Changing quickly

Yesterday was the first time I had left the house since I was dropped off back from Church last Sunday. We’ve had snow and ice all week, the husband has been working strange shifts, so I would have had to go for a walk alone. I’ve been rather twitchy, and I figured twitchiness and ice was not a great combination.

Yesterday it was still white when you opened the window but the husband was available so we went for a walk. There was one slip but I kept standing. However, I would not have felt confident walking on my own. And we had to keep going from road to pavement to other pavement – it was rather complex – and that was considerably better than earlier in the week.

Today we opened the curtains and the paths were clear and the only remainder of snow was what was left of models – an example of which you can see above. We went to bed surrounded by snow and woke up to green grass and clear paths – the change was rapid and was an effect of the change in the weather.

I went for a walk again today to the other side of town to get my first vaccination jab. I was wearing completely different clothes – no need for hat and gloves; and just walking perfectly happily on the paths not worrying about whether I was going to slip.

Things can change so quickly but we can learn from the snow statues. They stayed, and are taking longer to go because more has been put into them, they have grown, they have left an impact. Are there elements of you and your personality that you think will leave an impact when other things around might change? Are there things you want to build on so that they will make an impact? Is there a change you think needs to be made quickly and how can you be a part of that?

Living?

This morning I heard someone say this phrase referring to lockdown and, I think pandemic life, in general.

“We’re not living, we’re existing”

I admit that this made me quite angry. There was talk prior to this about how they would never turn down an invite to a meal or a party ever again, but then said this phrase. Why did it make me so angry? Well because I disagree, because to exist needs life. That life may look very different but it is still life, it is still living.

Just before I heard that phrase I had spoken to my mum, and sung happy birthday to her. I haven’t seen her in person since October. However, we still have a strong relationship, possibly speak to each other more and actually see each other on screens more since lockdown.

There’s other people I’ve possibly also spoken to more since the pandemic. And if we go back to my previous blog of roots in my life I would have to say relationships is another one that is important for me.

I know other people have got fitter or healthier during the pandemic, others have started new crafts, others who have started baking and all sorts of other things. That sounds like a lot more like living than just existing.

In the picture at the top we can see an empty path, with dead leaves and dandelions growing through. At the moment it might feel like things are a bit empty, and our lifestyle is definitely going to be different, but that isn’t going to stop the light of tings coming through like the Dandelions.

I can’t wait to go to a pub, or out for a meal with friends and family, but that isn’t my entire life. There is a lot more to it and I’m sure I could find more.

Root…ine

In order to grow I think we all know that we need strong roots. I actually found out from an episode of QI the other day that it’s better to plant a tree in a square hole as that gives more space and encouragement for the roots to go further. However, essentially we know that when we see a plant or a tree that what we can’t see, under the ground getting the nutrients, and providing an anchor are the roots. Without the roots, it will be considerably more difficult. On my walk to work there is a park and a couple of years ago some trees were planted. I really saw the role and importance of the roots with these trees as the majority flourished and continued to grow but a couple stayed as they were – the roots clearly had been hindered.

It’s the same with us, we need to lay roots to enable us to grow. We also need to be aware of what those roots are and whether we need to change them – after all trees are sometimes moved to give them more ground to grow. There isn’t a list of what roots are for humans, we will all have different ones but that’s why we need to be aware, there are possibly some that are similar for all of us. There’s one that I want talk about as part of this blog though. You’ve possibly already worked it out from the title.

I like to know what’s going on, and what I’m doing. When I’m in school I have a routine from the order I do things in the house, the route I walk, the order I do things when I arrive, the structure of my lessons, and what I do when I get home. This helps me to feel comfortable and confident in who I am and what I’m doing. As I gradually increase my time back at work I know that I need to develop my own routine, guidance for each hour of each day to enable me to do my best work.

If I don’t know what is going on I can get very anxious, which can lead to seizures and other anxiety traits… but I know it can get too stringent as well. It really is about creating that right middle ground to allow growth.

Routine has been spoken about a lot over the last year, and the fact that not having a routine, or the change of routine has impacted on people’s mental health. There has been a stress on people developing a routine for themselves and their families. This isn’t necessarily easy but it definitely helps, and I know many people who have seen the difference it makes.

So I think I’d say routine is a root we all share, although it’s going to be different for us all. I’ll have a think about what some of my other roots are and share them over the coming days/weeks.

