Unbecoming

Definition : not fitting or appropriate; unseemly

The weeks have flown by, and I have failed miserably at the ‘art of blogging’. I am winning though… more about that to follow ๐Ÿ˜‰

The title word, and it’s meaning, is a word I can’t say I am too fond of. Growing up, I heard it far too many times! The sentence usually went something like this :

”That is unbecoming behaviour for a young lady!”

The year I turned five, I had a lovely birthday party at home with all my friends from pre-school. In those days I was not fond of wearing dresses, mostly because they were forced on me. (Nowadays I seldom wear them, but when I do wear a dress or a long skirt it is by choice, and I will admit that at those times dressing that way brings me pleasure.)
My mother had purchased a dress for me for the party, to add to all those hanging in my cupboard, much to my dismay! It was white (good grief, I don’t even wear white now because I still can’t keep it clean ๐Ÿ˜› ) with red polka dots. She made me wear my hair in pigtails, with bright red ribbons. The white shoes she purchased remained safe, as I kicked them off just a few minutes into the celebration! ๐Ÿ˜‰
There was a stern reminder shortly before my guests arrived that I was a young lady, and should behave accordingly.
And I was fine for the first little bit. Then all us children went outside to my front garden to play.

The girls flitted about, shyly giggling and picking flowers. The boys began a game of ‘touches’, and were soon running off some of their energy. Michael and James had other plans. (YES! I still remember their names – just not their surnames, and I can even tell you what they looked like, but I have no idea what happened to them after we left pre-school, or where in the world they are now!)
These boys were trouble for a ‘lady’, but they were who I chose to spend most of my time during school hours with, ha ha!
Their plan was to climb the Plumeria tree (also known as a Frangipani) in our garden… and I was all for it!
With a quick glance towards the house to make sure that my mother was still inside, I took off running behind them and soon I was climbing…. IN MY DRESS!
The trouble that would come my way if my mother caught me was nothing compared to the trouble I actually did get into in the end!
If only we’d stayed away from that one branch!
It was longer than the others, and we decided that we could all sit on it, in a row, and observe the others playing games and picking flowers. James went first. And all was well. I slowly crept towards him, and giggled when he said, ”We should get on the roof. Imagine the view then!” Safely settled, we motioned to Michael, and he hesitantly scooted along on his bottom. I saw my aunt come out of our house, and disappear quickly back inside. And I whispered to the boys, ”Uh oh, we better go! My mother’s coming!”
I believe the branch was busy dying… and our sudden panicked haste probably didn’t help matters, but the next thing there was a loud noise and we all fell to the ground, branch included!

None of us had any broken bones – but all three of us were winded. And my dress got torn! We caught our breath, and all began to laugh. Until my mother arrived to stand before us, hands on her hips, muttering about my behaviour and my dress! I was taken back into the house, to change and wash my face because it was dirty, and of course receive the stern lecture I knew would come if I got caught. I spent the rest of my party seated on the verandah with the other girls who were then playing with my dolls.
At bedtime that evening it was like someone had pressed play on a tape recorder as the words came again, ”That is not how a lady behaves. I am so disappointed!”

And I remember thinking as that little girl : ”But what if I don’t want to be a lady?”

The irony is that I tend towards being one anyway, ha ha! My friends often tease (and it really is a loving tease, and we laugh together about it) that I am sometimes so ‘prim and proper’, so ‘elegant and correct’, (although they always assure me that it is never in a stuck-up way!) and when I use big words my one young friend giggles and comments, ”Yes, Miss Cultured”. I remember going to a biker’s rally once and having one of the guys tease me that ‘a girl like me is too sophisticated and classy for a joint like this’ – that made me laugh so loud, I think he changed his mind ๐Ÿ˜›

There are times when I truly enjoy being a lady these days – but if I’m not wearing a dress and it’s a relatively easy climb, you might even find me up a tree ๐Ÿ˜‰

So that explains – in a rather long winded manner, sorry! – why the word unbecoming is not one I am fond of. ALL that said though, there is this :

And I happen to like the word as it is being used in the image above. There are things from childhood, from my teen years, and possibly even things drilled into me as a young adult, that have become, for me, ”limiting beliefs”. These things have contributed to the issues I have with self esteem – and have brought with them guilt and shame in so many ways!
And so, as the word stands in the image above, I have begun down the uneven and unknown path in my journey where I am trying to let go of a lot of those things, and acknowledge that there may actually be a chance that ”they” were wrong.
It’s not easy, and at times it’s quite exhausting. There are things that I don’t want to have arguments in my head about ๐Ÿ˜›
BUT…..

Back to the beginning of this blog post? I am winning, everyone! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am not getting everything I want. I am not getting to avoid the hard things. I am not getting an immediate relief from guilt and shame. I am not getting the instant ability of undoing the limits.

