I married Ian in 2007. I have two grown up children, who I home schooled until they were 16. My son has just joined the army, my daughter has just moved to Cardiff.
I have a degree in History and Creative writing and a PGDip in using Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes.
Until Feb 2016 I lived in a beautiful part of England and now I live in a beautiful part of North Wales where my time is filled with welcoming Airbnb rental guests, running writing workshops, writing, serving in my local Welsh Anglican Church, going for long walks with my little dog, Renly, and drinking coffee and chatting with friends
Last night I went to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on my own. I had a seat right at the back and could watch not just the performance well but also see the audience. People were not as dressed up as I remember 35 odd years ago and the production didn’t seem to be as rude and raunchy as I remember. But that could just be me that had changed. I was a bit nervous of being in a theatre full of people with no distancing, which again is why I picked a seat at the back. There were 5 empty rows before there was anyone else. But I suppose viruses can travel.
Anyway when it came to the end the cast came back on stage and led everyone in iconic dance of the show, “The Time-warp”. I would say the whole audience leapt to their feet and danced for a good five minutes. We’d all taken our masks off because we were sitting down. So lots of singing, dancing, a bit of sweating I’m sure, and no fears or even thoughts of catching the virus. It was just the full joy of having seen a great show, enjoyed the enthusiasm of everyone else and just wanted to let off some steam. I must say I then skipped to the car and sung all the way home. I was even dancing and singing when I got back and had to take the dog for a pee.
Now I know I haven’t been to church since March 2020 but even before the fear of this awful virus there wasn’t that level of enthusiasm. Even when I went to a charismatic church back where we used to live it was rare to get that level of carefree abandonment through the whole congregation. As one crazy guest musician once said “you all think you’re being wild but you are all staying in your seats, the same seats you sit in every week.” It was true.
So I’m not saying that we need to infect other people but how often when we are in church do we get that level of carefree abandonment where we just want to let go and just have fun. It isn’t about being undignified. But, like with last night, it is about being caught up in the craziness, the enthusiasm, the fun, the joy, and also the whole thing of being in something you know so well that you know what to do.
Because, as I started this thought, I wondered if maybe last night was because it was different, but as I listened to people talking, for most people they came because they loved this iconic show, which is why it is still going after 40+ years. I was there because it was something I knew. So if, as Christians, we say we know Jesus, say we love Jesus, say we have gained so much from our lives from Jesus [which is much more than being the audience in a show we love] why don’t we go wild, feel such joy and abandonment.
I don’t know about you but I know that I now need to have a re-tweak of how I walk out my following of Jesus and have more of what I had last night in it.
I woke up feeling low this morning. Low and old. Bemoaning that I only had a handful of years left to live and what had achieved with it. So I sat on my yoga mat with my cat and pondered. Because I’m also following Christine Sine’s example of deep gratitude I did my best to move into that place.
Well to begin with I have two amazing children who are doing great in the world. I have published a book [and trying not to beat myself up over the fact that it is my only one so far. I will go back and read my last post if I get issues there]. I encourage lots of people with my writing groups, with the youthshedz project [more on that in another post]
But it is too easy to look back and think of all the things I haven’t done – not had a great career, not entered politics, not invented something that would change the world, not some recognised person in the media.
But what really is achievement? What does it really mean? As a Christian I have come to believe that it means knowing God deeper and myself as well so that I can love others.
Doing the work with the Youthshedz young people I realise like them that I am luck to be alive. At 25 I didn’t like myself but now, 35 years on I can say that I like myself. I trust myself, and I have noticed the more I trust myself the more I trust God and also other people.
There is a verse about “judging as you will be judged” [Matthew 7:1] and I think that when one is striving to “achieve” something noteworthy one is too often looking at others, judging what they are doing, rating them as better or worse than oneself – generally better than – rather than just getting on and doing the stuff.
So I may not change the world and neither may my children or the young people I encourage, but you know I think if I make my world a more contented place by being more contented myself – by creating that energy around me of acceptance and contentment – then I have achieved enough.
Like the harbour wall in this picture one day all will be gone and I will be forgotten and you know that is ok.
As a writer, not a dancer or a singer. I am going to steal this quote and give it a tweak – “Write like no one will read it, Write like you’ve never been badly criticised/lost your confidence/felt like it’s a waste of time, Write like it’s heaven on earth”
I am a writer who runs writing groups and writing projects. I spend a lot of my time writing. Some of which you can read on the pages of “My Writing”, other bits you can find here on my blog page. I also do all the exercises I set my writing groups. But I got to thinking – how do I write when I know no one will read it? Not as in journaling but just writing a story for myself.
