Category Archives: Life Issues/ Motivational Posts

Introducing Boomer On The Ledge

You may have heard of the traditional American Christmas Elf on the Shelf – but I am going to introduce you to something even cuter – “Boomer On The Ledge”!  The book & toy “Boomer On The Ledge” was created by author Molly Stevens, whose blog “Shallow Reflections” just happens to be one of my favourites.  Having just been published this November,  I couldn’t wait to buy a copy of the book and I wasn’t disappointed – it was packed full of sketches that reflect Molly’s fun sense of humour!  I couldn’t wait to ask Molly about “Boomer” …. Hi Molly!

Hi! My name is Molly Stevens, and I live in central Maine. When I’m not writing, working or rummaging around in the middle of the night looking for a snack, I love to spend time with my husband, Patrick, and our son, daughter-in-law and two perfect grandsons. This is my first book.

What was the inspiration behind On Boomer The Ledge™ or BOTL™ (Humoroutcasts Press,2017)?

I watched my grandsons get excited about finding an elf posed each morning that monitors their behavior leading up to Christmas and thought my generation was missing something fun. I felt like we were invisible with no one watching us unless looking for signs of dementia. My mother left me a little vintage doll, and I started photographing it in different poses and it made me laugh. I brainstormed ideas with my husband, Patrick, and The Boomer on the Ledge concept was born. I waited for a year before I published it as a blog post, then decided I needed to expand it into a book with a new doll. I designed my vision of the doll, and worked with a fantastic seamstress, Brenda DeRoche, to make the doll come to life with a unique personality. The more we worked on the prototype, the more she looked like me, especially when I first get up in the morning.

Congratulations on being published – how does it feel to finally get your idea published and off the ground? What was your main highlight and what proved most frustrating?

Having this book published feels like giving birth, and this is not something I ever imagined at age sixty-four! The most frustrating part was meeting my deadlines while working fulltime.  Also, I shot the pictures during the height of summer, and in Maine, that means endless hours of bright sunlight. I used an umbrella, a blanket and even did a few photos in the bathroom with the shade pulled to improve the lighting. The highlight was selling the first book, hearing the buyer laugh and say, “Everyone will love it as much as I do!”

I certainly love the book and did have a giggle at some of the positions she got herself into – hard to pick favourites, but I did particularly like the “roasting pantyhose on an open fire” and “ drinking out of the dog bowl thinking it was gin” – so where did you draw your inspiration for the Boomer antics from?

Her antics come from my own life – balancing work and family, pursuing creative endeavors, trying to stay healthy, looking stylish while staying comfortable, planning for retirement, and some days not wanting to get out of bed.

Which Boomer On The Ledge antic is your personal favourite?

My favorite is cover photo, the doll hanging on the ledge, because this is symbolic of my life stage – hanging precariously between danger and adventure. When you are younger, it is a shock if an illness or injury strikes someone you know, but in your sixties, a disaster can be right around the corner. Conversely, I have found this age to be a fabulous time of self-discovery, creativity, and adventure.

What do you hope your readers get from this book?

I hope my readers can relate to the Boomer on the Ledge and have a lighthearted moment in a world that is often sad and scary. If I can give one person a moment of escape from this madness, I will have achieved my goal. I believe humor is the emollient that smoothes life’s rough patches and I want to show boomers how hilarious aging can be.

 

Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with writing or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

I dreamed of a career in the arts – music and literature were my favorite subjects. I grew up in a time when a teacher, nurse, or secretary were the most common career pathways for a girl. I chose a career in nursing and I have no regrets but I’m grateful my dream to be a writer ignited at sixty years old, and now I consider it my passion.

Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or kindle? Favourite genre?

I do most of my reading in bed but if I can’t sleep I settle into my swivel rocking chair. I read a mixture of hardback/paperback and kindle books, usually several at a time, which can get confusing. I have read a lot of non-fiction the past few years, but am getting back into fiction, which is my first love. I enjoy variety and will read about anything as long as it is well written, having no tolerance for dull concepts and shoddy writing.

Where can people purchase Boomer On The Ledge? Is there worldwide availability?

Boomer on the Ledge book is available on Amazon worldwide. The Boomer on the Ledge doll is available in the United States, made to order and available on my website at www.shallowreflections.com, (sold only with the book).

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

I love skinny jeans and flowing tops that leave plenty of room for me to eat a plate of nachos without revealing any bulges.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I like J. Jill clothing line for its style and comfort. Did I mention I like comfortable clothes?

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

I’m always cold and I want to take trip to mid-coast Maine to buy a warm, cozy alpaca sweater.

Boots or Shoes?

This time of year nothing but boots, short ones with my jeans, tall ones with my leggings/tops.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and Boomer On The Ledge.

http://www.shallowreflections.com
https://www.facebook.com/shallowreflections/
https://www.facebook.com/BoomerOTL/
https://twitter.com/ShallRef
https://www.pinterest.com/mstevens1953/shallow-reflections/
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MollyStevensPerham/posts
https://www.instagram.com/mstevens1983/

Good golly Miss Molly, I sure do love your sense of humour and the Boomer doll is so cute! So, dear readers, what mischievous poses would you put your Boomer doll in?  In honour of Molly, I would opt for Boomer to be immersed in a bowl of Nachos …. ! 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Molly Stevens.

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An Interview With Skipah

This week, gracing my “blog” is the man from Indiana – Gary Mathews (aka Skipah!) I have followed Gary’s blog since day one – from his life as a newly divorced father of one gorgeous little girl, trying to fathom out the legal system and trying to co parent successively; his life in Indiana; and now as a happily remarried newly wed! His style of writing is addictive reading – I’ve learnt a lot about Indiana, the Ohio River and Kentucky – and he always makes me smile! Gary is one “hell of a nice guy” … so, without further ado, come and meet the Skipah…

To say I was flattered when the World Famous Linda Hobden asked me to participate in her August blogging series, would be an understatement! Greetings everyone, I’m Gary Mathews or the Skipah from Skipah’s Realm. I’m the father of one beautiful young girl, stepdad to two others, and recently married the woman of my dreams, Miss Madison! The journey I’ve taken to get here is one for the record books!

What inspired you to start blogging?

The inspiration behind the beginning of my blogging career is one full of sadness and despair. I had recently been blindsided that my first marriage of 13 years was abruptly ending. As anyone that has been in that position knows your mind is going 100 mph and focusing on anything is an effort in futility. One day I just started screwing around on the internet and said “the hell with it” why not start a blog. I went self hosted from the start and it was the one thing I got to call 100% mine after the divorce proceedings had started. Three years later I’m still at it, albeit the doom and gloom is a distant memory.

So why is your blog called “Skipah’s Realm”?

When I was starting my blog I kept bouncing names off of my best friend. He finally came up with Skipah’s Realm. Skipah is my childhood nickname that I have never been able to shake. I actually wrote a post about the mysterious origins of Skipah. I’m 40 years old and probably still get called Skipah by half the people I interact with.

Being a blogger you need to have regular Interaction on social media. What social media outlet is your favourite and what is your least favourite? What social media tends to attract more readers to your blog?

Social media is a blogger’s best friend, worst enemy, and biggest distraction. My personal favorite is Facebook and I get a great amount of “real” views from it, my largest source of traffic though usually comes from Stumbleupon (which is iffy to call social media), and I do OK with Twitter. Facebook has become a way of life for me, I’ve met so many great people all over the world that I feel like if we ever meet in person I could just show up and ask for a drink and pick up on our latest online conversation. Also, there are some great Facebook Groups out there, and believe it or not this red blooded male has a whale of a time with this great group of ladies (and a few men) in a group known as Blog, Share, Love. They keep me grounded, laugh at my dumb jokes, and picked me up when I needed it the most when I lost my custody battle after my divorce. My least favorite is Pinterest, I don’t even know why I have an account there. Oh wait, I read somewhere in the Bloggers Bible that it was essential.

I know from following your blog that you do like your food and that you are a dab hand in the kitchen.  So let’s talk food … what is your favourite food? What food genre is your favourite when eating out?

My favorite meal has nothing to do with the kitchen. I’ll take a porterhouse on the grill seven days a week if my heart could stand it! When they put me on death row (if they ever catch me) for killing people with kindness, my final meal will be a crisp salad with ranch dressing, 22 ounces of Angus, and a loaded baked potato! I have been known though to make a killer manicotti if I must get the kitchen dirty. My favorite genre when eating out is by far any joint my south of the border friends have opened. I love Mexican food in all shapes and forms, plus the all you can eat chips and salsa always a great “free” appetizer!

I love reading about your road trips and local places that you visit – I’m getting knowledgeable about Indiana now! So, if you visit any place in the world, money no object, where would you go & why?

I have always had a fascination with Australia or New Zealand. I know those two countries bicker amongst themselves, but I would love to go to either place if life ever allowed me to. That little dot in the Atlantic Ocean known as Bermuda ranks pretty high up also. Why? I live in freaking Indiana, aka the Hoosier state! Hoosiers and all the other Midwest states have perfected the art of daydreaming over beach pictures and exotic places. Exotic locales for us consist of maple trees and maybe a lake. Plus the aforementioned places have local “fresh” seafood. I can’t eat this crap they call seafood in the Midwest!

A lot of bloggers I know are also bookworms …are you one?

I used to be a bookworm, not anymore – I just use books to level a dresser that is uneven. When I was a voracious reader though anything Tom Clancy was definitely a page turner for me. Michael Crichton and John Grisham were also some of my favorites along with true crime novels. True story, when I was 18 years old I read Helter Skelter in one night and couldn’t sleep the next day. Currently I’m reading “How to stayed married for longer than 13 years.”

