Back from the beyond

Sorry it’s been a while folks!

I’ve not disappeared off the face of the earth, honest!  This year is the year of crazy planning.  My cousin got married in April, my best friend is getting married in a few weeks (we celebrated her hen do at solstice) and I am getting married/handfasted this Halloween.  I am very excited but have not yet got to the list stage so my head is completely full-to-the-brim with things that need doing… and have not yet been done!  It’s OK, at some point I will crack and pour the contents of my brain out onto several bits of paper and all will be calm once again for a little bit.

In other news, I’m writing… albeit sporadically but it’s happening.  I have decided that I’m not going to get a huge amount done this year and am not at all beating myself up about that, but every so often I just have to get things on paper else my ideas will explode (or even worse disappear)… I’m enjoying the process so I will see where that takes me.

Talking about new adventures… (seamless link there!) I’ve also decided to do more things that scare me!  I did the 700m zip line at The National Diving and Activity Center this weekend – something, which as a someone who has suffered from a lifetimes fear of heights, I never thought I would do!  I did exactly what terrified me and I am stronger for doing it!

So in that vein, I’ve been having a bit of a think about ‘my direction’ and where I’m going. Bottom line is that I’m scared!  I’m scared of insecurity, of wasting time, of taking a risk and nothing coming from it.  Worse! Taking a risk and being laughed at.  I’m scared of making the first step towards what I want in case that step is into the firing line… but if I don’t make the step then I will never know what is around the corner.

If I jump off this cliff, will there be a zip-line or a very hard landing.

So I’m determined to face the things that scare me, to do things because I want to and just to see where that takes me.  A life needs to be lived and I will do my very best to do so!


The Time In Between – A Memoir of Hunger and Hope

So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading a book.  This fact in itself isn’t overly blog-worthy news… I read a lot, I commute cumulatively for about 15 hours a week – if I didn’t I would go stir crazy.  And for the last week or so I have been absolutely enthralled with this book and I feel that it is definitely worth words.


The Time in Between – A Memoir of Hunger and Hope details Nancy Tucker‘s battle with anorexia and bulimia.  This isn’t my usual reading, I tend to be geeky paranormal / sci-fi / fantasy girl.  I love books which capture loudly my thoughts and carry my mind to far away places, filling it with anything other than me.  The term ‘avoid’ is far too strong but I don’t go out seeking books which I suspect may hit nerves, because well… just that… they hit a nerve and poke at the bits of me best left un-poked.

So me and the unopened book had a stand-off.  The bright yellow novel stayed in my bag for the best part of a week, it would be there when I reached for my purse or checked my phone… being yellow and unopened.  I wanted to read it but I was also finding every excuse not to (which is very difficult to do for 15 hours) but I did finally open it and Nancy Tucker has my heart-felt gratitude.

This book took me on her journey, from the roots of her disease to the present day.  Through interactions with her thoughts, her relationship with friends, family and professionals.  It is heart-breaking, frank, brutal and honest.  I laughed and cried, at times I wanted to throw it across the room but Nancy’s un-sugar-coated imagery was simultaneous tender and darkly comic… and gentle, heart-felt and innocent.

Anorexia is written about starkly.  There is no wallowing, whining or glamour.  Nancy does not hide from her journey, nor make you read between the lines or make assumption.   She tells her story in capitalised letters, colours and descriptions which do not allow you hide from the truth or to cover your eyes… 

…after all, if any subject needs to be understood with uncovered eyes it’s mental health.

Nancy detailed her thoughts, all of them. Every insecurity, voice, hidden mouthful, every lie, every devious act – yet at no point did I feel anything but affection.  Her honesty built an unbreakable trust which allowed me to emotionally follow the ups and downs of her story.  One which is still being written.

This book took my breath-away, and although I found it equally wonderful and uncomfortable, I loved it completely.

“Recovery is refusing to continue to punish yourself for whatever heinous crime you never committed.”

The fruit of unsuccessful procrastination…

So I finally got my talk done, even though I turned procrastination into an Olympic sport, I did what I needed to do, and actually on the day it was fine – didn’t talk about everything I was going to but then also added things which I wasn’t going to cover. So all in all better than I thought although I whittled on for far too long (which I always end up doing)… but I do think that’s the nature of a ‘dis-organised’ religion, we’re not in a hurry to explain anything or go anywhere.  To be fair, Tolkien wasn’t far off the mark when Gandalf said “‘A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.’  Things get done, just when they need to be done – so let it happen naturally.

