The Everyday Determinator Podcast

Blind Inspiration with Fiona Demark

January 02, 2022 Anne Okafor (The Determinator Collective) Season 1 Episode 1
The Everyday Determinator Podcast
Blind Inspiration with Fiona Demark
Show Notes Transcript

EP #001
TW: Mention of Youth Suicide

In this episode, we are speaking with Fiona Demark, who's an inspirational speaker, a life coach based in Melbourne Australia. Who for the past 25 years has been getting people off that treadmill of life and stepping into their power to achieve their dreams.

We discuss:

*Growing Up with a disability

*Advocacy for people with disabilities

You can connect with Fiona here:

Website: Fiona Demark Life Coaching - Achieve your dreams

Instagram: Fiona Demark (@fiona.demark_blind_inspiration) • Instagram photos and videos

Facebook: (3) Fiona Demark - Coach and Inspirational Speaker | Facebook

LinkedIn: Fiona (Johnson) Demark | LinkedIn


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Linkedin: The Everyday Determinator Podcast: Company Page Admin | LinkedIn

Instagram: Everyday Determinator Podcast (@everyday_determinator) • Instagram photos and videos

Twitter: @DeterminatorPod

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Introduction (00:00):

Welcome to The Everyday Determinator Podcast, with your host Anne Okafor, founder of The Determinator Collective. We want to help you get off that hamster wheel of life and turn you into an everyday Determinator by sharing stories from our guests who have overcome varying challenges in life and careers, and by reviewing and signposting you to helpful resources, to start you on the journey to achieving your goals. For more information on The Determinator Collective, please visit Thanks for listening, Determinators.

Anne Okafor (00:50):

Hello, determinators, and welcome to The Everyday Determinator Podcast. In this episode, we are speaking with Fiona Demark, who's an inspirational speaker, a life coach based in Melbourne Australia. Who for the past 25 years has been getting people off that treadmill of life and stepping into their power to achieve their dreams. Hi, Fiona, it's lovely to have you with us. Welcome.

Fiona Demark (01:13):

Thank you. It's lovely to be here.

Anne Okafor (01:15):

So, I'm so excited to learn more about you and your work. Fiona has a track record of assisting others to bring through their barriers and obstacles that are blocking them from reaching their full potential. And this is a road that Fiona knows only too well, through your own personal story of overcoming adversity and building resilience. So, Fiona, can you share a little bit about your story? Where did it begin?

Fiona Demark (01:40):

So I grew up in a little town out in Outback, New south Wales. So literally what you see of Australia jumping kangaroos, red dirt, that's pretty much where I grew up. If anyone's ever watched Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, that was actually filmed in my hometown. So that gives a little bit of an idea, very remote and as much as it shows my age, it was before the days of the internet. So it made it even more remote. Our closest capital city was about five and a half hours away, and not even the same states capital city, was different. So yeah, grew up out there, I guess, limited resources, but in some ways that was great because it made you resourceful in your own ways and quite resilient with the things that were thrown at you in life. And one of those things that had been thrown at me from birth was that I have grown up being vision impaired and am now legally blind. So that was a bit of an adventure along the way. And just learning how to adapt to life with a disability.

Anne Okafor (02:44):

Yeah, absolutely. And I think in such a remote environment as well, I'm sure that came with challenges along the way that were perhaps extra, compared to maybe if you had been in a city environment, possibly. Was that the case?

Fiona Demark (03:00):

In some ways, I think so, but in some ways I think it made it better because I just kind of got on with stuff. So I didn't have the opportunities to go to a special school or have a lot of special assistance. It was more sort of a little bit of ad hoc stuff and I was out there probably getting up to the same mischief as all the other kids, my own age. And my parents had me doing pretty much the same thing as the rest of my siblings. Like I certainly wasn't wrapped in cotton wool and treated any differently. And I think that actually made a huge impact upon my coping abilities with everything for the rest of my life, because it was that really sort of, make it up as you go kind of outcome for everything

Anne Okafor (03:43):

Fab. So, yeah, that's great. So what made you decide to go down the career route that you've went, because it's not a traditional route that people choose maybe at a school sort of age, so what would put you on that path?

