Category Archives: Word of Advice

Word of Advice: Unleash the Power of Presence

Advocate for social change, Maya Mehta in 2015

Advocate for social change, Maya Mehta in 2015

When you hear Londoner and lawyer MAYA MEHTA speak, you listen.   We Are Daytrippers recently attended an event called Putting the Soul Back into Business which was hosted by Harvard Club of the United Kingdom and co-hosted by Ms. Mehta.  Not only did Maya project the presence of a strong woman who genuinely cares about social change, but she also seemed to make sure it was going to happen; there was something extra-special about her.  We reached out and found out how she continues to intend to move mountains for the greater good.  Maya has founded Microfinance Groups at her current and past employers with law and investment firms.  In 2004, she established an advice surgery for Asian victims of domestic violence and forced marriages in East London.  Maya studied law at Oxford and in 2013 she co-founded the Harvard-Oxford Alumni Social Business Group, a forum dedicated to bringing “social intrapreneurs” together to use business as a force for positive social change.  Her message encourages all of us not just to sit there and tsk-tsk about social issues we notice or feel passionate about: but to do something:


Feeling Powerless?

When I hear about the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram and dragged into the forests of Nigeria, or rather when I don’t hear about them anymore because the world forgets so quickly and moves on to the next popular hashtag or the next ice bucket challenge, I feel powerless.
But then I remember how I felt back in 2004, when I kept reading stories about young Asian girls who were forced into marriage, or even worse, subjected to honour killings by their own families for choosing to be with the person they loved, or who committed suicide because they did not want to marry a complete stranger.  I couldn’t just turn the page of the paper and turn a blind eye.  But then I couldn’t exactly fly to Pakistan, India or Bangladesh and catch the perpetrators.  However, I could change things here at home in London.   

I would travel on the DLR to my law firm in Canary Wharf, watching children playing on the estates of Shadwell, their mothers hanging laundry out of the windows of the surrounding tower blocks.  The juxtaposition of the gleaming glass towers of Canary Wharf and the relative poverty of the surrounding areas was striking.

Mobilising Resources Around Us

Having met with a local charity, the Newham Asian Women’s Project, it became clear that the abuse of Asian girls was happening not just a million miles away, but right here on my doorstep.  I knew I had a wealth of resource at my fingertips– professionals such as lawyers, IT experts, secretaries, all of whom were passionate about helping others and were willing to give up their lunchbreaks to do so.  We weren’t experts in the field of domestic violence, far from it, but we had a basic skill to offer – the skill of listening, of being present.

Having asked the charity what they needed and having enlisted support from my law firm and my peers, the “Newham Asian Women’s Project Advice Surgery” was born.   Each week my colleagues would travel two stops on the Jubilee line to lend their ears to and give basic advice to the women of Newham.

Before we knew it, word spread like wildfire around the local community and women, often with their children, were lining up for advice on all sorts of issues.  It was often so simple.   One young girl ran in and told me she had been beaten up by her boyfriend.  She just wanted to enlist on a journalism course so that she could learn how to write well and tell her story.  We heard her aspirations and pointed her in the right direction.

Another lady was living in fear of her stalker ex-husband who was subject to an injunction but she still did not even dare to take her child to the local playground in case he showed up.  When we suggested she go further afield and take a trip on the Jubilee line to London Zoo she looked at us as if we had suggested going to the Moon.  She didn’t know how to use the tube.  But when we showed her a tube map and explained how to get there, her face lit up with an empowered sense of liberation – a whole new world of possibilities outside Newham had been presented to her.

Just by being present and engaged for one lunchtime a week (often less of a commitment because we had devised a weekly rota), we were able to instil a sense of self-worth into victims of abuse and remind them that they do have a voice, they do have a choice and that no-one could tell them otherwise.

The more complex issues were referred back to the charity but even in those instances we were able to use our basic professional skills to interview the women, elicit information, identify red flags, make phone calls to specialist services and point them in the right direction.  This saved the charity valuable time.

10 years later, now with clients of the firm involved and thanks to the dedication of colleagues who kept it going when I left the firm in 2011, the advice surgery is still going strong.

Call to Action

What I have learnt is that if there is a social issue that disturbs us, we don’t have to wait for government to take action, for students to take to the streets or for celebrities to tweet.  And we certainly don’t have to feel like our only option is turn a blind eye.  If I hear about something awful and find myself constantly thinking about it as I try to proceed with my day, that is my call to action.

This happened recently when I saw on the news a beautiful Eritrean girl who was languishing in the notorious refugee camp of Calais, “The Jungle”, having been trafficked for thousands of miles across Africa.  She had so much hope, promise and defiance in her eyes, I couldn’t forget her.  The obvious next step was to brainstorm with my peers about the issues faced by victims of trafficking and to partner with a charity who might welcome some different skillsets and a few extra pairs of hands.

