Category: Blog

Why It is Important to Study

When I was in school, granted that was a long time ago, I didn’t always think studying was about me, but rather about what someone else wanted me to do–the teachers and my parents mainly.

In hindsight, my thinking was flawed because studying is about seizing the moment and living your best life in the moment. In this snippet from Your Education Matters, expert counsellor Donna Morgan explains why studying is important, particularly for girls. Watch here. 

Of course, boys need to study, too, but the point made in the podcast focuses on historical facts–opportunities exist for girls now that simply did not exist, even a few generations ago, perhaps in informal education as well, as mentioned in our podcast, Your Voice Matters.

And though you don’t have to study for life lessons (you only have to heed them), studying or formal education really matters.  Check out the full podcast here.

 

Seize The Moment: It Matters

I still carry my first grade ‘Straight A’ report card around mentally.  Really, I do and over the years have come to understand the indelible mark it has made on me about the importance of education.

Even if I wasn’t career prepping at age six/seven, and let’s hope I wasn’t, I was learning a lifelong lesson about education—it matters on so many levels.

But it would be a long time before I understood that not only does it matter for the future, but it also matters right where you are.

Fair enough! I have no regular use for the trigonometry that knocked me off my ‘A’ perch, but trig taught me a thing or two about myself–the importance of perseverance, for example, and learning to become who I wanted to be and not who others wanted me to be.

I must say there was something about seizing the moment, too. Ok, so I am not going to get an ‘A’ out if this, I remember thinking, though not verbatim, but I can get an ‘A’ out of that and that would be English and writing and anything akin to them.

You get the point, which counsellor Donna Morgan, makes beautifully in UIO’S Your Education Matters podcast, out tomorrow. She emphasises that there are more opportunities for girls now than ever before. If Math is your thing, go for it!

Although it truly was not mine but who’s to know how much the lack of opportunity and support influenced my disinterest in the subject.

Anyhow, Your Education Matters is the second podcast to be released in the U Matter Series, and also looks at the importance of finding a healthy balance to studying and avoiding burnout.  In addition, the podcast offers tips for parents and guardians on how to offer necessary support during the school years.

Your education matters on so many levels, both formally and informally, and has a huge impact on emotional and mental wellbeing.  The podcast is out September 13. Listen here and wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.

How To Voice Your Opinion

Sometimes voicing your opinion can be downright tricky, especially when the situation is intense.  Our latest podcast, Your Voice Matters, offers great advice on how to get your point across.

Bestselling author Cai Graham says in a nutshell, it is about getting people to listen to you.  Check out this snippet from Your Voice Matters, offering succinct yet spot on advice on how to voice your opinion. 

Listen to the full podcast where ever you check out your favorite podcasts or subscribe to the show from this website.

 

Having Your Say In the Right Way

Not speaking up has a negative impact on your emotional and mental well-being—at least it does mine.  It’s a bit like carrying around dead weight, weight that pulls me down in the dumps but as soon as I have my say, I feel uplifted.

Let’s be clear about what having your say means and what it does not mean.  First, things first! It does not mean blowing off steam or telling someone off at the top of your voice or engaging in a futile argument with someone about politics, religion, or morality for that matter.

It’s more about saying and doing what is healthy and right for you. And how you say it matters too, according to bestselling author Cai Graham, guest on UIO’s podcast, Your Voice Matters.

In our chat the author of The Teen Toolbox and I agree that having your say is not always as easy as it sounds. It can be tricky when there is looming peer pressure, for example. That’s why it is important to understand the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence and use them both effectively to get your point across, particularly when it matters the most.

In a nutshell, self-esteem is about how you feel about yourself in a particular situation and self-confidence is believing in your ability to do something.

Makes a whole lot of sense to me, which takes me back to my first point. Often when I am feeling low about myself or a situation, upon review I will conclude that I didn’t have the confidence to have my say. Owning and understanding this gives me the confidence to put it right and it often gives me a segue to the right words.

