Myauthenticself

365 Days of Happiness

‘Beautify your new day!’

‘Beautify your new day!’

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‘Think of water and how it moves around the rocks

It always finds a way to flow around, above, and even underneath them. Water flows wherever it wants to flow, and does not stop or get held up by the rocks. It keeps its focus on its purpose … To stay true to your flow, don't make the rocks in your life the most important happenings. Instead, keep your focus on your purpose to flow, and with that, find other ways around them to be and live your truth.'

This is how Jacqueline Pirtle encourages us to keep focus, in her book, 365 Days of Happiness,*  publisher Freaky Healer (2018)

‘Your NOW is where all your power lays’

‘Your NOW is where all your power lays’

Reflect on some of your Monday mornings.  It may look something like this:  alarm - groan - snooze - alarm - expletive - get up and comment on unfairness of the world - Monday mornings should be banned - look in mirror - groan - expletive - mental list of every flaw/imperfection/excess flesh - shower - open wardrobe - groan nothing to wear - clothes are all meh! .... you get the picture?  Sounds great, doesn't it?  Er NO?  How are we to maintain healthy bodies and minds with such a negative start to the day?

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Jacqueline, an energy healer and mindfulness teacher, offers an alternative start to the day.  374 pages cover 365 days of inspirational approaches, insights and mindfulness exercises to achieving happiness every single day.  In 2017, she decided to document her method for choosing happiness every day.  As adults and children take to social media for their next fix from 'likes', Jacqueline gently redirects this attention to being and living in a "high for life frequency of happiness".

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The Mind Body Spirit or New Age genre is as much in vogue today as it was in the seventies and eighties.  While the subject of happiness – what it is, how to find it, and how to keep it, has been studied extensively as far back as Plato, new additions to the library of work on this topic are still being produced.  However, as culture, language, and external pressures change over time, so does the approach that writers take to address the issue of happiness.

One of the author's core beliefs is that happiness manifests itself through a healthy mind, body and experience.  She further believes that although happiness is how we are meant to BE,  this state is not necessarily passive but something that we can learn.  Furthermore, we all have a responsibility to seek to BE happy.  Based on the premise that everything is connected, everything is ONE,  an investment in our happiness is an investment in the universe.  We are a part of that universe.

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 365 Days of Happiness invites you to take an affirmative and mindful action each day to BE your best happy self.  Jacqueline invites us to either reflect on a routine activity, imagine a specific scenario or remember a past event.  This is then developed into a mindfulness task, visualisation or decisive action for the day.

Dogs playing on the beach

Playful prodding and encouragement steer us towards an energetic shift towards happiness, and we are reminded of our…

' full power to change the state you are in … your thoughts, feelings and perceptions'.

Jacqueline’s whimsical approach to life and happiness is infectious; it will have you smiling at your willingness to 'do the twist' or imagine you have 'inherited a pair of pants'.  While these may sound simple and fun, her analogies are pertinent reminders of actions we can take or thought processes we could change.  She turns these into 'what if?' scenarios, list-making exercises, visualisations, questions, affirmations or 'Aha' moments.  The messages are timeless, and I imagine that when you reach the end of the book, you simply go back to the beginning again? 

Spilled coffee on journal

‘Imagine someone spills a drink!

Usually they are in distress about this happening. Now imagine that you say to them ‘‘it is OK, it is all OK. Are you OK?’’ Hearing these words lets them relax … to smile or laugh about their mishap. The word ‘‘OK’’ carries an energy of resistance-free, peaceful, acceptance, respect for what is…’

Self-acceptance, openness and happiness are examples of what you will be asked to embrace within 365 Days of Happiness.  It is slightly meatier than a simple quote of the day and some days the message may resonate with you more than others.  However, if you are forgetful, like me, it is only far too easy to ‘forget’ to start happy.  This is probably why I called my little dog ‘Happy’, it means that one of the first words that escapes from my barely functioning mouth in the morning is ‘Happy!’ 

One of my favourite analogies from 365 Days of Happiness is Day 154 where Jacqueline invites you to imagine creating your garden of ‘thoughts, intentions, wishes, dreams…’ You are welcome to visit other beautiful gardens that inspire you and bring happiness, but always return to your own. ‘Overstaying creates a disconnect with yourself’. Conversely you are advised to avoid gardens that do not feel good. We can sense negativity or destabilisation if we have strayed into the wrong garden throughout the day. Being mindful of this enables us to act swiftly and implement an escape strategy. In such a situation, Jacqueline advises us to ‘race back home’. Although the advantages of remaining true to ourselves is hardly breaking news, this captivating image of tending, improving and adding to your own garden is an enchanting one.

