Archive for the ‘Stuff that matters’ Category

Uncomfortably Numb- Our attitude to Politics

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 | Category: Middle East, Politics, Stuff that matters

The war’s in Lebanon over the years have had many effects on the Lebanese side of my family. Businesses lost, seeing death, having to drive through corpses whilst praying they didn’t get hit, close calls with bombs and assassinations. In fact my dad had been at a gathering for politicians and businessmen at the then Prime Minister Rafic Hariri’s residence the day he got assassinated.When the meeting finished he drove behind his car in convoy and decided to take a left instead of a right to head home rather than go to his office, a decision that ultimately saved his life, as five minutes later 1000 kilograms of TNT went off under The Prime Minister’s car. Tragically Hariri was killed along with 21 other people in his entourage.

My late and favourite Uncle Siab was in my dads office when the bomb went off, the windows smashed and a body flew in front of him, he grabbed the ‘man’ and started praying and crying only to find out it was a mannequin in Gucci from from the suit shop next door.We all had a laugh about that. There is a necessary dark humour in Lebanon.

The English side of my family is a little different Sunday for example at my lovely mums house in the UK revolves around a roast dinner with my Grandma and Auntie and the all important fourth party The Eastender’s Omnibus! We discuss the latest in the Queen Vic and chat about what Dot Cotton did to Nick. ‘Oooh wasn’t it good’ we say as we gossip about the latest goings on in the square. There may be an occasional comment about that wally ‘Farage’ over dinner but all in all it is fairly low key, safe, comfortable and light. I imagine that represents a lot of families typical Sundays in England.

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Mum, Grandma and My Auntie.

The scene in my dads place on a Sunday in Beirut is very different. The view is gorgeous a front-line ocean property with the sun sparkling on the water as a volleyball match happens on the beach below.

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Me, Dad and My Baby Brother in Beirut

Dad, my auntie’s, cousin’s , brother’s and I are all together on this beautiful day. But no one is sunbathing or looking at the view everyone is gathered around the TV watching the latest political discussion programme as government minister’s debate the situation in Lebanon, Syria and beyond.
When that programme finishes The News is put on, as everyone scans the latest information that may effect the economy or worse bring more troubles to the area. They just want peace , no one can fully relax and enjoy life so they are fully engaged in politics. After the news, a debate will usually start as my brother puts forward his opinion’s which often are opposite to my dad’s and then we get into a full swing discussion. Chaotic, passionate, conversations are had, sometime’s ending in a row!

The dream for a lot of my family is, not to save enough to book a holiday to the Costa Blanca but to have enough peace so that business can thrive, husbands that have been forced to work abroad can come home and most of all to not have the burgeoning worry about their children being safe.

I feel guilty on a Sunday like that. This is only my life for week’s at a time I only experienced the war when I was a kid and it is safely wrapped in the cotton wool of distant memories. I was lucky, my mum was British my dad became a British citizen. I didn’t have to stay when the war got very bad. I was Charlie in Willy Wonka but my ticket wasn’t a golden one it was red and had Her Majesty’s’ Royal Arms’ stamp emblazoned across the front.

So that’s the juxtaposition of my two lives.

Here’s the thing. There is nothing wrong with the Eastender’s omnibus or a bit of ‘Downtown’ if you are that way inclined (except the time they forgot a bottle of Evian was in the back of shot) but like my dear English Grandma said about her experience of The Blitz in London: ‘people cared about politics there was a sense of real community and you looked after your neighbours and supported your community.’

This sense of engagement is not unique to any country in the Middle East… rather it is a symptom of struggle.

So the question is do we really need to feel a sense of fear or discomfort to become truly engaged in politics? Do we want to be numb to what’s truly going on and get distracted by reports in mainstream tabloid media putting the blame on the overused and now farcical phrase and sentiment of:
‘it’s the immigrants coming over here and nicking our jobs’?

It’s not the immigrants , we all know that really right? It is because the system is just set up to benefit the wealthy. Money over morals is never a great subtext to base societal rules on.Which it seems the Greek people have concluded in their droves.

The recent election of Syrzia in Greece is an example of a country thrown into discomfort and standing up to austerity measures plus becoming resourceful and entrepreneurial in the interim.

Do we in Britain have to wait until we make the transition from uncomfortably numb to extremely uncomfortable?, Or as the result of our political actions which we have been distracted from or felt too dis-empowered to do anything about experience worse repercussions?
Although it is human nature to be active when threatened I would hope we can become more engaged and start creating alternatives before that point.

Here’s what I know though’ attitudes are changing and the internet has provided a platform to spread truth, petitions, events and ideas worldwide. The political system cannot remain the same. People are no longer reliant on press media and TV they have the world at their fingertips and the lines in the sand/green grass are becoming blurred

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Archive for the ‘Stuff that matters’ Category

Balls to the Rat Race!

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 | Category: Online business, Stuff that matters, Travel

‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’.-Top regret of the dieing. -Bronnie Ware- Palliative care nurse.

Like lots of people I had a dream to travel the world. Not in bite size two week trips. I wanted to really travel and have the luxury of getting to know a country inside and out , to do yoga in India, stay with tribes in Vietnam and generally be a bit of a hippy with an income that required little work. Dreamer right? Nope I achieved this in a few years and I am of the belief we can all achieve our hearts desire with a little self belief.

What is your dream? Is it dragging yourself to work everyday because you fear not being able to pay the bills? Not to mention having an unhealthy work/life balance? My personal belief is that we are all a little programmed to behave in a way that is deemed normal by the capitalist society in which we inhabit. ‘Be a success and you can own lots of inanimate objects’ seems to be the underlying narrative. Which of course when looked at objectively is absolutely bonkers. We all know these items do not bring happiness nor does putting yourself under undue amounts of stress.

When I happen to be on the tube at rush hour, I play a weird game (don’t judge me) whereby I pretend I am an alien (!) and observe humans as a rare species. The result brings to mind a character in philosopher Albert Camus’s L’etranger (Or the Outsider) -The robotic woman who has mechanical movements and ways, he observes her and becomes fascinated by her I am not saying I am Mr Camus but if you are interested, read it as he puts it far better than me. This staring habit has got me onto a bit of trouble on the tube like when a lovely Rastafarian chap tried to arrest me with a Toys R Us badge I ended up having a giggle with him. I enjoy a bit of madness. He definitely wasn’t in the robotic camp. But I digress. Back to the Rat Race.

Are we aware that we are, not all, but for the most part pretty unconscious do you think? That we are plowing to work head down, not smiling, robotic, not engaging and most definitely stressed!
Some of us are lucky and bound out of bed to a job we love but a lot of us are driven by unconscious narratives and may have even achieved our idea of success and aren’t even sure why we feel unfulfilled. It feels too scary to do something different or it sounds unachievable or spoilt to want more free time and inner happiness when you have a cushy city job. In my humble opinion you are not any of the above for wanting more, we are just living in times of a a twisted value system in our society.

This is how I followed my intuition and manifested a great work life balance for those of you who want to follow a similar path.I have worked in many fields of business but having a rather low threshold for boredom, (or as an online quiz told me recently more than likely ‘ADD’ ) and a passion for presenting on TV, I was afforded many ‘resting’ periods.It was in one of those ‘resting’ periods . That I came up with an idea of helping people in the entertainment industry get work…what better than an online portal? But I had NO ability to build websites and I am actually not very tech savvy.

I registered a name. Commissioned someone to build the site to my specifications and I was off. All for the grand outlay of DRUM ROLL five hundred pounds. It didn’t work. But by jove I had a website!

TIP 1: Once you have a good idea that you are passionate about and love then just bloomin’ START!
In my experience hundreds of people have great ideas which they happily tell me about, but for some reason they just sit on it. You don’t really have a lot to lose by trying. Do it!

Now at this stage I was scratching my head..hmm what next? Knowing my weaknesses (ahem NO tech knowledge) I called up someone who I knew had the ability to arrange the payments systems and he did a really great job of getting the non working site up to scratch and he became my business partner for quite some time.

TIP 2 : Know your strengths- Draft in help if needs be! Whatever site you are doing you can pitch it to someone who has the relevant skills and experience in exchange of a profit share or a partnership. This is a really great low risk strategy just make sure you have all agreements and clauses set out before you begin.

So incredibly in month one the site was in profit , alright only by 30 quid or so but still… AND it was helping actors, actresses, extras and presenters get started in the Industry. Bit by bit word got out and suddenly I was spending time learning about social media promotion and spent a lot of time pushing the site online. By the end of year 1 it was a business that was able to financially support two people and by London standards that is pretty darn good.

TIP 3: Work hard at PR and social media and pushing your site in year one. Have in mind your goal and know that your will get to the stage whereby you can employ people and your workload will be reduced if you so wish. Note: My workload was less than 4 hours a day at this stage and I was working in other things too to assuage my grasshopper mind. If you want to be a digital nomad or have a good work/ life balance don’t be too greedy or a control freak. Farm out the work so you have enough to travel and live well and aren’t overburdened with work. It employs others, enhances their life and you are free to enjoy yourself more.
Fast forward 3 years later and I set off on that trip around the world with my trusty laptop as my office my debit card and a backpack.

Sara Damergi

It isn’t a fluke, or luck. There are hundreds of thousands of people doing the same thing around the world today. A simple Google search will reveal them all.

So if you feel unfulfilled, take the time to listen to yourself and be concious then just make a start in my experience , everything else falls into place when you are aligned with a goal. Good Luck!

 

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