Strolling on campus 

Putting on my Nikes, I braced myself for the Winchester hills.  Nerves rumbled in my tummy, and yet I knew that soon I’d feel quite at home.

My feet were prepared for the exercise that one is mandatorily thrown into when they enter Winchester, but my sweat glands were not. The walk from the train station had left me a bit warm, with my glasses already steaming up, and so I felt a bit embarrassed when I got to the University of Winchester’s Reception area. I signed in, received an exciting lanyard (I love the little things) and found myself reunited with my old Creative Writing lecturer, Glenn Fosbraey. 


Glenn, a complete legend with a heart of gold (one that is filled with creativity and a down-to-earth warmth) had invited grads back to a Creative Writing careers talk, honing in on how to make a living out of Freelance Copywriting. I jumped at the chance and booked on immediately.

The talk was both helpful and inspiring. I found myself really thinking about how I can explore copywriting in the future, using my writing and editing skills to earn a living. In graduate life, a lie sits in my mind where I tell myself that I’m not truly good at anything.

However, the talk gave me nudge. It reminded me of my skills. Also that, as a writer, you don’t always have to know the subject or company you’re writing for. As long as you’re strong at writing, editing and researching, you can be an incredibly successful copywriter for companies. With a boost of confidence in my pocket, I left the lecture knowing that I can consider adding some copy-write strings to my bow. And that, was a beautiful thing to think.

The rest of my day spent in Winchester just felt so good. My feet were eager to retrace all of the steps that I first took six years ago. I pulled out my favourite modules out of my memory and visited all of the lecture rooms where I had them. Many wouldn’t boast of the Tom Atkinson building’s beauty, but it certainly is a building that means much to me. It was the organisational home of my English with Creative Writing degree. And I just felt so comfy there.


I went on a few more adventures, including strolling down my dearest row in the university library, perusing through literary criticism books, peeing in the loos next to where I used to boogie at BOP, and even having lunch outside the cathedral.

I was nervous today, but I knew I oughtn’t be. I felt bold walking around my university town as a 24 year old graduate, feeling blessed at the place I’m now at in my life. The campus holds dear memories with incredible friendships – ones that I’m still very blessed to have three years after graduating. Each step around my university reminded me of the people I once knew, and I strangely still expected to see pals sat in the library, or to pass me when strolling past the chapel. But, apart from Glenn, I knew no-one there today. And that actually felt completely lovely. For I know that my time on that campus is in my memory, and will be there forever. I could strut past the Learning Cafe windows and not wonder if I was absently ignoring a friend through not seeing them through the glass. I could actually just be ‘me’ and know that I can be proud of all I achieved on that campus, and then come home to my life I’m building here.

I love Winchester, its university, and everything in it. I’m so blessed to have befriended this old, happy city. 

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OCD – Let’s Talk About It!

“And I’m rumbling in this OCD…”  Anyone remember the JCB song?
When I’m stuck in my worst OCD moments, I try to sing my version of this song in my head to try and bring some childhood light to the moment.JCB song

So, yes, I guess this is my way of sharing that I have obsessive compulsive disorder.

This is a big thing for me to blog about especially as it means sharing my vulnerability. However, through doing this, I do not want pity please! I want joy and encouragement AND MOST OF ALL, I want the stigma of mental health to be diminished. I want friends, friends-of-friends and friends-I’m-yet-to-meet to know that having an issue in your mind does not make you weak or less of a fun person. You are simply going through something that is common; it’s just rare for people to talk about it.

The Royals are doing a beautiful thing at the moment. The awesome trio of Prince Harry, William and Kate are all raising awareness of mental health and the lads have shared their anxiety they experienced through the death of their mother, Princess Diana.

‘Mind Over Marathon’ on BBC One this week looked at how 10 unlikely runners, all with mental health issues, are training for the London Marathon and have been using exercise and training as a way to ease their minds. A chap on the show stated, “I hate the term ‘mental health’, because it has the word ‘mental’ in it!” And he’s so right. Culture has put a dampener on the word ‘mental’ and has changed the word into something that sounds scary; perhaps even a word to label someone you’d avoid.

In January 2015, a close friend of mine tragically, and unexpectedly, died. I had only known and worked with him for five months and yet during this time he made such an impact on my life. His joy, the Cole’s house games nights, pub trips and the depth of our conversations put me at great ease during the start of my first full time job and I miss him dearly. I remember having a particularly hard day and so he said, “Let’s go for a walk and talk it out.” It’s a precious memory. I’m so thankful that I got meet and have lots of time with a wonderful brother in Christ. His death affected me significantly; the screams that erupted from within me when he died shattered a part of me that I’ve never been able to fix.

