Getting Older – Officially

It's My Birthday and I'm Officially Old!Today I am card carrying officially old. I hate it but the alternatives aren’t spectacular so onward and upward.

Getting older doesn’t mean you lose your sense of self, your sexuality and turn all invisible like the articles in magazines tell us. For me, it’s not going to happen. I have no intention of feeling “old” nor do I have any intention of no longer feeling sexy or flirting. I’ll flirt until they put me in a box.

The secret to staying young is having a good sense of self and knowing to your soul that you’re not any different now than you were when you were 30. Yeah, the bones are creakier and the face has more lines but the inner me is exactly the same. I just intend to keep feeling that way.

Another secret is keeping connected with friends. Don’t have any friends? I didn’t have any when I moved up here years ago but I’ve got heaps now. I started by joining different groups whose interests I share.

I like cooking, so I joined a weekly cooking class. All women my age and we have a great time. I’ve found some goddesses who’ve become good friends and I’ve found others through my blog.

How did I find others? Facebook, newspaper, meetup groups and Twitter. If I can do it, so can you. The best bit is once you start going out and being with new friends, your whole outlook changes. There are people to care about, to help or even to date but dating’s not been anything on my radar since I met John.

Another way to stay visible is to feel good physically. Get out in the sunshine, go for a walk, park away from the shop and walk a bit and breathe some fresh air. If your doctor prescribes medication, take it.  The number of people who tell me that they have meds but don’t take them and then complain that they’re sick all the time makes me crazy.

Finally, look in the mirror every day and tell yourself how much you like you. I do it every day when I get out of the shower and look at myself all dripping wet. I’m no pretty picture, that’s for sure but I really like who I am. When you like yourself, others will like you too.

Can’t decide what’s to like? There’s heaps. Are you kind? Caring? Thoughtful? Friendly?  Intelligent? Funny? Clever? Helpful? I could go on forever but everyone is special and has lots of reasons to like them. Grumpy or negative? Stop it. Nobody will want to be around you and why are you grumpy, anyway? Grumpy people have to choose to be grumpy so don’t choose it.

We all decide what our life is by the thoughts we think. When you are always looking on the bright side, bright things happen.

It’s Time for Men to Cover Up Their Nipples

baby breastfeedingbaby breastfeedingIs there anything sweeter or more precious than seeing a mother breastfeeding her baby?  It’s what the boobage is for.  Centuries of sexualizing breasts ended up this week in a young mother at a public pool to move to a changing room or more secluded area to breastfeed her baby.

The woman has three children and her two little boys were playing in the water and mum was waterside watching them when the baby decided it was time for the milk bar to open.  Now any of you who’ve heard a hungry baby cry know that there isn’t a mother around who’ll do nothing when this happens.

So as discreetly as possible she began to feed her baby while keeping her eye on her sons who are five and six years old. One of the pool staff told her that other patrons were offended by her breastfeeding and she’d have to move. Liana Webster told the pool employee that breastfeeding anywhere in Australia was completely legal but argument ensued and the employee told the woman that it was perfectly legal for pool staff to ask her to leave.

Liana began to cry, the baby began to cry and the little boys couldn’t understand why their mother was crying. They were at a pool where people wear next to nothing at all and folks objected to a baby getting a bit of milk from her mum?

Back to this sexualizing of breasts. What is it about our society that causes some people to assume our bodies are something to be ashamed of?  Just this week in response to what happened to Liana Webster, TV presenter David Koch said that breastfeeding is something that should be done away from a public area. Like maybe the ladies’ room?  Sure, everyone wants to go to the toilet to eat.

To be fair, it’s not just men who object to seeing a bit of boob – and I say a bit because the baby’s head covers most of it. I’ve seen much more on a local beach. It’s the fact that the baby is sucking on a breast that sexualizes it and both men and women can be offended.  So I think it’s time we covered men up. Men like to have their boobs sucked and many women find men’s nipples sexually attractive so I think they should have to cover their nipples.

