I am delighted to feature Janet Mohapi-Banks, in my latest Inspiring Individuals interview. Janet and I met over ten years ago when we were both in the wedding industry. Since then Janet has gone through what was originally diagnosed as an incurable illness, an unexpected divorce and the heart surgery of her daughter, to becoming a Breakthrough Coach where mixing Mindset, Metaphysics, and Energy Work, she helps her clients to overcome their limiting beliefs and sabotaging behaviours to reach their next level of success and fulfilment.
Janet was running an award-winning cake business creating cakes for some of the most prestigious venues in London, including The Ritz Hotel when we first met, and I commissioned some exquisite cakes for our new Bond Street accessory store launch party.
But we then lost touch until she popped up in my LinkedIn feed in early 2020, and we caught up on the last decade over a virtual coffee. Indeed, it really was a fortuitous call, as soon after our catch-up call, I was offered the role I am currently in which has very much been the dream job. And although the call I had with Janet was not a coaching one, as we talked about my career hopes and ambitions and about her methods, I am sure in some way that conversation contributed to unblocking the channel needed to manifest some of my unfulfilled dreams into reality. And as we are now wearily in year two of the pandemic, and some of us working in the climate arena might be feeling a tad overwhelmed and jaded by the enormity of the challenges ahead, I thought this the perfect time to share some of the Mohapi-Banks magic.
WD : Firstly, congratulations on your recent move to Canada and thank you again for your friendship and support over the last couple of years. Can you tell us about your journey to working as a Breakthrough Coach?
JMB: When I first got well, I had originally planned to take a year off and just Be with my children and not do much at all. But you know what us entrepreneurial types are like! Within a month of declaring myself fully better I knew that I was here to help other people, women in particular, to reach the success that I had before but without it nearly killing them as it had done me. So, the first incarnation of my coaching was as a Business Coach. However, it fairly quickly became apparent that I much preferred working with the way people thought about themselves and their work than the nitty gritty of their business. So, that realisation, coupled with some events that were going on in my life, such as my child’s heart surgery and my son having some major issues at his primary school that we now know were due to him being autistic, lead me to go into Transformational Life Coaching.
As I grew and understood the needs of my clients more, I specialised as a Stress Coach. Unfortunately, I often wanted my clients to go further than they did, I wanted them to truly fly but they were generally content being free of stress. This caused me to transition again because I wasn’t receiving the fulfilment that I wanted, even though my clients were getting the results that they wanted. I was increasingly being drawn to energy healing and I knew that I wanted to include it in my practice so I became a Breakthrough Coach which allowed me to use all of the disciplines that I love the most.
WD: And what is the Mohapi Method To More™ framework that forms the basis of the Consciously Creating programmes you offer as part of your coaching?
JMB: The Mohapi Method to More™ is my own unique way of working with my Private 1:1 Mentoring Clients, and as you say, it forms the basis of the Consciously Creating group coaching programme. Within the framework we look at who you are Being. It encompasses Mindset, Manifestation, and Energy Healing as we work through what changes you would like to make in your life. Underneath those three pillars, are six areas of focus: your vision of the future, money, your perception of self, your perception of the world, unapologetic self-love and self-acceptance, and emotional, energetic, and cognitive alignment. As every person is unique, no two mentoring experiences are the same. Each session is directed by the client’s needs but the outcome is always More peace-of-mind, More joy, More fulfilment, and as a result, More money shows up too.
WD: And would you say these are also core concepts in your book Habits for Happiness which I absolutely loved and have incorporated into my daily routine; I was particularly interested to learn about the idea of celebrating, and keeping a book of wins. Can you tell us more about why this is so important to do?
JMB: My book, Habits for Happiness is the very best first starting place for anybody new to personal development. Although certain practices within the book are part of exercises that I recommend to my clients, such as meditation, celebrating etc, the work in the Consciously Creating programme and my Private Mentoring is on a whole other level. The reason that it’s so important to celebrate and appreciate the steps along the journey is because it changes the frequency of your vibration. Everything is energy and our core vibration is what attracts things and experiences into our life. Our level of consciousness correlates to our core vibration so if we are living in a state of low consciousness such as fear, shame or guilt, we’ll attract things into our life that cause us to feel those same emotions. When we elevate our consciousness into that of love, acceptance, joy, or peace, we’ll attract more of things that will cause us to feel those emotions. When we celebrate ourselves, we show ourselves love and we experience joy, so the more that we can do this, the more our core frequency and level of consciousness will rise.
WD: So, for me the concept of Joseph Campbell’s “Follow your Bliss” is a central theme for my blog. Can you tell me how you interpret this and how it plays into your teachings and work?
JMB: I had to look up who Joseph Campbell was as I’d never heard of him before. The concept of following your bliss is something that I’m very familiar with though. The reason that any of us do anything is because we believe that we will be happier as a result of doing it. Often that can come from fear, ie, we do the thing or want the thing, because we don’t want to feel the pain of another choice, but that motivation doesn’t necessarily transcend into actually achieving the life you want because as soon you’re out of the immediate pain you’ve lost your motivation. When you’re pulled towards your bliss, your motivation becomes inspiration that will keep pulling you forwards. If you can embody what that bliss feels like now, you can quantum leap into manifesting the things that support that feeling and that life. Following your bliss is fundamental in everything I do.
WD: I am so happy to hear how you have overcome such difficult times and your joy for life and belief that we should all be fulfilling our potential is very inspiring, but do you have moments when you also feel you lose faith and how do you tap back into the right mindset?In particular how did you manage to stay the course with your dream of moving to Canada in the midst of a pandemic?
JMB: Absolutely! We’re all on the journey. I might be further along in many aspects than my clients, but working on my mindset is still something that I get to do. As I breakthrough levels I still need to fill myself up with love and self-worth so I maintain the new level. I get to observe all of my thoughts so I’m able to recognise where I might be judging myself instead of living with full allowing and acceptance. My days of losing faith don’t come very often now because I know that regardless of what’s going on, I’m mastering growth and expansion over my lifetime, not just in that moment. Ultimately though, I get to decide the person that I am, and Be that person.
