Historian and Researcher

So back to the mini-series of Who I am and what I do.

6912b-historian
though I do not have a beard!!

So I’ve done the “biggies” on my business card – writer, airbnb host –  and also the easy to define one, Dog walker, and now it moves down to the ones that are harder to define. What do I mean by a “Historian and Researcher”. Well it was made clear to me the other day when I had some round from the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust to talk to me about doing workshops up there. For one we talked history and threw ideas back and forth but then once he had gone I googled what we’d been talking about, sent emails to friends to ask for information, and then went to the library to gather books. I printed stuff off, made notes all over it and then pondered. Yes that’s what I do after I’ve gathered lots of information – I ponder it all. But also I googled the man I’d met to see more about him.

But I realise that actually I only do this when it comes to historical things. When it comesgwrych-1161 down to other things I go by “feel”. So if someone asks to meet me I first of all go by gut instinct and only after I’ve met them and want to go further with what they have said, and actually only if I feel like I have connected, do I research the subject and then the person. I discovered that, for me, to try to research something beforehand leaves me jaded and uninterested. Something has to have piqued my interest first.

Also with things like History and even Bible study, I do need to see many different sides. So with history I love historical fiction and find that is an easy way to learn things. Often I would like to do it with my laptop by my side so I can google things as I do to check out whether the author is stick to the facts. But a lot of historical fiction is interpretation – in fact so is a lot of historical fact where flesh has to be put on the bare bones of an article – so  it is good to read many different authors stories about the same period in history, covering often the same characters. Some people will have a passion for a certain king, some will have a hatred for the same person. With Bible study what is written is interpreted differently  as I did say before in “It says clearly in the Bible” that it does not say it quite so clearly as one would like. There are few words and what one thinks it says is interpretation, which is why we should hear from many different people; some we will love and agree with, some we wont. A bit like the historical fiction writers. And we will gravitate to an interpretation we like but … I digress!

keep-calm-and-read-everything-9I should have known I was a researcher years ago. When I first became a Christian I read every book I could lay my hands on in regard to what I was now believing and read my Bible 2-3 times a year (not boasting, just showing what sort of researcher I am!)  for the first few years, wanted to go on every course and conference, just wanted to know. When I had my children I bought nearly every child rearing book I could and then borrow from the library. And the same as they grew  older. I think I’ve got lazier but maybe not.

So don’t just tell me something – give me the references and then a bit for me to run with.

And also if anyone out there knows anything about the Picturesque Movement and some suggested books I could be reading I would be very grateful 🙂

Advertisements

Success …

ea-blog-712x394-success
This blog is about my key to success 🙂 

Success – an interesting word. What is success and how to we measure it? (Yes another deviation from the who am I/what do I do mini-series but this does rather cover it too)

This week I had ran my first ever creative writing workshops. And being me I didn’t start with just one but with 4. The reason this came about was because when I was discussing it I came up with 4 ideas and the woman who runs the community centre I’m putting them on in was enthusiastic for all of them and I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to do. Yes that is a bit of “who I am?” – multi-faceted and not single-focused. And then when I mentioned the workshops to a couple of people one could come Monday and the other Tuesday so … Again that is a bit of “who I am?” – wanting to please people/encourage others, which is very different to a people-pleaser. So there I go from not ever having really run a workshop on my own to running four in a place I’m not really known, starting something that had not been done in that venue before and was a bit different to Zumba, Kick Boxing and Weight Watchers.

So how did I do? Well for one class I got my friend who was staying with me and one other

2012-01-01 00.00.00-8.jpg
Workshop number 2

woman, in the second class I got my friend who was staying with me and two other women, in the third class I got no one but had one and half hours to sort out some room rental bookings, the fourth class had three people in, one of whom has said it is not for her and won’t be coming back – though she did say that what I had done was really good and she would recommend it. So I only took in fees half of what I needed for the room rental.

