Being present

20140530-165558-60958492.jpg

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.

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.

Photo on 2014-07-04 at 16.46 #2

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 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.

20140613-202142.jpg

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…

20140613-202301.jpg

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. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answering the FAQs of the moment…

Hi Everyone,

Since the charity I work for broke the news about the closure I’ve been inundated with e-mails asking if I’m ok, how sorry they are, how angry they are (in some cases) and what I’m going to do next. It’s really lovely to know that so many people care, but also overwhelming and I haven’t managed to get through all those messages to be able to reply to each one individually as I want to.

I know many of my friends read this blog so I’ll answer some of the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

It’s not a question, but usually the first thing people say is ‘OMG! I’m so sorry. :( ‘ Yes. I’m sorry too. It’s really sad, and it honestly feels like a death in the family. We are as a team grieving and with that comes the stress, the dread of telling people, and our heads not being quite fully screwed on (like on Monday, my colleague passed the phone to me and I answered “Hello, I’m Laura Anne, can I ask who I am phoning to…oh wait, no. I mean speaking to” thankfully the person on the other end of the phone laughed with me! And my colleagues who overheard were giggling too.)

I do also get why some are feeling anger, especially when they know how much the charity I worked for has helped so many people and still very much needed. But for reasons I won’t go into here, I think it’s right that it is ending. I just hope that something else provides for the need.

Why don’t you start your own charity? It has crossed my mind, but I’m also very aware of how exhausted I am from the battles that I’ve faced working for this one. It is hard work, it requires long term financial support and also I think I need time to get used to the idea that my workplace won’t be there when I leave. I never imagined leaving without handing my work over to someone. I can see myself possibly starting a charity similar to the one I’ve worked for these last 7 years in the future, but I don’t think the time is right to do it this summer!

Are you ok? I’m not going to lie and say that this process is easy and fun. It is not. But I do have peace that there is a reason for this, and there are opportunities that are going to come from this chapter of my life coming to a close. There are a few things in the back of my mind, well, one in particular that I’ll not mention here at the moment as it’s just an idea and I don’t know whether it’s possible that it could happen. I’m waiting for some direction from the universe for that!*

*If by some chance a random thought pops into your head that you think you need to share with me, then no matter how ‘out there’ it may seem, do share it. If I think it’s totally unrelated I’ll just tell you. After all, I’m the girl who told her friends that they needed to go find a blue camper van when the only one for sale seemed to be green. It turned out the green camper van was actually  blue.

What am I going to do? Well there is still work to do in my job before this month ends and my notice period has ended. I have 3 more Spanish classes to go at Edinburgh uni. There are two campfires to plan for and badges to be awarded. I have some gymnastics tickets that will be used this July. And my friend has just booked us tickets for Shakespeare for Breakfast on one of the first days at the Fringe because we enjoyed it so much last year. There is a lot to look forward to. I’m hoping that when my last day at work arrives it is going to give me time to skype with my friend to brainstorm about the children’s book we are hoping to write together. And I’ve applied for a few jobs that I think I’d be a good fit for (let’s hope the prospective employers think so too!) In between I’m trying to make time to do internet searches for jobs and apply for them, and willing my little MacBook to please stay alive until I get another job (it’s about to turn 4 which seems to be the magic number that each of my laptops always die on. This MacBook is already showing signs of following this particular trend). Oh yes. And one more year of university….I need to decide if I want to upgrade my diploma to a Masters. Eek!

I hope that settles some burning questions. I know I’m super lucky to have been blessed with a sense of humour and have been able to laugh at some of the ironic moments that have been occurring and the days where we get overwhelmed by the unknowns and the sadness of farewelling something that has been a huge part of our lives. I’ve always been a laugher more than a crier, and I plan to keep it that way. :) The great thing about times of upheaval is that they force you to reflect, reassess and affirm you are on the right path, still holding integrity to your values and beliefs and make you realise who your true friends are. I’ve been blessed with oh so many incredible people to call my friends and I know exactly how lucky I am in that regard.

I’ll be keeping you posted!

LA x

 

 

Smoky hair in the midst of transitions…

My hair smells of campfire smoke as I sat with the Soul Surfers crew last night toasting marshmallows (marshmallows may be my downfall to ever becoming a vegetarian). I’m wrapped in my duvet listening to BBC 6 Music (my favourite radio station). I’ve been thinking of my friends who are grieving or worried they are about to be grieving the loss of a loved one.