Sometimes it does take a long time for the manifestation to materialise, and in cases like when we sold our house to move to Canada, it took over a year before we got here because planes were grounded and everywhere was in lockdown. Because we’d already sold the house and the new owners wanted to move in, we had to move into an AirBnB cottage until I received the necessary permits to enter Canada and we were allowed to fly. So I got to remember, time and time and time again that we would absolutely get there. I didn’t accept that there was another option. I reaffirmed every day that everything always works for me. I visualised time and time and time again the view from the apartment that we would rent. I got to feel into how it would feel to be here – and it all came true. The apartment we moved into was exactly as I had envisioned. We’d sold everything in the house and moved with two big suitcases and a small suitcase each, and this apartment was fully furnished down to towels, sheets, cutlery, crockery, and even a couple of blowdryers! We could literally move in and without having to buy anything that we needed. And the view … I visualised views of the city, water, and mountains, and that’s exactly what I got.
WD: I love how you visualised the view and how it came true! So what’s next for Janet M-B and the brand?
JMB: At the moment I’m doing an MBA which is a lot of work. I’m also running my group programmes, my private mentoring, and free coaching container and Masterclasses. The next free 3-day Masterclass series starts on Monday 9 August, and Consciously Creating, my 6-week group programme is starting on 25 August, and the private mentoring is ongoing, although due to the MBA, I’m only working with a limited number of people. When my MBA is finished in 2023, I plan on writing another book and growing my business to employ more people to share all I know about living with ease, abundance, and fulfilment. Thank you so much for having me, I look forward to seeing you in the Masterclass!
It was such a delight to interview Janet and I hope this has inspired you all to vibrate at a higher level in order to achieve your aims. It certainly has reinvigorated me to clear the blocks and to “Be” in tune with my core aims and true purpose. More on that to follow! 😉
Last week Thursday 22 April marked the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, and I am therefore delighted to feature my friend Cathy Mears-Martin, who is a passionate environmentalist, as my latest interviewee in my Inspiring Individuals series. Cathy and I met through Instagram and was wonderful to get the chance to meet up in person before lockdown took over our lives. Cathy left a successful career in advertising in 2019 to focus on her passion as an environmental campaigner. She has created a really excellent blog Simply Sustainable Ideas and is an ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy Ambassador and an Environmenstrual Ambassador for the Women’s Environmental Network. And in her quest to share her passion more widely she has just published a brilliant series of children’s books, the Eco Protection Squad (the Kindle version launched on Amazon last Thursday on Earth Day).
WD: Firstly, congrats on the launch of the book series, but before we get to that in more detail, can you tell us how your passion for working towards a cleaner planet began? And what made you leave your job to focus on it full-time?
CMM: Thank you Sangeeta. First, I would like to say I can’t believe we have known each other for over a year and how great to see how social media can really help build communities of like-minded people and help form real life friendships.
After travelling in Asia in 2016, I became more aware of single use waste. My first litter pick was at a waterfall in Cambodia and on the way back I paid more attention to the people burning rubbish on the side of the road because they did not have a rubbish collection system set up. When I returned to the UK, I began to research littering, recycling, and waste collection. We are in a country where we have systems in place to sort materials or pick up our waste. And yet I had never paid attention to what happened to it. I realised solutions included better education, awareness and understanding of product lifecycle and more circular economy and reusables vs single use. It essentially led me to a low waste lifestyle. I started an Instagram account about this to share tips with friends and family and a wider community started following me too.My approach has always been to educate and share options we have so you can make an informed decision. As a historian, I love facts and seeing how the past can influence our future for learning. So I include some fun, interesting, historical, and hopefully impactful facts about the topics discussed.
At the same time I was working as a project manager in advertising. When I was younger, I had set my personal work target to be earning a certain figure and being at a particular level for me to feel successful. As I hit my targets, I kept increasing them, and progressed to the level of Programme Director. But my work satisfaction started to change drastically in 2018 onwards. I began taking a step back from overall consumerism and over consumption…My favourite part of work was being co-head of the Green Team and creating challenges to get the company involved. I was struggling with aligning my home and life beliefs and knew I had to make a change as it wasn’t sustainable for me. I was working insanely long hours doing a job I no longer believed in. It wasn’t fair on me or the company I was working for. After a weekend at a family friends birthday weekend, I talked my thoughts out with my family and realised I needed to quit. I wasn’t happy working in an industry promoting buying the latest model and wanted to give myself a chance working in a job for a company that I knew cared for the environment and the future of our planet and race. So I quit. It was a hard decision but I felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders!
WD: I was attracted to your blog and Instagram posts as you approach the topic in a very grounded way, acknowledging that most people want to change how they live, but at times it can be overwhelming to know how to start and the information is not always that readily available. Can you explain the ethos of your blog? And what are your tips for people trying to change their daily habits.
CMM: My first piece of advice is to be easy on yourself and don’t get despondent with green guilt’. There is no such thing as being perfectly zero waste – everything we do has an impact. We just have to decide what that impact is. It can be positive, neutral or negative.The biggest thing I suggest though is taking responsibility for your actions, choices and ultimately your waste. You can make a difference and if you are not happy with a company sending you lots of plastic wrapping…tell that company. Petition the government, use your vote, speak up, talk about it with friends and family. We need to make a fuss that it isn’t normal or acceptable and companies must make changes to their production and care about the end of life of their products.
When swapping to a lower waste lifestyle, start small. Every single swap you make has an impact and it takes over a month for new habits to form. Start with a room – the kitchen or the bathroom for example – and slowly make changes there. For example, swapping out your shower gel for soaps or reusable body wash. Reusable cotton wipes, even the toilet paper you use. Remember though, the most sustainable item is the one you didn’t have to buy. So always see what you can reuse from your house. For example, those old towels you have lying around…they are great if you cut them up for cleaning rags / to replace paper towels.
