms and legs then look for beachwear that will skim your figure and avoid voluminous styles.  I’d also recommend that you avoid skirts and sarongs that will draw attention to your tummy area.

Instead look for maxi dresses with an empire line.  An empire line has a fitted bodice ending just below the bust.  This will define your bust and skim your curves (providing the fabric is not too floaty).

Recommended brands: Aspiga and Thought

Pear Shaped Body

You have a small bust and defined waist, with larger hips and thighs.  So look for styles that show off your top half and don’t draw attention to your lower half.   Avoid sarongs, harem pants and wide legged trousers.   Instead look for kaftans or dresses with detail on the top half or around the neckline and sleeves.

Recommended  brands: Aspiga,  Chandni Chowk, La Mandarine

 

Hourglass Body Shape

You can choose what beachwear you like to show off your lovely curves!  But if you’re a petite hourglass shape then beware any styles with copious amounts of fabric as this will just overwhelm you.

Recommended brands: Aspiga, La Mandarine

Athletic Body Shape

Add volume and roundness to your shoulders and hips with your beachwear to create the illusion of curves.   A belt may be too much in the heat, but it will give you a defined waist.  Alternatively look for a pair of loose fitting shorts or trousers and a top. Another option is a playsuit which will be naturally waisted.

Recommended brands: Mamoq, Thought 

 

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

You want to balance your broad shoulders with beachwear that adds detail to the bottom half.  So sarongs, wide legged trousers or cut offs will look amazing on you.  Patterns on your bottom half, keeping things plainer on top.

Recommended brands: Ethical Superstore, Aspiga, La Mandarine

How beachwear ready are you?

Other Beachwear Items To Consider

If you’re looking to replenish your beachwear collection why not select more sustainable and ethical brands to do this?  But remember it’s not obligatory to simply buy new every year!  This is just a quick check list to help if you do need to replace or replenish your beach kit!

Beach Towels

Look for Organic Cotton such as the new beach towels by Rapanui.

Beach Bags

Check out the fabulous selection of bags woven from palm leaf and sisel at Edinburgh based brand Bohemia.

Footwear

Recycled tyres  from brands such as Gumbies, or beautiful sandals (while crafted from leather) that support local artisans from Aspiga. These are just a couple of the choices for summer footwear.

JUST IN CASE

You missed my last post about how to chose the most flattering swimwear for you, please  check this out here.

A Little Favour To Ask

If you’re enjoying my blogs can I ask a massive favour?  Would you please share the word on Social Media (scroll down for links below).

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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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?

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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.

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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

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

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celebrating international friendship day

International Friendship Day: Help Me Celebrate

Before I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2014 I can honestly say I struggled with relationships with other women. Wow that feels really vulnerable to share, but it’s true. I had a few very special and close friends but didn’t feel I belonged in a women’s world.  The idea of even talking about celebrating International Friendship Day would have been an anathema to me!

Limiting Beliefs

I’d spent the previous twelve years in a corporate environment where I very definitely ‘wasn’t one of the girls’.  I worked extremely long hours, which set me apart from my peers – I found it hard to switch off and socialize.

As a member of the management team I felt I needed to keep a certain distance from colleagues, particularly as the only woman in a senior role.   Interestingly the senior male managers were very sociable with the staff and managed this juggling act.   So guess how much of this was self-perception!

The decade before that I’d run my own business.  Again as the ‘boss’ I felt I needed that demarcation with my staff.  I was also working from dawn to dusk, couldn’t switch off and so apart from my very strong friendships, acquaintances dwindled away.

The long hours meant I didn’t make the time to socialize outside work. My social life, such as it was, revolved around the gym and studio classes, i.e. not that social.

Notice the pattern to my behaviour!   The truth of it was that I wasn’t confident.

Part of that was down to my eating disorder (at least until around 2006) but it was also that I was living a lie. I didn’t really know who I was and I didn’t feel authentic – I simply wasn’t ‘me’.

I felt that I spent my time trying to live up to very high expectations imposed by others and by myself.  Others have helped me to see that this is the result of conditioning throughout my life.

So What Changed?women empowering women

I did, by letting go.  It wasn’t a massive epiphany – I didn’t set out on a journey of self-development.  To be honest I wasn’t even quite sure what that meant and was wary about finding out!

Leaving the corporate world the second time around in 2014 was the best thing that I had done for years!  It allowed me to rediscover who I was.  To reflect on what would make me happy.

