Let your inner goose loose. Because few expect you to.

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As odd as that sounds, there’s an inspirational story behind why I chose ‘a goose’ as an introduction for today’s blog. The coolest part is that I’m writing this entry in London, and the tale dates back all the way to the 1800’s where early death was a certainty, especially if you were a goose! The goose in this story was named Old Tom who lived in Leadenhall Market.

Like every other goose that was brought to this trade arcade, his fate was set: he was to be slaughtered along with 34 000 other geese over two days. Because, that’s what geese were meant for – to be born, raised, killed, plucked and eaten. That was the ‘goose life’. But this goose had other plans.

Now, all of us come up to ‘chopping blocks’ in our lives. These are moments where we become aware of the expectancies set for us. And if we don’t fulfill these pre-designed prospects, there’s a whole string of consequences.

These expectations can vary dramatically. It can be expectations set by society as a whole, friends, family, children, clients, employees and colleagues. Moms are ‘expected’ to be a certain ‘mom way’. Men are expected to act in a particular ‘man way’. And actually, both men and women are challenged in the modern world, because you’re judged for choosing to ‘just be a mom’, but then you’re also judged for being ‘a professional woman’ who doesn’t want to be a mom. And it’s no easier for men! You’re judged for being chivalrous but then judged just as quickly if you’re not. Either way, both genders are set up for expectation failures these days.

Not only does society set out expectations, this ‘social entity’ (in my mind it looks like a gigantic red octopus with hundreds of tentacles) sends out whole conflicting batches of expectations that none of us can possibly ever live up to. That’s when feelings of failure and confusion hit. Even depression. Identity crises. The ridiculous need to ‘catch up’ and be accepted possesses decision making systems. But, working hard to fit in and appease the gigantic red octopus doesn’t guarantee your head won’t land up on the chopping block. That moment is inevitable for all of us.

So, when the moment arrives where you realise your head is on that cold wooden block, what do you do? Do you look at that expectation-cleaver and conform before it’s brought down by the giant red octopus tentacle? In order to avoid the block, do you always dance to other peoples’ selfish drums so that they can remain happy at your cost?

Or. Do you let your inner goose loose and remember what Old Tom did to make him a legend;

Old Tom, realising his expected fate as a goose, made a decision. He escaped. He CHOSE to NOT become another number. This goose went on the loose and no one could catch him. He chose life so strongly that the humans gave up on seeing him as a possible meal and pillow stuffing. Instead, he became a market favourite, a hero, a legend. He was fed and looked after. Then at the good old age of 38 he passed away in the very square where he was supposed to be executed, and buried in state with respect. In the end, he was treasured for choosing to live HIS life HIS way.

Now, if a goose can choose a better life, what’s stopping you?

And these choices don’t have to be huge dramatic ones. It can be smaller choices, little ones you make daily, that assemble into a bigger, better happiness. Like, choosing to rather walk to work and grab a coffee on the way over having to drive to work and sit in the cesspool of road rage. OR, choose to NOT listen to a so-called friend’s narcissistic one-sided conversation dripping with negativity, and instead, rather take your dog for a walk where there’s a two-sided contentment. Choose love over money. Choose your joy over emotional vampires’ need for your energy. Choose to look up good news rather than lapping up the constant drone of doom and gloom fed to you via major news networks. If you’re feeling grumpy with no idea why, choose to find something that will make you smile. Even if it means hitting a punch bag really hard while imagining your boss’s face or that guy at gym that makes you feel inferior. Choose to look for the good in everyone, and if you really can’t find it, walk away from that person and find someone filled with goodness.

The examples are endless and completely based on individual perspective. But whatever you do, aim to choose BETTER.

