dreams

Dreams

Recently, my daughter Lore asked me if running my own store was something that I always wanted to do. Without thinking about my answer, I said ‘Yes’. I went on to tell her that owning my own shop has always been what I wanted to do. I told her that when I was little, I had the dream to own a shop called “StrayKats”. I picked that name because someone I know once used the term stray cat to describe a cat. I had never heard those words before and immediately fell in love with how it sounded.

My daughters are getting older and are beginning to have dreams of their own. As much as want them to go into science or creative arts, I don’t want to be the mother who quashes their dreams the way mine were crushed. The way I was subtly encouraged to study law when all I wanted was to own a shop like my mother did.

One of my daughters says she wants to be a singer and – until recently – I subtly made it clear to her that her dream to live off singing is not reality. It is just her day dreaming. Who tells their child that their dream can’t come true? I will tell you who: a mother who is not secure in herself. A mother who has not achieved her own lifelong dreams, a mother who is trying to live out her dreams through her kids. I was that mother. And I know so many of them.

I am not saying we should not help our children with extra tutoring, etc. if they need it. I am also not saying we shouldn’t push our kids to be excellent at what they commit to doing. What I am saying is, do not take your child off his or her life lane just because someone else took you off yours. Before you start pushing your child to sit for those grammar school exams, ask yourself why you are really doing it. If you are doing it for the right reasons, that is great. However, if you are not… you know what to do.

I know what to do but I am struggling to do the right thing. The right thing is always the hardest, isn’t it?

Who is a mama queen?

Some days ago, I was asked who a Mama Queen is.  Or, what it even means.  Here are the qualities of a Queen Mama:
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A Queen Mama is :

  • A strong, confident and loving woman.
  • A woman is not afraid to fail.
  • She is fierce. She is not a victim. She does not point fingers.
  • She treats herself like a queen.
  • She speaks life into those around her.
  • She does not permit anyone to make her feel inferior.
  • She  is herself – everyone else is taken.
  • She is worth more than diamond or gold. And, she knows it.
  • She is a phenomenal woman.
  • A mama queen is the master of her destiny.

You can shop Mama Queen Tote here

Yvonne

5 amazing podcasts every mama should be listening to

Let us be honest, most mums don’t have the time to pick up a book and read. We have the school runs to do, meals to prepare, food shopping, laundry to be folded… and the list goes on. 

The days that I am too busy to pick up a book, I listen to a podcast as I carry out my chores. It’s that simple. These are a few of my favourites.

 

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Child in Mind

A ground- breaking podcast series from the Anna Freud National Centre For Children and Families. Anna Freud “work to improve the lives of thousands of children and young people with mental health problems. We provide specialist help, we train others, and we carry out innovative research.” The first episode is What do we know about childhood anxiety and what can parents do about it?

Read more here

This American Life

I listen to this podcast every single week. There is a theme to each episode and a variety of real life stories are shared by real people on that theme.

Read more here

Dear Sugar Radio

 Dear Sugar radio is hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. This is agony-auntying at its best. Listeners write in with a problem. The problem is discussed and advice is offered by Cheryl and Steve. Sometimes, an expert is called.

Read more here

BBC Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs  

You can’t go wrong with Desert Island Discs. It is my go-to podcast. The podcast is hosted by Kirsty Young who invites a guest to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island.

Read more here

Death, Sex & Money

I discovered this podcast a year or so ago and since then, It is on automatic download on my device. Death, Sex & Money is hosted by Anna Sale. Anna talks about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.

Read more here

Do you have any favourites you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.

BBC 2 motherland review

Motherland

If you are looking for something funny to watch on TV, then, watch Motherland (BBC2).

BBC 2 motherland review

Motherland is the new fabulous sitcom (about being a mum) written by Graham Lineham and Sharon Horgan. The pilot episode which I watched very early this morning (as I prepared packed lunches for school episode)covers almost everything in 21st-centurymotherhood. Issues from the dreaded school run to alcohol consumption by parents. It also covers breastfeeding and the hostile mum-groups.

