Tags: 1930s, fashion, high heels, muscular damage, posture, shoes
My mother wore high heels. After all, she was a product of the 1920s and 30s when they became popular. If a woman dressed up – and a working woman only dressed up when she were going somewhere special – she would wear high heels, and stockings if she could get them.
High heels were said to elongate the legs and make them more attractive, and who didn’t want to be attractive! Mum wasn’t tall –just five feet, and Dad was half an inch under six feet so, for her, the higher the heels the better.
Mum loved dancing and, in their courting days and after their marriage in 1941, when he was home on leave from the R.A.F. (it was wartime), Dad took her out to every dance in the district, where they danced up a storm. Dad often said that they would be the last dancers on the floor and the band would beg them to stop so they could rest. How on earth, I have often wondered, did Mum dance, and for so long, in high heels. But she only wore heels for special occasions, and that was not even once a week.
I only wore heels for a short time, and then not very high ones. I started about 18, but stopped at 21when I was expecting the first of my five children. I found ‘flatties’ to be much more comfortable for carrying babies around.
Over the decades, I have noted the continuing attraction for wearing high heel, especially by younger women. The ante has been upped (literally) even higher since I was young. Not only have the heels got higher, but the weight of the shoes has also increased. I don’t think Mum would have been able to drag herself around in what young women wear today, let alone dance at top speed for hours in them!
About thirty years ago, the medical fraternity finally realised that wearing high heels, especially frequently and for prolonged periods, could cause quite serious problems. This can be as simple as falling and injuring oneself while wearing them, resulting in strained or broken ankles. However, more serious long-term damage can be caused by the habit of wearing high heels.
Posture changes inherent in wearing shoes that place the heels above the toes can result in considerable damage:
- Hips, shoulders, back and spine are thrown out of alignment;
- Muscle spasms can occur due to the extra pressure caused by posture changes;
- Increased pressure on the knees often leads to arthritis in that joint;
- muscles in the calf become shortened, leading to pain there and in the feet;
- the Achilles tendon can become permanently shortened, leading to tendonitis;
- toes, cramped into tight shoes, become misshapen and cannot be straightened even when wearing flat shoes..
This 3-D scan shows up some of the problems. Here’s a set of pictures that gives a good indication.
I have often wondered why women are willing to risk such injuries just for the sake of fashion or of looking sexy. But I suppose that is just the way of it; peer pressure; advertising pressure; a desire to have the latest in fashion. There is no desire to look to the future – just as is the case with young men and their testosterone-induced risk taking. The belief that ‘it will never happen to me’.
Oh how glad I am that I never became a slave to fashion. I’ll stick to my sensible shoes, thanks.
What do you think of high heels? Would you let your adolescents – as I have seen – wear them and risk permanent damage?
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: need to write, self-awareness, to be remembered
On a recent Saturday at my writing group, I led a brain-storming session on why we write. It was a wonderful and animated exercise. After the session, we wrote a piece about how we would feel if we were suddenly unable to write.
- Give up;
- Wait to acquire the requisite life experience; or
- Never, never, ever give up.
I am neither determined nor passionate enough about achieving success as a writer that I would keep trying to get traditionally published. I don’t have the killer instinct. And besides, I don’t have that much confidence in my ability as a writer, or enough hope that anyone will want what I write.
My nephew, Peter Abela, has much more drive and commitment, and is more likely to be recognised; I hope he will be. But I have no hope or expectation of a future where I will be recognised in that way.
So, why do I keep writing? Because I have to, I think.
Because putting my thoughts and my life on paper or into the computer is a sort of validation of myself, of my existence in this world. Because I want to tell stories about what the world was like when I was young, when my parents were young. Because if I don’t write, I am not. If I don’t leave a record, I do not and never will have existed.
I suppose it is part of the reason that we have graffiti everywhere – tags of varying quality and artistry sprayed on fences and buildings and anywhere else that is accessible. These people are also saying, ‘I am here! I exist, even if you don’t see me!’
Someone might say, ‘What of your children, your grandchildren? Surely they are proof that you are, that you were?’
Genetically, yes. They would not be if I hadn’t been. In whatever influence I have had on them, yes. They will take a little of me into the future.
But me as an individual, a person with her own loves and hates, talents and weaknesses, wisdom and foolishness – where is the evidence for that me if I do not leave a record?
Then they will ask, ‘What about people’s memories of you?’ And I will ask how long will those memories remain, and the answer will be, only until those who have known me have gone.
So why is that not enough; that people remember me until there is no memory left of me? That is all 99.99% of the world can expect. What mark have I made on the world that I should be different? And I must answer, honestly, none. I don’t even have the talent or the passion to make that mark.
Why do we have such self awareness if we are expected to negate it in the ocean of humanity, in the survival of a species that proves every day that it doesn’t deserve to survive?
Why can’t that little drop that is/was me have its own memorial to say that I was not a part of that destructiveness, that I fought against it in action and in my writing?
