be careful what you wish for…

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Graham Cooke refers to them as ‘grace-growers’. Others might call them irritants. A thorn in the side might be apt. I refer to those people who basically get under your skin and brings out the most horrible parts of your self- and if you’re like me I just sit in the corner, saying Lord have mercy on me, because I want to smash their face in. (Sorry)images-1.jpeg

I have been on three residentials for my Masters Programme and I have allowed Andrea to totally intimidate me. My issue not hers.

The lecturer sat us together as we are both serving Head teachers. However, I am only really a pretend Head Teacher because I co-own the school. She on the other hand is a ‘proper’ one. She, like me, is fairly strong-willed and opinionated. However, unlike me, she would often just mutter negative things under her breath. I HATE THAT. Either speak up or shut up. I HATE people that don’t have the balls to own their stuff. I REALLY HATE IT.

However, she was an extremely smooth operator and clever cookie and spoke just enough, showing off her ball-breaking style, and in her own words, ‘I’m really hard-core.”

Weekend 1, day 1, I held my own with her. When we disagreed I could justify my stance. By the end of day 2 I had retreated in to myself, living in fear that everyone would find out what a fraud I was, and that even though I had opinions, I had no substance. By day 3, she called in sick with food poisoning and my relief was palpable. The men were in awe of her, the lecturer seemed to hang on her every word… I on the other hand, was caught in that, I wish I was as strong as you, married with I think you are really not a very nice person and I don’t want to be that kind of leader.

Weekend 2, she was absent. (School couldn’t possibly do without her). Weekend 3 she returned with gusto. I tried to make conversation. I felt like I was far too common and unimportant for her. I shrivelled before my own eyes. I couldn’t understand why everyone else seemed to think she was so amazing. (including myself at times).

It was clear she was having a hard time at work and was very tearful. (She had been head hunted for a prestigious school and her current bosses were really upset she was going and were making her life a misery…) They had bad-mouthed her and she was suing them for 2 years salary, she was doing blah, blah, blah…. And then my self-loathing creeps in- why am I so judgemental? why can’t I be more supportive? why am I always so jealous? why don’t you believe her? why do you resent someone else’s success?

This battle in my mind was raging for two days.

At the end of the second day, she went home. She had been suspended from her post for serious mis-conduct. My colleagues all took the stance she was being bullied and vilified… except 1. In a tongue loosened by alcohol, someone else let it slip that may be I wasn’t alone in my feelings.

I had spent all this time, wishing I was more like her… more knowledgeable, strong like her, more gutsy… and actually just may be the facade was as false as my own one is. Sometimes you really do have to be careful what you wish for! Unknown.jpeg

 

 

 

surrender

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I was chatting with my friend Fiona while in France. She mentioned a friend of hers who describes herself as a recovering alcoholic. I identify with addicts- regardless of the flavour. All addiction is addiction. Thankfully some of my behaviours are far more socially acceptable and one could argue not quite so harmful to my own body- but the process is the same. Addicts escape. And the desire to escape is sometimes so strong that it is literally all-encompassing. Sorry, I digress.

Her friend, will often talk about the need to surrender. She doesn’t drink because she surrenders to God. Her God, happens to be the Christian Jesus, I am aware that in the 12 step programme the ‘Higher Power’ is less prescriptive. I personally relate to Jesus and when Fiona mentioned it, I felt quite a peace in my heart. I knew who I could surrender to. I have taken those moments of peace with me. I am fully aware that surrender is a continual process. Its not one moment of surrender and that’s done. Any one in recovery knows that it is continual. Moment by moment, step by step, tear by tear surrender. And its quite liberating.

On my ill-fated walk up a French mountain, which happened to be the same day as this conversation. I may have missed the proper destination. But instead I found this.

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I am not very good at measurements, but it was massive. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Much much bigger than a person. Majestic. Surveying the land.

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I stopped and lay down in front of it and sung to Jesus. It was the only thing I could really do. As I stood up, a saw a tiny crocus, that thankfully I hadn’t squashed. It made me smile.

I didn’t have a Damascus moment. I didn’t hear voices, I didn’t see visions. But I had a few moments of peace- and let me tell you, in the turmoil of my mind, that is the greatest miracle of all.

As I trudge through things at the moment. I constantly think of Fiona’s friend who has to surrender so as not to drink. I think of her as I try and do the same.

And to every brave soul who has to surrender to survive- I totally salute you. You are amazing.

Thanks for listening.

 

around the corner…

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Following on from my holiday moments, I was away at the weekend on a study residential. It is located in a beautiful hotel and setting. The previous two times, my only wondering has been from the car park to the reception. As this was my last one, and following my missed moments in France, I thought I would see what I could find. IMG_2550.JPG

I stirred myself in to going out for a work… a comfy sofa and cross-stitch was far more appealing- but I decided that I really should not be so lazy all the time.

I have travelled to a variety of countries, but Im not really an explorer. I always travelled with intention- to visit someone, work in a project, do a certain thing… I’ve never travelled for the adventure. There aren’t really any things I want to see either. My usual goal in life is to do as little as possible, preferably with cup of tea in hand and being horizontal. A book or yarn in hand is the Brucie Bonus.

But I decided to ‘explore’. I turned left instead of right and walked. And I quite literally came across the most gorgeous lake. One moment it wasn’t there- the next moment it was. It was such a gift. A true gift. IMG_2552.JPG

So may be sometimes, its good not to accept the status quo and perhaps see if there is more out there?

