I think everyone experiences some kind of adversity in their life.
I’m still alive and both physically and emotionally healthy, so I can never claim that anything I’ve faced has done irreparable damage, and I certainly won’t claim that what I’ve been through as a woman is anywhere near as bad as what some women face in their personal or professional lives.
Everyone’s experiences are still important, though. They shape who we are, they shape what we do, and they shape how we treat other people as we make our way through life.
When I was asked to write this blog for Amy & Laura’s Wise Women series, I thought for a long time about what I could choose to focus my writing on:
The time I was bullied and threatened by a boss in one of my first post-grad roles, and was told by every other member of the all-female, all meek and mild, all sub-23 demographic of staff, that “This is what he does – this is why he hires us… it’ll be someone else in a few months and he’ll leave you alone.”
The time I got an (unpaid) promotion to a different site in a job I’d loved for years, to find that I was never invited to board meetings most of the time, and that I’d be told to “Shush, sweetheart” on the occasions my name was at least included on the agenda the rest of the time. Do I mention the arse grabbing? There’s not time...
The time that I approached three separate senior women in that same organisation for help and support, following some fairly serious discrimination issues that even I – as a pretty piss-poor feminist – saw were happening to me because I was a woman, and getting resolutely told that “Nobody helped me get where I am and I have my own things to deal with”/ “I’m a serious business woman and don’t have time for silly little girl problems” / “Grow a thick skin and get used to it.”
Why should I have to change who I was to adapt to someone else’s awful behaviour?
That last one was a serious problem for me. I didn’t want to grow a thick skin. Why should I have to change who I was to adapt to someone else’s awful behaviour? Even though I assumed through knowing myself well that growing a thick skin wasn’t going to work and/or make me any happier, my biggest fear was that if I followed that advice, I’d end up like one of those very women who’d (let’s not mince any words) completely shat all over me. Who needs men to push women down in the workplace when a handful of successful women who don’t want to lose or have their status rivalled will happily do the job for them?
It was shit like all of this – and so much more besides – that ultimately led to me vowing that one day, I wouldn’t spend my working days both making money for other people and having to be accountable and submissive to them at every turn along the way. I guess I actually owe them all a great debt of gratitude for pushing me ever closer down the route of self-employment – a route I now travel with freedom, fun, and a fuckload of self-esteem.
Oh how I laughed when one of them contacted me on LinkedIn
I will never forget how those people treated me, though. Not so much the men, as I have it on good authority that all the specimens I’ve highlighted in this blog have since been struck off or dismissed (probably for things far worse than their treatment of women, I would imagine). No, it’s the women I’ll remember, and my utter disgust in their behaviour as both professionals and human beings.
Oh how I laughed when one of them contacted me on LinkedIn recently to praise me for my success, and suggested we “grab a glass of wine and have a catch up to see how we could work together.”
Bitch, please. I’m busy working hard to show that it’s possible to be strong, successful and taken seriously in business, without being a complete cow to anyone who dares try to climb the ladder to your level, or has the apparent audacity to ask for help when they are at the lowest they’ve ever found themselves in their career.
I can look back and laugh, for sure, but the laughter does not mean I find any of it funny. I find it incredulous, and hate that these are the same women who will be automatically lauded for their feminist efforts simply because they hold a position of power in a male-dominated role or workplace.
I’m never sure what feminism really is or what it means, but in my book, the definition is that if any other girl or woman comes to you for help, advice or to simply cry out her heart because the mental load of anything and everything she’s going through is too much, you help them.
I’d respected those women so much prior to the point when I actually needed their help. If I’ve been fortunate enough to gain any other person’s respect in my life to this point, I will not let them down when it really matters.
Grow a thick skin?
No thanks. I’m proud of the one I’m in.
Find out more about Jo at: https://agoodwriteup.com/ and @agoodwrite up on FB, LinkedIn and Twitter
"I started to believe I wasn't good enough for anything"
Fast forward a few years to age 16 and to this day I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened but something was triggered and I started to believe that I wasn’t good enough - for anything. I left college and the joy of life just seemed to have left me. I took myself out of every social circle I was in so it was like I never existed - I just wanted to hide in my own world.
