Saturday, January 31, 2015

Week Five 2015 – You are only as old as you feel!

You are only as old as you feel!

Can you believe we are on week five of 2015? And how time flies when you are having fun… and I don’t look a day older!

This week I’m going to talk about age and the subject of how old you feel and look. It is a subject I think we are all affected by and an important part of our lives. The well-known classic fairy tale of Peter Pan is perhaps the best story ever told about how a human should live his life. The whole plot can be summarised as follow:

The story of a man who knew how to live his life - by staying young! He was able to do grown up things that he liked (fighting with swords and staying up late) but be childish at the same time. He was fit and in shape by running, climbing, laughing and a bit of flying. The moment he saw he would grow old by doing other grown up things he didn’t like (marrying Wendy and getting a job to pay the car, having kids, a mortgage and a dog and be miserable eating too much food and drinking to drown his sorrows) he ran away and remained youthful for the rest of his life.

Ok that’s a cynical view of the story but I think there’s some truth in my version of the plot. Think about it; how old do you feel? And does that reflect on your appearance? How about your attitude and the way you behave? More often than not, the way we feel affects the way we look and therefore if you feel 100 years old you will look 100 more! When I was a child I grew up believing that 60 years old was very old! I guess my grandmother’s generation had a harder life and by the time they hit their 60s they were already looking tired and feeling very old. And this image of someone being old at the age of 60 has always hunted me, even though I see now plenty of evidence that when you reach that stage of your life you are still very young. With the right attitude, staying fit and looking after yourself, you can look even younger.

Amazing Joan Collins!
Emmanuel looking great!
This week I watched in the news some of the Red Carpet events (it’s awards season!) and they featured Joan Collins in an amazing black sequence dress with a leg slit all the way to her hips. In the clip she looked an amazing mature woman and when the presenter mentioned she was 82 years old I nearly fell off my chair! Has she had some help from the knife? For sure but even with a little help from her surgeon, her health, her attitude and conviction that she is still a beautiful young woman is what made her look like in her 60’s! I also found out this week that the Mexican Pop Idol “Emmanuel” is just about to turn 60 and this also astonished me, same story, he looks amazing and you would never thing he was more than 50. His looks, attitude and thirst for staying current make him look not just young but contemporary.

And I myself was the subject of looking young this week. Two people mention I did not look my age (I’m turning 48 this year and both said I looked 40) Apart form being a massive complement it also made me think about how I feel; I don’t feel 48, I feel 30 and this is driving my physical appearance to be much younger. I have always felt young, I’m a bit of a Peter Pan, I enjoy being a grown up as well as a youth. The difference is I have taken on all the responsibilities that perhaps Peter Pan ran away from (the marriage, kids, car, mortgage, job) as they complement my life and create a balance. It’s good to feel young and do crazy things, but you also need that stability and maturity in your life, that doesn’t mean I have to look or feel old!

There is no denying that loosing weigh has also contributed to shaving off some years, Peter Pan kept fit all the time, and staying fit has given me an extra burst of energy associated with being young. And staying healthy then drives your mental attitude; to feel young you must also stay mentally young and you will look young. Then you start to dress young. My wife often has to drive me away from the teenage section in the department stores, as I keep on looking at cloths that my son wears (him and I are almost the same height and I started to borrow some of his stuff, how embarrassing! For him of course!) Hey, if you can wear it and look good in it, then why not!

I don’t think you have to pretend to be a teenager to feel young, or suddenly loose all sense of responsibility and give up all your achievements and accomplishments to be young again. I think the secret to feeling young is to believe you are still young. Age is an attitude and what you make it. You can be 100 years old, if you keep mentally and physically fit, you can continue to enjoy life to the max and not become a stereotypical person of your age. At 47, with a family and a mortgage, I do have to act responsibly, people relay on me, but that does not stop me from keeping a young heart and healthy mind and body and an attitude that allows me to look much younger than I really am.

So it’s time to shave off some years, look at your attitude and not your age. Keep healthy and start believing that you can do anything you want, your age is just a number on your birth certificate!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week Four 2015 – living in fear!

This week I have completed my third week back at work and with it 11 flights! And it’s only January… 

The safest mode of transport!
As many of you would know, part of my job is travelling. I spend a lot of my time on airplanes and on average I have boarded 120 flights every year. That is a lot of flights and many hours in the air. It is also known that flying is the safest mode of transport, in other words you are more likely to be involved in a car incident than to die on an airplane crash.  I guess this is true if you, like many people, take only two to four flights a year for your annual vacation or business trips. But when you are on a plane on average four times a week, I guess the odds are higher!

