There is a downside to sitting here with nothing active to do. It means I have time to think and to write. And once I start..... oops. This is long. Sorry about that!
There is a lot of talk and discussion around at the moment on how real we are, how much of "us" we put on our blogs for the world to see, if we should/should not, who we are perceived to be, what image we project, how much to put in our profiles, consequences, opinions etc etc etc. Lots of stuff. And we have all thought about this and spoken of it before. I know we all get new readers, which is delightful, and make new friends, and most of them do not have the time to go and read through years of archives to "discover who we are". Unless we seem rivettingly exciting (that would not be happening here at RCR, I can assure you - we are not rivettingly anything right now!) or unless we knew how to do exciting linky things on our sidebars, which we clearly do not over here. We are ordinary people. Living ordinary lives. Unless your name is Sophie or Shannon and you head off into the African wilderness, of course. Or Jeana, on location in London for 7 weeks, who I have just been speaking to about dishwasher salt. Or Crystal, who is just back from South America.
I like scrapbooking. I don't have time for it, but I love it. The idea appeals to me. I was trying to find something harmless to do, and came across a series of papers and stickers I bought a long time ago around the theme "Life is a journey". When I bought them, I thought, great. Holidays, travel, moving. I will need those. There are lots of images of suitcases, maps, tickets, and assorted other journey related items there. And today I started thinking about what I had been reading, and what was lying there in my hands....
I grew up in South Africa. I moved to England. I have travelled quite a bit. I have had one, then two, then three children. I have been a stay at home Mum and I have worked. I have been a baby, a child, a teenager, a student, daughter, a sister, a grandchild, a bride, a wife, a friend, a colleague, a mother, a widow, a teacher, a mother-in-law, and most probably a pain in the neck quite often too. Note the "I" here. It is deliberate.
The "I" who was a child, bears little resemblance to the "I" who was a student, or the "I" who is a mother, or the "I" who is a mother-in-law, other than genetic coding, DNA, fingerprints and all that stuff, and my name. I am changing. I am evolving. I am a work in progress. Thank heavens. The "I" today also bears little resemblance to the "I" of a year ago, 2 years ago or 10 years ago. And everything changes, and will continue to do so. Appearance. Do not go there. Jobs. Roles. Things happen to us. I change my mind about things. My opinions have changed over time. Not all radically, some, yes, but edges have been honed, and I have learnt that life is an awful lot of grey and cannot just be black and white. I constantly learn new things, and that changes my direction and offers opportunities for choosing new paths. Action / reaction. Sometimes there is no choice. Resisting change can be fatal for your soul. Not to mention your peace of mind. I once had a quick temper. Not too bad now. I listen more, and say less. I was impatient. Not so much now that I am older and wiser. Wiser? Hmmm.
But this is MY journey. I am delighted when people join me on it for a while. Friends are always welcome here.
It seems almost trite to say we are the sum total of everything we have experienced. Yet we are. This is a HUGE thing. We live unique, individual lives and no-one can ever walk in our shoes. Our experiences act as the sandpaper which refines parts of our character. Sometimes, those experiences allow us to help where others can't. And, looking back, it is not the successes I have experienced which have made the most lasting impressions on my character or temperament, as much as the mistakes, or failures, or bad stuff, which happen to us all. We are in cruise control while everything goes swimmingly. No effort required. But when the track becomes a little bumpy, that is when we need to adjust, alter course, clutch at straws, leap off cliffs, (this random mix of images is making my stomach queasy) and we change. And because we blog, sometimes we take each other along on our journeys too.
Every person we interact with is unique, and calls for different responses from within us. I mean, just look at our children. I have 3 very different children. What works for one, does not work for either of the others. I couldn't treat them the same way, or react to their different needs like a robot using a manual. How I parent each of them is very different. How I love them is the same, of course. To bits. Each of them. With every particle of my soul. And each of them adds different new dimensions to who I am. (Like irritation, frustration, annoyance, worry, fear, panic, imagination - that is the worst - fury.... hey, I am a mother, who likes to keep things real...and amusement, awe, magic, admiration, pride, love in spades.... endless lists). If I had only had one child, I would be immeasurably different today. Or two. I would never have had all those particular extras added on to my life. And I can't imagine not having them today. They have helped shape me. Not to mention what they did to my waistline.....
