Magic and the secret garden

Some of you may recall that I “won” the Euro Millions recently, a nice little amount of 15 million euros and that I spent it in a flash – this all happened in my head in a 30 minute drive from Palma to school pick up!  I bought a load of property, gifted it around, including my favourite building of all time which I turned into the Binissalem Peace Centre!  I also bought my lovely eco café people Javi and Elena a building and also my son’s eco school a building, amongst other things!

Today, I discovered that the building I had ear-marked for the Peace Centre is the new location for my son’s school! I am sitting writing this with the biggest smile on my face as I enjoy the wonder of magic and knowing that believing is seeing and even if I do see it slightly differently, it all works out!!  I shall have to relocate my Peace Centre but what a result with the win!

Just before I heard the news, I had parked my car and seen a sign saying “Euromillones – 63 millones” and what do you think I did!  I went and “won” it again!

I spent it in the 12 minutes it takes to drive from the school back home and you’ll be happy to know that the following got 10 million each – Mallorca based not for profits PermaMed, Ondine and Fundación Sa Llavor and London based Communities Empowerment Network.  They will be able to carry on doing what they do so brilliantly already and this money will help them take the pressure off, to get really stuck in and take what they already do so selflessly to a new level.  From promoting permaculture to a wider audience, to keeping our seas and oceans clean and also devloping new ways of holistically educating and caring for our next generations.

I also put aside 5 million to create old people communities including making sure that there is a healthy support for the dying and a million of that was donated to the awesome people at Capsula Mundi to help with their development of the burial pod.

Eight million euros was used island wide for culture and the arts and lots of projects, existing and new, got lucky by being gifted money to help promote culture and the arts.  First born is well happy with the new studio and jazz appreciation school!

I’ve got 10 million left over but I want to go abroad and go back to my roots, Jamaica and Wales, and see what I can do there with the money.  Watch this space.

I’m happy and content – 63 million euros well spent!

Dying to get there

dime

I returned as a volunteer recently to the Mallorcan association, Dime Cuenta Con Nosotros, a group of dedicated volunteers who visit the two palliative care units on the island.  It has been some years since I have spent Tuesday mornings visiting patients and their families, but I am happy to be back for a number of reasons.

Death is a topic I am curious about, a curiosity that has been there for some time, years in fact.  I don’t know where this curiosity came from, but the subject of death has always been a healthy and matter of fact topic present in the background of my life.  My earliest memories of death was attending the funeral of my beloved nain, my father’s mother, up in North Wales on a windy day.  My younger sister and I spent the time of the graveside ceremony running amok through gravestones and having a rather fun time.

Some years later when I was about 13 years old, my mother picked up the newspaper one day and asked if I knew a girl named Sue.  The headlines explained how her father had shot her whilst she slept and then shot himself, apparently desperate with financial troubles.  My mother broke the news in a very natural way, and I remember that whilst I cried from shock, part of me felt that I didn’t have to cry.  Certainly my mother treated the subject naturally even though the setting was horrifying.

As I headed to my twenties, grandparents died at home, suddenly, not ill but just time for them to go.  Death was celebrated as a life well lived and a death well had, I was blessed, very blessed to have these experiences.  Not everyone is so lucky and death is a subject that brings with it fears, confusion, mystery and for perhaps a few a certain understanding.

Returning to Dime is an honour for me.  There I meet professionals working in the health sector, dealing with death in a dignified and respectful manner.  From the nurses to the doctors, from the psychologists and social workers and to the volunteers, all are learning from their experiences and learning all the time.  Training is given on a regular basis to the volunteers and Dime is fortunate to receive the support of some amazing individuals on this island.  Thanks to charities like Cala Nova Cancer Care Charity Shop, their fund raising and generous donations allow Dime to do what they do which is sending volunteers like me in to visit the many patients facing perhaps one of their biggest challenges ever.

What do I do?  I enter a patient’s room and politely ask if they would like a visit.  In a hospice setting this adds to the quality of care received by the patient.  Why?  We provide support to those inspiring individuals who work in the day-to-day care and treatment of those with cancer and perhaps other life changing illnesses.  We are incognito, we come and we go.  We listen and hold hands and if we need to, we can cry with a family member.  We can try to take them away from their own day-to-day, just for a moment.  Or perhaps we’ll be blessed to help them face what’s ahead.  We can hear what is not said if we are silent, and we can give and spread love for a while, as much as we can.

It is an honour to be part of the team at Dime and it is a privilege to spend time with people facing challenges I cannot imagine.  I can’t change the world, but I can change my attitude about life and perhaps I can, just for a moment, provide a listening ear to someone.

