What is your take on love

Do you believe you are or have been in love?

I was asked this question many times during the first couple of decades of my marriage. Being married very young everyone decided they knew better than I, so the statement rather than the question was, You cannot be in love you are too young!, or do you even know what love is? I tended to answer with ambiguous phrases because honestly I was unable to answer undeniably. I was very young, with little experience to compare. I was extremely happy and felt safe so I believed I was in love. I had nothing tangible to qualify this feeling. Over the years with this question being posed often, I wondered how one could categorically answer it. In years gone it was not generally perceived that women would have careers, their role was that of housewife and mother. Marriage was there go to, the only real excitement in their life between the 21st birthday bash and the expectation of children. The wedding was high on the female list. Marriage was still considered as a permanent structure so it was important to try to evaluate whether the love you felt for your partner was real or just a fleeting crush.I have thought many times over the years, including more recent times, that the partner in the equation of marriage was often less important than the big day. It really saddens me to say this but countless conversations leading up to the wedding day reinforces this belief over and over again.

The sixties was a huge decade of freedom and love, discovery and awareness. Many times the subject of love and sex was part of the discussions within my circle of friends. With more and more news about feminism and career possibilities women were a little confused about their futures. Add to this the talk of sexual awareness, sexual freedom and I think it was fair to say we as females questioned whether love was real or just an emotional stage. Everyone described their relationships in differing terms, with moving levels of depth which actually made it near impossible to evaluate.

Describe what love means to you.

One has to define love before answering this question. the dictionary says,  “an intense feeling of deep attraction” or “a great interest and pleasure in something” 

The Oxford dictionary says “ an intense feeling of romantic attachment based on an attraction felt by one person for another etc etc .

So is it one or the other, all of the above or none of the above. Another description I read in a google search seems to describe loving a person more adequately in my mind. 

I quote. “Love is when you choose to be at your best when the other person is not at their best. Love is when what you want is never as important as their needs.” When I say this I stress it is never ok to disregard ones own self worth. If we do not love and respect ourself then we cannot have the same love and respect for another.  

I believe love is many things and one does not know this on their first encounter or for many years later. What we feel in the beginning is desire, sexual attraction, heightened emotion and an ease of presence and safety. However these emotions can be obliterated so quickly with negative actions, that they are not sustainable without more. As humans we also need friendship and empathy. We need to feel and receive compassion, caring, understanding. Furthermore we must also learn to accept another person for who they are, not for whom we want them to be.

How does love vary from person to person

My lifetime has revealed many types of love. The protective love of a child, total respect and honour of a parent, the passion of a lover or the comfort, deep understanding and compassion of a spouse. Even though these descriptions are all emotional and easily identified they are no less important than the devoted and sustained love of a career, a job, a hobby or a pastime. This being said it is relatively obvious that love varies considerably both within one person and between two persons. Love is too vast a category to define it with one description. It is a feeling and one not easily described and one that takes time to truly recognise.

Reflection

Having said all this, I can honestly say now after 52 years of being with the same man, we have grown together and changed in many ways. We have laughed, cried, loved, annoyed and frustrated each other over the years. When I think about all of what I have described above, I finally I have the confidence to say I have experienced several forms of love and am and always have been in love.

What do you give a senior person as a gift.

It seems simple when we, being older people, say we don’t want gifts, we have everything we need. You may have read in a previous blog about my feelings about celebratory days. Therefore you would know I do not rate them as a priority in my life. Having said that I like to be spoiled the same as most people. To feel loved and pampered is so uplifting. It is a motivation to keep living, especially for those who are ill or those whose lives are sad and lonely.

The type of gift is what is important here. In todays world, particularly in our lucky country many of us own our home, have money to buy what we need and as we age we need a lot less. I only speak for myself in this post but I do think that if you give the following it will be appreciated.

Time is what we want, whether it be time spent with those who makes us happy or time spent doing the activities or the hobbies we enjoy. Time to be heard and time to reminisce. What we need is to feel respected and loved. By this I personally mean we like to think we are of value and our experiences and insights gained over the years have not been wasted.

