Inspire or destroy?

Last week I was lucky enough to get to listen to the inspirational Nick Barwick. Nick is a motivational speaker who came to a fostering meeting to share his experiences as a care leaver. His story is incredible, he has faced adversity, pain and suffering throughout his life but still found the strength and courage to achieve his dreams, he defied the odds and he overcame.

Nick is passionate about sharing his story, he wants the success stories of life to be shared. We need our children to have hope, that if they are struggling and finding life a struggle they can remember that where they are right now is not where they need to end. This is doubly important for all children within the looked after system, they especially need the reminder that there is Hope in this world.

I took an awful lot away with me after listening to Nick speak, but what has been twirling around in my head since I left the meeting was the impact of ‘words.’

Let me explain a little, as Nick was sharing his story he spoke about being told by some professional in his life that he would not achieve, academically, financially and emotionally, and how these words for a long time became a self fulfilling prophecy for him.

How the words spoken to him became the words he spoke to himself.

Words have power!

They can inspire but also they can destroy.

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Hearing Nick’s story just hit home how important our words are,

How as Mother’s, as fathers, as teachers, carers, our words have an impact on hearts.

How as a friend, a wife, a sister I need to use my words wisely.

How often have we let words spoken to us bury deep in our hearts?

How what may have been a passing comment has be able to consume our minds.

Someone else’s opinion become our truth.

I know I can look back in my life and raise my hand numerous times for when words spoken in hate became my reality.

“You won’t pass it.”

“I wouldn’t even bother’

“You are not good enough”

“Who would love you?”

How I let these lines of letters sink deep into my heart like an anchor dropped into the ocean, dropping slowing until they find a place to settle and hold, hold on tight.

How I  have allowed hurtful words to crawl under my skin until I believed them completely, burying under my skin into my blood to pump through my veins, straight to my heart.

Burrowing deep until I owed them as my truth.

Thankfully like Nick I had someone in my life who challenged me to question these words. To remind me that my future was mine to create.

That it was up to me to write my own story. 

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I’m still a work in progress, my story has many chapters left to write.

I’m still learning to throw away the words that hurt, to erase the words that are wrong and untrue.

To protect myself from words that do not inspire or encourage.

I’m creating my own vocabulary and as I do this I hope to create another for my children.

I want their story to be one of adventure, excitement and hope but what I want most of all is that the biggest chapter that they write will always be one filled with love.

I pray that story is one of knowing, knowing how loved they are. 

What defines you!

If you were to read about my past in script form you would be forgiven for thinking that this may have been a script for a television drama or more likely a soap opera.

It’s a story full of pain, loss and at times anger.

Yet it is my life and right now I am walking a journey which is laying it completely open and completely bare and its hard. It fact it’s blooming painful, yet in the midst of the tears of which there has been plenty I have actually found myself feeling a strength that is holding me all in place. In fact it must have the wire that has held me together through this life’s journey.

My faith in myself.

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I cannot go back and change the past. In fact I’m not sure I would ,as everything that has happened has formed me into the person I am right now and I actually rather like who I am.

We all have pathways to walk and as human beings we will make mistakes, we mess up and at times we completely screw up but its how we move forward that defines us. How we learn from experiences and how we grow.

 

My life may have been messy, but it has challenged me to see beyond the barriers. I love with all my heart, I believe in people with all my soul and most of all I have hope. Hope that with love and empathy this world can and will be a better place.

 

So if right now like me you are feeling scared and vulnerable keep pushing forward because you may not realise it, but these moments, these challenges may be the moments that define who you really are.

Countdown to 40

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I realised last night that in under a month I turn 40. This is a major milestone in my life but one I am so excited for.

Growing up I remember thinking 40 was really old, I mean it seemed that my mom was 32 forever so I was sure I would stay this way. Yet time has moved on and I have been slowly creeping towards this age.

