social spark Aisling Beatha: 2017

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Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Raspberry White Chocolate Baked Oatmeal - 5SP

A couple of people on Weight watcher connect have asked for this recipe after I shared a photo the other day.  Here you go  - Raspberry and White Chocolate Baked Oatmeal at 5 points per portion.
(That larger piece in the bowl is 1 portion, I had an extra spoonful as well in this photo).


4 portions at 5 SP each by my calculations (I recommend you enter recipes into the recipe calculator in case the particular ingredients you are using are different to mine)

INGREDIENTS
80g Jumbo Oats
80g Raspberries
14g White Chocolate (I use chocolate chips, but you can use chopped up bar if you need to)
1 tsp, level Vanilla Extract
1 tsp, level Baking powder
200g Fat Free Natural Yogurt
1 1⁄2 tbsp Artificial sweetener (an extra 1/2 tbsp would probably be better)
2 medium, Egg
Frylight Spray Oil

METHOD
Preheat oven to 190c/375f . (Lower temp a bit if using fan oven)
Grease a oven proof dish with spray oil.

Add to a bowl - the oats, sweetener, baking powder, yoghurt, vanilla and egg and whisk to combine Pour in the oven proof dish greased with spray oil.

Pop into the top of the mixture the fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips Bake in the oven for 40 mins till set and lightly golden. Serve and enjoy!!


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Friday, September 15, 2017

I Bet You Didn't Know That I ...

TODAY’S NUDGE: Share something that isn’t widely known about you.

Looking back to some of the things that happened when I was growing up it's fairly amazing that I am still here in some respects.

I am not going to attempt to get these into the right order, my memories aren't that good.

  • When I was very little one of my great uncle's had a canal boat.  I don't know how often we went there, but I do know about one particular visit.  Apparently there was a little rowing boat that was sometimes used while the canal boat stayed moored.  From what I understand, there were 3 of us on the boat.  One of my great uncles, my dad and me, oh and one of the dogs. I FELL IN THE CANAL. One of the two adults on the boat yelled "She's fallen in" and in that first split second the other one thought they meant the dog.

    I don't remember any of it but I think I remember afterwards being wrapped up in someone's jumper because I had no dry clothes there, my mom had no idea I would need them.




  • At some point in my childhood I discovered that childproof medication bottles were not childproof.  I have no idea what the medication was or how many I swallowed but it resulted in me ending up in hospital having my stomach pumped.  Again, I was very young and remember little about it.  I do know that someone bought me a gift of a nurses outfit after it was all over.
  • A few years later we went on a visit to Blackpool Pleasure Beach (A big permanent fun fair). One of the rides was a roundabout with cars and motorbikes and so on.  I was sitting on one of them, waiting for the ride to start and decided I wanted to be on a different one.  I got off and started to move to the other one but it was too late, the ride had started.  The ride operator stopped it immediately but not before I had got a huge nasty graze across my back as I had fallen over and one of the bikes had hit my back in some way.
  • When we went on holiday (vacation) to Romania, we had an emergency landing on the flight home, on the wrong side of the iron curtain so the airport was complete with soldiers with guns saying "you will go here, you will sit there, you will eat cake".  To us kids it was all a bit more adventure, but I remember one of the women there being in tears because "I don't like cake".  I think it was just the last straw in what was already a very stressful day.

There were other incidents too but I'll leave you with those.
If you are someone I know, how many of those were you aware of?
If not, what stories do you have that you pull out when you need to say "I better you never knew this about me"?

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Your Story in 50 Words - or - Who I Am

Have you ever seen this before? God's story in 50 words.

God made.
Adam bit.
Noah arked.
Abraham split.
Joseph ruled.
Jacob fooled.
Bush talked.
Moses balked.
Pharaoh plagued.
People walked.
Sea divided.
Tablets guided.
Promise landed.
Saul freaked.
David peeked.
Prophets warned.
Jesus born.
God walked.
Love talked.
Anger crucified.
Hope died.
Love rose.
Spirit flamed.
Word spread.
God remained.

I've seen this around for years and cannot find a record of the original author, so if anyone knows for sure where it originated, please let me know.