The narcissist in me wants it. The realist knows that I do not merit it. And my writing will not make it so. But I will still keep writing.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: crime novels, fantasy, genres, history, literature, memoir, murder mysteries, post-apocalypse, reading, science fiction, writing, young adult books
When I reached my sixties, I was reading lots of murder mysteries, forensic crime and dark thrillers, depending on my mood. I have read just about all of the books by Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell, and some of Sue Grafton’s alphabet crime series, a couple of Richard North Patterson, and lots of others. Raymond Khoury’s thriller, The Sign, was particularly good.
I have gone back to the past a few times and to more literary novels. A couple were Australian authors. I enjoyed Eleanor Dark’s Slow Dawning (written in the 1930s), and Ruth Park’s Playing Beattie Bow (written in the 1960s), as well as Park’s two-part memoir. I also read Ken Follett’s World Without End, set in the Middle Ages.
I even tried to read D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but I gave up on it about half way through. I did, however, relish the style and language of Paul Morgan’s The Pelagius Book. Then there are the novels of Tim Winton, Alex Miller and Khaleid Hosseini – wonderful writers!
Now, well into my sixties, I read more post-apocalypse novels than I ever did, and even quite a bit of fantasy. I didn’t really get into those until the last few years, and I was wondering why recently. I decided that the state of society and the world these days – the violence, destruction, intolerance and hatred – have caused me to need an escape.
The end of the world as we know it now seems to be a just outcome for those who have caused such pain and misery to so many innocent people. Unfortunately, many more innocent people would dies. However, post apocalypse times are when the resilient and resourceful have their chance to survive, even if it is against terrible odds. Perhaps it is a hope I have that the better aspects of mankind will finally prevail against the worst.
The same goes for fantasy. In other worlds, heroes – male and/or female – battle the evil forces that would destroy them. In the end there is victory for the good – even if it does come at the end of a series of three or four books!
I loved JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and even watched the movies – which I thought extremely well done (and I am not a movie-goer). I have tried Stephen King again and got through Under the Dome and The Stand. I have the complete Harry Potter books in a boxed set (I haven’t seen the movies though), and have found several good fantasy authors on Amazon Kindle. There are lots of fantasy series out there which are quite well written, as well as being great stories.
Two series by Edward W. Robinson – The Breakers and The Cycle of Arawn are good. The Muirwood series by Jeff Wheeler really got me in, as did Aaron Pogue’s trilogy, The Dragonprince’s Legacy. I also really enjoyed Michael G. Manning’s Mageborn series. I recently read Jason Mott’s The Returned, which, I believe was made into a telemovie. All of these I obtained as e-books.
My Kindle has led me into a whole new range and variety of reading. E-books are cheaper than print, and because of that, I have been able to sample a whole new range of authors and genres. Either I would never have come across these in print, or the price would have put me off.
Yes, there is a lot of rubbish out there, but if you check the synopsis, reviews, and the success of the author, you can usually tell which will be of a reasonable standard. And if you can read a sample, you will get a good idea of the quality of the writing.
Some of the new authors I have come across through accessing e-books on my Kindle, apart from those I have already mentioned, include:
Fantasy & Post-apocalypse: Anna Elliott, Robert Clive Parnell, Peg Brantley, Erica Liodice, Julie Morrigan, Lori Brighton, R.T. Kaelin, M.R. Mathias, Jodi McIsaac, Erica Stevens, Katie W. Stewart, Kevin Bohacz.
Thrillers: Michael R. Hicks, Robert Ellis, Barry Friedman, Tom Lowe.
Whodunits & Murder Mysteries: Kathleen Backus, Jeffrey Siger, Camilla Chafer, L.L. Bartlett, Debra Mares, Andy Straker, Lee Goldberg, Terri Reid, James Hankins, T.R.Ragan, Edie Claire.
Real life novels: Melissa F. Miller, Othello Back, Helen Ginger.
Young Adult: Aida Brassington.
Writing: Chris Thrall.
Memoir: Joy deKok, Cynthia Harrison
Of course, I have come across a lot more than these, but I decided just to share the ones I liked best.
My Kindle goes with me whenever I travel. That is another of its great advantages. I can carry a hundred books in the space and weight it would take for only one slim printed volume. However, I will never give up on printed books. If you saw our bookshelves you would see that! There is something about them that is more evocative of worlds and more personal than an e-reader can ever be.
Have you made the transition from print to electronic books? Do you use both, or do you stick mainly with one medium?
© Linda Visman
Tags: concentration, frustration, insomnia, meditation, mental discipline, relaxation
Last night, although I was tired and wanted to sleep, I was awake until after 2.30am.
I tried to relax and clear my mind – impossible. Then I tried to ‘watch’ the thoughts as they cropped up and passed by – impossible; they were too quick for me.
Then I tried to focus on one thing, grasp and examine it until I was bored. Maybe then I could go to sleep – but again, impossible.
That’s when I started composing a blog post about my lack of mind discipline.
