Acting True to Yourself

I’ve learned a life lesson courtesy of having interacted with the jewelry vendor.

It’s a lesson I’m reminded of because on my job I deal with books and people every day.

The life lesson comes after years spent trying to conform by working in cubicles in corporate office jobs.

Mid-life is the time to get this schooling right once and for all. You won’t ever be happy trying to be someone you’re not.

This is a FACT in my book of life:

Taking joy in being who you are is the greatest gift you can give yourself. To be who you are when others don’t want you to be this person takes guts and grit. The glory of being you lasts a lifetime. To squander this gift is the greatest tragedy.

 

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My Too Crazy Dream

Seriously. I watched the Nike ad. There’s nothing controversial or offensive about it. You can view it on YouTube.

How could people want to boycott Nike after watching the video?

Why are people who haven’t gone to a gym and haven’t exercised a day in their lives up in arms about the positive empowering message voiced in the video?

Now I can no longer hold the delusion that so-called normal people in America are actually sane.

Why are people affronted that Colin Kaepernick is using his voice to make a difference?

As usual, it’s the people whose faces are a whiter shade of pale that are in opposition anytime a courageous individual advocates for social justice.

Sales of Nike products rose 31 percent after the Kaepernick video was aired. I too intend to buy a second new pair of Nike training shoes.

Yes, I know of what I speak because I lift weights at the gym every week.

The Nike video is incredibly inspiring and uplifting to me of course because it reminds me of the time when I was told my dream wasn’t possible to achieve.

In 1988, I was told the best I could expect was to collect a government disability check for the rest of my life and live in public housing forever.

I didn’t buy that snow job for myself then. I don’t buy what people are still selling today about recovery being an impossible dream for others.

The Nike ad tells viewers not to want to be the greatest athlete on your team or the greatest in America.

You should be The Greatest Athlete Ever.

In this regard the goal for those of us living in recovery isn’t to have succeeded despite having schizophrenia.

My goal is to be The Greatest Christina Bruni Ever.

Your goal should be to be The Greatest ___________________(fill in your name) Ever.

The schizophrenia, whatever your illness is, has nothing to do with this.

To end this blog entry I’m going to quote Colin Kaepernick from the Nike video:

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

 

The Highway To You

At 53, I’ve become more obsessed with fashion than I ever have.

I’ve bought five fashion books either print copies or e-books.

I find myself at odds with the target market of forty and older women profiled in a book like The Women’s Wake-up.

That book should be titled Howdy, Dowdy.

I don’t think those drab-color clothes and suited attire are becoming. At least, I wouldn’t be caught dead in those outfits.

The women profiled in these kinds of books are Baby Boomers. I’m not dissing the women themselves. I’m simply astounded that there’s a dichotomy between how I dress and how most older women dress.

It’s most likely because I was born in 1965–the first year of the Generation X cohort.

What a difference one year makes. I align with the Gen X ethic.

This must be why I abhor acting, thinking, dressing, and living in a one-size-fits-all monochromatic fashion.

My kind of mid-life crisis has involved going shopping: for clothes and a man.

I browse the J.Crew and Banana Republic websites because they have Petite clothes. I look for coupon codes or items sold at a reduced price.

Each of us has the right to do what gives us joy. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or ashamed for liking whatever gives us joy.

Do men who blather on about their cars or gym routines get the kind of grief women are given for expressing our love of fashion?

At mid-life women shouldn’t give up on ourselves. We should embrace our individuality. We should live and think outside the book.

We should honor the unique facets of our personality, which experts now think isn’t fixed and can change over the years.

Lucinda Chambers is quoted in  Know Your Style:  “I think great style is individuality with confidence.” I recommend you buy this book. It’s a treasure trove of information.

In the next blog entry I’m going to give a list of beauty and fashion books that have been like bibles to me at this time in my older life.

I’m 53 and have become a rebel in my older years. A rebel who dresses in chic clothes.

Perhaps you understand what it’s like to live your life left of the dial?

Do you also fear living a monochromatic life?

Yes I say: wear an olive suit if that’s your thing. Wear beige if that would make you happy.

I simply need color. I don’t look alive out there in an ivory sweater.

I don’t follow rules that don’t make sense.

Women, start your engines: today is the day to live boldly.

The highway of life is calling.

Burn rubber, because the past has ended.

Listen to the Paula Cole song “The Road to Me” from the 1990s.

The open road beckons at mid-life.

Another Year Older

2018 sephora

I’m 53 now and I’m still here.

Contrary to the myth that everyone with SZ dies 25 years earlier.

Do I look like I’m ready to kick the bucket?

Going to Sicily is on my bucket list of things to do before my hair turns totally silver.

I’ve decided to get a Sephora makeover once a year at this time.

I was told I have a heart-shape face. So if your face is like mine you might have a heart shape face too: wide forehead and prominent cheekbones and narrow chin.

The rocker chick bangs haircut is courtesy of my new hairdresser: an old school Italian lady. I stopped going to my old hair stylist I’d seen for about nine years.

