The hashtag for International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge.

A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. So let’s all choose to challenge.

How will you help forge a gender-equal world? Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

This last year has certainly been a challenge for all. There have been things happen that I didn’t think would occur in my lifetime. In fact, even if I had a crystal ball, I still don’t think I would have been able to foresee any of this.

We have all been challenged and changed in so many ways. The isolation that I love here in the peace of the hills, did for a while, feel like a prison. Having reframed that, I came to realise that, instead, I had the luxury of being able to walk my dogs freely and could breathe fresh air every day without fear.

However, fear, along with anger, have been two of the biggest things to challenge me. I normally can look at other peoples behaviour with kind eyes and see beneath their emotions and reactions. But I have been shocked at the hideous and unkind words spewed out in anger.

Of course, people are scared, but being nasty, is that the way to go? Surely, we all one? Oh well, I guess it’s time to put away my rose-coloured spectacles again and stay away from the violent language I despise so much.

Whatever the theme for International Women’s Day, I think that it is an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come and what we have achieved through these challenging times. A day to consider our values and the impact we want to make in the world.

To be able to create the change we want to see, we have to take time out to celebrate who we are and consider who we want to become.

Make International Women’s Day and every day a day to celebrate who you are

Unless we learn to celebrate who we are and how far we have come, we will not have firm foundations to move forward from.

It is in looking back that you can see just what you have achieved. I’d invite you to feel good about every tiny step that brought you here to today – no matter how tough.

What is your story?

We all have stories. When you look at the themes for IWD2021, I am sure that each one of us can tell a few tales. For me, that’s not just women. Men, too, are subject to some horrible stuff, and I want to acknowledge my male friends and say I see and hear you too.

Our stories are rich in challenges, lessons and gifts of which you can be proud. It is because of your story that you are who you are.

My hope is that when you read this, you can celebrate that you have overcome challenges, made the most of the opportunities presented, and by understanding why obstacles have occurred, as you have arrived here – today – better for it, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

For this adventure through life, there will have been many experiences that have shaped you. What are the gifts that you got from the stuff that happened?

Focus on the gifts

Did you bring to mind your gifts? There are gifts in all situations.

If my first husband hadn’t told me I was stupid, I wouldn’t have done an MBA.

If I hadn’t have left him and been with my next partner for sixteen years, I wouldn’t have had many great memories, learned to ride a motorbike and discovered fine wines and when we broke up have the cash to buy my current home, even if it was a wreck.

If the last husband hadn’t been discovered living a highly promiscuous double life, I wouldn’t be living in my lovely home in the peace of the hills with my dogs. If he hadn’t have wanted a dog, I wouldn’t have my first two dogs.

If I hadn’t felt suppressed in a male-dominated environment, I wouldn’t have taken the ILM Level 7 Executive Coaching qualification, which has helped me with my coaching career.

If I hadn’t gone through a series of illnesses and healed myself naturally using nutrition and energy medicine, I wouldn’t be able to maintain my energy to support others.

If writing hadn’t been my saviour, I would be helping people to discover who they are and how their stories can help heal the world.

Your gifts are part of your story and journey, and you can use yours to teach others how to find their gifts and heal with your insight, knowledge, skills and your process.

We know so much more than we give ourselves credit for and often to our own detriment. Ask yourself, how did you manage to get where you are today? That’s right; you applied lots of your experience, skills, and knowledge.

Ok, reality check. I just want to say that all of the above was tough, and I learned how to be resilient and brave, but not without costs.

Where am I?

I am where I am meant to be. I believe that we are all on the right path, no matter how freaking tough it seems. I invite you to put a stake in the ground and look around. This may seem very simple, but it is, in fact, very powerful and may bring up all kinds of feelings. You must look around you and take it all in.

Simply acknowledge that this is where you find yourself. Describe where you find yourself. Consider how this feels. What do you see, and what do you know about this place? I do this when I am feeling a bit lost, as well. Are you:

  • In transition?
  • In limbo land?
  • At a crossroads?
  • In the void?
  • At the bottom of the well?
  • At the end of your tether?
  • Tearing your hair out?
  • No bloody idea!

Consider for a moment the words that come to you when you ask yourself this question, and please be honest. I have used all of these phrases to describe where I have found myself. Equally, I have said:

  • I am in a great place
  • I’m happy right now
  • Things are going well
  • I’ve crossed the line – it’s all good
  • I’m feeling peaceful and balanced
  • Just where I want to be

Sometimes I have felt lost and joyful all in the same day. It depends so much on my energy and what is happening.

And celebrate how far you have come. Here’s something simple yet powerful that you can do.

Write a letter and wave goodbye to all that does not serve you, and be open to new opportunities

One of the more fun things that I do when I am feeling down is to write a letter about what I’d like to come into my life. I am mindful of how I write it because the mind is a powerful thing. So, for example, if you have had a tough time with a past relationship, consider what good things have come from it; I certainly say thank you to three relationships for allowing me to live the life I do today.

Say thank you and then ask how is it possible for me too, for example, have a beautiful relationship where we are equal, and I am loved and respected for who I am? Your words, your way. Then when you have written what you need to positively, burn your letter. As you watch the flames flicker, give thanks and send love to the past.

Make this International Women’s Day and every day a day to support someone else

Giving back is a wonderful way to feel great as you do good. It doesn’t have to be costly or take too much of your time. Try some of these:-

Offer a complimentary mentoring session

You have incredible knowledge, skills and experience. Who might benefit from a Zoom call or a cuppa with you? That hour could change both of your lives.

Sponsor someone

Make a small monthly donation to someone who is less fortunate than you.

Give a gift

Leave your footprints in someone’s heart. Create your legacy today. If you have a book or an online course, consider giving a gift to another woman. I often give coupons to my courses away, which I hope will inspire someone to write a book about their story and reason for being.

Challenge unconscious bias amongst your male family and friends

Open the conversation with your ‘brothers’ and fellow humans and ask them what they think and how they can help create balance and harmony. Consider how you can work together to create inclusion everywhere.

Slip some money into someone’s pocket

I am not suggesting that you creep stealth-like and unpick someone’s pocket, but you could leave some cash (it doesn’t have to be much) with a note in the ladies toilet for some unsuspecting woman. Tell her to have a cuppa on you. Or just forward pay at the checkout.

Say thank you

Thank someone for something that they have done for you or for the world.

Whoever you are reading this, from wherever celebrate being you and give thanks to all of the wonderful people in your life, who are surely being challenged right now.

Connect with me and let’s talk about your story – reason for being – and how you can use your gifts to create change in the world.

Grab a cuppa and cake… We all need cake.

My mission is to encourage and empower you to step into the wisdom of your heart and embrace self-love, self-worth and confidence so that you discover that all-important inner peace.