As you’d expect, there is Queen Bee called Amanda (Lucy Punch). Amanda is that pristine looking and very judgemental mum who makes working mums feel bad about the choices. I was really horrified when Amanda said to super-organised working mum, Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin), “You work so hard. I really admire how you can just switch off your family and focus on your job. Because this is my personal thing, I would just hate myself.”

Motherland is very funny and you may just see yourself in one of the mum characters. You could be Chaotic Liz (Diane Morgan) who is the attractive single mum that most dads in the school fancy. And all the mums can’t stand.  Or, you could just be Anne(Philippa Dunne), the mum who comes across as suffering from low self-esteem. There is also the happy- go-lucky stay-at-home dad, Kevin(Paul Ready).

May I suggest that If you have a laid back husband,(who annoyingly does not understand your experiences as a mum) make him watch it as well.

Motherland is still available for 28 days on BBC Iplayer

Yvonne xxx

The Alchemist

The Alchemist

Reading books and listening to podcasts have changed me for the better. In short, they saved me. Books and podcasts are just the two of many tools I am using to discover a better version of me. Every morning when I listen to a podcast or I read a chapter in a book, I learn something new… and for me, this is exciting. Some days ago I  decided to go back and read The Alchemist by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. I read this book when it was first published in 1988 and I must confess that then, I did not get the message contained in the book . I just saw it as a story of a shepherd boy who was told by an old king to sell his sheep, travel to the Egyptian Pyramids where he will find treasure.

 

This time round, I get the core message. So, I am taking my time and savoring the numerous life-affirming  messages in The Alchemist. I am taking my time because (and this is just my opinion) it is a book not to be rushed. Every Aha in The Alchemist needs to be pondered upon and that is what I am doing. When I finish this book, I plan to read it to my daughters as well. I feel they are not too young to understand the core theme of the book.

 

This post is to share with you the core message of The Alchemist which I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. “When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” To put it simply“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

The Alchemist

If you are looking to achieve a dream, or you are still searching for what your purpose is, or even, you want to accomplish what you have always wanted to do, Please read this book.

Shop The Alchemist here

Yvonne xxx

Why you must go and see Zootropolis

Zootropolis

Photograph: Allstar/Disney

I am one of those mamas who take their kids to the cinema because they’ve run out of ideas for the holidays, the kids are beginning to run wild staying indoors, or I really need a nap. After days of promising my daughters that I would take them to the cinema, yesterday I finally got round to it. I asked them what they’d like to see. The choices were between Disney’s Zootropolis and Eddie the Eagle.

After many arguments and “mama it is not fair!” we settled for Zootropolis which was my second choice – I’m not a big fan of animated movies.

I think Zootropolis may have changed that for me. From start to finish, I was wide awake. I did not fall asleep as I normally do in cinemas. Zootropolis made me laugh hard, think hard and cry hard. Dear God!… I was an emotional mess in the cinema, but I loved how this movie made me feel.

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Zootropolis spoke to me deeply. You know sometimes when you are going through life stuff and you are trying to figure things out, and then one day as you wait at the bus stop a random stranger starts making small talk with you and the small talk turns big… and BAMM, it touches on the stuff you are going through. That was what Zootropolis did for me. I hope it does the same for you when you go and see it.

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The storyline is simple and beautiful. In a city of animals, an ambitious and brave country bunny Judy Hopps (who from a young age dreamt of becoming the first rabbit cop on the Zootropolis police force) meets a con artist fox Nick Wilde. Judy and Nick must work together to uncover a plot to turn the predator citizens into savage animals (as they used to be when the old predator/prey distinction applied.)

Zootropolis is the best film my girls have seen this year. And it may just be the most important film we see this year. The storyline touched on everything from politics, ambition, prejudice… you name it, and it was in Zootropolis.

