Happy New Year from ILNI

“New beginnings are in order, and you are bound to feel some level of excitement as new chances come your way.” 

– Auliq Ice

Merry Christmas from The ILNI Team

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”

– Andy Rooney

At The End of 2019, There Is One Question We Shouldn’t Need To Ask

Do you believe in climate change? Apparently, this question is still being asked, in 2019, at the end of the warmest decade on record. Greta Thunberg, in a recent interview, described her frustration at this question. As she explained, climate change is an undeniable fact, yet so many people, including some of our leaders, are still of the view that climate change is something you either believe in or you don’t. 

Perhaps this is why recent negotiations at the COP25 UN climate change conference in Madrid broke-down.  Despite meeting for two weeks, representatives of our nations were unable to make any concrete agreement on the rules of a global carbon market as laid out in the Paris Agreement. Instead, the summit exposed the massive divides that exist around climate change. Ignoring dire warnings from scientists and the protests of global citizens, our leaders showed they do not believe in climate change enough to enact the urgent measures we need to slow it. 

What is hard to comprehend is that nations who have personally and recently experienced the impact of climate change, Australia, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia all refused to sign onto anything more than a watered-down set of carbon market rules. The US made it clear that climate change is not something they believe in when Donald Trump filed the paperwork to remove the United States from the Paris Agreement. Further, his administration has worked to block any provisions that might hold their nation responsible for climate change-related damages in the future. 

Do you believe in climate change? Flooding in St Mark's square Venice

Asking an adult if they still believe in Santa Claus would be an insult to their intelligence, so too is asking if someone believes in climate change.  Climate change is not a belief; it is real and is impacting the world in dramatic ways. One only needs to look at the images of St Mark’s square in Venice flooded in more than a metre of water or of the massive bush fires currently burning in Australia and Brazil to know that the world’s climate is changing, rapidly. 

According to the UN, there is at least one climate change-related disaster happening every week. This decade has been one of exceptional global heat, record retreating ice and rising sea levels.  Ocean heat is also at a record high, and the saltwater is 26% more acidic than at the start of the industrial era. Heatwaves and floods which used to be “once in a century” events are happening with alarming regularity. We have seen massive wildfires sweeping through parts of the Arctic, Brazil, the US and Australia. Vast areas of Asia, Africa and Australia are experiencing exceptional long-term drought conditions.  And, just this year, two record-breaking heatwaves spread across Europe in the summer. 

Climate change is not something one chooses to believe in. It is not a myth or a conspiracy theory. Our focus, and the focus of our leaders, must turn to solutions to this global problem. It is time to put aside the childish idea of believing or not, and admit we have a real problem that needs to be solved, together. As Antonio Guterres told leaders at the opening of the COP25 “We have the tools, we have the science, we have the resources. Let us show we also have the political will that people demand from us. The decisions we make here will ultimately define whether we choose a path of hope or a path of surrender”.  

Greta Thunberg also stood before these world leaders telling them ‘The climate emergency is not a future problem, it is something that is already affecting us, people are suffering and dying from it today.’. 

But, once again, world leaders in a summit dedicated to climate change, have still not grasped the urgency of this crisis. 

Our movements must be bigger than recycling and braver than holding signs. 

Rose Whipple, Teenage Climate Activist

Joyful, Feel-Good Books For the Christmas Break

When all the hustle and bustle of Christmas dinner is over, we love nothing better than to put our feet up and relax into a great book. For this Christmas season we wanted to share with you the books that have brought us joy. Here is our list of feel-good books to keep you warm and cosy this winter.

Laughter on the Stairs

Beverley Nichols 

This delightful book about life at Merry Hall is the perfect book to lose yourself in for a few hours. Having revived the gardens of the Georgian home he bought in book one, this book focuses on the renovation of the house, and the removal of the mistakes from the previous owners, Along the way the reader is introduced to unforgettable characters, Miss Emily, Our Rose and Marius. 

Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose

Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness is the story of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and how he created a corporate culture with a commitment to service and improving the lives of his employees, customers and vendors. Hsieh talks about how companies can achieve fantastic success by sticking to their core values, learning how to ‘deliver WOW through service’ and create a happiness culture that extends beyond the workplace.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Mark Manson

A tell it like it is book by superstar blogger, Mark Manson, this is a refreshingly blunt book against the current cultural belief that positive thinking will fix everything. He cuts through the noise to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. In his words ‘There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter’. This book will grab you with entertaining stories, ruthless humour and an alternative view on the pursuit of Happiness.

Julie and Julia – My Year of Cooking Dangerously

Julie Powell

A laugh-out-loud book following the author’s attempt to revive her life by cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s 1961 classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. A feast of a feel-good book that just may encourage you to spend a lot more time in your kitchen.

