Be Who You Are

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of inspirational videos produced by Prince Ea. It was his video entitled 3 Seconds that introduced me to his philosophies and powerful messages. Through the mediums of imagery and poetry, his speeches are thought provoking and heartfelt. My mental health struggles make it difficult for me to fully connect with messages of empowerment or self-enlightenment, but their meaning isn’t totally lost on me. I’m a great believer in the Golden Rule, for example and think more people should live by it.

Six months into the year, my writing has suffered from my stress and anxiety levels spiking due to various issues at my work. Issues which are now being addressed but for the most part, I tried to manage by myself. The negative effect of all this would be that I would sit in front of Horizon Skies, skim through all the notes my editor had made and either work on the bare minimum or not at all. The result? Horizon Skies still needs work. The little, niggly updates are quick and easy to do but there are two major factors in my story that need an overhaul. Better world building and my magic system. Ugh.

My other book, Sanctuary of Stone, has also suffered. I quickly realised that the story wouldn’t hold up with just one character to carry it through. Not only would it get boring for the reader but with a word count target of around 80k, she’d run out of things to do! I have introduced other characters and an element of mystery so she now has more than one puzzle to solve and people around her who aren’t necessarily there to guide but to give some dimension to the story.

How does this relate to Prince Ea and the title of this post?

It doesn’t, not really.

Prince Ea’s 3 Seconds video had me sobbing my heart out. You can watch it here. I defy anyone not to be even a little bit moved by it.

His other videos on love, depression and other kinds of mental anguish ring so true and are so beautifully told that I now follow his posts because they’re the first content I’ve come across that I find truly uplifting. They have helped me reconcile my feelings of inadequacy as a writer. I feel more empowered ow to do the work on Horizon Skies that needs doing.

In terms of being who you are? This is actually quite simple.

There is so much trash on the internet, particularly on social media, that the good stuff is getting drowned out. People aspire to the likes of reality show contestants or “stars” without realising that the only talent these people have is one of self-promotion. Take the cameras away and what do they actually offer the world? Their crass displays of wealth, Instagram lifestyle, luxury holidays show a detachment from reality, but their fans don’t realise that these people really didn’t work their arses off to achieve that level of fame. From “leaked” sex-tapes to pimping themselves on TV or having affairs with ageing has-beens, this desperation for fame speaks more of their selfish needs and insecurity than it does about any discernible talent (always lacking!).

There are so many people in this world who do nothing but good. Whether it’s protesting climate change, campaigning for our environment, rescuing animals, volunteering in drought-stricken countries or helping those in need. These are the people who don’t get the recognition and accolades showered upon those whose only contribution to society is a constant stream of Instagram updates.

This is why it’s important to be who you are. What is your talent? What is your passion in life? Is it photography, writing, acting, singing, playing an instrument? Are you academically gifted? Do you want to stand up and fight for what’s right? Take on the corrupt politicians, climate change deniers, bigots and those who spew hate on a daily basis?

Or, do you want to bury your head in the sand and dream of a vacuous, selfish and unfulfilling existence?

I want to be a published writer. I want to see my book on the shelves. I’m not doing it for fame or money but because I enjoy it. To receive praise from someone after they’ve read my work is a wonderful feeling. To be told I’m a good writer means the world to me. I may not reach the echelons of writing like my literary heroes but I’m fine with that. I’d like to make a living out of it for sure, but I know in my heart, that I will always remain true to myself.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pop star (didn’t we all?) As I grew up, I wanted to be an actress and go to Hollywood. I have sung on a record and I have acted. Ok, so not on the sort of levels I had once dreamed of, but I did it and it’s better than sitting at home dreaming about it. I want to be a writer so I’m doing it. It’s hard work, more than I realised but, this is who I am. I don’t care about having an Instagram lifestyle, in fact, that particular platform is feeding people a fantasy very few can achieve. It’s dangerous. I used it for all of about two weeks but have now deleted it.

Fame and fortune are by-products of one of two things: hard work or luck. Admittedly, there are people who have worked hard to get where they are but don’t necessarily have the talent or squander it and there are those for whom luck was on their side and they’ve gone on to prove that they do have the talent so of course, there is a grey area.

