Sometimes, just sometimes, life has a way of making itself felt with an almighty slap that sending you tumbling off your feet with no idea of where you will land. My philosophy has always been that sometimes fate just steps in and gives you a push into the direction you were to afraid to take for yourself. Other times perhaps it is simply because we were taking too much for granted and merely needed a sharp reminder to be just that little bit more grateful for the things that we do have. There is no doubt that most of us are guilty of complacency when it comes to our lives and often do not cope well when change upsets our little world and everything in it.
When i was small it all seemed so easy. I had my life mapped in a fairytale way that only a child can imagine and never at so young an age did it occur to me to think any differently. I may not have liked everything nor been happy with it but since it was all i had ever known i accepted it as a given and never had the thought to even try and change any aspects of it. As a child, even when things are not perfect, we do not really see nor really register the less than ideal but merely accept it as it is. We simply do not know any different and therefore have no reason to hope for more. Only when exposed to situations more idealistic than our own do we sometimes wonder what life may be like if we were someone else. I never imagined for myself the life that i have now. Never did i imagine going wthout nor sacrificing until you wonder if you have anything left to give. No, for me i imagined a glamorous lifestyle and a handsome husband who adored me.
As i should have realised, life does not work out in such a fairytale way for most of us and even those we imagine living the perfect lives have their own regrets and unhappiness. Perhaps then it is not merely what you have that makes you happy but your perception of it. Is it enough to have money, esteem and material things or perhaps is it a case of the more that you have, the more you want. Whilst it is a good thing to have things to want and aspire to, to be without dreams makes life not much of a life at all, there comes a point when perhaps the wanting is not merely for ourselves but more to appear credible and successful to others. What hope of happiness when we rely on others to give us some sense of worth, yet will living our lives for others give us the feeling of success we crave? Will it make us happy? At the end of the day when doors are closed and we are alone, there is only our own reflection looking back at you in the mirror. It is then that perhaps you realise that without a love for yourself and a sense of inner peace, the regard of others does not count for much at all.
Life is sent to test us. Some of us more than others and whilst the instinct may be to bury our heads in the sand and ignore that which is happening, sometimes the solution is to stand up tall and weather the onslaught the best way we can. Perhaps we will emerge a little battered and we may need to pick ourselves back up from the floor, but sometimes we can rebuild a better stronger version of what was there before. It is easy to be swept along by the tide and overwhelmed the the deluge that life occasionally throws our way but if you do not swim just that little bit harder then it is so easy to be washed away and drown in the tides of life.
I have lost my focus of late because i forgot to remember to count my blessings. I fell victim to the need to feel sorry for myself when circumstances dealt me a decline in fortunes. So focused was i on what i had lost and what i no longer had that i forgot about those things that i do. In hindsight all i have done is waste months of my life on worry, regret and upset when really i should have stuck out my chin and taken the blow. We never lose everything, there is always something left to cling to even when it seems like we have nothing left at all. It is that one thing we need to hold on to and start building upon it until we have more than we had the day before. Even as i am I am fortunate, i somehow forgot that along the way, but there is no doubt that i AM fortunate. Whilst i could definitely have more than i do right now there is no doubt i could easily have a lot, lot less. I have been there before and i will try to remember how far i have come.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Oh yes, i am fortunate.
So you’re listening to the whizzes and bangs screaming merrily outside your window? A flash of brightly coloured light illuminates a room signalling only one thing….it’s christmas right???
Once upon a time when i was about knee high, i remember a time when christmas began in December. As soon as the calendar clicked round to the magical date of the 1st we knew we could start looking forward to that distant day that Santa came to visit. Few tv adverts and the shops did not start to decorate and sell their wares until the magical date of the 1st came along. With this modern day of materialism and consumerism comes a new form of ‘christmas’ that actually begins sometime in March. Where once before the shelves would have been devoid of anything remotely festive there now lurked a small stash of post christmas goodies overstocked by the stores in hopeful abundance. Nestling colourfully next to already long present Easter eggs and fluffy bunnies, the post season miscreants sit dolefully waiting for some cash strapped bargain hunter to snap them up.
