It’s ok to talk 

So if you’ve been on social media during the past few weeks you might have noticed a lot of posts and chatter about a Netflix series called 13 Reasons Why. You may also have noticed that there’s been a pretty mixed reaction to it. I watched the whole series a couple of weeks ago and had quite a few thoughts/opinions about it, so thought I’d write them down. Side note – there will probably be a bunch of spoilers about it in this post. So if you haven’t watched it but intend to and don’t want anything given away, don’t read on 🙂 

So 13 Reasons Why is a series based on a novel (which I must admit I haven’t read – although it’s now on my ‘to read’ list) about a girl called Hannah Baker. Hannah is a 17 year old girl who (and this isn’t a big spoiler – it’s revealed almost immediately, and in the description of the show!) has committed suicide, but who recorded 13 cassette tapes before she took her life, explaining what led her to this decision. Each tape is based on a particular person (friend, or teacher) and explains what they did, or didn’t do, or say, which when accumulated led her to the decision to take her life. 

First of all, it’s not an easy watch. It’s an addictive show in its nature – each episode is another side of a tape, so instinctively you want to keep watching to find out who did what, and to find out what tipped Hannah over that horrendous edge. But much of it is not a comfortable watch. The ‘reasons’ (and I’m trying not to give away every spoiler here) include both seemingly small, insignificant acts from Hannah’s friends – typical teenage dramas some might describe it as – to more obvious incidents such as sexual assault. But they all impact each other, and when added up, became too much for her to cope with. 

The show has received praise and criticism in abundance. It is praised for shining a light on suicide, and the ugly reality of it. It’s praised for creating conversation about mental health, which it undoubtedly does. It is also praised for making people – and I’d guess teenagers and adolescents in particular, though not only that age group – realise just how HUGE an impact everything you say and do could potentially have. It highlights the fact that you never, ever know what is really going on in someone’s head. You never know what someone’s mental health might be like, how their state of mind is, or what they might be battling or dealing with, long term or even just on that particular day. Therefore, any comment you make, seemingly innocent or otherwise, could be enough to tip someone over the edge. 

And I love the fact the show has drawn attention to this. I wrote about it in another post recently, where I mentioned a segment I’d watched on This Morning where two mothers talked about their teenage children who had committed suicide because of cyber bullying. You really never know how one little not-so-nice comment, look, or even lack of comment or acknowledgement could make someone feel. Particularly with social media and texting where you’re so remote from any reaction, its easy to forget there’s a person at the other end of the phone/social media account, and that what you say or do has consequences. Instead of saying something sarcastic and mean, or ignoring someone in the corridor you used to be friends with, ask them how they are. Even remember to ask your friends how they are, or how things are going. You don’t know how much difference that could make. It’s important that this is highlighted and stressed, and I’ve seen loads of conversation about this aspect of the show from teens on FB, so hopefully it will have a positive impact. #bekind


There were elements of the show though that I wasn’t so convinced on. They showed the graphic way Hannah ended her life, and I understand that this was to highlight that it’s not pretty, or easy, and it shouldn’t be considered as either. And I think it achieved that (I had to fast forward it because I couldn’t watch the entire scene). It does make me nervous though that anyone feeling vulnerable and in a similar place to Hannah could be ‘spurred on’ by watching it rather than deterred, and mental health charities and anti-suicide campaigns have raised similar concerns, as it could be a potential trigger. I think they hope though that the gruesomeness of it, along with the fact Hannah has a clear support network around her, even if she couldn’t see it, will show that it is not an option, never mind the only one. 

That however is the other thing I’m just not convinced on. I don’t think that they show just how many other options Hannah had. I’ve seen people comment that the show highlights just how many people she had around her who cared about her, but I’m not entirely sure it does. I think it shows she has people, but that not one of them was there for her when she needed it most. Granted she couldn’t manage to directly ask the majority of them for help, but when it came down to it and she did ask for help in the best way she could manage, the counsellor, though meaning well, tells her to ‘move on’. Now Hannah’s mental state was clearly not positive or stable, and she had been through a lot, which meant she saw this as him refusing her help. But I don’t think it’s a great message for anyone feeling like she does: ‘even if you’re brave enough to ask for help, you won’t get any anyway’ is how I read that. Maybe I’m being over critical here or missing the point, but if anyone who can relate to Hannah’s feelings and situations reads it the same way I did, there could be really negative outcomes. 

Anyway, aside from that, I think the show is really well produced and has a clear, VERY important message: it is ok to not be ok. It’s ok to not be perfect, and it’s more than ok to ask for help. It WILL get better. Things won’t always be that bad – something teenage brains (which work differently to adult brains!) often struggle to remember or comprehend. Just talk to someone. Friend, family member, teacher, colleague, stranger on the other end of a helpline. Anyone. The more you talk, the easier and better it will become. Which leads me into my next topic…

Tonight I watched the second episode of ‘Mind over Marathon’, a BBC documentary about a group of 10 individuals with mental health problems who had signed up to run the London marathon. Linked to the ‘Heads Together’ campaign, which is spearheaded by the future king, Prine William, along the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the group committed to 6 months of training, both physical and mental, before running the 26.2 miles. The diverse group all suffered from depression, as well as other mental health disorders such as OCD, anxiety and PTSD. Seeing the courage and determination of the individuals was truly inspiring. I mean, anyone who can run that distance has my admiration, but managing to do it with/after suffering from depression, which leaves you struggling to get out of bed, was really quite admirable. They all said they benefitted from the running (exercise released endorphins, and endorphins lift your mood…), as well as the community and purpose it gave them. One lady, Rhian, had lost her infant son suddenly to pneumonia, then 5 days later her husband took his own life. She has subsequently suffered from crippling anxiety and depression, and carried a lot of self blame. Her ‘story’ was discussed a lot throughout the documentary, and watching her cross the finish line after 26.2 miles had me absolutely sobbing. 

The main thing that I loved about the programme was the constant encouragement to talk about mental health.  This year’s London marathon was dubbed the ‘mental health marathon’, because of the royals’ Heads Together campaign, the main aim of which was to normalise conversation about mental health. It’s so important – it shouldn’t be any different from conversation about physical health, and yet it brings with it stigma and shame and embarrassment. But it shouldn’t. 

