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…      

Fast Love

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paralytics Vs Politics – #inorout

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As the UK prepares itself for the 23rd June Referendum, social media and traditional media alike have capitalised upon the divisive nature of this campaign to bring out the worst in most of us.

When we start to react, we stop thinking. Emotion overtakes reason and it all feeds into the mucky little paws of all the big wigs leading their respective camps. Some of the public debates I have listened to and watched are utterly shocking.

Regardless of how the British people vote (as long as votes aren’t tampered with, of course) we seem to be ignoring or underestimating a few fundamental points:-

1. #inorout, we still have internal issues to deal with. Speculative ‘blames, claims, percentages, statistics and claims’ mean nothing in real life. Problems are still problems and need to be addressed. We cannot and should not blame these on ‘Europe’ and certainly can’t rely on an Economist’s stoic view to guarantee a brighter future for the British people.

2. Our current Prime Minister loves the big platform. He enjoyed his electoral campaign but appears to be less gifted when it comes to dealing with day-to-day issues. Focusing on #Brexit means less time and resource is attributed to genuine socio-economic issues within our borders.

3. If we leave, the UK will find its way, albeit eventually. It will take at least two years to sort out the paperwork and what will happen to the problems that affect the British public during that time? Who will be keeping their eye on the British Ball (and I don’t mean in the Euros)?

4. We forget that many of the countries with whom David Cameron shares a round table in Europe are countries we sided with or defeated in two World Wars. France might have been an ally during the War and is less so now, Germany is now our ‘friend’. We can and should learn from one another.

5. You cannot compare the UK to Norway or Switzerland. We have always belonged to something in some way. The head of the British Empire, an influential part of Europe’s history or winning wars. If we stand alone, we will need Winston Churchill to rise from the grave and lead us.

6. On this point, #inorout, we need a PM and Ministers that LEAD us. Not media-polished Spitting Image caricatures of themselves who wax lyrical about theories rather than realities and successes. We should abolish political parties and fuse together elements of each party’s votive. Every party has some credence in their manifesto but times have changed – we need a more integrated approach.

7. For every high profile company boss or business mogul that produces a video for ‘in’ there will be one produced for the ‘out’ campaign, having been approached by high profile politicians, PR’s or just to jump on the ‘Brexit Bandwagon’. It is all hype and nonsense at the end of the day. Once the decision is made, it will still be business as usual for these companies and individuals.

8. We can’t blame Europe for most of our country’s crimes and misdemeanours. Issues like housing policy for example and an abuse of the benefits’ system is down to bad governing and policy. Not immigrants. We should focus on how we deal with those who choose to live in the UK, rich and poor alike. And there is a knock-on effect from the rich coming into the UK as well as the needy.

9. Whilst the UK may welcome overseas oligarchs buying up property in the UK for mind-blowing sums, we seem to have overlooked the fact that this policy is seriously impacting upon our property market, particularly in London. Much of Europe has only recently started to purchase residential or investment properties – they were usually rented or handed down. We can’t blame Europe!

10. And we certainly can’t blame hooliganism on Europe. How Brits abroad conduct themselves is not big and it certainly isn’t clever. Europe could teach the UK a thing or two about how to drink within reason and for social rather than ‘paralytical’ pleasures.

And so we have it. Politicians, journalists, dinner party guests – we could debate this topic until the (CAP) cows come home. And whilst we have little control over the detail once the ballot papers are counted, I simply urge the British people to think before they react.

Furthermore, we need to wise up in terms of how we present ourselves to the rest of the world and to consider ‘The Politics of Paralytics’. No-one will want us! And then what? We certainly can’t blame Europe then.

 

Prince’s Crown (Chakra)

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I haven’t blogged for a long time. It doesn’t mean I haven’t had anything to say - far from it. I have had a lot to say, just not much time or will to do so.

But this week we lost Prince. It will go down in history as the day a Jack trumped a Queen (it was Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday). Just as well the world operates in different time-zones as Queenie may not have got a look in, had Prince died that very same morning, UK-time.

Prince was a musical genius but more than that, he was a humanitarian and a great friend, according to the genuine, heartfelt accolades that spilled over in a sea of purple rain, from Coast to Coast and City to City the world over. Fundamentally, Prince was always true to himself. Which, in itself, is honourable, in our world of falsehoods and alter-egos.

I have struggled with myself of late: my health, my emotions and my belief in self – I doubted the fact that I am true to myself and perhaps should change this to keep up with the status quo. My life mantra has always been pretty much ‘like me or lump me’, with a strong sense of self and integrity, but I started to waiver towards change.

Prince’s death however, and the quote above, jolted me right back into my own reality and gave me a right royal purple lashing to my butt, to remind me that I am doing OK. Prince would appreciate that slightly sadistic reference, I am sure.

I think Prince was the only recording artist who banned third parties from using his musical material for commercial gain. He stood up for what he believed in, wearing very high heels - against a Goliath of an industry that can strip you of your dignity faster than you can say ‘Kardashian’.

The very nature of social media has increasingly allowed all of us to become the type of person we aspire to be rather than the person we actually are. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a friend posting something on Facebook or the like and I know that what they are saying is utter rubbish as they have been pouring their heart out to me minutes earlier (or saying something completely different).

In a world where the quality of your selfie filter defines you, Prince created his own self-managed filter in every aspect of his life. And whilst some people may consider him to have been a few blackcurrants short of a Ribena carton, his lyrical wisdom and melodic lightning bolts will stay in my heart and soul until I reach my own version of Purple Rain.

Prince reminds me what it is to be a woman, in the most visceral sense. I don’t think I know one person who hasn’t had sex to a Prince song, at one time or another. For me, that song and that experience was ’Anna Stesia’. It takes me right back to when I was too young to care yet old enough to know better.

For me, Prince’s death has reminded me to trust in myself; to retain my integrity and take Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ to another level. I have transcended to ‘True Purple’, the colour of the crown chakra and an infinite connection with Heaven. I only hope and pray Prince is wearing a purple crown up there – the royal purple crown of Kings and Queens.

 

 

 

 

 

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”…