Yesterday for the first time I was able to admit something to fellow humans I haven’t wanted to admit but knew I’d eventually have to. Thank you peers and friends who sat and listened and empathised with me. I don’t know if you’re reading, but if you are, I really appreciate it.

Today I enter with some trepidation. There is an important meeting tonight at work, and I suspect it’s going to end with me coming home relieved, uneasy or in tears. If you are the praying type, please pray I’ll have the right responses!

My friends introduced me to a book of Common Prayer put together by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. This morning I’m meditating on this prayer:

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organise myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

J’adore

It’s hard to believe but it was almost exactly five years ago I headed down to Watford for a training day in preparation for going to South Africa. For me, that trip is so connected with this blog, because I had so much love, encouragement and support from my awesome online community that got me there, and sustained me while I was there.

In all the trips I’ve done where I had no control over who I’d share a room with, I’ve had the best roommates. My friend Gill when we were doing an Erasmus IP in Spain. The fabulous Daniela and Kapook when we were in Germany. And when I was in South Africa it was the awesome Ruky.

July 2009

July 2009

We met up last summer after four years of distance, and I’m so excited to have booked tickets last night to travel to Paris in May to have another roomie reunion. I only got one day in Paris during my interrail trip in 2002, and I’ve always wanted to go back so this is the best excuse to go ever to spend a few days catching up with a great friend. And this time I’ll be a lot less naive about where the Moulin Rouge is.

I know that I’m almost done with my first year of uni and will have a few months off – during which time some of my uni friends will graduate and perhaps leave the country (noooo).  Next summer I might be pulling my hair out trying to do a Masters dissertation and won’t get to take time off for holidays and festival fun. So with that in mind I’m trying to make the most of having a summer to enjoy things. For five years I didn’t leave the UK. Now I’m going out the country TWICE in one year, and my Mum is talking of the two of us going away somewhere for a few days to celebrate me entering my 30s. One of my best friends is having another baby (a new honourary niece and nephew arrives this summer)! Not to mention the tickets I have to see the gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games. And hoping that there’ll be lots of shows that coincide with non-work days in August during Edinburgh Festivals season…

All this to say I’m really looking forward to this summer.

I’m so aware that everything could be taken away or change in an instant, so I want to take every opportunity to have fun.

I’m taking bookings for fun appointments friends!

The mystery of the blue camper van…

Remember last summer I told you about my nutty almost sending myself to the psych ward moment when I thought God was telling me to look for a blue camper van and told me to buy a shoulderbag?

Turns out, it wasn’t quite so nutty after all. A couple of weeks ago, we discovered where the blue van was – a tale told by my friend over on the Soul Surfers blog today.

Turns out the blue van was right in front of us all along…

(Silly people who painted Davina all green… ;) )

A return to the Gymnastics World Cup

After missing out on Olympics tickets (yes it’s been 18 months and I’m still feeling some resentment!) last year I went to the Gymnastics World Cup accompanied by my lovely friend Lynn.
20131208-011833.jpg
I like to think that I made her into a gymnastics fan! :) We had a great day, and decided we should definitely go again ‘next year’.

20131208-011913.jpg

‘Next year’ came about last Saturday. We were sad that Lynn’s daughter wasn’t able to use the ticket I had gotten her due to being at a camp for her Duke of Edinburgh award, so Lynn’s husband came instead!

20131208-011738.jpg

After he had been part of a flat (possibly vandalised) tyre fiasco on the side of the motorway. He thankfully made it for the last two rotations of the competition to see our country’s own Daniel Purvis win a silver medal. And we all sweated and gasped watching the men perform on High Bar. Which Sam Oldham ROCKED by the way.

20131208-011801.jpg

We went out for dinner afterwards. I’ll be honest – the dream of going to the Gymnastics World Cup has been what kept me going for those last few weeks of this term at uni. It was something to look forward to…not only to watch my favourite sport in person, but also to share the day with such good friends that I rarely get the chance to hang out with these days! Already we have plans to go next year.

I’m already excited!!

Thankful…

….and….breathe.

I didn’t realise how much I’d disappeared from the planet until one of my friends came round to my house at the last minute yesterday evening. So much has been going on in my friends’ lives that I had no idea and I realise how much I’ve sacrificed for the college course. It was almost 1 a.m. when I finished typing an essay to get at least one more unit completed. I didn’t finish the whole course and don’t know what will happen, but to be honest I’m just relieved that it is over!

