Be Seen

Good morning blogging world! I have a question for you – have you ever come across something that touches you or resonates with you at exactly the moment that you need it? Something happens and you feel as though the Universe itself is speaking to you? I had exactly that experience yesterday and I’d like to share what it was I came across with you.

Good morning blogging world! I have a question for you – have you ever come across something that touches you or resonates with you at exactly the moment that you need it? Something happens and you feel as though the Universe itself is speaking to you? I had exactly that experience yesterday and I’d like to share what it was I came across with you.

Ever since I lost my husband, 5 years ago now, I have almost been hiding from the World. I don’t mean that I’ve been living like a hermit in a cave but I have stopped myself from making meaningful connections with the world at large. I have my friends but, beyond that, I find it extremely difficult to engage with strangers, I don’t like meeting new people and I don’t like going to places, especially new places, on my own. I always put it down to being shy or unsociable but, last night, I realised it’s because I haven’t wanted to be seen. I haven’t wanted to open myself up to people, be vulnerable in front of them, so I put on a mask and hide behind it. That way I don’t have to engage with other people and, although my mask is only in my mind, it’s also meant that other people haven’t engaged with me and that’s meant that I’ve felt lonely for a very long time. Obviously there was something in me that wanted to try because I have opened up with you guys on occasion but, then again,  I can’t see you and, more importantly, you can’t see me.

I have also, since I was a child, struggled with the idea of not being ‘good enough’. I’ve always tried my best and by no means have I failed at the things I’ve attempted in life but I’ve always felt second rate. I have often put on a veneer of confidence but one word of criticism, one negative judgement and the whole thing would fall apart leaving me feeling ashamed and inadequate. What that does for the psyche is to give me another brick to put in the wall that I’ve surrounded myself with, another excuse not to engage with people and ‘proof’ that I am right not to do so.

This isn’t an idea that I’ve come up with; it was explained to me by a woman called Brene Brown in a YouTube video that I came across last night and it had a profound effect on me. More accurately, there were two things she said that tore away the blinkers from my eyes and made me view my world entirely differently:

Have the courage to be imperfect

Have the courage to be seen

Over 10 million people have watched this 20 minute video – now I understand why. If you haven’t seen it already, I really hope that you enjoy it as much as I did and, if you have a spare minute, I’d love it if you’d share something that’s had this kind of profound effect on you.

The last thing I want to say is: I am not perfect and I do, finally, want to be seen.

Lisa

x

I Want to be Alan Shore……

Yes, I know he’s a fictional TV character from Boston Legal…and a man… but bear with me on this. He has, in spades, the thing that I’ve always craved and never really been able to muster: self-confidence. Like or hate him, you have to admit that Alan Shore is completely himself and he makes absolutely no apologies for it; how do you get to be like that, can anyone explain it to me?

Yes, I know he’s a fictional TV character from Boston Legal…and a man… but bear with me on this. He has, in spades, the thing that I’ve always craved and never really been able to muster: self-confidence. Like or hate him, you have to admit that Alan Shore is completely himself and he makes absolutely no apologies for it; how do you get to be like that, can anyone explain it to me?

He is totally self-aware and accepts all his flaws; is that it? Is that what gives us self-confidence:

“You’ll recall I once advised you fleeing the practice of law because it’s an ugly occupation which calls opponents participants to do ugly things. I’m very accomplished to the practice of law, Jerry”

This comment acknowledges that he does ugly things sometimes. The words are not an apology by any means but they are, in their own way, humble when you read between the lines. Yes, he says ‘I am very accomplished’ but, in the same breath, admits that he is massively flawed because he is capable of being cruel to others in the course of his work.

He is extremely attractive to the opposite sex, not because of his looks but because he is utterly determined in his pursuit of them. Is that self-confidence? To talk completely openly to someone you’ve never met, to lay yourself on the line risking all kinds of rejection but not fearing it? He is also brutally honest about what he expects from a relationship:

” I demand only one thing in a relationship, Christine, that I remain utterly alone.”

That may sound nonsensical at first glance until you realise that, in most relationships, people are absorbed into a ‘couple’, often losing something of themselves in the spirit of ‘compromise’. Is it self-confidence or arrogance when someone refuses to change to meet the whims or desires of another person?