So I’m perched in Wetherspoons, drinking coffee and stealing their wi-fi (other establishments are available to thieve from) and I realise that sometimes I get a little caught up in the routine of my world.  My commute, my work, the weekend and I forget that we all need things that challenge us.  We need the storms and the challenges to allow us to grow and thrive. Perhaps life is like an immune system and the more hits we take, the stronger we become.


So ok, it was only an hours talk at the local college, and its not a huge thing but it was outside of my comfort-zone.  I took such a leap of faith when I came to Wales for the first time, new job, new home and technically new country.  With no friends or family close by I felt very isolated and lost that vitality that allowed me to speak with confidence.

The times have changed, I have a different job now, my work family are amazing and I have formed strong bonds with new friends who make my life one that is full of smiles.

So today was the first time in a very long time that I have put myself out there, that I allowed my voice to be heard and that I felt confident that actually, perhaps I am worth listening to and what I have to say matters.

Procrastination: This season’s new apathy!

So I have a lot to do today – to be fair, I have had a lot to do for months.

At university my work strategy was to leave everything to the last possibly minute, then spend the 72 hours before the deadline without sleep and living solely on caffeine and sugar.  Worked for me then and it seems like I haven’t grown up.

In a week, I’m guest speaking at a local college on alternative spirituality.  It should be easy, just say what I think, throw in a few slides and ta-da!.  It shouldn’t be hard, I’ve done talks before, I’ve run monthly meet ups and gatherings but its Sunday morning and I seem distracted by everything around me… like a magpie with ADD.  I’ve done the slides, I know what I need to talk about but my brain is away in cloud-cuckoo-land and not in any way cooperating with me…

(But I am on my 3rd strong coffee so I am invoking 20-year-old University-Kittie in the hope that she kicks me up the bum.)

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I am also getting married in 9 months, and although this is plenty of time to get things sorted, we have been engaged for a million years and there is a lot to do organise.  We are having 2 ceremonies, a civil ceremony followed by a Pagan handfasting. At the moment in England & Wales, Pagan weddings can’t be solemnised legally so we are having one after the other (Scotland regards them as legal however so there is progress there!) So I need to finish writing the first draft of the Pagan ceremony so I can send it off to the lovely gentleman who will be officiating for feedback.  At the minute it’s in bits in my head, laptop and random bits of paper tucked into books strategically piled around the house.  Much to the despair of Mr Williams who keeps tripping over them.

We also need to think about vows on the legal one.

And invitations… (which will include the line “there will be no audience participation” – there is nothing worse than not knowing what you are getting yourself into.  I don’t want our marriage to be associated with the feeling of dread you get at a pantomime when Button’s asks for a ‘willing’ volunteer)

NB:  Don’t joke about naked weddings & goat sacrifices with work colleagues who have just completed equality and diversity training… They take you very seriously and support your right to religious decisions and practices. (I felt soooo bad! I’m vegetarian!)

Added to this, I have the slight background radiation of a collection of Earth poetry which again is in bits spread between my brain, notebooks and laptop…. along with a story which isn’t behaving in my head enough to capture it in words.

So I got up early to make a start, I’ve done my banking, listed a couple of things on ebay, paid some bills, wrote an email to my mum, played with the dogs, had a conversation with the chickens, made a cooked breakfast for Mr Williams, folded the laundry, put the dishwasher on, had another cup of coffee and settled down to work… then procrastinated by writing a blog on procrastination.

Oh well… nearly time for lunch so I should probably have a break.

Kieran: The brief history of robots, chickens and everything.

Conversation in the car with the kids last night:

Kieran: Daddy? Do you know that man? Stephen Hawking. He’s half-man, half-robot!
Me: No Kie, he’s a genius with an illness which means he needs help moving and speaking.
Kieran: Genius. Like a scientist? Did he do that theory?
Mr Williams: Theory of Everything? A Brief History of Time?
Kieran: How to cook a chicken using only the power of the sun.
Me: No, that wasn’t him.
Kieran: Can’t be that clever then.

