Saturday, December 31, 2005

How about some resolutions?

For the first time in ages, I've decided not to make any New Year's Resolutions. Not because I'm against them or because I don't see the benefit in changing but because I don't see the need this time. I changed my eating habits on August 1st and have reaped the rewards of that so I would like to maintain and build on that success. The scheme is relatively simple: eating as many fruit and veg portions as possible and reduce/limit the amount of wheat based products consumed. Christmas has obviously included some off limits indulgence but as the chocolate box diminishes and my portion rate is high, I think my new found good habits will be slipped back into.

Another old chestnut for New Year is to exercise more which is relevant but I don't think I have the determination and creativity to work out a regime at the moment. I currently go to the gym with middle daughter a couple of times a week: it benefits her and me. If perhaps I regularly do another stint without her, I will be OK with that.

Over the past few weeks, I have been monitoring how much I use the car, with the aim to cut back the amount of journey's I make and hence the amount of petrol I use. This has been a really useful and interesting insight and I'm thinking of 20 miles per day to be the maximum. Some days, I'm way under but on some days way over. I think it balances but I would like to start thinking that if I do start heading towards 140 miles towards the end of the week, I start having to think how I can make cut backs as opposed to thinking "Oh well It doesn't really matter if I go over this week". The new job helps this a lot and maybe in the spring I can start thinking about some cycling. The idea is that a gym membership becomes redundant if you are exercising in other ways but I am a bit of a wuss so I will only start thinking about it when the weather is better!

Shopping at Waitrose has cut back on our mileage considerably. It is literally a stone's throw away from our house, so to drive elsewhere is foolish! Especially when you justify it by "They have cheaper brands". I think that shopping at Tesco's, Sainsbury's and Asda probably ARE cheaper but actually these days, I'm wondering what are we sacrificing in order to gain that cheapness? You don't get something for nothing. Cheap bread may be cheap but it doesn't taste like bread. Does this make a low price "good value"? And after reading Not on the Label (which I highly recommend) I really dislike the way that huge bully boy supermarkets wielding their vast power pressure growers and producers to cut their costs and provide special offers. I'm not saying that Waitrose is any better (but on the whole, I think they are because they are run by the staff {Partners} and aren't accountable to share holders) but I think I can support local producers there and a very local business which is good for my area.

We have recently been ordering a box of fruit and vegetables from a local organic farm. This ensures that the miles travelled by our produce is cut, we are sourcing food locally which is good for the local economy, we are cutting out the middle men (supermarkets, buyers, road hauliers etc) and organic fresh food is something that can't be beat. It has also been interesting to think about food that is in season. We are so used to indulging our choice at supermarkets that we don't tend to think about the natural order of things. Because peppers and tomatoes are readily available on the supermarket shelves, we buy and enjoy them and yet these things can't be grown locally because we haven't the sun or daylight to grow them. It means we then rely on a system of hot countries growing and then air freighting our goods several humdred, if not thousand miles to be able to satisfy our desire for choice. Would it not be better to enjoy peppers and tomatoes in the summer when they can be sourced locally, or at least within the country? There are a vast number of interesting (but unfashionable) vegetables that are grown in this country in the winter. By getting the box from the farm, we are discovering alsorts. It doesn't mean that I've stopped buying the other stuff from Waitrose but I am working on that!

I'm also aware that we recycle a lot more than we used to, which is great but better than recycling is not buying things packaged in the first place. I try not to use the flimsy plastic bags to bag up loose fruit and veg in Waitrose and we do use the 10p re-useable shopping bags. I think I need to be aware of this more and be more careful in 2006. It shocks me the amount we waste and it won't be too far in the future when the people of that time will regard us as decadant hedonists for the way we create, consume and then dispose.

So there is lots going on already that I want to continue and to explore further, so in that respect, I don't see the need to make resolutions to encompass it all. I want to continue this exploration and this journey so that by the end of 2006, I can see that there has been a significant change in the way that I do things to ensure a sustainable way of living for me and my family.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Everything's Not Lost by Coldplay

If you ever feel neglected,

If you ever think all is lost,

I'll be counting up my demons, yeah,

Hoping everything's not lost,

Everything's not lost,

When I'm counting up my demons.

There's always one for everyday,

With the good ones on my shoulder,

I drove the other ones away.

If you ever feel neglected,

If you think all is lost,

I'll be counting up my demons, yeah,

Hoping everything's not lost.

When you thought it was over,

You could feel it all around,

Everybody's out to get you,

Don't you let it drag you down.

Cos if you ever feel neglected,

If you think that all is lost,

I'll be counting all the demons, yeah.

