International Women’s Day 2019

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Prior to this the Socialist Party of America, United Kingdom’s Suffragists and Suffragettes, and further groups campaigned for women’s equality.

Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.

IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

Make IWD your day – everyday. 

(taken from www.internationalwomensday.com

What does it mean to be a woman?

I found myself wondering what this actually meant, it’s something I have never really given much thought to.

I mean I knew that some day I would get older and become a woman, I knew being a woman meant I would look different from the men in my life, I knew I would be going through different changes in my body in order to mature and get to the next stage of womanhood but the thing I had never questioned was what it meant in terms of my rights, my choices, my daily thoughts, how I present myself, how I raise my children, how I see the world, how other people view me.

To me being a woman means so many different things.

It means I physically look different to men, it means I cry more easily, I’m more sensitive, I have to fight harder to be heard, I have to fight harder for my rights, I have the privileged to make life and to bring life into the world, I have the responsibility to not only fight for what’s right for women but also for men.

To me being a woman also means being a human being, a human who fights for the rights of all human beings.

Being a feminist doesn’t just mean equal rights for women but also for men!

It’s about seeing everyone as equal and treating them as such.

It’s really something that we don’t often stop to think about and so I decided I would ask different women what their own personal opinion was on what it means to be a woman.

The past two weeks I have worked with some really amazing women who I have come to know through different areas of my life.

I was curious to know how they felt about the subject and what their thoughts were and so I asked them all the two same questions and this is what they all came up with.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Val @what_the_little_bears_eat (instagram)

What does it mean to you to be a woman?

“I’m not entirely sure if I’m honest as I’ve nothing to compare it to. Strength, compassion, honesty, and humility are traits I admire in anyone but I don’t believe that they necessarily belong solely to women.

I identify as a woman, mother, friend & daughter. I am also a counsellor by profession as well as personality. I like feminine and girly things but I’m still an advocate for women’s rights.

What would you tell women of future generations?

I would tell young girls today not to forget that they have options. A lot of women fought for your right to have these options. So never be afraid to take the opportunities that are available to you. 
Be confident in your own skin and with the person that you are. 
As I’m raising 2 boys I’m trying to instil in them the idea that women are just as good as they are and hopefully it will never even occur to them that there could be any difference between either of their capabilities.”

Penny @pennys.life (Instagram) Pennys Life-Blog (Facebook)

What does it mean to you to be a woman?

“Being born a woman brings me so much strength as well as a sense of duty. It’s a privilege to be a woman and experience the genetics engraved within me that I inherited from my beautiful mother.

As a strong woman my mother has instilled a lot of things within me.

To always look at the bigger picture, stay open minded, don’t judge what you don’t understand and most of all to always follow your heart, something I will instil into my children.

As a mother going through a marriage break up and raising two children on my own, it has brought me a great sense of belonging. I know that no matter what I’m enduring in life my beautiful children bring me peace, they are my haven and safety blanket.

Women today are cooks, carers, taxi drivers, workers, multitaskers, nieces, granddaughters, wives, girlfriends, daughters and sisters but we are also individuals and we must not let our identities diminish.

  • We can think for ourselves
  • We can speak for ourselves
  • We can be alone and still be happy for ourselves
  • We can be in a marriage/partnership yet still be an equal
  • We are strong
  • We are resilient
  • We are givers and providers
  • We are homemakers
  • We are the world

What would you tell women of future generations?

My only wish for my daughter and women of the future is for them to know that they are enough, they deserve the world. Never take anything less, always know your worth, be brave, ignore opinions, follow your heart and always stay true to yourself.”

Amanda @imamanda.ni (instagram) ImAmanda (Facebook) http://www.imamanda.co.uk (Blog)

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What does it mean to you to be a woman?

“My first thought when sitting down to write this piece was that being a woman is bloody
hard. Everyday we straddle the line between various objective traits which we consider
important in defining ourselves as “a woman”.

