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-

 

 

 

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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…

-x-

Ups downs and middles

This has been a very up and down week. I don’t think I’ve liked it much! There have been some really bad points (Monday) and some really good points (Tuesday prayer time!) so essentially it’s equalled out to an ‘ok’ week, but I’m so ready for it to be over.

I just don’t think I’ve caught up from last week – we had a case going to court last Friday and didn’t have our notes sorted, so my colleague and I spent all day Wednesday, all day Thursday and then 4 hours on Thursday evening trying to get caught up. We didn’t manage it, though it was ok because they weren’t needed as urgently as we’d been led to believe. Not frustrating at all…

We could not have been more annoyed really. Me especially, since I cancelled all my other work on Wednesday and Thursday as well as not going to Small Group on Thursday night to get it all done.

The positive side of it all is that we do now have a handle on it, so are prepared for when the notes are required…but unfortunately it means that this whole week I have been playing catch up – against myself!

I wrote my to-do list yesterday…17 items. Over the day I completed 12, but added another 9. Today I finished all but two of them, which felt very impressive even for me. I just now feel completely exhausted…the weekend cannot come soon enough!

In other news, one of my foster carers might have TB and is in hospital…cue frantic call to Mum to confirm that I was vaccinated (her response: “have you got a BCG scar?” Me: “yes.” Her: “then yes, you’re vaccinated”) and panicked Googling of symptoms/contagious-ness of TB to check that the vaccine doesn’t run out or stop working…we were all on high alert!!

If he has it, I may need to be tested since I work closely with the family and am considered high risk as I’m quite immunosuppresed – but that’s all just another adventure that I’ll take if it happens.

Roll on Saturday…just need to cope through tomorrow first.

-x-

 

Fabric Flower Tutorial

I’ve fallen in love with this really simple way of making pretty flowers out of scraps of fabric.

It involves minimal sewing (basic running stitches only) and the whole flower takes less than an hour to complete. Perfect little task for when you’ve an hour to spare.

You only need:

6 rectangles of fabric…matching or contrasting, you can use anything. For this flower I used a pink fabric with multicoloured spots, but have also made one using two different florals, and another using 6 completely different fabrics. It really depends what you have available, and if you want to match/contrast to an item of clothing or something like that.

Anyway, six rectangles. They can be any size, as long as the short end is 1/2 the long end. (e.g. 3 inches x 6 inches) This is because the first step is to fold the rectangles and sew along one side, at right angles to the fold:

The next step is to cut a curve, from the bottom of the stitched seam, to the diagonally opposite corner on the fold. Like so…

A tip to make sure your curves are all the same is to cut one, then use it as a template for the others. They won’t be exactly identical, but they need to be as close to identical as possible so that there is uniformity in the petals.

Next turn your squares inside out, and ensure that where your seam meets the fold, there is a clean corner.

Here comes the fun, and only tricky bit. You need a strong thread for this – I use regular cotton but doubled over for extra hold. Tie a knot in the end of the threat, and sew a loose running stitch through the petals, ensuring that the start of one petal overlaps onto the end of the one previous.

I was so involved in this step that I didn’t get a photo, but the aim is to have all the petals along the thread. You want as few stitches as possible, so that the petals pleat easily when you pull the thread through and scrunch them down.

They should all just come together neatly in the centre, though on all mine I’ve done some oversewing on the back. On the front you don’t need to be so neat, since you can fix a button over the section where all the petals meet.

And there you have a 1 hour fabric flower. I’ve turned mine into hair accessories (sew on an elastic hair band, or fix a hair grip in place with a few stiches to make a slide in accessory) or corsages by fixing a length of ribbon to the back of the flower (ensuring the stitches are halfway through the length of the ribbon). You can also purchase brooch backs from craft stores/online, if you’re a brooch kind of person.

I think they’re really cute and they’re so simple, making use of the scraps which you keep for “that project one day”!

-x-

 

Today’s productivity

Read my Bible

Did 40 laps in the pool

Returned some clothes to the store

Recycled about twenty assorted jars and bottles (I love the sound as they smash in the jar-bank)

Went to Physio and let the therapist manipulate my neck so much it made me nauseous 😦

Spent far too many minutes in traffic around the Wincheap roundabout – it makes me grit my teeth when I know I have to sit through that every.single.time I have to go anywhere!

