COR friend, YouTube and study guru @_rubygranger gives us a run down of her go-to YouTubers for inspiration:

  1. Katie Morton - Katie helps to spread awareness of mental health through her YouTube channel, giving her viewers an informed understanding of mental illnesses and personality disorders, as well as advice:

  2. Matt D’Avila - Known predominantly for his film Minimalism which aired on Netflix a few years ago, D’Avila continues to spread the world of minimalist living and well-being on his YouTube channel:

  3. John Fish - Speaking as a Harvard undergraduate, John Fish advises people on productive living and well-being:

  4. Perksoflaur - Laura is a sixteen year old student who has just finished her GCSEs, and who, alongside helping to spark motivation in other students, speaks out openly about mental health and her own experiences:

  5. The Bucket List Family - Until very recently, the Gee Family did not own a house, and instead, travelled from country to country, exploring the world. With three young children and just a few bags, Garret and Jessica show the lack of importance in stuff and the essentiality of family:

You get more of Ruby’s tips and insights by subscribing to her YouTube channel,

or by following her on Instagram: @_rubygranger

Naomi Bacon
“Failing Forward”

Hello you lovely lot,

This month, we were joined by Ruby Granger who was with us for work experience, before she starts university next month. In reality, it was Ruby lending us her social media insight and expertise from her impressive following on YouTube (200k) and Instagram (44k!).

We first came across Ruby when we were developing our exam prep course for schools, and were inspired by her zeal for studying!

Ruby is a study-tuber, and her videos provide tips and motivation for that very thing. Taking inspiration from her childhood heroine, Hermione Granger, Ruby has trained herself to become the best student that she can be, and hopes to help others achieve the same.

However, on the flip side of working hard comes the, often self-inflicted, pressure and strain of being an ‘over-achiever’, and the ever-present fear of ‘failure’, often leading to anxiety.

Recently, Ruby experienced the first big ‘fail’ in her life, and shares her story, and what this taught her about resilience, in her own words, below…

  Ruby Granger

Ruby Granger

‘Discovering Resilience’, by Ruby Granger

I was looking through my old journals the other day and, on the first page of one from 2013, I read, “Hello, my name is Ruby, I am twelve years old and my dream is to study English at Oxford University”. Even though I was still on the cusp of childhood, I was holding onto the possibility of studying at the prestigious school that Oxford is regarded to be world-wide. As a young teenager, I decorated my walls with postcards which I collected from tiny gift shops in the city and artistically positioned Bodleian candlesticks on my window sill.

If you’ve seen the film Candy Jar on Netflix, I was a subdued version of Lona who wanted to study at Harvard.

When Oxford offered me an interview back in December 2017, I was buzzing because it felt like everything was falling into place.

However, silence quickly fell when my rejection email came in early January. I still remember my stomach dropping as I read the telling line at the top of my computer screen: after careful consideration of your application…”. I didn’t read to the end of the email, and stared out of the window instead. It was January, but I remember that there were no clouds. It was break time, and I could hear people moving and laughing from just outside of the classroom door. I had been expecting a rejection email but, at the same time, it felt surreal as I realised that this dream that I had held since childhood could not now come true.

My biggest and immediate concern, - and one which was really quite irrational-, was that everyone would be disappointed, not just with me, but in me. Since I had invested so much into my application, I was certain that people would see me as an entirely different person now that I had been rejected; However, the kindness which I was shown that week reminded me that I really didn’t have to go to Oxford to be happy. The people around me, - my friends, family, teachers and viewers -, helped me to be resilient and reconsider my options.

Getting rejected for English made me wonder whether I had made the correct course choice at all. A nagging part of me had, since about fifteen, told me that I would be happier studying Philosophy at degree level, but I was so caught up in my dream that I did not give it adequate thought. The Oxford bubble having burst, however, I was able to properly think about it, and I realised that I had indeed made a mistake.

Seamlessly and easily, I changed my choice on UCAS from English and North American Studies to Philosophy and Theology at Exeter, and made this my firm choice. Whilst I still sometimes feel a pang of regret, I think that getting rejected from Oxford was for the best. Not only am I now heading off to study a subject which I am really excited about, but I faced real failure for the first time and I think that it has just been so important for my personal resilience. Resilience is essential for continued determination and motivation.

