Hello world! I haven’t gone into hibernation, although you might be forgiven for thinking so. It seems that when life gets ‘interesting,’ my writing is one of the first things to suffer. But it seems that ‘interesting times’ also bring out my inclination to pray. While having trouble with some sorts of writing, I have been quietly writing prayers with some regularity. They cover all sorts of subjects, but the main theme is gratitude. Because while some things have been tough, I have also had much to be grateful for and it helps me to remember it.
If you aren’t into prayers, feel free to look away, or just see it as a meditation on things I’m glad about.
Thank you to everyone who has ever read anything I’ve written. You are some of the many things I am grateful for!
Lord, thank you for the winter.
I know some people hate the cold, but I don’t mind it. The summer sun is glorious and my garden loves it, but you know, Lord, that I am not as young or as thin as I used to be and hot days can sometimes be too glorious for my comfort.
So I like it when it’s time to get out the scarves and jumpers and change the bedclothes over from thin feather-and-down to thick wool. I love to slip my hands into the soft, knitted lining of the leather gloves my sister brought me from Florence. And I get such thrills when I wear the beautiful socks that my friend knitted for me. They’re much too lovely to stay in the drawer all year, but winter is the only time my hot feet can bear socks!
I like the winter food, too. Soups, stews, casseroles; sausages and mash and hot puddings – there’s a reason people call them comfort food. Easy to make and satisfying to eat, they’re my idea of perfect dinner and this is the season when they are most enjoyable. Thank you for the generations of women who found tasty and economical ways to warm their families on cold winter evenings and shared their recipes with us.
I’m seeing a theme here, Lord! Winter seems to bring out my appreciation for tangible expressions of love. Cuddles, warm gifts and lovingly made food seem all the more valuable when the outside world is cold. Help me to remember this, Lord, when I’m looking for ways to be your hands in the world. Remind me that simple, practical things are sometimes the best way to warm those who are cold. Make me generous in sharing the warmth you have given me.
I wrote this post a few years ago, in honour of Mother’s Day and it’s still true. To all the Mums, here is my prayer and wish for you. ❤
For the Mums
For the new Mums, who are overwhelmed with love and the responsibility of nurturing this tiny miracle that has invaded and taken over your life:
May you get the sleep you need, may help come when you need it and may you have faith in yourself and your mothering, even when the house has gone to pot and you feel that you have no idea what you are doing.
For the Mums who struggle with post-natal depression or with chronic illness, either physical or mental:
May you have a community who cares around you, may you find treatment that works and support that helps and may your children thrive and bring you joy.
For the Mums whose children struggle with their own health problems:
May each day bring you more joy than pain and may you find the world a loving, supportive and nurturing place for you and your child.
For the Mums who, for whatever reason, cannot care for their children:
May your children find homes where they are loved and nurtured and may they know that your absence is not their fault, and that you love them and did the best for them that you knew how to do.
For the Mums who have lost children, before or after birth.
There is not greater loss. May you find solace in your grief and people who understand to hold you up on your journey.
For the Mums who go out to work because they need to, or because they love it:
May you find wonderful people to help you care for your children, may you be free of guilt, so that you can enjoy your precious time with your children and may your community support you in ALL your work.
For the Mums who stay at home, because they need to or they choose to;
Your work is invaluable. May you find joy and fulfilment in your children and support and appreciation in your partner and community.
For the Mums who are doing the parenting on their own:
May your workplace be understanding, your health be robust, your community helpful and may you know what a good job you are doing, even when you are exhausted and feel overwhelmed.
For the mothers who cannot care for and nurture their children as they would like, due to poverty, injustice, oppression or disaster.
May the world see your anguish and hold out a hand in friendship to help you and your family to a better life.
For the step-Mums and adoptive Mums and foster Mums, who look after and love children of other birth-parents:
May your role be supported by all those around you and may your relationship with your children be happy and life-giving for all of you.
For all the women who ‘mother’ children not their own, be they work charges, or students, or patients, or children of friends or just children who need a friend:
May you find such a friend in your times of need and may you know how much your support meant to that child.
