Where did April go???

Ok so I know April isn’t over yet but where did it go? This month was to be my quiet hello-april-images-1planning month – which actually I have successfully done – on the whole. I have workshops planned and ready to go. I have advertising sorted and sent out to whoever I can think of.  Actually as someone said to me it wasn’t so much a quiet month as an unstructured month where I had few time restraints – at least on the days I had at home.

Mind you I did fit in a friend’s hen do which because it was back where I use to live was a whole weekend away for me. Then said friend got married on 20th. It was a lovely wedding filled with much emotion – which will be saved either for another blog or to be kept in my private journalings.

Someone asked me about how to journal. I find that a hard question because I just write. I write as if no one else is going to read it and let my thoughts flood through. I had a great how-does-journaling-help-addiction-recovery-drugrehab-us_time of journalling over the hen weekend and came to some great realisations. Ok this might seem obvious to many but I have finally realised that

  1. I am  only one person
  2. I can only do so much
  3. if I want to do things well then I have to work out what is important to me what really grabs my heart
  4. I am not as young as I would like to think I am
  5. I have commitments that I cannot get out of – home, family, dog
  6. Airbnb will keep me busy but also free to explore

Ok so not rocket science but it still led me to saying No to things, or rather not so much no but actually stepping down from some things so I can put my whole energy  into a few things. I normally hold on to things so that I don’t hurt or upset people but then probably am not as committed as I should be. Whilst I journaled I looked at the things that gave me life and made me buzz. The things I’ve said I do not have the time to do are not bad things, are not things that I think are great and hope they come to fruition but they are things that I know I do not have the time for. Interestingly too as I journaled I saw that the things I was keeping all fitted together even though to begin with they looked separate. This would not have come about if I had just tried to think about it.

journaling-quoteMaybe it is because I’m a writer that I have to explore my thoughts via writing? I don’t know. All I know is that by the end of that weekend at the beginning of April I knew the things I had to put my energies in for the next year. Oh yes not the next month or so but the next year. This has been such a help in planning the workshops I am going to be doing, doing the advertising which I find tedious and also filling the rest of my month.

Interestingly too after committing to these handful of things that I felt were interconnected they then went and got even more interconnected with people from one set of workshops giving me openings to take the other project to another level.

Rather than repeat myself I am going to copy in bits from my Barefoot At The Kitchen Table newsletter which show what the plan for now is:

Three workshops for this new season, all of which I’m very excited about and am looking forward to starting.

  • Tuesday starting 9th May (not 6th June) for 7 weeks – Releasing the Legend Within at Llandudno Museum, Gloddaeth Street, Llandudno LL30 2DD from 1-3pm  A writing for well-being course looking at archetypes, journeys and being set free to be who one knows one is deep inside. £2 per person per session
  • Wednesday fortnighly starting 3rd May for 5 weeks – Write your life story at Gwesty Glyndwr, Marine Parade, Pensarn LL22 7PR from 11-12.30pm. £5 per person per session. Email to check dates. Always room for more and great tea, coffee and cakes at Gwesty Glyndwr.
  • Thursday starting 11th May (not 8th June) for 10 weeks – Creative Writing Group at Gwrych Castle, Abergele. Two chances to come and write in the Countess’s Writing Room – afternoon workshop from 1.30-3pm and twilight workshop from 6.30-8pm. Booking is essential as there is only enough room for 8 people in the writing room. This term I plan to be looking at questing and sagas. Cost £7.50 per person per session (£2.50 going to Gwrych Preservation Trust). Under 18’s welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.
The Project
I have been asked by Mark Baker of Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust to get involved in a year long project called “Gwrych Castle and The Great War: People and Place” which will be looking at The Countess of Dundonald, others who lived and worked on the estate and lived in and around Abergele, and how live was just prior to the First World War, during and then just after. The First World War caused the greatest change for the landed gentry in history.

​It will be an amazing project with three phases –

  1. Researching the period, hopefully getting in touch the relatives of people who lived and worked in this area during this time, taking their oral histories, copying diaries, photographs, etc.
  2. Taking this material and holding a series of writing workshops to explore and unpack the material and turn it into plays, poems, short stories and maybe even a novel, with the help of various writers and writing groups in the area. Which will take us to
  3. Taking the plays and turning them into performance pieces which will be held in and around the castle grounds at the Midsummer Open weekend in June 2018.
Of course all this is subject to gaining funding. So even though the project itself will only run for 12 months I am already working hard to secure funding. A long and arduous task!

