Half term roundup…

 

And so, as the sun sets on our two week half term ‘holiday’, and I look to a week of getting stuck back into work next week, the inevitable roundup occurs.

Here we go. It’s been…

Two weeks of hanging out with people.

We hung out with some good ones. Starting out with old friends who’ve known us from those dim and distant lands when we were housemates rather than married with kids. We then stayed with the grandparents and abandoned the kids for a night. On our return we saw Brighton people in parks, for cups of tea and small children chaos. We welcomed some good friends into our road and delighted in introducing them to the Giants Castle in the woods up the road (you’ve really got to experience it for yourself, come stay some time..). We hung out with lovely family to celebrate son1’s birthday and then saw lots of our excellent God family for walks and crazy golf this week. More parks, a long afternoon with the Greatest Showman with son1’s excellent friend from school and his little sister- son2’s future wife (apparently…) and we are at the end of the week. The less said about the long Monday this week where I cried at the boys all day because we ‘had no friends’ the better. Clearly we have friends. Clearly my head gets it wrong sometimes…

Two weeks of sunny autumn days.

OK, not all days were sunny everyday but it has been amazing weather, I’m kind of ok with the clocks going back thing knowing that we’ve had lots of time outside getting some vitamin D on our skin and endorphins in our bodies. I’ve had much joy staring at the pretty autumn leaves and sunsets across The Downs. I’ve also loved getting out running again after a cold. Have I mentioned my addiction to endorphins?

Two weeks of reading books.

The boys love books and we’ve read oodles and oodles over this half term. I’ve enjoyed their new birthday ones, ‘Stuck in the Stone Age’ by The Story Pirates team is a great read (I would happily read it to the end to son1 but son2 won’t let me, so chapter by chapter it is), if you haven’t heard the Story Pirates Podcast then you should. It’s hilarious fun with real stories from small kids brought to life in crazy adventures and song by the Story Pirates. Seriously good. Husbandface is loving reading ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ with son1 and I’m desperate to wrench it off them so I can read it too. Son2 loves any of our growing picture book collection and the 14 books we got home from the library this week. I loved reading him the latest ‘Oi’ book, ‘Oi Platypus’ is a pretty funny addition.

Two weeks of gigs.

I turned 40 this year and part of my celebrations involved booking in three comedy gigs that happened to be around this time. We saw Dara O’Briain, I saw Sarah Millican with a friend and then last night we went to a live recording of the ‘No Such Thing as a Fish’ podcast. I had such a different experience at all of these gigs.  Suffice to say Sarah and the No Such Thing people won the day and I felt most me and comfortable in my skin with the audience at No Such Thing. There is a blog post somewhere in how I coped with being out in the evening in each of those settings. I was mightily relived last night to find people who looked as geeky as me and dressed in a similar way, I was beginning to think I was some kind of social freak (that may be true but at least there are others out there). The comfort of being around people who look a bit more like you is an interesting thing to ponder, as is the sense of disconnection I had when surrounded by people who didn’t look like me at all (I’m just not a make up and glittery kind of lady and for a week I felt uncomfortable about that all over again until I was reminded last night that loads of other ladies aren’t either… phew.). Anyway, I have issues, who doesn’t? On with the roundup.

Two weeks of trying to find balance in the force.

I’ve been a bit more aware recently of what affect my monthly cycle has on me. A friend (the lovely Adele over at Beautiful Tribe) recorded her state of being over the course of her’s this last month. It woke me up to the way women’s menstrual cycles affects all of our month, not just the week before our bodies say, hey no baby this month, lets dump out all that unnecessary blood and stuff we created just in case.

I could see clearly my high energy weeks in the last month and then I’ve been battling through lower energy, more irrational thoughts, irritable tearful times in these last couple of weeks. Adele helpfully said some wise words when I had a rant today about the way I seem to have imbibed the idea that because my hormones are involved then my feelings have no value (I think due to years of feeling like I have to hide talking about these things because no-one talks about this massive thing which happens to most women’s bodies each month. Why is no-one talking about it?)

Anyway. She said:

“The premenstrual and menstruating days of our cycles could be thought of as time when we can’t hide as well as can as other times of the month. There are real things being exposed and it’s an incredibly powerful time, a time when women should be able to go away and go into themselves and find answers. As it is, we usually have to keep going in a noisy world.”

I wonder why don’t we acknowledge what is going on with our bodies? Why do we feel the need to push through and pretend everything is normal? Why don’t we go with the ebbs and flows of our energy and listen to what our bodies are telling us? My menstrual cycle affects the way I think about life and the experience of life I have. I want to listen rather than think that for 2 weeks of each month I’m a bit mad and irrational. (Clearly another blog post is coming…)

There you go. The last two weeks from these parts. As I look around I realise we’ve hit November, fireworks, mist, dark nights and more await us before the wonder found in Advent. Into the night we go. See you out there.

