Author: Sonja

Get The Facts About Embracing Your Body Image

Body Image is one of those subjects that never goes away. Ageless, it is always topical, not surprisingly. I say this because body image is all about how you see yourself physically and mentally, too.

Whether that is your face, your hair, your size, your shape, it is all about you and only you live with yourself each second of the day. No wonder having a healthy body image is crucial to a healthy overall wellbeing.

Admittedly, keeping a healthy outlook about life is hard enough on its own sometimes, what with all the challenges of growing up, let alone keeping positive about body image.

Thus, I want to share a few simple facts about how to embrace your body image right where you are.

First, focus on what you like about your body and not what you don’t like. This is easier said than done, right? Most times the thing we worry about the most, fret about, dominates the mind and can have an eroding effect on self-esteem.

Remember how draining it was the last time you obsessed about what you didn’t like about yourself. Try the opposite. Find something you really like and there will be plenty of choice and focus on it for starters. All the rest will fade into the background. For more tips on how to do this, listen to Your Confidence Inside Out with Cheryl Grace.

Next, accept that there will be bad days, bad moments when nothing looks or feels right inside out. We all have times such as these. You are not alone!

When this happens control what you can and let go of the rest. It will somehow take care of itself. For example, if you don’t like your hairstyle, change it or if you don’t like how an outfit makes you feel, find one that makes feel good. All the rest, let it go! If it is acne, for example, it will go away. If its body shape or something genetic, embrace it! It is yours!

The key is to stay healthy both physically and mentally.

After this, get clued in about what and who influences your perception about yourself. Pay attention to what you watch, what you read, who you long to be like. Let’s face it, you don’t live in a vacuum, but you can exert control over what you take in.

Limit your social media visits and report anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and cut back on television and remember that actresses and social media influencers are paid to look a certain way. That’s their job!

And don’t compare yourself to your friends or foes for that matter. Remember, that people come in different shapes, sizes, heights, colours and so on. There is only one you!

Finally, take on a few healthy habits if you already haven’t and truly make them habits.

For example, eat foods that serve your mind and your body consistently. Cut back on sugar. As sweet as it is, it is behind a multitude of health problems. And do check out Your Body Inside Out podcast with Judit Ressinka, who offers tips on how to reinvent your favourite foods such as pizza.

And don’t forget that exercise is as much about your mental health as it is your physical health. No time for a full work out? Then take a short walk or a run. Judit suggests dancing and other creative ways to get exercising.

One last tip is to talk to someone you trust, a real person, particularly when you are stuck on a dislike or feeling down about something you’ve seen. It’s good to get it out and have a reality check.

In the meantime, take care of you inside out. Check out Your Body Image Inside Out with my personal trainer, Laura Miles, who shares her journey on developing a healthy body image, as well as How To Take Care of Your Body During Tough Times with Hope Virgo. And remember, it is you I owe.

Happy New Year!

TAPPING INTO YOUR ANXIETY

Anxiety is so personal, isn’t it? I have come to understand that over the last couple if years in particular. What I feel is what I feel and how I deal with it is personal, too. Make no mistake about it, I am not carrying it around like a thorn in my side or being pessimistic about it. I am just saying that when it is in my space – it is a force to be reckoned with.

Recently, someone told me about the children’s book There Is no Such Thing As a Dragon. In short, a little boy discovers and befriends a small dragon living in his home but his mother refuses to believe that the dragon exists. So the dragon gets bigger and bigger and only when she faces the fact that the dragon is real does it shrink to normal size. The little boy makes the point that the dragon just wants to be noticed.

Ah ha! Such is anxiety.

This is one of the tips in my latest vlog, Tapping Into Your Anxiety–Acknowledge it. And after doing this, you can gain control to manage it. Sounds like a plan to me. Check out Tapping Into Your Anxiety on my You Tube channel and please do give us a like and subscribe.

Take care of you inside out.

Navigating the New Normal Vlog Out Now

Our second vlog of the autumn season is out and available on YouTube. In Navigating the New Normal, I share some of our top tips from our podcast, same name, with author and public speaker Suzie Lavington, as well as a few tips from my own experiences.

Though the new world that we live in can be unsettling and daunting at times, it is crucial that we reframe our thoughts, for example, when we get tangled in a negative web. And instead of reviewing and regretting what we have missed out on, we will be better served to plan what could be ahead.

For example, if you missed your 16th birthday party, why not plan your 18th.

I am all for it and have already started looking ahead to brighter days. Make no mistake about it, this doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge our reality. Acknowledgement, of course, brings lots of sadness and in many cases grief. It is sticking with the sadness indefinitely that can be unhealthy and stagnating.

So check out Navigating the New Normal on YouTube and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to get the vlogs as soon as they are posted, as well as new podcasts when they come your way.

