HOW TO KILL A DJ – CHAPTER 4

OCTOBER

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When I say I haven’t decided what I want to do yet this does not mean that I don’t know where I want to live or be in 2016. I said I was tired not stupid. Of course I want to live here, in Ibiza. What’s not to love about living in Jesus? . Like every savvy Ibiza resident knows, at certain times of the year, island rentals are a feeding frenzy so the A1 golden rule is to secure your accomodation in advance preferably long before the summer silly season kicks in (before the end of March). Get your luvverly accomodation for the next year confirmed, signed and sealed before the end of the preceding season and you’re laughing. The lucky few who bag a beautiful bargain (without paying a six month deposit upfront) in the Holy Grail transfer window between the middle and the end of October are viewed with emerald eyed envy. The struggle is real here. Most long lets get snapped up like a gushing, mutilated leg in a shark pool and generally before the ink is dry on the ‘Anuncio’ page in Diario D’Ibiza. Those who are on a tight(er) budget find a ton of roomies (generally up the West End) and split the cost handsomely. 256 different ways to do the washing up or to go Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Italian or all of the above. All of them present and correct.

Me? I have this on lock. I met my English eccentric ever-so-slightly alcoholic landlady for a tapas lunch at a deserted La Vineria, on the Carrer Cap Martinet at the end of June when we agreed the terms for my contract and keys to Castle Grayskull.

 

 

My landlady greeted me looking angelic in a white, gypsy dress, heavy boots and her blonde hair worn up in that tousled, elder stateswoman way. She was demolishing her second large glass of wine as I sat down. As she ordered her third, she said ‘let’s get this out of the way, then we can eat’. I had been dreading this chat so was surprised when she offered me a contract to keep the apartment for another year. Golden ticket? Tick it! She said that she really likes me and wanted to help. Tick that too. Could I accept different terms? Rental seasons being what they are and her being a lady of leisure with no regular source of income, I knew I was looking at a serious price hoik. Brace yourself…

She was nervous about giving me another contract. There is a loophole in Tenants’ Rights legislation here that keeps a tenant in place for up to five years if a contract is renewed long term to the same tenant beyond the first year. Since she is trying to sell the apartment, this loophole is a worry for her. In order to combat this, the rent was being raised to a constant winter fee of  1200pcm, rising 200€ to 1400pcm  from May to October. Vertically steep for one person. In fact it was 400 euros pm more expensive than the rent I had been paying on my flat in Paris when I left in 2013. That’s Paris. A metropole. With a strong transport infrastructure, museums, shops and everything.  If I overstayed the contract end date she threatened me with murdering me in my bed. Normal. I laughed like I was the only person in the audience at a bad Comedy Store gig.

I have a good – and relatively long memory. Logic and reason tell me not to fuck with mad alcoholics. I remembered the house call last year. She had popped round to see ‘how I was settling in’ but really came to calm down in her own apartment after having made an unwarranted house call to ‘that Jonathan’. He wasn’t home but she threatened his girlfriend with a kitchen knife with a four inch blade just to make sure (she took this out of her pocket demonstrate). I’d only been in the flat two weeks. She told me that Jonathan was the previous tenant who had left her apartment in tatters with denuncios flowing like ticker tape (the neighbours say he was running Girls from his private parties. I had wondered what the chains in the wardrobe were for). Anyway, he had left owing three months’ rent which she was determined to recoup. That she would go to such lengths just to get the rent arrears did not sit well with me. We Capricorns can take life and living just a bit too seriously I suppose.

The apartment is not Ibiza Town prime real estate but it is in a respectable, developing location. Turn a blind eye to its basic, ok cheap furnishings and you know it is worth a bit. It has plenty of space for my dj equipment slash studio, has a guest bedroom for family or friends, is bright, airy and modern and rent-wise was not breaking the bank for a three bed in Talamanca. Even though the heating falls short when Ibiza drops the ‘pissed-wet-through to the clothes in your wardrobe and sheets on your bed’ humid fog and the boiler needs resetting every time the wind blows (which is a lot in Talamanca), it is big, airy, bright, modern, warm and dry and has a lift, a roof terrace with a 360° view and garage space. I could get comfortable here.