However, I’m a great believer that if it is your time to go, it’s your time to go and it doesn’t matter how many flights you take, it only takes one to take your life away. So even though the odds increase by taking 120 flights, you could be a person who never travels, gets on a plane and this is the flight where something goes wrong. It’s a bit like the lottery, it doesn’t matter how many tickets you buy, you will win with just one, but of course your odds increase slightly by buying more than one! So when I get on a plane I don’t thinking if this is the one which may come down (thought I do buy a lottery ticket thinking this will be the one! J) otherwise I would never flight anywhere and would not be able to do my job, meet great people and be privileged to have seen some amazing places!

We should never live our lives in fear of what may happen; otherwise we will never get anything done, visit anywhere or accomplish anything! I have been thinking about this all week as I discussed various similar topics with people. I am an absolute fan of KFC and I enjoy eating it in different countries I visit. Talking to a group of people this week, one person mentioned how they would never eat it. When I asked why they said they had heard a story about someone who once found a rat instead of chicken and so she was taking no chances! I’m sure you all know this famous story which happened some years ago, a cooked rat served as a piece of chicken with fires! Now, if the person tells me they don’t eat it because they are vegetarian or find it too unhealthy, and then I understand. But not to eat it just in case another rat gets jumps into the fryer seems to me a little bit like not getting on a plane because you’ve seen a crash! I think there are some very good respectable KFCs and in all my years of eating it I’ve not yet had a rat! You can’t live your life in fear that it may happen to you as it stops you form doing things….

This is why we don’t give into terrorism, that is their objective, and we must not live our lives in fear. After September the 11th people continued to get on a plane; the attacks this month on the Charlie Hebdo magazine were done to spread a message of fear, a warning that if you speak your mind, if you exercise your freedom of speech you could be killed. The magazine went ahead and published another controversial cartoon sending a message that you cannot let fear rule the world.

If there are bombings in a city people stop travelling for fear of their lives, if there are riots in a town people stop going out for fear of what may happen, if you hear in the news the gloom outlook of the economy people stop spending for fear of what the future may be. And so on, if you get burgled you sleep with the light on, if you have an accident you stop driving, if you get mugged you stop going out, if we get rejected or someone breaks your hard, we stop loving, the list is endless with reasons why we should not do things, for fear to our lives, but we must never let this rule and stops us from doing what we want to do!

I know some times it’s easier said than done, but at the end of the day it is our choice and I respect that. However, I do encourage you to think about what it takes to say “you know what, I’m going to take the risk, the rewards a far better than the odds against it”

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Week three 2015 – Small achievements!

Many years ago my father told me that a modest but talented composer when asked how he felt about being number one he replied “I hate it”. Astonished by the answer the interviewer asked him why and he said “there are too many number one’s in the world”

What he was referring to was that for him was more important to be the best at what he does and not just number one. That idea has always lingered in my head and you see this play out every day in our lives. Often the winners of talent shows go on to become famous, for a while, and then vanish in the limelight. One Direction, whether you like them or not, have become a very successful boy band and they were not the winners of the X-Factor proving that this composer was right, there are too many number ones, but it’s the ones behind them you need to watch out for!

This week the results for the NYC Midnight Screenplay Challenge came out and I did not reach the top five to move onto the third round.  It is always disappointing when you don’t reach the next stage of a competition but I am happy to take away the experience, which I enjoyed and learned from it. And as I looked at the results, although I was not on the top five, I was pleased to see I had not come bottom of the league! In the voting system the judges gave points to 15 scripts (out of 28 competitors), from 1 to 15 (a bit like the Eurovision Song Competition) in the two rounds and the top five writers with the most cumulative points went through the third round. In the first set of voting I didn’t get any points but with my second script I was awarded two points, putting me second to last and one of 20 writers with points (there were some that had no points at all!) and this made me very happy!

I know you are sitting there reading this thinking “What?” but I am using the same principle as the one described by the composer my father told me about. In life you need to maintain a positive attitude when you are passionate about something, to keep you going and never give up! Yes I may have not been on the top five who went to the next round, but at least I had two points (I would have really hated not to have any) and I was not the last of the writers with points! Second to last is already one more than someone else and closer to the top! As they say there is always a silver line in every cloud!

And in life everything is about not just wanting to be number one, but to be the best at what you do. I also think it is a matter of opinion and taste when it comes to judging someone’s work. Whilst we all accept feedback and work with it to make us better, more often than not it is someone’s opinion and may not be share by many. Part of the process in this competition was to receive personalised feedback from one of the judges about your work, a very unique thing as often in this competitions they find it impossible to give everyone who enters personal feedback. I welcomed this as I love understanding where I can improve to make me a better writer. I may not always agree with everything, but someone’s opinion can only help you improve.