I'm wondering what the good demons are? Is it like counting your blessings in reverse and being glad for the tricky things in your life- the things that build character? I don't know but I'm finding this song useful at the minute...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

OK, here's another task for you...

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.

When you are finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Ok, the challenge has been set- go to it!

(many thanks Miss Ecumaniac )

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Small Change

I was out with some young people on a trip on Friday and noticed that if they dropped any money from their pockets, they would barely even give it a second look, let alone pick it up. I got the feeling that if they showed the slightest sign that they were bothered about losing some change, they would get ridiculed for being tight. And we all know there's nothing worse than being ridiculed is there?
But as for me, I still scrimp and save small change. There is something very comforting to me that I look after it all. After a few months, I'll tip out the pot and group 5's, 2's and 1's together in order to bag them up. "Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves". Or maybe the new "Do I look bothered?" motto for this milennium could be "I can afford to lose it, it's only small change".

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tag, you're it!

Phil tagged me to pop into a neighbouring blog and say hello and Happy Christmas. I went to visit Jim who has a fantastic and interesting blog. It was an enjoyable and friendly challenge so I now tag all of YOU to do the same. But you must do it and then blog your results. Just click on the next blog button in the top, right hand corner and whatever page that is, leave a message saying hello and Happy Christmas.

Winter Solstice

Wednesday was a very special day in my calendar: it was the shortest day of the year! This means it had the least amount of daylight hours but I know that once that day is out of the way that gradually our days will get lighter and sunnier. Yay!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Apparantly, Bad Santas dress in Santa suits and go on the rampage in cities in a "protest" over the commercialisation of Christmas. I read this on the BBC website about the Santarchy in New Zealand and after following a few leads found info on one due in Brighton today.
As the blurb for the Radio 4 programme on Christmas day says:
"There is an assumption that Santa is a warm-hearted, giving, non-threatening creature, but is this to be relied on? Isn't there something slightly sinister lurking under that jolly red jacket?"
By dressing in a suit, it makes the protest light hearted. "Naughty" is a word that pops up. Just having a bit of fun in a childish, lighthearted way. It's also shocking because we expect Santa to be old and lumbering not rowdy and drunken. And surely we can blame Santa for the over spend at Christmas? He is the one who gives so generously, which means we must give generously too (which means lots of expenditure). It's he that forces us into debt, buying the novelty items that have no real use and making us feel obligated to spend like for like.
I can understand why people want to protest about Christmas and I can also understand why people want to use Father Christmas to spearhead their "anti-Christmas campaign" but rather than a drunken, law breaking yob, why not a different approach? To protest needs nothing more than opting out, refusing to spend and taking a simple approach. My vote goes to Buy Nothing Christmas rather than Santarchy. Much more dignified...

Die Barbie, Die!

It would appear that children as young as 7 are turning against Barbie.
As a way of putting behind an aspect of your childhood, it seems as though Barbie can undergo various forms of mutilation ranging from "removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving."
I find it interesting that Bratz seem the cool alternative to Barbie. Edgier, certainly more ethnically diverse but as grossly deformed and hardly leading girls to aspire to winning Nobel Peace Prizes or being a geneticist.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Well this is funny...

...and a little alarming too! The audacity of stealing a two tonne piece of sculpture but the fact the sculpture is worth £3M and is possibly going to be melted down for £5K worth of scrap- eeek!

Making Poverty History?

I was so mad to read this today on the BBC news site. Why I'm surprised that rich nations and combinations of nations are doing their uttmost to salvage their own interests is down to my complete naivete. It would appear that even the most modest of compromises cannot even be agreed. We must keep this in our minds and in our prayers. Trade not aid. Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


We had a guy called Francis come into youth club last night to give a taster session on breakdancing. He was really inspirational! Firstly the few we had there weren't going to engage, so he put on a DVD of a really top flight breakdance competition, which they got into. Then he suggested we try some of the moves so we got up and warmed up. A couple of the boys in the group were naturally quite good and so it was really nice to be able to spot that talent in them. More young people came and joined in as the evening went on. The moves were quite demanding but are an excellent discipline although if I were doing it the more upright, rhythmic moves would suit me better than spinning or back flips! I think what made the session good were the skills of Francis: he walked in gave excellent eye contact, confidently shook my hand and his body language was open and confident. He had very little time in which to engage some unfamiliar teenagers and he managed to inspire them and get everyone involved. Successful all round!

Monday, December 12, 2005

People without blogs...

