Between The Lines

An extra post this week you lucky readers!

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Every Tuesday, for the next 9 weeks, the blog Katherine’s Corner is shining the light on bloggers aged 50 plus from around the world – and I’m just so excited to be included as part of her blog series “Between The Lines” featuring bloggers aged from 50 that you should be following!

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So, what do I feel about being a blogger at the age of 50?  I love it.  When I started blogging backin the summer of 2012, I was looking at concentrating on talking about just fashion and shoes ….. Then I realised that I was meeting interesting people when I was out and about, and online through networking … And pretty soon my “An Interview” series was born.  It is great chatting to people about their passions and if that fashion includes a fetish for shoes… even better! I interviewed a councillor a few years back who was in charge of the running of the Northampton Shoe Museum … after the interview he admitted to me how much he actually enjoyed talking about what lurks in his wardrobe!

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Katherine asked me and some fellow bloggers a couple of probing questions on her site … So go ahead and check out the post and discover some new blogs to read in the process too!

Between the Lines Featured Bloggers

Catch up with you all again on Friday!

Linda x

 

 

 

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Just Say It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linda, you ask some great questions!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops?

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

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

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

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An Interview With Hair Development

Talking hair this week with Hair Development, a company founded in 1962, who are not only celeb hair extension specialists but they also specialise in hair loss methods and procedures.  From making bespoke hair extensions for films & TV – including projects such as Strictly Come Dancing, Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord Of The Rings – to supplying over 45 different hair colour extensions in such vivid colours as Peacock Blue and Cerise – there is not much this company doesn’t know about hair! I caught up with Janis, daughter of Stan Levy, the founder, to learn more about the ins and outs of hair!

Hi! I’m Janis Levy MTTS, Creative Director at Hair Development

In 1962, Hair Development was founded. What was the reasoning behind setting up the company?

My father, Stan Levy MTTS , CEO of Hair Development, founded the company in 1962 after training and working as a hairdresser in Knightsbridge and Paris. He is known as the UK’s Guru of Hair Replacement and highly respected and loved in the industry.

Hair Development can create bespoke solutions for all clients suffering from hair loss, from laser re-growth therapy to state-of-the-art non-surgical procedures. What are main causes of traction alopecia? What is the most popular treatment?

Traction Alopecia can be caused by many reasons including: Pulling of the hair into buns that are too tight; Continuously curling hair tightly around rollers against the scalp. Trichotillomania , the compulsion to wind hair around the fingers and pull it out. Over bleaching and brushing too vigorously. Continuously using hair relaxer, pulling it too much can cause the hair to weaken and break.

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Another string to Hair Development’s bow is specialising in 100% human hair extensions and can offer over 45 colours to salons, stylists and the public. Latest colours include Peacock Blue, Orangeade, Cerise Pink & Purple People. Which colours were most popular this season? 

Winter brought festive shades, fiery reds through to warm chestnuts and honey blondes, warmth from hilites and hues to remind us of the taste and colours of the season, cinnamon, chestnut and clove.

Your company has made bespoke hair extensions for TV & film projects, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, 42nd Street, Spitting Image and Strictly Come Dancing. How exciting is it to see your creations on the screen? Any projects for 2016 planned?

The Hair Development research and design team work to ensure that this industry is constantly improving, finding new and innovative ways to create only the very best for our clients. We recently supplied hair that was 100 metres long for an artist’s incredible installation. 2016 will show the launch of more exciting products in our ever developing range. We look forward to a brand new product in the Spring. And we love seeing HD Hair adorning people on the stage, screen, theatre and High Street.

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Have you got any tips for readers who may wish to get extensions yet keep a healthy scalp?

The most important thing is to use a company who are ethical and trustworthy. This is a specialised industry so it is vital to place yourself in the hands of someone with knowledge, expertise and who comes highly recommended. Hair Development are proud to be the only Extensions Company in the UK recommended by the highly prestigious Trichological Society. HD’s aftercare is also second to none. Our team are always here to advise and help you.

For stylists, you offer training in all methods of hair applications. What is the most popular training course offered?

Our HD Training Academy offers courses in every method of Hair Replacement and Hair Extensions. One of the most popular courses currently is M-Fold, an incredible method that uses no heat, no glue, no chemical and no damage to the hair. Students will be awarded with a certificate after completion of training.

Have you any plans to add to your repertoire in the future, for example, new treatments, shampoo range etc?

HD is developing a new range of products as we speak! These products will be free of anything artificial, yet have a natural gender-free fragrance. Our new laser therapy is proving to be extremely popular too. It stimulates blood circulation to stimulate hair growth and strengthen each individual hair follicle.