If anyone is interested in finding out more about this project and getting involved please email me on grwycheducation@gmail.com and I can give more information.

So in my journalling it transpired that I really did want to immerse myself in this but I had to then sort out what else I could do and what I would have to put on hold for a while.

Will try to do another post soon 🙂

 

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10th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary. Well it’s not just my anniversary. It’s mine and my 1000-images-about-10th-best-10th-wedding-anniversaryhusband’s. Couldn’t have done it without him – both the getting married and the staying married. I feel like we’ve achieved quite a milestone. And you  know what – we still like each other.

I wondered about doing one of those posts that you see on facebook where one partner gushes about how much they love the other one but much as I do love Ian I also like him. I think it is possible to love someone/something but not quite like it, but Ian and I like to hangout together. Oh yes I love time on my own too but that’s because I’m an introvert and need that recovery time. So yes I do love it when he goes off for his long hikes, or goes away hiking or whatevering for a weekend or even a week, but I get all excited when it comes close to the time of him returning. I make sure I’m ready for him and in the middle of doing something else. I like to see him. Ok yes I get sometimes a bit fed up of the every evening hearing about work thing but sometimes that’s good and its is good to be part of his life that I can’t go to. The same with the outdoor stuff. If I go he can’t walk as far or do as much but it is good to hear what he’s done when he gets back.

Ian and I met and were friends before we were dating and we did have a month or so of trying to decide whether we would start dating. During that time a friend asked me what I 3aecf1348580506df98b8dab8523a84awas most afraid of during this process and I said that whatever we decided I did not want to lose Ian’s friendship. And I can say 11 years after we started dating and 10 years to the day that we got married I do still have that friendship. And I am pleased about it.

Oh my we have weathered some storms over this time that have tried and tested us – the whole untimely deaths of too many people, the change from living with teenagers to them having left home and the interesting things that brings up, changes of jobs for us both, for me ceasing home schooling and doing my degree, and now of course the big house move that is now nearly a sailingintothestormyear old! So many changes, many storms and yet we still want to hang out.

Ian is in the top three amazing things in my life. The other two are my two children who have grown into the most amazing crazy adults that I also still like to be with. All three of them can drive me crazy but all three of them I would fight to the death to keep safe. They sit as join equal in my world.

Ian and I don’t have the same friendship that we had 11 years ago but we have a close and

mountain-man
My man 🙂

loving one and I am pleased I said Yes 🙂

Christmas is a good time to think about Words for Well-Being

Christmas is an odd time of the year. It seems to focus so many feelings, and seems to encourage the time to put on those tinted glasses. Not just the rose-coloured ones where montage-1024x812we may view our childhood Christmases or the darkened ones where we may remember things with despair.

For me I think of those people I haven’t received a card from – the sister of my step-father who was always the first card to arrive but she is now dead, the friend of my mum’s who was often the second card to arrive who has had a fall and has been on life support in hospital and at the moment cannot move or speak, the friends who have moved and we’ve lost touch, the family of ex-husbands who no longer keep in touch – and one often wonders if they have died, the always late and badly written card from my sister which of course will  not come now – and never one from her husband who is now remarried or her 25 year old son who is a typical 25 year old boy when it comes to keeping touch. It can bring me down and make me wish I had know when it was going to be those last Christmasses. Would I have done anything different in December 2011 when we’d gathered with my sister’s family? I’m not sure I would have. Would I have phoned my step-father’s sister more often if I’d know when she’d not be with us? Would Christmas 2012 have been any different knowing that by Christmas 2013 by father-in-law would not be with us? To be totally honest I don’t think it would have been.

I had an email from a older friend of mine who says she finds it hard visiting as she sees glass-be-gratefulthe deterioration in many of her friends and wonders if it will be their last Christmases together. So she does make a difference; she makes sure she turns out over the Christmas holidays to see them, puts it in her diary to visit more often, and most importantly is grateful that she is still fit and well and able to get about and prays that it will continue.

