Tis the Season of the Christmas Newsletter

 

… and seeing as Facebook has reminded me that I sent one this time last year I will sent this one. I feel like I am cheating a bit because I have lots of ideas in my head for a proper blog about stuff but actually Word decided to fight with me about doing this so it has probably taken longer than a regular blog 🙂 Anyway here is it 🙂

 

christmas-bellsTis the season of the Christmas newsletter and here is ours

Merry Christmas and Happy 2017 to everyone

This letter should be title “2016 – the year of change” because I don’t think there is one thing that is the same this year as last. Yes I know we could all say that every year is not the same as the last but this one does seem to have much more changes in it than normal!

Where we live – is now totally different. As you may remember this time last year we were in a state of angst and packing boxes, waiting for the solicitors to sort a moving date for us. We moved in stages; first to a short term Airbnb let on Anglesey on Friday 5th February so Ian could start work at Bangor University as IT manager of their medical trials unit on Monday 8th, our stuff moved from Bradford on Avon on Wednesday 10th, got the keys on Friday 12th, moved to Sea Road on Tues 16th Feb and our furniture caught up with us on Fri 19th Feb. Because of the wonderful state the house had been left in we were able to get settled very quickly. By 30th March we had our first Airbnb guests, and have had a steady stream all through the year, along with a regular stream of friends and family coming to visit too. We opened our second top floor bedroom officially as an Airbnb room on 8th October, although we have had paying guests staying there before that date. Many of our Airbnb guests come back to stay with us again which is lovely. We may have only been in this house for just over 10 months but very much it is home, which has been helped by those who’ve come to stay in it – both paying guests and friends and family.

Ian – last year was going to work on a busy commuter train to work on wind turbines, now drives on a not so busy A55 looking at the wind turbine farms in Colwyn Bay to manage the IT side of the medical trials unit at Bangor University. A change from catching a train to driving, from working on wind turbines to looking at them, and also from working 5 days per week to working 4, giving him scope to explore other ideas that he can use his talents in. He is now going to a pottery class once a week, slowly connecting with others in various church things, and trying to fit in swimming and cycling. Unfortunately a lot of walking has been put on hold because Ian broke his foot at the beginning of August and it has been taking a while to heal. He was not able to drive for 3 weeks but is now on the mend but he has to be careful, which is hard because the mountains are becoming to him every morning.

Diane – last year was working at Lackham college and helping in the office of Characters Stage school, and now is spending 2 hours a day keeping the house clean and tidy for guests, putting on various creative writing workshops, connecting with others in the creative scene. Doors keep opening on more and more opportunities to do writing workshops and story telling sessions in local community centres, at a local Christian conference centre, within the home and at the castle we can see from our bedroom window; Gwrych Castle. She has set it all up under the title “Barefoot At The Kitchen Table” (www.barefootatthekitchentable.weebly.com) She is also finding time to write and has finished one novel but needs to sit down and edit it, as well as having several short stories and poems in a similar position. She has connected with creative people at the Anglican church we’ve been attending on a Sunday which could lead to organising a creative therapeutic weekend at a local Christian conference centre that is reopening in April 2017, and is also starting a regular St. Michael’s church creative group to put on plays, parades and similar through out the year.

Ben – this time last year he was waiting to go to hospital to have his collar bone rebroken and fused properly and was out of work. Within this year he had a successful operation, moved to Bath to work, then moved back to Cornwall where he is now living with Sarah in St. Just, and is working at a lovely restaurant in Penzance. We have not managed to catch up with Ben as often as we like because of the distance he is away. It takes 10 hours on the train and 7 if we drive non-stop. We did finally get to see him, where he is living, where he is working and to meet Sarah in October. Both of them are making the mega train trip to us for Christmas.

Tabitha – has gone from being a student to being out in the work place. She graduated in June with a 2.1 in Theatre Arts, moved into a flat in Forest Hill, London with a friend, went from working in one restaurant to working in another with better hours. She is adjusting to life having to pay bills, etc in London. She loves where we live and comes up to visit us often as London is just over 3 hours on the train. She also is coming up for Christmas.

