INFLUENCE: 7 LIFE-CHANGING THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

The idea of influence is intriguing to me. I’m on a bit of a quest at the minute to explore what it means in culture today; to break open the word and dig out all the flesh that we have put around it and try to find out what is at its core – the real juicy stuff.

And I’m getting somewhere. Somewhere surprising. And it’s exciting to lift the layers and see what’s underneath all the trappings of influence that we have created for ourselves. (sidenote: what we have created - not wonderful)

You see, for the majority of my career I have been involved in activism work. Working with charities, running charity projects, advocating, lobbying, creating movements for change. I’ve met people along the way that have shaped my idea of influence. I’ve witnessed a hunger for influence in the social justice sphere and been fascinated at how the power dynamics work when working for systemic change. I’ve seen what it takes for shifts to happen in the policy room or the campaign planning session; how influence is used – in healthy and unhealthy ways. Yes. The non-profit sector is not always healthy. Activism is not always healthy. Crazy, right?

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5 SUBTLE WAYS WOMEN ARE SELF-SABOTAGING

I’m here for some straight talking today, folks. If I could write this whole blog post in CAPS and be sure it wouldn’t hurt your eyeballs, I would.

In all the work I’ve done with women of all ages and backgrounds over the last decade, there have been some emerging themes of self-sabotage that I have seen with my own eyes; some particular ways that I see brilliant women like you and I tripping ourselves up repeatedly over and over again.

Firstly, I want to lovingly say that this is the stuff of being human. These ways that we minimise ourselves, hand over power, get swept up and let fear lead the way – these things do not make you faulty – they make you human. The first step to being able to move beyond them into a truer sense of who you are is owning them; acknowledging that this stuff is real for you. That’s a biggie. So I want you to read this with an open mind, willing to see where it is that you might recognise yourself.

Let’s jump in. Below are five ways that I have repeatedly seen women sabotaging their own fulfilment and desires and holding back the progress of the sisterhood:

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ASSEMBLY SPRING/SUMMER GATHERING 2019

Another Assembly Gathering has come and gone and I can’t wait to tell you all about it…

These Gatherings are like markers in the year for me - signifying the beginning of a season, a punctuation mark to welcome in something new. They take months to plan and it feels like they are over so quickly so I love to be able to record it all here and keep the memories of these special days alive.

This year for our Spring Summer Gathering I wanted to host it somewhere fresh, somewhere peaceful, somewhere that immediately felt like a retreat from the daily grind and the chaos of life. It didn’t take me long to know that Origin Community Farm was going to be that space. From the very first time we went to check out Origin as a family - a working flower and vegetable farm, cafe and community space - I felt at home. The team that run the space are some of the very best people you could know. They care deeply about what they do, they are creative, insightful, welcoming and generous and the space they have created was just the ticket for gathering almost 30 women together to eat, drink and escape routine for a while.

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TIPS FOR SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS FAMILY TRAVEL

I recently embarked on my annual epic search of a holiday. I frenzied and trip-advised and searched every airline and website and travel guide until my eyes bled to find something that met all of our criteria (and by our I mean mine).

'Going away' as a family when I was a kid was either a day-trip to the seaside or a ferry to England to visit family. We didn't go anywhere outside of the UK until we emigrated to Canada in 1992. Talk about not doing things by halves: no holidays abroad, kids, but we will be moving across the world this year. Seems legit. 

In thinking about our plans this year I've been wondering what it really looks like to travel and see places in a more low impact way. I know that flying is far from sustainable with carbon emissions being a huge culprit in climate change (although some airlines are trying out new initiatives to offset) but I have started to consider other ways that we can be more thoughtful about the impact of our travels and bring my values along for the ride.

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ON BEING A GOOD INFLUENCE(R)

I remember as an older child having conversations with my mum about influence: what kind of influence was I on my friends? What kind of influence did they have on me? That kind of thing. Maybe she saw an early rebellious streak in me. Or maybe she knew that influence was powerful – that our actions, our movements, decisions have the weight and the power to impact others; a pretty big concept to hold onto as a child but has stood me in good stead (except for my teenage years where influence was waylaid, and I got into my fair share of teenage mischief). So the idea of influence has been a strong thread in my life and I attribute my deep sense of responsibility (holler to all my enneagram ones out there) to be a good influence to those early conversations.

And now that word seems to be pretty popular, ringing in my ears when I dive into the world of social media. Some people are using it as their job description, PR’s and Marketing Teams are including it as a significant part of their campaign plans and strategies and I’m interested in having a conversation about what it really means – what mantle we are giving this term of being ‘an influencer’…

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ASSEMBLY WINTER GATHERING 2018

It’s been a couple of weeks since we had our Winter Assembly Gathering so I wanted to show you what we got up to! It was such a beautiful evening. 40 women; making, eating, and getting to know each other as we gathered at this years Winter venue, Portadown Town Centre Market. The amazing Lauren from @litphotographyni captured the whole evening for us so beautifully - makes me want to do it all again…

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