The Fashion Police – or why it’s a good thing not to have one. (Pass me that onesie.)

So, I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘follower of fashion’ (whatever that means) – generally I find that ‘bright’ and ‘quirky’ are tags I get most about my wardrobe – much more high-tops than high heels and rarely out without a flower in my hair.

But I do like tattoos and I’ve had my face pierced twice (not including my ears!)  So when I saw that the Horniman Museum in Dulwich, South East London, had a temporary exhibition called The Body Adorned (part of London fashion week) I thought I’d pop along…

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I really enjoyed the exhibition and came out thinking much more about how and why we chose to wear what we wear.

Looking at London, the exhibit looks at modern street styles to show how the city’s population uses fashion to establish their place in society. (Who knew fashion was so psychological) It was a multi media exhibition using film, photography and clothes as exhibits and was curated by young people to show how fashion reflects personality.

It also showed how historically- the exploration of the globe and the movement of people, objects and ideas have all helped to shape fashion, for example tattooists, nail bars and piercing shops are all a visible, everyday part our cityscape but originated overseas.

Now logically, I know that tattooing has come from pacific islands and other cultures – in fact, one of my tattoos was done using bamboo in Thailand (to fulfill the cliché I was also quite intoxicated, sssh don’t tell my mother) but seeing centuries old tattooing equipment brought home to me how much our culture is made up of borrowed ideas which we incorporate into our own.

The exhibition also featured a film installation by The Light Surgeons looking at the judgments people make on clothing and appearance, and a photography exhibit which had asked ‘is there a London look?’ Each photo was so different that it made me appreciate the diversity of the population. There is no single ‘London look’ and that is the brilliance of living here.

 I feel so fortunate that I am not confined to dress myself according to my sex, cultural or religious customs.  I love my tattoo’s – which I also feel are an expression of myself.  And despite my Mum crying every time – I have total freedom to look exactly how I want to look. I could walk down the street in a crocodile onesie or shave my head and rock a ballet tutu if I wanted. 

I am not making a huge political statement about other cultures and dress, only that grateful that I’m not made to conform to anything… now where did I put that onesie?

Ladies and gentlemen – be thankful for your freedom of expression.

More soon.

Peace

xxx

 

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Anger, impatience… Its just like giving up chocolate.

So its been one week since I set upon ‘being in the moment’ – has it been successful? Well let me tell you that it’s hard to stay positive when on the first day of this new mindset you get your brand new (fake) RayBan aviators stolen from under your nose in the post office!  Testing as that was, I tried to stay positive (I feel better about it knowing the thief is swanning around thinking that they’re real when they cost me 6 euros from a nice Greek corner shop ha.)

I made a conscious effort to take in the ‘moment’ as I soaked up the glorious sunshine over the weekend and had a brilliant spontaneous road trip to the seaside with my girls. Are there more wonderful pleasures than picnicking and paddling in the sea? (It’ll be interesting for me to see if I can keep hold of this attitude in the British winter as I hate the cold and dark.. hmm. We shall see.) Currently though, positive attitude – check. Living in the moment – check.

To make the most of the last few days of free time before aforementioned new job starts – I decided that I should enlist some professional help my new personal development, so I embarked on a free meditation course (from this brilliant place in Covent Garden called ‘Inner Space – meditation and development centre’ where all their courses are free, for more info press here) Over 4 hours over 2 weeks I’m learning how to free my mind and create space from my self.. yes it may sounds hippie but many of the concepts are linked to medical psychology. And there are shed loads of scientific reports which prove that mediation can improve your mental health, well- being, ease stress and even booast your immune system (Who likes a cold?! I’m in)

I’m finding it a challenge to find my inner peace (During one meditation session I found I was thinking about what I was going to write about meditating doh!) However, I think I’m beginning to learn how to stop my brain from prattling on.

The concept which has struck me the most though, is that even as adults our character is not set in stone.. we may think that our personal traits are concrete but they’re not. We can change. Each day our meditation ‘homework’ was to choose one of our negative characteristics and replace it with a positive one. Over time the negative will be permanently replaced by the new one… or at least the negative will be less dominant. As my teacher put it in one catchy phrase ‘wherever your energy goes.. its grows.’

So here’s what my Monday mantra is for the next week –

‘We are not defined.’

I guess its no different from creating a new habit really. If I wanted to stop eating chocolate I’d find it challenging but not impossible, I’m going to try and put the same attitute into tweeking my persoanlity.. how hard can it be right?!?!

These are the characteristics I focused on last week after my course on Thursday and what I tried to replace them with.

Friday  – Irritatbility -> Calm

Saturday – Over sensitivity -> Strength

Sunday – Imperfections -> Uniqueness 

Monday – Anxiousness -> Peace

I’m not saying that I’ve succeeded in changing myself into these things (I am no saint – just ask the boyfriend) I often want to punch the idiot driver who drive 50 mph in the fast lane or the jerk who honks his horn the nanosecond the red changes to green before I’ve had time to change gear.. ggr.

Am I mad to start this? There’s a part of me which feel like I may be opening pandora’s box – once bad stuff starts coming out how do I close the damn box!? What do you reckon?

