Quote of the Week – Week 35

Winston Churchill

Over the last few weeks, I’ve really struggled just to keep going every day. Dragging myself out of my bed, dragging myself out the door, making myself reply to the texts I’m alerted to by Phoebe Phone’s magical noise. I won’t lie – I’ve felt overwhelmed, and there have been a couple of days over the last month where I haven’t made it out of pyjamas until teatime.

There was a day a few weeks ago, where I sat at work, drained of everything and feeling like I was doing a crap job. And then last week, on my first day without my colleague, a client gave me a bouquet of sunflowers. I came home that day drained as well, I’d had to stay at work more than 2 hours later than I’d planned. I came home put the flowers in the only vase I own and set them on the coffeetable. And they’ve been a reminder – that I do have something to give.

Most of the stuff I love doing, is the stuff I do for ‘free’. Tonight I went to collect 3 suit holders filled with Guide uniforms from 1910-1990 and a bag filled with books, magazines and scrapbooks showing the history of Girlguiding in Edinburgh (and the UK). I got a train to Berwick yesterday so I could spend a evening with my godson and his little brother and their parents got to be ‘kid free’, and then spent an afternoon on a beach in the rain showers and wind for our monthly Soul Surfers gatherings.  In June I spent 4 days with our national team and touring them around Central/East Scotland. And in a few weeks I’ll be starting life as a university student once again.

I am richly blessed with so many amazing people in my life. So many incredible experiences.

And sometimes, it can feel like maybe it’s not worth the sacrifice. Or that my brokenness means I’m not capable of giving anything to anyone.

Until someone gives you sunflowers, and you realise that we’re all broken, and we all have something to give each other.

And we can earn all the money in the world, but you might have to sacrifice having a life in order to do that. And there’s no way I’m trading in the friendships I make through social media, the fun I have volunteering with Girlguiding or the stress of organising the Scottish conferences every year for becoming a millionnaire.

Quote of the Week – Week 32

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I feel like this quote speaks for itself. This week I tweeted that I was pleased to hear that the Co-op told Nuts magazine that if they didn’t start giving modesty covers or changed the covers of their magazine then they would not be selling them in their stores.

And then…. Oh. My. Word.

I couldn’t believe the abuse I  got.

But then, what I’ve experienced is nothing compared to some of the trolling I’ve seen. A guy started sending very offensive messages to Adam Hills and Samuel Johnson. Women campaigning to have inspiration British women  featured on Bank of England notes have been threatened with bombs and rape.

I hope I always stand up for what I believe in. I don’t mind so much people disagreeing with me – that’s their choice. But I ain’t gonna be no doormat. That attitude means I’m going to be criticised.

But I’d rather be criticised than be one of the people that sits and does nothing but slag off other people/complain/moan but takes no action towards doing something to seek an alternative solution.

Quote of the Week – Week 31

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One of my favourite things about the Edinburgh Fringe, is that anything goes. A lot of well known performers spent their student and amateur years at least once being in the Fringe. We’ve seen everything from plays performed in public toilets, Mark Watson’s 24 hour shows and guitar playing wizards.

Most of the things we take for granted in our lives, started with imagination. Someone having a vision, or thought or wondering of how to make something new or better. Whether it’s a man pondering how to solve the problems of city growth and overcrowding causing higher mortality rates to reimagine a new way of town planning, or a messy lab allowing a bacterial infection fighting drug to be discovered. Perhaps it’s thinking of fun stories which have an underlying message of educating people about the power of love to fight evil, or maybe it’s trying to find new ways to rehabiliated injured soldiers which grows into a movement that not only brings healing and rehabilitation, but educates a nation…and beyond.

The power of imagination is strong, and one of the best gifts we have been given. There are many problems in this world, and logic does have a place – but imagination is usually what takes us there.

Quote of the Week – Week 30

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Several years ago, I went on a training course to learn how to be a better trainer. One of the lessons that stayed with me that weekend was that there is a difference between teaching and learning.

All of us learn in a variety of ways, and all of us will have different approaches that will work better for us. For example, I’m very much a kinesthetic learner. I learn by doing. I have to do it over and over before I can achieve a skill, but once it’s in there – it’s stuck!

For example, some kids in my dance class were great at learning a dance routine on the spot. I had to practice it over and over. Break it down. Practice it. Break down the next part. Practice it. Put the two parts together. Practice it….and so on. The girls who learned the dance quickly would have forgotten it. Even more than 15 years on, I can still remember some of my exam and performance dance routines.

A lot of educators like to teach. Teaching is quite easy in a way. Pick your style, choose your material, share your information with the class and done!

