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her story issue #3 • may 20187

Laikipia: Exquisite Accommodations and Game-Rich Plains

WOMEN in STEM MIREILLE TOULEKIMA

Welcome to Your New Normal! an interview with

LENKA LUTONSKA

Audaciously

UNIQUE Salome Asabre

Think your way to slim

ESZTER O’DONOGHUE


her story ISSUE NO 3

W H AT ’ S I N S I D E

h e r s t o r y. . . 4

19

Jennifer Corcoran

16

Sharniya Ferdinand

13

Think Your Way to Slim

23

In the Kitchen

travel

33

Sarah Mwangi

empowerment 40

Mireille Toulekima

A Different Perspective Alice-Ada Ationu

Women in STEM:

What they do to attain success

Laikipia:

Exquisite Accommodations and Game-rich Plains

Sharleen Linton

science & tech

Eszter O’Donoghue

Andreea Mocanu

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an interview with Lenka Lutonska

healthly living

Sonia Brown

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Welcome to your New Normal

41

Audaciously Unique Salome Asabre

30

Food with Love Richard Leavitt


a letter from

THE EDITOR Thank you for subscribing, we are thrilled with the content it keeps getting better and thanking the readers for making us relevant. We felt to do this a bit different this time round and featured lots of stories of inspiring women and men who have defied the odds to achieve success. The thing I loved most about this edition is the stories featured are all unique and inspiring, the contributors also stretched themselves to provide exciting easy reads and featured for the first time ‘ the voice of the millennial ’ I believe that this is the year of great breakthroughs for all of us but just as a the pregnant woman goes through the agony to grace the world with a new ‘gift’ so are the challenge we face before the success but as we stick to the work and maintain a positive attitude greatness is birthed. One of my favourite quotes is by Albert Einstein “ the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. “ To bring forth something new, the mind has to be addressed first to capture the concept which often enough stretches the mind, I believe the breakthroughs will come in unexpected ways! I hope this edition inspires you to do something new and do the things you have secretly been dreaming of unapologetically, boldly step out and be open to see where the path leads you! As always looking forward to the feedback, Please e-mail us at publication@herstorymatters.com

lots of love! Harriet Khataba Editor in chief


My name is

Sonia Brown my story... and this is

Business Communicator, brand specialist, diversity maverick, uber connector and advocator for women. She is the founder and director of the National Black Womens’s Network (NBWN) , she is currently working with a number of private, public and statutory sector organisationz to support and develop initiatives which promote career and business opportunities for BAME women.

Tell us a bit about your childhood years. My parents are from Jamaica. They instilled a strong work ethic in me and my siblings. However, they also knew how to enjoy themselves so there was always something going on whether it was to do with their business, the cricket tours or charity dinner and dances. There was never a dull moment, good or bad!

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No matter the knockbacks, I always tell people how blessed I am or I’d not be living the life I am at the moment.

her story matters

However, I have always been a square peg trying to fit in a round hole; whether it was at school or in the corporate space. I understand now that I was not meant to fit in but to define myself creatively through my business ventures. I believe self-employment gives you the independence, flexibility and resilience to live life on your terms.


What was your first job I was forced to leave Design College and get a job because of my parent’s separation and I was very resentful. I took the first job I was offered and I always remember my Director saying to me that it does not matter if you don’t know anything about the role, the person on the other side of the phone does not know, so bluff! So while everyone else moaned about their job I was busy learning all I could and that’s why I got promoted before them.

My friends keep me in check so I can be a more empathetic woman, friend and inspiration to other women...

I learnt I had to leave or I’d end up bitter like them.

What tips would you give young businesses It’s all about mindset. If you have the wrong people around you, building a business will be difficult if you are not mentally strong. Surround yourself with people who are in business, understand business and can support your journey at every stage of its growth. It’s not about who wins but those who push through every day; day after day. Get yourself some good mentors. Make use of all the professional advice and training that is available to you and NETWORK. My first mentor was Baroness Ros Howells of St David. Then Sir Nicholas Montagu when he was Chairman of the Inland Revenue. He was a star! But throughout the years I have had formal and informal mentors from across a wide section of professional and business disciplines to ensure that I remain relevant in the market. Today, the NBWN is working closely with ICAEW BAS who provide a wide range of financial and business advice to those starting or growing their business. So it’s worth visiting them at https://find.icaew.com/pages/bas

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her story matters


What would you do differently People always ask me that and I say I would focus on the bottom line and profits. However, I would have had a different business model and outcome. At the moment I love how things have turned out because I am still here doing what I love nearly twenty years after everyone told me the network would never work. Nevertheless, I still believe it’s important to keep an eye on your cashflow; which is why the NBWN teamed up with the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales to produce a guide for those business owners not confident about their financial literacy and management processes.

How do you identify women or businesses that you can work with and what are the key things you look for? I like to work with business owners who are interesting and demonstrate the passion and drive that makes me know they will push through in the more challenging times. It’s easy to work with people when things are going well but when issues pop up, it’s disappointing that most people want to jump ship because they lack the faith and determination to push through and overcome challenges.

What was the most defining moment for you? Putting the political arm on the business. I met and got to work with the most amazing, driven and aspirational women across parties. From Barbara Roach, Patricia Hewitt, Jackie Smith, Harriet Harmon, Caroline Dineage MP and our current Prime Minister. These women 6 |

her story matters

are committed to achieving their aspirational goals and making a difference in the world. They are prepared to put themselves out there irrespective of the backlash. I love their guts! I am also very proud to say that Baroness Verma, Baroness Howells and Baroness Jenkin (amongst others) have consistently supported the Network over the years. And let’s not forget the men who have been game changers in my life. They have pushed me to move beyond my inner limitations and I am very grateful for them. I loved that David Lammy MP supported me not only with the NBWN business meetings but with the work I did with the MET police under the Community Ambassador Programme where I was able to work with Sir Bernard Howe (amazing leader) and Stephen Greenhalgh (former Deputy Mayor, MOPAC); Boris Johnson MP who helped us launch the Female and BME Business Led Forum from City Hall supported by NatWest Business Banking and the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales and Stephen Timms MP to launch the Faith and Business Summit. My defining moments continue to transpire and I am very proud of the people who support me to make them happen.

What advice would you give young ambitious women? Make sure you have a ten-year plan and write it down. Then get yourself a mentor who has demonstrated success in their personal, professional or business lives. If you work in a corporation, find someone you admire and get them to sponsor you. If you are running a


business get a mentor who demonstrates the qualities and attributes you admire, can emulate and also support your goals going forward. Join a wide range of professional, industry and business networks to increase your exposure, lead generation and knowledge. But be very strategic and be willing to give not simply bloodsuck from everyone you meet. Learn to give back, even if there is nothing in it for you! Finally, in your private life be careful of the people you mix with on a regular basis. Not everyone should speak into your life and your vision. I am so blessed to have a spiritual back up team as well as a host of worldly warriors helping me to manifest my dreams. Accomplishing your business and professional aspirations is a commitment and means you have to make sacrifices, so be prepared to give things up in order to achieve your goals.

What principles do you live by? Treat people with respect, integrity and compassion – just like how you expect them to treat you. I am not perfect, so my friends keep me in check so I can be a more empathetic woman, friend and inspiration to other women who believe they are defined by their situations and environment. It’s a tough world out there and we all need support to rise out of our circumstances.

What’s next for Sonia? I am launching my own Alpha Group Peer to Peer Boardroom platform which will help businesses to double their value; dominate their market and become better leaders.

No matter the knockbacks, I always tell people how blessed I am or I’d not be living the life I am at the moment.

For further information visit: www.nbwn.org www.soniabrown.co.uk www.sistatalk.co.uk Follow Sonia on Twitter: @soniatalks Join Sonia on Facebook: SoniaBrownMBE

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My name is

Jennifer Corcoran

and this is my story...

Jennifer Corcoran is the Director and Founder of My Super Connector. My Super Connector helps female founders, introverts and busy business owners to polish up their social media profiles and connect with finesse. She believes that you don’t need to be the loudest in the room to make an impact, you just have to be effective, which is where she comes in to help you shine online.

She is originally from Dublin, Ireland and moved to London almost 16 years ago.

