Thursday, 29 March 2012

Swinging from a branch of the family tree

So it’s true what they say. Eventually, finally, whether we like it or not, we often turn into replicas of our mothers.
Have you ever noticed this, dear readers? Perhaps the male species amongst us have found themselves turning into their fathers?
And perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised if this is the case. Because let’s face it, mothers and fathers are the ones who are responsible for us. They brought us into this world, nurtured us, taught us right from wrong, and then let us loose to fight our own battles and make our own destinies. And let’s not forget those genes.
So is it any wonder we often turn into mini versions of our parents? Oh we might fight it, we might mutter, “My goodness I’m getting just like my mum.” Or we could complain, “That’s the sort of thing my dad would say!”
Personally speaking, I don’t really mind if I’m resembling my mother. Not merely in the looks department, again it’s in those genes, but personality wise. I would even go as far as to say, I would find this a massive compliment, to be compared to my mother. For she is my inspiration. As far as I’m concerned, never has a kinder, less selfish, braver woman walked this earth. Okay I’m biased, but I have first-hand knowledge of her caring nature, thus I’m allowed to sing her praises.
Hopefully people find me kind and unselfish too, but it’s also the other things about her which I find myself relating too.
I’ve noticed how easily distracted my mum is. One minute she will be making me a banana sandwich, then before she’s finished buttering the bread she will want to read me an article in a magazine, next she will decide to look for something she’s remembered she’s kept in a safe place to show me. But before she’s found this item, or finished reading this article, she will hold a conversation with my dad about something in the garden, and I’ll be left staring at the unfinished sandwich, thinking how hungry I am and that I should have made it myself in the first place.
This does actually follow a similar theme regarding my own concentration levels. I drive myself nuts. I can be in the middle of a task and then I’ll realise something else is far more important, or interesting, so I’ll interrupt. And there I am, with unfinished business or banana sandwiches, and annoyed at myself for being distracted again.
But it’s not only this concentration thing, it’s another matter I have noticed recently - health issues.
My mum has always been a firm believer in alternative medicine, as well as the prescribed sort, as long as she’s read about it and understands it fully. I often think she’s a walking medical encyclopedia. She’s always the person I turn to when I need advice about certain vitamins, diets, skin problems, etc. Unfortunately she has a few health concerns of her own, so she is the voice of reason and experience.
A few of these health issues have been passed on to me. What did I say about those genes? But no need to worry yourself too much with this, dear readers, it’s nothing too serious I am referring to.
I’m on a mission, you see. As well as battling with a little skin condition I suffer from, I am embracing a healthy lifestyle. Health has become a massive priority in my life. Maybe it's an age thing? I'm not getting any younger and I need to look after this body, it's the only one I've got and it can't be traded in for a younger, fitter version. I’ve never considered myself to be unhealthy, but like most people I imagine, there was room for improvement.
So I’m consuming B vitamins to actively release energy, zinc tablets to provide essential minerals for my skin, and ant-biotics supplied from my doctor to also help my skin and which are kind to my sensitive stomach. Plus I’m popping folic acid pills to prevent any complications should I be lucky enough to conceive one day. And I’m using multi-active gel created by five of the world’s leading plastic surgeons to smooth, calm, repair, firm, renew and protect my skin. Phew, I too could be a walking medical encyclopedia. Not to mention all the super foods I am buying and the 5 a day (fruit or veg) diet I am quoting and lecturing boyfriend with.
To compliment my healthy diet and beauty regime, I am exercising daily on the cross trainer. It feels great to be able to run up the stairs at the station again and not panic because my breathing has become shallow and my legs are trembling with the strain.
I’ve knocked my wine consumption on the head, I never drink during the week now and it’s an occasional one or two at the weekend to relax and unwind. I would cut it out completely but alas I find it hard to relax sometimes, which doesn’t help my stomach problem, and as my doc recently told me, stress is one of the worst things you can do to your body. So I’m trying to de-stress and allowing myself the odd glass of vino to unwind with at the weekend.
