Anyone for a Dip? (29/12/17)

Every year in early June a group of women meet to go skinny dipping at a secluded beach in Wicklow.  In 2018 they are hoping to smash the World Record for the world’s largest skinny dip.  It promises to be an amazing event for all who take part and one which will you will definitely be glad you took part in.

Organiser Deirdre Featherstone says she decided to organise the first dip around two days after her mastectomy.  “I felt so crappy and I wanted some good to come of this.  I didn’t want a “normal” fundraiser I wanted something fun and then all of a sudden a skinny dip came into my head and cheered me right up.    One night I set up a FB event and basically blackmailed friends into coming with me… I said I am bald and only one boob so you can too…. so they did.   First year was around 65, next around 89, then 90, then 200 and next year hopefully around 1.5k.”

Deirdre chose Aoibheanns Pink Tie as the charity the event fundraises for.  “The reason I chose Aoibheanns Pink Tie is that it’s a woman’s event.  We are all either mammies, aunties, friends with kids etc. and Childhood Cancer gets very little funding as opposed to Breast Cancer.”  You can find out more about Ireland’s National Children’s Cancer Charity Aoibheanns Pink Tie here.  Further details on fundraising and FAQs are available here.

The ladies at Fabulously Flawsome know the magic that happened the day of our photoshoot – there was something special from us all being there together and it’ll stay with me always.  I really hope we’ll have a bunch of us together for this event too (currently there are three of us!).  Asked about her favourite thing to come from the swim, Deirdre says, “The best thing for me without a doubt is the camaraderie among the woman, the laugh we have, the unity and people who really didn’t want to do it and were pushing their boundaries coming prancing up the beach in the nip with not a care in the world.”

So what if you’re on the fence?  Shy?  Unsure?  “I would honestly say for anyone who feels a little shy about doing it and feel they do not have the courage:  there are many women at it who have lost breasts, there is a woman who has lost an arm, there are woman from a size 4 to a size 24 and NOBODY cares one bit – it’s all about us and having fun and inspiring others.”

The swim takes place on June 9th and you will need to register here for the event and pay a registration fee of €10.   It takes just a few moments. 

There is a Facebook page for the event here and you can head to the website.

So ladies, get ready to get your kit off and make a splash in June.  It promises to be an uplifting event that will be one to remember and perhaps even revisit in the years to come.  Will 2018 be the year  you cast off your shackles, fears and clothes to go skinny dip and break some records?!  See you there.  xxx

Many thanks to Deirdre for her time in answering my questions.

The Road to Here (19/12/17)

I’ve recently had to piece together my journey to this point for someone  in relation to my body positive adventure.   It was a really interesting look into my past that I found really hard at points, and really eye opening in others.  It also made me realise how totally epic this year has been (although it’s brought great sadness too).  It seemed appropriate to include it in my blog somehow both as a review and as I truly believe that by sharing our stories we inspire and connect with others we may not even know we reach.  I’d hope someone can relate and if it helps even one person then I’m made up!  Thanks Helen James & the nurturers for the prompt!

So how’d I get here?  My experience of being body shamed started early. I had an aunt who I used to regularly hear tell my mother that I was a) too quiet and b) too thin – it was high time she fed me properly and got some weight on me – I’m talking as early as 6/7 years old! Apparently way back then, I looked like a starving child. I was thin, quiet, introverted and happy in my own company. As a teenager I grew tall and terribly skinny – I was stretching up as some teens do – but I was too thin I was told. I can still remember one summer attempting to put on weight because I was told I was too thin. I had no idea at the time why it mattered, just that my mother had wanted me to put some weight on so I wouldn’t look so miserable (most likely prompted by that auntie!).

Somewhere along the line I must have been sufficiently acceptable weight wise (or I didn’t care!) and I forgot about my weight through my teens. I was tall, skinny and still introverted but with a great group of friends who all supported each other through those bloody awkward teen years with a dash of madness and good humour. I can remember reaching my late teens and thinking I’d like to be more curvy, but weight wasn’t something that I really thought about too much at that time. My mother was a regular dieter – we had weeks of very specific diets where she had to food combine and during those two week stints she’d knock herself out over feeding the rest of the family and jumping on and off the scales. It was a constant in our house.   She had her own health issues that contributed to this too which I guess I only really learned the true reach of much later in my life.

I never worried about my weight or dieted until my late 20s when I started to gain weight a little bit more easily. I did a few diets – I can remember going to weight watchers for the first time prompted by my sister so that I could look good for my wedding. I jumped right in and bought it all – I counted points and kept track of everything. I lost weight. I still wasn’t happy with how I looked though. I think at some point around 2 months before my wedding I decided I wasn’t going to stay miserable and that I would look after myself and maintain rather than beat myself up for not losing more. I vowed to enjoy it. I have a photo of myself on that day where you can see my lovely little round belly. I used to hate that picture, but now it brings me great joy that even then, in the midst of it all I knew I just had to love myself better.