I remember when I turned 30 I was really freaked by it all, I didn’t feel ready to be 30 years old I was uncomfortable and not happy in my own skin. Life wasn’t easy and I had just started to show signs of the illness that changed my life. I look back to those days when I was chasing after 4 children under 10 and teaching dance. I remember just not feeling complete as if I wasn’t living life to the full.

Fast forward the last ten years and my goodness a crazy amount has happened. I have walked through some of the darkest moments of my life. My heart has been broken, tore up into millions of pieces and then trodden on. I never imagined at 30 that I would have to bury a child let alone two. I would have never been able to comprehend surviving the loss of my daughter and my foster son. Never in a million years. Yet somehow I have survived, my heart may never be complete but it is learning to love on, learning to beat strongly again and I am learning to live life to the full again.

I know deep down that 40 isn’t really a special age. I mean I preach often about celebrating every day we have here, but still I am rather excited for the day.

This may sound big headed but I like who I see in the mirror now. I may not be a dance teacher or able to fit my bum into a size 12 but I truly love my body and I’m so grateful to it. It has given me four amazing girls, completely different, independent ,inspirational girls. It allows me to foster two truly awesome boys, each a blessing in their own special way. My body may be a little battle worn but it’s not been beaten and I am so thankful for this.

I look back to the person I was 10 years ago and I know I have been on a journey. I use the term “self discovery” loosely  as is the only way to get close to describing  the transformation I feel I have faced.

I love who I am (yes I may have said that before) but I seriously do. I love my emotional side, no more will I apologise for my random tears or unexpected hugs. I’m empathic and I care and this is something I am proud of now. No more calling myself soppy and pathetic, I actually rock.

I love my courage, I am more willing to put myself out into the danger zone, being vulnerable, feeling scared but still moving forward.

I love my brain, it’s ok that I am a little geeky at times, that sometimes the idea of a good book wins against a movie or a night out. That I appreciate my own company and yes at times I get lost in my own mind.

I love myself and I love my life.

As I head towards this birthday milestone I do so with so much gratitude.

Over the last years I have had people walk into my life that have blessed me in so many ways. Friends that love me for me, deep true friendships that can pick up after a time apart just where we left off. Friends I can laugh with, friends I have cried on. I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

I am so thankful for my family, my daughters and my sons each so unique and so beautiful. Getting to watch them grow and learn and experience life is such a wonder, such a gift. My Dad, my Step Mom, my inlaws, my aunts, uncles, cousins, relantionships that I truly value and people I truly love.

My husband, I am completely in love with this crazy man, after nearly 20 years of marriage I still get that flutter in my heart when he walks into a room. He makes me laugh, he drives me insane, but he truly is my soul mate.

I am so thankful that I miss my Livvy, because missing someone is the recognition of an amazing love, a truly unbroken bond. My girl and I will be together again one day, but until then I am going to try and live as she did, fully and with all my heart.

So the count down to 40 begins and I’m so excited. I’m so ready to celebrate the 40 years I have been here with all my family and friends. An evening full of laughter, music and hopefully a gorgeous outfit.

Yet 40 is only the really the beginning, the start of a new stage in life, one I hope will be full of love and laughter and the people that really make my life truly amazing, my family and friends, because with them and because of them I actually love myself more at 40 then I ever did.

 

40 looking good

My weekly plus size fashion wishlist

The new autumn fashion are hiting the stores and I am so excited.

I am also rather shocked at what styles have been catching my eye.

Is my style changing?

Who knows anyway here is my fashion wishlist.

My first want (need) is this beautiful dress from Voodoo Vixen.

The Joni is simply beautiful.

 

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My second choice is a coat, now coats and I don’t have a great relantionship. My long arms seem to leave many coats ill fitting, but this one from ASOS really caught my eye. The style is a vintage style with a modern twist, I love it.

 

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My third choice comes from the new Martine McCutcheon from Fashion World, to be fair I could have chosen anything from this range as I absolutely love it all but this dress is just pure perfection.