We work hard for our money, so I would always suggest looking at the ethics and ethos of a company you purchase from – your money is your power so use it well and try support those companies or small businesses making a difference where you can.If this helps, my first swaps were my menstrual cup, shopping and produce bags, soaps, a reusable bottle and cup, cotton wipes to put toner on each morning, toilet paper and toothpaste tablets.
My later swaps include making more homemade food and packing lunch vs buying, choosing products based on their packaging (ideally loose and free or refillable), making my own cleaning products, repairing items and shopping second hand and even using a portable bidet (which I LOVE and recommend to everyone!)Even now, I am still making swaps at home. Not everyone in my household is on the same journey and that is ok. Overall, as a family we are still producing a lot less waste as a result. Plus, I petition my local MP on a regular basis to make changes, which is definitely something I recommend doing!
WD: Very helpful tips, thank you. And can you tell us more about your work with Keep Britain Tidy and litter-picking. A growing global movement, which as we have discussed before, I still find hard to fathom needs to be done. Why do people litter in the first place? I think the topic of a whole other post!
CMM: Completely agree with you – I could talk for hours about littering, recycling and Keep Britain Tidy a charity which I love so much so that I jumped at the opportunity to do a part time recycling role for them, and I had so much work satisfaction from it. I would basically talk to people about making changes to their recycling habits and found that a few people genuinely didn’t know what they were doing was contaminating the recycling load. Plastic bags would be added, food and drink, and even used nappies!
Keep Britain Tidy also work on some fantastic and insightful reports about consumer behaviours and why people may do things. Take recycling for example – some of the worst recyclers are those committed to recycling because they believe they know the rules and don’t update their knowledge. And in the UK recycling rules vary quite a bit from borough to borough or council to council. In Test Valley you can’t recycle yoghurt pots or clear plastic trays but in Southwark in London, you can recycle both of those PLUS there is a food composting scheme. And if you add to that packaging labels and the vast amount of different materials – there are 7 different classes of plastics – well, it doesn’t make it easy to understand.
Keep Britain Tidy also does some fascinating studies and work on littering. About 48% of people have admitted to littering which seems incredibly high. If you understand that littering also includes cigarette butts and chewing gum…well, that figure may make a bit more sense, despite how bad both those items are for us and the environment.Their Great British Spring Clean is going to kick off – from 23rd May – 13th June – and they are asking people to pledge to clean miles. Check out and sign up to their #MillionMileMission. If you are out on a walk, why not incorporate a litter pick and help keep your local area clean?
I know from experience that some people are under the impression that someone else will clean up after me. But it isn’t anyone else’s job to tidy up after the mess you make. You brought it, you take it – it is your responsibility as a person living on this planet to be mindful of your impact. You wouldn’t leave the rubbish in your living room – why are you leaving it in a public space. Have fun, enjoy a cheeky tinny in the park, just be respectful to those around you and keep spaces tidy for others.
Another thing to consider about rubbish and littering – have you ever been to a park with filled up bins and just tried to squeeze your ice cream wrapper in the edge? Well, what if the wind picks up? In your mind, it may be in a bin but in reality, it will float off in the breeze. What about those moments when it is a bit breezy and you take something out of your pocket or bag and an old receipt breaks loose? It isn’t as simple as saying everyone knowingly litters. Sometimes it is an accident. The majority of the time though I would say it was deliberate. So we need to raise awareness, build community spirit and help educate why we should all work together on reducing our waste and not littering.
WD: In my previous interview with Ocean Advocate Emily Penn, I touched on the idea of ‘sustainability work fatigue’ and frustration at the challenges you face. How do you deal with this?
CMM: Emily Penn is incredible. I was lucky enough to experience a couple of her events in London and have so much admiration for her. Yes, it is completely possible to experience this as it can be overwhelming, thinking about everything that needs to be done for humans to exist in the future. For them to experience the same wonders we are. That may sound fanciful and idealistic but at the end of the day, the planet doesn’t need us to survive. We need the planet.
A lot of litter pickers will mention their frustrations when they clear up an area only to return and for it to be messy again. I have a lot of respect for community and solo litter pickers, and litter pick myself. Sometimes you can make it fun and find some interesting or old items, even money. But most of the time it is the same rubbish, different day.
Honestly, when the thoughts spiral out of control, or I start to get depressed or tired about repeating the same message, I just remember that I have the luxury of time to research this. Not everyone does. I also focus on the wins, no matter how small. Even if it is one person making a positive comment or hearing a friend has made a sustainable swap. I focus on those wins, and I channel the frustrations to find new ways to reach other people.
WD : And now to the book series. I was so excited when you shared the initial concept with me and am still in awe of your creative genius coming up with this brilliant concept. Can you explain where the idea came from and tell us more about the Eco Protection Squad and the Eco Squashers.
CMM: Thank you, that’s so kind of you to say. I am so thankful you enjoyed it once you saw some of the initial ideas for the story too. I was so nervous sharing outside my family. This is my eco baby for sure. I had quit my job in December 2019 and was in America visiting my husband for a month before returning to real life and looking for a job. I was chatting to my mother-in-law about struggling to find a bigger way to appeal to more people and educate them about swaps and changes. I had realised that many people wanted to live more sustainability but didn’t know what that meant or how to go about it. And I was in a sustainable bubble – listening to people who were sharing similar tips I was in different ways.My MiL works with autistic children and mentioned how they have emotions characterised to help them understand their feelings and how to then manage them. It was a total EURIKA moment, and I started characterising the issues surrounding waste.
Welcome Single-Use Sally, the first character I created, followed by Danny Do Gooder and Plastic-free Prival. It took a while to come up with the team names and some of the other characters. And the likelihood is I will keep adding to the character list. But now I have an idea that makes it easier to understand the issues and presents them in a classic good vs bad adventure story. Think Paws Patrol meets Mr Men having tea with Captain Planet and Octonauts.
