Do You Need More Supportive Women In Your Life? Look no further…

Do You Need More Supportive Women In Your Life? Look no further…


Over the last year I have been using something that is perhaps one of the most valuable tools that I have for gathering information, meeting new people, giving and receiving advice, sharing my problems, and also having a laugh.


What on earth could this wondrous thing be I hear you ask? Well, wait for it, it’s Facebook Groups. Please don’t stop reading yet…


Do you hate Facebook?

I expect you probably do. I’ve had a volatile relationship with it over the last few years and I’ve been very tempted to delete my account on many occasions but have always had to withhold as I need it for work. Damn.

I’m not sure it’s really worth me going into the ins and out of what’s so bad about it, or how it makes me feel, we all know. What I’m here to tell you is that I now use Facebook in a completely different way and it actually adds value to my life – for real.


My first experience of being in FB groups was awful

I found them to be full of people with too much time on their hands, talking about mindless bullshit with narrow-minded views and all too ready to put other people and opinions down, and in some cases attack them. They felt like very unsafe, unprotected spaces – not for me at all. I stayed a member of some as locality based groups can be useful for finding out about events and whatnot, but the rest I happily left.


Sexism and rampant misogyny

Last year when I was planning to make a move to Vietnam I had to get involved with groups again. There was certain information that I needed to gather and I could only get it from these groups. Some of them were hideous, and I mean hideous, sexism and misogyny rampant within them and downright bullying. However, I heard mention in one of these groups of a female only group that was supposedly equally as useful, in fact possibly more so if I was planning on moving to Vietnam.

But what I found in this group was a community of women all on their own in a foreign country sharing advice and information and also reaching out for friendship – I was surprised – it was all very supportive.



There’s was also another aspect to the group, women were reaching out to ask for advice about very personal things – mental health, relationships, body image etc. Again I was very surprised, mainly that people were happy to expose themselves online in this way, but this was the beauty of a female only supportive space, people felt safe to do so. I engaged with the group, got loads of useful tips and info, and even met one person in real life from it.


My next experience of FB groups was the best yet and it came in the form of a whisper

An invitation in real life by a friend to join a secret group about an issue that I’m incredibly passionate about. It all felt very cloak and dagger and at first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join, it all seemed very serious and there were quite a few questions to answer before I could get approved, alongside very stringent rules.

Nonetheless I did join, and what a pleasure it has been. Talking to like-minded intelligent women in an incredibly safe space. I enjoy seeing all the posts in the group as they’re always interesting, insightful and sometimes entertaining. The group is also incredibly well run and managed and this makes a big difference to the quality of the content.

And it is with this in mind that I would like to ask you all if you would like to be part of a new women only safe space (FB group):

join below ↓

Living WELL & BEING a Woman


Who is the group for?

It’s for women who are interested in their own personal wellbeing.
It’s for ALL women including trans women although we may be discussing issues relating to vaginas, breasts, menstruation, menopause and all of the wonderful physical aspects that come from being a woman by sex, so if that makes you uncomfortable then this group isn’t for you.

What is the group for?

For women to have a safe space to discuss anything they like in regards to wellbeing and for women to offer kindness and support each other.

What can I ask?

Anything you like in regards to women’s wellbeing.

For example:

What are the best natural alternatives to antidepressants?
Has anyone tried Kundalini yoga?
Has anyone changed careers and how did you go about it?
I’m struggling getting to sleep at night – any advice?
Where can I buy vegan beauty products?
My doctor says I have IBS, should I get a second opinion?
I have horrendous period pains – what can I do?
Can anyone recommend a retreat they’ve been on that’s good for confidence?
I’ve been thinking about stopping drinking what can I do to help me make it an easier transition?
Has anyone done positive affirmations – do they work?

What can I share?

Tips and advice.
Useful, insightful or entertaining information.
Book recommendations.
Blog posts.
Newspaper articles.
Your own personal inspirational story.
Good news.

What is it not for?

Any kind of self-promotion.


If this sounds like something you could be interested in please click below ↓

Living WELL & BEING a Woman


I personally guarantee you that this WILL be a safe and confidential space.



