A Charmed Life


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are you woke?

When I die I want my epitaph to read ‘She cared.’ And when I look back on my life in my old age, if I am blessed to live that long, I want to be able to remember the moments in which I actively demonstrated that caring. This is in part why I could no longer sit on the periphery being depressed and stressed as we humans continue down this current socio-political path we are on. I felt called upon to be part of the solution.

In the last few years I have considered myself an activist, but on reflection it is not actually a new facet of me, I always was one. Activism is inbuilt in me. It was a part of my upbringing through both my immigrant grandfathers, they and my immigrant parents raised me to be politically and community minded so I always had this sense of being part of a larger world outside of my inner circle and I have always felt a responsibility to do my bit for others regardless of race and religion. And I always have.

I think the difference between then and now is choice. It was my choice to do my bit then and as such not something I felt needed galvanising. After all life is pretty much a Rorschach test in that each of us sees what we see and finds outcomes that are coherent with what we already believe and what we can accept. Now though, I do not feel there is choice it feels like a summons, and not just for me.

Because there is just one me. And this moment we are in. Its big. Its challenging. Its new. There is no historical reference we can learn from, we have never seen anything like this before. There is no ready solution. There is no one solution. We are navigating through uncharted territory. Scary sure. Confusing yes. But also something else – exciting. I know what you are thinking. What! Or perhaps WTF! This kiwi girl thinks it is exciting that more and more people are suffering through injustice and intolerance. And no, I never could, but what excites me about these times is the ‘we.’ The we who ask ourselves everyday what can I do to bring about substantive change.

The we humans who are connecting with each other to show our caring. The we who form the resistance. When I first heard this term ‘the resistance’ it conjured up memories of V the tele miniseries/show, does anyone else remember it? I quite fancy myself in a red spacey jumpsuit uniform weapon in hand ready to zap the bad guys; and in fact the resistance of today is not dissimilar to the resistance to the alien invasion in that series, it is just in this instance the aliens are actually humans not aliens who look like humans. Although on second thought; it could be argued that there are several world leaders whose actions may better be explained by a possible alien body abduction!

Anyways… the resistance of today is gathering momentum, people are coming together, and we are seeing evidence of this everywhere; with the Women’s March (Global), in the response to US withdrawal from the Paris Accord (Global), with Jeremy Corbyn/Labour in the recent election (UK), the response to Grenfell (UK), in the failure of the Senate to pass new healthcare legislation thus far (US), in the no confidence vote that comes next month to decide Zuma’s future (SA).

To use the word the kids are using these days – people are woke. People are woke to the fact that not only is this a difficult moment, it is a life threatening one for marginalised people in our communities and we will not stay silent and watch lives be destroyed. It is an exciting time to be alive, to be woke and on the right side of history; for despite the outcome when I do look back on my life I will never regret that I showed how much I cared.

Sat Nam

 

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this kiwi girl muses about… Easter

I went to Christian schools so I had it drummed into me from a young age that Easter was about Jesus sacrificing his life for my sins and then rising again from the dead on the third day so I would have eternal life. I remember being very confused about someone I never knew dying for me. It is a heady concept for a child to understand and I have to say as an adult it never felt much clearer; but then religion is all about the interpretation and interpretation is why I do not do religion.

Still I may not do religion but that has not stopped my brain working overtime all bank holiday contemplating on the meaning of Easter. It would have been more comfortable to muse over Easter eggs but I am not a chocolate eater so it holds no interest, or to talk about the Easter bunny but I am not American so have never taken part in any bunny activities; no instead my thinking has been all about Jesus and about these events that may or may not have occurred and this is kind of a big deal for me, for although I am happily content with my spiritual path, I remain vehemently anti religion. This means I choose not to veer towards religious dogma. I am the first to say ‘for one day would it not be nice to not have to read about some religious crap in the news.’ Before I come across all blasphemous, apathy aside, each to their own I just do not see why I have to know about it.

Anyway about Easter. In adulthood Easter has always been a welcome respite from hectic work life no further thought heeded, yet here I am fresh from this Easter break thinking what is the lesson of Easter.
And my takeaway is this – and I have to say I think it was a case of when the student is ready, the teacher will appear because I am surprised how easily it came to me, and it may be a little simplistic but here goes – you do not need to be Christian or religious to deduce that Easter is about love. I believe that the idea of someone giving their life for me is an act of kindness and the idea of that someone rising from the dead fills me with joy and gives me hope for the redemption for all of us. And I am rather happy to bask in that feeling for as long as I can.

