Friday, 25 April 2008

Man Cannot Be Comfortable Without His Own Approval

The title of today’s post is a quote from Mark Twain, and one that I think is very, very true. No matter how much you try to live up to other people’s expectations, unless you approve of your life yourself, you’ll never feel comfortable and you’ll never be truly happy.

For too long I found myself being a person I wasn’t. I came back to the UK and kind of slipped back into being the person who left 18 years previously. Obviously, I wasn’t exactly the same person – I was a lot older for one and therefore naturally acted in a way that a 19 year old wouldn’t – but my general outlook on life changed back. I couldn’t live the way I had in Norway and I no longer really knew who I was or what I wanted. I allowed myself to be influenced by others – which was only natural, I suppose – but I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t approve of who I was and I certainly wasn’t happy. I tried to be, sometimes even thought I was, but deep down I knew things weren’t right and that I could be happier.

Since changing my lifestyle and making it clear that my outlook has changed, some people have acted very differently towards me. They probably think I’ve gone mad, wanting to live a simple life instead of one where money speaks and the environment doesn’t really matter that much. They smile and nod, but they don’t understand.

Some at least respect my choices and, like my mum, are actually trying to learn something from them. She’s now changed her clothes washing routine, is thinking about buying a wormery when she moves and looks for products that have the least packaging. She wants to do her bit for the environment, she just wasn't sure how to go about it.

Others have no intention of changing their lifestyles but respect mine and that’s fine too. Everybody has the right to make their own choices.

Sadly, there are some who still expect me to be part of their consumerism – to be interested in the latest gadgets and gizmos they've paid ridiculously inflated prices for or listen to them harp on about the ‘labelled’ clothes they’ve just bought when they already have a perfectly adequate wardrobe. That would be ok if they’d be willing to listen to me talk about the things that are important in my life without criticism, but they don’t.

To be honest, there are few people who I feel I can really relate to. Certainly no more than a handful. Not that I mind – I’ve never been a people gatherer anyway. Well, with the exception of a few ‘hard partying’ years during the 80s, that is. I enjoy my own company and I’d rather be alone than spend time with somebody I don’t really feel a bond with.

I’m more comfortable and happier now that I have my own approval for the way I live my life. And although it's always nice to have, I don’t need the approval of others. I suppose I’m lucky in that my mum brought me up to be my own person and, as an adult, she’s never ever tried to tell me what I should do. She’ll offer advice, and is the first person I turn to when I need it, but she doesn’t get insulted if I don’t take her advice; she always makes it clear that she's merely suggesting and that the final decision must be mine. I hope I’ve managed the same thing with my children.

Mark Twain was a very wise man. What’s sad is that so many people do feel they need the approval of others. Perhaps they still worry about what their parents will think of their lifestyle, or how their friends will feel about their choices, or even whether the neighbours will be suitably impressed. If they could only break free from this horribly stifling need for others' approval I’m sure they’d also understand what happiness really is. It certainly has nothing to do with money or any material goods.

I'm glad I found it again.

Sharon J xx


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Monday, 21 April 2008

AWOL and Tweets

My apologies for the recent inactivity here but a hospital stay made it impossible to post. I’m sort of sorted now although another bout as an in-patient wouldn’t surprise me. Fingers crossed that won’t happen.

Anyway, in the interim, a black bird has built her nest in the clematis outside our kitchen window, amongst an abundance of blue flowers. It’s a bit too high up to take a look inside without climbing onto a patio chair but as she spends most of her time there, there are no doubt eggs inside. Once she becomes more active, I’ll try to take a look to see how many chicks she has. Hopefully there will be many and they’ll keep the slugs and snails down this summer.

She's hidden herself so well that you'll probably need to click the picture to see a larger version

There’s also a bird nesting in the eaves but I’ve no idea what as I only ever see her as she flies past my window. She certainly makes enough noise up there though.

It’s lovely to see spring in the garden. I’m just looking forward to having enough strength to start making some improvements out there. Still, the birds obviously like it and that’s definitely a good thing.

Sharon J xx


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