I’m not into the idea of therapy (unless you’ve had some sort of traumatic childhood obviously. My biggest trauma as a child being told I had to play the clarinet before the saxaphone  – I lasted a year and gave up, and I still haven’t taken up the saxaphone. Still bitter – but as you can see not mentally scarred.) That said,  I don’t think that there’s an issue with a little self- awareness, so here goes. And who wouldn’t want to be able to cope better in a stressful situation? Next time White Van Man honks at me I shall be a vision of calm I’m sure. (?!?)

I’m about to head down the M3 so bring on the serentity.. and pass the Dairy Milk (Who am I kidding, I couldn’t give up chocolate.)

Have a good week beautiful people.

More soon.

Peace.

Pinkbananashoes.

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Think yourself happy and eat a sandwich.

So after an irritating conversation morning including the words ‘money’ and ‘priorities’ it was unsurprising that the fuzzy warm glow of happiness which I have so carefully been cultivating felt more like a damp stormy drizzle…  but in this new pursuit of happiness I put down the plate I was thinking of throwing across the kitchen, made myself a camomile tea (ok so it was a coffee but the image isn’t half as romantic) and decided to try and find out if anyone had devised some ‘mind exercises’ to make you happier.  (Yes apparently I’m prioritising the mind over the body re: exercising, sorry trainers.)

Turns out, it’s a mind field (excuse the pun..please keep reading.) A quick google of ‘brain exercises for happiness’ reveals pages of results, the first being an interesting scientific article which, in short, tells us that we can train our brains to be happier! I particularly like this quote from neu­ro­sci­en­tist San­ti­ago Ramon y Cajal “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor his own brain.”  So the initial findings re: changing my soggy mental state look good – just got to start focusing on the positives or ‘emotional self-regulation.’ OK …mental note: ‘Brain – I am the boss of you ok.’ Brain put in place. Check.

Turns out scientists are trying to put together a ‘happiness formula’ – using a hugely scientific method they are.. wait for it… asking people how happy they are to gather data “It may sound silly but we ask people ‘How happy are you 1-7, 1-10?” Revolutionary. Anyway, their results are genuinely interesting – happy people live longer.  In one group the difference in life span between the happiest and the most depressed was 9 years (!!!)  According to the article, being depressed is worse than smoking, given that cigarettes can take off 3 – 6 years.  Reader – if you are a depressed smoker you’re down a possible 15 years!

However, good news if you’re married because according to this research it can add 7 years onto a man’s life and 4 years to a woman’s. (Ladies what does this say about us?) So things are looking up married – depressed – smoking men out there – you’re back to being just 8 years down which is actually pretty good if you look at it?!

So, happiness makes you live longer. That’s one more reason for keeping up this escapade.

Back to brain exercises and a visit to the leading blog on happiness ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchin Rubin, who has dedicated her life to writing about the topic. She suggested that I take the Authentic Happiness Inventory devised by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania which measures my overall happiness (?!) In an inane 24 questions my score came out at 3.42 – 5.00. I leant nothing apart from this score is 67% ‘as high or higher than all web users’ and 75% of users within my post code. Brilliant. (?!) I do wonder what kind of person rated themselves against the following statements (and surely they must be one of the most irritating people on the planet?!) :

2. I am usually in an unbelievably great mood.

7. Most of the time I feel fascinated by what I am doing.

12. My existence has a lasting, large, and positive impact on the world.

23. I like my daily routine so much that I almost never take breaks from it.  (Seriously!)

Distracting myself from the anger I felt at the total waste of energy I had just put into that questionnaire I popped back to Gretchin Rubin who lays out ’12 mental exercises – zany but productive.’  Now, like any normal person, I think anybody who uses the word zany in a serious context should be publically outcast – but this women has some credentials (and a book publishing deal) so I give her the benefit of the doubt and continue reading… She suggests that the key to the door of happiness lies in the ability of the individual to experience ‘novelty and challenge’ (i.e. if you’re stuck in a rut you ain’t likely to be that happy) and then goes on to list Dorothea Brande’s 12 exercises to keep your brain ‘keener and more flexible’ (sure,  i’m game) which were written in 1932. She argues that by facing difficult challenges you will overcome them and essentially become happier. This I can understand, there are certain things in life which were initially scary but once completed gave me a sense of satisfaction (with exception of a certain trapeze swing over a river in S.E Asia which I still have mental scars from…) However, I think that Dorothea needs a new list – because I’m really not sure how No. 8. ‘Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests without complaining, boasting, or boring your companions,’ is going to do anything except make me look like a narcissistic moron.  I do fancy having a go at No. 7 though, ‘Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself or herself without allowing him to become conscious of it. Turn back any courteous reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor doesn’t feel rebuffed.’  Hilarious as this would be, it feels more game show than path to enlightenment.

In all seriousness, Dorothea does provide some excellent advice –  I won’t hear a bad word said about  No. 11 – set yourself random tasks, for example eating a meal in the unlikeliest place you can find.

Now if you excuse me I’m off to eat my sandwich in the public toilets and the good news is, all this talk of food has completely made me forget about said conversation this morning and the clouds appear to have lifted.

More soon.

Peace.

Pinkbananashoes

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If you want to find out your happiness level click here

Scientific research on happiness click here and here

To read the full list of Dorothea Brande’s exercises click here to go to The Happiness Project