Imagine This. Christian and I were walking down the main street carrying a big red sign with Spanish words, in the middle of a protest against the Mexican Government. We were in a small town near the famous ruins of Palenque, in the Southern state of Chiapas, in Mexico. We had inadvertently ended up in this street protest when Christian had made friends with some locals and expressed his sympathy for their cause.

When asked if we would support them in their protest, we agreed naively. We did not realize that we would be given the biggest sign and as we turned the corner to start the protest on the main street, they would all pull Balaclavas over their faces, and we would be the only ones whose faces were recognizable.

I turned around to look behind us and noticed a big army tank slowly making it’s way toward us and said to Christian nervously,

‘If they start shooting at us, we drop the sign and run for cover ok?’

‘Ok!’ Christian replied in a strained voice, looking at me with wide eyes.

Thankfully we made it to the end of the street without incident or bullet wounds, gave our newfound so-called ‘friends’ back their sign and bid a hasty retreat.

Travelling with Christian was an adventure, to say the least, and landed me in some very compromising situations. But I couldn’t fault him for his genuine interest in people of different cultures and sympathy for the downtrodden, no matter how misguided.

I, like him, believe that we should not judge by appearances, status or sexual orientation. In fact we had met in the UK, when we were both volunteering for a charity that helped people who were HIV positive or suffering from AIDS.

Over time we became good friends and used to spend a lot of time together. As I was leaving the UK, Christian said that he was planning a trip to Central America. Never having been there, I was immediately interested and promised to meet him there. So I saved up when I got home and eventually flew from Singapore to Mexico City to meet him.

He arrived a few days before me so he said that he would pick me up from the airport. When I arrived at the gate, I saw him making his way toward me with two dozen red roses. Delighted, I threw my arms around him to greet him, at which point he whispered in my ears,

’By the way, we are married.’

‘What?’ I replied, not really believing what I was hearing

‘We are married.’ He said again, this time looking sheepish.

He went on to explain that back at the hotel, he had asked to be put through to the UK at the phone at reception so that he could call his boyfriend, Brett- these were the days before Facebook, text messaging, not even emails were common. The hotel staff had eavesdropped on his conversation with Brett, and when he put the phone down, they asked him if that was his wife that he was speaking to. (They had both said ‘I love you’ at the end of the call and Brett, had a very high voice that could have been mistaken for a woman’s). Christian, remembering that he was in a Catholic country, immediately said,


Then realizing that I was about to turn up in a few days, he continued on to say,

‘She’s coming here!’

At which point they told him that surely he would want to move from his twin room to a double room. They also suggested that the hotel driver, Diego, drive him to pick me up from the airport and on the way, stop at the flower market to buy me some roses. He went along with it all, not knowing how to refuse.

When we got back to the hotel, we managed to find a way to co-exist and preserve our appearance as a married couple until we left Mexico City to travel south. All because he was afraid that he would be judged for being gay.

It was sad to me that he felt that he was unable to be himself in Mexico City. After all, there is increasing evidence that sexuality is in-born. I personally think that the world needs more gay men. We are so over-populated that it could help to address some of our population issues. With more gay men, we would all be better dressed and come on and who doesn’t love rainbows?

But seriously, I don’t understand why people judge others by appearances. I would rather find out more about the people I meet, like where they come from, what their live are about, where they want to go to and what their dreams or visions of their future are?

After all, if we do not have a dream or vision of a future how can we achieve it? I have a dream of a world of tolerance and acceptance of each other, regardless of race, culture or religious beliefs, sexual orientation. Christian shares that dream with me. You may say that we are dreamers, but I have a feeling that we are not the only ones. I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one. Imagine That.

My Friend Alice

My friend Alice was a lot of fun

She was outrageous, obnoxious and offensive

She had an awkward gait, and strutted around in a shabby second-hand leather jacket

She had dark tousled brown curls, large soulfull cornflower blue eyes and an impish smile


My friend Alice was the daughter of a lord

When she was 9 she met JFK

She was engaged to a legendary blues musician

She was in the original production of Tribal Love Rock musical Hair on Broadway


My friend Alice lost her mother to car crash when she was 15

When she was 22, she found her brother dead in his apartment from gunshot wounds, an apparent suicide,

When she was 33, she lost her father to a car crash

When I met her, she was an alcoholic


My friend Alice was spent many years going in and out of rehab

We met at a time in our lives when we were lost and searching for something more to life

We connected.

One day I received a phone call from the local hospital


My friend Alice had been beaten up by a group of drunks on the street.

