Thursday, 31 March 2011
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Monday, 28 March 2011
Friday, 25 March 2011
Thursday, 24 March 2011
My intention this year was to run the same four races I did last year. I have completed two and entered the third, so my thoughts are turning to the winter. Last year I ran the Hog's Back, which was fun, but only 8.2 miles. A reasonable distance, but something and nothing, not a distance which can easily be compared with any other. The year before I did a 10 miler. A very hilly 10 miler. But it was a long way from home, and there is always a point at which I wonder why I am in the car longer than I am running, when I could run the same distance from my front-door and be home for breakfast. Both of these have the advantage, though, of a previous time to compare this year's with.
I've found a half marathon just over an hour away, mostly canal paths, which looks a good option. But then, there is the Greensand Marathon. Not just a marathon, but a marathon with a vertical mile of ascent and descent. Not just a marathon, but a marathon with a quarter-way cut-off point of 70 minutes, which doesn't sound too bad until you remember the vertical mile. And the fact that it's all off road. I won't be able to move for a week afterwards. At least. I won't educate my children much for a week afterwards - unless setting a role model of setting challenging goals counts as education. It's expensive, but it's close to home, and somehow, when it's an option on the table, everything else sounds just a little bit tame. So, it's an idea. But is it a crazy one?
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
It's been a learning experience and here are some of the lessons:
1) Don't drop a phone in water, it damages the phone.
2) If you do, don't try and turn it on, this may well be what causes the damage.
3) Open the phone, take out the battery and SIM card and put everything else in a bowl of dry rice. It didn't help me at all, but apparently it can help. At least I felt I was doing something.
4) It is worth complaining. A very nice lady from T-Mobile called me in response to my letter explaining that I thought charging me £50 to replace a phone I could buy for £25 on-line was unreasonable and extortionate. She said she would credit my account with £25. And she thanked me for writing. You're welcome!
5) I am far more attached to my phone than I realised. Very few people call me, or text me. In fact, it is mostly my best friend. I have set the phone to ring a different tone if it's her calling, but as it nearly always it, I don't really need it. But I like it. In fact, I really like my phone. I'm glad I've got it back!
Monday, 21 March 2011
Friday, 18 March 2011
As a home educator, I have always got box seats at the Albert Hall's schools' events because of the high ratio of adults to children: I am one mum with three children. In fact the Second Tier was full of home educating families and a glance around showed me many friendly faces. In the next box but one was a neighbour and we popped into the corridor for a chat and she introducde me to her husband and eldest son. Right across the Hall, so far that I had to squint to recognise the face next to the waving arm, was another friend. It always feels good to be reminded that I am part of a large and lively community of families with many shared values. I am not an odd-ball, and I am not on my own.
Thursday, 17 March 2011
I was incensed when the driver pulled up five minutes before five o'clock. When he rang on the door-bell I pointed out that he was early, that I booked a delivery slot that was convenient to me and this wasn't it. He mumbled something about his watch being fast. We unloaded all the goods and, as I signed his electronic machine, I noticed that it stated quite clearly the time as 16:57. I pointed this out to the driver too.
I don't find boundaries easy to establish or maintain and, as I read Townsend and Cloud's "Boundaries" for the second time, I am beginning to learn where and how I can build them. It wasn't a big deal really, the Tesco man coming early, but it felt like a violation of crucial principle. I had said 'no' and it had not been listened too. The disproportionate anger I felt at this over-stepping tells me how new and raw this issue is for me, how precious my 'no' is and how I am beginning to grasp that my time is my own to give away as I choose, not as is demanded of me.
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
However, I was uninspired. As I look down the list, I laugh out loud at the idea of spending less time on my "personal care routine" (point 8) - any less time spent and I would be smelly and unhygenic! Similarly, I would be hard pushed to lower my housekeeping standards (point 5) without actually being able to grow fruit and veg in my carpet and we eat leftovers plenty (point 3). I have to cook sometimes otherwise there would be nothing to be left over. Things do have home in my house, but much time is taken reminding the other members of my family to put things back. And I do work from home so my only commute is from bedroom to kitchen.
Every list I see of tips to save time suggests watching less tv and I am tempted to agree. I do not imagine at the end of my life wishing that I had watched more American sit-coms, but there are hours, evenings, when I am really too tired to do much else. I would love to read worthy literature, hold erudite conversations with my husband, paint a masterpiece or even complete a jigsaw, but I'm wiped out and want to lie on the sofa, cuddle my dog and watch old episodes of "Frasier". I don't think we can make every hour count, fill each moment with something useful. I think we all need some time to just be, not in a deeply spiritual and meditative sense, but in a drifting along and feeling dozy kind of way. Otherwise we'd just be busy or asleep. And maybe these moments are valuable, these 'wasted' moments reading a friend's blog, texting a silly message, sipping a coffee, tickling a puppy's tummy. For it is in these moments that we are reminded that "our worth is not the same as our usefulness." (Nouwen)
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
She is a fountain of pleasure when I collect her from the pool-side. Did I see? It was so exciting! She dived off the board! Wasn't she brave?
It doesn't seem so long ago that I had to hold her with two hands in the bath. She is growing up.
Friday, 11 March 2011
So, now I am phone-less and £50 down. I can't put my SIM in my husband's phone, or either of the two extra hand-sets we have because they are 'network locked'. I can't use either of the other SIM cards we have knocking around, presumably because the numbers have not been used for so long.
When did I become a person who had spare SIM cards, two spare hand-sets and feels anxious at the thought of being without a phone?
How do I become a person who trusts in her Father's provision for her every need and doesn't stress about £50, knowing that I have never lacked for anything and won't be in want because I have this unexpected, and unwelcome, expense?