So how will writing help? Well instead of bottling up those feelings write. Write to those people who aren’t with you any more – whether dead or alive. Tell them what you think of them and how you are feeling with them not being around. Tell them how much you’ve done in the last year. Read it out to them as thought they are sitting with you. Who knows they might even be listening? Write down all the good things you remember and don’t worry if the rose-tinted glasses are on. Enjoy the good memories. Again read it out loud. Say thank you to whatever you believe maybe listen – God, the dog, the chair, Mother Earth, etc. Write down a list of things you are grateful for this year – even if it is that you can write things down. When you think of the impossible write it down too and again speak it out. There’s nothing journal-writing-2-300x225wrong in hoping for what might not happen but don’t let it make you overwhelmed by what will not be. Write what your perfect Christmas would be then even look at what things you can do to make that happen. Remember that you cannot make everyone cheerful but you can make sure you don’t let their grumps get you down. And if they do take yourself off and write about it.

Make this Christmas a time when you compose some cool poems that talk of the joy and sadness of your Christmas – past, present and future. Use that notebook that some well-meaning person got you years ago that you’ve never thrown away and just write and see how that will change things for you. 3ab6538e0c445f0b29935d3a718972c3

As we were reminded in our Advent reading this morning Jesus didn’t come down to change things but to walk with us in them.

So We Start

1405623476-airbnb-logo-explanationToday the vision starts to happen. We have our first Airbnb guests staying, a lovely Catholic Polish couple and baby. We also have a long time friend staying too. How will it work with friends and guests staying? Who can tell? But this is what we’re here for.

So far we’ve had both our kids come to stay and have had 2 friends come for lunch; one a friend I went to university with who has moved home to Chester, and another a friend who lives in Bristol but who’s parents live in Liverpool. But this is the start of the real thing, of combining our lives and friends and family.

Over these past few days there has been a lot of preparation going on for our guests.

sodialr-white-home-security-system-photoelectric-wireless-smoke-detector-fire-alarm-0
ours don’t look quite like this but you get the idea 🙂 

Practical stuff like fire alarms, fire blankets, new locks, etc so the house is all fire safe. We also prayed together. I had been praying round the house as I had been cleaning but we prayed together this morning. Now it is up to God. We cannot make anything happen. In fact it is going to be odd because the way the house is we may not see our guests after we have welcomed them in. In fact with this couple we only knew they had gone out because their baby’s car seat was gone. It really is going to be up to God how much contact we have with these people.

We do have a woman coming for the whole of the month of April. Hopefully we will get to meet with her. During that time we already on the calendar have friends come for meals over that time. Who knows what else?

introvertFor me it will be tough because I am still needing introvert time after an amazing Interweave time in Dublin. I love getting together with those people but do find that I am needing lots of down time after; to assimilate what has gone on, to read the emails that always follow, to listen to the things I believe God has been prompting me, and also just because I need that time alone to recover. Also this week we have my husband’s sister and her partner coming so again that will take away my recovery space, and we have to do important things like get living room furniture, because we will need that private space at the front of the house, and also get another car. So it will not be a calm week. I do need to be careful I do not spend my time wishing away what is going on here. I know this is the vision, to have friends and family to stay. There is no way God has given us this magnificent house

heart_on_recharging_by_ezhika
if only it were so simple!

to keep to ourselves. But also I need to find a way of finding space to recharge and to write even with everything going on around me.

It is going to be a time of wisdom, of ceasing what is there, and enjoying what God is up to with us and through us. And trusting that He does know best.

 

Why do I believe in God?

So there I am this morning at 6am on a windy hilltop in Ireland with a bunch of other Hill of Tara March 2016Christians waiting for the sun to come up, praying and declaring stuff over the whole of Ireland and a question someone asked me a while ago, connected to some of the atrocities in the world that are committed in Jesus’ name came to me: “How can you believe in God?” and was then followed by a “Don’t even try to tell me” comment. I deleted the email and then tried to forget about it. And was doing good till feeling slightly sleep deprived, hungry and a bit cold it came back into my head.

So I believe in God because I’ve encountered Him. Our first proper meeting was amazing. There was me, a single mum in my early 30’s, still doing a bit of drug, still sleeping around a bit, still drinking enough, smoking, and just a bit unsure of my life, and I turn up at this small house church that was meeting on the council estate (social housing project to my American friends) where I lived and God just met me there. All I can say was that something was said during the talking/sermon bit about God’s love and suddenly I could feel myself being covered in what seemed like a thick oil with glitter in it and knowing thatheart3 God loved me totally unconditionally and totally as I was there and then. It wasn’t a text book conversion. It took a long time, a lot of talking with God and Christians, a lot of reading both the Bible and study books, and even now it is still a journey which just involves me going deeper and deeper with God.

