Hidden Talents

It seems ridiculous to me now, how many years I spent thinking the talents I wanted to pursue weren’t ones which I should do. When I was younger, I danced. I loved Ballet most of all and dreamed of being sent off to a Ballet Academy and becoming a prima ballerina. Perhaps my parents were right to squash this dream, I’m not sure I’m really built for the ballet and I’m pretty lazy, really. Certainly, when my mum said “Look, you’ll have to chose between ballet and boys” it wasn’t a really difficult decision. I quit dancing when I first fell in love with someone other than Tchaikovsky.

Writing, my other passion, was always something secret and almost too indulgent. A little like hiding in your room and eating an entire box of chocolates. I never believed I could do it as a career, and so I didn’t even bother to try. That is changing now, of course.

Because of this, I am always really impressed with people who follow their dreams, even when it might be terrifying, or might bite them in the arse.

I’ve come across a few friends like this in the last week. Firstly, my old teaching mentor and head of department, who recently came second in the Funny Women Awards 2011. Her stand up was excellent and, if you ever get a chance to see her, you’ll understand why I was so terrified of her giving me feedback after observing my lessons!

Then, there was the Wordman, who snuck off to a poetry reading while I wasn’t looking and delivered one of his most beautiful poems. He’s a natural. Watch out for him! (I have another friend who had a Spoken Word set at Bestival this year. Ouch!)

Finally, I came across Upcoming Rapper – Velocity (you can find him on facebook). A student mentioned him in class today and told me to look him up on YouTube. I used to be his tutor. I’m not sure whether to be really proud, or a little terrified… I’ve decided to stick with proud.

I am surrounded by creative people these days. I have often been intimidated by the Creatives. But, given how I’m enjoying the novel writing, I’m going to try being one of them, instead.

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In the palm of God’s hand

It’s no secret that God and I haven’t been all that close in recent years. I think we had a series of misunderstandings that led to me packing the whole thing in. And yet, I’m beginning to suspect – as many have before me – that He’s kinda been there waiting the whole time.

I was talking to the BFF the other day, and was reminded anew of what a blessing she is in my life. “I have an image in my head” she said, “of you, sitting in the palm of God’s hand. You’ve spent the last few years desperating struggling against him. Trying to jump off. Trying to struggle free. And all the time He’s just been smiling and keeping you close”. It’s a beautiful image, and one that really spoke to me.

I guess I did with Religion what I often do. I wanted it to be perfect. I tried to learn all about it. But Faith isn’t like any other academic subject. It isn’t academic at all. The more I learned about the Bible and about the Church, the less it all made sense. I had all the answers, but I wasn’t asking any of the right questions. “I know you’ve already been saved” said the BFF, “So I don’t worry about you”. There’s a lot there that I should listen to. I have been struggling to get along in life for so long, when really I just needed to sit back and remember that I’ve already sorted the most important thing in life. I’ve already met God. I can rest, now.

Which doesn’t mean I’ll be going back to Church. I think I’m still a long way from finding that useful. But I am reading a book, which my LittleSis bought me for my birthday. “Divine Nobodies: Shredding Religion to find God”. It’s about a minister of a Church who burns out. He loses the love of Religion. He learns to find God in the little people again. In the little things. I’m not a fan of religion (despite teaching about it three days a week), but I might just be able to find a way to be a fan of God, again. In the end, wasn’t it Jesus who spurned the Pharisees and spoke out against ritual and the like taking over from a real relationship with God? I think, for a little while at least, God won’t be too cross if I don’t try and join in at the local Sung Eucharist on a Sunday… although my Earthly Father might have something to say about it.

Lampeter

I have a recurring nightmare. It is the first day of term at University. I can’t find the department building and I know I have to pick up my timetable. When I eventually find the place, it turns out I have an essay due, and I don’t even understand the title.

I think it goes back to the deep-seated fears I still have about University. That I didn’t study hard enough, and that I didn’t really fit in with those people on my course. I made some of the best friends I have ever had at Uni, but none of them were Theology students. I guess I imagined I would meet other people. people on my course, who would stay my friends forever… Instead, I found they didn’t like me much. (There is one exception, and she is still a friend on facebook. She, I think, embodies Christ in the world… although I often only ever asked her for notes before an essay was due. She has continued in her ministry, and I am thankful for her – Kath Black – every day)

It is at about this time of year when I remember those first weeks at Uni. I see my A-Level students head off for bright futures and I wish I could give them the advice I felt I never had… But I’m still not sure what it is… I was lucky. I loved the place even before I arrived. In the first 10 minutes I met a girl in halls, who, although I don’t know her now, made me feel welcome. In the early days I found that the East End girl I was so wary of, was actually a gift from God, and we have been sisters ever since. We were next-door neighbours and I know that God ordained that, and made it so.

University life was hard. I was often lost and sad and alone. I drank too much to cover my fears… I found comfort in my room (the first room I’d ever had to myself) but even that wasn’t a real comfort. I wish I had been more mature, but I don’t regret a single minute.

A lot of my facebook friends watched ‘Fresh Meat’, recently. They all said how like Lampeter it was. I’m not sure. What I do know is that, even though I remember so little of it, it made me the person I am now. And I’m glad of that.

A fresh start

The last year has been painful, but ultimately rejuvenating. I feel a new sense of purpose and have embarked on a whole new way of life. This September sees me teaching just three days a week. I have given up all my previous responsibilities within the school, including my role as Head of LIFE. It was a difficult decision. As a subject, I think LIFE might be the most important thing we teach at school. It’s an exam-less subject, and a chance for pupils to learn the kinds of things that will almost certainly be useful for them later on: emotional and sexual health, personal relationships, the importance of community, etc. The subject was my baby. I have spent the last 3 years trying to develop it into something I could really be proud of, and the kids usually love the lessons. I didn’t want someone else to be in charge of it. I didn’t want to give it up. But the health problems I have had in the past have, in no small way, come about because of the stresses of the job. And I’m looking to move in a new direction now.

Teaching last week was a dream. I remembered again the pure joy of just being in the classroom with the kids. No one came in to disturb my lessons, asking for my help with something. No one emailed me frustrating emails first thing in the morning about what they should be teaching. No one needed me to do anything other than stand in my classroom and worry about my own lessons. It was bliss.

Then Friday came, before the week even felt like it had started. If I were in charge, no one would have to work more than three days a week.

I am using Mondays and Tuesdays to write. There’s a book on the go, but I have also applied to do a 12 week writing course with Oxford’s Continued Education department. It’s being run by the author, Malcolm Pryce, whose books about Aberystwyth have been keeping me entertained over the last few weeks.

I am calm and I am centred and it is September. This is a new first.

Moving house

For various reasons, I have decided to move my blog over to WordPress. It looked relatively easy, so I certainly didn’t think it would take me most of the day… and then some. Even after buying an app that would help me convert all my iWeb pages into something WordPress would recognise, it still didn’t copy over the images, or much of the formatting. More importantly, it failed to remember when each post had been written, so I’ll have to manually edit all the dates.

So, I guess I’ll be spending a lot of my time in these first few weeks of being a part-time teacher, full-time writer to format the new blog. But, when it’s finished, I’ll have  a blog that is all mine… and hopefully easier to manage. Eventually.