Setting Christmas Expectations WAY Too High

Really don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re worth more than that!

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Christmas and the Holidays are about connecting.  It all started with a little family celebrating the birth of a baby, and the guests pretty much either brought their love (the shepherds) or a gift each (the kings).

When we think about having enough for Christmas, some years we’ll be financially able to King It Up, other years you’ll have a shepherds heart, both are completely acceptable to people who love you.

It is ok to “cut our coat to the cloth” and have a financially and emotionally manageable Holiday Period.   In the old days, tailors would decide what coat they were going to make based upon the quantity and quality of the cloth they had in front of them.  The more cloth, the fancier the coat, the less cloth, the simpler, but there was always a coat at the end of the cutting and stitching, they just had to assess what they had and decide how to proceed.

It is easy to want to give family and friends the exact gift they want, and sometimes/quite often we can do that.  But sometimes we can’t.  I’ve always gone as extravagant as I could and struggled in November – January.  This time folks will be getting cute, fun, ideal gifts which perhaps don’t require us to sell a kidney or rob a bank and although humbling, I’m completely ok with that now.

Have a diary so you don’t miss fun events, and have a good gift wrapping kit with scissors and a proper tape dispenser to make life easier, and book a day off work if possible or set aside a non-workday to prep, then enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be stressful, it doesn’t have to make us frazzled.  We decide how we react.

If the priority is in connecting with those we love, or in caring for ourselves during this period, we can’t go far wrong.  If we are invited and want to go, GO!  Don’t let worry stop us visiting with people we love and having fun or kicking up our heels.  If we are lonely, find someone to serve.  It is the quickest cure for loneliness.  If we are frazzled, stop and think about the people you are attempting to connect with through lovely festive food and a gift.  When we remember the who and why, the how becomes less fraught if we let it.  If we are overworked, simplify and delegate.  There is no prize for arriving at the holidays completely overwhelmed and fractious, we determine our destination and how we arrive there.

For me, it is the traditions of Christmas that I remember the most from growing up.  Wearing your nicest clothes and PJ’s, those little sausages in bacon during dinner, seeing Nan and Granddad, taking a couple of hours out on Christmas day to colour in the new colouring books with new felt tipped pens while laying on our tummies on the rug.  I don’t really remember exactly what gifts arrived, we had a few great ones to be sure, but what remains is how I felt during those Christmas periods.  Grandparents are no longer with us but I can still feel being pulled in to a hug by Nan with a big kiss on my forehead and I can still see Granddad laughing and chuckling to himself with tears in his eyes after making a dad-joke type pun.

If all we can do this year is bring a Shepherd Heart, we’ve done a lot.

Deluded works both ways

Staff kitchen conversations change lives

Talk in the staff kitchen turned to the re-organisation and how it was influencing the decisions of the other person in the conversation. We were speaking of mutual acquaintances and positive plans for the next year. 

Then he said: “well, if I presented myself half as well as you in irterviews I would be a very happy person”.

This is where is shone next

“Huh?!”  (See, told ya!)

“Yes, a couple of years ago I had the good fortune of interviewing you, don’t you remember?  It was the most impressive interviews I ever witnessed and when you left the room the panel turned to each other and said ‘wow!  I don’t know why we went with the other person, your interview was by far the most positive, stand out experience of that recruitment cycle'”

“I remember now.  Thank you so much for saying that, I really appreciate it. You never quite know how you are perceived by others and that helps, thank you.”

“I am serious, I would love to interview as well as you”

“Well, that is interesting.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t get the role, and embarrassed that you’d been there and didn’t know if I should just hide my face and pretend it never happened and never speak of it again with you!”

“Maybe conversations happen when they are most needed, maybe it is advantageous that we are speaking now instead of when the experience was fresh”.

Don’t you love it when the threads in the tapestry of universe comes together to create a beautiful picture just when you could do with it most?

