February 2014 – Post Archive

Tuesday 25th February 2014
Ditch you Barriers and Question your Opportunities

Posted by: JyBareBeginnings

It interests me how readily people stop themselves in their tracks by honing in on Barriers, Obstacles and/or Challenges.  (More on Opportunities later.)

I hear these words in the office every day. And I see them in training blurb and in business/change management books.  Along with equally disagreeable phrases such as dealing with resistance to change. This approach speaks of an expectation of failure and, especially in the latter case, constructs a reality where people are problematic.

Thinking this way – about barriers and other such business buzz words – is a habit, a tradition – something that people sustain because tradition equates to comfort. There are other reasons people continue such traditions; perhaps to conform – believing conformity ensures acceptance and success – or because they’ve learned a way of behaving/speaking from a source deemed reputable and knowledgeable.  We’re very good at respecting the voice of authority. Few people question what the men in white coats say. People that are accustomed to this habit sometimes tell me – usually with All Due Respect – that looking for barriers is essential.

I disagree.

Analysing barriers isn’t conducive to success. In my experience, a focus on all that is wrong – or could go wrong – inhibits progress, drains motivation and perpetuates a cycle of failure.

Given that we can’t predict the future, what is achieved by asking “what barriers do I foresee?” Do we need to identify them so that we can put them across our path? Are we considering barriers that others will put in our way?  If so, there are limits on what we can predict about the behaviours of others.

What I (and Appreciative Inquiry) propose instead is to consider where you’re heading. Ask:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What does success look like?
  • What will things be like?
  • How will life be improved?

And, in thinking about how to get there, ask:

  • When have I achieved things like this before?  How did I do it?
  • What strengths/skills will help me?
  • Are there other skills that would be useful?  Who could help?
  • What are the smaller tasks I can break this down into?
  • What can I do right now to get started?

Focus on the outcome that you want – not the problem that stops you getting there.

For example: don’t seek to “tackle poverty” – seek to work with the community to “create a prosperous society” (prosperity being about much more than money).  Or; don’t look at all the things that stop you getting work.  Think instead about what you love to do and how you will earn a living from that.

It’s also worth thinking about why and how you use the word barrier.  Sometimes it can mean “stuff I don’t enjoy doing” – eg bidding for funds or doing a tax return.  If you identify such hindrances; dispose of the negative weighting.  All things belong in the list of tasks to do.  Some will be more enjoyable than others. If there are things you find difficult to do, or to get motivated to do, is there someone you could contact that would love to do these things?  Or that might do them for a fee, or for a trade?

So that’s a bit about barriers, but what about this – surely positive word –Opportunities. Why do I dislike that..?

I dislike it for the same reason I dislike “challenges”.  For being disingenuous – not what they seem.  I dislike these words for the inverted commas you hear people putting around them – an indication that the words are a veil of empty positivity over a “problem”.  In this context the words aren’t constructive. Empty positivity is irritating and unhelpful.  It’s akin to someone, dealing with depression, saying “I am happy!  Everything is great!” when that’s not the case at all.  No one is convinced – not least the person repeating the words.  Positive words and phrases mean little when they depict a reality we can’t believe in.

Furthermore, opportunities are often defined with reference to threats – as in the SWOT analysis model.  The SWOT model invites one to consider possible opportunities that a situation provides; then to look at all the threats inherent in the situation – effectively taking the wind right out of your opportunity sails. (My feelings on SWOT will come as no surprise; a leadership and management staple that’s great at keeping you exactly where you are.)

I find the appreciative version of SWOT, SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results), more useful. We’re asked to consider all the strengths we have available that can be used in the current situation.  And then we think about how these strengths empower and enable us to create opportunities out of the situation.  With SOAR we’re producing conversations about what’s within our power and what we can, and will, make happen.  For me, that’s more meaningful.

Notice the words you use in a business sense.  (And the models you apply.) What do they mean?  What function do they have?  Why do you use them – because they’ve proved effective for you, or because it’s “what we do around here”?  Is there something that would serve you, and your organisation/community, better?

