Wednesday 23 February 2011

An inspirational woman

I have this piece of writing sitting around as a draft since a while, and after having elaborated on my opinion in regard to beauty yesterday,  it feels just right to finish it now. I saw this woman for the first time in a drawing. A painter who I adore had used her as a model. I was so fascinated by the face that I investigated further, found her name and then Google exploded: Just try Carmen Dell'Orefice and google for images.

Why her? There are so many others who changed how we see the world, like Mother Teresa, Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey. I do admire them, I do get inspired by them, but I feel so small compared to what they have achieved. Never will I be able to reach their potential.

So, what is so different about this woman who is just a model, the most vivid depiction of superficial?

She is still there at age 79. She is making her living in a job where age matters, and she still is a supermodel. It shows that beauty is not just an outer layer. Grace is a word often used in context with her name.

See, at almost 50 I am starting to ask myself if I will still be able to achieve what I want. I have so many ideas and wishes and most of them rank around performances and creative stuff. However vain this may sound,  I am longing for a bit of publicity, I'd like to cause a bit of a stir here and there. I didn't choose that as my life's dream from a shop shelf. It came to me quite naturally, and as things are now as they are, it would be quite useful to have a body in good working order with a certain appeal to go with it. And occasionally it feels like running out of time.

You may wonder why on earth I am aspiring to doing all this now, and not some decades ago when age wouldn't have been an issue. Well, interests change:

I will never forget when my mum asked me at age 10 or 12 if I would like to have a subscription of a fashion magazine as one of those traders were at our doorstep. She meant so well and I declined; I feel bad about it now. Money was short at our house and this offer was of an extraordinary treat. I even remember what I did when she asked. It was a searing hot summer and I was weeding the roses in our garden. I guess that I remember so well, shows how touched I was by this gesture, but I was so little into fashion that I declined nevertheless. And today I would kill for becoming a model or being able to design my own fashion... Will I be able to still achieve it?... Of course I will... If I really want to, I will! And this woman shows me that there doesn't have to be an age limit for any business!

And although she is very beautiful, and always was, this is not what makes her success. It is her charisma and her style which make her later pictures even much more powerful than the younger ones, and which have been radiating even from the painting I saw. It is confidence that wins the game for her, and this is not something one has, or has not. It can be gained! It is the confidence that inspires. Well, probably that is what I am actually after: If I could inspire only one person to achieve something they never thought possible... That would be a legacy, wouldn't it? And the age thing? Well, if we could take age out of the equation, then we would gain time. This woman shows that one is never too old to do anything. Only the sky is the limit!

Tuesday 22 February 2011

How important is Beauty?

A new TV show called Beauty & The Beast triggered a thought: How important is beauty to me?

The show pairs a pretty person from an industry promoting beauty with a person who is rather seriously deformed, either by genetic disorder or accident, to see how they discuss the matter. The show is actually quite well made and I was wondering how prejudiced I am.

So I imagined myself in an interview and being asked this question: How important is beauty to you?

And here is my, as usual, elaborate answer:

Beauty is important! It is important because that is how society works. And it does work like this in all cultures. The beauty signals may be different, but they nevertheless are there. Beauty opens doors!

Beauty alone however does not work. A beautiful face combined with a nasty personality is usually quickly uncovered as a nasty personality... the beauty aspect vanishes. On the other hand, a friendly person who is lacking beauty, but has style and panache, and who is doing the best out of what is there, will eventually get the doors to open as well, and they will stay open.

Hence it seems that for a person it is more important to not just focus on beauty as the most obvious and visible asset, but to get to know ones assets altogether. True to the motto: Know your assets and use them to your best advantage.

Additionally it is important to be aware that assets have varying shelf lives. There are the ones which one is likely to keep, like smartness. Only in severe accidents or illnesses one might lose it and then one has problems of an altogether different kind.

There are the ones, like money, of which one should know how they got acquired, how they can be lost, and how they can be regained if one would wish to do so.

And then there are the ones one will lose for sure, like beauty. Age will kill it, and although age bears a particular beauty in itself, it is not of the kind that opens doors. There are no two ways about it, that there will be a time in life when cuteness will have left, and one might want to aspire having it replaced by something more durable by then. Trying to preserve it in desperation quite likely will lead to being a tragic figure... the examples in the media are plentiful.

So yes, beauty is important and if one has it, one should use it as long as it lasts. It however is as important to bank on other assets as well. The ones, who don't have beauty, will have to build those assets a bit earlier in life, which might actually give them an advantage over the formerly beautiful faces later in life. 