Take care of you inside out and remember it is you I owe.

UIO LAUNCHES AUTUMN VLOGGING SEASON

Almost October! It’s hard to believe that Autumn 2021 is here in full colour. Shrouded often by grey to black clouds, still the days reveal deep purples, tantalising oranges and the subtle yet impressive off-whites that we’ve become so familiar with during the season. Not to mention some of the lovely sunsets that seemingly come over the earth just a little bit sooner than expected.

It’s my favourite season, though I can scarcely remember what happened in Autumn 2020! Upon reflection, I suspect it felt more like a time of mourning than a time of changing but in many ways, the two or are intrinsically linked. That’s why I decided to kick off UIO’s new vlogging season with the subject grief. Tough topic but a very important one all the same.

I never feel too far from grief nowadays and though I haven’t gotten cosy and comfortable with it, I have accepted it as a teacher. Check out my vlog on YouTube for 7 lessons learned and don’t forget to subscribe. And for more information on dealing with grief, listen to our podcast with Kristi Hugstad, the grief girl.

Take care of you inside and out and remember it is UIO. Stay tuned for the next vlog coming soon: Navigating the New Normal.

Glimpsing A Snippet of Hope

While it is early days yet for our Discover U campaign, launched on Snapchat a week ago, it is refreshing to be in the company of teenage girls throughout the world. Though traditionally our largest listening audiences come from the USA and the UK, through Snapchat, we have been able to reach out to girls from around the globe, including Nigeria and India, for example.

And we are eternally grateful for the opportunity to support all girls everywhere and to advocate on their behalf.

The timing for resources to deal with mounting challenges can never come too soon for those in great need and to my contemporary mind, never has so many segments of society faced unprecedented challenges on a daily basis as we are facing now, though I am sure my ancestors and their ancestors and so on might beg to differ.

Even so, I suspect their hopes and prayers for us is that we will continue to look and learn and spend less time reviewing and regretting. Not an easy task, even for those who might be staring hope in the face. This is those of us who are returning to school, to a snippet of life as we knew it, moving around with some sense of freedom, no matter how restricted it seems.

And for those who feel as if they can hardly breathe, owing to Covid 19 and the slew of problems that it has either brought or magnified, amongst already existing problems such as poverty, disease and so on, it is an enormous task to keep it moving and even feel a glimpse of hope.

To this end, we at UIO continue to hope when hope seems unattainable and are so excited to share this hope through our podcasts, which continue to serve as a practical resource to some, while offering encouragement and hope to others.

Via our Discover U campaign, we are sending out well wishes to you wherever you are and hoping that from whatever space you are in, you will find some source of joy and happiness.

In the meantime,  to listen to our podcasts, any of them, click here. It is for you and about you, inside out.

Women Influencing Without A Single Word

Gosh! It is has been far too long since I raised my head above the parapet. Nonetheless, head down, so to speak, doesn’t always come with negative connotations.

In my case, I have been working towards an exciting project to be announced in the coming weeks, which will no doubt bring us closer to you, our teenage girl audience, for whom we exist. In this closeness, our goal is to be there for you, for whatever it is that you need at this time in your life, which is a good segue to the topic —women who have influenced me positively.

Though UIO celebrates girls and women year around, Women’s History month is a wonderful time to reflect on the women who have influenced and shaped my life—too many to name in this space but I do want to highlight just a few, starting with the first women who set the stage for my life.

Of course, my mother took the lead on this, and in many ways shared this role with aunts and grandmothers, and other close women relatives and those in the wider community.  But out of this lot—it was my mother and her only sister, Dorothy, who I pay homage to today.

Without ever saying a single word, they both taught me lifelong lessons about being independent. It was all in the way they lived.  I, along with my siblings, called these women Tid and Auntie.  The latter name comes as no surprise to you but the affectionate name Tid—given to my mother by my oldest sister—determined what the rest of us would call her.

Though both Tid and Auntie are gone from this world, their footprints are stamped all over my life.  For example, Tid always worked, even when her generation of women were forfeiting work/careers for one reason or another.  Not Tid, she worked diligently both outside of the home and inside of it.  She never seemed to feel any ways tired, not that I could see.

Frankly, I am better for her influence. Though she was not delighted when I took off for New York at the tender age of 23 (my goodness),  it was in part due to her example that I had the the courage to do so. And then when all roads led to London, though emotions welled up again, she came to appreciate my independent spirit and must have wondered if she had anything to do with it.

Now that brings me to Auntie, who often, asked me where in the world did I get my courage to leave home and live in a place where I didn’t know a single soul—okay I knew one, Paul, of course, the reason that I upped and left the country.