These characters follow me EVERYWHERE! And it was vital to me in creating my characters that I also present a diverse and inclusive team. Teamwork is important to help solve the climate crisis and everyone has their own set of special skills. I wanted people to love these characters and see ones that they can relate to.Meet the Eco Protection Squad. A team of super kids helping save Terra, Mother Earth, from Bill McGreedy and his band of Eco Squashers. The first adventure takes place in a park and tackles littering as well as recycling in a fun way. The second book will tackle what we flush down the loo.
It was important to me when creating my stories that I give back as well. I donate 100 copies of any story to the Eco Schools programme, 50p from every sale goes to a charity working to educate about the waste topic and 50p goes to Carbon Footprint projects.I also self-published the book because I wanted to control the supply chain to know I was supporting sustainable companies and no single use plastic is used! I visited the printing company to visually check their credentials for example.
I have to give a huge shout out to my mum – she is the one who has to pack and post any orders that go out! My mum is incredible, and I don’t know if I would have made this a success without her support and belief in these stories. My husband too. The person who sees my downs and my highs, my partner and confidant when things are tough or I need to talk out ideas and new approaches. He is my guinea pig haha!
WD: As you know at the heart of my Inspiring Individual series is reminding people of the concept Following your Bliss (as coined by Joseph Campbell). You are certainly doing this, but I would love to know what this means for you personally and why you think its important that people put passion and purpose in their work?
CMM: Great question. If you had asked me 2 years ago if I was following my passion, I would have said yea, of course. I’m good at what I do and I enjoy the role. But that isn’t passion. Now when people ask me I know what it means to be passionate about what I am doing. The fire in my belly when I wake up in the morning, hoping to make a difference to just 1 person. The drive to get up and focus my time and energy on something I believe in, something that I know will make a difference. The thought that if I had to stop doing this, I would be devastated. It motivates me. It invigorates me. I have a message to share so I need to get a wiggle on and share it!
In our current climate though, believe that I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to follow my passion. Not everyone has that luxury, and that is something I am always aware of and remember. So I want to make sure I use the most of my luxury to make it matter.
WD: So what does the future hold for the Eco Protection Squad, and for you?
CMM: Hopefully it is a bright future! There are so many stories in the works and I want to make audio versions as well as animations in order to spread the message as far as possible and make it as accessible for kids to read / hear / watch. I want to get a copy of each book in every school in the UK, if not the world and create bespoke stories for countries.
I want to make a difference to our planet and leave it better than it was when I was born. I want to educate others about what we can do to save Terra, reduce waste and live better. To work together to build back better. To create businesses and homes and enjoy activities that think about the lifecycle of any products associated.
Most of all, I want a future for any children, grand children and future generations, to be able to experience the beauty this planet has. To value differences and to enjoy nature and wildlife. To appreciate how lucky we are. Terra Mater Est.
It was such a delight to interview Cathy – and its the longest piece posted in my Inspiring Individuals series, but I wanted to share all of her passion and ideas with you all so nothing has been edited or trimmed! I hope it helps you as you embark on your own sustainability journey and making wiser choices for the greater good of the planet and humanity.
Love Sangeeta x
Note: You can buy the paperback and eBook version of the Eco Protection Squad Go To The Park here or find it on kindle here or visit Cathy’s blog
As we kick off a brand new year (and the start of the UN Decade of the Ocean), for my latest Inspiring Individuals interview, am delighted to feature the incredible Emily Penn who embodies the concept of following passion and purpose and who was recently commended in the New Year’s Honours List with a British Empire Medal.
I first discovered Emily’s work when I went to the London Ocean Drinks networking event, soon after returning from my Cayman (mis) adventure. The event was for likeminded people to meet and collaborate and was just what I needed to pick me up from my recent career disappointment. I was fascinated to learn about the work of eXXpedition a not-for-profit organisation which Emily co-founded and which runs pioneering all-female sailing research expeditions to investigate the causes of and solutions to ocean plastic pollution.
Founded in 2014, eXXpedition has run expeditions all over the world. The issue of microplastics within our ocean environments has become an increasingly major issue, and eXXpedition’s focus now is to advance a better understanding of the plastics issue as a whole and to work with industry to pinpoint solutions and policy at a global level by addressing knowledge-gaps and delivering evidence to inform effective solutions. In October 2019, they launched eXXpedition Round the World – with 300 multidisciplinary women sailing across 30 voyages over a two-year period.
Unfortunately as a result of the global pandemic, the voyage had to pause last year, but allowed Emily and her team to launch a tech platform called SHiFT which educates and empowers us to make the right choices.
I was intrigued to learn more about how Emily developed her passion for the oceans and creating an enterprise to try to change that.
WD : Thank you Emily for taking time to speak to WD and congratulations on the launch of shift.how and your British Empire Medal. Can you explain how your love for the oceans and environmental work first started. Did you have a day job or did you fall straight into this out of university?
EP: My journey to tackle plastic pollution began over 10 years ago, when I hitch-hiked around the world on a biofueled boat to get to a new job in Australia. It was a job I didn’t end up taking. Instead, shocked by finding plastic in some of the most remote places on our planet, I chose to live on a group of Pacific islands for six months to organise a community clean-up. I then travelled to California to learn more from some of the experts in the field of ocean plastic. Since then, my career has been dedicated to raising the profile of ocean plastic pollution, and has taken me all over the world facilitating science at sea, outreach and the implementation of solutions on land. In 2014, I co-founded eXXpedition – organising all-women sailing voyages with a focus on plastic and toxic pollution in the ocean. And last year, I launched the SHiFT platform to help people navigate hundreds of impactful solutions to ocean plastic pollution, finding the ones that are best for them.
WD: And can you tell us a little more about shift.how. When I first heard you speak I Ioved your idea of everyone having a ‘superpower’ – is this how we can claim it – by making a difference where we can?
EP: The idea behind the SHiFT Platform is to use innovative technology to help users find their role and use their superpower to tackle ocean plastic pollution. By navigating hundreds of impactful solutions from sea to source, users can find the ones that are best for them to action.
