Get out of your comfort zone!

As many of you know I’m the newest host here at Evine.  Taking the job a year ago followed many months of uncertainty and a visa process so lengthy it probably deserves a blog of its own!  I finally moved here from London in January this year.  Arriving in Minnesota in the middle of winter might sound like the worst time of year, but I had done my research, got some good boots and a big coat. With the beautiful houses and the snow it was like landing in Christmas-land!

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When most people talk about stepping out of their comfort zone, they think about doing something extreme like bungee jumping or leaping out of a plane.  But those are short, sharp shocks that are over quickly.  Moving to a new country, everything you do is new. New, job, new home, new people.  Even the car I drive (and the side of the road!) and where I buy groceries have all changed, so it takes a while to come down back to earth because there’s nothing familiar to come home to.  Plus, as there are so many decisions on a daily basis there’s no time to procrastinate!  You have to seize every moment, a way we often talk about in terms of living our lives but rarely get the chance to.

I’ve always had a love affair with America.  When I was little I used to watch Moonlighting from my bed and imagine that New York was outside my curtains.  I first went to New York when I was twenty years old and, in 2005, worked on the BBC documentary series ‘Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music’ where we traveled the country interviewing some of the most influential names in soul music.  On my travels I’ve visited San Francisco, Las Vegas, LA, New York, New Orleans and Connecticut.  I’ve always found people in the US to be open, friendly and even an exchange with a stranger in a elevator can brighten my day.

Right place, right time..

Moving your whole life is a huge, but I had so many signs that this was the right place to be.  I’d lived in London for 10 years and always thought I would move after a decade but just hadn’t decided where yet.  Then my apartment building was sold and I’d be talking to my coach about moving to the States.  I was working in Dublin and walking down a street that could have been straight from Minnesota, thinking to myself that I always thought I would live in America one day and just weeks later I was approached by Evine!

In Minnesota, people are always curious when they hear me speak. “I love your accent”  is a daily thing, or “I could hear you talk all day” to which I say that can only be a good thing as I talk for a living and tell them they can watch me on Evine!  The question I get asked the most is, “What the biggest difference?” or “What do you miss the most?”  My advice to anyone going to live in a new country is to say your goodbyes to what and whoever you’re going to miss before you set foot on the plane, and look for connection rather than what’s different.

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When I first arrived I did miss being able to walk everywhere, as well as the architecture of London.  Unlike most Brits, I don’t crave PG or Tetley tea (British tea brands); I’m more of a Pukka girl when it comes to having a ‘cuppa’.  There aren’t any TV shows I can’t get online or live without.  In terms of fashion, I was sad to leave was my beloved Topshop.  I actually cried when I saw they’d come to Nordstrom’s – to see the familiar logo I’ve loved and worn for years in an unexpected place brought up unexpected emotions!

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There’s a French expression, ‘Vive la difference’ and ‘long live the difference’ is how I feel about living in America.  I love the four seasons that we have in Minnesota, I’m a water-baby (which you can read about in my last blog) so very well suited to lake-life.  I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of making new friends with the interests and person I am now.  I adore the weather here because, although Minnesotans refer to it as a short summer, three months is a cause for celebration and very different from our wet summers in the UK!

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Here’s my advice if you’re thinking about taking plunge and moving somewhere new:

Embrace the new

One of my mottos has always been ‘I’ll try anything twice’.  I hated sushi the first time, now I love it!  If you’re somewhere new you’re not the same ‘you’ so, be adventurous – you might surprise yourself!  When I came over last year, I went to the State Fair to sample the many foods on a stick and then drove to St Paul to hit up the yard sales.  A few months ago, I volunteered at the Minneapolis film festival; both to meet new people and so that I had to drive across Downtown in rush hour!  I often set myself ‘missions’ just to get myself up and out and about.

Laugh at yourself

Taking yourself too seriously can leave you feeling overwhelmed.  Another motto of mine is ‘Lighten up and let go’.  I like to try and laugh at situations and notice my negative self-talk.  Telling yourself, “I’m such an idiot” doesn’t serve you.  Try laughing at the situation rather than making it your fault.  We can’t all be comedians 24-7, but sometimes cracking up at a situation lightens the mood and gives you a new perspective.

Let yourself mess up

Things will go ‘wrong’ but, as a life coach, I’m a great believer that the only mistakes we make are the ones we don’t learn from.  Allowing yourself to fail allows you to grow.

*Pssst! I failed my written Minnesota driving test the first time and then spent two days revising the whole Minnesota drivers handbook!*

Make it your own

I’ve practiced yoga for 16 years and love to swim, dance and work out in the gym.

I bought my yoga mats with me and joined a studio the first week.  If your life is feeling all over the place, try and create your own routines to feel grounded and move your body to get those feel good endorphins.  I love the quote, ‘If Oprah has time to meditate you have time to meditate.’ (Even if I don’t always find time to meditate! 😉

Get out there!