 Sat Nam

And…  Issues, Movements. I am feeling an exuberance for justice I have never felt in my lifetime, a wave of change upon us. Whether it is Mental Health Awareness or the fight for Equality or Black Lives Matter, whatever the issue it will not be ignored. And nor should it. Pepsi managed to balls this current feeling up royally, first by hiring Kendall Jenner, the idea that anyone from that family gives a damn about anyone other than themselves is an obvious fallacy. Then the ad itself is a WTF! There is a bit in the beginning of the ad of Kendall blithely handing a blond wig to a bemused African-American woman – that says it all #I’mNotInThePepsiGeneration BUT for incite and context look no further than I’m Not Your Negro, a documentary film, based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript. James Baldwin was one of the most important voices to document the civil rights movement and to hear the words of this man who knew Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr is a thrill for anyone interested in history but why I believe this documentary is required viewing is because it speaks to the present moment with greater clarity and force. I watched it thinking ‘when will we ever learn!’  I am somewhat confused who is whom in the Syrian conflict. There’s Assad. There’s IS. There’s Iran. There’s Russia. There’s Saudi Arabia. There’s the US and somewhere there in the mix are Britain, France, Turkey and Qatar. I don’t understand what motivates Assad anymore; his country is in ruins, it has been six bloody intractable years. Assad has to go and so do IS but I have concerns about other countries being involved, you don’t just fire missile strikes on another country but more importantly you don’t just fire missile strikes on another country without a game plan. The strikes just feel like that thing at the White House thought to do on a whim and because he could. It doesn’t demonstrate a move to resolve the conflict and it certainly was not out of concern for the Syrian people. And speaking of airstrikes on what possible realm does it make sense to threaten North Korea, launch a MOAB on Afghanistan, and then go off for a golfing holiday. Every day it is like watching a James Bond movie but from the psycho villian’s point of view. You never know what is going to happen next but you know it will not make sense and you know it will not be any good. 


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i wonder

Sometimes I look at my smart phone and wonder at its smartness; it allows people to talk to me, to see me, it plays music, takes me through my yoga routine, checks me in when I fly, lets me catch up on Eastenders and… well actually it might be easier listing what it doesn’t do, it really is the little gadget that could. 

I do that a lot though – wonder. I often allude in this blog to changes that I made in the last few years, and even though there were specific events that transpired to make me have to change, in hindsight all I really did was pare down my life significantly. I have tried to let go of anything that which did not serve me, be it people, possessions or vibes. The effect has been quite surprising, where I assumed paring down would make my world smaller, it has had the opposite effect in that my life feels bigger. I best describe myself as one who was drowning and who then – by letting go – was able to float to the top to breathe and breathe possibly for the first time in my adult life. This left me lighter, grateful and gift of gifts – in a state of wonder. I mean this in a wondrous wonder way, not the kind of wonder most of us have as we consider how long we must put up with tiny hands oops agent orange oops lord voldemort oops hair force one oops predator in chief oops well you know he who must not be named.

The kind of wonder children do so naturally, the kind of wonder we forget when we become adults bogged down by the minutiae of life and yet, the universe never gives up on us it keeps giving us plenty to wonder about, every single moment of every single day. So happily I give myself over to wonder; be it in the joy on the faces of young orphans as they see themselves reflected back to them on my smart phone or looking up at a magenta sky or in knowing the crossword answer to 2d fifteenth Greek letter when I couldn’t possibly know (it is omicron in case you are wondering) or in an email from a mentoree informing me they got the long sought after job that we worked hard to prepare for or – and I kid you not – as I write this post about wonder hearing ‘I wonder’ by Rodriguez on the radio. 
And just like that the dance of the universe continues.

Sat Nam

And… I have a hot/cold relationship with social media, it starts off as a good idea but at some point I come to question the worthiness of it. Why do we post what we post? It is of course about connection and some about showing off. I know I use it to either be heard or because I feel the need to share something I see but does anyone actually care! I suppose that answer lies in the amount of likes I get. However where I believe social media has triumphed is that it no longer feels like there is six degrees of separation with the folk who are more known than you or I; recently on Twitter I have been followed by Scott Maslen and over on Instagram discussed the plight of Haiti with Caroline Stanbury, Karyn Hay’s new book with Danielle Cormack (to the kiwis old enough to remember yes as in Radio with Pictures’ Karyn Hay), and the fruitlessness in Samuel L. Jackson’s comments about British black actors taking roles off African American actors with Thandie Newton. Through social media the mystery to these famous folk has gone and I think this is good, they are humans like us after all albeit humans with really shiny hair and killer wardrobes but humans all the same.


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why I think HE will make a great president

2017Yeah right! No I have not had a lobotomy since I last wrote nor have I lost my liberal do-gooder instincts, I just thought the title would make for a laugh. Seriously though – can anyone think of even one reason! 

