2017 Reading List Pt 1: Personal Growth Optional

The power of applied wisdom gained through what we read and listen to, is potentially phenomenal.

Recently I referred to my latest reading in an Instagram post which resulted in quite a few people getting in touch to enquire further.  As a result, despite it feeling quite personal, I have decided to share the first four books I’ve been reading this year.

Good tea and a good book

Reading with the purpose of growing is an individual choice to UPDATE our ‘default settings’.  As with our personal phones, if we choose not to UPDATE, our ‘device’ can only ever continue to operate at the level of the original factory settings. It will still be the same amazing device, but we just can’t do anything new with it.

‘Human-being updates’ aren’t anything we are offered externally, so unless we deliberately seek out improvements, change is not going to happen.

With that said, here’s Januarys’ reading list.



The Untethered Soul, Michael A Singer.

First read five years ago and then again at the start of 2017.  This book has been a game changer both times I’ve read it.  Highlights everywhere.  May just re-read in February!







The Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav.  

Appeared in the ‘you might like this’ at the end of Untethered Soul and will require reading numerous times, simply to take it all onboard.  Talks about aligning the personality, with the soul and learning to tune-in to the other senses we have that are beyond our five physical senses.  Need to be in the right head space for this book in order to be able to think and process as you read.





A Year of Yes


A Year of Yes, Shonda Rimes.

A little bit OTT for me but a fast-paced easy read.  Finished in just over a day.  Didn’t require much ‘leaning-in’ which was a good change after the above two books.  Not many highlights but an insightful read from the woman who is responsible for writing thousands of TV hours. (Writes the script for Greys Anatomy which is my guilty pleasure as and when I want to watch something).

You might enjoy if you want a gentle challenge.



What I know for sure


What I know for Sure, Oprah Winfrey.

Soulful book written in one-to-two page bite-sized chapters.  Another easy read but more relaxed pace than ‘A year of YES’.  Enjoyed identifying with Oprahs’ delight in the simple pleasures of everyday life.  Some little take-away pearls of wisdom from a remarkable woman.







Bit of a different post this week, but given my passion for synergy in daily life, had to share as certainly the first two books, have shaped my January so much.

It’s worth remembering that our understanding of a book is such based on our lifes ‘ narrative at the time.  A book is never understood by two people the same according to our inner processing when the words leave the page and enter our being.  Hope you enjoy!



Salts Mill

Salts Mill quite frankly, has more credentials than most.  Set in World Heritage site Saltaire, West Yorkshire, this Grade II listed building possibly needs no introduction.    Whilst I could dive into the history that makes this place remarkable, it’s possibly of greater interest to answer the bottom line ‘why would I go?’.

Salts Mill 31

Until about six years ago (we have since moved further away), we would frequent Salts Mill fairly regularly; the reason for which ultimately can probably be reduced to one word,

S P A C E.

Salts Mill 1

It’s clear from the exterior that this is a huge building.  A mill in its past life, now predominantly known as the place showcasing Hockney (rather famous artist); whilst the Galleries are a pull for the tourists, it is more the lifestyle facilities which had us returning every few weeks owing to their setting inside so much space.

A bike shop, diner, HOME store, coffee shop, books and many other independent retailers offer something for everyone.

Salts Mill 2


Salts Mill is a place you can spend half a day indoors. For anyone with family or friends wanting to go somewhere for a ‘nice afternoon out’ (very English saying) and owing to not especially being able to rely on the weather – it’s a great place to explore and is exactly the reason we’d go many a Sunday afternoon.

Salts Mill 27Salts Mill 25

There’s an extensive book shop you can roam freely with your prams and Gram’s whilst not feeling short on space, (I think there’s very few places you can do that).  This book shop is the kind you’d pick up a book to buy even if you don’t read – there’s quite literally something for everyone.


Salts Mill 5

Salts Mill 26

They clearly have a great buying team, we’ve purchased many over the years.  I have fond memories of our little Lady wandering amongst the shelves and sitting at these very tables and chairs pretending to read.

Salts Mill 6

Salts Mill 16The diner, again, has oodles of space – it was quiet when I visited early in the morning last week and didn’t stop for food, but have visited on days where almost every table is taken.  Regardless, there is always a pleasant vibe with great service and food.

Salts Mill 15Salts Mill 13Salts Mill 14

For those wanting to learn more about its history, there’s evidence and artefacts of its former life seen on many of the walls.

