Category Archives: Books

An Interview With Afrika Presents

On the blog today is Mara Menzies, Kenyan-Scottish storyteller and founder of Afrika Presents.  Afrika Presents draws inspiration from Africa’s rich stories and vibrant cultures when designing its products.  I was particularly drawn to their “The African Fashion Design Sketchbook”, a book that combines the history and beauty of African fashion textiles to children, with the aim of inspiring children to want to learn more about the amazing continent. I caught up with Mara recently to find out more…. Hi Mara and welcome….

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Hi, I’m Mara, a storyteller, founder of Afrika Presents, mother of 2 incredible children, dreamer, dancer, reader and traveller.

“The African Fashion Design Sketchbook” is a book that brings together the incredible history & beauty of fashion textiles from Africa to children. So what was the inspiration behind writing & compiling this book?

I returned home from Kenya and wanted a gift for my daughter and bought a fashion book where she could design a model and I found myself wishing that there was an African version of that so she could create, imagine and explore the things she loved but learn about her African heritage at the same time. Then I thought I’m going to do that and I did! African fashions and textiles are so beautiful and their histories are so intertwined with other cultures around the world but we never hear about that so I took the approach to make sure it was fun but informative too.

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You are a Kenyan Scottish storyteller – so how come you decided to start up your company, Afrika Presents?

Once the idea of the fashion book was born, there was so much else to explore that it made sense to form the company and think of what direction it could go. Being a storyteller is a real privilege as you share some very personal moments with small groups of people. I felt that there were so many stories to be told, so many other ways to explore such a vast and vibrant continent that it was impossible to do it just by myself. Through Afrika Presents, I have been able to work with a wider range of people – artists, designers, people experienced with the business side of things, and so many more.

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Africa has many rich stories – do you have a particular favourite tale?

There are so many to choose from but I do love an Ethiopian story about a woman who innocently throws a bone out of the window which is fought over by 2 dogs, which results in 2 boys fighting, then 2 women fighting, then 2 men fighting, then 2 villages fighting until suddenly the whole thing has spiralled out of control. Finally they realise that everyone involved could have stopped it before it reached that terrible point. Sacrifices are made and peace does return but the moral is that we must always think before throwing our bones out of the window. Of course the bone is symbolic of so many things in our lives but I love sharing this story because everyone gets caught up in the ruckus without realising where the story is heading and then suddenly BAM, they get it, and it is a wonderful feeling to take people on that rollercoaster.

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You are currently developing an app that will bring the pages of the book alive. That project sounds totally awesome, I must say. What parts of the app do you think will particularly grab a child’s attention in more ways than the book?

Yes, we’re really excited about it. There are videos, games and quizzes and we plan to continually upgrade the content too. I think the children (and adults) will really like the interactive elements as they can then test themselves and we live in a digital age so it is amazing to able to fuse pen, paper and the digital world.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I grew up in Kenya and my diet consisted of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, The Famous Five, The Nancy Drew mysteries, a series of books about twins from various cultures, and we always had National Geographic magazines around the house. I also loved the books where you had to choose which page to go to to change the path of the story. Nowadays, we are lucky to have access to authors from all over the world. I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muthoni Garland as well as random books that I stumble upon, often with a traditional folktale structure. I’m currently reading The Book of Lost Things which turns folktales on their heads and is hugely enjoyable and thought provoking and I love books about Scottish mythology and mystical creatures. Scotland tells a great story.

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I have been to Kenya myself and was captivated by the beauty of the country – Mt Kilimanjaro was a particular favourite spot of mine. Have you got a favourite part of Africa? Any part of Africa you haven’t yet visited but is on your bucket list?

One of my favourite memories was at our farm in Kenya which is on the side of a valley. there was a silver river snaking its way at the bottom and quartz in the ground always twinkled at sunset. On one evening, somebody somewhere was playing a reed flute and it was just so beautiful. That is now my favourite place. I’d love to visit Botswana and Namibia and I love Malian music so will hopefully get there too.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am seasonal in the sense that winter I close shop and wear boots, jeans and thick chunky jumpers and go for comfort over fashion. But in the summer I adore bright colours and patterns. I like shoes with small  heels. I can’t wear very high heels but I’ve always loved the grandeur of Victorian fashion and so the shorter, curvier heels make me feel part of that!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love raiding the charity shops and then tweaking what I find at home. I also find treasures in vintage shops. I do visit Zanjoo.com every now and again as they have some fantastic skirts and often match colours successfully that really shouldn’t work but always do. As I go to Kenya every year, I always find stunning fabrics and I have a tailor who makes beautiful clothes so I go with a wishlist. Otherwise I buy basics on the high street.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Now we’re heading for winter, it’s time for my annual boot splurge. I would love to own good quality boots in a vibrant red but they are hard to find! I sometimes find incredible boots for my 9 year old that I want in my size!

Boots or Shoes?

Flat boots for everyday comfort and lovely shoes or high heeled boots when I’m trying to impress:)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Afrika Presents.

Visit the website at www.afrikapresents.com and we’re at https://www.facebook.com/Afrikapresents

Thank you Mara for introducing your fab company! I have always been fascinated with the continent of Africa and my youngest son has the continent in the number one slot of his bucket travel list – he loves animals and the vast outdoors.  Like you I grew up with the stories of Raold Dahl and Enid Blyton; I read the National Geographic Magazine from cover to cover – and my children have grown up surrounded by the same … along with modern technology.  One African story I liked was about the baobab tree that I heard whilst in Kenya – it is known as the upside down tree as its branches don’t have leaves and they look like tree roots!  Dear readers, are you fascinated by Africa? Would you like to visit? Or have you travelled there already? Do you have an African story to tell? As always, do share – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mara Menzies.

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Revisiting Buckso Dhillon Woolley

Way back, almost exactly 2 years ago, on 7 November 2014, I interviewed actress/singer Buckso Dhillon Woolley (read original interview HERE) who had just starred in a UK countrywide advert for frozen food company, Iceland, alongside heart throb Peter Andre.  Buckso was looking forward to auditioning for a part in the West End stage show, Bend It Like Beckham.  So now, two years on, did Buckso  get a role in Bend It Like Beckham?  Is she still singing? I caught up with Buckso recently to find the answers to those questions and more…. Welcome back onto the blog Buckso!

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Hi there! I’m Buckso DHILLON-WOOLLEY and I’m an actor/speaker just finalising my 1st eBook on RESILIENCE as I make a segway into the speaking arena!

I was fortunate enough to interview you in November 2014 …. so, what made you want to become an actress in the first place?

Yes you did! And my what a journey these last few months have been! I’d say the very first time I knew the entertainment industry was the only way for me, was after I’d discovered I had a voice singing the theme tune to Why Don’t You back when I was a young teen. After that, I as bitten by the bug!

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Congratulations on your appearance in the West End production of “Bend It Like Beckham” as Auntiji ( Aunty G) for the 2015 run! Being picked for a West End show is such an achievement in itself… and a role you was hoping to get when I last interviewed you too! What was it like being in such a fabulous West End production? Any memorable moments that stand out?

Yes, it was something I finally nailed after auditioning for it 3yrs on the trot, and it was such a relief to get a yes! The thrill of a live audience was fantastic as I’d never experienced theatre before so wasn’t sure what to expect, which was good in some ways as I was going in with no expectations and I have to say it was phenomenal to be in such a well received show..with 5 star ratings and brilliant reviews I was a tad spoilt you might say! Most memorable moment would be the press night party..seeing something like that in such a scale was lovely and the fact my sister and husband had the chance to share it with me made it even more special considering I’d been mugged at gunpoint the night before. Maybe that’s the most memorable part actually!

As you revealed in 2014, you have a love for films … So I was dead chuffed to hear that you’ve been filming a new feature film written & directed by Andrew Hulme called “The Devil Outside”. Can you reveal what the film is about and the part that you play?

Oh yes I’m a big fan of films and SO pleased my first one was based and filmed in and around an area I live near. In short, I play the mum to the young lad and it’s a sort of coming of age film, set in Nottingham about religion, madness and repressed sexuality, and that’s all I can say! You have a lot to look forward to as Andrew Hulme has a great eye for shots and capturing a story with ability for fine detail.

In 2014, you met THE man himself, Peter Andre, whilst filming the Iceland advert. So as you’ve forayed since then into the world of theatre and movies, who have you encountered that have made a lasting impression on you?

You know I’ve yet to meet someone who has had a lasting impression on me as I’m really not that in awe of anyone as such. It’s more about how a person makes me feel by what they say after they’ve gone. If I’m still pondering what they’ve said more than 24hrs later then I know they’ve left their mark.

