It’s lunchtime, Wednesday 17 October, I’d been out to a networking coffee morning, Paul had been pottering at home on a day off. 
We’d eaten lunch and were chatting about this and that. It was an ordinary day. Paul was clearing up the lunch pots one minute and the next he was down on one knee asking me to marry him! It wasn’t one of those grand gesture pre-planned proposals, it was very spontaneous and from the heart. Of course, without hesitation, I said yes! Ten minutes later he’d left to do the school run and I was sitting at the kitchen table letting it sink in! 
 
We decided to tie the knot sooner rather than later and the date was set. Then we had lots of decisions to make…including the dreaded WHAT TO WEAR!!!???!!! 
 
I started to think about what I might like to wear to get married in and like any self-respecting bride set about creating a Pinterest board and looking for ideas. I pinned everything that I liked and began to see patterns forming. It was becoming obvious what I liked and there were themes emerging…so far so good. 
 
Then I had a rethink, I changed my mind and went off in a totally different direction. I got a picture in my head of EXACTLY what I wanted. This, of course, does not exist on ANY Pinterest boards, only in my head. I realise that this dress is going to have to be a bespoke creation and set about researching the typical cost with a seamstress. 
 
At this point I had a word with myself and decided that for the type of dress I wanted I was more than capable of making it myself. besides which I'm 54 and it's a second wedding fo both of us blah,blah, blah... I just needed to find the right pattern and get my sewing machine serviced. 
So here we are, it’s February and the media is just bonkers with Valentine’s Day stuff and all things romantic. Red roses, chocolate and prosecco, love hearts everywhere. Marks and Spencer’s even have a love sausage you can woo your beloved with on the 14th! 
There's so much stuff about love and romance in the air but my question to you is do you love YOURSELF enough? And how do you show it? How many of us do actually love ourselves (and I don’t mean in an arrogant, show off type of way) and take care to treat our ourselves accordingly? 
 
Do you take good care of yourself? Do you look after yourself as if you’re a precious thing to be loved and treasured? Nope? Thought not. I’m the first one to admit that I don't possibly treat myself as well as I could. Quite often us women feel guilty about spending time on ourselves. We look after our families and prioritise making sure they have what they need, and we slide down the list. 
 
More recently I have been making time for other things that I enjoy and giving myself a break. I realise that all work and no play is not good long term. I’ve started mosaic classes, picked up my knitting needles, joined the WI. All things that are ‘me time’. It's too easy for me to end up whiling away the hours working on social media. These hobbies might seem only little things but if we start thinking about the bigger picture and self esteem and self worth it's all linked to self care. Not selfish, important. 
 
What else do I do to show myself love? 
I eat healthily and having a pampering session is always nice but in these busy times it often seems like a treat, I don’t think it should be really. I caught myself thinking that the other day, I was doing the whole bath, face pack, exfoliating, eyebrow plucking thing and started to feel a bit guilty about spending time on myself! There were so many other things I could be doing. I had to have a word with myself! I feel horrible if I’ve got stubbly legs and armpits, dry skin on my feet and why would I not want myself to feel nice? 
What suited you then might not suit you now... 
You’ve had your colours done. 
 
You’ve sat in bright, natural daylight with a white cape, possibly a matching turban if you’re colouring your hair, no foundation or concealer to even out your skin tone, to hide the rosy cheeks or those fine red lines around your nose. 
 
She has looked into your eyes with a little light up magnifying glass to see the subtle nuances and flecks of colour in them. She’s asked you questions about how you tan, what colour your hair was when you were little. She’s even looked at your veins on the back of your wrist. 
 
You’ve had hundreds of pieces of coloured fabric draped across your chest as the consultant looks intently at what happens to your eyes and your skin each time she transfers one colour to the next. 
She decides whether you have warm or cool undertones to your skin. She assesses your levels of colour and tonal contrast and she will then declare which ‘season’ you fall into. And this is where many colour analysis consultations stop. You are presented with a pre-made swatch* and sent on your way. These are your colours to wear. They suit you and that’s that... 
 
