Miranda Leslau PR

PR in Black and White

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Miranda Leslau PR - PR in Black and White

Under My Skin… AHAVA (Love)

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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…      

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!

MY THAI(LAND) – The Jewddhist Priestess’s ‘Phuket List’

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(Shrine to Buddha along Walking Street in Koh Lipe)

Thailand Blog – Part One of Three

My first introduction to Buddha was through my late father who had a sandstone Buddha in his NW London living room. As a young girl I was taught that you had to keep Buddha high up in the room as a sign of respect and rub his belly for good luck. Buddha always stood out against the more traditional style of antique wood and Holbein memorabilia. Buddha always made sense to me even though I was brought up as a United Synagogue Jewess. Roll forward to today and I too have this Buddha in my living room, in his memory and I regularly cleanse him just to keep him looking ‘slick’. He sits, up on high, together with a second laughing Buddha, also a keepsake from dad’s Estate. There are lots of Buddha’esque touches to my home.

So going to Thailand this Xmas just past was not only a trip long overdue on my ’Phuket List’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist) but also as a mini homage to my dad teaching me about Buddha and our combined interest in Feng Shui, alternative medicine and food. This trip was my first two week holiday without working for about nine years. It was long overdue and whilst all my doctors told me to rest, when you are self-employed with only one household income, you can’t. Regardless of whether Cancer is trying to destroy you or not. This trip was significant and symbolic for me, beyond words.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with Thailand. Even if they were flown out of the country because of a life-threatening condition or ended up in the wrong hands at a Full Moon Party, the Thai people and everything that encompasses the country’s passion for colour and simplicity, touched their heart and soul. And I have to admit, my trip has inspired and changed me in a most profound and unexpected way.

As a linguist, I am fascinated by language. Language tells you everything you need to know about a country. What the Thai language shows us is that life IS simple and straightforward. A Thai person might not understand you when you are ask for a “Black Coffee” but they will understand “Hot Black Americano”. Specific and correct. With the emphasis on the “Hot”. Ditto a “Lemon and Banana Shake” is understood as a “Banana Shake with Lemon”.

Myself and my two buddies, AKA “Two Knobs and a Tourist” (and you can guess my title within this dastardly trio), laughed and laughed at some of the misunderstandings during our two-week visit. No-one understood us if we said “No Milk” – moreoever, we had to say “No Mil”. “White Wine” became “Why Why”. You can imagine the chaos that ensued.

I think my greatest linguistic memory from my trip relates to a wonderful lady we met at our hotel in Koh Lipe. Koh Lipe is 14km from Malaysia and one of the lesser known Thai islands situated within a protected National Park. It is quite spectacular and 100% worth a visit, as an aside. The lady I met is called Thung. She was my masseur at our hotel (Idyllic Concept Resort), is a mum of two and a qualified product designer. She hasn’t seen her children who are in Bangkok, for two years.

Thung has something about her. I am very sensitive to people’s energy and she is a lot more than she would ever let on. Not only is she an incredible masseur, but she is also a healer and a Guardian Angel. Curiously, her sister had the same cancer as me and also had an hysterectomy. So she knew how to massage me without hurting me: she knew this instinctively as well as practically.

The first time Thung massaged me she said how strong I was and kept telling me! And that I looked so young, maybe 31, because “Mi-ran-da is so INJOY (enjoy)”. If we go back to the theme of language, Thung and the Thai language are absolutely right. When you “enjoy” something, you truly should be “in joy”. As I type these words, I am crying. Not because I am sad but because Thung’s words and her inner power really had a huge effect on me. So the theme for “Two Knobs and a Tourist” became all about “in joy”. Particularly after a few sherbets… I haven’t laughed so much in years. I haven’t felt so myself (and obviously been so very, very funny) in years. I haven’t rested for years. I was truly in the utmost “in joy”.

