Facing it: the fear of fear

person drowns in fear coffee cup

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

(Utterly amazing lady, if you ever feel like being inspired just Google her quotes. Awesome.)

As a culture we have learned to fear fear, yet it is undoubtedly part of the natural ebb and flow of life since time began, as dark is necessary for light, fear is necessary for joy.

We think we want/should/deserve to be “happy”. So when we feel fear our reaction is to run away from it, to numb.

Each of us has our own numbing behaviour, it could be any compulsive version of the following: TV, the net, video games, shopping, work, gossiping, physical appearance, under/overeating, drugs/alcohol, sex, thinking…

But, as Bob Marley said “You can’t run away from yourself”.

Numbing is temporary. The feeling comes back sooner or later, possibly worse. You numb again. Endless cycles of numbing and self distraction occur. And you lose life, because as long as you are numbed to pain you are also numbed to genuine joy.

We forget that many times:

“The scary thing about a scary thing, is the scariness of it” Yogi Tea teabag

I know that my periods of grace and intense spiritual/emotional development have followed periods of utter darkness.

What if we knew that coming out the other side we would be stronger, wiser and more fully evolved? Would we fear fear less?

And what is this thing we think we cannot do? For a long time this meant tangible challenges to me: putting myself first, getting that dream job, leaving a relationship.

Now I think it’s much more ethereal than that: when faced with fear the thing we think we cannot do is live with fear and come out the other side.

(Hint: that’s what we must do!)

One last quote, promise:

“Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final” Rainer Maria Rilke

*Thanks so much to this Daily Groove post that consolidated some thoughts I had had mulling. I subscribe to this email and I really couldn’t recommend it more highly (not just for parents, either)

**Apologies for the prolific quoting, I just couldn’t help it 🙂

*** If you are interested in the subject of fear psychologically I also recommend this book by Dorothy Rowe

**** Last but not least, props to the cool little cartoon up top, found (as all my imagery) on photopin.com which I also really recommend for easy to find free photos for blogs 🙂

***** No affiliate links to any of the above! But I should!

Facing it: the fear of fear

Objectification total

I’ve got stonewash grey tight jeans, white Adidas high tops, a navy hoodie. Straightened long dark hair (flipped over to the side), minimum makeup (saving my face for tonight). A handbag over the crook of my arm, iPhone clutched in hand.

I stop to take a selfie. Cue pout.

I went running this morning, did some planks. I’m going to the library to study (digital advertising). I’m going out dancing tonight.

I could be anywhere between 14-40, living in New York, Paris or Sydney. It’s so iodine, so middle of the road, so zeitgeist.

Yet the whole thing makes me feel so normal. I feel so in-line with my generation, so strangely connected to what I’m “supposed” to be doing. It’s unreal.

I’m usually covered in children, toddlers, stains and shouting. This week we had nits and intestinal worms (not the first time for either). Broken stuff, shouting. Running from A to B to drop and pick up children, guitar lessons and after school clubs. Food smells and grubby floors. Chaos, total imperfection.

Selfies and straight hair and my i-Phone and looking hot make me feel in control for the first time in a  long time. Belonging to the external world, having value in the external world through objects and the image they project of me. Objectification total.

Of course, the world that gets played into is manipulated, highly consumer and very external. Does nothing for my soul. But habits and routines that ground us in their repetitive simplicity – in the feeling that we are all doing it – they reassure you.

It reassures me to have clean, nice smelling clothes, to have material things that are unbroken, that are mine. I feel I belong to myself.

In this world, where does parenthood lie? Where do chaos and bad smells and mess and parasites and sleepless nights and never going out lie?

It lies at the other end of the value spectrum. It has no value in this external world, it is worthless, just an impediment to the real stuff, the stuff we want and are taught to want.

And so we feel trapped and impeded and held back by our kids, they become another thing to manage, to get done so we can get on with living, and run the risk of making them feel worthless and annoying.

Objectification of the self, objectification of life. Sweet illusion of control. We cling onto it sometimes, like a raft before going under into the (inevitable) undercurrent of chaos again.

Today is an exceptional day.

Objectification total

#elpida #hope

I posted this on Saturday night, high on angst and anticipation: would Greece vote in the same old corrupt and greedy conservatives? Or would they vote for “an adventure” (as the opposition called it, talk about making it seem fun!) or, at least, change.