I am sure a lot of us remember back when we were teenagers or young adults and thought of our parents as old, unwise, out of touch and intolerant. I can recall these feelings on some occassions.

I am now old enough to realise how thoughtless and even cruel that was. I did not value the time I had with the people who knew the most about me. I did not respect the experiences and the knowledge they gained through the multitude of changes they went through over there existence. I had not experienced the hardships of war and the depression. I had not lived through several pandemics I had not experienced death and destruction. I often think about the confusion of migration and the introduction of new cultures and traditions. In addition to this I wish I knew more about their lives as children, what toys they had, what they did with their friends. We will never ever really know what the world was like before we entered it, if we rely only on books or google to enlighten us. Talking to an older person will give you so much more colour, depth and yes maybe a little license will be taken with the story but it will be worth it. Life was so different in generations before us. It has only been in recent times that I have taken the time to think about this. What I do know is I now regret by own lack of insight.

Next time you are thinking what can I give grandma or the elderly neighbour or anyone for that matter, buy the chocolates, the flowers or the new appliance they may need but pair that offer with a visit, a phone call or an invite for coffee. The exchange will be more than worth it for you and I assure you the person receiving will value that time above everything else.

What is a successful life

Is there a difference between achievement and success

Ken and I have just had a discussion about the privilege of being able to sit out in our own garden with a bottle of wine warming ourselves in front of a pit fire chatting about anything and everything.The discussion turned to being proud of what we have achieved in life. Nothing like wine for a bit of self praise. Ken is a pretty humble guy so I found myself having to convince him that we have achieved a lot. I sat there listing what I believe are his achievements and he minimising each thing as normal and ordinary. He then proudly points out my achievements and I, maybe less than him, I write them off as ordinary.

What i want to discuss is what I believe is success. Bare with me here as this ramble is a bit self indulgent. Recently in a zoom discussion a group of friends were doing questions and answers. The question – What does success mean to you? Most answered happiness or financial security, a good career. I value those things and I do relate them to success. I had not really thought about the question beforehand and when I answered off the cuff I had to later query myself. My answer was, “Getting to this age and still being alive” Am I answering the same question or am I talking about my achievements? Is there a difference?

The dictionary definition of success is ” the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” an example of this may be,

A person has just walked to the end of the street with the specific purpose of getting to the end — success.

The dictionary definition of achievement is ” a thing done successfully with effort, skill or courage” the same example with a slight difference.

A person with only one leg has just walked to the end of the street with the specific goal of getting to the end—achievement

If we take these words literally we could be quietly destroying our confidence. We all have an aim or a purpose for each day of our life. We wake each day with a to do list and at the end of the day the tasks are not all completed. do we render ourselves as failures or do we consider ourselves successful with what we did finish.A negative person will head toward failure but a positive person will be successful. My belief is we are all successful in the fact that we are still functioning at the end of every single day. Life can be hard with many hurdles to jump. Every time we get to the other side of those obstacles we have achieved.

The reason we think we are not successful or feel we have not achieved comes from the reality that these words are often used to describe status. When we think of status we immediately relate to financial security, financial freedom, power or position, recognition and validity.

Many years ago I remember a day when I felt l had not achieved or been successful very much in my life. That day was a negative one and I decided after that to think a little more about what exactly was success. I thought about what was important to me as opposed to what everyone around me thought. I remember back to my mother and her last years. Unfortunately she had a difficult life and was still renting and struggling financially right up until her death. She was also ill and in pain so her last years were not happy. I remember thinking then that I did not want to be reliant on the government and I did not want to have the insecurity of not having a roof over my head so this thought process was my motivation to try to achieve some financial security.I feel an element of success because there was a purpose for getting to that position. It is however something that I have achieved but do not think about it as an achievement. I think about getting my accountants degree under quite difficult circumstances so I do count that as an achievement as it took courage and a whole lot of effort to obtain it. I am valued by my present employer and I count that as an achievement because I have learnt the skills to be good at what I do.