Forward a few months to September. Yes you read right…September and supermarket shelves are stealthily filling with christmas goodies and the usual tinned chocolate mountain lies in wait at the entrance to every store. Overhead banners scream out ‘start saving now for christmas’ making you double take and check that it really is September. Further forward to Halloween and the subtle displays have spawned like a fed post midnight Mogwai leaving a vast array of gifts, confectionary and general festive season frippery weaving its way like some madly growing triffid around every store.
A shame for you then if you dearly wish to be of the old school variety and keep Christmas firmly in December where it belongs. No escape as every corner assaults your senses with some promotion or other making it an impossible feat to avoid them. Forward to Bonfire night when thoughts should be of Guy Fawkes, fireworks and cinder toffee but instead brings the advent of the christmas tv advert. ”Buy your sofa now in time for christmas” it chirps enticingly, whilst little blue aliens on a snowy screen remind us of all those things we do not need but will want anyway just because we’re supposed to. As the gunpowder pops and bangs outside my door i see yet more gift adverts followed by yet more for festive food. Already wearing thin i can feel myself mentally sighing ‘humbug’
I love Christmas do not get me wrong. Perhaps these days though the enjoyment and fun of it all has been gradually eaten away by a never before felt kind of pressure and a commercialism that detracts from the day in a very big way. Me, i think i shall continue to ignore the oh so early signs and continue as i did as a child. My countdown to christmas will begin two weeks before the day and only then will my youthful enjoyment break free and let me again enjoy the day. Sometimes i think we are so controlled by the power of advertising that by the time the event arrives we forget to enjoy it, but instead just heave a sigh of relief that it is over.
Jingle bells?? I dont think so!
I wonder how often we ever stop and think about the things we say. Most of us very rarely do unless we are aware, due to conscience, that what we are about to say is offensive or hurtful. Sadly even then there are those with none, who just do not care and will say whatever they wish regardless of consequence or resulting feelings. Even knowing they are causing hurt to others is of no matter since they feel little empathy for the other person and pay no heed to the results of their actions.
Ordinarily i am not a person to pay mind to the cutting words or tones of others and have over the years developed a disregard for the negative opinions of those around me. Having always been a strong personality with more than a little resilience, i wear a very thick skin with all the aplomb of an armoured knight of Medieval England. Lately however, perhaps due to a very stressful period in my life i find that where once i should smile and ignore, i find i now take more to heart than i did before. Strangers i more easily can forgive but not so those verbal wounds from those closer to me. Unless for good reason one does not expect to be on the receiving end of an unkind comment or harsh tone of voice from a friend or loved one.
So often lately i find myself biting my tongue and apologising profusely where once a simple heartfelt ”i’m sorry” would have sufficed. It seems these days people are not so ready to accept an apology unless it comes so often as to be almost of begging and pleading proportions. Forgiveable yes when the apology is merely a platitude but is it so forgiveable when the apology is a genuine one? I myself am not a lover of discord and conflict and often will remain secretly agitated by an unpleasant situation even if i pretend on the surface that i am not. Yes, i confess i am one of those who sleeps badly at the slightest upset in my life these days, perhaps as the result of a metaphoric straw upon an already overloaded camels’ back. Perhaps a lifetime of being the peacemaker and backing down for the sake of harmony is wearing thinner than it should. Yes i confess i secretly nurse the odd hurt although i hide it well since to confess it often draws out the cause and in turn makes it all the worse.
Yes it seems we really have lost the ability to be nice to each other. It seems that verbal abuse, cutting tones and blatant name calling are the norm of the day with once derogatory names such as ‘bitch’ now being used in everyday language as an acceptable term to refer to ones female friends. Not a term i can say i wish to be referred to by. If it is the norm for you to open your mouth and something unkind or unpleasant come from it perhaps then it says more about you as a person than about me. However often i hear this and no matter how much i try and pretend otherwise i cannot lie and say it does not hurt and even knowing that sometimes the comments were made in jest do not detract from their meaning nor their destination.
Myself i think i prefer to remain silent. I was taught by a very good kind person that it is better to say nothing than to say something unpleasant and i hold firmly to those principles. Whilst i will defend if attacked i will never knowingly inflict on others anything hurtful that has the intent to cause bad feeling. I shall not lie for i believe honesty to be a must in all cases no matter the consequences but i shall not deliberately set out to hurt another with the force of my words.
