Secure in my opinions

keep-calm-this-is-my-opinionMy opinions are mine and mine alone. They maybe right. They maybe wrong. But they are mine. But what surprised me in the last week is how people don’t seem to like it if my opinions differ from theirs. They seem to want me to change or something. Actually I’m not sure what they want because I cannot mind read and would not like to second guess others. One of the things that leads to stress, so the de-stress information says, is to try to second guess what others think.

… will lead to calmly held boundaries, which need neither to be defended constantly nor abdicated in the name of “friendship.

Richard Rohr Sunday 4th December 2016

Very exciting when I read this devotional after blogging and find it is saying similar to me 🙂

So anyway this week firstly I was at a creative journaling workshop. I must say I do love it and love going but it isn’t my thing. I enjoyed the first bit of putting backgrounds on but when I got home I put the journal away and left it till the next session. I happened to say that I am very much a writer not an artist-type. Well I got told I needed to push through, img_0878to get that other side of my brain working, etc. I do understand that this was well meaning but what I was trying to say was that I was excited to find out something that I didn’t want to do. Goodness me there are enough things in the world to do and so I need to know what to use my time in doing. Also what “other side of my brain”? I must say I didn’t ask the question so cannot guess what was meant by it but my first instinct was to think they meant the creative side. And this is where for along time my dilemma came from as a writer. I did not think I was creative at all because I do find I get no joy from painting, pottery, and all those other forms of art. I love writing and I love cooking and I’m good at picking the colours to decorate a room with – though much prefer to then pay someone to do it for me! So because I couldn’t do the official art things I always thought I was not creative, that I had to get that creative side of my brain going. Not true. I am creative. With words I am very creative but I’m not keen on the painting/making stuff side of creativity 🙂

The other place I voiced my opinion and got a hard time was at a course we were going to which I thought was about the connection between Christianity and Judaism which I thought would be interesting. Finding the roots of my faith – in fact going to the roots of anything – is what I love. It turned out it wasn’t really that but was about showing how it says in the Bible that the Jews should be in Israel. Now that in and of itself I do not have issues with and think maybe it is true. But what I did have issue with was that what the course, on this Friday’s session, was saying was that Israel did not wrong in going into maxresdefaultPalestine, that the British had a right to give the land to the Jews and when I voiced about the atrocities that were performed by the Jews on the Palestinians I was given short shrift. I tried to leave as quietly and politely as I could, voicing calmly why I was leaving as I went and got a real hard time from one of the course leaders and from a couple of the people present. Because I felt secure in my opinions, and not wanting to say theirs were wrong I was able to sleep well and calmly that night and have just been left, from both these times, wondering why people seem to not let others have their own opinion.

But of course it got me wondering as to whether I am guilty of trying to get people to agree with me. Hopefully this blog is where I say what I think, maybe try to persuade, but would be ok with others thinking differently. I am hoping that if the people who I have mentioned here read this then they will not get hurt and offended. I am not saying they are wrong at all. I am saying that I think differently to them. It is about being different not right or wrong.

For me recently I have found the things said on social media to be hard to stomach as people have been so rude about those who have different opinions to them. Once you think someone is stupid your brain will no longer want to listen to them. If one can say “I sometimes-the-right-thing-for-you-is-the-wrong-thing-for-someone-else-quote-1think differently to you and this is why” then maybe a dialogue could continue. Should I have stayed and not walked out of the course? I have pondered that. And actually at that moment in time walking out was the best thing as I was feeling upset by what was being said so wasn’t in a position to listen. I also knew, from the reaction I received to things I had said during the meeting and as I tried to leave, that I was not going to be able to openly discuss but would be told I was wrong.

Agghh!! Never tell me I’m wrong!!! And actually that goes for all the people who read on social media that they were “wrong/stupid” for what they voted for. They become defensive. They are not in a position to be persuaded.

I think too that if I am confident in my opinions and secure in what I think  – not bombastic but gently secure – then I can feel free to say “sorry that’s upset me so I need to leave” or “that isn’t for me” or “I don’t like that” or “I feel differently to you” but I do think we don’t allow others to say or think like that because we aren’t secure in what we think or feel. Also I do think with some things that what we enjoy, think, feel is so amazing for us that we want to encourage – which can become forceful – other into doing the same us as, thinking the same as us, feeling the same as us.

So yes I think that those on the course are passionate that God wants the Jews back in Palestine and I am sure my lovely friend with the creative journalling enjoys it so much that she wants everyone to find her enjoyment too. I am sure that I have things that I respect-7would love others to feel the same way as I do but I have to learn that all I can do is show them my enthusiasm and then leave them to see what they think. I can tell them what I know but then respect how they react to it.

So it has been an interesting week and I have learned so much – about me most of all 🙂

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Doors

In well-being circles and other “self-help” type areas there is often talk about doors and opendooropen doors and walking through doors. I love it and have done loads about them. In fact I could do a whole 6 week series of workshops on doors and transitional places. And in fact this is what we were doing last night at the creative writing for well-being workshop I was facilitating. Then on of the participants gave me food for thought. I do love doing this sort of stuff because I only facilitate and encourage others to bring out what is within them and I am always learning too. I do not have it all sorted.

So anyone someone says “behind the door is a blank wall” and that has really stuck with me. I found it not so much encouraging but something to think about. How often do I think of a door having something behind it? Yes I know a wall is a something, but rather something to go into, a new room, space or place. I have never thought of it going no where. So as I pondered this I thought of how I have been feeling that doors have been wall-behind-door-brick-open-white-room-lack-access-deadlock-69844395flying open for me with regard to running various workshops up here. Although actually there is a lot of stuff sitting in the pipeline and not actually having anything concrete on it but that’s ok. But all I have been thinking is “Wow how exciting. Open doors.” and being me I’m happy to rush through them cos that’s what I’m like.

Well I have realised with one situation it may not be a blank wall but it is a small room and actually I would probably be better to come out of that room because it is dark and also not right for me at the moment. So I will step away quietly, close the door and learn from it. What I have learned is that maybe just rushing in is not such a good idea. I probably need to have a look through the door, see what’s there and see if I want to do there. I need to ask more questions, find out clearly what is there, and then decide. Although knowing me I’ll probably still rush in, which I have done many times before, and then have to walk out.

63fa6be9fea5a5f83a4a3e42af52c33cNot every door leads somewhere but we all need to be bold enough to walk out of the confining space and try another door.

Historian and Researcher

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

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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 🙂

Success …

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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.

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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 🙂