Tag: Confidence

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!

Never Give Up: Rise Above The Odds

Rising above odds is a varied subject. Odds, in some way, can be like challenges stacked against us in any given situation. In UIO’s upcoming podcast with barrister and entrepreneur Hannilee Fish, we talk about dealing with sexism, peer pressure and mental illness as well as overcoming her own dyslexia and finding opportunities in poverty. 

Seeing an opportunity in a difficult situation can often be the difference in feeling stuck or coming out on the other side. This year, I celebrate 21 years of living in the UK and while I can’t say that I have ever found myself in a seriously difficult situation, barring the odd exception at the border when I truly thought I might be sent back to France, to be deported to the US, I have had to learn the ropes in a situation where the odds were stacked against me, if only marginally. 

Early on as a writer and a student, I learned some of the embarrassing differences between American English and British English. One that sticks out is referring to trousers as pants in a room full of men. Sounds minor, right. Most times it was but the lesson is that the two languages are not one in the same and the opportunity for me was that I inherited a very British family. I rose quickly. 

On a similar note, I had to relearn the metric system. How many grams would you like Madam? Gulp! I would graze around the shop and find a bag of coffee that had 200 grams and until this day, I still think in pounds weight wise but I do understand kilos and stones, believe it or not. 

Again the opportunity was living with someone who spoke the language, ate the food, lived the life and thus I approached life as a learning experience. 

So often I had been told you will not survive, you can’t. One acquaintance referred to my African American roots compared to my husband’s British roots as oil and water, fiery and well, passive. Still I rose, and when another said, you’ll be back, I seized the opportunity to prove her wrong. 

Of course there were far more serious challenges along the way–there were illusive racial issues, sexists ones, too but the toughest one was making new friends, establishing a firm foundation. So often when we move from one country to another, or one city to another, this is a major issue but it also happens when we change schools, go from one grade to the other. 

In the end, the key thing is to find the opportunity in the challenging space, stay grounded and never give up–all important to rising above whatever odds you might be facing. Take a listen to UIO: Rising Above the Odds with Hannilee Fish for more tips on finding opportunities in difficult and awkward spaces. Meantime, take care!

Attributes for Exercising Your Rights

Since doing UIO’s fantastic podcast, On Girls’ Rights with Lindsey Turnbull, founder of Miss Heard Media, I’ve been thinking a lot of about what it takes to exercise our rights, if you will. Though girls have a right to grow-up without undue pressures, to reject objectification and sexism, the right to align with your true values and live intentionally now, it takes confidence, some self-love and great character strengths amongst a few attributes to do so.

Without confidence, for example, it is easy to get side-tracked, even at my age. Here I am in Cannes this week and the next and the next attempting to learn French at my ripe middle age. Argh! Sitting in the classroom with dynamic students from around the globe who are already having conversational French, it feels quite easy to slip into a dark space, lower my head and sneak out of the room at the first opportunity.

Thankfully, I have put on a brave face, dug deep for a little bit of confidence and hung in there, thus far. Though today, I nearly bolted when I learned that my beginners class, where everyone is world’s ahead of me anyhow, would be combined with Paul’s intermediate class, where people are having outright conversations.

No can do, I said in English. I will go next door and write my blog in English, thank you. As I prepared to leave, one of my classmates pointed out that it would be a wonderful opportunity to listen and someone else from Paul’s class spoke encouragingly to me.  Only then did I look to my character strength of perseverance.

I am a lot of things, but not a quitter, I reminded myself and so I stayed and felt more confident for it. Remember that… when you are a footstep away from walking off that football pitch or leaving that social club where no one is talking to you.

Anyhow, I have a long way to go, after only five days of language school, before I’ll be ready to jump into a full blown conversation with a fluent French speaker, except for with my friend Dominque—si gentil.

Fortunately, I have her and Paul, who is far more advanced at French than he likes to admit, cheering me on, but that is not always the case when one is trying to live life intentionally. There will be stumbling blocks in the way whether it is do with academics, sports, or relationships, for example. The key is to stay on track and take anything new or old for that matter one step at a time for the best outcome.

Not so easy, is it, especially when it comes to rejecting sexism and objectification, for example. Lindsey points out in our podcast that the more you love yourself, the easier it is to say no to things that don’t serve you. Some things like going further in a sexual relationship before comfortable are in your face decisions to make but others like considering why you dress a certain way or want to look a certain way is another.

A few years ago, while visiting Miami, I saw a group of teenage girls strolling through town with taffeta see through dresses and trousers and nothing underneath. I immediately thought of the shift in values and norms in society and the narrowing gap between being a girl and a woman, not that I think this type of dressing is acceptable for anyone. However, a woman has far more of a chance of making an informed decision and dealing with the repercussions of the outcomes than a teenage girl, who thinks it is a fun way to show off her body and gain attention.

