There’s A Place For Us

Posted on May 24, 2015


We spend a lot of time around people and our relationship with them, don’t we? But consider this – as I have many times -  that maybe place has a persona, a soul, if you like whether it be village, town, county or country.

As a child I felt this very strongly and had strong likes and dislikes regardless of whether a place was pretty or safe or not. It was only two decades on in my later 20′s when I became a professional astrologer and started doing charts for countries as well as relocation charts for clients, that I developed a respect for places in a new and eye opening way. Helping people to look at their relationship with a new place was as fascinating as looking at the relationship between two people or a parent and child.

Why do we feel drawn to a place?

This is my experience.

Whether we live somewhere by choice, circumstance, childhood upbringing, work requirements, relationships – even if we are a refugee finding a new home – we find ourselves drawn to it, challenged by it or even dislike it. It’s a relationship!

I have been a traveller from an early age and finally, twenty three years ago, I chose a place I really call home, and feel an intimacy and heart connection with the town.  I am now 63.

I grew up in Quemerford near Calne, a very small village in Wiltshire, and at four I attended  a school with two classrooms. This suited me, I feel as I was shy, a slowish learner and late talker. I felt rooted there. Then, shock, horror, my dad was posted to Germany in 1956 to a northern city which had a lot of stone and grey exteriors. My school was massive and I screamed when I saw it. But I had to adapt.

Though feeling frozen inside the theme of ‘just getting on with it’ has accompanied me through life! My memories were of loud voices and a cold post war city. My sisters seemed fine with it. I went to six schools before eleven and learned to be flexible and accept lots of goodbyes in an era before Facebook and cell phones!  I associated places with separations and loss. For a kid three and a half years is a long time.

At ten we moved to Bath in Somerset. And  I lived there for 25 years. A beautiful city but it just goes to show that, like a person, a beautiful place doesn’t always magnetise or create intimacy. I often felt out of sync and alone. I couldn’t forge, though I tried, closeness with it.

Interestingly, in my teenage years, my longing for space, wild hills got me regularly hauled off willingly by my Dad to places like Dartmoor, North Wales etc. I was at home in emptier places where my inner life had space to feel free. I still return to them.

I used to ‘claim’ a place by bringing a stone or heather or the like back home and also burying  a stone in the ground for the earth to remember me. My parents must have thought I was a strange child. Some places fed me and some didn’t.

Then at 35, I moved to Southern California, for love (well probably lust!) I think I was unconsciously seeking a new place, with Sun rolled in. Cutting the story short, just as after two months I decided to leave, my partner had a major accident and became quadraplegic.

So there I was ‘stuck’ now in Irvine, a place of equidistant trees and very man made.

Jonathan was moved to a veterans hospital in Long Beach – hurrah, it turned out to be a place with a heart and combined realness and rolling hills. I fell in love with it! With Jonathan in rehab I was struggling to pay my rent and make a living – at that point having overstayed my visa…

What changed things I asked Long Beach to look after me, and viscerally I could feel its embrace. And in return I would help and bring myself to its people.  I found myself with intent making a contract with a place. I stayed safe and a great network of women developed. I hadn’t often enjoyed women’s groups before for different reasons.

I felt I had a relationship with the soul of the place. Wierd? Once upon a time I would have thought so. But not any more. This is why I wanted to share this story with innovative women like you.

Whenever I visit a new country or location and start the descent into an airport, I inwardly (not aloud!) have a chat with the spirit of the place as I would a person, and ask to set up a contract. The contract being to bring myself to its people and help, and receive assistance when needed, harmony with its people, good health, and, if working there, to be successful and have my financial needs and goals met. Somehow, it never fails. And, when I leave I thank it!

So where am I now? In 1991 I moved back to the UK, married at the age of 40 and, by choice, we moved to Guildford, Surrey. It’s home. It’s been challenging, with some tragic episodes, more endings than beginnings, but always providing fertile ground for me to grow and yet feel comfortable.  I have my beloved hills a stone’s throw away (and, yes, I have one or two stones in my home!) and the old town centre and London close by.

Above all, I feel intimacy yet the freedom to be myself. I don’t need to go elsewhere to find those things, traveller still though I am.

I believe there are reasons places draw and change us. Not just the obvious reasons we go there. We know when we come home to a person or place, and though with time we need new or additional relationships that match our growing potential, it is vital we resonate with places which ‘walk beside us’ and talk with us.

I say to myself, ‘Ysanne, with that kind of relationship how can you be lonely?’


This is a guest post from Ysanne Lewis, a timing consultant, astrologer, writer and lecturer.

Somewhere Along The Way I Lost My Sparkle

Posted on May 17, 2015

aiming high

This week I was blown away by my 13-year-old. She had set a big goal for this year and we are only in May and she has actually achieved it! Her goal was to be able to do the splits before the end of 2015.  She had set this goal last year and had been stretching every day.

My reaction was “Wow I am in a shock! I didn’t realise you were so determined.“ Her reply, “I was not going to take no for an answer and by the way did I not tell you I was great!” She reminded me so much of how I was as a child. If I wanted something I would move mountains to get to my goal and the more you said no the more I would push.

This got me wondering, what had happened over the years?

What takes away that fight, that belief, that incredible enchantment when we reach adulthood?

We could put it down to life circumstances and the pressure of providing for our families, constant rejection and the fear of losing it all.  Then we invent the ‘better be safe‘ box trying to lock the fear out. So it tightly shuts the lid on our hopes and dreams. We stop seeing what we thought was important to us. We start brushing it away as

“it’s nothing special”

“it’s not a problem”

“I can easily do without”

“maybe it wasn’t meant to be” and

“no big fuss”.

