Making it Count

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Yep, summer is still here. And I’m absorbing all I can.

More friends are turning 29, and it’s bringing that all important 3-0 closer, there are so many things that once you pass 30, you don’t get the opportunity for. Like a working holiday visa in Australia, for example.

I don’t know why, but each day I’m reminded how I could be dead tomorrow. And it makes me want to have as much fun and enjoy life. Get every scrap out of it I can. I was watching Adam Hills Tonight, and they had a segment called Naked Tuesdays. Naked Tuesdays was started by a great guy called Craig Coombes, who has terminal throat cancer. He just seems like the epitomy of an ‘Aussie Bloke’ – down to earth, sense of humour, friendly, caring, wants to have fun and doesn’t take himself too seriously. He started Naked Tuesdays as a way of showing his family, friends and the world that it’s still ok to have fun even in the face of terminal cancer. That he’s ok with his body. His mantra is ‘Make the rest of your life, the BEST of your life‘. Amen brother – let’s do it!

And I don’t want to wait to get runover by a bus, or diagnosed with some horrible disease to start living.

I love my bucket list. There are loads of ‘normal’ things on it, and some random things on it. Over the last week, as I’ve strolled, sipped iced lemonade, snoozed or read in the glorious sunshine, I’ve been thinking about other things I’d quite like to do.

Like be part of a flash mob. And go punting on a river. Learn Spanish, French and Sign Language. Get my holiday permit for Girlguiding. Try out an adult gymnastic class. Go see the NCAAs. Have lots of campfires and barbecues with friends. Go to more music gigs. Go to a symphony. Oh plus all the stuff that’s already on my bucket list!!

If I die tomorrow, I want people to know I have so few regrets. I don’t even regret days I lay cosied up in a duvet watching a DVD boxset of White Collar. Because I love that show. :) Or when I dance in the kitchen along with the How I Met Your Mother theme tune while cooking my tea before going to a Senior Section meeting.

The times I’ll regret, is the times where I could have done something but decided I couldn’t be bothered. That just sucks.

And so, I’ll jump on a train to meet my friends so we can go to the beach because the weather is gorgeous. I’ll stay in the beer garden and end up going to (what turns out to be a totally crap) fringe show with my friend at 1 a.m. I’ll go rock climbing with my friend. And I’ll go to the cinema to see Despicable Me 2 and randomly say ‘Bottom hee hee hee’ on facebook or while in the car driving with my friends for many months later. I’ll buy the How I Met Your Mother boxset so I can watch it on the days I’m sleepy and just want something that makes me smile. And I’ll attempt to do things on beach car park furniture that can act as a balance beam as the sun is setting over the sea. I’ll give my friends kids squeezy hugs and teach my godson and his brother silly things like dancing in the rain and swinging off of bars. I’ll bounce on a spacehopper or go to university in my pyjamas for charity. I’ll sing out of tune in the shower and the car. And I’ll cartwheel on a beach and end up falling in the sand. I’ll wait by stage doors to meet Logie winning Aussie soapstars. And I’ll wish that I could be in Bristol to go Gromit hunting with my friend. I’ll cheer people on, and try to encourage people to use their gifts and skills and not be afraid of failure. And I’ll bully my boss into pretending to run down a beach reenacting Chariots of Fire. I’ll read my bible. I’ll listen to God, and then I’ll get the words He tells me inked on my skin so I always remember the nutty moments of faith.

I don’t get to choose how I die, but I get to choose how I live.

And I choose to live so I have lots of fun and stories to share.

What else are blogs for?!

Blondish koala goes to Aberdeen…

Do you want to see a picture of a lassie who has enough fingers to count up the sleep she has had in one weekend on top of a packed “Soul Sunday”…? Ok then…
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Yep, that was the sleepy blondish koala this morning with some serious bedhead going on. Actually it was probably partly ‘beach head’ from yesterday! Can I hear a ‘Hallelujah‘ for Bank Holiday Mondays that coincide with school holiday Mondays? (Amen.)

It’s actually the first time I’ve ever had a Bank Holiday Monday that has been a school holiday with no religious festival theme to it (ie Christmas and Easter). Late Saturday night, my friend and I drove up to Aberdeen and stayed in a hotel. We arrived just before 1 a.m. – and because he knew the staff we discovered they’d left out some cool stuff in our rooms!

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For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to watch a movie, and finding that there were no good movies on TV at 1 a.m. we resorted to watching Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live from 2012. And went to bed at 2.30 a.m.

And got up at 7.30 a.m. (at least I did).

