“Presenting your Presence into the Present space”

That is just one of the many odd phrases I heard tonight at the most yoga-y yoga class I’ve ever taken.

Let me explain.

Heather has gone back to Northern Ireland for summer holidays, meaning I have all of my evenings without my built-company. (She is my housemate, and my friend, and I am already missing watching Homeland with her on Netflix, she’s only been gone 2 days)

Since there are a lot of evenings to fill (actually, 10) until I fly fly fly away to my friends in the States, I decided to make the most of my gym membership. I try and swim at least twice per week and then fit in one extra thing, either another swim or a class, but as I have more free evenings I figured why not use what I’m already paying for! I like to try different classes, but I rarely do the same one two weeks running.

Tonight I did a double whammy – a very intense Step class in which I sweated more than I have ever sweated in my life, but did NOT pass out (always a bonus) and followed it up with the aforementioned most yoga-y of yoga classes, in which we mostly laid on the floor and focused on sending out love and kindness and compassion and breathing in a very non-natural rhythym.

It started off with facing the back of the room, instead of the front, which threw me completely since I am a hide at the back type person, and suddenly I was completely exposed at the front (complete with sweaty workout top, hair pinned back in a highly glamorous fashion, and a purple face) Then, I had some incredibly judgy thoughts about the super-toned, perky, athletic person setting up her own pink yoga mat and (very Zen) little lamp.

Turns out she was the teacher. [And she was actually quite good, so it was naughty of me to be judgy]

She invited us to “begin the practise” by lying on our backs. There followed the most relaxing but giggle-worthy yoga “practise” I have ever done. Lots of talk of “floating our arms” to the ceiling, doing something called “releasing prana” which I definitely heard as “releasing piranha” and almost had the giggles (turns out ‘prana’ is energy – who knew), and all kinds of other fun and weird stuff….

But for all that it was weird, now I feel super chilled, and I think I may actually go back to this class šŸ™‚

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this is my week

My sister Abigail wqs admitted to hospital yesterday to have her next (and hopefully final) cancer treatment; radio iodine therapy. Fortunately she is due home tonight tomorrow as she has been in isolation since 4pm yesterday and I don’t like it. We can see her for 60 minutes each per day but as she is radioactive we have to wear the full gear you can see in the photo. Cap, face mask, apron, gloves and shoe covers. It’s boiling and uncomfortable but worth it to see Abigail.

So glad she’s due out tomorrow. All being well she will be discharged from the service by Christmas! Cancer free!

-x-

My sister has cancer

There’s a scene near the end of the film “Sweet Home Alabama” where Reese Witherspoon is ditching Patrick Dempsey at the altar. He stands there, numb, and says “So this is what this feels like”

That scene made sense to me yesterday, when my little sister Abigail (who is not so little; 19 years old and 6 ft 2) called me up after work and told me that the series of lumps she found in her neck six months ago are in fact, thyroid cancer.

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I don’t know about you, but when I hear of horrible situations happening to people I know, my mind wanders a bit and I wonder how I would cope in that situation. I wonder how I would feel.

As it turns out, there is no way to prepare for news like this, and more than 24 hours later, I still don’t know how I feel.

Today I was such a scatter brain that I managed to spill a nearly full cup of tea over myself. First thing in the morning. While wearing a white t-shirt. Idiot. The rest of the day I had the attention span of a gnat. Oh, and I almost poured boiling water over myself whilst trying to make a cup of tea later in the afternoon.

Right now, I am focusing on the things that I know – rather than the things I don’t. I’m resisting the urge to Google…once I know the official name of it, I’ll do some research but until then it would just be too weird.

Things I know
Abigail has thyroid cancer which is also affecting her lymph glands
She is having surgery to remove it on 2nd October
After that, she’ll be having radio-iodine treatment to eradicate any further cancer
God is in control

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I know that lots of people, when faced with awful situations, will rail against God and blame him. Millions of people use the fact that there is sickness and suffering in the world as an excuse not to believe in Him. Not me. I know that God is in control and He has this whole situation in hand. More than that, He’s been preparing us for this.