What was your childhood like? I grew up the eldest of 4 children in Dublin (2 boys and 2 girls). My father was a photographic engineer for the Independent Newspapers and my mother was a housewife. During

“

my childhood my mother developed

I help female founders, introverts and busy business owners to polish their online profiles and connect with finesse.

both epilepsy and manic depression. Frustratingly, the medication for both condition was at odds with each other so she spent many years trying to keep her manic depression or bi-polar as it’s now known under control. All that being said, I had a happy childhood and always felt loved. I loved reading

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her story matters


books, writing and watching movies – a form of

and worked in Ireland, England, Belgium, Holland,

escapism I guess so I would say that writers like

Australia and The States so I’ve got a lot of the

Sue Townsend made me giggle with Adrian Mole

travelling bug out of my system. I love Dublin but

and his escapades and directors like Stephen

it’s the bad weather that gets to me – as much

Spielberg blew my mind. I’ve always enjoying

as we moan about London weather it’s almost

daydreaming and living in my head. When I was

tropical in comparison.

about 10 I had about 50 pen pals from around

media and helping others to find their voice

How did you transition from being employed to having your own business?

online.

I had a back operation in early 2016 and that was

the world, these days this is mirrored with my LinkedIn connections and my passion for social

really the main driver. Having time off allowed

What did you enjoy the most travelling with work?

me to work out what I wanted to do with my

The great thing about working abroad is that you

having supported others for 20 years was my

get to explore various cultures and see how the

natural conclusion. Being my own boss gives me

other half live. I’ve been a child minder in Belgium,

flexibility and also allows me to look after my back

a hotel / hostel rep in Holland, I worked in a

and health better. The elusive work/health life

restaurant in the States and in Ireland, England

balance! I’m really enjoying working locally and

and Australia I’ve worked in administration as a

throwing myself into the Croydon tech scene.

PA/EA. I’m currently a Social Media Consultant

Croydon is currently listed as the fastest growing

and Virtual Assistant which gives me the flexibility

economy in the UK so it’s exciting to be based

to work anywhere. I can put all of my training to

here as it goes through this tech renaissance.

life going forward and being my own boss after

good use and give business owners the kick-start they need to take their business to the next level

How do you stand out in a room?

and get social and connected online.

I’m a natural introvert albeit a chatty one so I

If you could live anywhere other than England where would you live?

guess I stand out by being chatty and personable. I think most Irish people are natural networkers as we like talking and engaging. I don’t ‘work the

Wow this is a tough one, I’m a natural explorer but

room’ I focus on a few and try to establish genuine

my husband is a bit of a home bird so I think our

relationships. My top tip is to SHINE – smile,

next move will be to the South West of England

handshake, ‘eye’ contact, name (yours and theirs)

as we love Bristol, Devon and Cornwall. I lived

and to enthuse.

in Australia for a year before I moved to the UK

friends so I don’t think I’ll be moving to the other

What is the one thing that holds businesses back when it comes to social media?

side of the world any time soon. To date I’ve lived

I think that a lot of business owners feel that

and I really loved the culture and weather – the only negative was the distance from family and

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they need to be on all of the platforms because

message?

other people are when they only really need to be on the platforms where their target audience are. A lot of people adopt a spray and pray technique where they post ad hoc and sit back and hope for results. Social media is a form of marketing communication and to be successful with marketing you need to have a fixed strategy in place so that you have a fixed target/goal in place and can establish your brand online. So many business owners put little thought into their personal branding when they are on social media which is a big mistake. I help people to be more focused and targeted. It’s far better to

2. Follow the 80/20 rule with all social media activity. 80% of the time you need to educate, inspire and motivate. Add value and give people a reason for following you. 20% of the time can be your push but 10% should be a soft push for e.g. a blog post, podcast, offer etc. A lot of people get this the other way around and promote themselves all the time – which is very boring and a real turn-off. Engage with others, GIVE GIVE GIVE and the law of reciprocity will come back to you!

be on 2 social media platforms and doing them well and maybe even ‘rocking’ one then to be on

3. Know where your target audience are?

4 and not doing any of them particularly well.

Are they on LinkedIn? In Facebook Groups?

There is nothing sadder than a Facebook page

Can you attract them in a Twitter tweet

which hasn’t been updated in years – it’s like a

chat? Once you know where they hang out,

ghost town and never gives a good impression.

be mindful of timings too. There is no point

Consistency is really the key to success.

posting to a platform during the middle of the night when nobody is online. Track your analytics and work on this. In relation to

What 3 tips would you give the readers to help them attract and increase revenue?

LinkedIn you can check your SSI score which will rank you according to your profession and network. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. all have their own analytics which are free to use.

1. Invest in your LinkedIn profile – this is

Be mindful that all of the platforms differ. In

your mini website and ranks very highly in

Twitter it’s common to use 2 or 3 hashtags but

terms of SEO. People on LinkedIn are in a

in Instagram it’s preferable to use 30 to get

business mind-set so are ready to buy. Put

traction. Measure and monitor.

your best foot forward online and it will lead to multiple opportunities and increased ROI. I’ve personally won 4 awards because of my

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Tell us about My Super Connector and who is its target audience?

interaction online and I attribute this mainly

My Super Connector is a social media

to LinkedIn usage. Your LinkedIn profile is one

consultancy. In a nutshell, I help female founders,

of the first things that pops up when someone

introverts and busy business owners to polish

googles you. Are you giving out the right

their online profiles and connect with finesse. I

her story matters


offer social media health checks and coaching on

online. People buy people and all of my clients to

various platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook,

date have booked me after either meeting me in

Twitter, Instagram and Blogging. My audits are

person, a referral or speaking on the phone. It’s

primarily for people who are already on social

unlikely that you will get a lot of warm leads just

media but are feeling stagnant. They are not

from your website initially. You may however find

quite sure if they are doing things right and I

clients in LinkedIn and Facebook groups so if you

follow up with a written improvement plan of

are an online business it’s worthwhile joining a

what ‘to do’ what ‘not to do’ and why. Most

few groups where your target audience hang out.

importantly I help them measure it. I also offer on-site and off-site event support and bespoke Virtual Assistance. I’m loving the mix of on and off-site and YES, a ‘virtual’ assistant can work onsite.

What advice would you give women who are starting or have just started their business?

 Serve’ don’t sell – so many people over promote and think they need to be selling all the time. Don’t worry about being ‘perfect’ the main thing to worry about is being consistent. If you can’t do something well or it stresses you – outsource. I outsource my bookkeeping as it’s not one of my natural strengths. This frees me up to spend time doing what I enjoy!

 Invest in your branding and photography. I see so many people start off with a website but

 Have some savings to support you during the

with no real concept of what their personal

early months – it can be tough and I know many

brand is. People buy people and when people

entrepreneurs who freelance or temp on the side

buy a product or service it can often boil down to

to support their business during slow periods.

the brand. What is your USP and puts you in a

Doing this does not make you a failure – it’s smart

category of one? A brand is not just a logo – think

actually and makes perfect business sense.

of it as the foundation for your entire business.  Do your research and invest in training – I  Ensure that you have a great support network

learned how to become a Virtual Assistant

around you. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely

by doing an online course with VIP VA. I

and the first year is undoubtedly a rollercoaster

also invested in some sales training with The

with many ups and downs. You need people who

Entrepreneur’s Godmother. There is no point in

will have your back and motivate and support you.

having a fantastic product or service if you don’t

I work out of a co-working space once a week and

know how to sell it!

I find that hugely motivating. I also have some great mentors who I can turn to for advice.

 You also need to market your services – if you don’t it’s a bit like a boy winking at a girl in the

 Be prepared to network – both in person and

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her story matters

dark. Do people know you exist? How will you


market your products and services?

Devon/Cornwall and the Lakes. I also love anywhere with sunshine and really

 It is relatively easy to set up as a business owner

loved Thailand when I visited it on honeymoon.

– it’s what follows which is the hard part. You will need to be resilient – look after your diet and

What is next for Jennifer?

health. Going to Pilates and aqua several times

I’ve exciting plans in the pipeline – I’m currently

a week keeps me in check. Get yourself a good

co-hosting a new Mastermind called Collective

desk and sit up straight!

Minds which is for female founders and I look forward to seeing that develop and grow in 2018.

 Know your worth and don’t undersell or give

The Mastermind will give myself and the other

away your services for free – that being said I’ve

attendees some accountability in our business

recently done some pro-bono work for a local

development and we hope to incorporate a buddy

homelessness charity and that has been very

system.

rewarding. I’ve also been approached by Enterprise Nation  Incorporate your core values into your brand

to help Facebook with their She Means Business

– my brand promise is connect, collaborate and

campaign. The campaign is to help as many

thrive!

female business owners in the UK get to grips with managing their Facebook and Instagram for business. I’m hoping to become an accredited

What do you do to unwind and relax? I love going to the beauticians or a spa to relax – a deep tissue massage, facial, nails, hair – all of these things make me feel better. Especially a

Facebook trainer and this will help me with my 121 service and audits for clients so it’s a win/ win. You can follow the action via the hashtag #SheMeansBusiness. In 2017, they managed to reach 10,000 business owners which is fantastic!

massage as being a business owner can be quite stressful as you know. I also enjoy spending time

I want to help as many introverts and female

travelling with my husband and visiting cute

founders find their voice online in 2018. I believe

villages / towns and even chilling out in a National

that you don’t need to be the loudest in the room

Trust Park always makes me feel quite centered

to make an impact and that’s where I come in

and calm.

to help my clients shine online. Exciting times ahead!