Have you got a favourite style icon?

Fashion icon for me? Justin Timberlake….dude is a stud! I don’t know where he ranks in the fashion world, but in my next life I want to dress like him!

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses from the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s … what decade of fashion are you drawn towards?

Without sounding sexist at all, I absolutely love seeing images of women from the 50s in their poodle skirts. Can you bring the poodle skirt back like Justin Timberlake brought sexy back? Fashion from 70s can go into some time capsule and never come back, granted I was only born in 1976 but I’ve seen the pictures. Bell Bottom jeans? Who thought this was a good idea?

What is your favourite colour?

Favorite color..err I mean colour is red. Although I’ve been told I look good in yellow, and my eyes are green. No I’m not some communist supporter with my love of red, my favorite sports team is the Cincinnati Reds, and I just like the color!

I have a passion for music- I listen to most styles – what genre floats your boat?

My music tastes are all over the place. I mean I grew up in the 80s so anytime I hear a good 80s jam I’m dancing like a white boy at a wedding reception. Classic Rock, top 40 hits, old school country I’m really up for anything with music. There is that slight obsession to Katy Perry that I should probably mention. It’s OK my wife knows about it and even scored us some concert tickets later this year.

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day? Hmm, depends on the day I guess. A perfect day for me is waking up and my beautiful wife is next to me. My daughter is in her bedroom asleep, and my stepkids are bickering over what to watch on TV. Granted this would be in our beach side mansion in the Outer Banks, North Carolina or anywhere in the world that offers me fresh crab cakes.

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

Outfits and shoes? I’m 40, a dad, and from the Midwest. Since it’s August and the heat index can’t get over it’s addiction to topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius, I did my homework) you will find this chiseled hunk in a pair of cargo shorts, probably a T-shirt, and tennis shoes. If I’m feeling kinky I’ll wear my sandals. I’m so boring fashion wise, insomniac groups follow me on Instagram just to fall asleep.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Like most of the world I’ve been sucked into the Amazon world a time or two, but that is turning into an online Walmart now! If you turn me loose at kitchen store, like say, Williams Sonoma, make sure you hide your credit cards from me or it’s going to get ugly fast!

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

Next up for me in the clothing department will more than likely be some kick butt clearance deals on men’s clothing. It is usually how I buy my “nicer” clothes, and local retailers tend to run amazing deals in August to get the summer inventory out the door.

Boots or shoes?

Since I look ridiculous in boots I’m going to say shoes. Give me my trusty pair of Nike’s any day of the week! Although if I need to look presentable my dress shoe of choice is a Rockport.

What no more questions? I was just getting warmed up! 

You can follow Gary’s exploits on:

Skipah’s Realm
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

Thanks Gary for being such a charming guest! I like the idea of bringing back into fashion poodle skirts too… dear readers, what fashion item from yesteryear would you like to revived and brought back into fashion? Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Gary Mathews.

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An Interview With Jennifer Koshak

This week I get to talk to the lovely blogger, Jennifer Koshak.  What do I like about Jennifer and her blog, Unfoldandbegin.com?  Jennifer makes me feel happy – her love of life and having fun is contagious – and we share the same motto, that “Laughter is the spice of Life”.  Jennifer has two cats, like me – however, she is allergic to cats! And, what’s more, her husband is a chef and chocolatier!  Hello Jennifer!

Hello! My name is Jennifer Koshak. I’m a blogger from Connecticut in the U.S. I used to work as an Operations Manager for Verizon Wireless until our office location was closed in March of this year. So, I’m currently blogging full-time (dream job) while also looking to see if there is a job that I absolutely WANT to have. For instance, I recently applied, but didn’t get interviewed, to a company that wants to bring coding education to kids in inner city schools. I don’t code which is probably why they didn’t even interview me. But coding will be important to future jobs and I would have loved to have been a liaison between the company and the schools.

My husband is a chef and chocolatier. At one point, we owned a chocolate shop where he made truffles and caramels and other delicious goodies using Belgian chocolate. My self-appointed job title was CET or Chief Executive Taster. We had fun naming chocolates like the Nutty Friar which was made with Frangelico and crushed hazelnuts. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which was an 80% dark chocolate truffle and my absolute favorite, Sinfully Delicious which was a salted, chocolate caramel either in dark or milk chocolate. I would have rolled around in that stuff if I could have. To this day, I have never found a better tasting caramel.

I was also an active yoga teacher up until a few years ago. Then I started working full-time (having had the luxury of being a job/share employee and only working 25 hours a week at my company.) Because of the full-time work, I had to give up my yoga classes which were during the day.

You started your lovely blog, Unfoldandbegin.com, 4 years ago. What was the inspiration behind starting your blog?

I love to write. You can’t stop me. I write in three or four different notebooks each day. I buy notebooks and pens like other people buy books. I wanted to blog for years and actually did a couple of years earlier when I started a blog and then deleted it a few months later. Mind you, no one had even read any of my posts but I was afraid they would!

I found thinking up a blog title really difficult – I settled for something simple – but tell me, what made you go for Unfold and Begin?

At the time that I started my first blog, I called it Unfold and Evolve because I was writing about my yoga journey and what I was learning about myself. One of the reasons why I deleted it was because I felt the title was too pretentious—evolve? What right did I have to say that I was evolved? That’s how much I was getting into my own head about letting people know the real me.

So I deleted it and then a year later, I decided that Unfold And Begin was a better title. The “Unfold” part was of course, about opening up to others. The “begin” was that I was taking baby steps to put myself out there. That meaning has since evolved (ha…there’s that evolve word again) into trying new things—beginning something new, being open to learning, to trying and to your creativity.

Being a blogger you need to have regular interaction on social media. What social media outlet is your personal favourite? What social media tends to attract more readers to your blog? What is your least favourite & why?

Oh wow. This is a tough question. I love Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter but of the three of them, I guess Facebook must be my favorite, because I’m on it the most. I’m also starting to use Instagram more. I didn’t know what to do with it at first since it’s so visual and I’m a writer. But I’ve started learning. Stumble Upon, Pinterest and Facebook drive the most traffic to my blog in that order. I feel guilty about Stumble Upon because I don’t personally use it that much (and really just have a basic understanding of it.) So while it drives the most traffic it’s also my least favorite since I don’t really get it or use it that much.

What do you like most about blogging?

Besides the writing? I love “meeting” all the people I’ve met through blogging. I found a fellow blogger in the town that I live in (which is a very small suburban community) and we’ve met a couple of times at a local coffee shop to share blogging tips. I also like a lot of the blogging Facebook groups that I participate in. My favorite group is small and we’re like a family that is spread around the world. We’re all very friendly, support each other when help is needed and make fun of each other like only family can.

Apart from being a blogger, you are a yoga teacher and your husband is a chef and chocolatier… so let’s talk food… what is your favourite meal? What food genre is your favourite when eating out?

OMG! Food! I love food as long as someone else is making it for me. Not only is my husband, Chris, a chef, but he went to the same school (the Culinary Institute of America) that my father went to. As far as I’m concerned, men belong in the kitchen. Even my ex-husband was a cook in his father’s restaurant. Chris jokes (only it’s not a joke) that when he met me my refrigerator only contained milk, beer and condiments. When he opened the freezer it was all frozen dinners just lined up in a row.

Every Valentine’s Day, my husband rotates between my two favorite meals that he’s ever made me: Filet Mignon in a Puff Pastry or Lobster Newburg in a Puff Pastry. I don’t know why they are better in the Puff Pastry, but they are. Just to make this even more special….my husband is allergic to shell fish. He cannot taste the Lobster Newburg, but he makes the BEST that I’ve ever tasted (and that includes what my father used to make.)

As for food genre? I really have no favorite. While I grew up in a household that required you eat everything on your plate whether you like it or not, I have a different rule. You don’t have to eat anything you don’t like, but you do have to try it first before you can declare you don’t like it.

I know that you like trying new things, having fun and laughing – so, if you could visit any place in the world, money no object, where would you go & why?

Money is no object? That’s such a hard decision. I’d love to go to a lot of different places, including Base Camp on Mount Everest. But if I had to pick just one thing, I’d love to go on a safari in Africa. I love zebras. Their color and pattern just fascinate me and I would love to see them in their natural environment. Oh, but then I would also love to go to every beautiful, warm beach in the world.

Jennifer & her mum

Alot of bloggers I know are also bookworms… are you one? What genre of book do you like reading? What book(s) are you currently reading?

YES! I love books. I used to buy actual books, but I’ve recently downsized and found that I even gave up my beloved Harry Potter collection, because I’m a Kindle and Audible girl now. Have you heard the Audible versions of Harry Potter? They are fantastic. I used to eat mysteries and suspense for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My sister and I would share these books. Recently, I’ve gotten into biographies and seem to be interested in old film and comedy stars. I finished a biography of Dean Martin written by his daughter and an autobiography of Dick Van Dyke. I’m currently reading Jerry Lewis’ autobiography and since I like trying new things, I Dare Me by Lu Ann Cahn about her year of trying one new thing a day.
And yes, I usually have two books going at the same time. I have a different set of books on my Kindle than I do on my Kindle App on my phone. When I get stuck waiting, I can pull out my phone and when I’m curled up on my couch, I use the Kindle.

Have you got a favourite style icon, past or present?

Not really, when I was growing up though, I was fascinated by Twiggy’s look. And when I was in High School, the whole Annie Hall look. I wore a man’s suit jacket into school a couple of times.

