Forward Planning

 

Do you have that friend or acquaintance who just oozes confidence.  Nothing fazes her (of course it could be him but for convenience I am going to stick with her).  She has a presence.  She is able to articulate herself and nothing seems to throw her off her stride.

I know someone who just epitomizes the word confidence and I met her for coffee recently.  After catching up on what had been happening in our own lives and our families lives we turned our attention to our working life.

She told me that my recent post “A Change of Title”, which discussed the feeling of being invisible, really resonated with her.  Since she has become a retiree she has totally lost her way.  She had started to withdraw from social activities as it was less stressful.

I realised, that yes, I hadn’t seen her as much in the last year to eighteen months but had never realised that this was due to a lack of confidence.  I was flabbergasted.  Here was a woman who a few years ago would have chaired meetings, talked in front of a hundred delegates and never once believed she couldn’t achieve things.

Since becoming a retiree she had begun to realise that without her job she felt useless and that gradually her confidence had been eroded.  She had no sense of identity.  She had gradually withdrawn from social events.  She had become an avid reader and was a weekly visitor of her local library.

It is so easy to lose one’s identity whether it is on retiring, becoming a mother or father, loosing a job, or a myriad of other reasons.  The effect is still the same.  One’s self-confidence begins to disappear.

As our conversation developed we each admitted to being very apprehensive about forthcoming events which each of us had to attend.  Suddenly I had a buddy who wanted to help me and at the same time I wanted to ease the social evening for her.

Angela never moves without her tablet so, as I had to attend a large meeting she checked Luas time-table to see how long it would take me.  Then Angela suggested googling the hotel where the event was being held.  A large percentage of hotels now have virtual tours so one can get an idea of the various function rooms.  Now that is a tip I will keep in mind for future reference.  We also discussed where I would sit.  An aisle seat would suit as I was giving myself permission to leave at any time while at the same time I wouldn’t be disturbing anyone.

Next we looked at Anne’s social night, where she would know the hosts but no one else. Again we checked out the venue then we looked at conversation topics which Anne could read up on in advance.  Then we looked at outfits.  By the time we had finished, both of us while not being excited about the forth coming events, found we were no longer totally apprehensive about them.

Definitely, a little bit of forward planning was going to make  the experience far less daunting and it is something I would totally recommend to anyone who is apprehensive about a forth coming event. It will ease the situation and more importantly ease the stress levels.

A Change of Title

For a long time, I had felt invisible but in the last few years it had become even more noticeable how I had become invisible to others.

A few years ago, I read an article about Sinead Keane, a marathon runner, who happens to have impaired vision.  In 2015 the organisers of the Women’s Mini Marathon, which is held annually in Dublin, would not let her running guide take part as he was male.  She challenged that decision and won.  A sentence in the interview with her kept reverberating in my head It’s about making invisible visible

This led me to remembering three Dunne’s stores workers who went on strike  in 1984 in Dublin after  refusing to handle south African produce due to Apartheid. When I spoke to them at the time, they talked about supporting  women in South Africa who were invisible.

While researching further into the whole idea on invisibility I came across many organisations who work for those who are invisible in our societies.  From those who are homeless, to those who use the law to secure equality and justice for people with mental disabilities worldwide.

Initially I was going to call this blog Dear Invisible but after my research I found I couldn’t.  There are many who are truly invisible.

However, that doesn’t take away the fact that many a person feels invisible. I initially believed that it was only as one got older that one felt invisible.  With the onset of wrinkles, grey hair, sagging chins, and other parts of the body, that then the sense of being invisible really manifests itself.

However, is this really so?  Or is it perhaps that one learns to feel invisible?  Perhaps we allow ourselves and give ourselves permission to be invisible? I don’t believe this.  I think the feeling of being invisible is linked to confidence or the lack of it.

It is amazing how over a number of years on one can loose self confidence or the feeling of self worth for whatever reason.  Regaining self-confidence is difficult and requires courage.  It is an ongoing process but once one starts it is an intoxicating feeling.

Taking on board Sinead Keane’s quote “it’s about making invisible visible” moving from a lack of self confidence to gaining in confidence enables the feeling of being invisible gradually disappear.  Like anything which is important it requires work and it needs constant help but it is so worth it.