Alan shore 2Alan is supremely intelligent, is that what gives him his self-assurance? He has the ability to make a witty comeback to any criticism or verbal attack but without getting overly emotional. Is it that he doesn’t fear confrontation because he knows that his verbal dexterity cannot be bested? Is he unemotional because he doesn’t care or because he realises that, when you lose control, you lose the argument?

He admits his fears: he suffers from night terrors and a fear of clowns and, what’s more, he asks for help, from his friends, in over-coming them. Is that self-confidence? To disclose your fears in all their dark glory and acknowledge that you can’t conquer them alone?

Whilst Alan can cut others to the quick with his retorts he is, at the same time, a great humanitarian who sees the injustices in the World and wants to do something about them. Could there be a connection between self-confidence and compassion?

Alan: You know what I miss most about our country, Denny? Not the loss of our civil rights so much as our compassion, our soul, our humanity.
Denny Crane: Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh. Soul, that’s a religious thing. State… church… it’s unconstitutional for the United States to have a soul.
Alan: Apparently. We seem to be becoming a mean people. Learned Hand once said, “Liberty lies in our hearts, and once it dies there, no constitution can save it.”
Denny Crane: Just once, I wish you’d quote a Republican.
Alan Shore: “I want a kinder and gentler nation.”

Finally, the man is a romantic at heart. He has endless affairs and dalliances but admits that he is desperate for love and is open to it, what’s more, he understands it. Does self-confidence stem from our ability to love and allowing ourselves to be loved?

Denny Crane: Do you believe married people can stay in love?
Alan Shore: Oh, I believe they can know even more profound joys be it with children, the depth of the relationship itself can evolve into something they can’t possibly live without. And yet, it’s something that doesn’t quite so resemble love. It’s not the romance of love.
Denny Crane: I never knew you to be such a romantic.
Alan Shore: My problem is I’m too romantic. No woman can possibly live up to the promise of tomorrow that love holds for me.

I don’t really understand where Alan’s self-confidence stems from but I wish I had it so, there you are, I wish I was Alan Shore……..

If you have any thoughts on this I’d really love to hear from you :O)

Lisa

x

Ps, If you’ve never seen Boston Legal and don’t know Alan Shore, here’s a perfect example of his eloquence in court…

 

 

Got to be Perfect?

In our desperate attempts to be perfect, we ignore all the wonderful things about ourselves and focus our attention on our flaws, the things to be improved. If we put all this energy into recognising what is good in us, what is beautiful, wouldn’t we naturally find perfect happiness?

In our desperate attempts to be perfect, we ignore all the wonderful things about ourselves and focus our attention on our flaws, the things to be improved. If we put all this energy into recognising what is good in us, what is beautiful, wouldn’t we naturally find perfect happiness?

Just a thought……….

Lisa x

Do You Like You?

It’s a pretty important question, after all you have to spend 24/7 with you so is it a joy or do you sometimes wish that you could tell you to just shut the F up and leave you alone? Do you love to just go out with you, do some shopping and have a coffee with you or do you try to make a dash for the front door and pray that you doesn’t notice that you’ve gone?

It’s a pretty important question, after all you have to spend 24/7 with you so is it a joy or do you sometimes wish that you could tell you to just shut the F up and leave you alone? Do you love to just go out with you, do some shopping and have a coffee with you or do you try to make a dash for the front door and pray that you doesn’t notice that you’ve gone?

I’m going to be honest, totally honest………..Ok that’s not as easy as I thought it would be. Oh shit what do I write here? If I say I don’t really like myself (which is the truth) I’ve just written down something utterly negative which will do nothing to improve my self-esteem (or lack thereof). On the other hand, if I say I do like myself………well, to be blunt I’d be lying. There I’ve said it. The thousands of pounds that I’ve spent on self-improvement books and motivational videos and CD’s was just a complete waste of money which could obviously have been put to much better use in a shoe shop.

Julia RobertsRight, I’ve had a cup of coffee and a think and what it boils down to is that I don’t trust other people and I don’t have enough faith in myself to believe them when they say nice things about me. Do you remember the quote in Pretty Woman “if people put you down enough you start to believe them?” well, that sums it up. I didn’t ‘fit in’ as a kid, for many reasons that I won’t bore you with, and I was bullied as a result so I tried to change myself in order be accepted. As you might imagine that was a dismal failure but I kept it up for years and then got hit by depression and a feeling of not really knowing who I was – well no shit Sherlock!

