Again, these tips are not about bragging or long suffering or suffering in an untenable situation. They are about rising above the odds against you, ensuring personal growth, which often leads to happiness in the space where you actually are. For more tips on rising above odds, check out Series 2: Episode 3 – Rising Above Odds.
- Speak to others who have been there and done that, preferably someone who won’t take a cynical approach. And if there is no one on hand, read a book. Fortunately, I knew someone who had recently moved to Holland to wed a Dutchman. I loved talking to her before making the move and in the early days of living in London.
- Have a plan. Honestly, you might think. That doesn’t sound very adventurous. That is the key. Electing a life change need not be looked on as an adventure but rather a new life experience. Thus, I latched on to the advice to have a plan, even if I did ignore the many warnings and the what ifs firing away at me.
- Stay in your comfort zone. I know, I know, there is all sorts of advice out there against this. But one step at a time is quite enough. For example, rather than to change my hair radically, according to the stylist in my neighbourhood, I branched out and found someone who spoke my hair’s language and mine, too.
- Get acclimatised as quickly as you can. This does mean venturing out and trying old things that amount to new things in your new situation—things that encourage, instil confidence and give you what you need to exist happily. In my case, it was independence. I learned to drive in the UK pretty early on. And yes, I had to overcome roundabouts, a big odd stacked against me, but I persevered.
- Stay in touch with what is familiar, making your transition a little easier. For me, I kept close to my family and a few good friends. My mother wrote to me regularly, and I wrote to her and we chatted on the phone, her teaching me how to make cornbread dressing, even if I had to go to extremes to source the cornmeal. Also, my best girl spoke to me daily, came on the journey with me spiritually, and visited when she could as well.
- In addition, I looked for home away from home in church, went to gospel concerts, and made friends with other American women living in London under similar circumstances.
- Embrace your new life. This is the grandmother of all the tips. It’s all about seeing the opportunity in any situation. Even when I longed to return to the US because I missed my cushy life there, I held onto building a new one here, appreciating the new experiences, the new ways of doing things. For example, I took a master’s degree to build credentials here.
Tag: Hannilee Fish
If I could magically make all hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms, tsunamis disappear, I would do so instantly, and I am sure I’m not the only one. With an onslaught of activity pre-season and during season, I am feeling a bit frazzled to be honest.
Last night as Hurricane Michael battered the very city where my father and all of my sisters and most of my nieces and nephews reside as well as many relatives, I felt anxiety get its grip on me. Having been in touch with my father via FaceTime until the lights went out literally, I quickly gave into the dreaded anxiety.
But instead of remembering that it all starts with a menacing thought, I just kept on thinking and second guessing whether my family would be safe or not, whether Albany, Georgia, would even be a city by morning. Thankfully I only focused on one city, though you might say this was selfish thinking, when so many lives were and still are at risk. But let’s face it, I am only human, and it was this focus that kept me from a complete melt down. Imagine if I had thought the Florida panhandle, Southwest Georgia and so on would be totally ruined, how my night might have gone. It could have been worse.
Make no mistake about it, it was bad. After a bit of frustration with the delayed progress of CNN and The National Weather Channel, I happened upon the local television station—WALB. Viola! At last I received consistent communications and interestingly my thoughts begin to calm down. It was in this instance that I, from the outside, could see how bad the storm, if you will, actually was and could then send my family, who are held up in secure areas of their houses, text messages telling them that though the Hurricane was still dangerous, it had gone from category four to three and then to two.
And when I got a few pings back, I had a big sigh of relief but not quite big enough. But it was enough relief to access my power tools for abating anxiety, which was well on its way to panic. The first tool for me happens to be prayer and it works a jewel but to be able to pray peacefully and mindfully, I have to do a bit of practical preparation, which leads to the second tool—shutting down my devices. How very practical.
You might remember in Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out that guest Nicola Morgan suggests signing off at least one hour and thirty minutes before going to bed even in the best times. And here I was in the worst of time, glued to WALB on my iPad. It was nearly 2 a.m.