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Like christmas toy batteries, bills were no longer to be included. The disappointment was Christmas present same.There was to be no sub-letting. Not that this was something I had ever done, but it would  have been nice to have the option. This is the key income source that all of my friends exploit to pay their rent through the fallow winter months. Odds stacked up, condition by condition, what was once a decent deal was starting to stack higher against. Still, I loved the apartment; looked after it like a boss and was a model tenant. I assured her that the next year would be equally trouble free. I always pay my rent on time – how could it not be?

Freak of the week. CL massaged my feet to clinch the deal. WTF? Boundaries???! This foot massage is over-familiar territory even for family. Understand that it’s not easy to run when someone has your feet clamped in a vice-like grip before you’ve touched your tiramisu. Best to relax. Let it happen. The ‘Welcome to your new home again’ speech that followed this random activity was thus music to my ears. CL promised me that once her family visits and daughter’s university choice were out of the way we would visit her Gestor to sign the contract. The date was set for the end of September. Reassured, I chose to ignore her sniffing her hands when she’d finished.

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Call me crazy for trusting CL and her fancy foot massage. I fully accept and assume responsibility for the incoming fuck up. So confident was I that we had made a solid verbal agreement that I took my eye off the ball. I forgot that something about this island – maybe the Es Vedra ley lines, maybe the population of gypsies, tramps, brigands, pirates and thieves – makes a mockery of written agreemements. And, schoolgirl error #2, I forgot that spoken arrangements count for nothing, especially where money is concerned. Everyone prefers to be paid in the tax and question-free black so there are no guarantees here. Nothing is ever as sorted as you expect. Not even your drugs. What I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to make a legitimate tenant disappear overnight. Without a contract you have no rights, your landlord (or landlush) can ask you to leave or throw you out as and when they want and with no notice served.

One week into October and I am all out of excuses. No phone calls or IMs are being made or answered and we haven’t signed any official papers.

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… to be continued

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HOW TO KILL A DJ – PART 3

TO BE USEFUL NOT USED

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 26TH

Shake it off yeah, just like Taylor Swift. So shower. Then join me on Saturday evening in the Treehouse at the Zoo Project at Gala Night, Benimussa. From the decor to costumes to the dancers to the artisans, the healers and the djs, this is one of my favourite outdoor party locations and despite predictable (insufferable) San An snobbery, I always enjoy the vibe here. It’s like a one day festival, an Skittles-eque rainbow of fruit flavours and a youthful and also very London/Berlin/Tokyo feast for the senses. It makes my weekly bracelet / no bracelet run-in with the door inquisition worthwhile. Being looked after like a sister by Ady, (aka Adrian Brown – possibly the most attractive and stylish man on the island bar none) also means that a Zoo trip is simply made of win. (Happy birthday big man!)

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I’m holding my ground in an unofficially designated two inches of personal space, behind the Treehouse DJ Booth. Maribou State are creating one of those ‘had to be there’ sets that is defying categorisation. I am wedged next to Chandler who has his Pulse Radio head (and ears) on but has made zero effort to comply with the general Zoo Project dress code and no matter how hard I squint doesn’t look animalistic enough underneath a simple felt bowler hat. Enraptured and inspired by the music, my L’Oreal black felt eyeliner becomes a weapon of crass construction. Wielding it like a crazed surrealist painter, I decorate Chandler’s face with an off-kilter cat nose and Dali-esque whiskers. He is game to be big game but only because it’s an eyeliner pen and not a full make up kit and I’ve promised that it will wipe off with a bit of spit and a hanky. It doesn’t. Why would I have bought it if it did. Tick for L’Oreal. Shit for Chandler. I wouldn’t normally push my limited make up artist skills on anybody but since I am wearing head to toe leopard print and a lizard topped head band (thankyou Milou) Chandler gets it. Fairplay to him, the nose and whiskers are a strong look for any ex-Marine.

