Dear wanderer,

Perhaps you grew up dreaming of receiving your Hogwarts letter, or stumbling upon Narnia. Perhaps you long to visit Pemberley, to Defy Gravity, or to go to the ball. I will write you that letter, and build you that wardrobe. [A metaphorical wardrobe, that is.] Here you will find step-by-step lesson plans with takeaway homework assignments that show you how to embody fictional heroines in the everyday. This means chasing your dreams and making the impossible happen with your own inner magic.

For the full experience, you can Own Your Story, or join me for a literary tea party.

You have the potential. Heroine Training provides the tools.

Welcome to our headquarters, where dreams meet reality, where fiction is cherished, where magic is real.

Sincerely, your guide on this journey,



P.S. Read more about Heroine Training

App Alternatives and Screen-free Solutions for the Modern Heroine

App Alternatives & Screen-free Solutions

The main difference between Jane Austen’s heroines and me

…is technology. Sometimes I dream of Regency England for its simplicity. For letter-writing to the tune of Mary Bennet playing her pianoforte.

In truth, it’s silly to wish I lived in a different age, when there are such advantages to modernity, and I can choose to opt out of whatever I find distracting. And that is exactly what I attempt to do.

Raise your hand if you spend too much of your day in front of a screen.

I spend enough time in front of a screen during the day, so I’m always looking to find ways to break my screen-using habits, especially before bed.

Here are some screen-free strategies I’ve developed to give my eyes a rest.

App Alternatives & Screen-free Solutions

Flip through a magazine or art book.

When I get into a mindless Instagram scrolling mood (mindful Instagram scrolling is totally okay!), I reach for a fashion magazine or one of my favourite art books. I have such a beautiful collection of coffee table books that often just live on the shelf. It feels like such a luxury to browse through their gorgeous pages.

Consume news mindfully on paper.

I noticed myself becoming anxious by getting my news from Twitter. These days I prefer to buy a copy of The Economist or pick up a free Guardian with my Waitrose card. When I do read the news on a screen, it’s not skimming headlines out of impulse or boredom, but getting educated more thoroughly through my daily “10 Things You Need to Know” email from The Week, or on AllSides.com, which presents news from multiple perspectives.

Keep a stack of postcards by your bed.

Sometimes I’m tempted to send a friend a message as I’m falling asleep, but this means exposing my eyes to my iPod’s screen again. Instead, I keep a stack of Disney postcards on my bedside table for jotting down these messages by hand.

Delete apps.

I cleaned up Kiki (my iPod)’s collection of apps to the bare minimum. I don’t have a smartphone, and mainly use my iPod for podcasts, music, and Instagram. I have to remind myself to avoid the rabbit hole of having too much information at my fingertips. I deleted Twitter and Facebook, choosing to limit my use to these addictive apps to my more-mindful browser instead.

Take email off your phone.

Checking email too often does more harm than good. I disconnected email from the Mail app, deleted the Gmail app, and logged out of Chrome. I use LastPass to store my passwords, so if I need to access email, I can, but it’s a hassle. I prefer to check email once a day, in a focused fashion.

Related: A Minimalist’s Guide to Gmail

Carry a camera.

Sometimes I bring my iPod places I don’t need to because I want to use the camera. Then I end up using it for other things. I have a fancy DSLR camera (called Thomas), so sometimes I bring him instead of Kiki (my iPod).

Take advantage of multimedia options.

When you do use messaging apps, consider using voice memos or sending videos. I consider which medium would be suit the message at hand. Recording a message can be easier on the eyes and posture than tapping on a tiny keyboard, and might be easier for the recipient to consume as well!

Plus, some problems I’m still solving [I need your help]:

  • I’ll often bring Kiki to count my steps as I’m a slave to my Pedometer app. I’m considering getting a fitbit to prevent this, but it’s expensive, and another thing to carry around. Thoughts?
  • I miss the days of popping a CD into my yellow boombox and enjoying an album from start to finish. Now I have to fiddle with selecting music on iTunes or the music app. Getting a record player is something I’m considering for my wish list. Any other suggestions?

Xandra

P.S. I also prefer to give my eyes a rest by navigating without a smartphone.

This lesson is filed under HUFFLEPUFF for encouraging patience and dedication to one task at a time.

St. Louis, MO / Fit for a Heroine

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO / BY ERIN COOK

Welcome to St. Louis!

St. Louis is a great place to visit, full of live music, art, excellent food, and adventure. It is also full of history (the Dred Scott Trial and the 1904 World’s Fair among other events) and was home to Maya Angelou, Betty Grable, Susan Blow, Virginia Minor, and Josephine Baker. I came to visit for a weekend and loved it so much that I decided to stay!

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO

Greet the morning in peaceful Tower Grove.

Start your St. Louis adventure in the beautiful Tower Grove neighbourhood. Grab breakfast at the stunning French bakery La Patisserie Chouquette, or spend a couple of dollars (cash only) on fabulous donuts at World’s Fair Donuts.

Then stop in at the Missouri Botanical Garden and spend some time roaming among the flowers and trees. You don’t want to miss the Climatron, which is 80+ degrees year round.

The Japanese Garden and the Tower Grove House are other must-see parts of your visit. I especially love to sit in the Woodland Garden, near the stream, and write.

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO

Get your climb (and slide, and crawl) on at City Museum.

Next, if it’s a weekday, head to City Museum. For this part of your day, you’ll really want close toed shoes, long pants, and maybe even some kneepads! If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Friday or Saturday, save this for the evening, when there are fewer small children.

