I am delighted to have been asked to be Editor of GRIT and to help support the Women Empowered community. I believe words have the power to change lives. You can change someone’s point of view, their aspirations and even their beliefs. If you have a passion, an inspirational story or a cause that’s close to your heart then we want to hear from you. GRIT is our monthly newsletter where the WE Community share their experiences. Our contributors come from all backgrounds and walks of life and some have never written before. This is your opportunity to have your say and read about the things in life that aren’t often talked about, but probably should be. Words have the power to change lives. And WE can’t wait to hear yours.
This month we want to thank our contributors for their honest and thought-provoking articles on how they faced difficult challenges and the ‘life lessons’ they took from these experiences to make them stronger.
Next month’s GRIT is on the topic of parenthood. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing parents today? Has parenting changed from when you were growing up? Do you believe there are different ‘rules’ for raising girls and boys? Share your views on parenting and what you think is the most important advice to pass on to our sons and daughters. Please send your article on ‘What should we tell our children?’ (400-700 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org before 20th March 2018.
WE look forward to hearing from you.
The biggest life lesson I have learnt is to stop beating myself up about the past. I have had to face my past, own it and deal with it. And then I have had to learn how to move on. The past no longer hurts me, it’s just a story now.
As a teenager I was stalked and then groomed. The scars on my back from the attacks I suffered are now covered by a large wings tattoo so my young daughter cannot see the scars of my past. It was a heart breaking time.
Today I empower others by teaching them that it’s not OK to accept abuse as love. I teach others to love themselves and have boundaries so they do not feel vulnerable and become targets. I also teach them how it is possible to move on and accept the past and not let it define them.
I strongly believe mindsets need to change so I have chosen to share my story globally. Nationally, I have been honoured to have done great speeches alongside Nazir Afzal OBE and human rights activist, Mandy Sanghera for The University of Nottingham and Forced Marriage Unit (film to be released soon). I have also spoken with Jasvinder Sanghera CBE at the WOW (Women of the World) Festival and with Polly Harrar at the Sharan Project. I’m also on the New Karma Nirvana Survivor Program.
I went live on Zee TV to talk about my abuse, in the hope that others will not suffer in silence and seek help. There are now new laws in the UK with regards to forced marriage and controlling behaviour and lots of support is available. People just need more awareness and education.
I have changed my name to Sunny Angel and I speak out so I can save other victims and potential victims from suffering like I did. I have changed my life around for the positive, and today l let my list of happy moments grow.
For more information please visit my website www.sunny-angel.com
I have been on a personal journey of depression for around five years (perhaps even longer?) I suffered during the peak of my career, at a very early age and when everything was going in my favour. Something took place in my life and it altered my existence. It is difficult to say exactly how and when I started to suffer from depression but before I realised what it was I had already committed a series of errors and misjudgements and was heavily swamped with anxiety and insecurity. The more I tried to fight it, the more I drowned. My personality, mood and behaviour all changed and most importantly I changed…but not for the better.
I tried to deal with it by desperately trying to snap out of it and by seeking all sorts of help. I don’t even remember how my days converted into weeks and weeks into months and months became years. Life tested me to the extent that I would walk outside in the rain without an umbrella, tears rolling down my eyes and blending in with the rain on my face, just so that I could feel the shock of the cold water. I reached a point where I couldn’t take it any longer and I even had persistent thoughts about ending my life.
Then one day I decided enough was enough. I made a decision that from this day I would face everything with a smile. That day changed me and that one thought from inside of me, changed everything. There were still testing times but I found I had acquired patience. I no longer felt the need to hurt, my words became kinder and my confidence started to take shape again.
The depression took a lot out of me but having come out the other side, without medication, has made me realise the beauty and the science behind this thing we call our ‘MIND’. Now, whenever I see similar signs in someone else, I know how much they are suffering and have become more forgiving towards them.
Some people are depressed, while others are just mean. Now I know how to differentiate between the two and for anyone who knows me, I will always be there for them. I see so much pain and suffering around me and I wonder why talking about mental health is such a taboo in our society. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We should be able to talk freely and openly about this without being judged.