Breastfeeding isn’t easy.  All the comments that breastfeeding women “flop their breasts out for everyone to gawk at,” is just not the case. Yes, the baby has to find the nipple and the mother has to drop everything no matter where she is and feed the hungry baby. When I had my first child very few women breastfed their babies.

“It’s so hard”

“You have to do it in the restroom”

“If you’re in public you have to cover the baby’s head with a blanket or towel, regardless of the temperature”

Then there was a huge surge in the promotion of breastfeeding as it was better for the baby and would end up with healthier, more intelligent babies which would result in less money being spent on health care. But… they still wanted us to cover up and not be seen. It reminded me of the olden days when women were deemed unclean during their time of the month and had to remove themselves from society.

Times need to change and people like Koch need to catch up. Feeding a baby is natural, normal and wonderful and anyone who has trouble with it needs to look in the mirror for a solution.  Men, cover your nipples.  After you do that, read these words from former US President Jimmy Carter. I respected him as President but after this I love him.  Losing My Religion for Equality

Women Haven’t Come Far Enough

stop violence against womenstop violence against womenWe’ve all heard the horrid stories of how commonplace rape is in India.  We saw the news articles about that young medical student who was so cruelly tortured and then tossed onto the pavement and left to die.  We read about how long it takes to prosecute a rapist in India – often 10 to 14 years.   We are sincere and solid in our condemnation on this heinous attack but often we think, that’s “over there” and it’s not like that here where I live.  And it’s not, but that’s not the end of the story.

In India, the government says they are doing all they can to fast track this one case but since that rape of the medical student there have been several other rapes, one of a  young school girl of only 12.  The opinion seems to be that any women walking around at night are fair game.  The medical student went to a movie escorted by a male friend.  One person interviewed said she shouldn’t have been out at night because only men had that right. India seems so far away from my home in Australia.

When violence against women occurs in Muslim countries, we think that there’s nothing we can do because their religion teaches them that men are better than women and women are to be beaten by their husbands if their wives don’t do as they are told.   The Qur’an states that men are the maintainers of women and if they don’t have sex with their husbands or if they want to leave it’s perfectly okay to beat them.  Beatings are appropriate and necessary to keep women in their place.  Not all Muslim men beat their wives, let me be clear about this, but Islam permits it. It’s not a crime to beat your wife under Islamic law. As long as a major religion says beating your wife is okay, what chance do women there have?

A bit closer to home at our nearest neighbour in Indonesia, a candidate for the Indonesian Supreme Court (maybe I should type that twice for emphasis) was being interviewed this week by politicians to determine his suitability for the position.  When asked if the death penalty should be given for rape, he joked that it should not because rape victims enjoy the rape as much as the perpetrator.  It’s okay to pick your teeth up off the floor now.

We look at the issues in India and we think, “many poorly educated men, improperly taught about the rights of women,” and we can understand where they’re coming from even while condemning their actions.  The jerk in Indonesia going for the top legal job in the country is well educated and well respected.  What does that say about how the upper levels of government there feel about women?  To them women are not equal to a man, they have few rights and are on this planet to serve men.  That’s how I view this.

Now back home in Australia.  A heavily pregnant woman and her husband and child went to a car park last week so they could pick up some potting mix.  The woman was really tired so she stayed in the car while her husband and little boy went into the shop.  While sitting her her car she heard a man shout and then she saw a woman running past her car.  Following the woman was a man that looked really angry and yelling, “Get back here,” and raising his fist.

Another woman saw the incident and she got out of her car and along with the pregnant woman tried to break up the fight – the man had grabbed his wife by the throat and had thrown her to the ground.  The perp saw the women coming after him and dragged his beaten wife into his car and drove away.

You might be thinking that these women are to be praised for trying to help and you’d be right but that’s not the whole story.  Standing around watching the guy beat his wife were several men who seemed to be watching the show as if that was a personal problem and none of their business.  The man owned the wife, right?   He can do what he wants with her and it’s none of our business, right?