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You are based in London – are your services/products available for international customers?

Yes, Hair Development ship worldwide daily.

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

Paige or AG jeans with Uniqlo or American Vintage Tees! I will only climb onto heels and platforms if necessary.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Love BooHoo & Amazon online. Fortnum & Mason and John Lewis on the street. I’m also backing the #supportyourlocalshops campaign.

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

Anything shiny by LV! Fresh, soft cotton, well-cut T-Shirts are always a must. I think it stems back to my modelling days, when we were always told to wear jeans and plain T’s for casting and auditions! I remember wearing my favourite baby blue T-Shirt when I auditioned for the Flake ad!

Boots or Shoes?

Adidas Superstars. Walk everywhere! But I bought orange DM’s when my daughter was buying shoes (just because …!)

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

www.hair-development.com

@hairdev

Hairdevelopment1 (Instagram)

Extensionshairdevelopment (Instagram)

www.facebook.com/instagram

Thank you Janis for telling us all about hair extensions – when applied properly they do look fantastic- and I love the variety of colours available! Dear readers, do you have hair extensions? Would you have them? Would you be daring enough to try a bright colour ? Do tell!

Linda x

Photos:  Extension photo supplied with kind permission from Hair Development.  Models pictures supplied by Pixabay.

 

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An Interview With Durga Universe

Hailing from Amsterdam, new designer brand, Durga Universe, created by Dorit Kozlovski, brings a spiritual edge to contemporary fashion. The collection is a delicious mix of eccentricity, extravagance and colour – all underpinned by the brand’s motto of “reuse, reduce & recycle”.  This is daring fashion at its very best and not one for shrinking violets!  I caught up with Dorit to discover what makes her tick and what actually lurks in her closet…..

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Hello lovely Boots Shoes and Fashion readers! I’m happy to contribute to this wonderful blog. I am Dorit, the creator and designer of Durga Universe. As the name Universe suggests – it is where everyone and everything exists. The fire Goddess Durga is my highest self / deity according to an Indian magi astrologist. (Goddess Durga symbolizes the divine forces (positive energy) known as divine feminine energy/ power that is used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. Durga slays negative traits and is the joy in the cosmic dance of life.) These powerful names give me complete freedom to create sustainable fashion, music, art, shows and involve amazing artists of all areas! My mission is not only to create, but shed the light on a love based economy, where mass-production, greed and exploitation of people and resources have no room! I promote conscious consumerism.

What inspired you to launch Durga Universe?

I’ve always loved creativity. Living in Amsterdam for 10 years, I realized that creativity was a way to distract the mind from the desires that Amsterdam offers. This was really important for myself and  my friends around me, who were all captured by an unhealthy lifestyle, yet at the same time so inspired by Amsterdam and the deep exploration of the almighty consciousness. In my darkest times, Durga was always the light at the end of the tunnel. The more I’ve been diving into the creativity, the happier I feel.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I’ve always had passion for beauty and fashion by expressing through colours and mismatching styles, mainly rebelling against the political constraints or people’s mindset. Many other reasons, for example: growing up in the Soviet Union, within the grey dullness; my father having been sentenced for 4 years in prison for secretly exporting vintage clothes to Estonia for “capitalist” activity; people wearing certain clothing in what was considered to be “appropriate” for the style of music or group setting –  got me to express myself passionately. My dear friend,  Manchester born Zoe Edge, says it well in a song we produced together “Be a lion,not a sheep”. I think that has also become the motto of Durga.

The collection is eccentric, extravagant, and brimming with a kaleidoscope of edgy colours – I do so love colour- what was the inspiration for the vibrant collection?

Durga is all about colour. To liven up the streets from being dominated by grey, black and blue shades, that seem to be absorbed by the masses. To awaken to oneself as a God/ Goddess and realise that we are all responsible for how we live our life and how we live/think/feel/perceive each day. Durga creations emphasize the uniqueness of each and every one of us, therefore, they are one of a kind designs that I try not to define as a “collection”.  A collection to me is the notion of time and season, whilst Durga is about creating timeless designs not constrained by specific year or season.

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I totally love the “Durga Psychadelic Metamorphosis Butterfly Dress” and the  “Extravagant Eccentric Vibrant Purple Faux Fur Coat”. What outfits have proved popular so far this season? Have you got a personal favourite?

Thank you very much. I can’t define the popularity of Durga designs in a particular season. When I checked the favourites that people have chosen in the Durga Universe Etsy shop, the most attention has been given to the up-cycled art coats/ jackets for men by graffiti artist Cian Muggler and my crochet blended colorful scarf dresses.

