Dr JJ – August 2019

DR JJ – A Short Story

 

Foreword

According to spiritual doctrine, animals may reincarnate six times before taking on a human form in their 7th Life. I am now a human Doctor. In my past life, I was a Doggo Doctor called Dr JJ although I wasn’t formally trained. Love was enough. This is my story of Life, Love and Death. And my doggo Mummy, Miranda.

15th May 2010

“¡Mamá! Mira… La madre ha dado a luz!”

“Look, mum! The mummy has given birth”

It was my first day on Earth that I can remember. It was quite hot and dusty. I couldn’t see but there was lots of noise. Other doggos and my mummy doggo. She wasn’t interested in me. I listened to conversations. I was the ‘runt’ of the litter, whatever that meant. Someone kicked me. That hurt.

As the days passed, I started to become familiar with my surroundings. The sky was blue, the ground was golden. We lived near the water, but I was scared. My brothers and sisters had left for some reason and I was on my own with my mum. She said to me in doggo language “This is your 6th incarnation, beautiful boy. You have a Life Purpose to fulfil and a Sacred Soul. You may have a difficult start in Life but you will find a wonderful human friend to guide you to the 7th Life. Be patient. Run free and go find your Human”.

I didn’t really understand all that stuff. I just wanted to stay with my doggo mum – she was beautiful. But she told me to go and you are supposed to listen to your mum, so I did. I didn’t like being kicked about anyway. So I ran… and kept running, not sure of where I was going or what I would find. It was hot. I was hungry. Some people in cars stopped and gave me water and some food. They were kind humans but I was scared they might hurt me like the Spanish family did.

I spent many nights wandering in the Spanish grasslands – fields of poppies; flashes of pink and red and orange. What beautiful scenery. Bugs crawling everywhere – butterflies overhead, guiding me and telling me which way was the best view. I found the sea and eventually plucked up the courage to go in the water. I was still scared and alone. I loved to chase the birds. They were such gossips, those birds. They made me laugh though.

A human couple on the beach put something around my neck and pulled me towards them. I wasn’t sure where I was going but went along with it. Maybe, THIS was my human. At first, they were nice, then they started to get drunk a lot and left me outside, forgetting to feed me. One day, the man human started to put cigarettes out on my fur. That wasn’t funny. The lady human just laughed and pulled my tail, so I bit her. She cried and the man hit me. The next day, I was put in their car with the same thing around my neck and taken somewhere with lots of sad doggos. I was apparently in a rescue centre. I decided not to bark anymore and just hid away.

I sat in the back of the pen for months on end – sometimes it was boiling hot, other times, it was freezing cold and wet. There were no poppies anywhere, just dust and mud and mountains. I saw signs around called ADANA. According to the other doggos, I was in a doggo rescue centre in a place called Estepona, wherever that was. My heart was hurting a bit and I couldn’t always breathe properly. My nose was dry and I didn’t want to stay there. The humans at the Shelter were nice to me but I knew they weren’t MY human, until one day, in August 2012, I heard a powerful car engine turn up to the Shelter. The magical butterflies who guided me along the roads were now in my tummy. I was a bit excited and they told me to “get ready”.

3rd August 2012

I saw my perfect human from the back of the pen. She bent down and said “Hi!” in the kindest of ways I have ever known. She had beautiful eyes, just like marbles. THIS was my human but I didn’t know what to do.

“I saw Charlie on the website. My nephew is called Charlie and he is special. I want another special dog to be friends with my lone wolf rescue doggo, Pucci. She needs a buddy”

I didn’t know my name was Charlie and I certainly didn’t know what a website was. But I loved her voice. It had a calming quality, reminding me of my own doggo mummy. I decided to move towards her.

“Hey Charlie, hello darling…”. As I got closer to her, I could smell her. She was perfect. She was my Life Purpose. I knew it. I hope she did too. I still couldn’t bark though.

She put something around my neck and walked about with me. I was so excited I could have popped. She looked into my eyes and I looked into hers. My doggo mum’s words were in my head and I just knew.

“I’ll take him,” she said.

She took me into the special clinic – I started to pull her along now, after she put a thing around my neck. I just couldn’t contain my excitement. I was microchipped, meaning she was my new human mummy. I had to take some tablets and she put me in her cool fast car. The roof was down. She strapped me in and off we went.

