I am a member of Alison’s team in Forever and have found the experience has been great. My background is working in a local authority and so I enjoy being part of a wider team that helps me develop my own business.
I am enjoying the networking element of my new business – and the way that small businesses work together to help each other.
Like Alison I am looking for existing business owners who are interested in adding an extra income stream to their current business. Get in touch with me if you know of anyone who fits the bill.

Silicon Bullet Forever

I have run my own business now since 2000 and I’ve always been the sort to try to do everything myself.  If I can get the task done and I have time, why should I pay someone else to do it?
Trying to do too much.
Since I have been a keen networker, though, over the last four years I have gradually learned that doing everything yourself is not necessarily the most cost-effective and best way to run your own small business.  When those jobs that you really don’t enjoy start to pile up, isn’t it better to outsource them to someone who can do them quickly and efficiently and then get on with the jobs you know that you are skilled at? I have now met many other small business owners, and by trading services and assisting each other, we can all help each other to grow.

I joined Forever Living in June 2012…

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This is a question I kept asking myself when I was working in an office job which meant that I had very little flexibility about what I could do and when. As my office was a sun trap with no air conditioning, the question became even bigger on the hot summer days when I felt like I was being cooked!

Since I left school I have always worked in local authorities, first as a librarian and then as a manager rising to the heady heights of Assistant Director managing Libraries, Archives and Adult Learning – all areas that I have a passion about. However, it had taken me away from the things that I really valued when I first started work, and I wanted to find a way to go back to these principles and still earn a good living. So what did I do?

When I started working I went into a job that:

  1. had a lot of variety – no 2 days were the same
  2. included regular contact with people every day helping them answer their questions and find what they needed
  3. made a difference to people’s lives
  4. taught me something new every day
  5. was not Monday to Friday  9-5 – I enjoyed working evenings and weekends as it meant I had time off in the week to do other things I enjoyed.

What happened to me, as with a lot of people I know, is that as I was promoted I ended up in a job which took me away from many of these values. I was still making a difference to people’s lives but from a distance not directly face to face.

I decided in 2011 that I wanted to find a role that gave me a more flexible lifestyle and which took me back to the principles I valued when I first started my working life.

It took me a bit of time to find the solution that suited me – and it has taken me into a whole new world of Direct or Multi level Marketing. It can also be called Network Marketing.

What I particularly liked about this way of earning a living is:

  • the fact that it can be done around an existing job and commitments
  • it lets you build your business in a steady way while still earning from another source which takes away some of the risk in starting your own business
  • the start up costs are really low compared with running a shop which was something I had done before with my ex husband
  • the excellent training and support I get from my team
  • the fact that I can use my considerable mentoring and coaching experience to help my team develop their own businesses

What am I doing now?

  1. building my own new business with a lot of support as I am an Independent Distributogarden May 2010 001r for Forever Living
  2. meeting lots of lovely new people every day
  3. helping people to improve their lives by supporting them to earn an extra income flexibly around their current commitments
  4. helping people to improve their health and wellbeing with wonderful products
  5. feeling much healthier having lost 3 stone and having the time to exercise every day and eat a better diet
  6. enjoying being able to spend time with my family and friends without having to ask permission for time off
  7. working from an office in my home

This post is the first in a series I will be doing on this alternative way of earning a living and the difference it has made to my life and that of others.

If you are interested in starting your own business working with me in my team do not hesitate to get in touch and we can see if we can do business together.

My sister and me - feeling great using our Forever Living products

My sister and me – feeling great using our Forever Living products

This post is in response to the regular questions I have had from colleagues and friends about whether Forever Living caters for the gluten free diet, and which products are suitable. I will include lists at the end of the post which were on the UK Forever Knowledge site in November 2013.  A Forever Living independent distributor, like me, can access the list from the UK website – I am not sure if similar lists are available in the other 154 countries where you can currently purchase Forever Living products. If they are, please add a comment to this post to let us all know.