One day last summer I woke up and couldn’t take how my hair had been cut. I tried to wear a hat to my job because it was August.

“No hat indoors. It’s a sign of disrespect.” The supervisor put an end to my bad hair day cover-up.

Every day was a bad hair day. I just refused to get it cut again until the fall.

On the day after Columbus Day I went to the new hairdresser a Sicilian woman told me about. Finally: a great haircut.

This isn’t a matter of world peace or any other kind of injustice in terms of the significance of having had a bad haircut.

Yet I think all women have been there really not liking how their hair stylist has been going cutting their hair at some point.

Plus my haircut is now thirty dollars cheaper.

Paying too much to look like a bald falcon? I think not. Get yourself to a new hairdresser right away if it’s time for a change.

 

Self Discovery Through Recovery

Easily nine years ago I wrote an article titled Self Discovery through Recovery for a mental health newspaper.

I’m reading the books Born for This and The Economy of You about how to create side gigs for yourself as  a soloist or in addition to a day job. I recommend you read these books too.

In the late 1980s when I first wanted to get a full-time job there was no practical career counseling or career assessment. I got a job as an Administrative Assistant because it was the option that presented itself to me as the best one from the limited choices I had.

My memoir Left of the Dial chronicles how after that early detour in a mental health system and rocky start in a failed gray flannel insurance career I was able to  find a creative job in a field I love.

Recovery gives us the chance to discover ourselves. I was always fond of saying you need to give yourself the gift of a lifetime to make positive changes.

Set a “lifeline” instead of an impossible-to-reach deadline. Read the books I’ve recommended in this blog entry.

Civil rights leader Howard Thurman is quoted:

“Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

This quote sums up a great model for recovery: discovering what gives you joy and going and doing that, like I’ve always advocated for.

The world does need more people who have come alive.

Recovery is the process of coming alive by reinventing yourself and living out your passions every day or as often as you can.

I’ll be 51 in two weeks. I’m living proof that you don’t have to make yourself miserable one minute in a job you don’t like just to pay the bills. You might not discover your dream job until later in life like I did when I was 35. That’s OK. Sometimes you do have to try one or two things or more to figure out the right thing.

The author of Born for This calls this “career shopping” instead of career hopping.

Finding what you were born to do is a great way to be Alive in the World.

Getting Credentials

Years ago SZ magazine featured people who were interviewed about what to do if you have schizophrenia and might have negative symptoms and not be able to work.

The analogy was given that if you like music you could join a band. Flame are professional artists that perform throughout America. No kidding.

I wrote at HealthCentral a news article titled: “Recovery Strategies: Getting Credentials.” It riffed on the ideas in the magazine feature.

What I championed was that you can boost your mood and your confidence by getting credentials. Like anyone else who performs in a field you can claim that title.

A woman who played the piano identified as a pianist. I identified as an athlete because I’m a fitness buff and gym fan.

Really anything positive and healthy that a person does is a form of credentialing. This was an insight I had about how to boost self-esteem.

The moral of this story is that boosting your mood and getting confidence is possible. And it’s not ever too late to try something new.

It wasn’t until I turned 46 that I started to cook from recipes all sorts of delicious food. I even created a lobster roll on my own. I was 46 too when I started to train at the gym.

Thus I make the case for getting credentials.

Christina Bruni’s Future TED Talk

Giving an 18-minute TED Talk has become a phenomenon in recent years. I would talk about something specific if I had the opportunity to give a TED Talk.

Here goes:

What I write springs from my premise that people can recover from mental illnesses. So I write things as if recovery is possible. I’m confident my readers have the capability of trying to create a better life for themselves. This blueprint for living is going to be different for each of us.

I have strong views because I’m stubborn: I refused to believe I couldn’t achieve my goals. I knew that as long as I took action I would achieve what I set out to.

How come I was able to think I could do these things? I didn’t know whether I could: I decided I had to try, because as long as I tried my best, there would be no shame if I failed.

You have to fail: failure is often necessary in order to arrive at a better place in your life. A person should not be afraid to fail big and fail often.

Perfection isn’t the goal. Being certain you’ve done the right things all the time is a false security–and being certain at all times is not the goal either.

Taking action is the goal. Have you heard the 1980s term “paralysis by analysis?” Taking risks is the goal. The more risks you take, the more confidence you get.

You don’t get confident doing nothing. You don’t get confident watching TV all the time. You get confident by taking action even when you don’t have the faith that things will work out. The Zen saying tells us: “Leap, and the net will appear.”

A university professor told his class: “Everyone has an agenda.” Your purpose for being here on earth in this lifetime is your agenda. What is your vision for what you want to do in your life? What is it you want to champion for yourself and others?

Find that purpose–the spark that gives you energy to wake up in the morning. Go do and advance that and you won’t need to be certain of anything. You’ll take action regardless of the result because you believe in your vision.

You won’t always win. It might take you years and years to be successful. That’s okay.

Do what you believe in. Passion is the goal.