He is Risen

“Alleluia, Christ is risen”

“He is risen indeed, Alleluia”

This is a call and response that I will hear and participate in numerous times, and that makes me so happy. Why? Because we are at what is arguably the most important and central point of the Christian calendar. I say arguably because some will say if Jesus hadn’t been born at Christmas then we wouldn’t have the life and teachings of Jesus; similarly if Jesus hadn’t been crucified on Good Friday then He wouldn’t have risen. But for me, it is that empty tomb on Easter Sunday that shows what was accomplished and symbolises what was overcome and the power required to overcome it.

Jesus had told people what was going to happen but they didn’t understand, or did believe – well you wouldn’t would you? He seemed to willingly go through the most horrific death known, but it was because he knew that he couldn’t defeat death if didn’t die in the first place. And why? For us, every single one of us.

This is where Aslan and the Lion, the witch and the wardrobe come in handy. Edmund had betrayed Aslan and his brother and sisters by going to the White Witch. The White witch then said that she would kill Edmund as he had gone willingly to her. But Aslan gave his life in place of Edmund. Aslan was killed on the stone table, but the next morning the table was cracked in two and Aslan was gone. He then arrived to Susan and lucy, shining brighter than ever. They couldn’t understand it, but Aslan explained the White Witch didn’t know the deep magic – when someone innocent dies in the place of another death will be defeated and they will come back to life.

Humanity is Edmund, we all have gone away from God, whether it’s meaningful or not, but Jesus was the perfect human. So when, he was killed, he was killed in our place, he took the sacrifice, he defeated death and came back to life. Meaning that we could have eternal life as well.

So yes… Christmas is good… Good Friday important but…

“Alleluia. Christ is Risen”

“He is Risen indeed. Alleluia”

Apprehension

Earlier today I was starting to get some inspiration, so I messaged E with a random question – very usual behaviour I must add! The question was “would you say that apprehension is a strong characteristic of mine or one of my worst faults?” I told you it was strange – but bless her she responded, and I think it’s going to be easiest to quote her – with her permission.

“I think it is a character trait that all of us have but at times it is strong in you – for you it causes you to become anxious. Some might say you can over think which causes the apprehension to become worse. However I do believe you know this about yourself – it certainly is not a fault”

Crikey am I blessed to have a friend who knows me so well and who is so wise!

So why did I ask E this question in the first place?

I think it started when I was leading some training online earlier to one person, a colleague and friend who I have known for over 10 years. I was really nervous about it beforehand, had practiced on the husband this morning and was physically shaking all the way through.

I think I’m apprehensive in two ways physically and mentally

I’ve always been someone who has wanted to stay safe. When I was younger there were lots of things I wouldn’t try because I didn’t know what they would feel like. Even though other people, including my friends would try them I often wouldn’t. One example is escalators, my mum refuses to go down them, I always thought I was scared of them to, until I went down one and it was absolutely fine. Similarly with roller-coasters, I wouldn’t go on them, I then tried one and absolutely loved it and will now quite happily go on any of the big and scary ones.

In my teenage years and since, the diagnosis of epilepsy has not helped my general apprehension. With alcohol for example, I didn’t drink until just before 18, and then I wouldn’t mix drinks as I was scared of the effect to my epilepsy. When I would go out with my friends I would ALWAYS let my parents know if we moved to a different pub – this was in the days before mobiles – bet my parents and friends loved that. But I wanted to make sure they knew in case something happened.

Now I think my apprehension is much more mental than physical – but that’s probably more because I don’t put myself in those physical situations if we’re being completely honest.

Over the years I have done many public talks at church, church groups, collective worship (assemblies), I’ve received much positive feedback BUT nearly every single time before I do the talk I have a read through with E or Gav or both. I know I have had success before, but I do not have the confidence in myself. I worry about what the response will be. When I play keyboard and sing publicly I get so nervous, that I’m physically shaking.

At the moment the apprehension I’m having is in my work life and my personal life. I haven’t been in a classroom for a few months, I know I can teach, but all I can think about is everything I’ve missed, everything everyone else has done that I haven’t, everything that could go wrong, even though I know that it has been a necessity has been beneficial. Personally, One example is I want to get back to a point where I can go running again, but I’m apprehensive. I stopped running because my seizure frequency increased and I was twitchy most days and kept losing my footing, bad enough when walking but even worse when running. I did go for a run, last year, but as predicted I lost my footing and fell over, grazing my knee and hand quite badly. I also want to have confidence in my own ability.

I do think E is right I am aware of my apprehension, it does cause me anxiety – which I often don’t deal with well, and I probably do over-think a lot of things as well.

I’m not sure there is an answer. I don’t think I’m going to suddenly be a ball of confidence, taking a load of risks. But I do think I’m getting to a place where I’m feeling more confident about who I am. Maybe the next time I write a talk, I won’t need to read it through to E?

Optimistic? Pessimistic? Realistic?

It’s been a while but I was inspired when I was watching the news earlier. Amazingly the story wasn’t about the pandemic, pupils going back to school or THE interview. Instead it was an interview with Malala talking about her next project which is to do with a TV deal where she will be working on documentaries, chat shows, and she even mentioned her love of Black Adder! The interviewer asked her about her approach, would she consider herself an optimist or a pessimist? I guess my question would be – why are those the only choices?

I have probably mentioned this before but E is now in my phone as Bloody Positive Friend and she frequently signs texts with BPF! This is because she does encourage me to try to see the positive when I’m struggling. HOWEVER she recognises the reality as well.

I can, sometimes quite easily, get drawn down into a dip. I try to look at things positively but sometimes I find it difficult and I need my BPF to try and nudge me out but I like to think at all times I’m realistic. I’m learning, I hope, to be more realistic at the moment. As I return to work, and I recognise,with the help of others, what is appropriate for me to do.

For me, I see being realistic as recognising what could happen for the best, but also what could go wrong, with the basis of what is actually realistic. I am aware that this sounds utterly bizarre so let me try and give an example…

Shockingly I’m going to use the example of my brain. Although things have not been great with my epilepsy over the last year or two, I know that I have periods of time when it has been much better. This gives me hope to optimistically know that it could be considerably more controlled, and I could be trusted in the kitchen to cook again, or I will be back doing my job to its full, and I will be able to go for a walk without having to text someone.

However, I can also be realistically pessimistic, knowing that I may be trapped by this illness. That I may well have to take medication for my whole life, and will always have limitations – this is where the BPF will say something along the lines of ‘there is so much you can do’ which will possibly be followed by a list.

I think we are probably all optimistic and pessimistic at times, that is fine but I think realism is most important and we shouldn’t push people to be optimistic at all times or tell people off if there is some pessimism.

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.