How do I feel it went? For me it was a success. Why? Because all that attended said they loved the content and would recommend it to friends. The one on the first workshop will come back but cannot commit regularly, the two on the second are committing regularly, and two of the three on the fourth are committing to come regularly. So no one is dropping out – apart from my friend but that is because she lives over 200 miles away – and the lady who is already being published in travel publications. All through I felt calm and confident, felt like I knew my material and was able to explain it clearly and confidently. I want to do it again.

vujxrd
A momentary indecision 

I did on Monday evening have a bit of a dither about whether I should continue in the community centre paying the rental or whether I should have it in my home. The attendees on the fourth workshop very much encouraged me to keep going. So I am going to. I feel at peace with it all and want to carry on.

Success, like Enough which I keep meaning to blog on, are both non-quantifiable. But I think it is something deep inside that helps. In fact the Airbnb guest we have at the moment says that I ooze contentment and appear happy where I am. Ok there are days when I’m not but on the whole I am happy and content where I am doing what I do. Hence the reason for doing the mini-series which isn’t happening much at the mo. But I think this one can be included because “who I am/what I do” is these writing workshops, facilitating others in their writing and CWTP (using creative writing for therapeutic purposes) and feeling successful and contented with who I am and where I am is very much a part of all that.

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

bigstock-Women-drinking-Coffee-Vector-12783584.jpg
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

dscn0653_1_orig
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.

Dog Walker

So I continue with this piece on “who I am/what I do”. Probably what consumes most of my time after the Airbnb hosting is walking my dog. Even though he is only small we walk gwrych-11614-5 miles a day which takes a couple of hours. In the morning is the big walk – through the castle grounds, across the main road, down to the beach and back up via the park. This one is about 3 miles and takes from an hour to an hour and a half. Why the difference in time?

There are two types of dog walkers – those who go walk the dog to be alone and make sure they keep as far from people as possible and even if they do get caught they make the conversation as short as possible. They do not encourage conversation. Then there is the other type, which I come into, those who chat with people they meet. Why do I chat when I am an introvert? I chat because I like to see people smile and like to make them happy so I will have a quick word, try to remember what they said the last time we met so ask about that, and also because I seem to have the sort of face that people want to tell things to. I know a 4445558_380638b3lot about some of the dog walkers I meet. They need someone to tell their tales to. For some it is that they have recently lost husband – either through death or into care homes – , for others they just are lonely and want to tell someone what they did yesterday. But also I learn things from people which enrich my life here in our new town  but also enrich my writing life: to hear about why the lady got 3 greyhounds not just one and that he husband was one of the first high speed engine drivers; to hear  the tales of how this man tamed a
Staffordshire bull terrier after it had been rescued after being mistreated and encourage him; to find out about the places that I see along my route; of the old lady who use to work in the castle that now lies in ruins on the first part of my walk. But also I love just hearing about the general things, not just how the town use to be but where to get the best meat and things like that. All this gives me insight into my area and some of the people in it meaning I can pray for it in general and for the people that I meet.

By stopping and talkabergele-2000-si-panton-r00322542xing I get to learn so much and also am able to bless people along the way. And Renly gets to make new doggy friends and find out who the people are who will give him treats along his way. And also he loves the beach and will rush to the sand and run round in circles when he finds it is still there. As someone responded to my last post about channelling their “inner Renly” – another part of that is just having that whole joy of living and taking delight in what is just there.

pug_dog_bookends_resin__86798-1382849861-220-290
anchor/bookends – in between is my working day 🙂 

And the reason why it fills so much of my day is because it is the anchor in my day. I cannot start any form of work until I’ve walked the dog and I have to remember as the day comes to an end that the dog does need another walk. In fact I do my work, whether writing, cleaning, or preparing my writing workshop business, between the dog walks – so my working day starts with the coffee pot when I get back from my walk and ends around 5.30 when I get a text from my friend to say she’s calling round for us to walk the dogs together.

[looks like part 3 will be my new business venture so I’d best get the website up and running to share 🙂 ]

Airbnb Host

People, both friends and those I meet walking, ask me what I do with myself. My roles are many and varied. I had a some business cards printed that say a multitude of things and so I thought I would write a series of post unpacking what those things mean.

airbnbI am going to start with Airbnb hosting for a number of reasons; one it comes first on my business cards, two is comes first alphabetically, and three it does hold the structure of my day in place.