For the Mums who have no especial troubles, but who ‘just‘ love and nurture and read the books and drive to netball and help with homework and cook the tea and wash the clothes and clean the house and fill in the forms and go to the concerts and shiver through the footy matches and bandage the knees and hug away the broken hearts and teach sewing and baking and karate and swimming and fishing and camping and reading and music and love.
May you have partners who know how to drive the iron and the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine, who aren’t afraid of tea towels and who make an excellent cup of tea (or beverage of your choice) and may your children occasionally spontaneously remember the things you have been trying to drum into them since birth.
And most of all, for my Mum, who taught me how to read, when I couldn’t wait for school; who brought me cheese sandwiches and flat lemonade when I was sick; who loved me even when I was a right teenage cow; who came to concerts of music she’d never heard before because I was in them; who made my lunch every day of my education; who taught me how to sew and cook; and a million other things, far too numerous to mention here.
May you know how much you are needed and how much you are loved.
Thank heaven for the Mums. God bless ’em, every one!
Happy Mothers’ Day.
PS: The picture above is taken from the World Vision Facebook page. Click on it (or the link on the left) to be taken to the page and find out how you can help other mothers!
I wrote this several years ago, when my child was small, as a Christmas gift to my women friends. I’ll have to write an updated one, as I have yet more to be grateful for now! But in the meantime, on this International Women’s Day, this one’s for the women:
Thank you, God, for the blessing of the women in my life.
Thank you for the ones who, when you are in tears because you have too much on your plate, won’t tell you that you need to plan better, but will come around and take your child so that you can have a break; finish the job; do whatever you need to do, to stop crying.
Thank you for the ones who will take your child for an unscheduled sleepover on a school night, just because you have been in hospital.
Thank you for the ones who spend four hours making cribs for homemade baby Jesus-es just because they are beautiful and the kids will love them.
Thank you for the ones who praise your gifts and overlook your failings.
Thank you for the ones who, no matter how spotless their houses are, never remark on the state of yours.
Thank you for the ones who understand that, when you don’t call, it’s just because life has got on top of you and not that you don’t care.
Thank you for the ones you invite you for dinner at the drop of a hat – and really mean it.
Thank you for the ones who actively like it when you drop in unannounced.
Thank you for the ones who cook like angels and don’t mind giving you the recipes.
Thank you for the ones who will drive your mutual friends out to see you, even when it is out of their way.
Thank you for the ones who bring food, rather than flowers, in times of crisis.
Thank you for the ones who bring flowers when there isn’t a crisis, just because.
Thank you for the ones who make you laugh – and who laugh at your jokes.
Lord, they say that women are like teabags – you never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water. What they don’t say is that there is no such thing as one woman in hot water – because when one falls in, you’ll find another dozen jump into the pot with them to cool the water down.
Lord, I am humbled by, and grateful for, the love you bring into my life through the women in it.
Thank you for the women.
I was amused to note, as I typed this, that I think I can still name the woman who inspired each sentiment. How lucky am I, to have had and still have such friends?
The day may come when I am not an over-the-top, self-sabotaging eejit, but it is not, apparently, this day.
Here’s what happened:
This January, as part of a positive approach to the new year, focused on more, not less, I decided that I would eat more fruit and veg and exercise more.
I already probably eat more veges than a lot of people, but I thought I’d go all out and try to get my two fruit and five veg, every day. And I can always do with upping my exercise.
So I pulled out all the stops. I bought more fruit and reminded myself to eat it. I brushed up on what constituted a serve of veges and even set up a spread sheet to keep track of progress.
Are we getting an inkling that trouble might be around the corner? Are we feeling the shadow of overdoing it? Are we?
Well I wasn’t. Not yet. I was just keen and keeping myself accountable! These are good things, right?
And it went well, I thought. I ate MORE than two pieces of fruit, some days! I kept track of the veges. I loaded our dinner plates with salad to the point that the other members of my salad-loving family couldn’t eat it all – but I stoically ploughed through.
I noticed that my weight, which has been stable or slightly reducing for several years now (which is a good thing, after a lifetime, on and off, of disordered eating) was increasing!
