Posts Tagged ‘Real life’
Posted in Books/Reading, Daily Life, Faith, Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer, Private Vows, Scripture, tagged Carmelite, Faith, Family, Ignatian, Prayer, Private Vows, Real life, Scripture, Silence on Thursday, May 12, 2016| Leave a Comment »
Awwww it’s the most beautiful day here in sunny Milton Keynes, UK. The kind of lovely day that I’d like to wrap up in pretty paper and send to you all so you can share it.
I make no apology for banging on about prayer in my last two posts, it’s something I feel I need to, ‘get down on paper’ if you follow me. Sometimes you just need to write things down to make them stick.
I went to the taster session on Tuesday evening, as a forerunner to our, ‘Week of Guided Prayer’ which starts in June. It was all I knew it would be and much more. I signed up then and there and paid the small donation. I came all home full of anticipation for what I’m thinking will be a wonderful week. It’s certainly a fabulous opportunity, a bit like being on an individually guided retreat but at home. Perfect!
I found myself craving that silent, peaceful place that a retreat provides. It isn’t necessarily a ‘real’ place, more a state of mind really. A silence that comes from within so that, even in a busy street, you can be silent and still on the inside. Since giving up work in December I’ve created a lot more silence in my daily life. I’d always been a Radio 2 kind of girl, a constant murmur of background chatter and music; but of late even that has been turned off.
I watched, ‘The Big Silence’ [further reading] yesterday to remind myself what it’s all about and how difficult it can be for some people to just settle into the silence. That was me a few years ago, struggling to be at peace without a TV or radio to fill in the blanks, now I crave that silent time because I know that God is there in the silence.
We’re using a book called, ‘Patterns of Prayer’ by Eugene McCaffrey, OCD at the Carmelite contemplative prayer group that’s just started in my parish. It’s the most wonderful little book, the kind of book that makes you want to read each page over and over to soak in all that it has to say. It speaks to me on so many levels. Anyway, I wanted to share a small part of it with you as it’s relevant to this post and Eugene puts it so much better than I can:~
Silence is an essential condition for listening. Prayer is born in silence, a still receptive silence that enables one to hear the deep vibrations of the spirit. Silence is our way of helping God so that he can help us. We try to be still, conscious of our own poverty and of our own need to hear and to receive. Silence is much more than an absence of words or noise, much more even than just being quiet. Rather, it is a response to our whole being reaching out to grasp the word of life. It is an alert and attentive receptiveness to “hear the word of God and obey it” [Luke 11:28]. Like the boy Samuel, we cry out with our whole heart, “Speak, for your servant is listening” [1Samuel 3:10]. pp28-29
Earlier in the book it says that it takes two to pray [p26] and I think we often forget that. We are not alone in that moment, God is with us, always. But we need to listen and in order to hear Him we need to be silent. As Fr Christopher Jamison says in, ‘The Big Silence’, “Silence is the gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God”.
Peace and blessings
Hello lovely people. I thought I’d just go with a newsy chat today. It’s my birthday [53, ouch] and I’ve given myself the day off. Well, as much as any wife and mother ever gets the day off; I was still up at sparrow’s fart and have done all the usual morning chores and the school run but, other than that, I’m not doing much else. I might get my crochet out in a while and try to finish Ethan’s Cosy Crofter Throw. We’ve finally transferred him, and most of his belongings, to his new room and I have to say that it’s looking very nice. I thought we’d struggle to fit all his ‘stuff’ into his new room but he’s become a bit of a minimalist and has been totally ruthless about recycling things that he’s not played with for a while or that he thinks he’s grown out of. However, he informs me that the room just needs a nice throw on the bed to finish it off so I need to get a wriggle on.
I share my birthday with St Catherine of Siena’s feast day. It’s lovely to share my birthday with a special saint and if I’m lucky enough to go to Mass on my birthday [which I did today] then it makes for some great readings within the service.
