Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Yes, this moment has come.

Welcome to our new corner of the web.

Welcome home.

See you there:

Leah xx

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

How to get published

The New Year isn’t far. It’s right on your doorstep, beckoning your attention and your intention.

December presents you with a beautiful opportunity. A chance to cast your mind back over the past year and reflect on all that you created and made possible by showing up each day and saying yes. What has evolved? 12 months of learning and of course, unlearning.

December is the divine period of time nestled between the old and the new, offering you a whole month to express gratitude for bringing you here (and I mean exactly here, right to this moment) and also space to discover what it is you want to create in your life the next year.

In conversation with aspiring writers, 2015 is calling them to crank up their writing dream a notch. Yes they would like to write more regularly, express more creatively, and channel their voice and message, but they want to do all of this PUBLICLY.

No longer in their leather-bound journals on their bedside table, sitting among the plethora of word docs on their desktops, or existing in some corner of the web they haven’t told a soul it exists. No, this coming year is calling them to go bigger and to share their words with the world.

It’s time to get published.

Eeeek! Scary you say? Yes, it is. A little uncomfortable you say? Well, yes, it is that too. Exciting? Without a doubt.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

A Mother's Love

“A mother’s love is the fuel that enables a human being to do the impossible” – C. Garretty

The bond that a mother and her baby share is something profound. Something that expands limitless depths and rises to insurmountable heights. It is endless and enduring.

This type of love is pure. It’s heavenly. It’s unadulterated.

It is unapologetically real.

It could be the most beautiful thing on this planet. It’s a mother’s love.

Beberly de Leon embodies this love. She is a mother to her two-year-old son Tzen; her greatest and most precious joy.

From Panajachel in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, Beberly was beyond surprised to find out that she was soon to be a mother after being told that a series of health problems had left her sterile and unable to conceive. Tzen was to be born in a matter of months; the miracle she thought was impossible.

I named him Tzen Florian. Tzen comes from the Maya Mam word ‘nTzen,’ which means smiling one. Florian is derived from the Spanish word for flower and means pure beauty and magic that brings joy to everybody… This is exactly what Tzen means to me,” shared Beberly.

Beberly, who has undocumented Indigenous heritage, has always had a strong relationship with the world around her. To the birds and the trees, to the food we produce and feed our bodies, to the happiness of her people near and far.

To the health and wellbeing of Mother Earth.

She is an activist for justice and a talented creative, who is deeply passionate about art, photography and dance. She has recently discovered Nritya yoga, otherwise known as ‘yoga of dance,’ and has combined elements of theatre with the practice to unite people and encourage expression. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A first for Tunisia

Tomorrow means big change for Tunisia.

For the first time in history, Tunisian citizens will choose the head of their state in a free, democratic and transparent presidential election. This entitled right comes after several hundred years of great political and regional instability. The Tunisian Revolution of 2011 saw men, women and children take to the streets in protest and civil resistance when the long time dictatorship led by president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted to make way for the democratic vote, which is now an enshrined right in the Tunisian Constitution of 2014.

Nesrine Triki, lecturer at the University of Tunis and member of the DOUSTOURNA Network, a non-government organization which advocates for human rights, participatory democracy and civic education, says: “We are proud of ourselves, especially when you see what is happening in the neighbor countries of the ‘Arab Spring’. There is civil war in Libya, a military coup in Egypt, political and security problems in Yemen and civil war and terrorism in Syria.”

Nesrine has been a member of the DOUSTOURNA Network since its creation following the revolution. Its members have played a crucial role in the drafting of the Tunisian Constitution and have since mobilised Tunisian support around the key issues facing this new type of transitional democracy. As people go to polling stations tomorrow, Nesrine has volunteered to administer the electoral processes at one such station to ensure citizen’s choices are protected. Several training sessions later and an anticipated two days of no sleep ahead to guarantee transparent and democratic processes, Nesrine shares the word on the street.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

How to connect with your muse

It's time to knuckle down and create that blog post, freelance article or the early drafts of that book. You have made the commitment - to others and to yourself - but the inspiration (and motivation) is just not there. The ideas are far and few between and time is slipping away.

