COVID-19 & TIME TO REFLECT
During lockdown, I did, intentionally, do a great deal of self reflection (as in a past blog – Just What Defines You?) and have subsequently continued with this. I came to a conclusion. Said conclusion .... sod what others may think about me. In the past, I have endeavoured to, and at times have had to conform, to be ‘what I was expected to be’ if I was able to fathom out just what that was.
I am content with the person that I am. If you don’t like me, then there are plenty more people for you to choose as your friend. For me, lockdown has seemingly led to a shuffling of the deck as far as friends goes. There have been those who have chosen to keep in touch with me. There are those who I too have chosen to keep in contact with. I have one friend who lives alone, a good distance away, with whom I have spoken every single day since the beginning of March. We both agree that these calls have been one of our main ways of keeping on a relatively even keel during lockdown. Then there have been friends who have checked in on me, brought baking round, shopped for me. People that I cared about before – people who I am grateful for being in their lives even more so now. There are others who I am so very pleased not to have heard from, as I know that communication would have been in the form of a head pecking – rather than asking how I was, simply telling me what I SHOULD be doing.
OK, I may not currently be content with the outward manifestation of ‘me’ – the bulges due to the weight gained and exercise not partaken of during lockdown. No excuses as I only have myself to blame for this. I enjoyed my food – including the bars of chocolate that the friend who did my shopping included in my bags. I mean, it would have been downright rude not to have eaten them when she had gone to the trouble of reaching out, grasping the bar and putting it in my basket. Then there were the home made scones, still warm from the oven, brought down the lane by another friend. Impossible not to eat them whilst still so fresh. I was always taught not to be rude, so I was merely being a good girl and responding to those messages from times long past! Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I ate healthily apart from that occasional block of chocolate or scone, but I seemed emotionally unable to step past my gate to go for a walk, which usually I really enjoy. Now, however, I am woman on a mission – a long existing element of who I am. So, portion sizes back down, daily online ‘move more classes’, those walks reinstated – and chocolate or scones are strictly for a very occasional treat. Got to have some naughtiness in there – another one of those elements of what I am!
I am generally a good girl - honestly - but I need something to allow me to let my hair down, to spice up the goodness in order to prevent it from becoming cloying for me. How well I remember my Mum and Dad trying to persuade, cajole me to take some medicine. My, somewhat stern, uncle arrived and announced ‘This is how you do it’ in a very strident tone. He poured out a spoonful of the yucky stuff, grabbed my nose, so forcing me to open my mouth. He poured in the medicine – and I spat it out - right into his face which was far too close for my comfort, but handily within spitting range. It dripped from his glasses, it dripped from his nose and I am convinced that whilst my Mum looked aghast at what I had done, my Dad was struggling to hold back a grin.
I guess the nearest I come to letting out that aspect of my inner child is to crunch through or kick up the piles of Autumn leaves. Maybe having a good old heartfelt blast of swearing when certain politicians hove into view on my lap top or tv counts too, as this would certainly NEVER have been allowed when I was still living with my parents....Sorry Mum.
THE MUSICAL VERSION OF ‘I AM WHAT I AM’
I can’t talk on this topic without mentioning the song bearing the same title. There are several versions of what I feel should be the anthem for myself and many others who don’t feel a constant need to conform, whilst simultaneously not allowing this to become selfishness or affect others in any adverse way. It was a hit for Gloria Gaynor, but my favourite version puts a spin on the piece. It is Gloria singing but it accompanies a WORLD VIEW VIDEO. This shows a large selection of some of the ‘I’s that make up the amazing melting pot that we call our home. Amongst the snatches, I am delighted that there is one of Manchester – my point of entry into said melting pot. All to the words -
I am what I am
I don't want praise, I don't want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it's noise, I think it's pretty.......
For some years, I have had a poem from a 1979 book by John White and James Fadiman that I would reflect on. Although more accepting of and content with the person I am, I still like to read it. I haven’t stopped making changes, or stopped learning, or stopped doing things on my imaginary bucket list. Guess those remain important elements of who I am.The piece is entitled:-
If I could live it over –
If I had to live my life over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I would limber up.
I would be sillier that I have been this trip.
I would take few things seriously,
I would take more chances.
I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live seriously and sanely hour after hour, day after day.
Oh I’ve had my moments. And if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them.
In fact I’d try to have nothing else,
Just moments, one after another,
Instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had it to do again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had to live my life over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in autumn.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
WHAT ARE WE AS INDIVIDUALS?
Should that be ‘I am who I am’ rather than ‘I am what I am’? What gives us that individuality, uniqueness, distinctiveness? Is it just our little quirks and foibles that make us different, our personality and characteristics and how they meld together to make each of us individual. An article on the subject of our authentic self suggests that we need to consider our self identity ‘within the greater experience of our country of birth, our race and our cultural identity’... and that ‘Within us all lies the deep yearning to know and to be known. From this comes the question of self identity. Who am I?’ Was this why that very short clip of my city of origin jumped out at me from a video made up of many fast-moving clips of people and places? No matter where I have lived – and there have been many places, I am always a Mancunian and proud of it – hence my northern accent in my podcasts.
My granddaughters have just come from Hong Kong to live in the UK. The elder was born here, but moved out to live in Hong Kong when she was 18 months old. Some time ago, when I asked her, she said that she considered herself to be British. The younger was born in Hong Kong and she considered herself to be a Hong Konger – not Chinese. I wonder, if I ask the same question in a year’s time what this aspect of their self-identity will reveal, no matter what it says on their birth certificate.
It seems that there are certain stages of life when we ask ourselves ‘Who am I? At times of stress, of change, of stagnancy, of lockdown.
Very often we will begin by asking – of ourselves or of others – what am I? What is s/he? The easier to identify bits including age bracket, relationship status, occupation, ethnicity, and previously I would probably have included gender in this, but that is rather more complex these days.
Then there are your triggers, and how you respond to them, as covered in ‘Know Yourself, Know Your ABCs’
Then we get to the nitty gritty – who am I; who is s/he. Some easier to identify and label, but some more difficult or even hidden from ourselves and others. The no-go areas mentioned in another earlier blog post.
These two previous posts offer ideas for ways of getting to improve your understanding of yourself, accepting yourself for the person that you are, and working on the most important relationship you will ever have – with yourself.,
TO BE WHO OR WHAT I AM......
Means being true to yourself and allowing you to be yourself – I refer back to a quote from Dr Seuss that I used in another earlier blog, Be Yourself.
Throughout our lives we have been, we are and we will continue to be many different things. For me – a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother , friend; a pupil, teacher, counsellor, writer, worker at many different jobs; a gardener, cleaner, cook, DIYer, nurse, taxi driver.... and on and on. Some roles are transient, some simply no longer a part of my life, but every one contributed in their own way to who and what I am today. Just as your many roles have helped to shape who and what you are ; taking you down many different paths, reaching obstacles to be overcome, even dead ends leading to a complete re-think. Throughout this process, it helps if you are able to identify your core values that have remained constant for you. OK, they may have counted for you or against you, but they remain essential to ‘your who and what’. For me, if I have to pick one such value, it is that I care. I care for people, animals, our planet and I now also care for myself. I certainly have tweaked this over the years when people took advantage and made me ‘feel used’, but without it, I just wouldn’t feel genuine. But you know what? I am what I am and I have come to an understanding with myself to be content with this. So .... bring on more purple and let me kick up my heels, and those leaves but don’t try to stop me from caring.
Have a think – what is your most outstanding, important value.... would others agree with this?
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