Finding the sun

It was a bit chilly as I walked to work this morning. The sun was in the process of rising, and it was absolutely stunning. I would have taken a photo but my hands were full with it being the first day back!

So… it was rather chilly. It reminded me of the mornings in the caravan, when you’d put your leg out from the duvet and quickly huddle back up again. But then as soon as the curtains were open the sun came streaming in. It was lighter and almost immediately it was warmer.

The sun is quite phenomenal, it brings us light, it brings us warmth, it brings us life.

Over the last few days I’ve had some real surprise sunny moments, whether that be a 84 minute phone call with E, unexpected lunch with friends, or walking in to a room and seeing some people’s faces that literally made my heart leap. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I was in a dark place, but it was like those sudden bursts of energy you get through a cloud. Little forces of energy that help you along the way.

Sometimes though, we have to make the effort to find the sun. That may be opening the curtains, or going on holiday where you know it will be sunny. I have a number of things that I know bring me energy WHEN I do them, emphasis being WHEN – playing the piano, reading, spending quality time with the husband. But I know that I need to be the one who chooses to do them.

I also know that I can sometimes block out the sun, getting caught up in myself, my thoughts, my perceived inadequacies and inevitably hiding myself away. That’s when I need to open the curtains. I might not be able to open them fully straight away but gradually I can let the light in.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be a sun-chaser but I’m going to be trying to recognise the spontaneous sunny moments, and choose to let the sun in when things are a bit dreary.

Choosing to not control

I don’t know about you but it’s rare that I watch live TV anymore.

This is especially if it’s not on the two channels that frequent the two spots on most people’s menu – why? Adverts. I rarely watch them any more, and will choose to start a programme late so that we can fast-forward through the adverts.

However, this was not an option in the caravan, or in the B&B we’ve just stayed in. And actually, we survived. In fact I found the commercial breaks quite helpful, a good time to go and get a drink, put the PJs on, have a conversation without disturbing the programme, or, of course, the comfort break!

Breaks are essential in all aspects of life, we see it from the beginning and creation. I’m probably pushing this a bit far now, but we get to choose how we use those breaks, we can rush through them because there’s so much more we need to get done in that extra 10 ,minutes of time, or we can choose to just go with the flow, and make the most of the breaks as they come along. In our household we’re inevitably going to have to pause at some point anyway, so why not use the breaks we’re given?

On a practical not, this also stops the frustration with the person in control of the controls who isn’t paying attention and not fast-forwarding!

This is linked with wanting what we want, when we want it. Another reason we don’t watch a huge amount of live TV is because we have things recorded, or we use streaming services. This means that we can watch what we want, when we want it.

Again, not a possibility in the caravan. We had to rely on the scheduling of the people who’s job it is to schedule. Trusting that they would know what they were doing. If there wasn’t anything on, turning the TV off.

This again, helped with Switching off to power up

We have so much power over things like what we watch, that we can worry when that power gets taken away. But this can easily transfer to other aspects of life.

We think we could be in control, rather than trusting those people who actually have training and expertise.

Am I going to stop watching Recorded programmes? Probably not. But I’m not going to be afraid to turn it off, and do something else rather than finding, something, anything to watch, or take the time through the breaks rather than fast forwarding.

It’s handy to be given power and choice, but it’s often more liberating to hand that over to others, and just enjoy the experience!

Ripples

I usually use other’s photos for blog posts but this is my own, taken at Rye Harbour when I was away.

I find it beautiful, although doesn’t do justice to the vastness in real life.

The sea was quite far out, there was what felt like a pebble mountain to get down, and in between was the vast sand.

The beach was covered with these ripples, the result of the sea. I don’t know about you but I often associate sea with washing things away, building sand castles and fortresses only for them to be washed away. However, we sometimes forget the transformative power of it as well.

Under foot these sand ripples were rather hard, and I could tell that after the. Ext tide they would still be there. They would change, but they would still be there.

It is so easy to think that things in life will just go away. We may feel like we’re under water, but once the water goes away then it’s over, it’s done with. BUT we forget about the effects, and how long standing they may be. Yes, over time, they may seemingly disappear, but really it’s just become a part of who we are.

There is no one thing that defines who we are. We are a cumulative result of our many tides of life. We may think that some of the tides are harmful and damaging, but we need to remember that we are beautiful. We are also unique. No one has experienced the same tides that we have, therefore no one will have the same ripples.

