Exploring London…

A couple weeks ago I realised that I had never been to London on my own. I knew the reason for this was my anxiety, but that same week I had decided that I was going to fight this. I was going to fight my depression and anxiety head on and not let it beat me.

So here I was on a Wednesday morning, packing my rucksack with everything I thought I would need and off I went. After a quick stop off at Dad’s church, he dropped me off at Watford Junction and I was on my way…no turning back now…trust me, the anxiety was winning…my illogical part of my brain was telling me that everything would go wrong and I should just go home and lie in bed. But I thought the better of it and pushed through.

After a quick check to make sure I had enough on my Oyster card, I ran into one of my old school friends and instantly the anxiety reduced. Instantly I was calmer. Turned out that he was headed for the Science Museum which is directly behind the Natural History Museum. The anxiety for travelling had almost completely disappeared at this point and the other fears and anxieties built up. But again, I didn’t give in. I powered through.

About 30 minutes later and there I am, standing in front of the Natural History Museum. Now my plan had been to spend the day there, meandering through all the different sections and reading as much information as possible. However, the second I walked through the doors, I realised that that wasn’t going to happen. It was so incredibly busy, and boiling hot! Not a great combination when you are already struggling with anxiety!

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I tried to enjoy myself as much as I could but after about an hour, I gave in and left. I moved on to the Victoria and Albert Museum, hoping that that would be quieter, unfortunately, it wasn’t. So after a quick dash through the V&A and a quick pep talk from someone special, I picked up the guts, ignored my anxiety and decided to go to the British Museum.

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The British Museum has always been one of my favourites as it includes a lot of ancient Egyptian history and Ancient Greek history, two of my favourite topics!! Yes, it was busy and hot like the other 2 museums, and yet my anxiety was a lot less there.  I was able to distract myself with all of the awesome history that surrounded me. I drowned out the illogical brain and all of my anxieties, I was actually able to enjoy myself!

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Multiple hours were spent here just wandering around looking at all the different artefacts and then realising two important things:

1) How many plaques said ‘now missing’ or ‘now destroyed’ and it made me sad to think about how much history we have already lost and would never be able to discover!

2) That the Natural History Museum didn’t have any information that I saw about the current crisis and what we can do to help to stop more extinctions, etc to happen.

The journey back really tested my anxiety and fear though. It was just before rush hour, but people were already there and pushing. I decided to let one train go as it was so busy and full that I knew it would be a recipe for disaster. The next train was practically empty and I was able to avoid a near-certain panic attack.

Now for those who don’t suffer from anxiety, this day just sounds pretty calm and ‘normal’. For me, however, it was a HUGE step. It allowed me to see that I can push through and not let anxiety run my life. It also showed me that London isn’t such a scary place to explore on your own! Would I do it again? Definitely!! I’m already planning my next trip in!!

If you suffer from anxiety…what do you do to stop it? How do/did you overcome it?

Song

One of my favourite songs is the well known hymn ‘this is my Fathers world’. It tells me that no matter what He is in control!

It does not always feel that way…. the week started out with me being stuck in France for a day due to a cancelled flight. The plane had something wrong with its software and was not cleared to fly. I arrived a day later at my destination Costa Rica. And that while my work is so busy… a day makes a difference!

On Wednesday England lost the semi final football game to Croatia… I am not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I also got swept up in the hype and the ‘catch phrase’: it’s coming home! Instead we get to support either France or Croatia in the finals… and England gets to wait another 4 years..

My back is slowly getting better…

and on Friday it was the 13th… not that I am superstitious, but don’t you sometimes wonder? And avoid black cats?

That’s when that song comes back in my thoughts… the last couple sentences are as follows:

This is my Father’s world:

why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

And that is exactly what I am doing…. be glad!! Enjoy nature… He is in control!!

Ponderings

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind in the truest sense of the word…I have been to both the east and the west, and find myself once again in America.

Time sometimes goes so fast, you just want to grab it by the horns and say: ‘hey! Slow down!’

I so wish I could… grab the thing that I love, slow down time and speed it up when the times are a little more complex.

Life is not like that though… you have to take the good with the bad and make the best of it.

For that very reason I decided to tattoo a phrase on my foot to remind me of the most important thing in my life… ‘saved by grace’. He died for me so I can live eternally… I will have all the time in the world then… I can do all the things I long to do but can’t make the time for… hang with friends, work in the garden, knit and crochet, be with my family, enjoy the golden streets and my mansion He is preparing for me… I can’t wait!!!

Philippines

Am not sure what I expected. For sure I had not looked at the map to actually find out where it was located… I just knew it was a long journey to get there… leaving Saturday, arrive Sunday evening…. skipping 7 hours in time difference for a few days, till the journey would be done in reverse.