The animation was fabulous; it was a feel good movie that was full of subtle life lessons. We sat for over two hours (didn’t feel like it) and when the movie ended and as everyone else left the cinema, we still sat there in awe of what we had just seen. After I gathered myself together, I asked Ola what she learnt from Zootropolis. She said, “Chase my dream”. Her younger sis, Lore said, “Never give up”.

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What are the main lessons I took away from the Zootropolis? Life is messy and I must make the best of it, and no dream is unattainable if I work hard, believe and have grit.

Other lessons are:

  1. people are not born evil – they make the decision to be evil when bad things happen to them.
  2. A cliché –  never judge a book by its cover.
  3. The people you least expect may have a solution to your problem.
  4. The people we believe can’t disappoint us may well end up disappointing us.
  5. Prejudice in any form is dangerous.
  6. Never let the haters see that they get to you.
  7. People (even family members) will try and talk you out of your dream. They think they are protecting you from getting hurt or disappointed.

Go see this movie, you won’t regret it.

Yvonne xxx

“Amazing!” magazine giveaway

 

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As a mother of two girls, their education is important to me. I consider education as one of the vital components in the recipe that guarantees success. Because of this, I spend quite a bit on learning materials for my daughters. Seeing them read and hearing them tell me about the latest book they are reading – or the book they’d just finished – gives me pleasure.

For me, educational materials are not only your run-of-the-mill textbooks, they include magazines, notebooks, comics, colouring books, apps, games, etc.

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Some weeks ago, I got an email from an agency asking if I would consider reviewing a children’s educational magazine called Amazing! The email went further to tell me more:

1) It covers most subjects such as Maths, English, Science Geography, Arts and lots more.

2)It is based on the current primary national curriculum.

3) It is designed for boys and girls aged 7+.

4) Amazing! takes things that children actually like reading about such as zombies, aliens, cheesy feet, etc. and links them in clever and humorous ways back to the national curriculum.

I was tempted… so instead of pressing my delete button (like I normally do with such emails), I asked for a copy to be sent out to me.

Amazing Magazine (7 of 28)

Amazing Magazine (21 of 28)

I did not know what to expect. But, what I wasn’t expecting was a good quality paper magazine with great illustrations. When my daughters and I finally sat down to read the content in Amazing! my daughters were impressed – they said it reminds them of Horrible Histories Magazines. Coming from my daughters, this is massive praise and approval.

It even gets better.

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Since each issue is theme-based, my older daughter Ola couldn’t contain herself when she discovered that one out of the two Amazing! magazines we received was an Ancient Roman Special. The other was on Natural Power.

When I sat and read The Ancient Roman Special with her, I discovered that Amazing! magazine didn’t only teach her what her school teacher had already taught her. Neither did it rehash the books she had already read. Instead Amazing! gave her fresh facts that she wouldn’t have learnt from me… I didn’t even know some of them.

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Both girls were not overwhelmed by all the information and facts – Amazing! magazine made it fun with the entertaining language used and the colourful images. Plus, each page was dedicated to different subjects like Art and Design, Life Science, History, Poetry, Literature, moral stories and lots more. And btw, there was Food Technology!

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Amazing! has a cover price of £3.99

KemiKids has teamed up with Amazing! magazine to give copies to ten lucky readers. For a chance to win, please email me with your name and address at yvonne@realyvonne.com . This giveaway ENDS 12TH APRIL.

Amazing! is a monthly 36-page publication with an annual subscription is just £49 for 12 issues (a whole year). KemiKids readers can use the discount code WOW10 at checkout to qualify for a special offer of 10% off subscriptions.

Amazing! magazine review

Disclosure: We were sent Amazing! magazine for this review, however, all opinions are mine.

 

Yvonne

Books we have read this month

My daughters Ola and Lore are the perfect examples of kids brought up in the same environment but are totally different from each other. They have different tastes in food, they learn differently ad they read a different genre of books – they are nothing like each other in most things… and this shocks me!

