Sep 4

FROM CONSUMERISM TO COMMUNALISM…A PIPE DREAM?

 

 

Question. If the goods/services being advertised in the various media were absolutely necessary…that is to say they were ‘needed’ by the average human being (based on disposable income indicators), why do they hire actors or superstars to convince us? Why do they use near-naked males/females to stimulate the senses? Subliminal signs and sounds. Colour codes. And that’s just scratching the surface. If these goods/services were indeed necessary (not compulsory like motor insurance :)) wouldn’t the natural need for ‘things’, coupled with affordability, direct the human flow of customers to the respective ‘thing’? Furthermore, I just listened to a radio advertisement and, having a keen ear for voices, word choices, the authenticity and connection of the speaker to the overall message being conveyed, I found the tones of the characters used to be very robotic. Could it be the digital age compelling us to accept the monotonic tone of a robot to tell us what we MUST buy, lest we be haunted by a neighbourhood of fully equipped Joneses, left man/woman-less, lose street cred…or whatever the penalty implied in the ads for our NOT purchasing the goods/service being advertised. It all sounds like a subliminal stick up of the mind to me. There you are, torn between the items you absolutely MUST purchase and those you don’t get and then have to endure the shame, lower social ranking, poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy…in general the stresses arising from the knowledge that you don’t have the said high end commodity or the new brand of human weave, it’s much the same (especially if Mrs Jones/Lacretia respectively has one!!!). Exaggeration for some of you, but a real dilemma for others!

 

NO AGE LIMITS

 

 

Take your average teenager…my son for example…just 16 yrs of age and he has already developed a mild fixation on ‘the latest IPhone’. He is NOT working! How did the consumerism-wizards get a hold of these young minds that don’t earn a cent AND get them to convince us parents (whether by coercion/emotional blackmail) to spend so much (as a ratio of earnings) of our hard earned cash? Remember, I’m referencing the average and below teenager and don’t get me wrong, my son has an IPhone, but it’s certainly not the latest version…and he didn’t get this one ‘as it drop’ in the Apple stores! Case in point. I watched a YouTube video recently showing that a certain community in Liverpool (England), which was designated the ‘poorest’ part of the country, had record crowds at its Apple store in the town, on the morning of a new IPhone launch. Lines (‘queues’ for the British-British), were extremely long! The consumer bug had clearly bitten hard and embedded itself deeply in the psyche of those folk. Matter over mind you could say.

 

 

But what about us? Have you ever stopped to consider how badly bitten you are by the consumerism bug? How many things in your home, for example, are regularly used and not just giving you or the home-helper grief to dust each week? How triggered are you when the advertisements for, or even the second hand news about, the launch of the latest IPhone, BMW, Nike, Dolce & Gabbana …(I’ve run out of name brands as I’m a hopeless non-follower of fashion)…add your own brands here…then answer the question J. Now don’t be defensive. I am by no means judging anyone here, God forbid, I too am working daily towards a re-balancing of my life, re-evaluating what I need more of (which by the way is ostensibly non-material) and what I can identify as non-essential clutter (be it physical, mental or human), to lighten and simplify my life somewhat. My hardest trigger to resist comes from the vicarious pangs of wanting to help my son keep up his street cred amongst his peers, while pointing out to him that he must not put material things before people and a conscious livity, that the yearning for the IPhone is fed by the marketers who use their mind manipulation tricks, that keep persons reaching and reaching perpetually for ‘things’ that they don’t need. But heck. He’s been a great son, doesn’t ask for much, he did well in his CXC’s. Maybe just this once…let me check the cashflow? See, I’m not perfectly de-consumerised, but I plead Maternalism! 🙂

 

WHO IS AT THE CONTROLS?