My life then deteriorated further - I lost loads of weight, weighing no more than 5 stone I looked like a walking skeleton and my skin was in the worst condition it had ever been in. I looked like a burns victim - my skin was weeping (everywhere) legs, torso, arms, back, face. My clothes would stick to me and I would have to sit in the bath to peel the clothes off me other wise the pain would be unbearable. Doing any kind of movement was excruciating as my skin would burn and sting and it constantly felt like my body was on fire.
The breakthrough happened when I broke down at my dermatologist appointment because I had literally lost the will to live - I was at the point of giving up on life completely. I was hospitalised for 4-5 weeks - and I made a great recovery - I started to feel happy again and most importantly my health had improved significantly. It was then that I decided to follow my heart and I researched performing arts schools.
I auditioned at a private college and I got in! To fund my passion I managed to get a job at the local cinema ..so that was my life for 3 years- dancing during the day then working till midnight at the cinema. Although I loved my life and the people in it, it was difficult at home - I mean …imagine being told every day - your life isn’t going anywhere, no one will give you a job because you are the wrong colour, ( I live with my family - its an Indian thing), ‘get a proper job!’- you know the drill.
So..how did I overcome it? Truth? I don’t know. Deep down I knew that everything was going to be ok and I had no fear - it was just a knowing (that’s not to say I didn’t have doubt days - because I did!) I was nowhere near the best compared to the other dancers. I knew I wasn’t - but I have a strong work ethic and that always saw me through any situation.
I had lots of dancing opportunities from P & O ferries , Radio roadshows to Theatres. I landed my first job in Devon and Cornwall as a Showcoat (Redcoat) - It was here I learned my presentation skills, DJing and hosting - this was a job where you never switched off! I worked in 4 different companies over the years doing more of the same - Devon, Norfolk/Suffolk (border) and Essex - A choreographer suggested I send my CV to her magician friend, whereby I was invited to audition and ….unfortunately I didn’t get it……however…. a few months later I received the magic phone call …. I got the job! One of the girls had dropped out and I was next on the standby list! I felt like I had won the lottery!
Sometimes the bosses covertly sat in the audiences every now and again to see how we were all doing - and it was here after the show they always said - “You were actually first on our list and it was your lack of confidence that had let you down at the audition - the job was yours”. Imagine my reaction! A girl that thought she wasn’t good enough - says it all! right?
" Deep down I knew everything was going to be ok, I had no fear"
I toured the UK as a magic assistant, spending the days on the beaches by the sea and performing in the evenings to packed out audiences. We laughed everyday…. I was lucky to meet world famous magicians, perform in theatres and was the one chosen to sing with Basil Brush on his summer tour.
I eventually came back home and have set up Pranava Dance & Pranava Well- Being. I have choreographed dances for exclusive weddings, the local community dance team for a national Raas/Garba (Indian Folk Dance) competition where they have been winning 1st Place for the past 4 years.
I am also an energy healer and have training in many different healing modalities. I enjoy facilitating well being workshops and love the relaxations at the end - I think that’s the only reason people come!
It’s never easy with troubled skin - you will have good days and bad days. I still had to perform every night no matter how I was feeling and that has made me stronger as a person. These experiences have taught me to push through any situation and facing it no matter what, I learned to focus on the task at hand and become totally aware of everyone around me. I also acquired the art of resilience - I had to.
My only advice is never give up - never surrender. Take a break if you have to, talk to someone and seek help if you need it.
I am not perfect - nobody is!
Go create your possibilities - Live from your from your heart - The right doors will open for you..
Only you know what is right for you…
Wishing you Love, Joy and Happiness!
The inspirational Miranda King is chatting to us about her unwanted birthday present, and how she navigated through a sudden cancer diagnosis at 30...
I remember crying the day I got the news. I received a call from my local medical clinic saying they had the results and I cycled frantically from work. I then walked home in tears and needed to call my fiance at work, struggling to get the words out. I then called my mum, it must have been around 2AM back in the UK and she was so strong- I inherited my strength from her. I waited a few more days before telling other family members because it was just too hard to break the news and handle their reactions whilst I was still processing it myself.
When I met my Oncologist, I started smiling… trying to play it down, brush it off but FUCK! I had cancer… this wasn’t in the plan. Boy do I now know what it feels like to have plans derailed. This year was about starting to plan my wedding, travel back to the UK on holiday, working out my finances so I could start saving for a house.