It takes courage to stop feeling invisible.  In order to regain self-confidence, one has to move outside one’s comfort zone.  Even if it only baby steps one takes it taking that first step is that is important.

Feel empowered.  If you start to feel it, then your voice will be heard and you will never go back Mary Robinson.  This quote is so true and so inspiring.  Finding and feeling good about oneself is a very powerful feeling. i keep this quote with me where ever I go. I put it on the first page of each journal.

Taking those first steps and rewarding oneself is essential.  Recently I attended a course knowing absolutely no one.  A year ago, I would not have even contemplated attending.  But by preparing in advance I did attend.  What gave me the confidence was that I went to the venue in advance and knew exactly where I was going.  I googled the key note speaker.  I emailed the organiser with questions I had.  On the morning of the course I was able to walk in with confidence and attend.  It was still difficult especially when it came to coffee breaks but I made myself talk with two other attendees.

By putting into place things which helped me to feel confiden, allowed me to attend the conference and enabled me to speak.  I was visible and although at times the feeling of being invisible started to creap in. However,  I stopped the feeling from developing.  It was exhausting day but so worth it.

I found a saying recently I am currently under construction and that is me at the moment.

 

Generations

I was sent a short video to mark International  Women’s Day and it showed three young women who basically blamed all their ills on the previous generation. It was brilliantly put together and very funny.

However it set me thinking. Was this the way, that women who gave up paid employment in order to look after their family full-time were in fact being judged?

Since becoming one of those women back in the 1990’s, I found that society but to a greater extent working women saw me as something to be derided, belittled or totally ignored. I was told that “I was a pariah on society, taking without giving” .

I have been privileged to have met so many women mainly in the 50 plus age limit who are strong women. These women cared for elderly relatives, reared children, were and some still are active in their churches, started voluntary bodies which have since been taken over by state bodies, supported schools and worked unpaid for all their adult lives.

They have enabled others to have choices and they are still supporting their families with many of them taking on the childminding roles for the next generation. Some are finding  a new source of education through the next generation.

I was talking with a seventy year old lady recently. Dympna was inspired by a young twenty year old woman who communicated, read, interacted all through her mobile phone. Dympna now uses her mobile for everything from emails, to bill paying to basic phone calls. In turn she is now teaching it.

I am firmly of the opinion that there is so much to learn from every generation. No one generation is better than another but just think what can be done when the minds of different generations come together with respect.

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

Today I really noticed that Mother’s Day cards were abounding.  Ads for what to get “your Mother” are everywhere to be seen.

Mother’s Day is such a complex day.  Ok, on the surface it celebrates the roles of mothers with cards perhaps lovingly made in schools and a handmade present.  Perhaps the Dad or another relative has reminded the teenage child that a card is essential.  Perhaps they all cook a meal and celebrate the day together.

Perhaps for some women who have never experienced the privilege of motherhood, Mother’s Day is a day for curling up underneath the duvet and indulging in chocolates while allowing the tears to flow freely for those hopes and dreams which were never to be.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is another reminder of the child who is missing.  The hopes for the future again unanswered.  Perhaps a child has distanced himself, mentally/ physically or both.

Perhaps for the mother whose child has died, Mother’s Day is a public reminder of  the void that can never be filled in her heart.

Perhaps Mother’s day  is a reminder to a mother, that because of illness she is no longer able to be a mother and sometimes her child has to be her carer.

Perhaps the mother doesn’t recognise their child as a result of illness.  The laughs which would have been shared can never be shared as the mother retreats from the world.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is a reminder to a child, even an adult child, that the mother who should have nurtured, cared for and protected never existed  for that child.

On the morning of Mother’s Day, I always raise a cup to those mothers who are suffering that little bit more because of the day that is in it.

Perhaps we as women could go a little farther this year? Perhaps we could send a card, ring or call to a mother who is hurting on this year’s Mother’s Day.

A Christmas Card

I know this is going to be contentious but here it goes.  In Ireland over the last 10 years there has been a growing push by charities asking people to donate to a charity and not post or send Christmas Cards.  Why are they doing this?

