Personality traits

Evolve with me

I don’t know what is going on, but I just feel full of love lately… I just can’t stop writing about the damn thing! It might have something to do with the fact that I’m going home all the way to Brazil next week and I just feel so nostalgic. I’m going for my mum and step dad’s 25th wedding anniversary and I can’t wait to give them a big hug!

My auntie and uncle have also recently celebrated their wedding anniversary (their 50th!) and all these celebrations have made me reflect about couples, life as a couple, choosing the right person, and deciding to stay with that person. I found myself asking the question: what is it that makes people want to stay together? I mean, sometimes it seems as though the whole universe is conspiring to show us why we shouldn’t be with someone. Sometimes, so many challenges are put in our way that we think that we are missing a trick by not just letting go. But then, despite it all, we insist, because we believe that somehow that is meant to be. And why is that? In a world of instant relationships, where giving up is all so easy, why some of us still persevere and try to overcome bad times to stay with someone?

I guess it all comes down to the roots of said love, the reasons that brought the couple together in the first place. It could be the way she talks, it could be the way he is always so thoughtful, her clumsy ways or his talents as a chef. Or it could be none of these or all of them together. The thing is, somehow, somewhere right there in the beginning, a ‘ping’ moment happened, that moment when you realise that ‘Yep, that’s the person for me and I shall stop looking around for anybody else’. Bingo!

This choice, when made, usually means that you sort of become more adaptable to the traits of that person. You know them well, their annoying bits and their best bits, and you learn how to endure the abrupt way they can respond to you when they are in a rush, her annoying habit of asking silly questions when watching movies, the complete disregard he has for the laundry basket, the way she needs to be so controlling. These – and many other characteristics and behaviours – become just part of that person, part of the partner you chose.

Nowadays, when relationships go wrong, people can too often just discard them. Far too many times, they blame the work that is involved to keep a happy relationship. Well, of course there’ll be work involved. Even though we have been made to ‘mate’, we are very much individual human beings, with all our quirky traits and odd behaviours. So to think that joining two people, even if they are attracted to each other, is as easy as joining two pieces of magnet, think again. Some adaptation is required, and not only just the once. On an ongoing basis. Oh yes…

growing together

So, if it’s so much work, why do we still do it? The way I think of it is because the pros outweigh the cons. A little adaptation, a little understanding, a bit of accommodating and patience are not that much, when you get great company, fantastic laughs, affection in abundance and someone that genuinely cares about you in return. There is something about that person that makes it ok for you to wake up a bit earlier than them to make them coffee. There is something special that makes you not mind having to put up with their messiness, their ‘leave me alone’ moments and their obsession with never ever , God forbid, using a fork to scrape a pan. The same way that they put up with your fear of motorways, your useless ways in the kitchen and the way you like to change the furniture around all the time. It’s a very balanced but unspoken trade.

There is a song that kind of describes what I’m talking about. You will know it. It’s that one that goes… “Nobody knows it, but you’ve got a secret smile, and you use it only for me…” I think this song says a lot about couples staying together. To me, it represents that underlying understanding that is always there somehow and pushes you through limits but always makes you stronger. You see something special in someone because what is special about them is somehow highlighted to you in a way that others can’t see. These understanding looks, smiles and gestures keep that connection, keeps them protected. If these are treasured and the two of you manage to keep them intact, then you will be just fine.

Couples that persevere are brave. I heard someone say the other day that they are kind of embarrassed to mention that they have been happily married for over 20 years. People just look at them incredulous, doubting that that could ever be true. Why not? It’s a great thing to find someone for whom you are willing to adapt yourself, so you can grow stronger together. If that person is happy to do the same for you, even better (or lucky, shall we say?). And when a couple is willing to evolve together for an amazing length of time, like my auntie and uncle, and my mum and stepdad, then only one thing can describe that: true love.

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Categories: Brazil, Friendship, Happiness, Love matters, Personality traits, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Going the distance

I live in a building with only 8 flats. All the other residents are older than Lee and myself. And when I say older I mean at least 50 years older. They are all lovely people, with their own grumpy and quirky traits.