To coin a phrase from one of my favourite childhood films, Meet The Robinsons, we need to “keep moving forwards”.

Funnily enough, at school in January, as I left the classroom after receiving my rejection email, I passed a younger girl who was clearly distressed about something or other.

Pushing my rejection from my mind, I made this my focus. I made this more important.

Resilience sometimes means pushing something aside, such as ‘failure’, and not letting that define you and your actions.

I am so glad I stopped on that day, (even if just for a minute), because it reminded me that there were still things I could do.

It’s sounds silly, but the first step to continued determination after failure has to be tiny.

Do something you would do on any other day, because this reminds you that not everything has changed. That it is not the end of the world.

You get more of Ruby’s tips and insights by subscribing to her YouTube channel, or following her on Instagram: @_rubygranger

You can also find Ruby’s study planner and book at:

Naomi Bacon

COR friend, YouTube and study guru @_rubygranger shares with us with her TOP 5 videos on finding perseverance and determination…

The Top 5… Videos on Determination

  1. Scott Geller, a professor at Virginia Tech and a leading psychology scholar, tells us how we can become self-motivated:

  2. The School of Life shares a short Lego stop motion insisting the importance of perseverance:

  3. In this infamous speech at Harvard University, J.K. Rowling shares her rejection experiences when trying to publish Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:

  4. This heartwarming animated short film might only show the continued determination of a puppy, but maybe we can all learn a little something from this dog...:

  5. Luca Fagotti, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy, speaks out about the importance of determination in pursuing our goals at a TEDX Youth event:

You get more of Ruby’s tips and insights by subscribing to her YouTube channel, or by following her on Instagram: @_rubygranger

Naomi Bacon
Into the wild…,well, sort of…

Hello you lovely lot,

And we’re back from our mammoth coast-to-coast road trip of Canada!  Apologies if we saturated your Instagram with yet another photo of a mountain or lake, but Canada for us was much more than just a holiday.

Back in December last year when we booked our first flight, I, (Helena), initially thought of our trip as a big adventure to look forward to, and honestly speaking, an escape from a very stressful and unforgiving job that was no longer bringing me any joy.  However, thankfully, it soon marked of the beginning of the next chapter, when I decided to hand in my notice in April. For Naomi, it was a reclamation of time lost last summer, when she had to deal with a serious family crisis on our return from Obonjan festival in Croatia. Inevitably, Naomi was anxious about leaving her family for four weeks, in fear of what she might be coming back to, with other previous holidays unfortunately cementing this worry.  So, for her, Canada was a big deal. We were counting down the days, and with me leaving my job only a few days before we were due to fly, and Naomi facing another critical family emergency with her father being admitted to hospital a week before our departure, - which led to her debating whether she could even go on the trip -,  we were totally exhausted by the time we got on the plane.

  Naomi enjoying a lobster roll in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Naomi enjoying a lobster roll in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Up and away!

Tired, but relieved and excited to be on our way, we faced our first hurdle on arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where our connecting flight to St John’s was cancelled at the last minute.  

Though only a minor set-back, this had a knock-on effect on our carefully-planned itinerary, (of course, there was a spreadsheet!), as we only had 2-3 days in each place, and this meant we would lose a day in Newfoundland.  

Normally, this would be incredibly frustrating for two control freaks like us, but determined to not let anything put a dampener on our adventure, we preceded to sweet-talk the airline into putting us up in a hotel downtown, and made the most of our evening in Halifax, eating lobster rolls after a stroll along the boardwalk.

  Descent into Quidi Vidi Village, St John’s, Newfoundland

Descent into Quidi Vidi Village, St John’s, Newfoundland

Finding inspiration

Arriving in St John’s the next day, we happened to be visiting on the one night of the year when it goes party-mad for the George Street festival, so we headed into the throng. Within seconds of stepping into an Irish pub, we were greeted by a very charming and confident Canadian who hugged us hello and insisted on buying us drinks.  His name was Chris and he had hitch-hiked all the way from Calgary, Alberta to Newfoundland, which had taken 18 days. His best friend was there, as she had told him that she would fly out to buy him dinner if he managed to make it to St John’s.

