REAL Recommendations

Reading, Enjoying And Learning

These are some books, podcasts and other resources which have changed my life, plus some local delights on offer near Soham, Cambridgeshire. I would love to share them with you and I would love to hear from you if you find any of them useful. This page is a work in progress, I will keep adding to it over time so keep checking back.

Local Delights

  • Big Little Yogis: a wonderful yoga session for little ones and their grown ups, in Soham. We love it and we love Kim who runs it! She's always so kind, joyful and accepting of whatever we or our children bring to the session, she's an intuitive teacher who will adapt the session to the children who come. You don't need to have prior yoga experience or be flexible and your little one doesn't need to be able to follow instructions, Kim is so friendly and enthralling, they will love her! Check out the Big little Yogis Facebook page for more details and you can also find out more on their new webpage, hosted on this very website!

  • Yoga Studio Ely: I love the yoga classes at Yoga Studio Ely (which is actually in Little Downham). They include traditional yoga practices of chanting and meditation in addition to the movement that we all expect when we think of yoga, which really deepens the practice and gives you the opportunity to nourish the soul. The teachers are knowledgeable and kind and I always feel so replenished after going there. I usually go to Jo's Saturday morning class but I've loved every teachers' varying styles there. See their website for more details.

  • Wild Swimming: A friendly local group of wild swimmers can be found at the River Lark at Prickwillow and the River Cam at Upware on a regular basis. To join us, look for Ely Swimmers on facebook. If you don't have facebook, feel free to ask me for info, but the swims are usually organised in the fb group.


Many of these are available to borrow from me through the REAL Circles Library

The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle by Drs Amelia and Emily Nagoski

Did you know that your stress response is separate to the stressor (the thing that is causing the stress)? This book explains what that means and gives you ways to 'complete the stress cycle' so that you can let go of the stress even when the stressor is still present. Honestly the information contained is SO useful and, frankly, life changing. It's for every woman who can sometimes feel overwhelmed or exhausted, which - surely - must be all of us! Here's a link to my social media post on facebook/instagram about completing the stress response cycle.

I read this after listening (three times!) to the authors being interviewed about the book on Brené Brown's podcast, Unlocking Us, episode entitled Burnout, click here to listen. In the podcast they explain the different ways to complete the stress response cycle so it's a life changing listen even without reading the book!

You can borrow the book from Cambridgeshire libraries, download it as an ebook (I just bought it on Kindle for £1.99) or buy it here.

Wild Power
by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer

This was the first book I read about Menstrual Cycle Awareness (MCA). It was eye opening and massively helpful in explaining the different energies that I felt at different times of my cycle. It introduces the idea of the Inner Seasons, with Winter during your period, Spring the week after (roughly), Summer around the time of ovulation and then Autumn in the pre-menstrual phase. I loved it, though it was quite a lot to take it so I read it over quite a few months.

The practice of MCA has been an incredible journey in understanding myself better. It helps me to manage my energies throughout the month and I take it into account as much as possible. For more detail, see my page on Cycle Awareness, coming soon.

Period Power
by Maisie Hill

This is the second book I read about MCA and it was absolutely brilliant. It draws on the wisdom of Wild Power and the author refers to it in her book. It adds to the work of Wild Power by giving you the information about what's going on with your hormones throughout your cycle. I find that understanding the hormones really helps me to 'get' what's going on with me at different times of the month. It also has a whole section on troubleshooting when your cycle is outside the normal experience, including PCOS, amenorrhoea, heavy periods, etc. and what you can do about that. She is a holistic practitioner, including conventional medicine and alternative therapies in her suggestions, as well as lots of insight into how various foods and nutrition can help your cycle. She also talks about the importance of rest, self-care and sleep which are themes that I'm really appreciating the importance of and embracing!

Move Your DNA
by Katy Bowman

This book explains why natural movement is so important for our bodies. Not exercise, but movement. Exercise is a really small subset of movement, but Katy encourages us to move more AND move more of ourselves. She talks about our sedentary lifestyles and how we can adjust what we do in order to get more movement into our lives. She is a biomechanist and comes from it all from a scientific angle with really clear explanations of what's going on in our bodies when we move and what happens when we don't. As a result, I've changed what I wear (barefoot shoes and stretchy clothes), where I sit (often on the floor or on a yoga ball) and how our furniture is laid out (low down table in the kitchen so we can get down to the floor regularly, plus a furniture free room so we always have space to do yoga). Definitely life-changing information. She also has a really easy-to-listen-to podcast which I will link below.

The Swan-Bone Flute
by Rachel O'Leary

An amazing fiction book by a wonderful woman called Rachel who I am honoured to call my friend. This book kept me up until the early hours as I couldn't put it down. The first chapter is busy with people you must get to know, so it's much easier to read once you get past that. The rest of the book will reward you greatly!

Here's the review I wrote for it after I read it:
What an amazing book. It is a gripping tale, stuffed full of wisdom that I am going to be pondering over for a very long time. The characters are brilliant and I love how we see them grow in confidence and empower each other. I loved the way that lessons in emotional intelligence, our relationship with nature and natural fertility are woven into the story, hopefully creating sparks of interest to follow up on (if you weren't already interested). I spent many nights up way too late as I just wanted to keep reading. I want all my close friends to read it so that I can talk about the important themes with them and share our ideas and reflections together to inform and influence our own lives. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with us, Rachel. I am deeply grateful that you have created this and that I got to read it. I am eager to read the next book in the trilogy!"

by Glennon Doyle

This book is a story of a woman waking up to her true self and learning to listen to, and follow, her intuition (what Glennon calls her Knowing). It is a story of noticing the cages in which we are living - societal expectations, cultural conditioning - and realising that we get to choose which ones feel right for us and which ones need breaking open. It is FULL of revelations and clarity and challenging ideas and humour and love. It is a love story. It is true and beautiful. It is brilliant.

