Visualizing the Future of Pride with Kodo Nishimura

Who are some of your role models within the LGBTQ+ community and why?

Anyone unafraid to be who they are can be a great role model. One of my role models is a professor at my art school, Parsons School of Design in New York. Growing up, I used to feel that being part of the LGBTQ+ community meant something unsophisticated, associated with sexual connotations and wild parties. However, my art professor was so poised, leading the Fine Arts Department I was in. He was stylish, wise, and well-respected. He was not shy at all about sharing the presence of his husband. This was different from the “stereotypical gay man” often negatively mocked in the Japanese media. His presence showed me that people from the LGBTQ+ community are diverse and limitless. I learned that there is nothing to hide about my sexuality, and I was able to come out proudly thanks to him. Now, I hope to show that a Buddhist monk can also be a proud homosexual with my existence.

What does Pride Month mean to you personally? 

We have to be proud of ourselves always, but having a reminder like Pride Month is a great way to reflect on how far we have come and the obstacles we still have to overcome. For example, in Japan, we still do not have the right to marriage equality. During the Pride Parade in Tokyo, people say “Happy Pride” as a slogan. Some criticize that we are not truly “happy” because we still lack certain rights. However, the situation in Japan is slowly improving. My motto is that, even in difficult situations, we should always work for equality, focusing on the happiness that can come from change, and trying to enjoy the process. I don’t want to ruin my everyday smiles with constant anger about injustice.

How do you envision the future of Pride Month celebrations? 

I think what we celebrate each year varies, depending on the events and progress of that year. I hope that in the future, we will be able to look back at the present and celebrate how much progress we have made. It is up to us to visualize and realize the future that we want to live in!

What message would you like to share with readers about the importance of self-acceptance?

I want to share my realization that we should always feel valuable and never feel inferior to others for any reason. One of the reasons Buddhism was introduced 2,500 years ago was to liberate people from discrimination. With my book, “This Monk Wears Heels: Be Who You Are,” I hope to share my personal stories of overcoming feelings of inferiority as a homosexual, along with the Buddhist teachings I learned from my monk training. My mission is to encourage you to follow your heart and shine in your own unique color.

Kodo Nishimura’s book This Monk Wears Heels: Be Who You Are is available now at all good book retailers. Follow his Instagram @kodomakeup to keep up with his latest endeavours.

Book Extract: She Fights Back by Joanna Ziobronowicz

As children, we are often told stories about good prevailing over evil, and about that elusive “happily ever after”. As little girls, we may be taught that if we’re obedient, we will be rewarded for our goodness. When we grow up, some of us realize that always conforming and always being kind can threaten our boundaries, shatter our sense of self-worth, and at times, expose us to trauma.

I wouldn’t be writing this book if I myself hadn’t fallen victim to detrimental cultural conditioning, psychological trauma and physical attacks that I had to overcome. It took many years and many uncomfortable life lessons to cultivate a strong sense of self-belief, as well as to acquire the valuable physical skills needed to protect myself, but these experiences were necessary in helping me understand what women need to do to keep themselves safe.

After years of working in the security sector, I’ve learned that in addition to relying on my martial arts skillset, it is also crucial to stay alert and keep a watchful eye over people and surroundings.

When I was working in security, threats could come from anyone and anywhere, often when I least expected them. All it took was one moment of inattention to be caught off-guard. However, over time, I found common patterns and warning signs that allowed me to spot and assess threats early on, leading to more efficient responses.

By watching my work colleagues handling conflicts, and also by getting involved in various physical interventions myself, I came to realize that some of the most critical aspects of self-defence are having confidence in your own abilities, and having conviction in your actions. I noticed that these qualities were primary drivers for performance, and for finding solutions when faced with highly triggering situations. Today, I know that I could teach you how to impeccably execute the most effective self-defence moves, but without the ability to assert yourself and without self-belief in your capabilities, they won’t be enough. 

I observed similar psychological aspects of performance during my sports career, both as a coach and as an active competitor in various martial arts. With over 23 years of training experience, I have seen that high performance is fuelled by incredibly strong self-belief, unwavering conviction, and a razor-sharp mindset. I’ve studied alongside world-class athletes, have competed at the highest level, and time and time again I’ve demonstrated, both to myself and those that I coached, that everything begins in the mind. I’ve seen exceptionally talented athletes freeze before tournaments, mentally giving up before even setting foot into the competition arena. I’ve learnt that a champion is made not just through appropriate physical preparation, but also through a strong mental drive toward their actions and achievements.

