Tuesday, 17 October 2017

About Our Stories

Media exploded with stories about Harvey Weinstein and the affair continues to flow with added topics like hashtag Me Too. It may feel like there was enough said and written. But I am compelled to talk.

When Harvey Weinstein's story came out not many people were surprised. He was probably unlucky that it was him who was named and dragged through press. I believe there are many others. Powerful men who used their position to their advantage and quite possibly considered it absolutely fine. He is probably feeling like the world is unfair. He may be genuinely surprised that the fact that he helped so many women isn't recognised. Women, huh? All about mixed signals, ambitions, flirting... how is a man supposed to read them? Why aren't they grateful for what they have? If it was so bad for them, why were they quiet for so long?

I grew up in mens' world. I took it for granted that men held power, had authority and behaved in a certain way. Men ruled our world for centuries. White men ran the world to be specific. For a long time women and minorities seemed to know their place. The world is changing and it is hard for them to grasp it. I do hope that Weinstein's story will make a mark in our history, that the attitudes will change and we will move closer towards equality.

I didn't consider it wrong to learn early in life to be careful. My point of view was that it is easier for me to take control of my safety than it would be for some random bloke or a very sick individual to take control over his hormones or ideas. When young women recently came out with statements about victim shaming and our right to wear whatever and go out and get drunk; I shrugged and thought about snowflakes. But after last week I can see that there is nothing wrong with demanding our voice to be heard, with ending the shame game and moving towards solutions instead.

I was led by men, I was used by men. I made mistakes. I saw it as my own failure. I thought it was my fault. I was never abused or raped so I considered myself lucky. But I was made uncomfortable and sometimes went further than I wanted. Last week reminded me about my past dark experiences. And I do understand a lot more now. I was young and eager to go ahead. I also wanted to be valued. And of course I wanted a great relationship.
Men are good at leading us on, manipulating, playing power game. Where we are eager to please they see a right to have whatever they want and only the best. It may have to do with our upbringing, the way boys are strong leaders and girls are polite and 'nice'.
Men build strong friendships and they are loyal. If someone like Harvey boasted to his friend about his latest adventure, chances are he would get a high five and be told that he is 'the man'. Either his friend would honestly think that or he would feel like he should. Even if he had doubts he would think that he better man up and strive for being the top dog. And so the culture could thrive.
The woman involved would most likely feel ashamed. Chances are she wouldn't tell her mum because her mum would quite likely consider it to be her fault - she led him on, she was asking for it. Her friends may not be very supportive, too. They may pass the story on and start a bad gossip. They may make her feel more at fault. Women are competitive, even as friends. Some may go through similar ordeal and would never dream about sharing the story. They may put the negativity into other woman's experience and make her feel bad for both of them. So silence seemed to be the easy option for long.

It isn't easy to come to term with experience like that. Boundaries are blurry. But we are talking and it is good. Women need to man up and stand up for themselves, men need to 'woman up' and think about other peoples' feelings. That is of course simplifying it, but it is my take on what we can learn from scandals and hashtags. I am glad that we are moving forward. And I wish all the best to the incredible people who got themselves through tough times.

Monday, 14 August 2017

The World I Want to Live In

Coming home after holiday with a voluntary withdrawal from news and twitter is a little bit like a slap on the face. Once you unpack and get over the glorious deliciousness of your own bed, you switch on the TV, computer, twitter feed... and you wish you could stay in the world of holiday - a world where you wonder around places, pose for photos, allow your child more ice cream than usually, meet new or old people and simply enjoy yourself.

Now you wonder whether there will be world war  3 any time soon, why do politicians not get useful, feel guilty about that holiday air miles and the bottles of water you consumed while sightseeing....

I found myself lying down in bed imagining a world I would love to live in and leave behind for my child and her children... It would be much simpler world. People would think differently. Money wouldn't be the main motivator and success would not be measured by how much you have and what you own. Therefore we would desire less. And less consumption would give us a chance to do much more useful things with our time. We would naturally want to protect the world we live in. Plastic or any material that can not be reused or efficiently recycled wouldn't be considered for use, no matter how cheap it is to produce (money isn't the king, remember?). There would be no islands of plastic swimming in the sea, no bags scattered across the countryside. Wild life would be respected.
In my perfect world, we would appreciate natural resources and share them equally. Water, soil, energy, animals, forests, they would be respected, not used for profit and destroyed without guilt. We would share this world with respect to each other and all living things.

Wealth would be shared, people would live their lives without borders, respect one another. Your colour or religion would be your business, perfect world would be a tolerant one. Important issues such as health and education would be considered first, people would work together, politicians would care and so would the people in charge. There would be no need to bow to big businesses, greed would be limited as money and profit would be much less important. What a world we could have....

We all have dreams, don't we?

Monday, 6 February 2017

0 weeks to go

Last year, I counted 40 weeks to my 40th birthday. I just wanted to know. Deep inside, I assumed that I will take these 40 weeks and transform myself: sort my unfinished things to prove that I am grown up enough for the next decade and put my body into a shape reminding me of my late 20s (ha ha on that one) or at least back before daughter was born.