Animals – we still have Renly, Damson and Archie-rabbit living with us. We are no longer chicken owners. The last of our chickens went to a chicken retirement farm just outside Devizes a week before we left Bradford on Avon, which meant we were able to Freecycle the chicken housings. Renly is enjoying long walks through Gwyrch Castle grounds and woods, regular walks along the beach and in our local park. We are very spoilt to have woods, a ruined Victorian castle, a beach and a park all within 15 mins of our house. Renly is making new friends, both dogs and humans. Damson has become an indoor cat and loves that. She is much friendlier and more content since living inside all the time. She even comes to talk to our guests. Renly of course loves every guest who comes to stay, although some more than others. Archie-rabbit lives on the raised bed in our backyard where Ian worked hard to make a secure run for him which he jumped straight out of and also has dug himself a large burrow under his cage. He is happy with it all though which we’re sure is the main thing – probably!

Church – we now attend an Anglican church. Very different from Bath City Church! But the people are warm and friendly and very welcoming. Diane has instigated the performance of a Christmas play there on Christmas Eve and has managed to encourage others to join in. Ian attends a mid-week Bible study there. We are slowly making friends there. In fact due to a lovely friend of ours who lives in Llandudno emailing all the people she knew who live in Abergele we have made lots of friends in different churches which helps to make us feel settled and that it is not just the house that is home but the area.

We did mange to travel a bit – Between us, either separately or together, we have managed trips to Ireland, London, Cornwall, Manchester, Peak District, back south a couple of times for manic rushing rounds seeing family and a few friends, and most exciting of all to a friend’s wedding in Iceland. That must come under the highlight of the year.

We are quite tied over the summer with Airbnb bookings so this does make it hard to go visiting, but always make sure we have one room spare for our family and friends to come and see us. And of course family and friends do stay for free. All we ask is good wine and/or good conversation 🙂christmas-dragon

Merry Christmas and hope to see some of you in the new year

much love

Diane, Ian, Renly and Damson

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Why Do I Take Photos Of Sunrises?

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Sunrise over Dublin – March 2016

I love the sunrise. I love taking photos of it. Yes I do take photos of sunsets too. In fact my lovely study room faces the setting sun and I have taken photos from here. But I love the sunrise. I find now, as the days get longer, that I miss out on the sun rising because it all happens too early. Though there are times that I get up to go to the bathroom and see an orange glow. Then I will go into the back bedroom, if we have no one staying there, and watch the back of the house get bathed in the golden light. Even Tesco’s carpark looks beautiful as the sun comes up.

I remember the first sunrise I ever saw. It was 1982 and I was at Greenham Common. I had gone up with a couple of car loads of women from the town I lived in to meet up on a big protest day with women from across the country. It was a surreal time. Anyway we were sleeping in this huge marquee and I couldn’t sleep so I got up and went to the camp fire. There as I sat trying to work out if I like drinking tea or not the sun started to rise. It was a clear sky and slowly it was filled with this glowing ball. I remember the only sound was the birds chatting excitedly at the start of a new day.

And that is how I feel when I see the sun come up; that it is exciting to start a new day. I

12814014_10153517274445698_2802497884257770259_n
Sunrise with angel’s wing at  the Hill of Tara – March 2016

take photographs of sunrises because for me there is so much promise in a sunrise. It marks the start of something new. The darkness of night has gone and it is a walking into the light. There is promise, potential, hope, expectation, a new beginning. For me, no matter what I know I have to do, the sunrise always says “today is a fresh canvass go paint something new.” So that is why I take photographs of the sun rising and why I love the start of a day.

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Sunrise on the day our furniture arrive to be unpack at our new house – Feb 2016

My husband on the other hand is a sunset man. He loves to watch the sun go down. For him it signals that the day has past and he has survived. Interesting how we are so different.

Fresh Start! Really?

the-ability-to-start-over-240x221Ok so yes we are in a new place with a new house and new things all around us. I still don’t know where to find half the stuff I want to buy, get excited when I find the butcher and get me meats I want, etc. So yes to a point it is a fresh start. But will that make things better? And what do we mean by better? Will we have the perfect marriage because we now live in North Wales? Will I get around to doing all those things I’ve always wanted to do? Yes maybe! But there are some truths we have to admit beforehand!