The bits that were shattered were my sense of certainty and I have developed a fear of positive experiences, meaning that when something is going well, my mind then wanders to the worst case scenarios. I overthink and obsess about these to the point of exhaustion, with thoughts and images flying all around my mind, leaving me flooded with anxiety. I then seek reassurance from those closest to me to gain a sense of certainty which, in the long run, makes the OCD worse.

By the way, I just want to add that most people have a misconception about what OCD actually is; it’s far more complicated. Some people say, “I’m a bit OCD about this…” or whatever because they like to be neat or clean. “Many people now use the term “a bit OCD-ish” without understanding the onerous nature of the disorder in its severe form.”OCD Action

You might also think that people with OCD obsessively clean and yes, some people with OCD do suffer from a perfectionism belief, but not all. (I don’t! In fact, I am very untidy!) OCD beliefs/traits involve someone obsessively feeling like everything is all their fault, some overestimate danger, some desire constant control of their thoughts, some want to feel certain about everything and some fear positive experiences.

I only feel able to talk about this as I have spent time talking to psychological therapists (again, sounds scary, but it’s not) who diagnosed my issue as obsessive compulsive disorder. I now have face-to-face CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) with a therapist which is helping so much. I am starting to realise the origin of my thoughts and over the coming weeks will learn more about how to change my response to the thoughts I get.

I hide my ‘sads’, as my dear friend Grace calls them, very well. Only those very close to me have seen the ‘sads’. I am proud of myself for the way I have held myself. I have let out my emotions, but as I say, only to those very close to me, who know me inside-out and who I trust wholly. And, I thank them for their perseverance with me. I cannot even believe what I put you guys through. Actually, no, scratch that. Let’s re-word that. I cannot even believe what the OCD puts you guys through.

The above sentence is extremely important and is the main reason why I was brave enough to write this post. In a recent session with my therapist, I was constantly saying how I ruin things. How I ruin good moments with horrible thinking and horrible reactions. My therapist then asked me to talk about ‘me’; about my background and who I am. I then, joyfully, got to talk about myself and my past which I really enjoyed! (Tehehehe!) At the end of the session, my therapist asked, “So what do you think your overwhelming thoughts say about you as a person?” And, my immediate response was, “Nothing!”

A smile grew over my therapist’s face. And, you know what? It’s so chuffing true. The OCD is not me. The OCD is not who I am. I am a girl who loves to be goofy and who is getting married to the man of my dreams. I am a girl who loves to dance, laugh, encourage others, eat crisps, watch Tom Hanks films and cuddle animals. I am not the OCD. It’s just something that I’m experiencing as a reaction to the situations I’ve been through. That’s all. 🙂

So, to anyone who is experiencing something that they are finding overwhelming, please know that it does not define you. Also know that talking about it makes it better. Honestly. It was the hugest relief to talk to a professional about the exact thoughts I have. I tried to hide them for so long and that made things so much worse. If something hurts, you go to the doctors for help. It is the same for your mind. Be brave. Help is available for everyone.

I am so thankful to God that He carries me through this and I trust Him with all things. Experiencing this also means that I can help others who go through the same or similar and that is a great comfort. James 1v2-4

Life is tough, but I am tougher.

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Sarah’s Sight

Now reader, what I’m about to write may not be a big deal to you, but it is to me…I love wearing glasses. Glasses are a part of my face; a part of my being. So, here’s the news…

I’m getting new glasses…IN TWO DAYS!! 

Yup. Aaaah!! After 4 hours, in over four different opticians last week, I FINALLY found comfort in two frames in Specsavers. (I’m so thankful that I did this last week! This week, I’ve been flopped on the sofa poorly! Booooo!)

I LOVE the frames that I’ve chosen for my next stage in life. They’re comfortable, big and suit me. My current specs have unfortunately gone a bit rusty and I felt like I needed a change before I get married next year. (WHOOP!) 🙂

Even though I’m happy and relieved to have finally found new specs, I can’t stop but feel a little nostalgic about my current specs. So let’s talk about it… (Blogging helps the grieving process, ya know?)

You see, when I was eleven, I was relieved that I needed glasses. I had started to think that I was stupid for not being able to see the board at school, or for not being able to work out if someone in the distance was walking towards me or away from me.

Even though I loved the fact that I could see things, between the ages of eleven to eighteen, I rarely allowed people to take photographs of me with glasses on. I just thought my face looked silly, and looking back, I unfortunately still feel that way. The frames just weren’t right. So, I made a change.

At the age of nineteen, just before I started my second year of university, I got my current glasses and I adored them. For the past 4 and a half years, I have felt comfortable and ‘me’ in these glasses. From the very first day of owning them, I wore them in photographs and have been so proud of them.

