balance.

It’s crazy that the girls have less than two weeks left until they’re back at school.  If anyone asked I’d say I’d just got back from Soul Survivor, but in fact we’ve been back for over three weeks.  The summer holidays have FLOWN over.

Ruby had her fifth birthday last week and we took her and her sister to Manchester to pick out a new outfit for their Build-a-bear teddies (the cashier stood Roo on the counter, stopped everyone in the store to sing happy birthday to her.  Personally I would have died of horror but she took it in her stride as though she were the queen) and to climb another 12m climbing wall.  Both girls climbed for the first time in July at a camp with ‘the big kids’ and were desperate to do it again.

 

FYI, it is really tough finding places that will let Ruby climb.  So I was over the moon when I saw that Chill Factore let them climb from age five.

IMG_3746

They both had a mental block 2/3 of the way up but pushed on through to the top.  Stubborn, like their mother.

Now that the weather is being as indecisive as I am, I’m ready for autumn.  I’m ready to wrestle myself into skinny Jeans.  I’m ready to wear boots again.  I’m ready for knowing it will be cooler.  I’m not ready for the countdown to Christmas which I caught on twitter yesterday – no.  Not in August.  Cooler autumnal days yes, Christmas, no.

There are loads of exciting things coming up over the next sixth months with work/church that I’m chomping at the bit to get going on, but I know there’s the risk of imbalance.  Of getting home, particularly when the dark evenings draw in, and crashing until bed time (unless it’s already bed time when I get home).  There’s a risk of being all work and no ‘home’.  I can’t say all work and no play because most of my ‘job’ feels like play because I love doing what I do.  But I do need to ‘do’ home too.  Family, friends, laughter, downtime, adventure.

I’ve written before about being intentional with our time.  Making it count.  That’s what got me started on my challenge -30.  And so in this next season I’m conscious again of the need to be intentional at home, to dream and then pursue those dreams no matter how trivial or outlandish they may be (I think it’s good to have both types of dreams).  And it’s ok if those dreams are meaningless or maybe even nonsensical to others.  I’m pretty sure no one else would get why I’m super excited to start a compost bin.  And I’m ok with that.  It’s my (albeit little) dream, I own it, so I can own the excitement too.  🙂

Sidenote: Regardless of how unimpressed or indifferent you are to my compost-bin-to-be, that won’t stop me from blogging all about it in all it’s worm infested glory.

It’s funny how, when you have babies, you fantasize about all the time you will have to yourself when they get older.  But you forget the minute detail that at least babies sleep for intervals through day.  Older Children don’t.  I used to get a blog post rolled out during a half hour nap AND have time left over to go to the loo.  I had it down.  And then these sleeping beauties….stopped sleeping.  During the day that is.  I have to be fair, they’re awesome at sleeping at night.  But during the day, they’re awake, like all the time.  While I love my girls so very very dearly and genuinely enjoy their company, over the summer I juggle my job and these two non-day-sleeping beauties.  So there have been a great many times that they have had my undivided attention, but a also a load of times that I have really needed to sit and concentrate.  I keep expecting them to just decide to take themselves off a read a good book, or do a cross word, maybe ask their sister for a quiet games of chess or something.  But no, most of the time it will be gymnastics.  On my lap.  So today is a typical day with non-napping kids, and it’s taken four sittings to write these ramblings.

I’m sure when they’re teenagers life will be a doddle…Ha.

so did I mention I’m starting a compost bin?

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Hi, I’m back.

I’ve tried to do this a bunch of times over the last five months.  Jump back into the saddle.  Get writing again.  But that saddle just seemed too high.  Too much.  I’m aware that those readers who joined me along the way have long since given up stopping by my blog.  So I’m more doing this for me.  Because I love to write.  And because if I used a journal or notepad, sooner or later I’d end up losing it along with the thoughts I’m trying to preserve for the future me to look back on.

