In January 2017 I started to research a book I wanted to publish about perceptions of human invisibility. I’m convinced that we need to see and be inspired by examples of the ordinary extraordinary non-celebrity older generation, who like me, have been cracking on with this life thing since time. Many of us are freer to do so than at any other time in our history. Are we being kept in the closet? Do we vanish from view post 50 – some say post 40? It suits a whole raft of societal agendas if we believe we do, as we can then be sold the hype that spawns a whole money driven industry of pills, potions, surgery and dependence. Regardless of age or sex, one can sadly find an inexhaustible supply of people who will be happy to make us feel badly about ourselves if convinced enough to accept it as truth. Why would we give anyone that much power over us? Imagine a world where we share messages of self-belief, confidence, possibility and positivity?

My overall wish is to debunk the propaganda by publishing real life examples, illustrations and anecdotes to help empower and inspire one another. Every individual life experience has merit and can help us grown to know ourselves better.  Sharing the stories helps show that we have the power to make it our decision – not others, whether to be visible/invisible, depending on our circumstances, self-belief, time of the day/week/month!

Fast forward to January 2018: A stunning new Magazine for the over 40’s is heading towards publication and The Invisibility Myth has travelled many miles. I had originally invited 100 strangers from all over the globe to participate in my project, asking them to answer the same twelve questions:

The Invisibility Myth 2017.

It would be helpful to know your age and country of residence, but only if you are comfortable sharing this information.

•(1) How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

•(2) Did anything specific make you feel invisible when you were young?

•(3) Are there anythings/anytimes that make you feel invisible now?

•(4) With the benefit of age and experience, what advice would you give to your younger self?

•(5) What major values or principles do you try to live by? And have they changed/evolved as you have grown older?

•(6) Do you see any turning points – a key event or experience that set you on a different life path?

•(7) What has felt like the best age in your life and why?

•(8) What is your favourite physical attribute?

•(9) Who is the largest influence on the person you are today? Has that changed over the years?

•(10) What do you feel most proud of in your own life?¶

•(11) What is your guilty pleasure(s)?

•(12) What is something that amazes you?

I organised my first invisibility Myth recorded interview with Carey Marvin who I met on a London Colour Walk, which kick started me off on an adventure into a whole new world. She invited me to lunch at her home, prepared to have me – a complete stranger record her open and honest answers to my questions. It was an inspirational day – sitting at her kitchen table talking so intimately and honestly with somebody I had no history with whatsoever. It felt like I was finally doing at the age of 60, what I was put on this earth to do; inspire people to share their stories. She has since become a valued friend and I owe her a debt of gratitude for her generosity and guidance.

Around 50 people have answered the questions so far, and it’s those insights into the lives of the extraordinary ordinary people that I want to share with you over time on this page, and it will include a podcast of that original recording with Carey. Some are one word or short sentence answers, some are whole essays. All are truthful glimpses into the lives of individuals that I hope will inspire others to see that what we share is so much greater and more meaningful than anything that seeks to divide us, and we certainly ARE NOT INVISIBLE!♥

Here are my own answers to the questions which I conveniently “forgot” to include for quite a while!:

It would be helpful to know your age and country of residence, but only if you are comfortable sharing this information.
I am sixty years old and I live in the UK and France.

(1) How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I am stealing this from a friend, who recently used this to describe me. It is exactly how I see myself:- An adventurer of the heart and mind.

(2) Did anything specific make you feel invisible when you were young?
Adults! I grew up believing children should be “seen and not heard”, and as an only child I lived in my own internal world, under tables, behind sofas, lost in books……I felt invisible.

(3) Are there anythings/anytimes that make you feel invisible now?
Occasionally, when I endeavoured after having babies, to be the ‘dutiful wife’ and attended formal work functions to support my partner, I was astounded by the attempt by the “hello how are you, what do you do?” small talk brigade, who could not get away from me quick enough once they knew I was enjoying being a mother. I learned from this and now avoid engaging with anything I perceive as an attempt to undermine me when I chose visibility.
(at least I thought I was at the time!)

(4) With the benefit of age and experience, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Recognise, understand and enjoy asap how to use wisely the power your sexuality has on the wider world.
Shit happens. It passes.
There are always going to be people who will not like you whatever you do to try & convince them of the error in their ways.
Nurture friendships. They become part of your tribe and will be the bedrock of your history.

(5) What major values or principles do you try to live by? And have they changed/evolved as you have grown older?
Do not bully others or accept bullying. EVER.
Don’t hesitate or be afraid to extend the hand of help and friendship, even to strangers. Do not become jaded by negative encounters.

(6) Do you see any turning points – a key event or experience that set you on a different life path?
Leaving home at seventeen, actively taking the decision to choose life over the potential for a living death if I didn’t get away.
Meeting my husband, at the age of thirty two. He empowered me emotionally with his love to understand fully that I am good enough. He is the reason I have my beautiful children; until I met him, I was scared to allow myself to want to be a mother, because of my experience with my own birth mother.

(7) What has felt like the best age in your life and why?
So much of it has been amazing, however, I would highlight my thirties – I had history, I felt strong enough to leave a toxic relationship, I became a wife, a mother and embarked on a different life trajectory.
My forties; – meh.
My 50th Birthday party onwards, has felt like a re-birth of sorts. I’m post menopausal, and dancing on to eternity in the fullest way possible….Few apologies, no regrets.

(8) What is your favourite physical attribute?
My boobies!!! A blessing and a curse, depending on the time of the month/what I want to wear/playing sport….In the 1970’s, going bra-less (for a short while) was hilarious – can any man do eye contact and string a coherent sentence together when faced with un-fettered bajonkas?….
Oh yeah and my strong teeth – Sixty years old and no crowns, veneers or falsies…..

(9) Who is the largest influence on the person you are today? Has that changed over the years?
So many people have had profound effects on who I am today – quite often older women. If i’m being honest – even my mother – she (unwittingly) showed me what I absolutely did not want to be. The honesty of friendships whereby I am kept grounded and real, and my children.  Got to love the young ‘uns for their brutal appraisals!

(10) What do you feel most proud of in your own life?
Building a tight, strong, free thinking, opinionated family from scratch, with no parental support and managing to not repeat the sins of the fathers – or in my case mothers…

(11) What is your guilty pleasure(s)?
Scuzzing. I do it well. I have taught my family to do it well.
Instagram and other social media.

(12) What is something that amazes you?
The helpers in dire situations. Always the antidote to the hideous barbarity humans perpetrate on one another, as witnessed in the Manchester Arena bombing last night. It is what keeps my faith in humanity.
Women. We can grow babies. Plus we have the natural ability to nurture those around us who are not sprung from our wombs.

If you feel inspired or interested in answering the questions, the project is ongoing. I can be contacted via email: jeanielovesart@gmail.com

 

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