With this in mind, we should explore both the physical and psychological aspects of self-defence. If you want to win your battles, it’s time to acknowledge and build upon the confidence that will enable you to assert your rights, stand up for yourself, and stay physically prepared.


She Fights Back by Joanna Ziobronowicz is publishing July 9th 2024 and is available to pre-order now.

Secrets From A Herbalist’s Garden: A Refreshing January Detox

by Jo Dunbar

After all the jollifications of Christmas and New Year, our livers and kidneys have had quite a lot to deal with.  Overindulgence in festive treats can leave us feeling a bit bloated, with dulled skin and less than sparkling eyes.  Whereas a detox is not usually an enticing idea in January, it can be quite a welcome practice, especially if it is delicious, convenient, and healthy. 

‘Freshness’ and a ‘clean sweep’ are the keywords for January, and in our diet, we look for those qualities too. Juices, smoothies, vegetable soups and warming salads are all welcome additions to our day, as are bracing country walks which unlock cramped muscles and work up a bit of warmth to burn off toxins and calories. 

Where to begin?

It is most important to make sure that our bowels are emptied easily and at least daily. When the bowels are clogged, the toxins which have been filtered by the liver cannot be excreted, and are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.  This is clearly not helpful for our well-being. To encourage at least one full bowel movement each day, 2 dessert spoons of chia seeds soaked in water every day, will safely and reliably encourage a cleansing bowel movement. Chia seeds are very safe, but if you are on medication, it is best to take your seeds at a different time of the day from that of your medicines.

Our livers are really hard-working stoics. Not only are they a major organ of detoxification, but they also perform over 500 functions that contribute to the smooth running of our internal environments. Signs of liver stress only appear very late, so it is a good practice to lighten the load by eating foods that support the health of this organ. 

The kidneys are another major organ of detoxification, and with heavy protein meals, alcohol and possibly not enough hydration, they too have had to work extra hard over the festive period. 

Our skin and lungs are also organs of elimination. Toxins are released through the out-breath and also via the sweat glands, thus a hearty and brisk walk if possible, through clean country air, or at least in a city park, will work up a sweat and strong breathing.  More than that, simply being in nature calms down the brainwaves of our over-thinking minds, and reconnects us to the perfect electromagnetic fields of the earth.  Walking can bring us into a peaceful meditative state where our mind can let go of that which is no longer useful, and we can dream of what we want to bring into our lives. 

Here are some cleansing recipies to help you with your January detox.

Cleansing Tea:

A simple infusion of boiling water, with a slice of lemon, a few slices of fresh ginger, and a sprig of rosemary will help to flush the liver, washing toxins into the bowel. 

If you have a juice extractor, try the following recipe for deliciously refreshing liver and kidney detox:

  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 1 raw beetroot
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ apple
  • A 6 cm piece of cucumber
  • A slice of fresh lime, skin on. 
  • A small piece of fresh turmeric
  • A small piece of fresh ginger. 
  • A handful of fresh mint.   

Make a vibrant detox salad:

  • A plate of salad leaves especially rocket, watercress and chicory. (stimulates bile flow)
  • Add young dandelion leaves for extra tang (diuretic, kidney cleansing)
  • In the middle of the plant, place a large dollop of humus (high in anti- oxidant selenium)
  • Surrounding the humus, place four globe artichokes (those preserved in olive oil are fine), quartered.  (stimulates bile flow)
  • Then scatter over the whole plate some slices of freshly cooked beetroots (anti-inflammatory, high in nutrients, reduces blood pressure)
  • Garnish with slices of orange (reduces live fat)
  • Sprinkle generously with fresh coriander leaves (kidney support)
  • Top with a tablespoon of pistachio nuts (may help with weight loss)

A beautifully illustrated guide to providing safe herbal remedies for common health conditions, while restoring our comforting connection to the year’s natural rhythm. 

Secrets from a Herbalist’s Garden by Jo Dubar is available from 10th May 2022 and to pre-order now.

Talking About Therapy With Your Partner

By Karin Blak

The prospect of talking with our partner about therapy can leave us feeling exposed and vulnerable: admitting to needing psychological or emotional help can evoke anxieties of being seen as weak or letting our partner down in some way. We can worry that our partner will not understand or perhaps that they will leave us, believing we are not who they thought we were.

The truth is that in most cases our partner will already have noticed that we are struggling in some way and may even have considered the possibility that we need a little help. They might have seen a change in our behaviour or reaction in our daily lives. Perhaps we are more tired than usual, or we have lost a spark. Whatever is going on inside of us will be reflected in our reactions to the world outside of us. No matter how we try to disguise our struggles, something will leak through in our interactions with others.

