30 Days of Wild: Day 2

I think for this month we’ll just be taking photos of our normal lives with a few extra treats of wild thrown in. Today on our potter to the park we spotted lots of wild flowers and ants crawling up trees. The sun making a welcome return to our lives helps make everything look beautiful.

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30 Days of Wild: Day 1

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Today was the first day of our 30 days of wild challenge set by The Wildlife Trusts. The idea is to do one wild thing each day. I’m not entirely sure what counts as ‘wild’ but the aim is to get people outdoors in whatever capacity and appreciate the natural world around us. I am all for this. I loved doing it last year with the boys and am looking forward to doing it this year for my sake as well as theirs. The wild of each day doesn’t have to include them.

I’m also going to confess straightaway to my jealousy of anyone who lives near mountains and posts them for their wild of the day.  I am putting down the need for great wild adventures and we are deliberately looking in front of our eyes in our day to day life for the wild in our neighbourhood. We may manage a couple of adventures further afield this month, but, in our season of slow and small, we shall be looking for the wild right underneath our noses.

Today me and son1 had the best plan. We would start our wild month going on a nature hunt through the woods about a 4 minute drive away, we would then bring some cool twigs and leaves we had found back to the house and make some art together. The best laid plans always go awry. My smug happy bubble at being such a lovely outdoorsy family was well and truly crushed when son2 wailed 2 minutes into the walk that he wanted a sofa and to go home. No amount of persuasion worked (if they could harness the power of a stubborn 3 year old we could solve the fossil fuel running out problem in an instant…). Feeling like I wanted to cry we stumbled back to the car. It’s hard to forgive and move on from such a letdown, I wanted fun in the woods, son1 wanted fun in the woods and now we were heading back home after 20 minutes outside. Slowly we regrouped.

We made cake, ate lunch, had a much needed quiet time whilst they listened to stories and I read 4 pages of a book in peace. Some of the old NCT gang (as son1 has labelled them) came around and we sat drinking tea in the garden whilst the small ones had fun with a bit of old rope. Outdoors felt like a good place to be. After they left we had a scoot around the block before they ate dinner in a hideout in the garden. All in all it was a pretty good outdoors day. I’ve learnt that organised ‘wild’ isn’t always appreciated but that my smallest will happily skip around the garden all afternoon.

And one day son1 and I will do that nature trail treasure hunt. One day.

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Weekly/er/half-termly round up?

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It’s Friday…

Time for a round up?

I hesitate to write here. What could I write? What of life in this now? What’s happened? How are we at the end of the first half of the summer term? How have I had a job for the last 6 weeks? 

I hesitate to write because I am doubtful of my heads ability to work out what is true at the moment. I’m fairly wiped out and so anything I write may have a hint of weary self pity. Let’s see eh. You can judge. 

So. Where are we? 

6 weeks of a new job. It’s going well, I think. Obviously, as I wrote two weeks into it, change is tiring, newness is exhausting, blah blah blah. It’s one thing acknowledging that change is hard and a whole other thing daily living with that change and choosing to be ok with the tiredness. Anyways. What’s still true in the midst of tiredness? Ah yes. I love getting to do what I have been made to do, I love supporting our small group leaders and knowing the wonderful value of loving them so they can love their groups well.  I love thinking about something that is not my home or family for a bit. I loved our women’s retreat and giving us all space to talk to God. I am looking forward to our weekend away and getting to know more people, and calling attention to the reality of living in our Makers world. All true. Even in the midst of tiredness and adjusting to having a line manager and colleagues and learning how to communicate again on a work level and being accountable for some of my time and other new weird things that come with you know, having a job. 

Life with the boys is a continuing whirlwind of guiding them through their emotions and trying to be patient in the midst of their weirdness. Shouty lady made a return recently, in several moments that were not my finest. I was helped by some old blog posts that reminded me of the need to be slow and patient, that 3 year olds are button pushers and also facing huge challenges as to how to deal with life each day. I was helped by the wonder of being able to say sorry and be forgiven. I returned to the mantra of ‘that can wait’, knowing that an ordered house is less important than a small boy helped through his enormous feelings.  

Both are tired from a long half term. I still trying to wrap my head around how Son1 is heading into his final half of term in reception. I’m also looking forward to hanging out with them in half term. Son1 has a good plan “Lets build dens and then watch some tv and then go back in our dens and snuggle”. I like it. He is also a reading and writing machine at the moment and I’m astounded by his development. It’s so delightful watching his brain grapple with concepts and fascinating seeing him getting to grips with a new world of words open to him at last. 

