Self-Respect: It’s in ‘Vogue’


I read a great piece in ‘Vogue‘ this week: Joan Didion’s seminal essay ‘Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power’, first published in Vogue in 1961. Fifty three years on, its message is as pertinent as ever.

Here are a few words from the essay that certainly give pause for thought.

“We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gift for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give.

At the mercy of those we can not but hold in contempt, we play rôles doomed to failure before they are begun, each defeat generating fresh despair at the necessity of divining and meeting the next demand made upon us.

It is the phenomenon sometimes called alienation from self. In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the spectre of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that one’s sanity becomes an object of speculation among one’s acquaintances. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves—there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.”

Didion wrote the essay as the magazine was going to press, to fill the space left after another writer did not produce a piece on the same subject. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count – no mean feat as any writer knows.

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Signs You Have Lowered Your Standards: The Low Self-Esteem Meter


“People make excuses because they’re either too ashamed to tell the truth or they’re not ready to admit it…and when we make excuses for others, it’s for the same reasons. “

Originally posted on frommtvtomommy:

Have you recently suffered a negative interaction with someone?

Have you recently stuck your head into an oven because you couldn’t stand one more minute dealing with people who suck?

Have you considered becoming a meth dealer and taking over the world, a la Walter White?

Are you unsure if you are settling for the same old BS that you swore you wouldn’t settle for anymore?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or you just simply want to amuse yourself or are incredibly bored, read on.

If someone is nice to you and you think, “Wow, this person is nice to me today. this is awesome,” 

You may have lowered your standards.


Unless the person is your boss, no one should be that negative and mean to you so that when the person actually smiles or acts like a decent human being you feel the need…

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Tears of Joy


Have you ever wondered why people cry when they are happy? It’s never made much sense to me and apparently Yale psychologist Oriana Aragon was bemused by this too.

She had conducted series of studies on the subject and now has a better understanding about why people cry when they are happy.

She says, “People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions. They seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions and people who do this seem to recover better from those strong emotions.”

Aragon and her colleagues at Yale found that individuals who express negative reactions to positive news were able to moderate intense emotions more quickly.

There is also some evidence that strong negative feelings may provoke positive expressions. An example of this is nervous laughter when people are confronted with a difficult or frightening situation, and smiles have been found by other psychologists to occur during extreme sadness.

Aragon says that these new discoveries begin to explain common things that many people do but don’t even understand themselves.

She says, “These insights advance our understanding of how people express and control their emotions, which is importantly related to mental and physical health, the quality of relationships with others, and even how well people work together.”

Reminds me of an episode of  ‘The Big Bang Theory':
Sheldon: Why are you smiling?
Leonard: Yeah, Raj, why?
Raj: Uh, a smile means something different in my country. You know, tears of joy, smile of sadness. India’s a goofy place.

Aragon is the lead author of work to be published in the journal Psychological Science. Margaret S. Clark, Rebecca L. Dyer and John A. Bargh of Yale are co-authors.

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Remembrance Day


To mark Remembrance Day a poem by Australian poet, Chris Wallace-Crabbe.


Other People

In the First World War they…
Who were they? Who cares any more?…
Killed four of my uncles,
So I was told one day.

There were only four on that side of the family
Allegedly swept away in a few bad years
In a war the historians tell us now
Was fought over nothing at all.

Four uncles, as one might say
A dozen apples or seven tons of dirt,
Swept away by the luck of history,
Closed off. Full stop.

Four is a lot for uncles,
A lot for lives, I should say.
Their chalk was wiped clean off the slate,
The War meant nothing at all.

War needs a lot of uncles,
And husbands, and brothers, and so on:
Someone must want to kill them,
Somebody needs them dead.

Who is it, I wonder. Me?
Or is it you there, reading away,
Or a chap with a small-arms factory?
Or is it only they?

Photos: At the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a shaft of sunlight enters the inner sanctuary and illuminates the word ‘love’ on the marble slab inscribed with the words “Greater love hath no man”.



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The Long and the Short of It


Whether dysfunctional or not, indicating that a griever is “overdoing it” impedes his or her expression of feelings. Ironically this keeps the grieving process stalled and therefore even extends our stay in that most frequented but least popular destination, Griefland.
Moral of the story: Grieving outliers unite!

Originally posted on offbeatcompassion:

The isle of Griefland has many unique geographical characteristics, including its varying distance from your home. Not only that, its size and terrain constantly mutate as well. You might become entangled in masses of vines unable to break free for a while, or have to drag yourself interminably over harsh rock after harsh rock. Or, as someone recently wrote in her blog, you might be forced onto a most capricious roller coaster there. A few of you might be lucky and just take  in poignant scenes as you sit on grass as soft as cashmere. Most peculiar of all, visitors never know in advance the length of their stay let alone the starting date. Not even “death professionals” can give an estimate. In fact, their own assumptions can throw off their estimate more than the average person’s.

Come again? Haven’t hospice personnel and the like seen zillions of cases and…

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