Being present

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Yep, this blog has been quiet. Nope, I haven’t responded to comments on my previous post. And I haven’t really posted on instagram because I simply haven’t stopped to take the photos.

And I’m not sorry.

I’ve been enjoying the new found time I have currently, having not yet found paid employment, not having an essay to do or a class to go to. These last couple of weeks have found me doing something or meeting someone pretty much every day and I wonder how I ever managed to do life while working – never mind doing university and Girlguiding too! And it makes me wonder how present I’ve been to my friends and family as I’ve juggled a crazy diary over the last year.

The girls in Senior Section have heard about this basket, pictured above, which sits in the hallway outside my friends’ living room. It’s a basket for phones. They don’t make their friends put them in, it’s more of a hint of encouragement and something we’ve talked about a lot. For years I refused to get a smartphone. People were always very shocked I didn’t own one, given that I use social media a lot (I am one of those people that tweets about what she’s having for lunch) and that I do like ‘gadgets’. Part of the reason was that smartphones are expensive. My trusty Nokia was pretty much unbreakable, sent texts and made calls just fine. It was cheap to run, I never ran the risk of cranking up bills I couldn’t afford because I did ‘pay as you go’.

But there was another reason. I was getting increasingly fed up of making time in an already crazy schedule to meet with my friends and them spending most of the time checking facebook, texting other friends or family or looking up things online. I would sit at the table and think “Why did I bother coming out?

Last summer, I caved and I got my smartphone known as ‘Phoebe’. I didn’t have a car anymore so wasn’t so concerned having a contract phone, plus my camera wasn’t working properly anymore and it was a great way of keeping in touch with family abroad thanks to FaceTime and What’s App. But I quickly realised that I was becoming the person that irritated me. It was way too easy to constantly check my phone.

My first step was to make sure that I didn’t get ‘alerts’ to everything. For a few weeks I had a beep to e-mails coming through, and I felt my blood pressure rising and my commutes becoming interrupted by beeps and dings. Two e-mail accounts, What’s App, Facebook messenger, Twitter, Texts, Calls.

It was ridiculous.

Now it’s just texts and what’s app that make a noise on my phone. I’ll check my e-mails when I have the headspace to process them properly.

There’s also just that whole thing of putting your phone away. Over the last two days I have met up with old friends I haven’t seen in months and not a single picture for twitter/instagram/facebook was taken. I just wanted to enjoy being in their company and it was actually a wonderful thing that for the most part none of my friends had their phones in their hands either. Yep, there are times we all get our phones out to capture a moment, and I don’t mind that, but I also like it when phones stay in pockets or bags. There’s something of value when you are fully present in communicating with the people in front of you and not making them feel like you’d rather be anywhere else but here with them.

I do like having Phoebe – it’s been fun to capture moments by snapping a photo so your friends can see something rather than you trying to describe it. I love the memories it stores for me. I have fun making a reflective ‘flipagram’ at the end of every month. And it’s been helpful to search for directions or that thing you can’t quite remember !

But I would urge us all (myself included) to create etiquette for this 21st century phenomenon so that the thing that was invented to aid communication between humans doesn’t end up doing the opposite – becoming a hindrance to our ability to communicate.

A Letter to the USA on Women’s Healthcare provision…

Dear USA,

I can’t help but notice the chat from some bloggers like Rachel and Matt who live in your country about this news story, and I wanted to write to you about it.  I’m not American. But I am a woman. I believe in God. I try to follow the teachings of Jesus and have done since I was 18 years old. Not that it should require me to be a Christian for my viewpoint to matter.

I also have a degree in Health Sciences where I specialised my research and reading into women’s health at one of the universities that has been at the forefront of abortion and maternity care research. Since 2006 I have trained and used counselling skills to support women and men faced with unwanted pregnancies and since 2008, supported women who have struggled to come to terms with terminating pregnancies and with loss through miscarriage. I’ve also spent a great deal of my years as a youth worker talking to teenagers about sexual health and relationships.

