A Charmed Life


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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… travelling

laters

I am currently sat amongst a pile of clothes preparing for my next trip wishing vehemently for a packing genie. Even though I have travelled a lot I have still not managed to learn the knack of packing and as such I find it the most laborious task. I do love to travel though, I risk sounding like a cliché but travelling – whether it be alone or with company, for work or pleasure – has bettered my experience of life and I have gained many valuable life skills while traipsing around the globe.

I am fortunate in that I have travelled practically from the moment I was born, that is par for the course when you are Indian with a South African mother and New Zealander for a father and a load of relatives and family friends scattered around the world. I learnt from an early age the need to be flexible and to adapt quickly when travelling; in my time I have endured an unplanned military enforced 48 hour layover (Addis Ababa), had snow cancelling flights (London to Toronto thrice), landed at the wrong airport due to an incorrect booking (Sandefjord instead of Oslo), been abandoned after missing the last train to my hotel after a Madonna concert and ended up spending the night in a railway station which locked its toilet doors through the night (Osaka), missed a flight due to the check in desk having the incorrect ESTA information (London to New York), ended up at the wrong wedding venue (Montreux) and in some very questionable situations (too many cities to mention). Its the nature of the beast with travel and all you can do is trust your gut and hopefully have a laugh about it.

One aspect I love about travelling is immersing myself in the local culture; from a young age my father instilled in me an interest in countries around the world. I could recite the states of America and all the English counties by age 6 as well as being able to state cities and their location on a map of New Zealand. Still today I can list the provinces of Canada, the five great lakes, every country and most of their capitals and political regimes around the world – all remnants from my younger years so I am inherently curious to see how other cultures exist. I have learnt a smile goes a long way as does communication – often there is a lot of hand gesturing, sometimes broken local tongue and sometimes like in the US – you be like ‘I can see your mouth moving, I think you’re speaking English but I have no clue what you are saying,’ but it is always appreciated.

Travelling with the right companion can be a lot of fun but sometimes good friends can turn out to be the worst travel partners as I learnt when I once travelled with a friend to Borneo. Although we did have some fab moments the trip was marred for me by her lack of an opinion – her general attitude was ‘whatever you want to do,’ lack of cultural sensitivity and at times lack of common sense, one time she left our hotel room while I was in the shower taking the room key – the key which only powered the room – leaving me to continue my shower in the dark with cold water. Then there was the first time I went to Bali with uni friends, a trip my girlfriends and I spent months planning each of us looking forward to a relaxing time after an exhausting uni year. Turns out their idea of relaxing was not quite the same as mine for they proceeded to spend our entire holiday pursuing men leaving me to beach, eat, sightsee pretty much on my own.

It wasn’t the girls’ trip we had planned but it turned out to be alright actually for I have realised as much as I love people, I do love my own company and as such travelling alone can be quite fun. I have the freedom to do exactly what I want especially as I tend to not love what everyone else does; take the Mona Lisa for example it was only on my fifth maybe sixth trip to Paris that I ventured to the Louvre. Seeing the da Vinci painting has never been of interest to me, not when there is so much else to do in the City of Light… rambling through Père Lachaise, sitting in cafes people watching, taking in exhibits at the Pompidou Centre, or the street art everywhere or… oh I could go on and on, I mean come on its Paris! I also quite enjoy the confronting situations travelling solo can present as it puts me in the way of new adventures and meeting new people. One of my most memorable nights came about on a work trip to Toronto when I found myself at a sports bar on the night of the Super Bowl (the year the Saints won), by the end of said night – which may or may not have been aided by a lot of beer – I had eaten my first chilli dog, hit a bullseye, danced a top the bar Coyote Ugly-style, learnt how to change a keg, and befriended many patrons and we still keep in touch today. That is the other plus with travelling the best moments happen when you least expect them.

Although… having fallen ill in Moscow, Zanzibar and Toronto, I can faithfully say being sick when travelling is the absolute worst.

Whatever the experience travelling is always an adventure and yet I think the most important lesson I have learnt from my travels is that it doesn’t matter where I travel to or where I call home, I come from a pretty cool corner of the world. This girl may be an abysmal packer but she is most definitely a very proud kiwi.

