Reasons to be Brave

Our guest blog is from Tania Pieri.  A talented singer, songwriter she also runs PA for creatives.  Her blog deals with something that we all face at some time in our lives – being scared. 

Fragility, Fear and Bravery. Do they all fit together? And what do we need, to face our fears and do something brave? To go and do that thing that scares us even though it’s absolutely, well….. Scary?!

I repeatedly find myself in situations requiring bravery. It always feels the same: Huge, Big, and Scary, and always feels like the first time I have ever had to face a scary task. Which of course it isn’t at all. Being an introverted performer – singer & dancer – I have faced many of these feelings time and time again. I have been through endless situations where I have had to find my inner strength and yet each time feels new. You might think it would get easier to face these things, but often to me, they are still big mountains.

And yet, climb them I must. Every, single, time. Sounds like a person who likes a bit of torture right? But no… So why do I do it? What drives me? I believe it is because of my ‘Why’. My driving force in life. When we can recognise this in ourselves it can help give us strength when we need it.

Personally, my ‘why’ is all about growth, development and sharing my voice. Therefore, I have to do the scary things that I am faced with so that I may continue to grow. Perhaps knowing what drives us helps us to face things with even greater Bravery because you know it will be beneficial to you.

Another great thing about feeling fear is it gives us the chance to exercise our bravery muscles. So each time we can choose to face slightly bigger or more challenging tasks. Also, we can’t know how strong we really are until we have something that tests us.

The timing of writing this post couldn’t be more fitting because I am just about to face something that needs my own brave-self to come out and present its self. I am having to dig deep, as it’s something that makes me feel pretty sensitive, but I know out of that, my strength will rise. I know, too, that if I don’t face it I won’t be able to live with myself and I will feel even worse for not having the courage to even try. So try I must. Whatever the outcome.

We can’t hide from opportunities for fear of failing. But we can grow through trying! So onwards we go….

If you want to find out what drives you I recommend this short quiz: https://wwwviacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey

Introducing our first Patron

WayfinderWoman have their very first patron!  Helen Greaves Warren is well-known in Eastbourne being a highly talented artist, designer, publicity officer for Sussex Guild and teacher.

Chair Laura Murphy said, “Helen has been an ardent supporter of WayfinderWoman, talking at events, helping out with fund raising and spreading the word about the work that we do.  The Trustees were unanimous in their decision to ask if she would become our inaugural patron.”

Helen said, “It was a wonderful surprise and I was honoured to be asked. I have enjoyed being part of WayfinderWoman and the team of volunteers deserves huge thanks for all that they do.  It is good to be part of such a worthwhile venture.”

The Today, Tonight and Tomorrow of Networking

Our guest blogger is businesswoman Hilary Fraser.With her years of experience  she has some great hints on something that can raise anxieties in all of us: networking.

Life’s better when we’re connected! What do we mean by connection?  Social media is a powerful way to keep in touch and raise your profile.  Don’t, however, mistake connections online for the real, human contact that comes with shaking someone’s hand, sharing eye contact, speaking and listening together, in the same place at the same time.

Here’s how to think more strategically about your networking. There are three categories to be aware of and by consciously choosing to develop each kind, you will gain maximum benefit in the short and long term.

1. TODAY
You don’t usually get to choose who you have to work with on your daily projects and tasks. There can be a lot of contacts needed to get things done, all connecting via you in some way. If you view yourself as a facilitator of this de facto network, you can build trust and enhance relationships which will lead to significant business benefits of speed, efficiency, collaboration and product or service quality. Plus you will have more fun doing the job!
Ways to do this include ensuring introductions are always made on conference calls,asking people to share something that’s going on for them at the start of a meeting, or using the phone to talk and build the relationship instead of sending an email.

2. TONIGHT
Find stimulation, creativity, referrals, useful information and personal development from networking with people outside of your day job. What are your interests? Study groups, sports, theatre, school governorships, volunteering – when you connect widely, opening up to new people and new experiences, life gets richer.

One challenge women especially find is that we may need to delegate more to ensure we make time for ‘Tonight’ networking.  Can you re-jig your resources and priorities to claim this investment in yourself?

3. TOMORROW
Take a strategic view.  Build and maintain a network of internal and external contacts who will matter as you progress in your career.  Try to see this network-building through the lens of your future interests, needs, priorities and challenges. It’s about finding supporters, mentors and those who will influence you and/or be influenced by you. It can be hard to know who will be relevant; and it can be a mindset-shift to not see this as ‘politics’ but as an essential aspect of your successful journey.

Finally, some tips for successful networking:
– reciprocity is better when you give before you expect to receive. (It feels good – but remember to ask for something in return before too long)
– personal brand matters, so be consistent and make it easy for people to know who you are
– ease your way into a conversation with small talk but don’t forget to talk about business
– keep it two-way. Do avoid both interrogation and taking excess airtime to talk about yourself
– bring the interaction to an end positively and authentically, e.g. “It’s been very interesting talking to you and now I must move on. Thank you!”

