Feeling Good

7 Daily Rituals all Expats should have

7 Daily Rituals all Expats should have

Athletes have set routines to get them in the right frame of mind for success. The rest of us don't really think about our daily habits - until they drastically change! 

How has your daily routine changed since moving abroad? Are you doing these 7 things to ensure you are at the top of your game.

Switching Perspectives - to bribe or not.

Police in South Africa

When I was training to become an executive coach one of the most important lessons I learned was the ability to switch perspectives, i.e. that often there is no single approach to a problem. Many of our problems can be alleviated if we can just look at them differently. Matt and I were lucky enough to go and see Trevor Noah on his recent tour of South Africa. His talent to tell stories from this alternative perspective is simply remarkable, he wasn’t rude and didn’t rely on foul language, he just highlighted the variety of things has come to miss since living abroad. I don’t want to spoil the joke but his sketch about the South African police coming to share their tactics with American police has kept me laughing for days. 

Expat in Johannesburg

Unbeknown to Trevor, he helped me to take a different perspective last Friday when I went to submit my police clearance for my visa (my 6th in 7 years). This time, when buying a coffee for ourselves we decided to buy a couple of extra for the police who were processing our applications. Some people reading this may view this as bribery but we asked for no favors or better treatment than anyone else around us. We simply took the opportunity to make two police officers day. They were delighted, conversation flowed and an ordeal was made more pleasant.

Did you miss out on seeing Trevor Noah? Make sure you dont miss out on any other concerts and events by downloading our Joburg Annual Calendar to keep you updated on everything thats happening. 

The tap to clean your hands of the thick black finger print ink............

The tap to clean your hands of the thick black finger print ink............


As we needed the visa fairly quickly they advised me to take our forms to Pretoria….. I could have got frustrated with the traffic, the time it took to get there, the lack of parking, lack of clear signs to know where to go, and the fear of being in a strange place (with our passports, wallets and phone).  Instead, I paid some builders who were working at the building site next door, they kindly moved some cones for me and helped me to park. They then asked to wash my car for a small sum, I smiled at them, the car was a little dirty, so sure why not.

I then walked right passed the building, and a young lad stopped me and said

"Mam, I think you are looking for the Police Clearance, you need to go back, and then inside, take the first floor".

He even walked me to the door and then asked me for some change. Once again, I could get frustrated at this, but he helped me out, so why not give him R20. 
It can be incredibly hard to understand other people if we haven't walked in their shoes, which is why living abroad is such a valuable experience, because we get to walk right there alongside them. 
In the UK, there is employment and processes that mean my police clearance costs around £50 and is done in a quicker, cleaner way.  In South Africa it costs R100 but if I added in all those extra pairs of helping hands probably R250, which is still an absolute bargain. Plus it allowed me to connect with a few interesting people, outside my usual sphere.
Seven years into living here, I am finally learning to change my perspective, to switch from fear  to empathy, to see’s the individual doing a pretty rubbish job (if they even have a job at all).

Will connecting with people make me more likely to become a victim of crime, maybe, but I hope its worth the risk.   

Don’t Follow your Passion, Follow your Principles instead.

What do you call a person who relentlessly follows their passions and achieves all their goals?

A Sociopath

The internet is full of Guru’s telling us that when we are not achieving our goals and living our passion then all we need to do is refocus, set more attainable goals and remain committed to the end.  Whilst this may be true for some people it certainly cannot be true for all of us, all of the time.    

Sometimes life gets in the way.  

Things change.    

People change.

moving abroad, expat life

 I was thirteen years old when I first I dreamt of working in professional sport. I went to Durham University to do a sports related degree and when I graduated I took up a full time role at Saracens RFC. When a role with the architects of British Sporting success (Youth Sports Trust) came up I jumped at the chance to work on the London Olympic Legacy.   I was following my passion, my life was set out before me and I was very happy.  

Then my husband asked me to move to South Africa and my passion became my problem. 

 My sporting passion is about participation, experience and transition (life after Sport). In South Africa professional sport is about results, results and results- they believe(d) on field success to the only answer to increasing numbers both into the sport and through the gates. When I questioned professional sporting clubs and governmental bodies whether there could be another way, the answer was always the same: In South Africa things are different.
Maybe they are (they aren’t) and maybe they are not (they aren’t, but at least I am over it).

FREE BONUS - Download our quiz to identity your principles and personal values now.  


I knew my passion. I just needed a different approach. 

I started with a few small sporting projects, volunteering at sports organizations and consulting to government bodies.  Individually they were successful but it was hard work to convince people of the enduring need of such work. After a series of set-backs I started to suffer a loss in my own identity, which had been inextricably linked to my passion and my career.  I lost confidence, lost my voice and I became resentful.  

In the context where my life had dramatically changed and my passions where contradictory to national attitudes, the concept of pursuing the same passion or goals now seems frankly ridiculous.    