How to talk with our partner about therapy

Talking with our partner about therapy may come as a relief to them as well as us. Our conversations will not necessarily consist of the intimate details of our therapeutic sessions, these are confidential to us as well as the therapist, but will be about our experiences of the therapeutic process.

The reason for us seeking therapy will be a good starting point. Talking about what we struggle with and how we experience this can be the beginning of our partner understanding our inner world. Getting to know a deeper part of us will help to create the supportive space that is so important for the success of therapy.

Talking about our fears and hopes for therapy as we prepare for the first session will be like reaching our hand out for our partner to steady us. It is quite normal to have worries about the first session or two, until we get to know the therapist and the usual process of sessions.

Once therapy is under way and we engage fully with the process, there may be times when we prefer to contemplate our therapeutic conversation before we engage with our partner about our experience, carefully selecting what we want to talk about. On the other hand, there might be times when we want to discuss the detail to clarify issues or to feel supported.

The benefits of talking

Talking about therapy will open the door to our experiences being accepted and understood in our relationship, creating a space where our partner can support us and we can accept their contribution. For most couples, this open and honest dialogue is more likely to bring the two of us closer together than push us apart.

Letting our partner in to our inner world while we are in therapy can open up an avenue to deepening our relationship. Both of us sharing emotional experiences and thoughts that bother or intrigue us, will contribute to a closer bond between us.

Of course, if we haven’t got a partner, or our partner is the very reason why we are in therapy, having a trusted friend or family member to talk with about our therapeutic experiences will provide us with an alternative source of that much needed support through therapy.

Karin Blak is a qualified couples counsellor, family therapist, and psychosexual and relationship therapist. In 2019 she received the East Midlands SME Most Dedicated Relationship Therapist award. Karin has worked at GP surgeries, inpatient units, Sure Start Centres, Relate, Connexions, and in private practice, and sat on the ethics board at the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT). She has spoken on BBC Radio and blogs on Medium about relationships and self-development topics.

Karin’s book, The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy is for those currently in therapy, seeking therapy, considering returning to therapy, or supporting a loved one through it.

The book is available now in multiple formats; order your copy here.

Read to Succeed: Watkins’ top picks for Expect Success Month

Did you know that February is ‘Expect Success Month’?

Expect Success Month is a time to focus on the most powerful secrets and techniques for creating the life of your dreams, but some of us may need a little help knowing where to start. Here are Watkins’ top picks for books you should read to help you succeed.

Success is Not a Fluke by Alon Ulman

Success is not a fluke. It has clear rules that can be learned. Alon Ulman, Ironman, bestselling author and renowned practical success speaker, shares how to gain immediate control of your life, and make any dream a reality in just six essential steps.

Available from 9th March in multiple formats. Click here to pre-order your copy.

Ahead of her Time by Judy Piatkus

An inspiring memoir by entrepreneur Judy Piatkus, who launched her startup at a time when mothers were not expected to be businesswomen and grew it into a highly successful international brand. The story of a pioneer of female entrepreneurship, values-led management and the rise of personal development publishing. 

Available from 13th April in multiple formats. Click here to pre-order your copy.

Dream, Believe, Succeed by Camilla Sacre-Dallerup

Camilla Sacre-Dallerup is a professional dancer who found fame on the BBC television show Strictly Come Dancing. Her revealing autobiography filled with practical, motivational techniques, giving the perfect insight into what inspires Camilla and how you can use the same techniques to change your life.

Available in multiple formats. Click here to purchase your copy.  

Positively Wealthy by Emma Mumford

Positively Wealthy is the #1 Amazon bestselling guide to manifesting abundance for those who want to redefine the meaning of wealth in their lives.This is a spiritual yet practical guide to succeeding with money, including daily steps to shift your money mindset and offering spiritual guidance to radically improve your financial and mental wealth.

Available in multiple formats. Click here to purchase your copy.  

Positively Wealthy Journal by Emma Mumford

Perfect for fans of Emma Mumford’s best-selling Positively Wealthy, this accompanying journal is packed with hands-on tips and prompts from money journaling ideas to weekly check ins to live a happier, richer life. It’s the perfect journal to help you feel empowered to organise and take control of your finances while manifesting a life filled with wealth, purpose, happiness, abundance and peace.

Available in multiple formats. Click here to purchase your copy.  

Do the Work You Love by Joe Barnes

Taking the reader on a journey from discovering a marketable passion to generating an income from it, this book is a practical guide to tackling one of the key questions of our era: how to make a living doing the thing you love.

Available in multiple formats. Click here to purchase your copy.  

Click here to discover more insightful books from Watkins Publishing.

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