Everyone has mental health, just as they have physical health. 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health problem. That’s a huge fraction of the population. I’m sure some people are more predisposed to mental health problems than others, and there have in fact been times I’ve had a glimpse at what people with depression or anxiety disorders must experience day in day out. I know people who do have to deal with those conditions every day, and this isn’t surprising given the 1 in 4 statistic…I’m sure you do too. People just need to know it’s okay to talk about it, and it’s okay to get help. 


I’ve realised recently how passionate I am about this, and I really really really(!!!) hope I can use my psychology degree (1 month to go!!!) to some good use in this field. 💗

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Trust and pray 

So I’ve been taking part in a ‘lent series’, that our divisional youth specialist promoted on Facebook. Each day you get a notification with a bible verse or a few verses, then at different points in the day you get up to maybe three other notifications. These either include points to reflect on, or react to. 

I initially signed up to it because I’d been looking for some sort of devotional thing, and the notifications seemed like as good a chance as any that I might stick to it. The idea behind it is to help you introduce some daily rhythm into your life and create intentional moments of focusing on God throughout the day, and thus getting to know God and Jesus more by the end of the series. Or that’s what I’m taking it as anyway. 

Since I’ve been using my bullet journal to plan out my weeks, record gratitude and purposefully pray for people, I thought it might be helpful to write down the daily bible verses and thought points every day in the journal. I always take things in more if I write them down so I hoped it would help me connect deeper to the scripture and the points for reflection. 


And it has. I was determined not to do what I usually do with things like this and last a few days, forget about it and move on. I’ve managed to write out every day’s reading and reflections so far, even if I had fallen a week or so behind and had to write out a lot yesterday! I’ve included pictures of the pages in my journal throughout this post, although have blurred out a few bits where I’ve responded and it’s more personal than I’d like to share on here. 


When I was catching up last night, I got to one that was based on Jonah 2:5-7, when basically Jonah is drowning and then he looks to God for help. (Clearly that’s the shortened, edited version) The messages along with the verse first asked if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed (yes!!), then secondly told you to react by telling someone how you honestly feel right now – be it good or bad – and ask them to pray with you/for you. I haven’t done many of the ‘react’ tasks, however as soon as I read this I knew I wanted to do it. I wasn’t really sure who to do it with, but I picked two people I trusted and went from there. 


I don’t like asking people to pray for me. I find it really odd, and find that it feels even more vulnerable than asking for ‘normal’ help. I’m not really sure why this is – maybe it’s because I’m not good about talking about my faith in God in general, or because I don’t fully understand how the whole praying thing really works, or because I’m not used to doing it, or possibly just because I don’t like admitting when I need help. I have however just finished another month of consciously choosing somebody specific every day to pray for, and I figured that if I can manage to pray for people, then I could be brave enough to ask someone to do the same for me. 


Anyway, once I got over the initial cringing of asking someone to pray for me, I cringed some more by admitting how I honestly feel at the minute. It sounds really straightforward, but in order to make the process worthwhile I wanted to be brutally honest, and that’s not always so easy or so pretty. Anyway, I wrote out a paragraph about how I feel about life at the minute (and rewrote it about 10 times, no exaggeration), and moved on. 

The next notification for that day was another instruction, which was to check in on your friends, ask how they are doing, really listen, and pray for them too. Another thing I don’t find easy to do, but that I was keen to do . Partly because it provided a way of having proper chat – it’s not always easy to have conversations like these with friends about how things are or how either of you are really getting on or feeling. Often we’re ‘too busy’ to get together to catch up, or we see each other briefly, or it can be awkward to bring up, particularly in relationships where you don’t see each other often and communication is mostly done by text. The two friends I (initially..I kind of intend to do it with more) sent the message to are close friends of mine, but ones that I have quite different relationships with. One i tend to go to for help a lot, and the other often comes to me. With the friend I turn to a lot, I’m often concerned that I don’t get the chance to be there for her or reciprocate the support. And with the other, I was conscious to show that I trust her just as she does me. So I was keen in both cases to try and strengthen the relationship and make it stronger in both directions. 

Anyway, after rewriting the entire message at least a dozen times, I finally sent it and went to sleep, nervous in anticipation to see how they would respond to my randomness. (I did apologise twice in the message – once for the length of it, and also for if it seemed odd or random…. why so much fear of being judged?!) 

And I’m really glad I sent them. I’ve had some good, real conversations today as a result – something I hugely value. I’ve been prayed for twice (there’s a double sided comfort in that – knowing you’re supported by friends, and by God), and I’ve heard what is going on in my friends’ lives and prayed for them in return. 

I preached in devotions at youth band recently about how we often talk to our friends about all kinds of stuff, but rarely about God, and that it shouldn’t be that way. Only, until yesterday I hadn’t really taken my own advice. I cringed at having conversations about praying for each other, yet there was a huge comfort and also a closeness that came from doing so. (For me, at least. Maybe those friends are reading this now thinking I’m a nutter!) I’ve always raised my eyebrows (surprise surprise) when it gets preached that relationships need to be built around God, but maybe I’m beginning to see how much stronger they can be when that is actually the case. 

So, I’d preach the same thing as I did at youth band – “It’s important that we talk to each other about our faith and how we’re doing spiritually, just as we would have a conversation about how we’re feeling physically. I know it can feel awkward, but it really shouldn’t.” It can feel awkward and i was even afraid of being judged for being ‘too holy’, despite knowing that both of the friends I text are just as invested (and inquisitive!) about their faith as I am. My advice – go for it. Talk to God, (I still struggle with this concept, but if you do too, bear with me!) and talk to your friends about talking to God. 


I might share some more posts about what else has come up in the lent series, but that’s all for now. (Thank goodness I hear you say!) I’m really glad I signed up to it, because between that, the conscious effort to pray, and writing down 3 things I’m grateful for every day, I’m noticing a positive difference in my outlook on things, and that can’t be a bad thing!! 

