I reclaimed my identity and space. 

If you’d met me 10 or so years ago, I’d have been wearing a black leather belt. Attached to that black leather belt was a long metal chain. And at the end of the long metal chain was a great big bunch of keys…I was working in a prison. 
This had never been a burning ambition and I’d ended up in jail, making do, because it was an easy option at the time… 
My actual ambition was to be a make-up artist, but as I completed that qualification it became clear, that because of my disability, a job with lots of standing wasn’t feasible.I moved in the more sedentary profession of textiles and fashion design and I worked as a college lecturer for a long time. That was until I became a mum, and then, the tug at my heartstrings at the thought of leaving my beautiful baby boy every day was just too much to bear 

I'm suffering from depression and don't feel like me anymore 

I never went back after maternity leave. Instead I entered the world of party plan selling make up. I LOVED it! I was getting paid for playing with make-up and around for every school run. I go to all the sports days and I’m there to see my son’s stage debut in his first nativity. This is perfect. I’m doing really well, winning all kinds of awards. I even meet Sir Richard Branson several times. 
However, despite this outward success, the dressing nice, doing my hair and make-up every day, I am miserable on the inside. 
I’ve met the black dog. I’m suffering from depression, and I don’t really feel like me anymore. 
I’d gained 5 stone during pregnancy and just hadn’t been able to shift it. Firmly in the plus size category, I hate my body and never feel nice in my clothes. I wear a lot of slimming black. 
The little voices in my head never have anything good to say. Why are you even bothering? You don’t look nice any more… I am in a very negative relationship with myself. I don’t feel like I'm worth it. 

I'd lost my identity 

By this time my relationship with my husband was very negative too; I was making do. We were living separate lives. 
To top this, the party plan company I loved working for changed direction and I wasn’t even enjoying that anymore. 
I was in a rut, making do and didn’t feel like myself anymore, I’d lost my identity. 
The creative, vibrant, sassy, confident Lisa had blended into a magnolia world and I was bored with my lot. 
Something had to change, and this is where the prison comes in. They were looking for an art teacher. 
I got back in the classroom and was loving it. Before long I was promoted and earning more than I’d ever earned before, with 8 weeks paid holiday a year and a fabulous pension scheme. I have my self-worth, my confidence and my sense of identity back. I feel like me again. 
Pretty soon I’m promoted again, but very quickly realise there would be ZERO job satisfaction. 

My self-worth and confidence took a massive dip 

This role, as prison education manager, began sucking the life out of me. I felt trapped, in an office, day in, day out, with bars on the windows filling in spreadsheets. 
My only chance of creativity was doodling in my notepad during the endless meetings. I was so fed up, this time I felt trapped by the golden handcuffs of the great salary, the 8 weeks holiday a year and the fabulous pension scheme – I couldn’t afford to leave. 
I was incredibly unhappy – dreading going to work, with a sick feeling in my stomach churning every night, my self-worth and confidence took a massive dip again. This job is just not me. There is nothing about it that allows me to be myself. 
I couldn’t even wear what I want because of the dress code and that stupid black leather belt 

What would make your heart sing? 

Then two things happened that turn my world upside down…I have a horrible, traumatic experience at work, which leads to me having a total mental breakdown and not long after this my husband, after 23 years admits he doesn’t want to be with me anymore. He left. 
Just before these two things happen, I met a woman who I think was my earth angel. We connected and quickly become good friends. She was my confidant and emotional crutch during this really dark time of my life. 
I was off work - an emotional wreck, struggling to see things in perspective. I spent a lot of time on her settee with tears, tissues and cups of tea as she used her coaching skills to guide me through making sense of everything. 
One afternoon she asked “What would you do if you could do absolutely anything? What would make your heart sing?” and right there the concept of my business was born. 

No more making do 

Despite the circumstances this became a way for me to reclaim my identity. The work stuff and husband stuff left me pretty much at rock bottom but with the help of my little pal Prozac and the amazing support friends I took back control. 
Everything happens for a reason; it just might not be clear at the time. 
To improve my self-worth and boost my confidence I knew that I HAD to invest in myself and believe that I was worth it. No more making do. 
No longer restricted by that black leather belt I returned to dressing more creatively, loving colour and leopard print and sparkly, glittery things. 
I could properly be me. I decorated my bedroom with statement, magenta pink, flamingo wallpaper. It was about reclaiming my identity and space. 
I began online dating for a bit of fun, confident, fun loving, sassy Flamingo Jo behind the keyboard it felt great being me again and before long I met my soul mate. We got married in May 2019, five years to the day, since we had our first chat. 
When I felt like I needed to rise like a phoenix from the ashes it was flamingos instead, that became symbolic with my change and transformation. 

I began to get my mojo back 

All the things that I used to express my identity had gradually disappeared over the years. I’d been hiding away in the ‘slimming black’, my wardrobe had gotten dreary, my home had become bland. My vibrant personality and joy of colour was hiding somewhere in the back of the wardrobe just waiting to be unleashed. 
All that time that I’d wasted being unhappy with my size, feeling in a rut…it was as if, once I’d decided I was worth it, I began to get my mojo back. 
I recognised that I could use the power of my story, plus all of my knowledge and experience with colour, clothes, makeup and teaching skills and bring all that together into a rewarding, fulfilling business that makes a difference to the lives of other women in the same boat. 

Dress with confidence and enjoy self expression 

I'd been fascinated by colour analysis for such a long time, my mum had first had her colours done, way back in the 1980s. I’d always absolutely loved it and dabbled with the theory but had never been able to afford to formally train to do it. 
So, when I got an unexpected windfall, I invested that money and I trained properly in colour analysis and learned about styling. It blended perfectly with my experience of textiles and fashion and my makeup background. 
I pulled it all together into my business, which is about empowering women. I teach them how to dress with confidence and enjoy self-expression through colour and clothes; to reclaim their identity. It’s about compassion more than fashion. When you stand in front of your wardrobe frustrated because you have nothing to wear, often it’s not just about the clothes. 
So many women feel like they're in a rut, especially when they get to 40/50 years old, the kids are getting older but they’re possibly looking after elderly parents now; their body shape has changed, menopause is knocking, they're sometimes experiencing divorce, redundancy or workplace trauma like I had. 
These life experiences conspire to knock your confidence, but by harnessing the power of colour and clothes you can alter so much about who you are, how you feel and how you show up in the world. You can absolutely be who you want to be and express yourself whatever your age, shape or size. 

Become a flamingo amongst the flock of pigeons 

So, it’s my passion now to help other women reclaim their identity, boost their self-worth and confidence; no more making do. 
It's my absolute mission to help women shift from feeling drab to fab, ok to awesome and help them become the flamingo amongst the flock of pigeons. 
Recognise your exclusive skills set, knowledge and experience. Appreciate that you are one of a kind and embrace that uniqueness. Your journey is pertinent. Everything in you’ve encountered in life has been relevant to get you to where you are today. 
If any of my story resonates and you feel like you are ready to make a change check out my coaching and mentoring packages here 
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