Don’t stay in and wait for life to happen. is a great way to meet people with the same interests as you.  If you’re feeling you can’t go alone, post a message to say that you’re feeling nervous!  A lot of meetups wear wrist bands or something to make it easy for you to find the group. Go for it!


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Life’s a beach

You’ve probably never heard the song ‘Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside’ and it’s highly unlikely you’ll find it on iTunes any time soon, but it’s quintessentially British and sums up who I am when it comes to summer. I heart the beach – big time!

For me, summer is an experience for the senses. After we’ve been bundled up from the cold inside our houses and our big coats, it feels celebratory to shake it off and salute the sun, the sky and sea. I adore the feeling of warm sun and a cool breeze on my skin, the sound of the ocean, the sensation of sand between my toes as I walk through the waves. From the bleak midwinter, summer comes with a beauty so perfect it brings a sense of anticipation that anything is possible.

When I was little our annual holiday home was a tiny cottage called ‘Binsey’ in Cornwall that was owned by my Great Uncle Fred and Auntie Mae. I have the utmost respect for my amazing parents making a four hour (or was it eight hour?) journey with three small children, no air con and a constant wail of “Are we there yet?” But once we were there – what an adventure! We lived on the beach; surfing on wooden boards, eating peppery Cornish pasties and clambering on the rocks with our nets in one hand and buckets in the other looking for salty rock pools and the wondrous sea creatures they held within.

When I was five, we moved to glorious Sussex-by-the-sea. First, to historic Hastings, where my Dad would take us climbing on the cliffs and tell us stories about the great battle that took place there in 1066. We’d watch the glassblowers on the pier making colorful creations whilst eating hot donuts fresh from the pan.

Next, we moved to Elmer Sands, which couldn’t get more British seaside because we had a Butlins holiday camp in nearby Bognor Regis where hoards of Brits would flock year upon year to sit in deckchairs eating ice-creams and getting suburnt. Our house was so close to the beach I could see the sea from my bedroom window. We went to the beach every day after school and I even remember one day bringing a tray with a teapot, a jug of milk and cups for all the Mums and Dads after one of them said, they were, ‘Gagging for a cuppa’. Some days an ordinary walk on the beach could turn into an adventure when a trawler had become grounded or we found an unexploded WWII bomb that had washed in with the waves!

In 1999 I fell in love. Not with a person but with a place. It was the first time I visited the Spanish island of Ibiza. I have been lucky enough to work and travel all over the world but there is something quite magical about the island and it holds so many great memories for me from seeing the moon rise to many a sunset. In fact, in 2009, I ditched the city and moved there for the summer. A favorite memory that year was when I was steering a friend’s yacht (as you do!) and, as I looked out at the glittering ocean, I had the thought that this couldn’t be any more perfect. At that precise moment, five dolphins popped up out of the waves right by the side of the boat to say hello!

Still on my bucket (and spade?) list is the Maldives. In our host room, my screen saver/vision board is a stunning picture that appears every time I turn on my computer.

I’ve visited many places and many beaches but, wherever I am in the world, the sea brings both a sense of excitement and peace. The ocean can be as still as a mill-pond or a swirling all-consuming torrent. It is a reminder that nothing in life is constant apart from change.

Here’s just a small snapshot of snapshots from some of my seaside adventures that I’d like to share you with you:



Cornwall – the start of my love affair with the beach on one of our family holidays



Provence 2009 – this was a holiday with my parents and my grandmother we had a gorgeous villa up in the hills in the South of France. If I can’t be at the beach you’ll find me at a pool!



Cape Town 2011 – I shot an American commercial (yes, I can do other accents!) in Cape Town, and the whole trip was magical – from flying Club Class, scaling Table Mountain and even a Hollywood celebrity sitting feet away from me on the flight home! 



Ko Chang 2012 – one of my BBFs lives in Bangkok in Thailand and when I went to visit in 2012 we caught a boat to the island of Ko Chang. I love this picture as it looks like it’s from a brochure – that’s how beautiful Thailand is – no filter required!



Croatia 2013 – Croatia has incredible sunsets and the Adriatic sea is like no other. A friend and I went to a festival there and it rained every day – apart from this one!



Ibiza 2013 – this is from a holiday with the girls. I procrastinated for ages about whether to pay extra for a room with a sea view but I was so glad I did. This was the view from our balcony. Pure bliss!



Brighton 2015 – Brighton is very near to where I grew up in Sussex and always has a place in my heart. This is the shell of the old pier that burned down in 2003.  I took this photo last year when I working in Brighton for a few days.

I’d love to hear about your ocean adventures. If you could only go to one beach in the world for the rest of your life, where would you go and why? Which hot spots in the US would you recommend I visit? And what’s on your beach bucket list?

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