Going Deeper

I love this when I get bombarded by the same concept from different angles. I have been

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Beddgelert where two waters meet and the pool is deep

challenged on this whole thing of cutting back and doing less, of focusing on my writing and of perfecting that. I am struggling with that too, especially with the mentoring angle. My mentor is awesome and patient. The problem is there is so much more to writing than writing. There is working out what I want to say then editing so that the piece I have says what I want to say and doesn’t treat my reader like they are stupid. I do  have a tendency to either overstate or understate. So either my reader gets the same message twice or it is so vague they have no idea what I’m saying (NB here I have overstated 🙂 ) But actually this is what going deeper is about.

On Sunday 10th February the Bible reading was from Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus tells Simon to “Put out into deeper water and let down your nets” The fishermen then catch a huge pile of fish and Simon and others are so amazed they leave everything and follow Jesus. Well our minister that morning preached on that. What struck me was that for me deeper water is cutting back, being available for friends, getting my writing polished, being about for my Airbnb guests, etc. But it is about cutting back, doing less, being more focused on what I do. It also means that I get more downtime than I did last year when I was rushing about doing 101 things. It means I have time to chat to the people I see whilst dog walking, can arrange coffee with friends around their schedule, etc. And in the end will lead to catching more fish rather than lots of small catches.

So going deeper for me is about doing less.

Just as I am accepting this I get it from another angle. My mentor said she was reading

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Oyster catchers on Conwy Beach – imperfect Feb sunshine 

about “wabi sabi” – the acceptance of life being transient and imperfect. So being me I got a book out about it. Well I’ve only got as far as the first chapter which is talking about having to slow down to be able to notice the imperfect and enjoy it, to notice that things are transient. It cannot be done at going fast and looking for something to make me better.

So I must make my writing the best it can be not for my ego to be massaged but because I can.  But to do that I must slow down and give it time. I must “smell the roses” so to speak. I must enjoy life even the bits that are crap.

I know I have blogged on this before but if I am to say “The joy of the Lord is my strength” I cannot have it just in the bits where life is going well. I need to find that joy when life isn’t going well. And I believe one of those ways is to slow down, go deeper and have time to accept the imperfections and transient-ness of life.

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Knowing Where You Come

DAN-SNOW-A5-2019-DATES-LO-722x1024.jpgLast night I saw Dan Snow, The History Man, speak at a local theatre. One of the many things that he said that struck me (so be warned there could be many more blog posts to come) was that he knows people say, generally behind his back, that he is only doing what he does because of his family. He paused before saying “Yes I am.” He went on to say that because his parents both had a love of history, that his father was in television broadcasting, because they had money and could afford to go not just to historic places close to home but across the world, that yes that is why he is stood on this stage now. He is doing what he does because of where he comes from.

Here is a piece that dovetails with that –

Jan Fortune in Becoming Your Story Course says “So many people describe themselves as ‘self-made’. It’s an outlandish concept. We all emerge from someone, have childhoods and environments that affect us and exist within various networks, physical and emotional. I’m certain we can make huge changes in our lives, re-invent ourselves, change our values and goals, but the idea that we don’t need others along the path is arrogant as well as unrealistic. No one is self-made”

My thoughts are that if you hear something more than once and it resonates for you then it is for you.

I could weep that I did not have Dan Snow’s upbringing and opportunities. I could weep that I am not Jan Fortune. I could bemoan that I am not a whole host of people. As well as grumbling that I did/didn’t do x, y and z. But I am here sitting in my lovely study watching the snow falling, my little dog snoring between my legs because of my parents,

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My study window as I wrote this post

my life choices, the people I have met along the way, the friends I have met, the people who have spoken into my life for good or bad. All have led to why I am here now.

A lovely friend that I share my writing with said he was amazed that I could write about medieval battles when I haven’t experienced any. Actually that is not true. I have experienced them through what I have read, listened to, watched, visited. All are part of who I am. Yes I have changed my life, reinvented myself, changed my values and goals over the 50+ years of my life. But each and every one of them has been influenced by who I met, what had gone before, or experiences at the time.