A little bit about me

I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease in 2004 after developing a bad back which meant I could hardly walk, and with shooting pains that went all the way down one leg in December 2013.  The tests done on me to find out what caused the problem found that I was chronically anaemic as well and at one point, very briefly leukaemia was mentioned. Luckily for me it was identified that I had a trapped nerve and was a coeliac.  I am the third person in my immediate family to develop an auto immune disease as one of my brother’s has Crohn’s disease and my sister has Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had never had the classic symptom of being under weight, just the anaemia and regularly diarrhoea which always happened when I was stressed as well as being prone to stomach bugs. I had had gastroenteritis in 2000 and my specialist thinks this is what triggered the Coeliac disease to start.  I also had a Dexa scan to check my bone density, as I was in my late 40’s and it was found that I had osteopaenia, and I started the menopause early.

I rapidly put on 1 stone then another after going on the gluten free diet. I have always been reasonably careful with my diet and do not knowingly eat gluten as if this is what I need to be healthy and have a long life then I will stick to the diet. I also knew that even if I was not losing weight when eating gluten it was having a detrimental effect on my health in ways that I couldn’t see straight away. I found out the first time I had gluten by accident that I now reacted very strongly with  diarrhoea and vomiting, and also losing the ability to string sentences together (although some say that is normally for me).

Food and Forever Living

I did not like the fact that I had put on a lot of weight, but I found the thought of calorie or points counting too much while also having to check everything for gluten. What I liked about Forever Living when I first found out about the company is that they have very clear information about which of their products I can use which makes choosing and using them really easy. I am heating a healthy balanced diet (now I have started running my own business) but still feel the need to take additional supplements to make certain that my body is getting all of the nutrition it needs.

I particularly like the fact that most of the Forever products start with a large amount of organic, good quality aloe vera and then add other natural products to it.  I did some research into studies that have found that aloe vera has the potential to help people with other Irritable Bowel Disease live with the condition better. I have since developed another IBD – Microscopic Colitis – due to the stressful job I used to do, and I have found that drinking aloe vera has helped me to feel better, and the condition of my skin, nails and hair has also improved.

So, if you are a coeliac, or intolerant to wheat gluten have a look at the list below and see if there are products there that tempt you. Forever has a 60 day money back guarantee when you buy from an approved distributor so you can try the products at no financial risk to yourself.

This is a list of the products that are shown as gluten free in the United Kingdom as of November 2013 is:

Aloe Berry Nectar
Aloe Blossom Herbal Tea
Aloe Vera Gel
Forever A-Beta-CarE
Forever Active HA
Forever Active Probiotic
Forever Aloe Bits N’ Peaches
Forever Aloe2Go
Forever Arctic-Sea
Forever B-12 Plus
Forever Bee Honey
Forever Bee Pollen
Forever Bee Propolis
Forever Calcium
Forever Echinacea Supreme
Forever Fast Break
Forever Fast Break Ultra
Forever Freedom
Forever Freedom2Go
Forever Garcinia Plus
Forever Garlic-Thyme
Forever Ginkgo Plus
Forever Kids
Forever Lean
Forever Lite Ultra-Chocolate
Forever Lite Ultra-Vanilla
Forever Lite-Chocolate
Forever Lite-Vanilla
Forever Lycium Plus
Forever Multi-Maca
Forever Nature’s 18
Forever Nature-Min
Forever Pomesteen Power
Forever Royal Jelly
Forever Vision

The following cosmetic products are also certified as gluten free – taken from the site in November 2013:

25TH Edition Cologne Spray for Men
25TH Edition Perfume Spray for Women
Aloe Activator
Aloe Bath Gelee
Aloe Body Conditioning Creme
Aloe Body Toner
Aloe Cleanser
Aloe Ever-Shield
Aloe First
Aloe Heat Lotion
Aloe Jojoba Shampoo
Aloe Lips with Jojoba
Aloe Liquid Soap
Aloe Lotion
Aloe Moisturizing Lotion
Aloe MSM Gel
Aloe Propolis Creme
Aloe Sunless Tanning Lotion
Aloe Sunscreen
Aloe Sunscreen Spray
Aloe Vera Gelly
Aloe Veterinary Formula
Avocado Face & Body Soap
Firming Day Lotion

IMG_0239Until I started my Forever Living business I did not realise that there are around 400 species of Aloe plants found in the world. They are each beneficial in their own way, but there is one species that has been recognized for millennia for its magically soothing abilities – the one that Forever Living use. It is the most potent and effective aloe and is called the Barbadensis Miller.