Whilst wearing these glasses, I…

  • Discovered what it means to have true friends
  • Gave presentations, wrote tales and analysed literature at undergraduate level
  • Moved to Winchester for my final year at university
  • Wrote my 10k dissertation
  • Graduated with a 2.1 degree
  • Started my first full time job

And now here comes the soppier stuff. Whilst wearing these glasses, I…14448947_10154612470163478_3871339920353988259_n

  • Found a best friend
  • Fell in love
  • Braved it and had my first kiss
  • Went on lots of dates and continued to fall in love
  • Got engaged to Scott in Rome

(All in this order!)

Nerdyness and joy; perfect examples of what my life has been like since putting on these specs all of those years ago.

I am so thankful that these glasses helped me to love who I am. They have been part of ‘me’ for a long time and I’m so grateful. I will always be so fond of them, and will certainly not be getting rid of them. However, the time has come for a change. It’s not a very drastic change, in fact, I bet the majority won’t even see a difference! All the same, I’m excited for my new, fresh look that’ll feature in our engagement photo shoot with our wedding photographer in a few weeks – yay! 🙂

As a final note, to those who dislike their appearance, remember that you are unique. Truly unique and wonderful.

Embrace your face; frames or no frames.

The Two Years Anniversary Thingy

On 6th February 2015, two years ago today, Scott and I were sat in my car. (Click on his name for his blog!) Back in those days I had little Frodo, my black Ford KA; not as mighty as my current white Toyota Aygo, Gandalf. (I wonder where Frodo is nowadays…?)

Finally, and easily, Scott and I admitted that we had feelings for each other. I say ‘easily’ because it simply just made sense; it was easy to tell this chap that I really rather liked him. Being single for 21 years and never revealing feelings for anyone meant this task should have been difficult. However, the words slid off my tongue like butter as Scott’s hand graced over mine.

From that moment, life was very different. Doing admin work at the bible college Scott does his BA Theology degree at meant that I was unsure of how everyone would take the news. So, to ensure that we 100% knew it was right and of God, we began to get to know each other properly. After gazes, smiles, yearnings, quick conversations and cheeky singing-at-the-piano-together-on-group-pub-trips, we actually hadn’t had the chance to have time alone.

The dates that followed are shiny, golden memories. We got to know one another, spent hours laughing, going on pub dates, exploring beaches, the New Forest and even my university city of Winchester.

And quite honestly, we were falling in love with each other.

It was both exciting, full of joy and very few knew about us. Scott and I also decided to not kiss during this time.

On 8th May 2015, just over three months after the ‘expressing feelings’ night in February, after leaving my desk to pop into a stationery cupboard, I was asked by my colleague, “Sarah, I need to ask you something. Are you dating the student, Scott Rushby?”

Taking a seat, blundering over my words, I replied, “Um, well, yes, we’ve been exploring the idea of being together…but weren’t sure of how it would affect my work…”

And, well, to cut the story-in-the-office short, Scott and I were given my work’s blessing and there was nothing to worry about. Hurrah! I was elated. I could not believe it! I remember texting Scott and saying, “I’ll meet you by my car after work! WE DON’T HAVE TO HIDE ANYMORE!” (..he was confused.)

Later that evening, after sharing joy with my parents, Scott and I went to my local pub where we shared our first kiss.

Since that night in February 2015, Scotty and I have learnt what a true relationship entails. We have learnt to celebrate the highs, seeking God in everything and aim to plan lots of joyful dates: alpaca trekking, trampolining, theatre trips, Monkey World-ing and Lindy Hop-ping spring to mind here!

As a team, we have also experienced lows; how to best cope as a pair when the other one struggles and experiencing the dark depths of mind struggles.  (I will write about this at some point, but only when I feel braver, stronger and more equipped to face the battles that can occur. I will get better one day though, so get yourselves ready for an awesome blog post in the near future!)

Stepping out in faith, trusting that glow in my chest, working as a team and living for God with the man of my dreams has been a journey that I never thought I’d take. I am beyond thankful to those who guide us through the adventures and support us in all things.

So, *raising an invisible glass of liquid sunshine (OJ)*: To my darling Scott, cheers to two years since our “I have feelings for you” evening! The memory of that day in February is very special to me. It was the day I finally got my alpaca loving; Harry Potter nerding; garlic bread devouring; dog cuddling; instrument playing goofball who is my bearded best friend, beloved boogie partner and my faithful future husband. Thank you for standing by me and pointing me to Jesus in everything, Scott.

Two years down, and just under a year and a half ‘til we’re wed! Let’s do this thaaang!

