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.

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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.

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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-

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

-x-

The long-awaited Holiday Photos

Here are some highlights – my favourite things:

Time on the deck. My friends live in a forest, surrounded by these really tall trees and they have a great deck at the back of the house with twinkle lights, and a hammock, and stunningly peaceful views. I saw deer virtually every day. Real live deer – we’re talking Bambi and his mumma. Amazing. I loved hanging out here. Rachel and I had some of our best talks out on the deck and I have decided I definitely need me a deck one day.

Speaking of the deck…it was also the place for:

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Fire pit s’mores! This was on my last night. David and Rachel went out to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary so Blake made a fire and we sat round with the kids making these absolutely ridiculous and totally American treats. (The top centre picture is my taste test comparison between American Hershey’s and British Dairy Milk chocolate…Hershey’s won for melt-ability but Dairy Milk won for taste)

Fire Pit shenanigans however led to…

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A visit from the Corvallis Fire Department!! Fortunately David and Rachel were back by this time, but absolutely no kidding, real fire fighters came to the house. One minute we’re all in the kitchen catching up and telling them about our chocolate comparisons, the next Elijah comes in to tell us that there is a Fire Truck on the driveway! No fewer than 3 Fire Fighters came to check out our fire pit, since we had not realised there was a Burn Ban due to the dry weather and fire risk. (They said our fire was totally fine, and gave us stickers then left)

The photos above are from a spontaneous and random trip that David and I took down the mountain after the fire-fighters had left, and we realised that we missed a photo opportunity!  They were completely willing to oblige and even let me sit in the truck. As a fire-fighter’s daughter, it’s not my first fire-engine-sitting-experience, but it was very cool. I also liked my sticker and I’ve kept it “somewhere safe” (that means I can’t remember where I’ve put it)

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Rummikub!! Rachel and Alicia taught me to play on Sunday afternoon. We were total Grandmas, sat there all cosy in our slouchy clothes, drinking Gin and Tonic (which I have discovered I really like – thank you Alicia – just talking about life and playing Rummikub for hours. So much fun. We played so many times over the rest of my trip and I am on the look-out to buy it for home. Ebay here I come.

Never fear though, I am not a total Grandma yet… and to prove it, here’s the wild and slightly rebellious thing I did while I was away!

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Yes, it’s a real tattoo – done by a real tattoo’d, scary-looking [but not even slightly scary] Biker tattoo artist man. His name is Joey and he was so cool, while he was ‘inking me’ he talked us into helping with a ‘charity’ project to bless a local lady whose husband had recently died. Such a genuinely nice guy.

But my tattoo… it seemed very spontaneous to everyone back home but I had actually been planning this since June when Rachel and Alicia got their tattoos. I have almost always been against tattoos, mostly because I have never really seen one I liked, but when Rachel suggested that I get one on my next visit, I said yes! I knew virtually right away what I wanted to get, and where I wanted it. I took it as a sign from God that it was a good thing to do. I was completely sure and certain. I just told David & Rachel not to tell me what day we were going for me to get it done as I was worried I’d freak out and flake out and I did honestly really want to get this done.

So, one day we went out for lunch (where Rachel and I had the most amazing salads and I have it on my list to make it one day) Rachel asked me if I was ready to go get my tattoo and off we went. To my surprise, I didn’t a) throw up b) faint c) swear. It did hurt, but in a way I hadn’t expected (i.e. less, rather than more) and it only took about 3 minutes since it’s teensy.

1 month on and I still love it and every time I look at my wrist I feel joy. It’s a good thing.

Here’s something else that makes me feel joy… but because I look totally goofy.

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This is my face before and after dropping a crayfish on my foot. A crayfish which I caught. With barbecue tongs (pictured) because I could only use my left hand since I needed to keep my newly tattooed right hand out of the river.