The couple that live above us is definitely in their 70s and, because this is a very old building, I can hear a little about their daily lives from our flat (I know, a bit annoying, but I try to make the best of it). For example, I already know that they go to bed no later than 12:30 am, I know how loud the man can yawn when he is on the balcony, I know a couple of programmes they like to watch on telly (although I can hardly hear it, really) but, most of all, I know the type of music they like. And this is because every Sunday, without fail, they will listen to music for a couple of hours in the afternoon. They listen to Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles,  Miles Davis, The Beatles, The Supremes, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash … these are some of the ones I recognise (and I have to say I’m not exactly an expert). In my opinion, they have fabulous taste.

Every time they listen to music like that, I can’t help but imagine how stable and settled they are in life. Ok, they are old and they have known each other for a long time, but there is something very endearing about a long-term relationship. I imagine them listening to these songs and looking at each other with puppy-dog eyes, remembering old times, and maybe even dancing slowly in the living room. They certainly have the energy for that, as I see them out and about all the time.

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Long-term relationships are a blessing. It’s almost a miracle that 2 people can meet each other in this big wide world and manage to be there for each other throughout their lives. It’s a choice. It’s knowing that that person will be there for you no matter what and that you will be there for them too. I think that there are secrets to the long duration of relationships. These are things that we don’t do consciously, we just do them, as long as we feel that it’s still worthy for us to have that person by our side.  To me, these things are:

1. Accepting your partner for who they are.

My mum once told me that people don’t change (simple but very wise words). Yes, you may change your views on things, change dreams or change your hair style, etc. But your core, what you truly are, will never change. So, if your partner has traits that you can’t live with, don’t expect that these will change with time or that you can make them change these for you. They won’t. You either learn to live with these little things or you better let go. But remember: you also have little things that your partner may not love, so give and take is paramount.

2. Accompanying your partner through their many phases.

Your partner will go through different phases in life, and you will too. Being there for each other during these times is what makes a relationship strong. We change work, we change interests, we change rhythm, we change tastes. And these changes make us see the world in a different light each time. As a couple, being able to understand and accept these constant transformations in the other person will make you the one constant thing in their lives. And having that one trustworthy person to fall back on again and again is priceless. It makes us feel grounded, secure and loved, no matter what life throws at us.

3. Sometimes giving more, sometimes giving less.

You will sometimes feel that you love your partner so much you could burst. But, in equal strength, you may find that for periods of time, you are just coasting along and going through the motions. I see this as a normal thing. You can’t have that ‘can’t live without each other’ feeling all the time. It’s exhausting! But you should feel that often enough so you always value how important that person is in your life and how much sadness you’d feel if you lost them. To me, love comes in waves of intensity, sometimes they are very high up, sometimes quite low, but somehow always there in some shape or form.

4. Making time for me, me, me.

Have an interest in yourself. You can’t just live for the other person. Cultivate your own interests, give yourself time to appreciate the things you love, even if you don’t share them with your partner. You can’t lose your own identity, as this is what attracted your partner to you in the first place. Also, looking after yourself, having your hobbies and appreciating your own company will make you a better and more interesting person.

5. Understanding that love is subtle.

Grand gestures? Yes, they can be nice. But nothing, to me, is nicer than a cup of coffee made without request at the right time, a ‘how was your day?’ just when you are bursting to tell someone about the supplier that let you down, a ‘come on, let’s go out’ right when you were just starting to wonder what to do on this grey day… Love is in the little things. It’s in the intrinsic way your partner knows you so well and how they make your every day more special for doing so.

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Long-term love is for the courageous. The longer you spend with someone, the more the barrier we usually have to protect ourselves from others comes down. So, the same way as with my neighbours, in many years’ time there will be no barrier at all, as you will know the other person almost as well as you know yourself. And this knowledge of the other, this willingness to share yourself with someone is true love. It’s love that gives you butterflies in your stomach, it’s love that goes through ups and downs, it’s love that goes the distance, with dancing in the living room and all.

Categories: Friendship, Happiness, Love matters, Personality traits, Relationships, The Good Life | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Online happiness

The other day, I had a chat with a friend about mentioning on Facebook when things are not going so well in our lives. It seems as though people are quick to update their status with happy photos, lovely travelling and holiday news, children, friends, funny situations they go through or fun things that they do in their daily lives. We all want the world to know how happy we are.

