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.
Godspace there of Gearing Up For A New Season got me thinking about what that means to me.
At the moment none of us really knows what this New Season will look like. With global warming our seasons are all over the place. Over the last month here in North Wales we have gone from 17C to 32C and now it is 13C. The only type of weather we haven’t had over July is snow, but we’ve had blistering heat, pouring rain, hail, funnel winds, and gentle sunshine too.
At one time when schools restarted the pupils would have had time at the end of the last term to go check out their new classes or new schools and have met their teachers and even started making friends, and be prepared for their new season. But due to covid many were isolated before the end of term, or discouraged to be anywhere other than in their regular classrooms.
For me personally I can feel a new season starting. Since published The Little Yellow Boat I’m being called a professional writer, which has led to me being paid to become part of a long term youth project. I am also setting aside regular times to write, both in my beautiful study or out on walks. Yesterday I went to the place in the picture and wrote.
But still the question is – how do I prepare for this new season? How do I gear myself up for it? What will it look like? Or even should I be planning? Check out my blog “Intentionality written in pencil”
So whereas once we would almost know what this new season would look like with Covid, with the extremes of weather, with new projects, with different working conditions, we cannot predict how things will be. Tom Sine does a good attempt to explore the themes of these changing time on his blog – NewChangemakers
As the saying goes “change is always with us” but it feels like as things start to open up, even with cases of Covid continuing to increase, there is nothing solid to hang on to. I am grateful for my faith but even with that, although the Bible says the Lord is the same today, tomorrow and yesterday, my relationship with God and how I see my faith have changed.
So what are the concrete things I can hold on to as I gear up for a new season? And what can I share with others?
For me the big one would be that God is God and is always there no matter what goes on, no matter how much I change, no matter what goes on in the world. And that God wants the best for me and so, if we work together I can grow more flexible, more trusting in God, more deeper in my beliefs of knowing God is watching my back. You know I was going to write stronger but I felt like flexible was the word. We talk a lot about growing stronger as though that is a good thing but I actually think that if I can get more and more flexible then I will be able to roll with the seasons, be blown by the winds of change but not fall. I think to be more flexible I need to have roots that go deep and I think for me as I gear up to this new season, whatever it is going to look like, I want to send my roots deep into my Saviour, Maker of the Universe, and just trust that what will come my way, however it comes, I will remain with my Saviour.
I was reading Lisa’s blog on Musing From a Sacred Summer, of how she is being intentional with the things she does before leaving Seattle, but that so often we don’t know what is round the corner. If these past 18 months have taught us one thing it should be that we don’t know what’s coming. Every January we sit and plan, roughly, our year so that we’ve at least got some idea of what is going on. Even as February 2020 came into being and rumours were starting about this new virus we still went ahead and book a trip to see my son’s flat and a couple of other events later in the year. For us here in the UK March 23rd was “end of the world as we know it” day. Lockdown day!! The signs were there. It had been coming. But I don’t think anyone really believed it would be as it was.
So things will change but does that mean we don’t plan any more? I don’t think so. But it is how we plan that will help to keep us sane.
I am trying to make my whole day intentional. I am a writer and, as most writers know, unless you carve out time then you don’t get to write. In fact I think that is probably true for most self-employed creative people without deadlines. I don’t have a publisher waiting round the corner for me to produce my next book, next collection, but I do love to write. I have published a book. I would like to publish again. But there won’t be anything if I don’t intentionally set aside time to write. So I am putting aside time in my diary. I also live in a big house that needs cleaning regularly. It is easy to keep clean if I intentionally set aside time to do it. I have paid projects that I need to be doing too.
Some people write their plans in stone. Some people don’t write them at all and wonder why things don’t get done. But I am planning on writing my plans in pencil. Not because I don’t take them seriously but because things can change. Take for instance my cleaning routine. I had it all planned out and then heard from a friend that someone she knew was going to be homeless for a couple of days, so a quick change, replan and they’ve got rooms ready for them. Or this morning, I had a list of what I was going to write. One of which was to finish off a blog post to share on Godspace but as I was writing it I put in a reference to this blog, that I hadn’t written at the time so thought I’d best get it done!!!
As I’ve mentioned before I intentionally put an Artist’s Date in my diary, where I go for a walk and write. I was planning to do that today but in the end went yesterday because there was a space. I am so glad I did because today there is sideways rain crashing down. Even the dog only got a 15 min walk. Intentionality written in pencil.
