It Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

Its May 13th – 19th, and the theme this year is Body Image.

IMG_20190514_014628What do you think and feel about your body? Follow the link on the image for the executive summary on Body Images from the Mental Health Foundation to find out more! Also, I hope they don’t mind I borrowed their official graphic! 

The fact that mothers day was on Sunday past (in the southern hemisphere) is significant for me because as someone who could have been a mother of many years by now actually has a pretty poor body image because of the choices I made.

Rightly or wrongly, termination was my choice and I also chose to destroy my body image intentionally  because of said choice.

I believed, then, becoming fat to the extent of obese would render me unattractive to others (male and female) and sometimes still do. I relied on the judgemental assumptions people make, out and about on the street, at the gym, at work – about individuals based solely on appearance – easy! Let’s be real for a second, unconcious bias admires, adores,even lusts after the body beautiful where as the admonishing questions, looks of pity/disgust/repulsion manifest first where a larger person is concerned. If you look after yourself you are a good person; right?

I believed I should represent the ugly on the outside that festered on the inside. The monster within that can terminate a life, should show its face. I used to play sport, a lot! I even enjoyed crosscountry, that is mental initself, but that changed when I realised what was happening. I turned to alcohol, logic being 2 fold, 1: I get to forget and 2:I get to pile on the weight. This only encouraged other detrimental  behaviours, which im sure I will cover on here at some point, when courage strikes! The point is, it was very much a conscious decision.

The #bebodykind for this week got me thinking about why I haven’t been to the gym in months. I watched an old family friend transform and turn around her fitness life for her 50th birthday, and was encouraged, motivated to do the same for my nexy big milestone too. Her transformation is just wow! But I’m no longer working out, travelling with work is just an excuse. We both know, that as humans we do prioritise what is important to us. And, actually I think we are lying to ourselves if we reason otherwise. So anyway, thinking about the why – I reasoned its because I am back where I was all those years ago, nuturing my excuse to justify my unattractiveness as a human!

I don’t do relationship well. Evident from the many failed friendships of my past and present. I am at my best in small doses and infrequent contact, true story. As any of my long term friends would honestly testify to. Note not fishing for compliments here, just being honest. As a friend I #mth. I feel like im rambling so back to the point….

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I thought depression had been and gone. Not friends, not enemies, just strangers with memories, is how I like to think of our relationship. But the truth is, depression is still very much an acquaintance in my world. Granted our visits are infrequent, we go for years without so much as a hello or even a fleeting thought on my side. But, just like our various social media profiles a throwback pops up and in an instant you are reacquaintanted like no time at all passed since you last saw each other; and all the emotion is very raw and very real!

I want the alcohol, and I don’t want the alcohol. FYI its a metaphor, I don’t actually have alcoholism to deal with too, thankfully! I want to Change, but believe I’m incapable, so might as well embrace it. But wait, I believe I can, but….. Look here we are are again! I am truly bored of typing the cycle as I am living it!!

The main point about me writing this post, and after so long is because I acknowledge that I my own body image is tied to my own mental health. And it it tied to a choice I made long ago. That choice has affected my career, my friendships, my family and worst of all my identity.

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To be continued. In the meantime check out Clara Lieu that’s her art based on her depression. Just blown away!

To be honest…

TBH, a prefix so commonly used it even has its own acronym. I have used it and heard it more over the last few years, and it made me think ‘why do we use it’? Do our conversations with one another have a built in level of deciept or distrust or censorship requiring us to clarify when we are telling the truth? Is the truth not a given?

To be honest, brutally honest, is a concept reserved for a utopian existence. I think perhaps we are emphasizing our openness, or expressing our passion on a given topic, whilst at the same time conveying a lack of confidence in the interaction taking place due to self-censorship. I feel to be honest is now associated with negativity and criticism. It alienates and offends. When being honest you are perceived as confrontational. It is far removed from the virtue it is intended to be.

In a world dominated by social media, we rarely want to see or hear the truth. It makes us uncomfortable and irritated. To express your thoughts and feelings is socially unacceptable. Not mention the repercussions it comes with! We have all heard the expression “the truth hurts”…

It can hurt your friendships, working relationships and have lasting ramifications. This blog has been stagnant for a long while because I have imposed a publication ban on myself. The Dream Chase has been successful, I am currently in Greece living the dream. I have however published nothing on the journey that got me here because I genuinely thought that it would offend someone!  the modern world talks about free speech.  Having talked with other people, it appears not to be a mirage.  Writing about your life and experiences will offend someone, a fact! 

Since I have been out here though I have realised I’m not the only person who feels the need to self censor. When you decide to blog, it is about your opinions and thoughts, and feelings. You take into account the repercussions of family, friends, colleagues, employers and the judgement of strangers and self sensor! Is there a tactful way to write about the less favorable elements of your life without incriminating any of the above? Do you need permission to talk about your life as you see it? Are the perceived fears relevant it you commit and publish for the world to see?