Fast forward a few years and deciding to quit smoking – hardest thing I’ve ever done and definitely when I started to gain weight again. Probably another thing that set me off dieting like crazy again! I tried so many different ones. Atkins was a big hit and I lost whilst feeling well but being slightly carb crazy (I can remember my very lovely boss asking if she could go get me some pasta one day!). I tried weight watchers again, juicing, low GI, the list goes on and on and there are many books I purchased to help me find the right thing for me. I tried lipotrim and the weight flew off. I missed food though. But I was slim again so I persisted.

I had my first baby and felt even more acutely that the weight needed to go and spent a few years yo-yo-ing with the lipotrim diet again. I lost a heap of weight and had my second child. Then considered the old lipotrim to get back in shape – but it didn’t really work. It was harder, the weight was slower to come off and I was miserable. I realised that it wasn’t working because I’d possibly done it too many times. It felt like metabolism had changed and slowed. I stopped and started trying to eat healthy instead. I really didn’t want to have my children ask why I wasn’t eating meals with them. It was too harsh and unnatural. A friend was joining slimming world and asked if I’d go with her. We both had a bit of weight to lose so off we trotted once a week to be weighed in and shamed. And I bought into it – every week for a few months, before I realised that I had been eating far better food without it. There was big encouragement to low fat foods – what I like to call chemical shitstorm food. And the dreaded queue to get weighed in and asked why I hadn’t done better. And I was paying for this. I didn’t last at slimming world. I left when we got to Christmas that year and didn’t go back.

I was also struggling with depression at the time and feeling very low on energy and joy. It was a pretty bleak few years. My family situation changed hugely after the sudden death of my father and my mother currently resides in a nursing home with dementia and Parkinson’s.  After antidepressants and therapy didn’t leave me feeling any better, I decided to take a different approach a few years ago. I came off the antidepressants and did a month clean eating kick starter. I felt slightly but not much better physically but my mind definitely felt a lot clearer. I took myself to the doctor for full testing and he advised that I had hypothyroidism. I can still remember my visit when he told me that I just needed to take the tablets and that the weight should start falling off after about a month. At this point how I felt was more important but I took his word for it and started taking my tablets daily. I felt better after a month for about a month and then it all started to go downward again. My hormone level would rise and fall and my medication with it. I continued this way until a few months ago.

About a year ago I saw a trailer for Embrace and signed up for email notification of when it was coming to Ireland. I cried (I think it was sheer relief) when I saw the trailer and knew it that I had to see it. I saw it with my eldest daughter (who was 11 then) in January of this year and it has totally changed my life. It was like someone turned on the lights, or an acknowledgement of something I always knew deep down inside but was never able to express. It was exhilarating, liberating and sad in turn – exhilarated to embrace the rest of my life and feeling free to do so with vigour, but oh so sad at the wasted years and money and attention I had poured into being the right shape – for who?! How had I been so easily duped for so long? I can’t believe it took me 46 years to get past noise and BS I’d been spoon fed by a media intent on keeping me unhappy with my body no matter what I did. I wondered how to take this into my own life and grow it, but determined pretty early on that it was high time to take on some serious introspection and self-care. I knew this was something that I could do – it was a change that I could make all on my own and it was entirely in my power and will to change. It smelt like freedom. I applied to become an ambassador fully confident that I could contribute to a new conversation and encourage others to join me in throwing off the shackles of a life spent being at war with my body.

I hosted a screening of Embrace and well, then it just took on a life of it’s own. It was mostly friends and friends of friends. The feedback after the screening was incredibly moving and there were tears and laughter and heaps of embraces. We formed a local group (Fabulously Flawsome) and we took to the beach for a photoshoot in June of this year.  12 strong and wonderful souls met on the beach that day and created a bond that was utterly magic. We used the photos to promote a second screening and vowed to do all we could to promote the message of Embrace, the body image movement and to build a group open to all who want to live their best life, happy in their skin. The company of this group and the conversations and friendships that formed from it have been amazing and so inspirational. It is incredibly moving to see what support, love, encouragement and a sense of camaraderie can achieve. People’s lives have been transformed and there were others who were touched by the message, but who still struggle to truly embrace themselves as they are now. I would dearly love to help these people get to where they want to be.

Having had enough of the to and fro on my thyroid medication with pretty horrible side effects this summer, I stopped taking my medication. I did a three month coaching plan with a nutritional therapist and it turned into more of a mentorship than anything else! It has been hugely helpful in teaching me to listen to body and to eat and treat my body in a more intuitive way. I feel very lucky that this year I seem to have found just the right people to help me along my way at just the right time. I’m still doing heaps of work on myself but I’m doing pretty ***king fantastic so far and I can honestly say this year has been amazing!  I’m aiming to do a blog post just about this very subject in the new year and if she’ll agree an interview with her explaining how she works  her magic, but for now you can find out more about Aisling’s services by visiting her website  or Facebook.