She drove fast. The wind caressed my face and I closed my eyes. I was almost home. The butterflies came to see us en route and winked at me. Now I knew why butterflies had markings on their wings. To wink, of course. When the car stopped, she carried me out carefully and we walked up the stairs to her home. And then reality hit.

A stunning Cocker Spaniel with bright eyes and golden curls was there to greet me. What a biatch. Pucci was her name. She told me she was boss and that I came last in the pack order as she wiggled her perfect bottom at me. She wasn’t flirting like some of the female dogs in the rescue centre. She was just a Princess and she told me I had to refer to her as “Princess Pucci” at all times. She said our Human was perfect but she cried a lot because the man she loved didn’t love her. Pucci said we had a lot of work to do and that my new name was JJ, after our mum’s late mother, “June” and late father, “Jack”.

Over the next few months, Pucci, myself and my new mummy became a family. I would lie on my mummy’s bottom. She had a nice bottom. Pucci would lie in her arms or cuddle into her tummy when it hurt every month. I am not sure what happened every month but I let Pucci deal with minor ailments. She was like a nurse and always licked our mum’s eyes when her head hurt. I wanted to be the Doctor of the House – I needed to save my mummy. Pucci told me we had to check her breathing every night so we took it in turns to make sure our mummy was still alive every morning. She was.

Our mummy kept crying though and seemed to be in a lot of pain. I could smell something weird in her neck. I knew what it was. I told Pucci and she just got angry. “It’s cancer,” I told Pucci. Pucci started to bark at me. She wasn’t having that. But as time went on and we saw our human crying more and more, I just kept licking her neck, obsessively. She had to realise there was something wrong. She was sleeping a lot and was visibly suffering – when her legs burned, I lay on them. I wanted to take her pain away but didn’t know how. She would tell Pucci and I how much pain she was in. Pucci and I had regular meetings to discuss a plan of action but our human needed human help too.

…”JJ just won’t leave my neck alone. There is definitely something wrong. He always knows when I have a cut or bite. He sniffs it out, licks it and it heals within days. My throat feels like it is full of razor blades. What am I going to do?”, said our mummy to her human sister, (Aunty) Monica.

January 2014

“I told you!”, I said to Pucci. Pucci was thinking and didn’t want to be disturbed – she paced up and down on the marble floor. We could see our human crying, alone and feeling lost. She was reading and re-reading an email saying she had cancer. Pucci jumped up on the chair and tried to read but she couldn’t read human English. She just stomped her paw and let out a howl of frustration.

We just didn’t understand how the best human we ever knew was on her own so much of the time AND had cancer. That just didn’t seem fair. Pucci had also had a bad start in life. Humans had beaten her and left her pregnant on the road. She was a tough, angry doggo but she loved our human with all her brittle heart. And I could never hate her for that. Our mutual interest was our mum who loved us with all of her bottomless heart. Pucci was like our mum’s outside personality – the tough survivor. I was like her soft, vulnerable and gentle inside. Like a watermelon, Pucci and I agreed. We both loved watermelon.

We didn’t see our human for a while but when we did, she had a big hole in her throat and couldn’t really talk. Her voice changed and she struggled to move her neck. I tried to get the dressing off her neck but couldn’t. I just wanted to make her better. I worked out that the cancer must have been removed as she smelt different. That was a relief, at least. I couldn’t believe that she was taking us out walking, me ahead and Pucci following my lead, even though she had a hole in her neck.

I had designated myself as the King of La Cala, where we lived. Pucci and I had agreed that she was the boss inside the house and I was the boss on the street. She had little legs so struggled to keep up with my longer strides. We found our balance though and our darling mum stood between us as we walked the streets, greeting locals as we walked.

More people started to come to the house – adults and children alike. Spanish voices, English voices, sometimes the queues went all around the street. I was plonked on people’s laps for some reason. I knew when one of them was sick. It was obvious to me. It was beneath Pucci’s pay grade, as she kept telling me, to sniff other humans. “I am like a super model. I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day,” Pucci would regularly remind me. I now had a nickname… “Dr JJ”.

The people kept on coming until I could smell a change of season in the air. Then the film crews and photographers. I loved the cameras. My mum and I would do loads of selfies anyway. I knew how to pose. Pucci hated photos so this gave me more time with our mum. She showed us the TV and magazines and newspapers. Pucci was jealous, I could tell. I was famous and she wasn’t. I was Dr JJ.