It is a whole different thing to facilitate learning. Learning requires you to use a range of styles. It requires you to give space and time for people to process, and hand out a whole bunch of extra pointers for the people who speed through it. It means you have to let people make mistakes. You have to give people the opportunity to fail in order to let them succeed.

I often hear stories of people making choices to protect their children – from peer pressure, from drugs, from boys, from ideas. I understand why they do it. But I worry how their kids will grow to be successful adults who learn how to make good choices and how to apply them to their life. Teaching is not enough – we all need the opportunity to learn to make that link between teaching and application.

Imagine if someone had just taught me driving theory, and asked me to sit a test telling them how to switch a car on, list the stages of parallel parking and changing gears. For sure, maybe I could tell them all about the mechanical engineering of gear changing and clutches and get an ‘A’. But would that mean I could just jump in the car and be an excellent driver?

The same goes for life. I can know that I should wear a condom when having sex if I don’t want an STI. I can know that it’s not good for my health or safety if I get drunk. I can know that it’s not good to marry a guy who is dishonest or abusive. I can know that different clothing styles are more flattering for different body shapes.

But it’s practice that helps me navigate how to bring up the topic of birth control with a sexual partner. It’s when I got drunk that I had to learn the lessons that just having one drink is what works best for me. It’s being in a relationship with a guy and watching examples of healthy relationships that helps me learn the skills to love and communication. And it’s trying on clothes and looking in a mirror that helps me discover what works and what looks awful. Oh, and it was going out in a car and trying it myself gradually taking more risk that helped me to learn the skill of driving. I wouldn’t have learned if I’d been sitting in the passenger seat all those lessons!

It’s tough to allow people the opportunity to learn and not just try to control people. Especially sometimes, when we care about someone. We want to protect them from mistakes – so we can try make decisions for them or manipulate them to influence their decision.  Or we try and ‘fix it’ for them. But how will they ever learn if we don’t let them make the decision and face up to the consequences?

I’d argue that they won’t learn.

What lessons did you have to learn that people couldn’t just teach you?

Quote of the Week – Week 29

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There are 2 reasons for choosing this quote this week. Firstly, yesterday Madiba (or Nelson Mandela as he is known to most of the world) turned 95 years old. And also, because a young lady named Malala has been living out these words this week.

You might have heard of Malala Yousafzai.  I hope you have. She’s a teenage girl from Pakistan who was writing a diary for the BBC about life under Taliban regime, and was targeted by the Taliban because of her actions ‘against them’. You see, Malala believes girls have a right to an education and has spoken out against the actions of the Taliban. A militant boarded her school bus and shot her in the head.

She was eventually flown to the UK for specialist surgery, and has since been given a scholarship at a private school so she can continue her education here in the UK.

In this last week, she turned 16. While some girls might have had a big fancy party for their ‘sweet sixteen’, Malala spent her birthday giving a speak in New York City to the United Nations.

The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,“…”Let us pick up our books and pens, they are our most powerful weapons.

And it’s clear she is right, seen as her speech, and her diary on BBC Urdu has made the Taliban take notice. They got scared of one single teenage girl with a pen.

It’s funny. So much prejudice, so much injustice – stems from lack of understanding. Fear of the unknown. And much of the solution lies in education. It’s when we travel, when we read, when we listen, when we share…that we widen our perspectives and we learn.

Malala, you are an inspiration. Thank you for your courage that took pen to paper when you were even younger than you are now. Thank you for your perseverence in not giving up in the face of adversity. And thank you for teaching the world, that yes. Girls can make a difference. Young people can make a difference. Education can make a difference.

And it’s worth battling for.

Quote of the Week – Week 28

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I love giving gifts. I’ve decided that the favourite gift giving I’ve done this year, was getting tickets for me, my Mum, Vicky, Ruth and Miss S for the London Eye so we’d see the sunset over London. So much fun, and in a way quite selfish, because it seemed so romantic, and I loved having people to share that experience with.

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However, learning the art of gracious acceptance has been tough.

My learning really began 6 years ago, when I came to Edinburgh. When I arrived off that plane from Australia, I entered this city with no permanent job, no place to live. As the year went on, I was suddenly given a £800 council tax bill, £1,500 bathroom repair bill and went to the brink of my student overdraft. The next year Cassie the Corsa’s speedometer broke as well (along with a few other things…she was most certainly a ‘Friday afternoon car’). There was the time (or two) that I didn’t get paid from work on time because the charity had no funds to pay me. There was South Africa. There was the day my laptop screen stopped working and I was told it would be pointless to pay the £400 to fix it.

