About 3 years ago I was living a very different life. I was seizure free, I had lost weight, I was running, I was enjoying life, I started writing a blog about it!!!!
I’m having seizures again, the weight is back if not more (I’m too scared to step on the scales) I can’t go out running, I struggle in life, my blog is a lot wider than just how I lost weight! (Not the only thing that is wider)
So why? I could make many an excuse. It is very easy to blame the epilepsy. Since I’ve started having seizures again I’m not able to do as much exercise as I was doing; I’m on a high dose of a drug that increases my appetite; I’ve always been a stress eater and along with the epilepsy the last couple of years have been mighty stressful.
These are all facts, but if I’m being honest with myself they are all excuses as well. Pretty good excuses but excuses all the same! I guess I probably should add in lockdown as well, I have been going for walks but nowhere near as much as I would do normally.
So what am I going to do?
I know I can do it, I know I feel better for doing it, I know there are things which I can do instead of the running etc, but I also know I’m no good with a manifesto!
The idea of a manifesto scares me, puts pressure on me, and I’m really no good with pressure. I know that it’s only something I can do and I know it’s something I need to put into my life.
So now to stop making excuses and to not worry about a manifesto or anyone else’s manifesto but to live the life I’ve been given.
I’m an idiot – something I own up to quite regularly! But I can honestly say it wasn’t until today that I saw the link between courage and encouragement and therefore the real meaning behind encouragement.
I guess when I’ve thought about encouraging people before I’ve just thought about geeing people up, making them feel happier. Today, for example I was just leaving the living room to head to the study and the husband said ‘thank you for encouraging me’ I just thought it was because I said I’d enjoyed his sermon, but also because of some other stuff that’s going on at the moment. But then… when I got in to the study I was looking at the worship for school this week where the theme is courage and it was whilst I was doing this that the penny dropped!
To encourage someone is something we talk about regularly but is SO much more than just geeing someone up, it is about giving somebody courage. We all need courage in different ways and similarly we all encourage in different ways but we all have the ability to do so.
Since the penny dropped and I realised how much encouragement actually meant I have felt challenged. Where do people I know need courage in their lives and how can I encourage them? But I think one of the biggest challenges is where do I need courage in my life and do others know that I need courage in those areas? Because if people don’t know you need courage then they are less likely to encourage you?
Today has been a bit of an odd day (I know it’s not over yet). Yesterday was my birthday, which considering it was in lockdown was pretty epic. But today is a year since we rushed up to Birmingham because my dad had passed away. Today was also back to ‘work’ with morning briefing and various other tasks to complete.
One of the presents the husband got for me yesterday was the latest version of the Lion King. We watched it yesterday, and I just hadn’t thought about the themes that come through it, and the emotions started.
1 when Simba is following Mufasa up pride rock and Simba’s entire foot went in to just the bottom part of Mufasa’s footprint. It made Simba stop and take notice, and it made me stop and think as well. Any of you who knew my dad know that, when he was able, he LOVED a walk. And the majority of the time I would be following behind him. Although I mainly follow after my mum, my dad was definitely an inspiration for me and set a great example. I know that I didn’t always realise it but I know it’s also true. And I don’t just mean the mane of hair and sarcasm! He worked hard for as long as he was able, scouting was a huge part of his life, he encourage my brother and I to achieve our dreams.
2. When Simba has gone to the Elephant graveyard and Mufasa spoke to him afterwards. Mufasa expressed his disappointment but also spoke to him about the responsibility that would come to him, and about how proud he has always been. My dad wasn’t really a talker, well not about emotions etc. However, he made it clear when he was disappointed, but also would help us to move forward. My brother and I always knew he was proud of us even if he didn’t necessarily tell us.
3 finally (I could keep going) there’s a part in the film where Mufasa tells Simba that the kings from the past are the stars in the sky always looking down. This comes back later in the film as well. There is also Timon and Pumba who think that’s a load of rubbish and we should live our lives by the motto Hakuna Matata – no worries for the rest of your days. I don’t necessarily think my dad is looking down on me, but I am constantly reminded of him, the character he was, and the impact he has had on me. I also believe I will be reunited with him. As much as I love the song Hakuna Matata the meaning of it – not really – there is so much more to it than just living your life for you!
