Tag Archives: inspiration

Why Becoming A Woman Of Value – Not Success – Is The Greatest Secret Of All


‘I love to see a young woman go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch – you’ve got to go out there and kick ass!’

Maya Angelou

Who’s a woman you truly admire?

What kind of legacy do you aspire to leave in your wake?

If I left even an inch of the trail Maya Angelou did, I’d be proud.

A woman who rose from poverty, rape and divorce to become an acclaimed author, playwright and human rights activist – she never lost her empathy and heart along the way. And departed this world have added value in everything she did.

That, to me, is success

The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying: Bronnie Ware


“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not a life others expected of me” 

Taken from “The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying”

By Bronnie Ware

Death is one of life’s great taboos.

Ironic then, isn’t it, that Bronnie Ware’s book, inspired by the most common regrets of her dying patients, has sold the wide world over – in no less than 27 languages. 

Equally ironic is the conversation stopping effect death has in life when Ware’s findings reveal that death is, in fact, the greatest invigorator out there. Bypassing ego, image and obligation, death sieves through bullshit and cuts straight to point - distilling truth in its purest form.

Five core truths, in fact – which level us all.

And that, Dear Reader, is what many of us are too busy to realise day to day – what really matters in life – and that’s what makes Ware’s book so powerful.

If that all sounds a bit on the heavy side, check out the top five regrets of the dying here and prepare to feel a whole lot lighter.

For as Steve Jobs, the man who ‘had it all’, warned:

“At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless”.

So if you think you’re too busy to read the above article, all the more reason to. 

For as the Dalai Lama so wisely reflected when asked what surprised him most about man:


4 Wayne Dyer Quotes To Lift Your Soul


‘You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you’

Wayne Dyer

Happy Friday, gazers.

Here are some soul nourishing quotes from the fabulous Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-development.

Enjoy :)




The Magical Tool To Finding The Right Next Step…


How Else Do You Know What The Right Path Is?


Where does your mind wander when you’re sitting at your desk job?

When you’re feeling listless – pretty sure there must be more but maybe unsure where, what or how you get there?

My mind wanders to wide open spaces with mountains, lakes or the crashing sound of waves – and buzzy social hubs nearby – rich in social opportunities as well as the peace that spectacular natural beauty affords.



Above is me near such a place on the beach at Lacanau near Bordeaux. A day in nature replenishes my soul in a way that’s hard to capture in words. It also brings me professional inspiration on a level far beyond office walls.

So I ask you this today, dear Gazer.

Where is your bliss?

Entrepreneur Of The Fortnight: Gemma Tanswell: Dancer Extraordinaire





What shade of blue are your Sunday Blues and where do they take you? Turquoise oceans and stripey sun beds in the Caribbean with cocktails in hand? Or maybe you’re day dreaming of sunset skies across the River Thames as you stare out of your (make-believe) office window from home? Or are your escapist fantasies a darker shade of blue that see you wishing you could leave your daily grind more than anything in the world?

If any of these are you, this truly candid interview with Gemma Tanswell has your name on it. Creator of  Stage Plus School of Performing Arts, Gemma ignored the doubtors and stood firm to her dreams, creating an inspiring company that fufils her day in, day out.

So if you’ve ever wondered about jumping ship and creating your own business – your style – your way – read on. This is a lady with brains, beauty and business savvy in bucket loads…

Over to you, Gemma…


Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do? 

I am the Owner and Principal of Stage Plus School of Performing Arts based in Princes Risborough, England. I’m a trained ISTD and RAD teacher and have also trained in Zumba and the Trinity Arts Award. When I’m not teaching, organising competitions, exams and shows, I’m trying to keep my school in the forefront through advertising, social media and all the general admin!

I’m also part of the creative team at Risborough Youth Theatre, work part time in a preschool (where I’ve taken my Levels 2 & 3 in CYPW) and have just started to write a family blog.

Aside from that, I’m a wife of 4 years and mummy to a gorgeous 2 year old boy!

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?


I started dance classes when I was 3 years old where I was a member of our local dance school, Sabatini School of Dance and Performance. I never took any exams – I just performed for fun and it certainly was that!

