Category Archives: Life Issues/ Motivational Posts

An Interview With Vartan Melkonian

I am privileged this week to talk on my blog with renowned composer, musician & conductor, Vartan Melkonian, who also happens to be UN Ambassador for Street Children.  Vartan’s life story is one of courage – he was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon, orphaned soon after, became a street child in Beirut, fled to the UK in the 1970s – but even on the streets of Beirut his musical abilities began to emerge… Hi Vartan!

Hello. I am Vartan Melkonian. I am a composer and musician and I work as the UN Ambassador to Street Children.

You are an UN Ambassador for Street Children. What does being an ambassador entail?

My work involves certain countries – developing countries – who ask the UN to give them advice on street children. The UN takes a team of experts to those countries. As I am a key-note speaker – I open and close the conference about life on the streets. I encourage the developing countries to adopt the programmes the UN suggests.

You were born in a refugee camp in Lebanon – your parents died when you were very young- you then lived in the Birds Nest Orphanage until you were 8 years old. You must have felt very lonely & anxious being an orphan in a strange country.  When you were 8 years old, did you flee the orphanage or was care only provided until you were 8?

I was 8 years old when I left the orphanage, to live on the streets. I was there till I was eight because boys had to go to the army compound to make room for new children. I chose not to work for the Lebanese army and took a cattle-train to Beirut. That’s where I started my life.

After leaving the orphanage, you then lived rough in the slums of Beirut. What was the worst thing about living on the streets?

People take moments of pleasure by looking at the sunset. For us, for me, it was the worst time of the day, there was nowhere to go. I had to find any alcove to sleep in. We, the children of the streets, were often chased away with sticks and stones (even by the police) so we were not seen on the streets, as if we were some sort of living plague.

 

Teaching your fellow street children how to hum in harmony so as you could all make some money by busking… how did you discover you had a musical talent? What other jobs did you do in order to survive? 

At the orphanage, I was chosen to be a member of the choir. I had a severe speech impediment but when I sang there was no problem. My musical skills must have been in-born – the gift of music.

I did many jobs to survive from shoe shining, selling chewing gum and shovelling sand onto lorries to illegal fishing and being a mechanic.

When civil war came to Lebanon in 1972 you fled to the UK and began to work as a singer, at the beginning on the Northern Clubs circuit – eventually at West End nightspots.  What sort of music genre did you sing?  What influenced your song choices?

I used to impersonate Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones!

You wrote a symphony that was performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – and later you came to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, and many other world-class orchestras in London’s most famous halls and around the world. When you started to busk as a young lad on the streets of Beirut, did you harbour musical ambitions? 

When I was in Lebanon I used to play the guitar, and I thought I was really good. Arriving in the UK in the early 70s, I went to Kings Cross Station and I saw a busker playing the guitar and my eyes widened. I thought ‘I know nothing!’ It was like being born again at the age of 26.

Looking back over your incredible life story so far, what do you think helped you to survive the conditions you faced? 

When you don’t have things, your imagination flourishes and when you achieve something, you’ve already lived it. If you want to, you will finish a race, not necessarily first, but you will get there if you aim for it.

Being a refugee is hard, I know.  What are the toughest things you face being a refugee? 

I was happy to leave Lebanon because it was the 1970s and the conflict was starting. I went from sunny Beirut to Skegness. The UK is a wonderful place. I am a guest in the UK. And I feel very welcome.

When you give speeches worldwide about street children, what are the main messages that street children would like to convey to the public in general?

The children of the street are not the problem, they are the assets of the country. Invest in them and they grow up to become someone like me who provides good things for the community.

Links you would like to share:

http://vartan-melkonian.com

Untold Stories – Animation of life of Vartan Melkonian

Thank you so much Vartan for taking the time to talk to me today about your life and your mission as ambassador. 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Vartan Melkonian.

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An Interview With Incredibly Cool Events

Embarrassingly, I had always associated cheerleading competitions with America – along with baseball and American Football – until recently, that is, when I discovered that cheerleading competitions are alive and kicking in the UK too!  I’m delighted to introduce onto my blog this week, Kimberley Mason, founder of ICE (Incredibly Cool Events) who gave me an insight into the cheerleading scene in the UK. Hi Kimberley!
Hi! I am Kimberley Mason I was born in the West Midlands and was raised on dance classes and competitions.

What inspired you to start up ICE (Incredibly Cool Events)?

After running my community interest company and working in sport for disadvantaged communities I felt there was a big need for affordable accessible cheerleading and dance competitions.

ICE organises cheerleading and dance competitions, workshops & Coaching. What would a cheerleading team expect if entering an ICE event?

They would get a help from a friendly team during the lead up to the event, affordable prices and all the support needed to get their teams feeling confident so they could give their best performance on the floor. There are big trophies, a medal for each competitor and a beautiful back drop to perform in front of. We have a highly trained judging team that offers constructive feedback at each of our events.

When did you start “cheerleading” & what was it about cheerleading that attracted you ?

I started Irish dance at the age of 7 and although I loved it the heavy shoes were not for me. I then tried freestyle dance and loved it. Dance became my passion from then onwards and I took part in competitions on a weekly basis. I found cheerleading at the age of 18 and the more I learnt the more I fell in love with it. I loved the fact that it was a team sport and the way the competitions were organised. The cheer spirit and the team ethos were definitely the main attraction.

What are the benefits of cheerleading?

Cheerleading has many benefits; it improves fitness, helps with life skills such asworking as team work and co-operation, it helps build confidence and there is a fantastic social side.

Is cheerleading suitable for everybody?

Yes all ages and abilities, cheerleading is done on a level basis so there is a level suitable for everyone. There are different elements to a cheer routine, dance, tumble, stunt and jumps.

Do you enjoy any other genre of dance?

Yes I enjoy all styles of dance, we offer pom dance, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop and next season we will be offering Acro.

Although you are based in the UK, are teams outside of the UK allowed to enter your events?

Yes of course we welcome everyone.

What ICE events are planned for the rest of 2018/2019?

We have lots of dance and cheer events lined up for the next season and they take place all over the country :

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

At the moment I’m pregnant with my second baby so a big maternity dress with expandable sandals for my swollen feet. When not pregnant you will find me in leggings and jeans and flats, usually covered in George’s (my toddler) latest  meal.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love ASOS because there is so much to choose from and outfits and shoes for every occasion.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I would love some fashionable day wear but I have a feeling with baby boy number 2 on the way it will be a while until I make any major investments into my wardrobe, although I will be investing in some winter boots at the start of the winter season.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots, they look lovely and are very comfortable plus there are lots of different styles, long, mid length, ankle, flat etc so there is something for most occasions.

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IncrediblyCoolEvents/
Website: www.incrediblycoolevents.co.uk
Twitter: @ICE_Events1
Intsagram: incrediblycoolevents

I wish you the very best for both your impending nappy event and your programme of events, Kimberley. I think the name of your company is incredibly cool too….

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Kimberley Mason (Incredibly Cool Events).

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One In Eight Men

Prostate Cancer.  Did you know that in the UK, about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives? It is the most common form of cancer in men in the UK.  Prostate Cancer is killing more men than breast cancer in the UK, according to latest 2018 figures published in February. Women have screening for breast cancer and this is one reason why mortality rates for prostate cancer are now higher than breast cancer – there is no national screening programme for prostate cancer and research into prostate cancer lags about 20 years behind that for breast cancer.

What is the prostate?  Basically it is a gland about the size and shape of a walnut, sitting underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It’s main job is to help make semen.

Unfortunately it is often symptomless at first – in later stages it can cause pain, difficulty in urination, sexual intercourse problems & erectile dysfunction.  The cancer cells can spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes.

The average age for men to be diagnosed is between 65 & 69. Men under 50 can get it, but it isn’t that common.  Risk factors include: being male; aged over 50; having a father/brother who has had prostate cancer; having a mother/sister who has had breast cancer; if you are black – 1 in 4 black men are at risk, although the reasons why has not been discovered as yet but it may be connected to genes.

Prostate Cancer UK is the UK national charity looking to spread awareness about this cancer and this year my husband Adam is doing bike rides on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, trying to raise money and awareness.  I interviewed Adam to find out more…

Adam, on June 23rd 2018 you are taking part in cycling the first stage of the Tour De France , on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK. What made you decide to take part?

