Carole Ann Rice has 30 years’ experience in PR, TV, radio and print media and is the author of two career-change books. Drawing on her own success, Carole Ann uses humour, compassion and inspiration to make the process easy and fun for her clients. So as Spring arrives, I am delighted to share my interview with her including some thoughts on why our New Year Resolutions might have gone a bit wrong.

Tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.

I was brought up in a council house in Northolt, dad had served in the Navy in WW2 – we always had great music on, dad bought a record shop and we got out of housing estate hell. I was a punk in 1976 (one of first in West London) and I went to art college when I was 17.

What was your first job?

I have waitressed, done soul- annihilating administration work on industrial estates in Perivale, was an assistant puppeteer on a TV programme, had my own kid’s network cookery show in the 80s (2 series) which I produced and presented and have been a self-taught journalist for 30 years

What do you do now?

I am a life coach, columnist, author and I have a coaching academy where I train people to become world class life coaches

What would you say to someone who is despairing that they did not stick to their New Year resolutions?

It is still possible to make positive changes. When setting a goal, make it achievable, don’t set the bar too high, be realistic and take small steps. Consistency is key to success and be patient. Don’t expect overnight results.

What is visualisation and how can women harness it to improve their lives positively?

Having a clear idea of what you want is all. If you have clarity you don’t need therapy. Energy follows intention. Create a vision board or day dream regularly. Deep down we all know what we want but we don’t trust themselves.

What is peer support and how can it help women in their lives?

You need people who really “get” you. Find your tribe. Network or create online groups of likeminded people.

Who has supported you at your most challenging times?

My female business networks – Fabulous-Women.co.uk and my coaches

If you could recommend ONE book to a woman, what would it be and why?

Women Who Run With The Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes – just read the introduction and you will see why.

Carol Ann’s website – https://www.realcoachingco.com/

clairejustine

ethannevelyn.com

Is the life after abuse? Abuse affects so many people and is all too often suffered in silence and carries a stigma which should not be the victim’s to bear. I am grateful to Laura who shares her story of leaving abuse behind and going on to help others move forwards positively through her writing.

Life After Abuse

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years

I grew up in Memphis, TN. I had a great childhood, thanks to an amazing mother. I was an only child so that made getting what I wanted pretty easy. My mother would make miracles happen. My teen years were as normal as anyone else. I was in the band. I had great friends that I still have to this day. When I turned 17-years old, my mother gave birth to a very hyper little boy. He’s 22 now and still hyper!

What was your first job?

My first job was working for an amusement park here in Memphis called Libertyland. You would think working for an amusement park would be fun but I hated it! You’re a teenager at an amusement park. You don’t want to work because you want to have fun. But I learned a lot working that job. It taught me exactly how much to take from an employer.

When did you experience domestic violence and how did it make you feel?

Domestic violence entered my life at the age of 24. I met him in front of my house. That was the day I met the devil. I lost a huge part of me. I lost my fearlessness, my self-esteem, my sanity. I’m 39-years-old now and I’m still working on getting it all back. There are still things I can’t quite deal with. I don’t like people in my personal space. I don’t let anyone touch my neck. Ever! As I said before, I’m still working through some things.

Who supported you?

The most support I received was from my mother. That is after she found out. I’d pretty much left friends alone, but one friend stuck it out with me no matter what. She’d saved me a million and one times.

What happened next?

Our final fight almost ended my life. When he was arrested, I vowed to never go back to him. He was in jail no more than a week before he was released. He stalked me until he went back to jail for an unrelated crime. Over the course of the past 10 years, he has been in and out of jail for multiple crimes. Unfortunately, I still hear from him.

Tell us about your writing

I started writing in my journals during the relationship. I needed some type of outlet. I turned my journals into my first book in 2011. I wanted my story to help or save anyone who has dealt with abuse. My ideal reader is someone who’s been abused or knows someone who is. I want that reader to come away with more knowledge of domestic violence, PTSD, and depression. I also want them to see what a true abusive relationship is like. The good and bad times. Because not every moment is awful. Some are wonderful. And that’s why we stay because we think the bad times are over, when he/she is in a good mood.