There are many articles that can be found giving Airbnb a bad name, but I think a lot of that is because, as Brits especially we do like to moan, don’t really like something entrepreneurial and do enjoy a bad story. For myself as both host and guest I think it is great. We have a dog and that means that finding campsites and hotels that allow dogs can be hard work, but the Airbnb filters let us search for dog friendly places to stay.  Yes I know these can be put on other websites for looking for hotels and bed&breakfast establishment, but I have done this before via a site, booked and paid for a dog-friendly room, arrived at the hotel and they have looked at my dog in amazement because the part about having a dog had not been passed on by the website. With Airbnb there is a chance to chat via the Airbnb app to the host and make sure they understood about the dog.

Also as a host, being able to chat to your guest before they arrive is nice, though sometimes it does mean that I have form presumptions about people before they arrive as I have mentioned before 🙂

So why do we host strangers via the Airbnb site? One reason is that we can pick and choosebnb_billboard_011 when we have people. The calendar is easy to use and so holidays for us are possible. Also Airbnb do have a vetting service or sorts, though that is more just to check the people are real! We wanted to make some money and this gives us a way to rent out our rooms easily. Airbnb do take their cut, which is making the guys who set it up rich, but you know for me I think that’s ok. It’s a great idea and by the moment of people using it show how popular it is so why not let them make some money. Really it is just lots of little bits. We are not put out by them taking their small cut and our guests say they still find it cheaper even paying the service charge.

The big thing for me is that we get people like us coming to stay, people who enjoy a chat, want to learn about the area, and want a cheap holiday. My husband says it is like having the world come to us. So far in this house we have had Italians, Polish, Australians, Welsh, English, Latvians, Malaysians, Singaporeans, and more. Most we have had chance to chat to, share breakfast with, eat supper with, learn something from. And it is also something we can do when we have family and friends to stay. Over the last couple of weekends we have had friends as well as Airbnb guests staying. So we sit down to breakfast with our friends, the Airbnb guests grab their breakfast and our friend is teasing our Brazilian guest about football. My husband breaks his foot the day before we are having a new bed for a new Airbnb room we will launch soon delivered and friend and Airbnb guest carry bed to top floor. I couldn’t have asked that if we had been running a hotel!

Also we can say what we want to supply for our guests. We do not need to do a full English breakfast. Our listing says there is bread and cereal if required in the kitchen. We do not supply an evening meal but do allow our kitchen to be used by our Airbnb guests to cook in.

Woman Changing SheetFor me there is a lot of cleaning and changing of beds and washing that needs to be done. But actually I was looking round the house today I realised that because of having guests so often the house is always clean and tidy. We were very lucky that when we moved into this house the previous owners had left it spotless, well decorated and with amazing carpet and curtains. That was a great help to the running of things. So I spend 2 hours a day keeping things up together. Sometimes it is a pain, like this Sunday when we had 2 couples leave Sunday morning and 2  couples arrive Sunday evening. I will give out my business cards to Airbnb guest that we have enjoyed saying and so we do have Airbnb guests who text to ask to come again. This was how we had this big change round on the weekend. So, because we then had paying guest on both floors of our house I had to spend about 3-4 hours cleaning everything. Also one of the couples who left on the Sunday were friends and so the housework had slipped a bit. But this does not happen that often. On the whole it is a steady stream of guests and cleaning and I can pace myself.

The reason it is controlling of my time is that it does need to be done. Airbnb use a rating system both for hosts and guests, and one of the scores is on cleanliness. I work hard to get 5 stars for everything every time. I find this very rewarding.

