It’s May…

 

Almost the end of May, to be exact. This month my little nephew turned one year old (and remains absolutely delicious and squishy and wonderful), my sister turns 23 (how is she so grown up), and I am coming to the end of an utterly exhausting month.

Fortunately, there is a Bank Holiday approaching and being the savvy Annual Leave taker that I am, I had the foresight to book the Tuesday and Wednesday off as well. Heather is off home for Half Term so I have Saturday to Wednesday completely free to do anything or nothing, and everything in between.

In my supervision last week, my line manager and I talked about how I always seem to fill my ‘time off’ with busy things. Case in point – the Easter weekend….

I took the Thursday off (before Good Friday) and travelled home on the train on the Wednesday after work. It has been many years since I got the train home to Devon and I have to say, I don’t really miss the travel into London, getting the tube to Paddington, and then the several hours hurtling through the countryside to Plymouth. However…. the technological developments over the last few years have been great and I actually spent most of the journey watching ’13 Reasons Why’ on my phone, thanks to Netflix and a great data package. 18 year old Sarah is very jealous of 28 (almost) year old Sarah!

So, I arrived into Plymouth very late on the Wednesday night (and promptly nearly broke my ankle with my suitcase so had a fetching bruise for a few days). Mum picked me up and I spent the weekend at hers… bed on the floor in the living room, so very little sleep and no chance of a lie-in!! Nice to be home though.

Mum and I spent Thursday looking after the little boy. (When I say ‘little boy’ I am usually referring to Ezra, although possibly I could be referring to our dog Toby who was the ‘little boy’ prior to the nephew’s arrival. It gets confusing now) I walked the dog in the morning and then Rebecca and Simeon brought Ezra over and went off for a date day while I got to enjoy a date day with my squish! Mum usually takes him to a Nursery Rhyme group at a local library on Thursdays so that’s what we did…so cute. Save the local library!!! Ezra seems to go there at least 3 times a week with each of his grandmothers and sometimes my sister takes him too! Then we went for an afternoon tea (Ezra likes scones, who’d have guessed) and completely wore ourselves out looking at ducks.

Friday (Good Friday) we all went to a place called Antony House in Cornwall. It’s a National Trust property with lovely gardens and grounds, which were used for the filming of the newest version of Alice in Wonderland a few years ago. We had a long walk round the gardens and looked at all the flowers etc, had a picnic, and then looked around the house. Again, exhausting.

Saturday – I went down to Cornwall again to spend the day with my little sister Jessica and my stepmum. We all went to Tintagel (a little village with an old ruined castle, reportedly where King Arthur was conceived…or so the 7 year old told me) We had fish and chips, explored the beach and the caves, had a cup of tea in the café and just generally enjoyed time together. After we went back to their caravan in this sweet little caravan park and played word games until I had to go home…. and then I got lost in deepest darkest Cornwall without a satnav and it took several hours to get home. (I was driving Mum’s car since I got the train on Wednesday)

Sunday, Easter Sunday, we had a roast dinner at Rebecca and Simeon’s (which Mum cooked) and I spent the day reading in the sunshine. It was lovely. Mum did a little Easter egg hunt for Ezra… plastic eggs with dinosaur toys in… he squealed a lot which I think meant he liked it!

Monday…. urgh, Monday. Mum and I (and a million others) drove from Plymouth up country. It took us nearly 10 hours to get from Plymouth to Canterbury. Fortunately we were able to share the driving so that helped a lot. We got home early evening and crashed out a bit.

Tuesday, we went to London!!!! We drove to my work to collect my car, since I was going to be driving into London itself and wanted my familiar car. We did London driving!! Across Westminster Bridge, past Tower of London, near the Houses of Parliament. I was very impressed with myself but internally very nervous about it! The reason for our trip was to have Afternoon Tea at a hotel near Kensington (Mothers’ Day treat) and then go to the Classic FM Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Both were lovely, and we walked round Kensington Gardens too, in the sunshine. I think this could be an annual occurrence but only if we’re on public transport next time.

