Monday, 20 July 2009

Changes

Changes are afoot over here in Amanda-land, and mostly good ones at that :o)

My health is improving in leaps and bounds at the moment (except today I feel awful, typical, huh? lol) But mostly it is improving loads. We went to visit my parents this weekend and they had a picture of us they had taken at Christmas... I hadn't realised just how ill I had looked. Seriously. Looking at the photo you'd think I'd had something terribly wrong with me - well I did, I suppose. It really made me sit up and think. Add to that the amount of comments I received at my friend's daughter's 1st birthday party along the lines of "God, you've lost some weight haven't you, get some meat on your bones, gal!" well I guess I have some way to go yet to full health. But I am getting better and boy can we notice the difference. I am happy, hopeful, and enjoying life again. I missed this.

We've got a busy summer ahead of us - a trip to Glastonbury this coming weekend, and one to Rome in August for a wedding. Then another wedding just after we get back. (And one more in January, though that's a while off yet!) It's great to have things to look forward to again and we're adding one more thing to that - a new blog!

Yes, that's right, I said a new blog! I have felt for some time now that this blog lacked direction. I didn't know what to do with it - I would post on all manner of things and there seemed to be no point to it other than letting off steam. I want my blog to be a place that not only I enjoy visiting but others do too. And I want it to be the best of my life, not just the worst. If I'm having a bad day I want it to inspire, not simply note the horribleness of it all. Don't get me wrong, I have needed to vent on this blog the past year as it has been so hard - but now that is all changing I feel the need for a new blog.

What is more exciting about this new blog? Well T is going to play a huge part in it. He has expressed a wish to be involved and we are going to work on it together. We are currently drawing together ideas for posts and working out the specifics of where to host, how to display etc etc but how exciting!! Hopefully soon you'll be looking forward to more video/audio extras like the ones before (in better quality when I have someone to record them for me!) as well as other little treat we can think of. I love nothing more than to be creative - except maybe to be creative with someone else!

So stay tuned guys, (if of course anyone is still reading after the blog went astray this year), we will be back with lots of fun and new things to enjoy!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A little vid plu a question of faith

Ok first things first - for your "entertainment" and especially for Jeanne, here's a quick hello.

video

It's not great, unfortunately, again I lack the equipment for high quality video just like I lacked the equipment for high-quality singing in the last post but it's a start. If you like this I promise I'll find some better way of doing it in future!

If you hate my faith/spirituality ramblings please do feel free to ignore this one ;o)

And now on the the main topic of my post - faith, religion and God, or rather my confusion about all three! Oh don't I always come round to this topic (btw I'm blaming Isobel for this one, her recent post "Mormons rule. Pass it on." got me thinking about it big time!). I can't help returning to this over and over because I am, let's say, both completely amazed and completely baffled by faith and religion. No that's not right, I "get" faith - faith is about having faith in something based on your own experiences and feelings about what is true even if you don't have concrete evidence. In terms of faith I know roughly where I stand - I have faith that there is a God of some kind and that God has a plan far bigger than any of us can comprehend and that even the things we see as "bad" have a place in that plan. But when it comes to specifics I don't know what I believe - I haven't experienced enough to know the specifics and this is what baffles me about religion, I wonder how there can be so many different specifics that in one way are so alike and in other so different - like how our faith in God dictates the way we live our lives and whether we believe in one God or many Gods or many facets on the one God etc.

Sometimes I wish I had spent more time looking into this when I was younger - but when I was younger I never questioned the specifics... I believed in God and that was all that mattered. I spend a lot of my time questioning specifics nowadays - it's like my childhood faith vanished when the tiniest seed of doubt was planted in my mind only a few years ago. Don't get me wrong, this was a good thing, it made me think and it made me read and it made me question and I now know far more about different religions than I ever did... which is good. I have a long way to go of course, but I'm getting there, slowly. For example, Isobel's post got me looking deeper into LDS and what it actually means - I really didn't have much of a clue. I still don't... but I have a bit more of an idea since watching some of the videos on the web and having a look at the Book of Mormon which I have never looked at before.