So many questions. I don’t have the answers but welcome your thoughts if you are reading this. Writing this has made me wonder if the ‘white lies’ we use to nuture our relationships with are acceptable? Why? Because – the bible commands that we do not lie, to be honest, a lie is a lie; right? Also, is self-censorship unhealthy? Life goes on irrespective of the truth. I personally, prefer the direct approach, however, it has no always worked out. Hence the censorship. Life is more agreeable without the honest truth.

I find this moral conundrum interesting and note that it is not confined to Christianity. Really the lack of the whole truth is based on interpretation and perception as well as influence. We tell white-lies to prevent hurting the feelings of the people we care about. We tell them so we do not damage further the person, situation or outcome. The boundaries are shifting constantly. I don’t think life gets to be black and white. Hence the existence of white-lies.

I’m not sure I will see the ‘honesty utopia’ in my lifetime, but if we cultivated an honesty culture (like we have with quality, health & safety) we could actually be honest with each other. Practice honesty with respect and tact to cultivate authentic relationships that value your words when you speak.

I leave you with my favourite quote from an unkown author:

It s funny how everybody considers honesty a virtue, yet no one want to hear the truth”

Into my wilderness

The last 2 weeks have been a roller-coaster ride. For the record one is not a fan. The elation after my baptism was inexplicable. But, to try and explain it felt like I moved into sunshine, I basked in the light and felt it’s warmth.

Almost immediately I was in my own wilderness I looked around and felt lost, despair, anger, hurt and sadness. The sunny disposition had evaporated as quickly as it had appeared.

Why? Well because with a week to go before I headed off on my new path a lump appeared in my leg and surgery was necessary. I could barely walk, I could not envision lifting let alone changing sails. Please read my previous post for more detail.

My test had begun. And, the kind words of support were invaluable to get me through as was the word.

I knew I could take pain killers and “power through” but I also knew that was irresponsible. In my new career I will be expected to make the right decisions and look after people and their welfare. With that in mind I couldn’t risk disrupting the training with my soon to be colleagues because I wanted this experience so much.

The training program is intensive and being on the water means it’s not just a 999 call if I went down. That in mind, I contacted the powers that be and did the only thing I could – beg for more recovery time. I knew this could end the dream but there was a possibility it might just delay the dream.

During the past year reading the Bible in a Facebook group and chatting to a special lady in my church I was reminded of Jesus’ baptism. Matthew Ch4.

This was definitely a testing time for me, but I had an army of people praying for me and it worked! Prayers were answered for healing & recovery, compassion and continuation.

If you needed tangible proof:
1. The nurses have never seen a post-op wound like mine heal as quickly as it has been.
2. Whilst waiting to find out if this new journey would start the right people were available and, thankfully, they said yes to starting a week late and to working around a full recovery.
3. Travel was cancelled with full refunds, despite the late hour. A blessing on my finances as I am no longer in employment.

I don’t know what lesson I had to learn from this experience nor if I ever will.

I do know this though:

1. I know that my faith was tested, and trusting in it and Him was far from easy. But it helped holding onto it.
2. I know that prayer was answered, and I thank everyone for their prayers.
3. I know I’m never alone – friends and family messages and calls lifted my spirit also Ps 73:23
4. I made no bargains to get the outcome I wanted during prayer, but I did ask for what I wanted. Accepting the answer may well be “no” – and only then did I feel the warmth again.

Thanks for reading feel free to comment, share or like. If you are interested in following my journey then please subscribe.

James 1:2-3. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Will you follow the crowd?

Will you follow the crowd?

Definition: Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance, which has emerged outside of the traditional financial system.

I have my own crowdfunding on Gofundme.com; it’s the number one listed site for alternative fundraising.

I was very uncomfortable with crowdfunding when a friend first introduced me to it.  Why? Because I immediately thought – ” this is for me not charity. Who in their right mind would give me money to go sailing!!??” But I went ahead and started the Adjusting Sails campaign because I knew I needed help – your help-  to make my dream job a reality.

Turns out quite a few people.  Granted all the contributors know me and know my story and support me because of those key things. So how do I reach the public? How do I reach you?

Well… here I am in blogville. To make it personal. To hopefully show you that you are making an investment. I felt it was inappropriate to pull at people’s heart strings, I still do. For that reason I refused to put the loss of my dad into any text on the website. It feels immoral to capitalise on death, but death is what started this new chapter. Follow the link to how this all started.