 

Dime Cuenta Con Nosotros relies on donations and are always grateful for support.  If you would like to be a volunteer and have languages, Spanish necessary, then please contact them directly – http://www.cuentaconnosotros.es

Fun-d raising!

fundraising; CEN; London; cycling; Prudential London 100

Brother Deuan

My brother Deuan is an awesome man, he is 56 years old and the oldest teenager I know!  Why a teen?  He has an incredible energy that is exhuberance personified and coupled with his spontaneity about everything happening around him, he is never still for long.

My brother Deuan is someone I admire very much.  He has many talents and he is someone that people love to meet and know, so great is his energy that he uplifts wherever he goes.  He also walks his talk and when he puts his mind to do something, he always follows through.

My brother Deuan works in the charitable sector in England in the world of education.  The organisation our father Gerry German started over a decade ago is Communities Empowerment Network and Deuan is Strategic Director there, responsible for fund raising amongst other things.  Communities Empowerment Network or CEN as it is also known provide “Free Independent Expert Advice, Support, and Representation to parents and to carers of children who are at risk of exclusion or have been excluded”. They also provide excellent training in dealing with exclusion for both the community and professional organisations.

CEN do the work they do by relying on donations and funding and so on the 2nd August my brother Deuan will be cycling the Prudential London Surrey 100 to raise much needed funds for this organisation.

At times it can be useful to think beyond our own lives and families and commit ourselves to being part of the global family.  We are the village raising our children and some of those children here in the United Kingdom, excluded or expelled from schools need our help.  CEN is the organisation with an incredible wealth of knowledge, who are committed to supporting and providing information to the more than 1000 children and young people who come to them every year in a moment of crisis.  Most cases should not have come to the desks of CEN but as we live in a world of reaction and intolerance coupled with confusion and fear with a system that doesn’t always benefit a child who might be different, the cases continue to pile up.

Your child might have been lucky in a number of ways with the school you chose for them and that is great news.  I am so happy with the choices I made for my sons and my second born enjoys an alternative education in an eco school in Mallorca.  However, all of the children today are tomorrow’s adults and our companions, colleagues and collaborators of the future.  Where one is failed, we all have failed.

If you are interested in knowing more about CEN and what they do, please visit their website and contact my brother Deuan there – volunteers always welcome and any professionals wishing to offer pro bono work too (lawyers, educators, social media, marketing, fund raisers, event planners etc).  If you can donate to this particular race then please visit the Just Giving webpage to do so.  If you wish to tithe a part of your salary or income in a more sustainable way, then CEN would love to hear from you.

In memory of our father Gerry German, a man who had many children – 5 were biological and hundreds of thousands were his soul children – “believing is seeing” and he saw the very best of each and every one of us!

 

Communties Empowerment Network            http://www.cenlive.org/

To donate, London Surrey 100                        https://www.justgiving.com/Deuan-German4/

School trip

Serra de Tramuntana, world heritage, sa llavor eco school, sa llavor foundation, mallorca, spain

World Heritage – La Serra de Tramuntana

I dropped second born off yesterday for his end of year school trip!  Whilst lots of kids in Mallorca have been nipping over to the mainland to stay in hotels and enjoy adventure parks, the kids at his school are on an adventure of another sort!

As you may know, second born goes to an independent, alternative school called Sa Llavor.  It’s an eco-school which means that they base their education on the main principals of sustainability within an holistic educational setting, integrating nature and character amongst other fine practises.

Yesterday should have started for him first thing with departure from school up to the UNESCO recognised World Heritage Site of the Serra mountain range of the north west of Mallorca.  Unfortunately he woke up at 6am with stomach ache which turned into vomitting quickly!  Nerves were beginning, after all 4 days without wi-fi was a daunting thought!  He asked for rescue remedy but as first born had needed it for a performance the previous week, I didn’t have any to hand!

I sent him back to sleep knowing he would feel fine later and knowing that he would go on this once-a-year adventure that the school organises for the last year primary kids and the older secondary children.  I was already down for the car pool later in the afternoon to pick up from the excursion and take them back to the hostal so I knew he would be joining them, come hell or high water!

We set off in a hurry when we suddenly got a call bringing the time forward as the rain had been torrential up there and everyone was soaked.  Off we went in a caravan of cars, dad in the van at the end of it.  We arrived with the sun coming back out and a cheer from the kids and two adults when they saw that second born was there.  Happy faces, albeit soaked bodies, were taken up to the refuge that was to be their home for the first and second nights and wow, what luxury!  If you are going to stay there with a school apparently you don’t pay!