Quite frankly, it is unlikely that dressing provocatively publicly serves anyone. But if everyone seems to be doing it and society encourages it in the name of being liked and accepted, then it’s hard not to get side tracked. But as Lindsey points, everyone doesn’t mean us well along the journey. We have to dig deep to exercise our rights to overcome. That’s where the confidence comes in, along with character strengths and self-love. 

Now about that conversational French, I’m working on it. Accorder dans trois semaines (for some straight talk in French)! Meanwhile, check out On Girls’ Rights on iTunes, our website or wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Skin

It’s Elizabeth as guest blogger again, this time writing about skin.

Someone once said that youth was wasted on the young. With each new wrinkle that forms, I am starting to see the truth in that saying and often imagine how great it would be if I knew then what I know now.

As a teen girl, I often neglected to pay my skin any attention and, while there is no magic fountain of youth or a fool proof solution for perfect skin (what a shame!), I have learned along the way that there are certain things that can help to put your best face forward.

Firstly, let’s talk about skin care. Since our skin is unique to us and our life-styles, I like to think of caring for my skin in terms of feeding it with both inner and outer nutrition.

Inner nutrition is having a healthy diet with plenty of water and consuming less of the things that are bad for my skin, such as sugar and alcohol (okay, I’m not a saint and do indulge every now and then!) As a girl, however, I didn’t really understand the connection between sugar and break-outs, for example. You live and learn, a good segue to outer nutrition.

This is why I nourish my face with a good moisturiser and full body with body cream to hydrate from the outside. Long gone are the days when I use just a face-wipe before bed, but that’s something I’ve only realised in my 40s! Experts say that a good skin care routine should start in your teens, ideally from the age of 14 years. However, as Jenny Hawkins points out in Episode 3: Your Skin Inside Out, it is important to use age appropriate products. The products in your mother’s cupboard, for example, are likely to be too mature for your skin.

Next, let’s talk about skin and the sun. In my late teens and early 20s, it used to be a case of applying sun cream and then forgetting about it for the rest of the day, the lower the SPF the better. Now, and with the benefit of hindsight, a tonne of research and hot tips from our podcast, it is clear that the reverse is true. That is, the higher the SPF the better and it is important to re-apply regularly. My kids, however, don’t agree and you might not either. But take it from someone who has been there and done that, protecting your skin from the sun is non-negotiable.

And finally about the topic of make-up, less is most definitely more. When I was a teen, I wasn’t allowed to wear heavy make-up and no doubt protested at the time. In hindsight, I’m thankful for my parents’ guidance as I only ever got the occasional spot.  Don’t get me wrong though, I love to wear make-up. It makes me feel more confident and ready to face (sometimes literally!) the day. The key is age-appropriate make-up and products that are right for our individual skin type. A heavily made up face all the time, particularly for young skin, could cause blemishes and other damage, too.

No wonder I love the clean feeling of taking off make-up at night and lately I find myself trying to have days where I take a break from wearing it altogether. In my 20s and 30s, I wouldn’t have dreamed of venturing outside without a full face of make-up on, but ironically as I’m getting older and probably need it more with bags, dark circles and wrinkles, I find it strangely empowering to go without.

I love this quote from actress Drew Barrymore, ‘I like to take a break from vanity…when a woman is laughing, fresh from a workout or just enjoying her life…that is when she at her most beautiful.”  Personally, I couldn’t agree with her more and feel the key to a happy life is ultimately to be happy in your own…you guessed it…skin.

For more tips on skin and how to care for it, tune into our podcast with skin expert Jenny Hawkins – Episode 3: Your Skin Inside Out. Jenny offers some amazing tips and inspirational advice, too.

What Is Personal Development Anyway?

It’s Elizabeth and I’m delighted to once again be invited to guest blog on the UIO podcast page.

This week I will be talking about personal development, a topic that will be covered also in our upcoming podcast in December.

Personal development is an often used but rarely explained term. For me, the term refers to investing in myself so that I can manage myself effectively regardless of what life might bring my way. Personal development has allowed me to be proactive and rather than wait for good things to happen, I try to get out there as much as possible and make them happen.

An example of this was the time I was made redundant from a high profile role in I.T. while on maternity leave with my first child. Initially, I was devastated and didn’t have a clue what to do. What would we do for money? How would we pay the bills? Would anyone else want to employ me? Would I have to cut my precious maternity leave short? The worries seemed endless.

Fortunately, I had just read an article on personal development and as an already optimistic person whose ‘glass is always half full,’ I decided to take this situation as a positive, rather than a negative, opportunity and used the time to reflect personally about what it was I actually wanted to do with my life – possibly for the first time ever.