Lip Service Repentance vs Restitution

Lip service repentance should not ever get a predator off the hook. Predators need to know that there is no space for them as wolves among the lambs. #twitterstake #bloggernacle

Many woman in the Church have a story about how they were recipient of really awful behaviour by a man in the Church.  Often the aggressor being someone in some kind of authority or who has jurisdiction over some aspect of their or someone else’s life and safety.  The purveyors of aggressive behaviour are not great in number but they are like chili flakes in a sugar pot – unexpected and unwanted.

The experiences sit around either someone being domineering and aggressive, a creeper, being completely inappropriate or verbally and or physically aggressive toward them.   

They have stories of how, in the Gospel, we are required to be forgiving so after taking the concern or fear to the Church authorities the survivor of this conduct drops it, leaves it alone, waits to be called back in for a follow up conversation but when this rarely emerges they try not to mention it again.   

Frequently the complainant does not perceive they are truly believed. 

But here’s the kicker, the Church authorities frequently “have a quiet word” with the person and perhaps the behaviour toward the complainant stops for a while, perhaps there is tension….  

But there is no actual restitution.   

Almost never at any point is an abuser expelled from the congregation, only once to my knowledge because police became involved and a person was sent to prison for their offence but otherwise I have never known of a predator or aggressor being expelled. 

Never are other women warned about the danger, the complainant does not receive an apology from the aggressor, I’ve never heard of a plan of action being shared with the complainant, and women talk! 

There is a disconnect. 

Predatory or Domineering behaviour is rife, it is everywhere, even sadly occassionally within the Chapel Building walls. 

Young Women of aware parents have been told by their vigilant Mothers “Stay away from that person by any means necessary…. Scream, shout, kick up a stink, be direct with your words, but never ever let them come near you, they are dangerous” and the child’s life is altered with this knowledge and they will never be a completely innocent child again. 

Young Women of other parents are not warned of the danger, and the parents either trust the Lord to protect their kids or hover like helicopter parents and the children never develop a sense of danger and warning and walk through life in a Doe-like fashion. 

First, Women need to be believed.  Leaders need to express their thankfulness that the women have been brave enough to share their experience and asked if they want help pressing charges. 

Second, the predators need to be held accountable to the highest standards.

Third, we need the loop to be closed, the complainant needs to be approached by the person with whom they shared their concern, they need to be thanked again, they need to be told what the consequences were for the aggressor and asked again if they want to press charges. 

Forth, the aggressor needs to apologise and make restitution in full. 

Lip service repentance should not ever get a predator off the hook.  Predators need to know that there is no space for them as wolves among the lambs.  They need to know that the shepherds have got their number and that there is no hiding place.  If predators leave because they cannot predate with ease, so be it.

The missing piece right now rests around accountability and closing the loop by reporting back and receiving a restitutory apology at the very least.

Lip service repentance does not negate the requirement for justice.  In fact, it elevates the requirement for justice because lip service repentance is a dangerous and manipulative weapon used by aggressors to evade justice and consequences.

 

Locked out the house

I looked down and in my left hand was a phone, not the usual set of keys, oh dear.

D’oh.  I did a fuzzy brained thing.  I normally hold my keys in my left hand but I was holding my phone.  I closed the front door and it locked and Missy and I were left standing outside with no access to the house.  We were stranded.  It was catastrophic.  It was freezing cold outside and we were dressed for church.  This was not good.

We tried to open the house using various methods.  Then I asked on FB for someone to come and collect Missy and get her in to the warm while I resolved this issue.  Then we called a locksmith who, knowing we were on the doorstep, gave us an appointment date of 13th of November, a full 8 days time.  Without cursing I think I reiterated we were on our doorstep now, he reiterated the appointment date and I hung up.

I called another service and they gave us an appointment time of 1 hour which was far more suitable.  During the hour wait we followed the winter sun around our front garden trying to stay warm like cats.  We could see a set of keys through the letterbox but neither us nor the locksmith when he arrived was able to get to them so we had to be drilled back in to our house.  Luckily I had a selection of door locks in a box to choose from as a replacement for the now defunct locking system, he selected a suitable one and voila, we had access to our home again.