My passion was making me unhappy and stopping me from seeing the real joy around me.  It took me a few years to figure this out because we in the West are told from a very young age that we just have to follow our dreams/ goals/ passions to reach "success". 
The answer for me is quite simple most of the time. If following your passion is making you and the people around you happy then brilliant.  If you had a passion before moving abroad, or for whatever reason, following your passion isn't working out - or you actually have no idea what your passion is, then maybe its time to understand your principles, (or values). Trying to imagine the broader picture of the life you would like in 5 - 10 years time.  

Focus on your principles 
not solely on your passions.

My Principles: 

I want to enjoy and be challenged by my work, but still spend quality time with my family. I want to see more of my real friends and make new ones.   I would like to make a positive change to a few people’s lives but not necessarily change the world on my own.  I would like to be healthy and eat well.  I would like to travel and be comfortable.
They aren’t sexy or worthy of celebrity but they have helped me establish a broad platform for the decisions I make.  Furthermore my principles, and not fixed goals or targets, now shape my daily and weekly routine, which has led to a much more balanced and stress – free approach to life.  There is no more having to succeed at all cost, as I am now truly aware of the cost.   I and only I have control of my principles whereas goals are often as not reliant on a myriad of external factors.  

Lastly, my identity is now based on who I am and what matters to me and not what I have achieved or trying to achieve.
What are your principles?  Have you identified them?   How could refocusing change your life for the better?  


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How to have the Best Family Night in Jozi

johannesburg expat

Most of us know the value of a date night with our partner, but how many of us place similar effort into creating family nights? A chance to put away technology and do something that the whole family will enjoy! We have decided to try and have a family night once a month, anything from movie night, or playing games, cooking together or going out for food. It is a European tradition that we would quite like to adopt.  This blog post is all about Joburg, but if you are based in another city - why not read our How to have the Best Family Date Night, which has lots of tips on creating a memorable night wherever you are. 

Whilst it is a bit harder to find kid friendly activities here in Joburg, there are some restaurants and places that we have discovered are really well geared up for the whole family: 

  • Night Tour at the Zoo - you get to see animals, take your touches and toast marshmallows on the open fire - what more could you ask for! 


  • Fishmonger / Craft / Local Grill , Col'Cacchio- these four restaurants are brilliant with kids, as soon as you arrive they bring activities for the kids to do, and have a great kids menu. The real bonus is you would go there without the kids too, so the food is great. (The milkshakes at Craft are out of this world, and ask to do the kitchen tour at the Local Grill - fantastic when you have guests to stay).  


  • Bambanani - now the food isn’t ideal, but the first Saturday of the month they have a disco and our kids just loved it - allowing my husband and I to have a lovely glass or two of wine. 


  • Monte Casino - You will love it or hate it, but for a family night, whilst I wouldn't choose to go there with friends or just my husband, its really fun with kids. They often run a variety of events - I took ours to the Christmas village for the outdoor cinema and it was brilliant (apart from the rain, and losing two of my children in the lift as the other one ran out into the car park). The event itself was really well put together with dressed up characters, beanbags to watch the family christmas movie and nice gift shops, despite my parenting fails I am looking forward to going back another time (maybe with my husband next time). In addition to the events, there is the theatre, and cinema there if you have older kids. 


  • Joburg Theatre -  Lovely theatre with some great family shows throughout the year - obviously the christmas pantomime is a hit, and this year I am looking forward to taking my daughter to the ballet there in October too. 


joburg expat
  • Johannesburg Country Club - There probably isnt a weekend that goes by without us having Friday/ Saturday night or Sunday lunch here. The kids can run, and the food is freshly cooked (but therefore can take time in coming so make sure you order then go to the playground and come back when its ready).  


Children Specific Restaurants:  

What have I missed? Do you have a favourite place you like to take the kids? Please share in the comments below. 

The problem with Valentines - is the card, or lack of! 

I was 14 years, and I hoped I would get a valentines card from the guy I simply adored, the day arrived, and nothing, all my friends were delighted with what seemed like their 2 - 10 cards - and I had nothing. I felt worthless, jealous and raw.  

What would I say to the 14 year old girl now?

"You don’t have to be loved to be happy" 

The original meaning of Valentines was all about - acts of kindness, giving love rather than receiving. Instead of how many valentines cards did you receive? Could we ask who did you show love too yesterday?  

How do you love?

Do we just love those we find attractive, fun and cute? People similar to us? Or is love deeper than that? Its the moments when we get out of our comfort zone to show kindness (love) to those that need it most.  

We spent Valentines Day with friends, who have adopted a pigeon chick found in their garden. I have to say its one of the ugly birds I have seen, and my thoughts on pigeons are they are dirty, and annoying pests. Yet I was challenged, if the brown ugly bird was yellow, fluffy and cute - would I want to give it cuddles and care for it? Our children, simply adored the chick, wanting to feed, stroke and care for it. They showed me their definition of love, which had no prejudgements.  

