September 2, 2020

Out of the Bubble with Susan Burrell.

I'm delighted to be joined by the inspiring American Author Susan Burrell. Susan is also a podcast host ‘Empowering Lives’, a presenter and guest speaker and is really helping people who are at a crossroads in life through her own intuitive healing.

After digging a bit deeper and reading more about Susan’s story, her journey really resonated with me and I'm sure lots of women will be able to gain some inspiration and relate to this one.

How do you describe yourself when you wear so many different hats?

I see myself as one of those carnival people of the last century with the poles and they're spinning plates and they're juggling. It's about creative freedom for me now in my later years. In my earlier years, I didn't think I was good enough or believe in myself. I was taught very carefully to not believe in myself in a very subterfuge clandestine way. As I got older, especially in the third chapter of my life, I really want to get out of that measurement of feeling less than and devalued and I did some very deep inner work.

Rachel I'm in the divine flow of life for the first time in my life and I had to work really hard to get into that flow of life. There’s days where I get sidetracked or I feel less than again, I mean, even though you do the work, it's an ongoing thing, right?

People think that once you get to this state of finding your way, of really finding the true self, that it's a done deal and you don't have to do any more work, but it's an ongoing journey.

Isn't it? Ongoing journey in this lifetime and probably many lifetimes, it's just an ongoing journey.

Life After Divorce

You’ve turned some really negative situations, emotions , feelings and gone through a similar experience to me with your divorce that really is life changing. How difficult did it get and how did you find your way out of it?

I've been on a spiritual quest since I was 17, 18 so I already had accumulated tons of skill sets. Working as a counsellor for 20 years with skill sets that I would use with my clients, I just used all of them on me.

I thought I had almost escaped the divorce debacle, you know, Oh, we've made 28 years and aren't we great. No!

All of a sudden, these women who had been divorced, came flooding into my life, you know, because if I'm not married, where's my tribe?

My girlfriends who were still married couldn't understand what I was going through.  I started hanging out with other divorced women and I noticed after a bottle and a half of wine later, they were still embittered after having been divorced 15 years ago. I'm like, I don't I want to be like that because I knew I had a second path in life.

I knew I wanted to live fully since it felt like my first half, I wasn't living my life as me. I was living my life in conjunction with someone, in partnership with someone. It was time to give Susan her turn and I think that happens a lot with women.

We give ourselves permission all of a sudden to really think about ourselves and what we want to achieve in life.

Divorce kind of kicks you out of the nest, right? It throws you out of that comfort zone, so for me I didn't realize it was happening until I actually chose to file.

What I mean by that is I kept trying to make it right and it wasn't ever going to be right. It probably wasn't right from the beginning of the marriage and I stayed 28 years, I was shattered. My understanding of who I was, was completely shattered, like shattered glass.

Different colours all over the floor. I felt like during the divorce, it was so contentious. I felt like I was crawling on my belly through that glass almost every day. After a while of feeling sorry for myself and running my story to friends and crying and sobbing and going through several box of Kleenex, I thought how do I want to come out of this?

I want to come out better than I've ever been in my life.

I am so surprised I'm saying this, Rachel, but the gift for me was to really dig deep into my spiritual practice again. Opening up that toolbox that I had and then applying it to myself. The gift really was the divorce because I came out loving and respecting myself more than I ever had. I came out respecting the work that I do, which I had always just kind of fluffed off. I gained the insight.

That’s the heart of what self-love is about, about accepting and loving yourself.

So many people don't know how to do that. We haven't been taught that at university or kindergarten, or we haven't necessarily even been taught that in our family of origin. I know I wasn't taught that. The good news is you get to make your life up however you want and if you want it to be a good, healthy, empowered, fun, creative life, you get to have that.

Facing Fear

How did you stop the fear from eating away at you and step into your new life?  I think so many women that I talk to have dreams and aspirations and they want to try and take those next steps forward but then the fear blocks and stops them from doing that.

That's a really good question. I think that was the gift of my divorce. I had been affirmed over and over that this is the work I'm supposed to do, not go be a sales clerk somewhere, or a waitress again. The fear showed up , Oh my gosh, where's my income, you know, but I began to learn that in order to come out whole loving myself more, I had to face the fear.

I attempt to do that now, when it comes up, I have to face it. Often times when you face that fear you can see that it's really just a small part of you that's trying to keep you safe. It's not a big bugaboo guy. It's a small little thing within you that's saying I'm scared. When you can recognize that, or when I do, then I can comfort it or say, well we're still going to do this anyway, but you're going to be okay. I do a lot of that kind of work in meditation or journaling.

I've just started doing that. I started writing a gratitude journal at the end of every day and I think it’s really made a difference. It has kept me grounded with in reality and given me a better understanding of what’s truly important to me in life.

A good journaling prompt you might ask yourself in the morning is what do I need to know today? I just do stream of consciousness writing. What do I need to know about my day to day and see what happens?

Live Your Empowered Life

You’ve now used all your experiences, your spiritual practice and your intuitive gift that brought you into the forefront to be able to help other people that are at the same crossroads in life. How has your work evolved into an inspiring book?

I had several clients and colleagues say, Oh, 'I can't wait to get your book. I'm going to read it'. I'm like, Oh, it's not a self-help read, you might get a gem but it's a let's go on this journey together and hunker down and do the inner work.

There's lots of affirmations in the book to work, I crafted it so you're going to begin on a gentle ride and then you're going to dive deep and then you're going to come up for air and then you're going to dive deep again.

Until you can get to a place where towards the end of the book, you get to rewrite your purpose in life and come out of the book with a real conscious purpose, which is a spiritual purpose.

I mostly work with women who have gone through divorce or are going through divorce and they really want to heal.

Most of my clients re reflect what I went through, they don't know themselves. I have a stellar client who said, I never knew that I had a choice about loving myself.

