Too busy? Really?

In yesterday’s Sunday Times Style Magazine, India Knight (one of my favourite writers) tackled a subject that really resonated with me-the subject was busyness and her column was spot on. She has inspired me to write about this from a coaching perspective.

I have talked about competitive busy syndrome for years-I noticed it first when my children were at primary school and the school gate was awash with working mothers (and some not working mothers) who rushed from home to school, to work, to the shops to pilates and back again relentlessly for years and years.  Often late-sometimes with honey in their hair but annoyingly always banging on about how busy they were-how there were never enough hours in the day and how much they always HAD to do. It was as if the world would stop turning if their lives were not crammed with activity-madness!

I have always been a working mum and yes, it is busy but I never felt the need to compete. I just got on with it. A career as a journalist means you have deadlines and school run or not, my Editors would expect copy finished, filed and ready before I left the office but trust me, I never felt indispensable or busier than anyone else. And I certainly never felt the need to make an announcement about it all!

Fast forward many years and I now have a brilliant 19-year-old off to Uni and a 22 year-old living the dream as a freelance photographer and amazing skateboarder. But even though all my school gate chums have children the same age as my own-the busyness thing still rages on.  Just so you know…we all have the same amount of time available to us-24 hours in every day-60 minutes in every hour…yep we all have the same time available.

How we use it of course is up to us. A few years ago when the craziness of school runs started to subside and I became an official ‘slashie’ (multiple job person-journalist/coach/writer/lecturer/blogger) I made the decision to work smarter not harder and it has worked. I now encourage others to do the same by investing some time in coaching through our Write Your Life course.

It makes me sad and confused when I hear women my own age bemoaning the fact that they are working harder than ever and making less money than they should and have no time for anything else. However, I know there is a myriad of reasons for this perceived busyness. For some people there is no choice but they tend NOT to be the ones banging on about it. The others, I have discovered during coaching sessions, are usually using busyness as a very effective distraction technique. They are hiding behind the manic busyness that they have created. They are blocking out all sorts of emotions and situations rather than editing them out and making a new plan.

The busier we are the more important we feel, the more we can convince ourselves that we are totally bloody marvellous AND we don’t have TIME to really look at all the things in our lives that might actually NOT be working very well. Then when we do eventually stop we realise that life is passing us by, we are exhausted and we don’t really feel very happy or contented with life at all. Then, and only then, will we actually consider taking a look at our lives.

A daily writing exercise is the first step to engaging in a life audit, life edit and setting new goals to create the life you want. So this week, I encourage you to look at your diary and see how much of what you have planned is ‘real’ activity that has to happen and how much is being created to distract you from other things. Take ten minutes a day to sit and write about how you feel about different areas of your life and how you would LIKE your life to be.

See what comes up for you and then contact me for some FREE resources to help take your goal setting to the next level.



It is well documented that keeping a journal, diary or taking part in regular creative writing sessions can all help us to unravel our thoughts, give us clarity and help us to achieve short, medium and long-term goals that lead to positive changes in our lives. And yet only three per cent of us actually make time to WRITE down our goals-those of us who do write them down achieve great things and make profound and significant changes to our lives.

All of us have a ‘story’ that we tell ourselves about who we are and what our lives are like. We can convince ourselves of almost anything and we can use our story or our narrative to influence every part of our lives. By shifting or editing our inner story and changing our way of thinking we can create a new narrative and a new story. We don’t have to let our old story dictate the next chapters of our lives, instead we can create a new one that acknowledges past challenges or mistakes, actively allows us to forgive ourselves for anything that is holding us back, edits out any self-limiting beliefs and allows us to make positive change by curating new ideas, plans and goals for the future.

Something astonishing happens when we put pen to paper. It gives our goal setting permanence and tells the world that we mean business. When our goals are there in black and white they are no longer simply dreams or ideas or hopes-they are real and they WILL happen.

Writing lists and keeping journals have never been such popular tools for supporting self-improvement programmes, and there are now many different styles of personal development journals and diaries available-all designed to help us to road map the next stages of our lives while drawing on our creativity.

Our new QUICK FREE seven day kickstarter programme (email us for details)  will give you an insight into how this process can work for you and help you to authentically be the best possible version of yourself that you can be.

The major events that have happened in my life have shaped who I am today and why I decided to train as a life coach.

As a journalist on local newspapers I encountered people at their most vulnerable. Yes, of course I wanted to interview them and write about them, but on some other level I wanted to help them change their lives-I have always been able to see the potential in everyone and I have always been fascinated by people and their stories.

When my own marriage collapsed in 2000 I was left with two very young children and I was devastated. The whole experience left a lot of damage that lasted for a long time including ill health, near financial ruin and lack of confidence and self-esteem. I had no choice but to get on with it-I read my first self-help book about ten years ago and have never looked back. Writing down every day how I felt about my situation and what I wanted to change led naturally to me looking for ways to make those changes and shift my negative and scared mindset towards something that suddenly started to make sense.



The notes that I wrote I the margins of that very first self help book became my first goals and guess what-I have achieved them all!

Journalism gave me an incredible insight into people, the human condition, and how people cope with different situations and stages of their lives, but it was my own personal journey that has given me the insight to use writing as a tool for making significant and lasting change.

So whether you want to change careers, start working for yourself, gain confidence, improve your self-esteem, go back to education or simply have some time to make space in your life for YOU-I can help you get there.

As a professional writer, I have obviously used writing to earn my living for the last 30 years. However, I have also used writing as a tool to design and create the life that I have today-I know this process can work and I would never have even considered sharing this with other people had I not tried it and used it successfully myself.

This personal development process is not based on mysticism, angels, crystals or anything that falls remotely into the ‘woo woo’ category! Although-if all those things work for you then far be it from me to stop you! There is no wizadry or witchcraft, no magic spells or chanting, no naked moongazing, no spells, no potions. Write Your Life is not an easy quick fix-it requires commitment and dedication and for you to make space and time in your life to embrace it and give it the investment it deserves. Trust me it will pay dividends and within the first 7 days you will start to notice changes, shifts and developments that will work as hard as you let them to change your life and help you to realise your ambitions. This is not magic-it is rooted in science and common sense. If you are positive and have the courage to make edits to your life and define your goals as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) then you will find that the Write Your Life process will work brilliantly. But…you DO have to do the work! In the same way that simply downloading a fitness app will not actually get you any fitter unless you use it every day, the Write Your Life process will not work unless you actually WRITE every day!