I was a bit tired of being a doctor by the time it got to winter. I had been busy for so many months but wasn’t feeling great myself. My heart was hurting more and it hurt when I breathed. My mum took me to the vet. I bit her too. She was horrid so they muzzled me. I knew she didn’t like me – the vet, that is.

I had to take tablets – six a day. That was a lot but mum made it into a ritual and a game. She gave me a nice teeth cleaning stick every morning after my tablets. It was like a routine and if she got confused or forgot to give me my tablets, I stomped my paw on the dustbin. She still wasn’t well though. She kept falling over and hurting herself. Six times in total; she dislocated her shoulder twice (and popped it back in – I heard her do it, gross) and fell on the balcony door frame and fainted. Her leg had a massive deep wound. I licked her face until she was OK again.

When my mum’s throat closed over altogether, she really thought she was dying and genuinely panicked. It happened so many times, but I heard her saying that she only had half a throat and one half of one vocal cord that worked. So her breathing was compromised. I felt so helpless. I didn’t know what to do. I was angry with a world that allowed my perfect mum to be sick.

People still came and went, looking for answers about their children or parents’ health. I had to be on tip top form but in all honesty, I didn’t want to use my skill for anyone except my human mummy. I loved her more than life itself. She had no idea how much I adored everything about her – when we danced together to songs she liked; when she shared her ice cream and smoothies with me; when she took Pucci and I to the beach to play stones. She was just “pawfect” to us.

I was getting tired. Pucci started to act weirdly. She was staring at walls and barking. She went for me for no reason and chased her tail. She would stare blankly into space at any time of day. She didn’t really know who I was. She smelled different. I knew something was up but I couldn’t tell my mum.

Over Xmas 2018, when I was eight in my 6th life, Pucci went mad. She didn’t even bark at the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. She hated fireworks normally. Our mum was so sweet, she never went out on New Year’s Eve as she knew we were scared. Mum was crying a lot again. She was telling people on the phone that “Pucci has dementia”. Don’t know that disease but made a mental note to look it up on Wikipawdia.

On January 1st 2019, Pucci had to go to the hospital. She was just up all night, jumping on mum’s head, acting like a weirdo. I knew I would never see her again in the same form. On 3rd January, mum came in with Pucci’s lead and no Pucci and cried like I have never seen her cry. She was broken in spirit. I kept seeing Pucci everywhere and was sad I didn’t get to say goodbye.

One day, mummy was sweeping up Pucci’s fur and I just followed the fur ball. I really missed Pucci even though she was a Madam. She was my family. Mum just kept on crying. The rains kept falling inside and outside our house and I just stayed with mum all the time. She stopped the Dr JJ visits. I was pleased as I wasn’t that good anymore. I felt weaker.

Mum started packing up boxes. I am not sure where we were going. I knew she wouldn’t leave me. The next thing I knew, I was on a bus with seven other dogs. I was a bit scared and it was bumpy but after a long journey, the air smelled different and I knew my mum was near. I jumped out the van and I knew where to go. Home.

We had a new home with new smells and lots of grass and mud. I loved grass. Every day, mum would take me to a special place called ‘The Rec’. I literally would run and jump for joy. It was like magic. The birds and the butterflies came to see me and told me this is what Heaven was like. Just perfect. As I rolled on my back in my pink harness, I knew something was wrong and that I didn’t have long left. I made lots of friends on The Rec. It was so different to Spain and I was in my own 7th Heaven – I even got to eat some bird feathers – they were nice and crunchy.

I would just sit and stare at my mum for hours. I was trying to tell her that I needed to leave soon. I had been with her for seven years and saved her life seven times. She told me she liked a human JJ. I had never seen her with a human boy that she loved as much as me, or for any boy for that matter – she never really recovered from her heartbreak. She asked me what to do about this boy she liked. We kept dancing but she couldn’t pick me up anymore and it hurt sometimes when she cuddled me. She kept hugging me and started looking at websites for rescue doggos. Maybe she knew I needed to go and let her get on with the next phase in her life.

I would lie on her til she fell asleep every night and then sit and guard the bed, just falling asleep for a few hours. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. I didn’t have long. I would sit on the terrace, knowing that these would be my last few days with my mum. My doggo mum been right. There was a perfect human out there for me and I had lived my 6th Life Purpose, right here with her.