" FUCK, I had cancer, this wasn't the plan"
September 26: Fertility was pulled into question as chemo can damage your ovaries. Children weren’t even on my mind at this point in my life but I also didn’t expect to have the option taken away from me. I had 48 hours to decide if I wanted to start IVF or go straight in to start chemo. I was lucky enough to have family support which gave me the financial opportunity to go through IVF. I am still extremely thankful for this and think about our potential mini-me’s often.
September 28: My first day of Chemotherapy. I believe I was in denial for the first few months of my treatment. The only thing I allowed to change was that I chose to stop working so that I may concentrate on fighting this shitty disease. The days directly after a chemo session were spent on the sofa, unable to eat for 3 of them and Netflix became a great support. Once I started to feel better and before my next chemo session, I would still meet up with friends and even went once on a little holiday with my in-laws to Vancouver Island. This was such a wonderful time of joy for me, it gave me the chance to leave my home bubble for a spell and forget what was going on. My hair started falling out during that trip but I didn’t let it ruin the time.
October 22: We shaved my hair off. I had this whole idea to shave it off whilst friends watched, a make-up artist made me look like a warrior princess and a photographer took photos. In the end, I was in my tiny bathroom with one of my best friends and my mother-in-law whilst Finn did the shaving. We all ended up crying a lot in there. I did still have friends come over that evening and they still made me feel so amazing when I felt at one of my lowest points.
January 17: My last chemo appointment! By no means was the journey over but a really shitty and difficult part was. I don’t remember much from that day but I do remember feelings and some words. I had one of my best friends come with me to the appointment and we were both just smiling and laughing after the appointment. A nurse in the elevator smiled at us and said ‘This must be your last appointment, congratulations!’ and it was so nice of her to say so. It was a big deal!
I was starting to realise that the only reason I was still in a good place was because of the people I was surrounded by. I got told how inspiring and how strong I was for sharing and simply going through this journey with such a positive attitude and I think it was only because I was extremely lucky to have a supportive social network. I was having well wishes from across the World and that came from the bravery of sharing my story.
However, I did also realise that I had started to find difficulty in relating to my peers and I felt the need to censor some of the things I would say. I didn’t want to burden my network with the heavy shit and I know… I do know… they wouldn’t have minded if I had. However, I also knew they were still invincible 30ish year olds who aren’t meant to be touched by something as sinister as Cancer and I wanted them to keep seeing life as they did. As a result, I decided to do some research and find people who were going through this too.
" I am utterly defeated, yet empowered"
March 12: Following surgery, I landed in Ontario for a Retreat. I am so thankful to have found a few organisations who I have made valuable connections with and one I would like to mention is Young Adults Cancer Canada (YACC). I attended a retreat with them in March where I stayed in a retreat centre in the middle of nowhere with 27 other young adults who are also living with cancer in some way. I got to share the real shit with them and felt so validated, enlightened and instantly accepted. It was then that I actually accepted that I had cancer, I had joined the best club that no one wants to join. I already know I have made strong friendships just from these 4 days.
May 7: My last radiation treatment. I had left the cancer centre feeling overwhelmed whilst also feeling numb and being in the weird time of Covid, I felt I couldn’t celebrate in a big fashion. I was so wrong! My journey home was filled with friends lining the streets with signs and gifts! I can’t say it enough but connection is my biggest advice. My strength was my own and I am damn proud of beating cancer but it was fuelled by the connections I had and the connections I made.
What Cancer taught me:
Most of my current relationships became stronger and I was given the opportunity to meet new and amazing people I would never have met had this not happened. I also gained perspective, learnt to create more boundaries and the importance of putting myself first. Cancer was a huge lesson in self-love, self-importance and positive selfishness.
If your life is ever derailed, just know that that doesn’t need to define you. Find those connections because I can promise you that you’re not alone. Realise that ‘being selfish’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Building boundaries within relationships is healthy and should be expected - people should earn the right to your story and you also don’t need to take their story on if it doesn’t add to your life. You don’t have to fake it til you make it - be honest with yourself, say no to the party if you just want to netflix. Learn what your values are and what feeds those values, those should be your priorities - fuck what society expects of you!
