Making Excuses – Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – but why not do it anyway?

We’ve recently had a formidable run of big decisions, big opportunities, and big mistakes.

Grumpy and I had a conversation that has been echoing around since we had it a few weeks ago went a little something like this:

Dee: “Okay, so basically, we’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t. No good deed goes unpunished and all that jazz.”

Grumpy: “WTF are you on about now?”

Image

Dee: “Well, I just connected countless examples of people who hate on us, or me, or you. That one guy from *insert donkey noise here* that we invited to that event and was rude and dismissive. He thinks we’re just cashed up hippies. This is despite the support we’ve extended to him and his cause. So in theory, we’re on the same team and fighting for the same things, but he sees us as evil.”

Grumpy: “Yes, and that’s an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Maybe he’s indoctrinated to think anyone who has financial freedom is evil, regardless of how they got it or what they are doing with it. And that’s a great illustration of why his cause stays on the back foot and alienates potential successful allies in the business and general community. So what’s your point?”

Dee: “What about *another donkey noise* who goes from thinking we’re great to the scum of the earth for goodness knows what reason. And don’t even get me started on *donkey noise*. I mean, sticking your neck so far out to try and help in good faith, and get kicked so squarely and painfully in the guts for it… How can they sleep at night?!”

Grumpy: “Mmmhmmm? First of all, *donkey noise* is someone that you don’t spend any time with because of their dramatics. Natural attrition. That’s life. Secondly, nobody in their right mind could have ever known just how dishonest and underhanded some people can be. So now we figure out a way to move forward, and you should probably stop saying I told you so. It doesn’t help.”

Dee: “True. Sorry. But I did tell you so. My point is, I think I can understand why people get jaded and insular and fed up with reaching out or trying to do the right thing or help anyone ever.

So why do we bother?”

Grumpy: “Bother with what exactly?”

Dee: “Trying to help. Picking up hitch-hikers, being painfully positive and smiling at or engaging with people who look sad wherever I go, helping complete strangers, keeping informed on current events here or half a planet away, buying organic food, attempting to be conscious consumers.  Any of it. It requires so much effort just giving a toss. Why did we bother building an off-grid house in the middle of the bush? The same investment would have gotten us a super sweet oceanfront property at some wanker-filled beach area anywhere in NZ. Why do we use EVs and attempt to educate people on them? We could have had a much nicer family car for far less than the Leaf cost us when we got it.  Why do we go out of our way to help with causes, events, or whatever when we’ve been screwed over in big and little ways over and over again?  Everyone has an agenda. One of my agendas is to try and do the right thing because it feels great, so I admit, most of the nice things I have ever done are completely selfishly motivated.  I like how it makes me feel.  And I egocentrically thought I was also making a difference. Having trouble feeling that way lately.  Maybe we should just sit back, feel entitled to our own success, and stop trying to do the right thing? We can focus on our own stuff for a while.  Let other people fight their battles and dig their holes. It often gets so messy when we try and help anyway.  I’d feel differently if I had any concrete evidence to prove that we’ve made a positive dent in the problems of the world with our efforts. But we’ve been yelling about the importance of caring and being engaged till we’re hoarse, and I haven’t seen a great deal of change because of any of it.  Besides, who’s to say any progress that may have happened has anything at all to do with us anyway.”

Image

Grumpy: “Yes, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Take a good look at the people who have screwed us over, either intentionally or otherwise. How are they doing in the grand scheme of things? Maybe okay for a little while, but dishonesty and/or stupidity catches up with people eventually. Just as our good and bad decisions catch up with us. And you are forgetting about all the awesome things that have happened as a result of cool things we’ve done. Not just for other people, but for you.  All that crap you said about just focusing on our needs, because nobody appreciates the things we do and nothing changes anyway. Well, what would happen if everyone decided that, and nobody helped anyone else or worked toward making the world a better, safer, cleaner place? There are people who use those rather weak arguments to be miserly and self serving and never lift a finger to make the world a better place.  If everyone were like that, we’d all be stuffed. Yes, people will smack talk. Yes, people will take advantage. Yes, picking causes and fighting for them means you’ll spend a lot of time feeling like you are working your ass off and getting nowhere. Throughout history, anyone who made a difference felt like they were getting nowhere at some point.”