There were rabbit warrens, false starts and expensive mistakes as I navigated my way through the winding waterways. But the consistent thing throughout my journey since 2014 has been the presence of other women in my life.

celebrating international friendship dayWomen Empowering Women

Women I’ve met, with whom I’ve built strong relationships and deep bonds.  Women I know will be there for me and I’ll be there for them too.  To cheer each other on and be each others’ trumpet players!  Be there for each other, with shoulders to cry on, mugs of coffee and glasses of wine as needed.  Providing each other with a safe space to talk and offer support, hold each other accountable.  But most importantly to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate each other.

International Friendship Day

On International Friendship Day I want to reach out and say a huge thank you to each and every one of the awesome women, who has been part of my journey so far.  Thank you for being there and for allowing me to be part of your lives.

If you’d like to keep on celebrating being awesome why not join us on Facebook?  I run Awesome Women as we’d love to welcome you to our tribe!

 

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My Mission In Life Referral Program

How To Stop Wasting Money On Clothes

Perhaps I’m becoming more environmentally conscious or am keen to rid myself of clutter? Whatever it is  I hate wasting money on clothes.

Whether it’s buying items on a whim, which rarely look the same in the fitting room and in the cold light of day!  Alternatively buying clothes without a purpose.

Before I take something to the cash desk or hit checkout online I go through a mental checklist.   How can I style this, what have I got that works with this?

Wasting money on clothes is something that doesn’t sit comfortably with me.   I get much more satisfaction from thinking through my wardrobe and putting a ‘new outfit’ together from my existing clothes.

wasting money on clothes

How do you stop wasting money on clothes?

Ensure that everything in your wardrobe is within your style personality

Your style personality is how you express your personality through your clothes.   If you reflect your style personality every time you get dressed you will:

  • Feel More Confident
  • Look fabulous
  • Be empowered – you’re expressing your true selfUnderstanding Your Style

Do not buy on price alone (even if it’s a bargain!)

You will simply be wasting money on clothes. It’s not so much a bargain if you then have to go and buy more pieces to complete an outfit!  I know how easy it is to be seduced by price tags, but before you buy, ask yourself

  • What will this go with in my wardrobe?
  • Do I need it and what would happen if I didn’t buy it?
  • What could I use in my wardrobe to create a similar look?

De-Tox Your wardrobe

I guarantee that an afternoon spent clearing your wardrobe will help you to:

  • Discover hidden gems you’d forgotten about
  • Eradicate the sense of overwhelm you feel when you open your wardrobe and see ‘so much stuff’
  • Help you create some more outfits with those hidden gems

Know Your Colours And Wear Them!

For anyone that’s not had her colours analyzed I strongly recommend that you get this done.    Why?

  • You stop wasting money on clothes in the wrong colours and wonder why you put them on and they don’t ‘look right’
  • You need fewer clothes to create more outfits, as your wardrobe is coordinated and you can mix and match more easily.
  • If you do have clothes in the wrong colours you can get better use from them by wearing accessories in the right colours. This ‘corrects’ or ‘dilutes’ the impact of the wrong colour.

Dress To Flatter Your Shape

If you show off the best bits and down play the bits you don’t love, you will feel more confident.   By ignoring your body shape you are not playing to your strengths.

  • Like colours, clothes in the wrong shape, may look okay in the fitting room but get them home and they ‘don’t look right’
  • Clothes in the wrong shape will spend most of their days hidden in your wardrobe
  • Don’t simply discard them if they can be altered. Find a good local alteration shop or dressmaker to give their opinion.

Shop In Charity Shops

Be careful with this one, as it’s easy to get carried away and find yourself wasting money on clothes because you are getting a bargain.

You have to know what’s going to work for you and what won’t when shopping in these types of stores, as seduction by price tag is even more likely. Plus that charity shops mean you’re supporting a good cause.

I use charity shops to search for costume jewellery.  You can pick up great necklaces between £1.50 and £2.50 and totally transform an existing outfit.

Discover A Dress Agency

Dress agencies can be a great way of making some money from your wardrobe as well as finding some interesting pieces at good prices.

Pre-loved boutiques or Dress Agencies work by taking your clothes renting you hangar space.  Taking a commission on the sale of your clothes.  The good ones only take what they’re reasonably sure will sell.

They are often a good source of designer labels as well as High Street brands.  You will need to be self-disciplined if you are buying in a dress agency.

