Saver or spender?

It’s heading towards the end of the year and many of us will soon receive our Christmas bonus.

It’s time for beach holidays and Christmas gifts. School fees and clothes for 2017 still feel many weeks away and are next year’s problems.

Guilt-inducing financial planning

Soon a guilt-inducing financial planning article is bound to catch your eye. You will be told how you should save your bonus for school fees and invest the rest for retirement.

But what’s the fun in that?

If you are a saver, you will feel satisfied when you look at your growing account balance and displeasure when you need to spend money. However, if you are a spender (like many of us) and you look at life as something to enjoy, you may buy on impulse and worry about your growing debt later.

Extreme savers may have regrets later in life, but it’s also important to put something away for a rainy day.

Spenders can use the following tactics to help them cut back:

1. Limit your credit card usage and try to use it only for emergencies. Forking out cash will help you realise how much you are actually spending.
2. Withdraw cash from your bank account, so that you can see the dwindling balance.
3. Pay for everything as it comes and you will start to understand how your money “just gets away” from you.
4. Set personal savings goals and tell your friends and family, so that they can hold you accountable.
5. Reward yourself when you reach your goals, but only by spending a responsible percentage of what you’ve saved.
6. Ask yourself before every purchase whether you truly need the item. Know the difference between needs and wants.
7. Consider the future, even if this makes you uncomfortable. Think about how much money you will need to retire and how you will pay for your child’s college education.

Savers

If you are a saver, you will sometimes go without things you really need, because money in the bank is more satisfying to you than anything you could ever buy. You rarely have a credit card balance and you astonish others with the savings you’ve managed to build up over the years, even though you just earn an average salary.

But are you missing out in life through your frugality?

Tips for savers to loosen the purse strings:

1.When it is time to do something pleasurable like go on a vacation, distance yourself from the stress of spending by paying with a credit card. You’ve got the cash to cover it, so now you can take your mind off the expense and relax.

2.Treat your purchases as a reward for something you’ve done well, so that they take on more value in your mind.

3. Tell yourself that you also deserve pleasure.  Think about your future and if you really want to have regrets one day about not doing things, simply because you would not spend any money on enjoyment?

You only live once, but sufficient cash will ensure that it’s a good life. So, spend some of that Christmas bonus, but also put some away for next year and the years to come.

The saddest regret

An increasing number of mothers are coming forward and stating that they wish they never had their children.

They describe motherhood as a life-altering mistake and middle-class prison.

I cannot imagine life without my boys, therefore I can only feel sorry for these women (and some men). Some of them also make me angry…

Reasons

Many do have legitimate reasons, such as complex emotional problems and lives. Many women do become pregnant by accident.

However, plenty of people also seem to regret having their children for purely selfish reasons.

  • There’s the father who has to use anti-depressants, because he can’t face the fact that his one year old has needs which have to be satisfied before his own. He wants his life to go back to the way it was before he had a kid.
  • There’s the mother who feels she would have written 3 books by now if she had not had her kids. Surely she should have considered before having kids that she would now have less time for such pursuits, at least while the kids are small? And then are those ladies who feel they would have been much further along in their careers, but the children are holding them back…
  • You also get your outright narcissistic and abusive parents. One young lady was abused by her mother who also decided she did not want kids after having them.
  • Some people are actually good parents, but seemingly unable to enjoy parenthood as they have unreasonable expectations of themselves.

Societal pressure

Apparently a life without kids is still regarded as inferior for women. Many of the women in the various newspaper articles and online chat groups, mentioned they were pressured by society to procreate. I’ve never experienced this bias (or maybe I’m just thick-skinned and unknowingly ignored it), even though I only got married and had my first child at the age of 34. Somehow it seems easy to blame societal/peer pressure for doing something you don’t want to do, when the regret hits you afterwards. But surely as a mature adult you can also make your own choices?

Don’t inflict yourself on innocent children if you don’t really want them. Having children may seem like the fashionable idea at the time and in tune with your crowd, but they can’t be returned to the shop if you grow tired of them.

I fully support people who don’t want children and consider this a normal and adult decision. But it’s unnecessary to act in a dysfunctional manner by having a child and then regretting it afterwards because you now have to make sacrifices in your career and personal life.

First family holiday

There’s a saying that a holiday with kids is not a vacation, but simply a change of location.

