Friday, 2 May 2014

Day Five......we are at the end of ourselves and our resources!

Looking in our 'pantry' we discovered that we have plenty of 'the same' to be able to eat a bit more of 'the same' today than we have all week.

So Tom and I found our mouths watering at in anticipation of a huge veg curry for tea and Elyse was delighted to discover that she can have 4 slices of pizza toast.

However, we had to get through the rest of the day first.

Fuelled by 2 eggs on toast for me and Tom, and a cheese toasty for Elyse, we set off for our various daily programmes - the kids to school, including PE, and me, dropping the car off for a service and then commencing my volunteering duties at my church.

(Context - I work 4 days a week and always had a mind to volunteer for another organisation to see how they do their family work. I was hopeful of a role with family counselling charity, but we just couldn't get it together to organise when I would do the training, let alone actually be let loose on families, so - actually against my better judgement, but i really think God knows best - today and for the foreseable, my church has the pleasure of my company during the week)

I am supporting the Toddler Leader, and trying to join dots for families in terms of the other Family Programmes we run at the Church, and so setting up, sorting out and being allocated to manage the painting zone and chatting (yeay!) was my lot for this morning. The leader also knows me in my work capacity so she invited me to lead the song time at the end too - so she could see what I did.

I was shattered by the time we had energetically motivated everyone in those classic action songs that pre school kids love - I was actually sweating (eugh) But we still had Grand Old Duke of York, Ringa Roses and Prayer Time to cover. I was mortified to forget the words to the prayer that the group recite - my mum bailing me out from the storage cupboard, which was actually hilarious!

Then the centre manager wanted to see me and all I wanted was my lunch ( rice, veg and pasta sauce)
Anyway, we had a great chat with one of the other employees about mission and inductions for volunteers etc and I had a spectacular brain dump, totally loosing track of what i was going to say. I still don't remember!!

Then came the phone call from the garage about going to collect the car - do you know what, I just couldn't face getting on the bus and going to to collect it, so I put that off til tomorrow.

A trip into the town to buy birthday cards and prezzies for my dad's birthday, which is tomorrow, just about finished me off and then - oh man - I had to WALK home. I had a flashback to when I was a kid 'schlupping' home from school carrying a bag ( not a rucksack, a shopping bag) which I recall weighed as much as me. It was all I could do today to not put the handles of the bag around my head, as I used to back in day!!

I think I will take the musing that I mumbled about during the week, concerning not having enough nutrition to function as me this week, away with me and the actual sadness I feel about some people, some 1.2 billion people currently,having no idea of what they could do and be, if only they could afford a better nutritional diet.

Elyse has realised that being tired, achey and moaney for a week is a small price to pay to raise awareness of the issue.

Thomas has discovered that food poverty sucks and that he's hungry even after massive extra veg curry.

Today has seen a huge jump in our donations and we are very grateful - knowing that people are rooting for us has made this really exciting actually.

Worthwhile? Who knows? I guess if next year, LBTL is still looking to raise awareness of 1.2 billion people, or even worse 1.3 billion people, then we might been to rethink, or people higher up might need to consider a new and better way of eradicating poverty.

It's a tough one!!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Day 4 - Mis-spellings and Misunderstandings

We all woke up and agreed that we feel weak and feeble - I felt like you do when you have got out of swimming pool after being in it for about an hour and the lack of buoyancy makes you feel like you weigh about 10 tonnes!

Tom was keen to show me his ribs which are 'quite promenent' now so I decided he should take emergency biscuits into school with him - alongside his 'delicious' wholemeal bread, sans mould!

I was later than normal into the office today owing to traffic and can normally handle the ( hopefully) good natured teasing that generally goes along with misdemenours , but today I really took it personally - ridiculous, but true. Paranoia is setting in!!

Then the actual work - oh my goodness - and you have to know that this blog is taking ages as I am mistyping and mis-spelling pretty much everything. I don't seem to have the hand/eye/ keyboard coordination required to do this anymore. So I was glad that someone came to see me this morning, and as my speaking hasn't been affected (!!) I did ok apart from loosing my train of thought and forgetting people's names. Fortunately my colleague was wonderfully understanding and we did some good work.

I am not hungry, but clearly the food I am eating is not giving the nutrients that I need to be me.

Getting in from work, I discover that the children have also had a tough day, not fancying doing their homework ( actually unusual) and telling me that frustrations at school led one of them to feeling really angry.

I am glad tomorrow is our final day and I am so glad that people are sponsoring us to make this final struggle really worthwhile.

I guess the point is, some folks live like this and they might never know what they could really be like because for them, their meagre rations are all they will ever have.

Tom is craving weetabix, I am craving digestive biscuits and my mind back, and Elyse is craving a pancakes and bacon.

But tomorrow we have to run the gauntlet of eggs and toast, rice and pasta sauce and rice and curry sauce ,.......with the famous frozen mixed veg.