Profanity and abuse may be the norm in todays society but only if we continue to subscribe to it. Somewhere along the line someone has to take a stand and lead by example by refraining from doing as others do. Words are a most powerful weapon and used in the wrong hands can wound with invisible scars. A most famous quote springs to mind ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ , i wonder had the author seen todays society he might have changed just a little and quoted ‘the spoken word is mightier than the sword’
Words…will yours hurt or heal today??
As the telephone crashes down signalling the abrupt and rude end to yet another work related interaction i cannot help but heave a sigh. Positive thoughts come rushing to the forefront of my mind as usual, telling me to pay no heed. A now well worn smile pastes itself to my face and out of habit i adopt a bright cheery tone to deal with my customers. A smile on the face, so i’m told, reflects itself in the tone of the voice and i am careful to heed this advice. I should not like to come across as stern or forbidding. I like to pretend i am developing a thick skin when on the receiving end of less than pleasant treatment but i know i really am not. You cannot help but be affected when people talk to you in such a way even if logic tells you they do not mean it. In truth though many do and just do not really care. But never would i let that show that i care and i pretend as hard as i can that i really do not mind at all.
Occasionally some bright cheery soul is on the other end of the line and a few moments of happy banter ensues but more often followed by dismissal and undisguised rudeness that would make my grandmother turn in her grave. Not being as social a creature as perhaps i could be i wonder if the general interaction between we humans has deteriorated rapidly, sliding a slippery downhill slope that i had failed to notice. What happened to us all? How did we become so uncaring of others and the world around us that we behave with such contempt and bad demeanor. towards others.
I’d like to hope i am a nice person although as i have said before i am not one who is overly sociable. I certainly can give a pleasing appearance of being so but in truth i prefer the company of one or two people whom i am both familiar with and close to. Unlike most people i am perfectly at ease with my own company and when left alone can happily while away many an hour without craving company from anyone else. When i do i find the number of people i seek company from to be very small. At some point i did wonder if perhaps my own semi solitary nature drew forth such response from people but i know that i interact extremely well in social settings so this is evidently not so. I get along very well with almost everyone, i just choose to keep myself to myself.
All this being said i try extremely hard to remain as pleasant and friendly as i can for i am very aware of the need to be agreeable to others. Mindful of both my own manners and the treatment of those others at my hands. If perhaps i can be labelled as a bit of a doormat then this is hopefully my only failing and of detriment to nobody but myself. Still ,however bright a visage you try and maintain, you cannot help but come to a point where such endless misery and rudeness begins to haul you down. Grey enveloping hands dragging you down into the depths of depression that is hard to avoid even with such a positive attitude. I cannot help but feel that sometimes i should just like to fly away to somewhere quiet and not have to deal with other peoples rudeness and bad manners. Far away from the trials and tribulations of daily life to yet again rebuild my positive armor and become once again the sunny eternal optimist i always was. This is a person i seem to have lost somewhat of late and i find i am most unlike myself at present.
How ironic then that i choose to daily deal with the public and leave my small emotional ship at the mercy of waves of unfeeling negativity. But i am learning very well how to row this little ship of mine and it is time again to turn towards the open sea and row steadily towards the oncoming storm. Still i can find a smile and i shall keep my eyes firmly upon the horizon looking for that small ray of sunlight peeping its way through to shine a happy glow my way.
Yes i still have it….do you?
So another birthday comes along. Another year has gone on its merry way, another ring has been added to the tree of my life.
I have to confess i do not much like birthdays, that is to say i love to celebrate other peoples but i am far from having any fond feelings for my own. Too many unpleasant memories are barely tempered by slightly more enjoyable ones of late. Alas the negative wins out by sheer number for want of any other reason.
As perhaps is typical i mourned the loss of another year and then began to ponder my place in life in relevance to my remaining years. At first, of course, it was easily done to follow the thought paths leading to wondering how many years i may have left and whether i will achieve the many things i would like to within my lifetime. Where will i be ten years from now? What will i be? Who will i love?
Strangely unbidden a quote popped into my head that much disturbed my train of thought and i wondered perhaps if we are so guilty of forever wanting more that we forget to live and enjoy the life we actually have.
”First give time to your love, family and friends. Who will remember your presentations, meetings, degrees and overtime after you died?”