I braced myself to see her in hospital with another friend Ant

She looked up at us from her hospital bed, smiling her impish smile

But this time her face swollen, with 2 black eyes and her body bruised and battered


My friend Alice made jokes while we visited her in hospital

I put on a brave face

But inside I felt afraid for her

A few weeks later I received another call


My friend Alice had been found dead in a bedsit in Bournemouth a few days before she turned 43

The next time I saw Alice was at her funeral

I travelled to the border of England and Wales to attend her funeral, which was held in a chapel near her family home

It was a sobering experience


My friend Alice came from privilege but ended up in poverty, practically homeless

She was so lost she didn’t even know how lost she was

She taught me that no matter how privileged, exciting, and impressive your life, this does not guarantee you happiness or meaning

Her legacy to me was not to judge another person by their appearance because until you have walked a mile in another person’s shoes, you do not know what their life is about


My friend Alice is at peace now, in a much better place. I believe.

She was humble, kind and funny,

And although her end was tragic, she touched many people with her capacity for life, laughter and love.

And I’ll always remember her awkward gait, shabby second hand leather jacket, impish smile and large soulfull cornflower blue eyes.

The Simple Key To Feeling Emotionally Centred

I remember my first experience of group therapy at the age of 20. We all had to say how we felt at the start of the session, and I would pick a feeling because I honestly didn’t know what I felt. One day I picked ‘happy’, just randomly for a change. One of the women in the group asked me why I was happy and I became tongue-tied and didn’t know what to say to her. I felt like I had been caught out in a lie. I couldn’t honestly tell what I was feeling at the time and how to discern if I was happy, angry or sad. I just felt confused, numb and frustrated mostly.

What I know now is that I didn’t know what I was feeling, because I was a master at emotional disassociation. That was the way that I had learnt to deal with my emotional discomfort. To escape my feelings, I just disassociated from them and acted out in compulsive ways. I have come to realise that this is the way that many people learn to cope with emotions. Often when our emotions become intense, we react by trying even harder to deny them, medicate them or force them out of our conscious awareness. It is at these times that it is most important to get in touch with what you are feeling as there is something important that you need to address in your life.

One of the easiest ways to become emotionally cognizant is to be grounded in your body. Karla Mclaren, in her book ‘The Language of Emotions’, says that the body has no choice but to be present so it is an effective way to access your current emotional state. Simply bringing your attention back to your body will allow you to create the condition for your emotions to surface. This is especially useful if you are not sure what you are feeling. Gradually over time, your emotions will start to surface if you continue to be present and grounded in your body.

Coming back to my body took many years of sustained intentional self-work. I practised yoga and studied dance. I changed my diet so I was not stuffing myself with junk foods and started to eat wholesome, natural foods in smaller quantities. I lost weight. I received body work. I gave body work. I trained as a Zen Shiatsu therapist. All the time, I worked to be present in my body and the discomfort that it brought. I cried many tears. I raged. I laughed much. I felt clumsy emotionally. Eventually though, I began to know what I was feeling at any given moment and why I was feeling it. My emotions no longer eluded or overwhelmed me.

I had to be very honest about my emotions in order to understand them. I continue to work at it every day, and this keeps me emotionally centred. I know that it’s not about resisting, suppressing or ‘rising above’ an emotion, as this is only a short-term superficial solution. I know that my emotions are there to help, and only by acknowledging them, will I find my way back to feeling calm and centred.

I was lucky that I was led to people that were able to help me become grounded though I believe that this was also the result of my sincere desire to do so and perseverance over the years. Many people get lost in a sea of medication or the dependency that therapies can bring. I am not saying that medication or therapy is wrong, in some cases it is the best and only option. Certain healing approaches however encourage dependency and disassociation as they do not bring you back to your body or empower you to accept and embrace the gift that your emotions really are.

Facing my emotions was my saving grace. Even though at times I thought that I would get swallowed up by them and they brought me to places of despair and great confusion. Walking through those times, painful as they were, and allowing myself to feel what I was feeling, eventually brought me great emotional clarity. I did not walk them alone though and my greatest healing came from asking for support and the guidance of those that had walked this path before me.

You may also need support or guidance as only someone who has found their own emotional centre can show you the path to do the same. You may need courage, as the messages from your emotions may be telling you that you need to face things in your life that you are afraid or feel unable to face. They may be things about yourself, your relationships or circumstances in your life that are not working for you and your deepest self wants you to change.

Integrating your emotions are a key aspect to a fully expressed life. It is by acknowledging what we feel and then trying to understand what that emotion is telling us, that we can truly be alive. Our emotions never lie and they are always there to help us, even if we don’t know why at the time. If you can be brave, ask for help and persevere, you are sure to learn the language of your emotions and know they are only trying to bring you to wholeness, clarity and authenticity.