I like being challenged like this and I feel that God, whoever that is, is bringing me people and situations to help me discover what I need to. Just the other day I met a Krishnan monk on the street - I had not made lunch that day and was in search of something to eat (difficult when you can't eat wheat or lettuce when most shops only sell sandwiches or salads!) and so I was walking down the street in my search when he stopped me. I was conscious of my time but something made me stop and listen to him. We had a good old chat, which reminds me I really must send him an email and thank him for that! I took a book off him and brought it home and started to read it. I didn't understand it all - just like I get baffled by the Bible sometimes despite growing up in a predominantly Christian society: I just haven't been taught about the history of the Bible and what it means and so certain parts baffle me as to what they are on about! Doesn't mean I don't try to understand them.

This pattern of being brought opportunities to experience, learn and question runs through my life. My family is not religious in the slightest but somehow I found my way along a very spiritual path. I spent several months as part of a church choir (let's not talk about the fact I spent most of that pre-occupied by my fear of singing - that just shows how crazy I am!) I then spent my 3 months in Germany living with a Salvation Army family and working with them and others, which despite being away from my home and incredibly difficult were also 3 of the most joyous months of my life. These months were also at a time when I had turned away from the church from a bad experience, turned to new-age spirituality which made perfect sense to me, and then was trying to understand how it all fit together: how could both feel right in their own way?

Tim and I have spent many hours talking about this - how we'd love to be part of a community but do not want to join one that stifles our own searches for God. We've looked into different faiths and the more I do this the more connections I see as opposed to differences - yet the differences still exist. And this baffles me. I don't have an answer and I doubt anyone of us does. But it excites and intrigues me no end. So I'm off to do some more reading now.

NB: Do you like the way I "passed it on" for Isobel whilst actually managing to integrate it into my own post. I don't know enough about Mormons to know if they truly "rule" or not, but I think Isobel is one classy chick and she certainly made me think!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sunshine and Singing

Morning all,

I haven't got much time to post anything so thought I'd leave you with one of my favourite songs. I love to sing, but singing has been something I have always been very shy/nervous about so this is quite scary stuff - especially as it was recorded early this morning, over breakfast, on a very dodgy microphone (please do excuse the poor sound quality and slightly croaky voice quality!!)

This song reminds me of how easy it is to spend our time dreaming of something when in actual fact whilst dreaming we miss so many opportunities to actually have them in our lives. I'm never one to dismiss dreaming - love to dream - but dreams must be followed by action to bring the sunshine into our lives. Here's to making our dreams come true!

Click here (sorry you have to download it, I haven't figured out a better way of uploading audio to blogger yet and am considering changing to Typepad if this takes off and I choose to do more audio posts).

Friday, 26 June 2009

When you lose who you are

It seems to me that the ONLY reason one ever feels repressed, stressed of even depressed is because of the momentary loss of who you are at the deepest part of your soul. At least this is my experience!

Sure, I've been stressed by work, ill health, financial problems, ridiculous levels of perfectionism and guilt at not reaching such high standards etc etc - but despite all of those things a wonderful feeling of "everything's ok" was always there, if only I had stopped and looked.

Let me explain - thoughout the past few years I have been up and down in my feeling of joy and despair like the greatest yoyo you could ever hope to possess. Yep, I've had my fair share of stresses, as you all know, but there have been times in my life when I have had worse to worry about and been absolutely fine, and others when there has not been a reason to stress and yet there I was, facing the darkest nights. It was not my circumstance that caused me upset, but my reactions to them and they way I viewed the world.

I am a pleaser - I like to please others, either by my thoughts, words or deeds. I am also an achiever, blessed by an ability to achieve great things but burdened by the thought that this means I have to achieve everything and achieve it NOW! These two things combined have caused me more stress and concern than anything else. Seriously.

My second year at uni was one of my happiest - I was spiritually active, I wrote tons of poems and stories, and I had the time of my life. I felt secure, loved and protected and nothing really mattered. Consequently my health was fantastic too, for endo and IBS both react badly to stress, and without it I felt amazing. Then came my third year - I worried and fretted, I closed down spiritually because of my environment and I felt pressured to "prove my worth". Of course life sent me great teachers, but instead of seeing the opportunity to overcome my fears I fell prey to them and lost all my self-worth.