My biggest life lesson through all of this has been to learn to just be in the moment and give your best. You will hit obstacles in your life but if you try to resist, not only does it persist, but it will also grow in size. If you want to make something disappear from your life, you need to stop feeding it and start fighting against it.
I suffered in silence without much help and now I wish to spread awareness about mental health. I have summoned the courage to organise a charity event via which I can support the cause and to help drive home the message that this is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you would like to join me in my efforts to do please visit www.vimmidhillon.com
I am aware that some readers may have further questions about my journey. I welcome email messages and will endeavour to respond as fully as I am able to each query.
The thing I have started to learn about myself is that I do myself no favours by spending too much time thinking about where I am in life. Why? Well, because if I think too long, I just compare my life to those around me: friends, family, work associates. Sometimes, when I’m not busy with work, family life or social engagements, I allow the enemy (my own thoughts) to allow me to doubt the path I have taken. You know that old saying, “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop?” I can definitely attest to that. Fortunately, I’ve learned my true value, and inevitably am able to ‘shake’ myself back into the reality. My life experience so far has taught me 5 valuable life lessons:
- My past mistakes do not define me
Sometimes I dwell on my past but then my positive mind reminds me that the past will never return. You cannot allow whatever happened in your past to reside in your future. Every moment in the past, has already gone. Therefore, you have the opportunity to learn from those decisions, and move forward to make better decisions in the present and future.
- Surround yourself with like-minded and positive people
Over the course of my life, like anyone else, I have had my fair share of ‘frenemies’. People who have lied or been intentionally insincere. The fact is, you can’t fault people for being human. However you can be wise and learn to navigate through unhealthy friendships/ relationships, and go full throttle on the good ones. There is no shame in wanting positivity and peace of mind in your life.
- Others do not have the power to hurt you or control your feelings.
This is really important for me. I’ve learnt not to let what people say to me determine how I feel during the day, and about myself. Experience has slowly taught me to take my power back. It’s my choice whether I want to be happy or not.
- Just because I have a goal, doesn’t mean I will reach it.
It also doesn’t make me a failure. I was convinced that I would have met many goals in my life by now. I would have a great career/business, own a private jet, make millions, be a super model, have the perfect body, raise a child genius, be the perfect wife/mother/sister/ daughter, have my own TV show, write a book and so on! I’d planned to be a lot of things but you know what? I’ve hardly achieved any from that list. However, I have achieved so much. I might not be where I would like, but my life is a testament of growth; mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. The fact that I can look at myself, and see the maturity in my life is enough.
- I deserve the right to be confident.
In my head I’m as delicate as a flower, but as strong and fierce as a lioness. It is because of all of my ‘life’ experiences; some good, some challenging (never bad) that I am confident in myself and in my abilities. Life happens and we must embrace the twists and turns. As the saying goes…’If life throws you lemons, make lemonade!’
To conclude, speak only of the positive, be joyful, be confident, and strive to be happy every day. Look in the mirror; tell yourself you are beautiful, even if you don’t feel it sometimes. We are all strong, intelligent, wise and simply fabulous. There’s nothing more life-changing than that!
I have had many life lessons, and if I am honest, and I am still learning every day. Sometimes I repeat the same ‘errors’ until life forces me to change my approach. And these lessons have not always been gentle ones.
Life Lesson 1 – Become Cinderella
Being a creative, I have a tendency to act spontaneously and in waves. I prefer to work to my own time schedule and when I feel inspired. This means that when I am immersed in a project I love, I get deeply involved – sometimes to the exclusion of everything else, and can sit up all night working ‘in the flow.’
However, this has a downside. Sometimes I feel like I want to ‘shut off’ for a few days and have no motivation to do anything. There is nothing worse than feeling burned out, no matter how productive I may have been. They say sleep deprivation can destroy brain cells, which is definitely something that I would prefer to retain, so subsequently I have learned to self-check and moderate myself. I now make a concerted effort to sleep relatively early at least 3 nights a week, with 10.30pm being my Cinderella cut off point. Now when I wake I feel refreshed – rather than wired and sluggish.