I would take up yoga if I had the time, or maybe I should find the time? But it’s a full time life change this health business, and as you now know, I am easily distracted. I’m sure if I were to take up yoga in the home, whilst I was praying to the moon (or whatever they call it) I would spy an idol cob web in the corner and decide to spring clean the flat, or I’d hit my leg on the oven (it’s a small, open-planned flat) and choose to instead bake some cakes for a friend because I’ve realised this would actually be more entertaining than stretching and deep breathing.
And as a result of this fitness bug I’ve lost a stone in weight, which I’m very pleased about. Unfortunately the pounds had slowly crept on again and thanks to my health kick I’ve lost the extra pounds and my skin, stomach and overall well-being have definitely benefited.
My mother keeps a pill box to remind her when and which pill should be taken. Underneath my bed I have a box containing my health products and pills. It’s a big box and there are many remedies. And I guess you could say it’s there as yet another constant reminder that I am in fact turning into, or have already turned into, my dear, lovely mother.
So it’s true what they say. Eventually, finally, whether we like it or not, we often turn into replicas of our mothers.
And for the record, I am happily swinging from the branch of my family tree.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Me, myself and I

You may be surprised to hear my next announcement.
It may not be earth shattering or spine tingling, and it may not blow you away and stop you dead in your tracks, but it could be something you are blissfully unaware of.
Allow me to explain.
Yes I am blessed with a close family, a loving boyfriend, and a wide circle of interesting and special friends. And yes I do live a fairly full and active life and enjoy the company of the people born into and introduced to my life.
But sometimes I love to be alone.
Surprised? Perhaps a teeny element of astonishment is now showing on your inquisitive faces?
I am, dear readers, perfectly happy and content in my own company. I would even go as far as to say, often I crave a little bit of me time.
Is that such a socially unacceptable thing to admit? No, I'd like to think not. Personally I feel slightly uncomfortable when people mention they don’t like their own company.
Okay, let’s face facts here, loneliness and being alone are two very different agendas. No one wants to feel lonely. As human beings we are taught and encouraged to form relationships and bonds, it’s a natural progression. Friendships and partnerships are rewarding. I realise this as much as the next person. It’s great to be surrounded by people we love and who thankfully love us in return.
I for one think a fairly perfect night is to invite family or friends for dinner. To entertain and host and enquire as to what my guests have been up to. To eat and drink and laugh and connect.
I also adore evenings with boyfriend. Whether we wander to a local restaurant to sample whatever cuisine takes our fancy, or we stay in our polka dot home, wrapped in the duvet on the sofa to watch a film, munching our way through an appetising take away.
Both propositions are very satisfying.
But I am equally happy to amuse myself in my own company. I think it’s healthy for the soul.
I do not fret and stress when I am faced with the flat to myself because boyfriend is playing or watching football. I am not particularly bothered if I come home on a Saturday night, after spending a pleasant day with my parents, and boyfriend texts to inform me he’s still at his football club.
Here is a classic example of not fretting and stressing about such a situation. Boyfriend recently arranged to see his friends on a Friday night. I was glad that I did not immediately jump up and down and demand he cancels or promises not to be late. I did not impulsively call a friend to assure I was not spending a Friday night alone. I was fine with the idea of arriving home after a hard day/week in the office, relaxing in a bubble bath with a face pack, followed by settling in front of the television to absorb a good drama. Or perhaps read the latest instalment in my thoroughly thought provoking book, or continue with the wedding preparations. I could even make birthday cards or turn my focus to my photography course work. And what a good excuse to blog! My list was endless!
I am never bored. This probably aides any thoughts of being by myself. And I think it also helps that I am not often on my own, so it’s a welcome change when circumstances alter.