I love the idea of a new year, a time to start afresh with new hopes and dreams. A rebirth so to speak. It is at this time of year I like to get in some extra guidance of the mystic variety, so this past weekend I took myself off to have my numerology chart done and a tarot card reading. I won’t go into what was said as it is uninteresting to anyone but me except I will say from past experience they have been eerily bang on. It is what was said at the end of the session that was particularly appealing to me ‘whatever happens remember you are a spiritual being having a human experience.’

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Not for the first time have I heard this but it feels rather timely to have heard it now because who knows the trajectory 2017 will follow: Everywhere you turn, there is this feeling lunatics are running the asylum WHERE fake news is the order of the day WHERE we are days out from seeing a man-child take the office as leader of the free world WHERE (arguably) the world’s best healthcare system the NHS is increasingly in crisis to the point of collapse WHERE the tenet of democracy is being tested WHERE the next Great British Bake Off will air without Mary Berry WHERE previous cold war enemies are now in cahoots WHERE Katie Hopkins is still being employed to spread her unique brand of bigotry WHERE climate change is still being denied even when we see proof of decline everywhere. Who knows. But if we are spiritual beings having a human experience it really does not matter what reality looks like, all that matters is how we show up, what is in our souls – that part of us that observes quietly behind what we do, think, believe and feel, that part of us that existed before this human life and that will continue to exist after our present physical form transitions.

What gives me perspective everyday are four separate realities – the plight of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped in April 2014 by Boko Haram in Nigeria, the imprisonment and sentencing to death by beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia, the war in Yemen and the ever growing refugee crisis all over our the globe – the universe lead me to them and now I have made it my mission to be involved in these plights and as insurmountable as each situation seems, the people who I meet spiritual beings just like me whose only prerequisite is that we care, the acts of kindness I have witnessed make me hopeful for peaceful resolution, make me feel hopeful for our communal human experience, make me feel like maybe just maybe 2017 might be a bit of alright.

Happy New Year. May your 2017 be perfect and blissful in every way.

Sat Nam

And… Award season has began and I have but one word Moonlight. Moonlight is a raw, thought provoking, emotional, graceful, important experience. Moonlight reminded me that great cinema is about the storytelling. Moonlight deserves every award it has won and will win. Moonlight is not for everybody but everybody should see it. Moonlight ~ step into the light, witness the magic and be transformed  Every time I hear of oldies coming back I feel this nervous excitement. I want them back but I want them back good and preferably with the same original line up. I remember seeing Duran Duran live once with just Simon and Nick, it was just wrong without John, Roger and Andy. Then there was Bewitched the movie version, okay original line up was impossible but to leave out key characters and go completely off script was a dumb move. So it was with nervous excitement I awaited the Cold Feet and Gilmore Girls revivals (thankfully both were perfect in their warmth and nostalgia) and it is with nervous excitement I await Twin Peaks but if truth be told when you have been waiting 25 years for more like I have, nothing could actually stop me from returning to Twin Peaks because even when David Lynch is not good he is still kind of brilliant  I really really really did not want to write this year about the above mentioned man-child nor about loss, 2016 had far too much of both. I had every intention to go forward with that which makes my heart sing but as I have already spoken of the former I might as well go the whole hog as it would be remiss of me not to mention George Michael or my husband, as he was referred to in my circles growing up. Precious George, Its done then, god gave you the voice of an angel a generous heart and the most tormented soul. Ever since standard four you have been there with me through all the key moments in my life; when I needed to dance you had the moves when I was torn you helped put me back together. And even though I knew this day was coming here I am completely torn you are not in my orbit anymore and this time you can’t heal me, not right now anyway. Does it feel good to be free at last? I hope you can see how much love there is for you. Thank you macushla for the trail of magic you created, you sing with the angels now #HeavenSent #HeavenStole


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rage, rage against the dying of the light

believeThroughout this past year I have had the unpleasant experience of being trolled on Twitter. The first time it happened I went all Norma Rae telling all and sundry I was not going to stand for it: I complained to Twitter about the vicious and inappropriate nature of the comment and then I committed the cardinal sin – I replied back. I let the troll know in a few choice words that they had no business talking to me so rudely and that I was someone to be reckoned with and they would be sorry. I meant every word. More! Fool! Me! Alas, what ensued was a back and forth which only succeeded in fuelling the troll and upsetting me further (with Twitter doing bugger all). What did I do! What else could I do! I stopped engaging and blocked the troll (needless to say this was not my Lifetime movie moment). 