Chaos, Kindness & Tears – my first 3 weeks in Hanoi #1

Chaos, Kindness & Tears – my first 3 weeks in Hanoi #1

As a reminder, I left my life in the UK to start a new life in Vietnam. I’m a 40 year old woman who is feeling the fear and doing it anyway


When I left the UK I wasn’t feeling good at all. It was like a toxic vapour had taken over my mind and my body and I had a deep sense of unease. All the plans that I’d been making over the last year, and had been so excited about, now seemed so daunting and uncomfortable. The thought of leaving all of my family and my precious daughter was almost too much to contemplate, and I spent the last few days holding back the tears, walking around with a lump in my throat, and wishing that I hadn’t planned this ridiculous move.


It also wasn’t the smooth departure that I’d hoped for. The day before I was due to fly I went to visit my beloved Gran in her care home. She has severe dementia, she has good days and bad days, and when I arrived it was one of her very bad days. It’s extremely upsetting to see someone you care so much about, who has lived such a happy and full life, to be so desperately unhappy, confused and vulnerable.



Whilst I was at the home I received information that the hotel that I had booked and paid for, for my first week in Hanoi, had now closed down. This send me into total panic mode. So I was at the care home, trying to reassure my gran and calm her down, and really trying to focus on just being with her, whilst at the same time feeling so anxious that I was out of breath, it was a horrible feeling. I managed to book somewhere else but it really threw me off as I’d planned everything from being based at that specific hotel.


Luckily as soon as I arrived, I felt better immediately – something lifted within me and I was excited again, although the first week in Hanoi is a haze. I was jetlagged (asleep all day and awake all night) and I had culture shock in a big way. I was also starving, there were no accessible vegan places – one night I had a beer and some dark chocolate for my dinner and counted myself lucky. Everything I tried to do didn’t work out the way I’d envisaged. I’d planned all of these great things but I didn’t do most of them. I spent most of my time getting lost, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.


What I now know is that there are plenty of vegan places, but they’re not called that.There are Buddhist restaurants and they are everywhere. The food I have eaten in some of these places has been some of the most delicious vegan food that I have ever tasted – even if I had no idea what it was!


Culture Shock

My first impressions of Hanoi were that the streets were filthy, the traffic horrendous and unbelievably noisy, and it was incredibly hot, too hot. One day when I stupidly planned to walk around West Lake (17k) I nearly got heat stroke after 45 minutes. I’ve had it once before when I was working in Aruba and I’ll never forget the symptoms – confusion, exhaustion, and a very heavy body.


Saying all of this, I felt comfortable here, I had a deep sense that I was OK, and would continue to be so.


Not what I thought

I had chosen to stay in the Tay Ho area, which is the expat area of Hanoi. When I say expat area, it’s not like expats areas in say Spain, full of cheesy apartment blocks and cafes selling fried breakfasts. All it really means is that the majority of expats live there so you might occasionally see another Westerner and some locals speak a bit of english. I’d done hours and hours of research on Hanoi and because I’d joined loads of expat groups I was under the impression that there are lots of Westerners in the city, there may be, but it’s a huge city of 9 million people and whatever Westerners are here are a drop in the ocean.


During my time in Tay Ho I did have some interesting encounters. I went on a date! I haven’t been on a date for about 18 months now, but I thought ‘well why not’? And of course, there are many reasons why not, but I forgot! We went to a cocktail bar called the Red River Tea Room, it was really nice, kinda like a very old musty London pub with a big beer garden overlooking the lake. It was a fun evening for sure, there was no romance whatsoever on my part, but in all honesty it was hilarious in many ways. I don’t have time to write about it here but the details will be going into my book.


I also met my friend Vicky a couple of times for lunch and drinks. I met her through FB before I arrived, she’s a lovely woman, a headteacher, and she’s been very kind to me – she showed me around the area and checks in with me to see how I’m doing, that might not seem much, but let me tell you it’s a massive deal when you don’t know a living soul.


On the move

Anyway, a week later I moved to another area to some accommodation which was provided by my new employers. It was on the 24th floor of a high rise building. There were no Westerners whatsoever in this area and at first I felt like an alien, everyone was staring at me. I felt like a fish out of water and again, I kept doing everything wrong – it’s a communist country and there are very specific set ways of doing things – such things like you can’t go into a supermarket with a handbag! The first couple of days were a struggle, the lump in my throat returned. I have no idea what I must have looked like, some freak with blonde hair and white skin skulking around and avoiding eye contact.