I was reminded of it recently and got to thinking what my 50 words would be. Or yours? My 50 words could be

I am :
the baby who survived after multiple miscarriages.
the toddler who nearly drowned in the canal.
the child who discovered what happens when childproof bottles aren't.
the awkward kid who never who never really found herself.
the ' good girl ' who found a guy, had a baby, THEN got married.

And that could be the end of my story, only it isn't.
And there begins another 50 words

I am:
blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven.
loved with an everlasting love.
I am:
one who struggles to live in that grace.
one who dances.
one who writes.
one who STILL stands.
one who hangs on by her fingertips when everything around her yells "let go".
I am.

If you had to fit your story into 50 words or less, what would it say?

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mixed Media Art Video

I'm still taking part in the Blog Along with Effy Wild. TODAY’S NUDGE: Give something away. A printable, a mini class, a tutorial you did on YouTube, or sound advice about something your readership might benefit from.

I did think about doing a giveaway of something physical but since most of the people who read my blog are based on the other side of the Atlantic, postage could get expensive.  So, instead I decided to share a video of a mixed media art page I did a few years ago, pulling together inspiration from a couple of different pages I had seen online.

Please excuse the quality of the video, it was my older camera, and not brilliant.


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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Forgotten Dreams

Today’s Nudge: Write about a dream you once had that you let go of, and where that led you.

Growing up I went through all the "chosen careers" that little girls often go through, but ended up settling on teaching, on teaching at primary level.  (For any American readers who are confused by English education terms in this post, please check out my other post where I explain it all.)


That didn't go so well.  My dad did not like the idea at all.  I remember phrases like "no daughter of mine is becoming a teacher" and "Well if you must teach then you have to teach at a secondary school, because primary teachers aren't worth anything, they don't teach anything that's got any point to it."

Looking back I see those statements through a lens of how hard he had fought to get to where he was in life and not wanting us to settle for anything less than what he thought was the best, but at the time I was heartbroken, and I spent months crying myself to sleep because there had been another argument about it.  I tried explaining that primary teachers are the most essential part of the process because they teach kids how to learn the school way, they teach kids all the basics they need in order to learn the stuff that he thought was worthy.  It didn't make any difference.

I didn't give in though and eventually got signed up for a teacher training degree, with his reluctant blessing.  That, however, did not go according to plan, I don't think I was ready for university on one level and then I got pregnant part way through my second year.  There was no onsite nursery at my college and I just did not feel I had it in me to be a mom to the best of my ability and to be a student to the best of my ability.  I could do one or the other.  So I left teacher training college to be a mom.

I walked away from the thing I had fought so hard to be allowed to do and I never regretted it not for one moment, I was happy being a mom.  But it was always there, in the background, this thing I had not got to do.  I did various things over the years that I see now were connected with this passion, this drive, to teach, to be involved in kids education in some way.

  • I was treasurer of the preschool playgroup my son went to, 
  • I was chair of the committee on the scout group my boys were in (and my husband was a scout leader at), 
  • I took a home study course in Montessori education.
  • I started to take a turn on the rota in the creche (under 5's) at church, 
  • eventually moving up to take responsibility for overseeing that group
  • Then I was asked to move up to the 5 - 11s 
  • and at one point was responsible for all our kids work, birth up to 11
  • I got involved in a charity that needed volunteers to take school assembly talks on how children could get involved in their project
  • I started offering "broadly Christian" assemblies to the schools that had taken the charity assemblies (There is a legal requirement for UK school to hold a "Broadly Christian" act of worship daily, the extent to which and the ways in which schools fulfil that requirement differs greatly but for now the requirement is still there) and worked my way up to 6 different schools
  • At the request of one of the head teachers I brought together a team of people to do Open the Book bible story assemblies in his school
  • That extended to a second school
  • I then became a school governor in one of the schools

It was at this time that a job came up at a local primary school.  I looked at the job description a number of times and didn't apply. I figured I just wasn't good enough to get it so why bother applying.  Then a friend who had also considered applying told me I really should apply because I would be perfect for it, so I did.  It was for someone to work for the Methodist church in the school because the school is a church school joint between Church of England and Methodist but the Methodist congregation in that part of town had closed down due to dwindling numbers.  (for American readers, this is a still a state school).

