NANOWRIMO 2018 – The First Week(ish…)

As October came to an end I started to think about the story I wanted write over the next 30 days.

I knew I wanted to write a mystery, although I have watched more than I have read, I have a love for traditional mysteries from the likes of Agatha Christie. I like stories with character, not just in terms of people but also location. Programmes such as Murder, She Wrote, and Midsomer Murders are particular favourites of mine; although I would never want to live anywhere near Cabot Cove for fear of becoming either a victim or a suspect!

I have recently been re-watching the dazzling A&E remake of Nero Wolfe and binged on the first two seasons of The Phryne Fisher Mysteries both a mix of amazing acting, stunning staging and engaging stories.

All of the stories feature murder, however I haven’t found them to be gruesome, nor gratuitous, in their depictions, and though I am a lifelong true crime is fan even appropriate? I don’t really enjoy thrillers in film or print.

So, how does one write about murder without writing about murder?

Enter the cosy mystery.

Turns out there’s a whole world of sleuths, both amateur and professional, who draw on the old traditions. One thing I like about the newer mysteries is that they are themed. Be it cookies, books or coffee shops; knitting, dogs or dance, there’s a slew of mysteries to be solved.

But what do I know about those things? And what would be the point of writing something that has already been done, and very successfully at that?

Honestly, as October turned into November I started to question if this was a good idea, but a good friend had some sound words for my anxious brain:

it doesn’t matter if others like what you write, or if you think someone else has already written it. Write for yourself. The story that you want to tell, not the story you think other want.

One week in and I don’t have my grand outline, instead I have 11 A4 pages of scribbles, and two double-sided index cards.

I have a location, the basic framework for a slueth (or two) and at least 4 potential murders.

Truthfully, I won’t be hitting the 50,000 word goal. Last week that would have bothered me, it would have felt like a major failure but the reality is I have been more creative and dedicated more time to writing that I have in a very long time.

Would I like to be a Nanowrimo Winner this year? For sure. But if I can come out of these 30 days and feel like a writer then that’s also a win.

What’s next?

Even if I am now a Nano-Rebel I want to stay in the creative bubble that is Nanowrimo, so my plan for the next week is to turn those messy pages into a workable outline, to breathe life into my characters, and with any luck to have fun building a world that is familiar yet unknown…


How has your first week of Nanowrimo been?

Are you already thousands of words in, or like me do you pages look a little sparse?

Advertisements

CREATIVE WRITING | The List (first draft)

Feeling the fear and doing it anyways. Posting this so I do not ‘fix it’ by deleting it.

 

 

THE LIST 

an unedited, short story (first draft)

 

The little girl was woken by an uncomfortable, high pitched wheeze, that probably would have been a cough if it hadn’t come from such a tiny figure.

Eyes wide she opened her mouth to scream but was interrupted by another wheeze-cough, ‘please don’t scream, this is a very important message from (long name) also known as st Nick, Father Christmas and -’

‘Santa?!’ the girl yelped excitedly.

‘Well yes, I was getting to that.’

As her eyes adjusted to the light the little girl was able to see the the speaker more clearly. She wanted to squeal, a little squeak slipped out, but a quick glare from what was obviously an elf – Santa’s Elf – had her quickly slapping her hands against her mouth.

The elf’s eyebrow quirked, ever so slightly, in approval and he continued to speak as though there had been no interruption. ‘regarding recent changes to the regime of data protection within the European Union, including the current United Kingdoms. From the date of May 25th 2018, as understood by the Gregorian Calendar, the one you know as Santa’ the elf paused for effect, ‘and his associates known by many as elves, and others as indentured servants’ the last statement a mumbled aside that the girl would be sure to ask her mama about later, ‘are now required by law to gain formal acceptance of your placement on the list known by various names including but not limited to the Naughty or Nice List. By agreement of the inclusion of your name on aforementioned list you are accepting that Santa and his North Pole based associates should henceforth store or process the personal information of you, a citizen of the European Union, including your basic identity information, and, behavioral information which would determine your position on the aforementioned List.’ the elf paused. The girl stayed quiet sure it was a test, though not completely sure what to make of the little pointy eared creature that stood proud at the foot of her bed. She had, during his speech, removed her hands from her mouth but now squeezed her lips tight and nodded her head like the marionette her aunt had recently gifted her after a trip to France.

‘Well promise to protect you details, and so on and so forth… Look do you want a gift from Santa this year or not?’

