Saturday, 28 May 2011

The world is so small isn't it...?!

Well thanks to the facility that is Skype it is! In the last 24 hours I've spoken to Naomi and Colin in San Diego and Necia in Wellington! Its almost like they're in the room. Fabulous! And its true it does shrink the world!

There were weeks that would go by when Naomi was too busy to be able to pop in at home but now its almost like we will have the chance to speak more often. So far we've had loads of emails and last night a tour of their new apartment - courtesy of a laptop and Skype. Utterly brilliant!

As for Necia - my ex-flatmate - its been over 5 months since we last chatted so its hardly surprising that we spoke for an hour. LOTS to catch up on including two weddings (both our son's) and plans for a couple more. Wellington is truly on the other side of the world and a 27 hour trek by plane, this is such an amazing alternative.

All I need to do now is make sure Neil and Nicola get connected too and we'll have it sorted!

I caught the end of a piece on the radio yesterday about the importance of touch as a child grows up. Appropriate touch is always important in childhood and it remains so as we mature. It feels good to hug a relative or friend. That close physical contact is so precious... We'll have to accept that is rationed while we live in all these far flung places... but the visual sense helps :-)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

How brilliant to be back!!!!

I have the next 5 days stretching out ahead of me - well 4.5 days, I've had half a day already - at home. FAB! In the last 10 days I have criss-crossed England by train, car and plane even. Despite the best efforts of the volcanic ash cloud to spoil it for me. But all the travelling and the huge amount of work has left me utterly exhausted!

Though if you add to that the farewell we bade to our daughter and her fiance as they emigrated to the States last weekend. So the combination of physical and emotional and intellectual draining has more or less knocked me out - and it takes a lot to do that!!

Its fascinating looking back on Naomi's farewell now. logically we all knew it was coming and what's more we were all delighted for them both. they are so happy and so suited and so excited about building their own future. Its the conclusion of being a successful parent - well sort of, I understand (from my own mother) that it never ends - which is good!

Never the less I woke on the fateful day with tears already to spring up at a moments notice. It was just so illogical - but emotions are, aren't they...? They defy us! They creep in under our defences and capture us whether or not we like it!

In so many ways I wanted to be strong for Naomi and Colin... and I know I wasn't alone in that. Distance is relative - it takes nearly as long to get to Edinburgh by some forms of transport as it does to get to San Diego - see I can be as rational as the next person!! But I am so pleased that the irrational bit of me broke through the tough surface.

The emails are now zipping to and fro across the Atlantic (and the rest of north America) and everyone is happy, excited and - well, its all almost back to normal.

Its about making new patterns and new beginnings... not just for the beautiful couple but also for all the rest of us..

Monday, 16 May 2011

Great... at last a chance to post a thought or two!!

My life feels manic at the moment. Lots and lots going on with the family. An extra short term role at work, however that brings quite a lot of extra responsibility - I didn't go looking for it, it found me! BUT the family are the focus at present. Our son returned from his honeymoon on Friday last week so we made a snap decision and went to stay with him and his in-laws Friday night... oh, and our daughter came along too, with her other half! Crazy but utterly lovely. We're so lucky that we get on with our son's wife's parent really well!

What I really want to tell you about though is fab friends! I'm so, so lucky.

My close mate Katrina and her gorgeous girls (two black Labrador's) is such a source of fun and inspiration, joy and laughter, empathy and sympathy. She's a writer and she has heaps of talent and I'm proud and privileged to act as one of her editors... I trust her with my life... On the surface, to look at us, you'd never put us as close mates...

Then there's Nick n Rob, who feature in the photo! We all met in the most 'normal' way - they had a flat to sell and I was one of the pair, me and my mate Necia, who purchased it. It might've finished there but I am delighted to say it didn't and we met up afterwards and haven't stopped since. In fact its now nearly 9 years and we're still having such fun.

Life brings you all sorts of opportunities - some more of a surprise than others - but its far too short to say "this shouldn't work"

I'm so glad to be able to look beyond the obvious and find some wonderful - life long - friends! :-)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

I saw a dog the other day... nothing unusual with that I hear you say. But it was a hot day - like so many this spring - and as I was walking through the streets I saw a car pull up nearby with a dog in the back seat.

Its head was out of the window and its ears flapped in the wind. Its nose was sniffing furiously, trying to gather all the different smells that were coming thick and fast. It seemed to have not a care in the world!

It was just such a lovely sight. So human and yet not so. I could almost feel that same rush of air over my face and, though my ears aren't big enough to flap, I could imagine my hair being ruffled by the wind.