I’m a man of a certain age and Prostate Cancer worries me. If I can do something to help those who are suffering or will be suffering in the future by pursuing a hobby I enjoy, then I’m more than willing to take part. I’m an avid Tour de France fan and having the opportunity to ride a stage of the Tour de France which my cycling heroes will be racing a week later, is a worthwhile challenge and a chance to make a bit of a difference.

Also on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, you are riding in the Prudential London Ride 100, at the end of July, which you have ridden before. What are the toughest parts of the course?

Leith Hill. Absolutely Leith Hill. It is a very narrow and steep section of the road and it gets congested with people walking and pushing their bikes instead of riding, so it does become a challenge to maintain enough momentum to stay upright.

How are you preparing for the rides?

By riding lots. It’s all about hours in the saddle and the miles. Training up to 75% of both distances up to the events and lowering the mileage a week before.

Have you got other rides on your bucket list for the future?

If I tell you that  you won’t let me go! LOL! I quite fancy the Granfondo Campagnolo Roma ….darling! 😉 Maybe one day a mountain stage of the Tour de France rather than a flat stage, but I would need to lose a few pounds first!

What do you enjoy most about cycling?

I enjoy the exercise, my cycling companions, the noticeable fitness improvements, sense of achievement after finishing long rides, being outside & enjoying the environment.  I don’t enjoy busy roads and close passes.

Personal now – what clothes and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Besides tight figure hugging Lycra …. cargo shorts, t shirts and trainers.  However, I do wear a 3 piece suit and Jeffrey West boots on occasions!

Favourite Shops/Online Sites:

Wiggle (online);  Cycle Evolution, a local bike shop in Colchester.

Boots or Shoes?

Trainers generally; flip flops in the summer; boots when I’m poshing up!

Links you wish to share:

http://adamhobden.com

 

Linda x

Photos: Linda & Adam Hobden

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An Interview With Lina Usma

I’m pleased to welcome onto my blog, the lovely Lina Usma, who runs the largest newspaper in London for the Spanish speaking Latin American community.  Originally from Colombia, Lina has lived in London for over 20 years and has been active in the local community. I wanted to ask Lina some questions about her newspaper and her career as a journalist … as well as her fashion tastes! Hi Lina and welcome!

Hi! I am  Lina Usma (short version of Lina Maria Ospina Usma) I was born in Colombia, in the beautiful city of Manizales, I am wife  ( not much a housewife!) a mother and a professional working woman.

What was it like growing up in Colombia?

I grew up in a matriarchal family with 3 mothers:  My mum, my auntie and my cousin all full of love, passion, hardworking and warm hearts.  Although there was no paternal figure in my house I have an uncle, but my mum was the dominant role in the household.  She passed away in 2012 and even in the last days of her illness, she was so strong and wise. I married quite young, to a great guy, who is very passionate about life. We have a beautiful daughter who is my proudest achievement – maybe all mothers say that, but for me personally she represents all that my mothers taught me about being a woman:  strong, professional, independent with a good heart and determination to do something good with her life.

We all have preconceived ideas of what a country will be like – what took you by surprise in England and what was totally opposite of what you thought it would be?

In 1996 we travelled to the UK, looking for a better opportunities for our family. We were a young couple with a baby. At the beginning it was quite difficult, adapting to the new city especially the weather and the society, as we come from a place where you can talk with someone in  the street without any prejudice, but here  even approaching someone to ask for directions was so difficult (remember 20 years ago there was not google maps). But as time passed and we worked our way through life, like many other people doing different jobs that we have never done in our lives:  like a waitress, cleaners, shop assistants etc.

What made you decide to launch Extra International?

I studied business management in Colombia, but here in London my profession focuses around media; together with my husband William we started a magazine as a business investment, since then we have run other publications and other related projects such  as Extra International newspaper which is now the most popular publication in the Spanish speaking communities in London.  I am an editor and journalist, and as my mother always said never stop learning”, and as a way of respect with the profession and colleagues,  I studied Media and Journalism in East London University, to learn and be able to do my job in a more efficient way.  

What do you enjoy most about running a newspaper?

One of the most interesting things about working in media is the opportunity to meet interesting people and talk to them on a level of closeness, where they can feel confident to talk and open up for more questions. I had the opportunity to interview figures like Shakira, Celia Cruz, Michael Schumacher ex F1 driver, Boris Johnson former Mayor of London, some presidents such as Juan Manuel Santos from Colombia.  I met  Hugo Chavez; writers  like  Isabel Allende and Vargas Llosa; Cressida Dick,head of Scotland Yard Police; also so many other important and relevant  personalities, which is a privilege in this profession.  Running a newspaper is challenging, especially in the world we are living now with the multimedia. I was very much into writing and editing writing articles – not so much visually;  but  today journalists need to have a digital presence so I am still learning how to deal with the cameras and lights, but it is interesting and you learn every day something new, especially when working with new technologies and devices.

Another string to your bow is your radio station. How did that come about?

To be able to reach other audiences and create an online presence, I started a radio show called “Mujeres al Dia“  (Women Today) which also has its own blog/website.   The aim of the show is to give voice to all fantastic women doing great things out there. I believe everyone has something to tell and that is why I am so happy to host this radio-show.

You are involved in many projects, apart from your job. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Besides my job, I have been involved in many projects related to our Latin communities, migrants and women. I  am a trustee member for Su Mano Amigo  ONG  providing support for victims of domestic violence in the UK,  also I am a trustee in FUNDAV an ONG  giving support for people suffering rare diseases in Colombia.

And in the last local elections in London,  I was a candidate with the Green Party. We came second in our ward, which was a great experience for me and put a frame to ideas and projects I have supported all my life.

Talking about myself is not easy, as usually I am the one asking questions but this interview has to help me a lot to review what  I have done in life!   

Personal now- what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I wear a lot red and black. My daughter is trying to sort my clothes with different colours! 

Do you have any favourite shops or online stores?  

London is a city where you can find lots of different trends and the most importantly,  is that you can wear whatever you like! I am not a fan yet of buying online – I prefer to go to shops wandering around, trying before I buy.  

Boots or Shoes?

Forever shoes! I am always in high heels and for me, it is just a basic in my wardrobe. I can’t get used to walking in trainers, and I leave boots just for very cold winter days.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about me and my work you can follow us

www.extramedia1.com

www.mujeresaldia.co.uk

Thank you for answering my questions Lina … I hope it wasn’t too bad an experience! 🙂

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission of Lina Usma.

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An Interview With Questlog

When I was younger, I used to collect pamphlets, tickets, postcards and all other paraphernalia, along with photographs, to stick in a photo album/scrapbook – memories of a holiday.  Nowadays, the urge to collect memories is still there … but the time to lovingly make up a photo album is not.  That is why I’m thrilled to welcome onto my blog, Frederic… he makes innovative storage memory boxes to keep your travel trip memorabilia in one place and they look more stylish than a row of photo albums taking up space in the loft! Hi Frederic!…

Hi, I’m Frederic,  I’m 29 and originally from the beautiful Black Forest in southwest Germany, where I am also producing the Questlogs. Some days of the week however, I live, study and work in Munich where I also got my business degree.

What exactly is a Questlog?

Functionally speaking, Questlogs are storage boxes for keepsakes collected while travelling. All those tickets, bottlecaps, leaflets, seashells and other souvenirs can find a place in a Questlog. However, on another level, Questlogs are instruments for preserving, enriching and sharing intercultural travel experience. They direct attention on the connection of geography, culture, experience as well as their anchors and manifestationsin the physical world.

What inspired you to start your company, Questlog?

Before I went to Taiwan for an exchange semester in 2013, I was looking for a good gift to bring that had some connection to Germany. Unfortunately, most stuff I could find were products that represented shallow stereotypes or were plain ugly souvenirs. Speaking of, many times when I came back from a trip and wanted to bring some gifts for friends, family and myself, I was staggered by the amounts of plasticky-miniature-landmark-keychain-scrap on display in tourist locations and airports. At the same time, I realized that “the best” souvenirs by definition were all those small items like tickets, bottlecaps etc. and that there was a lack of some attractive way to present them.  Combine those thoughts with the observation that people (me included) seemed to like collecting Starbucks cups, Hard-Rock Café shirts and similar universally designed object with local variations and voilà the basic idea for Questlog was born.