The husbandface is still ill. There isn’t much to say here that hasn’t been said before.  We do life one moment at a time.  I don’t know how to process it in any other way. It’s a long slog for him and us. We adjust to new normals and we have to stop with the plans and live with the reality we have each day. I’m not going to pretend that’s easy. It sucks. But it’s life right now and so we keep putting one foot in front of the other and holding onto hope somehow. Sometimes that’s easier than other times. We get it wrong. We say sorry. We forgive and keep on walking. We laugh at YouTube randomness, we smile at the weirdos and we hope to find a level and way of living that it is possible to be ok in.

As for me. At the end of these 6 weeks I’ve realised my self care is slipping, hence probably, the return of shouty lady. I still run but that’s the only regular thing from my need of reading, running and talking to the Maker of the world on a daily basis. I know things that would help, getting away from the phone more, accepting tiredness and not drowning it in YouTube, being kind to myself, getting hold of a good novel to grip me away from the screen (any recommends?), taking time to reference the Maker as I cycle and run around this city. Things I know I need to do. 

Life feels like it has less margins and maybe it does but also maybe I could live better to create more. Hmmm. I’ll give it a try and let you know how it’s going. 

For now I’m going to leave this coffee shop where I was a month early for a meeting and cycle home. I’m going to sit and talk to my Maker and friend and ask for the grace to love my husband, boys, friends and church. I’m going to pick up the small ones and see how their days were, make chilli and embrace a long weekend and the chance to hang out with my boys this week. 

Life goes on. 

There is grace. There is hope. There is redemption. It’s worth it. If you see me around remind me eh. 

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In which I mention the milestone birthday for the first time…

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This year is the year I turn 40. Good friends have bravely walked this path already in the last few months and in a couple of months it will be my turn.

On one level I’m totally fine with this surprising turn of events. 40 is the new 30 after all. I’ll put aside the nagging thought that I could remember my Dad’s 40th as a major event in our house. (Er Mum how did we celebrate yours?). I’m embracing this new weird sense of feeling at home with who I am and what I want from life in the next decade. The path ahead is unknown but with a few fairly known quantities. As far as I know I’ll be living in the same place with the same man, watching the same people grow and change. It’s a weirdly different place to be since my last milestone birthday when I literally had no idea what the next 10 years would hold on almost every level of life. Obviously everything could change tomorrow but with the info I have it looks like my 40s will look like a rooted kind of place.

The last couple of days I’ve been gardening, hacking down bushes, clearing out borders and planting a few seeds. Tending to the place I live, putting hands into the dirt we live upon has reminded me once more of my word of the year. Which as it happens was rooted. This was the year we were going to do slow and steady and live deep into our small bowl of green round the back of Brighton. The winter was too long though and my bones longed for outdoors and adventure and escape from the normal. Life was a whirlwind and then a crash and now a realisation that we need to be slow. Slow and steady. We do not have the energy or money for camping trips, many weekends away from home or escapades in a camper van (apart from two weeks in the summer, oh boy I need to get a grip on what I expect out of life…)

Although I long to fill my vision with sunsets from around the country and the world my gaze is being pulled back to the narrowing light outside my bedroom window.

My gaze is being pulled down to green bugs on leaves in son1’s hands, to afternoons lazing in the play tent in our back garden, to putting roots literally in the soil itself to see what might spring up.

My gaze is being pulled down to running around our streets in awe of how green this world looks, to pottering around the woods up the road after dinner with the boys, to forts on top of hills and miles and miles of rolling down land in front of me.

My gaze is being pulled to evening meals outside on our picnic bench, playing catch with the eldest, watering plants with the youngest. Tending this plot of space we inhabit together.

My gaze is being pulled to quiet weekends where we live within our means financially, emotionally and physically. Where my need of outdoors is met by the beauty in front of my eyes.

We are here. In our year of slow. I’m so slow it’s taken me until now to accept the slow. There is time enough for adventure. Right now is the time for healing space, for finding our limits and living within our means. To embrace the wonder in front of our eyes.

