Tag: holidays

Going away for a break

Going away for a break

Wow. This week has been really emotional, with so many really sad tragic things happening – the Grenfell Tower disaster, two terrorist attacks in London, another attempt in Paris, another major attack in Mosul – so much pain. I desperately want to be able to “do something”. Help. Bring some hope. Bring the merciful love of our Heavenly Father into this pain.

My partner and I have taken some action to do this and I’ll post more on that separately.

Meanwhile I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. I’ve had a couple of appointments with the pain clinic which have been very draining and in some ways upsetting. I’m sure I’m going to learn things that really help there and I have to try to keep going, keep trying, keep open to what they’re saying and offering even through the parts of it that hurt.

Today my partner and I are going away for a few days. We are staying in a besutiful hotel. We’re going to meet up with some of his family and my goddaughters’ family too. This is the first time in I don’t know how many years that I’ve been away on holiday. It’s not to a totally unknown area but I’m anxious. It’s a huge thing for me to go away and stay somewhere I don’t know and to stay a few days. I am excited too and know I really need a break. Most importantly I’m looking forward to some time to spend with my partner, talk and pray together, and share home calmly rather than constantly running around at the point of exhaustion and it seeming that time in which we can be there for each other and be thankful for each other sometimes comes last. I’m thankful for these coming days and pray for God’s blessing on our time together.

There’s a pool at the hotel and I have made up my mind that for the first time in about 7 years I’m going to get in the pool. I’m going to try to do some of the exercises my pain physiotherapist gave me and try to swim a little. It should be fun but also a great challenge to overcome as I haven’t been in a pool since I used to swim obsessively to try to lose weight when I was in the grip of bulimia.

So it will be a weekend of firsts and implementing some beautiful changes, please God.

Wishing you all good things this weekend.

Ginny xxx

 

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When Love sees you – How was your Christmas Day?

When Love sees you – How was your Christmas Day?

How was your Christmas Day, and Christmastide so far?

There can be so much pressure from all sides at this time – different places and people, trying to keep everyone happy, trying to conceal when we feel anything but happy, a sense of distance from other people, endless rush, emotions all felt more keenly, on top of what we struggle with day to day. There can be great joy, laughter, hope and good surprises too, and I pray they abound for you.

I discovered this song, “When Love Sees You” online recently.

It’s written as Our Lord Jesus, who is all love, telling us what he sees when he looks at us and telling us what is happening when we feel hope is lost or that we have failed or when we don’t know what good the little we have can do. It lifts me up because it tells me that God coming to us just like He did at Bethlehem and as He does in prayer every day, isn’t about success and perfection. It’s about Him meeting us, as we “show [God] the pieces, broken and bruised” when we’re hurting; when we’re hopeless to answer needs around us “shaking our heads at two fish and the bread*”; when we fall in “sinful disgrace” and everyone around judges and condemns us; when we are overwhelmed and cry at His feet. He is in love with us, He sees His beautiful creation and beautiful work He’s bringing about in us, and He’s right here with us and always will be here.

God bless you this Christmas.

Ginny xxx

“When Love Sees You” from Music Inspired by The Story sung by Mac Powell

*ie at the feeding of the 5000 when the only food brought to Our Lord to feed the crowds was two fish and two loaves, yet everyone ate their fill. The Lord accepts the little we have that we give generously and in His power makes it into something wonderful.

Christmas Day – “O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing!”

Christmas Day – “O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing!”

Christmas morning! We’ve arrived. Christ Our Lord gives Himself to us in tender love and mercy. Come, let us adore Him, the Christ Child in the manger.

What a year it has been, personally for me, for my loved ones, for this whole world. Falling over the same stumbling blocks and falling into the same sins, or losing sight of hope in the face of fear, flashbacks, overwhelming emotions that can block out everything I want to believe in, it does not take much to make me despair and think God’s mercy has run out for me and He will cast me aside and say I do not know Him. Looking at what’s happening, here, in my family, in the UK, in stricken countries like Syria, never have I felt so helpless here and now faced with such need, fear, suffering, the very present threats of acts of terrorism, the devastation and loss wracking so many people. It is so hard to know how to respond and easy to feel very afraid.

At the vigil Mass last night, we sang “It came upon a midnight clear” after Communion. This is not one of the carols I know best but never did this verse seem so apt:

Yet with the woes of sin and strife, this world has suffered long;

Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong,

And man at war with man hears not the love song which they bring –

O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing!”