Here’s the thing though, trolls are like pimples on a 14 year old’s face. You can witch hazel them out but the fuckers just keep coming back – different troll, same degree of meanness. Still I learnt to not feed the beast and jog on, it helped that I have strong conviction about who I am and what I believe in. I have always believed power comes from speaking the clearest truth and I am happy to speak up for what I believe in, as Martin Luther King Jr said “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” So at times when I have felt blue about the sheer awfulness we human beings are capable of I kept my eyes on the prize and focused on that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Well as we all know the prize was not won and that light has somewhat dimmed, in actual fact in the last few weeks I haven’t been able to see it at all. For a Sagittarian that is a hard place to be, I am by nature a glass half full person but I was shocked into silence. I remain in shock. It is impossible for me to fathom that after Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, F.D.R., Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, Obama now comes this orange anus – I can’t even bring myself to say it’s name. I won’t. This was not just an election to me. I am not American, most of what will come into policy and be administered will not affect me. What frightens me the most is that we have witnessed the debasing of our values, ideals and dare I say of our very souls, hate has been given hope – the trolls are winning. This is a dangerous precedent to set for all of mankind.

Still what is done can’t be undone (or can it? Recount? Mental assessment on ability to govern? Jailable scandal?)
And even though we – the sane majority – lost this one, what I have seen in these last few weeks is that we are stronger together.
And together we have much work to do.
Now is the time we roll up our sleeves and dig even deeper to constantly lean towards positive change.
For that is the way of a warrior.
We never give up.
To quote Dylan Thomas we do not go gentle into that good night.

For one day our time will come.
I still believe this.
One day.

Sat Nam

And… Bookended by the death of my beloved David Bowie and the election of the most awful example of a human as leader of the free world – 2016 the year of loss I only have one thing to say – fuck you 2016!


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freaking out in this moonage daydream

blogI only have one rule when it comes to writing for this blog, I have to be able to feel my way through the words but this time for the first time ever my thoughts refuse to unscramble.

And it shouldn’t be this way. As a woman, as an activist and as a long time supporter I am supposed to wax lyrical about my girl Hillary making the biggest crack in that glass ceiling. Instead I find myself gravely concerned about that orange megalomaniac from the other camp. It is not a joke anymore, he is not the Manchurian candidate, this reality show just got real – the man who in the last week incited another country to commit a crime (yes hacking is actually a criminal offence you stupid oompa loompa) this man could very really be elected President of the United States come November 8. Can you imagine the nuclear codes in those tiny hands. To this point I am clear but from here I come undone.

Talking to his supporters is like talking to a religious person in my experience. I find religion freakish so put a religious person in front of me and I immediately start to question their religious commitment, can’t help myself. Apart from an early experience at my Catholic college – where I would frequently debate dogma with Sr. Marcellin  (she would explain to me why Mary was her home girl and I would declare her brainwashed, I even called her Sr. Brainwashed once, got me detention but she was and still is the coolest nun you could ever meet, those were great existential talks we had) – apart from Sr. Marcellin I have yet to find one person who has been able to explain their belief to me outside of a sound bite. And we know who else speaks in sound bites don’t we.

The main sound bite from that camp ‘he’ll bring back jobs’ great I like the sound of that. . . but just a thought considering that every one of his businesses employs people in other countries and that he has yet to lay out any of his policies; apart from employing people to build that wall where exactly do these jobs come from? Valid question I would think no? But try asking one of his supporters oh my.  .  . the venom that gets spouted back, it is just as well I have thick skin, even so I don’t understand how people can be so narrow-minded I really don’t.

I like Ivanka, she appears to be a liberal, well-mannered, well-informed savvy businesswoman and I think to myself he created her and they enjoy a great relationship so this shows a sliver of sane right? So can he really be this ignorant? this hateful? Is he really so up his own arse that he actually believes he is the only one who can fix America? A man who has failed business ventures, been declared bankrupt many times, who refuses to share his tax returns, whose stepford wife has been caught out for plagiarism and faking a degree; a man who throws tantrums when reporters don’t pander to him, who encourages violence (and now hacking), who couldn’t care less about the need for unisex toilets, a man who admires Saddam Hussein and is blatantly buddying up with Vladimir Putin, a man who would never let the truth get in the way of a good story and who has yet to share one single strategy but has voiced his opposition to the free market, open borders and liberalised trade. Is this the man to be trusted with nuclear codes? Really America? You do realise that we, we being the rest of the world apart from maybe oompa loompa’s new bestie Putin, you do realise we think you are completely bonkers to have let this troll come this far.

Like her or hate her you want Hillary as your next Commander in Chief. Come on America do the right thing, just think of those nuclear codes.   .  .