Explanation: We went crayfishing about an hour away from Corvallis, to celebrate David’s birthday. It’s a total hick thing to do (his words) but I loved it! We had two cars full of people (yay girl car vs guy car) and about 10 other people drove up to join us for the afternoon. I spent a lot of the afternoon floating in a rubber ring, tied to Alicia and my fun new American friend Anne, but at the same time I really wanted to catch my own crayfish so before we left I went hunting and managed it! Then, during the photo-for-posterity moment, the little blighter escaped and of course, Rachel managed to snap this completely wonderful photo of my face!!

(Her friend Vera caught this snap, which I much prefer…)

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What else did we do…….. we watched a lot of the Olympics, although the US commentary is not the same as the UK. It’s just not good – many adverts and they only seemed to show events that the USA was going to win. Not sportsman-like in my humble opinion.

There was a lot of colouring going on- these lovely girls can COLOUR. Some of my best mornings were chilling with them, colouring and listening to them share about their sweet and lovely little lives.

This trip was so fun, I really enjoyed spending time with my friends, getting to know more or their friends, relaxing so hard that I completely forgot how to do my job when I got home, and I can’t wait to go back!

-x-

The 2016 Holiday Blog…part 1

It’s that time again…I have returned from my summer holiday to the grand ol’ state of Oregon, USA, and that means photos for you! First though I’ve got to tell you about the RIDICULOUSLY stressful journey to get there, so holiday photos to follow in part 2…

It was a Thursday… a reasonable kind of day. My lovely friend Emma dropped me at the coach station at a quite ungodly hour (5.30am) and the journey seemed to be going fine (i.e. I lay down and went to sleep for an hour) until we got near to central London, when the coach. just. stopped. And didn’t move for about 10 minutes.

Eventually the driver got out to see what was happening, and came back to tell us that up ahead was an accident between a bus and a motorbike – and so the road was closed in all directions and traffic was being turned around. At this point, everyone who needed to transfer at Victoria Coach Station and head on to airports started to have a slight panic. Me too. Internally.

We were opposite New Cross Gate station, and the driver said our best bet of getting into London was to try and catch a train. So that’s what we did. About 6 of us, with all our luggage, annoyed the ticket man by asking the same questions, buying a £3.30 ticket to Victoria Rail Station and then darting off before sharing the info with the person behind us!

On the platform waiting for the train though, I made a new friend! We got chatting, continued chatting on the train, and then on our mad dash from the Rail station to the Coach station. It turns out that she (Sophie) is also a Christian and was going to New York (cue jealousy) to go to the wedding of a friend she met at David Wilkerson’s Bible School. [He’s quite a big deal Christian and wrote some awesome books, including The Cross and The Switchblade, which I’ve read) Sophie is now back living about 1/2 hour away from me so we’ve exchanged numbers, and I hope we’ll get to meet up soon.

Anyway, we were at Victoria Coach Station. Let’s continue, because it is NOT plain sailing from there.

I should say at this point that my flight was at 11am, and my check-in closed at 10am. With my carefully laid out plans, I should have arrived at Heathrow at 9am…

New friend Sophie and I arrived at the Coach station at, fortunately in time for her to catch her coach to Gatwick but too late for mine. The ticket person was very helpful and said I could switch to the next coach, but that wasn’t leaving until 9am. I tried not to panic, but sent several panicky Whatsapp messages to friends asking that they pray, while I tried (ultimately in vain) to do the check-in online.

Turned out, the airline had decided my name is SarahBethMis which of course I did NOT try to enter in the little box, which meant all attempts to check in failed. I just had to trust that the coach would get me to Heathrow before my check-in closed…

Well, in this journey NOTHING could run smooth. When I tried to get on the new coach, the driver said I needed a stamp on my original ticket. No-one had told me that, so I spent 3 minutes trying to find the stamp-person, only for the driver to not even LOOK at the stamped ticket when I went back to the coach. Then, the coach itself was 11 minutes late leaving the station because a family arrived last minute with about seventy gazillion suitcases to be loaded on. (Of course, they only had 14 suitcases really but that is a LOT of suitcases to just turn up with at the very last minute)

Onwards…on the coach. Still trying to check in. Failing to check in. Praying. Looking on google maps for “distance time Victoria Rail Heathrow” “how long Heathrow bus to terminal 3” (10 minutes, remember that). Praying some more. Trying again to check in. Eventually giving up. Praying even more.