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Happy Birthday Son1

You asked me recently. ‘What are your favourite things about me Mummy?’

Well here goes Mr 6 year old.

Your eyes. The way they light up when you explain things to me, and your hand and body involvement in the joy of working out your latest idea.

Your eyes. When you roll them with me at your younger brother, I know we should probably stop doing that soon but it helps when he’s melting down about something small and very hard to understand.

The constant teddy bear huggles you give me all day long. One day maybe you won’t want to but for now I love your love of snuggles.

Your gorgeous wonderful head that over thinks and over worries about life. Talking you through your fears is helping me soothe my own fearful inner child. I love that I know why you get spikey and weird before new things or big events (doesn’t mean I always love you well in those times, but I do get it my love)

Your love and concern for your brother, friends and me and Daddy. Lots of the time you seem to be on another planet but then you blow me away with your care.

Your patience with small people.

Your delight in facts and ideas.

Your amazing body which somehow has made it from small baby to 6 years old. I’m constantly surprised by how big you are.

Your love of music and ability to memorise song lyrics. I love your eclectic taste and your joy in dancing around like a loon with me and your brother.

Your love of books and other worlds. Your inventions and concepts that you spill out to us.

Your philosophical questions and awareness of the world around you. The other day you asked me what life was all about. It’s a hard one my son but I reckon it’s about exploring this beautiful world our God has made, knowing how loved we are and loving the people around us. You decided it was about singing and music which I think is pretty cool too.

Your absorption of ideas and concepts. Last week out of the blue, you told me the values for our family. They are, according to what you’ve known in these last 6 years, to trust God, help each other and learn things. I think that’s a pretty good summery of life in Team Cunningham.

Lovely boy. You blew our world apart when you were born and I am amazed everyday that we managed to make you. We’ve come along way together and I’m looking forward to many more years of you turning our world upside down. I adore being your Mummy and seeing you figure out life down here. Enjoy your birthday and don’t send us too crazy with your over-anticipation and eventual crash when you realise the new shiny things didn’t live up to their promise. I’m still learning that too lovely one.

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Thursday.

Probably should have made blogging month, blogging week. Ah well. You live and learn.

More writing to resume when the boys are back at school.

Off to enjoy the small ones whilst they delight in jumping all over me and think I’m amazing. It’s a small window but I like that we are in it right now.

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Tuesday

IMG_1933I’m sensing Half Term might be the killer of my creativity, time and space are short, but we shall see, I shall be optimistic, I shall. We got home from a lovely time away at lunchtime today. Since then we’ve been roundly punished by son2 for daring to go away. He’s held it all in for 24 hours of charmingly wonderful behaviour and this afternoon came the safe collapse to let it all out. Sigh. I think it was still worth the 24 hours away from them but we feel a little bit battered as we drink our tea and put them to bed tonight.

And so, instead of any profound thoughts from me, here’s one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite men who died this week. Eugene Peterson has been an inspiration of mine ever since I started out in this Christian Ministry thing about 19 years ago. His books on being in pastoral work are astounding. He felt like a lone voice in the wilderness calling people away from results orientated ministry to a long obedience of loving and walking with people on the way home (this blog’s name was definitely inspired by his work).  I am sad his voice has left the earth but deeply glad that one day I very much hope to chat to him (however that whole new creation thing works). He wrote beautifully and I’ll leave you with a quote that started this blog off many years ago.  A quote that always brings me back to the unseen world all around us and the beautiful details which draw me to be aware of it. Thank you Eugene.

“We wake up each morning in a world we did not make. How did it get here? How did we get here? We open our eyes and see the sun careen over the horizon. We wiggle our toes. A mocking bird takes off and improvises on themes set down by robins, vireos and wrens, and we marvel at the intricacies. The smell of frying bacon works its way into our nostrils and we begin anticipating buttered toast, scrambled eggs, and coffee brewed from our favorite Javanese beans.

There is so much here- around, above, below, inside, outside. Even with the help of poets and scientists we can account for very little of it.

After a while we get used to it and quit noticing. Somewhere along the way this wide eyed looking around, this sheer untaught delight in what is here, reverses itself: the would contracts; we are reduced to a life of routine, through which we sleepwalk.

But not for long. Something always shows up to jar us awake, a child’s question, a fox’s sleek beauty, a sharp pain, a pastors sermon, a fresh metaphor, an artists vision, a slap in the face, scent from a crushed violet. We are again awake, alert, in wonder: how did this happen? And why this? Why anything at all? Why not nothing at all?