What is the Questlog made of?

Questlogs are laser cut from FSC certified Finnish birch plywood. Sanding, gluing, treatment with linseed oil and final touches are all done by hand.

When you buy a Questlog what do you get in the package?

Each Questlog comes with a small notebook that features some background texts on traveling, collecting souvenirs and reflecting on travel experience. Also included is a nail for hanging the Questlog on a wall and some information about the campaign we are doing in cooperation with Experiment e.V. to foster intercultural exchange of students.

What sort of “keepsakes” can you keep in a Questlog? Have you heard of any unusual items collected?

Questlogs are big enough for common formats of city maps and flyers. You can put printouts of pictures, handwritten notes, postcards, leftover cash or basically anything that would go in a photo album into your Questlog. On top of that, they provide that extra bit of space, which allows you to put more three-dimensional objects inside.  The most unusual collection I have heard of so far was from an old man at a market I went to. With gleaming eyes, he held a Questlog of Bavaria and said this would be the perfect box for collecting live beetles because they would get enough air in it.

I was a geography geek as a child (still am) with my head in an atlas or in a guidebook – I’m quite happy being an armchair traveller (reading & watching TV programmes) as well as exploring the world for myself. Did you have a fascination with countries as a small child?

I definitively spent many hours looking at maps and spinning globes, amazed about the size of it all compared to the tininess of the area that I had set foot on and seen with my own eyes. I remember virtually “flying” from city to city on google maps when it was first released. My dad travelled a lot for business and would always bring back seemingly mundane things like chewing gum and I was fascinated by the differences even in those everyday objects.

What was the first country you visited?

Growing up just ten minutes from the border to France and Switzerland, one of those was probably the first country I went to. The first long distance trip I have somewhat of memories of was to the US in 1995 when I was 7. My parents made amazing photo albums from our trips, which are some of the most precious items to me.  

Have you got any favourite destinations and why are they specifically at the top of your list?

Taiwan is for sure one of my favorite places, maybe because I was able to spend almost a year in Taipei as an exchange student. The country has a unique mix of bustling cities, beautiful nature and an extraordinary mix of Chinese, Japanese and indigenous culture. People are extremely friendly, and the food is beyond description. I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t been there to go and bring plenty of appetite.

What place is your least favourite and why?

In every place there are some areas and aspects I find more likeable than others, but so far, I haven’t been anywhere that I wouldn’t love to return to and spend more time at. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time to do the exploration in every place that it deserves.

We all have preconceived ideas of what a country will be like – what country totally took you by surprise and was totally opposite of what you thought it would be?

The biggest surprise was probably also Taiwan. Biased by the “Made in Taiwan” image of cheaply produced electronics, I had put it in a bucket with China, Vietnam and the like. When I arrived at the airport, I expected busy street merchants and taxi drivers trying to rip off tourists. I was instantly blown away by the friendliness, discipline and modernity of the country and people.

What place are you looking forward to visiting the most & cross it off your bucket list?

The UK is definitively in my top five. I have been to London twice and next time I really want to see and explore the countryside and other cities that are laced with monuments of the country’s rich history and epic myths that were some of the first stories I heard as a kid.

As Questlog is based in Germany, are your products available to order worldwide?

Questlogs are shipped to all European countries and also worldwide although the shipping gets quite expensive. However, I am planning to set up manufacturing in other big markets in order to reduce shipping distances.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I wish I had some fancy answer to this question, but truth is that I have never been the most fashionable person and usually resort to jeans, sneakers and whatever the weather dictates to keep my torso at working temperature.

What items of clothing/footwear/accessories are your “essentials” when travelling?

A comfy pair of shoes is the obvious essential but beyond that I have learned to love the benefits of light fabric shorts. And by shorts I mean shorts of a length I would probably not wear in Germany. Especially in humid climates I now feel miserable without them. An accessory I have learned to appreciate is a small foldable extra backpack for short overnight trips out of a major city, so I don’t need to carry my entire gear with me.

Boots or Shoes?

I vouch for shoes because they are just the lighter option but maybe that’s just my practicality and lack of sense for fashion.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog find out more about Questlog.

www.questlog.eu – For information and the shop.

https://www.instagram.com/qulog/ – For pictures of how Questlogs are made and used

Fabulous Frederic – thank you for joining me on my blog!  I am honoured that the British countryside is on your travel bucket list.  I think it is beautiful – but then, I am biased!  I was enthralled by the Black Forest & Lake Titisee when I visited a few years ago – the stories by the Brothers Grimm really came to life 🙂 Travel memories are so precious – and I think your Questlogs really help preserve them.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Frederic (Questlog)

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An Interview With Daisy Mae

If you enjoyed “Sex In The City” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary”, then you’ll definitely will enjoy “Dating Daisy” by author-doctor-blogger-book reviewer- agony aunt columnist Daisy Mae.   I caught up with the bubbly Daisy to find out more about her chick-lit novel, her writing, her doctoring, and her love of dancing! Hiya Daisy!

Boo! – now that I have your attention! – I’m Daisy Mae, doctor, author and writer. In fact Daisy Mae is my pen name. I have kept my real doctor’s name a secret to help maintain patient confidentiality etc… I’ve been a Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare specialist for far too many years! – prior to this I was a GP. My special interest is Menopause (take a look at my Dr Daisy Blog at www.menopausematters.co.uk).

What was the inspiration behind your novel “Dating Daisy”?
I started writing my first novel Dating Daisy in 2014, and it took 3 years to finish.  Although it’s a fiction book, it’s based on my own internet dating experiences. Most people say they read and laugh at the internet dating scenarios, and then laugh  again at my tales of working as a doctor in a sexual health clinic.  That’s so good – as I love to laugh – don’t you? I did change all the details in my book – names, times, places etc… and embroidered the story of course – so the only person who knows the real truth– is me! So it’s a humorous fiction book, but with a difference! There are emails, jokes, limericks, poems and even a recipe for love! Don’t miss dating Daisys’ Kissing Tips and Anti-snoring Tips! One of my reviewers wrote “YOU COULD DIE LAUGHING READING THIS BOOK!” yes – in capital letters! Thank you Mahiraj!  https://www.datingdaisy.net/mahirajjajedareviewofdatingdaisy

In fact, there are numerous “Dating Daisy” book reviews on my website –https://www.datingdaisy.net/chicklitreviewsofdatingdaisy “Dating Daisy,” has been described as a cross between Bridget Jones’ Diary and Sex in the City, for example!

Congratulations on being self-published – how does it feel to get control over your book sales, etc? What was your main highlight and what proved most frustrating?

In 2014, aged 52, I found myself divorced after a 27 year marriage. Both my parents also died quite suddenly around the same time. It was a very low point in my life. We had been a close, and I thought happy family. Suddenly all my hopes, dreams and memories were shattered. I was completely devastated. However … being me, I managed somehow to pick up the pieces. Life is very much for the living. There are no dress rehearsals. I was already 52. I decided to turn my life around –took the plunge and started internet dating. I hadn’t had to think about dating for nearly three decades. I wasn’t confident even about how to use the computer! Things like writing a profile and uploading a photo seemed monumentally difficult. I had to get over the embarrassment of people seeing me on a dating site! Grim! – But the things that then happened to me were so unique and so funny, I felt I had to write them down! So Dating Daisy was created – a diary of my life events at the time.

I chose to pay for a publishing deal. This is because aged 52, I did not have time to sit around and wait for the inevitable rejections which all authors have. I wanted to be a writer, and I needed to see my work in print, and fast. I also knew nothing about the publishing industry. This seemed the quickest and most straight forward way to seeing my book for sale in a book shop. I never sent my book to any traditional publishers so I have no idea whether it would have been published or not. I do dislike the snobbery about authors and publishing and I wish other writers would realise that “vanity” publishing is not always a last resort – it may be a very positive choice. I am now however publishing by myself on Amazon KDP and I have parted from my original publishers. I had been pleased, especially with the publicity they organised for me. However eventually, I wanted to be in control of my book sales, advertising, book promotions etc ... Publishing by myself gives me so much more choice and flexibility.