Sat Nam

Also…  After her appearance on Carpool Karaoke and that speech at the DNC I have the hugest crush on Michelle Obama but then who doesn’t, simply put Michelle and Barack are good people. Back in 2008 across the pond I stayed up all night and cried when Barack was elected, and on the day of his inauguration I celebrated with American embassy staff drinking a lot of champagne and while much is said about what he didn’t do he has achieved more; during his time he got America through the GFC, legalised same sex marriage and millions who would not have access otherwise now have healthcare – these are not small feats but what I consider his biggest achievement to be is that Barack today is the same Barack he was eight years when he accepted his party’s nomination – he is a man of integrity, trust, decency and kindness, as I think back to the Presidents in my time (and I go back all the way to Nixon) I can’t think of another who embodies all of these traits so thank you Barack and Michelle for the role models you are. And finally for the last time, happy birthday Mr President (for Thursday) #YesYouDid ♥ while I am on this who run the world path, I have a further dream for the end of this year once Hills is elected Madame President, come December I would hope to see another first for a female, that being Helen Clark as UN Secretary-General. Full disclosure her being an ex New Zealand Prime Minister and my twitter friend make me a tad bias but like Hills she has 20+ years in service incl. the last seven as Administrator of UNDP, she’s a goodie and she deserves this role. Helen Clark UN Secretary-General, sounds good to me even Australians think so ask Kevin Rudd #KiwiTopDog ♥ November is already my fav month as its my birth month but this year its fit to bursting; with the election of my girl Hills and now the icing on the cake, the Netflix gods have announced the Gilmore Girls revival is to drop November 25th – two days after my birthday – the universe REALLY does have my back. #TeamJess #BestBirthdayPresentEver #aLittleTeamLogan ♥ I am lucky to have experienced two Olympics in my lifetime – Sydney 2000 and London 2012, let me tell you if you haven’t had the opportunity, it is the time of your life. It is like the rest of the world doesn’t exist and for those two weeks all you care about is watching excellence, meeting people from around the world and soaking up the atmosphere – its a love in and in the world we live in today boy do we need this. Sending out a prayer to Rio for a happy and safe Olympics, may the spirit of the games inspire all participants to greatness, especially the teams that speak to my heart Team New Zealand, Team GB and Team Refugees.


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a love story

For those old enough – do you remember playing elastics at interval when you were at school? Do you remember the ditty that went along with it? ‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, inside, outside, puppy dogs tails.’ This is what went through my mind as I learned of the EU referendum result.

The possibility of this foursome splitting up saddens me.
The chaos that has ensued since the vote was counted saddens me.
Brexit saddens me.

I am a faux Brit. I am a kiwi but I am also a faux Brit, to know me is to know I love all things British. For tis the land where Charlotte Bronte wrote my favourite book, the land where two magnificent queens called Elizabeth have reigned, the land where buildings and bridges tell stories, the land where great plays were written, a land where history is made over and over and over again, the land where all the great Banks congregate to do big business, a land from whence came the likes of Shakespeare, Judi Dench, Malcolm McLaren, Captain James Cook, Alan Turing, David Attenborough, Christopher Hitchens, John Lennon, Margaret Thatcher and my beloved David Bowie, it is a land that likes to tea, it is the land where for a time I got to live in the same city as Madonna, a land of many accents none of which I can do faithfully and it is the land where I found the love of my life.

My sadness for the current discombobulation that has taken over my adopted country is about the themness of the Brits, this is what I fell in love with when I was a youngin in New Zealand singing ‘god save the Queen’ at school assembly or while watching Coronation Street with my grandma or when pouring over Mothercare catalogues my mother would have sent to her. That pulsating heartbeat that beats throughout the land. What I fear most with Brexit is the loss of this feeling – economies adapt, politicians come and go, Europe will survive – but this feeling once altered or lost can never be got back. The Brits must never lose the themness of them, take it from this faux Brit who knows she will never be able to capture it no matter how much she will keep on trying.

Sat Nam

Also… I don’t understand the brouhaha about the new Top Gear, I thought this was a show about cars, why then does it matter who is driving them! If you had the misfortune of interacting with Jeremy Clarkson like I did when we were stuck together receiving treatment by the same specialist you would find him an odious man who thinks a bit too much of himself, he is not a man to be admired #Joey TribbianiCanActuallyDrive ♥ 2016 the year of loss continues. Elie Wiesel has been described by President Obama as “the conscience of the world” which is apt as he helped to develop mine. I read his book Night when I was a teen, in all honestly it is an awful read, gut wrenching in the way a book about life in a concentration camp could only be but reading this seminal work planted the activist seed in me and it continues to burn bright. If you don’t know who Elie Wiesel is please take the time to give this Holocaust survivor the respect of reading his work or at least one of the many obituaries that have been written in recent days. This man mattered. Elie Wiesel you mattered to me. I will end with his words that seem very appropriate for this world we live in today ‘We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’


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i’ve never seen a rainbow i didn’t love

blogcolour

This past weekend was bookended by the very best and the very worst of humanity. It feels like all I have done this year is mourn. From 10 January (the day I lost my beloved Starman) through to today there has been a steady flow of tears… as I type this I am listening to Anderson Cooper list the names of those beautiful SOULS who lost their lives at Pulse nightclub, as his voice falters my tears have blinded me… I can’t. I’m just so tired of my heart breaking over and over and over again.

