The Art of Mindfulness

The Art of Mindfulness: Busy Life, Peaceful Mind.  Staying sane in a crazy world, keeping calm amid the chaos.

Click here to download 

Master the art of mindfulness.  Stop worrying and start living.  Learn how to bring Mindfulness into your life to make you happier, calmer and more effective.  Achieve better stress management and resilience and realise the benefits of mindfulness and how we harness the power of our mind. 

Develop a regular practice to tame your monkey mind, achieve a more positive mindset and free yourself from worry.  Discover skills that help you bounce back from the tough times, stay in the present more often and achieve balance.  Create more space in the mind and train the brain to be more clear and focused and a more positive place to be.  Understand how Mindfulness aids our effectiveness, the impacts of emotional intelligence and how we can use this skill at work.

A Mindfulness teacher with a daily practice of 7 years.  Training from teachers from around the world in many cultures and countries.  Without any religious affiliations, I bring eastern techniques to benefit our western world modified in a way that is easily applied to modern life.  Experienced course instructor, described by others as authentic, uplifting and inspiring.

Discover the basics of meditation and how to deal with a busy mind or negative thoughts.  Achieve the skills to apply Mindfulness into your daily life and work to become more focused, clear and effective and develop a regular practice to sustain you well beyond this course.

Suitable for beginners to mindfulness or those who have done some before and are looking to learn new ways to bring this to life and create a regular practice

Over 2 hours of content, one lecture per day and some practical exercises to download as well as bonus material and resources.

Available online and through your device with lifetime access once purchased

Volunteering; why it’s not just others that benefit

Compassion and kindness are key ingredients for happiness.  It leads us to want to do good without expecting anything in return, to look after each other and our environment.   

When I hit 30 I was unfulfilled and unhappy, despite having every material I could ever have wished for.  I had a good upbringing, climbed the corporate ladders, earned good money, had a company car and a house by the beach so why was I unhappy?  At this point I set off on a journey that lead to understanding there was another way, the path to happiness and how to create a life we love.  I discovered what I valued, how to balance life, learned a new relationship with money and rediscovered what mattered. During this journey which I wrote about in my first book A Rough Guide to a Smooth Life I discovered my authenticity, made life more simple and rebuilt my life around my passions to find meaning and purpose.  Part of this involved quitting the corporate world and volunteering overseas.  I trained to be a yoga teacher, practiced mindfulness daily and did my life coaching certificate.  I now write books and run my own business and still enjoy volunteering.  In celebration of volunteer week I’d like to share why it’s so important as well as give thanks and gratitude to all those volunteers out there who give their time to good causes.

Vietnamese Zen Monk Thich Nhat Hanh said “The word compassion is a verb”.  Just think back to the last time you performed the action of helping someone in need.  How good did you feel?  Buddhists have a saying; “All the happiness there is in the world comes from us wishing others to be happy.” 

Our natural response to seeing someone in distress is the impulse to help, we care about the suffering of others and we feel good when that suffering is released.  This applies if we do it ourselves, see it in a movie or witness it in real life.  It makes us feel good.  Feeling like we’re making a difference in the world and helping those who need it brings us joy, it gives us meaning 

James Baraz quotes statistics on why giving is good for you in his book; ‘Awakening Joy’.  “According to the measures of Social Capital Community Benchmark survey those who gave contributions of time or money were 42% more likely to be happy than those who didn’t.  Psychologists even have a term for the state of euphoria reported by those who give, it’s called ‘helpers high’ and is based on the theory that neuroscience is now backing up; giving produces endorphins in the brain that make us feel good, this activates the same part of the brain as receiving rewards or experiencing pleasure does”.

You may say, that’s easy if you’re happy, have money and the time to help.  But when you’re busy, worried and burned out it’s not so easy to find the space in your heart or mind to be compassionate.  Yes, it does make it harder but not impossible and can in fact be the opening to more joy in your life at a time when you need it most. 

I must admit that when I’m working full time and trying to run my own business I don’t get the time I’d like to volunteer but when I have periods between contracts and can focus on one job I make sure it incorporate a day to volunteer.  Not only does it give me a break from writing it gets me out mixing with others and that feeling of contributing to the community, being of service and doing some good for others. 