For more than four years I have put a piece of me into every blog post I write.  My dashboard tells me I did that 320 times.  But it’s not a matter of keeping it going for the sake of what I’ve already written; it’s a matter of preserving space for what I’m yet to write.  Not to be some big shot writer (I’m a realist to a fault) but just because it’s what I love.  It’s what’s good for me.

To say it’s been a hard year feels so understated.  There will be a time, and I feel strongly about this, that will feel right to talk about it.  To be real and raw and honest, to give hope.  But ultimately to give honour and glory to God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.  I used to just believe that, but now I know it to be true, without a flicker of doubt.  Because I’ve seen it and lived it.  And whatever your experience, when you live it you tell it, you can’t not.  But that time isn’t now, not yet.  My now is full of embracing life as it is, scratching my head over tomato plants that don’t grow tomatoes and getting comfy back in this saddle 🙂

 

mountains.

It feels like I’ve not blogged for a cetury.  My iphone keeps me so connected with people that I can drop snippets of thoughts all the time rather than sit and be proactively thoughtful.  Lazy lazy.

I tweeted earlier this week that I’m now prescription meds free in over 16 months.  Yep, paracetamol is my drug of choice now.  And my hot water water bottle.  I love waking up in the morning feeling tired in the regular way instead of through the fuzz of amitriptyline.  It’s like I’ve come out of hibernation.

I’m confident to start building my walking up now.  One of the challenges I gave myself was to climb a mountain before I turned 30 this summer.  I guess I’ve climbed a whole other kind of mountain but it would be awesome if I could do a real one.  I expect it’ll be later than I thought – I may have to transfer it to what I want to do before I’m 40, ha! But I need to get stronger anyhow, so it makes sense to have an incentive.  I just need to find the lowest mountain in the uk…!

 

 

It actually sends real emails!

So The Husband and are creeping back into work mode and the anticipation of Christmas seems so long ago.  The Husband got double brownie points on New Years Day because he let me sleep late AND he took down all the decorations all by himself so I woke up to a reasonably normal looking house again.  I’d have been sad to do it any earlier but once its January it’s time to look to whats in store for the year ahead.

For me, January will hopefully be a month of:

  • Finally finishing the kitchen.  All thats left to do is painting the cupboard units and putting up a long shelf for my beloved Kilner Jars.  These are the kind of jobs that can easily be left undone for months.  So there was only one thing for it – Shift everything from some of the units so they HAD to be done – and soon.  The Husband LOVES it when he comes home to already-started-and-can’t-be-ignored house projects.  I think its why he loves me so much…

empty cupboards

  • Stengthening my ridiculously pathetic body.  My back is been so great over Christmas and I’ll hopefully be getting more active.  Hurray!  Ironically I never enjoyed the gym until just before I hurt my back, and I really was loving it – it’ll be a while before I get back there but any kind of active gets the feel-good hormones flowing!

 

  • Eating healthy.  December was a serious chocolate splurge for the whole family.  The girls had chocolate for breakfast more than once.  I know, I know, shoot me now.  It’s seriously a habitual thing – I woke up this morning, had a great breakfast to start off the day and before lunch I was reaching up for the hobnobs without even thinking.  I realised it was not a good idea but by that point the packet of lovely chocolatey oaty goodness was in my hands and there was no going back.  I’m never going to be someone who can completely walk away from chocolate – I don’t like the look of a world without sugar.  But it’s about conscious choices and there needs to be more healthy choices in this house.  And even if my girls choose chocolate, mummy’s choices trump theirs, so ha!

 

  • Trying not to become obsessed with my new phone.  While the rest of the world were keeping up with modern technology over the past two years, The Husband and I were oblivious to the countless possibilities that a phone can bring.  We thought text messages were cutting edge.  So now we’re a little attached to these little devices that actually let us send emails – I mean whats that all about?! Its like a mini computer in the palm of your hands! Blimey.  I’m using Intsgram for my photo 365 and I LOVE the fact that I can do it all from my phone.  So I’m a little aware that I’m probably showing my mobile more care and attention than I am The husband, and as much as my phone can do…we’re yet to find a one that will do the vacuuming for you.  Joke! Kinda.