It couldn’t be the veges, surely? They’re healthy! So I must not be doing enough exercise! I had dropped off a bit over the summer holidays. No problem. I was going to the pool anyway. I’d just up the duration. I’d go for an hour every day, instead of half an hour and I would prioritise the endurance movement over the stop-start strength work.
But then my knee, which is still recovering from an old injury, recently aggravated, started hurting and I admit, I got a little panicky. The soundtrack in my head went something like this…
I’m doing all the right things! I’m eating so many veges I think I’ll master photosynthesis any day now! I’m exercising for an hour several days a week and pushing for more! But I’m still gaining weight! Why does the world hate me? What can I dooooo?
Can you hear the hyperventilating though the computer?
Every perfectionist, diet-scarred, self-flagellating trigger I had was being stomped on and I was at serious risk of succumbing to The Fear – and that way, madness, bingeing and depression lie.
(‘The Fear’ btw, is my shorthand for the irrational reaction that comes from having your buttons pushed and leads you to freeze up, stop thinking clearly and do things that send you in the opposite direction from your goal. I am regrettably prone to it)
I took a deep breath. Oh, let’s not kid ourselves. It was quite a few deep breaths over a couple of weeks. But they let me think. Really think, instead of letting the perfectionist panic take over the brain space.
And I realised a few things.
In my enthusiasm to hit my fruit and vege targets, I had been ignoring the mindful eating that I have worked so hard on in recent years and which is largely responsible for the stable weight. After years of dieting, learning to get back in touch with my body’s cues about when I’ve had enough is an ongoing effort and apparently, easily forgotten, when I have another goal. And guess what? Even veges can put on weight if you eat your own body-weight in them on a daily basis!
There was a reason why I was doing all that strength work at the pool. It’s because that’s what my POOR KNEE, STILL RECOVING FROM AN INJURY, needs. HOURS OF REPETITIVE STRAIN IS NOT HELPFUL YOU GIANT NUMPTY.
General health advice is not applicable to every person in every situation, SOMETHING I HAVE KNOWN SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER, but apparently can forget at a moment’s notice.
Knee-jerk (ha!) reactions and my perfectionist tendency to overdo things can still come and bite me in the bottom if I am not vigilant.
I have chilled out on the fruit and veges. I am still trying to increase the vege content of my meals and still buying more of the fruit I like. But I have stopped recording it in the spread sheet, since that seems to be setting off my extremist tendencies.
I have reminded myself about the mindful eating and have restarted the hypnosis app I use to support it subliminally. And guess what? The weight is going down again.
I gave my poor knee several days of complete rest and have started using my walking pole again. (It’s not the sort of stick you rest on, more of a bush-walking aid. It helps me stay balanced and it keeps me from favouring the knee and causing more trouble.)
And today, I am going to the pool to do my strength exercises, in the warm hydro pool, which is why I started going to the pool in the first place and which, clearly, I still need!
It’s chastening, at my age, to realise that I am still prone to the same loony-ness I’ve been battling my entire life. (If I was talking morals, I guess I could describe perfectionism as my besetting sin. 😉 )
But at the same time, it’s encouraging to discover that at least I can recognise it now, have a laugh at myself and reset, rather than hopping straight on the shame spiral that leads to self-destruction and self-hatred.
So, despite starting this with a sigh, I’m going to count this as a win. Onward and upward! Gently! And I’m going to have some gratuitous Aragorn, to remind myself that, while the day has not yet come that I am over my own craziness, nor have I given up – and that is, after all, what the quote is about.
Do you have any unhelpful behaviours that stalk you, ready to pounce if you let your guard down? Any that you’ll admit to, to help me feel less of an eejit? 😉
It’s been a bit serious on the old blog of late, so I thought I’d lighten things up with some snippets from youtube that have amused me lately.
First, in honour of Valentines day, the adorable lads of Out Of The Blue are here to sing you a song:
Next, we have the inimitable Miriam Margolyes (who I’m pretty sure was born without any f**ks to give and who I want to be when I grow up): WARNING FOR THE GENTLY NURTURED: MIRIAM MARGOLYES IS NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK, CHILDREN, OR PROBABLY LIFE. (Funny, but.)