The more time I spend at sea, the more I realise the solutions to plastic pollution start on land. There’s no silver bullet to solve the problem but there are hundreds of ways to tackle it. A big challenge for many people is knowing where to start. That’s why I first developed the SHiFT methodology- a journey of discovery to help people understand the crux of a problem and weigh up where they have the biggest opportunity to make an impact. For years I’ve been using this methodology in my workshops and sailing expeditions and it’s really effective. Working with individuals, businesses and governments around the world, it’s helped them pinpoint where to take action and inspire others to follow.
But for lasting impact we need scale – to be able to help the tens of thousands of people and businesses that reach out saying “I care, I get it, I want to do something!”. Thanks to our partners at SAP, we’ve brought the SHiFT method to digital life as the SHiFT Platform. Now we’ve got a way to help them… and many more, accelerating the journey towards a healthy ocean.
WD: We are witnessing a global movement where people want to inject more purpose into their lives, and the pressing issue of climate change is very much the topic on most people’s minds. What is your advice for people who have jobs in other areas, but still wish to get involved in helping the environment?
EP: It is billions of microactions that got us into this situation with ocean plastic, and it’s billions of microactions that will solve the problem. Just get started by taking small steps – it will all add up!
SHiFT.how lists hundreds of ways you can make personal changes to have an impact so I’d encourage people to explore the platform to find the actions that are best for them.
As well as our personal actions, we need to be working as far upstream as we possibly can. The behaviour and actions of you and I as individuals are very important, but we also need to also be talking about the role of industry. How can we redesign our products? How can we redesign our systems in society? And, how can we legislate those both to incentivise industry to do it in the first place, and also so that we can sustain positive changes long-term?
To create change, we need to look at our own skill sets and work out how we can apply them to tackling our global problems, like ocean plastic. Businesses and governments are made of individuals after all!
WD: There is also an increasing amount of ‘Sustainability overwhelm’ and frustration: I guess self-care must come into your routine, how do you combat the fatigue and frustrations.
EP: Absolutely – we’ve got to keep our minds fresh and invigorated to keep at it every day! For me I need to keep reminding myself why I care so much about the natural world. And so immersing myself in nature is key – I continue to be inspired by watching the way light bounces off the water, surrounded by a mesmerising pink sky, the feel of salty spray on my skin. I love to get my sketchbook out to capture these moments as it immerses me further.
WD: The core messaging for my series of Inspiring Individual posts is to explore the idea of Follow your Bliss as coined by Joseph Campbell. Does this concept resonate with how you have led your life and the work you do?
EP: My work has always been driven by following my heart, along with my passion for the ocean. I wake up each day ready to work on whatever feels the most important thing to do that day. I’m much better at committing my time now, but in the early days of my career I kept myself very free from commitments so I could follow my bliss every hour of the day and every day of the week!
WD: So, what is next for eXXpedition and for you in 2021?
EP: Like everyone around the world we’re working hard to adapt to these changing times! We’ve had to cancel our at-sea missions and we’re putting our energy into creating change differently.
Working with our partners we’ve got some exciting digital tools and initiative launches on the horizon, to build on our work with www.SHiFT.how.
There is still a huge amount that can be done remotely and without physical meetups and we’re seeing a lot of energy and enthusiasm from our community who are collaborating on projects from all corners of the world. While many convenience driven actions that have contributed to ocean plastics (like disposable coffee cups and water bottles) are likely to be reduced during these times of social isolation, there’s a huge amount of single use plastic used in the medical sector so only time will tell what impact Covid will ultimately have on the state of our oceans.
WD: Thank you so much Emily for speaking to me and for inspiring us to make a difference and to re-claim our own super-powers in order to do so!
Happy new year all! Here’s to a wonderful 2021 and new decade of inspiring ocean action!
In the third of my series of Inspiring Individuals interviews, and as we head into the new year, I am thrilled to feature my good friend and success coach, Rachel Letham. I met Rachel nearly ten years ago at a press party, when I was running an accessory business, with my now ex-husband, and she had an online fashion and lifestyle magazine, LadyM Presents. In addition to the magazine, Rachel had a very successful board level corporate career in the food industry. Indeed she was listed in Management Today’s top women under 35 in business in the UK for 2015.
I was immediately struck at how dynamic she was and in awe of how she juggled the demands of a high-pressured job with her side passion of writing about fashion, and how she seemed to manage these diverse strands with such ease. It was, as I grew to learn from her, only possible, through sacrifice, strict discipline and being highly organised!
Kindred souls in our quest to pursue all of our passions, we quickly became friends. In 2018, Rachel launched her success coaching business and I was honoured that she asked me to be one of her first test clients. As someone who is on a personal journey to discover and unleash my own potential, I am delighted to feature Rachel on the blog to explore how best we can all do that as we embark upon a new year and indeed a new decade.
: Firstly, congratulations on the launch of Rachel Letham, Success Coaching!
Can you tell us how you decided to move into this area?
RL : Roughly two years ago I reached a point in my career
where I realised something had to give – I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and I
wanted to do something else. I was on
holiday when I received an email with the subject said “So you want to be a coach”
and I said out loud – “YES!” I realised that was what I wanted to do and by the
end of the day I’d bought the domain name for my website and was coming up with
I trained as a Certified Coach with Mindful Talent and now coach ambitious business professionals who seek growth in their business whilst creating their own version of work-life balance. As the training company name suggests, everything was with a ‘mindful’ approach and I became more aware of myself, how little time I was spending on mindfulness, living in the moment or any notion of self care. The only thing I really did for self care was a lot of running and drinking my favourite drinks, coffee and wine! Not really conducive to a healthy lifestyle. As I studied, listened to podcasts, started to practice meditation and jumped on the Miracle Morning bandwagon – I became hooked on self care.
WD: I am also interested to understand better, how in the midst of a very successful corporate career, you decided to launch an online fashion magazine, and then to train as a coach. Surely you could have felt perfectly satisfied with what you had achieved in your corporate life, as I understand it you loved your day job, so it wasn’t that which motivated you to pursue other interests?