A new challenge begins next week: Operation Kitchen. My flat in Aberdeen is basically falling apart and I’ve been trying to save money to fix it. I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea how to buy a kitchen, or how to supervise the building of one when you have no spare cash, no car, and are in full-time university and have a part time job.

The simultaneous challenge is to write my first postgraduate essay. I haven’t even had a chance to properly look at the questions or do any research yet which is causing me concern.

The good thing about this week is that it is the ‘Tattie Holidays’ otherwise known as ‘October Week’ or ‘Half-term’. So there are no Guide meetings – and I have my evenings totally free this week, which is good because I’m so so tired! Next week I’m off work so hope to use a couple of those days for university, a day to go up to Aberdeen to investigate Operation Kitchen and a day to go see a friend and her baby girl who I have not yet nicknamed. Hmmm.

I’m thankful for patient and forgiving friends who I’ve neglected over the last few weeks. I’m thankful for grace. I’m thankful for people who shared their snack ideas with me – going to investigate further into that, because my food making knowledge is so very limited!

I am however proud to announce that after 8 years of attempts, I finally made scrambled eggs successfully.

Ready to go for tomorrow: Tomato & Basil soup, a packet of sunbites, a packet of pistachios, a packet of dried apricots, a smoothie and perhaps some crackers and cheese. Maybe a portion of fruit crumble!

I’m also having to guard myself from the yummy New Zealand chocolate that Holly brought me when she came to Edinburgh in August. I’ve now finished the Kiwi fruit chocolate and working on the ‘Hokey’ one which I think has like popping candy or something through it. I won’t lie, I’ve had a few squares while I was heating up some veggie chilli for my tea, and maybe a couple of squares since. I want to make it last!

Well, it’s an early start tomorrow, so I’d better leave the blogosphere for now.

Catch you on the flip side LFS readers!

Listening to the still small voice (that makes you seem nuts)…

I was at my friend’s birthday party the other week, and  I ended up talking to this lady who goes to Central, and halfway through our conversation she commented ‘You really do a lot of praying, don’t you?‘.

Um. Yes. Yes I guess I do.

However, recently, God has been reminding me that just talking at Him is not really being a woman of faith. And I think he noticed that I wrote on my blog that I hoped getting a tattoo would end the nuttiness. *insert sound of God laughing here*. He’s been testing my faith and my ability to listen to Him with the small things in life and in the last two weeks my friends have laughed with me as I’ve shared these two mundane stories…

It all starts with a camper van. Actually. That’s not true. It really began 4 years ago with some toys, 2 cards, a camera, good food, sunshine which led to giddiness, hilarity and conversation

So it actually wasn’t long after that, my friends Brisaac & Lady V began Soul Surfers. We had a few beach days, got involved in some Surfers Against Sewage beach cleans and this camper van called Davina started making an occasional appearance. We fell in love with Davina – which is a big thing since my love of VW had to compete with my in built dislike of things that are Hibs/Celtic colours.

002-2

The main dude behind Davina, a man named Steve, went off to become a Pastor of a church in the west, and poor Davina was left without people to help fulfil her purpose in life.  However, her owners very kindly agreed to let Soul Surfers use her whenever we wanted. Granted, she’s spent some time in the garage because she needed a part and it was tough to find so we couldn’t take her out for a while, but still. We’re now able to use her, and she’s taken our ‘stoke to broke’ friend and others out for picnics and hopefully she’ll be making a trip to Dunbar for a beach day soon.

My friends had asked me to pray because they really want to do what Steve used to use Davina for. They asked other friends to pray too. And then, when we heard Davina was being put up for sale, they asked us all to pray about whether or not they should buy Davina.

Of course! I said. Praying was what I apparently do a lot of after all.

And so, one day a few weeks ago, sitting on the top deck of the airlink bus, I chatted to God about it all. And text my friend about what I thought God was saying to me. I did not text her the second part of what I thought God was saying to me, because I thought ‘that’s a bit weird, and it’s probably my subconsious dislike of green and white‘.

What did I hear in my head that I didn’t share with my friend?

Look out for the blue van‘.

Aye. Whatever God. There’s no blue van.

And so God and I (in my head) argued back and forth about sharing this second part with my friend. By this time I was off the bus and walking up Cockburn Street. I told myself I was hearing things. But the little voice persisted. Look for the blue, look for the blue. I seriously questioned my sanity.