After sharing the crocheted sock pattern in my last post I was excited to give them a go straight away. Unfortunately I discovered that the only 2.5mm hook I had was a grey Pony one, but I find them very difficult to use now. As I’ve got older my hands have been prone to cramp and I have a ganglian [deep joy] on the back of each hand, so gripping a very thin, metal hook really makes my hands ache and, after a few hours, I also get a blister on one finger. Pony hooks were all I used years or so ago but I had to find an alternative once my hand problems started. Now I’m a ‘Clover Amour‘ convert, and I’ve never looked back, no pain, no blisters, no cramp. So, back to the story ~ without both hook sizes I couldn’t really start the socks 😦 . I ordered one immediately along with a couple of balls of plain sock yarn [be rude not to huh?] to use for the toes, heels and cuffs. I’ve got some beautiful 4ply sock yarns but they’re all multi-coloured. If you click on each photo’ below you’ll be able to see exactly what the yarn is and which colourway.
As soon as the new yarn and hook arrive I’ll make a start and be sure to share anything I achieve on here. I’m trying very hard not to have too many projects on the go at once or I’ve discovered nothing gets finished as I hop from one to another depending on mood. So, I’ve allowed myself one large and one small project at a time. Ethan’s throw is the large one and these socks will be the small one. It is working so far.
The sun is out here as I type but the clouds are looming and there’s a bitter chill in the wind. I have to confess that I’ve put the heating back on. We’re out for a quick tea tonight, something of Ethan’s choice which I suspect will involve a burger. Tomorrow I’m going out for a meal with my beautiful daughter, Millie, so I’ll be twice my normal size by Monday!! lol Oh, and did I mention cake? No hope!!! 🙂
It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK so we’ve got an extra day together which is perfect given it’s my birthday weekend. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and enjoy your extra day off if you’re lucky enough to have one.
Look!! My Cosy Autumn Hexi blanket has grown a little bit. The pattern is lovely to work and so simple I’m not even having to refer to the written instructions now. More to follow as I progress.
The sun was streaming into my kitchen today as I was enjoying my first cuppa of the day. Thought I’d share the scene with you guys xx
Posted in Daily Life, Faith, Family, Frugal Living, Ignatian Spirituality, Private Vows, Uncategorized, tagged Faith, Family, Ignatian, Lent, Private Vows, Real life on Saturday, March 12, 2016| 6 Comments »
I like to think I live a simple life but in reality what does that really mean? This is something that I’ve been pondering extensively during Lent this year.
I’ve said before that we, as a family, try to be frugal in what we buy, the things we use, while looking closely at our needs versus wants. We very rarely buy clothes, we wear what we have until it falls apart. We grow a few fruits and veggies in our little garden and we try to only buy things that we really need, things that we’ll actually use [so not taking advantage of a bogof offer just because it’s there]. This avoids wasting resources and money. We have this beautiful planet to care for so we each need to try to do our bit, and I suspect that very few of us actually do all that we can. Surely it’s all relative though right? What I see as frugal, someone else might view as actually quite extravagant. It’s also dependent on where you live, here in the UK my life is relatively simple and non materialistic; drop my lifestyle and my little house into the slums of Calcutta however and I’d be living like a queen in comparison. There is a selfish element to our frugality too, the less money we need the less pressure there is on us to earn huge amounts so we can take simple jobs and work to live, not live to work.
Does living out a life of simplicity just stop at what we buy though? My lifestyle would probably seem really boring to those looking in, however we view it as simple, not boring and we live this way through choice. We rarely go out socially except very occasionally with immediate family. We neither of us smoke and I don’t drink except for a cheeky cider on special days. Our idea of heaven is to be at home together, so going out is not all that enjoyable for us. We are both real home birds and although not anti-social by any means, we tend to keep to ourselves.
As a couple, our whole approach to life is quite simple; slow down, enjoy the moment, appreciate what’s around you even if it’s howling wind and teeming rain. I love listening to the wind howling and the rain lashing the windows, especially if I’m just drifting off to sleep. If you’re busy rushing around [which is unavoidable sometimes] then it’s really easy to miss those simple beauties.
What about simplicity of thought? From a faith perspective I have also found it really useful to keep that simple to. After all God simply asks us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and [very importantly] love ALL others as ourselves. I’ve noticed that this only becomes tricky when I allow other stuff to get in the way. Things from my past, things that are man-made and not God given, expectations of society etc. All of these can create a very negative thought process in me which takes up way too much head space. While I’m busy doing the, ‘I’m not worthy’ number on myself I’m not being the woman that God wants me to be. So, I’ve learnt to keep it simple; to remember God loves me, that He sent His son to save me[us] and that His mercy and grace are freely given through faith and love. It really is that simple. People want to make it more complicated but seriously, it really isn’t.