I decided I wanted to become self employed and do a role whereby I could not only earn enough financially, but also work around my baby and enjoy spending the cherished early years together. I then retrained to do exactly that. It hasn’t always been easy and I’ve had my fair share of struggles, but I haven’t looked back since. I now work around both my beloved children and I’m doing something I actually really enjoy.

Personal development therefore begins with self awareness– know who you are and be it!

As we approach the New Year, like most people, I use it as an opportunity to set my ‘New Year resolutions.’ In so doing, I feel it is just as important to have a plan to realise my goal, as it is to know what it is I actually want to achieve.

An example of this is my yearly quest to set about losing weight! More often than not, my good intentions only lasted until the end of January (if that sometimes!), as I never had a plan to help me achieve it. Simply stating “I will lose weight” isn’t going to get the job done! With this in mind, last year I devised a course of action and by mapping out details specifically, I actually achieved my goal.

Personal development therefore continues with having a plan – know what you want and go out and get it!

To conclude therefore, my journey to self awareness has led me to understand that personal development is about taking the time and, making the commitment, to invest in my greatest resource–me. I think that when I put effort into developing myself on a personal level, the rewards can be amazing. I may not always achieve my goal, but I genuinely feel that I am experiencing a richer and more rewarding life by committing to pursuing my own objectives.

So, don’t be put off because the results are not always the desired outcome but do remember that to achieve what you want in life is to know that the key to success lies in the ability to manage yourself in a variety of situations. That ability comes through making a commitment to personal development and I firmly believe that this is the first step on the path to personal fulfilment.

The Spirit of Identity

Identity is one of those things that is always there from birth–we get many tags if you will–a gender, a race and nationality, a weight, a health check and eventually a name and all sorts of abilities and so on. Still, as if it has never been there before identity, as a huge concept, pops up on the teenage radar screen with blinking red lights: Warning! Warning! This is your gender, your sexuality, your race, your ability and here is what it means.

The pressure is on to identify with different parts of you and if there is an internal clash or negative connotations about something you identify with, this can cause problems.

More on this coming in our UIO: On Undiagnosed Mental Illness podcast with Eleanor Segall.  In the meantime, however, it is important to make the point that identity and mental health are linked, if only because clashes and negativity can cause anxiety, worries and so on.

In some instances, anxiety and stress can escalate into depression, even self-harm. And even in the majority of instances when it doesn’t escalate, the stress over identity is to be taken seriously. At the very least, bad moods and low self-esteem can set in.

And though it is easy to say don’t worry about it, that is easier said than done. It has taken me many years to really understand this and even now I have my moments. Rachita Saraogi and Rebecca Thomson, in our upcoming UIO: Your Identity Inside Out podcast, advise not owning the negativity, leaving it with the people who perpetuate it. You might not be able to change them, but you can change your views on how you view yourself, who you are.

That’s the spirit!

Reflecting on my teenage years, I remember obsessing a lot about hair— its length, its texture and so on. While I can’t say that I have ever consciously disliked my hair for its texture or length, I was not immune to beliefs about Afro hair, if you will, the talk about good hair and bad hair.

Admittedly, there were times in my life when I wanted a certain hairstyle because it was popular and considered the highest mark of beauty. For example, long straight hair was the in thing but as I wasn’t in charge of my hair, my mother was, I didn’t get it.

I doubt if it had anything to do with the political belief that relaxed hair is somehow symbolic of a European standard of beauty. Her reasoning more or less had to do with growing up too fast and economics.

Nowadays, many teen girls have returned to natural hair, as part of a resurgence of the natural hair movement in black communities around the globe, which proposes that hair is healthier for the individual physically and mentally in its natural state.  Furthermore, some believe that natural hair suggests a stronger sense of identity with one’s heritage and straight hair suggests the opposite.

Though I don’t agree with the line of thinking, I think it is wonderful to see teen girls and women with Afro hair in its natural state—the ponytails, the braids, the Afros, but just the same I love seeing hair in all of its versatility as long as it is healthy and well maintained.  That is what is key for me and mainly why I continue to relax my hair—it is either for me to maintain, though I have worn braids over the years, returning my hair to its natural state and in high school, I sported an Afro.

Regardless of style, I identify strongly with my hair and what I have learned about this over the years is that it is mine, part of my beauty, part of my health, and rightly or wrongly it is a big, big, big part of my self-esteem. Thus, regardless of trends, movements, beliefs, politics, I need to be happy with my hair—not the world.

And nowadays, I don’t make any excuses or apologies for that. End of story. Underneath the hair is where my real identity lies and it is up to me to embody that. That’s the spirit!

 

Stay tuned for UIO: Your Identity Inside Out podcast coming soon.

Kicking the Comparison Habit

Today while with my personal trainer, Laura, I noticed a younger woman with her trainer lifting some pretty heavy looking weights. And suddenly I felt guilty for moaning about the seven kilogram (15 lb) weight I had used to do split squats, but the rush of emotion didn’t stop at guilt. It hurried to something else that can be even more of a confident buster than guilt. Yep, you guessed it—the comparison narrative.