I still have slump days when I am tired or I feel a bit frumpy or down on myself but they are no way near as bleak and dark as the way I had been feeling before. I feel so much more at ease and calm and trusting that whatever the feeling is it will pass. I’m happy in my own skin, I’m listening to my body and I’m more free and empowered to look after myself than I have ever been before. I want this feeling for anyone out there who has ever struggled with being happy in themselves for any reason. I want to help people to realise that they should feel empowered masters of their own lives and break the chains that bind them to old stories and thinking that keeps them trapped.

I’ve been asked lots, “But how do you Embrace?”  It’s a massive question and it is different for everybody.   You start with one small thing and build on it.  That can be whatever strikes a chord and resonates with YOU.  I can’t tell you what that is – you need to find it yourself.  I can tell you there are so many things out there to help you on your way though.  Google body positivity, self care, mindful eating.   Research the things you think will work for you, things that you know will enrich your life so much that you’ll want to keep doing them!  I’ve had a chain of things that lead me from Embrace to Unstoppable and beyond to sources of inspiration and transformation and connections I know have changed everything for the better.  I followed the joy – the things that resonated and felt like home.  The things that made me scream “FUCK Yeah!” or cry, or laugh, or both.  A tiny thing but one which was massive was a massive cull of my social media feeds.  I endeavour to keep them as positive and inspirational as possible – just for myself!  It makes a huge difference.  I’ve also somehow managed to do this in real life too and find myself surrounded by an amazing tribe of people who have helped grow my spirit, broaden my mind and embrace who I really am.  Life can be hard and it’s imperative to have that fabulous foundation of love and support to carry you through the good and the bad.

For those of you interested in learning more Embrace You has just launched recently and is a practical, inspirational and fun online course to prompt you to find your joy and Embrace.   I’m just about to have the time to embark on this myself so can fill you in more in a few weeks.  It promises to be more Taryn magic though and I know it’s going to leave me buzzing!  You can sign up at Embrace You!  Please note that I’m an affiliate of Embrace You and as such may receive payment if you purchase this product.

Another beautiful project and something I’m looking forward to being more involved in in the New Year is Nutriri.  Helen James has spearheaded this social enterprise and has been running a group in Axminster, UK, which encourages mindful eating over restrictive diet plans and providing those attending the group with the skills to feel at ease with themselves and their food choices.  I believe Nutriri is the much needed alternative to the massive business that is slimming clubs and diet culture.   I’m excited to be part of something so amazingly progressive and positive  and have  thrown my name in as someone willing to train and run groups in the future so watch this space for updates and please visit  the website  for more info and maybe get involved in this wonderful movement for change.

So my lovelies, that’s it for this year.  I am now officially finished work for Christmas and looking forward to blowing this sore throat/viral out of my system this week so that I can sit back and relax and spend some time with my tribe.  Please, if you’re reading my blog and interested in anything I’ve mentioned and want to get in touch do comment or give me a shout as I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a very Merry  Christmas and a Happy New Year.

xxx

How a Body Hater Became a Body (and life) Embracer (09/11/17)

Thanks to my lovely fellow flawsomer and blogger Alison Murphy for the invite to guest blog on her page.   Yikes!  My first foray into blogging ever!  My teens and tweenager will cringe!  The reason behind the hijacking of Alison’s page is twofold.  To give you readers a glimpse into my life (how riveting!) and to explain  the effect seeing the wonderful  documentary “Embrace” created by Taryn Brumfitt, has had on my ever changing and expanding life and consciousness.   Sounds good?   Now let’s hope I don’t fall flat on my face!

Me.   Lorna Doorley a native of the Garden County now residing in the lake filled county of Roscommon.  Five children, one husband , two dogs, two cats and a very happy contented life filled with simple pleasures like walking , yoga, cooking, and for good measure a large dose of ferrying children here and there , the usual stay at home mother stuff.

I am nothing out of the ordinary.   Like so many women I know, I carried a burden from my early teen’s right through to my early 40’s.  A burden that too many people are struck down with in their early years , a gift from the media and consumerist society we inhabit , where “how it looks” is King (or Queen) and being brainwashed that sticking out , quite literally in any area is to be avoided at all costs.  The never ending quest for the “perfect” body and hating the perfectly working body I had was an affliction that I had for 25 years.   My first diet was at 17.  When I look back now at the photos of my Debs ball (teens ask your parents….it goes hand in hand with cassette tapes and recording songs off the radio!) it saddens me so much that I could not accept and love the beautiful body I had then.

The pursuit was endless.  The diets followed one after another.  The obsession was tiring.  Needing to be the slimmest I had ever been on my wedding day.  Then after each of my children were gifted to me and my incredible body grew them and carried them into this world and fed them , I continued to berate it , criticise, analyse and deprive it only to find myself then harming it with excess food.