Switching off to power up

I’ve just got back from a few nights away in a caravan with my mum. It has been lovely. Just what I needed.

However, when I arrived I realised I was going to have to switch off.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t completely roughing it. We had electricity BUT we had to watch what was on, and although there was good 4G access, streaming was not an option. I contemplated paying for wifi but E persuaded me that switching off was my best option.

Shockingly, E, was correct.

My biggest concern was going to sleep, as I normally watch stuff, and have had to have noise as I go to sleep for as long as I can remember. But I had my MP3 player, and after my first night of falling asleep with ease and sleeping straight through I realised it wasn’t going to be an issue.

I have read more this week than I have in a long time, I’ve even had two books on the go. One for my book group (I actually can’t remember the last book group book I finished) and one for interest, that will help with work.

So, I’ve switched off, and it has been great, but I’ve also powered up.

It’s not rocket science but I’ve realised I don’t read as much as I used to, because there’s so much else to do. TV to catch up on, rubbish binge watching, finding the next box set to watch. But because that wasn’t an option I’ve been able to find the time to read. I’ve been loving my book of interest because it has reignited a flame, of why I love teaching my subject so much.

Whilst we were away we caught the light railway to Dungeness. I love the irony of Dungeness, that there is barely anything there, there are a few houses, and untouched beautiful beach…. and, of course, the power station. You almost need a barren place, to be able to have a space big enough to provide that power.

At the beginning of the holiday I took a walk, and sat under a tree, and I listened to what God was saying to me. I read a psalm that I have never read before (that I remember) and I had a clear sense of what I needed to do, and what my oath was going to be.

Our world is constantly moving, it requires power, but sometimes we need to make that conscious choice to step away, turn it off, and power ourselves up to empower others.

Scabs and Scars

I am a picker of scabs.

I have lots of scars.

I am yet to really learn that the two things are related.

For as long as I can remember I have picked at scabs. I find it somehow therapeutic, the pain eases, and there is a weird relief. This has been especially problematic in recent times due to the way I ‘deal’ or should I say ‘react’ to anxiety.

However, I may have finally learnt the lesson.

Nearly two weeks ago I went for a run. I haven’t been for a run for ages, and when I found myself on my backside on the pathway I remembered why. Over the last year I have found myself having more myochlonic seizures which sometimes mean I lose my footing. This is annoying when walking, and it turns out to be quite dangerous when running.

In true MrsN fashion I got some injuries, including a rather large cut in the bottom centre of my right palm. That is a really annoying place to get a cut. Over the last two weeks I have not picked at it once. I have felt it healing, as the skin has stretched and tightened, and I have seen it healing.

I’m a picker of scabs, so why haven’t I picked at this one? I think it’s purely because of its location. It is in such an awkward place, that my knowledge of letting it heal and not picking at it seems to have finally kicked in.

You know me though, it’s no surprise that I managed to get such ridiculous injuries in the summer holiday, but it’s also no surprise to hear that this has got me thinking about metaphors for life

Last week the husband and I were watching a travel programme in Bosnia, where everything seemed to be focussed around the events of the war. I do not wish to belittle those events, and I know I have no idea what it must have been like to experience. However, it was as though they did not want to let it go at all. It didn’t seem to be about remembering the events, but about constantly experiencing it again.

The day after my meeting with the path I was battered, bruised and extremely shook up. I was really apprehensive about leaving the house in case I should lose my footing again. Eventually I dragged myself up to the local supermarket – mainly because E was telling me I couldn’t let my knee get stiff. If I hadn’t gone out that day, I now worry whether I would have made it out that week. I was still in pain, I did lose my footing a couple of times, but I did it and I didn’t fall.

We all experience things which throw us, they are likely to cause wounds of some description. But do we dwell on them, keep picking over what has happened, possibly creating longer term scarring. Or do we live with the pain of the moment, and allow it to heal in it’s own time.

The wound on my hand has gradually been getting smaller, it’s still there, it’s still hurting, but it’s smaller. I have been grateful for antiseptic creams and tubular bandages to hold the dressing in place. I have also been grateful for people willing to open bottles, push down toasters, and generally help out the invalid.

