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 There is no historical reference we can learn from, we have never seen anything like this before.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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we could be heroes

I like the idea of a hero.
So I became one.
Not by plan exactly.
Nor by donning a cape and saving lives.
It was more like a series of events – known to you and I as living – that got me believing that I had in fact become a hero.

For as long as my memory serves me (and with my elephant memory it serves me very very well), from all the way back to when I was a wee thing I have had heroes: From real figures like my grandfather who immigrated to New Zealand from Gujarat, India with nothing but hope to provide better for his family, to my selfless, educated aunt the first feminist I knew, to Madonna one of the first people I felt a kindred spirit, to my form two teacher Mr. Emmins the first person to truly see me; to those heroes who reached me through history books Elizabeth I, Frida Kahlo and Steve Biko; to the heroes who lived only in stories Anne Shirley, Jane Eyre and Anne Elliot. And so on and on it goes, this amassing of heroes as I travel through this thing called life.

As is the case with heroes, my heroes have been feted and referenced often but until recently I never questioned the need for them. It took for these divisive times for me to think about this notion of heroes, and listening to my inner dialogue I realised I had created this otherness where my heroes lived. This is I think not an uncommon thought as when we think of heroes – they are people who create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive. We human beings are not given to consider how we ourselves create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive in our everyday lives. But we do.

Many of my heroes have transitioned in recent years – some of whom are known Madiba, Maya Angelou, Wayne Dyer, David Bowie and Elie Wiesel and others who are known only to those of us who basked in their light –  and as I became aware of this I had this moment where fear grabbed me. The fear that there is no one to replace them. This fear led me to call a friend for perspective, she said ‘we see in a hero something we think is not in us, so what do you see in your heroes?’ And hearing this was an ‘eureka’ moment. I was so busy looking for people to emulate I overlooked why I needed heroes in the first place. What had been lacking in my childhood that made me seek out people? And why have I kept up this practice throughout my life?

Having been on a journey of self awareness the answer was plain as day. Not only did I hold my heroes in high regard, I paradoxically saw myself on a much lower shelf. And these heroes I was collecting, all these people have had just the one role to play in my life. Of his character Juan in the film Moonlight, Mahershala Ali said he was grateful he got to play ‘a gentleman who saw a young man (Chiron) folding into himself as a result of the persecution in his community and taking the opportunity to uplift him and tell him he mattered, that he was okay and accept him.’
Each of my heroes throughout my life exist to uplift me, tell me I matter, that I am okay, to accept all of unique, crazy, geeky, energetic, resilient, compassionate, wonderful me.
Each of my heroes by example of their lives wills me to use my voice to live my purpose.
Each of my heroes has pushed me to be my own hero.

So could I be my own hero! Sounds rather ridiculous and self serving but I do know that my journey of self discovery from hitting rock bottom to getting back up again has been long, hard and full of sacrifice but to my betterment I am not the same person I was five years ago. I also know when I talk to my tribe they see in me my miracle but I have never given myself any credit for it. Another girlfriend has this one line she habitually says when asked for advice, ‘what would you say if it was me telling you this story?’ And when I think about my story there is a hero in there for it takes courage to change your life as I have done especially when you are surrounded by people who do not understand and choose to not join you at the finish line; but if you are fortunate to reach that finish line having become the person you were meant to be like I have, well that sounds like a hero to me.

And if I needed further proof of my heroness I found it last month at The Women’s March. To be part of this massive global consciousness, feeding off the vibrational energy of my fellow sisters and brothers as we came together to be our own heroes was one of the most empowering moments of my life so far.

So here I am – a hero or as my beloved Ms. Maya would say a SHEro, you won’t read about me in the papers or see me on the news, nor am I likely to be referenced in history books (although there is still time) but as long as I create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive I am my own SHEro and that is plenty good enough for me. The actress Viola Davis said it best ‘the fact that we breathe means we have a story.’

Sat Nam

 And… I am a week late but has to be said Superbowl51 was hands down the best game I have ever seen. Like everyone else going into the game I thought the Patriots had it, but then three touchdowns later I had swung the Falcons way. There was NO way the Patriots could win, to do so SO many records would have to be broken. They just couldn’t but holy mother of comebacks, they bloody did. They aren’t even my team but the Patriots have got me seriously rethinking my Green Bay allegiance #TomBradyYouLegendYou  The Women’s March, oh what we can create when we try. I’m always up for a universal love in and I see more of these moments to come as we try to make sense of this new order we exist in #IWasThere #Resist #Forward  I think I fell a bit more in love with Adele after her George Michael tribute at the Grammys, it takes balls to admit a fuck up but to have that fuck up broadcast live around the world is a whole different kettle of fuck up but I just know he was there willing her on. Bravo Adele you SO didn’t mess it up for him, he would have been chuffed to bits, and bravo on the 5/5 Grammy wins, love how you always keep it real. #GottaGetUpToGetDown  Still on the Grammys bravo to our Starman for Blackstar also winning 5/5, we love you and we miss you so ♥ And finally as we watch truth being murdered by the US predator-in-chief and his foot soldiers, can we all take a moment to say thank you to the immigrants in our families. My history at least four generations back is one of immigrants – my great grandparents, grandparents, parents all immigrants and I myself am an immigrant. Each generation has sought to better their life not weaken the lives of those in their new environments. TRUTH: Communities are built on the shoulders of immigrants and WE ARE ALL BETTER FOR IT #RefugeesWelcome #WeAreAllImmigrants #OneLove


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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