 

Has That Given You Some Ideas?

I hope that’s given you a few ideas on how to stop wasting money on clothes.

I’d love to hear more about how you shop.  Please share your tips in the comments below to stop wasting money on clothes.

If you’re struggling to discover your style personality, know the right colours for you or dress to flatter your shape then check out the posts below.

Perhaps this all feels a bit overwhelming and you’d like some guidance, if so then why not sign up to my ‘Creating Wardrobe Magic Program’ [link]

 

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about eating disorders

About Eating Disorders: Do You Know The Symptoms?

Last week at a networking event I used my member spotlight to talk about Eating Disorders.  The response I received was overwhelmingly supportive. One attendee said that she had goose bumps listening to me speak.

about eating disorders

I speak from my heart, as someone who battled anorexia for over 20 years. As a result I am passionate about raising awareness of eating disorders.

It’s my belief that we need to keep improving our understanding about eating disorders.

The more we understand about these mental health conditions will help others. Both in terms of those who are suffering as well as their loved ones. By educating ourselves we make it easier to look out for others.

I feel very strongly that some professions need to have a greater awareness about eating disorders.  For example fitness instructors, as exercising to dangerous levels is symptomatic of an eating disorder, particularly anorexia.

But today I want to talk about a demographic not automatically associated with eating disorders, older women. There is still a misconception about eating disorders.  They are something that happens to adolescents or teenagers. They are a young person’s disease associated with puberty. Eating Disorders have no boundaries in terms of age, socio-economic group, race or gender.

About Eating Disorders And Older Women

It is difficult to assess how many women suffer from eating disorders from mid-life through to senior years. As, on average, people take up to 3 years to seek help.

A study in Australia in 2006 among women 60-70 years of age, 60% said they were dis-satisfied with their body. 4% met the criteria for an Eating Disorder diagnosis.

Women who are diagnosed with eating disorders as they get older, fall into one of three categories:

  1. Those who have secretly battled with eating issues for years, but have never been diagnosed or sought treatment.
  2. Women who were treated for an eating disorder as a young woman and the symptoms resurface
  3. Those who have not previously suffered from an eating disorder.

There can be many reasons why older women start to suffer or why an eating disorder resurfaces. I was 44 when my father died. He’d been my rock since a child and we had an incredibly close relationship. As I grieved I became conscious that I was slipping back into old patterns of behaviour. It took a lot of willpower to realize that wasn’t the solution.

Why Do Older Women Start To Suffer?

Let’s be clear eating disorders are not about food. They are about a loss of control in someone’s life. They manifest in the perception that by controlling food intake the sufferer regains control.

eating disorders are not about food

This was something that I took a long time to realize about myself. I thought for ages that it was about my desire to be the slimmest, the fittest and most desirable.

It was years after my recovery that I realized that I felt out of control in aspects of my life.   When I was 13 my mother was diagnosed with MS, then suffered a complete nervous breakdown. I felt out of control and unable to help her.

Catalysts for eating disorders are often several stress factors.  The stress leads to the sufferer feeling out of control:

  • Death of a parent
  • Parenting troubles
  • Divorce
  • Children leaving home
  • Menopause
  • Fear of aging
  • Financial difficulties
  • Career stagnation
  • Isolation and loneliness

Add to this Society’s perception of the desirable body shape.   How we admire and respect celebrities and public figures that look amazing despite their age. It’s a cocktail that has the ability to reap havoc.

So What Should I Look For?

Anyone who suffers from a compulsive or addictive disorder can be extremely good at disguising his or her behaviour. In my case, not even my husband knew the full extent of what I was doing to myself. He was not always aware of the extreme levels of exercise that I undertook.about eating disorders and exercise

For example, we were out with friends for the day and returned to their house for a late afternoon barbecue. I insisted on driving home to feed the cat before we started the barbecue. While I was there I put on my trainers and went for a run!

The ability to hide signs and symptoms is backed up by new statistics from a survey conducted by YouGov. The survey questioned UK adults’ knowledge when it comes to spotting the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder:

  • 34% were unable to name a correct sign or symptom
  • 23% listed physical signs only
  • 79% couldn’t list a psychological symptom

Signs and symptoms of eating disorders can be categorized into behavioural, psychological and physical signs.

There are several types of eating disorders and by nature of this the signs and symptoms will differ for each.

