God has created you to be one of a kind. You are a unique, special person. Your uniqueness can inspire, influence and help someone else; it is your unique selling point.
Sometimes it can be tough to recognise and stand in our uniqueness, especially when we live in a world that encourages us to fit in. More often than not, having an opinion different from other people puts you on dangerous ground. Cancel culture is real. Even so, you must embrace everything that makes you unique.
I used to struggle with this. Throughout my life, people have commented that I am “complex”, “difficult to understand” and “strong-minded”. These statements were made as negatives about me. Many years ago I suffered from low self-esteem and confidence. At the time, I thought this meant there was something wrong with me. Now, as I have got older, grown in confidence and embraced myself wholeheartedly, I see the way I am as a blessing. It is good to be different.
If you struggle with embracing your uniqueness, I want to share with you 4 tips on how to start.
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Have you got an idea? Something you want to do but not acted on? or have you had an idea and not wrote it down? I’m here to tell you that your idea is valuable. You need to bring your ideas to life.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that everything I have developed, designed and created started from an idea. At first, I wasn’t good at bringing my ideas to reality. As I grew in self-belief and had the courage to take action, I saw how my confidence grew. The results of acting on my ideas have been amazing.
As is the nature of ideas, some will be successful others may fail. However, as you grow accustomed to the cycle of bringing your ideas to life you will embrace the process.
I am always capturing my ideas. I have ideas that come to me in bed at night as I’m going to sleep (I quickly write them on the notepad on my phone) or on post-it notes (a box full of them!) and I have notebooks of ideas. I’m an idea-o-holic! lol!
Interesting fact: Do you know an idea only stays in your head for five seconds? According to the scientists, that is the amount of time you have to capture it before it disappears from your memory!
Many people get put off by the idea of acting upon their idea because well, its an idea. But what if you captured that idea (wrote it down) and dared to act on it?
Everything around you started with an idea. The lightbulb you have in the lamp. The computer you work on. Even the selfie stick! Be inspired by the things around you. Be encouraged by those that have gone before you.
If you are thinking of acting on an idea, I would love to hear from you how you are making progress. I know you will do great!
Cheering you on, Yvonne
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The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s life in some way or another. Life as we know it has changed. All my best-laid plans have gone to pot. When life hands you lemons what can you do?
I must admit the first couple of weeks were tricky. The realisation of what this pandemic could possibly mean for my newfound business was difficult. Alongside managing a new workday routine and homeschooling my daughter, dealing with all the sudden changes has been a task in itself. But as time has gone on (give or take a few up and down days) I have got into a new rhythm of life. As a matter of fact, I have used this time in quarantine to work on some amazing things. I look forward to sharing them with you soon. So what have I learnt from this coronavirus curveball that has come my way? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
Rather than focus on things outside my control I am actively doing things that will further develop and strengthen me, my family and business. I am finishing projects and creating new products. I’m reading great books, enjoying family time and planning my next moves.
I know for many people fear is ever-present concerning financial security, employment and what the world will look like post-pandemic (I have these concerns too). But one thing life has taught me is you can add nothing to a situation by worrying. I choose to remain optimistic. I hope and pray you can also do the same.
So today I encourage you to make lemonade with your lemons. Use this time to start that project you have put off for a long time. Invest in self-care and pamper yourself. Take up a new hobby or learn something new.
If you are a self-employed/entrepreneur you may find my video ‘8 things entrepreneurs can do during Covid-19’ (below) helpful on things you can do during this time to strengthen your business. Also if you are finding it hard to mentally get going, my video ‘fight the mental slump’ may be of encouragement to you (see below).
Life will always bring the unexpected. But you can choose to rise above its challenges. You may surprise yourself and find that you exceed your own expectations.
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18 Cheering you on Yvonne
I had the great privilege of attending the Women Appreciating Women awards. The event is a celebration of women that are positively contributing to society. I was nominated by a lovely lady for the work I have been doing over the last decade, empowering survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I have never won an award before. Women Appreciating Women is my first one.
Over 100 women attended the event. Women of all races, nationalities and backgrounds were present. Some travelled from their home countries to attend. All the women were offered an opportunity to be interviewed on camera. I was nervous when it came to my turn but nevertheless, I completed the interview. Afterwards, I enjoyed the drinks reception.
