#oneword365 it’s taken me a while to choose my word this year. I have had a few I was considering but I then had an epiphany moment, a paradigm shift of sorts. I realised that the words were all about ‘doing’ and all words that I could hold myself accountable to.

If there is one thing I want for this year it is to say goodbye to a performance based life. So my one word is enjoy.

I had got to a point of not enjoying much to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of enjoyable moments but they eventually become hijacked by this sense of performance and achievement.

I stopped enjoying church because I wasn’t doing enough. Why was a I there? What was the point?

I struggled with accepting my friendships and relationships because I wasn’t doing enough within them.

I stopped writing because I wasn’t doing it the right way or about the right things and I wasn’t doing it the way it should be done.

This year, enough is enough.

This year is about enjoying…

I’m not going to hold myself to account about doing. I’m not going to judge my performance of achievements- I am going to enjoy the day to day, not waiting for the next event, or thing but living in the moment and enjoying.

The first cup of coffee in the morning – savoured.
The quiet moments of the day – relished
The frantic activity when spending time with my son – delighted in
Daily commute – rested in
Conversations – no more second guessing just listening

It’s a lot about letting go of untruths I have held on to for a long time and freeing myself from ridiculously high standards I can never live up to.

It’s time to enjoy…

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I have noticed that more and more people are talking about their desire or attempts to live up to, become, be more like the confident people. The people who have it all together. The people who breeze through life. The ‘have it alls’.

You know the ones? They walk into a crowded room and can immediately engage and dazzle with their scintillating conversation. They are able to juggle every area of their life with ease and they are always happy. They don’t experience fear, doubt, worry or low self esteem.

The rest of us are constantly struggling with ‘ impostor syndrome getting overwhelmed with the sense that we are continually winging it and eventually we will be found out and exposed for the frauds we really are.

The things is… the more I talk to people and admit to the fact I feel I am perpetually winging it through life, the more I realise that most other people would say they are doing that too.

People I thought were confident and extroverted actually turn out to be introverts with a good amount of bravado. The calm, serene people who seem to breeze through life actually admit to being like ducks – paddling for dear life under the surface.

So, I’m starting to think it’s all one big lie. That the ‘have it alls’, the people who breeze through life – they don’t actually exist. It’s a facade. A facade that causes each of us to set ourselves impossibly high standards that we can never reach and therefore we can enjoy beating ourselves up about it for the rest of our lives.

I could be wrong of course. So, I am asking just to check, just to see –

Will the real confident, breezing through life, have it all people, please stand up?

Stand up and show yourself if you love introducing yourself to new people and making small talk – never doubting for a minute or being held back by limiting beliefs about yourself.

Stand up if life is a breeze, you never experience anxiety or worry, you don’t have stress.

Stand up if you have never once felt like to a certain extent you are just winging it and you will one day get found out.

Stand up if you have it all and you never feel guilty, or that that you compromised on something or that you sacrificed one area of your life to improve another.

Stand up if you are there.

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On Sunday I did something new – I admitted my life wasn’t perfect into a microphone at the front of church.

I told everyone that I had a row with my husband right before hosting life group that week and that when my life group arrived I told them too.

I can see a few of you cringing at the thought of it – the thought of opening up your life like that, of exposing your humanness.

You see, we work so hard at hiding, hiding our faults, hiding our mistakes, hiding the very fact we are human and fallible.

All of this hiding has to stop. It has to stop because it is exhausting, it takes up almost every fiber of energy we have and it causes us to miss out. We miss out on the opportunity to let people into our messiness and the opportunity for others to feel less alone.

Guess what? After I admitted that Sunday no one accused me of failing at life, of falling short, of dispelling the myth of perfection. In fact, I am sure I audibly heard people breathe a sigh of relief, of release even.

I wasn’t mortified either, I felt very much more alive than I have in a while – it was liberating!

You see we’re very happy to model and be examples of things like prayer, giving, serving, bringing words, being out in the community, leading… I could go on but no one wants to be an example of messiness do they? No one wants to be an example of falling short despite the fact we all fall short.

The thing is until more people are happy to speak out and stand up and say ‘I’m a mess, I get it wrong a lot but this is how I’m working through it.’ all we are doing is perpetuating the myth of perfection and ultimately I believe that is far more dangerous, damaging and devastating than being vulnerable, open and sharing our fallibility.

So I’m making an attempt, my own little stand to stop it happening. I am breaking free of ‘Sunday face’ and attempting to fully embrace what it means to be real.

Anyone else want to join me?

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1. Mugs – yes, mugs – you have hundreds of them, in fact you have a whole cupboard full of them and none of them match. Also, you begin associating mugs with certain people in your group or you may commit the odd faux pas when someone asks which drink is theirs ‘You’re the cow…’

2. Beverages – for one you actually use the word. You have enough varieties of teas and coffees to stock the local cafe – decaf, filter, flavoured, caff, chai latte, hot chocolate etc. Oh and things you will never drink but you know others like – decaf early grey or lemon and ginger anyone?

3. Coasters – You have an inordinate amount of non matching coasters. These are not for your benefit but to prevent the mortified looks when you claim people can put their mugs directly on to a surface.

4. The 30 min dash – Half an hour before everyone’s designated arrival you run around hiding mess in spare rooms, re-cleaning the bathrooms for the 3rd time (just in case) realising you have run out of milk and that you are down to the ‘boring’ biscuits like rich tea (aaah, the quintessential Christian biscuit)

5. Slippers – You know you have definitely arrived as a life group host when people bring their slippers to wear to your group. You yourself should also wear slippers and perhaps have a few different pairs to spark conversation while everyone waits for drinks.