So, I sent the last text to Daddy and sibs and off the devices went but admittedly, I did stash them nearby instead of in another room as advised. Then I commenced to prepare my mind. In our latest podcast, Rising Above Odds, Hannilee Fish talks about the importance of mindfulness, staying in the moment. So tactfully and gently I reminded myself that I was in London, England, in my bed and not in Albany, Ga, and none of these horrible things that I feared had actually happened.
And only then did I remember a hot tip from Eleanor Segall, our guest, from our second podcast, On Undiagnosed Mental Illness—talk to someone, don’t keep the stress bottled up. I looked over at Paul, who seemed asleep and decided against talking to him, so I talked to God. Good idea and found myself being grateful for the strength to support my family during a stormy time and the actual mental and physical capacity to take care of myself. Off to sleep I went if only for a couple of hours.
As I reflect upon the episodic night, I am so grateful to the women of UIO for sharing their experiences, the good and the bad. What a wonderful tool box to go to in the time of need. So glad I had it not only at my finger-tips but in my thoughts, too.
And the biggest lesson I learned had to do with managing me when I had no control of managing Hurricane Michael, precisely the tip from Cat Williams, guest of our next podcast coming up in late October, On Dating Inside Out. Author of Stay Calm and Content No Matter What Life Throws At You, Cat knows a thing or two about keeping cool in the eye of a storm, okay so I wasn’t in the eye, but it sure felt like it. Stay tuned!
As we launch the third podcast in our new series, Rising Above Odds, more research on matters related to young people has topped the news. Loneliness is felt more intensely by 16 to 24-year olds than any other group in the UK, according to a survey by BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust.
Rising Above Odds is timely indeed, offering tips on how to deal with any seemingly insurmountable situation. Loneliness, with the onslaught of emptiness that it brings, tends to cause feelings of hopelessness and despair.
The good news is that these feelings can be managed. Still, respondents who had more friends on Facebook, for example, than real life friends felt the forlornness more than others. Not surprisingly, this theme is consistent with the high use of social media but as pointed out in Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out, there is a healthy and happy medium for engaging in social media, including making new real friends. It’s not so much about spending too much time on social media as it is about spending too little time doing other things that matter such as reading, daydreaming, exercising and so on, according to our guest for the episode Nicola Morgan. The mind really does care about how we spend our time.
In addition, this week’s guest Hannilee Fish points out that every single person is valuable and worthy and suggests engaging in sports and practicing mindfulness to overcome any difficult situation. For more insight, listen on Itunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Soundcloud or Spotify or simply add a feedreader and subscribe to our rss feed to get UIO podcasts automatically.
Coming up in mid-October is On Dating Inside Out with Cat Williams, founder of Stay Calm and Content No Matter What Life Throws At You. Stay Tuned!
Have we got a podcast for you this week! The second of the new series, UIO: On Undiagnosed Mental Illness comes on the heels of the heart-breaking news about the rise in mental health challenges amongst teen girls throughout the country. Released in late August, a study by the University of York and The Children’s Society, suggested that nearly a fourth of 14-year-old girls in Britain had self-harmed in the past 12 months.
Though the podcast doesn’t exclusively focus on self-harm, it does look at what might be happening to cause a sharp increase in the mental health issues among girls. Our guest Eleanor Segall, campaigner and author, agreed that the problem feels a bit epidemic.
Even so, she believes there is hope. Sharing her personal story of suffering with bi-polar disorder, since age 15, Eleanor offers expert advice and first-hand tips on how to cope. One suggestion was to talk to someone at signs of anxiety and stress; don’t keep it bottled up. And for an exacerbated problem, see your GP, she stresses.
Our discussion underscored the importance of parental support as well as that of educators and other adults in society. Also, we discussed stigmas associated with mental illness. And though much progress has been made, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
To listen, download a feed reader and sign up for my rss feed here. Also, listen on iTunes, Spotify, Tunein, Stitcher and Soundcloud and check out our Twitter, Instagram or Facebook page, all @uiopodcast.