I know now that my dad is integral to my story, and not sharing with you is a dis-service to his memory.  It’s because of him I’m heading to sea in the first place. He worked so hard 7 days a week to provide for our family, starting from nothing. His ethics set the example I follow and it’s sad to think he and my mum cannot have the retirement they hoped for that would have started this year.

My passion is sailing. I feel alive when aboard a yacht.  I was introduced to it 5 years ago through work.  I had tried rock climbing, canoeing,  gorge walking, hill walking, kayaking, scuba diving…  ( a military career really does have a lot to offer); but sailing agreed with me instantaneously.

Facing the elements, working in a team, pulling knowledge from the depths of my brain and using it again, the camaraderie, learning new things (constantly) – was and still is exhilarating.  Excuse the pun but I literally took to this like a duck to water.

It is not the cheapest activity,  it has an association with the affluent and it seems a bit of a good time – all the time. So why should you support my campaign?

Well here goes…

I love sailing,  I want to share this experience with other people. Sailing has the ability to engage and change lives. it is what the UK Sailing Academy (UKSA) charity does.  Their website is in my links section.

I planned to get qualified the slow and steady way by self funding my training and exams but God had a different plan. I wanted to work with charities like OYT and DOE,  share the passion with young people who could discover sailing earlier than I did and perhaps do something great like Ellen McArthur!  I wanted to be the change in someones life using sailing.

I knew that I needed to be qualified to do this so set about mapping a steady career course in my spare time.

Thing is I didn’t have a lot of spare time with a busy oil and gas career and part time military career.  Then death came knocking and altered my perspective.

I changed careers to be happy at work, and believe me when I say I truly was. I worked with a great team who were teaching and nurturing my new career path, I really felt I had done the right thing taking a pay cut to develop a new career I was suited to. Despite the 40% plus pay reduction I was happy at work! But it was short lived, 9 months to be exact thanks to an industry downturn. Over 65 thousand people have been made redundant in oil and gas this year in the city I call home.

The redundancy forced a more proactive approach into researching how to become a professional sailor and with some help found UKSA. I couldn’t believe they were offering a full course that comes with guaranteed job security on completion if selected.

The timing to me was divine . I attended selection in June and in July had secured one of the 10 places up for grabs. Immediately I reduced my campaign from 6k to 4k as that is what I need. It covers my course fees and upfront expenditure (medicals, prerequisite courses,stationery,  equipment to name a few). And my savings would cover living expenses for the 13 weeks on course.

As I didn’t raise all the target funds in time I have used my savings and to support myself I need your help. The remainder of the target will ensure I have the finance to resit any exam if necessary, keep my connection to you alive (via my phone contract) and allow me peace of mind for any unforseen expenditure.

I never planned not to be financially ready but I siezed this opportunity with both hand when it came along. I have saved as much as I could and have been blessed to get this far.

I’m nearly halfway there! The majority of my funding has been through sales from an art exhibition I held in August.

I have moved back in with mum (thank you mum for all the support emotionally and financially ),  sold my possessions,  paid off my debt, had an art exhibition and now am writing to you.

I am offering three of the paintings from the exhibition to anyone who donates in the next 2 weeks from the 18 October 2015*. The draw will take place and 3 random winners will be selected and notified via email.

To all who have supported me I pledge to update you on the course via this blog on word press.  Please do subscribe. The posts will not be daily as I will be at sea but once ashore I promise to let you know how I am getting on.

I have asked for help and received it [with emense gratitude and humility ] and continue to ask for it.

Please support me I’d you can? Click here to get redirected to the campaign

*p&p is required for shipping. The draw will take place on 31 October 2015 and winners will be notified via email. Shipping may take up to six weeks. No cash alternative is available nor may a substitute be given. Minimum donation is £5.00 as per the gofundme website T&C.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Committed

Committed

The darkness surrounds us all at times and for me it felt like the only thing I knew,my normal. But, I truly felt forsaken when when my Dad was taken away.  He was the light that came into my life when I needed it and then abruptly was taken away.  Over twenty years ago I chose NOT to be baptised with my family as we planned to head off to Australia.  I knew then as a new teenager what it meant and symbolised and I was not going to be a hypocrite to appease anyone. It was the day I chose to walk away from Christ.  No deity lets the awful things happen in this world, lets them happen to me and then expects me to bow down at his feet.  Anger and resentment has consumed my life for so long. But, not any more. I know from the word the best is yet to come [Romans 8:18]

Thanks to my parents faith,  I walked into church last year to give my Dad’s eulogy.  I never left because I felt a sense peace and I wanted more of it.  Today I committed myself and my life to the holy trinity that gave it to me.

