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Today’s inspiration…

March 23, 2014
tags: ,

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‘Some day’ mentality seems to plague my thoughts on a daily basis so finding this little gem was a happy wake up call to shift my butt in gear and actually get out there and start DOING instead of hoping and wishing things were different.

If you’ve got something you’ve been meaning to do, ‘some day’, I’ll leave you with this thought from Hugh Laurie (found on www.facebook.com/freedomwithtanner):

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The real shame about ‘no make-up selfies’

March 22, 2014

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You’ve seen it. Your Facebook newsfeed is overflowing with photos of familiar (and some not so familiar) make-up free faces and online media channels are rife with debates about ‘no make-up selfies’, posted in the name of Cancer Research.

I’d been dreading receiving my inevitable nomination to get on board with this campaign but not for the reason you might think. I go fresh-faced far more frequently than I wear make-up and my friends and colleagues have seen me in varying states of unmasked sleep deprivation over the years. That being the case, being challenged to post a photo of myself without make-up on was not the problem.

No, the real shame with these barefaced selfies is not in exposing our ‘real’ faces; it’s in the concept that women are considered brave to do so. How sad it is to live in a society where letting the world see the natural you is viewed as a courageous act. This sadness runs far deeper when the subjects of these selfies have accompanied their photo with an apology for how they look.

In the case of my friends, I’ve seen two kinds of ‘sorry’: the ‘sorry for the nightmares this will cause folks!’ joke apology; and the more deep-rooted, fear-based ‘I wasn’t going to join in with this but I have to because I support Cancer Research and I’m really sorry you have to see this’ apology. Both kinds ultimately stem from the same issue: genuinely beautiful women who genuinely believe they need to cover their faces up in order to be accepted. How did we get to this place?

When I first learnt of the no-make up selfies viral campaign, my mind started running riot with a tirade of anger-fuelled questions. How is posting a picture of yourself without make-up going to help people with cancer? What kind of a mental world are we living in here, where showing your real face is a heroic act? Isn’t this whole thing kind of insulting to people with cancer? Surely battling cancer is the definition of courage, not to be equated with the ‘bravery’ it takes to skip on an application of foundation? And why isn’t anyone else asking these questions?

Turns out I wasn’t alone. I happily hit ‘like’ on my friend’s announcement: ‘I hope all these people posting selfies are actually donating money to Cancer Research and not just taking selfies?’ Until reading his status, the images saturating my newsfeed made no mention of donating; they simply challenged nominated targets to go bare too, as a way of raising awareness about breast cancer and I had been somewhat confused as to what good this was actually doing.

My skepticism about this campaign grew as varying messages came attached with the selfies, ranging from ultimatums to either ‘post or forfeit a donation’, to ‘Here’s my selfie, I’ve donated X and now I’m asking you to do the same’. And then of course there were the boys, with contributions including pictures of themselves plastered in drag queen cosmetics, close-ups of their bare bums and the ‘putting it all out there’, with only a sock to cover their modesty selfie-shockers. With so many distortions on the posts I’d first seen, I wanted to find out what the original message had been from Cancer Research and how it had spiraled so quickly. Was this for breast cancer, testicular cancer, simply raising awareness about all cancer or an official fundraising campaign?

It didn’t take long to discover that Cancer Research did not start this campaign but since it went viral, has thanked people for their generosity and is delighted to see such a spike in interest and awareness. This was reassuring to learn, as it had seemed like total madness that the charity itself would put out a formal communication to the world, condoning the idea that it takes guts to go without make-up.

Weighing it all up and learning that considerable donations (over £2million in a 48-hour period) were reaching Cancer Research UK on the back of this selfie epidemic, I decided that if anyone asked me to post my own selfie, I would decline to do so as a stand against cosmetics but I would instead make a donation to such a worthy cause. I was still grappling with my anger at our social conventions at large and how ridiculous it is to be dependent on make-up as a measure of beauty.

That was until the first nomination hit my profile, coming from none other than my youngest sister. Miffy had challenged all three of her sisters to get involved, giving us 24 hours to join her. I looked at her photo and found myself thinking that it had actually taken her guts to post it. She’s a stunningly beautiful woman but cannot see this herself and I honestly can’t remember the last time I’d seen her face without make-up on. This, combined with the fact that she has recently lost someone very special to her to cancer, hit home to me that the selfie campaign is important and it is making a positive difference.

While still deciding what action I was going to take, my other sisters swiftly got their pictures out there and my second nomination came in, from a dearly loved, childhood friend who sadly lost her father to cancer. It always seemed a crime Colin was taken so young and he is never forgotten. Like you, my list of special people who have been stolen by the dreaded ‘C’ is far too long.