Hopefully this will make me more flexible, more trusting in God and the Universe, more able to do what I have to do. So I put things in my diary, make my to-do list, and hold everything lightly, and trusting that what I get done for that day, be it writing, cleaning, working on a project, emailing, seeing friends, or all the other myriad of things I love to do, will be what I am meant to do for that day
Today is the 21st March, the first day of spring. It is also Census day here in the UK, an event that happens every 10 years. It is the 1st anniversary of the first ever lockdown in the UK. So much has changed in the last 12 months but then so much changes every year, but through it all spring stays the same. And it is the mix of mighty changes and the constants that I am holding on to today.
The mighty changes got me thinking about how very different each of my “Census days” have been.. This will be my 6th. My first, I was not quite 10 so my parents would have filled that one in. We had moved from London to a bungalow in the country. I had friends with horses and maybe too much freedom. Fast forward 10 year, as a family we moved twice and now live in a different part of the country, I am married, own a house and have a job. Ten years further on, I’ve divorced, moved a lot, had a crazy ten years that I am grateful to have lived through, and now hold my brand new son in my arms and know I need to calm down to keep him safe. The next 10 years again, are filled with huge changes. I have an amazing God encounter, marry, have a daughter, get divorced, move lots, and as I filled in this census form we are preparing to go to live with a Christian mission organisation. In the ten years from there I have worked in the mission organisation for a while, moved around a lot, settled back in the town I filled in the last census form, then got married and moved again. Now to this year’s census form, again many changes though I am still married to the same person, my kids have left home [though my daughter is staying with us whilst she’s furloughed], we have moved and I have published my first book.
Lots of other things have happened during the last ten years – deaths of family and friends in tragic circumstances being the major ones – but also amazing times of growing up, of getting a degree, of no longer running away.
These past 12 months will go down as a year of monumental change and I know that this year of lockdown isn’t over yet, but what I have discovered as I have thought back through my “census years” is that life events don’t fit kindly into a calendar pattern. Months and years don’t all start on the first day of the week. People don’t die far enough apart to give one time to grieve through each one. Things happen in a mess. They happen in a confused state.
The media and many others are asking governments to come up with a “get out of lockdown” plan, but as someone said on Mock the Week earlier in the year “this is a virus and it won’t stick to a plan”. The phrase that was spoken a lot at the beginning of this pandemic was that we were in unprecedented times. Why do we expect someone to have a plan when things are unprecedented? When I filled in my first census form as an adult I would not have been able to tell you that 4 census’s later I would be living in North Wales with a published book and degree in Creative Writing and History. I’ve had many “unprecedented” years, and most times there is no plan. The “pandemic years” will be different as they are something we experience as a nation rather than an individual. But sometimes I have come to realise is we don’t know our way through we just have to keep on walk.
feel I’ve walked a life time of unprecedented and know that there is a pretty strong chance that the next however long I’m blessed to live on this earth will be unprecedented – some maybe just for me and mine but some maybe for the world country. I am grateful that after my 3rd census I met with God in such a way that I have never been able to walk away. I didn’t met with doctrines or theology but met with the Creator of the Universe who told me how much I was loved even though at the time I was a mess. I believe the Almighty can do it now for each and everyone.
I share a poem from Jan Richardson who has been on an awesome journey through unprecedented times for her and can still say she know she is Beloved.
Today in the Northern hemisphere is Spring Equinox. From today there will be more daylight than darkness, and as I write the sun is shining. I hope this is the start of more light in our world than darkness, more warmth rather than cold, more trusting and less fear. We will all walk, either as individuals, as families, or as nations, through unprecedented times, but as Easter approaches, help us to remember that we do not need to walk alone.
Yesterday was the last day of our holiday. It was our first holiday this year due to lockdown. The first 6 days of it were spent in Northumberland in a self-catering cabin, but we had to come home early because we could not stay with friends in the area for the weekend due to the NE of England being in local lockdown. So on Sunday we walked into Snowdonia, away from the tourist crowds and had a picnic Sunday lunch by this beautiful lake where I wrote this poem.
Black mirror broken only by occasional jumping fish trying to catch the last midges of summer.
Blobs of white undefined sheep gather together then drift apart enjoying the last grass of summer.
Man watches, thinking, pondering, closes eyes & dreams drifting on the last warm rays of summer
I wish I could find an article that said how the local people reacted when the stream was dammed up in the first place 90 years ago. I wonder if it was with similar outrage? And it got me thinking as to how vehement we can be about change and how it upsets us and yet how quickly we get used to the “new normal”, coin a recent phrase. I wonder if in ten or twenty years we will have got used to local lockdowns and will bemoan them if/when they cease?