My mum had a vision during that period. She saw Pucci across the road, sitting next to a Pound Close road sign. She was licking herself. Pucci had come to see me that day. She was a cat though now, not a doggo. She wasn’t ready to be human. She had a few lifetimes to go yet. I told her I was ready to be a human. It turns out mum got a house next to the sign where Pucci was sitting, in Pound Close. Cool or what. She even got me a garden but I knew I wasn’t going to live there. Mum had a new Life to get along with; with a human boy I hoped and with a new doggo, for sure. She couldn’t be without a doggo.

My human mummy told everyone that I had saved her Life seven times. She was so proud of me and showed me as pure a love as is possible when you are a human. Only animals are supposed to love so freely and without limitation. Then, one day in August, I knew it was time to go. We were out on our evening walk and I saw the shadow of death behind me. I barked insistently as I was angry that I had to leave my mum. Mum just pulled my lead and told me that no one was there. There was, sadly.

When we got home, I started to vomit quite violently. It went on til dawn and I was shaking but felt so bad for my mum. I watched her all night. When she woke, she took me to the clinic and I could barely walk. I used every ounce of energy because I couldn’t help but respond to her beautiful voice and the tone of her melodic words, encouraging me along the road. The lovely vet, Phoebe, told my mum I was really sick and that I needed to get to hospital immediately. We went there and I could feel myself fading. I had final stage liver failure, secondary pancreatitis and due to my chronic heart and lung condition, they couldn’t operate or do anything. I was a dying doggo.

The next time I saw mum, she had been crying. She looked awful. I could barely stand and I had weird pointy things in my legs. She just cupped my face and cried, telling me how much she loved me and that I had been the greatest thing that had ever happened to her. She held my paw and kissed me. She was a shell of a human but I was so weak I couldn’t cuddle her.

Phoebe just pushed something into my leg, I tried to snarl but couldn’t and I went to sleep. As the light in my doggo life faded, I could see Madam Pucci calling me to the next phase. She was telling me to hurry up as we had lots to catch up on. I saw my human mum’s mum and her dad too. They gave me the biggest hug and thanked me for looking after their baby on the earth plane.

The lights were bright up there – there was a welcome committee for me. I was being honoured for my Life’s work and how I had looked after my mum, Miranda. G-d… “dog” backwards, took my paw and bowed his head in respect. I was told this was Heaven. The butterfly winks were everywhere – gold and red, bursting with energy and charm. I even saw my doggo mum.

I asked G-d what happened next and what would become of my mum who was just an empty shell of a human without me. He said “Your work is done as a doggo, JJ. Your next job is to become a human doctor and to save humans from cancer in the traditional sense. Your mum will grieve for you most tragically – just look at her; she is sleeping with your bed just to be close to you. But that space will be filled with a human JJ soon. She will be an amazing mum to many other doggies and maybe even humans as a step-mum, one day, as she can’t have children. She has her own path to follow. You brought out the best from within her. You showed her what it was to truly love, be loved and be vulnerable at cellular level. She loved you with all her heart and you her. You can’t ask for much more in Life. It was magic, JJ, you were a magical dog and you were a gift from me to her”.

And with that, G-d just disappeared. The butterflies disappeared. My doggo mum disappeared. Pucci was still an earworm though. She always would be. I was sitting in a very bright operating theatre, surrounded by robotic arms. A young cancer patient lay in surgery with very advanced thyroid cancer, like my mum had back in 2014. I knew I had to save him – he was just a kid. It was my 7th cycle. The human version. I just hoped and prayed I would meet my mum, Miranda, very soon, human to human. Regardless, she would always be my 7th Heaven and I will live on inside her forever.

-ends-

In memory of beloved “Dr” JJ The Adventurer and Princess Pucci of Malaga.

Dogs throughout the UK and Europe are being trained to detect cancer, malaria and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s. According to Medical Detection Dogs, “there is growing evidence to support that elevated levels of a ‘signature’ of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are associated with disease growth. Our research has shown that dogs can be trained to detect these odours and identify the signature associated with cancer”.

Thyroid Cancer is the fastest growing Cancer in the world, particularly amongst the young. We need to protect our children’s thyroids through iodine uptake in food as a primary source.

