A Charmed Life


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always my princess

It was Sunday afternoon, I was stood with my mother in the carpark of Pak’nSave Johnsonville when I heard the news. I have no recollection of how I heard; might have been on the radio, or a fellow shopper but the words registered: Princess Diana was dead. All I remember after that is silence. The two of us loading the car with our groceries in silence, the wordless drive home, every now and then our eyes meeting in silent acknowledgement that it was true. The tears would come but for the next hour or so it was just silence. Shock in silence.

That was 20 years ago this week.
20 years! Looking back on my own life next month I hit my own 20 milestone, as it will be 20 years since I left New Zealand. I have lived a whole lifetime in that time, the world’s landscape has changed drastically and there is now an entire generation who know nothing about that Diana magic.

And she had that magic, there can be no doubt about that, she had IT whatever it is. She was my consummate princess from the moment I met her in February 1981 when she became engaged to her prince and for the next 16 years I was my mother’s willing accomplice in all things Diana. There are so many Diana moments throughout my life; from pouring over magazine articles, to collecting merchandise, watching the wedding (I was eight and it the first time I was ever allowed to stay up past midnight) to going to an exhibition in Sydney of her dresses, seeing Diana at Government House on the Royal tour of 1983 to paying my respects at the British High Commission in Wellington the day after she died and at Kensington Palace when I would later visit London.

She was worthy of it too – my love – our love. She was beautiful and she rocked a tiara, she was a people person and she cared deeply for humans especially the downtrodden, she loved her two boys and she brought them up to be compassionate AND she was as flawed as the rest of us and she never presented anything but, she was real and as such her death felt personal to millions of us, the global outpouring of grief we witnessed in the aftermath of her death is testament to that. And 20 years on her legacy continues on through her lovely dynamite boys William and Harry and the service they do particularly in their focus on difficult issues like AIDS and mental health.

That day at the British High Commission in the condolence book I wrote “I am heartbroken at this reality, gone way too soon beautiful Diana, you will be missed so very much, rest now angel” and as I am sat here writing these words thinking about her I am also reminded of the times we live in, and this thought crossed my mind – it isn’t so much that she is missed though she is, it is more that the world could do with more of her kind of caring right now.

Diana – the Queen of People’s Hearts, always my princess 1961-1997

Sat Nam

And… I am loving Twin Peaks, in my very bias opinion it is the BEST television to have graced our screens since… well since Twin Peaks screened 25 years ago but before this series started I was wary about how David Bowie’s character would be used if at all. I wanted Agent Phillip Jeffries to be included but casting another actor would have been a disservice to our beloved Starman, so bravo Mr Lynch for the dedication (S3 E14) and the inclusion of Phillip Jeffries  – superbly done in Twin Peaks style. Cannot believe its ending already, only two episodes left, oh my days!#andWhoistheDreamer  Okay so P!nk has always rocked but how awesome was that speech on Sunday.  If you haven’t heard it, please click here, we need to be hearing and speaking this kind of speak more and more for this is how love wins #WearetheChangeMakers And lastly sending prayers of blessing and protection for those in Mumbai and Texas. May all be guided to safety and may the rains be calmed by the hand of God #OneLove

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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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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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this kiwi girl muses about… being the other woman

I was having lunch with some girlfriends over the weekend talking about my current favourite topic the US presidential campaign and how stranger than fiction it has become. You know what I am saying right? Who would have thought, four months out from selecting a presidential nominee that that xenophobic arse trump would be the leading candidate for the GOP. It is better than any television show out there today, don’t you think?

Anyway there I was having yummy duck pancakes and glass of vino when the conversation moved onto Hillary/Bill and Monica and that milieu. While I stayed silent, for the next ten minutes or so the others proceeded to deride Monica, praise Hillary and ignore the guy that was involved. Then they turned to me, I suppose surprised that someone as opinionated as me had not had my two pence worth. I decided to not say what I really thought, I didn’t think that these smug marrieds would appreciate it.

