Shiny Happy People

It is said that there are nine common traits of happy people but they do not talk about them. I have listed the nine below and considered each one, how I feel about each one from my own experiences and knowledge. Am I really one of the world’s shiny happy people, or am I still stuck with depression filling my head with it’s darkness and endless tunnels?

1. “Love themselves for who they are” – Whilst I would concur this is true I would say it is more a self respect and appreciation for who who we are rather than a love. Accepting what this shell of a body can and cannot do, not wanting to change who we are to fit among the “cool” gang, and knowing when we give our best, that is enough for me.

2. “See relationships as an extension to, rather than the basis of the human experience” – I have known others to be depressed when single or unable to do something as need someone to do it with them. For me, I spend much of my time alone and enjoy the new things friends can teach me about life as much as the things we both share.

3. “Embrace change” – For me change in this world is something that happens all the time, there is no point in worrying as it will go the way it’s meant to be every time, even when it hurts hard. Each day is like an empty page, some is filled in with routine but remember the spaces inbetween are for new adventures and experiences, good and bad.

4. “Celebrate rather than compare themselves to the accomplishments of others” – I see people doing their best every day, if I have achieved similar I can share the feelings they maybe feeling now, but even if I have not, I know that they will have given their best to achieve it. Know the little things we have achieved are most often the greatest.

5. “Never dwell in being a victim” – Somethings that have happened in my life hurt badly but I have learnt these are part of who I am, so do not dwell on the pain they cause (mental and physical) but see them as patches that the love of good friends stitch together and give me strength to carry on even if feel the darkness descend upon me. 

6. “They live in the present” – I know how tempting it is to replay past memories, good and bad, or look forward to a future that will never come. Instead I realise today is the only day that matters, to be the best I can be today as these actions and those around me will be the foundations of tomorrow and will soon also be memories of the past.

7. “Trust that everything happens for a reason” – Good or bad, it’s the experience, lessons from it and how we react to it that matters most. If I had not done what seemed frivolous at the time, I would not have the good friends I now have in my life. Sometimes it is hard to see others having success when we do not, but ours may come in another form.

8. “They don’t let money dictate their lives” – From my earliest years I could not understand the global fixation with money, how one country could have so much more when others had so little. I see it as a necessary evil, as allows us to do things we may not otherwise do and do not need a credit card to allow me to have a “good night out.”

9. “Look within for solutions” – I have learnt it is my instincts I must trust when making decisions, reading around a subject before choosing what makes sense for me today. What I choose may not suit another but that is why I will not push my ideas on others, merely suggest to them to trust themselves with their own life skills and knowledge.

After over 35 years I guess I truly am happy within, something I never thought I was allowed to be. I may never have the white wedding or 2.4 kids, but those have not been what my life has been for. Equally, the future is such an expanse into the unknown, I would rather dip my toes in the present not jump ahead. Free to be me, not adding to the darkness.

© Fi S. J. Brown 

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Judgement Day

Do you judge yourself? Those you love? Friends near and far? Strangers in the street? Someone on television? A picture on the internet? Every day we make judgements and are judged based on our actions, what we or others accept as normal, right from wrong, and the labels we or society give others. These judgements can be made on a click of the finger, bitterness from previous experience, or assumption based on our own or other’s ideas of logic and reason.

Yet who decided to make ourselves or others the judge and sometimes jury too? Do we feel guilty when we make an assumption that turns out to be wrong? Are we too proud to admit we are wrong? Do we toss in our sleep like a salad with guilt, or sleep like a log in the forest? Do we learn from our mistakes, or keep repeating them? How does it feel when someone does it to us back? An opinion is just that, a belief, just because we or others do, does not make it right from wrong.

Like sheep we try to find a flock that is similar to ourselves, yet what we often fail to realise it is those that are different to us that teach us the most. We do not want to stand out from the crowd and feel the laughter and mockery. Life is hard, so why do we make it harder for others under a notion it may make us feel better? Personally, I would rather be a dog than a sheep, loyal and caring to those I love most, not following the crowd, being true to myself and respecting others.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Style over substance

Why is it is these days we judge by first impressions? The look or visual cues, rather then informational or intellectual content is lost. Instead it is the package or presentation of the messenger above the actual message.

