Friday, 19 September 2008

Goodbye little toe-nail...

This evening I decided to trim my toenails, however, when it came to my little toe on my right foot – the entire toenail came off. Yikes!!! I must say, it looks very strange being toenail less on that foot, but I seem to be able to function without it. This got me thinking... what is the function or purpose of a toenail? On further reflection, it reminded me of some of the awful stuff that happens to us in life – sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason to these events... just like the toenail... seemingly, no rhyme or reason to this hard and translucent nail plate! But perhaps there is a purpose to it being attached to our human bodies... it’s just that I’ve no idea what it is!?! In the same way, it could be that some of our life struggles do have a purpose or function in our soul's journeys – even if we are unable to understand or decode them at the time (or ever)! Ah well, enough philosophising for one day. Oh yes, I’ve had a much better day... could be because it’s Friday and I’m craving a weekend of chilled out ‘me-time’! p.s. I do hope my toenail grows back (apparently it can take between 12 to 18 months to regrow).... hmmmmmm... one more thing to try not to worry about... (lol)!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

One of those days...

Not feeling my mojo today. Truth be told, I feel as if my sense of ‘inner calm and balance’ has taken a bit of a nose dive this past week. I can’t quite put my finger on it – although, I know that it’s probably not helped by a number of life stresses and pressures that are pressing in on my life. I had the day off today due to hospital appointments all morning at Heartlands (I’ve got a follow-up appointment in two weeks). Nothing serious, just keeping tabs on the progress with my health! On returning from the hospital, I’ve been in bed pretty much for the remainder of the day. I’m feeling really achy and shattered – physically, mentally and emotionally. I slept a bit, but I’m finding that my sleep in recent days is not at all refreshing – because of the life concerns burdening on my mind – I’m having loads of restless nights. I’m resisting going back on the anti-depressants. Personally, I’m so ANTI being on anti-depressants -something about me feeling relinquished to the status of ‘failure’ for not being able to manage my mental and emotional health without them – even though, I must admit they have helped me in the past. Two significant periods that I’ve been on anti-depressants for a period of time, include: first, in 1996 after my Masters degree, I went through a particularly difficult time, and I was on them for about six months; the second occasion, is this year in coming to terms with a number of life-changing issues that have affected me deeply since July 2007. Anyway, I stopped taking my current prescription - which I've been on since the beginning of the year - about a month ago, thinking that I was over the worst of it (whatever 'it' might be) - maybe not!?! Thank goodness, I meet up with my counsellor tomorrow (Fri 19th Sept). It’s meant to be our final session – but I may need to request for more sessions. I get so frustrated when I think things are looking up and then, again and again, I come crashing down! Hopefully, all this fog that I’m in will pass. Well, life's getting busy again – in terms of my writing courses start back up next week – and maybe that focus will help me get back on track with ‘being and living’. It’ll be good to get back into some serious writing, with regards to my poetry and prose after a lull over the summer. Incidentally, I came across a great tune on You Tube today titled: It’s your love (Tim McGraw & Faith Hill). Funny, how a song can make you smile or weep depending on how you’re feeling inside. With my mojo gone (fingers-crossed, not for too long!), on listening to the song (several times today)... I wept. But, it’s still a great little tune! p.s. started reading Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Paul Torday) - so far, so good...!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Does the tortoise win the race?

Sunday, 7th September... it was an exhilarating feeling to complete the Adidas 5K Challenge – albeit a power walk – in 47 minutes! I recall that I did the London 10K Run (about ten years ago) in about the same time – however, back then I was fitter and healthier and in fact I completed the course in a run. Nevertheless, after the battles I’ve had with my health in recent years – which has indeed affected my fitness levels – it was a great personal achievement to complete the course in the time that I did it in.

Despite the drizzle and grey weather it was fantastic to see the commitment of so many women who came out to complete the Adidas 5K Challenge in support of their sponsored charities. An incredible buzz infused the atmosphere during the mega warm-up session with a fitness team. All revved up and rearing to go, the race started earnestly at 10:30 am. The serious runners began the race from the right lane, and both power and casual walkers commenced on the left lane. The serious runners completed the challenge in record times, and I believe that the first place runners ran the race in fifteen minutes flat. The rest of us had up to two hours to complete the challenge. As I’ve mentioned I completed mine – with a fellow power-walk partner (who I met on the day) – in forty-seven minutes. The course was a relatively flat and direct route which catered to all abilities of runners, joggers, walkers, and even those with visible disabilities; for example, I spotted a lady in a wheelchair, and there was another blind lady who completed the course with her sighted helpers.

There were many highlights to the event. One of the more rewarding experiences on the day was the sight of all the charities on a rainbow-colour display of T-shirts sported by women of all creed, colour, shape and size – a beautiful montage to both the multitude of charities represented, and the sisterhood of womankind. I stood amongst many, playing my part to raise money and awareness for my chosen charity: Action Aid. Each step I took – inspired by the support of many colleagues, acquaintances, and friends – led to the fulfilment of both a personal and charitable endeavour. And although I’d made the decision to participate in this Adidas 5K Challenge around June, it wasn’t until the beginning of August that I began fundraising in earnest for the event so it’s been such a satisfying accomplishment to have fundraised nearly £250 in a month. Hoorah!!! Definitely... this has very much been a team effort and success – namely, the combined effort of all those who’ve supported me financially and/or in prayer – in contributing to the work of Action Aid.