At this point the five lucky parents who got to be part of the end of the first day were pointedly shown the door and there we left them!  Their itinerary looks wonderful, we were sorry to leave!  They’ll take in two more days of Puig de Tomir, Sa Calobra and Torrent de Pareis and on the third day take the boat to the port of Soller to stay their last night in another refuge.  The last day they’ll catch trams and trains home and I’m sure that second born will be more than happy to kick off his walking boots and share his stories of this special school trip with us!

Sa Llavor eco school                 http://www.sallavor.es

Serra mountain range              www.serradetramuntana.net

Walking & refuges                    www.conselldemallorca.net

 

5 Rhythms revisited

 

Jessica Howie; 5 rhythms; Mallorca; Wild Honey Oxford; workshops

Jess

You may remember that I translated a 5 Rhythms workshop last autumn with the very fabulous Jessica Howie.  Well this past weekend, she was back in Mallorca and I once again was her translator of choice for the weekend 5 Rhythms workshop so beautifully organised by Tracy Courtney-Wills.

Twenty people, mainly women, gathered together to dance and move their way through the 5 rhythms and I was able to witness and partake at times in this most liberating of experiences.  My arrival on Saturday was a little bit hairy as I had had to bake two cakes first thing and I was a bit stressed getting to the venue.  No problem as it seemed that most of us there were bringing “stuff” to the session and Jessica quietly suggested that we just let it be and let it go.  I found the first hour or so challenging, in that the little voices in my head were telling me what a rubbish translator I was.  It’s not easy for me knowing that over half the room of English speakers have an excellent level of Spanish.  I felt invisible eyes on the back of me for a long while but then remembered comments from the last workshop from the Spanish participants who complimented me on my translating as they got exactly what they needed!  So from then on I enjoyed myself catering to their needs.

Jess and I have an amazing connection and this was proved at the last workshop and confirmed again this weekend.  She and I work well together and I really enjoy being by her side and being part of this incredible journey.  She manages to create a space for everyone to just be themselves and she allows absolutely everything to be what it is, just right.  As this is only my second 5 rhythms experience and along with the fact that I have not really participated due to having to translate, there was a moment when I truly got lost in movement.  Luckily Jessica noticed and catered for that by being aware that no words were needed just then.  As I came back to earth I noticed my hands as if for the very first time and wow, they were amazing!  Opening my eyes and looking through the window was like seeing the world for the first time.  The freedom to be myself in the 5 rhythms was truly liberating and I can’t wait to participate properly next time.

Jessica’s music is also excellent and the choices for us to move and dance to are truly an exciting mix.  The five rhythms are flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness so you can imagine what a mixture of music is presented.

Sadly on Monday I had the opposite of what I had experienced throughout the weekend and that was a massive downer!  I moped around most of the day, unable to get a handle on myself.  I had to force myself to go to improvisation in the evening and how glad I am that I went as that brought my spirit back to life!  A funny thing happened to me on Tuesday though and that was when I popped into the gas station.  Whilst waiting my turn in the queue, the radio was on and without prompting I began to move and sway to the music.  I realised that on Monday I hadn’t listened to any music and my body automatically went into rhythm whilst standing behind a gentleman who tried not to look at me as I began to move my arms and body in time to the beat.

5 rhythms is a must, for everybody and anybody!  I am going back for more so hurry back Jessica Howie, this woman needs you!

 

Visit Jessica’s web page                                                                        http://www.jessica5rhythms.com/

Improv …. improve

comedy; stand up comedy; mallorca; glynis german; laughter

Born to perform!

Improvisation!  What a life saver!  I am so happy I signed up for classes with Estudio Gori Artieda last autumn as I have been learning and loving them.  And in Spanish too!

Last Sunday we had a show at Teatre Lloseta with the four courses that are held at this theatre school.  Not everyone participated, some couldn’t and some wouldn’t but when teacher Gori informed us in January that we would have a show on 8th March, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  As there were 28 students participating, I was dealt two improvisations – one with sentences in a box and the other called “zapping”.

My mantra in the weeks leading up to the show was “I love being on stage” and my face never tired of smiling when I saw myself there.  Impro has helped with my radio show too and I become more confident every time I go in the studio.

After every Monday evening class, sleep was hard to come by as I was buzzing with ideas.  The classes have helped me become more observant as now when I am out and about, I am taking in the moment and looking around rather than rushing through with my eyes closed.  Walking the dog has become a performance and people must wonder what on earth I am doing when I am waving my arms around pretending to be a tree or an animal!