I know we all talk of the first draft not being perfect, or of those exercises we do in writing group being rough. And I don’t want to aim for perfection and be criticising my work as I go because that would make it static and lose the flow. It was more a question of how do I write when I’m just writing for fun.
I am part of a group of writers who used to meet regularly in Frome but then who met online over lockdown and now are a hybrid of in person and online, which is great for me because I’m now living in North Wales. I find meeting with this group very beneficial, so much so that I pay a bit extra to be able to be virtually in their writing room during the week as well as the monthly Sunday gatherings.
Well this Sunday I had booked into write for the morning and felt I “ought to” be ploughing through my collection of short stories of the backstories of some of the women in some of the Mabinogion tales. But I wasn’t wanting to go down the angsty route that I had allowed these women to do down. So I had a choice – either make their lives less angst or write something else. I didn’t want to change their lives as most days I like where they are, so in the end I used one the wild writing prompts we’d started the session with and wrote about how this guy had become a male stripper and exploring his relationships. I will not do anything with this tale but realised that I was “writing as if no one will read it”. I found it fun and very releasing. I can also see how it could help with me how I construct short stories. But that wasn’t the point. I was just writing.
When I allowed myself to move into that place of “writing as if no one will read it” and letting go of all the guilt, negativity, criticism, inner voice telling me I was wasting my morning, and allowed myself to feel like it was “heaven on earth” I took my character on a great journey. Him and I had fun together and enjoyed our Sunday morning. He is now filed away with other unfinished pieces in my “Cloud”.
I still write well, keeping an bit of an eye on spelling – thank you Mr Redline Spellchecker. And I try my best with punctuation – though I have to say that is not my strong point. I blame the fact that I went to school at that time when punctuation was not taught. I’m still never 100% sure what an adjective is!!! 🙂
Also I realised that heaven won’t be heaven for me if I can’t write. If/when I get to heaven I want to hang out by the river of life, under those healing trees, with my A5 hardback notebook and the best pen ever, and write what I can see, what I feel, make up stories about the people I can see around me. But then if I feel like that then why do I not write all the time now? Have heaven on earth now? Because of feelings of “having to” produce something, use my time “wisely”, be “productive”, etc etc. But actually writing is my love, my big passion. I think via my written words.
For instance yesterday I had a Youthshedz meeting and the person I was meeting was late so I got out my notebook and pen and the plan for the next couple of months of the project flowed out of my pen.
So I am going to write more, for no other reason than to write. I’m going to enjoy hanging out with my characters whether others get to meet them or not. Yes I will still take pieces to competition or publication level but all the time I will hold on to the joy that I am going to “write like no one is watching … write like it’s heaven on earth.”
Challenge – how do you write when no one is looking? When maybe no one will ever read it? Or do you struggle with thoughts that there must be a reason why you are writing?
The 11th September 2001 is a day that everyone over about 25 can say where they were and how those around them reacted. Yes, it was a day that changed the world. Iconic? That depends on how you use the word. From the destruction of the Twin Towers and the other plane attacks, terrorism came to America. From that one day, major government decisions were put in place which has led to the culmination of millions of Afghans now needing to be housed in safer parts of the world.
Terrorism was not a new thing. Many countries had endured it for centuries. Here in the UK, we had learned to live with the uncertainties of bombings by the IRA in our city centres. But I think it was the cunningness, the planning, the audacity, determination, tenacity, single focus, and utter belief in their cause that shocked so many. These men learned to pilot those specific planes with that specific airline so that on their maiden flight they took not only their own lives but the lives of many, many others.
For Christians, we talk of living for a higher purpose but, especially in the West, how often do we? We may get reprimanded for praying in our schools, hospitals, etc, which we moan about, put a post on social media, but are very rarely willing to, or even asked to, die for. Suddenly on 11th September 2001, we were confronted by a group of radical people who not only talked that talk but walked it too. Here were a people group who would literally stop at nothing, including the loss of their own lives, to achieve what they saw as a higher goal.
