Real Women, Real Lives
Who inspires you? Who do you use as your motivator to get things done or to make valuable changes to your life?
There are thousands of women who stimulate our need for greatness. They appear on our television and movie screens, we listen to them on the radio, or we read their encouraging stories in articles or books. It’s easy to put a celebrity on a pedestal and desire their lifestyle, skillset and strength of character, but we don’t need to turn to the glossy magazines, or the big screen, to find inspirational women who can motivate us to succeed. They live next door, work alongside us, and talk to us at the supermarket.
The Real Women, Real Lives feature highlights the incredible individuals who have succeeded on their chosen path, or turned misfortune into positivity. Ladies who have conquered illness or gone above and beyond to help others, and made a difference. Women who have stepped out of their comfort zone and launched a business, or ventures that have an impact on their environment, or community.
These remarkable women are your friend, co-worker and neighbour and I’m delighted to be able to share their stories with you.
Today, I am delighted to invite Abigail Yardimci to share her story.
Tell us a little about you and your story.
I was born and raised in the North East of England and both of my parents were journalists as my younger brother and I were growing up. I remember always being surrounded by books, music and lively conversation.
As a little girl, I used to love all forms of creativity. Painting, sculpting, costumes, drama, dancing and I got my fix whenever I could. I was happiest sat at my mum’s typewriter making up stories (yes, I can remember typewriters!).
I was quite a shy child though, and only had a handful of friends I knew and trusted. At school, I excelled at English and Art and did anything I could to avoid PE and Maths. By the time I got to college, where I could actually choose to indulge in all things creative, I felt like I’d found my vibe AND my tribe.
I studied Creative Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University and by my final year, I had fallen in love with community drama. I got a real kick out of helping other people to be creative and find their confidence, perhaps because I was still struggling to find mine.
I also fell in love with a handsome young man in my final year and after uni we set up our own community arts company. It was a bloody hard slog at first but eventually we worked full-time in schools, youth groups and other organisations, offering creative projects that promoted confidence and wellbeing.
The company completely consumed me and for several years I didn’t care – I was in my element. However, when the man I’d set it up with decided he’d had enough of me and the business, things took a bit of a nose dive. As somebody who has always felt things pretty intensely, this heartbreak beat me right down.
Therein followed the most tumultuous year of my life – 2006 – and it took a lot of weird and wonderful things to happen before I realised life was out there waiting for me. In fact, I had such an unusual and empowering experience that I decided to write about the whole thing. I spent the next ten years piecing together what had happened in the form of a story I hoped, one day, people would want to read.
During those ten years, life moved swiftly on. I met my soul-mate in Turkey of all places. We got married, had babies, lived in three different countries and constantly tried to merge our two different cultures. I battled post-natal depression, had two miscarriages, and lost my Dad to cancer just after he retired. I later discovered mindfulness and felt so moved by its power that I learned how to teach it to others.
I now live in Devon in a little town by the sea with my husband and two sons. I work for a charity called Bluebell Care, who support parents with their peri-natal wellbeing, and I teach mindfulness to young people and families. I’m also delighted to say that the story I took ten years to write – all about that crazy year I had in 2006 – is about to be published as a trilogy called ‘Life Is Yours’.
It really feels like everything has started to align for me and I put that mostly down to really getting to know myself during my darkest moments, not shying away from the parts of myself that are harder to face. I guess this is so that during the lighter times I am able to claim life as my own and live it with as much authenticity and enthusiasm as possible.
What’s your biggest dream in life?
Up until now my dream has been to have a novel published. You know, actually see it on the shelves of a book shop. Now that is happening I’m shifting my dreams up a notch. Honestly? I’d really love for the Life Is Yours books to be made into a movie or a TV series. I’ve always been able to see the characters so clearly in my head and I think the story would translate really well. I’d love to have a British Director like Danny Boyle take it on!
