The federal appeals court is a complex and daunting arena for legal professionals. Navigating the intricate web of appeals requirements, understanding the intricacies of case law, and having the ability to think quickly and decisively in order to come up with the best arguments for your case can make the difference between success and failure. Many attorneys and legal professionals may find themselves overwhelmed by the numerous challenges that the federal appeals court presents. With that in mind, it is important to have a solid understanding of the strategies, tactics, and legal principles needed to succeed in the federal appeals court. In this blog post, we will explore some of the expert strategies and tips that experienced legal professionals use to win in the federal appeals court. From hiring expert federal appeals lawyers to careful case management, these strategies can help you build a solid foundation for success. We will also discuss how to create an effective strategy that will help your case stand out from the competition. With this information in hand, you can be more confident when it comes time to present your case before the court.

1. Hire an experienced appeals attorney

An experienced appeals attorney can provide invaluable advice about the structure of the court, the timelines for filing briefs and other documents, as well as the formalities of the court. An experienced appeals attorney also understands the nuances of the appellate process and will be better able to present your case effectively and efficiently. Having an experienced appeals attorney on your side can be the difference between success and failure in the appeals court. With their expertise, you are increasing your chance of getting the upper hand in the final outcome of your case.

2. Understand the appeals process

It is important to understand the appeals process when arguing your case in the Federal Appeals Court. Knowing the timeline and requirements of the process is essential to achieving success. The appeals process begins with the filing of a notice of appeal within 30 days of the district court’s judgment or order. Once the notice of appeal is filed, the appellate court will then consider the legal issues raised by the appellant and enter a ruling. Appellants should also be aware of the timelines for filing briefs and any additional documents, as well as the potential for oral arguments and en banc review. Understanding the appeals process is key to winning in the Federal Appeals Court.

3. Build a strong legal strategy

An effective legal strategy is essential to success in the federal appeals court. To build a strong legal strategy, you should first have a clear understanding of the relevant law and how it impacts the case. Use legal research tools to trace the history of the law and any recent changes. Then, evaluate the merits of the case and the likelihood of success on appeal. If necessary, consult with an experienced appeals attorney to develop a strategy that is appropriate for the unique facts of the case. Once you have developed an appropriate strategy, be sure to thoroughly document your reasoning. This will help you explain your legal strategy to the court and bolster your credibility as an expert.

4. Analyze the facts of the case

Next, it is important to analyze the facts of the case. In order to make an effective argument, it is necessary to understand the facts of the case and how the lower court decided. Careful analysis of the facts is essential for determining the applicable law and how it should be applied to the case. This step will also help you identify the applicable legal theories, arguments, and evidence that will be relevant to the appeal. Finally, it is important to consider the larger context of the case, including the facts and legal arguments of the other side, as well as any relevant precedent from other cases.

5. Consider the likelihood of success

Before heading into the federal appeals court, it is important to consider the likelihood of success. An attorney should review the facts of the case and the applicable law to determine the chances of winning the appeal. Researching past decisions from the court regarding similar issues is also a good way to gain insight into the court’s likely reaction to your case. Additionally, an attorney should consult with experts in the field of law to further understand the chances of success. Finally, attorneys should take into account the complexity of the law and the strength of their argument in order to accurately gauge their chances of success in the appeals court.

6. Prepare concise, persuasive briefs

In order to win a case in the federal appeals court, it is important to present a persuasive brief. The brief should be concise, clear, and persuasive. It should explain the facts of the case, the legal issues at hand, and the arguments in support of one’s position. The brief should follow a logical structure, beginning with a succinct introduction, followed by a well-crafted argument section and a conclusion. It should also provide citations to relevant case law and legal authority. Finally, the brief should be organized and free of errors, ensuring that it is well-structured and easy to read. With the help of an experienced attorney, one can craft a persuasive and compelling brief that will give them the best possible chance of success in the federal appeals court.

7. Present compelling oral arguments

One of the most important strategies for winning in the federal appeals court is to present compelling oral arguments. The attorney’s job is to explain a case in a way that is persuasive and logical. To do this effectively, the attorney should be well-prepared, confident, and on-point when delivering the argument. The attorney should also be aware of the facts of the case and make sure to cover all relevant points. Additionally, the attorney should be aware of any potential weaknesses in the case and be prepared to address those. The attorney should also be aware of the judge’s perspective and adjust the argument accordingly. Finally, the attorney should use language that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. If done correctly, a compelling oral argument can make the difference between winning and losing in the federal appeals court.

