Thought of the Day: Ageing with pride

“Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31).

When did we become so ashamed to age? To advance through life, accepting with it the advantages and disadvantages life may throw at you physically and mentally as you go along. We’re in a time where people causally have ‘botox parties’ or have regular injections to fight the signs of aging with the anti-aging industry likely being in the millions, if not billions of pounds. If there’s a way to run and hide from that looming shadow of ‘old age’, boy, will we run.

In particular, I increasingly come across many women who are never forthcoming about their age and it’s a bit of shame. In fact, you’ll often be in social situations where you have to think twice about broaching the topic of age with some people in case it causes offence. Which is actually bizarre when you think about it – surely, I’m just asking a factual question? I suspect the logic behind this taboo, which has emerged over time, to openly say your age when you reach a certain point in your life is due to the fact it makes it all the more real. Many worry, particularly, if they’re presumed by the crowd they’re with to be younger, if their real age is known, will they be viewed negatively now? As ignorant, slow or less able, perhaps? Whether you’re 43, 38, or 51 – that’s something to be proud of, wear that badge proudly. Each year that advances is another reason to be grateful, life is too short to be shrouded in shame about something you can’t control.

Of course, there’s wider societal factors at play here. Firstly, in many societies old age is painted as one filled with loneliness, money struggles and physical discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, the stats do show that these things can indeed become more prominent as you get older but it doesn’t have to define the life you have as you get older (I hope!). If that’s all you hear all the time, no wonder you would be scared to let go off your youth.

The media secondly, doesn’t portray enough instances of older or elderly people living fulfilling lives. Even for many actors and models in their industries, as soon as you reach a certain age, you’re only given the mum and grandma roles. For sports people, you go from being on the pitch, in the limelight to doing the commentator or show hosting jobs. There is undeniably a shift in If you’re heralded in the industry it usually correlates if you don’t actually resemble that age. We need more Mamma Mia-type films – where older actors are thriving and living their best lives, forming more intergenerational relationships (not just with family) and filled with a hope/positivity that keeps them going.

*Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

2023 is here – Happy new year!

It’s that time of year when people tie themselves in knots

Jumping through hoops of resolution

Which grow shakier with time

As they pick and prune themselves

Hoping to craft a better person

Than they were only a few hours before

##

2022 was a wild ride, and it’s time to strap ourselves in for another (hopefully wild in a good way, of course!) Happy new year, readers! 😊🥰

*Photo by Dmitriy Zub on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: No such thing as can’t

Aren’t overly positive people slightly annoying at times? Don’t get me wrong, it’s an attitude that’s mostly welcomed and has been many-a-time just what I needed to hear to motivate myself to do things or get through certain situations. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good ol’ ‘Yes we can’ Obama style speech to get us pumped up and feel ready to rule the world. However, at other times I do feel there is a level of positivity people ooze that doesn’t quite concur with the reality around them.

I remember on one random occasion saying to someone oh yeah ‘I don’t do that’ or I can’t do xxx’ and they were like ‘why not? ‘there’s no such thing as can’t’. To me, yes there is. And yes, there should be. I do admire the sentiment of the phrase but I think there can sometimes be a misunderstanding as to why someone is saying ‘I can’t do this’. I’m not saying ‘I’ll never do it’ – because. who knows I one day might! However, I’m speaking in that moment in time and acknowledging I have a gap in my ability – no I can’t do this xx CURRENTLY.

But let’s also keep in mind that just because it’s something you could in theory master or learn how to do, it doesn’t mean you should. We’re only one person with 24 hours a day and numerous responsibilities, at the end of the day. So we should pick carefully what we pour our time and energy in or give attention to.

I think being realistic and acknowledging your limitations in such a way can be empowering. I would even go as far to say not many of us do it enough. It may be a downer for some people but in all honesty that’s how you grow – you group things in different categories; primarily ‘things you can’t do’ and ‘things you can’ and then you may one day wonder, how can I tranfer this item from the ‘can’t category to the ‘can’ one?. And thus, a journey of discovery and growth begins.

*Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Built to Last

Don’t you miss the days when things were built sturdy, to stand through tough times? To be fair, I’m quite young so maybe I don’t recall much of ‘those days’ but I do remember things like the solid old-school Nokia phones which could survive through any roughs and tumbles thrown their way. Back in school as a teenager, I recall one of my friends telling the story of how she washed her clothes only to eventually look through the washing machine door with dread and helplessness as she realised her phone was in one of the pockets. Long story short – the phone (a Nokia or Sony Erikson I believe) survived.