BUT it has given me pause to think for… I once was the other woman. I am neither proud or ashamed of this. I say this now because it happened and it is a part of my story like Bill is a part of Monica Lewinsky’s. I have absolutely no regret that it happened, it changed my life forever and for that I will be eternally grateful.

My situation was similar to Monica’s in that I was in my 20s,  he was considerably older, essentially my boss (indirectly), and it started as a meeting of minds. It was through our conversations I fell for him (its all true, intelligence and power are complete turn ons). You don’t choose who you fall in love with, maybe initially but the actual act of falling in love has the ability to render one completely useless to logic and judgement. Certainly for me, I remember some perfunctory guilt in the beginning especially as there were partners (on both sides) and children (on his). I would keep repeating to myself (and to him) ‘there are kids’ ‘what the hell are we doing’ ‘is this wrong’ but once lust and wanting took over there was no turning back.

For what it was, during what it was I was happy and it never felt wrong but it wasn’t all rosy, when you get caught up in an affair there is a lot of subterfuge involved; the continuous lying not just with partners even with friends, plans being cancelled at the last minute, meeting up in hotel rooms is saucy for the first few times then its just not, and it also never felt long term. I knew it was an affair and I knew it would end. When it did end, it hurt by god did it hurt, I had fallen really hard and it took me a long long time to get over him but I am so happy I went there in the first place.

I believe in life if we are lucky we will meet people who will change our lives forever in a good way and this man – my lover (I love saying that) – was one such person. Our time together served its purpose in that it felt like I grew from being girl to a woman; it left me sexually empowered, confidant of my body and helped me to get clear on what kind of man I wanted to end up with. And I did care for him deeply. We are no longer in touch but I still wonder every now and then how he is. So definitely no regrets just fond memories.

Monica doesn’t get the luxury of this. She said once ‘I fell in love with my boss’ I wonder if she can still recall that love when she thinks back to that time. When TED published her talk ‘The Price of Shame’ last year the comments they received were the most negative they had ever got; Monica was called a slut, a whore, her character attacked as well as her appearance, her choices, her right to live even, people made crude jokes about sucking dick and wrote that she deserved the shaming. This to me is very telling of what the last nearly twenty years of Monica’s life has been like. She has been a bum note every time someone mentions Bill Clinton. He has gone on to live his exemplary life, she has struggled and I think it sad and wrong. I don’t appreciate my girlfriends judging her nor Hillary completely writing her off by calling her ‘a narcissistic loony.’ I would have more respect for Hillary if she were to show some kindness towards Monica and apologise for those comments – women knocking other women is just ugly. Coincidentally as this goes to be published it has occurred to me that it is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the achievement of women; we have enough to fight for don’t we? We need to be lifting each other up – supporting the sisterhood not turning on each other.

I am not excusing what Monica and Bill did. I recognise cheating, having an affair is wrong in principle but having been in that situation all I absolutely know for certain is nothing is black and white and you cannot judge someone until you walk in their shoes. To my smug married girlfriends who read this, this is just my two pence worth that’s all.