You, I teased, reminding her that she had left Georgia, the only home she knew as a young woman to seek a better life in Ohio. So, what if she had the company of close kin for familiarity when she first arrived, she made her own life and still returned home to Georgia every chance she got.

As a little girl, I remember her sending me packages (coats, clothes) from afar and then the excitement of waiting for her to visit. She and some close cousins would drive for hours to arrive at our house sometimes very early in the morning or late at hight but no matter what time it was, Auntie looked refreshed.

Though I would often find myself wiping what little sleep I had gotten from my eyes as she exited the car, she exuded happiness and enthusiasm.

And when the two women got together, they exemplified togetherness, though they lived miles apart.

So here we are. I am miles apart from my own siblings and in some ways worlds apart too, but thanks, in part, to Tid and Auntie, I am thrilled to be me and have never shied away from an opportunity to step into independence.  And pre-Covid, you couldn’t keep me away from Georgia, remember!

Anyhow, independence and interdependence are inherently linked and no one has to say a single word about it. It just is and is influencing a whole lot of folks in the meantime.

Are you one of them? Do tell. Share your stories here.

Dealing With Grief Podcast Released

Grief is hard-hitting no matter when it comes.  When my mother passed nearly five years ago after a long illness, I remember feeling the weight of grief and wondering if life would ever be good again. Still I pressed on in a world that had its problems, but never quite felt the real threat of my own health or existence. Admittedly, I thought about it, quite a natural part of grief, but under the uncertain cloud of Covid-19, the Covid era, it feels like I am staring my own mortality in the face all too often, making the weight of grief seem unbearable at times.

Sadly, those of us who have lost relatives during this perilous time, directly related to the virus or not,  are grieving in a crowded space–one that continues to escalate daily.  At the end of July,  there were over 690,000 deaths linked to the pandemic and two months later, the pandemic has claimed over a million lives worldwide, which is more than a 50% increase.

That’s heavy stuff for anyone, let alone someone who is grieving. Thus, it made perfect sense to catch up with grief specialist Kristi Hugstad, also known as grief girl, to tape a podcast to unpack this heavy sorrow and examine how to navigate the space in real time, if you will.  Many people, amongst them teenage girls, will be experiencing up close and personal loss for the first time, while trying to cope with the pandemic simultaneously.

Dealing With Grief is loaded with encouraging advice, while examining the importance of accepting grief as a journey, considering its various layers and understanding its meandering nature. Listen on iTunes or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

 

UIO Releases Podcast On Race and Racial Injustice

As a writer, I’ve always struggled with who has a right to tell a specific story.  Make no mistake about, I know that a darn good writer can serve up a good story whether it is her own or not.  Still, it is not always easy to write with compassion and empathy about something as controversial as racism or racial injustice.

Furthermore, this topic, in particular, conjures up deep emotions and can get real personal and so it should.  Getting personal sometimes is what it takes to get a point across.  Even so it is important to write responsibly and constructively. The same goes with talking.

That’s why I decided to use UIO’s platform to talk about race and to share some of my personal experiences in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.  How To Talk About Race Now examines why it is important to talk about race and offers tips on how to do so constructively.  Check out this timely and relevant resource on Itunes or where ever you listen to podcasts.  And by all means, join the conversation, leave your comments.  Let’s talk.

 

 

UIO On Navigating The New Normal

Since the global pandemic hit the world at large back in March, of course some countries were suffering before others, we hardly recognise our everyday lifestyles any longer. On my melodramatic days, it feels a bit like Gone With The Wind, only because life as we knew it disappeared in a breeze, resulting in loss, loss, loss.

Of course, the biggest loss that the pandemic has caused is that of human life, leaving so much pain and suffering in its path.  To this end, we are dedicating our fourth and final podcast in this series to Grief, a comforting conversation with author and grief specialist  Kristi Hugstad, also known The Grief Girl.  That’s released on October 7 but this week we are focusing on the loss of our way of life, not to be sneezed at either, and how we can recover, bounce back.

On this note, The Guardian, one of our broadsheets here in the UK, reports a 50% rise in anxiety since the onset of the pandemic.  So in our podcast, Navigating the New Normal, with author and speaker Suzie Lavington, we do talk about managing anxiety amongst many other things.  Full of energy, something that we could all use a bit more of these days, the podcast is loaded with  hot tips on how to re-enter school, your friendships, your activities, all in good spirits. Also, it offers practical advice to parents and guardians on how to support your children as they face a new world.

Listen on Itunes, You Tube or wherever you listen to podcasts and watch this space for next week’s release, a one-off for UIO in which I share some of my own experiences on racial injustice in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Like all of our podcast, How to Talk About Race Now is timely but also timeless.  Again, it is out next week.  Meanwhile, take care of you inside out, staying safe while you are at it.