My personal favourite is the Ethnic Eccentric Faux Fur coat, it reminds me of Mongolian shamanism, Asian spirituality, accentuated with glam rock faux fur. The coat combines so many different elements, even pieces of my sons’ red vintage jeans…

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All your photo shoots feature local talent and locations that showcase the allure of Amsterdam. It certainly is a fantastic city and really epitomises your motto – daring fashion for urban gods and goddesses. Have you got any favourite locations in Amsterdam?  Where was the most oddest/most daring photoshoot spot?

Amsterdam is truly the playground for magic and creativity. The oddest shooting was in my favourite bar, the Blarney Stone. After 2 attempts of filming a bar scene for the video “Forgiveness”, after getting the whole crew together – firstly, there was a problem with camera; second time,the light.  On the third attempt, the gathering of people for our shoot disappeared and our leading man Tom could not stay.  However, we found a Welsh rugby team enjoying a stag party in the bar. I asked them all to get involved in the set: as security for holding  back the crowds passing by during the filming and of course, the stag himself playing the actor part. It was getting very dangerous as the shoot was going on a long time… some team members got a bit messy and the expensive equipment was in jeopardy! It really tested the patience of Xander productions and Visual Susana. As crazy as it was with all the mad energy in and outside of the Blarney; it surely was the most odd and funniest experience so far during the set.

Which famous lady and gent would you love to see as the “faces” of Durga Universe?

A Durga bearer can be anyone appreciating a bit of magic, daring, perhaps in the path of reconnecting with one’s true nature. I do admire free spirits, those not afraid to express themselves. It would be an honour if Roisin Murphy would wear Durga. My new project – 100% hemp coats representing Goddesses/ Gods painted by different artists should be completed by the end of Spring 2016. I would love to ask Sinead O’ Connor to wear one of the coats (perhaps the “Tree of Life”), to remind her how significant her music and poetry has been in raising awareness about paganism, showing true emotions, standing up against injustice. She was such an inspiration to me as a teenager. Perhaps I could regain her faith in herself and humanity. I could imagine Ian Brown from Stone Roses wearing the Fireface jacket painted by artist Cian Muggler.

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You have travelled far and wide and Durga’s textile inventory includes ethnic handwoven textiles handmade by local Laos artisans, luxurious Indian silks, rare faux fur and vintage fabrics. What do you look for when choosing your textiles? What place/country impresses you most with its array of textiles?

Fabrics that are inspiring, colourful and have some sort of emotional value are unique and sustainable. I mostly go with the feeling and a lot of times, I get an idea when I see a certain fabric. Some fabrics are gifts from friends or family that later evolve into ideas. For example, the Long Classic Peacock Dress is made from  sari material given to me by my mother years ago when she visited India and I just recently got an idea to make it into an open back dress with a longer back flair.

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As you are based in Amsterdam, are your clothes available to overseas customers?

Absolutely. I have an online webshop and I also sell via Etsy.com, shipping worldwide. I intend to open my own atelier shop in Amsterdam soon.

Being well travelled, where is the most unusual place you’ve visited? What’s your favourite location? What country/place is currently number one on your travel bucket list?

Travelling is truly important in my life and such a contribution to my happiness. I think I’ve always travelled whether physically, in my imagination or within my consciousness. The most fascinating has always been travelling within myself. Regarding the physical travels, the most humbling and extreme was the Amazonian jungle in Ecuador, with massive spiders, huge paralyzing ants, big beautiful slow-motion colourful butterflies, birds and the dangers of anacondas etc. Closest to my heart is the ashram of my spiritual teacher, the hugging mother AMMA India. Number one on my bucket list is a Columbian jungle trip, visiting 11 shamanic tribes.

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

I am a huge fan of spontaneous vintage shopping. Most of the outfits I wear are vintage designs found from all parts of the globe. I also shop consciously in alternative stores. For example, Alien boots from Cyberdog in Camden.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love Etsy.com, where artisans from all over the world sell unique clothing. Vintage shops and markets everywhere. I do not support global corporations and corporate brands based on a greedy economy, pollution and slavery.

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

I am grateful of everything I have and not in need of anything particular. I do admire inspiring artists and recycling, which I gladly support.

Boots or Shoes?

Depending on the environment… definitely boots in the Netherlands, very practical due to the weather conditions; sandals in any warm country and barefoot whenever I can.