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Collateral Beauty – Analysis & Appreciaton

I saw the film Collateral Beauty for the first time last night. It’s the most beautiful piece of art that I’ve discovered and easily the best film I’ve seen. The film confronts grief in a way I have never heard of before and I just need to write about it.

There are SPOILERS in this, so please close the tab now to avoid these. This piece is mainly for those who have watched the film and want to dig a little deeper into its depths.

Howard

Howard (played by Will Smith), opens the film by giving a presentation to his hard-working colleagues about the beauty of his advertising company and the values they work hard to convey to their customers. The main three themes the company focuses on portraying in their advertising campaigns are Love, Death and Time. He describes these three things as being the main things that people identify with. “We’re here to connect; Love, time, death. Now these three things connect every single human being on earth. We long for love, we wish we had more time, and we fear death.”

Howard’s colleagues beam up at him; they are clearly so proud that he is their boss. The scene is full of colour, joy and pride; Howard looks youthful, proud, knowledgeable and excited to be in charge of the company.

The audience are then met with a ‘Three Years Later’ statement across the screen. Howard is withered, looks aged and exhausted. This is where the film changes significantly. We find out that Howard’s six year old daughter died and his company is in the process of failing as main relationships between clients were formed because of Howard; he was the driving force in the liaisons and relations. Howard stopped coming into meetings, refused help, stopped paying rent, barely ate, felt suicidal and only came into work to build structures of dominoes around his office.

The haunting, reflective song ‘Looking Too Closely’ by Fink played over the top of scenes showing Howard’s destructive attitude. The lyrics touched my eyes as tears slid down my cheeks; the choice of this song as part of the soundtrack for the film was perfect. The singer states, “You don’t want to hurt yourself by looking too closely.” This notion reflects how Howard feels about his daughter’s death. When asked her name, he refuses to say it. When asked what she died of, he refuses to say it. He attempts to attend grief support groups but walks away. Even after several years have passed, he cannot physically sign a company piece of paperwork to state that his daughter has died. In essence, Howard is too scared to look closely at the situation and admit that his little girl is gone. Instead, he’d rather conjure up anger within himself, be self destructive, lack any sort of relations, and spit anger at the abstract notions of Love, Time and Death that he used to so earnestly advertise.

The Symbol of Dominoes

The structures that Howard creates in his office are incredible. Claire (played by Kate Winslet), a colleague and devoted friend, comments on how the latest structure of dominoes took Howard five days to create. So, what do the dominoes represent?

We can look at the inclusion of dominoes in the film very literally. For example, we see Howard playing dominoes with his little girl. This is a very important reason for him then obsessively doing this; it’s a reminder of his daughter.

Another interpretation is that the dominoes represent life; from beginning to end. One domino (situation) leads to another. The dominoes can represent the chaos of Howard’s situation. I think chaos is the correct term here, as the scenes he creates in his office are pretty chaotic. The dominoes collide into one another, tearing off into separate lines and streams around the office; causing in eventual mess when they all fall. One situation leads to another; death, divorce, company failure, the effect on his workers etc.

Personifying Abstract Notions: Death, Love & Time

Howard’s dearest friends Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Pena) employ a private investigator to expose Howard’s poor mental state so that he would no longer have control over their failing company. They discover the Howard has been been sending hate mail to the three things his company used to focus on as a form of therapy. Critics have questioned the film for how unbelievable it is; I feel like they have missed the point of the film entirely. I would like to go into this a little deeper seeing as they are not.

Howard’s friends discover that Howard insults Death, calling it a ‘Paper Tiger’. A paper tiger is an English translation of the Chinese phrase zhilaohu (紙老虎) and is a phrase that refers to something that seems threatening but is actually ineffectual and is therefore weak. He does a similar act to Time and when he writes to Love, he simply just writes, ‘Goodbye’.  Howard is the initial instigator of personifying Love, Time and Death. He writes to them to help gather his thoughts.

They’re Not Actors!

We were then introduced to the actors who would then intervene in Howard’s life. For example, at work, Whit is drawn to a lady wearing a red cap who is an actress in a queue waiting for an audition at the advertising company, wearing a stand out red hat. Whit is drawn to her; she changes the script for how love is going to represented in the advert. Whit is thrilled when he hears how the script could be changed to convey love better. Once this happens, she leaves and does not audition. This was the first indication that she was not an actress, but in fact Love personified. Love wanted to do the right thing; Love wanted to help. She did not need to audition; but to change the way love was being shown.

Still under the disguise of being actors, Love then leads Whit to meet Death and Time (disguised as actors) to a small, run-down theatre. Whit, Claire and Simon comes up with the idea of employing the three actors to play Love, Death and Time in Howard’s life.