RL: I think I have always has a bit of an entrepreneurial blood in my body. The online fashion and lifestyle magazine started as a blog in my spare time when my boyfriend at the time had moved to China for work and I had more spare time on my hands. I always loved writing and this was when blogging had just got going – I didn’t know what to write about and as I worked in quite a male dominated environment – I decided to wear a dress to work each day for a week, photograph it and write about it. A chance encounter at London Fashion Week as a blogger led me to get involved in the “off schedule” shows – so less of the main stream brands and more up and coming designers and I created a niche for writing and supporting these designers – which even took me to New Zealand Fashion Week three times.
was really my hobby – I didn’t see it as another job, it was a passion of mine
that I wanted to express and I loved the creativity of it. Building my own brand LadyM Presents and
showcasing other brands on social media got businesses asking me how I could
help them and my business journey sort of escalated from there. I have always
wanted to help others to grow and perhaps this is where my passion for personal
development comes from. Having other
passions outside of my corporate career meant that I wasn’t solely focused on
the day job 24/7 – since it was quite intense so the writing was my release.
WD: So, how does success coaching help people to see their true potential and step out of their comfort zone?
RL: My coaching is all about asking powerful questions. I believe that everyone has the potential to achieve whatever they set out to achieve – it is all within them. It is just sometimes not found yet, it’s hiding under their day job or their fears. I help people gain clarity and a sense of direction by asking them powerful questions, getting them to think bigger and wider and helping them step out of their comfort zone so that they can grow, learn and develop. As a coach I work with my clients to help them build a route map to success – tiny steps to achieve their goals and I help them navigate this journey which to do on your own can be overwhelming. I work with my clients on positive mindset, mindfulness and self care so that they can create their ideal lives and be living the life they want whilst they create the business or career that they deserve.
And what advice do you have for people who are not ready or cannot commit to
working with a success coach. Are there small steps or changes they can make to
start to find their true purpose?
RL: You have to be ready to do the work and invest time and energy into yourself. There is work that you can do yourself such as journalling; asking yourself specific questions to understand what you are really passionate about. Thinking about what your perfect week looks like and what it entails and then thinking about the inspired action steps you can take to get there. I think it takes longer when going it alone and we don’t challenge ourselves as much.
Building a routine of self care and mindfulness can also help. This means that you are spending more time thinking about your own well being – filling your own cup before helping others and this can renew your energy, your mindset and make you think clearer.
I know from working with you that mindfulness and self-care is a big part of
the approach you take to coaching. Is this why you launched the Self Care
Survival Kit Deck of Cards? Where did this idea come from and what is the
practical benefit for people using such a tool?
RL: I became hooked on self care as part of my coaching training and practice and reading a lot more around the concept of mindfulness. I realised that my own self care practice was opening myself up to more opportunities for success and I felt that it was an important part of my journey.
I decided to start writing a weekly newsletter to my followers last year, the Self Care Survival Kit. I share positive mindset concepts and two tips on how to bring self care into your life easily, at low cost and open to all. Now in the interest of my own self care, I send this out twice a month. I soon realised that once the email was sent – that was it – the tips were out in the ether but nowhere else. So by creating the Self Care Survival Kit Deck of Cards it meant that people have access to my self care tips all the time, at home, when travelling etc. I wanted to be able to make self care easy for people to do and to delve into. It is 52 cards covering easy to implement self care tips covering mind, body and soul – no bowing to Buddha or requiring too much investment – this is about looking at the tips, what resonates with you at a certain time and taking some time out of your day to practice self care.
care isn’t something you do once and tick off the list; The key to success is
consistency and repetition of many beneficial tiny habits, which together
soothe you and make sure you are working to your optimum— emotionally,
physically and mentally.
am on a mission to normalise self care; to make it a positive habit, to take
the stigma of it being a “selfish
act” and to bring it into the mainstream. I’m a wellness warrior who wants to
make self care the standard. Despite reaching a global audience on a weekly
basis, I still have to remind myself to jump off the treadmill every now and
again and to practice what I preach.
As you know, the concept of Follow your Bliss as coined by Joseph Campbell
plays a huge part in my life, is this an idea that you subscribe to and if so,
what does it mean to you?
RL: For me, Follow your Bliss is very much inline with my own mantra that I live by. I want to live a balanced and inspired life on my own terms. This is something that I use to guide decision making about what I spend my time and money doing and where I take my business and personal life. The inspiration element is definitely where I find my bliss and I think with balance comes bliss – it is unique to ourselves. I have a lot of people who talk to me about how “work-life balance” is a myth, something that is unachievable, I like to work with my clients to see how they can create their own version of balance that is important to them. It isn’t the same for everyone and therefore it is important to work out what is right for you and I find it is always evolving too.
WD: Do you have a five-year plan? And if so, can you share with us what you would like to achieve next?
RL: Eek! Actually despite being a business coach, I am rather averse to a 5 year plan. If anyone ever said to me “where do you see yourself in 5 years time”? I would usually shrivel up a little and avoid the question. I like to set my intentions for the year ahead and have a plan of what I would like to achieve – it is all moving towards an overall vision and plan, but I also think that in order to feel success, that the plan has to be dynamic, open to change and something that we don’t strive to reach is perfection.
2020 sees me become a mum for the first time, so my mantra of living a balanced and inspired life may change a little for the first few months, however it is important to me and my values to keep growing, to keep being inspired and I am looking forward to seeing how the year evolves. I have plans to turn the Self Care Survival Kit into a book and I would also love to host a retreat before the end of the year – so watch this space!
For the second interview in my Inspiring Individuals series, I am delighted to feature Royal Artist Darren Baker. Rising to fame in 2011, following a wonderful portrait he was commissioned to paint of Her Majesty The Queen to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion, Darren has become incredibly sought for his photo-realism style. His talent is unmistakable, however as with Atila who I featured for my first interview in the series, my respect for Darren as an artist lies not just due to his skill, but also the humility in which he practises his craft and how he tirelessly gives back to mental health causes following a personal tragedy. I was therefore delighted he took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to talk to The White Diaries.
“WD : How did you discover your talent as anartist?
