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The day I fell apart…

Falling ApartOver the last few weeks I’ve been hearing the same comment on a regular basis….”you’re dealing with your breakup really well”.

Sometimes it’s said with surprise, sometimes it’s said with an element of hope…at other times with a slight hint of dismay.

At a lunch meeting a while back, a colleague mentioned to me that I was one of these women who seemed to always have it together…and she wondered if I ever have days where things just get too much.

Well, I do 🙂

I’m just like everyone else in that sense.

So today I thought I would share about one of my more ‘challenging days’…so that you can see that I have them, just like everyone else.

As you know, a couple of months ago I went through a difficult breakup when the boyfriend I was living with left unexpectedly the night before Valentine’s Day.

I shared a bit about my experience on my blog to help other women who might be going through a similar situation.

Unfortunately it was never going to be an easy split because he was involved in some technical aspects of my business…so as much as it would have been easier at that point to have had a completely clean break with no contact (at least for a while until the wounds begin to heal), this wasn’t the reality of my situation.

Over the past month or two we have had to stay in touch to try and work out the details and come to a conclusion about how things will be resolved, including a few financial issues.

So it has been challenging, but all in all, I’ve been doing pretty well. There have been good days, and bad days, but I’ve followed my own advice and felt whatever emotions have come up in order to begin to release them. I’ve had some health problems along the way, but generally I was doing OK.

…until last Tuesday.

Now, I love social media…it’s a great way to stay in touch with my many friends across the world, but there are times (like this) where I really wish that we weren’t so connected.

On Tuesday I had a phone call from a friend.

Unfortunately due to a problem with my friend’s phone I wasn’t able to have a proper conversation with her….I could hear her, but she couldn’t hear me…so I just had to listen, sat on my own in a venue in London.

She told me that few days before, through the magic of Facebook, it was announced that my ex was on holiday with his new girlfriend.

I felt a rush of emotions all at once….hurt, angry, betrayed, used,…you name it, I felt it.

I completely fell apart.

The challenge with this was that I got this information literally minutes before a meeting in London that I was supposed to be leading.

The women walked into the room to find me in tears.

A few years back, I would have ‘pulled myself together’, put on a brave face, and powered through.

Not on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I allowed myself to share what had happened. I was completely open, I was completely vulnerable and more importantly I allowed these amazing women to be there for me.

It didn’t stop the hurt, but it certainly did help.

What was interesting was the more I shared…the more the ladies there shared that they had had similar experiences…and it helped to know that there were others who had been where I was in that moment.

That completely honest connection with another person where you understand each other’s pain, you’ve walked in each other’s shoes, creates a bond. It gives a real sense of understanding, strength and hope.

So I’m sharing this today for one reason. I know that there are other women out there, perhaps you’re one of them, who are going through a situation like this.

It’s OK that it hurts. It’s OK that it’s painful. It’s OK that you don’t always have it together. It’s OK to sometimes have a hard time dealing with things. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK if you need to fall apart for a little while. It’s OK to lean on others….even if you’re supposed to be doing the leading.

We’re human.

None of us are perfect…myself included.

So the next time you have a moment when it just gets too much…give yourself permission to lean on the people around you.

You do so much for them, that it’s good for them to have the gift of giving back to you…especially at the times when you need it the most.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

The Feminine Way to Business Success – How to Network Face to Face – Day 17 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 17 of the Youtube challenge!

So we’re looking at relationship building through communication and without doubt the best way to do this is face to face. So today’s video has a few hints and tips for you to use your face to face networking to build great foundations for long, fruitful business relationships:

So, how do you make the most of networking opportunities? How do you think you could improve your face to face networking and enhance your business relationships?

I’d love to know what you are going to do differently in your face to face networking, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “How to make the most of Google+” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-16/

The Feminine Way to Business Success – How to make the most of Google+ – Day 16 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 16 of the Youtube challenge!

So we’re looking at relationship building through communication and Google+ has a fantastic function which can really help build and develop productive business connections, and I’d love you to be able to make the best of it:

So, do you use Google+? How do you think you could use Google+ to improve your business relationships?

I’d love to know what you are going to do differently in your Google+ communication, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “How to make the most of LinkedIn” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-15/

The Feminine Way to Business Success – How to make the most of LinkedIn – Day 15 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 15 of the Youtube challenge!

So we’re looking at relationship building through communication and as LinkedIn is a brilliant way to facilitate great business connections, it’s important to know how to use our natural relationship building and communication skills to make the best of it:

So, do you use LinkedIn? How do you think you could improve your use of LinkedIn to improve your business relationships?

I’d love to know what you are going to do differently in your LinkedIn communication, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “How to make the most of Twitter” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-14/

The Feminine Way to Business Success – How to make the most of Twitter – Day 14 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 14 of the Youtube challenge!

So we’re looking at relationship building through communication and as Twitter is a fantastic way to make new and very fruitful business connections, it’s important to know how to use our natural relationship building and communication skills to make the best of it:

So, how do you use Twitter? How do you think you could improve your use of Twitter to improve your business relationships?

I’d love to know what you are going to do differently in your Twitter communication, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “How to make the most of Facebook” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-13/

The Feminine Way to Business Success – How to make the most of Facebook – Day 13 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 13 of the Youtube challenge!

So we’re looking at relationship building through communication and as Facebook is now such a big part of our lives, it’s important to know how to use our natural relationship building and communication skills to make the best of it:

So, how do you use Facebook? How do you think you could improve your use of Facebook to improve your business relationships?