Things I’ve learned from this escapade.

First, when you ask for help it will not be forthcoming, you’re on your own no matter how much people say they’ll “be there” and “anything you need”, what I needed was someone to take my daughter to the warmth of the chapel on a freezing Sunday morning while I sorted out these things.  Lesson learned.  I shan’t ask again.

Second, don’t lock the door behind you without checking what’s in your left hand.

Third, get the key-safe sorted out.  It does no good sitting in a box unutilized.

Forth, my house is pretty difficult to break in to (not tempting fate) even for a professional so that’s a positive.

Luckily it was a crisp morn and clear skies, luckily I had the spare lock ready, luckily our guy arrived in around an hour, luckily I had the cash to hire the locksmith, luckily luckily luckily.

Be safe, kids.  Make sure it’s your keys in your hand.

 

 

 

The surprise benefit of being free of bad debt

To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

I am pragmatic.  I decide to talk about positive things.  I believe we either talk and act ourselves in to or out of a happy life.  However I don’t care whether the glass is half full or half empty.  I know how much water is in the glass, I know what I am working with on any given topic.

So the benefit, or even blessing, of being unshackled by debt during a period of potential financial constraint is a superb comfort and reassurance.

Like everyone, I have income and expenditure.  Thankfully I was blessed with the moxy and ability to get out from under a serious financial burden in the tens of thousands of pounds range and reset the financial accounts to “we don’t have a lot but we’ve paid our taxes for the benefit of the country and what we do have is our own” as we paid down every debt we’d been left with.

When guaranteed income is in jeopardy we start to look closer at the expenditure side of the spreadsheet.  It has been one of the few delights recently that unlike previous times either house or income is at risk, this time I am not carrying a negative financial legacy like an albatross around my neck.

I have to find a way to generate revenue to cover our modest living expenses but I don’t have the worry of paying for things on instalments, I don’t have the worry of credit card debt, I don’t have the worry of consumer spending spread conveniently on an unreasonable monthly payment at an exorbitant APR.  I just have to make sure that enough comes in for Mortgage, utilities and groceries.  That’s it.  That is far less of an ask than carrying the worry of paying for something I bought and used up two years ago.

Being in this fortunate situation brings a degree of peace, a calmer disposition than I would otherwise have had.

It also frees me up to be flexible with regard to the future opportunities I can pursue.  I don’t have to find a position to cover Bills and Debts, I just have to find something to cover Bills and anything else is a bonus.  That is a freedom for which it would be hard to quantify the optimism and relief felt at the moment.

I am the head of my household and the responsibility sits on my shoulders.  Until you’ve been the head of the household you have no idea what so ever how heavily that mantle sits on the shoulders.  It is completely and utterly different to being the 2nd earner.  Head of the household is like being an Adult Plus.  Nobody is going to bail you out, you are it.  The buck stops at your feet.  The responsibility for keeping everyone in your abode alive, sheltered and fed sits with you.  Once you get the hang of it, it starts to sit easier a little but the knowledge in the back of your mind never actually quite goes away.

If I could wish for you one thing, it would be the freedom of being bad debt free.  It is worth the blood, sweat and tears, the overtime, the going without for a while, the humble birthday and holiday presents, the dinners in rather than takeaway or restaurants, the forsaking holidays in the sun or snow to reach the goal of being without that burden.

Bad times come for such are a part of earth life and mortality.  To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

 

Okayness and Friends

There is nothing Hippy-ish about life. It’s a hustle. It is hard work and it is just one big long wiggle. But I see the people in my life and I love them and I appreciate their kindness and kind honesty.

We received news that news will be forthcoming in two one week blocks.  That’s perfectly fine and dandy.  The night before we received news that news would be forthcoming I had to lullaby myself to sleep which is daft as heck because I know no matter how the chips fall, I’ll be completely fine. Continue reading “Okayness and Friends”