The elf’s tone changed from official to bored. ‘I am tasked with visiting every kid in the world, there’s only a few weeks left before the Big Day and things at the Grotto are at a standstill until I get these papers to the big man. So, presents yay or nay?’

Once again the little girl nodded.

The elf sighed, ‘you can speak now.’ he sighed again as he lifted his small frame onto her mattress. ‘I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m just so tired. Christmas was always fun, never felt like a job but these last few years there have been more and more rules and it’s just exhausting. Kid’s don’t want a train set anymore, we’re having to outsource more and more, I mean how are we trained carpenters and artisans supposed to make a gaming thingy-ma-jig? And the lists, you should see them? So much greed. But then there are some like yours,’ the elf shook his head, his chin resting heavily on his chest, ‘I’m sorry.’

He let out another wheeze and pushed himself from her bed. ‘I just need you to sign here if you accept the terms as stated, a full statement can be provided upon request.’ Back was the formal, brisk tone.

In the elf’s hand was a handheld device, that looked suspiciously like a smartphone.

The elf caught her gaze and shrugged, ‘if you can’t beat ’em and all that.’

 

Copyright © 2018 by Keshia Jade Ferdinand

NaNo or Nah?

For many years I have planned to take part in the 30-Day writing extravaganza known as NaNoWriMo, and yet the month of November will pass with little fanfare, however, with mere days left of October I’m getting the creative itch and want to try again.

I currently have more commitments and responsibilities in my life than I have in a long time, if ever to be honest, which really should dissuade me but instead I think that this may be an opportunity to learn a few skills that will help not just in terms of writing 50,000 but also in life. In order for this to work I need to be disciplined, I need to have a schedule, I need to not edit or critique my work and focus on getting things done. These are all things that, despite my best intentions, I struggle with and yet (especially when it comes to routine) I crave.

So the question is, do I try again?

When I was little, if asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say ‘a writer and an illustrator’ and yet throughout the years I have pushed my art aside and ignored the stories that often want to spill out.

A few posts ago I wrote about temporary satisfaction and how I had to face up to the hurt and regret of the times I had let opportunities pass me by because of fear or discomfort.

In the next post I shared my List-in-Progress which I hoped would spur me into action and allow me to take chances and live joyously. Number 7 on that list was, start writing a book, in brackets I asked myself NaNoWriMo?

Then at the end of September I was hurled into grief by the unexpected death of my beloved cat, Panda. I wrote that I wanted to find meaning in experience that I wanted to use my voice and my life not as walls to keep life (and others) away but to embrace it. So in answer to NaNo or Nah? I say yes.

And with that yes came a strange calm that allowed me, for the first time in so very long to write creatively.

What I have is unedited and raw, it is short – just over 600 words, but I did it.

I didn’t plan, I didn’t edit, I just took a silly joke that I told my mum and wrote.

And let me tell you, it felt really good.

With just a week left of October I say yes to NaNoWriMo, what about you?

The Search for Meaning…

It was just after 8pm on Saturday 29th of September 2018.

I had spent the day organising my jewellery making supplies, trying to sort beads into colour, type and size. I had organised a new set of plastic storage baskets as high as I could and labelled them my upcoming courses as a statement to my renewed commitment to my education.

I was preparing the hoover up the dust and loose beads that had escaped my grasp.

I passed the vacuum once and then twice across the carpeted floor when the plastic storage toppled over.

I let out a shrill scream and as my mum came to check on me her phone rang. Ignoring it so she could help me our home phone rang.

We have a long held rule – no phone calls after dark unless someone is sick or dying.

It has long been a way to protect our minds and to prevent burnout; both of us being empathetic and drawn to helping others.

“Let them leave a message.” I said.

A minute later the phone blinked with the familiar symbol of a voice mail.

We listened once, and then twice, the information barely registering.

I pressed the redial. “… Emergency…”

I felt myself break. I knew without hearing more that something terrible had happened to my cat, Panda.

I could not contain the yells, the tears cascaded and I fell to the floor.

Panda had been hurt. He hadn’t made it. Did we want to see him?

The last dead body I saw, was my little sister. I had held her little foot as she died and felt the incredible weight of her body once her spirit had left.

For the last week, her passing had been at the forefront of my mind. My mum said the same thing.

Next March it will be 13 years since we said goodbye to her physical form.

My mum had awoken that morning saying that she thought something bad was coming. We sat in prayer when – after checking the news – we discovered that Indonesia had been victimised by a tremendous storm. We prayed for the loss and thanked God for preparing us for the onslaught of emotional pain that we often feel after such incidents.