 

 

So if we are all the consumer puppets, who/what is pulling our strings? Perhaps those benefiting most from the consistently turning consumerism treadmill, supported greatly by highly paid marketing houses and not forgetting the Joneses, who never fail to bring attention to their latest acquisitions. I heard recently on BBC Radio, which is one of the few media sources I still get a sense of ‘factual-ness’ from (remind me, that’s a different blog topic), that the top advertising agencies in the world now hire the top neurologists, to assist them in knowing how the human mind and brain work!!! Now that struck me, as a person fascinated by neurology, to the extent of becoming a Neuronet therapist to assist children with learning challenges, but I digress. Those corporately hired neurologists…by all accounts,  are not hired to find out what the REAL needs of consumers are…more so to further manipulate minds, to steer wealth/last pennies in the direction of capitalist giants. Case in point, right now ladies, count (in your head if you are not in close proximity to your closet); how much shoes yu have? Now, how many do you wear regularly? Ok, then. Nothing new here I hear you say, but as the mind manipulation will now be based on the latest neuroscientific research, developed by privately hired neurologists…advertisers will be taking the term ‘getting into our heads’ to new levels. As I think about it, these same neurologists could, if more morally than materially guided, be more useful to humanity by devoting their time and expertise to developing mental skills that foster universal harmony. Anyway. It’s not for me to judge, but I’m just saying, as a born-again marketer, preying on highly stressed and strategically targeted masses, through mind-bending advertising, just seems wrong-up! I don’t know if I will be classified as a whistle-blower, but I recall my marketing course had us exploring strategies for, ‘capturing’ the minds of the consumer, persuading them that they ‘need’ this or that product/service that they never knew existed. Keep them purchasing, working to purchase more, borrowing to purchase yet more, then, financially extended, family relations strained, health compromised and consistently exhausted, you convince them to take the commercially advertised drugs that will keep you going that little bit longer, without checking the cause of the pain, in between the commercially advertised 2 weeks vacations…after which, the pain still exists.

 

 

Wow. Not a very pretty picture, now that I’ve stopped to read back. So, let me change gear and share what possible alternatives there are for those of us still hooked by the consumer-chain yet open minded enough to explore an alternative ‘livity’… or at least ease up on the throttle of our racing consumption engine. I’m not advocating a cold turkey extraction from the consumer train…that would be tantamount to jumping off an actual moving train and experiencing the shock and resultant psychological disorientation…as you realise you have just taken your whole wardrobe of Gucci shoes and matching handbags to the charity shop! I know it’s not easy once you are entwined, to unravel the old livity and re-ravel a new one…without the proverbial ‘trappings’. See, we even give the ‘things’ a name representing bondage! So, let’s get creative, like the marketers of these multi-billion dollar advertising agencies…with their highly paid neurologists.

 

 

If George Orwell did it, picture this. We are now in the year 2030…

 

There will now be a one month intermission.

 

Log in again the first week of October to…

 

FIND OUT MAKEDA’S PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE LIVITY STRATEGIES IN PART 2 OF “CONSUMERISM TO COMMUNALISM…A PIPE DREAM?

 

 

Apr 4

ON PARENTING AND PERSPECTIVES

 

On a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, after a beautiful day at the beach, I witnessed a minor disagreement that stole my attention. A young man, well let’s say around 32 years old, from my perspective…on a little boat, on its return voyage from Lime Cay to Port Royal…started an argument with the one-eyed, visually impaired (in the good eye), steerer of the vessel.

 

Image result for BOAT LIME KEY JAMAICA

 

What struck me only momentarily on the day, but came back to me with a thud just now, is that the oddity (in my mind) was not in the fact that the man steering the boat was not bearing the full credentials of a person I would choose to be steering a little boat with me on board, but in the fact that this young, seemingly ‘uptown’ man, with a multiracial audience of strangers, elected to argue with (distract!) our already disadvantaged steerer! Add to that, a group of four young boys that our argumentative man was accompanying, (three of whom appeared to be his sons). Yes, I completely overlooked the vision issue and was drawn in by the drama unfolding with our arguer. My thinking was, his children are on board and his presence of mind didn’t say…let me allow this man to focus on getting us all to dry land safely??!!! He was peeved and had to get it off his chest.

 

SOBERING THOUGHTS

 

Image result for HEALTH AND SAFETY

 

By this time I’m trying not to engage my Risk Manager brain cells, upon noticing that the randomly distributed life jackets were ‘clearly optional’, and working on containing my UK Local Government ultra-Health & Safety training, to the tune of many sections, subsections and clauses. Who insures the boat and its passengers? What inspections of the vessel take place and how often? As I mention that, there really are a minefield of responsibilities and potential legal liabilities that many businesses and their leaders are totally unaware of. Directors Liability Insurance, for example, might seem like a luxury to many, but with the onerous responsibilities laid out by the Companies Act 2004, that luxury might be more appealing if one juxtaposed it with the seizure of personal assets of Directors because of a ‘breach’. Directors, don’t start stressing…yet; carry on with the story…I’ll link you at the end.