There was the silly humiliations of going to a church in an affluent area, and realising you couldn’t afford to socialise in the same way as they did. Sometimes they offered to pay for my meal so I could come have lunch with them, but I was often to full of pride to accept such an offer. ‘I’m nae a charity case’ ; ‘I’d just feel bad, because I’d never be able to return the favour‘; ‘I’m sorry I can’t accept it when I can’t pay you back‘ are the sort of responses I’d give.

Eventually it was two friends, who built up trust with me, that challenged me on my prideful ways. They often gave me random gifts, especially when I was living in a draughty flat and trying to pay off my debts (and fund a trip to South Africa) – a starbucks gift card so I could go get a caramel hot chocolate and read a book. A postcard. Home baking. But sometimes they gave me large gifts that I struggled with. A cheque to help cover car repairs. A new laptop.

I confessed to them my discomfort. They told me that I needed to learn to accept gifts, because to not, was to deny someone else the gift of giving.

Ouch.

And I knew what they meant, because I love giving gifts. For sure, I don’t earn much on British terms (shown by the fact I currently live in my mother & stepfather’s attic conversion, my phone is a pay-as-you-go ‘vintage’ nokia and no longer have a car), but I love to do it when I can. Whether it’s paying for the meal, or a cinema ticket. Sometimes it’s just being able to babysit or make a batch of cupcakes for people to enjoy. I get so much pleasure out of sharing things with people. It sounds cliche, but it’s true.

I would have been really hurt if my friends had refused to come on the London Eye with me just because I’d paid for the tickets!

I can’t say I’m all there yet, but I do know I”m better. After all, the laptop I’m currently typing this on, was an extremely generous gift from my friends. I totally dread the day this laptop dies, because this one (like the last one) has sentimental value to it.

Plus, none of my friends are my friends because of material wealth. They are my friends because  they are honest with me and allow me time in their company, experiencing things together. Sometimes that can be things that cost us money (like going to see Matilda) and sometimes that can be watching an NCIS finale together or sitting in the park for ‘free’!

So let us find the joy in giving, and work on graciously accepting so we can help others find the joy too. 

Quote of the Week – Week 27 goes BOUNCE!

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I remember when I got baptised, someone gave me a quote that was similar to this one. I won’t say I totally agree with Ida, because I think grief is ok and an important thing. However, the sentiment I think is true.

We can get ourselves stuck in who we once were, or who we might not end up being. So much so that we forget to live. We miss the blessings that ARE around us now. And importantly the blessing we can be.

You know, I got really down at the fact all my friends were running 10k races and marathons for charity. I’m just not sporty at all, I’m really unfit and years of dance training has taken it’s toll on my body. I have a dodgy knee, a squint back, mangled feet…

But I’ve always, always loved to jump, bounce, dance and have fun.

For years, I’ve wanted to get an adult sized spacehopper and do a spacehop for charity. Everyone I suggested this to looked at me and laughed thinking I was off my rocker. And then I noticed a bunch of high school kids had done a sponsored spacehop across the Forth Road Bridge for Love Oliver. Ok so they are teenagers, and I’m well…not. But if they could, I could do it, right?

This year, I finally found a friend mad enough to do it with me. And so I purchased us some spacehoppers, and once we got back from trips away, we took them out….

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…What was it I said about being able to do this? For sure, our practice session could have gone better. We were blistered, bruise and the next few days brought some pain as our bodies screamed at us. But I cannot say we haven’t had fun so far. And we brought a lot of amusement to the passers by on this fine Saturday afternoon down at Cramond Beach…

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…even dogs were coming to ask us what we were up to. And a lot of kids looked on curiously, pointing at us and questioning their parents and grandparents! If nothing else, we brought smiles to people’s faces. And that was before we were raising any money!

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Of course, we’re doing this to raise money for a charity that is near and dear to our hearts. Our target is raise £1000 of much needed money to keep this charity running and providing free and confidential support to people in our region. You can find our team fundraising page here.

And on Saturday 13th July you’ll find us bouncing past this gloomy fish.

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We reckon he’s just sad he can’t go boing like us.

What are you doing to live in the present and to make life worth remembering?

All photos taken by my very talented friend, © Chris Jackson. Just sayin’! ;)

Quote of the Week – Week 26

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A few years ago, my friend Rebecca did her first ‘blog party’, and I was honoured when she asked me contribute to it. The theme was ‘Careers Week’ and she got many of her blogging friends to share about their chosen careers and how they got into them.