8. File timely motions

To succeed in the federal appeals court, filing timely motions is a critical component of any winning strategy. With the right approach, you can increase your chances of making a persuasive argument that will be heard by the court. Timely filing is essential since the court has strict deadlines for filing documents and motions. Attorneys must be mindful of these deadlines and file any necessary motions promptly in order to increase their chances of success. When filing motions, attorneys should also ensure that the motions include all the necessary facts and arguments to make a persuasive case. This is especially true for motions to stay proceedings or vacate judgments, which can be difficult to obtain without a solid legal foundation.

9. Utilize the rules of evidence

Winning a case in the federal appeals court requires a deep understanding of the rules of evidence – a strategy that can make all the difference in your success. Evidence is often the deciding factor in appellate court rulings, so it is essential to make sure that any evidence presented is relevant and admissible. This includes ensuring that any evidence is obtained legally, that it is properly authenticated, and that it is adequately presented in court. Furthermore, you should also be aware of any applicable statutes of limitation or other legal restrictions that may apply to specific types of evidence. By understanding the rules of evidence and making sure that all evidence presented is accurate and admissible, you are setting yourself up for success in the federal appeals court.

10. Stay in communication with the court.

Stay in communication with the court. During the appeals process, it is essential to stay in contact with the court and provide updates on the status of the case. It is important to follow up in writing and to answer any questions raised by the court in a timely and professional manner. Furthermore, it is beneficial to keep an ongoing dialogue with the clerk of the court to ensure that the court is aware of any changes in the case that may require their attention. This communication can be key in ensuring that the court is aware of any developments in the case, allowing them to make a more informed decision when the time comes to issue a ruling.

In conclusion, the Federal Appeals Court can be a daunting place to fight your case. However, understanding and utilizing the strategies discussed in this blog post can help you increase your chances of success. Preparing your case meticulously, researching the judges, and presenting a well-crafted and persuasive argument to the court are all essential elements of a successful appeal. With the right preparation and strategy, you can ensure that your case has the best chance at success.

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Top 10 highest payout online casinos

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Final note

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Festival : “An event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centring on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures.”

Twenty years ago, I went to my first music festival and was so blown away by what I saw I didn’t just vow to remain an avid festival goer for the rest of my life, I went one step further and decided that I would make a career of it. And that’s what I did. I forged a fifteen-year career in creative festival production and one question I seem to get asked time and time again is “what made you get into that job”. My answer is always the same – I want to be part of the creation of something that people talk about for the rest of their lives, to create memories of experiences that last a lifetime.

Music festivals don’t always get the best rap, especially the newer additions to the roster. Assumed by many that they are just an excuse for people to get f**ked up, listen to loud music and generally do things society doesn’t approve of. A place reserved for hippies and anarchists, unless you go to Latitude or Wilderness and then you’re just a bit posh and uninspired (these are things I have heard, rather than my first-hand opinion, FYI). These assumptions are symptomatic of the fact that  we have lost sight of why festivals came to be and what they should stand for – and that is celebration and congregation.

In a world before sponsors and bottom lines these gatherings were just that, a gathering for people to come together in community and celebrate life and all it has to offer through music and song and feasting and love and respect for each other. A melting pot of everything that makes us human.

I once had a discussion with my therapist where I asked “is there something wrong with my relationship when my partner and I have our best nights in a field, listening to music and getting high?” His response? “Yes, if you listen to society’s rules, or perhaps if this was a daily occurrence but the fact that this happens a couple of times a year, where you two end up celebrating love with music and good people and heightening that experience in a way that has been done since the age of time, it actually sounds near perfect to me”. I should state my therapist is a very liberal kind of guy, but having this perspective made me realise how conditioned I had become to thinking there must be something wrong in doing the very thing that humankind has been doing for centuries.

Given my chosen career path I have been to A LOT of festivals, varying sizes, types of music, geographic locations but of course it comes back to one, the mecca, Glastonbury and so after five long years (thanks to fallow years and pandemics) I made the pilgrimage back to Worthy Farm with the intention to really drill in to what it is that makes this place so special and if we can get back to what that’s all about.

I struggle to imagine anyone who hasn’t heard of Glastonbury, but appreciate there may be a fair few who haven’t experienced it – to summarise within this wordcount what it is like is  ambitious. But I’ll try my best.

A temporary city that for one-week hosts artists from every walk of life and from all over the world. A place where people come together to share elation and wonder at installations and curations. A cross section of societal subdivisions converging for the same reason, an act that in our ever-polarising society seems to be coming less and less common. And for me, that is the magic of Glastonbury, especially after the last few years. For five days you are held (and I mean held in a comforting, supportive sense, not an against your will sense)  in a space where you can shut off the news, you can shut off the outside world, you can be whatever you want to be, do whatever you want to do and share it with people who are there for the same reason.

I approached my Glastonbury experience slightly differently this year, knowing this article was to come out of it, to gain an understanding of what it was that forged this sense of community with everyone there. I remained sober (for at least a day) so I could be sure that what I was witnessing was accurate and not a drug-induced state of blissful loving. Standing at the Truth stage, flanked by billboards and posters stating things such as “You can silence people but their hearts will always be free” and “hate has no home here” watching folk singer Beans on Toast it all became clear. Glastonbury is a celebration of love and a place of hope.

In between songs of political states of affairs and current climates, Jay McAllister stopped to address the crowd “the thing about Glastonbury is it is a beautiful place, a hopeful place, a friendly place, a brilliant place”. He wasn’t wrong. With Greta Thunberg giving a speech on the iconic Pyramid stage, Greenpeace having a huge on-site presence, activists informing and educating at every turn, plant doctors and spiritualists demonstrating alternative healing methods and people from every walk of life uniting, Glastonbury is so much more than a music festival, it is a place where people can believe in a better world, they can get a snapshot of what life could be like if we were all to come together and in this togetherness an energy is shared. A huge collective emotion wanting change and a better world and a better life for future generations, if that isn’t a celebration of life, I don’t know what is.

How to do Glastonbury (the right way)

I totally appreciate that general camping at Glastonbury (or any festival) is not for the faint hearted. Even for a seasoned festival goer like myself, trekking wheelbarrows of stuff through hilly fields, queuing for hours for toilets that could cause another pandemic and playing the game of temperature regulation in a tent that either becomes a sweat box in the sun or an ice box in a cool breeze with no in-between is not fun so this year I took one for the team and after some extensive research as to the best boutique camping provider at Glastonbury, I landed on the wonderful Hotel Ziggu and I am here to tell you my research paid off.

As we crossed the border into Somerset I waited for my Google maps to turn red and another day be added on to our journey as we joined the throngs of cars but to my surprise, it never came. Using some very accurate directions we seemed to bypass the quarter of a million people and slipped around the back into our paradise without so much as going into first gear. This was a GREAT start.

Into the private car park and met instantly by a golf buggy to lug our kit to our tent with not so much as an eye of judgement at my numerous outfit choices and full-length mirror.

On arrival at our bell tent we were greeted by two ice cold champagne cocktails for us to sip as we did the obligatory mattress check on our REAL double bed – I can confirm the mattress was deliciously comfortable and any worries of not sleeping were instantly removed.

After a long drive we decided to hole up at the campsite so we could hit the festival fresh in the morning and dine at the onsite restaurant before whiling the night away with more cocktails in a chill out area complete with hammocks and sofas.

The next day, with slightly more sore heads than intended (those pesky cocktails were just too damn good) we made the most of the breakfast spread and a Bloody Mary in the wood-fired hot tub, which I can now confirm is the absolute only way to start the day. Once refuelled and refreshed we hopped on the shuttle bus to the festival that took a mere five minutes and were ready to go.

I didn’t think Glastonbury could get much better but the team at Hotel Ziggu and the offering they provide really does take this from a ten to an eleven and I could not recommend them enough. I will most certainly be back next year. And every year after that.

Need to know

A bell tent for two people starts at £3,000 for the festival period

More information can be found at

The viable Glastonbury alternatives

The other players – I get it, Glastonbury isn’t for everyone. I will silently judge you but I get it – the crowds, the price, the commitment, it is a lot. If you want to ease yourself into the world of festivals gently or are looking for something smaller but a similar vibe below are my recommendations.

Green Man

Set in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, this family-friendly independent festival is a very close second to Glasto in my ‘top festivals of all time’ poll. It is fantastic for music (big acts and upcoming) comedy and talks as well as the most beautiful art installations you have ever seen. I would go as far as to say it is the most polite and friendly festival I have been to and perfect for those wanting the full experience without a crowded, oversubscribed vibe.

Where to stay

Hotel Bell Tent are the OGs when it comes to boutique camping and their offering at Green Man is quite honestly stunning. Set on the banks of the River Usk – you are a less than a five minute walk from the main festival but distanced enough away that it is blissfully peaceful.

The camp includes a pamper tent, phone charging station, high end toilets and showers.

Hotel Bell Tent

Red Rooster

I stumbled up on this festival by accident and whilst the music offering may not be for everyone (Country, Blues and Americana) it is great for people looking for a smaller show where the kids can run around without fear of getting lost (it’s that small) whilst the adults can just have a jolly good time kicking around in cowboy boots. I dragged my partner, who has been to more shows than I and categorically hates Country, and he is still claiming it is one of the best he’s been to. Where else can you eat Brisket, drink whiskey, throw axes and watch wannabe cowboys?

Where to stay

General camping

Ok I know this goes against everything I have written BUT Red Rooster is one of the few shows where the general campsite is actually nicer than a lot of the boutique camp sites I have been in. Because of the small numbers there is oodles of space, it is flat, you can drive your car very close to your tent and you are a stone’s throw from the arena. What’s not to love?

I am a child of the nineties – I grew up idolizing Kate Moss and her jutting hip bones. I still idolise Kate Moss but at the tender age of 36 and with a lot of learnings behind me, now I gaze at her fondly with admiration for her career and what she has done for the fashion industry, rather than a lust for her body. Not that I don’t think her body is stunning but because I now understand that a) a curvy Jewish girl that has a had a penchant for fried food since the dawn of time is never going to have those coat hanger collar bones and b) because finally, after a lifetime of damaging narratives, I am on my way to understanding that our bodies are not what make us.

I think most of my generation can say they grew up with less than realistic ideals of what a woman’s body should look like. When we were growing up women with curves were never represented on screen unless they were the butt of a joke. We were shown Baywatch babes, Page 3 girls and the aforementioned heroin chic runway gazelles.  I am not telling you anything new here, it was a toxic time, we’re all aware. Couple that with living with a mother with an eating disorder who ran a modelling agency and you have a recipe for disaster. I am just going to caveat here and make a point to say I did not have a traumatic childhood (well not that I realised at the time), I travelled all over Europe with my Mum, her band of long-legged lushes, were some of the most amazing women I have ever met. My Mum wasn’t a bad mum, she was so far into her illness that she didn’t know the path she was laying for me. She was  clever at being a functioning bulimic, no one thought there was anything wrong and when she projected her toxic traits on to me, she wasn’t aware of the damage she was causing long term.

I wasn’t allowed ‘fat’ friends, I had to watch what I ate, and I was rewarded for dropping dress sizes rather than educational achievements. Is it any wonder that at fifteen I developed my own form of eating disorder? When I should have been filling myself with calories to help my growing body, I starved it. I lived off Slim Fast and perhaps a tablespoon of rice and grilled chicken with a tuft of broccoli if I felt woozy – I insisted on cooking my own food in case my meal got contaminated with something calorie heavy. On top of this I got up at 5am every morning to do ninety minutes of the New York Ballet workout – I was a mess, but I had the body I wanted and I lived for the compliments my Mum would lavish on me.  My most vivid memory during this time was when I nearly fainted in the bathroom, pulling myself together and walking to my bedroom in my underwear where I bumped into my mother on the landing, and she shrieked “Oh my god look at that body” – at my lowest I was at my Mum’s highest.

But then at 17 things started to change, I got a new group of friends and we had the miraculous things of driving licenses and free periods where we could go to other wordly establishments in the mecca that was the SnowDome in Milton Keynes – Pizza Hut buffets and a cheeky Nando’s became a Friday afternoon ritual, we needed to line our stomachs ahead of the gallons on Snakebite we would later be drinking at the metal bar before rounding the night off with a KFC Twister meal. My body started to change and I was too busy having a good time to think too much about it.

Then came the university years… in London. It was like stepping into a new world. Loaded with our student loans, my housemates and I devoured Dim Sum and Turkish kebabs, the proper kind. We thought we were the absolute dog’s bollocks as we managed to secure a huge town house in Brixton (thanks to one of the residents’ very wealthy Aunts) and hosted over the top dinner parties with gallons of wine, vats of Spag Bol and trays of Bread & Butter pudding. Nights out always culminated in cheese toasties around the kitchen table and even more wine. We all went through various part time jobs as catering staff which meant there was always a box of left overs from the party we had worked the night before sitting on the counter top for breakfast. It was fantastic.

Not only was my appetite growing but so was my desire for knowledge about food, I had always loved to cook but now I became obsessed – reading recipes, learning about ingredients, walking around Borough Market the way a dirty old letch walks around the red-light district. Overflowing tables of exotic fruit and veg was my kind of porn. I began hosting supper clubs and where I had once sought validation about how good I looked, I now thrived off the compliments I was given for what I produced in the kitchen. I got high off making people so full they could burst.

One weekend I returned home, we went to a local pub for lunch and mum was sinking the wine. After a ‘what seemed too long even for her’ trip to the bathroom, I went to make sure everything was OK. I found her on the floor, coming round, unsure as to how she ended up there – that’s the thing with refusing to intake solid calories but enjoying a bottle or four of wine, it soon catches up with you. I picked her up and said she had had enough to which she replied “why would I take advice from you? Look at the state of you”. She didn’t say the actual F word but I knew exactly what she meant. To this day I don’t think I have ever been so hurt or felt so ashamed. Now looking back and after A LOT of therapy, I realise what was happening, it was all projection and nothing to do with me, but as an early twenty-year-old, still figuring shit out, I was broken.

Following that I began to distance myself from Mum. I had to put boundaries in place to allow myself any semblance of healthy young adulthood. Some may say I did the wrong thing but the thing with addicts is that you can’t help them until they decide to help themselves and I stand fast in that the child should not be expected to become the parent.

At thirty I met my partner and was introduced to a love like none I had experienced before. It was unconditional. The first year of our relationship was long distance and every other weekend we spent together was an event, a true celebration. He would make the long journey; I would plan the menu. Friday night would always be the grand feast, slowly learning all his favourite foods and preparing them lovingly, enhancing them in some creative way, book ending a simple bangers and mash with pretty starters and rich desserts, sourcing wine pairings. Saturday mornings he would creep out to the local coffee shop and come back to wake me laden with pastries and lattes. Saturday night we would go out for dinner, working our way around the city’s food scene and Sunday, without fail brunch at OUR place – a cute indie café that did the best fry up you’ve ever had – before he began his shlep home.

Soon after we got together I embarked on a road trip down the East Coast of America which was predominantly structured around diners, lobsters shacks and BBQ joints. I kid you not with this next part. We hired a Mustang sports car, you know, the ones with the seats that sort of hug you in – by the end of that trip I was hugging the seat, not the other way round. Being the Instagram whore I am, I of course documented the whole thing, every fried plate of it. A friend messaged me and said “you’re going to explode”. Of course, she meant nothing by it and would have been devastated if she knew how much it triggered me but it did – these wounds that are inflicted on us at a young age cut pretty deep and the scabs never truly heal.

When I met Jon I was a svelte size 10 (this time through healthy life choices) I loved being this size but it wasn’t natural to me, it took work and in honesty, I loved the size because that is what I had been conditioned to love. It didn’t take long for my body to grow back to its natural, fuller state. Slowly my self confidence ebbed, nothing to do with my partner but more the gremlins from my past that despite no matter how hard I tried, could not be laid to rest.

And then came MasterChef, a dream come true, a once in a lifetime experience. One that involved recipe testing every waking moment of the day. Whipping up vats of pomme puree at 6am, followed by countless attempts at chocolate fondants and pork belly fritters. It was a short period of my life, three months maybe, but those three months saw me ingest more butter and cream than Paul Hollywood has during his whole Bake Off career. It is safe to say I swelled and then swelled a little more. MasterChef had been a family favourite in our household for years – ironic I know – and I wanted to share this time with my Mum. I hadn’t cut her off completely, just maintained a healthy distance. I was in a good place – good job, great partner, nice house and now this, I thought I was strong enough that I couldn’t be shaken – but I was wrong. As I picked up the phone to dial her number I sub consciously put a hand to my now pretty round belly and thought there is no way she will want me like this and so I put the phone back down.

My career in food took off, I became a private chef, a food writer and a restaurant reviewer – all jobs may I add that require you to eat. A lot. I started having more frequent conversations with Mum and every time she would ask when she would get to see me again. I always had an excuse, work was too busy,  I was too tired, life was too manic etc. In truth I knew I just didn’t want to be greeted with those eyes from all those years back that say “what the hell happened?” and because I couldn’t confront it with her, I couldn’t confront it with myself. I began wearing shapeless clothes, I pulled away from my partner, I made a company-wide statement to my social group that no photos were to be taken of me at any time. By this time I was actually longing for my Mother, I missed her and I wanted to rebuild our relationship but how could she ever love me when I was the physical representation of everything she hated?

I took guidance from people who had gone through similar situations or were recovering from ED’s, I followed the right Instagram accounts and deleted the wrong ones. For a long time nothing happened. I still had to avoid mirrors and cameras and shop windows (tbh I still do have to avoid shop windows – why are they so unflattering?!) and I resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to live with this body that I hated and that was my lot.

And then slowly things started to change. Like some sort of osmosis, the good I had surrounded myself with had seeped in. I caught my reflection in the mirror one day and thought ‘shit I look good’ despite not having lost any weight. I looked at my curves with admiration rather than disgust, proud that I waddled around with an all natural Kardashian butt. Through some subtle life editing I had managed to curate a narrative that was full of love and empowerment and acceptance. If people didn’t align with that, there wasn’t room for them at the table – literally.  I got into the habit of buying two items of my favourite jeans so that when those days come when I’m bloated or have over indulged, I can grab the next size up and feel great in what I am wearing as I have bypassed the whole ‘lying on the bed to do the zipper up’ drama.

As I slowly began to fall in love with this body, in a similar way people fall in love with their best friend who has been hanging around for years, patiently waiting for them to realise I understood it wasn’t just the aesthetic I was in to, it was what it represented.

These curves, this belly, that arm wobble are physical representations of everything wonderful in my life – my friends and partner who I love to feed, a career that I thought I could only every dream of coming to fruition, being alive in a time of Deliveroo and an outstanding restaurant scene that we are so unbelievably lucky to have available to us. The opportunities to travel and eat around the world.

Praise be we are now living through the dawn of the body positivity movement. There is still work to do and a long way to go but thanks to forward-thinking media campaigns and influencers of all shapes and sizes embracing their curves it is beginning to get a little easier. It feels there has been a shift in energy and as a whole we are being a lot kinder to ourselves but I implore you, next time you catch a bit in the mirror you don’t like, ask yourself what that ‘bit’ actually represents. Is it a meal you had with a loved one? Is it a takeaway you treated yourself to in an act of self care? Is it your body showing you, you are a woman and should be fucking proud to be one?

I should mention that I am indeed human, I have many a wobble and this body positivity stuff doesn’t always come easy – the way I look at it, it is like trying to unlearn how to write with one hand and learn with the other. And in those low moments, I remember something my partner said to me “I’m not going to lie to you, you have put on weight since I met you but you have also grown so much as a person. You used to work late every night for a company you hated, eating to live not living to eat. Now I come home and most nights you are dancing around the kitchen, cooking, tasting, drinking and you have never looked happier. Not a chance in hell would I swap this for that sad skinny bitch. Your body, this way is a celebration of everything good in your life and all the bits that make you, you!”

A couple of weeks back it was my Mum’s birthday. I am usually away for summer and so the excuse is ready made but this year she knew I was home and kept casually calling and asking what I was up to. I bit the bullet. For the first time in years I invited her into my home, I cooked a feast and I cooked it with love, proud of the food I was putting on the table and knowing that if she had a problem with any of it being ‘too much’ I would be ok. I wore a dress that showed my curves. For the three days leading up to it there were sleepless nights, snappy arguments as I got more and more anxious. I even called in back up in the form of a best friend who is FANTASTIC with neurotic mothers. The day arrived and it was pleasant, Mum was unusually quiet but I figured that was better than insults and snide digs. A few days later I received a card through the post, in it was written “Thank you for a wonderful birthday, sorry if I was quiet, I was overwhelmed – I have never been more proud of the chef and the woman you have become, all my love, always Mum”.

Do you ever feel like you just want to press pause, slow everything down and take a breather from life? Let’s be honest, the past few months haven’t been the easiest and while we are all doing the best we can, there are days when we are just not feeling it and our mental wellbeing is in need of a boost. One of the quickest most effective ways to boost your wellbeing is breath technique and the best bit – you can access it for free anytime, anywhere. There are so many wellbeing benefits to practicing breath technique, so grab a cup of tea, take a deep breath and read my top five reasons we should all have this tool in our emotional first aid kit.

It calms you in moments of stress and overwhelm

Breathing activates your vagus nerve which shifts the brain from fight or flight mode to a calmer state. It activates our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which is primarily responsible for relaxation, its job is to restore, rejuvenate, heal and conserve energy and it is a bit like activating your contentment reserves.

It improves your concentration

It is easy to feel distracted when we are overwhelmed or worried. Breath technique stimulates the cerebral cortex, which is the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, perception, cognition and awareness.

It increases energy

Breathing balances our autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary body functions like temperature. It can lower blood pressure and improve your mood as well as boost your energy levels. As we take oxygen into our body it enters the bloodstream and is carried to your muscles, where it is either used immediately or stored.

It boosts happiness

Deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins which are chemicals produced naturally by the nervous system to cope with pain or stress. They are often called “feel-good” chemicals because they can act as a happiness booster.

Gets rid of a headache

A headache is an indicator that the brain is deprived of oxygen. By practicing breath technique, you fuel your brain with oxygen, calm your mind and should feel instant relief.

Try this simple breath technique, perfect for beginners.

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Relax your muscles, let your body connect with the chair or the floor.
  4. Breathe easily and naturally.
  5. Tune into your breath, begin to breathe in through your nose for five counts, hold for five counts and release for five. Focus on your breath. Continue for three to five minutes. When you finish sit quietly for a few minutes.

With many of us still traversing newly-founded surges of free time post-lockdown, there is no better opportunity to start delving into the world of all things literature. Kickstarting House of Coco’s new thread of book reviews – to keep you occupied from the holiday reminiscences – we went transatlantic to discover life on the sidewalks of New York City, courtesy of Hanya Yanagihara’s, 2015 Booker Prize nominee, ‘A Little Life’.

I spent most of my lockdown with an emotional hangover; from the TV adaptation of Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ to Evaristo’s ‘Girl, Woman, Other’, there wasn’t often a morning where I woke up not cloaked by a quilt of melancholy, an aching chest full of nostalgia consequentially caused by my bout of excessive binge-watching / reading the evening before. But with Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘A Little Life’, the aftermath couldn’t be whittled down to a momentary morning slump. This wasn’t a 24-hour bug – the kind that grips you with its all-consuming clout then evaporates into an unpleasant memory – but more a chronic affliction that never departs. In other words, this book stuck with me. It welded itself to my heartstrings and cortex, in a bid to ensure that I’m never a few hours away from remembering a snippet of the text and reverting back to that ‘the-morning-after’ state of disconsolate disposition.

In overview, the storyline threads itself through the lives of four protagonists; a group of male aspirants desperately trying to navigate their existence from the apartment blocks of New York City after graduating from New England University. With an eclectic mix of career goals behind them, the personal nuances of each character are echoed through their private quirks, foibles, and life-choices; take the scene – for example – where we learn that JB, a hopeful artist, is sleeping on the floor of his studio following an entanglement with addiction, whilst his long-term companion Jude opts to spend his evening mulling over mathematical enigmas for fun.

The plot does an excellent job of transporting its audience to the concrete pavement of a fervent metropolis, buzzing with all-night-rendezvous’ and overpriced restaurants, but it soon becomes clear that this novel is less an account of a bunch of spritely twenty-somethings grappling with city living, and more-so an acumen to the subtleties and complexities of life.

The quaternate narratives are told through a series of idiosyncratic points of view, but readers are mostly cast into the realities of Jude, a gifted law graduate trying to come to terms with his unforgiving past, and Willem, an ambitious actor who is thrust into the spotlight and aims to juggle his attention between newfound fame and a tightknit social circle. There’s no denying that the novel is intimidating in size, but Yanagihara’s succession in packing decades of life’s gradations and turbulences makes the 700(-ish) pages feel transient. From altruistic levels of kindness to cataclysmic miscommunications, it would be an injustice to reduce these characters to a fragment of the imagination when – through their distinctions of behaviour and thought processes – they are an opportunity for us to look within. How can something be forgotten when it embodies such a myriad of authentic sentiment, eventually becoming an extension of ourselves?

A Little Life is less an acknowledgment of the peaks and troughs of living, but an account of how our past and the people we choose to surround ourselves with plays into every fragment of our being. Yes, the book is subversive and of its own, but it is also an example of how acts of unconditional love can ultimately carry us through the darkness and provide a light of solace when we – sometimes unknowingly – need it most.

I’ve been toying with writing this piece for months. As journalists, we have to hit the right balance between showcasing the destinations we visit in their best light – and telling the cold, hard, sometimes embarrassing truth.

Like the creepy ‘ideal woman’ filters getting backlash on Instagram stories, I’m calling out the travel industry online – specifically #TravelGoals – for its negative impact on our collective mental health and diverse thinking.

We all have our own ‘dream destinations’, places we just have to see, but there is huge danger in having our hearts set on an artificial image of what a place looks like. Earlier this year, Twitter blew up after uncovering the complete scam of the Gates of Heaven influencer shot in Pura Lempuyang Luhur, Bali. The stunning, pure, mirror-like water under the gates, reflecting the perfect outfit and pose was just that – a mirror.

The sad truth is that social media has changed travel irrevocably. In our culture of ‘photo or it didn’t happen’ how many of us are – consciously or unconsciously – driven to travel for the opportunities to get that shot or tick that box? What are we travelling for? Do we even take in the culture of the places we find ourselves in?

In Alain de Botton’s brilliant book ‘The Art of Travel’ he recalls adding time onto a work trip abroad, writing: “And I wondered, with mounting anxiety, what am I supposed to do here? What am I supposed to think?”. When did travel become a competition of who would have the best time or get the most mileage of out a place? Are we really #livingthedream or are we trying so hard to prove it that we aren’t even experiencing the dream?

Travel has always been an opportunity to learn, not just about other cultures, but about ourselves. Sadly, with our ulterior travel motive – of getting our carefully geo- and hash- tagged story to hundreds – we are missing out on that opportunity, or wilfully ignoring it. From the hordes of influencers trampling the poppy super bloom and destroying native tribes’ medicine crops – to unthinking shots with animals in cruel captivity – we can all wise up.

Here at Team Coco we have a duty to elevate our industry. We can all do better, we can all post the ‘outtakes’ alongside that perfect photo snapped by the pool and show that life, and travelling, isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We can all step outside of the privileged traveller bubble and truly seek to engage with and understand the place we are lucky enough to find ourselves in.

Consider this our line in the sand and our pledge to travel more consciously, to put away our mobiles, halt all thoughts of ‘doing it for the ‘gram’ and immerse ourselves in the cultures we visit to be able to share the true experience.

But first, some ‘behind the scenes’ revelations from our team to get off our chests – some thought provoking, some hilarious. Reach out and tell us yours!

@travelwithcrusoe : “I’d really urge you to go beyond the tourist hot spots as these aren’t usually representative of the destination’s culture or heritage. Read up on these areas before you arrive filled with preconceptions and stereotypes. Respect the places you visit!”

@bonnejournal : “I hiked Trolltunga in Norway only to wait 3 hours to get “the shot” on the ledge that juts out over the fjord… I still say it was worth the 3 hours and a suitable reward to the gruelling hike we did to reach it. There were a lot of people who weren’t appropriately prepared to do the hike but were still attempting it – all because it has blown up on insta over the last few years!”

@thebohobaker : “I had to pack this food shot up and run after realising the group of people setting up nearby were not squirrel enthusiasts, as we had previously thought… but filming a porno! I remember running up the embankment and shouting “LEAVE THE CHEESECAKE” at my friend in an attempt to get out of the woods as swiftly as possible. I wish I was joking!”

@melbuhannah / @teamcocopup : “My husband has limited me to 3 insta shots a day – which is a catastrophe for a content obsessed traveller like me! Charlie aka TeamCocoPup is usually so well behaved and we have a blast covering dog friendly events in London. In a recent dog yoga class, however, Charlie was clearly feeling really relaxed, so relaxed that he decided that he didn’t need to go outside… so ashamed!”

@sixpenceinyourpocket : “Last year I spent a month in Bahrain working with a corporate client. After a few luxurious but frankly embarrassingly OTT dinners at 5* hotels and accidentally seeing Paris Hilton release a new perfume at a mall, I escaped the airconditioned climes. The most rewarding experience was exploring the dusty, storied streets in Al Muharraq, following the Pearling Trail, receiving encouraging nods and pointed directions from gentlemen on the way to prayer. Yes, I got the shot of the Ritz-Carlton flamingos but came away with so much more!”

@emmahwriter : “Throwback to the time I ended up in an emergency medical centre after being bitten by what was possibly a snake or some weird insect. No one knew! A photo of my leg was being What’s Apped across the state with people trying to figure out what was going on… all because I was doing an Insta story and wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking…”