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  www.secretprojects.org

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 www.sweetyoga.co.uk 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.”

Restorative

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
Price
£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 sweetyoga@gmail.com for more information and to book.

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.

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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.

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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.

hello@sarahadams.me.uk

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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: hello@sarahadams.me.uk

 

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.

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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 hello@sarahadams.me.uk for some free tips and to sign up to my monthly newsletter.

 

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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.

Sign up for our newsletter and Write Your Life!

I know, I know…you already get LOADS of newsletters each week ping pinging into your inbox-I expect that most of them get deleted and never see the light of day!

That begs the question-WHY on earth I am wasting my time creating yet another newsletter that in our world of digital overload we probably don’t need?

Well-the bottom line my friends is that I am a writer as well as a life coach-that’s why and how I developed the Write Your Life programme in the first place, and surely the best way to spread the news about how writing, journaling and generally getting your creative groove on can help transform your life-is to write about it!

Far from being my side hustle-I have been writing for 30 years-it’s the life coaching that has come along as a result of it and changed my life so it’s only fair that I share all that with the world.

So-to encourage you to sign up and take advantage of some brilliant free tips and advice and secure a very good discount on my new e-course, I promise that my lovely (and it WILL be lovely) newsletter will be:

  • Short, enticing and exciting
  • Beautiful to look at
  • Offer truly fabulous life tips, advice and help for anyone who is stuck
  • Give my loyal readers and followers an exclusive discount on my e-course
  • Give anyone who signs up for the course a FREE email coaching session to help you get started.

So really-what’s NOT to love? If you really want to change your life, take control and set some inspiring goals then what are you actually waiting for?

Go to my contact page and get in touch and I will make sure you receive our weekly newsletter.

With love and positivity

S x