I’m a bit of an Ignatian woman at heart, and I love the simplicity of their charism, primarily to, ‘Find God in all things’. He’s there in the beauty of the Mass, he’s there in the amazing sunrise, but he’s also there while you’re washing the dishes or sorting the laundry. It’s simple, you walk with God, He walks with you….all the time and everywhere, not just on Sunday and not just in church. That fits nicely with my other favourite saying by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Let’s be honest, that’s most of us. We’re not all going to be doing earth shattering deeds each day, not all going to be saving lives or finding a cure for cancer. However, we can all do those simple small things, smile at someone in the street, chat to the person next to you in the queue, hold open a door, hold a friend’s hand while they share a sadness or a worry. These are not big things on the face of it, but to the old lady who sees no one all day your smile or friendly word is everything, your friend will never forget that time you spent listening to them with love and concern. These are HUGE things to them but they’re simple to us.
On the face of it, living a life of simplicity probably doesn’t seem very exciting or worthwhile until you look closely at who benefits from it. If we slow down, lift our faces to God and give our hearts freely to all those around us then everyone we meet benefits. We benefit too from the lack of stress and self-imposed pressure. The planet benefits because, hopefully, we give back more than we take. I love this way of living. In this fast-paced materialistic world I need to be reminded of who I am, where I’m going and why I’m going there. Simplicity in life and faith is the perfect foundation for that.
Good morning lovelies xx
It’s sunny, it’s Friday and it doesn’t get much better than that. The horses in the paddock opposite are looking very chilled as you can see. I’m just back from celebrating a wonderful Mass with the equally wonderful Fr Peter, who is a retired priest from a nearby town. We don’t have a parish priest in residence at the moment as our last one moved on and he cannot be replaced due to the general lack of men taking up the priesthood. Sad times but hey…we get Fr Peter on Fridays and he’s just lovely. I can’t get to Mass fast enough because he is so welcoming, charismatic and funny too. He’s obviously seen a lot of life and it really shows in his relationship with us, the faithful. We are truly blessed by him…even if he does tease us by mentioning bacon sarnies on days we’re meant to be fasting 😆 x
Anyway, I’m waffling…I’m sat here with the standard cup of frothy coffee on my desk, Honey at my feet and a few things to share as it’s the end of the week. The week got off to a great start with Ethan’s excellent secondary school offer [see previous post] on Tuesday, but sadly that same day he was sent home having passed out three times in class. He is incredibly squeamish and we think it was something they were reading about in their group reading session [it was nothing massively graphic but, in the story, someone had just cut their head]. Anyway, poor little guy went down like a stone. Luckily his teacher caught him as she could see he was going by his truly dreadful colour. He was out for a while and fainted twice more before they could actually get him out of the classroom and down to the medical room at which point I was called. The school did a super job of looking after him. Ethan’s become very squeamish over the last couple of years but never actually passed out, until now. Something worth watching I think just to be sure that’s all it is. The children in his class were amazingly well behaved during all this which was most impressive as I would think it must have been quite scary for them to see Ethan out for the count on the floor. He was very quiet and subdued for the rest of that day and had a bit on an adrenalin hangover on the Wednesday but was back at school and is fine now.
As I said in my last post, I’m a bit of an early riser. It’s a habit formed when I was working and, so far, I haven’t been able to break the 5.30am wake up. I do love the early morning, the silence while everyone else is sleeping. The calm. Time alone with God who feels very tangible somehow during those early hours. I’m also loving the lighter mornings, aren’t they just wonderful? The sky is just beginning to lighten at half-five with a hint of a bluey-grey tone…the light of the day to come, slowly creeping into the house, gently embracing each room. Perfect!
