Holiday doings

It’s school holidays here at the moment, which means I’m on holidays too. It’s possible I’m a little excited about that. It’s also possible that I’ve been annoying my friends by doing a countdown to holidays for several weeks. Happily, they are patient people.*

In the weeks leading up to holidays I had lots of plans for what I would do. My body, as it turns out, had other plans, and decided I need to sleep and relax. It took very little persuasion for me to be on board with this plan. Instead of a holiday full of day trips and excitement, I’ve had a week of walking, relaxing brunches, hanging with friends and sitting on the couch. So,  you know, a generally awesome holiday. Here are the highlights:

IMG_0598Early morning walk in the sunshine, leaning into people’s gardens to photograph the daisies.

IMG_0627A morning in a local park, which included…

IMG_0624…hiding in a duck blind, like a ninja.**

IMG_0647$15 plastic sandals, with glitter. I feel entirely sure these sandals will be as sweaty and uncomfortable as the almost-identical pair I had when I was 12, but… GLITTER.

IMG_0649An early celebration of a friend’s birthday, where I helped her children make this amazingly delicious cake. This is only half finished – the end result looked a little like this:

30447_l(Recipe and photo from here)

IMG_0659Several walks at another local walking track, which included a little loop into here:

IMG_0660…where I fully expected to find a mysterious gingerbread house around the next corner.***

IMG_0616I’m also teaching myself to crochet. I made this, then went on to these…

IMG_0666…which might be the beginning of a rug. Or might just be the beginning of a crocheted hexagon collection. Who can say?

Unphotographed events include:

A Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon with two friends, one of whom had never seen any Star Trek and wanted to see what the fuss was about. I sat and crocheted, she did patchwork and my other friend did some colouring in her daughter’s very intricate colouring book. A comment was made that it felt like we were in a Jane Austen novel, with all the women busy with their handiwork while someone (in this case, the TV) read to us and entertained us.

Lots of reading. In addition to some book group reading, I’ve been working my way through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. They’re very funny and weird. I’m enjoying them a lot.

A trip to the zoo. Okay, I haven’t actually done that one yet, but I’m looking forward to it on Wednesday.

Verdict: School holidays are totally awesome. Totally.

_______________________________________

* This is a prerequisite for being friends with me. I can be a little… insane… at times.

** Note the complete absence of ducks in this photo. It’s possible they knew I was there.

*** I didn’t find a gingerbread house. I did find seven – SEVEN – fallen trees over the path. I was ready to run at the first ominous creaking sound.

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Unthinkable fear

I am a pretty creative person. I knit, I write, I draw (badly, at the moment). I can be quick-witted when I’m properly awake. But you know when I’m most creative?

When I’m afraid.

When I’m anxious or worried or fearful I can create the most elaborate scenarios. I have a headache… well, maybe it’s a headache. Maybe it’s a brain tumour. Maybe it’s a rare neurological disorder that will be named after me because no one has ever seen this awful condition before.

What about that conversation I had with my best friend where she said I’m awesome. Did she mean that? Or was it sarcasm? Maybe she was rolling her eyes as she typed it. Probably she’s not really my friend at all. Yeah, that’s it. It’s a pity friendship, because I’m so pathetic and she felt sorry for me. Well, of course. That totally explains why she would call me awesome. Glad we cleared that up.

And God… I know he doesn’t really love me. Oh sure, the Bible says he does, but obviously he doesn’t love me love me. He just obligation-loves me. You know, because he has to. I’ll bet when I get to heaven he won’t want to know me. He’ll be hanging out with all the people he loves… all the people who did the right things when they were alive and prayed all the time and loved spending time with God and didn’t have all these gnawing doubts and fears. Sure, he’ll hang out with them and I’ll be off in the corner. Loved, kind of, but not really welcome. I won’t belong.

Creative. That’s me. And here’s what God has to say about that:

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. —Romans 8:38-39 (The Message)

Nothing thinkable or unthinkable. My worst thoughts, my most spectacularly creative fear scenarios… they can’t stop God loving me. The fears that I can’t even name, the scenarios that lurk in the back of my mind but are too awful to contemplate – the unthinkable… even those fears can’t, and won’t, stop God loving me.

I don’t know, right now, how to stop worrying or being anxious or being afraid. Maybe I will never learn that. But I can learn about God’s love. I can learn that God knows my fears. He knows the fears that I can’t even name. And he is bigger and kinder and more compassionate and more gentle and more loving than all my fears – than everyone’s fears.