However, the most impressive thing about Chris is that he was born without arms and legs.  

Having worn prosthetics for years, he had decided that it wasn’t for him and, instead, he gets around on a skateboard. Never had we met someone so comfortable in their own skin, and un-phased by their physical disability, choosing instead to live his life to the full, and to respond to the inevitable stares with a smile and a wicked sense of humour.  Chris has made a name for himself across Canada, and is a motivational speaker and mentor for child amputees, in addition to climbing mountains and doing marathons!

It felt serendipitous meeting Chris at the beginning of our big adventure. Speaking to Chris reminded us that this experience would be what we made it, and not to let limiting fears or insecurities prevent us from making the most of our trip.  

You can follow Chris’ endeavours, on youtube and Instagram: @ifican.chriskoch

  “Bertha, The Beast” - On the way to Prince Edward Island

“Bertha, The Beast” - On the way to Prince Edward Island

Taking on new challenges  

Back in Halifax, we picked up the rental car which would take us all the way to Toronto, via Prince Edward Island - Quebec City - Montreal  and Ottowa. To my horror, our hire car was essentially the size of a small minibus. Having not driven in years, let alone on the other side of the road, in an automatic car, I raced back to the desk demanding an exchange for a smaller vehicle, but to no avail. Thankfully, Naomi took the helm that day, mastering the roads instantly, to my equal relief and dismay. Whilst it was tempting to let someone else do the driving, I could not let my friend do the whole 2000km stint on her own. So, facing the, (literal), beast head on, I insisted on driving us to Peggy’s Cove the next morning, despite the rainy and misty conditions.  After feeling shaky, and couple of attempts to drive on the wrong side of the road (!), I made friends with Bertha, (the nickname for our vessel), and even began to look forward to my stints of driving.

Having never thought I’d even pass my driving test five years ago, I feel incredibly proud that, together, we took on the challenge of driving across Canada, braving unknown territory, from the crazy Quebecois drivers, to grizzlies on the Dempster Highway.  It’s no surprise that we got nicknamed Thelma and Louise by the odd over-friendly trucker.

  Pre zip line! Montmorency Falls, Quebec

Pre zip line! Montmorency Falls, Quebec

Feeling the fear, and doing it anyway!

Later that week, on the way to Montreal from Quebec City, we made a morning pitstop at Montmorency Falls, which are famed for being taller than Niagara Falls. Oh, and there’s a double zip line running right across them.  Of course, Naomi announced on arrival that she would be doing the zip line. My initial gut reaction was, “absolutely not”, however I then spent the rest of the morning torn between curious excitement and dread. Finally, after seeing a little boy and his grandma take on the challenge, and very aware of the need to practice what I preach, I decided I couldn’t refuse.  Naturally, I bloody loved it, and wanted to it all over again. This made me realise how easy it can be to let opportunities pass when you let the scared voice in your head take over, and that, sometimes, the things that scare us are not that frightening at all in reality, and may even give us a thrill!

  Power-posing in Banff, Alberta

Power-posing in Banff, Alberta

So close to “finding ourselves”…

Naomi and I have spoken about what we will be taking away from this trip. For me, it was embracing the friendly and open Canadian culture, and making the time to have conversations with people who would approach us at gas stations, coffee shops, in taxis and restaurants, on ferries... the list goes on.  I have never experienced anything like this in London, and it took some getting used to. However, I really appreciated being offered a small insight into the lives of all the people we met, even though I knew I would probably never see them again, and you never know what might come out of a conversation - all the tips we received from interested people meant we got to experience each place we visited to the full!

  Road-side selfie, Five-Finger Rapids, Yukon Territory

Road-side selfie, Five-Finger Rapids, Yukon Territory

Unfortunately, half-way through the trip, Naomi received some bad news from back home, awakening her fears that things would be falling apart without her there to hold them together.  

