Action conquers fear. This is something I know to be true but in order to act first you need to ‘decide’ and that’s the part I struggle with. I find myself torn between my head and my heart and never know which one to listen to.
I have a friend who seems to be the perfect balance between head and heart and I recently turned to him for advice. I was expecting him to tell me, on this occasion, to follow my head. What he actually advised was to follow my heart. Always.
He said that the head is designed to keep us safe; it protects us, and stops us making insane decisions. He gave an example of a ‘pro’s and con’s list’ and suggested that if I looked back on pro’s and con’s lists that I had made, generally, they would be roughly the same with maybe a few more leaning in one direction. This is an example of using our heads to make a ‘sensible’ decision- our heads are designed to keep us safe and stop us to make life-changing decisions that could cause upset. The head likes things just the way they are and doesn’t want to be unsettled and this is obviously very important – this is the ‘survival instinct’ at it’s most basic. The conflict arises when your head and heart are at loggerheads.
My friend made the point that dreams and desires come from the heart. When you visualise or imagine something you desire, you have tricked your head into thinking it’s happened and your heart has convinced you it can happen. When the heart has made a decision, following your head is a struggle as you know it’s a betrayal of what you actually want. Where as, if you follow your heart every part of your being will work to make sure it turns out to be the right decision. That’s where passion and drive come from.
There are times when we have to make decisions for the greater good and put others first but when it comes to a decision about your life it turns out the rational answer is not to follow your head, but your heart.
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and thats what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘if this isn’t nice I don’t know what is’"- Kurt Vonnegut
I think one of the saddest things in life is complacency - a slow numbness that has the power to make the romantic, mundane and to make the extraordinary, everyday. It’s a feeling that can leave you neither here nor there, neither longing nor regretful. It can make the happy, blasé and it somehow sucks the joy out of life’s experiences.
It doesn’t happen overnight it’s a sad, slow disregard and failure to appreciate the details. I think the more wonderful life is, the easier it is to become complacent - to forget how incredible it is for your legs to work when you get out of bed in the morning, how lucky you are to send your child off to school where they will be safe and receive a good education, to know that you will be able to feed yourself this week - and those are just the basics. What about those of us who can afford to eat out once or twice a month, those that can buy new clothes because they want, not because they need and those who found and chose their own true love. All these things to appreciate and more, if you think about it - but, I don’t know that we do, because we should all be a lot happier. Not in an, ‘all day crazy ecstatic cant stop grinning’ sort of way - just in a subtle ‘smile at a stranger’ sort of way, because sometimes I see so much richness, in terms of our quality of life, and it doesn’t match the level of happiness I see in return. It’s such a shame, because it often takes something awful for us to realise how lucky we are.
Even if you’re having a bad day when you think of all the reasons you have to be happy - I can think of at least 5 for you right now - are you as happy as you should be? There are so many things to happy about, so be happy. Life is short, smiling is cool and you, in all sorts of ways, are very, very lucky.
I’ve always been very definite in my relationships - both romantic and friendships. They are either on or off. I don’t linger in between and, once it’s over - its over - theres no ‘for old times sake’ or keeping in contact because of guilt. If a friendship or relationship breaks down I’ve found it better to call it quits, end on the best terms possible and save everyone’s time.
A physical relationship stands apart for me because once you’ve taken it to that level it can’t be undone and, if you were only ever going to be friends you would have stayed as so. As such, when a physical relationship breaks down I don’t pursue it as a friendship - it was always something different. I feel strongly about my partner not staying in touch with ex’s and so, I respected that in return and am not in contact with any of my ex’s. More to the point - I don’t feel the need to be and vice versa. I know from experience some women will quite happily ask their partner to cut all ties with ex’s only to continue to try and maintain contact with him when they break up. There are so many ways for people to stay in contact nowadays that I’m sure ease is part of it but I’ve never understood it. Unless you do still hold a fondness for an ex it’s unlikely you’ll feel the need to stay in contact (unless you have a child) and if you do still feel a fondness for an ex and they are now in a new relationship the kind thing to do is to not stay in touch.
I know my opinion on this is pretty one sided so I asked a wide group of women of all ages and different relationship status’ their opinions and they were mixed - one person hangs out with her ex and considers him a close friend (a la ‘Ross and Rachel’), another friend knows someone who’s ex was best man at her wedding to her new husband. A couple of ladies told me they tell their partners they feel comfortable with them being in contact with ex’s but secretly feel uncomfortable. Most of the women I spoke to said they don’t stay in touch with their ex’s and would feel uncomfortable if their partner did- saying they would feel anxious about both parties reason’s for staying in contact with each other.
Women I know that stay in touch with ex’s say it’s because they still care about them - most admitted that those feelings were sexual. Which backs up my understanding of ex’s staying in contact and so, if you still have feelings for someone you were in a sexual relationship with and you are in a new relationship I don’t believe any good comes from maintaining contact. Also relationships and friendships are based on bonding and part of that is reminiscing and ladies who maintain regular contact with ex’s told me that a fair amount of that goes on. I have a friend who’s husband’s, ex recently wrote on his Facebook wall ‘This reminded me of you’ with a link to a memory they shared together. I wondered how she would have felt if the situation had been reversed.
