[…] It gave her shivers even thinking about it, but she loved the rainforest in the daytime, she loved the wildness it spoke of; she felt at home there, way more at home than she felt in the structure of a city, there was something untamed and much more primal within her that she had always known, that she connected to. It made sense to her when she first saw Malaysia—its capital, where her mother grew up— was gritty, it wasn’t beautiful, it was living. It was a vast landscape, her motherland: of beaches, crystal clear water, jungle, mountains, tropical climate, sweet fruit, coconuts, humidity and chaos. It was her, it was within her. She never knew to fit in with the pale whiteness that had taken over London of late, the city she knew was eclectic, it made her sad but resigned to see it lose its colour, to see it stream from its face. Rather than reviving it she knew her energy was better off spent activating in areas that were excited to be alive, living and active. She would use her sword there.
— Jennifer Weng Han
A little something in honour of Malaysia’s historic election last week. A lot more where this came from. This isn’t autobiography, c’est tout. Xo —JM
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks
I went to sleep last night with such a disquiet in my spirit and when I woke this morning the heaviness on my heart just continued to grow. I am sure many of you reading this feel similarly, I live in London, and have a close friend who lives on the doorstep of the attacks that occurred here last night (he is thankfully safe and well) and so these events are particularly upsetting for me on a personal note. However, across the world just this weekend alone, 37 fellow brothers and sisters died in a human-led disaster wrought on a casino in Manila, reportedly due to debt and addiction, Al Jazeera is reporting that civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq by US-led coalition attacks are horrifically higher than official numbers have suggested (not forgetting that each of these ‘numbers’ is a life with a story and interwoven with so many others’), these three cases are deeply depressing and disheartening and yet they still barely scratch the surface of human suffering caused by other humans in this very moment.
As my phone lit up and buzzed last night with messages from some of my closest girlfriends speaking of fear, deep sadness and empathy for the situation happening in our city and I woke this morning feeling anxiety about even leaving my house and going to church in central London, something I do every week, I realised I had to arrest my thinking: “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 Amplified). Take your thoughts captive.
I was talking to one of my best friends en route to church (via voice note lol that’s kind of our thing) and she was essentially asking me how I can believe and trust in a God that seems to protect some but not others (the victims of the attack). I am not saying I have all the answers at all and this is not about to turn into a preach or some apologetics argument, but I basically said to her that we as humans need to recognise our own agency and capacity for perpetrating love and evil towards and against each other. As a church we always pray for global events, over global leaders and of course on such a sombre morning over our own city where some of the congregation had friends in hospital who were injured last night. On a personal level, I have been praying fervently for a while now for interception in the hearts of the perpetrators, in no way diminishing prayer for the victims and their families, but the real solution we need is prevention, not cure. We do not live in a vacuum, who is to say what motivates people to commit such horrific acts against fellow humans who they do not know? Who have been dehumanised to a target in their minds and become happy to sacrifice their own lives for what is perceived to be a higher cause? I have seen with my own eyes systemic racism rob young people of hope for a better future in a society where they are already underprivileged in one of the cities I have lived in, I am not saying this justifies actions, but I am saying we need to look at and address the root cause of what incites us to act in every single area of our lives.
Wherever there is a void or a lack, as humans we will fill it with something. This works on a primal level with lust to a deeper spiritual level, there is a desire for ‘something more’ inherent in our design. This is why I pray and will continue to for the heart of those who are contemplating or in the midst of planning acts of terror against their fellow generation to turn (I say generation here in the sense of everyone alive right now, breathing in and out the same atmosphere on this planet, all 7 billion of us). As I was worshipping this morning, singing with my fellow lovers of God and humanity louder and more joyfully than we even do usually (which was so beautiful to witness) I was asking God for words, words directly from His Spirit to mine. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” is what I heard. I looked it up (thank you Google) and there I have lighting up my screen Jesus, the man himself (for this purpose any personal beliefs about who he is are not relevant) and he is PREACHING (said with hair flick) as only he could. He’s a funny guy, the things he said were equally profound and perplexing, sometimes he would explain them in more depth and other times leave us to still be pondering them some 2000 years later. He is there, in front of “a large crowd” of men and women, from all over, and one of the many things he said essentially translates to that phrase we love to toss about in our everyday [speak from the heart, write from the heart, say what’s on your heart]: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). In other translations from the Hebrew it reads: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So I’m taking this space to speak life into being, “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates” (Hebrews 4:12).
