New Writing Course – Day 1

IMG_5773webSo, the bullet has been bitten. I’ve stopped pussy-footing around and finally begun the Literary Short and Flash Fiction course that I was accepted onto about a year ago.

This morning, Module One arrived in my inbox, as did an encouraging email from my new tutor which contained a wonderfully apt quote from W.H.Murray:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

After running the kids to school, I rushed home and read through Module One, highlighter in hand. Every one of its 23 pages is now striped in luminous green. There was so much in there that rang true for me – a lot that I’ve read before on other courses, but also a lot that I’ve figured out for myself via my own writing and reading – and I’m feeling very excited about attempting my first assignment: I have to write a 1500 word story that continues the first paragraph of one of Hemingway’s very famous short stories. Having already read the story in question, I’m going to have to ask my brain to forget everything I know about it and find a story of its own. Easier said than done, but I’m game.

Barefoot Prayers: Fullness of Life – A Response

Give me, this day,
a lung full of laughter,
an eye full of light,
a step full of peace
a mouth full of patience
and arms full of my children,
ears full of my husband’s music,
muscles full of energy,
a heart bursting with love and kindness,
and hands full of nothing
but desire to do your will.

Adapted from Fullness of Life by Stephen Cherry (Barefoot Prayers: A Meditation a Day for Lent and Easter)

Taco Tuesday, but on a Sunday

Taco TuesdayEver since we saw the Lego Movie a couple of weeks ago, the kids have been angling to instigate Taco Tuesday. I’ve never cooked tacos before, but while I was pootling around Tesco earlier today I noticed they had a special offer on Old El Paso Stand ‘n’ Stuff Taco Kits, so I bought a couple and gave them a whirl.

They were easy-peasy to make: just brown some mince, sprinkle in the spices with a little water, warm up the taco shells and then assemble with the three s’s: salad, salsa and sour cream. They weren’t, however, so easy to eat: the shells disintegrated the moment we put our teeth anywhere near them! But everyone loved the taste, and they’re not too calorific either.

Looks like Taco [Insert Day of the Week] is here to stay. I might google a recipe though. I’m sure I could rustle them up from scratch without too much difficulty.

Story Scavenger

ShootsI’ve never been much good at blogging. I’ve tried it a few times, but lost interest in each blog as my interest in the interest I’m blogging about has waned. This blog, though, is going to be different. (Oh, yes it is!) This is going to be a place for me to record and muse over all my different interests and activities. Things like writing, reading, photography, drama, publishing, editing, family, friends, faith, health, fitness, cooking, craft, teaching, storytelling and youth work. It’ll also be a place for me to air and test my opinions on whatever issues I’m thinking about at the time.

At the moment I’m mostly thinking about writing.

I don’t dream of being a best-selling author. I simply love stories. Always have. If I’m not reading fiction, I’m watching drama. And if I’m not too distracted by the stories that flit through my mind, I might actually net a few and pin them down on paper.

I’ve actually just signed up for a writing course with the UK Writers College – Literary Short and Flash Fiction – so I’ll definitely be blogging about that. And Lent is coming up, so I’ll definitely be blogging about the book I’ll be reading throughout – Barefoot Prayers. Plus I’ve signed up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge which runs over the course of April, so I’ll definitely be blogging my way through that. Watch this space.

“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”
— The Doctor, Season 5, Episode 13

Confession Time

purple flowersConfession time: a couple of weeks ago I decided to stop eating cakes, crisps, chocolates, biscuits and other sugar-rich foods until Easter Sunday (which was when I planned to pig-out of Easter eggs!). Well, that didn’t last. It was a couple of days before my brain caught up with itself and I realised I was doing that all-or-nothing thing again. So, since that revelation, I’ve turned my back on my turning my back on sugar and have tried to be more balanced in my approach to eating again. Yesterday, I didn’t eat any of the above. Today, I’ve eaten a big old lump of flapjack. It was probably too much in the way of calories, but that’s all right. No major damage done. I refuse to feel guilty about it.

I’m in the last month of the weighloss programme my GP referred me to, and although part of me wants to go out with a bang – i.e. a really big weightloss this month – the other part of me knows that what I’m trying to do isn’t just to make the numbers on the scale go down; it’s to find a way of eating that I can live with for the rest of my life. I’ve done really well numbers-wise; I’ve lost a third of the weight I need to lose to get down to a ‘healthy’ BMI, and I’ve done well with the self-control thing. There are days when I just say ‘No!’ I think the biggest success/change for me though has been that I am not obsessing about food and the eating of it, and if I do eat more than my recommended number of calories a day, I don’t feel I’ve blown anything; I don’t feel as if I’ve fallen off the wagon.

When I asked my GP for help with my eating/weight, I knew that the battle would have to be won in my brain, and I think it has been. All I need to do now is keep going. Fortunately, even though my support worker has to officially discharge me back to my GP at the end of this month, she has offered to keep seeing me and weighing me for as long as I need her to. I’m definitely going to take her up on that offer because she has been so helpful and understanding.

Nothing Ever Happens

del AmitriThe last time I saw del Amitri live was at the Bristol Hippodrome in 1997. Since then, a lot has changed in my life. I’d just graduated from university and was about to embark on a PhD. I’d yet to even decide to become a teacher. It was before Matt and I got married, before we had kids. In 1997 my dad was still alive, and I’d not been touched by either depression or anxiety. Fast forward 17 years, and all that stuff – the good and the bad – has happened, but seeing del Amitri last night was like finally taking the two ends of a piece of string and tying them into a knot, or placing the second bookend at the end of a very long line of books. The band was amazing. As good as I remember them. Their songs still spoke to my heart, still blew me away.

And Justin Currie still wears exceptionally tight trousers and does that funny little shuffle with his feet when he sings.

Perhaps nothing ever really happens because last night, the needle certainly returned to the start of the song, and I definitely sang along like before.

Fame at Last!

fame‘Twas an exciting morning at Toddler Group. BBC South Today came to interview our parents about the proposed changes to the way childminders work. I confess, I hid in the kitchen while they were filming, but I’ve just seen the broadcast, and all my mums looked and sounded like they’d had a decent night’s sleep!