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses of the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s… what decade of fashion are you drawn towards? Which popular styles of any decade didn’t/don’t float your boat?

I guess I’m more drawn to the late 60’s/early 70’s flower child look. Jeans, flowing shirts and sandals. I hated the satin anything of the 70’s and the fakeness of the neon 80’s. I was more comfortable with the grunge of the 90’s.

Jennifer, circa 1980, in cords, jacket & platform boots! 

My favourite colour is green although glancing at my wardrobe most of my clothes are shades of blue! What is your favourite colour?

My favorite color is yellow. But it looks terrible on me. I stop in my tracks when I see someone with a yellow shirt or jacket. I did paint my living room a sunset yellow to make up for not being able to wear it.

I have a passion for music – I listen to most styles – what genre floats your boat?

All music except country. I love rock, soul, blues and New Orleans style jazz that’s a little heavy on the clarinet. I also love the old electronic music of the 70’s. Rick Wakeman’s Six Wives of Henry the VIII and Bo Hansson’s Lord of the Rings. Isao Tomita’s Snowflakes are Dancing album blew my mind. It’s this electronic music that I listen to when I’m writing.

Describe your perfect day.

Is this real or fantasy?
Real, up by 5:30am and writing for a couple of hours then going to the gym on some of the days, then writing or social media, throw in taking care of my mother throughout the day and some self-care like a mani/pedi or massage or reading or even an afternoon movie. Fantasy, that gym would be replaced by a warm beach.

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

Yoga pants, jean shorts or anything similar and Birkenstock sandals or Skechers in the summer. Jeans, fleece and LL Bean wool clogs in the winter…unless there is snow on the ground, then it’ll be Merrill ankle high hikers. (When I eventually move south to a beach town, the winter options won’t be needed.) I was in a car accident a couple of years ago that left me with severe back pain when I stand too long. I’ve found that the Birks and the Skechers are my best options for providing additional support.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

You mean besides Amazon for moleskins notebooks? I’m a fan of Zappos, get most of my shoes through them. Although it might not seem like it, shoes are important to me because I need to wear the ones that will support my back the best.

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

I need to buy a new pair of Birkenstock sandals.

Boots or Shoes?

Neither. I’m all for sandals as you may have noted. Although, before the accident I liked to hike and once this back is healed, I will hike again. Then Merrill hiking boots are added to the list.

Links you would like to share e.g. Blog/facebook/twitter/etc

Blog: http://UnfoldAndBegin.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/unfoldandbegin
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/UnfoldAndBegin/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unfoldandbegin/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unfoldandbegin/?hl=en

Thanks Jennifer for chatting to us!  I must say I adore chocolates and I would have loved to have tried the Sinfully Delicious – dark chocolate with salted caramel just sounds like heaven to me. I would love to be a chocolate taster sampling different flavours. My favourite place to eat chocolates is in bed, with a good book ( and  with my husband by my side sharing them too! :)) So, dear readers, do you like chocolates? What flavours would tickle your fancy? Do you eat chocolates in bed too?  Do share your secrets…

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Jennifer Koshak

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An Interview With Anna Rosenblum Palmer

For the next 3 posts I’m featuring interviews with 3 different bloggers that I have followed for quite a while.   This week I’m talking to the fabulous Anna Rosenblum Palmer.  What can I say about Anna?  Anna’s posts are diverse and always well written – some topics she writes about have had me rolling around the floor laughing – her conversations with her dentist about pole dancing  as well as her posts about boobs and vaginas!  Her family life, food and cats posts have me nodding my head, agreeing vigorously.  This lady is a talented writer and she doesn’t mince her words or sugarcoat them – which makes her a brilliant candidate to interview as I wasn’t quite sure how she’d answer my questions but I couldn’t wait to find out ….hi Anna!

Hi. For someone who does a whole lot of navel gazing on my blog I have a very difficult time introducing myself.

I live two lives…one in the summer when my family and I move back to Vermont and I walk on the literal and figurative paths that helped me grow into an adult. I have friends here who make things. Food and pottery, paintings and shoes. I wear eat and listen to fruits of the community that I am part of. Despite being here 10 weeks a year it has a tinge of the past to it. Even my kids say things like “for old times sake” and use words like “nostalgia” about their school playground. I am proud of it though. I am proud of the community farm that I helped fund and the restaurant that is in the space that my restaurant used to be. I pore over the program for the art festival I used to run and see that the fashion show I started has a larger and larger presence. I walk down the dirt road where the house we built stands and look at the changes while waving at neighbors who now live a country away. I drive past the school where I taught with its view of Lake Champlain and smell of cow and remember the good and the bad of the educational system in rural Vermont. Like my boys do I see all this in tones of sepia as if I am visiting an old version of myself.

For the rest of the year I live in Denver. We soak up sunshine and proudly live with one car. We answer the door when kids knock to ask my boys to play at the field across the street. We don’t answer the door as friends walk right in with our cat’s missing collar. I have never been someone to define myself in terms of my kids but in my life there I pretty much am a reflection of my relationship with them. I drink wine (or vodka) with their friend’s parents. I volunteer at their schools. I write essays about their struggles and triumphs. I wouldn’t say I live for them, but I live beside them and I can’t really introduce myself without giving my husband Steve and my sons Oliver and Leo at least half of my answer.

This exact instant I am a tea drinker and a writer and a Patriots fan. I love all of those things. I am also a fat woman and a begrudging pet owner and someone who lives every day with mental illness. I am working to love all of those things as well.

Your blog, annarosenblumpalmer.com, covers an interesting blend about the highs & lows of life, including topics such as sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder & the NFL. What was the inspiration behind starting your blog?

I started blogging 10 years ago when I was steeped in the world of non-profits. I introduced non profit efforts in our community and highlighted volunteer work and philanthropists. Pretty regularly I interrupted the normally scheduled posts to write about my cats and my kids and how much pee was in my daily life. (Lots and lots). People seemed to connect with those posts more, and by people I mean my mom and me. I found them easier to write. With non-profit profiles I had to research and edit and be respectful. None of those are my strengths.

Over time I had to admit that my writing was mainly about the life of a young mother and occasional philanthropist. I renamed the blog Shelburbia after our suburban/urban community of Shelburne and talked about the 3 year aged cheddar cheese and local apples I brought to the sidelines of soccer game. The polish I tried to put on my life then was so ridiculous and impossible to maintain. So many people related to it that I gained readers and trolls.

After I moved to Denver I needed to change the name and played with Denverb and a few other location based puns but finally landed on my name because, you know, wherever I go there I am. Or some other less first person platitude.

Apart from your blog, your writing can be found on Babble, In The Powder Room, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Making Midlife Matter…. amongst others (the list is seemingly endless). When you are not writing, what do you do in your free time?

Well I am training for my first triathalon. Bah hahahahaha. I can’t even spell triatholon. Not even my computer can spell it. In Denver everyone is training for something. At a party most of the talk is about school choice and upcoming races. My goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day. It’s good to have a goal. I love puzzles, crosswords, logic and jigsaws. My husband had a big piece of plexiglass cut so we can cover whichever puzzle is spread out over our dining room table and still eat there. Speaking of our dining room table I take a lot of time training my kids how to eat politely. They wait to start until everyone is at the table, they say please and thank you and clear plates at the end of the meal. In addition to these skills I help make sure we talk about poop or pee at least once a dinner. We have about a three year streak going. (No pun intended.) Without even discussing it we clean up our potty talk in restaurants and when we are hosting. In fact in restaurants the boys are consistently complimented on their manners and on not one but two occasions other diners have bought our family our meals because they are thrilled at the way our kids behave. Although I think this might be a sad commentary on other families rather than a compliment to ours it is some of the best natural positive reinforcement my kids have gotten. Even if they ask to claim half of the savings to spend on candy and Pokemon cards.

I am also a huge Patriots fan. Many of your readers might not be familiar with the NFL because watching  grown men in tights giving each other concussions isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. I come by it naturally though. I grew up in Boston, one of the top three sports cities in America. My father was an anathema, a visual artist who loved sports and was a virtual shut in. It was up to me to find common ground and as an only child I took that task seriously. I wrote about the Celtics in my journal and when I went away to college the only way I could keep him on the phone was to talk about the Patriot’s draft. I studied for this task as seriously as I did the archeological finds of Mesopotamia (my major…the utility of which might explain why I have so many different career identities.) After he died when I was in my twenties the damage had been done. I knew everything there was to know about the team and had many memories of my father intertwined with the Patriots. Long story short I spend 10 hours a week listening to a Patriots podcast.

Being a blogger you need to have regular interaction on social media. What social media outlet is your personal favourite? What social media tends to attract more readers to your blog? What is your least favourite & why?

Ah, social media. I have the biggest audience on Twitter (@annawritesstuff) but my followers rarely interact with me or my blog. I find it virtually useless for promotion or being social. Instead I check my feed to track traffic and follow acts of terrorism in almost real time. Which might contribute to why I find it depressing.

Facebook and my blog Facebook page are the most social of the social media. Sometime I can really get a conversation going. Plus I can see baby sloths taking a bath. On my regular Facebook feed most of my friends and I share politics so I have a slanted view of American beliefs. I never thought there would be a President Trump. Reading about his cabinet appointees kept me offline for a while. But the sloths got me back to the feed, because…baby sloths in the bath.