Sat Nam

Also in the news: I want to riff on the US elections a little bit more to say even though I am a socialist at heart and commend the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyns of this world for raising very important issues, in this very confusing time I am also a realist, that is why Hillary is my girl. Jane Fonda said of Hillary ‘She has always cared. She has always tried to make her life better.’ I like this sentiment. The world needs this sentiment. Not the dysfunction the Republicans bring. The rise of trump was funny at first, then – because I am a liberal – it was strategic now it’s just fucking scary. This guy doesn’t care about the white blue collar worker who votes for him, he doesn’t care about the people in Flint, Michigan having access to clean water, he doesn’t care about planned parenthood initiatives and he certainly doesn’t care about faraway wars. He doesn’t care, his ego is through the roof right now, all he wants to be able to say is he won, he is the President of the United States but then what? We would all be fucked that’s what. Well luckily we have Hillary to prove her version of LOVE can and will beat trump’s version of hate #LoveAlwaysWins #Hillary16 #ImWithHer ♥ Nine long years I have longed to be able to say this – I am going back to Stars Hollow, thank you thank you thank you dear Netflix gods. My favourite show ever ever ever Gilmore Girls is coming back for four more episodes this year. First it was Twin Peaks, now this I’m about fit to bursting and to return the same year Hillary is running for President is just precious. I won’t be surprised if Rory has some hard core White House credentials by now and it makes sense she would want to be involved in Hillary’s campaign. Any which way they come I am so ready to consume the quick snappy banter of my favourite mother and daughter duo all over again #GilmoreGirls #NetflixAndChill ♥ In my volunteer work as a mentor I meet refugees, under my remit I don’t always get to know their stories but occasionally where appropriate some have opened up about their ordeal. Their opinions seem to matter so little as the bureaucrats of this world tug the problem out, but they have an incite which should be considered. I have long been concerned about the children caught up in this, especially the unaccompanied – they need clothing, education, guidance and love and they need it now before they become prey to traffickers and before the psychological damage they have already suffered gets worse  and what angers me is that there is a solution as told to me by one of my mentorees – many of these children have families they can go live with. For example in the migrant camp in Calais approximately 150 children in the camp have a legal right to reunite with their families in the UK. Why aren’t governments approving their passage and making this possible! With the crisis being as enormous as it is – surely it makes sense to fix the fixable immediately #RefugeeCrisis #WeAreAllRefugees ♥ There have been such loving tributes to David since he passed: Iggy Pop at Carnegie Hall, Gary Oldman and Ewan McGregor at The Roxy in LA, Madonna in Houston, Bruce Springsteen in Pittsburgh, Sinéad O’Connor in Chicago and the BRITs. All reverent in their own way, all a poignant reminder of how extraordinary he was; two months and he is everywhere still, the universal lovefest is nirvana for my soul. I hope you know you are so absolutely loved #DavidFuckingBowie I think you know.

 


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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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imagine

I am an emotional person. I feel very strongly about everything often to my detriment. I have never been able to see any kind of upset or joy and not feel affected. I’m a crier. Big time crier. I actually had to learn emotional intelligence to get a grip on my emotions, even still, at times life happens and I find I get lost in the emotion of it all. When I’m in that state there is no point in trying to write anything of consequence so I tend to stay away from that which leaves me raw for the purpose of this blog.

Today I’m breaking this rule.

Today I’m writing about something that is happening right now.

Today I need to be emotional, in fact we all need to be emotional.

‘Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too. Imagine all the people. Living life in peace…’

John Lennon was bang on with his vision of how the world should be. Just think how beautiful it would be if we made every decision with love. Utopian it maybe but, just for one second imagine how it could be. We are living in perhaps the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II and as global citizens we cannot plead ignorance, dwell on a feeling of helplessness nor think ‘it doesn’t affect me’ because on a human to human level it absolutely does affect us. Each and every one of us.

Who hasn’t had a visceral reaction to the image of three year old Alan Kurdi. This beautiful boy who drowned along with his mother and brother; leaving behind a father to now grieve this loss as well as having to cope with being a displaced person. It would break the best of us. This is just one story out of millions. I feel heartsick.

I don’t know the best solution to resolving this refugee crisis; there seems to be a lack of ownership globally, the work of NGOs like the Red Cross is being stretched by financial constraints and the political games being played and the band aid solutions that are coming out of everywhere are… well they’re band aids then what! All I know is that these people deserve to exist as much as you and I do and we have a moral responsibility to make sure this happens.

So bear with me, here’s where I get all whoo whoo. If what we speak about we bring about, it gives then if we focus on peace and love for our fellow brothers and sisters then it must be. So please let us raise our vibration because….