But there are those, who you can distinguish from each camp. Which one do you want to be?

Don’t Knock It Til You’ve Tried It…..Going Vegan!

A friend of mine recently took the plunge and tried a vegan burger at a restaurant for burgers, pizzas, American style food and doesn’t have Thursday in its name…

I applaud anyone for trying new things, and am a big fan of the old adage as named in the title of this blog post.

Sadly, said burger experience did not work out to be the taste sensation she was hoping for and the poor thing ended up feeling unwell as a result.

I just want to say – don’t despair, one bad vegan burger isn’t the benchmark for all of them. There are lots of different brands out there so it’s worth trying a few if you are willing to introduce new things into your diet.

Christmas 2014 was the last time I ate meat, followed in 2017 by phasing out dairy. More than four years later, I’m a committed vegan and I absolutely love it.

I’m in my mid-40’s so I was a meat eater much longer than I wasn’t but there’s no way I’d ever go back to it. This is a lifetime commitment.

For anyone who says going vegetarian or vegan is hard my answer is – it’s really not. I found it really easy. It just takes a bit of time, trying new things, seeing what works, what doesn’t, what you like, don’t like etc.

I have my likes and dislikes with vegan food. I can’t stand lentils, pulses and beans for instance. Without them though, I’d miss important nutrients for my diet so I find ways of including them within recipes I cook. I always try new things; if I don’t like something, it’s down to personal taste. As it would be for anyone following any kind of diet.

For example, I love Spag Bol. It’s a warming hearty dish, easy to cook and tastes even better the next day. As a vegetarian, I swapped the beef for Quorn. Easy peasy. As a vegan, it’s been more challenging as there are lots of different brands and I’ve made this dish with:

No Bull

Vivera

Meatless Farm Co.

No Bull wins, nice and meaty, keeps its texture and consistency well and looks like meat. Meatless Farm Co came in bottom, the consistency was too soft.

For burgers, I love the Linda McCartney Pulled Pork burger, my boyfriend really doesn’t (more for me!) he likes the Beyond Meat Burger (as used in the aforementioned restaurant) but I don’t.

Personal taste.

I could go on as the same principals apply to dairy alternatives for milk and cheese. It’s trial and error. I can’t use nut milk for instance as my tummy really doesn’t like it and after going through soya, hemp, coconut and cashew milk, I settled on oat milk. Nice and mild but there are lots of different brands to choose from. I eventually settled on Oatly Barista, perfect for hot drinks and on cereals.

I haven’t perfected veganism, I’m still learning about it and there will always be new recipes or places to eat.

I do recommend Veganuary as an excellent resource for anyone wanting to try it.

Also, you can’t go wrong with a decent cookbook and to that end I recommend Bosh. The guys behind Bosh make going vegan a piece of cake (pun intended).

For Italian cooking, the fab Chloe Coscarelli has an awesome take on veganising popular meat dishes.

For adventurous chefs Wicked Healthy will challenge your perceptions.

Yes, I have all these cookbooks and I use them 😀

Don’t forget, you’re changing a mindset that has had decades of conditioning and propaganda thrown at it. Even if you only do this once a week, it’s a good thing.

Propaganda (and how we tackle it) example below….

Dreams & Desires

As a young girl, I harboured dreams of becoming a famous actress. I would fantasise constantly of walking down the road and being “discovered” by Steven Spielberg, whisked off to Hollywood to live a life of Oscar parties, signing autographs and starring in movies with my favourite leading actors and actresses.

My reality, however, was quite different. I took up drama at school, hoping to achieve a qualification and continue on to college and maybe even join the ranks of RADA or LAMDA. My burning desire to become an actress still aflame, I joined the class at school only to soon discover that some of my bullies were in the same class.

The experience was soul-destroying. I couldn’t face two years of working at close quarters with some of the girls who had been making my life hell during my secondary years. The school failed me as they did so many other victims of bullying, my parents didn’t really comprehend what was going on, I had no support from anyone.