As Peter Drucker (successful business guru who saw no need to worry about weakness or barriers) said: The best way to predict the future is to create it. 

You’ll create it faster if you stop telling yourself it’s necessary to find stuff to throw in your way.

This post was written by Southend Passionate Women’s Ambassador Sherry Fuller who specialises in Appreciative Inquiry, she brings people together through story-telling that concentrates on what makes them, and their world, come alive.  Sherry also runs Southend Philosophy Group, and community project Southend Soup. She can be found on Facebook as Fuller Inspirations and Twitter @FullerBobs.


Saturday 15th February 2014
Five Ways to Romance Yourself.

Posted by: JyBareBeginnings

Is it safe to come out yet, has the annual Valentine’s hype been blown over. The shops and restaurants that become spontaneously shrouded in dusty pinks and lusty reds, once discerning shops become heaving emporiums of lurve. As if by magic all the chocolates in the world are heart shaped. Advertisers offer hollow assurances that the recipient of their wares will win the heart of their sweetheart, find everlasting happiness, and romance hotter than anything E.L James could conjure. It also has the ability to make singletons or those who happen not to be taking part in this global festival of amour, inadequate and unloved.

The truth is and I suspect most of us know it already, that real love, real romance cannot be sold, and certainly not confined to a single day. Whilst it is also true that “…it is in giving that we receive” Sometimes we forget to take a little for ourselves.

Southend Passionate Women’s last workshop was hosted in the wonderfully comfy and bohemian independent coffee shop Utopia, As usual a diverse group of women met and shared their stories around a given topic, this week it was Romancing Yourself. In the words of founder Adriana;

“Romance happens when you take life into your own hands – when you get to know yourself, spending time with your likes and your joys. When you romance yourself, you do the things that nourish and bring out your inner radiance. You place attention on the details that are important and meaningful. And you delight in your senses, opening up to how wonderful things smell, taste, look, and feel. Romance is the little things – showing yourself that you care.”

Well now doesn’t that just sound like a little slice of pie that you would like to indulge in, as ever we are here to help in the style of a little ‘listography’. Here are a few of the ideas that were discussed. Not all of them will resonate with every woman, but we hope that they give you something to think about..

1. Ground Yourself

There are many ways that you can do this, but something that is so easy for us all to do. Some gardening, or walking barefoot on the grass, sand or earth. It hardly seems overly indulgent but this is one of the kindest things you could do for yourself. There have been studies that have reported benefits to health such as decrease in stress levels, and increases in immunity, as well as improving inflammatory conditions and lowering risk of developing very serious diseases. Even if this wasn’t so, consider just reconnecting with real sensations. Cool, giving, dewy grass underneath your feet, sand compacting. Silken wet sand moulding around your foot. Sinking your hands into fresh earth and compost, stirring up that distinct smell that almost reminds you of the scent in the air moments before it rains, smelling the An easy way to give yourself a gift of sensuality and connection.

 “I go to nature to be soothed and healed
and have my senses put in order”
– John Burroughs

2. Be Creative

Creativity in itself is alluring. If you have ever intently watched someone paint, play an instrument, ice e a cake, or plaster a wall, the mastery of such tasks is almost hypnotic. Now do this for yourself, even if you have never tried to use a particular skill before. Immerse yourself in drawing a picture, bake a cake, or create a magnificent piece of Lego architecture. Even if the result is not exactly “a work of art’ the sheer act of being absorbed in something, can put us in a better mood. We tend to forget about other things that are worrying or bothering us. This positivity tends to lead to a deep and long lasting feeling of pleasure. This makes us attractive to others

3. Affirm yourself

Why wait for someone else to pay you a compliment? it is a slippery road when we start looking outside of ourselves for validation. Unleash your inner power, by affirming that you are a person of worth, that your opinions and views are valid. Praise yourself unashamedly. Can you really expect someone else to fully buy into it, if you can’t sell it to even yourself? Do not be silenced by modesty, after all you are beautiful, you are capable, you are important. Now look in the mirror and say it out loud and with a smile, or write yourself a love letter.