Twenty years on, we are still reeling from it. Still feeling the effects of it. I believe it is because of the Western government’s decisions back in September 2001 which has led to the collective need in the West to help the refugees from Afghanistan. A need unlike anything that has been felt for those fleeing African countries, South American countries, Middle Eastern countries. Very much like when the Twin Towers were hit people were shocked at the numbers who died but more died in poverty across the world, from AIDS-related illnesses, from abuse, on that one day than in the Twin Towers attack, and yet the focus was on the terrorists rather than the things that we could help with.
Over these last 18 months, we have had to face another unseen enemy – the coronavirus. We are not sure where it is or how it moves. We neither see it nor feel it until it is too late. Also, as with many issues in the rest of the world, if it doesn’t affect us and those we are close to then we want to pretend it does not exist and to be able to carry on as normal and let “them” deal with it. We only react then when it touches one of those we love when it hits home. This was the same twenty years ago. Terror attacks across the world did get a mention in the media but not for a prolonged period and did not have the same gut reaction as the Twin Towers. They were acts that happened “over there” not on our doorstep. We would only really hear of events if there was a Western person, someone of our nationality, affected by it. So like we are now with Covid-19.
To me with these two unseen things – terrorists who are willing to die for their cause and the coronavirus that keeps morphing so it can live – we have learned so little about ourselves. We are still only focused on what changes the lives of those we love and those we care for.
I remember one of the things said by the media after 9/11 was that the planes were aimed at the Twin Towers because they represented Western economy. I think God was trying to tell us all something then about our greed and fears, and how we view our resources, what we in the West saw as “enough”. I think with this pandemic, God has once again highlighted our global economy and how much is lacking in our care for others – something the group involved with the 9/11 atrocity felt a dramatic need to highlight. It has been the less developed nations that have lost most during this pandemic and yet it has been in the West that people have bemoaned many things we have got used to seeing a right not a privilege.
The questions arise again and again – are we willing to change? Are we willing to love all people whether they hurt us or not? Godspace’s focus at the moment is about the “new season.” Are we willing to move into a new season in how we view the world and realise how connected we are? My spending decisions affect someone in the Taliban as much as it affects someone in London, New York, the Philippines, etc.
So my prayers today, 11th September 2021, are that as we remember the loss of life at Ground Zero, and in the other attacks, we remember the immense bravery of the emergency services that day and the days following, the lives and livelihoods lost by so many connected with 9/11. I will also pray that we remember the loss of life – and livelihoods – of those from Covid-19, and also the immense bravery of the health services and other emergency services and support workers around the world over this time. I also pray that all of us, including myself, realise how much is “enough” and let go of our fears of sharing our “more than enough” with others – whether that be time, money, resources, but most especially our love and understanding. As one of my Youthshedz young people said, we cannot meet shame with shame. We cannot meet fear with fear and as Jesus said we cannot meet violence with violence.
So I pray we will let go of our fear of others and our fears of not having enough and share and share and share. And that with our sharing we can bring peace to a hurting world.
I seem to have blog a lot and then stopped for a week or so. The reason for stopping is that we have had a busy time with family and friends, which has been lovely but the introvert in me has got tired from it. But something struck me through it all – I could moan and grumble about not having time at to myself [cursing] or I could see what was going on a a blessing.
In Moses’s last soliloquy to the Israelites he says that they must choose between blessing or cursing. Often I have seen this, and maybe been taught this, that it is about the way I behave, but over the past couple of weeks I have started to see it as being about the way I think. As with the QEC way it is how you think that determines the energy you give off. From the energy you give off comes the way the atmosphere around you is and from there how you can affect those around you.
So instead of seeing those who stayed with us as hard work and an inconvenience I saw them as a blessing to my world. And the interesting things was not only was the atmosphere nice but also they were a blessing to me. Yes I was tired by having people around but wasn’t stressed with it. I understood the why I was tired and so made sure I took myself to my bed to read alone early enough in the evening, and found time to “unfolded” in the mornings alone. But I had a great time
It also seemed to happen that things were said that wouldn’t normally be said, conversations that had needed to be said were said in a gentle atmosphere and no one fell out. Yes these conversations were emotional, some of which because they had been bottled up for a long time but they didn’t come out like they had burst from a fizzy bottle but came out gently and well-poured.
The above picture is taken one morning when I was able to get out on my own with my dog and got to write some poetry, which was well needed. But again it was a blessing not a “having to get away”.
I came back tired but refreshed and also came back blessed. I have accepted how I felt at some of the times through what was said, triggers that happened, but instead of processing I was able to turn them into blessings which actually I feel is one step further on than even stopping looking through the garbage.