I have no idea why that thought popped in my head and i sat and mused about it for a while. Whilst it is true that those very famous of us may be remembered for the things we did, the rest of us in general will not. Of all the people who are no longer in my life i confess i do not particularly remember what they did as a career, nor do i know their qualifications or if they were given awards or recommendations. Yet what i do remember long after they are gone is the kind of people they were and the roles they held in my life. For that i miss them greatly and yet for no other reason than that. They may have achieved great things, true enough, yet strangely it matters very little now that they are no longer here and those deeds have long since faded. Yet i shall remember those people and yes in many cases miss them greatly just for the kind of people that they were.
I wondered then how i should like to be remembered when i am gone. Am i so guilty of wanting that which i do not have that i forget to be happy about what i have in the here and now. Perhaps it is all too easy to take for granted what you have, to assume you will always have it and to continually keep on reaching for the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Yet as i realised recently, assuming something is a constant in your life is easy until you see a glimpse of what your life would be without it. A thought we should all consider far more often than we do i think.
There is no doubt that we all need dreams. They give us purpose and give us something to make our lives worthwhile. Strangely though, we often do not realise that the happiest things we dream about most are often those things right under our very noses. It is not until we are in danger of losing them that we realise they are dreams at all. It may be something to consider that perhaps a dream does not cease to be a dream just because we attain it.
So another ring on my tree and if i take a rather maudlin moment to consider my mortality i shall adjust my perception and place a little greater importance on leaving a reason to be missed. No you will not remember my qualifications or my career. You will quickly forget any achievements that i made or even if i became famous. But what you will not forget, i know, is the small way in which i touched your life and hopefully made a difference.
It only takes one person to keep a memory alive. Have you touched anyones life enough to be theirs?
I should have written this letter long ago but i guess i never knew how, or perhaps i wasn’t ready. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since you left us, would you be surprised if you knew that even after all this time i can still think of you and cry? I know you would. You’d shake your head and laugh and hug me like you always did.
”Silly Billy” You’d say. But i know you’d be glad that i remember.
I never got to be famous Grandad, never made the rich list or ever did anything to make the history books. Never got to live my dreams and you know what a dreamer i always was. But i never gave up on them Grandad and i know there’s still time.
Are you proud of me? Yes i rather think you would be whether i’m famous or not. I’m a good person you see, just like you were and i know that would be enough for you. I’m still dreaming Grandad don’t you worry about that.
I haven’t changed much Grandad, do you still see the little girl i was? i’m sure you laugh and remember the stubborn pout and the folded arms and that funny little stamp of the foot i’d do when i wanted my own way. Well i’m still as stubborn as ever although i pout a lot less these days than i did back then. But you always gave in and laughed at the funny little figure that i was.
I met someone too Grandad, and would you believe he talks more than i do? Yes im sure you would find that funny since i really was the most dreadful little chatterbox and i haven’t changed there either. I know you’d like him Grandad he’s a good man just like you. I’m sorry i know i’ve made you shake your head over the years at some of bad situations i got myself into. I know they were wrong for me and i’m sure you worried that i’d never get it right. Not like you and Nana. But don’t worry Grandad i’m happy and i’m sure you noticed how much more i smile these days.
I wish you could have met your great grandchildren, i know they’d have loved you just as much as i did. Would you have taken them driving, singing ‘All things bright and beautiful’ to them in that oh so funny way as you did with me. I still can’t hear that song without hearing you in my head Grandad and it always makes me smile. I was worried that my daughter would choose that hymn at her wedding and i’d get the giggles in church when i heard it. You’d like my children grandad, im hoping they grow up to be just as good people as you were. I wonder if you’d look at them and see anything of me in them at all?
I still talk to you sometimes when i’m alone. I wonder do you hear me? Somehow i think you do and it helps that i can tell you things and let you know how i am. You always did worry for me and i miss that even though im grown and shouldn’t need a grandad any more. Somehow though i’m pretty sure you’re watching over me just like you always did and waiting in the wings for me to run to you when i fall down. Its been 30 years grandad are you surprised that i still miss you?
Did you see that your picture hangs upon my wall so that i can see you smiling down at me?
Don’t be. A man like you will always be remembered even after 30 years and i hope one day someone will miss me when im gone as much as i miss you.