Still struggling with wanting to take a stand against believing it takes bravery to go bare-faced and not entirely sure how friends currently fighting cancer would view all this, I needed one more push. It came in the form of a beautiful friend who has survived her breast cancer battle and lives each day to the full. Her selfie was out there for all to see and boy, didn’t she look incredible! That was it – I’d put up a selfie as well as making my donation.

I’m ashamed to admit that despite all my hatred towards the domination of the cosmetics industry, I didn’t post the first selfie I took. No, that went wrong – several times. Then I asked my boyfriend if he could take a picture for me – preferably one where I had both eyes open. Six identical (and in my view hideous) shots later and there was no way I was posting any of these pictures. Thankfully, I remembered I had a no make-up selfie on my phone that I took a few months ago and both of my eyes were open. Strangely, I felt guilty that I hadn’t just gone with the first picture I took, until reading one of the many articles about this campaign that started with the question, ‘Be honest, how many selfies did you take before you posted?’ Clearly I was united in nationwide insecurity with thousands of other women.

Although I personally have no issue with not wearing make-up in public, I do find myself in awe of the dolled-up office beauties. You know the sort – the girl who paints herself with immaculate precision everyday and looks like she just stepped off a film set? You’ve seen her right? These women seem to be in abundance and when standing next to them, I admit to always wishing I had made more of an effort (and having even the faintest clue about colour matching. Yes, I’ve had many a ‘Tangoed’ faux pas with the wrong tone of foundation).

Ironically, it was only a week ago that I decided that as I approach the age of 33, I better start trying to make myself more presentable to the world (or if we’re being really honest, attempt to hide the blessings aging brings our skin).  I took the time to seek specialist help and left the store 30 minutes later with the magical products that were to transform me into an acceptable looking woman.

After going for months at a time with no make-up on, I’ve worn it every day this week and my boyfriend has told me that I look beautiful every day this week. I had taken his compliments to be in direct correlation with my new cosmetics but thinking about it, he’s told me he thinks I am beautiful every day since I met him. Even when I had a horrendous stomach bug and was undoubtedly looking the worst he has ever seen me, he still told me that I’m beautiful.

Four days into my newly adopted make-up routine, I caught sight of my eyebrows as I looked in my rearview mirror on my drive to work. ‘Oh yes!’ I thought, ‘This new eyebrow stuff is working so well – they look much better! Why didn’t I start using this earlier? I can’t believe people saw me without this on! I’m going to use this every single day, for the rest of my life.’

Would now be a good time to tell you that on this particular morning, I had forgotten to apply my eyebrow tinting, brush-on gel?

Today is as good a day as any to start over

March 18, 2014

I’ve come across some really interesting articles today that have all taught me something.

The first is this piece by Jordan Price, a talented designer who had his heart set on working for Apple – until he DID finally get to work for Apple and discovered it was not the joyous experience he had thought it was going to be: https://medium.com/apple-daily/f5f8c807d868 This reminded me that there have been things that I have previously strived for and worked so hard to achieve but then once I got there, it wasn’t the life-changing eureka moment that I had anticipated. Instead it came with an almost flat, ‘now what?’ feeling. This is not to say that we shouldn’t have goals because I firmly believe that having challenges and things to aim for enrich our lives and help give us a kick up the bum, pushing us to be better versions of ourselves. Just maybe that eagerly anticipated euphoric moment of attainment needs to be kept in check with acknowledgement that this will not ‘fix everything’.

The second article I read was fittingly titled ‘In 5 years you’ll be…’ by Bassam Tarazi http://www.colipera.com/in-5-years-youll-be/. Bassam shares this great advice: “Don’t stress too much about where you think you want to be in 5 years; instead, point your ship in a cardinal direction that parallels your character, skills and interests, and take action on where you want to be tomorrow, next week or next month.” The whole article is well-worth a read and helped me realign my personal goals so that they mean something to me right now.

Third up, ‘Making Great Stuff Is The Best Way To Meet Great People’ – Marshall Haas, I thank you sir! Really helped to read something like this http://needwant.com/p/making-great-stuff-best-way-meet-great-people/ right now as I have recently reconnected with my childhood passion for making things. I don’t really know how to go about pulling together all the ideas that are in my head and all the things I want to have a bash at making but something is bubbling on that front that I need to pursue.

Fourth, this very well-written and plausible explanation from an experienced pilot as to what might have happened to the missing Malaysia Airlines Jet: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/ What intrigued me most about this article is that it has highlighted how I can be so sure of something one minute and then with a little more guidance and understanding, my mind can completely flip to an alternative way of thinking. I’m not a pilot and I don’t know anything about flying planes. In light of this recent tragedy of the missing airline, for every day that passes without a conclusive, official explanation, I’ve been more and more inclined to think it must have been an act of terrorism or a hijacking of some sort. I’d made my own mind up that the passengers on that plane are all still alive but being used in some way, held hostage for something that will come to light later. One read of this article and my theory is blown out the water. Chris Goodfellow makes some really valid points: “Surprisingly, none of the reporters, officials, or other pilots interviewed have looked at this from the pilot’s viewpoint: If something went wrong, where would he go?” Rather than see this incident as foul play, what about viewing the pilot as a hero, desperately trying to get that plane down safely? “Smart pilot. He just didn’t have the time.” I guess until the plane wreckage is found, if it is ever found, we won’t know what happened for sure but it is important to consider simple explanations in a world where we have been drilled to trust no-one and suspect acts of terrorism are lurking around every corner. My heart goes out to all of the loved ones who do not have the answers they need in order to understand what has happened to the special people in their lives. I sincerely hope that more information comes to light soon that will help these people come to terms with what has happened.