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My last but not least choice for this week are these adorable boots from Evans, they are so very cute, I think they would be perfect with my new found love of dresses.

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Seriously the autumn fashion that is hititng her ours stores is something to be excited about.

I think I need to hide my bank card.

 

Style XL 2015, we came, we saw and we rocked it.

Last weekend was Style XL 2015 a plus size fashion event held in my local city of Birmingham.

Style XL is the brainchild of the wonderful Leah from http://www.leahxl.com.

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Leah is genuinely one of the nicest woman I know and someone who I owe a lot of my new found confidence too. It was only last year that I walked my first catwalk at Style XL 2014. This was thanks to the encouragement and support from Leah, this lady rocks.  Also a big shout out to her beautiful fiancée Clare who is truly lovely.

Seriously though I remember how much I shook with fear back there in 2014 I’m surprised I made it onto the stage.

Anyway back to Style XL 2015 how do I describe this weekend, two words “totally inspiring”.

The collaboration of plus size fashion brands and confidence building workshops created an awesome event.

Women from around the UK coming together to attend a fashion event where the size on your label is irrelevant.

Fashion brands showcasing the very best of plus size fashion proving that style comes in all sizes.

I had a blast.

I was excited to be booked to walk for the awesome Apples and Pears Clothing , Monroe Knows and Curvy Kate but on the day I actually also walked for Topsy Curvy and Lady Voluptuous too.

Five brands ooh get me.

This year was so different for me, although I was still rather shaky the woman who walked onto that catwalk was very different to the one from last year. I actually relished in the attention. I rocked my curves ha ha get me.

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Seriously Style XL was a great success.

Personally though for me Style XL wasn’t about the clothes (sorry brands). It was being surrounded by beautiful inspiring women.

Women that over the last year have become dear friends.

Woman working hard to empower others.

Building people up, encouraging, supporting.

My challenge  to myself this year was to turn the virtual hugs into real ones.

I am so confident behind my keyboard but this year I wanted to find that confidence in real life.

I think achieved this.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some awesome new ones.

I pushed all my boundaries, I introduced myself to people and I wore underwear on a catwalk ( don’t panic dad I’ve hidden the photos).

I achieved more than I could possibly have imagined and yes I may be having a little body wobble but I can see how far I have come.

Thank you Leah for having faith in me.

Thank you to the brands for allowing me to showcase your beautiful clothes.

I  want to end this post saying this, life is to short to wait to wear the clothes you want. Wear them now and celebrate who you are. Size is a number on a label don’t let it dictate how you live your life.

You are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you different xxx

A body wobble 

This weekend I modelled at an amazing plus size fashion event Style XL. Whilst I had an amazing time I have come to realise that I’m not as far down the body confidence road that I wished I was.

For those that don’t know my journey I will briefly recap. 

I cannot say I’ve ever been a confident woman even back in the days when I was a size 8 dancer I would hide under layers of shapeless clothes. So when my illness left me carrying extra weight the clothes just got bigger and I just hid away more.

I would hide from the camera constantly. Always wanting to be the photographer never the photographed. 

Then Olivia died, and I found myself searching through all my photo albums for photos of myself and my beautiful girl. In the whole of her short nine years I had only taken three photos of us together, 3.

This realisation alone should have shocked me into taking more photos with my girls but it didn’t. In fact I couldn’t, you see I didn’t recognise myself anymore. The loss of Olivia left me struggling with who I was.

 I was lost in the grief.

Then about 4 years ago I came across the plus size community. Beautiful woman celebrating who they are. Loving their bodies as they were, not how society deems they should be. It was this amazing community and these inspiring woman who slowly started to allow me to piece my confidence together. 

I started taking family photos, making sure I was part of the memories.

Started taking little steps forward, dropping the layers after layers of shapeless clothes.