Pinterest is the biggest driver of my traffic. My most popular blog post has 740,000 views and almost all of them came from Pinterest. I have tried to sleuth out which huge Pinterest star must have shared the post but my meager skills don’t allow that so I just sit back and enjoy it when once a week or so I get 15,000 views in a day. The post is about lazy parenting (obviously I didn’t include how hard I worked on teaching potty talk because that took patience and dedication. The responses range from “right on sister” to “I should call the cops on you.” This is the kind of debate I want on my blog.

What do you like most about blogging?

For one thing I only think through writing or talking. My internal life is pretty meager. Alternatively we can say that my meditation practice is working and I am great at clearing my mind of thoughts. In either case the blog lets me understand what it is I feel about my own life. The best thing is when those feeling resonate with other people. I wrote a post telling people how much my marriage benefits from having sex 5-7 times a week and although the comments on that post are not numerous my email filled up with readers recounted how much this post has changed their lives. I LOVE that. My posts on mental illness always seem to ring true for lots of people. Even if 1,000 words can’t change a life long situation it can still help you feel less alone. So a small thing like a blog post can have a big impact. I wrote a post explaining suicidal thought after someone I knew killed herself. Many people reacted to the idea of suicide as selfish. I argued the other side and issued a call to action to family, friends and people in positions of power to change the way society views mental illness. By getting it out of the shadows we can all receive the support we need. I can tell you the latest health care proposal is taking us in the opposite direction.

Let’s talk food… what is your favourite meal? What food genre is your favourite when eating out?

My restaurant was farm to table so I know this cuisine well. It is my favorite but it lost some allure when I broke it into the tasks of inventory and plate costing. In Denver the food scene is incredible. My favorite restaurant is called Linger and it is in an old mortuary. I know that sounds weird but it is cool not creepy. It features international street food elevated almost to the level of fine dining.

That said my favorite meal is chicken wings and french fries. We eat them every Sunday for football. No matter how many times I order them extra crispy they are never crisp enough so we put them in the sheet pan and bake them even longer. So salty, tangy and good!

If you could visit any place in the world, money no object, where would you go & why?

My family talks about this all of the time. Every other year we take a big trip with my mother. Four years ago we went to Istanbul and two years ago we went to Italy. They were both incredible. This year we were planning the Galapagos but my claustrophobia, my son’s seasickness and the cost combined to have us cancel the trip. Instead we are headed to Hawaii which is not much of a schelp from Denver. I’d say my top three spots are Fiji for those thatched huts over the water (maybe without our boys?) Morocco because, Morocco, and Iceland for the architecture.

A lot of bloggers I know are also bookworms… are you one? What genre of book do you like reading? What book(s) are you currently reading?

I read ALL of the time. I read single books in a day and a hundred books a year. The vast majority of them are schlock but my two favorite books from last year are very very heavy. A little Life which the author, Hanya Yanagihara, describes as Ombre in that it goes from light to dark. And Mischling which is a novel about Nazi doctors experimenting on twin twelve year old girls. I can’t believe how beautiful Affinity Konar made the most horrible thing you can think of. The language is one of a kind.

Have you got a favourite style icon, past or present?

I’ll go with Marilyn Monroe because my limited fashion expertise doesn’t include women with curves. I love a wrap dress and loose curls. I don’t think I would ever mimic her heels, red lips, or affairs. Ideally I would echo the looks of a woman from a Reuben’s painting. Those sheets are so drape-y and they wear no makeup or shoes. I could hang with them.

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses of the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s… what decade of fashion are you drawn towards? Which popular styles of any decade didn’t/don’t float your boat?

I grew up in the eighties and still have a fondness for Jelly shoes and bracelets and stretchy belts. I could live without the banana hair clips and acid wash jeans. It’s funny to see my son layer neon socks. I did that just as frequently as I changed the bands on my swatch to keep them from matching. Most of the time I try to stay comfortable, but I do love cashmere sweaters and Frye boots. Usually I pair them with pants or no one can appreciate the sweater.

My favourite colour is green although glancing at my wardrobe most of my clothes are shades of blue! What is your favourite colour?

In the summer I wear a lot of turquoise. It makes my eyes seem even more blue. In the winter I wear a lot of grey. I probably have 5 grey sweaters and although they each have a different use and personality to me my husband thinks they are all the same. Despite a robust renovation to our house Steve and I share a closet and he has three quarters of it. He is MUCH more stylish than I am.

I have a passion for music – I listen to most styles – what genre floats your boat?

I love singer songwriters from Simon and Garfunkel all the way to Sarah Harmer. My range is small. Think Coffeehouse on Satellite radio.

Describe your perfect day.

I would wake up to sunshine and temperatures ranging between 72-74 degrees F. I would meditate for 30 minutes and my boys would surprise me with breakfast in bed. I would leave my family sleeping so everyone would be in a good mood later and walk to the coffee shop to meet my cousin for a few hours to share a table and write. At this point with meditation and walk and writing behind me I have checked all of my boxes and can do exactly what I want. When I get home Steve will be cooking a late brunch and he will have the Decembrists on the record player. The boys will be in the living room reading and drawing and I will work on the crossword puzzle with the dog on my lap. After eating outside we will take a family outing. A short one so I can spend time on the patio or in bed before going out to dinner. We will walk to a burger spot near our house while all playing Pokemon go. At dinner we will have our family meeting offering one another appreciations and reviewing our words of the day and contributions. We would stroll home and sit together (with dog and cat who in my perfect day would not be fighting) and watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It is completely inappropriate for my boys but is both funny and educational. We have had deep discussions about vaccines and gerrymandering, and cursory discussions about “Russian whores” all because of this half hour show. Then I would head to bed to read again. I would be asleep by 10 pm. The best part of this story is how close every day is to my perfect day. I have a lucky life.

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

Today I have on white jeans, a blue T shirt and flip flops. In the fall I will have on blue or grey jeans, a white T shirt and clogs. In the winter I will have on grey or black jeans, a white grey or black sweater and black clogs. I like to mix things up.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

For household items I love CB2. It is modern and affordable enough to allow me to change things out. As oblivious as I am to clothing I am dedicated to decor. As for clothing…I spend some time on soccer.com for my younger son. Their mystery three pack of soccer shorts in always a thrill. For my husband I like Queen City Dry goods. This is a friend of ours from Vermont (of course) that makes gorgeous mens goods. Leather jackets, shoes, messenger bags, wallets. They are all incredible.

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

I would love a really high quality oatmeal cashmere turtleneck sweater that clings to the chest area but is boxy around the belly.

Boots or Shoes? 

Are clogs shoes? Then clogs. They slip on AND offer some height. Plus it gives me practice growing a thicker skin while my friends and kids tease me.

Links you would like to share e.g. Blog/facebook/twitter/etc

http://annarosenblumpalmer.com

https://www.facebook.com/annarosenblumpalmerwritesstuff

https://pinterest.com/annawritesstuff/

https://instagram.com/annawritesstuff/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AnnaRosenblumPalmer

http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/annawritesstuff/

https://flipboard.com/@annawritesstuff

Thank you Anna for appearing on the blog today.  I don’t think that your sporting obsession is strange – I enjoy watching sport although here in the UK it is mostly football (soccer) and motorbike racing that captures my attention! What about you dear readers, are you fanatical about sport? Do share your stories, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Anna Rosenblum Palmer.

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An Interview With Personal Trainer Nicola Pybus


In 2015 I was looking on Facebook and I came across a “beach body challenge” –  simple exercises per day to tone the legs, bum & tum area – it was just what I needed and the exercises were fun.  So, I did the challenge, went on holiday, and forgot about it! In 2016 I came across another challenge, this time Legs,Bums & Tums, and I signed up for email sessions too. It wasn’t until after Christmas and New Year, that I realised I wanted to seriously tone up for 2017 and that’s when I received an email about some monthly challenges from the same lady, I signed up and never looked back. Personal trainer and fitness mentor, Nicola Pybus, has certainly inspired me to challenge myself, she has motivated me to tone up and she has made exercising seem fun.  I love her challenges … not always easy, I must say… so I set her a challenge to answer a few questions …welcome Nicola…

Hi! My name is Nicola Pybus, I am a competitive athlete and Level 3 Personal Trainer. I work exclusively with women to motivate, inspire but most of all to make their fitness journey an exciting and sustainable one.

Where did you get inspiration from to start the personal training fitness challenges?

The challenges started as a way to help my friends/family members exercise without having to pay for a Personal trainer by the hour or afford expensive gym memberships. I found that many of my female clients felt very self conscious at gym or couldn’t afford a personal trainer on a long term basis, so it inspired me to create something that ALL women could do in the comfort of their own home, could afford and that would be worthwhile.

I think your fitness challenges online provide a real alternative to traditional personal trainers and mundane workouts in the gym; however, you are also a fitness model & competitor – how do you prefer to work out – in a gym, personal trainer or at home?

I like to make my challenges fun but challenging as I know people tend to get bored with the same workouts over and over again. I think people should still be able to enjoy working out even if they aren’t in a gym setting. I train alone at gym, listening to my music and use that time to focus on my goals. I do , however, also enjoy training with someone or group of friends with the same workout ability as me, as I have found I’ll push myself harder & get a laugh in between sets.

So what do enjoy most about being a personal trainer and fitness mentor? Have you a favourite exercise?

I honestly love it all. I love helping women reclaim their power through exercise and work on developing self love. To give them motivation and strength when they can’t find it. To give them that push when they think they can’t do another rep of an exercise. To see their smiles when they get the results they want, I don’t just see my clients as just another paycheck but I develop a friendship with them and enjoy keeping up with their journeys once they are ready to go out on their own.

My favourite exercise would have to be the Barbell Deadlift. It is such a powerful exercise!