Links you would like to share:

Durga Universe social media links and shops:
Twitter https://twitter.com/durgauniverse
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DurgaUniverse/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/durgauniverse/
Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/DurgaUniverse/
Webshop www.durgauniverse.com
Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/DurgaUniverse

Wow, Dorit, you are one interesting and sassy lady!  Your clothes are very vibrant and I love your use of textiles too. I must say, your bucket list number 1 trip sounds very adventurous – if you do manage to go, I’d love to hear all about it! Dear readers, are you vintage/textile fans? Are you brave enough to wear bright colours?  Are you adventurous?  Do let me know how adventurous you are ! 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Dorit at Durga Universe.  The photographers are: Xander Productions, Elena San Francisco Photography, Luca Chiapatti Photography.  The models are: Sasha Kalashnikova, Marta, Sonia Lawicka, Ramona.

 

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An Interview With Lustrous Jewellery

Reminiscent of old world glamour, pearls and pearl jewellery are currently enjoying being thrust into the limelight once again, championed by the likes of style icons such as the Duchess of Cambridge, and complimenting virtually any outfit.  Available in a vast array of shapes and colours, there’s more to pearls than meets the eye! I chat to Lin Johnson of Lustrous Jewellery to find out more….

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Hi! My name is Lin Johnson and I am the founder of Lustrous Jewellery.

What was the inspiration behind Lustrous Jewellery and your choice to concentrate on pearl jewellery?

I loved pearls from a young age – my mum wore them often. My mum gave me my first string of white pearls for my 16th birthday. I always loved and treasured it and wore it on occasions – pearls really go with everything! When I decided to set up a business and was searching for a business idea, I saw my pearl collection, and just thought dealing with pearls would be a glamorous business! Pearls have been loved for hundreds of years and will never go out of fashion/business!

Hypothetically speaking, what famous lady (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “Face” of Lustrous Jewellery?

I would love to see one day the Duchess of Cambridge wearing our jewellery, she loves fashion and pearl jewellery, and that’s what we do!

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I do like the “Fish Bone White Pearl Drop Earrings”. To date, what has
been your most popular jewellery item?

Our most popular jewellery has been ‘Three Strand White Pearls Bracelet with Heart Buckle’. Like many other pieces in our range, this item has a contemporary aspect on classic pearl jewellery – the beautiful heart buckle. It’s also a very versatile item, can be worn everyday or on special occasions and it’s even the perfect bridal jewellery!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

I, of course, love all our pieces but if I have to choose a favourite, it’s
possibly the 18ct Gold Tassel White Pearls Drop Pendant Necklace. Tassels are trending at the moment, and pearls just go so well with them, the white pearls look like they are flowing in a golden stream!

Cultured pearls are available in an array of shapes and, until recently
did I discover that they come in a variety of colours too ( I had just
assumed they were just creamy white)! What colours are available and are particular hues/shapes better for certain items of jewellery?

Yes, pearls can be dyed nowadays in all colours imaginable! It’s really nice matching the colour of pearls with your outfit. Regarding shapes, round shape pearls are always classic and can go with any design but irregular pearls have been popular too due to their natural appeal. They are most used in pendants and earrings.

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Are you introducing any new items to add to your collection into for
2016?

Yes, we bring new collections every few months. For 2016, our emphasis is still to combine fashion with pearl jewellery.

Are your exquisite pearl jewellery pieces available to purchase outside
the UK & Ireland?

Our online boutique can ship all over the world, in fact, we have some
customers based in Europe and Asia too.

Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a. different career path whilst growing up?

I think a woman’s instinct always is to like beautiful things including
jewellery, but since I chose jewellery as my career, I’ve found it can be a beautiful piece of art as well as high fashion too. It says volumes about an individual and adds depth to any outfit.

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

I liked dresses and heels but since becoming a mother, I am definitely
wearing more jeans and flats.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love ASOS and Net-A-Porter, and it’s so easy to shop on devices nowadays.

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

I’m currently trying to go back to all the nice clothes I loved wearing before children! But I’ve been buying more shoes already than I need!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots for the winter, they are cosy and look nice!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers
can find out more about Lustrous Jewellery

We have a blog on our website and http://www.lustrousjewellery.com/blog/
facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lustrousjewellery/  – we share news with our customers.  Our website is http://www.lustrousjewellery.com

Thank you for sharing with us your passion for pearls – your collection is  gorgeous and I have certainly had my eyes open to the types and colours available.  The only pearls I have owned are a pair of stud earrings so I am looking forward to expanding my pearl horizons! Dear readers, what about you?  Have you got a favourite piece of pearl jewellery?  Have you got your beady eye on some?  As always, do tell  – I’d love to know your thoughts!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Lustrous Jewellery.

