Category: Blog

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.

UIO Back to School Mini Series Launches

A September child, I have always felt grounded in the Autumn. Always  waiting for a breath a fresh air, a new beginning.  This one has been no different in that sense, me reflecting on the past and preparing for the future–my New Year of sorts.  But this year, I, along with everybody else,  am facing perhaps one the most challenging Septembers of all times.

The Covid 19 global pandemic has presented challenges for all of us to one degree or another. It rather feels like the storm has ripped through our lives and left a lot of rebuilding to do whether personally or professionally.

To this end. I am excited to announce UIO’s first podcast in our Back to School Mini Series. Staying Safe At School During the Covid Era features five panellist who engage in thought provoking conversation about the return to school in both the US and the UK.

Whether returning physically or virtually, educationalist and students alike are putting safety first to ensure that they can learn in an uncertain space.  Panellists Carmen Li and Sue Atkins both point out the importance of having our basic needs met first.  And Nikki Gordon offers suggestions to students and teachers on how to transition from the physical classroom to the virtual for the best possible outcome.  Students Zaqiya Cajee and Olivia Clark-Dixon bring their youthful enthusiasm to the discussion and look at how to move forward from a student’s perspective.

Though longer than our normal podcast, Staying Safe at School…  is worth the listen for students, teachers and parents alike.  As we return to our daily living,  the podcast not only brings inspirational discussion on a shared topic, it also offers tips on staying balanced, on how to find opportunities, if you will, during a crisis.

Listen on Itunes, YouTube or where ever you listen to podcasts.  Watch this space for next week’s podcast with inspirational speaker and author Suzie Lavington on how to navigate the new space we are in.  See you then!

Hot Tips From UIO’s Fourth Most Popular Podcast

It’s week four of our campaign to share top tips from our most popular podcasts.  This week, we return to the first ever UIO podcast, Your Confidence Inside Out with Cheryl Grace.  As timely as ever,  the advice in this popular podcast reminds us of how important confidence is to daily living.

Choosing five top tips was as challenging as ever. Still topping my selection was –Don’t Compare Yourself to Other People. Great advice as we head back to school, back to some sense of normality.  Recently, I found myself comparing my post lockdown fashion to someone else’s and just before I went into a slump over it, I remembered that there is only one me.  And that what really matters is that I take care of me inside out. Check out the vlog here for all five top tips.

And if you haven’t caught the full podcast, head on over to  Itunes, You Tube or where ever you listen to podcasts. Meanwhile, we are less than a week away from the launch of our back to school mini-series, kicking off with Staying Safe At School During the Covid Era, featuring five panellist from experts to students from both the US and UK.  Stay tuned!

UIO’s Third Most Popular Podcast Featured with Top Tips

It’s the third week  of our campaign to share top tips from our most popular podcasts.  This week, we feature On Girls’ Rights with Lindsey Turnbull, a podcast that is all about exercising your rights to stay happy and healthy in the space you are in.  Though the teenage years can throw challenges at you, you have a right to meet those challenges in our own style.

Top tips include setting boundaries on and offline and honouring them. With boundaries, it is much easier to occupy a healthy space.  Following having clear and consistent boundaries is protecting your internet space. Not only does this mean, following positive accounts but it also means unfollowing negative ones.  Check out the vlog here!

And continue to watch this space for our new back to school mini-series out in mid-September.  The series features podcasts on how to stay safe at school during the COVID era, navigating the new norms and grief amongst other topics.  With a whole new world to before us, the podcasts offer loads of advice and tips on how to adjust and move forward. Take care!

 

 

UIO’s Second Most Popular Podcast Named

This week we continue sharing hot tips from our most popular podcasts of all times.  Second up is On Social Anxiety with Claire Eastham! Like the first, On Personal Development with Robyn Spens, this podcast is packed with hot tips but we’ve pulled out the top five, which wasn’t an easy job at all. They’re all great.

Anyhow, first on the list is Recognising the Signs. Experts agree that social anxiety is one of the most unrecognised conditions of all times, often mistaken for being shy.  Number 2, Get Help!  All too often we don’t  get help for our mental health issues but getting help is the first step to healing, as it is with physical help.  Check out the entire vlog here.

And keep watching this space for our back to school mini series coming in September, loaded with tips on how to navigate our new world order.  Remember take care of you inside out and See you soon!