I suppose that’s driven by a feeling of inadequacy. I wasn’t joking about the money I’ve spent on self-improvement (Christian Louboutin would be crushed if he knew how much he’d lost out!) and I’ve followed all the advice religiously but I never seem to quite get a version of me that I’m satisfied with. I know what to do on an intellectual level but I never seem to absorb whatever it is that they’re trying to tell me…….

I’ll give you an example and this is intensely personal so don’t tell anyone else please. The first time (and possibly only time for reasons that will become apparent) that my husband told me I was beautiful I went up the wall! I was furious. He wasn’t best chuffed by my reaction as you can imagine and the worst part, the awful, frustrating part was that I couldn’t explain why I was so annoyed. I’m thinking about it now and I believe it stems back to being teased about my appearance when I was a kid; my nose was too big, my legs were chunky etc etc. It was probably just kids being kids but I believed what they said ergo when I was told I was beautiful it could only have been because I was being mocked, laughed at and I guess I was waiting for the punchline…….perhaps, when it comes to compliments, I’m still always waiting for the punchline…….

Inner fucking peaceWriting this I am beginning to realise how cathartic blogging can be; I don’t really like me because I compare myself to others and find myself wanting (punches the air in a moment of epiphany). Other people are more interesting, more confident, calmer, funnier; less prone to being stroppy, introspective, stand-offish and miserable. Other people are spiritual, they have found an inner peace that I crave with all my being and try so hard to find. How many hours have I spent sitting on the floor with my legs crossed chanting Om? How much time do I dedicate to exercise, to being outdoors? I’ve listened to Tony Robbins, Osho, Sadguru and Dale Carnegie until my ears are raw and my brain is filled with great advice for being happy and contented but it just doesn’t stick….

That’s not true, some of it sticks, like the ‘if you are happy, you will attract people to you’, ‘no-one likes being around a misery guts’…….hang on a minute, that doesn’t sound like a world famous life coach, that sounds like my mum!???? There you go – another realisation – I believe that I need to be happy all the time if people are going to love me. It’s great when I am happy but it’ not easy to fake it when I’m not and, the trouble is, when people think that you’re a happy go lucky, fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl and then they realise that you’re really not they tend to go off you. So, that leaves me with being happy (sometimes faked) = being loved and being sad = being lonely; the obvious answer then is to be happy all the time…………

Perhaps I try too hard…..yep there’s no perhaps about it but what else can I do??? Maybe just accept that I am who I am, warts and all (not literally…..WHY am I so shallow, I didn’t need to point that out; if I was a better person I wouldn’t care if I had warts!). Maybe I should take myself off to a desert island and spend a few weeks alone to truly find myself…..aaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!!!! PANIC!!! Ok, no, that’s not going to happen any time soon

I don’t know what the answer is so I think I’m going to stop thinking about it and go shoe shopping…..

That was another lie, I will keep thinking about it because it bugs me and, until I get to the bottom of it all, I won’t stop trying to become someone that I can live with rather than someone I find slightly embarrassing and, frankly, a bit irritating.

If you love yourself, please tell me, help me to understand…….HOW?

Lisa

x

Realistic Expectations?

If women weren’t obsessed with trying to look younger and thinner, the manufacturers of beauty products wouldn’t make the billions of $ that they do every year so why do we do it to ourselves ladies? Is it for our own self-esteem, to attract others? Or is it because we are constantly bombarded with images of how we should look and we do what we can to fit within those pre-determined boundaries?

Say Goodbye to aging skin? The models we seen in some of these ads haven’t even said “hello” to aging skin!! Do we really believe that we can slap some cream on our wrinkled skin and we’ll wake up the next morning looking 25 again? I’m not going to say ‘yes’ but we all live in hope don’t we……;O)

I wonder who comes up with all these ideas of what an ideal woman should look like? From what I can make out we should all have long, shiny hair, white teeth, flawless skin, no wrinkles, a toned and perky body, full lips, cheekbones you could shave ice with and legs up to our armpits. In the 1700’s Barbara Villiers was considered a great beauty and referred to as ‘perhaps the finest woman in England’, that’s her in the portrait below; alongside her is Selena Gomez, one of the great beauties of our age. Aside from nose size, the two women are very similar in many ways – dark, heavy lidded eyes, clear skin, rosebud mouth….so does this mean that our tastes haven’t really changed in over 300 years?