This is by no means a definitive list – please feel free to add to it in your comments.

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately (dangerous I know!) about my blog and its purpose.

You see, I was challenged to begin it as a way of telling my story and stories online. It is if you like, my life played out.

I know that I should attempt to find a niche, a topic, a neat little box to fit into and by doing so I could use numerous techniques to develop a following. The things is, that’s not going to work.

I write my blog about my life and my life doesn’t fit into neat categories or a niche. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher ( maybe ex?), Christian, book lover, product reviewer and occasional ‘Ooh an opportunity to blog’ type of person.

This isn’t a Christian blog but I will discuss my faith, this isn’t a mummy blog but I will talk about motherhood and baby products, this isn’t a book review blog but I will review books, this isn’t an educational blog but I will talk about teaching, students, young people.

This is my blog, about me, showing how my life is a number of different facets and aspects of a whole. I write from the heart and want to be me.

You are very welcome to join me in my journey, join me as I turn the pages and play out my story, but I won’t fit neatly into a category and I would love to apologise for that but I can’t.

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As I sit and write this post I am jobless. I resigned my teaching post during my maternity leave as my request for part time hours could not be accommodated.

On 6th June my maternity pay ends and I am yet to find a new job.

You see, the thing is after nearly 12 years of being in the teaching profession I don’t know if it’s for me anymore.

I haven’t become old and jaded but I’m not sure I have the same passion that I used to for it. I am passionate about young people, about them feeling empowered and safe and nurtured but not about targets and grades and performance management. I am passionate about investing in the lives of young people but not about making them jump through hoops.

I have worked in mainstream, PRU, Alternative Education, SEN and within each it is only a matter of time before it becomes about everything else but quality time with the students and to be honest, that’s never what I signed up for.

I am torn, don’t get me wrong, this has been my vocation, my calling for 12 years, I have eaten, breathed, slept teaching for the majority of my adult life.

Right now, I question if it is where I am best used. I question if my heart is still in it, if I can inflame my passion for it again. It’s frightening.

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how everything is going to work out.

I do know that the world looks at me differently now I am a mother. I do know that many will question why I would sacrifice a career.

My perspective has changed, my faith has changed. I have been given skills, abilities and passions and I am called to use them to make a difference.

The question is where?

I haven’t ruled out teaching, it is almost synonymous with who I am but I don’t want to just go through the motions anymore.

So yes, I resigned without a new job to go to. Yes, I stuck to my guns about wanting to work part time and yes, despite the uncertainty of it all, I feel it is one of the most sensible decisions I have ever made.

I don’t know what the future holds but one day I will, for now, it’s about holding fast.

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So yesterday I struggled to even get out of bed. It all felt too much and I had hit my limit.

Today, I woke up after 8hrs uninterrupted sleep and felt perky yes, I said perky! I didn’t even need the caffeine in my coffee first thing but I had it anyway.

My mind could no longer comprehend any of yesterday, it was like a distant memory or bad nightmare that had dissipated into nothingness.

Bank Holiday Monday – seems to have crept up on me, maybe because the last one was not all that long ago!

We had planned to go out with life group up to London. Now really, this should be more of an ordeal with a 7mth old but it’s actually pretty easy. One train and we were at Blackfriars and then most of London is walkable – forget tubes and buses, it’s all about on foot!

Now, there is something important about going out together as a group – stronger bonds are formed and you develop a real sense of belonging! Being the only ones taking a baby could have added stress but it didn’t because our friends don’t make an issue out of it.

There is a great pub directly opposite Blackfriars Station – called The Blackfriars Family enough and that was our first stop for a coffee

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It’s got an amazing interior. We had started off sitting outside but the sun had decided to hide behind a cloud and there was a bit of a chill in the wind.

One day, I want to eat in the restaurant part!

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At this point my son was asleep, dropping off soon after we got off the train.

We continued on to The Punch Tavern.

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This felt a little like a railway station and was a stark contrast to the previous pub. If you are into Gin, they have their own Gin menu and you can sample a number of different flavours. We stuck to juice!

Lunch had been factored in at a Wetherspoons – 1. Cheap to eat in London. 2. Family friendly. 3. Decent facilities ( baby changing is kind of important!)

Unfortunately, the chosen pub was closed so we shall have to visit another day but we did find another Wetherspoons – The Moon on the Mall.

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Little man had woken up at this point and happily sat and ate his lunch in a high chair.

Being in London, we decided to visit a Nespresso Boutique to buy some more capsules and also to test out the new coffees at the tasting bar. There is a huge picture or George Clooney on the wall you can be photographed with too!

After this, a walk to The Red Lion but it was closed (again to save for another day) and so homeward bound we headed through St James Park to Victoria Station.

The great thing about London is you can walk for miles and not feel it as you are so taken in by your surroundings, the pubs we visited were all baby friendly and didn’t bat an eyelid or tut about us being there.

We walked and chatted, enjoyed the scenery and the sunshine.

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Another plus was our friend taking lovely photos and seeing little man so happy all day. He got tired towards the end and needed a little carry put of the buggy for a bit but it’s all do able.

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Having a baby does change your life but it doesn’t mean you can’t get out and do things. It takes a bit more planning (especially when they are weaning!) but there is no reason not to go for days out. I love that little man has been out exploring London on a few occasions now and I hope to make it many more.

Today I was in community and being in community is good for the soul and that’s something I want to make sure little man grows up knowing.