Until, out the corner of my eye I saw something in a shop window. A blue camper van. In bag form.

blue van bag

I stopped and stared, laughed, and took a step to walk on, but I just heard this voice again. You need to buy that bag. I sighed, and went in and asked the lady in the shop

Hi, can I ask you how much that bag in the window is?

She went and checked – it was £38. Ok. It was £37.99. But still. For a bag?!

I walked around the shop to see if I could find a blue camper van magnet, mug or something you know…cheaper. I got the feeling that I was to buy some kind of ‘souvenir’ for my friends in relation to their camper van dream and thought surely a keyring would do just as well. I couldn’t see anything. Which was weird, because I’m sure that shop normally has a whole section of VW stuff! I was about to walk out, really knowing deep down that my gut instinct was telling me (ok, God was telling me) to buy that bag for my friends. But why? Surely God would want me to give money to the homeless? Build a school in Kenya or Haiti? Not buy a overpriced bag that looks like a blue VW Camper van.

And I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I’m the girl who can’t afford to rent a flat or keep a car. The last bag I bought was a small rucksack that cost about £11 because my old one was literally disintegrating. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than £25 on a bag. A suitcase, yes. A bag, no.

Sorry God, I don’t really have the money to buy that bag

I started making my way out the shop, and stopped dead in my tracks when God responded

Do you  really think that I can’t provide you with the £38 to buy that handbag? If you don’t have faith that I can provide for that handbag, why do you believe I can provide your friends with a camper van?

Ouch. Game, set and match to God.

And so after wandering in another circle for another second, I went back up to the counter.

Hi, I’m really sorry, I’m not sure if I need a psych ward or a church, but I think God is telling me to buy that camper van bag for my friends. Could I please buy it?

And continued waffling to the girl about how it was weird I was praying about my friends who had asked me to pray about this camper van, and then I thought I heard a voice telling me about a blue van, and then 30 seconds later I saw this bag in the window…

The girl laughed awkwardly. I’m pretty sure she thought I was off my rocker.

I don’t really blame her.

I later texted my friend to say…um…I have something to give you. Will explain later.

I’ll be honest folks, I have no idea why I was to buy that bag. I think it was to show some kind of trust and faith and to remind us to have faith for Him to provide for their camper van vision.

======

But oh, the little voice stories didn’t end there. A couple of weeks later, I was leaving church. I had planned to stay in the city centre to run some errands and meet up with my friends from high school. The night before one friend had cancelled and I hadn’t heard from the rest. As I walked into town, I was grumpy and thought about just jumping on a bus at the West End and going home instead. But that little voice spoke to me again – and told me I should stay in town.

I was still grumping as I walked down the road. As I reached Princes Street some other friends text me  to say they were heading to the beach – did I want to join them? Joining my friends at the beach sounded much more fun than staying in town on my own. But even as I text back with my ‘yes’ I had that nagging feeling that I should stay in town.

I ignored it.

It was past 1 p.m. by this time, and I was hungry, so after running my errand, I decided to get some food. I had the choice of running to Subway – on my way to my meeting point with them, or walk further along to Marks & Spencer. I was about to decided on M&S and ask my friends if they wanted me to get something, but again that wee voice said ‘don’t text’. I did my phone in pocket, phone back out of pocket dance, and decided they probably would say ‘No, we’re fine’ and it would take me longer anyway. So I obeyed the small voice this time and went to Subway.

And as I was standing in the queue, I looked up and realised the woman in front of me looked vaguely familiar.

It was my baby sister (my 22 year old baby sister). Who I hadn’t seen in a year. Who’s boyfriend’s plans had made her cancel on our scheduled dinner 2 days before when she let me know she was back in the UK (I hadn’t been too chuffed about that).

After commenting on ‘how freaky’ it was, I got on the phone to my friends and asked them if they’d didn’t mind me not coming to the beach after all (I apologised later for saying yes in the first place). They were lovely about it, and I spent a few hours with my sister where she told me she was moving to a country in the continent of Africa.

As I went home, I understood why that still small voice was telling me not to go home quite yet… :)

That is how I’ve been challenged recently – to listen to the ‘still small voice’. Because really, something that seems trivial could turn into something greater for all I know. You think I would have learned by now that obeying and listening – even when it seems strange (like seeing visions of women dressed in red and hearing words in other languages I don’t understand) – could lead to more than I think it will.

I’m still learning that lesson though.