In a way this is true, especially when you consider all the packing, but it is also a very precious experience. 🙂

We were tired and grumpy when we arrived at Karoo Pride in Montagu, but the beautiful surroundings soon lifted our spirits.

Ewan forgot about the television for once and even found ways to amuse himself in the evenings with the cheap “holiday” toy soldiers we bought at the Spar. James enjoyed practising his recently acquired sitting skills and took every opportunity to try and get hold of his big brother’s toys.

Our days were spent wandering the beautiful walking routes on the farm, sometimes even off route. 😛 During this time, Ewan also worked very hard to complete his stick collection.

James was only too happy to ride on daddy’s back, taking in the beauty of everything around him. When the road got too long, poor daddy had to carry Ewan as well.

When the time came to go home, no one was ready to leave. “The holiday is gone, it’s gone forever!  I don’t want holiday to be finished.”

And so we started the journey back with a toddler tantrum. 😛

The boy who almost wasn’t

It’s been about a year since I last updated my blog. Boy, what a year it’s been. It’s been a year of boys.

The boy who almost wasn’t has now firmly settled in and is a fully fledged member of our family.

For those who aren’t aware, I chose to abort my previous pregnancy, after the fetus was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a heart that was not developing properly. A terrible (but we felt) necessary decision.

But now we have baby James, born almost 11 months after the abortion.  And Ewan is finally starting to love his brother after competing with him for attention for the first few months. At times he even shares his toys with him.

It’s been a year of love and learning.  Busy and stressful at times, but I’ve quickly learnt how to be a better parent.

And I’ve decided its time to become more myself and go on a personal journey of #bodypositivity.

Watch this space for related insights. 😛

 

Look after yourself – Be body positive

Body positivity teaches us that all bodies are valuable and not only certain ideal types portrayed by the media. It’s important to love yourself and look after your body in a positive way, regardless of your weight, age, race and possible disabilities. This includes eating healthy and doing exercise, but excludes crash diets and excessive gym.

The goal of body positivity is to improve overall health and well-being, which will inspire people to overcome conflicts with their bodies and develop a positive body image so that they can lead happier and more productive lives. The interconnectedness of the physical, psychological and emotional needs of human beings is recognised.

8 steps to a positive Body Image
1. Appreciate your body for all the amazing things it can do like running, dancing, laughing etc.
2. Keep a list of things that you like about yourself that aren’t related to your physical appearance. Read this list often.
3. Realise that beauty is a state of mind.  You are beautiful when you have confidence, even if you don’t look like a model.
4. Surround yourself with positive people who like you for who you are.
5. Ignore your negative inner voice that tells you your body is not acceptable.
6. Wear comfortable clothes that make you feel good about your body.
7. Make time to do something nice for yourself like taking a nap, a bubble bath or find a peaceful place to read outside.
8. Use the time you would have spent worrying about your appearance to help others. This will make you feel better about yourself and you can make a positive change to the world.

Body positive hash tags for fans of social media: #bodypositivity, #plussizefitness, #effyourbeautystandards, #bodylove, #baddiewinkle, #themilitantbaker, #virgietovar

Why we don’t care about each other

If you sometimes feel as if people don’t care about each other anymore, you’re not entirely wrong.

Drop in empathy

According to a study performed a few years back among college students, they displayed a drastic drop in empathy.  One can only assume that the situation is even worse by now.

Narcissism

A new selfishness is on the rise and narcissism seems to be becoming an epidemic. Narcissists are people who believe the world revolves around them and they are unable to identify with the needs of others at all.

If they need you

Certain individuals only appear to “care” for your needs, when they feel they need you and you are directly able to alleviate their burdens. If their need for you is diminished or others step in to fill the gap, their concern will soon be a thing of the past.

What’s killing our empathy?

It’s a sad fact of the hectic modern world that we have very little time for our children and that some parents are almost never home, often because they have to work. If you have no time for yourself and you are almost always tired, it diminishes your capacity to care for the needs of others. You also don’t have time to really get to know your children and their changing needs.

Lack of time

Then there’s the drastic drop in time for unstructured free play among children. Their schedules are full from an early age – they have to excel at school and extra-mural activities. The study work load is ever increasing. Children also don’t really have time anymore to get to know each other in a relaxed environment, which in turn encourages them to really care about each other.