4. Be Curious About Yourself

We are all vain creatures, and it is nice to think that someone else wants to know all about us, We split ourselves into fragments and build facades for work, family, community and  social media. But how well do you really know yourself? Take time out to learn about you, ask yourself questions no matter how silly? What is your favourite flower, your favourite super hero? Question yourself intimately. Perhaps try to Vipassana or insight meditation a practice, which encourages seeing all things as they really are, including you. It cultivates a deep connection between mind and body. The spotlight of attention can come from within you too.

5. Take yourself

Go to the ballet, to the theatre, to the heart of the woods, wherever your passion might lead you.Be alone. Be comfortable with your own company, be present and take each moment as it happens. Be undistracted by your phone, turn off your tablet, listen to nature not Spotify. Personal freedom and solitude should be cherished, the more you do it the more you will love yourself, and the more you love yourself the greater you present yourself in the company of others, and the more unique experiences you will have to share.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance”
– Oscar Wilde



I believe it is vital to romance ourselves. We need to place ourselves first before helping others and saying no should be easy. I, like many women struggled with this for many years, but now at the first sign of feeling busy, busy, busy and overwhelmed I run to connect with the natural world, and instantly feel revived and “me” again, sometimes it’s just so incredible that I don’t want to come back to the “Hive”.. but I know i must.. Never hesitate to just “unplug”. 

Those that truly love us will understand and if you truly love romancing your soul, those that mind don’t matter. Susan Giles


Thursday 13th February 2014
When Women Huddle ~ A Poem by Susan Giles

Posted by: JyBareBeginnings


When we women huddle, we are woven tapestry threads
We share of broken hearts and dreams,
of cold sheets and empty beds..
Yes! The fire of being loved to distraction, is awesome!
But sometimes it’s not the same satisfaction,
as girding your feminine loins into action,
to help your sisters to learn that attraction,
can manifest into hate and destruction..
To not put the “stronger sex” on a pedestal,
the halo may fall, and you find he’s detestable,
You turn all the guilt on yourself, (Never questionable)..
And he walks away with a sneer and a smile,
to the next victim to seduce and beguile,
Why do we blame ourselves when the vile, leave us in pieces.
It’s not his style!

Yes this rhyme is waxing lyrical,
But don’t think I am bitter, twisted or cynical,
It’s just that my time’s better spent being radical,
to help change the dormant to know that your miracle,
is happening right now! Grasp the pinnacle!
It’s yours for the taking, and only your making can make it reality, trust your uniqueness and individuality,
to make a difference in our world or locality!
It doesn’t matter if it’s huge or small,
just try not to act or not bother at all..
This poem is meant to inspire and enthral!
That’s why this blog is here! On this wall!

A powerful and stirring piece written by poet Susan Giles one of our Ambassadors here at SPW HQ.
We would love to hear you review of this poem.
Does it ring true to you? Do you find it controversial?


Thursday 6th February 2014
Can a well-behaved woman be still courageous, daring and smart?

Posted by Adriana Kosovska


What do you think? A well-behaved woman – who is she? What is she like? Who sets the ‘model and definition’ of well-behaved woman..? Who is your inspiration of a women that created or creates the history?


“I better be more naughty”


“I have a sash with this quote on! I love it. I think when it refers
to well behaved women it’s referring to the typical stereotype
of a woman”




“To me a well behaved woman is someone who does what is ‘expected’ of her. By her family, society, tradition. I think just as human beings let alone women we struggle with our desire to be free to act as we wish and against being well behaved. I am trying to be less behaved and more me every day x”


Tuesday 4th February 2014
Can this morning be your new beginning?

Posted by Adriana Kosovska


When I feel broken, lost, without the energy or power, I ask myself a question: ‘How do I want people to remember me tomorrow for what I did today?’

It makes me forget about the broken pieces from yesterday. It makes me put things together and continue to create… after all we never know what will happen tomorrow. So why waiting to make my dreams come true tomorrow when I can start today? You too can start today!

Happy Tuesday everyone!
Adriana – the SPW Ambassador