For every breakthrough there has to often come first a rock bottom.  For me it came in 2015. Some months after having my 5th child, who needed to come in to the world through the sun roof (C-section) I presented myself at the latest fad slimming club…definitely not a diet folks …no way… feeding your body from a place lacking in intuition and relying on the instructions from a company IS A DIET (in my opinion…you are entitled to yours).  So I began, checking the book, the weekly weigh in all the time buying into the idea that YES I deserve the best YES I deserve to love and care for myself- but ONLY in the event of my body being smaller.  How could I love it bigger?

So I did it! Got to the acceptable target weight and for one weigh in I saw less than X stone for the first time since before I had my children . FOR ONE WEIGH IN! ONCE!  I stepped on the scales next week and was creeping back to my old weight, which I know have learned is my set point weight and is higher probably because of 25 years of yo yo dieting.   Anyhoo..   One day the kind leader was speaking to me as  I had slipped out of the “target “ weight bracket (there’s a surprise) and I burst into tears, the dawning realisation that I would have to maintain this obsessive behaviour for the rest of my days hit me like a tonne of bricks (or like the two stone I had lost).  I could no longer do this. My spirit was broken. I missed out on so much through my obsessiveness.  I lived in a perpetual vicious circle of shame and regret, steeling my resolve to try again only to fail and then the merry go round would begin again. I went home that day and took a sledge hammer to my weighing scales – that was the most liberating thing I had done in years!

Then I found a clip on You Tube about the documentary Embrace and saw an advertisement that it was being shown in Longford for International Women’s Day. I took myself off and boy was I blown away. I wasn’t the only one feeling the way I did. I wasn’t the only one seeking a way out to freedom from body obsession, the end to the torment in my mind and the concern about how I looked to others.   I am free today.  I live an abundant life, full of joy and contentedness.  I no longer weigh myself.  I don’t care about the label on my clothes.  I am free.  The key to this journey began by watching the documentary “Embrace” and from that grew a community of like-minded souls, all seeking to embrace life. It hasn’t been without its challenges. I  have had times when the lure of dieting has called me back.  I surround myself with like-minded souls who are there to support me when I am rocky.

This one life we have is short folks and it is only one day at a time given to us.  Someday my vessel, this body of mine, will be returned to the earth and on that day, I am quite certain that the topics of conversation will not be centred on what I weighed.  I won’t take bets on what will be discussed either!  I choose today to live a life that is filled with moments of joy, pain, fear and embrace it all. Welcome it all and learn from it all.  I choose to have people in my corner who get me, I don’t need to explain or defend myself any longer.  Along the way, I have utilised many services including that of therapy as I had underestimated the profound effect this issue had on me. Today, I lift my face to the sun and nourish my body mind and spirit in healthy, life giving ways to the best of my ability… and I eat cake!

I have decided to bring this documentary once again to the community and with the support of the amazing women of the Leitrim Luna Nua Red Tent, they and I are hosting the documentary screening in the gorgeous Carrick Cineplex on Wednesday 29th November at 7p.m. For this screening it is a women’s event and tickets are almost gone so to reserve one please email me slattagirl@gmail.com indicating your name and mobile number. Tickets are €10 and I will be there from 6.15p.m. –  ready to embrace you all ( please form an orderly queue lol) I hope we will be able to host future screenings also and if anyone is living in the Midlands or West and is interested please do get in touch!

Many thanks Lorna for your beautiful story and words.  I hope it’s a wonderful evening for all.  xxx

Day 7 – It’s all Good! (06/10/17)

Well I pledged to do a week of my body is great because posts on Instagram.  (If you want to know what inspired this – it was a little picture from Michaela at BIM.  Your emails always spark some inspo babe!)  It’s been a blast.  I think I’ll have to come up with a new one for next month!

Today I wanted to blog about something that ties in with my day 7 post and give you some of the personal experience behind it!  Please don’t mistake this for wanting reassurance or likes or attention – I just hope that these posts and pics might inspire or help someone else.

SO!  My body is great because after years of abuse, neglect and selective hearing I am finally listening and it is all good.

Just over two months ago I embarked on a mission to tune in to my body, to start listening and understanding the messages it sends me, to help me to help myself and to spend some serious time and love on getting better, healthier, happier and (fingers crossed at the time!) as medication free as I could be.