It’s been a bit of an odd day and I think 1st June often will be. I did write “it will always be a day when I will remember my dad” – but I deleted it because quite frankly there are so many things that remind me of him day to day! Thanks for everything Dad x
“It must be easy being a teacher… you only work 9-4 and think of all those holidays”
I can’t count the amount of times I have heard that or similar statements. Don’t worry I’m not going to go in to a rant about how inaccurate it is, but I will say, as a teacher I am always ready for the holiday – and the children usually are as well!
Last week it was slightly different, I have been doing work at home: preparing lessons, marking work, meeting pupils online, starting to think about next year (as much as can be done) and other bits and pieces as they have come along. However… it has all been at home, I have been able to take regular breaks, my alarm has been set later, and there isn’t the regular contact with people. So in my mind although I knew it was officially half term, I also felt I could just carry on as I had been doing – without the daily meeting – after all it was no different was it?
This is where I am thankful for observant friends and family who either suggested or instructed me to take a break this week. This is also where I would be grateful for a saluting emoji!!!!!!! E,S,H, mum and husband to name a few – but possibly the most dominant especially E and S!
So, the husband has been on annual leave – I made the decision at the beginning of the week that I would do no school work Monday to Wednesday – other than a couple of NECESSARY emails this was kept to. We went for walks, watched some films generally just spent time relaxing. By Thursday I felt so much better and when I sat down at the laptop I actually got the work I needed to get done significantly quicker than usual. Similarly on Friday. This meant that I was able to not do school work today.
If I hadn’t listened to those that cared for me, and if I hadn’t made a conscious decision of when I wouldn’t do school work, I honestly don’t think I would be feeling as good mentally and physically as I do.
In my previous post I spoke about the pilgrimage that the husband and I went on. Part of that pilgrimage was talking about what we felt God was saying to us. One of the main things for me is about my relationship with God, and my understanding of in order to develop that I need to stop and spend time speaking and listening. Throughout the Bible there are so many examples of people to stop and to listen, and from there relationships grow.
It is so easy to get caught up in life and not recognising the need to break and rest. We may not always recognise it for ourselves but we need to listen to the guidance and sometimes instruction given to us by those who see us.
I’ve been thinking about journeys a lot over the last few weeks. Some of the reasons are because we’re coming up to the anniversary of losing my dad, and when I gave the talk at his funeral I spoke about journeys; in the current situation I often wonder if I should go for different journeys to the walks I often do; there are journeys I know I can’t go on at the moment – I would love to be in Birmingham at the moment; it’s part of our official vision at school – being a pilgrim; I’m wondering what my journey generally in life is going to be following this.
Today the husband and I went on a journey, although I guess you might call it more of a pilgrimage. We walked around Canterbury but our route was specific, stopping at each of the Church of England Parishes in the Centre – according to the Fitbit 9.3km.
We started off at the Church closest to us (makes sense) but this also happened to be the Church that we met at, where we got married, and that has been a HUGE part of our life. It felt so special and appropriate to start our journey today at the same place that we started our journey together and that has played a fundamental part.
Part of the reason I say we went on a pilgrimage as opposed to a journey is because we had a specific route and faith element. As we were walking around between the Churches we spoke about memories inevitably, but also spoke about what we felt God was challenging us about at the moment and what journey we were on
As I said at each Church we spent some time in prayer. One of us would read a prayer and then one of us would say a prayer for that parish, the leadership, the congregation and the community. We took a book of Celtic prayers with us, we started with the intention of reading a different prayer at each Church but then after the first one that the husband read we read the same one at each church. It was one that we felt was the centre of our faith, brought the churches together but also was appropriate for us to be saying as part of our journey
The prayer we read was: The cross and resurrection
Lord of endless inspiration, who keeps the seasons turning and creation renewed, plant in me a renewal of life, as I leave my past behind, and look forward to what is to come.
Give me the boldness to step out into the future, knowing that you hold all things in your hand as I walk the path you lay before me.
May I stand in your righteousness, and move forward wrapped in the knowledge of a clean heart and a clear conscience. Amen
The Church above is the Church we are a part of now, and has played a large part in our journey. We found it quite amusing that it was the easiest Church to get a whole photo of! Our moving to this church over 5 years ago was one of the biggest decisions we have had to make and took a long time, a lot of talking and a lot of prayer – we know now that it was possibly one of the best decisions we have made, but also a way to learn that you can never really know and you have to take steps of faith – really not my strong point!
