Packing again…

It’s funny.

I was reminded by someone on twitter of how often I did this for a while….in 2007 I think I moved home something like 5 or 6 times.

Well I’ve actually been in the same place for almost 2 years now.

I’ve been searching out my stuff that’s been put in all sorts of not very accessible places because there’s a chance I can use it again…(my blender….oh it makes my inner health scientist so happy!)

It’s funny that most of the things I miss is FOOD. We have a tiny kitchen here, and the cupboards are filled with my Mum’s stuff. And the freezer (also filled with my Mum’s stuff) is in the garage. So my herbs, tins, packets have well….yeah. They were banished to my bedroom for a long while until eventually I gave up and gave in to having the same few meals every. single. week.

I haven’t made my own soup, my own smoothie, my own sandwiches, stir fry or eaten homemade chicken salad since I came to Edinburgh 3 years ago.

I admit that when I went round supermarket today, and saw the mangos on offer, the reduced price passionfruit, fair trade bananas and thought back with a smile, and looked forward to a possibility of creating fresh fruit smoothies once again!!

Yes, I get excited by the smallest things.

In the meantime, my lovely friend Ruth helped me clean yesterday (ask Ruth about the vaccuum cleaner!). Today the washing machine is on it’s 3rd load. My suitcase is filling up with clothes, shoes, toiletries.

Tonight I plan to take over the my stuff, come back and stay overnight here so I’m closer to picking up the Payne family tomorrow (excited to be Emily’s first ‘tweet up’!)

Hopefully my bike is going to be following me soon too.

Can’t wait to be back in a routine – at least for a while.

Hoping this summer is going to be a good one.

I need a clone

It’s been a crazy week. But….big news….I’m writing this on a newly refurbished macbook!

It may take me a while to get back on top of things – especially as I’m supposed to have started moving to my temporary home today, but have been otherwise occupied with more important things. I’m now trying to move some of my files across from my broken iBook to this macbook.

But at least I’ve downloaded skype, firefox and got Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and the Home and Away website bookmarked ;)

The next 4 days are going to be a bit mental but hopefully very fun filled, and I also don’t know if I’ll have internet access in the place I’m living for the next couple of months.

In the meantime, I spending tonight sorting out clothes, chilling out, catching up with some American TV drama I’ve missed and getting my macbook set up for working on…oh, and eating yummy chinese food. :)

I also may soon have some news on this front…

Actually, it was news to me last night when I found out about it too…

But more on that later…

When guilt enters in…

So I started hunting for jobs. Wow. London has so many exciting jobs.

Have I applied to any of them?

No.

Why?

Because I feel guilty.

I’ve also written a letter asking if people would consider giving a small regular donation to our charity every month.

Have I sent it?

No.

Why?

Because I don’t want anyone to feel guilty if they can’t or don’t want to.

It’s Sadistics Time

The end of May is always when the Scottish abortion and breastfeeding statistics come out. In fact they came out today! For those curious you can find them here.

Well mark 2009 down as the first year in a long time where the rate of abortions in Scotland decreased from the previous year.

And when Grampian and Fife took over Lothian pushing us down to the Number 4 spot for highest abortion rate.

So all is good yes?

Well, partly good, partly not so great (in my opinion).

Why? On closer inspection, once again the rate of repeat terminations (ie the number of women who had a previous abortion) has increased again.

And in Lothian, overall the number of women who are having abortions has decreased, but the rate of pregnant women choosing abortion is still the second highest in Scotland.

I suspect this means that people are more educated about family planning (ie preventing an unplanned pregnancy in the first place). Which is good. But it makes me sad to think that maybe women are getting pregnant and feeling that abortion is the only option.

And it bugs me in the birth outcomes they do ‘live births’ and ‘abortions’ but they don’t count still births or miscarriages.

Anyway, it now means I’m sitting working on publicity (I’m lost in a world of Google advertising lingo) and collating the Scottish statistics for all the centre managers into a snapshot for them.

I’ll get my tea at some point. I think. :)

In the meantime I’m living on Tunnocks Teacakes.

Meeting Tom and uh…Tom

After a glorious weekend of gorgeous lovely finally WARM sunshine, where I worked, gardened, hung out with friends (and a new puppy) and cheered on a friend running her first half-marathon (for Maggie’s Cancer Centres).

Today it was back to reality (yep, our cold sunshine/rain is back) and I went to get a birthday present for a friend and priced up sat-navs. I’ve already been told by people in the know, that a TomTom is the way to go.