Barbara Villiers was reportedly overwrought when Chancellor Clarendon, her great enemy said to her:

“Please remember, if you live, you will grow old”

I believe that she was about 27 at the time (she eventually died at the age of 68 from dropsy). So it would seem that not only have our ideas of beauty not really changed, women’s attitudes to growing old haven’t really moved along either!

If women weren’t obsessed with trying to look younger and thinner, the manufacturers of beauty products wouldn’t make the billions of $ that they do every year so why do we do it to ourselves ladies? Is it for our own self-esteem, to attract others? Or is it because we are constantly bombarded with images of how we should look and we do what we can to fit within those pre-determined boundaries?

Flattered gif.gifI, like everyone else, can only speak from personal experience and, to be honest, I’m not 100% sure that I can answer. Some of it definitely has to do with self-esteem; while this may have feminists scowling at me across the ether, it does boost my confidence if a get a smile from a guy or an approving look. I live in France and I was once the recipient of an oh la la! in a supermarket and that kept me smiling all day! Did I look any different that day from any other? I honestly don’t remember but I do remember the compliment. However, if I was 100% comfortable in my own skin I don’t suppose I would have even thought about it after the event.

IMG_0999 (1)I don’t leave the house without make-up but, if I’m at the beach and go swimming, I don’t worry if it all washes off or leaves me looking like a bikini wearing panda. I’m not overweight but that’s simply because I love exercise and don’t enjoy junk food. I sometimes look in the mirror and think ‘shit! what happened’! but I probably have more confidence in my appearance than I did when I was in my 20’s.  My hair is really short but it looks terrible long and I really can’t be arsed to spend longer than 5 minutes faffing around with it every day. Do I wish I looked younger? Yes. Do I wish I felt as I did in my 20’s? No definitely not! I was a seething mass of neuroses and insecurities.

So what’s the answer??? Say goodbye to a negative self-image, learn to love yourself for what you are, accept what you can’t change and change what you can and just remember that, when you’re really having fun, you won’t give a crap what you look like :O)

Lisa x

 

In Pursuit of Beauty?

…beauty is in the eye of the media

It would seem these days that beauty is in the eye of the media; there are millions of images on the TV, in magazines, on the internet etc. all telling us what we should or shouldn’t look like. Unfortunately, as with all things, the media is not exactly consistent.

How many times do we see pictures like these? ‘So and so celebrity has really piled on the pounds!’ Then the next day ‘so and so celebrity is too skinny’; ironically it’s often the same celebrity who was lambasted for being overweight 6 months previously.

If you type ‘celebrities who’ve let themselves go’ into google it will bring up hundreds of people who have simply got older or lost/gained a little weight. So celebrities are human huh? Shocker! (This comes with rolling eyes and a slight feeling of exasperation).

The question is where does this leave the rest of us mere mortals? Well, we now have young people who become anorexic or bulimic because their onscreen role models are a size 6. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not said idol is happy being that size or whether their job (and the media) demands that they are slim and actually they’d really like to be able to have a dessert occasionally. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not they will be healthy as a size 6; if you’re naturally slim it’s one thing, if you’re naturally a size 14 and shrink yourself down to a size 6 is another thing altogether. They also don’t consider the fact that many stars have personal trainers and spend hours in the gym with them every day; to lose weight without exercise will mean a big and potentially dangerous reduction in calories.

On the flip side we now also have Fat Acceptance (or Body Acceptance) which is essentially people who are overweight, and know that they’re overweight, fighting back against Fat Shaming. fat shaming 2(This is the charming past-time of being unpleasant to people considered fat by ‘shamers’ on social media.) There is even a Fat Activist movement which addresses the issue of, what they see as, society’s ‘bias’ against obese people.

This means that, on the one hand we have young people desperate to be skinny and, on the other, we have those who are obese calling for fat-shaming to be considered a hate crime. It’s well known that both anorexia and obesity come with massive health risks and yet both are on the increase.