It took me almost a whole year and reaching rock bottom to realise this did not work and at the moment when I should have been stressed beyond measure I felt as chilled as anything. I had my final exams, the tutors were all on strike, and I had to start looking for jobs. But I realised in the grand scheme of things it didn't matter. And consequently I did far better, because through relaxation I found I actually enjoyed the process.

Again, recently, I struggled as my health deteriorated, I felt I was underachieving at work, and I wasn't there for those who needed me. It took a lot to shake me out of it and realise that again I had fallen under my own ideals of who I thought I should be - I should learn these languages, I should study to be a tour guide, I should do more at work, I should give more to my family, I should be able to get us out of debt, I should, I should, I should...

Should never, ever helps us as it places upon us a mask to hide who we really are. I lost my spirituality and my ability to see the beauty all around me and even within myself by following shoulds. I'm not saying there aren't times when I need to act a certain way, but they certainly shouldn't take over my entire life. So I am reclaiming my free time for me and I am rediscovering who I really am.

For too long this blog has been something I felt I should write - or rather it is something I have written posts about based on what I think people would want to read. So now it's time for a change. I am currently writing again and it is beautiful - to do what you feel in your heart and soul is an amazing thing. Too often I have blocked my creativity by trying to find ways to write that people would want - a silly thing for someone who once run a writing course to teach people they could write by writing what made them happy. Sometimes I need to practise what I preach!

And for too long I have not had the time to devote to this one thing I love so much - I have taken on projects here there and everywhere which have eaten up my time and then I have lamented the fact I have no time. Silly, really. So now I am excited to be building up an idea which will alow me to do what I want by truly being who I am.

Of course change can be scary - it means saying goodbye to things you know... like this blog I have nurtured for so long. But a change can be the best thing in the world, when you know why you are changing and what you really want. And for once I believe that I do.

So changes are afoot and I invite you to follow, if you wish, but for now I cannot say how it will change. All I know is that I am excited by this because finally I am ready to say "this is who I am - take it or leave it". Now, doesn't that make you sigh!!

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Importance of Dreams

Years ago when I tried to find a new email address (being fed up of getting spammed constantly due on my old one) I was listening to the You were meant for me by Jewel and the line "dreams last for so long" stuck in my head and became the key to my new address. Years later when considering starting a blog I chose a variation on the theme and chose "dream of living" for my blog's name for after all my whole reason for blogging was to build up friendships with those people who inspired me and who inspired my dream for my own life in so many ways.

I've been called a "romantic" by some - hey that's ok, I'm the most romantic fool you could ever find and it's one of the things T loves so much about me - proof that a dream I held was worth the wait for the man of my dreams really did come into my life at exactly the right time for the both of us. I'm not saying that every dream will come true - I know I have many fools dreams that take me away from reality once in a while when I need a little escape - but the key dreams we hold so dear, the ones that come from the heart and stick with us for years, if not forever, those are so worth holding on to.

I know I am not alone in this, in fact one of the blogs that inspired me the most to start my own blog and continues to gladden my heart is that of Cherry Menlove. Cherry is someone who has a dream and is living it and takes the time to share that with others to give hope and happiness where it may be lacking. Honestly if you haven't already popped by go visit her at http://www.cherrymenlove.com/

Sometimes, of course, when we are stuck in the painful moments in our life it can be hard to read of someone else's success, particularly in areas we want to achieve in. Too often in recent years I have felt bitter about why I don't seem to be getting anywhere and with the recent struggles at work and hormones all over the place I have been the worst one for that. "What's the point of trying to be the best person you can be, giving the best of yourself to others, working hard and playing by the rules if it never gets you anywhere" are familiar words in my head and even out of my mouth these past few weeks. My heart is yearning for more and in some respects a lot of my unhappiness comes from my reality not living up to my dreams...