Are we being too strong or too weak? Caring too much or too little? Looking too attractive or not attractive enough?

I’d love to say I am immune to this downward spiral, but alas I too can fall into the abyss of trying to fit this, quite frankly, unobtainable definition of “a woman”. I could go on for pages about the trials and tribulations of being a female in today’s society and have every single woman nodding in agreement and every single man wondering if I was exaggerating, but in reality I am luckier than many women before me.

Yes, in some ways being a woman has got easier; there was a time not so long ago when I
wouldn’t have been able to vote, work, study or do many of the things I take for granted
today. Where my life would only have been deemed a success when I married and had
children; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

But bear in mind the difficulties faced by todays women. Continually seeking validation,
proving that they are not “just” women or fundamentally worth less than a man, dealing
with double standards, not to mention the, sometimes perceived, competition, with other
women. So while we may have come along way in the last 100 years we are still at a point
where there really is no definitive answer to what it means to be a woman.

I’ve realised that being a woman for me means I am recognised, supported and admired for who I am, and for my differences, whether that be physical or otherwise. I can choose to do whatever I want that makes me happy.

This realisation did not come easy, but at 37 years of age, to finally be at a point in my life where I know that I am in control and that my happiness is down to me, is extremely liberating.

Now don’t get me wrong I have a Pinterest board full of motivational quotes and more “could my life get any worse” memes than you’d probably deem healthy but in general I really can’t complain! (bear in mind I’m going through a divorce so life still sucks sometimes but that’s just one part of it!) but I have grown up in a society where we have been given the opportunity to stand up for ourselves, help ourselves and be independent.

I think about it this way; I am the boss of me, not just in relation to the normal everyday life and it’s necessary choices, but also in my wellbeing and physical and mental health. Today’s women have a plethora of resources, whether online, in print or in person, that makes being the best version of themselves possible. Many issues facing women in all walks of life are more openly discussed today; from postnatal depression to cancer to domestic violence.

As a woman I am not afraid I will be dismissed or not listened too, and that is a very powerful feeling. To even have a platform such as this is something past generations could only dream off.

What would you tell women of future generations?

I worry about our young girls growing up in an age where everything is documented on
social media, where it seems your worth is reflected in the number of likes a photo or post gets and children are bullied and trolled incessantly.

I think the reality is they grow up too soon and are faced with a reality that they are not yet emotionally ready to deal with. It is never-ending.

At a time when young women don’t even know what they are thinking how do they deal with being bombarded by conflicting, and sometimes inappropriate, information, photoshopped ideals and unrealistic aspirations everyday of their lives from morning to night?

And honestly I haven’t an answer, but then our job as women is not to fix the next
generation, our job is to prepare them as best we can, because who knows what they will
have to deal with in years to come.

I myself have a 7 year old daughter. And yes, I do worry about her, but I will not always be
here and as she grows it is my aim to offer a listening ear, and , should she ask for it, advice.

I’d love to say id been through everything and I can prepare her for everything this world will throw at her but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.
So while I watch her grow into a capable young lady and worry incessantly about how her
life will turn out I’ve thought of some things I’ve learned along the way. Some of these lessons have been tougher than others but are all equally as important in my eyes.

  • Stay optimistic, nothing good comes from a pity party and a negative attitude
  • People change, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse
  • You can’t control everything
  • Nobody has the answers
  • Not everyone likes you, but that doesn’t mean everybody hates you
  • Never regret something that once made you happy
  • If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, stop accepting crappy things
  • Just because you don’t look like someone you think is attractive doesn’t mean you aren’t
  • Flowers and Christmas tree lights are pretty and they look nothing like each other
  • One day, something or someone, will come along that sets your heart on fire. When it ends, you will want to die. That feeling will not last forever, let it hurt, let it go and move on
  • It’s ok to remove toxic people from your life
  • You don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself
  • No is a full sentence

Being a woman is hard, but it is also beautiful. “

Katie @kat.devlin (instagram) Love Kat (facebook) https://lovekat.co.uk (blog)

What does it mean to you to be a woman?