Life is a rollercoaster

I was sitting looking through boxes of photographs at my mum’s tonight, flicking through literally hundreds of photos of me as a child. Pictures of people, places, holidays, events that I remember as though they were recent, but that were actually a decade ago or longer. When did I become a grown up?!!! I used to look at people in their twenties and think they were proper adults – now I’m 23, a few months away from being graduated, married and living in my own house, but I still feel like a child. And I think a big part of that is that I still don’t have any clue what I’m going to do job/career wise once I finish uni. 


I’ve said before that I envy people who know from the age of 5 that they want to be and will become a doctor or a fireman or an artist. To have such a clear cut dream would be so good (although I guess could lead to greater disappointment if it is not achieved). To have something to aim for, to aspire to, to work towards. Instead of just aimlessly pushing on in the hope that something becomes clear. 

I’ve been trying to rely on God, hoping that ‘what’s in his plan for me will become clear’…but does this really work? And how long do I wait before this comes to light? If something comes up, how do I know if it’s in his plan, or in line with his will, or if it’s not. (Feel free to refer back to older blog posts for in depth discussions of my issues with the whole ‘God’s plan’ thing… I’ve written about it many times!) 


To be brutally honest, I spend a lot of time at the minute being worried or afraid. And I really, really don’t like to admit that. (So much so that this post was selectively shared on Facebook, rather than shared with all of my Facebook friends) My confidence has dropped a lot over the past few months, and I’m not sure why. I know my dodgy insides have made me more anxious and wary to do things – any things – but it seems like more than that. I feel like I’m going backwards – struggling to work out where I fit in and where my place is. 
Not knowing where I’m headed career/work/study wise is definitely a big contributing factor to this. I need some sort of direction, but I don’t know how to figure that out. I really just don’t know what I would like to do. And when people suggest things or I get a slight inkling of what might be fun or rewarding or interesting, I then worry that I wouldn’t be good at it or wouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t know what I’m capable of, and my decreased confidence is telling me that  the list of what I am capable of is much smaller than the list of what I’m not capable of. 


I’m not sure where I fit in with friends either. Recently it’s become apparent to me how many friendships Matt has, compared to how many I have. I find it difficult at times not to envy his outgoing, likeable personality that seems to attract friends like a moth to a flame. And I know it’s not about quantity. (Nor am I saying that he’s picking quantity over quality, because he has some lovely friends and great friendships in all aspects of his life!) I know he has more outlets and hobbies than me – work and band and football, where I just have the army and like 1 uni friend. (Again don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have that 1 pal and wouldn’t have made it through this year without her being at the other end of FB messenger helping me with every ridiculous question I come out with!!) It’s maybe just that everyone else seems to be settled in their work, their lives, and I’m a few stages behind and just don’t quite know where I fit into it all. I appreciate closeness in relationships, but struggle not to feel like I’m just bugging them by making contact. I feel like I’m always asking for help or support or even attention and I don’t want to be that person who makes them say ‘oh not again’ or ‘what now’ when a text from me shows up on their phone. My head just doesn’t make things straightforward. 


And the thing that makes it all feel worse is that I thought I was past all of this. I thought that once I got into uni to study psychology, a career would fall into place thereafter. I thought that by the time I got married, I’d surely be at the stage of not worrying so much about whether I ‘fit in’ or whether people like me. I thought I was past the stage of psyching myself out of things because I think I’m not good enough or capable enough. So how did I end up back at this completely confused, completely clueless stage?! Or is it more like a carousel or a rollercoaster, where things fluctuate and vary throughout your life? How do things like this work for other people? Are people really as clued up and satisfied as they lead others to believe? I’m not sure. 


I’m not sure what the point of this post is. My head’s been really full and this was my best attempt at emptying it tonight, albeit not a great effort. I just don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m heading and I’m so fed up of being worried and unsure and had to write that down, for my own sanity rather than trying to make for interesting reading. (Side note – it’s not all doom and gloom! I’m incredibly excited to be married and move into Matt and I’s lovely new house and I’m very grateful for all I have and all of the people who don’t give up on me!!) I’d just like some direction, and for my head to give me a break from time to time! 

Just be kind.


How hard is it to be kind? 

This post is inspired by a clip I saw from today’s episode of This Morning. The clip was of Philip and Holly interviewing a mother whose teenage daughter took her own life just 2 weeks ago, aged only 14. The mother explained that they discovered only after her death that she had been been the victim of relentless online bullying, which led to her suicide. The (exceptionally brave!!) mother described her daughter as a bright, vivacious, happy girl who always looked out for other people. And yet the girl was bullied so badly over social media – from name calling to nasty and mean comments getting inside her head –  that she felt she had no alternative than to take her own life. It was heartbreaking to watch and very difficult not to get emotional listening her grief stricken mother. 

But this type of story is far too common. The other lady sat on the This Morning sofa was also the mother of a boy who took his own life for similar reasons last year. It’s happens so often, and it’s just not right. It shouldn’t be this hard to be kind. 

Bullying is always terrible, whatever form it takes; whether physical, verbal, in person or online. Cyber bullying is interesting however in that a lot of the time, people probably don’t even consider themselves to be bullying someone. You’re so remote from the situation, that you don’t see what impact your one sentence text could have. You don’t see what your ‘bit of banter’ in the group chat is doing to someone’s self esteem. You don’t see that you’re the tenth person to say something nasty to that person in the one day. You don’t see the consequences of what you’re saying – possibly until it’s too late. 


So why is it so easy to be mean or nasty? As the second mother on This Morning, who’s been campaigning in schools against bullying since her son died, said: Why is being kind considered ‘not cool’? How did that happen? Has this always been the case or is it getting worse? She made a point that ‘role models'(??) on reality tv get more coverage for being nasty or mean or rude than the ones who are nice, and she has a point. It normalises it, and kids (or adults for that matter) think it’s fine to make fun of someone or be mean to them. And it’s so not. 

In band last week, the person doing devotions mentioned that it was apparently ‘random acts of kindness day’ – but made the comment that we shouldn’t need a day set aside to be kind, and that it’s really quite sad that it’s even a thing. And it’s so true. Not just as Christian’s, but as humans beings, we shouldn’t need to be told to be kind. Why is it seemingly so difficult?! 

