Who the f**k do you think you are? 

I’m Lisa Newport, who the f**k are you? 
I’d been quite spontaneous, creative and experimental in all kinds of areas of my life. Confident, sassy and fun. Somewhere along the line this side of my personality had started to wane into the shadows, and I’d lost a sense of who I was.... My identity had been quashed 
Character property or new build? This was a choice I had to make when moving house in 2006. Having lived in a character property with all the associated upkeep, no money to pay experts to do the work and a (now ex) husband who had zero DIY skills for 14 years I chose new build. I saw it as a clean slate and the opportunity to make my mark and stamp my identity. It also had off street parking spaces and more than one bathroom. (These were high on my priorities list.) 
Moving into a new build you are faced with an empty, magnolia shell. We had to buy new curtain poles/blinds for each of the windows. Imagine my delight, when in Homebase, I discovered mix and match sets that had a glitter finial option!!! (A finial is the fancy end knob bit that screws into the pole.)However, my husband thought they would be “too much”. I think it’s telling of how much of my identity had been quashed by this time as I don’t recall arguing his point and we ended up with the plain version. 
He was a lot more conservative and cautious in many of his ways than me, worried about what people might think and fearful of change. These traits seemed to have brushed off on me... 

Body Shaming 

As moving house hadn’t resolved my low mood or the black cloud, I found myself living under I came to the warped conclusion that everything in my life would be better if I lost weight. I started to body shame myself. And so, losing weight became a stick to beat myself with. My self-image and self-worth hit an all-time low and I couldn’t even bring myself to look at my own body in the mirror. I resorted to a shapeless, slimming black wardrobe as dark as my mood. 
It was during a 3 week visit to Spain a while later, that I had time to take stock and gained clarity. I made a few decisions, things had to change. Because what you’re not changing, you’re choosing right? On our return home from that holiday I looked for some teaching work in a hope that it would give me a sense of purpose and raise my self-esteem. 
I got back into the classroom and loved it. I throw my all into work to suppress the unhappiness of my obviously failing marriage and my self hate for my body. Before long I am promoted (twice) and earning more than I’d ever earned before, with 8 weeks paid holiday a year and a fabulous pension scheme. I started to rebuild my self-worth and confidence. I began to get my sense of identity back and I felt more like me again. Things were starting to look up. 

Bullying in the workplace 

Before long though, the role of prison education manager, was sucking the life out of me. It was about unattainable targets and an ingrained, blame culture. I was 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 back to being fed up but also feeling trapped by the golden handcuffs of that great salary, the 8 weeks holiday a year and the fabulous pension scheme – I couldn’t afford to leave. I didn’t feel like I had a choice. 
But 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. The job just wasn’t me. I was completely a square peg in a round hole with an unsupportive team. I was left feeling distressed and not sleeping, it affected my home life too. 
With hindsight I was a victim of bullying which I didn’t recognise at the time because of the way it was perpetrated. A particular group of team members were really horrible and would go out of their way to make things difficult, sabotaging things that needed to be done. They would use diversionary techniques, dodging issues, acting oblivious or playing dumb, withholding information. They were very clever about it; it was all done under the radar in an insidious manner so there was nothing tangible I could complain about. 
2013 was my annus horriblis and everything came to a head. That summer two things happened that completely tipped me over the edge, and I plummeted deeper than ever before. I was the target of a very nasty, callous workplace witch hunt and while I was going through that my husband admitted that he didn’t want to be with me anymore. He left. I properly hit rock bottom . A single parent without a job. 
For the sake of my boy I have to get back up, dust myself down and start afresh. I have to show him that I’m made of sterner stuff and I ain’t no quitter. Besides which, I need to keep a roof over our heads, I’m not prepared to lose my home as well. 

Doing whatever it takes 

Despite these horrible, stressful circumstances I had a tiny flicker of hope still left in me. I recognised that this was my opportunity to reclaim my identity, create boundaries and take control of my future. To be a new and improved version of me. To set a good example to my boy, I realised that I had to invest in, and look after, myself; put my own oxygen mask on first and believe that I was worth it. 
I realised it was important for me, moving forward, to have boundaries and protect myself. I specifically wanted rewarding work that made my heart sing and no nasty boss . I helped build my self-worth back up by doing voluntary work in our local Mind charity shop, styling the mannequins in the window each week. I also delivered make up classes to cancer patients through the Look Good Feel Better charity. Both roles were rewarding. 
I rented out my spare rooms through Airbnb, delivered beginners drawing classes around my kitchen table, took on part time shop work and did anything else I could to supplement my income whilst getting my colour and style business off the ground. 
Thankfully, I came out of the other side of this loss of identity and found myself again with knobs on. It’s my ‘why’ and a powerful part of my story that resonates with many of the women I work with. I’ve been in business over 9 years now and have established myself as a bit of a maverick, supporting other women to proudly embrace their uniqueness. 
Fabulous fifties 
I’m super proud of my achievements. I have raised over £14k for cancer charities in my mum’s memory since 2017, by organising Swishes, clothes swap events that, apart from being an amazing annual community event, also keep clothing out of landfill. 
I’ve been on local TV and radio, been many a podcast guest and spoken to countless groups over the past 9 years. 
I became a published author in 2021, firstly in an anthology, then my own book Project FAB! later in the year. Lastly, I founded the FAB Business Club in 2022, when I couldn’t find the Goldilocks community I was craving. I’m delighted that it is going from strength to strength, and I now have affiliates hosting their own meetings. Women empowering women is such a wonderful thing and I feel blessed to be in that kind of environment with my work these days. I will never take that feeling for granted. 
I reckon I’ve managed to pack quite a lot into my 50’s so far. If you’d told me, I’d have done all this 10 years ago I’d have found it hard to believe. I’m now wondering what else I can achieve in the next 10 years. 
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