Reflections on a year in lockdownContinue Reading...
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This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘choose to challenge’ and as I sit here thinking of this there are so many challenges that come to mind. Women everywhere have had to challenge systems and expectations in order to live their lives.
I’m thinking of:
- Malala Yousafzai who challenged the traditional view of girls’ education in Pakistan.
- Brene Brown who is prepared to have those difficult conversations around shame and race.
- Baroness Doreen Lawrence who fought for justice after the murder of her son Stephen – challenging the persistence of institutional racism.
- US Vice President Kamala Harris for daringly running for President.
- The Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle, who in trying to stay sane and make a positive difference, is seen as challenging the Monarchy.
- Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Beyonce Knowles, Naomi Campbell and Charlene White for forging their own path.
- The many sisters, daughters, wives and mothers facing daily challenges.
Choosing to challenge is not an easy decision, there is often a cost. I know for myself and from my work as a counsellor that the pain of not challenging needs to be almost unbearable, so that challenging is seen as the best option. Few people challenge without cause. More often people adjust to suffering until they become unwell.
In my book, Black Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, 22 Stories of Passion Achievement and Success, you will encounter a group of women who are comfortable challenging systems and providing alternative perspectives. That is the nature of politics. They are motivated by their beliefs, values and political persuasion.
One way to challenge a system or role is to be the first woman to do that thing. You will read that Diane Abbott MP was the first Black woman to become a Member of Parliament. Helen Grant MP is the first mixed (Black and White) female Conservative MP. Chi Onwurah is Newcastle’s first Black and mixed Member of Parliament. Kim Johnson is the first Black MP in Liverpool. Claudia Webbe is the first female MP for Leicester East. Kim and Claudia became MPs in 2019 so this is not ancient history. There are many places in industry, law, medicine, arts and education that can be challenged by brave women wanting more.
In our everyday lives this could be standing up for a colleague or challenging inappropriate speech and behaviour in a loved one. It all requires courage. In surviving this pandemic many of us have had to dig deep and be more courageous than we’ve been before. We’ve been stronger and braver than we expected. We’ve also felt more vulnerable, and it takes courage to acknowledge that. Even introverts like myself have missed some social gatherings. We found out that we are imperfect and human!
When you look ahead to 2021 is there anything you need to challenge in yourself or your environment? I think many more of us now have an appreciation for the simple life. My challenge continues to be ‘less doing and more being’. Oh, and exposing my soul through my writing.
My book An A-Z for your life, discovering and revealing who you are today is a good place to start. Over to you.
This post is written to acknowledge the role of women in the world in honour of International Women’s Day 2021. The theme is #choosetochallenge. Co-ordinated by Attract Readers, https://www.attractreaders.com
Black MPs in the House of Commons.
An intriguing mix of success and struggle
Reading, Berkshire, January 2021
Envision Publishing announces the arrival of the paperback edition of Black Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, 22 Stories of Passion, Achievement and Success by Shirley Anstis. The book draws attention to the journeys of serving Black members of parliament: who they are, how they got there and their contributions so far.
The UK parliament is made up of 650 Members of Parliament. Of these, 22 are of Black British, African and Caribbean heritage, representing 3%. Despite this small number they are making an impact and can be seen as role-models for another generation who may not know of them or their work.
It comes highly recommended by leading Black political figures Lord Simon Woolley and David Lammy MP.
‘I love this book. It’s simple, straight forward and yet at the same time fantastically complex. Above all, though it is wonderfully inspiring.’ Lord Simon Woolley in the Foreword
This is the first book of its type and captures a moment in time. The data covers the events of the recent past so MPs are quoted on the impact of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Windrush Scandal, Black Lives Matter and many more. Every October we have Black History Month in the UK and schools are unsure how to approach it, with many ignoring it altogether. Lockdown has given many people an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the unique experiences of different parts of society. This book educates and informs adults and young people at a time when everyone wants to know more and be an ally. 2021 is the year to follow through on the hopes of 2020.
Having worked with young people for 10 years Shirley Anstis knows how much they long to see successful people who look like them. By highlighting these 22 individuals Shirley Anstis gives the reader an insight into other successful people to expand their horizons and the future they desire for themselves.
Some of these parliamentarians have dedicated their lives to party politics and representation whilst others have recently transitioned from a different career path. There are many ‘firsts’ included here. These include Diane Abbott as the first Black female MP, Helen Grant as the first mixed female Conservative MP and Kwasi Kwarteng as the First Black African Conservative MP.
