Babywearing with Jess


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Everyone is entitled to their opinion but do they need to express it?

 

Do you know what one of our main focuses as a society is at the moment? Comparison.

Opinions on stuff that’s got nothing to do with us, things like Facebook have a whole bunch of us focusing on other people’s grass.

And do you know where the grass is greenest?

Where you water it.

 

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I was going to write a post about self-love. About body image. About accepting yourself. Your whole self, imperfections as well.

Because as women we do that badly on the whole. We could blame societal expectations about returning to some ‘pre baby state’ and there is those – I’m not discrediting that, but really it is often us who are our own worst enemies.

Often we are the harshest critics of ourselves.

But it strikes me that it’s maybe not even our bodies we do this to worst – it’s our hearts and minds.

Evident to me every time I delve ever so much more sceptically into my Facebook feed.

This person is getting trolled about that. Another person getting hateful or hurtful comments about this. That event occurs, something horrible happens and the first thing those people affected by it have to deal with is other, random, unrelated people’s opinions on their choices and decisions.

This is so amplified when you add children to the mix. Everyone has an opinion.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. It’s like our right as people.

Even if we didn’t have freedom of speech or live in a democratic society, you are still entitled to an opinion.

The problem is not with the opinions-the problem is when we focus on everyone else, well firstly our opinions are based on things we know limited information about and beyond that, many times it’s not even relevant to us.

And we express them all over the show. Cause it’s our right, right?

But why is there so much negativity, hate, judgement and insensitivity when we express these opinions online?

Well there is actually lots of science around it. The accessibility, the convenience, the lack of seeing the impact of our words on the other person… All manner of things.

But obviously with fractured ribs, I’ve had maybe even more reflection time on this that I would have ever been able too otherwise at such a hectic time in my life. And for the universe I thank for that, painful and difficult as it has been.

The one thing observing and reflecting on all this did was resolve my ambitions and values and goals that I can look at some serious heavy issues that face many of us and use the voice and platform I have been blessed with to fight for change positively. To do it my own way.

In my attempts to write about the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves and our body image as women, the amazing campaigners like fellow kiwi Gala Darling and her radical self-love movement, the many other TED Talks I have watched lately like Cameron Russell’s “Looks aren’t everything. Trust me, I’m a model” (a whole bunch included for you at the bottom of this post) and of course the Queen herself, Constance Hall, I realised not only these ladies but other inspirational speakers had some really common themes.

Ones we know so well as a society they are even colloquial sayings… Why do we keep focusing on the negative and why as a society are we not learning from our mistakes?

So what were the common themes?

 

Be Kind

Ideas like practise compassion for yourself and others. This idea again of self-love. Why do we all struggle with this so bad? For the record, I’m not excluding myself from the collective “we” by the way by any means. But this idea about not only being kind to other but compassionate to ourselves is vital I think.

 

“Turns out, we can’t practise compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly first”

Brene Brown – TED Talk on Vulnerability

 

Maybe this is what is somewhat contributing to hatefulness online? Is it that we struggle so badly to accept ourselves, flaws and all and love ourselves that we look for outlets like ‘clickbait’ headlines or memes online to express our judgement and bitterness at the world? Like not even considering that may have an impact or influence on someone else? Just because of the nature of the technology even?

Anyway, kindness was a common theme. I feel like I have talked the shit out of kindness so if you want more of my version of this one see the ‘Be Kind Online’ post.

 

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

Ok none of them used that quote, but again it was a really strong theme. Media of any form, be it “social” online, printed mass media like magazines or mainstream TV media- ANY OF IT – it’s all a construction. It’s not real life.

Comparing ourselves to others only focuses on what we don’t have. It’s watering the wrong grass people!

Maybe it is easier for us to forget the constructed, shiny highlight nature of social media because it feels more realistic, because it’s our friends or people we know..? But regardless it’s still constructed, its only one aspect of a greater story.

The mum who uploads the beautiful basket of freshly baked muffins her and her kids made together, with a baby on her back- looks a bit like super mum sometimes right?

 

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Do you know why we took this photo outside? Because the kitchen was literally covered in flour because the “baby” on my back got into the “child proof lid” of our 10kg flour tub, tipped it over and his big brother threw handfuls of it in the air screaming “it’s snowing! It’s snowing!” while I lost my shit screaming for James to come out of his office, stop his work and “FUCK HELP ME PLEASE”…

Needless to say I didn’t include that in the photo description at the time as I was trying to convince myself not anyone else that baking with my kids, a passion of mine, that sharing that with them was still worth the torture of having to spend the next three hours cleaning ten kilograms of flour out of my kitchen as the kids tipped out every, fucking, vessel we filled over and over again.

