I’m not that kind of girl!

Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m female! There that shocked you didn’t it? No? Well according to so many stereotypes I’m not… I can remember the time I did a test that told me in the results that I have a man’s brain. They didn’t tell me his name, so I couldn’t give it back.

I didn’t believe them anyway because I don’t believe that only men can reason logically (plus I’ve met a lot of men who don’t even have a nodding acquaintance with logic). I don’t believe that only women can be caring either. Some women are wonderfully warm and supportive, an awful lot aren’t. Some men are just the best at taking care of others, it doesn’t mean they’re not men.

It frustrates me that these stereotypes are still kicking around, the pressure that is put on children to conform is phenomenal, when you add in gender expectations it becomes ridiculous. So, girls and boys… I hate pink. I virtually never wear it, I own very few things that are that colour. I’m not really a pastel person. I don’t wear make up, I can’t be wasting my time faffing around with it. I’m not a sucker for babies, I’m sure they’re very nice, but I’d rather have a puppy.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Well, the thing is, I can knit and crochet and sew. I can also do DIY, fix broken toys, wire a house for electricity. I get interested in things, and then I like to find out how to do them. I like to read books too.

So my advice is: ignore other people’s expectations, find out about the things that interest you, go fishing, or ballroom dancing if you want to, and don’t worry about gender stereotypes. If someone has a go at you, realise that they are almost certainly more worried about what they think they should be doing, than you are about what you should be doing. They are threatened by you, and scared of you, that’s why they’re attacking you.

I know it isn’t always easy, but you have a responsibility to yourself, plus all the generations growing up in the future. Be who you are.

The Future…

How do you see the future? Is it more of the same dreadful, uncaring nonsense? Further and greater austerity, because we have to? Why do we have to? What are these cut backs supposed to achieve? What beliefs are they based on? None that I adhere to.

Before we assume that there is a real reason for the impoverishment of the already poor, we need to ask if the actions being undertaken by various governments will actually achieve what the politicians claim they will. And the answer is… NO, they don’t. The evidence already tells us that the espoused goals of our government are not being attained through their policies.

As that is the case, we then have to ask ourselves, why is that? Is it because the policies are ill thought out, that incompetence and stupidity stop them from being effective? Or, could it be that the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat alliance actually have a different agenda from the one they publicly assert? Are they aiming for something other than that which the media tell us?

These are frightening questions, ones that very few of us want to engage with. Either answer is horrifying to contemplate. We’re either being governed by an bunch of complete incompetents or, duplicitous bastards… It’s hard to know which is worse. I suspect the truth is that the answer is far more chaotic: there are some who are stupid; some who are liars; some who are well meaning; some who are principled; and, between them they continue to make bad decision after bad decision on our behalf.

You see, to me, the vast majority of politicians (and a large proportion of the general population) are missing the point. No longer should the government be there to govern us, it should be there to serve us. I believe that the wrong things are seen as important by people in government.

Can I ask, what is important to you? When you wake up in the morning what would you be devastated to be without? What makes you smile during the day? What gives your life meaning? I know for some people their answer will be their job, but I’m pretty sure they are in a small minority. For the majority, I think, the answer will be “other people” (I include the four legged friends in the category people).

When you, or a member of your close circle are ill, do you want to spend time weighing up which hospital is best? Or do you want to just go to the nearest one and be confident that the people working there will do the very best they can to heal you?

When your child is ready to start school do you want to spend time going around different schools, checking out prospectuses, even moving house, so that they get a good education? Or do you want them to go to the school down the road and be confident that the teachers will do the best they can to provide your child with knowledge and skills that will help them through life?

My future, the one I hope comes to fruition is one where your local school, your local hospital, your local everything, is the very best it can be. Where people come first and money gets back into it’s role of being a means of exchange. Where the jobs we do have a direct connection with feelings of self worth. Where creativity is as valuable as any other skill. Where being a caring, generous human being, makes you a role model.

Do you see where I’m coming from? I can’t pretend it will be an easy life, but I can hope it will be a future full of love and laughter, work and care, community and negotiation. Are we strong enough to make this future? I think so, if we join together and refuse to be distracted by the slight of hand merchants, who are still trying to sell us snake oil, our current government.

Smile!