Skinny jeans, camisoles and even the occasional dress.

This journey wasn’t easy, I can promise you I deleted more photos than I shared. Yet slowly I began to like the woman I saw in the mirror. 

I began to recognise that she wasn’t all bad.

This time last year I walked on my first catwalk at Style XL and yes whilst I did shake on every step and barely spoke more than a few words it was a major personal achievement.

This year I was asked back again and this weekend I walked for 5 brands, how amazing is this. 

Yet like any journey in life sometimes we do lose our way a little and for me today I got lost. 

Somewhere I took a road back into the darkness. 

In fact I have completed fallen apart. 

Looking at the photos of the weekend event I couldn’t see how far I have come, just the woman I have self loathed for a long time.

Now I’m exhausted and I know that tiredness is one evil enemy , I mean how can one love themselves when they can barely lift their head off a pillow.

I’m in pain too and this always opens the door for the past self hate to walk right in.

So yes I’m struggling.

But as I shared this within the Plus size community I have been lifted.

Woman reminding me of all I have achieved this weekend.

Brands thanking me for wearing their clothes.

So in my darkness the light has began to shine a little again.

I’m starting to realise beyond the modelling I achieved a great deal this weekend. I may have not reached the place of body confidence I so desire but I have found myself a lot more.

I spent a wonderful weekend with woman I actually spoke to. I introduced myself more and gave out the hugs I’ve wanted to to give out for such a long time. For me this is massive and it’s something I need to see for the achievement it is.

Whilst it may take me longer to feel happy with my body I am finally happy with who I am inside.

This weekend I have laughed until I’ve cried.

I’ve chatted, met new people and caught up with the old.

But mostly I’ve been inspired.

Inspired to continue back down the road of body confidence. To accept that sometimes even the greatest journeys have setbacks but moving forward is the only thing I can do. I cannot go back to the lost woman I was, in fact I’m quite sure the amazing woman I get to call my friends wouldn’t allow me.

So now I’m just going to spent the next few days resting and hopefully as the tiredness and the pain eases I will finally be able to see all that I achieved this weekend. 

But before I do head back under the duvet I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you to the amazing brands that allowed me to wear their clothes this weekend and thank you to the beautiful woman of the plus size community, I don’t think you realise how much you all mean to me.

Money does not define people’s worth.

Honestly what is with this world and labels.

I’ve have just read someone spouting off about the amount of “so called” writers popping up. The intention of the article was that you can’t call yourself a writer unless you have been published.

Why the hell not? 

If I write a piece of poetry am I not a poet unless that piece is published?

If I dance a dance am I not a dancer?

Why does payment become part of a description.

Some of the greatest composers never made a penny off their compositions.

This is not the first time I have read this kind of opinion.

I’ve heard it from the modelling world as a model should again not call herself a model unless paid to do so.

Now I’m not trying to take away from the professionals but In life but do we need to be thinking this way?

Should I be describing myself as a published writer, a published poet.

Ermm NO

I was a writer when I was 7 years old when I handed my grandad book after book of my stories. When I made him sit through so many of my poems, when I danced around the house to songs I had written, I was a writer.

Seeing my name in print did not define me.

The act of allowing words out of my mind onto paper or through my keyboard did.

I am also a model, I wear clothes to show another.

I may not be earning the supermodel wages but heck that doesn’t take away from my description.

A lot of my friends are carers but I can promise you that they don’t see a penny from it. Does that devalue the hours of loving, supporting and bum changing they do.

When my daughter draw her first picture she was an artist. The fact that this picture was not going to hang in any gallery mattered nothing to me. To me that picture was priceless.

Please let’s not use money to define people’s worth. 

Let the world be full of singers, poets, composers, writers, dancers and so many more.

The definition of another should not define you.

If it does then I’m sorry because that says more about you than them.

Your definition should be whoever you want it to be.

You are the author of your own story.

The artist of your own design.