The Zoo Project is like that and a whole lot of fun. Enjoying the extravagant costumes and body art, marvelling at Kyle’s hyper-diamantéd denim jacket and assorted ties and jackets, loving Milou’s cheeky, wild creations and rocking to the best in cutting-edge music here is a weekly pilgrimage. Even the weekend when Spencer Parker finishes his set with ‘Boys, Boys, Boys’ just being there keeps me happy, it keep, keep, keep, keeps me happy.

Over the chug and boom, chk, Chandler and I are shout-talking about our seasons so far and Ibiza in general. Chandler starts :

« You know … you are so awesome » he says this totally unprompted and unbribed by anyone including me.

« thank you » I say « I’m shocked and deeply touched… How much do I owe you ? »  (I suspect he may be high or tripping or loved up or something, so am covering my arse in a totally sincere but gently humouring ‘off it’ people voice.

« No really ? … » he continues, sensing my disbelief « I mean it. You are one of the reasons why I like to stay living in Ibiza. Regardless of the bullshit, it’s genuine people like you that keep me here.’

‘Me ? A genuine Ibiza person ? Are you sure ?’ I say

‘Yeah’ … he continues … ‘You fit in. Everybody says so’

Paradox. Paronoia. Paradiddle diddle. The cat and the fiddle. Just when I am starting to feel like the only outsider living a tits-up dream, his island ‘everybody’ thinks otherwise and have given me the double thumbs-up by some secret, illuminati vote. There’s nowt as strange as Ibiza residents. For a moment my ego is fiercely buffed, my rose-tinted spectacles polished to a gleaming sheen. The end of the night closes with Maribou State playing Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ – it gives me goosebumps so merits tweeting and instagramming.

Feeling good but can I get a witness – or a signal up in here? That would be a no. Gala Night is in the middle of some bizarre Bermuda triangulation between your phone, your wishes and your message transmitted on the three-legged donkey of spanish service providers. When the last piece of confetti has fallen and the booth is cleared, I meet Sophie in the car park and we drive in convoy (and down the back roads to avoid the police check points around Gala Night) to Underground. We are way too early and it is way too empty so we stay for two then head to Ibiza Rocks at Pikes Hotel. I’m dj’ing plus it’s close-by so it would be rude for us all not to.

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 27TH

On Sunday morning I mostly give my yoga mat the roll out it deserves. I start the day with a nice long hatha session then head to Eroski to shop for barbecue things – tiger prawns, sausages, chicken breasts – all to be marinated before leaving. Sunday is all about celebrating Sophie’s birthday in Calamity Bassa. When I arrive, Brett, John and Mr Doris have already taken charge of all things sizzling on the griddle whilst the rest of us bring our dishes to the table. I chair hop putting the world to rights with Trish, Helen, Miss W, Debra, Sophie, John, Tina and Clare. We eat like rationing is over, and once Colin Peters’ finally arrives with his Traktor set up he blows us away with his legendary balearic blissfulness.

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Like a unicorn in an emerald glade, the subject of my work here reared its head once again, shimmied its mane then bolted for the clearing just underneath the red sun. Tonight I wasn’t the sole focus of the table chatter, there were at least five or six other stories in play at that time so when I locked on and locked in to the conversation that clanged, the words rose and flew like a murder of crows in my head but were quickly gone. I listened and graciously accepted the advice from all, logging and tagging every precious word, computing every possibility with Alan Turing-like precision. The best way to crack the code ?

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Colin leaves to play elsewhere and the entertainment becomes a comical laptop / iphone free for all.