What I particularly loved about this aspect of the film was that Love, Death and Time were acting; acting as if there were actors. Deep. I noticed that they were actually Love, Death and Time when observing the way they were talking in front of Whit, Claire and Simon, when they were just meant to be actors. For example, Time (disguised as Raffi) asked, “When are we going to get paid?” which made me chuckle as it hinted at his time-frame mentality. Love (disguised as Aimee) refused to partake further in the process of humiliating Howard; bursting into tears at the idea which shows Love’s compasssion. Death (disguised as Bridgette) simply took over, showing death to be dominating and appearing to be an all-knowing force (as she was from the moment she went on-screen) saying that it didn’t matter if Aimee stopped playing Love as Death could do it. She commented on how “Death understands Love too, you know” which is also a really interesting concept; can you have love without death?

Can other people see Love, Death and Time? 

I think that Howard can see them. Whit, Claire and Simon can too. I don’t think anyone else could though. Love, Death and Time needed to work in those four main characters in that moment; no one else.

Bridgette (Death) asks Whit, Claire and Simon what are the guidelines in their acting? Who can see them? They eventually settle that Love, Death and Time can appear to whomever they choose and if the person chooses to see them too. Something along those lines anyway.

Howard, Whit, Claire and Simon choose to see Love, Death and Time in their own lives due their different circumstances; Howard needs all three to deal with his grief, Love had unfinished business with Whit regarding relations with his daughter, Time helps Claire in her wonder if she is too late to be a mother and Death comforts Simon in his cancer returning.

I’m not sure if the private investigator can see Death, Love or Time when she is filming them. That’s up for debate. I like to think that she couldn’t; but just wanted to get paid so went along with everything, happy to know that she didn’t have to engage in the long task of digitally editing out the so-called personifications of Death, Love or Time in the videos she took of Howard talking to them.

Characterisation and Quotes

Looking at the three personifications, it’s really interesting to see how they chose to convey their characters. The director obviously decided that Death needed to be the eldest; if Death was cast as a young actor, there wouldn’t have been the credibility and depth there that Helen Mirren carried with her. I loved how Death was actually colourful; in a bold blue coat and feather boa. Death carried a strange air of sophistication; particular when she met Howard on the park bench. A quote that stuck with me from Death is when she said something along the lines of, ‘Things only die if you interpret them that way’ meaning that something doesn’t have to die if the lasting impact of them stays with you.

Time was played by a young lad, symbolising hope and opportunity for the future. The director chose to show Time residing in the suburbs. This was particularly interesting; was this a hint that more time needs to be dedicated to undeveloped districts? Time is constantly frustrated; he was rarely upbeat, particularly when talking with Howard. He said to Howard, “Remember me? I’m time. You wrote me because you need me. I’m a gift, and you’re wasting it!” Claire delivers his payment to him at the end of the film and is relieved that she managed to carry the money through the ‘unsafe’ town safely. Claire says to him, “What are you going to do with the money? Go to acting school!”  Time ends with an ironic line, “Nah, I’m going to spend it on designer drugs.” This means that he could spend it on something wisely, but chooses to waste it according to the culture; reiterating that people are constantly wasting the precious time and opportunities that are given to them as a gift.

Love was particularly interesting. She had several dimensions to her character; she was helpful, demanding, compassionate, strong willed, joyful and emotional. When in communication with Howard, Love (Aimee) said the following:

Aimee: Love is the reason for everything.
Howard: I felt you everyday when she laughed and you broke my heart!
Aimee: I was there in her laugh, but I’m also here now in your pain.

She also noted:

“I’m love. I’m the fabric of life. Don’t try and live without me, Howard.”

I loved the wording that ‘love is the fabric of life’; meaning that it sows us all together; we wear love; we need to clothe ourselves in it.

The Importance of Confronting and Being a Stranger

Madeleine: [to Howard] You need to talk to them, Howard. Challenge them, just engage.

The most beautiful aspect of the film was the surprise element of Madeleine, the lady from the grief support group, being Howard’s divorced wife. She says the above quote directly to Howard; telling him to engage with Love, Death and Time. She noticed a change in him; a longing to get better. This is why the three appear throughout the film; we are being taught that to get better, you need to challenge your thoughts.

Madeleine: Was it the holidays? Howard Inlet: No, it wasn’t that. Madeleine: Then why did you decide to come in tonightHoward Inlet: Um, I’m trying to fix my mind.

It was so interesting that the pair chose to literally see the other as a strangers. For example, when they divorced, Howard sent Madeleine a card saying, ‘…if only we were strangers again…’ The audience were unaware of any past between the pair of them and it also meant that in some way, they had a fresh start. This is particularly shown when Madeleine asks Howard questions about his divorce, and the mention that Madeleine was, in actual fact, still in love with the man she had to divorce due to grief.

