If you want to rekindle a relationship, try this

Feeling invisible can be very debilitating. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to feel unseen, unheard, even unloved?

shutterstock_176813414This feeling of being invisible often seems to strike once women in particular retire.

I recently started working with Sonia (not her real name). Sonia is 71, her husband is 74 and they’ve been married 41 years.

When we Read more »

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What stops you from being true to yourself

shutterstock_189619739A favourite refrain of my parents’ when I wanted to do something or other that didn’t meet with their approval was, “What will the neighbours say?”

The idea that I had to make sure I did nothing that might Read more »

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The beauty of power and how to get more of it

shutterstock_220931875The idea that you can feel powerful doesn’t sit comfortably, especially if you are a woman.

It’s a word most people usually associated with men. So when I suggest to a client that she’s more powerful than she imagines, the reaction is ambivalent.

That changes when I go on to describe my definition of what it means to be powerful:

To have the ability to influence, to make things happen, to make a difference. Read more »

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Powerlessness is learned. Here’s how to unlearn it

hOne of the most destructive myths around is the belief that we’re powerless, helpless to change our life, our destiny.

The key word in this sentence is ‘belief’ because beliefs are things you can change. But, before you can change anything, you need to understand how it works:

Here are is a story that highlights the process of becoming helpless: Read more »

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The Legacy of Yang-May Ooi – ‘Bound Feet Blues’

Today I’m privileged to share with you the wisdom and the gift of a dear friend of mine, writer and performer, Yang-May Ooi. Aged 52, she’s is taking to the West End stage for the first time her personal story. Yang-May is an award-winning TEDx speaker, bestselling author and acclaimed story performer. Take a look at her website www.StoryGuru.co.uk.

Here she speaks of her background, what brought her to this point in her life and why she’s compelled to share her story.

My Grandma’s Legacy to Me

As a little girl, I used to love listening to my Grandma tell us stories about her life in China and how my ancestors migrated to Malaya (as it then was) from the “old country”. Sitting on the verandah in the hot tropical afternoons in Malaysia, with the whole family gathered round, she would also tell us about life during the Second World War under Japanese occupation and about her life with my grandfather who was a doctor and statesman.

Her stories taught me about love, courage, honour, sacrifice, gratitude – and what it means to live a good life.

Stories that Had to be Told

I always thought that I would have children and grandchildren of my own and that I, too, would sit and tell stories about my life – and about Grandma, my parents and the other forebears who came before me. But a few years ago, at age 48 – the same age that Grandma was when I was born – I looked at my life and realised that I did not, and would never have, children and grandchildren.

I felt sad that my life had not turned out as I had hoped in terms of having children and grandchildren. But I was also grateful for the life that I did have – 21 years in a joyful and empowering relationship with my partner Angie, a hybrid career in social housing law & finance and as a writer, and with a warm circle of loving friends and family.

And I had all these stories that had been passed down to me by Grandma and my mother and so many others in my family. They needed to be told. I realised that I may not have children or grandchildren but I could still tell these stories.

So I had a go at storytelling clubs like Spark London and The Story Party. Now, I’m an introvert and I used to have a stammer. Stepping on stage to tell my stories was a terrifying experience. But I had a purpose. A burning purpose. I felt in my heart that I owed it to Grandma and my forebears to step up and tell not just their stories but my own story – because my story is a continuum of theirs. Of our collective family story.

Bound Feet Blues

This led me to create my hour long solo story performance Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes, which weaves the story of my great-grandmother in China who had bound feet, and my own journey of self empowerment. With no formal drama training, I have been working with director Jessica Higgs to give the performance of my life – so I can transform on stage into my mother, my great-grandmother, myself aged 10 and an iconic mother in ancient China explaining the brutal practice of footbinding. There are no costume changes, no scenery changes – and even no shoes (I perform barefoot) – because my aim is to create that mythic sense for the audience of experiencing a story unfold through the simple telling of it.

I have also written a memoir in book form to complement the live performance. The book, also called Bound Feet Blues, is being published by Urbane Publications in Nov this year, and includes a wider range of stories that could not fit into the show and also goes into more in depth discussions of the themes of the show.

Bound Feet Blues, the show and the book, explore themes of female desirability, body image, women as decorative objects and the struggle for self-empowerment. From earlier work-in-progress performances of the show last year, I have seen audiences engaging energetically to debate these themes and to look at their own lives and our present culture through the lens offered by the show. Early readers of the book manuscript have been inspired by the issues in the book to reflect on ideas of beauty and femininity in the modern context. For me, it has been deeply rewarding to see my story travel beyond the personal to the universal in these ways.

What’s Your Legacy?

I look around me and see so many women my age and older who have such wisdom and experience, gained through many years of life – through challenges and celebrations, struggle and joy, hardships and triumphs. If you are reading this article, then most likely you are one of these amazing women. I long for you to share your stories – of both good times and bad – with your children and grandchildren, with others in your family or friendship circle and with the world. Whether you tell your stories round the dinner table or a cup of tea, or at storytelling clubs or in written form or on social media, you will leave the legacy of your wisdom and humanity with your listeners. And in however small a way, they will be changed.

So, don’t hide your wealth of wisdom and life experience: leave your legacy of stories and make a difference to others’ lives.

Bound Feet Blues opens at the Tristan Bates Theatre in the West End on 24 Nov 2015 and runs for 12 public performances only till 12 Dec 2015. You can pre-order the book of the same name via the Urbane Publications website.


Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes

Tue 24 Nov – Sat 12 Dec 2015, Tue – Sat at 7.30pm ¦ Tickets £16 / £12 concessions.
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower St, Covent Garden WC2H 9NP

Online: http://bit.ly/bfbtickets ¦ Box Office 020 7240 6283

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Is worry useful or useless? Here’s how to tell the difference

shutterstock_220750444Here’s something I finally figured out:

Worrying is a habit. A lot of it falls under the heading of ‘what if’. “What if I get made redundant?”, “what if (s/he) has an accident?”, “what if I’m delayed and I miss my flight?”, “what if the hospital tests show I have some dreadful disease?”.  Which Read more »

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