Unleashing the Power of Presence

There is so much we can do just by asking a charity or other expert on the ground what they might need (to ensure we are a bonus, not a burden) and offering to spend precious face-to-face time listening to and engaging with victims of poverty, trafficking, domestic violence, the elderly or disabled, whatever the issue may be.  This is how we can unleash the power of presence, a weapon too often forgotten in an age of smartphones and social media.   This is the offline revolution.  This is the power of that is within each of us to drive forward social change.

The Daytrippers Team:  Thank you Maya for your contribution and we wish you the very best.

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Word of Advice: Gratitude will set you Free!

The Filmmaker Brian Ging in Berlin

The Filmmaker Brian Ging in Berlin

One thing you notice when you meet film writer, editor and producer BRIAN GING is that you are likely to be looking UP.  At 200 centimetres tall and beaming a bright smile, you immediately feel there is something truly special about this guy.  We Are Daytrippers was lucky to catch the busy filmmaker for a few minutes. Ging  hails from Los Angeles, California together with his talented wife (they met many years ago on a movie set) and their cat Simba.  Brian encourages us to follow our dreams one step at a time.  Here are his words of advice:

I write, direct, and edit movies in California and other locations in the USA. I also make my living editing tv shows and commercials. This had been my dream job since I was a kid in high school, but its been a long journey to get here. I grew up a regular middle-class kid living in Phoenix, Arizona. This felt like a million miles from Hollywood (where I now live). I also had no idea what the journey would look like for me to make it here. I didn’t have any movie studio connections, knew nobody named Spielberg, and often barely made enough money to pay my rent and car payments while getting work where I could… I’m not by any means making the big budget films like you see at your local cinemaplex, but I am making lower budget films and projects that I care about. And I’m still for the most part just paying my rent and car payments. But without question, I’m doing what I love.

Brian behind the scenes.

Brian Ging perfecting his craft.


I’m often asked how I got here. How did I end up with a life where I am paid to be creative for a living? Most people are looking for the magic bullet answer, the secret backdoor shortcut to reach their goal. I know in the beginning I certainly was, and I was pretty irritated that I couldn’t find it. I read books about film directors who’s first movie was discovered and they were swept into the Hollywood machine as “golden children” and granted fame and riches. I thought that sounded pretty good and I’d try that. After making my first film, that didn’t happen… The reality is that it doesn’t matter whether you are trying to build a career in a highly competitive industry like Hollywood, or working through a physical disability to strengthen your muscles with your physical therapist: There are no shortcuts. You just put one foot in front of the other (you screw up most of the time) but you grow and get better! I have always tried to simply look for the next bar on the ladder, the next step in the staircase. Whether it was working hard for free, or helping people who almost always organically helped me – I tried to make every film or commercial or project I worked on better than the last, growing and increasing my skill set.


The hardest thing for me about having such big dreams was constantly measuring how far I was away from my dream. Look how many stairs I still have to go! So many I can’t even count them! Which can be quite disheartening. To always be talking about “someday I’ll be great”, or “someday I’ll have the life I want” makes it incredibly hard to be happy in this moment… now. And that’s the secret really. To be happy in this moment, with where we are; with the step on the ladder we are currently standing on. Its like they say, gratitude will set you free.


So no matter what your dream, or your goal, realize that the only way you will reach it is to just take the next step in front of you. That’s all you are responsible for right now. I’ve learned to appreciate where I am, and where I was at in the journey towards my dreams.

One day I looked up and realized that… wow I’m doing something that would have made that teenage Brian pretty proud.  It snuck up on me really. A fifteen year overnight success and I still have a long way to go; one step at a time. Often the scariest steps I’ve taken have led to the most growth.


Brian Ging as a kid channelling Groucho Marx

Brian Ging as a kid channelling Groucho Marx

Good luck with whatever your passion is, or your dream. And know that the struggles and challenges you face … we all face them. The best thing you can do is be grateful for where you are at right now, and just take things one step at a time.









Thank you so much Brian Ging for your contribution.

Connect with Brian Ging on Twitter:  @briangging

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Word of Advice: Let’s Try Being Kind to Each Other!

Writer, performer and comedian Bernadette Russell.  Photograph by Gerald Kydd.

Photograph of Bernadette Russell by Gerald Kydd

Comedian, writer, performer and kindness crusader BERNADETTE RUSSELL is devoted to spreading happiness.  She recently wrote an activity book for kids based on ideas of kindness called Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy.  This book resonates with Daytrippers ethos of spreading happiness to disabled and terminally-ill children.  Brook from The Daytrippers Team found out about the book while browsing Waterstones and immediately got in touch with Russell to see if she might contribute to We Are Daytrippers.  Guess what?  She said yes (yahoo!) and made us very happy because we think of her as a true expert in how to be a most excellent person.