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An Interview With Lifestyle Entrepreneur Cato Hoeben

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is your book available to purchase outside the UK?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linda x

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meetings In Moccasins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

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

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

Linda x

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

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She’s A Boy

Imagine being designated at birth as being a boy but raised as a girl on the advice of doctors… And discovering at the age of 25, after the results of a chromosome test, to discover that you are in fact genetically male.  My guest this week on the blog is Louise Chapman, ghostwriter of the book “She’s A Boy” – the autobiography of Joe Holliday – Joe suffered from cloacal extrophy, a severe and rare birth defect which meant that his abdominal region was catastrophically malformed and he had no penis.  I caught up with Louise recently to find out more…. Hi Louise!

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Hi, I’m Louise Chapman. I was a reporter on newspapers in Lincolnshire and Norfolk for more than a decade until 2015 when I switched to part time communications work, freelancing and my first book “She’s A Boy” was published. I’m married with a young son and teenage stepdaughter and, like so many others, constantly feel there aren’t enough hours in the day!

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“She’s A Boy” is your first ghostwriting project and it has already been named in Amazon’s top ten non fiction bestseller list. What inspired you to become a ghostwriter?

The thing I loved most about being a local news reporter was the
people I met and the stories they had to tell. It’s a massive privilege to be able to talk to and write about inspiring and amazing people, what they have achieved, what motivates them – and to be paid to do it! The problem with news is it moves so fast. You scratch the surface of a story and you’re on to the next one. I wanted the chance to dig deep into a story and find out everything about what took someone from one point in their life to another, how they had reacted along the way and the feelings they’d had. When I first thought about being a ghostwriter I don’t think I’d heard the term. I just thought there must be people out there with fantastic stories to tell who might allow me to write them.

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“She’s A Boy” is the autobiography of Joe Holliday – a lad who was born male but because he was suffering from cloacal extrophy, a severe and rare birth defect which meant that his abdominal region was catastrophically malformed – including the absence of a penis – doctors advised his mother to bring him up as a girl.  Thus Joel became Joella. When he was 8, he attracted media attention as his family fought the right to change his birth certificate from male to female. It was only after a chromosome test at 25 that Joella finally discovered the truth  that she was genetically male.  I found the book very moving, sad in places, shocking and yet hope also radiated too.  It must have been quite an emotional rollercoaster to write. What were the highlights and lowlights whilst working on the book alongside Joe and his family?

I think you just summarised Joe’s story perfectly! He lives locally to me and I had always been aware of him and his story even though I had never written about him myself. I looked him up in the phone book and asked if I could write his life story for him. At that stage he was still living as Joella and believed himself to be female. Joe had suffered with depression for years and although he had come through the worst of it he still felt little hope for the future. I found that heartbreaking and was also unconvinced having his life story thrown back into the public arena at that stage was going to be right for him. When he discovered he had male genetics and decided to live as a man it was the best moment because suddenly he seemed like a different person – hopeful and finally happy. The reaction to an extract of the book printed in the Daily Mail on the day of publication was also pretty amazing – there were more than 350 comments on the story and every one I read was so supportive of Joe.

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For decades, doctors believed that baby boys born without a penis be classified as girls; and vice versa with girls.  Did Joe at any point convince himself he was a girl or did he always have the underlying feeling he was a boy? Does Joe feel that all babies should be given the chromosome test if they are born of indiscriminate sex or at least have the “sex” part of the birth certificate postponed until a final diagnosis can be given?

I think to understand how Joe felt about himself you have to try to
imagine what it was like to be in his shoes. He had only ever known himself to be Joella – a girl. For him to think he was anything other than a girl was to him as complicated and difficult to comprehend as it would be for anyone else. He wanted to fit in, to be like everyone else, he completely convinced himself he was female but he was deeply unhappy and it is only on reflection that he can see much of that unhappiness was related to trying to be something he wasn’t. Joe is now building his own knowledge about intersex variations and working with organisations such as Intersex UK. Up to one in 1,000 babies and children do not have standard sexual characteristics. Sometimes a person can have typically male chromosomes but external sexual organs of female appearance and they may feel female. Chromosomes aren’t the only defining factor. I think most intersex campaigners want governments and doctors to recognise that sex isn’t as simple as people think. There may be male one end and female the other but there’s a lot in between and certainly babies and children should not be pushed into uninformed, non consensual surgery to ‘fix’ their bodies and make them conform to a male or female genital norm.

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Joe has had to overcome unthinkable physical and emotional challenges. How have these challenges affected his relationships and friendships?

