21 blog posts series find fifteen

21 blog posts series find fifteen

Fifteen: “Being kind to your body and in turn, yourself”

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Body Image Movement’s Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary film “Embrace”. I would highly recommend seeing this as a woman, as it brings about the feeling of acceptance of yourself and appreciation of other women. The piece expressed simply joys within celebrating our differences in a completely positive way by hearing personal stories while exposing the harsh realities of plastic surgery, dieting and the role of mass media. The documentary covered continents and we met some very different people along the way, but the one topic of embedded negativity towards body image prevailed. Some exposures were made of the darkness within the modelling world and the film also looked to aging and how this is seen as something to be tackled instead of embraced.

A magazine editor and a fashion photographer were also met with, who exposed the harsh truths of the unbelievable power of photo-shop as well as the often cruel world of designers as well as the misleading terms used in fashion, such as “plus sized” describing a UK size 12 woman, who fit in with average sized weight and height guidelines set. It’s a crazy different world that we’re exposed to and shown as normal every single day. The picture perfect model was often described as an “alien” due to the fact that with the work of photo-shop, this woman actually did not exist in terms of looking how she does in the magazine.

Every issue that came up from the women who told their stories, (who are incredible in their own right, I might add simply as modern women) – was rooted in beauty standards we see as normal and set in our world. Depression, self-harm and even a near suicide arose as difficulties faced when these women felt they didn’t fit the mould for what a woman should look like and in turn, be – with such a high value placed on appearance in our social norms. We are sold an idea through the mass media of how we should look like, what’s in trend this season and what new fad diet can “change your life” in order to make things better.

Taryn showed how indeed, even when you’ve reached the “perfect body”, (the bikini body example we are all too familiar with) that there’s absolutely no guarantee that this will result in happiness. It all comes back to positive versus negative thinking around our bodies and which outweighs the other. These fad diets promote negative thinking towards body image and can develop into obsession that is in no way healthy. I think in the way that these diet plans work and hook a person, we are taught the idea that the body you have is something bad that needs correcting or to be fixed and worked on. But that simply isn’t the case.

Naturally, your body goes through changes throughout your life. The documentary also went about looking into our war we have with aging and this embedded fear that the beauty companies are cashing in on. It made me realise that whatever stage you’re at in life, your body is going to be with you regardless, so really – you don’t want to put yourself against it. Bring it back to asking simply, why would you want to do that?

As a woman, you can undergo pregnancy and your weight can and will fluctuate, how does it make logical sense to hate your body for doing what it does and should do naturally? For creating your family and providing your baby with the nourishment he/she needs and craves. Now, going on a health kick for yourself from time to time is something good in order to feel refreshed and energised, resulting in proven health benefits but really the idea of punishment – this has no place in your workout routine.

It’s okay to treat yourself and it’s okay to work hard on you, it’s not okay to feel bad about either of these. We need to change our mentality around weight and weight loss. The celebrity diets and the scandalous headlines about losses or gains cannot continue to influence us. It lacks dignity and respect for the minds and souls of women as individuals. So I suggest approaching the magazines with caution, be aware on social media for negative body imaging or messages and allow this natural and positive change into your life. Your body will stick with you no matter what, as a friend rather than a foe.

If you wish to find out more about the Body Image Movement, check out the website here: https://bodyimagemovement.com/.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

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21 blog posts series take thirteen

21 blog posts series take thirteen

Thirteen: “Appreciating sport and athleticism”

Sport means something, that’s what I’ve come to learn. Whether it be the community hall annual table tennis tournament, the premier league or even the junior league. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, team or individual – sport has a deserving place in our lives. Love it or hate it, I feel that you can’t help but admire it. The fact that individuals go to lengths to better their skills and abilities, commit to a team or even follow various ones, it shows a dedication that’s something to think positively about.

Now in all honesty I may not wholeheartedly love a certain team or sport fully, but I do enjoy watching how passionate others are about it and of course the inclusion of those of every age. This comes as I remember the most read article on this blog, a piece from two years ago I did on a football game and triumph from an underdog team locally here in Wicklow. I link to that post here: (https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/newtown-united-come-out-of-their-shells/).

That game was something incredible to be witness too, particularly in the celebratory time afterwards you could really just see and feel how much it meant to everyone and that has stayed with me since. When I was younger I pretty much tried every sport under the sun to see what would stick. There were a few faithful favourites but even now I know I could never be as good again as I once was. This month marks ten years since I competed in the Irish Gymnastics national championships in Belfast and was placed 8th in trampolining. My only claim to sporting fame, really seems like a lifetime ago.

I’ve friends and family who always think back to the sport that was theirs in their youth and there’s often a sense of regret that we didn’t stick at it. I understand that but it’s okay to accept that circumstances change and life moves on and sometimes sport can get mixed up in all of that. Facilities come into play as well as the time you have available to commit to these things. It’s tougher than it may seem and I think these athletes that give it their all week in and week out are champions in their own right for simply doing this and training hard.

