The New Me

Monday, 23 March 2015

Here's another post inspired by a quote-what-I-found-on-Pinterest:

When I think of certain aspects of my personality and demeanor when I was say, eighteen, it almost makes me laugh out loud at how different I am now. That's the thing: in my mind, people who I haven't seen in a long time are static, frozen how I remembered them to be. Whereas in reality, people grow and change and become something different, either in great life-transforming chunks, or slowly and gradually.

Which is why people deserve more than snap judgments or long-held grudges or pigeonholing: just because they were once that person doesn't mean they are now.

(That was a note to self, by the way).

That might be why I find it hard to be around people from my past. Like the nightmare of bumping into someone in the supermarket that you haven't seen since school on the one day where you happen to have had no sleep, ran out of concealer, and are wearing your washing-day clothes.

Part of you wants to scream "This isn't me! This isn't what I normally look like!"

And it's the same with personality: "This isn't me anymore! I'm a different person!"

But truthfully I shouldn't have to justify that to anyone else: anyone who is going to be a significant part of my life will realise this anyway. What matters is that I reconcile that to myself.

It can be really frustrating, too, how gradual change is. When you're really trying to take up a good habit, or drop a bad one, or change a certain mindset, and you slip back sometimes, it can be painful. I thought I wasn't like this anymore. I said I wasn't going to say those things or think like that or dwell on those thoughts. It's like the ghost of a former you, shadowing your attempts to be a new person. You start to wonder what the point is of even trying to be different. Your old ways and habits are so inbuilt in you, they form a groove you can too comfortably slip back into. So why even bother changing - even the things that you know are holding you back?

The thing is, some changes take a really long time. Slip-ups don't put us squarely back into our old box; they can be just a minor setback. A blip.

I'm still new. Being made newer, all the time.


One of the aspects of the person I'd like to become is to be able to lean firmly on God even when I don't want to - even when I'm desperate to know the answers and don't feel I can afford to wait for Him to sort things out. Obviously, there's wisdom involved in this. I wouldn't pray 'oh Lord, please fix this wardrobe drawer for me' and then lay back and do nothing while a screwdriver sits in front of me (or, rather, while a generous Father-in-Law with a tub of No More Nails is just a phone call away). God is not a genie granting wishes at random because I ask really nicely.

But I do believe He has a plan for me and occasionally will interrupt my carefully laid plans so He can steer me onto a different path.

I want to be okay with that.

I want to trust Him more.

I want to lean on His strength and not mine.

Chris pointed out recently that he likes the way Jellybean sits on my hip. She's casual, relaxed, almost blasé about it. He said you can almost read the trust that she has in me - Mama's got me, it's cool. 

She knows she is capable of getting where she wants to go. She's smart. She's able.

It's just that sometimes she needs me. She knows what she needs, which in those moments, is being carried by me. And she seeks it.

That's how I want to be with God.


The truth is, I can make changes in my own life and see different outcomes, even positive changes, without once praying about it or asking God to help me with it. But I've noticed that when I do ask for help, things are different. Changes might not magically happen in a snap, but the steps I take towards it are surer, bolder, more secure, and yes, longer-lasting. I truly believe that prayer makes a difference.

Because He is much, much more powerful than I am.

Sometimes I forget that in the heat of Why have I done that thing I said I wasn't going to do anymore moments.

I forget that I've prayed it. I forget that He knows.

I forget, momentarily, what I need, or rather, who I need. In my stubbornness I forget to ask.

But you know what? That's okay. I've still come a very, very long way from where I used to be. I'm still changing and growing. One step at a time.

Sometimes I get frustrated because I want the New Me right now. The girl that is patient, that is wise, that is kind, that is thoughtful, that remembers important occasions and appointments, that knows when to be firm and when to go easy on herself, that can prioritise; the girl that sorts the events of her life, good and bad, into their right places without freaking out about them or staying up late into the night worrying about them, that doesn't waste time on comparison, that doesn't hold herself up to an impossible standard, that doesn't fear.

And then I realise: I'm already that girl. I'm already the New Me.

Just, you know, one step at a time.