“As a 22 year old female living in the 21st century every day is not always smooth sailing.

We are quick to judge, criticise, and we are our own worst enemies because not only do we impose this on others but we also subject ourselves to this!

The rise of social media has had a lot of negative effects on females, with people portraying ‘perfect lives’, this has led to females trying to up their ‘Instagram Game’ (and we are all guilty of it, including myself).

Up until recently we were not showing the real us, real life and we were cheating the world as well as ourselves. This trend is starting to change. For the Better. People are starting to show both sides of themselves. The Good Life and The Real Life. This is allowing us to come back down to normality, to allow ourselves to find, respect and embrace our true self.

People are posting themselves working out in gym which is great as it might encourage other people to get active, but they are also showing the other side that everyone has belly rolls at certain angles which is helping to show that we should embrace every part of ourselves.

To me being a women, is the most amazing experience the world could have blessed me with. I have been brought up and raised by strong, inspirational women, been given the chance to have an education, the knowledge that I am loved and worthy of love.  I have been taught the difference between right and wrong and understand how to be kind to others and myself. 

I am growing up in  a world where thoughts and opinions around women are steadily improving and becoming how they should be! This is supported by movements such as #METOO and #HEFORSHE.

What would you tell women of future generations?

My advice to future females would be:

1. BE KIND, SUPPORTIVE AND ENCOURAGING TO OTHERS

2. LOVE YOURSELF ENTIRELY 

3. TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY YOU GET “

Ayrin @ayrin_armstrong (instagram) 

What does it mean to you to be a woman?

“It’s about loving ourselves and having the courage to be who we want to be not what the world is telling us we have to be just because we’re women.

What would you tell women of future generations?

As a mother and feminist I want our future women of the world to know that they have a choice. They can take shelter in the crowd that continues to treat women as inadequate or they can take action, believe in themselves and help empower other women by standing away from the crowd. “

I want to thank every single one of these beautiful and unique women who took the time to write what it means to them to be a woman!

I want all future women to read this and feel empowered, feel on top of the world and know that they can achieve anything they want!

What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than to celebrate local women.

Let’s always celebrate our brave, beautiful, powerful women around the world!

Happy International Women’s day today and everyday.

Elisabeth x

World Mental Health Day.

As someone who has suffered from a mental health illness, I know just how important this day is.

7 years ago when I was pregnant with Little Miss Chatterbox, I found my mental health started to deteriorate and things got very tough for me.

I had completely lost sense of who I was, I found no joy in the things I once loved and felt completely lost.

I was very lucky that once she was born I had so much love for her and along with her brother she became my everything.

I couldn’t love my children anymore if I tried but yet I wasn’t enjoying being a mum and was finding my everyday life unbearable.

On the outside, I had this perfect smile and acted like I was this “perfectly” happy mum who was loving every minute of life, but yet on the inside I was completely falling apart and felt hopeless and empty with no positive outlook on my future or anything in my life.

From a young age I was aware of how important our mental health is and what a huge impact it has on our daily lives and how we feel.

So once I became ill I was able to identify that I was unwell, but because I was supposed to be this “perfect” mum to my children I felt I couldn’t allow myself to be ill, I went on every day denying myself the help that I needed.

In my head all I kept thinking was that I didn’t have the time to be ill when I had two very young children who depended on me for everything.

I felt that I couldn’t let my family down, I couldn’t let anyone see I was “failing”.

I stopped taking care of myself and dedicated every minute to my children.

I was destroying myself and making myself worse by doing this.

No one had ever told me how important it is to not only look after my children but also myself in order to be the best mum I can be.

I always had the idea that to be a good mum I had to give 100% of myself at all times only to my children and I started believing I didn’t matter.