What’s your favourite holiday spot? This is a tricky one – in the UK it’s got to be

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the secret to SUCCESS...

THINK

YOUR WAY TO

SLIM

by ESZTER O’DONOGHUE

“Hello 2018! Hashtag New Year, New me!” We have all heard this phrase so many times… many started 2018 with promises to themselves to eat well, loose the weight and exercise more. Every year, the gyms are full of new year resolutioners, stores selling incredible amount of healthy foods, salad bars crowded, people trying to go vegan and eat organic but by April majority have fallen of the wagon and back to drinking, eating takeaways and all the good intentions they started the new year with out the window. Not everyone gives up though some people accomplish amazing things, they transform their body and eat healthier. Some even sign up for competitions proving that it’s possible… If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it. We can’t ignore that there are some determining factors like genetics, money and willpower…however the mindset plays a much bigger role.

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According the Cambridge Dictionary mindset means “a person’s way of thinking and their opinions”, whereas the Oxford English dictionary says “The established set of attitudes held by someone.” So what does that really mean to us? Mindset is beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities, your intelligence, your talents, your personality, as well as your attitude towards life, problems, solutions and challenges... Napoleon Hill said: “Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds”. Worldrenowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly ground-breaking idea, the power of our mindset. She explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success but whether we approach them with the right mindset. I am sure you have all heard – “Is your glass half empty or half full?” Our mindset, our attitude, our behaviour towards the fact sees the glass either half full, or the opposite, half empty.


Does the situation or fact change? – No it doesn’t. The water is exactly the same level, halfway. It is our way of looking at it, our behaviour and attitude towards the same situation which determines a different truth. Both facts are true, however we can choose to focus on the positive or the negative. You can think “My glass is half empty, there are so many things I still do not have, I want to earn more money, I want to get on the property ladder, I want to be married, I want to lose more weight and get fit”

group received exactly the same shake, but one was told that they had a 600 calories indulgent shake, whereas the others were informed they had a 140 calories skinny shake. The researchers then measured participants’ levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your brain to increase appetite. Those who thought they drank the 620-calorie shake experienced a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake, so the mindset actually affected the hunger and the level of the fullness. You CAN use your mindset to lose weight, get fit and be healthy. This is how powerful our mind is!

Or you can approach life saying “My glass is already half full, I have already accomplished many great things in my life, I have a job, I have somewhere to live, I have the ability to learn and progress and get a promotion, I have good friends in my life I can count on, I have started to exercise and I am already eating healthier Shifting your mindset about how than I did a few months ago”.

Shifting your mindset about how to lose weight is the biggest factor in losing weight.

Most people try to lose weight with the worst state of mind possible, wanting to “fix” themselves. They jump into diets and exercise plans, calling themselves “fat”, going on unhealthy to lose weight is the biggest factor FAD diets, then they get In a study published obsessed with results, in losing weight. in the journal jump on the scale every Psychological Science, day, focus on quick fixes hotel cleaning crews were told that the work and lose sight of sustainability and health. they do is good exercise and it is a good part This type of thinking can be destructive, of an active lifestyle. Subjects in the control says board-certified North Carolina internal group were not given this information. medicine physician Dr. Kevin Campbell. Four weeks later, the first group perceived “Rather than focusing on the good that can themselves to be getting significantly more come of weight loss – such as better health, exercise than before. As a result, compared a longer life, more enjoyment in everyday with the control group, they showed a activities and the prevention of diabetes and decrease in weight, blood pressure, body heart disease – these folks focus on negative fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. thoughts. Ultimately, a negative mindset Mindset alone caused physiological changes leads to failure.” in their body. Instead try to focus on small goals, losing There was also another study where weight should be a result of a healthier participants were divided in two groups lifestyle but should not be the goal. Did you and given a 380 calories milkshake. Each have your 5 a day? Did you sleep enough? 14 |

her story matters


Did you have some meat for lunch? Did you only have one glass of wine whilst out with friends? They seem like small things but once completed you can add more to your list. It is much easier to adopt small changes and work towards the bigger picture and long term healthy lifestyle. Try not to categorise food as bad or good, or do not look at exercise as a punishment. If you want to have a slice of cake then have it, and do not punish yourself for it in the gym. If you don’t like running then choose something you enjoy and refresh both your body and soul. Don’t forget any exercise is good for the body, so you don’t have to struggle through an hour long spin class if you would rather swim or do boxing. Make healthy choices day by day but do not punish yourself after a pizza night with friends, instead enjoy it, embrace it, knowing that you do choose healthy options most of the time, and you can look after your body in the long term. The bible says “Everything is possible for those that believe.” Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation can become the next top model, or fitness model? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown, that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training, so keep positive and don’t be hard on yourself, You deserve the same respect and compassion as anyone else; treat yourself like it. Don’t feel proud or guilty about every food choice you make. It’s just food, and you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about wanting the occasional cookie. Have your salad and chicken, but give yourself permission to have a glass of wine or a slice of chocolate cake. Focus on attainable goals and small changes, and don’t go on and off a diet, just slowly adopt those healthy habits, enjoy your life and even if you fall off the wagon for one meal of a day just have that positive mindset and believe in yourself and know that you can get straight back on track.

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her story matters

Eszter O’Donoghue Is a Level 3 qualified personal trainer, fitness model competitor with years of experience in health and fitness, she has a degree in communication and journalism with 5 years’ experience.


My name is

Sharniya Ferdinand

and this is my story...

Sharniya Ferdinand is a business growth enabler at NatWest based in North London. She supports the entrepreneurial and SME market helping businesses to develop and grow through organising and hosting a series of Educational networking events.

Sharniya was born and grew up in Marston Green, South East Birmingham. She grew up in a single parent household in what is considered less affluent circumstances and faced barriers growing up.

This didn’t stop her from achieving success through hard work. Here is the interview of this remarkable woman.

What values did your parents instill in you that shaped your path

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Through hosting these events and bringing communities together I can do that little bit to help people feel as though they can achieve anything and that they belong.

her story matters

My parents always made me feel as if I could be anything I wanted to be, they always told me I was clever enough to do anything I wanted to do and I think due to this viewpoint instilled in me from the beginning (that if I worked hard enough I could shape my own destiny) I have never felt as though there was someone/something holding me back.


the past 4 years. While my career path hasn’t necessarily been the smoothest I never felt that this was due to aspects of my life creating barriers in the working world. My mother taught me to be kind and tolerant of others, and my father taught me to be bold and work hard to achieve my goals.

What influenced your path to banking To be honest I wouldn’t say I was influenced into banking, it wasn’t the path I initially chose. Following completion of my post graduate degree I did a master’s degree in Event Management and while I was doing my MA I found a back office job with the bank. After I finished my MA I wanted to move to London and so applied for another role internally.

Since then I have found that opportunities have presented themselves and I have been fortunate enough to be able to make the most of them. That has led me to the path that I am on now.

Where did you work before NatWest While I was at University I worked part time at the Fragrance Shop. Upon completion of my studies I was promoted to Assistant Manager of the store. I felt I needed a break from academia I worked as an Assistant Manager for the following year, before applying for a Master’s Degree in Events and Exhibition Management at Birmingham City University.

While I was studying I worked full time for the bank and since graduating I have gained experience in various roles within the bank over 17 |

her story matters

What do you like most about what you do What I love about my job now is the freedom I have to host and be involved with events that help to champion those whose “demographics” could be a barrier to their professional advancement. At NatWest we have a Women in Business programme and my role within that is to host women in business specific events to provide support to female entrepreneurs.

For the latter half of this year and moving into next year my own particular focus is to host more diversity focussed events and focus on diversity as a whole, I will host events to champion, female business owners, LGBT business owners, BME business owners and business owners with a disability. I want to live in a world where ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ aren’t just buzz words for how we should be behaving but for everyone to feel as though they have a right to be in a room together and not one of the privileged few.

But until that time comes for now what I love most about my job is that through hosting these events and bringing communities together I can do that little bit to help people feel as though they can achieve anything and that they belong.