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In 2014, you hoped to release an album or set of songs based on the Bond films… depending on whether you got the “Bend It Like Beckham” role or not! As we all know, you did get the role – but did you manage to do a Bond set or is it still on the back burner? Do you still get to do any singing?

Ah I’m still waiting to do that! It’s on the back burner right now but most definitely something I want to do in my life. I’ve sang at a couple of charity dos this October but there was a point after the show finished where I thought I’d never sing again as my voice totally decided to leave me for a few months! At that point I realised just how important it is for me to sing, whether it’s paid or not, as it feeds my soul.

Looking ahead to 2017 – any plans in the pipeline that you can reveal to us?

Well one thing I can definitely say is happening will be the release of my new ebook which should be out at the end of November. I’m booking now for talks and speaking gigs for networking groups and schools so should be rolling that out next year alongside my acting etc. The book itself is called “The Resilience Queen: 7.5 Steps to finding your own”. It gives motivation and guidance to finding and maintaining your resilience in times of adversity and uncertainty. This is with a view to following it up with another book that talks more in depth about each chapter with examples of times in my life I’ve had to be resilient and continue to overcome any and all obstacles! Also recently started to work with a fantastic new skincare and cosmetics company, MAELLE, which launched in October and you can visit my website below for more info or email me direct.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Weellll,  I’m a die-hard Primark fan but even I’ve noticed lately I’m choosing more of the Marks and Spencer gear – it’s actually quite appealing to me and I’m shocked! I guess my taste is becoming more refined as I age but I’ve always maintained I’d never do designer stuff and I stand by that still. I’m not knocking those who do, I just choose to spend my dollar elsewhere. Shoes wise,  I’m again going for the comfy foot glove range from Marks & Spencer. More so because, since April this year, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which thankfully is under control now, but if my feet are squished in a shoe, they ain’t happy!

Do you have any favourite designers?

Not as such but when I buy from QVC (yep still a big fan!) I do love Dennis Basso for coats and Nina Leonard, Attitudes by Renee, Anything Design, Chelsea Muse and BIBA for clothes, as they’re so unique!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’m now on a bit of a mission to get some gorge autumn/winter boots that are faux fur lined, like the EMU boots range that come in a host of fabulous colours.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots win hands down!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more you & follow your career.

Instagram : @buckso_
Twitter : @bucksodw
Facebook : https://m.facebook.com/bucksodw
www.myelle.co.uk
www.resiliencequeen.com

It has been fantastic to catch up with you, Buckso, and am so glad you have so many things in the pipeline and plenty for us to look forward to! Glad your auditioning perseverance on stage with Bend It Like Beckham paid off, although being mugged at gunpoint is not an experience I would like to have! So, dear readers,  Buckso has admitted that her shopping preferences have changed as she’s got older – finding herself being attracted to M & S whereas previously Primark was her main go to shop –  have you found yourself drifting away from your favourite shop as you’ve got older? Drop me a comment… I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Buckso Dhillon-Woolley.

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Hidden Mind

I came across an interesting book recently talking about the connection between the sub conscious and the mind/body, known as “bio energy”. It was called Hidden Mind: A Journey of Reconnection by Tom Griffin and Dr Nuala Bent.  Bio-energy therapy treatment is used in the special needs area of health, such as dyslexia, ADHD, ADD and Autistic Spectrum Disorder; and in some cases, for depression and anxiety too.  Tom Griffin developed the Hidden Mind/Bio- Energy and Corrective Sound Programme  – which is included in its entirety in the book; and Dr Nuala Bent is a Senior Research Fellow (Rehab Medicine) at the University of Leeds, a Plexus Bio Energy Therapist, Registered Reflexologist & Reiki Master.  I was lucky enough to catch up with Dr Nuala Bent to find out more ….and we talked about clothes too…. Hi Nuala!

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Hello. My name is Nuala and my passion is to inform people about the body’s natural ability to heal itself given the right circumstances and environment. I am originally from Ireland but have lived in Lancashire, UK for the past thirty years. My background was in Academia where most of my work was research based.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Hidden Mind: A Journey of Reconnection” – a powerful collaboration between yourself and Tom Griffin – a book that invites readers to re-ignite their mind/body connection and thrive. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I have always been a people person and realised a long time ago that we are not islands in our ability to communicate with one another. While maintaining our uniqueness we all have an integral part to play which impacts on the whole of humanity. Working on long term research projects gave me an insight into people’s lives which went way beyond the masks we all tend to wear in the public arena. I became aware of the possibility of a connection between health state, lifestyle and the outer and immediate personal environments. I also became aware of the importance of personal responsibility in a world which seemed to be dominated by pockets of control. This of course is down to conditioning and the set-up of the institutions which we encounter in our daily living. I realised that there was a need to remind people that they have an innate knowledge which needs to be accessed which is a powerhouse of information as to what the body needs to maintain optimal health. The meaning of the word ’education’ is ‘to lead out’. This implies that knowledge is already present to be accessed.

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The book includes the entire programme, as well as its foundation, of the Hidden Mind/Bio-Energy and Corrective Sound Programme as developed by Tom Griffin. As a qualified Bio-Energy therapist yourself, in what circumstances would you recommend bio-energy therapy?

Bio-energy is a rebalancing of the body’s own energy system by removing blockages which contribute to illness. It can be used in all circumstances, from the very young to the very old. It is about looking beyond the symptoms to try and establish the cause of the problems. Within our clinics, the primary aim of the therapist is to rebalance the energy system which in turn will unlock the natural healing process within the patient’s body. Only when the energy has been balanced can the body begin the process of returning to full health. Treatment is carried out over four consecutive days for approximately an hour a day. On the fourth day of treatment the therapist will go through an educational programme explaining any changes that need to be made regarding visualisation, diet, exercise, rest etc. This is an essential part of the programme and together with the balancing of the energy the correct environment is being created which will allow the body return to better health. The aim is to engage clients in a process that gives them an element of control over their own health. These treatments are the first steps on the journey to better health and patients must be willing to give the therapy time to work

What attracted you to start studying and practising complementary and natural healthcare?

A natural curiosity as to how I might help people to cope with life’s traumas and where possible to help people to look beyond life’s knocks and realise their own potential. I was also influenced by the many eminent people I met who had stood out against the established opinion and practically sacrificed career opportunities in order to tell the truth. I refer in particular to the late Professor Jan deVries whose commitment to the people in his care was awe inspiring. However, the final steps towards bio- energy training came as a result of ill health and surgery for a brain tumour after which I was much depleted of my usual zest for life and a friend suggested I go to Ireland for bio-energy treatment. I had not heard of it previously but after treatment over four consecutive days I was so impressed with how I felt that I began to enquire and read up more about all aspects of energy medicine. However, I did return on two other occasions for bio-energy over a period of several months after which I decided to train in the Plexus system. It was during this time that I met Tom Griffin, Co-founder of the Plexus system with Michael O’Doherty and current founder of the HiddenMind and Corrective sound and Bio-energy training Programme.Tom’s work inspired me towards the many discussions related to my passion to raise awareness for a new model of medicine which resulted in Tom giving me the opportunity to begin by writing our book so that the message would get out to the wider world.

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Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

The book is available in Ireland through Tom’s website and people in the UK can contact myself. It is available on Amazon (kindle edition only) and it has also been recently translated into German because of the interest from Tom’s clinics in Germany.It is currently being translated into Polish. Tom runs clinics in Ireland, Canada, Germany, Poland, and recently in South Africa.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

I did a lot of research for our current book and therefore realised what a fount of knowledge I have gathered for this work. I have a big interest in the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity in the body which is an area of medicine which is virtually unknown and is seldom looked at as the possible basis of unexplained symptoms. There is also the complication that blood tests will only show toxicity if it is present and happening on the day of the test, but it remains in the tissues and takes a long time to remove. I also have a huge interest in ‘bodymind’ medicine and the new science of Epigenetics.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

In contrast to my work and my associated reading I like to have a novel on the go. I don’t like to travel without a book in my luggage. In particular authors who seem to have an insight into human relationships. I have a few favourites. Not surprisingly they include the late Maeve Binchy, Santa Montifiore, Kathy Kelly, Lesley Pearse, Barbara Kingsolver and others of a similar ilk.

You have worked many years as Panel Manager of a longitudinal study researching into cognitive ageing at the University of Manchester; and later as Senior Research Fellow (Rehab Medicine) at the University of Leeds. You are also a Plexus Bio Energy Therapist, Registered Reflexologist and Reiki Master. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical/research field or did you have other ambitions?