My husband worked for over 25years with a very large company with thousands of employees. When the company finally closed its doors he was the last person left to finalise everything. He was not the CEO or the financial guru, he was the warehouse manager and he was a dedicated, hard working, loyal employee who they trusted. Ken has been an amateur astronomer since he was a boy. He is well respected by his peers. He has co-authored two books on astronomy and co-authored and published other astronomy magazines. One annual publication has been produced 31 years running and is highly regarded in the industry.

Together we ran a successful small business for 18 years with loyal staff who are still our friends. Our customers openly praised our business and again some are still our friends. We did not become outrageously rich from this but certainly helped to gain some financial security in our old age.

Ken and I have been married for 52 years and we are happy with our lives. He has been my whole life since I was 16yrs old. He is my mentor, my security and my only love. We own our own home and we have travelled both local and overseas. Our achievement here is that we are still together we are still respectful of each other and we are still happy. We have 2 daughters who are still talking to us and hopefully will be active in our lives until the end. We are enjoying our retirement. We are not rich in money or famous, neither are we distinguished or decorated.

We are however very rich in life. I call this an ongoing successful existence with many achievements.

Have you thought about this question and what do you think is important?

Questioning how we Celebrate.

I want to pre-empt this ramble by saying that I, like most people enjoy the fact that traditional special days allow me the excuse to do something fun with people. I am sure my boss would not understand if I simply asked for a day off because I felt the need to celebrate. Public holidays give me a day off from work or house duties and other allocated days of celebration give me an excuse to eat more cake or to drink more wine. Often with the added pleasure of seeing my friends and families on these days. None of these are bad things and I am not about to advocate for the removal of any of these special occasions. Having said that I have never pushed heavily to celebrate these days because the reasons behind the allocation of these special days simply do not comply with my personal beliefs. Furthermore many of these events are so commercially driven that it makes me angry and disillusioned.

Birthdays

This should be the easiest to understand. We are born, we have no say in the matter, we have no control over how, when or why this occurs.The mother, in fact, is the hero on this day. She is the one is deserving, having spent many months carrying an extra load and doing all the preparatory work for us to enter the world. We then just pop out into the world after many months of complete loving protection. For for this hard work we get to celebrate one day a year for the next how ever many years we stay on this earth. Consider for roughly the next 20 years we still have no control over our lives, in fact it is our parents once again doing the hard yards in keeping us alive during this time. At this point in the discussion I think Mum and Dad should be having “The Birthday” celebration.

I will admit the next 20 years we may, and I emphasis may, earn the right to be recognised and the right to feel appreciated. These are the years some of the human race finally figure out that we have reached adulthood and maybe it is time to stand on our own two feet. We have to start making decisions for our futures. We have to work to cover our own finances, we get to choose how, when and what path we will go down. So the question here is, for this and the next 20 years should we be rewarded and congratulated every single year simply for living.

Now we get to 60 and this is when I do believe we should get to celebrate once a year or for that matter all the time. There are several reasons why. Firstly we got here, that is in itself a huge effort on our part so I feel we deserve some recognition at this point. Every year thereafter is a bonus also worthy of reward. Secondly we may have actually achieved something in our lives, good work ethic, great relationships, financial security. For those who have not had an easy ride up to now, they need to be made to feel hopeful that something good is around the corner. The third reason is if we have been lucky, we will now actually have the time and the finances to enjoy those celebrations we have already had 60 times over but have never necessarily appreciated or understood why we were being congratulated.

Public Holidays

In Australia the government allocates, at the very least, 9 public holidays to celebrate each year. All employers are responsible to pay their employees a full days wage if the public holiday falls on a work day. This of course is in addition to the other 30 odd days a year the employer pays for unworked time off. The employer receives no benefit, no compensation and no production on those days. This is a large cost for the business owner whether it be the government or private enterprise. Of course we as employees will all argue we deserve it. Well that is certainly an argument for another time. There are several reasons for these allocated days and one wonders the significance of these days in the modern world. Let us take a closer look.