It’s not just for others though, it’s good for our souls, our sense of meaning and purpose, learning new things, social connection. All the things that are fundamental to our health and happiness.  It helps us think more positively about the world and our own contribution to it too.

It’s the voluntary work I’ve done over the years that I’ve enjoyed most above any paid job, no matter what the salary or benefits.  I spent time in Thailand teaching English to Buddhist monks, worked at yoga ashrams and Buddhist centres as well as doing the soup run for the homeless and volunteering to teach IT to the over 50’s and coordinate activities at elderly day care centres. I enjoy the company and get a sense of satisfaction from this work.

Studies are also showing there are physical health benefits of compassion and giving through the form of voluntary work.  United Health Group commissioned a national survey of 3,351 adults and found that the overwhelming majority of participants reported feeling mentally and physically healthier after a volunteer experience.

·         76 percent of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering has made them feel healthier

·         94 percent of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering improved their mood

·         78 percent of them said that volunteering lowered their stress levels

·         96 percent reported that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life

·         Volunteering also improved their self-esteem

Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in England analyzed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20 percent lower risk of death than their peers who do not volunteer. The study also found that volunteers had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being. 

It doesn’t have to be money, it doesn’t have to be a lot of time if you’re short on that.  It can even be as simple as starting with some random acts of kindness throughout your day.  When we think of giving we often think of charitable donations but it doesn’t have to involve money.  Donating items to charity collections, baking cakes for local events, helping out at a local animal shelter or using some of your skills to help others are all forms of giving.  Giving is not always about your time or money.  We all have skills and strengths we can share with others, we can all choose to be compassionate.  Even if we have very little material wealth, we all have infinite non material wealth we can share.

Take the project ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ for example.  They have many ideas of acts of kindness we can perform for complete strangers and at the same time encourage those who have been the recipient of an act of kindness to pass it on and do something kind for someone else.  This can be as simple as helping an elderly neighbor with their shopping, paying the toll fee for the car behind you, holding the door open for a stranger or making coffee for a busy colleague. 

It doesn’t have to be hard or take up a lot of time, there are so many ways to help and by doing so we’re not just helping the recipients we’re helping ourselves too.  In a world where we’re increasing too busy for kindness see if you can make space to volunteer yourself in some capacity – your health and happiness will thank you.

#NVW2107

Permission to fail; slowing down

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I don’t know about you but towards the end of the year I get jaded.  The last few weeks always seem a bit hard and I find myself counting down to a break over Christmas and the lure of the reset a New Year brings.  A chance to regroup and a clean slate to push on into another year.

It’s also a point I look at what I’ve achieved over this year, I’d set some lofty goals and being ambitious always want to ensure they’ve all been ticked off the list by the end of the year. Usually I’ll make sure of it, in the past even at the cost of my health, juggling many balls in the air making sure none dropped.

These days I try to spend more time being and less time doing, we live in such a busy, driven, over achieving world that it’s all too easy to lose our balance.  This might be why so many of us reach the end of the year longing for a break and limping over the finish line.

As I looked at the things I’d not quite done yet and the time left this year, my over committed schedule and the nice to haves I’d like to fit it (yoga, time with my girlfriend, Christmas shopping) I felt a little overwhelmed.  I also felt so short on energy that I lost all motivation to even want to do things nice to haves. I couldn’t even get excited by Christmas and the impending opportunity to visit my family, even buying them gifts seemed like an effort I didn’t have the time for and for me this is unusual.  I was so close to launching my online course, my last goal for 2016, and felt pressure to do this to coincide with the New Year and time was quickly running out. I’d had so much else on of late though and a packed travel schedule that I also felt like I didn’t have the energy to even know where to start.

I had one free weekend left so I figured I could work 12 hour days to cover some of this off, but then how good would it be, I really ought to be spending more time getting prepared and getting this right I thought.  But that would mean not completing this in 2016 as I had set in my goals – this would mean failure!