Growing up I had many ambitions all of which presented themselves in accordance with what was the dominant theme of the time. However I was very lucky to find myself in a small boarding school in Southern Ireland with the Killeshandra Sisters who were an order of nuns who worked abroad on many of the world’s mission fields. I got to know many of these amazing woman who worked in situations which demanded courage and commitment to help people less fortunate. The friendships built up over the years in ‘CastleShanahan’ as the school was called were very important to me and gave me a confidence which supported me throughout my life’s journey. I still have contact with some of them to this day. I realised early on in my academic learning that I was drawn to research which probably fitted in with my curiosity about people and the life situations which impinged on them.

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Your passion is to raise awareness of the need for an integrated model of healthcare. What specific areas of healthcare do you feel is most in need of this integrated model? What hurdles are you coming across to prevent that happening?

Mostly related to the status quo opinion that health is an area that needs to be managed by a body of Professionals and that the ‘ordinary’ person has no control over how health manifests for them. A person needs to be central to the working out of the best possible way to deal with illness/disease. People need to be reminded or informed that there is a capacity for healing within each of us that needs input from ourselves as well as from our Physicians. The body knows, and often tells us but is just as often ignored in favour of lifestyle choices. If we are present to the needs of our bodies, this remind the cells to switch on the mechanism of healing. Good health is not about alternative medicine, rather it is about complementary medicine which can work alongside the medical physicians to bring about the homeostasis required to maintain a state of wellness. The dominant model of medicine does not take into account social factors or individual differences and so also excludes prevention of disease as a role in healthcare. In fact it has been described in the literature as a relationship of compliance based on prescribing.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I love to travel. I also enjoy sharing a meal with friends and eating out from time to time. I also have a large network of friends whom I keep in contact with. My friends are important to me and many of them live in Ireland. I have a friend Anne from my school days who also lives in Bolton with whom I meet up to discuss old and new interests. I enjoy being with like-minded people.I also travel to Ireland several times a year to catch up with my family. I have a son and daughter and three grandchildren who live in Southern Ireland. I did my Bio training in Ireland and I enjoy networking with my colleagues. I hope to help Tom with teaching ‘HiddenMind Bio’ in the UK later this year.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I have a love of clothes but they need to suit how I like to look. I like outfits to flow rather than the eye having to stop and start – I suppose I would describe it as all seen in one photo rather than needing to fit many photos together to get the picture, if you know what I mean. If I am wearing a skirt or trousers the top / tunic needs to be longer than waist level.I also am a jacket person but again, I don’t like short jackets on myself. And I like to include a gilet as part of an outfit (everyday wear).I like to have a mixture of shoes which include a basic flat pair for colder weather, casualtrainer type pairs, dressy heels and sandals to wear with more dressy outfits.My main problem is trying to make a decision not to bring more than two pairs with me when travelling.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I prefer to shop in person and I like to look around several shops until an item ‘speaks’ to me.

Boots or Shoes?

I am a shoe person. I only wear boots when the weather dictates as I feel confined in boots and I always tend to notice nice shoes on people.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

I have a website ‘Nualatherapies.com’ and Tom’s website is ‘www.hiddenmind.ie’.
I am also listed on the Plexushealthcare.ie website (Bio-energy) as a Therapist.

Thanks so much for coming onto the blog today, Nuala.  It is such an interesting therapy and I hope my readers found it of interest too.  I must pick on your shoe thought though – it amused me to find that when travelling you find it hard to limit yourself to packing less than two pairs of shoes.  I have the same problem … BUT do you find after packing say 3 pairs of footwear, that you ended up just wearing only the one pair for the fortnight after all? Or is it just me?  Dear readers, what are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Dr Nuala Bent. 

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White Sorrow

This week’s guest has an amazing tale to tell – of one woman’s mistake, downfall, abuse and subsequent strength.  My guest is the lovely Andrea Aviet, author of the book “White Sorrow”  … her story about domestic violence, emotional and mental abuse, starvation and what amounts to modern day slavery …  Andrea has published her book and spoken out  in an effort to motivate women stuck in similar positions to get out and to get their lives back on track. I caught up with this brave lady recently to talk about her book and her life now…. Hi Andrea….

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Hi! I am Andrea Aviet, I am 34, a mum to two girls and have written a book called White Sorrow.

“White Sorrow” is a true story of 5 years abuse you endured at the hands of your 20 stone husband & his family. What inspired you to open up and write about your experience?

I felt I must have endured the nightmare for a reason and wanted to make something positive out of it – I thought if I could inspire others to understand that domestic abuse of any form is not right, and should not be endured, then I would have put my nightmare to good use.

It must have been quite an emotional rollercoaster to write about your experiences – from being estranged from your own kin, forced into sexual encounters, suffering from emotional & physical abuse. What was the hardest part, you feel, about recalling/writing your experiences?

Writing the bits about my children. When recalling those parts of the books, even from being pregnant the first time, it often reduced me to tears. Even now I can’t read out the parts about my children without cracking a little. I recently did a reading that was being recorded for a video, and I had to stop, regroup and start again  – I was so overtaken by emotion.

Your subsequent strength shown after managing to leave your abusive relationship behind is commendable – managing to take control of your own life and making sure your two daughters are having a life filled with hobbies, laughter & love. What advice would you be giving to your own daughters when they grow up and have relationships of their own?

Have your eyes open. Don’t get swept along by romantic notion. Always have some financial independence. And if at any point you aren’t being treated right, get out.

You travelled the world a lot as a child – including time spent in India. What country impressed you most? What place is number one on your travel bucket list?

I absolutely love Australia – it was where I wanted to go when I met Mark and married him instead of going. That is still on my bucket list. I also recently visited the North East of England on business. I am determined to take my children there for a family holiday now as the coast is so beautiful.

As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I loved reading as a child and still do. I would read anything. I then studied political science at university so my reading was around my studies. Now I read good books, with strong stories. And novels, but only when I get chance around working, promoting my book and being a single mum.

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Hypothethically speaking, if “White Sorrow” was made into a film, which actress would portray you?

I would love to play myself to be honest – not because I aspire to be an actress but because it is about me. I think a young, dark haired actress would be good….someone like Selena Gomez. She would be good because she would act well but she would also appeal to younger generations and they would heed the warnings the book talks about.

The charity Refuge is close to your heart and you have spent a lot of time fund raising. There are many ways to fund raise -what is the wackiest fundraiser idea you’ve come across? Have you any favourite fundraising ideas?

To be honest my fundraising will all be done through book sales. I read about people doing crazy things all the time, and whilst I admire them, that is just not me! I wouldn’t want to ski down a mountain in a bikini or jump out of a plane. I have survived my own challenge already and am happy just donating proceeds.

Is your book, “White Sorrow”, available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, online. It is available on Amazon and other platforms.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I usually wear smart casual. Maybe jeans or leggings but with nice tops and jackets. Things that go from day into night, but that I am comfortable in for travelling or playing with my children. I usually wear boots but sandals come out in the summer. I am only small so heels are good, but I can’t walk far in them!!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not really. For so long I didn’t have a disposable income or even money for food, so fashion took a backseat. I wore hand me downs that didn’t fit. Previous to my marriage I wore a lot of designer clothing and good makes of shoes. I don’t think I have quite got the bug back yet, and am too busy promoting the book and looking after my kids to do much personal shopping!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I want to take my children on holiday, and the summer seems to be coming, so I will be investing in a sun wardrobe!

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots – I don’t drive so I walk a lot. Boots just protect your feet more, are more comfortable and practical yet can look stylish and trendy.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about “White Sorrow”

My website is www.whitesorrow.com and you can find me on facebook.com/whitesorrow1

Thank you so much for coming on the blog and telling us about your book and life.  Your book has a powerful message – whether male or female – domestic abuse of this nature is just unacceptable.  I wish you every success with your book, and all the best in life from now on.  

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Andrea Aviet.

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An Interview With Photographer Michel Haddi

Global celebrity photographer, Michel Haddi, is on my blog this week.  Michel has photographed many high profile celebrities including David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Angelina Jolie, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez.  He has published a few photographic coffee table books … And his latest is “David Bowie The Legend”.  Seeing as David Bowie was my all time favourite performer,  I just couldn’t wait to ask Michel about his book, his photography, and what it is like meeting these iconic celebrities…. Welcome Michel…

What made you want to pursue a career as a photographer?

I always wanted to be an artist. My first love is movie making/films but I didn’t know anyone in the film industry, but I did in photography – I suppose it was a short cut!

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Your current “David Bowie The Legend” book of unseen David Bowie pictures has aroused a lot of interest – he was my favourite musician – what was the background to the book & the reason behind creating the book?