My sense of achievement from this challenge has given me the impetus to continue to improve my fitness levels, and look ahead to perhaps a bigger challenge next summer – again to help with raising money for Action Aid, and in particular their HIV/AIDS work. Many of you may not have been able to support me financially in this endeavour, but I hope all of you will stay connected with my news/blogs – and may feel inspired to sponsor me in future events of this kind that I may engage in as I (with your help) strive to ‘be the change I want to see in the world’ (Ghandi).

Once again, huge thanks to everyone for all your support with helping this tortoise win her race!

Digging deeper!

This weekend (Sat 13th & Sun 14th Sept) I undertook a WORKSHOP course titled: Creativity & Life. It was an incredibly challenging, and thought-provoking course helping us to explore a myriad of ideas and concepts e.g. one area we looked at was – the imagination, wonder, playfulness in Jesus-centred spiritual growth. I found the course contained great insights and revelations – in my opinion, quite revolutionary – as to helping me think deeply as to seeing a more robust picture of the nature of God through Jesus. As I've said, I found it to be an incredibly challenging course and I look forward to attending other courses being offered by in the future.

Miss… you’re so random!

A couple of days into the new academic year – after three days of Staff INSET – I was asked if I’d be able to come along as a team leader for a Year 10 spiritual retreat. With very little thought, and a quick scan of my diary, I gave my consent. So it was that on Tuesday 9th Sept, around 2 pm, I found myself on a coach load of almost thirty students heading down the motorway to Soli House, in Stratford.

It never ceases to amaze me how often God makes appointments with us even without us realising it or before we perceive the event. The priest-in-charge offered the young people a similar thought: “you might not believe, or indeed realise it, but God called you to come on this retreat to have an opportunity to engage with, and encounter Him”. And I found that I too had been led – notwithstanding that it was a last minute call – to come along and do business with God.

The retreat was a powerful spiritual experience for me amidst ongoing personal struggles. In the quiet and calm of the surroundings, I found God ministering to my spiritual needs – reminding me of his enduring love and presence in every situation. In recent weeks, I have been praying that God would move me from a place of fear to a place of faith, and during this retreat I was given a gentle reminder that the wind of change that is needed to propel my transition from ‘fear to faith’ consists of: taking God at his word, and choosing to trust him completely. Not surprisingly, moving to that place of total surrender is no easy feat and is a daily and ongoing challenge for me. However, after many years (over five years, if anyone is counting!) of spiritual stalemate, I have decided that I do want to press more into the Father’s heart, dig deeper into scripture, and move to the next level in my relationship with God. Hence about two months ago, I made a commitment to read the entire bible using the book ‘Searching the Scriptures’. And I must say that I’ve got so much from the book of LUKE which I’m re-visiting again with new eyes – being washed and cleansed afresh with numerous nuggets of truth e.g. “Any of you who does not give up everything he has, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33)! Having made this commitment, I have sensed God opening more of himself to me – seeking me out in the routine of my life, and equally, in the out-of-the-ordinary events such as this Soli House retreat.

Hence in the midst of a gaggle of nearly thirty Year 10 boys and girls going through their own private journeys with God and despite the three days of sleep deprivation (on the first night, I didn’t get even an hour’s sleep!) – I found myself being renewed by the person of Christ, and the love of God. In addition, it was rewarding to experience this group of young people outside of the school environment and see their faith journeys being nurtured in this way. Getting to know the young people, and having the opportunity to share my life story with them – to the extent that one girl commented: 'Miss... you’re so random...' what a treat!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Summer blues!

Less than a week to go and I am struggling with a cold (in the tail-end of what has been a beleaguered summer ... weather-wise). I believe I caught this chill on the way from church last Sunday evening; dressed for summer (in a knee-length dress over jeans), sitting at the bus shelter waiting for the bus I was caught up in the bluster of rain and wind. Not exactly Hurricane Gustav conditions, but pretty unsettled conditions! Worse of all, I didn’t have my mega-umbrella with me so I did get soaked on the journey to and from church. Indeed, it was extremely uncomfortable sat in church all damp and wet while trying to worship and praise God. Still, it was the walk back to the bus stop (where I got thoroughly soaked), and the twenty-minute wait for the bus, that sealed my fate – the onset of a cold, which I felt the next morning. All day yesterday (Monday) my nose was running uncontrollably like a baby’s, and my body succumbed to the aches and pains that had settled in my joints and muscles. What a way to start the week, in terms of keeping up my fitness preparation, after such a promising start earlier that Sunday – where I managed to pop along to the LA Fitness Spin class at noon. Unfortunately, not much else has happened since that hour’s exertion. But having rested up all evening yesterday (after running some errands in the afternoon – which in some ways, I consider has contributed to helping with my fitness levels – that is, walking from here to there), I hope to manage another Spin class or session at the gym a couple of more times this week before Sunday.
In spite of my struggles with this cold, I remain excited and look forward to the event on Sunday. I have just found out from the Action Aid Office (London) that I am the only person participating in this Adidas 5K for Action Aid on the Birmingham Women’s Challenge! So, if you happen to be in town (Birmingham, by Centenary Square) – look out for me in the brilliant red Action Aid T-shirt (striding along in a power-walk) and give me a holler or a wave. I take this opportunity to THANK EVERYONE that has supported me in this venture! I must confess, I have been bawled over by the level of support and well-wishers that I have received in this short month of fund-raising and I look forward to doing lots more in the future for Action Aid and contributing to the work of HIV/AIDS nationally, and globally.