Wednesday, I had another day off work but we were both shattered so we had a restful morning at home and then met up with my brother and sister-in-law for lunch in Canterbury. It was lovely to spend time with them as well, it’s always good to see them when Mum comes up.

And that was my ‘weekend off’. Back to work on the Thursday, Mum drove back to Plymouth and ‘life’ started again.

Not exactly restful. So, this Bank Holiday weekend… have I learned my lesson and not booked anything?! (Have I heck.)

Well, sort of, actually. On Saturday I am having breakfast at a local café with Jonnie and Kate, who are visiting from Bradford, then I have choir rehearsal followed by afternoon tea later. Sunday I have church. That’s it though. No obligations on Sunday afternoon, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.

It will be nice to rest and recover following a hectic and intense month of May! And maybe one day I’ll finally find the balance between business and restfulness…

-x-

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Insomnia…urgh

Insomnia is a big battle in my life. It has been for over a year and a half. I can’t remember exactly when it started being an issue, but it’s certainly been a significant problem since last summer – after I got back from the States. What I put down to jetlag at first soon proved to be more; I was having night after night of not getting to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning, feeling absolutely shattered and miserable and a little bit like I was going mad.

I love and need my sleep. My bed is a special place of rest and comfort, and constant nights of tossing and turning were making me hate it, and feel anxious about bedtime for fear that I wouldn’t sleep at all…. so I started making a concerted effort to monitor my sleep around the autumn.

I have struggled with PMS since the beginning of my degree, and it has gotten worse over time, and for the last few years I’ve used an App to track my cycle and my emotional ups and downs. It has been extremely helpful to be able to check the App and note where I am in the cycle, and suddenly have it all make sense why I feel sad for no reason, irrational and snappy, or anxious with none of my triggers happening.

I was already using the App to note my moods, and I started using it to keep a note of whether I’d slept well or had disrupted sleep, if i’d struggled to get to sleep or gone off easily.

I matched my sleep patterns up with my App and recognised that my insomnia was waaaayyyyy worse at certain times of the month. I went to see my GP who said that yes, insomnia is another delightful symptom of PMS and suggested I start taking the pill… so I did.

It helped massively with the emotional rollercoaster, but not so much with the sleeping. Having said that; feeling emotionally well definitely helps with managing sleep deprivation!

Then came a bad period at work which really triggered my PTSD, and along with that a run of nights where I would barely get a few hours’ sleep in the early hours of the morning, having struggled the whole night and driven myself crazy with anxiety and all the yuck that comes with PTSD. I spoke to the pharmacist who suggested Nytol as a short term solution to getting back into a good sleep rhythm.

Woah are those things effective… one tablet and I was out like a light within 20 minutes and slept the whole night through! Proper, restful, But, I didn’t like the concept of having to take a tablet to sleep – so I made sure I only took them a couple of times a week, and only if it got to midnight and I was still not asleep (I go to bed around 10pm on weeknights) That way, I got a few good nights’ sleep each week but was still tired on other days and had a good level of actual tiredness that let me get to sleep!

I managed to get into a relatively normal sleep pattern again, and only taking the tablets on a Sunday night (to make sure I could get a good nights’ sleep for work the next day)

I also did some self-analysis into things that helped me sleep or hindered it. I discovered that I can’t sleep if I’m cold, but I also can’t sleep if I’m too hot! (I have three different bed covers right now and use different combinations of each of them depending on how I’m feeling.) I sometimes like a thinner cover but it also needs to have a bit of weight to it! (I am such a contradiction terms) My hot water bottle is my friend!

I can’t sleep if I’m even the slightest bit hungry or thirsty, but I also can’t sleep too soon after eating or drinking. (About an hour before is the best time)

I can’t sleep if I’ve had too much screen time (so no phone or tablet in the hour before bed if I can help it) I’ve been reading my way through the Narnia books instead of watching Netflix or other shows.

