Where are you from?

London, England

What was it like growing up?

Heavenly! The buzz of central London with loving parents and a brother. The weekends and holidays with grandparents and cousins, riding horses and bikes, climbing trees, feeding baby orphaned lambs, board games by the fire with some International travel to see the broader world.

What brought you to Cleveland?

My ex-husband got a tenure-track job at CWRU. We had been in St Louis for 5 years doing Post-doctoral fellowships.

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

I was excited – I had backpacked around America as a teenager and I was amazed by how the states each had their own personalities. My first few weeks in America involved me trying to understand what people were saying (which surprised me because – hey – English is English, right?!), checking out the crazy food (cheese in a can?!) and huge portion sizes, and the fact that people asked my name and remembered things about me, which, coming from London felt very strange! I was really struck by the extremes here – weather, politics, healthcare, religion – the polar extremes of acceptability in the culture!

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

None of my challenges were huge. I was struck by the huge cost of health care, the complicated tax codes and the extremes of the right and left in terms of politics, womens rights and so on. Language oddly was a small but present challenge – not being understood, which is strange given I am a native English speaker. I found the expectation of sociability in the workplace (the expectation that you should socialize more during your working day) much more present here than in the UK. The expectation of longer working hours, less vacation-time are still something that concerns me, but I create my own schedule, so that’s not my personal concern anymore.

What is your occupation?

I am an entrepreneur – I run a Coaching company. I help busy professionals organize themselves so they have time for what they need and want and time for fun. I am your Chief Habit Scientist, wrangling your habits around food, sleep and exercise. This career evolved out of my experiences.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

I have had a number of very supportive moments here in the CLE, from the small things like people remembering my name and how I take my coffee, to what my children like to do or eat to the bigger moments. When my 2 year old son was diagnosed with Cancer in 2008, my neighbors of about a year, many of whom I did not know, delivered food to our door every night for the first two weeks after his diagnosis. When my marriage ended and I was packing up and moving out of the family home, and drowning in lawyer fees, my friends suggested I host packing parties – and my friends came, with their kids too and helped us pack up our home.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

I eat marmite on toast at least once a week and I like to have afternoon tea!

What do you love about Cleveland?

CLE is FANTASTIC! I love the people – engaged, political, interested in the world and how they can make Cleveland thrive. Many people have lived elsewhere, but choose to come back to Cleveland, which tells a powerful story. The food & music and events around town – like the PechaKucha events and City Club etc keep me engaged and the metro parks, museums and schools are varied and wonderful. The quality of life here is very high and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be raising my children where there is enough variety and buzz, but the people are kind, compassionate and connected.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

We are a global economy. The world is now smaller and we should allow people to flow between places – either because they have skills and expertise that they want to share for everyone’s benefit or because they are being persecuted and we can help support them as they transition to safety, stability and eventually productivity.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

Apart from the fact that the world has so much to offer – so many fascinating people, sites to explore, traveling changes who you are. Putting yourself in a situation where everything is unfamiliar – language, food, transport, practices requires you to develop tolerance, open-mindedness, humor and compassion. Extending one’s own feelings allows one to feel compassion and understanding for those who arrive here with nothing familiar. We can all learn to be graceful. My three children have all joined me to travel abroad and get a sense of other parts of the world, because I feel it is even more important now, because the world is shrinking, in part due to social media. Actually being in these countries and grappling with the feeling of being in the minority, being misunderstood and so on, is vital for their development as global, compassionate citizens.