International women's day 2018 my story.
As a small business owner who is a woman, doing such personal keepsakes for others I felt it necessary to share my own story on this 2018 women's day. As so many of you give back to me, with your heartfelt personal stories that have on occasion made me cry.
It is always hard as a business owner to know if or not to keep yourself to yourself remain professional when emailing and messaging and be a hard faced business woman. But that's just not me. I like to share my story in the hopes it can help others and make people see that the person behind their precious keepsake really does care. So I will continue being who I am as a person and reflecting that in my business and when I talk to my customers, "yes" I do like to put a kiss at the end. To be anything else would not sit right with me. I wear my heart on my sleeve and always will.
My aim for this blog is to make you lovely people realise that no matter what or where in life you have come from, or what you are going through now that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Things can change, but you have to make them change. I soon realised after many many years that it was only me who could make my life better.
Where do I start? well at the beginning is always a good place I guess.
I was born in 1974 in London, premature with a congenital heart defect and jaundice weighing a wee 4 lb 7. I was given up for adoption and adopted soon after birth by a family, Mum Dad and a brother called Edward who was also adopted and is 6 years older.
Early life didn't really turn out as expected, a special chosen one and all that. My parents were rather cold and not very nurturing. He was a prison officer who later became a governor of a well know prison. And she was a stay at home Mum back in my early years. It was a very strict catholic household without much love and the motto children should be seen and not heard and that there was nothing wrong with physical punishment. Saying that they did have their loving moments be it few and far between.
It became clear how they felt when my mother finally managed to get pregnant when I was roughly 4 or 5 years old. I remember sitting on her lap and her telling me I was going to have a brother or sister. But they would be different from me as they would be her own child. Back then it wasn't much of a concern for me as I didn't really understand, but later in life that little talk somewhat affected me.
Unfortunately she miscarried which is an awful experience for any woman to go through.
When I was school age I attended a school in an area which was predominantly white as were my adopted family. I have olive skin and my background is Italian Philippine and about 3 other countries which I love and now embrace, but back then I was bullied pretty badly for the colour of my skin, I even remember being laughed at one summer when I went down to breakfast, I had covered my face in talcum powder. I was told harshly to wash it off and taken to school. The bullying got worse and I moved schools. I had no safe haven at home or at school.
When I started secondary school I was branded a disappointment by my parents, as lets just say, my talents for creativity went unnoticed but my academic achievements were non existent according to them. I failed at a lot and was called stupid, which later had a big impact when I became an adult.
My parents split up and my Mum became much worse over the next few years, at which point I went to live with my father. My father was never the one who was heavy handed with me but my poor brother had it from them both, a belt a slipper a hand, no food, whatever was a fitting punishment. I adored my Dad and was so proud of him, strange I know, though now I realise that he was not such a great Dad. I lived with him for a few months. His new wife told me "you are only here because your Mum doesn't want you" I think i was a disruption on their relationship even though I was very quiet and shy. .
He came up to my room one night, hugged me and said "ignore her, you are my little girl and I love you" The very next day he came home from work early, not a word apart from are your bags packed? I was so confused, where were we going? I asked what was going on, he said so not ask just pack. It was two weeks before Christmas he put my bags in the car, dropped me to a friends house and his last words were get out. I never saw him again after that, I later heard that he had committed suicide back in 1994.
My Mum picked me up and told social workers that she will have me for Christmas then wanted me to go into a children's home. That is exactly what happened and probably for the best. But a life in care, that is a whole other story. When I left the children's home at 16 I wasn't ready for the outside world and ended up in hospital before going to a foster Mum called Enid, where i was happily staying till 18.
As an adult I got along better with my Adopted Mum and although many memories were still present I loved her dearly, which many people don't quite understand. But to me she was the world. She unfortunately passed away from stomach cancer a number of years ago now.
As a young adult I had many problems and limited beliefs, suffered depression for many many years. I was in and out of jobs and had problems in forming relationships or friendships. I guess I didn't ever want to get close to anyone. I had no belief that I could ever have a future worth living and many a time I wanted out. No counselling or psychotherapy ever helped. I guess that was because I never opened up to it.