When I was 3 or 4 year old and family and friends started noticing my drawing. I recall quite vividly drawing a cityscape of London and Big Ben, and the school teacher at primary school and class all gathered round and stuck the drawing on the wall….my first exhibition!!
WD : During your journey were there times when you thought you would have to do something else, and what would that have been?
I never thought about being anything but an artist.
WD : How would you best describe your style of painting? And how has that evolved over the years?
I am inspired by the Italian renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age of painting. I would study the old masters endlessly at The National Gallery. I wanted my art to be more real than real. My work has evolved tremendously over the last 20 years, a constant quest to perfect and refine my style.
WD : What has been the highlight of your career to date?
Getting verified on Instagram!!…..No, it was meeting and painting HM The Queen obviously. I had 2 sittings with Her Majesty in 2011, one in May, one in June. I was given access to the room beforehand and a month prior. All her staff are very down to earth and friendly. It was momentous actually meeting The Queen, nothing quite prepares you for it. I distinctly remember her coming down The Queen’s Gallery, I could hear her famous distinct voice, and then there she was in front of me! I was bricking it but she is impeccable at putting people at ease. The conversation was very relaxed after the formalities and I remember thinking I’m hardly getting any drawing done here! I remember talking about my pet pug with HM and she mentioned her great great grandmother (Queen Victoria) and her love of pugs. Thats when the history and magnitude of it all hits you. I thought about going down the Tommy Cooper route and asking for her cup final tickets, but thought better of it. I think my portrait was well received, well I am not in the Tower, and I had nice feedback from the secretaries and press in general. When I was leaving after the 2nd sitting I remember unplugging my spotlight from a socket. I turned the switch off then read a label underneath that said ‘ under no circumstances do not switch this socket off ever’….too late!…I still don’t know what havoc I caused!
WD : What are the goals you have set yourself for the next five years?
The sky is not the limit!! I have never had a plan, just wing it and keep trying to do the best with my art and life in general. I have been fortunate to be commissioned to paint The Queen, Popes, Prime Ministers and various leading sports personalities. So who knows what other future historical portraits I may paint. I am very keen to give back and love supporting The Princes Trust, such an immense organisation and I have seen first hand the transformation affected on young people, giving confidence and belief. I am enjoying setting up the online art platform www.artlondondubai.com and giving emerging artists an opportunity to exhibit and sell their work. Promoting quality art and better access to it in a friendly and un-intimidating way is the principle. Treating artists fairly and ethically and giving them more control and greater slice of the sale is paramount too. We have over 600 artworks now and growing and the gallery is slowly getting established. In the future I may well open another London or even a New York gallery one day.
WD : How important is it that people follow their bliss and have you seen people who haven’t and what has that meant for them?
Do what makes yourself happy and believe in yourself always, never shake from that, and nothing or no-one can stop you. I really believe its important not to live a life of regrets…you get one life…go for it!!! I think it is so important, if you can, to DO what makes you content and happy, this bounces off on those around you and the goodwill and positivity is then contagious. I understand people following a safe and secure path but if this is not your true love or passion you will always feel some emptiness, of what life could be. And embrace your passion with those around you family and friends and give back where you have been helped, remember how you started and stay humble. Your happiness in your work can affect so many lives and most importantly loved ones and those who you are working for…and remember balance and perspective and to enjoy the success and moments always.
WD : Your work with mental health and the Leanne Baker Trust is very important to you, can you tell us more about this and do you think following your bliss helps people with these type of challenges?
I lost my sister Leanne to depression and her mental health issues and there is a huge hole that can never be filled. But channelling the grief into helping others in my sisters name is my ultimate driving force. We all miss Leanne so much and we set up the Leanne Baker Trust to try and help others hopefully not go through the pain we have suffered. Leanne took her own life and hung herself a week before she was due to get married and was setting up her first home with her fiancé. She had struggled with depression for many years but seemed to have turned a corner in the eyes of our family and friends. But the condition resurfaced in 2013 and she sunk further into a dark place. Despite 24/7 supervision from family and friends, counselling and support and medication…she sadly ended it all on 2 June 2013. It was the most horrifying and traumatic phone call I ever received and the pain was and still is unbearable.
The shock and pain of suicide is heartbreaking and so hard to cope with and absorb, ever We wanted to do something positive in Leanne’s name as she was such a outwardly positive person….kind and generous to the extreme and so loved by so many.We work hand in hand with mental health charity Support 2 Recovery, who offer art and creativity as a form of helping people with mental health issues express their feelings and socialising. As an artist myself, I am convinced of the positive power of art as an expression and to help people talk about their feelings. This year I am engaging with NHS Mental health to look at art programmes in mental health hospitals, providing courses and resources. As well as raising funds towards this one of our key aims is to raise awareness of mental health in general, end the stigma and create environments and a culture where it is properly discussed, without fear of recrimination. In the 21st century we are finally talking about the one thing that affects all all and is of the greatest importance to our behaviour and well-being, our minds and mental health.
I am passionate about widening the conversation and ending stigmatisation about this condition. This issue is so important and is about saving and recovering lives, and overall well being, the way we act and behave as a society, opening up instead of closing down. Bringing people and society together and realising what is really important in life.
Follow your dreams and passions always, what makes you happy and also giving back and making others happy. Live for today, in the moment right now, life is precious and beautiful. “
It was an absolute honour to interview Darren and appreciated his candour in sharing both the highs and lows he has experienced. You can read more about Darren and see his beautiful work : http://www.darrenbakerfineart.co.uk/
And visit https://artminddinner.com/ for more information about a fabulous mental health charity fundraiser being held on 3 October in Kensington Palace in London to support The Leanne Baker Trust as well as Movember.
As explained in my previous post I am a huge fan of the work of Joseph Campbell and the idea that if we don’t ‘follow our own bliss’, we are somehow doing ourselves and others a disservice. With that in mind I want to embark on a journey learning from others who have managed to do this, and hope we can all glean some inspiration from their stories.