Does that ring a bell?

Why, I cry? When I look at myself I think I see a challenger. I have done pretty well so far. A single mother raising two girls and running a successful business, but is it all as it seems? Well its not, if I look deeply enough I discover that I have built that ‘better be safe‘ box. I fearfully hope it will keep me ticking over, cover all the bills and school fees. I have forgotten about me and the things that really matter. They may be small and insignificant to others, but they play a high priority in my heart. I would fight tooth and nail to make sure I can provide for my girls but would I fight tooth and nail for myself? It’s easier to back others but I need to back myself.

How can I regain that sparkle back into myself?

I was reading an interesting article in the Forbes magazine online. ‘7 Ways To Get Your Mojo Back‘ cleverly describes how we feel when we are super excited about something. Excitement makes us vocal and we want to tell the world. Then if we return to that stagnated stage nothing happens and then we just stop!

I’m going to put myself through those 7 stages.

1. Changing your views

I have become a real stay at home mother, too exhausted to have fun and always turning down invites. I really need to take this on board and at least enjoy getting dressed up and socialising. Instead of thinking I haven’t got the time. Or I have only myself to blame…

2. Changing our attitude

An interesting concept as I am always telling my athletes to change their thought pattern and trust the goals they have set and work towards them step by step. Although my goal is not work related maybe I should see myself as a business and think of ways of fine-tuning myself.

3. Changing your pattern

Work, after school actives, home, sleep – work, after school actives, home, sleep. A repeating pattern! You get the picture.  I think it’s about time I jazz it up a bit changing the routine slightly. Adding in small increments that are for me. Instead of going into the office straight away at 8.30am go to a coffee shop and have 30mins me time. Or explore what is around the girl’s activities and see if I can use that time wisely.

4. Changing your priorities

For me everything always merges into one. I start off thinking I have everything under control. But as the day goes on I am a headless chicken. I need to set a schedule and no means no!

5. Change your mentors

DrivenWoman groups are my mentors. It’s really refreshing and a good eye opener to put myself through the phases. Investing time listening to others that are growing and developing can only be a plus.

6. Changing your friends

Sounds drastic but I definitely believe that who you surround yourself with certainly have an effluence on your life. Understanding why people are in your life is important.

7. Changing your thoughts

That doubtful Thomas that jumps on your shoulder. The language we speak to ourselves will always have an on effect on our performance. Can I really commit to changing my thoughts and believe in a bigger dream? I don’t know but I’m surely going to work on it!

This point is the actual thought pattern that my daughter has right now. She has a true belief in herself. She understands, with excitement, just how persistence does pay off especially when she has the ability to change herself. An incredible life lesson that can only hope she keeps for life.

I believe that we should picture our goals like a giant puzzle. Each piece represents a goal that is set for us. Once you place each piece you then move on to the other. How they look and feel, the outcome of the picture will be down to the quality of you.

Feeling ten foot tall is an amazing feeling. And I’m determined to get that sparkle back!

Have you ever felt your sparkle is gone? Please comment and share your experience, I’d love to hear how you feel about this.


Find Your Fire

Posted on May 10, 2015


What separates winners and losers? What makes some women successful when women with the same skills can’t make it past the start line? It’s easy to look at successful people and think they got there because they are so smart and they know exactly what to do, they have the knowledge.

The truth is we all have access to relevant information. We can read books on how to be successful, we can learn how other women have built their lives from blogs. The internet is packed with information on the importance of health and exercise, and we all know we should be cutting down on sugar and refined carbs. We can read about the state of the economy and get stock tips on how to invest our money. We can inform ourselves about how to work efficiently or how to advance our career in the digital world. The list goes on and on.

So if success was based on knowledge we’d all be skinny multi-millionare super-women living happy and healthy lives in harmony with our surroundings.

Anyone can hand you a piece of paper with a recipe to success but that piece of knowledge may still be worth nothing to you.

Firstly, everyone’s definition of success is going to be completely different. And it should be. Are you looking for career success or do you define success based on the time you can spend with your family? Or perhaps you haven’t yet figured out what your success looks like?

The same way as everyone’s success looks different, so does everyone’s circumstances. There are people who are immensely successful who started with nothing and there are people with lots of money in the bank who still aren’t content with their lives. Beautiful people succeed but so do the ugly. The extroverts and the introvert. The intellectually gifted and those who’s only asset is hard work.

Success in life comes in all shapes and sizes.

So why do we still hang onto this notion that somewhere someone is hoarding the knowledge of how to get there. We go to networking meetings expecting other people give us the contacts that will make us succeed. Like someone is going to give us the key to everything we ever wanted!

Why should we even rely on the knowledge that has worked for someone else?

An example. A good friend of mine, Avril (founder of Feel Brave), mentors a group of startup women. She asked if I could tell her what would be a great source for social media marketing. Her mentees should put together a marketing plan. Sure, I can help, there are great sources out there and brilliant people to follow on Twitter. But this discussion made me realise that this piece of information is likely to be completely worthless for them. Yes, they will learn something about social media marketing, but unless they are committed to actually doing it and then fine tuning their approach once they learn what works for them, they are wasting their time.

Avril later interviewed me for her video series (part of her mentoring program). Watch the video where I explain the importance of attitude vs knowledge.

Business Of Brave

A second example.

At the Wealthy Woman Workshop last autumn our moderator Terhi focused on everyone’s attitude towards money. Our workshops are open to both members and non-members and it was interesting to see how differently the two groups experienced the session.