Why is that? Is it because we don’t want to burden people with our troubles? Is it because Facebook is supposed to be a platform to share happy things and happy things only? Is it because we all just want to show off and tell the whole wide world how happy and perfect and fun our lives are? Or is it because we just don’t like talking about what isn’t going so well?

It’s easy to post a happy picture, to share with others that we are visiting a nice place or to broadcast that we are having the time of our lives. Not so easy to disclose things that make us sad, such as ilnesses, scares, break ups or arguments.

I’m just as guilty as the next person (just hours earlier I posted a happy picture of me and my boyfriend walking in a beautiful park). I only really infect the online world with my happiness (or the occasional little moaning session). But why is that? Why don’t we give the happy and the unhappy equal importance online?

The ones close to us, the really close ones, will know all about our ups and downs. But there is something about sharing sad news with your school friend from 20 years ago, the same one we haven’t spoken to in 20 years, but is still a Facebook friend. It’s almost like we give them the right to witness our happiness, but not the right to share our difficulties. Even if we do post something not to be celebrated as a happy moment as such, there isn’t even an ‘unlike’ button right there for us to commiserate with our so called ‘friends’. In other words, Facebook doesn’t really encourage us to share bad news, only what’s ‘likeable’ matters.

It appears that sad things are far too close to home to be on the internet. We somehow and for some reason have been conditioned to show our brighter side, our fabulous news and our fantastic lives online, but does that glittering profile represent real life? When did we begin to lose touch with our own realities? Possibly when we began to convince ourselves that everything is ok, as long as we’ve posted that photo of us smiling wide.

A recent study said that a person is only truly 100% authentic when no one is observing them. However, nowadays we seem to need to have our actions examined and interpreted so we can believe that what we do (whatever that is) is important. We need validation, we need to be recognised, we need approval. Would it be right to say, then, that the reason why we don’t share bad news or sad aspects of our lives on Facebook is because we don’t like to shout about what we do wrong? It makes sense, doesn’t it? Who likes to tell everyone that they were told off at work, had an argument with their brother, got into debt or were truly mean to a friend? Yeah, thought so. This kind of ‘update’ would perhaps say much more about ourselves than a happy smiley picture. That kind of sharing provoques many more questions about our lives than the usual ‘ah, she is doing well’ reaction that a happy picture does.

If we look back to the time when we were kids, we were also after approval. We wanted to be loved by our families, and a ‘well done’, a smile or even just an approving nod went a long way. That made us carry on. I suppose nothing has changed, then. On Facebook, we want the same, which comes in the form of likes, comments and shares.

I’m not saying that Facebook is bad. I like it myself. I live very far from my home country and I take full advantage of it to keep in touch with the people I love on the other side of the Atlantic. However, we must establish a healthy limit, so we are not living our lives though it and depending on it to feel worthy.

I’ll still keep the sad and the miserable news out of Facebook, though. It works for me and I guess the most important thing is for people to be comfortable with what they share. For me, for example, saying something personal and not very ‘happy’ on Facebook feels like I’m exposing myself. I’m giving too much away. I’m trespassing the main boundary when it comes to sharing information: intimacy.

I guess that the main issue with Facebook, no matter if we share happy or sad news, is that it can cause heartache. For the ones that like to compare themselves with other people (and we all do that to some degree), it can become very tiring and very frustrating to realise that there is always someone happier, always someone with a wider smile, going to a nicer place, fully enjoying the Saturday night that you are spending on the sofa eating ice cream. It’s just as Montesquieu said: “If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.”

Categories: Facebook, Friendship, Happiness, Personality traits, Relationships | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Me, myself and… erm… myself

This post will surely bore the hell out of you all, but I’ll post it anyway. Yes, it’s all about me, but the reason for posting it is because, if anything, it can only be a good thing to encourage each of you to do this as well.

This year (and it’s only February!), I have been told by three different people in three separate occasions that I am a very self-aware person. No one ever told me that before. Mmmm… that got me thinking… I wasn’t aware that I was a self-aware person (no pun intended!) and therefore tried to figure out what this meant for me and in my life in general.

It’s no secret that we know more and more about ourselves as the years go by. It’s only logical, really, as the more we ‘live’ with ourselves, the more we will know about our likes and dislikes. And the beauty of it is that the more we know, the more we respond to life’s requests in accordance to our tastes and beliefs. This is if you are brave, though, and not a pushover.