So often I, we, cannot hear the song that Our God sings to us His beloved. Shame, fear, despair, self-disgust, pride, all can make this “still small voice” harder to hear. I was praying, feeling despair and the voices were saying to me, how could God look at me now, how could He look at my foul disgusting weak lazy heart. The Lord answered me in prayer, “My gaze is longing Love.” And He called me to draw near in prayer to the manger at Bethlehem, with His Holy Mother and St Joseph’s protection.

The nativity is the sweetest song of love for us. God who brought this whole world into being, who shaped the seas and land and skies, who brought each of us into being in love, is come in humility, even vulnerability, as a little Baby, reaching out to us, fully sharing our human lives. He was born into darkness, poverty, homelessness, a world confused and at war. The Priest told us in his homily last night, when we look at the Christ Child, we see the certain knowledge that God never gives up on us. He delights in each of us. He delights in us so much that He chose to be born as one of us. And I think He chose to be born, needing us, needing our simple answer “yes” to receiving Him, yes to resting in His loving gaze, to holding Him in our minds and hearts, to carrying His hope into the world, to encountering Him anew each day but most especially this Christmas morning. So we learn to “give back the song which now the angels sing” in the words of the carol.

You are in my prayers today. I feel deeply thankful to you for reading, commenting, your thoughts, prayers and support and the experiences you share on this journey. I know that for many of us Christmas and New Year is not an easy time and it gives rise to deep, erratic emotions and maybe painful memories. I struggle at this time. Through all the joy of the gift of God this day, I feel overwhelmed and unstable, emotions heightened, the pain of losses and traumatic effects associated with this time and deepened, and the needs, expectations and rush of the holiday period are not easy to face. I’m very blessed not to be alone, to have two special friends to celebrate with quietly today, and to have these couple of friends and the blogging community here with whom I can share honestly. Thank you.

I’m wishing you plenty of moments of happiness; peace deep in your heart through whatever path you are on; that you can experience friendship, care and support; that in the hardest times there are little things to give you hope bit by bit; most of all, that you know the love of God who delights in you.

“…And ye, beneath life’s crushing load
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! The days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
The blessed angels sing.”

[From “It came upon a midnight clear” by Edmund Sears (music by Richard Storrs Willis) – see here for full lyrics ]

Wishing you a blessed Christmas.

Ginny xxx

[Image from “The Nativity Story”]

 

 

31 Days of Summer Lovin’ – Day 4: red, white and blue

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For details and acknowledgements of this challenge created by Soul Seaker, please see here.

Since this challenge was created for July, “red, white and blue” was undoubtedly chosen for 4th July Independence Day. Being a month late and also travelling today, I could not find anything suitable for that interpretation so have gone for something totally different. No offence is intended.

Here’s my bag with red, white and turquoise (blue) flowers, travelling with me today.

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I’m staying with my wonderful friend L. and her family for a couple of days. It has been a tiring journey today and I’m glad to be at L’s, heading for bed now. Goodnight all!

Ginny xxx

Pet therapy

I visited my dad and step-mum a while ago. They have three cats. It turns out one of them is a bit of a diva. Usually, unlike her brother who is very cuddly and lets me pick him up, she is wary of me and doesn’t hang around much to be stroked and so on. Then this time, I was taking a picture of a pretty rose when she did a purrfect “photo-bomb”:

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After this, far from stalking off when she sees me as she often does, she was delighted to sit for several minutes posing to have her picture taken:

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For some time I’ve been considering getting a pet. It would be encouraging to have something to take care of and I’m sure it would bring a lot of fun, cuddles, joy and company. I’m looking into getting a guinea pig. It’s early days yet as I want to research first how to look after them and also, look into costs to make sure I could afford it. A friend of a friend has some baby guinea-pigs that will soon be needing a home and this has spurred me on to find out more about looking after them.

I remember that when I worked at a hospice, a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog used to come in once a week with a volunteer and visit patients in the Day Centre. They did the same at a nursing home my elderly friend was in, for a while. It was always popular and an undemanding kind of company for people who found talking harder.

Ginny xx

Why did the goose cross the road, and other stories

Q – What’s the difference between a Scottish man with a slight cold and an English man with 7 days’ holiday?

A – One has a wee cough, the other has a week off.

I hear you groan 🙂 That was one of the first jokes I learnt to tell as a child. (The other was what do you call a lavatory that keeps coming back to you? – A loomerang. Yep sorry about that. …)

Moving swiftly on! I’ve just had a week off myself and go back to work tomorrow. It was exceptionally bad weather until Sunday afternoon. On the news they said it was colder in my region one day last week than it was on Christmas Day! That same day my bus was delayed because there was a flock of geese that had escaped onto the main road and caused pandemonium. The bus driver said it was a shame it wasn’t really Christmas as we’d have got rid of the problem quite quickly (goose anyone?!)