Keith has promised to purchase the ingredients for a slap up breakfast on saturday morning.I know I will feel guilty to eat it....but not for long!

Thanks for journeying with us!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Day 3 - quick catch up...... I am now off to Christianity Explored and will have to avoid eating Pizza for tea. Other than that, I am really looking forward to week 2 with our amazing group of 7 delegates and 5 team members.

Actually am full up on the Egg Fried Rice, which I shared with Tom, which was really delicious.

Elyse had 2 slices of white bread pizza - plastic cheese and tomato and chilli puree ( special offer)

DRAMA for Tom and I as our budget wholemeal bread is showing signs of mould!!

So we chopped off the crusts and sorted through to find the slices that had not succombed. It was a worry for a while.

It is now in the freezer.

Not much to report really on LBTL conversations other than with work friends who are either on it or are planning to be on it.

However, I did say hello to our new neighbour across the road who is living in a bit of a building site at the moment. I empathised - we have lived like that twice in this house.

Anyway, she invited me in to see how it is all going. Thinking about making her a cake at the weekend as she was at a funeral today too.

It's going to be amazing when its finished though and I really didn't think she was in the mood to hear about MY week long challenge when she's going to be living in a bit of a mess for some time.

The REAL Day Two - Tuesday ( Craving a Cuppa)

No headaches today!

Tom decided he would take rice and veg to school instead of 'just bread' - 'it was nice' apparently.

Elyse's thermos let her down and so she is now off beans for life - ' that smell'.

My lunch was pasta , sauce and the ubiquitous frozen mixed veg. I got bored about 2/3rds through.

Messy Church this evening, so we arrived after eating at home and had to run the gauntlett of delicious cooking smells at church AND a riot of cake and cookies for dessert - the kids found that REALLY tough.

Messy Church was about Noah and the God's Promises - he always keep them. I found myself promising MYSELF a whole POT of tea on Friday!

Tom and I did share a teabag when I got in from work - it was that or a couple of biscuits. Honestly,one day without tea and I was making noises like I was eating a gourmet meal!! Weird.

Anyway, good conversations with people at Messy Church about why we are doing this. Although the money we are raising will go to Reducing Poverty Projects overseas, there is much talk about the needs in UK. People seem to be able to equate with that more that thinking about what happens in Africa for example. I talked about the irony of the fact that the food we were relying so heavily on this week - rice - is the same food that those people overseas would be eating, and growing and often finding themselves exploited over. It's a complex issue

Monday, 28 April 2014

Day Two

Uneventful I suppose and a little bit excited - looking forward to Egg Fried Rice tomorrow.

Elyse was very organised today, taking a flask of saucy pasta. Tom - suffering with hayfever this morning - not so, just taking 2 slices of bread into school which was clearly not enough. However, he held to the Line and his snack, when he got in, was a bowl of rice rather than 2x Granary bread smothered in Nutella - yeah no chocolatey knife left 'on the side'

I have had a headache all day, but I think it's a bit early to be suffering withdrawal from tea and coffee, so possibly I am just tired ( and possibly not related to LBTL just yet). Many apologies to a work colleague who suffered my yawns while we were having a chat this afternoon.

My overriding feeling is currently horror at the huge reliance we have placed on carbs - our protein coming from eggs and kidney beans.

Chats on FB about accepting a cup of tea from someone else - if it's not in our allowance we can't have it. Sad Face!!

You do become aware of how may places there are to buy food, how many people just walk along the street willy nilly eating something with no thought, not savouring every mouthful...mind you, savouring thin pasta sauce?

Still I am blessed that we do not need to eat porridge - eggs and toast again tomorrow and NO BISCUITS OR TEA AT SMALL GROUP..........Sad Face!! ( again)

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Living Below the Line 2014

So, here we are again, preparing to live on £1 a day for 5 days in order to support The Salvation Army raise funds to educate and empower people in our partner territories out of poverty.

No - what we are doing is not comparable to how those people live. I still have my car, my house, my tv, all my 'mod cons'.

I also still have to function as a human being and in my job - last time I did this we were on a week long holiday, so although I recall the tiredness and detox pains and pangs, I didn't have to drive to, for example Basildon or Hatfield Peverel and I didn't have to operate a laptop, be mildly coherent most of the time and could have a little snooze if the feeling overwhelmed me.

What this is doing is raising awareness once again, that people overseas and actually in the UK have to live below the line every single day of the week. Handouts are relatively cheap compared to the long haul need for education and belief that it takes to change a paradigm in some cases

This afternoon, with my personal £5 budget x 3,Elyse Tom and I hit the supermarket and were astonished once again and how expensive everything is, yes even the Budget Brands, which is where we spent our allowance.

