Thoughts Translated - Goldie's Blog

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Small Things

I read a quote yesterday “Maturity is not when we start speaking big things… it is when we start understanding small things”. I had not sat down until then to acknowledge the analysis of my week so far. I always begin on Monday with a positive approach to the day and prefer to check in on a daily basis with my state of mind, rather than succumb myself to a weekly pattern.

Nevertheless, I took a conscious effort to gauge my mind and ask myself what were those small things that made this week more positive and also what had I deliberately eliminated or avoided entirely to distance away from negativity.

I want to share my list of positives, or as the quote refers to “small things”, which contributed to a positive week for me.

1.   Empathy- I genuinely understood the situation of good friend and didn’t feel bad that they were unable to have a long awaited telephone call with me. I knew I deserved to be spoken to, I had waited for a long time, yet I also realised that if this was not the time, there was going to be a better time in the future.

2.   Honesty – I was sent an online order of some items purchased. What I received was more than what I had ordered. I informed the company of their logistical error and requested them to pick up the extra goods that were not mine. The retailer expressed gratitude for my honesty.

3.   Not giving up – It took me three days to simply send a rather large electronic file online to someone. I was cursing new technology for some time and did even consider traditional means of posting them a pen drive with this information. I felt stupid that I was incapable of sending a mere 3 GB of information, when more than half my life is stored in the “cloud”. I solved the problem before it solved me.

4.   Self-restoration - A good cry is when one allows pain to kill pain. I indulged in a good session, followed by wearing my largest sunglasses and showing off my most confident swagger. It felt better than a bladder release.

5.   Inspiration – I have been watching a different film every week for a few weeks now. They get sent to me on recommendation by an angel in the cloud and all of them have one thing in common, a sense of struggle that shapes us towards becoming more motivated and positive human beings. I like to call it my mid week elixir vitae.

6.   The mother of lunches – there’s nothing that can quite compare to a session of unstoppable laughter in the company of the one person who truly understands our smallest of indispositions. Good food adds to our weekly reward, along with a cheeky glass of white poison.

7.   Saying No – It’s a terribly difficult thing to say to someone, I find it exceptionally hard. This week I was asked if I was attending an upcoming social event. My answer was “No I will not be attending.” I said nothing more, and nor did I fall into the trap of having to give an explanation.

8.   Listened – No advice was given, no opinions were passed, no questions were asked. He just wanted to talk and my duty was to listen.

9.   The wonder of Stevie Wonder – I fell into a time capsule on Monday afternoon and indulged in Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions for a good hour. Music is the most underrated form of therapy!

10. Philanthropy- I taught someone how to run. It sounds ludicrous and borderline comical doesn’t it? It’s like me saying I taught someone how to sleep or eat. Well I too didn’t think it would be such a big deal. Yet, correcting their technique, observing their posture, movement and breathing process was all a part of this simple process called running. I experienced what researchers called the “helper’s high” and the act of helping others can be key to finding happiness.

My self-explorative analysis would not have happened if I had not read this simple quote, so I can say the 11th positive can be accounted as the quote itself. I want to wish all of you a week ahead that most certainly should include positives, but also one with a few negatives. I say this because as human beings we are incapable of appreciating the sunshine until a heavy rainfall showers us. Today it’s been raining all day where I live, and had it not rained, I wouldn’t have consciously sat down to write this post.

I leave you with that thought, in most given negatives there will always be a positive which is merely hiding… just give it time to allow itself to be revealed.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Bestie Growth - 20s to 30s

I have learnt some very important lessons as of late, about having a best friend. There is very fine, almost invisible line between being selfish and being in each other’s heart without having the need to justify yourself constantly, ratify to your friend that you are indeed their best friend. These changes don’t come over night; it’s a long time process, which I like to refer to as the transition from my 20’s into my 30's.

Most of my close friends don’t actually live in the same city as me, and in our 20’s was when we all separated, after finishing university. Nevertheless, I do remember keeping close communication with most of them and I am talking weekly calls or emails. This would be considered impressive, considering most of us are in fact in different countries altogether. As our lives evolved and most of us found our life partners, progressed in our careers, formed our families, the quantity of time invested on our friends had to take a back seat. This was not a negative fall back; in fact in my personal case I have become more secure in my relationships, especially with my besties. The key to accepting these subtle yet significant changes in your relationship with your best friends is being secure within yourself.

When I was in my 20's I do remember actually calling my best friend at any given moment of the day, effortlessly speaking to her for hours even. Neither her nor I had time management issues or a pressing urgency to wash dishes, hang a washing or cook meals. We really did live in a self - involved bubble and even attended the 5-8 pm happy hours. Today if you asked me to join you for happy hour at that time, I would have to tell you this is my prime time “be on full alert” hour. Back then the things we spoke about were mostly clothes, make up, in depth analysis on the heart throbs of school and of course bitch about how tough our lives were. Really? I am not judging to be honest, because I was a part of that phase and I honestly had no idea about what I truly wanted because we were carefree spirits, embarking on the unknown mysterious.  My bestie was my lifeline and had it not been for those late night conversations that follow through into the wee hours of the morning, I probably would not be here today telling you all this.