But today I went to Tesco. There are like so many different TomToms. I say different, but mostly the deal seems to be they have different prices. And apart from ‘some work in the EU’…there wasn’t any obvious differences. And like, surely there must be??

I left confuzzled.

I’m looking forward to the road trip though. Meeting Miss Flinderella, Emsy, Mark, Carolyn, Jeff & Christine!

Anyway, hopefully in a few days I’ll have  a fully working mac, will be able to read & comment on blogs again. Read my e-mails properly. Catch up with The Good Wife, Home and Away & Brothers and Sisters (very important stuff). Oh, and go to Central or Table Rock Fellowship. The new mac should be faster so it might mean it’ll cope with the Central Facebook Campus (my current mac can’t handle it too well). I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make the Leading and Loving It roundtables next month too.

In the mean time, I’ve got 2 (or 3?) chapters of Nehemiah to read & study.

And bags to pack (I have keys!)

And I should probably make something to eat for tea.

The wind is blowing, rain pounding on my window. It’s cold, and the skies are grey.

And I have no idea which TomTom I should be buying so the odds of me getting stranded/crashing my car while trying to read a map are much, much reduced.

My friends are the loveliest

No. Seriously.

They are.

And if you ever get the chance to get to know them you’d say the same.

I have friends who are helping me in my job hunt, helping me get a replacement mac, friends that are giving me their house (starting NEXT WEEKEND) for 2 months while they go serve the Church of Scotland in my favourite part of this beautiful country (the only downside is that I’m going to miss them while they are away!)

I also finally get to introduce to you (in blogosphere terms) one of my bestest friends from my Aberdeen days. Nicola once shared some of her writing with me, and she has a wonderful, creative gift that must be shared. Now, she’s got her own website, and we get to experience more of it. Yippee!

I’d love if you stopped by to say hi and welcome her to the blogging world at nicolahulks.co.uk

See ya on the flip side…?

Hi Everyone,

I’ve briefly un-privatised my blog for a wee while so I could let you know what’s been going on. The demise of the iBook brought up a lot of underlying stuff in my life. The simple fact is that there are certain materialistic stuff in my life that have a lot of sentimental value. Cassie the Corsa is right up there, along with my copy of my favourite book Tully. My first bible I bought hours before I became a Christian is there too. And my iBook – I sat for 2 days editing hundreds of photos from South Africa, I painfully transcribed many  hours of interviews and wrote my dissertation for my Honours Project on there. Not to mention the connections it has helped me make when I had no phone and was so far away from my lovely supportive ever-forgiving gracious accepting-of-my-insanity friends!

The bottom line has been….I need to knock on some doors.

I love, love, love the work I do.

But the simple (and annoying) fact is that I need an income I can live on. So I’m not living in an attic room, surrounded by piles and boxes, and using my bed as a desk, kitchen table, sofa and sleeping place!

So I am going to be on a job hunt. I’m broadening my search not just to part-time work in Edinburgh that would be compatible for work I’m already doing (something I’ve been on the look out for on and off for the last 2.5 years). I’m also going to be looking for full-time jobs in Edinburgh, Aberdeen or London.

While I’m applying for jobs I’ll be shutting down my blogs temporarily because I know that employers sometimes google potential employees. Well…discovering my blogs may not be the most helpful thing in the world.

I’m also going to be writing to people for sponsorship. Asking if they’d be willing to give small monthly donations to the charity I work for so I can continue to do work for them (and our national charity) on a full-time basis. Even if I do end up having to leave (which would never be a decision I would take lightly), this funding would help the person that hopefully would take over from me. I am replacable.

Oh, and on a completely different note, I had another encounter with that nurse yesterday. She had a bit of panic attack again. Which resulted in a bit of argument which started off with a slightly ticked off me, turning into a trying not to laugh me.

Why? Because we can now add ‘Well, you could be pregnant so I can’t give you this until we’ve found out for sure’ to the list along with ‘Oh, but you might get meningitis if a South African child with HIV coughs on you’ & I just need to check you’re not too overweight‘.

I keep forgetting that all 20-something girls are expected to be having sex constantly. I did eventually manage to convince her that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant, that I was fully aware of contraceptive methods on offer should I choose to engage in such relations, and that my current form of contraception is  called abstinence. I’ve found it pretty effective since I’ve been pregnancy free for 8 years now. Plus I teach Sex Ed, so I’m well aware of how babies are made.