So I feel that when it comes to commenting on a debate about whether or not employer’s should have a say in what insurance companies provide for their employees in terms of contraceptive drugs…I have something to contribute.

Your health insurance system.

USA your healthcare system sickens me, because you have made healthcare a business. I was shocked to hear that someone I know got charged $50 for eyedrops to cure her conjunctivitis (not to mention extra just for the visit to a doctor to give her the prescription). I’ve had conjunctivitis as an adult, and have gone to the pharmacy to have my eye diagnosed and given eyedrops. It cost me less than £8 and it was totally outside the NHS.

The fact is the numbers you are giving for what these things cost are not so much about what they cost but what your health care providers and pharmaceutical companies decide to charge – so they can make a profit.

Personally, I don’t think it’s right that employers EVER have a say about what we spend our wages on. And definitely not what health insurance can provide.

Your over-medicalisation of pregnancy and childbirth and the insane costs you have for antenatal care prevent many women from having care they need and is what makes you have the worst maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates in the Western World. The fact is that the decision you allowed to be made this week will probably mean that for many women abortion may be the only viable option available to them. That’s not pro-life or pro-choice. It’s you asserting your power in an oppressive way by creating a situation of increased vulnerability.

Hobby Lobby hypocrisy

I think Hobby Lobby needs to take a good long look at the ethics of their company. They say they’re ‘Christians’. Well, look at the bible, look at what Jesus said and taught. Where are they investing their money? It seems to me like they have one set of standards to suit themselves (and make profits) and another for when it comes to looking after their employees.

Afforable healthcare is needed. I wish you had something like the NHS in your country USA, but you don’t. It’s time to look at what’s important, what is ethical and separate the church from the state.

Why women have abortions

The majority of women I’ve met who have terminated a pregnancy have done so because they have realised that the father is a total arsehole and they do not wish to be tied trying to parent with them for the rest of their lives and/or due to finances. Childcare costs alone are insane. One of my friends only made £50 per month working full-time after she’d paid for child care costs for just one child.

Not to mention the fear that they won’t get support from their employers or universities, or the judgment they will face from others. Some have abortions for medical reasons. I’ve met women who have children already and have faced the choice of terminating an early pregnancy so they can have treatment for cancer or continue with the pregnancy, have pregnancy hormones help growth of tumours so cancer becomes terminal and leave all their children without a mother. I’ve also met women for whom continuing with pregnancy would mean facing possibility of permanent paralysis. I’ve met women who have mental illnesses where staying pregnant means coming off medication which they are being treated with.

Contraceptive drugs are not just used for contraception.

Just the same as some drugs mainly known for treating cancers can be used for a variety of other things, contraceptive drugs aren’t just used for contraception. Not that it is anyone’s business but I am not sexually active and have not been since I was a teenager. I don’t plan on ever becoming sexually active unless I get married. That’s my personal choice. However, I have been on many contraceptive drugs since I was 15 years old. Why? Because unfortunately for me having a menstrual cycle has made me very ill to the point where I would be throwing up, fainting or screaming in pain which my doctor suspects is due to a disease called Endometriosis. I went through a time as a teenager where I was getting anaemic because my menstrual cycle was only 3 weeks long so I was bleeding about 14-20 days of the month. They put me on the combined contraceptive pill to try and put me on a normal cycle. Sadly for me this triggered migraines so I had to stop taking the pill. The contraceptive pill is something many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome will be given to try and get them into a normal cycle (although in their case it is usually because they aren’t having periods for months on end). I went on painkillers, I went on drugs which tried to prevent heavy bleeding. I often had side effects from these drugs, and in the end they didn’t help me. To be able to do anything I would have to take paracetamol and aspirin (the only painkillers I didn’t get side effects from) all the time and wear heat patches under my clothes. A few times I took a progesterone only pill called Norethisterone to delay my menstrual cycle (or attempt to) so I could sing and dance at events and productions or even go on holiday. But the hormones turned me into a bit of a crazy person that couldn’t hold things without dropping them and cried at well…everything. Eventually the only choice I had before trying surgery was to go on a contraceptive drug called Depo Provera. It gets injected into my hip/buttock every 12 weeks by a nurse. This stops me having a menstrual cycle at all. It has come with the consequence of weight gain but it has meant that for the last 5 years I’ve been able to go to work, lead worship at youth events without covering my back and abdomen in sticky patches and not end up in A&E because I’ve been found passed out from pain by someone who didn’t know that this was ‘normal’. It’s also been a long time since I had concussion from cracking my head off a bathroom sink or wall while simultaneously wretching and passing out from pain. Over five years in fact.