1 month…

(Warning gruesome photos included) Does a month seem like a short time or a long time to you? I think it often depends on what that month entails. I’ve been waiting for 11th January to arrive, and it seems to have taken some time. But it has now arrived. Today it is one month since my last tonic chlonic seizure – also known as grand mal, or big fits! After the last year and especially the last six months that is quite a major step. I have hinted at aspect of these seizures in previous blogs but I haven’t said anything specific. The seizure I had on the 11th December, well I can’t say a huge amount about what happened I can only really share the results. But the results may give you some idea as to why I’m so grateful today. I was home on my own, and had had a shower. I woke up on the bathroom floor with about an inch of water around me. I was VERY confused. I tried to get up but it is very difficult to get up on a wet tiled floor. I somehow managed, and walked out to the hall where the carpet was soaked as it was in the bedroom. I tried to dry up the water but all I wanted to do was sleep. I was eventually persuaded by my mum and some friends E and H that I should focus on the sleeping – the water will still be there and I needed to look after me. So PJs, sofa, sleeping was what happened, with gradual worrying about the water! As the afternoon went on I started to notice that my face was hurting, and that I was finding it difficult to talk, drink, or eat. I then took this photo Hmmmmmm not good! The swelling got worse, and my jaw was incredibly painful. A couple of days later … There’s honestly some improvement! This is one of the worst seizures I have had, and I am grateful not to have had any tonic chlonic seizures since. I am still having myochlonic (twitching and confusion) every day but I am dealing with that and I am closer now to going two months without a tonic chlonic which is closer to six months! We’re back to taking those small steps again!

Small

Last night myself and the husband were having a screen catch up with a friend. For some reason even when I was talking I kept going off screen. My beloved husband suggested it’s probably because I’m so short! Nice! Luckily I was sitting next to the arm he’d had a jab in this week! Anywho, I’d never really thought of myself as short, but over recent years more and more people have pointed it out to me. This is obviously exasperated by having a 6ft7 husband, but I have also found that short trousers do fit better! Anywho, is it an issue? Well, I don’t think so.

We often associate larger things with better. Our goals may be for bigger things, which may mean more expensive, more memory, or physically larger. However, if we look at the photo above we see hills, but those hills are the result of innumerable tiny grains of sand. The next day those hills will be completely different because the tiny grains will be in different places, moved by wind or sea or people.

Our lives are like those hills, made up of so many small things, but creating something magnificent. We need to recognise the small things as it can sometimes be something that we do to those small things that affects the magnificence of the entirety.

In my previous posts I have spoken about the journeys we are on; those journeys are made up of small steps. Our dreams may be big, but we have to be willing to go through the small steps to reach those dreams.

Yes I am considerably smaller than my husband but we both have our uses and together we work as a team. We are all different but there are many of us, and together we can create a team that can truly make a difference.

I’ll finish off with a couple of examples…

I do cross stitch – lots of individual stitches that make images eventually

I’ve played in Orchestras and sung in choirs – the different harmonies make a tune

What’s your role?

Brave

Since the first lockdown I have been regularly zooming with a prayer supporter from the diocesan healing centre. In our last session I was not in a good way, it was soon after I had damaged my jaw and I knew that I wouldn’t be seeing my mum over the Christmas break as well as being generally low. Anywho, she ended our session by reading a passage from the Bible which I can honestly say I was not familiar with: Jeremiah 6:16

This is what the Lord says “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…”

This passage was so perfect for me on that day, and still is today… I’m at a point when I don’t know what my future holds. This is partially because we don’t know what is happening as a result of the pandemic, but also I don’t know how I will respond to the new medication that I am taking, and how/when I’ll be returning to work.

Today, as I went for my walk I was listening to a song the lyrics of which include:

‘Cause you make me brave… you call me out beyond the shore into the waves’ (Bethel music, You make me brave

I am most definitely standing at the crossroads, and I have been convinced that there was only one path that I was destined to take. However, since hearing that passage, and listening to those lyrics I’ve realised it’s more that there’s only one path I know, and that I need to be willing to look down the other paths, and brave enough to try them if they are good.

There is a difference between braveness and stupidity and I think that’s what I’ve got to focus on the most. When I’m considering the different paths, even the one I’ve always been convinced is correct I need to ensure I would be brave to attempt it and not stupid.

Hmmmmmmmm that could be interesting!

The importance of hope

Last week on Christmas Eve I felt a renewed sense of understanding of the hope that Christmas brings through the birth of Jesus. What brought this understanding to the forefront of my mind? I finally got a prescription for my new medication which I had been waiting for for a long time, and my hope is that this medication is going to make a difference.

A definition of hope that I found was

“Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes”

Within Christianity there is a belief that Jesus is the light of the world, that his life brought light in to the world. We all know that light breaks through the darkness, and that is the hope that Christianity associates with the birth of Jesus. There is darkness in the world, but there is a hope that the light can be seen and can remove the darkness.

What is the darkness in your life? How can you bring hope and light in to those situations? What is your hope as we enter 2021?

My hope is that my new medication makes a difference and that I am then able to make a difference and bring a hope and light to others.

It is what it is?

I was watching the Paul O’Grady programme where he has been having a staycation in Kent. In the episode I was watching he was going shrimping in Dungeness, and the person he was shrimping with was saying that it was just what his life was, as that is what he has grown up doing.