If you want to take your journaling and goal setting to the next level then we also have a 30 day course that has been created to do just that. You can find out more here

And the results are in….

It’s exam results time-we had A levels last week and this week it is the GCSE students who finally get to find out how they have done and what they will do next.

There is no doubt that this is a nerve wracking time for young people and their parents and our house has been no different. Hopes and dreams depend on these exam results but even if you do get the results that you wanted, what does happen next?

Whatever stage you are at in your life, establishing a daily writing practice will help you. Even if you don’t have a clear goal in mind when you start to write, by documenting your thoughts and feelings you will soon develop ideas and start to understand that designing a new life is possible.

In the same way that daily physical exercises and good nutrition can help you lead a healthy and energised life, a daily writing and goal setting exercise can help you to create goals and ideas that will create a life filled with abundance and purpose, enabling you to make a worthwhile contribution.

Here are five reasons how daily writing exercises can really help:

  1. Writing is THE BEST WAY to edit and curate your thoughts and ideas. Write them down, collect them and then use those notes to decide what needs to be edited/deleted  or kept and collected as part of your goal setting.
  2. Writing gives you CLARITY around how you feel about each area of your life. By using pen and paper you can set an intention to make shifts wherever you need to.
  3. Writing our GOALS down helps them become real. Write down in detail what you want to achieve and why. Think about this because although you think you really want more money or time, what you REALLY want is what those things will provide for you-get excited about these things and the rest will follow.
  4. Writing dow each day what we are grateful for keeps us grounded, focussed and in a very positive mindset-all perfect conditions for attracting positive change.
  5. Writing down positive affirmations that really resonate with you will prompt you to stay on track and promote a positive vibration and energy which the universe will make sure come straight back to you!

Find out more about how you can Write Your Life 

tightrope businessman


Write YOUR Life…seven tips for journaling success

It is a FACT that only about three per cent of us ever bother to write down our goals, dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future. Those of us who do achieve great things and make sure our plans and goals become realities. Those of us who don’t stay pretty much stuck.

So if the results clearly speak for themselves why are people so resistant to writing and making writing a daily habit that becomes an important part of their regular routine?

Many of the people who have taken part in the Write Your Life programme tell me clearly during their first session that they HATED writing at school, were told they were no good at it and DREADED having to do it.


Slightly obsessed with my Best Self Journal!

However, as a journalist and lecturer I have taught many people to write who had exactly this attitude and exactly those negative writing blocks. Once they realised I was not going to judge their work and that they could write about pretty much anything they wanted to, they embraced it. In fact they enjoyed it so much and felt so good about doing it that it had a profound effect on their lives-and Write Your Life was born!

So-if you KNOW in your heart that writing is a great way to set goals, make plans and achieve great things, but you are struggling to get off the starting blocks-here are seven ways to get started. Read to the end as there is a link to email me for a journalling cheat sheet to really get the writing juices flowing!

  1. A CLEAN SHEET…Treat yourself to a beautiful new journal or notebook and set of stationery. Keep your kit just for journalling (no shopping lists!)
  2. PEACE AND QUIET…are essential so find some space where you feel calm and relaxed so you can focus on your writing and nothing else.
  3. BE INSPIRED…by your surroundings.
  4. FIND YOUR WRITING RHYTHM…Schedule a time EACH day JUST for writing-start with ten minutes and increase the time you spend each day until you are into a regular writing rhythm.
  5. OPEN YOUR MIND…Write whatever comes into your head-just let the magic happen between your mind, the pen and the paper.
  6. SET SOME GOALS…This is your time to think about what you really want to do next. Write it down!
  7. YOUR FUTURE SELF…Spend time describing what your want your future life and self to look like-add loads of details!

We have a great cheat sheet to really help you on your way-click here and we will send it to you or you can fill in this form and subscribe to ALL our great FREE resources!

Get organised and win at working from home

Working from home is not for everyone-despite my constant evangelical (bordering on brainwashing!) approach to try and get everyone to join in with how I love to work-turns out that not everyone can do it.

Most of the people who I coach come and see me because of their job/career/work situation. They want to make some changes but don’t know how or what to do. Most of them really like the idea of working from home and know someone who does it, but are usually very quick to announce it’s not for them.

Their reasons? Usually it comes down to fear (like most major life changes!) and the worry that they will be distracted, lose the plot a bit and end up glued to the TV all day and consequently end up poor, alone and eaten by Alsatians.

But it does NOT have to be that way and if you REALLY want to work from home I truly believe that everyone can do it-even if it is just a day or two a week. The key to being GOOD at working from home is that old devil called organisation! If you plan effectively, organise your working day to suit YOU and set goals that are realistic then trust me-you will soon be a work at home master.

Here are seven ways to stay super focussed and organised and to make sure you WIN at working from home:

  1. Decide how many days/hours a week you will commit to working from home and stick to the plan.
  2. Invest in the following: a decent paper diary or planner, a wall chart/calendar and make use of your digital scheduling options and then actually USE them to help you organise your week. Personally I LOVE the Best Self range of products for keeping me on track and super motivated.
  3. Plan proper breaks. In an office environment we all have the chance to nip to the loo, grab a coffee or a gossip at the water cooler. Working from home is different-and in many ways better but one of the biggest changes is lack of contact with other humans and the opportunity for regular breaks. It is so easy to sit at your desk and then realise two hours have flown by, so set a timer on your phone/watch and have regular breaks built into your day to clear your head. This will keep you organised and on track.
  4. Make sure that friends and family know what your working hours are. Flexibility is great but dashing around to keep others happy while you should be working will only mean you are left working later in the evening when everyone else has finished for the day. Be organised about your time and schedule in coffees/lunches and meet ups so that you stay on track.
  5. Keep your workspace and desk organised and as clear as you can. Trust me-this has always been one of the best ways for me to stay on track with my work flow, and if like me you are a slashie and juggling multiple roles then keeping a clear and tidy workspace is even more vital.
  6. Make lists! Make weekly and daily action lists with details like who the project is for, what the priority level is and the deadline. Allocate hours accordingly and then celebrate by ticking all your tasks off when they are complete!
  7. Organise your day to suit you-I start work very early in the morning-sometimes at 5.30am and then I can finish early. This is helpful if you are working across time zones, and even if you are not then starting early means you will be working at your most productive even before the rest of the world has started to emerge!