“Dating Daisy” has been described as a cross between “Sex In The City” & “Bridget Jones’s Diary” – about a middle age woman who starts online dating who also happens to be a doctor in a sexual health clinic. Being a regular blogger yourself on Huffington Post & on your own blog, writing articles about internet dating & sexual healthcare interspersed with book reviews – did you find writing your novel harder or easier than you expected compared to your serious factual articles?

 Dating Daisy flew out of my head and onto the paper! It was easy and in fact I became addicted to writing and couldn’t stop! I made myself laugh all the time. And when something happened I couldn’t wait to get home and write it down! I used to tell my dates I was writing a book about internet dating and wait for the reaction! It was all quite hilarious at the time.

Writing as a blogger is more difficult than writing a novel, because you do still need a “voice, but a different kind of voice. Even though you are imparting information, it’s not the same as a text book piece. It’s more of an opinion piece, but also it needs to be engaging and factually correct. I don’t feel I always get this right.

I also write web content for a medical online agency, and this is different again – I have to stand in the shoes of the person who has just clicked online,  andwho may be worried or frightened. This means explaining medical conditions in everyday language. I try very hard to write empathetically. (Do contact me if I can help you as I am always looking for more web writing options.)

For each role, I have to wear a very different hat!

You are a NHS doctor working in the field of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare, specialising in Women’s Health & the Menopause. Do you feel that writing factually about a condition or symptom in a novel helps spread awareness, eg sexual diseases & associated consequences?

 am passionate about sexual health, contraception and menopause. In “Dating Daisy,” as this has been my major interest for nearly 30 years!, I just couldn’t help myself write one whole chapter on contraception, and one whole chapter on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s).  In a way, this may seem strange as this is a fiction book, but in it, there are two text book-ish chapters. However, as it’s my book, I decided that I could put in whatever I liked! This may be the first novel/text book cross breed! I rather hoped that anyone reading it, might decide to go and see their GP and make some good womens’ health choices. If they do, then I will have achieved something really worthwhile – through publishing a novel.
Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with writing or the medical field or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

My parents were huge believers in a good education, and they sent me toboarding school for seven years, just because they honestly thought this was best for me. I wasn’t so sure. However, I did well at school and got into medical school. As a young person, I always thought that I wanted to be a doctor. However, languages were naturally my strongest subjects and I was sorely tempted by English, French and possibly journalism. I do have regrets as medicine is not the sort of career most people might imagine it to be. Now, I am lucky to be able to combine both medicine and writing.

 

Apart from your medical articles , you also write a lot of book reviews. Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or kindle? Favourite genre?

Reading is a fantastic pastime. I marvel at other writers creativity and powers of  expression. I love to read, and my favourite novels are always the humorous ones! I have just read “A Man called Ove,” by Fredrik Backman, and it was hilarious. https://www.datingdaisy.net/bookreviewamancalledove

One of my other most favourite genres are psychological thrillers – for example by author Barbara Vine. I have read all her books and adore them. It’s the chilling feeling in the spine that I love as something happens in the plot that’s often quite macabre. You will hear me say time and time again, that I just love a good story well told, and some of all time favourites are The Book Thief,” by Marcus Zusak, “A Thousand Splendid Sons,” by Khaled Husseini, and “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. If you don’t read these books, you will be hugely missing out. They are incredible. I enjoy doing Daisys’ Book Reviews on my website.  I run “The Fabuloous Book Club” with 7 girl friends, and then post reviews on my site. Its super fun. I do review other books as well.

Have you seen one of my latest book reviews – it’s about the new best seller – “Little Miss Shy Goes Internet Dating,” by Roger Hargreaves!!  Do read it, both the book and my review!  Hilarious!

https://www.datingdaisy.net/littlemissshygoesinternetdatingrevi

Hmm … I do prefer to hold a real book in my hands, however, I am so busy now reading and reviewing, I use the kindle on my phone. This means I can read while I am queuing in the supermarket or on the train for example – I don’t need to waste a minute!  I usually read before bed time. I also listen to audiobooks while out walking. I love this! Audiobooks are such a great invention for busy people. I can’t recommend this highly enough. I do save books up to take on holiday and adore my holiday reading. I have a stash by my bed, one of which is the new Ken Follett, “A Column of Fire.” I will be reading this on my cruise to St Petersburg!

Where can people purchase “Dating Daisy”?  Is there worldwide availability?

My novel “Dating Daisy,”  is now only for sale on Amazon, as an ebook, paperback and an audiobook. It is on Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com. The iBook is in process.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Daisy-Mae/dp/1911525751/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523283284&sr=8-1&keywords=Dating+Daisy

https://www.amazon.com/Dating-Daisy-Mae-ebook/dp/B07BCK6J9H/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1523287156&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=Dating+Daisy&psc=1

When you are not reading, writing or working, I hear you are a bit of a dance fan! I love watching the Argentine Tango on Strictly Come Dancing. What types of dancing do you enjoy?

Dancing is absolutely my most favourite pastime in the world! I used to dance with Voldemort – my ex-husband – but when we split up, I lost my dance partner and didn’t dance for a few years. When I met Edward, we started together again from the beginning – as he had never danced a step!  It  has given us such incredible fun and joy to dance together. We have done all our medals: social dance, bronze, silver and gold and now we are doing gold bar one – in Ballroom and Latin. Our favourite dances are Foxtrot and Quickstep, although Edward is mad on Argentine Tango. I also love sequence dancing. I have written about dancing in Dating Daisy and in my new book, “Daisys’ Love Secrets” – due for publication any day soon. My poem “Learning to Dance,” has caused a lot of laughs at the dance school. – Yes, it’s in my new book!

We dance regularly, being part of a dance school (DM Dance Centre).We have made fabulous friends through dancing, and not only have group nights and private lessons, but we go to dinner dances, on dance holidays and to watch dance competitions. It’s given us so much to do together. Our highlight was doing the Viennese Waltz at The Johann Strauss  Viennese Ball in Vienna in 2016! Next on the agenda is an Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires! … watch this space. I always do what I set out to do!… and I’m looking!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Fashion is an issue for all women. You can’t get away from it. I suppose I have my own style?! On an average day working from home I will be in jeans or leggings and a T shirt/round necked top – usually I like bright colours like fuschia pink or red.  Over the top I wear a variety of comfy sloppy jumpers. In the winter I usually wear slouchy boots – black or grey suede. I prefer plain colours to floral prints. I often stick my hair up to get it our of the way. I like to think I have vaguely Goldie Hawn sort of look – but probably not! However, I love getting dressed up for a black tie event or a Ball. I have some beautiful long dance dresses and a fabulous array of sparkly  dance shoes. Edward and I always try to be colour  coordinated! I love the fact that I am now 56, and have a lovely lifestyle with lots of champagne  type events – at a time when I might have been having cocoa and slippers!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

 I am quite a traditional shopper. With clothes I do always prefer to try them on and rarely buy clothes on line. I tend to go to John Lewis if I’m looking for something special. It’s hard to find nice dance dresses and I have a tailoress who I go to who will adjust the length for me in my dance shoes. My favourite dress is a full length, evening dress in bright red, satin from Damsel in a Dress. I have a favourite Cha Cha Cha dress that actually I bought having hired it first, in a fancy dress shop! I have a beautiful Hobbs, long black dress, with nude, embroidered back panel, and it’s gorgeous. There is a taffeta underskirt so the skirt swirls out when you are walking or dancing. I adore it.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

We are off on a cruise for our summer holiday to St Petersburg – Yikes!  – so I will be getting busy soon compiling a cruise wardrobe. This is exciting as there several black tie formal nights at sea, and it a great excuse for a few, new long dresses!  I love putting together the colours and the bling! On a cruise ship – the more bling the better! Of course its also important  to have nice day wear and sightseeing clothes etc… so I will be looking for thin, light weight summer tops and shorts/dresses. I always love bright colours. You can usually see me coming! Then in September we are going on our dance school holiday to Portugal – so  another week of dance clothes will be required …. so much shopping … so little time! Accessories are more difficult. I love earrings and bracelets, but for some reason I find necklaces difficult. I like my neck bare. Rubies are my favourite jewels, and Edward bought me a beautiful ruby ring last year. I don’t know if nails and hair are accessories but I regard them as such! I always have my nails done – acrylics and shellac. For women, beautiful hands are essential. I have had hair extensions for the past two years, and loved them, but I recently had to have them out for a while to give my scalp a rest. Actually they were really good for my own hair and helped the condition of my hair enormously. Instead I have a clip in pony tail which is great fun. My friends and I have started a habit of giving scarves to each other for birthdays, so I now have quite a collection, all bright colours of course! I love snoods, for the winter. And fake-fur wraps for my ball dresses.
Boots Or Shoes?