I’m not claiming that I’m perfect or that I’ve never said anything nasty about someone – I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t. Plus it’s very easy to get sucked up in the moment and say something when in a certain group that you’d never say if you weren’t with them – I’ve been there many times. And while it’s easy to forget, stories like this really make you conscious of just how much of an impact what you say and do actually can have. But it shouldn’t take a tragic story like this to make you realise that. It should be obvious that being kind is better than being nasty. 

If you’ve read anything on my blog before you’ll know I’m not great at face to face interaction, but I am a fan of social media and texting. And if I see that someone is struggling, I will frequently text or message to say I’m thinking about them, or I hope they’re ok – regardless of how close I am to the person. (It’s actually something I think inherited from my mum, cos she’s always doing the same!) Sometimes I worry people think I’m odd, but I’d much rather they thought I was strange for sending them a kind message and caring, than saying something nasty or being horrible and ignoring them. You never really know what people are going through, and your message could be the thing that tips them over the edge, or makes their day. It’s up to you which way you tip the scales. 


Never underestimate the impact a kind one line message could have. I actually got a text tonight that said ‘How are you today my friend?’ And the gratitude I felt when reading it – upon seeing that someone was interested and that they cared – was great. And actually, not only does being kind benefit the people you are kind to, but from a selfish point of view, it usually makes you feel pretty nice too. 

This is a pretty messy post, but I think it’s clear what the message of it is. And I would encourage everyone – young or old – to listen. Be kind. Always. 


Ask and it shall be given? 

So I was looking on Pinterest last night for the C.S Lewis quote about friendship (“friendship begins in that moment when one person says to another: ‘What, you too? I thought I was the only one!'”) and came across a tonne of CS Lewis quotes that I instantly liked/agreed with/could relate to. Then I saw this one, which reminded me of something that was going through my head a couple of weeks ago that I almost wrote about then forgot about/never got around to. 


I had opened the bible app on my phone, and the verse of the day was this: 

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew‬ ‭7:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Which instantly made me think of the (really very cheesy) Salvation Army Chorus: 

Ask! Ask! Ask! and it shall be given;   Seek! Seek! Seek! and you’re sure to find; Knock! Knock! Knock! and the door will open; For God! God! God! is so good and kind!  

When I initially read it I found it really encouraging. And then I properly thought about it. (Thinking is always the downfall!!) So my thought process was; is that really how it works? If we ask for something, we’ll get it? If we search for something hard enough, we’ll find it? If we try (the door), we’ll get there (get in)? Because to me, that contradicts a whole load of other bible stuff and what we’ve always been taught. 

So based on that, I really don’t know how to interpret that verse properly. It all comes back to the topic of prayer again. Now, surely that’s not supposed to be like a shopping list? You’re not meant to go to God and ask for all of these things you want, and he won’t just grant you them either. If I pray and ask for £1 million, I won’t suddenly get it. If I pray and ask for a relative to be healed, that won’t necessarily happen either. He’s not a genie with a magic lamp. But that bible verse seems to suggest so? It seems to say that if you ask for something, you’ll get it. (The next verse goes on to say that God is good and therefore will give us good things) On the other hand though, surely if I’m praying that I’ll become closer to God, or that I’ll experience him, out of a place of pure desire to follow him or whatever the phrasing should be, surely if he’s good and gives us good thing, he’d want to ‘grant me that’? Maybe I’m reading it out of context, but I’ve read round about it and it doesn’t seem to clear anything up for me! 

So my big question really is, how does prayer actually work? The thank you and the sorry bits I get. But the asking bit, I don’t understand. The praying for specific people, I don’t understand. (If God has a plan/a will for us all blah blah blah…then surely me asking for something will make no difference to that outcome?) Are we just supposed to be super vague and ask for ‘help’ or ‘support’ or ‘guidance’, then trust that he’ll do those things (even if we don’t realise it)? Ask and it shall be given seems pretty literal, and although many people don’t take a huge amount of the bible literally, I don’t see how else you could interpret that verse? 


I’d love to be able to agree with and believe in what this quote is saying. I would love to think that because I’m actively seeking God, and seeking joy, that I would find it. But I just don’t understand how the theory and theology behind it actually works or makes sense. 

So, answers on a postcard please. (Well actually, fb comment or message would be more practical…) I’ve had similar conversations to this with people before, but I’m interested to hear what others might think. 
#confusedchristian 😂

Bullet journalling 

So I was up til almost 3am last night finishing uni work and I’ve been shattered all day. And I did exercise for a change, which made me even more tired. Now I’m lying in bed and can’t get to sleep because I can’t seem to stop thinking. Not amused. So I thought I’d try and write. 

I came across something on Pinterest last week called Bullet Journalling. It basically involves taking a notebook and making it into the kind of diary/journal/planner than suits your own needs. And you can make it as simple or as pretty as you want (and seemed like a good excuse to buy more pens!!). As I said in my last post, I’ve been trying to improve. Improve my productivity, improve my exercise levels, improve myself. Be better. Be more present, more positive. And using this journal seems like a good way to track and observe that.

It involves a future log, monthly and daily logs, and ‘collections’ which can be just about anything. You can track things like sleep, water intake, household chores, TVs series you’re watching, literally anything you like. 

 

My favourite page so far is my gratitude and prayer log for this month. It’s something I’d already started towards the end of January, but I love seeing it all written down together like this. I find it so easy to be negative about things – life, me, anything really, so It’s nice to see a record of all the good things that have happened this month – both big and very small, random things – that I’m grateful for. And the daily ‘person to pray for’ helps me remember to think about, and pray for, someone other than myself. Something I think is often easy to forget. 

This next page is definitely my favourite collection page so far. My bookshelf. As I read a book I’ll colour it in, and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have a full and colourful page! It’s maybe not such a productive page, but it’s fun and will hopefully encourage me to read a bit more.

