Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Life's Mysteries, Solved

All my life there are things, experiences, that I've wondered about, but recently I realised that a lot of these mysteries have been solved over the last few years...

I used to wonder what it would be like to leave home, a prospect that I dreaded until I reached my late teens and began to find home a little suffocating... I found my answer last year when I finally flew the nest and settled into my "halfway house", Treasure's home. I found that the independence was exactly what I needed to bring me out of my shell, and satisfy my yearnings for change and freedom.

I used to wonder what it would be like to drive a car... I passed my test second time round when I was seventeen, but for a few years I was such a nervous driver that I felt sick every time I had to take the car out, and I began to wonder if I would ever feel comfortable behind the wheel. Thankfully, I was forced to overcome these feelings when I left home and driving became an important aspect of my daily routine. Over time, following several excursions without incident, I started to relax and driving has became quite an enjoyable past-time. 

For a while I wondered what it would be like to go clubbing, but only tentatively... After turning eighteen, I discovered that it was seriously overrated, and absolutely terrifying. I found that the music was too loud, the drinks were too expensive, and I had absolutely no idea what to do with my arms when I danced. But worse, still, I've found that most clubs teem with single men on the hunt for some action, who seemed to think women were looking for the same thing. I witnessed one, very drunk, creep leap in front of my best friend and start snogging her! After sampling the clubbing scene on a few occasions, I realised that sitting in a pub and talking long into the night with a good group of friends is a lot more enjoyable and worthwhile. 

I used to wonder what it would be like to be romanced and pursued by a boy... I found out when I was seventeen on two separate occasions. The first of these isn't worth reporting (I set things in motion, and nothing actually came of it), but the second was, for want of a word, epic. It was the most exciting, thrilling year of my life, despite the frustration of being 300 miles away from my pursuer and having to wait ten months to hold his hand! That boy made me feel so beautiful, so cherished, so special - he still does! :-)

That led me to wonder what my first kiss would be like... It was beautifully orchestrated: okay, the kiss wasn't, but the setting was. I was eighteen. That boy, and I, lay on a cliff top looking up at the stars (well, we would've been except we couldn't stop staring at each other's faces) and listening to the waves. It was just approaching midnight. I don't know who made the first move; the next thing I knew, his face moved closer and our lips met halfway. It wasn't at all elegant, but it was nice. 

After that, I wondered what it would be like when that boy proposed to me, especially as he proposed to me in an offhand way several times before the official proposal... The answer: Overwhelming. Wonderful. Personal. Beautiful. Perfect. 

For a long time I've wondered what it would be like to wear a wedding dress... I found my answer whilst shopping with my mum the other week: like a princess. 

There are still mysteries waiting to be solved:

What will it be like to have a house of my own? (Because, as much as I love Treasure, I'm beginning to find the arrangement a little suffocating...)

What would it be like to publish one of my novels?

What will it be like to bring a child into the world (to carry it for nine months, to push it out of my body, to raise someone who is part me)?

A lot of you will already know the answers to these "mysteries", and from experience you'll know they're different for everyone. These are my mysteries, both solved and unsolved. What are yours?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

I Was A Supermarket Snob

I have a confession to make... When I completed my degree and discovered I'd got the best result I could have hoped for, I thought the possibilities were endless and that I could reach for the stars. I was soon brought back down to earth when I realised how bad the job situation, but even then I told myself I was way above working at a supermarket. I don't really think of myself as big-headed. In fact, I have quite a low opinion of myself and sometimes feel unworthy whenever anyone's nice to me. But back then I had standards. And I didn't think that with a first-class behind my back I should have to stack shelves, or sit at a checkout, or put up with being spoken to like I was stupid. Despite this, I did apply to a couple of supermarket positions (both at Tesco) but was turned out, most probably because I had included my degree in my application form, and they knew I'd change jobs as soon as something better came up. I am deeply ashamed for ever entertaining this view. 