To sign up for our regular tips and advice and to enrol on our new online course please email

How to make space to work from home

WE have all heard tales of people who work from home, and personally I have also lost count of the number of cards, memes, text messages and comments that I continue to receive that suggest I spend all day in PJs watching TV!

NOT TRUE! (but don’t stop sending me stuff-I LOVE it)

People who work from home (whether all the time or some of the time like my lovely friend Shaz who has adopted the perfect work/life balance) work harder! And generally this is because we tend to be happier more balanced people who have made a conscious lifestyle choice to adopt the work from home culture.

Many of us are ‘slashies’ or people who have multiple income streams like me: journalist/author/blogger/coach etc, others have one business model and some have used their genius to negotiate flexi working with their boss. However you come to end up working from home one thing remains the same for all of us-we need SPACE to do it properly.


So here are seven things to think about when you are setting up your work from home space:


  1. Can you realistically work from home right now? Is there a spare room, a garden shed, a shepherd’s hut or a log cabin that you can either squat in, move into, buy or acquire so that you can create a dedicated work from home space?
  2. If you are going to commandeer a space in your home where will that be? Is the kitchen table an option or have you got a little nook under your stairs that you can occupy (that’s how I started out-first a bedroom then the space under the stairs which is now a shower room…it was YEARS before I moved into my dream garden studio but heck…we all have to start somewhere!)
  3. If you have allocated your space, spend a day decluttering, cleaning and clearing an getting organised.
  4. Keep it real…can you seriously guarantee that you have enough space and peace and quiet to be able to work effectively? Are there going to be optimum times when the house is empty? If this is the case then keep your work equipment to a minimum and set up shop at the kitchen table to start with. Set your schedule to always coincide with the quiet times. Don’t do what I did and try and work when your house is busy…(see comment below about Gin…!)
  5. Consider  buying a hideaway office cupboard like this one from IKEA great for storage and it looks pretty stylish too-just don’t junk it up with bottles of Gin or takeaway menus…fullsizeoutput_1ab6
  6. Make a list of all the things you will need to buy-set a budget and start researching
  7. Consider signing up for our online course-Working from Home and make the first investment in your new work from home life!

To receive FREE tips and advice and to sign up for our online course please email


How to work from home…living the dream!

It is estimated that in ten years time, at least one third of us will be working from home. There is no doubt that being able to earn a living working from home with just a ten second commute to our home office is always going to be preferable to struggling through traffic, dealing with public transport delays and arriving at work stressed out and demotivated. And in any case-research continues to show that those of use who work from home are a whole lot more productive and offer much better value for money!

But how easy is it to work from home and is it for everyone?

As someone who has spent most of their career working at home at one point or another over the last 30 years,  I can say it is the very best way for me to work although I also know it does not suit everyone and many of my friends do question how I can make a (very good) living without being distracted by the TV or the fridge or the housework (crazy people!)

I know that the following are some of the reasons why it works for me:

  • I was a single parent for years and it gave me flexibility
  • I  work when I want to and set my own hours and manage my own diary
  • I have a portfolio career-I am a journalist, blogger, author, media consultant, lecturer, digital content creator and a life coach. I combine all of my skills to create a lucrative work from home income.
  • I work from a beautiful studio in my garden
  • I love my job but I also love being at home with my family
  • I have recognised the need to outsource some functions that my business needs and that are too expensive for me to do myself. I would much rather pay to employ a graphic designer than to have to struggle with InDesign for days to create something!

So, as I am a great believer is sharing my knowledge and experience, and following comments from people who want to embrace on the work from home dream but don’t really know where to start, here are seven ways to start make working from home, work for you:

  1. Decide WHY you want to work from home. What’s the REAL reason behind this decision. What’s your motivation? If you are hoping for a life wearing PJs and having coffees with friends then that’s great but you might want to think about creating a passive income stream first!
  2. Decide if you plan to telecommute for your existing boss or start working for yourself and then decide WHAT you will/can do to earn a living. What skills have you got? What’s your passion? Do people want what you can offer? How do you know?
  3. Look at your space-have you got room for an office? WHERE will you work? You WILL need a defined work space. The bed and the sofa are popular but they will not help you with focus or motivation! Using local coffee shops is fine and a popular option for many newbie homeworkers as well as being good for tackling isolation, but you will need to find a proper space in your home for this to work properly.
  4. Declutter! Seriously! Get rid of the crap and make space for the new YOU! This means emotionally and physically. A clear desk and a clear mind will give you a clear plan!
  5. Look at your schedule and make a plan for WHEN you will start to work from home. if you are going to do this then let’s darn well do it! Grab that diary and get on it!
  6. Look at your finances-does it all add up? We all have to pay the bills-be sensible. Financial induced stress needs to be avoided.
  7. Set some short, medium and long term goals for WHAT you want working from home to give you. set SMART goals, doing the SWOT test and take it from there.

Feeling inspired?

GOOD! I now offer 1-1 coaching packages for anyone who is thinking of working from home and an e book and online course will be available soon.

To sign up and receive FREE email tips and advice as well as a discount for the online Working From Home Coaching Course please email


Empowering women to make positive change

Can a pillow change lives? A Secret Pillow can.​

Founder Fritha Vincent in a bed of Secret Pillows

Founder Fritha Vincent in a bed of Secret Pillows

The Secret Pillow Project is a social business set up to train and empower women in India through making and selling Secret Pillows. Making these pillows mean women can feed, clothe, and send their children to school. Secret Pillows offer a future.

The project is the dream of social entrepreneur, Fritha Vincent, who was determined to find a way to empower disadvantaged women. She remains driven by the statistic that 80 per cent of children in institutions are there because their parents can’t afford to take care of them.

She said: “By empowering women and providing them with access to an international market to sell their products, Secret Projects believes it can be part of the solution to help keep families together.”