How?

Abigail has a friend called Jess, who earlier this year had a stroke and later found out she had leukaemia. Jess is a good friend of Abigail’s and they work together, so Abigail has seen her at her best and worst through her own illness. Jess’ consultant is called Dr Malik. Dr Malik is also Abigail’s consultant. When she was waiting for her results, Abigail sat down with Jess and Jess was very lovely and explained exactly what it’s like to have cancer. Abigail then felt reassured that she knew what she might be facing – even though none of us wanted it to be this. What an angel Jess has been.

This time last year, our family’s support network was very small. It was basically just the immediate family; eight of us, a rabbit and a dog. Yesterday when I spoke to my mum and my sister, there were about a dozen non-family people that we could think of who will help us through this – my mum’s new friends that she has met through a course she attended and a lovely friend from work, my brother-in-law’s family, our friend Penny who lives in the village… we have people.

This time two years ago my Mum and Abigail both suffered from severe depression. Both of them still have depression, but nowhere near the extent that they did before. While this has knocked us all for six (daft expression) it is not going to beat us down.

So while I do still feel unprepared for news like this; I know that God has prepared us for this – and I can, and will, turn to Him throughout this time.

Tomorrow, my sister and brother in law are driving back to Plymouth from Wales, and after work my brother and his girlfriend and I are driving down as well. We are all assembling, like the Avengers, to talk and hug and watch Disney movies. This is what we do.

Abigail has started a blog – of course – because she is a fighter and wants to document her journey. You can read more here: http://mylife-cherryblossom.tumblr.com/

There may be blog-silence for a little while. There may be blog overload for a while. I don’t know really.

But what I do know?

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

(One Thing Remains; Jesus Culture)

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Evolution of an illness

Last Week
Monday: I woke up coughing and felt a little breathless. Thought nothing of it. Should have paid attention…

Tuesday: Felt absolutely fine but a little stressed out as Panel was scheduled for Wednesday –

Wednesday: Worked until 10.40pm, in an office with no heating, justifying my work for 5 and a half hours. Got home to no hot water, so went to bed cold and very tense

Thursday: Woke up coughing and had a headache. Felt like I’d done a boxercise class – but nope. Later in the day I bit the tip of my tongue so hard it bled for 20 minutes. Not really relevant – I’ve just never bitten my tongue that hard before and didn’t know you could actually do that

Friday: The tip of my tongue was so sore I couldn’t drink tea and it was a really sad day for me

Saturday: A chilled out day, sort of had a lie-in, went to the gym, saw some friends and watched TV. Felt like Saturdays were the most superbly glorious invention ever known.

Sunday: Woke up at 6 to serve at church for 7. Had a coughing fit on the way to my car, and completely spaced out and forgot where I had parked. Walked 500 yards up the wrong road and had to turn around like a numpty and then walk back to where I’d actually parked – 50 yards from my front door. Whilst at church, ran around like I was 3 people in one, feeling super-sonic and then had a chat with a guy who said he was intimidated by my efficiency. Pretty sure this was meant to be a bad thing?

This week
Monday: A very strange day at work where I had zero motivation, really craved chips from the chip shop, and couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to a) open the filing cabinet and b) load the stapler. After work, had eaten dinner and put jammies on by 6pm and throughout the evening felt my throat get scratchier and my head start thumping. Gave up and went to bed at 8.30pm but woke up at 11pm and 3am and felt like death

Tuesday: Possibly the worst day of my career, having to deal with a very serious child protection case. Had a raging sore throat – like tonsillitis, except my tonsils were removed 3 years ago. By the evening I was coughing like someone that smokes 40-a-day and had to go to bed by 9.30pm