The non-members arrived to the session expecting Terhi to hand over the secret to wealth in those 3 hours. All they’d have to do was to take notes. It would be straight forward, here’s a woman who has done it so they’d just have to copy her steps. But that’s not what Terhi delivered and the non-members didn’t like what they heard.

The road was going to be long and rocky and they’d have to find their own answers.

What kind of workshop was this?! The group of women left disappointed.

The DrivenWoman members who attended the session, however, having worked with our methodology, they understood this workshop would be an opening shot to their journey to wealth. Terhi helped them to work on their attitude and commitment, and to make a firm decision to focus and learn how to improve their personal finances. They understood it was their own responsibility to find the right knowledge and to apply it to their own circumstances. They had to make it happen!

These women left excited and enthusiastic. And they wanted more. We ended up organising a second session and now the group is on their way, enjoying their journey to wealth. All the knowledge is out there, and they are now committed to finding out what investment types are best for them, and making the daily changes to save and invest.

What comes first – knowledge or attitude? And which one is more important?

If you expect success is based on knowledge you will always be missing the point. And you will always be disappointed and blaming others for not making it. What if Terhi had told people what to do and they wouldn’t have adapted the advice to their own life, it would have failed. They would have blamed her for their failure.

Attitude and commitment must come first.

Do you have the fire under your belly? Are you hungry to find the answers? Have you found your ‘mojo’? Are you determined to succeed?

Work on your attitude. Find your fire.

The rest will take care of itself.


PS. It’s easier to be in the zone, to find your fire, if you surround yourself with people who have the same desire to succeed, who are willing to share some of their experiences and attitude.

Get infected by motivation and join one of our Introduction evenings to see what DrivenWoman is all about. Next session is on 21. May 6:45 pm in Soho, London.


Take Small Steps To A Big Goal

Posted on May 3, 2015

small steps

Wednesday was a special day for me. I got to be my beauty therapist’s first private client. I met Michaela for the first time four years ago when I visited the day spa where she works. Immediately I noticed she was very passionate about her work and loved what she does. Over time we got to know each other a little better and she told me that one day she’d want to have her own spa.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Michaela started investigating what starting a business would actually mean. She visited retail units and discovered that the capital investment required would be out of her reach. She talked to potential investors and discovered that the spa wouldn’t really be hers if she’d have someone finance it for her.

Perhaps the dream was not possible! The initial disappointment was big. She had hoped there was a way to jump directly from a full-time job to running her own spa.

We all have big dreams. And most big dreams seem unreasonable to achieve, in a short term.

What keeps us from achieving them is our own refusal to travel the journey. We get frustrated because we can’t get what we want immediately. And if we make a start things don’t normally go the way we imagined. Everything is slow. Progress seems too insignificant. So we give up.

This week we celebrate DrivenWoman‘s 2nd birthday. Our first event took place in Hyde Park 8th of May 2013. That day we knew (vaguely) what we wanted to create but we had really no idea how to do it and what lied ahead. And we were massively ambitious. Surely everyone would get excited about what we were building and our concept would spread like a wildfire!

A year ago I was massively disappointed. I was frustrated that we weren’t able to grow our membership numbers the way we had envisioned in the beginning. Everything seemed to be coming too slow.

But rather than giving up we persevered. Rather than getting stressed out, we accepted the phase we were growing. Perhaps there was a lesson to be learned? Perhaps it was important for us to remain small at the start so that we could build a very solid foundation.

We are now one year wiser and I can clearly see that the phase we have been growing is the right speed. We are not meant to go light speed because we are creating a very passionate community, we are not selling vacuum cleaners!

We are building something remarkable. And often remarkable things take time.

We can now see the vision and the journey ahead of us. This makes me feel very confident. We have altered our perspective from where we are supposed to be, to what is the long term vision and what we want to build.

I have a firm belief in Michaela’s journey. After two years she abandoned her initial ‘big dream’ she has made remarkable progress. It may not seem like much, but giving up one day a week in the day job to start building a private client base is a key milestone. I was her first client, and I know there will be many more. And overtime she will build her business, she will save more money and eventually she will get there. I’ll make sure I’ll be there to celebrate she gets to her dream.

She will not get there because of some clever financing trick she might discover or being lucky, it will be because she has accepted the small steps she has to take every day to move forward. She has made a decision to put one foot in front of the other, build her dream brick by brick.

All DrivenWoman members are looking to achieve a more rewarding life. They are looking to become more successful both financially and emotionally. Watching their progress every month has taught me a lot. Here’s what everyone can learn from the most successful ones.

DrivenWoman’s guide to small steps:

1) The faster you accept your starting point, the faster you will get started on your path towards your goal. Many people never cross the ‘Start’ line because they refuse to be honest to themselves. (Read Jane’s guest post from last week, if you haven’t yet.)

2) Being attached to your goal and the final outcome can be poisonous. It breeds disappointment, frustration and stress, and can make you loose sight what is really important in life. Your unrealistic expectations can be the only reason you feel you have failed, when in reality you just haven’t been patient enough.

3) Always evaluate why your goal is so important to you. Is it because it’s something you love doing or something that has to be done to make the universe a better place? Or are you chasing other people’s appreciation and external status? If you evaluate what you are doing through the eyes of others (‘how does this look in my LinkedIn CV?’) and constantly feel you should be performing better in terms of external parameters you may not be doing what you really want.

4) Try to be attached to the progress (the small daily steps!) rather than to the outcome. This is the only way to accept the work and enjoy the journey! By attaching myself to the daily process I have been able to get rid of busyness and stress almost completely.