As we walked and we spoke and we shared, we realised that both of us are being challenged on similar things in our faith journey at the moment and that actually we would be able to develop, help and encourage each other. Many pilgrimages are associated with following certain routines and doing the same thing. Maybe this walk of Canterbury or even just a sense of pilgrimage is something WE need to do more frequently. Taking the time to listen to each other but also listen to God.
As we were walking round the city we were also trying to spot the Cathedral. Obviously in Canterbury the Cathedral is rather a famous part of the City. On the route we took today we didn’t get many views. Some people may have been disappointed by that, but I think sometimes we need to focus on what’s ahead of us and we may get little glimmers of something more spectacular
We’re all on journeys, some are physical, some spiritual, some straightforward, some difficult. My advice… take what you can from whatever journeys you’re on at the moment and don’t worry if you get lost – you’re not on your own!
What this tends to mean to teenagers is that I have rules in the classroom, I expect them to be followed, and there are consequences if not. I’m not so good with this myself!
I was talking to someone yesterday about some of the things that have made me feel better over the last couple of weeks, and it was things like writing the blogs (allowing time to reflect); playing the piano and singing; going out more regularly for walks; completing more walk; talking face to face with friends.
HOWEVER even though I know that these were beneficial and probably helped towards me being more productive (not just with work) I said to this person that I didn’t want to be prescriptive about when I would do these things because I would be less likely to do them, and therefore less productive overall.
I think it’s fair to say I’m a rather complex and contradictory person.
I like to know what I need to get done; but I don’t like to be told exactly how it is to be done
I like to be encouraged to do things; but once it’s an expectation I’m less likely to do them
I like to do things that make me feel good; but once I’m being told to do them I tend to stop
You probably get the general gist, but I think it’s important that I recognise this weakness in me. After all, I’m the only one who can really do anything about it. I believe that I have been created with certain skills, and have been given certain calls in life. I also have been created with an amazing ability of stubbornness.
To have things prescribed for me really is not beneficial (apart from my medications) so I need to try and find the times and opportunities to be able to do the things from allow me to be productive, and therefore avoid actions having to be predictive.
To quickly return to me being a scary teacher. It may take a couple of lessons but it is generally recognised that the rules are necessary to be able to have productive lessons. I may not want to be too predictive in my own life, but there has to be some element to allow for productivity. Once, or should I say if, I find the balance I’ll let you know.
The last few weeks have been a real struggle for me. I think this is for a number of reasons, and I know I’m not unique in that. But I feel like I’m coming out of it, and over this week I keep being reminded of the Phoenix.
There are two key things that you need to understand about the Phoenix
1. They burst into flames and then rise again out of the ashes
2. They have healing tears
When Harry Potter first met Fawkes – the Phoenix that belonged to Professor Dumbledore it happened to be on a burning day. Harry was obviously quite shocked when this bird that didn’t look too great in the first place burst into flames in front of him. Then he had to explain to Dumbledore, but Dumbledore explained to him ‘it was time’ and the Fawkes started to appear out of the ashes.
It was necessary for Fawkes to burn in order to rise and live, although I’m not entirely sure that’s what he was thinking during the process. If I’m completely honest it’s not just been a tough few weeks but a tough year, and there have been some real down points. I have learnt from some of the moments, and I have become stronger in some situations, I can see the positives as I look back. But… when I’m feeling low I don’t sit there thinking what can I learn from this situation, how will I become stronger, I sit on the sofa watching rubbish and feeling rubbish.
Please do not misunderstand me and think that we should celebrate feeling rubbish, but I do think it is important to recognise that sometimes those ashes are necessary for the person we are to become and the strengths that we will have.
Now I do love a murder mystery, and I love where the detectives have to really seek through the evidence. I’ve watched a couple recently where they have had to seek through ashes. I find it fascinating how the remnants in a pile of ashes can help decipher a persons involvement.
Fawkes played a vital role in the second of the Harry Potter stories where he blinds the Basillisc and cries on Harry to heal him. Why such a vital role? Because Harry had shown loyalty to Dumbledore. That might not have been the response of another Phoenix but they may have aided someone else.