Doctor Pauline Long, is Founder of Women Appreciating Women and a Philanthropist. It is clear from many conversations had during the course of the evening, that she is highly respected and well thought of. Moreover, her passion for empowering women was evident in her speech. The theme for this year awards was ‘she must-win’. Dr Long encouraged us as women to push through challenges and be the best we can be.
Dr Long interviewed a selection of women. She asked what inspired them to make a difference. Each story was unique, but a common theme stood out; a desire for change. Adversity, hardship, discrimination and injustice was significant in their vision to achieve extraordinary things. It was truly inspirational.
I had a lovely three-course meal. Besides receiving my lovely award. The D.J played some great throwback music (80’s Madonna and Whitney, I loved it!). Through conversation, I learned women are making a difference through a range of interesting careers. I met a Councillor and award-winning Indian drummer.
The atmosphere was really special. I left the event feeling proud and inspired to continue to do great things. Indeed, the event reminded me of why it is important that we are celebrated. I am a proverbs 31 woman; a wife, mother and businesswoman. Also, I am a leader and a world changer. It is okay to be all these things. My gender does not define my potential. Nor will I let other peoples limitations define me. So, therefore, I will continue to dream big and fly high. After all, she must-win.
Discipline the key to success. As we begin the start of a new decade, it is the perfect time to set new goals. This is the year to have the courage to go for the things you really want. In whatever you are trying to do: lose weight, build your business, develop new habits or save money. Discipline is the key to success because it will take you to the next level.
I was reflecting on my achievements last year. As I sat looking at my vision board at things I have and yet to achieve, the common theme to reach my goals, dreams and aspirations is discipline.
I must admit I have struggled with discipline. But over the last few weeks as I have spent time studying and applying what I have learned to my life. I am already reaping great benefits that include a changed mindset and more focus.
Discipline is a mindset habit. It has to be developed and involves being intentional in the things you set out to do. Show up and commit whether you feel like it or not. It requires focus.
It is not a word that naturally makes people jump for joy, because most people associate the word discipline with rigid rules. But there is no escaping it. Sooner or later it must come into the equation in all that you do; if you want to achieve your goals, dream and aspirations.
Medicine tastes unpleasant but is required to feel better. Certainly the same applies to discipline. It must be applied to produce positive results. Here are five tips to help you.
Goals are essential part of planning for your life. It is not the number of goals you have, it is about accomplishing the goal set. One goal is better than none. Write them down, make it manageable. It does not mean make it easy! Set a time frame for your goal to be completed. Hold yourself accountable.
Have a routine
Plan your day. Maybe do it the night before if it helps. Do not drift aimlessly. You are setting the framework of discipline. Planning tools such as a diary or wall planner are really helpful.
Just do it
Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today because this is where procrastination creeps in. We have all done this at some point in life, but to develop discipline you must take action.
Hold yourself accountable
Conduct daily and weekly check-ins. Have you done what you said you would do? If not why? Hold yourself accountable. Reflect on progress. It will help you keep an eye on yourself. Write it down in a diary or journal what is and isn’t working. Make adjustments if necessary.
Make the medicine of discipline easier to swallow. No matter how big or small acknowledge your achievements. A reward is part of success.
I went through a period of discouragement this year. I lacked focus, I was inconsistent in doing things that I had planned and I second-guessed myself. After much reflection, I identified the reason why I felt discouraged; unmet (and unrealistic) expectations, fatigue and focusing on things outside of my control.
As a new entrepreneur sixteen months into a new way of life, I have discovered that discouragement is part and parcel of the journey into the unknown. It is very difficult when you are doing things you have not done before. It can leave you wondering if you are on the right track, especially when you are on such an individual journey. Yes, there are some things that entrepreneurs commonly experience, but each journey is personal.
It is important to recognise the signs of discouragement because it can lead to negative thoughts. I was able to see the positive in my experience and I became a stronger and more resilient woman. I want to share with you 3 things that helped me get my groove back.
I am building a new business, I am a Wife and Mother, Founder of a charitable organisation, and many other things. I juggle many different balls and work long hours in between working for clients and managing my home. It is very easy to always be on the go, bouncing from one task to the next. I have found this not a productive thing to do. A change is as good as a rest as they say. Now when I am tired or worn down I am not afraid to say “this can wait”. It is amazing how taking rest can refresh your mind; It gave me a different perspective on things.