If you could recommend a book to a woman, what would it be?

I highly recommend books by the author Deidra D.S. Green. She is a great story teller. Her series Woman at the Top of the Stairs tells the story of domestic violence.

Do you have any words of wisdom for a person experiencing abuse?

I understand to tell someone to get out is easier said than done. But think of it this way, if you were in a robbery and the thief held a gun to your head would you beg for your life? In my opinion that’s what abuse is like. Every day you’re begging them to spare your life. No one should live like that. I have a mantra that I use in every aspect of my life. It’s to remind me that I made the right choice. “There is life after abuse.”

My final words are to love yourself. Self-love is the most important thing. As my mother says, “You don’t hurt what you love.”

I think the more we talk about the fact that abuse exists the more people will find the strength to seek help and to escape. I am thankful to Laura for sharing so openly and encouraging us to believe that there is life after abuse.

 

Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.

Life After Abuse

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

Winnettes
School Runs and Shopping Trolleys

Mumzilla

 

ethannevelyn.com
clairejustine

Doing business differently can seem challenging when so many “experts” want to show you that it can only be done one way. Today, I am delighted to share an interview with Kerry Flanagan a fascinating woman who can also teach us a lot about working to our own individual strengths and living our lives our way.

Please describe your childhood and teenage years

I am the second eldest in a family with four children. My parents were both teachers and were dedicated to supporting us through any extra curricular activity we wanted to pursue. Most weekends were spent travelling half the country for cross country running events or track and field in the summer. They always encouraged us to follow our passions.

I was a very shy child in my younger years, lacking in confidence much of the time. It was often easier for me to hide quietly behind the commotions in a large family, rather than to take the main stage. Anything creative such as drawing and painting was where I felt at ease. I also had a great affection for animals and had dreams of one day being a vet but with not being in the slightest bit academic at school this wasn’t to be. Like so many children I struggled at exams and was disengaged with anything scientific or mathematical. I did manage to persuade my parents to get us some kittens though!

I had a very happy childhood with holidays camping in France and Wales and trips to stay with family in Cornwall – still a place I love to visit with my own children now. My grandparents lived in London and we would take it in turns to go and visit for the occasional weekend. It was a real treat being taken to see all of the sites but I do remember being homesick quite often!

What was your first job/career

I graduated from university with a degree in graphic design and was fortunate enough to get a job straight away at a large branding consultancy in London. Here I worked for some big clients with big budgets and tight deadlines. It was a fast pace of life and I gained a huge amount of experience in the corporate world. This set me in good stead when setting up my own agency which I did 6 years later.

What gave you the confidence to do things differently in life and business?

My husband has always had his own business and I’ve learnt such a lot from his approach of not being afraid to take risks. Sure we’ve had lots of challenges along the way but if things don’t go to plan, I watched him quickly accepting situations and learning from the experience. This gave me great confidence to follow in his footsteps and join him in the business, which I did in 2011.

We are part of the Entrepreneurs Institute http://entrepreneursinstitute.com/home/ which has taught us to work to our own individual strengths and personalities. We are not meant to be good at every aspect of business and as soon as I understood this, I stopped giving myself a hard time that I couldn’t do numbers, or working on processes wears me out! We now get the right people in for the job and it’s transformed the way we work.

 

Tell us more about what your business does

My husband and I provide print to order merchandise for influencers who want to play a bigger game in the world with our company https://www.tshirtify.com. Our clients tend to be creative types such as successful artists and musicians who have built a business based on their passion or talent. They have often got stuck running that business and are not able to spend their time doing what they love anymore.

