When you get to meet an all time legend

I haven’t written a blog in ages. I’ve wanted to, and with the disruptive world we’re currently living in on many occasions there’s been something – more desperately disheartening than intelligently inspirational – that I’ve wanted to scribble down and blurt out to the world. But does the world really need my ramblings of negativity. Most definitely not.

What I think we all need, is a reminder that the world is full of beautiful people, passionate people, inspiring people – all with a remit to push forward, achieve their goals and drive change.

And I met one of them recently.

Dame Kelly Holmes. One of the two track athletes I grew up completely, utterly and unfailingly inspired by.


I left my house that day knowing that at 10am that day I was going to have a chance to listen to one of the two people that shaped my teenage years. Enhanced my passions. Carved my determination. Inspired me to focus and deliver.

My first observation – apart from that she was wearing massive heels – was on the sheer vibrancy of the energy bouncing off her. From her smile, to how she negotiated the stage, to the way she told her stories – her energy had a ripple effect.

My second observation… was that her shoes had to be uncomfortable. And about 60 seconds into her talk she voiced that we seemed like a pretty casual crowd and asked if we’d mind if she put on her trainers. My kind of gal.

But it was the story of her journey that played with my emotions. From the first time – aged 13 – she knew at school that sports were for her, to where she is now – aged 46 – and what her future holds.

I’m not an emotional bean, but growing up with Kelly Holmes as one of my teen idols, and spending an obscene amount of time training down the track, on late eve cross-country runs with the team, competing. It brought back memories. I could resonate. I could understand some of her experiences.

So I thought I’d pass on a few insights Kelly shared. You may not find them useful, you may find them simply interesting, or they may inspire you to do something differently. Whatever the outcome, here’s me paying it forward…

• Have goals – it doesn’t matter how big or small , or how short or long a time frame, set yourself a goal or two and chase them
• Look after yourself – physically, mentally and spiritually. There’s no question on Kelly’s physical health. But mentally and spiritually, that’s something that she’s had to learn to manage over time – from dealing with depression, overcoming self-harm and believing in fate – be strong
• Believe in your team – she trained for solo events, she turned down an offer to run relay, but it was only a few years into elite track training that she recognized and appreciated the importance of the team around her. She became her best because they were able to become theirs. They grew together.
• Lastly, when you achieve your goals, life isn’t over. You may feel lost. You may be unsure of what journey to take next. But even if you struggle to find your next route. There is always someone who can learn from you, someone you can inspire, someone you can teach. You just need to listen. Then your next journey will find you.

Hope it helps.

P.S. If you want to know the other athlete I was obsessed with, it was Denise Lewis. Legend.


Film review: Testament of Youth

‘Beautifully balanced, brilliantly cast’

(Testament of Youth – Out in UK cinemas nationwide now)

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Testament of Youth is far considered to be one of the greatest war memoirs ever written. So producing a film that reflected the experiences of Vera Brittain was never going to be an easy task; and I was even more dubious when I read that Alicia Vikander, the actress playing the British protagonist, was in fact from New Zealand.

Set in the shadows of World War I, Vera Brittain is a young lady who stands for being unique, not judged. Young and spirited, she swears off men, marriage and children and sets a primary ambition to study at Oxford University and become a writer.

But her ambition becomes mocked by reality. She falls in love. World War I arrives. And her brother, best friend and betrothed choose to fight on the front line. She has every opportunity to keep her head buried in her studies; or use her gender or class as an excuse, but instead she chooses to walk away from Oxford, and towards war.

What follows next is a beautiful, true story about one young woman’s journey to stand up and help.

A brilliant lead performance by Vikander, with sensitive supporting performances from Dominic West, Anna Chancellor and Mirander Richardson – and good work from Game of Thrones eye candy Kit Harington – I left the preview screening organised exclusively by TimeOut London for its members ( teary eyed, humbled and with one main thought; despite how life changes and the challenges it chooses to throw at you, you can still stay true to your soul.

You can watch a preview at:

In UK cinemas nationwide from Friday 16 January 2015.