See, and I discovered this a long time ago, is that when you move you take yourself with you. There was a song back in the 1980’s by Crowded House called “Weather with you” which I wish I’d listened to clearer which says that basically wherever you go you take you with you. Now I have travelled lots not so much to find myself but to get away from  myself. I was trying to escape who I was and yet the crazed, insecure person kept turningtake-the-weather-with-you up. I’d get into relationships in the hope that they would take over and help me to be ok. But again I kept turning up in them and doing the same crazy things I always did. Eventually I met with God and realised that He loved me for who I was – crazy, scared, insecure, looking everywhere and blaming every thing else rather than at me. And you know once I got to accept that unconditional love I could then start looking at me and who I really am. I like me now. I’ve stopped running away from me now. I do like the fact that I can move 250+ miles and I come too. Ok there are bits of me I would like to change that do keep coming along. I have to decide whether to accept or change those bits. I think that I have to accept before I change.

But also what has come too is the pain and grief of the last few years. I’ve seen a facebook message from a young friend about a friend of his who has died at 23. It brings back to me the rubbish loss of life too soon, of how God doesn’t come through as a knight in shining my-knight-in-shining-armor-doctor-who-17902797-400-220armour and change it all, keep people alive. Somehow God works things differently. So I’ve had to take my scars and wounds with me. They didn’t stay behind in the old house, they couldn’t be stripped off and thrown away like the new owners did with all the decorating we had in that old house of ours. The scars are a part of me too. They come along. A change of venue doesn’t make them vanish. That isn’t to say I dwell on them and tell people. It doesn’t mean I look at them and pick at them every day. These are scars that God has been healing but they remain as who I am. Without sounding blasphemous, but like Jesus scars from the cross. They didn’t vanish because we all have to see and remember what He went through but that doesn’t mean He dwells on them. Without my stuff I wouldn’t be me!

And you know in reality I don’t want to start here as a clean slate. I want to be here as me with all the things I come with; good and bad. Because of my journey and because of who I d-romans12-15am it helps me to be able to weep when others weep and also rejoice when other rejoice. If we are to give a safe, hospitable space to others we do have to remember who we are and where we’ve come from, to accept ourselves and our circumstances, good and bad, and let our lives and what we have to give flow from there. I think too that if we can accept that change of location doesn’t change us then we have so much more to give.

the-curious-paradox-is-that-when-i-accept-myself-just-as-i-am-then-i-can-change-carl-rogers
Very excited to find that someone else had said this before me. I’d only just though of it as I wrote 🙂  & Carl Rogers is someone I quite admire!

 

Though also we need to remember that – wherever place we can change and grow so long as we can accept and love who we are now. And also let God set the pace not us!

Coming Home

Well I have decided to publish this. After days of being a bit disgruntled that we don’t have internet access I had a brain wave! I could join the library and take my laptop over and publish things like that. Duh!!

Apart from there is this thing in the corner of my screen that says “WifiSpark”, obviously telling me I’m on the library’s wifi, but it’s in the way of where I have to click to get pictures up. Oh well, blog post without pictures!!

(We are without internet as I write this. So this was written on Wednesday 17th February 2016 whilst I wait at home for our new fridge freezer to be delivered. The lovely people at Knowhow have given me a 4 hours window for delivery – between 9.10-13.10! So I sit and wait and write and watch the rain!)

It’s interesting how a place feels, or it to me. I know when I feel happy, safe, out of sorts, when a place is where it wants me. Being here, both our temporary stay in Gaerwen, Anglesey and now here in Abergele feels like coming home. It’s hard to put into words unless the person you’re telling has felt it too. My mum has always said there have only been two places she’s ever felt at home in; one the house she was born in and spent the first approximately 25 years of her life in, and then this house she’s in now which it looks like she’ll live her last years in. She’s been there over 35 years now. She lived in 4 places in between and says she never felt at home in those places, always feeling uncomfortable.

I’ve been amazed at the places I’ve felt at home in. Being here in North Wales reminds me of when I went to Belfast to live. I was only there 18 months and what went on around me was pretty traumatic but I still always felt it was a place that I was at home in. I felt the same when I lived in Greece. Again there were things that happened there that weren’t great but there was something in the heart of the country that made me feel like this was a place I belonged. I am feeling it here already. In fact as soon as we stepped out the car nearly two weeks ago at the chalet in Gaerwen, even though the rain was coming down in sideways sheets, it felt like we’d come home. In fact we both said it. There was something in the land which connected to our hearts. It feels like this land is welcoming us in.

Two unconnected friends both said they felt we were having to be like Moses when he crossed the Red Sea, willing to give it our all and not look back not knowing what was going to happen; the whole thing with being willing to sell our house in Wiltshire without knowing for sure if we would get this house here, and then the completion dates coming in together anyway. We had to be willing to commit to this place and this land and to the whole moving things. We had to be willing to go into temporary accommodation as part of our committing.