What has been the most defining moments for you My final year in university was hard! I did not come from the most privileged background and I had to work throughout university in order to be able to afford to pay rent and fund my social life. During second and third year I worked part time


for the fragrance shop, and due to circumstances at home I stepped up in order to help out during my third year. I was promoted to Assistant Manager - but this was under the stipulation that I had to work a 30 hour week. At the time I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity and although it meant between work and studying I didn’t have any spare hours other than bed time I chose to accept the promotion. For 6 months of my life I worked incredibly hard and it was difficult, I admit at times I wanted to quit the job and there were other times I was worried I may not pass. However I came out with a really good grade and have to say that moment has probably made me the proudest I have ever been in my life. I learned that sometimes you have to say yes to opportunities and just make it work. I believe that having to work that hard really shaped me and was the catalyst for developing the work ethic I have today. Also I would say there are always going to be moments where we doubt ourselves and are unsure of the path we are on, if its the right one but I think following gut instincts is so important. When you want something bad enough and work hard to make it happen you can achieve anything.

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What do you do to unwind When I manage to find the time, I write a blog although I haven’t paid as much attention to that recently as I should have.

I go to the gym, I discovered a latent love for running and try to get to the gym a few times a week. Mostly I love spending time with my family and friends - I am often out for dinner and drinks. I love food and trying different restaurants as well as trying to cook new recipes, I love experimenting in the kitchen. I am a massive fan of musical theatre, if I was able to I would probably spend my time in the front row of every show in the west end, I adore going to the ballet, as well as going out dancing, I’m often the last one standing even when my feet are burning.

What mantra do you live by Do more of what makes you happy!


Welcome to your New Normal! an interview with

LENKA LUTONSKA

Lenka Lutonska is a fire-filled, tacticallytrained business strategist and mindset maven, an NLP certified master coach and trainer amongst other amazing things, but most importantly she is a mum to 3 boys and a wife to a wonderful husband. Lenka inspires thousands of people and has great ethics and integrity in business. She helps thousands achieve financial freedom. We got to learn a lot more about her journey in this interview.

What was it like growing up for you? I originally come from Slovakia. My sister died of Meningitis when I was 2 years old and this influenced my parents dramatically. It was that day, in my Dad’s words, “when he forsake God”. Since that day, he became very bitter and channeled all hope for his children into me. Meaning, his expectations of me were very high. At school we were learning how to read “Mama” and “Emma”, I’d be required to read magazine articles at home with zero mistakes. I was often beaten up with a leather belt when I made mistakes or got marked at school with anything less than ‘outstanding.’ As such, I became a very 19 |

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determined child with not only desire but NEED to excel. At the same time, this strict upbringing had a profound effect on my confidence. By the time I was a teenager, I was bulimic with suicidal thoughts. While these were certainly dark times, at the same time it gave birth to my desire to ‘change the world’ and help many other people – because I wanted to help myself. At around the same time, a local priest gave me an opportunity to mentor a group of troubled kids (well, more troubled than me :). I’d meet with them weekly and facilitated group sessions where I would encourage self-betterment through metaphors, stories, self-expression, and art. It was my first experience as a coach! It gave me a taste of how incredibly rewarding working with people and coaching can be.

Are women empowered in your society? Generally speaking, empowered is probably a strong word. We are certainly not oppressed either. I would say each and every woman has the opportunity to empower herself.

You came to UK at 19. What was that like for you? At school during English lessons we learned about London and how it’s a cosmopolitan city where


dreams come true. Well, that was enough for me. When I finished college and was due to start University, I run away with £30 in my pocket and came to London. The beginnings were hard, of course. I got myself a job in McDonald’s as a cleaner and lived in places charging the lowest possible rent. Sometimes it meant sleeping in a room full of mold. I stuck with it though and worked for McDonald’s for 6 years (becoming an award-winning business manager managing 100s of people and millions of turnover), bought my first house, and in the meantime, I learned what I could about the human mind. I studied psychotherapy, counseling and hypnotherapy, and eventually, Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP truly grabbed my heart and I KNEW from the get-go this would be my way to fulfill my dream. I trained to the highest level (as Master NLP Coach and accredited Trainer) and in 2007 I left my job and started to deliver accreditation NLP courses all over the UK. This was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey.

What step did you take towards your bigger dreams? I have always been willing to give up comfort for something that is huge and meaningful (and a hugely successful business that changes many lives certainly is) - and bet on myself. To get trained as an accredited NLP trainer and

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started my business. I left a very secure job (I was considered a ‘high-flier’ with huge potential in the company), sold my house and my car to fund the training and business startup. I believe in my dreams no matter what and using every set-back as a springboard to greater growth and success.

What was your greatest setback? My greatest setback happened around 6 years into my entrepreneurial life. I made one gigantic mistake and it cost me an entire business and my livelihood with it. My confidence suffered a lot, and as such it took me over two to rebuild my business and breathe financially again. Those two years were very hard for me, because I felt like I was working ‘so hard and I still could not work out how to run a successful business again’, questioning my self-worth etc, but also for my family (I had two boys by that point). We were living off my husband’s modest salary, which often meant an inability to pay bills on time, and frequent worries about what’s next. In spite of that, I remained strong in my faith, continued working on myself continued and taking leaps of faith. My business would never be what it is today without those 2 hard years. It allowed me to connect with my spiritual nature fully and grow a business from a place of love rather than fear.

I have always been willing to give up comfort for something that is huge and meaningful (and a hugely successful business that changes many lives certainly is) - and bet on myself.


That experience changed everything for me and caused extraordinary growth in my business. That’s what I teach my clients and therefore I am blessed to witness ‘miracles’ and quantum leaps they create in their lives and businesses on daily bases. I’ve learned that business growth is not linear. It’s emotional journey. It’s a spiritual journey. And every woman who is willing to take it is rewarded tremendously.

How do you select who to work with? I work with clients who desire to make an extraordinary impact in the world, and their lives with it. Many of my clients grew their businesses to multiple six figures and beyond very quickly. This can, however, only happen if they are willing to be challenged, willing to take risks, willing to take full responsibility and make things happen, rather than waiting for things to happen. These are some of the things I am looking for when holding client interviews. When am looking for a coach I look for someone who is able to hold my big vision, if they are experts in their field, Whether they will be able to challenge me and push me and if they have integrity and can be honest with me. These are some of the ethos I practice as a great coach and I am looking for the same.

You are a very ambitious woman. What drives you? Making a difference. The way I see it the more my business grows, the more difference I am making in the world. Woman by woman, group by group.

Some women struggle with running a household and running businesses what advice can you give that has helped you in your journey? This may sound very controversial but I would suggest learning to be a bit more selfish. Put YOUR needs before your partner’s needs and yes even 21 |

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before your children’s’ needs. Why? Because when we women are willing to look after ourselves first, fill our own cup, then EVERYONE around us benefits. I had to learn this too and without it I know for sure I would not be able to run a successful business and have a happy family at the same time. I learned to ask for help left, right and center. I learned to say no when I meant no, instead of saying “yes” because other people expect me to. Also, I learned to do things before I feel ready.

What 2 things can you suggest to someone struggling with finances to implement that might change their circumstances? 1. Go out there and sell. Every day. Prospect and follow up. No matter how uncomfortable, no matter how scary. The surest way to overcome financial struggles is to make money. But it doesn’t happen without selling! 2. Acknowledge that your financial circumstances do not matter. How you feel about your financial circumstances matters. Circumstances do NOT create circumstances. It’s our state of being that does that.


How do you spend your free time? Family first of course. I love spending quality time with my 3 boys and husband. I also love great conversations with friends, time with myself and a good book. What 3 things would you advice anyone who wants to start a business similar to yours? 1. Believe in your dreams more than in the BS your mind wants to feed you with. 2. ACT upon your intuition. Your intuition is uncovering the path to your greatness at all times. So walk it! Act upon your intuition, even if your ego says that it’s too early, too irresponsible, too risky, too whatever. 3. Work on yourself every single day. One thing I learned is that our businesses can grow only as

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much as we allow ourselves to grow - as women, entrepreneurs, and conscious creators.

What principles do you live by? I’m doing my best to act from the place of love rather than fear. Sometimes I get it wrong. And sometimes I get it right. I am still learning this as I believe it’s the most important thing - and the key to incredible happiness, wealth, health and success. I’m also doing my best, to be honest with others at all times. It’s sometimes hard to be truthful, but it is always meaningful. I believe that honesty is one of the best coaching, sales and business building tool on the planet.