This whole thing got me thinking about myself, what I’m like, what makes me tick, what I want from life, what makes me happy… and after a couple of weeks of making notes, here are my results. Some things are really silly and some reflect my personality on a deeper level, but either way I believe that both make me the person I am. It’s on a list and it’s not in much of an order as they were scattered thoughts that I put down on paper at first. I’m sure this list is not conclusive by any means either but, for now, I think I got a pretty good idea of who I am.

My little list, then:

1. I like eating something sweet before savoury food. Not sure why but I frequently do it.

2. I wash my hair every other day.

3. I always, ALWAYS have to have a Plan B or I get really nervous.

4. I absolutely love butterflies, they are my favourite animal. However, recently I have taken a liking to penguins.

5. I frequently ‘shut off” and don’t listen to people when they are talking to me for several seconds, even though I’ll be looking intently at them. I think they call this ‘selective hearing’.

6. I like to be a recluse sometimes.

7. I like night time a little more than day time.

8. I love the silence of the mornings.

9. I love looking at an empty street (do this all the time from my balcony). I like the silence.

10. I love making jokes and coming up with funny comments. I love making people laugh. I guess this is ‘my thing’ (I hope! ha!).

11. I have a strange passion for whistling. I’m always doing it.

12. I love judging TV adverts (did they pass on a straight forward message, did they convince me to action on something, was it pleasant on the eye, was it clever, etc, etc, etc).

13. I love Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. In my opinion, they are the best.

14. I love the sea.

15. I hate peas with a passion. Weird little green balls!

16. I am terrified of motorways.

17. I have always been in love with the sunset. It’s always been my favourite part of the day.

18. I love the moon too.

19. I love trees and I like to hug them from time to time. There is an incredible energy that comes from them.

20. I am very easily distracted.

21. I get bored easily. (this can be a problem sometimes!)

22. At work (and even at home), I tend to jump from one task to another without finishing the first. I’ll then end up with 100 things started and none completed. I do tend to complete them, but it’s a funny way of doing things!

23. I love riding bikes.

24. I always like people at first. And then sometimes I just get disappointed. Even so, I’d rather it be this way.

25. I usually change my mind about things.

26. I am a very blunt person. And I can’t really control it. Things just ‘come out’. (area for improvement, me thinks!)

27. I love movies with no happy ending, or with no ending at all. I like that they can just represent a passage in someone’s life.

28. Family is the most important thing in my life.

29. Followed by friends. I don’t have millions, but the ones I have are ultra special. I know them well, they know me well. Quality beats quantity.

30. I like reading and writing and I feel lost if I don’t do both for a while.

Ok, enough about me. Yes, I agree it can be boring reading about someone else’s characteristics. If you reached the end of this post, however, it’s because you have some interest in how people operate. This means that you may be interested in finding out things about yourself. You probably know it all already, but I found it so helpful to put it all on paper. It kind of helped me figure out areas for improvement and also made me happy to realise that I do and I am a few things that I’m proud of.

If anything, I found this a good exercise. And if people think I’m ‘self aware’, good! I had to write it all down, but yes, I suppose I can agree with that. The more we know ourselves, the more corageous we are with our life decisions. The clearer is our path and what we have to do next. It’s almost like looking at yourself with a magnifying glass. Just be ready to find out all sorts.

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Just a matter of time

I find myself with no time. And when I say no time, I mean no spare time. Of course, I have time to go to work (since I have no choice in the matter), I have time to brush my teeth and time to clean the kitchen floor. But I don’t have time to BE. I have no time to just sit and watch the world go by, to just look out to the sea and day-dream. I have no time to do the things that inspire me because everything else takes over.

It’s quite sad when you realise that your life is passing by and you are not being able to take control of it, to take the bull by the horns and say: “Hey, I have a say here! I want to spend my time differently!”. I want some time for creative idleness. That time that you use to do nothing or do a lot. That time that you use to do whatever floats your boat, to make you happy, to inspire you and make you productive.

