Why I Hate New Year’s Resolutions or The Long Walk From “What will people think” to “I am Enough”

I hate New Year’s Resolutions.

As the Shop assistant finished my sale and bid me fair well, she wished me a Happy New Year.  Then she said “one more day to be bad before we begin our resolve to be good for 2014”.  What a load of poppycock.  What could she be doing in her life that is so bad that she has to stop it on January 1 2014?

We all have things in our lives that we do that we know aren’t good for us or that we could do better.  But let me tell you that there is not one shred of empirical evidence out there in psychology-land that proves that feeling ‘bad’ about something ever made a difference to long term change.  Why?  Because feeling ‘bad’ is either one or both of two things: Guilt and/or Shame.  Say you make a ‘resolve’ based out of guilt/shame, and you can’t stick to it, where does that leave you? Feeling even more guilt and shame.  Great cycle of self-destruction there.  Let me tell you, that if either of those badboys were effective in changing behaviour, I’d be a Saint and weigh five kilos less.  Literally.  We all would.  Instead, let’s love ourselves and our families enough to decide we want to be the best version of ourselves that we can, and that we might be open to seeing ways or possibilities to do that.

In this spirit, how about this for a challenge, not a resolution, for 2014:

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Comparison kills creativity*, self esteem and joy.  And while we’re at it, let’s include not just images on the Net, but Facebook, magazines, movies and tv too.  There is not one image in a magazine that has not been digitally reenhanced.  Not one.  What you are looking at is not a real person.  Not a real person.  How can we ever live up to something that isn’t even real?  So stop kidding yourself.  You are a real person.  And if reading Facebook, blogs and magazines just ends up making you feel not-good-enough, unworthy or left out, then stop doing it.  Because you are comparing your life to someone else’s.  Live your own life.  This is a challenge our grandmother’s never had to face, but we have to.  And we need to do it for our daughter’s and our sons too.  Because they are seeing and feeling the result of our comparison.  Ever wondered why there are so many cases of juvenile anorexia appearing these days, or why little girls grow up too fast and want to look ‘sexy’?  Stop contributing to it.  Now.

If however, you use these images to inspire you or to learn to do things better, then go for it.  Some days for me it is a fine line between comparing myself and my life to what I see around me or using it as an inspiration.  On those days when I notice the balance is a little off, I close the computer (magazine etc) and get back into my own life, my own reality.  Because I only have one. One reality, one life, and it is mine, no-one else’s, and as I am learning, I am enough.  You may like to become aware of this in your own life.  I did not start this blog to hold myself up as an oracle on how to live life, I started writing it to inspire women, and there’s a big difference in that intention.  Same with hair, makeup and fashion.  It is there to enhance, for enjoyment.  When it stops being that, then it’s time to put it away for a while.  These ‘accessories’ to life are here for our enjoyment, not to make us feel shabby.

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Brene Brown

And while we are on the topic of guilt and shame, let’s add the antidote, vulnerability.  Yuck.  Who wants to talk about that one?  Well, this lady does, and she’s doing a pretty good job of it.  Go on, do yourself a favour for 5 minutes and watch this.  Personally, I have found it life changing.  And I’m not joking.  I’m being totally vulnerable here, so please don’t laugh.

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

Happy New Year everyone,

go out, live your life,  you only have the one, and you ARE ENOUGH

Carpe Diem

Tracey

*Brene Brown said it first, not me.  Check out her other works on her website

The Happiest Day (and a correction)

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Humble Retail Assistant

A few days ago, I wrote lamenting on how sometimes we, the humble retail assistant, can feel taken for granted by their employer and at this time of year, even unappreciated.