Our ashes, our low points, will have a specific impact on us, and they may then enable us to provide ‘healing tears’ for others. I don’t mean to go and cry on people but that because of our experiences we may then be able to provide the necessary support for others who are experiencing similar situations and feelings.
We can learn a lot from the Phoenix, when we feel low it need only for a period of time and when we rise from the ashes we can grow from the place we have been and help others as well.
If you feel you are in a place of ashes at the moment, have faith that you will start to grow and will be given strength.
I have always been somewhat anxious and apprehensive. This wasn’t in particular situations but in numerous. For example going down steep hills, playing instruments solo in front of others, trying new things which seemed they could be dangerous. When I look back I realise that I have missed out on a lot of experiences because I was scared. Most of the time I wasn’t scared of the action itself, but I was scared of looking like a fool.
I imagine many of my friends are laughing now as I seem to make a fool of myself a lot of the time.
These blogs are a rarity for me because I just write them. Usually if I am doing public speaking, public writing, or even responding to an email I will ask someone else to check what I’ve written first. A lot of my fear comes from a lack of confidence in myself.
Again, I don’t really know where this comes from, but I know that it is there.
This evening I ended up grinning like a Cheshire Cat. The reason was because a friend encountered raged me to send an email to challenge some changes that I didn’t feel were fair. It took me a while to build up the courage, because I didn’t believe that people would listen to me, and I also didn’t think my email made sense. However, it all worked out and I had made a valid point.
I’ve said it before but people refer to me as brave because of living with my brain, but to me that’s not bravery, that’s life.
Bravery is having confidence in yourself to try new things, challenge things that need to be challenged, and share your skills and talents rather than keeping them locked up. Bravery looks different for us all, it often comes from dark places but once it’s there it flowers and affects other people.
I have just got back from my daily stroll, during which I managed to listen to yesterday and today’s ‘Bible in one year’ readings. Yesterday’s included the Parable of the Good Samaritan – probably a Parable we are all familiar with but if not then click here.
When Jesus is talking about the Priest and the Levite he said that when they saw the injured man they ‘passed by on the other side’ – this would have been seen as atrocious at the time. However, having just got back from my daily stroll, there was a lot of passing by on the other side. We are currently having to work out who is going to cross over the road, walk on a different path, or hide in a cove in the bushes.
To be a Good Samaritan at the moment is to walk the other way, to cross the road, to hide. But if we allow ourselves to think slightly differently then we can all be the neighbours that Jesus was illustrating when telling this Parable. Letting others know when you’re shopping so that less people need to go; keeping in touch with people – not just family but those who are alone; showing support to all our key workers; finding out what volunteering opportunities there are in your community.
I hope it is obvious that you shouldn’t put yourself or anyone else at risk, but there are still ways of being a Good Samaritan and ironically passing by on the other other side is definitely one!
Yesterday I was in the middle of updating my fb status when I ended up deleting it instead because I didn’t want to upset people and I didn’t think it was correct. After thinking, and talking things through virtually with E my initial thoughts are becoming a blog instead.
Apparently 3 years ago I completed the tapestry above. This was part of the largest tapestry I’ve ever done – an A-Z of God and as you can see I had just completed H for healer. Yesterday I automatically thought well this is perfect for now, because there are so many that need healing.
This was when I stopped… we see the numbers rising everyday and we know the numbers are only going to continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
Over the years I have been spoken to numerous times about healing for my brain, it has sometimes been so painful because I have been made to feel that it is my fault that God has not healed me, that I still have epilepsy, I clearly don’t care enough or believe.
It’s not that I don’t believe that God can heal. I do and I believe God has healed me, just not necessarily the way people might expect, but more in the way I approach it (maybe not think about the last couple of months).
It’s the same in the world at the moment. There may be people who are healed from the virus, but there will be thousands who won’t. However I see healing taking place in other ways. Communities being rebuilt; relationships developing; gratefulness for what we had and are no longer able to access; acknowledgement of key services which have often been taken for granted; more exercise for some as they take advantage of their one daily outdoor exercise.
Healing doesn’t have to be miraculous, but it will often change the mindset.
I believe God is a healer, but I have no idea how that healing will look, for me, or for the world.