The vicious senseless act that transpired in the early hours of Sunday morning in Orlando has fuelled me with anger, remorse and deep deep sorrow. I have been a champion of the LGBT community for over thirty years (part and parcel being a Madonna lover). I have many friends in this community so I have always known the bigotry actually lets just call it what it is – HATE – I have always known the hate that has been endured. There have been times in my life when I have struggled and it was this community that helped me find my way so I will love, honour and protect this community till the day I die.

The US has a gun problem. The rest of the world sees it. Most Americans see it. But there are others NRA hardliners and extreme right wingers who don’t seem to and yet they hold the lives of their entire nation in their hands. I thought for sure after Sandy Hook there would be real change. The correct reaction to children being massacred would surely be to ensure it never happened again but no it wasn’t to be and mass shootings have increased in the time since. As someone who comes from New Zealand and who has lived in Australia it is hard to understand why the US cannot adopt some kind of variation of these countries’ gun control legislation; legislation that both countries amended back in the nineties when they each experienced a similar type of senseless act. Some twenty years later both countries are proof that robust gun control legislation works.

And yet, yes the US has a gun problem.
But the planet has a HATE problem.
And where there is hate, violence can always find a way. Guns or no Guns.
And we can put this atrocity under the umbrella of religion, terrorism, radicalisation but there is only one actual reason it happened – Bad Parenting.

Too many people think their job as a parent is done if they feed, clothe and school their children; but giving them the confidence to be themselves, teaching and showing children generosity and kindness and how to communicate effectively, to love, respect and tolerate ALL life regardless of race, creed, gender, shape, who one chooses to love – inclusive of all creatures and mother earth – this is good parenting. I am a child of Indian descent, I know the specific homophobia that exists for people of the diaspora, it is a hostility that is deeply rooted in the culture. I have friends who still today cannot be honest about who they are to their families. This will not change until we attack the root cause.

Hatred of any kind is a choice.
A child is taught to love.
A child is taught to hate.
The seed is planted at a young age.

If one lacks the appropriate parenting and does not know their own mind, lacks confidence, is disillusioned they are open to being brainwashed by religion, terrorism, radicalisation whatever you want to call it, and as this seed gets watered regularly it grows and the reality is you reap what you sow. Hate crimes will not stop until we grow a different seed.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this weekend for me began with seeing the very best of humanity – Muhammad Ali’s interfaith memorial. This colossus of a man wished for his passing  – as he had his life – to be a teaching moment. If you saw the service you will understand how magnificently he achieved this, if you haven’t I beseech you to watch it, listen to the words and let the sentiment wash all over you for this is how you plant a different seed.

To my brothers and sisters of the LGBT community you forever have my heart; to steal words said so eloquently on Sunday by Lin-Manuel Miranda “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. Cannot be killed or swept aside.” And nor shall it be.

Sat Nam

Also… Muhammad Ali – what a gift of a man – the one person on this planet who transcended race, religion, gender to unite all in their love and respect for him. There is no one left who comes close to achieving this. On a personal note, I owe him gratitude for because of him and his wondrous life I achieved my highest mark in all my academia when in college I did a History paper on his civil rights contribution. It was a joy to research him. It was a joy to listen to him riff. It was a joy to watch him in and out of the ring. Muhammad Ali – a masterclass in what it means to be human and so pretty too. To have lived in your time, how lucky am I #IamAli #G.O.A.T. #AliBomaye ♥ And so the BREXIT campaign enters into the last week, it’s been a minefield figuring out the right way to vote – you only have to look at Greece and Portugal to see that austerity has not worked and that the EU has completely failed to deal with the refugee reception crisis yet being in the EU is like being a part of a cosmopolitan club with trade, employment and travel benefits #ShouldBritainStayOrShouldBritainGo ♥ And my girl Hills – Whop Whop the FIRST WOMAN to be a major party’s nominee for President of the United States. Proving there is no ceiling too high to break. Next stop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue #I’mWithHer #Hillary2016


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see – Paddington

paddingtonWhat is it they say, inspiration can hit you anytime anyplace, well that certainly rang true for me over the weekend while I was watching the film Paddington (for the umpteenth time). There I was thinking how Ben Whishaw’s dulcet tones are perfect for the voice of Paddington much better than Colin Firth’s would have been (he was originally cast) when I had an inspired thought into why my cinema tastes have changed in the last few years. 

