Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wait ye, with breath bated.

The last few posts of the blog challenge are going to have to wait till next week because...

I'm going to Greenbelt!

If you don't know what that is go look it up! I'm volunteering for them this year which is exciting. Please wish for good weather in the Cheltenham area this weekend; if not good at least try for better than the forecast. We're camping y'see...

Don't worry, I have packed my wellies. And my crochet.

See you all when I get back! Well, talk to you all. Or type randomly to a 'you' in the hope that someone reads this and becomes that 'you'... You catch my drift. (There I go again!)

P.s. Everyone be extra super nice to Toben this weekend as he couldn't get time off to go to Greenbelt. Sad socks. But on the bright side, at least they will be dry socks.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Somewhere you'd like to move.

I've spent the last four or five years going back and forth between Edinburgh and Iona, to the Iona Community and latterly to other places on the island. Since leaving the Community in 2010 I have moved every 4-6 months. In May this year, however, Toben got the job as Warden of Bishops House on Iona. This job has no end date. This is a lovely feeling. We don't have to start the desperate search for winter accommodation this year. Or for a few years to come. Having finally secured both jobs and accommodation on possibly one of the most difficult places to find both these things at the same time, I find it hard to answer this question of 'somewhere you'd like to move'.

I just have moved, and Iona is somewhere I was pretty happy to move to. Beautiful place? Check. Wonderful people? Check. Nice place to live? Check. Enjoyable job? Check. Great way of life? Triple check.

Don't get me wrong, there's loads of places I'd like to go and there are many places that feel like home for me. My parents house in Edinburgh still feels like home, which is not surprising given that I lived in it for about twenty years of my life. Then there are places that I feel very comfortable and familiar with, so much so that they feel a little like home. I feel very at home in a tent in Glencoe in the rain for example. A camper van on a scraggly outcrop on Mull feels very home-like when we go back every year.

But for now at least, I'm happy where I am. I can't really think of anywhere else I would really like to live.

Maybe this should be called "Somewhere you'd like to stay" instead.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Favorite blog posts since you started your blog.

Interestingly, almost all my favourite blog posts have been in this challenge. I only have one post that I did outside of this that I really like. Maybe this means I should keep giving myself 'challenges' with this blog. I'll have to have a think about that!

The one that I did before the blog challenge is School's Out. If you didn't really like school, this one is for you. Or I suppose if you really loved school and can't understand why anyone wouldn't, this one could be very enlightening for you.

I love my post on What's an article of clothing you're deeply attached to? I think I like that the way my thoughts on that sorted themselves out into story form. If I wasn't deeply attached to them before, I am after writing that!

I need to mention A great book that you see yourself in. purely as it is about Alice in Wonderland. So, automatic win there.

Having just read over my entire blog, I've noticed how I seem to like the list ones better than the others generally. I seem to be quite funny in list form. Odd. 10 Likes was a good one, but 10 Dislikes was even better. I've just read it over and I'm still laughing at myself. I also like Top 10 songs for you now because naturally it has all the songs I really like just now on it. Go figure.

The one that I found most interesting was Your Fears. I had to sit and think about that one for ages. I couldn't think of anything I was afraid of. I sat staring at the title on the screen waiting for my brain to give me a list of things, even just one, but nothing came. What's really ridiculous is that in the end I had to ask Toben, who instantly rattled off everything I'm scared of. Every time he said another thing I would say "Oh yeah...". I genuinely couldn't think of a single thing. Isn't that strange?

As I say, I've enjoyed the aspect of the challenge that makes me think about things I've not thought about before. I may continue to set myself mini challenges once this is over. If anyone thinks up a good question or subject just let me know!

Friday, 17 August 2012

5 items you lust after.

1. A Volkswagon camper. I can't even explain how happy I would be to own one of these. Particularly if it was yellow. Or blue. Or green. Or...

I suppose I may have to wait a while for my camper, so in the interim I may have to find an alternative. Oh look, found it! This is a tent. A freakin' tent! I've seen one of these up and it is the same size as an actual van. From a distance you can't tell it's a tent. This is also a slightly more affordable option than the real thing.