Yesterday was my birthday.  I was at work.  The National Operations Manager was doing his regular rounds.  Somehow he found out it was my birthday.  Next thing I knew, there he was, on the floor – cake and candles lit, rousing my colleagues in a hearty rendition of “Happy Birthday”, to which, all the customers stopped and joined in.  I was a little speechless (only a little, it takes a LOT to make me completely speechless.  Consider this a challenge).  It was great fun.  And right now, I don’t feel taken for granted.  Just wanted to let you all know.  My National Operations Manager has restored my faith that there is a skeric of humanity left in retail after all.  Here is a chap who is working around the clock to manage a national retail chain, travelling between stores, not afraid of serving a customer or 10, yet still made the time to run out to the bakery at the end of the mall to buy me a cake.  What more can I say?  It would be a little peevish not to respond with a post to let you all know that it may be crazy out there, but we are all still human beings. With hearts.

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And some people felt sad for me, having to work on my birthday.  In truth, I was with the girls I love, my ‘work family’, who over the years, have been there through sadness, loss, happiness, graduations and all the seasons that pass through a life.  They may not be my ‘chosen’ friends, but they were chosen for me, by the Universe, to be with right now.  And I love them.  I do.  At times, they drive me nuts, at times, they bitch, at times, they whinge.  At times, I’m glad we keep the sharp knives in a locked cabinet.  But that is exactly how families behave too.  I can tell you that through some very difficult times over the last couple of years, work has been a haven of sorts, a solace.  It has been a familiar place to go, where I put on my professional face, and put aside whatever is happening in my private life for a few hours and focus on other things.  A kind of ‘diversional therapy’ if you will.

So, being at work for my birthday?  Just being with my girls.  And a cake and a song from the Big Guy and the customers?  Priceless.  Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

And, what did I get for my birthday?  A small piece of style.

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Carpe Diem

Tracey

And you thought it was all about Jesus

Apart from being a personal stylist and makeup artist, I have another job.  I work in retail at a prestige homewares store.

I am a veteran of many retail Christmases.

shop-assistant-scanning_~x16776052During the year, I love my job, I love helping people, I love being out and about in the slipstream of life, and my part time retail job affords me to enjoy little luxuries that I wouldn’t otherwise indulge in (like a DKNY handbag..).

But this time of year really tests my determination to stay in my job, along with my ability to stay sane, which apparently, hangs on tenuously at the best of times.

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“No, I just wear this uniform because it feels good, Ma’am”

images-7Retail assistants have to work longer hours at this time of year.  This is an expectation, not an option.  We are processing  more than double the amount of customers than usual, we are unpacking double the amount of new stock, we are trying to keep our shelves filled so it doesn’t look like the bakery from Sarajevo (pictured), training new casual staff  AND we are TRYING to be nice to customers and give what we hope is a level of service that is considered to be excellent.  Everyday, without fail.

images-8When everything is said and done, at the end of the wash up, Christmas is about you, the Customer.  Without you, we wouldn’t have jobs, without you, we wouldn’t sell the stock that comes in to store, without you there’d be no presents, no economy, no Christmas.  And you thought it was all about Jesus right?  Actually, Christmas is about retailing.

I’ve outlined what Christmas would be like without you, the Customer.  Have you ever given a thought about what Christmas would be like without us, the humble Retail Assistant?

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Humble Retail Assistant

Firstly, the store would not open at 9am sharp.  If it did, there’d be no-one to show you where the yellow polka-dotted spatulas are kept, or wrap your glassware, take your money or suggest a ‘suitable gift for Aunt Mary the spinster who doesn’t cook’ that is within your budget and in keeping with her colour scheme.

There’d be no Christmas music playing, there’d be no-one to wish you “Merry Christmas”.  Yet, it often feels that we are the most under appreciated people at this time of year.  I say ‘feels’ because that is my perspective, and it may not be yours. Have you ever thought that we have families that we’d like to be spending time with, shopping and lunching, just as you are doing?  Have you ever thought that the online purchase you just made may be contributing to the closure of real life shopping centres with shiny floors and bright lights, because you can get that item $10 cheaper online than from the store just down the road from you? Have you ever thought that the loud conversation you are having on your mobile phone is happening in my workplace where I have to function everyday?  Have you ever thought that when you are rude to me because you are disappointed or frustrated that it may hurt what is left of my feelings and affect how I view humanity in general?