Yet I would never denounce the power of dreams for they are what keeps me going. Without a dream I would lose hope and in times like these when it is so easy to fallen into a state of depressions a dream can really buoy you up and give you something to aim for (and I don't know about you but the lack of something to aim for depresses me more than anything else - if I'm living a life I don't like and see no future alternative what would be the point?) I've spoken before about the power of faith and gratitude and both of these go hand in hand with the power of dreams - like three best friends, held together forever. With faith that my dreams will come true and gratitude for all those that have how can I stay down for long?

I said in my last post, which you will not deny was rather angry and sad, that I might just start writing more about endo. Endo is one of those things that gets in my way - it sucks away my energy and makes me feel vulnerable. It messes with my hormones, and therefore my ability to think clearly and rationally. Worse than that, it is an invisible condition which is entirely unpredictable and is so badly understood by doctors and society both that it can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes endo even gets in the way of my dreams by taking away my hope, tugging on the energy resources I need to start living my dream, and just downright annoys me. But I would never have made it this far, never survived 4 years at uni with extensive travel, and the crazy business of starting out in the world of work if it weren't for dreams. I also would never have survived the endo without becoming a complete victim to it - by giving up.

Don't get me wrong, I have wanted to give up so many times in my life I cannot count them anymore. There is nothing wrong with giving up and sometimes I think I fight too hard, sometimes it might do me good to give up for a day or two. Some of my dreams have had to be readjusted, like my dream of working with children - instead of working with them now I am hoping I'll find a more easier way on my health in the future, running workshops perhaps or writing books instead of working in the nurseries. Others have been put on hold - like the dream of working from home and having more balance in my life. But many are ongoing and constantly I find them being fulfilled without my even trying - like my dream to speak several languages, I might not be fluent but after years of studying languages I pick them up very quickly now and working in the job I do, meeting people from all over the world on a daily basis, learning new words, phrases and even practising the ones I had forgotten, comes naturally.

Dream of Living is about just that - having a dream about life, the life that you want for yourself, and then living it. I have a long, long way to go but in the words of Bliss, "a part of me seems to know, that there is someone standing close, and guiding me whenever I go wrong". A friend of mine sent some Angels to be with my this week and already our house feels different. I'm a firm believer in Angels and used to ask them to be around me constantly - but I forget these days and having that reminder to stop, breathe and enjoy the sensation of being cared for constantly is a tonic beyond any other I could find. I am also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason - not that things are pre-destined and we have no choice, but that there will always be ways open to us if we are meant to go that route, and what else could lifelong dreams that stir you so strongly you cannot help but follow be but flickers of the path you feel you are born to tread?

I must go now as my bus leaves for work in ten minutes and I am not yet dressed hehe but I do hope that something in this post resonates with you. Have a wonderful week, my friends xx

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sometimes I wonder...

why I feel so passionate about fighting for causes and those who cannot fight for themselves...

then I remember it's because I KNOW how hard it is to fight for yourself

Currently I am struggling with my employer - never mind the "we're a caring employer" impression they give out - I am currently one step away from formal procedures due to my absences - the same formal procedures used for people just taking the pee. I can't be dealing with that kind of stress - I have a chronic illness, an illness I told them about before even being employed and have been nothing but upfront with them about it throughout all the time I have had off. But do they care? Nope, they just see that the amount of days I've had off have hit the corporate triggers and so let's just fill in forms and tell our employee she is under review and any more absences this coming month (just one month after a major operation that she is still recovering from when she might just need some time off) one more day off during this month and that'll be that.

So - I am emotional as hell due to my hormones, exhausted beyond belief and terrified of making myself worse as I have done in the past by working beyond my ability to cope, sinking into the beginnings of depression and what do they do - they add to my stress. I used to love my job - in fact the job itself I still do love, but I feel like it is killing me. And it made me realise that the only time in the past 8 years I have not been like this was when I was working part-time at the uni - I was depressed and exhausted and ill at uni, whilst working at both nurseries and again now. It is like I don't have the stamina for full-time work - especially the kind I enjoy which means I am on my feet, up and down, round and round, serving people or caring for people. I just can't do it but have no choice but to continue. I do so love my job, but is it worth my health?