What’s next for you Lenka? Making more difference in the world. :) woman by woman, group by group, day by day. :)


In the

Kitchen with

Andreea

Being a chef gives me an opportunity to be creative with food and have a different mix to food prep and combination. I love being fluid with food and mix flavours, below are some quick meals that you can make that enhance health and great for nutrition.

Spaghetti Squash This meal is full of nutrients vital to the body’s functioning. The tender, yellow strands are so much like spaghetti, especially when you top them with a rich, savory tomato sauce and a sprinkle of Brazil Nut Basil “Parmesan”. This recipe will be an instant favorite with family and friends, so you might want to make a double batch. Freeze a batch of the sauce so that you always have some at hand when the urge for a big bowl of spaghetti strikes! The Benefits of Squash (especially zucchini and spaghetti squash) include: Helps stabilize your thyroid and increase its production of thyroid hormones T4 and T3. Helps restore your liver and support its ability to convert thyroid hormones. Provides easily assimilable glucose for the brain and the rest of the nervous system to help heal inflamed nerves. Onions and scallions are A fantastic resource because of their sulfur content. Garlic Has antiviral and antibacterial qualities it also helps flush toxic viral and bacterial waste out of the lymphatic system.

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Tomatoes Contain their own variety of vitamin C that’s bioavailable to the lymphatic system and liver, supports the immune system to keep it strong, and prohibits virus from traveling through the body with ease. It’s vitamin C content is also a support to the thyroid’s own immune system in the neck area. When growing, tomatoes absorb and collect the moonlight’s frequency at night, just as the thyroid collects the sun’s rays during the day. This means that when consumed, tomatoes strengthen the thyroid’s radio-like frequencies, helping to create balance and homeostasis with all of the body’s organs and glands. Nuts (especially walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews) Hold trace minerals such as zinc, selenium, and manganese that are helpful in supporting the thyroid. Walnuts for example hold antiviral and antibacterial phytochemical compounds.


Spaghetti Squash "Bolognese" ingredients: 1 large spaghetti squash 2 cups diced red onion 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 cups cherry tomatoes 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional) 1 teaspoon chilli powder 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1 teaspoon garlic powder ¼ teaspoon curry powder ¼ teaspoon sea salt ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 5 minutes in hot water ¼ cup Brazil Nut Basil “Parmesan” (see below)

Brazil Nut Basil Parmesan ingredients: ¼ cup Brazil nuts ¼ teaspoon sea salt ¼ teaspoon dried basil 1 garlic clove

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method: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Carefully slice the spaghetti squash in half and discard the seeds. Fill a baking tray with ½ inch of water and place the squash halves cut side down in the tray. Bake the squash for 30 to 40 minutes until one finger pressed gently into the exterior of the squash leaves an indentation. Remove the squash halves from the oven. When they are cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape down the insides of the squash creating “spaghetti” strands. Divide the squash noodles between two bowls. To make the “Bolognese,” place the diced onion into a medium saucepan along with 2 tablespoons of water. Sauté the onion over medium-high heat until translucent and tender. Continue adding water by the tablespoon as needed to prevent sticking.


chilli powder, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, curry powder, sea salt, and sun-dried tomatoes to the saucepan and continue cooking, stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes, until the tomatoes soften. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce ingredients together until combined but still chunky. Alternatively, transfer to a standing blender and pulse blend, making sure to leave the top ajar for steam to escape. Serve the sauce over the top of the spaghetti squash noodles. Top with the Brazil Nut Basil “Parmesan” and enjoy! To make the Parmesan, place the brazil nuts, sea salt, basil, and garlic into the blender or food processor and pulse briefly until small crumbles form.

Healing Power of Celery Celery is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods, because it starves unproductive bacteria, yeast, mold, fungus, and viruses that are present in the body and flushes their toxins and debris out of the intestinal tract and liver. Pathogens like these are so often the underlying cause of inflammation—in their absence, your body is much better able to handle whatever life throws your way. At the same time, celery helps good bacteria thrive.

Consuming celery is the most powerful way to alkalize the gut. That’s in part because celery (which is technically an herb, not a vegetable) is high in bioactive sodium. It also contains cofactor micro trace mineral salts as yet undiscovered in research. These are varieties of sodium and other trace minerals (more than 60 of them) that are present in celery and work symbiotically and systematically with each other and with celery’s regular sodium to raise your body’s pH and rid toxic acids from every crevice of your body, including your gut. This process is ideal to cleanse and repair intestinal linings.

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Adding celery juice to your diet is the best way to resolve ammonia permeability, an unrecognized condition in which ammonia gas seeps through the intestinal lining and causes health issues such as dental rot and brain fog. While celery may seem to some like a bland, boring food, it is anything but. In addition celery improves kidney function, helps restore the adrenals, and can even bring ease to one’s mind and thought patterns, with its mineral salts feeding electrical impulse activity and supporting neuron function, which is key if you suffer with ADHD, brain fog, or memory loss. When it comes to celery, think electrolytes. It hydrates on


a deep cellular level, lessening your chances of suffering from migraines. Celery juice is one of the greatest healing tonics of all time. We tend to hold a lot of fear in our guts in form of nervousness, sensations we know as tummy flips or butterflies in the stomach, and anxiety can run deep through the nervous system, putting our guts in knots. Celery restores the entire digestive system. Use it for its calming effects when you are feeling frightened, panicky, shocked, fretful, nervous, threatened, unsure, afraid, or defensive.

Tips! To press the reset button on your body, juice celery by itself. For the full effect, drink a full 16 ounces of fresh celery juice daily—and make sure it’s on an empty stomach to raise hydrochloric acid levels most

Celery Juice

efficiently. For dramatic results, drink two 16-ounce glasses of fresh celery juice a day. Use organic celery whenever possible. If using conventional celery, be sure to wash it especially well before juicing. If you find the taste of straight celery too strong, you can juice one cucumber and/or one apple with the celery. This is a great option as you get adjusted to the flavour, however there are more benefits when celery juice is consumed on its own. If drinking the full 16 ounces of celery juice feels like too much in the beginning, start with a few sips and work your way over time. If celery juice feels too strong for your body, you can alternatively use fresh cucumber juice instead which is more gentle but still beneficial.

Plain, fresh celery juice is one of the most powerful healing juices available to us. This clean, green drink is the very best way to start your day. Make this juice a part of your daily routine, and soon you won’t want to go a day without it!

ingredients: 1-2 heads of celery, stalks separated

method: Rinse the celery and run it through a juicer. Drink immediately. Alternatively, you can chop the celery and blend it in a high-speed blender until smooth. Strain and drink immediately.

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Amazing Super Food Bread - Gluten Free!

ingredients: Makes one loaf

2 cups of cold water 1 and a 1/2 cups of pumpkin seeds (260g) 1 cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour (200g) 1 cup of almonds (200g) 1/2 a cup of sunflower seeds (85g) 3 heaped tablespoons of psyllium husk powder 2 tablespoons of chia seeds 2 tablespoons of dried mixed herbs (I used herbs de provence but basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano etc. are all great) Salt and pepper to taste Unfortunately there is no substitute for the psyllium husk powder – they work to stick the loaf together and I’m so sorry but they’re just essential for the recipe, I tried it without them and it was just too crumbly! They’re really easy to get hold of though, every health food shop sells them.

Tip! I normally store the bread in the fridge as it makes it last longer, and if you want to freeze it that works too, I normally slice it before freezing first though to make toasting easier!

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method: 1. Simply place the almonds and one cup of the pumpkin seeds in a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes until a smooth flour forms. 2. Transfer this flour into a bowl and stir in the remaining half a cup of pumpkin seeds plus the buckwheat flour, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, psyllium husks, dried herbs and salt. 3. Stir the mix well before gradually pouring in the water. 4. You’ll then need to let the mixture sit for an hour or so to let it fully absorb all the water and firm up. During which time you can heat the oven to 180C. 5. Once the mix is nice and firm (I mean really firm, it can’t even be a tiny bit runny – if it is then add another spoon of psyillium) 6. Grease the base of a loaf tin with coconut or olive oil, pour the mix in and firmly press it down with a spoon or spatula. 7.Then place the bread in the oven and bake for forty minutes to an hour, until the top begins to brown and you can pull a knife out of the middle without any mix sticking to it. Finally, slice, smother in your favourite toppings and enjoy!


Just so perfectly thick, smooth, sweet and creamy. It melts perfectly on hot toast over a layer of crunchy almond butter, tastes delicious drizzled across a bowl of sliced banana & juicy berries and works a treat eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon!