With tried and tested services from our own online Tshirt store, we’re able to take the hassle out of running e-commerce businesses for our clients. We give them back time, revenue and help them grow their businesses and identities. For example, one of our clients is an artist who was so busy answering customer phone calls and emails that he only had one day a week to create his illustrations. Since working with us he now has four days back of his week to be creative and engage more with his fans. This has resulted in doubled sales over the recent festive period compared to that of the previous year. He’s also now able to have a bigger impact in the world by using much more sustainable products and supporting the Global Giving Initiative Buy1 Give1 (B1G1) with every sale https://www.b1g1.com.

Who has supported you as you developed your business?

My husband has been a tremendous support in everything I do. We run our businesses together and I’m so grateful to him for sharing the big decisions and creating a business we are truly proud of together.

Our families have also been fantastic – they help out with child care, especially when we’ve needed to travel for business. Our parents are such an inspiration for my son and daughter, they are so lucky to have four wonderful grandparents that are such positive role models in their lives.

My children are the reason I get up every morning and my inspiration for never giving up. I want to show them that as long as they have their purpose, they can achieve whatever they want in life. They come with us for business conferences when possible and we’ve recently returned from South Africa with the Entrepreneurs Institute. They got to see all sorts of wildlife and visit children in a local school and witness the little that they have in material terms.

How do you juggle business and family time?

When my children were younger I used to work every hour I had around their sleeps and play groups but this wasn’t the most productive way of working and would often lead to burn out. Now the children are at school it’s got easier to work to a routine but it is still challenging to fit everything in. I’ve had to learn to that being ‘busy’ isn’t a good thing and structuring my days to work by energies makes this a lot easier. This has come through our learnings with the the Entrepreneurs Institute and is based on the ancient Chinese I-Ching system. Mondays are numbers day, Tuesdays are for bigger vision work, Wednesdays are creative day, Thursdays for connections and Fridays are time to catch up with the team and clients.

Weekends are now for family time and we try and do some sort of a family adventure on a Sunday. We also involve the children in planning out our future by creating a family adventure board. So far my daughter has been pony riding and son has been rock climbing this year.

Time as a couple is very important to us too and we’ve recently starting using a babysitter once a month who is brilliant. We’ve never wanted to burden our parents with having the children at the weekends as they help us out so much during the week, which meant it was a rare occasion to leave the house together on an evening! It feels great to have that flexibility to be able to go to out for a meal or to the cinema when we want now. Watching a movie is definitely the one type of night out I missed the most – something you never get to do when having young children!

What does it mean to be “rich” in life?

To be ‘rich’ in life for me is to have the freedom to travel and experience new things as often as possible. Of course money can allow you that freedom but I strive only to have enough to live a comfortable life. What’s more important is setting up our roles in the business so that we can work from wherever we want in the world. My children are only just starting out at school, so we’re restricted by holidays at the moment but I’d love to be able to take each school break off with them and travel somewhere new.

How are you changing the world and how would you like to in the future?

We are proud to be partners with Global Giving Initiative Buy1 Give (B1G1) https://www.b1g1.com With each t-shirt that rolls off the press, we contribute an essential education pack for children in Cambodia. This giving back is so meaningful for us as it not only does good in the world, but creates a strong sense of connection for our team, clients and their customers. Last year we gave over 120,000 impacts to great projects in this way and our target in 2018 is to reach over 500,000. Our big purpose is Quality Education and we’re currently working on an enterprise package to deliver into schools in UK. I would love to take this concept to third world countries where youths wouldn’t otherwise have access to business education.

If you could give one tip to a woman who wants to do things differently, what would it be?

Put your intentions down on paper. At the start of each year I write my 12 month vision for where I want to be with the business, family and personal achievements and it’s amazing what comes true once you’ve set the intent!

If you could recommend one book to a woman what would it be and why?

Meaningful – The Story of Ideas That Fly by Bernadette Jiwa. Although not specifically for women this book is for anyone with their own business, trying to put meaning into what they’re doing and to connect to their audience. Bernadette has a memorable way with words and has taught me to fall in love with our customers and not our products.