The History

Aloe Vera is one of the oldest recognised botanicals and records of this plant exist on Sumerian clay tablets from as early as 2200 BC.  An ancient papyrus from 1552 BC which is a medical treatise on listing the use of plant materials as cosmetics and drugs include 12 different formulae for Aloe Vera preparations. So maybe the stories that Nefertiti, Cleopatra and Alexander the Great knew of the value of Aloe Vera is correct.

The name Aloe Vera (True Aloe) is thought to derive from the Arabic word alloeh, Syrian alwai, or Hebrew   halal, meaning a ‘shining bitter substance’. This is why the old laxative remedy ‘Bitter Aloes’ is still listed in the US Pharmacopeia.

The virtues of the plant have been recorded by a number of other great civilisations including Persia, the Middle East, China, Greece, Italy, India and the African continent. It is still a vital part of the health care regime in China as part of their herbal medicine systems. It is also identified as one of the most valuable plants in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine.

In the early 19th century it was being described in Great Britain as the ‘silent healer’.

It has been endowed with so many marvellous properties that it has been given thousands of evocative names over the centuries. My favourite one is the Japanese ‘ISHA IRAZU’ which means ‘no need for a doctor’. 

What about the Aloe that Forever grows?

One key element to the success of Forever’s products is our commitment to quality and purity. Forever’s aloe vera is grown without using herbicides, pesticides or any artificial colourings or preservatives Forever’s patented stabilisation process ensures that our aloe vera is essentially identical to the inner leaf gel. Forever’s aloe is certified by the International Aloe Science Council which is a confirmation of excellence.

Forever’s aloe vera is not certified organic because a lot of our aloe is grown in the Dominican Republic and Mexico as well as in the U.S, in order to meet the huge worldwide demand. Texas and U.S. organic certification officials are not allowed to visit Forever’s aloe fields outside the U.S, as Forever do not subscribe to the Texas and U.S. organic certification programs which, allows the use of some materials that Forever do not consider environmentally friendly.

This video below shows what the Forever Living Aloe Vera fields look like in the Dominican Republic

What does it do?

It is known for:

  • its beneficial effect on bowel function aiding healthy digestion and acting as a natural ‘balancer’
  • balancing the immune system as it acts as a immunomodulator
  • working on the skin where it is first produced deep in the epidermis by providing essential nutrition to feed the basal cells where they are formed
  • increasing the activity of fibroblasts which are specialised skin cells that produce elastin and collagen
  • soothing muscles and maintaining healthy joints and flexibility because it contains salicylic acid and plant sterols
  • being a useful source of a wide range of minerals, vitamins and 19 of the 20 amino acids needed by the body (including 7 of the 8 essential ones the body cannot make itself)
  • soothing minor burns and stressed skin
  • helping to aid in your skin’s natural ability to regenerate itself

This post has been written by my daughter about he experience with the medical systems in England and Ukraine. I have to say that Ukraine wins hands down- 10 days to get a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis after the National Health System in England had taken 8 months to get nowhere.
The moral of the story is to listen to your body and keep going to the doctors until you get a resolution to a medical issue.
I am extremely proud of her as she has kept working throughout this experience, including changing jobs and moving to a new country. She would not have coped so well in Ukraine without an absolutely fantastic new boss who, with her husband, have given her a lot of support – especially as Sandra has not learnt enough Russian yet to navigate the medical system.
What makes this worse is that our family have a history of auto immune gut problems – I am a coeliac and also have microscopic colitis, one of my brother’s has Crohn’s. My sister has another auto immune disease – rheumatoid arthritis. In light of this the lack of a referal to a gastroenterologist in England is amazing to me. At least in Ukraine you can to straight to the specialist without having to go through a general doctor.
I hope that her experiences help you to have a better result from the NHS even if you have to be persistent.