This is something that’s not normally an option for me but for the first time I allowed myself to fail and be comfortable with that, knowing I’d made the right choice.  I made peace with not having to get this done now, the fact that I’d overpromised and not allowed myself time for everything I’d wanted to do. I also remembered that without energy, rest and health how was I going to achieve any of my goals?  Self-care and balance really are the foundations for everything we do thereafter.

I’d had a lot of travel of late and needed to reground, I also knew I felt very tired and needed some rest.  I’d spent so much time doing that I’d left little time for being and this is so important to my health, not to mention my creativity and focus.  So I didn’t work 12 hour days, I let go of the notion of having to do everything and achieve all the goals I’d ambitiously set.  I allowed my overflowing schedule to relent for the weekend and spent the time on what I needed the most – rest, recharge and balance.  I used that time to go for walks, sleep in, meditate, rest and recharge, read and catch up with friends and family, I also got some Christmas shopping done and post recharge I feel excited about Christmas and am looking forwarding to spending time with my family overseas, I also feel slightly more prepared!

Balance is the key and knowing when to reprioritise and ensure we always do the things that matter first.  Whilst I’ll set more goals for 2017 I’m sure, as is my habit I’ll be over ambitious and need to re-tweak as we go through the year but this is less about failing and more about balance.  Knowing what’s important and ensuring we look after ourselves in the process of achieving our dreams.  Understanding that whilst we can do anything we want we can’t do everything and it doesn’t all have to be done now!

I’ve also taken the time to reflect on all the things I have achieved this year, rather than just dwelling on the misses.  I suggest you do too as we are always inclined to focus on what we missed rather than all of the little wins along the way.

We do have a tendency to over estimate all we can achieve, particularly in the 24 hours we get in a day!  I’m learning (slowly) that whilst we can do anything we want, we can’t do everything we want. Realising this helps me reprioritise what’s in my overly ambitious schedule to make it more manageable and realistic.

So as we prepare to enter into another new year I have set my goals but I’ll also know my priorities and when things get busy (as they do) I’ll make sure I manage them, even if that means some have to get reprioritised and pushed down the list.  The good news is the online course will be out next year and it’ll have had the time and effort put in that it so deserves which I hope brings a better product. I certainly feel like I have the energy required to put into the project now and have also learned another valuable lesson for balancing our busy over achieving schedules with what’s most important.

It’s ok to take time out, to say no, to admit something can’t be done and relook at our to do list and reprioritise.  In fact it’s often necessary to us being able to carry on effectively and not burn out, particularly at this time of year.  It’s critical we prioritise the things that matter and that we find time to look after ourselves, otherwise it’s very difficult to get anything done.

Happiness Life Hacks

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Life seems complicated these days.  We’re all busy pursuing happiness, yet how many of us ever reach that goal?

Success, money, and busyness are top of our priority list, yet deep in our hearts we’d prefer time, love, and security.

It’s the age of making a living, but perhaps at the cost of making a life.  What really makes us happy, and how do we find it?

Read the full article; here and watch the video blog here

How to be beautiful

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Beauty isn’t about having a pretty face. It’s about having a pretty mind, kind heart and most importantly a beautiful soul.

Watch the video blog How to be Beautiful here

In today’s society body image is given such importance, fuelled by the media it fuels worries from guys and girls in their teens right through to middle age. The media present us with unrealistic expectations of body image that we’ll never achieve. Much of what we see has been airbrushed and perfected until it’s no longer possible to recreate naturally. We are being set up to fail.

It often leads to self doubt, lack of confidence and not feeling good enough. Our obsession with self image can often get in the way of self love which is critical to our happiness. So many of us want to change our body in some way or dislike what we see in the mirror. Even when those around us think we look fine and perhaps envy the very bits we’re wanting to trade! It’s all relative, if you’re size 18 you may envy a size 14 yet they are envying size 10’s and even they are envying someone smaller/prettier than them! It may also be true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what we dislike, others can love. Like art or music, we all have different tastes. Some of us prefer brown eyes, others blue but really it’s less about the colour of the eyes and more about what they tell us when we look into them.