Feeling Lost in Midlife and Finding your Way Back

Why do you think we do lose ourselves in society? It does seem to be a common theme that women get to the forties and fifties and come to this point where they need to find themselves.

I'm praying and knowing that the current generation of women will not go through that, that they're going to know themselves sooner. I think what we're witnessing now in our generation is a closure of an old story, an old paradigm. The patriarchal that women should be seen and not heard, women stand behind their man, women stay at home, Or if you go out in the workplace, you come back and you do the laundry and cook the meals and clean up and put the kids to bed.

Inspiring women are the ones that are going to lead us into the light in and are the ones that are going to lead us into how the new way of living. I'm not saying men aren't going to be a part of it, but it's going to be awakened men, not men that continue to do the good old boy club thing, because it's dead and they're still beating it with a stick.

Women would hit midlife with society's description of how women are supposed to be in the world was complete. Get married. raise kids, maybe go to university, find a job, but now halfway through it's like, NO! and that's why women wake up and go holy moly, who am I? I'm tired of doing what everybody else tells me to do.

I had a yearning; I had a divine urge within me to be more than I was. I got battered mentally, emotionally, and energetically to wake up and stop with the old. I think a lot of women go through that.

That really resonates with me and that yearning for knowing that actually deep down inside you, there's something that was trying to get out, someone to be who you could be. It’s about finding your way through that.

Finding your way through is different for everyone, but I believe a consistent focus if you allow it. That focus is what we were talking about earlier, focusing on that divine urge, not what your head's telling you, but what your heart's telling you.

Allowing that to begin to inform you your wisdom within, because all the answers we are asking for reside right within us.

If you align with your higher self, if you align with the infinite then all your answers are right inside you. That's why journaling and meditating, silent meditation is so important because that's how you can hear.

Finding Inner Peace Through Meditation

Let’s talk about meditation. I know how good it could be for me, but I do struggle to switch my brain off. What tips can you recommend helping beginners learn to let go and meditate.

Meditation insight is a great ap. If you've never meditated, you can set it for five minutes. You don't have to worry about what else is happening and build up the amount of time you feel comfortable. What I encourage people is to start a meditation practice and start a journaling practice.

The journaling practice can happen right after your meditation, because then you're more open and you can write down insights. But what you also said, Rachel, starting a gratitude journal. That works a lot for people, especially if you're feeling a little down and out. Writing down the things you're grateful for is a very simple process to move you from despair or fear into love and light.

I have a guided meditation that I'd love to give them. It's called out of the box thinking and they can download it @susanburrell.com/free-gift-meditation

Self Love

My last question is if you could give yourself a compliment, what would it be? Women are notoriously bad at accepting compliments we always try to pass it off and push it aside or make a joke of it.

Wow, that's going to make me cry. I think I would. I, Oh, I can't even get the words out.

I would tell myself that I'm very proud of who I am now proud of the courage and the strength that I am and proud of the love and the value I bring. I'm very proud.

I'm sure you will agree Susan Burrell has really been inspiring and giving us all a lot to think about.

If you'd like to find out more, please go visit www.susanburrell.com.

You can listen to full audio interview here

#podcast #outofthebubble #inspiringwomen #divorce #sharingstories #conversations #confidence

 

June 10, 2020

The Impact of Lockdown Life On Body Confidence

How to love your body during lockdown.

I hope everyone has been surviving lockdown and managing to keep well. I am sure I’m not the only that has found this experience to be a real rollercoaster of emotions but what I hadn’t anticipated was the effect it would have on my body confidence.

In normal circumstances I consider myself to be very body confident, it’s something I’ve worked hard on and I guess it’s become part of my personal branding. I’ve modelled swimwear with Ashely Graham and represented older women in several lingerie campaigns, so I’d like to think I had the body confidence issue covered!

During the first few weeks I found myself joining every online exercise class that was thrown at me, some of which I really enjoyed, others began to feel like a chore. After a few weeks, life settled into a new normal routine and I’ve thrown myself into working on projects and recording Out of the Bubble podcasts, so I've had less time available. That’s when the guilt set in, I started feeling bad about myself because I wasn’t doing as much exercise or healthy living as friends and others on social media seemed to be. The saying “Comparison is the thief of joy’ is so true and this was another reminder of that.

I’ve continued to shoot from home and recently completed my first paid home shoot since lockdown began, for a lingerie brand. Whilst I am really happy with the final images it took much longer to shoot as I found myself being super critical and really harsh about my body and the fact that I’d put a few pounds on. For the first time in years I even weighed myself. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t have stressed about this but during lockdown it’s caught me off guard and I admit to having a small meltdown about it. I quickly remembered it's ok not to love your body every single day but you have to accept it, that's much more manageable and realistic.

I am happy to say this blip didn’t last long and I managed to get myself out of those negative thoughts, but it did stop me in my tracks and make me analyse why I reacted this way.

We have been bombarded by social media posts and advertising selling exercise classes and telling us that we should be all improving our lives during lockdown. How many times have you heard someone tell you’ve they’re learning a new language or attending every yoga class they can find? Whilst all this self-improvement is amazing if that is right for you how about those people that are just trying to survive and get through each day in their own way. There is no right or wrong way. Add this to the glib remarks added to articles and posts about weight gain it’s no wonder peoples' body confidence can be knocked.

Here are some tips that have helped me.

Unfollow/Mute accounts that have made you feel negative about yourself. Social media can be such a positive place if you carefully curate it to suit you and can be changed depending on your own state of mind.

If you are wanting to be more active, make sure you do the activities that you genuinely enjoy. I’ve started dance classes with The School of Strutt which I love and it doesn’t feel like exercise.

Don’t be camera shy. Start taking selfies and really look at yourself. Look at your face and recognise the person looking back at you. I found this really therapeutic and it was like reuniting with a stranger. It makes you stop and remember who you are and what you’ve achieved to get to this point, it helps put life and body insecurities into perspective.