‘A fascinating collection of personal stories, struggles and successes….it inspires us to fight for more.’ David Lammy
‘Black MPs in the House of Commons…’ has been extensively researched using the House of Commons database Hansard. Media interviews and MPs own social media provide many opportunities to get quotes from them. This is not a critique but a celebration of people doing their best to act in accordance with their beliefs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shirley Anstis MA., BSc. is an integrative counsellor in England. For more than 10 years she has been supporting her clients to work through their stories and live the life they envision. As a Careers Adviser she witnessed many young people struggling to find role models to give them hope for a successful future. Her other books: ‘An A-Z for your Life, Discovering and revealing who you are today’, and ‘They Call Me…A look at nicknames in the Caribbean island of Grenada’, explore aspects of identity. Having lived in the Caribbean and the U.K. Shirley is aware of the complexity of our stories and explores this in her therapeutic writing workshops. Sample more of her writing on www.livingbeingdoing.com and contact her here for interviews, talks and collaborations.
We are living in a time that is adding pressure to so many relationships. Friendships and relationships are private affairs witnessed by others. Some of us have had more time to reach out to the people we care about and others have had less time. We all give and desire a different level of support to those in our personal lives.
Valentine’s Day is whatever you want it to be. It can be a day to remember those you have loved who are no longer here. You may also remember those you loved, who brought something wonderful into your life for a time. You may think of the ones you love now, a love that has endured through challenges. Perhaps you’ve found a new love in this difficult time.
As well as giving to others we also need to remember to look after ourselves. Loving ourselves with all our flaws may be the most challenging love of all.
There are 5 love languages and this helps us to know how we show love to those in our lives and how we let others know what we experience as an act of love. The idea is that we have a primary or preferred way of giving and receiving love. Once we know this the key is to communicate that to those we love.
The 5 love languages are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Consider which is your primary love language and how that shows up in your life. We’ve had to make many adjustments over the past 12 months. If holidays and hugs were your main ways of showing love then you’ll be particularly challenged by all the lockdowns. Perhaps you’ve had more quality time and now value this a bit more. Or maybe like me you’ve been using online shopping for those little gifts to keep you going.
Please comment below and share how lockdown has impacted how you give and receive love.
I’ve added my love of photography to my work in ‘writing as therapy’ and created a journal for 2021. You’re welcome to try it too. It has a writing prompt, space for what you’re thankful for, how you plan to look after yourself and any goals you have for 50 weeks of the year.
You can be as focused or as vague as you like , just the weekly reflection should be useful. It’s my first journal so I’m excited to try it and to hear how you find it on Lulu here. Start the year with intentionality and positivity.
Black British Members of Parliament in the House of Commons
22 mini biographies of serving Black MP’s, including well-known names and many groundbreakers. Be inspired by their dedication and achievement, succeeding against the odds. They are all different and represent the Conservative and Labour parties. Some have been around for many years and others only entered parliament in 2019.
Meet your representatives and read what they are trying to do with the opportunities they now have. You will be inspired by some and may be annoyed by others. Find out more by ordering your copy today https://amzn.to/37YVSLt
There are lots of horrible things happening in the world at present and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. I believe each of us have a part to play in bringing about a better world.
Join me for the fourth in this series of online writing workshops where we will look forward and try to write the future you would like to create, for yourself and others.
Please book early to avoid disappointment – spaces are limited to make it comfortable for everyone. Look forward to connecting with you.
Reflecting on the Black and minority experience around cover-19, police killings, no justice, Black Lives Matter, White privilege, learning, listening….Continue Reading...
I’m surprised by the women (and men) I speak to who often see themselves as half empty and lacking something. They compare themselves to what they view as perfect lives online and decide that they are not good enough.
The problem is our peer group has greatly evolved over the last decade or so.
In the past, our peer group were people like us who lived in our communities or geographical area. They would have similar lifestyles to us.
But we now compare ourselves in a global space, with great disparities in wealth and power, to people who have vastly different lifestyles to us. They are the tiny percent who are wealthy, beautiful and celebrated. We damage our self-esteem if we constantly compare ourselves to these people and find ourselves lacking. They can help to motivate us in small ways, but our aim cannot be to become them. There is only one of you and one of me, with our very own strengths and weaknesses. Human beings are imperfect.
We do well to acknowledge all that we have learnt and experienced in our very unique life. Awareness of who we are helps us to make the best decisions. Denial of who we are encourages us to make bad decisions.
With so many examples of success in the world it can seem that it comes easily to some. I know from my training, my work and myself that we all have struggles, although these may not be visible or made public. (On the plus side, we get to see so many different ways of living a successful life and can step towards one that resonates with us).
Talk to the people in your life and ask them how they’re doing. You may find many are struggling with something. 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 8 young people will have a mental health problem.
As we acknowledge #Timetotalk let’s reconnect to people in our circle, speak our truth, listen to theirs, and be non-judgemental.
There’s a lot to be said for simple appreciation and encouragement. As we give so we receive. Everyone benefits from a kinder world. Judge less, listen more. Let me know what you think by commenting below. Thank You.