As far back as I can remember in my teens I was conscious of how I looked. I was short, ‘stocky’ as my grandad would say. My thighs were too big, my nose stuck out, I never felt comfortable in heels and I had a constant battle with my weight, even though most of the time my weight was fine! It wasn’t until I matured I began to realise there’s so much more to it than this. All those things I’d spent hours agonising over and trying to change ignoring the positives within just because they were not as visible. Throughout school I wanted to be like the pretty girls but as we’ve all aged some may not be as pretty anymore and those things on the surface that I’ve worried about for so long have changed over time and will continue to do so. The difference is my acceptance of who I am and the comfort in my own skin, what ever that looks like because it feels good.

It sounds like a cliché “your beauty is on the inside” but think about it. We’ve all met people who look good on the outside but as soon as they speak we take an instant dislike to them, based on the fact that if they are unattractive on the inside we see they are not beautiful at all. Our beauty does not lie in what we can see. As people we have inner beauty, our bodies are just a container for our soul, this is the bit that matters and it doesn’t appear in magazines, it is not vain and it does not need plastic surgery.

You know that body that we obsess over so much, the one we put so much of our time and effort into trying to look beautiful. The workouts, the clothes, the beauty products, the diets. The constant worry that we’re too round, not tanned enough. The comparison to others who seem to always be fitter, slimmer and better in some way. The worry that eating that piece of cake might just mean that extra pound we’re trying to shift will stay put – yes that body!

Well it’s going to change and it’s not always going to look like this and for some, this may be the best it ever ‘looks’! This is true of everyone, even the rich and famous age. But why do we worry? It is after all just our body. It is not our kindness, our love, our courage, our empathy. It is not our intellect, our strength, our creativity or our wisdom. All the things that make us special and all the things that really make us beautiful.

Do you know when you look most beautiful? Regardless of if you’ve just stepped off the beach or you’re dressed to kill? It’s when you’re comfortable in your own skin, accepting of yourself, at home with who you are and this is evident whether we are in our jeans and t-shirt or our Sunday best, without the hair cut, the make up the fake tan or anything else on the surface, it comes from within and is a deep unmistakable beauty.

If this is not yet your current state then stop worrying about all the things you’re not and start celebrating all that you are. There are people out there that love you, probably for reasons you don’t even know. Often they see what we don’t, our inner beauty.
We should look after our bodies, yes, this is a measure of our self respect. This means loving what we have, treating it right, feeding it well and resting it often. After all it is the container for what is most important and most beautiful about us all. Our soul, our essence, the parts of us that make us the person we are.

Success: reach your potential

Click here to see the newsletter in full; Newsletter April 2016

We’re capable of more than we think

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy some rest over the Easter break. Life always seems so busy and we achieve so much yet so often we under estimate our abilities and this stops us reaching our potential.

We feel we might just be too ordinary to achieve great things yet those who succeed begin as ordinary people, the difference is they realise their potential, the potential that is within all of us because nobody is really just ordinary

I was stuck in a life I needed to change but frozen by fear; of the unknown, of failure. What if I’m just not good enough to realise these crazy dreams that live inside my head? But by taking small steps towards my goals and changing my life to revolve around my passions and authenticity, I discovered extra ordinary things I’d never thought I was capable of.

Never stop dreaming and don’t put limits on what we can achieve. “Inside every ordinary person there is extraordinary potential”

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Recent Inspiration

Unleash your hero within [click to view] 

No-body is just an ordinary person, realise your potential [read now]

5 ways to tap into your inner wisdom [read now]

When it gets tough, how not to give up on your dreams [read now] 

Disconnecting to reconnect [click to view] 

How to stay sane in a crazy world [read now]

 

Be in with a chance to win a free e-copy of my book to gift to a friend by leaving a review on Amazon http://amzn.com/1504343816

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How to stay sane in a crazy world

Calm-Woman

“You can’t calm the storm so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself and the storm will pass.” ~Timber Hawkeye

After another driver pulled out in front of me and narrowly missed a collision, I put on my brakes and waited for the car to stop. As the other driver sailed off ahead of me, my hysterical passenger screamed, “What an idiot! Didn’t you see him? Why didn’t you blast the horn? These people shouldn’t be on the road!”