♥Prayer works
♥Meditation works
♥Mantras work
♥Hope works
♥Peace works
LOVE works is all that matters

AND If you can do so donate what you can; clothing, time, and of course much needed funds. There are so many reputable NGOs out there working miracles – Oxfam GB  Unicef UK  UNHCR US  NZ Red Cross  Red Cross Aus (you can click on any of these should you wish to donate now).

‘You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will be as one.’

I hope that day is today. Ubuntu. Human to human.

Sat Nam

Also this week: My very first spiritual/self help teacher Dr. Wayne Dyer has left us for his next adventure. In memory of him let me share a quick funny story about how this inspiring man came into my life. Many many moons ago my father paid for me to go on a motivation seminar, Dr. Dyer was a keynote speaker. Impressed with his words I bought his book. That night there I am all snugly in bed and excited to read my new book I pull it out of the carry bag it came in, imagine my shock when I read the title of the book Your Erogenous Zones. In those days I was very much an innocent I didn’t even know what a vibrator was, as such I was so embarrassed I hid the book away and didn’t pick it up again for years and when I did, I had to have a laugh… you see I had read the book title incorrectly it was actually called Your Erroneous Zones, which of course made so much more sense in relation to his presentation. D’oh! Anyway I devoured the book and became  a fan. I will miss the conversations between him and Abraham. I’ll let Dr. Dyer have the last word as its completely relevant to today’s post ‘I fill myself up with love, and I send that out into the world. How others treat me is their path: how I react is mine.’ #InstantKarmasGonnaGetYou 


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it takes all sorts

toxic

This topic was born out of my frustration with an individual in present day, but the more I think about it and write I find myself taking a trip down memory lane.

You know when you think about a person and there is generally one word that can sum them up like lovable aunt or graceful friend or in my case a nutcase (I’m kidding… well I hope I am). When I was little we had(have?) this family friend and the word that immediately comes to mind for this auntie, based on my interaction with her, is toxic. To my young mind every word that came out of her mouth was mean spirited, she was a proper mean girl.

To me personally she never missed an opportunity to knock my private school education, and to deride me for not being a real New Zealander for not learning Maori – the native language of New Zealand (both are kind of ironic as I explain later on) and I was always too skinny. It wasn’t so much what she said – because I always look back at my school days with delight and I am appreciative that my parents ensured I learnt Gujarati which is the language of my Indian heritage, and I like that I was skinny – but it was in her delivery, open hostility and it wasn’t only directed at me. She would throw her negativity out to everyone from what I remember and like a dog senses danger, as a child I knew to keep clear of her.

As an adult I have learnt you never know what a person is going through until you have walked in their shoes so it is not my intention to slight this person’s character. Besides she wasn’t all bad, one year after I had complained that Indians don’t celebrate Christmas properly, she threw me a Christmas party (with her husband as Father Christmas) and my Christmas present from them, a comprehensive atlas, was most treasured right into my late teens.

I use this auntie by way of illustration for toxic people are everywhere; they are family members, people we work with, people we socialise with and sometimes toxic people are us. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive pleasure from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. I know for a fact the toxic individual who inspired this post will read this and instead of recognising their toxicity, point to others who are.

A person is never all bad; a toxic person or a person who exhibits toxic behaviour is unhappy and when they are being toxic, they are in fight or flight mode. This unhappiness makes them lash out because they lack the awareness to say ‘I’m unhappy,’ ‘something’s not right here,’ or ‘help!’ It is my experience toxic people in addition to being deeply unhappy, live in fear and most likely lack emotional intelligence –  the toxicity that emanates from them is always about them. Even though being on the receiving end can be hurtful, it’s never personal. You will never change the toxic person, that they must do themselves, but you have a choice how you show up in any situation:

‘Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out.’