And at the same time, I also feel like I’m living my dream. Yes, life is full of hardships but I have two amazing kids, a husband I love deeply, I live in a beautiful place and I get to do work every day that helps the world out a little – whether that’s listening compassionately to a mum with post-natal depression, writing a blog post that helps someone parent more mindfully or teaching a seven-year-old how to meditate. It’s all good!
If you chose a power word for this year what would it be and why?
Oh, I love this question! I think I’d go with ‘Onwards’. One of my favourite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, puts it at the bottom of all her blog posts on social media and I think it’s a wonderful word. It doesn’t say you have to go onwards with any particular attitude. We are all human and sometimes we will move with flair and finesse, other times with stubbornness or exhaustion or sadness. But, if we’re lucky, we all get to move onwards and it’s worth noticing the journey as we do. So I would say that’s been my word this year: onwards at every pitfall, onwards at every jubilation.
Who inspires you and why?
I have to say that my kids inspire me constantly. It’s a difficult balance because they bloody well exhaust me too but the way they see the world is nothing less than inspiring. Something they say or do can be so surprising to me. For instance, my oldest son has just started secondary school ten miles from our home, with none of his regular friends attending. But he has approached the whole thing with such verve, excitement and confidence I can only hope that I can steal a bit of that for my future endeavours.
My husband is pretty much my total opposite. But what that brings with it is a sustained ability to rock my senses into seeing the world differently. Somebody once asked him about one of my many projects: “Do you believe in the things she does?” And he answered: “I don’t always believe or understand the things she is working on, but I always, always believe in her.” And THAT feels inspiring.
What, in your experience, motivates you best? Can you give an example?
I’m totally motivated by anything that feels authentic. I’m big on noticing physical feelings and gut reactions (some of the things I have learned by practicing mindfulness) and if it doesn’t feel right then I just don’t do it. On the other hand, if it makes my soul sing and I see other people smiling too then I’m all over it.
I manage to stay in tune with these feelings by meditating regularly and doing yoga or dancing each day. So, the short answer is that yoga and dance motivate me!
What actions/events/environments would adversely affect your motivation? Can you give an example and how you coped?
As I mentioned in the beginning, I am someone who feels things very intensely. Therefore, I have had brushes with depression and low mood on more than one occasion. This is when my energy becomes very low, the critical voices in my head take over, and I find it difficult to put one foot in front of the other, never mind actually get on with any decent work in the world. I also suffer from pretty huge mood surges and dips during my menstrual cycle that can really affect how I feel and behave.
Luckily, I know that these feelings will pass and that I am bigger than them. I know it’s ok to feel like that as it’s part of the beautiful mess of being human and – contrary to what my younger self might have thought – life doesn’t fit into little boxes of perfection. I am learning to embrace my inner (and outer) dishevelment and I have done a lot of reading and research about menstruation that is supporting me as I move ‘onwards’. I’m also a massive fan of talking. I wear my heart on my sleeve and am not afraid to reach out to people I trust. It is these kind of quietly compassionate connections that make the world go round.
How do you ensure that your personal level of motivation is high on a daily basis?
I don’t really do anything to ensure my motivation is on a ‘high’ as I have been guilty, in the past, of expecting so much from myself. I now have a set of tried and trusted practices that support me gently and lovingly so I can move through my days with a clear focus and sense of authenticity.
These include early morning yoga or Zumba plus a short mindfulness meditation. I also swim when I can (I love the soothing, sway of the water), and ensure I practice – as much as possible – mindful, communication with others including my boys, my husband and my friends. This means making eye contact, putting my phone DOWN, really listening to what they have to say and not rushing my responses.
It sounds weird but by doing and being aware of all of these things, I have a better connection with the world around me and I am more likely to be motivated to achieve the things I really want to do.
Abigail’s debut novel, ‘Life Is Yours’ is available to buy on Amazon and at all good bookshops (publication date, 30th Sep 2019).
To find out more about Abigail you can connect with her here: