Welcome to Chatting to a Friend. In this podcast I am chatting to incredible women from all walks of life about friendship, community, self care, adventure, sex, grief, boundaries and asking them how they look after themselves, how they manage their mental health and what drives them. It’s an enormous privilege to have the time and opportunity to learn from some truly remarkable women. I hope you enjoy it.
Chatting to Dr Phoebe Sneddon
Dr Phoebe Sneddon is a paediatric registrar in the NHS.
She’s a mum to four year old daughter.
She’s also a cyclocross racer for Team Magspeed and a Specialized ambassador.
She is passionate about everyone (especially children, young people and women) finding something they love doing, to improve mental health, to give joy and to give something other than likes on social media to think about.
I found Phoebe to be exactly as I had expected she would be from following her on Instagram: funny, authentic, self-deprecating, passionate about her job, her sport and her patients and bit cross about the state of the UK (and not afraid to say so).
We talk about her childhood being keen but “a bit rubbish” at sport, to her dismal attempts to be a soldier in Officer Training Corps at university and how she wishes sport could be a bit less competitive sometimes so that nobody felt embarrassed or worried about having a go.
She cares deeply about her patients and their lives, worries how children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds will get the support they need to find something they love, take up a sport or get out of the cycle they are often in.
She talks proudly about her family history of doctors, how she came to be a paediatrician and how she kind of just fell into bike racing because her then boyfriend (now soon to be ex-husband) was a racer and she thought “it didn’t look too hard”.
As a Specialized ambassador, she encourages women to get on their bikes and just give it a go, to help with self-confidence, body image, mental health and realising they have so much more within themselves.
We finish by talking about the big, scary ride she planned and executed to raise money for a friend’s new wheelchair and how privileged she always feels riding her bike when she knows so many people are not as lucky.
You can follow Phoebe on:
In a new addition to the podcast, I am asking my guests to set me a challenge within their area of expertise.
Phoebe challenged me to ride my bike to the top of a very steep hill (I live in the Alps so I have plenty of choice) as soon as the snow has melted and then ride it again at the end of the summer to see how much faster I am!
Challenge accepted. You can follow the hashtag on social media and follow me on Strava if you fancy it.
Chatting to Niki Doeg and Frances Davies
Niki Doeg and Frances Davies were half of the crew known as Yorkshire Rows, who rowed across the Atlantic as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 2015.
They subsequently wrote a book called “Four Mums in a Boat”, charting their journey from Saturday morning river rowing novices to full blown Ocean rowers.
It is a story of the highs and lows, the mum guilt, the juggling of jobs, families, training, insane amounts of organisation, fund raising and finally the row itself.
The chat is fun and funny. These two middle aged women regularly reminded me of my own girlfriends, trying to carve out precious time for themselves amongst all the noise and busy- ness of life.
We chat about the importance of just saying YES. Even if you feel you’d be no good at it, the slowest, the last, the least “natural” at it.
Saying yes to an adventure led them to finding their truest selves as well as best friends who became like family.
If you want to be inspired to step out of your comfort zone in order to achieve something great, then listen to these women.
Then read their incredible book and laugh and cry your way across the Atlantic with them.
Chatting to Libby Jackson
Libby Jackson is one of Britain’s leading experts in human spaceflight, having spent over a decade working at the forefront of the field.
Space was a childhood passion and after completing degrees in physics at Imperial College and astronautics and space engineering at Cranfield University, she has worked in the space industry ever since.
Libby spent seven years working at the European Space Agency’s Mission Control for the International Space Station in a number of roles including her dream job as a Columbus Flight Director.
She played a key role in Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station and continues to work in the field.
Libby is a frequent contributor on television and radio, including Stargazing Live, The Big Think: Should We Go To Mars? and Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?
Accompanied by my first ever co-host, my 10 year old daughter, Amélie, we spent a brilliant hour chatting with Libby about space, her earliest recollections of being fascinated with it and followed by some heart in mouth stories from mission control.
We discussed how space is such a huge industry now that there are so many ways for young people to get in and how annoying it still is that there are blue and pink aisles in toy shops.
Why is mission control such a quiet, almost spiritual, place that fills us with such awe and excitement? How does the extensive training prepare you for all eventualities?
And the moral of Libby’s tale – ALWAYS ask the question, the answer might be no but if you don’t ask you will never know if it could have been yes.
Seize every opportunity that comes your way and find what it is you love and drive towards it full steam ahead!
Libby is passionate about sharing stories of human spaceflight and encouraging young people to follow their passions in life. Her first book, A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space was published in 2017 and Space Explorers: 25 Extraordinary Stories of Space Exploration and Adventure was published in 2020.
We have a copy of the first book and it is fascinating, supremely interesting and beautifully illustrated – the next one is firmly on Amélie’s birthday list!
You can follow Libby on:
Facebook: Libby Jackson
Website: www.libbyjackson.com (where you can order her awesome books)
Chatting to Nikki Scott
In 2009, Nikki Scott BEM was 28 with two children under 5 when she got the knock on the door that every military wife dreads.
Her 26 year old husband, Lee, had been killed in Afghanistan and she was suddenly a widow, with no home of her own and a piece of her heart ripped out.
Over the next few months, she barely survived, watching her 5 year old son shrink into a shadow of his former self until, on an enforced family holiday, she saw him smile and laugh with his cousins and she realised she had to do something to ensure he stayed that way.
In this incredible episode, Nikki tells us how she used her grief, and her desire to see her kids grow up strong and loved, to set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The charity was founded to assist and support children of British service personnel in the event of them losing a parent.
She is passionate about children and young people feeling remembered and seen despite their very particular kind of loss. We discuss all the aspects of the charity’s incredible aims as well as her own personal journey to happiness.
Nikki’s story is tear jerking, vulnerable and so inspiring. How a young widow who had only ever worked in bars and nurseries set up a nationwide charity and was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to charity in the 2021 New Years Honours List, is well worth a listen.
To learn more about Scotty’s, see how to donate or buy their cool merchandise, go to www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk
You can follow on social media on:
LinkedIn: Scotty’s Little Soldiers
Chatting to Victoria Bagnall
Do you know or are you someone who struggles to get started on a task, gets easily distracted, is always excited by the “next exciting thing”, who is constantly late, losing things, who finds it difficult to keep their emotions controlled, does not seem to have a very flexible approach to life or does not seem to really understand themselves or how they are functioning?
It could be that they are struggling with their Executive Functions. These functions are what allow us to execute our lives, get stuff done, keep track of our things and function as efficiently as possible. They are located in the “new” part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, and they are vital for a calm and fulfilled life.
Victoria Bagnall is a pioneer in the field of executive function skills development and passionately believes that applying the latest developments in neuroscience is the key to unlocking the potential of the human brain. She regards poor executive functions as the bottleneck to productivity and is committed to working with people of all ages to help them overcome their executive function challenges in order to flourish.
Victoria is the Co-Founder of Connections in Mind, an organisation of highly motivated team of experts committed to supporting executive function development in both children, adolescents, education providers and adults.
In this fascinating and vitally important chat we discuss her story from dyslexic, “out of place” child to reading Geography at Cambridge while still managing some fairly troublesome challenges with her executive functions.
A small discussion on how to write an essay is followed by the question of the moment: “What are executive functions?” and why do people not know more about them. It appears no one has a perfect EF profile but for between 20 and 40% of the population are “neurodiverse” and find tasks that “neurotypical” people find easy, very hard.
This tendency to not be able to do what is seen as basic functions in life can lead to great feelings of shame as parents, teachers, bosses label these people “lazy”, “over emotional” and “stupid”. Yet, these issues are not character traits or personality flaws, they are skills like any other – learning to walk, riding a bike, driving a car… you can learn to improve them and make them work for you.
But you need to look after yourself. You need to eat well, sleep well, do the things that make you feel good so that the better you feel, the more able to are to engage that part of the brain and fight off the “old” prehistoric, instinctual brain that puts you into fight, flight or freeze mode on a daily basis.
We discuss the classroom, life at home and the workforce and how all these places could be so much less difficult if only we all understood what this all meant.
Victoria is passionate about all of this and it shines throughout her interview how much she wants people to know about this and to talk about it more. You will hear a lot more from me in this episode than in many of the others because this is something that has affected me all my life (without me knowing) and now affects my 10 year old daughter.
Victoria’s company is Connections in Mind and her website is www.connectionsinmind.com
You can get hold of her on Facebook on @connectionsinmind
On Instagram on @connectionsinmind
Victoria is on LinkedIn as Victoria Bagnall
The survey she refers to with 10,000 people taking the EF test is here su.vc/executivefunction
To find the books she was talking about “Smart but Scattered” please look here https://www.smartbutscatteredkids.com/books/
Adele Diamond’s (leading EF researcher) brilliant article on nourishing the human spirit and Executive Functions here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210770/
And finally, Russell Barkley’s findings on the links between ADHD and EF/self regulation a
Chatting to Shasta Nelson
Shasta Nelson is a leading expert on Friendship. She’s been quoted in magazines and newspapers, online and print, including New York Times, The Washington Post, and Readers Digest, and has been interviewed live on over dozens of TV shows, including the TODAY Show and Steve Harvey Show. Plus, if you haven’t yet seen her popular TEDx talk then you’ll want to watch that later!
Her previous books include Friendships Don’t Just Happen! which is a guide for making new friends as an adult, and Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness which teaches us how to make our relationships more meaningful. But it’s her newest book that we’re talk about today as she takes her expertise about friendship into the workplace in The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of Our Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time.
In this conversation we talk about loneliness and how it should never be a source of shame, how to gauge it and tell if that is what you are feeling. We touch on mens’ friendships and how the pandemic may actually be helping them to engage on a closer level.
One of the most important aspects for me was the discussion around how to take responsibility for your own part in your friendships and how to deepen them and improve them using Shasta’s Frientimacy triangle of positivity, consistency and vulnerability.
Lastly, we talk about how to maintain and even grow work friendships even though you may not even be able to be at work just now.
If you have friends, would like to deepen your friendships or understand where you are on the unfulfilled/loneliness scale and what to do about it, then this is a must-listen conversation.
You can find Shasta on:
IG - @shastamnelson
You can also check out Tipsy Tea on www.tipsytea.co.uk and use the discount code CTAF to get a free measure glass!
Customer ReviewsSee All
Inspiring, encouraging and validating
Such an enjoyable series. Listening to normal yet amazing women who have shrugged off what’s expected and lived their true life in spite of society’s expectations. These are compelling to listen to and have such a relaxed style. You feel like you’re there too! They’ve been a good validation of emotions and struggles, hearing how other women have gone through similar things to us all and created fulfilling lives for themselves.
I’ve cried, laughed and been inspired!
Loving the podcast so far. There’s something very lovely about listening to two women having a good old chat, it feels like you’re there chatting with them! Can’t wait to listen to more!
Fascinating, inspiring and insightful
Fascinating, inspiring and insightful! Catie has a lovely way with people.