Seven things I’ve learnt from my Mum

My Mum has been a pretty cool role model over the years. Here’s seven things I’ve learnt from my mum…

  1. Study hard…Having come over to the UK in the seventies, she was on a mission -to get her nursing qualifications so she could also support her family back home in Mauritius. So I’ve learnt that keep investing in your development, whether it’s researching skills, picking up top tips or becoming better at what you do through good old practice and experience.
  2. Work hard…So when you’ve finished a round of studies, get ready for more hard work. My Mum has definitely instilled a certain work ethic in me. When I told my old boss about my mum’s career, she said “That’s obviously where you’re hard work ethic came from”. Suddenly becoming a single parent with two teenagers couldn’t have been easy. If you want things to happen, it’s going to take hard work.
  3. We’re stronger than we realise…My mum is a strong lady. Physically and emotionally, we manage to get through things that feel super tough at the time. My mum was the first person to call me brave when we started IVF. img_2719
  4. Food is a healer…I always remember my Mum driving down to London to drop off home-cooked food deliveries when I had uni exams. It wasn’t any trouble at all. With my numerous operations over the years, I’ve been spoiled with comfort food deliveries. Home-cooked meals are some of the best gifts you can give someone when they going through a tough time.
  5. It’s OK to cook more than you need…It means that it’s takeaway time for us and we have meals sorted for the next few days. Some dishes like Mauritian Ladoube (chicken and tomato stew) and curry taste even better the next day.
  6. Wear lipstick…My Mum tried to get me to wear lipstick in my teens but I wasn’t interested. It was all about lip balm from The Body Shop. Now I appreciate how lipstick can brighten up your look, especially when you feel tired or a bit low. I love wearing lipstick now (thanks Mum, you were right).
  7. Enjoy dressing up…My Mum loves her clothes. You can never look over-dressed. Whether it’s for work or hanging out with her granddaughters, it’s all about looking chic. Mum sticks to her own style which I love. Bright colours are also important to boost your mood. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy hand-me-downs from her wardrobe. Mum knows that if I spot something in her wardrobe from the high street labels I love, it’s coming home with me. She’s also taught me how to dress up to feel confident.

I wonder what my girls will learn from me over the years? What have you learnt from your parents?

xx Sunita

What could have stopped me feeling ashamed about doing IVF?

Last week was an interesting one for me. I appeared on live BBC radio talking about blogging and we touched on my pre and post-IVF anxieties. The BBC radio presenter Shazia Awan also mentioned my Will we tell our children they’re IVF babies?  blog featured as Mumsnet Blog of the Day. One of the things I’ve been pretty honest about when writing and talking about our IVF journey is how I felt about having to do IVF. I felt ashamed. Looking back, I wonder if I could have felt differently and what would have changed this for me. I hope others who are thinking about IVF or going through it don’t feel ashamed like I did. If they do, I totally get why. So here’s a few thoughts on what could have stopped me feeling ashamed about doing IVF. Continue reading

My experience talking about blogging and Instagram life at the the BBC

At the end of last year a message popped up in my @luckythingsblog Instagram account. It was from BBC journalist Bela Shah. She asked if I was interested in featuring in a BBC news story on blogging and Instagram life. Bela mentioned she wanted to do a story on Instamums. As with many journalists she still had to pitch her idea to her producers and directors at the BBC. So it wasn’t guaranteed this would really go ahead.

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Bela shared some of her previous work with me. She had a great interview style, nice and informal. So it didn’t take long before I replied with a “yes, of course”.  As promised, Bela touched base in January and kept me posted about filming and recording dates.  Bela and I had a fab phone call where I shared a bit about my blogging and Instagram journeys so far. It reminded me how much has happened with Lucky Things in its first year.

A few weeks passed and Bela soon updated me with a filming date in mid-February. “Can you come to down to the London Soho restaurant Billy and the Chicks on a Saturday afternoon?” I already knew about this place as it has the best fried chicken. So it was another yes from me (not just because of the menu!).

Bela and her BBC cameraman filmed me chatting outside. The filming was super efficient. Although Bela mentioned the outline of the news story I still didn’t know what she would ask me about. Bela asked some great questions. One of my favourites was about whether if I’d read more blogs or been part of an Instagram community when I was actually going through IVF, would I have felt more supported? We also chatted about dealing with post-natal depression and how social media platforms provide you with insight to others’ experiences.