Some people like to drink, others like watching TV, some people eat to pass the time and others go running. I like to just BE. I don’t have a specific activity that I like doing to be in my creative idleness zone. I go with the flow. Sometimes even cleaning gets me in the mood to create something and that’s fine, as long as I feel like I’ve achieved something from time to time.

I know that we all suffer the pressures of not having enough time in the day – and I’m not even considering the ones who have children (honestly, can’t figure out how they manage!).  We all have things that if we don’t do, we feel guilty about. I feel guilty when I don’t give myself the time to exercise, for example. I know that my body benefits immensely from it and I know I like it after I start it but, most of the time, I simply can’t be bothered and then I feel really bad for not making the effort afterwards. I also feel a little guilty if I don’t keep the house clean enough or if I don’t give enough time to my friends. We need more hours in the day!

I always give 110% at work and although I consider this a good thing, I get home with my brain cells smashed. Some nights, I get home with no more energy than the necessary to make something to eat, shower and go to bed. Yes, it is demanding because it’s always so busy, but it does drain me and affects my life outside work. And life should NOT be just about work, there is so so so much more to it!

I wish my time was spent more wisely. I wish I didn’t care if there are clothes to be washed or a sink to be cleaned. I wish I was more of a ‘happy go lucky’ kind of girl. But I’m not. No matter how much I try, the dirty sink will get on my nerves if I leave it, so I’d rather go and spend 5 minutes doing it than worrying about it for the rest of the day. It’s just the way I am, I guess.

I’m not sure what I can do to make this better, rather than writing about it, which always helps in my case. I don’t know if there are things I can leave out of my ‘to do list’. I simply don’t feel able to cross anything off at the moment. I just wish I could get ‘in the zone’ a bit quicker. By being in ‘the zone’ I mean getting to that place where your mind is clear, ready, inspired. That moment when I feel I can create something out of nothing, something I can call MINE, something special, even if only to me.

This quote kind of explains how I feel about time:

“The soul requires duration of time – rich, thick, deep, velvety time – and it thrives on rhythm. Soul can’t be hurried or harried… We may go through many events in the day and experience nothing because the soul has not had the opportunity to feel them from many different points of view.” Roberto Sardello

The choices we have to make every single day on how we divide the hours in the day into what deserves our attention can be overwhelming. And I know when I’m not making the right ones because I basically feel crap if I don’t do the things I like to do. It’s simple maths really:

Time + things I like to do = Happy Marilia

Time + things that I have to do but don’t necessarily like to = Unhappy Marilia

My commitment to myself from now on must be, I guess, to try and declutter. I must try and erase from my life the things that don’t deserve that much of my attention. Like cleaning, for instance. Maybe I can clean less, so I can read more. Maybe I can worry less, so I can day-dream more. Maybe I can just apply this newly found maths to everything that requires time in my life. This way, I’ll know straight away if spending time on something I don’t really want to do is taking away time that I’d be using to do the things I love, so I’ll feel more empowered to saying no to a few things here and there. If we think about it, even the person who has absolutely nothing, has time. Time is universal, everyone has it, even if only a little left. This makes us pretty powerful. We ARE in charge.

Right, enough talk, I’m gonna go make a nice coffee and read my book for an hour. Sod the washing-up.

Categories: Creativity, Dreams, Personality traits, Quirky thoughts, Time, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing without looking

I have always admired security people. They have this strength in their posture, in the way that they carry themselves. They just have this fierce look in their eyes, as if they are prepared for anything and everything at any time. I think this perception of mine has probably something to do with the movie ‘The Bodyguard’. Yes, that very same one you’re thinking of, the one with Kevin Costner and (the late) Whitney Houston. I just remember Kevin Costner being so strong and so controlled.

Control. This is an intrinsic characteristic of security people. They need to be able to control themselves and also others. I admire that. And I admire even more when such security people are the ones in the Olympic games. Have you noticed them throughout the whole thing? There they are, in their coloured jackets, looking at all the spectators, since they are not allowed to turn back and look at the games.

They don’t know who is winning, who is losing. They can only guess. But boy, that must be fun. Imagine being able to observe and analyse people’s reactions – sad or happy, exasperated or relieved – to something without looking too creepy? Imagine that you are allowed to look at them as much as you want when they are lost in the moment. You can notice the crease of the forehead, the narrowing of the eyes, the big smile that unfolds.