This was no easy task when the thing that prompted me to take this route was the fact that I have hypothyroidism,  the symptoms of which doctor told me were perfectly treatable with levothyroxine – a synthetic T4 hormone to replace the one my poor little thyroid was lacking.    After a year and half of this treatment I found myself  not feeling any better.  In fact, before I decided myself to stop the medication I was feeling rotten and strongly suspect that perhaps I’d tipped over into hyper – having too much of said T4 hormone!  Anyway during a very candid conversation with my GP I was informed that I could either suffer the side effects I was experiencing with the medication and not have any hypothyroid symptoms, or drop the medication and learn to live with the symptoms when they returned.  I’ll be honest here and say I was totally gutted and very upset to think they were my only options.  My journey to diagnosis was a long one over many years of symptoms which never seemed to indicate that my thyroid should be checked.  I’ve been in the depths of depression and found it hard to fight my way back out.  I’ve been on antidepressants that didn’t work and wondered what on earth was wrong with me when talking didn’t work either! I’ve had days when it took all the strength I didn’t have just to get out of bed, and copious amounts of coffee and mind over matter to stay functioning all day.  My energy packed it’s bags and left on a pretty regular basis.  Quite often it took my joy with it.   There were a string of smaller issues that I have since found can be tied to hypothyroidism too.  I couldn’t seriously contemplate setting myself up for a return to that but I also couldn’t conceive of continuing to take a medication that not only wasn’t working but making me feel like shit.  Everything pointed to having to find another way.

So what’s a girl to do? I think I spent a day or two in a total funk unable to find my way out or come up with a plan.  This year there has been a massive shift in attitude one for me and choosing joy became my mantra for living.  To be so at odds with a body I do love seemed wrong and I needed a way out of this that would help me to help myself in as supportive, sensible and loving a way as I could possibly find.  I remembered a clarity call I had had early this year with Aisling Fitzgibbon which had hugely helped me but which I guess I was just not ready for at the time for a few reasons.  Aisling’s an occupational therapist and holistic nutrition coach – but don’t let that fool you as she is so much more than that!  Her philosophy to empower her clients by giving them the tools from within that they need to live happy, fulfilled, healthy lives with ease and joy sounded like it was too good to be true!  Thankfully it’s not.  I am so glad that I went back to her and that with her guidance I have returned to feeling  like my old self but with improvements.  I’ve worked on so much personal stuff that I had envisaged would be torturous and hard – but it has been joyous and liberating with the few tears I did shed being ones of relief and release.  I have let so much unneeded baggage and energy go that I feel lighter and better and so much more energised.  I won’t get into the details of it (yet!) but I can’t express in words how very grateful I am to be med free and well and happy.   I still have some way to go but am so glad that I made it this far.  There is no turning back.

I know my body, mind and soul are great, because I have finally reconnected with them and they’re being listened to and cherished and supported.   I know we are not just our bodies but they are our vehicles in this life and we are one with them and so we need to treat them with the loving care and respect we extend to everyone we love.   Mine has responded with joy to being slowly and gently loved back to health and I’m really feeling the influence of all the good that’s come flooding into my life this year.  Onwards and upwards with sparkles on!  xxx

http://www.instagram.com/joy.volution

My Body is Great! (29/09/17)

I get a fabulous email every second week from Michaela at Body Image Movement – full of news, inspiration and magic for us as ambassadors.  This week’s had a link to this news piece from included and I think it’s really worth a look.  My Body is great because…

I love Instagram mostly for the lovely pictures friends and the people I follow post.  I am pretty picky about the accounts I follow and keep it positive as possible.  I do my best to keep my own account varied and true to life as well as positive.  At the same time though, I can totally see how it is all about image and images – and how we need to fight back at filters and photo shopping and say enough already.

I love that this encourages us to see our own bodies and others in such a positive way.  I’m going to do a post a day on my instagram account for a week dedicated to “My body is great because…”  I hope you’ll join me over on my insta!  and help me celebrate all the reasons why our bodies are so great!

Selfie (26/09/17)

As part of a closed group we have on Facebook, born of the Embrace screenings and our photo shoot, we post a weekend selfie for two reasons:  1) as a self esteem shot of you being unapologetically you and doing your thing  and 2) as a check in for us all with each other as we don’t get to meet up often.  (My thing seems to be mostly hanging around talking about cleaning in my pjs by the way!)

Anyway, I usually post on a Saturday but last week was busy and preoccupied and didn’t feel like doing it as I was struck with a bit of a dark cloud of sadness.  On Sunday, because I felt sad and knew I just needed to go through it, I decided I wouldn’t post my weekend photo.  But there was a weird feeling that came with that and I couldn’t quite figure it out.  This is what my adventure this year (and probably way before that!) has been – getting in touch with the real authentic me and embracing that.  So why did I feel that I couldn’t/shouldn’t post a picture that said “I look like I feel”?  It felt indulgent and if I’m honest I was a little worried that it’d be perceived as looking for attention.  I didn’t want my “this is me” to be taken in any way other than “this is me”.    I knew it wouldn’t though – it was just an old habit of mine to think too much about what other people think and I needed to rid myself of that and be true to me.   And what better safe space than this wonderful group of flawsome folks who are keen to grab themselves and their lives and the lives of others with a big warm welcome embrace?  And so I posted…

It isn’t a pretty picture, but it was definitely 100% a perfect capture of that moment in time for me.  Sleepy, coffee in hand and making my way through the sadness.