I wrote you a letter Grandad, im sorry it took so long.
Love it or loathe it your hair is possibly the one thing designed to capture the attention of anyone we meet. Whether it be for good or bad reasons there is no doubt your crowning glory will not fail to gain attention in some way or other. You can guarantee should you be having a bad hair day you will not fail to bump into everyone you ever knew to see it for that is just the way karma works.
For as far back as i remember, beautiful models have swished their glossy flowing waves across the tv screen. Cooing seductively they entice us to believe that on purchase of the product we too will have glorious hair worthy of any Hollywood starlet. So dutifully i oblige and dream of shiny tumbling hair, show stopping enough to halt traffic as i pass. Of course as i dream my merry little dream i am actually frantically trying, and failing, to tug a hair brush through my unruly ‘just got out of bed’ hair. Glaring resentfully at the ever present curls in the front and cow lick in the back i grumble to myself under my breath and seriously debate chopping the whole lot off. Only imagined look of horror from gorgeous boyfriend causes me to persist in my efforts since i do not think a Sinead O’connor look alike would be at all well received.
My hair dresser, of course, enthuses frequently about how lucky i am to have such thick hair that will take any style.
As i line up the profusion of hair products and brandish the hair straighteners i really do not actually FEEL that lucky. A much straightened curl rebels for yet the third time and i am growling madly whilst pasting it to my head with straightening balm but it still refuses to behave. This is nothing new and should one section lie down you can be sure that another will not. On a bad day i often decide that should they ever decide to remake The Brady Bunch i should indeed look very much the part. I bet Penelope Cruz doesnt have this much trouble with her hair!
But today some small miracle has occurred and i for once have smooth, perfectly behaved hair.Not a curl or stray hair in sight and my cow lick is lying uniformly along with the rest. Typical then that it has forecast rain and Ewan Mcgregor is nowhere in sight to witness my small victory. Still im actually considering calling l’oreal and asking if i can skip madly across the screen swishing my hair for a much treasured moment of posterity.
Tomorrow no doubt i shall emerge looking like my usual hedgehog resembled self but until then i shall resort to smugly flipping my hair every time i pass a mirror or shop window.
After all….i am worth it!!
It should have been the stuff of nightmares and for all intents and purposes it was. She imagined time would have long since faded the memories but closing her eyes she could see with startling clarity events of a long lost youth playing inside her head. Hardly anything to smile about yet her mouth curved faintly upwards as she recalled some childish attempt at freedom. So simple in its innocence yet so profound in its efficacy, making her shake her head and marvel at an ingenuity borne of desperation from one so young. Had she really believed she could live in a tree?? Perhaps too many days seeking escape in tales of adventure had clouded her thinking yet this had been a most carefully devised plan. Childish yet naively effective if one did not look too deeply and seek fault where to her there there was none. Tarpaulins!! for a roof, she had decided, to keep out the rain and rope to construct all manner of furniture. Emulating heroes cast ashore on desert islands. Forced to improvise often most improbable necessities. That she had neither the skill nor the equipment to perform either task did not occur to her and hours were whiled away planning and dreaming of liberation.Waiting for the day to come when all would be prepared and the dream would at last be a reality. However unlikely this was, it afforded her a means of being anywhere but where she was and anywhere was better than here!!
She would have to hide she decided. The risk of discovery in daylight hours was too great a risk and so beyond the witching hour was to be her time to risk leaving the safety of her refuge in search of food and supplies. Mentally forced to criminal activities in an attempt to survive she truly believed in the effectiveness of her plan. Blithely dismissing the small pang of conscience that prickled, telling herself this was unavoidable and not an option of choice. She knew well the difference between right and wrong for hadn’t she been taught it most frequently in the cruellest of manners, yet one sufficiently adequate as to produce the desired result. Yet even this did little to deter her. Hopeless misery obliterated all reason and she was beyond anything but a small glimmer of hope sprung to life in a well used imagination. Yes, a most effective plan were you not to examine it too closely and one most frequently put into practice, in her head at least, and strangely this was often enough. You cannot harm what you cannot reach and she was far far away happily swinging in the bough of her tree and that it was not real somehow mattered not at all. Yes she remembers and sometimes if you see her turn and smile at the sound of rustling leaves you will wonder if she is once again that small child. Adventuress and dreamer and inventor of a plan only worthy of the young.