2. I would adore this... get it?! Adore... a... door... Joking aside, I really would. So what Dad and Natalie would have to duck like Gandalf?! Toben and I are Hobbit sized, and we're the ones that would use it every day. Just call me Squaro MacBaggins.

3. I would love this satchel. Or a satchel like it. It would make an epic laptop bag. I had one before, but it was quite cheap... and therefore the straps snapped on it after a while. So I would like a proper one that will be more robust. And it could also be yellow.

4. A craft room. A room that is all mine for crafting in. Where I could keep all my craft things in easy to use places instead of tidied away in boxes in the corner. A space where I can just leave everything out if I'm halfway through a project without having to clear everything up so we can use the coffee table. A place that can be bright colours and pretty, shiny things. A Squarah kind of place. Maybe with one of these in the corner.

5. A swing. Specifically an indoor swing. This may sound odd, but I think very clearly on swings. Just gently swinging back and forth. So yes, one of these in a craft room - or in any room - would be wonderful. Failing that, I would settle for this.

So now you all know what I would like for christmas this year. Don't forget to talk to each other and let everyone know who is buying me what so there are no duplicates! Sigh, if only it were that easy...

Improve your relationship with God.

Everything went quiet for me this week. I don't know what it was about this post's title, but it just wasn't doing it for me. I think I maybe feel like I already answered it in the How could you improve your prayer life? post. Most of what I would write here I could pretty much copy and paste over from that.

So I've been putting it off. It's always been in the back of my mind though, and it has gotten to the point where it doesn't feel fun anymore.

So I'm not going to do it.

I know, I know, this doesn't really fit in with the whole point of a challenge. But boo sucks to you with knobs on is what I have to say about that. I do however have a treat for you. Be. Excited.

I have for you a little poem about what I have done this week. I feel it sums it up beautifully. So here it is.



Normal service will resume from now on.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A quote you try to live by.

I don't really have a quote... it's more like a whole poem. It's by Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I've loved this poem for a long time, ever since my first pilgrimage with the Iona Community. It's read aloud at the one crossroads on the island, which is of course quite fitting.

I think I like this so much because I don't think I have taken the road more often travelled, instead I've more or less gone off and created my own little path. I'm happy to have done that. I try to keep it in mind when making big decisions in my life. I don't always choose the road less travelled, and when I do I certainly don't choose it for that reason. I just try to remind myself that I don't have to choose the most common answer, I don't have to follow a crowd and that I can be different and that's ok.

And I honestly do think it has made all the difference.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Your fears.

I'm starting with a disclaimer. My fears are silly.

This is mainly because for the most part I'm afraid of being afraid. When I'm watching a horror film (very rare) I freak myself out so easily. I know the scary bit is coming - those films are so predictable - and because of that I end up anticipating the fear. I get scared because I know I'm about to be scared. This applies to just about everything. I get afraid something to be afraid of will materialise. I get scared that something scary might happen. I am not actually scared of the actual things. I think I'm more afraid of something so scary I haven't even thought of it. It is the one curse of having a great imagination.

I have others that border on the absolutely ridiculous.

I am quite frightened to run over something. I wouldn't know what to do. Not a person, but maybe a bird or something similar. If I ran over a bird and it was lying there dying slowly and painfully I couldn't handle that. I wouldn't be able to bring myself to put it out of it's misery, but I couldn't bear it being in pain like that. On the plus side it makes me a super careful driver around animals.

Wasps, bees and general buzzing things with stingers. Do. Not. Like. I've been stung in possibly all the most painful places on your body to be stung and quite simply I would like to avoid this happening ever again. Ever.

Heights... but not in the way most people are afraid of heights. For most, there seems to be a direct correlation between the height and the amount of fear felt. For me though, I get a bit off edge (no pun intended) at a certain height and over, and it's the same level of fear whether it is 15ft or 100ft. It is also non existent when there is a wall or some sort of proper barrier. When there is only a flimsy handrail however, that's when it gets me. Here's why: I am so incredibly clumsy. When there isn't much to stop me breaking my neck on the ground below when I accidentally trip over my own foot for the seventeenth time that day I get a bit scared, only because it can feel frighteningly likely.