I gave up the class, swapped it for needlework (REALLY hated that!) and eventually ended up doing Physical Education which was a bit more manageable. Friday afternoons were double period so we’d go out ten-pin bowling or trying archery (which I loved).

I dampened down the flame of desire, went to work at 16, tried dabbling in Amdram when I was about 20, dipped in and out of writing and eventually decided to try for my A-Level in Drama & Theatre studies at a local college. I achieved a C-grade which, at the age of 27 and not having been in formal education for 11 years was quite an achievement. Buoyed by the experience, I did another two years (part-time I might add) at another local college, eventually achieving a Silver and Gold Medal for Solo Acting from the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Afterwards, I joined a local Amdram group very well-known in Southampton who put their productions on at the famous Nuffield Theatre. The play being performed was George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and I won the role of Eliza Doolittle. To say I was ecstatic is something of an understatement. I felt vindicated that my dreams and desires weren’t just the fanciful escapist musings of an unhappy child but a real ambition. I could finally see myself as an actress and be taken seriously.

Fate’s cruel hand, intervened again though. A week before dress rehearsals, I was struck with flu and the group sacked me from the production. Another cast member had secretly been understudying me and stepped in to save the day as it were.

I can’t describe the feelings of humiliation and hurt I felt, especially as the director at the time did not have the decency to tell me face to face. I cut all ties with them and that was the year I moved away to London.

Fast forward ten years.

In my new home town in beautiful Lincolnshire where I have now been for almost four years I am now part of an amazing community of theatre lovers. I’ve been in three productions and achieved my dream of performing on stage. There is nothing like the feeling of being on stage. When I step out from behind the tabs, I feel like I’ve come home.

One of the nicest things about it is when people compliment me on my ability. The most recent production I was in was “Goodnight Mister Tom” by Michelle Magorian which the writer herself has adapted into a musical. It was hard work but a lot of fun and after the matinée performance, a lady came up to me and said, “Well done, I really liked you. You were my favourite.” To hear that was music to my ears, especially when the standard set by the rest of the cast was so high.

So, the point of this entry is this: Do not ever give up on your dreams. No matter what anyone says or does. There will be set backs, there will be discouragement. Ignore all the negativity and go for it. If I had been just that little bit stronger or had more belief in myself, I might have gone on to achieve my dream in a much bigger way.

PS – the header image is me as Detective Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Stolen Suspender. My first show back in 2015. Nerve racking but a lot of fun!

What Price A Life?

Every day, as I drive to work, I see at least one dead animal lying on the side of the road. Some look like they’re sleeping; others, well…

Whenever I see one of these unfortunate creatures, I always say “rest in peace” as I drive past. Unable to stop and move them to a better spot and every time, I just feel so heartbroken and sad.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who feel terrible when they hit an animal with their vehicle but equally, there are those who simply don’t give a damn and it’s this attitude that I find so depressing.

When did it happen that humans were able to decide that the life of a creature that is NOT human became so disposable? Just because animals don’t communicate the way we do, that they live as nature dictates, they follow their instincts. When were those traits deemed inferior to ours?

Take away the shell and what do you have? The soul of the creature within or an empty space? Are human beings really so arrogant as to believe that we are the only inhabitants of this planet capable of fear, pain, joy and love?

To kill an animal by accident is one thing but what of animals NOT killed by accident? The foxes, deers, badgers, hen harriers etc. “hunted” by humans in the name of sport or country tradition? The principle is the same, it’s the taking of a life by whatever means available and it’s that attitude again that these animals are fair game or pests to be controlled somehow.

Animals in research laboratories, treated with such cruelty and contempt in their short, miserable lives. Intense factory farming, chickens, by the thousands, kept in horrific, cramped conditions, the dead and dying beneath their diseased feet.

Race horses, greyhounds, seen as so disposable that they are usually euthanised when they have outlived their usefulness.

Elephants, rhinos, tigers, lions al under threat of extinction due to the selfish nature of human greed and corporate gluttony.

It goes from one extreme to the other.

I’m no angel and I don’t profess to be. I didn’t become vegetarian until Christmas 2014 and I’m only transitioning to veganism this year. What I am though is compassionate and I do my research. As painful as it is to see videos of animal abuse or the conditions some animals are forced to endure, I watch because I want to ensure I am making an informed choice and not just turning a blind, ignorant eye to the truth.

Animals were here before us, they’ll go on after us (provided we haven’t murdered them all into extinction). As the self-styled apex predators of this world (we most definitely are not), we have an obligation to care for and nuture, not just this beautiful world we live on, but the other animals that also live here. It is their planet too, they were not put here for us to consume and treat as commodities with no feelings.

We’re intelligent creatures, yes but we are also selfish, perpetuated through millenia and has made us feel so entitled to do what we want with the treasures of this world. If humans had chosen the path of living in equilibrium with the world it would be a vastly different place to what we inhabit now.

 

 

 

I Am A Suffragette!

100 years ago today, a momentous event took place in British history.

8 million women were given the right to vote.

The year was 1918. It was the 20th Century.

Today, we celebrate that turning point but, even after 100 years, women the world over are STILL fighting. For their voices to be heard. For equal pay in the workplace. For freedom from sexual harassment. To live in a society that treats us as equals, where we can walk the streets at night, confident in our safety from predators. To not hear demeaning and degrading comments from colleagues or the ordinary Joe on the street.

I am lucky in many respects. Being British, I have grown up in a country where child marriage is outlawed, girls have the same access to education as the boys, where women can dress how they want, go to work (or not) raise a family, get married, stay single, have a career, teach, read, write. The list is endless. But, we still have many industries and sections of society in the UK that continue to view women as second-rate citizens. Nothing more than tits on legs, there for fun or ridicule.

I still cannot fathom some of these outdated attitudes.

Are the men perpetrating these ideas of women’s lesser place really so afraid of us that the only way to battle that fear is to behave in the most cowardly way possible? Through bullying and repression?

Fear breeds hate; those who hate create a far more dangerous world than those who embrace change and see us as equals. Let’s be thankful for the men who HAVE stood by us, supported us and championed us!

There are so many countries where girls and women are subjugated and oppressed their entire lives. From cradle to grave. Child marriage. Honour killing. Rape as punishment. FGM. Sexual trafficking. Prevention of education. The list is not exhaustive.

In Hollywood, the #MeToo movement has empowered hundreds of women to come forward, and shed light on the predatory practises of heavy weights in the multi-billion dollar movie industry. Women who are at the top of their game and who should be celebrated for their achievements routinely humiliated and abused behind closed doors. But, time is almost up for this most ferocious behemoth.

So, the fight goes on. A lot has changed in 100 years but there is a long way to go. For millions of women the world over, the fight goes on.

https://plan-international.org/because-i-am-a-girl/issues-affecting-girls

#MeToo

#TimesUp

P.S. Anyone who says that the Suffragettes fought for us to also have the right to abstain from voting, sorry, you are wrong. Those women fought, bled and died for you to have a voice so bloody well use it.

 

New Year’s Resolutions…..yeah, right..

Sorry, I just don’t believe in making promises to myself for a New Year that I will probably fail within the first few weeks. I believe that you should maintain your goals for as long as it takes to achieve them, whether that be five months or five years.

Horizon Skies took me five years to complete. That was because I had to fit it in around my very busy day job, three house moves, amdram and the day-to-day business of life. If I had stuck to every New Year’s Resolution in that five years I might have finished the book sooner and got it out quicker but I don’t currently have the luxury of being able to call writing my day job. That is something I am steadily working towards and each year does bring me a little closer.

My boyfriend is now reading my completed manuscript, he’s only two chapters in but has already said that it comes across as a compelling story so the hook has worked; the prologue and the first chapter have got him interested in reading more and that is only a good thing.

I have already plotted the sequel and another standalone book which I have made a start on so 2018 should represent exciting times for me.

There are other goals though that I do think deserve better attention than I’ve been inclined to provide in the past.

Eat healthy, exercise more and less alcohol are achievable. I have massively indulged myself over the last couple of weeks and one thing I have noticed as I head to my mid-40s is that aches and pains are a little more frequent, the body a little stiffer in the mornings. Not good.

I still feel very young in my mind and spirit but if I don’t take care of the vessel that contains my very being I will end up a withered old lady. So, it’s back to the Yoga and the Walk At Home programme which I really enjoyed.

I am quite lazy by nature, it takes a lot for me to get motivated and earlier in 2017 I was experiencing a weird heart condition which was diagnosed as an ectopic heartbeat. My doctor said it was a wake up call to manage my stress better and not to overdo the exercise (I was working out every single day) so I went the other way and stopped altogether. My heart is doing better, I don’t feel the skipped beat anymore but I do still experience palpitations, these go back to the stress I was under at my previous job and they haven’t gone away. It’s another reason why I want to get out of the rat race and make a living as a writer. Work under my own steam, doing something I truly love and enjoy.

Completing Horizon Skies was all the motivation I needed to write more. When I wrote the final words, I knew then that I could do it, write a book, see it through to the end and if I can write one book then, I can surely write another.

The over indulgence of Christmas and New Year has left my body feeling tender and quite battered. The alcohol has given me some very weird and vivid dreams, the rich food made me sluggish and heavy. That’s the motivation I need to take better care of myself (my heart being the most important aspect). So, I’m looking forward to going on a nice little walk, getting some fresh air into my lungs (as fresh as it can be living near the A1!) and just getting myself moving.

So, whatever it is that motivates you, make that your goal, not a resolution. Most people fail at their resolutions before the end of January (new diet, stopping smoking etc.) so just keep your goal in mind and whether you achieve it this or next year doesn’t matter. The journey matters more than the destination.

 

Sticks and Stones

Last week was anti-bullying week. I have written about my experiences of bullying in previous posts but every time the campaign resurfaces, my old bullying demons decide to rear their very ugly heads.

Having gone through years of being bullied at every single school I attended, I went out into the workplace at the tender age of 16 thinking I had left all that behind, only to discover that not only was workplace bullying a common occurrence but that I was to be granted no reprieve and became a victim once more on several occasions.

I am yet to reconcile my feelings of anger over what happened to me. I still boil with resentment when I think back to how so many different people treated me. In my experience, girls are the worst. They can be vicious, vindictive and downright evil when belittling someone they consider to be beneath them. During my latter school years, they almost drove me to suicide. In one work place, a particular tormentor managed to turn all my colleagues against me.

No one helped.

My friends could only do so much. I was lucky to not be totally alone as some victims of bullying are. My home life wasn’t a happy one so I kept a lot from my parents and retreated into my books and music, squirreling myself away in my room to be alone with thoughts of worthlessness whirling around my head.

Bullying is one of the most psychologically damaging experiences a person can go through. At a young age, those seeds of discord are sown so deep that the roots will remain long after the experiences have been consigned to the past.

I am no longer a victim of bullying, I am a survivor but it still hurts.

My heart breaks every time I read in the news that a child has killed him or herself as a direct result of being bullied. Why aren’t the bullies being arrested and charged with murder? Why aren’t their friends or parents being arrested as accessories to the crime? Because that is what it is. Driving someone to take their own life is murder.

I understand that a lot of bullies become the way they are as a result of their own unhappiness, they lash out and pick someone who they perceive as being too weak to fight back. Then again, there are some who bully simply because they get a kick out of it, in my opinion, this makes them a sociopath.

Whatever the reasons behind their actions (reasons or compulsions?) I will always loathe those who seek to destroy the essence of a person, make them feel worthless, that life isn’t worth living, that no one loves or cares for them. I know this to be untrue. Victims of bullying tend to be those with the greatest potential. We’re the geeks, nerds, the wordy kids, the kids who are bit different. Ultimately, we are better than those who belittle us.

To all the bullies out there who may read this, just remember, karma has a very long memory and she is more vicious than you can ever be.

Ruby Redfort, Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can also hurt me.
Stones and sticks break only skin, while words are ghosts that haunt me.
Slant and curved the word-swords fall, it pierces and sticks inside me.
Bats and bricks may ache through bones, but words can mortify me.
Pain from words has left its’ scar, on mind and heart that’s tender.
Cuts and bruises have not healed, it’s words that I remember.

Tell Me No Lies

I appeal to anyone with a modicum of sense to stop taking as gospel, the continuing smear campaign perpetrated against Jeremy Corbyn by the right-wing media. It’s time these people woke up and smelt the coffee.

Let’s start with the “news” papers shall we? It’s in their interests to keep the Tories in power so their owners can continue their lavish lifestyles and demonise anyone who doesn’t toe the line of Tory rhetoric.

So, if you read The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Times or any of their subsidiary publications you are being manipulated by their unfair and completely biased reporting. It’s also scary that you would allow yourself to take what they spoon feed you as absolute gospel. Why would you allow this instead of getting the facts for yourself?

Which brings me onto my next point. Corbyn being painted as a full on supporter of the IRA and terrorist sympathiser. This is simply not true and again, why are people believing what is being spouted to them by the gutter press? Why not go and investigate the facts for yourself? Corbyn has condemned violence on all sides of the struggle and supports the fight for peace when it is conducted in a civilised non-violent manner. I could be photographed in a room full of Tory supporters (gods forbid) but it doesn’t make me a Conservative (hell no!) Corbyn believes in round the table discussions and diplomacy, he doesn’t believe in violence. When it came to Hamas and Hezbollah, Corbyn is being vilified for the use of the term “our friends.” You know what? It’s a colloquialism, not a reference to them being best buddies. He was hardly going to invite two opposing factions for a discussion and refer to them as “our enemies” was he? That wouldn’t have been very diplomatic would it?

People forget that back in the 80’s, Margaret Thatcher was friends with General Pinochet and Robert Mugabe. Ruthless dictators responsible for the torture, imprisonment, murder and displacement of untold thousands.

Now, I don’t pretend to be the most politically savvy person to walk the earth but I’m savvy enough to know when facts are manipulated and fiction is presented as truth. These are the reasons why I don’t read the newspapers.

So, where do I get my information from if not the “free press”? Well, I’m connected to a lot more politically savvy people on Twitter than myself, I research and read independent publications and blogs and I’m so bloody minded that I will always stand by my views.

I also have the benefit of experience. Of growing up in a poor family of Tory controlled Britain in the 1980’s, seeing first hand what the Tories were capable of even then. Having a parent be one of the 3 million unemployed because cuts made to British manufacturing meant no job came without the threat of future redundancy. My parents suffered massively in those days and as a young child, I didn’t fully understand what we were going through. I grew up on a council estate, on benefits, free school dinners and hand me down clothes whilst my parents worked hard, scrimped and struggled to achieve a better life for our family.  Every single penny mattered to us, where it came from and what it was spent on. I would never wish that kind of existence onto another family but it’s still happening today and when I hear people being told to “work hard”, I just think, “some have to hold down two or three jobs to get by, if that’s not hard work then what is?”

For the NHS Jeremy Hunt wants a U.S. style system where it’s all done through insurance but a glimpse at a medical bill in the U.S. is heart stopping and those bills come in the second a patient sees a doctor or gets into an ambulance. Imagine having to deal with that if someone you love had just died in a terrible accident or you were on life support and returned home to thousands of pounds worth of debt? What if you couldn’t even afford the insurance? What then?

I’ve heard people say, “don’t have kids if you can’t afford to pay for them”. I think that’s such a crass, sweeping statement that generalises and demonises poor families into one category: “scroungers”. This makes my blood boil. Family situations can change at any time; you could be ticking over nicely until the company you work for decides to close its doors and relocate to the Far East in favour of cheap labour and manufacturing costs. Mass redundancies  in one area has a huge impact on unemployment figures and social funding. Thousands of people in one town or city aren’t suddenly going to get snapped up for the same jobs elsewhere. So what, there are people who do scrounge (I believe they’re called bankers, hedge fund managers, billionaire non dom tax exiles etc) but if you’re thinking of those who pop out a couple of kids to get a council house, remember this – they are the minority and do not represent the majority of those in need but it’s just too damn easy to bully the less fortunate isn’t it?

If you’re voting Tory because of Brexit then I have to ask you, what makes the NHS, public services, emergency services, schools, the disabled and mentally ill (all of whom have suffered extreme financial cuts) far less important than whether or not we belong in the EU? Where has that magical £350 million a week for the NHS disappeared to? (It was on a big red bus if you remember).

What about the environment and the terrible damage caused by fracking when it’s clear that renewable energy is the way forward? What about animal welfare? 80% of the British public opposes fox-hunting but we’re being ignored. The Tories have even dropped their pledge to ban the ivory trade condemning elephants ever closer to extinction.

Does any of this matter to you?

If it does, give it some thought. You might change your mind, you might not. The decision is yours but don’t let the media and the press make it for you.

National Vegetarian Week

From the 15th to the 21st May, vegetarianism is being properly celebrated. I’m ignoring the narrow minded Twitter trolls who love to bully us veggies because they’re the ones making the choice to live in ignorance.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this lovely recipe I threw together at the weekend. Feel free to adapt to your own tastes. Even meat eaters can adapt this for their “needs”.

 

Risotto recipe

Apologies for lack of pictorial evidence but thedish went down rather well and was polished off before the opportunity arose!

Love & Hate

Today, I came across the news of the brutal and shocking murder of transwoman Dandara dos Santos in Brazil. The filming of her murder, which has gone viral, has led to the arrest of some, but not all, of the perpetrators. The crime, shocking in its ferocity and of taking place in plain sight of residents of the area is sadly, one of hundreds being committed against the global #LGBTQ community every single day.

Whilst I struggle to get my head round the facts of what she was put through, how she begged for her life and the utter fear she must have felt in her last moments, it saddens me further that despite living at a time when people of the rainbow can express themselves freely, come to terms with their sexuality, their gender type and being “different” that there are still those who seek to persecute, harm, humiliate and ultimately kill them.

I ask, what have these people ever done to you? What has caused you to have so much hate in your heart for someone who was born in the wrong body? Boys who grew up and realised they liked other boys instead of girls and vice versa?

I put out a Tweet today that simply says:

If someone is not educated on a subject of which they know little they are ignorant of that subject. Ignorance breeds fear for, if you are ignorant of something, how can you understand it? If you don’t understand it, you begin to fear it, hate grows from that fear. What do people do when they hate something? They attack with no rhyme or reason.

So many perpetrators of these crimes claim to be Christians or of some other religious persuasion and they feel justified because to be #LGBTQ goes against those teachings. Well, hang on a minute, isn’t “God” supposed to be all merciful and forgiving? In Christianity, aren’t we all “God’s Creatures”? If so, shouldn’t we ALL then be treated equally? The hypocrisy of religion and it being used as an excuse to persecute minority, gender or ethnic groups is enough to make my blood boil.

The expression, “that’s so gay” has become a buzzword to be used in a derogatory and insulting way when having a bit of banter. I hear it a lot in my office environment, on social media etc. even in Shaun of the Dead (ok, the script is fiction but, even so). How has a word for sexual orientation become an insult in a day and age when society really should be past all that crap?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Education is the key. If our schools adopted a broader approach to sex education, including sexuality, gender identity etc. then surely, kids will grow up with a better attitude towards it and it just becomes part of society’s fabric. If religious people could look past their zealotry and realise that fear and hate just make things worse in society then surely they could live their lives by the better teachings and look past the hypocrisy.

In countries where society is still lagging far behind, I can only hope that the rest of us can set a better example. We need stronger laws to protect the rights of the #LGBTQ community and people need to learn that just because someone is gay, transgender etc., it doesn’t make them a danger to others (why is that such a common misconception?) It smacks of a kind of arrogance when straight men are afraid of gay men. What, do you really think all gay men are dying to get into your y-fronts? I think not.

Take the blinkers off, broaden your mind and educate yourself. If you are one of the lucky ones in this world who doesn’t suffer abuse and persecution then how about lending a helping hand to those who are suffering? You don’t have to go on a Pride March in your best Spandex but allow those people who do to live their lives with as much rights and freedom as you have.

Dedicated to Dandara dos Santos x