I lost my mojo. Then I found it on a plane.

Be yourself, be kind to others and your soul will rejoice

– me

I am on an Aberdeen-Birmingham flight. The plane is small and full. As I sit down on my aisle seat, I do my best to tuck in my limbs so as not to irritate the window-seat passenger. My mindset on flights is that unless the passenger next to me looks particularly friendly and/or initiates a conversation, I’m willing to sit there in silence for the duration of the flight. A little brutal maybe, but it’s the safest option.

reading passenger

I am halfway into a paragraph in my book when I hear the voice of a young lady in the seat across from me. She is talking to the passenger next to her. She laughs a lot. I do not hear the other passenger (a man) speak for the first 15 minutes of the conversation. She talks and talks. I learn that she is 23 and got married about 18 months ago. I learn that her husband is a doctor and a similar age to her. I also gather some information about her 2 siblings – one a brunette and the other blonde (she is a red-head).

Believe me, I try not to listen but I think the whole plane is listening. She isn’t perturbed by the quietness of the passenger she is chatting with. He nods and smiles from time to time. About 30 minutes into the flight, his voice becomes more audible. He laughs. I hear that he has a girlfriend and has been to Aberdeen only a handful of times.

The two talk for the 1-hour flight, with the young lady leading the conversation, asking questions and probing for detailed responses.

I have to be honest. I am half irritated by her. I have a book in my hand and I can’t get through more than a couple of pages due to the distracting conversation. We passengers glare at her periodically, hoping she just ends the conversation. We already know too much.

missing plane

The other half of me greatly admires her. She is bold and confident. At 23, I think she displays tenacity that is uncommon in many young women. I think about my safe option to keep to myself on planes (and in other public places, especially places that ‘move’ e.g. trains).

Then I realise something:

The young lady…that used to be me

I have let the fear of rejection change how I behave in certain situations. Being an extrovert by nature, I have a lot to say, a lot going on in my head that I want to share. But more and more, I don’t. I think it’s not important. Or the slight frown coming across my listener’s forehead becomes my cue to be quiet and withdraw.

As we disembark from the plane, the man thanks the young lady for great company as it helped the time pass quickly. I can’t help smiling. I want to thank her too.

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I’m glad to witness that young lady on the plane. I am on my way to attend a workshop (I wrote about the workshop here). The workshop is an awesome experience in part because of the young lady on the plane. I walk into the venue deciding to be yourself and not to shrink when people don’t take me on as I hope. I smile and talk to complete strangers with no malice even when they appear not to welcome my intrusion. It is liberating and I have fun. My spirit is light. My soul, gratified. I am not holding back.

My extroverted nature has been partially suppressed for years. In fact, I think there are times I lose it. Somehow, I’m finding it and I want to keep it even when I’m gray. I just need to have more faith in who I am. And gentle (and not so gentle) reminders are welcome. Thank you, Red-Headed Young Lady :-).

Images from flickr users: Dreemreeper – reading passenger on plane; Eole Wind – Missing plane; Paula Bailey – Paula Bailey

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Yellow as a viable favourite colour

A yellow dress normally catches my eye in a shop. Then I notice there’s load of yellow dresses on the rack and only a UK 6 (US 2) and perhaps a UK 20 (US 16) left of the blue or black version of the same dress. My reaction to this worries me. And it might worry you…. My reaction is to stand confused for a few seconds, maybe even minutes – my mind in deep deliberation. I ask myself if yellow is really the “right” colour. Obviously other shoppers have turned down yellow in favour of black or blue.

I spend some minutes looking at the blue one. I don’t really do black but blue? I could probably stand it. After all up till my mid 20s, I pretended that blue was my favourite colour when folks asked me. I could never say yellow. I vaguely remember “confessing” when I was roughly 19 and the hearer had the strangest facial expression. I think they proceeded to say something in between chuckles like, “that’s unusual” or “go figure”. The truth is I don’t really recall. It was probably traumatising letting it slip because I vaguely remember needing to sit down with a glass of water. I never spoke of it again.