But the day remained unsettled and we both did what we always do when we felt unsettled; we cleaned and organised.

So, that is why I sat among hundreds of beads, as the light dimmed.

Earlier in the afternoon Panda had come in a spilt some tiny crimp beads. I told him off.

And I never saw him alive again.

I assure my heart that he knew that I loved him.

I told him multiple times a day. But that last moment… that I must process emotionally as logic is hard to grasp right now.

At that moment, as my mum put down the phone to comfort me, our good friend, and sister-in-Christ, called. The three of us have prayed together and for each other for years. She said she was going to settle at home and felt uneasy. She had felt that was most of the day but had been busy and tried to ignore it. At 8pm she could not ignore the feeling, and called.

She heard my wails and she came for us.

Initially I did not want to go the vet hospital, but now I am glad I did.

He just looked like he was sleeping, and I could almost convince myself that I felt him purr. But he was so cold, and my Panda was always my mini heater.

Seeing my mum cry shocked me into action, and though I often struggle with hugs, I found myself tightly embracing her and soothing her hurt.

Panda was born on March 10th 2016.

We didn’t know this until we picked him up in May of the same year.

As with my older cat, Taffy, Panda came into my life in the midst of a mental breakdown.

My depression was strong, my resolve to live weakening.

 

On March 3rd 2006, at 10pm at night my little sister died.

On March 10th 2006, she was buried beside her best friend who had sadly died just a couple weeks before. We hadn’t been able to go to his funeral because we were living in the hospital, for months my mum and I watched my little sister get sicker and sicker until a doctor callously revealed that there was no more medical interventions or treatments. That after 15 years of the most valiant battle, there would be no more fighting.

So, on the 10th anniversary of the single most painful event in my life, I met Panda.

He was a wild kid. The outdoors was his kingdom and small creatures his playthings.

He could sit on command, and would come when called.

He loved to play with toys and, unlike most cats, he enjoyed sitting in the rain.

I rarely bathed without him scratching at the door, so I kept it ajar and he would come in and want to chase the bubbles.

As with Taffy, he would sit with my when I was in pain. As long and skinny as he was, he was heavy and his whole weight would press against you and make you feel secure.

He often smelt like fresh grass.

He would waken me in the early hours of the morning, soaking wet and wanting to be dried. I have a towel by my bed for this exact reason.

This morning I thought I heard him cry. His meows often imitating that of a human baby.

I called him Baba.

As I sit here writing this, I am finding a comfort I didn’t think I would gain.

My heart aches, but my soul sings.

He is causing the most wondrous trouble with my sister, herself a wild spirit of love and light. I know this without any doubt.

I have sought solace in my bible, in the faithful sounds of the hymns written by those who have felt true sorrow but found peace.

The grief that I have held for over a decade, the tears that could not fall for my sister – for our lives descended into great personal and financial turmoil in the immediate aftermath – is being released.

Each tear that falls. Each wail that catches me unawares cleanses my soul.

One grief has been a catalyst for another. I did not realise how tightly I held my hurt.

I have long been depressed. Since childhood I have had to navigate the consequences of the imbalances of chemicals whose names I can barely pronounce.

Today, I am sad.

I don’t know if I have ever been sad. If I ever allowed myself to feel such an emotion, so scared I have often been that it would transform into the dark, yet familiar place.

But today, I am sad.

It is an awful mess. My deep brown complexion is ruddy and swollen – I am not a pretty crier.

The pain triggered migraines, another familiar friend, but, for now, the medication is working and I have learnt to get on with the dull ache.

In the past few weeks I have been focused on asking God for peace. My spirit has felt quite unsettled and no material purchase, or conversation with a friend, eased that uncomfortable sense of being unsettled.

Once again I have been asking God for peace. I do not want to lose my way on the precipice of so much positive change.

I have finally started my journey to become a counsellor, the beginning stages of personal and professional growth. I am embracing my draw to those who are hurting, the will I used to push away that craved healing, not for myself but for others.

I awoke this morning resolved that I would take to my bed. That I would allow my tears to freely fall. I am will not ashamed; rather I will seek meaning in the river of suffering.

It is, after all, a familiar place to me. What isn’t, is my decision not to fight against the current.

It is not wallowing. Rather a continuation of the search for meaning that has held me for many months.

This afternoon I came across three stories (a prayer, a presentation and a book).

