How to shine

Choose to shine

Over at Mum turned Mom HQ this week, Sara has gone for a word as this week’s Prompt: Shine. I didn’t immediately know what to say about this and wasn’t going to enter the link up this week, but I find myself with a little time on my hands and started contemplating what ‘shine’ means to me.

The dictionary tells me that to shine is to emit light, to glint or glisten, to excel or to be immediately apparent. When I think about what it takes to shine, as a person, it takes confidence, it takes a happy, outgoing spirit who is not afraid to put his or herself on the line, and, to be more philosophical, it takes a person who can accept that they have a light inside them which can be directed out into the world, to counteract the darkness.

It’s not easy to shine or to feel like you are capable of it. It takes a lot of encouragement and championing but maybe some people are just born to project themselves and their light into the world from an early age (natural born confidence?).

It might be easy to shine if you are born with an innate talent, an innate beauty – but for the rest of us plebs here on Earth it takes a bit of practice. As a mother, how do you shine when every day seems to be about cooking and laundry and school runs and work? You challenge yourself, you shine through your actions, you attempt to bring a little light, however small, into the lives of others.

At the beginning of the year I spent a lot of time thinking about ‘random acts of kindness’. I even contemplated starting up a linky all about encouraging others to both do and share their own RAOK. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and was very taken by the notion of happiness coming through giving of yourself, and now I’m reading a book she recommends A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn and the concept of ‘happiness’ is once again in the forefront of my mind (and I’m not missing the parallel here of the Sun – a metaphor for happiness, and the one word which we most associate with the descriptive ‘shine’).

So go forth and emit your light, people! I know you can do it.



The meaning of life… ages and states of mind

How old

Too Young To Care?

Lately I’m finding the nature of service (particularly in cafes and restaurants) is more important to me than it used to be and therefore, I do not like being served by trendy youths who seem so wrapped up in themselves and their image that all they can see when they look at you is ‘old’ and therefore, not worthy of their interest beyond taking your order and moving on. I find it rude. I find it dismissive.

The fact is that, whilst I would never have described myself as ‘trendy’ as a youth, when I was younger I was more timid than I am now. I shied away from random conversations with strangers and never felt confident enough to engage with people I didn’t know in the day to day course of my life. My mum always used to say that she had evolved from someone who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, into a much more outspoken person in middle age – not afraid to complain or question bad service and less concerned about being ‘liked’ or judged so not scared to initiate a conversation with someone who might reject the attention.

Perhaps this is just the nature of youth but I wish that employers taking on very young people in the service industry would provide a little bit of training which involved demonstrating how to effectively engage with people. It does make a difference and have a knock-on effect because I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I would be much more likely to become a repeat visitor somewhere where I know the staff are friendly and take an interest (however minimal) in my life. It is also a fantastic skill for life, putting people on side in any number of situations and just generally spreading a bit of good karma in the world.

42 Not Out

Continuing on the theme of age and ageing, I’ve been pondering for a while on the benefits of being 42. (Level 42: the meaning of life!) The fact of the matter is that I don’t feel like a ‘middle-aged’ woman. And I don’t think I look like a middle aged woman either (although admittedly no-ones going to come running to check my id next time I roll up at the checkout with a nice bottle of Merlot). At the same time I’m not trying to be ‘down with the kids’ – I won’t be purchasing a 1D track any time soon although equally I’m not obsessed with the 80s classics. On the other hand I’m not averse to a bit of charting music – Avicii, Biffy – I’d rather be listening to Radio 1 than Radio 2 although still feel like admitting this attaches a kind of shame akin to, for example, being seen trawling the aisles of Miss Selfridge… It’s a bit like being caught between two worlds. Even more so with two little children to care for. Whilst people I went to school with are talking about their children’s secondary school admissions, I’m just getting my head round Reception class infants. Talk about late starter! But at the same time this also gives me the perception of someone ten years younger.

Just the other day I was reading another parent blog by a young woman in her twenties who has a baby under the age of one. She was describing a somewhat harried night out with her partner – their first since the baby was born. She gave some detail of the experience and in the process mentioned looking around at other couples in the restaurant they were in and noticing a couple who looked ten years older than them accompanied by a child of about 7. She described them as ‘trying to act our age’. This is a nonsense to me. The only difference between 28 and 38 can be measured in terms of knowledge and experience gained. What you like to watch, eat, listen to, do with your spare time – none of these things are defined by age although sometimes people let themselves be moulded by these stereotypes, playing out society’s expectations for fear of being labelled.  Well I say stuff labelling! Lets just start being true to ourselves!