BUT I AM GETTING SO MUCH MORE along the way, as I occasionally stub my toe on a rock I didn’t see. ๐Ÿ˜›
And this time, I am truly appreciating each of those lessons!

Thank you for sticking around to read ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here’s to unbecoming – in a ladylike manner ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰
I hope you are all well โค

Guilt and Wisdom

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I have many ๐Ÿ˜› I do think that the advantage to the pandemic and lock down rules and regulations in various countries is that it has actually made us more appreciative of so many of the things that we have unintentionally been taking for granted.

Life-is-short-eat-the-cake-800x550

Photo credit : lifestylemaven.co.uk

It is ALWAYS a good idea for us to work on developing healthier eating habits and lifestyles. At the end of the day, we actually all have a reason to want to extend our lifespans, even if sometimes we feel blurry about it.

As with everything else in life, your food habitsย are choices that you make, and for the large part is something you can control. Financially, I can’t afford to eat the way I feel I should be…. but here’s the thing : it’s actually really that I can’t afford to eat the options I would prefer – I am not a big fan of vegetables, unless I can add in the extras to make them taste better ๐Ÿ˜› But I digress….

You probably all know by now, especially if you have read my gravatar profile, that one of my guilty pleasures is cheesecake. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have been very conscious of my eating habits in the past six months, and find that (much to my amazement) I am making the better choices more easily. (I even ate spinachย without cheese sauce yesterday ๐Ÿ˜› )
Shortly before lock down, my food diary caused me distress each and every time I strayed. I was so disappointed in myself for eating that small bag of chips, or eating that bar of chocolate.

The pandemic has changed my way of thinking when it comes to that. It reminded me that life IS short, and I need to eat the cake. Not excessively, of course. But that I need to be a little kinder to myself in that regard. I am not a huge food failure just because I ate a cupcake on my daughters birthday. I’ve realised that those small treats every now and then need not make me feel so darn guilty. Although the term for them is still ‘guilty pleasures’, I need to start seeing them more as theย pleasures that they are – yet another small sweet reward in the journey of life.

It’s a silly example, the one above…

But isn’t it strange the things we allow ourselves to carry excessive guilt for?ย 

My post today was actually sparked by this : I found myself feeling guilty about something this morning, and as I sat here dissecting it in my brain, sipping on my second cup of coffee, I realised that it is also a ‘silly’ guilt to carry.

Yesterday, I sent a lengthy email to a friend of mine, in response to some questions they had asked. (I always seem to reply at length, and often wonder if my friend ever regrets asking me anything ๐Ÿ˜› Being brief with people I care about has never been a strong suit of mine ๐Ÿ˜› They have to have the full outpouring of me! Ha ha ha!)
And yes, while I always feel guilty about the length of my emailed responses, it wasn’t the source of this mornings guilt.

This morning I was thinking about some ideas I had shared with my friend, and the strengths I felt I had in relation to those ideas. I spoke of being confident in certain areas that would make me ‘someone of substance’ to fulfill the ideas I had. I spoke of ‘knowing’ that there are many who I come into contact with who are positively affected by me, and actually seek me out.
And I found myself feeling guilty about that :O
I actually went back to my sent items, and reread that part of what I wrote.
Probably because my old self, and my old belief system – all the taught things that needed changing – were screaming at me thatย any form of saying anything positive about myself to someone else is being boastful and proud.
Exposure to the many people who had influence in my life for so long, who were filled with self-importance, had the effect on me that I became too afraid to even voice anything good about me out loud.

There was even a time where I would not dare to acknowledge that I even had strengths!ย 

Guilt can be a good thing. When it is in response to something ‘valid’. We typically experience it after doing something wrong, intentionally or accidentally, and in most cases your guilt is measured in relation to your own personal moral code. Guilt can help us to grow and mature. It’s actually rather productive in some cases, because if we see it for what it is, and are prepared to work towards righting the wrong, or seeing the wrong in us, then we are able to make the decisions to learn from the errors and apologise, or make the changes necessary to elicit a different response in future situations that are similar.

I found 5 really great tips to help with dealing with ‘guilt’. And I am going to share number 5 with you here, because I truly feel it is the most important one of all – to me, anyway.

5. Recognize that no one is perfect.

Not even our friends or family members who appear to lead perfect, guilt-free lives. Striving for perfection in any part of our lives is a recipe for failure, since it can never be attained.

We all make mistakes and many of us go down a path in our lives that can make us feel guilty later on, when we finally realize our mistake. The key, however, is to realize the mistake and accept that youโ€™re only human. Donโ€™t engage in days, weeks or months of self-blame โ€” battering your self-esteem because you shouldโ€™ve known, shouldโ€™ve acted differently, or shouldโ€™ve been an ideal person. Youโ€™re not, and neither am I. Thatโ€™s just life.