Parents

As a parent, I aim to teach my children the value of empathy and I think it is important that we realise humans are connected and that we need each other. The world will be a healthier place if people are kinder to each other, like the MacDonald’s employee in Chicago, who closed his till to assist and feed an elderly, disabled customer, who asked him for help.

Raising boys…

I’ve been thinking about raising boys, probably because I will soon have two.

The outside

We recently undertook a trip to a beautiful lifestyle farm near Stanford in the Western Cape. Ewan was in his element and thoroughly enjoyed himself. We had to watch him like hawks and run after him to ensure that he didn’t disappear into the bushes and the fynbos by himself.

Boys just want to be outside

We were all sad to leave on the last day and Ewan told me a long story about walking and running in the “ousside”. The poor little man cried bitter tears of disappointment when it was back to the old routine of work and playschool on Monday…

He learnt the word “ousside” at a young age and it quickly became clear that this is where he wants to be at all cost, even when it is raining and freezing. I also noticed that he was much better behaved than usual while on our holiday trip. Tantrums were almost non-existent. 😛

This behaviour, talking to my husband and reading certain literature, has made me wonder about how we are raising boys in the modern world.

Neutering boys at a young age

Even renowned feminists such as Camille Paglia, is speaking out against the neutering of boys. According to her, failing to recognise the biological differences between men and women are leading to the destruction of modern society.

It seems many boys get labelled as ADHD or with other learning difficulties if teachers find them hard to handle. But isn’t the school setup simply more suited to girls, who have a greater capacity for sitting still and concentrating for long periods of time?

Is modern society more suited to women?

How frustrated many men must be in the modern world, especially those with lots of energy who find themselves cooped up in an office all day for the sake of earning a living.

In previous centuries, you had more options, but these days you basically have to spend your whole day inside, mostly stuck on an office chair, for “work”, even though no physical work is actually performed.

How many men have find themselves becoming immersed in dysfunctional and criminal behaviour to escape this tedious existence? Partaking in the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, road rage and extra-marital affairs just to get a little excitement in their lives. Even I, as a woman, with little taste for possible dangerous excitement, find the office existence tedious.

I’m sure many men can identify with the film and the novel, Fight Club:
We’re designed to be hunters and we’re in a society of shopping. There’s nothing to kill anymore, there’s nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman [the narrator] is created.
—David Fincher[5]

The male protagonists start a fighting club, which allows men to get rid of their natural aggression. It’s also a protest against entrapment by a consumerist society.

The future for boys

Although I am a bit concerned about raising happy and well-balanced boys, I’m at least comforted by the fact that their father and grandfather are excellent male role models. 🙂

Life of the pregnant working mother

The life of the pregnant working mother can be a challenge.

At the halfway mark

At the halfway mark of pregnancy myself, I have empathy for other working mothers in the same boat, especially those who already have small children.

Tiredness and disrupted sleep

And my sympathy to those who also suffer from severe sickness.  At least my main pregnancy symptom this time seems to be tiredness, which is probably being exacerbated by having a busy two year old to take care of and having to get up frequently at night to urinate.

My Interstitial Cystitis is not exactly helping the situation. And my craving for fruit juice and spicy food is probably not helping my Interstitial Cystitis.

Then there is also the pregnancy insomnia, which I also experienced when I was pregnant with Ewan.

My brain starts working overtime and simply won’t shut off.  Where I used to fall asleep quickly before, I can now lie awake for hours, staring at the ceiling.

Recent bouts of illness

Then there are the recent bouts of illness courtesy of the small germinator who shares his love with me.  😛

Three bouts of the stomach flu in short succession is starting to feel like a bit much.

Unfortunately these are the results of a weakened immune system during pregnancy.

Boosting your immune system

Rest would be beneficial, but there’s not that much to be had if you have to work full time.  The best option then is to try and boost your immune system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#EffYourBeautyStandards

So my recent introduction to Social Media studies, got me interested in the campaign #EffYourBeautyStandards which enjoys quite a following on several social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tess Holliday

The campaign was launched by plus size model, Tess Holliday (Munster). Her endeavours have highlighted body shaming behaviour and fat phobia. Even though the message of her campaign is overwhelmingly positive, she has been attacked for promoting obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. Among other things, she has been called “unhealthy” and a “disgusting fat pig”. Ms Holliday has stated that it is not her aim to promote obesity, but simply that any body shape is deserving of love and respect.