At 18 years old, I went onto North London Dance Studio where I spent 2 years training and graduated with a Diploma in Performing Arts, Intermediate and Advanced exams in Ballet, Tap, Modern and National. I then completed my teaching qualifications and updated others at the Linda Sweetzer Teacher Training College, taking advanced 2 Modern over the years, too!

In terms of work, I performed around the UK and worked in Tenerife as the dance captain on a new venture. I stayed out there for 2 years, where I performed as a singer and dancer as well as team leader and choreographer for a new version of the show. I returned home due to a death in the family in 2005 and shortly after the show closed down. On my return I taught for various schools in my local area while I decided what was next – which turned out to be meeting my husband!

What Inspired You To Start Your Business?


A dream! When I returned from working abroad, I was freelancing at a few schools and covering maternity leave at Stage Plus when I was asked if I’d like to buy the school (the lady who had started it in 1983 was moving abroad). Although it was well established, there were definitely some obstacles – I would be losing the premises they were working in, for one. I paid a lot more money than I should have for the business but I was only 24 years old and it had been a dream of mine to own my own school. At that stage I didn’t think such an amazing opportunity would come up again.

I can’t believe I will have owned the school for 8 years in June!

How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?


A few years after I took over the School I rebranded it with a new logo, new website and new branded wear. I also did a lot of research into what my students and their parents wanted (I think it’s important to do this regularly).

Then the recession hit and caused a major set-back on our student numbers so things had to change again.

That said, I think change in general – and keeping with the times – is really important. In that vein, we participate actively on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and try to keep people updated online as much as possible.

In terms of internal management, workshops help us to access different dance styles and teachers and shows and festivals showcase our choreography and fabulous students (as well as showing the younger children and parents what they can aspire to do).

I also believe in the good old power of word of mouth. I have some amazing students and I’m lucky their parents recommend us all the time. It’s such a lovely feeling and it makes you feel very supported!

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


Seeing students go off to Professional Dance Colleges and pursue careers in the Performing Arts. I currently have students working on cruise ships, heading to the Royal Ballet to train, working in Disneyland, Paris and others who are performing in the West End. It’s lovely to have received so many goodbye cards and text messages full of gratitude for the part I’ve played in their achievements. One of the best moments was receiving a text message at 2am from an ex-student saying: “Sorry it’s so late but if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be having a drink and a chat with Matthew Bourne as we speak”.

We always say that once you’re part of the Stage Plus family, you never really leave.

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?

My Kids

Money. I love the school and everyone involved but there have been some tough times. When the recession hit, I had just taken on a new studio full time which was a massive outgoing. Although I was determined that this would build the school further, as money faltered, numbers dropped. However, we made it through and although I have had to make some serious changes, we are still standing and have new students starting all the time. I’m certainly in this job for the love!

What’s Your Favourite Event / Product / Service? 


I love to go to Move It at Olympia for the performances more than anything. It’s so lovely to see college students (some of whom are ex-students of mine) showing the world what they’ve got. It’s also a great opportunity to see what’s new in the dance world so I can take Stage Plus up a notch each year.

How Do You Build Your Client Base?


A lot of it is word of mouth. I’ve done lots of different advertising over the years but my website and reputation are the best sellers. We also perform at local fetes and have been involved in a lot of charity shows which means more people hear about us.

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?


It was an insult and a compliment in one – which propelled my career 100%!!

My Principal at Dance College told me I’d never be a performer but I’d make a fantastic teacher.

Of course, this only strengthened my resolve to perform and sure enough, I was one of the only ones from my year who went on to perform and here I am now with a dance school of my own!

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?


Take on board others’ advice but the best way to learn is by following your dreams. I’ve had many setbacks and many people telling me that I’m doing the wrong thing (including my parents and my husband) who, despite having really supported me, didn’t want to see me struggle at times.

Unfortunately, most of the time they ended up being right but the only way I learnt this was by doing it myself! I just knew I’d regret it if I didn’t try!

Although I definitely have an impulsive streak, nowadays I try to be more cautious by planning as much as possible!

What’s Next For You?

Nutritionist doctor woman isolated over white background

Wow, now there’s a question! There are so many things going around in my head at the moment……

In terms of the school, I’d like to offer a wider range of classes, build our student numbers and get a fab show under our belt for 2016.