Fiona Demark (03:59):

I not only had the disability growing up, but as you face things, I had a bit of an identity crisis just as a teenager in the sense of just working out who I was and what my value was. And some of that did tie back to the disability in terms of, well, what have I got to offer the rest of the world. But at the same token, there was a little bit of school bullying and my dad passed away unexpectedly when I was 15 and sort of that brought up a lot of stuff as well. And I think probably all up, these days, kids would probably not necessarily sort of be left to do that by themselves. But for me, I probably really had some level of clinical depression and it was just never really identified.

Fiona Demark (04:43):

And so not until I had to give a speech and I chose to do it on youth suicide, and it was something that had sort of crossed my mind and I thought, well look, if this is something that is relevant to me, surely it's relevant to some of my other student colleagues as well. And suicide was something that was actually quite a high risk kind of percentage out in that remote kind of area as well. And so, I realized in that moment that I actually did have the power to use my own story, to help other people. And from there, that's what sort of led me to the path of following social work.

Anne Okafor (05:25):

That's really great. I think it's quite underestimated sometimes about the power of our stories. Hence, why we're here talking about your story today and how you've used realizing your own power to help other people do the same, so that's fantastic. Tell us a little about what you do in terms of your day job or your business that you run.

Fiona Demark (05:48):

So at the moment I'm doing like a handful of different bits and pieces, other than running my everyday government day job. My own business is in life coaching and an advocacy kind of position for people who have disabilities. And also public speaking to share my story and to help other people overcome adversity, and to sort of turn the challenges in life into strengths. And so that's where I'm at, at the moment. So, some of it's group workshops, some of it's individual coaching, some of it's that sort of more presentation kind of theme.

Anne Okafor (06:25):

Fabulous. It sounds really interesting and quite varied as well. I'm sure you're busy. What's your favorite thing about what you do at the moment in terms of [inaudible 00:06:34]?

Fiona Demark (06:35):

Yeah, seeing the changes that people could make, and even just the small changes that suddenly make a huge difference. A great example, as I had a lady that I was coaching and she'd moved into her house approximately two, two and a half years ago, and all of that time, she had never bothered to fix her stairs. And so every time she went up and down her stairs, however many times that was a day, she would sort of see that the stairs still needed to be finished off, like they needed to be sanded or repaired or whatever it was that needed to happen to finalize the stairs.

Fiona Demark (07:10):

And within a month of doing coaching sessions, she had the handyman out and the stairs are all carpeted. And so now every time she goes up and down the stairs, she feels this sense of accomplishment and achievement, that the coaching has actually made a big difference in her life. And that is then building momentum to some of the bigger things that she might be struggling with from a personal perspective. But just those little things that you see every day, that just niggle at the back of your brain, they're easy souls. And so to get people to be able to realize, well sometimes it's not about taking the big steps it's about taking the baby steps and just getting there bit by bit.

Anne Okafor (07:52):

Yeah, absolutely. I think there's such a great power in celebrating the small wins. Would you agree with that?

Fiona Demark (07:58):

Yep, absolutely. Because if you just set yourself a goal that is a huge goal, like to say, "Okay, I'm going to save a million dollars." Well, every time you look at your bank balance and it's not a million dollars, all you're doing is getting a little bit sad going home, not there yet. But if you look at it and go, "Okay, well, I'm going to have smaller benchmarks. Okay well I've got a thousand dollars and now I've got $5,000 and $10,000 and, wow, now it's half a million dollars." Then every time you get to that little next benchmark, then you can see that you are achieving what you're setting out to achieve. And even though the big goal still might be not quite there yet, you're still showing yourself that you heading in the right direction.

Anne Okafor (08:43):

No, I absolutely agree with that. And I think the, back to the story with the lady, with the stairs, seeing that every time she goes up her stairs and thinking I did that, it gives you that little bit of confidence to take on the next thing that you've maybe been putting off as well. And maybe the next challenge is a little bit spicier than the last one. So, I think that's actually really great. So what sort of advice would you give to someone who is going through some sort of challenge, like that at the moment and is struggling to make that first baby step? What advice would you give them?

Fiona Demark (09:18):

Just take the step. Don't wait until something's better or the situation seems like it's more ideal because you can always have more money, a better time, a better situation, I don't know, like more study, more something. There's always that more that you can have, but at the end of the day, every day and every moment is a new opportunity. And if you just start with that tiny baby step, that first step is the beginning of the journey.