“She is much younger than I am,” I said to Laura.

“We don’t do comparisons in here,” Laura replied on automatic pilot.

Only then did I realise that as confident as I can be about many things that I do, whether working out, writing, podcasting or even driving, I find myself falling into a comparison narrative, even if it is only with myself. I thought I had squashed this narrative years ago.

When I was a teenager, I remember entering the 100-yard dash race during a field day at school, favoured to win. Back then I was quite a flier and could out run just about any boy or girl my age or even a bit older. But when the whistle blew, I stalled. I didn’t have the confidence in my ability to win. I have never forgotten.

And now that I look back on it. I think it had to do with comparing myself to the other girls in my class. Those who were athletes were arguably competitive and rightly so. They were confident in their games, whatever that was. But I, who had only displayed my athletic ability at church picnics, at home and so on, compared myself to them and didn’t measure up. There went my high school, college and life interest in becoming an athlete.

And over the years, when the comparison narrative has cropped up, pushing me away from something, I have managed to put it in check, particularly to do with writing. It was only today that I realised that though it doesn’t rear its pushy head aggressively the way it used to, it turns up subtly and in the slightest way can knock my confidence.

So just remember teen girls, when you find yourself comparing yourself, your abilities to someone else, put it into perspective. There’s only one you and all you can do is be the best you can be. No one else can do that. That takes trusting in your abilities, whether that’s in academics, sports, drama, life. That takes confidence.

Wear it and wear it well, like you would protective gear for inclement weather, to paraphrase Cheryl Grace, guest on Episode 1: Your Confidence Inside Out. Listen on iTunes. As for me, so much for paying attention to others while training. It’s all about me next Tuesday. But don’t tell Laura. We wouldn’t want her comparing, now would we.

 

The UIO New Look Is Out

UIO: You Inside Out announces a new look , emphasising the voice of teenage girls.

Created by Dominque Ozturk, an accomplished designer who has years of experience in working with girls of all ages, the new look will be featured across all platforms where the podcast is aired, including iTunes and the UIO dedicated podcast page.

Also you can see the new look and listen to the podcast via Libsyn   Stitcher, Tunein and on Google Play music.

Created as a versatile medium for teenage girls with their input, UIO relies on sound principles and values, and offers a safe and responsible platform to provide insight into topics relevant to teenage girls today.

The 2017 pilot series includes ten shows, featuring a range of talented women with special interest, experience and expertise on a particular topic:

Episode 1 – Your Confidence Inside Out with Cheryl Grace

Episode 2 – Your Body Inside Out with Judit Ressinka

Episode 3 – Your Skin Inside Out with Jenny Hawkins

Episode 4 – Your Body Image Inside Out with Laura Miles

Episode 5 – Your Hair Inside Out with Joy Miller

Episode 6 – Your Mind Inside Out with Jane and Molly Goldberg

Episode 7 – Your Values Inside Out with Jenny Garrett

Episode 8 – On Sex and Sexuality with Rachel Gardner

Episode 9 – Your Family Inside with Helen Lewis

Episode 10 – Peer Pressure Inside Out with Natalie Savvides

Stay tuned for more UIO announcements in the coming days and for new episodes in 2018.

‘I find the subjects and experts are good for parents to hear too, said one listening parent. ‘The podcast raises many points  for conversations with my daughter.’

For more info or enquiries about UIO, write to info@sonjalewis.com

 

 

First Episode of UIO Is Out

The first episode of UIO is out. Your Confidence Inside Out is an exciting interview with Cheryl Grace, most recently named one of the top 50 Women in Business in 2017 by Black Enterprise.

Aside from being a successful business woman, Cheryl is also a longstanding friend who happens to be one of the most confident women I know. Shown here with two other longstanding friends, Cheryl and I were celebrating my 50th birthday in sunny Florida. Was it really that long ago? Even longer since we first meet years ago as young PR directors and had a holiday together in Florida on the tail of a business meeting.

When we were young

In the podcast, which is available in the iTunes store for free, Cheryl offers invaluable information to today’s girls via enthralling personal stories and hot tips on the subject of self-confidence and self-esteem.

When asked why girls need self-confidence in the first place, Cheryl fluently points out that it is necessary to face the day, just as gloves and scarves are to face inclement weather.

To listen to the podcast, click here  and subscribe to my RSS feed or listen on Soundcloud or head over to iTunes. And do watch this space for the second episode, coming April 28.  Your Body Inside Out is a talk with Judit Ressinka, personal trainer and nutritionist. It’s going to be a good one, too.

Aside from iTunes, the podcast will eventually be available on Google Play, Stitcher and Tunein.

What a way to start UIO. Stay tuned!