When I had my own daughters in 1994 and 1995 I finally experienced what true love felt like, I adored them and still do. I tried to keep my depression and beliefs under control as a parent and think I did a pretty good job most of the time. I didn't want them growing up with the same beliefs that I had. I wanted to raise children in a safe and loving environment with lots of fun and happy memories, which I hope they will agree was the case but as all us parents know, from time to time families will argue and having teenagers can be a somewhat trying time so not everything always went to plan. But all in all I am so proud of the strong independent woman they have become and that love grows more and more by the day.
When did it all change?
Well about 9 years ago now I embarked on a journey of self discovery and looked into personal development. This journey changed my life and how I saw myself. It made me realise that in order to be truly happy from the inside that I needed to work on my limiting beliefs one by one and eradicate them. The process took many years and was not a quick fix, I watched many motivational speakers on you-tube such as Jack Canfield, whom I managed to meet in person too at one of his seminars and got a selfie with lol. I was learning about gratitude and that in life there is so much to be grateful for, such as family friends health water food clothes. We are all a lot richer than we perhaps realise and these things are things we take for granted. We tend to focus on the things that are going wrong instead of the things that are going right and having faith in ourselves. We spend time doubting ourselves and listening to the negative opinions of others and before we know it we have given up or not even tried.
I can honestly say that I went from being a Debbie downer who didn't think that it was possible to ever achieve anything because I wasn't smart enough. To someone who embraces life and has the willpower to follow my dreams and achieve what people said I couldn't. I never thought I would ever get a good job having left secondary school with no grades when I was 14 to someone who built a small business from scratch with hardly a penny to her name (that was trying believe me)
I want all you people out there to realise, you are beautiful and smart and can achieve anything in life you want to achieve, to set small goals at first gain your confidence and then aim for the stars. Never ever be put off by people telling you that your ideas are stupid. GO FOR IT.
When I first started in business I didn't have a clue, I hated using the computer but I realised I needed a website, I could not afford to have one built for me. So I went on trusty old google and you-tube again and watched hours of tutorials on how to build a website. It may not be perfect there may be errors but I am human and I am proud that I managed to achieve doing it. If I can so can you. (if you want advice and I can help then i will)
Business was slow to start and I doubted myself many times and nearly lost my home, but I remained enthusiastic and thought no matter how many years it takes I will never give up, despite many telling me to get a proper job. It is quite a cutthroat business especially the breast milk keepsakes, I found that other keepsake artists don't like to converse with one another and put each others business down from time to time. Which I feel is very sad, we are all women doing it for ourselves and we should be proud and proud of other women doing the same. I don't like to view it as competition, we should not be competing. Saying that I have spoken to a few other keepsake artists who are so so lovely and create the most beautiful things. So it is nice to talk with them as we have things in common, other than that I am happily loving doing what I am doing and minding my own business.
I have had the most amazing customers who have left such beautiful feedback which I don't think they realise how much it means to a small business to hear that. I am sure there will be someone who isn't happy from time to time but its not happened so far. I am keeping up my confidence and striving to better my personal self day by day. I now live life to the full and I love what I do.
So my conclusion to my blog is that the reason I wrote this is because I want ALL of you to strive for greatness and remember true happiness comes from within. Getting your mind to a place where you can remain calm and happy under any situation. You are capable no matter what age, race, religion or background you have come from, you can turn your life around, reach for the stars and never stop believing in yourself. No matter what card life deals you or what negative Nelly's tell you, be who you are do what you want. Because who you are is BEAUTIFUL, never forget that. Be kind to yourself and ALWAYS encourage other people, be happy for them and celebrate all the small achievements as well as the big ones.
A few of my girls a few years ago and my Fur babies Hugo and max, I can't leave them out they are a huge part of my life. Hugo is a 14yr old chorkie who is the love of my life lol, and Max is a cuddly little chihuahua bear who we rescued 4 yrs ago he is 8, he was skin and bone but now a happy wee man.
If anyone has an inspirational story they would like me to publish for them. I would be happy to do that on my blog it would be an honour. You never know it may encourage or help others.