The icing on the cake of this is that I have made a new group of friends.  We went out for dinner last week and I am getting to know some awesome women.  I want to start an improv group and I have a feeling I shall be having lots of fun with them in the months, years to come!  We are all types and all ages and are doing improvisation for different reasons and each and every one of us is meant to be there.

I feel I have climbed a mountain this past autumn and winter.  I was so scared and nervous of trying this “something new” but I pushed myself.  I am pushing myself every class by being the first on my feet to try something new.  I am not sitting down anymore, this is my time, it is never too late and this time it feels right.  I studied drama as part of my Bachelor in Arts degree all those years ago.  I would hide at the back of the theatre.  I got my degree but I never had the confidence to do any theatre, until now.

I was meant to be on the stage!  I am still not sure how or what or when or where but that doesn’t matter anymore.  I have a radio show I am proud of, I have my improv classes which are taking me some place I don’t yet know where.  I have my words on paper which help ground me and release me at the same time.

Sunday was a night to remember!  I was a cockerel, an almond tree, amongst other things!  I was a student, a colleague, a performer and an artist and I couldn’t ask for it to be any other way.   My friend Cati suggested I am still too much in control and she’s right!  Here’s to the next lesson and that is to lose myself in the drama, once and for all!

For drama classes in Spanish                     Facebook: Buffons Teatre

Je suis Ms. Nadia Lopez

Mott Hall Bridges Academy; Brownsville; HONY; Humans of New York; Brandon Stanton; education; scholorships; fund raising; inspiration; values

Principal Nadia Lopez, Mott Hall Bridges Academy (Photo Brandon Stanton)

Last week I was inspired by this woman!  Along with thousands of people around the world, I took note of her thanks to Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York blog.  If you have never heard of this blog, check it out now!  Brandon Stanton is living proof that we all have a purpose and he has found his purpose which is to allow people to be seen, heard, listened to and believed in!  It all started with him randomly stopping a young man, Vidal, last week and asking if he could take his picture.  What makes Brandon Stanton special is that he asks some quite meaningful questions to the subjects of his pictures and this day was no exception.  Vidal told the HONY world that his principal, Ms Nadia Lopez valued him, she has told him he matters.  Not only him but all the scholars at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville New York.

I want to be like Principal Nadia Lopez!  I want to be a woman who influences others, who believes in others, who guides others.  This is where I want my life energy directed, to positively influence those around me.  I believe I am Ms Lopez, we all are, no matter how small our contribution to our world, we all matter!

I know another Ms Lopez, another influential being who believed everyone mattered and he was called Gerry German.  He was an educator too and he was a man who influenced the thousands of children who had the good fortune to cross his path.  He taught in Jamaica, England, North Wales and Nigeria.  He was one of the founder members of STOPP (Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment) in the late 60s. He was Chief Education Officer at the Commission for Racial Equality back in the 80s.  He was involved with the Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources in the 90s after his retirement as an activist.  His proudest moment was founding the Communities Empowerment Network, CEN, in 1999 an advocacy and campaigning service, working for equality and justice in education particularly with African Caribbean parents whose children had been permanently excluded from mainstream education.  He was a daring and innovative man, a concientious objector, he was also my father.

I am blessed to have been his daughter, I had the good fortune to be born to him and my mother Patricia, two hugely influential people, two incredible beings who have loved and guided me at every step of the way.  I attended one of the schools where Gerry was the head, or principal as you say in America.  I saw the love the school kids had for him, never more strongly demonstrated than when he was sacked from the Mold Alun as being too “much” for the establishment!  I was stopped by school bullies and told to pull up my socks and make my dad proud of me because they were proud to consider themselves his children.  I picked up the phone many a time whilst living with mum and dad or visiting them and many an ex student would ring to share their good news – graduating from school or university or just wanting to share what a huge influence Gerry had had on their lives.

Gerry passed away in May 2012 at the ripe old age of 84.  He passed in the night after having spent the day before at the office in Brixton where he met with a young man, recently excluded from school.  That day, my father had brought the first smile to this young man since he had taken on his case.  My father believed in him and that day proved to the young man that he mattered.  He went to bed that night satisfied with another good day, expecting to get up the next day to go back to work.  He left a legacy, he left behind an organisation that is relentless in providing justice and equality for all in education in Britain.  He left a team committed to this ideal, working together and now guided by my brother Deuan and joined by advocates, volunteers, trustees and many, many children needing their services.  He left his mark.