Creamy Healthy NUTella

ingredients: Makes 1 Jar

2 cups of hazelnuts (380g) 1/2 a cup of maple syrup (125ml) plus 4 dates mejoli pitted 3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder

method: 1. Bake the hazelnuts at 180C for about ten minutes, then take them out of the oven and allow them to cool. I like to remove the skins, but you can leave this bit out if you don’t have time. 2. Once cool place them in a food processor and blend for about ten minutes, until they totally break down. Keep blending till a runny hazelnut butter forms, then pour this into a bowl. 3. Slowly pour in the maple syrup, stirring continuously to combine. 4. Then do the same with the cacao powder, adding one spoonful at a time, until you have a thick, creamy nutella!

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Bircher Muesli you need: A big bowl which will fit in the fridge Big spoon, grater

ingredients: 500G Jumbo gluten free Porridge Oats 1ltr cloudy apple juice 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut 1tbsp Vanilla Essence Juice of one lemon Juice of one lime 200g coconut yogurt Half cup pumpkin seeds Half cup goji berries

Food facts Oats are great carbohydrate with a slow release of energy which is good to have first thing in the morning to keep your energy levels up. Oats are also a good source of fibre which will help clean out colon and keep you regular.

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method: 1. Add the apple juice to the porridge oats, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, vanilla essence and the coconut and give it a stir and leave to soak overnight in the fridge. 2. In the morning add yogurt, lemon and lime juice along with the zest and grated apple.Then garnish with extra fruits or nuts and seeds of choice. This will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days.

Andreea Mocanu is a chef, personal trainer and eating psychology coach. She is passionate and dedication to healthy cooking and training.


Food with

Love Richard Leavitt

I have had the same recurring dream, I dream of moving around the world and use the food that is available to feed the needy.

I was born in Chicago Illinois I am the second of 4 children. When I was 9 years old my Father decided to move to Los Angeles. Nearly all of his family also migrated west. His mother, sister and 3 other brothers. We lived in LA for 1 year and moved to a suburb named Gardena. Where we lived for about 12 years.

When we began, we had a small truck approx. 5 Meters (16 feet). We would go to the local Food Bank and purchase approx. $200 USD worth of canned goods, dry goods and bread.

I am part of a Food Distribution Program that began in January 2012. Initially the program was started to help families in need in a city named Santa Ana California. The population is diverse however the majority are Hispanic families in need of food. I first heard about the Program starting at Church 2 days after the first distribution. The Church showed a short film clip. At the exact moment I heard Jesus speak to me and He said GO! I felt a rush of energy flow through me. I felt so excited, the next week I called and asked if I could volunteer and the group said they didn’t need any help. Well, I was stunned. Jesus said go they said no! The next week I called a day early and received the same reply. However, I ask the name of the school and just went. I went and kept going.

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I didn’t really know any of the Volunteers although I had seen them at church. So


I kept going every Friday. Slowly after about 5-6 months many of the volunteers stopped attending. One day the Leader of the program Graham Bronczyk ( the now worship Pastor for Hillsong California ) asked me if I would be interested in going to the Food Bank with him and loading the truck, I said YES! and never looked back. This was the beginning of the Blessing from the Lord. For the next few months he and I grew closer together, which was awesome because we were able to hangout and discuss the food project and the Bible, which was a double Blessing for me. He became my mentor. It was Christmas time of 2012 and the Pastor Graham was on Vacation. During the time leading up to Christmas I would discuss the types of food we were distributing (canned goods, dry goods and bread. I suggested that we pray for real food, meaning fresh fruit, vegetables dairy products and other proteins. I was at the Food Bank with another amazing man loading the truck with the usual types of food when the director of the Food Bank asked if we wanted to drive about 15 miles to a mega grocery store they have lots of food including meat, milk, dairy and fresh fruits and veggies all free. We both looked at each other and said YES!! We arrived and loaded everything they offered and stuffed it all in the truck. He and I still laugh at the memory. From that day the Local food bank offered us some fresh foods. They told us to help ourselves to the food. After a few weeks I asked how much more we could have and His reply was as much as we can distribute. So we took it all 500-800 pounds or (250-300 kilos) worth of good to distribute. After a few months we were leaving the dry goods behind and taking mostly fresh food. At this point we needed a large refrigerated truck to pick up more produce and feed more people. The families were hungry and the children were not being feed nutritional foods.

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At this point our Miracle needed a Miracle to grow and expand to better serve the community. We prayed for the increase. About 2-3 weeks later at a Church service the Lead Pastor showed a video and mentioned what we needed. Directly after the service a man walked up to the Pastor and showed a photo of a large refrigerated truck with a lift gate that holds 10 4feet by 4 feet pallets. The man said it’s yours!!

From that point onwards for over 3 years the number of families grew and the amount of food continued to increase. During that time we added a second school. We averaged 16,000 - 22,000 pound (7,200 - 10,000 kilos) per week. Over the 6+ years we’ve given over 3,500,000 pounds (1,500,000 kilos) of food to the families. The resource came in the form of donations. Remarkably enough we averaged $200 $300 weekly. During the same time period we began making weekly pickups at 2 grocery stores which have $0 cost. This is known as Grocery Rescue. We rescue before the food is discarded. What drives me is being able to Hear the voice of the Lord and walking into what He has planned for me. I would never have thought about doing something like this. By doing this Jesus changed my heart


and soul. I had a meeting last week at our original school and bumped into the Principal. We talked and she always thanks me for doing the food ministry. She asked me why after all these years I still come. We both looked at each other and I said Jesus sent me here and now He has changed my life forever. Many of the children have moved on to middle school and several come by every Friday to serve along side of me and oftentimes their little brothers and sisters and cousins. The Principal said this school has also changed her life also. She has become a big advocate for the Hispanic families in the neighborhood. This is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the City.

that would like more details. Integrity is big for me. Being kind to all, be the Light wherever I am, share compassion and love. I have had the same recurring dream, I dream of moving around the world and use the food that is available to feed the needy. Because I have lived this Miracle, I see children receiving nutritional foods and ending the cycle of malnutrition and under developed brains from lack of vitamins. The financial cost weekly is not high. What is needed the most are people with compassion and love in their hearts, willing to serve and to be bold with prayers. The food is all around us. 6+ years later, I am the person that was not needed or wanted, sort of an outcast but I am the only one still here. I heard Brian Houston from Hillsong Church speak once. He was asked how you were able to grow. He said “In the beginning I went and I kept going and going and going�

My advice to anyone that would like to do something similar is to research the area and figure out what the community needs. Pray about it‌ and have patience. With God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. In American 40% of the food produced goes in the Trash while it is still edible. I would find a location, we use elementary schools because families come there. Most families have no car and they walk. We found if we use higher level of schools sometimes some of the kids make fun of the needy. I would be so happy to discuss this with anyone

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In the very near future we to build the First Learning Garden in the City of Santa Ana (the Garden With Love). I am building a team of people that have a heart for the children. The children have a difficult time learning because they speak Spanish at home and English at school. Many have very little food and often times go to sleep hungry. I believe that they will be able to learn their lessons outdoors and be more alert and excited. In California there are lesson plans approved by the State for teaching in a Garden. For more information, visit: https://newportchurch.com/community/


WOMEN in

STEM

attain successa lesser degree than in the what they do to ugh to in the STEM workforce, altho

sented n Women remain underrepre While there are more wome . top the to gh ou thr ak bre difficult to occupy past. They are still finding it retain them and have them to lt cu diffi y ver l stil its el, junior lev attainable entering the STEM sectors at . This does not help build an de ma are s ion cis de nt rta and impo to this top positions where crucial r paths. So, what contributes ree ca EM ST in s yer pla ble become via d to climb environment for women to m the women who manage fro rn lea we n ca at Wh ? EM n in ST underrepresentation of wome m successful? the ladder? What makes the

They know who they are, what

the face and the voice of your vision in each one of

they want and what they want to

your daily interactions. You must focus on what you

contribute First things first, as a woman in STEM, it is important to be real with yourself about what you know, where you are and what you want to accomplish. It is critical to do some self-evaluation so that you can identify your strengths, needs, gaps, be open to feedback from your industry peers and to receiving new and transformative information. A good way to start is by being honest about where you are, who you are, where you want to be and how you want to position yourself in STEM. From there, think about whom you’d like to be associated with and where you’d like to get help to fill your gaps and to grow in the industry.

They create a vision and own it It is crucial not to leave your career in STEM to chance.

want to accomplish and on your goals whatever the challenges, whatever fears and doubts you have and whatever people might say to distract you.