​The business started out as an experiment called Secret Pillow Project and through a series of successful crowdfunding  campaigns a commited, global customer base grew. With the launch of their second product, Secret Sari Dress, the business was relaunched Secret Projects.

Secret Projects Makers are paid double mimimum wage per hours they work. Through the Training for Empowerment Programme funded by the sales of the products, Makers are trained, helped to professionlise and develop, with the ultimate goal being independence.

Secret Projects sells fashion and home ware. Their trade mark is that all their products fold up into themselves and unfold women’s power as they are sold.

• Secret Pillows cost £50 + £5 shipping UK / International shipping is possible and prices depend on location
• Secret Pillows are made from 100% cotton with 100% polyester wading, they are easy to wash and dry –
perfect for everyday use
• Secret Sari Dress cost from £35 – £40 are sold in three sizes
• Secret Sari Dresses are made from vintage cotton and synthetic saris and cotton, synethic and silk blend saris• The vision of Secret Projects is a world in which all women have the confidence and resources to make choices for themselves and their children. 80% of the world’s children living in institutions are not there because they don’t have any parents. They are there because their parents cannot afford to feed, clothe
and educate them. Secret Projects exists to help reduce this statistic and empower women everywhere.
• Secret Projects is working with women in India who face social and / or economic challenges and who live in areas where there are little or no employment opportunities.
• The project provides training in how to make a Secret Pillow and teach them the POWER mantra (‘We believe in
ourselves. We support one another. We persist. We think and think again. We trust our instinct. We trust
our instinct. We work with joy. We take pride in everything we do. We pretend until we know how.’).
• The project also provides a route to market for their products and, as well as training and support, they receive at least
twice the minimum wage for the products they make.
• The ultimate goal is for the women to become financially independent and have the confidence to make
the best choices for themselves and their children.

You can find more information here

Retreat and find your calm with Sweet Yoga

A New Year’s resolution to mark the new millennium has become a way of life for Justine Farnworth.

She is now on a mission to share her love of yoga through her own health and wellbeing business and divides her time between her homes in Buckinghamshire and Portugal.

After seeking out a yoga class to help with pains in her back, neck and shoulders which were symptomatic of years of working in the corporate world as an Executive Assistant, Justine quickly became hooked on the whole, calm and centred feeling that comes from practising yoga and was soon in teacher training and on a life and career changing journey.

Justine now runs a retreat set among the pines of Portugal where she welcomes guests who take part in Vinyasa, Yoga Therapeutics and Restorative Yoga. Her life is a million miles away from the high stress and hectic corporate world that she once worked in.

Whole, calm and centred

Justine said: “From the first class I attended I remember feeling whole, calm and very centered afterwards. I know now that impression was my spirit coming home. My first teacher introduced me to the concept of transformation, before long I was in teacher training with Yogacampus in London and by 2006 I was fully qualified.

“I studied with world famous teachers like Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Judith Lasater, Scott Blossom, AG Mohan and more. More recently, my calling has shifted towards therapeutic applications of yoga and I’m currently studying Integrative Yoga Therapeutics with Bo Forbes. Personal and non-personal experience of trauma, stress, illness, suicide, anxiety, grief and depression place me well to teach this style of yoga. I also bolster my expertise with insights gained from a biomechanical osteopath because I like to look beyond the original texts of yoga to apply a real-world approach.”


Justine teaches Vinyasa, Yoga Therapeutics and Restorative Yoga. Vinyasa means mindfully flowing through sequences combining movement with breath – using the main muscle groups and connecting with deeper subtleties. Restorative means total body support with no movement – first aid for the nervous system leaving you nourished and well rested.

She added: “By exploring and pausing in postures we can view our internal dialogue and bring about a more meditative quality. That way we experience a whole mind-body practice not only growing physical strength but mental resilience too – by releasing old tensions we can oust old beliefs about ourselves. I teach both active and dynamic practices plus passive and restorative classes always tailoring it to the needs of the group or individual. My class atmosphere is one of safety and guidance primarily, then space for students to honour their personal journey becomes second nature as it did in the beginning for me. By nurturing growth and community, students can embrace the practice and make it their own.

Holistic experience

“Refining my own practice and teaching is an ongoing process. My students say I have a sensitive touch and good awareness for their needs. My goal as a yoga teacher is to help people read their physical and energetic bodies. I think yoga should be a holistic experience where you draw on life experiences and trust your intellect and intuition. For me yoga is much more than the poses. ”

With nearly 20 years mat time, Justine respects the roots of traditional yoga but integrates modern day findings for a unique experience.
She added: “My passion is to reveal the wonder of yoga through practices with good breath flow and body smart movement. With guided mind-body connection and mind-mood output, the journey back to the body wisdom is inspiring and energising. My non-dogmatic teaching style and sensitive touch gives me a good awareness for my clients needs. Delivered in English and Sanskrit with demonstrations and safe adjustments.
My practice gives me space for self-work where I can search, feel and embrace what my body is holding that my mind cannot express.
“Our retreat is set in a luxury country villa in the pines of Portugal, to give you all you need to self-restore through yoga, heavenly food and a spacious natural setting. By adjusting to a new rhythm you will unwind residual tension to invite a greater sense of vitality in your life.”

By taking yourself off on this retreat and pulling away from your busy life, you will be creating time for self-understanding through yoga. The morning practices are of vinyasa style and the afternoon are restorative, reframing and releasing. The practices are carefully choreographed to give you an intimate but fun experience. Much of what you do will raise your curiosity about what’s beyond the poses whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a newcomer to yoga. As you plug-in to your own body’s wisdom you will be less inclined to un-plug. Through that interconnection you will be shown how yoga can infuse your life and not just be limited to your mat.

Memories, emotions and longings

Justine added: “Our bodies house memories, emotions and longings so to process-through-practice is a wonderful way to find greater freedom. Through movement and stillness our two yoga sessions a day create space to embrace what shows up ~ strength or weakness, overwork or neglect, joy or sadness. The most effective laboratory for self understanding is through the body. In my opinion yoga is the perfect discipline to improve awareness – the more you practice, the more you become aware. You won’t leave empty handed. Apart from all the wonderful memories spending time with like-minded people, you will naturally gather a sustainable repertoire of techniques and tips on how to regularly release tension from your body. You will also receive a gift from me to help you with this for your onward journey through yoga.

