I am what I am (a.k.a Self Portrait 2018)

Five years ago I posted the photograph below with the words written upon it describing my journey recovering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), self-hate, and low self-esteem. Today things are very different and this entry describes how things are today. If I am honest I still did not think I could ever reach the point of body and self positivism as the negative hung around like a bad smell I could not get rid of. Looking at old photographs I can see and feel my pain with part of me wishing I had the keys to a time machine to reassure myself but know I probably would not believe myself or recognise the person as me. The ogre that once lived in my head has been truly vanquished, such are the incredible healing properties of self-acceptance and happiness. Actually, I thought I was not allowed to be happy as was meant for others and not for me. Now I realise happiness takes many forms, and I have the right to that as much as anyone else on this planet.

In an age when judgement is made so much on our physical form it makes me still at question if I fit in. Judging on physical form deeply saddens me as know there is so much to us than our shell of many colours. To those that think looks are everything consider the following: when you see an iceberg you only ever see the top of it not what it actually looks like in physical form (this is like judging someone from the clothes you see them in and only desiring the slimmest of figures); equally consider a swan that as a child looks very ordinary but becomes a beautiful and majestic bird (this is akin to judging someone based on their past alone, not who they are in the present and what they may have overcome); and finally consider if the music remained only oral and never visual with those you judge their music based on their sex appeal you could never see (this is like basing your attraction on a walking puppet controlled by someone unseen where nothing is actually real).

I know I am not an ogre but I am equally not a Hollywood A-list celebrity, but then again I would rather be the ogre than the Hollywood star! Accepting me as me has been far harder than academic study; although on saying that my PhD was one of the greatest stresses of my life to date. I am me, not the love child of Frankenstein’s monster and the Hunchback of Notre Dame as I used to think. Which was replaced with Pablo Picasso’s ‘Woman in Hat and Fur Collar’ for a bit as I attempted to readjust the mental image in my head. This was followed by a patchwork doll made up of patches that represented all the different things that make me, me, and stitched together with love from those that are special in my life. However, now I see the same image others see in my photographs and smile like I never thought I could, it used to physically hurt my face for starters. If I was to have any other visual of me it is of a Matryoshka doll, because there is more to learn about me even when you think you know me well I will always surprise you with another layer to what makes me the uniquely beautiful human being I am.

© Fi S. J. Brown

5 years ago.jpg

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Questions to ponder (and my answers)

  1. When was the last time you tried something new?
    – Last month, learning the Danish language.
  2. Do you think crying is a form of strength or weakness?
    – Strength, as letting go of what is hurting us and a sign to move on from it as best we can.
  3. Are you living or existing?
    – I try to ensure I live in the moment but some days feel like it is existing by joining the dots going from day to night.
  4. Are you holding on to something you need to let go of?
    – Yes, some personal stuff that still hurts from my past and impacts on the present.
  5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how you are?
    – Mid-70s, feel I have seen the world many times over and so many repeats but yet still room for surprises too.
  6. What makes you smile?
    – Seeing a message from one of my closest friends or my niece Isabella’s excitement at life without the jadeness we gain with age.
  7. When was the last time you listened to the sound of your own breathing?
    – The other day when sat watching autumn leaves fall around me.
  8.  What has life taught you recently?
    – Some people will always judge others by their standards or how they think life should be lived, best not give them your oxygen or time.
  9.  Can you describe your life in six words?
    – A cryptic maze with false paths.
  10. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make mistakes?
    – As in admitting we were wrong or caused an error leaves us feeling exposed and vulnerable, thus open to pain and hurt.
  11. If life is short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t?
    – We dwell too much on negativity and find positivity really hard, but should focus on we do have or are not would like or had.
  12. Is it more important to love or to be loved?
    – Both, as being loved shows us what love is and we should share that with those we feel are important in our lives (not just on anniversaries and special occasions).
  13. What act of kindness were you were once shown that you will never forget?
    – My closest friends by believing in me and encouraging me when I was not able to do so for myself.
  14. What is your goal for the next six months?
    – Find the middle of the maze.
  15. If you could live one day of life over again, what day would you choose?
    – Hard to single out one day as changing things would change who I am now but days filled with good memories I would like to keep being special for their uniqueness.

What about you? What are your answers?

© Fi S. J. Brown

Self esteem survival tips

As someone that has struggled with self image and esteem since my earliest years, but in recent times has learned to accept me as me and appreciate her for who she is.

Today on the bus I was thinking of tips on how to boost the self esteem of others, and this is what I came up with:
1. The media portrays an image of beauty that is edited and manipulated, look at people around you, they are what a “real” man or woman looks like not someone shown in The Sun, Vogue or Heat magazine;
2. How we look is but one aspect of us, by focusing on our personalities and what makes us uniquely special lets our true selves shine;
3. We all have bad days, even if we think we ‘look bad’, there are people that have it worse than we do and let go of expectations, be ourselves;
4. Smile, sounds so simple yet it can be so hard as I know well because it used to hurt my face more to not smile than to do so, so try it today;
5. Make up, do we really need these chemicals to put on a mask? It is not brave to go without, we should not feel we have to wear it to fit in or hide behind;
6. Fashion is a curious thing with designs and styles that don’t suit everyone, so wear what is comfortable and enjoy wearing, not what a magazine or website says;
7. Mirrors are mime acts copying our moves but do not become fixated with what it shows as only show a snapshot of who we are and have bits we dislike;
8. It does not matter what size or shape we are, focus on being healthy and listening to what our bodies say on functions not on how fat or slim we are;
9. Is your nose really that big or do you need larger breasts? Good friends will be honest and tell you. However, only you know and live with your body;
10. Grey hair or wrinkles? Old age is not something we all will experience, so who cares if we’re starting to ‘age’, life only goes in one direction, forward.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Time to smile