Start a gratitude diary. I’ve used this lots of times over the years and began it again during lockdown, it helps remind you of all the positive, often small things each day to be grateful for.

Start the day thinking of one thing that you like about your body and make it your daily mantra, one of mine is ‘I love my smile’ other examples could be “I love how strong my legs feel’ or “I love the colour of my eyes’.

Keep repeating it to yourself throughout the day and you will be surprised how quickly it can make a positive difference. Once it becomes a routine you can then add more body parts and keep adding to your list.

Lastly, be kind to yourself and accept that your body is a vessel that has carried you through so many different experiences in life and is always there for you, so it deserves your love. We don't have to love our bodies every single moment of the day but body acceptance is much more important and realistic. Once we gain acceptance it frees up space in our minds to get on with life and keeps everything in perspective.

Keep being fabulous x

 

 

March 16, 2020

Is your wardrobe colour confident?

Colour Reveals and Wardrobe Renewal with Rhona Langan Style Illuminated.

How often do you clear out your clothes or evaluate your personal style and how colour confident colour is your wardrobe? I used to think I was pretty good at this as I love nothing more than packing away the last seasons' clothes and bringing out the new. It's purely for space practicality but it's like greeting old friends you've forgotten, especially if they still fit you!

I was slightly nervous before inviting the lovely Rhona Langan, Founder of Style Illuminated into my wardrobe. What we choose to wear each day is such a personal choice and I’d booked in with Rhona for a full wardrobe review. The clothes we choose to wear shows the world how we want to be seen and often heard so there's an element of judgement involved. I avoid ironing as much as possible, it's a reaction to months spent ironing in Denmark as an au pair in my twenties, with an over zealous housewife. I was surprised to find myself spending the evening before pulling out the worst offending creases and ironing like mad

I love fashion and like to think I’m quite good at knowing what suits me best, but I’ve never had my colours done before and was intrigued to find out more.

After a long career in the fashion industry, including as style ambassador for Phase Eight, Rhona took the plunge and created her own styling company. Rhona offers colour reveal services helping women discover the best neutral and accent colours to create a wardrobe that fills you with confidence. I confess to living in black for many years but now I love wearing bright colours, it forces me to be more visible and definitely lifts my mood. Some women can be scared to try new brighter colours and having someone like Rhona come and help you is a great step forward.

The tester drape process threw up a few surprises, colours that I’d previously worn a lot no longer seemed to suit my skin tone when compared to others. I’ve worn lots of earthy, burgundy colours which I can now see made my skin appear duller and more tired after seeing how luminous a bright Fuchsia Pink made my skin look brighter.

Women are notoriously bad at spending time and money on themselves but when you think about how much you spend annually on your wardrobe, I think a styling consultation is a money saving exercise. The shift to having a more sustainable wardrobe is about buying less but making sure what you have is higher quality and clothes that work harder for you. Once we worked out my colour palette and discovered I am a Winter person, Rhona moved on to my wardrobe. Rhona is part of growing group of women who’ve launched styling careers in their fifties, I think age is an added bonus as a stylist; they can use their own personal experiences in a session which helps put a client at ease. There was definitely no wardrobe judgement. I found it quite a therapeutic session; working our way through every item in my wardrobe, it really made me think about how my clothes make me feel and if they brought me joy when I wear them, so maybe Marie Kondo’s decluttering lessons have something in them.

There’s a misconception that a personal stylist is going to come and make you get rid of all your wardrobe and start again but I don’t think that’s the case. I do have a pile of clothes heading for the charity shop, some I will sell on Ebay, but the majority have remained. There are a couple of items that I’m just not ready to part with yet and Rhona gave me new ideas to style them differently with the right accent colours.

I’ve been left with my own Winter colour palette card full of bold primary colours, that I have already used whilst out shopping optimistically for Summer t-shirts, along with a list of ideas of how I can add to my wardrobe. I need to accessorise more with coloured bags, belts and jewellery and I will be more aware of gaps in my wardrobe rather than randomly buying items that I probably don’t need.

My wardrobe has been refreshed with new ideas and style combinations; I’m looking forward to seeing how I can style things up differently. I've already noticed a difference in how I plan my outfits now and I'm being more creative in mixing outfits together. If you've been put off in the past by using a personal stylist I'd definitely recommend it.

For more information about Rhona’s services please visit www.styleilluminated.co.uk

Keep being fabulous
Rachel x

March 1, 2020

When does self improvement become a problem?

Self- improvement - Where does it stop?

''I’m all for self-improvement being the best you can be is so commendable and it's what so many of us strive for on a daily basis, Eat healthy, exercise, dress well, use beauty products and enhancements. However, when does self-improvement become a problem?

I've been pondering that question for quite a while now and recently I've begun to realise just how much advertisers depend and procure our insecurities for financial gain.

I sat down with my 84-year-old father last week and had a really long chat, although I'm close to my parents it's not something I think we do anywhere near enough.

My father has had two new hips, two new knees extensive heart surgery with a combined defibrillator and a pacemaker fitted within his chest and he's permanently in contact via these devices to a specialist heart unit. However, my father remains a generally happy and above anything else a contented man.

He's captain of the local bowls team, yes how can he bowl with all those artificial joints ?? but he does.

He's happily married to my mother and has been for 56 years and he's head of our family which includes 10 women and no men apart from my husband but none biologically related and we all adore him.

He's not however been overly concerned with money mothers always done that and he's never been on a diet in his life or watched his alcohol units. And wouldn’t dream of having a mobile phone “ Why do I want people bothering me 24/7.

He said to me he's happy when he's with his family and friends at the local pub having a pint after bowling and sport!

Either partaking not so much now obviously or watching sport makes him very happy.

