I can't believe it's the 37th day of Lent today. Well done to all of you who've given up chocolate for Lent or some other foodstuff or behaviour you're particularly attached to. Every now and then, I have to remind myself what I've given up and what this blog is all about. I've been abstaining for Lent from negative thoughts about my body, appearance and achievements. I certainly think I've made progress on the first two. I'm learning to challenge those critical thoughts when I look in the mirror or see photos of myself I think I look fat in. I think I've still got a long way to go before I feel totally comfortable in feminine dresses or revealing my legs and arms, but at least I can go ahead and do it, even if I don't feel totally comfortable.
The achievements thing is another matter. I do tend to be very hard on myself - about what I've achieved or haven't or the decisions I've taken or 'mistakes' I've made. But what I am learning is that every 'mistake' (I'm using the inverted comma because I'm ambivalent about the word) is a learning experience. Admittedly, sometimes a painful one, or an expensive one, but a learning experience all the same. And sometimes things I think were mistakes actually turn out not to be, if I wait around a little to see how things pan out. The key is not to panic and to have a little patience (not one of my biggest virtues, as I mentioned on Days 31 & 32).
So I found myself in a bit of a panic earlier this week, wondering what to do with this blog, whether to just keep blogging here or turn it into a homemade site or pay a designer to create one for me, what to call it and how to focus it. But then I did that miraculous and totally underrated thing of asking for help. I put my frustration and my questions out there to friends, family and strangers and got some encouraging comments and tips in return - and at the same time was able to offer a bit of encouragement to someone else.
I was reminded to bring it back to basics and this kind of ties in with my last blog post about discovering our passions and following them. I know I can often get lost on the periphery of my passions. So I'll debate for hours in my head and with friends what to do with my blog or what to call a new site and will forget to ask myself what it's all about, and more to the point, what is it about it that I enjoy? What makes my heart sing? That's the key because, paraphrasing Frederick Buechner's quote from my last post, when I'm doing something that makes my heart sing I'm most likely to have a positive impact on others and the world around me.
So, for me, this blog has been a fantastic space and platform to write from my heart after years of writing from my head, to share my experience in the hope someone will be encouraged by it or learn from it and to get creative with words, links, photos and video. What I'm truly passionate about is sharing my own soul and that of others. That might sound a bit heavy but what I mean is sharing our deepest passions, fears, hopes, joys and disappointments, with a view to learning from each other so that we can all live fuller, more meaningful lives and make choices in line with our passions.
Yes, even to me this all sounds very touchy feely and I'm also wondering if it isn't a little arrogant to think my experience or writing might help others. But I guess that's what my instinct tells me, as well as some lovely comments I've received over the course of this blog. Whatever this blog becomes, I hope it'll continue to be a space where I can write from my heart and share my experiences and those of others. Maybe it'll just be a platform from where I can pitch articles to magazines with a far greater audience. If that's the case, that's fine too. And it has occurred to me that it's much easier to blog than do the scarier thing of ringing up a magazine editor and proposing a story and then writing it to fit their style and format. However, I think I owe it to myself to get moving in that area also.
I've just read something for some freelance book reviews I do. It's called 'A Game Plan For Life. The Power of Mentoring' by the late legendary college basketball coach John Wooden, who died last year aged 99. No, I'd never heard of him either before I opened the book, but then I've never been much of a basketball fan. It's funny, I do book reviews now and then and the book generally turns out to be very timely. So this book was all about absorbing knowledge from others and passing on wisdom and experience. He also had a fantastic definition of success: "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the best effort to become the best of which you are capable". I like that. And I especially like the idea of peace of mind as I feel I haven't had that much of it over the years.
This post has been very pensive so I'll end with a few thoughts on body image. Firstly, the Barbie debate. I mentioned the debate about Barbie as a terrible role model for girls or as a harmless doll on Day Thirteen via a post by Natasha Devon of Body Gossip. Personally, it's not something I've given a huge amount of thought to but I probably should. A lot of other people have thought a lot about Barbie and her impact, however.
Galia Slayen, an American student from Oregon, built a life-sized representation of Barbie to raise awareness around eating disorders. The Barbie stands about 6 feet tall with a 39" bust, 18" waist and 33" hips. Galia, who wrestled with anorexia for a year, said she didn't blame her childhood doll for her disease but Barbie did impact the way she felt about herself. Galia dressed her life-size Barbie in a size 00 skirt left over from her own anorexic days. I'd never heard of size 00 to be honest but according to various answers on the Internet, it's equivalent to a size 2 in the UK, although a size 2 actually doesn't exist in the UK. You can read more about the Barbie debate on this women's rights website Care2.
And finally, I'm pleased to say my weekend in the countryside cycling, camping, listening to live music and standing around laughing under the stars for hours helped a lot with my baby angst and filled me with a lot of gratitude for the things I do have in my life as well as excitement about a summer of more fun. But for anyone who is struggling with the whole baby thing and not just in their heads, I wanted to introduce a lovely lady and a friend of mine. Anya Sizer is The Fertility Coach and she offers help, support and advice to women and couples who are struggling to get pregnant.
So onwards and upwards. Working, planning, laughing, exercising, enjoying nature and practicing patience and self-acceptance in all areas.