Glennon talks about integrity meaning living from the inside out, so your outward actions reflect your inner knowing.

I also love her words on motherhood... how we are not meant to be martyrs, giving up our lives for our families. We are meant to be role models, showing our children how to be truly alive.

I love the way it's written too, a series of snippets from her life, a succession of poignant events that demonstrate her revelations. She is a master of the analogy, the metaphor, a fantastic storyteller.

I hope loads of you read it because I want to chat about it!

Just Eat It
by Laura Thomas PhD

Food. It can feel complicated can't it? We need food to stay alive, yet our relationship with it can be difficult. This book is about learning to trust your body and listen to what it needs. Rather than following sets of rules, you can get in touch with what your body is asking for, through the concept of Intuitive Eating.

Here's an explanation from

"Intuitive Eating is a series of tools and skills to help you move away from rigid external rules, and learn to eat according to your body’s natural appetite and physiological cues. It’s an approach developed by dietitians which has been shown to help improve body appreciation and satisfaction, attunement to internal cues like hunger and fullness, psychological flexibility (no more black + white thinking), self-regard and optimism, exercising for enjoyment and dietary variety. It can also help improve physiological markers of health like blood glucose control, cholesterol and blood pressure. Finally, it has been shown to reduce the binge/restrict cycle and help people move away from diets."

The facebook group Intuitive Eating for Beginners is really informative and supportive too (

The book includes plenty of profanities so if that's not for you, you might prefer this book:

Come as you are
(the surprising new science that will transform your sex life)
By Emily Nagoski, PhD

This book is rooted in research and contains SO much incredibly valuable information about the human experience and the effect it can have on our desire. It lays out a concept of 'accelerator' and 'brakes' in regards to our desire, which explains why we're just not in the mood when we're stressed or sleep deprived. If you've ever wondered if you're normal, this book will be massively reassuring as it's main aim is to show you that you are! It also has brilliant advice for reducing stress (see the Burnout book by the same author for more on that), feeling your feelings and being aware of meta-emotions (i.e. feelings about feelings), such as feeling broken for not wanting sex more often. This book has been an eye opener and is a great talking point in a relationship too so that you can both understand yourselves and each other better, leading to more emotional intimacy which often leads to... you guessed it... better connection (sexual or otherwise!). It's aimed at women but my husband found it really interesting and super helpful to be aware of the information within it too.

Here's a link to the book online.


Unlocking Us Podcast by Brene Brown

I am a huge fan of Brené Brown's podcast, there are so many nuggets of wisdom. Her podcasts are usually a conversation with a well-chosen guest and I learn something from every one. Some of them have been so powerful I've had to listen multiple times and write down what it said! Here's a link to the podcast area of her website, you can find the podcast on Spotify. She is a researcher and has done a huge amount of work researching courage, leadership, shame, vulnerability and her insights are incredible. I learn so much from her and find her really easy to listen to as she's so personable.

Move Your DNA
by Katy Bowman

Here's a link to Katy's podcast all about movement (see book section above to find out more) and movement ecology. It's a fascinating and amusing listen that changes in style over the course of the podcast. It starts off in the earlier episodes as a conversation between Katy and Dani, then in the later podcasts Katy takes the reins, often interviewing others in the field too.

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

Here's a link.

Nonviolent communication is a way of really connecting with people, really listening to what is alive in them and expressing what is really alive in you, so that you can try to make their life and your own life more wonderful.

I have listened to nine episodes of this podcast so far (I'm starting at the beginning) and it's already a game changer. I've had training in communication skills through my volunteering role as a breastfeeding counsellor so the concept is not brand new to me, but there are still some amazing revelations within these episodes. It is an audio archive of Marshal Rosenberg's work, starting with a training course which has been illuminating.

We Can Do Hard Things podcast by Glennon Doyle

After reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle, I was delighted to hear she was about to start a podcast. It's a glorious conversation between Glennon, her sister Amanda, her wife Abby and, more recently, special guests (and they are seriously well chosen!). They don't claim to know the answers, they often tell you they'll answer your question with more questions, but they make us all feel a little bit more able to keep doing the right hard things and to ditch the wrong hard things. Love it.

Where should we begin? With Esther Perel

I am loving listening to the very talented therapist, Esther Perel, in this podcast where you hear a one-off counselling session for couples. Esther guides them to get to the heart of what's going on, she gives them space and permission to feel it all and helps them to communicate more effectively with each other in order to aid their connection. Fascinating stuff!


TEDx talk (19 mins) by Dr Kristin Neff called "The space between self-esteem and self-compassion"

This video explains really well what self-compassion is and how it can really help us. I loved her description of self-esteem vs self-compassion. Also I loved her simple tip for practising more self-compassion, simply talk to yourself as though you were your own best friend. Listen to your thoughts and feelings, make time to tune into them (just as you would say to a friend "hey, what's wrong? I can see you're not ok") and then once you're aware of them it will be easier to give yourself the compassion that you need. You can find more videos and information by Dr Krisin Neff on her website:

Brené Brown on Empathy (2mins53s) with great animation

This brilliant talk and animation beautifully explains what empathy is and how it is different from sympathy. I first saw this during a communication skills development workshop in 2016 and it has stuck with me! 2 mins 53 seconds well spent!


Bullet Journaling


  • Yoga With Adriene on YouTube is a fantastic free resource to guide you on the mat in your own home. I did her 30 day yoga journey, Breath, in January 2021 and it really helped me to feel on an even-keel all month. She has playlists where you can find a length of practice that is right for you, or a practice on a theme that appeals. She also has a beginners playlist if you're new to yoga. Let me know if you give it a go!