Liking different genre of books means they don’t read each other’s books – except for  comics. And since John and I want our kids to enjoy reading; we don’t force them to share books, we just buy what they would enjoy individually.  This is an expensive way to get children to read books but it matters not to us. We rather spend money on books than plastic toys! Books are for life, plastic toys end up in recycling bins.

This post is to share with you some of the books we have read in the last week or two.

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Books we have read this month.

My daughters Ola and Lore are the perfect examples of kids brought up in the same environment but are totally different. They have different taste buds, learn differently, read a different genre of books… they are just nothing like each other in everything… this shocks me.

Liking different genre of books means they don’t read each other’s books. And since we want them to enjoy reading; we don’t force them to share books. This can be expensive but…does it really matter?

This post is just to share with you some of the books they have read in the last week or two.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book  An easy read for kids who do not like to read proper books. This book will help you draw your own Wimpy-Kid-style cartoons and  write your own Wimpy Kid journal, just like Greg.

 

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Cool! Ola enjoyed this book so much. The book made her cry and laugh. She was very eager to read it to me.  An inspiring story of a boy in a coma called Robbie – the victim of a car accident. Locked inside his own head, able to hear but not move or speak, Robbie tries to keep himself from falling deeper into unconsciousness.

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Utterly Me This book revisits Clarice’s family, and introduces Ruby Redfort.  Ruby is always going on exciting adventures, but all Clarice gets to do is go to the local shop on her own. But when Clarice and her best friend, Betty Moody, decide to do their school project on the Ruby Redfort books, they suddenly start finding mysteries everywhere. Why are all the coats on the wrong hooks at school, and where has Granddad disappeared to?

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Toro! Toro!  I read this story to my daughters. I enjoyed it myself. Toro! Toro! is the story of a young boy growing up in Spain, on a farm raising bulls for the bull ring. Antonito rears a little black calf and they become firm friends, but he doesn’t know the fate of the black bulls – the corrida and death

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The Flat Stanley Collection Lore enjoyed this book so much, she finished it in a day. Ola found Stanley Lambchop weird so she was not too keen on the story! Stanley Lambchop is an ordinary boy with a strange problem. One night, a massive pinboard falls on top of him leaving him completely flat. Amazing things can happen when you’re flat!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0141345152/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=0141345152&linkCode=am2&tag=real0b-21

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: Movie Diary  Another book that was finished in an hour. This book goes behind the scenes of each of the three Wimpy Kid movies to tell the story of Greg Heffley from the funniest cartoon character ever, to a real live person on the big screen.

Yvonne xxx

If you decide to purchase any of these books, please use the links provided. I get a commission from amazon for recommending these books to you. This money goes towards the maintenance of KemiKids.

Doodling

Doodling & creativity

Doodling

Of late, my older daughter (who in my opinion is a creative) has been asking her father and me for ideas about what she could draw in her sketchbook. Her father tells her all the time to draw the fruit bowl. I tell her, “There are inspirations all around you.” But she still struggles.

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When her creative side is flowing, she just gets on with it and draws all sorts of beautiful pictures. As a blogger, I know that sometimes creatives need help in finding inspiration.

In my case, sometimes I have nothing to write… this is what some people call writer’s block. When I hit this, I need help as well. And my help comes from reading all sorts of materials – from newspapers to magazine, books… and listening to podcasts. And before you know it, BOOM, I have an idea.

Doodling

 

Just like me (and most creatives) perhaps my daughter needs help as well. So, I’ve come up with an idea that should help. The idea is that anytime she hits a “creative block”, I’ll get her doodling in one of her doodling books. The doodling books I have in mind are the ones that give instructions for you to personalise a drawing.

Luckily, I don’t need to buy her any because we have some already. I’ve gone back to our book shelves and pulled out three doodle books. These doodle books are great because they have been designed to inspire children with fun pictures and projects to personalise.