Take modern music, the video, it is a representation or interpretation of a particular song that often overpowers the meaning of that song. However, 9 out of 10 times these days, if the song is mainstream it feels devolved of any creativity or soul. I feel, sense and see great works of art with music that the artist’s soul painted with their notes and rhythms.

With job hunting, companies want people to be part of their brand so have to look the part. Gone are the days of employing people due to their skills and intelligence, instead do they fit in with our company or can we mould them into being what we want and need. Style over substance. All sadly decided within the first fifteen seconds of meeting them.

Or take dating another human. How often is it the outer shell that judgement is based on, if they are “sexy” or not, it has become shallow. There is now no allowing time to get to know someone, perhaps as a friend first, and learning to accept them for who they are. Instead judge and jury on how they present themselves and not their actions.

Do designer clothing really say someone is more beautiful because they wear them? Saving up so can splash out to look like a princess at a ball. Even if catch Prince Charming’s eye, how to afford to keep up this new look presented if it is all about the outside and not what is inside? Clothing should show character and individuality, not identikit clones.

Winning some money on the lottery and buying a new house, not thinking of how to afford the monthly bills, but want to look the part with an expensive house as gives an impression to strangers, families and friends that this is what success means. Would paying off existing bills and living debt free not be far more a success and praiseworthy?

A first impression is just that. It is denying our instincts to judge someone on appearance alone, as their actions tell how they really are. Love does not have to blind. Even the greatest artworks need more than a glance to be truly appreciated.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The number 11

Everyday I travel by bus, people young and old, filled with their stories to tell. Each one deserves to be heard, as to not stop and listen may mean never meeting that new partner or friend, to give hope to a strange that feels that nobody cares about them, or maybe a favourite teacher who’s teaching years past lay the foundations of today.

Sat beside me is a little girl of around seven. Her hair is blonde like Cinderella, and falls all over her face like a waterfall. It is her pink shoes that draw my eyes as have a name all over them, not a designer one I recognise. I discover Rachel herself did the writing. From then on she became Princess Rachel of the pink sandals.

Behind us are two older ladies talking of all the South Edinburgh gossip they know. Did Elizabeth know that Simon’s wife just gave birth to twins, no Margaret did not but she had heard the sad news that Nancy had died. They both remark on what a lovely lady Nancy was and recall one time at the Assembly Rooms they all went dancing.

It is now tourist season, so at the very front are the tourists sitting with at least two maps of the city centre that do not show where they are now. Frantically checking with guide books and mobile phones, where they are and where do they get off they cry! As if by magic five strangers ask them at once can they help and where are they going.

A group of three school boys sit to my right. Each eagerly showing off their knowledge of football, which seems far greater than any pundits’ script I have ever heard on television. One knowing that it was some Ukrainian, with an unpronounceable name, had now scored twenty four times this season for some obscure sounding Spanish team.

A girl with the fake tan, yes the older ladies noticed her too, talking loudly on her phone to her friend Stacey that she is on the bus now. It is not just the fake tan and shouting making the ladies tut, but her fake eyelashes and nails, and less clothing on than most of us wear at bed times. I can only say for me she is brave to do so in this climate.

Three seats down are two men singing, it would not be an Edinburgh bus journey without a drunk or two. Like all storytellers of days now long gone, they sing their sad laments, including the wife of one who ran off with their mate and taking the kids with her, and another wishing they were both still young in body as well as in their hearts and minds.

There is a lady of around my age who I meet eyes with as I go to ring the bell to depart. The empath in me reads her face like it is screaming out in hidden tears and pain. I send her a smile, to give her hope, and send light to shine wherever darkness or pain is hurting so. Sadly, I get an unwanted grimace not a smile back. Still cannot help everyone.