The challenge she faced was recognising that she can’t always fix a situation, especially when physical distance is involved. Allowing herself a morning of feeling sad, she picked herself back up, and, taking inspiration from Chris, was determined to make the most of the precious time we had, and enjoy the rest of the holiday.

Naomi said that, for her, the Yukon was an immensely restorative place that encouraged a quieting of the mind and the capacity to breathe deeply.  Feeling so small amidst the great expanse of wilderness and breathtaking views was strangely comforting. Nearing the end of our trip, we’d become so relaxed, our brains, for once, not buzzing with to-do lists or future plans, the only thought being “What shall we have for lunch?”.


We both realise now that acknowledging how important the trip was for the both of us at the start was what made it such a good experience. For once, we didn’t struggle with holiday blues at the end of the holiday, as we knew that we had made the most of every day, and that every minute had mattered.  Of course, there were anxious days, but treating the holiday as an act of self care meant that we were determined not to let any setbacks, bad news, worries or insecurities taint our experience.  This is now something that we can add to our ‘positive playlist’, and have a whole catalogue of incredible memories that we can call upon when we are in need of an uplift!

We are also have a sense of pride in planning every step of such a huge trip, and taking on the challenging journey, and physical distance involved within a relatively short space of time, as two single young women! #Girlpower.

We hope you enjoyed our holiday monologues!!

H & N xxx

P.S. Let us know if you’re planning or dreaming about your next big trip - we’d love to hear about it!!

  Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Naomi Bacon

Born For This: How to Find the Work that You Were Meant to Do

Chris Guillebeau

There is one book that I can pinpoint as instrumental in giving me the confidence to quit my job 2 years ago. It is the book that I lend or recommend on a regular basis. I have multiple copies, keeping them in reserve to gift to friends who are in the throes of a career change and in need of a little courage. And I’ve reread it four times. Born For This by Chris Guillebeau absolutely changed my mindset, which in turn enabled me to change my life.


A practical guide to self-styling your own career, be it striking out on your own and turning a passion project into a profitable business or by hacking a humdrum job into a role that you love.  



Where do I start? I’m looking through my battered old copy and practically every page is dog-eared. But I think perhaps the most impressive element of the book is that it’s action-orientated, and provides you with ideas that you can immediately implement.

There are a number of quizzes to guide your thinking beyond the parameters that you might find yourself currently confined to, considering elements such as: what are the working conditions you need to be happy? And what’s your optimum combination of joy, money, and flow? (Flow is the condition of getting lost in a task, of losing track of time, because you’re doing something that comes naturally. Something we often forget about). Chris advises you to create a future CV, asking yourself what skills, experiences, and job titles would you want to see on there? And what would the first step be to getting there? Or, do you have an interview for your dream role? Chris equips you with clever questions to ask your interviewer.  If you’re ready to take the leap to do something different, but have no clue where to start, then there’s a brilliant quiz on the accompanying site.

It’s not only Chris’ experiences outlined in the book; he uses countless case studies to reinforce his ideas and ethos. For example, the story of the personal trainer who wanted to add yoga to his repertoire. Lacking the time to do a 200-hour course, instead he watched every yoga DVD he could get his hands on over the course of a week. He then threw himself into teaching. Years later, he has won awards and now trains other aspiring teachers himself.


Zero. I’m a total fan girl.


Chris is big advocate of the side-hustle: a micro-business, he says, can help you to make more money, and offers a creative outlet to explore other interests, alongside your day job. You also never know what might become of your side-hustle. COR, of course, began as a fun project; never did we imagine that Helena would leave her job to manage the partnership full time! So, what would your side-hustle be? Would you sell something or provide a service or consultancy of some sort? Chris even provides a 19-day timeline to launching your micro business, so if there’s an idea you’ve been sitting on, why not follow this framework and give it a shot? For inspiration, buy his latest book Side Hustle School or listen to his podcast of the same name.