A Missed Opportunity

Our guest blogger, Elizabeth, has a tale to tell which we all should heed about how one wrong decision can totally transform your life and work prospects. Some might find this too distressing but we believe it an important message to pass on.

This is the story of what might have been the biggest missed opportunity of my 62-year old life. Ironically, it would only have taken a few minutes, didn’t require any qualifications and wouldn’t have cost me any money.

Life was pretty good in 2007. I was 50, had a reasonably well paid job, happy relationship, a mortgage free home and no real cause to worry about my health. So, in 2016, when I developed a yellow vaginal discharge I wasn’t especially concerned. However 3 months later the ‘infection’ hadn’t cleared up and the GP referred me for a.  Whilst waiting for my referral I had a vaginal bleed just like a period, not right given I was post-menopausal, and that’s when the panic set in.

The next I know biopsies are being taken and I received the diagnosis no one wants. “Squamous cell cancer of the cervix”. I had a radical hysterectomy, my pelvic lymph nodes were removed and 6 sessions of chemotherapy, 27 sessions of radiotherapy.   18 months later and cancer-wise, so far so good.  But the long-term side effects have not been so good.

The surgery caused a lot of nerve damage and I, very unusually it seems, now suffer from urinary retention. I have to constantly self-catheterise and the lymphoedema in one of my legs and lower abdomen means I have to wear compression tights/stockings which fit so snugly I have to use garden gloves to get them on and off.

Because of these side-effects I had to give up my job as they made it hard to function well in a demanding fast paced role. If I was younger, I would also have to cope with a premature menopause and infertility.

Perhaps the saddest part of the tale is that my cancer might have been prevented, had I kept up to date with my screening tests. So, if you haven’t guessed already, my big missed opportunity was not taking up my invitations for cervical screening.

I chose to start this story from the year 2007 as this was when, age 50, that I stopped going for screening. I gave myself reasons/excuses for not going such as: ‘it might be painful’, ‘it’s not going to happen to me’, I’m low risk’ etc. WRONG! With glorious hindsight, a minute or so of unpleasantness really is a very small price to pay for something that could prevent a cancer.

I’m not alone: 1 in 4 women, between 25 and 64 don’t get screened despite receiving reminders. Please ladies, don’t ignore or overthink it, just make the appointment and go.  Or, if you feel you really can’t face the test, how about making an appointment with your GP to discuss your concerns – you can always ask to see a female doctor.

I am now passionate about raising awareness of the importance of cervical screening and the wonderful work of Jo’s Trust. Some women really do need an extra bit of support to go for their tests, I know I did.  Mutual support is effective and I encourage women, and sometimes men, to check if their partners, friends, sisters, daughters, nieces, mother etc. are getting tested.  That simple caring thing could prevent a lot of suffering, save a career  or even save a life.

Community Talks

WayfinderWoman is available for community talks in East Sussex, all year round, WI groups, Soroptomists, Lunch clubs etc. We offer talks about WayfinderWoman, the services we offer, as well as Heritage talks around our Women of Eastbourne exhibition, which was all about influential women in Eastbourne’s past.

If you would like to book a talk from us, or want more information please contact us on info@wayfinderwoman.com or call us on 01323 886171.

Here are a couple of photographs from Laura’s last community talk with the Eastbourne Soroptomists on the 26th November.

Strictly Charleston – News and Pictures

A Wonderful time was had at our Strictly Charleston fund raising event. The guests enjoyed good food and music, and had a good ole giggle learning the Charleston Dances, thanks to Yvonne Wright’s School of Dance.

Here are some of the happy Flappers on the night, if you were there and you have some photos that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us, please can you contact us, we would love some more!

The Red Box Project

Quietly ensuring that no young woman misses her education because she has her period

Problem: In the UK, some young women in our schools are finding it difficult to access sanitary products

Result: Tearful panics in the loo. Wadded up toilet roll. Anxious embarrassment. Missed lessons. Missed education.

Solution: Women from the community sponsor and stock a red box filled with sanitary products and spare pants. The red box will support disadvantaged young women throughout their entire period.

The box will be kept at school with the nurse, in reception or with an appropriate member of staff. Plain paper bags are included for discretion. Of course, our schools are already on the case and stock a limited supply of sanitary towels to cover emergencies but what makes this project special is that we aim to ensure enough supplies to get her through her entire period.

 

Want to take part or start your own Red Box Community?

This is an informal group of female friends, colleagues or neighbours who sponsor a red box in a nearby school. Each member agrees to donate one pack of sanitary towels every month plus some pants twice a year. Backed up by some light fund-raising, this is a simple, affordable way for the community to work together to solve a straight forward problem.

 

Would you like to help in other ways?