Limit the interaction. Actively limiting your physical distance from the individual is the easiest and most effective way to keep yourself from being directly affected. In recent years I’ve had to walk away from a longstanding friendship because I found the other party’s toxicity was pervading into my energy, making me feel all kinds of negative. It wasn’t that I hated her, it was that I loved me more. I chose me and I feel better for it. BUT when this is not an option:

Practice self awareness. Falling into their drama is fruitless but when you pay attention to your own emotional state, you can better equip yourself with the tools to deal with toxic people. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening and because toxic behaviour tends to be predictable, once you are able to maintain an emotional distance it becomes easier to see the patterns and manage the situation. You might need to stop and regroup or you might be fine to proceed, either way you will be in control. It’s tough not to react because it’s a human thing to do, but being self aware is key to keeping your sanity so it’s worth it.

Rise above the negativity. Toxic people defy logic, there is no reasoning with their crazy so there is no point getting caught up in the mix. Getting back to my auntie and those two examples I gave – me not speaking Maori and going to private school – well she herself was not born and bred in New Zealand and to my knowledge did not speak Maori AND imagine my surprise years later when I discovered she had sent her youngest child to private school. Seriously ignore the crazy and respond only to the facts.

Establish boundaries. Toxic people try to consume you and make you swim deep into their problems, but you have a choice to not join their pity party. If you set boundaries and decide when and how you will engage a toxic person, you can control much of the crazy. The trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will. Know when to engage. Know when to walk away.

Surround yourself with the right others. You don’t have to go it alone. Build your tribe, of people who support what you value and who support you in creating what it is you want.

It takes all sorts to make this planet of ours go round, every person teaches us something and toxic people are actually our greatest teachers, even if it is only to make us look at our own behaviour and understand better how we can raise our vibration.

Sat Nam


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embracing love

KeithHaringLike many of you, I feel heartsick thinking about the unconscionable loss of lives and the destruction caused by the earthquake(s) in Nepal. When tragedy like this happens I struggle with the ‘why,’ it churns over and over in my head until I feel like I’m going to burst. Of course what I think or feel doesn’t make the tragedy not exist so I know there is no point on dwelling, what is done is done, so I am trying to let go of the negativity and focus on embracing love.

Mother Theresa said ‘Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action’ and because I believe god is in the details I’ve compiled a quick list of ways to take responsibility for our own energy to embrace love (in addition to other goodies like meditation, prayer, being in gratitude…):

  1. Allow yourself a little extra sleep. I say this because sleep is something, as I wrote previously  I had to learn to appreciate. Now that I understand the value of sleep I actively try to get a little extra now and then whether it’s by going to bed a half hour earlier or sleeping in an extra fifteen minutes. I always feel better for it.
  2. Replace strenuous exercise with something less intense like yin yoga. I have an exercise regimen which I am very strict in following daily but I have learnt that is okay to have a day off but because it is not in my nature to do absolutely nothing, I find yin yoga to be a good substitute on these down days.
  3. Express yourself creatively. Dance and sing, get up and do your thing. When you are engaged in something fun and expressive you are less likely to stress and over-think.
  4. Tell someone you value “I want you to know you make a difference in my life. Thank you for being you.” It’s an instant feel good for the recipient and for you.
  5. Identify what you’re really seeking from technology. This is huge bugbear for me, for the growing reliance on technology does not sit well with me at all. I am pretty good at being disciplined about how long I spend online but I know there is still room to improve. There was time before Facebook and Twitter, it’s a bit hazy now but it did exist and it wasn’t so bad so whether it is acceptance, acknowledgment, or stimulation you are seeking from technology, switch off and look for ways to get that without logging on.
  6. Stop what you’re doing and look directly into their eyes when someone is talking to you. It is something I do naturally – maintain eye contact but increasingly in this age of smart technology it is getting rarer that I see people doing so with me. It’s not just good manners, it also makes you more appealing.
  7. Count successes. Coulda, woulda, shoulda… it’s human nature to think about what didn’t happen. Well I say Meh! to that and instead make a note of all the things you’ve done well, and give yourself permission to be proud instead of frustrated with what you haven’t done.