The games here in London have been a massive success and these security people have seen it all through a different light. They could not look at the winning moment approaching, the missed throw, the rivalry, the kissing of the floor when it all ends. So they felt it through everyone else’s reactions.

Damm. I wish I had volunteered to be a security person in the Olympic Games. I’m sure I’d have quite a bit to report.

 

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Being brave

This week, I found myself wondering about what being a grown up really means…

I had a bit of an episode, when I got really nervous about something and I think this is what triggered my thinking. You see, I get really nervous around motorways or whenever I’m driving and get lost somehow. I won’t dwell on it on this post (I’ll probably write about this another time), but I just wanted to say that the simple fact of a road diversion can get me all jittery.

This week wasn’t a very stressful one overall, but little things managed to get to me and throw me slightly off balance. When that happens, I usually think “what would the grown ups of my family do?”. These can be my mother, my grandmother, my dad, my stepmother or my stepfather. I have these 5 people on a bit of a pedestal, as they usually have all the answers for me.

I am 33 years old and I still see myself as a teenager most of the time. And then when I do something really grown up, like braving myself through a different route to work, I don’t even remember that no, I don’t really need praise for it. This is what I should be doing all the time at this stage in my life.

The bottom line is that I don’t consider myself a very brave person. You know, like those people that just don’t hesitate to take a risk and just go for things. I need to always have a bit of a plan in place, and when that plan is in place, I always organise a plan B too, just in case. I fear that my very specific approach on taking risks in life means that I’m probably not enjoying it as much as I could. After all, we only live once, don’t we?

When I feel really useless and like a little girl afraid of everything, I try to go through my life and remember some occasions where I did show some sort of bravery. Like, for example, when I moved to a country on the other side of the  ocean, miles and miles away from home, all on my own. I should take the credit for that, shouldn’t I? I know that millions and millions of people have done this before, but for a relatively scared person like me, this should count as a bit of a life achievement.

I was also brave when I decided to stay in this country and start a life here for myself. I have had jobs (and now have one I love after one more little act of bravery!), I have new friends, I have a new doctor, I even have a new mechanic for my car. And I found the way to get all of these all on my own. However, there are still areas where I go into panic mode. When I’m driving, for example. Or when I have to make a big decision.

I hate making a decision. I always analyze far to much and then end up confusing myself with all the pros and cons, ifs and maybes… it’s stressful, but I tend to make it even more stressful than it should be, really. My partner Lee, on the other hand, is a very straightforward person. He is quite quick to grasp if something is a good or a bad idea and things are usually quite clear and simple for him. On my side, I sleep on it, I dwell on it, I stress over it and I always end up making a decision that I’m never entirely sure is the best one. I lack on confidence.

To be a grown up, though, you need to be confident, don’t you? You need to be able to deal with so many things at the same time and also try and keep that peace of mind that is so important. For me, getting paranoid over things means that my energy gets drained and I feel powerless. I have to change that.

Although change is necessary, I’m still not quite sure about how to do this. Do I just start being braver in my decisions and going for it, not thinking too much? But then if I do that and things don’t go well, won’t I regret it all and then blame myself for not having taken a more cautious route? It’s hard to change yourself. You know what people say… start as you mean to go on? Well, I believe in that. I’m a great believer that we do things for the sake of it, because we have done it the same way for years and it has become a habit so intrinsict that it becomes almost impossible to change. But I also believe that we have to recognise when something needs changing. We need to recognise when the way we go about things is holding us back instead of taking us forward.

It is a big challenge to make a big change, especially when some of the things we do and the way we do them is connected so closely with our personality. I want to be braver. I want to have the courage to see an opportunity and believe that I can do something about it. I want my belief in myself to drive me forward and I want to stop wasting time making plans and trying to schedule life so much that opportunities just pass me by, waving at me whilst I sit there with my cofffee and my ‘to do’ list .

To make big changes, we have to start somewhere and I know that most people usually get overwhelmed by how big a task it is to change some of our habits. Perhaps if we take it slowly we can achieve more. We have to keep going, slowly but surely. Things won’t change overnight, but we have to start. I have always loved a sentence from that movie “Vanilla Sky” and I think that I’ll use that as my startying point for my change of being braver in life. If we think about change as putting one foot after the other, maybe the whole process will look less scary. The sentence from the movie is: “every passing minute is a another chance to turn it all around”. Let’s grab all those minutes and make them count just as we want them to.