And the response?  Well, that was what really made me sit up and rethink my own perceptions and see that what we need to connect with each other is honesty.   We have this insane notion that we need to present our lives as perfect to the outside world.  Mine is far from perfect.  I strive to make it lovely, and joyous and happy, but my perfect is a balance of lots of things that are far from faultless.  It’s mess and chaos and calm and sadness and happiness and all the things that life throws at you.  It’s taking it all and making sense of it to allow yourself room to live and experience life fully.   Sometimes perfect is made up of flaws – I see perfection in the strangest things and fabulous in some wonderfully quirky and beautiful flaws.   We are far more interesting when we are open and honest and real.   That’s not always easy, and it takes bravery to risk it and live with the outcome.   It takes digging deep and not being afraid to be vulnerable.   Bill would have said “it takes balls”.

One of Bill’s favourite authors was Ernest Hemingway.    I’m sure this was imprinted on my young brain quite early on, but I had lost it somewhere along the way.

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Now I believe we are all best people.  I’m pretty certain I won’t be destroyed too but if there was even a shadow of a doubt, I then found this while clearing out my bookshelves this week.  Bill again.

On the flip side there’s happy and a short week later, coffee in hand, sleepy and feeling so much better I posted another honest photo.  I had nothing on my mind here, only my brew and birdsong and a day of impending room clearance!  I felt really happy in myself here and wonderfully at peace.  It’s rare.  It’s also lovely!

In a world of photo-shopped images that tell us what we need to buy to look different to what we are, I hereby vow to attempt to keep this blog as real and as honest as I possibly can in an effort to encourage you to do likewise!  This is me.  Unfiltered.  Not buying it!  Not standing on the sidelines.  Not afraid (well not too afraid anyway!).  Choosing Joy, belonging, embracing and rocking the shit out of me! I hope you’re doing the same.  xxx

Embraced Again! (13/09/17)

Well we did it again!  With the help of the tribe at Fabulously Flawsome and social media we managed to get enough people together for another screening of Embrace in Arklow.   It has taken me this long to a) recover and rest and b) get the kiddos back to school reasonably smoothly so apologies for the late posting of any sort of personal account of the event.

It was a pretty busy and really enjoyable day.  I met Catherine early to give her the photos we had printed from our beach shoot.  We wanted to line up with these in the cinema and she very kindly made a trip to get mounting for them.  Thank you Catherine Van Dijk – you are one in a million!    I also had to message Taryn and print off her letter for our audience that night and get finishing my speech.
Myself and my friend Geraldine had planned to get together before hand as it had been a while – and she very nicely spent some of that time curling my hair too!  We had coffee and chatted – mostly about the screening, how we needed to get back to work on our body image workshop and of course the usual yummy round of coffee.  ❤

Then we headed off nice and early to meet up before hand at a coffee shop as we needed to mount the photos and thought it would be nice to get together.

When we got there we lined up inside the cinema and I gave my speech before the film started.  I have never spoken in public before – it shows  I know but I gave it my best shot and I am really proud that I got up there and said what I wanted to say and next time I’ll do it even better! I do believe I even got a little emotional near the end which is unsurprising given the content and how much it matters.  It more than helped that these amazing women stood with me (and more who were there in spirit!). 

Thanks again body believers! You are seriously ****ing perfect!  I can’t upload video but here’s the link to my Facebook upload of Alison’s first ever speech!

After the film I think we were outside for at least an hour.  We had a wonderfully magic evening with lots of new people embracing and lots wanting to either see it go into schools or have a go at screening themselves, or both.   Here’s our gallery from the evening Fabulously Flawsome August Screening Blogpost.

I came home exhausted, buzzing and utterly spent but had a T-boy waiting for some of his own embracing! I duly obliged of course.  ❤

I felt hungover the next day even though I hadn’t had a drink – is there such a thing as an emotional hangover?!  I was tired but oh so happy and full of plans.

I spent the next day or two putting together thoughts and ideas about how to move forward for the group at Fabulously Flawsome and have been pondering my own stuff too!  I’ve done a good few updates on our website and we’ll be meeting soon to see what everyone wants to do next!  For me, I’ll be mostly concentrating on getting back to work after the summer off, and getting together a workshop and approaches for the schools and coming up with new ways to get people embracing!

The Body Image Movement are looking to sell 2,000 licences in the UK to fund the roll out of the Study Guide (free) into all UK schools.  As part of that project, they are looking to sell 20 of those in Ireland so if you’re up for a screening which you can host  how, where and whenever you like, please check out The Union Project or email bec@bodyimagemovement.com.    I can’t recommend becoming a host enough – it is a challenge and hard work.  It is also more rewarding than words can say and seeing others receive the gift of finally loving themselves as they are now is incredibly humbling and moving.  Becoming an Embrace host will show you the magic that this movie makes in people’s lives and no doubt do the same in yours – go for it!