This makes you feel anxious, and you know all too well from experience that your muse doesn’t dance hand-in-hand with apprehension. She’d rather move at her own pace, frolicking and twirling on an open ballroom all of her own.

This doesn’t change the fact that there is a deadline looming and white space where your story should be taking form (‘Should’ being used very loosely here).

So how do you connect with the muse when you need to most?

Firstly, it’s important to understand and accept that it’s normal.

It’s normal to be lost for ideas, frazzled and not sure where to go next. Wipe the shame and the judgement. The most prolific of writers experience times when the inspiration is at an all time low. That doesn’t stop them though. There are times when there is ease and flow, and others when whatever is happening in your life (or in your day for that matter), there just isn’t.

Some days the words and messages just arrive, delivered from your brain to your fingertips in a thoughtfully packaged parcel (why thank you!), and other times, there is nada. Zilch. Zippo. I’m the first to raise my hand to this experience.

Here are some tools to help awaken your silent muse, as shy as she may be.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to write to have an impact

A conversation, a divinely worded paragraph in a book you are reading or perhaps a random act of kindness you were fortunate to witness has you excited. The sparks are flying, ideas are flowing and you’re feeling inspired to write a blog post, an article or a story to share with your readers; something that they will find value in.

You start typing, a little manically at first, afraid that you might lose your train of thought. Words, intrigue and thought bubbles spill onto the page.

Ok, it’s a tad scattered but you’re getting it down, translating for the muse so to speak.

The words aren’t exactly the words you want to be using to describe this message, but hey, you can always go back and make those edits.

On the tip of your tongue is the expression you are after, but you can’t seem to find it. The line which would capture the essence with such poetic grace, your readers would be nodding in uniform agreement.

Vague descriptions sit in place of fine-tuned statements. It feels… hollow. Something is missing. It’s lacking power; the juice that gets people’s heads turning.

Then you pause.

You ask yourself: Does this even make sense to anyone else who is not in my head?

Then that imposter strides on in.

Who wants to read about this anyway? Is it even any good?

The momentum is lost. That initial high of inspiration has fizzled along with your idea. The copy joins the folder of countless unfinished drafts and random musings that sits on your laptop, and you’re left feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.

Can you relate? Sounding a little too familiar? If you are a writer (or have dabbled with the world of words), I’m sure you have ridden this creative curve more than a few times. I certainly have.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Hackney Pirates

Learning can be adventurous.

It can be mythical and magical and explorative. It can take you to lost islands, across forbidden borders and down deep to sunken treasures on the ocean’s sea floor.

In the traditional sense of the word, pirates have a reputation for robbery and piracy, acting outside of the jurisdiction of nations and governments. The Hackney Pirates in East London may not be law-breakers, but they are rebels.

They have instigated an ambush to inspire young people's imaginations (and grown-ups' for that matter!) in the name of creative learning.  

With an initial funding pool of just £500, Catriona Maclay, former secondary high school teacher, along with a team of other teachers and locals in the area, decided to run with an idea that had long occupied their thoughts.

"Like many teachers, I saw that some pupils needed more support than we were able to offer them during the school day. This is where we saw an opportunity to have a big impact using time and resources outside of the classroom," she explained.

“Some students, particularly during the transition years of 5,6 and 7, were under achieving and needed extra one-to-one attention, but with more than 500 students in my classes a week, resources and time were restricted.”

In 2010, Catriona left teaching and joined Ashoka, a global network of social entrepreneurs. While she aided men and women to birth projects, which challenged structures and systems by creatively offering another way, Catriona’s vision grew.

She researched and developed her idea. A project which helps students to learn and apply themselves with confidence outside of the classroom environment as young creative professionals, or as Catriona says, Young Pirates, with real world assignments.

These ‘Real world’ assignments include short plays published on t-shorts, a radio show about the day aliens came to town, a guide to Hackney uncovering the borough’s finest secrets, and a recipe book of the tasty treats in Dalston, to name but a few.

All imaginative endeavors, which un-tap local resources in fun and exciting ways.

Catriona remained connected to the young people she taught and listened to their needs. “ I knew the students needed consistent support and that Hackney had the potential wealth to back such a project.”