Once more we’ll be embarking on The Wildlife Trust’s 30 days of Wild in June. I think it will be pretty small scale, a seeking of the wild in the ordinary everyday walk of life. I shall try not to be envious of others pretty wild experiences and embrace the wild in my back garden. (Which is probably the point of the whole thing anyway)

This need to embrace the slow also affects my thoughts on turning 40. I would love us to have the means for 40 amazing experiences in my 40th year. We just don’t. I think I’m more than ok with that.

I love a good list as much as the next good list making person but this year I think I’m going to lay the list down. We shall have an afternoon tea party of music and poetry and I shall have a day off with my favourite and best on the day itself. Obviously if anyone wants to do anything fun with me aside from that I’m not going to turn them down but I think I’m going to put the list down. There is time enough for lists, life is full of adventure enough without them. I’d rather save any money we did spend on experiences to getting a camper van one day. There is time. And there is a beautiful life now to be lived in these days we bumble through.

Your correspondent. Imagining that although this might be the first post to mention and process turning 40, it surely won’t be the last…

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Kicking my writing mojo into action again…

IMG_3707It’s Monday evening and I feel that if I don’t grab this opportunity to blog then I may never again. Overdramatic, maybe, but that’s how I roll around here when I want to kick my writing mojo in the butt. Yes, it’s going to be one of those blog posts.

I’m in a butt kicking mood, I’ve had a weekend spent too much in my own twisted deluded head staring at van conversion videos on youtube. (we also made it outside to appreciate the joys of spring and bluebells, but any time there was a chance I was glued to my scrolly screen) Nothing much wrong with that unless you have no money to buy a van, no time to convert it and are at the very beginning of the journey towards said van. Tonight I took a tiny step towards the dream of ‘faithinavan’ (spiritual direction in a campervan, coming to a road near you in about 2-3 years time…) I finished my application for a Spiritual Direction course in London. Phew. Done. Now the next step is to live well in the flipping moment I have in front of me, get on with my job, love my boys, love my husband, love my mates, get outdoors to enjoy the world without a van and not spend all our money on cake.

Woah. My butt is feeling kicked.

I’ve not done a round up recently. Probably because I’ve started a new job and am still trying to figure out how this thing works and where my spaces for running, writing and reading are (remember these are my essential self care items….) Running has mostly made it into the mix but any down time I’ve had has been spent mindlessly scrolling through my phone. Argh. Must get off the phone, must stop staring at VW Tridents that might be vaguely affordable in about 3 years time, must live in the now. Hmm. Enough of the ‘musts’ eh. Kicking myself at this point probably isn’t that helpful. I’m two weeks into my new job. Life has changed. I know I’ve settled down lots in the last few years but change just isn’t ever something I’m going to leap up and be energised by. I am usually drained by change, my brain finds it exhausting creating new patterns for how we live life. That’s ok, that’s how I work, it’s ok to be like that. I can be kind to myself in this tiredness. It’s early days in this new world, in this new role.

Pause to note INSANELY beautiful sunset out of our back door.

The photo won’t do it justice, and I have sunspots on my eyes but after a stinky rainy day it’s good to see the sun.

There’s a metaphor for life there if you care to look.

Where was I? Ah yes, being kind to myself.

I’ve also been reluctant to write anything here because the last couple of weeks have been hard. The wonderful husbandface’s health has taken a downward turn again. If life were a film we would have faded to black on Easter Sunday, with big fat resurrection grins on our faces. We felt like we’d come through the dark and there was light all around. Well it turns out that life doesn’t have a hollywood ending, the pain carries on. The darkness lurks. The light shines on but life goes on in it’s relentless course of pain and tears. (that sounds gloomier than I meant it too… obviously life is alive and wondrous as well but I think that in some ways the pain will always be with us in this stage of it).  It’s been horrible to see the darkness sweep over my favourite and best again. I keep reminding myself that we are in a different situation, that we will learn how to cope with this, we will take one day at a time through whatever this is, blip, relapse, thorn that won’t be magically taken away.  Somedays I’m better at remembering that than others.

I’ve also started a new job, did I mention?… I’ve only just remembered that I find it hard to process new stuff on this blog, I found it hard when I got married, when I had babies, there is little reason why it wouldn’t be hard when I start a job. I’m not sure how or if I’m going to talk about work, or indeed what the word ‘work’ means.  Working/having a job at your church is a little odd like that, it kind of takes over the corners of your brain and the boundaries of life can feel a little blurred.