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams

No list of joyful books would be complete without this one. Two of the world’s greatest spiritual masters, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, share their wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity. The Book of Joy is filled with their stories, their teachings on happiness and the daily practises they follow. The core message from these two spiritual leaders is that to have joy yourself, you must bring joy to others.


Michelle Obama

As the first African American woman to serve as the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama emerged as one of the most iconic and influential women of our times. In Becoming she invites readers into her world, by weaving a story of the experiences that have shaped her. Filled with blunt honesty and lively humour, Michelle describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.

The Art of Looking Up

Catherine McCormack

The Art of Looking up is a stunning book that captures 40 of the world’s most treasured ceilings. Filled with impressive photography and a fantastic commentary on the conception, execution and the artists who created these astounding ceilings. Discover a new way of seeing these iconic ceilings:

  • Vatican Palace, Rome, Italy
  • Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, UK
  • Louvre Museum, Paris, France
  • Dali Theatre-Museum, Figueres, Catalonia
  • Museum of the Revolution, Havana, Cuba
  • Capitol Building, Washington, DC, USA

If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir

Om Swami

As a young boy, Om Swami moved to Australia to chase his dreams of success and wealth. Despite all his dreams coming true and becoming a multi-millionaire, he felt deeply frustrated by a life of seeking God in all the wrong places. His unquenchable desire to explore his spirituality prompted him to give up his high-flyer life and move to India to live in solitude in the Himalayas. Finally finding his sadhana he is now considered one of the foremost spiritual leaders in India, and perhaps the only monk with an MBA and a Business Computing Degree from the University of Sydney. A Monk’s Memoir is his honest story of this journey.

You know you have read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend

12 International Gift Giving Blunders That Could Ruin Your Christmas

When it comes to giving gifts to friends and family internationally, it is essential to know how to avoid insulting or offending anyone with your well-intentioned gift. Here are 12 of the most important gift-giving blunders to avoid this Christmas.

1. Refusing a Gift

When giving a gift in China, be aware that it is customary for the recipient to refuse the gift three times before finally accepting it. As the giver, you must continue to insist on giving the gift until the recipient agrees to accept it. Don’t fall for the blunder of thinking your friend doesn’t want the gift! 

2. Giving The Gift of Time

In Hong Kong, the gift of a clock is a major no-no. In Cantonese the word for clock ‘sung jung’ sounds the same as the farewell you would say to a dying person. 

3. Red Christmas Cards

In Japan it is essential to avoid giving red Christmas cards as this is the colour of funeral cards announcing a death. 

4. Evoking sadness

In Italy, a gift of a brooch, handkerchief or knives symbolizes sorrow. In Japan white flowers are a symbol of mourning, while in Hong Kong a gift wrapped in blue or white signifies mourning. Do not give a bunch of even-numbered flowers in Russia as these are reserved for funerals. Also, avoid lilies, yellow flowers or carnations. 

5. Inadvertently breaking off a friendship

Sending a gift of knives, scissors or sharp objects in China or Hong Kong indicates that your friendship is over; severed with the sharp gift. In Korea, signing a card or letter with red ink also shows the relationship is over. 

6. Giving the wrong message with your gift:

Beware of giving hats in China as a gift of a green hat to a man indicates his wife has been unfaithful to him. In Italy beware when gifting flowers; red flowers indicate secrecy, while yellow flowers indicate jealousy.

7. Inappropriate Giving

In Kuwait, if a man must give a gift to a woman, he should say that it is from his wife, mother, sister, or some other female relative to avoid inappropriateness. 

8. Don’t take offence

In Saudi Arabia, the recipient of a gift is likely to open it and give it a very close examination. Others in the room may also want to examine it. Don’t take offence; this is the way of showing appreciation for the gift. Likewise, don’t take offence in China or Japan if the recipient does not open your gift. These cultures consider it rude to open a gift in front of the giver. They will open it later when they are alone. 

9. It is not always the thought that counts

In Korea when a person receives a gift, it is customary for them to give another gift of similar value in return at a later time. It is, therefore, essential to give a gift that it is compatible with the recipient’s economic means because if he or she cannot reciprocate, they will feel a loss of face. 

10. Ripping open a gift

In Thailand it is considered the height of rudeness to rip open a gift. Wrapping paper should be carefully removed, folded and put to one side. 

11. Giving a Gift

In Yemen, giving a gift to anyone who is not an intimate friend is so embarrassing as to be offensive. It is also not done to express admiration for something belonging to another as they will then feel obliged to gift it to you.

12. Being too generous

If you are giving a gift in Russia, keep it simple and inexpensive or risk the recipient seeing it as a form of bribe. In Thailand also give inexpensive gifts or risk the recipient refusing it due to embarrassment over the cost. 

The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than its value.