As you know, everything changed for me, and six months ago, out of sheer desperation, I applied for a part-time job at Sainsbury's. I think I realised that care work wasn't any more skilled than retail, and that actually the latter was a lot less stressful. I turned a corner and I have to say, I couldn't have been happier. I have met so many wonderful, lovely people at Sainsbury's. My colleagues recognise and appreciate me for who I am. I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not. And I don't think I over-exaggerate when I say they are as fond of me as I am of them. Take my first day back at work for example. 

I'd been away for just over a fortnight, but felt as though I'd been away longer than that. As a result, I anticipated walking in and finding everything was different, that everyone and everything had changed, and consequently, I felt a little nervous. So I left my car and shuffled into the store, and the first people I met were from the hygiene team. While I don't work with them directly, I often see them around when I'm at work, and as is my custom I smile and say a bright hello. The moment they spotted me that day, they greeted me and asked all about my holiday. What they said next touched my heart so much that I nearly started crying. In fact, I can feel tears creeping into my eyes as I write this. They said, "We noticed you weren't here, and we missed you!" "I missed you too!" I said, feeling extremely moved. 

And I received the like all morning from every colleague I met. They all asked about my holiday. They showed an interest. They all said they'd missed me and it had felt as though I'd been away for ages. They all said it was good to see me again. And I walked around with the biggest smile on my face, happy to be back. Happy to feel wanted and needed. Thrilled and deeply humbled to feel so loved. As with church, I have found a family of sorts at work too. 

I am very ashamed for having ever thought myself above working at a place like Sainsbury's. I was absolutely wrong. I might be capable of doing something more challenging, but I am not above doing anything. I am not above scrambling around in a chiller for half an hour, seeking out the right product for a customer. I am not above cleaning a toilet. I am so glad to have had this opportunity to have my view changed for the better, and to experience the wonderful love and team spirit that exists at Sainbury's. I have met some of the loveliest people here, and I love each and every one of them. And incredibly, I seem to have touched their hearts too, and contributed something myself to Sainbury's. I have worked here for nearly five months, nearly as long as I endured my last job, and I can honestly say, these have been the happiest five months! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Love You More

Love You More is Jennifer Grant's memoir about her adoption of her youngest daughter, Mia. Grant's writing style is compelling, drawing the reader in right from the start, and moving naturally from phase to phase in the narrative. Drawing from her Christian background and strong faith, she shares her realisation of God's calling for her. 

This is a deeply personal account, an open and honest retelling of how a mother and daughter bond was established, and how this overcame the odds set against them during the adoption process and beyond. It is also very informative, and serves to challenge the many negative views towards overseas adoption, and the relationship between the adoptive parent and child. 

This is a heart rending read; one that will have you on the edge of your seat, at times laughing and at others moved even to the verge of tears. This is definitely a book for parents, or anyone interested in the adoption process, particularly overseas adoption. 

What was particularly moving was the sheer love conveyed throughout the narrative. This is a memoir written by a mother who loves her daughter so much that she wants to share her incredible story with the world!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Birthday of Sorts

Two years ago today I set up The Passing Place, and my little blog is still going strong. I must confess though, I did hit a point quite recently where I felt like giving it up. It was nothing personal, but more to do with the discovery of limitations in my new job that meant I was constantly tired, and lacking both the time and energy to blog, as well as anything really to blog about. I was barely finding the time to get things done, and consequently I had to bring my poor blog to the bottom of my list of priorities, and it became slightly neglected. Rather than posting obsessively, like I used to, I found I was only able to write once every couple of weeks, and even then my posts felt feeble and rather forced. 

Thankfully, after a fortnight's respite, my blog has picked up once more. I have now replaced my broken USB card reader which means I can upload photographs again, and I think the coming year will bring a lot more things for me to post about, including (hopefully):

* Spud and I finding suitable jobs
* Spud and I buying a place of our own
* Wedding preparations
* Coverage of the wedding
* The honeymoon

These are one or two things for you and I to look forward to. I can't tell you how indebted I feel to every single one of my readers. It's so nice knowing that there are people out there (people I've never met but are nevertheless very dear friends to me) not only taking an interest in me and what I have to say, but also rooting for me and praying for me. It is very humbling and I want you to know that you are all very special to me. What can I say except, thank you for being here and sticking with me through and through? That means so much, and maybe there will come a day when I can meet you all in person! I know I haven't been especially good at keeping up with your blogs (partly due to my limited internet connection) and this is something I hope to rectify as I do enjoy reading what you have to say too, and a lot of you have really inspired me with your words and ideas. 