*Swatch – a little wallet of small pieces of fabric in a selection of colours that suit you. 
Opinions are like a***holes – we’ve all got one. 
Do you have a friend who has something to say about anything and everything? And who likes to share it with anyone and everyone. 
 
They like the sound of their own voice. 
 
I get invited onto local TV and radio occasionally to give my opinions on topics, sometimes it’s stuff in the news, other times it’s local interest stuff, sometimes they ask me to talk about what I do and the reasons and benefits behind certain things such as the 21 Day Style Challenge, Glum to Glam workshops, the charity Swish clothes swaps that I organise etc. 
 
For some of the light-hearted topics it’s easy to provide an opinion and chat easily about stuff. Other times when it’s a bit heavier I’m aware that I might sit on the fence slightly, hedging my bets, being diplomatic one might say. The other guest I was on with last week asked me if I was one of those controversial type guests. I’m not. But I have been on several times with that type. 
 
I find myself being a bit cautious about being controversial and alienating people – you never know who might be watching. 
 
Perhaps it’s a potential client who likes the cut of my jib and is thinking they might like to find out more about me and potentially visit my website – I don’t want to go off on one and come across as it’s my way or highway. This would be totally off brand for me. It’s important that I walk my walk and talk my talk at all times. 
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me… 
Remember the ditty from school? 
 
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. What bollocks that is...on my Facebook feed recently an article came up from Twitter July 2017 with the hashtag #TheySaid. 
 
#TheySaid 
The article is basically women relaying stories about comments made by parents or other people during childhood or teenage years that stuck well into adult life. Quite often offhand, throw away comments from our nearest and dearest that weren’t necessarily said with malice but have an enormous impact for a very long time. 
 
These words have cut deep. 
 
There are scars. Some are still open wounds, twenty, thirty or forty years on...comments made about our bodies, our physical appearance, our weight, perceived inadequacies related to our appearance. 
 
Tree trunk legs 
 
There are women in their 40's and 50's in my client group who have avoided showing their legs because of a comment a parent made when they were young. Legs like tree trunks. Legs like two pieces of string with knots in. Look at the size of your arse. You’d be pretty if you weren’t so fat and all kinds of other hurtful remarks. 
 
I first met Sue in 2014, she was out of love with her wardrobe and was often stressed about what to wear. Not any more! Read about Sue's journey as she's defined and refined her personal style, colours and image over the past few years. Definitely a sucess story. Here she is answering questions posed by my Style Sisterhood Community (free FB Group)
1. What type of thing have you done with Lisa?  
(A) Colour analysis (in person) 
(B) 5 steps workshop (twice)  
3 x 21 day online style challenges 
 
2. What actually happens?  
(A) Lisa chatted to me about what I do, my social/leisure as well as work, why I felt I wanted my colours done, what I felt I might get out of the process, what wardrobe challenges I had or issues with clothes, how I felt about my clothes & whether I liked shopping for clothes, where I shopped etc. 
 
3. How did you feel before?  
(A) A bit nervous. I had met Lisa before through networking but I was really keen to know more about what she did & how she could help me. 
 
4. How did you feel during the process?  
(A) Relaxed & we had a few laughs too 
 
5. How did you feel afterwards?  
(A) Amazed & enlightened. Much more confident that the clothes we had edited for my wardrobe were suited to my colour palette. NB Further work in  
(B) helped me understand my Own Style & why some of these 'me colour' clothes still didn't feel right on me! This has been a gradual education process & I am still learning all the time. 
 
Can your colours change? 
This is a question I get asked a lot by people who’ve had colour analysis (or as it’s more commonly referred to “having your colours done”) before. Sometimes they are asking because they’ve had it done more than once and been given different answers each time. Sometimes it’s because they’ve had it done a long time ago and wonder if what suits them will change as they are getting older. 
 
My answer is yes and no. 
 
Yes, the tints, tones and shades of colours that suited you when you were younger may change as we lose pigment in our colouring with age. So, for example, you could carry off a really vibrant red or orange when you were younger and your hair wasn’t grey, but now those hues are a bit overpowering as your colour has faded. In terms of your actual colour analysis, as long it’s been done properly, no – your season won’t change. 
 
