Monthly Archives: March 2013

Self-Talkers Anonymous

Self-Talkers Anonymous

Andrea Freedman

Recently, and much to my surprise, a friend of mine caught me talking to myself. He asked me, sarcastically, if I was having a nice chat with myself. Rather than feel embarrassed, I told my friend that yes, as a matter of fact I had been having a nice chat with myself, that was until he interrupted me, and furthermore, that I talk to myself all the time. After all, why would I give up some of my best conversations?

However, I have not always felt this open about talking to myself. Having worked downtown in a large city for many years, I have seen many people walking along the sidewalks, the malls and the underground tunnels. Quite often, these people seem to be involved in deep, sometimes heated discussions – with themselves! I was horrified when I first realized that I was one of them.

In the past, I was conscious not to talk to myself in my laundry room or elevator, or anywhere else with cameras. Granted there are no laws against talking to yourself, but I found the thought of anyone sitting around laughing while watching video footage of me talking to myself quite embarrassing just the same, especially if I really got carried away and started making hand gestures.

I used to imagine how mortified I would be if someone were to come up to me and say “Excuse me, are you aware that you are talking to yourself?” And then one day it dawned on me. Perhaps talking to oneself is something that more people who care to admit actually do, and that maybe it is not so abnormal after all.

Talking to oneself provides an outlet to say what we really wished we could say when we had almost this same conversation, only with someone else. In this day and age when every word has to be politically correct, it is often hard to speak honestly. When we talk to ourselves, we can say all the things we wish we could say but can’t.

Having a talk with yourself can serve as a rehearsal for a discussion you plan to have in the future with someone else and can offer surprising feedback. It can also help us prepare conversations for the occasions when we will have to deal with people we know will leave us feeling irritated and unsettled, people that we would just as soon not run into at all.

Mornings, lunchtimes and brief coffee breaks provide an opportunity to vent, even if no one is listening. Sometimes, a little chat with yourself can put things in perspective.

I have asked myself what all this self-talk is all about. I wonder if most people know themselves well enough to have open, honest conversations with themselves.

Insecurities, isolation, unsettled or fragmented thoughts, as well as stress could be a few possible contributing factors that lead people to talk to themselves.

With so much of our so-called talking in today’s world taking place by way of social media, which is not real talking, it is sometimes nice to hear an actual voice, even if that voice is your own. There could be several reasons for talking to oneself, but does there really need to be one? Perhaps it is time to bring it out in the open and accept that it really is not so terrible. Maybe we can start self-talkers anonymous.

There are many days when I would rather talk to myself than anyone else. As far as I am concerned, it is no wonder that people talk to themselves. I would just as soon not share many of my thoughts with others; if they only knew what was going through my mind, they may actually not wish to talk to me and I may be left with only myself to talk to after all.

I am alone for much of the day, and sad as this is to say, there are very few people that I really trust enough to confide in about the personal details of my life. Who else am I going to talk to, if not myself? One of the benefits of talking to myself is that I don’t have to worry about anyone betraying my confidences or gossiping about my private business.

Many times when I have not stood up for myself, at work or otherwise, I have talked about it with myself afterwards, acting out what I wish I would have said. In my talks with myself I am never walked on, taken advantage of or made to feel bad; it is I who is always the one to put the other person in their place.

I have learned some very interesting things about myself and others as I have hashed things out, out loud, to myself.

Fortunately, most of the talking I do with myself occurs when I am home alone, although I have occasionally been interrupted by my husband, when I’ve become so engrossed in a conversation with myself that I have actually forgotten that he is home. Lately, I have been hearing him talking while he is in the shower. “Were you talking to me?” I ask. “No,” he replies in horror. “You got me talking to myself!”

Maybe it’s contagious and maybe, talking to ourselves is simply the best and least expensive form of therapy. There are no side effects either – not unless you count the curious or confused stares from strangers, which could be avoided by remembering to keep talking to ourselves under control when out in public.

As I walked by a woman the other day, I caught the tail end of what I realized was her conversation with herself. Not soon after, another lady I do not know started singing to herself while waiting with me for the elevator and continued to do so for my entire ride with her. Somehow singing out loud is thought to be more acceptable by some people than talking to themselves.

The point is talking to yourself is actually not so out of the ordinary, so I wish we could just do it freely without being questioned or judged. It is so prevalent that perhaps it should become the norm, something people should feel comfortable doing without fear of judgement.

The next time a friend or anyone else asks me, sarcastically or otherwise, if I am having a nice chat with myself, my response will be “Do you mind? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of a conversation?”♠

Copyright © 2013 by Andrea Freedman

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A Perfect Ten, Seven Times and Counting

A Perfect Ten, Seven Times and Counting

Andrea Freedman

As I look at the green decorations and party hats adorning the stores in anticipation of this upcoming weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day, I am reminded of yet another special day. This St. Patrick’s Day, which happens to fall on a Sunday so people can really enjoy it, also happens to be my mother’s seventieth birthday.

My mom may not be too happy with me at first when she discovers that I announced her age to the world, especially since until recently, I have rarely heard her express concern about turning another year older. Nevertheless, believe it or not, even at the age of seventy, she is actually, in a word, hot, and deserving, I think, of having that fact celebrated.

When people see my mother they can hardly believe how good she looks, and not just for her age. She proves that going to the gym and being diligent about good skincare and healthy eating habits really do make a difference and that defying some of the possible effects of aging really can be done. And no, it does not only have to be reserved for the likes of Jane Fonda and other such celebrities.