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Well, this is part and parcel of being a retail assistant.  We are often overworked and under appreciated, not just by customers but sadly by our own employers, who often take our labour and good will for granted and expect us to be on time, pleasant, efficient, make sales and give our customers good if not great service, and yet give little in return, knowing that if one of us were to leave, there’d be 100 willing people ready to take our place the next day.

imagesWhile you’re out and about this Christmas Season, shopping and crossing off your list, spare a thought for the person behind the counter.  Whatever you may think about the service they are giving you, they are most likely doing their best in trying times.  And remember, Christmas starts in your heart, just as charity begins at home.

Be nice.  Smile back. Be patient.  Be kind.

Merry Christmas one and all

Tracey

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Why I’m a Bad Christmas Shopper

UnknownNo ‘Secret’ Santa’s Here

I can’t keep secrets.  I’m a last minute shopper. I love Christmas,  I live and work in the retail sector, I see bargains come and go throughout the year, yet my Christmas list remains unchecked til the last week before December 25.

As part of my life’s philosophy of Living in the Moment, known by some as Mindfulness, my motto is Carpe Diem, Seize the Day.  This means that I (try to) value, love and enjoy every day of my life as though it were my last.  Even the bad, sad or crappy ones.

I have this philosophy for a couple of very important reasons. One of them is inspired by my mother, whose life was cut short by a terminal and debilitating illness at the age of 56, and the other was seeing my step-father succumb to the same fate.  These people spent twenty years of their lives in reclining lounges and wheel chairs.  They didn’t get out much.  They couldn’t travel.  Shopping remained one of my mother’s few joys up until about the last 5 years of her life.

By contrast, I am healthy.  I am well.  I am active.  I have all my faculties working (my kids may dispute this fact but they’re not writing this piece, I am).  It makes me grateful.  Grateful to have choices.  Grateful for each ache or pain that tells me I’m overdoing work or that I’ve spent too long weeding the garden.  I’m grateful that at the moment I have a massive cut on my finger from manoeuvring a knife the wrong way and it hurts.  Because it’s a reminder to me that I got that cut by being out and active and in the slipstream of Life.

Buddhists say that ‘life is suffering’.  I figure that if the worst thing I have to suffer is the occasional back ache, sore finger or concern about money (and who doesn’t), then my life isn’t too bad in the ‘suffering stakes’.  I’ve seen real suffering and it’s not here.

imagesSo, getting back to Christmas.  I’m hopeless at buying gifts halfway through the year.  I can’t keep a gift from a loved one.  If I see them now, I want them to have it NOW.  Next week, next month, in six months, might be too late.  I’m a last minute shopper because I’ve already given people my gifts of myself and love and affection and things I think they’d like throughout the year, for no particular reason other than I want them to know I love them,  and I want them to enjoy my gift NOW.

It’s hard to come up with new and exciting gifts for December 25 when you live like this.  The whole gift giving thing on one day of the year is kind of against my philosophy, it doesn’t sit easy with me. The Hubster is no better.  Birthdays when our children were young was murder for us.  We were as bad as each other.  We’d take turns saying “Go on, give it to him now”.. One of us had to be strong, so we’d take turns at that too.  Somehow we got through it!

Is there a gift under your tree for someone special?  Ever considered breaking with tradition and giving it early? To me,  Christmas is every day of the year (especially when my Strawberry Net order arrives).  Now I’d better get down to making that list…

images-2Carpe Diem and Merry Christmas!