Focus on the positive
What I found helpful was reminiscing on my achievements and this encouraged me because at one point they seemed impossible. This helped me refocus on my long-term vision and goals. I made time each day to engage in activities that I love. This helped me to feel encouraged again.
One of the biggest contributors to my season of discouragement was focusing on things outside of my control. It is very easy to think that you have to be in control of everything as an entrepreneur. It is true that I have a certain responsibility to “make things happen”. I am only in charge to an extent. I have learned to let go and let God.
There is always something to learn from all experiences. Discouragement “shall pass”. Do not give up. Recognise it for what it is, part of a process to building you.
I attended the NatWest reunion event at the Tripod in Brixton. It was an opportunity for those of us that completed the program to catch up and network. Also to meet people that support BAME entrepreneurs and businesses. I was part of a group of entrepreneurs from black, minority and ethnic backgrounds that learnt the basics of starting a business. Over the course of 8 weeks through a mixture of workshops and online learning.
Sharniya Ferdinand, Natwest inclusion coordinator worked hard to put the program and event together, she did a fantastic job. It was encouraging to hear Izzy Obeng and Darren Tenkorbeng share their stories about their entrepreneurial journey. What they have achieved through perseverance and hard work is inspirational and just goes to show what passion for a vision can achieve. I noticed throughout the evening in the conversations I had with fellow entrepreneurs this was a common thread; hard work, passion and commitment to succeed is the fuel that is propelling our dreams.
Two entrepreneurs from the program did a pitch about their business in 60 seconds and they were so good! Admittedly I am still trying to perfect my pitch but I am getting there. I think it fantastic for Natwest bank to recognise the value of BAME business by putting together resources to empower us. I have been to quite a few of the events that include events for women in business and have found them to be really informative.
Finally, it is important to ‘Fall in love with the problem, not the solution’. That was the motto of the NatWest program. In doing this entrepreneur program it has empowered me to think of new ways of engaging with potential customers. For example, how I build products and services to accommodate their needs. Also how I engage with them, what do they prefer? These are important factors in what will help my company to be effective in its reach and growth. I have already actively put in place aspects of what I have learned and I will be implementing the rest as I go along. This has been an important part of my business journey and it will be interesting to see in a year time the progress of my business. No doubt I am in a much better position for being a part of this program.
My new book Choose life was released yesterday and I am so excited to reveal it. Choose life is an awareness and empowerment practical self-help workbook for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I wrote this book for a number of reasons.
During my journey to healing from sexual abuse, I only came across a handful of self-help books on this topic, and only a couple of books that had been actually written by a survivor. I was inspired to write this book because, during the countless conversations I have had over the last 20 years talking with friends, peers and colleagues that had been sexually abused, and specifically over the last 8 as Founder of Daughter Arise supporting survivors, I realised not everyone is ready to acknowledge their experience. Support groups, therapy and speaking with someone are all a good idea, but the fact is a huge percentage of survivors find the prospect of speaking out completely overwhelming. So with that in mind, I created a book that would help them to start to process their experience in the privacy of their own home.
So what does my new book Choose Life comprises of? Well, it has information and education on what sexual abuse is, how it can affect someone’s life. I discovered how sexual abuse is viewed in certain communities and the challenges this presents in addressing the issue. I share my view on what I think could start to break down the stigma and present some workable solutions. It has practical exercises devised by me inspired by me from my time as a support group facilitator creating empowerment sessions for survivors and things that helped me on my journey to recovery. It also has affirmations, declarations, diary entries from a specific period in my life and poems. This book can be used as a resource for organisations and groups that work with sexual abuse survivors.
I have written this book as someone that has gone through sexual abuse and made it to the other side of a 29-year journey to healing. I have never written an educational or self-help book before. It was a completely different experience from writing my autobiography Daughter Arise. It was challenging in a good way and it stretched me outside of my comfort zone. I am not a counsellor or an expert in the field of sexual abuse, but I have successfully brought solutions to others. This has resulted in the betterment of lives and I have successfully managed to live a life not defined by past sexual abuse.