If you could recommend one website to a woman what would it be and why?

http://www.selfishmother.com has to be my favourite blog site for women facing the everyday struggles of having a family. It’s raw and real and so often features topics that hit the nail right on the head. I‘m sure thousands, if not millions of other women can relate to these stories like I do. They also do brilliant merchandise!

 

Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

Doing Business Differently

 

clairejustine
Twin Mummy and Daddy

My own mum died of Ovarian cancer so I was very keen to feature Helen from Sew Helen who is using her skills to develop a business and also to help charity following the loss of her beloved mom. We all have our own ways of handling grief but it is interesting how many of us rethink our own lives following loss and do more good in the world realising that life really is short.

 

 

 

Can you tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years?

 

I am really lucky to have had a lovely childhood and uneventful teenage years.  Although I didn’t think about it at the time, looking back makes me appreciate how fortunate we were.

 

I lived with Mom, Dad and my older brother by two years and although we didn’t have much I had some lovely friends and a small close family. Memories from Christmas and birthdays were of handmade gifts and one year Dad made my brother & I wooden string puppets and Mom made the matching outfits – we still have these now over 40 years later.

 

I left school and went to sixth form to study A levels although at that time I still didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career.

 

What career did you pursue and why?

 

When I left college, I started work as a Veterinary Nurse. Although I loved the job I knew this wouldn’t be a long term career. By chance a lady I worked with mentioned a new course in Birmingham awaiting validation for direct entry Midwifery. As soon as I heard about this I knew this would be my chosen career. I had never wanted to be a General Nurse and Iwas looking forward to working with healthy women going through a normal physiological event.

 

I undertook my training and qualified as a Registered Midwife in 1993. My career has evolved from normal antenatal, intrapartum & postnatal care to high risk pregnancies and for the past 15 years I have been supporting & caring for families when a difference has been found with their baby. I also perform detailed fetal cardiac ultrasound scans in my own clinics and alongside Paediatric Cardiologists – I am still amazed at the detail we can obtain on little babies hearts whilst still in the womb.

 

How did you learn to sew?

 

I have grown up sewing and worked alongside Mom as a little girl. She worked from home taking in dressmaking orders and so it was only natural that I also made clothes for my teddies and dolls. Over the years, and with Mom’s guidance, I made my own clothes and soft furnishings for my home and have continued sewing most of my life – 50 years in March! I have tried most forms of textile art and recently returned to embroidery and applique.

 

What health issues have you had to cope with?

 

I have two boys, born in 2004 & 2008, and my health had always been excellent until 2011 when I felt some lumps in my neck. After a visit to the GP and blood tests I was diagnosed with Auto-immune Thyroiditis & nodules in my Thyroid gland – a fairly common hormone-based condition for women of a certain age! After a year of monitoring and blood tests the nodules had changed slightly and I asked to be referred to an Endocrinologist as literature I had read stated that any nodules should be biopsied. Four biopsies later (2 failed) I had a result that gave a 10% chance of Thyroid Cancer.

 

My treatment included unilateral thyroidectomy on 8.10.12 which confirmed Thyroid Cancer, 2 weeks later I had the rest of my thyroid gland removed and underwent Radioactive Iodine treatment to destroy any remaining cells at the beginning of December 2012. I started Thyroxine medication after the radiation treatment and will remain on this drug for the rest of my life.

 

I am now 5 years clear of cancer and it took a long time to get my Thyroxin levels right – I have probably only felt well for the last year and a half.

 

Please tell us about the loss of your mum and her legacy?

 

Health issues aside, I was content with my life until February 2015 when my Mom had a severe bout of abdominal pain & vomiting and attended Accident and Emergency  – to our shock she was diagnosed with ascites (fluid in her abdomen), bowel obstruction & after a CT scan also an enlarged ovary. Fortunately, on this occasion the bowel obstruction cleared and she didn’t require surgery. However, from my medical background I knew this wasn’t a good prognosis.

