Sad / Glad

Sad:

feeling like I am banging my head against a brick wall with some work stuff, and being left wondering where all the common sense has gone.

Glad:

I booked my flights to the US – March 7-21 I am going to be in Salem, Oregon with some of the best people I know!

Sad:

earlier this month it was 3 years since my Nana died, and remembering it was made worse because of the hideousness that surrounded her funeral. I miss her so much and I hate that when I think of her, I think of that awful day.

Glad:

I have joined the smartphone revolution, finally. I now have a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (blue) – yes, somehow I have managed to get one of the newest phones on the market, for a super-awesome tariff. My phone is pretty and I love it. The best thing is that it has a camera so I can take more photos in the States. (Yes, my old phone was so old it didn’t have a camera!)

Sad:

I don’t get to see my Dad until the summer

Glad:

My dad and I had a little Facebook message chat today, for the first time in over a year. Small steps accomplish big journeys

Sad:

I lost the pretty part “S” of one of the drop earrings my brother got me for Christmas. It broke in in Morrisons (so it is long-gone) and haven’t been able to find a replacement

Glad:

Sunday morning at church was AMAZING and we began a new sermon series on James, which I think is my favourite book of the Bible now. I’m very excited to be studying further into James and learn more about being ‘steadfast’ in the Lord

Sad:

my sister is very poorly and might have glandular fever 😦

Glad: I have a long weekend booked next week (Thursday and Friday off!) so am going home to see the family, and my brother is probably coming home for the weekend too! 3/4 siblings will be together for the first time since June ’12.

Altogether, there are some UPs and DOWNs in my life at the moment. The UPs are nice, the DOWNs are dismal, but through it all God is faithful 🙂

Psalm 89:1
“I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.”

The sweetest thing

One of the foster carers I work with told me an incredibly sweet story yesterday, and I want to share it with you. I think it teaches a very good lesson. I’ve changed the names for confidentiality. The foster child is a 12 year old boy, let’s call him James. He is on the Autistic spectrum and has global developmental delay. We’ll call the carer Julianne. James has lived with her for 2 years.

Julianne had been trying to find some social/leisure activities for James, for a long time. But due to his autism, and developmental delay, a lot of youth clubs or sports groups would not be appropriate for him. When he was 10, he was asked to stop coming to the local football club because everytime someone tackled him to get the ball he would punch, kick or even bite them. James doesn’t understand social interaction – he can’t understand sarcasm or teasing, and will get very upset and angry if he this happens – but he really craves friendships like those that his older foster siblings have. Julianne had been looking for the right fit for him when a friend recommended a youth club for children and teenagers with learning difficulties.

Julianne decided to take James along, and see if it might be a good match.

The first evening that they went, James was a little nervous. But when they got to the youth club, Julianne quickly realised this was James’ place. There were a number of other young people there, and some were displaying quite “classic autistic” behaviours. James joined in playing a game of Pool with some boys, none of them knew the rules but it didn’t matter. One boy was running around the room, shouting his head off and banging on any metal surface to get a tinny sound. He not only had learning difficulties, he was also different physically – he had water on the brain which meant that his head was not the ‘normal’ shape.

James caught sight of him and immediately shouted over to Julianne “hey Julianne, look at that boy!”, pointing at him. Julianne groaned inwardly, hoping that whatever James said would not be too inappropriate. She motioned to James not to point at the other boy, but he shouted again “no Julianne, look at that boy!” Julianne then told James to shh and carry on his game, but James was adamant. He left the Pool table and went over to the boy, taking him by the arm and leading him over to Julianne.

Julianne was mortified and could feel the eyes of the other carers and the youth club leaders watching her to see what kind of inappropriate comment James would come up with. But when he and the other boy got to her –

“Hey look Julianne, he has the same t-shirt as me!”

James didn’t see the other boys’ disabilities, he didn’t recognise that there was anything ‘different’ about him – or the other people in the club. He only saw that they had the same t-shirt. When Julianne told me this story, I have to admit that I teared up. What a lot we have to to learn from children like James, who focus on the smallest similarity rather than discriminate against anyone who is different.

-x-

Beware the Grumperson

Sheesh. Today has been a very long, very stressful, nightmare of a day. I feel like hibernating. I thought yesterday was supposed to be the National Gloomy Day. Why can people just not be NORMAL?!

I have been totally grumpy all day – and when I say grumpy, I don’t mean in an adorable Disney character way.

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My grumpy mood has been more like this:

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Seriously. Don’t mess with me.