Travelling for work is a recurring theme. I like spending time with the people that use the system I helped implement, and visiting them in their location is a great way to find out how we are doing. Visiting the Shared Service Centre in the Philippines meant going to another country I had not been before….

Driving from the airport to the hotel and I was already impressed and confused at the same time. Run down houses next to military installations… very busy roads with very big cars… very cool little busses (Jipnee) and rain… the hotel I was staying in was in the BGC area (Bonifacio Global City): a beautiful very well maintained area. Full of very modern high rise buildings, many shops and restaurants… as I said, very different from what I expected.

I travelled there together with another colleague, who had luckily been there and knew were to go…

The office was modern, the people very very friendly… and luckily we had a little time to see beyond the office walls… we visited all sorts of areas and restaurants… I loved it all..

Below a few pictures…

A few things I learned during the trip: the food is not so spicy but very flavoursome, rainy season means rain…., the service mentality can be found everywhere, people are very friendly, and I would like to return sometime to actually do some sightseeing.

During the trip I read a book: ‘Left To Tell’, the story of Immaculee and her ability to forgive after having survived the Rwanda Genocide. A read worthy book. I recommend it. She recalls her experience of survival and reminds us that love and forgiveness can tear down the walls of hatred. God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.

I don’t know why I chose this business trip to read the book.. one sentence in the book really spoke to me….’see the world as it could be, not as it is’…. and that is what I am taking to heart… this trip it was very easy to respond kind to kindness shown. The Philippino is so kind, the world is kind….

The real question is, when times are not so easy, or when you are not welcomed with open arms … will you still see the world as it could be? And love and forgive unconditionally?

This is something I am working on….

Castles and Marshmallows

Today we entered Wales, always such a special feeling. Melody studied in Bangor and we made many a trip up there. This was the first time back since she finished 3 years ago.

I know it, I am a shopping addict… so first stop? Farm shop and Welsh food centre. I love it! The fresh fruits and veggies, the lovely breads, the sheepskins, cakes… with a smart car you have to be economical with stuff, but a little bara brith cake and a Welsh lovespoon at least did fit in the car!!!

The next item very high on my list… castles!!!! Bodelwyddan, Conwy and Penrhyn castles.. bygone eras and tales of knights and fair maidens… my imagination knows no bounds when I see the beautiful castle walls… don’t you hear the shouts of Ivanhoe?

Our stop for tonight is Llanfair Hall, a little glamping pod (www.llanfairhall.com) … when you camp, you have to have fire… and where there is fire… marshmallows!!! Melody is expert, mine just burn… those are the best though, with a little crust….

I never want to go back to England.. I am in love with Wales!

UK Roadtrip

As I sit here in the sunshine, am pondering the last couple days. Moving was stressful… what to throw, what to bring, what do we now have double… etc.. another thing that worried me was a car.. as I had moved to the US for a year we sold my little convertible.. and now the pressure was building to buy a little 2nd hand car.

I knew what I wanted, and although it took a little convincing for the rest of the family. They know I like shopping and it’s the smallest car ever… but I now had a little blue smart car waiting for me…

We took it out on sabbath, driving to London where Geert had to speak at an afternoon service…. I can make the car work…. yes, it’s tiny… but we will be fine…

Sunday morning Mel and I packed the car for a couple days camping in Wales.. the car is small!!! But we made it and are now sitting on a garden sofa, having a drink, and enjoying the sunshine… what will tomorrow bring? Destination Anglesey!!! My favourite area in Wales, and something I missed a lot… sea and tea with scones. Yum!

Exploring Cornwall

So as I mentioned in one of my previous blogs (Taking Time for Yourself), dad and I went on a little minibreak to Cornwall. The reason for this trip was that dad had been asked to play the drums at Live in a Field in Chapel Porth (a camp filled with worship and activities) and of course I would join. Who wouldn’t want to escape their everyday life to be beside the ocean for a couple days??

Thursday afternoon came and it was time to drive down…we were expecting awful traffic and a long journey, however, we had managed to beat the bank holiday traffic!! Before we knew it (and after a quick stop off at Mcdonalds) we had arrived in Cornwall. We had decided to rent an Airbnb near the campsite and found a cute flat in Porthtowan. The one downside was that we arrived in the dark and there is no phone signal in Porthtowan. So finding the flat was an adventure…but we managed to find it (a stone’s throw from the beach!) and we settled in and got an early night.

