It’s always fascinating to see political debates in public, garnering emotions that rule over people taking part, whether on stage or in the audience. Last night’s Intelligence[...]
Lesson in politics: first we had Brexit and I never felt such vibes of utter despair in London. The town was quite, people clutched their coffee or water cups, as kids got dropped off at schools and a new work day loomed ahead. Then America went to vote and the result felt like a groundhog day. A few days after the results of the US election got announced and confirmed, I went to a book group hosted by a friend, where I watched two American women reflect on what happened. Yes, there were simmering anger undercurrents, yet they both talked of the lessons learnt, open dialogue and moving forward talking to each other, learning from past mistakes. I left the group that night deep in thought and full of admiration for those two women, who even though they belong to an older generation & in theory might find change hard, seemed to draw lessons and have strong desire to learn, in order to change things for the better in the future. I think this can apply to all spheres of life. A lot of things in life happen outside of our control, but it is up to each one of us to decide on the best actions to take when we don’t get the result that we desire. Blaming others doesn’t help and neither does being angry for long. What helps is taking the time to understand why this or that happened and what we can do next time to hopefully get the result that resonates with us.
Lesson in business: as in the past, I tended to step on the rakes yet again. I have a propensity to get excited about businesses, ideas and work of others and get behind them with my support. Yet what often happens is that people accept that support, at times not even bothering to thank me, let alone reciprocating when it comes to the work that I do. When I recently mused about it to my acupuncturist before the start of the session, he asked me if that made me feel angry. If I got asked this question a year ago, I would have probably instantly said ‘yes’. Surprising myself, without even thinking, I actually shook my head and sincerely uttered ‘no’. Thing is, I give my support willingly and if that support isn’t reciprocated, I only have myself to blame for the expectations I might harbour. Others can’t do to us what we don’t allow them, so if I felt disappointment, I could only lay the blame at my door. The way forward is to sit down and think whether I want to continue supporting those people or brands or wish them luck and take a step back from them, stepping into my own limelight. I have ambitions, I am good at what I do and I am capable of swiming in my own lane. What I send out to the universe I will get back.
Lesson in health: this year quite a few people I know or know of through friends became ill. Some of them are older, so maybe it wasn’t a total surprise, but it made me think how we all rush and talk of being stressed, but not many of us, myself included at times, actually take the time to address our own life balance. Giving advice to others is always easier than following it yourself, right? Our bodies are smart and send us signals when we overdo things, yet often we simply don’t listen. Signals become more urgent and if we don’t react, a big boom can happen. This summer I took the time to digitally detox & contemplate my own lifestyle & work choices. Did the world stop? Hell no, most people probably didn’t even notice my scaled down presence on the social media, but I came back to London feeling so innately happy, I just grinned from ear to ear most of the time.
Then I started running again and got to the end of the year running almost on empty. And you know what? I will slow down for the festive time – this post is my last one for 2016, I will indulge and spend time hugging those I love. And then in January I will shift up a gear & move in my own lane, at a speed that works for me, making sure I integrate daily ‘love myself’ ritual, which includes mental self-care, fitness & nourishment. I am a giver by nature, but I can’t support others, if I don’t nurture myself & we, women, can be pretty bad at that. I become snappy and frustrated and it is often my loved ones who bear the grunt of it, while the outside world observes a happy face. I don’t pretend to be who I am not, but I am no longer tolerant of letting myself down and mirroring it on those I care about. My family and friends mean the world to me and they appreciate me for who I am, on good and bad days. Well, they deserve more of good days. So while I won’t be detoxing my body in winter, I will aim to do sport more regularly and consistently, I will meditate daily and I will continue my daily gratitude practise, when at the end of the day I write down or list mentally five good things that happened to me that day and for which I am grateful. No matter how trivial, this is what allows me to finish one day positively and start another one in the same way. As Jason Wachoub, founder of Mind Body Green, said in his recent BoF talk, the best sport for you is the one that you actually end up participating in. It’s not about trends, it is about finding what works for your body and fuelling yourself physically, emotionally, nutritionally and mentally. My ‘Bible’ for the year ahead is the book recommended by Emma Cannon called ‘Live Long Live Well’ by Peter Deadman & this is a subject that I want to write more about next year.
Lessons in life: Life is what we make of it, or so the saying goes. We are who we surround ourselves with. And if the relationship doesn’t work, think what needs fixing, as well as how the other person views it. My husband recently returned from a business trip and said to me something that actually deeply touched me. We had an argument recently about something that I felt quite strongly about and I huffed and puffed about the subject for a while. Yet something clearly hit the nerve, as he looked at me after that trip and said pensively and sincerely:’ You know what? I now understand exactly what you meant that day! Recently I ended up repeating the same thing to someone and it felt so right & so true’. This truly was a gift and I felt a very profound shift and gratitude for his listening ability. After all, most of us are good speakers, but are we good listeners? In a way I learnt a lesson from him too, that listening is such an important skill, the importance of which should never be underestimated. It is something that I try to drum into our kids, yet sometimes need to be better practised at myself. You can’t force change – be it on yourself, or on others. You start with baby steps and then change takes hold – all you have to do is be determined to do it!
I admire honesty and integrity and authenticity. I admire people who are able to give to others, without asking anything in return. This year I asked one of the editors whose work I greatly admire to mentor me. She kindly declined, giving me her reasons. A couple of days later, I wrote her a long letter, telling her that I understand the reasons that she gave me and was grateful for her honesty. I also asked her to lunch or dinner, as I wanted to know what she thought about my career path and prospects within the industry that she knows so well. I never heard back from her, even though I know that the letter was delivered to her office. Do I admire her work? Yes, without a doubt. But my admiration for her personally diminished a bit, because even in the busiest schedule you can find the time to extend a little bit of generosity to the other, who clearly follows the work that you so.
Or maybe the lesson here is this: sometimes it’s better not to approach someone you admire because without meaning to, they might disappoint you or you will feel let down, when in actual fact they never owed you their time in the first place. Let alone a sliver of a conversation. But your stepping towards them will leave a scar that might take time to heal. So before you take that leap of faith, think twice if you should or rather, what are your expectations? If you genuinely have none, someone’s indifference to an excited stranger will pass unnoticed, like a fleeting glimpse into the crowd that won’t alter your life. Don’t idolise people, don’t expect them to be kind or caring and don’t presume that because you admire their talent or work they might be inclined to pay attention to YOU – but be thankful, if they do. When that happens it will have a wonderful mutual impact, even if you never see each other again or your paths won’t cross. After all, in one way or another we all have benefitted from kindness of strangers and hopefully reciprocated it back to another person. Only recently I bumped into Jilly Cooper, a writer who I have adored since my late teens and whose books have always brought laugher and joy to me. I haven’s seen her for many years, yet she gave me the most wonderful smile when I reminded her of our meeting many years ago and proceeded to question my how my life has changed since then. I will cherish those few minutes in her company for the rest of my life, as well as her generosity of spirit!
If you do a kind deed & the recipient lets it go unnoticed, especially when the person knows you, walk away and don’t make the same mistake again. Having said that, don’t let your heart harden – there are people out there who will value, appreciate or mentor you. Or smile at you when you really need it, but least expect it. Have high expectations of yourself, work hard, network and do your best to seek like-minded people with whom you look in the same direction. The world is not such a bad place after all, when you are part of the tribe that celebrates individuality, as well as team work. And if you need any inspiration from some amazing people, leaf through Richard Reed’s, founder of Innocent Smoothies, new book called ‘If I could tell you just one thing’.
‘If you put your head on a pillow late at night and think it hasn’t been a good day, wake up next day and change something. It might be your ideas or[...]
‘Nobody knows where this war is going. But it has to go somewhere.’ Carla
Janine travelled to Syria on many occasions, sometimes legally, with a Syrian visa stamped[...]
It is hard for me to understand David Cameron’s position after he halted
UK’s political delegation trip, along with Prince Edward’s, to Sochi
Paralympics. He had a son with a disability and his family went through horrific heart-break, so I thought that having that experience, that no parent deserves to go through, he would understand that people with disabilities need all the support they can get on a daily
basis. Instead, he chose to take the spotlight off them & their problems and put forward his disdain for President Putin. Did he punish Putin by this? I think it’s safe to assume that Putin didn’t care at all.
Someone said recently on one of Russia’s TV channels that President Putin is a
very lucky politician that can currently afford himself a human and very
real rhetoric, unlike most of his counterparts, who might want to say what
they truly think of the Russia-Ukraine situation, but can’t or won’t. There
are also, sadly, plenty of journalists who forgot that their job is to report the
facts and tell stories, as opposed to offering us their own opinions or
opinions that suit the networks that they work for.
United States, yet again, might I add ( the most recent example before Ukraine was Syria ) – is supporting not the legally elected government ( President Yushenko discredited
himself as a man, as well as a politician – but that’s another story-he was a
President Elect ) but the rebels who came into power de-facto but not
de-juro and who kick, fight, shoot and abuse their own people. Ukraine has had historically a strong nationalistic undercurrent that has reared its ugly head yet again and if Western news channels did adequate, factual reporting, people might view the situation differently.
I feel immensely grateful for honest views & reasoning on this delicate subject, especially from people and professionals who actually know what they are talking about, notably Jack Matlock Jnr, former US ambassador to Russia ( he was the man who warned Mikhail Gorbachev about the possibility of a coup and who, as a career diplomat, have worked in Russia for many years, as opposed to many politicians
who fail to take into account the historical/geographical and human
connections that have existed for centuries between Russia and the
Putin’s recent televised speech was not only honest but based on legal facts. He addressed
nations around the world and said again and again that Russians didn’t want war. Russia, after all, suffered one of the biggest human losses, amounting to millions of lives, during the Second World War and people who go through such horror will hardly be blood-thirsty or willing to go to war for no obvious reason. I personally don’t know any Russians who feel gleeful about the state of things, instead people shake their heads and wish that peace comes back to Ukraine. A couple of weeks ago CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Swedish Minister of Interiors who said that next Putin is going to conquer Kiev – it made me wonder what world this man lives in, as I think one has to be outworldly to know what goes on in another man’s head. My sincere hope is that Russians will be united by this unexpected and tragic state of events and will come out
wiser, with no military action. Threatening or imposing sanctions against
Russia won’t help politicians to score their long-term goals and if
anything, will jeopardize any recovery in the economic sector. The world is much more connected in our day and age, and when something bad happens in one country it ricochets around the world like a domino effect. Can we stop for a minute and think whether the sanctions imposed against supposed President Putin’s allies but not against him, are hypocritical in their nature?
I tend to express my views honestly and have never been a gusher when it
comes to President Putin, however in this circumstances, thus far, I am
proud to be Russian, even though I didn’t wave my hands or felt celebratory when Crimea was accepted into the Russian fold. TV reports talk of low-priced plane tickets, to support the tourist industry and financial support for the region, while an average Russian in the street is already bemoaning the rising bills and cost of food in the supermarkets and terrible level of bureaucracy that people continue to experience in Russia. Does an average Russian benefit from the situation? The answer is quite the opposite actually, even though Crimea was part of Russia for a very long time in the past but was given away as a playing card by Nikita Hrushev in order to gain him political votes.
Truth be told, Russians haven’t done enough on the information front around the world – ambassadors, economists etc remain tight-lipped or worse, absent, from TV or newspaper reporting and the only vocal and convincing diplomats on the scene are Russia’s
Minister of Foreign Affaires Sergei
I think distinctions need to be made. First of all, not all banks were bailed out. I completely agree that the banks that were bailed out by the public have no right to even think about any bonuses until the public funds get repaid. Will they ever is the question no one is prepared to answer at the moment.
Secondly, why is everyone talking badly about bankers in general? Like with people, there are some bad but also very decent ones. Many of those so-called ‘fat cats’ work obscene hours, travel all over the world on business, while their wives and kids stay at home. If anything they make their kids fall ill more often, as they collect bugs during their travel-why doesn’t anyone consider that? They don’t have any benefits or support from the government, they pay a huge proportion of their salaries in taxes and often those hard earned funds get wasted on teenagers who get pregnant recklessly at a very young age or people who claim benefits and have no desire to get off the sofa and try to find work or learn new skills.
The government often misuses the funds collected from taxes on disasters like the Millennium Dome or bureaucrats’ salaries. Do people who pay their taxes even know how those funds are getting spent? It is ok for footballers to earn obscene salaries or for celebrities to earn money by endorsing products or TV appearances and no one proposes to tax their extra income-why? How are bankers who work in non-bailed banks and who haven’t taken any money from the public are different from footballers or celebrities? It is just so easy to use them as scapegoats instead of addressing the government’s inadequacies. Many rich people had to work hard for many years in order to get where they are, this fact is not voiced often enough. Until we learn to be responsible for our mistakes, instead of blaming someone else for our inadequacies we are not going to live in a just and productive society.