Made a lime yoghurt cake (see below!) … to be honest I was rather sceptical about how yoghurt could possibly work in a cake (it substitutes the butter, has a fair amount of flour and also has ground almonds) It made a rather thick, clumpy kind of batter so I was worried it’d gone wrong! But, it smelt lovely in the oven and now it looks very delicious. Do you agree?!

Yummy yummy

I haven’t tasted it yet, but I just spent a ridiculous amount of time making a sugar syrup to put on the top, and so I have to let that sink through the cake to get it all limey. I’m hoping I like it, otherwiseI spent a silly amount of time on it.

Also today I watched two of the preaches in the most recent series from church, which I missed due to being away. I also missed this Sunday’s preach, though I was at church for both services!
Right now I am off to Westgate Hall to try and give blood…last time they wouldn’t let me as my iron levels were too low (by 3 points, sucky) so I’m hoping they’re back up again today as if you go three times and they can’t take it, you’re not allowed to go again 😦 And it costs the NHS every time they test your levels so I don’t want to waste their money!

Following that, I am going to return my library books and get new ones, then I will come home and hoover and probably have a cup of tea before I go and collect Rachel and Hannah from school.

Fun stuff 🙂

-x-

 

As from today, I shall be Miss Productive…

Since having Mondays off (for the first time in, I think, forever) I have realised that I actually squander these days unnecessarily. Most likely it’s because I am not used to this level of freedom – there has always been something to do, or somewhere to go, so when

MOMENTARY HIATUS IN TYPING…DUE TO THE GIGANTIC SPIDER WHICH JUST RAN ACROSS THE LIVING ROOM!

I tried to throw the tv doofah at it, but it jumped (LITERALLY JUMPED) and ran away. Rosie isn’t here to save me, so now I am sitting tensely on the sofa convinced that the killer arachnid is going to climb up the back of the sofa and freak the heck out of me. Eek.

…As I was saying: when I started having Mondays off I ended up just wasting them because I didn’t need to do anything. This then left me really lethargic at the end of the day and feeling like I needed to do something energetic because I had just bummed around for the day. Monday before last I actually went for a real life RUN because I had so much energy I needed to get rid of!!

Which brings me to the point:

As from today, I will be productive with my day off. Not in a “get chores done” type way – cleaning and laundry etc will be reserved for Saturdays, like normal. But Mondays will be my day for spending time with people who I don’t always get to see, reading (and not restricting myself to a chapter here or there, but however much I would like to read), exercise, and generally getting things done.

Today I:

read day 12 of the Bible in a Year (in this installment, Jacob and Esau were born and foolish Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew, whilst Jesus told us not to worry because we are more cared for than the sparrows, and also we were encouraged to value Wisdom)

– went swimming (and paid £4.00 for the privilege! However, I calculated that this is 20p per lap, which doesn’t feel that much and just means I need to do more laps next week to make it cheaper)

– met up with the lovely Laura Cross and had a superbly long chat about all things Impact, as she’s just started her year with City

– went to the Library, and got some new books to read

– read half of the first book!

– made biscuit dough

– went to pick up the delightful Strandvik girls from school, brought them home to mine to make biscuits and watch Disney Sing-along Songs, then..

– went to pick up the youngest delightful Strandvik girlie from Nursery and took all three of them home to have supper and play hairdressers. I was the model and had the most attractive new style when Gustav, their dad, came home. I helped do bathtime for the girls, then came home for my dinner

– right now I am watching Corrie (having already watched Emmerdale) while my butternut squash and parsnip chips are cooking. (Part of my healthier lunch plan – healthier in that I plan to actually take lunch to work)

All in all, a fabulous day, I think.

-x-

Bank Holiday Weekend

It’s the last Bank Holiday Weekend of the year…except for me it’s now just like any regular weekend, since I no longer work Mondays (whoop!!!!). Actually, saying that, it isn’t like any regular weekend…I am “on-call” for work this week, which usually runs from end of office hours on Monday (i.e 5pm Monday) to the beginning of office hours the following Monday (9am). However, due to the Bank Holiday, the office will be shut so any emergencies etc will be reported to me. So in essence, being on-call the week of a Bank Holiday means I am in effect, working whilst the majority of others are not…I feel this is an error.