I am therefore delighted to feature Atila Huseyin as my first interviewee. Atila is a fabulously talented and sartorially stylish British/Turkish Jazz singer who I first heard sing at Basoon Bar at the Corinthia Hotel in London. Atila’s interpretations of the American Songbook are internationally renowned, and take their influence from early Frank Sinatra.
As a huge Sinatra fan I was blown away by how uncannily similar Atila’s voice was to the maestro’s, although what I loved even more was that Atila made the songs his own, no copycat or karaoke versions here. I have since seen Atila perform many times and we have also become friends. Not only is he supremely talented, but he has retained a sense of humility which I think no doubt comes from his faith and family. Atila regularly performs throughout the UK, has been on several TV shows and recorded advertisements for many international companies including Emirates airline in 2012. I am thrilled he took some time out of his very busy schedule to share his story with me and WD readers.
WD : When did you first discover your passion for singing?
Atila : I began music professionally when I was 12 with a local big band ‘Young Jazz’run by Phil Reven’s. I started by playing the saxophone but I had always been a fan of the American song book and really loved the lyrics of the songs, I don’t know how a 14 year old could connect with a lyric in this way, but something just ticked inside when I would listen to these songs. Anyway we were performing at a private garden party and everyone had gone inside to eat, so I decided to try to sing with the rhythm section behind me after the gig had finished. I didn’t even know if I could sing, but I just got up and did it – at the time I was really into Chet Baker’s rendition of Time after Time and so that was the song I sang. And as I sang, people stopped eating and trickled out, and suddenly the whole garden became full, and I realised that my voice must have some appeal and that was when I discovered the passion I have for singing.
WD: When did you get your big break?
With all the successes and opportunities I have been presented I am always striving for more and other ways of how I can better myself, so I believe I’m yet to receive my big break however am very grateful and humbled for all the steps that have brought me up to this point in my career.
WD: What were the main obstacles you faced?
I discovered early on I was the odd one out at school. I was hugely into the music and culture of the 50s (people just don’t write songs like this anymore) whilst my contemporaries were into the popular music of the 90’s. It is hard as a young kid to be different, but looking back, I am now glad that I was and stuck to my true self, as it helped me develop my own individual style.
WD: Talking of which you have a very distinct fashion style. Where did that originate?
The fashion aspect plays a big part in the overall performance, if you look your best you are going to feel and sound your best. But I have always had a love for elegant dressing and this job allows me to indulge in a passion for looking sartorially stylish. Well I try ..
WD: Are you familiar with the concept of Follow your Bliss and how has that played a part in your life?
Well I guess following one’s bliss is ultimately to attain complete happiness. I always think of it like this… if one is grateful for both the good and bad things that life throws their way, then will one never be less than happy. Therefore I believe following your bliss is really showing gratitude in all that life throws your way.
WD: How did you stay motivated and deal with discouragement?
Being a jobbing singer – I do a lot of live performances and that can take its toll emotionally and physically and I don’t get to see my family as much as I would like to. On the other hand I am doing this for my family so it takes the edge off the pain when I remind myself of that.
WD: What would you say was the highlight of your career?
Atila : Meeting and touring with the legendary Buddy Greco who as you know was a contemporary of Sinatra’s. We were in Cyprus doing a gig for a Russian billionaire and I was getting frustrated that no-one was really listening to me sing and expressed my frustration to Buddy who gave me some advice which I have never forgotten. He said early in his career he was performing to an audience who eventually started throwing darts at him, but he hid behind the double bass. He very jestingly said that he could hear the darts sticking into the bass whilst hiding behind it. He mentioned to me that he worked through it by reminding himself that he was ‘just paying his dues’, and that’s what I think about now, when I am tired and feel dejected, that ‘I am paying my dues’ and that my big break will come.
WD:Love that idea, about accepting the process, it being about the journey as much as the destination. Would you agree?
Atila : Yes, success is a journey and not so much the outcome, after all the doing is more important than the outcome and just like the earth undergoes a vigorous process to carve the most perfect diamond, the difficulties found in the journey through life, coupled with humility, often has a way of carving the most perfect of characters.
WD: And finally, what is the ultimate dream?
The goal would be to get a recording contract and to get my albums out to a wider audience. But even if that doesn’t happen, I am still very content – I do what I love every day and am looking after my family in the process. That is the ultimate goal, so in that respect I have already made it.
I loved interviewing Atila and wish him all the success in the world.
You can find out more about Atila including his performance schedule here. And if want to listen to him check out this video.
Core to the mission statement for my blog is the philosophy of Joseph Campbell and I wanted to share how this has reflected in my own life.
Over twenty years ago I started to work as a trainee for one of the magic circle law firms and I remember how I couldn’t withhold the excitement of being admitted to this exclusive world – beating the competition and working for one of the best law firms in the world. And I really enjoyed what I did, but as the years passed, I realised that there was another side of me – the creative spark which I had always had from an early age, but which I had suppressed and which refused to stay quiet. In my spare time therefore I set up a business and learnt on the job how to do PR and Marketing and the passion for this slowly, but surely, took over the desire to be a lawyer.
As mentioned previously, am a huge fan of the work of Joseph Campbell and believe one of his key messages ‘Follow your bliss’ sums up succinctly what we all should be striving for and how we are doing a disservice not just to ourselves but to others if we don’t follow our bliss.
Now that doesn’t mean we just do what we like or what makes us happy on a frivolous level, but that instead we hone in to what our deepest desires and innate talents are and we follow this path, whether its in law, medicine, the arts or teaching. You do what makes your spirit soar and where you are adding the most back to others.
Sounds like a lofty ideal? But think about it those individuals who are not happy in what they do in their daily jobs and how their misery affects not just themselves but the others around them. And then think of those who are pursuing their goals and the light that shines within them and onto others.
I might not have figured it all out yet, and am still on the journey to finding my own true bliss, but I will try, that I can promise you.
And part of this journey for me is to learn about others who have managed to do this, and so decided to dedicate a part of this blog to them, under my new Inspiring Individuals section. I hope you will enjoy hearing their stories and that they inspire you in a little way too to do the same.