Woman

Woman is powerful. Life-givingly, awe-inspiring. Captivating.

The raw beauty that the world relies on.

Only to be overcome by herself.

Her  own insecurities.

Her over trusting nature.

Her bad decisions.

Woman is powerful.

Realize this.

New Year, New Me

And so begins another year. As the fireworks fade away and the gyms fill up I feel myself panicking under the pressure of all that I am supposed to become. January brings with it the memories of a fabulous holiday, far too much festive food and a few new festive kilograms to make sure you don’t quickly forget the holidays. January also brings with it a myriad of resolutions, goals and dreams. Something about the New Year makes you want to change, to be better, to do more.

This year I was decidedly against New Years Resolutions until inevitably I fell victim to the posivitivity and peer pressure that is a new diet, new fitness programme, new reading list and new travel wish lists. As I stand now on the 20th of January I have more lists and resolutions than ever before, despite telling myself they never work and that I refused to disappoint myself.

The difference with this year is that at the top of these lists I decided to make one big resolution: This Year I will Chase Happiness. This is kind of a get out of jail free card if I don’t manage to accomplish all my resolutions, but in the same breathe it is a reminder to live. Sometimes taking stock of your life and writing down your ambitions is the best way to realize what makes you happy, and if each year, in each moment we chase happiness- we might accomplish every resolution, or might create completely new ones, or might bask in the laziness of a day spent reading. But in the end be satisfyingly happy. And isn’t that the real aim in life in any case.

hapiness is 2

Selfies, selflove and hypocrisy.

I have younger sisters. Teenage sisters. It is like having a backstage pass to that Generations roller coaster ride of life. In between snapchats and crop tops, I tend to judge them A LOT. I don’t want to come across as a grandma and I love current trends and fashion, and have even been known to send an ugly faced snapchat or two but somehow watching my sisters walk around midriffs on display, iphone in hand, brings out the boring older sister in me. On more then one occasion I have had a stern word or two about the effects of social media and the narcissistic implications of all those selfies with an often vague and unrelated quirky quote underneath on their Instagram.

As with most things in life, I found myself relenting to their madness and becoming a hypocrit. I recently got myself the iPhone 6, and of the things I LOVE about it the main one is the camera! It is such an upgrade from my previous phone and slowly but surely my camera feed filled up. And slowly but surely when left with nothing to photograph I found that little camera pointed at myself.

Selfies. It is like a dirty word in my vocabulary. Yet if someone was to steal my phone right now I would DIE of embarrassment at the amount of pictures I have of myself. Although I do not post these pictures anywhere nor send them to anyone, selfies have taught me some valuable lessons.

1. Looking after yourself is important. Nobody wants a photograph of themselves with greasy hair and yesterday’s makeup plastered on their face. So often I find myself out and shying away from photos because I am not confident in how I look. The only person to blame for this is myself, a little effort goes a long way and at 23 it is far too late for me to be realizing this! I have always envied some of my friends for how perfect they look, yet have always felt it vain to get my nails done or spend time doing my hair. I don’t think I will ever manage to be a high maintenance girl, and my bookshelf will always be more full then my makeup bag. BUT the value of drying your hair properly and some mascara everyday goes a long way.

2. Self love is important. Not that I am advocating narcissism, but you need to be secure in how you look. First impressions can’t be based on your personality as much as that would be ideal. Humans judge, it is in our nature. Feeling confident in yourself is one of the first steps to being beautiful. Very few of us live in a world where plastic surgery is the norm (thank goodness) which means that you are stuck with your nose, or your dimpled chin. Embrace it, nobody else (barring if you have been blessed with a genetic replica of yourself by your parents- I’m talking twins here, not A.I level robots) looks like you on this earth. That is amazing, nobody has your exact eye color mixed with your eye shape and the shape of your face. I am sure Zoe Deschanel had a few moments in front of her mirror as a teenager fretting about her amazing big eyes, which she is now so famous for!

3. The mirror is a lie. No, it is not some conspiracy theory that makeup companies created so that you would hate yourself, it has more to do with the fact that the mirror can’t see you all the time. Your mirror can’t catch your face crumpled in a laugh or sneak a peek at the sparkling in your eye as you see your crush. You are more than your reflection, and more beautiful while doing everyday things than your mirror would like you to believe!

Coffee Shop Counselling

I have an addiction. Okay if I am honest I have a few addictions. And I love every single one of them. No, this is not my version of Amy Winehouse’s song Rehab, and by no means do I take addictions lightly. Some addictions are entirely debilitating and I would be the first to encourage a friend to get help, but as for my addictions I don’t think I need help just yet. Call me a nerd, a dork (wow I haven’t used that word in a while) or a loser but my addictions are slightly more soft-core than alcohol or drugs. I am currently fulfilling one of my addictions as I sit and sip on my Cappuccino with foam, listening to a religious debate happening on my left and watching an awkward coffee date on my right.