I hate being grumpy. I don’t think it suits me, and more to the point, it is not the best side of me. Definitely not. The girls at work all noticed that I was in a foul mood and even though they thought it was pretty funny (because I’m NOT like that normally) I wish I had been able to snap out of it and deal with the stresses and issues better. Grr.

Fortunately I’m now watching Miranda from last night and it’s just made me laugh out loud – literally. And I have good plans for tonight so hopefully I can get over it and start again tomorrow.

-x-

And another week goes by…

Somehow it is already past the middle of January. How has that happened?! So far I think January, and 2013, is doing a pretty good job, I feel like I should give it a sticker or something.

This weekend I have two bits of exciting news – that are possibly only exciting to me, but seeing as this is my blog and I can write about whatever silly nonsense I like, I will share. You’re welcome.

1) I now have two bridesmaid’s dresses, since I am going to be a bridesmaid twice this year. I dunno, you go 23 1/2 years and aren’t a bridesmaid once and then two weddings come along at the same time. I love both my dresses and can’t wait for the wedding shindigs.

2) The other piece of exciting news is that I have dates to go the USA for what could now be called my Annual Trip. March 7th-21st I will be Oregon bound to visit my favourite bunch of Americans. I can’t wait. I’ve been checking out flights for the past week or so and trying to figure out the best route. I want to fly from Gatwick since it’s nearer, but that tends to result in needing to take 3 planes to get all the way across the states. Which could be fun on the way there since I don’t really get jetlagged flying West, but on the journey back it may not be so much fun. Apparently jetlag is always worst when flying Eastwards, but I don’t know why.

All I know is that I am for sure looking forward to this trip. Even though it’s been less than a year since I last went, it feels like forever and I enjoy every minute of my time there so much that it’s basically a highlight of the year.

Oh! I just remembered more exciting news. (Again, exciting to me, maybe not to you)
Book Club is starting again! A group of us met last summer with the intention of reading The Greener Grass Conspiracy greenergrass

But due to 6 very busy schedules we never got round to organising any times to meet. So we all have read it separately I think, but over the New Year I felt that this was the year to step out more and really be purposeful in getting to know people – and by people, I mean, young women around my age/in my demographic – in the church and I decided to propose starting Book Club again.

So I think there are 6 of us, which is a nice number, although more may join. To begin with we’re going to read a short-ish book called 9781842913574

and then we have another book lined up, for afterwards.

All in all, I’m pretty good right now. It’s a nice feeling. Long may it last!

-x-

Shouldering disappointment

I had great plans for this weekend. My Dad, stepmum and littlest sister (who is 3) were going to come and visit me & my brother, from Friday to Monday. It’s been planned since before Christmas, because my dad had to stay in Afghanistan and work until 28th December and I had to come back to Canterbury that day so we weren’t able to cross paths. I didn’t get to see Michelle and Jessica and my younger brother Callum because they spent Christmas at Lapland – rather than be at home without my Dad.

However, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I am feeling very disappointed right now because they aren’t here. It’s for a completely valid reason – my Gran (Dad’s mum) is very unwell and in hospital, in Intensive Care. So they are staying in Plymouth to be near her.

Even though it’s for a genuine reason, I still feel so disappointed. I was so excited for them to visit. They’ve only been to Canterbury once in the five years I have lived here – for my graduation. It is, for a variety of reasons, easier for me to visit them in Plymouth rather than them come up here. So the prospect of seeing them up here for a whole weekend; just them and me and my brother, doing fun things, was so exciting. I had plans – to go to the zoo with Jess and see all the animals, to take them to church, to do a big ‘Christmas’ lunch and open presents.

And, none of it’s happening. And, I feel devastated. I feel so selfish, because my Gran is very poorly and my over-riding reaction is to feel sorry for myself. Well, not sorry for myself. I don’t really know how to describe it

I’m disappointed. And it’s challenging me. The way the whole thing is being handled is hurting me too. I’ve really had to turn to God this week. My family relationships are fragile at the best of times and this has just brought up an awful lot of things I’d rather just keep buried. (Remember, I’m an ostrich) When it comes to things involving my Dad’s side of the family, the best thing is to say nothing at all – it gets far too complicated and I’m the one who suffers. But once again, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach, bruised.

Thankfully God is merciful and good to me, always. He is constantly with me and takes care of me.

Psalm 73:23-26
“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Even when I feel bad – so bad – I have God. An awesome God, who has given me wonderful friends who have become a surrogate family to me. Despite the disappointment, I’ve had a good weekend so far. Not what I had planned, so everything still feels a little bit tinged with regret, but tramping through the muddy and wet Canterbury countryside, watching Les Mis with seven friends, and now chilling out eating Pizza and watching Take Me Out with the girls is an acceptable Second Best.