 

ROCKING THE BOAT

 

Image result for rocking the boat

 

So, back to the boat. The young man, who I was now actively psychoanalyzing, took to chastising the Captain of the vessel, who had instructed him to dust the sand off his and his flock of 4 boy children’s feet/shoes before entering the boat. “This is the third time yu a upset mi yu know!” he started (which immediately gave him away as a Jamaican living in Merica. A home-based brother would have said ‘dis’…not ‘upset’. The latter is more in sync with a culture where adults routinely ask children, if their feelings were hurt. Not a routine inquiry of Jamaican parenting…from my experience and vantage point of course. Anyway, Mr Merica by now is on a full scale rant…“why do you do it?” he asks earnestly. “You didn’t ask anyone else to dust their feet off”. The third time, he kept repeating, that he was upset by the Captain and he is tired of it. Up to now our Captain is clearly trying to remember this dude from the droves of boat riders over the years, not helped I’m sure by the fact that he obviously could not swear to a 20/20 glimpse at Mr Merica. Despite some feeble attempt to throw off his aggressor with utterings about not remembering him from before, the verbal lashing continued, including the threat that Captain needed to check himself because he, Mr Merica, is noticing a trend that he doesn’t like. At this point, I wondered if I was the only passenger noticing that the complainer kept going on and on, despite the Captain shifting his focus to steering the boat. He went quiet for a few seconds, only to pipe up again with the same rant. I had deduced by now, that his sense of self-importance had been eroded and it had triggered old feelings that he just had to vent.

 

DADDY WISDOM

 

Parenting

 

 

In between rants, he also entertained us by guiding his sons on such topics as their need to forget about what they like doing and find a job that earns them lots of money. I bit my Child Development, motivate-kids-to-live-their-full-passion lip and looked away. I even resisted the urge to whisper in the ear of the little boy sitting next to me…”do what you love son, money can’t buy happiness”, but daddy would have seen the move and we were only about half way across the waters. Cutting the story/journey short, as we approached the dock, where a few yachts/boats were shored…notice I’m getting into my nautical terminologies, as I am not averse to coming down from the hills and boarding a yacht ;)…Mr Merica announced to ‘his boys’ (I’m sure those on the land heard him too)…”that’s the yacht that used to belong to your grandpa…my father” (honestly, he said that!). As I started the concluding paragraph on his psychoanalysis in my head, he went on…”it’s not working now though, that’s why grandpa had to sell it”. I sensed that all other silent passengers aboard the boat must by now have been waiting for the inevitable finale to the sole voice of the voyage. He finished the announcement with…”I’ll have one bigger than that one day boys…work hard so one of you can buy it for me”. My thought by this time was, I hope the children have a mommy/mommies whose sense of balance is sharper, otherwise this boat load of future fodder are going to need a great deal of daddy override to ‘adjust’ some of the seeds of wisdom he is planting in their fertile young minds. But then again. That is just my view of the situation…from my unique perspective. This approach to parenting, despite the strong ego, fueled by the drive to prove oneself and perhaps a tups of low self-esteem, might be just the ticket for these young men. Because that’s the other point. Each of us can only see the world from our singular perspective…anything else is tantamount to imagination.

 

PARENTING 101

 

Image result for PARENTING

 

We often hear parents say that children never came with a manual, so perhaps it’s time for parenting guidelines to be prepared, including a compulsory mandate that all Parents must have common sense. Anyway…again my opinion, from my conditioned perspective. At a time when world leaders and citizens are losing the temperament to agree to disagree with opinions from perspectives of others, it is important for us to respect the rights of others to have and express theirs. We are all unique beings on this journey. I wonder what Mr Merica would write about his experience of that boat ride? Or the other silent ones on the voyage. Now that would literally be a whole different set of stories!

 

In conclusion, the important message I want to leave you with today is…if you’re going on a boat ride across deep waters, make sure you focus on the attributes of your ‘Captain’ and not the distractions of a serial ranter. One is more than likely than the other to sink the boat. (Notwithstanding my prejudice, our Captain turned out to be a master at his craft and got us to shore safely!).