5) Everything takes much longer than you plan or wish for. Learn to work with the natural flow of what you are building. You can keep pushing but certain things can not be forced. Deepak Chopra suggests that by discovering the natural laws that govern all of creation, and by aligning with these laws, success comes easily and naturally.

6) Share your goals and progress. Surround yourself with like minded people who understand your ambitions and are ready to help. They will cheer you on when you loose hope and think carrying on is pointless. The members who show up to the meetings regularly seem more connected to their goals because they share them with the group every month.

7) Celebrate small victories along the way. Getting your first client may not yet earn you an industry award but it’s the most important step you ever take, so remember to appreciate it and be proud of what you have done. Getting excited about small progress increases motivation and boosts self esteem!

8) Help others. People who share their learning and disappointments with the group end up processing any obstacles faster, and thus move forward. Being able to help someone is very satisfying and makes you less self-centred. This in turn helps to reduce stress.

How do you keep yourself motivated towards big goals? Have you experienced disappointment and temptation to give up your dreams? How did you persevere?



To celebrate our 2nd birthday we are announcing a chance to win ONE YEAR FREE DRIVENWOMAN MEMBERSHIP!

Tell us why you should become a DrivenWoman member?

Our key principle is ‘proactivity’. We believe we can improve ourselves or find our passion by doing things, actively taking small steps and exploring. Explain what are the small steps you would be focusing on if you were to become a DrivenWoman member? What currently keeps you stationary and what would you like to achieve? Why you need a group of like minded women around you?

Send your reply (maximum length A4 ) to miisa (at) by Sunday 17th of May, midnight. If you are chosen we will welcome you to the next DrivenWoman Introduction session on Thursday 21st of May at 6:45 pm in Soho, London.


My DrivenWoman Journey

Posted on April 26, 2015

two benches 2

Ever since I can remember I’ve found it difficult to cope. An erratic childhood paved the way for some very wild teenage antics, which in turn fast-tracked me into at times chaotic adult living. Years of self-harm via the pharmaceutical route were coupled with a furious drink problem taking its toll in every aspect of my life. Realising this half way through my 30s I managed to kick the drugs and reduce the boozing to what I thought was an acceptable level. But I still didn’t feel like I was living my life. In fact, I knew I wasn’t.

And by the time I turned 40 I realised I’d failed and that the only person who was missing out, was me.

A few months on I learned about a brand new woman’s networking group – over a perfectly innocent coffee with a girlfriend. ‘A network to enable women to be the women they want to be.’ “Really?” It sounded exactly like what I needed!

I found out it was, right at the first ever ‘Driven Woman Introduction’ session. My new journey started that night in a stark white, no-frills meeting room above Ed’s Diner in Soho where this small group of women of varied backgrounds had gathered.

The format was well thought out and straight forward. Introduce yourself, say why you’re here and what you wanted to change, (this is where the rest of the group could give feedback). Followed by an exercise and a brief discussion. After that we were to write down ‘where we were at now’ and ‘where we wanted to be,’ both long and short-term. Lastly, we wrote down five easy tasks that would help us achieve our short-term goal. These tasks needed to be achievable and they were to be done by the next month’s meeting. We managed to get this all done in a little over two hours… not a bad way to spend your Monday night.

The months rolled by, I attended without fail and steadily worked the program. It was emotional, I was emotional. I swung from deliriously happy in one month to abject terror the following. I burst into tears once and the rest of the time rambled on heroically. All the time the group listened on and told me what they thought. They questioned my motives with care and consideration and in turn I questioned my beliefs. There was no sympathy, just good advice to enable me to do better. They handed me the tools, guided by the exercises we were doing, and I began to help myself. I was not allowed to procrastinate and any excuses I came up with were met with comments such as “if you want to do it you will, we’ve shown you the way, you cannot go wrong if you try”.

Everything happened rather quickly, and naturally. My ‘change’ became noticeable and people started commenting: “you’re so good at that” and “I wish I could do that”. I started to do things well, and I was getting things done. I was astounded. And best of all it was fun!

From early on, one of my ‘to do’ tasks that would allow me to reach my short-term goals had been to reduce my drinking. I’d been writing this down for eight months before I plucked up the courage to actually do something about it. Finally I did — and managed to slow right down from being drunk most days to a few glasses of wine a couple of times a week.*

This was ‘living my very own miracle’, we’re talking biblical proportions here.

So where am I now, two years into my own personal DrivenWoman program?

Well I’m sober for the first time in three decades. I’ve started kick boxing as I always wanted to do a martial art ever since I watched the ‘Monkey’. My business is gathering momentum, I’ve got repeat orders. I’ve started creative writing which had always been a secret passion. Finally, and this is the big one, I’m looking to find a long-term relationship with someone I truly love.** This would not have been possible before as I could never have shared the life I was leading with anyone!

If someone told me two years ago that I would become the person I am now, I would not have believed it. But here I am… so much can happen in two years!

I can’t imagine what the next five or ten years will hold in store. Anything seems possible with a little help from my DrivenWoman girlfriends!

~ Jane, a founding member of DrivenWoman, a women’s network that celebrates its 2nd birthday next month


*Giuliano Sacchi, who practices Japanese acupuncture has been my therapist for the last year.

** with the help from Julia Keller, Love Expert (also a DrivenWoman member)

Because I Like It Very Much

Posted on April 19, 2015

me time

“I should reap some benefits from working as a freelancer.” said Mel, a freelance journalist and a DrivenWoman member, sharing the news that she’d just booked a little cottage for the month of August to spend with her children. She wouldn’t normally dare to take such a long break. Working as a freelance journalist she felt she had to put in the effort at all times to ensure her income and to keep her connections. But the children were getting older and she wanted to spend some proper time with them, away from the daily circles.