I think women have become more supportive of each other in the work place, more supportive of each other’s beauty and achievements but I still think we fall short when men are brought into the equation. I think ex girlfriends and new girlfriends can be really mean to each other. I have been in a situation where a partner’s previously jealous girlfriend suggested that we all meet up. Now, on the one hand that’s a nice gesture on her part but on the other I think it’s unfair to try and hold the upper ground when she knows from experience how uncomfortable she would have found that situation. It’s almost as if ex girlfriends go into competition to prove what a ‘laid back girl’ they are and ‘Isn’t it such a shame your new girlfriend has such a problem with me’. Amnesia must be part of the breaking up process.
I am very clear from the outset about what makes me feel secure and loved in a relationship and I personally couldn’t be in a relationship with someone who was insistent in maintaining contact with his ex’s. I have even told my husband that - heaven forbid - our relationship broke down that we wouldn’t maintain a friendship because when it’s time to move on, it’s only fair on new partners that both parties do so.
Some people can maintain a certain level of contact with their ex’s and it genuinely does not cause any insecurity or upset to their partner and that must be wonderful but I do feel in such a delicate situation we could be more empathetic about how we treat each other. If you know that when you’re in a relationship you prefer your partner not to contact ex’s and your ex has moved on, then the only way to be the bigger person is to let them. Karma will repay you ten fold.
To say I am bad at reacting to accidents would be an understatement. I’m a ‘freezer’ - it’s as if all normal functioning parts of my brain stop working. I’m squeamish about blood and with no first aid skills I feel I won’t be any use at all. I think when it comes to accidents people mostly split into two camps - those that rush to the scene and swiftly deal with what ever is in front of them and those that stand around helplessly unsure of what to do.
A couple of years ago we were driving down a country road and noticed a woman stood in the road on her mobile phone. She gestured to her right - there was a car over turned in the field, it’s wheels were still spinning. My husband stopped our car and got out. There was a baby screaming inside the over turned vehicle and someone was in the drivers seat. He ran to the car and a white van man pulled up quickly behind us and ran to the over turned car too. To my shame, I froze - I didn’t go to the car. I was scared about what I might see and also didn’t know what use I would be if I went. It was a mother and baby inside and they both got out safely. The car seat saved the babies life.
I’ve always felt badly about that. You like to think that when you’re put in testing situations you’ll react with guts and dignity but I’m sure for some people, as it did for me, your mind over rides that.
Last week I was enjoying a sunny stroll by the Thames with my husband and two friends when we suddenly heard a child screaming. Her father had slipped down a flight of steps leading to the river and was lying at the bottom not moving and bleeding. I think, although I can’t be sure, that he had been carrying his daughter at the time. His wife was sat at the bottom of the steps comforting him and a man was stood at the top of the stairs on his mobile phone, we presumed, calling an ambulance.We waited for a couple of minutes and although a lot of people were, by this point, stood on the bridge watching, no one else was going to the accident - certainly no one was tending to the injured man.
I made a decision that this time I would not walk away. My friend had taken first aid three years ago and so she was able to go down the steps and help and my husband offered his shirt as a compress. There was a young lady talking to the daughter and keeping her calm and the man on his phone was, as we thought, calling an ambulance. It was at this point I realised there was a pram with a baby inside. The young lady had to go to work so I stayed and talked to the daughter whilst we waited for the ambulance to arrive and the baby was hungry so I gave her, her bottle. By this time a nurse from one of the neighbouring flats had come and was helping too - whilst my husband and his friend kept an ear out for the ambulance and explained to passing police what had happened. The man on the phone to the ambulance went to the end of the road to wait for them and guided them in. As it was a busy summers day for the medics it took the ambulance 25 minutes to get to us - which felt like an eternity. Luckily the man was fine he escaped with a really nasty head wound but it taught me that, although I should take a first aid course, there is always a way you can be of use even in the smallest way.
I think we often think that it’s the big, valiant gestures that are the most important but sometimes a comforting word or just keeping a situation calm can be helpful. I hope there’s not a ‘next time’ but in future I’ll always try and think about what I can do, not what I can’t do. And take a first aid course.
WOOLWICH: I have been so frustrated and saddened by a lot of the posts, pictures and petitions that my Facebook friends are sharing. I was horrified by what happened in Woolwich and had extremely conflicted emotions that I was unsure how to express. I came across what I consider to be the most balanced article I have read on the matter and if you are one of those people contributing to the social media buzz about the incidents in Woolwich I would urge you to read it. It is unforgivable that this young man lost his life in the way he did but try and answer the question that Glenn Greenwald asks
"Can it really be the case that when Western nations continuously kill Muslim CIVILIANS thats not "terrorism", but when Muslims kill Western soldiers, that IS terrorism?"
It’s all well and good for us to comment from the comfort of our sofa’s in a war free country where your husband hasn’t been killed, your wife mutilated and your child raped but instead of breeding hate and saying things like BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY (which in my eyes makes you as moronic as them) maybe we should educate ourselves and go about making productive changes to make sure this never happens again.
We should not and will not tolerate this behaviour but if you’re going to make a difference then make an educated difference.