Part of the obesity problem can certainly be attributed to the fast and convenience food that has become a staple for many people. Sugar is believed to be more addictive than cocaine and yet these type of food are absolutely packed full of it. However, another part of the problem is our attitudes to ourselves and our bodies and the fact that open and honest discussions are few and far between. The Government is seen as ‘the Nanny State’ if it advises people on the health risks of obesity and anorexia, schools no longer teach classes on cookery and nutrition, children are happier in front of a computer screen rather than being outside running around and the internet provides a safe haven for advocates of over-eating and starvation and the bullies that follow them. If we could all see the damage that’s being done to our insides maybe we’d be less concerned with how we look on the outside……….

 

Too much?

‘wow! You look well’ not ‘hmm you look different’

Let’s be honest, none of us likes getting wrinkles or sagging skin but what can we do about it? These are perfectly natural signs of aging and will happen to everybody at some point but, women especially, are constantly bombarded with media images that promote youth and beauty and therefore it is ingrained in many of us that we must strive to keep both for as long as possible. A healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise can certainly help keep the signs of aging at bay but, for some of us, that’s just not enough and so we turn to surgery. Many years ago surgery meant a facelift; pretty drastic and, if not done well, it can leave you looking like you’ve been standing inside a wind tunnel for too long.

20-worst-cases-of-celebrity-plastic-surgery-gone-wrong-1Believe it or not these two pictures are of the same woman. Some of the facial changes will be due to aging but most are due to excessive plastic surgery. In the picture on the right hand side you can see remnants of the original face but it looks weirdly distorted and completely unnatural.

Her brow has less lines than in the original picture and her lips have more volume but, in the original picture, she was maybe 20 years younger. This is not how our faces are supposed to age and, because other signs of aging are evident, hooded eyes for example, the whole effect is just a little bizarre.

However, if the recipient of the surgery is happy who are we to criticise?

You don’t have to opt for face-lifts to look younger these days, you can go for Botox or fillers instead; they are far less drastic and don’t leave you in a darkened room for a fortnight whilst your scars heal. Botox, a toxin which is injected into the face and reduces lines and wrinkles by paralysing underlying muscles, is incredibly popular with millions of treatments administered every year. Dermal fillers are also injected but they are designed to plump certain areas of the face which lose volume over the years such as lips and cheeks. A good treatment should result in comments like ‘wow! You look well’ not ‘hmm you look different’

images (22)Unfortunately, as with everything else in life it’s easy to get carried away. You make a subtle change but then, for you, that becomes the norm so you make another change which may be less subtle but then, eventually, you become accustomed to that look and so it goes on.

If you decide to opt for botox, fillers or any kind of surgical enhancement, take the time to find the right practitioner and make sure that you have a consultation before undertaking any procedure, more than one if you are in any way hesitant about the process.

You can expect to pay between £150 and £300 for each session and it can be much more, depending on what you have done so make sure that you are clear on pricing before you go ahead. A good practitioner should be completely open and honest with you, explaining risks and potential results very clearly. The procedures can be uncomfortable (after all someone is injecting your face!) but they should not be painful as such. The practitioner should use an anaesthetic cream on the area before they start so that you are more comfortable.

With botox, the results are not immediate so you need to wait a few days to see the full effect but with fillers you will see the changes immediately. You may find that there is a small amount of swelling or bruising around the site but this will usually disappear within a couple of days.

Any kind of surgical procedure comes with risks so you need to do your research before going ahead but the results can do wonders for your self-esteem. Just bear in mind that the results don’t last forever so you will need to go back to see your practitioner maybe a couple of times a year

I Blame the Jeans

Remember that one day you’ll be dead and none of this will matter!

To some extent or another we are all creatures of habit, we tend to get up around the same time, go to bed at the same time, eat the same foods…..you get the picture. Unfortunately, we also have mental habits, not all of which are good for us.

The mind is an incredible piece of engineering, way beyond the limits of our current understanding but, if we let it, it will control us to the point of self-destruction. To use a simple example, have you ever worn something out for the night and then had a bad time, worn the outfit a second time and had another bad experience? Did you consign the outfit to the back of the wardrobe convinced that it was responsible for your rotten evening? We’ve all done it and we file it under the heading of ‘bad luck’; that outfit was just unlucky. We all know logically that a new pair of skinny jeans and a shirt can’t have mystical or divine powers but we still make that association because it’s natural to look for reasons and explanations for the things that happen in our lives.