Shoes can make or break an outfit and are actually very important. I am tall – 5ft 9, but so is Edward, so when we are together I can still wear heels, and often do, as I’m often wearing wearing dance shoes. Putting on a beautiful shoe does something to your insides doesn’t it? It’s a Cinderella feeling!  However, I am sensible! If we have a day out for example in London, I will be in my flatties! I like to wear close fitting straight trousers, sometimes with a stirrup and little flat suede shoes in a contrasting colour. I have two pairs of suede boots that are old friends! I only wear them however with trousers, never with skirts or dresses. I’m very fussy about shoes – they have to be comfortable, fashionable enough not to be square, but not outlandish – I don’t like wedges, trainers or anything clumpy. I like shoes in plain colours – my favourite pair for going in at present, are bright red! Yes – I do try to match the handbag don’t worry!                         

For Pinning Later
Get in Touch with Daisy Mae


Dating Daisy at AmazonKindle, paperback and audiobook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Daisy-Mae-ebook/dp/B07BCK6J9H/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521122874&sr=8-1&keywords=Dating+Da

Dating Daisy websitehttp://www.datingdaisy.net

Email daisy.sharer@gmail.com

Dr Daisy Blog at Menopause Matters https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/daisyblog.php

Facebook – Daisy Mae – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100018895352743

Instagram – datingdaisy – https://www.instagram.com/datingdaisy/?hl=en

Twitter- Daisy Mae – https://twitter.com/daisy_sharer

Oh Daisy, I have so enjoyed having you on my blog – it was such fun to have a giggle with you! I love your book Dating Daisy – and I’m sure a lot of my blog readers will enjoy it too! 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Daisy Mae.

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Spotlight On Pharmacy Movement And Krumping

So what has dance and pharmacy got in common?  Well, my interview guest this week, Professor Arun Nadarasa, has an aim to close the gap between the health and well being component of patient care enhancing the use of social prescriptions. The Professor has written a book “Pharmacy Movement”, with the message that medication is not always the answer to every disease. Where does the “Krumping” come into it?  Well, this professor also happens to be a Krump Performance coach too…. Hi Arun!

Hi! My name is Arun and I am a pharmacist by trade where I started working since February 2013. I did my degree at the University of Bath from 2006 till 2011. My passion is Krump dance which I started in April 2008. I was born in France and I moved to UK in 2002 with my parents and my two younger sisters. My ethnicity is Srilankan Tamil.

What inspired you to write your book “Pharmacy Movement”?

The inspiration started when I came across the NHS Five Year Forward View at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Annual Conference in September 2016. The speaker talked about bridging the gap between health and wellbeing. This then made me reflect on Pharmacy being Health and Dance being Wellbeing. I was then trying to come up with a cool name for the combination of both like Dance Pharmacist, Creative Pharmacist but Movement Pharmacist stuck with me since movement is the basis of dance.

What is Social and Digital Prescribing?

Social Prescribing involve recommending non-medicinal activities (like dance, music & singing) to patients to improve their social connectedness since social isolation is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Even a Minister of Loneliness was appointed in UK to tackle this national problem. In contrast, digital prescribing involve recommending mobile apps to patients leveraging their daily usage for empowerment of their habits and mindset. For instance, Headspace is great to learn meditation and others include the number of calories consumed daily as well as quality of sleep.

Although you studied Pharmacy at the University of Bath & you are a community pharmacist; dance features quite heavily in your life, especially Krump dance. Now, I must admit I had to google “Krumping” … can you explain what Krump dance is?

Krump is a street dance which combing both ballet and boxing. It was created in 2001 by Tight Eyez and Big Mijo in Los Angeles as an outlet to express their frustrations and escape gang culture. It stands for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise as it was commonly used as a praise dance in churches. It is now present in 95 countries and European Buck Session (EBS) is the World Championship of Krump Dance held in Germany annually since 2008.

What attracted you to “krumping”?

The energy it gave off. I started Judo at the age of 7 and I gained my black belt at the age of 18 under the mentoring of Basil Dawkins from Moberly Judo Club in London. Since I have loose ligaments, I kept getting knee injuries whilst at University as I was training with the judo team there. It was the same of Breaking (also referred as Breakdancing) which I started in 2006, since it focus heavily on legs, I was getting injured frequently whereas Krump is predominantly upper body based so I made the complete switch in December 2009.

What are the benefits of “krumping”? Could the same results be applied to other forms of dance?

It is very therapeutic since it requires lots of stamina and grit, your body become toned very quickly and improve your stamina considerably. It is also useful in releasing not useful emotions through dance which lead me to set up a charity called “Krump Save Lives”. Yes, dance is recognised to have rejuvenating properties and increase longevity for practitioners along with music and smiling.

You spent 16 months, invested over £10,000 and interviewed 24 world experts on getting your unique book out there – are you pleased with how the book, Pharmacy Movement” turned out? Was being an author harder than you expected? Would you consider writing more books?

Yes definitely, the UK Prime Minister has a signed copy of my book and the Queen of England acknowledged my book. It also lead me to give a speech in Paris about the benefits of Social Prescribing within the medical sector. It was definitely a learning curve, the beginning was the hardest for sure but thanks to my family and friends’ encouragement, I kept going. Yes, I have 6 more books planned within the Krump industry.

Is Krump Dance therapy suitable for everybody?

Yes, Krump dance is universal, as long the dancer don’t have a medical contra-indication like osteoporosis or a heart condition, then it’s fine. I did my first Krump dance class with Parkinson patients back in June 2017 which was an amazing experience. Children as young as 2 years old can start Krumping. The oldest Krumper in the world is Old Skool in USA who is over 70 years old.

Although you are based in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, it is available on Amazon as a hard copy as well as a Kindle edition.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

When it comes to Krump, I like wearing Jordans which is common within the Krump culture. Krumpers tends to wear black t-shirts which can have Krump designs and normally I wear black jeans. For professional networking events, I normally wear either my blue, red or black suits to maintain my brand.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I normally buy directly from the Krump Clothes designers when I travel to support the Krump economy. I am a massive fan of Starbucks as it boosts my creativity on what I can do for the Krump and pharmacy sector. Amazon is another website I normally use to buy personal development books.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I would love to wear smart clothes, those which can measure your heart rate and related health metrics. For shoe, I envision that there will be a dedicated Krump brand for shoes which will elevate the Krump economy by fellow entrepreneurs.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes since it is easier to dance with them especially when it comes to Krump footwork which can be very fast so weight plays an important part. The sole needs to be thick enough to absorb the impact of the stomp. It needs a fine balance between the two.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Pharmacy Movement & Krumping 🙂

www.pharmacymovement.com

www.udemy.com/moolkrump

www.arunnadarasa.com

@ArunNadarasa for Instagram

@MovementPharma for Twitter

“Professor Arun Nadarasa” for YouTube

You certainly kept me entertained Arun, although I’m not sure I can Krump, I can certainly appreciate how dance/movement in general can help maintain our health, especially as we get older.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Arun Nadarasa.

Video link from YouTube, as recommended by Arun Nadarasa

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An Interview With Leslie Brooks

From Australia last week to the USA this week, and I’m pleased to welcome onto my blog the vivacious Leslie Brooks, US model, TV & Radio personality, social media influencer, Shatterproof Ambassador and mother of 3!  This lady has tons of energy, very smiley and very stylish …. and I had tons of questions to ask her! Hi Leslie!

 

Photo by David Sigal

Hi! My name is Leslie Brooks. I currently live in Columbus, OH. I grew up in Dayton, OH and went to college at Ohio University where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. After graduating I was discovered by a modeling agent in Louisville, KY and began my modeling career. I consider myself a semi-retired model now taking jobs in print work, commercial work and tv hosting. I am also a mom of 3 (my favorite job ever 😉). I am a social media influencer on Twitter with over 145k followers. I also work as an Ambassador with the nonprofit Shatterproof organization.