  • 4 days are based on religion whether you are religious or not.Therefore many of us are allocated time off to celebrate something that means absolutely nothing to us and in fact it may be something we totally frown upon.
  • 1 day is based on the introduction in Australia of the 8 hour working day back in 1856. Not sure we need to continue to recognise this day 165 years later. I understand it was a major achievement back then but currently the push is for a 4 day working week so the 8 hour day will then be redundant or will we then change the reason for the day off.
  • 1 day is given for the Queens birthday. There are many historical reasons given for why we all are given a day off to celebrate this milestone many years ago. In reality how many people actually reflect on this event on the day allocated and how many people in this country actually support the monarchy.
  • 1 day is given on 1st of January each year was introduced by Caesar partly to honour Janus the Roman god of beginnings. I do find that hard to relate to in todays society. Actually I think we keep this day as it is required as a recovery day from the New Years Eve parties the night before. This makes much more sense to me.
  • 1 day is given to celebrate Australia. For many people, Australia Day is about celebrating the values, freedoms and pastimes of our country. It’s a time for BBQs in the backyard, having a beer with mates and proudly flying the flag. On the surface, Australia Day seems to be about unifying all Australians, and yet ironically, it’s a divisive day for a growing number of people.The controversy of this day is increasing year by year and I wonder how beneficial it is in this modern society.
  • 1 day is given to commemorate the landing at Anzac Cove and is a mark of respect for those who served and sacrificed their lives in the Great War. This is the only one which I feel is warranted as the act of war changes our lives permanently. Many people who live in todays modern world have not experienced or witnessed the atrocities of war. Remembering is what helps us avoid further wars or at the very least reminds us to be prepared for possible controversy which will likely result in war.

The basic fundamental aim of celebration of public holidays is to unite people and to create peace in the world. I question if that is what we are achieving when we celebrate those listed above.

Mothers Day/Fathers Day

Always something I have disagreed with. These and the many other days of recognition are ridiculous in my mind.

Society pressures us to recognise, congratulate and glorify the roles which we ourselves choose to take. I am a mother because I chose to be. I do not agree that the world should celebrate that decision. I believe it is much more meaningful to receive a bunch of flowers or a thank you out of the blue, not when society tells my children that is what they should. How much actual love and thought is put into these days. How much sadness is caused to those who have lost that special person in their life, how much anger when someone is told to honour someone who is not worth honouring. How many memories, some good and some horribly bad are resurrected on these days. I know some people will argue with me on this note and thats fine too but I do not like the abundant commercialism that comes with these declared celebrations or special days.

The dictionary word celebrate means “acknowledge with a social gathering or enjoyable activity” We could do this any day or any time without prompting if we just thought about others before ourselves a little more often than we currently do. I apologise if this post is a little cynical, something that is creeping in as I get older and less tolerant.

Reflections

We would certainly feel lonely and isolated without having planned celebrations and I suppose that is the good side of these accepted traditional days. Special occasions are a reason to connect with others and to feel a part of society. It is often all we need to restore some happiness in a life that is full of sadness or lacks motivation. My preference though is for a little more spontaneity. I have to say I always find the most fun times to be those that are are unexpected. I welcome your comments.

Is anyone every ready to retire?

I wrote these words on 10th December 2014 and filed them away in my laptop. I was obviously contemplating some major moves we were making toward retirement. They are just one hour of one day in my life. For a moment I was sad when I read the words from 5 years ago. Problems and fears will always be there I think the trick is not to dwell too much. Life is constantly throwing us curve balls and most of which we navigate and continue on.

Today I sit in a cafe.The tears roll down my cheek and I brush them away. It is 2014 and I am 62yrs old. Still young enough to have many fun times and many life events. I have never been one to reflect on life whether it be the past, the present or the future. I have never been one to question where or why. I usually accept and move on but this week I have been sad. Nothing is different in my life right now, but I find myself questioning everything. I am trying to look at the positive things I have. I have a great husband, we have a successful business, we have two daughters whom we love dearly.We have our own business with fantastic staff working for us and we are selling our home and building a brand new one. We’re hoping to retire soon and hope to travel and to enjoy our years in a peaceful and serene setting. Then why am I questioning and why am I not happy?