We only use high quality mats, props, bolsters, blankets and belts and few personal additions I’ve created along the way.”
There are 6 luxury large bedrooms all ensuite, air conditioned with balconies overlooking the vineyard and surrounding woods.
Justine added: “The rooms have comfortable seating inside and out for quiet time alone or to read your book. All beds are king size except for one twin room. We do not charge single supplements because most guests prefer a room of their own but should friends/couple want to share we will give you a 10% discount each.”

The villa overlooks its own garden and positioned perfectly for sunrise or sunset on the horizon. It has a pool with sun loungers and a tennis court but just a few minutes walk away is a beautifully kept river beach where you can dip your toes in the crystal blue-flag waters, try a spot of safe and easy wild swimming, or simply watch life at a slower pace from the cafe.

An experienced masseuse can be booked to visit during your stay along witha manicure or pedicure in the comfort of your own room.

Guests can also chill out at the villa in some of the comfy social spaces or sunbathe and swim in the pool. There is also a tennis court and a multi-media room and bicycles (you must bring your own safety helmet). From the villa there are many country walks or if you prefer to wander through the well serviced village you can sit at a cafe and watch rural life go by.
Food is inspired by recipes from River Cottage, Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi all with added flair giving the meals an abundance of colour. A abundance of really fresh local produce is used and guests can stroll through the garden and help themselves to figs, apples and grapes. Homemade preserves, relishes, nut butter, sourdough and kefir milk are a speciality, along with Portuguese olive oil and pasteurized local cheeses.

Justine added: “Food is such a big part of our retreat and we enjoy serving our predominantly vegetarian/vegan menu. We also have many wheat free dishes available too. If guests have other dietary requests we will be happy to accommodate. There are two large interior kitchens; the ground floor is the main kitchen with a canopy covered outside eating area. Both lunch and dinner are served here in a homely way. We serve various homemade fruit waters but if you would like to try Portuguese wines and beers we have a selection available to purchase at local prices. On the second floor is the breakfast kitchen where you will help yourself to bircher or cook up eggs – if you like to start your day quietly you have an option to eat on your balcony or as a group at the kitchen table. At anytime during the day you can help yourself to cold/hot drinks, fruit and snacks.”
A quality yogi breakfast with bircher muesli, fresh fruit, eggs, toast and homemade jams is self-served from 8am. The morning yoga session starts at 10am with time afterwards for discussion and individual questions. Lunch is served at 1pm then guests are free to relax until the afternoon yoga.
Justine said: “The most popular afternoon activity is a massage which we organise and is an additional cost as is a manicure and pedicure in your own room. On top of all that you can also enjoy the atmosphere at the local river beach and go wild swimming. We regroup for the afternoon yoga session at 6pm and your evening meal is served at 8pm.”

Visit  Sweet Yoga this summer

If you would like to visit Sweet Yoga this summer and recharge your batteries, available dates are as follows:

16-22 June 2018, 7-13 July and 8-14 September
£649 per person / £585 per person if sharing includes:
o round trip airport-to-venue transfers from Lisbon airport
o full-board ensuite accommodation with your own room
o vegetarian-vegan breakfast, lunch and evening meals freshly prepared, locally sourced
o yoga twice a day, pace set just right for the group (newcomers to experienced)
o afternoon excursion to a beauty spot
o fruit, snacks, spring water and homemade healthy cakes
o lovely, tranquil environment with pool, sun loungers & local river beach
o Sweetyoga gift to enhance your practice
o quality yoga equipment of a high standard and clean!
Excludes flights, massages, manicure & pedicure and incidentals.

Contact Justine for more information and to book.

What are you waiting for…get your best knickers on!

A lot of my clients are women. Not all, but many are. This doesn’t mean I don’t like coaching men, because I do, it just seems that more women contact me than men. Simple!

One of the things that I find time and time again is the reluctance for the women I work with to put themselves first and value themselves highly. I ask them in the first session to promise me they will put themselves first on their list of priorities and values and many look at me as if I am mad. They roll their eyes, they look to the heavens and I know what they are thinking. (Some even laugh at me…)

I get this. I really do.

But, I am not asking anyone to be selfish, a diva, a showoff, a nasty, uncaring person and I am not asking them to ignore their responsibilities or stop loving or caring for people. I am simply asking them to look after themselves better.

For many of the women I work with, this is an alien concept and not a request that necessarily goes down well. The reality is that if we don’t practice effective and authentic self care we are not really going to be working at our optimum level and therefore have the potential to not be much use to those around us anyway.

When I explain my request in those terms, it is like watching a series of lightbulbs gradually flicker on-particularly in a group workshop when they all look at each other as if to say, ‘yeah…ok..maybe she’s not mad after all.’

Then they stop laughing and start smiling.

So the process begins to help people get over those barriers and encourage them to think highly of themselves so that they can work towards becoming the best possible version of themselves as quickly as possible. Because it doesn’t matter how much I believe they can make big changes, THEY have to believe it too.

We have all been guilty of neglecting ourselves, thinking there are other priorities that are more important and convincing ourselves that we are not special enough to have time to ourselves, or indulge in a treat every now and then. Mostly we feel like this because of our limited self belief systems. Limited because we have chosen to believe what other people have told us about ourselves and those beliefs have gradually become our reality.

Small steps can make a big difference to how we feel about ourselves and how we believe we should be treated. Simple actions such as taking some time to read a book for a few minutes a day can have a big impact.

Just being quiet and still can be a great way to gather our thoughts and be calm and in the moment. How many of us have been given lovely sets of beauty or bath products as presents and never opened them? They sit there in the bathroom gathering dust because we are saving them for a special occasion. We have clothes that we are saving, we have ideas to do things that we will get round to one day. Well now is the time! Crack open the bubble bath, read the book that has been gathering dust and put your best knickers on my friends  because life is short!


I love a beauty product as much as the next person, and I used to buy them, get given them and basically hoard them away-ridiculous behaviour!