Interesting times we are living in when many in the neighbourhood go out on their doorsteps at the same time every week to clap people who are not there. I’m not knocking those who do it but for me it is strange. I think the NHS are doing an amazing job and I worry about people I know who are having to be in there dealing with it all; friends, family and acquaintances. A sister-in-law, an NHS worker, has caught Covid-19, though thankfully only mildly and as yet none of her family are exhibiting signs. A friend’s cousin, also an NHS worker, had it mildly but then her husband caught it and is in intensive care. So yes I think they are doing a great job and should be respected and applauded. So I send them messages, tell them I am thinking about them, etc. But I do not go out and do the clapping. But that is because I don’t get it. But then I also do get many of these grand public outpourings.
But what got to me most of all was a local historic castle has very publicly put blue lights on its façade when the clapping was going on, made sure it was on all their social media that they had done things, emailed all their supporters. The emails had a donations button at the end but this was for the monument’s fund raising not the NHS raising. But also this place has made sure all its parklands are locked so no one can walk through them. Thankfully there are lots of other places to walk but I just wondered if a good public gesture would have been to open its parklands to give people more space to walk. Some who might even be those NHS workers who they are illuminating their building to support.
But this got me thinking about how we, and I include myself in this, make big open public gestures but don’t do the little things that will help. So how many people clapping, or even giving to the amazing people like Captain Tom to raise money to support the NHS, will be willing to have their taxes increased to support not just an improvement in the NHS but also to support all those who are on furlough, to improve our schools, our bin services, etc, etc etc. How many people who are in management in these sectors find it easier to clap than to take a pay cut so those below them could have a pay rise? How many are finding time to support local business? Not just now when we’re thinking about it but after this is over?
So I do applaud those who go outside to applaud the NHS, but I also applaud those who are key workers in other areas, but also those who are sticking to the rules and staying at home. But I do wonder what things will change when this is all over or will we just want it all to go back to normal without having to pay for it, make changes, or even look at what is wrong in this world to have brought things to this point. And by this point I don’t just mean this pandemic but a struggling NHS, an overly polluted planet, etc, etc etc.
Bottom line – things change but you have to trust the voice that is leading you!
Maybe that’s all I will write. Do you need any explanation? Do you need to know where I was when I realised that? Do you need to know what thougths were going through my head at the time? Probably not.
I did realise too that I have more trust at times in the satnav on googlemaps on my phone or on the BBC weather app than I have with God. I suppose some of it is that they are clearer. The satnav much more open in her directiveness. If only at times God would say “turn left here” then shout at me if I miss the turning. If only, when there’s an accident on the road I hoped to go on would tell me the best way to avoid it. Or maybe this is my fault?
I only hear the satnav when I have the media volume turned up high. I also have found I need to radio off so I only hear her speaking. When she sends me a direction I was not expecting because I thought I knew the road I trust her and take that turn.
So maybe with God I need to cut out distractions, turn the volume up a bit more and
when sent somewhere different trust that he knows best?
I realised yesterday that I am grieving the loss of a friend. Not one who had died but one that was moving away. Since I moved to this town this person has been key in who I am and what I do here in my church life. She has spurred me on, stood by me when I’ve stepped out, filled in the gaps when they’ve needed filling. She isn’t the only but she has been one of the strong pillars that have given me the encouragement I have needed to step out. She is now doing, what I have done many times before, and is moving to another town.
I must be totally honest and say I am grieving. It isn’t the same as when someone has died, but it is a profound sadness. Things will not be the same. And if I am honest, I am not sure if I am brave enough to step out and do things without her. There is a team and it hasn’t just been me and her. Each of us has our role and our part but the part she filled will not be filled by anyone else. At least not in the team that is there. Things will shift. Things will change.
When I gave up a voluntary position recently I was sad and grouchy, similar to this. A wise friend told me to remember that, even though I chose to give up the role, I was grieving its loss. So even though I know that this friend is doing the right thing by moving I will still mourn her not being here any more.
One of my new year resolutions was to be kind to myself. I need to keep revisiting this. In fact I need to keep revisiting a lot of my resolutions – like the no meat, no dairy, no alcohol. All of which I have “failed” but I will keep going back to giving them another go but maybe not with that whole vigor of “a whole month of …” With each of the giving ups I have to keep revisiting and trying for just today. The same goes with the whole thing of being kind to myself. I need to remember that I am grieving and that I did struggle with the party for my friend last night because I didn’t want to be there.
So I will be kind and admit I’m grieving for the loss and change. Don’t tell me she is only an email away. It still means she won’t be at the next prayer day/in the next discussion for the next play/etc. The friendship will have change. And I will have to go through my stages of grief. And if at times it means I’m grumpy and out of sorts then I must be kind to me and let it be
For a week of mornings whilst out walking the dog as I walk past the park there have been a group of daffodils who’s faces are turned toward the sun, expectant of the day to come. I kept meaning to bring my camera and take a photo because they said so much to me about looking to the source of light and being expectant and ready for the day. Of course I forgot and now they are gone. It looks like someone has picked them. We have loads of daffodils in and around our park and often people pick them to take home. I hope these expectant daffodils have gone to a good home.