Too many questions. I have never been afraid of being on my own, always thought I would cope with whatever life throws at me, but I have to say the simple things I wanted are slipping away and I have no control over them. I cannot stop ageing, I cannot guarantee good health. I am worried my husband will get sick. My eldest daughter is quite ill and I cannot see an end to it. I have no real knowledge of how my younger daughter is and I can only assume and hope with all my heart she is happy. I am worried if we die, what will happen to both of my daughters. Will they drift further apart, will they support each other. Of course finances are always of concern. Will our new home be what we want, will we be able to travel. Will we be able to sell our business. Will we live long enough to enjoy this new home. Will we be able to afford to do the things we have worked so hard for. Will we have enough money to fulfil our dream of travel to other countries and to explore Australia. I want to try new things and have adventures.
My visions of my ageing life were not like this. I thought we would have healthy children who would be happily married and would have their own children. I envisioned my husband and I being grandparents with lots of beautiful babies to look after. I dreamed of fun holidays, fun Xmas days filled with happiness, laughter, stupid jokes and lots of memories. There would be leisurely lunches with my husband. Dinner parties with my family and friends. Lots of great activities with my anticipated grandchildren. As the years quickly pass by I realise what I want is not always what one gets. I need to accept this and move forward.

My visions have to change. Some of these things i cannot have. This should be just another hurdle to jump. Why is it so hard this time. Am I running out of time. The tears continue until I realise I am the only one who can change what I am feeling.
I am questioning what was meant for me in this life. I am questioning what I have achieved if anything. I know my friends would say the normal moral boosting statements. You are a lovely person, you have great kids and a successful business. You have travelled and have some great friends. You have a nice home and you are about to retire. Yes I agree with those comments and I am grateful for these things, so why am I feeling useless and out of control. I don’t want to be grateful the bloody sun is shining or I am healthy or I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I want to feel like I have achieved something, I want to feel there is a reason I am here. I want to feel alive. I do not want to just exist waiting for the next hurdle and sighing when it’s done.

The writing finishes here and knowing me I would have proceeded with the day and put the thoughts aside for another time. It is interesting to read this now and know that most of my fears and sadness were momentary and were normal. It all passed and there was no ill affects and more importantly it did not kill me. I lived for another drama and more changes.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

So the question are we ever ready to retire is, No. Are we ever ready for any changes in our life, No. What I have learnt over the years is accepting change is easier than we think. The drama of change comes with our own negativity. Once we process the idea and accept the idea clarity is found and the drama becomes normality.

What will I do when I retire?

Trying out new things as we age.

When I was a child I started playing netball and softball. My sister and I also loved to make up disco style dance routines in our very early teens. I believe that from your teenage years through to early adulthood you find your way by trying different things, joining varying activities, sewing the wild oats as we used to say. I expect this is the time that short term interests of which some become long term loves that we continue to do for many years. This was certainly the case for my husband who had a passion for astronomy which has never diminished to this day. My story is a little different. I expect marrying so young took me down a path of responsibility and commitment and I recall my concentration was on my work and my learning how to be part of a relationship. I did retain the sporting bug and continued to play and coach both netball and softball in a minor way. My husband had a couple of casual jobs on top of his full time work. One of those was as a barman at the local rowing club. As he was working I would go to the club with his mum and dad and a few friends for a meal and stay after to listen to the band. A group of us would dance the night away to the latest hit parade. Ken was pretty happy about this arrangement as dancing was not his thing in any shape or form. I did eventually try my hand at some classes for swing, rock n roll and line dancing when it became popular. Another thing I tried in my late teens was making my own clothes. They were certainly not designer outfits but they were wearable and I did have relative success with different styles. It was never something that I was really excited about so the passion dwindled quickly. In my early adult years ie the 1970’s new things to do came about by word of mouth or seeing something in a magazine or on the television. There was always the logistics to consider as I did not drive and we had very little money.Many things were considered but rarely eventuated. Then our first beautiful child came along and her hobbies and interests became mine. In the back of my mind I figured my interests could wait for a few years.Another curve ball and 13yrs later a second gorgeous baby graced our life. Family life would fill the next 20 years and finally reaching retirement I felt I needed to try my hand at something new. In the depths of my thoughts I worried I would end up a very bored person sitting in front of a television for years to come. I worried I would end up like my mother, lonely and idle for hours at a time.