They take action and have a strategy Women who succeed in STEM are always actionoriented because they believe there’s always a way to move forward. They approach their career strategically. They create a career plan, put the plan into action and follow through with persistence. They embrace failure when it happens. It doesn’t matter how many times they fail, they always learn from their failures and use the lessons to revise their plan and strategy when appropriate and necessary.

They work harder and go the extra miles

As a woman in STEM, you must create a powerful and positive vision of your future. You must commit

A number of successful women in STEM said that they

to it completely and believe it. You have to become

had to work harder than male co-workers to receive the same level of respect and rewards. They had to

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work harder and put themselves out there more for

They embraced their imposter

people to take them seriously and think they know

syndrome

what they are doing. They had to continually exceed expectation to prove that they are competent, do and give more than they are asked, put their best craft on the table and achieve excellence in everything they do.

They create mastermind alliance

The imposter syndrome is quite common among “High Achievers�. What the key factor is how it is handled by each woman. The imposter syndrome is something to grow out as you encounter new challenges when you climb the corporate ladder. The imposter syndrome and a strong work ethic keeps you challenged and

Successful women in STEM had to align themselves

pushes you to learn and accomplish more until you

with powerful people who could empower them, learn

realize that you are not an imposter anymore and

from and motivate them to search for higher ground.

belong at the table

They have accountability partners, mentors, coaches and board of directors for their career but above all, they made sure to have a male sponsor who could advocate for them in the industry.

They understand the difference between personal and professional identity

They communicate with excellence and speak up It is very frequent in STEM fields to see women place Successful Women in STEM understand that excellent

more importance on their gender identity and not on

communication is key. Great communication skills

their professional identity. This may be because of the

open doors for them, it did give them confidence,

masculine context of STEM, women who have a strong

strength and power to create multiple opportunities

self-concept of their gender but not professional may

for senior and executive positions. Speaking up and

struggle to fit in. It is essential for women in STEM

contributing their thoughts was essential to help solve

to focus more on their professional identity than on

industry problems and raise their profile.

their gender and on the glass ceiling if they want to succeed and excel. They must enter the STEM fields with boldness and total confidence. They don’t have to be small for men to be big or fear their own power. Women should realize that they can actually exhibit all their power whatever intimidation they are creating in their environment. They should never apologize for what they can accomplish and bring to the STEM fields.

About the Author:

Mireille Toulekima

Mireille Toulekima is a renowned expert in oil and gas investment accross emerging and developing markets, with expertise in developing fit-for-purpose local content policies, strategy and processes, combined with vast technical experience in oil and fas project management and execution.

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Laikipia: Exquisite Accommodations and Game-Rich Plains

The tea is piping hot, just the way I like it. It warms the stomach and heats the body. The waiter moves round the table, jotting down orders. As we dig into breakfast, we discuss the distance we need to cover and how long it will take to get to Laikipia... Someone shares about a past trip. My mind wanders to my maiden trip to the vast county which is flanked by the green grasslands of Mt Kenya on one side and the desert lands of northern Kenya on the other. It was a flying safari to Segera Retreat, located in Central Laikipia. The retreat, a stunning property built from timber is owned by former PUMA CEO Jochen Zeitz. Laikipia boasts of several such gorgeous, world-class lodges and camps. Have you heard of Arijiju? It is an underground lodge situated at the heart of Laikipia, considered to be Africa’s most beautiful holiday home by the likes of Conde Nast Traveller 35 |

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and the Telegraph. But exquisite properties are not the only thing that Laikipia is known for. A decade ago, with the aim of conserving the rich wildlife that roams its plains, huge chunks of private land in Laikipia were transformed into conservancies. So dotted all over Laikipia are private game reserves that are packed with wildlife and that often just have one or two accommodation lodges in hundreds of acres of land. This takes exclusivity to a whole new level. Before long, breakfast is over and we drive on past the agricultural fields of Nyeri and Naro Moru on to Nanyuki, the capital of Laikipia. It is a small town founded in 1907 by British settlers, some of whose descendants can be found in the area to date. The British influence persists too because the town is a training ground for the British Army. After another 45 minutes, we arrive at the entrance of OlPejeta Conservancy, our first stop of this two-day safari through Laikipia. It is 1 o’clock and my stomach reminds me rather loudly that the morning’s breakfast has long been forgotten.


David, our driver guide alights from the landcruiser and walks to the office to pay for park entry fees. I alight too, to stretch after the long drive. I turn around and come face to face with the lady herself, in all her beauty. There are no clouds around her to hide her splendour. I lean on the vehicle and stare at Mt Kenya in appreciation, thoughts of a planned selfie-thon (#roadtrip) all but forgotten. Unlike other mountains, Mt Kenya is never shy about her beauty, she often flaunts it, rarely hiding behind the clouds that tend to materialize from the blue. Just as I reach for the camera, David gets back to the land cruiser, I reluctantly follow suit. I know it’s not the last time I’ll lay my eyes on her.

others. “I’m sorry, the sanctuary is closed”, the guard informs us. We are 20 minutes late. David makes a passionate plea on our behalf (the rest of us chime in with lots of ‘please’ eventually the guard relents. He takes us to the enclosure where a chimp family is going about the business of winding down the day. Typically, mama chimp approaches the wired fence to find out who would come to visit so late and much less without notice. She didn’t have time to lay out her best china or make sure the kids are in their best outfits. We assure her this is a brief visit. The guard gives us a brief history of the sanctuary and shares interesting anecdotes of the chimps. As we leave, we thank the guard profusely and promise to be on time on the next visit. 36 |

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We drive off to Kicheche Laikipa Camp for lunch. It is a small lodge with just six spacious tents and a waterhole that attracts zebras, antelopes and a host of other wildlife, making it perfect for some armchair game viewing. The hosts are wonderful and with immense knowledge of the destination. Between soaking in the information and copious glasses of wine, the afternoon rushes by and we soon have to head out to Sweetwaters Tented Camp, our accommodation for the night. As we drive past the conservancy information office, we came across signage for the chimpanzee sanctuary. Ol Pejeta hosts the only chimpanzee sanctuary in Kenya. It is home to tens of chimps rescued from war torn areas such as the DR Congo among

At about 1830hrs, David drives into Sweetwaters Tented Camp. The assistant camp manager meets us with cold glasses of fresh juice which is highly appreciated. He can tell we are exhausted and swiftly assigns us rooms. As I let the hot shower wash the day off my body, I am grateful for the opportunity to travel and cannot wait for what Laikipia has to offer tomorrow.

Part II of the story in the next edition. Sarah Mwangi Sarah is a marketing executive, bitten by the travel bug that has seen her travel widely through her home country of Kenya. She blogs about her experiences.


My name is

Sharleen Linton

and this is my story...

Sharleen Linton has worked with many artists such as Adele, Smokey Robinson and Jennifer Hudson and coached artists like Rita Ora since 2003. She has also designed and delivered courses and masterclasses to music schools such as Academy of Contemporary Music, Access to Music etc. She has qualifications in psychology, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, a psychological version of acupuncture with no needles, used to release negative emotion), counselling and vocal technique and has combined this unique approach to form Vocal Therapy Coaching.

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“

Trust your instincts. This will help you select your team well and build your self-esteem.

her story matters


How was it for you growing up? I was very studious, my mum got rid of the Television so I dedicated my time to music and books. I was always singing and writing poetry, I remember reading a novel a night and being sporty. I would tackle the boys at football and score! My mother is a vocal coach and I grew up listening to her coach people in our living room. I knew I could sing from a young age but it didn’t occur to me to make my living in the music industry until I finished my Psychology degree. I was on an interview to do my masters in Counselling Psychology and was thinking it just wasn’t for me. I got accepted to do my masters and it was either I do that or music. I chose music.

You recently wrote a blog on artists and their diva behaviour is that from personal experience with them? I have definitely observed diva behaviour in my time! But I also know where that behaviour comes from. At its core it shows me the artist has a fear of not doing well or they are not enough in some way. This causes them to control their external circumstances in a way that could be conceived as being ‘diva-ish’ when really they feel out of control and disempowered. The best thing about my job is helping an artist who is petrified and then as a result of the coaching they become calm and remember how powerful they are. I also 38 |

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love watching artists perform, take on the vocal techniques I give them and knock their performance out of the park! Makes me feel so proud of them!

What are the 3 things you would say is needed in the entertainment industry? 1. Know who you are and don’t allow negativity to affect you. Let your own voice of self-love be the loudest and most authoritative. 2. Trust your instincts. This will help you select your team well and build your selfesteem. 3. Be aware of your thoughts. Your voice does what your mind tells it to. When your mind is stressed and feeling intimidated your voice closes down. When you are feeling joyful and relaxed your voice opens and all of your ability comes to the forefront!

