Pushing through 2020

Copied from a friend’s Facebook

I’ve been thinking about writing something for a while. It’s that time of year – I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas but I didn’t quite get round to it. I want to reflect on my year but I’m not quite sure where to start right now. There have been lots of good things happening and I’ve grown too but there have also been times that I’ve struggled and it’s been an effort to push through. The last few weeks have been a struggle but I’m still getting up in the morning. I’m still pushing on and by the grace of God I get through the days and sometimes I’m even able to be a blessing to others. I’m getting great feedback in my business, my family are healthy and I am blessed with a lovely home, food and clothing. I have some amazing friends who are there for me whether I’m feeling great or needing support. I have a lot to be thankful for.

I’m not sure what next year holds, or even tomorrow but I know that God will get me through. Some might see my faith as a crutch – something to hold me up because I can’t manage life on my own. Maybe that is one word for it? I don’t mind admitting that I can’t do this on my own. I tried being strong (and for a long time I managed it) but even then I had faith. Now I don’t think I’d have made it this far if it wasn’t for my faith. For me, the reality is that the other coping strategies I have are not enough. I need Jesus every day and I thank God for Him.

In case I don’t get round to posting anything else in the next few days I just want to wish everyone who reads this a very happy, healthy and prosperous year in 2021. I hope it will bring many good things your way.


A New Day

Fresh starts are such a good thing. I’m grateful that bad days come to an end, you go to sleep and wake up to a new day, a different day and hopefully a better one. Yesterday was the worst day I’ve had with depression in a long time. But today is a new day and it’s going to be a better one.

I’ve been realising that I’ve been using social media to numb a lot over the years. I don’t think it’s healthy. I need it for work but I had excess accounts that I don’t need so I got rid of a bunch of them – including the ones associated with this blog.

I didn’t start blogging to get a following. I love the little community that I’ve connected with on WordPress but the majority of the people I most enjoy reading and connecting with on here are not the ones I connect with on Twitter or Instagram so those accounts are gone. It’s funny because on Twitter I had built up a decent following pretty quickly but it felt so fake. Most of those people didn’t actually connect with me or read my posts. I guess I didn’t with most of them either. I get that others will have a different experience or want to use social media to promote their blogs and that’s cool. It just wasn’t for me.

Anyway – I decided to live in the real world as much as possible. I’ll still be here on WordPress though. I enjoy writing here and reading your blogs. There are several that I follow closely and connect with regularly and I’m happy with that; I don’t need thousands of followers.

Well I guess that’s my little update for today. I’ve deleted a bunch of apps as well. Seems like a good time to declutter my online presence. I’ll have to face all the feelings now if I’m not numbing them – will need to watch my alcohol intake doesn’t go up as that’s another go-to for numbing. Hopefully I can hack it.

What are your thoughts on social media? Do you love it or hate it? Do you need it for work? Do you use it to promote your blog? Do you think I did the right thing or made a big mistake deleting those accounts? Let me know your thoughts. 🙂

Out of Hiding

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote anything, pretty much three actually. I guess I’ve been a bit stressed and overwhelmed in some ways. It’s weird because on one hand there have been lots of positives happening and I’m not worried about the pandemic (as awful as it is). Something has shifted a bit though in the last few weeks and I’m aware that I’m more anxious than usual. Anyway, I’m working through it so I’ll not dwell on it except to say that it’s probably why I’ve not been writing – I think sometimes I clam up when I get overwhelmed. On the other hand sometimes I need to write when I feel that way. I’m a bit of an enigma – even to me. 😝

On a positive note – a couple of weeks ago my daughter returned early from the States. I’m so glad she’s home! She was in two minds about coming back but her flat mates were leaving and her school had gone online so when they advised UK citizens to return home she decided to come back. She made her decision on the Sunday evening (which was Monday morning here) and asked me to book her a flight on the Tuesday and she was home by Wednesday evening. I’m really enjoying having both my kids at home again – even if it’s only for a little while.

I’ve finished the first term of the night class I’ve been doing through the church. The last few weeks have been completed over Zoom and Facebook live due to social distancing but it’s worked out pretty well. I had to write a book reflection to hand in for the end of the term too. I may post that at some point. It has been really helpful in getting me to adjust my mindset recently, although there’s obviously still some work to do on that.