Anne Okafor (09:46):

That's great. I think there's definitely big power in taking that first step isn't there? In terms of your own story, obviously, you've had some adversity and challenges as many of us do. What do you wish your younger self knew, that you now know, about what you're doing today? Is there some advice that you would give your younger self? It seems like from a quite a young age, you were quite determined and you were quite tenacious in being you, and wanting to do what you had in mind. I get that impression from you, that you were determined to succeed regardless of challenges and things that you come across.

Fiona Demark (10:28):

Yeah. Look, I don't know whether some of it's determination, maybe some of it's stubbornness, I'm not quite sure. Sometimes it's that whole theory of well, someone said that it can't be done or someone says, well you can't do that, you're disabled. And it's like, you watch me. So that's kind of one little, I guess, thing that happens in my brain. The other thing is that, if I could go back to that 13 year old self and sort of say, okay, well stop thinking all the negative stuff. Like really the world isn't as bad as you think it is. And although it may seem all doom and gloom in the moment, that there is always a way forward. And as the tiny little steps that you're going to try and make, will move you in that direction that you want to go in. And even though it's hard, you will get there, but you just need to be kind to yourself along that journey and stop thinking all that negative stuff, because that doesn't really achieve anything.

Fiona Demark (11:26):

And looking back on it, I think all of our challenges in life, there's a success in there somewhere. And when you're feeling down and out and the worst has happened, you really struggle to see that success or that positive thing that can come out of it. But at the end of it, if we didn't have those bad times, we would never be able to celebrate the good times because we wouldn't know what the difference was, and everything would just be boring and every day. And so I think to be able to look back and go, okay, well, I can really experience this good thing now because I do know what it's like to suffer the bad thing. And even that bad thing, I can now come out of that with some kind of strength or experience or positive thing that I can look back and say, I've learned from it, even if that experiences is that I don't ever want to do that again, then at least's something.

Anne Okafor (12:16):

Sometimes that's as good as anything, sometimes just knowing that you don't want to do that again, or that wasn't for you is as good an experience as anything in terms of learning.

Fiona Demark (12:28):

That's so much better than living with regrets. Like at least you gave it a go and it didn't work rather than wondering what if.

Anne Okafor (12:35):

Absolutely. I agree. We're totally on the same page in terms of that. So did you have any mentors or role models along the way that have particularly stood out in terms of overcoming challenges, or helping you with your career path that you chose? I know you mentioned you did a social work degree, and again, I presume that it probably came with some challenges, maybe given a disability, was there things to overcome that?

Fiona Demark (13:01):

Yeah. Look, I mean, as I said, I think it goes back to that whole determined kind of mindset and go, okay, well now I've set this out for myself and I'm going to make it happen. And so, that going to university meant leaving my little country town. I was a week after my 18th birthday, I jumped on the train with my suitcase and traveled to Sydney to the capital city, which was, I don't know, over a thousand kilometers away. And set myself up and put myself through university, and that was one of those things that I just went, "This is what I need to do."

Fiona Demark (13:37):

In terms of mentors, look, I think having teachers that were really supportive, especially in high school was really, really influential. I think that could have been a breaking point where my life could have been made more difficult or less difficult, and the support that I got from the teaching staff was really great in terms of, okay, well maybe we need to think outside of the square because you can't do some of the stuff that the other kids do. And the ones that actually did take me under their wing were really influential, where the ones that kind of said, well, no, we expect you to fit inside of the box, and when you don't, we don't have any time for you. Then they're the ones that sort of weren't, maybe they were influential in a different way, I guess.

Fiona Demark (14:23):

So perfect example would be the PE teacher that said, "Oh, well you can't play cricket or you can't play basketball with the rest of the kids. So therefore you can just sit on the side and not do anything." Where there was another PE teacher that said, "Okay, well, if you can't do that, let's adapt our class to work out what you can do." And they actually adjusted the PE class to accommodate what I could do rather than all the things that I couldn't. And so, those people were quite influential in suddenly going, okay, well you don't always have to follow the rules. You can think differently and make the world a better place for whoever comes along with a different need.