She’d normally just talk about it, it would be a day dream. “One day…” she would say. But this time she decided to act without a delay. She booked the cottage the very afternoon. And now that the holiday was paid for and in the calendar she felt comfortable she could get year’s work done in just 11 months.

It’s funny how our minds work like that.

As soon as we give ourselves a permission to do something or make it a priority we will find a way to accomplish it.

How often do you have a feeling you’d really like to do something for yourself, but for one reason or another you end up putting it off until it’s too late, or simply end up forgetting about it? The every day life takes over and busy circumstances push our own dreams, no matter how small, aside.

I believe we women are especially prone to put our own wishes last.

Is it so selfish to want to do or have something just because you like it? I don’t think so. We only live once and it’s good to be selfish sometimes to make life worth living. Do you agree?

Women put themselves last because there’s always more work to be done. Or we are so used to helping others that we can’t justify doing something just for ourselves.

Perhaps we feel we are not worthy unless we are always working, not worthy unless we make sacrifices.

I’ve also been very guilty of this. I used to think unless I work really hard and constantly tire myself out I’m a bit weak. I’d feel guilty taking a break during the week to go riding. I’d rush into the yard and get out as quickly as I could barely enjoying the experience. But then I realised that what’s the point of all of this if I can’t enjoy a selfish moment every now and again.

The only person who’s judging me anyway is myself!

So I’ve decided to collect life’s little pleasures, things I can do simply because I like them very much.

So here’s an example, don’t laugh! (Or go ahead then…)

When I’m in Miami Beach I like to paint my toe nails as often as possible. Oh yes, I choose to do this because I like it very much. I can have a different nail polish colour every day! It’s a little bit effort but I’ve noticed I get a lot of joy out of it. Possibly because it sounds so useless and vain. It serves no-one but me. Ha ha! So I’ve now given myself a permission to indulge in different nail polish colour every day, if I want to.

Another little selfish pleasure is making fresh juice every single day. This is a bit more useful and also serves the whole family. But it still requires time (15 mins) and effort. It would be so easy to drop this as mornings can be very busy, but I always make sure I have time for juicing. I simply get up early or drop other things if I have to.

What little or big pleasures you’d like to do more of? What are the ‘vain’ activities you keep dropping because they don’t sound worthy enough?

Remember, the only one who’s judging is you. If you find pleasure changing your toe nail polish once a day, then so be it!

So girls, let’s exercise some self-love and take action. Here’s what I want you to do, right now. Yes, right now or else life’s pleasures will get pushed to one side, yet again, by daily circumstances.

Step 1) List ten things you really like doing for yourself.

The more selfish they feel the better. Don’t self-sensor your list or be overly realistic. Try to think about things that make you genuinely happy you don’t do often enough.

Step 2) Then pick three things that you can realistically fit into your daily/weekly/yearly schedule.

It’s time to giive yourself a good, clean permission to be selfish, and do couple of things that really delight you.

Step 3) Write down the parameters.

Write down when, where and WHY you get to be selfish. For instance, I only indulge in changing my toe nail polish daily when I’m in Miami. In London I don’t make time for it and I would actually consider it a waste of time. In truth, it is a complete waste of time, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it in the Sunshine State!

Step 4) Make it a habit.

From now on, you always rent a cottage once a year, or you ensure you have 15 minutes for juicing every morning. Make it a habit to take out the decision making and increase your wellbeing and happiness!

At the end of the day, your selfishness is going to benefit everyone around you.

What are your three selfish pleasures? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

~ Miisa


Life Lessons Learned Erasing My Hard Drive

Posted on April 12, 2015

hard drive

This week will go down as one of the most stressful ones. I’m writing this blog post looking out to the ocean sitting on my deck in Miami Beach, not exactly the most nerve wrecking environment! But on Monday I finally decided to do something that was long overdue, to deal with my poor technical set up and a super slow computer. I erased my computer’s hard drive.

DrivenWoman is about finding your passion and becoming happier and more successful in your chosen set up, so you might wonder, what has a computer hard drive have anything to do with that?

A lot, actually.

At the beginning of the year I set myself three development goals, one of them was never to be in a hurry. I wanted to stop rushing and start fully enjoying what I’m doing. To be more present. I’ve noticed is that the more I pay attention to the way I arrange my setup, the better I can get rid of all distractions, the more I can focus on what I enjoy doing. And the more I enjoying doing what I do, the more I get done. And the more I get done the more satisfied I get with my progress. And so it goes on.

Computer is no different to your mind, your relationships or your wardrobe. The more cluttered they get the more stress they generate. Having a great set up is means you have a great foundation to build on.

Over the years computers – like minds, relationships or wardrobes – get cluttered with stuff we no longer need. In my case, this had resulted in the fact that my computer was hardly functioning. It kept crashing and it was slow.

If your mind is crammed with stuff, it’s unorganised and you keep hanging onto things you don’t need the same thing will happen.

You will hardly function, you keep crashing and the progress on your projects is slow.

We all have a limited amount of capacity. The way I see it is if I use my capacity on unnecessary relationships, scattered thoughts and pointless emails, I get nothing that matters done. The problem is that most distractions are so small that we can hardly take them seriously. It’s easy to think “well this will only take me 1 minute” but all of a sudden you have 100 of those little things in a day and, huh, your day is gone. I call these distractions ‘time robbers‘.