Over the years I have learnt that there is no such thing as perfection and it’s not something anyone should be trying to achieve.

Eventually with the help of a local charity called Support 2gether and the help of medication and counselling I was able to start putting the pieces back together and rebuilding my life.

I’m not ashamed to say that for me to get to where I am today I have to be on medication.

Would you deny someone with heart conditions or diabetes their medication?

Would you make fun of them and make them feel ashamed because of it?

So then why do people still stigmatise antidepressants and anxiety medication?

We all go through tough times in our lives and it’s completely normal to have bad days, but when you notice that things start to get out of control and you can no longer function like you used to then it’s time to seek help.

Talk to someone you feel comfortable with, it doesn’t have to be a family member.

In fact, most people find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know very well.

Don’t let these feelings consume you and bring you down.

There is help out there and you can get better if you seek out help.

Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means taking action in order to get better for yourself and your family.

It took me many years to get to where I am today and to be honest, I think my mental health is something that I will always have to work hard on to keep my mind healthy.

But just like anyone with a physical illness or condition who needs to keep on top of it to ensure their condition doesn’t deteriorate, so does someone who has suffered or does suffer from a mental health illness.

I think the biggest issue when it comes to our mental health is that too many people still judge others who suffer from mental health illnesses.

The key word here is illness!

If we make such a huge deal out of how we should be having good diets, exercising and making sure we are doing everything possible to keep our body healthy, then why is it there is so little emphasis on feeding our minds with positivity and the things we expose our minds to in order to keep our minds just as healthy as our bodies?

Our mental health is hugely important, so many people are still not aware of just how important it really is.

Even our bodies don’t function well when our minds are not healthy.

We as a society need to start making it a priority to educate everyone about their mental health, we all have one so why  do we still feel like we can’t talk about it.

Mental health isn’t just about people who are dealing with mental health illnesses, it’s also about empowering each and every one of us with the tools to know the signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses and how we can not only prevent them but also treat them.

It’s important that we are not ashamed to talk about our mental health, it’s crucial that we start educating people about mental health from a very young age.

We shouldn’t be afraid to speak to our children about mental health, prevention is better than cure.

There is absolutely no shame in having a mental illness, it really is no different than having a physical illness.

And yet far too many people are still being let down because of the stigma that is so awfully still attached to mental health.

There are too many people suffering when they could be getting the help they need, there are too many people who unfortunately see no way out of their despair.

Our mission needs to be to work together to shine a bright light on mental health to ensure that this is not the case.

 

There is so much help out there, take that first step and get in touch with someone who can help you get well again.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you need to chat, I’m not a professional but have been through a mental health illness and if I can be a listening ear then I’m more than happy to do so.

Never forget you’re not alone in life, there is always a way and always someone willing to help you.

Much love,

Elisabeth x

 

Mental health charities, groups and services

Mental Health Foundation
020 7803 1101
Improving the lives of those with mental health problems or learning difficulties.

Together
020 7780 7300
Supports people through mental health services.

The Centre for Mental Health
020 7827 8300
Working to improve the quality of life for people with mental health problems.

Depression Alliance
0845 123 2320
Provides information and support to those who are affected by depression via publications, supporter services and a network of self-help groups.

BACP Find a Therapist Directory
01455 883300
Through the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) you can find out more about counselling services in your area.

PANDAS Foundation
0843 28 98 401 (every day from 9am-8pm)
PANDAS Foundation vision is to support every individual with pre (antenatal), postnatal depression or postnatal psychosis in England, Wales and Scotland. We campaign to raise awareness and remove the stigma. We provide our PANDAS Help Line, Support Groups offer online advice to all and much more.

http://www.lifelinehelpline.info . 