I’d also like to train as a nutritionist and to learn more about the anatomical and physiological side of dance (I was inspired by a course i went on a few weeks ago).

On a personal level we’d love to expand our family.

I think 2015 and 2016 are going to be busy!

How Can We Contact You?


Website: www.stageplus.com

Email: stageplus@hotmail.com

Telephone: 07931 180 807

Social Media: Facebook and Twitter

Also: YouTube

What’s Your Favourite Quote?


Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….


I’m pretty good at face painting (completely self taught!) and have been put in charge of this at many show runs (imagine the animals in The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe…) Safe to say the comic relief events, fetes and birthday parties I’ve been roped into have turned out to be pretty hands on!!

The Yoga Girl: Top Tips For Turning Your Life Around





Happy Monday, lovely Gazer :) Boy are you in for a treat with the below… Here’s a hint…

She’s an Instagram sensation with 1.3 million people following her.

She’s known for impressive poses like those above (must try to become more flexible…) in tropical surrounds which make me dream of piña coladas and palm trees…

But what makes her really special really shocked me…

Revealed in the 20 minute interview below, here is a wee teaser – because it’s simply too good to wait for – and may just change your life.

The “Yoga Girl” seems to have it all…

She’s a beautiful blonde Swedish goddess living on the tropical Caribbean island of Aruba with her handsome new husband. She travels the world inspiring young girls and women doing what she loves – yoga and meditation and has a huge Instagram following alongside a range of beautiful books which I currently have on bulk order.

But it wasn’t always this way and this is what makes her success even more compelling…

Falling into the wrong crowd as a teenager, she ended up self-harming, taking drugs and drinking too much. She confesses she became totally self-destructive and was consumed with jealousy of her peers. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? A girl as pretty as her, jealous of others…

Then something changed…

Her mother was at her wits end and decided to send her on a meditation camp.

That decision would change her life.

Learning how to sit with her emotions peacefully, she was able to move from the victim mentality which saw her envying others for their seeming better ‘fortunes’ to the mentality of a fortune maker.

She transformed herself from someone who realised that sure, life can be unfair, but we are all in control of our destinies and taking responsibility for our actions, our decisions and our paths is the first step to empowerment and change. It was this realisation which propelled her from unhappiness to bliss, personally, professionally and spiritually.

Many of her followers are young girls who find themselves feeling similarly desperate to her in her youth – powerless, trapped and depressed. She tells them with the heart of someone who knows, if I can do it, so can you. Once you have the resources and attitude for change, you can own it.

If you do one thing today, wee Gazer..

treat yourself to watching the Yoga Girl’s video below. She holds some of the best kept secrets to happiness and change which will stay with you forever.

And if you’d like a sneaky peak into her top tips in the interim, here are a few for you to feast on:

* Nobody can change your life for you – only you can.

* Take responsibility for your actions. Luck is rarely why some are happier than others. Attitude is the difference.

* Meditation is a life-changing practise (more so than yoga), helping you to deal with emotions positively.

* Be inspired by good people who want to help you and keep an open-mind. In this case, it was her mother who encouraged her do a mediation camp she had little interest in. It changed her life. What’s to lose? All it takes is a first step.

Watch her video interview here and be inspired…







Adventurer Of The Month: James Kayll




The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, who telephoned the crew on the final stretch of their journey across the Atlantic with land almost in sight, described their achievements as:

“The most stunning example of courage, grit and determination that the Army has seen for a long time”.

Brace yourself! This interview will leave you feeling inspired, refreshed and everything in between. Unless, of course, you’ve already met someone who’s completed the world’s toughest rowing race – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – rowing across the Atlantic with a team of wondered ex-servicemen and finishing in 3rd place ahead of a raft of able-bodied competitors. 

The only person to have rowed and sailed across both Atlantic and Indian Oceans, James Kayll, ex-Army Captain and Ocean Adventurer, is one of a kind. So if you’re an adventurer, an aspiring adventurer or you’re simply looking for a new challenge, this interview may be just the inspiration you need.

And if you’re unsure you’ve got what it takes, whether physically, mentally or otherwise, reading about James and his injured rowing colleagues Corporal Cayle Royce and Corporal Scott Blaney may seriously shift your limiting beliefs.