There are a couple of people who post comments on here but haven't got a blog. Why do some people read blogs but don't write their own? I'd like to encourage you to start one! It doesn't take long and you don't need to spend too long jotting a few words to update folks about your week.

And in case I need to spell it out, I'm talking about Steve and Naomi! Come on guys, give it a go...

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I have succumbed to the inevitable and I now have the stinking cold that everyone has had. Will endeavour to wrap up warm and feel very sorry for myself. Maybe I could watch lots of dvds for comfort?

Friday, December 09, 2005

People I needed to pray for... was a list but it felt right. I also slept afterwards so that was nice...

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Feeling very, very tired. Not even looking forward to the weekend as it will probably be jam packed *sigh*. And Lost was depressing...


Today I went to the re:Jesus labyrinth and focused on the "noise" element. I tried to filter out the noise and daily distractions from God in order to discern His voice. I found it very helpful. Will endeavour to move further through the labyrinth next time!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Today I was thinking about Peace. I did a nice visual aid that used the letters of the word peace to reflect on God's peace, how He imparts it and how it looks in our lives.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A day in His courts...

Today I was thinking about:

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked. (psalm 84:10)

My head can't get around the fact that I'm a citizen of heaven and that I'm just passing through.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Body language

I keep thinking about the bad press that folded arms get from body language experts. I often find that I have folded arms but I like to do it for comfort rather than to create a barrier. I catch myself every now and again and think "Oh, I ought to stop doing this because it gives the wrong impression" but when I stop I just feel cold! What if body language experts are wrong and it's just a warmth/comfort thing?! I don't know if anyone else is like me but it's really comforting to have your hands tucked away. I find that waistbands are another comfortable place for hands to be.

So if you see me with arms tightly folded across my chest this winter, it's not that I'm uptight in your company, it's more to do with keeping warm!


Today I was thinking about blessings.
"Every blessing you pour out, I'll turn back to praise"
Wow! Considering God blesses us so much, that's an awful lot of praise to pour back!
The time went quickly and I enjoyed it. I'm hoping this is going to work...More tomorrow...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

6 week trial

For fairness sake, I thought that I had better blog that today's sermon was really top! James was preaching on 1 Timothy 4:

v8: For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (Context)

He was refering to the way we train in order to achieve a physical fitness and yet expect to "get away" with nothing similar to keep our spiritual selves in shape. 10 years ago when he was a little "porky" ;-), he read in Marie Claire that to achieve a better standard of fitness, that you need to stick at a regime for 6 weeks to test whether you like it and if you like it, that's long enough to turn it from a chore to a habit. He tried swimming every morning and although it was an effort, he managed to do it for 6 weeks. As I already know (because I'm doing it with the food thing!), you need to set yourself acheivable goals and celebrate them.

This got me thinking, that I ought to do something similar with spending time with God. I've established a time when I can safely say most mornings I will be able to give God some time (how very generous of me!). I will aim very low to begin with (10 mins) in order not to set myself up to fail, definately during the week and altering it in some respects to be able to do it at the weekend. I will try and focus on a topic maybe at the beginning, although I don't know that I have to stick with that. I will aim to blog either a prayer or a single word as almost a 5 minute evaluation afterwards to make myself accountable and see where I'm going...

I'm going to try it for 6 weeks, one week at a time...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Full Circle

When I worked as a Pastoral Care Worker at Mill View Middle School, I really loved the school, the kids and the area. It "felt" right. It was a difficult decision for me to make when I had to decide which job I wanted to stick with when working two jobs became too much (Mill View and Youth Service). I decided on the Youth Service for a variety of reasons: I had the opportunity to pursue the professional qualification, I like the variety of work and projects I get the opportunity to work in and I thought that the career advancement opportunities were better with the Youth Service (in comparison to the YMCA which seemed to take you from complete face to face work to completely office based work)
I'm now in a position to look at that decision and see where I am and how far I have come. I am nearly at the end of the Brunel course: it's been a slog (with a LOT more work to come) but the end is in sight. Once I have that qualification, no-one can take it away from me. As far as career advancement is concerned, I have gone another level up which is partly due to my range of experience in a variety of projects and coming towards the end of the Brunel course. (I also there is a hefty amount of God in the whole thing as well [I guess non-Christians would call it luck!] concerning timing and being a part time position) I still have mainly face to face work, I work in a variety of projects and I'd like to think I will develop the skills of others in their roles. And now, I am running a youth club in Marlpit and getting a lot of ex-Mill View pupils attending which is amazing. It'a a great feeling to realise that actually some of those tough decisions I made have been the right ones and I can see that everything is where it should be.

I can't believe how God has brought me full circle- it's amazing!