I saw a cartoon on my Facebook feed the other day. And instead of it getting lost in a sea of hilarious cat memes and inexplicably glamorous mums flicking their hair about like nobody’s business, this one stood out. And I’ll tell you why. Because it was this:
Now I’m all for reframing. I did my NLP Practitioner course a few years back so I practically have a certificate in the magical conjuring of negatives into positives. But this one doesn’t even change the words. Just the tone. The intention. The belief.
And I’m not stupid. I know that on a day when you feel like the top picture – when your energy is low and your motivation is non-existent, it’s not so easy just to think your way out of it. Our emotions show up in our bodies, after all – sometimes it feels like they've moved in and picked out curtains. Especially the shitty ones. But small glints of light, like a twitch of a smile, a slice of sunlight, a deep, refreshing breath, can begin to alter the chemistry and ultimately lead to a more pleasing place.
And how bloody wonderful is the second picture? I mean, we forget sometimes that it’s not only us who are deeply ingrained in our internal worlds, but that everybody else is too. So actually, the likelihood is, that the way your bum looked in those jeans, or how you sounded at that work presentation, or whether or not your kid should have eaten that fistful of soil, is less of a big deal than you realise. Because those other people who you think might be so bothered are actually trapped in their own experience of the world.
Then, in a similar vein, last Friday I was whisked off to an International Women’s Day event at a café in Torquay called The Kind Grind. It’s a vegan place of wonder and has awards coming out of its plant-based orifices so I figured it had to be worth a go. I quickly realised it was, after indulging in the heavenly vegan white chocolate blondie for my breakfast (yes, my breakfast – don’t judge me).
Anyway, after reminding myself that nobody gave a shit (yey!) that I had my old ripped jeans on and they were potentially unfit for networking, I sat back to scoff my sweet, chocolatey blondie and enjoy the women speakers.
First there was Steffi Rox who owns and runs the Kind Grind, who spoke passionately about beginning feminism at home – about readdressing the male-female balance in our abodes and ensuring everybody does their bit to make everyday life tick along with as much joy and humour as possible.
Then it was Katie Kavanagh who shared her experiences of working with unwavering devotion for families and young people, only to find her female co-workers commenting she was ‘too much of a princess’, or ‘wore too much red lipstick’ or ‘wasn’t mumsy enough’. Say what? Is it possible that women are still judging each other in this way in this day and age? That we’re still getting in each other’s way after EVERYTHING we’ve been through? WTAF?
My rage was somewhat softened (and by the way, thank you Katie – it’s rage we need to feel so we can address it), by the next speaker, Clare Burgess, who apparently stepped in at the last minute. With her very understated but very cool t-shirt (which read in small print, ‘Be Your Own Inspiration’), Clare told us about the approach she takes to being a girl guide leader – how the guides are being dragged out of the dark ages and joyfully into the here and now of what it is to be a young woman today.
Finally, we were introduced to Hayley McLean (of Sparkles and Stretchmarks fame) who made an impression on me straight away with her ‘Women Don’t Owe You Pretty’ t-shirt (yes, I have a bit of a slogan t-shirt fetish) and her bright but nervous smile as she rose to speak.
It’s hard to put into words what Hayley’s speech made me feel, as I am writing a blog post here and not a blinkin’ polemic . . . but basically she talked to us about body positivity and the difficult road she’s had to get there. The doubts, the fears, the tears, the panic, the terror, the dismay, the defeat, the rage, the pain, the sadness and all the other exhausting, life-draining emotions associated with how she has felt about her body over the years.
As I listened to Hayley speak, I felt the tears rising because she was speaking words that may as well have come from me. I don’t need to go into it in great detail, and rest assured I have come a long way to finally get to this forty-year old, fairly confident self. But as the tears threatened to spill and the lump formed in my throat, I realised there was yet more work to do.
I’m paraphrasing but Hayley finished by explaining that when she’d worn a crop top on holiday recently, in actual fact nobody had died, and that while she’d describe herself as fat and a size 20, she’s also a blogger, a mummy, a mental health patient, an award winner, a wife, a friend, a daughter, an inspirer, a survivor and loads more that is a whole lot juicier than her dress size.
So obviously, inspired by the cartoon I’d nicked from Facebook, when Hayley finished I marched right over there and flung myself at her. I gave no shits about what anybody might think because right now a hug from this wonderful, beautiful stranger was more important.
After all, bodies – for all their shapes, sizes, wobbles and scars – are pretty damn good at hugging, aren’t they?
And maybe, if we women can adapt the mindset of 'Nobody gives a shit!!! - woo hoo!', we can concentrate on making OURSELVES and our own little corners of the world happy. Eventually there will be more people living an authentic, blissful lifestyle, unhindered by what others might think. Wouldn't that be fantastic?
In the meantime, I might as well feed that fetish and get that cartoon printed onto a t-shirt. What do you think?
Big love and go well . . . .
P.S. For the month of March 2019 I am running an ace competition. If you sign up to follow my blog, I will enter you into a prize draw to win a very cool set of 'Mindful Kids' cards containing 50 mindfulness activities to promote focus, kindness and calm in your family. I'll post them anywhere in the world! All you have to do is scroll up to the top of this page, click the 'Sign-Up' button and follow just a couple of easy instructions. You'll then become a site member and get a happy little message in your inbox each time I write a new post. Welcome aboard and good luck with the prize draw! xxx