There is a lot to be said for being “in joy” in our day-to-day existence. Whilst this is the first in a series of three blogs about Thailand, I could write and paint and dream all day about how the Thai colours, sights and experiences overwhelmed and delighted me. I brought a little piece of “in joy” back with me, together with half of MBK market. But that gives too much away. More to come from “Miranda INJOY” over the coming days about this fantastic trip. For now, go and “INJOY” your Thursday! I am off to rub Buddha’s belly… he too deserves a bit of “INJOY”…

SADele… #25

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According to Forbes.com, Adele’s new “25″ album sold over five million copies in three weeks. Not too shabby. But what does this say about us, Adele or the record company that produced and released it?

Firstly, I am renaming ‘Adele’ as ‘SADele’ as every song is loaded with sad emotion. As someone who memorises song lyrics after just one or two listens, I am walking around in a pool of SADele despair, without even realising it. I used to annoy an ex boyfriend as I sang along, pretty much word perfect, to most songs that came onto the airwaves. I love Adele and her talent but I never feel happy after I listen to her music. Am I supposed to feel sad and reach for the nearest bar of chocolate? Should every album or download come with an on-pack promo of Dairy Milk?

As an aside, I didn’t consider the number 25 as a direct link with Christmas until I watched a film with Will Smith called ‘Focus’, last week. Will Smith plays a professional grifter and explains to Margot Robbie (his love interest, OF COURSE) that a ‘mark’ can be manipulated subliminally, with numbers, images and repeated visual or audio references.

So, on this basis, the title ’25′ may be a direct association with Christmas in relation to the calendar date and so that we ‘buy, buy, buy…’. On the flip side (oops pardon, don’t mention the flip phone… more later on this topic), however, the evidence might suggest that we are all a bunch of closet depressives, masking our inner demons and hurts. And that Adele is clearly a ‘skint stalker’ (more reference to the flip phone debacle). I am not sure which part of this tale is most depressing.

For a start, anyone who “must have called a 1,000 times…” should be sectioned or just move on. I for one would NEVER call a man 10 times, let alone 1,000 times, to say sorry for breaking his (or my own) heart. If he ain’t picking up love, he don’t wanna speak. And, if he does want to talk to you, it will only be when you stop calling that he will wake up and call you back!

As for the inclusion of a flip phone in the video for “Hello”, according to the Director, he said that he didn’t want to focus on technology or detract from the message of the video. But having a shit phone just brought more attention to the fact that SADele, poor lass, can’t afford a decent phone or is telling a very old ‘sepia’ story that might relate to her as a teenager, not as an adult.

If you think about sad music, some of the richest song writers in the world write and have written, in the main, tracks about heartbreak or love lost: Lionel Richie (SADele has usurped Lionel’s “Hello” throne) and Elton John are two prime examples. Are we all sad and wallowing in memories? I do wonder…

In spite of my musings and blog-friendly observations, I do love Adele’s exceptional talent. I also (quietly) enjoy going into my person and digging out the pain and hurt that passively consumes me from time to time. Maybe Adele is a new type of therapy for us all, regardless of our age or where we live. Five million people (plus, plus by now) all have something in common. ”It was just like a movie, it was just like a song… my g-d it reminds me, of when we were young…” gets me every time!

So if SADele’s transition from 21 to 25 is encapsulated in her music, my own is translated into typed words: Throughout 2011 and 2012, I was a bit of an emotional wreck on and off and, at the time, ”21″ took me through my roller coaster ride. I struggle to listen to the album now.

By the end of 2012 this is probably the time that the dreaded ‘C’ word took hold on my body. Just after Christmas 2013, I had was just about to find out I had been living with cancer for a year plus and would need an operation, cancer treatment and lifelong health restrictions.  One year ago, at the end of 2014, I had an hysterectomy. This year, I will be in Thailand for NYE, fulfilling a life long dream and enjoying my first holiday without work for about 10 years.

So SADele and the rest of us have so much in common…. nothing stays the same, albeit good or bad. We grow, we shift our perspective and we heal: emotionally, physically and psychologically. I wonder where we will all be by the time SADele releases her next work, I guess in 2019. Hopefully, by this time, she will have a decent mobile for the video and her ex will have answered the phone.

Merry Christmas and the best of everything to you and yours for the New Year 2016.

 

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.