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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

A Picture of Me

At the weekend, I posted this picture to Facebook: I honestly didn’t think anyone would notice it, let alone like it. I like it, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have shared it with the internet. But I didn’t really think it was noteworthy.

Let me tell you the story of how and why it was taken: one of my colleagues was leaving us for another company. We had bought him a going-away gift but it was a little boring. A little run-of-the-mill. We wanted to do something a little different too, something that would remind him of the fun times we’d had together as a team. We came up with the idea of preparing a photo album for him. Not just of any old photos, but filled with silly pictures, of us all pulling faces, so he wouldn’t forget us too quickly. I had been getting team-members to come into my office so I could take their pictures when someone pointed out that they needed to take my picture too. Gah. I reluctantly handed over my camera: I do not like bing the subject of photographs (yes, I am a hypocrite!). I was brave, though. I pulled my silly face and she snapped, then I relaxed and she snapped again. And that was it. It was only when I opened the pictures on my computer that I noticed this one. And that I decided I liked it. It’s not technically great. There’s nothing special about it. In fact, I could give you a long list of why it’s not a good picture of me (the crow’s feet around my eyes, my chipped tooth, the messy hair, the uneven pigmentation of my skin…). But I still liked it. I could have fixed the tooth, the skin, the wrinkles, and everything else, in Photoshop. But I didn’t. Because – quite to my surprise – this actually felt ok just as it was. Me.

Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of my reflection. It is very very rare for me to like any pictures of myself. This was a bit of an exception. It looked like me and I still liked it. And so I decided to share it. And people did like it. Lots of people. 56 people so far (which is more than double the number of likes pictures I post usually get). You might not think this is a big deal, but it is a HUGE deal to me. Because people were saying they liked ME. Not a posed me, not a photoshopped me. Just me, as I am. Me and my big silly smile. Do you know how that makes me feel? Do you know how that makes me heart swell? Do you know how close to tears it brought me? Do you know how often I’ve been back just to look at all those likes again and again? Not out of vanity (ok, maybe a bit of vanity) but because I’m still surprised that they’re all there. These likes are the opposite of bullying. They are the internet equivalent of a group hug. Of all these friends, old and new, telling me that I’m ok, just as I am, imperfections and all. I’ll be 38 this year but you may just have helped to mend my self-conscious teenage girl’s heart.

Oh, and another thing: you see that wall behind me? That’s one of my office walls. It’s mostly covered with pictures of and from my children. But there’s also a small poster with one of my favourite quotes on it, from Roald Dahl:

“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.”

Ha! Anyway, what do you reckon: wanna see the silly picture now?

3 June 2014 - 9:43 PM Carrie Johnson - I love this post and I love the photos! This it the Cass I know and adore, through and through. :-)

4 June 2014 - 12:08 AM Tracy - I love them both.

11 June 2014 - 12:51 PM annie - you are such a beauty, Cass!! I'll never understand how you can be so humble because the lovely just oozes out of you and your lovely spirit that is just contagious when we part. also, 38? i hope!!

3 July 2014 - 3:54 AM Steve Aldrich - Smiles are Contagious!

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