I love coffee shops. The quirkier the better. The more isolated the more I love them. This is not merely because I love coffee, or tea (though I do). Nor is it because I love not having to make the coffee myself or to clean up afterwards (though trust me I do appreciate this). It is because the introvert in me, loves being around people yet being by myself. Sometimes I write, sometimes I study, sometimes I just sit and people watch. Breathing in the company of others but enjoying my own thoughts.

Today in particular, I am using it as an escape, I sort of cheaper version of therapy. It is an emotional day for me, for various reasons, but let’s not get into that. The girls I live with have shown me support since I woke up, my family has harassed me with unconditional love all day. Yet here I sit, just me and my thoughts. This might seem like a cry for help- who on earth wants to be alone around others when upset. Well that would be me. It makes me feel alive, it makes me feel at peace. It somehow makes me feel more normal. More human.

In fact most of my therapy methods would be seen as unconventional. Other than coffee shops, another favourite is escaping into one of my favourite books. This is often Harry Potter (and on more than one occasion I have reread all 7 books before feeling normal again), occasionally it is Jane Austen that offers the most sympathy and every now and again it is AA Milne and my childhood friends that have the most wisdom. This therapy is often accompanied by another, which is a blanket fort, I dare you to feel sad or scared in a blanket fort. This is easily made and the more you make them the better you get at it. I have an emergency kit handy complete with battery operated fairy lights to set the perfect mood. The last one is for when I am sad. Go to your computer, type in “Baby laughs at ripping paper” and I dare you not to laugh at the squealing innocent laughter that peels through your headphones. Okay maybe babies aren’t your thing, try typing in “Post wisdom teeth operations, funny”. The  things those people come up with will make the most hardcore drug addicts jealous. How did that woman think she would be Nicki Minaj when she woke up? Or the boy that thinks he become Mexican while having his teeth removed. Or the other boy who can’t figure out why his eyes keep leaking and is absolutely amazed by clouds. Funny animal pictures, yet another winner. And actually animals in general for that matter.

And finally as the cloud has lifted and my therapy method has worked I venture back into reality, let my family love me, let my roomates support me and my friends take me out for a treat. Whatever therapy works I guess.

Beauty and the brain.

The other day I went out dancing with a friend. A male friend. Who has always been (some harmless flirting aside) firmly in the friend zone. Disclaimer: this night did have it’s fair share of glasses clinked and shots thrown back. While standing at the bar singing along (quite melodramatically) to a song, he leaned over and said: “You are so sexy”… SEXY. S-E-X-Y. Sexy? I think I blushed from my toe nails up to my split ends. And then very sincerely informed him that, that could not be true. I am most certainly not sexy. Cute, maybe. Pretty, to some. But most certainly not sexy. The night ended, but the thought lingered on.

What actually defines sexy, and is this definition endemic to a culture; to a gender; or is it a completely personal decision. Is sexy based on beauty, provocative clothing or a dirty mind.  To me sexy has always been the unattainable picture of Scarlett Johansson in a red dress, heels, perfectly curled hair and her signature red  pout. Or one of the girls from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition- buxom with all the right curves in all the right places. Or Victoria’s Secret Angels.

image

I took to the inter-webs to find a definition of this illusive concept. The Oxford Dictionary (online) defined it as “Sexually attractive or appealing”. Urban Dictionary had a range of sickening attempts at being a cute boyfriend and defining their girlfriends as sexy mixed in with, “Sexy is someone that is another level of hot”. And heaven forbid you type sexy into Google images, you will be bombarded with half naked girls with their bums in the air.

This is most certainly not me. I do not see myself as overly sexually attractive, my looks are definitely not even in my top 10 best qualities, nor have I ever worn a red dress or been able to pull off red lipstick without looking like a baby prostitute. Lets not even get into the what my body looks like naked discussion, because that is definitely not anywhere near sexy.

Eager to understand how I possibly fit into that category I asked some of my other male friends to quite honestly explain to me how I was sexy, in the most unassuming way possible. Their response, “You are definitely sexy”. I ventured even further and asked for explanations. Both of them defined sexy as something that had nothing to do with looks but rather personality, sense of humour and “Just something you can’t explain”. I like where this is going… “Sexy is the way you talk, how comfortable you are around us, the jokes you tell, and the way you laugh”. Somehow this seems way more like a compliment now.

I realize that sexy is not a single concept, and even in my own use of the word I have slowly realized that when I say something is sexy it is not always the Guess male model with nothing but jeans and abs and a smirk on his face. Though sometimes it is. Just as sexy can be Megan Fox in her underwear. It can also be about wit and intellect, and each thing that makes someone unique. It can have as much to do with beauty as it does with your brain. And actually even more.