The hard things about hosting is that we meet such lovely people and then have to say goodbye. We know in truth that we will never see them again even though we all promise 13600090_10153796842010698_7018399500870131622_nto stay in touch. We know deep down we won’t. This is where we need to take guidance from our dog. Renly is loving and welcoming to everyone who stays, after he has done the initial barking when they arrive.  He is friend, follows them everywhere, sits at their feet, wags his tail when they come back from trips and then when he sees them go for the last time with their bags and I start to strip the bed he goes to sleep. His friendships are deep but the ties easily cut. If we are to do this well we do need to make sure we do this more; to love the people whilst they stay and then just let them go. We hoped that we would have a hospitality house where we could bless people on their journeys. With this we have a double portion – being blessed as we do the blessing 🙂

Knowing Your Calling

And it probably should say “and being comfortable in it.”

christian-denominationsThere is this thing, or maybe it’s just me, but I have found it in many Christian denominations – this sense of “calling”, of “ministry” of “doing something for God.” I have been there, done it, got the T-shirt, so to speak. I have also struggled when I have felt I am not doing “ministry” stuff.

I will share a bit of a conversation that I had today with a friend. We have known each other for about 13-14 years from a time when I was doing really amazing Christian article_discipleship_relationship-680x379ministry stuff; Youth With a Mission discipling, touring Europe and UK praying, setting up prayer groups, as well as home schooling my kids. I was doing the stuff. All I didn’t have at that point was a ministry title 🙂 And she was a newish Christian and finding her feet. I felt like I was discipling and encouraging her. I got married, Things changed. She found her feet and got connected in and encouraged. She has since got married. She is now out there doing the stuff. I must say I was nervous about talking to her today because I felt she was doing things I would love to be doing and that I would feel jealous that actually I didn’t want to talk for too long because I had a house to clean. Yes my focus has become housework. Something I never thought I would say. Anyway we got chatting and then she started to enthuse about the Healing on the Streets stuff and the prayer tent she is involved in. In fact her and her husband are leading these things. When she talked about the teams she talked about her teams. You know what? Suddenly, when she was saying how one knows one is anointed for something because you find the time and energy for it. Well something in me leaped. You know what excites me at the moment? Having a clean tidy house! And you know something? I notice now when there is a bit of dust, pet hair, smudge on the sink! Yes I now notice those things!! But that is because, for this season, my calling is to keep house.

6431-wifehusbandroles
Say Moi! 🙂 

Well that was so exciting. I have been journeying on this for a while, but especially since we have started to settle here. I have been churning over whether I should be getting paid work; whether I should be joining groups, starting CWTP groups, doing stuff, and just keep coming back to the fact that I am content walking my dog, doing a bit of writing, keeping up with emailing friends, and cleaning my house and being home to welcome my guests and also my husband. Each time I’ve felt like going off to do I’ve felt uncomfortable which is odd because I have been teased often for rushing about and doing things. Now that is not the case. Not that I have loads of extra time because I am finding all this housework that needs doing. It does mean that when dear Ian gets home often I am tired because I have done a lot of physical stuff but I am not stressed. So tired but not dumping on him. As my friend said – you know when it’s your calling because you have the energy for it, or as another friend said – you know when you are doing what God has for you because you have the Grace. Both really saying the same thing.

So I came off the phone feeling similar to how I had years ago when we had moved to a aid82011-728px-decide-if-your-friend-is-a-true-friend-step-05place of equality; where we had become true friends. I found the whole experience interesting because it made me see how we can so spoil what we are meant to do by trying to be someone else. And also where we have put this whole thing up of what is doing and what isn’t. Have I, like her, waited years to do this? Not the cleaning and the not going to meet with people. No! Do I want to do this forever? Well the way I’m feeling at the moment, Yes! But that is just that God has me where He wants me doing what I am called to do. I might not be able to write cool newsletters about it but I am here doing what I’m called to. And actually what, I think, we often forget with the whole walk with God is that we are meant to do what He has called us to and not send out cool prayer letters. We have to stop striving for the noticeable “ministry” positions and walk our walk as He directs. I am more than capable of doing what my friend is doing but it would be wrong to be doing it now. And I am sure she is more than capable of doing what I’m doing. Although when I mentioned that she laughed so maybe she isn’t.

grace2bmoving2bin2bgod2527sDoes what she do mean she needs more of God than me, or visa versa? No! We both needs God and to walk out this journey with Him as He called us. And then to help others walk out their calling in Him as they are meant to be.