The first valentines day was a about Bishop Valentines who in the Roman times, stood up for married soldiers wanting to still serve in the Army. He was captured and the night before his beheading, sent a card to his true love. It's a story about a man that stood up for others, and gave his love. 

Recently there was a study in US were they asked a group of people to remember a time when you spend a significant amount of money on yourself and then remember a time when you spent the same amount of money on someone else, the result? We get more satisfaction from giving than receiving.  This study supports the definition - love is simply - making someone happy. 

Maybe love is about giving without any expectations of gaining in return?

South Africa has to be one of the friendliest places I have been in. I constantly feel love from people who cheerily greet me whilst Im out running in the the mornings, who stop to ask the names of my children, want to have a cuddle with our newborn baby, or the person who gives me right of way in a traffic jam after waiting for what seems like hours. Its the small daily actions of my family - my husband that cancels his squash game to come to a networking event with me, a glance from one of my children who is excited to see me at school pick up. A simple smile and interest in your community, goes a long way. 

Maybe this is love:

This last week was also the first week of Lent, a time when traditionally Christians give something up. The past 6 years a movement called 40 Acts started in the UK challenging people to do Lent generously, showing love to their community each and every day.  

"In 2015 over 74,000 joined the challenge, creating a wave of over 2.9 million acts of generosity in more than 180 countries worldwide."

This is a great video from 2015 - but I never get tired of watching it, captures the true meaning of love in all its forms. 

What is your definition of Love?

What would you say to your friend or 14 year old daughter who didn’t receive a card? Can you be just as kind to yourself? 

Would you like to join me and some 80,000 others in showing small acts of kindness over the next 30 days?  Sign up for the email alerts here

Choosing to noticing the ugly chicks around you? 

Let me know what your definition of love is? How did you celebrate valentines day? What are you doing during Lent? Share in the comments below. 

2 Lists Worth Making in 2016


The Secret Of Living happily with Lists

Are you the type of person who likes a list?   Some people do and some people don’t.  As I grew up the ‘list’ always seemed superfluous to a happy life.  Only when 100% completed was the list happy, until then it nagged me about jobs to be done or results not yet achieved. Who needs that?  As a result I avoided a list like Russian athletes avoid a drug test.


I got old(er).


University introduced me to the reading list.  Buying a home introduced me to a ‘to do/ chore’ list.  The list snuck into my life. It started to deface my refrigerator.    Bastard.

However, it was in my late 20’s and early 30’s when work and living abroad started to change my feelings towards the list. Suddenly I need to take note of all the things I had to do, prioritise, reprioritize, and delegate. It helped slow down and organise my world. The list became a friend. Not the type of friend you choose first for a big night out with but one who would help you do a C.V or paint your living room.  


I got Old(er) still-- but still young.  Very young.


Since motherhood I have become quite the fan of a list. It helped to provide a daily routine and structure. If anything all those sleepless nights and years of breast feeding gives one time to think and to dream of life once your baby is older, escaping current reality.  As a result the list has become so much more than it used to be. On one hand it continued and improved its supporting role – a paper based personal assistant/ coach to my work, my family and the problems of living abroad.  On another level it became a blank canvass for dreams and future intentions, a written promise to oneself that one day I would see a world beyond nappies.

Today the list represents both the jobs I need to do and the dreams I want to achieve. It helps me to stay in control (or at least feel in control), and to take more responsibility for making the things happen that are important to me, rather than getting lost in the never ending to dos. 

So what’s the secret to living happily with a list?

1.     The ‘to do’ list

Balance is the key to a good to do list, for example…..

  • Buy washing up liquid.
  • Pick up kids from school
  • Cheeky glass of wine with
  • Work on the
  • Cook dinner

Remember what things are urgent and need to be tackled today and what things can wait until the morning.

2.      The ‘already done list’

For every ‘to do’ list you should write an ‘already done’ list.  In this list write down the things you have are proud of or enjoyed from the past day, week or month.  You may find that just stopping to remember the good will help you to appreciate and become more intentional about what matters in the future.

I have put together a monthly list to help me keep this balance, so if you want to give it a try - print off this months FREE planner. DOWNLOAD IT HERE 

Why not try it this week? Go grab a glass of wine, or cup of tea, and start planning, and dreaming at the same time. 

Dont like the structure of the free printable, then here is some inspiration of lists I use with my coaching clients, helping you get started in your own format and style.

 Highlights from 2015 - family milestones, travel highlights, new recipes or restaurants you have tried, lessons learnt.

Things most proud of doing or achieving.

Relationships you are grateful for, and moments of fun had with them.

10 Things you would advise a younger you.


What are some of your lists titles? Do you love a list? If so come sign up to receive a free list / planner each month, start making a habit to sit down at the start of each month and complete your lists.