About three weeks ago I had a QEC session and my counselor challenged me on journaling. She said it was like putting all your stuff in the rubbish bin and then going back to check what you’d put it. I have journaled on and off for most of my writing life. I would say that it is where I explore my thoughts and feelings and with my pen come up with a plan for what to do with what I feel. Her challenge was that a feeling is a feeling and a situation is a situation but that with QEC we’re putting new beliefs into my world about how I am.
I have been going off on walks, just me and my dog, to places where I won’t see people to chat to, and I write. Some of which I have written up and can be found on My Writing page under the heading Artist’s Date Inspirations. From these random writings I come up with interesting realisations.
Yesterday I had been upset by something and reached for my journal to unload but stopped myself. I decided instead to use a postcard and write a short story which I have called “Autumn Foretells”.
. Through this I was able to vent how I felt, explore thoughts and ideas and come to a point of being calm and relaxed. It is an interesting story and can be found on My Writings if you wish to read it. Note it is not true
So I did not look back through past events, did not explore how I felt and why, but took myself off on a creative writing route that did not “look through the garbage” and I felt much fresher and freer afterwards.
I must say when my counselor mentioned I did only slightly agree with her and also did not want to break a habit of a life time. But of course that is what QEC is all about – breaking those life time habits that we have brought up so we can be free to truly be.
So I will end this run of four thoughts on The Lord’s Prayer at the beginning “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name” I’d love to do a straw poll and find out how many of us cringe a bit when we feel we have to call God Father. I know my hand would go up. I’m not just thinking of my own father but of many other fathers I know who struggle along trying to do the best for their kids but carry so much of their own baggage that they don’t really know what “Father” actually means.
So I start my prayer by saying “To the all loving being who inhabits both the heavens and the earth, who made it all, and all that it is in it, whether the created acknowledge their maker or not. To the connected universe that holds all together and lets all move freely. To you I open my heart today because you are immense and amazing.”
Ok so it is a bit more long winded than the words we read in the Bible. But again I think that is because, for the gospel writers, it was obvious who they were connecting with, and obvious what they and others believed and expected.
In my journey with God I have come to see prayer more and more as not an asking thing but a connecting thing, and so I have to ask myself “what or who am I connecting with?” which is why I have the long opening. It is for me and not for God. God knows who God is. God doesn’t need telling, but I do need to realise the enormity and amazingness of God.
I think often our prayers are for ourselves. So we pray for those we love because it helps us cope with what they are going through. Yes I do know and believe that God answers prayer and intervenes. I also believe that God intervenes without our prayers too. I know prayer is important. But I think we often do it for our peace of mind too. And I believe that when we connect with God, the Maker of the Universe, through prayer or mediation or centering, or whatever we want to call it, then we connect with something higher, wider, deeper, more all knowing than we are.
To gain the real amazingness of prayer we need to also trust that we connect, that we are heard, that we are part of something, that we are co-creators of the outcome. Even if the prayers aren’t answered as we would like.
I like stories to confirm things so … I offered to pray for a lady in the park because her father had been taken ill. Her father died two weeks later. She told me that she knew I was praying because she felt such peace through it all. I didn’t give her peace. I didn’t stop her father dying. But what I did was connect her and her father and her family with The Amazing Power and Peace of God and let things flow as they were intended.
The outcome isn’t my call. My call is to prayer, connect with my Heavenly Savoir, and trust that things will go as the Universe believes to be the right way with peace.
I have to end by saying I think prayer is amazing and I need to remember to do it more often during the day as it changes me and my energy as much as it changes things I pray about.
My third day of thoughts on my version of The Lord’s Prayer. Today is “your kingdom come, your will be done” to this I always add “in my life and my world.”
Is this a selfish, egocentric attitude? I think it depends on how you view yourself and your connections. For me I see myself as connected to others who in turn are connected to others. For instance, lady in the park told me that the random conversation we had the other day, which brought back memories of her going to Paris with her late husband, made her day and that she was able to cope with a shop assistant who was a bit stressed. I didn’t even meet the stressed shop assistant but my connection with a fellow dog walker supported that shop assistant. And who knows what the kind words from the from the dog walker brought to the shop assistant and so on and so on
Also I am coming to believe more and more that the energy I give out – whether negative or positive, fearful or safe, joyful or angry – affects those around me and again then affects those they come into contact with. It is a bit like my understanding of chaos theory – of how a butterfly flapping its wings in a forest can lead to a hurricane somewhere else in the world! OK for all the scientists who follow me this is a my simplified version!!! 🙂
Maybe me being kind to people and doing my best to walk with an energy of trust, peace and joy, can lead, one person at a time, to peace in the Middle East, which if boiled down to its basic level is people being afraid of people and what they can lose.
