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 request letters from Jane Austen.

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

10 Lessons in Minimalism and Simplicity I Learned from Living in an Airbnb

10 Lessons in Minimalism and Simplicity I Learned from Living in an AirbnbI intended to embrace January for what it would be: a challenge in simplicity.

In December we packed up our little flat, storing most of our possessions with kind friends, and taking the essentials with us to an Airbnb, where we now wait for our new flat to be ready for us. 

We were relieved to find that the Airbnb was as pictured (if anything, better), that there were no weird smells, that it was all-in-all quite pleasant for a couple of weeks’ stay. After the owners left I said “Oh no we forgot to ask for the wifi.” As the words left my mouth I realised that if it hadn’t been mentioned on our very thorough tour, it probably wasn’t there. Sure enough, we checked the listing and this was totally on us for not checking. No wifi. 

And so the challenge became even more challenging. But as a reward for embracing it, I was gifted with clarity, a refresher course in the lessons I’d learned years ago.

How to Maintain a Minimalist Mindset:

10 Lessons in Minimalism and Simplicity I Learned from Living in an Airbnb

Lesson: I don’t need a lot of clothes.

I have about 30 pieces of clothing, and only half of that with me right now. Overnight, the weather and the laundry discuss the question of what I will wear, and they let me know in the morning. And this system works pretty well. It’s like saving time in the morning by setting out my clothes the night before, except I don’t even have to do that. 

Lesson: I do need more than one pen.

We had to place an emergency Muji order because I brought only one erasable pen. This was silly. Pens are miniscule. I am a writer; pens are kind of essential. I should have brought more pens.

Lesson: Cooking is less overwhelming with less in the fridge.

Without our store of spices, sauces, and too many bags of cocoa powder (ahhh so much cocoa powder! We had completely lost stock of what was actually in our cupboards at the old flat!), without our food processor and blender, we have be challenged to perfect our simplest recipes: pasta and tomato sauce, risotto, stir fry, and sausages and mash.

What’s left in the fridge dictates what meal we cook next. The aim is to prepare us for those days when we don’t have time to cook from a complex-but-utterly-delicious recipe, to keep us from constantly buying frozen pizza, or ordering less frozen pizza.

Lesson: Everything I own needs a home.

I already knew this, but it’s reiterated when I’m in a space that is not my actual home. Actually, it’s especially important while traveling. When I got to my Halmoni’s house at Christmas, with allll our stuff (normal travel stuff, Christmas present stuff, extra storage stuff), I spent my first morning in America repacking it to make it accessible and lovely. I’m actually really proud of this.

Lesson: My laptop needs a home too.

Even though a laptop is portable, and that’s the whole point, it needs a bed. A place to rest and recharge (ha.) before it spends another day out on the town, assisting me in coffeeshops as I type articles like this one, traveling to the kitchen to play music while we cook. In the Airbnb I found a spot to nestle my laptop, where it plugs into the wall, and is tucked away at the end of the day. Mmm I love it!

Lesson: Wifi is distracting and stressful.

Not having wifi encourages slower living, spreading out, and writing. I am more thoughtful without it. I am less jittery without it. I watch movies more mindfully without Netflix, and I allow myself to go to the cinema more. When we pause the movie I downloaded on my 11” laptop during the day and I have 2 minutes to spare, waiting for Steve to refill the snacks, I no longer compulsively check my iPod because there is nothing to check. Instead I do this revolutionary thing called sitting still. Breathing. Waiting. Doing absolutely nothing.

For a moment I thought, what if we don’t reconnect our wifi, and spend the budget on more cinema trips? And then I thought about all the projects I’ve put on hold because I need internet at home, at the frustration of relying on the chance of coffeeshop wifi.

Lesson: Without wifi at home, I cling to public wifi like I’m gasping for air.

So yeah, there is another side of that coin. When I was little we didn’t have tv at home, so when my sister and I would go to Halmoni’s house we would be glued to the televeision, watching entire That’s So Raven marathons. It was not good. I find myself constantly checking my iPod for wifi networks, stopping in front of cafés to log on, scrolling through nothing at dinner just because Pizza Express has free wifi! I would never do this. I don’t need to do this. But now I do, and I’m trying to stop.

Lesson: We should get a fluffy rug.

There is a fluffy rug in the Airbnb. It makes the room feel very cosy.

Lesson: A room can dictate your lifestyle.

With no screens and not too much stuff in the room, there is little else to do besides read. And so we read, more than we usually do, and as much as we would like to do. In our old flat, the sofa faced the computer screen that we used to watch movies and Gilmore girls and play Braid, so we would spend a lot of time on that computer. There were books piled halfway up the wall, so we spent time reading their spines rather than their pages.

Lesson: I work best with more of a routine.

I used to go to coffeeshops a lot, because I work better outside the home, and I didn’t have a permanent desk space in our flat. But now that I rely on coffeeshops not just sometimes but daily, I am more mindful of how I spend that time. Taking up a table, and only having so much laptop battery has forced some routine into my daily coffeeshop visits. I do 4 pomodoros in the morning, break for lunch, and do 4 more in the afternoon. Clockwork.