I have a publishing house too and I thought it was a good idea to do a book on David Bowie , like I will do one on Blondie or Liza Minelli. I decided to launch a new collection called The Legend.

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Your work has appeared in many famous magazines such as the British, French & Italian editions of Vogue America as well as I lived there for 14 years and many advertising campaigns for companies such as Saks New York, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, etc. What has been the most unusual photoshoot request you’ve had ?

Maybe a shoot I did for American Esquire in the desert in Las Vegas having a trapeze artist from the Cirque du Soleil flying in the middle of nowhere.

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What has been your favourite photoshoot to date?

All of them. I don’t have a special one, always the last one. I worked with Emmanuelle Seigne,  the wife of Roman Polanski for a magazine called The Collective (it’s a magazine from the London designer Osman). I really loved that shoot as Emmanuelle is a great actor and a great looking girl.

You have photographed many high profile celebrities, including David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie etc among others. If you were given the chance, who would you love to photograph that you haven’t already?

I did a shoot at Paisley Park – I was supposed to work with Prince and his band. I worked with the band but Prince didn’t show up. This is a regret.

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You’ve published a quite a few fashion & beauty books – have you got a preferred location for fashion shoots?

Not really, depends what I have in mind. The new one is called The Blue Hour – it was shot in Paris and it’s all about Paris.

I’ve seen & admired your fashion shots, model shots, and celebrity shots, so, what style of photography is your absolute favourite? When you are not working, do you do photography for fun?

Thank you! I only like it when images look like snips of a film. In fact when I tell a story now, if I don’t shoot I write screen plays.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I have a tailor in London,  Anthony Sinclair,  so everything comes from my tailor.  I wear a Crombie with maybe a tight fit sweate,  pin stripe trousers, black gloves and black Adidas footwear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

None  –  my only pleasure is to see my tailor and be pampered.

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What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Maybe another 3 piece suit – dark blue pinstripe – very 70s! Anthony Sinclair used to make the suits for Sean Connery in the James Bond films. I like this flavour, as being tall the style does suit me perfectly.

Boots or Shoes?

I used to wear boots like bikers boots but I am much more into the Adidas black label to cut the strict look of a suit nowadays.

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 Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc for more information about you and your book “David Bowie The Legend”.

http://davidbowiethelegend.co.uk/

www.michelhaddistudio.com

www.mhspublishing.com

Oh wow Michel, Blondie is also another favourite of mine – as a teenager in the 80s I tried to style myself on Debbie Harry’s look – just wish I had her voice to go with the ensemble! 🙂 Well, dear readers,  who in your eyes was or is a “Legend”?  Who was your style icon as a teen?  As always, do tell, I love reading your comments!

Linda x

All photos have been published with the kind permission of Michel Haddi. 

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An Interview With Tony Porter

I am honoured to have on the blog this week one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week – the gallant gentleman, Tony Porter.  I caught up with Tony recently to find out more about his unique life spent at the forefront of fashion, the swinging ’60s scene in London, the high fashion Kensington store Biba, and his gripping new memoir “Whatever Next?”….. Welcome Tony …

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Hello, I’m Tony Porter. Born 12/6/35

You certainly have lived a fascinating and unique life in the forefront of fashion – but, what was the inspiration behind picking up your pen and writing your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” What’s the story behind the title?

In 1986 B and I left the world of Fashion and bought tiny Burgh Island with its tired but lovely Art Deco Hotel. After spending 16 years on its restoration, we moved on, and I immediately wrote our story in “The Great White Palace”, published in 2002. Since then, it has sold 23,700 copies, and very many readers have asked me how I spent the rest of my life. I was finally persuaded, and the book was finally published on 28 February 2016. I spoke about it at my 80th Birthday party, after which I was approached by two guests, suggesting that, following my seven careers, I should make a film about them. That was when I collapsed in an arm chair muttering ‘Whatever next?’. These are the last two words of the book, but seemed an obvious title as well.

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You started your career selling paint for ICI – spending many years with ICI in Africa – before returning to London to sell high fashion for the Kensington store, Biba, founded by your sister-in-law, Barbara Hulanicki. Did you have an interest in fashion at that time, or was it something that grew on you as you sold the outfits?

No, it grew on me. Till then a dress was a dress and a skirt a skirt, but Barbara’s were different. As I became steeped in the selling and even the manufacture of her unique and inexpensive designs, I came to love the look, especially on those ’60s “Dolly Birds”  who daily thronged the Biba shop in Kensington.

The scene in London during the swinging 60s must have been exciting – especially as many famous starlets flocked to Biba – Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Mia Farrow, Cilla Black & Yoko Ono to name just a few. I’m sure you kept a cool head when you served them – but did anyone actually make you go weak at the knees (starstruck mode)? Who would have made you go a-quiver if they had entered Biba?

That has to be Bardot, although she doesn’t exactly answer your question, because she actually walked in one day to go shopping. She was prepared to try things on in the communal changing room, but Barbara’s husband, Fitz, offered her the passageway outside his office. I did glimpse her as she made her way there with an armful of clothes. She did make me weak at the knees, but that was all. Fitz did better though, by standing on a chair, so that he could peep through the glass over his office door!

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T427 IM 4CBW 26-18

You were one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week. What was the inspiration and original aims of the Week? Are you surprised the idea is still going strong and is one of the most important dates in the Fashion calendar?

When I left Biba and started my own Fashion PR business, I did really well getting lots of coverage for the twelve accounts I came to represent. It was so frustrating though that twice a year the whole of our Press corps disappeared to Paris, then Milan, to report on their designs for the coming season. We had wonderful designers, some established and others fresh out of our marvellous colleges. I couldn’t see why there was no such event here, and resolved to do something about it. That was exactly forty years ago, and in the book I relate how I went about it with such success that it became established on the world fashion stage. Obviously I am thrilled that our Fashion Week has long since become known as one of the big three in Europe, but cannot help thinking that the numbers are now too big, and the organisation is not so special as in my day.

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T310 IM 5-9

After leaving Biba, you ran your own successful fashion PR business in London’s West End, helped by your wife Beatrice. What made you decide to go from sales to PR?

As I’ve said already, I came to love fashion and the way it evolved, but I knew I would never aspire to being a designer, and I tired of selling. However, I had come to meet and help a few influential journalists, and came to realise that, in return for showing them the right selection, they were able to feature photographs of certain items which fitted their fashion story of the day. Obviously I didn’t have the name of Biba with which to conjure, but I chose well and quickly gained the confidence of most of the major writers. I also found that I could make much more doing this, so the decision to move on proved right in many ways.

Can you tell us about the beautiful Burgh Island and the Art Deco hotel you lovingly restored (and have since sold)? What attracted you to buy the island & its hotel? What was your favourite feature of the island/hotel?

When we bought our second hand yacht and cruised along the south coast of Devon and Cornwall, we fell in love with their rivers and little harbours, so, when we decided on another change, it was there that we looked. After several possibilities fell through, we heard that this tiny (26 acres) island was for sale, complete with its ART DECO hotel, we went for it. The huge risk and years of scary experiences are described in detail in my first book ( it is also included more briefly in this new one. How could I leave 16 whole years out of my autobiography!) We finally sold it to a couple who claimed to love art deco as much as us, in 2001. Without doubt our favourite feature was, and still is (except we are banned !) the Palm Court, with its original stained glass ceiling, which we restored.

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You are now concentrating on your new career as a writer – your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” was published in Feb 2016. Have you got any other plans to write other works? Is there any other writing genre you would like to dabble in?

Yes. Children’s  books. I have written them before for my grandchildren who did the illustrations for me, and they loved them.

When you are not writing, what hobbies or past times do you enjoy?

Sailing (other people’s yachts), opera (Hearing, not singing!) golf (badly), walking the Devon lanes, travel (but not long haul now).

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and where to buy your memoir “Whatever Next?”

Website: tonyporter.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Whatever-Next-748983758567899/?=ts

Twitter: @TPorterAuthor

It has been an absolute pleasure to have you on my blog, Tony, and I haven’t yet stopped giggling at the picture you’ve given of Barbara’s husband Fitz trying to glimpse Bardot! Must admit, Bardot is one of my style icons from those days.  The other being Debbie Harry of Blondie in the 70s/80s.  Dear readers, have you got a favourite style icon? Do tell, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Tony Porter.