Dreams Can Come True

12717924_10153450638860698_431749189329462620_n(2)Yesterday whilst we were walking on the beach and looking at the mountains in the February sunshine we got a call to say that our house sale had completed then a hour or so later a call to say that our house purchase had been completed.

Ever since I was little I use to dream about living near the sea, close to mountain with a room of my own. This was my special place. I use to go there in my head when I felt sad or lonely or when I couldn’t sleep. It was a fantasy. I never prayed for it to become real and I suppose never thought I’d could have something like that. Not that I didn’t deserve it but that the lifestyle I was leading would never lead to that. I was content with where I was and who I was and that was it. Yet this morning I wake up and it has all come true. Actually I went to bed last night in a real grump, but I think that was because I thought the bubble would burst and that it would all fall apart, and that it really was “too good to be true!” Silly me!

It has been tough getting to this point, as in the buying the house and moving, but actually 6 sea roadthe journey to here too; the things we’ve walked through in the last few years which almost drove our marriage apart. I wonder why it didn’t? Both my husband and I have been in relationships that have ended in divorce without going through any of the traumas we went through. I wonder what we’ve had? Maybe it is that deep inside both of us there is this shared dream – of the sea and mountains – that has held us together? Who will know what it is that holds some people together and drags some people  apart. But all I do know is that I couldn’t be where I am now without him. And it’s not just that he has the money. It’s much more than that. Standing with my slightly hard-work-at-times husband has meant that I could achieve much more than standing alone. There was a point when we got in the car on 10 days earlier to travel to Wales into temporary accommodation without either our house sale completed and being told the other house was nowhere near ready that I panicked. If it hadn’t been for Ian I would have jumped out the car and gone back to bed, but he held there in strength and kept it going.

6a0120a85dcdae970b0120a86e0f51970b-piWhen we got married my father-in-law had a picture for us, of us sawing a huge log with one of those 2 people saws, and he said that the way things worked best in a marriage was when each person did their bit and took their turn in pulling the saw through the wood when it was the right time to do it, and that if one pulled when they should have been guiding the push, or even pushed when the other wasn’t ready to pull then there would be problems. But if we could each just know when it was our turn to do the right thing then the log would be sawn smoothly and no one would get hurt. We’ve made a mess of this over our past 9 years at times, pushing when we should have been pulling, or even forcing a push when we should have just been supporting and guiding, pulling when the other was pulling too. Yup we’ve messed up at times but we’ve stayed the course. And as I write this I’ve realised that another dream has come true. Ok so Ian isn’t the knight in shining armour coming in on his white charger, in fact he looks very silly and uncomfortable on the back of a horse, but he is my friend and my companion, he’s there with me to walk through. He is someone I want to grow old with.

We have become the verse we had read at our wedding from Ecclesiastes 4:11-13

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

So dreams do come true and with these it feels like quite unexpectedly 🙂 two-better-than-one

Things that help

beautiful-things-960047_960_720We are finding this part of the house move journey trying. Not difficult but trying. We are stuck in this limbo land of not knowing when things will happen and not having any control of how or when things will complete.

This came through on Martin and Gayle Scott’s update email of their journeying in Spain and other places:

It has though alerted us that the journeys this year are not going to simply roll out as we thought. We must be ready for the many detours. The unexpected will come in the shape of inconvenience, but the richness is in making the journey. We sense we are not to fight the diversions.

I wonder if this is part of what we are learning, that things won’t be straight forward and things will come with unexpected inconveniences and that we are to enjoy the richness ofpicmonkey-detours the journey?

Enjoy doesn’t mean it will be easy but it does mean it is part of the journey. We did feel, and have had it confirmed, that we are meant to be moving to Wales. The people buying our house are not just keep but more than keen, having had in carpet fitters and decorators and want to get started before we move out. The people we are buying from had their loft and the upstairs of their house packed, sorted and ready since the end of December. No one is the chain is deliberately holding things up but things are taking a long time. There are no major issues, but we have learned a lot.