I found this wonderful quote by Courtney E. Martin, “You know what’s really, powerfully sexy? A sense of humour. A taste for adventure. A healthy glow. Hips to grab on to. Openness. Confidence. Humility. Appetite. Intuition… Smart-ass comebacks. Presence. A quick wit. Dirty jokes told by an innocent looking lady… A woman who realizes how beautiful she is.”

On life, death and wearing purple.

My mom had a birthday yesterday, a biggish birthday I suppose. On the eve of this age old aging tradition, some feelings were had, some tears were shed and some truths were realized. The feelings and tears were not mine, the realizations will however be something I will always treasure.

My mom fears age, she fears wrinkles, and hormones and health issues. She fears the small amount of fat deposits that have settled around her middle (and when I say small I am not under-exaggerating to spare her feelings). She fears being alone, she fears being lonely, she fears being forgotten. She fears what people will say, how they think she looks, and how she will be judged. She is the first to refuse to have a photo taken and the first to mention her own flaws. And this saddens me. It makes me want to cry out while shaking her shoulders until the thoughts manage to fly into her psyche and take root without her realizing. I want her to know how incredibly beautiful she is, how courageous she is, how worthy and how significant her life has been. I want her to see herself through my eyes, to see a woman that gave birth to and is raising three beautiful girls, to see a woman that has known loss yet walked through the flames with her head held high. I want her to see the naughty twinkle she gets in her eye, like a rebellious teenager. I want her to see the blessings she has been given, and to understand the depths of her intellect. I want her to hear the passion in her voice while screaming on the side-lines of my sister’s hockey game or at the ref on TV. I want her to see the joy on her face while laughing over a drink with friends, the softness in her eyes as she plays with our kitten. I want her to see that her age is something to be celebrated. Her wrinkles show life.

On the other hand there is death. I have been confronted with death numerous times in my life, however a recent story about a girl who I attended varsity with has left me jilted. At the ripe young age of 23 she was merely a glimmer in the eye of life, yet she encompassed so much of what it means to live. She was enigmatic, charismatic and alluring and this all comes from a distant perspective of her life. We were not friends, but on speaking to her friends and reading status updates, I feel their loss. This glimmer of life was taken far too soon- while on a gap year after varsity, travelling the world and following her dreams. Death. Gone. No more dreams, no more thoughts. Nothing. She will never see those dreams realized, her ticket home never used. She will never feel the joy of walking towards the love of her life, and making a commitment in a beautiful dress. Nor feel the thrill of growing a life inside of her, and holding that life in her arms and watching that life grow up. She will never achieve success beyond her wildest dreams, or know the disappointment of failure. She will not feel the cold sting of betrayal or the warmth of a friends hug once more. She will never again laugh uncontrollably, or cry for no reason. Her beautiful face will never get a single wrinkle, laugh line or scar. She will never have to worry about gaining weight or become obsessed with losing it. She will never have to look in the mirror and not like what she sees, because she will never see again.

This is what I realized. Life is wonderful, growing up is glorious and old age is a privilege denied to many. Cliché as it is. I did not read it on a motivational poster or search it up on Pinterest quotes. Although I am sure it is probably on both. I feel it in the core of my being. I want to live, and when I say live I do not mean merely exist. I mean I want passion; intense and barely controllable. I want to feel so full I could burst, and I don’t actually mind if it is full of love, full of pride, full of sadness or full of food. As long as I feel. I want to treasure each new stretch mark, and wrinkle and scar as I treasure each new memory, piece of wisdom and mistake. I want to read so much that my brain is full and my bank account empty. Dance so much that someday in the nursing home as I get up and my knees creek I can smile with a twinkle in my eye and a memory to warm my heart.  I want to teach, and learn, and write, and travel. I want to argue, and fight and cry and forgive and forget. I want to sing the wrong words on long road trips and have conversations with strangers on airplanes. I want to laugh so much that the laughter’s only choice will be to forever etch itself on my face, and so be it if that means laugh lines and crow’s feet. But most of all I want to love. I want to love so much that I simply can’t anymore, and then find it in me to love some more.

And when the big O comes, and I’m reaching the climax (and by the big O I do mean Old Age, for those of you hanging out in the gutters) I want to follow the wonderful Jenny Josephs advice,

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,

And I shall spend my pension

on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals,

and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,

And run my stick along the public railings,

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,

Or only bread and pickle for a week,

And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats

and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,

And pay our rent and not swear in the street,

And set a good example for the children.

We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me

are not too shocked and surprised,

When suddenly I am old

and start to wear purple!