Sarah was quite close to getting a phone call to bring a pregnancy test to the medical centre for me to do there and then just to get her to quit with her freak out/lecture on contraception.

It’s so much fun to be single, female, Christian, work in a pregnancy crisis centre & be a potential endo patient.

Not.

:)

On another note (if the guys aren’t totally screaming TMI!!!! AHHH! already) I found out yesterday that the cheapest thing you can get on private health care in our city is a Vasectomy. Did you know that it’s only like 25% of what it would cost for a female to be sterilised?

There’s a bargain to be had somewhere… ;)

Oh, and finally, you can catch some of my musical thoughts over on Andrew’s Blog. I’d forgotten in all the drama (and internet deprivation) that my guest post was going live on Sunday. Check it out here.

Another Challenge

It seems I’m in a pattern here.

I trust God.

And it seems to backfire.

I have faith in God.

And something throws it back in my face.

Days ago, we sat and prayed and talked about our charity. We just can’t go on the ways things are. A couple of weeks ago I bawled my eyes out because in all honesty I was at the point where I was ready to turn my back on God. I really had enough. I feel the last 3 years have been cruel.

I’ve sacrificed financial security, happiness, safety and gone back on my promises to myself.

On Tuesday we realised we need more sustainable funding. We wonder how we can create funds ourselves. We talked about me writing more amongst other things. We came away feeling so positive.

today my laptop packed in.

I have no money to get it fixed. No money to replace it.

My mac has been my saving grace. Enabling me to work (our computers in the office are awful, so I often do newsletters, posters etc on my mac). It has provided me with a connection to the outside world through twitter, skype, facebook, email. Our communications between each other with all the centres are all done via our charity’s webforum so I really can’t do work without a computer. Skype is important because my sister and I can’t afford to call each other most of the time. Blogging has been my refuge in what has been a difficult 3 years. It’s also helped me learn skills and given me the majority of pastoral and mentoring support in the last 6 months especially. Oh, and I admit that with a semiworking tv, it gives me my escape after emotionally draining days…thanks to 4onDemand and DemandFive I can watch my favourite shows even when the channels disappear of my telly!

It’s also got the book I’d started writing a year ago, inspired to begin again by my lovely online friend Tam.

I know this might be very very selfish. I mean, it’s just a computer right? All I need is food, water, clothing, shelter.

Maybe.

But to me, it’s a lifeline in terms of work and keeping me sane and connected with people. Because I can’t afford to travel and see them all the time!

So today, I’m very very disheartened, and discouraged. It seems that day by day I think more and more about what I believe in, what I signed up for, and whether I really want to keep following God. That’s a huge thing for me to say or admit, but I have to confess it’s true. But I feel like this struggling and feeling of being trapped has gone on for so long now, and nothing is changing for the better really.

I think what I get to do at work is great….only….I don’t get to do it as much as there are so many constraints. And soon I’ll be so loopy I won’t be able to do it all if something doesn’t give soon.

My wishes…

1. For a working laptop so I can work, commune and create. Oh, and escape into the American tV/australia tv drama world on occassion!

2. For a place to call my home where I can do what I love doing – sharing my home with others and have my haven to get ready for another day in ‘battle’.

3. To have the financial freedom to do more and give more. And see the people I love in person.

4. To have the financial freedom to use the gifts and skills I have. I’m pretty sure I still have some of them…?

I don’t know if there’s a way for those wishes to come true or if they ever will. But right now, I know the job made me ill, but oh how I wish I was back working in my old job with my regular wage, my financial independence, my flat that was like Piccadilly Circus, my lovely church family who held me accountable for my actions  and being discipled in my old church and getting to disciple others too. I miss leading worship, helping our new leaders lead worship and songwriting in our practice turned jam sessions on Thursday nights. I miss my music lessons too. I miss all of it. I knew I had a good thing going, but I realise now it was more than good…it was amazing.

Someone said to me ‘I can’t imagine being pregnant at 16. When I was 16 I was just a kid’

Well I don’t feel the same way. I feel more of a kid now at 26 than I ever did at 16.

I realise now that Jesus made my Aberdeen life so much better. But he ruined my Edinburgh life. 

And that’s why I worked to make Aberdeen my home.

Leith may be my hometown, but it’s not my home no more. Edinburgh isn’t my home – at least not now.

Memoirs of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

May 12th is ME/CFS awareness day. So lots of us are blogging about our experiences today.