I got that job, it's only 7 hours per week, but 24 years after I last walked out of a teacher training classroom, I stood in front of a room of 30 children and I taught a Religious Education lesson.  Strictly speaking my role in RE is only "support" but the first teacher I was assigned to handed me the curriculum and said "there you go, do what you want to with it" so I took the challenge and I taught.  24 years.  I got my dream.  24 years in which there were many years I did not even think about it. 


I do other things in school as well as teach RE, I do assemblies, I set up prayer spaces, I run after school clubs, I lead "moving on" sessions with the year 6 pupils getting ready for secondary school, but it is the teaching that gives me the biggest feeling of satisfaction.  I'm living my dream.  It doesn't look like I thought it would look, but it is still my dream.


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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Woman Who Bled

Today in the Blog Hop I am sharing a story that I wrote a few weeks ago.  It is a story where after reading (or in this case listening to) a bible story, I imagined what it would have been like to have been there.  Where would I have been, what would I have seen, and heard? What are the details that would have got missed out when the story of that event was written down?



I was on the edge of the crowd somewhere and I wasn’t looking at Jesus.  I was watching HER.  I didn’t KNOW her, not to speak to but I knew who she was.  We all did.  We knew not to touch her if we passed in the street and I had watched her when she was shopping in the market.  She always waited for the stall holder to place her items down and completely remove their hands before she picked them up so that they would never be touching an item at the same time. I knew that a lot of the stall holders wouldn’t serve her at all, wouldn’t answer her questions, wouldn’t even make eye contact or acknowledge she was there.

It was as if they wanted her to be invisible, or maybe it was the concept of her blood they wanted to be invisible, for to deny the idea of a woman’s blood is to deny her power in part.  To refuse to acknowledge one is to never allow the other to be mentioned.

I watched her move through the crowd, slowly, silently, almost invisibly.  She was touching people, I mean she MUST HAVE been, there was no way to get through that crowd without doing so, but no one noticed.  They were all so focused on Jesus and what they wanted, what they expected from him that they didn’t even see this woman who really needed him.

There were moments when she disappeared in the mass of bodies, but then I would catch sight of her again.  Sometimes she had her back to me, or the side of her head, but there were moments when I had a clear view of her face.  I was expecting to see fear, or desperation, but what I had not expected to see was such a fierce determination.

She continued to move through the crowd, and I was so intent on watching her, so fascinated by her journey through the crowd that I almost forgot that Jesus was there.  That was until she got right up to him and then she ducked down and I lost sight of her altogether.

I was desperately searching for her with my eyes when I heard Jesus speak, clearly, above all the noise and clamour around him.
“Stop!  No, really, STOP, who touched me? Who was it?  I need to know.”
His friends looked at each other, then at the crowd.  They looked at Jesus and then back at each other, I could tell that none of them wanted to be the first to speak, but finally one of them did,
“errrr, have you seen this crowd? They’re ALL pushing and shoving.  Look, we’re not bodyguards, we can’t stop them.”
“No” Jesus said “That’s not what I mean.  Someone touched me, I felt power go out from me.”

That’s when I spotted HER again, I think I realised what had happened at almost the same moment she did.  She looked around herself and then right at me, I was sure of it.  Did she know I’d been watching her?  Was that a smile creeping across her face?  I don’t think I had ever seen her smile before, but then I noticed she was trembling too.

She rose slightly from where she was crouching, she cleared her throat and whispered
“It was me” but no one paid her any attention.  Was she still invisible to them?
Louder now she said, “Me, I touched him.”

Jesus turned to face her, she fell at his feet, her whole body shaking now.  He held out his hand and the crowd went quiet.  They waited to see what he would do next, they KNEW who she was, they knew to avoid her, why didn’t he know, was someone going to tell him?  Then she took his hand and there was an audible gasp.  Jesus smiled as she took his hand, he drew her towards him and she stood up, in front of him, in front of all of THEM.  Finally, they SAW her, finally she was acknowledged.


