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Category: Music life

Penfold: moving to music since 1980.

Commonly found dancing at gigs or feverishly searching the internet for my latest music obsession.

That’s right folks, music is my best thing. When I dance is when I feel truly alive. My taste is eclectic, but the common thread would be my obsession with new music and discovering talented people when they are on their way up.

That time when I realised that Social Media is kind of a big deal

Social media; some love it some loathe it. I’m the former, as opposed to the latter. For me it opened up my world, changed my perspective and is one of the biggest things that supported my development into the truest version of myself, both personally and professionally. Bold statement huh? Well it’s true.

I was a reluctant adopter at first, forced by a friend to go on Facebook in 2007 and it made me feel massively uncomfortable,  I didn’t really post anything, just occasionally (reluctantly) got tagged in a hideous photo, that kind of thing. I joined LinkedIn in 2008, the next social network on my radar, and the one that’s gone on to become by far the biggest for me.

LinkedIn really was a real game changer from a professional standpoint. When I started out in recruitment in 2001 we still faxed CV’s to companies. Yes. That’s right. FAXED. So when it came to headhunting, that meant picking up the phone and trying to track down folks in roles that you thought might be relevant for what you needed. Trying to pin them down on the phone was murder. Then when you did, 9 times out of 10 they ended up not having quite the right skill set. Finding people on LinkedIn now is, quite literally, night and day.

LinkedIn also gave me a human face for the first time ever. People had to stop seeing Recruiters as creatures from another planet, and finally got to see that we were humans, just like them too. Suddenly they could also see our work history, our career choices, and most importantly; what other people thought about us. That was huge. 

My connections also gave me credibility – people would often connect based on connections in common in the early days and base that decision on how they perceive those people. It’s safe to say LinkedIn was therefore my first true social media love *swoons* and my network continues to blossom. 

In 2011 came Twitter. I’d recently jet propelled myself out of my unhappy life into a brave new world. When you have spent a substantial amount of time living for someone or something else, once you stop, one of the hardest things to do is to work out who the hell you are anyway. When I was a teenager, it was easy to pick my tribe, because I had a view of what all my options were, living in the small but perfectly formed City of Bristol, as I could see them. In 2011 as a ‘grown up’ living in London, I had no idea where to begin.

It was Twitter that gave me the chance to do exactly that. Twitter gave me a platform to connect back to my passions, plus discover a few new ones. Those passions focused around a few central themes; people, art and music.  

SoundCloud quickly followed; a universe of talented musicians and amazing remixes. Using SoundCloud, I was able to discover new music, find new music, make new friends, then share it all on Twitter. 

Then came Tumblr. A wonderful Universe of… STUFF. I mainly used this for art discovery, but some music also. My Tumbling is now minimal, having largely been replaced by Pinterest, which appeals to my OCD side, a brilliant collection of boards full of inspiring stuff. I use it as my go to place for ideas on a multitude of things. 

I spent about a year happily tweeting away, discovering amazing things, sharing those discoveries and connecting with amazing people. Many of those pixelated friends became real life friends, whether I’d actually ever met the person physically or not. 

Through making those connections, I quickly realised (to my delight) that the world was full of brilliantly talented weirdos, just like me. Each of us living, breathing, feeling, making mistakes, learning, growing and finding our own way through, silently rooting for one another, with a ‘like’ here, and a ‘favourite’ there.

Last came Instagram, and with that my love of photography was reborn. My confidence in terms of creative pursuits was truly bashed out of me at secondary school, so what a delight therefore to discover such an affinity with creativity and creative people in my 30’s, for that I am truly blessed.

Once I had found my groove, in terms of who I am in the world, my obsession with social media calmed down. I’m still very ‘active’ by most people’s standards, but I now don’t need to Instagram 8 times a day, or tweet every morning. I share when I feel compelled to and make observations when the mood takes me, rather than record every last minute of everything. I firmly believe though that without social media it would have taken me much longer to work out who I was, what I liked, and importantly, what makes my heart sing.