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If you read the book as intended, one day at a time, you will not only reap the benefits of a positive and uplifting start to the day but additionally, a thought-provoking message to ponder on.  This is not a book to digest in large chunks, as I did for review purposes.  I would recommend placing 365 Days of Happiness by your bed so that it may greet you with its happy cupcake on the cover.  Upon opening it, allow its gentle guidance to inspire and embrace you every morning with its happiness for the day. As Jacqueline states at the end of each day’s guidance,

‘That IS happiness!’

  Alternatively, you may feel guided by intuition, or a slightly rebellious streak, and open the book at a random page.  If so, go ahead and absorb whatever message speaks to you on that particular day?  Ideally, in the spirit of giving and sharing, position it strategically on the breakfast table. Other family members may ingest its daily dose of positivity with their morning coffee, smoothie or maybe …  a cupcake?

*Gifted for review purposes

 

What Thoughts Does International Women's Day Ignite?

Chic Over Fifty at Fuerta Ventura

Feminism Is Not A Tickbox

There are many good men in this world who claim to be feminists, who claim to respect women and strive, in their own way, to fight for women’s rights alongside them.  However, I have yet to meet a man who actually ‘gets’ it.  It is not in the big gestures, promotions, and declarations of respect.  Most of these areas are like moving particles gravitating towards the magnet of equal status and pay in the professional domain or a conversation touching domestic duties.

For I conclude that the enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; we deserve lipstick, if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious – or whatever we please. We are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution
— Naomi Wolf
Over fifty Close up with sunglasses Fuerta Ventura

Women, Choices and Comparisons

There is, unfortunately, a deeper core of attitude that permeates society and is the institutionalised patriarchy that permeates every expectation, conversation or action.  All too often equality is measured against male standards.  Pay women the same as men; give women positions of power like the men; give women a day off from chores by doing the dishes once a week. 

How about an alternative version, where women do not want what men have?  Where they make their own individual choices that may differ from male expectations?  Then, on choosing an alternative path, they are valued and respected for what they are and what they bring, rather than having to face comparison for not ‘achieving’ in the same way. 

I think the best role models for women are people who are fruitfully and confidently themselves, who bring light into the world
— Meryl Streep

You Don’t Have To Step Into My Shoes

Worse still, is when a man attempts to put himself in a woman’s shoes in any given situation and assume that he can make a judgement based on what he would feel.  Undeniably, that is impossible because he has never been a woman, in a woman’s role, with women’s history and the deep-rooted emotional triggers that exist because of that very history, experience and conditioning.  This conditioning is like DNA that has passed down through generations of women, but we now know that DNA can be changed, according to epigenetic theory ‘DNA can be altered through magnetic fields, heart coherence, positive mental states and intention. Top scientists around the world agree: genetic determinism is a flawed theory.’ * I just had to put that out there. 

This does, sadly, put our male friends at a distinct disadvantage yet my point is: occasionally, we should not attempt to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to feel empathy, to understand.  There are times when a person simply needs to be believed and trusted, not understood.  It is OK to say ‘I don’t get it … but I trust that what you say is real.  I won’t judge you.  I won’t try to fix you.  I have your back’

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‘‘I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story–I will’’

Amy Schumer

Still Learning at Fifty

There has been much written on diversity and inclusion lately on Instagram and on blog posts.  I look to see what I am asked to do to help, but refrain from commenting or preaching for fear of trying to appear that I totally understand.  Coming from a place of privilege where the worst I encountered was being teased in the playground for being Polish, I couldn’t possibly be so presumptuous as to claim an understanding by proxy. 

It has taken much thought and soul searching to get my ass off its organic cotton cushion and accept that there are some situations that I don’t have a right to understand, just as there are people who will not have the right to understand me – not only as a woman, but as an individual. 

All that we can do, as decent human beings, is to question assumptions and have each other’s backs.  It is not always about saying ‘I hear you’ but ‘I am listening…’

*https://www.naturalnews.com/042157_DNA_transformation_science_epigenetics.html

The Instagram (Fiftygram) Party - How Our Authentic Style Can Be Compromised for the Gram

It often works like this: you sit on a Saturday morning in your fleece pyjamas (OK, your elegant White Company loungewear) and see an image of the perfect outfit on Instagram. ‘This IS ME!’ you declare to no one in particular. ‘This is SOOO me, I now know what I need to buy to make my wardrobe perfect and complete YESSS!’ All that is required is a purchase of 8 of these vests, because I will want to wear them EVERY day and an extra one just in case (of what exactly?); I will of course require those elegant pants in two colours and that long cardi for layering. Then of course there are the accessories - the cheek kissing earrings, the tantalising necklace that sits just so on your décolletage and the statement bangle. Finally, there is THE bag! The bag that will finish off the outfit, serve you every day and indicate to everyone WHO you are.