But now to the story of erasing my computer’s hard drive.

I had tried the quick fixes. I spent money on installing a program that was supposed to get rid of the unnecessary clutter and dublicate files. It did’t work. Looking back, it was like wishful thinking, expecting that someone else would fix my problems. I didn’t want to face my technical problems.

The magic pill. I know it doesn’t exist so why did I think it would this time?

I had not been able to get an appointment at the Mac store in London, the Genius Bar appointments were always full. But, had I really tried hard enough? Did I make this my priority? Probably not. It’s so much easier to just carry on with your life and try to ignore the growing problems hoping a simple solution will magically present itself. Instead, you keep digging yourself deeper into the hole.

So here in Miami I finally managed to secure myself an appointment at the Genius Bar and on Monday evening I drove down to the Aventura mall Mac store with great anticipation. I backed up my hard drive, just in case. Of course I knew deep down that I’d be desperately needing my back up but I was still hoping for another solution.

The guy at the Genius Bar was called Steve. He was smart and friendly and I felt a bit like going to a dentist. I’m afraid of going but once I get there and discover the dentist is nice and gentle I relax and start trusting him. I decided to be brave and do what ever Steve would suggest. After all, I had already tried all of my own tricks, none worked.

Steve explained that the only real solution was to erase my hard drive. I only had 17 megabites memory left! He could look into the hard drive and try to find the items that were clogging it, but it would be unlikely to make much of a difference. What I should do was to erase it all and then put things back selectively from my back up files.

This sounded like a sensible advice and I agreed to pull the trigger. I was calm and I thought everything will be ok.

Back at home I started panicking. I realised I had lost all programs such as Microsoft office. I also realised the backup wasn’t bullet proof and I couldn’t find my passwords. Setting up email accounts was painful. But I decided to feel the pain and examine it rather than run away and rush into pushing all of my files back into my computer from the backup. I discovered that my computer was simply old and Steve had not been able to instal the latest operating system which resulted in the problems carrying on I set out to solve. (Most websites and virus prevention programs require 10.8 or higher but the highest Steve could go with my machine was apparently 10.7.)

I learned a lot about myself whilst calmly sitting in that pain. Instead of rushing into solutions (my default reaction) I decided to become a little internal spy quietly noting the feelings inside of me at this very stressful moment.

I decided not to act, but to observe until all solutions would come to me.

This is what I learned.

1) I was addicted to my computer

We can make ourselves important through the work we do. I’m not my work, I keep telling myself, but now that my computer was not functioning I felt super uncomfortable. I realised how addicted I had become to posting on social media (for work and for pleasure) and to working on something all the time.

I decided to see what will happen when I can’t do that for couple of days. I knew that the most important things would automatically raise to the top. I knew the work that really mattered would naturally come to me and I would find a way to do that bare minimum even with reduced resources. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now I know most of the work I think I should do is not important.

2) Erasing everything liberates

I wasn’t able to set up all my email accounts immediately. And rather than panicking, I decided I will use it as an opportunity to clean out email accounts that don’t serve me. (Well, to be honest, I did panic too.) My emails were still working on my mobile phone so for a couple of days I followed my email accounts to see what I could live without.

Also most of the files I’ve created I no longer need. Most of the photos I’ve taken are no longer useful. Most of the music I have I no longer listen. Most of the things I’ve collected simply don’t service me anymore. Letting go of thinking ‘maybe I need this one day’ has been very liberating. I enjoy the feeling of being able to go back to my back up hard drive to retrieve something if I really, truly need, but so far I’ve picked up two files. I also realised that those files will no longer be relevant next week so I will make sure to delete them.

3) Clutter keeps you from attending the real issues

Because I was so busy doing stuff (we all are), attending the everyday business, I thought I had no time to fix my computer. Most of us are guilty of this. It’s much easier to keep going as usual, attend small little problems and worship the nonsense rather than erase the noise and let the real problems come to the surface. But if we don’t let the true difficulties come out we can never find solutions to them and they will never go away.

No program you download from the internet, no book you read, no women’s network you join is going to solve your problems. At the end of the day we all must take the advice and then figure out our own solution that works for us and then put it into practise. We must take our own pill, not expect a magic pill.

Steve didn’t solve my problems but he gave me a kick in the back side to go and deal with what had to be dealt with.

4) Becoming hyper critical

Erasing my computer hard drive has given me much more than just a faster computer. It has given me a lot more mental space. I’m not going to let anyone or anything re-clutter it again. So I’ve kept unsubscribing from email lists (about 50 so far!) and I will make sure I always click the ‘unsubscribe’ button on all but the most interesting email lists. I will be hyper critical who can have my email address, what questions I will answer and what meetings I will take.

Protecting my time and my space is going to be a priority if I’m going to get to my goal of focusing on what matters and enjoying my work without stress. From now on all distractions must go!

5) Don’t be afraid of erasing everything

People hang onto old relationships, old jobs, old business relationships, old plans, old clothes, old eating habits, even old nail polish colours that no longer suit them. We cling onto the past because its familiarity gives us false security. But this false security creates nothing but clutter and prevents you from enjoying your work and doing things that matter.

When everything is erased you can build a foundation, a really powerful set up that will allow you to focus, get lots done and enjoy it every day.

Steve helped me to see my true tech problems. The fact of the matter is that my computer is simply too old and I need a new one. I have now bought a shiny new Mac which has the latest operating system. I’ve decided to become more tech savvy and not shy away from really understanding how I need to set up my work. It’s no longer ok to say ‘I’m not good at this’!