It felt so cool - such a contrast to how I felt. Hot, bothered, tired, a tad sweaty - you know the feeling. I had this huge desire to flee the crowded streets and find a wide open space to just rest in, to simply be at one with the world...

I know I don't allow myself to do that often enough... just be that is I also know that my 'well-being' is the poorer for it.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I'm really annoyed with myself! I'm too busy at the moment to even find time to think of a photo to go with this post! work is busy, busy and - well you know how crazy my family life is at the moment.

However, despite my annoyance I have found time to bask in a little moment of self-congratulation today!

I've got a new mobile phone. Its a smart phone - well I think it is. Its touch screen and can access the internet and when I have time I can even think about downloading some apps! I've mastered the basics - so i can text, make phone calls and even check emails. I've managed to turn off the ringing tones so its on silent/vibrate. But I haven't yet worked out how to increase the volume of the person I'm speaking to so that i can hear more clearly - maybe I'm going deaf!

BUT today's little triumph was that I succeeded in setting the alarm for the right time!

How exciting! Even better the tone that wakes you is rather soft to the point of being gentle but gradually builds up as you ignore it or rouse from deep slumber...

So I'm feeling a tad smug at this success - it won't last I'm sure to fail at something trivial on it soon!

I promise a photo tomorrow - maybe even two! ;-)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Last night I finally watched the fourth programme in the recent BBC mini-series "The Wonders of the Universe".

It was a popular series and well presented by Professor Brian Cox and I have to admit to really enjoying it all. It certainly stretched my grey matter a bit! In fact within minutes of the final part starting my brain started to ache... not literally but just through over-activity and trying to get my head round the HUGE numbers that were involved...

It was all about light and the birth of the universe and how the former tells us so much the latter. I was well and truly hooked. Fascinated by all I was hearing and by the way it was presented. Slightly disappointed that the speed of light is now measured in metrically - what happened to 186,000 miles per second... I can't even be sure if I've remembered that correctly because there is no way I can convert that into a metric equivalent!

But I got things before they were said when he talked about wavelength and how the further light travels the longer the wavelength so stuff far away looks red... It was fun as well as stretching!

Then I started to think about the enormity of it all and how indescribably small we are. So, so insignificant when galaxies, let alone stars, are counted in millions of millions. Yet it all started from the same place at a single point in time - the beginning of time.... virtually impossible to comprehend... When you then layer on top of that my personal belief in God and how God existed before time, at the beginning of time and throughout all time - that is when my brain gets close to exploding like one of those dying stars!

Quest for understanding and knowledge is part of our very being... we were made in that way... but it doesn't mean we have to understand it all instantly, as we mature as a race we comprehend more through the wisdom and insight of great minds.

I'm happy to just grasp the little nuggets that I can in the knowledge that I shall know it all one day but not in this life

Monday, 9 May 2011

My life is just too busy at the moment!!!!!

I have been desperately trying to carve out enough time to blog but it just hasn't happened!

I'm desperate for a 'normal' quiet weekend and that will only be possible once my beautiful daughter has emigrated to the US! So its a real double-edged sword...but then I believe that as you bring up your children your main - even key - purpose is to equip them for life and all that lies ahead. The good things and the bad things. The happy and sad times.

I've never felt the need to see my children succeed professionally - though its a joy to know that they are in their own ways. I've never felt it necessary to count and compare exam successes or material possession (that goes for me and the kids!). The things I wanted my children to have and value above all others include: happiness; strong sense of right and wrong; a desire to combat injustice; the ability to be a true and constant friend; and the love of their family.

All sounds pretty obvious, even simple....

The other gift I wished to instill in them was a self-confidence and belief in who they are. Not so that they would become arrogant or a pain in the neck but just enough to make sure that they could stand up to things when confronted by something they knew not to be right and/or just.

Today I've been doing a couple of end year reviews with some of the folk I line manage and I realised that my 'parental zeal' was almost as strong in that context. I want to develop and grow those who work for me so that they can fly this little teams 'nest' and flourish in a new bigger nest, maybe as a manager themselves.

Life can be about allowing people to move on. About knowing when its time to let go and move on...

And that's includes all sorts of situations - especially those that have outgrown their usefulness... or you have outgrown them...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Gosh, was it really a week ago that I was dashing around Norwich making final preparations for the wedding??

Where has that time gone? How can a whole week just evaporate?

Yet there is also a strong sense of having filled it to overflowing. Squeezing every last second out of the ever moving hands of the clock. the passage of time is inexorable and utterly constant... yet its amazing how it appears to speed up and slow down depending on what we are doing.