Remember I said that check-in closed at 10am, and it takes 10 minutes to walk between the station and terminal? Well, I arrived at the bus station at 9.48am…

So, 12 minutes to go.

2 minutes taken up by crazy big family getting their 14 suitcases from the coach hold which were in front of mine, and then checking the departures board to make sure I actually was heading to the right terminal

2 minutes careening the luggage trolley in the direction of the lift, only to find I was actually at the stairs (not possible with a huge suitcase and a carry-on suitcase)

1 minutes careening even quicker back to where the lifts actually were, and then 1 minute waiting for the blasted thing to arrive

5 minutes running faster than I ever have run before, barely even breathing and certain I was going to pass out at the other end.

9.58am, I joined the check-in queue…………….

9.59am, I realised that the people in front of me where in no rush and in fact were being flipping awkward,

9.59 and 30 seconds, I jumped in front of the woman next to me and begged the check-in lady to do mine first, apologising profusely to the lady whose turn it was next and I think I may have called her an angel when she smiled and said “sure, you go”

10am – the amazing check-in lady confirmed I was checked in. Fastest check in I’ve ever had. Luggage sent off down the conveyer belt with a label saying “rush” (huh, no kidding). It was at this point I realised that Colin Jackson (athlete) and Suzanne Packer (his sister, an actress) were at the check-in desk just next door. If I hadn’t been so frazzled I’d have asked for an autograph but in all honesty I thought I might die so I just took my little self off through the Security checks.

The screen in security (helpfully) told me to go straight to my gate, so cue some very fast walking – blatantly ignoring all the duty free, but quickly buying a travel adapter plug (I have one, somewhere, in a safe place, but couldn’t find it when I packed!!) and rush rush rushing to my gate, where everyone else (it seemed) had already boarded.

The lovely attendant told me I had a few minutes so I bought a bottle of water, tried to calm down a bit, and then boarded…at 10.30am.

It was only at this point that I called my mum and let her know the drama, I knew she’d worry if I’d told her about it earlier on, before it was all resolved – but I figured out, I was sitting on the plane now, we were leaving in half an hour, what could happen?

Oh oh oh, what could happen.

2 and a half hours later we were finally taking off. We left the gate on time, taxi’d to the runway, and then got taxi’d back. Little murmurs went round about passengers being taken off the plane, or being added to the plane… complimentary bottles of water were brought round, the entertainment was switched on (to keep us occupied) and the pilot gave us updates every so often.

FINALLY at 12.50pm the pilot said we were cleared to go, and we actually took off at 1pm. 2 hours late.

Later when I took a wander around the plane I heard the flight attendants talking about some idiot who had snuck a cat (AN ACTUAL CAT) onto the plane, which was the cause of the delay because, did you know, you cannot take a cat on a plane!

The flight itself was fine…9 hours 55 minutes, very long, but the food service was fine, I watched lots of films, I was even reasonably comfortable (practically unheard of) – but 2 extra hours at Heathrow meant that we were late landing at Seattle, but yay for the airline they had already sorted out new connecting flights for anyone (like me) who had missed their planned one. That was nice. It still took ages to sort out, but it was a nice effort.

I was able to keep in touch with Rachel thanks to Facebook, and let them know I’d have to get a later bus from Portland to Corvallis…however, after my quick connection between Seattle and Portland, I got out to the bus terminal and my ACTUAL bus (that I’d booked onto) was only just arriving there, because it had been stuck in loads of traffic! So no drama rebooking, just hopped straight on, was given more free water by the driver (I probably looked like death) and it was onwards to Corvallis.