I’m excited to keep adding to it with lots of random things as well as real helpful trackers to help me stay happy and healthy. Cos it’s not always easy. I just find it far too natural to complain, or moan, or be negative/scared/worried. The list goes on. It’s easier to think of negative ‘what if’s than it is positive. Easier to think I can’t do something than can. And I would love to be able to change that. I’ve recently come to the realisation though that you can’t expect things to improve – circumstances, attitude etc. – if you don’t make any effort to make them change. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, but so often we expect everything to be bright and shiny without doing anything to make that happen. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to take control of my situations, attitudes, thoughts and feelings, so that I can be the best version of myself. For my own sake and sanity, more than for any one else’s benefit. (All help/support/encouragement is appreciated!!!) 

This post is probably terrible and I am finally almost asleep (I hope!), but thought I’d end it with a quote page from my new bullet journal that I think fits quite well with this ramble! 

Question time

So I’ve been looking at ways to be more positive and productive, and ways to improve myself. I was having a look at “30 day challenges” on Pinterest mainly just for fun (Pinterest is by the way one of my favourite ways to procrastinate). Squat challenges, planking, photo challenges, self-care challenges, writing challenges, the list goes on. The writing ones gave me some ideas for blog posts, but rather than write 30 separate posts, I picked a few of the questions and made them into one post. And I’ve always loved filling out things like this. 

So, here we are. A random post about me. Random facts, ‘interesting’ info, and some real insights into who I am and what makes me happy/scared/inspired/influenced etc. etc.

10 things that make you really happy:

  • Spending time with my parents
  • Spending time with Matt
  • Real, honest, deep conversation
  • Laughing until your insides hurt with good friends
  • Being on holiday
  • Being on a beach (preferably a sunny one!)
  • Feeling appreciated
  • Sleeping and/or lying in bed
  • Stationary
  • Books or TV shows that you can really relate to/connect to

 

Five places you want to visit:

  • Hawaii
  • Chicago
  • China (great wall)
  • Rome
  • Barcelona

 

Five ways to win your heart:

  • Bring me chocolate
  • Be honest
  • Take me on holiday
  • Take me to a beach
  • Let me sleep

 

Something someone told you about yourself that you never forgot:

  • Sharon telling me that the song “Read all about it” by Emeli Sandi reminds her of me as (apparently!) I’ve got so much good to say but I don’t always say it. She told me she was excited to see me becoming more confident because everyone deserved to see what she’d been privileged to see now she had gotten to know me better.
  • I’ve always remembered it for several reasons, but mainly because it made me believe in myself and be braver to be exactly that.

 

3 pet peeves:

  • Any kind of eating noise
  • People who use the word ‘sick’ to describe having a cold or flu
  • Using old fashioned/out of date language or rules just for the sake of it (example: using words like ‘furlough’ and ‘cartridge’ in the Salvation Army in the 21st  century. I know why we do it, but seriously, just call it holiday and offering/collection!!)

 

Write about someone who inspires you

  • My Grandpa
    • He is 83, and has more energy than I do at 23. He is constantly out and about, always on the go, and spends a huge amount of his time giving to others. He’s always visiting people who are ill or can’t get out or just need a friend, or giving his time to help people in any number of ways. He inspires me to be better and be more giving and generous.

 

List 10 songs you love

  • For Good – Wicked
  • How to save a life – The Fray
  • Blessings – Laura Story
  • The Story – Brandi Carlisle
  • Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
  • He will not let go – Laura Story
  • Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson
  • Just like heaven – Katie Melua
  • Read all about it – Emeli Sandi
  • I Am – Nichole Nordeman

 

Something you struggle with:

  • Confidence – being nervous/anxious for things

 

Something you dream of doing:

  • Swimming with turtles in the wild (and might be able to do it on our honeymoon!!!)

 

Words of wisdom that speak to you:

I really struggled with this question because there are SO many quotes and ‘words of wisdom’ that I love.

  • ‘Everything happens for a reason’ – love the idea, but not always sure I agree with it
  • “I hope you know you’re capable and brave and significant. Even when it feels like you’re not” – This definitely speaks to me.
  • “Be an encourager, the world already has enough critics”
  • “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about” – Too true!

 

Something you always think “What if..” about:

  • What if I can’t do this?! (With ‘this’ being just about anything!!)

     

    Favourite movies you never get tired of watching:

    • Mrs Doubtfire
    • Home Alone 1&2
    • Just Like Heaven
    • Forrest Gump
    • Matilda
    • Many Disney or Pixar films

     

    Something that you miss:

    • School homework (random yes, but it was routine and had instructions and I preferred that to uni work!)
    • But right now, My Grandpa, as it’s 11 years today since he passed away. Can’t believe it’s been so long, and I really wish he were here today to see who I’ve become and what I’m up to. I hope he’d be proud.

     

    5 Books on your bookshelf right now:

    • How to be here – Rob Bell
    • The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
    • The Diary of Anne Frank
    • One flew over the cuckoo’s nest – Ken Kesey
    • Sane New World – Ruby Wax

     

    3 things that make you laugh out loud:

    • Miranda (tv show)
    • Friends (tv show), even after all this time!
    • My little pal Sophie!

     

    Five greatest accomplishments so far:

    • School Exam results – they may not really matter now, but I was hugely proud of them at the time. 8 1’s at standard grade, 6 higher A’s, 2 B’s and an advanced higher A. (if only I could get that many A’s at uni!!!)
    • Making it through my psychology uni degree – we started with around 600 on the course, and only about 150 I think now remain in 4th I’m proud to be one of them. (And will be prouder if/once I graduate!!)
    • Being on Junior Camp staff – this is a random one and for most people would not be an achievement, but given how shy I’ve always been, it was a huge deal for me.
    • Playing a trumpet solo at my final school concert in Hamilton Town Hall (seats about 800 I think?) – standing on that stage on my own, with just the piano to accompany me, was petrifying. I still can’t quite believe I managed it. (Although I’m still annoyed by that one note I split…)
    • This is only 4… but i’m struggling to come up with a fifth!

     

    10 people who have influenced you and how (all of these people have influenced me in way more ways than what I’ve mentioned – as have many many more people – but trying to keep it brief!)