As I was thinking about this blog, I was reminded of a Matt Redman song, ‘Never Once’ the pre-chorus says

“Scars and struggles on the way; but with joy I gladly say; never once did I ever walk alone”

We are going to get Scars in life, that is inevitable, but we can choose how bad those scars are. They are going to be smaller if we allow ourselves to experience the pain, to allow the scars to heal by themselves, knowing that we are not alone and allowing others to help us out when our scars are inhibiting us.

I know I have a long way to go to get this embedded in my life and the way I process things. But I am hoping that when this wound finally heals completely, I will see that it was worth the wait, the pain, the resisting of temptation, and that it may stop me physically picking at scabs, even if the mental and spiritual process may still need some work!

Take me away from me

I like to be alone. I’m not great with quiet, but I like to be alone. For example when I walk to work in the mornings I go at ridiculous o’clock so that my route is nice and quiet, I put the headphones in, and I take the same route everyday. When the husband worked in the same direction as me he walked with me one morning – worst journey ever. Don’t get me wrong, I love the man, but, he wanted to talk. We were talking about this with my friend in Brum the other week, who said ‘she’s never liked to talk in the morning’ as we used to sometimes get the same bus in the morning, but I would sit on my own!

People question the time I leave, the fact that I walk rather than get the bus, but it works for me. I’ve always been more of a morning person – I follow after my mum. My walk gives me time to wake up, and prepare for the day ahead. There aren’t many people in work when I arrive, so I’m able to just get on with stuff. It works for me. My classroom is barely quiet, and there will often be 80s music blaring out, but it is often only me in there – and that works.

However, it isn’t always good, and I can be my own worst enemy. Last night I gave the husband permission to ‘take me away from me’ when I go back to work. I have a tendency to over think things, and sometimes I can get completely caught up in what’s going on in my head, which often has a detrimental effect on my health, well-being and everyday life. So I have told the husband that if he can see that I’m caught up in ‘me’ that he has permission to take me for a walk or go for a pint but essentially to take me away from me.

I’m good at hibernation, but when I hibernate I take myself away from everyone. There may be times when I need to avoid large groups of people as I get too anxious, but I also need to force myself to not hibernate from those who give the strength to get through the hibernation like the husband, E or D. I always seem to get shocked in the holidays when I spend large amounts of time with the husband, how much I love spending time with him and how good it is for me. I need to recognise now how that can help me get through the other times as well.

I like to be alone, and it can be helpful at times, but I give permission for people to take me away from me when they can see that I am not helping myself.

Moments

“I’m doing alright” “I’m just getting on with things” have possibly been my most used sentences over the last couple of months, and on the whole that has been true. But then, there are moments.

Teaching Religious Studies, we look at festivals within religions. All religions have festivals, why? To remember moments, key moments that have shaped the religion. Sometimes those are the happy moments, but sometimes it’s seemingly bad moments, but still moments that have shaped the religion.

2.5 weeks ago I was ‘doing alright’ until I said the words to S ‘it’s Dads birthday today’ and the grief came over me, and kept doing so. Dad was never too fussed about his birthday, but it was still a moment, that we recognised, and this year, a reminder that he wasn’t with us to celebrate it. The Birmingham contingent met together in one of his favourite eateries and the Canterbury contingent had steak and chips in his honour, a moment.

Today, another moment, as his ashes were interred at our parish Church. It was lovely, especially as his final physical resting place, is in the place that has been has been his spiritual home for 39 years. It was lovely, but I wasn’t expecting the emotion that I felt (am feeling) as I knew it was a short, simple service with just the 5 of us (plus clergy – don’t want to offend) but it has been difficult, Whether that is because it felt like a final goodby, or because I hadn’t necessarily prepared myself as much as I had for the funeral, but it probably didn’t help with heading back to Canterbury afterwards as well – something I always struggle with, especially recently.

Moments! When something specific happens – positive, negative, happy, sad – for me this week has been full of them. Celebrating the husbands birthday, catching up with school friends, remembering mum and dads anniversary, celebrating a friend’s wedding, inferring dads ashes. That’s a lot of moments BUT it’s not all about the moments

Religious calendars have key events, but in the liturgical calendar of the Church of England the majority of the calendar is ‘ordinary time’ where we remember the teachings of Jesus, the everyday, and its green to represent a time of growth. There are going to be key moments when I will remember Dad, and those days may seem more momentous, but I also know that there will be things in the ordinary, the day to day, as that is when I experienced him the most, and where he helped me to grow.

Moments happen, but it’s the ordinary where we grow the most.