Or perhaps you’re ready to go full time self-employed? If that’s the case, Chris says that there’s four areas to consider. Firstly, improve your skills, both soft skills and the more technical. Upskill yourself regularly. Why not set aside £50 and challenge yourself to do several courses on a training platform such as Udemy? Secondly, strengthen connections. Network and meet people wherever you can; mention what you do, your side hustle, your ambitions, and you never know what serendipitous connections might arise. Also, don’t be nervous to approach people. Everyone I’ve ever asked to meet me for career advice and a coffee has said yes. Even Chris Guillebeau himself! Finally, experiment by trying new things and exposing yourself to new ideas, and say yes to opportunities that come your way.

And why stop there when you can have lots of different careers at the same time? Workshifting is where “you navigate multiple projects and interests by focusing fully on something for a while, and shifting to focus fully on something else”. This might be time-based, spending a day on one project, the next on another; or changing project hour by hour. Alternatively, Chris references the story of an owner of a landscaping business in Canada. In spring, summer and autumn he had plenty of business, but come winter his work slowed to a halt. Fortunately, he had a side hustle: he spent the summer months writing screenplays!


Before you begin re-creating your career, make a list of all the things that you do well. These could be the skills you acquired throughout your education, things you’ve picked up from a parent or role model, capabilities you’ve mastered throughout the course of your career to date, or even skills you’ve obtained on your own by reading or taking classes. Following on from this, write down a couple of things that you’re not good at or hate doing. Address the areas you might need to seek help in. For example, I’m not confident with numbers so I’m happy to take the hit financially to have an accountant; this also saves me a great deal of time and worry.

Identify the hazards of going at it alone. List everything that could go wrong and in many cases you’ll realise that your worries aren’t life-threatening and are in fact irrational.

If you want to get out of your current job situation, have a D-day. Put pressure on yourself to follow through by marking the day you plan to hand in your notice in your diary.


“Sometimes the job you want doesn’t exist - and usually when that happens it’s because you don’t actually want a job, you want full control of your income and career. Many people who work for themselves believe this is actually the safest and most secure career path.” 

Chapter 8, Build a Small Empire

“Somewhere along the way, you were given some terrible advice: you have to choose a niche. You can safely place this advice in the paper shredder underneath your desk. There may come a time in your career when you need (and want) to focus on one thing, but until it arrives, you can craft the work you were meant to do around all your passions and interests.”  

Chapter 12, How to Do Everything You Want


I guess, above all, Born For This teaches you that there isn’t only one way to work. Chris gives you an entire menu of options. At the end of the day, it’s our assumptions and fears that keep us locked in a career that ultimately makes us unhappy.

My life has changed dramatically since working for myself and on my own terms: being able to take time off when I need to has meant my anxiety levels have dropped and my productivity has shot up. I never work on Mondays - it's my day of self-care and I tend to spend the day at the climbing wall. I work the times that I know I work best (I’m a 5am freak!), and use the afternoons for meetings or reading. I work from cafes around where I live, working on one project here and another there, using the different spaces to influence my focus. It's also allowed me to build relationships with local members of the community resulting in many partnerships and new business.

COR wouldn’t be around if we hadn’t had the courage to just go for it and do something we love on the side. And I’m so glad we did. For me, being able to shift between the two jobs has contributed greatly to my work happiness and flow as each brings its own rewards and lessons. I refuse to choose one career. I'm the busiest I've ever been but every minute feels like my own.

So welcome to the world of self-employment, Helena. I, for one, categorically believe you were born to do this.

Lots of love, N x

A short story for you...

If you don't yet subscribe to our newsletter, you will have missed Naomi's personal story of an eventful Tuesday that she had a few weeks ago. Her experience that day led her to reflect on compassion - for others and for ourselves - something that is incredibly important to all of our work with COR. We didn't want you to miss out, so thought we'd share the story here as well.

We hope you enjoy reading and find some time today to show yourself, or someone else, a moment of compassion. 

A, H and N xxx


As I’m sure many of us did, I woke up on Tuesday consumed with anxiety at the prospect of the workload I needed to tackle after the long weekend. I tend to hotdesk at the same café every day, but, for no particular reason, I decided to go to a different café. I managed ten minutes of emails before a woman in her late fifties came in and sat at the table next to me. Let's call her L. She was crying uncontrollably and wringing her hands, hunched over and shaking, and clearly very distressed.