Anne Okafor (15:04):

And it makes it such a more inclusive environment, for everybody as well because I'm sure your classmates would have learned something about that and about adapting to include everybody. Which I think is really important as well. Certainly we speak a lot about that in the workplace now, about inclusion and it's so important that we make environments that are available to everybody so that everybody's talents can get a chance to shine. And everybody can get into the workplace and do the jobs that they want to do rather than what society decides is what they're limited to, I guess.

Fiona Demark (15:41):


Anne Okafor (15:42):

It's something we shouldn't be putting barriers on people and deciding like, this is the box, and like you say, adapting to allow a different outcome. And I think that's really important. So, I'm glad that you did have some teachers that were like that and the importance of that has come through as well. In terms of learning and learning lessons, presumably you still continuous learning and what do you do now to continuously keep up with things like workplace inclusion and self-education, I guess, like what are the things you do? Resources you go to? What's your go-to?

Fiona Demark (16:27):

Absolutely. Yeah. Look, I mean, I think if you can wake up in the morning and then go to bed at nighttime and you've not learned one thing during the day, then your day hasn't been productive. I think you need to learn something new every day. And so if I'm getting towards the end of my day and I haven't learned something, I will go and pick up a book or go and search out something on the internet. I use even things like YouTube or like I'm an avid reader, so there's always a book. Getting audio book happening or an e-book.

Fiona Demark (16:57):

And look with workplace, I'm actually I'm the chairperson for the disability advocacy group for people with disabilities, with the department of transport. So it keeps me really up to date. And it's just something that's interesting because I've got the social work background and the input of lived experience, but it's interesting to then learn things all about policy and all sorts of other integration things that normally wouldn't have been my strength. And so that's been a really interesting journey as well.

Fiona Demark (17:27):

And I think I'm one of those people that will put my hand up and say, yep, I'll give this a go and let's see how it works out. And look, I've got the capacity to also say, "Well, whoa, this is not working or it's too much for me." And I need to step back, but to not be afraid to give it a go and learn something new in the beginning is really important. And just find things that challenge me. So my latest adventure is I have, well, when we're not in lockdown here in Melbourne, I have been doing pole dancing classes. So for a 45 year old woman, pole dancing class, is actually really hard work.

Anne Okafor (18:05):

Yeah, I can imagine it looks, well, I guess some of them make it look really easy.

Fiona Demark (18:09):

They make it look easy but-

Anne Okafor (18:12):

It's incredibly difficult. I think that actually making it look easy is a talent in itself, I think.

Fiona Demark (18:20):

Yep. How to get yourself hanging upside down, holding on by one arm without falling on your head is definitely an art.

Anne Okafor (18:29):

No, I agree with that. What other things do you do to balance your work and life? Do you have other hobbies as well as obviously pole dancing and reading and lots of different things?

Fiona Demark (18:41):

Yeah. I see a personal trainer twice a week and I have been challenging myself, there's a hill at one of our little local national parks, that is quite a steep hill. I don't know what the gradient is, but when I first started going up and down this hill I was exhausted to walk to the top of it again. I was like totally puffing and huffing and ready to fall on the ground. And my aim is, I'd sort of said before Christmas, but because we've been in lockdown, I've not been able to go into it for a few weeks, so I might have to extend that goal a little bit. But the theory was is that I want to be able to run up that hill at some point.

Fiona Demark (19:22):

So always just setting these little challenges in my head, but yeah, look, we're in this little bit of a strange place in the world right now, I think, but normally I love going out to dinner and just trying different things and tasting things. So I'm quite happy to go to the French restaurant and eat snails for example. And just kind of get out there and really extend those barriers and challenge myself to do different and exciting things.

Anne Okafor (19:55):

I think that's really a great way to look at things, and just sort of moving your comfort zone every slightly, even if it is just slightly and a little challenge and a little challenge, but actually over time that really compounds into something much larger. And you can look back probably on yourself maybe a few years ago, and you say, "Oh wow, where I've come from." Because the little wins do mount up. And I think it's quite understated and not always appreciated just how important the little wins can be. So on the flip side of successes, what about your biggest failure? Has there been something where you've had a failure? Or a lesson? I guess I don't really like to think of them as failures Because as you've said [crosstalk 00:20:44]

Fiona Demark (20:43):

Failure is a horrible word.

Anne Okafor (20:45):

Exactly, there's lessons in everything that we do, but has there been a moment where you've had a lesson? What was the impact of that on you?

