International Women’s Day Choose to Challenge

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.
Photo by Ibadah Mimpi via Pexels and Canva

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. 

Photo by Shirley Anstis. Taken at nearby sculpture park

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

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine's day
Happy Valentine’s Day

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

Quality time

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Gifts

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.

Journal 2021

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.

2021 journal
Back and Front cover of A4 journal with 50 writing prompts and 100 pages

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.

https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/shirley-anstis/journal-2021/paperback/product-ykkzdp.html?page=1&pageSize=4

A new year – Is there anything you’d like to change for 2012?


As I get older I really appreciate the opportunity of a new year.  It gives me a chance to reflect on how I spend my time, looking back, looking forward and in the present.We do not need to feel overwhelmed by setting unreachable goals.

 

It could simply be an opportunity to change our direction slightly.  This could be as simple as being more adventurous or having more fun or keeping in touch with more friends.

 

If we’ve had a difficult year, then maybe just keeping going is achievement enough.

 

 

A new year can be a chance to reconnect to our heart’s desire for our life.

 

If you have not read it yet, my book An A-Z for your life is a good way to start exploring different aspects of who you are and what you want from life.

 

For 2012, I would like to keep many things as they are but there are a few things I’d like to change.

For me:

  • More writing
  • Less over thinking
  • More exercising
  • Less rushing around
  • More meditation/quiet time

Is there anything you would like to change?

Please leave your comments below to share your hopes for 2012.  Thanks

A new year – looking back and looking forward

So here we are – 31st December 2010.  How has 2010 been for you?  For many of us it would have been filled with good and bad, things we can change and things we can’t.  Like many people I have achieved some things I desire but not others.   We may be the only people who truly know what we want to put in and get out of our life.

I come to the end of 2010 with great gratitude for the many things that have gone well.  I feel reasonably healthy and safe.  I have good relationships and the opportunity and potential to continue to develop my skills and talents in various areas.  I am really pleased I took the leap of faith to publish my first book, launching it in the U.K. and in the Caribbean.  In that respect I’ve felt the fear and done it anyway.

Individually we may have many hopes and fears for 2011.  Some things are within our power; others are not.   For me a new year is about maintaining what is working well and reducing what is not working.  I value my relationships and my health and will continue to do so.  I intend to take another leap and write and publish another book – more info in due course.  I intend to improve my practice around meditating, exercising and de-cluttering.  These areas impact my mind, body and spirit so they are important.

Have you had a chance to reflect on the passing year and consider what you would like more or less of in 2011?  What would you like to see/do/feel/experience?  Do let me know.

I also hope that leaders and those with power are able to have a positive impact on our lives.  Despite the various troubled spots in the world, people are generally peaceful and generous.

Peace and love to you and yours.  Happy New Year.