Joe had a rough time at school and after years of being left out and bullied he was home schooled from the age of 11. Then he struggled to be able to work due, in large part, to his ongoing health struggles. As most of us make our friendships through work and school it definitely limited his social circle. However, regardless of all he has faced, he is jaw-droppingly level headed, sensible and intelligent and now he is in a much better emotional place I think the world is opening up for him.

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

I wasn’t actually a huge reader as a child but George’s Marvellous Medicine was the first book I remember reading and I went on to love all of Roald Dahl’s books.  Now, I don’t like to read or watch anything too dark. I can’t bear thrillers or anything that involves abuse or bullying of any kind. As a result for a long time I read lots of what was essentially chick lit – Louise Bagshawe was a favourite. I still admire Louise Bagshawe’s writing but I’ve tired of that genre now and am flailing to find the non-fiction genre/authors that really work for me. In recent years I have read a lot of autobiographies with a both personal and professional interest. My son is also now of an age where I am getting to read him things like Harry Potter which is great fun.

Hypothetically speaking, if you could pick to ghostwrite the life story of any historical figure, who would you pick and why?

There really isn’t one person I would desperately have wanted to write about. I really love the stories of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. All tales of triumph over adversity appeal to me. It would be fascinating to get under the skin of any extreme or controversial character. Writing the book of someone like Margaret Thatcher would, no doubt, be totally absorbing, however can you imagine what it would be like trying to produce a manuscript that pleases them? I think ghostwriting could easily be a big nightmare working with the wrong person.

What, in your opinion, are the best bits of being a ghostwriter? And, dare I say it, the downside?

Being able to discover every aspect of someone’s story, their thoughts and reactions and have the opportunity to put that into print is amazing. The challenges surround trying to capture their voice – telling the story in their words as they would and in ensuring you are aware of everything. A little detail that didn’t seem important enough to mention may later prove crucial.

When you are not writing, what hobbies do you partake in?

I have a young son, a teenage stepdaughter and a husband and the
absolute best thing in the world is being with them, preferably somewhere hot and when none of us has anything else we have to be doing. I love to read in the sun – a pile of unread books and magazines is very exciting! Having days out with my little boy where we can run around, climb trees and explore somewhere new, going to the beach and roaming new cities preferably with my husband. There’s a whole list of hobbies I would love to take up but spare time seems the most elusive of things.

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

I’m afraid practicality comes first for me. I wear trousers and jeans, flat shoes except on special nights out and am rubbish at accessorising by day. I’m always looking at other people and thinking how put together they look and promising myself I will make more effort. I’ve always been fortunate in being slim and tend to wear nicely fitting clothes which hopefully makes up for some of my fashion failings!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I’m always amazed at people who can shop for clothes online. I try
everything on and discard 80 per cent of what I thought I was going to
like, often because it doesn’t fit even if I try two different sizes. Surely that’s the same for everyone?! I used to buy a lot of things from Jane Norman because their sizing did seem spot on for me.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I’ve never been a follower of fashion and am more drawn to simple classic styles that last but I seem to always be replacing the basics and never get around to adding in the one or two seasonal items that would no doubt lift my wardrobe. I would love to get to a point where I had the ultimate capsule wardrobe – black, white and brown summer sandals for summer; black and brown boots and beautifully cut coats in a couple of colours for winter etc.

Boots or Shoes?

Both! How can you pick? I adore a towering, slim line heeled sandal despite wearing them very, very rarely and only on a night out. They give you instant elegance and confidence. In winter I never tire of my black, flat, lace up calf length bikerish boots. Boots with a heel can make you feel great but again, I have a couple of pairs at the back of the wardrobe but just can’t be bothered with daytime heels any more.

Links you would like to share so that readers of the blog can learn more about “She’s A Boy”, Joe Holliday and yourself.

You can buy She’s A Boy on Amazon in all territories including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
You can find out more about me, my writing, She’s A Boy and Joe
at: www.bylouisechapman.com I’m also on Twitter (@bylouisechapman) and Facebook : ByLouiseChapman.com

Thank you for chatting to us today. Joe is one amazing person and I hope that his story helps others to understand the physical and emotional rollercoaster of being one of those 1000 babies whose gender isn’t completely clear cut.   Any thoughts, dear readers? Do share!

Linda x

Photography by Tony Jones.  All photos published with kind permission of Louise Chapman.