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Another time…

I always thought that I would be happier in a different era. I have this melancholic thing about me, like I’m always missing something or someone that has gone or even missing something that is right there next to me. It’s kind of weird. It’s a feeling of emptiness somehow, but no, don’t you worry, I’m not depressed. I even enjoy it. It makes me feel… well, it makes me feel me.

I love old movies and I love the way people behaved in the old times. People were so polite and respectful and I really admire that. Yes, there are many things that are much better now. Men and women are slowly becoming equals, people have choices and the chance to fight for their rights and being rich no longer necessarily means that you can rule the world. Or kind of (unfortunately).

So here we go… I invite you to travel back in time with me and decide which is the best era of all… is it the 50s, the 60s or the 70s?

The 50s…

The 50s began with rationing and austerity and ended with a big and loud music concert starring the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Elvis Presley, to name a few. The glamour of the American lifestyle heavily influenced the 50s, with cars reflecting American tastes and actresses such as Marilyn Monroe taking over the world (and any man in sight!). The fifties was a decade of conservative attitudes and values. By the end of the decade, the world had largely recovered from World War II and there were already stirrings of the freedom that would sweep in…

 

The 60s…

With the hippie movement on the background towards the end of the decade, the 60s are seen as a “breaking free” period, where rigid culture and social constraints were challenged in view of individual freedom. People wanted to deviate from the norm and this could be seen everywhere, in the men’s beehive hairdos and in the women’s short styles popularized by Twiggy, as well as with the rise of feminism and gay rights movements.

The 60s were about making sure people had choices, which is proven by the introduction of the birth control pill and the widespread, socially accepted drug use, with LSD and marijuana being the favourites at the time. This fight for freedom created a “counterculture” that sparked a social revolution throughout much of the western world. The underground press, a huge and eclectic collection of newspapers, served as a unifying medium for the counterculture.

The soundtrack of this revolution was crafted by no less than personalities such as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel and, of course (my beloved) The Beatles, amongst many others that made the earth shake with good tunes and inspiration. The Woodstock Festival in upstate New York marked the era too, with its “3 days of peace and music”.

The 70s…

With major conflicts between capitalist and communist forces taking place in multiple countries, it’s no wonder that civil rights movements started to play a major role in the 70s. This era was also marked by a presence and rise of a significant number of women as heads of state and heads of government across the world, including the famous “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher in the UK.
Writers such as Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie made their marks in the literary world and Andy Warhol presented us with his pop art. The fashion on the streets had ladies in platform shoes and men with sideburns and, of course, a home wasn’t a home if it didn’t feature large patterns of  something very bold somewhere to be seen.
Elton John, James Taylor, Bee Gees, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and others provided the soundtrack that could be listened to with the help of the many high tech gadgets that were being invented and sold to the masses.
The 70s were an era of Star Wars, technology, increasing political awareness and landing on the moon (arguably). Ready for the 80s and onwards…
There are a million things that I haven’t mentioned here about each decade, it’s just impossible to cram all the good and bad of each era in one blog post. Given the choice, though, I think I’d have liked to live in the sixties, with all its twist and shouts, individual freedom,  bellbottom pants and a bit of revolution for good measure. I can see myself with flowers in my hair and a few words to say to whoever cares to hear…

This is the problem. We always want more. Either out of ourselves or out of life. Unfortunately, though, the time we live in can’t be changed. We can’t just go on a time machine and transport ourselves to a different time, where we think we would fit in better. Where we land to live our lives has been carefully crafted by the man upstairs. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s all one big lottery and, if we feel out of place, it’s just because we have been extremely unlucky.

Categories: Different eras, Personality traits, Time | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

In a minute

This week, when going out fo some errands (just like a 70-year old, hehe), I was on my way to the post office when I saw  – and heard – a dog barking incontrollably. He was just there, standing next to a man, obviously his owner, barking at no one or nothing in particular. He came across to me as a very nervous dog indeed. As I went past the duo, I heard the man just saying patiently to the dog, repeatedly “in a minute, in a minute, in a minute”.