ME is the better known initials for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, and is more commonly known as Post-Viral or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

I’ll be honest, I had my doubts that this disease even existed, until suddenly, at age 19 I realised I couldn’t push through it anymore. Why was I so tired? Why did I permanently feel like I was coming down with cold/flu? Why did I wake up unable to bend my joints because of the pain? Why the sudden weakness in my muscles?

I am not very good at dealing with illness. I have got better, mainly because I had to. It has been a difficult journey though with many contributing factors.

All that happened was that in April 2003, I got a cold. It lasted for a little bit longer than usual. But no big deal. It’s just a cold.

But as I’m trying to study I’m falling asleep on my books. I’m getting enough sleep but I’m still tired. And the morning I woke up not able to move I just burst into tears. I was freakin’ terrified.

I carried on anyway (no special treatment, remember?) and eventually I fainted from exhaustion after one of my exams. So I went to the doctor.

You have post-viral fatigue syndrome she said.

And so I had to learn to rest. I had to learn to let people help me. I had to cope with needles as they took blood test after blood test.

And then I had to realise that the church looks at people who have post-viral fatigue syndrome as unreliable.

So I made myself much worse trying to prove that I wasn’t. Finding it very difficult to cope with feeling better, thinking I was finally recovering, having several good days, maybe even a couple of weeks only to walk into a lecture sit down and realise I was so exhausted and aching that there was no point of me being there.

The scariest thing was how it began to affect my mental health. I began to have panic attacks – usually because I’d fall asleep, but wouldn’t be properly asleep. I’d have flashbacks or wake up with all my muscles feeling seized up and find it difficult to breathe. So I’d start to panic. Which of course made it even more difficult to breathe. I’d hyperventilate and start shaking. Which made me feel sick. Which freaked me out because I thought I’d be sick. So then I’d start blacking out.

And so a few times I had paramedics called out. I twice ended up in A&E because of that. I also ended up in A&E when I fainted in my car – I’d thankfully pulled over because I was feeling weird and shaky. The doctors thought I was pregnant but nope, my body had ‘a virus’ in it. I had no fever, no sniffles… I just slept for a week.

A strange blessing was that I’d put on 1/2 a stone during my second year at uni. Thank God. Because while I was ‘recovering’ and been told by the doctors suggested had a million and one other things (depression, stress, asthma, PMS, arthritis…) and I went back to uni to start a new degree I lost more than a stone.

Credit to my Edinburgh friends, they didn’t say a word about how scarily thin I looked until much, much later when I started to put it back on.

Things turned around when I finally lost the plot and went to a GP that had really helped one of my friends with an ongoing problem that kept taking him to A&E.

“How can I help you today?” said the kindly doctor

“You can start by reading my file from the last year…because I’m fed up” I replied in a semi-irate tone.

He first was shocked, told me to come off half the prescriptions as there was no need for them (I agreed and told him I already had long ago) and then said…it’s obvious that you just have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Sweet relief. I didn’t have asthma, arthritis or any of the rest of it at all.

And he gave me the advice I needed to cope and get better.

I went home to Edinburgh that summer, and ended up with a job working for a Christian-run respite centre for adults with learning disabilities. I became a valued part of a team there and we had each other’s backs.

I also went to try and give blood for the first time. Thank God I did. They weighed me, and I discovered just how much weight I’d lost – I only weighed about 7st 6lb (104 lb) and had a BMI of 17.8 (Normal range is 18.5-24.9).

So working in the respite centre I was using up a lot more calories, so I needed to eat almost constantly through the day to start putting the weight back on. By the end of the summer I managed to hover around 8 stone. Phew.

When I went back to university I began my Junior Honours year of my Health Science degree. I returned with a new work ethic.

I only worked Monday-Friday. I went to uni at 9.30, did my seminars in the morning, had lunch and then worked until no later than 5 p.m. Occasionally if I had a big essay due in I might work on a Saturday afternoon. I always got 8 hours sleep.

On Saturdays I didn’t set an alarm – I woke up when I woke up…this way I had the chance to catch up on sleep if I needed to. I would have a chilled morning eating breakfast sprawled out on the cushion pile watching One Tree Hill and The OC on Channel 4. I would do housework on that day, but that was my chill-out day.

On Sundays I was up to go to church – the girls who lived nearby would come round and then we’d walk or go in Cassie together. We would either stay in church for lunch or go out to a cafe/pub for lunch – all the young adults together en masse.

We stopped going to church every Sunday evening when we realised we were getting exhausted from our Sundays been so crammed full, that we’d wake up on Monday shattered and not in the best place for beginning our uni week.