Here is Bernadette Russell’s word of advice:

The news is really depressing and horrible. Sometimes for ghoulish fun I string together all the headlines into one long sentence like this: “scientistwarnglobalwarmingresultsinkillerbeesandimmigrantsandbenefitscheatsstealingpensionsandcausingcancer. “

It’s unbearable sometimes, to face it all, and to be left wondering “What Can I do about all that?” and those stories, on a loop, delivered 24/7 with loads of splashy headlines full of terrifying exclamation marks and dramatic bold fonts, make us think how bad the world is, how awful we are, us human beings.

I like to remind myself, of course, there is loads of bad stuff in the world, but it is always outweighed by the good. Maybe you don’t believe me. Maybe you sigh and say something like, “that’s a nice thought, but she’s living in cloud cuckoo land” (I love this expression actually, I do wonder what it would look like, and if cuckoos rule it or not? Is it actually IN THE CLOUDS? That would be great. Unlikely, but great).

I actually live in Deptford, South East London, my formerly scruffy, recently gentrified little patch of home. It’s still pretty poor, although now you can buy a soya flat white and buy organic quinoa, plus there’s a picture of Jamie Oliver visiting Deptford, on one of those luxury flat hoardings, and I like him, so I don’t mind seeing him.

Bernadette Russell, the kindness crusader

Bernadette Russell, the kindness crusader. Photograph by Graeme Braidwood.

So, a while ago, August 18th 2011, post-riots and with a head spinning with images of buildings on fire and the bigoted foamy rantings of various people in the media, I paid for a boy’s stamp in the local post office. Since then, I have promised to be kind to a stranger every day for a year. I initially committed to a year, but the experience was so life changing that I kept it up, and you can read the whole story here should you wish

Pretty much for the last three hundred years we have accepted as fact the belief of various respected and powerful thinkers (Sigmund Freud etc.) that humankind is innately selfish. Often when we hear stories about someone mugging some one else in the park, we also hear “oh, that’s human nature” as if this is the natural order of things and to be expected, suggesting perhaps that kindness is the unusual thing.

I’d like to suggest that it’s not. We’ve somehow been persuaded to believe that other people are bad, to be feared, avoided, be suspicious of. But I offer you this challenge: just notice tomorrow how often people are kind to you (opening doors, helping with a heavy case, saying thanks, smiling, letting you go first, all those every day courtesies that keep society functioning and ensure that we muddle along together). Ok, so once or twice during your day someone might be rude or grumpy but I bet that’s outweighed by the good things. Every day. You might get home and say: “this man swore at me to get out of the way of the bus” On a day filled with many many small acts of kindness we report on and remember the bad ones. I try to do the reverse. I try to remember all the good things that happened in the day. I try to be kind at every opportunity. I try to forgive people for their grumpiness or rudeness (I don’t have the slightest idea what sort of day/week/life they’ve had after all). The person who is rude to me may have just found out they didn’t get a job they were after. They might have had an argument with their mum. They might be worried about money. Or just stubbed their toe.

Doing this has made me happier and less fearful. I have got to know my neighbours. I’m no saint of course. Being kind every day, remembering the good things, and being forgiving are still a challenge now, even after all this time. Sometimes I am that grumpy person on the bus. But I forgive myself that too, and shrug it off. I try to also be kind to myself in this way.

Of course I am by no means the only person who thinks this: lots of people are thinking about kindness, empathy and happiness, and how we can evolve as a species. (That whole “eye for an eye” thing not having worked out so well for us). There are loads of organisations promoting kindness and happiness, promoting ideas of hope instead of fear, having faith in human beings. There are conversations happening globally in cafes and round kitchen tables, on Facebook and twitter about these ideas: that the relentless pursuit of money and power, the acquisition of possessions, the narrow view of success that these pursuits imposes upon us has not made the world a better place and has definitely not made us happier. That there is another way.

A while ago I was at the rally to save the NHS in Trafalgar, a subject close to my heart. To me the NHS embodies compassion, empathy and a collective optimism that must be defended. Billy Bragg came on stage to sing to us all as the sun went down. He spoke about “our enemy being cynicism” and he’s right. Don’ t be cynical, and you will already be helping to make the world better. If you have to moan then ask yourself what can I do to help? There may well be something. (not moaning is a start – I often tell myself this!)

Bernadette Russell and musician Billy Bragg

Bernadette Russell and musician Billy Bragg. Photograph by Sian Williams.