If I had not been able to have any children, I too, would be very different. In so many ways. My life would have gone down other paths, leading me to other amazing places and experiences and other added extras I cannot even imagine. So many variables. How many people will we interact with in our lifetimes? Uncountable numbers. And unimaginable numbers of ways we will interact with each of them. Each one will alter who we are to one degree or another. And each time we adjust to the person standing in front of us, we are sanding down those edges a little more.
Now, here on the web, we can only see the words. We know a lot of the words come from the heart and soul. Some make us laugh and some make us cry. Some say things which we echo in our hearts. But I can't see your faces, or your reactions to the things I say. I don't know you well enough through your words. I only know part of you. A very small part. The part you let me see. I can't see your eyes. I don't know when what you are saying is actually masking a deep hurt, despair or pain, physical or emotional. Unless you tell me. I don't know, when I read a bubbly post, if you are weeping as you write. And you know, this is probably not the place to put all the bad parts. After a while, I sort of sense if something is wrong, with the blogs I read frequently. But I can never know for sure. I can just see what you want me to see.
There are some remarkable people out there, you know. All over the world. Getting to know them could just alter your lives. Change attitudes. Preconceptions. Offer different views. Clarify some issues. Challenge you. Make you think. Teach you. Encourage. Sand away more edges.
Someone who knows me really well in real life once said that I only let people see 5% of who I am, and keep the rest hidden. That would probably be accurate, or maybe I let 10% out. I think perhaps we are all similar to a certain extent. People who know me, say that I write the way I speak. They can hear my voice when they read the blog. We all reserve the right to keep most of who we are private, and that is as it should be. Real life or not.
You will have an idea of who I am. It will be your own personal view. I often wonder just how accurate your ideas are. Who you think I am. There is no right or wrong answer here, let me hasten to add. It is simply how you have come to know me.
One of the things I absolutely hate and despair about, is the way modern 21 Century education here has taken creativity and turned it into a marketing tool. At schools, you don't teach cookery. You learn about catering for the masses. You don't learn how to sew, you learn batch production and industrial cost analysis. You don't learn how to make something, you learn how to package stuff. You don't learn how to create, you learn to write a design brief, do product analysis, market research and how to apply rules of health and safety. From when you are 11. We start training our babes to "colour inside the lines". Whose lines? Why? Are we training the creativity and free thinking out of our children to the point where everything we do is about increasing turnover, productivity, and mass market appeal? Are we buying into the idea that success should always be their highest goal?
Is that what we are doing to ourselves? Is this why we blog? Absolutely not, in my case. The day I start obsessing about things relating to numbers, visits, mass appeal and demographics, is the day I press the delete button. I am here to write, and to make some friends. To share things. For me, it is all about individuality and creative thinking and communication. I am just being me. I don't want to measure my success in life by what I may happen to write here. Here I am words. In real life I am much more than the words.
We all set out to blog for different reasons. The things I am talking about here today apply to me. Me. I know that there are some amazing bloggers, whose blogs developed a life of their own and exploded into mega blogs, and I delight in them as much as everyone else. I absolutely love reading them. Just look at my blogroll. I don't think any of them set out in the pursuit of mega blogs when they started though. That is what makes them so special. There are books you can buy about blogging. There are formulas you can apply. If you want to. I like this little corner. I love the friends I have made. It suits me just fine. It adds to my life. It is NOT my life, though.
It is natural to want the world to see us as happy, successful, content, secure, amusing, together, living out "the dream", whatever that may be. But "the dream" does not exist in reality. We all know that, I think. Stuff happens. Perfection does not exist in this life. I am as far from perfection as I can get, and if you arrived on my doorstep right now, you would know that for certain. You would walk past the cars that need washing, the flower beds which are out of control, to the door where the flower pots need surgical attention. The windows? Do not ask. Into my house which needs Barb and her cleaning magic to turn up as a matter of urgency and you would stand in front of a woman with a pain in her chest who is wrestling with responsibilities, decisions, finances, family and fitness and who bears no resemblance to anything one would see in a fashion magazine other than that she is female. And do not mention the hair, which has developed a rebellious life of its own as I speak.
A woman who reserves the right to change. Move. Alter. Adapt. Colour outside the lines. Thumb her nose at convention. Use every bit of the experience gained over 53 years and make it count. I am not the same person who wrote stuff yesterday. And I will be different again tomorrow. And it doesn't matter. It is my journey, and I get to choose the paths. Thankfully, I have a great Guide, which certainly helps.