I also have other female friends who went on contraceptive drugs to help with acne too. And no, it didn’t make them jump into bed with the first teenage boy they saw at a party because the treatment they were using was also a contraceptive.

It makes me fearful USA that one day God might lead me to live in your country. The idea that perhaps my employer might prevent me from getting medical treatment because it is marketed as a contraceptive drug terrifies me. Plus the idea that if I get cancer I would have the financial stress of medical costs not covered by insurance. Or that if by some miracle I did get pregnant you wouldn’t allow me to give birth naturally or trying to add extra 3-D ultrasound scans to my ‘bill’ for doing my bit to keep the human race going.

Please, please USA do your research before you label, make generalisations and decisions that could stop your female employees from getting treatment they need or making  a choice about their health so they don’t end up in a situation where they need to consider a termination. Ask before you judge. And don’t assume that just because you’re lucky enough to have a family that would help you care for all the children that end up in YOUR uterus, every other women is just as lucky. Or that they have the extra money for your insane costs for healthcare. Or paying for their future children’s college education.

Sincerely,

Laura Anne

Making lemonade out of life’s lemons…

On Monday night I went home from work for the last time, and the next morning I woke up in a new world as an unemployed person.

I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever been totally unemployed before, and the truth is, apart from a few months here and there while studying full-time I haven’t been.

I was really grumpy last week, realising that after turning down the opportunity to be a leader at a Surf Camp due to already having used a good chunk of my annual leave to do Erasmus earlier this year in Würzburg – I could have done it after all. I had enough time off in lieu and annual leave hours leftover to finish my job a day early.

I’ve applied to several jobs – all of which I am capable of and would even excel at. Jobs I have the qualifications and experience for. I haven’t got so much as an interview for any of them.

It’s a hugely humbling experience, because never have I not got an interview for jobs I’ve been qualified for. I knew it wasn’t going to be a case of walking straight into another job – but I honestly expected to at least have been invited for a few interviews.

The idea that my job hunt could go on for a really long time, that I can’t go on ‘the dole’ due to my student status is very daunting. My student status also means that I can’t look geographically further than the central belt in my search too. I desperately want to get my postgraduate qualification, and wish so badly that I was graduating this year instead of 2015.

I was ready for some serious wallowing, but lucky for me I’ve got some incredible friends. My friend Kathy is one of those who knows me really well, and she made sure that I had something to occupy me on my first day of unemployment. I’m most productive when I’m busy, and when I have nothing to aim for I struggle. As I’ve mentioned previously a lot of things ended at once. Being the end of term, I was also finishing up Girlguiding and Spanish classes last week so I went from being insanely busy without any free weekday evenings to having a totally empty calendar in the space of a weekend! We planned to use our Zoo membership and were gifted with a gorgeous sunshiney day.

And then my friend Nicola called, and spoke the words of wisdom that I needed reminding of. Rather than be upset about how my plans hadn’t worked out, and worrying about the future, I needed to look for the opportunities in my present.

It turned out one presented itself, as my friends leading Surf Camp wanted to give a commentary with photos of how it was going – only there was no internet connection available at the outdoor centre. By being at home in Edinburgh and having my smartphone and iPad I was able to do this for them running the social media page with their updates sent to me via text messaging. And so while visiting the zoo, and sitting on buses and during lunchtime on my last day at work and even wandering the Scottish National Portrait Gallery with another friend – I was busy with my social media coordinator hat on for Soul Surfers.

