Happy New Year to all you beautiful people who have helped make my 2012 so interesting. May love, peace, and joy, accompany you on your life journey.
We women have bodies in every size and shape. The range of hair color is amazing. Eye color, too. So why are we never satisfied with what we have, with the way our bodies look? We are short and tall, thin and not-so-thin, have hair that is blonde, brunette, black, red; that’s wavy, curly, or straight. Our eyes are brown, blue, hazel, green, violet, black. Whatever we have we want something different. If we’re short, we wish we were tall; if we have straight hair, we wish it was curly; if we have curly hair, we wish it was straight. Some of these things we can change; colored contact lenses, perms, straighteners, hair dyes. But our bodies are something different. We can’t be what we are not, even though there are those out there who tell us we can.
And I’m not totally blameless here, either. I’m short and wished I were taller. I’ve never, ever, had a perfectly flat belly. I’ve fought my weight since puberty. Then somewhere around the age of 50, I began to truly understand that I would never have the body I thought I wanted. My body is determined to stay the shape it is and nothing I can do will change that.
I came of age in the 60s, when Twiggy was the latest thing in fashion. Her boyish body made all of us feel fat, even if we weren’t. Fashion model figures are unobtainable for almost all of us, so why do we still try? The few top fashion models are fortunate that they have the body shape and bone structure to look the way they do. And they have to work hard at maintaining that famined look. I was happy to see there is an 80 something fashion model who is still working; that there are more models out there with curves instead of sharp angles; and there are now plus-sized models who are well-known.
Change comes slowly to society, and it has to be demanded by the majority, and it has to be sold as absolutely necessary. I often ponder some of the things we women are expected to do and be. Who decided that hair on women’s legs and underarms was a bad thing and should be removed? Who decided that women wearing dresses or skirts had to wear stockings or pantyhose, or tights? And who decided that women’s breasts had to be confined and constrained in corsets and bras? Who came up with the idea that women had to wear makeup to look good? Many of us have bought into these ideas and now can’t imagine not doing some of these things. We were raised to think these were good; not doing them was bad. I admire the women with enough courage to break the mold. They are the women we should appreciate as good role models.
I have learned to love my body. It is the only one I will have in this life and still works wonderfully well considering how old it is. It isn’t perfect by society’s standards, but it’s perfect for me, and that’s what’s important. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have a model’s body; that I will never be tall; that clothes never fit quite right. But I can also alter clothes so they do fit well; I can carry myself with good posture and grace; I can continue to eat healthy foods and exercise with the goal of being fit. I have this one body, this one life, and feel blessed to have it.
Why keep a Gratitude Journal, you ask? Well, maybe you didn’t ask; but I’ll tell you anyway. In a world of negativity, it is extremely difficult to keep a positive attitude. Wars, the negative political climate, economics, unemployment, hunger, etc. can weigh us down and make us feel that life isn’t worth living. I’m here to tell you that life is well worth living. There are so many good things happening, and there is beauty all around us, if we would only see.
It’s easy to sit on the pity pot and ask why me? It’s a lot harder, at least at first, to ask why not? When good things happen, we seem to take them for granted and only pay attention when bad things happen. Let’s change that. I have been keeping my Gratitude Journal online for over four months, and before that, I kept one on paper. It has made a tremendous difference in my attitude; and that’s what life is – attitude. We can’t change or control outside events, but we can control how we react to them. When we are surrounded by negativity we can do one of two things: we can allow that negativity to consume us and drag us down; or we can continue to be positive by focusing on what is good in our lives.
I only post 3 things every day that I am thankful for, and some days it’s hard to find even one. I don’t think anyone is immune to the negative clouds wafting in our direction every day. But once I start writing I find it’s sometimes hard to keep the list to only three. I invite you to view my Gratitude Journal at: http://newbeginninggratitudejournal.blogspot.com/ and perhaps even start one of your own. The items on the list don’t have to be big things.
One day, I was stuck in traffic coming home from work. I have learned to be patient and not lose my cool about taking longer to get home. When I pulled up to the last intersection by my house, an accident was in the clearing stages. If I had been on time driving home, that could have been me being carried away in an ambulance after my car was totalled. So it’s all in how we view things.
Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude!
We always have choices. We may not like what they are, but they are our choices regardless. Sometimes, it’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but it’s still a choice. I hear people moaning about how they had no choice, and I want to shake them and tell them to wake up. Here’s an example:
Suppose I hate my job. I would love to quit but think I have no choice but to keep working. But that is wrong. I can choose to keep working at this job because it means I can eat and have a roof over my head; I can quit my job and perhaps lose my home; I can find another job that I like better (or hate less!) There are probably other options besides these three.
We make choices every day; what to eat, what to wear, whether or not to respond to an email or voice mail and how to respond. Some are conscious decisions; others we make without thinking about it. Doing nothing at all is also a choice. Sometimes we feel so paralyzed by the options available that we choose to do nothing.
Joyce Sequichie Hifler said: “If we don’t choose what we want in our lives, then life will decide for us.” It is up to us whether we will just roll with whatever comes our way or fight for what we want out of life. We don’t have to agree with everything we see and hear; we must think and act for ourselves, for what we want out of life. There is always a choice.
How did you get to where you are today? Would you be who you are today if all your experiences had been positive? It has been said that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger (Friedrich Nietzsche) but is that really true?
I know that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the experiences I have encountered in my life, good and bad. I truly believe that, as Dolly Parton said, if you want to have the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. Life is a journey through good times and bad. If we don’t have the darkness, we don’t appreciate the light. And just because we have light, doesn’t mean that darkness doesn’t exist; just because we have food doesn’t mean there isn’t hunger in the world.
We can’t expect to only have good times or only have bad times. We have to believe that the bad times will end; that the good times may be fleeting but we must enjoy them. All of us experience events differently; what may be good for one may be bad for someone else. We cannot judge what someone else feels by how we feel about the same thing. Our experiences are different; our emotional makeup is different; we are unique. So how do some people survive horrendous events and others don’t? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that our attitude has a huge influence on how we view events. I have seen people devastated by divorce who spend the rest of their lives angry and resentful. I have seen others who use the experience as a stepping stone to a better life.
I try to put a positive spin on everything (like Pollyanna??) but I believe that in the long run, it serves me well.
What would you like people to say at your eulogy? What will they say? Most of us find it hard to be objective and see ourselves as others do. Think about it. Write your ideal obituary. Now look at it. Is that who you really are? If so, good for you; if not, how can you live up to how you want people to remember you. Start now. Take one thing at a time and change it. Trying to change everything at once isn’t always possible, so pick the most important behavior or attitude you want to change and create a plan. Give yourself a few days to come up with the plan; change it, refine it, add to it, delete from it; but set a time limit. It would be very easy to just keep changing the plan and never implementing it. Once you put the plan into motion, you can refine it, but follow it. Give yourself 3 weeks to change. Once you have changed that first characteristic, start working on the next one. You may find that changing just one thing will trigger changes in other areas of your life, and some of those things you want to change will change on their own.
Let me know how it goes for you.