Sandy Millin

This post is going to pretty personal, won’t mince words, and doesn’t really have anything to do with teaching, but I wanted to share it to get it out of my system. Feel free to skip it, or to scroll down to ‘The moral of the story’.

(Bear with me – there is a point to this, and a reason I’m telling you in such detail…)

What happened?

In December 2012 I was off work for a month with diarrhoea, which I believed was brought on by exhaustion (a lack of holidays during the year – my own fault because I filled it with London 2012 and Delta) and stress (Delta again). I went to the doctor a few times and they gave me various tests, including a blood test for coeliac, which my mum has, and another for iron – low iron is also a family problem. The coeliac…

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This post is a little late as I celebrated the first birthday of KMC Forever on the 5th September and I am so busy with the business and spending time with my daughter before she flies out to Sevastopol in Ukraine that I did not have a post ready for the day.

So what has my first year been like?

It has been a roller coaster of highs and lows as it is with every new business, but when you make such major changes in your life as I have done that is only to be expected.

At the time that I was first inspired by Forever Living and wanted to become a part of it I was working as an Assistant Director in Dudley Council responsible for the libraries, archives and adult learning services in the borough. I was passionate about the services and liked working for my boss Andrea and with my team, especially Jayne, Jen, Ros and Viv. However the job was not suiting me as my health was not good and I had developed Microscopic Colitis during 2012. I knew that if I wanted to ensure that I had a good quality of life and a better work/life balance I would have to do something about what I was doing. I was looking around and developing ideas, but until in August 2012 I went to my first Forever Living Business Presentation in Milton Keynes with my sister, and now sponsor, Alison Mead I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

I was absolutely blown away by Forever Living and the ethical way the company is run. The founder Rex is really generous creating a range of incentives for distributors. The company has Investors In People Gold award in the UK. This is an award given for excellent support and training for people working with or in an organisation. When I worked for the Council I didn’t even know there was more than one level, and we struggled to get the basic level. I already knew I loved the products as I had been buying them from my sister. They had helped me improve my hair, nails and skin; recover more quickly when I had problems linked to my coeliac disease or microscopic colitis and helped me to better maintain my internal health.

I went straight into work and applied for redundancy as part of the budget saving process the council was going through.

What happened next?

I paid my £199. 75 for my business in a box starter pack which meant I joined the business at Assistant Supervisor level with a 35% return on any products I sold. I started reading up on the products, attending trainings, the Success Express and replacing all items in my house where Forever did an equivalent including:

  • Toothpaste
  • Avocado Soap
  • Shower gel
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hand and face soap
  • Multi purpose detergent – washing up liquid, clothes washing and cleaning the house
  • Antiperspirant
  • Cleanser
  • Propolis creme as a hand cream and for cuts
  • Aloe Lips and Aloe Gelly for cuts, grazes and burns
  • Sonya Serum as a moisturiser and a base for my makeup
  • MSM cream to help my broken wrist to heal and to ease the aching in it.

I started to sell the products to friends and colleagues during the long 6 month wait until I finally left Dudley. I quickly got to the basic level of retailing/ using a minimum £800 worth of products (at retail value) and have done this every month since.

What I didn’t manage to do until July was the other element of developing my business which is recruiting team members and helping them to develop their own small businesses. For me I found that my health was not good enough to take that final step. I have now got my first 2 team members though a great way to celebrate my first birthday and my business is beginning to take off.

And what about my health?

I have never felt better. Kate Before and After Nutri LeanThis photo is before and after shots showing how well I look now after losing 2.5 stone (15.8 kg) slowly and healthily since Christmas using the Clean 9 and Nutri-lean programmes. I am exercising regularly and eating more balanced and healthy meals as a result of the improved habits developed through following the programme.