Propriety. Little known a word today yet cast yourself back a mere century and you would find yourself in a time considered the epitome of propriety. In a time when ones image and behaviour were the most important factors of all, attitudes toward other people were courteous and respectful regardless of who they were. It was considered the height of bad manners to be seen conducting yourself in anything but a decorous manner and regardless of your personal feelings towards another individual you were expected to maintain this nevertheless. Of course a class divide did exist and those of higher station were not expected to treat those below them with equality but nonetheless there remained a standard of conducting oneself regardless.
Forward again to the present time and alas the situation is very much different. Manners seem to be very much a dying practice and people in general rarely care nor heed whether their treatment of others is courteous or respectful. One would imagine in today’s society that this would be simply the evolution of the lower classes and indeed i have heard comment before that nothing better can be expected from the poor. Strangely though it has been my experience that it is not these people who are perhaps those most guilty but those more successful and affluent individuals in this modern day world of ours. Indeed i myself have been witness to a growing rudeness and supercilious dismissal of others that exists within the business classes and it becomes more obvious the higher up the ladder of success one has climbed. Perhaps there exists some unwritten rule that should you gain success of any kind this no longer puts you in the category of having to maintain a respectful manner towards others.
Admittedly our lives are so much more consumed with our careers than perhaps in any previous era and there can be no doubt that on the whole we are busier than ever before. But have we really become so self absorbed nowadays that we care little about others nor about our attitudes towards them?
Does success really make you so much better than anyone else that simple manners and pleasant manner are so far beneath you?
From recent experience it seems so and i have, on more than one occasion recently, stared aghast at some rude quickly dashed missive designed not to consider the feelings of the recipient and indeed leave them feeling curtly dismissed and slighted. Perhaps it says more about those in receipt of such ill treatment that they in turn do not respond in kind as one could argue would be justified. Whatever the reason it seems the population of today would do as well to look to their ancestors and perhaps learn a lesson or two in etiquette.
Measuring your success by how high up the ladder you have climbed may seem to many to be the way of today. But if the only respect and admiration you have is from your peers of similar ilk then perhaps you may not be quite as successful as you may believe. Courtesy and manners cost nothing and there are many that seem to have forgotten that every ladder has a bottom rung and they were once standing upon it.
Please. Thankyou. Such simple words yet amazingly profound when used correctly.
It should be blue not grey, it’s always blue in the movies. She turned her head looking away into the distance, ignoring the cry of the gulls around her. The faint horn of some sea bound trawler interrupting the rhythmic swish of the waves as they rolled into shore. The sea should be blue!
She paused as though in slow motion, face smooth and expressionless, lost in the horizon and the thoughts that floated on the very edges. A smile ghosted across her face, she could hear them murmuring away far behind her. She knew they were there but it did not matter and she dismissed them just as quickly. It did not change anything and she sensed that they knew that also and so they stayed away and watched, and muttered amongst themselves. Let them, she did not care for them or their little lives.
Again that smile flickered as she became aware of me, so close i could reach out and touch her but i did not. She didn’t turn her head, she had no need to for she had always been aware of me as i had of her. She remained as she was contemplating the ocean as i in turn considered her. We stood there for a while, she and i, neither moving both thinking and inscrutable. She closed her eyes and smiled, tipping her face upwards to the sun drinking it in slowly, spreading her arms wide arresting in her serenity. Still i watched and as i did so she turned to look at me, eyes meeting mine, blue locking onto blue yet without the smile within them that still so faintly touched her lips. She had no need to speak for i knew her as well as i know myself and i understood what she needed to say as clearly as if she had spoken the words aloud. ”Be happy” they said simply ”be glad you chose as you did”
In one fluid motion she turned, almost dancer like in movement and in one abandoned moment leapt forward arching towards the sun, suspended there as though frozen in time. I could have stopped her, i had only to put out my hand and make her stay but curiously i did not want to. Briefly silhouetted against the sky, smile as bright as the light behind her and then she was gone.Yes i knew her, this alternative me, the one who didn’t make the choices, the one who wasn’t so strong. As i gaze across the ocean i watch the gulls wheeling their merry dance across the sky and i smile, for it doesn’t matter if it isn’t blue i know that even if she did not. It can be blue if i make it so for it is my picture and i am the one painting it. My turn now to smile and as i leave the ocean behind i turn one last time lingering for just a moment ”Thankyou” i whisper softly ” Goodbye”
Ask any woman in todays modern society exactly what they consider to be the perfect body and you can pretty much guarantee that the word ‘thin’ will be in there somewhere. Average statistics show that at any one time 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will be on a diet or weight loss program of some form or other. In an increasingly media driven society models of perfection are paraded as examples to aspire to and aspire to it we do.