Wednesday – cough had progressed to sounding like I was about to cough up a lung, yet still had to supervise a young person leaving a placement. Confronted with a barrage of abuse – it’s hard to respond to being called an “f-ing *itch” when you have next to no voice and can’t breathe without hacking up a lot of gunk. (Lovely, I know) Couldn’t breathe, couldn’t swallow, had a fever and felt like I was made of lead. Call to NHS Direct resulted in a trip to the Out of Hours GP at 10pm. Seriously…10pm! I definitely debated not going to the doctor because it meant staying in regular clothes for the whole evening, and also because it feels silly going to a doctor (based at a hospital) and saying “My throat hurts and I have a cough” – however, Doctor’s words when he looked at my throat: “oh yes, that’s very nasty”, when listening to my breathing: “well it’s not supposed to rattle quite like that”, and when he took my pulse: “I don’t like the look of that”. Quickly handed a prescription for a double dose of amoxicillin and filled with confidence…more like convinced I’m gonna die of pneumonia. Only managed to get to sleep by hugging a hot water bottle to my chest and woke up at 3am not entirely certain of where I was.

Thursday: Everyone at work said I needed to go home. Everyone I spoke to on the phone asked if I was alright and then suggested their own home remedies to fix me. I didn’t go home. I went to a meeting, because if I hadn’t, we would have looked bad. Workaholic? Yes. Coughed my way through the meeting and felt thoroughly elegant, trying to discreetly hide the yucky gunk in a hanky or a tissue. Asked repeatedly if I wanted more water – could tell they all wanted to spray disinfectant so they didn’t catch my lurgy. Coughed so much it hurt in my shoulders – do you know that feeling? It’s so not pleasant. Finished work after the meeting at 3.30pm and was in jammies by 5. Discovered Otrivine spray and managed to sleep for 8 hours straight for the first time in what felt like ages.

Friday: woke up feeling a bit like a human again, until I woke up and had a coughing fit resulting in throwing up a heck of a lot of green gunk. (Sorry if you’re squeamish, but you made it this far) Unsurprisingly, felt pretty shockingly awful when I got to work but the day improved when my colleague did a run to the chip shop and I got the chips I’d craved on Monday! Also had a saveloy for the first time ever…not an experience I’ll repeat. Made it through the day feeling that I must now, officially, be a grown up – having made it through a fairly hellish week of work despite my body attacking me

Let’s hope Saturday and Sunday are good days. I plan to lie on the sofa, or in bed, and watch One Tree Hill and Gilmore Girls on DVD. Monday is a Bank Holiday and I really want to go and see Gatsby…which shall be my reward if I actually manage to rest for 2 whole days and take my antibiotics at the right time (I keep forgetting).

Off to bed now…every night this week I’ve been in bed before the sun has gone down and tonight is no exception.

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One day I will learn…

I am ill.

And it is my own fault. Sort of.

I don’t know if I have blogged about this before, but my body has its own quirky way of getting me to slow down and take rest. It’s likeĀ I have an emergency “shut off” switch somewhere inside me – when I reach a limit and have been too busy for too long, my body says STOP! REST! By way of enforcing rest upon me…my immune system decides to go on holiday and let whatever germ of the week is floating around infiltrate my body and take me hostage

For the past four and a half months I’ve been working mainly on Form F assessments – the process by which people become foster carers. I have never done more than 1 Form F at a time – but since January I have been working with 5 prospective foster carers. Form Fs are intense pieces of work – you ask deeply personal questions about the applicants’ childhoods and life experiences and have to draw out any insights into how they will respond to challenging situations with vulnerable children.

On Wednesday last week I took three of my fiveĀ applicants to Panel, where I was questioned about whether I thought they would be good foster carers. They were all approved…after 5 and a half hours of me being grilled!