0808 808 8000 (every day 24hrs a day)

https://www.facebook.com/s2charity/

Support 2gether is a charity that supports People Living with Ante/ Postnatal Depression – Tel: 0783 5040086
Address Omagh Community House 2 Drumragh Ave Omagh Co Tyrone BT78 1DP

General advice and support

Citizens Advice
Gives free confidential information and advice to help people sort out their money, legal, consumer and other problems.
Support for children and young people

Young Minds
020 7336 8445
Provides information and advice for anyone with concerns about the mental health of a child or young person.

Childline
0800 1111
Free, national helpline for children and young people in trouble or danger.

Nightline
Listening, support and information service run by students for students.
Other places you could go for support

Age Concern
0800 009966
Infoline on issues relating to older people.

Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
020 7837 7324
Provides information, support and referral services.

Refugee Council
020 7346 6700
The UK’s largest organisation working with refugees and asylum seekers.

Relate
0300 100 1234
Offers advice, relationship counselling, sex therapy, workshops, mediation, consultations and support.

Teacher Support Network
08000 562 561 
A 24/7 telephone support line which gives teachers access to professional coaches and counsellors 365 days a year. The network also campaigns for change within schools and education policy in order to improve the wellbeing, mental and physical health of teachers.

Anxiety UK
08444 775 774
Works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including 1:1 therapy.

Carers organisations

Carers UK
Carers UK is the voice of carers.  It improves their lives by providing information, advice, support and by campaigning for change.

 

There is so much help out there, take that first step and get in touch with someone who can help you get well again.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you need to chat, I’m not a professional but have been through a mental health illness and if I can be a listening ear then I’m more than happy to do so.

Never forget you’re not alone in life, there is always a way and always someone willing to help you.

Much love,

Elisabeth x

Life through a lens…

Over the summer I decided I would purchase a new camera.

I have always loved taking photos and over the years have owned different types of cameras.

Last Christmas I actually got given an instant camera by my other half.

I got given the Instax Mini 70, it’s a lovely camera to work and it’s quite light.

4488271_R_Z001A

I had been looking at this camera for a while as I like the idea of taking a picture and the picture printing out and thankfully he had got the hint.

I actually haven’t used that camera as much as I probably should be using it but we took some photos around Christmas time and the children each got photos taken on their birthdays with the camera as well which made for some really lovely vintage feel photos that are now hanging in my bedroom.

The only thing that makes me not use it as often is that the pictures aren’t as good quality as other cameras and I think this camera is more for taking fun pictures rather than really clear professional photos.

So then during the summer, I decided I really wanted to get more into photography and bought myself a DSLR camera.

I absolutely love my new camera and over the summer months everywhere we went with the children I had my camera with me.

I was able to capture some lovely moments.

My photos are nowhere near professional level of course but the moments I have captured are just magical to me and will always hold some amazing memories for me.

So I wanted to share some of the photos I took over the summer with all of you.

I’m hoping to keep practising now with my photography and in the future attend a course and learn more about taking great photos.

I hope you enjoy the little snippet of the photos I took over the summer months.

 

Please remember these are photos owned by myself and do not share them or copy them from my blog, please. logo-01

 

 

The 15 months that changed who I am.

In May 2017 I embarked on a very personal journey that I hoped would change my life for the better, but little did I know how much it would really change me and what a huge impact it would have on who I am now.

15 months ago I was suffering from some very severe anxiety, I was so lonely, I hated who I had become, I had absolutely no belief in myself at all and I was merely surviving.

I remember walking around as if I was completely disconnected from myself, I felt as if I was just floating above my body and holding onto a very thin thread.

I was waking up and wishing the day would just end, I would walk out of the house feeling so anxious that I often envisioned the worst would happen.

And was always ready for something bad to happen, I always thought I was more likely to have something bad happen to me than something good.

I’ll never forget all the times I was driving and thinking that my car would crash or someone would crash against me and I would feel like someone was standing on top of my chest like I was unable to breathe and had lost control of my thoughts and emotions.