Fiona Demark (20:54):

Yeah, I think all of life is serving us up lessons along the way. I think if we are looking at lessons in life and things that have come out from it, I think one of the toughest decisions that I had to make is when my ex-husband and I split up and he had been a primary carer for my children. And so I was working full-time and he was only sort of working part-time and looking after the kids most of the time, because he'd come from a less stable job than I had, when we thought about having children. And so when we divorced and decided to go our separate ways, he wanted to move two hours north of Sydney, where we were living at the time. And to make that decision, as to my kids going with him to live with him, because that was going to keep the best status quo. Like, I mean, he didn't have a job when he moved. So therefore he had plenty of time to spend with my children.

Fiona Demark (21:48):

There was a couple of other children that were in the household that he was moving to, and that was the contrast to them having to go into full-time childcare while I was at work every day. And so that was like a really tough decision and I mean that was 15 years ago now. And I look back on, my older daughter's just about to turn 18, the younger one's 16. And I think, not necessarily being as close as I could have been as part of their lives as a mom, at times that was incredibly tough, but I looked at it and I went, you know what, like I had to keep on reminding myself that I made that decision for the best outcome for those children at the time.

Fiona Demark (22:32):

And as selfish as it seemed at times when I would be in tears going, "Oh my gosh, like this is horrible." It was still that reminder to myself to say, no, there was a reason why I did this and long term they're quite happy doing their thing. One of them has come and lived with me for about 10 years, somewhere in between, and has only just within the last 12 months gone to live back with dad. And that's because the enticement of going to live in Queensland where the beaches were, was pretty exciting over poor Melbourne weather. And I look at that too and although once again, it was a tough decision when she said that she wanted to go and live with their dad and their family again. I said, okay, yep, that's what you need to do.

Fiona Demark (23:14):

And I looked at it and I went well with hindsight, with COVID and whatever else, they've had hardly any lockdown in Queensland. She would've gone absolutely bonkers here in Melbourne being not able to go to school and socialize. She's an extrovert. And so that would've been horrible for her. So everything turns out with a positive in the long run, even when you can't necessarily see it. And sometimes you've just got to remind yourself that those decisions that you're making are right, for whatever reason that you're making them for, no matter how tough they are.

Anne Okafor (23:48):

I think that's it as well sometimes the hardest thing to do is the best thing that you can do. And obviously, your example is a great example of that. And I think reminding yourself of why you made that decision and why it's important that you made that decision at the time, is a really important thing to do. So I just want to ask a few more questions, Fiona, if that's okay? If you were in my shoes, is there a question that you would have asked, that I haven't yet?

Fiona Demark (24:22):

That's an interesting one. I like walking in other people's shoes, because I like to have a different viewpoint from them. And so I'm going to throw it back to you though and say, is there something that you think, that you would like to know about living life as legally blind or vision impaired that you wouldn't normally ask because you think it's inappropriate or not politically correct or something like that? Everyone's got one of those weird burning questions in the back of their brain that they want to ask, but they go, oh no, I won't ask that just in case I offend somebody.

Anne Okafor (24:58):

That's put me right back on the spot, hasn't it? No, I think what I would ask is are there ways that as myself, I'm trying to be better, making my environments more inclusive for people, how can I do that? What can I do that would make things more inclusive? How can I be an advocate more for someone who's legally blind?

Fiona Demark (25:23):

Check, if we're talking about sort of like let's for a few different angles, so if we were thinking about the workplace or providing documentation to somebody, not just assuming that the accessibility is there, to actually say, "Do you need some special accessibility put into place." And this is not just from a vision impaired perspective, this can be any kind of perspective. So if people are setting up a meeting, okay, well, if we expect you to be in the building for that meeting, can you actually get into the building if you've got a wheelchair, or do I need to tell you, oh, okay, well look, we're on level three, but it's really hard to find, you need to go this way or that way to get to it. So actually give people quite clear directions. If it's written information too, this is the one key thing, especially for vision impaired people, is not just sending pictures or screenshots because if someone's reading or using a screen reader, it just sees it as a picture and it ignores it. It doesn't read out any text.

