New Venture

So part three of what I do with my day/who I am/what I do mini series.

I’ve had rush to get a website and facebook page up and running so that I can post here. jumble of ideasFor a while I have fancied running creative writing workshops, especially after I started the Creative Writing For Therapeutic Purposes MSc. I have loads of thoughts and plans and ideas written all over the place and half baked ideas for websites. It was some of the reason I started this blog; to get an online presence that I liked.

When we moved here I thought I would start in earnest planning workshops. I am a great planner but not so great a doer but it looked like God/fate/destiny had other plans for me. I was connected to this lovely Christian lady who is the most amazing networker and encourager I have ever met. She is amazing. So there we are one day, me and her, chatting down in a local cafe she wanted to show me and in pops the person who runs a local community centre. After chatting a bit I say “so you’re the person Penny wanted to

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Very much how I network 

introduce me to to talk about creative writing workshops”. Well before I really knew what had happened I was signed up for running 4 writing workshops over two afternoon/evenings at this community centre.

So I’m working for myself, having to find my own insurance, do my own publicity, etc, and pay for the room rental. Now both these lovely ladies are networkers so they are putting my publicity out there as fast as I can get it sorted. This has meant that I have then been connected to other people. One of these other people as well as working for the local council on their well-being team is also a business coach and networker! So she now has the local council supporting half of one of my workshops but also has given me great advise on marketing, etc, which is why things have started a bit ad hoc but are getting a bit more professional.

I have also been connect to a lovely online lady called Lisa who runs Roots And Wings, an online support site for business people. I haven’t had much time to look at her site but the big thing I have got from it is about being in for the long term. And thankfully because of that I am not panicking that my start isn’t as professional as it should have been.

So I have now started on a website called Barefoot At The Kitchen Table, because I know

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The mobile kitchen table

that some of my best times with people are around my kitchen table and that really I only wear shoes because it hurts my feet to walk outside barefooted. As soon as I can I will take my shoes off. I would love it if you would click on the link and have a look at my site and share it with your friends.

I have also set up a Facebook page, Barefoot At The Kitchen Table,  which has been hard work in the making and in the trying to get profiled but please again go on and click “like” so that it boosts its profile figures.

But both the website and the new facebook page have come into being after I started advertising. At the moment I do not have many people signed up for the workshops and could finish up having to support the workshops via the Airbnb income, but you know I’m not worried. Why?

bare-female-feet-under-vintage-table-white-retro-tired-businesswoman-woman-girl-leg-cramps-relaxing-no-high-heels-50400483_origBecause I’m in for the long haul and through starting I have connected with other people, have actually got something off the ground, am being known as a person in this area who does this sort of thing, and feel like I am doing something. I feel excited about what is going to happen in two weeks time with the start of these workshops but also excited about what will grow from it. Now I’ve started I will keep going. In fact now its out in the open I will get encouragement from these lovely ladies that are now in my life and who knows where it will go and morph and become.

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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.

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.

Just Happen? Or For a Reason?

bv-12xycyaasuoc1How often when something happens do we respond with “there must be a reason …” or “it must be part of the plan” or another sort of divine meant to be sort of phrase, when really it’s just the way it is.

We went to look round our new house on Saturday and the people we are buying from had had a huge clear out and had got rid of some of the furniture we were planning to buy from them. Our response was “I’m sure that was what the right thing.” It means we will just have our stuff in the house and we talked about it being all ours, etc.

But I think often we try to justify events as either good or bad, meant to bequote-trying-to-justify-a-world-we-don-t-hold-all-the-answers-to-is-what-bedevils-the-best-megan-chance-80-69-49 or not meant to be, rather than just stuff happens. The reason the people we are buying from got rid of their furniture is that they are organised people who, once they knew they had a buyer, got on and cleared out what they didn’t want to take with them. Fate or personality?

One of the issues we had to walk through during 2012/13 was whether the multiple things we walked through were meant to happen, and if they were then why all at the same time. In the end a wise counselling friend said that it was nothing to do with us why all these things happened. That they were individual deaths that we just happened to know all the people because of our relationship with each other. In fact if my husband and I hadn’t been married I would only have had one untimely death to deal with and he would have had two, instead of us both having 4! But there was no lesson that some supreme being was trying to teach us, nothing we had done that needed us to learn. It just happened.

can-stock-photo_csp12889658I know the furniture being sold that we wanted was no where near on the same scale but it got me thinking of the same thing, and there was no reason; there is nothing for us to learn. It is just that it happened and we need to get on and do something about it.

That is another thing, one can spend ages pondering the whys and whatevers and what should we learn from it, but in the end one does just have to get up and keep going. So for us at this time it means not wondering if God is teaching us something about timing, or that we are f62a560150aec2b8634f09cbb1792478going to learn how to furniture shop together – though that will be interesting. And even if it is we do still have to just pick ourselves up and get on and buy!!

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”

Change!

changeNo one likes change. Really that is the truth. Some people say they like change. I would say that about myself, but in reality I’m ok if I’m the one orchestrating the change. I like to know that the change is mine. I’ve been really frustrated with the changes made to WordPress because I knew how to do things before and now I’m not so sure. It all takes longer.

With our move we’ve had many different reactions but some have been angry negative reactions to people not liking the fact that we are changing change-4-1imepycsomething, changing something they are familiar with. I got cross at first until I realised how upset I get when other people change. My husband is struggling with our change more than I am, which actually is good because he is then more aware of how others are coping. I am ok with our change. In fact I’m quite excited. I’m looking forward to a bigger bedroom, a room to call my own, more than one toilet, etc. Yes there are things I’m nervous about but in an excited sort of way. I then find it hard to understand how everyone can’t just be pleased for us.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”

Heraclitus

Which sits as comfortably with us all really as “there is no certainty in life but death.” We don’t really want things to change and we don’t want to fish escape conceptdie. Or rather we don’t want other people to change and we don’t want other people to die.

There are people who embrace change and want it continuously change, though again many of these are people who don’t want others to change. And so, as I get older and realise that I like constants in my life, I have to accept that even those who love me don’t like to see me change – or rather don’t want me to move and have a different life than they are use to.

And you know what I can feel for them because much as I like to change when-the-winds-of-change-blowand do things differently I would rather appreciate it if they would stay in the same house, in the same job, doing the same thing so I can slot into their lives as I always do.