Despite an ever expanding population the diet and fitness industry continues its popularity explosion with companies like Weight Watchers pulling in a hefty $1.452bn (1) in annual revenue. Definitely no slim sum by any means and a clear indicator that the diet industry, in the western world at least, is definitely big business. As the media continues its glamorous promotion of those body beautifuls, we in turn fuel the trend and flock in our millions to buy into the illusion that they sell.
So much of a change from a small few decades past when icons and idols sported more ‘womanly’ curves. Glamour oozed from such well rounded starlets as Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and the timelessly sexy Bettie Page. Yet it is a true indicator of todays media influence when many questioned nowadays truly consider those afore mentioned sex symbols to be overweight. Indeed on more than one occasion this writer has seen the beautiful Marilyn described as ‘Fat’.
But how accurate is this media bandwagon and are those ideals of perfection really so perfect after all? Well on camera it seems so. Glossy celebrities smile those perfect smiles and flaunt those flaw free bodies across magazine covers the world over. Enviously we admire everything about them and hurl ourselves desperately in the direction of anything we believe will make us like our idols. Billions each year are spent on diet, cosmetics and now on an increasing trend of cosmetic surgery as industry cashes in on our need to be perfect. The ‘quick fix’ surgery solution has rocketed in the last few years with millions of us opting for an invasive procedure as a way to give us that which we desire so badly. There is no doubt that this growing trend will not be seeing a decline anytime soon and the industry sees set to boom to massive proportions.
Sadly many recent media revelations reveal that perhaps the perfection we yearn for so badly may not be such a reality after all. Articles galore adorn the internet screaming the reality of an illusion we are all to ready to buy into. It seems there is a route to perfection after all but it does not lie at the end of a surgeons scalpel, nor indeed as the result of any super hyped diet program. To achieve the body of your dreams it seems all you need to do today is get yourself airbrushed. Stars have been no doubt cringing in shame as the internet buzzes with before and after photographs showing the reality of alleged perfection. With a few clicks of a computer mouse the pounds are shed, cellulite banished and perfect wrinkle free skin glows with health. Not such hard work after all then and certainly a look we can all manage with ease. Amusing then that men are among those most easily taken in by the images fed to us. I have encountered shock and surprise from more than one gentleman when i explained the wonders of airbrushing to them for they really did believe such flawless beauty existed. There is no doubt that there are indeed many beautiful people out there but nobody is perfect. So as we embark upon yet another diet in our efforts to be thin and spend billions on anything we are led to believe will get us there, perhaps we need to be a little more realistic in our efforts. Maybe one day the media will step up to the mark and take responsibility for the monster that it has created. But in the meantime we will all try just that little bit harder and spend just that little bit more.
Because you can be perfect……can’t you?
(1) source – google finance
It has been a long standing joke in my house that i am going to live to be a very aged cantankerous recluse, with a spooky house full of cats that children dare each other to knock upon the door. Quite blase i would airily announce that i was going to live to the ripe old age of 103. I have no idea where this number came from or why i settled upon it, but 103 has always been my mantra.
I cannot for one minute imagine what quality of life i should have at this age and being in my early 40s, which i consider very young in the scheme of things, i do not ponder it too much as to me it is a terribly long way away. Imagine the things i will have seen if i reach such a ripe old age!! Croakily announcing to the younger generation that i remember a time before computers were invented will no doubt make me seem incredibly old indeed. Much in the way that i regard with awe those older persons who were around in those historical times and witnessed the birth of monumental discoveries we nowadays take for granted. So i tell myself i shall be regarded for those changes having taken place in my own lifetime.