I didn't realise that I will still be sleep deprived, that starting nursery will take its toll, that I will be depressed and undecided whether I should grab my life and transform it or carry on with trying for another baby, miscarrying, worrying, crying..... I still don't know. And as yet, 40 weeks past, I am not a new better version of myself. I am myself. I am working on my novel day by day. I get my house in order every morning and going to nursery is fun, not an issue anymore. I meditate and exercise, I can go to swim once a week which is an unbelievable luxury for a full time mother (as is anything you can do for and by yourself - 15 hours childcare a week is a blessing).

I am not panicking about time running out. I don't think I worry about getting old, although I do see a wrinkle or a grey hair every now and then and my weight doesn't seem to be moving in any way. It is just sitting high, too high. I put it on after full time breastfeeding, while still sleep deprived, eating too much basically. The food substitutes bad sleep and there is too much bad or no sleep. That is it.

I will be 40. I never had list of goals, I was lucky, life was good, things were happening. I am a different person. Life seems more stationary, settled. It is a good thing. I don't like people who insist staying in their twenties mode, who don't want to grow up and change. I reflect more now. Reaching 20, I was looking forward. The only backward glance was towards the realisation that I didn't make it as far in the modelling industry as I once hoped and I knew that 20 was more or less the threshold. Once my booker said I would be great to play the mums in TV ads, I knew I can pack it. Only years later was I happy about the fact I never made it to the desired measurements which wouldn't be possible in any way for a woman of my height - to have as narrow hips as imagined by designers I would somehow have to change the structure of my hips as I was not fat (although I was called fat many a times). It was nice not to have to dream about loosing 10 kilos I never needed to loose, to give it all a finger. It hurt at the time, it is so not important now.

 I remember how happy I felt after 30. I finally had stable relationship, I could make plans for my future. I was very happy in my skin. All of my late teens and twenties, any other female around was a competition, even a friend. By 30, I lost the need to be the prettiest girl in the room, the slimmest and tallest and best and most popular one... I was happy to pass the baton and watch the new girls to steal the limelight and I didn't care. I wished them well but I could finally see how little it all matters. Being first in anything is nice but it doesn't mean that it makes one happy, there is much more to that. Only in my thirties did meditation, reflection and silence make sense to me and I started needing it.

So what will 40 bring? Everything changed in the last decade and I can afford a little bit of nostalgia now, but looking to the future is tricky. Around 30, there was a map - finding love and moving in together would logically lead to things like setting up home, building a career in a new country and hopefully starting a family. Now this is all done. So what can I look forward to? How will our relationship continue? Most aspirations and worries are for my daughter, not for me, I know I will manage. I just want to be healthy and find a way to fulfil myself. As for looks, I want to be strong and happy in my body, I don't want to go back to my 20s thank you very much. I am still learning to live in my post baby body, realising what I can  and what I can not do for real, not because of lazy excuse... But what will I be really managing in the next decade remains to be seen...

Monday, 16 January 2017

My TV Moments 2

   It is already a year since BBC started showing War And Peace. It was very well made. I know I am pretty late writing about it, but here I go.

   There is a scene where Natasha, a young but poor aristocrat, goes to a ball with her family. It is important as young girls were introduced to society, met their suitors, marriages were arranged, lots depends on the way how Natasha will be accepted. Yet they stand there and they are being avoided. Even old friends, now young men who know what it means to be seen with someone, avoid eye contact. There is no money for them in that match. And Natasha's face goes from happy and excited to very anxious. And her parents' faces tense more and more even though they knew on arrival it may not go well. But they hope that their family's fortune will turn.

   It reminded me about my own youth, the anxiety around boys, the unending popularity contest, the hope to fall in love and experience romance....

   But then Andrei Bolkonsky shows up. And he is handsome. And rich. And from a great family. He is the best possible suitor for many girls there. He looks like most girls in any century would love their first love to look.
   He sees her and doesn't pretend she isn't there. He goes straight to her. He asks her to dance. He takes her hand. And very slowly, they get into position and start to dance. They dance and everyone can see them but they can only see one another.

   As this scene was unravelling, I was getting more and more emotional. Because the scene had the perfection of a love scene, the atmosphere of first love, it had everything I remember from the times when a boy's look could give me butterflies. It had so much romance and so much hope in it. And I realized in that moment that I will never feel like this again, that this time of my life is long time over and I didn't realize it. Only then, watching Natasha and Andrei dancing did I realize all of that. It didn't make me sad, of course that I moved on, but it made me super nostalgic and aware of all the years that passed and how different I am from the girl I once was.
   There are no more illusions, no more great hopes. There is stability and a relationship I don't have to fret about, a partnership and a family, so I do have my happy end, I am not writing about this because of sadness. It was only made so that it stirred these emotions in me and made me think how much I actually lived. As well as caring for the characters, of course, and waiting for their story to continue (and it didn't go well for them, sadly).

   So that is it, my big TV moment from year ago, which stayed with me for so long and I which I won't forget. For a while after that I went through a bit of 90s nostalgia, listening to old music and watching old videos, remembering old shows and the fashion, how much more normal everyone looked back then (no botoxed up fake hair orange looks and every character in every story perfected to abnormality, no reality tv, less political correctness...). I thought the world would change a lot for the better, yet all through last year I thought people are still the same, nothing is changing, same mistakes keep happening, issues are more or less the same and we are not better or wiser... Oh well. At least now I know that and can carry on with my life and hope that my daughter's ideals will end up better one day.....