One of the things that really stands out to me is the time I was in the cinema, which usually is quite a pleasant experience and something fun to do, but instead of being excited I remember this huge wave of anxiety coming over me and the awful thoughts starting to flow in.

I started imagining what if someone was to walk in right now and start shooting everyone?! I found myself looking all around me trying to see where all my exits were and planning in my own head what I would do if this were to happen.

Now that I’m in a better place and look back on that day I can think rationally and know how severe my anxiety was that it would invade my mind with such awful thoughts!

I used to get so nervous going out to places because there was so many people around me and would always think of the worst scenario and worry all the time that something would happen to me or my family.

I would feel sick every time my children were away from me, I would get so worried if Little Bear was 5 minutes late coming home on the bus.

The thoughts were completely taking over my life and stopping me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do.

And if I did push myself to do them then I would feel paralysed with fear and worry.

I came to the point where I thought I just can’t go on like this anymore.

It’s making me mentally and physically ill!

Thankfully I was able to get the help that I needed in the form of counselling.

As most of you may know I have been involved with the charity Support 2gether for quite a long time now, and it was through them that I was able to get the help I needed.

Support 2gether has their own counselling service which is offered free of charge to mothers suffering from antenatal and postnatal depression or anxiety, which often come together as a ‘lovely’ package.

To say this service has been a lifesaver is an understatement, I’m not sure I could have gone on much longer with the awful feelings I was having!

My counsellor truly helped me become the person that had been hidden under all the anxiety and everyday struggles.

I have never met such a wonderful, caring and passionate woman!

The thanks that I have given my counsellor will never be enough.

To know that someone took their time to help me and to make sure I was the best I could be not only for myself but also for my family is unbelievable and really restores your faith that there is such good people out there.

To say that it was all laughs and giggles would be a lie, it certainly was not all smooth sailing for 15 months, there were days I went in and felt completely helpless and broken, days were I shed many tears and days where I was challenged to think about my choices and what was going on inside me, which is not always an easy thing to do.

It was very tough at times but there was also laughter along the way, there was nurturing, care and compassion, all the things that for a long time I had been seeking.

She taught me how to be gentle on my self, how to nurture my own soul.

As a mother, you always think that your children need to get every little ounce of you , but it’s far from true, it’s so important that we learn that we need just as much love and care as we give out.

I learnt how to confront my thoughts and feelings, I learnt how to meet and greet them and think more rationally about them.

It’s not to say that everything in my life is so easy now and that in my head it’s all pink and fluffy thoughts because that would be wrong.

Of course, there are still days where I worry and days where I feel the anxiety creeping in, but the huge difference now is that I have learnt to take control of the feelings and thoughts rather than letting them take control of my life.

We always have a choice when it comes to our mind, sometimes it does take over and we lose control but I think once we learn to take control back then we can start dealing with it in a way that is better for us.

I will always encourage people to seek out counselling, even if you’re only there for a few months, it can make a huge change to your life!

I am now doing things that even a few months ago I would have been too scared to do, there is no way I would have been sitting here writing my personal thoughts and feeling for you to read.

Last month I went to my first ever social media event, I’m not gonna lie I definitely could feel my anxiety creeping in, mainly because I didn’t actually know anyone and went on my own, but I persevered through my feeling and just kept telling myself what’s the worst that can happen.

And I stayed the whole time and had an amazing time!

A few months ago I would have felt sick even at the thought of doing something like that, and now I’m slowly learning to take more risks and learning to enjoy the things I love again.

It’s all about taking your time, taking small steps at a time and doing what feels comfortable and right for you.

Thanks to my wonderful counsellor helping me to figure things out I have now come out the other side and can look forward to my future and all the great things that are waiting for me to discover.

I no longer feel I have to live in the darkness and have allowed myself to let the light back in.

I hope that by talking openly about my experience it will help other people who may find themselves in the same or similar circumstances to seek the help they need and start looking forward to a brighter future!

Elisabeth x