Dee: “Way to make me feel like an A-grade jerk.”

Grumpy: “Don’t feel bad. Just stop being a spoiled little princess and count your blessings rather than focusing on your problems. We don’t have a lot of problems. But if you keep on focusing on the crap, you could create some.”

Image

Dee: “True. And I am a bit of a control freak. And just because things aren’t happening how and when I want them, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. I’m still tired though.”

Grumpy: “Understandable. You just recently squeezed out a baby.”

And that, was more or less, the conversation that led me to a distinct desire to stop making so many excuses.

Image

So what now?

I’m going to make a concerted effort to stop complaining, particularly about the same things over and over. Also going to try finishing things I start and not getting so distracted or downtrodden, because lets face it, nothing good comes from constant complaining. Making epic mistakes and learning from them tends to work out really well for the most part though.  Only if the “LEARNING FROM THEM” part is actually engaged of course. So more of that is on the cards now that I’ve taken time to reflect upon it all.

Image

Silver linings and opportunities are everywhere.  If you just stop making excuses and allow yourself to see them. We all have the choice to be champions or victims, depending on how we deal with what life throws at us.

There is a time to feel fed up and have a good long whine about how much some things suck. And then there is a time to regroup and take stock and realize, that maybe they aren’t actually that bad. So stop looking for or making excuses and get out there and do the things you could or should to support or advance your own or other people’s comfort, joy or circumstance. Most of us know instinctively if we are doing the right thing, and in the long run, it is worth it to follow that path. Even though mistakes are made and obstacles are hurled in your general direction. Play the long game and be a good person. It pays off in dividends.

Image

On the bright side: Grumpy is inches away from what I am confident will be a very successful business venture, that furthers our passion for alternative energy. He may not have followed through with the hundreds of hours of research and development if he didn’t have some very convincing internal and external motivations such as:

1)  Being totally passionate about the technology

2)  His passion for inventing and making cool stuff

3)  His (and my) belief in the importance of the alternative and clean energy movement in general

4)  We’re actually in a position where we need to increase our financial resources after being a bit too trusting and/or generous recently (I know, everyone thinks they “need” more money, but it is currently a motivating factor for us, and slightly embarrassing to admit, but very topical none-the-less)

I will stop faffing and focus on real and tangible ways of taking my optimistically conceived business plan to the next level. Fear, laziness, feeling hard done by, and basic or general difficulties have gotten in the way and held me back for quite a long time now. But success or failure on any level lies in my hands, as it does in yours and everyone else’s.  And I have every opportunity to follow my dreams with very few disadvantages.  So less complaining, more sustaining! 

So, off I go to face a variety of new challenges. I shall work very hard to make fewer excuses and wrap up my most recent pity party. 

I think a good long sleep would work wonders in helping curb future pity parties or flying off the handle as well.  

I’ll leave it there for today and go and try and sneak in a nap before the older three kids arrive home from school and daycare and need to be fed.

 

Attempting to Unravel the Truth About Beauty – Part Two

Beauty – Part Two

The human race’s obsession with attractiveness is probably, in essence, quite innocent.  Displaying and acknowledging attractiveness can be argued to be a perfectly reasonable evolutionary mechanism employed by most (if not all) people to help determine health and vitality.  We’re naturally drawn to attractive people as it is generally synonymous with health, vitality, fertility, and good genes.

I can’t be bothered talking about any of that.

I do, however, want to wrap up this conversation about beauty.  Seeing as it is my blog, I’ll give this final installment the Dee treatment, and just share with you my own personal opinions on what is beautiful, basically ignoring the screeds of research I’ve been wading through on the subject.

I’ve opted to share five things that I think are beautiful to illustrate my point on this subject.  I am leaving out countless others including:

1)  Integrity

2)  Grace

3)  Smile lines and well-earned physical signs of living a full and interesting life

4)  Honesty

5)  Humility

6)  Generosity

7)  A warm smile

8) Health and vitality (regardless of what the scales may say!)