My friend came to stay for two nights. She was my first overnight guest since I moved to my flat over a year ago. It’s a big step on for me that I was able to have someone stay over. My anxiety has always previously been so high that I could not cope and had to be able to escape from company after a few hours. I did have times I struggled and I was very tired from trying to make sure I stayed “okay” but we had fun together. My friend is in her eighties – she’s my friend L’s nan and I’ve been blessed to come to know her family over the past few years. They really make me feel like an adopted family member. I’m so thankful for all of them. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like as we don’t live very close by anymore but still the friendships have stayed strong and readers of this blog will know that true lasting friendships are rare and precious to me.

Also in my week off I’ve been able to make an effort to get on top of housework and clear my very tiny garden which I had not cared for properly since the winter. I am not a gardener and don’t enjoy it but I’m thankful for my outside space and try to keep it tidy. It really is very small.

Dad came to visit yesterday afternoon.  We had a coffee and walked through the park in the sun back to my flat. We had pasta bolognese for lunch (second in my Ten Dishes challenge) and a good talk in the afternoon. He’d just been on holiday with my step mum which they’d enjoyed. I’m thankful that I feel closer to my dad again now and more able to be curious about his life and express how things really are in mine.

This coming week I need to start a creative project. One of my colleagues is retiring at the end of this month. My other colleagues and I are putting together a scrap / memento book as part of her leaving present. We are going to decorate a page each for her. Some people are sewing, some embroidery, some photo collages – I’m going to put together some decorative text and decoupage based around one of her favourite songs. Updates to follow!

I hope you’ve had a good day. What do you like to do in your holidays?

Ginny xxx

 

 

 

Did I actually just enjoy something?!

Since I came back from my lovely weekend stay with my friend L and her family a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been thinking back to it thankfully and often. In that weekend I felt genuinely positive emotions that have been absent for me for a long time (we’re talking years). Things like happiness at my goddaughters’ interest and excitement at our little activities and projects.  Their unboundedly curious questions showing perspectives so different from mine, especially different from my exhausted autopilot. Time with L. and real thankfulness for the strength and comfort her non-judgmental empathy gave me and really wanting to be there for her too, glad to be able to talk and share in her life, worries, joys, and so on.

Yes, the hard things were still there too. Voices, doubts, exhaustion, anxiety, it doesn’t magically go away. But the good experiences were so unusual for me that they particularly give me pause and I am all the more grateful for them.

Their good is lasting beyond the days I spent with L (nearly 2 weeks so now) in a way that’s more than just a happy memory. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t just a memory in my factual thought; it’s an emotional memory too. That’s stronger and more active and has a more continously creative effect on how I feel. I’m enjoying it and trying to nurture it, in thought and in prayer and in trying to build up some more creative, good experiences, especially where I can give or share something to someone else in even a small way. One thing I’ve been doing in recent days is making greetings cards, which I used to love but had completely lost all motivation or creativity to do. And I’m actually enjoying it, even looking forward to it. I can’t think when I last genuinely looked forward to an activity like this.

Maybe I’m starting to understand what a doctor told me when I was an inpatient in 2014 – that the more good experiences and memories you create, they can slowly begin to replace the terrible re-experiencing of traumatic past events and the automatic nature of obsessional thoughts and the power of the voices. I could not understand how this could work at the time though I really wanted to believe it. Later, in the most desperate times I was furious if anyone began to suggest anything like it. The suggestion seemed to trivialise the terror I was locked into. Yet now, I think I might be beginning to understand it.

Ginny xxx

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

I am sorry for being away for many days and for being behind on replying to comments. The last two weeks have been very mixed. I’ve been blessed to have the friendship of a couple of very supportive friends local to me, who were so kind to me over the Christmas days. Also, I’ve had a struggle over this time as always, and a very upsetting event through which I felt I absolutely couldn’t go on.  Again I was blessed with a friend who could see hope for me.

I will write more at the weekend and catch up on everything once this busy week at work is concluded.

You are all in my thoughts. I’m praying particularly for anyone who finds this time of Christmas and New Year taxing and hard or painful, as I know so many of us do. All we cannot find or do or be can be all the more hollow and isolating round this time. Loss is more raw. I’m praying for tiny little lights and encouragements and the knowledge that you are good, can do good, to help you through one hour at a time.

In my belief, at Christmas Our Lord Jesus loves us so much that He came as a little baby to ask for a place in our hearts and He came right into our darkness and poverty. So we are with Him right now in the midst of all the hardships. He asks no great deeds of us, only love. We need not overcome all our weaknesses to be with Him because precisely in weakness He came to us. We only need to be still, with Him.