I can’t sleep straight after a shower, or if my hair is wet (so I got a shower cap for the times I don’t want to get my hair wet at all, and a hairdryer for the times when it really needs washing – after the gym or whatever)

Other things that work…

Weirdly, I can’t sleep if my feet are too hot, so I have sometimes had to get up and stick my feet under the shower to cool them off and then I’ve managed to get to sleep almost straight away

Another very strange (but effective) tactic is to switch ends of the bed – move my pillows to the bottom of the bed and switch my quilt round and somehow that helps!

I’ve made a blend of essential oils known to help facilitate sleep/good sleep/restfulness/calm which I apply to my neck, pulse points, and feet. I also have a spray version that I can apply to my pillows/bedding.

A lady from church noticed my Facebook statuses about not being able to sleep and offered to pray for me. She’d been through sleeplessness and insomnia herself so knows the awful effects it can have; she sent me a song that she used to play to help her recognise God’s power over insomnia and to remember that He is in control over everything (putting aside anxiety etc) She really encouraged me to pray over my sleeping and I think it has really helped!!

Over the winter, all through to March, I gradually got to the stage where I stopped thinking about whether I’d sleep and just went off to bed with no anxiety or worry at all. Still the very occasional night of little sleep but it’s completely manageable when the majority of nights are good sleep.

Then the flippin’ clocks changed!!! I don’t know if there is any real connection but since then I have had far many more insomnia nights. Thanks to knowing what helps and doesn’t, I feel like I’m managing this ok – but I am also taking the herbal version of Nytol maybe twice a week to help. Not a long term solution but sometimes you have to do the thing that helps you right now.

Do you have any ideas or solutions for insomnia?

-x-

 

 

What is life, and what do I want from it?

Do you ever feel that you are just ‘plodding’ on in life? That things are ok … nothing to complain about… that you’re “happy enough, I guess” but you feel that you are lacking the ‘WOW’ factor ? That’s how I’ve felt for a while. Quite a while, actually.

I can’t see the path that I’m on and I have no idea what I am “doing” with my life. I know that I’m not ‘entitled’ to see the path that God has for me… that He makes the plans, not me. I know that God’s plan is better than any plan I would ever make. I just wish He’d give me a hint once in a while, and let me know what way to go.

Many-Paths-To-Take

I’ve really been seeking in this lately. I had a long talk with my discipler a few weeks ago, and we thought about why I feel so aimless. I think partly it’s because my life now doesn’t match up to the expectations that I had for myself when I was younger, and in comparison with others around my age, I feel a bit inadequate.

I turn 28 in 2 months. (2 months minus 2 days actually)  If you had asked me 10 years ago, aged almost 18, where I would be now, in April 2017, here’s what I’d have said:

qualified social worker, happy in my job, owning my own home, married, probably with at least one child

Well…I have one of those things ticked off, since I qualified as a social worker almost 7 years ago. I’m still pretty pleased with my accomplishment, although 7 years post-qualified doesn’t feel all that much progression from 1 year post-qualified, and doesn’t get any more recognition from my current employer

It’s clear to me that life now is not what I thought it would be.

Job: I’m *ok* with my job but it would be hard to say I’m happy. I had a bad few weeks in March and spontaneously applied for another job…in Plymouth. When the interview offer came, I realised I didn’t want to move back home, but I am open to looking for another job where I might feel more stretched, or challenged, or at least valued – which I don’t always. Don’t get me wrong, compared to my old job I’m positively ecstatic and I’m in no way dismissing the great gift that God gave me by rescuing me from my old place and moving me here… but over the past few months it all seems ‘samey’ and I don’t like ‘samey’. I like challenge and new and feeling that I am making a difference.

  • I am doing something about this though (this is not purely a moany post, don’t worry) I am waiting on a date with our Head of training and development to talk about further training options that I can take up, since I’m a big geek and like to learn and pass on what I’ve learned

Home: I love my home. I have a very lovely housemate. I have almost abandoned the hope of owning my own place. I am a working professional with a steady job, but house prices are so high that even with a very healthy savings account there is no way I will be able to afford to buy. Even if I were to scrimp and save even more (I save the equivalent of my monthly rent and utilities bills every month, but still have plenty of money left for treats and luxuries and holidays etc…for point of reference) it would probably still not be enough since house prices just keep going up!