There are many people and not just older people who look forward to getting Christmas cards in the post.   The card pops through the letter box usually with a Christmas postage stamp, the envelope hand written and inside there is a personal greeting.

Please pause a moment and thing back to the last time you received a personal greeting through the post? Let’s face it the occasion very rarely happens.  With the advent of paperless billing the volume of post has dropped.  Isn’t it good to receive that personal greeting?

Isn’t it wonderful to think that a friend, a colleague, a neighbour, a family member has taken the time to choose a card, write a greeting, address the envelope and then post it.  Isn’t it good to feel that even for a short time you were important to that person?

I attended a workshop during the year and a young lad asked me if I sent cards at Christmas. “Of course,” I replied “but why are you asking”? I learnt that this young lad has a chronic illness and at times it results in anxiety and depression.  When his energy is low and he feels his anxiety rising he will take out one of the Christmas cards he received and remind himself that he is important.

This conversation has remained with me.  We just never know how the simple gesture of sending a Christmas card can impact on someone.  I am sure there are many other examples of the smiles that a Christmas card can evoke.

Then there are the people who make their own Christmas cards who not only get a great buzz of making those cards but who also make others feel very important.  The hours which are spent choosing designs, paper and finally putting it all together before actually sitting down to write the personal greeting.

Many people send cards which they have purchased from specific charities knowing that the money is going back to that charity. These charities range from Children’s hospital to animal welfare. The money from those cards are important to those charities.

Can I ask a question of those charities who are asking people to donate rather than sending out Christmas cards? Why do you not ask people to consider donating the cost of an extra Christmas present? Why are charities not at Easter time asking people to stop buying Easter Eggs and instead donating the money to charity? There has grown the tradition of the 12 Pubs at Christmas in Ireland.  Why have the charities not targeted that?

These charities that ask us to donate instead of sending cards should really consider the impact this has on those who receive these Christmas cards.

 

Christmas puds

Conversations and Meetings

 

There is a need for interaction, for dialogue for the sharing of ideas not just in the written word but also verbally.

In fact, I have to push myself to join a group and continue to push myself to remain within that group.  I have found that by taking on particular roles or jobs it makes me remain active within the group.  For me, there is a need to push the limits.  If those are not expanded at times then my world would shrink.  This I have learnt the hard way and the only person who can stop my world shrinking is me.  Listen I am no saint and many a time I have just remained within the environs of my home.

There are times when I have to push myself to leave the four walls of my home and go out.  Most times it is difficult and then later when I realise I have enjoyed myself I get annoyed with myself.  Talk about a vicious circle.  I don’t think I am alone.  There are many more of us who give the illusion of being at ease meeting people while all the time there is the urge to scurry away and beaver at home.

It is so much easier now to interact with people via Skype, Whats app, video conferencing, texts email, but to actually sit with someone and communicate is just in a different league.  I have been trying to work out just what makes it different and it is the human touch.  Maybe it’s giving a person a lift while having a chat.  Perhaps it is sitting opposite over a cuppa and having eye contact.  Sometimes it is that hug which can speak volumes or maybe it’s that laugh which can lift one out of the doldrums.

Have you ever found that you are in conversation with someone and they can give you an idea for another interest?  Or perhaps expand an interest you already have in a totally different direction?  Or they have a way of listening and giving a response which suddenly makes everything clear. I am blessed to have such a friend. Catherine can take my verbal musings and make things clear for me in just a couple of words. She has an amazing ability to reflect back ideas in a constructive and more importantly concise way.

Perhaps a way to make Skype and all those other electronic conversations more personal and interactive is to share a cuppa. What I mean is that each of the participants has a cup of their favourite brew while they chat. Perhaps have a small bite to eat… can you imagine the exchange of recipes which could ensue especially if the conversation was over thousand of miles.

So if you are going to meet a friend be it in person or  virtual what would be your drink and your nibble? For me it would be a big mug of coffee preferably ground Ugandan coffee beans or Malawian coffee. And to have with it…pineapple upsidedown cake (made by my husband) or lemon meringue pie.