Under My Skin… AHAVA (Love)

ahava

I just re-counted out 58 Israeli Shekels, the amount of cash I have left after my trip to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at the end of April. This is my incentive to go back to Israel and pay for a tuna salad at LalaLand on Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv. A salad is 58 IS (about £14.50!). But why the enthusiasm, you might ask? It is just a war zone? Or really dangerous? These comments couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, I feel safer in Israel than anywhere else in the world. Go figure.

My first trip to Israel was to Eilat when I was a wee nipper. The Eilat sun got the better of me and I looked like a Puffa Fish within 24 hours. I had burnt three layers of skin and spent the next two days covered in Israeli yogurt. It took years for the skin on my face to tan properly again. Israel had literally “got under my skin”. Being obsessed with the sea and fish in general, I was mesmerised by the colour of the Red Sea; the reflection of the copper-laden red desert rock; the jewel-like fish and the ethereal beauty of the Negev Desert. And the yogurt was great – all flavours, from memory.

I can’t remember if I visited Israel during my early teens but I certainly do remember when I rocked up to Kibbutz Kalia, aged 19, full of heartbreak (my own doing, in the main), wearing my uniform of cut off jean shorts and a severe case of ‘North London attitude’. Kalia is situated by The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth and right next to The Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. I loved Kalia. So much so, I told my late mother I wanted to make Aliyah (move to Israel) and go into the Israeli Army. She blatantly said “no”. That was June… bless her. But I really wanted to do the Army and not just because the men were beautiful (LOL). I was genuinely drawn… maybe I was a Mossad agent in the making.

Kalia made sense to me. Living within a sensibly organised community where you ate well and lived extremely well worked for me. Work hard, play hard – amidst the backdrop of some of the healthiest air on the planet, due to the mineral-rich environment. I had learnt to speak and write Hebrew when I learnt English as a child so blending into an Israeli Kibbutz environment was an extension of my childhood. There was a lot of AHAVA (love) going on back in 1989, by the shores of the Dead Sea…

I went back to Israel numerous times after I left University in 1993: I did a sponsored ‘Walk for Water’ around the Judean Hills in 50 degrees of heat, for charity – breath taking but tough for a non-morning person to get up at 5am; I went back to Kalia on the bus from Jerusalem and travelled the length and breadth of the country (and also Egypt), replenishing my pot of ‘AHAVA’, both literally and metaphorically (AHAVA is a very good natural, internationally known beauty house). And each time I visit(ed), Israel has dug deeper into my layers of skin (no yogurt required, of late) and into my ‘Nefesh’ (Soul).

Tel Aviv, where I have spent most of my last four trips, is a powerhouse for technology (Google, Facebook and Apple have HQ’s there). As well as Tel Aviv being the new vegan capital of the world, it is a vibrant and surprising 24-hour fitness destination and the home of inclusive egalitarianism. Tel Aviv is also the new home of Gay Pride and the men and women are ridiculously beautiful, without the need for artificial enhancement or extensions of any kind. You might even see a Lady Boy or two if you are lucky!

Israeli’s take nothing for granted – they live life to the full. They value every breath as they are fully aware of some of the horrors of life through war and hatred. And whilst many people I know criticize Israel in relation to Gaza, I would urge you all to err on the side of caution. The situation is far more ‘opaque’ than you might imagine and not as easily simplified as oppression or genocide. Unless you have lived in Israel or been to Israel, be open to more than media images. But back to AHAVA.

This most recent trip was a right of passage for me. I discovered family I never knew existed; I honoured a relative who perished in The Holocaust; I connected with friends from both Junior and Senior School as well as from my time on Kibbutz Kalia; I couldn’t eat meat – my body rejected it and I ate cashew nut cream cheese that literally blew my ankle socks off. I cried. I laughed. I felt. I exhaled. I went to a vegan restaurant that is one of the best dining experiences of my life, I ate at my beloved LalaLand on Gordon Beach and I let the icing-sugar-like Tel Aviv sand fall through my toes. I felt like I was home. I wore my Star of David with pride – something I never normally do in London as I was attacked wearing it many years ago. I was bursting with ‘AHAVA’ and my ‘Nefesh’ was full.