Needles. This isn't really a silly one. I had a severe allergic reaction to an injection when I was 12 and I was rushed to hospital. I was told later that it was a close one; if I had left it much longer before going to the nurse they think my airways would have blocked entirely before I even got to the hospital. I've been told this could happen again so naturally I'm pretty wary of needles coming towards me. Unfortunately it extends to all needles because while I was in the hospital I got poked and prodded with so many different needles that hurt quite a lot. They couldn't find a vein anywhere in either of my arms or hands which left me pretty black and blue with them looking. I like to think of this as my irrational-but-actually-rational fear.

Mostly though, I think I'm a pretty fearless person. I have lots of things that I don't like, and many things that make me feel uncomfortable, but very rarely do these cross over to fears. I don't mean that I am really fearless; if I was being attacked by a shark I would scream and panic just as much as anyone. I mean it more like the fear of a shark attack wouldn't stop me from going in the sea. Things like that don't even occur to me for the most part.

I'm not really even afraid to lose people or any of the really common ones like that. I don't want them to go or to die or course, but I think I'm just realistic that at some point that will happen and I should make the most of these people while I can. I think sometimes fear can hinder that. Although I don't think fear is necessarily unhealthy,  I don't think it should stop you from doing the things you need or want to do.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Something or someone you miss.

Although I am happy to not be working for the Iona Community (not in a bad way, just in a I've done that and moved on way), I do miss something in particular about it.

I miss the freedom of the services. The Iona Community itself is ecumenical, and all the services held are as non-denominational as possible. I really like this, as it really proves that all are welcome. It is not the services themselves that I miss however. I can still go to them, living only on the other side of the field. What I miss is writing and leading them.

As a resident staff member, that was part of my job. I was on the rota to lead services which also meant writing the service, preparing for it and picking all the hymns. I really enjoyed this part of the job; I guess it was a creative process for me. I'm a definite ideas person, and I thrive on being creative. I loved coming up with an idea and thinking through all the possibilities for it. Then diving into the hymn book and the liturgy book to see what I could find in there to match. After being to some churches where everything is set in stone, I found the potential for it to be about anything at all really liberating. And I mean literally anything. I've done services about sleep and the need for rest, being happy about the little things like gummy bears, old and new stone in the abbey, and the wind.

It felt like I was able to ask people to really think outside the box, which by complete coincidence is where I live. I could get people to get up and wander around the abbey feeling all the stone and notice how they were all different but all necessary to build a beautiful church. I could ask people to go to three different areas of the church depending on what they were needing to say and have three separate Alleluia chants happening at the same time, each with a different feel to it but all blending together wonderfully. I could ask people to sit and listen to the raging storm outside and just let themselves feel truly safe and looked after for once. And they would. Things that would be totally unacceptable and out of their comfort zone in any other church seem to be expected in Iona Abbey. I love that.

Sometimes now when I hear a song or read something brilliant I think to myself "That would make a great service". I miss having that creative outlet I think. It's not that I like the preaching aspect, and I certainly don't want to go down that road. I wasn't really a fan of getting up in front of everyone either; it definitely wasn't a limelight thing. I just liked being able to share an interesting thought or point of view. I also know I was good at it, so I miss that nice feeling you get when you do well.

I'm not likely to enter back into the Community any time soon though, so I will just have to keep missing it. Attending will just have to be good enough.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Top 10 songs for you now.

I'm going to try to link in some videos for these where I can. But unfortunately I can't for all of them because some of the songs that are my favourites right now are by friends of mine, and Youtube doesn't know about them yet. But I strongly recommend going looking for their music!

1. King of Anything by Sara Bareilles. This was introduced to me a few days ago by some friends who thought of me when they heard it. It pretty much sums up what I think when I encounter some... interesting people.

2. Cheap Flights by Fascinating Aida. Hilarious. Having just gone through buying flights to go on holiday in October, this is pretty spot on. If you've ever bought flights you will love this.