I am envious of those who can meditate; those who can calm their minds, eliminate extraneous distractions, focus on the inner being & find their centre.
What happens when I try to do the same? Chaos.
My brain seems to be very much like a meat and vegetable soup bubbling in a pot on the stove. All the pieces swirl around, vanish and re-appear randomly, then disappear again before I have a chance to grab one.
My thoughts are like those pieces of onion, carrot and potato, celery, turnip and chicken. Feelings, insights, memories, glimmers of incidents and people and places, books I’ve read, things I have or haven’t done, questions and answers – they all swirl and bob up, then vanish just as quickly.
How do I obtain some sort of control over the maelstrom? What do I do, short of becoming a yogi or fakir or hermit?
All I want to do is quiet my mind so I can relax enough to sleep when I need to, or focus my mind without being distracted.
Is that too difficult? It has been for me thus far.
Do you meditate? How did you start? Does it help you?
Tags: characters, Frank Herbert, harry Potter, JK Rowling
Have you ever finished a short story or a novel and couldn’t get the characters out of your head?
Have you imagined what might have happened after the story finished?
With a good story and well-realised characters, I think it happens quite often. I know it has to me.
I suppose that is why there is so much fan fiction written, and why readers love book series.
They don’t want to lose those characters, that world, that reality created by the author. They want the story to go on.
Think Harry Potter. To many of her readers, J.K. Rowlings’ imaginary character has become just as real as their own family and friends. He is someone they may know even better than those real people. It just happens that Harry, together with his own friends and foes, lives somewhere else.
They dwell in a different reality. It is a reality that has a door from our own that we can enter at will, or which can spill for a time into our own reality through the magic key of reading.
Why do some characters and their worlds become so real, when others do not? Why do we want to stay with some when we can’t even get to know others – or want to?
That to me is another magic. The magic created by a sensitive, observant and creative writer. Such writers do not necessarily create great works of literature (as defined by high-brow literary critics).
What they do create are real worlds occupied by real people, with real feelings and desires, hopes and dreams, challenges and triumphs. Characters with whom the reader develops empathy, a feeling of one-ness.
It’s no wonder we don’t want to leave the book – in a way it is our own life we have been reading, or that of people we have become close to. We want to know more.
Do you ever identify with or become close to characters in the books you read?
Tags: encouragement, friends, novel-writing, overcome fear, speed writing, support, Thursday's Child, writing block, writing group
For months, I haven’t been able to write. If you read my last blog post you will know that a combination of fear and lethargy have shackled me.
Last week, my writing group had a social get-together. We talked about our writing, shared stories, ate lunch and drank tea or coffee or water, and laughed a lot.
The day after that, I began going back through the 19 chapters I’d already written to get into the mood and the story again..
After that, I wrote another chapter, one that linked chapters 15 and 16. I discovered that I had already written over 38,500 words on my second Y.A. novel, Thursday’s Child. I had no idea I had written so much.
Then yesterday morning, two of the group and myself had a “write-in”, sitting at a picnic table in a local park. Our challenge was to write as many words as we could on our individual projects. We had short chats about our writing, regular writing, and also speed writing sessions – as many words as possible in 15 minutes bursts.
It was all aimed at getting us to just write. To get words on paper, without thinking, and see where those words took us.
For me, it was fantastic. The chapter I was working on flowed, and in a direction I had not expected.
Today, I went to the same park with my husband. We went for a walk along the lake shore, then he lay on the bed in our camper van to read, while I sat at the same picnic table as before and just wrote.
From the two days’ writing, I have a full chapter that I am quite happy with.
All this time, I have been afraid to write. Now, with the help of my writing friends, I have made the leap from fear and immobility to excitement and fluency.
How good is that!
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: 2014, blogging, goals, guilt, resolutions, writing
They vow they will drink less, quit smoking, join a gym. They decide on ways they can become happier, slimmer, more active, more productive, more engaged with others, etc. They make resolutions. I will do this, or that, or the other.
However, within very little time, most of those who have made resolutions break them. And break them again, and again. And then give up on them.
Why do they break them? Because they are not completely and utterly committed to keeping those resolutions. There is something between the them and the decision to do or not to do something – and that makes their decision, their resolve, worthless; lost before they even begin.
And then come the feelings of guilt. Oh, don’t I know all about those feelings of guilt! After all, I was brought up as a Catholic, and nobody knows guilt like Catholics.
I’m not good enough! I’ve failed – again! I’m useless!
Guilt it paralysing. So, this year, I have avoided making resolutions altogether (except for the decision not to make any). Instead, I have set goals that I would like to achieve this year.
All the goals are associated with my writing, since that is the area of my life that I need most to sort out. I have tried to make my goals realistic and achievable. I do not want those guilt feelings to overwhelm me again this year!
And that is why I am writing this blog entry. One of my goals was to write a blog entry at least every week. I wrote one on the last day of 2013 – that’s just under a week ago. This is the first one for 2014. This goal I have achieved – for this week anyway. Phew!
(c) Linda Visman, January 2014