And when you find your head on the chopping block again, just think: What Would Old Tom Do (WWOTD) 😉

Chat/blog/think soon! And remember, all these views are my own 🙂

JenH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friends can be awesome souls, or total assholes

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Or. Just human. With faults. And we sometimes forget this about them due to our own expectations and models of reality. There’s a saying out there about friends being like seasons, they come and go. When I Googled to find the exact quote, I actually found something that made me smile:

“Friends are like underwear…. Some crawl up your ass… Some snap under pressure… Some don’t have the strength to hold you up… Some get a little twisted… Some are your favourite… Some are cheap and just plain nasty… And some actually do cover your ass when u need them to.” (Unknown quote on searchquotes.com)

I couldn’t have said it better.

We’ve all had good and bad experiences with friends. And lately I’ve been talking to a lot of people whose friendships are going through ‘friend-shifts’. It’s actually happened to me too. And the common denominator was that these friend-shifts happened after one or the other friend’s life changed. Or, the person changed.

Some of us are loyal friends. I know I adore my friends and accept their idiosyncrasies. I can’t always see them as much, because: LIFE (the thing and word that gets all the blame and deserves a blog post later on). And when a friend suddenly turns weird or judgmental, it hurts. You tumble into that immediate inward soul investigation, dissecting all the “why’s” followed by the visceral feels-rollercoaster.

But, if one removes the emotion out of it and take a few steps back, a flashing reminder blinks back at you: we all change. Even if we think we don’t. I like to think most of us evolve, but jeez, some fall into dramatic backslides that leave skid marks on people’s timelines (we’ll focus on the evolving bit though). And as we grow, develop and literally take on new traits from new environments, we’re bound to lose people in our lives. Yet some of us have the ability to love the ‘core’ of a friend’s personality and adapt as they grow. But that also takes a level of maturity and selflessness which is becoming equally scarce in our society, let alone friendships.

Another reminder is that when a friend changes towards you – especially after a big life shift like marriage, career, kids, coming out as LGBTQ, moving to another country, divorce, illness etc. – it’s not always about you. Their loyalty didn’t change towards you, but rather, their loyalty towards what they need from you changed. And that’s not always something within your power to control. You can only control how you react to their role in your friend-shift. And how they react, tells you everything you need to know about that person.

Should we work at maintaining friendships while we grow and evolve? Yes! Having friends is awesome. They can be fun drinking buddies, fellow political commentators, or the close-like-family member you got to choose. People just need to be bit more understanding of each other, because friendships will change. People’s roles in our lives will change. The key is to knowing and loving the core of that person, allowing them to go through their phases of life just like you will, and then meeting each other at life’s pit stops while you freshen up, have a beer, summarize, and take on the next phase.

We need more altruism… And if you look at the meaning it says: “altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare.” It’s the opposite of egoism. And no, you don’t need to be so altruistic that you’re taken advantage of! Not at all. As soon as someone abuses your unselfishness and sucks your energy dry, you don’t just friend-shift, you get the hell outta there.

However, if we can step outside of our ‘precious selves’ more frequently and be aware of our own expectations, I think more friendships will stand the test of time. Friend-shifts will become a team thing as we shift and grow together. Unless that friend becomes a real asshole. Then of course you shift away and allow yourself to attract that underwear-friend willing to cover your ass in this complex world we live in.

Chat/blog/think soon! And remember, all these views are my own 🙂

JenH

Everyone is a special damn snowflake

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Okay, so, not everyone. But when I turn on the news, scroll Facebook or scan Twitter, it feels like our society has become overly entitled, sensitive and mean. I find it so off-putting to watch certain news networks blast their political leaders, celebrities and public in general. They don’t offer actual ‘news’, education or directional information to their viewers – it’s more like watching a primary school bully panel where one commentator tries to outwit the next one, only for it to spiral into a pattern of sarcasm-offended-more sarcasm-again offended-more sarcasm. The discussion quickly wavers from the actual topic to become a “who insulted who best” competition.

One has to really think about posting a personal opinion online without inviting a good possibility of reactionary assault (granted, as long as your view doesn’t propagate violence, abuse or inequality, obviously!). Decent debates are fine, but I’m referring to full-on attacks and trolling. Offering an opinion has become increasingly risky. Why? Well, I personally think people now hide behind screens. Being mean has become too easy because you don’t see the emotional reaction on the person’s face you just insulted. Smartphone and computer screens have become a worldwide mask for people. Sending insults are quick, easy and carry no repercussions for the conscience. And it’s worrying how many are comfortable wearing the mask that can so easily spew cruelty.

