Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Adult or Fake?

I've been thinking for a while - What does it mean to be an adult?

By many standards I am; I'm in my mid-late 20s, married, own a house, have a car, have my second graduate job and know I could look after a pet if I wanted one, which I don't.

But really, I feel like I'm faking it.

There are days when I still don't manage to have three proper meals, and I'm certainly not getting my 5 fruit or veg a day.
I still leave it slightly too long between washing my hair too often.
I don't jump out of bed like the child in me thinks adults do to ensure everything is done before I have to leave the house – the reality is that I drag myself out of bed with just enough time to pick up most of the things I need for the day and get out of the door to work.
I don't pray as often as my spiritual director would like me to.
My work-life balance never seems to be, well, balanced.
My teddy bear still sleeps in my bed with me and my husband.
My house is and always has been messy.

I'm hoping it isn't just me...

I read an article that really annoyed me the other day.
It's about parents dropping their children off at school in their pjs – I'm going to leave judgement on that as I often went to lectures or the library at University with a hoody and jeans thrown over my pjs, I wasn't an adult then though so I think that is expected.

The line that annoyed me most was “But perhaps most importantly of all, [getting dressed] creates the reassuring illusion that grownups are vaguely in control of life rather than constantly defeated by it.”


Are we in control of life and if we aren't why do we have to keep up an illusion for children or for each other that we are?

I know I could keep my house tidy if I really wanted to. I'm sure that is because I'm lazy rather than just rubbish at being an adult – but child me was sure all adults liked tidying! I guess it all comes down to priorities, for example my washing pile is generally kept at a manageable size and husband always seems to have clothes to wear for work, whereas I have so many clothes I'd have to be in a really bad state for me to run out.

Often as children the things they look forward to is, having the money to buy all the sweets they want and being able to choose their own bedtime. The former is all good, but the latter I'm not sure I'm responsible enough for that.

I remember a few years ago been given some advice in my preaching which was to "be real" so that is what I'm doing.

I'm hoping I'm not on my own. 
This isn't really a confession but more of a declaration.
I'm an adult but I haven't mastered everything yet. 
I've not got everything as together as I thought I would have. 
But that's ok!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Learning to be Married

Just a warning before you spend a couple of minutes of your life reading this - I'm not sure this blog has a point! Really all I'm doing is keeping track of some of the changes that have happened since getting married.

But first I need to start where I last stopped – with my lent blogs that I didn't get round to writing...

My theme for lent – which I very obviously didn't manage to blog about – was companionship. I spent time with colleagues and friends at our conference, I moved in with a family for a few nights – re-earning my name “night time Rachel.” Someone joined my knitta natta group, making a spectacular two regular members, went to MWiB forum and the last ever World Mission Forum and finally I got married!

So now I'm learning to be married. A friend of mine, just before he was about to celebrate his first wedding anniversary told me that the wedding plans is good preparation for marriage – learning to combine the two families and work together as a team. He was right.

Firstly, as the answer to the question I've been asked the most (“How's married life?”) Married life is so far so good!

There are many things I'm learning and that are changing. We are much more different than I ever knew. There's a whole blog in introversion / extroversion if/when I get round to writing it.
One of the things I've noticed is that we ball socks differently!
I didn't even realise there was more than one way to ball socks!
I ball socks completely, whereas Husband just balls them slightly and leaves a tail.
Matching up odd socks is my job – along with the sorting, washing and putting away of clothes. I now ball socks in both methods, mine my way and his his way.
Part of it is for practical reasons – my socks are colourful and are easier to tell apart from the ball, Husband's are mainly black with coloured heels and his method means you can see which pair of socks they are still. So I've changed the way I ball socks – but only his. It's also about ensuring I'm not taking over, even if just a small way.

Has marriage changed me? Yes.

There are other things that have changed. My name is the most obvious thing. Though just to confuse most people I decided to be a Ms rather than a Mrs. It hasn't worked on somethings, for example I went to the Doctors to change my name, they photocopied my marriage certificate and never asked me about my title or actually my surname.
When talking to people about this I've had some very interesting responses.
One person did link feminists to terrorists... as they both push their views on other people, I'm not sure they really meant to compare me to a terrorist, but that is what happened!
“I'm a Miss and proud!” Good for you!
“Isn't that just for divorced people” No – and I'm glad I can help educate you in this.
“Oh why are you doing that?”
Well it's about a choice. In the same way I chose to have the same surname as my husband and that that was to be the one he was born with. I've also chosen that my marital status shouldn't be important when all you know about me is my name. It's not that I am not proud to be married. Part of it is being inspired by my A level Psychology teacher, who was the first Ms I met.
Also – while I'm on names what's with everyone saying “Hello Mrs New-Surname” It means I have to remember their surnames to reply “Hello Mr/Mrs/Rev ...” and makes conversations much more formal.