What exercises or aspects of your personal training programme seem to be the most popular with your clients?

I deal specifically with female clients and without fail, they all want to “lose weight” or “Get skinny”. I am not one of those personal trainers that promotes thigh gaps and quick fixes, so I always use this as an opportunity to shift their focus to improving their health overall in a long term aspect rather than quick fixes that only work short term.

What exercise(s) seem to yield most results? What seems to be the least popular – or gets the most groans when you suggest it? (I hate push ups personally – although I am getting better!)

That’s a very loaded question. There are lots of factors that help contribute to results, such as getting your nutrition on point while exercising. All exercises work and will yield results IF you also work on cleaning up your nutrition. The nutrition side of things is the side that women moan and groan about the most I’d say. It’s the cutting out of chocolate and yummy treats that they battle with.

Which famous lady or gent would you love to do a spot of personal training with?

Sara Sigmundsdottir, she is a badass crossfit chick who definitely could teach me a thing or two!

Have you had any funny moments or disasters that you can tell us about whilst trying to video a personal training session?

Disasters more than funny moments I’d say hahaha It would definitely always involve my daughter, you’d be in the middle of filming and she’d start crying, walking into the shot, playing with the camera equipment and we’d then have to start ALL over again or stop filming for the day and resume hours later at her next nap!

You are a Fitness competitor – what inspired you to enter competitions? what is it like competing in competitions such as the Miami Pro European Championships? Is it nerve racking?

I entered because being a competitive athlete is the ultimate challenge. It tests your discipline and willpower. It takes your body, mind and training to a whole new level. Many will attempt the journey to the stage, but many will fail, simply because it requires 100% dedication to your goals. I always need to be growing, working towards a goal and bettering myself and my training.

Competing for me was such an exciting time! Getting up on that stage is the fun and easy part, the hard work has been done and you just have to enjoy it. The nerves definitely kick in but you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. Your legs will shake, your mouth will twitch, you might forget all your poses, but in the end all you can do is just be yourself and let that shine on stage.

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

I have a slight obsession with active wear! I love bright coloured racer back tops and strappy, criss cross type sports bras. Leggings for me MUST be squat-proof! There is nothing worse than seeing someone’s thong through their tights while they squat! My gym shoes are either Nikes or Sketchers because I love their range of colours!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Nike, Forever 21, Lorna Jane

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

Gymshark sculpt leggings… everyone seems to have them so I want to see what all the fuss is about too

Boots or Shoes?

It really does depend on the weather and occasion. I LOVE boots in winter, but when summer rolls around I wear sandals to keep cool.

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

Website: www.fitandflashy.co.uk

Instagram : nicolapybus_fitness

Facebook page: fitandflashy

For pinning later

Thanks for chatting to me, Nicola … and now it’s time to tackle today’s challenge!  Ummm…how many pushups in 2 minutes? Here goes…. dear readers, do you go to the gym, have a personal trainer or do you do challenges like me from home?  Do you enjoy exercising? Do share your experiences, I would love to know…

Linda x

Pictures of Nicola have been published with kind permission of Nicola Pybus.

Pinned photo – Linda Hobden

 

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Going Teal

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA with its trademark teal ribbon worn by supporters.  My guest today, nurse and blogger Mandi, has gone that step further by dyeing her hair teal. Mandi shares with me today her reasons for making her teal blue hair change and why she wholeheartedly supports Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Welcome to the blog Mandi….

My name is Mandi and I am a mother of three wonderful kids, a pediatric nurse, writer and professional hugger. I also happen to be a survivor of rape that happened when I was seventeen.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA and the colour teal is the colour of sexual violence prevention. What made you decide to go a step further with the teal and dye your hair? (It looks great, btw)

I started the tradition of dyeing my hair teal for Sexual Assault Awareness Month last year. It is symbolic to me of the fact that sexual assault survivors, like myself, carry the impact of the assault with them everywhere that they go, much like we carry our hair with us always. Many times those who are not survivors seem to have the idea that after the initial hard times immediately following the assault have passed, that a survivor’s life goes back to normal. The truth is that sexual assault changes a person in very profound and personal ways and we are never, ever the same after. We carry the impact of the assault with us twenty-four hours per day for the rest of our lives, it changes us right down to our DNA.

Mandi at 17

The theme of the month this year is that “Prevention is possible” – promoting safe behaviour, thoughtful policies, healthy relationships. What steps do you feel somebody can take to prevent a person from being a victim of sexual assault?

This is a sticky question for me in many ways. After my assault, the questions that were asked to me by both professionals (nurses, police officers, etc) and by laypeople were directed at what I, the survivor, had done. What had I been wearing? Had I been drinking? I want to be very clear in the fact that there is nothing that a victim could have done to have made the rape or assault their fault. We live in a culture that places the burden of sexual assault on the victim and that needs to change. I think that we must continue talking about consent and rape culture in hopes of someday not having a society that seems very accepting of sexual assault in many ways. It isn’t the actions of potential victims that needs to change, it is the actions of the perpetrators that must change. This is why I made the very hard decision of coming out publicly as a survivor of rape last year when I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled ‘A Thank You Letter to My Rapist’. It was honestly one of the hardest and most vulnerable action that I’ve ever taken. After that piece went live, I was shocked by the deluge of messages and e-mails from fellow survivors who wanted to thank me for writing it and wanted to tell me their own stories(many of them telling someone about their rape for the first time). There are so very many survivors in the world, many more than people realize. If we can have public conversations about rape and about how profoundly it impacts those who survive it,I believe that it creates tiny ripples of change and possibly prevents future assaults.

Being a nurse as well as a blogger, what reaction has your hair received being dyed teal? Has it led to some meaningful discussions?

I was actually quite nervous about dying my hair teal because I was worried that it would look unprofessional. I do work in a non-traditional nursing environment as I am a public health nurse who goes into the homes of low-income families to provide support and education so the reaction may be different for me now than it would have been when I worked in a hospital. The population that I work with is very accepting of those who may not subscribe to societal norms, so they have been very accepting and, in fact, one client who was unsure of accepting my services said that she allowed me into her home because of the teal hair which signaled to her that I might be someone that wouldn’t judge her for the ways that she didn’t fit in to society. I have not talked to my clients about why I dyed my hair teal as that would take the focus off of them and onto me and that would be inappropriate. However, in my personal life I have had many conversations with complete strangers so far this month and that has made it very worth the trouble. I also had a co-worker share that she also is a sexual assault survivor and I don’t think that we would have been able to have such an intimate conversation had my hair not triggered the discussion.

Sexual Assault is a public health issue as it ultimately affects women, men children, families and communities. What short term or long term consequences do victims of sexual assault tend to experience and the knock on effect to the people around them?

Before I answer this question I want to take a moment to address that many survivors loathe the term victim and don’t like to use it. I honor that stance and most often use the term survivor. However, I also embrace the term victim for the very reasoning that it was a violent act that changed my life forever. Each survivor will have their own unique experience in the aftermath of their assault. I often think of rape as the a ripple in a pond. That ripple in the water will continue to spread outward farther then we will ever know and impact the survivor and those around them for many years to come. In the immediate aftermath of my own rape the week of my seventeenth birthday, I experienced deep depression, PTSD (I still have mild PTSD symptoms today, 21 years later) and suicidality. I attempted to take my own life multiple times and the last attempt was nearly successful. I was in so much pain that I truly wanted to die. There is no way to describe in words how dramatically the assault impacted my life. The girl that I was before the rape and the girl that I was after were two completely different people.

Donald Trump himself during his election campaign was alleged to have sexually assaulted over 15 women – although he has denied the allegations. Do you think his appointment to presidency and the allegations against him has helped or hindered the work of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaigners and supporters?

This is such a tough question. I think that it has both helped and hindered the work of changing rape culture. On one hand, I’ve seen public conversations about sexual assault on a level that I’ve never before seen in my life. On the other hand, I do think that there are some that will have heard the audio tapes of our now president bragging about sexually assaulting women and still being voted in as president and will believe that it must be okay if so many believe that a man, who in his own words bragged about grabbing women’s genitals without consent, can be our nation’s leader. It is a very confusing time to be a survivor. I had very close family members that defended Donald Trump’s words about sexual assault in social media posts that showed up in my feed. It was sickening to realize that they posted those knowing that survivors would see these posts and it would hurt them. Rape culture in many ways is so ingrained that I fear it will be hard to turn the tide and change the way that people think about sexual assault. This election and it’s aftermath has distanced me from family members and friends who I never before would have realized had such ugly beliefs about sexual assault and humanity in general. I have to believe that the ugliness that is being brought forward now is being brought to the surface so that it can be healed. We can not heal, as a nation and as a world, what we do not recognize exists. We are now seeing,in a very public way, just how deep sexual assault stigma and rape culture is. It is now our job to counter that darkness with light and awareness.

Although your hair has been dyed teal for this April campaign, will you keep the colour beyond April? Have you any other hair colour preferences?

The reason for placing the teal in my hair was not for beauty but I’ve found that I absolutely love it. It brings out the blue in my eyes! I am an introvert that doesn’t generally like to call attention to myself, so I doubt that I will keep it but haven’t yet decided. I’m the type of gal that trusts her stylist(Lisa Klein of Hair House in Pleasant Hill, Iowa) so much that I always just plop myself into her chair and tell her to do what she likes, so we shall see what the next color is!

