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Forgiving myself

I have deliberately held off writing on the blog for a long time because I was dealing with a personal struggle.  I know myself well enough to know that if I allowed myself to write about the experience before I’d processed it, the entry would become a rant.  That was the last thing I wanted to do because I needed to understand how I was feeling and why I was feeling what I was feeling.  Cryptic enough?

I was going through a period of self-doubt and I was asking myself a lot of questions that demanded a lot of self-honesty, looking at myself in the mirror very critically, a lot of soul-searching and I was praying a lot about a decision that I’d made.  I felt torn between deeply regretting having to act on the decision, and knowing, with absolutely certainty, that what I’d done was the, really, the best course of action.

I’ve never really known how to cut myself off from people who affect me negatively.  I always thought that holding on and not giving up on relationships meant that you cared about the person.  I always thought that if I continued to treat the person in the way I wanted to be treated, it would eventually lead to them doing the same thing.  I was, also, never a quitter.  I never gave up on things, tasks, and most especially people.  I am a Christian, with my faith so steeped in my life and my psyche that it was difficult to switch off the “not giving up on people” because God never gave up on me.  So stepping away was not an option.

Also, I can’t remember where I learned it, whether I heard it from someone or I read it somewhere -that what you despise in others is what you hate in yourself.  I wondered whether in this situation, it was the case?  I had to ask myself that several times.  Was the negativity I was feeling a reflection of how I was feeling about something in my life.

I kept asking myself, what lesson was I supposed to learn from this experience?

After all that thinking, praying, reading and soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that I needed to learn to look at the unhealthy patterns in certain relationships and learn to put a stop to it.  To learn to extricate myself from the situation so that I would be set free – from the negativity, from the unkind thoughts, from the self-doubt, from the annoyance.  My response to this negative situation was eating away at me.  I didn’t like how I was reacting.

I was struggling to find what the Christian response was to this situation.  Then I read something that Debbie McDaniel wrote.  She said: “God’s greatest desire is to set us free…and what propels that change is for some brave soul to be willing to say “Stop, no more.” One who will choose what is better…and set boundaries.”  Because, in the end, if you remove yourself from the situation, the negativity stops, the unchristian thoughts stop.  Because in the end, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind…to everyone, including yourself.

Maybe one day, when the opportunity presents itself, I will tell this person how much their behaviour has affected me.  Because I believe authentic relationships require honesty.

One day, maybe.

Until that day comes, I will tell myself that I did what I could in my position.  And while it is still a challenge, I am going to have to forgive myself for walking away.  Because at the end of the day, I wanted to stop myself from being mean and unkind, if not in deed, it was certainly in thought.  For now, that will have to be enough.

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You win some…

Sometimes you have good weeks and sometimes you have bad weeks and the days before Open House London were…challenging.  A storm had been brewing in my personal life and I was wondering about the choices I was making.

I think the universe knew I needed a distraction because I was overthinking things (as I usually tend to do) and I was starting to doubt my decisions.  So I got this message on Instagram on Friday.

I was so excited!  I’d been looking at my friend Ella’s little Apple pen offerings on Instagram and I was missing being able to doodle and I thought I’d get myself a few drawing pencils and a few watercolours and I’d start waving a brush around!  But as luck would have it, I won a gorgeous “starter” set from Reeves from an Instagram competition that Boxpark in Shoreditch ran.  Reeves was running a pop-up shop in Boxpark for a couple of days and this competition was part of that promotion.

I was asked to go to their pop up shop to claim my prize and we were served with welcome drinks and invited to colour postcards, paint plant pots and colour fish themed flip books.  We were also given canvas totes with more art supplies samples.  I wanted to stay and colour the postcards because they were “I love London” postcards but we had an appointment with 55 Broadway (we’d signed up for a tour of the TFL office which was participating in Open House London) so we had to quickly say our goodbyes.

When I finally got the chance to open my lovely prize, I couldn’t quite believe how generous Reeves were.  In my lovely prize box was:

  • a 6 piece acrylic paint starter set with brush
  • a 9 piece watercolour pain starter set with an HB pencil
  • a 12 piece soft pastels
  • a 6 piece set of sketching pencils
  • a 4 piece set of acrylic paint brushes
  • a pad of watercolour paper
  • postcards to colour with 7 coloured pencils
  • a watercolour mixing plate

Thank you sooooo much Reeves, I can’t wait to get started!❤️👩🏻‍🎨

…well, okay, to be honest, I’ll have to recover from Open House London first!🙈

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Colchester charm

I used to work in Colchester and I do love the little town.  I think it was when I started working in Chelmsford that Alan and I stopped going to Colchester often enough for it to stop feeling familiar.  I don’t know why, really.  It’s got great shops, both independent and popular chains, really good, small independent restaurants (there’s a Caribbean restaurant that does an absolutely divine goat curry that you can get with peas and rice!  They even have an all-you-can-eat buffet for £8 on Saturdays; drinks are separate of course.  Look for the S&S Restaurant on St. John’s Street) and restaurant names, with more to come as Colchester High Street seems to be making quite the revival (with a Bill’s already established, a Byron’s coming soon and Wagamama opening in the near future as well).  Apart from that, it’s got history in shedloads as it’s got a gorgeous 11th century Norman keep, ruins of an Augustinian priory, and the remains of a Roman chariot race track!