I like being married, I like being Ms New-Surname and most of all I love not being in a long distance relationship anymore.

Things have changed, and I've changed, and most of all I now ball socks differently!

PS – I've also started offering to go on walks, even when there isn't ice cream – it's strange this marriage-lark.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Back in the blog seat for lent

Hey loyal readers!

IThere are two main reasons I've not blogged in a while.
My life seems to revolve around two main things.
Work and Wedding.
Firstly it probably wouldn't be very professional of me to share the stories of my job, the families I work with don't deserve that, neither does the church. I'm not saying that in many years time my "call the Midwife" style memoirs won't be interesting but its not something I can generally blog about day to day.
The wedding again has two reasons for why I haven't been bloging about it. You as the reader will fit into one of two categories. Either you are invited to the wedding so I don't want to ruin the specialness of the day by boring you with all the details - like how many kg of fish gravel I currently own, or the palaver of trying to get hold of enough glasses. Both of which are funny stories, so there may be a "50 things I've learnt in planning a wedding" blog after the event. The second group of you are not invited - and you will know by now if you are in that group (sorry!) I don't want to bore you with an event you can't come to. You may think that you won't get bored, but I can talk non stop about my wedding - just ask my fiancé!

Getting out of the blog seat regularly means that I haven't done my usual round up of the year, so in a sentence or two...
2014 was a year of settling and preparing. Obviously with the momentous engagement in the middle.
I was in my house, getting established at work, knitted lots, painted a room or two and went to Rome - and got to give out the bread in communion which was very special.

I'm bloging today to announce my very exciting lent blog series - which currently has three rough blogs in my head. The series will be exploring what lent means to me this year. I'm not committing to blog every week, and I'm not using the MWiB lent reflections like last year - the 2015 ones can be found here if you want to have a go.
But I am going to share small amounts as I prepare for Easter as a married women.

So bring on lent!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Us and Them

You never think it will happen to us, it's something that happens to others.
How often do people in the news say that statement?

I've been to two different mental health training sessions in the past week, the first one was trying to normalise mental health, giving the scary statistics that 50% of people the NHS is working with have a mental health issue. The one in four of us will have a mental health issue.

We hear it about physical health too – 1 in 3 people will get cancer in their lifetime.

The second lot of training – today – talked about us and them. This training was focused on self-harm, and the speaker talked about how “we” as “normal” people dealt with distress instead of “them” the people who react badly, which leads to self harm.

How does he know that in that room of 8 people who work with young people that we aren't or weren't self-harmers.

It's made me ponder two things:

1, we assume that everyone is like us.

2, we assume that noone is like us.

In the ways we are “normal” we assume that everyone else is like us. It's why LGBT people have to come out, but straight people don't. I met for the first time one of my fiancé's colleagues recently, and before I met her I asked him what she looked like. The picture in my head was totally different – I realised it was based on someone else I know who does a similar job to her – but also similarities to myself.

In the ways we are the “them” we assume we are totally on our own – not helped by the way that so many things are still taboo; mental health, abuse, some physical illnesses. We don't talk about things, we assume we are the only one. Sometimes though when you open up, let down your walls you find out you have more in common with others than you think.

I've always said “Everyone is a little bit broken.”

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Spinning plates in a snowy valley

Do you ever feel like you are spinning plates in a snowy valley, and you are one snowball away from everything crashing around you. Life is busy. That is generally how I like it. But right now I could do with things calming down. It feels like if it's not one thing it's another. With Work and Wedding, preaching and praying, faith and worship and a polite word beginning with f to describe housework (?)

My wedding has a DIY strand to it, which I think will be great but demands a lot of time.
My work seems to have me dealing with one thing after another, with many meetings, much worship preparation, huge amounts of admin as well as working with some wonderful families.
Preaching is something I love, but don't feel I can put my all in to at the moment.
Faith and worship is so near yet so far (that's my Local Preaching training if you don't know)
And then there is cooking, cleaning, loading the dishwasher, and all the other houseworky type things, to ensure I'm fed, watered and clean.
Then occasionally I try to have a life!