Over the last few weeks I’ve also been doing the Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast organised by Igniting Hope Ministries. I’ve found that really useful too and I have definitely made progress in my thinking through it. I know that might sound like a contradiction because I said at the start of this post that I’ve been anxious, but the negativity fast is not about denying the reality of how you’re feeling or doing it’s more about understanding and believing that there is also a superior reality which is what God says about you. More about that in another post perhaps?

Since I’ve not been able to do classes over the last few weeks I’ve been working on a few other things for my business. I finally got my accounts up to date (one of the jobs I love to hate) and I’ve been learning how to build a website using Joomla. I’ve even started a YouTube channel although I’ve not got much on there yet. Gives me some stuff to work on though.

Anyway, I really just wanted to break my silence to share this song. I heard it for the first time a few days ago and it stood out to me because it mentions the words ‘lockdown’ and ‘stand at a distance’ which are pretty significant terms with the whole virus thing. It’s not about the coronavirus though and it’s also relevant for this Easter weekend.

I love the words. It’s a great reminder of how much Jesus loves me and you; enough to go to the cross for us. I love that He holds our peace and that He’s just waiting for us to cast aside fear and run into His loving arms. Even if the music isn’t your taste have a look or a listen to the words. Have a lovely Easter wherever you are and stay safe!

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

Out of Hiding (Official Lyric Video) – Steffany Gretzinger & Amanda Cook | The Undoing

Out of Hiding

You’ve got your reasons
But I hold your peace
You’ve been on lockdown
And I hold the key

‘Cause I loved you before you knew it was love
And I saw it all, still I chose the cross
And you were the one that I was thinking of
When I rose from the grave

Now rid of the shackles, My victory’s yours
I tore the veil for you to come close
There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore
You’re not far from home

I’ll be your lighthouse
When you’re lost at sea
And I will illuminate everything

No need to be frightened
By intimacy
No, just throw off your fear
And come running to Me

‘Cause I loved you before you knew it was love
And I saw it all, still I chose the cross
And you were the one that I was thinking of
When I rose from the grave
Now rid of the shackles, My victory’s yours
I tore the veil for you to come close
There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore
You’re not far from home
Keep on coming

And oh as you run
What hindered love
Will only become
Part of the story
Baby, you’re almost home now
Please don’t quit now
You’re almost home to Me

Random Thoughts During Social Distancing

Should I reset my alarm?  It’s normally set for 6.15am on weekdays and 8am on the weekends so I can get up and spend some quiet time with God before everyone else starts to move.  Now that everyone is working from home no one is really moving before about 8.30am so I could shift it a bit – or leave it and use the extra time for something else?  Thoughts?

I’ve never been more grateful for the sunshine.  In the midst of everything that’s going on in the world, it just makes me feel better.

Writing in my garden while social distancing

I wonder when my daughter will come home?  We were chatting through her options yesterday.  Her school in California has gone online and her two roommates are leaving to go home on Tuesday so she could come home too.  She’s not keen on the idea of being on her own especially with all the social distancing but she also has FOMO if everything clears up and goes back to normal quicker than expected.  I’d love her to come back but I also want her to be sure she’s doing the right thing for her.  I don’t want to put pressure on her.

I wonder if we’ll be able to go on holiday in July?  It’s hardly important in the current climate but just a thought.

Will I be able to claim any money back for lost business? I’ve worked out that with the bookings I had in the diary I’ll be losing out on something like 26 days if the schools stay shut until the summer break (which seems to be what is expected).  I’m going to try to use the time to do other things that I don’t normally get round to – like my website for example.  If necessary I could get another job though.  The supermarkets are looking for more staff right now.

Will I do more writing or less?  I’m having another wobble about writing at the moment.  I don’t know whether to keep going or quit. 

Should I try to get a telephone appointment with the doctor?  I’m not sick but I’ve been wondering about whether I should try coming off the antidepressants?  They don’t want us to bother the NHS right now unless it’s an emergency though, and it’s not that.  Does anyone know how you get off these things?  Can I do it safely without a doctor’s advice?  I’m on a very low dose.