-x-

Things that are wrong with Splash!

Right now I am sat watching the new ITV show Splash!

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The premise: 15 celebrities are taught to dive by Tom Daley (Olympic silver medallist), and then compete in a live show. 5 celebrities dive per show, and then there will be a semi-final and a final. I think, it hasn’t been very clear.

I was quite excited to see that they were introducing this show…and now I am so gutted because as far as I can see, the only redeeming feature is that the judging panel actually has two genuinely talented divers. One is Leon Taylor, who has competed in several Olympic competitions and was also a commentator at London 2012, and the other is Andy Banks, who was my diving coach when I was younger. He has decades of experience as a professional diver and as a coach. I love him 🙂

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I was a diver, before. I started when I was nine, when my mum signed my brother and I up for beginner’s course at the local pool. Plymouth has a proper competitive diving pool (they’ve recently redone it, and made a new Life Centre which is amazing) so we were quite fortunate to get the chance. We went for 2 hours a morning, five mornings a week over half term, and by the end of the week I had earned my Learner and Grade One badges and the coaches, Sam and Becky, had told my mum that I had potential and should take lessons. Lessons were every Saturday morning, for 2 hours, and a few months later I had Grades 2-5 and I was invited to join a Competition Squad. That’s when Andy took over. I was in Z squad (It went Z, C, B, A and A Masters who were the proper professionals) He called me Widget, because I was teeny tiny (I was only ten). I had training twice a week, for three hours at a time – 90 minutes diving, 90 minutes in the gym. It was pretty hardcore for a girl that hadn’t even started Secondary School yet!

This is one of the trophies I won:
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Every few months, the Diving School would hold a competition for everyone that had lessons or was in training. They called them Development Competitions and it was designed to get everyone used to the idea of competing in front of a crowd, plus it was good publicity. In the second competition I did, I came third, and the one after that I came second. That’s the hench trophy I’m holding in the photo. The development competitions also involved several stunt routines, with the more experienced divers doing incredibly complex dives (from the top of a lader, balanced on the 10m, for example). It was incredible (and better than the stunt routine they just pulled off on Splash!)

As a squad, we would go to national competitions. We were still ‘novice’ divers, but there are annual competitions where you compete according to age group. I remember competing at Crystal Palace in London (we won), Southampton (we won) and at Poole in Dorset (we won). It was great, because the higher ranked divers competed too so you got to see what you were aspiring to be. I remember being at one of Tom Daley’s first competitions and knowing he would go far. Another small claim to fame that I have is that Tonia Couch, who is one of the top UK female divers, joined our squad in September 1999 and we trained together until I quit diving when I was 12. That girl had such talent, even then. I feel honoured that I knew her at the beginning!

I absolutely love diving, but I quit because I completely lost confidence in myself and my ability after having a nasty accident. I was doing a standard 1 1/2 forward somersault from the 3m springboard but I hadn’t checked the degree of spring on the board, and it went badly wrong. Andy said that I flew up to 5m, spinning, and came down with a proper wallop. I landed flat on the water and winded myself, and my back, arms and legs instantly came up in bruises. Let me tell you, when you’re tiny and bounce yourself through the air, and hit flat water at speed – it hurts a lot.

I’d had small accidents before, and been winded more times than I can remember, but after that accident, I was very scared of hurting myself again. I had very low self-esteem anyway because one of the girls on the squad was a bit of a bully, and I was having a lot of issues at school as well. I couldn’t seem to shake it off, and my mum realised that I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I had before. We agreed that at the next big competiton – which was the one in Poole – if I placed in the bottom half of the results table, I would give it up. I came 11th out of 21 – exactly in the middle, but I decided that it was time to call it a day.

But anyway – back to Splash! I wouldn’t usually unleash half as much vitriole as I’m about to do here – but I feel that this show is a true let-down.

I’m disappointed for many reasons, but mainly because I really thought this would be a great showcase for the sport of Diving. People don’t realise how incredibly difficult, and dangerous, it can be. People have died through their dives going wrong. I wanted it to be like Strictly – where loads of people take up the sport because they suddenly realise how amazing it is.

All ITV1 have managed to do is take a genuine sport and turn it into a big joke. Tom Daley is an incredible diver (even though he does have the charisma of a boiled potato) and they haven’t showcased his ability at all. The show is 90 minutes long and each celebrity has only done 1 dive. If there was less faffing around, and fewer advert breaks, they could have done 3 dives each and we would actually have seen whether they’d developed any skill.

