I was waiting in line at the grocery store the other day and the 2 women in front of me were wearing shirts with bra straps showing. I was thinking, at what point in the last few years did it become “acceptable” to show your bra straps? I’m old so I remember the days when showing a bra strap was beyond tacky… it was a signal that you were not a “lady”.
But now… these 2 middle-aged women were not only showing their straps… they were at the grocery store where everyone could see them! It made me stop and think about how ideas (as well as fashion) change and become ‘socially acceptable.’
Preconceived Notions vs. Independent Thinking
The idea of whether bra straps show or not is, of course, relatively meaningless. But I hope you see that the same social norm that said, in the 1970’s, that short skirts were ‘unacceptable’ and rebellious, now accepts both short skirts and showing bra straps.
If we take this idea of what is socially acceptable to broader ideas… it can be useful to monitor our own thinking. What is one idea that you have, that is outdated? or unhelpful? or that everyone around you thinks is okay but you feel is wrong? or that makes you uncomfortable? Are there ideas or norms that you rub you the wrong way? Sometimes we don’t even realize it until we stop and really think about it. The other complicating factor is, how do we acknowledge our own position (that’s different from many others around us), without being judgemental of others?
Here’s My Broader Idea: We’re In This Together
I believe that I have an obligation to give back to the world in tangible ways. That I have a responsibility to:
- find people to help in a way that fits with what I have to give
- focus on being grateful for all the gifts I have
- be aware of the needs of those around me
- take steps every day to be present for everyone I meet
What’s that got to do with bra straps? I don’t know. Somewhere in my strange brain they’re connected. I have always been someone who doesn’t care much for what other people think. And finding my own way in the world is hard because it’s always easier to follow the crowd. But I’m not good at that. I hope this gives you a chance to stop for a minute and think about… your broader idea. I hope you have the courage and strength to follow through. I believe in you.
Photo credit: bra straps showing 70’s short skirts
Picking Your Friends?
How do you pick your friends? Because I’m old and have had the chance to meet a lot of people, I probably have a big database in my head and heart that tells me who to trust. I’m not saying that my judgement (database) is better than anyone else’s, I’m just saying I’ve had a lot of practice. But honestly, I’ve never really thought about my ‘process’ for picking friends. So, for today, let’s think about how we pick our friends and let’s start with…
Pick Yourself First
I read an article in Quora (a site I love, full of interesting Q’s & A’s), that talked about how the Torah gives us instructions as how to recognize a person’s true nature. Here’s what it says:
[The true nature of] a person is recognized through three things: his ‘cup’ (how he acts after drinking), his ‘wallet’ (his business integrity and how he spends his money), and his ’anger’.
I’m not suggesting that there are no other criteria for evaluating friendships. Of course there are. But let’s take these 3 and let’s apply them first to ourselves.
- Regarding drink, I come from a long line of alcoholics. Fortunately, I am not one, but we do need to view this particular aspect gently.
- The second item, the wallet, also needs to be thought of rather gently. I grew up lower middle class in an upper middle-class suburb. The way I saw and still see the world is through a rather skewed lens. I think about the future and want to make sure I have ‘enough’ to take care of the people I love and myself. The one think I do cherish though, is my commitment to helping those less fortunate than myself. I try to put my time and money to use in a world where so many, need so much.
- Regarding anger, this is a constant struggle for me. I am a woman and women aren’t supposed to get angry. We’re supposed to stuff it down and act calm and sweet. This is not a healthy way to go through life. Finding a way to acknowledge and deal with our anger is, for me, a life long journey.
So I suggest that before we work to ‘recognize’ anyone else’s nature, we examine our own.
My Friend’s True Nature?
Fortunately, most people are pretty generous when it comes to accepting me the way I am. I’m grateful for that. I hope that’s because I’m on a continuous journey to know myself and recognize my own true nature.
Image credit: Pinterest
Everyday, I test to see how comfortable I am. Seems kind of odd right? I’m human, of course I am looking for comfort. But being fully human means going beyond your own comfort, to do things we may not want to do… for all kinds of reasons. Some of us wait until we are pushed into the discomfort zone, for example, we get an illness that requires us change our diet or medications. We don’t like it, but we do it because we have to.
What if we decided that, everyday, we are going to do something we are not comfortable with, just for practice. I don’t mean at work. That doesn’t count. Each of us are expected to be outside our comfort zone at work. (It’s often the reason we get paid.) I mean doing the exact thing you hate. Like taking a walk before breakfast. Listen, I love breakfast, it’s my favorite meal and I look forward to it everyday. So the idea of going for a walk, before I do what I want? Sounds stupid. Yet, I do it every day. Here’s why. I knew that I needed to build exercise into my life. Not the, oh I’m going to the gym for 4 months, then I stop, exercise. The kind that I would do day in and day out. So I got a dog that needs to walk, every. day. Regardless of the weather. Regardless of my mood. There are many days when I don’t feel like going out. Too bad. We gotta go. And the last thing I want to do is go for a walk, before my favorite meal of the day. Right?
Getting a dog is a pretty drastic way to get “uncomfortable.” So what can you do to be, a little less comfortable, every day.
- Read something challenging – either to your beliefs or your intellect. This will take work because most of us have a set of sources we read. Certain news sources, authors, etc. We talk to people who agree with us. Find one source of discomfort and spend 5 minutes a day.
- Don’t complain – Complaining seems to be a regular way of life. There’s a difference between relaying information and complaining. You know the difference, especially when you are on the receiving end of listening to someone else. One is stating the facts, the other is laced with “poor me” and how could this happen to me? Catch yourself before you complain. Just. don’t. do. it.
- Do something for someone else that they don’t expect – This will also take work. It will require you to think about someone else long enough to imagine what they would like. I don’t mean making your kid’s lunch or your spouse’s dinner. I mean something unexpected. Something that actually takes effort on your part.
Like all habits, they take energy and focus to cultivate. But when I’ve managed to make it part of my mindset, it’s like… walking before breakfast.
Photo Credit: Reflection of Wee Westie