 

ARE YOU A DIRECTOR?

 

Appointing a new company director

 

Oh yes, I almost forgot. Any Directors of companies out there, don’t miss the boat! ;). Ask Sarifa about securing a Directors Liability quotation for you… (can’t resist it)…before the ship sails! Or…wait, wait, wait…you run aground! [Mic dropped].

 

Mar 7

SELF-RE-DISCOVERY

SELF-RE-DISCOVERY

 

Self Discovery 5

 

Just think for a moment. What if who you are now and what your life is about, does not reflect the ‘authentic’ you? Is not congruent with your personality type, inborn talents or deep passions. Now that can be a frightening state of mind to give attention to, right? It becomes even more daunting (or liberating), when you are considering this when you are outside the category of ‘spring chicken’. Let me give a little personal context to this topic.

 

Self Discovery 2

 

It struck me a few months ago that I am now approaching the phase of my life that is considered, according to chronological categorization, as ‘middle aged’. The senior Crone woman that has already passed through the other two demarked stages known as Maiden and Mother. All of a sudden, my self-assessment took on a more bird’s eye view scrutiny. The last time I remember having this level of intense reflection about my life was when I was approaching 30, looked at my life, mildly panicked and decided that it was time to make some drastic changes…being that I was unmarried and without child…and the clock was ticking! I know, I know…all stereotypical nonsense, but I was raised by a traditional Jamaican woman that would make the subtle (not) point whenever a friend of mine got married. So, what did I do? I packed up my life, took a 5 week soul searching trip to Ghana, West Africa, returned to England, then made rapid plans for a brand new life in Jamaica! Uncharted territory, my having only visited the island twice before! A little dramatic some might think. I mean, many women approaching 30 might have just gone to the hairdressers and changed their hairstyle. Not me. My life had to be shaken up out of the monotonous, non-committed zone and thrust into a new adventure that would sate my free spirited, adventure seeking nature. My family were not at all surprised. They knew that when my ‘mad head’ took me…things were bound to be transformed!

 

So fast forward to now, I’m a mother (check), approaching mid 50’s, had amazing life experiences in the tropics…yet I’m feeling that tell-tale itch again, that cannot go unscratched. Who am I now and am I living my full, authentic life? What are my true passions and purpose? Have they changed? 20+ years on…just who am I?

 

ARE YOU REALLY WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

 

Self Discovery 8

 

So, since I’m currently working out my future ‘lane’, I invite you to take this journey of self-re-discovery with me, so you too can hit your life’s refresh button. Some of you will find it very difficult, while others will enjoy the ride. Ready? Here goes.

 

Just imagine (close your eyes for greater effect…after you have read the instructions of course 🙂 )…imagine that all the things, places, people and hobbies that currently make up your life have been gathered, assumed or imprinted on your life over X many years based on family traditions, national customs, influence of friends, previous relationships/heartbreaks, requirements of your job or fear! We will leave out governmental rules/regulations as I don’t want to insight anarchy. Imagine that you are being given a clean slate upon which to create your ‘dream life’, including the things you value, cherish, are passionate about…generated from your own mind and feelings. I know, trying to peel away the external influences to get to the pure YOU factor might not be as easy as we think, but I’m going for it and encourage you to do the same. Create a vision board. Go for walks in nature. Dig up the photo album and look back at the ‘old you’, the things you used to do, places you used to go and simply reflect on whether or not you wish to re-create or eliminate specific things from your NOW life. Or create exciting new stuff!

 

THE ONGOING PROCESS

 

Self Discovery 3

 

Now, first thing tomorrow morning, when you open your eyes, take note of your first thoughts? How do you feel? Are you feeling alive, happy, excited to start the day, full of vitality and the wonders of life? Or is it more like…”Oh Lord, it’s Monday morning already???” If its the latter, which let’s face it, is one of the biggest ‘elephants-in-the-room’ for many of our lives, it’s time to ask those deeper self-examining questions. Do I like what I do? Am I where I want to live? Am I with who I want to be with? What did I love doing when I was young(er)? [Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that you quit your job, move into the hills or divorce your spouse…unless of course any of those things are necessary for the positive expansion of your life to its full potential].

