Hi all! Can you believe the end of 2015 is almost upon us? It’s been quite a dynamic year for me and I have had the privilege of reading, seeing, experiencing so many great and useful things that I just had to share them. This is quite a chunky post as I came across a vast amount of fantastic stuff but I’m hoping to make this a monthly feature in the new year so they shouldn’t all be as lengthy!
I’ve had a good dig through my archives to retrieve all manner useful and lovely things but will have no doubt missed some out, so if anything does spring to mind, I’ll be sure to include them in the monthly posts.
Please note: this post consists of my personal opinions and experiences only. I am not sponsored by or part of any affiliate marketing programmes for the products/services/individuals mentioned below.
Courses, Resources & Communities
I began 2015 with 2 challenges; one was to start a 5 year diary and the second was to continue with my 100 happy days. Both are highly recommended. I chose to capture my 100 happy days on Instagram and it served as such a fantastic reminder that no matter what, there is always an opportunity to find something in the day that can lift your spirits and it turned into a great diary of 3 months of my life in pictures too. As for the 5 year diary, well this is a fab little concept, where you are asked the same question on the same date over a 5 year period. I am now about to begin my second year and already looking at some of my responses from earlier in the year is so lovely. I can only imagine how it’ll feel in 2019 when I’m wrapping it up!
During January I wanted to step up my personal development activities again after a very slow end to 2014. I had been following the fantastic Live Your Legend community for a couple of years but never quite made it to any of the local events so this year I made sure I did. Through it I met the most wonderful people and have made such great friends. Check out Live Your Legend Local if you’re interested in joining a community in your area. Tragically the LYL founder Scott Dinsmore passed away this year but this has spurred the LYL community to carry on his work and his message with even more vigour and passion.
After taking the decision to bring my IT career to a close this summer I decided to begin Scott’s Live Off Your Passion course. A deep dive into what makes you tick and your passions as a way of unfolding how you can start to make a career out of these to move away from an unfulfilling one. I’m only 3 modules in so far but it’s proved really helpful and eye opening. My biggest win out of it so far has been that I started this blog, that’s the first task in the course. I was very sceptical and nervous but it’s been so enjoyable and such a fantastic outlet for me. I’ve been blessed enough to receive some really lovely feedback from people who have been enjoying and finding inspiration through it too, so thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who have taken the time to stop by. And therefore it only makes sense for me to include WordPress.com as a 2015 favourite, for making it so easy to get started. If you’re in anyway averse to technology and/or to web development, this site is a great place to start.
Another great community I’ve been a part of is Escape the City, again all about ‘escaping’ your unfulfilling corporate day job, to follow a life of passion and purpose. I was able to do their ‘Do Work You Love’ course early this year which was really insightful. And I’m glad to see that they’re running the Escape to the Woods camping weekend in 2016! I took part in this during 2014 and it was such a beautiful weekend of fun, inspiration, fantastic conversation and people.
Ben Keene, one of the founders of Escape the City, has also set up the amazing Tribewanted community in beautiful spots around the world like Papua New Guinea, Umbria and many more. The aim is to bring small ‘tribes’ of people together who have a shared interest in living that little bit differently. I am so excited that I get a chance to join the co-working tribe in Bali next year! And on that note, I have to say I was really impressed with STA Travel‘s service when booking my trip. Special thanks to Joe Bartholomew at the Bedford Street store.
As 2015 rolled on, the networking continued. I came across a fantastic social networking dinner community called Table Crowd, where you get the opportunity to dine with a whole host of people in your area of interest. I was able to dine with Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy where my sisters and I were able to ask questions on her experience of setting up a healthy food venture in preparation for our own.
Are you looking for some likeminded spiritual sisters and ladies of light to hang out with and have a break from the demands of urban living? Then check out The Spirited Project, currently running in London and Sydney.
A recent discovery for me this year was the how to: Academy, through which I had the opportunity to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. The Academy hosts talks, courses and all sorts of topics including business, personal development, writing and much more. In addition to talks from highly acclaimed specialists and artists.