Fun times… hahah well it is funny now. There was certainly a lot of cursing at the time but my point was, this picture-it only tells one little aspect of that story. It’s a construction. It’s not real life.

Comparing yourself or your situation or your choices or your decisions or anything to others, well, there is a limited amount of positive that can come from that. Compare yourself to you. It’s the only version of yourself you get in this life time and that’s special cause that means there is only one of you.

That goes for family and parenting decisions big time too. I way to often hear about or read judgment or criticism from or towards others simply for making different choices to the person expressing them. I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again; as parents we are all trying to do the best we can for our kids with the resources we have available to us. And different things work at different times for different people and different reasons. That is ok.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else but yourself. Focus on being the best version of you. Water your own grass.

 

Be Grateful

Again a hugely common theme. Summing it up I guess, if you can’t appreciate what you do have you can’t see the joy in life.

If you focus on what you hate, that’s what you will see. The exact same can be said for if you focus on what you love, that in turn is what you will see.

That statement stands true be it your body image, your self-image, your mental health, your life, your kids – everything…

If you focus on the bad only, all you are going to do is rob yourself of joy.

Another great Brene Brown quote exert here I thought was amazing advice and particularly poignant as I rewatched one of her videos with James last night was, “in those moments of terror, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, just stop and say, I am so grateful because to feel this venerable means I am truly alive” ( I paraphrased a bit there, sorry Brene!)

Practising gratitude in your life in any capacity works to trick you into having a positive perspective, even if your conscience mind doesn’t want to have one 😉

 

Worthiness

You deserve it. You are worthy. You are enough. This message was repeated over and over and over again. To say it was a common theme is actually an understatement.

 

“The relationship you have with yourself is the longest relationship you are going to have. It’s not selfish to care for and love yourself, it’s your responsibility.”

Jenny Schatzle, TED Talk, ‘Rewiring how you look at yourself’

 

This concept of worthiness, like the other three points largely comes down to self talk as well – how we speak to ourselves in our heads.

I also appreciated the no bull shit solution Jenny had for that, “talk positively to yourself, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it, you are who you say you are, change the statements you say to yourself” (again paraphrased a bit there, sorry Jenny).

 

“People go on to say how radically different our world could be if every child was raised with unconditional love and support and I agree. But see I don’t think we need to wait until we raise a whole generation of children, I think we can start right now by making the decision to accept ourselves without any reservation.”

Micheller Charfen, TED Talk – Unconditional Positive Regard

 

We have this thing in Kiwi culture about being humble and this thing we call “Tall Poppy Syndrome” but I loved how Caroline McHugh put it in her TED Talk, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking about yourself less”.

Which would lead me to think, if we truly want to be humble then those tenants of kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, not comparing ourselves with others, being grateful and feeling worthy could actually be more likely to help us achieve that.

 

Slow Down

This is such a huge one for me personally. So much so, in my rush to ‘finish’ this piece of writing I missed it off. When I checked my TED Talk notes from all these common themes again and asked myself, “is it really that important?” It was like someone grabbed a giant highlighter and started illuminating the term ‘slow down’ in my notes. Well that was eye opening…

It not only appears in every one of them on some level but in many of them it appeared many times in the one speech. It is truly that important and until I remembered to slow down myself enough to move beyond the “argh I thought I had finished that! Do I really need it? This is going to be heaps long already! Does it add value?” thoughts that it dawned on me – its actually pretty key. In fact it could potentially maybe even have been better placed as the first common point (but fuck rewriting the whole thing now!!)

The modern world we live in was fast paced enough even before we started seeing real life evidence that the internet is literally starting to change the way we think. It’s quicker – we skip steps sometimes, it makes the desire for instant gratification worse.

Not only that but we are all so god damn time poor we try to do a million things at once. We rush from one thing to the next. It’s tiring. And it spreads our attention thin. No one of those million things have your full attention and presence.

It goes for all of the above points too. If we can’t try to slow down, both our bodies and minds, there is no place to be kind to ourselves, there is no time for practising gratitude, there is no thought space for us to tell ourselves we are worthy and there is no opportunity for us to consider WHY we are comparing (when we compare ourselves to others it is an opportunity for insight into what we feel we are missing or needing or judging ourselves for).

 

Loving ourselves, being comfortable with being imperfect, accepting ourselves mistakes and all, being grateful and slowing down. Maybe doing some more of those things in our lives and remembering that the internet is a place that promotes hate and misunderstanding, maybe that could filter through?

Maybe just a little bit? Or maybe just make everyone a little happier and more whole generally?