 

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An Interview With Author Robert Trautman

Meet Bob – author, accomplished gymnast, competitive figure skater, licensed helicopter pilot, professional photographer, electronics engineer, parent, identical twin AND this week’s guest on my blog!  Bob’s philosophy is that “the meaning of life is to live a life with meaning” and that is truly apparent as you read his memoir-infused self-help book, “Life’s Essential Primer: Adventures, Choices, and The Success They Can Bring”.  I caught up with Bob recently to find out more as well as finding out what lurks in his closet….

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Hi! I’m Bob Trautman. Sure, the book says “Robert”, and that is my formal name, but not only is that what my mother used to call me when I’d get into trouble, it’s also so very formal, and I’m far from a formal person.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Life’s Essential Primer: Adventures, Choices And The Success They Can Bring” – a memoir-infused self-help book outlining the principles and life philosophies you have derived from  your own amusing, real life adventures. What inspired you to put pen to paper and write your self-help memoir?

Thank you very much! I’ve enjoyed writing short stories throughout much of my life, but it was really my friends and coworkers who finally provided the impetus needed to pen this book. Everybody shares their little adventures when conversing with friends, or when engaging in idle chitchat with coworkers at the office. My very best friend Michelle, who is also the editor of this book, has gone so far as to tell acquaintances, “Bob is the REAL ‘most interesting man in the world’”. This is a reference to the popular character in the Dos Equis beer ads. Ironically, I don’t like beer at all. People I knew eventually started telling me that I should write down the various stories that I’d frequently relate…so I did.

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Your book shares your life experiences – apart from being an author, you are also an accomplished gymnast, competitive figure skater, licensed helicopter pilot, professional photographer, electronics engineer and a parent – and hopes to provide children and young adults a framework to efficiently prepare their educational paths to become successful adults.  What do you feel are the main “roadblocks” stopping a person from having a successful life?

There are a number of roadblocks or detours keeping, or delaying many young people from achieving success.
a. They haven’t established practical goals. This could be because their parents haven’t exposed them to a wide variety of activities, or they’ve been over-protective, thereby not allowing them to engage their natural curiosity that would normally happen with free play.
b. They either engage in activities that adversely affect their focus, such as watching television or playing  addictive video games , or becoming addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, or they don’t engage in activities that help keep them focused on their goals.
c. They lack discipline to reach their ultimate goals. Young people today appear to want everything NOW, but they don’t want to put any effort into getting it.
If they can set practical goals, stay focused on those goals, establish a plan to achieve the goals, and have the discipline to work towards them, then they can succeed in reaching them. It won’t be NOW, but, with this technique, it’ll be MUCH sooner than any of their peers who don’t use it.

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Your book contains many valuable lessons that others can learn from, for example, your mantra that the “Meaning of Life is to live a Life with Meaning”.  What, in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you learnt from your life experiences so far?

Aside from the “setting goals, remaining focused, and having the discipline to finish” technique I’ve described above, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is this: Be kind to others, and be an optimist.

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

My book is available all around the world via online book stores.

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

I am currently working on a fiction series. They’ll be action-adventure centered around the small town in which I currently reside. The main character is a young woman whose capabilities and talents substantially reflect my own.

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

My favorite genre of books to read is action-adventure. My most favorite author is Clive Cussler (Raise the Titanic, Sahara, etc.). I enjoy all of his books. Next, would be Dan Brown’s writings (DaVinci Code, Angels & Demons, etc.). Following those, it would be murder mysteries by authors such as Margaret Truman (Murder at the Pentagon, Murder in the Smithsonian, etc.)

You have travelled widely, including spending time in Hawaii and California, among other places. Where was your favourite place to visit and why?  What place is at the top of your “Must See” travel bucket list?

Although I may have traveled more than many, I wouldn’t say that I’ve “traveled widely”. Of those places to which I have traveled, I’m particularly enamored by the Hawaiian island of Kauai – the “Garden Island”. For peoples’ bucket-lists, I highly recommend that they hike the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapiai Beach – what I call “the perfect beach”, at least once.

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Being a professional photographer, what genre of photography excites you the most?  Any photography genre you would like to try that you have little or no experience of, as yet?

My favorite genres of photography would be landscape/scenic photography, and model photography with emphasis on pinup and boudoir. These offer incredible levels of creativity, and often produce some of the most stunning images. There is no type of photography that I want to do that I haven’t already done.

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

I especially enjoy reading to relax, but for a creative outlet I love doing photography on personal projects, and tinkering with fun electronic circuits of my own design.