Perhaps, like many, i have been guilty of thinking too little about my own mortality and just taking for granted that i should be here for quite some considerable time….until recently. Being a member of an online fitness group brings me into contact with a diverse range of people and within this community i have made many likeminded friends. All of us dedicated to fitness and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Gradually as you converse you learn the stories behind the people and those things that motivate them and in turn relate your own.
Meeting a new friend recently of a similar age we happily swapped tales and when she declared herself impressed and inspired by my own success i volunteered to help her in any way i could. As she related her tale to me i was horrified and catapulted into a reality that, i for one, had not even thought of considering. This particular lady, although a year younger than myself, had suffered a heart attack only a year before. Granted her size had much to do with this but, as i reminded myself, i had also been considerably overweight myself and only luck and perhaps good genes had prevented me from being in her place. To say i was shocked was an understatement for i had not for one moment considered the fact that people at so young an age can, and indeed do, suffer from such devastating health scares. Thankfully this lovely lady did recover and is very dedicated to redressing all those factors that led her to suffer as she did. For myself i sat and thought for a while, for this really had made me think quite seriously about my life. one cannot deny that it is all too easy just to sail along complacently, imagining that we shall always be here and putting off until tomorrow those things which we should do today.
Life is a gift and we really should treat it as such. I have long realised that, were we to waste the time we are given ,you do not get sent back to have another try. We none of us know when our time will come and for some of us it may be far sooner than for others. I guess all in all its a case of living every day like it could be your last. No regrets and no what ifs. Reach out and grab those things you can while you can, and do not waste time being afraid or complacent.
So easily i could have been her, but thankfully i changed my life in time to save myself….this time.
Hunting madly through the kitchen drawer i really was far from impressed to find that yet again a screwdriver famine had descended over my once well stocked tool kit. Over the months various members had ‘borrowed’ items and as usual either lost or not returned them home leaving me with few sorry items hiding away in a huddle. What should have been a simple task of changing a vacuum cleaner belt was now turning into something far more complicated but then this is my house what did i expect? The one remaining Phillips screwdriver lurking in the depths of the drawer was far too short for the very deep screws so thoughtfully designed by the people at VAX. Heaving a sigh i eyed the rain resignedly, decided to brave the weather and trudged my way up to a local hardware store. Humming along to tunes on my ipod i abandoned my very wobbly and now soaking umbrella at the door and headed for the tool section. I decided that whilst i was here perhaps now would be a good time to price up a new tool kit since i’d had one on my to buy list for quite some time and not gotten around to it.
The store itself is very haphazard, cluttered and narrow which makes viewing items properly quite difficult. Far from being hung in uniform military precision as in the larger department stores , these items were much more scattered and overflowing. Deciding to save time i approached a shop assistant for advice which i normally do not do, much preferring to ponder my own choices. Explaining what i wanted the kit to contain i smilingly asked to be shown suitable items at a reasonable price. Immediately afterwards my smile faded and i gaped as the shop assistant blithely asks ”Is this for your husband dear?”
”Ummmmm, no actually its for me” I announced confidently ”i dont have a husband”
Her eyes opened wider and she swept her gaze over my red lipstick, down to my heeled boots and finally settled on my finger polished nails before quietly exclaiming ”OH!!”
Hmmmm had she been an elderly lady i might have understood but this woman was younger than i am so perhaps she should not have been surprised at a woman buying herself a toolkit. I debated telling her that i can quite happily accomplish all manner of DIY tasks from unblocking a U bend to repairing electrical items. As for flat pack furniture well there i’m almost an expert and super speedy and the go to gal amongst my friends when any is purchased. Showing me two or three less robust kits in between sideways glances i rolled my eyes as she was clearly showing me the more ‘delicate’ end of the range. Definitely not what i was after i want a proper tool kit that can withstand anything i throw at it not a pretty pink barbie kit!!
Chuckling to myself i decided that perhaps one of the bigger department stores might be more realistic and instead settled for buying the size screwdriver i wanted for the job at hand. Shoving it into my bright red handbag i had to smile at the rather incongruous picture it surely presented to her. So they say the world is much more equal these days do they? Perhaps not so much as you would imagine after all! Ah well, time to go and file my nails whilst baking a cake i think. Tea anyone??