Occasionally, when I'm feeling like an intellectual challenge and I have the opportunity and energy to chew over a really 'meaty' thought - so you can guess how occasional that really is! - I try and get my head round the concept of time and God existing throughout and in it and before it and creating it. frequently that's about as far as I get because it makes my brain hurt.

Our lives are so controlled and constrained by time... I suspect that's why Dr Who has such unending popularity, the concept of time travel is one we can only imagine... Yet the potential consequences of being able to travel in time are just as weird to comprehend as time itself...

But back to God! The only way I can start to approach an understanding of God's relation with time is through art. Salvador Dali's painting Christ of Saint John of the Cross is one that helps me... That somehow captures an image of God in the universe, above the confines of our planet, inextricably linked and yet separated...

But less of the philosophising - there's another wedding to begin to think about now!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Its SO annoying!

My number plates have been stolen again - actually only one this time, the front plate.

It makes me so angry - though mostly with myself because I'd found a way to prevent them being nicked by parking the front of the car against a metal railing that was also planted by some thick laurel bushes. Only last night I didn't park quite snug enough and there it was - gone when I left for work this morning!

So I had to go to the police station and report the theft and provide all the necessary details and explain that I do really live in two places - twice... and yes, this has happened before and no the criminal damage wasn't to my car but to my bedroom window... But its done now.

All I have to do is drive home carefully this weekend making sure I keep my crime reference number with me so that is/when the police stop me - because the number plate has been reported stolen....

Actually, this didn't happen for years. The first times were ages ago when I moved into the flat nearly nine years ago. Then its happened twice in the last 8 months or so... If I were to offer an opinion I'd say it coincided with things getting tough on the job front and prices going up and folk having to take desperate measures...

It may be annoying for me but what drives someone to commit a crime???

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I noticed the difference today! Westminster and Whitehall have been recaptured by the civil service!

Barriers have disappeared. The tents belonging to the Royal family's ardent followers have packed away until the next time. The palatial media stand is beginning to be dis-assembled, even the window boxes along the front are showing signs of fatigue. Road blocks are no more and we can post letters again. Life returns to something approaching 'normal' though I am never quite sure what 'normal' is...

In some ways its as if it never happened at all though the queues of people waiting to see the trees and flowers are still forming...

Exciting things, special things, out-of-the-ordinary events are like that aren't they. They usually engender a huge amount of anticipation and preparation; then they're over before you really start to relax and enjoy them.

But our unique memories linger and keep it all alive...

Monday, 2 May 2011

Today has been a quiet day for me...

After all the fun and excitement of the weekend today was one for peace and a chance to reflect.

Some times when we meditate the subjects are thrust upon us but today the answer came easily.... I was struck by how much folk today miss out on and so respond to the simple gifts of listening and touch...

The train of thought was prompted by pondering how we can express a healing ministry. My London church has a regular Listening Service which is offered free to anyone who feels the need and drops in. Listening, as I've remarked before, is such a precious gift. The opportunity to speak to someone whose sole task is to be there for you is incredible and should never, ever be underestimated.

That thought led me to another and I realised how much I looked forward to massages and the like. The common thread there is that it is someone who is focused solely on another person...

It is so simple, the gifts of listening and touch and yet we're often too busy or too reticent to offer them...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Its hard to know where to start on re-telling or even just capturing a glimpse of such a magnificent, near-perfect day...

The weather was incredible, wall to wall sunshine, though as the day wore on a breeze sprung up that was a tad chilly and made veils and trains billow in the wind.

The alarm went early but only so that the golfers could dash out and play a nerve-soothing 9 holes or so. Breakfast - pre-ordered was waiting in the dining room. The rest of us gathered at a more leisurely pace and civilised time. I wandered about camera in hand taking snaps of the preparations. Then the golfers returned and I became 'chief buttonhole pin-ner on'! After they left - and returned to collect the rings and left again - I could concentrate on getting ready myself!

The church looked superb. The guests as splendid as those who adorned the Abbey the day before. The music group arrived had a rapid run through. The ushers, best men and groom joined others at the pub at the bottom of the road for a little courage. The vicars put their robes on and people began to take their seats.

The service was so relaxed and so personal. Spontaneous applause erupted on a couple of occasions. Smiles were broad. The sun continued to shine. The photos were duly taken and the biodegradable confetti thrown - outside the church gate as requested.

Back at the reception the celebrations continued with fine food and drinks in a beautiful marquee. However, the highlight was undoubtedly the three speeches! Each superbly delivered - they reduced me to tears - of laughter!

There is nothing so precious as being surrounded by friends and family enjoying and celebrating a special moment in the lives of two young people.