The Term ‘Collateral Beauty’

Madeleine: [to Howard] You’ve been given a gift, this profound connection to everything. Just look for it, and I promise you it’s there, the collateral beauty. 

So, what does Collateral Beauty mean? Collateral is the repayment of something, therefore meaning that even when bad things happen, look for the beauty that you will be repaid. There is always beauty; you need to look for it.

It was such a beautiful moment to see that Death actually appeared to Howard’s wife just before their daughter died. Death was present to deliver a beautiful, long lasting phrase as a reminder to look for hope in the future.

Constantly look for the collateral beauty; look for it.

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I cannot wait to see this film again; I may need to write down more quotes so I that I can take them away and ponder over them once more.

I hope I have supplied some interesting analysis and moments; just like Howard’s letters, this was therapy for me.

 

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The Gift of the Clock

In the midst of overcoming, planning and consuming crisps, I have found inspiration to sit down and finally return to my blog. (I also think this urge to write has been inspired by my insightful (and handsome!) fiance’s recent glee for writing his own personal blog!) It saddens me greatly that I haven’t contributed to my beloved ‘Smile and the Whole World Will Smile With You’ blog for a good seven months now; but that now changes! Search through my archives if you haven’t read some of my thoughts before; I’m sure there are some gems hidden in here somewhere.

Now, enough of that; I’ve got something to share.

Every morning, I happen to see something beautiful.  At the same time each day on my drive into work, I often drive past a man walking along with his boy who looks around the age of seven; I presume they are on the way to school. Even in winter months, the father will always, without fail, wear a pair of shorts; the boy does the same. As I drive past, the father is so often engaging his boy in conversation and his son grins, scuffing his shoes against the floor, as he tries to catch up with his father’s pace and amusing story. Other days, I see the boy talking really passionately about something, gesturing with his hands, as he strides along with his father in their matching shorts.

This is all I see. It’s about three seconds of my day and yet it’s made such an impact on me.

I even cried once when I saw them!

Making the most out of a moment is something I can so often struggle with. Sometimes, it comes naturally and those are delightful moments. Other times, I can be stuck in one of my self indulgent, anxious, freak-out-about-everything moments which can last for days on end. However, seeing the father and his boy reminds me of the importance of making the most of the time that’s given to us. I see the pair of them talking, laughing and engaging with each other and their working/school day hasn’t even started yet! I can’t help but think that it’s the father’s favourite part of his day; it certainly looks like he makes the most out of that time.

Where can you make more of an effort in your day? Is there a friend you have let slip you by? A family member you could devote more conversation to? Or even a favourite thing of yours that you miss doing; could you reignite your love for it? Could you pick up your Bible? Ask someone a question you’ve always wanted the answer to? I have got people, situations and hobbies swarming around my head when thinking about this in my own life. I know there are so many ways I could grow in this; it’s worth the mental fight to push past and do them.

The devotion, care and time shared between the boy and the father makes me think about how God sees us. He is delighted with us. He delights in us sharing time with Him. If you’re struggling to remember how to live in a moment, at least remember that you are Loved; more than you’ll ever be able to comprehend.

Make time; share time with others; love those people like 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and remember that God loves you like this too:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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3 Lessons I’m Learning At The Moment…

1. People can change

Unfortunately, as humans we can hold grudges against one another. Perhaps someone spoke unkind words over you, did something directly to cause you pain, or maybe someone indirectly hurt you with their actions and the thought of it still affects you, makes you feel deeply hurt and you just can’t seem to let go of it.

This is something I have been experiencing for a while now and I’ve felt quite burdened with it. After a long time of crying about it, yelling about it and head-poundingly aching over it, I’m done with the thoughts and anger that I’ve been harboring.

I’m learning that people can change. That person might not be in your life anymore, or maybe they are, but remembering something they did months or years ago then judging and being angry at them for those actions isn’t going to do your mind or heart much good. Embrace the idea that in the present day, they are a new and different person. (That works quite well if that person is not present in your life anymore. It makes you feel at peace that they might be a nicer person and helps you feel okay about seeing them in street. You then might not consider running away from them or slapping them with a fish if you ever find yourself bumping into them.) If that person is still in your life, I pray that they are actively showing you that they are new and different and that they are no longer doing the things to you that cause you to hold a grudge.

We all have to live among each other and we all mess up sometimes. It’s a shame that we can feel hurt by someone and perhaps they were going through a stage in their life where they had to cause others pain, so that they could learn from it and then become a better person now. Lean on that truth.