I’d love to know what you are going to do differently in your Facebook communication, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “How to make the most of Email” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-12/

The Feminine Way to Business Success – How to make the most of email – Day 12 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 12 of the Youtube challenge!

So we’re looking at relationship building through communication and as email is used as one of the primary methods of communication in any business, it’s important to know how to use our natural relationship building and communication skills to make the best of it:

So, how do you use email? How do you think you could improve your use of email?

I’d love to know what you are going to do differently in your email communication, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “Communication” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-11/

The Feminine Way to Business Success – Communication, Communication, Communication – Day 11 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 11 of the Youtube challenge!

Communication, Communication, Communication.  It’s fundamental to business success…and Feminine Women are born to communicate.  So this video begins a series of clips on communication and how we can utilise our natural skills and abilities to build the most fruitful business relationships:

So, how do you communicate?  What ways of communication do you favour?  How do you think you could improve them?

I’d love to know if there are some areas of communication which you would like me to cover in particulars, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “Relationships are the key” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-10/

The Feminine Way to Business Success – Relationships are the Key – Day 10 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 10 of the Youtube challenge!

Feminine woman are born relationship builders. It’s innate…it’s part of our DNA. So isn’t it great to know that the quality of your business relationships is directly proportional to the success of your business. Watch the video to find out why:

So, what is the quality of your business relationships? How could you improve them? What effort can you make to enhance them even further?

I’d love to hear all what you have planned to improve your business relationships, so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “Other people’s why…and why it matters” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-9/

masculine masks

The reality of masculine masks…

masculine masksWe all know that drag is most commonly associated with describing a man in women’s clothing (before I get corrected here, yes I know that it is used the other way around too! 😉 ), but the real drag is a woman who is feminine on the inside and yet putting on a masculine mask.

Believe me, I speak from experience.

So what is a masculine mask?

Masks are there to conceal the identity of the wearer. Wearing a masculine mask involves portraying characteristics which are primarily masculine and in doing so concealing who you are on the inside. It’s about creating an appearance of being masculine externally which doesn’t match the feminine woman that you are at heart.

Masculinity, like femininity has a number of traits that are associated with it. Without wanting to create an article purely focusing on masculinity (don’t worry, I’ll come to this later!) some of these traits include tension, contraction, solidity, competition and goal/outcome oriented. Masculinity is often associated with ‘problem solving’ (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had an argument with a partner who is trying to ‘fix the problem’ when all I was interested in doing was getting it off my chest!) and it often has a tendency to spend more time on the side of logic than emotion.

Taking on these masculine traits externally if they don’t match who you are internally is exhausting. There is nothing worse than having to behave like someone you’re not. It can affect you emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically too.

Imagine for a moment Charlotte from Sex and the City.

For those of you who have never seen the show Charlotte is woman who believes in true love, in behaving ‘correctly’ and conforming to what is considered ‘the done thing’ in polite society. She is the most conservative of the group, an irrepressible optimist and a girl who is always looking for (and expecting) the arrival of her knight in shining armour.

Next, I’d like you to think about Samantha from the same series.

Samantha is a woman who does not need a man for anything other than an enjoyable night between the sheets! She is outspoken, risqué and gives the impression that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She is often heard to say that she can do anything a man can do, and likes to prove it. She could easily be described as a masculine woman.

Now, imagine for a moment, Charlotte wearing a ‘Samantha mask’. Dressing like her, behaving like her, speaking like her…all the while still being the real Charlotte on the inside.

Can you imagine how difficult that would be for Charlotte to keep up the ‘Samantha mask’ pretence long term? How Charlotte would feel?

For a short while it might be do-able, even fun, to appear as something your not…its part of the reason that Hallowe’en and fancy dress parties are enjoyed by so many people. But to pretend for any period of time that you are something that you’re not can really drag you down.

Masculine masks are worn by so many women these days for a variety of reasons. They are incredibly common in business, as so many women have looked up the career ladder and seen mainly men in positions they would like to be promoted to eventually.

Some women choose to replicate the behaviour of the men in more senior positions in order to be considered successful, ‘the right fit’ for the company and ‘good senior management material’. Likewise in very masculine working environments, women can feel the need to act like ‘one of the boys’ in order to fit in and be accepted by their peers.

However it’s not only in business that these masculine masks appear. Women who are often feeling overwhelmed can step into superman mode to prove that they can keep control of everything in their life.

In relationships women can put on a masculine mask to try to ‘protect’ a woman from getting hurt, often as a response to heartbreak somewhere along the line. Or they can be worn by women who feel the need to ‘prove’ that they are independent and can do it all, and sometimes even bring an element of competition, showing that they can do things quicker or better than their partners. This can lead to either an explosive battle of masculine energies with their significant other or to their partner stepping back from their own masculinity (sometimes into a more feminine role) in order to prevent confrontation. This flip in polarity can have a devastating effect on the attraction and passion in an intimate relationship.

The challenge with these masculine masks is that they are draining. It is a demand on your energy to constantly keep up an appearance which is inconsistent with your inner self. The tension, control, competition and ‘need to prove yourself’ associated with the masculine masks takes continuous effort, and can often mean that you are running on adrenaline in order to keep going.

You end up feeling tired, run down and most importantly that you’re not being the real you.

Many women put on these masculine masks as a way of coping, being able to do it all or prove themselves, but in reality we become much more effective, happier and able to cope when we’re true to ourselves.

So girls…it’s time to ditch those masculine masks once and for all, have a good old chat (over a cocktail or two) with your inner woman and decide to put your best foot forward (in fabulous shoes, if that’s your thing) as the real you for all the world to see.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x