A Charmed Life


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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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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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its back

tetrisI can’t remember how it came into my house, I’m sure it had something to do with my brother but once it came in, it never left. I still have it to this day at my parent’s house and can quite happily while away hours playing on it. What am I talking about it? Remember Tetris (brick game)? Of course you do. I’m pretty sure it is ubiquitous when I say it is a stalwart of a time gone by, how many of us can claim that we spent hours playing it when we should have been studying.
I don’t even understand why I love it but there is something highly addictive yet calming about forming lines and watching them disappear. Can you believe it is thirty years old this year AND finally it is about to be unleashed on a whole new generation for it has recently been announced that new versions are to be made available on PS4 and Xbox One. I’m not a gamer but I do love my Pac-Man, Mario, Donkey Kong and Tetris so I greet this news with the excitement that only a true child of the 80s would understand. How cool were the 80s? Bad fashion but great music, movies and Tetris!

Love


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so for 2014 I’m gonna…

My pet peeve is my reliance on all forms of social media. I don’t like that I have become the girl who looks at her phone first thing in the morning, or that I revert to text/Whatsapp/Facebook /Viber/Instagram/email (take your pick) to ‘talk’ to someone instead of calling them. This year I have decided to wean myself away from all social media technology by limiting how many hours I am allowed to be on it. I can be very stubborn when I set rules for myself. I like setting goals and then making it like a competition with myself. This girl is playing to win!

I couldn’t do a complete give up unfortunately, as I do have a book to sell and a blog to promote plus loved ones scattered around the world but I’m resolved that I’m not going to be the girl that taps away on her phone while at lunch with girlfriends; which brings me to my other resolution for 2014 – to participate. I feel I have let myself become a bit staid of late so I resolve to be present when in the company of others and to do more; spend quality time with loved ones, give my time to charity (which I used to do so diligently but has fallen to the wayside in recent years) and continue through my as yet not written bucket list.

Why am I blogging this? Like when I was thinking of writing a book – once these things are said they are harder to not to do because it’s out there in the ether and that helps to make one accountable.

How is my social media detox going so far? In true militant style I have taken most social media apps off my phone as well as switched off notifications on the ones that remain. This is already making a difference. I have managed to stay away from Facebook, to limit email viewing time to between the hours of 8am-8pm and now that I don’t hear my phone pinging I find I am checking it less.

I will keep you updated on how I go. I anticipate this resolution to be rather more difficult than it was to give up alcohol (yes I actually did do that one year), in the meantime my fellow Facebookers – if you don’t get a Happy Birthday from me or a like for your posts – I’m not being rude it’s just that I have a competition to win. Wish me luck.

Love


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put that damn camera down!

concertI’m not a huge fan of Beyoncé but I totally agreed with her when she told a concert goer at one of her concerts “I’m right in your face, baby! You gotta seize this moment. Put that damn camera down.” I have seen Madonna over thirty times; mostly concerts, a few plays, a premiere or two, a photo exhibition but save for once occasion (Wembley Sept 11 2008) I have never recorded her. I’ve wanted to, not just Madonna, but the countless shows I have been to.  I go to live shows because they are exactly that  – live. This is why I stopped myself recording at Wembley. When I go to a live gig I want to take in that vibe that only a live show can bring – you can’t capture that if you are busy holding up a camera. It is not just a young person’s habit either I was at Simple Minds last week (you can guess the average age of the crowd) from my vantage point near the back all I could see was this sea of cameras when the popular songs played. Surely it is for the popular/favourite songs that you go to these events.

My chief gripes when it comes to cameras at a concert:

  • not living in the moment – you miss out on the sound, the artist’s presence, the vibe of the room, dancing (you can’t move if you are busy recording).
  • distracting the artist and distracting other concert goers.
  • disrespecting the artist – (most) artists are actually really proud of their work and want you to enjoy the experience of their concerts.
  • the grainy recording you have will never be as good as the professional job that an artist usually releases in time.