Lovely, sunny, relaxing, wonderful Corvallis. David picked me up from the bus stop (at a hotel) and took me back to their house, where I promptly had a cup of tea, sitting on their deck, and talked about Brexit.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the most crazy and shambolic journey I have ever had to get to my friends.

Fortunately, the two weeks that followed were wonderful – but that is a blog for another day

-x-

 

 

 

 

 

Nephew approaching…

My sister and brother-in-law are expecting a baby boy in May… eek! This weekend was Rebecca’s baby shower, and as such I did a totally mad dash down to Devon so I could be there. 10 hours driving (5 hours each way) for 19 hours of family time, but it was worth it!

I had a Ladies Conference at church on the Saturday morning, which I had committed to doing the decor for months ago, which meant I couldn’t leave Canterbury until 3pm. I got to Mum’s at 8pm, surprising Rebecca, Simeon and Abigail who were all there and who all had ZERO idea that I was coming. My mum has devious stealth secret keeping skills.

The actual shower wasn’t until 3pm on Sunday so I had a chilled out Sunday morning at home – walked the dog in the countryside, it was bright and sunny and WARM (no coat needed!) and then made scones for the party.

We had so much fun… littlest auntie Jessica loved being centre of the attention nd helped with leading all of the games. She is excited about the bay, although woe betide you if you call her Auntie to her face … being an auntie at 6 years old is apparently pretty overwhelming so she has decided to be his “special friend” instead.

This is just a quick post to share some photos… Rebecca’s friend Bethan and our sister Abigail did an amazing job with planning and I think everyone had a really good time, even if the games were a bit mental (toilet paper nappies and baby food tasting, bleh)

-x-

Care, comfort, change, and accomplishments

Hi, and welcome to Spring 2016 at the blog ☺ It’s been a while, again, but I know you* don’t mind. (*Whoever you are)

The first few months of 2016 have been a mixed bag but it’s all on the up now. 2016 is the year I will turn 27 and this has caused no end of consternation in me, the girl who has emotionally been thirty since she was 13 but now seems to have evened out in some strange Benjamin Button-esque manner. The idea of TWENTY SEVEN, looming several months ahead, struck me with a horrible sense of impending doom at the end of last year and I felt a bit like life had strolled past me, leaving me in a monotonous and uninspiring day to day, week to week existence and if I didn’t DO SOMETHING BIG very soon it would all be wasted. (“It” being, I don’t know, life?)

But then.. I had the most amazing restful holiday with my fabulous friends in Oregon and got a little perspective on things. More accurately I had some deep and meaningful discussions with my super brother & sister in Christ and God did the rest… And I realised, I’m ONLY 26…that’s still young! And life can be as exciting or as monotonous as I choose (within reason)

And thus, my 2016 began in Oregon with great passion and plans whilst I was enjoying freezing temperatures, lots of games, dance parties, hikes through the woods, delicious food, open fires and reading Anne of Green Gables to my heart’s content. Best of all were the plentiful cuddles with these beauties!

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Then, back to earth with a bump – I got back to work on the 11th January and discovered Ofsted were coming! Panic! Or not – amazingly I didn’t feel stressed or worried  at all, in fact I was quite floaty and blasé about the whole thing.

The actual week of Ofsted started well and ended outstandingly (wink wink) but the middle of it wasn’t quite so nice, (I’m not going into that though)  and that sparked off what I could only describe as a PTSD setback, if that is such a thing… Let’s just say that on the Friday evening after we heard our feedback I came home, put my pyjamas on and got into bed…and stayed there for the next 18 hours, only getting up for half an hour when our Chinese takeaway came and then going straight back to bed after! 

It took a little while to get my confidence back as it was well and truly battered and I had to spend a lot of time taking care of myself. One thing having PTSD has taught me is that it is vital to take good and proper care of yourself if you have any hope of being able to care for others.

For me, taking care if myself involved creating a calm and peaceful space (with fairy lughts) where I could spend my free time curled up watching Netflix or reading, or sleeping!