Which artists you worked with inspired you the most? Adele was the artist who inspired me to set up the company, My Vocal Therapy, and fueled my decision to be a Vocal Therapy Coach, this happened when I realised she had stage fright. I felt great compassion towards her and registered the domain name for the company shortly afterwards.


Recently I coached Rita Ora as she was hosting the MTV EMAS in London, It was such a pleasure because she is so open to receive new techniques and she’s a great girl! As a vocal therapy coach I help recording artists feel empowered and centered in their value, sing amazingly with less effort and with great vocal technique and to release negative emotion on the spot with a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique (also called tapping). It’s a psychological form of acupuncture (no needles) and works on the meridian points in the body to release anxiety, nervousness and can even effect addiction and past trauma.

What is the biggest obstacle you had to date in your career? It has been my mental transition from professional backing singer to Vocal Therapy Coach. I was comfortable as a backing singer.

Do you see inequality in this industry? There is inequality in terms of pay and women sexualized in order to get ahead. I think women have to be more centered in who they are and how valuable they are. We can’t rely on the system to change it. In the meantime we owe it to ourselves to surround ourselves with things that build us up; our friends, content we consume online, books...anything we can 39 |

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get our hands on. Women are ridiculously powerful! What advice would you give an aspiring artist? To have passion and the burning desire to be an artist above anything else. It is this passion that will help you navigate the ups and downs of the industry.

How do you spend your free time? I meditate and practice Yoga which helps me remember how powerful I am and helps me unwind! I also like connecting with good friends and my family they’re everything to me, I love to dance and intimate dinner parties.

What’s your favourite holiday destination? It will have to be Jamaica. I adore it, every time I go I feel at home and reset. The sun, culture and land is everything to me!

What’s next for Sharleen? The focus is on growing My Vocal Therapy Coaching company and experience personal growth in the process. Connect at www.myvocaltherapy.com and @myvocaltherapy.


A different perspective We are Hannahs and the world is full of Peninnah. We desire to have 10 sons to show off rather than wait on God to give us that one son that will stand out. Let us not seek to be like Gomer. Seeking for materialistic things

Our proverbs 31 sister says “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Do you believe God says that about you? Do you believe that God looks at us? Yes, we all have periods, were all noble and kind, but we come with our own uniqueness. That wades like a perfume. Dazzling us in an awe that cannot be compared

Why not seek to be heuristic?

Emasculating our secular hearts and desires

Do we realise, though Gomer was doing crazy things, God still chose Gomer

Crippling her competitors

Why do I mention Gomer in such a light you ask? Well you see, Gomer could find many man that can satisfy her needs. But God took one look at Gomer… He gazed in awe because he knew the things Gomer would do for Hosea. He knew he would make Hosea love through Gomer. Hosea didn’t want a one night stand, a rendezvous, a quickie. He wanted to feel complete….just like Gomer…because Gomer means completion. And we find that completion in God in being ourselves?

Ladies, don’t let anybody steal your light because you are your own electricity.

her story matters

She grabbed her fear by the horns and stepped into the unknown. Ruth didn’t stop being ruthless there She went to the field, and picked with her sisters. But out of many women, Boaz spoiled her, not for her looks, not for her hooks Not even for how she cooked He went overlooked

for

something

people

Her dignity, her strength, her uniqueness.

Ladies, take back what was once yours, because once you own who you are, your enemies will wish they never took it from you.

The Lord tells you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made in his image.

Don’t go out there kicking that box down making noise

If our almighty can name every single star in the sky, then he can know who we are

I mean the saying goes, “A butterfly can cause a hurricane,” “An empty vessel makes the loudest noise” Be quiet in your development. Why can’t we be like Mary? Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Untouched and carrying her baby Let us all remember Ruth Ruth who was a widow like Naomi

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She fought against the utopian society, she defied the odds and went.

We are

Alice Loves God, writing poems and is currently studying media


Audaciously

UNIQUE Salome Asabre

Being audacious is being bold and courageous, being unique is standing out and embracing your differences. Being audaciously unique is a bold statement that says I love the individual I was created to be. Some people choose a life of mediocrity because of fear or what they have gone through which is a normal thing. Some need a reminder of how precious and unique they are. It’s challenging to step out and fulfil your purpose and help others along the way but there are people out there depending on you and what they were created to be and embrace their uniqueness. On this journey I have encountered a few areas in my life where I have needed encouragement and clarity that I believe sharing with you might benefit and encourage you.

My identity Presently there is a strong media culture that has influenced many people, it has made things that would be considered abnormal before to be acceptable. I was affected by media and valued myself with the job I had and beauty standards that were set by those in beauty industries. I had to look within me and identify why I viewed myself that way and was able to recognise where 41 |

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it came from, and from this I was able to adjust my lens and work on finding myself. In 2014 Actress Lupita Nyong’o delivered a powerful speech conveying how she once defined beauty as having a lighter complexion but now she is in a positon where she is considered a role model for other young black girls. If she did not adjust how she saw beauty she would not have empowered the young black girls all over the world as she has now and probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to because of lack of self-esteem. It’s unacceptable to allow others to shape and mould our identity. It’s in our uniqueness and diversity that we are able to impact others and change the world.

Relationships Losing friends is one of the hardest things to go through and can cause a lot of hurt, anger and bitterness. This happens for different reasons some because of the natural transition of life where your journey takes you in different directions. The key is not to let your heart grow cold from the pain of the loss, some periods will be lonely as you transition but it’s also the best time to know yourself and what lies within you.


Some relationships are for short periods of time depending on where you are in life and some last a lifetime. I went through a time where I lost friends and my social circle grew small. Currently my social circle is small to say the least but it has given me an opportunity to discover myself and build confidence in my ability to accomplish things that once seemed out of reach. I’m not alluding that we don’t need people because relationships are important but the clearer our understanding is of the purpose behind our relationships the better we can manage expectations, set boundaries and guard our hearts in the process.

Going beyond my comfort zone Many who have gone down this road have found it challenging and often misunderstood. Sometimes we find resistance from those close to us because they are not familiar with what we are becoming. In this process I have encountered resistance which has not only strengthened me but has also caused me to be more determined than ever. The past year I’ve had to make tough decisions that have resulted in me being out casted to some extent and looked upon negativity but my aim is to ensure I fulfil everything I’m supposed accomplish.

Keep the vision at the forefront Whatever you are believing to happen, when all stress and losses begin to get to you and you consider giving up and giving into people’s demands and opinions of you remember the life you have envisaged. Think of all the people your stories and experience will reach. We remember people like Rosa Parks and recently Malala because they chose to go against the grains. Being audaciously unique is a ‘choice’. The vision is 42 |

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only as good as the decisions you choose to make to fulfil what you have seen. It’s easier to hide, pretend and blend in because nobody asks any questions but that doesn’t bring a vision or person into their fullness. You are more than potential. You are a visionary with the ability within you to execute if only you choose to not live based on preconceived notions or what society says is ‘acceptable’.

You do not need permission You don’t need permission to be you and go after your destiny, or to hide your intellectual beauty to satisfy the status quo and neither are you ‘sassy’ for knowing what you want and striving towards it. For the longest time I hid behind what was considered acceptable by society resulting in my voice and identity being silenced but as I began to look at my life and what I had accomplished I realised that I was living below my potential. This last year has taught me not to limit myself based on what my peers are doing but to pursue who I was always destined to be. If you are still hiding behind someone’s endorsement of who they think you should be then it’s time for you to step out from behind their shadows. Being audaciously unique is a conscious decision we make daily to seek out truth and to live as we were designed to. It’s a decision that thrusts you into the position of leadership that many shy away from. It’s a decision that serves to break barriers, misaligned loyalties and thought processes. For the woman who has been fighting the good fight, I celebrate you. For the woman who has decided she will no longer allow her life to be dictated by the opinions of others, I celebrate your ‘yes’ to embarking on this journey. Embracing the call will prove to be greater than the opposition if you choose to stay the course therefore I encourage you to be audaciously unique. Salome Asabre Is a business consultant working with businesses to strengthen their client relations, workforce management and their product/service strategy positioning within the market.


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Her Story Magazine Vol 3 May 2018  

I want to thank all the contributors who work tirelessly to write great content, to women who shared their stories and to our precious reade...

Her Story Magazine Vol 3 May 2018  

I want to thank all the contributors who work tirelessly to write great content, to women who shared their stories and to our precious reade...

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