I looked around the café but every person was making a conscious effort to ignore her. I bought her a coffee, gave her a pack of tissues, and then plugged my earphones in again and went back to my emails. But I couldn’t shift the feeling that I should talk to her.

Eventually, I told myself that work could wait and I went and sat beside her. I asked, ‘Is there anything I can do?’, to which she replied, ‘I don’t think I’m very well’. I asked if she suffered with depression. She nodded.

We talked for an hour, about her childhood in the care of her grandparents in Trinidad; her confusion at coming to London, having not seen her parents for years; her complex familial relationships; her frustration at being made redundant from the charity she’d worked at for a decade; and her sorrow at never having met a soulmate to have children with. It was easy to trace the trajectory of her descent into the dark world of depression and isolation.

She couldn’t remember the name of her doctor’s surgery so I called all of the practices in the area to see if they had her on their system. When I finally found the right one, I took a taxi there with her, and I agreed to accompany her to see the doctor. Finally, leaving her in their hands, I said goodbye and gave her a hug, told her it had been a pleasure to spend time with her, and that she’d been so brave asking me for help.

Back at my laptop that afternoon, all my anxiety had dissipated. The surreal experience of that morning, being privy to a stranger’s pain and hearing her deeply personal story, gave me huge perspective and made my own insecurities and worries seem so small and totally manageable. I did, however, feel a surge of other emotions: I felt angry at the people around me for feigning ignorance, I felt sad that the mental health services are so screwed, allowing people like L to slip through the system. And I felt absolutely honoured to have heard L’s story.

L is articulate, erudite and elegant; she reads three papers a day, loves books of all genres, and once owned a white cat called Winston. In the three hours I spent with her, she made me laugh and cry. She is also extremely lonely and very unwell. Storytelling is a way of giving language to vulnerability, and that is exactly what L did by sharing her story with me.

I have encountered many people like L and I have learnt something from all of them. There was T, the 60-year old ex-boxer who’d lost most of his teeth, didn’t drink or use as one might assume, but, after a stint in prison, had struggled to re-integrate into society and lived on the street or in hostels. He told me that life is all about connection and that he still tries to smile at people and say hello every day, even though most of the time they pretend he’s invisible.

And M, the tiny old lady from the park, who sat on the same bench every day last summer, and who always remembered my dogs’ names but never mine. M, who I sat with for two hours whilst she told me about her life - racked with abuse and battles with mental health – and how she had gained a degree in psychology, aged 50. She gifted me a book on Transactional Analysis, having underlined key paragraphs for me.

At 17, my best friend had a psychotic episode and she has suffered ever since, yet she still has a sunny disposition and a zest for life. And finally, there’s my Mum. She is kind and gentle, highly intelligent, quiet, caring and creative. She is also bi-polar. And the look in L’s eyes, I have seen in the eyes of my dear Mum many a time. And that is perhaps why I offered L a helping hand, because I desperately hope someone would do the same for my Mum.

So perhaps next time you see someone in distress, don’t submit to bystander bias. Do something, however small. Next time you pass a homeless person, please don’t ignore them. Look them in the eye and acknowledge them. And if you encounter someone seemingly unstable, ask yourself whether they have a story. And ultimately, through imparting compassion to others, you might just learn to give a little compassion to yourself.

Lots of love,
N x


Everyday we engage with those around us on a surface level, never really connecting. It is commonplace to stand silently in a lift; to have earphones in and eyes to the pavement when walking; and to be glued to a phone whilst on the tube. But what would happen if we were to share the personal - and painful - parts of ourselves? Find out in these 5 inspiring videos on vulnerability, compassion, and storytelling.  

  • ‘The power of vulnerability’, by Brené Brown - one of COR’s favourites, Brené Brown, an academic and researcher into human connection, shares her insights into vulnerability, and explains how this can strengthen human relationships.