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I’m now pretty sure that August or September will be the earliest I have paid employment again…and so I have this summer, and want to consider how I should use it. Already I’ve been able to catch up with friends that have been neglected by my busy schedule and lack of car. I definitely want to continuing doing that while I still can – I know that once university gets going again there’ll be little time for socialising. There are things to investigate and things I want to reflect on, research and write about. I feel it would be unwise to rush into another phase of life for the sake of just doing something as opposed to waiting for the right thing.

Though I won’t lie, I am fearful of running out of money before the right job is offered to me.

I have been taking encouragement from the words of wise women, and actually had found this speech from Julianna Margulies probably only days before I found out the charity I was working for was going to be shut down. That phrase ‘I realise my mission in life was to learn more not earn more‘ has run round and round my brain for weeks now. The knowledge that some of the most fulfilling times this year have been the moments I’ve been learning…through Girlguiding, taking Spanish classes and going Germany (I genuinely feel I learned more through those 2 weeks and doing my research prep beforehand than I did the rest of my year at Glasgow). I just pray that it will be used and it all does have a purpose…

I’ll leave you just now with the speech from Julianna that she gave to the graduating students at Sarah Lawrence (which sounds like an amazing school with an ethos I could get behind!)

 

The Last Day

Tomorrow is my final day at work.

I feel a little sick just typing that sentence.

It has been a rollercoaster journey, long winding road of ups and downs, twists and turns. No one ever expected our centre to be shut down, as it’s been a sort of flagship for others around the UK.

It would be easy to be bitter about how things have turned out, but instead I want to choose to  be grateful for everything that is good. I’ve met and worked with some amazing people. I’ve got to try out my skills at events planning and am quite proud of the network that my colleague in Dundee and I built up around Scotland and the conferences we ran each year with minimal resources. At least 700 women have been helped while I’ve been volunteering then working then managing that place.

I’ve learned a lot about counselling, a great deal about compassion and boundaries, a great deal about other spiritual beliefs, politics (ugh), grief and faced the challenges of coordinating a team of voluntary staff which is very different to how I coordinated a team of paid staff when I was a Community Learning Worker.

It has taken me to some interesting places too. I never would have dreamt that I’d have been speaking at conferences or youth events. But I did.

I’ve had to have a good team of support around me as I faced attack from both the Christian world and the secular world. Oh the stories I could tell of rudeness, naivete and just well…pigheadedness…

I’m so grateful to the friends that stuck by me through everything. I think what I’ve learned most is that you can’t rely on a church to support you or encourage you. I wish it had not taken me so long to stop trying to change this, and just let the people who were passionate and saw the value in our work be enough for me. I would have saved myself a lot of hurt and heartache.

And lastly, I’m grateful that my values and beliefs have evolved and been constantly challenged, reflected on and adapted as I’ve questioned, listened and learned.

Tuesday begins a new era of life and I have no clue what that is going to look like.

I just hope that I’m ready for it. :)

What does it mean to be a woman?

I’ve been shocked over the last few months to hear some opinions shared on whether females can be in leadership in the church. I wanted to rip my hair out of frustration and sadness when a girl posted on a friend’s facebook page that women couldn’t lead the church because they are too emotional.

Why the desire to vent when I read her words…?

For two reasons. Firstly, because it insinuates that me – the woman who rarely cries, has never cried while watching a film, hasn’t cried at any funerals (usually I’m the strong person staying calm for everyone else and have my moment of tears at a later point when everyone else is done with that stage of grief) – is not really feminine. And that some of my male friends who have found themselves unable to get through a reading or a eulogy without breaking down in tears are not really masculine. Secondly, because of the assumption that being male or female automatically signs you up to a whole bunch of personality traits.

Sadly though, both inside and outside the church these assumptions, stereotypes and insinuations are made.

ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME.

Feminism is not just for girls. It’s for boys too. And we need to have a really good think about the lessons we are inadvertently teaching the next generations by how we interact, the things we say and don’t say.