3. Arctic Winter by Simon de Voil. No video for this I'm afraid. Simon is a friend of mine with a really inspiring life. He writes music that goes straight to my heart. Heartbreakingly beautiful in every way. You can listen to it on his website at

4. Our Love Goes Deeper Than This by Duke Special. This song sounds so cheerful (even though the lyrics aren't if you listen to them). Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy fame does vocals on this track too, which is awesome. I love the video for it too. It really shows off his quirky weirdness perfectly. His albums are consistently brilliant and I recommend you go buy them all!

5. Songs of Love by The Divine Comedy. This felt appropriate to come next! I used to listen to the Casanova album in the car with Mum when I was younger. This was never one of the ones she liked though. I only started listening to him again recently, and I think this is one of my favourites. Some of you may also recognise this as the Father Ted theme tune.

6. King of Birds by Karine Polwart. I went to a Celtic Connections show earlier this year, and she sang this at it. Very beautiful song inspired by the protests outside St Paul's Cathedral. As usual, stunning vocals from Karine Polwart.

7. Shady Grove by Kris Drever. My friends covered this at their gig the other night and I was reminded of how much I love this song. Kris Drever is incredibly talented; there isn't a song he plays or sings that I don't like. This is one of the best though.

8. Act IV by Roddy Woomble. Very interesting to listen to if you know a bit of the back story about their attempted move to Iona. "As if an island could ever break your heart". As I say, interesting. They now live in Kintra on Mull. It speaks a lot to me about Toben and I trying to stay here and how difficult that was. I had always known the song, but suddenly it made sense in a whole new way. He's another like Kris Drever, I like everything he does.

9. A Tisket A Tasket by Ella Fitzgerald. I have a huge fondness for this song. I remember my Nana singing it all the time. I also just love that style of music. Ella Fitzgerald is one of my all time favourites, along with Billie Holiday. Other than it carrying the memory of my Nana in it, I'm not sure why I like this one more than some of the others. It makes me smile for some reason.

10. Ae Ford Kiss written by Robert Burns and performed by Eddi Reader. I love this song. This is always one of my top ten songs for me now. It somehow manages to always be relevant to me in some way. So go listen to it now and fall in love with it.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

How could you improve your prayer life?

I've come to a bit of a grinding halt with this one. I've thought long and hard about what I could do to change and improve. Each time I get stuck though, and for one very good reason. I'm genuinely happy with the way it is. It works; I don't know how to improve it, or even if it needs improved.

I need to point out that in no way do I think I'm perfect or that I have everything sorted. That's not the case at all. I just feel like I have something that works for me right now. I'm not what you would consider a big prayer type in the traditional sense. No "Now I lay me down to sleep" sounding things coming from me. I'm more of a chatty, casual conversation type. Imagine if you were talking things over with a close friend over a cuppa. That image is more accurate. Comfortable, close and informal.

Sometimes there doesn't even have to be words. Like that silence that falls between two friends that isn't in any way awkward. You both know what the other is thinking or feeling but neither feel the need to express it. Yet you both know. It's hard to describe, but it's like a gentle meandering through my thoughts and God is invited in to listen. I don't really feel the need to ask for things or request help. God knows what I want, and most importantly what I need, often before I do. Why tell someone what they already know? The most I need to do is quietly acknowledge it in gentle conversation. I don't feel the need to pile on the formal gratitude either. God knows that the contented sighs and peaceful smiles are filled with thankfulness. I prefer my gladness to seep out of me for all the world and God to see.

Even though I love words, I can sometimes see how meaningless they become. Unfortunately I see this most often with liturgy in churches. Something memorised and repeated so often you forget what it means, forget what you're saying. It can be so noticeable too. You can really spot it in people. The wheel is moving but the hamster is long dead. So it comes down to action for me. To live out my happiness for God to rejoice in, dwell in my sadness so God can stop there too awhile. And like any relationship you see a lot more than can be communicated. You can't express a smile in any way other than to smile it. Why struggle to explain with words when you could just smile at them and have them know?

However with all this I am realistic. I understand that this is what works for me and God right now. But in a while it may not be and I may need to revisit this. I will change and grow as a person and as with all relationships when this happens, I will need to adapt, change and improve communication style to suit.