I have now come to peace with living in constant contradiction. I am utterly defeated yet empowered. I have almost no trust in my body yet I know I am brave. I feel angry at the pain cancer has caused me and my new friends yet I am thankful to have met so many incredible people. Once you can see the personal growth you’ve made through your terrible experience, it’s a little easier to start getting back on track.
I was a young and enthusiastic ‘ready-for-the-world’ 23-year-old, fresh out of uni with my 2.1 law degree. I was engaged and felt like I was unstoppable. I got married a few months after graduation and then…it all came crashing down.
My 3.5-year marriage was a complete nightmare and one that sucked all my zest for life. I had no self-worth and became a shadow of the person I truly am, was mentally abused to believe I was always the problem, distanced from friends and family, had to ask permission to visit my mum and tried to commit suicide at one point.
I’d often blank out that part of my life. It’s only been recently (6 years later) and after a lot of personal development that I’ve appreciated the saving grace from that time of my life. My passion for photography. I didn’t see it then but I had been perfecting the foundation of what would become my life’s passion.
During my marriage I taught myself how to photograph in-action shots on a borrowed manual camera – something not many people can do these days! After I got divorced I bought my own camera and things have soared since then. I’ve photographed fashion shows, film sets, BBC short series, portraits, created some amazing creative mad max styled shoots, even photographed abroad, been featured in articles, done lives and am creating a thriving business for myself.
I’ve rediscovered my self-worth
I’ve rediscovered my self-worth (something that I will never let go of again) and realised how much my childhood trauma of abandonment has a big role to play. Fear of abandonment can cause people like me to neglect ourselves and try to prove we’re loveable, wanted, are enough. As a result, we allow ourselves to be mistreated because we so want to be loved and are willing to settle for crumbs when really we deserve SO MUCH more!
I’m now walking in my values, knowing that my dreams, voice and opinions matters. That I matter. My advice to other women is:
To kick off our Womens Wisdom guest blog series we have the wonderful Amy from South Wales!
Here's what she has to say:
My hair began to thin around the time of my 21st birthday. Thinking I was dying it too much and using heat such as straighteners etc. I thought nothing of it. But as the days went on more and more hair started to fall out, it went for little bits on my pillow to waking up to clumps. Within about 4 weeks i lost 90% of my hair, it happened all so quick and I didn’t really have any explanations, I was left confused with what was happening to me. I went to the doctors 3 or 4 times and each time I left with the same answer, you have 'alopecia' no one knows how it is caused or triggered and theres nothing we can do to help it grow back. It’s unpredictable.
I felt lost. Looking in the mirror was such a hard task, I looked so different, I was bald. A bald GIRL. I couldn't get my head around it. I felt like a freak, I felt ashamed. I felt my life was over, how could I go about as I normally did? How could I achieve things with the way I felt? How could I afford human hair wigs? I felt like every door was closed for me and my anxiety and depression got in the way of almost everything.
It’s almost like I was given alopecia to help others going through the same thing.
I still have my down days, everyone does. But I feel completely different now, I have a fiancee who stuck with my through the whole transition, he kept me calm told me I was beautiful and kept me focused on the import things in life. He was such a big help. We have a beautiful daughter now who keeps me busy and makes me realise that there is more to life than hair. I feel more empowered that I am myself, I have helped loads of people by doing some work with BBC news on alopecia, working with BBC sesh doing some sketches about the perks of alopecia (bring a positive vibe to the subject). Loads of people have messaged me and I have been able to guide them in the right direction to products, help, advice pages etc. It’s almost like I was given alopecia to help others going through the same thing. Although I felt awful at first, I did adapt very quick, I didn’t really have a choice. I'm the type of person who tries to make the most out of every situation and count my blessings. I'm still alive, still breathing. I have a roof over my head and friends and family who love me. It could be worse right?
I faced so many challenges at first. From not going out for weeks because I couldn’t come to terms with what I looked like. Not being able to answer the door, not feeling confident enough to go swimming or the gym. Getting used to wearing a wig, doesn't seem like much but when its not your own hair it gets so annoying and can come out of place, it can also become really itchy and irritating. At the time of loosing my hair I was forced to take time of work as I worked with food and my hair was falling out every time I turned my head. That was a big challenge to give up work as I’ve always kept busy and liked earning my own income. It was challenging coming to terms with the fact I had no control over the situation. I like to be in control and know whats going on not having that, or any answers was so frustrating.