Of course, they don’t build phones – or literally any product – like that anymore. I mean even the new houses being built across London look a bit suspect compared to their older, Victorian counterparts.

These days it appears price does not always mean longevity so it can be hard to tell what would be a wise investment and what would last longest. Product warranties are getting shorter and shorter – for one, it really doesn’t make sense that you can spend over a grand on a phone – quite a hefty investment for some of us! – that only has a one-year warranty (Yes, Apple I’m looking at you). On top of that, the business models of brands like Apple mean that they start to phase out phones really quickly and at an increasingly fast pace. Your phone may have come out 2-4 years ago and suddenly it’s out of date and barely being sold in shops anymore. So even if you tried to be rebellious, and hold onto your phone as long as you can, you’ll end up being forced to get a new one sooner or later because Apple will stop providing security software support and updates general updates to your phone. This makes your phone vulnerable to attacks or the work of hackers (which I’m sure noooo-one wants.) Such is the capitalist system we live in!

I say that but then again there are brands out there known for their quality products which often then to be very endurant – i.e. Dr. Martins and Birkenstocks. I invested in both this past year and think I’ll be trying to continue to try and intentionally invest more in such brands because, let’s be honest, the hassle of replacing things that break unexpectedly or/and very inconveniently can be stress we really don’t need more of in this life.

If you’re interested in doing the same you may be interested in this Youtube channel which covers this topic. The couple also has a new related channel you can check out here.

I also have a previous blog post on sustainability here which you may fancy reading too 🙂 .

*Photo by Eirik Solheim on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Prepare for the Worst

Every day I prepare to leave the house I look at the weather forecast and use the unfolding climate for that day to decide how I’ll dress for that day. If it rains or is raining (a common occurrence during UK winters!), I’ll ensure I’m wearing my winter coat or have alternative protection in the form of my umbrella. If only life was like that – we could scroll through what circumstances would come next and prepare ourselves – and our hearts – accordingly. For many people, more often than we would like, circumstances turn for the worst and thus, an uphill battle begins. A cancer diagnosis, a sudden redundancy, a loss in the family, a theft at home or even on the street. Life is mad and maddening, it loves to throw us curveballs that do NOT discriminate and are probably more frequent than we tell ourselves. When these things happen they can do so out of the blue and unfold at a flash of light. Your landlord raises your rent and suddenly you’re in arrears and out wandering the streets with all your belongings in one suitcase.

Reading the above just now, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. Yet, despite knowing all this, it’s interesting that we often do not prepare as if those things may even happen to us. We read stories and often go ‘that’s horrible for them’ but suffer some sort of dissonance and never imagine we could be wearing those shoes ourselves. I recall roughly a scene from the book My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult where the protagonist’s dad, who is a firefighter, is at the scene of a house where a fire happened. He asks the house owners if they had insurance and they admit they don’t because they never thought something like that would happen to them. As someone who is going through a bad situation, one of those situations he thought would never happen to him (one of his daughters has cancer) he thinks to himself about the homeowner – what a privilege it is to think like that.

There’s a prominent fallacy that if we prepare for the worst – i.e. taking out life insurance, maybe even telling our family our wishes for funeral arrangements, then we’re somehow tempting fate or bringing bad ‘voodoo’ our way. This belief is prevalent in some communities more than others (I’ve even come across is many a time myself) but I believe it can be harmful. As adults, if it can be afforded, we need to be taking out life insurance and taking other necessary steps to shield ourselves and our loved ones from worst-case scenarios. It’s what I can only describe as being wise, people can be cruel and so can life in general. However, we don’t have control over other people or life in general so we need to do what we can with what we can control.

*Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Rise & Shine

More and more this year I’ve found myself longing to become more of a ‘morning person’. You know, the kind of person who happily and easily rises at 6am to go about their day. You see this all the time in magazines like Stylist where they interview businesswomen and men and without a doubt all of them awake daily at 6am, if not earlier, with yoga stretches (or a jog) and a green smoothie. They make a to-do list, listen to a motivational podcast and then feel ready to conquer the world – and make more money, of course.