I’m going to take it slow, to try and learn how to live with the different stuff that makes up my life, with being a part time pastoral co-ordinator for our church, being a Mum to two small weirdos, being a lover of my favourite and best (sounds better than just the word wife, yes I have issues..), being a friend to my mates, being a person in this world, a walker, a reader, a runner, a beloved child, a friend of the king and queen, a drummer and more. (that list is seriously in no order before you try and read too much into it…). We’ll see how it goes, once more I’m trying to be kind to myself and not expect to run before I can walk. It’s a whole new world around here and trying to work that around the old one is an interesting process. I shall allow it to take time, and remember to run, read and write.

Right, enough burbling, I’ve blogged. It’s ok. For now tea, cookies and Parks and Rec call.

Your Correspondent, slowly making it through the painful ‘blogging in a new world’ phase…

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What I’ve read… The bumper 3 month edition…

Recently I realised it’s been ages since I wrote down my burbling thoughts on the books I’ve read over the last erm, well, 3 months. To be honest reading has been a bit thin on the ground, a month of illness in March left me gazing blankly at Friends reruns whenever I got time away from people. The start of April has been insanely busy with Easter and fun. Today though I feel like we are in some kind of new term, new rhythm space and so reading and writing shall happen once more.

And so… here we go..

Calling Major Tom- David M Barnett

A novel about a man who wants to escape his past, and humanity as a whole, and go live on Mars. He’s off in his space capsule to do that when he gets a call from a family who need his help. The rest is fairly predictable but kind of sweet in it’s helping someone realise that he needs other people.  I’m not sure it holds up from a science point of view but then again I don’t really care much about that. It was an engaging read.

Bit Rot – Douglas Coupland

Genius from the mind of a reflector on our culture who we all need to listen to more. Really interesting stuff about technology, the affect of having pretty much most of human knowledge available at our fingertips and what that might do to our souls. Always worth reading stuff this man writes.

Bonkers- Jennifer Saunders

If you follow along with my reading patterns you’ll be familiar with my love of celebrity female autobiographies. It’s another classic. Funny, entertaining and fascinating to see inside a bit of another persons take on life. Kept me going in the bed bound bit of my ill month.

Unapologetic- Francis Spufford.

I really liked this book. I’m not sure I agreed with all of it, but, as I’m learning in life, that is ok and it’s good to embrace things you don’t agree with every word of. I loved it for his first chapter on the high propensity of humans to fuck things up and then the question of how we deal with that. I loved it for it’s chapters on Jesus and how brilliant he was.

Swallows and Amazons- Arthur Ransome

Normally I avoid bedtime reading because I’m done in by the end of the day and want nothing more than to escape on a run or collapse in front of some lovely van conversion videos. When we read Swallows and Amazons to son1 for the first time I couldn’t leave the room. I had forgotten how this deeply quiet slow paced book had got me through waking up after nightmares or in nights when I couldn’t sleep as a child. I had forgotten how much I could recite from it. I had forgotten how it had informed all our play with the boys who lived up the road. I loved rediscovering all of those things as I read it to son1 and listening to husbandface read it for the first time. It is a brilliantly gentle book, there are long descriptions of sailing, food eaten at each meal, the way they set up camp and more.  Son1’s vocabulary is now full of boat terms and we are going to find Wild Cat Island in the summer when we go to the Lakes. I loved all over again the really good amount of female characters, the dreaming imagination of Titty (yes, get over it), the very sensible practical nature of Susan (could have been a stereotype but her sister and the Amazons show that there is more to a woman than sorting out the cooking, although Susan shows that is needed too) and the tomboyish bounciness of the Amazon pirates, one fearless and full of bravado and one slightly more scared and clumsy. A great read for lovers of quiet, slow, barely any tension books.

Silence- Erling Kagge

A beautiful reflective book on the need for more silence in our lives. Well worth a read.

The heart goes last- Margaret Attwood.

Weird future is mental book. Not really sure I enjoyed it at all. There are some really good insights into humans and what our lives might turn into but she’s done much better stuff.

Heroes of the Frontier- Dave Eggers.

A mum of two children, an RV, Alaska, what is the point of life themes, a cynical bent and some hope thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love? (had to really restrain myself from heading off in an RV during the whole time I was reading it…)

The love song of Miss Queenie Henssey.- Rachel Joyce

The other half of the Harold Fry walking book, Queenie’s story. It was ok, sad and bittersweet.