As they tweeted late Sunday afternoon, “hope won” and Greece voted in left-wing party Syriza on Sunday after years of conservative governments and crippling austerity.

As I said to a friend on Facebook “Bad for the banks and the Euro, maybe. But good for the people. These things are not one and the same”.

Things I like:

  • Tsipras doesn’t wear a tie *gasp* (obvs whether you wear a tie is paramount to whether you can run a country or not, as we have seen).
  • They are going to allow children of immigrant parents citizenship. Yes, that’s right, until now children (read: often BORN in Greece) of immigrants were not allowed citizenship. I’m really proud this will be changed.
  • He has assigned a cabinet of “mavericks and visionaries”. Totes exciting. I almost want to move back!
  • Loads of other cool, people orientated, progressive stuff. Rock on.

I like this article on 5 things the new goverment will change. It’s really weird. It’s like these people are politicians AND care about the people and love Greece. It’s hard to fathom.

This is what political hope looks like.

#elpida #hope

Will it matter?

will it matter

Don’t know if this has gone viral all over the globe, but on this little speck it’s trending to post the first profile pic you made on Facebook and tag other friends to do the same.

So I did. A lovely smiling face of me and my (then 2 y/o) first child, I look young and happy, with shiny hair, smooth skin, and no bags. I look quite hot actually. My son looks cute. It’s a really nice picture.

I’m not usually officially bothered by the whole aging thing. Yes, yes, I know I’m “young”, but I know some people who have been bothered by every passing year for, like, FOREVER. I’m not.

I like birthdays, like the sense of accomplishment I usually feel, setting new goals, celebrating with friends and family, and progressively more children.

Tbh, what’s bothered me most on the aging subject in recent years is those around me. I don’t usually notice it in myself so much, but because I live abroad I see friends and family infrequently, sometimes years apart, so they look older each time.

I don’t make a value judgment on whether that means they look better or worse, it’s just the years are noticeable. I also find this bothers me seeing my mum get older. Yes, it really bothers me actually. The years are passing, I guess it makes me feel the impermanence of life.

Then there are celebs, have you seen Brad Pitt lately? Or Cameron Diaz? I can’t stand it. I want them to stay young forever, like they were in Thelma & Louise and There’s something About Mary. Indefinitely.

So I posted this old profile picture, and it made me feel good to see a pretty photo of myself, and bad to think I don’t look that nice anymore. For those who have based any sense of themselves around what they look like, losing what they perceived they had is going to be painful.

I have. It is.

One day I will say “I used to be beautiful”.

Will it matter.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/gwendalcentrifugue/7163627005/”>Gwendal_</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Will it matter?

Hairy tights definitely do not make the cut (wa, wa, waaaaa!)

https://i0.wp.com/s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/enhanced/webdr03/2013/6/17/17/enhanced-buzz-8985-1371503158-19.jpg

It’s nothing new, but these hairy leg tight went viral last year in China. The idea is that by wearing these “anti-pervert tights” you will ward off unwanted attention and possible rapists.

What a load of BS. Most rapists are people the victim knows, and the lurking-in -the-bushes types are hardly going to check your leg hair.

And what, you go out all dressed up looking nice and then pop a pair of these on to ward off cat-calling? And totally ruin your look?!

Mainly, I totally disagree with the underlying message of these tights (or are they actually LEGGINGS?): that women have to dress “un-attractively” to avoid being harassed. It’s the same line of thinking that says a women deserves to be harassed/raped is she wears something attractive/sexy. Basically blames the victim for what happens to them.

Ridiculous. I love that Cosmo agrees with me *smug grin*.

As a final note, what’s wrong with hair anyway? I love the trend at the mo’ to dye armpit hair. It rocks!

Hairy tights definitely do not make the cut (wa, wa, waaaaa!)

Tech-haters gonna hate

Look how happy he is!
Look how happy he is!

I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’ve bought my kids tablets for Christmas.

I’ve had so many incredulous looks and even a “I don’t like that” proceeding that utterance that I feel as if that is some kind of sick statement akin to “I’ve bought my kids machine guns for Christmas”.

But it’s not. And if I need to defend myself (do I? I feel I do): a) they are not going to have unlimited access to them, b) I am getting the use of my iPad and laptop back (which they hog), and c) last but not least they are gonna LOVE them. Win win.