At a certain age, I think your soul just goes rogue and begins to expose you. For me at least, I have bought a significant amount of yellow things over the last 10 or so years and it’s pretty much public knowledge that I would so drive a yellow car if I found a dealer non-conformist enough to sell one.

My friend, Paula, even said to me at church the other day that she didn’t recognise me because I wasn’t wearing yellow. I’ve finally managed to brand myself yellow. Yippee!! Not excessively yellow though. I don’t want you to worry. You’d be delighted to know I’ve found a balance. Sometimes, I wear grey, blue and most recently black. It’s mostly experimental – testing myself on prejudice to other non-me colours. I’m doing well.

There’s masses of pressure that society puts on us to be like everyone else. I still feel it but I guess there’s a courage to draw from. Just the other day I was on my way to Newcastle and wanted to buy a non fiction book at the airport. Unwittingly, I looked at the non fiction book chart but couldn’t really engage with nos. 1 to 5. I ended up buying one that wasn’t even on the charts. What mattered was I engaged with the book and looked forward to the read.

Who votes on this non fiction charts anyway? Certainly not me.

What you think of me

My 5-year old daughter LOVES music. She’s got a great sense of rhythm that even her teachers have picked up on. Each time we are in the car together and I’ve got music playing, she sings along – particularly if it’s a female artist. She also makes special requests like, “Mummy, could you play that song with the girl that wants to wreck a ball??” Then I skip to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’. As she listens to the song, she will often ask, “Mummy, is the girl in the song happy or sad?” Most of the time, I say the girl is sad. I see in my mirror that my daughter becomes sad too. Suddenly, a somewhat meaningless song becomes a sadness-inducer. Today – a day after my birthday- I couldn’t help thinking about how I often let other people’s feelings or disposition smear on me.

Self-conscious

I admit that for most of my life, I’ve been virtually obsessed with what people think of me. At first, it was a guide as I picked up social norms in the different cultures I was raised in. People’s reactions to me helped me know if I was doing the right thing. If people seemed anxious, I would become anxious too. If they appeared pleased, then I was pleased. For years, I learned how to behave by observing people’s reactions to me. I suppose it’s a skill that everyone picks up from early years but it often made me miserable. Ultimately, people are inconsistent and unreliable. They approve of you today but they are not sure of you tomorrow.

Self-aware

I recently started reading a book on authentic leadership (True North by Bill George). As I read the first few pages, I realised that I’d carried a bad habit into my adulthood. I thought I was being self aware by considering others’ reactions to me but I was really being self-conscious. Self-awareness is considering my own reactions to situations – identifying my triggers and managing them. I can’t control how people feel or what they think of me but I can control how I react to it. I’ve found this realisation liberating. I can be myself far more freely without the extra pressure of guessing, considering and trying to change what people think.

I’m now really loving my mid 30s as it’s so much better than my mid 20s. I suppose with age, who you really are cannot stay hidden.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

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Photo Credit: Yekemi Otaru
Model: Tonitse Otaru aged 8 as “Break dancing skeleton”

HALLOWEEN: The Fashion Connection

Somehow, I don’t get Halloween. It’s a whole cultural movement that I totally missed while growing up. I don’t enjoy horror movies and I don’t like being scared shitless. But I like fashion and dressing up. So Halloween makes me think about fashion. I think “make-up”, “colours”, “outfits” etc.

We need to sort out her foundation but I love love the lower lashes!

We need to sort out her foundation but I love love the lower lashes!

Photo from American Live Wire

In fact, I’ve been thinking about starting a fashion blog. I think I’d really enjoy it. To see what good fashion blogs are out there and what they offer, I went to the Top 20 blogs as nominated by LOOK magazine. These are few of my favourites:

Fash n Chips

Modern Mum Must-Have

Brit Pop Princess

 

Let me know what you think about these blogs in the comments and if you have any tips, idea, dos amd don’ts for me, please let me have it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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