 

A couple of weeks later she met the Consultant Oncologist and following a Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting Mom was told that she had advanced Ovarian Cancer. It had spread throughout her abdomen and surgery was not an option. She was offered Chemotherapy which may have prolonged her life for a short while, but she decided straight away that she didn’t want to spend her remaining time by being unwell from treatment. Mom also had the sad memories of nursing her own mom with the same condition 50 years earlier.

 

66 days later, on 4th May 2015, Mom died peacefully at home with Dad, my brother and I at her side.

 

Having always sewn, and after making remembrance pictures for some close friends shortly after Mom had died, I started thinking how I could use my sewing skills to create a small business in memory of Mom and at the same time raise money and awareness around Ovarian Cancer.

 

Just Sew Helen was created with the underlying principle to raise awareness of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer and to make donations to charity from my sales.

Describe your business

 

I design, create and sell textile art incorporating applique, hand embroidery and sewing.

 

Most of my items are remembrance gifts and over time my work has evolved to include Baby Loss gifts. I also make keepsakes such as cushions & pictures to preserve children’s drawings. I love doing all types of products and am also very happy to receive custom orders.

 

I had a massive learning curve researching handcrafted business development, online selling, book keeping, distance selling regulations, web design and marketing. I continue to work as a Midwife and am developing the business for the time when I can retire from the NHS.

 

I currently sell on Etsy & via my own website and promote my products on social media including Twitter, Instagram and to a lesser degree, Facebook.

 

My business is evolving and the most popular items I make are Baby Loss gifts & I have lots of plans to expand the Angel Baby range. I’m keen to to create items from treasured fabrics such as clothing or blankets and would love to design and make baby loss burial gowns suitable for little ones born too early.

 

I am slowly developing my blog to include the topics on Women’s Health, Pregnancy & Loss, Bereavement, Textiles & Sewing and a Handcrafted Business.

 

 

Do you support charity and if so which ones and how?

 

I have chosen to make donations to Target Ovarian Cancer – a UK charity working to improve early diagnosis, research and support to women with Ovarian Cancer

 

I made the decision early on that I would make a donation to the charity each time I made a sale, from every platform I sell on. My husband also does sponsored events and donates to the same charity.

 

Recently, I have been accepted by the charity to undertake information reviews and plan to contact the other main charities for women’s cancers to offer my services.

 

Using social media, I have an ideal target audience to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer as the majority of users in the handcrafting community are women.

 

 

If you could give one tip to someone who is experiencing grief, what  would it be?

 

There is no time limit nor right way to grieving. It is individual but, over time, if is affecting how you function on a day to day basis seek help from professionals.

If you could give one bit of business advice to a woman what would it be and why?

 

If you have an idea just do it and don’t put it off. It is so true that life can be short and there is nothing to lose if you do your research before investing a lot of time or money.

 

Google is a great tool and there are many online forums that can help with setting up a small business.

 

I work part time and one day would like to leave the NHS and continue my own business – it has suited me to take it slowly and I have learnt so much about web design, distance selling regulations, social media, postage & customer service.

 

How would you encourage a woman to experiment with creativity?

 

I would encourage a woman to choose an art that they love and again, Google and YouTube are excellent resources for tutorials. When they have mastered the basic techniques they can then develop their own unique style.

 

If you could recommend one book to a woman what would it be and why?

 

Marti – A Coward’s Chronicles

 

I found this a hard question as, although I read a lot, I don’t currently read many books. However, this book has stayed with me for many years and occasionally comes to the forefront of my mind.

 

This book is inspiring about a woman who survived a difficult childhood, her career and her battle with cancer. She tells her story with humour and strength and a positive outlook right up until she lost her battle with cancer.

 

If you could recommend one website apart from your own to a woman what would it be and why?

 

I recommend the website https://whileshenaps.com by Abby Glassenberg

 

I came across this website from a sewing point of view, but it interested me as Abby doesn’t just focus on the craft side. I named and designed my business/website to be sewing based but not too specific as I envisaged changes as things evolved. I was concerned that my site wasn’t focused enough but didn’t want just another sewing blog. Seeing Abby’s site has given me the confidence to make my site exactly what I want – which is eclectic incorporating sewing, business, bereavement and in particular women’s health.