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We are sharing all the love there is, musical, alcoholic, friendship and whatever else is on hand – all for the friendly buzz and not the high. The richest, stickiest cacao fig brownies gave everyone an addictive, spiritual hit. They were the perfect augur for an astrologically magical night where a full moon turned into some woah-trippy sky shit, morphing into an eclipse, then a blood moon and all shared sitting on the roof, reflecting and appreciating with some fellow sky-watching fiends.

When the boys pack up their laptops, I step in with the mix that I had just recorded for Michelle Manetti’s ‘Lipstick Disco’ site.

We dance into the dawn watching clouds take the shape of Mickey Mouse and soaking up a sunrise like a watercolour palette. We’ve been eating, drinking and talking all day. I am one over the eight, happy and exhausted and go to sleep, on the sofa in the landing unable to co-ordinate walking to the empty spare room which is right next door.

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Three hours later I am awoken by Sophie’s dogs, Lucky and Lucy, who are going crazy, jumping all over me, licking me and then sitting on my head. If only I had a boyfriend who was ever this delighted to see me, I think. Then I realise I can’t move out of their way because my neck has been savagely guillotined by the sofa arm rest. It’s time to find Helen, power up Sugar and head home … I have five hours to sleep before I play another 9 hour shift. God give me strength. Or a bullet. Or maybe just a rich husband.

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 28TH

WORD OF THE DAY

WAYWORN

\WEY-wawrn, -wohrn\

adjective

DEFINITIONS 1. worn or wearied by travel.

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After a long weekend of irregular eating I have just woken up with my forehead pasted to my keyboard. My brain apparently left the building and my body has been on pause after guzzling a home made breakfast burrito of spicy bacon beans and scrambled eggs with herbs. Anti-Hangry Measures must always be taken. I’ve been gifted with an AZERTY tattoo on my forehead and I am so tired and emotional that I have whatsapped Sophie for missing items that I later find are on the passenger seat of my car where I left them. I also keep crying at Best Vines of cats and babies. I can’t keep my eyes open to watch anything longer than a Snapchat or a looped GIF without experiencing a sense of deep hypnose. I can’t physically attend or even handle one more closing party (but Tuesday is Cocoon in Benimussa). The only closing party I can be bothered to attend is that of my bedroom curtains, and the horizontal lap of honour that will come when I clamp my eyelids tight shut. Bu-bye Ibiza. I have one more day to go and I am dragging my feet like Frankenstein. Besides, isn’t that … rain???? This funky mood is the culmination of weeks spent out on the work, rest and play tiles.

Yes, today is Monday and as Robert Frost once wrote, I have miles (or in my case another 36 hours) to go before I (can get some decent) sleep … So hi-ho, hi-ho it’s off to the Taller Pitiusos to get Sugar (my Volkswagen Golf) fixed (driver side wing mirror was clipped in the car park, b*st*rds never leave a note here!). Then I brave the downpour and drive like all four horsemen of the apocalypse (marvelling at five rainbows on the way), to play to the staff and the handful of weather-beating party people around Pikes Hotel Bar and Pool. It’s my last contracted day here: it seems fitting that ‘the end of the world as we know’ it weather matches this mood.

I feel disconnected like a satellite. Happy sad. It has been a great experience but when I get to the booth area and set up behind the decks there is no fanfare. Everyone is moody, talking about going home, being cold and moaning about the rain. The staff are on a downer because they – and everything – keeps getting wet, the Pikes Hotel pool area is a sodden ghost town and everyone who has braved the bar or restaurant is wearing jackets and jeans. No one is singing in the rain. A few are dancing at least, even if Winter is here before the summer has ended.

I play a great block party set travelling from Drake and Frank Ocean to Jocelyn Brown, Sharon Redd and First Choice and more without breaking sweat. Just as I am winding down to leave I am asked to play beyond closing hours because a rather lovely client (one obviously packing some clout) called Elliot has kept the bar open. Once I’ve finished I am introduced to the famous client, then pass the time by standing, distributing my weight from foot to foot (he is bloody tall) whilst propping up the bar in the Plaza Mayor and talking and drinking beer with Elliot aka Example until the early hours. I tell him I am blown away  by his latest single ‘Whisky Story’ and how much I loved the quirky video (which I can’t post – thanks Vevo!). He is totally nice in the face of my fangirldom.