 

 

 

Be you.

Last night I was telling a bunch of teenager to just be themselves.  They have so many expectations thrown at them, most of which would fundamentally change who they are.

Their hairs are numbered.  They’re made the way they are on purpose.  And the best way they can live life to the fullest is just to be who they are and not try to be someone else.  It frustrates me so much because it sounds so cliched.  Just be yourself.  What is it that makes it so hard to sink in?  It’s something  I still struggle with as I approach 30!

Sometimes youthworkers are compared to disneyland staff.  You just expect to see enthusiasm and energy, right?  I remember, back when I was training to be a youth worker, one of my line managers at county council told me that I need to find my niche to ‘connect’ with young people.  We worked together doing some detached work and he’d just swagger over to a group of young people and…trump! He’d get a laugh or a girly fake-disgust and he’d suddenly he became the jokey/confident youth worker.  I held my wind in and got a stomach ache.

Studying youth and community studies was no mean feat for me.  Walking into a lecture/seminar felt like walking into the lions den each day.  The course was full of ‘out-there’ people and, well, it was never dull.  I would have hid under the table if I thought I would have gotten away with it.

At the end of the three years, everyone was awarded a certificate.  Mine was “the shyest youth worker”.  Cringe.

The things is I’m not actually that shy.  I was just putting myself up against these massive personalities and expectations of a youth worker and decided that I didn’t match up to it, so took a step back.  It shook my confidence, visualising this ultimate youth worker that I’m supposed to be…

I wonder if there are a bunch of people that would be so influential in young people’s lives but think they just aren’t…enough.  Not young enough.  not cool enough.  Not loud and flamboyant enough.  And that’s really sad – the young people miss out on some incredible relationships and they miss out themselves.  I have learned so much from the teenagers I’ve worked with – they push me, challenge me and encourage me more than any one adult has done.

I’m rubbish at pretending – it can get very awkward and has got me into trouble but you can read me like a book.  For a while I battled against it, but then I figured I would just be creating a mask – a more polished version of myself.  How can we, as adults, do that and then expect young people to just be themselves, warts and all??

So I’m not the ultimate youthworker.  I’m not happy and bouncy all the time.  I get grumpy when I’m hungry.  I get PMT’d out.  But I love Jesus with all that I am and I love young people like they’re my own kids (or, ahem, maybe little brother or sister…!).  I don’t feel enough – but I know that His grace is enough.  And when God calls us to something, he’s already figured out that we’re the person to do it – we don’t need to sweat it or question it.  And whatever it is, whether its supporting something already existing or stepping out into new territory, as a very wise Charlotte gambill preached at Cherish Conference this year – we just need to put our hand up and say “I’m in”.

 

 

 

spectacles.

I’ve been neglecting Tutus and Trainers recently.  All for another writing project; I feel like I’ve been cheating.  Honestly, it meant nothing to me.  It was just words.

So. I’m wearing glasses.  I don’t remember if I wrote about the whole glasses/immature/ridiculous palava.  In short; since being told I can’t wear contact lenses I’ve sulked.  I’ve walked into optician stores, tried on glasses, scowled at myself in the mirror and stomped out.  I kid you not.  I even drove down into Blackpool with the thinking that if I intentionally went into town for glasses, I’d get some.  I didn’t.  I just stomped in and stomped back out again.

So The Husband agreed to come with me.  And not let me leave until I chose some.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I think glasses are great; on other people.  When I was a kid I used to secretly hope that I failed the eye test so I could wear them.  But then a couple of years ago I had to start wearing them – and they annoyed my nose.  Seriously, muchos annoyment.  I think the top of my nose must be flat or slide-shaped because they just slide right off.  Last year I tried contact lenses, it felt like I had grit in my eyes, they put some dye drops or something in and told me my tears dry up too quickly to keep the lenses moist.  I tried again a little while ago and it didn’t work out again.  Then I lost my glasses.  I started to get headaches right above my nose, between my eyebrows – which is a joke in itself because with the medication I’m on you should be able to punch me in the head (please don’t) and  not feel a thing.  Which brings us full circle back to standing in the opticians with The Husband.