 

AN EXAMPLE

 

Image result for playing pool

 

Recently I (re)discovered that I love to play pool. I used to do so in my 20’s and became quite good at it. I had forgotten this fact until I attended a community street dance recently and eyed a pool room full of young men and couldn’t resist the urge to put my coin on the table for a game. I was in my element! The joy it brought back to me, the energy rush, after so long away from the table, was palpable. The game was very close, I lost, but that was cool. I vowed to find a spot in Kingston where I could re-sharpen my skills and play ‘for fun’. I don’t business that I’m a ‘middle aged’, female executive with a British accent! In the pool room…it’s a level playing field and the respectful competition is fierce among the bredren!

 

I’m sharing this example with you because sometimes we surprise ourselves with the things that reconnect us to our joy. Often simple things. So make a start. Observe yourself and your feelings as you revisit old and even new ways of being, living and doing YOU!

 

WHY NOT DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE?

 

Image result for happy black woman

 

The big question then becomes, why did I/why do we stop doing the things that bring us joy? Do our lives become so full with surviving in our societally acceptable/respectable worlds, that there is no room for round the clock joy? Too eutopian?

 

Self Discovery 6

 

On the drive to school each morning, our car is filled with music and my son and I singing/dancing along [while exhibiting all due care and attention to road conditions, Officer!]. In contrast, we notice the faces in the oncoming lines of back-to-back rush hour traffic and the ‘doom and gloom’ staring back at us is significant. Just 7.30am and so many furrowed brows. Stern looks. Impatient horn honking. Strange looks at our exhibit of joyfulness. Mimed quarrels.

 

TIP: It is a proven fact that listening to music from an earlier era, especially if it was your ‘hay-day’/teen years improves your mental outlook, level of joy and even physical health. Dig out those old hits, convert them from vinyl or tapes first :), and make your rush hour journey an Old Hits session. When the significant drop in road rage statistics is announced…remember me!

 

Self Discovery 7

 

NOW WE ARE AWARE…WHAT NEXT?

 

Once we rediscover the things that still float our boats, we must remove the excuses that stop us getting back into the said activity. I spoke to a middle aged, unemployed mother recently who, through sad eyes, spoke of her love for baking, which she hadn’t done for so long. When I asked her why she didn’t just go for it, she firstly cited lack of funds to buy ingredients, but encouraged by my blank stare, honestly shared how demotivated she had become because of other domestic pressures, lack of home based support/motivation and a consequently dwindled self-esteem. You see how easy it is for our minds to lead us into ruts that make our simple joys seem insurmountable? As we spoke about pastry, her eyes lit up, her slumped posture straightened up…she was (mentally at least) in her element! We have to break the imaginary barriers that we place between our current ‘livity’ and the joys of our hearts!

 

Image result for pastry making

 

So! Here is your homework. In addition to the suggested exercises above, determine what is your BAKING? Or POOL PLAYING? Do you love to dance, yet haven’t dropped a foot in years? Did you use to play an instrument or listen to music regularly, but have parked your passion back in the days when music was played on vinyl? My dears…it is TIME. Dust off the instrument, polish up our dancing shoes, join the drama club, enroll in that Salsa class, get that pet etc. etc. etc. The reality is, if we do not make the time to bring the simple joys into our mind space, then back into our lives…it will be difficult to be that joyful partner/spouse/friend/parent/employee that adds real value to the lives of others. Let the phrase ‘Please Yourself’ take on a new spin, because once you are pleased and your glad bag fills to the point of bursting…you will naturally ‘Please Others’! Even the children will share in the fairy dust sprinkling of joy and lightness in the otherwise heavy home. Come on…push yourself! Put those shoulders back, take a deep breath and say to this world…”I claim my joy!” Anything less and you are shortchanging yourself and robbing the world of the magnificent divine plans for your unique, fully accomplished life!

 

Image result for happy black driver

 

While I have not seen the statistics, I am certain that happier drivers have fewer accidents, so just think, as well as being much happier…you will be protecting your No Claims Bonus! See you in the traffic! Then in our offices when your motor insurance is due. ;).

 

P.S. If the self-re-discovery process gets too overwhelming, link me for a Psychodrama Session and we can journey together!