“Daughter” Jesus said “It’s OK, don’t be afraid, I know what you have been through, I know how you have been forced to live separated from even those you love.  You can go in peace now, your faith has healed you, you are freed from your suffering, both that which came with your condition and that which was put upon you by others.”


Where do you think you would have been had you been there?
Have you ever imagined yourself into a well known story, whether from a faith background, or a historical one?


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Sunday, September 10, 2017

What Brings Me Joy


There are 3 photos that I keep on the desktop of my computer and all 3 of them bring me joy for different reasons.  The first one is the most recent.  A good friend of mine (Hi Rachel) has a farm and recently had to hand rear one of the lambs.  I was lucky enough to make a visit during that time and I got to bottle feed that beauty up there.  Not a tiny little lamb any more, that gorgeous cutie, was as big as the dog and strong, really strong and the bottle was gone in seconds!  I didn't even have time to get a photo of the actual feeding.

My friend also gives me joy but because her home is difficult to get to by bus I don't get to see her very often.


The second photo is from a trip I made to Belarus with Operation Christmas Child.  The lady on the left is one of the Babushka ladies, in a village we visited.  This was in a village not far from the border with Ukraine, so fairly close to the Chernobyl dead zone.  It was really cold when we were there, snow at least 2 foot deep.  

Obviously most of the shoeboxes were being delivered to children in homes, schools, children's homes, churches etc, but a very small number of boxes had been packed specially for the elderly men and women of these villages.  We delivered just 2 of them while we were there.  I went with Denise (also in the photo) to one house and two other members of the team went to another house.  

This Babushka lady was 84 years old, lived on her own in a house with only cold running water and an outside toilet in a country which has snow on the ground at least 4 months out of the year. Her only heating was via a small wood fire in the living room and an even smaller one in the bedroom.  She chopped all her own wood for the fire and grew all her own vegetables.  Remember how close to the Dead Zone this is and you wonder whether that was a good idea but she seemed so healthy and so strong for her age.  And she smiled the whole time we were there.  This was truly one of the highlights of that trip for me.   


Finally the year I got gunged at the church holiday club (VBS).  It wasn't exactly a PLEASANT experience, oh that stuff was so cold and slimy as it ran down the back of my neck inside my T-shirt, but it was the culmination of a week where we had taken something that the kids loved, Dr Who and used that to teach the children about God as well as having lots of fun during the week.  

That's my son over on the left in the stripy shirt, his team had lost the points competition and he was supposed to be gunged (all a set up for what came next of course) but I stepped in at the last moment and took the gunge for him.  The kids loved it and it still comes up in conversation sometimes.

These 3 photos bring me joy because they bring back vivid memories of those events.  There are loads of other things that bring me joy too, but these are the ones I wanted to share with you today.  What brings you joy?  What makes you smile?  What makes you feel like flinging glitter all over the place?

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Saturday, September 09, 2017

Purse Dump



*A Purse Dump is a list form blog that lets you just get all the crap that’s in your head out on the page. I tend not to edit mine, because I’m the queen of oversharing, but you can edit yours if you like.
Which brings us to today’s nudge: Dump Your Mental & Emotional Purse all over the table that is your blog. Don’t sort it. Don’t apologize for any of it. Just take an inventory, in list form, and let the old tissues & twenty year old mints fall where they may. (images are not my bags, credits are below)

  • Youngest is going back to uni in 7 days with 2 Chronic conditions, YIKES

  • He's doing what he loves and I love that for him but I still worry

  • I wish he wasn't so far away when he needs extra support

  • I do worry about his health and how that could change in the future.  I worry about him coping with that this year and later when he starts to work instead of study and how much support he will need from us long term, even after this year is done.

  • I swam 35 lengths of the pool in 33 minutes this morning which is the furthest, fastest and longest I have swum since I started back to swimming in November last year.

  • I'm on weight watchers and watching candy making videos on youtube. Go figure!

  • Hubby got offered technical lead on a project that would have meant weeks in Germany, but he said no because he knows it could end up being months instead of weeks.  I do miss him when he is away BUT I get to use our car when he is away, and I admit that I DO like that.