Did you know that Specsavers do 2 for 1?!?!?! This is not a sponsored post.  But like, really, buy one – get another free!! That’s mental.  So I was Oh ok, I’ll take a second pair.  That lifted the sulks a little.  I proceeded to try on every pair of womens’ glasses in the store, like I’ve done other times over the last month.  And yeah – that includes those glorious huge hexagonal glasses with clear plastic rims.  We eventually settled on a couple and The Husband pressed me to finally make a decision – in the end he decided for me.  I don’t blame the man; there is only so long you can spend in there and not go stir crazy.  I chose a pair of sunglasses to keep in the car as well – did I tell you they were free??

Jump ahead 24 hours and I collected my new spectacles.  I’m still getting used to them, but ‘m still pushing them back on my nose every other minute.  Perhaps they could make me prescription a swim-goggle-type contraption that wrap around my head to stop them falling off.

 

 

aware.

Ok so I know this is the third (or fourth??) post in a row about food.  Can you tell it’s on my mind?  A friend made a good point when she noted how we feel when we’re told we can’t have something… It feels like it’s constantly on your mind.  what is it about the forbidden?

source

What has really struck me though is not how much I’m thinking about food I’m trying to avoid (though I am thinking about it quite a lot) but how little I thought about the chocolate/cake/biscuits/crisps I was consuming when nothing was off limits.  It like it didn’t even register.  And when something doesn’t register, you can’t keep track and so it’s crazy easy to work your way through a giant bar of Dairy milk or a giant size bag of Walkers Sensations.  It’s just too easy to do it.

If nothing else this whole thing has made me so aware of what I am eating.  And how much I am eating.  I have this thing about being intentional.  I want to be intentional with my time. I want to be intentional with my money.  I want to be intentional with my relationships.  Because being intentional necessitates prior-thinking and care.  There’s no blagging it.  There’s no coasting. There’s no taking it for granted. So if I’m intentional with food then I’m thinking about it.  I’m caring about it. Not over thinking – there can be too much of a good thing – but just keeping everything on the radar.

Last night I broke off three triangles of toblerone and took them to bed with me (lets just say that there are some time’s when women need chocolate…).  Because I’ve stood back from all things that make me put weight on, this was a huge treat for me.  I was seriously apreciating it.  And in complete honesty I satisfied my longing for something sweet half way through the second triangle (you should have seen how slowly I was eating it).  Old habits die hard though and I continued nibbling away, finishing off that piece.  And I really regretted it! Honestly! Not because I thought I was going to hell for gluttony, but because I felt a little yuk.  That third triangle sat, in it’s foil, until I took it downstairs this morning.  A few weeks ago I would have eaten a good half of a big bar of toblerone without thought.

 

But I’m refusing to believe that that will be the only thing I take from this season of eating/thinking about food (can you tell I hate the word diet?!). There’s no specific deadline for my weight loss – there’s no event that I need to squeeze into a certain little black dress.  I don’t mind too much if it comes off slowly.  It just needs to come off.  By the grace of God no-one has congratulated me on my ‘baby bump’ – but I know that if I don’t flatten my midrif it’s going to happen sooner rather than later!

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I’m almost certain (you never know) that I won’t ever become a health-food fanatic. I’m not crazy about seeds and…..what else to healf-food fanatics eat? mushy green ‘smoothies’?  Plus, I just like chocolate and cake too much.  Meals wise I don’t mind sticking to the Slimming world plan completeley for the rest of my life.  For me, it’s everything in between.  I’ll never be able to give up sugar.  I kinda don’t want to, if I can make it a treat that I can really appreciate.  I mean could you imagine a world without Cupcakes or Marsbar cake?