The phone is showing more signs of life after its day in a rice-spa, so, although it is not fully functioning, I have a seedling of hope. But when I found a packet of silica beads which I thought I might put close to the phone, to help the drying-out along, the dog found it. And ate it, just to add to what I have found a very trying day, and I had to call the vets to make sure that she wouldn't shrivel up like a prune, desiccated from the inside out. (She'll be fine!) I think it's time I brewed some camomile tea and, now the heating has come on for the evening, let the airing cupboard work its gentle magic. And perhaps I'll just check my e-mails ...
Thursday, 10 March 2011
I love the fact that my middle son can tell me all sorts of facts about First World War tanks, gleaned from books and many visits to the Tank Museum in Dorset, and that we can work together on his writing skills while indulging his love of all things armoured vehicle.
I love the fact that I can share a table with my daughter while we paint watercolours together, and she paints herself and her brother "asleep under the stars", a hoped for treat this summer.
I love days like today where we touch all the "school-y subjects", like maths, english, history, art and geography, and it all feels like fun, and I still have time to spend over an hour on the phone to my best friend while the children play in the garden. This is what I want it to be like, more days like today.
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
It also serves as a timely reminder to revisit my intentions and see how I'm doing.
Bookham 10k is done and Hastings Half-Marathon is in 12 days time. Training is going well and I got a personal best at my regular 5k the week before last so I'm feeling good. And I have completed 69 of these 5ks, creeping towards my goal of 100 and the prize of a black T-shirt. My mother-in-law received a hand-painted card last week and I have another upstairs ready for a birthday next week. Plans for the North Downs Way are ready to kick off on 3rd April and, of course, I am celebrating March's festival today.
Over my husband's half-term holiday and this weekend I was able to catch up with four girl-friends whom I have not seen much of in recent months. I put in future dates with a couple and am working on it with the other two. I am trying to be more mindful of these relationships and at least contact by text or e-mail more frequently, little stitches in the tapestry of relationship.
The crowning glory for me was meeting up with my first-cousin-once-removed last weekend. For those of you who don't have a handy little chart to look these things up on, a first-cousin-once-removed is a parent's cousin, in this case my dad's. He remembered me from my grandmother's funeral but I had no recollection of him. I remembered his dad well though, both from experience and family stories. We spent a pleasant hour or so talking of relatives, drinking tea and sharing photos. I was even invited to a family barbeque. I have found it deeply grounding and surprisingly emotional to discover and meet my cousins and aunt and uncle in thes last couple of years, people I didn't know existed, to learn more family history from my maternal uncle and to begin to see my place in a complex web of human beings, and that I am not just the product of my nuclear family.
All in all, I think it's going pretty well.
Monday, 7 March 2011
It's not easy being the adult when the explosive toddler is within. But I did manage to peel myself from the chair, leave him with an easy puzzle and take myself to a different room and persuade myself that this topic could be re-visited when I am in a better frame of mind. I am learning to leave it be when it's all getting too much and I am learning to celebrate my growth instead of re-hashing my failures. And if my son can see that modelled in me as I grow up, perhaps that will be more useful in his future life than being able to rearrange an equation.
Friday, 4 March 2011
I love the curves, the shapes and negative spaces, the weightiness of the pillar and the lightness of the suspension and the swooping birds and I love the colour. The artist has completed a whole series of bridge paintings, each taking a couple of days, some painted in situ and some in the studio if she had been 'chased away by the weather'. I spent some time speaking with her, reluctantly agreeing that I, too, was a student of art. She told me of her sketch books from her college days, in the Sixties, and how she looked back at how complicated she had made each picture, how she had tried to capture everything about a scene or object. She said that she had learned to pick and choose what she included.
Fifty years of art! Perhaps, when I am ninety, I will have a style as skilled and unique. You go on, she said, until you find your voice, and then you use your voice to say what you want, or to sing: death is the only deadline.
I left inspired. I have so much more time than I imagine to discover and grow my artistic self: although I did not see myself as creative in my teens and twenties, it is not too late for me now to find my unique style, my voice. And this is true in a wider sense: approaching 40 is making me reflective and it is tempting to envy those who seem to still be in a place of so much choice but I am increasingly seeing the time available to me and the choices open to me. I do not have to include everything, I can pick and choose. I am beginning to whisper in a new voice and to grasp that, indeed, death is my only deadline.
Thursday, 3 March 2011
It was my two pen portraits which I was most proud of: There is much about them that could be improved, not least the proportions, but I love the overall effect. In my search for style, I think I could be one step closer. And my teacher even used the word "brilliant." I find it hard to hold on to compliments, but this one I heard and let myself enjoy.
Wednesday, 2 March 2011
It's been hard work having a puppy, much harder than I had anticipated, but it is rewarding to see her obedience and control and to have worked with her, building up our relationship. I am a proud dog owner and she is a very good dog!
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Almost all of my successes in life have come because I do less than other people, not more.
My productivity goes up as my distractions go down.
Less is better. Little things done daily are better than grand plans.
If I am honest with myself, something I increasingly realise I am not always and am trying to be more, I realise that I know what works. It's just that it doesn't look like much, not much gets written down, and it doesn't feel like much when other parents reel off the list of subjects and extra-curricular activities which their children take part in.
Reading aloud works. We all enjoy it, it is relaxed and fun and includes us all - even the dog - and leads to endless conversations and connections.
Poetry tea works. Again, we enjoy it, we are together, the children and I laugh, and I even sometimes cry, and they re-visit old friends and experiment with new poems and they all read aloud and with no pressure. Often we have guests and it is always a delight to share this special, weekly treat.
My eldest loves to read and to write and to model, my middle son loves to build and to watch documentaries, my little girl loves to create and left to their own devices, very little time gets 'wasted'. The longer I home educate, the more I want to be able to be brave and to dare to do less. I will only get this one chance.