Unfortunately the kind of logic that makes a pair of jeans a garment from the deepest pits of hell can also be applied to ourselves, our personalities. We all know people who never seem to have any kind of luck and others who seem to have the Midas touch but is it really that or is it just a case that the individuals in question only focus on either the negative or the positive and therefore that’s all that you hear from them? How many times do you hear the ‘unlucky’ guy say ‘I just knew it was going to be a disaster’ or ‘Nothing good ever happens to me’ and, conversely doesn’t the ‘lucky’ person always seem to be confident that life will go his way? Taken to extremes and without something to break his mental patterns, the ‘unlucky’ guy will eventually start telling himself that nothing good will ever happen to him and, like this, he has pretty much guaranteed a future of unhappiness for himself; whatever opportunities present themselves, he will have already decided that they’re not for him.

However, just as we can create negative associations and patterns in our minds we can also do the opposite and train our thoughts in such a way that our lives become easier, fuller and more pleasant.

Try replacing ‘I know’ with ‘perhaps’

Every night before you go to bed think of 3 things that you’re grateful for

Every morning when you wake up be thankful that you did actually wake up

Take 15 minutes out of your day to meditate, it will help you unravel your mental spaghetti

If you’re worried about something think ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ and then come to terms with that rather than considering all of the things that could potentially go wrong.

Shift your focus to the things that are right in your life not the things that are wrong

Remember that one day you’ll be dead and none of this will matter!

 

We Have an Expiration Date People!

No-one wants their last words to be ‘I wish I had…..’

“1 Million people did not wake up this morning but, you and me, we woke up so we should smile.  If everyone you love woke up this morning, smile because if 1 million people died last night at least 10 million people lost someone dear to them….” Saghguru

Many people go through life as if they were immortal; they do things they do not enjoy and put off, until tomorrow, the things that they really want to do but without knowing  for sure that tomorrow will actually arrive. Everyone has some responsibilities and not every day will be perfect but if we remember that we do have an expiration date we are more likely to include pleasure and fun in our lives. If we truly accept that one day we will die we will do all the things that make our hearts happy. If you have an unfulfilled passion what are you waiting for? Are you an accountant but you have a secret desire to become an artist? Are you an artist and would love nothing more than to be an accountant? What is stopping you?

For most people, the only things that stops them from living the life that they truly want are, on one side, fear and on the other the non-acceptance that life is short. There is nothing we can do about death – he will come at some point whatever we do but we can do something about fear. The first and the simplest way is to deal with the physical manifestations of fear; the fluttering in your stomach, the shortness of breath etc. If you are not faced with your fear at the time you have these feelings, if you are afraid of flying and are thinking about a forthcoming flight for example, change the image that you have in your mind.

If you went to the cinema and saw a really bad movie you wouldn’t do back and watch it again and again so why play negative thoughts over and over in your mind? To use the fear of flying example – don’t visualise yourself sweating and digging your finger nails into the arm rests, visualise yourself chatting and smiling with the person sitting next to you. If you feel the familiar fluttering in your stomach, remind your brain that you only have that feeling because you are excited and looking forward to the experience. If you hear the words in your head ‘I’m scared of flying’, change them to ‘I’m a little apprehensive but I know I will enjoy the experience’. In many ways the mind is quite accommodating, if you tell it that you ‘know’ something or you are ‘certain’ of something, it will take you at your word so, if you say ‘I know I will be scared on that plane’ you are 100% right, no question, you will be scared. Instead say ‘I am certain that I will have no fear on this flight’. Try it, with anything you are afraid of, you have more control over your life than you may think.

As we get older our existing fears often get worse and we find new ones to worry about – why? Maybe we think that we are less physically capable than we were when we were younger but that’s only a question of perception and perseverance. Again, if we listen to the mind telling us that we cannot do something, it’s as damn sure as mustard that we won’t be able to do it; if we tell the mind that we can who knows what we will be capable of. Do you think that any of these people told themselves that they couldn’t do it or that they we afraid to try?

Stop telling yourself you can’t, stop allowing fear to rule your life and realise that it won’t last forever. No-one wants their last words to be ‘I wish I had…..’