I can 100% percent say that is very much not me at the moment and that most mornings can be a heavy wrestle with the bed to get up. Each effort to arise seems to sink me deeper into the mattress and the rational part of my mind which is filled with urgency and the aspirational part of my mind which has none whatsoever battle each other. I set about four alarms (I know, don’t judge me) which all annoy me and surprise in equal measure when they go off even when I know I set them. In fact, I often feel like an imposter amongst a word of mainly morning people. Of course I have to adapt to survive (and have a job) but I actually find myself more productive in the evening and night. I’ll often have random ideas float to the surface of my mind at numerous points of the night and feel the need to urgently write them down. It’s actually the process of how a lot of my poetry and some earlier blog content has been written. But it is the dream though to be more of a morning person as opposed to someone who just rises early out of necessity. I often find on the days when I can wake up slightly earlier – I have more time to psyche myself up for the day, to pray and reflect before getting ready to go to the office and/or open my laptop.

Luckily at the moment I can rely on my body clock to wake me up consistently at a reasonable time to get things done but this is still something I struggle with so I’m very open to any tips. So far I’ve read about setting a to-do list for the day, meditation, brief morning exercise and making sure you read something in the morning.

What about you, are you a morning person or night owl? And do you have any tips on how to make the most of your morning?

*Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Have a little patience

Hello folks,

It’s been a little while so it’s nice to be back. Since I last posted I’ve moved jobs, so I’ve just been adjusting to a new work setting, getting to know new people and processing bucketloads of information.

We live in a world where everything is available on demand, so it doesn’t seem too surprising that patience is a very rare trait. Get-rich-quick schemes, schemes promising to help people lose weight or gain pleasure instantly are common scams as old as time, which evolve with the times but have mainly found their success by tapping into the lack of patience people have regarding such issues. Even I’m guilty of this, I often start a new role or project and expect to pick it up in a few days. I did this at a previous job, constantly comparing myself to people at the company who had spent years honing their craft (which really makes no sense, now that I reflect on it!)

The Bible in Galatians calls patience a Fruit of the Spirit – that is, a character trait which becomes evident in a Christian as they become spiritually transformed by Christ. Patience can be easier in some circumstances than others; I’m likely to find it easier to wait 10 minutes longer for a Deliveroo order than deal for an hour with difficult personalities in a social setting, for example. However, we can start being self-aware – what things cause and stem from our impatience? Are you, putting unrealistic expectations on yourself or a situation, for example? Reflection is key, prayer is key and hopefully, together we can work towards becoming more patient people!

*Image: Photo by Osama Saeed on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Picking your battles

I’ve become a big fan over the recent years of picking your battles wisely. As I observe and live, I’m learning that not everything that happens to you or around you requires you to get worked up and respond all guns blazing. For some, this revelation of mine is perhaps common sense, but when you’re someone who’s sensitive and passionate/overly emotional (yes, I’m potentially describing myself) it’s easy to fall into this trap without realising.

However, making everything a personal battle quickly leads to fatigue; feelings of frustration build up and it feels like you’re banging a brick wall – not all of these ‘battles’ can be won, and in all honesty, some don’t need to be. I think it’s only insight and spiritual wisdom that will truly help us distinguish what causes we need to fight and which we need to just let pass by and pray on. So that’s my prayer for you today!

*Photo by Stillness InMotion on Unsplash

Embracing your inner child

I heard the cry of my inner the child the other day

The wails took me by surprise

It demanded it be heard

And said I must crawl again to truly rise

Children do not have a monopoly on creativity. Or on taking risks or truly embracing freedom either. However, we arguably seem to value these skills more in children, making sure we place them in environments where these skills can be encouraged and nurtured. You come across parents who ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over scribbles that their child has made and insist on hanging it front and centre on the fridge. Of course, this is not because it looks great (let’s be honest, most of the time it’s looking very…abstract) but because they’re early indicators of a child’s creativity and that’s exciting for them to see.

On the other hand, as an adult, you find that you quickly become more rigid in your ways, an  overthinker when it comes to risk-taking and due to work and other time-consuming commitments. You see something intriguing online for a course that’s slightly ‘out there’ but nevertheless looks fun and you think ‘ooo, that looks nice’, then you scroll past it and move on because reality calls and you realise there’s no space in your crammed schedule for such things. Next thing you know you’ve become a full-time resident of the comfort zone, which gets its name for a reason; it’s a cozy habitat, after all! 