Where do these notions come from and what do we as a nation have to do in order to change this culture?  It’s no wonder women are paid less than men for the same work when the assumption by men is that we are somehow worth less.  Violence against women is preventable but it will take all of us to do our part.

We women need to do more to assert our equality.





Allowing Ourselves to Be Happy

I'm moving to Happy StreetI wrote recently about how I want to change the words I use after I say, “I Am…”  Today I read a blog post from a woman I met at a blogging workshop in Brisbane last year.  She’s funny, creative, clever and terrific to sit next to at a workshop.

Debbish wrote a post yesterday titled “Getting Out of the Way” and it spoke to me.  I know you know what I mean about reading things just when you need them and how powerful they can be?  That’s the sort of post this was.  In a way it was like I felt when I read about changing what I say after I am.

She writes that nobody can give us permission to be happy but ourselves (and I believe nobody can take our happiness away unless we give them permission as well).  To get rid of what’s holding us back we need to challenge our assumptions and identify our underlying beliefs.

While my personal situation is much different from Deb’s, the self-doubt, the questioning of why I am where I am and do I deserve anything more than what I have already is very much the same.   Here’s one of her confessions:

“Although I don’t want to be fat and single forever and although I WANT to be attractive to the opposite sex, I overeat and binge-eat – making me fat. And single.” Ta da!”

The thing is, I’ve met Deb and I don’t see her the way she sees herself at all.  To me, she is smart, clever and funny, not to mention really attractive.  The weight?  She’s rounder than she’d like to be but that doesn’t stop anyone from finding someone fantastic to love.  She admits that she knows there are people like me who know she’s attractive and desirable but until SHE can feel that way, she’ll never reach out to a man.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  After reading about her self doubt and things she cannot seem to change — I asked myself, “Ddo WE have similar issues that are in our heads and not in any way real?”  I suspect we do.  These underlying beliefs keep us where we expect to stay, all the while yearning for something different.

For me, that’s where changing the words after “I am” hopefully will make a difference because I Am…  clever, compassionate, friendly, kind, intelligent, caring, thoughtful, attentive, respectful etc., etc.  No more will I buy into what my mother said about (and to) me when I was growing up.   I’ve lived a lifetime hearing in my head and also saying aloud,  I am not… living to my potential, a slut, a horrid writer, selfish, fat, undesirable, unlovable and more things that still hurt to think about.  After reading all that you’re only wondering why my mother told me I was a slut, right?   A group of friends were outside at our house when I was 18 (seriously) and the girls got on the boys’ shoulders and we tried to knock each other off.  I was slut because a boy’s head was between my legs.  Yes, now you know why I’m fucked in the head but see how far I’ve come!

Please visit Diet Schmiet and follow Deb.  She’s got a lot to say and I like it all.

Why Americans Are Loud

american aren't intentionally loudI know you’ve heard it said heaps of times and maybe you’ve even said it yourself, “Good Lord, those Americans are loud!”  Okay, I’ve said it too and well…  I’m an American as well as an Australian.  I know it’s fun to slam Americans when they’re silly and I do a fair amount of that myself.

We do have a rule in our house.  The words you and Americans can never be used together.  You can probably guess why.

At a recent dinner party, the host said something about meeting an American the day before and without thinking I said, “How loud was he?”

Andrew looked at me and said, “He wasn’t loud, he was American.”

I wrinkled up my face and said something really clever like, “huh?”  I’m really good friends with his wife but it was the first time I’d met Andrew and I’m sure I made a great impression.  Andrew lives in Sydney, has lived all over the world and as a young man spent a long time studying acting.

“Maureen, Americans aren’t “loud” it’s how you speak,” he said.

Even more confused than ever, I took my wine glass and my chair and moved so I could sit next to him and not be interrupted.  It seems that in acting school one of the things you need to learn are accents so you can qualify for all sorts of different roles.  I think I must have known this intuitively but when Andrew explained how it worked I was intrigued.