I realized my reaction, or lack of reaction, was out of the ordinary, and I also noticed that despite the circumstance I had remained equanimous—I hadn’t let it disturb my peace of mind.

I wasn’t angry with the driver, my blood pressure hadn’t increased, and no damage had been done. I was at peace.

It hadn’t always been this way. I inherited a short fuse from my dad (at least, that’s the excuse I used for years).

Imagine a day where very little upsets you and in the face of annoyances you just sail through, calm, peaceful, and happy? It may seem like an impossibility, but when I look at where I was and where I am now, I can assure you it’s not.

It’s a long journey, it doesn’t happen overnight, and like with everything it takes practice.

Before I could do anything about controlling them, the first step was just to notice them. I spent a long time at this point prior to progressing! But with awareness comes progress and just noticing the emotions arise is a huge step in the right direction. 

I used to think it was an unattainable goal. I’d look at monks and nuns being zen and think, Well surely it’s easy to be zen if you live on a mountain top away from the world. But as one old monk (who looked very young) told me, while they may not have the outside pressures like traffic jams, shopping, and emails to test their equanimity, they still have human internal pressures.

He explained to me about his separation from his mother when he was a young child, living through a war, the death of his brother, and his overcoming cancer. There’s enough there to make any human mind an unpeaceful place!

Our minds are so precious and powerful it makes sense we should keep them as peaceful as possible. Not only does it impact on our mood, our relationships, and our effectiveness, but also our health.

Imagine how different life could be if the ups and downs and little annoyances didn’t affect us anymore, if our brains were trained to not react, not suppressing anger but not having the to need to supress it.

Imagine what a different place the world would be if we could all learn equanimity. Well, be the change you want to see and start today! Bringing stillness to our mind also brings peace, and when we are at peace nothing disturbs our equanimity.

Watch the video blog here and read the article in full at Tiny Buddha

Motivation & Inspiration for February 2016

View the full newsletter as PDF here

Time Flies

So we are one month into 2016, it goes so fast doesn’t it. It only feels like 5 minutes since we were setting our intentions and considering what this clean slate, New Year will hold.  How are those resolutions going?

Time can go so quick it’s easy to get side tracked with the busyness of daily life and forget about our goals and dreams (until the next New Year comes around). Life can happen whilst we’re busy making other plans, but only if we let it. Check out my video blog to help keep us on track and ensure we’re always taking steps to create a life we love despite the busyness of daily life.

It’s hard to believe that my six months in England has passed in the blink of an eye. I had a lovely time with family and friends and even managed to see some snow before leaving. I am now back in my resident New Zealand and enjoying catching up on all the things I missed.

Best wishes for a fabulous February!

Jess

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Recent Inspiration

NEW! 5 things you can do to make life better [read full blog here]

Life is our greatest teacher [read full blog here]

Video blog: Equanimity: How to stay sane in a crazy world [click to view]

If you’ve not picked up a copy of the book yet, click here to find paperback and e-book versions

Info & Events

Thanks to all those who came out to support the launch of the book last month.

For anyone who missed the events. A special online launch was recorded and can be viewed here

I was recently interviewed by BBC radio on the journey that lead to me writing the book, for those who missed it listen again here

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5 things to do to create a life you love

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Have you ever thought “it shouldn’t be this hard” or “there must be more to life than this”? What do those who are happy and fulfilled do differently and how can we get a piece of the action?

Start by asking yourself these questions; When do you feel most alive, what inspires you and makes your heart sing?

Life often feels harder than it should be, we’re left thinking, what’s it about, how do I change things and how can I find a way off this wheel? It doesn’t have to be this way, we should not be so busy making a living that we forget to make a life.

We can be rich and ‘successful’ (and many of us would like to be) but this does not necessarily leave us feeling fulfilled. Being happy and living with purpose is very different from society’s model of ‘success’ we’ve been led to believe holds the key to our happiness.

Try these 5 simple tips to create a life you deserve;

 1.  Learn something new

Continuous growth is important, we all like to have something to aim for. Our ambitions and goals gives us a sense of direction and satisfaction when we achieve what we set out to do. Whether it’s a dance class you’ve wanted to start, learning to draw or a language you want to learn it stimulates your mind and soul and stretches you to challenge yourself and achieve.