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

Do scrubs count? Ha! Sometimes on non-work days I think about wearing my nurse scrubs simply so that I don’t have to think about what to wear! I love shirts with inspirational messages and funky, retro headbands and sunglasses but otherwise don’t have too many fashion preferences. I’m an easygoing kind of girl!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love sites that give to charities when you buy from them. Some of my favorites include Headbands of Hope, Sevenly, Toms and Krochet Kids International.

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

A bathing suit for summer that I won’t be embarrassed to wear in public. I think buying a swimsuit each year is my most challenging fashion purchase each year!

Boots or Shoes?

I pretty much live in either my nursing clogs or flip-flops. This may be the worst answer to this question that you’ve ever had! I call shoes “foot prisons” and would actually live in my bare feet if it were socially acceptable.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about your blog & Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I hope that anyone reading this who may be a survivor that is struggling will head over to RAINN to learn more and seek out help, if needed. I want to tell you that you may be suffering now, but there is hope on the other side of this pain. Never stop seeking out the help that you need. You are needed in the world. So much love to all of those in the world who are struggling through this right now.

Here is a link to the article in the Huffington Post that I referenced earlier. Don’t let the title scare you- it isn’t really a thank you letter to my rapist, it’s a thank you letter to myself for the finding the strength to survive. In the immediate days after assault it can feel as though the pain will never end. If you are in the midst of the excruciation aftermath of assault, please know that it does get so much better.

Here is my humble blog(http://thezenrn.blogspot.com/). I love to connect with others that may be survivors or are doing work for prevention and awareness of sexual assault. My readers remind me that the world can be a beautiful place, even though terrible things happen to many of us daily. I’m also very active on my facebook page and, as an introvert, love to connect with others while sitting on my own couch(https://www.facebook.com/thezenrnblog/)!

Thank you Mandi for giving us an account of your experiences and for showing how people can get behind the sexual assault awareness campaign to make a big difference.  Dear readers, have you ever done anything to highlight a campaign you believe in so deeply? Have you dyed your hair like Mandi or sky jumped for charity?  Do share your stories, I’ll love to know…..

Linda x

Photos of Mandi have been published with permission of Mandi Redhead.

The Pinterest photo was taken by Linda Hobden and is an exhibit from the Musee de l’insolite, in Sauliac-sur-Cele in France.

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An Interview With Living Streets

May is National Walking Month in the UK and there couldn’t be a better time to keep fit than to enjoy walking and doing those 10,000 steps in the Spring sunshine, with our fitbits synchronised.  In fact, the Fitbit has become so popular over the last year or so and closing those “circles” or getting the 10,000 steps fireworks  a day can become rather addictive.  And what a good addiction to have!  Living Streets is a UK charity championing everyday walking and I was lucky enough to interview Tanya Braun from the charity about walking …. welcome Tanya!

Hi! I’m Tanya Braun and I’m the media and communications manager at Living Streets which means I’m in charge of promoting walking, why it’s great and how we can help people do more of it!

Living Streets is a UK charity championing everyday walking. When was the charity founded? What are the aims of the charity?

We were first set up back in 1929 when we were known as the Pedestrians’ Association. In the early days our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossing and the introduction of speed limits. Today we face new challenges, but our work is as important as ever.We want to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and making walking the natural choice. We believe that a walking nation means progress for everyone. Our ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking.

May is National Walking Month and Living Streets are urging the public to “Try20” – encouraging people to walk 20 minutes every day throughout May & to observe the big differences small steps can make. What are the those differences?

Physical activity is important to stay healthy, and walking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get active, it’s also really easy to fit into our everyday lives – walking to the shops, skipping a stop on public transport or taking a lunchtime walk. Walking helps to prevent weight gain; chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer; and has been shown to reduce depression. Plus with more people walking their short everyday journeys, there are fewer cars on our roads which reduces congestion and harmful levels of air pollution. We first ran Try20 for National Walking Month in 2016, over 7000 people pledged to take part and we had stories back of people feeling fitter, losing weight, saving money and seeing more people – lots of big differences from small steps!

There is walking and walking! Solid quick walking obviously would increase fitness but what benefits would walking on the school run reap?

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults are active for 150 minutes per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, to stay healthy. Many people don’t realise that walking counts and so choosing to walk some – or all – of the way to school is an easy way to get these minutes adding up. It doesn’t have to be a race; to make the most of the health benefits of walking, we should be walking at a speed at which our breathing rate and heartbeat increases but we can still carry on a conversation – perfect walk to school pace.

For 2017 Living Streets have commissioned an extensive survey to find the best cities for walking judged on a range of criteria, including safety, air pollution and street clutter. Has a winner been announced yet? If not, who is in the running?

In the running are the top 10 largest UK cities by population: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, London, Liverpool and Sheffield. We’ll be announcing the winner in May so watch this space!

When I was in Rome I walked everywhere in the city centre – it is a compact city. For UK, I was quite impressed with Bath – I walked everywhere there too, mainly because the traffic jams were horrendous and it was quicker to walk to my destination than take the bus! Which cities inside & outside of the UK do you think are pretty walkable?

I always like an excuse to take a trip to our Edinburgh office because it’s so easy to get around there on foot and the views are amazing when you do. The public transport links are great and they’ve recently introduced 20mph limits in built up areas so it all feels a lot safer – hiring a car when I’m up there never has to cross my mind! Melbourne in Australia has been classed as one of the world’s most liveable cities. They’ve had a ‘Local Connectivity Plan’ since 2014 which aims to build a network of neighbourhoods with access to social, leisure and retail facilities within a 20 minute walk of people’s home. I’ve not been myself but my colleague has and she loved how easy it was to get around on foot and how accessible everything was. I was lucky enough to hear Janette Sadik-Khan speak recently, she was New York City’s transportation commissioner and oversaw some historic changes to the city’s streets to make them more people-friendly, including closing Broadway to cars in Times Square. There’s lots of great stuff going on around the world which we can learn from to help us put people before vehicles in our cities.

Although the whole of May is dedicated to walking, which key events will be held to help fundraise for future walking projects etc?

Tuesday 16th May is Happy Shoesday! On the Tuesday of Walk to School Week in May each year, primary school pupils, parents and teachers across the country raise money for our walking projects, by wearing their happy shoes and donating £1. Shiny, decorated, colourful, cartoon, gorilla feet – whatever brings that smile on their walk to school. We’re more than happy for anyone to take part and join in on social media #HappyShoesday – I’ll certainly be wearing my Happy Shoes to work! You can find out how to join the fun on our website: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/happyshoesday

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when off for your 20 minute walk?

Lots of people say they can be put off walking by the weather but I always say, it’s not about the weather; it’s about what you wear! So, if rain is forecast I make sure I’m prepared and it’ll usually be a pair of boots – a simple pair of black leather boots, normally.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

For the High Street, I love Zara – and I’m a bit of an asos-fiend. The great thing about being based in East London is that on my way to the station, I pass a range of independent shops where I can always pick up something a bit different.

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

Jimmy Choos – if/when I become a millionaire! Until then, the nicer weather is as much of an excuse as I need to pick up a few new bits when I get inspired. I’ve got a couple of friends’ weddings coming up so I’m on the look-out for some nice dresses.

Boots or Shoes?

I definitely own more boots so it’ll have to be boots.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Living Streets & National Walking Month.

www.livingstreets.org.uk/nationalwalkingmonth
Follow us on Twitter @livingstreets or join in the conversation with #Try20

Thanks Tanya for the great tips to get everybody motivated and walking, wherever you are in the world!  I do love walking around the seawall that surrounds my village although it is a walk I don’t really do often enough – my husband puts me to shame as he does the 5+ mile walk on a daily basis! Dear readers, do you love walking? Have you got any favourite walking spots? Do share your views, I’d love to know.

Linda x

All main photos are published with kind permission from Living Streets. The Fitbit pin picture was taken by myself.

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Talking About Regression Re-Birthing

This week I’m delving into the world of regression re-birthing, also known as the “recreation of the womb and birth experience”.  The object of regression re-birthing is to achieve a happy and healthy mind and body.  The subject sounded interesting to me and so I asked Nicolas Aujola, leading practioner and columnist for the Beverley Hill Times (yes, Hollywood!) what regression re-birthing entailed and its benefits…. as well as chatting about fashion, of course!  Welcome Nicolas….

Hi! I’m Nicolas Aujula – a London based Holistic Therapist, Life Coach, Intuitive and Designer with over 10 years of experience. I offer 1-2-1 sessions in person and via Skype, run workshops and have spoken in front of large audiences. My work has appeared internationally on ITV, Channel 4, Biography Channel, British newspapers and Hollywood magazines.

What inspired you to become a coach & therapist?

It all started when I was 17 years of age when I fell into a trance state that stimulated an out of body experience and flashbacks of my past-lives that literally changed my life. It was like an awakening where I instantly realised the power of the soul and the undying quality’s within us all that we carry forth beyond death. It helped me realised by own strengths and weaknesses, talents and personality traits, as well helping me resolve some of my teenage challenges of dealing with bullying, heartbreak and depression. I realised the power within me to change my past patterns to create the future I want. I left my A-level education to pursue my new found vocation and the rest is history. My main inspiration as a coach and therapist is to free clients from limitations, make them realise the power within and push them to be the best that they can. I love to see others blossom into their potential as there is so much each one us can do in our very unique ways. Empowerment is key that comes from making deep internal changes and developing personal tools for success that I’m proud to say my techniques ensure I share very short term yet intense relationship with clients that is focused on getting results. I’m privileged to have helped thousands of people from all walks of life from businessmen, politicians, celebrities to housewives learn to be more successful, self-confident, and happy, no matter what comes their way.

