Sunday Poser #109: The importance of appearances

Sadje over at Keep it alive posed the following question: “Looking good; Is it vanity or a requirement?

Here’s a link to her post:

I do feel that marketing, aimed at women in particular, strives to convince us that our appearance is of the utmost importance. Ads play on our insecurities and also our vanity. We live in an age that is youth obsessed. Marketing gurus urge us to dye that unsightly gray hair; buy this wonder pill to lose that weight; advise us on the best choice in clothing, health products, skin care, etc. etc. ad nauseum. If we believe their strategies then appearance (and not just any appearance but a youthful, attractive appearance) is certainly a requirement to live a “good” and successful life.

Is it vanity to want to look and feel good? Perhaps. But we are judged on appearance and if we want to fit in, be accepted by our peers, or land that dream job then we are required to go along with cultural and societal norms and expectations whether we really want to or not.

I had a coworker once remark, “She keeps her hair long because she’s trying to be a teenager”. In point of fact I keep my hair long because I can no longer style it due to extreme pain in my shoulder. I simply cannot use hair dryers or curling irons or any other styling tool without causing myself agony. I wear it in a pony tail most days, or clip it up. I don’t think my competence at work is dependent on how I wear my hair!

Psychologists are hired by marketing firms to give them insights on how best to play on our insecurities and vanities. algorithms are also employed to ensure capitalist companies make top dollar. Social media is mined to garner further insights into the human mind.

Sigh! Having said all this I do strive to look my best, because, as Sadje pointed out, I feel more confident and feeling good contributes to my over all well being.

Hop on over to Keep it alive to voice your own opinions.

Coping with grief, coping with life

I’ve been binge watching Grey’s Anatomy to distract myself from grief. Most of you know my husband died recently. And before I get advice about sitting with the pain, trust me I have been. I don’t only binge on old seasons of Greys, I have also been walking to get out of the house and to allow nature to heal the pain. Walking really does help. And today I went back to work after a long absence. I would like to write something eloquent and wise but I just don’t have it in me of late. Any creativity seems to have been frozen with the death of the man I loved. I’d like to write something positive and inspirational. I don’t have that in me either at the moment. So, I am uploading a photo I captured yesterday. Please forgive my lack of writing skill as I cope with grief; cope with this new reality, this new life without him.

Sometimes when my spirit feels as frozen as the fields in winter it helps to get out in nature and just breathe.

Processing Grief

I have to get some of this outside me. The heaviness weighs upon my chest and so, I write. I don’t need sympathy or anyone to “fix” this. I just need the release writing gives me.

Grief is painful, yes. It is also irritating beyond belief, especially when dealing with seemingly thousands of details like returning his cell phone; signing innumerable forms; handling financials aspects; and so much more. It is absolutely draining. I go from wanting to weep to wanting to scream my frustrations into the void. Grief is walking the aisles of the grocery store and trying to swallow the lump in my throat when seeing his favorite foods. Grief is people awkwardly avoiding you because they don’t know what to say. It’s not contagious people, I swear it isn’t. Grief is a torrential rain of feelings. Most of all grief is missing a loved one so much that you think you might die from the pain of it. Grief is my phone never stopping with text messages and calls, until after the funeral when the phone is completely silent. “Let me know if you need anything” was said so often by pretty much everyone I know. But I don’t know what I need, except I need the pain to stop. It won’t. I know this. Grief is a road I must walk alone. I am sad. I am angry. But most of all I am incredibly lonesome. I need to talk but while misery loves company, company definitely does not like misery.  Everyone deals with grief in their own way. For me, I need to talk about Randy. Please let me.

How many days off work for a death in the family?

A question posed by the grief reality got me thinking about this. For some reason WordPress would not allow me to post a comment. Weird. So I am answering it here, with a few twists. Many places of employment have a sliding rule based on closeness of relationship . I cannot remember what the exact policy was at one place I once worked but I remember this: I could have more days off for the death of my mother than I could in the case of my mother-in-law. Which was the case at the time and I guess that’s why it sticks in my memory. It’s weird, isn’t it? I mean, a death in the family affects us, no matter what the relationship happens to be. For some people their mother-in-law may hold a closer bond than they had with their own mother. At least that’s what one friend told me. She’d had a rocky relationship with her Mom but a close and loving one with her mother-in-law.

At any rate, how do employers come with this policy? How do we as a society measure the time needed to heal the wounds of grief? It’s such an individual thing. The pain cannot be measured. Some take much longer to recover than others. I dislike arbitrary rules but I guess there must be some policy or all would be chaos. Or would it?

My experience has been that grief is something most people avoid speaking of and often feel very uncomfortable around bereaved individuals. Why? Death is the one thing that is guaranteed in life. No one gets out of here alive. It’s just a fact of life.

If you’d like to check out the grief reality here’s the link:

Picking fights

I had hoped by now that the convoy that began with truckers protesting vaccine mandates before they can cross the border and then morphed into a general protest against all public health regulations would have blown over. It hasn’t. After more than two years of anxiety and fears that out health care systems may be overtaxed, we now have this to deal with. I guess it is obvious by now that I am not a supporter of these convoys and protests. It seems to me that too many individuals simply want to pick a fight with someone, especially Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has the power to scrap the vaccine mandate. In the meanwhile, it is causing elevated tensions between the pro-vaccine and anti-vax crowds. That concerns me.

We have a firm policy at the library where I work that people must wear a mask, that includes children over three years old, and follow social distancing guidelines. I’ve noticed that since the protests began a week ago that people are becoming bolder, entering the library without masks and getting belligerent with staff when told they are told they must wear one in the library.