And finally, this deeply moving, heartfelt post by a mother battling with so many ‘authorities’ that should actually be the very people reaching out to help support her and her son: http://parentingchildrenandteenswithanxiety.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/bartonella-and-my-sons-battle-with-anxiety-disorder/ I cannot imagine the strength and courage it has taken for this woman to ‘go with her gut instinct’ when health and education professionals have failed to support her. I had never heard of Bartonella until reading this but it sounds truly horrendous having to deal with this condition or see a loved one suffering with it, as well as not being given the right information or support infrastructure to help ease the suffering. Well done for speaking up and in doing so, you will no doubt bring a light to others going through similar experiences. It is not ok to pump our youth full of meds because we don’t know what else to do. It takes great courage to stand up against ‘the accepted norm’ in medical practice and educational approach. I wish you and your son all the best for finding a way forward that eases this situation. Thank you for sharing your story.

So after exactly one year of not posting anything, guess today is as good as any to start over, take stock and begin a new journey in becoming the best version of myself that I am able to be.

Should you write down your life goals?

March 18, 2013

“Writing down an intention puts a nugget in your subconscious, which sets you on a path to achieving it.”

Kennon Sheldon.

Found in the article: Do You Need a Five-Year Plan? 

‘The magic moment’ and the gift of new beginnings

March 16, 2013

The Magic Moment is that in which a simple “yes” or “no” may change the whole of our existence – Paulo Cohelo

At the point of crisis – that moment when your entire world suddenly changes and you have a split second to register that life as you knew it the split second before no longer exists – it is in THAT moment that you hit the core of who you and what you’re about. You learn that you are stronger than you realised; stronger than others realised and you are given the most wonderful gift to re-evaulate who you are, what you want and what you can be.

TELL THEM

March 16, 2013

If you think someone looks good – tell them.
If someone has done a good job – tell them.
If someone has taught you something that made a difference to you – tell them.
If someone has helped you and doesn’t realise the impact of their actions – tell them.
If you love someone – TELL THEM.
Life is short and we don’t know how much time we will be given here so tell the people who changed your life – they need to know.

Amy Murray (13.03.2013)

After my encounter with and old teacher and the orange-eating monks, I wrote this as my Facebook status because I felt it was important to share with my friends what I had learnt.

What matters NOW and how to eat an orange…

March 16, 2013

A funny thing happened this week. I saw a teacher who never directly taught me (so he would have no clue who I am) but I distinctly remember him doing an assembly once where he told this story of two Buddhist monks. The older monk was teaching the younger monk how to eat an orange. The young monk was certain he knew how to eat an orange and was pretty annoyed his elder was telling him something he already knew. Anyway, turns out he didn’t know how to eat an orange; the proper way to eat an orange is to take one piece at a time and only concentrate on the piece you are eating at that moment, not miss what you could be enjoying now by racing on ahead thinking about the next orange segment and the next and the next.

This story stayed with me for what must be 18 years or so now. So much so that I thought I should tell the teacher that appeared before me that I still remembered the orange-eating monks and thank him for imparting his wisdom. By the time I decided I’d thank him, he had walked on far ahead so I let it go but decided if I ever saw him again, I’d tell him.

I stopped in my car for a few minutes and when I looked up, this teacher was already walking back across the car park. This was my chance to tell him he’d made a difference. I called out to him and caught up, then said what I wanted to say. He is an old man now and said he didn’t actually remember the story I was referring to. I told him what I’d taken from it and then he told me to hang on for a minute. He clambered into the back of his car to retrieve a blue book, telling me, “I’d really like you to take this with my compliments.” It was a book about Victor Hugo (that in itself was weird because Victor Hugo keeps cropping up everywhere in my life at the moment!) – anyway, I thanked him and walked back to my car. When I looked down at the book again, I realised the author was actually this teacher.

This whole incident reminded me again that nothing happens by chance, everything comes together at the right time but that you need to enjoy the now because you don’t know how much time you will be lucky enough to have here. I have decided to just tell people straight how it is from now on and not worry about what they think of me. Whether it is thanking a complete stranger for good customer service, complimenting a friend on a new haircut or telling someone I love them – just got to live in the moment and enjoy the now. 

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