I’m on my way back from an epic stay in Brighton – where to my surprise (where had I been?!), it happened to be #BrightonPride weekend ☺️
I’ll split this blog into 2 as I’ve got 2 key points to raise here –
1. How much I love a UK escape and how refreshing and cleansing it can be to ‘get away’ (especially combined with such strong salty sea air! Mmmm!)
2. The power of the ‘Pride’ festival. (Yes, I know the fact that we even have to have a festival dedicated to it means theres problems – a bit like having an International Women’s Day or Black History Month – but for what it’s worth, I’m blogging about some unexpected positive impacts experiencing this has had for me).
Let’s start with numero uno. Come 5pm yesterday, I’d finished work in the beautiful seaside resort of Brighton. Funnily enough, this is where I was supposed to go to university, but it didn’t quite work out, due to a rapid deterioration in my mental state, which led to me needing to move back home. You can read a bit more about this in my Student Minds’ Blog, here: http://studentmindsorg.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/making-right-choice-for-you.html?m=1
For a while, I had a few hard feelings about revisiting, but after some time to heal, I knew I couldn’t stay away from somewhere that I loved; somewhere with such good vibes, quirkiness, liveliness, diversity and energy that I enjoyed visiting, just because it was a place of a few bad memories. People do that though. Although I love Bournemouth (where I grew up from around the age of 8-20) there’s parts of it that flashback to some really scary and low points for me. I find that where you call or make a ‘home’, is individual. It can vary on the people as well as the place, and experiences as well as the material possession(s), too.
After a quick mooch and cheeky browse around the shops, I met the other half at the station as he joined me after his work. As soon as we arrived we had a sense of ‘holiday’. There’s something in being somewhere different. There’s something in those train journeys which aren’t just commutes but are taking you to a destination for leisure time. A time to think and a time to be.
We walked a mere 3 minutes and we could already see the sea 🌊 the beautiful, beautiful coastline. It took less than those 3 minutes to feel ‘away from it all’. There’s arguments that raise that we don’t have to physically ‘be away from things’ (whatever that really means) to achieve a sense of peace and relaxation, and that it should start in our minds. That’s easier said than done though. So when we do decide on a break, I recommend, making it just that – ‘a break’. It doesn’t matter how short. Take some time out. Breathe in new air, explore an area using your full senses. I certainly did have a ‘Take Notice’ 5 ways to wellbeing experience this weekend so far. Google them, they are so good! – http://www.neweconomics.org/projects/entry/five-ways-to-well-being
We walked along the beach and did the standard ‘fish and chip shop stop’, (nothing beats seafront fat fries and the smell of Harry Ramsden at the sea side for a bit of English summer aroma!) sat on a bench, listened to outdoor music and just chilled out. I took in lots of deep breaths. The scent of sea salt really soothes me. It’s my mindful place. A place I don’t have to think about mindfulness as a practise, it just comes to me.
And today? Well, it was Pride! On our doorstep. We were lucky enough to nab a seafront Wowcher hotel deal and our breakfast view wasn’t just the glistening ocean (rocking a shockingly Bahamas style blue 👏🏻 👌🏻), but the vibrant sounds of samba bands and matching eye widening pupil dialating bright rainbow costumes.
We took a stroll along the promenade and ended up joining a marching band and watching men and women with varying gender identities and sexual orientations outwardly express not only themselves but their love. Their bodies. Their right.
It was a movement, a freedom, a parade of pure ‘pride’ (does what it says on the tin you’d never of guessed!). In a body shaming society and with the news of the latest BMI guidelines and eating disorder charity statements of what these damaging messages are doing, stood a strong festival of bodies that were human. Flesh was flashed. Confidence of all shapes and sizes filled the streets and the public, well…embraced it. There’s so much hate about and you’d only wish that this weekender was a more regular proud society of acceptance and open mindedness.
As I said earlier, it didn’t just represent the beauty of ‘gay pride’ as it’s known, it showed me ‘pride’ in all essence.
Hetresexual White me who may on a small level tick a few of the Equal Opps boxes (mental illness, disability -hearing impairment), felt like I could be ‘me’ in my own body, despite really battling on the eating problem front recently with my unhealthy relationship with food plummeting and self esteem likewise.
In the arena of Pride, I let it go. I inherited a piece of the pride that surrounded me at every angle.
As a result, I did one of my favourite things. I swam in the sea! The English sea in summer that some people complain about but I love. I stuck my head under. I even did it in my blooming underwear as I hadn’t bought a bikini as I wasn’t sure what the weather would do. And as much as I love the smell of the salt, nothing I loved more, was the fresh feel of it, caressing and tingling my body (that deep down under the battle of self love vs eating disorder, I love), in natural waters, and not feeling a drop of doubt or shame in the process.
This Pride taught me – Be Proud.