Herein lies the problem… 
 
Quite often I get clients who’ve had their colours done before but weren’t feeling it when they were given their swatch.  
 
They never feel truly aligned to the group of colours that they were given, they go along with it for a while but because deep down they don’t feel right, pretty soon the swatch they were given never sees the light of day, they go back to wearing any old colours and their money is wasted. 
 
Self- Image Demons 
 
Do you talk to yourself (maybe out loud or in your head) sometimes but not in a nice way? Does your inner critic say nasty things to you as you get ready for a night out? You’re trying a new top on that you really liked in the shop, it’s a bit more colourful than you’re used to or maybe it’s a different style that you’ve not tried before…you aren’t 100% sure and need a bit of reassurance that you look nice. 
Then those little voices start in your head. The self -image demons can be proper nasty little buggers with viper tongues, making vile and vicious comments. They’re evil, they know too well about all the things we’re not sure about, they play on our insecurities and affect our self-confidence. 
 
Whiney, Nasty Bitch 
 
I recently asked in my online community, the Style Sisterhood group on Facebook, about the kind of things SID* (Self Image Demons) might say. Most of the responses would be deemed horrid and offensive if we ever actually said them to anyone else…we’d be seen as a whiney, nasty bitch on the attack. 
In December 1999 I was very heavily pregnant. Waiting for a baby that should've been born in November. I thought someone was playing a joke on me and he wasn't ever going to come out. I'd gained almost 5 stone in weight and my boobs were like a couple of shiny watermelons. I was so uncomfortable. I'd had heartburn since the fourth month of pregnancy; it had started literally once the morning sickness passed. Liquid Gaviscon was my friend for the duration and I never went anywhere without it in my handbag. 
Reluctant to be born 
I ended up being induced 10 days after my due date. Even then he was reluctant to be born. Finally, with the intervention of forceps I delivered an 8lb 10oz baby boy with tufty blonde hair and beautiful big blue eyes. He was just perfect and I fell immediately in love with him. 
 
Life changer 
The reason I'm telling you about all this is because it was the ultimate life changing time. Having a baby changes everything about your life. If you are a parent you'll know from experience. Your priorities change and what was once important becomes less so. I had planned on going back to my college lecturing job just 3 days a week after maternity leave. That never happened, I couldn’t face leaving him with someone else looking after him while I commuted 140 miles a day to look after and teach other people’s kids. 
 
Not sensible but perfect 
As the main breadwinner of the household this was probably not the most sensible decision I’ve ever made. We had no savings and credit card debts – oops. This is where the Virgin Cosmetics Company came into my life. That’s a story for another day but suffice to say that it was a perfect solution and my main source of income for 8 years. 
 
 
What size is PLUS Size? In Nov 2015 I put it out there in various social media groups that I belong to and asked ”at what size do you consider plus size to start?” 
My question was for market research purposes, not to be controversial or start a debate. Someone had suggested I ought to use the term in my marketing and was curious to see what people thought. I got quite a few responses and it seems to be a subject that ruffles feathers and divides opinion. Some people find the term offensive, mean and rude, others see it as an alternative term for unhealthy. 
 
Is it a classification or an insult? 
I personally don’t like it but it seems to be the recognised term within the fashion industry. If I’m looking for clothes online I Google ‘plus size’. The answers I got ranged from size 14 upwards but most people thought size 20 was the starting point. Is it just a term to describe a body shape? Like short, tall, athletic, curvy etc? Some of the people who responded were apologetic, as if they were worried about offending people. Others thought it might be better to use terms that seem less derogatory. 
 
Are you normal? 
I wonder why it is seen as a negative term? If you look for the dictionary definition of the word plus it has quite positive connotations… Advantage, asset, higher end of the scale, extra, a perk, prerequisite. It also says it can refer to larger than normal size in women’s clothing. What’s normal? Is it the same as average? Because the average woman in the UK is a size 16, 5ft 3″ and weighs 11 stone apparently. 
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