Something silly to make you smile or possibly groan. I ordered a book from Amazon, a small book. It was delivered yesterday by Amazon Logistics [whoever they are] but I was out. Okay, no biggie you say but strangely they delivered it to a neighbour of mine…then emailed me to say it was with my neighbour. Yep…clear so far. Then Jill, said neighbour, posted it through my letterbox…….hmmmmm. So, if Jill could fit it through my letterbox why couldn’t the Amazon delivery guy?? No, it wasn’t, ‘to sign for’. Yes, it’s a very obvious letterbox. Not one of these fancy black jobs with an opening the size of a gnat’s whisker…. I’m left wondering…….but it made me smile.
Finally, some crochet. As most yarn addicts will appreciate I have a few projects on the go or WiP’s as they’re called [Works in Progress]. Here are a few photo’s of one that I’m very close to finishing. If I’m honest I’m not sure I’m all that happy with it as it stands, but I know from experience that once you add the finishing touches such as a border etc., what was once a dismal failure can turn into something quite lovely. So, here’s hoping. This is my Cosy Patchwork Granny made using this yarn pack from Wool Warehouse . I did buy an extra 100g of the Claret though because that’s what I’m edging each block with and I’ll also use that colour to join them together. Might even use it for the border but not certain yet. I’ve got about another five blocks to finish. I’ll post an update when there’s something worth seeing. I loved the colours in the pack as they had a lovely cosy, autumnal feel but hmmmm this might not be the blanket that does them justice. We’ll see. [click on each photo’ to see it enlarged]
That’s me for this week I think. Tonight my little lad and I are having a film night [at home], we’re going to be watching the new Avenger’s film, ‘Age of Ultron’ with the usual supply of popcorn and nachos close at hand, it’s gotta be done :). I’m off to help at church tomorrow and then Mass again on [Mothering] Sunday.
I wish you all a blessed and peace-filled weekend. Sending love . . .
I’m just back from the school run and sat here with my cup of frothy coffee. The rain is battering the windows and the horses in the paddock opposite look mighty unimpressed, although some of them are wearing some rather fetching overcoats. I’ve been up since sparrow’s fart [5.30am] because, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today is D Day regarding secondary school place offers here in the UK. Now, I knew that the offer would probably ping into Si’s email just after midnight and yes, I was originally going wait up and read it. However, as the fated hour drew round I realised that A) Si was at work as he works nights only in his new job so I was alone to face any potential disappointment, and B) If the offer was not what we’d hoped then I’d probably be awake for the rest of the night worrying. So, I decided to NOT open the email and go to sleep. Which surprisingly I managed to do. Whoever said Essex girls don’t have self control?? Ha!
So, there I was at 6.20am with the farting sparrows; the tablet fired up; a cuppa in the pot and suicidal cats wondering where their food was; waiting for Si to come in from work. [Honey, our Basset wasn’t ‘up’, she really doesn’t do mornings lol] He was equally as amazed as you guys that I’d not opened the email lol. The good news is that we got our first choice of secondary school for Ethan!! **does victory dance around the lounge** However, we also know how lucky we are and our thoughts and prayers go out to those who will undoubtedly not have got their first choice and quite possibly not even got a school that was on their list of choices, this does and has happened. Ethan’s off to the only catholic secondary school in MK. I think relief was actually our overriding emotion to be honest.
Enough basking in glory then and onto to something else ~ clarification. Hmmm I was thinking last night, during my long wait until midnight, that although I did historically have regular followers on my blog who ‘knew’ me well, there might be new readers [due to the change in focus to crochet etc] who don’t know anything about me at all. The bit I’m thinking of here is faith…. I don’t want people to think I’m all pious, that Catholicism is the only way forward and that I’m bigoted or dogmatic about my choice of religion. I just want to put this out there and make it crystal clear that yes, I’m catholic [converted in 2009], Ethan is being raised a catholic and we love our faith. My husband however is not religious and no, that does not cause us any problems. Most of my friends are not religious and among the few who are some are Muslim, some are Hindu, some are Christian [and of many denominations] and some are just spiritual. I celebrate and appreciate all religions and faiths, I don’t choose friends on the basis of their faith or beliefs. I am not judgmental and have a past that is cringe-worthy at best [sounds of skeletons rattling in the cupboard] and I spent many years not being of any given religion, and in fact was Buddhist during the years leading up to my conversion to Christianity in 2006. I don’t tend to talk about my faith anywhere except here and sometimes at church. If anyone asks me about it I’m absolutely happy to share but it won’t be me who raises the subject first. This blog started back in the day as a means to record my faith walk and it [the blog] has changed focus and direction many times along the way. I no longer feel the need to record that journey in quite so much detail but it is nice to have somewhere to write about the ups and downs that come with being a woman of faith. To be honest, it’s really hard to find anyone to talk to properly about religious issues because it is such a taboo and inflammatory subject so this blog can be a good outlet for that occasionally.