Being in Aberdeen over a weekend is rare for me, and it had been a few years since I’d been able to visit my old church there. For me, City Church Aberdeen is a spiritual home. I went there for the first time the weekend I ‘became’ a Christian, and the folks there stuck by me through some pretty tumultuous times. I was baptised there in 2003, I was part of the worship team, learned how to sing harmonies, lead and wrote songs with my friends there amongst many other things. A lot of the friends I had there have since moved on for various reasons and scattered all over the world now, but some remain in the ‘deen and are still part of the church. The church has grown hugely since I left – they do things differently which is great. And so the opportunity to go check it out and hopefully see some old friends was too good to miss! We headed to the 11 a.m. service which weirdly was held in a school I worked at as part of my first Comm Ed job aged 19. We were even in the same room where I held the workshops we did on Thursday lunchtimes! They also now have a church plant in the community centre where I worked full-time after I graduated uni. It’s a bit freaky. :)

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Of course the afternoon was spent at the beach. Some surfed, some just picnicked in the sun, some of us got ice cream, some of us skated, and others went to A&E. Before you ask, it wasn’t a sporting injury. One of my friends somehow managed to sprain his thumb while sitting down on a picnic blanket. I think I’ve been a bad influence on him – it usually me injuring myself doing everyday things like that!

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One of our new surfer friends invited us for a cup of tea, before a bunch of us returned to City Church again for their evening service lured by the promise of their toastie bar. There more friends there, and the surprise of one of the girls I knew from doing youth ministry at a church in Edinburgh being in the worship band that evening! I forgot to mention that in the morning, I met 3 of the ‘yoof’ (all now grown up students living in Aberdeen) I had gotten to know from helping out at Youth Weekends, singing at Powerpoint and being part of the Youth mentoring and Youth prayer ministry team at MBC (now Central). It was lovely to see them all settled into Aberdeen life and it was encouraging to see they’d found a ‘home’ at the church that had been my home as a student. You always hope when youth ‘graduate’ to work or being students that they’ll find church homes in the places they go.

And so we returned, arriving back in Edinburgh exhausted, but encouraged. A little sunkissed and with achy muscles from boarding all afternoon in one way or another.

Once again, I climbed into bed well after Midnight so glad for the awesome road trip we’d taken.

Campfire song of the weekend? Without a shadow of a doubt, it was ‘Alice the Camel‘ which the Mini Kahuna now knows very well. He likes to decide how many humps Alice is going to have, and his favourite number is ‘no humps’ so he can sing/shout ‘because Alice is a LORSE!’ (that’s ‘horse’ to those of you who don’t speak Mini Kahuna lingo).

Look out for more photos of our Sunday on the Soul Surfers blog soon… :)

A is for Aberdeen, B is for board sports, C is for campfire songs…

Today I should hopefully be in Aberdeen with the Soul Surfers crew – and I’m hoping some other friends too!! :)

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Speaking of, Soul Surfers one of our crew has started a blog documenting a challenge he has set himself of ‘365 days of stoke‘ – basically spending at least 5 minutes of every day on some kind of ‘board’ (surf, skate, indo…) for the next year. Do check it out! (And welcome to the blogosphere dude!!)

Meanwhile, this past week I had to take my friend’s Guide Unit for the night, and I made sure to teach them ‘the Surfer Style’ verse of Boom Chicka Boom. Do you think I could exchange skills during the CS weekend in Polzeath – surfers teach me board skills, if I teach them campfire skills? Mini Kahuna is already working on ordering me into the waves as he declared last Sunday afternoon ‘Laura Anne take her glasses off. Laura Anne go surfing‘ while talking about going to the beach in June!

The Wall: beaches

Remember my wallI realised as I was looking at it the other day that there was still lots on the wall to be shared. So today, I’ll share not a quote but some of the photographs on the wall.

The picture there is of 2 pictures. The one on the left, my friend took of me just before I was about to attempt a cartwheel on the dunes of Balmedie Beach at sunrise on the Summer Solstice. The picture on the right, I took a few weeks later at the White Sands of Morar.

Beaches mean a lot to me, and I’m not entirely sure why. I can’t remember ever being on a beach and not being able to gain a sense of clarity over mixed up emotions or thoughts. They have always been a place where I feel most alive and a place where I feel more able to communicate with God.

During my years at university, I began a quirky tradition where I would always try to cartwheel down a beach (I have never once been able to properly cartwheel). In fact, that I know of, this is closest thing to a decent cartwheel I’ve ever done:

Balmedie Beach and the Sands of Morar have particular significance for me. Balmedie was about a 20 minute-ish drive from my flat in Aberdeen. There were times while I was a student where I felt such huge anger or stress and I needed a place to vent that was better than my previous tactic of taking sharp objects to my arms or stomach. So at night I would get in my car, put on my ‘angry’ music mix tape, drive to Balmedie, get out of the car, run up the sand dunes and yell my head off. Sometimes I’d just scream into the wind, the way some people scream into a pillow when they are frustrated. Other times I’d yell at God and tell Him exactly how I was feeling and why.