Today I call my best friend from my car; if we are lucky we speak for 20-25 minutes, depending on the traffic we get on our way to school. I have learnt to make the most of every spare minute. I usually finish that call and live on the buzz for at least another 5-6 hours, smiling to myself because I had the most invigorating phone call with the one person who understands my life and I understand hers. I have another close friend in the USA and she recently had a baby. Our lives are a little different as I have already been through the years of raising a small baby and she is barely surfacing on that experience and has also gone back to work. Our communication is a bare minimum, but a wonderful text will always come through on my phone every so often, to tell me that I am “awesome” and I think it’s my elixir to last me the whole week.

In my 20’s I would spend hours shopping with my best friend, only to find we already had pretty much everything and would end up buying more of the same. Today my shopping trips get as exciting as going to the supermarket, running to the dry cleaners or chemist. As much as I love my shopping and don’t remember the last time I actually went for a few hours to indulge in myself, today I would give priority to those spare hours in having a long drink or meal with my bestie. In my 20’s my friend would have accompanied me to buy those pair of shoes I needed for an occasion, today I will ask her if she has a pair of shoes in her wardrobe that I can borrow and will go well with my outfit.

I remember the conversations I usually had in my 20’s revolved around both of us having a lovely monologue we effortlessly delivered to each other. The degree of self-centeredness was acceptable and completely normal. I say this only because I do not wish to belittle my 20 something year old friends. Today the first thing my best friend will say to me when she texts or sees me is, how are you? This will be a genuine concern to know how I really am. It sounds completely absurd to pin point on such a minor observation, but I have seen this to be the turning point of how one visualises a bestie in their 30’s.  I was once told that I have to stop thinking so much about myself and pay attention to those close to me and those who love me. At first I was offended, but quite quickly realised my reason for happiness depended entirely on the happiness of my loved ones. I was indirectly sad not because my life was a mess, but because something was not quite right in the life of my best friend. I made some active changes in my attitude and this may have come in my mid thirties, but was an elementary change towards bettering our friendship.

Navigating through my 20’s was indeed a combination of being in a disengaged confused state of mind and wanting to please others. I am applying this with my friends because I did feel the need to be in touch with them on a continuous basis and to tell them I was there for them. In my thirties I have let go of wanting to please and focused on active intention. My best friend will hear something along the lines of “I have decided to embark on this project because...” In my twenties I would have probably said “I really want to do this, what do you think?” In both scenarios we will actually end up doing what the hell we want, but the difference is not needing a seal of approval in your thirties. Your best friend in your thirties will completely support you no matter what and if they believe your decision is a bad one; they will warn you without you needing to ask for approval or advice.

Advancing through my thirties has been like receiving the gift of enlightenment and I honestly do feel like my best friend and I no longer give a damn about how we want to impress one another like high school girls. We would have had beers at a concert in our twenties and today we will drink champagne at 10 am on a Saturday, not feeling the need to justify to anyone why so early? We swagger through places with a confidence that in our twenties was masked by a box of expectations that shadowed us for a long time.

We still have our moments when we question our prescriptions of life and whether we really are doing the right thing. However, the agendas have disappeared and not seeing her all the time or talking to her all the time is no longer reason to argue over. We have both been shaped and dressed by our twenties and are now unaffected by trips being cancelled because my child fell sick, instead we move to plan B and meet up in my house and drink a bottle of wine.

I would like to say that one is never the same again, but the beauty is that you are only becoming a better version of yourself and your best friend no matter where in the world they are, is also going through the same journey.

Perhaps when I am floating through my 40's and 50's, life will truly reveal the butterfly that lies within me, but I can safely say that the growth with my best friend from 20s to 30s has been amazing and I would not change it for anything.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ladies Before Their Time

Do you remember when Hannah Montana was the ultimate Disney dream girl?  She was cute, girly, harmless and pretty much fulfilled the idyllic role of the girl next door. The target audience for Hannah Montana was 5 to 13 year olds. Suddenly one day I noticed Hannah disappeared and in came Miley Cyrus, this happened approximately eight years later and these 5 year olds were now 13.  It wasn’t really Miley I had a problem with, I mean she was clearly growing up and had to make a more validated career choice in accordance with her age, but Miley by then was a young adult and was promoting sexual images of herself and music videos that by no means were apt for a 13 year old. Her choices were sound as it gave her further marketing exposure, but the filtering process from Hannah to Miley was nil and it made the world see how vulnerable those 13 year olds suddenly were.

What I am getting at is the drastic effect this had on girls in the real world. There was a sudden movement where 13 was the new 18 and somehow little girls were stretched out to embody the mental and physical roles of 18 year olds. This again was not Miley’s fault, it was the way media handled her shift and her old Hannah image was still lingering in the form of rejected merchandise, and if you gifted a 13 year old a Hannah Montana DVD, she would almost feel quite offended.

Another example I picked up in a popular magazine called “Teen Vogue”.