Maybe if more of us are genuinely happy and focused on being better, whole versions of ourselves, then maybe the tones of the opinions being expressed could change?

Or maybe not….

 

Maybe this post could have just been, if you feel like being an arsehole online, just remember, those words are heard and felt by someone else. And, just, like don’t. Stop it.

Please try to stop the pack mentality. Please be kind in your words. Please don’t judge things you don’t know everything about. Please remember that we don’t all have to agree on everything, if we did the world would be boring.

And remember there is this really real thing called a “vengeful angel”, don’t fight hate with hate. Miserable people thrive on it.

 

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Kindness, compassion not comparison, gratefulness, worthiness and slowing down.. That’s what we could really all benefit from remembering before we interact with each other online particularly I think… ❤

 

 

 

 

 


 

FURTHER CONTENT & VIDEOS

Here is some of the great TED Talks I have been watching and recommend on this topic:

 

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown- https://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o

 

Radical Self Love: Gala Darling at TEDxCMU 2012- https://youtu.be/GFXHYtY9ag8

Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model – Cameron Russell- https://youtu.be/ks1FEtWlzTU

 

Rewiring how you look at yourself | Jenny Schatzle | TEDxOaksChristianSchool 2016 – https://youtu.be/6DNqKig7Xis

 

How do you define yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez | TEDxAustinWomen2014 – https://youtu.be/QzPbY9ufnQY

 

 

Plus-size? More Like My Size | Ashley Graham | TEDxBerkleeValencia – YouTube

Unconditional positive regard — the power of self acceptance | Michelle Charfen | TEDxRedondoBeach 2014 –https://youtu.be/4tkkL9w2pw8

 

Living without shame: How we can empower ourselves | Whitney Thore | TEDxGreensboro

 

A journey to self-acceptance | Ekaterina Karabasheva | TEDxDonauinsel 2014 – https://youtu.be/vEQs3z8Sydg

 


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The World is Fuct…

So I don’t know how to put this any other way.

 

I have been trying to write something more about the negativity and angst that I keep feeling on the internet for a long time now.

 

I wrote this “Be Kind Online” post, which is a topic dear to my heart as my work and passion immediately before having kids was digital rights and online issues for youth.

 

I personally perceived it to be a really positive way to try and give my thoughts on some stuff without getting too heavy… Not because I don’t like getting “heavy” on things but because PEOPLE NEVER READ MY HUGE LONG POSTS.

 

I am trying to share the similar messages and seek social change in the same areas as the people who I even had constructive criticism on that post alone about.

 

They told me I minimalizing things and trivialising issues that were huge.

 

To be fair I never said anything more than “be kind online” this wasn’t a particularly targeted answer to a loaded question.

 

This was just me reminding other mums of some of the aspects of a previous campaign I had worked on. These mums seem to be doing this “pack mentality” thing online even worse than the kids being bullied and killing themselves that I was always talking about before having children of my own.

 

I “left” that campaign, I didn’t really ever leave the topic I guess but I couldn’t be the driving force of that project the same when I had a real life baby of my own in my arms.

 

I am emphatic by nature. I u-turned on aspirations to become a psychologist earlier in my life cause I realised that actually, I would take on the problems of these people too much, that I wouldn’t be able to give myself the distance I needed to maintain self-care.

 

Once I had Josh, I was just like straight up, looked at James, “I can’t talk to people about the risk of children killing themselves if we don’t help them with these issues anymore. I can’t even say the words youth suicide without crying…”

 

Obviously I know retrospectively, that was probably just like hormones and I probably would have cried saying “potato” but that’s not the point…

 

 

I am crippled by the “rules” and anger on these topics to be honest.Like I get it, I feel it too and all the stuff surrounding it is totally valid and justified…

 

BUT maybe we are looking at it wrong?

 

It feels like we are looking for someone to blame? Someone to hold responsible?

 

Marriage counselling if nothing else taught me that in conflict resolutions, focusing on who was responsible for what did nothing to help.

 

Yes you have a chance to express your perspective. That valid. You need to be heard and the other person needs to learn from hearing of your experience.

 

Then you have to do the same for them.

 

Then you move on from that, check your emotionally luggage and move forward.

 

This is if you’re trying to resolve conflict right. I’m not telling people what they have to do I am telling you what the marriage counsellor we went to told us to do.

 

So issues and hate online makes me really scared we’re missing the point of these conversations in the first place again!

 

The world fucked up.

 

Somewhere along the line, our current social structure and power models got fucked up.

 

Or some could argue they were from the start.

 

History shows us many awful examples. Current global politics is enough of an example of how much it is still fucked up.