Tel Aviv is a force to be reckoned with, for everyone. The City’s energy cannot be ignored – this is not about race, creed or religion, simply about energy. It rocks 24 hours a day: from the top of Tel Aviv Marina to the bottom of Jaffa Port, it is a small City with an enormous personality that will not be ignored. Wherever you go, people talk to you within nano seconds. Now aged 47, I believe that Israel, and particularly Tel Aviv, has penetrated all seven layers of my skin. Right to the bone. I cried when I left… people must have thought I was leaving behind a long-lost lover. I felt like I was. As I posted on Facebook, “… if Tel Aviv was a man, I would marry him tomorrow”. Tel Aviv replenishes my Soul (Nefesh) with overflowing AHAVA (Love). Never goodbye, always ‘Lehitraot’. 58 Shekels are ready and waiting for that salad at LalaLand…      

Fast Love

 

opengraph-fastlove

I have been thinking about the content of this post for a week now. The theme is derived from Adele’s recent live tribute version of ‘Fast Love’ by our beloved George (Michael). Adele was pretty bold to take on a slow version of this iconic track at last week’s Grammy’s and was criticized for doing so. Power of the people, right?

I think elements of this brave testament were haunting and powerful, particularly within the strings’ section. Other parts were slightly ‘off’. Nay bother. The message for me was the fact that I could actually hear the words of the song, when it was slowed down. And powerful words they are too. And this got me thinking about ‘Fast Vs Slow Life & Love’.

George is well-known for having been as self-deprecating as he was shocking about his lifestyle. He lived life to the full but he also respected where he came from and gave back, without seeking publicity or comment. He was “brought up well”, as our grandparents would have said (or “like a nice Greek boy”, as the father would have said in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ (the JOY of those two films).

Modern day life is fast – call it ‘The Tinder Effect’, if you like. George’s life was fast. We seek the fastest route to our destination; the quickest download speed; the most time-efficient workout or weight-loss plan; the path of least resistance when it comes to love and sex and seem to be obsessed with our lack of time, without appreciating the moment of time in which we exist. When we slow down the backing track of our life, the lyrics can be heard…

We have no control over time. It passes, regardless. The sun rises and sets as a ritual. And we tend to rush about trying to cram as much into our day without stopping to appreciate the view. None of us know when our time is up. And with the best technology and all of the money in the world, if it is your time, it is just that. As George can now tell us, from up on high.

I know myself that some of my best friendships and relationships have evolved over time. Not because I am getting to know someone else but due to the fact that we each find ourselves as much on our own as through the eyes of others: our colleagues, our friends, our lovers and our family. We are each mirrors and levellers. Quality over quantity (except in the case of roast potatoes or chocolate, I might add).

Generation ‘Tinder’ makes us impatient. It makes us look around the next corner, the next timeline or ‘Swipe Left’ and the next ‘Google’ search. George knew the difference between ‘Slow’ and ‘Fast’ Love. You just have to listen to some of his other lyrics to appreciate the magnitude of this parallel.

I suppose we each fear ‘fear’, feelings and rejection. So speeding up our lives reduces the need to feel anything at all. We NEED fear in our lives to survive; to succeed in business and to grow. For anyone who has experienced heartbreak or loss in one form or another, it is a fate worse than death (particularly for teenagers, LOL). Because you have to deal with it and carry on (or sink)! George knew this and it inspired some of his greatest lyrics (‘Cowboys and Angels’). So ‘Fast Love’ becomes the quick fix and short-term Elastoplast. I too have been there.

The irony is that most people who live their lives in the ‘Fast Lane’, usually opt out at one point or another – burnt out high rollers and City wonder boys and girls. We all know at least one person like this. I could say that I too CHOSE to slow down my life by moving to Spain. Spain is like a spiritual, emotional and physical ‘tonic’ for me. I know far too many people who have crashed and burned through life, work, drugs or alcohol. And then they HAVE to slow down, rather than choose to do so.

If you can’t slow down or stay still long enough to ‘look up’, once you reach a certain point in life, what is the point? For the oligarchs and internationally acclaimed business leaders, if they can’t enjoy their hard work, why bother? Richard Branson regularly posts simplistic posts on his Instagram feed about life on Necker Island and the joy of being a grandfather. None of his great joys happened overnight – babies take nine months (or so) and his business success was borne out of a lot of hard graft, selling great and trusted products and understanding the power of PR.