I am really excited about my future and looking forward to developing my KMCForever business helping others to improve their health and incomes too. Roll on my 2nd business birthday.

Yesterday (30th March 2012) was a more interesting day than usual for me in my experience as a Coeliac who regularly eats out, but who is really poor at planning or checking ahead about what could be available. This often leads to poor experiences, but today I had the best motorway service station experience I have ever had since being diagnosed courtesy of Starbucks at the southbound Warwick services on the M40. As usual I arrived at lunchtime taking pot luck. Much to my surprise my hopefulness was finally rewarded with the choice of not 1 but 2 savoury gluten free items for lunch. One was a ham salad sandwich, and the second a lovely salad. I celebrated with one out of the choice of 2 gluten free cakes. My only sorrow in this is that I am not hopeful of repeating the experience every time I visit a Starbucks, but at least I can enjoy it this time.

Unfortunately my second experience at the Holiday Inn at Brentford Lock was not so good. When I asked the waiter what was gluten free on the menu as I am a Coeliac he looked confused and asked me for my room number. I gave it to him and he went off to the bar- I should have asked him why as I had not said I was coeliac when booking the room. He came back saying there was no company of that name registered to the room! My explanation had obviously not worked. I had omitted to transfer my normal fall back – an information card- to my new handbag so found the electronic one I have as an app on my I-phone. His face cleared and he took my phone to show the chef. Imagine my surprise then when my order came – a similar kebab to the one I had really ordered but which included sausages. As the experienced coeliacs among you know sausages are not usually okay for us. I have to admit to giving up at this point as I was hungry and tired so I just took the meat off the skewer and left the sausages – risky I know but I couldn’t face having another discussion with the waiter and didn’t think of asking for the duty manager. The waiter did come and ask if everything was okay and I said ‘no I have been given sausages I cannot eat’ and he smiled and walked away.

31st March 2012 update

I have tweeted my unhappiness at my treatment yesterday and been recommended to talk to the duty manager by a representative of the company, which I am about to do, but wanted to write this first.

Tonight I had a much better experience eating in the Holiday Inn at Brentford Lock following my discussion with the duty manager who checked and ordered my meal himself ( using the same I-pad information card I used last night). I hope my experience means that coeliacs using this hotel in the future get a better response than I did.

I find complaining about issues relating to my Coeliac condition quite difficult which is strange when you consider the extremes discomfort that a mistake will cause me. I found it easier to relate it through facebook, twitter and this blog. Maybe it is just too personal? I have made a promise to myself to be more proactive and this weekend is the start of that – it will be interesting to see if I keep it up. It is far better for me to follow up my writing about the issues by talking to the people concerned to help them to understand, or even talk to the, straight away if I can get myself to do so.

The Arts Council England (ACE) have published this document on the 13th September 2011. It is intended to demonstrate how the strategic responsibility they are taking on for museums and libraries from October 2011 fits with their existing strategic framework ‘Achieving great art for everyone‘.

I have found it an interesting read, especially in relation to my role as Black Country Library Services Project Manager. I can see a lot of synergies in what I am trying to achieve with the ambitions for the sector as set out in this document. I am looking forward to seeing how this develops.

In particular I think the long-term goals for libraries and museums they list will be a useful reference point as library and museum services develop and change over the coming years (especially when difficult situations are being faced):

Goal 1: Excellence is thriving and celebrated in museums and libraries
Goal 2: More people experience and are inspired by museums and libraries
Goal 3: Museums and libraries are sustainable, resilient and innovative for everyone today and looking forward
Goal 4: The leadership and workforce in museums and libraries are diverse and highly skilled.
Goal 5: Every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of museums and libraries.
There are some particularly useful statements that I am sure I will see quoted in a number of key strategic documents in the future.

What has been particularly useful, as far as I am concerned, is the literature review that has been done to support this document. I have not seen this kind of review on library evidence in the past. The literature review clearly shows where ACE has found gaps in evidence and what they are planning to do to fill these gaps.