 

But every parent is trying to do the best they can for their children with the tools, resources and support they have.

 

Some of us have more than others.

 

Information and empowerment are definitely big advantageous ones.

 

When we shame people or critize the choices other people and parents have made, we are not adding empowerment and nor are they in a position to truly learn from the information

 

So what could we do…

Yes there is hurt, valid real painful hurt and frustration, like blood curdling, tear out you hair frustration… I know this as I experience it to, that’s the thing about privilege, most of us experience both sides of that (unless of course we are a rich white powerful man in the 1% of society, which seems strange to think I probably need to remind everyone- I AM NOT!)

 

But these problems and ways of thinking are actually systemic! Our systems and power sources define the outlines of our cultures and in turn how we “act as a society”.

They are engrained in the way we once upon a time decided to “set up our world” and its power systems.

The world has changed and continues to.

The industrial revolution is the change that made our current work models which are in the majority of what many of us convinced them to be – you go to an office from this time to this time and do what someone at the top tells you what to do…

WHY? Because we needed a central power source (a water wheel or something) and lighting and power and this whole aspect of our lives was new to us as a collective and the dude running the factory had to pay for it.

Does that mean that in current in our worlds now?

No. Obviously, not at all.

The internet made the world different and technology continues to change the way we interact.

But it’s still just about talking!

We are social creatures humans, so connection is a huge thing for our sense of selves.

I feel like I need to explain Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and also aspects of pedagogical and andragogic here but that’s an entirely separate post… (its late, I am squeezing writing in the dark hours because, well kids and I can’t think when they keep wanting things! Geez :P)

And also WE ARE SOCIETY. We make up this dynamic too.

We are not passive creations that need to be forced into something. People in power set rules, I view it that if we don’t understand them or why we are there, then we can ask why.

That it is a democratic right to ask why.

There is no emotion loaded in me doing that. I am asking a question.

I want to understand things. I am not saying they are wrong or right…

I am saying, “I don’t know enough about this to understand, can you please tell me why that rule is there so I get it better?”

But as someone who was taught this concept very strongly by my paternal grandfather who was a Minister for the Unity Church and my father who was a very successful businessman but definitely not considered himself a christian who were both MEN, I have faced my own struggles following this advice as a girl or woman.

Power models and business are strongly associated with traditional masculine gender stereotypes.

This does damage to all of us – What does it mean to “be a man”?

But when I ask why, I am not told, “that’s a good question young man” like I know my Dad was often as a kid even when he was being a shit stirrer and much more “cheeky” than I could ever get away with…

I am told things like “confrontational”, “aggressive”, “combative” – this is on the internet- I have no tone in written word right… Like people do get that?

I am not saying “WHY IS THIS RULE THERE?” *screaming shouty face styles* I am saying like “why is this rule there?” *with probably some kind of shrug or hand gesture to point cause I talk with my hands a lot as well*

If you understand WHY someone tells you something, then you can decide if you do or don’t think its relevant to you or in your case.

Its about clarity. Its about understanding. Its about sharing that with people who don’t. Empowering. Educating. BUT that can be done with kindness…

 

And I know I have already said that I would like to focus on the positive shit and doing cool fun things and finding different ways to share these messages but THIS, just writing this, makes me all rage status.

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I am not effective when I am pounding the keyboard and screaming at people. That is scary. I can be pretty full on.

I have a tendency to get “manic”. If you know me in person you know what I mean no doubt.

I am high energy and in ya face kind of person. I do realise I have the power to use that and my privilege to create change and intend to do so, please don’t think I don’t care or am not constantly considering all these many things.

But for my own SELF CARE (I am allowed to make those boundaries, which is my right and responsibility to myself and my family) I cannot participate when it feels like this…

This kind of tension, it will either make me ALLLL CAPS RAGE EVERYWHERE ON ALL THE MESSAGES THREADS AND GROUPS OF FBLAND which in turn makes me an angry, worked up, short tempered person to live with… OR… I can continue to educate myself on these topics and continue to “lurk” in the shadows of some groups and block all notifications from others.

Again, don’t get upset with me. That is my right.

If I left the group I feel I would be walking away from important learnings but if I stay in the active conversations the “party” isn’t going to be the right kind for me, personally.

I want to do more cool and different shit and sometimes silly ways to create positive change in the world now. I tried the other way. I have plenty more stories I could share about how that didn’t work as well for me…

 

I am trying to find ways that make me still an ok mum and person too…

And like I am forever saying to my battling close in age boys, “BE KIND!”

 

So I am taking some of my own advice and being kind to myself too.

 

-Jess x