For example, I might say, you know I was thinking about our recent conversation and, I prefer we agree to disagree about women’s rights, political beliefs, whatever it is that has caused the upset. I need you to respect my views but as and when this is not possible, let’s not talk about it. Otherwise, it is a strain on our friendship, whatever the relationship is, and because I value it, it is imperative that we avoid these explosive conversations.

Now that’s confidence.  No screaming, yelling and naming calling, just putting your point across, remembering that your voice matters.  The namesake podcast is out September 6. Listen here or wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

UIO Announces U Matter Campaign

With so many crises about, admittedly sometimes I feel like who I am and what I think doesn’t really matter much anymore.

Of course, some of our problems are eerily mysterious and seemingly beyond our control to find a permanent solution. Case in point: Covid 19. But even if it is not within our gift to eradicate it, effective governance of such a problem throws up questions about what matters most.

But this vlog is not about the management of Covid 19 or any other world crisis; we could debate such topics for hours, which many do.  So, I will refrain from that and rather focus on what really matters amid all the controversy, whatever the topic is.

The answer is ‘you’. That is why UIO is launching a new campaign, U Matter, with a new podcast series in early September.  Unfortunately, this will be our final podcast series as far as I know but more on that later.

What is key is that I continue to have a firm belief that teenage girls matter. Of course, all teenagers do but UIO has always been for and about teenage girls, tackling issues that disproportionately affect girls and women.

Thus, the U Matter campaign will feature four podcasts—Your Voice Matters with Cai Graham, Your Education Matters with Donna Morgan, Your Wellbeing Matters with Cat Williams, and Your Family Matters with Lisa Doodson.

I can tell you without a doubt that each podcast is packed with oodles of great information—all slated to rise to the top of the most listened to UIO podcasts. I say this because Voice, for example, is one of those topics that is always relevant, but some current trends tend to attempt to squash the voice of girls and women. And the fight for equal opportunity in Education continues throughout the world.

In addition, Wellbeing is a topic at the core of each of us. It is so important to remember that not only does physical wellbeing matter but emotional and mental health does, too.  So in this podcast, we focus on bullying.

And while it might feel clear at times that Family really matters, at others it does not.  Great societies are built on healthy families; there is plenty of research out there to back this up. But perhaps less research is available on the diversity and complexity of family structures nowadays.  Our podcast looks at the matter inside out.

Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming series. And rest assured that while the podcast aspect of UIO will wind down after this series, my commitment to teenage girls will step up.

It is my hope to work directly with as many girls as possible through organisations such as Compassion UK and schools, for example, throughout the world.  It is a matter of reallocating UIO’s resources to ensure that you the teenage girl continues to understand that: U Matter.

To this end, if you know of an issue that affects teenage girls and you think that UIO can help , contact me here.

The Power of Change in Relationships

Healthy Relationships are key to healthy living. No matter how independent we are, we simply cannot live in this world alone.  We thrive on interaction with our family members, peer groups and friends, especially the latter in our teenage years.

Upon reflection, I remember how important it was to have friends and the impact healthy friendships have had on my growth and development. Recently, I reminisced about athletic friends choosing me for their teams even though they knew I could not help them win.

How mature of them and forward thinking to look out for my emotional well-being, when the very system in place did not. But what about when they weren’t around. I was the last one selected. Never mind! I do hope picking teams has been scrapped for the sake of good self-esteem.

Anyhow, the point is relationships can reveal key information about who we are and our friends, too, not only when we are in the relationship but also after the relationship has passed.

I know, I know. Who said anything about passing? Don’t good friendships go on forever? Sometimes they do and other times, they do not.  In either case, one thing is for sure, people change.

And understanding this change is one of the basics of maintaining healthy friendships and another is knowing when the friendship has run its course, whether it is a love interest or simply a good friend.

So, what is a girl to do when her best friend changes right under her nose? Or a love interest, well, is no longer interested. Suddenly the activities that you shared are no longer exciting and the crowd that you have both worked hard to avoid have brought your friend or love interest into their inner circle.

I hear you. No one wants to feel left out, so it might be something to consider changing, too, for acceptance.  Not so fast; consider the tips below:

  • Recognise the past has passed. No point in hoping for a better past. It is gone. Let bygones be bygones! Grow from it!