Sat Nam

Also…   still on the travel theme, one part of the world I have never been interested in exploring is the Middle Eastern region. As beautiful and rich in history it is, as a woman I have only held contempt for that oppressive part of the world but the refugee crisis has opened my mind and my heart to these people. You may have noticed through my previous blog posts that I have no respect for the Saudi Arabian regime. Their treatment of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nim is abominable. For the life of me it does not compute why the powers that be continue to have so much freedom from western and neighbouring countries when freedom is so little afforded to their own people. Okay I’m not a complete eejit I know there is money, oil, arms deals, sales of other defence equipment, education and prison reform contracts and such like ilk that comes into play at least I am assuming that is why the world has turned a blind eye to the situation the Saudi-lead airstrikes has created in Yemen for the past year. But here’s the bit I do not understand, if you wouldn’t sell arms to Assad in Syria, why is it okay to sell arms to the Saudis? Is Yemen to suffer like Syria has? When does it end? #DutyOfCare #GlobalCitizen #TheyCouldBeUS #WeCouldBeThem ♥ So another Bridget Jones movie is about to be released. One question ‘WHY?’ The second one has the dubious distinction of being the first and so far only movie I have ever walked out of. So I’ll ask again ‘WHY?’ #WantonSexGoddess – pleeeaaassse, excuse me while I puck ♥ In the last few months I have been following The Anonymous Revolutionary a blog by remarkable sixteen year old Max Edwards. In his blog Max wrote on the themes of Marxism, communism, their significance and their relevance today and at times, all of the time actually it was hard to believe it was written by someone so young such was his incite. To think of all this gifted lad could have achieved is heartbreaking for Max died on 26 March of the cancer that had been eating away at him. Though he be gone, his words remain, and you can read them here #MaxEdwardsWasHere #FuckYouCancer ♥ When I heard of The People vs O.J. Simpson I thought ‘WTF!’ Everyone knows the story, we saw it play out for real back in the day. The evidence was clear – he absolutely did it. I even made a bet with a fellow uni friend that he would get convicted, that is how sure I was. Well as history tells us I was wrong. I hadn’t banked on factors like racism nor the manipulation of the law that the defence team were clearly masterful at. It was a sore bet to lose because it was so bittersweet. Two people were murdered. The killer walked free. Yet like a voyeur I did watch the serial and I particularly enjoyed all the wig action STILL it blows that there has been no justice for Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and their loved ones. While I am talking about television I want to give a big up to Black Sails, having just binge-watched all three seasons over Easter. I have always been a bit partial to a pirate tale but this show with its strong plotlines, epic battles, steamy sex scenes and hot pirates (Toby Stephens still yummy after all these years) well it had me at Ahoy, there matey.


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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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the answer is always LOVE

Peace

All weekend I have been trying to make sense of the senseless and I have come up with nothing. Zilch. Nada for my woe so here I am stuck in this weltschmerz state of mind.

That human beings are capable of such awful atrocities towards their fellow brothers and sisters is not something I – a believer in all things peace and love – can even begin to comprehend AND yet here we are again AND we will be here again and again until… until what I don’t know. All I know is the world we have come to know, the times we are living cannot be changed by normal allopathic means. The time is upon us for that awakening. That energy shift. That big fat bloody miracle.

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’~Martin Luther King, Jr.

How many of us have been fortunate enough to fall in love with Paris, well now the time has come to fall in love again. Whatever you believe in; a god, the universe, an energy vibration, an ing (as I call it) or even if you have no belief system, believe this:  We – as the wonderseekers, global citizens, inhabitants of planet Earth, lovers of life – have a challenge before us, these attacks in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad seek to divide us. They aim to turn us into an us-versus-them society. We cannot allow this to happen nor can we rely only on the leaders of the world or ‘someone else’ to resolve this. The revolution of LOVE starts with you in every breath you take, every thought you think, every word you say, every prayer you pray, every action you make, every time you meditate – it’s on you. If I sound like I am repeating myself from other posts that is because the answer is always LOVE and I will keep going until I feel that seismic change which humanity needs in order to thrive.