I’ve seen money and houses and furniture and stuff just provided where no coincidence can explain it. I’ve seen people healed and lives changed. I have also seen people not healed and die, had my eye sight totally healed but by a surgeon not by some miraculous encounter. Yes I have seen my friends die from cancers, from suicides, from unhealthy lifestyles they cannot leave. Yes I have seen prayers not get answered as I would like. Yet still I pop up to gatherings at the moment and pray.Why?

I’m not sure I know. I know I’m here with this group this week because I believe it’s where God wants me to be. I’m not one of those who brings along things to pray with or even

medicine-bottle-11-with-green-black-herringbone-interweave
I turn up because I’m one of the threads. Without me it would not be complete

mighty words but I’m here. In fact just recently a new acquaintance, who I hope will become a friend, asked me what my role was in this group. I said “I just come to make up the numbers” which actually isn’t belittling but sometimes I think that is what we are meant to do. It is about being faithful in the small things.

So how do I know this is where God wants me? Well I suppose it comes full circle – I believe He talks to me. I believe He has said for me to come. I believe He hears are crazy early morning prayers on the side of a mountain and it does change things. This faith. I cannot tell this person why. I just do. I cannot tell her why God allows these things to happen that do, horrendous awful things, or why members of my family and friendship groups had to die. I don’t know. But I do know God is real because I’ve met Him. And really until she is willing to meet Him she won’t be able to believe.

Actually I think that is why I go off to these places to pray – because until people are introvertwilling to turn and actually meet with God they will not know He exists. Once they have met with Him then they can ask Him all those questions; all the why questions. I believe that when I gather with my friends and pray across the hills as the sun comes up recreating something that happened hundreds of years ago things do get opened in the heavenlies, blind eyes get a chance to see, deaf ears a chance to hear, lives can be changed. Svulnerability21o I will turn up as often as I believe He is asking me to. Does it strengthen my faith? Sometimes. Sometimes it makes me doubt even more. But you know even when I doubt God exists
then it’s Him I go to to find out.

So What Have I Done This Year?

I write the family Christmas newsletter but really it is just a snapshot of things we’ve all done and I miss out things that I’ve done and things that they’ve done too. So in reflection of the John and Yoko song “So this is Christmas … another year over and what have we done?” I thought I would look at what I’ve done.

It was at the beginning of January in my new journal diary that I wrote “Boldness to search for my true dreams and to walk them out.” To being with things didn’t go as expected …

  • I’ve had a poem published on a Mindfulness website
  • I’ve been hung out with some amazing writers in the South West and enjoyed some Sundays and a whole bank holiday weekend with them
  • I’ve realised that even though I’m a great encourager and youth worker, which makes me a great learning support mentor and assistant, I am a rubbish tutor and easily sidetracked – into youth working and encouraging.
  • Again I’m a great encourager and supporter but doing someone’s admin isn’t fun even if they find me helpful and my presence in their office encouraging.
  • I’ve been to Dublin to pray with the Interweave group
  • I’ve been up to the Isle of Arran and enjoyed time with friends and time alone and time with my husband
  • I’ve realised I don’t need to keep going to the end and if I stop one thing then a door can open to another – I stopped the Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes MSc at PGCert stage which then opened the door for Ian and I to do something together
  • And that something was to plot and plan and sell our house and make the move to Abergele in North Wales.
  • I’ve been in a play in which I wrote my own script and have been asked to collaborate with the director and other writer again.
  • I went for 2 interviews and got both of them but only took the one which actually led to a huge leap in confidence for me 🙂
  • I’ve had lunches and drank coffee with wonderful friends over the year
  • I’ve driven miles to support my children in what they do and will continue to be that sort of mum – supporting, encouraging and mentoring.
  • I went to Greenbelt and volunteered in The Tank again this year though without my daughter, but this time spent lots of time with a lovely friend I hadn’t seen in ages, and deepened a friendship with a fellow blogger
  • I’ve blogged intermittently over the year on things I want to share, gaining some friends through what I’ve written and losing others.
  • I’ve looked after 4 fish and 2 shrimps for 12 months now
  • Taken our last chicken to her retirement home before we move
  • Walked miles with my dog in all winds and weathers
  • And so much more that I know once I send this post that I will think of other things