“Americans talk through the back of their mouths.  It’s why they have Rs and accents are not as important as HOW they speak.”

“Please explain?” I asked.

He went on in detail about how Australians talk through the front of their mouths.

“Notice how little our lips move and we talk rather softly because of that,” he told me, “and we’re used to this volume as it’s how everyone talked when we were kids.  We didn’t have Americans in our classrooms or in our homes.”

Americans speak from the backs of our mouths so we have, for lack of a better term, megaphone mouths.  We’re not talking loudly, we’re just talking and it comes out loud because of how we talk and it’s not that we’re turning up the volume.

I instantly felt better about all the times I’ve cringed in a restaurant when a group of Americans were talking over everyone.  They’re not yelling, they’re talking and they don’t realize they’re louder than people who talk from the fronts of their mouths.  They’re used to talking around other Americans who all talk the same way.

Now to be fair, I have no scientific knowledge if this is true but it makes really good sense when I think about it.  Andrew lived in the US for a while and he kept saying phrases with an American accent and then said the same thing with his normal Australian accent and the volume difference was striking.  He said he wasn’t increasing the volume, only changing where the sound came from.

Try it.  Talk with the front of your mouth and then open your mouth and talk from the back.  I’ll never bitch about a loud American again and I will be careful when in a crowd to talk from the front of my mouth.

I Am…

I am...   wonderfulI went walking at Point Cartwright this morning with my friend Madonna and during our conversation she said she’d come across a terrific post about the use of the words I Am.   When it comes to negative self-speak I think you’ll find I wear the crown.

Just today I heard myself say in my head:

“We’re so broke for the next two weeks.”
“I wish I could have afforded to go to the workshop last night.”
“Will my back pain EVER go away?”

Notice that there were no positive thoughts in there like:

“We’re earning more money and in a couple of weeks we’ll be fine.”
“My back feels a bit better today and it will get better as I walk more and lose a bit of weight.”
“Our creativity is amazing.  We’re getting so many new things launched.”

So nobody needed to hear about “I Am” more than I did today.   I could give you a library of I am nots.   If I do anything good for myself in 2013 it will be to overcome the vision I have of myself as I am NOT everything under the sun.  I need to listen to the voice inside me that knows I’m clever, friendly, giving and kind.   I plan to trust that voice again.

I can hear some of you say, “it’s taken you THIS long to get here?”  Yeah, well, sometimes I’m a slow learner and I’ve been getting my ass kicked by the universe for several years now and it’s time to take stock and listen.   I know I’m not alone in waiting a lifetime to learn these lessons and if I could tell someone much younger, this is what I’d say.

You are special and you are unique and you came into this existence with a plan but it’s gotten a bit fuzzy since you arrived.  You can find clarity and purpose but only when you get quiet and listen to that inner voice of yours.  It will never steer you wrong.

How do I know this?  I’ve proved it.  I lived a glorious life filled with love, laughter and money and then forgot how.  I’m working my way back but when I was on top I was meditating every day, visualizing just what I wanted in my life and I was grateful for everything I had.  Then I got grumpy and I stopped meditating and I stopped feeling grateful for what I considered to be nothing good in my life.

Yesterday I read an article by a blogging friend of mine who said that the world has never been better in its history, in spite of global warming, wars and threats of war, weather events and more.  I thought, “huh?” but what about all we read in the news or see on TV?   My friend wrote, “the truth is there are fewer people living in poverty than ever before in history, we have more gadgets to make life easier than ever before in history and we’re more connected now than ever before and no government will ever be able to stop us from speaking out because of that connection.”  So why are we always looking at the negative side?   Good news doesn’t sell.

If I need to stop watching the news to get to where I want to be by the end of 2013, then that’s what I’ll do because I’m committed to making 2013 the best year of my life.  I know I can do it and you can too.  Join me.  🙂