So are you with me? If your answer is anything but yes – what is the alternative? Wait for that elusive someone or something else to heal our world and change your FaceBook profile picture every time something senseless happens. Solidarity matters but from where I’m standing it is not enough. I don’t think there is a choice. In the words of Michael Jackson and a legion of others ‘There comes a time when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one… We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones to make a brighter day so let’s start giving. There’s a choice we’re making, we’re SAVING OUR OWN LIVES…’ #LetsDoThis

Sat Nam

Pour tous mes frères et sœurs à Paris and to all my brothers and sisters in Beirut, Baghdad and in all the world amour et la lumière tant d’amour et de lumière pour nous tous love and light so much love and light for us all xxx (thank you to my father who insisted I continue with French lessons instead of taking up typing or computer studies at school – it has come in very useful in the last few days, merci beaucoup père)

Also in the news:  “No one puts children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” Home by #WarsanShire. As we have been told, the diaspora of refugees has had a causal impact in the Paris attacks as, at least one of the people responsible used the refugee route to get into Europe. How many more reasons does there need to be to resolve this crisis! #RefugeeCrisis #TheTimeisNow #GivePrayLove ♥ Adele’s new song meh! Yes she has a phenomenal voice and yes her previous work was fab but that doesn’t mean everything she sings is worthy of number one. I did enjoy seeing Dixon from 90210 in the video though #TooMuchHype ♥ Election victory for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. About time! I love the countenance of this woman, I feel peaceful when I look at her face, obviously this has nothing to do with her leadership but any person who sacrifices precious time with their dying spouse for the love of their country and its people gets my vote. #ItsFinallyYourTime #WhoRunTheWorld

 


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one size fits all

Do you think you breathe properly? I’m here to tell you, chances are you probably don’t, most likely you are a ‘shallow’ breather (as in you only use your chest). Unless you specifically seek it out, learning to breathe properly is not a life skill we are taught, mores the pity for breathing properly creates a positive domino effect in every aspect of your life and who’s saying no to that right?

I say this from experience for, it wasn’t until I took up meditation that I discovered a) just how lousey a breather I was b) the benefits gained in getting this breathing gig right; and as someone who suffers from anxiety I can’t tell you enough how this – to be able to apply a breathing technique to counterbalance any threat of a panic attack – has changed my confidence and all round mental health. The reason for this, as Yogis have always known and the medical profession finally agrees with, is because breathing is intimately connected to the autonomic nervous system and the mind. Don’t worry I’m not going to go into the science of why you should be using your diaphragm when you breathe or why breathing through your nose is much better for your health, that would be too much for a science dunce like me to explain, I’ll leave that for you to GOOGLE, instead I am just going to share my go-to breathing practice for anxiety.

Here goes:
♠Close your mouth. Breathe in through your nose counting to four as you inhale.
♠Hold your breath again counting to four.
♠Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of four.
♠Pause for four.

This is one breath. Repeat the cycle as the practice gains in power with repetition. Continuing this breathing for one minute or for four full breaths is good start for a beginner. As you improve you can increase your counts to six then eight and your body will tell you when you are ready to stop.

This one size fits all tool has served me well. It’s easy once you get the hang of it AND it really works in alleviating stress and restoring calm AND it is so handy to have up your sleeve, ready to use whenever wherever you are aware of any internal tension.

Sat Nam

Also this week: My favourite instagram follow HUMANSOFNY is currently sharing stories from refugees in Europe/Middle East. I urge you to read/follow if you haven’t already, en masse the crisis feels daunting and impersonal but reading these individual stories provides context – feel your stomach clench in knots and the tears roll down your cheeks – its hard to digest but it’s real and if it projects you into doing something proactive to help PLEASE DO #HealtheWorld #MakeItABetterPlace • As a rule I am anti religion, spiritual yes but religion can go do one as far I’m concerned but this Pope Francis he seems a bit alright; progressive and remorseful in all the right places #ImaStMarysOldGirl • And at the very other end of the progressive spectrum – this Putin guy, I don’t get his motivation at all. If I ruled a country I would push my country to thrive in all areas. Putin has done the opposite over and over; LGBT rights, freedom of the Press, Ukraine, Syria and okay you hate America but learn to communicate in English effectively – seriously you’ve been around too long not to, surely that must be a prerequisite for world domination 101.  #WhatWouldTolstoyThink • RWC15 the All Blacks are through to the quarter finals, no surprises there. I won’t say anything about England except that I was gutted #ImaFauxBrit but #aRealProperKiwi #goABs


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my favourite ‘bit’

What would be the point in having my own blog if I didn’t indulge in my favourite things now and then AND because I want to spread some cheer today I’m sharing my all time favourite ‘bit’ of cinema with you. This ‘bit’ only lasts two minutes and twenty five seconds and is nearly fifty years old; and recently I was thinking wouldn’t it be fun to see it again which in the age of you tube means there is no reason why that couldn’t happen but for whatever reason I didn’t actively seek it out, instead the universe provided the opportunity when, late one night rendered unable to sleep I switched on the tele and there it was – the very scene from the film To Sir, with Love which I hold so dear.