UIO: On Undiagnosed Mental joins a significant conversation about mental well-being and is a great tool for teen girls, boys too, and interested adults. Tune in two weeks for a continuation of Series 2 with Hannilee Fish, barrister and entrepreneur, to discuss Rising Above Odds. In today’s manic world, we could all do with a few pointers on that one. Do listen up.
The line-up for the new podcast series is looking great. We have some amazing guests coming up on various subjects, one of whom is Hannilee Fish, founder of Ikan Health, to talk with us about Rising Above Odds. I can think of no one better to interview about the subject than Hannilee, who readily shares experiences of a difficult youth and how she overcame. The podcast is slated to air in early October.
In the meantime, I have been thinking about times in my life when it felt like the odds were stacked against me. One that springs to mind goes well back to my teenage years, preparing for college, now known as university. A bright student, always in the top percentage of the class, though not the top 1% or anything like that, I could not crack standardised tests. There was something about them that left me numb. From the Psat to the SAT (scholastic aptitude test), I had scores that didn’t match with my grades at all. Not only were they lower than what would have been predicted for a student of my calibre, they weighed in highly for getting into a good school.
It seems that my smarts, personality and talent otherwise took a back seat to my lower than desired test scores. There went the idea of getting a higher education at a major university anyhow. After all, my peers were off to the big leagues. And for a girl who Aced her way through three grades of school and pretty much B’d her way through the rest, interestingly enough after integration, it was a hard pill to swallow. What were the odds that one of my dream schools would take me?
I would never find out, as I didn’t try given the peers who did get in had not only top notch grades but also really high test scores and no one encouraged me after the scores came out. Compared to my friends, I felt dumb, which took a toll on my self-esteem. But there was something inside of me that refused to give up.
So I enrolled in a Junior College, something I didn’t feel good admitting to years ago but when I look back now, I see that enrolling in any college was a game changer. From there, I went to Valdosta State University (VSU), where I received my BA in English/Journalism and later would achieve my MA in International journalism and here I am today, still not proud of my PSAT and SAT scores but how much do they matter in the big scheme of themes today?
Make no mistake about it, this is not suggesting a license to fob off tests but here is what I am saying. When the odds are stacked against you, there might be an opportunity hidden in the upset, the disappointment and so on and here is what worked for me.
- A change of mindset – while I had my mind set on the University of Georgia or something like that, it would never be but as soon as I realised that what really mattered was a good education and how I decided to perceive what was good or not good, I met some wonder professors/lecturers and made lifelong friends and contacts. Proud to be a VSU blazer graduate, as proud as any Bulldog, Georgia Bulldog that is.
- A willingness to abandon tradition, think outside of the box – Getting good grades that I could transfer worked in my favour. Maybe I didn’t go in through the front door, more like the side door, but I came out through the front, waving my mortarboard with my fellow graduates. That degree not only led to my MA but the opportunity to blaze new trails, like working at the Albany Herald, as its first female black reporter.
- A bit of new knowledge – Still shying away from standardised tests, I decided to find out why? Was it me or was it something bigger than me? Turns out it was a bit of both. There are people who are better test takers than others but research on the tests offered at the time showed that they were not designed for me and students like me, though some from a similar background made the grades. The majority of us didn’t, however. Later I would write an article for The Guardian on this very thing and one word that I know all too well now, regatta, turned up on the test. Is it a boat race, a bike race or a special picnic in the park? I am sure these were not the choices but the point is, I didn’t have a clue and why would I. In Southwest Georgia, we didn’t have regattas and still don’t and at the time I hadn’t been exposed to literature and history about the famous boat races, for example, between Oxford and Cambridge.
You live and you learn and that is part of what you have to do to rise above odds, as well as believe in yourself and champion the situation to pave the way for others. See it for what it is—a hurdle that can be jumped over with the right mindset, some out of the box thinking and a bit of knowledge. That’s all!