Sunday lunch is nicely digesting away and I have a nice hot cuppa on the table which I will enjoy - in fact I will have a few more before turning in later this evening and looking forward to a challenging week - Small Group tomorrow evening, just water please. Messy Church on Tuesday - we'll arrive after tea probably.....and it goes on.

£5 - 5 days.

Sponsor us here

Monday, 24 March 2014

Where are all the Older People? (Health and Safety Warning and some thoughts about death)

Following on from last time, I have undertaken ( not related to death, you understand, but kind of topical to this post - keep reading and don't judge me early on) three sort of consultations regarding the Older People's Strategy I am working on.

I say 'consultation', more a fact find actually, and apart from today's, which was a very intimate affair and had a couple of action points resulting from it, not sure entirely what I have discovered yet, other than older people, and I mean much older people, have really interesting stories.

I am encouraging lots of older people, and I mean really older people to write books and even found myself offering to return to a group to facilitate a Group Story Tell and Scrap Booking session!

To be honest anyone who has spent time with older people will know that they can spin ripping yarns, grounded in real life, which is what makes them ripping - the lady who was an engineer during WW2 and ended up driving some General around in an Army car that she had 'souped up' some how, the lady who was in the RAF and still wears her badges on her jacket, the lady who has outlived her children and has a special story for each one - tissues required.

On reflection, my fact findings are uncovering that fact that there are not enough people with enough time to listen to the stories, well, actually listen to the people.

Another fact is that Older People are getting much older which means there are more of them and the younger older people (3rd age) are REALLY different from the older older people ( 4th age) which is why my mum says that she is not old and can't engage with older people.

Mind you, the 94 year old I met the other day,even though she recognised that her body was fragile and frail would not say that she was see we have a problem.

HOW can I work on a strategy for Older People when no-one will admit to being an older person?

Going back to turing 50 and my reticence to embrace it AND the denial that many people seem to be in about their age, I think that it is because we, as a nation, and a church do not really value Old Age. (leaving that one hanging for now)

Relating to Death - linked to the undertaking joke - I am in the midst of a mission to shake up the taboo of talking about Death. ( perhaps lots of people already are and I am a bit behind the times, I don't know). I am wondering about death.

You see, it stands to reason that embracing the idea of aging, also means embracing the idea of some point. I know that death is no respecter of age, but if we want to live a long and happy life it will, in a 'shifting off this mortal coil kind of way', end at some point.
After having read 'Spiritual Formation' by Henri Nouwen and particularly  the chapter called 'From Denying to Befriending Death' (twice) I think that to get to know death before I really need to grapple with it might be a good idea - all things being equal, if you know what I mean.

Here's something to think about:
'Nature has given me a new face at 74, and it's up to me how I'm gonna wear it.

I have no romantic feelings about my age, but I just feel and think I am newer every day. When I die at 90, I'll be newest to face my creator. He deserves my new look' 
So with all that in mind, I am going to end with a prayer, by Henri - who was a Catholic.

Oh Lord, when shall I die? I do not know and I hope it will not be soon. Not that i feel so attached to this life.....(hmmm - me, not Henri)......but I feel so unprepared to face you. I feel that by letting me live a little longer, you reveal your patience, you give me yet another chance to convert myself, more time to purify my heart. Time is your gift to me - Amen

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Adding a String to the Bow...whatever that means!

Having been inspired by Matt White who is currently blogging about a new 'phase' in his life - that of becoming a dad, I thought I would put some thoughts down about a new phase in my life and one that is now meshing with my work.

This year I, along with a number of my friends and all the people in the world born in 1964, turn 50.


I'm not sure how I feel about this other than I am aware of wrinkling my nose up when I tell people, so subconsciously, I guess I am not overly happy about it. ( I am wrinkling up my nose now!)

How does this fit with my work?

 Well for the last two years I have been working in the area of Family and in my denomination - The Salvation Army - the role of Divisional Family Officer, which is what I am, has covered pretty much all of life from cradle to grave but with a specific and traditional weighting towards Older People's Ministry.

However, up until now, I have been in the position of being able to focus on other areas of family - Troubled families, Corps Family,  Community Family and Intergenerational Family, while a colleague has, amongst other things, been working on an piece around Older People with a view coming up with a new strategy for this group.

I am now inheriting this piece of work and my colleague's incredible research has enabled me to feel confident in the way I might progress the next phase of the work - I am pretty comfortable in strategy, but have been thinking that I am going to have to learn to love the ministry aspect.

Anyway, while I know that there is a real spectrum when it comes to aging and that there is much to do in challenging the perception of age, the simple fact is that we all do want a long and happy life.

The reality is that our bodies and possibly our minds and even our children might not be able to keep up with our ideas of what we hope that will look like.

So, I hope to share here my reflections and findings and maybe even some wisdom as we go along.

Something to consider:

Would you rather ' Grow Old Gracefully' or do you ' Dare to Age Well'?