It is timely that I post this blog on a Sunday – Spain’s day of rest, when the shops are closed, families take four hours over lunch and chatter abounds through the Paseos and Plazas within every Community and Pueblo. And I suspect quite a lot of Slow (and Fast) Love is going on too. ‘Fast Love’ is fun but ‘Slow Love’ is amazing. In George’s words, at the end of ‘Fast Love’… “I miss my baby…”. Hurting from some ‘Slow Love’, no doubt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Botox

I recently read the following line on an Instagram meme post “The hardest thing you will ever do is be yourself”. I thought about this for quite some time as these words jumped off the screen. I am often criticized for being myself – which says more about others than it does about me, IMHO. But it made me think. I am a sensitive thinker to my very core. And will always consider a different view of life. It keeps my mind buoyant and perspective fresh.

Yes, I am sufficiently content with my own being to bare part of my soul – the good, the bad, the ugly and the completely hilarious (always modest when it comes to humour). I speak from the heart and believe that every day has 24 hours that require our most present commitment to ourselves and those we connect with during that time.

Ironically though, there are many onion layers to this PR lady. Very few fellow ingredients get to see the very sweetest part of my onion core. Partly because I don’t let many people in. Partly because most people don’t like to cry (LOL) and partly because most of us are programmed to solely view life as a mirror image of ourselves. Quite narcissistic really. And ever more so with the advent of social media. We see the world as we are rather than how it really is.

I read somewhere that Kim Kardashian is not allowed to be photographed ‘really’ smiling or laughing because of her Botox. Imagine living a life with such restrictions. Not only is her ass squeezed into a flesh-coloured sausage skin on a daily basis but her face is told what it can and can’t do. I wonder if she ever ‘kicks back’ with Kanye, puts on his slouchy pants (without ass pads) and laughs. Really laughs… and enjoys the gifts that life has bestowed upon her and her family.

Laughing is probably my greatest joy after my dogs and the thought of my breakfast omelette. I was in Thailand over Christmas and spent time with people who make me feel safe. Safe enough to get drunk with and safe enough to laugh like a hyena with… to the point that I thought I might pop (not poop) or self-combust. When you really laugh, it is hard to fake it. That moment when you and a friend, lover, family member or colleague just KNOW. And the endorphins just keep a’ flowing.

No price tag can be put on the importance of laughter with friends when considering our emotional and spiritual health. When our dear friend George Michael passed away on Christmas Day, the first thing I thought about George was that he must have felt so alone. He showed the world who he was without fear or remorse yet who was there for George Michael, without wanting something in return?

He made mistakes and paid the price. He challenged the status quo, as well as viewing his own sexuality and political views in somewhat of a blatant yet self-deprecating and often ironic way. He wrote songs with such conviction, even James Corden said that George’s music/song-writing “Made him realise he wasn’t alone” – George was the original Adele who delved deep into those onion layers and made us all cry.

Yet the travesty for George, Amy, Michael, Prince and so many other prodigal talents, is that in their most desperate times, did they consider they had the gift that we see and/or saw? Or did they have friends they felt safe with? Or could they really laugh? Or did they always feel engulfed by their emotional botox?

In a letter I wrote to a friend tonight, I told her how much I laughed over Christmas and how I have felt less than myself for so many years since my cancer diagnosis. My ‘Thai laughter’ has brought me back to life… I feel more like ‘me’ and ready for emotional fulfilment, for the first time in years. And whilst some of the laughter may have been tinged with tears after a few too many drinks, it is cleansing and sometimes necessary to face our internal demons. Whilst George Michael may have shared some of these demons with his ‘awe’-diences around the world, I wonder if they continued to rage the GM internal machine rather than disappear into the ether.

I only hope that George is up there with his ‘Cowboys & Angels’, ‘Outside’, in the best ‘Club Tropicana’, being told that he is ‘AMAZING’. And George you truly were. I will go to The Flask pub this week, take flowers to your home and raise a glass to you and your legacy.  And as for Thailand… what happens in Thailand stays in Thailand. And I truly love you (Thailand) – very, very long time. As George would say “I think you’re amazing”… and when someone you care about says that to you, you just have to smile from ear to ear (Botox-permitting). Happy New Year, everyone!

Bridget & Her ‘Modern Family’

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I have a confession to make… one that any self-respecting 46 year old PR probably shouldn’t be making. I never really liked Bridget Jones on-screen… I found Zellweger just a touch too nauseating in films one and two – something about her mouth. I didn’t LIKE Bridget. Maybe it was timing. I had just lost my beloved mum and didn’t really like anything. But all that has changed.