I wanted to share with you all this experience to get you all to think of the importance of always looking for that silver line in every cloud. I think we should all strive to be number one, of course, but at the same time to enjoy being number two, knowing that we are the best at what we do. And to accept valuable feedback even if it may not seem right, remember perception is reality and this is someone’s reality and others may share it. And whilst as a writer I know it is hard to appeal to every audience, I must strive to reach as many people as I can with my stories.

I will let you be the judge of that. This week I invite you as part of reading this blog to take a look at the two scripts I wrote. They are only 5 pages long (5 minutes of dialog) and two very contrasting stories. Keep in mind the challenge we had – to write a screenplay in 48 hours with three things in mind – the Gen, a place and an object. As you read these visualise them on the screen. I welcome any feedback you have, I would love to hear from some of you and compare your thoughts with that of the judges in the competition. I write these scripts for audiences and not for judges, so I am intrigued to see what some of you think.

Below the links to the two scripts, all you need is 10 minutes (five minutes each) and a glass of wine! Enjoy reading them and please let me have your thoughts.

(click on the title to read the script)

MidnightRunner – a horror story set in a Barn with a padlock as the object

TheView – a romance story set in an office with a cigar as the object

For other scripts and stories go to

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Week 2/2015 – Freedom of Speech #jesuischarlie

This week the headlines have been griped by the terrible attack on the Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris – an atrocity which, followed by a wave of other attacks, was done simply because of the human right to express yourself in a free society. I decided to write this week’s blog on this subject as I feel we all have the right to freedom of speech and no one should be punish for this.

As I writer I use words to express what I feel and see, what is in my head and in my heart. When I write, I always think twice about what I want to say or mention and the art of editing your work is very important to make sure you are happy with what you publish.  I have several times thought twice about publishing something, mainly because I think of the consequences and what it may lead onto, and if I don’t publish something is not because I am scared to, but because I don’t feel it’s important enough to do it and the adverse effects are greater than the rewards of the piece.

The events this week in Paris shows the consequences of what can happen when people exercise their human right of expressing their views, especially with a controversial publication such as Charlie Hebdo; you can upset people. But that basic right to freedom of speech in our societies should not be oppressed by anyone and there is no logical explanation for any individuals to take another’s persons lives for expressing what they think. The publishers, writers and cartoonist at the Charlie Hebdo Magazine believed in what they did; they believed that through their art and satire they were expressing the views and opinions of many, particularly those who subscribed to their publication. The barbarian act of terrorism that took place should not be allowed and we need to demonstrate to the world that people can still express themselves freely without fear of being intimidated or harmed by those who cannot accept criticism and opinions of others.

And if we bring this closer to our lives, we don’t need to be writers or cartoonist in a controversial publication to be the victims of oppression in our lives. We are all subject to people’s radical mentalities and when we attempt to express ourselves freely with an opposing view or argument, we may find holding back for fear of retaliation. Or if we do speak our minds, we may become the victims of an attack. Let me share with you some examples that may illustrate what I mean:

If you have a relationship with someone who has a particularly stronger character than yours it becomes harder to express your opinion or ideas without them pushing their views onto you or getting upset at the thought or suggestion of something they don’t agree with.  Or it may be the opposite, you are the dominant side and no one dares to say anything in front of you because you fly off the handle! Here we have killed freedom of speech; people are frightened to express what they think because of the way someone may react.

How often do we hold back our views and opinions in a conversation to avoid offending someone? Or we don’t hold back and then pay the consequences? I understand there is a place and a time for everything and there is no room for offensive remarks or racist/sexist comments, but there are so many controversial and taboo subjects we don’t talk about just because people can react wrongly, so we avoid them. If we genuinely have an opinion about something, we should have the right to express this opinion. People don’t have to like it or agree, but it is our opinion and we should be able to share it. And when we hold back on those views or opinions it may be because we feel it’s not worth it and we drop the subject. However if you feel passionate about something, you should be able to speak freely without fear of how someone may react.

I may not be the most controversial writer in the world and often my work is expressing feelings and ideas that don’t offend people. I sometimes write scripts that are thought provoking and blogs that may make you think, I try to be politically correct and aware of what I say. But no one, no matter how controversial it may be, should ever be stopped from expressing what he or she believes because someone feels they have the power to silence you. If someone disagrees with something someone said, or they feel they have offended them, as rational human beings we have the power that animals don’t have; “choice”! You have two choices, you can choose to ignore their views and move on or you can choose to talk to them and debate the subject allowing both of you to express yourselves in a civilised manner. Debate is not about reaching agreement; it’s about allowing people that basic right to be heard, the right to freedom of speech.