Final results from one of the many paint kits I’ve completed since lockdown

Stepping out of that zone and picking up a new skill as an adult can be thrilling but also quite scary. It requires commitment and will but also the willingness to be vulnerable and make mistakes. During my piano practice with my teacher, I could always feel myself getting worked up when I wasn’t getting things right straight away when, in fact that’s literally part of the learning process.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been finding myself reconnecting to the things that made me the happiest as a child. Painting, singing, creative writing, even learning to play the piano recently. In fact, I was mistaken to think they ever stopped bringing me joy. I think at some point during the end of my teenage years I thought to myself, ‘I need to abandon these things and properly be an adult now, as if there is one correct way to be an adult. Boy was I wrong – from here on out, here’s to being bold and testing new waters! 😎😉

The Things We Don’t Say

It’s funny, if not tragic, that we spent much of the first part of our lives mastering the art of speech only to become adults and pretty much become rubbish at it again. Typically, when you babble your first words, your parents stumble for the camera (or camcorder back in the day) in excitement at this developmental milestone. Then, as you get older, you realise language actually only makes one part of what is this massive jigsaw puzzle called communication. So yes, you can speak – but have you fully mastered the art of communication? Probably not.

There are a lot of things people say in ways other than speaking that we have to learn to be mindful of. I say ‘learn’ because it doesn’t always come naturally to read body language or apply emotional intelligence to a situation. These are things most of us learn over time and build like muscle. It doesn’t mean it’s easy though since body language and speech can at times conflict meaning you may have to rely on other factors to make an ultimate judgment call.

Eating your words

One significant thing that is a constant challenge, for me personally anyway, is saying how I truly feel to others. I think because when you’re hyper aware of how others feel; you worry that your words may negatively impact the people you want to share them with.  And let’s be honest, the worst thing is saying words and going on to regret them. It happens way more often than it should but for those of us that like an element of control over situations – such regrets can be annoying because you can’t rewind time to take the words back, can you? Keeping everyone happy starts to feel like this weird juggling match and you can find yourself having to do the mental cost/benefits analysis of the costs of being honest (meaning you feeling happier) vs just repressing your feelings (and keeping everyone else happy.)

It’s no coincidence that there are 100s of films and dramas centered around the breakdown of communication and the problems it can cause. It’s a universal issue – sometimes you can be having a conversation with someone and what you’re saying vs what they’re hearing from you are completely different things. It’s why teaching, in my opinion, is a very underrated profession, because to make sure your instructions are heard clearly, comprehended and even remembered by students is more of an uphill battle than many would think.

Your voice is worth hearing

Being honest about your feelings sometimes is not simply a black & white situation of whether someone is a coward or not. Being able to truly lay your feelings on the table, even for people close to you, can be a challenge and this can be due to several mental blocks you may have.

You may not feel like your voice is worth hearing

Maybe you’ve expressed your views before and nothing changed which was discouraging to you

Or maybe social judgment and its repercussions leave you thinking it’s better off to not ‘kick up a fuss’.

In case you need to hear it – your voice is definitely worth hearing. Obviously, to truly get your point across sometimes you have to formulate a game plan – what is the right moment, place and method to communicate how you feel, for example? People often don’t think about such things when they want to get things off their chest but it’s definitely worth doing so. On a lot of reality TV shows I watch, they’ll often just confront someone over dinner, meaning yes, your true feelings are now on the table, but you’ve also spoiled a perfectly nice dinner – miring it with confusion and anger. That can all be avoided with a bit of simple planning.

And You?

But what about if you’re at the other end? If someone bears their all to you? Well first, of all the last thing they want is an underwhelming response. But yes, sometimes you won’t know how to appropriately react straight away so it’s worth asking them for some time to respond or just offering a listening ear, particularly if the confrontation has a personal aspect to it regarding you; i.e. ‘I don’t feel you do xx properly’ or ‘You never seem supportive of my ambitions’. Instead of jumping on the defensive (as instinctive as it may feel), a little bit of empathy can go a long way, a lot of the time it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable – so acknowledge and be appreciative of that, if anything at all.

___________________

Why not visit my new Medium blog – I’ll be using this blog to delve into more TV and film reviews, as well as explore various themes the things I’m watching cover. Would love to hear your feedback and Medium blog recommendations you have!