I laughed at Bridget singing in a Thai jail; I empathised with her attempts to conquer life and love. And I was always more of a Daniel Cleaver kind of girl. But… I have never been a girl to ask “does my bum look big in this?”, count calories or sit and down a bottle of wine at home in my PJ’s. I never REALLY related. But I was still the only ‘unmarried’ at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and Christmas parties. AND I only wore a bunny girl outfit at the right party, a Playboy party!

From the opening scene of ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, I just knew this film was for me. Bridget singing ‘House of Pain’ word-for-word is more my thing, minus the wine – my dogs normally dance along with me. I liked watching Bridget on screen this time around. I can’t begrudge her former ‘baby fat’ look as Renee actually fattened up on some of London’s finest Italian food at Da Mario Kensington, owned by one of my closest friends, Marco Molino.

The script, from beginning to end, was tight and relevant – I am sure helped along by Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson’s input. I think most people I know can relate to Bridget in this film – I wept and I howled with laughter. The actors are genuinely enjoying themselves and ‘McDreamy’ clearly ups the ante as far as I am concerned (particularly bare-chested, in a yurt, at a music festival). Perhaps this is the true reason that Hugh Grant refused the role.

You can just feel through the cellulose that every character is rooting for Bridget. Many of the cast have played alongside her since back in 2001. Zellweger is also clearly more comfortable in Bridget’s (tighter) skin (ironic after her own plastic surgery) and perhaps is more in touch with her own femininity, particularly when she finds out she is “up the duff”.

On that note, Emma Thompson is a delight, as always, as is Bridget’s new side-kick, the free-spirited ‘Miranda’ (who would have thought). The director and production unit have captured London at its best. The soundtrack is fantastic and relevant – I particularly loved Annie Lennox’s ‘The Hurting Time’. Every inflection in Annie’s voice reflects what is going on chez Bridget. And I am sure ‘Bridget Jones Tours’ are being launched by ‘Team Brexit’ as we speak, just as SATC Tours exist in NYC.

What is so ironic about Bridget Jones is that if it wasn’t for her middle class roots, her clipped RP accent (and what a brilliant English accent it is) and decent teeth, I am sure Jeremy Kyle would have loved to make mincemeat of her on his morning TV show. The ‘Jack’ and ‘Mark’ equivalents would have looked like they had just come off the set of ‘The Walking Dead’, once again, with rotten teeth and they would be shouting at one another with obligatory sub-titles on our screens.

I cried when Bridget saw her baby on the ultrasound monitor. It is a long time since 2004. So much has changed for me: I lost my dad; almost lost my mind; moved to Spain; got two rescue dogs; built up my business; survived cancer; fell in love with boxing; ran three half marathons for Make-A-Wish; travelled the world; experienced difficult break-ups and numerous illnesses but most relevant of all, I lost my womb to a full (and medically required) hysterectomy. So no ‘Miranda Leslau’s Baby’ movie.

I rarely consider the fact I won’t be a natural mum. But I felt a pang of loss as I watched Bridget ‘bloom’. And so many women watching this film will relate to Bridget’s journey, regardless of whether they are married, single, co-habiting or otherwise. You can just ‘feel’ Bridget more in 2016 and it will be personal to you and your situation. She has grown up with her fans and we want her to be happy because we all want to be happy in our own skin.

I was really rooting for Jack throughout. Mr Darcy never worked for me but I appreciate his relevance in the movie script and character progression. In an interview, Dempsey actually said he didn’t know why they couldn’t both have Bridget. Now that is a ‘Modern Family’ indeed. Seems reasonable to me, LOL.

You know there is movie number four in the making too. I won’t give everything away but the final scene prompts two specific storylines that you just KNOW are going to put a spanner in the works and that ‘The Diary’ will be smoking with confusion in the next few years. And I can’t wait.

Bridget Jones’s Baby is a delight. I want to see it again. I love that Bridget has grown up. I have grown up and changed no end since Bridget came to life in 2001. I love her now. I love myself now. And, the most important mission for me is that if Bridget can get married, so can I. And this I will do. Thank you, Bridget. You inspired me and focused me. I know what I want. And I am so happy that you got what you want too (well for now!!).