Over to you, James…


Can You Tell Me A Bit About What You Do?



I was an Army officer for 9 years serving in a regiment called the Light Dragoons where I twice served in Afghanistan. During my military career I was able to develop a love for ocean rowing which saw me take a crew of wounded ex-serviceman across the Atlantic in a rowing race. I have now left the Army and I work for KPMG in Canary Wharf.

What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting On This Path?


I grew up in the countryside and love the outdoors. Most men in my family have served in the Army at some point so that was probably in my blood… I have travelled loads and done a lot of sailing in my life, including some significant offshore racing and ocean crossings. 

What Inspired You To Adventure?


I relish challenge, the excitement of the outdoors and the natural environment but above all I love the ocean, the tranquility, the power and the unpredictability. The ocean inspires me; she keeps calling me back!

What’s Your Greatest Motivator?




My last two adventures have involved wounded ex-Army colleagues. After rowing across the Atlantic together, I helped organise a flying expedition up the Rift Valley in Kenya which saw my colleagues flying across African skies in custom-built para-trikes. The wounded servicemen are my greatest motivator, or certainly were for my last two expeditions. They are utterly inspirational people.

Can You Tell Us More About Your Atlantic Adventure?



Our Row2Recovery crew, which comprised two amputee and two able-bodied soldiers, set off on 3 December 2013 to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. After an exhausting 48 days, 9 hours and 13 minutes at sea, we touched land on the tiny Caribbean island of Antigua, securing third place overall. Our 4-man crew was made up of me, Captain Mark Jenkins, Corporal Cayle Royce and Corporal Scott Blaney. Corporal Royce was wounded in Afghanistan in May 2012 when he stepped on an explosive device which resulted in above-the-knee amputation of both legs and the loss of several fingers on his left hand. Corporal Blaney had to have an above-the-knee amputation, also as a result of a bomb-blast in Afghanistan, in 2007. Despite their injuries both service personnel are committed to still enjoying life to the full, and that’s why they took on the Atlantic challenge.

Was Your Adventure Across The Atlantic All Plain Sailing?


It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing. At the start of the race we had to cope with two weeks of storms and in mid-December the Row2Recovery boat capsized in the middle of the night when two 60ft waves crashed into us and we and much of our kit were thrown overboard!

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?


I have been very fortunate to have had some amazing experiences so it is difficult to select a highlight! I’ve led soldiers in battle in Afghanistan, I’ve rowed and sailed across various oceans, swum with a whale in the Indian Ocean, camped in the bush with Masai warriors in Kenya… But the one moment that stands out was arriving in Antigua at the end of our trans-Atlantic row. We arrived just after dark and were escorted into English Harbour by a few small boats but as we entered the harbour it erupted with the noise of super yachts sounding their foghorns, classic yachts firing their cannons and four or five hundred people celebrating on the dock.

We let off some flares in front of the crowd and they wet wild, screaming and waving flags as we rowed in the last few yards. The exhilaration and pride I felt during this small moment of my life makes it my biggest adventure highlight, emphasised by the fact that I had a crew of amputees and we had had a pretty rough crossing! Finishing third out of 16 crews - considering we were without 3 legs and a hand was beyond all expectations and made the moment even more special. You can read more about our adventures on the Row2Recovery Atlantic Blog.

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?


The biggest challenge was fundraising before rowing the Indian Ocean – it took 2 years and it was demoralizing at times feeling that you might not reach your target.

How Did You Manage To Build Your Adventure Following / Get Sponsors?


I am not a full time adventurer so can’t really claim to have any following but I have had various sponsors over the years. I think you should never underestimate the value of gifts in kind. This is where you are loaned or gifted items of equipment by the manufacturer. Sometimes this is much better than trying to raise the funds separately to pay for the equipment. Otherwise I think sponsorship is all about linking your expedition to the values and standards of a corporate. It is about finding synergy and overlap so a corporate can relate to what you are doing – coupled with a good PR plan.

What’s Your Favourite Adventure Event? 

Antigua Sailing Week, Monday April 26 2010


I really enjoy sailing in the Caribbean and so events like Antigua Race Week and the Caribbean 600 are a huge amount of fun.