So the plan is that we will leave our house this Friday to go to Wales but from there we don’t know. We had a plan as to when and what but that isn’t coming to fruition at the moment. We are experiencing many detours along this journey that we are having to cope with. Someone did ask if this was a battle but I have never felt that way, which is why I felt that the sentence about not fighting the diversions seems right for us too. We must accept them, not go into battle with them, trust in what God is saying and just roll with it. That’s what it feels like for me – that we have to roll with what is going on. Like being on _CRO0170.jpga ship or pillion on a motorbike, we just go with the way it is going and don’t try to force it any other way. With riding pillion, it works best when we just put our faith and trust in the driver and let him be the one who steers.

This one paragraph as encouraged me even though I am struggling, which I suppose is all part of the journey – coping with the struggles and accepting the things that encourage. Life isn’t one or the other but a mixture of both.

Statio

There’s a word for where we are at the moment – Statio. It means “the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgement that in the spacethreshold1_0 of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.” (Christine Valters Painter PhD)

Ok so we are stopped between one thing and the next but have we really acknowledged that this is what we are doing? To a point, No! What we really want to do is move on. We are both struggling with the lack of knowing what tomorrow might bring, the lack of things in the diary to keep the world in order, the lack of something to get up for. We are packed, the house is clean, we’ve done our goodbyes, we have finished work. All is done! And we are struggling. We want to be working, filling the diary with new things, unpacking, planning. But we are in Statio – stopping between the end of one thing and the beginning of the other.

thresholdThe challenge is “In this in-between place of stillness, can you consciously and with intention, release what came before and prepare to enter fully into what comes next?” So can we? Are we willing and able to release what came before and prepare for what comes next? And what does that mean in practise?

For me I think a lot of it meant realising who I was really saying goodbye to and what friends I was always going to be in touch with, realising who I have a heart connection with. Like my friend who I have journeyed through her marriage and her husband’s suicide, we are joined at the heart forever because of what we both endured. I can never let her go. For many of my friendship it is an endurance, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, but of moving away, keeping in touch via letter, email, phone calls, and of knowing what we have done once we can do again. So for me the preparing comes with looking at relationship.

After reading this from Abbey of the Arts this morning, whilst out walking the dog instead05-lambs-on-the-cliffs-ruth-walking-the-gower-peninsula of saying that we wouldn’t be doing this walk for much longer I said goodbye to things; to the sparrows, the sheep, the trees, the styles, etc. I will do that again tomorrow and the next day – consciously say goodbye to things that are very much part of my dog walking landscape. As I drive through our town I will start to say goodbye to things too, things that I’ve been use to, even things that annoy me. The town I live in is a beautiful town but I don’t think we will come back and visit it much after we’ve gone, and if we do it will be as visitors not as residents anyway.

I am going to work on releasing the experiences that I have had here, some good, some bad, some really horribly, some amazing. I will let them go and let them stay in this place. That doesn’t mean that I will box them up and try to forget them but that they will become a part of here.

il_570xn-678785025_23y4And I will start to prepare for what comes next. I’m already on 2 agencies for working in schools with either learning support or teaching assistant jobs. I have things that I have acquired to go in my new “room-of-my-own”. But also I am going to pray and release the things to come that I do not know of. A friend prayed for us last Sunday and asked of Diane and Ian shaped spaces where we are going and for good neighbours and friends. I am a people person, as recognised with the importance of relationships earlier on in this, and for me people are part of the tapestry of what is to come. Also if we are offering hospitality then we do need people in that equation 🙂

We are off on Friday to spend a week in Anglesey. Dear Ian will only get a 2 day holiday because he has to start work on Monday but I am hoping that having me close to come home to each evening will help his transition into the next stage of his working life. I can be praying and supporting because also I have realised that my marriage is something that I need to be supportive of. This has come out of this “statio” time, of letting go and welcoming in. Again the prayer last Sunday was that we would remember why we got old_windmill_no-_2_at_gaerwen_anglesey_-_geograph-org-uk_-_48070married to each other. This week has not been easy with the uncertainty that has gone on and I can do my bit to support, even if it is just being there a week on Monday to welcome Ian home with a cooked meal and a listening ear.

So my plan (&I am a natural planner, that’s how God made me) for these next 6 days here is to consciously let go of here and consciously welcome in what is to come – even though I don’t know what that will be. I know now that I don’t need dates and fixtures but I do need a rough idea of how to spend my time. We’ve other things to do, like say goodbye to our rabbit for a while who is going into long term fostering with a friend, and some seeing people stuff, but on the whole it will be a statio time of letting go and waiting.