Of late I had noticed that I don’t have the same stomach I used to have for much of the cinema ware that is on offer today but I never really considered how this came about until Paddington. As a child Paddington and the Wombles were my happy place. I have this very vague memory of a birthday party – maybe my third or fourth – that had a mixed Paddington/Womble theme. It was memorable mostly because I was gifted a Paddington Bear and a duffle coat of my own; the coat was worn to death, even when it no longer fit I would try to pour myself into it until one day it mysteriously disappeared and reappeared on my cousin (my mother swore it wasn’t my coat but I have never been convinced).

And while the coat might have gone walkies, Paddington always remained ever dear to me. In fact one of my first to-dos when I landed in London as an adult was to visit Paddington station and pay homage at the statue of him – I wasn’t overly impressed by it (far too small) but out of nostalgia it had to be done and nostalgia was what drove me to the cinema to see the film a year ago. I have seen it many times since, I can’t help it – Paddington has become my happy place again. Cinema has always been a means of escapism for me. The 90 or so minutes I watch something I want to be absorbed into a world different from the one I live in. I think because we live in these precarious times, I am choosing more and more not to expose myself to negativity where I can, like in the films I watch and this film with its loveable central character and rather twee story is the perfect anecdote.

And yet as lovely and family friendly it is, it is also entirely appropriate for today with its central theme of tolerance and acceptance the film strikes a palpable chord within all of us – for Paddington is a refugee. You know this of course if you grew up reading the Michael Bond books (do children today read Paddington?) if you did then like me, you are familiar with Paddington’s journey from deepest darkest Peru to London and you remember the note attached to his coat that read “Please look after this bear. Thank you” and how he eventually found a home with the Brown family at 32 Windsor Gardens. If you know this then also like me you have most likely embraced the talking ursine with an endless capacity for getting into trouble into your life. How could you not! It’s always the naughty ones we love best.

Paddington – a joyous and witty film about a bear called Paddington who has a penchant for mischief and marmalade, for kids of all ages especially really BIG kids who might need reminding that xenophobia has no place in our world. The perfect activity to while away a few hours during the Christmas hols. The added bonus is Nicole Kidman, who plays a kinky stiletto heeled taxidermist, the villain in the piece. She looks like she’s having the time of her life in the role.

Sat Nam

Also in the news: I would like to know whose smart idea it was to release Star Wars: The Force Awakens the week before Christmas! Boxing Day releases are bad enough but in Christmas week! Seriously! It is going to be a good ten days before I get to go by which time save for a social media blackout I’ll know too much #NotHappy #theForceAwakens #theForceisStrongwithThisOne ♥ Something I can get behind 100% is the climate change deal. See what can be achieved when we unite as a planet. The world has set itself a serious goal now that a deal has been agreed in Paris, its historic, its ambitious, its time – let us hope this momentum continues into the new year for this is not our planet to pillage and there is no time to lose #COP21 #ClimateChange #GlobalCitizen ♥ As loathed as I am to mention the thing that is Donald Trump, I have this theory about him: I am of the thinking that he has been recruited by the Clintons. Think about it; he is/was friends with them (they even went to his last wedding) and he was a Democrat once upon a time. Any thinking person knows the GOP has become a joke, that their hatred for the President has overshadowed their love for their country thus thwarting what could have been an inspirational residency for Obama. The rise of the Trump has potential to not only get my girl Hils into the Oval Office but to tip the balance of Congress in favour of the Democrats because heaven forbid he win the nomination who in their right mind would vote for the Republicans. Yes the more I think about it, the more brilliant it is, it’s like the Manchurian Candidate has leaped from the screen into real life. What else could possibly make sense of the vitriol that comes out of his mouth, the alternative is just too awful to contemplate #Hillary16 #ImWithHer ♥ And lastly I appeal to you dear Reader. I pray you never become a refugee. I pray you never have to flee your country with nothing more than the clothes on your back. I pray you never have to leave behind your home, your pets, your burgeoning career or business. I pray you never lose loved ones by torture, or missiles or drowning or malnutrition. I pray you never have to spend an European winter in a tent. I pray you never find yourself hopeless in a foreign land not knowing the language and scared because you don’t know what is to become of you. I pray all this for you but most of all I pray, that god forbid should you become a refugee, that you experience the very best humanity has to offer – kindness and compassion and love. This is my prayer for you and I appeal to you as you get busy buying Christmas presents for loved ones, PLEASE spare a thought for our fellow refugee brothers and sisters; who were once like you and I – doctors, lawyers, shop-keepers, bankers, business owners, drivers, architects, students, care free school children – who ARE human beings and PLEASE show you care what happens to them and donate what you can PLEASE #RefugeeCrisis #PleaseGiveHere #SpreadASmileOfJoy #WeAreAllRefugees

akiwigirlabroad wishes you peace and so much love Merry Christmas xxx


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for Eve and for Adam

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When I first started this blog, I knew one day I would write about Eve and Adam, two people who are no longer with us but who deserve to be remembered not least for the impact they made on my life.