Ms Lopez is the same.  She believes in her kids.  She knows that everyone of them matters and she has high expectations of them.  She leads her team like my father led his team by being the example.  She is a woman with her heart in education, she is the teacher, the real meaning of the teacher.  I salute Ms Lopez and I say “Je suis Principal Nadia Lopez” – je suis in the sense of improving the lives of all, not trashing the lives of any!

Mott Hall Bridges Academy has now had over 700,000 dollars raised in less than a week and these funds will be used to form the Vidal Scholarship Fund, named after this young man who one day was stopped in the streets of his neighbourhood and asked by a stranger if he could have his photograph taken.  Brandon Stanton, Nadia Lopez, Gerry German – these are people who are proof that when we find our purpose in life, we are where we are meant to be.

We all matter, let’s never forget that!

 

 

CEN (Please consider donating)                        http://www.cenlive.org/

Humans of New York                                           http://www.humansofnewyork.com/

Mott Hall Bridges Academy                                http://www.mhbabrooklyn.com/

To donate to Mott Hall Bridges Academy        http://bit.ly/1JmIB8u

Bigging it up for learning!

adult learning; teaching; education; blogging; writing

When we get home from school!

I have had the most fun weekend in a long time, I did two workshops – one I devised and facilitated and the other I attended.  Both were fun and today I feel fired up and ready to go!  Some of my friends spent the weekend doing some learning too.  At second born’s eco-school Sa Llavor they brought in leading UK Waldorf science educator Graham Kennish for the weekend to host a conference on “Towards a Holistic Science”.  It was well attended and enjoyed by many.  Bumping into one of the parents this morning at school drop off, it was wonderful to see how much she enjoyed it.  “I felt 13 years old again and would readily have gone back to school for more” enthused Petra about the weekend.

So what is it about learning as an adult that is different to learning when we are children?  Firstly, we enjoy learning about something we want to learn, not something that we are being told to learn.  We are independent and self-directing; we are problem solving and therefore discussions make up for a large part of our learning and as importantly, our learning has relevance on our lives and we want to apply it there!

That is what I wanted out of my weekend of further education and so Saturday’s workshop was on “Setting Intentions for a Life Changing 2015 and Beyond”.  Although I was the facilitator, I was also learning and this was enjoyed on many levels.  I managed to set some intentions in different areas of my life – career, health, wealth and creativity and I managed to gain valuable experience leading the workshop.  All in all, it was very enjoyable and I hope the participants thought so too!  Of course the setting where we held the workshop was the tranquil Binissalem Peace Centre and that was a plus.

On Sunday, I enjoyed the day with four other women and our teacher – the blogging and social media queen, Vicki Mcleod of Phoenix Media Mallorca!  It was a recap day to go over any areas we needed help with on blogging and it was the perfect day in so many ways!  Firstly, Vicki wears her crown with confidence and enthusiasm.  She loves what she does and this passion and energy was felt by all.  She is a willing teacher, and by willing I mean that she wants us to learn, she wants us to blog, she wants us to be successful and she will go the extra mile for us.

In just a day, I came out of the class with so much useful knowledge, a wealth of tips as well as enthusiasm that is now being put to good use.  I also met two other women I didn’t know and I caught up with Kay from the Universal Booksh0p who is always so kind and fun to be with.  I met Andreea from Signature Estates and was impressed by her determination to learn.  She is a busy working mother running her own company with her husband and yet she was there on a Sunday looking to brush up her skills and I was impressed that she even had time to bring delicious cup cakes – naughty!  Then there was Julie, the Anglican vicar’s wife and a woman in her own right.  Julie is from an educational background and we enjoyed a long talk on schools and education in general.  It was a pleasure to meet a teacher with such a respect and care for her students, especially knowing that the age she prefers to teach is that of teenagers, not always the easiest group!

All in all, I really enjoyed this past weekend.  I feel I have learned a lot about myself in the process.  I enjoyed being a teacher and being with the teacher.  I appreciated curiosity, enthusiasm, problem solving, sharing, support and above all, I came home happy with my achievements!  The boys came home eventually and second born had been to the cinema with some of his school mates and without the parents – he is learning to be more responsible and grown up!  First born went to bed with the laptop to watch his teacher, youtube, and take in a lesson on jazz, adding to his skills as a musician.

Never stop learning, it keeps us healthy in mind, body and spirit and I for one, want that!

 

Blogging & social media learning with Vicki Mcleod                               http://www.phoenixmediamallorca.com

Sa Llavor – independent, autonomous school integrating sustainable ethical principles in action and experience of sustainability as an integral education.                                                       http://www.sallavor.es