The next morning we woke to dense fog and thick cloud cover…not the weather you hope for when you’re going to the beach…however, I put my wellies on and dad put his trainers on and off we went for a morning walk on the beach. Porthtowan beach is gorgeous, if you ever find yourself in Cornwall, definitely go!! And if the weather is nice…treat yourself to some Cornish icecream from Moomaid of Zennor!! We went looking for shells and found none but did a quick beach clean whilst we were there. After a little exploration, we decided to head over to Trevaunance Cove which had been a favourite spot of ours for the last couple years. However, the beach cafe had been changed and didn’t have the same cosy feel that it had had over the last couple years. So after a quick coffee and a seal or two spotted, we went for another walk on the beach and explored some of the caves.

It soon became time for us to head over to Chapel Porth campsite for dad to drop off his drums and a quick catch up with some friends before heading over to St Ives for a spot of lunch and a quick wander around the beautiful town, and of course another ice cream! We then headed back to the camp for the evening worship and headed off for an early night.

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Saturday morning, dad headed back off for a pretty full day at the campsite. I had decided to take the day for myself and explored the coastal paths between Porthtowan and Chapel Porth. Dad met me halfway and we continued on exploring some of the ruins that Cornwall has to offer! That evening we had a lovely concert filled with Lily-Jo, Speak, Brother and Volney Morgan & New Ye. So no early night for us!

The next morning we were promised sunshine and it definitely came through!!! Blue sky and glorious sunshine! Nothing could beat that! So off we went for ice cream (that I mentioned above) and a quick walk up the coastal path to a viewpoint. After an hour of not spotting anything, we decided to have a quick bite to eat. Whilst eating, we saw the fog coming in and before we knew it…the view was gone! The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see far in front of you at all! So off to Starbucks for a coffee and then back to the camp.

That evening we had the last concert filled with Daughters of Davis and Philippa Hanna. Once that was done, we packed up dads drum kit and headed back to our normal lives. It was a whirlwind of a trip but one that was much needed.

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What do you like about minibreaks?  What do you like to do relax?

Also, check out or Cornwall 2018 Vlog for a more detailed look at what we got up to!!

Fort Snelling

My apartment is now almost empty, just the cleaning left to do. 3 more days and I am moving out. My year in America has come to an end. However, yesterday was my Sabbath day, so no cleaning involved. Instead I visited a local state treasure and historical side. It was open for the weekend, before it opens for the season in 2 weeks.

Fort Snelling is a fort build at the crossing between the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. A strategic point to be able to see what’s coming from both sides. In these days a pretty idillic spot, from days gone by. It was not always perceived like that though, as it’s also an area where the Native Americans were driven from their lands and send to another state. It’s Dakota land, and for some reason it resonates with me.

Maybe it’s because I am adopted and know very little about my birth family and sometimes feel myself like I am driven off my land. Or maybe it’s because I have felt a little lonely this past year, away from my family and friends. Or maybe it’s just the historical movies talking… over the last couple years my family and I have visited various of these historical areas, learning about the Dakota and other tribes ways of lives.

In today’s day and age, where everything is fast, often changing and hard to keep up with, their lives looked to have a simpler purpose. Gather food, gather families and enjoy the spiritual.

Back to Fort Snelling, a kind of open air museum, with few re-enactments scattered through the day. I had visited before, on an equally hot day, but still enjoyed seeing the living quarters, hearing about the story of Scott Dredd and seeing where they were gathering their foods, enjoying their lives. A fort is a military place, so learned that the soldiers came through this place till just after the Second World War. More recent than I would have thought.

Below a few snaps.

Now am looking forward to coming back to England, where the age of my house would be visited like a relic here in the US…

Another Friday Rivercruise

About a year ago, Melody and I took a cruise down a part of the St Croix river, from Taylors Falls. A beautiful trip, I blogged about it previously and posted pictures.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of peace I had then, after busy days of preparing for the movers arrival next Monday. So I booked a river cruise on another part of the St Croix river. This time from Stillwater.

The weather forecast was showing rain, but when I arrived there were very little clouds in the sky and it was beautifully sunny. I could pick my spot as I was early… top deck near the front. I missed my chatterbox daughter… but the instant peace of being on the water was there…

There is nothing more calming to me than the sound of the water, with beautiful birds up in the sky. Especially my favourite in this part of the world… the bald eagle. Such majestic soaring over the waters…

It always reminds me of the sermon Geert preaches often.. the song of Moses in Deuteronomy, where he compares the father Eagle to our Heavenly Father. Soaring, watching, feeding, and there to catch us when we fall. Seeing these eagles puts things in perspective. He is in control…

‘When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the Storm. Father you are King over the flood, I will be still and know You are God…’

Enjoy the weekend, my soul is calm.