But it got me thinking – how often are we expectant for something, looking to the source and then get snatched away from it? At my church this Sunday we’re doing a little play based around Matthew 23:37 where Jesus wants to gather Jerusalem to him like a mother hen gathers her chicks. A mother hen will spread her wings wide when she sees danger and gather all her chicks under her wings to protect them from attacks by birds of prey. She is willing to give her own life for her chicks. I think so often we think of God as someone we go ask things from and “look to expectantly” but don’t let him cover us from attack/being picked/disappointment. This verse, and many others in the Bible, do say about God being there to protect and support during times of hardship and distress. I’m not sure there are any, or maybe a few, that say He’ll make the bad times go away yet too often the Christian message is “God will make things wonderful and life will be great” and then wonder why people fall away when life doesn’t work that way, when prayers don’t get answered, people don’t get healed, we get “picked” after diligently “looking at the source”.
I’ve just seen a post from a friend of mine who talks about life’s realities sometimes not living up to one’s expectations. With the things I do – the room rentals and the writing workshops – so often things don’t turn out as expected; I don’t get as many coming to the workshops as said they were, or those who come take things off in a totally different direction, or with the rooms people say they are coming for a certain time and then change their minds. We have just had it with the rooms that a couple and a single person both said they were going to be staying for a while. The single then decided that what she was doing here wasn’t for her and left and then the couple found a flat to rent quicker than I’d expected. For both sets of people this is great news, and I am really happy for them, but what it also means is that things have to lived up to the expectations that I had. Things are changing. It felt a bit like I was looking to a certain way of life and then got “picked” and its all change again.
So we need to be willing to accept the changes, go with the flow and also be kind to ourselves and accept that this can be exhausting, and like the daffodils can bring about major changes in our circumstances. And be willing to just hide under the shadow of His wing.
Surely if you are going to name something then the name should fit. Why call a storm Doris? Is there anything that conjures up wild, fierce wind, storms, snow, plans being changed or cancelled in the name Doris?
My grandmother was called Doris. From what I remember she was feisty and I like to hope I get a bit of my stubborn nature from her, but storm force. No I don’t think so. Might have to ask my Mum to comment there because I was only 5 or 6 when my grandmother had a major stroke which back in the 1960’s was totally debilitating. She never really communicated after that. She did live with us for another 3 years in a bungalow in Dorset. My mum must have still thought she had some fight left in her because she would go to work and leave her with my sister and myself who were both not yet 10 years old then. But she definitely wasn’t storm force because from my recollection I used that time when my mum was at work and Nan was in charge to be horrid to my sister and make her do loads of awful things that a small child should not have done. And also swore her to secrecy about it. Don’t worry I did write her a very long letter of apology.
Most of these storms that batter our coast that they have started naming have got silly names. Names that don’t suit a storm. I think that is because it is scientists, meteorologists, who names them. I’m sure they have a very sensible way of doing it. I am convinced they work through a book of names picking at random. I wonder what would happen if you had a group of creative writers naming the storms.
I name this storm Desdemona. I think that conjures up someone that would wreck havoc around the country, that would love to make people scared, make them want to run for cover, to cancel things that aren’t major emergencies. She even sounds like she should come with an orange warning. Desdemona from Shakespeare enraged and disappointed her father and ran off with Othello, a man much older than herself. Yup that sounds like the storm that’s wiping around here, that made my dog only want to go out to do the essentials and pull to come home, that made my writing workshop group all want to stay home. Desdemona has sent waves of rain water under my front door and soaked the free paper that was there. Thankfully it is only in the porch and only the free paper that got ruined. Also I think a storm called Desdemona would wait till we had cancelled the group, till she had wrecked her havoc and then stopped raining and made wonder why we’d stopped everything. Though I must add that Shakespeare’s Desdemona does eventually get strangled by her estranged husband because his sidekick makes him think she’s an adulteress.
From what I remember of Doris, my grandmother, she was someone who made things happen for me. I remember her catching me in the bathroom early one morning attempting to wash my own hair because my mum would always get shampoo in my eyes and I didn’t like that. I remember her being patient and helping me to do this myself. I don’t remember my mum ever washing my hair after that so my grandmother must have shown me well enough for my mum to be pleased with what I did. This isn’t this vindictive storm that has messed my day up today.
Come on whoever names these storms. More appropriate names please!