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

 I’m not exactly what you’d call a “fashionista”. At my studio, you’ll most often find me in jeans, a polo shirt, and sneakers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

 As my wardrobe is pretty basic, I’ll just get my clothes wherever they’re the cheapest. Also, I have never purchased clothing for myself online, so, no; I don’t have any favorite online sites for that.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

At this time, clothing and shoes are purely utilitarian to me. As such, until it becomes permanently stained, torn, or otherwise unwearable, I have no list from which to wish.

Boots or Shoes?

Except for a brief period in my early teens when I’d worn Wellington boots because their heels gave me added height that I didn’t otherwise have, the only boots I’ll wear these days are for snow in the winter. Therefore, boots or shoes? I’ll go with shoes.

Links you would like to share:

I’ve listed several links of interest related to my book, below:

Book Website: http://www.essentialprimerbook.com
Book Trailer Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_93J86AcEfc
Book Author Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auYOjEf7kYA
Book Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/EssentialFanPage

Thanks Bob for joining me on the blog today – you’ve given us much food for thought. I’m a great believer in free play – as a youngster growing up in the 1970s, it was what we did even though I was brought up in East London.  Today, living in a rural area, it gives me great delight to see my sons outdoors playing whatever the weather and they do balance their love of the outdoors with a love for computers too – as 21st century kids seem to do effortlessly!  Biking, den building and being an intrepid explorer were my favourite games (Sindy dolls went it rained!) as a young girl –  Dear readers, what activities did you enjoy as a youngster?  Did you enjoy free play? Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Bob Trautman.

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An Interview With Infruition Water

Water! If my sons complain of  headaches or feeling tired or nauseous, my answer has always been “Drink Water!”  Luckily for me, they enjoy a glass of water and 9 times out of 10, it does cure their ailments.  However, I must hold up my hands and say that I find plain water just … well …. plain boring!  My guest this week, Carmen Hubble of Infruition Water, is on a mission to convert me! Hi Carmen ….

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Hello I’m Carmen and I’m the Brand Development Manager for Infruition fruit infusing water bottles.

Infruition Water is a simple yet brilliant concept – water bottles with an inner capsule that you pack with your choice of fresh fruit & herbs. What inspired the conception of Infruition Water?

Infruition’s message is simple; we want to help people drink more water, naturally. We launched the brand with this idea in mind and immediately knew that fun and creativity was at the heart of Infruition. Everyone knows they should drink more water and Infruition makes it easy.

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There are currently three styles of water bottles – sports, classic and kids. All made of 100% BPA free plastic apart from the classic,which is made of glass. Which style is proving most popular among your customers?

The Infruition Sport is the most popular as many of our customers like to use their bottles on-the-go or at the gym! We have only recently launched Infruition Kids but are already seeing alot of pick up amongst the little ones and hope that this continues, as it is so important to get kids drinking and enjoying water.

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A normal water bottle you can just fill up – so, can you explain how you can prepare your infruition water? Any handy hints?

It really is as easy as 1-2-3: choose your combo, load the chamber, top up and go! For a stronger flavour, slice fruits or leave the bottle in the fridge to chill overnight.

There are so many fruit & herb combinations to try from strawberry & basil to the more exotic pineapple with cucumber & mint. My favourite combination is lime & mint. Have you got a favourite? What was the oddest combination you’ve come across?

Lime and Mint is actually our most popular combination; if we have events we always make sure we have this on offer. The oddest combination we have come across is famously featured in our recipe booklets:  Avocado and Kale.

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Infruition Water is a great way to get the message across about the importance of drinking water – from the new children’s bottles with their cute designs to the sports bottle that fits snuggly into bicycle holders. Just how important is it to keep hydrated?

Our brains are composed of 85% water, and studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have a significant impact on mood, energy levels and mental performance. Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that mild dehydration in study participants led to alterations in mood, headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. These findings, published in The Journal of Nutrition, were found to be more pronounced in women than in men (ladies take note!); and occurred both at rest and during exercise. Check out an infographic by nutritionist Naomi Mead on the importance of drinking water: http://www.infruition.co.uk/happy-hydration-10

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As your company is based in the UK, are overseas customers able to purchase your water bottles?

Yes – we ship worldwide. If you are having issues finding your city, town or country on our website,  just drop our customer services team a line and they can help you.

Are you planning to expand your bottle styles/range in the future?

Absolutely; we have jugs, drinks dispensers and frui-tea bottles coming up!

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Infruition Water.

www.infruition.co.uk
https://twitter.com/InfruitionWater
https://www.facebook.com/infruition/

OK …. You’ve convinced me Carmen!  I may pass on the avocado & kale combo, though! So, dear readers, what water combo would tickle your fancy? What are your water thoughts?  Do tell!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Infruition Water.

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