Whatever we are full of and allow to speak into our minds and hearts, whether it be your Twitter feed, your closest friend, your Instagram audience or even the most well-meaning relative, will be the place which we operate from, react and act from. As I write this new terror plots are being hatched (not to be dramatic but just to be real), bombs are being built, atrocities are taking place and hatred is sinking deeper in the hearts of some. All I know to be true and stand upon is that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and that not one of us is called to act from a spirit of fear or timidity but that in actuality we have the choice to harness the real Spirit of power, love and self-control (or sound mind) that we have been given (2 Timothy 1:7). None of us know when our earthly lives, or those we love, will come to an end, but we all know that our days are numbered. It makes me so sad, it literally has made me weep to read of and see unfold the theft of life, attempts to spread fear, violence and heartbreak that we inflict upon each other. We cannot let fear cast out love in the face of such brutality. I don’t understand much to be honest, I think the older one gets the more you realise you really don’t know much about life you know (the real essence of it), but I do know that there is nothing new under the sun and that evil and human atrocity ain’t a new phenomenon. I grew up with my mum telling me stories that her mum had told her, about Chinese women and their unborn babies being killed, stomachs, uteruses and unborn children ripped out in the name of war, land and earthly “power”. My mum arrived in this country in the midst of fleeing from the terror that was perpetuating her home at the time. However, as darkness creeps closer in our neighbourhoods it is integral that we guard our hearts and incite those in our community to guard theirs.
Maybe these are just words to you, but hey, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so here are my thoughts, broken and poured out as a living sacrifice, or as David once said: “My heart is stirred by a noble theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1). I felt compelled to share a few things that had been impressed upon my spirit. Let’s not only care and remain vigilant, offering practical and spiritual assurance when it is on our doorstep, let’s pray without ceasing, intercepting where we can, and damn it, let’s be better human beings to one another in the little and large, full stop.
Let’s love harder, hold faith above the storm and: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life”, everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).
Another key Proverb to remember and allow to take root: Words kill, words give life; they’re poison or fruit–you choose (18:21).
Alice is a fireball of energy and light. It’s hard to describe unless you have met her in person, but she one of those rare people whose energy brings warmth to a room and radiates positivity. Funnily enough myself and a good friend who doesn’t know Alice very well but has met her a few times (via me) mentioned how incredible an aura she has just the other day. I think you will see what I mean via her words on this page.
As a general rule of thumb, I avoid saying what people ‘do’ in a 9-5 sense in this series as I think we tend to place too much value today upon the identity of someone through their doing rather than their inherent being. However, in this unique case, Alice’s passions and personal interests overflow so much into her work life that I couldn’t help but mention them. She is an incredible actress who I love watching in her element, an inspiring yogi (check out her classes at Blok, Frame and more via ClassPass where she unsurprisingly has rave reviews), part-time fairy (yes, wonderfully and seriously) and a full-time giver who sprinkles a little glitter and fairy dust wherever she goes. She inspires me as she is beating her own path and breaks every and any preconception you may have of how life and work should look and intertwine. She has the hardest work ethic of anyone I know and her energy is effervescent.
We met through mutual friends way back when we were about 16 (!) and were also in some of the same dance classes, becoming sisters in a friendship that has endured, deepened and blessed my life in countless ways ever since. Crazy to think that it’s been almost a decade since our stars aligned, but she is most definitely someone who I know in my bones I was meant to meet, a kindred spirit, fellow fighter and a woman who has blossomed and flourished before my very eyes. She is someone I can enjoy getting my nails done with as much as I can sharing a bottle of wine and an intense DMC (deep, meaningful conversation). We’ve shared many adventures together and she’s graced me with her presence in my adopted homes of Paris and Singapore over the last few years. My love and respect for this woman are ever-growing; I hope the little and large things that shape her thinking below will resonate and inspire you. She is so generous and giving in every way, that I am truly privileged to be able to honour her in this small way. SS: What did you last Google? AT: The actress Emma Thompson. I was explaining how amazing she is to someone who knew little of her. She is definitely one of my idols. Infectiously adorable and powerful on and off screen/stage. She’s one intelligent woman, effortlessly beautiful and elegant. She’s managed to balance an incredible career with family life that I feel is in itself so impressive and inspirational.
SS: What’s one app you love that we might not know about? AT: I have so few apps. I’m an old fashioned girl and try and embrace the ‘less is more’ approach to most of my life, including my phone. I avoided all dating apps, for example, for numerous reasons but mainly because I didn’t want or need another reason to look at my phone! I would say though that I’m a fan of ‘Y plan’. It gives you great, alternative day or nighttime ideas on how to spend your time. It’s also great for date inspiration too, for when you meet people in the actual flesh right?!