We have to start somewhere.

My first venture was to foster my interest in being part of a team. My idea was that I would be active and I would meet new friends.  Of course at our age the body has some say in what activities we can do. My old interests of netball was quickly squashed and along with that some of my confidence. Tennis was an option but my small amount of experience in that area relegated it to the bottom of the pile. A sport I had watched on the Olympics many years earlier presented itself once again. Lawn Bowls became the focus. This would allow me to meet up with local people, to be part of a team and to be active. As it ticked all the boxes the challenge was how and where to start We had two bowls clubs very close to us. My fear around this whole venture was that I would become involved and spend the money on the appropriate gear and clothing and then discover I hated it or I did not feel the friendships were compatible. The Blue Mountains is vast but the villages or towns are small. It is hard to avoid people at the local shops so I was hesitant. We frequently had dinner at  the closest club and I learnt they only had a social  bowls team and I thought at the time I would prefer the challenge of competition if and when I learnt the skill.  I tried the second closest venue but the group of women involved did not immediately appeal to me. I ventured out a few suburbs and settled on a club around 20 minutes down the mountain. Now to the next step, contact and training. I had at this stage no idea whether I could do this or whether I would enjoy it or the even like the people involved. I had to force myself to contact them. There was always a thought in my head of my mother in the few years before she died. She had moved to a new area and was alone. She suffered from ill health and loneliness. She had always appeared to be a social person so I continually encouraged her to join a group or activity so she would have friends to call on if need be. She expressed how hard that was and I did dismiss this a little too quickly only realising now how wrong I was to do that. It is hard to just simply join something you have no confidence in. It does not come naturally to speak to strangers and it is certainly quite hard to learn new skills when you are in your sixties. After some procrastination I made the call. They booked me in for some training and the adventure started. I was told to come down on a certain day and they would introduce me to the group and allocate a trainer. I needed no gear or clothing at that stage, just a pair of joggers and comfortable clothing. I ventured down the first morning, nervous that I would be hopeless. I should not have feared as the women were lovely and the coach was tough but very friendly and very good at what she did. I practised and eventually joined into a game. It really is a great sport and covers a large age group. Some of the women were younger and others were 10 – 20 years older than I but they were fit and happy and social. One woman I learned to respect was 92 years old, she played bowls twice a week, golf 3 times a week, lived alone, and still drove herself everywhere. I aspired to be like her at 70 let alone 90. I remember a couple of years later this same lady sold her home and moved to be nearer to her sister. She had been in her home most of  her adult  life. She made this massive change on her own. She used her much loved Ipad, put her house on the market, sold it and then  bought another home in a completely new area. She organised the moving process. She then drove herself to her new destination in another state. A huge thing to do for anyone let alone someone in their 90’s. I admire her tenacity.  I have since left the club so I have no idea how she managed but I have every hope she settled into the new environment and I am sure she is still inspiring many others. I continued on with the bowls and was getting better at it when a knee operation eventuated. I have not gone back at this stage but I it is creeping back into my mind. It will happen and in the meantime new things have happened. More things I have tried in another blog for another day.

Reflection

We waste a good chunk of our lives pleasing others and  conforming to society. We put our own needs on hold for way too long. I am not naïve enough to deny that finance is often a barrier to what we want to do.  We have to work and this takes a huge amount of our time. We often have no choice in the type of job we have and often it controls our freedom. If I have learnt anything in my lifetime it is important to try to do something you like even if it is only for one hour a week. We must have fulfilment to enjoy life in general.  There is no rule to say we cannot have fun. There is no shame in trying and failing. You will never know if it is what you want if you are not brave enough to give it a go. It is not always easy but once done your sense of achievement is rewarded. We all cannot  be good at everything but how will we know what we are good at if do not take the chance to step outside our comfort zone. 

Comments welcome

What have you tried and how did it make you feel?

Other than your family who or what has had an influence on your lifestyle or life choices?