 I know we are ALL tired of covid and all the inconveniences that came with it. For those of us who work with the public it is positively draining to have to deal with people who often are less than respectful. Personally, I do not want to argue or discuss the pros and cons, I am simply following policies laid out by my employer. Don’t shoot the messenger

I would just like to say to these people, I know you’re frustrated. I know you feel helpless. I know you want to take back control of your lives. I get it. I just happen to think we need to approach any conflict with respect, not confrontation. When all is said and done and covid regulations have been relaxed, we will still have to live with one another. Let’s all keep a cool head, this, too, shall pass.

The road we’re on

Some roads are smooth and free of potholes and other annoying bumps and roadblocks; at other times the road is far from smooth and the ride far from pleasurable. Sometimes we can only see clearly when gazing into the rear view mirror. Lessons of life are like that. We cannot know why the road we’re traveling is either smooth or bumpy until long after we arrive at our destination. Hind sight really is 20/20.

The highway my family is currently traveling along on is rather a bumpy road, full of potholes the size of the grand canyon and road blocks that seem insurmountable. Our daughter-in-law received the results of her biopsy yesterday. It was not the good news we’d all been hoping for. The tumor is malignant and unfortunately had grown to such a size that surgeons were unable to remove it all. Our son and his wife now have to consider what treatments to pursue and they are, quite naturally, devastated by this news. One day at a time is all we can manage as the road plunges in front of us.

I am so proud of both of them as they face these challenges, peering into the murk while standing firmly on their feet, with a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor that nearly makes me weep. Yet, I am a firm believer in the power of the Divine One, the Creator, the consummate healer and provider of peace and comfort. I know that whatever challenges lie ahead we will be given the strength and fortitude to carry on.

On the highway, going home

Waiting yet again

I well remember the agonizing wait while my hubby underwent surgery. The doctors had warned he might not make it, and if he did he stood a good chance of experiencing a fatal heart attack within six months of the surgery. He came through the surgery and the following six months without any heart attacks. We are both grateful for that. That was two years ago.

Today my son is going through that same agony. My daughter-in-law had to be air lifted to the city for emergency surgery. She has a brain tumor. As I type the minutes are slowly counting down. I am waiting for a call from our son to tell me she’s been taken to the operating room. My heart is with them both as they travel down this very difficult path.

As always, when I am stressed I turn to writing (and praying silent prayers). If you care to, would you please add your prayers to mine for a successful operation and a speedy and full recovery. Thank you!

To toot my own horn…nope!

Can you toot your own horn? I am so not good at that. I’ve gotten much better over the years but I always found it a painful and uncomfortable thing that I abhorred with every fiber of my being. Interviews for jobs gave me the willies because I was so bad at tooting my own horn. I was raised with the attitude that tooting one’s own horn was barbaric and braggarts were regarded with something akin to the plague – to be avoided at all costs! Humility was placed high on the values measure. I am however, very good at bragging up family and friends and their accomplishments!

Yet, we all have talents or gifts to share. They weren’t meant to be hidden under a bushel basket. So, I am in the process of publishing a novel I wrote. I have to write a blurb about myself. It’s still tortuous! But, needs must! In this world of “Influencers” and the seemingly insatiable appetite for “likes” and followers I feel woefully unprepared. How about you? Are you good at toting your own horn?

Sad and weary

So, you’ve read the title, therefore you are forewarned. Please, bear with me. I am sad and weary. I am my husband’s only care giver. He has a lot of various health issues. It’s hard sometimes. Sometimes I just feel so worn out by life. We just returned from the big city where we both had appointments with specialists. Pandemic restrictions were very much in evidence in the city. For one thing the hotel where we stayed is huge yet there were only ten cars in the parking lot, including ours. I know a bit part of my malaise is due to the long months of self-isolation due to hubby’s health. We simply could not risk much interaction with others. It gets very lonely. If you’re a care giver you will understand where I’m coming from. I just needed to get this outside myself, to lay it down and not carry it for a bit. I am usually a fairly upbeat and positive person, but today, today I am tired. So very tired.

Walk a mile in their shoes: a challenge in these times

As I write the news screams about rising cases of the new variant across the country and around the world. While new vaccines have given us hope, the reality of the virus evolving into strains that may be resistant to these same vaccines is depressing. Our federal and provincial governments are stressing the need to stay the course, to continue social distancing, hand-washing, and the wearing of masks. As I write I continue to struggle with the present dismal realities. We have yet to be vaccinated, hopefully that day will come soon.

 A friend of ours insists there is some ulterior motives out there aimed at keeping people fearful and not fully living. I have tried very hard to see things from his perspective; to walk a mile in his shoes. I am not having any success at all with it. To my mind governments are not trying to control us. They are trying their best to navigate this pandemic and giving the best advice they can. (Well, some governments are.) The way I see it governments who stress the whole social distancing regulations are simultaneously losing many tax dollars due to these same regulations. What politician or government would really want to do that? I would not want to be the one having to make decisions on the part of the populace at any time, much less during this pandemic.

Try as I might I just don’t understand what the big deal is? Okay there are fair points when it comes to staying away from family and friends. I get it. We celebrate Easter this weekend. In my family it means another holiday without the usual family dinner that I love. That makes me incredibly sad. Yet, I am hopeful that the efforts at social distancing, etc. will eventually pay off.

To my mind it comes down to what is most important: individual rights or social responsibility to others. For me the latter will always be my first priority. Yes, right now that requires sacrifice but it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make if it means less people getting sick or dying; if it means keeping our health care systems from being overwhelmed; if it means having family dinners again where we feel truly safe and joyous in one another’s company.

We are entering the spring season, a season of new life and rejuvenation. It is my hope that the vaccines will do their job; that people can, eventually anyway, gather in celebrating life. Until then I will make whatever sacrifices are needed toward that end.

If you are a Christian, I bid you Happy Easter. If you are not then I bid you a Happy Spring!