Fiona Demark (26:22):

So if you are sending something as a screenshot, either do a description for it, or just do it as a PDF or something like that instead. And the same thing goes, if you're posting on Facebook, Instagram, all of those things, like they're actually really quite clever with their artificial intelligence now. And most of them will read out some of what's in pictures, but once again, no, just bang a picture up there, like give it some kind of explanation. And just in general, dealing with people with disabilities, I quite often find, and this tends to be a bit of an old school thing, it's not necessarily younger people that do it, but they will speak to the person that you're with. So in my case, if I'm out with my husband, they will address my husband and say, "Oh, would she like this?" He just kind of looks at them and say, well, how about you ask her. Assuming that someone's disability makes them incapable of making decisions or knowing what's going on and speaking to somebody else rather than the person that you're actually addressing.

Anne Okafor (27:22):

Well, thank you for that, Fiona. Definitely I think we can all learn how to be better in these aspects. And it's certainly something that I'm trying to do. I don't always get it right. But I am working to be better along the way.

Fiona Demark (27:37):

It's a learning curve for everybody and you don't know unless either someone tells you or you experience it. And I mean, even just me doing my website, for example, I mean I obviously knew about Alt text, but until I started to do the descriptions of the pictures on my website, you speak to other people and you see their websites and they use their alt text as, I don't know, like Google search words or something, I've got no idea what it is. But yeah, and so once again, when you're using a screen reader, it just reads out all these blah, blah, blah, or the file name and does not tell you anything that's actually useful. Unless you ever actually encounter that, you would never know. You're sort of like, oh, well why is it such a thing as alt text?

Anne Okafor (28:28):

I think that's really one thing I learned actually from being on the clubhouse app, was about people who need the function of the reader back, it's really difficult when you're in that environment. There's loads of people speaking to know who starts and who stops and it's something that I hadn't really considered before, because I've never had that experience. And someone had said to us it would be really useful if you stated who your name is and when you stop speaking before the next person starts because when it comes on the reader and it reads out for me, then I know I can follow the conversation much better. So I think it is learning all the time and it's something that's one of the things I'm throwing myself into is trying to learn how to be more accessible to people.

Anne Okafor (29:15):

And it is a learning curve like you say, because without lived experience, we just don't know. And it's not good enough just to say, I don't know. But I think if we all try and help our neighbors a little bit and to be more inclusive to those around us, I think we can all make the world a little bit of a better place and start getting to there. It's never going to be perfect I guess, but I think we can all try a little bit harder than what we maybe currently do. So thank you for that. And I'll certainly take those tips on board, certainly with the alt text because I know I'm not very good at that one, so I'm going to make a better effort with that. So thank you for helping me with that lesson today, Fiona.

Fiona Demark (29:57):

And I think at the end of the day, if you genuinely are interested and you ask somebody, well look how can I help you better? Most people will be quite happy to say, oh, okay, well look yes, you are genuinely interested and you're asking and so therefore I will give you some tips and assistance, and they'll direct you as to what's going to work for them. Because everyone has an individual situation and so you can have the same disability, but completely different needs. And I didn't even realize that until I spent some time with people. A perfect example is what is accessible for someone in a manual wheelchair isn't accessible for someone in an electric wheelchair, for example. And I just thought, oh, wheelchairs are all the same. But they're not. So it's just asking the question with a genuine interest and respect for people. I think that's the main tip that I can give.

Anne Okafor (30:55):

Yeah. And I think just treating people as individuals rather than boxing them. And like you say, wheelchair well, that must be the same for this type of, like an example. So I think it's really good advice. So thank you for that. A bit of a random one here. What is a song that makes you work a little bit taller or if you had a theme tune song, what would that be?

Fiona Demark (31:19):

I love this question because I never have an answer to it. I have such an eclectic taste in music and have such a huge, I think just my Spotify playlist is like over a thousand songs and I just have it on constant rotation and every one of those songs will do something for me, at some point in time. I am very musically oriented given the fact that I rely on my audio sources a lot. But yeah, like not one particular song I can say, this is always my go to, it's always a huge mixture of things.

Anne Okafor (31:56):

That's really interesting because I'm very much like that as well. Different songs and it can be rock and roll one day and then jazz or something the next day. So it could be, doesn't have any rhyme or reason to it, I guess. It's just what ticks with me one day or the next, so thank you for giving us that insight. Just to sum up, what would be your three tips or pieces of advice for our listeners today on your story or your experience.