    • Dad – seems obvious that your parents would influence you, and mine have for the better in many, many ways. But the value I always think I learn the most from my dad is to be generous. Not just in terms of money, but in terms of your time too.
    • Mum – again I have been influenced in more ways than I’ll realise by my mum, but most of all she shows me how important it is to care about people, and to support people, particularly when they need it most.
    • Matt – over the past 9 years his outgoing, extroverted personality has rubbed off a bit and has helped me become less shy and much more confidant. It’s the most cliché phrase, but I really would be a much different, lesser version of myself today if it hadn’t been for his influence.
    • Rachel – has influenced me by never giving up on me. She’s seen every side of me; good, bad and in-between, and has always stuck by me and this has in turn taught me to do the same with other people too.
    • Sharon – has influenced me by always making time for me – being there for me and listening to my endless moans and dramas and worries. She’s always encouraged me to be confident in who I am and not settle for less than I deserve or am capable of.
    • Hannah – my dad’s cousin’s daughter. We’ve only ever met each other twice I think, but my Nana introduced us and we used to email and MSN back and forth lots as teenagers. I haven’t seen her in years but do keep up to date on Facebook, and she constantly inspires me. (And probably has no clue!!) She has had some rough things to cope with in recent years, but is always positive, full of smiles and full of love for everyone. Her FB posts and Snapchats always make me smile, and remind me to try to find joy in everything.
    • Grandparents – I am fortunate enough to still have two of them living today, but the main influence I’ve always felt from all four of them was in terms of commitment. They were all fiercely loyal and committed to the Salvation Army in particular, and I admire that trait in them. My Nana was immensely proud to be the first female in the band at Hamilton, and my Gran recently received commendation for being in the choir for 60 years! At 83, my grandpa still attends every Sunday, plays in the band, helps with the accounting and stands in the town centre selling the papers. I struggle to have that level of commitment and I’m 60 years younger than he is. I am inspired by their commitment.
    • David – Has influenced me by his sheer kindness. It always amazes me how selflessly kind and generous he is, and it always inspires me to be a better person, and friend.
    • Fiona – Initially she influenced me by making me realise just how much of an influence I can have on people, which made me conscious and more aware of how I behave and act. As we’ve become closer, she’s influenced me by showing me time and time again how to be strong, and how to be a great friend. 
    • Adam – has influenced me by showing me what it’s like to be truly passionate about something, and to follow that passion. And he reminds me to find the potential good, both in myself and others. 

     

    5 weaknesses I have:

    • Procrastination
    • Indecisiveness
    • Lack of confidence in myself and abilities
    • Excessive worrying
    • Tendency to give up on things

     

    5 Strengths: (why are strengths always much harder to come up with than weaknesses?!) 

    • Listening
    • Perceptive of other people’s feelings
    • Passionate about people
    • Loyalty
    • Empathy

     

    If you had one superpower, what would it be and why?

    • Telepathy, without a doubt
    • I would love to be able to hear/see what people are thinking. Not necessarily because I’m nosey (although I’d be lying to say that wouldn’t be part of it!), but mainly to see if what goes through my head is remotely similar to what other people think about! Plus, if you could know what other people really did think of you, it would remove the annoying habit of worrying what people think.

     

    What is the thing you most wish you were great at?

    • My instant response is to say ‘anything’. Not out of self-pity, but because I’d really love to be great/excellent/amazing at something. Anything. I’m decent at a few things, and maybe a tad above average at the odd thing, but I’m not great at anything. Or I don’t think so.
    • For a more concrete response, I’d say playing the Piano. Or any instrument actually. I learned the keyboard as a child (even sat exams up until grade 5!), but for some bizarre reason, I chose this over the piano. (why?!!) Matt and I have agreed to buy a piano once we’re in the house, and I’m excited to learn how to play it properly.

     

    What do you think people misunderstand about you the most?

    • I think people may assume that because I’m quiet, shy, and introverted, that I’m unfriendly and don’t like to talk. But that’s not true at all.
    • I actually love talking, if it’s something I’m passionate about, or with people I’m really comfortable around.

     

    List 10 things you would tell your 16-year old self if you could:

    • Stop trying so hard to be someone so different from who you are
    • Stop trying so hard to make people like you
    • Spend less time worrying about what everyone thinks of you
    • Have more confidence
    • Start (and keep up) more hobbies
    • Have more fun
    • Learn more about God/Christianity/your own faith before becoming a senior soldier
    • Learn how to use straighteners properly, and stop getting a fringe cut back in
    • Don’t eat nuts – you’ve got an allergy you’ve not discovered yet
    • Figure out what you’re passionate about and go after it (i.e. don’t go to uni to study business, you’ll hate it)

    Five questions you wish you had the answers to: 

    • Is god real/really there? 
    • If so, how do you really experience him/connect to him? 
    • What really happens when you die?  
    • Do other people really overthink things the way I do? 
    • What kind of job/career am I going to have?

    What are you excited about?

    • Getting married and living with Matt in our beautiful new house
    • As well as being scared, I’m excited to finish uni and start figuring out where my life is going to go next

    Share your story

    So our songsters (choir) led the morning meeting at a small Salvation Army corps (church!) in Springburn in Glasgow last Sunday morning. They only have a congregation of around 10 – despite having once been a large thriving church, as far as I am aware – and with no offence intended, the average age must be quite a high number. I do however have a huge amount of respect for what they do there – despite being few in number they run mothers and toddlers, a community choir, amongst various other weekly activities. The thing that struck me most on Sunday morning though was that yes, there were only ten of them, and they have no appointed officer (minister), but they all seemed so enthusiastic and passionate. It was evident that they were there for the right reason, and that they truly received blessing from being here. You don’t always (don’t always or don’t usually?!) get that impression from everyone in larger congregations, certainly not in my experience. Anyway as part of the meeting plan, I had been asked to give a personal testimony, and I thought I may as well share it. It’s nothing overly profound and probably doesn’t say anything I’ve not said on here before, but thought I’d post it anyway: 
    My name is Roslyn, and I somehow agreed to share some personal testimony this morning. I thought I’d start by sharing a bit about me…so I’m 23, I’m getting married in August, I’m in the middle of buying my first house, and I’m in my final few months of a degree in psychology at the university of Glasgow. I grew up in the Church of Scotland, then at around 13 started attending the Salvation Army in Hamilton with my grandparents, who have been soldiers in the corps there for the past 60 odd years. After a few months at the corps I got the chance to go to my first Salvation Army music school, and I decided to give it a go. I’ve always been quiet and shy, even more so when I was younger, so at 13, going to an event with around 100 people when I only knew one other person was terrifying, but I can only assume it was God guiding me in a certain direction. I’ve now been to 10 music schools, and it has had a huge impact on my life, both in general and spiritually. It led me to meeting my fiancé – which I presume was a good thing!! 😉 – but it also led me to start worshipping at Clydebank and brought me to where I am now.