What does the charity Shatterproof do and what does being an ambassador entail?

Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families. As an Ambassador I am part of a national network of volunteer peer leaders, educating and empowering others to learn about and support Shatterproof’s mission. Ambassadors are committed to promoting the Shatterproof vision and representing the organization. This is a very personal mission to me. Sadly I lost my only brother to addiction when he was only 32, and in 2013 my father committed suicide after years of struggling with the disease.

You have been modelling for over 20 years. What inspired you to become a model? Has their been any noticeable changes in the field of modelling since you first started?

Growing up I was always a tall, skinny girl. But with big hair and braces, I never quite felt attractive. However in 1997, an agent named MJ Kaufman approached me about modeling. I guess being tall and skinny was actually a blessing 😉. So much has changed over the years of modeling but most notible is the introduction of Social Media. Now men and women who may never have had an opportunity to model are being discovered via Instagram and Snapchat.

Being a social media influencer, you need to have regular interaction on social media. What social media outlet is your personal favourite? What is your least favourite & why?

My favorite social media outlet is Twitter. A few years ago an agent from LA recommended I use Twitter to build a brand and following. I started out with about 200 followers. I quickly learned how much fun Twitter is and began to gain a large following. I love being creative and telling jokes so this has been a great forum for me to be connected to thousands of people all across the world. My least favorite outlet is Snapchat. I just can’t quite get into it. Although my preteen daughters are pros. Ha!  

Photo by Jackie Goudy

You are a mom to 2 girls and a boy – would they like to follow in your footsteps and become models/TV personalities or have they got other plans? What do you like best about being “mom”?

My daughters are 12 and 11. My oldest would love to follow in my footsteps and either model or act. I also have a son who is 7. Currently his career goals are to be a male model and then a zoo keeper. Ha ha! Being a mother has been my most challenging yet most rewarding job ever. I always wanted to be of service to others, it just so happens I get to be of service to my own children. Helping them navigate their way in the world. If I can raise kind, happy and brave children then I will feel my work has been done.

Let’s talk food… what is your favourite meal? What food genre is your favourite when eating out?

My absolute favorite food is crab legs. I also love French fries. My husband and I are quite adventurous with food so we love going out to try different cuisines.

You have travelled to some seriously cool places.If you could visit any place in the world, money no object, where would you go & why?

I’ve been blessed to travel a lot especially in the last few years. In the past 18 months, I’ve been to Hawaii, Grand Caymans, Southern California, Jamaica, Mexico, Iceland and the Dominican Republic. In June I’ll be traveling to Costa Rica. If money and time were no object, my dream trip would be to Australia.

Personal Photo of Leslie and her husband, Troy

Out of the places you’ve travelled too – where was your favourite place? Which place left you disappointed? Favourite family location?

My very favorite place I’ve traveled to so far has been Grand Caymans. The water is the most spectacular blue I have ever seen. The people of Jamaica have been the most kind. And Iceland is so spectacular. A landscape I’ve never seen before. Many times I travel with my husband for his work. But we also try to take a few family trips as well. We are taking the kids on a Disney Cruise next month. I’ve heard great things about it and I can’t wait to experience it with the kids.

Have you got a favourite style icon, past or present?

I like to think of my style as classic glamour. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was the epitome of this style.

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses of the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s… what decade of fashion are you drawn towards? Which popular styles of any decade didn’t/don’t float your boat?

I always love how in fashion what goes around comes around. I’ve enjoyed when the fashion from the 70s came back. Flowy dresses, bell bottoms. But I tend to stay with classic styles that don’t follow a trend. Fitted dresses, classic colors, and pumps.

My favourite colour is green although glancing at my wardrobe most of my clothes are shades of blue! And I love red for nights out! What is your favourite colour?

Of course all black can be stunning. However I love a splash of color. I also love the current look of prints and floral patterns. My favorite color is red.

I have a passion for music – I listen to most styles – what genre floats your boat?

My personal playlist is quite eclectic. Everything from Kids Bop lol, to 90s R&B. My all time favorite artist is Prince. I really do believe he was a musical genius.

Describe your perfect day.

While I do enjoy a night out at a fabulous restaurant, I’ve really become a homebody. A perfect night would be with my family at home. Watching a movie or playing a board game.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

During the week I tend to dress more comfortably. Fitted jeans and a tee or blazer. Nights out I love to wear dresses. Summertime is my favorite time for fashion. Lots of sundresses and white denim is a constant staple.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love Saks Fifth Avenue. But also do a lot of shopping online. I love Intermix and Forward.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’ve recently become obsessed with Balmain blazers. I recently purchased my first. It is a beautiful fitted red double blazer with gold buttons. Because they are such a classic staple, I’d love to add a black and navy to my collection. My favorite brand of shoes is Christian Louboutin. In fact I just picked up a fabulous red t-strap stiletto yesterday. There is something very sexy about that red bottomed sole.

Boots or Shoes? 

I like boots in the winter months. Especially ankle booties. The summertime I live in flip flops and heeled sandals at night.

Links you would like to share e.g. Blog/facebook/twitter/etc

You can find me in Twitter at www.twitter.com/leslie_annie

Instagram at www.instagram.com/leslieannebrooks

Fabulous chatting to you Leslie! Shatterproof is such a worthy cause although I am sorry to hear of your personal bereavements, I’m sure your personal experience has and will help those who find themselves in a similar situation.  On a brighter note, red T- strap Louboutin stilettos sound exquisite … and yes, very sexy! Love it! 🙂

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Leslie Brooks.  The photographers are David Sigal, Jackie Goudy & Leslie Brooks.

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An Interview With Donnie Rust

There’s more to my guest this week than meets the eye – and it’s not just the fact that he is 6ft 6 inches tall!  Donnie Rust is co founder, Editorial & Creative Director, & talented Travel Writer with the business and travel site, The Lost Executive.  He came to England in 2003 from Durban, South Africa and since his arrival he has caused a whirlwind … wowed audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with his guitar and stage presence; dabbled in the world of timeshares in Tenerife; fulfilled his writing dreams as an author with some fantasy books under his belt; co-founded a successful business & travel site…    so I just couldn’t wait to invite him onto my blog! Hi Donnie…..

Hi! I’m Donnie Rust, co-founder, editorial and creative director of The Lost Executive business and travel site. I am the show off of the team and responsible for much of the creative planning and getting us both into trouble.

Growing up in Durban, South Africa, you arrived in the UK in 2003 & have had some interesting jobs since then including being a timeshare salesman in Tenerife, a naked busker starring in your own show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011, an author of occult-noir genre books and travel writer & co-founder of the website magazine Lost Executive. What made you decide to launch Lost Executive?

My co-founder and I wanted to highlight the importance of bridging the gap between business and leisure while providing a real value to businesses seeking content creation and promotion. Also, it put me in touch with some places offering really good suits. (I love my suits.) I am also a writer by trade and enjoy using words to create something special and useful. Most importantly though, is I love to travel. I love being exposed and plunged into new cultures and social surroundings. Seeing new places. It helps remind me how big the world is and how small my role in it.

I was a geography geek as a child (still am) with my head in an atlas or in a guidebook – I’m quite happy being an armchair traveller (reading & watching TV programmes) as well as exploring the world for myself. Did you have a fascination with countries as a small child?

I was very much a geek myself as a child. Having grown up in South Africa I was quite outdoorsy, but preferred to be sitting down either drawing, reading or writing. I wrote my first novel when I was 9 and a half wanting to be published before I was 10, however this was the days of DOS and one glitch on the computer lost everything. I did a great deal of martial arts growing up so I did pay a lot of attention to the orient, I was also very interested in mythology, theology and fiction. Always been bookie I guess. So that covers Greece, Egypt, Rome, Africa and Asia.  Also, South Africa is a young country, it’s a very old place but a young country, it doesn’t have the same sort of heavy history that you find in Europe or the UK. I was fascinated by the idea of castles and ruins that had been up for centuries because all the buildings in SA were new. Culture wise, you won’t find a more diverse country. Being a saffa you’re exposed to the cultural differences from a young age: I had friends who were Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Indian and white, all with their own backgrounds and beliefs.