This is turning into a little bit of a rant… so now I’m just going to flat-out list the things that are wrong with Splash!

1) the audience. A bunch of screaming girls who seem more interested in screaming “Tom Tom Tom” rather than watching the diving
2) the celebrities. A Sugababe who can’t swim and an actor who almost drowned in the 2004 tsunami.
3) the presenters. Yes, Gabby Logan is a sports presenter but she doesn’t know anything about diving. Vernon Kay just doesn’t have a clue (and he looks daft in those shorts)
4) the swimwear, the jewellery and the make-up. No self-respecting female diver would ever consider wearing a bikini. Certainly not a sparkly gold bikini that barely covers her cleavage. Also, Jade had her belly-button pierced which is dangerous and if she’d done a better dive she could have ripped it out of of her stomach which would not have made for good television.
5) the adverts. I wish I still had the ability to record live TV because this show would have been condensed into about 30 minutes. On top of which, I don’t recall a single advert relating to any kind of sports or exercise, and the show is sponsored by Domino’s – for heaven’s sake, what happened to getting Britain active?!
6) the faffing around and the sparkle – diving is a spectacular sport. It doesn’t need the glitz and glammer. There is so much flouncing and time-wasting and not enough focus on the training or the dive.
7) Jo Brand. I usually love Jo Brand but she knows NOTHING about diving and she can’t comment on the technical aspects of the dives. She shouldn’t be a judge if all she has to contribute is silly, sarcastic and self-deprecating jokes about herself.
8) the filming. There were so many missed opportunities to get amazing shots, even if the dives they were filming were slightly naff. The cameras missed half of the stunt dive routine, and the cues were all wrong for shooting from the divers to the resenters to the judges. Shoddy quality filming makes the show seem like a cheap joke.
9) the scoring/splash off. As I said above, if they took out the faffing around and concentrated on the diving, there would have been time for each celebrity to do at least two (if not three) dives and they could have been scored properly. If it was my show, I’d have had them dive three times each, combine the scores and the two with the highest scores would go through.

And now, I have to finish this post because Splash! has finished and Take Me Out is on. I can’t find the remote and I want to scratch my eyes out already.

What I did today…

First off, I have to point out that it’s taken me near enough 8 hours to get my laptop to let me online. My security software crashed and I’ve been restarting/resetting/reinstalling for what feels like an age. Which has been irritating on a number of levels.

It’s sorted now though (so it seems) (so I hope)

Today was a good day. I feel like I accomplished a lot, which always makes me feel good. I spent the morning reading (and finished my final library book, so taking them back is a task for tomorrow) and took my time waking up. Today was technically my last ‘holiday’ day – seeing as it’s the weekend tomorrow and I may have to work Monday since I have to prepare reports for meetings next week. I wanted to enjoy being a lady of leisure for a few hours more.

Once I’d finished my book I got ready and headed to the gym, and really impressed myself! Not to brag (well, to brag a bit) I beat my own personal best on the treadmill AND on the bike, and when I did my weights (yes, I do weights) I was able to go more reps than I have before. I was so pleased with myself. I feel very healthy right now.

After that I went to four different homeware stores, in search of storage for my bathroom. I’m sick of it looking like this:
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I knew exactly what I wanted to get…but could I find it? Of course not. FOUR DIFFERENT STORES. Some of them had something that was along the lines of what I wanted, but at ridiculous prices. In the end, I surrendered my ideal and went with a different but equally pretty option:

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[I can’t get the pictures to rotate :(]

Of course, having bought new storage I then had to actually do some organising. Which also meant properly cleaning the bathroom. I like this kind of blitz-attack cleaning – getting everything out of the space, cleaning it and the putting things back (or chucking them out, as the case may be)

I like that (for now, at least) all my products have their own designated home and it all looks pristine.

Once I’d done bathroom, it seemed to naturally lead on to attacking my bedroom. It needed less work than the bathroom but I did lots of flitting around from place to place, putting things back where they belong and straightening it all up. I also did lots of the cleaning jobs I would usually pass over, like cleaning the skirting boards and dusting the tops of the bookcase/door frames. All boring, but necessary. I don’t like the idea of living in a cluttered/dirty/dusty/disorganised home. Not that my home (or any of the places I’ve lived) have really been like that, but disorganisation and clutter is so NOT me.

I would like lots of congratulations and praise for my spectacularly wonderful accomplishments today, please. Form an orderly queue to admire my cleaning prowess…

-x-