  • ‘Living beyond limits’, by Amy Purdy - In 2011, Amy Purdy made herself totally vulnerable in front of a TED audience by sharing her own highly emotive account of recovery from a life-changing accident.  Reflecting on her talk, in her own words, - “I'd delivered a speech made perfect by its imperfections.”

  • Vulnerability as a key to confidence. A story of resilience’, by Imad Elabdala.  Imad, a social entrepreneur and Syrian refugee, shares his own story from growing up in Syria, to his lived experience of conflict and fear, and of life as a refugee.  He exposes his own struggles with mental health, having suffered from anxiety attacks induced by post-traumatic stress disorder, and his journey towards finding strength and confidence in vulnerability. Imad’s experience led him to set up an organisation which combines storytelling with science and art to help refugee children cope with trauma and to find courage in vulnerability.

  • ‘Why aren’t we all good Samaritans?’, by Daniel Goleman.  Author and science journalist, and expert on Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, explores why, as human beings, we sometimes shy away from compassion and empathy.

  • ‘Trust, morality - and oxytocin’, by Paul Zak - Neuroeconomist, Paul Zak, delves into the science behind human trust and morality, and why we behave the way we do in response to certain stimuli or situations.  He demonstrates the impact of compassionate storytelling on the human brain, through its connection to the hormone, oxytocin, which is linked to feelings of empathy and trust.

Top 5...Independent Bookshops in London

Did you know that COR Collective came together because Naomi set up a book club? Helena and Naomi have been friends for many years, but it was through a shared love of books that I first met the girls and a few years later, COR was created. We are all bookworms, constantly swapping recommendations of our latest favourite page-turner and hunting for new reads to review for our followers. Bookshops are my happy place, and independent bookshops will always feel more special somehow. See below for my top spots to lose a few hours searching for your next must read...

  • STOKE NEWINGTON BOOKSHOP A haven on the bustling high street in North East London with a wide range of new releases and classics and my firm favourite from my North London days. The perfect spot to escape the traffic and get lost in choosing your next read. It's also just around the corner from Church Street with its many cafes and bars, so once you have made your decision, you can find a corner, order a coffee and get stuck in to your new read! 

  • CHENER BOOKS An East Dulwich stalwart, this is a cosy shop packed from floor to ceiling with books.  A quiet atmosphere, perfect for a long browse and a careful choice. Situated on Lordship Lane, in the summer months you can pick up a book, take a short walk to Peckham Rye or Dulwich Park, find a sunny spot and get reading.

  • LIBRERIA  Designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, and located in trendy Spitalfields, Libreria is the place to visit to find a book you never knew you needed. Enter with an open mind, browse the shelves which are arranged by broad themes (such as Wanderlust) and leave with something unexpected. 

  • LONDON REVIEW BOOKSHOP Books and cake - what more could you want? A stone's throw away from the British Library in Central London, this is a seriously good bookshop with a seriously good cafe attached to it. With a packed calendar of literary events, this bookshop is the gift that keeps on giving. 

  • PERSEPHONE BOOKS A bookshop run by publishing house Persephone books, who print 'neglected' works by (mainly) women writers. Located near Russell Square, this is where to head when you want to celebrate women writers and discover a work you may never have heard of. The books are beautifully presented and printed - the perfect gifts. 

Happy reading! 

Love A xxx


The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life

A. C. Grayling


Philosopher, academic, literary journalist and broadcaster A. C. Grayling, breaks down some of life's challenging topics, such as courage, sorrow, love, death, hope, betrayal and blame, into bite size chapters and offers some accessible philosophical ideas to help us think about life and what it means. 



This is a small book that is full to the brim with big ideas. Grayling has collated 'sketch maps' on some of life's more challenging subjects and offers succinct, yet thought provoking discussions on each. They began their life as contributions in the Guardian newspaper's Saturday Review, which may give you a sense of their length and readability.

This book isn't designed to be read in one go, each essay is self contained and stand alone and this is one of my favourite things about it. It was easy to pick up, flick through, pausing on a topic that caught my eye on any given day. The essays are categorised into three parts; Grayling points you in the direction of 'Virtues and Attributes', 'Foes and Fallacies' or 'Amenities and Goods'.  Some 'sketch maps' naturally lead you to another - love and hate, betrayal and loyalty - but reading one a day and then giving myself time to really think about what I had just read became an enjoyable bedtime routine. 