Keeping connected is his key. He told me about all the amazingly wealthy good looking and ambitious people he had known over his lifetime, dad is more of a plodder turned around to me and said but they're all dead now there's not many of us left, but I'm still here.

It got me thinking about whats really important about aging well and self-improvement, sometimes it can be so over consuming and hard work keeping up with all the latest trends and beauty tweakments that we quite forget to enjoy the moment. We're so busy striving for better and better that we often don't realise this may be as good as it gets.

Looking back in 10 years from now we may just kick ourselves especially when we look at photographs and think why didn’t I appreciate how good I looked, why was I worried about what people thought about me or why did I think I looked fat in that!

Self improvement is fine as long as you don’t get sucked into that never-ending barrage of false promises false claims of wonder creams, potion's and lotions.

Dad recommends fun and love as the two most important things that are important to him and a positive outlook.

Enjoy every day as if it were your last, as one day it definitely will be!!''

Best wishes

Lesley Greenwood

Link to my professional profile !

https://www.psychologytoday.com/profile/412570

You can contact :-

Lesley Greenwood BSc (hons) MSc Clinical Science Psychotherapist/Counsellor

Twitter @Lesley Ann Green

Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/profile/412570

Email LuluGreen64@hotmail.com

Keep being fabulous
Rachel x

February 23, 2020

How an image coach can renew your confidence.

Listen to your inner voice and don't be afraid to question her" by Sara Marsden-Shreeve

This weeks Monday motivation comes from award winning colour, style and confidence consultant Sara Marden-Shreeve at The Image Tree. Sara is not your average image consultant, using her degree in psychology and coaching qualifications , Sara helps women build their confidence from the inside and out. I love her motto "Rock what you've already got" and this weeks post is a reminder to us all to be kinder to ourselves and to listen to that inner voice too!

"There I am aged 12, stood in the gym at our schools’ annual Christmas country dancing seasonal treat in darkest deepest Winter...yes you heard right bizarre eh? When I think about it now, I still feel a little gip in my stomach.

It was the usual scenario of girls one side and boys the other in which the popular "lotharios" got to strut their confidence and choose their bottle green clad damsel in a pencil skirt. How romantic?

I was usually one of the stragglers at the end, awkwardly looking at her scuffed shoes whilst the remaining boys chose with equal embarrassment and shame. You know... the usual demeaning stuff on the mean road to adulthood.

Everyone got to dance with everyone else as you’re passed from pillar to post and got to swing around and do the ‘dosey- doh’ and so on.. it beat sitting in lessons on a Friday afternoon I guess!

Well, towards the end of the afternoon I moved up the rows and eventually got to partner with one of THE top lads in the year, Mr Popularity himself. I literally gulped in my very soul. At this point, he quite loudly scoffed to his surrounding mates and groupies on my approach, whilst the teacher was pratting around with the stereo system, that it would be best that he not get too close ( to me) in case he caught and I quote “ugly disease”.

I remember feeling an inner burn; something had fizzled inside me.. the remnants of my self-confidence died and as you well know, there isn’t much to go around anyway in teenage-dom.

The rest of the remaining hour felt like an eternity and I wanted to go home and shrivel up into a ball of nothingness and as fast as possible. Fingers were being pointed and whispers were rife in that gym hall that day.

Needless to say, after that I felt the same sad void for some good ooh 18 years and the 'uglyness' tag continued to hang, plus, what with the acne, the scarcity of boyfriends and the body changes it was all an even slower burn. I think it would be fair to say that I “fell out with myself”, didn’t like me as it were, felt pretty well “flawed” somehow. One stupid comment from one moron took my spark! My arch nemesis ‘the negative belief’ was born. Boom!

As with most of us, life deals you a few shitty hands that seem to scar, but yet we are also delivered great stuff with the other but, we just don’t seem to relish them as much, you know like your first love, trying new things and feeling accomplished at something. Instead, we hang onto the negative, the poisonous things that bury themselves into our very core and stop us becoming truly happy or doing/being…you know ‘that thing’ we’re supposed to do or be. We all have it we just sometimes choose to ignore it because of fear of failure and getting sucked into believing it's all true and we can't or we're not worth it.

So you know what, out of nowhere, at the age of 35, I decided one morning that I was not going to return to Civil Engineering (my current job at the time, which I loved actually) and I was going to do something about me for me, but what?! Whether an angel had whispered these thoughts in my sleep or the universe had taken me by the hand in my dreams the night before, I do not know, but I was about to experience a shift!

I was still on maternity leave with my second child at this time and I felt I was drowning in nappies, housework and monotony. A time that I now see gave me unconditional love partnered with true reflection and the time to see what life can actually bring... family. To be honest, our journey to having a family was straught with miscarriage and loss so you can see how making the decision to do something in life was so inherent. No more victim, I needed to start listening to those crappy inside voices and tell them to shut the hell up and sit down, I'd brought lives into the world for god sake.

So to cut a long story short I realised that my future had always been there, sitting right under my nose, but had not really seen it or even looked for it.

I loved colour, loved fashion, loved people and how they ticked (I have a BA Hons in Applied Social Science) so I was going to learn how to build confidence through learning how to like me and my body again and give it the blummin respect it so deserved! Well-fitting clothes, my own style, flattering colours and love for just being me were my agenda. That way I could pass it on to others whom I know shared the same feelings about themselves and they too would be able to do something about it. Plant those positive seeds as it were...

I qualified via First Impressions in Warwick, first just as a Colour Consultant and then later on as a fully- fledged Image Consultant, I then went onto set up The Image Tree back in 2013. I built my own website, went on fab courses and learned to Blog, use Social Media and get myself out there and join networking groups full of inspiring women.