When you think of warm and fuzzy childhood memories you never really know if the reality is as good as the memory you hold. The first time I saw this movie, I was home sick from school. I remember feeling very snug lying in my parent’s bed sipping milo, flicking channels until I found this film. The film itself is really pretty rubbish – acting is average, story so so and Lulu’s hair and voice grates on you after a while, it falls into the same bucket as Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, The Ron Clark Story; where a teacher begins new job teaching a tough class and through the course of the story inspires the students to turn their life around. For whatever reason I persevered through it and to my delight I discovered this gem of a dance scene towards the end of the story. Over and over I can watch this ‘bit’ and still get the same pleasure out of it as I did that first time. I know the scene so well now, that I can dance the scene as Mr Thackeray or as Pamela to the letter.

Why do I love it so? Well there is the distinctive music, dance, and fashion which encapsulate my vision of Britain in the 60s, an era I love. There is the Sidney Poitier element. This was the movie that introduced me to him and he is so fine in this scene. There is this innocence and hope; a teacher willing his pupils to believe in themselves like he believes in them and a student ready to bloom. AND best of all there is happiness. I think that is why I treasure it, it is a happy moment and it makes me tingle with happiness to watch it. Have a look and let me know if you think it is completely naff or if it made you want to put on your best mod outfit and get into the groove.

Sat Nam

Also this week: Continuing to keep the refugee crisis foremost in our minds because knowing about something doesn’t change it. After the compassion explosion a few weeks back, the situation remains the same for too many so sign petitions, attend peaceful protests, donate, pray… whatever you can – just DO #LetsgetTogetherandFeelallRight #OneLove • Meryl Streep I love you, when you talk, I listen. Not sure my heart bleeds for you only earning eight million compared to Robert Downey Jr.’s 80 million in the last year, talk about first world problems BUT I totally have your back in your battle towards achieving equal rights for women #GirlPower • Speaking of kick arse women – Amy Schumer, what a revelation, you slay me #ProperFunnyChick •  Another kick arse woman… the legend that was Jackie Collins (did I really just have to write that in the past tense) oh to have had access into your mind, thank you for introducing a thirteen year old me to smut #LuckyIsMyHomeGirl • And the Rugby World Cup has commenced, we all know who will win of course (she says with fingers and toes crossed) #goABs #WhateverHappensAlwaysaProudKiwi

 


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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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this kiwi girl muses about… that kanye guy

Is Kanye any good? Madonna must think he is, she has chosen to work with him on two albums to date and his albums sell AND they sell really well, so there must be something there however, I’m still on the bench about it for apart from ‘Gold Digger’ I don’t know his music. His narcissism, the tacky choice of wife, the disrespect he showed Taylor Swift (at the 2009 MTV awards) and Beck (at this year’s Grammys) and tanking at Glastonbury are all I know of him and knowing this doesn’t exactly motivate me to take a listen to his music. Or go see him live, earlier this year a girlfriend and I were discussing whether we would go to Wireless, but upon hearing Kanye would be headlining I kyboshed the idea. I believe the words ‘no way in hell’ were used (thankfully she agreed so no one missed out).

Music is littered with rebellious, controversial and naughty characters but Kanye does not come under any of these handles. Kanye is Kanye and he uses his platform for Kanye. I think that is what I abhor the most. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying there is anything wrong with ambition and confidence, Taylor has an abundance of both and still manages to stay classy. Nor is there anything wrong in chasing the cash, Beyonce and Jayz are very clear that they are all about their brand. Where it goes wrong for Kanye is that when it comes to role models he’s up there with other unsavouries like Kate Moss, Putin, Katie Hopkins, – people to NOT admire or aspire to be.

I saw him once, I walked past him and his entourage outside Harvey Nicks. He looked little in amongst his group, that’s what I remember, little with an energy of self importance. So Kanye, by all means declare yourself ‘the world’s greatest living rock star,‘ similarly in 1984 Madonna told Dick Clark ‘I want to conquer the world,’ but the thing is – like Madonna has – you need to be able to back that shit up, or else you will find that all you are is ‘the greatest living twat.’

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