You grew up in Durban,South Africa – so apart from your own country, what was the first country you visited?

I suppose that would be Lesotho, but I don’t think that has to count. Officially it would be Britain, England.

Have you got any favourite destinations and why are they specifically at the top of your list?

Cape Town is still one of my favourite places in the world. I know I’m supposed to say Durban, and Durban is beautiful but there is something majestic and trendy about Cape Town. I love it because of it’s energy and its buzz and the breathtaking scenery is free to everyone.

I lived in Tenerife for a while, so I like the Canaries. Not a fan of them as a holiday destination because it’s very “all inclusive”, but living and working there was fun, for what I can remember of it.

I like to travel to the Highlands of Scotland whenever I am able, Foyers on the shores of Loch Ness is one of my favourite places. There’s a bnb there calld Foyers House which has a view of the forests and the mists that are absolutely singular. Good place to go for a respite. Especially as last time I went the owner confiscated my phone.

What place is your least favourite and why?

Very difficult question to answer as I try to focus on the good bits. Also any bad experiences usually make the best stories afterwards. To be honest this question has stumped me a little bit. I’m not a fan of Luton if that helps?

Donnie with The Lost Executive crew

We all have preconceived ideas of what a country will be like – what country totally took you by surprise and was totally opposite of what you thought it would be?

Norway. Bergen. I went there earlier this year. I’ve never seen a city so clean, so technology intelligent (everywhere took card payments even on top of a mountain), everyone was friendly. The city of Bergen is also very, very energy aware, so at night time the city is dark. So dark that when I arrived by tram (trams are everywhere there), I thought I was in the middle of nowhere. I could see the odd light in a room here and there but otherwise nothing. The next morning I discovered I was in the middle of a gigantic city and that its just that if a light doesn’t need to be on it doesn’t go on. They’ve got a completely different mentality over there, a beautifully intelligent, forward thinking and logical approach based on facts and not speculation.

Also Venice. I went to Venice last year. The touristy parts were what I expected, but my girlfriend and I went off the beaten track a lot and wandered into an artist’s studio and a gigantic modern art display. I was surprised by how many islands there are there that are not inhabited because they can’t be reached without special boats- so you don’t have vandals or graffiti because it would be too much effort and the results are these small islands with these ruins on them that are untouched and unspoiled right in the middle of one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world.

I love travelling & flying but I hate airports! What’s your favourite and least favourite airports?

Norway, Oslo Airport, mostly because they give staff scooters to get around faster. Again, there’s that thinking that everyone needs to be responsible for themselves.

The worst airport was Ljubljana in Slovenia. It was tiny, small, the shops didn’t open at certain times of the day and we had a 4 hour wait for our flight.

Do you have a favourite mode of travel?

I won’t lie, I am a bit of a reluctant flier. I would prefer to drive or even better, a luxury cabin in a train.

You are an author of 3 books in the fantasy/occult-noir genre – I have read your working title series books – with the raunchy titles of “That Time I Did A Favour For God And Was Almost Buggered To Death By A Demon Dog: (A Working Title) Volume 1” and “The Case Of The Woman Who Killed Monsters With Her Bitey Vagina: A Working Title, Volume 2”. As a reviewer of your books stated recently, that you are “bringing all the characters from your childhood nightmares to life”! What do you enjoy most about writing your novels? Where do you get your ideas from?

Some of the ideas are from actual folklore. Others are just pareidolic. I dislike any character to be conveniently talented, one of my first books was “Godhunter” and it explored the price of great power. Real costs in terms of physical, emotional value. My characters suffer their powers and their abilities- like telepathy- 1. You wouldn’t read minds like spoken sentences, they’d be mishmashes of shapes, smells, random thoughts, emotions and images and 2. Why would you automatically be able to control it? So before I look at what makes my character different I look at the costs of that uniqueness and reverse engineer it from there.

Oh and all my characters are heavily flawed.

Donnie as The Naked Busker

Let’s talk Naked. The Naked Busker idea was certainly different. How come you embarked on the act in the first place?

I was a stand up comedian and looking for a gimmick and my girlfriend at the time suggested I get naked because it always made her laugh. It became an onstage act, I’d get up, strip down, do an animated comedic show with just a pair of boots and a guitar, sing songs that were particularly rude and purile. I was semi professional for a little while actually but now the only thing about that is an alarming number of pictures of me on google images.

Starring in your show at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was it all plain sailing or do you have any memorable disasters? Do you still indulge in the music scene?

Ah, the Ed Fringe 2011. I was doing a nightly set at the City Café and someone stole my clothes and I spent the last evening wandering around the city trying to find them. It ended up being a pretty good night because it was the Edinburgh Fringe, nobody even batted an eyelid when a naked guy in a pair of boots and a guitar came traipsing along. I love playing my guitar and singing, but aside from a couple of local open mic nights at some of my friend’s joints I don’t really get involved on stage. I do my bit supporting some of my friends who are far better musicians than I. The likes of Will How and Pirate Joe… I do love being on stage though.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love wearing suits. I get my suits from a local store named Slaters. I’m a fan of waist coats and coats with double buttons that have to be tailored to fit my size. I also often wear jeans a lot and a denim jacket. I like to mix it up.

Do you go shopping for clothes/accessories whilst travelling? If so, which country was shopping a pleasant or otherwise experience?

Cape Town was superb. Generally whenever I go back to South Africa I’ll fly over with an empty bag and just the clothes I’m wearing and will come back with it filled with clothes. They have a summerly fashion sense there because it’s never really winter, so you can pick up some really cool clothes for less than half the price of UK. They also make clothes to fit big guys. I’m 6ft 6 with shoulders which makes me about average size for a South African and so I find clothes no problem. Also, it’s an awesome place to buy sunglasses and hats.

What items of clothing/footwear/accessories are your “essentials” when travelling?

A hoody. A pair of loose fitting jeans. A breathable pair of socks and a Handycosy neck pillow. Boxers never briefs.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots if I’m going out for a night. Shoes if I’m wearing a suit.
Boots last longer, they don’t let water in and if you have to do any sudden running with them or freestyle parkour you know your ankles will at least be protected. Shoes with a suit because it makes you feel cooler and also because the boots I wear don’t work well with suits.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can follow you & Lost Executive.

twitter.com/lostexecutive
twitter.com/donnierust
https://www.facebook.com/ourdonnierust/
facebook.com/thelostexecutive
instagram.com/Donnie_rust
instagram.com/thelostexecutive

I agree with you, Donnie, about the luxury train travel option … certainly a fantastic way to travel – 5 course meal, wine and sitting a luxurious armchair whilst admiring the landscape out of the picture windows – absolutely heavenly.  I was lucky to have had that experience a couple of times – once on my honeymoon and several shorter trips on the British Pullman and Northern Belle trains. Many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! 🙂

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Donnie Rust.

 

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An Interview With Frankly Coaching

Generation XY – The Millennials.  I am going to confess right away, that apart from “The Millennials” – the title speaks for itself – I didn’t have a clue what Generation XY represented! I have found out since it is roughly those born from 1977 – 1995.  So now I know – and I also know that I’m not one of them! Nevertheless, my daughter is of that generation. My guest is the delightful Puja of Frankly Coaching, a NLP Performance & well-being coach. Puja specialises in working with women from Generation XY – The Millennials and I was keen to know more about her, her work and her Frankly Women 12 week programme.  Hi Puja!

Hi! I’m Puja K McClymont – a Certified NLP Life Coach for Millennial Women (born 1977-1995) that helps them get the best out of their complex lives. I also work with Businesses to help facilitate change within organisations. My practice, Frankly Coaching, is based in London where I live with my hubby and 2 yr old. I’m a straight-talking coach who gets results. I’m not perfect but I am excellent 😉 (an NLP joke).

What inspired you to open your business, Frankly Coaching?

I’ve technically been qualified since 2012 and I’ve done more courses over the years leading up to 2017 as well as been coaching here and there but after having my baby and being made redundant during maternity leave, I decided now was the time to do the work that I’ve wanted to do for so long. I believe in things happening the way they’re supposed to.

Why did you decide to specialise in working with women from Generation X,Y – Millennials (those born 1977 – 1995)?