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Pot Luck

Author Jennifer Bell is under the spotlight this week, telling the tale of leaving her life in London to go west to Cornwall to set up a pottery venture.  Not just any pottery venture. Her and her husband’s pots were so successful they were sold beyond the UK to Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa.  Now retired and living in a riverside cottage, I caught up with Jennifer to talk about her books, her pots and her love of Cornwall…

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Hello! I’m Jennifer.  I am well retired – to the point of not counting birthdays anymore. Living beside a river on the south coast of Cornwall and still, compulsively, it might be said, obsessively, writing stories for children.

“Pot Luck” is the tale of your move from London to the wilds of Cornwall, where you had set up an internationally successful pottery company. So what gave you the inspiration to move from the city to deepest Cornwall and to write a book about it?

From childhood, growing up in a Manchester suburb, I dreamed of a country cottage and a rural life-style – you know the idea, an orchard, chickens, rosy- cheeked children ….I was fortunate to meet a man who shared my dream and who had also studied pottery at Oxford Art School before going on to do music at the R.C.M. We both knew Cornwall slightly from childhood. It really is a different country. You feel it as soon as you cross the Tamar. It’s an ancient landscape, somehow history is nearer the surface, evident in the windswept cliffs, deep lanes, Celtic saint names, old stone crosses ….

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You originally trained as a nurse – so how come you decided to get involved in running a pottery company?

I enjoyed nursing very much – looking after people, ill and often apprehensive – and I liked being able to make a difference but the lure of taking charge of your own life, living to the full, experiencing both excitements and disasters was irresistable. No cheque at the end of the month but many adventures. I think our two sons also benefitted from seeing the self-discipline needed in running your own business and both have successful careers.

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You’ve also just written a delightful children’s story “Jem The Fowey Pirate”, set in the Cornish town of Fowey. How fun was it to write a children’s story? What was the inspiration behind this tale?

Our granddaughters love coming down to Cornwall (from London) and have a special song that they sing when crossing the Tamar bridge – this can cause a little surprise when travelling by train. We live by a river ( Kenneth Graham’s inspiration for ‘The Wind in the Willows). The girls love walking and making camps in the old, oak woods and are always asking for a story ….

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As much as you like writing children’s books, is there any genre you would like to dabble in that you haven’t yet tried?

I’ve always written and love setting myself challenges – a short story starting and finishing with the same sentence, another – a bleak railway halt and the most unlikely person to alight from a train ( it turnes out to be a London prostitute!). Most of all though, I love telling stories to children – seeing the world through their eyes.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I was lucky as a child that my grandparents lived in Snowdonia – very beautiful but wet, wet, wet! On those days I would hide in my grandfather’s study, behind his tatty, leather armchair and read to exhaustion. He didn’t have any children’s books beyond a complete set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s encyclopaedias – but he had Shakespeare’s plays which I was lucky to read before anyone told me they were difficult.  He also had bound copies of Punch through the 1920s and 30s. Fascinating! Nowadays, I particularly enjoy 19th century Russians. I have just watched  the TV drama ‘War and Peace’ – lovely Sunday evening stuff – but that novel has always been my default holiday reading so now the story is spoilt! I may have to find something else. I love the quirkiness of Annie le Proux and have just enjoyed ( and always enjoy) Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’.

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Having run your own businesses – pottery, a B & B establishment and a smallholding on a wilder part of Dartmoor – you are now retired and an author – so, when you are not writing what other hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Our garden is part of The National Garden Scheme which raises money for charity, so it’s a fairly full time job keeping our acre up to a good standard for visitors. I do have an escape clause though, in a phrase that I have adopted from Prince Charles. I heard him describe Highgrove once as ‘ never weed free but exuberantly planted’. A good description of a garden. I also love dress- making both for myself and for my granddaughters. We also have a small motor boat which we pootle around in. Malcolm fishes and we sometimes, when tide and a lovely evening coincide, go down river for supper in Fowey and Golant.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I would love to say that I am “au fait” with the latest designers, but I’m afraid our uniform down here is mainly Barbours and wellies. For special occasions though we have two really interesting shops – casual clothing in beautiful, natural fabrics – Bridget Foley in Tavistock and Mount’s Bay Trading in Truro. I also have a pair of black, knee-length boots, bought in Italy, which I cherish.

“Pot Luck” is published by Jennifer Bell in conjunction with WRITERSWORLD, and is produced entirely in the UK. It is available to order from most bookshops in the United Kingdom, and is also globally available via UK based Internet book retailers.

It was so lovely to have you on the blog, Jennifer. Your grandfather’s study sounds delightful – I’m a bookworm and my idea of a heavenly room is a snug room lined with books and a big comfortable armchair to curl up in.   Dear readers, what would be your ideal room? Would it be a walled garden, a verandah overlooking a river bank, an airy conservatory, or a walk in wardrobe?  Do share your views – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Jennifer Bell.

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Just Say It

“Communication always leaves me incomplete,
The grass is greener, but it’s grown beneath my feet…
Love inspiration is a message on a wing,
But I have left it in the words you’ll never sing…

Communication let me down,
And I’m left here
Communication let me down,
And I’m left here, I’m left here again!……”

As Spandau Ballet’s song “Communication” plays in my mind, it seems a great intro to my guest this week,  Dr Cheryl Bauman, whose book “Just Say It” explores the power of the spoken word. Inspired by the change in her own relationships, Cheryl encourages people to use face-to-face communication whenever possible and to  wean off of relying on social media to develop and maintain connections with others.  I caught up with Cheryl to discover more as well as to indulge in a bit of fashion passion too….

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Thank you so much Linda for inviting me as a guest on your blog site and for interviewing me in this capacity. I truly appreciate it. I am very excited to discuss my new book called, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That Will Change Your Life FOREVER! “My name is Dr. Cheryl Bauman. I am very grateful for the ways that God has faithfully blessed my life. I have been married to my husband Pino for 18 years and we have a beautiful 12 year old daughter named Sara. We reside in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I have worked in the education field for over 25 years. I have been very blessed to have had a number of roles within the educational system including university professor, principal, learning support consultant, special education teacher and guidance counsellor. I received my Doctor of Education from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia and I was awarded the ACEL Queensland Research in Educational Leadership and Management Award. Currently, I am teaching for the Faculty of Education Departments at several Canadian universities and I work on research projects for an International university. I also own a consulting firm where I provide workshops, seminars and consulting services to large and small private and public corporations. God has provided me with the gifting of communication and I gladly share this gifting with others through speaking, researching and writing.
As I was writing this book, I drew upon many life experiences that included those as a wife, mother, educator and consultant.

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Congratulations on publishing your book, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That will Change Your Life FOREVER” – a book that explores the power of the spoken word and focuses on the importance of self-worth, positivity, forgiveness, spirituality and purpose. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

As I mentioned above, I have been working in the education field for over 25 years. As a result of this experience, I have had the privilege of being in contact with many people of all ages and walks of life. Presently,as well through the writing and publicizing of my book, this privilege continues to grow and my passion regarding the essential message that there is power in the spoken word is forever increasing. This book was birthed out of many life lessons and I acknowledge that I have been both the sender and receiver of unkind words. In my book,  I confess that I am not perfect, however, by understanding the power that is in the spoken word, by speaking words of encouragement out loud, I found that it confirmed to others what I thought about them. I also noted that our relationships changed for the better. As I watched my relationships flourish due to being purposeful with the words that I spoke I decided to become increasingly more purposeful with my speech and to form a habit to speak genuine, positive messages to the people in my life every single day. I decided to make this a priority in my life, to be grateful for the many blessings that I have and to let people know what a blessing they are to my life and to those around them. I believe that we all hold within us the power to choose whether we will speak positive messages to others filled with hope and truth or speak negative discouraging messages. I also believe that at some level everyone has the desire to fit in, to be cared for, and to belong. I value that our attitude is a mindset, and what we believe we will achieve. If you believe and want to form a habit of speaking positive words of truth to others, then I encourage you to begin today! We all have a responsibility as parents, spouses, co-workers, supervisors, grandparents, aunts and uncles to speak words of life and encouragement into the people in both our inner and outer circles so that they can grow to the potential they were created for on this earth. Through many life lessons I know that the good news that I am writing about in this book works! I have chosen to be a person who builds others up by giving them the gift of encouragement. I believe that you can also discover firsthand that there is power in speaking positive truths aloud to people in conversations. Through the power of the spoken word you can encourage the people around you to fulfill their purpose here on earth! I encourage people not to wait until someone retires from work, or until you say the eulogy at a loved one’s funeral to let others know what you think about them. In my book I challenge readers to begin a worldwide phenomenon and Just Say It! every single day to someone in your life. Choose to be the difference! “I believe in you”. I know you can do it!

You believe that effective communication is personal, positive and purposeful; also you feel that we are relying heavily on social media to develop and maintain connections with each other. How important is face to face communication?