But the more familiar I got with the place and the routines the more my confidence grew. I started sitting down on the plastic chairs in the street and ordering coffee, I started smiling at everyone I saw. What a difference, everyone started smiling at me back, and saying ‘hi’, and asking me where I was from.



Vietnamese people are kind, sweet, gentle, humble, unassuming, patient. I’ve never before been in a place where I feel there is just a general respect for persons, people, anybody. They are smiling, friendly and gracious. It automatically lends to a feeling of safety. In my 3 weeks here I have not seen one angry exchange between anyone.


Also, mindful. Vietnamese people will sit for hours, in the same spot, without a phone or any distractions, they just sit there, on their own, at peace, on the street, in cafes, in the parks. Being around such calm behaviour is calming in itself. I have not yet seen a Vietnamese person rush anywhere.


Two days after I moved into that apartment I went to meet a Vietnamese woman for coffee, I’d never met her before but we have a mutual friend and we also work for the same company. It was my birthday and she brought me a vegan mango cheesecake with my name on, I almost cried. She then took me on the back of her bike exploring the streets of Hanoi – it was fantastic! Such freedom being on a bike. She then took me to dinner at a really swanky Buddhist restaurant, it was incredible, the whole experience was so gentle – the decor, the staff, the food – it was a birthday to remember. It was such a humbling experience, this woman, who I didn’t know, had taken the time on her one day off to make sure that I had a nice birthday. Such kindness.


Sometimes it’s easier just to quit

The next bit of this story is about me training to teach English. The company that I work for have a very specific way of teaching. Basically I’ve spent the last 2 weeks doing intense training. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s been very tough. I spent quite a few days thinking ‘wow this is so hard, this moving abroad thing, why did I think it would be easy?’ There were even times when I thought I might quit, I didn’t, I powered on through. I also met some great people on the training so that was a great bonus.


There is so much more that I could write, so many interesting or funny little stories, so many cultural differences that are fascinating, so many amazing crazy occurrences, but I could go on forever.


Anyway, I’ve just arrived in Vin Phuc. It’s so peaceful, the air is sweet, and there is greenery everywhere. It’s a massive relief – I had no idea how stressed I was in the city.



One thing that I haven’t mentioned yet is how I feel about myself, now that I’m here. It’s very hard to explain but I feel like a massive weight has been lifted. I’m not really sure what the weight was, perhaps my past, perhaps the energy in the valley, perhaps depression. I didn’t think that I was depressed but now that I’m here and I feel so light and upbeat and free – maybe I was.


I’m not missing home at all, I’ve had the odd thought of the fresh Yorkshire air and I spontaneously cry when I think about how much I miss Holly, but generally I feel great.


I want to finish by saying I’m so touched by the people who keep messaging me to see how I’m doing – you have no idea how much this means to me and I’m extremely grateful.


Much love to you all and I’ll write again when I can xxxxx

How To Feel Better in Less Than a Minute – Yes One Minute

How To Feel Better in Less Than a Minute – Yes One Minute


I want to share with you a relaxing and rejuvenating technique that’s so quick and easy that you’ll probably be suspicious about how effective it could possibly be – I can assure you that it does work and I use it on a daily basis.


I use it for connecting back to myself when I’m working. Hours and hours spent writing in front of the computer can leave me with a racing mind, mentally fatigued and slightly agitated. It calms my mind, allows my whole body to relax, and creates space for me to be able to think creatively again. I use it a few times a day just to check back in with myself. It’s also very good for calming anxiety.


So what is this magical elixir?




OK it’s not just simply to breathe. We spend every second of our life breathing and if we stopped we’d be dead. But this technique takes only around a minute so why not give it a go?



How do you feel? Better right?

I only realised how to do this after discovering Pranayama techniques in India – which is an incredibly powerful breathing practice used by Yogis. I was shocked that something as simple as breathing, something that we do subconsciously, can improve one’s wellbeing if done only slightly differently. When I came home I applied what I’d learned to my daily life.


How do you breathe? I used to walk around paying no attention to my breath whatsoever – perhaps even holding it, or breathing very shallowly.


Tip: If you find that your breathing feels restricted around the chest area this could be because your shoulders are hunched up with tension so try some head rotations to release the stress in that area.


I love this because it’s a free tool, that we have unlimited access to, that we can do anywhere. On the train, in the bath, at work, in a meeting, on a plane, in the pub. Wherever and whenever you feel like it.


Namaste x


P.S Let me know how you get on.


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