City Museum is really the highlight of your adventure. It’s part playground, part circus, part art installation, and part museum. Make sure you try out the 10-story slide in the caves (if the roof is open, you can avoid the 10-story climb by taking the elevator to the roof).

If you’re feeling especially brave, head outside to MonstroCity and make the slightly terrifying climb across a wrought-iron slinky suspended 100 feet in the air from an airplane to a slide.

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO

Breathe in some quiet and beauty at the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis.

After City Museum, you’ll want to catch your breath. Head west toward the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis, which houses the largest collection of mosaics in the world.

The Basilica is open to visitors except during mass, and you can arrange a tour in advance if you’d like to hear more about the history of the building. Otherwise, wander around on your own and try not to get a neck ache marvelling at the gorgeous art.

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO

Chow down and shop in the Central West End.

The nearby trendy Central West End is a great place to shop and people watch. If you’ve worked up an appetite, I recommend Pi Pizzeria for lunch. Try something with provel, our locally famous cheese!

Then head down the street to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which lives up to the name. You’ll also want to visit Left Bank Books next door to Jeni’s. Keep an eye out for the bookstore cat, who always enjoys a good chin scratching.

Have an adventure in Forest Park.

Forest Park could encompass a weeklong visit all on its own. It is one of the largest urban parks in the United States and was the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. The park contains a zoo (recently voted the best in the nation), art museum, science center, and history museum, all of which have free admission. On summer evenings, the MUNY offers outdoor musical theater that is not to be missed.

While parking in museum lots is expensive, all of the street parking in the park is free, so you can save big by doing a little walking.

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO

Relax like a local on Art Hill.

Before leaving Forest Park, make your way to the Grand Basin and Art Hill, next to the Art Museum. I have never, anywhere in the world, felt more like I was in a Jane Austen novel than when strolling around the Grand Basin at sunset.

It is a very popular St. Louis pastime to sit on a blanket on Art Hill in the evening with snacks and a drink (you can have alcohol in the park if you’re having a picnic!). Bring a book, a kite, a frisbee, or your dog. If you like, the Boathouse Restaurant will pack you a snack that you can take out on a paddle boat and eat while you explore the Grand Basin by water.

Finish with a bang in the Delmar Loop.

As your evening winds down, head to the Delmar Loop. If you like, you’ll soon even be able to take the new Loop Trolley from the Missouri History Museum over to the Loop.

Once you’re there, enjoy shopping, food, and live music. I highly recommend Avalon Exchange for vintage and gently-used clothing. Bowl at Pin Up Bowl, see a show at the Pageant or a film at the historic Tivoli Theater, and follow your nose to dinner. I recommend Mission Taco, but you really can’t go wrong.

For dessert, pop into Piccione Pastry. Don’t miss their collaboration with Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery and get some ice cream to go with your cannoli.

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO

Swim, climb, and dive at Johnson’s Shut-Ins.

For extra credit, if you are visiting in summer and have a day to dedicate to it, visit Johnson’s Shut Ins, a natural area about two hours south of the city. At the Shut-Ins you can swim in deep pools, jump off of cliffs, climb up waterfalls, and adventure until you drop.

10 minutes away is Elephant Rocks State Park, where you can climb pink granite boulders larger than a house. Also nearby is Taum Sauk State Park, which contains the highest point and tallest waterfall in Missouri.

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MOErin Cook is a writer, educator, adventurer, and photographer at Erin Takes Pictures. She is a volunteer butterfly wrangler who has never yet had to announce a Code Eagle for an escaped butterfly. She is passionate about social justice, sexual health and education, literature, and cats.

Xandra recommends: Read Erin’s extensive style analysis on why the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a literary masterpiece!

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

This guide is filed under GRYFFINDOR for encouraging exploration and braving the great heights of the City Museum.

Sunday Sampling / 066

A Spell for Feeling Well

Hello heroines!

Without intending to, each of my Sunday Sampling roundups often have a common theme. This week it seems I have money on the mind.

Sometimes I wonder if a post is too business-y to share, but I believe that entrepreneurial lessons often apply to life, whether or not you run a business.

One thing I can promise you is that this list will always include the 7 links that have intrigued me most in the past week! Enjoy!

SUNDAY SAMPLING SPONSOR

When it comes to ethical fashion, my absolute favourite is Izzy Lane, a vegetarian designer who rescues sheep and uses their wool for slaughter-free socks, knitting yarn, and fabulous wool clothing (autumn collection coming soon!). I am fangirling over the opportunity to collaborate with them [see me proudly sporting one of their coats above]. You can use the code XAG2 to receive 20% off your purchase.

 MY FAVOURITE READS LATELY

💖 A study on why Disneyland is so addictive, written by a Disney fanatic trying to understand his own obsession with the most magical place on earth!

🛀 I’m obsessed with this extensive guide to DIY green cleaning recipes.

🌟 A poignant reminder to reach out to others when you think of them, because you might be the only one.

🎶 Taylor Swift, “disruptive business genius”.

💸 I love Denise Duffield-Thomas’s idea of ‘first class upgrades’. Here are 38 things to declutter from your life, including things that aren’t ‘first class’!

🔮 A vivid imagining of the Autumn Equinox as a gathering of two goddesses: light and dark.

😴 There is always space for rest – if we give ourselves permission.

👑 Plus on Heroine Training: 5 ways to be a good friend & my minimalist wardrobe tour

P.S. I’m always looking for likeminded businesses to feature! You can read about sponsorship opportunities here, or let me know about an awesome business I should know about 🙂