Fear tells lies. Fear feels impossibly strong. But God is stronger. He loves you. He loves me. And nothing will stop him loving us.

Not a crocodile wrestler

I was reading an article the other day – which turned out to be boring and not worth anyone’s time – but an interesting thing was the ‘similar articles’ link section at the bottom. It linked to two articles that used the phrase ‘the Not-Yet-Married’. As in, for example, “Advice for the Not-Yet-Married” or “What life is really like for the Not-Yet-Married”.

It will come as a huge surprise to exactly no one to discover that this made me feel a little stabby. With no access to the authors to stab them, and with my crazy desire to stay out of prison, I have decided to blog about this instead.

Not Married
I have long had an issue with single people being described as not married  or unmarried. Yes, obviously I am not married. I’m also not a doctor. I’m not a gymnast. I’m not a musician. I’m not a sky diver. I’m not a snake charmer. I’m NOT a lot of things. I don’t describe myself in terms of the things I’m not. I’m a woman. I’m a Christian. I’m an editor. I’m a writer. I’m a knitter. I’m single.  I’m (mostly) a morning person. I have blue eyes.

How ridiculous it would be if that list were written: I’m not a man. I’m not an atheist. I’m not a publisher. I’m not a journalist. I’m not a weaver. I’m not married. I’m (mostly) not a night person. I don’t have brown eyes.

I don’t describe myself as ‘not married’ because it assumes marriage is the norm. That marriage is the expectation and goal. Most worryingly, it assumes that those who are not married are somehow lacking.

When we get in the habit of describing ourselves by what we are not, we are assuming that something is missing. We are focusing on what could be or could have been, but isn’t. Why don’t we describe married or partnered people as ‘not single’? It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I think the reason it sounds ridiculous is because we assume marriage/partnering is the right path. The expected end goal. And if you haven’t reached the goal, then you’re not. Not married. Not partnered. Not right. Not complete.

I know it sounds like a big jump, but think about it… what other part of life is described so consistently in the negative?

Not Yet Married
Which brings me to ‘not yet married’. Oh, that’s a whole other kettle of fish right there. Not only is it a negative description, it boldly suggests that marriage will happen. Or at least, is SUPPOSED to happen. Right, so no pressure there, then. And no feelings of inadequacy if you’re single. Really, when I’m 85 should I be describing myself as Not YET Married? Because, you know, I’m not dead yet. There’s still time.

It’s a tiny change in the way we speak, but it makes a difference. I don’t want to spend my whole life thinking about what I’m not. Because I’m NOT a lot of things. I will never be a lot of things. I’m not a crocodile wrestler. I’m also not married. But I am me, and I am made up of many, many thing – things I like, and want to celebrate. If I think about what I lack, I have no room for thinking about what I have.

Don’t box me in with negatives. They’re not me.

Swimming Club (a story that’s not really about swimming)

Many years ago, I was invited to join a swimming club. I didn’t know how to swim at the time, but I was assured that I was young and there would be plenty of time to learn. In the meantime, I was welcome – in fact, expected – to come along to all the swimming club meetings.

So I did. I didn’t always understand what they were talking about, but I was excited about one day learning how to swim. Then I would be a full member of the club. I’d have the uniform. Maybe one day I’d even be able to chair the odd meeting. I was full of hope about my future swimming career. I could see it. I could smell the chlorine. I went to the shops and looked at the goggles and swim fins and caps and dreamed of the day I’d be entitled to wear them.

Then, something happened. Or rather, something didn’t happen. I never learned to swim. Sometimes I sat on the edge of the pool and paddled my feet in the water. I was often asked to supervise the toddlers in the kiddy pool. But swimming? I never learned how.

I wanted to learn to swim. Even now, I still go and look at the goggles and things in the shops. I’ve often bought them for my swimmer friends. And, you know, I’ve watched other people swim. I watch them all the time at the meetings. I feel like I understand how it’s done, although I guess it’s different when you’re actually in the water yourself.

I want to swim, but I can’t. And now I realise that I’ll never learn how, and that makes me sad.

They keep telling me I’m still welcome at the swim club meetings. So I go. Sometimes I work in the kiosk, because the swimmers don’t have time. I often collect the wet towels at the end, when the swimmers have to rush off to another pool. I sit through the meetings, but I feel like an outsider. I’m not a swimmer, and this is a swimming club. I have no real place here.

The swimmers, they are kind to me. In truth, I have lots of friends who are swimmers. I love being around them… but I am not one of them.

Swimming club is for swimmers.

I can’t swim.

I wonder if it’s time to walk away from the pool.