And then, a very short visual explanation of why I’m a Cumberbitch to my bootstraps. Phwoar! (If you’ve seen the season of Sherlock this is from, you’ll know that this might not even have happened and Molly will never have Sherlock to keep, but none of that matters. It’s still amazing!)
And now I must climb out of the youtube rabbit hole and do some work! Enjoy your Wednesday!
So yesterday, a young man knocked on my door. I live in the suburbs and work from home, so his happens from time to time. I always answer the door, because about half the time, it’s the postie delivering something and I really don’t want to have to go to the post office to pick it up. Occasionally, it’s even a friend or neighbour! But often, it’s someone who wants me to do or buy something (and yes, I consider changing electricity providers as ‘buying something’).
If they are collecting for a charity, I consider the request. If they are kids selling school fundraising chocolates or the like, I buy some. (It’s only neighbourly and I am, after all, a writer. Coffee and chocolate are necessary adjuncts to the creative process.) If they open with ‘I’m not selling anything,’ they get short shrift, as I object to being lied to. (The politeness or otherwise of the short shrift depends on whether they let me get a word in edgewise and how well the writing was going before they interrupted.) Continue reading →
This graphic came from my new friends at Feel Good February. A friend put me on to them the other day I thought it was a fabulous idea. The graphic below explains the concept, but you might want also to visit their website or Facebook page. Continue reading →
So Donald Trump is the President of the United States and a lot of people are very frightened.
I am a student of history (literally, I studied it at university) and I see very alarming parallels between the actions of the Trump administration and the early days of Hitler and the Nazis. I’m not alone in this. The tweet below went viral this week, because many people can see the same similarities.
I am worried about where this is going and I am worried about what is happening right now. Continue reading →
Okay, I’m going to make myself unpopular here, I’m sure. Because these days, it seems that everyone has a cause and the way they show their social responsibility is by being a giant pain in the arse about it. And dog help anyone who dares to suggest that they should get off their soapbox for a second. But I’m still under the influence of the Honesty Ferret, so what the hell, I’m going to suggest exactly that. (At some length, too, because it’s taken me a while to tease out these ideas, so consider yourself warned!)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am the last person to say that one shouldn’t have ideals, causes and campaigns. As someone concerned about the environment, poverty, women’s rights and social justice – and far from quiet about any of those issues – it would be very hypocritical of me to say anything of the sort.
And I’m not going to mention a certain person, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that there are changes happening in the corridors of power in 2017 that are making a lot of people very edgy.
But I’m here to say that it’s precisely because there are important issues in the balance – vital issues, matters of life and death – that we have to be nice to each other. When the world appears to be going mad, we HAVE to find ways to talk to each other, even when it seems we are on opposite sides of a chasm.
Let me explain.
I think that, if you truly want to change something – a big complicated something that requires a society-wide change – you need to change people’s hearts and minds. Continue reading →
Every now and again, the ‘battle’ between ebooks and paper books rears its head again, in the columns of media outlets with slow news days on their hands. I think, as I have always thought, that it’s kind of silly, so I wrote a silly thing in response. If silly is your jam, I think you’ll enjoy it. 🙂
Ladieeees and Gentledudes! It’s here! What you’ve all been waiting for!
The stoush of the century, the showdown to beat all showdowns, the take-no-prisoners death match of all time!
In the red corner, we have the champion, the old faithful, the never-beaten, bastion of taste and quality, the protector of all that is good in storytelling, the… PRINT BOOK!
And in the blue corner, the upstart challenger, the take-on-all-comers, cheap and cheerful bringer of the apocalypse the… E-BOOK!
It’s going to be an epic battle, one for the ages, so settle in and…
The man with the microphone halted abruptly, startled into silence by a tug on his sleeve. He wouldn’t normally have been put off his stride by a trifle, but this was no normal tug. The hand on his sleeve was made of words. Or, more accurately, one word. The word ‘hand’, swelled in some places and twisted in others to make a workable finger and opposable thumb. It was supported by the word ‘arm’, elongated to cover the distance between him and the screen of the e-reader in the blue corner.
He rubbed his eyes, but the hand didn’t go away. Then he heard the voice again.
“I think you might be misrepresenting our relationship.”
There could be no mistake. The voice was coming from the e-reader.