In this day of insanity, as so many days before, we need to hold fast to what we know to be right. We are all human beings first, even before the beliefs and experiences that lead us to feel we are different. We survived on this planet long before anyone invented money, and we will do so again, after money has faded away as a bad memory.

We have changed the way we live our lives to a point where we have little contact with the truths that previous generations understood deep in their bones. The reality that life is nasty, brutish and short, life is part of a cycle. In the midst of life we are in death. Tragic but unavoidable.

Last night I watch the faces of the people on their way home after work. There wasn’t a single smile. This is not what peoples lives should be. If you find you don’t smile on your way home, at least at the thought of what is waiting for you there, there is something fundamentally wrong with your life.

When you understand the truths of the natural world, you also understand that it is important to make your life as rich (not materially, but emotionally) as possible. To make sure you smile as often as possible; to be creative whenever you can; to be out in nature whenever possible; to often be with caring, interesting people; to be alone, at peace, when you can; to pursue things that interest you; to help others; to do mundane jobs when they need doing; to learn new things; this kind of variety all helps to make your life richer.

When I was a child I had little self confidence, I was also painfully shy. I had firstly to learn that I could stand on my own two feet, that I was capable of looking after, not just myself, but also others. That I was capable of at least as much as most other people.

Secondly, I learned that I didn’t need to be shy. Many people are only interested in themselves, they tend not to even see other people as real. People who are interested in you fall into two camps, those who are genuinely nice people, and those who need to use you to prop themselves up. The only ones whose opinion you need to care about are the genuinely nice people, and you don’t need to be shy with them, they’re not judging you.

We need to re-root ourselves both in nature and in genuine, caring relationships. We need to relearn that we are capable beings with abilities we would never have guessed if we hadn’t actually tried them.

We also need to step away from the awareness that there are so many people out there who know so much more than we do. All that awareness brings us is insecurity. We don’t need to be insecure. Insecurity is a wedge between people, it pushes us apart. It means that instead of valuing what we’ve got, we focus on what others have, or have achieved.

Each of us has a unique way of bringing things together, a unique way of looking at things, we can all create ripples, not tidal waves. But ripples can travel far and, if repeated often enough, create real change.

So, smile! You have much to smile about. Create ripples, the world needs to change, more now than for many generations. Be the change you want to see, and be joyful about it.

Role Models – Episode 1

I am very lucky to have known a number of very lovely people through out my life. Generous, empathetic people. People who cared about others. Before I was born my parents took in a couple of youngsters who had problems at home. I know who they were, I know very few other details. I know my parents did the right thing for the right reasons.

My father cared about other people, he would cry (and I’m very proud of him for that) whenever he heard or saw anything about a child suffering. He was over-protective of his family, but we forgave him, because we knew he loved us.

He couldn’t bear to hear of any kind of injustice, and would get furiously angry about all sorts of things. But I can’t remember a single occasion when he got angry with me.

He was lovely, difficult, but lovely. He has been dead for 30 years now. I still miss him every day.

My first mother-in-law was also lovely. She was smart and generous and would always give people the benefit of the doubt. And if they proved they didn’t deserve it she wouldn’t bad mouth them, she just wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

She was good to me, she stood up for me when I left her son. She understood that I respected her for having made choices I couldn’t make, and I believe that she respected me for having made choices she couldn’t.

She had an understanding of human nature that more people should share. She was tolerant and that which should be tolerated (we’re none of us perfect) and angry at that which was wrong, though she was more likely to be angry at the behaviour than the person.

She’s been dead for 15 years now, and I still miss her too.

The other person I want to talk about was my great grand mother. She was 80 when I was born. She was bloody minded, awkward, and delightful.

My favourite memory of her, is visiting her with my mum when I was very small. She had a big, old fashioned, wooden, adjustable armchair. She was under 5 feet tall, she had a hunched back from osteoporosis, and she was quite frail. I can remember her picking up the wooden armchair, turning it through 90 degrees and collapsing into it. She then said to my mother “… dear, do you think you could make the tea? Because I don’t think I can manage it.”

She lived until she was 100 years old. She was always a sharp as a knife and knew her own mind. In her own way she was as tough as they come. I have many happy memories of her. I said when I was a child that if I was going to take after any member of my family I wanted to be like her.

I don’t dare ask… 🙂