Fiona Demark (32:32):

Yeah. To be kind to yourself and know that you are just experiencing life as a journey and we're all learning along the way. And stop listening to all that negative self talk in your head. And remember that if you wouldn't say it to somebody else, don't say it to yourself. So that's the first thing, is a bit of self-kindness. Being grateful for the things that we've got right now. Stop always looking for the grass to be greener somewhere else. And actually just take a moment to go and enjoy the sunshine, smell the flowers feel the rain on your head, all of those really basic things that we are not ever mindful of and we just keep on rushing through our day. Just to take that moment and be grateful for what is happening around us. And there's always something to be grateful for.

Fiona Demark (33:17):

No matter how small it is, there's always that one thing. And so no matter what you're going through and how bad things seem, that little bit of gratitude. And the third one is don't be afraid to take risks. I think so many of us just get stuck in our own little day to day comfort zone bubble, and you don't ever grow, you don't ever learn anything new unless you're willing to step outside of that bubble. And no matter how, if you're feeling uncomfortable, that's actually a good thing because it means that you're actually getting an experience out of life by feeling uncomfortable and going outside of that comfort zone.

Anne Okafor (33:54):

Yeah. I remember once our doctor had said to me, I'm terrible phobia for dentist, which I am working towards, but I remember the dentist, the doctor telling me that the same feeling of anxiety and fear about something is the same of excitement. Like if you want to go on a rollercoaster, the same sort of feelings that you get. So I think step outside and put yourself in that uncomfortable fear because you've got to get through that, to be able to get to learn and grow and things like that.

Fiona Demark (34:27):

Absolutely. I was reading something yesterday. Actually I'm talking about public speaking, and they we're talking about people that are fearful of public speaking, and instead of trying to make yourself calm, which doesn't really work because you're going from, like you said, that feeling of anxious and that bam, bam, bam, to actually go back and be chill and calm is actually really difficult. So to translate that into excitement and anticipation is actually much easier. So change the fear into something that is still at that same level of emotion, but something that's positive rather than negative.

Anne Okafor (35:08):

Yeah. And use all that energy to do something positive and productive and to like give a good talk. So it's actually the comparison with public speaking, is actually how I kind of challenge my dental phobia. Like, well, if I can stand up and speak to all these people, and public speaking is supposed to be the scariest thing you can do, you can't go to the dentist. Being able to almost put that on a level with, and just say, well, if you can do that you need to be thinking about doing this. So yeah, I think you can always turn something into positive even if it's been holding back for a long time. So, that's really great.

Fiona Demark (35:49):

Just imagine the feeling of achievement that you have when you walk out of the dentist and say, yes, I did it.

Anne Okafor (35:54):

Yeah. Well, I've actually been to a couple sessions now and I'm starting to get that little bit of reaction to do the next step and I can do the next step. And having that little bit of trust in the dentist, has been really helpful, but yeah, it's like walking a bit taller when you come out. Because you think, well, I've done that and I've not been able to do that for 15 years, but now I'm able to do that. So it does make you walk a little bit taller and it allows you to do the next thing, which is a little bit scarier than the thing you've just done.

Fiona Demark (36:22):

Well done.

Anne Okafor (36:24):

Yeah, so that's great. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Fiona. Where can our listeners find you on socials or your website if they would like to connect and learn a bit more about what you do?

Fiona Demark (36:41):

So I'm all over the place and as we've all learnt during COVID, Zoom is the way to go. So just because I happen to be halfway across the world or nearly the whole way across the world, the connection can certainly still be made. I can do coaching sessions, presentations, everything via Zoom. And so easiest place to find me is my website, so Socials, I'm really trying to boost my Insta at the moment because that's where I'm starting to share all my day to day inspirational stories. And so you'll be able to see all the little antics of things that I'm getting up to. I just put some pole dancing pictures up the other day actually. So that one is fiona.demark_blind_inspiration and I'm also on Facebook, and you can just find me under Fiona.Demark and also on LinkedIn, Fiona Demark, and Demark is Denmark without the N that's the easiest way to remember it.

Anne Okafor (37:41):

That's super, thank you so much for sharing your story of resilience and how you've been able to step into your power with us today, Fiona, you're remarkable. So whether you're bouncing back from a challenge or storming forward, the Determinator Collective is here for you. Stay remarkable.

Outro (37:57):

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