Here are just two examples:

  1. I didn’t go travelling abroad because it just popped into my head one day. I went because someone suggested it, even though she didn’t come with me in the end. I went to the place I did in Greece because someone recommended it before I left. And from there the people I met influenced where I went from there.
  2. I didn’t “become a Christian” out of the blue. Lovely well-meaning people invited me to their church coffee morning. From there my life has been again to do with who I met, who suggested what, good and bad things that happened along the way.

So as Dan Snow stood there and said “yes I am here because of my family and I am grateful” I also say I am here in this place now doing what I am doing because of my family, my friends, the influences that have happened.

I am starting off on a new direction with my life – taking my writing seriously and actually telling people I am a writer. I am doing to spend 12 months being mentored to

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Husband and dog Saturday celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary in the rain on Lleyn Peninsula

help this process along. But this has not come about in isolation. It has come about due to many influences and encouragements. Also because of a husband who is content for me to not to have a career but to be home bringing in a modest income via Airbnb and writing workshops, and using the rest of my time writing, writing and writing. I am grateful to him for that.

So I am here typing, looking out my window in North Wales at the snow with my little dog still snoring because of the life choice I made to marry just over 12 years ago. But actually that only came about because I choice to be living in the town I was, etc, etc, etc. So let us all choose to understand where we have come from and many people have made us who we are now.

Working Together

dscf0582Before Christmas I shared my thoughts on encouraging each other. This is an ongoing thing for all of us. I am a natural encourager but as another encourager friend said “who encourages the encouragers?” Well we encouragers do all have to learn that not everyone is an encourager. Some people have other skills and gifting which we all need. You notice here as an encourager I find it hard to list them 🙂

Anyway over that lovely time between Christmas and New year’s day, when my grown-up children had gone back to their respective homes and my husband had gone away for 3 days walking with friends, I sat down and did my review of the year, wrote up my lists of what to do, dreamed my dreams and came up with my plans. I also took down the decorations and got the place cleaned up and ready to face 2019. I started on the morepens qualifiable tasks to begin with – planning and advertising writing workshops, and cleaning. Yes those were the only ones on my list I got to. I have a great writing project in  my head that I need to plan out but I am struggling with it. I have reached a point where I know I am rubbish and it will not get off the ground!! See need of encouragement.

A girl I want to university with had posted on Instagram a devotional book she was reading. Her and I chatted about it a bit. I bought it. It is good. The bit that has encouraged me most of all is where it says to take 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the famous “love verses” and substitute Jesus for Love or it. Well that has definitely encouraged me.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)
4 Jesus is patient, love is kind. Jesus does not envy, Jesus does not boast, Jesus is not proud. 5 Jesus does not dishonor others,  Jesus is not self-seeking, Jesus is not easily angered, Jesus keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 Jesus always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I know not everyone who reads my blog is a Christian but I am and for me seeing that this whole Love passage is not some unobtainable goal but is how Jesus is to me has really encouraged me. In the version I have in study verse 7 says “always supports, always encourages, always hopes, always trusting.” For me to know that there is someone there who is always encouraging me, but not just always trusting me, always having hope in me is awesome.

But you know what, I’m not now rushing on with my plan for my writing project. I’m still stuck in the doldrums with it but, after reading and meditating on this, I am now being kinder to myself. I am leaning on other people to help me with finding my get up and go. I am reading things and looking up things that will help me to move to where I want to be. After reading this I am no longer beating myself up about not being able to.

I’m not sure if I put that in my last post but for me encouraging someone sometimes isn’t about getting them to move on but is about just staying with them and being there.

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Looking from Llanfairfechan nature reserve to Penrhyn Castle (taken by me 6th Jan 2019)

Have to, Should do, Ought to

 

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Taken by me but I can’t remember where. This year I will be labeling my photos better 🙂

Tis the season of the have, should, ought. Sometimes in all this we miss out on the real reason for the season, which in many traditions has a basis for looking at light and celebration.

I have lots of decisions that are coming my way for 2019 which means that, to give them due consideration I will have to, in fact even now, will have to change how I live my life. I will have to give up on have tos, should dos and ought tos. I don’t have enough hours in my day. Some of the things I will give up are things I like but I am learning if I do this then I can’t do that.