The filming only took about ten minutes but we covered a lot whilst chatting on a bench outside Billy and The Chicks. Bela said that she would be in touch as she also wanted to pitch the news story to BBC Radio Asian Network (a pivotal media platform for any South Asian growing up in the UK and around the world).

Roll on a few more weeks and Bela got in touch about a slot on a BBC Radio show. I didn’t know whose show it would be. I knew of some of the presenters from my DJ-ing and music industry days. Bela explained the radio interview would be with two of us bloggers and it would be part of the Big Debate show. I knew that the Big Debate Show always covered interesting topical issues. Oh my goodness, the radio show was also going to be live.

Of course, I was wondering if I was going to say anything stupid or possibly have a coughing fit on live radio (even though I didn’t have a cough that day). We weren’t allowed to talk about being on BBC Radio until we had the green light from Bela that morning. As with most radio shows, things can be very last minute and anything can change. I knew there was a possibility that the whole interview could be scrapped if a more important topic urgently came up.

The night before I found out that a blogger Nilly Dahlia was also going along to the radio show. We were going to do this together! This was amazing as I’d met Nilly and her gorgeous baby girl at the filming in February. What a tag team. I knew we’d collaborate well together and it was nice knowing a friendly face would be there. We of course exchanged messages about what we were going to wear although it was for radio!

I also took a few moments the night before just to think about the next day. It’s funny as this is where the mindfulness tricks from Dr Tamara Russell like her transitional pause came in handy. I guess I wanted to enjoy the BBC experience before it had even started. When asking myself how I felt about it all – nervous, excited, proud, buzzing – I realised again what a special opportunity this would be. It was good to just pause and take it in.

For years, I’d been hoping to appear on BBC Radio. When I worked in media, I did all kinds of stuff including work in editorial/magazines, appearing on TV (BBC again for Top of the Pops) and London Fashion Week. I guess those experiences have all grown my confidence and made me who I am. As my Mum always says, they have all given me certain skills. I reminded myself about doing live performances like DJing where you had to just go for it and deal with any hiccups along the way. But when I did live things before it wasn’t about thousands of people hearing my voice and what I had to say. So it was kind of OK feeling a little anxious.

On one of the sunniest days in London so far this year, I headed down to the BBC New Broadcasting House by Oxford Circus. I felt a mix of excitement and nerves – as I really didn’t know what we were going to talk about on the show. As my big Brother reminded me that morning “we know you can talk lots” so he jokingly reassured me it would be fine. If you saw my vlog on Instagram earlier that morning you’ll know that I was pushing my boundaries by doing this show. It wasn’t something I could plan or prep for. I was working with the unknown although I knew Bela’s colleagues would be really great to work with. So it was about going with the flow that day. DSC00651

So me and Nilly waited in the BBC reception. It was nice they were running late as we could take it all in. It’s a busy reception as you can imagine with so many different people passing through or waiting for their slot or meeting. I wondered what jobs they did or what they’d be talking about on the radio. We of course took lots of photos and filmed a few video clips of our own. It was a day to be documented for sure.

It was soon time to head up to the recording studio. There wasn’t much prep time at all. One of the BBC journalists Sejal met us and she said we’d be going live in a few moments. The presenter Shazia Awan popped out to say hi. I’ve heard lots of Shazia’s shows before. She has a relaxed style and always asks good questions. Maybe that’s something we had in common. In my HR career it’s all about interviewing and learning about people and their stories.

When I saw the live recording light on outside the studio, I felt a rush of butterflies as this really was live. We sat down in the recording studio and quickly chatted. The next thing I knew Shazia told us to put out headphones on. Wow this was really happening. It was time to be on live radio. I smiled at Nilly and we were off…

Back to the live show…Shazia introduced the news story feature and then asked us to talk a bit about ourselves. I thought we were going to be on the radio show for about five minutes. We covered so many interesting topics ranging from my IVF anxieties, blogging as a job, microbloggers, negative reactions to blogging, how Peppa Pig can be controversial and the general highs and lows of being an InstaMum. DSC00672

Twenty minutes whizzed by an it was a wrap (if you say that after doing a live radio show of course) and we quickly had to leave the studio before Shazia started her next piece. During the show I actually forgot it was live. We were just chatting and laughing. It felt great. Bela asked us to appear on a Facebook Live for BBC News so it was cool that we would be coming back to do something else with the BBC crew the next day.