Another great place to ‘find yourself’ online is Holstee, an inspiring website for all things mindfulness related. They also have a fab shop of prints and art with simple reminders on living with purpose everyday. Holstee are the creators of the very powerful manifesto, which has been more poignant than ever for me this year. It’s also where I picked up my beautifully minimalistic ‘Less but better‘ Dieter Rams poster.
Want to be a part of making someone’s Christmas just that bit more miraculous? Basket Brigade is a fantastic community set up to help feed individuals or families who may be going through a difficult time and just let them know that someone cares. It’s an action packed day of dancing, frantic packing and delivery of approximately 1000 hampers around London. I’ve been doing it for about 4 years now, it’s a heartwarming experience and great way to see how the money and time you’re donating is actually making a difference in people’s lives. Basket Brigade takes place all around the world so I’m sure you’re likely to find one near you.
Marcus Aurelius ‘Meditations‘: amazing to read how the Roman Emperor struggled with same questions about life, how to lead a good one and what it all means that we still do today in the 21st century. An inspiring read from one of the greatest philosophers.
Struggle to take a great photo? Then ‘Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs‘. A very approachable and lightweight read for those of us who would like to take a good snap but don’t want to have to wade through stacks of manuals and online tutorials to learn how.
You’re a creative but struggle day in and day out with a unshakeable form of resistance. Steven Pressfield gets straight to the point about defining resistance, how to move from being an amateur to a pro and invoking a higher creative intelligence to help you overcome that powerful negative internal monologue in ‘The War of Art‘. This is the book that really spurred me on to write my first ever blog article ‘The Unlived Life‘.
If you’ve ever had that moment where you’re struggling to learn something and think “it’s just not in my genes, I’m not talented enough” then Daniel Coyle goes on a worldwide journey with ‘The Talent Code‘ to prove you wrong. He investigates just how talent can be developed by showing how the brain, in particular, myelin works and how this can be used in your favour to learn all those skills you’ve been dreaming of!
Louise Hay’s book ‘You Can Heal Your Life‘ discusses how many of the body’s ailments and illnesses are caused at a mental and emotional level. She asks us to practice eradicating our negative self talk and beliefs and replace them with healthier, more positive viewpoints to start creating a healthier outlook not just in body but in spirit too.
The Artist’s Way is a spiritual guide to creative discovery. A 12 week programme consisting of a variety of exercises such as the very soothing Morning Pages which I’ve found so useful and also the fun Artist Dates (more on this in my article ‘My Artist Date: Soundscapes‘).
Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) has written a wonderful book on creative living called ‘Big Magic‘. She speaks of her own experiences with creativity as a magical force, how to tackle fear and use it in your favour as opposed to making it your arch enemy. I found this book really inspiring and comforting too. I had the opportunity to hear her speak on her book tour this year and she is extremely funny and very down to earth. It’s worth checking out her musings on Facebook where she posts some really thought provoking stuff. And definitely check out Magic Lessons, her podcasts where she continues to explore into creative living further with her guests.
‘Enchanted Love‘ a beautiful book, so eloquently written by Marianne Williamson on the spiritual purpose of romantic relationships. On going beyond the ego based limits that society and the world often places on them and utilising them for a greater purpose.
One of the most profound books I’ve read this year has to be ‘The Untethered Soul‘. I love the way Michael A. Singer writes as if he’s speaking specifically to you about the realities of how you’ve dealt and struggled with your mind throughout your life. He then offers a new perspective as to how step deeper within your true Self and how this practice can be developed over time. A surprisingly easy read given the subject. I can’t recommend this book enough!
Books as Gifts
Lovely little gems that I’ve bought as gifts for family and friends this year:
- Calm: Calm the Mind. Change the World
- Me, You, Us
- One Sketch A Day: A Visual Journal
- London for Lovers
- Make it Happen!: A Workbook & Productivity Tracker for Getting Stuff Done
- Food & Exercise
Mind & Body
I started the new year by joining my local Yoga class, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and I’m so glad I did. I was aching after the first couple but I definitely started to feel the difference with my body and breathing too. I stopped the classes during summer but have tried to keep up my morning sun salutation routine where possible. It’s such a soothing yet energetic way to ease you into the new day. I found this diagram really useful for showing each pose and where to inhale, exhale and retain your breath.