SS: What is your happy place? AT: Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath have always been my happy places in London. So close but yet so far from all the hustle and bustle. I’m a born city girl but have a thirst for nature and need space to clear my head and simply breathe. Primrose Hill gives me a bit of both. A patch of serenity and space in what feels like a snow globe city.
SS: What book are you currently reading or did you most recently finish? Would you recommend it? AT: The last book I bought but haven’t yet read is called ‘Assholes – A Theory’ by Aaron James. I bought it in America at the best bookshop I’ve ever been to – Powell’s in Portland. I was instantly drawn to it by the title and how there is a concept behind people’s behaviour that simply makes them assholes [Ed note: hilarious! Mental note, must visit this bookshop when in Oregon!] I was intrigued. I look forward to reading it. I’ve been studying a lot of yoga recently so my reading time has been taken up by that department [Ed note: Alice is always teaching me so much beautiful yoga knowledge from her learning and teaching. Most recently the sacred heart mudra which acts as a meditation by using a physical gesture to connect with your heart and consciousness.]
SS: Who embodies style with substance for you? AT: It would be a crime if I didn’t say Sarah Jessica Parker! Being the avid Sex and the City fan-since-birth that I am, it would be fundamentally wrong to not bow down to her on and off screen. She breaks the rules without trying to make a statement. It’s always done with grace and subtlety that I truly admire. You don’t have to be loud to be heard, you don’t have to push to make someone feel and I believe that is the same with fashion. When something grabs your attention for all the right reasons it doesn’t need to be abrasive or aggressive to get a message across. [Amen!!!] Her style is expressive but approachable. However not always affordable. The day I can easily afford 12 pairs of Manolo Blahniks will be a momentous day. [Yes, yes and yes again!]
SS: What is one lesson that you’ve learnt in the past year? AT: Patience. Simple as that. Patience really is a virtue.
SS: Do you have a favourite podcast? AT: Yes. Check out Greg Proops – ‘The smartest man in the world.’ I had the pleasure of watching him live in Portland at The Helium Comedy Club and he was both hilarious and fascinating. He’s a satirist and hands down gave me the best low-down of the US election I could have possibly wished for having been there at the exact time that sh!t was hitting the fan. He knows all the facts and is determined to spread them with laughter and anger running through his veins. A truly outstanding three hours were spent listening to the man hammer down on white supremacy, racism and misogyny.
SS: The first thing I do when I wake up is: AT: Look outside.
SS: What is your guilty pleasure? AT: Chocolate. I’m addicted. It’s a problem and I’m working on it. It’s all about control.
SS: If you could travel the world in a day, what pitstops would make and why? AT: I would love to spend half a year ‘chasing the sun’. So I would start in Italy where I feel my heart belongs, in the summer (probably the Amalfi Coast) and continue eastbound through Asia and Indonesia. I’d have to spend Christmas on the beach in Australia and then find my way to the West Coast of America, drive all the way across until I find Manhattan and then back home. My yoga mat would be my companion.
SS: Any final words of wisdom? AT: Have me as I am, or don’t have me at all—you are enough. That’s it.
I can’t think of a better thought to start the new year with (calendar and Lunar!) Wishing you all a blessed week wherever you are in the world, thank you Alice for sharing so honestly, hilariously and beautifully!
See Alice’s yoga blog and class schedule here. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alicetrow
Long time, no blog! Sincerest apologies for not writing in a while, life has been varied and busy! I have been doing a lot of writing and work for the professional rather than the personal side! But fear not, new content will be uploaded soon! I promise. One of my most fun and wonderful experiences of late was working with Tank Magazine and Tank Form (the creative consultancy), publishers of TANK, Becauselondon.com and the print issue of Because Magazine. Working in print was a new experience for me and one which was amazing! I love that Tank a company under the leadership of Masoud Golsorkhi and fashion powerhouse Caroline Issa is at the forefront of marrying print and digital with their free app, Fashion Scan. It makes the printed page come alive, like a pop-up book for adults, or an animated magazine, the first in the world! Very privileged to be a part of something cutting-edge and innovative and it was such a thrill to see my name on the masthead with the industry’s movers and shakers!
Anyway, here’s a curated portfolio of some of the professional work I’ve been up to, and more in the pipeline! I’ve been blessed to be in contact with editors and journalists around the world of late, so I’m excited about the opportunities to come.