What attracted you to regression re-birthing? What are the main objectives of Regression Re-birthing?

Birth is a sacred and to be celebrated event. I believe happy births equal happy beings but actually how many of us have had happy births? I often found during my sessions that clients would regress back to their early womb experience where they spoke about absorbing beliefs, feelings and even traumas of their mothers and what was going on in the outside external world. I quickly understood that working through these imprints enabled great healing and freedom that re-birthing has become an important technique as part of our journey to self renewal. The ultimate goal of Regression Rebirthing is to regain true, high self-esteem in every area of your life. I feel Regression Rebirthing is an incredibly life changing process as clients relive their own births – discovering the tremendous impact being in the womb and birth had had on their own lives. Being a holistic process – it can also focus on our childhood and life experiences for healing and life change. It centres on breathing techniques and inner journeying that brings to your awareness unconscious thoughts, feelings and memories – some of which goes back to your birth – with the intention of accepting and integrating any ‘limiting emotions and thoughts’ in the cells of your body. This simple, yet powerful technique offers a natural way to manage stress and disengage behavioral patterns by putting trust in the healing power of our own breath. We can not have limitations and relaxation in the same space at the same time. Relaxation is the ultimate healer. Every breath induces relaxation. Therefore, breathing is the basic healer.

Could you describe a typical session?

Each session involves both inner journeying into the past and deep breathing process. The process rejuvenates the cells of your body and brings to awareness unconscious thoughts, memories and feelings. By accepting anything that occurs in a session and continuing with the breathing, you are able to dissolve the original ‘charge’ and integrate whatever is happening. This is what is called a deep release – a cellular cleansing of tension and stress in the body. You have the opportunity to clear limiting patterns that you’ve built up over years, for example the fear of not feeling good enough, low self-esteem, emotional pain, destructive patterns, the behaviours that you’ve built up over time. It’s like being a sponge and finally getting an opportunity to clear and release everything. You literally breathe underneath the pain, fear, trauma, and let it go. It allows you to make space for positive feelings of love, joy and happiness. Combining deep breathing with positive thoughts supports us and expands our joy and vitality to create lasting life change. Holding onto and suppressing negative, fearful thoughts creates tensions, unhappiness and disease. With the aid of visualisations and positive affirmations, given during the Regression Rebirthing, you will be able to create and attract exactly what you want in life. My philosophy stresses that “Thought is creative” that all our thoughts and beliefs create results in our life. If we change our thoughts, we change our lives because everything follows on from thought.

What are the benefits of Regression Re-birthing?

It enhaces our well-being by helping a variety of physical, emotional and psychological areas:
Traumatic Births;
Difficult Mother/Father Relationship
Asthma, IBS, Arthritis, Migraine, Insomnia, etc;
Low Confidence and Self-Esteem
Fears & Phobias
Body Image and Weight Problems
Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks etc;
Sexual Abuse and Related Patterns of Behaviour;
Psychosomatic Conditions;
Suppressed Emotions;
Limiting Relationship Patterns
Lack of Life Purpose;
Loneliness; Isolation, Social Anxiety
General Stuckness in Life

You also practice Street Regression – what does that entail?

Street Regression arose initially from the desire to challenge myself as a practitioner to see if it was possible to practise my craft on the streets amidst the noise and chaos of urban life. Despite a usual session being undertaken in a private, serene and peaceful environment, the streets of the city provided a particularly testing opportunity to prove the potential of regression therapy. Within 10-15 minutes, I have successfully been able to guide passers by through a unique insightful experience right in the middle of the street, many of whom were amazed and gob smacked by what they realised and experienced. We’ve all seen street hypnosis used for entertainment purposes but my aim is to provide a more insightful and therapeutic approach that can help people in their daily lives.
– VIDEO LINK – https://youtu.be/3Pc1EF8GBSw

You are a columnist for the Beverley Hill Times. What advice or articles were most popular?

My readers in Beverly Hills love my advice on dating, relationships and self-improvement, much of which is inspired by my knowledge of Astrology and how it can gives us perspective. It’s a real privilege to write for the Beverly Hills Times as it’s enabled me to meet many talented and inspirational people – the editor Suzanne Takowsky tells me the cast of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are the biggest fans of my column.

You are a coach & therapist. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical world or did you have other ambitions?

Growing up I had many ambitions from wanting to be a Writer, Psychologist, Historian, Astrologer, Fashion Designer and Film Director. In many way I’ve been able to incorporate many of those into my career. Whilst I’m not a conventional psychologist, I use alternative methods to empower people to deal with mind and emotion, overcome limitations and fulfil their potential. I’m written for numerous publications, practise Astrology, listen to historical accounts as people relay their past-lives, have designed dresses for clients and have created a short film exploring taboos. I firmly believe we should never limit ourselves to one chosen path in life but to be open to explore new avenues and develop personal talents as we are all multifaceted individuals.

Although you are based in the UK, are Regression Re-birthing sessions available overseas? How can a person register for sessions?

Yes,sessions are available to those abroad. Distance is not really a problem as I’m increasing using mobile technology like Skype which works just as well as face-to-face sessions. I have worked with international clients from USA, Canada, Australia, India, Spain, Brazil to UAE over the past few years. For sessions via Skype I can be emailed via my website.

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

– Travel and Adventure: I love travel, especially city breaks as they are full of history, culture and great night life. My favourite city’s are Istanbul, Rome, Madrid and Lisbon. Adrenaline pumping activities that get you all worked up and excited are always invited from jet skiing, hot air balloons to paragliding.
– Yoga and meditation: I’ve been practising daily for the past 16 years. It’s the secret to a healthy mind, body and soul. My favourite poses are triangle and cobra into downward facing dog
– Cooking: I love to get in the kitchen and cook. Great food is simple, healthy, fresh and flavoursome. I adore Mexican, Indian and Thai cuisines with a love for dark chocolate, oaty treats and anything with ginger.
– Sewing: my artistic side is expressed through taking some material, cutting out patterns and get cracking on a sewing machine. It’s thrilling yet creative. I have so much respect for those machinists who make our clothes because I understand what is involved. Over the years for friends and clients I’ve put together some great style creations. Inspired by helping clients go through breakups I created the Divorce Dress which has featured in Daily Mail, Glamour and Huffington Post.
– Books: I love to immerse in books. Only the hard stuff that I can hold as I can’t do kindle or digital. Anything from spirituality, self-improvement, biographys to esoteric subjects take my fancy.

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

A pair of skinny jeans/trousers paired with a brightly coloured fitted top or shirt – I love vibrant colours such as orange, yellow, pinks and greens. I’m a firm believer in how colour can influence our mood and energy that we should pay more attention in how we use colour, it can only influence our daily lives. Am currently loving my one shouldered pair of dungarees. Shoes must be metallic – my current favourites are my Supra high tops which I have in gold, silver and rose gold. Finish the look complimented by a pair of Tom Ford aviators.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love high street staple Zara for their stylish interpretations of catwalk trends. For online shopping ASOS.com and Zalando.com are firm favourites that offer great choices. It has to be Supra for my high top shoes. For designer fashion, I adore Aspinal for bags, Tom Ford and Prada for sunglasses and Versace for their bold pieces.

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

I know when I’ll see it as long as it’s form fitting, bright, funky or metallic. Currently on the hunt for a great tote manbag – any suggestions anyone?

Boots or Shoes?

Pointed boots with metal caps are definitely a sexy style statement. Be sure to add a layer of gel sole cushions so you can strut and paint the town yellow at all hours.

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

Website – www.inspired-artisan.comwww.knowyourpastlife.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/nicolasaujula
Twitter – www.twitter.com/nicolasaujula

Thanks Nicolas for the insight into a fascinating subject and I love your flair for fashion too!  I’m quite interested in your love for metallic shoes … I have some silver gladiator heeled sandals and I have seen some bronze/rose gold sandals recently that I quite fancy this summer.  So, dear readers, what do you think about wearing metallic coloured footwear? Do share your thoughts…

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Nicolas Aujula.

 

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An Interview With Rosemary Conley CBE

I’m really quite excited to welcome onto my blog tonight a lady who in the late 1980s made a big impression on me as a young twenty year old; in fact she still impresses me today.  I was then and still am attracted by her boundless energy, by her “can do” attitude, by her very smiley demeanour, by her lithe and petite figure.  Even today, at 8pm she tweets her daily challenge …sometimes easy, sometimes hard, always fun.  That lady is the gorgeous Rosemary Conley CBE…. who has had over 40 years experience of helping people lose weight and keep fit…. and I was so pleased that she agreed to chat with me about her online weight loss club, her life and  of course, we talked about fashion and shoes too…. hi Rosemary…..

Hi, I am Rosemary Conley CBE and I am a diet and fitness expert living in Leicestershire, England. I have been in the business of helping people to lose weight and become fitter for 45 years, and I have written 37 books and presented 30 fitness DVDs of which their combined sales total almost 10 million.

What inspired you to launch the Rosemary Conley online Weight-Loss Club?

Rosemary Conley Online is a digital weight-loss club which launched some 15 years ago. It has been an exciting enterprise as we have been part of the online revolution as it has grown and developed. We have a new and exciting website which enables our members to enjoy over 2000 videos of how-to-cook recipes, exercises, motivation, a food & fitness diary and advice from nationally recognised top experts as well as real-life coaches. We also offer a personal One-2-One coaching service.

Your weight-loss club offers, as well as real life coaching, a variety of eating plans. Why do you offer a range of 6 different plans? Which “plan” seems to be the most popular amongst your members?