Through listening, acting on and meeting fabulous people and clients, I now sit on the Style Guru team at Henpicked, frequently speak on BBC radio , work with many local businesses/ larger corporates, collaborate with confidence building brands, present at seminars and even won some awards. Heck I'm even one part of a trio of women entrepreneurs who set up a local networking group with a twist WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) to help support and teach other women in business.

A few years ago I also added NLP to my skillset so that I can provide a Coaching string to aid Positive Mind-set further and provide the whole top to toe, inside and out services to any woman who wants to start their Style and Confidence journey. I'm also a massive lover and user of Positive Psychology and have truly niched myself by supplying an holistic approach to Image, because of it's proven powerful effects on myself and other women. Most of my closest colleagues are all practitioners and specialists within the Health, Wellness and Self Care Industry so we all bounce and support off each other. Cool eh?

So if you thought the whole Image Consultancy thing was a shallow, materialistic based service, which those not in the know think, then you'd be hugely mistaken. For me, being an Image Coach educates and delivers you and your confidence back to you on a plate, with a side order of ‘Love’. That’s just the catalyst that starts the ball rolling and hopefully sparks other things.

My personal experience combined with my learnings, new friends and my message throughout social media in general has become ingrained in me for the positive and continues to do so.

So the moral of this story,... remember to take the time to stop sometimes and enjoy your lot, listen to your inner voice and don't be afraid to question her. Once you start practising saying kinder things to yourself and appreciating what you do have, the crappy stuff eventually quietens down. ...learn to love the shit out of yourself.

Did that last phrase make you feel uneasy? If it did, then you've probably developed a block and feel you don't deserve to do it or may feel it's a tad "vain"? You know, it's ok to feel like that because we're not used to doing it, heck we cant even received compliments half the time, so you see it isn’t narcissistic at all and no one even needs to know you give yourself a hug at night or look in the mirror and give a cheeky wink. “Small tweaks tailor transformations”.

Cherish the positive stuff about you and try to brush the self-sabotaging stuff aside, a bit at a time. Your beliefs are just beliefs and aren’t even based on fact, heck they've probably been planted there by some moron at a country dancing lesson in bleak winter, so don’t let them rule you they mean nothing.

By the way before you cast your mind back to that fateful afternoon, I've since seen Mr Popular and I can hand on heart say that he is still a moron only much much bigger and yes I do believe in Karma. The aging process has not been kind."

Sara Marsden-Shreeve

The Image Tree
Award Winning Image Consultant, Coach and Body Positive Advocate

Original article https://www.the-imagetree.co.uk/post/2018/05/29/sticks-and-stones-built-my-business

Keep being fabulous
Rachel x

February 16, 2020

Learning to be kinder to ourselves.

Hands up if you've spent countless hours scrolling through Instagram, clicking "like" on women you think look great in that new dress, or with the new haircut or house only to come away feeling down about yourself or your own life? We've all been guilty of it at some point I'm sure. I'm a huge fan of social media as it's brought so many real life connections with some fabulous women but there can also be a very negative side to it. You definitely need to remind yourself that it's not all real; sadly lots of women still filter and photoshop the hell out of themselves, you wouldn't recognise them if you passed them in the street. We very rarely show the bad or mundane aspects of our lives, although those that do often get the most support and engagement from others. We all need this reality check sometimes and learn to be kinder to ourselves.

It doesn't help when media advertising constantly feed us images of perfect, youthful women who we can't possibly relate to because she's 4 inches taller or three sizes smaller and thirty years younger! Some brands have begun to understand the real need for diversity in their campaigns; I honestly believe one day we won't even need this conversation and it will just be the norm, but we are a long way off. Our natural default setting seems to lead us to compare ourselves to others and very rarely in a positive way. If you do struggle with this and it leaves you feeling negative about yourself I would suggest you curate the list of people you follow. Follow the people that leave you feeling inspired, motivated and happy and it will definitely help your mental well-being. The saying 'comparison is the thief of joy' is so true.

Monday Motivation from Emily Barclay, the Perimenopause Hub

Thank you to Emily Barclay from The Perimenopause Hub, for this weeks' Monday Motivation with a gentle reminder to be kinder to ourselves and as Emily says...."be more dog"!

"In an age of social media, it is very easy for us to become all consumed with the idea of 'perfection'. Physically this comes from the constant messages that we are bombarded with from all angles; how being slimmer will make us happier, being overweight means we automatically lazy and unhealthy, that to lose weight is simply a question of willpower. It’s no surprise many of us struggle to feel anything positive about our bodies.

Then there’s the mental health aspect. If it isn’t enough that we have learnt to hate our bodies, we also are constantly surrounded by images of others’ ideal lives. On a conscious level, we know that they have just as many bad days and troublesome issues to deal with as we do, yet most only post the positive aspect of their lives on social media, so we can very easily end up with a skewed outlook, which can lead to feelings of low self-worth, and even depression and anxiety.

And yet each and every one of us is just so special. Our body is our vessel through life. It enables us to do so many amazing things. Just today my body has let me wear Mr Men leggings, it has allowed me to lift weights, it has enabled me to hug my dogs, it has enjoyed some sunshine and cold winter air.

Our minds are amazing places that hold onto information we have learnt along the way, that interpret the tiny things we see and hear all the time, that come up with crazy dreams.

So why the title: Be More Dog. I have six dogs. They don’t compare themselves to celebrity dogs on instadog. They don’t have hang-ups about their hair length or their tail colour. No, they use their body to do what they want to do – to run around, to chase each other, to play, to eat, to walk. They don’t worry about an imagined future or panic that Buster from up the road is better at chasing a ball than they are.

We can learn a lot from our furry friends. If we need to feel more comfortable in our skin, just look at different breeds of dog: the Greyhound isn’t judging the Labrador for having a big appetite; the Great Dane isn’t thinking the Dachshund is somehow lesser because his legs are short; the Frenchie doesn’t think the Doberman has a ridiculously big nose. Yet these are all things we judge ourselves on.