Meditation became a big part of my morning routine this year and I found a couple of really useful resources to help me focus during my practice and during yoga too:
- Rebecca Campbell’s Sourcing Meditation
- Vidura Barrios’s Lakshmi Mantras for Abundance & Protection
- Marianne Williamson’s Meditations for a Miraculous Life
And for those of us who are pressed for time to do a longer meditation practice, check out the Headspace app that consist of 10 days of 10 minute meditations. My friends at work and I have been using these as our quick afternoon pick me up as we sit cross legged in our prayer room/sick bay. That’s how quick and easy it is to do!
Speaking of being at work, I very occasionally treat myself to an amazing chair massage at the Relax Spa in Covent Garden. Such a wonderful way to spend your lunch break and get rid of any horrible knots. The therapists are some of the best masseuses I’ve come across! They do a great 2-for-1 deal too.
Another really relaxing form of meditation I came across (where I unknowingly jumped on a bandwagon) was through my beautiful colouring book ‘The Secret Garden‘ by Johanna Basford. So incredibly relaxing and such a treat to contribute to her beautiful illustrations.
During our short summer here in London, I’d tried my best to get out as often as possible to do some grounding. My dear friend and qualified doctor, explains the health benefits of grounding, be it outdoors or indoors on your grounding mat, definitely worth a read and researching.
Finally, how could I compile a list like this without mentioning City Academy where I indulged in my Salsa and Tango dance classes for most of the year. They have great teachers and some beautiful locations around too. Highly recommended!
Health & Beauty
My venture into the vegan world began year and I’ve come across some really great resources for delicious recipes, tools, food and restaurants:
- Aine Carlin
- Lee Watson
- Oh She Glows
- Minimalist Baker
- Deliciously Ella
- Madeleine Shaw’s delicious Butternut Squash Courgetti Salad with dairy free Almond Pesto
- My favourite gadget the Hemsley + Hemsley Spiralizer
- And if you’re dairy-free and ever miss strawberry cornettos then try Tesco Free From Strawberry And Vanilla Cones.
- Delicious vegan and raw food options are available at Tanya’s Cafe and Down To Earth Organic.
- I found Caravan and Andina London had some really tasty vegan options on their menus too.
- Yummy coffees, hot chocolates and matcha tea lattes available with dairy-free milks at Holborn Grind and Timberyard.
I’ve also been trying to switch my beauty products to vegan and cruelty-free choices too. Companies that I’ve looked into this year:
- Bare Minerals – not all their products are vegan so double check with their advisors
- Urban Decay – about 98% of their products are vegan so again, double check with their advisors
- Superdrug have developed their own line of vegan products called B. I haven’t tried them out yet but worth a look and great to see a high street store taking such a positive step
- I recently had my hair cut at Karine Jackson in Soho, which uses Organic Colour Systems products which are vegan and cruelty free – yay!
- Last winter wreaked havoc with me and I was suffering badly with really sore and dry skin, especially on my forehead. Thankfully the rosehip oil’s from Trilogy & Sukin saved me. I just applied a couple of drops under my moisturiser everyday and the problem was solved.
And finally, not so much of a beauty product, but it made most sense to stick it in here. As I took dancing a little more seriously this year, I needed a decent pair of shoes but most dance shoes generally have a suede sole. It was quite a feat to find a vegan pair, especially in the UK, that didn’t cost the earth but I managed it! Capezio do a really comfy pair of practice shoes which were really great for my Tango practice. As for the heeled pair, I haven’t got around to buying them yet but I found a company, Dance Enterprise that can create a variety of vegan ballroom and latin styles to order.
- Ruby Wax toured Sane New World this year, with a great exploration into how modern living affects our mental health. Naturally with a great dose of humour, Ruby enlightens us through her personal experience with mental health issues and masters degree in mindfulness based cognitive therapy.
- To finish off the Mastery University package I signed up to in 2012, I attended Tony Robbins UPW seminar in March, which was co-hosted by Joseph McClendon. If you’re looking for a high energy/high intensity immersion and introduction into personal development, this is a good place to start.