Unfortunately, I have been noticing a real steady decline in the way that some people are interacting with others. As a society some of us are becoming less social. As well some of us are not nurturing our usage of face-to-face communication to build and maintain our relationships in a personal way. Instead, some of us are relying solely on social media to connect with each other and to continue relationships that also require face-to-face communication and verbal connection in order to maintain a healthy balance. There is definitely an increase in the use of social media, and for some time now, I have been contemplating the question, “is social media making us less social?” I have also been noting that some people are becoming more isolated and disconnected. People are created to be connected with each other. We are designed to be in right relationship with others. We all have a need to belong and to find our purpose in life. We are not designed to be alone. As some people become more and more isolated, I have recognized that some people are more sad, and less kind towards each other, and also most notably less encouraging and kind to themselves. Statistics support an increase in depression and mental illness. People who live under a cloud of negativity do not believe that they belong and are cared for; they lose their direction in life, their sense of purpose, and their willingness to seek resolution. I believe face-to-face communication is essential to maintaining healthy and happy relationships. Most of us have the unique opportunity of communicating with many people throughout the course of our day. The people in our lives may include people who are both in our inner circle, such as our family members, and people in our outer circle such as our neighbours and co-workers. I believe that these opportunities are a gift that we can positively pass along to others. I believe face-to-face communication is essential, however, I will qualify that by stating that geographical constraints often play a role in not permitting people to have these very vital face-to-face communication opportunities. If you live far away from the important people in your life, then Skype and/or the telephone is a great way to connect and still be able to at least hear the tone of a their voice. If you work in one city and need to communicate with companies in another city, of course modern technology is the most effective and efficient form of communication. I believe that social media is definitely here to stay and I also believe that it is a very effective tool in communication, but we must not neglect the importance of face-to-face communication. We must continue to nurture relationships based on our human need to belong and to care for each other. Body language and tone of voice are essential components of verbal communication that we are missing out on if we completely rely on texts or e-mails to communicate. In my book, I talk about the fact that many misinterpretations are happening because people are relying solely on technology to communicate. I address the fact that many problems could be avoided if we had face-to-face conversations where we could look people in the eye, they could view our body language and we could view theirs as well as hear their tone of voice. I also discuss how we must be personal, positive and purposeful with our verbal communication. It is essential to our well-being and the well-being of others around us.

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Your book contains many valuable lessons that others can learn from. What, in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you have learned from your life experiences so far?

Linda, you ask some great questions!

I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is that I always make a purposeful effort to be genuine, honest and positive with people. Due to some extremely priceless lessons in life, I believe that we all have a choice to decide as to how we are going to interact with others. Are we going to view others in terms of their strengths and encourage them with their strengths? Or are we going to focus on their weaknesses and discourage them by always pointing out their mistakes? My perception is that it is very easy for people to find fault with others and to continually be critical of them. Finding fault with others does not take a lot of talent or skill. In many facets of the current world we live in, it is being emphasized and modelled that it is OK to be critical, to say cruel and mean things to each other. Saying and doing cruel things seems to be the norm. We don’t have to look very far for this unfortunate truth, we just need to turn on the TV and listen to some of the reality TV shows that are being hailed as “reality”. What I believe to be more challenging in this day and age that we live in is to focus on the strengths and talents of people, to uplift and admonish them. In my book I am encouraging people to make saying kind, genuine, truthful words to be the new norm. I am encouraging people to begin a worldwide Just Say It! phenomenon and to use the spoken word as a powerful and positive encouragement tool.

Although you live in Canada, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Information as to how to purchase my book, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That Will Change Your Life FOREVER” is available on my website as well as on-line through amazon.com and throughout the world as numerous on-line book distributing companies carry my book. If readers have a favourite on-line book distributing company that they normally buy from they can enter the name of my book and my name and there is a high possibility that their distributing company does carry my book.  I encourage you to start the worldwide phenomenon to Just Say It! Post your success stories on my website! Also on my website you will find a free downloadable study guide, bookmarks and postcards.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

I am currently working on a Just Say It! book series. I have completed the second book in the series and I am now writing the third. I have already outlined the fourth!

I am also writing chapters in two educational books. One of the books should be released in December, 2016. It is entitled ” Cultures of Leadership: Exploring educational leadership across cultures”. The second educational book will be out in late 2016 or early 2017. It will be called, “Leading, Learning and Aligning: Keys to sustaining school improvement”. So, watch for these books as well, especially if you are in the educational field.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I enjoy reading various genres. I love books and I love reading. Our house is filled with books, and I always have two or three on the go at one time. Some of my favourite types of books are autobiographies and biographies. I love learning about people’s lives. I also enjoy reading suspense novels with an action/adventure plot; mystery books; self-help, motivational and books about business; and educational literature. Due to the fact that I am a university professor, my work involves a great deal of purposeful reading to both enhance my professional growth as well as the knowledge and skills of the students that I teach.

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You earned your doctorate from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia; although you currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. What do you love about being in Canada? What place is at the top of your “Must See” Travel bucket list?

I really love living in Canada. Canada has so much to offer in terms of varied geography and the four seasons. We are able to experience spring, summer, fall and winter. Although, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in my opinion, our winters are just a bit too long…. Canada has the rocky mountains, the flat plains of the prairie provinces and the red sand in Prince Edward Island. Where we live in Ottawa, we have beautiful beaches, bike paths, hiking/jogging trails and ski hills. I enjoy the freedom that Canada provides for both me and my family. Our daughter is provided with an excellent education through our public school system and she also has the opportunity to play sports both at school and after school. Our immediate extended families live near us. Although, some of our relatives live further away in other countries. We are fortunate and feel blessed that we can visit them from time to time. The United Kingdom is on my “Must See” Travel bucket list. I have never been there before. Ever since I was a young girl I have wanted to travel and visit the UK. I believe one day this dream will come true!

Confession time! Do you have a favourite social media platform that you enjoy using on a personal basis? Does it differ from your favourite business medium?

I enjoy using both facebook and twitter. Due to the fact that my life is extremely busy, as I am sure most of the readers’ lives are as well, I do not spend a lot of time on social media. However, my business and book series are promoted on Facebook and Twitter.

When you’re not writing, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I really enjoy sports and staying active. I have tons of energy and I believe it is important to stay fit and to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle! I run three to four times a week, often with my husband and sometimes with our daughter, Sara. Although Sara is now much faster than I am, so she will speed ahead of me! When the weather becomes colder and there is snow on the ground, we have a treadmill in the basement, so we all take turns to run on it. That is one of the downfalls of our Canadian winter weather. The up-side to having snow and ice is that I enjoy participating in winter sports such as downhill skiing and skating.  In Ottawa, where I live,there is an outdoor skating rink that runs along the Rideau Canal. The cleared length of the canal is 7.8 kilometers or 4.8 miles. This is the equivalent surface area of 90 Olympic hockey rinks. As a family, we enjoy skating on the Rideau Canal. I  also enjoy cooking. I like creating main dishes and experimenting with ingredients and recipes. I have a lot of fun doing this and my family and friends enjoy eating my food, so I take it that my experimentation with ingredients is working! Our daughter Sara plays competitive soccer in a provincial development league. Pino and I are busy running her to practices or watching her play games. This is her passion and it has become ours! As a family we are active in our local church. We also love spending time up at the lake. It is a generational family residence. As a family we like to travel and explore new places. I believe these times that we set aside to connect with each other as a family are foundational to our growth and communication. The memories that we create through these quality life experiences continue to strengthen our bonds and love for each other.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

So excited to answer fashion and shoe questions. Linda, you have really provided me with an opportunity to talk about my favourite loves which are writing, reading, fashion and footwear. This site is truly the BEST! To answer this question about what type of outfits and shoes I would normally be found wearing, it depends on the context. I play sports and I run about 3-4 times per week, so I can be found in jogging shorts and track pants to a business suit to a very formal evening gown.

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This red leather jacket is one of my favourites. I like to buy jackets that serve a dual purpose. A jacket makes a statement about a person’s fashion. I believe a jacket is a stand-a-lone outfit. I always want to ensure that when I “step out” that my clothes define who I am. Living in Canada I have many jackets to keep me warm, as that is a requirement for the cold climate. So, I am very purposeful in the jackets that I buy.

Do you have any favourite shops?