At first I hated myself and because I didn't have any answers I kept asking myself what did I do wrong? It was a constant battle in my head about what if I did this? or what if it was this that caused it? I was beating myself up all the time about something I couldn't control. I would walk off from a mirror and tell myself how ugly I was, how weird looking I was now. As time went on I sort of accepted the fact this is how I was going to look from now on, so I might as well embrace it. The moment I put my first picture on Facebook without a wig that was the moment I didn’t have to hide the fact I was bald. Everyone knew now so there was nothing to worry about, a bunch of opportunities came my way since that photo such as articles with the metro and daily mirror. I've made videos with BBC news and BBC sesh, and now writing this article to raise more awareness with Love Your Damn Self. I have my days where I feel down and I still can't fully accept I’m like this, but I try my best. I put on my makeup, choose a wig, find an outfit that makes me feel better or do other things to occupy myself/make myself feel better.
I'm so lucky that no one has ever expected anything from me. I know some people expect you to wear a wig if you're bald, especially if you’re female. But to be honest within today's society it is more acceptable to do whatever you please and express yourself in any way. I think if this was to happen to me years ago I would have had a more negative experience but in today's times people are more sensitive, understanding and have more knowledge of differences. As soon as I put my first bald selfie up I think everyone just expected me to continue being myself, and that felt good.
Life is too short to be worrying, especially about the things you have no control over.
My advice to other women is; do not waste your time trying to be something you're not! Embrace yourself as much as you can, even your flaws! Life is too short to be worrying, especially about the things you have no control over. Of course we all get upset over things, but it’s important to know when to just sit back breath and evaluate a situation realistically.
Never bottle up your feelings, it makes everything 100% worse, if you don't like talking to people, a diary could be another alternative. There are plenty of positivity groups, forums and other social media platforms that can help you with whatever you are facing. I also find a nice healthy diet, plenty of fresh air and a daily walk makes me feel better about myself. Looking after yourself is really important. But don't beat yourself up about going a little wild either, everything in moderation. It’s okay not to be okay and everyone needs to understand that. We are all human and in this together. Try your best at everything you do, have passion, be confident and don’t be afraid to give something new a go :)
Birthdays come around every year whether we want them to or not, and when you hit 25 they gradually start to bring you more and more pressure, a few more passing comments, ‘oh you are half way to 50’…’when are you going to settle down’. At 26, you’re closer to the big 3-0 than 20. Then roll on 27 and your 20s are looking more like a thing of the past. Laura had always quite liked the thought of being 26 years old. "Looking back, I remember being a wide eyed, worldly inexperienced 6-year-old and realising that, one day way off not so distant future, I would become 26 on the 26th July and I found this idea quite novel. I somehow knew back then that being 26 would rock and boy 6-year-old Laura wasn’t wrong." But now moving from 27 to 28 she is reflecting on yet another glorious year on this planet.
Amy turned 29 in May and has had a recent shift in her way if thinking about the dreaded 3-0…
‘Entering the last year of my 20's was an odd feeling, I felt like this was my last year to be young, to make mistakes and at 30 I should have my life together. Well this certainly isn't the case, purely just societies expectations making me feel this way. 20's, 30's, 40's...we are continuously learning and growing throughout life and there is no magic number that makes you an 'adult', no perfect moment where you sit there and think 'I'm here, everything is perfect and my life is complete'. Let’s face it, that would be boring, because then what would we do with ourselves. I am more excited than ever to turn 30, to get there and realise that when I wake up on my birthday I won't feel instantly different, or older, or incomplete, not having achieved the things I 'should have'. I will wake up, be grateful for another year and pour myself a large mimosa.
At the end of each calendar year we all tend to take the time to reflect, promise ourselves we will drop 5lbs, sign up for a gym membership we will stop using by February, NEVER DRINK AGAIN (until next time). We both like to do the same kind of thing each birthday. We feel like birthdays are a far more personal time to reflect on the past year, be grateful for what you have achieved and for the people in your lives. We like to set some goals and think about what our next year on this planet might look like.