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Bela had another treat for us. The feature we filmed in February was also live on the BBC Radio Asian Network Facebook page. I checked it out when I left the building. It was filmed beautifully and they captured my appreciation for my Instagram community which was a real bonus. I also talked about how I felt about our IVF experience on this video clip.

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You can listen to our slot on the radio show here (it’s on BBC iPlayer until about 20 April 2017). You can skip to our bit at 2h13 minutes.

You can check out the https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FBBCFamilyNews%2Fvideos%2F1381801075216289%2F&show_text=1&width=560“>BBC video recording of our Facebook Live for BBC News over on Lucky Things Blog Facebook page.

If you’ve had a chance to check out my BBC interviews, what did you think? Do you have any views on the different topics we chatted about? Do you listen to talk shows on radio and if so, what are your favourite ones? What do you think about Instamums and being on Instagram? I’d love to hear what you think too so leave a comment below…

Don’t forget to check out Bela Shah’s new blog site, Cookie and Bela.

Dealing with FOMO – the fear of missing out

The fear of missing out. FOMO contains a big word: fear. None of us want to fear anything do we? It can affect us from childhood, in our teens and in our grown up years. Even my girls have a bit of FOMO. Why end the day and have to go to bed? Last night I heard “I want to come in your room Mummy” a hundred times as Big Munch must have known I was planning my outfits for the week. Coming back to the grown up world, with people more on social media we can see what others are doing, where they’re hanging out and what they’ve been invited to. Here’s some tips on how to deal with FOMO – the fear of missing out.   Continue reading

Forty ways to look after yourself

At the London Lucky Things Meet Up in January, the theme was looking after yourself. Not only did we hear tips from one of the UK’s leading mindfulness experts Dr.Tamara Russell, we also heard each other’s ideas for taking care of ourselves. I encouraged the attendees to think of a nurture wish they would like to pursue during the following month. I didn’t suggest something for the whole year as sometimes you just need to try things out. It had to be something that would be good for them as individuals. So what better way to kick off my 40th year with a list of 40 ways to look after yourself. These are just 40 of the nurture wishes people shared with me at the Lucky Things Meet Up. Enjoy this list and hope it also offers a bit of self-care inspiration…

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Seven ways to support International Women’s Day

Did you know there’s a different theme for International Women’s Day each year? For 2017 it’s #beboldforchange. Not many people know but the first official “lnternational Women’s Day” event was held back in 1911*. As championed over at internationalwomensday.com, for 2017, they’re asking us to #BeBoldForChange where we can call on the masses for support or as an individual help move towards “a better working world – a more inclusive, gender equal world”.

Whoever we are and whatever we do, we can influence our social sphere to help other women feel more confident and reach their potential. I’m a strong believer that small actions are really important too. As Lucky Things is all about looking after our wellbeing, career and confidence, here’s seven ideas for supporting International Women’s Day today (and all year round).  Continue reading

Top tips on being social media savvy from Eimear Varian-Barry of The EVB Edit

As you know I’m a big fan of Instagram. For me, it’s also a great source of inspiration and a way to build your online community. It’s also a supportive place when you can surround yourself with like-minded people. It was great meeting the successful Instagrammer Eimear Varian Barry at a recent Mothers Meeting in London. She blogs over at The EVB Edit although she’s modest about being called a blogger.

Looking at Eimear’s Instagram feed, her style and layout looks flawless. In real life, Eimear is refreshingly honest and down-to-earth. When I first said hello to Eimear, we ended up chatting about Zara; not about the world of blogging or Instagram.DSC00508

Eimear told us about the early days in her career where she headed to New York to explore opportunities. She was frank about “working with nothing” and had to sleep on her friends’ sofas. Eimear reminded us that back then social media didn’t exist so she didn’t have a creative platform to earn money from what she loved doing. She then moved to Melbourne in Australia to be with her sister and worked lots in hospitality; not forgetting her infamous job on a tomato farm.