Friday, 20 March 2015

I'm having a blog block and it's because of the topic I'm trying to discuss today. I've been pinning inspirational quotes like it's going out of fashion (which it probably is) recently, and I came across this:

This made me laugh out loud because that is exactly me. I can't just think about things quietly in my head: I have to write them down, or at least say them out loud, before I can make sense of anything. I need an output for thoughts. Which is the reason, really, why I blog (and write a journal, and talk the ears off my husband, who understands my need to do this and rarely complains about it). Sometimes I need to work something out and nothing I write about seems to flow properly until I've sorted out the previous thing.

At the moment I am writing about things that I don't want to share with people.

But there's something else that's been on my mind that I want to write about today, too.

Recently the simple concept of God not only forgiving, but forgetting our sins has remain lodged in my head and I can't seem to be able to write anything else until I deal with this. So here I am: trying to figure it out.

Except I can't.

All the logistics of it make sense. I know that God is love, I know that He loves like a parent loves a child, even moreso. I know that He chooses, purposefully, to forget our sins: it's not that He is forgetful in nature, just that He decides not to remember our wrongdoings anymore.

I get it, in terms of being able to write it down.

I can even find it in scripture: 

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
    and will never think of them again." - Isaiah 43:25 (New Living Translation)

So I get it. As a concept.

I just don't get it.

This post will probably be short because I haven't got much else to say about it really. But then I don't really need to say much else.

Sometimes it shocks me anew. Sometimes I need to just say it without care of what other people might think of me for it: this is my Father. I am His daughter. When I allow myself to forget that, I stress and I strive and I feel pulled in a hundred different directions and I get cross because I'm just not enough.

That is the good thing about God. I don't have to be anything. In fact, the less of me and the more of Him, the better. He makes my weakness strength. He makes my paths straight. He can take the most deep, tangled messes and bring them out into the light and transform them into a beautiful story of redemption.

He makes me new.

And I am trying to soak in the truth of it.

I expect I will write about this again at some point in the near future. If I am a bit inconsistent with my posting in the meantime: I'm sorry. I'm trying to get the balance between being disciplined and being too hard on myself!

Love, unguarded and unafraid.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

My little girl is growing up.

She fell asleep in the pushchair today. I looked at her, legs dangling over the edge of the buggy, which has taken a fair battering over the last eighteen months.

I remember last summer. Long, hazy days, long periods just spent in the park, luxuriously calm, just the two of us. Her chubby cheeks and her little pink toes. How she looked, asleep in her buggy, cheeks flushed from teething. I thought, this is my favourite age. I thought, Don't take this for granted.

I thought, don't wish this time away.

Now, time has passed. The leaves in the park turned golden, then dropped to the floor, then dissolved into the dirt. We had a long autumn and what felt like an even longer winter. Now the sun is starting to shine again, and the grass seems greener, and birds sing for joy in the branches of the bare trees. And my daughter is eighteen months old.

Eighteen months! It feels like a milestone, an official entry into toddler-dom. Her hair is thicker, her legs are longer. She has lost a bit of her baby fat. She has more teeth. She talks non-stop.

Jellybean has her own language which develops every day, and I am quite pleased by how well I understand her words. 'Nen!' means 'again'. That sort of thing. Some of them are a bit more obscure. 'Mim mem', for example, means both 'bin men' and 'postman'.

I get it. I get her.

Every day she amazes me as she changes and grows. She is becoming stronger, more resilient, more capable. Braver. Yet she still needs me. She still clings on tight to me when she's really happy or sad, she still drinks milk and makes that happy, sleepy, satisfied sound, she still looks so cute in the bath, with her big tummy and chubby feet, water clinging to her eyelashes.

This is the thing: sometimes, I am tempted to panic a little bit. This, again, feels like my favourite age. I know I'm not alone in this panic feeling. I've written about it before, and I've spoken about it with friends. It's bittersweet - you pour your heart into your child, you give them every last ounce of your love and your time and your energy (and your money!), and you encourage them and help them to grow, ultimately away from you. Into independence.

It's hard and wonderful at the same time. To see your child that once lived in your belly become separate from you. I hope I will slowly learn to reconcile this as we both grow older, but I get the feeling that it always hurts a little bit, even when your children are fully grown. I don't think that you can fix this feeling. In fact, I don't think it's meant to be fixed. It's not about making sure you have a career or hobbies or other interests (although that is important). No matter how much you have outside of your kids, it still feels sad (but lovely) to see them grow up.