Doodling

This inspiration will get imagination going again and from there… she’ll be inspired to draw her own picture.

Do you have a way of helping your child when their creative juices are not flowing? Please share your ideas with other readers.

Doodling

 

Yvonne xxx

The doodling books featured here can be found on Amazon.

 

6 Great books for Valentine’s Day

6 Great books for Valentines Day10 years ago, I met my husband John a week before Valentine’s Day. Because of this, Valentine’s Day to some extent a “biggie” in our house. We don’t go-over-the top but the four of us give each other chocolates and cards… and I may even cook something special.

However, this year – for the girls, I’m not to buying Valentine’s cards; I’ll be getting them something more memorable than a card. My plan is to buy them a book each.

If, like me, you are thinking of giving your child a book on February 14th, you need to order one soon to arrive on time. Or better still, pop into your nearest bookshop and pick one up.

These are my picks:

Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood. Cat does NOT like Valentine’s Day It’s much too mushy, and no way is he making a valentine for anyone- especially not his new neighbour, Dog.

You Know What I Love? by Lorena Siminovich. A story of a girl and her doll that mimic the close relationship between a parent and child. This is the perfect “I love you book” for the one nearest and dearest to you.

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. A book on endless good wishes: Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. This sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age on Valentine’s Day.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch  has a great message about kindness and caring for others. Your child may relate to Mr. Hatch who received a mysterious Valentine’s Day treat.

Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine  by Marjorie SharmatThis is from the Nate the Great detective series. Nate the Great hates mushy stuff. He spies a big red paper heart taped to Sludge’s doghouse. Who left Nate’s dog a secret valentine?

I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. A collection of verses explaining what it means to be a friend. A fantastic read for you and your child to read together or separately.

Are you going to be giving a Valentine’s book to your child this year? Please feel free to share what book you plan to give.

Yvonne xxx

The Fairiest Fairy

Six books on friendship

The most effective tools I use in talking to my daughters about life issues are books. Books are an amazing way to gently illustrate a point while transporting a child into a different world. The morals contained in a story can teach your child right from wrong. Some books are themed to help them understand the beauty of friendship and the importance of gratitude. In this post, I share with you six books on friendship.

The Fairiest Fairy Anne Booth

The Fairiest Fairy by Anne Booth is a magnificent read. It is a story of Betty who always get into muddles. She can’t paint a rainbow or scatter dewdrops, nor do other things that a fairy should… not with so many animals to rescue and friends to help. But when it comes to the Fairy Ball, Betty’s friends return her gifts of kindness and it becomes clear who is actually the fairest fairy of them all.

The adventures of Beekle the imaginary friend

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is a beautiful story by Dan Santat. On one very special day, an imaginary friend is born on an island far away. Here he and his other imaginary friends hope and wait for their turn to be picked by a real child. But this particular imaginary friend waits and waits, and still no child picks him. So he does the unimaginable – he sets off into the real world. Once there, he searches so long that he is just about to give up when Alice meets him. Gradually they discover they are perfect for each other, and Alice has the perfect name for her imaginary friend: Beekle.

Dear Bunny Bianca Gomez

What is the secret of happiness in humans? Gratitude for the big and small things. That’s why it is important we teach our children gratitude. Dear Bunny by Katie Cotton is a book that will help you talk with your child about what makes her happy and what she’s grateful for.

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A younger brother or sister may face being left behind when their older sibling turns into a teenager. Whatever Happened to My Sister is a sweet story by Simona Ciraolo. It is the a story of a younger girl whose older sister is changing. This is a fab book if your child is going through such an experience.

How to find gold Viviane Schwarz

Viviane Schwarz’s How to Find Gold is a story of two friends, Anna and Crocodile, who are on the hunt for gold. But finding gold isn’t easy… it’s dangerous and difficult and requires planning. What will the two friends discover? Teeming with an adventurous spirit and funny dialogue, this story introduces us to two unforgettable characters.