    The theme for last year’s music school was ‘Transform’, and we focused on people’s stories and testimonies, God’s plans, and how God can transform our lives for the better. Something that came up a lot during the week and that really struck me was the fact that God takes the lives of ordinary people just like every one of us, and transforms us. You don’t need an incredible background story or to be at your lowest or going down the wrong path, but God will transform us wherever we are. 
    Romans 12 verse 2 was mentioned a lot during the week and has stuck with me since, and I really like the way the New Living Translation puts it. It says: 

    “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

    ‭‭The message translation describes it as ‘taking your everyday, ordinary life’ and placing it in line with God. And I have to say I find this quite a challenge – i find it easier (though still very difficult at times!) to try and put myself in tune with God and listen to him when I’ve got a big decision to make or something significant is happening, but in terms of every day life – going to uni, interacting with people, even things like band or songster practice – i find it takes much more conscious effort to be in line with God and to let him shine through what I do and how I behave.

    I have always found the idea of God having a plan for our lives a difficult one to take in or be comfortable with, particularly at the minute when I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do once I graduate from uni…whether I’ll be able to go on to further studying or get a job or build a career or anything like that. This verse however reminds me that as well as letting God transform me for the longer term picture, I need to try to rely fully on him for the present too. I need to listen to what he’s saying and focus on where I am just now, and remember that wherever I am, whatever my situation is, God is using me all the time without me even realizing it. In the small things just as much as in the big things. God is constantly working to transform our lives whether we’re aware of it or not, and I thank him for that. I pray that I’ll be able to listen and follow where he leads me, but also that he’ll use me and equip me to help transform others too. 




    – And I really do mean that last bit I wrote/spoke. I don’t have all the answers or have it all remotely figured out, but I do pray that I’ll be able to listen and follow God and what he has in store for me, however that works or whatever that really means!! I don’t know what I’m meant to do with this life, but I do know I’m passionate about helping people, supporting people, and experiencing this journey with other people. So I really do hope he uses me to help others figure it all out too. 

    “Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You; We turn to You 

    Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You; We long for You

    ‘Cause when we see You we find strength to face the day

    And in Your presence all our fears are washed away”

    Always more questions 

    Finally for a faith based post after my weekend at Deep Impact. (The first one, at least!) I took lots of notes in the sessions at the weekend and it’s something I actually found really helpful. Jotting down either things that stood out to me because they made sense, or because they didn’t. And some were just quotes or song lyrics that I liked. The process of writing it all down and being able to look back over them helps me to process what I think. There was a large number of people sitting with pen and paper, or with the notes app on their phone, writing things down throughout the sessions. There were even people doodling or sketching away, using their own talents to make sense of what they were hearing. I really liked it, but how many people do that on a weekly basis in Church? Certainly in mine, very very few, if any. If I took a note pad out and started writing during the sermon I’d no doubt be judged for being weird, or being disrespectful and not listening, and would have to justify to some that it was actually taking notes to help me process what was being said, for the sake of strengthening my relationship with God. (Oh, and I can only imagine the response if I took my phone out to start taking notes!!) 

    Anyway, rant over 😉, I thought I’d share some of the questions I took down in the first session about prayer. I’m not sure how many people really read this blog and after posting 3 days in a row, anyone who did read it is probably bored now. But I’d be really interested to hear anyone’s opinions on the questions below. I had many discussions over the weekend, (and actually, there are parts that I’ve become closer to figuring out myself over the last couple of days) but would love to hear different people’s takes on it. So…

    How do we lead others to Christ if we haven’t experienced it for ourselves? It is difficult to get excited about a place I never go (prayer). How can I get others excited if I’m not? 

    This is actually something I had been thinking about prior to the weekend. I’m enthusiastic about my welfare role in the youth band, and I’m passionate about helping other young people develop their faiths…but I do feel like a bit of a hypocrite standing doing devotions or preaching at them when I’m pretty clueless and confused myself. Is that ok? Can we really bring others to God without completely understanding it or having experienced it ourselves? Is that possible? Without knowing if we’ve had that real experience of God? 

    Step beyond knowledge, and into experience of intimacy with God. 

    This point struck me quite hard and I love the way it is phrased. We can know everything there is to know about prayer and God, but there’s a huge difference between knowledge of it and experience and practice of it. 

    But how do you know if you’re doing it right? What constitutes ‘experience’? Is there a certain way to do it? A certain amount of practice that is needed to qualify as ‘experience’? (My reasoning behind these questions is that you could pray a prayer everyday, that is generic and has little thought or passion behind it…but does it still count as real prayer and intimacy with God? People often compare a relationship with God to a relationship with a friend, in that if you don’t put in the effort, your relationship will not become/remain close. If you only speak to a friend about superficial things and only do it out of habit, your relationship probably won’t grow. Surely the same thing goes here?) 

    It is easier to trust him and worship him wholly and passionately when we see his face and meet with him regularly

    But HOW do we ‘see’ him or ‘meet’ with him? What does this really mean? As I said in my last post, I am someone who values and craves deep relationships, and I would love to experience that with God – after all if what the bible says is true, then that should be the most special, important, and intimate relationship of all right? I just don’t really understand how to achieve it. 

    Any answers/suggestions/opinions would be welcomed! As I said in my last post, i love having proper honest conversations with people and I love the fact that this blog often opens up opportunities to do that! 

    “I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide, but i know we’re all searching for answers only you provide; ‘Cause you know just what we need before we say a word.” 