 Their July 2014 issue covers an entire article on “Back to school makeup” offering even a tutorial for their readers. I am not against makeup, in fact I promote it fully as it can really add value to ones face. However, girls as young as 11 are being targeted for  this tutorial, so much so that there are specific teen makeup brands on the market now. It defeats the point of wanting to hold onto your childhood doesn’t it?

These are two examples of how media is playing such an actively influential role on the childhood of our girls. Are we shrinking down their childhood without even realising it or do we have a choice in the matter?

The truth is, it has all become about the girls lately. If we pay close attention to the rape laws in the Emirates or the child marriage and sex slavery issues in many countries around the world, they all are giving paramount importance to the girl and this indeed is a wonderful change from the 90s. At the same time though issues like weight, diet and being attractive are also part of the same struggle. Why is that? I have a 6 year old who talks to me about not wanting to become fat, and she thinks she also must exercise like me and not eat too many French fries in order to not gain weight. It doesn’t worry me that she has taken a fondness to exercise, but it does worry me that she associates weight gain with sacrificing her fries at the age of 6. I wonder if sub consciously I myself am influencing her thoughts. I admit I am careful with my food, but surely it must have been something I said to a grown up that made her react in this way. My point is, am I passing down my own fears about weight, fashion and so on to my own child, without noticing that media is already doing enough damage?

What is happening is that girls as young as 10 are not mentally or physically quite ready in their heads to address issues that the media is so liberally targeting them with, and if not targeting them directly, because of easier access to the Internet and channels such as YouTube, kids are being prematurely exposed to content that is beyond their levels of comprehension. Another example are music videos by pop singers. The radio plays a song that becomes popular and harmlessly our kids are singing lyrics like “Cause you know what to do with that big fat butt, wiggle wiggle..."

When the child goes one step further to find this song on YouTube, she finds herself with an age inappropriate video that accompanies the same song that she was simply enjoying in the car. If you have an open relationship with your child, questions start to arise and as a parent you often don’t know what to tell them. If they choose to hide from you the discovery of the video, well that’s when Pandora’s box is officially open and the answers will lie in the vivid imagination of this child. The truth is they themselves have no idea what the song is implying and associate it with having a bum that shakes. What comes from this is that they do suddenly start to notice bums and the size of them and clearly this is not what we would have hoped our 6 year olds to observe at such a young age.

Coming back to stigmas, girls are not born hating their bodies or their lives for that matter. There is something that is putting a damper on their spirits and self esteem. It is essential to pick up on what issues are affecting your daughter, and most important to detect the root of the problem. If Monster High dolls are being dressed with clothes that even Pamela Anderson would find too revealing and Abercombie and Fitch was retailing thongs for girls aged 10 plus (which later were rightly removed), I do think this adds a pressure on our girls to feel like they also need to “fit in”.

This automatically ages them before time and it leaves us wondering why the entire fashion beauty industry is banking so heavily on this new sexy clothing, miniature stilettos and make up to pre hormonal girls.

What to do?
Unfortunately a teenager is a dreamer and their brains are close to jelly at this stage. Anything can make them angry, influence them, muddle them and even derail them towards choices that may not be appropriate for them. A 10 year old is even more volatile; they are completely unaware of the meaning of many of these concepts and process in their minds what little they can comprehend. It’s paramount to allow teenagers to find their skin, but also to talk to them and allow them to see the choices that lie before them. For 10 year olds it’s all about idols isn’t it? Their idol should ideally be their mother or father, who is willing to sit and listen to their fantasy stories and know what they watch on TV, what goes on in the playground and who is sitting in their heads feeding them information. If we do this, we can gauge their growth and somewhat remedy this shrinking childhood.

I admit it’s hard, as a parent it frightens me to think what awaits me. Nevertheless, a consciousness needs to be created in the home. A teen or pre teen as we call them these days are like new-born babies. Nurture them so they enter adulthood knowing what calculated choices await them and let’s try to help these new millennium pre-teen kids.

I will end my article with a small scenario that probably occurs in every home and what different outcomes can be applied to handle the situation. A father is in the kitchen chopping vegetables and listening to music that his pre teen daughter normally listens to. She walks in, hears the music and states this is new age music and rather different to what he used to listen to in his days.

a)    He replies that he wasn’t really listening as it was just playing on the radio. She then states that it’s pretty good isn’t it? He replies that it is not really his type of music – father let’s go, even though daughter has invited him to engage further into what could possibly be a longer conversation.
b)   He replies that he actually likes to listen to all sorts of genres and this is cool too. She smiles. He then engages in asking her who is the band and she replies that she’s not too sure but it’s nice to dance to. He follows up by making a joke and asks her to show him some of her moves. She laughs and calls him an old man. – Light open conversation with open-ended questions.
c)    He asks her if she likes this music, if she listens to it with her friends? She confirms with her reply. He then asks what other music she enjoys and she replies in a vague but engaged manner. He finally asks what movie did she go and watch the previous night and with whom she went with? She openly tells him he’s asking too many questions. – The father started off well by taking interest in the music topic, then abruptly became personal and disengaged his daughter.

I cannot tell you how frustrating it can be to determine which is the right path to take. Clearly each teenager o pre teen is different and the outcome can vary from child to child. The key is to communicate and not give up.