Once upon a time in the 80s there was a little girl called Eve who had been born premature and one of the life-saving blood transfusions she was given at birth infected her with a then little known virus. Unfortunately she lived in an ignorant country where, because of the stigma attached to this virus, people would cross the road to avoid being in close contact with her and they made it difficult for her to do normal kiddie activities like going to kindergarten. This prejudice eventually led to Eve and her family moving countries to somewhere she would be embraced and know nothing but love.

The ignorant country was Australia, the welcoming country was New Zealand and the little known virus was HIV. Eve would live till she was eleven and half and in her short lifetime she would touch many hearts including that of Princess Diana and mine. I never got to meet Eve but I collected stories about her from magazines and would watch her television interviews because back then I guess you could say she became the unofficial face of HIV/AIDS in New Zealand.

It was because of Eve I gave a speech on AIDS to my form two class, it was 1986 I was twelve and I remember writing with a thick black marker pen ‘AIDS’ by my name as my speech topic. I’m not sure why I felt compelled to choose it except that I knew Eve had been treated badly and that there was a stigma attached to this illness which I didn’t understand – my logic then (and still) was someone was sick they needed to be helped and loved no matter what. As for the speech, I had to have most of what I ended up saying, first explained to me by my aunt who was a nurse; imagine being that young and trying to understand the workings of the immune system and male coupling (I didn’t even know about heterosexual sex and here I was learning about male on male action!) After this informative and somewhat shocking education, I had to recite my finished speech in front of my teacher and headmistress so they could deem it appropriate before I was allowed to give it in front of my class. To both their credit they didn’t censor me at all, in fact they were both really encouraging.

I have often wondered if, because of this encouragement and my aunt’s thorough explanation, that is why I never got caught up in the controversy of HIV/AIDS, because haters were all around me, remember this was in the 80s when there was very little known about it, no cure in sight, very little funding provided by governments around the world to find a cure yet millions of people dying – which combined created widespread ignorance. I remember this one DJ on the radio who without fail whenever he played a WHAM song would follow up with ‘and that was by We Help AIDS Multiply,’ wonder how his life turned out, karma’s a bitch.

To this day that speech I gave is the one I am most proud of and I have given a fair few in my time. In hindsight knowing how much intolerance there has been and still is with HIV/AIDS, I am proud that I stood up against the haters. Because of Eve I would continue to be an advocate for the AIDS cause, and I still am.

♥♥♥

Then there was my Adam. Still feels wrong to use the past tense in regards to him. To know him was to know a very present person, his being filled every room he walked into. Adam and I met in our teens and we bonded over our love for Madonna, Basquiat, Keith Haring and Mapplethorpe. We would talk for hours about taking a trip together to New York to see the works of our favourite artists and watch Madonna perform at Madison Square Garden and we spent many a Friday night dancing away at Wellington staple Alfie’s. Our friendship grew distant when he moved to London to do his OE but we kept in touch via the odd letter – well letters from me. I think in the whole time he was away I got maybe three postcards from him. Then after four years away, he slipped quietly back to New Zealand and settled down to suburban life with his boyfriend. I caught up with him a few times but I had moved on in my life so our catch ups got rarer and rarer until they stopped.

About a year after having had no contact I bumped into his mother and I asked after Adam. She looked at me with such sadness that I felt a pang in my heart. She went on to tell me he was unwell and that he would love to hear from me. I can’t remember why but I didn’t make contact with him for another three months. When I did, he invited me over to his house and I remembering thinking it odd because we had never been to each other’s homes before, but the reason for the home invite became plainly obvious the second I stepped into his bedroom.

My friend Adam was a beautiful boy, he had modelled briefly in Europe that’s how beautiful he was on the outside and on the inside his soul was equally beautiful, he had such natural charm and gentleness. I think I was always a little in love with him. This was the Adam in my mind as I walked through his house not the man I saw lying in bed, so altered by illness, so frail I thought he would break when I hugged him, I was so shocked my grief caused my body to convulse. After many tears I learnt he was dying of AIDS. It remains one of the most surreal moments of my life. That night I slept beside him holding his brittle hand. I remember I kept waking up through the night to check if he was still breathing. He died less than three weeks later.

♥♥♥

I was twelve years old when I first heard of Eve’s plight and illness, through her I learnt social responsibility. I was in my twenties when my Adam died of AIDS and he is missed every day (every time I go to New York, it isn’t the same without him). For Eve and for Adam and for the others who are no longer with us and for those who continue to live in different stages of this disease I continue to be a wearer of the red ribbon and an activist for an AIDS free generation. #WorldAIDSDay #GlobalCitizen #WeCanBeatThis

Sat Nam