So this is my year in bullet point. I’ve enjoyed it and wonder what will come of next year. The word I have written in my diary is “Blank Page – wait for the writer to write

I know each year never turns out how I expected but I must say that this is the first year I’ve felt like I’m standing on the threshold not having a clue. All I know is that at some point in the next 3 weeks we will be on the move to Abergele. I don’t even know the date for that. And what will our lives look like in Abergele? Who knows? But I do know it will be an adventure and I can walk with God, and with friends old and new.

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Conversion

“Translations vary, but in our modern day, conversatio morum suorum generally means conversion of manners, a continuing and unsparing assessment and reassessment of one’s self and what is most important and valuable in life. In essence, the individual must continually ask: What is worth living for in this place at this time? And having asked, one must then seek to act in accordance with the answer discerned.”
—Paul Wilkes, Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life
 This is something I would like to be plaster as wallpaper all around my home at times – both to remind me, to remind the rest of my family, to remind those who come to our home, but also to remind us to give this to others. So often our world works on this upward spiral, including in church, of getting better and better and of achieving, of reaching the goal. But this says that in fact we should understand where we are and asking what is worth living for in the now. It’s not about getting better, of having a purpose, of achieving, but of being and living.
Richard Rohr says something similar today (28th Dec 2015) :
Both God’s truest identity and our own True Self are Love. So why isn’t it obvious? How do we find what is supposedly already there? Why should we need to awaken our deepest and most profound selves? And how do we do it? By praying and meditating? By more silence, solitude, and sacraments? Yes to all of the above, but the most important way is to live and fully accept our present reality. This solution sounds so simple and innocuous that most of us fabricate all kinds of religious trappings to avoid taking up our own inglorious, mundane, and ever-present cross of the present moment.
I have been working with young people who haven’t made it in the education system and all we seem to do is trying to keep them in that holding pattern until the can leave school, which is now 18 years old. Why are we not teaching them how to make the most of where they are? Many of these kids have amazing gifts and talents, just not recognised in the modern school system, so they’ve been labelled and made to feel like they have nothing to give. Yet if we could get them to live fully in their present reality, which for many is really hard, but also to ask what is worth living for in this present moment? I think we could get them to change. I really do believe not just with these kids but with everyone if we could work out what things in this present moment are worth living fully for and how can be be fully present then things would change.
The reason why we don’t teach this? Because so very few people live it. I know I struggle to. But that is also something I’m learning and am going to take in 2016 – that if I don’t get it right today then I forgive myself and start again. I don’t even have to wait till tomorrow to start again. I can start again the moment I realise that I’ve messed up and am not fully present, not looking at what is worth living fully for at this moment.
I was trying to practise this whilst out walking with the dog this morning. Ok it was helped by the fact that there was the most gorgeous burnt copper sunrise. But I’ve got lots on my mind. Today my mum and her husband are coming to “do Christmas” with us, so there was food stuffs to think of; my son is having an operation and I want to be there for him but he leave 200 miles away; my daughter is off back to uni 100 miles away and I was trying to work out whether I could manage to take her back; and of course the big one – we’re moving. All these thoughts were crowding into my head and taking over often. As was the thing of wondering what life will be like this time next month. But whenever I realised that I was not in the moment I wouldn’t be cross with myself but would just pull myself back and go back to enjoying the sunrise and the lovely day, and watching the dog rushing about. And of course my mind would wander again and again would have to be pulled back.
Again I think this is a place where we aren’t kind to ourselves or others; we don’t cut anyone any slack. If we mess up we’ve failed. If someone does something wrong they are labelled as a certain type of person. Very rarely do we give ourselves or others the grace to just say this is a phase. I am learning with my family, husband and children, to try to just let it be and say this is what it is for now. Do I force them to change? No that would be wrong because what do I know about what is best for them. Many times I’m not sure what is best for me until I’ve tried it, and then sometimes its best of then but not later on. I am a fluid evolving being and so are those around me. To truly accept this growth and change and living in the moment we must trust that all will be well.
Or as it said is Star Wars: The Force Awakens “The Light — It’s always been there. It’ll guide you.”  And also “As long as the sun is there we have hope”