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It may seem very self-indulgent, but actually it was very important self-care. I definitely needed rest, emotionally and physically – PTSD is actually so physically draining that just doing a day’s work made me want to sleep for a week! I saw this on Pinterest and I felt it was SO applicable for that time –

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In the midst of it though, there were good new things going on, lots of change and new adventure … And doing some journalling helped me realise that. I’d forgotten the power of writing (hence this sad and neglected blog of mine)

‘But what good new things?’ I hear you ask… Well, let me tell you that I have actually been quite the adventurous social butterfly since January!

I have joined a choir, and I have been doing an aerial yoga class, AND I have joined a new small group! Such excitement and very bold for someone who doesn’t really like change, or meeting new people… 😆

Our choir is very small but steady, and I have really enjoyed the last few months (since January) being able to sing again, learning to read music (but only a little) and I am very proud of myself for being brave and going along in the first place.

I am even more proud of my new aerial yoga skills though! Such a weird and wonderful discipline,; aerial yoga is yoga with a large sling type piece of fabric suspended from the ceiling which supports your weight and enables you to do wonderful acrobatic type things…

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*none of those photos are of me… But thanks though Google*

And the new small group is the biggest change of all, but I think it has been the best. It has been challenging, since I was in the other group for 7-8 years and they are family to me now ..but it has also really helped strengthen my prayer life and relationship with God, and I’m enjoying building new relationships with the people in this group which was something I’d worried I’d struggle with.

So really, there have been good things alongside the bad things and those good things have made the bad things truly bearable. Fortunately the bad is all resolved and I feel so much better having dealt with it with support from management (and colleagues) instead of the condemnation and guilt which I would have faced been in my old job.

Other (additional) good things have been rekindling my interest in personal fitness – with the incentive that my gym membership is expensive and if I don’t go regularly I may as well throw money down the drain, lots of reading on my tablet (although who knew there were ELEVEN stories in the Anne of Green Gables series?! 2500+ pages!! I’m in the 1900s now … Lots of reading.

Also I just had a lovely weekend with Mum, in which we went to see The Railway Children at the beautiful viuntage styled Kings Cross Theatre, ate lots of cakes and scones, had quality 1-1 time…and in which I finally learned to crochet! More accomplishments ☺I was very VERY slow and inept at first but rather than give up (as I have so many times before) I actually kept going and have now achieved a very beautiful blue and white striped blanket for my best friend’s first baby who will arrive imminently. My mum is crocheting enough blankets for a little nephew army, even though my sister is most certainly only having the one child thus time round… But no doubt I’ll make my little nephew something next. 

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Well, there you have it, you’re well and truly caught up on my 2016 as it has been so far. Hopefully the extended absence makes sense now that you know what an exciting life this 26 1\2, year old is leading!!

Until next time…

-x-

On being an introvert

Some time ago… Over 2 years ago in fact, I posted about being an “ISFJ” personality type. You can read that post here if you like but for simplicity…

ISFJ stands for Introverted – Sensing – Feeling – Judging

I feel like the past 2+ years have been a real journey of finding out who I am, and what that means for me. Identity is a big *thing* for Christians, and while I know completely and wholeheartedly that my identity is in Him, my character which I believe is God-inspired but nonetheless shaped by relationships and experiences, is far more perplexing to me.

The concept of being an “introvert” was something I struggled to get a real handle on…I don’t know why but I felt that it had some kind of negative connotation and that made me uncomfortable.

However, and here’s the thing, I am so totally an introvert and accepting (even embracing!) that has been truly freeing for me.

Let me explain by bringing it back to my September 2013 blog post and this description of ISFJ personality types…

“Introverted Sensing personality types are dependable, reliable and trustworthy. They like to belong to solid organisations that are reasonable in their ambitions and loyal to their employees. They feel useful when their roles and responsibilities are clearly established and they can monitor their activities and productivity in tangible ways. They tend to be rather modest, traditional and conventional, to like sensible clothing, to be thrifty, careful and wise with both money and possessions”

The bit about ” sensible clothing” stll makes me laugh, but I know its totally true!