The other problem, I feel, is that these masks cut people off from intuition, human connectedness and basic consideration of each other’s feelings. The cold glowing masks allow the festering of selfishness and narcissism without growing regard for one another. It’s all about ‘The Me and I’ as everyone is entitled to an opinion no matter what the repercussions, feelings or experiences are for someone else.

Entitlement has become a pandemic. And what’s so worrying is just how easily people jump into the malicious online pool.

I worry that people just can’t put themselves in someone else’s shoes anymore because being an All About Me Snowflake is too easy. Placing yourself in someone else’s point of view, trying to understand where another person’s coming from seems to be the lesser action taken. Fewer people take a moment before reacting to ask “Why?” and instead it’s about trying to come up with the funniest hashtag or one liner (usually aggressive or nasty).

Are there stupid things said out there? YES! Do we meet people that make you wonder if their ON switch was ever flicked? YES! But does everyone have to be offended when someone says something you don’t agree with? NO. Does everyone have to jump on the mean-bandwagon and dish out insults that lead to – what? What does being mean lead to? Does it make the world better? Does it make YOU as a person better? Does viciously tearing down someone’s opinion or their identity – because the Special Snowflake is entitled to an opinion – make anything better? I don’t think so. I don’t understand how anyone can be impressed with themselves for saying something hurtful to someone else, think they’re funny and brag about it.

Can we aim to shrink the Snowflake Patrol pool? Yes a lot of people say/Tweet/post a lot of senseless things out there. Nobody can fix stupid. But we can disseminate BETTER and uplifting opinions that drown out absurdity. We can choose to ignore/delete/scroll past idiotic rants and offer insightful posts of our own. Or at least humorous ones! And hey, funny memes are awesome. Being able to post thoughts, information and humour online is an incredible tool that can be used for much better things rather than Snowflakes getting offended and trolls tearing down opinions with keypad claws.

I personally don’t have the time or energy to waste on something I really don’t agree with. But I will invest ALL my energy in an effort like this – writing a blog – suggesting that we all try to be just a little nicer to each other in real life, and online. Try remember that behind the cold smartphone mask, chat room and post is a person. A human. With feelings. Take a few moments to think before acting and replying. We can ALL try be better people for each other.

Chat/blog/think soon! And remember, all these views are my own 🙂

JenH

Fresh… New… Real

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Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be. ~ Eckhart Tolle

True words from a master thinker. And here I am – reinventing my personal blog, and getting all serious about it, EVEN THOUGH I’m purposefully using Eckhart’s wisdom to remind myself not to. I guess…when one truly cares, one tends to take things seriously.

I started this site probably about five years ago. It has had a few incarnations, mostly to promote my heart and soul’s work – a trilogy I’d written. I’m still proud of the books and in no way do I feel I should remove ‘older’ posts. I choose to rather see the old posts – leading up to this one – as a journey.

So what’s my intention with this new manifestation?

To share. To think. And to share some more. And to do it all without pretense or the need to ‘impress’ or gain ‘Likes’ or hashtags or whatever the catch-phrases for 2018 will be.

I’ve been an illustrator, designer and writer for 20 years. My clients, friends and family receive the best I can possibly give in talent, energy and guidance. And in return, I receive all of that back in abundance.

But I want to give more. And to do so, I need to write more. Yes of course more books are in the pipeline, however, sometimes I just want to write a brief blog on ‘something’. Whether it’s about life, society (oh gods there can be SO much written about the modern world!), love, existence, spirituality, motivation, questioning, thinking, challenging and then wrapping it all up and redoing it again.

Because I can. And I will.

Along the way I hope to advance a few readers and even receive some input from creative thinkers… And if not. Well. I won’t take it too seriously (I promise, Eckhart!)

Chat/blog/think soon! And remember, all these views are my own 🙂

JenH