Monthly Archives: July 2007

Pay it forward

Alice of Legally Blonde fame recently posted the following: "I will send a gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on this post requesting to join this ‘Pay It Forward’ exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, but you will receive it within 365 days. The only thing you have to do in return is ‘pay it forward’ by making the same agreement on your blog."

I have left a comment, please consider this my blog based agreement to ‘pay it forward’. Who fancies joining?

Btw, those in search of further Plot Hatching should hopefully have found the fledgling by now. If not, keep looking. Clue: it is a duckling.

The Hatching of a Plot – in which things begin to take shape

After having spent a few years volunteering and carrying out some part-time admin work on a Community Farm, I joined the Other Side. The Other Side of the Office Door, that is, by becoming a mental heatlh support worker in a housing project. It appeared strange to me, at first, to reside in the little room with the confiidential files, the private staff conversations and the hushed phone calls. In previous years I had become more accustomed to the twilight zone environment, similar to that inhabited by the occupants of the house. However, I do believe that the insight afforded me by having known the zone was worth more, in some senses, than any amount of book knowledge and training sessions.

I chose not to make my history known to the tenants, in any sense, and only in a strictly limited sense to my colleagues. I have come to value discretion with regard to my own Achilles Heel, especially as it now only causes the occasional limp, rather than cripple me. Whilst I am aware of that, some would not be so accomodating. So my limp is just that, a limp, not the residue of something far more profound.

I have been in the area of support work ever since, gaining valuable experience and building towards what I see to be a pivotal point in my service of the Lord. This Plot is now on the verge of Hatching. Be on the lookout for a fledgling, WibFolk, for that is where this tale will begin in earnest…

The Hatching of a Plot – in which my offer is accepted

Following my offer to suffer, I actually had a few good years. University was, on the whole, a great deal of fun. I worked hard(ish), played hard (well, as hard as a CU-attending, bible study leading, keen young Christian student – with the faint whiff of fanaticism characterising the newly saved – ever does!) and generally enjoyed myself. It seemed as though, on the whole, I was becoming an accepted and functional member of society, even outside of the sub-culture that is both student and Christian. So far so good.

Then came the shock. The shock that could be called ‘real life’. I left Uni and spent an brief 6 month stint volunteering in Cardiff. Fish out of water does not even begin to cover it, fish in outer space may be closer to the truth. The sad conclusion to this was yet another period of mental instability, which lasted for a number of years. It involved full psychiatric intervention and a the involvement of ‘support services’ – you learn the jargon over time! Prayer ministry (for want of a better description) and removal from the rat race, which I had not even begun to get to grips with, played further roles in my recovery. Although I still ask myself if recovery is a term that one could ever claim, having been the victim of ones own psyche. Truly.

This time saw a return to Swansea (a Good Thing) and much love and support (in the truest sense) from people who will never, ever cease to be dear friends. I cannot underestimate how valuable this was, nor should I. I believe that having those who are on your side, no matter how unlike your ‘real self’ you become and how little you have to offer is a key element in emerging from mental torment (no, not a superlative!). I did emerge, though, an older and wiser person.

The next stage of this tale sees me beginning to use this hard earned personal insight…

The Hatching of a Plot – in which more of life is lived and some lessons are learned

We left this tale with me as a 6th form student, recovering from mental illness and getting to grips with my new-found faith. We also left me experiencing the joy of belonging. The next few years taught me a few lessons, some of which were hard, some not so.

These years saw my first boyfriend, my first break up, my first ‘proper’ birthday party (my 18th was fab) and my first academic failure. It is amusing, on reflection, to note that the ability I set most store by and from which I gained the vast majority of my self esteem was the first to take a blow, post-conversion. Of my three A-levels, I failed one and significantly under-achieved in another. Cue over-reactions and a sharp lesson in intellectual humility (still alot to learn there, I’m afraid!) The outcome of this, however, could be seen as my first tangible experience of grace. I was rejected by my first and second uni choices but, much to my surprise, Swansea (now a much-lover former home, but then only 2nd choice) offered me unconditional entry for one year later. No retakes, no further proof needed, just say ‘yes’. Understandably, I did say yes. I then spent the intervening year earning money and getting some real-world experience, both of which were to prove invaluable in terms of getting through university in one piece.

The other lesson only began at this time, the implications of which turned out to be pretty far reaching. I still remember to this day, sitting with my head in my hands and tears running down my face, being moved beyond anything I understood by the pain of others. I also remember uttering these words in prayer:

"Lord, I do not understand this. I promise you, if I need to suffer in order to be able to relate better to that which others are going through, then I am willing."

I was to learn that God tends to take this kind of offer very seriously….

The Hatching of a Plot – In which beginnings are found.

In order for this tale to unfold properly, I need to take you back to the beginning – i.e. my childhood. Some of you may know that I pretty much qualified as a misfit and outsider as a kid. It is not that I was dreadfully abused or anything, I guess I would have been called ‘harmless enough’ by those who knew me. In my experience, that means that someone is a bit odd and sometimes difficult to be around, but that they are not a real problem in any way. After all, it is easy to ignore a harmless person! This may seem irrelevant, but it did give me insight into how it felt not to belong or to be valued in any true sense. This is not uncommon, I am sure, but you defitnitely do not forget such feelings in a hurry.

This was my experience until I reached the 6th form of secondary school. A number of things happened then which, not to overstate the case, changed the course of my life. One of the key ones of these was that the mental health issues that had been bubbling under for most of my early years came to a head. They exploded in the form of a severe psychiatric illness. This could have marked the end, rather than the beginning, of any meaningful existence for me. However, I was provided with saving graces in the form of some faithful Christians and a group of quirky people in my 6th form class who made me feel like I had a place in life, possibly for the first time.