Life is not fair? Well, sometimes it is!

Monday 21 February 2011

I learned something...

... yes, I think I did!

See, there are those people out there, who seems to get everything done, they dance through life, everything seems to be so effortless, and success always falls into their lap. How do they do that?

The other day I got a glimpse of it: I had put some iron into the fire from which the prospect developped to do some things I always wanted to do,and then they all happened at the same time. Typical: For once I don't have to work hard to find the opportunities, and then everything is cramped into just a few month. And for once I didn't use this as an excuse to not get started and jumped on the chances provided.

Then panic kicked in: Deadline for book approaching much faster than expected, sewing course turning out to be so interesting that one wouldn't want to miss a stitch and starting to do homework, while book illustrations were screaming for attention; dance class taking up twice the number of hours due to actually not being to bad at it and wanting to stay ahead of the game, while... see above... and then the all demanding training for the bodybuilding competition, for which I still don't have a clue how to pose, let alone doing a one minute posing routine to music, plus getting pricked for vaccinations ever so often as the icing of the cake will be a trip to Sumatra.

All very nice things to have ahaed, but there was an entire decade of nothing really substantial happening... well, we bought the house back then, that was exciting, but after I decided to become a secretary life became somewhat was less thrilling. And now all those things are happening, bearing the prospect of even more excitement in the future, given that this phase would be completed successfully.

So, I decided to get a cold. Feeling rather under the weather I dragged myself to dance class, hoping that hubbys strong shoulders would compensate for my weak legs. And then the amazing thing happened: One of the biggest of my problems got solved!

In the attempt of getting a rest I started chatting with the trainer, mentioned the upcoming competition and my dilema with the choreography and there it was: One of her team had done that before. He choreographed a routine for a bodybuilder about three years ago. Being utterly thrilled about this door opening in front of me, I didn't ask if she won, though!

However, sometimes it's worthwhile to stop bothering and just let things flow. Successful people seem to just trust that things will happen if they are worthwhile to happen, they put loads of irons into the fire and when one is ready to be hit by the hammer, then they go for it.

We will know in a 3 month time, whether or not I will be blessed by success ... but who knows? We might not know until much later,even. Whatever the outcome, I will have met new people, and they will know me. I will have new aliances in this networking game, as will they. Even in case of a failure I might win in the end, as this experience might be just a little piece in a much bigger puzzle which I don't even know yet that I am playing it!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Politeness backfiring

Why can politeness be so annoying at times? I always thought politeness is a set of rules to make social life easier. One knows how to greet, how to farewell, to talk, to walk, to eat, without offending others. Right?

Nope, actually!

The key word is 'social life'; enter a different society and completely other things are considered to be polite. Hence looking from a different angle, then this implies that those rules of politeness discriminate against individuals who behave differently.

Due to my recent Bodybuilding challenge I have entered this sensitive territory of 'food stuffs'. I have to very carefully monitor what I eat and when I eat it. So for example I do go to restaurants  which have a variety of different food and if I have a days notice, as I then can plan for it. If I am invited to pizza I will join the party for the social aspect, but not eat, as every single ingredient in a pizza is off limits for me. I am entirely happy with it as I am not missing anything. I do not feel like being on a diet, as I am eating balanced and would actually love to eat like this for good. There is just that tiny little hiccup: I am not the norm.

Politeness dictates that the host has to offer food; it dictates as well that the guest has to take it!

In not eating I am breaking this rule and an explanation is requested. This is fair enough, I started the game and I am willing to do my bit to remedy the situation.

This however is where my ranting actually begins: In my experience I not only have to provide an explanation, I have to take the mickey out of myself, I have to put on a show to entertain everybody with my ridiculous ideas, I have to be prepared to go through questioning similar to inquisition, and even after I have done all that, food and drink is offered to me in regular intervals so that I have to feel ridiculed over and over again.

If I would not eat for religious reasons, none of that would happen. One does not touch religion, does one? The politeness rule 'do not offend or tease religious people' trumps over the rule 'one must offer food'. Some years ago vegetarians or vegans had similar problems. Since this type of diet became fashionable and has created it's own society the rules have changed. Unfortunately there is no trump rule for people on a personal challenge.

The interesting thing is that generally I am getting admired for setting myself a task, people are claiming to support me, but as soon as I am touching social convention all this is forgotten. I would like people to understand that politeness is a good thing, but that it has the power to discriminate if not used sensibly. The polite thing would be, to break the rules!