Likewise, the Spaniel is happy sniffing around until she next has a ball to chase; the Jack Russel is snoozing until the postman comes and needs seeing off; the Retriever is curled up on the sofa until her human comes home.

The next time you catch yourself inwardly judging yourself, whether physically or mentally, just take a moment and see how you can be more dog in the situation. Be kind to yourself. Canine you isn’t comparing to anyone else or stressing over the unimportant, and you don’t need to either."

Emily Barclay

Founder

Perimenopause Hub

Perimenopausehub.com

Keep being fabulous
Rachel x

January 24, 2020

Welcome to Out of the Bubble blog

When I first started blogging I wasn't exactly sure which direction it was going to take so I think it's taken time for my ideas and aspirations to take shape. I knew I wanted to create a space full of inspiration and positive posts to help other women that may have lost their confidence along the way. When I was younger I struggled with a lack of confidence and it wasn't until I hit my forties that I finally managed to change that. Never in a million years could I have imagined being confident enough to start a modelling career at 46.

Out of the Bubble blog is full of inspiring women that have reinvented themselves; body confidence inspiration; fashion; beauty and a glimpse of my life as a model. I'm a firm believer in taking yourself out of your comfort zone to help improve your confidence and mental well being, so I intend to lead by example and have some fun along the way! I started the Out of the bubble podcast because I'd made connections through social media with so many inspirational women over 40 that have stepped out of their comfort zone and started something new which really helped motivate me too.

Since turning 40 I have faced some of my own fears, including my fear of heights by throwing myself out of an aeroplane in a tandem skydive for charity. I have to say it didn't cure my vertigo but what it did do was help provide a memory bank of my own courage so when I have wobbles I can go back and remind myself what I can do which helps me take the brakes off again. Since then I have said YES to so many more things that I would never have done before - I swam the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere twice; cycled the127 mile Leeds to Liverpool Canal and also from London to Brighton. It has opened up so much more self belief that I don't want to stop experiencing new adventures.

Join me on my adventures whilst I continue to step out of my own bubble to enjoy new experiences, from roller skating lessons at 50 to trying new activities and sports.

Would you love to rekindle an old hobby or passion? Have you a burning desire to try something new? I'd love to hear from you.

I know it's a cliche, but the saying "you're never too old" is so true!

Maybe you can come and join me along the way.


Rachel x

September 15, 2019

Life as an author with Imogen Clark

Welcome to this week’s guest, we are here with author Imogen Clark. Imogen’s first novel Postcards from a Stranger reached the top of the Amazon Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia this year and we also happen to have grown up in the same town so I can’t wait to hear how Imogen finds breaking out of the bubble too.

How do you describe yourself to people, are you comfortable now saying you are a full-time author?

Ooh that’s a difficult one to start with. No, I’ve really struggled with that I’ve found it really difficult. I think particularly because I started with self-publishing and I didn’t have anyone behind me saying my book was good. It was only when I got picked up by a publisher because they must think it’s alright as well, so then it was like okay deep breath. I’m getting better, my second book has now been in the best sellers list this week too so I should really be much braver.

It’s that imposter syndrome isn’t it, I’m the same. Sometimes I feel really uncomfortable saying I’m a model, I say it then want to run away and hide in a corner.

Yes absolutely. Or I can say it but then I don’t want anyone to ask me questions about it, so I’ll gloss over it and move on. It’s not that I’m not proud of what I’m doing because I really am, but yes, it’s that imposter syndrome.

I’m really interested in how you got started because your background is in law, you went to university, qualified in Law, raised four children so at what point did you think about going back to university and studying?

It was when my fourth child started school and suddenly thought I’m going to have some time here, I thought about going back to work but I’d taken all this time out of work it was going to be quite difficult to get back in. So, I started writing blog, I was writing a blog about what it was like having four children at home, it was good fun and it released a level of creativity in me that I’d forgotten I had. That led me to do an Open University course on creative writing and then an English degree and by that point I had moved on from just writing my blog to full length novels. I really enjoyed, I’d get to the end of the novel and think well that’s not good enough and start again. I think I wrote 6, Postcards was my 6th and I thought that one actually isn’t that bad, you know that one might be the one.

I think being a lawyer you're taught to think in a very precise way and it knocks the creativity out of you but it’s astounding the number of lawyers that go on to be authors.

The 6 books that you’d started writing, did you show them to anyone?

Imogen laughs out loud at this thought, no I think my mum read one. I think the very first one I let the girls in my book group read and they were very kind and I was terrified obviously. It was interesting, once they forgot it was my book we were discussing we clicked in to talking about the book and I just sat back at listened. The second one I was slightly braver and put it out a chapter at a time but only to a small group of people and then I just kept practising, you have to learn your craft really.

You self-published Postcards from a Stranger, how did you find that process because you were stepping into unknown territory?

Completely. Since the invention of the kindle there’s been this huge breakout of people self- publishing, it used to be called vanity press or books not deemed good enough to be picked up by publishers but that’s all changed now. Once I decided that was the route I was going down I just did courses, learnt how to get an editor, choosing a front cover, marketing, Facebook ads all the things I needed to know and then one day bravely pressed the button.

You quickly gained a great response to the book though.

I did, people started leaving comments and sharing it. I would ask them to leave a review because once you get reviews it’s got some credence and people then take a risk on it, it wasn’t expensive, I think it was £1.99. After it had been out for about 6 weeks, I got an email, it was from an editor from a publishing company and I thought it was a joke. It was from an editor who had read it, liked it and was working for Amazon publishing, Lake Union which is the women’s fiction arm. From that they offered me a 3 book deal. Dream come true stuff. I went from having this little book that I just published myself to being part of this huge machine which is so exciting, and they are a great publisher to be part of. It’s a huge learning curve and I’ve had to ask a lot of stupid questions and I’ve made a few mistakes but I’m learning every day.

