I’m Xandra Robinson-Burns,
Founder of Heroine Training™️,
Creator of Everyday Wonderland™️,
what you’ll find here
Here on Heroine Training, I publish essays, vignettes, and poems on being my own heroine.
You can visit the website every Tuesday morning, or I can send them to you.
You can also read my writing on Instagram.
New to Heroine Training? I recommend starting with this essay.
chapter 1 | oxford
When I was fifteen, I visited Oxford for the first time. I was enchanted by the place that inspired Narnia, Wonderland, and Middle Earth (to name a few), and made it my mission to return one day as a student.
And so I did. I moved across the pond for an undergraduate degree in English at the University of Oxford. Living in this magical place shaped me as a writer, of course, but also as a mini adventurer.
Oxford taught me to seek portals to fantasy worlds, wherever I am. I was surprised to find little hints of magic even outside this wondrous little city – as far away as the familiar suburbs that I came from.
Going to Oxford was the first big thing that I knew for certain I really really wanted. I worked as hard as I could, and developed a personal process for achieving my dreams. It was also the only thing that I sought with unquestioned fervour. Once I arrived I learned what it was like to live my dream on a daily basis. What’s left when I have everything I ever wished for?
At Oxford I got to write essays, over and over again, for three years. They were academic, literary essays, but I loved the medium nonetheless, and what I learned about my writing process holds up today. In my final year, the focus shifted more towards performing well on exams, and I could feel the dreamy part of the place fading away. I knew that I needed a personal project to fill me up with inspiration on top of my degree, so I founded my first website: Fashionably Light.
chapter 2 | fashionably light
I was obsessed with minimalism, first in theory, and when it came to moving across the ocean, I adopted it in practice. I was very much a fan of not having to lug so much stuff through Heathrow Airport several times a year. I was also still learning how to reconcile that with my colourful, feminine lifestyle, when all the examples I saw online were in black and white.
During my third year at university, I published a blog post every day. I gave myself a daily deadline, and a maximum of 150 words. I look back at many of these posts with reverence – wow, I was so wise. I look back at others like eek what was I thinking. I’ve kept all of them there, the brilliant blogs and the cringe-y ones, alike. They’re all part of my heroine’s journey, and it’s pretty cool to have such a comprehensive log of my consciousness.
After graduating I did what I saw other minimalist writers doing online. I published an ebook about minimalism. I wrote most of it in about a day. I had so much to say about simplicity and decluttering, it all spilled out. But something was missing. I kept asking myself why it’s important to declutter, why I was compelled to be A Minimalist. The answer I settled on is this: to be my own heroine. When I clear away the clutter, when I’m left with only what I truly love, I am my own heroine. So Fashionably Light became Heroine Training.
chapter 3 | essayist
Fun Fact: As a senior in high school, I loved writing college essays. I loved doing SAT practice essays. And I loved Ralph Waldo Emerson.
For years I searched for the perfect copy of Emerson’s essays. I finally found it on display at Brickback Books in Philadelphia during a wander with my friend Grace (we recount this story on our podcast, The Art Life). In the Introduction, Irwin Edman defines ‘the essay’ as an artform:
‘The essay is an adventure in ideas, an exploration of a theme, a sortie of reflection… The essay is an idea reflected through a personal medium.’
How exciting is that?!
Each of my essays is an adventure in ideas, an in-depth exploration of my personal experience, in the present moment. I am obsessed with gathering inspiration from whatever piques my interest: in books, on tv, from my travels. I understand myself through what I enjoy for fun, and write about everything from Marvel movies to Middle English (I mean check out this literary life hack from 2013).
Until the Next Chapter,
Oh yes – I like to close my essays with ‘Until the Next Chapter’, a phrase inspired by a literary correspondence of mine because letter-writing is art. Each piece of writing is a chapter in the story of my heroine’s journey. If you’re new here, I suggest starting with Your Corner of the Sky, and going forward from there:
(That’s me reading the perfect copy of Emerson’s Essays on a mountain).
that fiction is not an escape – it’s a way through.
that you don’t need a new vocabulary to understand who you are.
that there is wisdom and something to learn in everything you do for fun.
in living one moment at a time.
in being the heroine of your own story.
Heroine Training is now on Patreon! I’m publishing secret stories, and audiobook versions of my essays in a private podcast feed, Read by Xandra.
go down the rabbit hole
Everyday Wonderland is now one year old! My ongoing programme for finding magic where you already are, away from screens, is now open for enrolment.
I’m excited to announce Heroine Training’s new podcast, The Art Life. In conversation, Grace Gordon and I discover how art is in every corner of our lives, beyond career, beyond genre and form. Now available on all podcasting platforms. If you listen on Apple Podcasts, please rate and review to help us reach more artists like you!
My writing is full of allusions to my favourite pieces of fiction. Here are some of the core texts:
The Harry Potter book series (1997-2007) by J.K. Rowling
- Pippin, 1972 musical by Stephen Schwartz
- Gilmore girls, tv show (2000-2007) created by Amy Sherman-Palladino
Gossip Girl, tv show (2007-2012) created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage
Sleep No More, site-specific immersive theatre (2011-present), created by Punchdrunk, McKittrick Hotel, New York City
- Taylor Swift, Complete Discography, especially Lover (2019), including Deluxe Versions.
Doctor Strange, 2016 film by Marvel Studios
- Captain Marvel, 2019 film by Marvel Studios
- ‘Self Reliance’, 1841 essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- ‘Walden’, 1854 book by Henry David Thoreau
Xandra Robinson-Burns is an Essayist and the Founder of Heroine Training™️. She writes about being the protagonist of her own story, and finding storybook magic in everyday life.
Her membership programme, Everyday Wonderland™️, helps readers discover magic where they already are, away from screens. She also hosts The Art Life, a weekly podcast and emerging philosophy on what it means to be an artist in the modern age.
A TEDx speaker and Oxford graduate, her work has been featured in The Guardian and the San Francisco Chronicle.