It’s a Cinch!
A home renovation program named “Fixer Upper” aired a segment last year on the HGTV network in which a contractor accompanied his wife antique shopping. His wife, a noted interior designer and business owner, found him a one part of the antique store stripped down to his underwear wearing only a double-suspendered tool belt. While he had found the long children’s table she had asked him to search out, the joy on his face over the tool belt find could not be ignored. Successive segments continue to show the contractor renovating various homes in their home state of Texas and yes, he is always wearing his beloved tool belt!
While contractor Chip Gaines might not know it, his tool belt is representative of the first belts ever made. Originally, belts were pouches used for storing and carrying things. Made from tree bark, their original inventor is unknown and they date back to the Bronze Age. The steam punk fashion trend of the last decade seeks to combine the Industrial Age with the modern and is characterized by the wearing of multiple belts. This trend, though, also goes back to earlier times.
As belts in the form of pouches with something to attach the body became popular, it also became a means of defense. Gladiators often employed belts to keep their hands ready for combat. By this time, leather was used as ways to soften and preserve it were discovered. A cingulum was a waist belt which held a dagger and was often accessorized with long pieces of studded leather which hung from the waist. The balteus held short swords and was worn as a thin belt across the shoulder. Brass rubbings depicting the Crusades in the latter part of the thirteenth century show hip belts being worn.
The wearing of belts was not a class issue. Peasants and royalty alike wore them although the belts would be decidedly different. King Tut wore a greatly ornate belt while his subjects wore a simple cloth wrapped around their waist. Soldiers tended to be superstitious about their belts and adorned them accordingly. Using amber stones was said to ward off evil while sapphires protected against being taken captive. Amethysts were believed to prevent attacks with weapons and the wearing of emeralds brought about triumph and resulting joy.
Mongols would exchange belts to mark allegiances and the Franks believed the victor gained his enemy’s power once he had seized his belt. The wearing of a belt also was a mark of prowess as is evidenced by the various belts worn in martial arts. Women also used belts in strictly utilitarian fashion until the bag was invented (a previously discussed epiphany). Once the women of the Middle Ages gained handbags and purses, belts were seldom worn. It was not until the twentieth century that belts became a ladies’ fashion item. Borrowing from the soldiers of the Renaissance period who would use belts to make their waists look smaller, women began using sashes as belts.
The belt basically is a long strip of material which holds together two or more other pieces of fabric or items. In this series of epiphanies and invention, we have seen the application of bright ideas in our daily lives. While the belt may seem like a mere fashion accessory, it is perhaps the best metaphor for our attitudes. After all, it is our attitude that binds us in our daily living, not only one to another but to ourselves.
In a 2009 article written for Success Magazine, Keith Harrell wrote: “One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you. We all have a choice. We can choose an inner dialogue of self-encouragement and self-motivation, or we can choose one of self-defeat and self-pity. It’s a power we all have. Each of us encounters hard times, hurt feelings, heartache, and physical and emotional pain. The key is to realize it’s not what happens to you that matters; it’s how you choose to respond. Your mind is a computer that can be programmed. You can choose whether the software installed is productive or unproductive. Your inner dialogue is the software that programs your attitude, which determines how you present yourself to the world around you. You have control over the programming. Whatever you put into it is reflected in what comes out.”
When we use our attitude and positive affirmations to connect happenings in our lives, then we become better prepared. Just as the soldiers throughout history used their belts to prepare themselves for what might lay ahead, our attitude strengthens us to face whatever life may hold. Staying positive, encouraging, and excited about the next hour, day, or year will provide one with tools for living. We need to exercise not only our bodies but our resiliency. The power of the spoken word is enormous but so is the power of the inner voice.
A tunic is just cloth hanging on a body but a tunic with a belt becomes a fashion statement. The cinching of the cloth gives it purpose and broadens its use. Life is sometimes the pits. However, some pits can be replanted to produce a cherry tree. Theologian J. Sidlow Baxter explained: “What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.”
Photographer and philosopher Allan Rufus compares living to a game of chess. “Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with IN-SIGHT and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life!” Certainly our self-affirmations need to be logical. One cannot tell him/herself they will become king of the world because…well….there isn’t one! We can make daily living a cinch, though, by using attitude to connect us with our successes and our failtures and to produce a viable and effective lifestyle.