Do you have a nagging situation that is slowing down your work and happiness? Have you tried the quick fixes hoping they’d solve the obstacles standing in your way to your goals? Don’t wait for the miracle. Don’t be afraid to eraise your hard drive from the noise and cut out old toxic projects and people. And finally, find your ‘Steve’, a person who can help you to get to the bottom of the mater that needs solving.

I wish you a clutter free week,

~ Miisa


I Started My Own Business With No Clue What I Was Doing

Posted on April 5, 2015

break free

Back in November 2011, I started my own blog, Live Healthy Simply. I had no clue at all what I was doing and didn’t tell anyone about it for about three months.

What would people think? Would they judge me based on the pictures and stories I was sharing? Surely, I couldn’t be a good enough writer or photographer to have fans. I even considered never sharing it with anyone!

Over time though, I relaxed a bit and shared it with friends and family. Everyone was incredibly supportive, and to my surprise, they shared it with their friends, who shared it with their friends.

My audience started growing, and once I hit 1,000 unique visitors daily, I knew I had a true hit on my hands.

At the time, I had a full time job and I was working on the blog on nights and weekends. Although it was popular, that wasn’t translating into income at all.

As I continued growing my following, I learned everything I could about business models that make blogs financially successful. And eventually, I started making a nice profit for all of my hard work.

While it felt as though I was working two jobs, I soon would be working three.

See, other friends and bloggers started coming to me, asking for advice on how to make their websites successful too. They had seen what I had done with Live Healthy Simply and they wanted to know my secrets.

The truth was that I didn’t have secrets.

But I did work really hard and kept my standards high, making sure everything I posted was a beautiful reflection of my brand.

So I started coaching friends and bloggers on how to grow their websites’ audiences and turn them profitable, and I found my true love. Coaching was a revelation for me. I loved making a difference in other women’s lives.

One of the best parts about coaching was that I could continue blogging and writing, only I started doing so about my new coaching business, rather than healthy living. In fact, I was writing more than I ever did as a blogger!

Within six months of starting to coach women on their online businesses, I was earning enough money that I knew I would soon be able to quit my day job.

For the second time, though, I questioned myself. Could I really earn a living working on my own? Why would anyone choose to work with me when there are a ton of coaches out there?

For the second time, I ignored those nagging questions in my head. I took a leap of faith, hired a business coach, and shortly after, quit my corporate job. Within a few months of that, I had eclipsed my former salary and was soon earning more money than I ever had before.

What I realised after doubting myself but doing it anyway was that fear was getting in the way of going after my dreams.

I was keeping my plans and even my life on hold, afraid of making a mistake or a wrong decision.

Fear was the reason I stayed in my day job way longer than I needed to. It’s the reason thousands of women put off starting their own businesses and making the leap. I know now how wrong I was. Not only did my dreams and plans come true, they surpassed my wildest imagination!

So if you’re thinking about taking a big step for your career, I have a little advice based on my own experience. Get out of your own way.

Make the leap. Take a chance. Make the call. Decide. Commit. Show up for yourself.

What are you missing out on if you don’t take a chance and at least try?

~ Jessica

jessica nazarali

This is a guest post from Jessica Nazarali, the coach who inspires women create coaching businesses and build beautiful, personal brands. Find out more

What I Learned About Becoming A Wealthy Woman

Posted on March 29, 2015


Not an evening goes by in London these days when you can’t check in to some kind of event, seminar or lecture aimed at improving some aspect of your life. In addition to attending events in person, there is no shortage of life hack-ery online, in the magazines we buy and in the big piles of 10-step self-help books that, I for one, have accumulated over the years.

But if that’s the case, why aren’t we all model human beings? The answer is simple: because we don’t put the advice into practice. Not really. Not in any long-term way that gets results. Our attention is quickly taken up by the next new thing. So, having a small group of driven women get home last week after a Wealthy Woman Workshop session with wealth coach Terhi Majasalmi and immediately turning advice into action is pure gold.

This was Terhi’s second session with DrivenWoman, the first mainly looked at attitudes to wealth and how our adult behaviours are, more often than not, shaped by our parents attitude towards money. The result, as I am sure many of you will recognise, are often unconscious feelings of guilt,  unworthiness, or just simply a fundamental belief that we are unable to manage money.

In last week’s session, Terhi got down to the business of saving. In the financial advice classic  The Richest Man in Babylon, George Samuel Clason says one of the fundamental rules of wealth is to save 10% of your income. Terhi advises the same. Ok, so where’s the magic in that, you may ask?

The magic is in the mindset.

This is saving for investment. Not saving for a holiday, new outfit, a new bathroom or anything else that sees your savings go or depreciate once the thing has been bought.

Terhi was talking about saving until a critical mass is reached when you can put those savings into investments. The investments then generate income which you re-invest. That generates more income and so it goes on. It’s the conveyor belt effect; once that critical mass is reached and with some sound investing, it can’t help but move you forward, snowballing as you go. It’s likely to be a long journey but if you don’t start, how will you ever get there?

Next up was asset classes and asking the question, where should I put my money?  Terhi covered stocks and funds, commodities, property and business and managed to so in a way that was easy and accessible for the uninitiated. The answer turns out to be a personal preference based on how much time you have, how liquid you want your funds to be, your approach to risk, your investment timelines and mainly, what it is that spikes your interest. I went into the session with an idea of which asset class might suit me best and came away more convinced than ever.

Terhi says wealth creation is 20% strategy and 80% mindset. And she should know, she’s been building her wealth for two decades.