Artemis- Andy Weir.

A recommend of the husbandface which I was reluctant to undertake because of last year’s Seven Eves from which I am still recovering from the boredom of. Anyway. This was written by the same guy who did the Martian so I thought I’d be ok. It was a good read if you like a bit of Sci Fi. About a woman smuggler on a Moon base, trying to bring down a corporate take over. She was a great character and it was a pretty good read.

What have you been reading? Any recommends?

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Reflecting on the Easter Holidays…

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Thursday morning that feels like a Monday. 

The end of the Easter Holidays. 

The start of new paths in this world. 

Yep. It’s roundup time. The holidays are over and there is much to be reflected on. 

We had a lovely Easter time. Easter weekend was massively special, hanging out with new friends from church, catching up with old friends, sharing Easter Sunday with our friends who are family and then seeing family on a typically rainy Bank Holiday. 

We loved the Easter stuff going on at church. Good Friday reminded us of the darkness that haunts this world and the only hope for the broken mess we find ourselves in so many times. We sat and heard the old old story again, heard heartbreaking songs and held people close in our hearts for whom the rain keeps falling in this season of life. 

Easter Sunday morning found us down on the beach hearing what resurrection means for some of our church. It was a beautiful time of sharing stories of pain tinged with the silver thread of hope. I remembered the year before when I could see no hope. Each year we are encouraged to choose a stone from the beach to warm in our hands and remind us of someone or some situation where there seems to be no hope. They serve as reminders to pray and to hope for the light of resurrection in the darkest times. Last year my stone represented the lovely husbandface. This year I wept with joy at the changes that we’ve seen in these last few months. Things aren’t completely healed but we are so much further along the road. This year I held my lovely brother and sister in law in my heart. Longing for them to be rooted and flourishing in a space that is theirs in this world. I wait in anticipation. I wait in hope. 

Husbandface then swam in the sea. Crazy man. 

The Easter morning service seemed to burst with joy. Big fat singing. A bubble machine and the taste of hope on my lips. 

It was also a service when the next step in our life was announced. I’m going to be working for our lovely church for 16 hours a week helping out with small groups, pastoral care and generally helping nurture community in the midst of us. It’s initially for 6 months to see how it all works out and if it is the right step all round. 

It’s the kind of job that I’ve said for years that I would like if anyone has asked what I want to do with my time. Frankly it’s fairly terrifying and exciting for that to become a reality. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out. I officially start on Wednesday. Eek. 

After a fairly full on Easter weekend we took ourselves off to Cornwall to visit more friends who are like family. It was lovely to hang out, chat late into the evening, see the children enjoying each other and spending three lovely days outdoors in the beautiful world of Cornwall. It was refreshing in so many ways to be out of our space. Our friends are deeply inspiring in the way they parent and think about life in this world. I came home revitalised and able to see our lives from a changed perspective.

It was also a time of realising that the lovely husbandface isn’t as well as we might think he is. After 5 days with many people and lots of noise (5 children aren’t all that quiet to be around) his body was being triggered all over the place, it was a very pale and twitchy man that I drove back home on Sunday. Thankfully a couple of days at his lovely quiet calm job sorted things out and I am once more profoundly grateful he has such a helpful working environment, even if it does seem counter intuitive to recover from your holiday at work…

Foolishly I planned in a bit too much stuff for the days that followed our return and forgot we are a family of introverts.  After a day of mooching around on the beach everyone’s moods chilled out again and I must must remember to include a couple of introvert days into each week of the long summer holiday. 

Today me and the smallest are hanging out regrouping before nursery tomorrow. 

It’s been a good holiday and I’m looking forward to the term ahead, to new rhythms, to days in the sun (I can live in hope..) and the best season to be a parent of small people in. 

This morning I read a page of Thoughts to make your heart sing (meant to be for small people but actually perfect for parents in the parched desert of faith that early years parenting seems to bring). It told me of a God who teaches us to walk, who holds our hands as we learn and is gentle and kind with us. I’m deeply glad I walk into this term holding a hand bigger than mine, that I belong to someone who knows and loves me, that whatever happens, whatever faith looks like at the moment I am a child learning to walk in the arms of a loving and gentle parent. 

Somehow the next few weeks feel more manageable as a result of that. 

As we sang loud and clear on Easter Sunday.

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because he lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know he holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because he lives.”

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