I went for a walk with a friend this morning and as we were talking, walking and drinking coffee we ended up saying that that’s what life is, it is just what it is. We’d been talking about grammar schools – obviously- and she asked if there were grammar schools in Birmingham so I told her my story…

Yes, there are grammar schools in Birmingham but the ratio of grammar schools is considerably smaller to the ratio in Kent. When it came to choosing secondary school I really wasn’t that fussed. It came to the open morning at one of the girls grammar schools and I thought ‘I might as well look at it’; so I looked round the school and I thought ‘I might as well take the tests’; so I did the practice books and took the tests; I found out I’d passed and thought ‘I might as well go’. None of my friends were going, I knew nobody but for some reason I decided to go.

I can honestly say that decision made my life what it is; and yet none of it feels like decisions but just a series of ‘I might as well’ ‘It is what it is’.

It has been a VERY long time since I have written and that is simply because I have been struggling mentally and physically. The brain has been playing up which has led to numerous seizures and numerous injuries including black eyes, broken toes, and a bruised jaw! However, although there has been frustration I have often responded to people ‘It is what it is’.

My seizures started when I started secondary school, the two weren’t linked – more to do with age! They have been a part of my life ever since. I don’t believe there is a reason why they are a part of my life but they are. I just live with it, and do what I can, and don’t do what I can’t. I’ve known I’ll never drive; I know I spend most time around the end of the year indoors at night due to fireworks and Christmas decorations; I know not to go to discos; and I know I need to allow my body to rest after seizures. After all, it is what it is.

2020 has been a very strange year for all of us; it is very easy to focus on the negative. For example, this Christmas we weren’t able to see either of our mum’s in person. However we were able to speak to them both, go to church and spend time our family there, and have a blessed time just the two of us. There was no choice – it was what it was.

As we enter 2021 maybe ‘it is what it is’ needs to be a motto we try to hold on to. As I look back even when I haven’t really made decisions Good has come out of it; even as bad appears to be happening good can also result. I believe we all have a Path that we are walking along, we have company but may often feel alone. It is our path, t we may not understand why we are walking it, or why we are walking different bits at different times. It is at this point that I find I need to say…

IT IS WHAT IT IS

Traditions?

What traditions do you have? Are there certain meals you have on certain days? Certain dates that you do things? Certain decorations you use?

17 years ago the husband wanted to follow a tradition. 5 days earlier we had already decided we were going to get married, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. Then we were going to a service at canterbury cathedral, but went to the cloisters first. Gav got down on one knee and asked me to marry him (officially). In those 5 days he had phoned my dad and asked his permission. He wanted to follow tradition. I believe my dad, quite typically, responded “please take her from me”

I’ve just been watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire during which they have the Yule Ball – a traditional dance where people wear traditional clothes.

There’s a lot of talk at the moment of whether Christmas is going to be cancelled. What this really means is are the traditions going to be cancelled. After all it’s not possible to cancel what Christmas celebrates. But what are the traditions people are worried about? Winter wonderlands; festive food courts; parties; turning on of lights etc

Why do we like traditions? Often they mean something to us, and will bring back memories. Sometimes it’s because we’re told that that is what we’re supposed to do. But do we need them?

I know after the event of 17 years ago my traditions started to change as the traditions of mine and the husbands merged!

I think we’re heading more to a time where we really do have to focus on what we’re able to do each day and be grateful for that than worry about what we’re not able to. Traditions can be good, can be fun, can be nice but there’s more to focus on at the moment.

Search to find

It’s not been an easy return to school. As well as dealing with bubbles, one way systems, social distancing, face masks, and virtual worship. I’ve also had to contend with a lump on the head, a black eye, an eye infection, the arm falling off my glasses mid lesson; numerous seizures and currently a broken toe.

E and another friend asked after my toe today, and once I’d given the update they both mentioned something along the lines of “at least it’s healing”. E now has a new name on my phone – “bloody positive friend”. No matter what is going on she will find the positive and she will encourage me to find it as well – I’m sure she’d agree that there are times it’s much easier than others.

At our church we have a part of the service which is called “moment of the week” – an opportunity for us to share what has happened in our week and to thank God for it. I always used to be someone who could be relied upon to share something during this time but since September I struggled, and rarely contributed – after all everything seemed so rubbish. However, a couple of weeks ago I was meeting with my house group from church and as part of our discussion we read an extract from Philippians 2 where it talks about not grumbling and shining like stars.

I came to the realisation that at times it’s not going to obvious what my moment of the week is going to be, but if I search for it I will find where God is at work. This week my motw was the family friends colleagues and pupils taking care of me and my broken toe!

You may know I’m a strictly and GBBO fan, both of which have only been possible because people have been willing to sacrifice their families to be able to go in to different bubbles. Both of these programmes have bought smiles to people’s faces and strictly especially has bought the necessary sparkle. The passage in Philippians talks about shining like stars in the sky, but in order to do that we need to search for the good that’s happening, be willing to make sacrifices and share the brightness around.

Go on SHINE!