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 🙂

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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

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.

 

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.

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”

What should Christmas eve traditions be?

6471920I was pondering Christmases past as I’ve worked through a mediation about rest and Sabbath from Abbey of the Hearts and think how things have changed. I was thinking how, when we were in our heady Ywam Scotland days and also involved in lots of full on Christian ministry stuff the kids and I would go to ground for 3 or 4 days. We’d get new pyjamas on Christmas eve, have a bath and get into the new pjs and then not get out of them till Boxing day when generally we needed some fresh air. But even then we would just go for a walk the 3 of us. We generally didn’t see anyone until at least 28th, maybe not till the new year. We needed it to recover and regroup. We’ve had other years when we’ve spent time with family and friends. Before I had children I use to work in hotels and bars over the Christmas time because I christmas-articlewanted to avoid it. So much has changed.

This year is different – because the kids are older, because the people we would have spent time with aren’t here this year (whether moved away or died), those that needed our support last year don’t need it this year.

I do wonder if some of the stresses for Christmas come from trying to have Christmas traditions that worked great at certain times of life – like when the kids were little – and don’t now. So we try to do the Christmas stocking thing but the kids go to bed after us, try to have breakfast together but again by the time they want to get up its nearly lunch time, or we can’t quite relax into it because the dog needs walking, we’ve offered 3ea2219c930313c1ea3665aaf7279b24to look after a neighbour’s cat, family member isn’t with us, we’ve living in a different part of the country. If we say “but we always do ….” then we are asking for a fall. I am sure there are periods in our lives when we can do the same thing year in year out for Christmas, but really this is only for a few years. Things change. People change. We are back to that Change thing again!

I really do believe if we can live in the moment of Christmas this year then we can have peace during it. We can grieve for those who aren’t with us this year – like my friend who would have discussed the latest Star Wars film with her son but her son died 13 months ago – and even when it is longer than that we still grieve for those we would have enjoyed this season with – for myself every year I miss my sister and my stepdad, not because it was all great, but actually because they made the season crazy and drove me mad trying to get things sorted but it was part of the Christmas chaos. Living in the  moment doesn’t mean forgetting those who aren’t here but it does mean having peace with what is here, accepting that this is it.

My husband has always said he likes to have family Christmas, which means seeing his side of the family, which as his sister’s children have got older and since his dad died has got harder and looks different every time. And next year, once we’ve moved, will look different again. For him Christmas is a time to rest from work but to be busy with family and friends. Somehow we have to find a compromise and every year has had to be different because my children have grown older, want different things, have different boyfriend/girlfriends they want to include/not include.

So this year we embrace the fact that our home is full of have pack boxes christmas-presencewaiting for the new year move, that we have both my children here with us for at least 10 days, that we can only get to see all my husband’s family for one afternoon, and that things with my mum, apart from her not being with my stepdad of 25 years but her husband, who she has had now for 9 years, will be with us as usual in the interim between Christmas and New year, that the batteries have stop on the tree lights and no one can be bothered to get that sorted, and that our turkey has been crowned for the first time ever.

Some things are the same, some different, all accepted as the tradition for this year.