2. You have more time than you think (Careers-wise)

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself this year to sort out my long-term career. Obstacles came in the way of it, and to cut a long story short, I’m no longer doing teacher training in September. I beat myself up about it initially, but actually, I do have so much time to sort out what I want to do.

Going through the learning curve that I have this year, I’ve realised that being a teacher wasn’t the right thing for me at the moment, and that’s okay. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I have a job where I feel secure and have good people around me (which I currently do!), then that’s all that matters. The right thing will come at the right time.

3. Be honest with those you trust about how you’re feeling

Things can make us really sad. We’re humans, we have emotions, we all feel insecure, we all have our struggles. Sometimes, we can feel temped to keep it in and get on with things (which is totally cool). However, if you’re like me, sometimes these things can make me feel like I want to explode. So, what I’ve found to help is to tearfully smile and admit to my friends and family about how I’m feeling. If you choose to do this too, (it helps!) then those around you might also feel comforted that you were honest and open as they might have been going through the same issues. Advice, hugs and cake with those you love helps massively and knowing that they understand the page you’re on might just help you finish the chapter that you’re struggling to complete.

Reader, I hope that these things have spoken to you in some way. Obviously everyone’s lives are different and so these things might not resonate with you, or you might have even learnt these lessons yonks ago, but I hope that any words that I’ve shared here might also help someone else somewhere. 🙂blog

 

A Soft Landing – Trust and Hope in God for the Future

‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’ – Romans 12.12

(I’ve been apprehensive to post this to ya’ll, but in times when I’m feeling dim, I start writing.)

Sat in the empty waiting room, I glared at the clock.

Fifteen minutes had passed since I had finished my test and I had been left to stare at the only other moving object in the room; the second hand moving around the clock face.

The first time I took the Maths test, I was told less than five minutes later that I hadn’t passed. Fifteen minutes seemed too much. It seems they were attempting a re-count.

When I eventually got called into the side room, I was told that I’d failed for the second time and that if I’d have got one more mark, then I would have had the word, ‘successful’ on my score sheet. The poor bloke who gave me the news decided to kneel down beside me when delivering such news; the tears were the only language I could form.

Now, I officially want to kick The Department of Education in the nuts.

Here’s why:

Back in December, I had a successful interview at a school. Everything went so smoothly; I answered the interview questions well (I surprised myself with my eloquent and thoughtful answers!) and it was actually really enjoyable. I was told there and then that they were giving me a place on the SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) programme for September 2016 to teach Secondary School English. This would involve working four days a week in school (over two placements) with lectures one day a week at The University of Southampton. Bliss.

The catch?

That I was required, like all of the other PGCE/SCITT trainees in the country, to pass The Department of Education Skills Tests; English and Maths. Yes, having a B at GCSE Maths wasn’t enough for these people. They wanted me to do another Maths test. The gits.

I passed my English first time (thank the Lord, that could have been awkward), but alas, I have now failed the Maths twice. I am only allowed one more shot at it. If I fail it again, then I can’t do them (let alone go through UCAS or an interview at a school again) for another two years. Yup. Two whole years.

I want to teach English. I’m good at it. I love being in a classroom filled with young people who may or may not hear what I’ve gotta say. That’s rare.

And yet, the government clearly don’t want people like me to teach because I take more than a minute and a half to analyse complicated data in a graph.

How am I feeling?

Well, yes, I’m peed off. I’m tired. My bank is a little bit sad after paying out for a tutor. I’m frustrated with the system. And quite frankly, I’m done with numbers.

Some might use the cheesy metaphor that I’m ‘standing at a crossroads’ in that I don’t know which way I’m going to go. Am I going to do the test a third time and pass? Am I going to do it again and fail? What will that mean then?

Taking it literally, I think crossroads are boring. So here’s my metaphorical parallel.

I feel like I’m riding an old donkey through Marshmallow Land. (Go with it.) The donkey is exhausted and it will regularly kick me off, causing me to fall. However, when I land, it’s a sweet, soft landing onto the Marshmallow-ey ground.

Why do I feel like I’ve got a soft landing every time I fall?

Because I’ve got a God who catches me.

After I graduated a year and a half ago, I didn’t get a job I wanted. I was so cheesed off. (Worse than that to be honest, but I wanted to get the word ‘cheese’ in here.) After many tears and brokenness, I landed a position at a bible college, and it’s been the best thing for me. I’ve met my fiance here, I’ve grown in myself and I’ve learnt so much. So, after my own plan failed, God showed me the most beautiful and incredible plan.

Even though things might not go your way, know that you’re created by a God who is stronger than any uncertainty. Have confidence in Him in the midst of the struggles.