Men still flirt with her and women pay her frequent compliments. When we are out together, it sometimes seems as though people are surprised to learn we are mother and daughter, perhaps because she is so much more put together than I am, and never afraid to wear the latest fashions or bold colours. It is only fitting that she was born on St. Patrick’s Day; she makes everyone else, young and old, green with envy.

When I was little I thought I had the prettiest mother in the world. I now realize that my mother is not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well. She cares deeply about her close friends and family and has taught her kids to be honest and straightforward and to stand up for ourselves and those we love.

Romance is not only for the young but also for the young at heart and her relationship with my dad, to whom she has been married for forty-eight years, is a great example of how love, laughter and depth of caring for another person can enrich our lives and help keep us feeling and maybe even looking young and more alive.

My mom was only twenty-three years old when I was born. When I think of myself at that age, I cannot imagine someone that inexperienced and immature having children, let alone being married.

Our family has done a lot of growing up over the years and it has been nice, after knowing her for forty-six years, to watch my mom become cooler. Whereas when I was a teenager there were certain things I would not dream of discussing with my mother, it is liberating to me that now there is almost nothing I could say that would shock her.

My mom will always be beautiful no matter how many birthdays she has. I think once the day passes she will be better able to accept it. She really does not seem any older to me, either by her looks, energy or her vivacious personality and spirit. I cannot help being proud of my mother as well as optimistic for my own future. I am grateful to her and the good genes she has hopefully passed on to me.

Reaching and celebrating a milestone birthday is a time to reflect on all of one’s accomplishments and experiences. Turning seventy, or any age for that matter, does not mean that a woman has to start dressing matronly, stop caring about grooming or that one has to hang up his or her running shoes and watch their waist line expand.

This St. Patrick’s Day, raise your glass of green beer to my beautiful mother. She is an inspiration and a reminder that it is possible to look, and feel, like a perfect ten, not only for all of life’s milestones but also for each and every day in between.♦

Copyright © 2013 by Andrea Freedman

Style, What Style?

Andrea Freedman

Being in the corporate workforce for so many years not only dictated but actually defined the style of my wardrobe. Since I have left that world to become a full-time, stay-at-home writer, I find myself having difficulty making the style transition from business to casual while still maintaining a presentable image.

There was a time when I prided myself on my work wardrobe and furthermore, all the compliments I garnered from my co-workers on how well I put myself together. Towards the end of working in the office, I found putting a business suit together almost unbearable. Now, there are some days when it is almost as if I forget to get dressed before going out in public. In the past I would have said “I wouldn’t be caught dead looking like that.” As it turns out, I actually would.

Fashion faux pas and lack of grooming on other women used to be things I would turn my nose up at. Ironically, I fear that I am now guilty of that behaviour myself. As someone who used to consciously have at least three weeks’ worth of different outfits to put together, complete with accessories, I am now repeating the same clothing items sometimes two or three times in a week.

My clothing budget of the past has been, for the time being, done away with, but when I am ready to shop again, what will I purchase next? After years of working in an office and looking at a closet filled with business attire, I find myself at a loss as to what to wear. I used to automatically choose a skirt or pair of pants and a blazer; it was almost as if I had a uniform, only I didn’t know it at the time.

In a further effort to save money and continue staying home, I have learned to do my own manicures and pedicures. Even those of us with the best intentions of saving money but keeping up with our beauty regimens just the same can fall to the wayside. Before I knew it, my nails looked so uneven and rough that I hoped no one would notice them. When I caught myself stepping outside in open toe shoes with unpolished toe nails, I knew I had let things get too far.

There are some days when I don’t bother changing out of my pyjamas until mid afternoon and the other day I had to stop and ask myself if I had had a shower. These kinds of things would have been unheard of before.

I used to keep up with fashion trends but as I have no guaranteed income at the moment, rather than updating my wardrobe with new pieces that are stylish yet casual, trying to incorporate pieces from my former work clothing into my new style has been fun but at times quite challenging.

Eventually my existing wardrobe will be out of style but for now I am determined to not shop for more clothes.

When you are working at home and not seeing other people, it sometimes seems pointless to worry about how you look. Having said that, if you still go outdoors regularly even for a daily walk, you might find yourself saying, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m out in public.” You never know who you are going to see.

I can hardly believe some of the outfits (and I use the term loosely) that I have been wearing. Some of them don’t even match and I often put on the same jeans and t-shirt that I wore the previous day. I have even fallen into the trap of trying to pass off athletic wear posing as real clothes.

Where I used to allot extra time in the morning to carefully apply make-up, I now cannot even remember the last time I needed to buy make-up, or the last time I spent more than two minutes putting it on.

One day I found myself outside having actually forgotten to wear a bra. Not to mention the black roots which were so prominent in my hair, since I had neglected to stick to my regular appointments at the salon I normally frequent.

Footwear used to play a huge part in my wardrobe and my life. I was someone who loved to buy new shoes or boots and now that I am out of my high heels the casual footwear I currently sport sometimes feels slightly frumpy.

There is a fine line between appearing casual and unkempt. I wonder what my old friends at the office would say if they saw how I dress today. Would they envy me my haphazard clothing choices or would the sight of my new so-called style disgust them?

A change in career or lifestyle often also comes with a change in style altogether, whatever that new style may turn out to be. Sometimes those changes can be drastic but that does not mean that we should forget all fashion sense whatsoever.

Hopefully, over time, I will transition my wardrobe into something acceptable, perhaps even fashionable. Until then, I will be sure to give myself a once over in the mirror before I leave the house.♦

Copyright © 2013 by Andrea Freedman