  • Instil boundaries! When friendships are evolving, boundaries can come in quite handy. They can be the security you need to steady yourself.

  • Respect the boundaries of others. Give them their space, their new life. Take what you have learned and let the rest go!

  • Stay true to your values. Though we grow and evolve, we all have fundamental values deep within. Let them rise to the surface when they need to. They will never steer you wrong.

On my most recent long-haul flight, in one of the movies I watched, a teenage girl took up smoking because her friends were doing it. But her romance with smoking was short lived once she worked out that she didn’t value it and really didn’t enjoy it.

This revelation led her to realise that her friendships had become toxic. And that perhaps the friendships had run their course, and that it was time to make new friends.

On the other side of change, however, I know of two women who grew up together but took very different paths in life, yet they stayed in touch and continue to count each other as close friends. Congrats to them!

Undoubtedly, change continues to influence their relationship, as it does all relationships. It is just a matter of understanding its power and knowing how to manage it.

New Vlog Out: Breaking Bad Phone Habits

Since my February 17 blog on breaking bad phone habits, my eyes have popped wide open to my unhelpful routines, one in particular: I have just not been able to put the phone down at my cut off time at night–9.30 pm. For the past couple of nights, I have been sucked in to reading something or even listening to something at about 9.15. And though I know it is a risk, I’ve indulged myself and the result has been the same, a sleepless night.

Why? I’ve not yet embodied the experience of how it really makes me feel to engage with one of my devices fifteen minutes before I am supposed to be winding down. Frustrated and sleep deprived this morning, I am going to spend some time today dropping into the experience, reflecting on it, feeling it repeatedly. Looking forward to the the light bulb turning on and understanding that this  bad habit no longer serves me, if it ever did.

For more tips on breaking your own bad phone habits, check out my latest vlog.

And do see how ready you are to tackle the problem with our short quiz on the subject. Click launch button to play.

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

Breaking Bad Smartphone Habits

Where would we be without our phones—the smart one that is? So many people have abandoned landlines and can’t imagine life without a smartphone. Not only is it a phone, but it’s also just about everything else you want it to be—a camera, an internet provider, an entertainment center and all the rest.

Honestly, I am as excited as the next person, though the thought of ditching my landline is a step too far. It’s my reliable device when all else fails. But I, too, am hooked on my smartphone and can’t leave home with it.

In my obsession with it, I have picked up a few bad habits along the way that are more trouble than they’re worth and can be quite relationship and health undermining, as well. You, too? I’m not surprised, so have dedicated this blog and a vlog (coming next week) to breaking bad phone habits such as:

Looking at your phone while in the company of another person
Using your phone during a meal or just having it on the table
Playing with your phone during class, a meeting, or a club
Sleeping with your phone or at least with it nearby so it is the first thing you see in morning and the last thing at night and sometimes in the middle of the night

What’s the problem, you might ask? These are norms nowadays! Everybody knows that. Well, I have to tell you, these habitual norms are not only rude, isolating, distracting and dismissive of others, they are also irritating, aggravating and sleep depriving. They have to go for the sake of effective communications, good emotional and mental wellbeing, and healthy relationships.

So how do we break these bad phone habits? I’ll come to that, but first let me tell you what doesn’t work permanently– exerting will power, analysing or guilting your way out the habits.

According to neuroscientists, habits are well, habitual, so you can’t will yourself out of them, think your way out, but it is possible to feel your way out of them through awareness. But first you have to notice the habit, experience it with awareness repeatedly, assess whether it serves you, is it still rewarding? Has it ever been? And finally when you and your brain experience the habit as unrewarding, you can break it.

Very straight forward isn’t it, but it takes focus and consistency to undo any habit that the brain has set to auto pilot. For example, I was an addictive cola drinker, especially in my 20s in New York City. Every morning, I had a certain cola and a cinnamon and raisin bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. I know. Yuck! No amount of telling me how unhealthy this was mattered. I knew it was a caffeine and sugar trap and all the rest and I could not stop until I experienced its undermining of my health repeatedly.