I feel content with this, now. I realised that I was working towards owning my own home because that’s what people my age do. The main difference was that either most people my age, who were buying houses, were married (therefore 2 incomes, therefore less financial strain and slightly better chance at affording local houses) or had parents who could help with deposits (or sometimes both)

Since I’m single, and since I don’t have any wealthy (or even ‘well off’) relatives waiting in the wings to give me all their money, and since actually I don’t want the responsibility of having to pay for boiler services and roof leaks and broken pipes and blah blah blah, I have decided that it is actually completely practical and completely acceptable to be renting……. although it took a long time to decide that since it’s not what people my age do!

Marriage and children: … no ring on this finger…no current prospect of one. Does that mean I’m a failure?! Um. NO. It doesn’t mean that I’m putting my life on hold and sitting like a Disney Princess waiting for my Prince to come, and it doesn’t mean I’m out there on every dating website and desperate for a man (nothing against dating sites, just not for me)

I’m living life as it is…and open to a relationship if I meet the right person…but it hasn’t happened yet and comparing my singleness with friends who were married, with one or more kids, when they were my age, is not helpful.

comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy-black-and-white-watercolor-canvas

So, going back to my original point. Life is OK. I have a busy life and activities all over the place … dance class and choir on Mondays, Pilates on Tuesdays, Yoga on Wednesdays, Small Group on Thursdays, Yoga on Fridays, rest on Saturdays, and church on Sundays. Also, I crochet, I binge-watch Netflix, I read, I am exploring my family history, I help my friends in their garden renovation project, I practice self care and get regular massages, I go for brunch and afternoon tea, and I go to the cinema with friends (we loved Beauty and the Beast).

I’m busy and happy…but I still feel a bit purposeless…and it feels that I’m often just finding activities that fill my time up so that a) I’m not bored and b) to exhaust me so that I don’t get attacked by my insomnia [but that’s a post for another day]

Recently I asked my small group to pray for me, about this feeling of purposeless…and one person had a picture of me carrying a tablecloth, all bundled up, with lots of things in it… like this I think:

hobostick4

(who knew this was called a ‘hobo stick’?! Not me, but it seems appropriate)

Anyway, he had a picture of me carrying a bundle full of things I wanted…and felt God was encouraging me to lay the bundle down, spread the tablecloth out, and take up only what I wanted from the things carried inside.

I’ve been praying about that every since, trying to identify the things I’m carrying, hoping for, wanting, and filter out whether these are things that I really want for myself, or whether I want them just because I feel I should (see above about buying a house)

Since that time though, I feel almost more purposeless because there are several things I think I want and I don’t know which of them is right. I feel like a compass with all these different things, or opportunities, in different directions and there’s no arrow pointing me to the right one!

I know that I’m not lost. Not really. There’s a poem by JRR Tolkein which goes;

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring

There’s a lot of hope in that, and in knowing that God’s plans for me are completely known to Him –

Jer-29.11-e1363787816786

Being patient and waiting for Him to lead me though….. that’s another matter!

 

 

 

-x-

 

 

 

I am not a “blogger”

It’s March 2017. It’s been four months since I last uploaded a blog post. I have thought of this little area of the bloggy world many times in those four months, but haven’t actually managed to put thoughts into words and words into publishing. Because I am not a “blogger”.

I created this blog years ago (WordPress tells me this is my 249th post actually) with the intention of having a space to just write. I wasn’t that bothered if anyone read what I posted, and I wasn’t that bothered by what they thought of what I wrote. It’s just for me.

I know that ‘just for me’ is a bit of an oxymoron when this is a public posting blog…I get it…but I am not blogging for the purpose of sharing some profound thoughts, or teaching about something. It is unlikely you’ll find enlightenment here.

This space…that gets forgotten about…then revisited…then forgotten about… it’s not anything that special. But it’s mine, so that’s ok. I’m not going to feel any pressure to post a blog a day, or a week, or to link to “the blog” from every Instagram and Facebook post. In fact I just removed the link from my Instagram bio. I am not going to plan my life around what makes a good blog post (or Instagram photo, or Facebook status)

It’s not to say that people who do those things are bad…or that I’m in anyway better than them… it’s just to say that I do not write for people to read it. I write for me.