- I began coaching with Rebecca Campbell last year and after a couple of months off and a new vigour for 2015 I restarted my sessions with her. These have been such a huge part of my progress this year and I can’t thank her enough.
- Through Rebecca I met Michelle Aurora Hebbard a fantastic Virtual Assistant who specialises in soul-based businesses. Someone to definitely check out if you are in need of a wonderful assistant!
- I also met Robyn Silverton through Rebecca & The Spirited Project back in 2014, a wonderful holistic health specialist and yoga instructor.
- This year I began to study ‘A Course in Miracles‘ and Marianne Williamson has been an amazing source of knowledge on this topic and so much more through her weekly Livestream lectures. If you’re interested in the course and it’s perspective on spirituality, also check out the increasingly popular ACIM teacher Gabrielle Bernstein.
- Wonderful ladies such as Marie Forleo, Danielle LaPorte and Caroline Kelso have been a great source of inspiration and direction this year. Definitely check out their work if you’re looking to align your personal and professional lives with your core values and soul.
- This year I was my sister’s accountability buddy/coach for all things relationships related (more on this topic next year). So to help us get the most out of our time together I looked around for useful resources and came across Evan Marc Katz, a dating coach who provides some really helpful advice on the exciting journey. Also check out e-Cyrano if you need an extra bit of help writing a captivating online dating profile.
- Through LYL I had the great pleasure of meeting musician and coach Yaron Engler. If you want to be coached with a no nonsense, straight talking perspective, he’s your man! Such a lovely guy and great cook to boot that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing through his Food For Thought events.
- Also through LYL I met Joe Barnes, who I had the privilege of working with this year. A multi faceted individual indeed; a tennis coach, hypnotherapist, author and founder of Screw the System, which encourages people to find and live an extraordinary life.
- Last and definitely by no means least, my beautiful best friend Melek Erdal won Best Documentary Short at the 2015 Raindance Film Festival with her fantastic film ‘Walking Through Havana‘. Check her out, she’s definitely one to watch! I’m so utterly proud.
Places & Spaces
Work & Play
Back to Nature
- St. Paul’s Church Garden, London
- Abney Park Cemetery, London
- Clissold Park, London
- Holland Park, London
- Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
- Southbank Beach, London
- Primrose Hill, London
- Windsor, Berkshire
- Capital Ring walk, London
- Bradgate Park, Leicester
- Art in Action, Oxfordshire
Art, Design & Other Pretty Stuff
A quick skim through all things beautiful:
- Therese Sennerholt – Swedish graphic designer who made the gorgeous limited edition ‘Love is the new black’ print that I managed to get my hands on this year.
- If you love all things Scandi, check out the recently opened (in London but well established in Australia) Kikki.K. It’s a shop that sells the most beautifully designed stationary and books all focused around mindful living. I love, love, LOVE this shop!
- I was able to sign up to Lamplighter London‘s 1 day modern calligraphy course this summer, highly recommended.
- If you love graphic design be sure to check out the Pick Me Up design festival next year.
- I took the plunge and decided to get a batch of business cards printed this year for my graphic design work and the lovely folks at Moo (after a couple of slight hiccups which they quickly resolved) printed and delivered them for me wonderfully.
- I needed a bit of a hand getting my design skills up to scratch, especially with the Adobe packages, so Lynda and Creative Live have been invaluable for this.
- Jo Kilma’s ‘Flowing & Thriving‘ course has been an absolute Godsend for helping me form a graphic design service in line with my values, vision and for clients that I’d love to work with.
- I know I’m late to the party but I love Pinterest! It’s been such a great source of inspiration for client work and mood boarding. It’s also been a great asset in helping me get a clearer idea of my brand identity too. And not to mention the fact that it’s great for creating online vision boards as well.
- Other great resources that I’ve used for my design work this year are Shutterstock for very reasonably priced stock images and Unsplash for fantastic free photography that you can use for anything (it’s been very handy for my blog)!
And so I’m done. Wow that was a lot of information! For those of you who are still with me, thank you and I hope you’ve found something that interests and is of use to to you in some way. Here’s to more exciting discoveries in the new year!