In return he tells me that has listened to my set from start to finish and we talk about music – Call 911, Pete Rock, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, Shaggy, Wyclef – he is full of stories. Then the conversation is thrown wider, we discuss proving oneself, doing things for the community and charity, about growing up in the hood, growing up in Manchester, about education, psychology, films and politics. It is a good day. I don’t remember the drive home but am home for 3ish and I sleep like the dead until 10.30am. When I check my phone Elliot has friended me on Twitter.

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 29TH

Start the day with yoga again. It’s the only thing that is giving me the energy and focus to see me through to the end of the season. I am running on one bar but I get my head together and calmly organise my cds and usb sticks then head to Hotel Es Vive which normally looks like this…

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Jamie and the team are on super form despite the incoming deluge of rain that lands early evening right on cue with Apple meteo. I am set up out of wetness’s way  – annoyingly out of good mixing earshot of the monitor – in the doorway of the Experience Bar, looking out towards a busy restaurant area and a deserted pool. It’s like Silent Disco in reverse, everyone else can hear what I’m doing except me. It’s my last day here as well. The season has ended and emotions are mixed – I am happy, play well despite the guerilla dj booth conditions, eat a little bit and chat with my bosses Jason and Nick at the end. I’ve loved playing here. The staff are just lovely, good humoured under the sky confetti and the clients are upbeat and enjoying the sounds. Here I can play what I like without compromise, they are my first work family and they’re all about to leave the island.

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 30TH

I am mad with myself. It has rained so hard all night that I slept like a hobo on a subway train. It is still raining when I wake up so I am not prepared to do anything other than yoga.

I feel caged and pace in that ‘want to go out’ way. I missed Tuesday’s Cocoon after-party because my boogie buddies were not hard partying enough to love partying in torrential rain. I don’t seem to be able to do anything constructive today except write 800 words : 799 words of which I have a sneaking suspicion are shit. I am doubleplussulking. Just keep writing. At least I have achieved somehow by collecting my package from Correos.It’s a column dress that has the distinction of being worn by Rita Ora : my best friend Jo has posted it to me because she forgot to give it to me when she visited me in Ibiza.

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It’s a no underwear required, a bit-too-big, white to acid yellow column that (when ironed) looks stunning on me as she said it would. I consider wearing it to the Amante closing party then remember that last year some twattish, textile terrorist stuck chewing gum on the front of my shocking orange bodycon wrap dress. This cannot be repeated. I decide to a) steam it then press it like the anal beeyatch that I am and b) wear it (accessorised with a thin gold metal belt and gold, strappy sandals – not my gardening boots as shown here) to the closing of Cirque Du Soleil’s new club, Heart where I can guarantee there won’t be any question of wardrobe envy. And yes I know the P on my wall is not straight – OCD readers who try to straighten the wall hanging in my picture are fifty shades of kerazeee indeed.

Back in my office and I am being brain washed by the blank screen again. I haven’t written a word of reviews for DMC World Magazine Online nor started selecting the music for my radio show. On the bright side I have watched a couple of trailers for The Danish Girl, Spectre – the new James Bond and The Revenant (Oscar or taxi for Di Caprio again ?) all Oscar possibles and blockbusters guaranteed IMHO. I’m not sure what the hell else I have done with this day but it has gone with the wind, rain and clouds. What else is there to do in Ibiza, especially when it’s raining ?

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As the season closes for the hotels, bars and clubs my daily routine is imploding. My wish to get involved in pure, wild animal craziness is on the wane.