At 52 you have found yourself with a whole new career, now dealing with Amazon, having meetings in London. Where we live is quite a small town, it’s the kind of place where people either stay all their lives or leave and then come back when they have a family. That’s one of the reasons I called the podcast ‘Out of the Bubble’ because we really do live in a bubble here. How did you find stepping out of that bubble?

I’ve gone out of my comfort zone. It’s very exciting and it’s very terrifying. I think it’s helped that all the people have met have been really lovely, mostly women, and they’ve been so supportive and encouraging. I did do 15 years in the corporate world so I can pretend. If I was really out of my comfort zone I could just pretend that I knew what I was doing until I had a better idea. The publicity for my new book 'The Thing About Clare' has got all sorts of things in place like radio interviews and a blog tour, all kinds of things and each of those things makes me do something I’ve never done before but I’m having a ball.

How do you juggle family life with four busy kids, how do you discipline yourself to sit down and write?

It’s really hard. When I was just doing the degree it was something that I was doing for myself to stop myself to stop me from going crazy at home with the kids so I didn’t want it to impeach on my time with them. Now I get up very early, it’s a lot easier when the house is quiet before it all kicks off. I’m not much good in the evenings so they’re a bit of a write off really. Just these last few days I’ve been away because I had to the editing for the third book and I just can’t concentrate enough, so I took myself off. My husband is fantastic, he just steps up and takes over which makes everything so much easier. If this had all happened ten years earlier I’m not sure how we could have made all this happen.

How do you find the inspiration for your books, have you got pages and pages of ideas ready to roll or do you get flashes of inspiration?

I’ve got various ideas some of which may turn into books. Some days I’ll have a great idea then the next I’ll think it’s not so good. One day I was walking to the cinema and between less than half an hour I’d had an idea, had the whole thing delivered to me in less than the time it took me to get there, which is bonkers. I was writing it all down really quickly before the lights went down in the cinema. But most of the time it starts with a question. For instance Postcards is about a mother who is not with her children as they grow up. It came from a really challenging day with my four children when I just thought I could just leave, go to Leeds Bradford and jump on a plane and they wouldn't miss me, which of course isn't true but it got me thinking well what kind of a woman would do that.

How do you deal with critique? You put your books out there and we all know in any line of work you can't please everybody.

I find it really difficult, it was hard enough when it was my friends, you know they said they liked it but are they just being polite? I see the reviews coming up on Amazon and Good Reads and look at them through my fingers trying to work out if I dare look. It's better for my mental health not to read them, not to know what people say. I just look at the average ratings.

What tips would you give to step out of your comfort zone?

I think you just have to be brave. You know we're a long time dead. I really can't bare the idea of regretting anything so what have I got to lose. If it doesn't work it really doesn't matter. You just have to seize the day, it's a bit of a cliche but it's so true.

So what's next?

So next I want another book deal, (which Imogen did go on to achieve a few months after our chat so is busy writing again). I just need to keep learning really and keep writing. I'm really enjoying doing what I'm doing and if it all stopped tomorrow no one can take it away from me.

Final 3 questions I ask all my guests. What book has inspired you?

Playing Big by Tara Mohr

Song/music that's inspired you?

Handels Messiah Chorus

Who inspires you?

J.K Rowling. Obviously because she is a phenomenal writer but it's her resilience, you know she had all those rejections and she just kept going.

If you'd like to follow Imogen you can find her at https://imogenclark.com/

Have you always wanted to write a book, maybe now is the time to get started, what have you got to lose? I'd love to hear from anyone whose taken up writing later in life or has a burning desire to tell their story one day. What would you write if you weren't afraid?

What's Stopping You?

You can also listen to the full podcast https://anchor.fm/outofthebubble/episodes/Episode-4-with-Author-Imogen-Clark-Imogenclarkathome-e2j0hb

November 21, 2018

Out Of The Bubble podcast with Jo Moseley (HealthyHappy50)

Episode 1 of Out Of The Bubble podcast is out and I got to talk to the inspiring Jo Moseley otherwise known on social media as HealthyHappy50. Here are some of the best bits!

I've known Jo for about 12 years, our children went to the same primary school together and then we both went through similar lifestyle changes, also known as divorce. I've been quietly watching and admiring the work Jo has been doing and her journey. She has grown and changed over the years and I have full on admiration on how she has transformed her life and what she has achieved so far, although I have a feeling she has only just getting started.

How do you describe yourself?

I still describe myself as a mum first and foremost and as a single mum that will always be my biggest thing. I have a very normal day job. I'm developing an interest in adventure, little adventures, environmental aspects and all the things about wellness and well-being around being outside and doing fun little adventures.

You say 'little adventures' but some of the things that you've done to date I wouldn't class as little. Can you tell everyone what your first challenge was and how you got started.

The first challenge was probably the biggest. In 2013 my mum died of Lymphoma, four days before Christmas and I decided to do something in her memory. The only real sport I did at the time was indoor rowing so I rode a million metres and a marathon, which basically means rowing 10,000 metres every other night for 8 months. We raised just over £10,000 for the MacMillan charity.It was a great way to honour her memory and it was great for me to help work through the grief and turn it in to something positive. So I started with something big and now I do lots of little adventures, wild swimming, paddle boarding, running, picking up litter and surfing.

How did you start indoor rowing in the first place?

A few months before I had been crying in the supermarket, with my sons when I just had one of those moments when I put my bags down and said I just cant do this anymore.I wasn't sleeping, I was really stressed, mum and dad were going through chemo, a friend lent me a rowing machine which really started to help me sleep and it started from there.

So most people might do a challenge and then think okay I've done it, that's fantastic and then go have a cup of tea and put their feet up. You didn't do that did you?