Oh well. Here’s hoping that the kiddos will behave and no-one will decide to kick off or run off or have an arm fall off (I needed another scenario with “off” in it…that has actually never happened and I’d be very upset if it did!)

Rambling about work isn’t the purpose of this post. Oh no…not today 🙂 Today’s post is about two things…DIY and baking. The latter of which I happen to LOVE, the former…not so much.

HOWEVER…you may remember I gleefully posted about my newly purchased wardrobe a little while ago. Well, it was delivered on Friday (by two surly delivery-men who had neglected to read my delivery instructions which clearly stated “delivery required above ground floor” and were stroppy with Rosie who kindly waited in for me) and so the lovely Tasha and I spent three (yes, only three!!) hours assembling it yesterday.

Of course I had to photograph the occasion…

Old wardrobe...came apart scarily quickly...
Wonderful Tasha...such a help, and a D.I.Y MASTER!!!!

 

So many pieces...

 

Finished product...we were proud, and my things will fit in, woohoo

 

I haad to include the last one…Tasha asked so nicely for a hammer, and then was directed to my (very flowery) toolbox, to find a VERY pink and VERY flowery hammer. I think she nearly wet herself laughing. And was not impressed. I, on the other hand, love my tools. The pattern makes no difference to its’ effectiveness, and it adds a touch of hilarity when others (e.g. Tasha, or firemen) need to use my tools. Hehe.

So that was what I did on Saturday afternoon. In the evening Rosie and I went mulberry foraging (yes, really) up at the University and had a wonderful time getting all berry-stained; the berries are very juicy when ripe and at many points it did look like I’d had an unfortunate accident…juice dripping down my hand looked scarily like blood. We figure that’s where the phrase “caught red-handed” came from.

In addition, it turns out that mulberry bushes (as in the nursery rhyme: ‘here we go round the mulberry bush’) are actually more like trees.  Sadly I forgot my camera, so no pictures of our little escapade…which is a shame, since for the majority of the foraging I was in fact halfway up the tree. In my defense that’s where the most ripe ones are, and you’re looking at a girl who spent a vast majority of her childhood on Dartmoor with her nana, being encouraged (read: forced) to climb trees and massive rock formations. I am fearless.

Moving on. After the mulberries we went to see The First Grader, at the Gulbenkian (the cinema on UKC campus) which was a brilliant film. There may have been some wetness in the eye areas at several points, but it was also funny too. Heartbreaking and heartwarming, and also very enlightening. I’d recommend it, though there are some quite violent parts so it’s definitely not suitable for younger ones, or those who can’t stomach violence (like me).

Which brings us to today!! My first time back at City since finishing Impact (4 weeks ago) and I had agreed to serve on creche since a friend couldn’t. I got to spend a lovely hour or so playing with gorgeous children and chatting with mums from church, so it was great. It was so good to be back at church for worship, and I’m not gonna lie, it was so wonderful to just rock up at 10.15 and leave at 12.30!

This afternoon I went to The Range (new superstore in Canterbury) to get some new storage boxes for in my wardrobe (also managed to pick up a bar of chocolate and a lightshade) then I came home and watched a movie (read: napped) and theeeeeen I made this beautiful creation:

MULBERRY PIE!!!! (and cinnamon crunch things made using the leftover pastry since I hate waste)

** Now, the observant among you may have noticed that my blog has become much more photo-friendly in the recent month or so. This would be because I have recently acquired a new camera, and after going most of my University years without one, I am catching up now by photographing pretty much everything. I hope that’s not a problem. If it is, tough…it’s my blog so nerrrrr.

Gosh, I’m so mature it scares me.

My point being: I took photos of my baking too, so here are some for your perusal…

Mulberries…which, for future reference, attract every.single.fly in the greater Canterbury area. Thankfully I have a swatter for such occasions, but be careful because you don’t want mulberry and fly pie. Ick.

Check out how neat my lattice strips are! I didn’t use a ruler or anything…though it definitely crossed my mind.

Ready to go in the oven…and you’ve seen the finished product already, so to finish this post (which has been startlingly long, sorry!) I’ll leave you with a photo of the cheeky little trinkets that Rosie brought back from her holiday at the end of July…

-x-