Off to learn another lesson,

P.S. You can read more about my adventures in minimalism in my book, Own Your Story.

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

I decided that this year I would step up and be a professional.

I shared this with my friend Kerrin, who has a gift in follow-up questions, and she asked me: “What does the professional version of yourself look like?”

I replied with the first thing that popped into my head, “Well, she’s wearing a blazer”. 

For anyone pursuing a passion as a career, it is important to distinguish “the work” from “the job”.

I am a writer, and so as an artist, I write, but as a professional, I publish. I put on a different hat once the work is done, or rather, I put on a blazer. 

Of course I don’t need to wear a physical blazer to be a professional (although I would like one, and I would like it to be pink, so let me know if you see one). I can also wear the traits of heroines I admire, whose courage and certainty I need to borrow sometimes. 

This list in particular includes some flawed characters. Do not become these heroines. Draw on their strengths and be mindful of their weaknesses. Channel what resonates with you, and in doing so, be more true to yourself. You’re not creating a new character, but understanding who she is to begin with. 

HEROINES TO CHANNEL FOR PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS

Joy in “Joy”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

The character Joy, who is inspired by a collection of real-life entrepreneurial women, is steadfast and determined. No one would blame her for collapsing in the overwhelm of the responsibilities thrown on her as the sole caretaker of her family. She not only survives this situation, but sparkles with a vigor for creating. When she gets an idea, she runs with it. She is not too proud to ask for help. She demands her worth. She holds unwavering belief in her work, and defends it until no one can deny her.

Andy Sachs in “The Devil Wears Prada”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

Sometimes you have to make personal sacrifices to succeed professionally. Andy treads this fine line, and learns how to set boundaries for herself. We watch her navigate how to further her career, bending to expectations without breaking herself (although she comes close). She learns to dress the part, play the game, get ahead, and make a name for herself on her own terms.

Blair Waldorf in “Gossip Girl”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

From her W internship days to taking over Waldorf Designs, Blair shows up like a pro as if she were born that way. And as entrepreneurial Eleanor’s daughter, she practically was. Blair thrives on recognising her strengths (and slips into desperation when she knows it’s not her strong suit). She reigns in line with herself and her style, and when she is certain of her own success, she gets it.

Tiana in “Princess and the Frog”

I remember Daddy told me “Fairytales can come true
You gotta make ’em happen, it all depends on you”
So I work real hard each and every day
Now things for sure are going my way

Carrie Bradshaw in “The Carrie Diaries”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

From the little I’ve seen of Sex and the City, grown-up Carrie lives a pretty glamorous life for a writer, but The Carrie Diaries explores how a younger Carrie got herself to the top. Carrie works her way into the New York magazine scene as a teenager, channeling her creativity, putting in the hours of work, and advocating for herself. She is certain she belongs, and isn’t afraid to rank herself among the pros.

Who do you channel for professional success? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Super-inspiring films for productivity and work ethic

Sunday Sampling / 053

Sunday Sampling / 053

Pretty much as soon as I decided that this year I was going to roll with things rather than resist them, life threw a a challenge at me: the Airbnb we booked into for the month has no wifi. This was totally on us for not double-checking, and I’ve decided to treat it as an experiment in mindfulness. Not to mention an experiment in exploring Leith’s cafés to bulk out my comprehensive guide to Edinburgh cafés with wifi.

So far I’ve actually been okay. I’ve had to move projects around, swapping writing my Gilmore girls book for my book on the Hogwarts houses. This fits in nicely with my schedule, as this March I will be leading a workshop at the Harry Potter Alliance’s Granger Leadership Academy. I am beyond excited (and hope to see you there!)

MY FAVOURITE READS

🌟 Viola Davis’s commitment to owning and telling her story through acting is the epitome of Heroine Training. This piece is amazing.

☕️ Yes to ALL 5 of these thingss that will totally help you chill out.

⚡️ How climbing an actual mountain put fear in perspective for Shauna – this is exactly how I feel about rock climbing!

💕 Heather’s introduction to what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person and what to do about it really resonates with me. I don’t feel great about the term ‘sensitive’ (maybe I’m too sensitive to admit that I’m sensitive); I prefer Super-feeler.

☺️ Raise your hand if you have dreamed of having a mentor to guide you through life. I mean me, for sure. I love this alternative advice: Can’t find a mentor? Look to your peers instead.

📖 “We must be able to allow ourselves to come to the present and experience every moment as if it was to never cross our path again”: The power of being curious

💖 Doesn’t it feel like everyone is telling us to write gratitude lists? Here are 11 ways to practice gratitude without a gratitude journal!

👑 Plus, this month on Heroine Training: Inspiring Books for Getting Back on TrackMinimalist Makeup Routine Update, and How to Use Your Passion Planner Roadmap

Happy new year!