Henry David Thoreau said: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

I am living my life right now. I am trying to figure out which direction God wants me to go in. There are a lot of options open, and I feel like the space I am in is like a turning circle, in a railway station. I could go anyway, anywhere. It’s confusing and a little bit like going mad and finding myself all at the same time because the more I question the more I find myself coming back to the centre – Jesus – and craving and seeking what He is saying.

I might write about these choices and what God is saying… I might not. I might just end up posting cute nephew and little sister photos. I might go 4 months without posting. Either way, that’s ok. Because I am not a “blogger”.

-x-

2016 in review

January

jan2jan1jan

I kicked off January with a glow-stick dance party with my amazing Americans. It was lush to have a holiday over New Year (and I’m doing it again this year! 9 days to go until I see my tribe)

I also rediscovered my love for journalling and writing in January. I had a rough time as we went through Ofsted right after I got back from my holiday and I found that getting it out on to paper was helpful in processing it all.

February

I spent a lot of time ‘nesting’ in February; lots of self-care was needed after Ofsted! One weekend of half term Heather and I went to “Sent” which is a 20s conference held by our group of churches, Relational Mission. We travelled up to Norwich for the weekend and even though I had a cold and felt awful we had a great time. February ended with a weekend of fun with my mum; she came to stay and we went to watch The Railway Children at the Kings Cross Theatre in London as her belated Birthday or Christmas present. I liked February.

March

 

I was crafty in March – I learned to crochet and made my first blanket for my friend Rosie’s little boy who was born at the end of the month. I also made about 50 paper pompoms for a church ladies’ event and after the event was done I did a mad drive down to Devon to be part of Rebecca’s baby shower. Little nephew arrived about 8 weeks later…

April

 

We went on a family holiday (minus Rebecca and Simeon) to Tuscany, Italy. Lots of walking, stunning views, relaxing with a book… bliss.

May

may

I fell in love with this beautiful boy…

June

june

A pretty good month…although I don’t recall much significant, apart from turning 27 and being surprising gracious about it?! 27 still feels old but I’m getting used to it

July

I took a little trip to see family in Devon, and stayed at my sister’s to maximise cuddles with my love. It was a heatwave in July and I loved it! Also this month I was very brave and started to lead a small bible study group with some friends. We enjoyed the course so much we are starting another in January 2017

August

 

Of course I had an amazing time with My Americans. It was scorching hot in the States too and we spent a lot of time outdoors, floating down the river or enjoying the deck. I went a little wild and got my first (and only) tattoo, something I had always sworn would never happen! But it did, and I genuinely like and love my little ‘heart and crucifix’ reminder of Jesus’ love.

August was also the month that my brother and Alice got married – I flew back from the US on the Friday and the wedding was on Saturday, so I am impressed with how “with it” I appear to be in the photos!

aug3

September

 

I got stuck into family ancestry discovery – something I plan to blog about soon – and loved finding out about all my long-dead ancestors and their lives. I also enjoyed the beautiful Autumn weather near my office, and started reading at bedtime again, to try and combat insomnia. It seems to have been quite effective which I am truly pleased about

October

october

October was awful and I am glad it’s behind me now. This picture sums the whole thing up.

November

I was away from home a lot in November – firstly for my nephew’s dedication ceremony in Plymouth, and then the following weekend at my friends’ house in Banbury. We had such an enjoyable girls’ weekend with lots of laughing, catching up on lives, and drinking tea (and Starbucks)

December

This has been December so far… wrapping up hundreds (and I mean that literally) of gifts which my church donated to the women & children living in the local refuge this Christmas. I got to choose and buy all the gifts, and then spent approximately sixteen million hours wrapping everything. I loved it and they were so pleased to receive them!

December has also been parties galore – 3 just for work!! By the time Christmas day actually comes around I’ll have eaten 5 Christmas meals.