Review first posted at

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Thinking of regrets or writing resolutions? Think again.

15 years old again... Mums, Workaholics and Travellers reunite

15 years old again… Mums, Workaholics and Travellers reunite

At the end of every year, I get together with the girls I grew up with. As we’ve grown older we have become separated by careers, children and countries… But the moment we get together it’s like we’re 15 again.

We talk school, boys and all things on kisses and crushes past… While scouring Facebook to find out where our former childhood flames are now. And every year we write ‘The List’.

The List is a digest of everything we want to achieve the following year. So when we get together we look at what we each wrote one year ago, laugh, cry or shake our heads shamefully, and then put pen to paper again.

The way I see it, the end result of each list can be classified in two ways:

– An aspiring list based on regrets from the year before; or
– An inspiring list based on anticipation for the year to come

It always disheartens me when I see lists based on regrets from the year before: “I want to make more time for my friends and family”, “This year I want to be at all of my children’s school plays”, “I want to make it to my taekwondo class more often so that I can enter a competition”. It means you haven’t yet forgiven yourself for how you responded to the challenges you came upon that year.

I used to write those aspirational regrets lists. Then I decided to get over it.

For most people, whether you hate your job or love your career, it is usually work that is the main cause of the ‘regrets’ list. And as much as we try to not let it, sometimes we just have to accept that work does and will continue to get in the way. We are not superhuman, we cannot control everything and sometimes it really just can’t be helped. Give yourself a break.

But how can we better manage work’s relationship with our lives? How do we make sure that when we look back on 2015, we are not writing a regrets list all over again?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) new report on Labour Market Predictions for 2015 cited that labour turnover has been decreasing and it expects it to remain low. Does that mean we are starting to become happier in the workplace? With Gallup recently reporting that 87% of workers worldwide “are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive”, I am inclined to think not. So are the majority of us destined never to find the path to a happy working life?

At this time of year, the Internet is crawling with good and bad reads on how to make work, work. Most cite that if you don’t like your job, change it. Is it that easy? J. Maureen Henderson’s recent article on Forbes takes a different perspective. She talks about how having a less fulfilling day job can work better for you. It means that in your spare time, you have the headspace to make those spare minutes creatively count; learn a language, improve your cookery skills, train for a marathon… Or if you have a well paid, potentially stressful job, you have the disposable cash to make everything outside of work more enjoyable. My thoughts are that when I have any spare time from my incredibly enjoyable but ridiculously manic consultancy work, in truth I don’t really have the energy to always get constructively creative. However, when I’ve finished a project, time out and escapism work for me. I book a trip and when I’m back, relaxed and refocused, I get back into the hobbies I love and productively plan what is next with work.

Every person and situation is different but the underlying message I have taken away from all of the various articles I have read recently is ‘change your mindset’.

If you love your job, but the intense pressure and long hours are taking you away from your friends, your family, your life – can you work smarter? Can you work from home more so you leave out the commute and are at home for dinner? Can you wake up half an hour earlier and fire off those urgent emails, instead of bringing your passion killer mobile phone and tablet to bed with you at night? Can you set the standard and let it be known loud and clear that you will be leaving the office on time as you have a commitment that evening – and then do it?

If you like your job, like the money but hate the hours, how big a step is it to go from permanent to contract, or contract to freelance?

If you dislike your job, stop moaning about it and take a good long look at why. Is it that you like your company but your role doesn’t work for you? Or you love your job but the company isn’t giving you the career development and opportunities you would like. Either-or, identify the root of the problem, make a plan and act.

Or if you’re like me, I spent 2014 thinking about how I can make my career work for me, instead of me working for my career and therefore, changed my approach. And for 2015, I have scrapped my aspiring regrets list, and have a new inspirational list based on potentially what lies ahead. It’s not absolute, but I have an idea of what needs to be achieved this year, a rough plan of how I am going to get there, a newly acquired acceptance that I am not superwoman and a broadly excited, optimistic attitude of ‘we’ll see how 2015 turns out’.

Change your mindset. Change your behaviour.