I often shop at a store called Winners. Winners stores are found throughout Canada and they are also connected to the TJ MAXX stores in the United States. Winners’ stores offer a great selection of designer clothing, shoes and boots at discount pricing. I really enjoy getting a deal on my purchases. I also believe in buying quality clothing and footwear, as I like my clothing and footwear to fit well, to last a long time and to look good. In Ottawa we also have stores called “Jones New York”. These stores are throughout Canada and the United States, as well as online. I really like to buy a lot of my work clothing at the Jones New York stores, as the style suits me and the cut of the clothing fits me well. I buy a lot of Anne Klein clothing as well. For my sports clothing and equipment I often shop at Sport Chek which is another store found throughout Canada and online.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I believe it is “better to give then to receive”. I enjoy buying presents for others, especially clothing and footwear. My mother’s birthday is coming up shortly and she has told my daughter that she wants a pair of Nike shoes exactly the same as Sara’s. I think this is great, as my mom is going to be 75 years young! She is still very active and in great shape. The Nike shoes for my mom will be the next piece of footwear on my list of purchases! I have my eye on a navy sweater dress. Any shade of blue is my favourite colour. I also love wearing dresses, especially with a great pair of leggings or tights and a pair of boots. I can often be found wearing a dress at any time and for any occasion – even when I am watching Sara play soccer. I find dresses just so comfortable!

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An Interview With Lifestyle Entrepreneur Cato Hoeben

The term “Lifestyle Entrepreneur” was first coined in 2013 by ex American footballer, Lewis Howes, to describe an individual that creates a business with the purpose of altering their personal lifestyle and not for the sole purpose of making profits – focusing more on the rewards that enhance enjoyment and passion. To find out more, I caught up with the talented composer and lifestyle entrepreneur, Cato Hoeben, who has recently co written with his mother a book entitled The Lifestyle Entrepreneur… Hi Cato!

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Hi! My name is Cato Hoeben and I am a composer who writes music for film, adverts, games and documentaries and I have also released a number albums that you can find on my website.  In addition to composing, I also do voice over work and have a varied history of working in science journalism-related work as well as working as a web developer. I live in London, but spend a number of months in Seville where my wife is from. Over the last 4-5 years, I’ve become what’s known as a ‘lifestyle entrepreneur’ which, in a nutshell, is an approach to making a living that allows you to shape a lifestyle the way you want by earning through multiple revenue streams.

Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur, you are co-author of the book “The Lifestyle Entrepreneur” – a step by step guide for people of all ages looking in depth at what is actually entailed in becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur. Having worked in London at a media production company where you created online GCSE science modules, what made you give up your belief that the key to financial security & future happiness was stable employment?

When you look at the ‘single job’ approach objectively, it’s pretty illogical. While it’s true that there is a hierarchy in place in many organisations that you can wrestle your way through, today’s work environment is much more hostile and less stable than it was a few decades ago. Once you lose that line of income, you’re back in line to find a replacement, and usually you’ll need to do it fast if you have a mortgage, family and bills. So, in my opinion, there is no ‘job for life’. You can easily be dropped by your boss, replaced by someone (locally or even remotely now) or the company just goes bust and in fact I have seen this happen a couple of times in previous jobs. When that happens, you suddenly have no income which blows the ‘financial security’ argument out of the water. Obviously, if you’re happy in your job and have the free time to do all the things you want to do, then that’s fantastic. But I’ve come across many instances with friends, colleagues and other contacts saying they are tired of the often tense employer-employee relationship in their jobs, the lack of time for family, friends and the limited salaries they receive to believe that the antiquated work model we’re told we have to follow is the path to happiness. Being more entrepreneurial seems to me a much more exciting, empowering (although I hate that word) and potential lucrative way of bringing in an income and shaping how you live your life.

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What are the differences between being a lifestyle entrepreneur and being a freelancer?

Good question and one I’m asked a lot. One of the principle aims of being a lifestyle entrepreneur is that you build a ‘buffer’ for your earnings so that you don’t fall into the typical employer-employee model. As a freelancer, you work to commission i.e. you are employed to do a specific job for a client and then it’s usually over. I call that type of income ‘active earning’ as you dedicate time to actively doing the work on a contractual basis. In contrast, ‘passive earning’ would be the equivalent of setting up an investment of some kind and is often much slower to build up but can turn into a regular income stream. In my case, my albums and the royalties I get from licensing my music for film, adverts and other productions are ‘passive’ income streams. I put the work into creating the product and then it continues to earn me an income stream in the future. Freelance work is almost always purely an ‘active’ income stream as you will usually earn no more in the future from that work. It’s essential to have both of these types of income when becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur as it will allow you some important benefits like having income streams you can fall back and shape the day as you want. I discuss both of these approaches to earning in The Lifestyle Entrepreneur and how you can approach a healthy balance between the two.

What do you love most about being a lifestyle entrepreneur? Is there a downside?

It has to be the flexibility of how, when and where I work. Those three things hold so much value when I realise the extent to which I can move work around to fit my needs or simply free time up to work on the things that require intense periods of attention (like a feature film…or my wife!). Even though it’s totally possible to earn a lot of money working this way, for me, it’s much more important to build a lifestyle that makes you happy. Once you realise you’re covering your basic costs like a mortgage, bills and supporting your family, there’s not much more that I find I want in life. In terms of the downsides, getting going as a lifestyle entrepreneur can be difficult and frustrating like in any entrepreneurial endeavour. There are ups and downs based on how your income streams / businesses fare, but a lot of the downsides can be flipped on their head by looking at the negatives or lack of interest in what you’re offering as something you can improve upon. The Americans are great at this and use something like a drop in sales as an opportunity to analyse what is ‘going wrong’ with their business. It can lead to all sorts of things to try out like advertising to a different demographic, modifying your product or service or even realising you’re offering something that has no demand so you either need to create that demand or try something different. Do I get tired sometimes with the workload? Yes, absolutely. But the energy I get from doing things I’m passionate about helps enormously as the division between work and play is thoroughly blurred for me.

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Your book goes into depth about lifestyle entrepreneurism – but what is your main piece of advice to anybody who may be unhappy with their work/life balance at the moment? What should their first steps be?

As I’ve been in the same place, I know very well what it is like to feel trapped in a job you’re unhappy in and all the doubts that go through your mind as to whether you’ll be able to make ends meet if you give that job up. And it’s unrealistic to expect someone to drop everything at once if you’re dependant on that income. So, my approach to making the transition was a gradual one and is primarily what I recommend to those who are more risk-averse. I began experimenting with things I wanted to sell online and built up some income streams related to music (my passion) all while I worked as a web editor at a mental health charity. As these passive income streams grew, I started taking on the occasional freelance commission outside of my primary job to help bolster my income. Time is always an issue when you’re in a full-time job, but these mini ‘businesses’ can take as little as a few hours a week to maintain depending on what you choose to do. Once I knew I could pay my basic living costs, I decided to take the plunge on a more permanent basis which freed up my time to find new clients and develop my income streams further. And don’t be misled by the fact some income streams bring in small amounts, $80 a month from various streams can build up fast.

Is your book available to purchase outside the UK?

Absolutely. It’s available as a physical book in stores like Waterstones and online via Amazon as a physical book and an ebook. There’s a link on our website too.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Yes, although I’m still exploring those ideas. Something I think would be useful would be looking in depth at how the Lifestyle Entrepreneur approach can be employed in specific industries as it can be daunting trying to figure out how to make money from multiple strands in certain sectors. Some initial topics I’m considering are science journalism and music as I have experience in those areas. But any area that is that competitive and difficult to work in would make good topics to investigate as if you can make a living in a tough niche, you should be able to do it in any industry.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

As the son of a journalist, I’m a poor example of a bookworm! As dry as it sounds, I tend to read more for ‘function’ than ‘fun’ as it feels like wasted time otherwise, so you’ll find lots of self-development and practical books on my shelf rather than Nietzsche and Goethe. Feel free to label me a philistine. That said, I am a fan of great stories and my childhood was full of Greek Legends, books like Moby Dick and Robin Hood. I particularly enjoyed A Portrait of Dorian Gray and science-fiction books like Brave New World. In all honesty though, I get much more out of film than I do books because of the interplay between music and picture.

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Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur and author, you are also a talented composer, composing music for films etc. Growing up, did you aspire to have a musical career or were your aspirations quite different?

Since the age of seven I’ve been playing piano, so I’ve always had an interest in music. But I was firmly en route to becoming a science journalist having studied chemistry and biology at A-level, biology at Sussex University and then doing a Masters in Science Communication at Imperial. However, as any composer will tell you, there are a lot of parallels between maths and music so in a funny way I guess all those years molecular biology calculations and breaking my brain over molar masses was actually feeding my inner musician!