Belief/Faith

51fazfvcuql-_sx322_bo1204203200_I have just started reading “The History of God” by Karen Armstrong. I’ve been wanting to read it for ages but have been nervous about it in case it made me lose my faith in God. I have really only read the introduction and already it has strengthened my faith. Not because she talks about God in a way that makes one want to believe but from her opening paragraph which talks about the difference between belief and faith. She says how she believed in God, enough that for a while she was a nun, but she did not have faith in God, and that none of her studies ever brought her to that place. Even the Bible says that there are many that believe in God, even the devil believes in God, but he does not have faith to live for and with God. Until reading this book I had often pondered what that meant – the the devil to also believe and why Jesus was condemning about it. Now it makes sense.

I believe as part of my journey I have gone through the believing stage but that, probably peace-in-chaosdue to the things I had to walk through from 2012 I have come to a place of faith in God. I wrote a piece back in January when I was struggling with all the moving stuff and said that I had reached a place where I could really trust in God. Yes true, but I also feel that that was where I went from believing in God to being willing to live a life of faith in God.

Being a practical person I have to know what that means 🙂 Well as an example; we went to a church this Sunday where the sermon was about letting go of hurts, habits and knowing your time is God’s. It was about believing it’s ok to do that with God. But for me, as I chewed it over with these thoughts in my head I realised that I have faith that if I let go of some of the hurts and fears I have about life, other people, etc and also deal with habits that are not ok, that I will still be an ok person, faith-3still be loved unconditionally by God, still be able to function. And you know it doesn’t matter if that person hurts me again because I’ve let my guard down, that’s ok. And it doesn’t matter if I do lose it again, reverting to that habit of temper tantrum, because God loves me unconditionally. I have faith that God loves me, but also I have faith in the fact that He doesn’t just love me because I’m ok, He loves me when I’m not ok. I have faith that if I didn’t ever change that would be ok.

So I have faith and trust that God has a plan for me, for us, for my family and friends. I have faith that if it doesn’t work out how I want it to then God is in control.

I have a lot of crazy beliefs that maybe I’m trying to make fit – like how I view God, what I’d like God to be. In fact what has struck me is that we, whether Christian or not, spend a lot of time trying to work out what we believe or not about God and yet very rarely have the faith to let those beliefs go. I don’t really know what God is like. I don’t really know what God wants me to do. I have to trust the still small voice in me and have faith that God is bigger than that still small voice.

So it sounds like semantics but I think it is more than. I think it is easy to jump up and down in church, or read liturgy or however one does church, and say I believe. Like Jesus have-faithsaid even the devil believes all those things. But how much faith do I have to trust in God? And I believe this is what I have been learning over the last few years – that it doesn’t really matter what I believe or not. In fact there could always come along something that shatters those beliefs. But am I willing to have the faith to live my life for God?

I was going to follow that with a “I wonder what that looks like” but in fact faith is like the verse from James of not planning and preparing but of taking today as today – being Mindful!! – and accepting what is and walking in that. So on the practical at the moment for me that is being here in my room, praying, writing, reading, cleaning, welcoming others, supporting and being me. As it says on my new businesses cards I am:

airbnb host, writer, historian, researcher, life coach, mentor, encourager, CWTP facilitator,  prophetic intercessor, reconciler, member of Interweave, dog walker, coffee&wine drinker and friend

At the moment that is me. I am having faith in the fact that this is the life God has for me and so I am laying down any hopes, oughts, shoulds, not worrying about what other people think, but I am laying out what I am and who I am and having the faith that God will walk with me as I try to walk with Him.

have-faith-in-what-will-beAnd I do wonder if that is the core issue with faith as opposed to believe. Believe is a mind thing that does move to the heart too, but Faith is a heart thing that has to move to the  mind. I do have to have faith that God sees I’m doing my best as much as I have faith in Him to lead my life as I believe He would want me to lead it.