The vision I have for this book is to have it released in different languages so that it can reach sexual abuse survivors across the earth. That in countries, islands and villages where there is no support of any kind, they can at least find hope or help from my book. If my book Choose life can simply help or empower one survivor, or give others a better understanding then my book will accomplish its aim.
Choose life available is available on the store page
It started off as the ‘norm’ but ended up being the exception. I left the comfort zone of having a paid job working for an employer to take a step of faith and risk to carve out my own company. It has been 9 months since I embarked on this journey and many people thought I was crazy, but this decision made total sense to me. It has been a year of transition on all fronts: career-wise and personally; change has developed my character. Now that does not mean it has not been challenging, it certainly has.
As my own boss financially I have had to learn to make my own way and think on my feet about how to maintain my family financial priorities, invest in my business and support my charity organisation, Daughter Arise. It has helped me to think about money in a different way and I am learning more about business. I am taking baby steps but I am slowly learning and growing, something I never experienced in my ‘comfort nest’. This has been necessary for me to get to the next stage of developing myself and vision.
On a personal level, I have had to do new things in order to introduce YEME Empowerment to people. I am good at doing the online stuff: youtube videos, blogs, etc but putting myself out amongst people has required me to push through my inner introvert. It’s strange really: I am totally comfortable giving talks and doing training workshops, but find it challenging doing networking events! I have started to attend networking events and take more of an interest in Linkedin. I also recognise that I need to have more of a social media presence and that is something I will focus on in 2019. These things I am not naturally at ease with doing. I had to ask myself the question what is more important: building my vision or doing what I am comfortable with? I did not think twice about the answer. Building YEME and making it a success is my priority so I will push past any internal barriers to reach my goal.
Besides learning about business and overcoming shyness, the transition has shaped my mindset. I think about things more from a long-term aspect rather than just the here and now. What do I need to do to develop myself? How do I maintain consistency? There are layers and stages of transformation and transition. I am learning about these stages from books, mentors, videos and people that inspire me to ‘break the norm, not be the norm’. To achieve things that have never been done before there is a process you go through and learning it and applying those changes to my life has been the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done.
The transition stage is like standing in the middle of a bridge. I am nowhere near where I left from but still far from my destination; I am transforming whilst not knowing where my journey will take me. There are no straight roads or plans on this journey to transition. Sure I have 1,3 and 5-year goals that I want to achieve but seldom things happen in a straight line, I have found that to be the case so far. No matter what happens I am sure this transition phase will bring growth, reflection and adventure; it is where amazing things happen.
I attended my first networking event last Saturday. I attempted to network twice before but cancelled, so I decided it was time to face my fears. Armed with my newfound courage, business cards and Lauren Messiah advice on how introverts should dress for networking events (according to Lauren, a Fashion stylist on Youtube, dressing in something that stands out helps people to initiate a conversation with you). I ventured out at 6.20am to Training Kings Christian Network business breakfast in Kensington with the hopes of connecting with other like-minded people.
The day did not get off to a good start. I left my ticket at home because I decided not to bring my purse (only bank card and change). I got to my destination tube station on time but I could not find the hotel (I am notoriously bad with directions!)
Besides having a really nice breakfast, I really enjoyed the event. I got to meet other business owners and those about to embark on the journey to starting their own business. I found it encouraging listening to their stories of stepping out into the unknown world of starting a business, their journey to finding their purpose and the passion they conveyed when talking about what they do.
The guest speaker, Susan Jacobs, a wealth consultant spoke about steps to creating wealth and how this can be applied to our business. Hearing her presentation got me thinking more strategically about how I am going to bring in income as a new company owner. I also learned that networking for business is imperative if I want my business to grow, as I could potentially be engaging with people that want to use YEME Empowerment services. I came away from the event inspired with a changed mindset towards networking and I plan is to attend their future events.
Would I network again? most definitely, as a matter of fact, I have another event to attend on August 29th. It might be a totally different experience but the social awkwardness that became my fear in attending networking events has gone. It was a day of many firsts as I also did my very first vlog (that was an interesting experience!) and interviewed my first guest.
What I also learnt is fear starts in the mind and that it is only when we face the reality of whatever we fear that it can be dispelled. I may have let other possible opportunities pass me by but not anymore. My first networking event was a success and I plan to build on it.