Thoughts on how we do this?

Stories of your own experiences of gender inequality?

Leave a comment below because is what blog friends do… :)

Beachy HodgePodge


1. What summer activity most takes you back to your own childhood?

Probably being on the beach.

2. What’s your favorite summer smell?

Suntan lotion. Especially when it smells a little coconutty. My Mum would use this Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil when we were on holiday, and it just makes me think of summer. I also love the smell of campfires and barbecues (charcoal ones ;) )

3. It’s beach season in the US of A…so how do you feel about sand?

I love sand. The key is to wear flip flops. Wearing shoes and socks on sandy beaches is just not a good plan as you’ll have grainy feet for weeks afterwards. I love to cartwheel and build sandcastles – though these days I let my friends’ kids build the castles and I just sit there making suggestions to them and admire them. Or fix them when someone else (or a dog) squashes/knocks it over to stop any tears of distress falling.

4. Sun tea, SunChips, sunflower seeds, Capri Sun, Sunny Delight, Sun-Maid raisins, sun-dried tomatoes…your favorite food or beverage with sun in its name?

Let’s go with sunflower seeds and sun-dried tomatoes! I’m not a raisin fan, and the rest sound kinda processed. Like Sunny delight (boak! So glad that isn’t available in the UK anymore…I think that had like oil in it?)

5. What’s your favorite way to cool off on a hot summer day?

To be under a shady umbrella or tree with a book and some iced drink. Or to paddle in the sea.

6. Share a favorite song with the word sun or sunshine in it’s title.

I’m walking on sunshine?

7. Tell us about a time you had an exceedingly good or truly awful customer service experience. If it was awful, did you report it? Ever go back there again?

Last week was filled with bad customer service. If I can find a bank for our Girlguiding unit where I don’t have to deal with the treasurers department then I will! Though the branch staff gave excellent customer service. Sainsburys Active Kids helpline had polite staff but shocking customer service. If these experiences had been seeking services for JUST me then I would not be going back. But because they were for groups I volunteer with, it makes it tougher because there isn’t an alternative.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

3 more working days to go ….and then…. unemployment.

I have NO idea what I’m going to do with all this free time I’m suddenly going to have! It’s quite disconcerting.

But before that our final campfire of the school year. Have my fellow leaders making their Guide Promise tonight, and one of our Ranger Guides making her promise too. Very excited. Please pray that the clouds and rain will stay away from Edinburgh tonight!

From being too busy to a totally empty diary…

A few months ago, I sent this picture to my friend when I realised that I couldn’t squeeze in a coffee and baby cuddle date with her before I went to Germany to do an Erasmus programme at the University of Würzburg. At that point life had got so ridiculously busy that I was ready to just skip the Germany trip altogether because I felt like I was missing out. I didn’t even look forward to it as the reality of classes, work, Girlguiding and long cold winter days hit and there I was throwing in extra stuff into the mix. IMG_2012

 

I think my quoting line was ‘Who needs to go to Germany anyway?’. Of course, had I not, I really would have missed out on a great learning experience both in terms of researching and understanding more about the politics of Lifelong learning, making new friendships, discovering the Children’s Literature course at Glasgow and getting to travel in Bavaria. Oh. And käsespätzle. My roommate and I really loved the käsespätzle. And strawberry yoghurt milka chocolate. I came home with every last oodle of space in my rucksack taken up by German chocolate. Which I shared with my friends when I got home.

When I came back my work was in crisis. I had my final presentation and assignment to do for my Educational theories course. My friends insisted that in spite of all stress and busyness that I had to have a party on my 30th birthday. Preferably with a bouncy castle.

It’s my final week in my job this week. I’ve been applying for new jobs, but still haven’t had so much as an interview. Next Tuesday I will be officially unemployed. It’s a little daunting now. I’ve never been unemployed before – even during the majority of my undergraduate studies I had a paid work at the same time. Pretty much every job I applied for, I got.