The main point here though is that, as you will know if you have followed any of my sporadic writings in the last few years, my previous employment situation was less than stellar. The weird thing about the above paragraph is that I wrote that a whole month before things started going far, far south at my old work…and yet I highlighted the section about “solid organisations…reasonable ambitions…loyal to employees”

If you know me ‘in real life’ or even if you have read this post you will know that my old place of work was the opposite of what I needed as an ISFJ.

Praise the Lord after working with my current organisation for 10 1/2 months (where has the time gone?) I can honestly say that statement completely applies to their management and leadership style, which enables me to not only do my job but to feel encouraged and supported to do it well…instead of feeling crippled with fear and anxiety! Yay for that. Moving on…

“They tend to like to stay in one neighbourhood, often choosing to live close to where they were themselves raised.  They may keep possessions for a lifetime and treasure those that were given to them.”

Oh how I wish I could stay in one neighbourhood! Hilariously (or not quite so) I have moved house TWICE since writing the original ISFJ post… Twice! This latest time really sucked. Even though I was totally on board and it went smoothly for all intents and purposes, it really drained me emotionally to have to pack up, move, unpack, resettle, make a home…for the fourteenth time in 26 years.

This one hit me harder than most and its hard to pinpoint why…but if you also read the section in the paragraph that says “They may keep possessions for a lifetime and treasure those that were given to them” maybe it makes more sense? For one such as I, who holds things deeply in her heart and firmly attaches memory and emotion to things – objects and places – the process of regular house moves is a real wrench.

Although admittedly I don’t live anywhere near where I was raised, haven’t done so for 8 years, I think there is a significant part of me that ties Canterbury to my “growing up” years, going from teen to young lady to fully-fledged independent grown up (supposedly) and I cannot contemplate being away from the place, and more importantly the people within that place, that made me who I am.

(And who I am is pretty great, dontcha know)

They tend to have a good memory for specific facts that are necessary in their day-to-day life at work and at home. They accumulate facts and details to orient themselves, relying on repeated experiences that have been proven trustworthy.”

This part of my personality had real significance when it came to my PTSD recovery. That’s something I haven’t really talked about with many people, with anyone actually (psst, I’m an introvert?!) But, in my times of extreme anxiety I developed some impressive strategies to manage, and this often involved recalling ‘trustworthy repeated experiences’ to orient and calm myself.

For example, I remember one day berating myself mentally for what I perceived to be negative feedback in an email I’d received and because the sender had copied in my line manager. I was convinced that my line manager’s reaction was going to be horror/anger/disgust/disappointment…because that is how my old boss would have reacted. However, on this day, my line manager sent me a quick one sentence email, saying something along the lines of “who spit in her bean curd!?” (If you don’t get that reference, please please watch Mulan and enjoy!)

My line manager clearly trusted what I had said in my original email and found the response I got quite ridiculous. Her reply to me made me laugh, but more importantly gave me the confidence to reply and stand my ground…and even more importantly, it gave me a trustworthy (positive) experience to replace the negative one I had held for so long. I had a new point of reference in those situations and was able to overcome feelings of anxiety by recalling that my line manager clearly had (and still has) my back.

(Also, just it turns out that technique is a known part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, so I felt pretty chuffed to have come up with it on my own. ISFJ for the win!

They tend to shy away from surprises and what is perceived as unnecessary change

This is my final point, because this post is already so long! Also I feel like ending on a cliffhanger…

While I, the introvert, would totally avoid surprises and unnecessary change, there is a big change coming up in my life (big for me anyways) that will probably surprise a lot of people who know me, and that also might seem pretty unnecessary. But the truth is, as I have come to know and accept more of my Introvert self, I have realised that there is one area of my life that has remained unchanged for a significant period of time and I now feel really convicted/called to make a change if I am to challenge myself, to grow more in God and in myself… So stay tuned and maybe I’ll remember to update this blog sometime in the not too distant future and tell you all about it!

Until then

-x-