I don't think it would take much to totally knock me off balance from where I am at the moment. I like the snowball imagery, its more than just a drop of rain, but it's smaller than a foam-ball – and I've had one of those in my face recently (delightful 9 year old)

The one thing that is helping me keep my plates spinning is prayer. My spiritual director has challenged me to pray for 40 minutes every day. I don't tell you this to boast, but more to be supported and accountable. But also because I've found Psalm 121 very helpful. “I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.” You know, to be able to lift your eyes to the hills, you have to be in the valleys. Sometimes it seems like its too dark, or too snowy to see the hills, but we should always raise our eyes, and find God. Through my prayer time I've found God to be close at hand, all around me in creation and that he cares for me.

I don't often blog overtly about my Christian faith. I've talked about MWiB and what that does. I've shared some of my passions that come out of my faith, but I don't often talk about the God who loves and cares for me. The God who is close. The God who knows everything about me, and longs for me to reach to out to Him.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Tradition vs feminism

So I've been engaged a whole week, and I don't think I've ever made so many decisions in such a short amount of time. Nor spent so much time either on the phone or with my parents since I lived with them. Even Fiancé has called his Mum about three times this week.

We've also had different reactions from people. Fiancé has had more friends arrange to go out and celebrate with him, whereas I've had more cards - addressed to us both but sent to me. But he's had money in cards, whereas I haven't. 

I've pondered a bit over gender differences this week. 

So here's the thing. I'm a bit of a feminist.
I told someone I was a feminist a few months ago, her response was to check I was still with my boyfriend.  I replied yes, and so she said I wasn't much of one then.
Obviously thinking all feminists are lesbians!
I'm not going into to my equality rant right now, about why I'm a feminist, you just need to know I am.

I'm also quite traditional.
It was me who told Fiancé I expected him to ask my Dad's permission. 
I expect Dad to walk me down the aisle and present me.
I'm a little sad my Mum's name and occupation won't be on my wedding certificate.

This has been the balance in my head all week.
There has been a couple of moments when I've thought and possibly even said,  I want ... and I'm the bride.
The whole debate about which church we get married in, came down to this as well, really. Though practicalities won in the end.

Maybe I want an equal marriage and a traditional wedding. Is that me wanting it all. Having my cake and eating it? What a funny phrase that is. Of course you eat the cake you have, otherwise what is the point of having cake.

I don't have answers, just yet, and I think its something I'll reflect on over and over during the next 8 months of planning - oh yeah, we have a date!

Any thoughts, comments, ideas, ponderings and support gratefully received.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

This is it

When I was about 6 or 7 I went to a ballet class, and we did a show that was called "this is it" with a title song to match. We have it on video somewhere. 

This blog is it. The blog I've wanted to write for many years. The one people have been expecting when I've given other news.

It is the same with phone calls. When I was given my note to preach in feb 2010 I rang my family excited about starting the Local Preacher journey.  They were surprised I wasn't ringing to announce my engagement!

But now I am. Our families have been rung / emailed, we are facebook official and this is it, the blog of how he finally did it.

My Fiancé and I have been together for just over 5 and a half years. Meeting at a train station for MYC back in 2007 and getting together a year and a day later (via Msn) in 2008.

Years have passed and life has moved us around a bit,  but we are now at a point where we can actually see us building a life together.

Friday 4th July dawned a grey morning, after originally making plans to walk up a hill and have a picnic we decided to scrap the picnic and just take some cake with us.

As with every other time we go anywhere I'd asked Boyfriend if he was going to propose,  and if he had a ring. Replying no to both, we went off for this 2 mile walk to a little towery thing near where I live.

I made some comment about halfway up the hill if he was going to keep suggesting walks knowing I'd say yes if I thought he might propose on them. He likes walking more than I do.

We got to the top and looked at the old, now covered well, and the tower and worked out which towns and cities we could see before sitting on the bench to eat cake and take photos to prove I walked somewhere. 

Unbeknown to me, when Boyfriend got the phone out of the bag to take said pictures he also moved the ring into his hoody pocket.

Sitting back next to me on the bench he said some beautiful things, something along the lines of, you are beautiful, and amazing, and will make a wonderful wife and I love you. 
To which I replied "that would make a good proposal speech"
Next thing I know he's down on one knee with the ring out.

For someone who has wanted this very moment for years, and even thought about how to respond,  I was speechless,  shocked and said oh.
I took the ring out of the box and asked him to put it on my finger.
We kissed. And it was only a minute or so later that I realised I hadn't said yes yet. I checked with Fiancé this was the case, which it was and gave my affirmative answer.
This was when the shock of it actually happening hit me and we sat down, and took the photo of the ring before the walk home, and the visit to my mum.

So this is it.
I'm engaged!

Just watch out as this is when I become a wedding bore or worse a bridezilla.

Thanks for journeying with me so far.

Your newly fiancéed friend.