This week I have Girlguiding, Spanish class and my job.

Next week all three of those things won’t be there.

I have no idea what I’ll do with all that free time because I’m so used to being busy. I mean looking for jobs is an obvious one. And I will probably  read the massive pile of books that I’ve been working through any spare moment at home since I handed in my final assignment for the year. I will write. I will investigate opportunities for Girlguiding next year.

But usually I’m trying to squeeze it in. What happens when you’re not running in the door to run back out again with different bags of stuff 15 minutes later?

I guess I’m about to find out.

But I don’t really want to. I love working. :)

Why complaining has me exhausted…

Oh. my. word.

What a battle this week has been.

Last weekend really and totally sucked. I had to switch my Monday shift at work to a Tuesday one so I would be there to explain to client about the closure of the charity and what that meant.

After the weekend I just wanted to be back at work. It was lonely and horrible.

Monday I met up with my sister who was in town. In the evening I went to the Guides campfire. I came home to an e-mail from Girlguiding HQ that made me very angry as they’d changed the Young Leadership Qualification syllabus with no warning. 10 days after I’d given out the girls packs of the now ‘old’ syllabus. Because they hadn’t yet started, they have to use the new ones. A lot of time wasted as we heave a big sigh and start from scratch the work of printing out workbooks, speaking to leaders and commissioners…

To wake up on Tuesday discover mail at the front door regarding our Senior Section bank account. In September we’d sent off forms to add the other leader as a signatory. I feel comfortable enough sharing this photo as basically NONE of the information on it is correct. They have me married, they have the incorrect name, they have me living in a church hall in another part of Edinburgh (which has no connection to our unit whatsoever!) and they actually spelled the wrong address incorrectly. And apparently it took eight months for them to work out their mistake and send it to my correct address.

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I was later into work than I intended as I went into the nearest branch of the Bank of Scotland to make a complaint and try and get to the bottom of the mystery. The staff there was just as confused and ticked off as I was (and I got compliments for being very pleasant while making my complaints!)

The complaint making continued once I got to work as I made yet another call to our local Council. You see, the Scottish Government introduced a new law at the beginning of this year making it illegal for businesses to put anything recyclable into a general waste wheelie bin, or to dispose of recycling in domestic recycling bins. I’m sure environmentalists out there think ‘Hurrah! Great!’.

But there are a few problems. Firstly how crippling it is for small businesses to pay extra for all the different recycling bins and collections you now need. Secondly there was no exemptions or discounts for charities. We are classed as businesses. The government spent more money on fun ‘projects’ to teach about recycling rather than sending leaflets and information to businesses so they’d know this new law was coming and how it would affect them. And the local councils weren’t prepared for the sudden increase in workload.

Cue us spending 6 months with an ever growing pile of recycling in our office as we continually call our Council to speak to a Trade Waste officer to get a recycling contract. I’ve made complaints to local councillors, complaints to the Council, complaints to the Environmental Wardens…

Wednesday. I’m exhausted and I smell of campfire from a Soul Surfers marshmallow toasting session. I’m also slightly hacked off that out of a group of 9 students only two bother to turn up to a visit they requested. Kudos to the two who bothered to call to let me know they couldn’t come and apologised. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that, and wish the others had too. I head home from work and realise I’ve misplaced the church hall keys. I find them in a handbag. And I have to explain to the girls that the YLQ packs I gave them two weeks before are now out of date and I need to get them new ones.

Thursday and it’s another rubbishy day at work. At the moment there is such a state of flux and everything ‘dying’ that  it’s just not a great place to be. It’s also awful as we have to face the anger people express when we hear we are shutting down. Part of me is with them. The other part of me wonders where the heck they’ve all been the last seven years when we needed their support. Either way I get a grumpy feeling. I make it to Spanish class though, and get cheered up by a gorgeous view of the city in the evening light.