Selecting the best eating plan to help you lose weight is very much down to the individual. We offer plans from my new 3-2-1 Diet which is based on ‘light’ and ‘normal’ days of eating along the lines of the 5:2 diet but more generous, or there are my ‘classic’ diets from which to choose which are calorie based for those who want more structure, and then we have our new Complete Lifestyle Change Plan which is a 12 week programme of information and inspiration to help member to make permanent changes to their lives. No one diet is more popular than another. It is all down to personal preference.

What diet plan do you personally stick to?

I stick to a low fat, low Gi, eating pattern without any calorie counting or dieting. I avoid high-fat treats such as crisps, chocolate, biscuits and cake because, whilst I love them, I know they will make me gain weight. It all comes down to the fact that I like being slim more than I want the treats! I spent too many years being overweight and hating myself for being so to run the risk of going back there. I used to weigh 2½st more than I do now. I like being a size 8 (UK) and I weigh 8 stone (112lb/51kg) which is ideal for my 5’2” height. I stay physically fit by still teaching a couple of aerobics classes each week, walking the dogs at weekends, going to a special gym with a physiotherapist for an hour a week and ice skating when I can – probably every two or three weeks.

I believe that keeping healthy not only relies on food intake, but also moving about/exercising. I try to do yoga and Pilates; and I do enjoy the odd aerobic session too. I monitor my steps on a Fitbit ….What forms of exercise do you personally enjoy? What forms of exercise seems to appeal to your weight loss club members?

I think it is important for us to find a form of exercise we enjoy so that we keep doing it. I hate swimming or running but I love exercising to music and walking in the countryside but I am limited by my arthritic feet which has come upon me in the last year. I am 70 now and it seems as though my body has suddenly realised my age! That’s why I go to the physio gym as my physiotherapist is aware of my limitations but still pushes me hard so I stay fit in the rest of my body. I want to live a long and healthy life – even if my feet hurt! Rosemary Conley Online members are offered all kinds of exercise on our site from Pilates to Salsa, chair workouts and aerobics or toning. There really is something for everyone, even new mums.

Although you live in the UK, is your online weight loss club available to access overseas?

Our online club is available to anyone across the world except for the USA or Canada. We have lots of overseas members and I love the fact that with an online weight-loss club you can access it anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

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

I think my 3-2-1 Diet is probably my last diet book but I am beginning to work on my autobiography. In 2018 my Hip & Thigh Diet will be 30 years old. I think it would be great to have my life-story published in that year.

The Rosemary Conley Online Weight Loss Club is one of the UK’s leading online weight loss clubs.How can people sign up to be a member? Are there any restrictions? What are the main benefits to joining your club?

Anyone can join Rosemary Conley Online providing they have weight to lose, are over 18 and are not pregnant. Everyone is asked to complete a health questionnaire which is personally checked. Once signed up, all a member needs is internet access. It really is very simple. With basic computer skills anyone can navigate our site. We have monthly, quarterly and annual memberships available as well as a premium One-2-One personal coaching service which members can opt-in and opt-out of. Our results are amazing and my favourite part of my job is meeting members who are invited to our photoshoots. To see these amazing successful slimmers looking toned and gorgeous is just heart-warming. It’s why I, and the rest of our Rosemary Conley team, love our job.

You have over 2500 healthy recipes online – have you got any particular favourites?

We continue to add to our online recipes and one of our team is a supreme cook who has a real talent for creating recipes so there’s always something new appearing on the site. I can’t say I have a particular favourite. I love them all.

There are general concerns about the growing global obesity epidemic. What do you feel are the reasons behind this epidemic?

I think the main reason for the obesity epidemic is lifestyle change. The advent of the internet, internet shopping and mobile phones all mean that we can run our lives without moving around as much as we used to. I really don’t know where it will end unless people take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. We have to eat less and move more!

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

I have a lovely life because I enjoy my work and I enjoy writing. I love spending time with my family as well as ice skating and walking our dogs around our beautiful garden.

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

I love clothes – a lot! – and I have spent the last 50 years wearing stilettos and am now having to come to terms with the fact that I can only wear flat and kitten heel styles due to my arthritic feet! I am a pear shape which means I have a decent waist so I like to wear fitted styles and ice skating is fantastic for shaping up your butt so I am happy wearing jeans and trousers too.

Do you have any favourite shops/online sites?

I buy most of my clothes from the Madeleine catalogue, as they fit me so well and the quality of the fabrics and workmanship is second to none. They seem to be ahead of the game as far as fashion and style is concerned and I just love their clothes as well as their shoes which are fabulous and great quality. I enjoy having them delivered to home so that I can try the clothes at home in my own time and with my own accessories. If I don’t like something, I just send it back free of charge. It really works for me.

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

I love the Spring as my colouring is Spring/Summer so I will be ordering some lovely bright shades of dresses and tops for this year.

Boots or Shoes?

I wear boots more now than I ever used to and they are always flat. I started wearing flat ones five years ago when I was on ITV’s Dancing on Ice. As a high-heel devotee for so many decades I needed to train my heels to be happy nearer the ground as when you skate that’s essential! I have grown to really like wearing stylish military-looking knee-high boots which seem to work well with fitted leggings and a long jacket/coat.

Links you wish to share:

Go to www.rosemaryconley.com to find out more about Rosemary Conley Online. I am personally on Twitter at @rosemaryconley and I do a daily fitness challenge at 8pm (UK time) each evening. You can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RosemaryConleyOnline.

It has been a real honour to have you on the blog, Rosemary – thank you so much for taking part. I do love that you like bright shades for tops – for me, bright shades make me feel happy! Dear readers, do you have certain shades that you feel happy?  Do shades of yellow make you smile? Does red make you feel daring?  Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Rosemary Conley CBE

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Slim Mind

Keeping healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is not an easy feat, but it is not impossible to do  –  I believe you really just need to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise your attempts to exercise and/or eat the right foods will just fritter away.  I was really pleased to come across a book called “Slim Mind” which helped to reinforce my “mind over matter” belief as its aims are to develop the reader’s long term skills & motivation to think, act and stay slim; therefore liberating you from weighing scales, low fat foods and yo yo dieting.  The author, health psychologist Dr Catherine Sykes, has spent a long time researching health behaviour change and I was lucky enough to interview Catherine about her work and her book.  Hi Catherine…

Hi! I’m Dr Catherine Sykes, a psychologist who develops mindsets that promote life-long success, health and happiness. I do this through therapy, coaching and consultancy. I’m a working mother of 2 children.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Slim Mind”. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I’ve worked with lots of people who want to lose weight and one thing that struck me was that people wanted quick and easy methods to lose weight and had tried so many methods in the process. These methods were always contrary to what the evidence in psychological research found was needed. Firstly, weight lost is not quick and easy and the overuse of willpower does not work, in fact it backfires, keeping people in a pattern of yo-yo dieting pattern and self blame. I wanted to bring the psychological evidence to a wider audience and to simplify the techniques as much as possible so that people could try them in a self-help format.

The book is a series of psychological techniques, including cognitive behaviour therapy, to help you understand your eating behaviours, helps you to develop long term skills and motivation to think, act and stay slim. Written from your own private practice experiences and scientific world discoveries – what is the main objectives of the book?

The main objective is to inform people that weight loss is not quick and easy. It takes a long-term sustained approach. This book aims to empower people to take control of their weight loss journey without self-blame and with realistic expectations of what is needed to lose weight.

One bit of advice I gained from the book is “Eat when you are hungry, not when you have a craving”. If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

Restricting certain foods with willpower does not work. Evidence suggests that if we suppress thoughts about certain things then we are more likely to think about it. So if you tell yourself not to think about the chocolate cake in the fridge, you are actually increasing the likelihood that you will think about it and eventually reach for it.

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

Yes, it can be purchased on Amazon.com

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

Slim Mind is the first book in the Zenitude Coaching series which aims to bring easy to follow solutions to promote life long success, happiness and health. Other books to come:
The Juggling Act. Returning to Work Following Maternity Leave.
Zestful Ageing.
Confidence at Work
Positive to Return to Work Following and Illness

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

I love reading lots of genres including mystery and espionage, history and bibliography, suspense, travel. I can always read an Ian McEwan book.

You are a health psychologist. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical world or did you have other ambitions?

I had other ambitions. I’ve always been increased in jobs that relate to promoting a better society. When I was young, my mum’s friend was studying sociology. I picked up one of her books and could not put it down. Although, I did not know exactly what it was but back then, I wanted to be a sociologist.

You are particularly concerned about the global growing obesity epidemic. What do you feel are the reasons behind this epidemic?

Availability of unhealthy foods.
Sedentary lifestyles.
Emotional eating and inability to understand and name one’s emotions.

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

Cooking and eating with friends, reading, country walks.

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

For work, I tend to go for comfortable elegant clothes. At the weekends, I can be found in Sweaty Betty gear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do love clothes from Joseph. I love the fabrics and style. I also like Reiss.

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

I’m looking for an elegant winter dress.

Boots or Shoes?

Both – depends what I’m wearing. Currently I seem to be wearing my Russell and Bromley black suede ankle boots with everything.

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.

twitter – drcsykes1
Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/drslimmind (on mobile device)
https://facebook.com/drslimmind (on pc)

Lovely to talk to you Catherine and I personally found your book very inspirational.  Funnily enough, I studied sociology at school and at college – I loved the subject as well!  Well, dear readers, do you have a slim mind?  How do you get into a healthy mindset?  Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know,

Linda x

All photographs have been  published with kind permission of Dr Catherine Sykes.

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