If you would like to know more or get involved at a local level with Fabulously Flawsome please visit the Website, Facebook Page or join our group Fabulously Flawsome Closed Group.

August 23rd Embrace Screening (23/07/17)

Ali & Momo

This is me and my wonderfully lovely, kind, open-hearted, brave, funny and clever friend Momo who is one of the fabulous friends I’ve been lucky enough to share this year’s adventure of self acceptance and love and body positivity with.  Momo and I worked really hard to bring Embrace to Arklow back in April.   From this screening was born a  group of inspirational and inspired people we have come to call “Fabulously Flawsome” who are keen to promote embracing via positive, fun events and online support.  12 of us did a photo shoot last month for fun mostly, but also as an exercise in embracing our bodies and to promote body acceptance, diversity and love and of course, Embrace!  Momo was the person who found our fabulous photographer, Ian Carruthers and convinced him to do the shoot for us.  It was a magic day that marked a turning point for me, and I’m sure for many others and sharing those photos to encourage others is a really important step on the path for us all as well as an incredibly bold and brave move for each and every one of us.

You’re about to see those photos and hopefully hear those stories in the coming weeks via our facebook page, posters and website to promote our second screening on August 23rd at 6:30pm at Arklow Omniplex.   For now – you get Momo and I on the beach embracing who we are now and loving every moment of this one precious life!

Watch these spaces!  And please share our event to help us secure the screening.  We hope to see lots of people there on the day.  xxx

Beach Babes Sneaky Peak (11/07/17)

Beach Babes

After the screening of Embrace in April, a small closed Facebook group was formed so that we could chat to and support each other in the Embrace adventure.  This time last week myself and 11 other brave and crazy souls headed to a Embrace-style photo shoot that I truly believe will have a ripple effect in all our lives for some time.   We had an amazingly gentle and lovely photographer Ian Carruthers of  Ian Carruthers Photography who put us all at ease and who really got into the spirit and fun of the gathering.   Momo quite rightly knew from our first discussion who the photographer for us was and I think everyone would agree that we couldn’t have had a better man for the job.  Mother nature definitely conspired to make it the most perfect day for photos – blue skies, fluffy clouds and lots of sunshine!  There were a lot of nerves but as soon as we got to the beach it was swimmers/bikinis out and as people arrived an air of love, acceptance and excitement at what we were doing. If I had only one word to describe the morning it would be magic but it was so much more than that.

I posted this to the group when it popped up in news feed this week.  It is an interesting and valid argument for the Two sides of the BoPo coin but I want to share the opinion I posted to the group here too.

“I thought, especially in light of our recent trip to the beach that this was a very interesting and balanced article. For myself, I believe that the empowerment that comes from anyone finally loving their body after years of not doing so is a beautiful wonderful thing and if they want to document that and show it off that’s a beautiful wonderful thing too! I believe that the appearance of photos of un-photoshopped, wonderful and diverse body types is what sparks many to question and begins conversations that have never been had about body positivity and diversity. (Just look at the impact that one photo of Taryn Brumfitt’s had!)

I was surprised how much the shoot challenged my own feelings and perceptions. It was partly down to the emotions of the last few weeks but I found myself quite reluctant to get in front of the camera on my own for some weird reason. I realised then, that behind what people see is someone who just loves to blend in to the crowd and not be noticed too much. That all stems from my own ego and what I think people think (when in fact really, no one is thinking anything a lot of the time!). It’s an old, worn out, very shabby habit that has been bagged and thrown out for good. These habits lie deep though, and this is only a part of what the whole experience meant to me. The friendship, support, fun and total unadulterated joy of last Sunday will last a life time for me. I’ll call it up when I need a boost or a reminder to stay on this path or have trouble finding my joy. The freedom-to-be-me smiles of every single one of the 11 other women there will be forever etched on my brain and in my heart as one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced. How could I possibly say that that is not massively important?!We get to choose every day what we do for ourselves and our bodies. We get to feed and nourish body and mind in whatever way we see fit. We get to show it off or not as the case may be. Every adventure has the power to influence someone else. By being honest and open you have the power to possibly change someone else’s mind too. There are powerful stories to be told and we really can lead by example. Finally, thanks to the conversations taking place about body image we get to do it for our own reasons and no one else’s.

I don’t believe objectification is going to be eradicated by just fighting it and that stretching minds to acceptance and respect and diversity is an incredibly important step along the way.”

Like all things every positive step in the right direction is an important and significant one – whether it be a personal step for one person or a massive group step for a whole movement.  There is room for all as long as we are moving in the right direction, holding each other up and cheering each other on.

So what’s next?  I have been working on a website for Fabulously Flawsome, as well as a lot of chipping away at possible future screenings (no joy yet!) and hoping to pull together a workshop.  Photos will be published on the website and Facebook page once a flawsome meeting is held to ensure everyone is happy and to formulate a plan for the best way to promote Embracing and being Fabulously Flawsome!