When you look at the bigger tournaments like the Olympics or World or European Championships, you can’t help but admire the athletes coming from across the globe to represent themselves and their country in so many sports. I really think that sport is something simple to unite a country rather than segregate it. I know there’s such a thing as hooliganism and often cases of racism in sport, but for the majority of supporters – they’re simply involved to follow a team and to purely enjoy seeing what their men or women do best.

Athleticism is something excellent. Whether you work out alone in the gym or you show up for your team each week on the field, you’re doing something worthwhile in my view. Not only is being active rewarding for your mental and physical health, it’s something that sets an example for others. I’d love to have a personal trainer just to be in awe of what he or she can do and push others to do as well.

There’s money to be made in sport and I know there are plenty of various outlets cashing in on it but I don’t think it’s all bad. People feel good wearing the emblem of their team or the colours of their country and that little bit of pride goes a long way. The support is so rewarding for athletes that it can nearly be seen on their faces. So go to the matches, watch it on TV, clutch the match day programme tight – because you’re involved in something good that’s unique and special in its own right.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts series six

21 blog posts series six

Six: “Loss happens and plays a role”

As I’ve gotten older and I suppose in some sense matured, I’ve started appreciate the role that the happening of loss plays in our lives. Life is a fragile thing, even when it doesn’t feel that way all of the time. I’ve experienced loss in my life, I only know of a few people who are yet to experience it. Circumstances play a part in terms of where to place blame on the sadness and even anger that you feel from loss. But sometimes the circumstance isn’t great and the loss simply shouldn’t have happened.

I think loss rattles us and brings up feelings you never even knew you had in you. This year and late last year I saw two dear friends experience loss and both had completely different situations that brought about the loss. But it was interesting then in contrast to see how both of my friends  has similar experiences in terms of how to possibly deal with the emotions of loss.

I write this on Mother’s Day, thinking of those I love who don’t have their mother to spend this day with. It’s something incredibly hard because that person who was once in your life is truly irreplaceable. No matter the individual strength of the relationship between mother and child, it is something that holds importance and is special in its own way.

When it comes to loss, I would firstly say that it’s something that happens and is something we must accept as part of life without a choice in the matter. I know that’s crappy and doesn’t really have a lot of positives but maybe, there’s something good to take from that about appreciating the time you have with a loved one. When somebody dies we are left with memories to cherish and hold dear, which of course we all do in our own way.

But for those left behind, death acts as a reminded of the frailty we are faced with. It gives the renewed chance to try our best to appreciate the time we spend each day, month or every once and a while with the ones we love and maybe even make more of an effort to appreciate that the power is in our hands to make the time for people that deserve it, be they family or friends.

Always place value on those around you that we may be sometimes guilty of taking for granted. It’s really about recognising that fact that you’ll truly miss these people when they’re gone and vice versa. Make the most of your time with them and create the memories yourself as I think we all have a role to play.

A slam poet I know recently realised a video for his spoken word poem that deals with appreciating our mothers and the role they play in our lives, demanding our love and respect for simply being themselves. The Irish Times did a feature on it too and I think it’s something spectacular, having seen him perform it himself. Follow the link here: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/watch-mother-s-day-video-reminds-us-we-are-only-given-one-mother-1.3023336?mode=amp

We have a bit of a habit here in Ireland of not talking about the difficult things and I think death and how the ways that people die come into that. I get that it’s uncomfortable and we create these nicknames and things as escapism from reality. But, from what I’ve seen and experienced of it – dying by suicide is the worse than death as a result of any disease. It leaves behind a heavier grief, an impossible one. So please, if you’re having any form of suicidal thoughts be they big or small, seek the help that you deserve and should get. Your life is as valuable as anybody else’s.

http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie/about-mental-health/common-problems/mental-health-problems/suicidal-thoughts/

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/different-ways-you-can-get-touch/what-happens-when-i-email

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

Turning corners

Bottle the problem,
Capture it

enclose it away
Turn to the bottle, it has the answer

You have to get to the bottom of it
Lock you up

There’s a screw not turning

In a man so focused on fixing
Those around him

Coming down hard

Like the shard of glass
That he probably used that time,

They all do that don’t they?

It’s expected and weirdly accepted
Swept away, like the glass I lose to the floor every time I work in the bar.
We let things go on too far

before we do what we can

We clear it away.

It’s gone, everything is perfect again.
Until the next time.

This inevitable unknown that’s just around the corner,

Comes once you are on the wrong road.
Don’t leave the paths you know,

Don’t branch out and try to live.

Stay set stay put,

It’s the only way.
You may be a misery,

But at least it’s not clinical

Not this time.
I wonder when the next corner will come?

Out of nowhere and send the vehicle overturning, spinning out of control.
The road is never known