No longer! My current favourite is this lovely stuff from Tropic Skincare. I am definitely not saving it for a special occasion and my skin has never looked better!

You can order some for yourself from the lovely Michelle French because YES you ARE worth it.



Celebrate every step

Setting goals is a big part of the creative coaching that I offer clients.

I set them for myself and encourage my clients to set them too. After all-that’s what this is all about isn’t it? Setting goals, making a plan and achieving great things

One of my major goals for this year (when I reach 50!) is to get that damn book written! In fact-I have two book ideas on the go, both of which WILL happen this year. The reason they will happen this year is actually quite simple.

Firstly-one of the books HAS to be written because it is a handbook for a course that I am already delivering and the second reason is because I have actually already written them both….confused?!

Well the reality is that I have been so fixated on writing the book, making plans, lists, mind maps and inspiration boards and creatively visualising my book signing…all leading to my ultimate goal that I have totally overlooked the very basic fact that I have already written hundreds of thousands of words over the last couple of years that would probably fill several books-let alone a meagre 2!

Let me explain….! (for my own sanity if nothing else!)

I am first and foremost a writer and a journalist. I have come to coaching in the last few years as part of my role as a university lecturer and as someone who works in challenging and hard to reach communities with vulnerable people.

I started using personal development tools to help my students, became very interested in the whole thing and then studied for  a level 7 diploma as an accredited life coach.

I have worked in the media industry for 30 years and during that time I have written a lot of stuff. My coaching programme Write Your Life revolves around writing!


I LOVE the products from they really do help me stay on track and give my productivity levels a much needed kick up the arse!


I have now realised (why it has taken so long is anyone’s guess!) that while I have been panicking and putting myself under pressure to write the damn book-I have actually been writing it anyway. The words are already there-they just need a bit of organising and sorting out. I have more than enough material to well and truly finish two books this year.

I feel slightly cheated that I haven’t taken time to stop and realise this before now! I have been so focused on the end game, that everything that has been happening in between has been largely ignored.

When I coach clients-individually or in groups-I am always keen to remind them that the goal is important but so is the journey and that we MUST celebrate every single step-no matter how small we think that step is. All those small steps make a BIG difference and if we don’t celebrate them all and acknowledge we are making progress then we will just arrive relieved and exhausted rather than energised and lifted.

So…if you are setting goals then please do carry in doing that but make sure that you know WHAT is going on WHEN with each step of the process. I am off to listen to my own advice and finish those books….coming soon to all good bookshops!

Signs of Spring

Today it is cold-not quite as cold as it is at the Winter Olympics, but nevertheless it is very cold. However, I am quite sure that Spring is already starting to show its sleepy head and brighter, warmer days are on the horizon.

I am a firm believer in hibernation and the fact that nature has definitely got the right attitude when it comes to dealing with the colder months of the year. But I am also an eternal optimist and believer in positivity as a tool for creating significant change in our lives.


Getting stuck is something that happens to all of us at one point in our lives or another, and the feeling of being seemingly unable to make any forward progress can cause us to either feel frustrated  at our apparent stagnation or sometimes disappointed in ourselves and disenchanted with the hand that life has dealt us.

When we find ourselves stuck and unable to make any positive inroads into the life that we would really like to have, it is easy to give up and settle for what we have-convincing ourselves that good things only ever happen to other people, and that we will be forever on the outside looking in at everyone else’s seemingly perfect life.

Well here is the news my friends! Everyone else does NOT have a perfect life and we can all have the life we want if we are prepared to put the work in. It is increasingly harder to keep things in perspective in this age where every single minutiae of everyone’s life is shared on social media. It is easy to have envy,  jealousy even, of the lives of sometimes complete strangers-people who we choose to measure our own lives against even though we have no connection with them. I would question why we invest so much in holding these people up as those we want to aspire to be-for the very reason that the perfect lives they appear to have are far from perfect.


In my book, having a purposeful and happy life with meaning and making a valuable contribution to your community does not equate to being the thinnest, riches, best dressed or perfect person that social media would have us believe. It means being authentic, real and honest and it means not giving up when we feel stuck but drawing on all the resilience and strength we have to get through those times by making positive plans for a brighter future that will bring us enormous rewards.

Take spring flowering bulbs as an example. We plant these dull, non descriptive and ugly brown lumps in the autumn-just as our gardens are planning their winter hibernation. And then we wait. We wait. And then we wait a bit more and then all of a sudden bright green, hopeful shoots start to emerge from the frozen brown soil like some kind of miracle. The cold weather does not deter nature from making a positive plan for the year ahead and neither should it deter you. The bulbs you see sprouting may appear to be making little progress and may even appear stuck but trust me-they have a plan and before you know it you will see the results of their plan-so now its time for you to make yours.

What are you waiting for?

Contact me today and book a no obligation coaching session with me for just £10 to see how I can help you to plan for a happy and authentic spring season and beyond.


Everyone can set a goal-and make progress

I have the best job in the world because my working day and week involves helping all sorts of very different people to clear their lives of the clutter and encourage them to set exciting and ambitious  goals.

Since qualifying as a Practitioner of Life Coaching I have seen some amazing transformations take place. People I have worked with have gone on to do the following things:

Train and seek work as a voice over artist

Change their work/life balance

Be honest about the kind of relationship they want and then go out and get one!

Return to education

Fullfil a life long ambition to paint, draw and take photographs

Apply for and get their dream job

I am also working with a group of young women who face daily challenges in their lives around addiction, domestic violence and anxiety. Many of these woman have children being cared for by other people because their lives are so chaotic. These remarkable young women all have plans for the future, they all want a better life for themselves and their families and together we are setting lots of SMART goals to help them get there.It won’t happen overnight but it WILL happen and over the last three weeks they have already started to benefit from taking part in our weekly coaching workshops.

As well as reaching personal goals, everyone I work with starts to write. I provide every client with a journal and their mission is to write in it everyday-or draw or doodle. They write how they feel about their lives, what they want to change and how they plan to do it. Only three percent of us actually bother to spend time writing our goals down. We are a very successful three per cent!

So as we reach the half way point of the first month of 2018 how are your goals looking for this year? I truly believe that if you don’t write your goals down they will simply remain as ideas, hopes and dreams-all of those things are great and a really good starting point for change but why not make this year the year you ACTION those ideas and MAKE them happen?