Friday and Jo comes round to help me count the Active Kids vouchers. I go onto the website to ‘bank’ them so we can then do our order. The website comes up with this message:

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Frustrating, but I figure I’ll just try again in 10 minutes or an hour. When I do, it informs me that I can’t bank any vouchers this year because my order is now in process. EVEN THOUGH I HAVEN’T ORDERED ANYTHING. I call their expensive “helpline” and speak to a friendly dude who basically tells me ‘Sorry, the website sucks and we can’t do anything to fix the problem. You’ll need to print off everything and do it by hand with the pack I got sent.” When I explain my pack has never arrived he says “oh well, sorry. Must have got lost in the post.” Yep. I wasn’t chuffed. I’m trying to imagine why a company would even bother having a helpline if it isn’t even going to attempt to fix problems that are not the fault of the customers?! I send tweets to Sainsbury’s and a strongly worded (but polite) e-mail.

Mostly, I don’t want to tell Guides I couldn’t get the stuff we’ve all been collecting vouchers for when I go back after the summer.

By this point I’m ready to lose it, and decide for my own sanity, it’s either buy a printer to use for Girlguiding or quit being a Girlguiding leader. So I go to buy a printer. Later that night I take it out and set it up try to print the end of term Guide letters……and it won’t print in black.

I really do lose it at this point.

Realising that throwing myself out a window is probably not a particularly productive option I resist the temptation to take that route and instead take to facebook and twitter to let out yet another rant. Because I realise that I’m going to have to phone another company and make another complaint. I’m also worried that it’s the printer that is faulty because did I mention the struggle I had carrying it up a hill in the warm sunshine while my flip flops cut up my foot with every step?

(It was the cartridge…and no I’ve not had the chance to go return it yet).

So yes. It’s been a battle this week. I don’t think I’ve had to make so many complaints in my life, and it is EXHAUSTING. The thing that has kept me going is remembering why I volunteer with Girlguiding. Why I go to work each day.

Thankfully, I’ve had a great day at a Girlguiding workshop helping to give feedback on developing new web platform for Girlguiding UK and went to the Zoo on my way home as it wasn’t raining (and days where it doesn’t rain in Scotland have to be utilised and appreciated wherever possible).

Rest tomorrow me thinks!

Summertime HodgePodge

 

1. Since you weren’t Hodgepodging last Wednesday, how did you pass the time?

I was at work, then had a meeting with the one of the Girlguiding District Commissioners to get my leadership qualification book signed off and then I helped her run a Guide meeting as one of the volunteers had bailed on her at the last minute. (For context Girl Scouts is the American equivalent of Girlguiding).

2. What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say marriage? Yes, one word. 

Sacrifice.

3. Summer officially arrives in the Northern hemishpere later this week. Does it feel like summer where you live? Describe your idea of the perfect summer day.

Bizarrely – YES! Although the haar (that’s a misty fog that is unique to Edinburgh living) has moved in this morning. We had some gorgeous weather the last two days, and enjoyed having our Tuesday night food & bible study with Soul Surfers in our friends’ back garden toasting marshmallows I had leftoever from the Guides Campfire on Monday night.

Perfect summer days are ones spent at the beach with my friends, paddling on surfboards, cartwheeling on the sand and drying in the sunshine while my friends’ kids build some sandcastles.

4. “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”(Sam Keen) Is laziness ever respectable? Do you have a lazy summer planned, or something semi-ambitious?

Rest is not laziness if you’re not doing it all the time. Rest is needed, and summer is a lovely time to take a breath, rest, recuperate and so on. 

This summer is weird as a few weeks ago I was made redundant, so come July 1st I will not only be finished with Girlguiding and my Spanish classes for the summer, I’ll also no longer be working. I have plans to go see the gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games and check out some Book Festival events – and of course look for a job!

If I have a job by the Autumn (I hope I will) then it’s going to be a crazy year ahead with changes to my schedule I think if I end up auditing some classes on top of my own at university.