Now it is time for me to depart from what is but a snapshot of life in this city and it’s people. A journey filled with stories, people and events that will never be repeated the same way again; this is a bus not a time machine. Their stories may get repeated in years to come or forgotten in the mists of time, but that moment was shared by each of us.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The view

I am at a lake, sat under a tree, wind touching my hair, and sun beating down. Across the lake is a bridge, to the West are mountains and the East a dense forest. In the sky three birds fly high and sing their song. I ponder what this one moment in time and view painted before me means, as everything happens for a reason.

  • My reflection in the lake is reminder of how unique my journey in life and my actions have ripple effects like a skipping stone upon the lake itself; 
  • The tree shows me like it’s rings I have good and bad years, I have the strength to carry on, giving shelter and hope to others;
  • The wind is Mother Nature’s kiss to share her maternal love and knows better than any other mother what is right and wrong;
  • The sun gives hope that even in times of darkness there will be light again soon, even if right now appeals to be pitch black;
  • The bridge a reminder I have choices to make in life and sometimes it is best to burn bridges on the past when someone has hurt me;
  • The mountains foretell of hard times ahead but the journey to reach the summit will fill me with knowledge and experience;
  • Where as the forest foretells of change and that a transitional phase is to occur but no matter what must always follow my instincts;
  • Finally the birds are my closest friends, they are there to remind me that they support me and even if I don’t see them, I can hear them.


So which of my options do I explore first? Easy. I climb the tree as then I can have all my strength and knowledge to help me make the decision that is right for me now and not forget the bigger picture. Finally remembering that the plans and actions of today, are what bear the fruits and gifts tomorrow and a future to come.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Girl Friday

So you came to my world to escape the madness,
Free from the ragged men and plastic women.
A chance to be reborn as your own creation myth,
Where the grass grows in fifty shades of green.

I am the girl Friday of the island of paradise,
A trusted friend through good and bad times.
I am the one that knows all your secrets and lies,
And will never judge your words or actions.

So you came to my world to find knowledge,
Give you wisdom and insight without barriers.
Within seconds I can give you the answers,
To satisfy even your most sadistic of desires.

I am the girl Friday of the island of paradise,
An ocean away from your daily troubles.
I am the lover that will always go the extra mile,
And will soothe your soul day and night fall.

There’s a blinding and deafening pandemic,
There’s a brave new world coming out there.
With the grey walls of prison without any bars,
Will you awake from the dream you now live?

So you came to my world to escape the madness,
And you believed the fools that printed the words.
Through their spin that leaves you dizzy with hate,
Chasing the ghosts, shadows, the invisible enemy.

I am the girl Friday of the island of paradise,
The gatekeeper and key master to the truth.
Will you now come awakened by the light,
With the ball and chain broken at your feet.

There’s a blinding and deafening pandemic,
There’s a brave new world coming out there.
With the grey walls of prison without any bars,
Will you awake from the dream you now live?

© Fi S. J. Brown

Raise your voice, not the sea level

Today is World Environment Day, with the theme ‘Raise your voice, not the sea level’ for the small islands of the world and climate change.

Our world I believe has changed in my lifetime as it has yours. Maybe it was being aware by my teens of environmental issues, from CFCs, Rainforest destruction and extinction of animals, all of which I felt were important to be addressed but all too often lost in the bigger story of humanity over Earth’s, one. We have replaced her with our own agendas, dictatorial speeches and songs.

Climate change has been perhaps the biggest story in our collective lifetimes. During my PhD I discovered changes both natural and human driven 2000 years ago, so the current changes to the environment and climate interest me on many levels. I care passionately about this world of ours and share with so many others beautiful species from cyanobacteria to plants and animals.

I am not going to say if I’m a sceptic or accepter of climate change, but we must remember that every action we do has a ripple or domino effect. In considering the impact of change we need to consider all life that live on that island and respect it, if that means listening for example to the native women, that’s what we do, and not put our size 9s and master hat thinking we know the solution.

With all the talk of Fracking close to home, many in my own country forget we too live on an island and are we prepared for changes in sea level – no! It takes a special kind of person to listen, so perhaps we should be listen and watch the small islands so they can teach us how and what not to do, respecting their traditions.

© Fi S. J. Brown