Do I wish I started thinking about financial security and freedom at seventeen? Yes, of course, but we can only start from where we are which is why it is important to start today.

By the end of the session we were all focused on our financial future with a sense of optimism. What had been daunting to many, myself included, now felt a lot more achievable.

And to keep our motivation topped up, Miisa and Jennifer have decided to hold quarterly DrivenWoman ‘Wealth Club’ -sessions so we can report back on progress and collectively hold each other to account.

I know from other areas of my life that this accountability will give me the extra motivation I need to stick with it and deliver results. I know it’s early days, but I certainly feel 2015 is the year that I turn a corner on the path to wealth and financial freedom.

~ Adzowa

Adzowa is a DrivenWoman member. She took part in the Wealthy Woman Workshop on March 19. 2015

How to Un-Label And Learn To Explore Beyond Your Current Identity

Posted on March 22, 2015

jam jarsDoes this sound familiar? You know you can get stuff done but the new goals you’ve set for yourself don’t seem to be coming any closer and weeks turn into months. Your friends talk about you as the ‘doer’, the one that makes things happen. So why is the new path you’ve decided to explore still greatly undiscovered?

After leaving my corporate career 8 years ago I had drawn up a vision to build a more flexible life where I would be in charge of my own time and able to shift easily between work, family and hobbies. The vision was clear but I had no idea how I would get there and what would be the work that I’d end up doing.

The biggest thing standing between me and my vision was the way I viewed my own identity and who I was.

I had labelled myself. I believed I was my work.

It’s so easy to do this. If you do something successfully for 15 years it’s easy to believe that that’s who you are. Forget that you were born a girl with plenty of facets, interests, values and talents. Then overtime it all got narrowed down under one sticky label, an identity.

To be good at something, be praised for our work, become useful or even indispensable may become addictive, a comfort zone. It doesn’t matter what the work is we end up doing over a long period of time or the environment we surround ourselves with, it often turns into one’s identity, a label. ‘A mother’, ‘a lawyer’, a ‘consultant’.

It’s easy to feel safe behind a label.

And to think that this is who you are because this is how all your friends know you. This is why your collegues praise you. This is what your partner expects of you. This is how your parents see you. This is how anyone who’d come to contact with you would talk about you. And this is what it says on your CV. Full stop. A label. No room for change. Or is there?

The stronger our current identity is, the more difficult it’s going to be to change it. To un-label.

The label stops you from dreaming

In the worst case the way we see our own identity stops us even dreaming about something new, something different, something more exciting. Because you do exactly what it says on the tin! And if the new adventure is not mentioned in the label how can one go about exploring it?

I remember when I left my big job and was free to do anything I wanted I wasn’t able to embrace my freedom. It terrified me. I kept referring back to who I was rather than boldly drafting ideas based on who I wanted to become.

This seems very typical, a lot of DrivenWoman members want to explore new avenues but find themselves almost paralysed unable to open new doors. It’s easy to fall back to old routines without even noticing. And how could we refer to something that may or may not exist in the future? But if you keep referring to your current identity it stops you from changing and keeps you stuck.

The label stops you from taking the first step

Can’t go on a mountain climbing trip because you aren’t that sporty (…yet). Or you can’t start a food blog because you are not a good food writer (…yet). Or you can’t go to a programming course because you are not that good with a computer (…yet).

You see my point. The labels are all in our own heads. The self-limiting identity keep us from even exploring something new. ‘What would my kids think if I went on a programming course, I can’t even use Twitter‘, you think.  And to feel satisfied with our day it’s best to keep to the activities we are familiar with, the ones we are good at and know we will be praised for by people around us. Keep performing to our label, make it to stick even harder.

When one’s identity is very strongly linked to one thing, to one’s work, it’s extremely difficult to start moving away from it.

Don’t re-label, add a sticker

Perhaps you’ve arrived to the point in your life where you think, right, new something else. I need to move on from what I’ve been doing as it doesn’t fully satisfy me anymore. It’s easy to get paralysed by thinking you need to completely re-label yourself, become something new, something different.

180 degree changes are very difficult to pull off and unlikely to work. Our past is part of our future. Change is a gradual process, not an overnight sex-change!

Try to think of it as adding a sticker next to the current label. “NOW WITH ADDED VITAMIN-C!”

This is what I did. My first step outside my ‘brand consultant’ label was to write a cookbook. So I added a sticker. A brand consultant who’s also passionate about food. Ok that works.

Writing the cookbook freed my mind to think that I can actually do anything I want. The next step was starting this network, which on the outset wasn’t really related to any of my previous labels (and was super scary for that reason!). But I just knew I had to go through that fear and simply see what’s on the other side.

What I found was a complete freedom to do anything I want. I don’t have to label myself anymore. And certainly I’m not my work.

I still love brands, but I’ve now got lots of labels sticked to my forehead, in no particular order. A brand lover. A women’s empowerment gal. A selfish mother. A design geek. A wanna be fashionista. A crazy friend. A super wife. A self proclaimed foodie.

And I have no intention to stop here. I’ll soon be working on couple of more prominent stickers to add to my collection!

I wrote a cookbook but I didn’t turn into a food writer. Just by taking up a new interest or exploring a new avenue doesn’t mean that you  will have to become that for the rest of your life. It’s simply just what it is, an exploration.

Do one thing that scares you this week. Something that no-one will praise you for. Something that your kids/collegues/friends will tell you that you are mad! Sign up to a course you know nothing about, go do a sport you’d never normally consider or finally start writing that blog you thought about for a long time.

What ever you are up to, have a great week!

~ Miisa