9)  Confidence…

The list could go on and on.

However, for today’s blog I am sticking to five things that I think make women truly beautiful:

1)  Strength and resilience

I realised again last week that there are a number of absolutely amazing women I am lucky enough to know, that have overcome some gargantuan obstacles in their lives.

I am lucky enough to have met women who have faced (and overcome) addictions, mental illness, hard times that I can’t even imagine being faced with.  Women who have survived life-threatening illness, cared for others tirelessly (be it a sick or severely disabled child, family member, or in some cases they have made the care of others a career), mind numbing loss, war, natural disasters, poverty, abuse.  These ladies have experienced rock-bottom and climbed out with an understanding and resilience that is impossible to describe.  Although you can’t immediately put your finger on it, just being around them, you get a sense of the strength and understanding that can only come from the experiences that they have faced and overcome.

I have dozens of examples I’m intensely eager to share with you, but these are not my stories to tell.  So I’ve scoured the web for images of the strength that I am talking about, as a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Image

Rescued from slavery in the sex industry. Strength and beauty embodied.

Image

Iconic shot of an Afghan refugee – her eyes say so much, the pain, the wisdom, the things she must have seen. Beautiful and haunting.

Image

Drew Barrymore, one of the more well known recovering addicts in the spotlight.

Image

Survivor.

Image

Hurricane Katrina survivors supporting each other. Touching and beautiful.

2)  Vulnerability

Image

While there is a time and a place for being tough but fair, or for “putting on your big girl knickers and getting on with things”, there is also something absolutely beautiful and human that can only be seen when we are exposed and vulnerable.

Image

The other part of the beauty of vulnerability is that, even the most amazing and effective women have vast and gaping imperfections.  Being privy to that, and seeing just how broken we all are is fascinating, comforting, connecting and refreshing.

Image

Perhaps there is something a bit more basic and visceral about vulnerability and its association with beauty.  We are, apparently, the fairer and weaker sex.  There is something magic in being  swept up into strong arms in a moment of weakness.  Something so romantic about needing protection and rescuing.

But only sometimes.  There’s a big difference between being an occasional damsel in distress, in need of a hero, and a consistent mentality of being a victim and not just getting on with things.  While I truly think it is beautiful and more than a little sexy to be vulnerable on occasion after you’ve been strong for too long, there is also something quite sad and ugly about expecting other people to solve the world’s issues for you.

Image

3)  Connectedness

There is something exquisite and enticing about the effortlessness that some women include and embrace those around them.  These are the women who get down to eye level when they talk to children, they look you in the eye when they are talking to you, they are frequently found quietly (and often thanklessly) doing what needs to be done in their homes, families, communities and even the world itself.

I really enjoy people watching, and looking out for examples of the beautiful things I am talking about in strangers.

Old couples holding hands or sitting together and so comfortable with their partner that you can hardly tell where one of them ends and the other begins.

Image

Image

 

New mothers looking into their baby’s face, radiating a contagious sense of peace.

Image

 

Seeing a couple on a successful first (or early) date and witnessing the energy between them.

Image

 

Teachers, trainers, coaches, community leaders working with a group and being able to see the cohesion and enthusiasm that their words and energy plant in the hearts and minds of their captive audience.

Image

 

This is connectedness, and it is absolutely magnificent.

Image

Again, I have an almost limitless supply of stories I could share with you about friends and family who demonstrate this amazing connectedness.  But, they are not my stories to tell.  I hope you get what I mean, and I added some more stock photos and pithy sayings I am sharing in an attempt to illustrate this point.

4)  Kindness

Kindness is beautiful.

That’s it.  Full stop.

Image

5)  Humour

There are few things as appealing and attractive as laughter.  Just overhearing people laughing releases positive endorphins in most people.  Smiles and merriment break down barriers, ease tension, bring people together and, not to put too fine a point on it, make life bearable.

Image

Being able to laugh at our self, and each other, without malice or envy, is about the shortest distance between two people I can imagine.

So I’ll wrap this post and subject up with some pictures of gorgeous funny women who have influenced me directly and from a distance.

Image

Image

Image

 

Image

Image

Image

Image