I am for the record a hands on mum (again, why the need to justify?), I cook, craft and read to my kids. My kids in turn love to cook, craft and read. And game and watch. Yes, they love to watch cartoons (gasp!) and play computer games (bite me!).

Yes, I know Steve-bloody-Jobs’ kids weren’t allowed a lot of tech time (mine get about up to 2 hours but not every day), they had big, calm, talk-filled family dinners *instead* and that’s great, fine and dandy. I totes respect that and I also respect all the nannies and cleaners that made that even more calm and nutritious. But I do let mine use tech, and it doesn’t make me a bad parent.

Let’s talk about this word *instead*: let’s just break it down here. It implies (and this is the underlying implication) that you are either the “type” of parent that is strict on tech, has family dinners and are generally holistic with their kids OR you let them use tech and are slack and lazy. Something smacks of judgment here, and that’s how I feel these days, very judged.

It’s also made me realise that I’ve done some judging. I’ve judged kids on phones and consoles on buses when they are with their parents (something I think I wouldn’t do). How the heck do I know how that parents’ day has been? How do I know how that kids day has been? Don’t you ever want to just play, or chat over messenger to relax? Does that make any of us bad or – worse – unintelligent, because that is also one of the underlying messages here: that uneducated, lazy parents let their kids use tech. Clever, concious middle class ones don’t. And there you have it, smack-bang judgment.

So with all these subtle messages I feel that I’m being judged as a mindless, lazy parent by giving my kids tablets. And I don’t like being judged, especially for my parenting. Ouch.

And at the same time I know I’m anything but.

So, I have to use these feeling to analyse my OWN judgment, and also surrender and just remember that #hatersgonnahate.

And they are gonna LOVE them 🙂 (as well as the books, crafts and other “real” toys they get)

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/evilpeacock/13235511974/”>evilpeacock</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Tech-haters gonna hate

Islamophobia: why has that even become a word?

Ditch the phobia, we are brothers and sisters :)
Ditch the phobia, we are brothers and sisters 🙂

 

Today I read an article in the Guardian saying that Islamophobia is racism, pure and simple.

Too right.

Whenever you generalise about a community as large as Islam/Muslims/Arabs you can be sure that there is some racism going on there. Because a) phrases like “all xyz” are usually finished with derogatory statements, and b) to generalise about people in such a way is derogatory in itself. Pure and simple.

I can think of some other examples of this:

All women…
All Americans… (I live in Europe people, this one is pretty common sadly)
All hippies…

So many things in our culture right now (and leading up to right now) are pitting us against each other, and especially against “all Muslims” or the very wide ranging term “Islam” or even “Arabs” (who are not necessarily all Muslim anyway, but that’s another kettle of fish).

I watched the classic 80s film ‘Back to the Future’ with boychild last year: in one part Syrian terrorists attack them with machine guns. I don’t even remember that part from when I was a kid, but it must be there in my mind, in the department that society has created (is creating) under “all Muslims are… terrorists/evil/bloodthirsty/scary…”

Iron man has “bad Muslims” too….and there are SO many more examples. KIDS’ movies.

We talked about how Islamic/Muslim/generic Arabic people are portrayed in films, how it’s not like that in real life. Yes, there are a very small minority who become terrorists. There are crazy and desperate people in all cultures. I talk to him about cultural stereotypes, but they are still there, what can we do.

We are being groomed to hate these people. What annoys me most of all about this is its NOTHING to do with the actual people (families, workers, your average Joe in the street, like me, like you, just getting on with it) it’s about our governments and what they want.

How much easier to control people, to start wars if we are already primed to hate another “type” of person?

I actually SHUDDER to think and remember other points in history where nations were systematically brainwashed to hate one another. One word: genocide. We think it can’t happen. We cannot let it happen.

I hope Muslim parents, teachers and anyone with an open mind in Afghanistan, Irak, Syria or the UK, France and Germany (and the US) are teaching their children that “all westerners” or “all Europeans” are not bad and against them.

I wonder if their films and media industry are tirelessly portraying us as…as what…What would they show? Tanks and drones and bombs and troops? Would that be a fair representation of me, or you?

Since when has Islamophobia become a legitimate word? A word we recognise and use? Are we saying we are actually phobic of a religion?! Christiophobia, Judaiophobia, Buddophobia…seriously?

Why don’t we just call a spade a spade: racism, pure and simple.

*I use the terms Islamic, Muslim and Arabic interchangeably. I am concious NOT ALL Arabs are Muslims, and that Islam itself has varying minorities and communities, etc etc. Just sayin!