One Hundred Bones Yuval Zommer

One Hundred Bones by Yuval Zommer a heart-warming story about an underdog who comes out on top. Scruff is a stray dog who just loves to dig. It doesn’t make him the most popular dog in the neighbourhood. But, when he sniffs out a pile of old bones, he gets all the neighbourhood dogs to help him. They uncover not one but 100 bones. It is the most exciting dinosaur discovery of all time! Scruff’s find wins him new friends and a new home.

Yvonne xxx

Mixed me

Mixed Me (Taye Diggs)

Taye Diggs is one of the world’s most handsome men but, as handsome as he is, this post is not about his handsomeness. It’s about his second children’s book Mixed Me which features a mixed-race child named Mike as the main character.

Mixed Me is a book that dives into the experiences of mixed-race children. Taye Diggs has a mixed-race son… he says his six-year son inspired him to write the book. And I was compelled to buy this book after a recent my recent experience.

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And I know (as a mum of mixed-race girls) that mixed-race children can struggle with identity. They want to know which racial group they belong to, and which group is going to welcome them.

Mixed me

For me and John educating ourselves and our daughters with books like Mixed Me is part of the answer. Education means we are able to equip our daughters with the confidence to stand up for themselves whenever their identity is questioned. Education will also help them answer innocent questions posed to them by their school friends. And indeed, not such innocent statements that might be made.Mixed me

Mixed Me is a short and easy book to read but with a strong message on identity. It teaches children how to handle the question of why their family members may look different to each other. It also deals with friendship issues, love, peer pressure, and of course, hair.

My children’s only criticism of Mixed Me is the illustrations – they felt the mum in the book did not look pale enough to really convey their own family reality.

Mixed me

John and I liked Mixed Me and my children loved it too. They have read the book a few times now. Overall, the book touched on most issues faced by mixed-race children. My main reason for liking this book is that it celebrates the mixed-race child. Mixed Me tells them that the “beautiful blend of dark and light…” means you are “perfectly mixed and not mixed–up”.

This book is available to buy here in the UK or here in the US.

Jack Canfield Sucess Principles

The Success Principles (my latest read)

Jack Canfield Sucess Principles

Like a lot of mums, after having my daughters I went through a period of not reading books at all. Actually, that’s incorrect – I read some books but most were parenting manuals, and the rest were things similar to The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Five or six years ago, my love for books was reignited after I joined a book club at my local library. Since then, I’ve bought even more books than vintage clothes – and God knows I really like vintage. The truth remains; I’m a sucker for books.

Last week, on Super Soul Sunday, I watched Oprah interview Jack Canfield co-creator of the Chicken Soup For The Soul books about his success and how he has helped others get from where they are to where they want to be. It was what I needed to hear… so it made sense for me to buy one of his books. Before the end of the interview, I’d ordered The Success Principles.

Why did I order this book? Ashamedly, I have a dream but I’ve always made excuses not to go for it. Plus, I don’t know how to. From what Jack was saying, I figured out he’s the man to help get rid of my fears, excuses and get me to where I want to be.

I’ve not finished the book yet – it’s going to take a few weeks to because I have to think the principles over and complete the many exercises in the book. But I’d still like to recommend The Success Principles to you. The few chapters I have read have changed my thinking about success and dreams. For example, I now know to take 100% responsibility for my life. This is common sense isn’t it, but most of us don’t. This book has made me realise that I’m responsible for the quality of the life I live – not my parents, not my past, not my husband and definitely not my daughters.

I’ve also learned that the energy used to dream a small dream is the same energy we use to dream a big dream, so why dream small? And why do we let dream-stealers talk us out of our visions?

The Success Principles is a must read for all mums, especially if like me you want to know how to get from where you are now to where you want to be. I’m going to stop rambling on about The Success Principle but if you are a mum and you’re want to treat yourself to something today, buy this book. It’s mind changing.

Shop The Success Principles.

Yvonne xxx