It was obvious that nothing was going to happen in a minute but, regardless, the man kept on saying it and I could still hear him saying it to the dog long after I had passed them. I then started thinking what was the use of saying that? And then I thought that that man was very clever. He was just calming the dog with a little false promise, because he knew that if the dog heard that, he might just calm down to wait for what would happen “in a minute”. It didn’t work as such (as he kept on barking), but having said that, maybe without those words the dog might have gone running towards the cars on the road or something. Maybe those 3 little words made a difference somehow and that wise man knew exactly what he was doing.

I then started thinking about what words make me calm down. What do I say to myself when I feel a bit out of control? It took me a while to remember, really, as this is exactly the kind of thing that you do automatically and without giving it too much thought, but I reckon that what I say the most is: “So what?”

If nothing is going towards the plan, I say “So what?”. If something happens and I don’t know what I can do about it, I ask “So what?”. If people are awkward and I don’t understand their way of thinking, I ponder “So what?”. This little question seems to carry me through different situations and it seems to calm me down somehow, just like the dog calmed down (slightly) when hearing his owner say “in a minute”.

“So what?”, to me, represents a question as well as a statement. It’s a question on situations where I have to do something, when a decision is required of me or when I have to form an opinion about this or the other. My little question is used in this context when some action is required to move forward or to stop moving, if this is the right decision (although, who on earth can say when a decision is right or wrong!).

Equally, my little question works as a statement when nothing else needs to be said, when something outrageous happened or when I am gobsmacked about something and simply cannot get my head around it. “So what?” works as a little cynical way of detaching myself of that situation, usually to protect myself by not getting involved.

I reckon every person has a little sentence that they say either aloud or to themselves when they feel a bit lost. Be it “in a minute”, “so what” or whatever you say yourself, these little gems help us. They give us time to gather our thoughts, recognise our needs and move on, either by actually doing something or doing nothing at all. Some words are so powerful that they manage to shift our way of thinking, the way we act and our perceptions. If we have to ask ourselves questions before actually reacting, so be it. And if we take a little bit longer to actually do something when that is required, well… so what?

Categories: Personality traits | 2 Comments

Blurting it

I’ve always been known for being honest, sometimes brutally, even. I like to tell the truth, as I find it hard to hide things. This approach has brought me problems in life, especially in my relationships with people. I tend to just blurt out whatever is going on in my mind, without giving it a second thought. Indeed, a second after the sentence is out there, I regret saying it. And then it’s too late. As they say, there are 5 things that you can never get back: the stone, after it’s thrown, the occasion, after it’s missed, the time, after it’s gone, a person, after they die and a word, after it’s said. And for me, the word is the one I have always struggled to control.

It’s funny that I have become more and more aware of this with the years. I now watch myself and I can actually feel myself thinking something over before getting it out of my mouth. It’s almost like my thoughts now go through a process and the way they make from the brain to my mouth is full of filters. I have realised, thank God, that I am getting better at it. And I have also learnt a valuable lesson with the English people: sometimes, the silence is the best way to say something without making any sound.

My job has also contributed to my learning of this new skill. I am an Account Executive in an advertising agency and I spend my days dealing with clients, who are extremely valuable to the business and deserve the best treatment, even when they aim to drive us nuts. As an Account Exec, you need to be diplomatic and also be able to tell the truth, but in a way that the words you use make whatever it is not sound so bad. The agency I work at is called Happy Creative and I now have an expression for when I have to say something on an email but need to make it sound better. I type whatever I really have to say and then go over it again and “happify” it! Job done! When talking to people, I use the same approach, which makes my thought process very complicated… I need to first figure out what I have to say and then before saying it, I need to quickly choose the best words to say it. It can be a bit tiring, but once you get used to it, you start doing it unconsciously.

I think that the fact that I’m learning how to be more careful with my words is an achievement. I still feel I have a long way to go, but long gone is the Marilia that just said however bad my thoughts were to the people in front of me. I now consider things and actually select what I’m going to say, or if I should say anything at all. This has made me a more controlled person and, overall, a fairer person too, as many times what we think in one second changes on the next. I’m still very honest and I think I always will be. I’m just now more able to make honesty sound pretty.

 

Categories: Personality traits | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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