10 11 years ago, my friend sent me a yearbook questionnaire, and one of the questions was ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’. My answer was ‘Probably in a school teaching geography wondering why I didn’t become a lawyer‘. When I wrote that response, I was in my first semester studying for an M.A. in Human Geography, but I thought I wanted was to be a lawyer. I’ll admit it was because I watched those who worked in law and was in awe of their fancy houses, wonderful holidays, the posh balls and charity events. The respect they seemed to get from people. Oh, and I totally had this fantasy of being Ally McBeal or Elle Woods, I think! I looked at how hard they worked and thought it would be worth it.

Let’s cue to a few months later when I studied 3 law courses at university.

I was bored out my head. I was great at the logical stuff like Contract Law, but crap at things like Delict. In fact I never did pass my exam in Delict though I was amused by one of the scenarios in the exam which involved ‘Zippy, Bungle and George’. Clearly a very bored law professor with a sense of humour wrote that one. My friends studying the law would conscientiously study away each week, and I tried, I really did, but I just didn’t care enough.

And I thought – is this really how I want to spend my life – even if at the end I have the resources to have a lot of fun?

I went back to focusing on Geography, and it is a subject I still enjoy and am passionate about. Of course, I found something I had huge amount of interest in and didn’t find it half as hard to make time to study, when I transferred to the College of Medicine. For sure it involved subjects I didn’t enjoy – Health Economics (shudder), statistics (which made me cry) and Sociology (thankfully I had the gift of the waffle) but even within these subjects I found a way to make it interesting as under a fantastic supervisor I began studying women’s health within these remits.

I realised that you could never guarantee you’d even make it to your destination. You never know what is going to happen, and so you’d better make sure you enjoy the journey.

And I did.

Mostly.

These days I’m challenging myself again. Partly with relooking at my bucket list and keeping a check on my attitude. The sacrifices that have come with the job I currently do sometimes feel like they aren’t worth it. There’s no point in giving something of myself if I’m not going to give it cheerfully.

If I die tomorrow, will my friends and family have the comfort of knowing that I had fun and gave everything to the 29 years I’ve been given? I hope so.

And I hope that will remain true no matter how many years I get to use here on earth.

 

Quote of the Week – Week 25

So, this week has been crazy.

I didn’t have time to write a reflection on QOTW.

Especially as I have 1hr 45 mins to shower, wash hair, shave my legs and pack my rucksack. oh, and go to the supermarket for batteries, snacks and baby wipes before I leave for Cornwall.

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That is the quote of the week… (the Gandhi one)

Discuss!

(and have a lovely weekend as I might not get access to internet until Monday night!)

Quote of the Week – Week 24

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There was an interesting question posed in last week’s HodgePodge.

Have you learned more from success or failure?

When I was a student, I started praying to God that he would help me become wiser. I often got told I ‘had a wise head on young shoulders’ but people who came into contact with me, but I’m not very good at believing people’s compliments. There were people I looked up to and respected who just seemed to ooze with wisdom, and I wanted to be like them. But I realised that wisdom is not something you can suddenly attain. It is something you need to actively seek and work on.

There is a book in the bible called the book of Proverbs which was (at least in part) written by a King who asked God to give him wisdom. I think it might be my favourite book in the bible as so much of it needs no interpretation (though cultural context must be remembered as some examples or references are quite bizarre to us 21st century city blossoms). I spent a whole summer studying the book every day underlining key verses and scribbling my thoughts on particular excerpts.

As I’ve grown older, I realised that much of my wisdom has come from experiences. I now realise looking back times when I lacked understanding or chose my words unwisely. It is facing the consequences (or seeing others face consequences) of foolishness that has given me wisdom.

For example, I now know that is unwise for me to have more than one drink of alcohol in an evening. It took me a lot of foolishness to realise that after 2 drinks I go away with the fairies. If I have one drink I can enjoy it and the rest of my evening without ended up crying in a bathroom or saying really stupid things to someone.

I know that I need to sleep. I’m useless without it. I’ve also learned that going to bed earlier when I’m not tired but have to get up earlier than usual does not work for me. That’s taken me about a decade to discover.

It also took me three years to learn that when I have a lot of work to do, the answer is not to continuously work until it’s all been completed. Actually if I don’t take one full day break from all of it, my work suffers. My relationships suffer because if anyone talks to me I’m so stressed out to the point of hysteria, tears and snapping people’s heads off. Funnily enough, taking a day off means that I calm down, rest, regroup and have a much better perspective going back into it.

I wish I could say that I just lived wisely (or that I do live wisely) without having a lot of (repeated) foolishness that led to the realisation that something doesn’t work so well. It’s amazing how you can kid yourself by saying ‘well maybe this time it’ll be ok’. 

The good thing is, if you’re willing to learn from your foolish experiences and apply that knowledge…you’ll gain wisdom!