Bending over backward on a global stage – I never imagined that it would be my connection with the expressive art of Bellydance that would finally give my voice a platform in the media to communicate my desire to champion seldom-heard communities.
The beauty of creation derives from the most unique of spaces and it is in some of the most bizarre of places where we also discover such soulful stories… for me dancing and moving my body has given me space to write with my head and create with my body as well as stumble on stories from performing in Shisha Bars to leading dance, expressive movement and digital story-telling workshops throughout communities!
Except that this wasn’t just getting into journalism through the backdoor it was quite literally bending over backward and not even having shoes on to break through the glass floor of the industry but shimmying into it until someone heard my story and more importantly, the voices of the “hard to reach” community I had shimmied up in.
Ironically this wasn’t a stint, it was just me expressing my soul story through a different language other than the words I most enjoyed writing on a page.
And whilst I had connected with an unusual type of communication it was this very form that finally got the world to hear me. People beyond my current echo chamber, an impact on the wider world, and a chance to share my story of a ‘mixed-race’ ‘young’ ‘impoverished’ woman who had been shunned and assaulted by society.
But it was the flickering bright lights of the entertainment world that finally embraced me, albeit with the shackles that I presented a ‘rags to riches’ tale, the ‘cute, poor, curvy’ dancer and how these rich powerful men had plucked me out of the doldrums of society.
Fortunately, my “rough” background, growing up in a “broken family” and crime-infested area, had taught me how to adapt the way I strutted over challenges by staying connected with my own core values, my soul purpose. I could navigate the sumptuous sparkles of show-business with the same grounding that I could learn from the murky headlines which humans had cast over my head, not allowing them to cast a shadow on my spirit.
I had the grit and the glitz of a strong but fragile heart to guide me, I knew I could empathically hear and help others through my holistic storytelling.
By showcasing my own soulful story, I could demonstrate that I could sensitively narrate theirs. My primary medium has always been the written language whether that be on paper or setting up my own human rights blog (which incidentally became my next sideways step-ball-change into the journalism industry).
Yet, I always felt I was straddling two divisive worlds of rich and poor, segregated and secure, but actually very much like me – I reflected the light and shade of a sparkle… just like we all do regardless of our own stage make-up – we are comprised one perfectly imperfect gem.
Whether you see me as a refined jewel or an unpolished rock. That’s the beauty of telling any life story. It is one whole spectrum of a human which is the foundation of any story. The ebbs and flows, echoing the beautiful rhythms of nature, much like the Japanese Aesthetics of Wabi-sabi which appreciates the beauty of nature reflected by imperfections.
This is just one fragment of my own life story, something I candidly share in my online content, published book, and in my regular newspaper, and magazine columns. I draw out themes that I feel are relevant in today’s times.
Whilst my burning fire to articulate stories creatively may have derived from my background, my east meets west and Yorkshire heritage and my own life experience acts as an internal prompt to challenge my own beliefs and more importantly to me, to empower others to share their lived experience.
For me this is the beauty of journalism, trying to decipher fact and fiction, conscious and subconscious bias, and utilising our skillset to embrace the responsibility of telling the truth of stories that need to be heard. Challenging ourselves, querying those of whom we are institutionalised to listen to, and always investigate all of the ‘stage wings’ to a story.
I love ‘slow news’ much like the meditative art monks adopt to artfully make a cup of ‘Cha’ or a plunge of a teabag if you’re me.
The simple power of the human story is discovered when we mindfully listen to the stir of the tea leaves blending with the hard water, combined with the complexity of accurately articulating that story so that it is consumed by the desired audiences which makes the power of the story so important.
Our own stories are infused in a complex swirl that sometimes we ourselves don’t understand, but our responsibility as narrators is to navigate the facade of the chunky mugs, delicate China cups, and plastic flasks whilst also delving into anyone’s unique blend of tea leaves.
As journalists and storytellers we not only have the honour of sipping on plenty of varieties of tea but we must also carefully remove the froth and find a way of serving that perfectly imperfect beverage to the audiences we want to digest it.
Whilst writing, presenting, and dancing modes of communication resonate with my soul as a writer, I love creatively exploring new ways of sharing and telling such stories in a variety of mediums from vlogs to blogs, from podcasts to social media posts…
As the designated server, it is my responsibility that our guests connect with a cup of tea which prompts them to take a pause from the rush of the rat race and reflect into the glimmering liquid of the perfectly brewed cuppa cha in front of them. A delightful design of glossy entertainment, with deeper undertones of flavours and a forceful embodiment of the truth.