A special epoch in my life came many many moons ago when I shared a flat in London with one of my treasured friends and her partner (now husband). Looking back, we were very much like The Odd Couple for while we had a shared history (same school, same ballet class and a love of English literature), she loved to hoard and I so did not, and where I like routine she rocked a more boho vibe. Despite this, I am constantly reminded of the many lessons I learnt while we cohabited; for where I would reserve weekends for mundane tasks like house cleaning she would encourage me to:

  1. Be Together. She taught me to relax and enjoy each other’s company. One our favourite things to do on a Sunday was to veg on a sofa and watch the Eastenders omnibus or some obscure channel 5 show whilst drinking copious cups of tea.
  2. Go outside and immerse yourself in nature. With Hyde Park at our doorstep we used to frequent those grounds all the time. Before I was never one to like being near trees or grass but in this time I learnt how to make daisy hair bands and to love the feel of grass underneath my feet, dancing in the rain, laying like broccoli on the grass watching birds fly by and star gazing. What I didn’t realise at the time was I learning how to be mindful.
  3. Set aside some time to play. It probably speaks to our sensibilities but we did the most silliest of things; go out in our pyjamas, eat cake for breakfast, skip whilst holding hands and it was so much fun. As we get older and focus on the minutiae of life we tend forget what awful fun it is to stop thinking so much and be childlike. Okay you might look a bit naff on a swing but I bet you would have the time of your life swinging.

‘When we function from a place of positive energy, the world around us becomes more positive.’~Gabrielle Bernstein

In the spirit of this post today – embracing love  –  please join me in sending a kiss to the sky for our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives in Nepal (and in Tibet and India) AND spare a thought for a very courageous man… one Bruce Jenner. Never in this lifetime did I think I would ever say this but it seems that there is a redeemable member in THAT family. To Bruce, your bravery will save lives, sending so much love to you as you go about your journey to be who you authentically are.

Sat Nam


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but say a prayer – pray for the other ones

BandAid30I loved this song the first time around. That it was factually incorrect didn’t matter, I got swept up with the romanticism of it all; that this song was written as a response by someone heartbroken by the sight of millions of children starving to death and the lack of aid from governments around the world; that it brought together the Brit pop stars of the day – to see George Michael, Simon Le Bon and Paul Weller in the same room was such a joy for my eyes to behold; that they were singing about feeding the world.. well Africa, if you follow my blog, you know I love Africa so in every which way it could it pulled at my heart strings and I made sure I got a copy – the vinyl version.

The second time round I wasn’t overly enthused but I still bought a copy, only it was a cassette tape this time. Nor did I rate version 3.0 but kudos for trying to shake it up and yes I went along to my nearest HMV and bought a copy on CD.

This time round, I’m just not interested and even worse it has made me feel old; I don’t know my Pixie Lotts from my Paloma Faiths or Ellie Gouldings, and don’t even get me started on the guys… thank the Lord for a few oldies. And Tracey Emin’s unoriginal artwork is required why?

All the reasons that made me rush to buy original are totally gone save for one point, the most important – it is for charity. I love the idea of a charity single, if you are going to pay for music anyway, knowing your purchase is going to help someone who is in need is always a beautiful bonus, but you should like the song at least a little surely. Plea to Sir Bob ‘as much as I admire your commitment to Africa and totally agree to do something is better than the alternative, next time please please please write a new song; come this Christmas I will be listening to your original version as I have done for the last thirty years.’

If I do buy the new song, it will be via download and then I would have the four versions in four different formats: vinyl, cassette, CD and download. The world has changed much in thirty years and yet people in Africa still need our help. As a global citizen, please remember in this season of giving you can help stop the spread, please donate to an Ebola Outbreak Appeal if you can, I have included some links to make it really easy for you.

For UK: British Red Cross or Oxfam
In NZ – Save the Children
In Aus – Australian Red Cross

or you could buy the new version of the song and make up your own mind.

Sat Nam