Guilt is one of those emotions that we feel is telling us something important. Be aware that not every emotion, and certainly not every guilty feeling, is a rational one that has a purpose. Focus on the guilt that causes loved ones or friends harm. And remember to be skeptical the next time you feel guilty โ€“ is it trying to teach you something rational and helpful about your behavior, or is it just an emotional, irrational response to a situation? The answer to that question will be your first step to helping you better cope with guilt in the future.

To read the full article, please go here.

And in closing, I want to share the conclusion I came to regarding the guilt I was feeling and processing on coffee number two ๐Ÿ˜‰

While I need to never lose the awareness, and continue working, at not being boastful or proud….
While I need to have the courage to acknowledge my weaknesses and work on them in order to experience growth in those areas too….
I also need to stop feeling so guilty and ashamed when I voice the strengths within me.
A healthy balance is always good : with food…. and with the things that we carry guilt for.

It’s a difficult one… one we probably all struggle with.

So above all, for me personally? My key word in all of this?
Wisdom.
In all things.

But for today? Mostly in this! ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

heartfelt contact

I received an email yesterday. Someone was genuinely concerned about me, and my absence from WordPress. This person wanted to know if I was okay โ€“ and to be honest, I am still not sure how I am, really. But this post is not to dwell on that. (There has been a lot going on the last ten days! Safety wise, the children and I are fine, though!)

I felt really bad when I received the email. Ridiculous, right?!?! Let me explain…

I tend to forget that there are people out there who may be concerned about me – people who actually miss my input… be it overwhelmingly me, or simply just a blog post. And I felt quite terrible/bad due to guilt of having someone worry because of me.

More explanations are necessary ๐Ÿ˜›

My real friends know every truth there is to know about me. My family don’t, because they’ve never bothered to ask – brothers, parents, cousins etc. have no idea of the things that I have been through. They’re too busy judging what they think they saw, and denying their roles. But my real friends know, because they’ve asked, and loved me unconditionally. A lot of those friendships have been built on 10 – 25 years of knowing me… that’s GOT to be unconditional love, right? ๐Ÿ˜›

Those real friends are my people. And they know me as ‘the strong one who always has a smile and a word of encouragement; the survivor who is always somehow okay’. And you can ask any of them, even in moments where I am not sure whether or not I actually AM okay (like now), or in moments when I SAY I am falling apart, none of them are deeply concerned about me… they just know that I will get through whatever it is I am going through. And although they reassure and encourage me with forwarded picture messages, and tell me that I have meaning in their lives, if they don’t talk to me for a few days, they don’t worry about me.

And because of this blessing (although sometimes it feels like a curse.. explanation to follow) in my personality, I am also the one that everyone comes to for help so that they don’t fall apart. And for some strange reason, there IS always a part of me to give. Even when I am sapped and think there isn’t. (Although admittedly, I take a personal sabbatical sometimes… but I struggle to resist the temptation of helping!)

The ‘curse’ part of this is as follows : there is very seldom just a concerned message asking if I really am okay. No, my friends are not shallow, and they definitely care for and love me. I don’t think I can explain it in a way that makes sense. I HAVE reached out previously, in moments of distress, and they HAVE been there. And the love and support has never been lacking in those moments.

But it’s very seldom that they will reach out to me just to ask if I am okay.

We have the types of friendships where we can not speak or see each other for six months, and when we get together you would think we had seen each other just yesterday.

And every now and then, the fact that no one checks up on me, sort of hurts. I was discussing this with a therapist friend, who comes to me for therapy sometimes – because even a therapist needs therapy ๐Ÿ˜›
Her recommendation to me was to tell them how I feel – and when I did, I got the answers I told you above – I am the strong one, I am the survivor… they know I am okay.

AND THEY KNOW that if I am truly feeling like I am at breaking point, I’ll let them know.

I’m okay with that.

Yesterday’s email made me cry.ย 

(I’ve been ill, and it always makes me feel a little more emotional than usual… but it also touched me deeply.)

The kindness shown in popping off an email and telling me that ‘you’ were concerned about me was completely overwhelming. While I felt terribly guilty that I had caused worry and concern, at the same time I felt cared about and missed. And I remembered what a comforting and soul-feeding emotion that was!

I’m still sick, so this is not the best of blog posts. But here’s what I’d like to say :

Think of your strongest, most encouraging, survivor-style friend… and send them a heartfelt ‘how are you’, please. They’ll probably say they are fine ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰
But please check in with the ones who always take the time to check in on you ๐Ÿ˜‰
That type of kindness simply has no measure.

And thank you to my blogging friend for making my day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And thank you to everyone who reads and comments on my WordPress – your input makes me feel loved and valued too. This community rocks! โค