What’s Your Favourite Product?



I have been sponsored by Kiehl’s a few times so I recommend their products but from an all round adventure perspective a jetboil is an awesome bit of equipment! Small, robust, compact, light and boils water super quickly. 

What’s Been Your Favourite Adventure So Far?




If you are looking for a life changing adventure and something that will challenge you both physically and mentally to the extreme then I would recommend the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. This is a 3,000 nautical mile rowing race across the Atlantic. It is a race as well but you will make some great friends within the fleet and have a great time in La Gomera during the preparation before the start. The arrival in Antigua is also spectacular! Not to mention the bit in the middle; it will test every ounce of your ability, your team, your boat and your commitment. You can watch a promotional video for The Talisker Whiskey Challenge below.

What’s your Unique Selling Point?


This changes for each expedition and I don’t think I really have a USP. I aim to row and sail across the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Two down one to go…

How Do You Build Your Fan Base?


What fan base? Maybe you can help…..?

What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?


Cayle Royce’s father thanking me for giving his son the opportunity to row the Atlantic. 

What Advice Would You Give To Budding Adventurers?


The hardest thing is usually getting to the start line, the adventure is your reward and it will be worth every minute of your preparation, fund-raising and late nights writing sponsorship proposals!

What’s Next For You?


Ideally rowing the Pacific but I currently have another adventure ongoing in Canary Wharf…

How Can We Contact You?


@jameskayll on Twitter

What’s Your Favourite Quote?


Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….


I was chased by pirates off the Horn of Africa whilst sailing from India to Djibouti in 2005. We out-ran them and then hid using the cover of darkness…

Watch James Chatting About His Experiences 









What Camille Muffat Teaches Us About Living


Someone pretty special died this week.

Amongst the victims of the tragic helicopter crash in Argentina was 25 year old Camille Muffat, who at only 22 years old, won three medals in the 2012 Olympics, setting an Olympic record in the 400-meter freestyle in the process.

But way beyond her extraordinary aquatic abilities, which saw her training for six hours a day from the tender age of 14, was her remarkably mature outlook on life.

For belying her machine-like frame which saw her standing at six foot tall, she had an inner simplicity which underpinned her retirement at just 24 years old.

Taking the French public by surprise, the 2012 French Sportswoman of the Year cited her reasons for retirement quite simply. After ten years of intense training, she wanted to “profiter de la vie” – to enjoy life.

You got it. She just wanted to enjoy life.

“De goûter à une vie normale” - to taste a normal life.

Breathe in those words.

What stunning maturity from a young girl who knew more glory than most of us could dream of.

“My body could have taken another 10 years of training and competition but I wanted to be the mistress of my own destiny,” she told L’Equipe. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a swimming pool.”

And it was with that splendid independence of spirit that she left this world. A world so often blinded by things that don’t even feature in our last days.

It is, of course, bitterly ironic, that just a year after retiring to live life, hers was so cruelly cut short. She understood the secret of happiness way before so many of us, yet had no real time to enjoy it.

Let that be a lesson to us all.




9 Awesome Quotes From 9 Great Women

International Womens Day 2015 500x250


To celebrate International Women’s Day, here are 9 Awesome Quotes From 9 Great Women throughout the ages.

Three of my favourites, if forced to choose, are…

1. Toni Morrison


“Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down”.

2. Charlotte Bronte


“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you”.

3. Jane Austen


“It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for anybody who asks her”.

Be kind to yourself – there’s only one you




Magical Wisdom From Classic Children’s Books


I like so many of the quotes from this wonderful article by Stylist Magazine, it’s hard to choose my favourites. If 8 out of 30 even qualifies as a short-list, here they are, in no particular order :)

#love #books

#imagination #wisdom #combined

1. The Wizard Of Oz


 “You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”

2. The Cat In The Hat


“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

3. Mary Poppins


“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and ‘snap’, the job’s a game.” 

4. James And The Giant Peach


“My dear young fellow,” the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, “there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.”

5. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe


“All shall be done,” said Aslan. “But it may be harder than you think.”

6. Watership Down


“You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.”

7. The Hobbit


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – Thorin to Bilbo, just before he dies.

8. A Wrinkle In Time


“Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.”