I wait to see with interest what colleagues in libraries think of their proposals, especially the idea of a one day census of library use.

There has been a lot of information/ posts about this subject recently – I am not intending to give instructions on how to use social media in libraries here – that can be found in a number of places. What I will be doing is giving some of my own views on why social media is useful for libraries and librarians, although I am always aware that a medium that works for one person is a complete anathema to another. So please bear this in mind when looking at social media and considering whether it is useful for you or not!

This post was inspired by a post called “the vocal employee” about the actions of some Domino’s employees and what their company did about it. …….It made me think about the fact that not having a social media presence does not stop bad things happening about your company (or library) – and maybe if the company listened to and worked with its employees this situation could have been averted. In my view the risk of not being there is greater than the risk of being an active presence.

You only know what people are saying about you if you are in the same places and listening to/ monitoring what is happening in the places where people go to talk. And if you are there listening /monitoring, surely it is better to interact and contribute to the conversations rather than being a ‘lurker’. This needs to be part of a planned communication programme so that the messages in all of the media you use (and face to face is one of these) and professional BUT the style used needs to be appropriate to the format you are using. For example, the tone of a news release is very different to a piece of information put onto Twitter. Twitter is a long conversation you dip into and out of and so you need to be interesting and concise. Information on Facebook is a mix of the two. Staff using social media need to be trained and made aware of the ‘do’s’ and ‘do nots” but without taking away their own voice – so long as that voice is appropriate to the image you want to give. One good example of the use of humour is the twitter feed for Orkney Libraries.

It is also excellent PR to be seen to respond to the bad comments – not necessarily to answer them as some issues may be too sensitive – but to say something like

“thank you for your comment – I have passed it onto ………. who will answer you directly”.

You are acknowledging the issue and being seen to respond. It may be that your answers are made public afterwards but the complainer’s points will be made public anyway.

You will also have positive comments and feedback that will be in the public sphere and seen by others – never a bad thing.:-)

The recent issue of how Twitter and Facebook were used during the riots is a case in point. Yes, they were used for negative things, but there was also a major positive element to their use which would be lost if they were switched off during similar occasions in the future. In Wolverhampton, Twitter was used to help to calm down the situation in a very positive way through Superintendent Payne noting the misinformation that was going out and posting information about what was really happening (or more often not happening). This has been continued by regular updates about what has been done about the rioters by the police along with continuing to do his regular posts about the job.

From all of my news feeds I usually find out about what is happening first on, maybe because I check it quite regularly. I can then go to sites with more information either from the tweet or directly to the webpage.

I currently don’t make much use of you-tube or other social media sites, so this musing is based on the ones I find useful .

In my mind the benefits of using social media well outweigh the problems.

And I have eaten out a lot this week – each time I have had a good experience, which is not always the case for the coeliac.

My first good experience was at Woktastic  in Birmingham. I have been there for their lovely Sushi before and asked about gluten-free soy sauce. This time when I went they had got some in (following my previous request). The first good experience.

Then on Thursday I was in London and went to one of the Bella Italia‘s in Leicester Square  as I had been told they have a gluten-free menu, and you don’t have to pre-book your meal. It’s true and the food was good too with a separate menu with plenty of choice.

Then onto Newcastle to visit my daughter, first of all a lovely meal at a local Indian restaurant – Shahira  where they were very helpful and the meal was tasty too.

The next day we had food from another continent with tapas at El Coto  recommended by a Coeliac friend of my daughter. She was right it is excellent, with  a wide range of gluten-free dishes. I only wish there were more restaurants nearer to me in Wolverhampton. As it is those of you in Durham and Newcastle are lucky.

Finally today tapas again – this time La Tasca by the millennium bridge in Newcastle. This is a company I have used before who have clearly marked menu’s.

So I have had a good trip around the world’s cuisines, with all of the experiences excellent. I only wish it was always like this – maybe it will be, I can live in hope…………

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