Natalia is the Strategic Director here at New Thinking magazine, and a passionate advocate for living and working internationally. She spent over 15 years as an educator, starting in Taiwan teaching kindergarten, and ending in the UK teaching high school, where she was Head of English. She currently lives in London with her family.
Want to know a bit more? Natalia Matous shares some fun facts:
📚 Having been a high school English teacher for 15 years, just about every book I ever taught is immediately relegated to the bottom of the “damned for eternity” list and I will likely never touch it again (mostly for fear of morphing back into Teacher Mode). However, there are a number left which definitely stand out as seminal to my reading journey:
– The Winter King (and indeed the rest of the King Arthur trilogy) by Bernard Cornwell. Easily my most revisited author since the age of 10, he brings battlefield historical fiction to life in a way I have never experienced elsewhere, and I find his characters exceptionally well-rounded. His Sharpe series on the Napoleonic wars and The Last Kingdom series on the Viking invasion of the British Isles and subsequent uniting of the Britons also rocked my world.
– Maus/Maus II is the graphic novel by Art Spiegelman that won the Pulitzer Prize. I used to recommend it to my students as it is so tragically written and certainly one of the most compelling tales of the Holocaust I have ever read. Brought me to tears on more than one occasion.
– Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, the Navy Seal who believes that motivation is a dirty word—only obsession will get things done. This book could loosely be termed a ‘self help’ book, and I actually would recommend the audiobook, which breaks into mini-podcast sessions between the ghostwriter and Goggins after particularly grueling and difficult to read parts of the biography. I’ve revisited this at least 3 times, and paid it forward for Christmases and Birthdays since I discovered it.
– Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Another that has been paid forward on repeat—genuinely a favorite author of mine and most of his novels land for me in the same way they did for my father and uncle. Still so pertinent to today’s society in so many ways and such an absurd and dark satire throughout his works.
🏋️♀️ Three self-care practices I have adopted to treat myself well would be:
1. Work out every day—and if I don’t have the energy, at least stretch it out! Over the pandemic we invested in weights, super-padded pilates matts and foam rollers. I have a core set of must-do stretches to ensure I don’t feel crooked (why does everything start to hurt post 30s?!) and I use my iwatch to track the workouts so that I can “compete” with myself with the challenges it sets me each month. There’s no excuse for not doing it either, as I’ve even put the dumbbells in my kid’s bedroom so I can sneak in some sets while she reads in her cot. Her counting to 10 is really coming along!
2. Play video games with my husband. We both work really hard, and with a toddler, sometimes the temptation to just watch TV and take the pressure off becomes a bit too quotidien. So we play Turtles in Time, River City Girls, Overcooked, and my all-time favorite (that we are currently re-playing), Diablo III. My character of choice? The Necromancer. Such incredible detail and beautiful graphics.
3. We try not to give physical presents in our family—we gift events that we can do together. To go out and share time and create original memories is far more effective for our mental health, and you never have to find a place in your house to store it away! From surfing vacations to crazy-ass zipwires. The events will always rule supreme. The gift of a massage also counts.
🐻 The most awesome destination I’ve ever been—this is a tough one for sure… I’d probably say British Columbia. I’d move there in a heartbeat. Vancouver is a great destination. Such phenomenal outdoor possibilities, from glaciers (although they are sadly eroding so rapidly as a result of global warming), extreme whitewater rafting, fabulous via ferrata, waterfalls, surfing, hiking, and such diversity of wildlife—admittedly meaning I always have to carry bear spray and a flare!—what’s not to love?