I think for me it has been employment and the people who you spend a great deal of your life with on a daily basis. I do not recall any one person having a profound effect on me, but I do recall learning from many.

Work

Work commitment was discovered by me when I was first thrust into the workforce at aged 14. My first job was in a supermarket and it was really survival of the fittest. If you wanted to keep your job, you did whatever was asked of you. I had no formal training, no degrees, no experience. I had no time to think of what I wanted  or desired. At that time,  it was  Mum, my sister and I in a flat trying to pay the rent and eat. To keep my job, I learned everything I could to be able to excel and to become what I thought was necessary and that was to be indispensable. Later in life I would discover one is never indispensable as there is always someone available to step into your shoes very quickly. It  did serve me well in the beginning and a strong work ethic is still with me today.

Feminism

I think another major occurrence which influenced how I developed was definitely the 60’s liberation of women. Being 16 and married in 1968 was both remarkable and difficult.There were negative people in my life with doom and gloom predictions for my future. These comments tended to instil a rebellious attitude and a need to prove them all wrong. I believed  I had no choice but to think independently and to stand up for myself. I had the backing of a strong independent thinking male in my husband, so it was not hard for me to voice my opinion. I worked in an office situation in the early 70’s and the inequality of pay and workload was extreme.  Men were in positions of power, influence and control. Women had to be quite blunt to be accepted and unfortunately, we had to become like the men we often worked with if we wished to gain respect within our jobs. Therefore, I had to be arrogant, entitled, and forceful. Attributes I don’t necessary like but back then it was the only way I could find to show confidence in my ability. There were many men who accepted my independence and even encouraged it however there were twice as many who did not and who wielded their power relentlessly. I do personally believe during that time a lot of women lost some of their femininity and became emotionally vulnerable during this time and hence lost a little of themselves. It became all about the power instead of the real issues of equality. As women we could not show our anxieties or our insecurities. These would be considered as a weakness in the employment world. Sadly, this is still the case for many women in the workplace today and yet men in the modern world are encouraged to  show and discuss  their vulnerabilities openly.

Friends 

When I say friends, I am talking about those people with whom we have built strong relationships. There is a handful of which I count in this group these days. There of course are those that we thought were friends who are now not in our lives. What they have all taught me and how they have influenced me is wide and varied. Compassion, thoughtfulness, empathy, and the importance of conversation. They have taught me that it is ok to have different opinions, it is ok to have individual tastes in all things. It is not ok to judge too harshly especially without the facts.  It is important to work at life, by that I mean we get caught up in our own needs and forget that others have needs also. It Is wise to look to others for support. It is very  wise to listen as we all have so much to learn. I have learned to value friendships as many people pass through life with you, but true friends stay with you and support you no matter how your life changes.  As we age, we realise just how important they are. Friends differ to family as they are who you choose to be around. You have no say in who is your family, but  your friends are those people you want to be in your life. What I think about friendships in the environment in the modern world is that we need to work  little harder at maintaining our friendships. People have everything at their fingertips today. They travel more, they try new hobbies, they get preoccupied with work and life in general. It is easy to get so wrapped up in your own life that it is easier to forget the value of others.  When you become a senior your needs change considerably and you realise the absolute importance of friends.

In my case two of my dearest friends passed away over the last 12 months and I can honestly say I cannot explain it but felt both were more painful to me than the loss of family members.

How have particular family influenced your life/thoughts/actions?

The term influencer is thrown around a lot these days. It would appear the title of Influencer is given to one who has built a loyal following through their online content creation. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok are huge avenues in which one can market oneself. The internet has opened up the world and things are approached in a different way. As a member of the senior age group I thought I would answer some familiar questions asked when trying to evaluate ones life. Some questions are more intense than others so I will give each question its own blog.