Thanks for listening.

round the corner

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Unknown.pngThe shift described in my previous post had started. And it continued.

 

 

I really do find myself extremely frustrating and very difficult to manage most of the time.

One of my frustrations is that I feel like I can’t do ‘normal’ things like other people. I compare myself to other people a lot and always come up lacking (like we all do).

Other people can drill holes in walls. Other people don’t get lost as easily as I do. Other people can measure sizes better than I. Other people are nicer than I am… other people manage to have food in the cupboards and clean floors… you know the usual script we all tell ourselves.

But one thing that I was determined to conquer this holiday, was my frustration that I can’t just take myself off by myself and walk up a mountain. Ideally, I would have others to do that with, but what if I don’t have others to join me… am I just not going to do it? If I want to do something just get a grip and do it…

Unknown-1.pngSo this holiday, while my friends were skiing. I decided to go up a mountain. By myself. This was one of the most STUPID things I have done in a while. It’s all very well me doing my intrepid explorer rubbish- but going up a mountain by yourself is sometimes just STUPID.

I had a guide book. But not much else. Unsuitable footwear which meant I literally had to crawl along some icy patches. I couldn’t work out how to move the time on my fitbit back so my watch said one thing and my phone the other. But the problem was, I couldn’t seem to work out which one was correct! Unfortunately while on the mountain I was following my fitbit time when I should have been using the phone and I was an hour out which meant I had to RUUUUUUNN to catch the last cable car down the mountain. Just ridiculous!

I also discovered that I get very confused over left and right (sorry, I just do) and up and down. And when the book said walk this way for 100 metres, I have absolutely NO IDEA whatsoever, what that actually means. I just find distances very tricky to judge- so I literally couldn’t work out where I was, where I had to go and how on earth I was going to do it.

In reality, I wasn’t in any danger. I had a phone and signal. It was light. Nothing was going to go really wrong as long as I didn’t slip over the edge. But I was so determined to reach the end of this blooming trail. The problem being… the destination wasn’t signposted and I didn’t really know what I was looking for. images.jpeg

The book said Mount Clary. I presumed this was a mountain? but mountains don’t have labels usually- it could have been any of them! I was told there was a cafe at the destination. I subsequently found out that the signs I hoped would say Mount Clary, were actually saying the name of the restaurant (but I didn’t know that).

At times the guide book was really vague. When roads split off, I didn’t know which one to take. So of course I ended up taking the wrong one. My idealistic notions of climbing a mountain and enjoying the view at the end were crashing down by the minute. (It was also very cloudy so I couldn’t actually see Mount Blanc either!)

I remembered my mantra. I wasn’t going to keep on searching wondering if the destination was around the corner. I got to an end point (as I saw it) and stayed there.IMG_2380.JPG

That evening I discovered that I was literally about 2 mins away from the cafe!!!! If I had just kept on to the next bend I would have reached Mount Clary. Such a bummer. So near and yet so far. As it turns out, by this point I discovered the issue with my timings so I wouldn’t have been able to have a hot chocolate any way. But that wasn’t the point. I wanted to be able to say I had got myself from Les Gets to Mount Clary by myself.

“One more bend… a few more steps… if I had just…”  the voice I don’t want to live with… but two near misses in as many days… what’s happening?

shifting?

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My ex-fiance had an extremely annoying habit of always trying to find something better… we would drive for ages in a bid to find a better car parking space. We would walk the whole length of the beach to try and find the best spot. It used to drive me mad! Just park the damn car. Find a spot and sit down for goodness sake.

Along with never running for a tube train or bus ever again, I decided that once we split up I would never do that kind of thing. I didn’t want to always be looking for something better… never satisfied… always wondering if there was something better out there. images-1.jpeg

But recently, some 18 years later, I’ve had a number of quick succession of events that have made me question this approach.

At Easter I went ski-ing. I had to wait at Geneva airport for the rest of my friends to join me. I have done this before and I knew of a bar where I could sit and stitch to my hearts content. So at departures I turned right and went to the bar I had been to previously. I ended up having to wait about 5 hours and I was relatively settled. Except, the bar is dark. I wouldn’t go as far as dingy- but definitely dark. I really cannot stand being in ‘ambient’ lighting so it was bothering me- but not enough to make me find somewhere else. (I stuck to my above mantra).

As it happens when I joined my friends we turned left at the departures and my word I was surrounded with the bars/ cafes galore- all really light and airy with comfy seats! I was gutted. I genuinely felt disappointed. I had sat for over 5 hours in a dark den, when light was 200 metres away.

images.pngIt was then I began to question my previous aversion to exploring. But I don’t like the ‘what if’s’… what if I turned left instead of right… what if I’d checked out the whole airport… why did I assume this was all there was… and I could drive myself ad infinutum with that kind of thinking. But something was beginning to shift… images.jpeg

 

sometimes things can get better…

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I am back in the French Alps, and Lac Montriond is one of my happy places in the world. I have been  few times now and it is a short bus ride away from where I usually stay. It is glorious. This picture was possibly taken about 4 years ago, and doesn’t do it justice.

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Yesterday, I visited it again. And if it were possible, the scene that greeted me was even more spectacular… it was the first time I had seen it without snow and it was GLORIOUS.

 

IMG_2391My photos do not do it justice… but my eyes did.

It made me think, that sometimes we think things can never get better/ be better… and yesterday, I saw for myself, that sometimes things can get better even when they are already pretty amazing.

Thanks for listening.