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/awaywego210/8488534221/”>AwayWeGo210</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Islamophobia: why has that even become a word?

First world feminism, first world problems

We got it good, but it don't mean we should stop asking for equality!
Sure we got it good, but it doesn’t mean we should stop asking for equality!

Recently, the famous Somalian women’s rights activist, feminist, author and speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been in the media for saying that western feminism is “Trivial BS”.*

Although, after reading the article and identifying what SHE said (in quotes) and what the AUTHOR said (not in quotes), it turned out she didn’t really say that at all, it still made me think…

Is western (i.e “my”) feminism trivial BS?

Well, I thought, to be honest, you can say almost ANY issue in the west is trivial BS compared to what goes on elsewhere. I’ll be the first to say that some of our worries and concerns are total trivial BS, we are after all, the “worried well” and we are so, so flipping lucky.

I mean, come on, #firstworldproblems.

  • Worried about too much sugar? In some countries they don’t even have food!
  • Worried about what school your kid goes to? In some places the one school they have is a 5 hour’s walk away and costs half the family’s monthly income.
  • Worried about your health? In some countries life expectancy is only around 40 years old.
  • Worried about your career? Speaking in world terms, you are damn lucky to even have a job.
  • Worried about where and how to birth? In many places in the world a woman has a 1/100 chance of dying during pregnancy and birth (that’s 100 per 100,000), compared to a scant 4 births per 100,000 (sorry I cannot do the maths) here in Spain.
  • Worry about some half-naked ladies on a man’s shirt? In some places women cannot leave the house without a male escort and are basically bought and sold by their families to other older men. In some countries women’s’ genitals are mutilated. In some countries women can’t vote, or own property, or divorce, or have the right to see their children if they do…

Really, thinking about it puts our daily worries in to sharp focus, and makes our “struggles” sounds like trivial BS.

So why, why do we still need to worry about feminism?

I thought about it and I came up with a few reasons that it resonates with me personally.

1) The gender pay gap. Why in our society do men earn more than women for the same job and same hours?
2) The sex and porn industry. Women being taken advantage of here, big time. Not nice.
3) Pregnancy and labour. There is a long way to go here. I have lost count of the women I know personally that have been treated with disrespect during this moment in their lives. 90% episiotomy rate here in Spain. This has to stop.

That is just my tiny list, at this point in my life. If I were younger I might be concerned about sexist banter, or date rape, or online trolling. If I were older it might be the fact that no women over 45 is shown presenting the news, that we “disappear” after a certain age.

Are these issues trivial BS? Compared to FGM and total submission to men, yes. But one doesn’t cancel out the other. We can still be incensed at FGM and also believe that women and men should receive equal pay.

So, in answer to my own question, yes western feminism is trivial BS compared to the rest of the world’s problems! And thank god for that, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here contemplating it, I wouldn’t have my own laptop, or free time, or the luxury to think and write and educate myself. Ironically, that’s all down to feminism past (thanks!).

But then, equality will always be worth contemplating and striving for, however BS-y it seems, however privileged we get, it will always be worth thinking about bringing us all up to the same privilege rather than leaving some down there, with less pay, or crappy vaginal scars or negative body images.

Lastly, I’m absolutely all for improving quality of life for women and girls (and men and boys, as it happens) around the world. And I also believe that charity starts at home.

 

 

* I had a little look around the articles that were published online and it was funny ‘cos a) they were all EXACTLY the same copy b) She didn’t actually say that western feminism itself is BS, she was actually criticising the uproar about the scientist who wore the shirt with the half-naked women on it.

If there are poeple wondering what on earth #shirtgate was all about, i.e why did those hysterical feminists go crazy about a shirt and make a man (a really clever man) apologise, think about this: gollywogs were on jam-jars when I was a kid…now they are not. Why? because they are a racial stereotype that we didn’t need. People (black people and white people) didnt like it. Perhaps if they were still around now, and a scientist came on air with a shirt full of gollywogs, perhaps a viral internet petition would have started and perhaps he would have apologised. So yes, as Ms. Ali says, uproar around a shirt can be seen as trivial BS, and on the other hand another stereotype publicly stood up to. #justsaying

PS Thanks t katrinaelsi for providing her wonderful photo entitled “Women at Work” for free on the Creative Commons.