It's a blessing (again with the B word, but again, justified). To be so intimately involved in someone's life. Letting go of old things that have passed, and saying hello to the new.

Treasuring each moment is good. Living 'in the moment' is good. Being present and available to your child is good. But there's a temptation to preserve each moment out of fear. To not allow the thought of your child growing up to ever cross your mind. To live in denial of their gradual separation. Which isn't healthy for anyone.

But it's so easy to slip into. Finding a balance between treasuring and preserving the small moments, and being able to let go and live life unafraid of time sifting like sand through your fingers.

I think there's a specific kind of beauty and peace that comes with just letting go. Saying 'okay, I know this moment isn't going to last forever. I know one day my child won't need me in the same way, or want to spend every waking moment with me. But right now, without panic, I'm going to fully enjoy this moment for what it is. I'm going to embrace the stage we are at right now.'

No holding back. No fear. How amazing my life with God is, that I can face the unknown with confidence, knowing no matter what happens, He will always be there.

To not be afraid of what is to come.

When I try and list all the tiny things that remind me of her, right now, eighteen-month-old her, I find so many things that make her who she is:

Her curly, wispy hair. Her pout. Her frown. Her toothy grin. The way her legs dangle when she sits in the high chair. Her sippy cup. The way she stands on tiptoes sometimes. Her arms in the air, dancing, in her mismatched pyjamas. The way her hair sometimes flicks up into a quiff, defying gravity. Her farm animals. The way she will sit and read, even on her own, just flicking through books. All her words. Hands poking out of her too-big sleeves because her arms are short. Trips to the park. Her startlingly blue eyes. The way she obsessively plays with the straps in her buggy. That satisfied-milk-noise. Spaghetti bolognaise stained face and hands and high-chair. Toys jumbled in her toybox. The way she sleeps with her bum in the air. How she stamps her feet and shouts when 'big boys' at play group nearly knock her down because she's furious with them. The way she leans into me when she's feeling tired or shy. The way she shares buttery-milk chocolate cookies with her big cousin, the way she giggles when her auntie holds her hand. The way she squeezes her soft toys, saying 'ahhh.'

There are hundreds of things to be thankful for, hundreds of reasons to lift my praises up to heaven. It's almost overwhelming. It feels like a risk, sometimes. To love someone almost a dangerous amount. But it's a risk worth taking, isn't it? When you allow people into your heart, like a husband or wife, or a child, or a really good friend, you allow them to change you, to shape your life. You become less rigid, more flexible, more empathetic, more understanding. Relationships are an investment in that way.

Such relationships need heart and soul poured into them, unguarded, free-flowing love, not because they always go the way you want them to, but because that is what life is for.

To allow people in. To take the risk and love with all you have and to appreciate the moment you are in, not trying to cling on too tight, but instead committing to that relationship, to that love, unguarded, without restrictions or conditions or rules to meet. Just loving people.

Which is really what my faith is all about. Love in the biggest sense.

I pray to continue to grow in that love, unguarded and unafraid.

And I continue to praise God for all of it, every moment with my little daughter, every small thing to treasure.

Mum of Three World

Chalks in the garden - Country Kids

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Spring is in the air, isn't it? Lighter mornings and evenings, birds singing, actual glimpses of the sun.

I like this. A lot.

For a few reasons, we haven't really been able to get out much in it yet, so I was scratching my head trying to think of something to contribute to Country Kids this week. We haven't been anywhere exciting, but I did finally crack open the box of jumbo chalks I bought a while back and I let my daughter loose on our garden.

Well. Mostly she demanded that I draw for her. So that she could scribble over them. She's a pretty harsh critic.

Behold, one of my many hidden talents: drawing giraffes.

They did keep her occupied for about half an hour (an age in toddler time). It's actually a pretty good use of the garden - fresh air without me having to actually go anywhere on days when I am tired/in pain.

Fortunately it rained the next day and washed it all away, but not until my parents had come round and giggled at my horrific chalk animals!