I have a gift card to use up before June.  Not quite sure if that’s going to be possible?  It’s maybe my own fault for holding on to it so long but I was hoping to buy a couple of new outfits for this summer with it.  It’s for one of the nearby shopping centres.  Maybe I could use it for food shopping or just go to the clothes shops one day and keep my distance from everyone?  I feel bad for the shops and businesses that are losing out because of this virus.  I know we have to be sensible to avoid spreading it but so many people are losing their livelihoods too.  That could have a knock on effect that lasts way longer than COVID-19.

I probably should disinfect the door handles and surfaces again but today is Mother’s Day in the UK so it’s going to wait till tomorrow.  I want to relax today.  I got the sweetest card with the most lovely words in it today from my kids along with some beautiful flowers.  I am blessed.

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading my random ramblings.  Stay safe and don’t forget to wash your hands.  🤗

Extra Time

How many times have you thought ‘I wish I had more hours in my day?’ Right now it’s 2.30am in the UK and I should be sleeping… I was feeling a bit under the weather last night and fell asleep really early which could be the reason that I now find myself wondering how to use my ‘extra time’. Probably I should be trying to relax my mind and get back to sleep but instead I’ve read some blog posts (I’ve got a bit behind on reading the last few days) and now I’m typing this while pondering options.

I could do some housework – quiet jobs obviously as the rest of the household are asleep – there is plenty of ironing to do, or I could wipe down the door handles with anti-bac spray since there seems to be a bit of a tummy bug in the house? Also who knows if any of us has been in contact with the Corona virus?

I could go out for a walk and get a head start on my 10000 steps for the day? I’m doing a challenge for a homelessness charity to walk 315000 steps during March. So far I’m on track which I’m happy about because I haven’t been walking as much recently as I’d like and this challenge is making me get out and about again.

I could spend some time reading for my book reflection that I need to hand in for the study course I’m doing with church? I have been saying that I need to make time for that. Or I could spend some time with Papa God as I’m feeling the need to do a lot more of that recently?

There’s always work to be done for my business too. It’s nearly the end of the financial year and I need to get my accounts up to date and work out if I’ve claimed all my expenses and the invoices I’ve sent out have all been paid. Last year I think I ended up paying too much tax because I still had some income from teaching and I wasn’t properly on top of the expenses thing.

Maybe I could do something creative? I have several half finished craft projects that I keep promising myself I’ll get round to finishing – beading, cross-stitching, sewing up a bag that I knitted etc.

Probably now that I’ve brain dumped all of these options here I will just end up going back to bed. Thanks for bearing with me while I worked that out though. 🤪

If you had an extra hour that you weren’t expecting how would you use it?

What tips do you have for getting back to sleep in the middle of the night?

Night night. 😴

The best and worst of my job so far

I have to say that becoming self employed has been a really good move for me. I was nervous about it at first because I knew there were no guarantees that it would work out. I mean my business is not exactly thriving yet but I feel good about how it’s going.

I work with several children who are really struggling. They so need love and security and connection in their lives and it feels great to be able to give them that. One little boy told me recently that I was his safe place. That just melts my heart. I love being able to make a difference to these little ones.

It’s tough sometimes when I’m alone in the house catching up on admin stuff. I’m not great at being alone. Sometimes I can just stick my music on and I’m fine but other times I struggle emotionally when I don’t have people to distract me. My boss is pretty understanding though 😉 so that’s another positive. She totally gets the importance of self-care. 😊

It’s really cool being able to mix work up with the rest of life too. I like that I can go to an exercise class or for a swim in the morning when I don’t have work scheduled or read a chapter of a book or watch some TV in my lunch break. It’s good to be able to put a washing in the machine between emails and catch up with friends between classes. It also means I can fit in brief trips to the supermarket like the one I made yesterday to return the stickers I accidentally stole last week. (If you haven’t heard that story read my post Mini Moral Dilemas.)