  • Donate to our fundraising page, the price of one coffee would support one young woman through her period.
  • Donate in kind, add a pack or two of normal flow with wings sanitary towels to your grocery shop or run a collection for us.
  • Donate via our Amazon wishlist.
  • Fundraise!

 

This is a simple scheme made with love for the young women in our community.

Why? We believe that a young woman’s education shapes her future and her dignity is our responsibility.

 

For more information please contact us:

theredboxprojecteastbourne@gmail.com

facebook.com/redboxeastbourne

 

What is The Red Box Project?

 

Woman To Woman

Dare to Succeed!    Be the Change!    Be the Influencer!

Are you held back by your circumstances?

Has your self-esteem taken a battering?

Do you want to shake things up?

 

We can help you do just that with our Woman to Woman project.

 

Part 1 – FREE WORKSHOPS

Over four sessions we will help you grow in confidence, develop leadership skills so you can speak out on what is important to you. See the Events page for details.

Part 2 – ACTION DAY

With our full support you will organise a free event in your local community to help other women express their views about what needs to change and how.

Women working together to bring about change #W2W

Inspiration: where do YOU get it from?

Picture of woman on the beachOur guest blogger is Katie Day from RDPI.  Katy has run a number of businesses in her career and is particularly keen to help women develop as leaders in their organisations.  Katie has her own way of being inspired and is sharing that with us.

 As women, we have to be all things to all people, all of the time!  Exhausting in the extreme.  So, as we inspire others around us to be the best they can be, who is inspiring us?  Are we so bogged down with ‘life’ that we sometimes forget to stop and listen to our subconscious mind?  We have all the answers we need, we simply don’t sit still long enough to hear!  Here’s what I do when I need a little inspiration for my business and / or my life.

I pretend to be six years old!  I have a ‘play box’ at my office that is filled with all sorts of random items – a heart shaped small cushion, cufflinks, a woolly hat, a leaf, dried flowers, coloured pens and crayons, anything that catches my eye as I’m out and about walking or in novelty shops.  When I’m stuck and need inspiration I close my eyes and rummage around in the box and pull something out.  I then look at the item and allow my conscious brain to be still and quiet so that my subconscious brain can be creative and bubble up with an idea or thought.

Daydreaming is essential, for our emotional and creative health.  Einstein credited daydreaming for all his genius, as adults we should allow ourselves legitimate daydreaming time every day.  That could be sitting at our desks and just looking out of the window or going for a walk.

Living by the sea I try and walk every day looking at the waves, whatever the weather.  The sea is especially brilliant when I feel stuck for ideas or inspiration.  I just stand by the water’s edge and when the waves come in I imagine my ‘stuck-ness’ being picked up by the water and washed out to sea and taken away from me.  When I feel that enough has been washed away, I then look at the waves coming in and imagine new ideas and creative thoughts being held in the water and I visualise those ideas washing over me as the waves break on the shore.  If you don’t live by water, you could do this by simply walking in nature – in a park in a busy city will do too.  The trees could do the same for you – imagine your ‘stuck-ness’ being sucked in by the roots of the trees and dispersed underground and then imagine the branches and leaves full of creative ideas and inspiration and shaking them out to fall all over you.

People watching can be hugely inspiring.  If I feel really caught up in my own thoughts going round and round in my head, I’ll take myself off to a café for a coffee and just people watch.  The dynamics of human interactions can be incredibly inspiring, we just need to allow our own imaginations to have free reign without judgement or censor.  We can imagine all kinds of scenarios for the people we are watching and observing.  I have found this can suddenly spark an idea for a training course about leadership or communication.

I live my life like a triple A battery, I try to always be: Alert – Awake – Aware.

So, go back to the carefree days of childhood, where everything was possible and creative inspiration surrounded us in its wonderful randomness.

A Common Cause

We took the Heritage project volunteers to London to see the new suffragette statue in Parliament Square and then a guided tour around the Women’s Library, which had its own suffrage exhibition.

It was one of the hottest days so far and whilst glorious, the walk from Victoria to Parliament Square and then to the Women’s Library challenged even the hardiest of walkers!

The Women’s Library was like entering a cave of wonders: full of light and air with centuries of records about women, including some of those we had researched for our project.  What struck us was that until the point that this library was established, women’s role in society was deemed not worthy to record in a systemised fashion.  There was a wealth of information which excited our own readers and to hold the passport of Elsie Bowerman in our hands, or the letters from and to Edith Nesbitt was a real treat.

Perhaps though, the most significant take-away from the day was our encounter at the statue of Millicent Fawcett.  Whilst we were gathered around looking at the statue and the photographs around the plinth, one of our party started a conversation with two other women who had had their photograph taken at her feet.  They were from America and were equal rights workers for low paid women.  We talked about our various roles, the issues we were dealing with and the commonalities of women’s barriers.  We had made our own individual pilgrimages but it turned out for a common cause.

Millicent then was not only the rallying point for women of her generation, but now she is the rallying point for women of our era and those who come after us.  Truly inspirational.

Back To Top