Salts Mill 9

Salts Mill 11 Salts Mill 8 Salts Mill 10 Salts Mill 23

Salts Mill houses one of the largest collections in the world of David Hockney art.  I’ll admit, whenever we’ve been in the past I’ve never been particularly ‘into’ his pictures that are everywhere, however, a new addition to my previous visits is the Gallery on the top floor.  It had me at the sign below.

Salts Mill 24

In a few words Hockney and, therefore, Salts Mill are talking our children’s language.  Forty-nine ink-jet prints adorn the walls all created within a six month period.  Though you are allowed to take photos, I was told no full images can be shown on the blog so for that purpose have edited them.  It is quiet remarkable the sheer volume this man has and is producing and more importantly, how he’s evolving with the current times as an individual.  My daughter visited with school last year and said they loved the top floor gallery.

Salts Mill 19 Salts Mill 21Salts Mill 20Salts Mill 22

Finally, perhaps my favourite space is the lower floor 1853 gallery.  It is simply a beau-tiful room.  Brick ceiling, huge vases (Burmantofts pottery) and thoughtfully displayed books, journals, cards and art supplies are a most pleasant shopping experience.

Salts Mill 29Salts Mill 30 Salts Mill 32 Salts Mill 33

It is quite unthinkable that this building would have faced dereliction after its closure (1980’s) were it not for the insight of a local entrepreneur who saw opportunity in the premises!  This cultural landmark has not only been preserved to showcase the past, but to point towards the future.  It is not a museum, it does not require YOU to fit IT, rather it invites people of all ages to come just as they are.  In return, sends each away with their own unique experience thanks to that forward-thinking business man Jonathan Silver.

You can visit the Salts Mill website here. 


Salts Mill 3

Walk this Way!

Would you like to tick the ‘works out regularly’ box but do not want to die in the process?
This time of year, there’s an absolute glut of health and fitness advice.  Headlines and hashtags (#gohardorgohome/#nopainnogain) tell us that if we want it (being fitter) bad enough, we’re going to have to damn near kill ourselves to achieve it!  In summation, don’t even bother if you’re feeling blasé about it.
We begin in earnest, start strong, then just…kind of… stop…
Because it’s too hard to sustain!
There is another way.
It is possible to work out and not pass out, because I’ve done it… for almost 10 years now.
  FullSizeRender 141
Simply, I will let you in on what I do that works.
By ‘works’ I mean, yields a person who is fitter, leaner, stronger, has almost in exhaustible energy and feels balanced (most of the time).
The term ‘health and fitness’ is such a broad topic with many potential pitfalls, so let me just clarify that the purpose of this post is to point towards the possibility of a healthier you, long term by a means that you actually enjoy.
Disclaimer: if you love going hell-for-leather in the gym, more power to you… seriously, you have my respect, I’m just not cut out for enjoying it regularly and I’m hazarding a guess, I’m not alone.

 It began with walking… (in all weathers!)


… yep just walking…for an hour at a time, with a heart rate monitor, in my fat burning zone.
No kidding, it was so easy.
Let’s break it down.