 

When I read about setting up a blog all the information points to focusing on one niche but there is no reason why you can’t make your business exactly what you want and Abby achieves this on her website.

 

 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

 

It has taken me a long time (45 years) to be less self-conscious & not worry about what others may think about what I’m doing – it doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are honest and respectful and believe in yourself.

 

Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

Sewing In A Very Good Cause

 

 

 

School Runs and Shopping Trolleys
Cuddle Fairy
Run Jump Scrap

Struggling as a mum is something many of us experience when the whole parenting deal does not quite live up to our rose-tinted expectations. The best mums in my opinion are those who are honest about their thoughts and feelings and then go on to help others. One such woman is Sarah from MummyKind a website about the realities of mothering.

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.
I was born up in Yorkshire, though moved down south when I was about 5 and very quickly lost my Yorkshire accent! My childhood wasn’t the best and neither were my teenage years – I battled with depression from a young age and my family situation was far from ideal, leading me to leave home at 16, but it’s a good job I did because that led me to meet my future husband!
What was your first job/career?
When I was 14 I worked as an office cleaner for a friend’s dad! Oh what a glamorous life I used to lead. I’ve only done part-time work alongside university!
Tell us about becoming a mum and how you feel you have handled that life change?
I always wanted a baby and thought I wouldn’t be able to have one, but that isn’t the case and having one completely put me off ever having another! Becoming a mum was difficult, I hated my pregnancy and suffered PND and anxiety for months afterwards, but now I’ve managed to find my groove and just try to enjoy the good parts (it’s not so easy to enjoy it when your child screams 24/7)
What are you spending your time doing these days?
I’m at university full time while I’m training to become a barrister, and I’m working part-time to help pay for childcare! When I have free time I like to blog or volunteer when I can
What was the reason you started to blog?
The first blogpost I wrote was on my someonecallsmemummy blog, a letter to my 8 week old baby as she was sleeping next to me. I think I just needed an outlet for the emotions I was going through at the time. It was all so overwhelming!
How does blogging help you when you are struggling as a mum?
Even though it’s baby-related, it doesn’t always feel like it. It feels like it’s something fun, something for me to do and it reminds me that I’m a human when I read what other people are going through too. I like to think that maybe Mummykind can help another mum who feels like they’re sinking sometimes.
Are you a fan of collaboration with other bloggers and if so, why?
Our Mummykind blog is one big collaboration – so yes! 6 mummies all sharing experiences of parenting reminds us that everyone’s journeys are different and there is no right or wrong answer
Who has supported you in life?
My amazing husband has been there from day 1 for me. He was there the day I got my A Level results, he was there when I graduated and he’s always supported me as best as he can through my mental health, even though I know he doesn’t really understand it fully.
What are your words of wisdom to a mum who is struggling emotionally?
There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and to get there, you need to drop the guilt. Who cares about the state of your house, how you feed your baby, how the birth went, whether you had a c-section or not, or how you look? Only you, so if you can’t do things how you wanted to, don’t carry the guilt with you.
If you could recommend ONE book to a woman what would it be and why?
Atonement by Ian McEwan – if this doesn’t teach you to change things you’re not happy with before you regret the choices you’ve made then I don’t know what will!
If you could recommend ONE website other than your own to a woman what would it be and why?
Stumbleupon – I love this site because it has ALL THE BLOGS and they’re just on there randomly for you to read at 3am during the night feeds… Honestly, try it out!
Is there anything else you would like to say about struggling as a mum?
 
If you’re struggling with motherhood, just know that you’re not alone, and seek help as early as you can. You need to get to that place where you can just love being a mum to your little baby!
Oh, and have fun, that’s the number 1 rule of parenting!

Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

Struggling As A Mum And Then Helping Others

clairejustine
Twin Mummy and Daddy
My Random Musings
Cuddle Fairy