Mother

When I think of my mother, my immediate feeling is not what I wanted it to me. I do not recall loving tender moments with her. Our life, which was her life, was full of sickness, unhappiness and survival. Nothing bad happened to me personally and I have no thoughts of blame for my mother. Her circumstances were pretty tough. She married young, had two children, she did not cope well with life in general. She divorced and married again. Second husband was an alcoholic and she had a third child to him who was very sick for many years.  Our lives were ordinary, financially a struggle, however we never went hungry and I do not recall any physical violence or abuse. It is funny but even though I did not  have loving thoughts of my mother on her death I do recall a huge and painful  loss. What I do recall is that she struggled through in difficult situations and she always  meant to do right by her children. I feel now as an older person that I have a better understanding of the depth of pain and suffering  people endure. Unbeknown to ourselves those close to us suffer in silence and others judge without knowledge. I understand the shallowness of our thinking  regarding things we know nothing about. I understand that we do not understand ourselves very well and to judge others on what you think you know is wrong. When I look at what I gained from her, I find she instilled in me  strength in the face of adversity, patience and determination. 

Father

The father whose genes I have is not well known to me. I was introduced to him in my late teens. He was a complicated, confused man who struggled until his death to understand himself let alone others. I do not believe I gained any attributes from him as he was not part of my day to day life.  He did however have a love of music and of the guitar.

Stepfather

This is the person I think of as my father. I do not have strong feelings here either. He served me well as a father figure in the fact that there was food on the table and he tried to do the right thing by us. He was an alcoholic whose priorities were survival. Hold onto the job and keep going seemed to be his motto. I do not remember any great achievements, any special moments. Definitely nothing to which I aspired. I do remember he also loved music as did my biological father. Maybe this is what I gained from both father figures. I do love the freedom music brings and have always loved to dance.

Sister 

I have loving thoughts of my sister but we are not close as our lives were chaotic throughout our childhood times. Our parents’ sadness influenced our happiness. My sister rebelled where I just plodded along without questioning. We spent our early teens together to some extent and I have some fond memories of this. My life changed dramatically at aged 16 when I met my current husband. My sister and I then continued down roads where we would not have the opportunity to develop strong life long bonds. Without having strong role models in our parents it was easy to be influenced by the people we met from then on. My sister survived some extreme challenges in her everyday living and as I moved along with my life I was quick to criticise her behaviour. I am older now and have experienced my own challenges. I now  know that I judged easily but I did not walk in her shoes. I guess she influenced the way I think now which I hope is to be a little less judgemental.

Brother

I have loving and sad thoughts about my younger brother. He was sick as a child and I spent many hours with him which makes me very sad that I am not a strong part of his life now. Again family chaos, divorces, separations destroyed what could have been. He moved away from him when he was only 7yrs old. We met again much later in our lives. I have feelings for him and we casually stay in touch, the bond we should have is not there. He fought to stay alive in his early years and I think watching him go through that helped me to build resilience and compassion.

Husband

This man is the strongest, most stable, most influential person in my life and yet he has a vulnerability about him that only few would see. He has taught me values, commitment, love, laughter, loyalty and humility. Having been together from such a young age there was a strong need on my part for acceptance and stability. Both he and his family gave me that without question and under difficult circumstances. Together with the strength I had gained from my childhood and the protection and space he gave me to be able to grow and learn I was able to continue my life with a more positive attitude. He is also the most honest person I know who will not break the rules or the laws. I would like to think I was always an honest person but he has certainly cemented that trait in me.

Eldest Daughter  

She has taught me that nothing is as it seems. She has taught me that we can physically and mentally endure much more than we think. She has taught me that the mind is a powerful, scary and a  potent part of our lives. I have discovered that the love of a child is different to the love of a husband. They are equally as strong and as vulnerable as the other but they present as a slightly different form. The influence she has had on me is to open my eyes to others more and to value my health more.

Youngest Daughter

She has taught me to question things. She has taught me that it is important to understand and learn about what you stand for. To stay strong in your beliefs and to think outside the box. She has proved that having commitment and conviction results in brilliance. She has taught me that love is not always on show to the outside world but that does not mean it is not there.Together with her husband they have taught me to chill, to be a quiet achiever, and to see there is strength in silence. She is teaching me constantly.

Reflection

Wow, it is quite empowering to write this. To actually think about these influences in your life. I think it helps to make you realise a little more about yourself. It helps you realise how you have become the person you are today.