Yesterday, along with thousands of other exhausted campers, I left Glastonbury Festival. For those of you who don’t know, Glastonbury is the world’s greatest 5-day party. It’s a place to forget the outside world and all your woes. You can let yourself go. It’s a place to be free and explore who you are and what you enjoy. But after 5 days of utopia, the outside world hits you like a bus.

The first thing that struck me as we came across regular folk in the surrounding areas was their faces. What I mean is, there was no perma-grin like there was on every festival-goers face. People looked tired, bored or worried. Not all of them, but many. They were just going about their days, but I saw something deeper. I saw a collective unhappiness. I saw a society that didn’t spark joy in its people. This was a dramatic contrast to a festival where attendees are made to feel as if anything is not only possible, but accepted without shame.

En route home we decided to stop by a supermarket to pick up some essentials before facing our sad, bare fridge. I didn’t think to change out of what I was wearing to do so. It never even crossed my mind. (It was a crop top and shorts; nothing offensive or overly revealing.) But once I got inside, I was met with disgusted looks. Granted, that might have been primarily due to a lingering stench from having not showered for a week, but something tells me it was the fact that I wasn’t conforming. I had mud on my feet and grass in my hair. See, at Glastonbury the wackier the better. You can even get your boobs out and cover them with glitter and there’s no need to feel like you’re being preyed upon or looked down on. Self-expression is encouraged. Fun is warmly embraced.

Reality didn’t feel like that. Reality made me feel ashamed of looking a little rough around the edges. Reality told me it didn’t want me. And I’m here to shout back and say that that isn’t OK. Why should I have to plan my footwear based on how quickly I can run in it if I’ll be alone on a night out? Why should I shy away from shorts because it’s just easier to try to walk through life trying to be invisible and not attracting any attention to myself? It’s interesting, because at the festival, most of the women were wearing the most revealing of outfits. But there was nothing sexual about it. It was beautiful. So I’m asking what makes it different within the festival grounds? It really comes down to the sheer number of women dressing that way. It becomes the norm at Glastonbury. No single female stands out because we all go there. We all embrace the extravagant. But we come back to reality and back to our regular wardrobes. We fear the extravagant once more because it attracts attention. It stands out.

How do we redefine ‘the norm’? How is it that we can spread the freedom of creative self-expression from Worthy Farm into all of our cities and towns? And it’s not just the clothes we wear and the way we decorate out faces, but the empathy and the sense of community. Political talk was bold and brash this festival, with many artists criticising the powers that be. They preached love and understanding, with Corbyn himself even making an appearance on the Pyramind Stage to urge us to reunite as a people, rather than support the divide. He spoke of music and poetry and creativity at the core of a happy society. He praised the Eavis family for allowing all of the festival attendees the space to express and enjoy themselves. There is something exquisitely magical that comes from that much togetherness and the hope is that it can come with each of us into our everyday lives now that the festival is over.

Yes this is a rant at wanting everyday life to be just as magical, but it’s also an opportunity for discussion. What are your thoughts on this topic? How do we redefine the norm and create a more loving society where all people are treated equally and allowed to express themselves without fear? Lord knows we’re desperate for it.

 

 

 

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I know I’m not the first to write about this and I also hope I’m not the last. Resting somewhere in that middle range, I feel prompted to discuss parenting after the topic arose in my office yesterday. Specifically, I want to talk about why being able to have children is not the same thing as being meant to.

Now let’s rewind and break it down here. From a biological perspective, we are programmed to reproduce as a species, sure, but from a spiritual perspective, there is so much more to us than the animalistic eat, sleep, and mate routine. We have devoured and destroyed many beautiful people and places on this planet, but have also created beauty and evolved to learn from our mistakes (although we’ve still got a long way to go on that one!). Look around at the world that humans just like you have designed and you can see why I say we’re different to other mammals and thus cannot be lumped in with them.

Part of the mechanism of societal evolution is the combining of different skillsets and strengths to produce something greater than any one individual alone. It is the same as swarm mentality; one insect alone isn’t intelligent, but a swarm is genius.

Alongside our different skillsets and strengths are our talents and interests and all of this combined creates our identity: what makes you, you. The layer on top of our identity is our emotional health. I’m talking about the trauma which we carry with us either from childhood or adulthood because we have endured situations where we weren’t treated with love and kindness. As such, we behave in a particular fashion or carry with us particular burdens that infiltrate into all of our relationships – especially those we have with our children.

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A good parent is someone who has the right personality (wants to give, nurture and provide a life for another), is aware of their own emotions and has identified destructive behaviours. They are not perfect (as nobody is) but lead with good example and freely emanate love. A contrast to this is a person who does not want to make the time or sacrifice of having to put another’s life before their own; perhaps they are not yet ready, perhaps they will never be; either way, an unwanted child can quickly lead to resentment which wreaks havoc on both parties: a child who feels neglected and a parent who is miserable because they are not living the life they desire.

Of course there is a whole spectrum of circumstances in between those two scenarios. There are parents who did not plan on having children but unexpectedly got pregnant and then found their lives finally had purpose. There are those that were told they could never have children, but then again – surprise – and they found themselves to be natural parents. Then there the people that are deeply unhappy in their marriages and trick themselves into believing that having a baby will somehow rectify the situation. Unfortunately the result for these people is that they end up with the stress of both a child and an unhappy relationship. The list goes on.

I don’t have children myself and do not plan on it anytime soon. As such, I can’t write this from a parent’s perspective. But, I can write this as someone who comes from a broken home, because I had one parent who wasn’t built for the job. If more people spent half as much time dealing with their own emotional issues as they do rotting their brains in front of reality TV, we would be well on our way to a society of savvy souls capable of understanding ourselves and why we are the way we are. Of these people, those who desire to be parents could really give it a good shot.

Although all of these things apply to both genders, I know that we are still living at a time where men and women of a certain age are not viewed in the same light. This is something I really hope to see change in my lifetime. I detest that when we – as women – get to ‘that age’ we are expected to a) be married and b) have children. Men seem to be able to get away with the ‘eligible bachelor’ card much more easily. It is what we have been doing for so long now in so many aspects of this society: forcing us as pegs of all different and intricate shapes into the same round-shaped holes. I have a bounty of respect for the women of the world that make the conscious choice not to have children; they know it isn’t for them and realise that they can contribute far more as an ‘aunt’ than as a mother. They deserve to be treated exactly the same as the excellent mothers who do pursue parenthood.

If we don’t understand ourselves, how can we possibly begin to understand others? More importantly, when are we going to start accepting that each of us is individual and cannot be expected to fit the old paradigm of what men and women are ‘supposed’ to do? Things are changing now and we have an opportunity to focus on healing ourselves and bringing future generations into this world surrounded by love, rather than resentment. I would like to see more conscious parenting and respect for those who do not feel it is right for them.