Incidentally, the day before the Friday night mentioned above, a friendly colleague suggested watching The Muppet's at the cinema near the office. I must confess my first thought was, bugger that was supposed to be my big night in with myself, chilling and indulging in a little bit of me time. But I decided declining would be considered rude and ungracious.
Besides, it was an early screening so I was safe in the knowledge that after viewing and nachos I would be home by half past eight.
There would be plenty of time to loose myself in a quiet flat with nothing but the company of yours truly,
So yes, you may be surprised to hear I sometimes embrace solidarity.
And I can’t help pondering this - if you don’t like your own company, well that’s pretty tough, isn't it? It’s not as if you can argue with yourself (schizophrenic's not included!), walk out on yourself, or even divorce yourself. Can you?
You're kind of stuck with yourself. So it's nice to get along, with your own private universe, distractions and activities a plenty. And to not worry about such matters as your own personal space, wouldn’t you agree?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Dancing on table tops and a suspected broken finger

The girl struggled with the weight from the contents of her cardboard box. Men and women waited impatiently for her to empty the contents. Like vultures greedily recognising their prey, they snatched the glossy magazines from her tired hands, not considering for one moment that as human beings it would be polite and decent to say thank you. Or at the very least look thankful.
I smiled at her in sympathy. I watched her compose herself, hastily stack the remainder of the magazines in the distribution bin, and then rush away to start the procedure all over again.
I was that girl once. At my previous place of employment I travelled to a publishing conference in Cannes on four separate occasions, followed by Barcelona and Singapore.
Sounds glamorous? It wasn’t really.
Rising at six am every morning and then waiting in the cold brisk morning air for deliveries to arrive. Feeling your stress levels erupt when problems occurred such as lost delivery vans, printing errors, absent contracted employees, and angry publishers. A vast amount of conference floor needed to be covered, dishing out orders and obeying orders in equal quantities. Erecting stands, distribution bins, and carrying heavy boxes which literally made your arms shake and your hands and feet blister in the process.
Oh I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it was a tiny teeny bit exciting at first.
The very first conference brought a sense of the unknown and a welcome change from the office. A team who bonded over glasses of wine at the airport, during the flight, in our hotel lounge, and at a fancy restaurant. We sampled foreign food courtesy of the company, and table danced at a friendly looking bar. And then we realised how shocking the next day felt, and perhaps we needed to calm ourselves and stop acting like children without our parent’s supervision, indulging in frivolous forbidden activities.
Posh black tie award parties and celebrating on private yachts along the French Riviera were enjoyed during ‘the good old days’ of the first conference, when the company and our department were in the prime of expensive advertising accomplishments. Okay this chapter was rather glamorous and fun, and always with an amusing story attached regarding an amorous client locked in a store cupboard, drunken stupid arguments with peers, and a hospital visit with a suspected broken finger.
But we painfully succumbed to the consequences of our actions and the important and exhausting duties we were expected to perform.
So after this first year it became business as usual. We had deliveries to meet, clients to smile at, conversations to hold, deals to be made, and many, many cardboard boxes to be emptied.
Which is why I recently looked at the mentioned girl at the beginning of my post in sympathy. I would like to say I speak from experience when I watched her anxiety, and her eager to please anxious face and tired hands. And the greedy vultures snatching her offerings.
At the Publishing Expo conference in February 2012, admittedly not in Cannes, Barcelona or Singapore, but at Earls Court, London, I felt an unusual and satisfying conference feeling.
It felt good to finally be the visitor and not the exhibitor.
Oh yes it was funny and a tad exciting at the beginning of my exhibiting story. But who needs uncomfortable wake up calls, blisters and difficult clients?
Not me. In February 2012 I was relaxed and able to walk around at my own leisure, eagerly listening to seminars praising print and paper, and smiling at the memories of the conference mishaps and shenanigans from a time which feels slightly alien now, but at the same time still quite amusing and real.
Visitor or exhibitor? I know which one I prefer.