BEAT which is the leading UK charity on Eating Disorders has a detailed list by eating disorder type on its website.

 

BEAT Is Calling On The Government

Each year as part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, BEAT focuses on an aspect of Eating disorders. The charity campaigns to raise greater awareness. This year the campaign is focused on early intervention and is called #whywait

On Tuesday 27th February, Parliament will be debating eating disorders and early intervention. The Charity is campaigning to get as many MPs as possible to attend.

Beat is asking you to contact your MP as your voice in Parliament to ask them to attend the debate.

By completing the form on Beat’s website, you will send an email to your MP asking them to attend.

The sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.

Thanks for reading this post. If you feel brave enough to share your own experiences, then please feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

 

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clothing choices confidence

Clothing Choices: How To Have A Great Day

 

clothing choices confidence

I left the house today for a series of meetings and wanted to make an impact.

It was hot and I was going to be spending a lot of time in the car and wandering around.  So I chose a sleeveless sundress which wouldn’t crease when I got hot.   There’s nothing worse when you’re wilting in the heat to think that your clothes are dissolving into a heap too.  I also chose some distinctive sandals.

But there were deeper reasons why I decided on this particular outfit.  The last time I’d worn it had been to a fashion event in London and I’d received some great complements.  I’d worn it before at a networking event and several people had told me I looked lovely.

Complements make us feel good and give us confidence.  While basing our clothing choices purely on the opinions of others isn’t a great idea, there’s nothing wrong in having our own decisions about our wardrobe ratified.

It worked! Five minutes after I’d parked the car I was stopped by a lovely gentleman who told me what a beautiful dress I was wearing.  He went on to say how he loved to see people when they really made an effort to dress well. Result?  I had a very successful first meeting (not with the gentleman who had commented I hasten to add!).

My second meeting was also a great success and by the time I got to my third meeting of the day I was flying high as a kite (nothing to do with the quantity of caffeine ingested!).

Conversely do you find yourself resorting to well-worn comfort clothes when things aren’t going so well?  Our clothes can have such a big impact on us that it can distort our thoughts and judgements said Professor Karen J Pine.

The clothes we wear affect our behaviour, attitudes, mood, confidence, and how others respond to us.  Termed “Enclothed Cognition“ by Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam.

clothing choices impact our behaviour

Let’s consider each of these elements in turn.

 

The Way We Behave

Take my example today.  I had just received a complement about my appearance, which reinforced my decision on my outfit, but more importantly made me feel fabulous.   The energy I exuded was positive and bubbly and helped to build the rapport quickly with the other party.

I’m not the only one testing this theory!  There have been more scientific studies have been carried out than my example today!

In one such study 50% of students taking a cognitive test were asked to wear a white coat. They were told that the coat belonged to a doctor. The students wearing the coat performed better in the tests than those who were not wearing the white coat.

We attach a symbolic meaning to our clothes. So using the doctors coats as an example. We associate doctors as:

  • Careful
  • Meticulous
  • Rigorous
  • Educated

 

Our Attitude

Today my outfit choice meant that I was feeling really positive.   I didn’t have to try hard I could simply be myself in meetings, feeling confident will automatically help us to relax.

Again this theory has been tested by psychologists.  In a study carried out at Harvard, this was tested by giving participants a pair of sunglasses.

Half of the group had been told they were wearing genuine designer sunglasses. The remaining members of the group were informed that their glasses were fake designer sunglasses.

The group was then given a competitive game as an exercise.  Those who were told they were counterfeit glasses were more prepared to cheat in a game that the group was assigned. They were also more suspicious of others!

Our Mood

How do heels make you feel? Most women feel more powerful when they are wearing heels, they act more confidently.  I certainly do although wearing heels was not even a consideration for  me running around between meetings in 27 Degrees!

So can our clothing choices have the opposite effect?

One woman I know has a ‘grumpy jumper’.   If she’s going through a low period she allows herself to put on the grumpy jumper and to allow herself to work through the emotions. When she is ready to face the world again the grumpy jumper gets consigned to the back of the drawer.

We can choose to dress for the way we feel when we get dressed. Alternatively we can dress for the way we want to feel.    I work from home a lot and my clothing choices around the house are pretty casual when I’m at my computer all day.  But when I come back from a meeting although I do get changed into jeans, shorts etc, I’ll usually leave my jewellery on.  It’s amazing how different this makes me feel.

clothing choices heels

Our Confidence

Who has heard of the Red Hat Society?   The idea originated from Sue Cooper in 1997.