Life Lesson 2 – Find the right balance
It’s great to be driven by enthusiasm, as I try to get things done in a shorter period of time. However, my enthusiasm can also distract me from doing certain essential (mundane) things on time – such as paying bills, doing paperwork, getting my car washed, and general admin. I have learned the hard way that it is essential to keep the balance – so that everything can be done concurrently – and that there is no added stress, knowing that I need to catch up with certain things.
Life Lesson 3 – Use tedious jobs as stepping stones
As a film maker, I produce large scale projects which involve meticulous detail – verging on the tedious at times. I generally find it cumbersome to sit behind a computer all day making calls and doing work that I do not consider to be ‘creative’. However I have learned, that if I see these things as stepping stones and commit myself to being efficient in these areas – then the creative process can actually be more fun.
Life Lesson 4 – Learn to delegate
Looking back if I could have done anything differently, I would have learned to effectively delegate tasks to others much earlier on and not put so much pressure on myself to achieve. I now know how to guide others to support my vision and have slowly learned to delegate and trust that someone else can do the job the way I would like it to be done, and possibly even better.
Life Lesson 5 – Do not procrastinate
Through my work as a conference and event organiser, I have learned that it is crucial to remove the word (and behaviour of) procrastination from how you work. Human nature can be fickle however the more time we allocate to spend on a task, the greater the chance of success which ultimately reduces stress and creates clarity. There have been times I have missed the boat because I haven’t spent enough time planning. So I have learned to rectify this behavioural trait through conscious application of time management techniques.
Life Lesson 6 – Maintain a calm approach
One area that has given me a great deal of insight into myself are my many years of hands on experience as a Holistic Specialist. Before I ventured into the holistic profession I constantly needed external stimulation to keep me motivated. Through learning how to work with my energy, yoga and meditation, I am now able to work more effectively with my clients and also maintain a calm approach to all my other work.
Everything in life is changeable, including our life experiences, but ultimately it is our habits and the lessons we learn from life that shape us.
Do you want to write for GRIT?
Each article needs to be submitted to email@example.com on the 20th of the preceding month (eg an article for June should be submitted by 20th May). The newsletter will go out on the 5th of each month to our subscribers and will be uploaded on our website and our social media will direct to it.
All submissions should be between 400-700 words. They can be written in the first person where appropriate. They will be edited for content to ensure suitability. Please ensure they are verified with source if it contains factual content. If the topic is personal then please ensure that you have been mindful of others where appropriate and ensure your account is as accurate as possible. Articles submitted will be chosen at the discretion of the editor. Please also be sure to include a photo and your name as you would like to be credited (title / position etc if applicable)
2018 GRIT Topics
APRIL GRIT – What should we tell our children?
What are the biggest challenges facing parents today? Has parenting changed from when you were growing up? Do you believe there are different ‘rules’ for raising girls and boys? Share your views on parenting and what you think is the most important advice to pass on to our sons and daughters.
MAY – WE event
Don’t miss this month’s WE speaker event. More details to follow.
JUNE GRIT – Health Awareness
Can you help raise awareness of any medical condition? Has your life been touched by a major illness such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or mental health? Please share your story, or health-related advice, so others can benefit from your experience.
JULY/AUG – SUMMER SPECIAL GRIT – Business know-how
Read our business advice, tips and success stories from our WE community.
SEPTEMBER GRIT – The world in which we live
What is your passion? Do you champion the homeless, care for the environment, teach or share skills to help benefit others? Are you involved in a charity, your local community or politics? Tell us how the world in which you live has shaped the person you have become and why you became involved in whatever cause you feel passionate about.
OCTOBER – WE event
Don’t miss this month’s WE speaker event. More details to follow.
NOVEMBER GRIT – No-one ever talks about…
Please share your views and thoughts on any topic which you feel is not discussed often enough and that you would like to raise awareness of.
DECEMBER GRIT – Looking back on 2018
A review of our highlights over the past 12 months featuring our most popular 2018 contributors.
WE needs YOU!
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