Spark Escapes in the Media
Planet Mindful, April 2018
The Healing Powers of Forgiveness
True forgiveness is one of, if not the best way to heal after a negative experience and let go of debilitating feelings of upset, anger, bitterness, emotional pain or fear. So why do we not practice it more often? Forgiveness has always been part of our human society and is featured in multiple historic religious texts but many people do not realise its powerful healing powers for inner peace and personal growth.
Planet Mindful, January 2018
How I Made the Life I Wanted to Lead
I had an enviable life in London, by modern expectations. I owned an apartment, had a well paid job, a great network of friends, a busy social life, designer wardrobe. I really had nothing to complain about when I looked at what people around me were striving to achieve. At work, I spent 18 years building a career in media as a publisher working on high profile magazine brands. I worked hard, played hard. I was living the dream by a magazine’s standards.
In 2011, something in me started to change. It was gradual at first but then it became the first thing I thought about every morning and eventually all day. I realised that I was filling every minute of my time with activities, spending money, achieving ‘something’, being busy, following societal callings to do this and buy that. I was exhausted.
This thought process took place over a year or so. I knew I wanted to do something different and put it down to needing a career change. During this time, I investigated many options but nothing was standing out enough for me to pursue it.
The shift came when I saw a coach, Marietta Birkholtz, who I met at a career change workshop the year before. After one life-altering session, I handed in my resignation and planned a 9-month life sabbatical around Asia.
A new me started to surface
It was during that trip in 2013 that I first visited where I live now; a remote corner of Koh Phangan island in the Gulf of Thailand. Immediately the place filled me with a calmness and joy that I’d never felt before. I met people from all walks of life and all corners of the world and joined them in a variety of mindfulness and spiritual workshops. A new me started to surface and I felt at home with myself.
I returned to London and took some contract work in media and events for a while but I felt suppressed. I visited Koh Phangan for holidays when I could take time out but it just wasn’t enough. In 2015, I moved here for good.
Life now is very different
My days are slow and easy compared to London life. I live blissfully in a wooden house surrounded by palm trees and jungle with incredible views of the sea from my deck. The Thai and Western community here is small but consistently inspiring, supportive and friendly.
We have one very small basic shop, no ATM, newspapers or TV and transport to the island town is a longtail boat or, when it’s possible, a 4x4 truck which offroads over the jungle mountain. Electricity hasn’t reached this part of the island yet so we are powered by solar panels or small generators. However, there is an internet connection.
I re-designed my life to create an existence in an environment which allows me to be mindful in every action and interaction. I have the time and the space for gratitude and to appreciate everything and everyone I encounter.
I am the controller of my days
I retrained as a life coach and NLP practitioner and my work now is dedicated to helping others re-design their lives in many different ways. Not everyone wants to move overseas like I have but life re-design can be in the form of changing job, starting a small business, changing the way that you work, or even falling back in love with the life you already have.
The skills I learnt during my media career have helped me shape and market my business. I do everything myself, from web design to marketing and just use an accountant in the UK for tax purposes.
Obviously money is much tighter now, but I live cheaply and am not attached to material possessions or shopping anymore.
I am the controller of my days and work when I want, taking the time difference into consideration when scheduling sessions with clients outside of Thailand. I work between 10-20 hours a week.
My life re-design wasn’t an overnight process; it took time and courage to overcome fears and make changes. Originally, my friends and I joked that I was having my Eat, Pray, Love moment, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Five things I don’t miss about my old life
The volume of people and noise that is part of city life; when I visit London now I feel completely overwhelmed on a busy street
TV and newspapers with their repetitive, upsetting stories of violence and terror mixed with useless celebrity nonsense. I realise the news tells us what happens in the world yet I feel so much happier by not absorbing it so much anymore
My commute to the office which was two hours daily of torture on London transport. During my last few years in London, I walked to and from work when I could
Social expectations; if I don’t want to do something or be somewhere, I don’t feel guilty about saying no now
The British weather
Five things I love about my new life
A slower, more relaxed pace of life with no fixed schedule; some days I get up at 6am and go for a walk, other days I lay and read until 11am. I visit the beach nearly every day, I have new friends plus an amazing partner who I met here
The colours and sounds of nature; jungle life provides daily inspiration and joy
The new, happier me that has developed through having more time and space
A healthier lifestyle; I eat much more fresh fruit and vegetables, and less meat, alcohol and chocolate (although I still indulge). I also walk everywhere. My body is leaner and stronger and I rarely get ill
Tropical island weather and the subsequent suntan!
The Guardian UK and guardian.com, January 2016
Faith Hill, 37, gave up corporate life to set up wellbeing breaks
"I used to be a magazine publisher in London and busted a gut climbing up the career ladder. But I started to fall out of love with my work in 2009, so signed up for a two-day “Find Your Calling: course with life coach Marietta Birkholtz. Instead of identifying a new career path, I came up with the idea for my company, but it took me five years to kill off my fears and go for it.
I researched the field, talked to people about my idea and saved some money. This pot of cash has helped me live a holiday lifestyle while the company is in its infancy; I’ve given myself permission to expand it gradually instead of going full tilt to grow and earn fast. I wore myself out doing that for years for my old bosses, I don’t want to do it any more.
My company, Spark Escapes, organises inspirational events and workshops and provides uplifting, encouraging online content to help people quit boring jobs and live a life of passion and adventure, and I now run it from beaches around Asia.
Last year I trained as a neurolinguistic programming master practitioner, which cost about £4,000. I built my website myself and have taught myself some valuable design skills to save money. I took a part-time job for six months to keep me funded but allow me time to spend on my business. I’m really loving telling people I’m a digital nomad and finding so many others like me.
Now I’m living my dream lifestyle and often have to pinch myself. Asia is way cheaper than London so it’s perfect for my budget. I’ve just mooched around southern Goa for a month and I’m currently staying at my favourite place in Koh Phangan, Thailand. I have the cutest little bungalow in the jungle and meet incredible people passing through every day. Days consist of a bit of work, stimulating conversation, beach time, jungle walks, massages, dancing until dawn … and repeat. I will never look back and I will never complain!"
From City To Jungle: How I Moved My Remote Business
In 2012, I took the biggest leap of my life and quit a 15+ year career in media. London had provided me so with so many little pleasures during this time but I became jaded with corporate life and I longed for something different.
I still cannot believe I quit; I had an amazing job with one of the biggest UK magazines but something was missing and the urge for change was impossibly strong. I booked a one-way ticket to India – clearly, my Eat, Pray, Love moment – to see what was next for me.
How I overcame THE FEAR to quit my career and start a business
What happens when you fall out of love with your job, and have a desire to do something new? How do you leave behind the security of full time employment to start your own passion-based business?
After years of building up a successful career in the media, Faith Hill faced this very dilemma. She tells us how she finally found the courage to start Spark Escapes, how she bridged the gap between employment and entrepreneurship, and shares her five tips for leaving your job to go solo.
Driven Woman, October 2015
The Ups and Downs of Quitting the Rat Race
As a new (very) small business owner, I sometimes want to pinch myself because I’ve actually left the world of full time employment… and the world still turns! I started Spark Escapes earlier this year but the idea and dream have been with me since 2010, making my new reality even sweeter than I ever imagined.
However, getting to this place has been an emotional roller coaster with setbacks and risks. But let’s be honest, whose new business journey is a bed of roses all the way?
Woman&Home magazine, 2015