The blog post by The militant baker, gets to the heart of the matter via the following statement:

“So THEN after all of this, when a fat chick- who hasn’t done the work, who hasn’t tried to fix her body, who doesn’t have any interest in the gospel we so zealously believe in, stands up and says: I’M HAPPY! …we freak the fuck out. Because: that bitch just broke the rules. She just cut in front of us in line. She just unwittingly ripped us off. And she essentially made our lifetime of work totally meaningless. It’s kind of like investing everything you own in some sort of stock and instead of it’s worth increasing, you’re notified that it’s value is now the same as Monopoly money. All of a sudden, your investments (aka “Body Currency”) have the devastating value of: zero?”

There seems to be a pervasive attitude that fat people should be desperately unhappy and need to suffer in their pursuit to lose weight. Tess breaks all the societal rules by being fat, happy and successful. She has nullified the efforts of those who has starved and suffered in the gym to lose weight. And probably the worst thing of all for the trolls who avidly comment on her social media pages, is that she is actually using her fat body, which is supposed to be the source of her shame, to take a stand and to make lots of money in the process.

Threat to the crash diet industry

And Tess is a threat to the crash diet industry, as they stand to lose billions if women stop buying their products in a desperate attempt to lose weight.

Concern trolls

The #EffYourBeautyStandards campaign, has also made me aware of an interesting social media phenomenom, namely concern trolls.

These are the wonderful people who are always a little worried about others and usually base their concerns on a single photo. In reality, they are afraid to criticise you outright and tell you they don’t like you. They’d rather tell you they’re worried about your health, or that you’re setting a bad example to children.

Gender bias

Gender discrimination also comes into play, as many people are still not comfortable with a woman who doesn’t conform to what is expected of women.

Tess has a child and is engaged, whereas overweight women are conventionally viewed as not worthy of love and relationships until they lose weight. Obese women are seen as less worthy and must be ashamed of their bodies, while Hollywood tells overweight men that they are still entitled to slim and attractive women.

Interesting debate

As a person who is overweight herself, I find the #EffYourBeautyStandards campaign and Tess Holliday debate, very uplifting and at the same time, disturbing.

I do also understand the supposed concerns of the concern trolls. Excess weight can lead to health issues, especially later in life. But I think many of them are failing to understand the aim of Holliday’s campaign.

Body shaming

I don’t think shaming people will encourage them to lose weight. In fact, it might only lead to more weight gain.

There are many reasons why people gain weight, and it is not up to us to judge them. Personally, I started to gain weight, when I did not have so much time for exercise anymore. Exercise and chocolate are my coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, so less exercise equals more chocolate.

Other people have severe health and emotional issues which have caused their weight gain. Life is fast-paced and very stressed these days, and not all of us are that good at keeping up without depending on bad habits to help us deal with the rush.

Some of us might be a little lazy and not like lettuce that much.  😛  But that’s our call to make.

Love yourself 

I agree with Ms Holliday’s approach of encouraging people of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies and take care of themselves.

In my mind, insulting people and calling them “disgusting” will only lead to stress eating and more weight gain. If you love yourself and appreciate your body, you might actually lose some weight with very little effort at all.

The second Taylor boy

It has recently become public knowledge that there will be a second Taylor boy. 🙂

Excitement and fear

It’s been an exciting time for us, but still you have the fear that something will go wrong, especially after our Down Syndrome experience at the beginning of the year.

At least all the tests have come back negative for Down Syndrome.

So we’ve taken our time in informing people about the imminent new arrival.

Preparing the brother

There’s also the task of informing Ewan that he will have a little brother by the end of this year. 😛

So far he hasn’t noticed that much, but soon I will have to start reinforcing the idea. And reading up about raising two boys. 😛

For now, Ewan can enjoy the sole attention of his parents for a couple of more months.

Preparations

There won’t be much preparation, compared to the first time around.

We have:

  • baby furniture
  • boy toys
  • boy clothes
  • breast pump
  • bottle steriliser
  • lots of random baby stuff.

But I’m sure more cute little baby things will be bought closer to the time. 😛

The newborn

Although we are old hands by now, it will be interesting to have a toddler and a newborn.

We are so used to a little person who is able to have increasingly intelligent and complicated conversations, that a helpless newborn will take some getting used to again. 😛

Even though I anticipate loads of work and little sleep, I’m looking forward to seeing how the two little guys are going to interact.