Although the topics in this book may seem dense at first glance, I felt able to access philosophical ideas that I would normally have run a mile from. Each essay begins with a fantastic quote which was enough to get my brain whirring. A brilliant way to dip your toe into some big thinking!


Despite it's accessibility, this is still a book about the meaning of life. Some days my brain was just a bit too tired to contemplate capitalism, privacy or death!


Read this if you are in the mood to be challenged, to ponder on some more tricky areas of life or to simply read the thoughts of an incredibly intelligent man. How you engage with this book is entirely up to you, but I would recommend setting aside half an hour, making a cup of tea, reading an essay and then sitting back and having a think. 


This book taught me not to be afraid of difficult thoughts, conversations or debates. To embrace these knotty elements of life and to challenge myself to challenge myself. It can be easy to want to stay in a 'safe place' where everything feels simple, and it can take great courage to step outside of our comfort zone, but that is where we can do some of our best learning. 


'...courage can only be felt by those who are afraid. If a man is truly fearless as he leaps over the enemy parapet or hurls himself into a rugby tackle, he is not courageous.'

p. 22, 'Courage'

“Defeat is always an opportunity...nothing happens without a lesson to offer, or without opening other routes into the future.”

p. 25, 'Defeat'  

"Hope is a virtue independently of its realisations; it is an intrinsic value, an end in itself, allied to courage and imagination, an attitude full of possibility and aspiration. For that reason you discover more about a person when you learn about his hopes than when you count his achievements , for the best of what we are lies in what we hope to be.”

p. 36, 'Hope' 




For me to try and summarise key lessons seems to go against the spirit of this book. My advice? Pick up a copy, read, think and decide for yourself. 

Lots of love, A x

Top 5...Freelancer Work Spots in London

Sometimes finding the perfect working environment seems impossible for us freelancers. There are too many distractions at home (Ru Paul's Drag Race anyone?), the local cafe tuts every time you take out your laptop, and you can't blag your way into a university library anymore. COR Collective feel your pain, and to help, we've gathered our Top 5 freelancer work spots in London. See below for our tried and tested favourites. 

  • CANOVA HALL Located in the heart of Brixton, Canova Hall is perfect if you like a lively atmosphere where you will be left alone to work. Freelancer day rates are available with tea, coffee and fast WiFi included, meaning that you can stay all day guilt-free. Spot Naomi working from here most weekdays.

  • PICTUREHOUSE CENTRAL Finding a good spot to work in central London can be a nightmare, so we suggest heading to the bar at Picturehouse Central. Located next to Piccadilly Circus, you will find yourself working alongside creatives, media types and film-goers. Not for those who like to work in silence; there is always a good buzz. Relaxed, great coffee, and the sweet potato fries are to die for.

  • OLIVIER CAFE @ NATIONAL THEATRE A cultural hub with comfy seating, a delightful bookshop and a prime Southbank location. The downstairs cafe at the National Theatre has plenty of room with long sharing tables that fill up with freelancers. Quieter in the daytime, unless it's matinee day; this is a brilliant spot to get stuck into a good book or to meet someone for a casual business coffee. Why not pop to see a play whilst you're there?

  • LOUNGE Another Brixton favourite (can you tell we all live south of the river?) and somewhere where COR can regularly be found having a planning session or catch up. Cosy, friendly and offering delicious food and coffee, this is the perfect spot to get your head down, tick some items off the to do-list, and then indulge in some people watching. 

  • READING ROOM @ WELLCOME COLLECTION If you are looking for some peace and quiet for maximum focus and big thinking, then this is the spot for you. Located in the fascinating Wellcome Collection building on Euston Road, this is where you will find Alice slouched on a beanbag on the grand staircase, nose stuck in a book. With desks, armchairs and even Freud's couch, (hidden upstairs amongst the books), you'll never want to leave. 

Happy working! 

Love A and N xxx