FullSizeRender 127

This book is really where it all began and without going into lots of detail, if you want to know more I’d just recommend you get the book.  It’s where a fundamental shift for me took place about the ‘why’ of needing to get our bodies moving every day.  I both bought  and began implementing it early 30’s… it’s never to early to start!
For an hour…Why an hour?  The book explains, but in short, it’s about working out at a lower intensity, for longer.  So you don’t ‘die’, don’t return home red-faced and exhausted and ultimately, enjoy the process a lot more!
With a heart rate monitor.
FullSizeRender 137
This one piece of kit revolutionised my workouts after reading about the benefits of using in the book.  One strap goes just under your chest, the ‘watch’ on your wrist and you’re instantly hooked up to exactly what your heart is doing whilst you’re working out.  It’s a must because you’ll need to know if you’re in the zone… the fat-burning zone.
In my fat burning zone.
FACT: You will be surprised how low this zone is.
Ït’s the lowest form of cardio.
You’ll wonder if you’re doing any good – you’ll possibly not even break into a sweat.
That’s ok.
It will be a fast walk to start with.  As you get fitter you may need to break into a light trot, or run now-and-then to get into your zone but then you can revert to walking again.
Yes, these days I do run. I can run for an hour no problems, I can shin up the moors as fast as you like.  A bit like a V8 engine – it’s in the bag if I choose to use it.
Zones are addressed and explained in the book or you can Google.
 The gear. 
FullSizeRender 145
My trainer of choice for the past 9 years is MBT’s (I know, aren’t they just h-o-t!).  These rocker-sole type trainers make fast walking so much more easier than regular trainers, you wouldn’t believe.  My latest pair I bought here.  Yes they are an investment but being Goretex can withstand all weathers and will last me till I wear them out.  I’ve never had a back complaint or pulled anything whilst running in these… Ever.
Whilst we’re on apparel, if like me, you don’t like getting cold, wear your coat!  The photo’s I showed at the front end are me in my feather, below-the-knee, sleeping-bag of a coat.  Ain’t nobody want to go out and get cold – it’s enough to make you quit right there!
After a while, I Introduced yoga (on DVD)
FullSizeRender 126
Getting outdoors is pure soul food and I have run in all weathers but sometimes it’s just so bad you don’t want to be outdoors.  After a year-or-so of the walking, I picked up yoga that I’d discovered during pregnancy, enjoyed, and said I’d do again in the future.
Yoga is amazing for core strength and toning.
Using DVD’s at home means you can work out when you like i.e., it’s bespoke to your week.
The  DVD’s I use are by Rodney Yee and vary which I choose depending on the duration I want to work out for, or the type of workout (some are fast moving, others, much slower stretches).
Stick at it for 5 Years
Power-walking/running/climbing Ilkley Moor (basically what ever was enough to keep me in that fat-burning zone), and Yoga were my staple exercise for about five years.
It worked because it didn’t feel like a work out.
It worked because at a time of going through personal hell, it felt like going for long walks rather than subjecting ones self to more pain.
It worked because it didn’t require any thinking about.
And on days when it was an ‘I ought to’ rather than ‘I want to’.. I told myself that not once had I been out and regretted it… that was my trump card and out of the door I’d go.
(I only tell you that because there’s never an ideal time to start these things and we’ll find all the excuses in the world some times).
On any day the weather was foul, it was a session of yoga… which despite how easy it looks it requires such strength and balance!
Butt… Butt… Butt!
Three years ago I naturally began to put more weight on and so as to avoid the glutes going South decided 200 butt lifts per night would suffice  (all fours lifting a leg up into the air at right angles behind you, 25 each leg then swap).
Some days I do squats instead.
This takes about 3 minutes, it works and these days I aim for 4/5 times per week.
Last Year…Weights!
FullSizeRender 138 FullSizeRender 139
Whilst Yoga has been absolutely sufficient in the past for my upper body strength and toning, I had been choosing cardio over yoga more frequently throughout the summer.  That combined with about 5lbs weight gain meant I could see the arms were looking a little soft round the edges so decided to introduce 10 reps of 10 different arm exercises, three times a week.  Again, it’s just small adjustments that do not require a big session but 5 minutes in the day.
And finally…
FullSizeRender 143
Last month, after too many days of rain and seriously missing getting outdoors to get my cardio in, I stumbled across the idea of an indoor bike.FullSizeRender 144
It’s foldable, lightweight and has already paid for itself numerous times over (I got it online here).  Using with the heart-rate monitor means I’m still working out in my desired zone and I have to say – I love it for the flexibility it gives.
FullSizeRender 140
FullSizeRender 142
It even has a slot for iPads so I can work at the same time!
That’s it – that’s what works for me.
This is only one half of the equation  (the other being ‘diet’).
And yes, my quest began all those years ago as a means to an end – to keep the weight off, but it’s not the reason I work out now nor has it been for a long time.
The more you see the benefits to every area of your life, the more that is reward enough.
Find an exercise you like – walking is the simplest!
Set yourself a number of sessions per week you want to aim for then keep a record.
You need to keep a record (I use a free calendar I receive annually) and just mark all the little things you do… if you don’t you’ll forget.
Your life needs you well.
It needs you fit and healthy.  You absolutely owe noone an apology for time spent looking after yourself.
I have been just over 8 and a half stone and I have been 11 and a half stone.
I have known falling asleep at 3pm on the train – now I’m not even tired come bedtime.
The benefits of sticking to a regime are immense… just begin.
This has felt like an epic post, I hope it helps someone – there’s more I’d say but it’s already long enough! ~ OX




A Sunday well spent brings a week of content (apparently!). Read More

Using our LIKE’s to find our LOVE’s

Have you thought about how many times a day we are given the chance to ‘like’ something. Read More

5 things to do when you’re not sure what you want to do!

Picture 'liked' on Pinterest

Picture ‘liked’ on Pinterest

Upon leaving school I didn’t know what I wanted to do … who really does at 16?!

Read More

Wellbeing and the compound effect of Invisible Habits

Are you the kind of person who can keep giving yourself to something you can’t see the results of day-to-day?

Read More

%d bloggers like this: