Miranda Leslau PR

PR in Black and White

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Miranda Leslau PR - PR in Black and White

The tides of life…

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The Big Blue… not only one of my favourite films as some of you will already know, but also my favourite place to be. I could live and die in the sea. She holds no prisoners when it comes to selecting whom she ‘takes’ and the miracle of how tides ‘ebb and flow’ is one of the greatest wonders of the world.

I took a day off yesterday. My thyroid hormone levels are messed up and I feel like I have been run over. But swimming out to sea, actually quite far so I couldn’t hear the white noise from the shore, helped me re-connect with myself. The ‘Poniente’ wind from The Atlantic is keeping the water icy cold and clean right now (and the jelly fish stay away). It is pretty perfect.

My dad taught me about the sea. I was a Fish and Sea fanatic from the age of two, probably. Jacques Cousteau, Royal Dotty Backs (only found in Australia), fishing and dolphins were like oxygen for me. I must have been a fish in a past life (as well as a February born Piscean, with the ‘watery’ eyes) as I learnt to swim when I was really small and was totally fearless. I didn’t eat fish for years after I went to a trout farm. I felt like my cousins were being slaughtered. Never felt like that about cows, mind you, before anyone makes a wise crack.

As I swam out yesterday and then started to venture back into shore, the following struck me. It is so much harder to swim back into shore than it is to go out to sea. And thus a life analogy presents itself… “The tide is high…” Blondie told us; “If leaving me is easy…” sang Phil Collins.

If you fall down, you have to pick yourself up or you just wallow and stay down; coming back or fighting for a relationship is so much harder than walking away; re-building your business is like climbing treacle when you are at a low ebb (excuse the pun). Life constantly presents us with a different sandy or pebbly shore to reach and tide to swim against.

During my swim back into shore and the humdrum of ‘beach life’, I felt every muscle working in my body; I know the cold water is great for my circulation and skin tone and salt water is one of the best forms of lymph drainage around (apart from Epsom Salts, of course). I was conscious of every stroke and breath, particularly as I have a 50% vocal airway. Sea water is great for sinus infections, eczema and allergies, as well as all manner of ailments (The Dead Sea where I used to live is a separate blog in itself!). Yet we don’t respect the sea enough. Or is it that we don’t respect ourselves enough?

I would actually like to be buried at sea. Not being morbid, simply a wish. Having a bit of a ‘submariner’ adventure could be brilliant and giving my soul and energy back to the Universe via my fishy ‘cousins’ would be far better than rotting in a NW London cemetery (sorry Mum, I know I promised we would be buried together). Just don’t bury me with my shoe collection. A shoal of tuna would end up with the most horrific indigestion trying to munch on my stilettos and ‘bling bling’ heels.

I swam such a long way out yesterday. The space beneath me was infinite. I could see everything clearly – lots of fish swimming about, minding their own business and also me, I could see me. But I had no concept of danger. Dry land, yes. Heights, yes. The sea, never. Even when I know that there are sharks around. Sharks are far less dangerous than humans. At least you know what a shark’s teeth look like from afar!

During a visit to Israel one year, I went on a ‘wild’ jeep ride with a Bedouin to Nuweiba, in Egypt, to a ‘deaf and dumb’ (inbred in layman’s terms, I am guessing) community that was ‘befriended’ by a dolphin in the wild in the 90′s. I could feel vibrations all through (and under) my body as I was led into the sea by a mute gentleman… the dolphin swam up into my arms from below and we played together for a while. It was one of THOSE precious life moments, totally unexpected and natural. But I never looked down or felt scared. I just knew I would be OK.

And I think this is what we all have to believe: that whatever we are going through or however strong the tide is against us, if we keep swimming, we will get there. No need to look down or panic about the unknown and as my dad wrote in my Spanish dictionary when I was 18 - ”No rendir la bandera” (don’t give up). Which is quite fitting on Father’s Day. My dad would have appreciated my ‘moment’ yesterday. Keep swimming, people… everyone knows it is harder to damage muscle in water than on dry land.

For the love of money…

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Today, I am thinking about money. My relationship with it. A lack of it. How to create more of it and envisaging what my longer term financial future looks like. Why you may well ask? Well, two of my clients and friends, John Lee and Vincent Wong, have written an amazing new book called “The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When and the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy”. Aside from skim-reading it from a work perspective, I have taken time out to read it with fresh eyes. From the outside in, if you like.

In simple terms the book is brilliant and a must-read. For some of you reading this blog you will throw popcorn at the screen and shout “Self-development… pah”. For others, a few cynical comments about wealth and money and for others, you will actually go onto Amazon.co.uk and buy a copy. I would stick with the last group if I were you. And here is why.

This book opens our eyes to our personal relationship with money and wealth. Many of our self-limiting beliefs are borne from those of our parents or peer group. Who remembers their parents telling them “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “Money is the root of all evil”? Such negativity is usually felt by those without money. One of the lines in the book so far that has resonated with me most is… “Money solves the problems that not having money creates” (Source: page 32, “The Wealth Dragon Way”). Interesting thought…

I have grown up and known a LOT of people with A LOT of money. Whilst my mother came from a relatively successful middle class NW London Jewish family, my mum and I were homeless when I was five, albeit briefly. My mum’s charm acquired us a Council house in NW London (may the Lord bless the Councillor who shall remain nameless who helped my mum) and she did three or four jobs to keep me fed. I would sit by the window and cry every day for fear of abandonment so she got a job at my junior school (as well).

On the flip side, other members of my close and extended family and friends were extremely wealthy – ‘cinema-in-the-top-of-the-house’ kind of wealthy. I always wanted that life. I was ashamed of living in a Council house and would spend time arranging furniture and cleaning because I thought it would make my lovely little house more desirable. I was bullied at school for not having money (in junior and senior school) yet I worked every weekend from the age of 14 to make sure I had nice clothes and makeup and perfume: all the stuff that teenage girls want. I thought it would make me feel worthy. And ”money” is something we are not taught about in school, sadly.

I never understood about saving or investing. Even though my mum’s father had ensured I had my Post Office Savings Book and I got £5 pocket money from my dad every week, I was never taught how or why to save or invest. I just wanted the quick fix I guess to make me feel more accepted and also to help my mum. I was a spender because I didn’t know any better. I wanted to feel rich rather than be rich. I used my savings to go on holidays and have nice things. And ironically when I have been most “wealthy” in my life, I have been most unhappy and isolated. If I had that money now I would use it very differently and invest. Life lessons are life lessons.

Roll forward to today… I am not rich per se. I earn good money and I work extremely hard for my clients but I am not financially wealthy with assets to show. Emotionally and spiritually wealthy, yes. I know how to be a “débrouillarde”, a great French word that I can also attribute to my late mum as well, but that I cannot 100% find a translation for and I give to charity as much as I can. I can juggle finances well and manage/survive. I can buy prudently and I do a lot with what I have but the gaping hole in my life is passive income, which is one of the areas that the book covers.

I work with many, many successful property investors and entrepreneurs. I ghost write about property and business. I did an amazing deal with a developer to buy the property where I live, I have great property contacts if I wanted to invest (particularly in Spain) and I find many properties that are a steal. My life dream is to have a boutique hotel/house with a pool, fruit trees and an organic vegetable garden. And to make it the best boutique hotel in Spain – and I know it would be. BUT and there is a but here, I ask myself why I don’t have what I dream about…? Because ”I don’t have the money” is my usual answer or this is what I tell myself. Which is the wrong attitude. I know this. It annoys me. I annoy me.

I don’t have the wealth that I deserve or should have in relation to the hours I put in or the age I am. Having had Cancer last year and five operations in 16 months, I also worry about money. If I am not well, whilst medical insurance will cover my medical costs (and I have the money to pay the monthly subs), what happens if I can’t work? These are concerns for all of us and the only way to ensure that these “life concerns” are minimised is through taking ownership of our own financial future. And this is where this book can help people from all backgrounds and regardless of their age or where they live.

“The Wealth Dragon Way” talks about “moral wealth” versus “monetary wealth”. I have high “moral wealth” just not the latter, ie “monetary wealth”. This must change in order for me to be able to do in life what I need and want to do, in order to create the space in my head to enjoy the rest of my life (and so you guys can come and visit ‘Pucci Palace’, the boutique hotel, LOL – just don’t steal the name). When you are told you have Cancer, you realise that life can change very fast. With no warning and you see very clearly that a day has 24 precious hours and that each second counts.

When you have more money you have more choice. Money doesn’t guarantee happiness, and I can vouch for this having also seen lots of very unhappy and lonely rich people. BUT money and infinite wealth can and will grant you more freedom within your lifetime, if you use it wisely. Not just for you but also for your family and loved ones. And in this respect the value is infinite. Wealth becomes infinite in its very essence. And that, my friends, is priceless. “The Wealth Dragon Way” is a must read. I wish John and Vincent every success with this book.

 

I will be giving away one FREE copy of this book on Twitter this week if you follow me @MirandaPRGuru

 

 

Grief: Human and Humane

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I haven’t blogged for ages. My brain hasn’t had the blue sky space to breathe. Give me a week or so and my mercurial flow will resume. For now, I wanted to share this with you. It was the anniversary of my mum’s death last Saturday (15 years) and with so many sad stories of loss pervading timelines and heart strings, I hope this brings comfort to some… I wrote it back in 2005, after my dad died.

No-one likes to talk about death yet it is the only part of life that is guaranteed (apart from Rich Tea biscuits falling into your tea and your phone running out of juice just when you need it). I have had loads of therapy during my lifetime. As a teenager who had seen more of life than any 14 year old should, I sat in The Tavistock Clinic four lunchtimes out of five for five years during senior school. It was hellish. And then Freud, Jung, CBT et al all got mashed up in my brain for the following 20 years or so via more transference from therapists and psychologists than you could possibly imagine.

The ONLY counselling or therapy that I genuinely benefitted from in all these years was bereavement counselling. And I would recommend it to anyone grieving right now. I went to see someone from Jewish Care (they offer Bereavement Counselling). My Counsellor, Helen, (I have changed her name) was a very Frum (religious) Jewish lady who wore a Sheitl (wig) and lived in a very nice part of NW London. To this day, I have so much respect for what this lady shared with me and how much she helped me move forward after I lost my parents. Had I met her in the street I would never have imagined the wisdom she might have shared or inspired.

Grief IS a process. It has phases and stages. For those hurling themselves through the high seas after loss it CAN help to acknowledge this. It doesn’t change or minimise the pain but it may help you realise that what you are feeling and experiencing is quite normal. You are not going mad. And talking about  death is not morbid. It is both human and humane.

Miranda Leslau considers the topic of grief and how you can help mourners with the recovery process…

As children we rarely envisage that life will change as we get older, that our parents will get wrinkles and that humans of any age get sick and die, unless of course you experience loss at a young age.  

However old or young you are when you lose someone close to you, you, the mourner, feels different to the rest of the world, that sound somehow increases to stereo while life carries on in slow motion. You feel that nothing will ever be the same again, that eating your breakfast will always taste slightly different and that no-one will ever understand what you are going through.

I don’t just say this from my own personal experience of having lost both my parents at the age of 30 (my mum, of pneumonia of all things) and 34 respectively (my dad, of a violent and short-lived secondary cancer) but also based on the experiences of my nearest and dearest who have lost parents, children and partners. All of whom have lost people they truly loved.

Whilst not all of us will be parents in our lifetime, every one of us is or has been someone’s child, regardless of the calibre of the parent-child relationship, whether you have been adopted or abandoned. And losing those close to you can take you back to being a vulnerable child, standing at the school gates on the first day of nursery school with no friends. Regardless of whether you are eight or 80 at the time of your loss, you may feel utterly alone.

When my parents died I allowed myself to accept their passing. I wasn’t angry and didn’t ask “Why?” which is what is often asked to many a bereavement counsellor and/or therapist. I accepted that their death granted me a new lease of life – one that was short and of my own making. I chose to accept less nonsense, to experience what I wanted to experience and to live life to the full.  

The last thing my late mother said to me was “Don’t do anything stupid”. She meant kill myself I think and that I did not do although at times I did want the earth to swallow me whole. But it didn’t and time passed and I am getting on with my life. For their sakes if nothing else. However much we earn, however much beauty the gods have bestowed upon us, if it is our time, it is our time. No questions asked and no forgiveness.

When I saw my parents bodies after they had stopped breathing, they were both smiling, which was a comfort to me. I don’t know if all corpses smile but the strangest part for me was that when I touched their arm they didn’t react. I spoke their name while the tears rolled down my exhausted cheeks and they didn’t respond. My dad didn’t call me “Bubelah” and comment on what I was wearing and my mum didn’t share one of her loving glances. And then I never saw them again outside of a wooden box and, later on, a designated space in a graveyard.

Generally speaking, mourners remain in a state of shock for some time after the initial death, will rarely remember a funeral clearly and only come to terms with the harsh reality of loss some months later, when those around them who may not have experienced loss think that they may be well on the way to recovery. Not the case.

It is then and only then that the grieving process begins, the heart-wrenching trauma of being on a roller coaster ride at any time of day or night, the hysteria and desperation that constitutes a healthy bereavement process.

As some retreat into their shells, for others, keeping busy is a lifeline. But for the people around the bereaved, it is imperative that you just let mourners just ‘be’. Unless you have experienced the loss of a loved one it is very hard to appreciate a mourner’s fragility. You may think your grieving friend or relative is rude not returning phone calls. Don’t take it personally, they are trying to come to terms with the difficulty of getting up in the morning, let alone how to engage in social rituals.

And there are no hard or fast rules with grief. It is very personal and individually life-changing. Undoubtedly, we all change through loss. Some of us for the better and some become hard and emotionally disengaged. I have known people at both ends of the spectrum and am finding myself drawn to both ends from time to time.

Your loss manifests itself into every new and existing relationship. For me, I am still trying to manage myself having met a man I care about and how I deal with those feelings. Whether that derives parental loss and fear of losing again or life experiences from way back, these feelings stay with me. Hopefully, they will dissipate over time, with support and understanding.  

For those of us who bring new life into the world where other lives have passed on, this unearths a whole series of issues and questions. But none of what I am talking about has not been experienced before, by others all over the world and by generations past, present and future.

It is important to talk to other people that have experienced loss, whether they are loved ones, Counsellors, online help groups or similar. Whatever helps, go with it, regardless of how strange and diverse your choice of tool might be. You never get over a loss but you do learn to manage and re-build your life again. The sadness will always be there, it will just become less raw and overwhelming in nature. I miss my parents more than I can explain in words – who do you go and talk to when things go right or wrong? And who can comfort you more than a parent?

Sadly I can’t really remember what my mum looked like, in spite of her glorious photographic representation. Knowing her seems like a very long time ago even thought she was my bestest friend for 30 years. I still imagine my father shuffling down my Highgate hallway calling for me: “Pidulka” (strange but true!) “How are you my baby?” expecting him to give me a great big “knuffle” (hug, in Yiddish) and almost squeeze me, dare I say it, to death. My dad would have made a great Jewish ‘Bubba’ (Grandmother). Before my eyes well up I should stop typing.  In my personal book of grief “…til death do us part” is not the end. It is the only the beginning as I carry them everywhere I go… and for me personally, that is what gets me through the day.