After years of doing this on auto pilot, I began to notice that every time I had a cola, I had palpitations. And the more aware I became, the more I saw that my habit was not rewarding. Pretty soon, I dropped all colas like they were hot coals and do not like them to this day.

Now about that smartphone, is it serving you or are you serving it at the expense of your sleep, emotional wellbeing, relationships and so on? How do you feel when someone else uses their phone in your company? How do you feel when you play with your phone on the down low? Is there a widening a gap between you and friends and family when the phone is all you can pay attention to? Are you losing sleep, feeling isolated, disconnected and all the rest?

In any case, turn the spotlight on the real time experience and feel the results of your behaviour in real time. You just might become fed up. I am getting there and wishing you Godspeed as you go forth to nail your bad smartphone habits.

For more hot tips on phone etiquette, check out Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out with Nicola Morgan and keep watching this space for my vlog next on the same subject.

Oh and yes, check out our short quiz on bad phone habits. Launch from the button below.

In the meantime, take care of you inside out and remember it is you I owe.


Your Online Reputation Matters

Your online reputation matters, like it or not, in the same way that your offline reputation counts.

No wonder I don’t have a big online personal presence, though it wouldn’t hurt to enhance it, as my personal brand is linked to UIO, which does have a pretty good online reputation, thanks to our social media manager.

But here is the thing to remember, the thing that terrifies me—everything you say and do online becomes a part of your online record. Yeah, you have an online record and all it takes is a quick search to pull it up.

Of course, there are privacy matters but make no mistake about it, privacy can become a little murky when posting comments, photos, etc… Whatever you post, well there is a trail, forever!

Gosh, forever is a long time and can and will follow you around from your teens, to university, to new relationships, to potential jobs and so on. So, as long as your posts represent you, your personal brand, and you can stand by them and not behind them in shame or in front of them to conceal them, you are good to go.

What a heavy burden to bear, living in front of a lens, that is, all the time. Sure, we all like to reflect on memories but there are few things we’d like to forget about, too.

Like the time that I sat humiliated in the stands during a basketball game and my boyfriend, who knew nothing about me intimately, nothing, decided to plant his hands upon my coated chest (I had on a puffer coat). And even if he had known me intimately, how disrespectful was that? Whatever happened to r-e-s-p-e-c-t? Obviously, this has left a scar on my psyche, but I do remember squirming my way out of it somehow and getting another boyfriend.

Imagine me finding a photo of the scene online the next day, the next month, the next year, the next decade. I’d be traumatised today. Thank goodness this was pre-online dominance for socialising. Thus, I was able to restore my reputation without too much of a fuss. For starters, I had much less of an audience to deal with.

Make no mistake about it, the thought of not having an online presence is unreasonable to ask nowadays, considering all the goodness that comes from social media such as broadening your horizons and communicating with people throughout the world. Without it, sharing my expat experiences or promoting UIO podcast would be incredibly challenging or downright impossible.

So, what can you do to protect your online reputation?

Don’t post inappropriate visual or written content!

And don’t be tempted to comment on inappropriate content, either. It might seem harmless and fun, but it could easily come back to haunt you.

Be mindful of others, only posting comments and photos of them with their permission.

Stick to the offline rule of refraining from heated discussions about religion, sex and politics, particularly with strangers, unless of course, you have a platform that warrants you to do so.

And finally, check out Online Safety with Charlotte Aynsley from series 3 of UIO podcast for more hot tips on staying safe online and protecting your reputation. It’s all about you inside out!

Vlog Out Now on Embracing Your Body Image

Still thinking about what to do about some aspect of your body image that is bothering you. Check out my latest vlog, Facts for Embracing Your Body Image . The key to finding happiness in the body you are in is to take care of it, it is the only one you have, and embrace it.

Of course, this is often easier said than done, particularly with the subliminal messages, surrounding us daily. Again, as pointed out in last week’s blog and reiterated in the related vlog, it is important to recognise a few facts to begin your body positivity journey.

Off you go, starting here. And don’t forget to subscribe if you already haven’t and tick that like button. Watch this space for blogs and a vlog next month on Social Media. Now that’s a topic I can’t wait to dive into. See you next week.