There is a saying that time is the greatest healer, and I would totally agree with it. What seems like a major incident today is but a footnote on our life’s story. In 2006 I hid the pain of depression inside and sometimes self harming my feet, I looked older than the almost 28 years I was suppose to then be. We are now in 2015, I let go of what hurt me and try not let today’s pains stick, setting them free as the sun sets. I am happier now within than I have ever felt previously. So whatever is making the world seem black, focus on the good things and keep the colour in focus. Remember we all have scars from where this world has bitten us, but it is now time to bite back.

© Fi S. J. Brown

I believe

I believe…
I believe today is the best day ever.

I believe in crying,
I believe hugging is the best therapy.

I believe in smiling,
I believe laughter is the best medicine.

I believe in dancing,
I believe music is the best language.

I believe in hope,
I believe intuition is the best guide.

I believe in loving,
I believe friendship is the best support.

I believe in you,
I believe trying is the best thing.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Friendship

For me one of the most powerful and beautiful things a human can do is offer the hand of friendship to another. Finding another person that accepts us for who we are and is there when we need them as we are in return. We are on this journey alone but having companions near and far in the form of friends makes the journey more fun, fulfilled and worthwhile.

As kids in the playground we found difference something to bully or tease another over but as adults we realise it is similarities that bring us together as friends with the differences where we learn more about the world we live in. We are part of a beautiful tapestry of many colours and it is the different friendships that make up the stitches and help tell our story.

True friendship is as great as any romance, as beautiful as an artwork in a gallery and unique as snowflakes, which together shine like the stars in the sky, give warmth to melt even the coldest of hearts and stronger than a rope of spider silk binding them together. Like all things of beauty, it can never be bought or sold, so let our actions and habits do the talking.

Whether a reason or a season, a ‘them’ shaped piece can be found in our hearts and soul to treasure, marking their presence in our lives and what makes us smile when we think of them. Everyone deserves to feel the love, hope and magic of friendship, so do not feel there is nobody out there caring as there is. So take a minute today and whisper our thanks.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Day of peace

As today is International Day of Peace, I took five minutes out of my day, shutting my eyes to think what it means to me.

Minute one – I thought of those that bring me comfort when sad, the people that make me smile and laugh, the way they look, the sounds of their voices and what they individually mean to me.
Minute two – I thought of the differences I have to the people above in my life, their little quirks and indocracies that I see as being very them, and the acceptance we have for each other.
Minute three – I thought of what life would be like without them in my life, how different it would be to it is now, and how I would react to someone or something hurting them in any way.
Minute four – I thought of those elsewhere in the world that have no one to love or trust in, live in continual threat of war, and where being different is stigmatised with fear of death.
Minute five – I thought of hope, to send to those that are in war zones, some have never known peace, how we magnify difference and not accept, and that one day that there will be peace.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Twenty words for life

I was asked recently, if you could only speak twenty words for the rest of your life, what words would head your list and why? I thought it was a great thing to ponder, probably nearly impossible to come up with only twenty with reasons. So with thanks to a pot of trusty Earl Grey, I came up with my list, and here it is:

1. and 2. Please and Thanks – They may be thought of as basic manners but they express gratitude without measure or cost;

3. Appreciate – To acknowledge how special someone or something is in our lives, that we would miss if we did not have them/it;

4. Accept – To allow ourselves and those in our lives to be who they are without judgement is a truly wonderful thing;

5. Friend – That special presence in our lives that over time creates a jigsaw piece of them in our hearts and minds;

6. Instinct – We should trust our inner voice, not let everyone we meet close as do not always have the best intentions;

7. Time – We should not put off something till tomorrow, wish we could relive a specific memory or that an event will come;

8. Smile – Something we can all do easily, can change someone else’s day, yet we often forget it also can make our own;

9. Beautiful – Too many are quick to find fault in others, and it is far harder to give a genuine compliment such as this says

10. Love – It does not have to mean what we read in fairy tales, but a special bond with others or the union of body and mind;

11. Nature – There is something about being out with the world we create to being around what is there living it’s life with us;

12.Thinking – So much of life these days is rushed, but it is good to take time to think things over before an action is taken;

13. Tears – Not all that falls from our eyes is a bad thing, as can be a sign of relief after much pain or happiness at good news;

14. Music – The sounds that are so special that they almost decorate our memories in an aural way with or without words;

15.  Hugs – That feeling when something with a heartbeat (it does not have to be human) physically touches us is incredible;

16. Colour – Planet Earth is a paint pallet of different animals, vegetables and minerals that become artworks in our minds;

17. Look – Our sight is a wonderful gift and eyes take in so much, but sometimes we do not notice or appreciate what is around us;

18. and 19. Read and Write – Two things we can learn, opening up new worlds, but we often fail to see their greatness or power;

20. Journey – Life is full of twists and turns, adventures to be had, and think of it like a river not a straight line from A-B.

© Fi S. J. Brown