Hope you're all enjoying the early spring sunshine :)

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Book review: Landline, by Rainbow Rowell

Friday, 6 March 2015

Every now and then I find a book that I really escape into.

I become absorbed. I believe in the world and its characters and I care deeply about their actions. A good book will nestle itself into my life, will stay in my thoughts, will drive me back to it as often as possible, will be my companion as I do everything - brushing my teeth, stirring the dinner, wrestling my hair into submission, carrying my daughter on my hip.

A good book will stay with me after I finish reading it.

Landline, written by the awesomely named Rainbow Rowell, is such a book. It has been like a soothing balm to my somewhat frazzled self. I found it in the Young Adult section at Waterstones (where it didn't belong - although Rowell has written YA books, she writes books for adults too) and bought it with the intention of saving it to read on our holiday in April (oops).

Here is something I should mention before we start: I'm not a romance novel girl. I don't like a book that is 95% will-he-won't-he angst with an improbably happy ending tacked on. They feel flimsy and shallow and ... lacking.

But I love romance.

I love reading about, well, love. When it's written well. I'm always surprised and happy to find a good love story nestled into a book where I wasn't expecting it, but that's not a very productive way to find a love story, just by accident.

I knew that Landline was about love.

It's the first specifically-about-love story that I've read and enjoyed.

It tells the story of comedy writer Georgie and her husband Neal, who is a stay-at-home-Dad to their two young daughters. Their marriage is at breaking point. Seperated over Christmas due to Georgie's work commitments, she attempts to rebuild the gap between them by calling Neal ... using an old, yellow rotary phone at her mother's house.

I won't say much more here, because the main plot device was actually a nice surprise for me, and I'd quite like it to be surprising for other people. However, I can tell you that there were a few heart-stoppingly tense moments in this book. Moments that had me greedily reading as fast as my eyes could move, to see what happened next.

Landline's rom-com-ish moments work because their relationship feels completely authentic. Rowell explores marriage in a way I haven't seen written anywhere else, at least, not in a fiction book. She explores what it really means to marry someone: to forever entwine yourself with someone else. It sounds simple, but it's not - it's complex, and hard work, and beautiful at the same time. Georgie's journey touches on how to (or sometimes, how not to) juggle your dreams, your career, motherhood, and maintain a meaningful, romantic relationship with the one you love the most, but sometimes take for granted. The in-jokes, the long-standing traditions, the shortcuts you take with one another ... Georgie and Neal's relationship felt real and solid, like a weight backing up the story. You can feel the rich background of their lives together without it ever feeling rambling or self indulgent.

I rooted for Georgie and Neal. I genuinely cared what would happen to them.

The romance was especially enjoyable because it was quirky and realistic and lovely - little things that they would do for each other made me reflect upon the little things that my husband does for me, that I sometimes take for granted. It made me reflect upon our in-jokes, our traditions, our history, our big moments.

Rowell also writes about motherhood in a way that had me nodding in agreement at the truth of it. Or welling up. Or both, like this bit:

'Okay. I love you. I love you both so much.'
'To the moon and back?' Alice asked.
'Oh my God,' Georgie said, 'so much farther.'
'To the moon and back infinity?'
'Meow,' Georgie said. 'Infinity times infinity. I love you so much, it hurts.'
Noomi's face fell. 'It hurts?'
'She doesn't mean it literally,' Alice said, 'Right, Mom? Not literally?'
'No. Well. Sometimes.'


I found every element of this book enjoyable: Georgie's relationship with her best friend and co-writer Seth, and how Neal deals with their friendship; Georgie's upbringing without her Dad, and the later loss of her father-in-law; Neal's career crisis and indecision; Georgie's terrible wardrobe comprising of old t-shirts and ancient, once-pink-but-now-gray-with-underwire-poking-out bras (another thing this book made me do: throw away my old bras); how Georgie deals with the marks motherhood have left on her.

Believable, witty, moving, utterly romantic and surprisingly tense at times: Landline reminded me of how it felt to fall in love and how it really feels to love someone ten years on. It was also the first book in a long time that made me really feel excited - and yes, in love - with reading.

(You can buy Landline here. Also, you should check out Rainbow Rowell's website, too).
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