Only God knows what’s going to happen next. Right now, I’m exhausted and revision is not something I’m going to be doing for several days. Thankfully, I love my job and it’s a comfort to be surrounded by my colleagues and friends, so I’m doing okay.

I’m going to remain to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. I’m going to keep goofying around and singing Disney songs with my fiance. I’m going to keep a smile on my face. I’m going to be brave. I’m going to keep thanking Jesus for all He has done. And it’s all going to be okay because ‘The Lord [my] God [is in] in [my] midst, The Mighty One who saves; He rejoice[s] over [me] with gladness, He quiet[s] [me] with His love, He rejoice[s] over [me] with singing.’ Zephaniah 3v17

Thank you to my family, fiance and friends who have sent me joy. Your words and actions mean more than you’ll ever know.

Prayer requests if poss! Please pray that:

  • I’d see the sunshine in each day & that I’ll think about the blessings and the good bits of every day.
  • I’d give my final Maths test my best.
  • I’d have boldness & courage.

“A day may come when the courage of men fails… but it is not THIS day.” – Aragorn

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“You Can Cry About It or You Can Dance About It!”

I’ve been in a silly mindset recently. Wishing that life wasn’t so tough. Wishing it would be easier. Wishing that things in the past in loved ones lives hadn’t happened. I’d get desperately sad and then wonder where my once positive glow had disappeared to.

I’ve been stuck in a negative mindset for far too long. It’s time to change that. I need to start appreciating my life for what it is.

How is this done?

I shall get my Hakuna Matata on.how-well-do-you-know-the-lyrics-to-hakuna-matata-2-8470-1448307090-7_dblbig

Ladies and gents, to get out of negative mindsets, you must make the effort to change your mind and routine to find the fun and to communicate with those around you. This is what I’m learning.

So, from what I’ve learnt recently, here’s my advice on how to kick yourself up the bum and to get ‘you’ back:

  1. See yourself through a loved ones eyes 
    – Ask a loved one to tell you what they see in you when they look at you. Then, try to imagine the positive impact you’ve had on them. You’ll start to understand why you’re loved and the good you do each day to those around you.
  2. Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling and why
    – It’ll be hard, but write down why you think you’re sad. Really spell it out. You need to be honest with yourself. Then, once you’ve cried and spluttered, write down a list of things that make everything okay. You must write it straight away – you’ll find that you remember those positive things more.
  3. Be honest with those around you
    – Get your Toy Story fam around you. You need to tell your friends and family what’s going on. You’ll find that you will get texts, calls and post that will make your day just that little bit more great. God created a sense of ‘community’ for a reason – your team are there to help you.
  • Direct your thoughts to a more positive view
  • Do things you love
  • See the beauty in everything
  • Smile.
  • Need a video to further your positive mindset? Watch this Pep Talk by Kid President

Remember, Buzz Lightyear had a meltdown. He thought he was Mrs Nesbitt for a bit. But he got out of his negative mindset. And became even more awesome. Everything will be okay. 🙂maxresdefault (1)

Seek the joy.   

“Just keep swimming.”

Situations in the past can’t be changed. What can be changed is how you behave in the future.

Rejoice at the beauty.

To quote Kid President, “You can cry about it, or dance about it.”

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Shall I Stop Celebrating? No.

I’ve recently been criticized for how I portray my life on social media.

One main point was about how I post about my boyfriend. I was told that I might make other people who don’t have good relationships, or a boyfriend at all, feel crap about their life.

In my opinion, for this to be said to me is utter guff. Unfollow me if it upsets you. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 21. I didn’t get sad about my friends being in relationships with people they were happy with. I was happy seeing pictures of them in my news feed. I just knew that the right man wasn’t in my life at the time, so I was happy being happy for them!

So, shall I stop being positive on social media and stop sharing my joy with my friends?

No. No I will not.

I am currently going through some anxiety issues and life inside my mind isn’t all wonderful and joyful. I cry a lot. And no, I don’t put these moments on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, because I don’t want to. Simple. That would make me feel even more sad by dwelling upon it further.

Instead, when something makes me happy or great things happen, I will post about it to my friends and I will celebrate the person or the situation.

So, if you’re bothered by me trying to update y’all about my life/relationship/the joys/the fun pictures or whatever, then please remove me from your newsfeed or unfollow me or delete me. I’d hate to fuel your insecurity. I’m just not going to post things about how tired I am, or how sad I’m feeling about something, or a selfie of me doing a really strenuous poo. I just won’t. Sorrrrry.

My true friends are the ones who message me and want to meet my boyfriend and who celebrate the joys and console me in my lows.

Thank you for listening.

Happy new day.

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