- My favourite colours are grey and yellow; but, when asked I always answer blue or green. I have no idea what this means or says about my personality.
- I love reading; I am an unashamed book worm. I read every day – novels (of a wide variety), blog posts, non fiction books (mainly about Christianity or Feminism, or both), articles. Always something.
- In a similar vein I become very attached to fictional characters both in print and on screen. Shonda Rhimes slays me. #derekshepherdgonebutnotforgotten
- I daydream. A lot. I am always off imagining something, building my own stories and narratives. I have done this since I was a little girl when before I was two I had imaginary friends, it is both a wonderful thing and has the power to be damaging, in the sense that I struggle to live in the “now” and appreciate all that I have.
- I don’t worry about ageing, I look forward to it. I value wisdom and kindness above all things and I look forward to the day when I have wisdom to pass on to others and can also rock a purple fur coat and a red beret, just because I’m 90 and don’t care.
- I believe in magic, miracles and the power of love.
- If I hear a song on the radio or on my ipod I can happily sing along, knowing all of the words. If you ask me to sing that song or ask me who sang it or the name of the song at a random time, I can’t help you. Unless it’s a Rod Stewart song or something I listened to on repeat for a period of more than two weeks at a time (examples of this include Boys II Men “End of the Road”). I don’t know why my brain works like this.
- Similar to Glennon Doyle Melton – I feel like I might be called to do big things for God, like working for and helping others, possibly by being a counsellor. However, I have trouble doing small things for God, like not being judgmental about judgmental people. See 9.
- I get very angry about people who are racist, misogynistic or plain ignorant and are mean to others; basically those who do not act with love. My response to these people is decidedly un-Christian – i.e. I imagine saying nasty things to them and calling them out because they make me MAD. I know that these feelings might be justified on some level, but my extreme anger is something I need to work on. I need to be more understanding of people and perhaps focus on asking God to help me communicate with them.
- I am a crier. I cry a lot. Probably about 3 times a week. I cry at the news, YouTube videos of kids with disabilities, at random acts of kindness or any examples of anyone showing humanity and love. As a favourite writer of mine says I am “elevated to tears” on a regular basis.
I got a new job! One that will hopefully allow me to pursue studying and even possibly a career change further down the line. I am thrilled as I have been unhappy at my current place for a while, I never really settled there.
All terribly exciting! BUT. Wait. immediately after the initial thrill and pleasure I began worrying about the “ending” at my current role. My imagination got totally out of control with how bad my boss was going to take it because I was letting him down and how terrible it would be working out my notice period. I even imagined him throwing me out of the office without time to clear my desk.
I had a couple of contract queries that needed ironing out yesterday and once they were, I signed on the dotted line!
So, today I finally had to summon the courage to tell my boss that I was leaving and full of trepidation, sweating profusely with a beetroot coloured face – I went into his office. Pretty sure he guessed what was about to happen as soon as he saw me.
Anyway, he couldn’t have been more lovely or understanding about it all, saying he had noticed over the last few months that the commute was taking its toll and I didn’t seem my usual self. He had lots of complimentary things to say and all in all it will probably be a really pleasant last month as I know I’ll be leaving. I’ll probably even cry when I do. It’s just what I do: I am an unashamed cryer (ENFJ for the Myers Briggs fans out there).
I really need to work on not being afraid to end things for fear of upsetting or disappointing other people; it makes you do things you don’t really want to do just because it’s easier than saying no. I touched on this in one of my earlier posts as it’s something I know I need to be conscious of this coming year.
Jen Hatmaker talked about this in a recent blog post when she said that a friend advised her:”if it isn’t a “HELL Yes!”, then it’s a “no””. So very true.
So from now on I am being brave enough to end things that I no longer want to make time for. I need to because the universe has other ideas about what I ought to be doing with my time and is clearly trying to make that happen, so I should embrace that and move forward without fear, following the signs, as Paulo Coehlo would advise.
So, I am a Christian. In case you hadn’t gathered this already, dear reader.
Until quite recently, I always kept this aspect of my identity quiet. Growing up in British society which is largely secular, along with the huge amount of negative press and publicity that Christians and the Church get, I felt it was (I was) safer this way.