    Values and Relationships

    So as part of my homework for my Positive Psychology class, I had to complete a ‘strengths’ questionnaire. I’ve always loved filling out questionnaires of any kind (is that just me?!) , but particularly personality questionnaires. This one was a character strengths questionnaire, which is supposed to help you understand your core characteristics, by ranking 24 character virtues based on your responses in the questionnaire. It’s selling point is supposed to be that it focuses on your best qualities, rather than positives and negatives like other personality questionnaires do. I wrote a post about a year ago about the values I thought I had, but I thought i’d post the results this questionnaire generated. Interestingly, there is lots of similarity between what I thought my top values were, and what my questionnaire answers generate them to be.

    1. Judgment
    2. Spirituality
    3. Kindness
    4. Forgiveness
    5. Love
    6. Honesty
    7. Prudence
    8. Fairness
    9. Humility
    10. Perspective
    11. Love of learning
    12. Gratitude
    13. Social Intelligence
    14. Team Work

     

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    My top characteristic strength is:

    1. Judgment
    Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.

    Which, to anyone who knows me, or even anyone who’s read any previous posts of mine, shouldn’t be a surprise. If you read my last post in particular, you will be aware that I analyse and think a lot about things before forming opinions or conclusions. Combine this with prudence at number 7 (being careful about one’s choices) and you’ve got me described pretty well!

    Strength number 2…

    2. Spirituality
    Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

    Again, makes sense! My life is indeed shaped by my spiritual beliefs, and these beliefs do do provide comfort (amongst other things like confusion, angst, frustration haha!) Although, there is definitely some irony in the statement “having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe”… I have beliefs, but they are often far from coherent!!!

    Strengths 3, 4 and 6 are Kindness, Fairness and Honesty – which i would certainly like to think are accurate descriptions of me and my personality, as well as three things that are important to me and which I value in others too.

    5. Love
    Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing & caring are reciprocated; being close to people.

    I’m almost surprised this one isn’t a bit higher, as if I was choosing the order myself, I would have put this description right at the top I think! I wrote a blog post last night about relationships and friendships and then never posted it, so i’m going to combine it with this post as it follows on quite nicely from the description of the character virtue description of love…

    If you’ve read any of my other posts you will likely know that it is in my nature to be shy, quiet, and introverted. I prefer to listen and observe more than I do talk, particularly in larger groups, and I enjoy spending time on my own. I hate small talk and really struggle to do it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to speak at all. Like many introverts (many or most? I’m not sure), i love deep discussions, particularly about things that are important to me. Which is why I was so thrilled and energised by my weekend at Deep Impact. Not necessarily because of anything spoken about in the sessions (although some of that did have an impact..blog post still to come on that!), but because of how many real, honest, deep conversations I had with people.
    Throughout the weekend I had countless talks with people – real, open conversations – about faith, God, church, Salvation Army practices, youth work, plans, dreams, feelings, and just life in general. And it made me so happy. I don’t really mean that in a ‘beaming from ear to ear, cheesy smile’ kind of happy, but in a cliche, ‘it made my heart happy’, content kind of way. I had these chats both with people I would regularly speak to about ‘real’ things, and also others I wouldn’t generally talk to very much. From group discussions to conversations at dinner or in the car, there was plenty of honest chat this weekend. I didn’t always speak – sometimes I just sat at listened to other people being honest and open and truthful about their feelings or opinions, but either way it was so refreshing to have these sorts of exchanges.

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    Because all too often, in my opinion at least, we don’t. We internalise things, either afraid of what others will think if we start being really deep or even honest, or sometimes in the busyness of life we are rushing about and don’t get a chance to properly talk to even the people we love. And to me, that’s just rubbish. I think another introverted trait is craving deep connections with people. You don’t necessarily need lots of friends, but you invest wholeheartedly in the ones you do have and that are important to you, and things like authenticity and sincerity matter to you. The Grey’s Anatomy quote: “At the end of the day, all we really want is to be close to somebody” is so true, for me anyway.

    “And if you have someone in your life who you are grateful for — someone to whom you want to write another heartfelt, slanted, misspelled thank you note – do it. Tell them they made you feel loved and supported. That they made you feel like you belonged somewhere and that you were not a freak.”

    This quote is from a blog post by someone called Lisa Jakub. She is most well known for playing the oldest daughter of Robin Williams in the film Mrs Doubtfire, but she actually retired from acting not too long after that (have recently read her autobiography!) and is now a writer. I follow her blog, and find a lot of it relatable. She writes a lot about being introverted, and what it’s like to experience anxiety and be shy and a bit awkward. (Not hard to see why I relate to it ay?!) She wrote the quote above in a blog post some time ago, but reshared it on Instagram today and it just stuck out as it was so in line with what I’ve been thinking since the weekend about relationships. ((Side note – I was convinced I’d shared this quote before, but I’ve just scrolled through every one of my posts and can’t seem to find it, so maybe I haven’t, but no apologies for sharing it again if I infact have!))

    I am so deeply thankful for the people I would call my closest friends. When I sat and thought about it last night, not one of them is the exact same age as me, and there are very few of them who I see on a really regular basis, like Tv shows or movies portray friendships. But they are there for me, and they support me, they make me laugh, and they make me feel like I belong. Another quote Lisa Jakub uses is ’embrace your weird’, and my friends let me do that. There aren’t many places I feel comfortable to be ‘me’, but I’m grateful for the people who make me feel like being me is a good thing, even if I do have my quirks. (Lets face it, who isn’t a bit weird?!!)

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    I wholeheartedly agree with her quote in terms of telling the people who make you feel loved and supported and normal, just how much you love and value them. And I do try to do it as much as possible. Although I do sometimes feel like a nutter, and worry that they think the same!! (What if they think I’m weird and embarrassing for saying this? What if I’m annoying them? What if I’m reading it wrong and they don’t actually like me very much, and the relationship is one sided?) But I still think it’s important. I’ve written about this so many times from different stances, but I always come back to the same point of telling the people you love that you love them. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe sometimes they will think you’re mad. But sometimes it’ll be exactly the moment they need reminding that they are great.

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