  • Eldest son is working on what you could call an Internship with a Christian ministry.  He's "living by faith" because that's what that place does and he needs the experience for his CV (resume) going forward.  No one should get me started on how angry I am with that place that they expect these young people to do work for virtually nothing and yet think they can justify that with spiritual guilt trips.

  • Because youngest cannot afford to wait and earn the money for his masters degree and do that later in case his conditions get worse, we are supporting him financially as well as emotionally.  That means every penny of MY income from my part time job will be going to him for the next 12 months (and the last 3 months too, that's waiting for him).

  • That means no money for art supplies unless I manage to sell some of my work or pick up a bit from ads on my blog or youtube.

  • Looking forward to getting creative with the supplies I do have!

1st image -  “Purse” by m01229 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
2nd image - “purse contents” by TheChanel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Friday, September 08, 2017

Where I Come From



TODAY’S NUDGE: Write about your hometown, your roots, or where you come from.

I'm from a self made man, born as the 2nd world war came to a close.


I'm from a man who worked his way up, from a woman who did the same, pushing hard each and every day until one day they were able to buy their own business.
I'm from a 1970s newsagents. We lived above and behind the shop with no more than a tiny yard with a loose brick incinerator in the corner, and the alleyways and streets to play in.


I'm from 1970s fashion, even when I was just learning to walk.  (Check out my mom's outfit)


I'm from parents who decided they didn't want his children to live the way they had and moved the family all the way across the city to a beautiful, green suburb with a chocolate factory at its heart, while still getting up at 4am every day to drive over to the newsagents shop to open up.


I'm from going to school opposite the chocolate factory, being able to smell the chocolate from the playground if the wind was in the right direction.  I'm from old school buildings with tall ceilings and a classroom in the bell tower.  I'm from a time when parents were not allowed inside the school gate unless they had an appointment with a member of staff.

I'm from Silver Jubileee street parties and fancy dress competitions.


I'm from tennis, and golf and sailing, and squash, but mainly tennis, lots and lots of tennis.



I still have one of the trophies they won, even though both my parents have passed away now.  I'm from sporty parents but I have never been a sporty person, and I spent many hours at the tennis club sat under a tree daydreaming or reading.  Yet this trophy, now that I have cleaned it up takes pride of place on my sideboard.


I'm from Girl Guides, and Scouting and Volunteering, they were all a part of my growing up, my parents were always aware that there was need outside of us.  I'm from following in my father's footsteps, becoming the chair person of the scout group my children were in just as my dad had been for the scout and guide group I had been in.

I'm from a man who looked so like his dad it was crazy.


I'm from falling in love and falling pregnant, aged just 19 and having to leave a teacher training course at university to care for my son.  I'm from not regretting a moment of that and understanding that God doesn't let anything be worthless, as 24 years later I got to stand in a classroom and teach a bunch of kids, in my new job in a school.


I'm from being mom to a second son who had surgery aged 8 months old after multiple infections in those early months.  I'm from being mom to that same son, who now has 2 chronic digestive conditions and battles through it all, having completed his degree and is now off to do a Masters Degree on top of that!

Where, what and who are you from?

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Apple Cinnamon Donuts


  • 65g Plain Flour
  • 4 teaspoonsTate & Lyle White Sugar with Stevia, 3 in the mix and 1 for the topping

  • 1teaspoons, levelBaking powder

  • 12teaspoons, levelGround Cinnamon, 1tsp in the mix and 1/2 for the topping

  • 1teaspoons, levelVanilla Extract

  • 12teaspoonsAsda Cider Vinegar, use proper ACV if you have it or lemon juice if none at all

  • 2 TBSPTwo Chicks Free Range Liquid Egg White

  • 80mlArla Best of Both Milk

  • 75gApple(s), peeled and diced small (I used 1 small apple)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F, 180C & spray your donut pan and set aside.
  • Peel and cut your apple into very small pieces.
  • Mix dry ingredients together then add wet. Gently fold in your apples.
  • Divide into 5 donuts in your pan. Mix the 1t of sugar and ½t cinnamon in a small bag, sprinkle on to the 5 donuts.
  • Bake in oven for approx. 9-11 minutes

2 SMART POINTS per donut, but unfortunately 5 SMART POINTS for 2


Adapted to UK measurements from Original Recipe on Drizzle Me Skinny

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What Battles Are You Fighting?