Okay, I just wanted to put that out there before people think, “Ay we’ve got a right one ‘ere.” and never darken my blogstep again. . .
Right, I’m going to wake-up Si who is off tonight and we’re going out for brunch…have a lovely day all…stay warm and dry XXX
Hi lovelies xx
Did anyone wonder if I’d been abducted by aliens?? No?? lol As you can see my blog has morphed once again. I don’t want anyone getting bored 🙂 . It’s been nearly a year since I last posted, ahem!! **looks slightly shame-faced** Life takes over and pressures of work become overwhelming. . .well, you all know how it is.
As I’m way overdue an update, here goes. . .
I gave up my job as a Teaching Assistant in December ’15 partly because quite frankly I’d had enough [don’t get me started on the pressure of working in a school etc etc.] but mainly to see Ethan  through his Year 6 SAT’s and into secondary school in September. I may have to return to some form of paid work for financial reasons at some point, but for now we’re surviving quite nicely.
Si has also left his school job and is now a warehouse operative, working nights. He loves it, especially the lack of pressure and stress. Don’t get me wrong here, we both loved working with children [him senior, me primary] and if that was all there was to it then great. Sadly, that is not how it is…you only have to look to the media over the last few years to know how challenging working in a school has become, for everyone, not just support staff. Fine if you can leave it at the door but if you care at all about your job then it’s impossible not to take it home with you. There comes a point when your sanity is more important, we both arrived at that dark place at pretty much the same time. Nuff said but the right decision for both of us without a doubt.
I’m still heavily into crochet and have completed a few projects, most of them since Christmas. Some finished ones below and one just begun…the Crofter’s Throw in the variegated yarn [rest your cursor over or click on each image to see the caption]. There are other ‘works in progress’ but I’ll save them for another day.
So, you can see why I’ve revamped the blog with more of a crochet theme. I was thinking about starting to sell some of the things that I make. A few people have already asked for commissions so there is work out there. However, I’ve promised Ethan a new bedroom first…and I’m a woman of my word. I just love wielding a paint brush and roller about with six cats trying to ‘help’…oh the joy!! The gloss and ceiling are all done…just the walls to go and Ethan tells me that he’s helping with them….gulp!!
My faith has become very settled, at peace is probably a better term. I’m in a very good place. Ethan is about to take his First Holy Communion which is his choice; it had to be as I wasn’t going to insist and it was totally his decision which is just as it should be.
I notice that my last post was in Lent of 2015 and here we are again, just starting week three of Lent 2016 and yet another journey towards the cross. The joy of not being at work is that I can participate in Lent totally. This is a time of huge growth and discernment for me, I can feel change is in the air. It’s scary, but it’s good scary and I will share properly in another post.
So I will leave it there. Interestingly I believe that tomorrow, or rather midnight tonight to be irritatingly precise, we’ll receive notification via email of which secondary school Ethan will be going to. I’m hoping for one of our four ‘choices’ [I use the term loosely] or we’ll have to go through the hassle of appealing which I can well do without. Think positive Sharon, think positive. I’ll let you know. . .
Peace and blessings to all
I knew two things for certain when I awoke this morning; firstly that it wasn’t time to get up [how do we know that without even looking at the clock?] and secondly that someone had obviously replaced my throat with a sheet of sandpaper. Swallowing had become a serious challenge overnight….
I hit the back-light on my bedside clock which instantly produced a beam of light that would not look out of place in a Gestapo interrogation room and sent Simon groaning in hasty retreat under the duvet… As I squinted at the clock it told me it was a nice, tidy 5:00am precisely, a whole hour until alarm time. I knew it..!!