Tracey xxx

ps, some eco-friendly advice:

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We only have one body and this body is NOW

calla-lilies--black-and-white-larry-carrSad news of the sudden and premature passing of a gym colleague last Friday prompted me to revisit my philosophical thoughts regarding our existence on this planet

It is my observation that we only have one body.  This body allows us to function and ‘live’ a life.  It may not be the life you want.  It may not be the body you want.  But it is the ONLY body you have.  The life you have is largely the result of choices you made a long time ago; maybe because of the body you have, maybe not; but it can be changed.

Here’s what came to me:

We can GRIEVE for the body we used to have, we can WISH for the body we want to have, we can ENVY the body others have, but at the end of the day, we only have ONE body, and that is the one we have TODAY.  Instead of hating it, loathing it and telling it how dreadful it is, how about we try, just TRY to learn how to appreciate it, stop for one moment comparing it, and maybe, just maybe, learn to LOVE it…. ok, let’s start with ACCEPTING it.

For me, learning how to dress for my shape, body, lifestyle and personality was the beginning of the Journey back to mySelf, and regaining my own power. We are multifaceted and not one dimensional magazine pictures.  We are more than a number on a scale. We are Human Beings: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, all wrapped into one.

It is as simple as making a choice.  I know what my friend would have said.

Carpe Diem.

Tracey xxx

Ps, if you want help with learning how to dress it or make it over, give me a call.

Things I’ve Learned So Far This Year: Part 3

Part 3:  How Much I Would Use and Appreciate a MacBook Air Laptop

So when I had the (crazy) idea that I would like to write a fashion blog, I mentioned to The Hubster how much I’d probably like to have my own laptop.  We have a massive iMac up in the study,  and as he pointed out, it is a perfectly good computer.  But there were 2 things about that:

1.  That room is kind of his domain, and it gets very little sunlight.  In fact, none at all until late afternoon.  And it’s kind of depressing to have to be locked up in there all day, when I have the most amazing outlook and deck downstairs in the living area (we live on an acre of natural bushland, built into the side of a hill, so we look out at the vista of trees and birds and gardens – it is beautiful)  After studying for most of my degree up in that room, I didnt’ want to be locked up in there for hours at a time writing my blog.  In fact, if I had to do that, then I wouldn’t.

2.  The computer is ours to share, but it’s really kind of ‘his’.  If any of you ladies share a computer with someone at your place, you’ll know what I mean.  It’s like, on the weekend, he’s in front of it.  All.  The. Time.  Plus, he stores stuff in places and I have no idea where to look for it, like the family photos of last years holiday or the copy of my latest resume.  You get the idea.

What’s really interesting about me making the suggestion about getting my own laptop, is that I only said it Once,  and explained my ‘issues’ as outlined above.  I thought no more of it.

That week was a busy one; it was the week I welcomed little Pippin into our home, so I was kind of euphoric and excited and worried all at the same time.  That Friday, I got in from work, and The Hubster comes downstairs to greet me with something under his jumper.  Still no clue.  Was it another puppy to keep our precious Pip company?  Was it the next book in the Game of Thrones series?  Was it my store-card statements?

With a sheepish grin, he hands me a white bag with a silver apple on the front.  It could only be one thing.  OMG.  He didn’t.  He did.  He went out and bought me, not only a laptop, but the crowning glory of all laptops – a MacBook Air.  Well, that was a turn up.  I was speechless.  I told him that I was only considering a small cheap laptop for less than half the price of this one. He said that after having an iMac and iPhones, how could I consider such blasphemy, and that if he was going to get me one, it would be a ‘proper’ one.  Oh, and he also mentioned that he felt I deserved it for all I do for our family, having raised 2 children to adulthood,  putting up with him for so long, and wanted me to have something really nice that I could call ‘my own’ and wouldn’t have to share with anyone.