It feel good to let it all out.

Morar has a different kind of significance. The Lochaber area is where I went to hide from my exam results after I’d quit high school. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to do. I’d already decided against going to a boarding school to do A Levels. While I was there, I reaggravated an ongoing  back injury I’d hidden from my dance teachers the previous term. When I had the abortion, I went back up there a few days after. I was feeling awful at the time, but somehow the peace gave me some kind of comfort. The day the picture was taken was several years later just after my graduation. Again I was feeling pretty bad from symptoms of (suspected) endometriosis, and was awaiting an appointment at the hospital for further testing. I’d been told a few months before that I probably would struggle to have children. Again, being in that area gave some kind of peace and comfort. It was like a place where I was able to get space from the normal everyday city life, think, reflect and gain some courage to go back and face things head on.

Now when I look at those pictures, I use them to help me imagine being back in those places.

Putting the emotions and thoughts out on the table.

Regaining clarity.

Receiving courage.

Leaving the rubbish behind.

Coming back stronger.

And if you’ve never taken the time to cartwheel down a beach…trust me, you can’t do it without smiling. Even when you end up falling in the sand. Next time you find yourself on a beach, do/attempt a cartwheel…then let me know!

 

24 days of Christmas: Dreaming of a Sunny Christmas (by Holly)

I’m Holly, I’m a 24 year old teacher from New Zealand. I love Diet Coke, cats and my blog, Adventures of Holly.

Picture this…it’s Christmas day. The roast turkey is in the oven, Winter Wonderland is in the background, and…it’s 30°C outside!? Wait…what? 8O
Here in New Zealand we have some rather strange traditions. Christmas here is an odd combination between a “traditional” white Christmas, and the reality that December for us is the middle of summer!
It is completely normal to have both winter-themed ornaments and seashells on your Christmas tree, and to see poor old Santa Claus walking around the (air-conditioned) mall in his enormous furry red suit.

This is what Santa SHOULD be wearing!

It’s not unusual for your average kiwi to spend Christmas Day BBQing on the nearest beach, or eating outside in the sun, although roast dinners are pretty standard too. My family has done both, depending on who else we happen to be with that year, and what we decide we prefer.

Speaking of Christmas food, something present at pretty much every Christmas dinner here in NZ is the pavlova. For those of you who have never eaten this before (and who have been sadly missing out!), pavlova is pretty much a huge, cake-sized meringue, covered with cream and whatever fresh fruit you like. It’s pretty awesome.

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Church has never been part of Christmas for my family (New Zealand as a whole is very secular), so it’s pretty much about food, present, sun, people and spending time together.

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Holly’s post is part of a series of posts over the Christmas period. Please feel free to comment on what Holly has shared, and haste ye back for more guest bloggers who will be sharing over the next 24 days. You can find all the posts so far by clicking here. Keep calm and jingle on!

Travelling Tuesday: Poi-ing in Polzeath

Back in my student days, my friend Liz introduced some of our Assent cell to the wonderousness of poi. Raz got addicted, I got addicted, and by the time Imagine rolled round one of my fave people from City Church, Kath had her own set of flag poi. I got a set in Australia and since then have taken poi to Imagine which has been a great tool to reach out to some of the youth on the fringes of the event.

I took it to Cornwall, onto the beach after the surfer’s blessing and the next thing you know this is going on…isn’t it good that the BrunetteKoala paparazzi was on hand again? Tee hee hee!

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Baby T found the Daddies poi display mucho amusing…

IMGP0719As did me and their significant others – bring on the joy and ‘Lucy’ (Mrs Rev gor renamed when the girls informed her that she was their big sister)…and a couple from the Rev’s church who we met later that day and shared these pics from.

Who knew The State That I Am In or The Rev were closet happy clappy charismatics?!! Grace and peace to you brothers…grace and peace…because you knew this post was coming…. ;)

Reflections of a Sunday 2

2 Sundays ago I was strolling and poi-ing on a beach in Polzeath, Cornwall. I think this photo of Bring on the Joy and her mini-me is my favourite photo from that day.

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Someone at MBC thought I was Miss S’s older sister a few months ago. No. BOTJ is not my Mum. She isn’t (and doesn’t look) old enough for a start.

The guys in Bombay Feast think that BOTJ is my sister.

Miss S said on Monday that apparently I could be her sister “because we have the same hair“.

I’m confused. My smallgroup has become very incestuous sounding all of a sudden.

Anyway, I love that photo anyways. Wellies and beaches are amazing.