5. Past or present, who’s your favorite television dad? Why is he a favorite? Is he anything like your own dad?

My favourite TV Dad. Hmmm. I’m going to have to go with (and please don’t judge me I was 20 when I watched this show) but Sandy Cohen from The O.C. I loved how he parented his kid not in accordance with the other parents who threw money at their kids in Newport Beach. I loved how he championed his kids to do the best with the gifts and talents they had and accepted his kids for who they are. I liked how he gave them freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, but would also reel them in when need be. And I liked how he brought Ryan into the family and treated him the same as a biological son.

6. June 18th is International Picnic Day…share a favorite picnic memory.

Some time in the early to mid 90s and we were on one of the trips we took with my Mum’s friends to visit their friend in Liverpool. We went on a day trip to Llandudno in North Wales in February. It was freezing, and I remember us all parked on a cliff huddled in the car eating our picnic, my Mum’s friend suddenly realised she’d made a flask of tea but failed to put the teabags in and at that point we saw two seagulls flying backwards because it was so windy they couldn’t fly forwards.

7. The travel site Trip Advisor lists the top five islands in the world for 2014 as-Ambergris Caye in Belize CayesProvidenciales in Turks and CaicosBora Bora in French PolynesiaMarco Island Florida, and Lewis and Harris in The Outer Hebrides (Scotland). Have you been to any of these? Of those listed (and if price were not a factor) which would you most like to book for a holiday?

Shockingly, no. I say shockingly because my family originate from Lewis and I’m the first generation not to grow up speaking Gaidhlig. I’ve seen pictures of some of the beaches in Lewis and Harris and they are stunning. However, do aim to go in summer – I wouldn’t recommend a Western Isles winter!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My kiwi friend and I were having a giggle on twitter about last HodgePodge’s question on the Barbecuing and my shock that anyone would have a gas grill and then the realisation that apparently outside the UK this is very common! It just isn’t common at all here. It’s discovering quirky differences in culture you don’t even realise are there that makes me  like the HodgePodge!

The story of Gromit begins…

The weekend after I found out I was going to be made redundant, I had a whole heap of social activities planned and most of them got cancelled. It sucked. I went into ‘wallow mode’ and my friend Fi in Barcelona made an emergency skype call to me and ordered me to get out the house pronto. I agreed to take a walk to the local mini supermarket shop to get some raspberries for my breakfast the following day. But on the way back I passed a charity shop and saw this guy in the window looking kinda lonely…20140608-230743-83263663.jpg

I went in and spent the remaining coins in my wallet and went home planning to post him to my friend Ruth who is a fellow Wallace and Gromit fan. But I decided that I would take him to the beach with some of our mutual friends and take some pictures of Gromit to send with him to Ruth for the giggles. If you know Ruth and I you’ll know that such silliness is actively encouraged amongst the two of us.

However…Gromit got dognapped.

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He got dognapped by Mini Kahuna who ‘wanted to see him’ and then hugged him fiercely. And Miss Sweetroot asked if they could borrow him because he had to stay until SUrf Camp. I can’t think where they learned such skills, because you know I’ve never been round at their house and employed similar tactics with any of their awesome cuddly toys. Ahem.

I actually thought the idea was kinda cool, and knew that Gromit would be well looked after. They tried to give him back to me a couple of days later (I think due to parental pressure…) but I said if Gromit came home with me he’d probably not have as much fun learning about redundancy as he would with Mini K and Miss S!

I was totally right…now the plan is that Gromit will not be going to the SUrf Camp but he will go to the Christian Surfers Gathering in Polzeath, Cornwall next month. I can’t go, so Gromit being able to go is making it better, plus he’ll hopefully get to be dropped off with Ruth after the gathering as the head of CS Europe goes to Ruth’s church.

A few days later I woke up to a string of texts on my phone – each one a photo with what Gromit had been getting up to…

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As you can see he’s been to the dentist, celebrated Granny’s birthday by helping eat some cake, gone singing in the rain and even went to Brownies to watch some new Brownies make their promise! Gromit didn’t come to Colour Me Rad with us, but that’s probably just as well as I’m not sure he would have appreciated the colour bombs as much as we did. ;)