I am on the guest list for Tini and the Gang at Lipps and Underground but I am dragging my feet like a puppy in a new leash. The season has ended, the contracts are up. We are nearing the time when everyone packs up and leaves, goes home, goes on holiday, goes back to thier families before they start planning their return and the next season. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet. I can’t. My brain is battered, scrambled by this season. All I want to do is to eat, sleep, rave, hibernate, repeat.

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So that’s exactly what I do. Minus the rave.

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KEEP TALKING

This is the basis of the talk I gave at the Wake Up Festival in Ibiza on Tuesday June 16th.

KEEP TALKING

We’ve got so much information in our hands and at our disposal and yet we are removed from each other. Dis-connected. The luminescent mobile phone and iPad / tablet glow illuminates the faces of couples kissing in the street to those of people eating in restaurants and partying in clubs. It colours our chill time with the family, our concerts, football matches and hospital visits. Even our relationships start and end with a text, whatsapp IM, Skype or email. Anyone who has ever dumped someone or been dumped by someone by text or email (like me) will confirm that it was not the best way or day of their life. Further statistics reveal that we spend 11 of our lifetime years in front of the TV, yet no statistics show how much of that time is spent talking over it? As for Gogglebox? This is not communication.

The mathematical genius Stephen Hawking has a computer synthesized voice box and for many who can’t communicate in the expected way, systems are in place – sign language – to replace and match the power of speech. It is clearly good to talk.

Still, we spend 23 days per year on our phones, 20 weeks of our life on hold to customer services (60 hours per year listening to the muzak – Zero 7 Simple Things with Barclays, and the in flight boarding selection with Vueling are my personal favourites). We spend four years of our lives on the phone at work (not including freelance workers / home based work calls) and even when communication is prohibited or impeded (work, governmental black outs / societal blocks) people tweet, post statuses, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitvid, Vimeo and Vine like crazy just to get some sort of message across.

Look around you. We, humans, are superheroes. Why? Because speech is a super power. It is one of the key development stages next to movement. We only have to observe a parents’ joy in hearing a baby’s first words to know how important this is. Speech, as such, has an important function in defining who we are and our perception of the world. It expresses our needs and desires. It is easy to make our voices heard and presence felt, even in an unfamiliar space, when we only have to open our mouths and let the feelings flood out. Having this right to do so is a gift and a blessing that many fight daily to gain or to preserve.

How many of you remember your school reports? What did they say? If you are anything like me it went something like this:

PAULETTE IS AN EXCELLENT STUDENT AND AN ASSET TO THE CLASS BUT SHE TALKS TOO MUCH AND CAN BE DISRUPTIVE TO OTHERS.

In my experience such a blatant appropriation and prohibition of my power of speech had far reaching effects. I internalised all the ‘talks too much’ criticism given at school and at home and suffered constant throat problems through school on into my work life. As soon as I got stressed or felt an injustice that could not be articulated I lost my voice. I saw specialists but none could get to or heal the physical root of the problem. Instinctively I kept a ton of diaries just to provide an outlet for all the words that had built and stacked up inside me like a bubbling volcano of frustration and anger. It manifested itself in other ways too, for a time I was given a bad rep for having a short fuse at work. This was counter productive, caused countless flash points and took a lot of internal work and soul-searching to remove the energetic blocks and correct.

In my opinion this control further manifests itself today in society’s preference for a soundbite over a long chat and the perversion of socio-political ideologies like ‘freedom of speech’ ‘democracy’. It’s ‘speak how we tell you to speak’ and ‘speak when you’re spoken to’ all rolled into one. At its best it’s about containing a rowdy class, at its worst it’s about control and enticing us to live in self-enforced, isolated bubbles and we should be aware and more than a little wary of this. Like Elvis ‘all I want is a little more conversation’ and a lot more balance. The fine tuning of our listening ears and the teaching of the value of silence is also welcomed.

I recommend that you learn to USE YOUR VOICE – ask for help, express your opinions but remember to do this with HONESTY, AUTHENTICITY (be yourself), INTEGRITY (do what you say – you’ve got to walk the walk AND talk the talk) AND most importantly do it with LOVE. As an example, recently Izzy Cornthwaite – an eight year old Star Wars fan – took Disney to task over advertising that their Darth Vader costume was for boys. She wrote in arguing that the costume is for girls too. Disney have now changed the classification of ALL their toys to become gender non specific. Respect to Izzy! All Disney costumes and toys are now ‘for kids’.

This is a lesson to all – use your voice, don’t hold back. Don’t be shy. Change really can start with one person. As adults, communication is the key to all our relationships – work, professional, personal, social. If you are conversing or involved with someone who won’t let you speak or won’t listen to you – if you realise that you can’t fully have your say with them, you must reclaim your power and your happiness for yourself. Be pro-active, be genuine, be honest. No matter how important that connection might be, make sure that you put your message across first and foremost because you love yourself and everything around you, no matter if that means that you must eventually let go of the thing that is preventing you from doing this.

Be curious, be serious and ask endless questions, even if this means only finding answers to a few. I encourage you to have opinions and to make all of that felt without falling into the trap of the 7 deadly sins against healthy communication.

  • GOSSIPING – encouraged by newspapers, social networks, garden fence standers – this behaviour says more about the person doing the gossiping than the subject itself.
  • JUDGING – unless you’re officially employed to wear a whitish-grey horsehair wig, always consider ‘what makes me so right?’ before judging anyone.
  • NEGATIVITY – limit your contact with the kind of people who reduce nice days or a nice party to gloomy, stressful, ‘hard work’ situations whilst littering their sentences with the drastic ‘always’ ‘never’ ‘doesn’t’ ‘couldn’t’
  • COMPLAINING –– apparently 5 months of our lives are spent doing this. Why not claw those 5 months back from the jaws of disaster and do something more constructive with that time.
  • EXCUSES – if it’s always someone else’s fault, it’s time to start taking responsibility for one’s actions
  • EMBROIDERY / EXAGGERATION – aside from the light poetic license required by story-telling try to avoid over-egging your speech with fabricated, exaggerated details that don’t exist, didn’t happen and are only there for dramatic effect.
  • LYING – passing one’s personal opinions off as facts is a definite no-no.

The good news is that these sins are easily counteracted by THINK-ing before we speak.

  • Is it THOUGHTFUL – would I like to hear it said about me?
  • Is it HELPFUL – reach out, assist & empower people
  • Is it INSPIRING – how do I make people feel when they are near me and when they hear me?
  • Is it NECESSARY – avoid gossip, exaggeration, lies, trivia.
  • Is it KIND – remember we are all the same, living parrallel lives, standing our corners, fighting our own battles. Be as gentle and empathetic as possible. This does not mean being generally obsequious or ‘sucking up’ – everyone can see through a creep but someone giving a genuine compliment is gold. So say it sincerely or not at all and like Bambi’s mother said ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t (especially if its wise not to) say anything at all’

We are taught to speak more than to listen yet conversation must be a two-way street (although some would prefer it otherwise). In order to make and get the best out of conversation, I advocate conscious listening on both sides.

What do I mean by conscious listening? I mean giving the person the time, the eye contact, the interest, the space and the attention required and giving ourselves the breathing / understanding space to receive and appreciate everything they are saying. For sure this can be difficult in noisy offices, public spaces, outdoor, sports, club or festival situations (we all know existential conversations and dance floors don’t mix and full belt arguments in shopping centres are like taking a wrecking ball to a stud wall) so if you need to talk, when you need that talk, simply pick your time and place carefully. Steer clear of the kind of fortune telling that anticipates someone’s response before they have had time to think it and please call a serious ‘time out’ on over-talking. Shouting louder to drown out an opinion you don’t want to hear or to prove your point over all others makes you more wrong than right. And try not to mute someone’s involvement in the conversation and render them deaf to yours by finishing their sentences with your ideas – when you’ve had your say let them have theirs.

If we can change the way we talk, we can change the way we think and I am optimistic that it is this simple shift in perspective that can change things, one word at a time. Positive words give positive results. And a listening ear hears the valuable information that is all so often missed by the overbearing ego of others.

When our thoughts are silent, our body talks, so we need to manage that language carefully too. Try not to give mixed messages: leave insincere smiles, half way greetings, darting-eyed air kisses, the rude ‘I have no time to chit chat’ chat, the ‘I’m too busy to speak’ phone call and the ‘I’m leaving in a second’ all night club stay, out of your interactions with others. All of these negatively affect the quality of our communication, diminish trust and lower morale at the speed of light.

Make best efforts to keep your subject matter in check. All too often our conversation focuses on what’s wrong in the world. I suggest that we change our viewpoint and try more to acknowledge what’s right in the world, what’s right around us, what’s right with us and with everyone we meet. If it’s a grim day look for rainbows. Let your first thought of every day be thank you, express gratitude, try to compliment yourself in the mirror. Treat yourself with the same amount of verbal respect as you treat your best friend. Silence your inner critic. Tell people what they mean to you, speak to people in the street not just people you have on speed dial – keep your options and connections open. Encourage openness, encourage people to communicate, call your mother, father, sister, brother. Write to your MP if you feel so moved. Be the change that you want to see in the world.

Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist, cosmologist, CBE) is quoted as saying: “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”

Engage brain before you speak ...

Engage brain before you speak …

IT’S NOT WHERE YOU LIVE, IT’S HOW YOU LIVE THAT MATTERS.

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I smile a lot regardless, but taking photos of this London graffiti wall made me feel like I’d won the lottery. I was having a lovely time in London anyway and it seemed like life had fired me one of its ‘message received’ signals. I smile about that day even now and as deep in my photo archives as it is buried, it pops up frequently and randomly yet always when I am in just that space to nod in agreement and chuckle to myself.

Happiness, to me, is loving and knowing who I am no matter what state I wake up in in the morning or go to bed at night. It’s having a clear conscience, knowing that I have done as much good in my day as was possible and that I have not knowingly or purposely done anyone or anything any harm. It is loving and giving love to myself, to my family and to the people and the world around me. It is the feeling of being inspired by and grateful for everything the day and the world has to offer. Happiness is knowing that happiness itself isn’t something that I rely on anyone else to give me, or that someone else can make me, it is in me always so I needn’t travel any distance to find it. Even though I like fancy cars and nice houses as much as the next girl, it’s not about the fairytale where you live or with whom, it’s about the real life HOW you live. And it’s about how you live with your Self.

Happiness is knowing that no matter what happens in life, I know who I am – anyone who doesn’t or just thinks they do will just have to catch up. It’s knowing that I have a choice – if I don’t like something I can stop and do something else. Happiness is knowing that the world won’t end if I do. Happiness is knowing that as many endings as there are will be equalled by exciting new beginnings. Happiness is knowing that there are always solutions and options. 

Happiness is sunshine through the window, a breeze on my face, chanting, praying, sitting in silence, reading, running, dancing, listening to and making music, writing without using any punctuation, learning new things, making things work, clean teeth, a hot bath or shower, a warm bed, having enough to live how I want yet not enough to keep me hungry and on my grind. It’s having an opinion, having a roof over my head, laughing with friends, having deep discussions then acting the fool. Happiness is a huge bucket of popcorn, a great movie and a pick n mix bag of haribo. Happiness is everything that happens in a day and everything that happens at night and knowing that anything that goes pear shaped will soon be made right. Happiness is knowing that even though I may not get another tomorrow, I have done my best today. Happiness is getting another tomorrow. Happiness is having the sweetest dreams and even sweeter wake ups. Happiness is life, love and the universe.

What is happiness to you?

Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.

Democritus