As it turned out, Eimear’s talk wasn’t just about managing the world of social media but she also shared some valuable career and wellbeing lessons. Eimear was joined by Yvonne Fuchs who helps to run the Mothers Meeting Business Academy. Here’s seven social media savvy tricks Eimear shared with us at the Mothers Meeting…

  1. We all have a story…Eimear reminded me that when you first see someone’s Instagram feed, you don’t know their full story. Eimear told us that we all have a story to tell and that we need to be ourselves; it’s exhausting trying to be someone else. She described Instagram accounts as magazines.
  2. Talk about things behind the scenes…Jenny from Mothers Meeting joked about how Eimear could put up a photo of  chair on her Instafeed and it could tell a whole story. So on Instagram, don’t be afraid to put up photos you like and then share a nice caption to talk about what’s going on behind the scenes. Another tip is to use your Instastories to chat about what’s going on in your world. Eimear explained that this also helps to bring your Instagram photos to life.

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    Sian @thevideomama in action

  3. Trust your gut…Some good advice as many of us can feel nervous about trusting our gut, especially when we’re posting something on social media or making career or parenting decisions. So if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If it does, go for it and trust your own instincts. Eimear reminded us that “everyone’s in a different situation”. Yvonne also added that “Only you can every know what’s right for you”.DSC00522
  4. Do things from the heart…This came up a few times during the talk whether we were all talking about career journeys or Instagram accounts. Eimear likes using her Instagram captions to share her thoughts and she likes being honest.
  5. Developing a thicker skin…It’s hard not to care what people might think when you’re active on social media (or doing anything creative). Eimear talked about trying to work with brands and she has experienced a few knock-backs in her time. I asked Eimear about her own tip for boosting her own confidence. She talked about one of her first meetings with a PR agency, with the buggy and baby in tow. She still remembers how nervous she was that day. Eimear said how she has to remind herself that “It’s fine. It might be a no and that’s fine”. Her mum also advised her that if you’re dealing with any negativity, you have to just stop and let it go. You can’t waste time on anything that’s not constructive.
  6. Don’t be afraid to tweak things…The room was full of people who were at different stages with their blogs, diverse Instagram accounts, careers or businesses. Eimear and Jenny reminded us that we can update our Instagram profile descriptions as much as we need to. It’s good to try things out and get someone else’s opinion. I know I’ve updated mine a few times over the past year as things have become clearer for me. It’s about letting things evolve. DSC00509
  7. Be patient…This is the second time I’ve heard this advice this week. Eimear talked about how it took her ages to realise what she wanted to do in her career. It was only when she became 30 that her career interests became more obvious. Eimear know describes her work as a “content creation”. This is about creating interesting content to describe her own experiences or those linked to brands to tell their story. It involves her love of photography. Eimear was also honest about how her following grew organically and it didn’t just increase overnight. Yes, we’re talking big numbers here when you look at her Instagram but she reassured us that a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. Jenny reminded us that there are bloggers, businesses and Instagrammers which much smaller numbers and they’re still doing lots of interesting things.

If you like the style of Eimear’s Instagram, you can follow it here @eimearvarianbarry

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Rarely leave the house without my @kemikids clutch

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@mrshhayward with her friend Caz from @taylordbundles gifting service.

 

Why it’s good to think about intentions and not just goals

At January’s Lucky Things Meet Up, we heard one of the UK’s leading mindfulness experts Dr. Tamara Russell chat about everyday tips on looking after ourselves. Tamara also talked to us about the value of setting intentions. When Tamara and I first planned our talk together, hearing her views on why intentions were helpful made sense. It completely changed my own outlook on setting goals.

Here are some highlights from the talk and why Tamara encourages us to focus on our intentions rather than goals. I’ve also shared how I’ve started to use intentions more. As a intro, here’s what Tamara’s has to say about intentions in her book Mindfulness in Motion (Watkins, 2015). Continue reading

Inspire interview with Claire Burrows, founder of Air & Grace

It was great catching up with Claire Burrows from Air & Grace at a gorgeous new coffee shop opposite her studio in Brixton. We talked about the ups and downs in our careers, what it means to hustle and why some shoes are sadly only worn once.

Claire is proud that you can enjoy the feel good factor without compromising on style. She confidently says that her shoes and boots are like wearing sneakers. I won’t apologise about being a bit techy but the Air & Grace footwear range are super comfortable. They feature Tender Loving Air® technology providing cleverly hidden three layers of luxurious memory foam cushioning.

I first came across Air & Grace on Instagram and then met Claire at her stand at Stylist Live 2016. Months have flown by and we finally managed to grab a coffee. Here’s what Claire had to say about renting a van, confidence and a big career change…img_0614

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