I spent the last 10 days visiting family and friends this has meant that I haven’t done the usual Christmas newsletter or the run of Christmas cards. I have also been gentle working through “Finding the still point of your story” which again is making me look at what is important. Not that the things I can’t do are not important or the people I didn’t see, won’t send cards to are not important but that I have a finite time to do things and need to invest wisely. This means giving up being a member of the spa and not getting in my thrice weekly swims and saunas. This isn’t because I don’t like to go but because I want to take my writing more seriously I want more time to read and this will give me 3+ hours a week more to read.

I have not done the Christmas newsletter because I have decided that I want to message

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Taken just now. These are the books in my study that I want to read. There are more in a box downstairs, in my bedroom and in the living room. 

certain people individually because that is where I am at the moment. But I cannot message 100 people that could be on  my mailing list so it will be just a few. That way they can get special messages. Not that there is anything wrong in newsletters. In fact I had one from some friends which talked of her storytelling and has led me to using her story to tell when I am an elf at Santa’s grotto on Saturday. For me well worth having 🙂

So in all this I need to look at how I lead my life, what I want to do in it and not get rushed around by should, ought, have to. I am learning well this week too because my son is home for 10 days, which is lovely, but if I want to still write I have to leave him on his own. I am also asking him to help with things like walking the dog so that I am not run ragged there.

So for me this time between now and the new year will be of deciding that I do and what I will have to put to one side. I want to take my writing seriously – which means I have to stop doing other things.

Watching Those Stats

I am trying to sort my social media out and so have taken the Facebook app off my phone. That has been great because it has stopped me checking who’s said what on whatever. But actually, apart from putting pictures of my dog on there and advertising my workshops I don’t use it much.

social-icons-51I have just started a blog with my writing on Medium. Find me on  https://medium.com/@barefootatthekitchentable  It is a great site with lots of other writers and is easy to do. One of it’s great features, for those who haven’t yet gone on Medium yet,  is that there is a button at the side of each post to press for “claps”. A reader can hold down the button and let it run up to 50 claps. This morning I was checking my emails and it gave me my statistics. Please note I have only posted 2 pieces on there and not that many people know as yet! But I got into checking who was following and how many claps I had received. It is also possible to check how many claps each person has given you. I could feel myself hovering over to this place but stopped myself. Would it change what I thought of my followers if I saw that they had only given me one or two claps and not the full 50? What would it make me thinking of the posts I had put up there? Wold I get into condemning my writing?

We seem to live in a world now where we are judged all the time and encouraged to judge each other. Medium does reward those who gain over 1000 claps for a piece which is great, but it can still bring in that insecurity.  How often do we look to see who’s “liked” or similar on Facebook posts, on Instagram, on Twitter and more? The media talks of how Facebook and others sites make us insecure about our lifestyles and our looks but I have yet to hear it spoken of about how we feel about the “rewards” we receive.

It is great as writers that there are so many places we can post but I think we do still need to guard out fragile writers egos.

Being a natural encourager I will always “like”, clap, click the heart, etc because that’s who I am. I know of people who are not like me – and I do struggle with them 🙂 – but their way of supporting and encouraging is hold back, to be more restrained, and that is fine too. What is the point of having to be able to give from 1-50 “claps” if everyone gives every piece the maximum? But it does mean that we all need to be careful that we don’t get too caught up in the rewards and turn ourselves into performing seals.

I love to watch Dragon’s Den and some of  what I like is the comments that the ones whoDragons-Den-new-image1 don’t obtain a dragon get. These people are often not unkind but they are harsh. They tell people they are unprepared, tell them that they need to do more, have not researched, etc. They cannot take on everyone who comes through the door, cannot give them all the 50 claps. There are people who are not ready.

So I will continue to post on here, on Medium, on my Barefoot writing workshops website because all three take me in different directions. I will also continue to write for myself and for some friends I share with. I will do my best not to worry about what the reaction is but continue to hone my skills and trust to me not the “fish” I get thrown. I am not a performing seal. I am a writer.