Especially after Stephen Hawking’s comments on the impact of AI on the human race towards the end of last year, the irony wasn’t lost on me..

The reasons Jasmine doesn’t like me today..

Because Kieran won’t play Uno with her.
Because I make her eat her tea.
Because of my face (?)
Because a bird pooed on her head last week.
Because I don’t let her eat pudding if she doesn’t eat her befores.
Because sometimes at school other girls call her names.
Because sometimes at school she calls other girls names.
Because Daddy tickled her too much.
Because Daddy won’t tickle her.
Because I laughed.
Because Daddy laughed.
Because we didn’t laugh.
Because I made her fold up her clothes.
Because I suggested daily teeth cleaning would promote healthy teeth and minty breath.
Because I don’t love Zayn from 1D.
Because Baby Abigail frightens me to death and her eyes follow me round the room.

Reasons Jasmine likes me:

Because I’m hers. (I’ll let her off then)


One of those days, data, dog socks and my face!

When I was little I was so sure I was going to be a herbalist, I was going to be self-sufficient, live in the mountains and heal myself with the bountiful world around me.  So how find myself in university admin I don’t really know… it just kind of happened when I wasn’t looking.

So today wasn’t the greatest days.  Looking at it rationally, nothing drastic happened, no-one died but it was one of those days when you sit staring at your screen, seven hours after getting into work and wondering to yourself just where it all went wrong. At what point did I give up my dreams of a life in the wilds harvesting herbs, breathing deeply, doing yoga and wearing cheesecloth? (Ok then remembered that it had something to do with wanting a mortgage, a fondness of warm water and the inability for anyone to look good in cheesecloth..)  but I haven’t given up on my dreams completely, I’m just taking the scenic route to get there.


Plus, it’s good practice to readjust your view of your daily life every so often, that way you can re-focus your efforts and prevent pressure sores.

Bottom-line: I don’t think I am designed to work in an office. This fact is hampered by the fact that I’m occasionally good at it and that I love my wonderful work family.  The work itself isn’t bad, it’s just frustrates me when things happen which are beyond my control and find myself awake at night neurotic about whether or not I’ve used the right parameters for filtering my results and as a result of this, whether I’ll end up looking like a moron who is only just keeping a lid on her crazy.


And why am I worrying? Am I going to lie on my death-bed and wish that I had managed to more accurately display data? No, I’ll hopefully be thinking that re-trying fire juggling was a bad idea in my 90’s but what the hell? The grandkids got some amazing photos.

So I appear at work, saddle up the software and ride the wild rollercoaster of data… I work in phases, I have moments of zen like concentration followed by periods of absolute drivel.  My brain will be trying to work out averages and percentages, whilst simultaneously battling the urge to sing hits from the Sound of Music or ask random questions to the people around me.

(NB: Julie Andrews wouldn’t be at all worried about data, she would sing a classic show-stopper about curtains and punch a Nazi in the face).


So today (well this week really) hadn’t gone to plan and I was having a proper strop. In true Maria Von Trapp style I decided to count my blessings (What would Julie do?) I have a job, I have lovely colleagues, I have a home, I have a wonderful partner and brilliant kids… I am blessed with friends and mad animals, my health and a lovely family.  I have everything I need right now…

Julie Andrews is a legend.

So by the time I got off the train, I wasn’t feeling as mopey… I opened the front door and the cherry-on-the-cake greeted me.

Poppy’s new ‘dog-socks’. (Poppy cut her foot a few weeks ago and had developed a habit of biting her feet, the vet suggested a week or so of dog socks…) I can’t put my finger on why exactly I found it so funny, was it her bewildered face? The odd look she gave me? Or the way she pranced around the house like Bambi with no knees… Who knows? But I flopped on to the rug in complete hysterics, still in my coat and hugged her like mad for dispelling my bad mood once and for all.

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So the chickens are safely in bed in the coop, the furries are snoozing on my feet – I switch on my computer to find that the Shortlist Gallery is up for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize and as I add that to my list of reasons to be happy (and excited and amazed and overwhelmed!!) I realise that everything is going to be just fine.

So I may not know quite where I am going or how I have got here, I may not know how I am going to continue but I have love, excellent company and Julie Andrews. Who could want for more?