No I think I realised how much better I felt, I was 48 and i think some of the crying wasn't just life overwhelming but it was the early stages of the menopause but I didn't realise it.  I never asked my mum about the menopause, it just wasn't talked about. The symptoms were creeping up on me without me knowing so I did some research and realised these symptoms, crying, aching joints, not sleeping, feeling more anxious were symptoms of the menopause.I realised exercise had really helped me feel better and it would be silly of me not to continue.These self care routines to get me through the day became more enjoyable so once I was swimming, running and eventually paddle boarding they were activities that were so much fun, why wouldn't I want to do these things on a daily basis.

How did you get involved in the This Girl Can, Sport of England campaign?

The first time was after completing the Great North Swim and I took a picture with these really huge goggles on and they had this thing where you could upload an image and choose a slogan , one of the slogans was 'Damn right I look hot'. So there is me a 50 year old woman with massive goggles and a yellow cap and they saw it and chose me, I did a little bit of radio interviews and they were just broadening it out to fifty year old's and moving way from focusing on younger women.

The second time recently I wrote to them and told them my story thinking they wouldn't necessarily be interested but it was more about me being brave. I had this idea that if I wrote to people , the more I got no's the less it would worry me and they said yes.They put it out there and so many women said thank you for sharing the tough times and being so honest, I realised the more honest I was about the crying and difficult times and being injured the more normal I was, the more relatable I was the more It inspired people.

Were you sporty when you were younger?

When I was little up to secondary school age I was doing all the things i'm doing now, I didn't think they were sporty , I was called a tomboy, now I would have been called a sporty girl.I would be out climbing trees, throw myself in to the sea, try and skateboard, ride my bike. I've got a picture of me on my Chopper looking cool in my Bay City Roller tartan trousers but then when I got to school it was all very formal and that just turned me off.I loved gymnastics, doing headstands and cartwheels but school stuff just turned me off. From my late twenties to my late forties I did just about nothing, maybe one 5k walk and I did the Moonwalk when my marriage was collapsing.So its always been in me but for many years it was dormant.

So after all these challenges you've now discovered this real passion for paddle boarding , is that your main love?

I think I love all of them, I love anything to do with the water.Paddle boarding is easy in the sense that I live near a reservoir so I can do it in my everyday, whereas surfing and body boarding I have to go to the sea.

One of the things I don't think you realise is the impact your social media posts have on other people, I see your posts out running, picking up litter being outdoors it makes me want to get out and do something.I think social media for the over 40's is a really inspiring place. How do you find social media?

I love Twitter because everyone was so supportive, it's quite quick and you can learn lots of news things about conferences and events. Instagram is very pretty and very supportive and kind. You can curate a really kind environment and I've made loads of friends that I've actually met. You can't make friends over night but this is a different group of friends built upon shared goals and dreams and that brings them alive. I've not met anyone that I've then gone away and thought I'm so glad I met.

I would say it takes a lot of confidence to get out there and meet new people, have you always had that confidence or has it come with everything you've been doing?

I think I've had it and lost it. I think babies, marriages, miscarriages, divorce, grief, they dampen who you are, it's just a case of excavating through all those difficult situations and revealing who you probably are. I am more in my fifties like I was aged 9 or10 than I have ever been.I'm totally cool with the idea that I'm uncool. I'll never be the one who walks in to a room and they'll think wow she's so glamorous, they'll probably think when did she brush her hair but I'm cool with that just as I was when I was at nine or ten without the angst of teenage years. There's a real liberation now. I think your thirties and forties are really difficult because you are establishing who you are and there's a lot of keeping upness which if I was back there again I would say don't even try, follow your own thing. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing, it's just not relevant to your life and I still have to say that to myself sometimes.

Do you still get scared when you are doing new things? How do you over come it?

God, yeah.

I think i've learnt you only have to be brave enough to do the next thing, you don't have to climb the mountain just take the next step. You've just got to believe in yourself and see what happens. I'm going to give it everything I've got but not necessarily attach it to the outcome.

You've got quite involved in litter picking, plogging and environmental issues. Can you tell us more about it?

I have always loved the sea, my dissertation was about the environment back in the 1980's, I've been more aware of the problems with plastic and like most people watched David Attenborough. It's just been a rediscovery of something that I was interested in when I was younger. At the beginning of the year I decided to do a litter pick or beach clean every day and post pictures and see if anyone else would join in. The first thing I got invited to talk about what I was doing was at a running festival, it was just one of those relationships that I had built on Twitter. It always amazes me that people are watching you from a distance without you realising in a good way and thinking she's quite consistent about the subject, then someone comes along and says would you like to be involved in this, I never imagined it. It's interesting because at the beginning of the year I had written a list of crazy goals for the year,when I looked back a lot of them had come true, even if from a slightly different angle.

Do you think you've found your purpose other than being a mum and a daughter?

Yes massively. In fact I see the link between the environment and well-being is the link I want to share with people. Particularly at our age there is so much about our own well being, going through the menopause, the mental changes and there are so many things that we can do with a purpose to help bring everything together. So much of the environmental and adventure world is dominated by younger people and I just want to say look actually we have a contribution and we can have these little adventures that can be hugely enjoyable.

What's your current challenge and what's next?

I am running a 1000km this year, so I'm currently on about 750km. I'm thinking of doing a longer run next, possibly picking litter. Maybe there is one big thing in me when my boys have left, we'll see!

What song motivates you?

This Is Me from The Greatest Showmen by Keala Settle

What book inspired you?

Playing Big by Tara Mohr or anything written by Brene Brown

Who inspires you?

Taryn Brumfitt, founder of the Body Image Movement

You can follow Jo over on Instagram and Twitter @healthyhappy50 or on her website www.healthyhappy50.com

To listen to the audible podcast please click on the podcast link or visit

I'll be back in two weeks when I talk with Zoe McNulty from School Of Strut.

In the meantime...keep being fabulous x

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