But above everything else: be kind. Kindness is the same as love. In the end it is all that matters. There’s a revolution coming. It’s all going to be alright.

Bernadette Russell

Twitter @betterussell

These are some of the organisations that have helped me:

Action For Happiness

Sunday Assembly

People United

The Daytrippers Team:  Thank you so much for your contribution Bernadette Russell.  x

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Word of Advice: How to silence your inner-critic

Mindfulness expert Stacy Kesten

Mindfulness expert Stacy Kesten

STACY KESTEN is an American filmmaker, artist, actor and meditation student who resides in Studio City, Los Angeles with her Film and T.V. editor husband Brian Ging.  Stacy is dedicated to the study of Mindfulness and Meditation at UCLA because she has witnessed firsthand the varied benefits in those who have practiced for a long time.  She hopes to demystify the learning curve and help those who wish to begin a practice of Mindfullness and Meditation.


Stacy shares her advice about handling stress with We Are Daytrippers:

Just living in modern society is stressful.  Add being a parent to that equation and the potential for stress increases significantly.  Top that off with being a parent of a special needs child and the word “stress” takes on a whole new meaning.  So how does one handle this particular version of stress?  The kind of stress so few others experience or even understand?  I would like to suggest Mindful Meditation.

I know what you’re thinking: “with all of the demands of balancing life and the responsibilities of being a parent to a child with special needs, who has time to meditate?” I get it.  It seems counter-intuitive.  There’s always so much to do, and if, by some alignment of the stars, you have 20 minutes to yourself, then, well, there’s still always something else to do.  I understand.  But here’s my question:  What is the quality of your life and your parenting experience, when you don’t take care of yourself?  How much time is wasted and lost when your day feels scattered and harried?  What I’m suggesting is that in order to take better care of your child, I urge you to also make yourself a priority.  It is absolutely essential to partake in self-care activities that not only calm you, but also give you the opportunity to find inner peace so that your life may be more balanced.  If you can find that balance and calm, you will be a better model for your children, and they will pick up on your improved energy which will in turn help their balance and calm as well.  It’s a win-win!

In my meditation groups and classes parents often express that they experience guilt when they steal away for 20 minutes to meditate.  somehow, it seems like a “selfish” way to spend their time.  I would like to submit that nothing could be further from the truth.  The reality is that there is no kinder gift we can offer to our family, our friends, and the world around us than the recharge we get by spending a few quiet moments alone, taking care of ourselves.  When we take time to meditate we find more patience, clarity and presence. We also learn to cultivate more compassion, both for those around us and for ourselves.

As parents, it’s so easy to let the “inner-critic” take over.  In case you’re not familiar with your inner-critic, allow me to introduce you to mine.  My inner-critic is that nasty voice inside my head who shouts mean things; “you’re a bad parent” or “You’re not doing enough” or “you can’t do anything right!”  Most of the time we allow these voices to run rampant and unchecked because we are unconscious of them.  However, if we can become aware of them, they begin to lose their power over us – and one of the most effective ways to become aware of this toxic chatter is through meditation.  you can practice meditation wherever you are – whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office, or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

If you’re willing to give it a try, you might be asking HOW does one meditate?  Do I burn incense, sit on a Tibetan pillow cross-legged and chant Ohm?!

It’s much simpler than that actually.  

Here are a few steps:

1. Find a comfortable position, preferably sitting in a chair or lying down.

2.  Take three deep slow breaths – Inhale and Exhale, Inhale and Exhale, Inhale and Exhale.

3.  Now, allow your breathing to return to normal, and just gently observe your breath.  Try not to control your breath.  Try to just notice it.  You can focus gently on any of the following:

  • The feeling of the air coming in and out of your nostrils.
  • The feeling of the rise and fall of your stomach, chest or shoulders.
  • The feeling of the air filling your lungs.
  • Any coping mechanism that helps you feel aware of your breath.

4.  When you noticed that your mind wanders off (which it most definitely will) gently, and without giving yourself a hard time, bring your focus back to your breath.

5.  If you would like to try it, here is a great guided meditation to get you started: BEGINNERS GUIDED MEDITATION

That’s it!  Meditation is as simple as that.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but the key is to be kind and patient with yourself.  The more you practice, the more you will see benefits.  Over time, parents often report increased patience and compassion towards their children (and themselves) among many more benefits.  As you learn to focus on the present moment, you will also begin to learn what is worth giving your attention to and what is not (no thanks, inner-critic!) which is sure to simplify your life.  If I have managed to peak your interest, just start off with whatever level or time seems do-able.  Should you find a few free moments, do take time to take care of yourself, so that you can, in turn, take care of others.  I can’t think of a better way to invest a few minutes of time.



Follow Stacy or ask her questions @MindfulnessGal

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