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A thing of beauty

Receiving with Grace

One thing I learned a long time ago ladies, is that you must, MUST always receive a gift from a man with grace and gratitude.  Never NEVER turn it down, never seriously imply that he shouldn’t have.  It’s ok to put your hands to your face in surprise and exclaim “Oh you shouldn’t have” but only in polite self deference, don’t say it with gravitas. And here I’ll illustrate why:

I worked with a gal once who was a control freak over the money in her household.  They were a young family, both hard workers, never wasted money and were trying hard to get ahead.  It was truly admirable.  One day, hubby turned up with a gorgeous gold bracelet for her birthday.  He worked hard and he wanted to show his wife that he loved her and give her something precious, something she would never buy herself.  Know what she did next?  Took it back to the store for a refund.  They couldn’t afford it, she said, because they were saving up for a holiday.  Are you surprised to hear that he never bought her another gift ever again?  When she rejected his gift, she rejected his goodwill, his love and his ability to provide for the family.  It is rare that a man will ever give you a chance to reject them a second time.

On the other hand, a friend of a friend always accepted gifts from her hubby with grace.  He would buy her a piece of jewellery for her birthday.  Mostly it was inexpensive silver bracelets.  She wore them occasionally when they went out together to show him that she appreciated him thinking of her, even though she didn’t really like them.  One birthday, after a good business deal, he turns up with another bracelet.  It was in a green bag.  It was from Tiffany.  She hit the jackpot folks.  He now buys her a piece from Tiffany’s every birthday.  And we all admire her collection, and her grace is a lesson to us all.

What I did next

I jumped up and down in excitement like a little kid.  I hugged him and kissed him and thanked him.  I still thank him.  I use this laptop every single day.  And I never once mentioned anything about the expense.

I can now watch movies or documentaries while I am ironing.  I can keep all my photos in logical order.  I do all my banking and bill paying online.  And let’s not mention my unimpeded access to eBay, StrawberryNet and Facebook.  But most importantly, I have managed to build this blog and website.  The Hubster started me off, and I did the rest.  And blogging has opened up a whole community that I never knew existed.  Same with Facebook.  I know social media gets a lot of bad press, but used wisely, it is a wonderful connector of people.

I sit here in heaven on the deck with wifi and coffee.  With Pip.  She knows how to boot it up and go straight to StrawberryNet for the day’s daily special.  Here she is demonstrating her computer skills.

I’d better sign off now, we have cat vids to watch on Youtube. xxx

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It’s booting up, Mum

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After StrawberryNet, can we watch the funny cats again?

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My babies: Pip and Mac

Things I’ve Learned So Far This Year (2013)

Part 1

1. Rescue dogs make the most loving, grateful and loyal companions

We lost our beloved family dog, Brandy the Boxer,  in February this year at the age of 12.  After having a close and loving relationship with Brandy, my house was empty and devoid of the kind of love and companionship that only an animal can give you. More importantly, my grief would not heal.

One Saturday morning I made a visit to our local animal shelter, and found a tiny little black and white ball of fluff shivering in the corner of a pen with a dozen other small white fluffy things bouncing off the walls around her.  This little one did not like being in there with the other mad creatures at all, and was trying to shield herself from them jumping all over her.  As that is how I often feel in my daily life, I could identify with her.   I asked the ranger if I could have a closer look at her.  I took her tiny shivering body in my arms, and found a quiet space to sit down in.  After a few minutes,  she licked me, very cautiously, on the arm.  I made a bold decision then and there, that no matter what battles I would have to fight with my husband to have her in my home,  she was not going back into that pen.

I named her Pippin after one of Tolkien’s Hobbits from Lord of the Rings.  Like a Hobbit, she is small and has hairy feet, a self-effacing nature and is completely devoid of any ego.  She has become my shadow.  The whole family have embraced her (including my husband) and it has been a delight to see her settle into her new home, to see her begin to flourish and er….put on a little bit of ahem, weight.  In three short months, she has made a place in our home, and in my heart.  My grief has completely healed, and I know that Brandy, wherever he is, is looking down on us in approval.  He knew it was his time to go.  So did I.  It didn’t make it any easier.  But giving a new life to another little creature in need has given me new life too.

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