Money has the potential to be a hassle. I’m not worried as such (I guess I’ve learned not to worry about money – that’s another story) but I’m not making (anything like) as much as I did in teaching. Hopefully the gap will close a bit in time. I really dislike doing all the money stuff – doing my accounts and thinking about pensions and tax stuff. I also dislike chasing people up when they say they’re interested and then don’t get back to you again or when they haven’t paid since May and it’s now October.

Last minute cancellations is kinda a negative (at least work wise) but I just turned one that came in today into a positive by arranging a wee night out with a friend to see my niece’s band play tomorrow night. It’s nice to be able to be that flexible.

On the whole I’m enjoying being self employed right now. There are probably lots of good business ideas I could employ to make the business more successful but I’m also aware that I need to look after my health and not get too stressed about it. One day at a time. It’s getting there. 😊

(Not so) Amazing Discoveries about Myself.

I’ve discovered some new things about me. Turns out there’s still more to know, even at my age!

I’ve discovered I can eat Bombay mix out of a bowl using only my tongue. Amazing but true! 😂 Maybe I have a really long tongue?

I’ve discovered that I can make my stomach look really gross if I scrunch it up just right. Between the stretch marks and the less than toned bits and the ‘becoming more obedient’ muscles I can scrunch it up pretty good. 😁

I’ve discovered that some people (maybe those who require an eye test?) still think I look under 25. Yup, I actually got ID’d today in the supermarket. I might not have been so happy about that if I hadn’t had my driving licence with me. 😝

I’ve discovered that I hyperextend my arms when I stretch. To be honest I barely know what that means but I went to a class the other night and the instructor mentioned it. Never heard that about myself before! Maybe it’s because I love hugs. 🤗

I’ve discovered that I have issues with shame. I guess I knew this but I didn’t appreciate what it was before. I think I’ve always confused shame with guilt in the past. Now I realise that my constant battle with not feeling good enough is shame too.

I’ve discovered that my new business might actually work! I mean I always hoped it would and knew it had potential. I guess I just wasn’t sure that I could make it happen. Now I have 5 schools and a family signed up and more enquiries outstanding. (In other exciting news – I now have a logo for my business which is so cool!)

I’ve discovered that even writing these few short random paragraphs somehow helps me feel better about life. I don’t really get what that’s about but since it helps I’ll try to keep doing it.

Busy, busy, busy!

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been so long since I posted anything. Life has been pretty hectic since our return from Croatia. It’s not that I haven’t had thousands of thoughts that I wanted to blog about – I even started writing a few that never got finished – it’s just that life has taken over or I’ve engineered it that way. It’s a tricky one ’cause I like to be busy and sociable. I get bored if I don’t have much on so I’m inclined to fill every minute in my diary. The downsides of that are that I then have no ‘me time’, no processing time and I have to be careful not to use busyness as a numbing strategy ’cause I’ve done that plenty too.

Anyway I’d better fill you in on what I’ve been up to. There were a few big events lined up just after our return. Our daughter was leaving for California ten days after we got back so I was trying to help her with last minute arrangements and packing and stuff. She’s off to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry for 10 months. I’ll miss her a lot but I know this is an exciting opportunity for her and I think she was ready for a bit more independence again.

We also had our local community fun day 8 days after our return. I’m on the organising team for that so I was busy with everything from signing the licence to occupy the site at the council offices to clearing weeds from the car park and picking up dog poo before we could get set up. 😝 Thankfully despite a lot of red tape this year it turned out to be a successful day and the sun even shone for us after what had been a pretty damp week. I think we must have had around 500 people turn up across the day – not bad for a small village. My boy’s band played a slot in the music tent and my lovely girl gave up three hours of packing time to face paint less than 48 hours before leaving.

We had a friend of my son’s staying with us from Australia for a few days while all of that was going on. I’ve looked after little B every week for a while and caught up with a few friends too. I went down to my parents new house and prepped and painted their bathroom ceiling for them one day. I’ve had a few fun nights out like one with my teacher pals to escape rooms and then out for dinner. That was such a good laugh. We’ve had some nice meals with friends and a trip to the spa with one of my besties K which is always so relaxing.

This last week or so I’ve been working a bit on my business again too. I’ve got a few classes lined up (and some supply days at my old school) but I need some more confirmed. Getting work set up is one of the hardest things about being self employed. I do have a few people interested just now I just need them to confirm. Hopefully that will happen soon.