When I was deciding my specialisation, I found that as a millennial myself and having faced a multitude of struggles in my life, I wanted to work with women like me. I’ve personally gone through a lot over the years but I’ve always come out fighting. I’ve always had a “never give up” attitude and a self confidence of being able to do anything I want to do. It might be my stubbornness but I don’t like to hear the word “no.” As a result, I’ve always succeeded in reaching my goals. I want to share that experience and confidence with other like-minded women. As millennials are of varying ages, I’ve found we have a complex experience of life because of technological advancements. Technology gives us freedom and immediate access to anything but it also takes away some reality and human interaction that we might actually need. I think that the values that were instilled in us get distorted with the consuming of technology – social media being the top culprit. What I mean is, for example, you are raised to know that working hard will deliver the results you desire but then people become overnight successes on Instagram, and all they did was post a few selfies. This then distorts our values and we unconsciously try to mirror this thinking but it goes against our values so we instead ‘fail’ to achieve what we think we should be doing. As much as women have evolved in society over the years, we still face common challenges that are difficult to balance with our baby boomer parents who more often than not, stayed at home with us. We on the other hand, want to ‘Run the world’ and now more than ever, we actually can. However, when you add that thinking with traditional marriages, children, careers, money, spending, independence, we’re often met with resistance or internal difficulty in achieving the right levels of ‘balance’ for ourselves. When we don’t achieve this balance, we get stuck.

Can you describe your specific Frankly Women 12 week programme? What could a customer expect?

I don’t want to say it’s a secret but it’s one of those things you need to experience. Usually the discovery session unmasks what you get with all my coaching and then this is the technical spec. Sometimes it’s hard to describe a feeling but if we’re meant to be, then that feeling will be there. However, the below maps out the 12 weeks but as I say, it’s much more than the technical bit. It’s also the empowerment, the motivation, the overwhelming feeling of achievement, the reevaluating of your values and beliefs and people and things in your life. Knowing that all is possible. And someone being in your corner. So much.
Week 1 – Get to know you and your wants and challenges. Discover where you are now and where you want to be.
Week 2 – Map out your life and use successes to mirror for the new goals
Week 3 – Visual board – see what your goals look, feel and smell like
Week 4 – Define values and beliefs (good and bad): find out why you do what you do
Week 5 – Define what you tolerate in your life and how you could better manage them to suit you better.
Week 6 – Action plan: define your goals, the reasons for them and belief in them
Week 7 – Address/Manage challenges and create strategies
Week 8 – Review work so far and address new challenges with effective NLP techniques
Week 9 – Implement suitable NLP techniques for any blockages
Week 10 – Review what has been achieved and celebrate successes
Week 11 – Plan the next 3 months
Week 12 – Review of entire programme and be given NLP tools for moving further forward
At the end of the 12 weeks, you should have achieved at least one of your short term goals and be able to use the techniques experienced with moving forward with the others.

What are the reasons/benefits of hiring a life coach?

I’m going to offer my own experience of hiring a coach for this answer rather than sounding like a salesperson. I’m a pretty organised person (love lists), set goals for myself intrinsically and achieve them but when I started seeing my now husband my life became confusing. I went from being completely independent, living on my own in my own flat that I bought at 26, to sharing my time with this man, and trying to balance my social butterfly status with the needs of the boyfriend. I didn’t look after myself during this time and as a result, had a breakdown and fell into depression. Not the boyfriend’s fault. I just boarded the roller coaster and kept on riding it without thinking. I became co-dependent, I gained weight after losing so much only a few years before, I struggled with money, I didn’t enjoy my work and so on. After using different therapies and deciding that I would continue to fight, I found a Coach who would help me move forward. And that’s the key right there. MOVING FORWARD. It stopped me being stuck, allowed me to be accountable for what I could control and accept what I couldn’t, it unravelled the self sacrificing I thought I should be doing to make space for a partner and essentially, brought me back to my best self which then led to me being able to continue achieving and living a life that I wanted for myself. I was able to set clear goals for career, money and the relationship – and now we’re happily married with a kid.

You are an NLP Performance & Wellbeing coach. Can you explain what NLP is & why is it different from any other type of life coach?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the study of excellence. It is an attitude of learning, curiosity and respect for unique ways of being in the world. Over the years NLP has uncovered an increasing number of tools and techniques for discovering what constitutes excellence. In particular, it is a means of finding the essence of that excellence – the difference that makes the difference – and doing so in such a way that it can be coded and reproduced.
We can have excellence at our fingertips, available whenever we choose. As a result, we can be Coached to consistently achieve the results that we want for ourselves, our business and our life.
In very simple terms, NLP is where we change the way we think and speak in order to change the way we act so that we can achieve the results we want. It basically changes the way we have been doing things so that our outcomes change for the better.
A NLP Coach is different because we work on ‘re-wiring’ thoughts, studying your own excellence to tap into that, mirror inspirations and believe that everyone can achieve what they want. We strategically work with you and your life to create the space and knowledge you need to move it forward.

Out of all the services you offer, what is the most popular service amongst your customers?

Across my services, I’d say that they are of equal popularity. My speaking engagements often lead to individuals clients and my individual clients book the retreats. My business coaching is very popular because I have a a simple 2 step process for organisations with deliverable results within a short timespan – which they like.

Your career background has been in the field of marketing & PR, but growing up though, did you inspire to follow your eventual career path (as a life coach) or did you have other ambitions?

I always wanted to be famous. I didn’t know what for but I knew that was something I wanted. If I became famous now and it was because of my coaching, I would be very happy with that. The more people I can help, the more successful I will feel. I was a little ‘famous’ within my industry in hospitality as I worked for a very well-known bar in London and everyone wanted to know me and I was invited to anything and everything! I have danced around my handbag with Paris Hilton! I’ve had lunch with Pharrell Williams at a music festival, I’ve hosted many a celebrity at the places I’ve worked for. My 20’s were fab! At 19, I had my first experience with a recruitment agent and I remember she asked me what I wanted to do with my life (having come to her for some direction of which job would suit me) and I said “I want to help people” she said that I had great skills for relationship building, listening, a great personality and that I should go into marketing. So I did. And almost 20 years later, discovered that coaching was my calling.

Although you are based in the UK, are your sessions available overseas?

Absolutely! I have clients from the US, Dubai and Australia as well as the UK. Coaching is about rapport and you might need to look far and wide to find the coach that fits you best.

I know that you have travelled extensively & that you have been to many exotic locations around the world. Where has been your favourite location so far? Least favourite/ most disappointing? What place is number one on your current bucket list?

Oh! I love these questions. My favourite place is a tie between Hawaii and Chile. Hawaii because of its deep and rich history and the fact that the Earth is still forming there – mind-blowing, saw it from a helicopter and Chile because it feels like you’re on the edge of the earth and when you get to Cape Horn, you pretty much are at the southernmost point of the Earth before Antartica, plus its immense history and fabulous food – I ate ceviche straight from the fish that was caught at the marina! Least favourite was Tunisia. I’m not a resort type of person and I didn’t enjoy the locals or the food. Bucket list: ALL the Polynesian islands, Asia and a lot of the African countries.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

When I’m a size 10, I like to wear waist enhancing anything! My waist is a great feature and I was able to show that off a lot when I was slim. My legs were great too! so short dresses were my thing. As a size 16, apart from the odd tent, I like to wear colour but pair with dark light jackets and heels. Although at the moment, I’m really enjoying wearing jeggings with a loose top, amazing makeup and hair and jewellery and paring with a cool pair of trainers or wedge boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Ted Baker, Reiss, DKNY, Asos

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Brown leather boots

Boots or Shoes?

Boots because it’s cold but I think they add more to an outfit than shoes do.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you & Frankly Coaching.

www.franklycoaching.com
fb, t, i @franklycoaching

Thank you Puja!  I must say, I like your travel bucket list and also, Chile is one of those places on top of my bucket list, it sounds as though you had a great trip there! 🙂 It must have been a giggle to dance around your handbags with Paris Hilton …. I can picture the scene now! Life is for fun and I’m so glad you are able to help others who are perhaps struggling with stress at the moment, to help put things into perspective and make the most of their potential.  Life coaching does seem like the ideal path for you.

Linda x

Photos of Puja are published with kind permission of Puja K McClymont.  Other photos are by Linda Hobden.

 

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