I kept that system up all the way through to my final year – even during finals & my dissertation. I always had one rest day a week with NO uni work (often I had 2), and I didn’t pull a single all-nighter.

And I watched the quality of my uni work improve as a result.

My mantra was – there’s no point in getting a good degree if it comes at the cost of my health. I do my best, I live my life….and if that’s not good enough, I have to accept that.

I think the toughest part, bizarrely has been recovery.

I was better, I am better…but I’m still not totally free of CFS.

I know that if I have a night of disturbed sleep and don’t catch up on it, I’ll come down with a cold or something within days. It’s like my whole body shuts down and starts malfunctioning.

I know that when I’m around kids for prolonged periods of time (like in church and in schools) I very quickly pick up their germs…and the joints start aching, my throat is sore, and I’m falling asleep everywhere (on the bus, at work, at my friend’s house…). And if I do get ill, it takes me longer to shake it off.

It has been tough, and I’m still learning to find a balance with in that. Not to live life in fear of getting ill, not to have a victim mentality…not to let CFS define who I am or stop me being the woman that I was created to be. At the same time I know that prevention is better, and most people will tell you they’d rather make a few sacrifices to prevent getting ill in the first place because you regret it if you don’t.

It’s also important to have understanding, supportive people around you. I’m very lucky to have that especially at work, and amongst some of my close friends. I would have gone completely insane without them. They encourage me, reassure me, give me hope when I’m feeling hopeless…but most importantly they accept me exactly the way I am.

And it’s because of them, that I’m still here…keeping on keeping on, and getting better. :)

Sunshine on a rainy day

Today it wasn’t raining literally. It was just a bit of yeuccch day.

You know the ones I mean right? The day your alarm decides to malfunction so it flashes but doesn’t make a noise (I wondered how I felt so good after my 9 min ‘snooze’…turns out 9 mins was an hour). You don’t get time for shower or breakfast. The buses all drive past as you’re parking your car (seriously there IS a BK webcam that Lothian Buses have!!!). You go to Starbucks for breakfast and they don’t have any cinnamon swirls left. Your colleagues’ phone is going bananas because flights have been cancelled again. The centre office looks like a tornado ran through it, and you have a new pile of work to do….all the stuff that was put to one side to deal with the priorities. And you find out your bank balance is so low, you might not get paid at the end of the month.

Oh, poor Anna got pooped on by a bird on her way to the centre too.

Well….enter the sunshine.

Firstly in the form of two ladies (Fiona & Anna) who have just started volunteering with us. It helps that they bring Fiona’s baby son (he’s 8 months old). For the purposes of blogging we’ll call him Mr SmileyBurp. He smiled, laughed, blew snot bubbles through his nose (Mummy gave him her cold…boo!). Oh, and he burped. Together while Mr SmileyBurp was supposed to be napping in his buggy, we started chatting and then we got to praying.

See God gave us a vision, and he’s been speaking to us a lot lately. We’re pretty fed up with what we see, and we want not to whine and complain but do something about it. We reckon our God is pretty big, and He could can do pretty much anything.

So we did. And we decided we’re going to read and study the book of Nehemiah.

And then we might be inviting the leaders in our city to lunch.

I came home. And discovered that the nightmare is occurring. Poor Mr Brown resigned, though he’s probably never looked so happy (at least not that I’ve seen). he left No. 10. And then Mr Cameron (ugh….I’m sorry, I’m lacking grace) got announced as PM. Facebook and Twitter exploded. Out of all my 750 FB friends, only one cheer.

So…uh….Mr Aussie Dude? Now’s a REALLY good time to make an appearance. Beccause I’m looking to leave the country.

But then there was more sunshine….in the form of my favourite couple in the whole world. I can never post this video on my blog enough.

An e-mail with a video, made by the lovely Lori who had been visiting the Quilting Group at Central (they make quilts for cancer patients). And you know that Lenny & Rita are part of that group. So they videoed a message for me and Lori sent it via e-mail.

They didn’t have to do that, and it filled me with so much encouragement and hope. I love you guys!! It means everything to know that there are people praying for us, and yes I hope that God takes me on a puke-free flight from Edinburgh to Las Vegas so I can meet you guys in person.

I have so much love, and feel the encouragement from all these people. Some in person, some over the internet. Each is special, unique and I thank God for each one of them.

Oh yeah, and while I’m still in Edinburgh, we’re going to help rebuild this city…because it’s got a little a lot broken in places…