Since then though, I’ve felt so weary and awful. I feel like over the past 4 1/2 months I have used more than my allocated energy supply, and I need to catch up again. I definitely had no enthusiasm at the end of last week, and yesterday I started feeling ill. Properly ill. Raging sore throat, hacking cough, thumping headacheĀ and trouble breathing type ill.

On top of which, today I probably had one of the worst and most horrific days of my career and I generally just want to curl up in bed and sleep for several days. Preferably through til Friday, so I can wake up and feel well and enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend?

Not an option though. Work calls. However, experience tells me that unless I do actually stop and rest, I will take ages to get better. I’ll have a lingering cough, repetitive headaches and just generally feel meh (technical term) for weeks, rather than days. Common sense says take a sick day – but I just can’t. There is too much to manage and if I were to be absent, things wouldn’t get done. It sounds big-headed but it’s true – in a small company, everyone is needed and valuable.

So, I have to persevere and just wait for the weekend. I have no plans…just to rest. I am unbelievably excited…in an understated, can’t breathe without coughing, can’t cough without hurting, type way.

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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…

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Catch up…

Seems I took a little blogging break for a while. Apologies. In my defense, I was a poorly little chicken and whilst I’m sure hearing about all my ills would have been greatly entertaining for some, the thought of spending more than 5 minutes at a time staring at a bright computer screen was enough to send me back to bed!

I’m almost better now, though. I don’t really know what happened, or how a simple cold for any normal person ends up knocking me out for over a week but oh well.

What have I been up to, I hear you ask?! Not a great deal, to be truthful. Mostly work, and being ill!

It was Jessica’s 2nd birthday last Thursday, so I had a few days leave booked so I could go home for the party. Conveniently that coincided with my most poorly time, so I was able to be at home with my lovely mum who makes me cups of tea (which I’d always forget to drink) and gets up in the night when she hears me coughing to give me medicine šŸ™‚ What a dear.

Jessica can say my name now, which fills me with a ridiculous amount of joy! She was very cute at her party and I took her out for the morning the day after (we went for lunch with Abigail and it was lots of fun) She had lots of presents but was more interested in the balloons!!

 

 

I came back home on Tuesday and was back at work on Wednesday, and so other than working I honestly haven’t done a great deal. Two of the girls I disciple came round for dinner on Friday night and we had a good catch up and some prayer and generally a lovely time.

Then yesterday, Nancie (one of the girls) and I went to the Marlowe Theatre to see Cirque Eloize which is a troupe of French circus type artists. They were amazing, but also a little bit weird in placed – one act was “hand to hand” where a guy and girl did loads of acrobatics stuff together and some of it was oddly sexual and Nancie and I thought it was just a little bit too much, and then there was a scarily flexible girl who did contortions and that was a bit gross really. She kind of delighted in getting the crowd to go “eugh” when she dislocated herself. She did do the fun twirly aero-acrobatics on the ribbons though, that was cool.

The best bit was when a group of them did the “trampo-wall” which was basically throwing themselves off the set wall and bouncing on a trampoline then flinging themselves up to stand/sit/lie on the wall again. It was a good show overally but next time I go to the Marlowe I shall get different seats as we couldn’t see the whole stage.

Yesterday turned out to be full of culture as Rosie and I and her dad went to see the Soweto Gospel Choir in the evening, though that was a lit of a letdown because although it was an amazing sound, the concert was in the Cathedral so literally only the first 10 rows could see anything! Everyone came out looking as miserable as they’d gone in and complaining that there’s no point going to see a Gospel Choir when you can’t see how joyful they are. Which is totally true.

It’s been a nice weekend really. I loved being at church again, though I managed to go to two services and not sit in for either preach (creche on the first service and chatting with a friend through the second). I’ll listen to it online tomorrow, I have quite a few to catch up on so I’m going to have a peaceful day at home (in between my physio session and attempting to give blood) and listen to them all.

Tonight I’m out to the pub for a few hours, then home to watch Downton Abbey šŸ™‚

Today is one of those days when I really like my life

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