At the time of blogging, I have half a week of work days left (but a whole weeks’ worth of work to do, figures!) before going home to Devon for Christmas weekend – then on 27th I’m flying off to Oregon again and spending New Year and the first 9 days of 2017 with my favourites in the world.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017

-x-

My life, and other ordinary things…pre-Christmas edition

It’s December! Already! How has that happened? I feel like 2016 has gone by much more quickly than previous years, but in other ways it has dawdled along so painfully I’ve wished for 2017 to hurry up and get here. October/November were not so thoroughly wonderful for me… thanks for that, PTSD, but it’s December now, I’m feeling much better, Christmas is almost here and I’m enjoying the cosy life.

Our Christmas tree is up, and looking beautiful.

Sadly our fairy lights went kaput yesterday so I think Norman the Norway Spruce will be light-less for the rest of his little life, as he is way too prickly for me to be reaching in to try and sort the bulbs out. As if I actually know what I’d be sorting. It’s a shame, Norman looked wonderful with his lights on, but it obviously was not to be.

advent

Check out my advent calendar! (Strictly speaking I’m not using it as such…it’s empty…I have a chocolate one) I bought this in the January sales last year, and was very sad when I couldn’t find the box that it was in. One of the problems of being efficient with storage is sometimes you can’t find the excellent storage spot that you have chosen and have to search every possible place in the whole darn house to find that thing you need.

*Case in point: in August I was looking for my travel adaptor plug. Could I find it, no, so in the midst of my mad dash through Heathrow I had to bolt into Boots and buy a new one. Post-holiday I was looking for somewhere to put my new adaptor, and decided to put it in my tool box, since it’s a tool of sorts. (Yes, I have a tool box. My tools have flowers on them) What else was in my tool box??? My original travel adaptor. So now I have two. Good times.

But back to the cute vintage advent calendar. It’s sitting pretty on my bookshelf and it makes me smile at its’ cuteness.

I love Christmas. For the faith reasons of course but I do also like the festivities that go along with it, the traditions that we make almost without realising, and the meaning we attach to those things.

When decorating our Christmas tree, Heather and I watched Elf, and then later Facebook helpful reminded me that we watched Elf while decorating our tree last year…and the year before that! It’s a silly little thing but I like that we have that tradition.

Tradition means a lot to me, maybe I’ve said that on here before – I can’t remember. For example, our family always has fruit kebabs for Christmas pudding – melon/mango/strawberry/grapes etc with melted chocolate for dipping and smothering and it’s delicious. It only started because none of us wanted actual Christmas pudding or cake after that huge Christmas dinner, but now it’s become our thing…just as much as it’s “my thing” to be the one to put our family Nativity scene together (although now I’m not at Mum’s to decorate, I always have to rearrange it to be my way)

When we were little, our Christmas “traditions” were simple – we always opened our stocking presents on Mum’s bed, and then she’d go downstairs to “check if Father Christmas has been” (i.e. she was making sure she’s put the scissors and wrapping paper away and hidden all signs that she was actually Father Christmas…) so that we could have the surprise of all the presents in our sacks the living room.

We always opened our sack presents from Father Christmas in the living room, usually before breakfast – usually before the sun was even up – and then spent the morning playing with our toys, watching whatever video we’d been given…before getting dressed for church. After church we’d have our Christmas dinner, and then in the afternoon it was time for family presents…presents from Mum, grandparents, each other…these were always under the tree and we’d (I’d) hand them out to everyone and watch them open them.

Christmas traditions have changed in the last few years – my brother and his (now) wife spend their Christmas together at home in Herne Bay, rather than in Devon, and my sister and her husband alternate Christmasses between Plymouth and Guildford (he has family there) Last Christmas there were just four of us and a dog on Christmas day…a few Christmasses before that, I hosted in Canterbury and Jonathan and Alice joined us, with Mum and Abigail coming to stay with me. That was the year Abigail was recovering from her surgery but my *wonderful* boss insisted that I was on call, meaning I couldn’t go home to Devon so they all had to come up to me.

This year will be our first Christmas with a baby. Little Ezra will be 7 months old and we’re doing the majority of Christmas day at his house (my sister and brother-in-law’s house, of course) because babies need their accessories and also, my mum’s house is not big enough for our tribe.