In amongst everything else I’ve finally finished Skelly’s Square (started it towards the end of my holiday but I’m a slow reader at times) an excellent debut novel by one of my fav bloggers Stephen Black of Fractured Faith Blog . Totally recommend this. It’s a great read and I can’t wait for book 2.

If you’re still with me thanks for reading. That was a bit of a whistle stop tour of the last couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll share some more soon. 😊

Putting Myself out There

You know from a pretty young age I wanted to be a school teacher. I remember playing schools with my younger sister and my two little brothers. I remember organising a kids club when I was only 10/11 years old myself and planning and running it for a few years. I remember helping our lodger (a teacher) to create worksheets (I drew pictures on them for her) in the days before photocopiers when they used Banda machines and all the copies came out purple.

The last couple of years of high school were challenging for me for various reasons and I only managed to achieve the minimum requirements for uni to train as a teacher. At the time that was three Cs at Higher level, one of which had to be English. I did well at the interview for uni but because of my grades only managed to get a place on the waiting list for the course. In the end I didn’t get in.

As a result I needed to get a job or find something else to do for a year until I could try again. At my parents suggestion I went to volunteer for a year at a Christian healing centre in England. My tasks included cleaning toilets, washing dishes, peeling potatoes and singing in the worship group. While I was there I met the guy who became my husband the following year.

After our year out he went to Bible college and I went to work. We weren’t entitled to any support from the government at that time for his college fees so working for a while became my priority. After we’d been married two years my daughter was born and 19 months later my son. Obviously now teacher training was pretty far back in my mind. I did various part time jobs but primarily I was a stay at home mum.

When my son went to school at 5 years old I decided to try again to become a teacher but by now the entry requirements had changed and I no longer qualified. Never one to be beaten I decided to take a different route. I decided I’d get another degree first and then do a post-graduate certificate. I wanted to do something that would interest me since I was going to be at it for three years so I applied and was accepted to college to study BA Theology with a Children’s Ministry Specialism. In my third year when I was nearing the end of my degree and writing assignments and on placement (not to mention looking after two children) I looked into applying for teacher training again. This time I discovered that I needed to update my maths qualification as the one I had done at school was now ‘too old’ and no longer acceptable. So in addition to everything I was already doing I went to a different college to take a maths course.

After graduating from Bible college I finally went on to do my teaching qualification. It was hard work cramming in the study and placements and raising a family and looking after a home but with a lot of sweat and tears (literally) and lack of sleep I did it.

I’ve been teaching for thirteen years now. I love working with kids and I’ve made some great friends in the different schools I’ve worked in but there are lots of downsides and difficult parts of the job that I won’t go into just now because it’s not the point of this post. For the last two or three years I’ve been feeling like it was time to move on but wasn’t sure what I could or should do or what else I was qualified for.

Just over a year ago now I did some training to enable me to teach relaxation to children. Since then I’ve been running those classes part time in a couple of different schools and in the community when I’ve not been in my own school. About six weeks ago I took the scary step of resigning from my teaching post to focus on running my own business.

I had very mixed feelings last Wednesday when I went to school as a teacher for the final time. I was a bit emotional about leaving the children and my friends but also very excited about the future, about stretching myself and taking this leap. It made me wonder about my identity again. In the UK we tend to link our identities very closely with what we do rather than who we are. What will my identity be when I’m not a teacher? How will I tell people who I am? I felt nervous about leaving the security of a regular income for basically no financial security.

Going out on my own feels like a huge risk but it also feels life-giving. I’m so excited to be doing something that I love. To have more control over my working hours and my own days. I’m excited to get my logo made and my website going (hopefully soon). I hope it won’t be a complete flop. I hope it doesn’t become a chore. I hope I’ll make enough money to live on. It feels like it could go either way but I had to do it. I had to try. One of my favourite speakers/authors is Bob Goff and I really like this quote by him.

Don’t let what you’re afraid of keep you from what you were made for.

Sometimes you have to take a risk in order to move forward. So that’s where I’m at. Taking a risk and putting myself out there. I’ll let you know how it goes. 😊