TODAY'S NUDGE: What is something you struggle with? What battles are you fighting that most people know nothing about? What's something about you or your life that makes you feel weird, or different, or isolated?

One of my fellow Effy Bloggers wrote more or less what I would have written if I had taken this topic down the route that came most naturally.  I won't say that every single thing she said applies to me, but so much of it that you should just go read what Gin wrote on What Makes Me Feel Different or Isolated and I will write about something else.

Let me tell you about my battle with my body which leads to a battle with my mind.  I've been overweight most of my life.

There was a period of time in my teens when I managed to get on top of that and got down to a healthier weight.  But that all stopped when I got pregnant aged 19.
There have been ups and downs, each time putting a little more back on than I lost the time before.  I had done Weight Watchers classes, Slimming World via a friends books, slimming world online, and also free sites such as Spark People.  I even tried taking the fat binder tablets prescribed by our family doctor.


I have Sleep Apnoea.  That is very obviously weight related, and the day I picked my machine up I was determined that this was going to be the start of getting things under control and that one day I would walk in there and hand my machine back because I had lost enough weight.  Wellllllll, I'm now on my second CPAP machine because my last one wore out.

I have been desperate to get over sleep apnoea, to no longer have to wear this machine every night in order to keep breathing, but there's this voice in my head that says "you got yourself into this mess, didn't you? No one else ate all that food that put this weight on you." and here's the kicker "You don't deserve to be healed of Sleep Apnoea, you don't deserve to hand that machine back, you're stuck with it forever."

Well guess what?  That voice can go jump off a cliff.  I am DOING THIS THING!

Back in July I went to my CPAP clinic appointment where I was terrified there was going to be this whole conversation about forcing me into weight loss surgery, because that was what they had threatened at my previous appointment if I didn't get on top of it by this appointment.  But on the day it didn't even get mentioned.  I realised I had been given a second chance to do this without that intervention and I came home and joined Weight Watchers Online that evening!

That was 6 weeks ago, and I am over 20 pounds down already.  I know the weekly loss rate will slow down at some point, but I am making the most of it while it lasts and today I am wearing a pair of size 26 (UK sizes) jeans for the first time in YEARS.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

How Do You Deal With Stress


Today’s Nudge: What really stresses you out, and how to do take care of yourself when you’re in the midst of *waves at all that*.

What stresses you out?
When things happen to my loved ones it stresses me out far more than when things happen to me.  I think it's that when something happens to me, I have some level of control, even if that is only over HOW I RESPOND to that situation.

But when something happens to my  loved ones, I feel it just as deeply, but now I can't control it, I can't fix things for them, I can't take these struggles away, and sometimes I feel like there is nothing I can do to even help.

It's not that I think I am helpless and hopeless, but sometimes in certain situations, that's how I FEEL.  Watching my son deal with his chronic conditions and how that has affected his studies, watching my mom spend over 100 days in ICU (over a decade ago now, and she passed away a couple of months after coming out of ICU), watching my older son love his job but not be treated reasonably by the team there, watching my dad deteriorate, fight back, only to cycle through those two for months and months before he passed away 4 years ago, and so on through to smaller less stressful situations.

How have you dealt with stress?

I'll be honest that often in the past I have done everything I can to avoid dealing with stress and to hide from it.  I have eaten my emotions and stuffed my face.  I have sat in front of the computer, aimlessly surfing from one website to another to another.  I have avoided my journal like crazy because I don't want to acknowledge what is going on or how I am feeling.

Those are not working for me, not long term, they are not helping me and some of them are destructive too, but I am doing better at the moment.

While no one is in deep crisis right now, these last few weeks have not been without their stresses.  Our eldest son has been forced into a house move with no one nearby to help him move his stuff and youngest facing a far more ridiculous battle than you would ever expect to turn his student bank account into a post graduate student account rather than a graduate account.

