If I Knew Then What I Know Now…

I think I can do some reflecting now that I have passed that half century mark. I ponder the influences of my childhood: not just parenting but friends, neighbourhood, siblings, societal impacts, education, religion and my own internal struggles. I know I was very fortunate to born into a family with two parents, 2 incomes, a family with strong values (even though those things were not verbalized, but rather demonstrated in day to day activities), a sense of groundedness (that being a faith in God) and a sense of you are who you are, and you deal face your challenges head on.

Tough love: yup, that’s what I grew up with. I remember getting a heck of a hiding when I was 5 minutes late getting back home as a child ( about 5 or 6yrs) because my parents told me not to go anywhere as we were packing the car to go somewhere. I just wandered up the street 2 doors. That taught me to mind their word and be on time/punctual. If you’re told something by someone in authority, you don’t ask questions, you just do it. Like dear ol’ Dad would say, “you don’t ask why? you say how high?” Was it harsh? Looking back, perhaps, but more importantly, it produced children that knew what was right, what was wrong, we had manners, valued hard work, and all that other “baby boomer” stereotypical banter. This begs the question, “How did this influence my up-bringing of my child?”.  Well, what’s “good enough for momma, is good enough for you”. For the most part, my childhood experiences and what I learned in my nursing training and just general awareness made me a somewhat softer “tough love” approach. What I do know now, that I didn’t know then, was that my only child would be raised well, have a good sense of who she is, her place in this world, have self-confidence and be a functioning adult that can speak her mind and stand up for herself and others that cannot. I don’t think that will change as I age.

Career choices and making life decisions when only 18 or 19 years old. Interestingly, as I reflect back on my experiences and the choices I made, I think I would have done much the same. I’ve always enjoyed being around people. When growing up, we moved a fair bit so was never settled in one place, and to this day I do not have a “home town”. A guess a bit like a nomad, without any sheep….But I digress. I still have not come to a conclusion about my Dad being an alcoholic and eventually dying of lung cancer due to his long history of smoking and drinking as to whether that influenced myself in the direction I choice in College and University. I started off thinking Psychology would be a good career. I did love people, I liked to be helpful, I knew I could relate to people. A year down the road, I was not prepared to be in university for 7 years, so made the switch to nursing, after all, you get psychology within nursing. I am goal driven, so I was on a role. I really enjoyed it, as nursing is/was very task oriented: many skills were learned in my journey to be able to care for patients and perform the many procedure during a day on the wards. My nursing now a days has changed a lot since the 1980’s and for the better. Holistic nursing: looking at the person, not the disease and focusing on THEIR health priorities is key. This knowledge and way of providing care is much superior to what I was taught, but I must say I would not appreciate and understand the complexities of this skill set if it wasn’t for my experiences on the wards and in acute care.

Hobbies: I never spent any time on hobbies until just recently. I was so career and knowledge driven, that I neglected relaxing or enjoyable hobbies that can take you away from stress, thinking, processing, relating, and all the rest of things that we do everyday. In retrospect, I should’ve taken the time to spent more “me time”, but as a young woman with a career that is demanding, a young child and that ever present societal norm of achieving in a material sense, that priority or need was negated. Now, I sit and think what if? Well, we all know that doesn’t do any good, so I try to do better and enjoy the things I do enjoy to balance my life. Making time for friends, visiting/calling my Mom, enjoying and learning my photography. The fun and peace I find behind the camera is wonderful therapy.  The whole world just stops and slows down. I can picture the world as I see it. I can make it a harsh reality or a soft, comforting image. Yes, if I knew then, what I know now, I would’ve started this 20 years ago. Who knows, I could’ve been a National Geographic photographer!!

The whole process of looking at our lives and thinking about what we know now vs. what we didn’t back then it as tried and true and tested as ever. Life is about decisions, getting up when you are knocked down, determining what kind of person you are molded to be in the end. Yes, life is that great teacher or mentor and the more of it you experience and try, the better your life will be and the better your stories for your grandkids!!

 

 

Beauty

I was reminded the other night about “beauty” being only skin deep. Yes, it is true. I was attending a meeting with other ladies and one of them read us a short devotional if you will. The topic was “beauty” and discussed what we all know: that:  being  that beauty is considered in that which gives us pleasure or is pleasing. That got me to thinking about it.

As a society, we value beauty, not just in our bodies/faces but also in our surroundings. You mention the word beauty or beautiful to anyone and they will picture something or someone different from you. Ahhh, yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? There is such variance as I think of that tribe in Africa that sees beauty in a long neck: girls start to wear these metal neck rings to ensure their necks are elongated, the Japanese at one point thought/valued small feet and women would bind their feet and became deformed, some think piercings and tattoos are beautiful, others like make up, hair dyes, etc. We certainly know that people are willing to spend their hard earned money on cosmetics, plastic surgeries, botox, body building, tanning and the list goes on. How can you not when you are continually bombarded with images and messages, some outright and others sublime. That just considered the people, there is a whole other realm of beauty to be had in our homes, in our gardens/yards, communities, cities and the world over. Don’t get me wrong I like pleasing things just as much as the next guy, I just get the idea that beauty is only skin deep meaning that beauty is something more than superficiality.

For instance, take the blind or visually impaired: how do they describe or experience beauty? Obviously, it is not something they can see, but rather something else they must sense: I would think their sense of beauty would lie in sounds, smells and touch/taste. We talk about our “mind’s eye”, which I think is what we picture in our minds, but how can this be for someone whom has never seen anything?? What do they picture?

There are so many interpretations or views of what is beauty: Take a look at these photos. These are considered beautiful images of women, which is truly beautiful?

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As I go through life, I realize superficial beauty is a wonderful thing if you have it, but if you don’t (according to society, or even your friends) it doesn’t mean you don’t embody beauty. When I look at photos or images of people, I gravitate towards the eyes and the laugh/smile. Why? Because they usually can’t lie. I think beauty is something we also carry inside and is shown to the world by our eyes, our smiles, our laughter our hearts and souls (our actions or words).  Maybe we have a wart on the end of our nose, maybe we have bad acne, maybe we have scars or burns. We have beauty inside which can emminate outwards. As women, we have many roles, many important parts to play individually, as a spouse/partner, as a mother, sister, friend, etc, and the list goes on. Society would lead us to believe our worth is in something so superficial that the least blemish will send teens and perhaps younger now into a panic!! Lord help them when they are faced with something that is potentially scarring: whether to her external beauty or to her internal psyche. The latter of course being much more damming. For me, with my journey of aging, and this on-going battle with skin cancers, I have had to let go of the societal image of beauty and be a better beautiful person. Every day is a new day and I am thankful to have the health I do and am still able to enjoy much of life.