I suppose this comes full circle back to believing I have enough, which can even lead to knowing I have lived long “enough” as have those I love. [Of course I don’t want those I love to die in pain but I have to be ready to let them go when the universe says “enough” on their time here – but that’s for another blog!!!] But if I believe I am living in “enough” and that I am walking out God’s Kingdom and Will in my life/my world, then I do not need to fear lose or fear getting it wrong, which brings me back to “Forgiveness” of myself and others.
Makes you wonder sometimes if the Lord’s Prayer was written upside down and should have started with “get ready to forgive yourself and others, trust there is enough to go round, and believe you are doing your best to work out God’s Will and Kingdom in your life and that this will affect others”.
So to carry on with my thoughts on how I am praying The Lord’s Prayer at the moment.
The reason I’ve picked this picture is that when we judge ourselves and so don’t forgive ourselves, we are like these reeds; knocked over, lying flat, struggling to function. But, if we tune into what I believe Jesus is trying to tell us in The Lord’s Prayer, we will recover, stand up again, and be all we are meant to be.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” we recite. I need to forgive me before I can forgive you. Jesus talks about judging others and being judge, which I think goes with this. And it isn’t God judging us or not forgiving us, but ourselves. I don’t believe I follow a judgemental God but I do believe that I can be a judgemental person.
Here is a trivial for instance of me being judgemental. I used to judge what people were wearing so if I had to go out with the dog when I was still in my pajamas [he won’t pee in the garden so sometimes if he’s bursting he has to be rushed to the small patch of grass at the end of our road] I would be convinced people were looking at me and judging me for being in my pjs. I’m not sure anyone noticed or cared. But it did mean when I went out I was often looking at what people were wearing, but now I’ve stopped looking at what people wear and judging whether it is the “right” thing to be out in, and so this morning when I had to rush the dog out I didn’t think what anyone would think of me.
But also the “forgive myself and forgive others” thing is also that if I can’t forgive myself for screwing up I am not able to forgive others for it. So in my morning post-yoga praying I adapt this line “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” to “help me to forgive myself through today as I screw up, which I know I will, and help me to be kind to others who will also screw up, upset me, hurt my feelings or generally do something I don’t like. Help me to keep short accounts and keep my heart open to knowing when I’ve not forgiven myself and also have allowed someone else to upset me” It is all a bit long winded and I can see what the gospel writers shortened it. But actually for me I see the lines in The Lord’s prayer as almost like journal prompts to lead me to something bigger and deeper.
Also starting the day like this means I do spend my day being able to forgive others quickly because it is already in my head.
Enough! How often do we start our day believing we have had enough sleep and will have enough time to do all that we think we have to do during the day? Very rarely I would say.
Too often we wake thinking we haven’t had enough sleep – especially if we are menopausal women who have restless nights, or have babies that keep us awake half the night or more. We then look at our “to do” list and think we don’t have enough time.
For me this contentment with “enough” comes from Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” book, QEC coaching and also really praying the Lord’s Prayer after doing yoga most mornings.
The “give me today my daily bread”, for me, can only come from a place of “enough”. But that was not how I was taught this prayer. I was taught it from a place of “lack”. A place of begging God to “please give me my daily bread”. Believing that unless I really asked God properly I wouldn’t have enough to make his Kingdom purposes come!
I have now started praying “help me believe I have all that I need, my daily bread allowance, to do all that I am meant to do today” or “thank you that I have already got all that I need for all that I will be doing today” or “I start today grateful for the daily bread I have been given for my day.”
It is a knowing that I have already been supplied with “enough” for today; whether that is energy, time, patience with others, grace, food, etc. Even those I meet will be part of my “daily bread” for today; people who enrich me, that need me, that I need, that help me and I help. All are part of my daily bread. And I come from knowing that I have enough to give and to receive all through the day.
It also means that at the end of the day when I’m tired and don’t feel like doing the washing up and can’t read as many pages of my book as I would like that is ok. I’ve done my “enough” for today and it is ok to curl up and go to sleep. I can end my day feeling grateful for what I did and knowing it was all that I was meant to do for today.