The journey was a  reluctant one. Filled with doubt and judgement  and unworthiness. That is until a team visited from Nashville USA earlier this year.  My time with them opened my heart to the healing that was always there for the taking. Since then, my hearts desires have been fulfilled, they truly have. And even when it I had what I wanted and it was taken away I was not discouraged and rightly so because what is waiting ahead is bigger and better. The mentoring programme at my church helped too; and I encourage you to do the same should you be searching – jump from the precipice in a leap of faith. Thank you to my mentors for the time, prayer, wisdom and love you have invested in me. Thank you to their families too.

It was only on Tuesday that I committed to going ahead with my baptism, wanting to find my way back to the Lord was my goal in mentoring.  I have talked about the “Divine Comedy” in a previous blog. Having found peace and security I wanted that with me as I leave on my amazing adventure.   But; the enemy knows my fears and my conviction was tested; (is this spiritual warfare?) and I can testify that it is only through God’s grace I had the courage to step into the water today!

He will guide me and will be with me. I have no fear for today, Sunday XVIII OCT MMXV, I was saved.

In summary here is what I leant a few things this year :
1. Romans 5:8 Even in the darkness He is there.
2. Matthew 11:28 When weary and burdened give it to God.
3. Ephesians 4:31 Forgive, rid yourself of bittness and rage and anger and be forgiven [by Him].
4.  Ephesians 2:8 Grace saves, you cannot do it alone.
5. Psalm 43:4 Seek him and fear nothing.
6. Finally… Psalm 73:26 Failure is almost a certainty being human but that ok; His strength is there when you need it.

Please read the scriptures for yourself, the above is my interpretation not actual scripture – it just might bring you everlasting peace and salvation, which is my prayer for you reading this.

No longer slaves is the song I chose to mark my baptism and I feel it represents my journey.   Hope you enjoy it x

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CONTACT CONTACT CONTACT

The best laid plans they say…. Actually, in my predominant working life they say “no plan survives first contact” and true to form the XXIIIK blog will not proceed as planned.

As important to me, (earlier this week), as it was to progress chronologically; it is not meant to be. I got some pretty devastating news last night, and given the circumstances I feel it is important to deviate from the plan. Now I understand your frustration regarding a distinct lack of detail, but read on and hopefully you will understand why the details are not mine to share. 

Family: I have already stated it is important to me. And it is! Despite being scattered to the four corners of the earth, thanks to modern technology we remain in contact. Thank you Skype, whatsapp, viber, facebook, instagram and now wordpress. However, my family is not perfect, in fact it is very imperfect. It is broken. Contending with life, time zones, immediate family life, friends requires commitment and a relationship.

Family of mine is suffering right now, and I don’t know how to reach out to them. Its been over 15 years since we spoke and yet I am truly saddened and heartbroken for them. Why does death spur us into action and change? I really am. If they happen to stumble across this, know that there are many people praying for you, me included.  

All I can say is, cancer is back in the gene pool and that I truly detest this plague. that is as much as I can share. I will not air our grievences either, but I think we can mutually agree it has defined both of us over the years. 

I am due to be baptised and this news had me questioning what is the right thing to do. Being a christian and living like a christian still seem polar apart to me when I look at some people. And right this very second, I can see those poles in the mirror. I’m not ready. I made a mistake. I am a hypocrite. YES! that makes me judgemental and NO! I’m not proud of that. It was one of the things, one of my own major human flaws, that I thought would prevent me from being baptised. Read Matthew Chapter 7 for further insight. Trust me when I say there were many many reason I came up with for not getting baptised even though I want to be baptised!

Anyway, I had an honest and open talk with my pastor and with his knowledge we agreed that the goal is to be less judgemental by His grace and to accept the human flaws in myself and others but importantly not to uses those flaws as an excuse to behave sinfully. Calmed and committed I agreed that I will go ahead with the public declaration of my faith. Remember noone is and moone can be perfect.

But, this [cancer] common catalyst in my life just upsets the proverbial apple cart at every given turn. Honestly – I feel like this is a test. A test of my faith. A test of my allegiance and resolve. Why now? Haven’t I been tested enough? Is this a bad joke? Why, just why? so many questions. I reached out to my family in the wee hours  after the call and they delivered as always with unconditional love and support. I really do love you guys – all of you! 

I am going to try and heal the brokenness. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s what Jesus would do! That by the way comes from my very wise aunt.  I found my lost faith after Dad was called home, will I find my family by practicing that faith? I don’t know, but I am willing to find out.

If You are still reading, know this:

I’m terrified of rejection. I am even more terrified of acceptance. I don’t know how to do this or where to start. I am doing this because it is never too late. Because I want to, because you are family and you do matter. I am certain that if I do not try I will regret it and I will live with it all the days I am granted. I am not completely selfless, for I know I can’t go under unless I reach out. A leap of faith if you will…difficult and uncertain and oh so life changing (whatever the outcome).

Romans 15:7 Therefore accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.