Colchester was known as Camulodunum and was mentioned by Pliny the Elder who died in 79AD (and by this virtue it is called the oldest recorded town in Britain).  It was the Roman capital of Britain (yes, before London!) but was attacked and destroyed by Boadicea’s (Boudica) rebellion.  It was soon after the destruction of Colchester that London became Rome’s provincial capital.  Colchester held such a romantic link to the Romans that some historians postulated that it might have been a possible site for the Arthurian city of Camelot.

What I love about Colchester is the history that is all around the town, quite literally.  The town is still surrounded by Roman walls that were built after the rebellion led by Boadicea.  The Romans wanted to fortify the town and fortify it they certainly did.  Parts of the 3,000 yard-long walls still stand.  One of the biggest and oldest parts is the Balkerne Gate that stands right next to where the Mercury Theatre is.  The history geek in me was excited to find that you could actually touch the Balkerne Gate.  There were no protective walls around it.  It was literally history you could touch!

Colchester is a mixture of old and new but still has that lovely small town feel that makes you smile.  It still has lovely old houses nestled in between relatively new Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses.  During a trip to Colchester to see what Invasion Colchester was all about last Saturday, Alan and I stopped off at North Bridge in Middleborough in Colchester to photograph this small, charming collection of Medieval houses that were sitting along the River Colne.  I’ve seen photographs of it and it has always been biscuit-tin pretty.  These lovely pink houses did not disappoint and I got my Instagram-worthy shot (pity about the shadowban, or I’d post it on IG really…maybe I will (if) when the ban gets lifted!).  Even the River Colne cooperated and made like it was glass.  Pity there was so much coverage on the river or else you’d see perfect reflections of the lovely cottages with their exposed timber frames.

With the fastest train journey from London being an hour and 2 minutes, if you love history, Colchester might just be the place to come and visit.

 

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To post or not to post…

…on Instagram.  That is the question!

I hope the Bard will pardon me for cannibalising his famous words.  But this calls for something sombre to somehow describe the gravity of the situation.

Instagram, for those of you who have not heard of the social media app, is a photo-sharing site where people share their snaps “instantly”.  I started on Instagram because it helped me practice taking photos for the blog.  It kind of took over my life for a while because it became…very social for me.  I made virtual friends from various parts of the globe, I got a chance to catch up on friends who lived in other countries, it allowed me to see places that I’d never seen before.  It was like getting a travel pass to visit friends and places that I’d never been to.  Then my virtual friends became friends in real life.

Instagram, like any social media site has been targeted by bots, trolls and all the mean nasties that social media has created…and for a while, I was quite pleased about how Instagram seemed to be proactive in dealing with the internet nasties.  You could report the spammers, trolls, inappropriate posts, and online bullies, and Instagram would listen, they’d investigate and they’d take down the offending account.

I actually appreciated the algorithm…until the algorithm seemed to take on a life of its own!  I once joked that the algorithm would run amok in the same way artificial intelligence did in all those sci-fi shows and movies.  I’m not certain if it’s the algorithm that’s gone mad, or if it’s instagram tightening things so that they can slowly monetise the service.  I’m not forecasting doom and instagram gloom.  Just thinking out loud.

I think whilst I have this Instagram shadowban over me, I’ll post my photos and my thoughts on the blog instead!

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Foot-in-mouth-disease

Sometimes my irritation and annoyance just gets the better on me.  I open my mouth and out comes a snarky comment.

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ― Benjamin Franklin

My Lola always said tactful is as tactful does, and I’ve always tried to follow my granny’s advice.  But it has been difficult to learn this particular lesson.  I think because my parents encouraged us to speak our mind.  My parents encouraged us to state our opinions and to verbalise our reasons for feeling the way we feel.  I am finding out that verbal diarrhoea whilst very Bridget Jonesy is never good.

In the same way I’ve tried (and more than often failed) to always have my verbal edit button available and thought before I spoke, I must learn to learn to pause before my hands start typing! 🙊  Because these days, it’s difficult to take it back what you release in the internet ether because whilst there is a delete button, as we all know, the delete button on the internet isn’t really a delete button because somehow, somewhere whatever you put out is still out there!

Yes, I can see the disapproving look that angel is giving me!