Are you a ‘keep it simple, play it safe’ kinda lady?

Are you a ‘keep it simple, play it safe’ kinda lady?

Curating Your Perfect Image in Mid-Life

Having acquired the necessary items through various means - shopping spree, eBay, charity shop or even a ‘as good as damn it’ similar item lurking in the deepest crevice of your wardrobe (it ended up there for a reason?), you excitedly attire yourself in said perfect garments to create the look of your dreams …. or not! Oh dear, what is this, at best uninspiring, at worst, f@?>+$%g ridiculous concoction of garments before you?  Where will I where this?  It’s certainly not an evening outfit but would I go shopping in it? Hell no! Would I even meet a friend for coffee in this?  Yes, if I am prepared to sit bolt upright with carefully choreographed arm movements in order to even feel comfortable. Then there’s the issue of never removing the long cardi because you forgot to buy the appropriate underwear for these pants which are tighter on your ass than you bargained for. The bangle is a pain as it bangs on the table whenever I pick my coffee cup up, the earrings get caught on my scarf and the back flies off. There is an innocent victim, a man in the corner with a strategically placed earring butterfly on the top of his head. The necklace is giving you a rash because it is made of the devil’s metal. As for the bag, well I can’t put it on my shoulder because there’s no strap, I can’t hang it on the chair for the same reason, and it doesn’t accommodate my phone, my purse and my facial reconstruction kit? 

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All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go?

On reflection, if I stand in a certain pose, look in a specific direction, bend my knee, half smile and tilt my bum/head/ shoulder just so, and on no account … walk, this outfit is perfect for what exactly? …..

… INSTAGRAM! YESSS! …

That’s it, I have the perfect look for an Instagram party! Let’s pour a glass of prosecco (that we are not going to drink at 11am) to complete the look (why open a new bottle, sparkling spring will do - they’ll never know) and let’s party!

Life is a party. Dress for it
— Audrey Hepburn

Style Matters at Any Age

There is an art to curating your perfect wardrobe at fifty or any age, and it takes practice.  I’m still practising, exhibit B: slightly yellowed T-shirt for wearing under things – Really?  If you are looking at decluttering and minimising your stash of clothes, carefully considering what works for you is key.  Otherwise, you will never feel ‘lagom’, not too much, not too little, but just right.  That place is different for everyone.  There is the further complication that your efforts to simplify your wardrobe will become futile as a steady stream of new items enters your life to fulfil the dissatisfaction you experience.  Sometimes we feel comfortable, sometimes we feel we look good; our unicorn moment is when we feel both.  The latter is of course subjective, and it only matters that ‘we feel we look good’. 

Newcastle in cable jumper

“Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it”

Audrey Hepburn

True Elegance is Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Ultimately, we only need to please ourselves.  Over fifty style is whatever enables you to walk, talk, drink, chat and stay upright without thinking about it. In my humble opinion, feeling comfortable is more conducive to engaging with our environment and the people around us, feeling at ease and smiling more; that ultimately makes us far more attractive.  We are all different, and if we are meant to wear an elaborate flamboyant unusually cut garment, we will wear it often and with ease.  It will feel right, and it will feel like YOU; if it doesn’t, why build that internal wall between your body and your mind, between your body and your authentic self?

Dress as if you are already famous
— Audrey Hepburn
Who am I kidding? I should have worn a jacket … it was freezing!

Who am I kidding? I should have worn a jacket … it was freezing!

An Outlet for Creativity

Instagram is healthy if it is viewed as art.  A beautifully curated feed with skilful photography and engaging aesthetic can be viewed as a piece of artwork.  It may serve as an inspiration for stylish interiors, yoga practice, a vegan diet and many other things.  Recognising the reality of an Instagram account’s purpose, is a healthy way to enjoy and participate in the community.  There are things I can learn, ideas I can try and beautiful words and pictures for me to enjoy.  When I’ve done that, I’m putting on my favourite jeans, top and earrings (with one butterfly missing …. Oops!) and going for a coffee ….