When you’re not writing, web designing or composing what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I love travelling abroad, exploring new places to eat in and play basketball regularly. Both Seville and London are fantastic places for food, the former being considerably cheaper of course, but some of the most amazing places I’ve eaten in have been in Japan. I’m also interested in sampling unusual sounds that I can transform into virtual instruments for use in my music, so you’ll often find me recording things like pots and pans, bowing strange objects with a violin bow, etc.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m a fan of Aldo shoes which is a chain that can be found throughout London, but also Grenson’s do some great shoes that I’m always drooling over when I pass by their shop. In terms of fashion, if you ask my brother, I’m the anthesis of stylish and he accuses me of wearing Cornish pasty-style shoes, but I like to think that hidden underneath my inner science geek there is someone incredibly stylish who is ahead of his time. My outfits are usually smart casual.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I spend quite a lot of time on the sites where I offer my services and products to gauge how I’m doing and seeing what other opportunities are out there, but in terms of keeping up with news, I tend to follow the BBC website, Guardian, Lifehacker and TechCrunch. I’m not much of a shopper, but I do have an unhealthy tendency to spend lots on virtual instruments to use in my music that often needs taming.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I want to replace my pseudo-leather jacket that is starting to peel and show me up in public. But that could take some time as I need to find something that has a cut I like and long enough arms (the bane of my life).

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes as I find them more comfortable and less cowboy-ish. That said, I’m starting to try the boot look since a friend of mine convinced me to get some leather boots from Valverde de Camino – a small village in the province of Huelva, Spain that is renowned for having some of the best leather products in Europe. Since I bought them, I’ve worn them twice, so the adjustment is taking its time.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

The site for The Lifestyle Entrepreneur is http://bit.ly/lifestyle-entrepreneur you can also buy the book and read more about it at http://www.lifestyle-entrepreneur.net. We also have a FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/lifestyleentrepreneurnet/ and our Twitter page to follow is https://twitter.com/TheLifestyleEnt. For music-related stuff and info about my composing work, visit http://www.catohoeben.com.

Music from my album Vulnerable Beauty, here’s a soundcloud link:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/vulnerable-beauty-montage

Or there’s my new album Flaming Flamenco:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/flaming-flamenco

Thank you Cato for enlightening me, and hopefully my readers too, as to what being a lifestyle entrepreneur is all about.  I also loved knowing about your music too – the idea of recording virtual instruments sounds fun to me!  Pots & pans make great drums, and I made a virtual guitar once using a shoebox and elastic bands…. Dear readers, have you any virtual musical instrument stories to tell? Does being a lifestyle entrepreneur appeal to you?  Like always, I love to know so don’t be shy, drop me a line….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Cato Hoeben.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meetings In Moccasins

Do you feel that you are on the hamster wheel of work, spinning round and round, day in day out?  Do you get so work focused that you forego those breaks/holidays? Yes?  My guest this week is Barbara Wittmann – business owner, leadership coach, IT consultant and a passionate entrepreneur – whose latest new book “Meetings In Moccasins”, shares the positive implications of slowing down, taking a leaf out of nature’s book and  from the ancient wisdom of North American cultures.  I caught up with Barbara recently to find out more….

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Hi! I’m Barbara Wittmann, 40 years old and live in Munich, Germany. I’m an IT Consultant, leadership coach and passionate entrepreneur. My quest for healthy concepts of leadership and growth brought me into the wilderness, where I explored the ancient wisdom of Native American cultures. I integrate their values and rituals into my daily business life with great success. I frequently travel to wild places to get away from my hectic business life, recharge and feed my soul. I’m a world traveller and love to connect opposites, as I believe that is the place where true innovation really happens.

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Congratulations on publishing your book, “Meetings In Moccasins” – a book that advises how to avoid the hamster wheel of work and shares the positive implications of slowing down and getting back to the basics of nature. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I started my own business 10 years ago. The first years were rough in getting a foot on the ground, hiring my first employees and building a client base. Being an entrepreneur is quite the journey. It involves facing fears and frequently go beyond your personal comfort zone. I wanted to do it right and was hiring a business coach to speed up growth. I soon doubled and tripled my revenue and even founded two other companies. Here I wanted to escape the hamster wheel when I started my own business just to find out that I was in it again. I knew that I had to change things to stay healthy. I was at a point of questioning many things in my life and decided I needed to do some intense self reflection. I signed up for a Visionquest, which is based in the Native American tradition. I went out into nature to quiet my mind and see what is next. After sitting in solitude for three days and three nights I came back with the realization that nature is our biggest teacher when it comes to growth. I started applying the basic principles to my own organization to find out that by slowing down and getting back to basics I was happiest, had happier employees and clients. I felt my experience and journey was worth sharing, as our world needs to get back to a healthier pace.

Taking a leaf out of nature’s book, and adding elements of ancient wisdom from Native American cultures, readers will learn what it takes to achieve sustainable personal and professional fulfilment. Who is your target audience for this book?

The target audience for my book are business owners, entrepreneurs and team leaders. This book is written for all those who are curious on how to apply healthier concepts to their personal and professional lives.

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You have explored the ancient wisdom of Native American cultures. What, in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you learnt from them? What attracts you to the Native American cultures?

What attracts me to the Native American Culture is the wealth of wisdom and the closeness to nature. It is a very distinct way of viewing the world and understanding the natural laws. Something that modern society has completely lost. We have all become so materialistic, that we are neglecting the wealth of knowledge of those who have come before us. For me the most profound teaching in the ancient ways is about how to see beauty in our broken world. The Navajo call the core of their teachings Beauty Way. I love that concept, because if we don’t see beauty in ourself, our action and the world anymore we have lost all connection to healthy relationships, gratitude and humility.

Although you live in Germany, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, my book is available for purchase through my US publisher Balboa Press or simply through Amazon.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

This is definitely not the last book with my name on it. There are so many topics that I would be curious to explore deeper. I’m working with a lot of individuals and businesses. I’m always really touched by their stories. The next book might be one of stories on how implementing some of the practices in my book changed their way of doing things. This is just an example. Many more ideas cooking.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

My all time favorite author is Terry Tempest Williams. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice is one of the most powerful books I have read. I love poetry. When I go backpacking I always bring my personal collection of poems with me. That includes a broad variety from Rainer Maria Rilke to Mary Oliver.

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You frequently travel to the wild and untouched places of North America – Where is your favourite location?

I have a little vacation home in the Four Corners Region. From my doorstep I can literally hike into the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. Other favorite playgrounds in that area include Canyonlands National Park, Mesa Verde & the Manti La Sal National Forest. Other places I really enjoy are Death Valley & the Sierras. And there is so much more to see. I just need more time to explore 😉

What place is at the top of your “Must See” Travel bucket list?

Hike the John Muir Trail
Travel to Iceland to see the Northern Lights
See wildlife in Africa
Travel the Australian Outback

When you’re not busy with your work commitments, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy to relax?

I love riding my road bike. I usually go out at the crack of dawn when I have the roads to myself. To me this is almost meditative. I love to cook and having friends over for dinner. This includes going to the local farmers market. Simply dedicating a complete day to relationships & good conversations. I go on walks or hikes whenever I can. This is my way of digesting my busy days and slowing down.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

When I started my corporate carrer as a consultant the right outfit was really important. Basically it underlined your competency level. In those days I really needed professional clothing as my level of experience was still low 😉 Today I can get away with business casual, as I know my stuff. You would find me showing up for a consulting gig in jeans, leather boots & a blouse. Depending on the topic and situation I sometimes show up at clients wearing a happy face T-Shirt. A good way to break the ice. For outdoor clothing I prefer modern and colorful functional clothing. Hard to find, as most outdoor outfitters choose earth colours. My all time favorite is a german brand called Maloja. They add colour and fun to outdoor clothing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Even though there are many great online sites out there I’m still old fashioned and I love shopping in smaller stores in Munich or when I’m in the U.S. my favorite shopping spot is downtown Boulder. A must see is “Show Fly” and  “Goorin Bros Hat Shop.”

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

As I’m heading to Colorado in December on the top of my list are warm SOREL winter boots.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are my favorite. I feel they are more functional and pretty much go with anything. My favorite are boots from BED STU.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

www.barbarawittmann.de
https://www.facebook.com/ba.wittmann/?fref=ts

I love your travel bucket lists ideas, Barbara.  I have seen the Northern Lights not in Iceland but in the mountains of Northern Finland and I have been on safari in Kenya.  I share your dream to visit the Australian Outback (I’d love to see Uluru Rock) and Iceland.  I would love to photograph polar bears in Churchill, Canada, visit your wilderness area (Four Corners Region)  and do a exploration cruise to the Antarctic! So, dear readers, what’s on your travel bucket list? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Barbara  Wittmann.

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