I don’t get this insatiable need to record everything but maybe you do.
Maybe you are one of those folk who feel the need to whip out your camera. If you are, help me to understand. Would love to know what you do with the recording(s) ? Do you ever look them again after the following day? Do you ever regret that you didn’t just enjoy the experience of hearing the artist (that you paid good money to see) live ?

I will leave the last word to Fran Lebowitz who sums up brilliantly what I have been saying… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mK-gDMdmh0

Love

Madonna2.jpgMadonna3.jpg


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oh no, she didn’t

This morning I walked around London with the back of my dress tucked in my tights. To my horror I only realised my faux pas when I paid a visit to the bathroom at a restaurant.  A quick recap made me realise this mishap had happened as I was getting ready. Luckily it is winter coat time here, so I was saved from a total humiliation for I was covered as I travelled to my destination. However I did take my coat off in public when I took my seat for brunch and yes it was in a restaurant full of people. It got me thinking about other embarrassing moments I have had. Here are a few of my classics:

The one with the fall It was my first day in a new job and I was being taken around the trading floor being introduced to the traders. When I fell. No obstruction, no one tripped me, my heels weren’t even that high. I just fell, flat on my face. All I remember thinking in those seconds on the floor was ‘this is how they are going to remember you.’ And how right I was.

The one with the blurting out I have a habit of talking to myself, sometimes it is in my head sometimes I talk out loud. During a statistics lecture at university, I found myself disputing a calculation the lecturer had written up on the blackboard. I made a note to ask him about it later and in my head I had this conversation with myself about how the equation really should be while also abusing the lecturer for not knowing his subject… a few seconds  later I heard myself verbalise ‘oh my god, what the hell are you doing?’  I remember gasps from other students and the lecturer saying ‘how is god going to help you?’  What made the situation particularly embarrassing and memorable to this day was that this lecturer was also my tutor so I couldn’t be a nameless student in his class. He knew me by name. I remember one test he marked in which I got all ten questions correct – under the mark, he had written ‘I think god helped you with this one.’

The one with the ring tone I’m not one to get a new gadget and be overly excited about it, as such I was one of the last people I know to get a mobile phone. In fact when I finally got an iphone last year, I had a ten year old teach me how to use it and even he gave me look of disbelief at some of the questions I asked. Technology and me – not the best of friends I have to say. When I got my first mobile I had ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ (Mary Poppins) as my ring tone. In my first week of having the phone, there I am at a work presentation, and just as our Head announces a new appointment, my phone rings and to make matters worse I’m still not used to my phone so like everyone else I start to look around waiting for the inconsiderate person to switch their phone off – took a good few seconds for me to realise that person was me.

The one with the incorrect name I credit myself for having an elephant memory but I distinctly remember one work function whereby it totally failed me. I spent the entire evening calling a new contact Steve even introducing him as Steve to other work colleagues only to be told at the end of the evening, when we were saying our goodbyes, his name was Brendan. Steve/Brendan – no idea how I got it so wrong. Go figure.

The one with the stolen car On a rare solo trip to the supermarket, I exited the store laden with my shopping to find the car missing. So what do I do – I proceed to get into a panic, I get supermarket security involved, ring the police and file a police report. A couple of hours later after explaining to my boyfriend what had transpired, we get a call to say it is still at the car park presumably where I had parked it. It turns out I had parked the car in the front entrance and exited the supermarket from the back entrance which also had a car park (which incidentally looked exactly the same to me). D’oh!

As I write this, I realise I could keep going with my embarrassing moments;  not locking bathroom doors, forgetting to do my fly, having my bikini top come loose while I was swimming in a public pool, falling from a treadmill, missing a flight … the list keeps getting longer. We all have them though don’t we? Yes they make us cringe but mostly they should make us laugh – for what else can one do when you find yourself in a pickle?

Note to self:  Always check your backside before you leave home.

Love


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some of my favourite (phone) apps

Apps I’m currently into…

TED  I love the concept of TED. This app includes talks from some of the world’s most intriguing people: education radicals, tech geniuses, medical mavericks, business gurus, music legends and then some. If you do not already know what TED is, have a listen to this talk by model Cameron Russell who talks about how she won the genetic lottery TEDTalk.