Grab a notebook and a pen and get writing.

For free tips and advice email me 




Are you making plans for 2018?

As we hurtle towards the end of the year it is time to take stock and reflect on how our year has been. For many of us it will have been a ‘mixed bag’ of good, bad, happy and sad events but everything that has happened to us or around us will help shape what happens to us next.

By reflecting on what we have been through and the challenges we have faced we can take great strength and comfort that we are always continuing to grow. To make changes and move forward we need to have a clear pathway but we also need to reach levels of acceptance and develop resilience so that we can face challenges head on and turn them to our advantage rather than our disadvantage.

Many of the clients I am working with at the moment face daily challenges. They are rehabilitating from drug or alcohol addiction or from a life of crime and prison sentences. They are all doing well but their lives are hard. Many are full of regret, shame and fear for what will happen to them next. It is very difficult for them to see any of their challenges as positive but they are ALL doing really well as they work through the Write Your Life programme. Despite some initial resistance to the workshops they are embracing the idea of writing daily journals and creating mind maps and visions boards to help them focus on the future and give them impetus and  motivation to keep moving forward. They are all setting goals for next year and beyond and I truly believe that with the support of the coaching they are all getting and by believing in themselves, they WILL achieve great things-we all have the capacity to make changes but we have to clear the clutter, define our goals and then believe in ourselves that we CAN do it.

My big goal for 2018 is to write the book of the Write Your Life coaching programme and create an online course to go with it. This way I can reach more people and help them to move forward with their lives by using the power and impact of writing, journaling and creativity.

So…there are my goals so far…get in touch and tell  me yours.

Email me:


Embrace the fruits of autumn and declutter your life

Autumn has definitely arrived-tomorrow is Halloween, followed swiftly by bonfire night and before we know it, Christmas will be just around the corner.

This morning, here in Oxfordshire, we had our first frost of the season. My garden is still looking gorgeous with the last remaining blooms reaching out to enjoy a cold but blue sky day-it is day when we should all be glad to be alive and be out there taking in the air and enjoying a crisp autumnal walk-once this has been posted that is just what I will be doing!



I love autumn-I see it as a season of celebration. Quite apart from the bountiful fruits and vegetables that we are still enjoying, if the weather is bright and dry then surely we should see this as a positive. This morning I caught up with a friend-we both spotted a rambling rose bush that was still in flower with an abundance of gorgeous vintage pink blooms-it looked stunning against the blue sky as the sunshine bounced off its slightly crisp petals.

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This was a visual treat and one that once the wet and cold of November kicks in will be a distant memory so I savoured it and enjoyed it in all its glory. My friend had another take on this and sighed-saying what a shame that summer was over and that soon there will be no flowers left until springtime. She saw this in a completely different way to me. While I saw the roses as a positive and uplifting seasonal punctuation to my morning, my friend saw it as a loss, a regret and something that made her feel low and lacking.

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Autumn can be seen as the season that rids us of summer rather than the season that allows us to enjoy the final days of brightness before enjoying a period of rest and recuperation ready for spring. Nature is edging into a period of dormancy and consolidation and it is time for us to do that too. Rather than see this time of year as  negative, we should take our lead from nature and conserve our energies and remove anything from our lives that will not serve us well in the future.


Self limiting beliefs can start to kick in more as the year progresses. We often feel tired, perhaps dread the cold and starkness that winter can represent and find it hard to deal with fewer daylight hours.

Instead of focusing on the perceived negatives of the season, grab your journal and write about the colours, the crispness and all that we have to be grateful for this autumn. Find joy in small pleasures-wrapping up in your favourite scarf or investing in some bright jewel-coloured knitwear, maybe treating your hands with a new luxurious hand cream or getting out and taking advantage of autumn light to take some fabulous photos. Take your coffee or hot chocolate or tea outside-wrap up warm and sit in the sunshine while you enjoy your warming beverage.

Stock up on logs for your woodburner, create delicious warming recipes and fill your home with candles, sumptuous blankets and throws and comfy cushions. Catch up on your reading and writing-and declutter!

Clearing your cupboards and drawers at this time of year is the ultimate therapy and clears the way for positive change in your life by giving you clarity and a new pathway to plan your goals for the coming months. So grab your notebook and start planning!

Set some short term goals, go through the process of decluttering and embrace all that autumn has to offer.


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Love your lists and Write Your Life!

Are you a list lover? Do you have lists of lists or maybe even books of lists of lists? Personally, I am a bit of a fiend for a list! I love bullet points, ticks, different coloured pens, the odd doodle here and there and I REALLY love a mind map!


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Just the thrill of making a list excites me-a clean sheet of paper or a beautiful new notebook and the perfect pen-what’s NOT to love! And as for the ticking off process-oh happy days! I remember a time when life was pretty tiresome for one reason or another and I was struggling just to get through the basic tasks of the day. Someone said to me “make a short list of simple tasks and try and complete one each day-you will feel much better.” Well it worked and now I use lists for all sorts of things but mostly for setting goals and personal development planning.


This week I have been working with a client who has hit a situation of list overwhelm. Although she also sees the huge benefits associated with list making and planning to set achievable goals, she has found that her lists are actually causing her stress rather than giving her clarity.


There are various reasons for this happening, one is connected with distraction, one with procrastination and another with hero syndrome. Sometimes when we are faced with challenging situations rather than grab life by the balls and deal with it, we don’t. Instead we find a million reasons to delay, distract, detract and deflect whatever it is that we really need to deal with.

This particular client has some big decisions to make around her career and job choices-she knows this because this is the very reason that she came to see me in the first place and signed up for some coaching. BUT-instead of applying herself to this she decided to make a long, complex list of things she must do-many of which actually related to things that don’t require any attention right now and one or two that are actually not her goals at all but someone else’s! As well as distracting herself from the real business of the day, my client is experiencing a bit of hero syndrome and feels responsible for sorting out things that actually are not her business.

This pathway is exhausting and will not help her to plan effectively for her goals. She is excited about making changes but has gone away this week to do a lot of decluttering and defining so that she can get back to using list making as a really useful part of the Write Your Life programme.