2.  Let go  

Lao Tzu said “To become learned each day add something, to become enlightened each day drop something”. Clearing clutter, removing blocks makes room in your life for the things that matter. When you clean your house it feels more orderly and balanced, in the same way, letting go of what no longer serves you makes room for things that do.

We live in a world where we feel we have to have things to be happy, it leads us on an endless pursuit of material possessions, upgrading the car, extending the house, buying more accessories. We feel we have to ‘have’ things to be free when it’s the opposite, our struggle to hold onto things brings the very pain we are trying to avoid, we are terrified of letting go for fear we’ll have nothing but this is the true path to living.

If you have been hurt by someone and you still hold anger and resentment because of it, you are letting them hurt you again. Forgiveness sets you free, let go of resentment. “Holding onto anger is like holding a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else, you are the one that gets burned” Buddhist saying.

3.  Give  

It gives us a sense of purpose and that warm feeling that we’ve helped someone in need. It doesn’t have to be big money donations to charity, helping an old lady across the road with her shopping or letting a car in front of you in a traffic queue and other small random acts of kindness are equally important

The root of all happiness comes from giving to others and wanting them to be happy. Studies show that giving to others makes us happier, when groups of people were given the same amount of money to spend on themselves or on others it was those who spent it on others that reported feeling happier. Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School analysed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20 percent lower risk of death than their peers who do not volunteer.

4.  Find your purpose

Finding your purpose, why are you here, what’s it all about, what makes your life worth living. What’s important to you, what would you do and who would you be if money and other barriers were no object, what sort of person would you be, how would you like to be remembered?

We often get our sense of self from what we do (eg. I’m a mother, a lawyer, a widow). You are more than your job title or your social status, this should not define you or be who you are, it is just what you do.

Work is something we spend so much of our time doing we should ensure for a happy life that we enjoy it and it brings us a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Yet so many of us leave our souls behind when we go to work. Don’t ask ‘what do I want to do’ ask ‘what kind of life do I want to have?’

5.  Do what you love

It can be the small things like a walk along the beach, playing with the dog, visiting your favourite coffee shop, sitting down to read a good book or bigger things like travelling the world, skydiving or simply a night in with the family. Think about what makes your heart sing and incorporate things you love into every day. If you do what you love you will be successful.

Read more in my new book; A Rough Guide to a Smooth Life

Happy New Year: What’s your goal for 2016?

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View the full newsletter as a PDF by clicking here; Newsletter January 2016

I have been reflecting on my first year in business, as we tend to do at this time of year. This time a year ago I was teaching myself how to build a website and writing my first blog. I’ve achieved a lot since then but it’s easy to forget.

There’s still part of me that looks at the success of those who’ve been before and I think; why don’t I have thousands of followers or media appearances yet! We often feel we should be further along than we are. It stops us realising how far we’ve come and celebrating the successes along the way.

We are often left thinking, why can’t tomorrow be today! The impatience of wanting it all now and feeling we should be more successful than we are. I am often reminding myself it’s not an overnight thing. It’s important that we celebrate small successes along the way and appreciate the journey.

Remember your successes from 2015 and have a great start to 2016

 

Recent Inspiration

Meaning and Purpose: Call off the search [read blog here] 

Redefining success based on what matters [read blog here]

Video blog; 10 ways to make 2016 great [click to view] 

Tis the season to be grateful, guest blog [read] 

Video blog: Celebrating Success [click to view]

If you’ve not yet accessed the free resource on making 2016 great [click here]

book cover final

Book Launch Info & Events

View the official book trailer here and find out how you can support the launch [click here]

There are a series of events to celebrate the launch of my first book, including an online event on launch day accessible all over the world

Tuesday 5th January 2016 – Latest Music Bar, Brighton, UK

Wednesday 6th January 2016 – Launch Day Event – ONLINE

Tuesday 12th January 2016 – Bottesford Library, Leicestershire

Thursday 14th January 2016 – Guildhall, Grantham, UK

 

Download the event flyer

Support the launch with a thunderclap here

#RoughGuideSmoothLife