On a personal note it’s good to be back writing a blog and planning positives for the future.   I never

realised until recently that I was capable of feeling joy and sadness in equal measure and not crumbling under the weight of either but I’m glad I found out I can.  It’s new to me and it’s a bit raw, but it’s wonderful at the same time if that makes sense.  I’m into week two of the unstoppable program (week three tonight yay!) and feeling it in nearly every aspect of my daily life.  It is bringing lots of new “aha” moments and ideas and plans for the way forward are starting to take shape and become real paths forward now.  It’s all good, because it’s all growing and making everything that was already good even better, whilst prompting me to review, bin or improve the not so good.  It’s exciting and yet another positive ripple from deciding to go see Embrace.

If you are interested in joining us at Fabulously Flawsome check out our Facebook Page and think about joining our Closed Facebook Group if you’d like to also.  The website will be posted shortly too along with our pictures from the day.

Lots of love and light your way for an amazing Sunday and wonderful week ahead.

xxx Alison

Lashing on the Love (22/04/17)

To say I’m ecstatically happy to be part of the Body Image Movement as a Global Ambassador would be an understatement.  I applied back in January having seen Embrace and decided I’d crack on with trying a screening to just DO something to contribute to the change this film can make.  It really didn’t disappoint and I’m hoping to do another.  In the meantime I decided to start by loving my body – first and foremost in my mind as that’s where the change had to happen first!  I’ve done lots of reading, lots of soul searching and lots of thinking.   I felt like a switch was flipped and it happened pretty quickly.

Then about a week/10 days ago though I experienced a bit of a wobble.  I saw a picture of myself and it sparked a deluge of emotions and thoughts that I really wasn’t expecting.   I totally panicked and plunged into a pretty dark pool of self-pity!  There was a voice in my head saying “Oh now you see, you need to lose a bit of weight!”  I thought it was my voice.  I’ll admit I panicked!  What the hell was I doing feeling like this when I had this whole body image thing licked?  “Ha!  Silly girl – got a little too cocky perhaps?”

The voice felt weirdly disconnected from me which was in a way a comfort.  It made me sad to think I would still treat myself like this and it took me a bit of work to figure out where the voice came from and who it belonged to.  I named names in my head – there were quite a few.  They were those people I know would have something to say about my size, my hair, my look, my diet.  Many of them are gone from or distant in my life now because I’ve worked to really fill my life with people who lift me up, inspire me and that I can be really me with.  I’ll be honest I felt like a bit of a fraud.  How could I be hosting screenings and telling everyone to embrace when I was having a hard time with it myself?!  Am I nuts?!  Should I just stop?

So I ranted and poured it all out to some of my tribe and I took stock.  I named those negative voices the titterin’ bitches (a nod to an uncle’s term for my mum and her sister when they got together!) and decided to lash on the love and be really be good to me.  Strip it down to basics.  Stop.  Read, craft, cook, snuggle the family, meditate, work it out with friends, research and find a way to see good in it.   It worked.  The titterin’ bitches fell silent.

Then I got my email – “Congratulations to our newest Body Image Movement Global Ambassador!”  Oh my heart!  Can I really do this?  Will I be any good?  What do I have to contribute?  Yes.  Yes.  Me.

Embracing yourself just the way you are right now is a daily job which is constant and entirely wonderful – a work of art if you will!  There’s lots of internal work to be done and from time to time titterin’ bitches to be loved into silence.   I’ll mostly have days where it flows and it feels good, but I did have a good week to 10 days where I struggled to find my joy of embracing again.  It didn’t flow, it didn’t feel good and you know what?  That’s okay.  It has taught me a really valuable lesson and shown me that I have an arsenal now  (complements of the titterin’ bitches visit) of self-care, love, support and good people, who can kick me into touch, hold me up if I need it or just let me sit till it passes.

I have so much work still to do on myself.  My health is an issue I’m beginning to tackle and will continue to be so.  My fitness levels need some attention too and I’m just now looking at new ways to move that both my body and I will love and enjoy.  Having been off for two weeks with the kids I think I’ll have fun getting back into the daily walks this week – but I’ll welcome the company of the dogs and my wonderful walking buddy and being out in nature again.  Baby steps!

My body’s been amazing for 46 (nearly 47!) years of what could possibly be classed as neglect but wow have I had fun so far!   Now it’s payback time and my turn to love my body and nurture it the way it has nurtured my journey through life.

I’m looking forward to helping spread the word through my experience and of course, through the wonderful film that is Embrace and with the support and input of the wonderful folks at the Body Image Movement.  I’m really honoured to be even a tiny part of something so life-changing for so many people.

Till next time – keep lashing on the love!

xxx

Alison

P.S.  I’m still waiting on news for another screening so watch this space…