As I lay there trying to work out how ill I actually felt the realisation hit me that the awful [guilt ridden] decision had to be made whether or not to go into work today but, on the back of what has been a truly rubbish week workwise tempered with a rather depressing and negative Parent/Teacher interview on Wednesday evening, the decision was easily reached. I’m not one for pulling a sickie without good cause but I have to be totally honest and confess that never has a viral infection been quite so welcome ~ no heroic struggling in to work for me today.
Ethan is now safely delivered to school and I am back in my cosy little house. Yes, I do still have to take Ethan in which feels so wrong professionally given that I’m off sick but, unless I’m bed-bound, I can’t justify asking Si to take him because he should leave for work at 8:00am so it would make him very late.
The kettle has boiled and I’m about to [between sneezes and snuffles ] put a lovely brew in the pot and pop a couple of slices of wholemeal bread in the toaster. Proper comfort food for the proper poorly person . Then it’s going to be a sofa day with some hand sewing thrown in. I’m still producing hexies hand-over-fist and I love watching my stash of colourful, fabric discs growing and becoming something quite wonderful with just a few stitches and a bit of imagination.
Is it me or is it suddenly very chilly and wintry?? I am seriously considering popping the heating on as any more jumpers and I’ll resemble the Michelin Man.
So, we’re back at work and school now after a rather wonderful six weeks off. Despite being back to the grind Si and I are still riding high on the ‘feel good factor’ of being newly weds. I never thought it would really change anything but I do in fact feel different. More settled somehow, like the future is sorted and I’m sure of my direction. It’s a nice, warm, cosy feeling and long may it last. We’re stupidly in love and still grin inanely at each other when any mention is made of ‘marriage’, ‘wedding’, ‘wife’, ‘husband’ etc. You get the picture I’m sure 😆 .
Work feels more settled this year too. Having done nearly two years at the school altogether, and one of those in a set placement I am entering this year feeling like I might actually know what I’m doing now ~ not sure my colleagues would agree however 😉 .
The children have moved on a year too with Ethan entering Year 2 [third year in primary] and Millie having finished [and passed] her ‘A’ levels. On leaving school she immediately secured a modern apprenticeship at a day nursery here in MK where she will eventually become a fully qualified nursery nurse. She’s already nearly three months into the job and is loving it.
I’m reading a couple of books at the moment ‘Nella Last’s War’ being one. It’s the first of a trilogy and it’s a work of non-fiction [autobiographical type] written by Nella herself. She wrote diaries during WWII for the Mass Observation Board who asked for people to submit in writing their thoughts and feelings on everyday life in Britain. These books are a compilation of those very diaries. The MOB started this in 1937 and continue to this very day. Nella’s diaries begin in 1939 and continue on until her death in 1968. I’m loving these books [as I did the film based on diaries ‘Housewife, 49‘, although in my humble opinion the books are better] and I’m enjoying getting to know Nella and her life.
I’m also reading ‘Mere Christianity‘ by C.S.Lewis which I’m sure needs very little introduction or description from me. I’ve been meaning to read it for years but have just never got round to it. If it inspires me to write something then I’ll share it here. I’m only on chapter 4 so too early to put pen to paper really.
My faith is ticking over nicely, still very comfy in my Catholic ‘shoes‘. I’m not sure my ‘shoes‘ are in vogue compared to most other catholics but hey, they’re mine and I’m comfortable in them and no one seems to be laughing or mocking my rather eclectic taste in religious fashion. I’m back to Mass on a weekly basis and I’m enjoying the simplicity of actually living my faith rather than just reading or writing about it. Afterall, no good talking the talk if you can’t walk the walk. I realised a few weeks ago that I was doing alot of what I call academic faith ~ studying, reading, writing about it and not so much of the practical faith ie actually doing and living it.
At the end of the summer I met, for the very first time, my friend Allie. We have known and conversed with each other via cyber space for years and we share a faith and a love of God as well as a deep friendship. I drove to Allie’s house and we had the best of days just spending time together. We also took a quick visit to Douai Abbey which has the most wonderful atmosphere and is so light inside. We have also become Prayer Partners as we found that we were sharing causes needing prayer anyway so we’ve put it on a official footing now and try keep up-to-date regularly. It was a lovely end to a fabulous summer and I’m already looking forward to the next time.