As it is I have 90% decided not to do my tour guide training - can you imagine me losing what little free time and energy I have left to studying for something even the healthiest people tell me is "extremely challenging"? Besides, I recently started writing again and I want to do that... or should I expand and say that I started writing again whilst on sick leave after the op and for the first time in years it began to truly flow because I was feeling relaxed - since going back to work I have written nothing and lost all confidence in what I was writing - all because I was stressed. I need to rebalance.

I'm looking forward to the forthcoming edition of endolink as it is focussing on women and the workplace. I am also looking into the possibility of having my endo classed as a "disability" for work purposes - because why should I be measured against the same absence targets as someone in perfect health who never needs time off sick? I go in when I feel like hell and have to be really bad to stay off, which just shows how ill I have felt, and yet because I have had so much time off I don't even get full pay when I'm off work now. How stinky is that?

My dad told me not to stress so much (in a nice way not an uncaring way - he is a manager and he knows how it works and how stupid it can be and he also knows me and how stressed I get and how stresed he gets and he feels so helpless - he is a true warrior for those who need it, yet wise enough to let people fight for themselves when they can!) Anyway he said I have done everything by the book - I have been honest with them from the start and they have no means to touch my job in any way because of it. That's not the point though - the point is they are doing this in the first place instead of reading the occupational health report and my drs notes and the forms I have to fill in constantly and seeing that it is all related to the one thing I cannot control. THAT is why I feel it is so important to fight and why, for the foreseeable future, I may just focus this blog on spreading endo awareness... I just may!


Monday, 18 May 2009

Country Living and Living Dreams

Have I ever told you guys just how much I have always wanted to live in the country? Ever since reading stories set on farms as a child I wanted to live out in nature. I was never one of those people who yearn for the convenience of big cities - and having lived in a couple I think they are ok convenience wise but just lack that quiet calm of the country.


Since moving out to the village we have been loving the changes in our lifestyle... freshly grown salad leaves and radishes (I can't normally eat lettuce - I think it may be the pesticides they use commercially because I am fine with our home grown varieties!) and we shall soon have runner beans, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, beetroot, onions and carrots to add to that (plus courgettes, aubergines and parsnips if they survive our ignorance in terms of vegetable growing!)

We've also enjoyed the friendliness of the neighbours and the feeling that everything is ok. It almost feels like the sun shines brighter here - let's just say going from no garden to one with roses, clematis, elder trees and hanging baskets is just a dream come true.


But having said that, I am a human and as such there is always the dream of something more...

It is not our home so whilst we are enjoying this stay as a trial run we do dream of one day having a place to truly call our own. And why stop there... if I'm going to dream I'm going to dream big, and why not it doesn't hurt anybody.

So, what do I dream of? Well, lots of things, as my blog title suggests hehe but one of the things I used to dream of as a teenager was being able to help young people (particularly those who are carers or have siblings who require a lot of care and attention so don't get it themselves). I wanted to run holidays for them, something special. How and where I never knew but I knew I wanted to do it. As I grew older I then experienced helping at camps for disabled teenagers... now there's another thought. And why not go further and include my love of nature and bringing people's awareness of it back into their lives, reminding people of the sheer beauty and simplicity of nature.

Let's just say that when T informed me the other day that you can purchase certain woodland areas I thought "wow, that is what I want!" So what exactly is this dream of mine? Well in an ideal world I would love to buy a large woodland area, also near some fields and a place to build a home. We could run a campsite where groups could come throughout the year - we could have disabled facilities for groups who needed them on the field, we could rent camping places in the woods for scout and girl guide groups as well as having a few yurts for those who wanted a holiday of a difference. Sounds lovely doesn't it... not very likely to happen, but a girl can dream!

And whilst we're talking about unlikely happenings, guess what happened to us the morning of my op? T opened the curtains at about 5:40am and shouted for me to come and look outside because standing right on our front lawn was a little muntjac. He was a darling and looked at us, then trotted across the road to eat some of the trees near the churchyard, before tottering off along the street in search of other tasty titbits. How amazing is that?!

Have ever told you how much I love the countryside?