 

First world feminism, first world problems

Click Power

Each click makes a choice: I wonder what types of choices this internet user is making?
I wonder what choices this internet user is making? By sharing this image, have I just supported something I disagree with?

I have a friend who loves a sad story about kids, another who has a thing about the abuse of animals, me, well I seem to have a penchant for stories about disrespecting women.

Hang on, this sounds really weird, I hear you say, kind of sick.

Well, dear reader, I’m just reflecting on The Things We Click On.

Come on ‘fess up, we all do it. Not because we “like” sad stories, but because we can’t resist them. The sadder, more depressing, miserable and shocking ones get the most reads. Negativity is a magnet. We are like moths to a flame.

“Social services criticised over baby xyz case”

“Animals kept in inhumane conditions before slaughter”

“X% of women under 18 say they have been sexually assaulted”

These are he kinds of things that garner our attention.

Now, I’m sure many of you are up to date with the law of attraction: what we see, hear, read and think about tends to manifest in our lives.

What happens then when the whole world is reading things like this?

Buddhists say that we actually create our world with our thoughts. It’s very easy to see that we create the internet with our interests, and with our clicks.

With every click we make, search engines and data analytics pick up on who follows the links, how long we spend on the articles, where we click next. Things that are clicked on grow and grow. And that’s not even the things that are actually shared and go viral.

It’s like neural pathways in the brain: the more they are used, the smoother, faster and easier they will run. And the stronger they will get. That’s how the internet is, things that are clicked on grow in strength, come up faster in searches, become part of our collective consciousness.

I’m not saying we shouldnt be informed. It’s crucial to be informed and the internet is an amazing tool, allowing us to communicate with each other as never before and pull the mask off many powers that be, as well as activate change and exchange vital information.

But, it is part of reality, a plastic ever changing organic entity, and we all have the power to create what type of reality it is.

Just as we can be wise and noble with our thoughts, we can be conscious with our clicks. Because they count.

PS Thanks to Daniel for making his photo, entitled Click-click, free for use on the Creative Commons.

Click Power

My honest thought-train on Kim Kardashian’s bum

What's all the fuss, it's just a couple of bums!
What’s all the fuss, it’s just a couple of bums!

Wow! Big bum.

Very. Small. Waist.

Hips: waist ratio very big. Sexy.

Whiter than I expected. Wonder if she’s naturally that pale. Brave. If that were me I definitely would have gotten a few sun-beds in before the shoot. I shouldn’t think that, I should be happy with my pale skin.

I’m not.

Wonder if she did the shot completely naked. Wonder if she came in in a bathrobe. Is she alone or is there an entourage? Did they see her naked? Did she worry about bikini wax before shoot. Duh! Of course she did, she probably has it waxed daily.

I wonder how “it” is waxed…

I really need to get a bikini wax. Even though it is winter and I’m not going anywhere near a bikini for at least 6 months. But I should be ‘presentable’ at all times. It bothers me that I don’t find my body in it’s natural state presentable. But, ugh, who wants hair. It makes me feel disgusting. I want to be smooth like Kim. At all times.

Shiny, her body is very shiny. Obviously baby oil. They must have sprayed her lots of times. Bet that felt horrible. Did they spray her all over, or just the back?

I wonder if she was cold. I bet she was cold. I would have been freeeeeezing.

This woman loves her bum. Good for her, I think I love her bum. I always wanted my bum to be bigger, and rounder, a bit like that. She’s had kids. I’ve had kids. I wish I could look a bit more like that.

I wonder how the world will see this. Is this important? Is it anti-feminist? Should I have a “view” on it? Wow, all my thoughts so far have been really superficial, shallow, vain and have lead back to my own insecurities about how I look and present myself… Should I be offended? Am I superficial? Am I a bad feminist?

Is this why constant bombarding of sexualised images of women is detrimental to our society’s mental health and view of women as a whole: it constantly reduces women to bodies, pieces of flesh, objects to be judged, eyed up, envied, lusted after, commented on, compared to…

How does this affect us as women? How does it affect men?

I’m curious to see other photos of her, but really I can’t be bothered.

Let’s see what’s going down on Twitter…

Aha…

I’ve been thinking about this, and I don’t think Kim Kardashian’s bum is either feminism or not feminism. It’s just a bum.

She’s right.
Ok. It’s all Ok.
My honest thought-train on Kim Kardashian’s bum