How will I be celebrating my blogging birthday? Well, I won't really. I'd love to host a blogging party or a give away, but again, I don't have much time (maybe that's something to plan for next year). I have just arrive back from a fortnight's holiday, and I return to work tomorrow. The next fortnight will be a busy one, full of meetings, Spud's birthday celebrations, holiday club, and a million other things to do! I admit, I'll be glad to reach the other side. I will try to keep you updated on how I get on!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Crop Circle

Something Spud and I saw on the way home from visiting my parents...


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Waterside Photoshoot

Some sights common to my part of the world...












And a few just for fun...




Thursday, 18 August 2011

Babies

Here are some photographs I was meaning to upload in June, when a mother blackbird built her nest to the side of Spud's driveway. The babies have long since flown the nest, but Spud and I managed to document their development with a few photographs.



















Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Shopping For Wedding Clothes

This morning I set out, together with my mother, and browsed the bridalwear shops in my hometown. We only visited two as the others were by appointment only, but I tried on about eight different dresses, which gave me an idea of the sort of thing I'm looking for. Amazingly, the dresses I liked weren't what I expected to like at all!

"I don't want a train," I told my mum, just minutes before selecting a dress wih a train and finding that it suited me. In fact, most of the dresses I tried on looked pretty good. Both my mother and the shop assistant agreed that I have the sort of figure that looks good in most styles. I felt really beautiful in all the gowns I tried.

I picked out three that I especially liked, but unfortunately the cheapest of these (which also happened to be my favourite) was double my budget, and the others were treble or more. I'm going to look around when I return home  as there are two charity shops specialising in bridalwear, and there may be a couple of discount bridal shops. As much as I loved the dresses I tried today, I don't want to spend the earth on something I'm going to wear once or twice (it looks like we may be having our marriage blessed in my hometown as there are several people who won't be able to get up for the wedding).

I had such a fun day with my mum, and I think she enjoyed the experience as much as I did. I can't think of a better companian when dealing with such matters as wedding clothes! And as I live 300 miles away from her, I've missed her company so much, and vice-versa!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Last Time

Spud and I are off to Bible camp tomorrow for (potentially) our last stint as Tent Officers. In case you don't remember from last year, a T.O.'s job is to supervise the campers, aged 10-13, 24/7. It can be quite an intense and exhausting week, but also great fun! I have taken away so many wonderful memories from camp, and met so many amazing people. 

I say this is potentially our last stint as T.O.s because next year we will be away on our honeymoon during camp week, and the year after we should go along as a married couple to offer general support. However, no doubt we will be called upon to fill a T.O. role if there is ever a shortage! 

I am really excited about catching up with everyone, including fellow T.O.'s, Chan, Ben, Briony and Darren; meeting the campers and supporting them throughout the week; and of course, the good old camp grub, especially camp porridge! I have practically been salivating all week at the thought of a nice steaming bowl of camp porridge! 

There is just one piece of news to add: Spud and I both have interviews that week. It would be really great if one or both of us had some success. Spud has been trying so, so hard to get a job, and could really use a break in the seemingly endless stream of rejections. As for me, well, my interview is for my dream job: a full time post as school library assistant. It would be truly amazing if I got this job, and there are so many reasons why it would be perfect for us. Anyway, it's all in the Lord's hands, but I would really appreciate it if you would pray or cross your fingers for us (Spud on Monday, and me on Wednesday). 

I look forward to catching up with you all in a week, and hopefully having more time to post!


Thursday, 4 August 2011

On This Day...

...Four years ago, Spud and I met up at Bible camp, after a year of talking online and on the phone, and started going out. 



On this day in one year, we will finally be getting married, something we always knew we were going to do, and something we've waited so long for. 

Happy Anniversary Spud! Thank you for making me so happy! I love you!