Amy: My biggest life lesson this year would be learning the power of getting uncomfortable and leaning into uncertainty. I tend to need to know every little detail, ask anyone who knows me, I LOVE asking questions and digging deeper so I can fully understand things. In some respects, this is great, but when it comes to the big plan of 'life' there are too many unknowns. This initially didn't sit well with me, I needed to know where I would be, what I would be doing and when I would feel complete. I learnt very quickly that this doesn't exist, and instead of trying to find certainty in everything and everyone, I leant into uncertainty. It was unbelievably uncomfortable to let go, and I still have to teach myself everyday and remind myself that sometimes it's ok not to know how things will pan out, and that isn't a negative things, it is simply the beauty of life.
Laura: My biggest learning this year is that resting is just as an important part of the process (if not more important) as pushing forward and getting shit done. I started taking more time to listen to what my body was telling me and I hardly get ill now! I used to be one of those people who had tonsillitis every single month, sometimes multiple times. Now, I take days off when I feel I need to and it sets me up to be able to create my best work on the days when I feel good. You may think that means less work gets done but I have actually found the opposite! Warning: Its super important to find the balance and to know when you need to rest and when you are just procrastinating.
My goal for the next year is to help as many people as possible to achieve their own goals and to have massive impact on the lives of 30 people. I truly believe that having measurable goals is the way to achieve them. By saying 30 this gives me a number to work towards. And I can celebrate my wins along the way. This is something you might what to think about when goal setting.
A slice of Gratitude…
This year we feel so much gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunities that have arisen, the people we have met and the deep connections we have made.
We have met some wonderful beings and are grateful for everyone who has inspired us and helped us grow over the last 12 months.
We encourage you, no matter your age, to reflect on the past 12 months and make a list of everything you have achieved. Can’t think of anything; did you get a new job, a raise, keep your kids alive for another year, learn to bake a cake? It can be as big or as small as you like. Just start writing down all of your accomplishments may surprise you. It also feels pretty good to look at the list once you’re done.
Now you’ve reflected on your many achievements, think about the life you want to create for yourself in the coming 12 months and what steps can you take today to make it happen? Do you need to make more time to practice self care so you have the energy to do all the wonderful things you want to do? Take that next step right now. Want to learn how to drive? Research local instructors and get some prices. Want to travel? Open a separate savings account and look into where you want to go. Whatever your big goal is take a small step towards it right now. What are you waiting for?
Age is just a number and birthdays are going to come around no matter what so stop worrying about the things you can’t control and start living your life now.
It's the year 2020, the year that will go down in history as the world came to a stand still. Everyone was blessed with the time and space to pause (terrifying right?) and we realised a large chunk of our lives were being lived based on other people’s expectations of us. Just sat under a cloud of ‘should’s’- buying houses, getting married, having babies, you name it, we should have been doing it. After some long conversations, we (Amy and Laura) realised, we, and so many women alike, were bloody exhausted of living life this way!
We put our heads together to create something wonderful during the Covid-19 pandemic, not only a place to channel our own energy during the long lockdown days, but with the question in mind ‘Who can we help out of the other side?’. We have both taken the time to dive deeper within ourselves and have over come so much during this turbulent time, and before for that matter, teaching ourselves every day tools that we practice daily to make life a little less stressful. We are constantly working towards being the best versions of ourselves (Disclaimer: this is something we practice every single day, and we don’t always get it right). What you will start to see is that this is a one day at a time approach, small changes that we can all make to our daily routines that add up to a new found ownership over your own life.
When we first started creating, we asked each other
‘What do we have that we can give to others?’
It was quite simply, our mistakes.
We are on a mission to teach women, with limiting beliefs to move past those road blocks that are stopping you be the best version of you that you can be. We have spent years trying, failing and ultimately learning and we want to help you fast forward to the person you were born to be.
Our mission is to equip women with the skills and knowledge they need to fully believe in themselves every single day, emerging from our covid cocoons stronger and more resilient than ever!
To launch our mission, we are offering 4 free places on our 1:1 coaching programme...that's right completely 100% FREE (no catches, we just want to help you!) You can sign up now and find out more information on just how we can help you here. Remember this is a time of discomfort, so why not take that chance, seize the opportunity and find some comfort in your new community with us!
We have so much to come and we cannot wait to share it with you, if you don't feel ready for coaching, you can join our mailing list to get a fortnightly newsletter with useful tips and tricks that you can use everyday to Love Your Damn Self!