I want to live in a world where we can all have freedom, and not just physical freedom, but be free to think and express ourselves. If I were not allowed to put on paper my thoughts and feelings, my head would explode!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Week one 2015 - Where do you come from?

Welcome to the first blog of 2015, happy New Year and I hope you had a fantastic holiday season, whatever or wherever you’ve been. And if you were working and are on your way to celebrate, enjoy it!

Pantano Aguilar de Campoo - Spain
I’ve spent the last two weeks in Spain where my wife comes from, and some of my roots originate from. My mother was Spanish and came from a small town near to my wife’s hometown. Coincidence or destiny brought us together after my family had left Spain some 60 years before. We enjoy coming to Spain and it is always good to see the family. Coincidently, my sister is married to my wife’s brother and is now living in Spain, spooky!

I’m sure many of you are also returning form holidays in your home town with your family, I’ve seen pictures and messages in Facebook from airports all around the world, people boarding planes and saying goodbye to loved one, until next time when you come back to see them.

I want to start this year’s blog looking at an interesting concept my wife and I were discussing over a cup of coffee, which relates to my intro. Many people I know live and work in a country or city away from their original birthplace. Many of us moved away at an early age looking for adventure or something of the kind. Many of us never went back as we found our fortune and in many cases married someone and stay there. Years later we find ourselves living away from our family, and like us, you probably visit them once a year or whenever you can, always keeping in touch with your roots.

But when we come back “home” for those short holidays, we eat, drink and socialise too much disrupting our routine and can’t wait to go back “home”! Our real home where we have chosen to live and where we enjoy living; two very different homes, both just as important.

But the conflict comes as you often feel the need to go back home because although we cannot deny our roots and enjoy our family and friends, we have changed. We now, as adults have 3 places where we belong:

1.     Your roots
2.     Your nationality
3.     Your home

Let me explain each of them and how they relate to our lives.

Your Roots

In the purest sense this is something you cannot deny! I was born in Mexico and I guess that makes me a Mexican. However, I come form a European Family; my mother was a Spanish Catholic, my father came from a German Jew family – what does that make me? I guess a bit of everything! Many of you would have roots less complex than mine (or perhaps even more complicated!) but we cannot get away from them, it is where we come from and where our history lays. This will always have an influence on you but won’t necessarily make who you are today. As I said, you cannot deny where you come from, but you may not be attached to your roots.

Sometimes coming “home”, where our roots are, it’s hard because we may no longer identify ourselves with our past. It doesn’t mean we no longer belong to our roots, it means we have grown apart. I know I feel this way; going back “home” is nice but can’t wait to go back “home”!!!!

Your Nationality

We all need to identify ourselves by a nationality that gives us a passport. Usually your nationality is a gateway to move around the world. Many people with mixed backgrounds and roots, posses two or more passports. But nationality does not identify you for what you are; it merely gives you a right, a right to live where we have chosen.

As a born Mexican I have a right to be Mexican. But I can’t recall the last time I had a Mexican passport. That doesn’t mean I’m not Mexican (we have established these are some of my roots) but having a Mexican passport, since I don’t live in Mexico, has no benefits for me currently. I have a UK passport and therefore a UK citizen. This is where I live and where I have chosen to live. Does this mean I can call myself British? I will expand on this on the next point.

For now, we all have a nationality, which usually ties us to where we have chosen to live or allows us to have certain benefits. Of course most of us would also have a Nationality that is links us to our roots. There is a strong tie between our background and where we chose to live. For me my roots are not tied to my nationality.

Your Home

This is perhaps the most important of the three; the one I believe actually makes us who we are. As a young adult I moved the England and began a new chapter of my life. A very different culture from Mexico or my roots, it took me some time to get used to it but soon I knew this is where I wanted to make “home” and I adapted, changed and 29 years later I call myself English. To recap, I was born in Mexico to a Spanish Catholic and German Jew family, I have a UK passport claiming a British Nationality and I have just called myself English! If you want to pause for a moment and get your head rounds this please do so!

I would enjoy going back “home” after 29 years but soon I would be asking for my flight back home! When I come to Spain, I enjoy it, but again I long to going back home. I enjoy living my life like an Englishman. This is where my home is, it’s not perfect, and there are aspects of it that drives me nuts. But is there anywhere perfect? of course not! And like me, there are many of you out there.

This can change, of course, and chose a new home. Who knows if in the future I will move somewhere and suddenly feel at home, then I change, I become America, Russian or Chinese! I will make my home and live my life accepting the culture and way of living, regardless of my roots or nationality.

We are all very different, some of us will have our roots, nationality and home where our family has lived for hundreds of years, others will have three different facets to their lives, one root, one nationality and one home. In the end, what matters is where you feel you belong, and this, in my opinion, can change at any time or not at all.

Where is your home?