Social media has opened up my world exponentially, both personally and professionally, and I’m always up for trying the next new app to see what it has to offer. So even for those who hate social media, perhaps it’s worth considering whether your own networks might have been positively influenced by it’s existence, even just a little bit. 

That time when I learnt that kindness is everything

This week I was lucky enough to go to an event hosted by Lyrix Organix at the incredible Dalston Roof Park. It’s funny, there’s something that feels so magical about an evening spent on a rooftop for me. It’s probably because a little part of me feels like I’m not really meant to be there – so the rebel within me is happy.

Some of the most spiritually significant events I have been to in the past 3 years have been put on by Lyrix Organix. Events based on lyrical creativity, in many different forms, where I got absorb a diverse array of artistic talents, and took a huge amount of inspiration. Aside from events that span street, field and rooftop, they are also an organisation who do an incredible amount of work with young people.

This time we were all there to see ‘Time Is Illmatic’ by One 9, a brilliant documentary about a young man named Nasir Jones (you may have heard of him haha) and his upbringing in Queensbridge. If you haven’t already seen this film – watch it – simple as that. 

Prior to the movie we got to see Chester P flex his spoken word skills, then a Q and A with both him and Jonzi D, the creative genius behind Breaking Convention

Amidst this incredible line of up brilliance though, there is something that has occupied my thoughts ever since, and that is something that Chester P was kind enough to point out to us all. That is the art of kindness and it’s incredible importance. 

I pride myself on being kind as often as I am able. I see the link between the level of kindness I inject into my social interactions and what I get in return. You get out what you put in. If you don’t believe me – go into a coffee shop and be rude, and you will, 9 times out of 10, get that reflected right back. Go into the same coffee with a beautiful smile, and a genuine care for the person serving you, and you will find that not only do they radiate that beauty back to you – but I’m sure your coffee will taste even more delicious. There’s something magical in the world when people do things with love, and that’s what you will be tasting. If I ever catch myself being less than kind, I take the time to reflect on why that is, and make sure that I catch it before others feel it. 

But what Chester was talking about was something that I hadn’t even considered. He was talking about homelessness, and what it truly means to be homeless. 

I know many people who have been ‘homeless’, I was one of them for 8 months post divorce. But I was never without the love and kindness of my family and friends. They sheltered me physically, mentally and spiritually whilst I weathered my own tempestuous storm. For that I will be eternally grateful.

What Chester was talking about though, was next level homelessness. Homelessness that means sleeping rough, going hungry and generally being demoralised on a daily basis. He referred to the difficulty of people when they leave prison, having been institutionalised, and the difficulties that those people face when trying to re-integrate with society. For homeless people though, he told us, what happens to them is they become OUT-statutionalised. What this means is; because they feel so separate and outside of day to day society, they see no reason or means to get back in.

I had never considered this. 

He told us about a time when he hugged a woman and she broke down in tears, and she told him it was the first time another human had touched her in 7 years. Wow. Just wow. I can’t even begin to imagine how that must feel.

What Chester was telling us all to do, was not necessarily to give what we don’t have, financially speaking, he was telling us all to give the one thing we can give for free that carries the most value in the world – our time. 

My mum once said the same to me; the most generous gift that you can ever give a person is your time. And she’s right. And so is Chester.

He was simply telling us to stop; acknowledge this human being, spend some time with them, ask how they are doing, have a simple conversation. 

I have always felt a sense of sadness when I see people ignore the presence of another human being altogether; when they ask them if they want to buy the Big Issue, or if they can spare a little change. A simple no thank you would suffice.

But what we need to now is even more than that. What if we all pushed ourselves to go a little further, show people a little love and attention and take up Chester’s crusade? What if we show them we see them, and that we want them to be a part of our world – because we are them and they are us?

By showing people that they have value to us and that they matter, there’s a chance we could give them the desire to keep trying to help themselves. Those small acts of kindness could indeed add up to become the catalyst that makes them want to get to know us all again too. That’s got to be worth a go right?