As a result of the love of the Christians and the acceptace of my mates, after a fairly arduous time nonetheless, I somehow moved from having a vague kind of faith to accepting the whole gospel message about Jesus. I am not one of those who can point to a ‘conversion experience’ but I do know that I passed from death to life at some point. I hesitate to use that ‘death to life’ expression but, out of all the trite and hackneyed ways one can refer to coming to faith (there’s another!), I think that this way of phrasing things is the most appropriate for me.

As many of us know, though, deciding to ally oneself with Christ does not mark the end of our troubles. Quite the opposite in fact. To find out more, keep watching this space…

Some Serious Stuff

A few posts prior to my tales of woe involving gravity, I promised you some feedback from the Caring for Life conference (please click link on the left if interested.) I have realised, however, that in order to make full sense of the outcome of Husband and Self going to the conference, I would need to backtrack. Quite substantially. Also, knowing the problems I have with brevity (i.e. the absence of, on the whole) I thought I would bring you up to date over the next few posts (hopefully over a few days, rather than weeks/months/milennia).

So, WibFolk, I invite you to watch this space for the unfolding of "The Hatching of a Plot – Pre-Flight Checks for a Fledgling Ministry."

That’s not flying – Part the Second

Note: Dithcam not available – mercifully.

Beneath my bed is a suitcase, it contains a number of items that I do not hang in my wardrobe due to:

a) lack of space
b) it being summer and some items being wintery
c) other items being rarely used (interview outfits and the like*)

Anyway, for some unkown reason, the zip on this sizeable case had been left open. The kitties decided that the contents, and the suitcase itself, were therefore cat toys – this being the natural order of things. Che amused himself by pulling things out and subsequently climbing into the space created. Lemur and Sherpa derived great joy from attacking him via the opening and walking on the bump he’d form from beneath the soft top of the case. I know this because I witnessed it whilst hanging over the side of the bed one lazy Saturday morining.

The next thing I noticed was that centre of gravity problem I tend to experience at times. My legs were on the bed and my torso was bent over the side to afford a good view of the kitty antics. My right arm kept this state of affairs stable by bracing me against the floor and my left hand clutched the edge of the bed. The problem with this contortion, as I discovered to my cost, was the fact that the removal of the right hand from the floor in order to lever oneself back onto the bed seriously compromises the sense of balance. A usual Dith response when faced with this is to slide, with requisite lack of grace, onto the floor in a controlled manner and stand up from there.

In this instance, I tried a different tack.

As Husband had also been enjoying the kitty antics I asked him to help to pull (er, heave?) me back onto the mattress. He tried manfully to oblige, but I am sadly no lightweight. We managed to get to the point where my right hand was no longer on the floor and Husband was struggling against gravity to land this Dithwhale on the bed-shore. It may have worked if I had not managed to inadvertantly twist his arm in the process. This resulted in a cry of pain from him, a lurch and the release of his hold on me.

I think I performed a triple salco with a double toe loop, but my landing was more noise than agility.

The cats skittered (thankfully unsquashed). I lay there, winded, marvelling at the fact that I had missed the stereo at the side of the bed and somehow rotated through 180 degrees whilst falling. My sheep slippers were bleating rather plaintively beneath my head, though, and Husband was apologising profusely . . .

. . . between howls of laughter!

*Not a truly accurate e.g. at the moment, given recent job hopping!

That’s not flying* – Part the First

Okay, I am bending to the pressure and bringing you the Typing Chair Story (Sorry, the chair only serves as a place for sitting, despite the apparant misnomer). This is the first of my gravity related stories, the other to follow when I have done something more useful than just blogging the following:-

The chair in front of the ‘puter at which I sit is a very comfortable leather one. It is high-backed, dark black, cushioned and runs very smoothly on five small castors. The ‘puter desk at which I sit is pretty cluttered and there are no suitable surfaces for paperworky type of stuff within easy reach. Hence I tend to use the other, slightly dodgy, typing chair for this purpose when I have lots stuff to deal with.

So far, so good.

The other day, I was playing about (!) with the papers on the dodgy chiar, disragerding such matters as

a) the distance between one chair and the other
b) the effect of this on my centre of gravity and
c) the behaviour of five small castors under such circumstances.

Hence – THUD!!!!!!! Plus &*!$£*(&%$"%&*!!!!!!!!!

Subsequently, I hoist myself from the floor with more than just my pride a little bruised and recommence the necessary dullness of home admin. However, being the person I am, my brain fails to retain the painful lessons.

Hence – THUD!!!!!!! Plus &*!$£*(&%$"%&*!!!!!!!!!

This was more spectacular, however. I landed directly onto my nice new box file containing my Fairtrade admin (it being on the floor, due to aforementioned space restrictions). This poor piece of stationery can now no longer be convincingly described as a box file, more likely a random-parallelogram file.

I completed the rest of my filing whilst sitting on the floor. Even *I* cannot fall off the floor!

*It is falling with style (Toy Story)


The most wonderful Hugh Laurie, with the help of Stephen Fry, do justice to a song I dislike.

I have my reasons!

(Thanks to SBW and Chas for my finding this. Has made my day!!!)

Correction: It was Spike and SBW, but hello to Chas anyway!

Random stuff

Sixteen comments on my ‘how did I kill the slugs?’ post! I’m sure that is the most I’ve ever received…which says something for the quality of my blog. I think…?

Sad Sis would like the typing chair story. If there is sufficient interest from other quarters, I may post it…

Husband and self went on a deeply spiritual and serious – actually, no, it was quite fun – conference last week (I was not just stringing out the slug fate debate, I was away!) I believe he posted some stuff about it, watch this space for my angle on things.