My Mum is a Christian, she took us to Sunday School and enrolled us at a Church of England Primary school where assemblies were always about God. No one questioned whether you were a Christian because up until age eight everyone in my small circle was one. Well, almost. My Dad would not describe himself as a “Christian” and didn’t come to church with us. My maternal Grandmother was a very vocal atheist. I remember calling her for a Religious Studies homework project to interview her about her views on “life after death”. She, matter of fact, responded that “you die and get put in the ground and that’s the end of it.” “Okay, thanks Gran!”. Cheery.
At secondary school your Christian role model in popular culture was either Dot Cotton or Britney Spears. Wowzers. The two could not be more far apart.
Dot from EastEnders was annoyingly self righteous, a “bible basher”, a bore, constantly quoting lengthy scripture at other characters who were “sinful”. Also, she was old and made terrible fashion choices. At age thirteen this is not someone you wish to be associated with.
Britney Spears and other Americans burst on to the scene with their purity rings and promises. They were Evangelical, and seen largely as hypocrites, at least in the circles of my teenage youth, where, rightly or wrongly, you were believed mad to want to wait for marriage to have sex. That probably says a lot about the British youth.
When questioned about faith, I would always answer honestly, but I didn’t have many friends who went to church and if they did they went to Catholic or Church of England churches like me, high brow stuff, none of this emotive Evangelical nonsense for us Brits, thank you very much.
I still go to a Church of England Church, I am comfortable in the liturgy, in the quiet. I have been to other styles of worship services, including Evangelical, and whilst I have enjoyed and gained something from those services I always come back to what I know.
I took Religious Studies as an A-Level and it was by far my favourite subject. I loved the discussions and learning about the different thinkers and their ideologies. It was around this same time that I became more comfortable with identifying as a Christian – but QUIETLY, only to those who already knew me and wouldn’t be “put off” by such a declaration. I hoped that they would like me in spite of my Christianity if they found out about it later, having already decided I was cool*.
I have been a quiet Christian my whole life. I don’t have an amazing testimony of how I came to know God, I just always have. I have often known God’s presence, and I have never, to date, lost my faith, although I often question HUGE aspects of it. I mean, I have SO MANY questions and hardly any answers. I have shied away from announcing it to people, and have always felt the need to quickly follow it with “I’m not anti gay though!”. For the record, this is as true now as it always has been.
What a shame. A shame that that is how Christians are seen, as the Dot Cotton characters, judge-y, unwelcoming and holier than thou.
The only way I know how to be a Christian is through Jesus. To me that means showing love, compassion and kindness over fear, anger and judgment to EVERYONE AT ALL TIMES. This is of course, a hard task, and I fall short every day.
In 2014 I decided to explore and live my faith, I had questions and doubts and I wanted to know more about this God and his son to whom I have always prayed. I felt that I wanted to be a true Christian, so that when I described myself as one I wasn’t (a little bit) ashamed.
At the time, on social media, there was a trend for people to post #100daysofhappiness posts. I decided, in my usual enthusiastic way, that I would do this, with a twist. Mine were accompanied with #100daysofgratefulness even though I still don’t really get the hashtags.
Surprisingly, I did it! For all 100 days I found something different to be grateful for, even if it was something very small. I will publish some, if not all, of my 100 posts here on this blog. I thoroughly enjoyed the project, it gave me a new perspective and helped me to lead a more positive and joy filled life. It also led me to discovering lots of new Christian writers and thinkers and developing my understanding of what “being a Christian” means in real everyday life.
I didn’t get off to a great start though, it took me a while to warm up. My first one was a moan about the trains being late, but I was grateful for the fact that I had undertaken my first volunteering session on an advice line for women. #100daysofgratefulnessday1
#theydogetbetteripromise #slowlearner #volunteeringisgreat #britishtrainsarerubbishthough
*Hahahaha. I was NEVER cool. I always tried to be nice though which tended to work. I still strive to be cool and fail, miserably.
In no particular order the books that I read and made most impact on me in 2015:
- Carry On, Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton. If you haven’t read this, read it now, then find Glennon’s blog on Momastery, read all of the archives and follow her on every single social media outlet. Become a Monkee and take part in all the wonderful things she does like love flash mobs and the Compassion Collective.
- Faith Without Pretending – Dr. Anne Townsend. I am lucky enough to know this wonderful lady personally, she is clergy at my church and her preaching days are my favourite services. What a life.
- The Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning. There is a lot in this book but you come away with a sense that you are loved and you want to *do* better.
- Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee. I had big, big expectations after TKMB. I was not disappointed. Wow.
- Elizabeth is Missing -Emma Healey. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, it was a gripping storyline and very British. It dealt with a sensitive subject in a sensitive way.
- The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton. This was a wonderful mystery. I don’t normally pick up mystery books but this was recommended by a friend and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Beautifully written with unexpected plot twists, I really had no idea what would happen next.
- Out of Sorts – Sarah Bessey. I loved Sarah’s first book “Jesus Feminist” and I was lucky enough to hear her speak in October at the Woman 2 Woman Conference in London about her faith. I adore Sarah’s writing, she makes theology relatable and pertinent to every day life. Sarah is one of my favourite bloggers and writers.
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr. I picked this up in Waterstones after a recommendation that read “if you liked the Book Thief (which I did, I LOVED it, in fact) then you’ll love this”. True.
- Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was bought for me for my thirtieth by a friend with excellent literary taste. Completely different and, dare I say it, ground breaking.
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho. This completely blew me away. I cannot believe that I had not heard of this author before a month ago. I got three more of his books for Christmas and will be using my library car to read every single word he has written. Ever.
No, I don’t mean in the relationship sense, I’ve got that one down – signing up to 25 years of London mortgage together will do that to you!
My word for 2015 was “learning”. I wanted to read more; I am and always will be, a complete book worm, usually averaging a book every two weeks, but, for reasons unknown, I had only read a handful in 2014 so I wanted to re cultivate the habit of reading. I managed to read 24 books in 2015 and the ones that made most impact can be found here*.
I specifically wanted to learn more about myself. It was the year I turned thirty, changed jobs and considered an entire career change…it was a big year, although I only had an inkling of all of this at this time last year.
I thought a lot about the career change; I currently work with people, which I enjoy, but there are other aspects of my job which I am not so enamoured with. I had been seriously feeling as if I was being called to become a counsellor; this had led to a lot of soul searching in late 2014 so I decided to bite the bullet and in January 2015 I enrolled on an introductory course at the City Lit which taught me more about myself than I had ever imagined.
I learned that I like to please, I have trouble saying “no”, I don’t like confrontation, I am an authority and people pleaser which leads to some stress and anxiety and I learned about how I cope with that. I plan to write more about all of this at a later date, I mean, who doesn’t not like parts of their job and who knows what they’re being “called” to do (what does that even mean?)?? To be honest, even as I wrote that, it all sounded a little self indulgent, a little first world, but for now, let’s just say that I found it fascinating and I have decided that it is definitely something I would like to pursue, the wheels are now in motion to hopefully make this a big part of 2016.
In 2014 I kept a gratefulness diary; again, this deserves a post of it’s own as it was part of a new commitment to “live my faith”. However, in 2015 I expanded on this – I read the entire Bible with the help of a reading plan and app at She Reads Truth. This was a great learning experience for me, totally overwhelming at times, but wonderful to be able to share with a community of women who were reading the same verses and generously providing their insights into the meaning and interpretations of the text. During Lent I also completed two separate studies, one through my church, and another through the same app, both were insightful and helpful to my faith journey.
I am excited to enter 2016 with a new word – committed.
I want to be committed to writing/blogging, committed to continuing bible study, committed to reading more (26 books being this years aim), committed to pursuing the possible change of career and all the many shifts and changes in focus and priorities that will inevitably lead to, and finally, on a more personal level, as I am now thirty, committed to more exercise and healthier eating**.
I will also be attempting to say “no” to social activities more, not only will this help my financial state of affairs, which, for a thirty year old, working, professional woman are somewhat dire – blame that mortgage, it will also help me with tiredness and a feeling of being overstretched. As much as I love being out and about in London with all that the city has to offer I also need to recognise that I need time to wind down and relax at weekends after a busy week of working and commuting. So wish me luck with this one, it’s probably going to be the most challenging, particularly as all my weekends in January are already booked up. Great start.
I am excited for 2016, there are lots of goals I want to accomplish!
*I hope, technology is hard.
**I’m sure I have this one every year, but hopefully with the added pressure of having to look good in a bridesmaid dress in June I will be more, shall we say, committed?! I know, I know. Perhaps I should be committed to working on my jokes.
N.B. Image is my own; that’s me, considering the view from Cubar Edge, Peak District in October 2015, chanelling my inner Lizzie Bennett.