Pic Collage For the pictures you take via all the photo apps you may be using, this app lets you organise those pictures into collages, its fast and simple to use and fun way to present your treasured pictures.

DailyArt – Daily Dose of Art This app publishes one piece of fine art every day, along with it you receive a description of the piece and a little tittle-tattle about the painting,  the artist or the époque when it was produced. It is great for someone like me who appreciates art but is always left wondering about the story behind the painting.

Hello Vino I’ve never considered myself a wine connoisseur, I generally leave wine ordering for the person(s) I’m out with, but this app is great when you are entertaining and want to be a bit more experimental with your wine choices.

Heads Up! I was at a dinner the other night and we played this and it was a riot especially seeing as we were a little bit drunk. It’s basically the game Ellen plays on her show, kind of a modern take on charades and guess who; from naming celebrities, to singing to silly accents – you guess the word on the card (app) that’s on your head from your friend’s clues before the timer runs out. 

Scutify This is my newest app, which is like an all-in-one way to analyze the markets. It is described as a ‘social media aggregator collating all the scuttlebutt’ on Stocks, Indexes, FX and Commodities. It gives you access to up-to-date information via tweets, news, videos and blogs.  

Love


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my ‘inner geek’

I can’t help myself. I am fascinated by 3D printing. I have unearthed my ‘inner geek’. Who would have thought I even had it in me. I’m the girl who rings the helpdesk for anything and I mean anything PC related. ME: ‘Help, my computer is not working it’s just a blank screen’ HELPDESK: ‘Have you checked to see if it is on.’ Unfortunately this is actually a real life example, not one of my finer moments I grant you, anyway I digress… 3D printing has taken this technophobe and made her into a… what is the opposite of technophobe – technophile maybe (as you can see I have yet to master ‘geek’ speak.)

And now that I know 3D printing exists in real life and not just in sci fi movies; you will often find me on www.bitrebels.com and www.theguardian.com/technology – scouring the sites for more literature on 3D printing (or additive manufacturing as it is professionally known).  Just the other day I attended a lecture aptly called ‘everything you ever needed to know about 3D printing,’ where I learnt firsthand about Modelling, Printing and Finishing and I got to see the layer upon layer process – completely fascinating.  I know, I know … the concept and prototypes have been around for decades and I’m not about to go into a technological explanation of it, mainly because I am still trying to grasp how it works exactly and also because whenever I mention it to anyone they seem to already know about it (which begs the question: have I really been that clueless?)

My imagination is running wild with ideas of all the creations that you can manifest being your own manufacturer. And think about what it means for the environment – moving away from mass production lines would surely lead to a decrease in our carbon imprint. It is a win win situation as far as I can see and it is the way forward in our not too distant future (even Selfridges is getting in on it by setting up a 3D printing pop up store next month) so if you are interested just a little and you want to know exactly what I have been talking about – have a listen to this expert… http://www.ted.com/talks/lisa_harouni_a_primer_on_3d_printing.html

Love


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remember when…

photo (19)

I have been reminiscing with a girlfriend about how when we were young, even after we had spent the day together at school, we would spend hours on the home phone talking away (the one single home phone mind this was before portable phones even existed). Then mobiles came along, and now we are in the era whereby her eight year old daughter communicates with her friends via FaceTime.

I have a smart phone and I have tried all week without success to not use it. Being able to contact family and friends is essential to my well being so I love being able to call/text/email/WhatsApp/Viber/Skype/Facebook/FaceTime and I’m sure there are more modes I’m forgotten. What this has reinforced is that we live in a world of NOW. We want everything now. Remember a time when you made a plan to meet friends at the cinema at a certain time and that is what you did. Now the same plan involves an initial time then further calls/texts to ensure parties get there on time. It’s all very convenient to text someone to let them know you are on the way but is it necessary?

Sure life has been made easier by the invention of these phones but every now and then I can’t help missing days gone by when I looked forward to letters in the mail via the letterbox, when going to a concert meant listening and dancing to the music and when people didn’t have their fingers glued to their phones while carrying on a conversation.

Love