Are you a list maker? Would you like to know more about how you can use writing to change your life? Email me for some free tips and to sign up to my monthly newsletter.





I can feel an idea coming on…

If you are anything like me (and I suspect you might be) you probably go through phases of having many, many ideas for ‘things’ you would like to do. Now, I am not talking leisure pursuits here (although they are good things to do anyway) I am talking about career development or business ideas.

Having lots of ideas is great-it shows that you have energy, dynamism, imagination, creativity and a desire for change, all of which are excellent character traits that will serve you well on your personal development journey. But-what happens when you find yourself in overwhelm or overload mode?

Often, when life is not quite working out the way we would like it to, we become very good at distracting ourselves from whatever the difficulty is. We do this by basically ignoring it, hoping that it will go away, and while we are pushing that particular challenge away we start to focus on something else-something new and exciting that will effectively distract us from the challenge that needs to be dealt with.

This challenge quickly grows a trunk and large ears and becomes the elephant in the room of your progress. It will sit there patiently day in and day out-waiting for you to acknowledge it and deal with it.

Here’s the thing about elephants-they are pretty massive and they can’t be hidden for ever.

The way I work with clients who come to me for personal development coaching is to tackle the clutter first and to do that we have to talk about what that clutter looks like. The clutter is the elephant in the room-whether you label it as a challenge, an issue, a difficulty or a massive pile of steaming crap-it is my friends undeniably clutter that will do a great job of stopping you from moving forward.

Trying to plot a positive path through life, setting goals along the way that will help you to achieve amazing things will NOT work if you do not deal with the clutter first-and all those brilliant ideas and notions that you keep having are just doing their best to divert your attention from what REALLY needs to be dealt with.

So the message today is this-continue to have your amazing ideas and write them down in your journal-then park them. Park them for as long as it takes you to de clutter whatever areas of your life need the most attention.

Here are three areas of your life for you to look at a decide if they need decluttering:

Physical decluttering-your home/office/car/handbag/briefcase-if you are surrounded by stuff you don’t need but are just hanging on to then it will drag you down and black your progress. Take one area at a time and tackle it.

Emotional decluttering-how is your self-belief system? Do you have doubts about your ability to change your life? Write down how you feel about the changes you want to make and identify any negative thoughts-then de clutter those thoughts and move on.

Friendships/relationships/colleagues: Negative people will drag you down-I am not suggesting you actually get rid of people in your life (although some of my clients have decided to end relationships and friendships) that is up to you, but if the people around you are not supporting you then acknowledge that and find people who will.

Having ideas is great-I have lots all the time but I have learned that the only way for me to reach my goals is to always return to de clutter mode first. Once I have clarity and can see a clear pathway forward I can pursue my new idea with vigour-make a plan and reach my goal without having to deal with any elephants blocking my way.

The first step towards personal development work is to declutter-only then can you effectively define your goals and start manifesting positive changes.

Write YOUR Life-life coaching with attitude!

Write YOUR Life is a creative clearing and planning programme that helps you to set achievable and realistic goals that will give you a purposeful, fulfilled, happy and positive life.

In just four high energy and dynamic sessions, you will learn how to…

Declutter-your life, mind, soul and spirit!
Decide on new goals and define them-no point in messing about with this stuff-far better just to crack on with it!
Take positive and inspired action-this is down to YOU and YOUR new positive attitude
Receive and fine tune the changes that will happen in your life


It takes 28 days to adopt a new habit and the BIG changes that you see will be down to YOU and your willpower and commitment! My role in all of this is to kick you up the arse (I mean that with LOVE and COMPASSION obviously!)and give you all the tools and strategies you need to make significant changes.

Living the dream

So…stop moaning, stop whining, stop procrastinating and START making some BIG changes so that you can truly LIVE THE DREAM!

Oh and by the way I have a 100 percent success rate…and I ONLY work with people who I know are committed to making changes…no excuses and no pressure!

Contact me and book your place.



1. Stop focussing on what appears to be going wrong and instead find THREE POSITIVE things to be grateful for.
2. In a notebook WRITE down these three things and what they mean to you
3. Now WRITE down THREE new goals that you would like to work towards
4. Now WRITE down how the THREE POSITIVE things can help you shape your future in a positive way
5. Now WRITE down THREE things that you can do TODAY to help you MOVE THREE steps closer to one of your goals. Repeat for the other two goals.


How to Work from Home..set some goals!

I LOVE setting goals and do it all the time now but that wasn’t always the case! In fact my previous work from home life was so chaotic and badly organised it is a miracle that I actually ever got anything done at all!

In this blog post we will look at how you can avoid ALL the mistakes I made when I was a mere work at home amateur (!!) and have consistently productive days that lead you to achieving some seriously ambitious and brilliant goals. (as opposed to ending up swimming in paperwork, stressed out and in a constant blur of non-achievement!)

Here are seven ways that setting goals can really help your work from home lifestyle become a huge success:

  1. Declutter any self limiting beliefs that you have around whether or not working from home is going to work for you. If YOU don’t believe it will work then nobody else will including prospective clients. Be authentic but most of all be human!
  2. Set goals for the amount of hours/days you plan to work from home each week and put them into your calendar as Work from Home segments. Makes these working times non-negotiable and set them as short term goals that are easily achievable.
  3. Then decide what you will do during each of your work from home time segments and set specific goals. You need to look at things like admin/accounts/PR and marketing/Social media updates/scheduling blog posts/taking part in online courses/CPD, networking,  and so on as well as actually DOING the work!
  4. Set some medium term goals around getting new clients/business on board and then mind map how you will achieve that.FullSizeRender (8)
  5. Set goals around what YOU want your working life to look like from now on. If you want to take a yoga class twice a week then set that as a goal. If you want to be able to do the school run every day and spend time with a friend on Friday lunchtime then set that as a goal.
  6. If you plan to move out of the broom cupboard and into an artisan Shepherd’s Hut then make that a long term goal and start making a plan for how you will achieve it.
  7. Set some goals around income. It is perfectly OK to enjoy your job AND make money doing it so adjust your mindset and set some positive goals around how much money you would like to make in the next 12 months.

For more advice and to sign up for the How to Work From Home online course please email