Gratitude is our spontaneous response to all this: to life. Something wells up within us: Thank you!”

 

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Monday

Kisses blown at us out of the back window.

Bookshops.

Coffee.

Books.

Naptime

Sunset walk.

Pub. Burgers. Cocktails. Wine.

Chats. Pub quiz to come.

First time away from the small faces together.

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The morning here starts with mist.

The morning here starts with mist
Covering the lake
Trees, hills, cows, shadows in the sky.

We stumble downstairs
Drink coffee out of beautiful mugs
Do puzzles, read books and wait for the dawn light.

We are joined by our friendswhoarefamily
Children bumbling around our feet.

Easy silence, easy conversation
Breakfast cooks, more coffee drunk
Outside the world waits

The morning here starts with mist
Encircling with closeness
Wrapping around us.

No view. No horizon
Yesterday we saw the lake,
Bright sunshine burned the intimate gloom away.

And so we wait.
Safely held in this immediate
Enjoying this present

The morning here starts with mist.

And you.

Like the encircling swirling white

Here

Holding

One day

Revealing.

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The one with the weekly roundup

It’s the weekly roundup, it’s the weekly round up, da da, da, da, it’s the weekly roundup.

If only you could hear the bright sunny tune in my head.

Where was I?

Ah yes. I haven’t done one of these for a few weeks. So. Without further ado. The week as it was in the land of Team Cunningham:

Mostly I think it’s been good. I’ve still been full of energy post retreat last week and generally full of sunshine and happy thoughts. I realised I’ve been quite despairing recently when I hung out with some friends on Tuesday night and they actually gasped in amazement that I was doing well this week. It’s a welcome relief to feel normal again, like I can take another step forward and to be able to enjoy the forest we are living in at the moment (no view on the horizon but a very interesting, pretty, complex, sometimes full of joy, sometimes dark and scary view in our immediate gaze).

Saturday saw me head off to London for the epic loveliness that is Anna and Sarah day (been praying together for 19 years, ain’t gonna stop anytime soon). We chatted, ate incredible cake and prayed. It was, as always, refreshing, good for the soul and really lovely to know the deep deep love of friends who are a safe place for each other. I left happy and very grateful.

We had the first of our series on ‘Things that are Killing us’ at church on Sunday, cheery eh? This week we explored Anxiety, the weeks to come we’ll be looking at the News, Consumerism, Busyness, Self Image and Pornography. A fairly wide spectrum of things that affect us all in different ways. The aim is to find something of the presence of God in the midst of our struggles, to find a more Jesus way of living and to know the peace of God as we try and walk God’s ways in the 21st Century.  It feels like a significant series and I’m hoping it will lead to deeper conversations, more awareness of God with us and transformation in our lives.

I had a fairly quiet week after Sunday, meetings were cancelled and I found myself walking outside more, having thoughts again and getting on with writing some of them down, which always helps me process what’s going on internally. I’m now in the somewhat ironic situation of loving being away from social media more and the free space in my head to get creative but then feeling the pull back to social media to share my blogposts and get others in on the conversation. Ah well. I want to use social media well but I’m really loving not staring at my phone all the time. I’m still seeking a healthy route through all of that and I think that’s ok. I’m a work in progress.

The boys had their final week of this half term. They’ve both done really well and are tired but not completely exhausted at this point. I think our duvet day last Friday helped us all reconnect, post my retreat, and aid recovery from colds. I sadly still have the last part of the ‘marriage wrecking cough’ (pity the poor husbandface as I hack away all night) but I think today it’s slowly heading out of the door.

Husbandface now officially only works 4 days a week. He now has Thursdays off to recover from the first half of the week and counselling first thing in the morning. It’s guilt free time off to sleep, rest and generally be a helpful safety valve. He then picks the boys up and cooks dinner, meaning I can work later or just enjoy time with the boys without having to think about food. It feels very freeing to have margins in life again and I’m glad of a new, more helpful rhythm to our weeks.

I’m loving writing more, loving the autumn sunshine, golden leaves and general October vibes all around. We are in Bristol this weekend with excellent friends and then have a night away from the boys on Monday night. It will be the first time we’ve been away from them together. They are very excited about being with their beloved Nana and Grandad (who may be slightly less excited but at least it’s only for 24 hours…) and we are so much looking forward to an afternoon to ourselves, a bed to ourselves and no-one shouting in our faces at 6 in the morning.

Now there’s a positive blog post for you.

And so, enjoy the sunshine, breathe deep and gaze into the blue skies (or snuggle up under a blanket with a cup of tea and listen to the sound of the rain soothing your soul).

I’m off to do likewise.

 

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