Sue  bought herself a red fedora from a charity shop for $7.50 as a present to herself to celebrate her 50th birthday.

She immediately noticed how confident, liberated and playful she felt when she wore her red fedora. So Sue started to buy her friends a red hat for their birthdays. They added a purple outfit to their red hats and so the Red Hat Society was born.

With over a million members globally the Red Hat Society is a sisterhood. It’s a powerful social group which has helped to empower women. They spread their playful and positive approach to aging across the world.

A date for your diary – 25th April – The official Red Hat Society Day.

clothing choices red hat society

How Others Respond To Us

A study carried out at University of Hertfordshire, participants volunteered to have their photo taken in roughly the same body position.

The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their mood at the time they got dressed that morning.  After they had been photographed the research team pixelated out their faces from the images.

A second group were given the images and asked to determine the subject’s mood purely from the clothes they were wearing.

The study revealed a high level of accuracy in being able to determine the wearer’s mood by sampling looking at the clothing choices.

 

So how can we give ourselves a confidence boost every time we get dressed?

 

Know Your Colours

If we wear the right colours we look healthy and radiant. Other people are drawn towards us and want to engage with us.

They won’t necessarily know why they are drawn to looking directly into our eyes.

This can be really powerful if you’re meeting with someone and want to ensure their attention!

Conversely if we wear the wrong colours we can look tired or unwell. The colours may overwhelm us and people can be distracted by what we are wearing.

Have you ever been asked if you’re feeling okay, but until that point you’d been feeling fine?  What’s your reaction? Do you surreptitiously start feeling your forehead? Or do you make an excuse to disappear to the loo and poke your tongue in the mirror?

Well don’t – chances are that you’re simply wearing the wrong colours!

finding your style recipe

Understand What Suits You

Sadly most of us spend far too much time worrying about what we don’t love about our bodies.

80% of women are unhappy with their body image in the UK

87% of women opt out of an activity due to the way they feel about their body

These statistics are frankly frightening.  These findings are from the survey commissioned by Unilever as part of the Dove BeReal Campaign.

Wearing clothing that flatters your body is going to make you feel more confident. This applies to all of us, regardless of gender.

Style is a game of illusion. We can use styles, patterns, prints and textures to draw the eye in certain directions and change our shape. Conversely we can draw unwanted attention by wearing the wrong thing.

Take one very simple example. If you are a petite woman with an oversized handbag, this will have the effect of making you look even more petite.

Equally if you are a large scaled woman, and you carry a small clutch bag you will look bigger.

 

Clothing Choices Are Just About Colour and Style?

Not really we also need to think about our personality and how this is visible from our clothing choices.

With seconds to make that vital first impression, how much easier is it when someone ‘gets us’ immediately.

93% of communication when we first meet someone is non-verbal.

While our clothing isn’t the main factor in that non-verbal communication, it has more than a bit part to play.  So how do we express ourselves through our clothes?

By thinking about our clothing choices and what they say to the world.

Someone who is looking to appear calm and serene is hardly likely to rock up in a neon pink jumpsuit.   This is an extreme example but illustrates the point.

clothing choices reflect our personality

Discovering Your Style Recipe

When you’re thinking about the messages you want to communicate I’d recommend you start by doing this exercise. Keep a journal based on you, your wardrobe and your clothing choices.

The things you will be taking note of on a daily basis are:

  1. What Was I Wearing – remember how your clothing choices made you feel. Are there some pieces that are your ‘go to outfits’, in which you feel really confident?
  2. Do some items in your wardrobe attract complements when you wear them? They might not be clothes but could be accessories. Note these down too.
  3. Are there some colours that you wear that attract more complements or make you feel happier when you wear them?

Do this exercise for at least a couple of weeks.

When you’ve done this see what emerges. You will see some patterns emerging from your clothing choices. Whether it’s colours, shapes, fabric textures.

Take photos of the clothes that make you feel special and the ones you receive complements when wearing.

Look at the images – what words spring to mind? Become more mindful of the clothing choices that make you feel fabulous. This in itself will do wonders for your self-confidence!

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences of the way your wardrobe can help you to have a really fantastic day.

If you’d like to explore how I can help you to discover your style and make clothing choices that help you to feel fantastic, why not book a 30-minute call with me?

 

 

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