What should have been a simple process involving one phone call and a couple of days wait, turned into a 3 week battle, involving multiple phone calls and having to visit a branch 45 minutes away because the local one couldn't see him for another 4 weeks!  It finally got sorted this morning as I started to write this post.

How do you deal with stress?

What do I do now?  Or at least what do I try to do?
  • I am trying to eat well despite the recent stresses, and not letting them derail me from my current goals health-wise.
  • I am swimming some days, and walking some others.
  • I am listening to daily prayers and meditations from Pray as You Go via an app on my phone. On the days I swim, I put my headphones in as I walk back to the bus stop to head home and listen on that 18 minute walk.
  • I also try to listen to some mindfulness sessions from Smiling Mind, also via an app on my phone.  If you think you'd like an Australian accent with your mindfulness meditations, that's one to check out and it's all free, both the website and the app.
  • I'm journaling.  Not every day, but enough that the deep stresses get written out.
  • I am learning that what works for others in de-stressing doesn't necessarily work for me and THAT'S OK.
  • I am still spending more time than I should at the computer, but not as much as I was and at least now a lot of that time is purposeful, planning healthy meals and writing blogs.
So how do you deal with stress?  How do you go from the frog at the top of the post to the one below?


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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Wistful Mermaid & Deconstruction Poem

I said on day 1 of this September blog along that there would be a whole mix of things during this month.  So today I'm sharing a recent spread from my art journal followed by a poem I wrote a few years ago.  Considering this is the first face I've painted in around 2 or 3 years, and in a style that is a bit different from what I have done before, I am quite pleased with her.



I had not intended to share things from previous posts, but then I wrote yesterday's post and this poem seems so appropriate.  This was written around the start of my deconstruction.

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Did God really say that?”

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Surely something
was lost in translation”?

Did you ever read a verse and think
“I’m not sure I want any part
of a God who can
Do that
Say that
Be that way.”

No?
Maybe we
Are reading different bibles.

Did you ever read a verse and think
“If THAT is true
They Why
Does My
Life prove the opposite?”

Some would tell me
I just need more . . . . .

More what?
More faith?
More study?
More bible?
More prayer?
More church?

As if adding something more
To our overloaded lives
Our overloaded minds
Our overloaded hearts
And souls

Is going to fix ANYTHING

So maybe we need less.

Less TV?
Less distractions?
Less busy?
Less stuff?
Less . . . . ?
Less, less, less

As if taking something away
From our aching, empty hearts,
The spaces in our souls,
Emphasising what
And who
Is no longer THERE

Is going to fix anything.

It’s like we play
a giant game of Jenga
With our lives.
“Take this from here
And put it there.”
“Take A away 
And add in B.”

All the time waiting
For what seems
Inevitable

Oh come on now,
Surely you know
How this game goes.

Slowly
But surely
The tower grows
Taller
And taller
And taller it goes.
Less and less stable
No longer secure
Taller
And taller
And “Be careful”
“Watch out!”
“Don’t dare breathe.”

And everyone
Who’s playing the game
Knows what’s coming,
Hoping
Even praying
That their move
Won’t be the move
To bring it
Crashing down.

Hoping no one will see
The gaps
The empty spaces
The questions
In their hearts.

“Hold it together”
“Don’t let anyone see”
“Never mention the questions”

Well now
You
Can see me

Now you know
Now it’s clear
MY tower is not secure

But I know I’m not the only one,
And I know I’m not alone
And I can tell you I’m still hanging on
To the God by whom I’m known

To the God who knows my questions
To the God who hears my heart
To the God who knows
and hears
and loves.

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Did God really say that?”

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Surely something
was lost in translation”?

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Surely He
Can’t love Me
THIS MUCH”?

Did you ever read a verse and think
“This God,
This grace,
This mercy,
This love . . . .
This is something I have to have”?
© Jan 2014, Zoe Gregg (Aisling Beatha). All rights reserved.

If you like listening to words like this read in a British accent, or you want to see what I looked like before I got my hair cut, you can check out me reading this poem on YouTube.

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You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.
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