See, there’s a bunch of us! Aren’t we cute.

wholefam

I’m also hoping for lots of time with the little blond love … who is not such a baby anymore…she’s a big girl of 7 years old who is in her first Pantomime starting tonight!

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Hey…back on track. Traditions.

Since I’m a grown up now, living the free and single life, I’ve also started a tradition of my own… New Years in Oregon! Last year I flew out to the States on Dec 29th and stayed until the 8th January. This year I’m flying out on the 27th (because I was able book the last few work days of December off, so I can have 5 days with family and then my holiday) and I won’t be back in the UK until the 9th January 2017! I’m so excited. My friend Rachel said they had their first snow yesterday and even though it didn’t settle I am hoping there’ll be lots more to come while I’m there. (Maybe even enough to snow me in?!?!)

I should probably end here… I have tons more Christmas present wrapping to do and I’m having a Frozen movie night with my first-and-original little niecelet Emily who is 3 today!

Let’s just end by focusing back to the reason for the Season – through each part of the Christmas build up that I’m gleefully enjoying right now, all my odd and self-imposed traditions, I am trying to ensure that I focus on Jesus as the centre of my joy. I’m doing advent Bible readings, and lots of my decorations are faith-related (angels, stars, hearts – Jesus’s love, ya know – nativity scenes…) and in the midst of all the glitter, and decorations, and twinkly lights, I’m remembering the greatest Gift that was given and being oh-so-thankful that because of his Love I get to have this never-ceasing Joy. Hallelujah Amen!!

-x-

 

 

 

 

 

The importance of self-care

If you’ve ever taken a flight, you know about the safety announcement before take-off. Whether it’s a big flight with fancy screens in the seat-back in front of you, or just the stewards standing in the aisle pointing towards the exits, every flight has them. And in every announcement they say:

Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.

That’s the theme of today’s post. Self-care. As many people have told me over the years, you can’t take care of people if you aren’t taking care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t…..unless YOU come first.

It’s not an easy concept to remember. I’m getting better at it (I’m also learning there’s a fine line between self-care and self-indulgence, but that’s something to talk about another time!)

You might know I’m a social worker. I work, therefore, in a social environment. You might also know I’m an introvert, and I don’t actually like “people”. Somehow, I’ve ended up called to a profession where people fill my every day. Needy people. Demanding people. Traumatised people. Angry or sad people. Sometimes, rude people. And it’s my job to give myself to them, day in and day out, week in – week out – all the time.

Not actually ALL the time – the organisation I work for is good at establishing boundaries and ensuring that at 5pm I can switch my phone & emails off and trust that the OOH team will take care of things until morning, when I switch back on again – but that doesn’t mean that all these people don’t remain in my head, as I drive home, make dinner,  interact with more people (I have patient friends!), try and get to sleep.

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So, self-care is important and as I’ve said, it’s been a learning curve for me – trying to establish what self-care looks like is different for everyone, but here’s what it looks like for me…

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Nesting… My nest (my bed) is a very special place. On Saturdays it is not unusual to find me just hanging out here, watching tv on my tablet, listening to music, reading, or sleeping in! However I have recently imposed a ban on screens in bed. NO phone, NO tablet, after bedtime. This has majorly improved my sleep!

 

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Chai tea latte…so good.
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Gratitude reminders…I have these all round me.
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Hanging out with this babe…
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Bible study. Refocusing on Him…
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Remembering this!
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Sewing or crafty stuff. I like to make nice things, and I like the peacefulness that it requires
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Food!! I love making food for people. Not so great at remembering to cook nice things just for myself, but I love to cook generally
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A good cup of tea. Tea is so good. I know it’s quite “British” to say that, but it’s true
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Solitude. I need peace, and space. Also, this picture represents America. I need my Americans!

 

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And lastly… this guy. The sweetest (and now, squishiest and chunkiest) nephew who has stolen my heart and who I get to see in 16 days. 16 days too long…but then I get cuddles for 5 days straight. All the squishes.

 

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