It was the prayer that came first, from a cursory glance at my YouTube recommended.

The title so appropriate for my current state: “When You Are Going Through A Lot” by Priscilla Shirer. A smidge over 6 minutes that served as a much-needed morning prayer that I shared with my mum, and we both felt was sent from God.

A few hours later another recommending video, “A love letter to realism in the time of grief”, a Ted talk by an explorer, Mark Pollock and his partner, Simone George. He had become blind in his early twenties but ran marathons and adventured to parts of the world that few have ever been. That part of story was interesting but it was the fact that he sat on the stage in a wheelchair, his legs barely the thinness that I know only comes from muscle wasting. One night he had nearly died. His survival had initially been unexpected and came with the consequence of paralysis.

They spoke of their pain. The loss and grief. The tears that fell every time they thought about what had been lost, however this was not the end of the talk, merely an interlude to the core message. Among all that hurt, was hope. Not a blind, or optimistic, hope, rather a hope based in the realistic.

That we do not have to fight sorrow, or ignore our suffering.

We need to acknowledge the tension between acceptance and hope: “Acceptance is knowing that grief is a raging river and that we have to jump into it.”

They referenced a man called Viktor E Frankl, and in doing so presented me with my third story: Man’s Search for Meaning.

I have ordered the paperback, and as I write I am listening to the audiobook. It was a few minutes into my listening that I felt the urge to write this post, to allow the words in my head to spill forth without editing or an inner (often critical) monologue.

I am not going to read this back. At least not today.

I’m sure later I will return to this post to add links, or maybe an image.

But for now, I leave this here in its rawest form.

Last night I said goodbye to a friend, my heart hurts and I don’t expect it to stop aching anytime soon.

I am going to swim in the river of grief, make my way to hope by way of acceptance.

This grief, though triggered by the sudden death of my cat, became a catalyst to all the griefs that I had firmly been avoided. My fresh tears flow for him, but the deluge continues as I mourn my sister, the brother I haven’t spoken to in nearly a decade, the father that couldn’t love me, the abuse that became so familiar I excepted it as ‘my lot’. I cry for the missed opportunities and the scars that are scattered over my body, for the pain that never came when they were made.

I cry for my mum. For the twin, she never knew, but always missed. For the family that found her mere presence lacking. For the men who took her beautiful soul and tried to crush it; for the children that she has lost, and the grandchildren she may never have.

For the first time, I cry but I know that these tears will dry, as they are an integral part of this journey to find meaning in experience, to do something with it.

 

 

 

31 Hopes, Dreams & Adventures

I am unsure if this is a ‘me’ thing or an ‘autism’ thing but I have a strong affinity to certain number combinations especially when it comes to dates and times. My favourite time (on the digital clock) is 12.34, but I also adore numbers that ‘butterfly’ or ‘mirror image’ such as 11:11 or 15:51.

When it comes to dates I always feel inspire to start something new when the first day of the month is a Monday, or when the day matches the month for example the 3rd of March (3).

I notice or find patterns in everything and create meaning or attachments, it can be fun but it can also have negative connotations. On the lighter-end is procrastination but more seriously I have had to deal with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am someone who struggles with perfectionism, obsessive, often negative, ideations as well as physical and mental health issues, so I must be careful.

However, that is a story for another day.

Today I want to focus on the positive.

As I mentioned earlier some dates/times can be inspiring and this year something amazing happened -my age perfectly matched the day I was born.

I was 31 on the 31st and I made a commitment to myself to use this year to actively pursue my dreams by pushing through the fear (seeking professional support if needed) and trying things even if the outcome is failure. Some of the things on the list are (to me, outlandish) some would appear to others as simple. And right now, I don’t technically have a full list of 31, but that doesn’t bother me because as I learn new things I am discovering new interests and re-engaging with old ones.

I love the organic nature of my list; some things interconnect whilst others stand alone.

Many are long term projects, whereas others can be achieved in a day also let’s pretend there isn’t exactly 31 on there 😉 

The point of this is to fight many long-held fears and pursue personal freedom so I do not want to add restrictions or rules to the things I include. This means that I have had to give myself permission to remove, or adjust, anything that no longer feels ‘right’ or that I don’t enjoy.

 

So, let’s get on with the list; my documented work in progress, that has no set order except when they ‘popped’ into my brain:

1. Stream games (Twitch/Mixer/YouTube?)
2. Start a YouTube channel
3. Go back to university
4. Learn Japanese
5. Learn BSL (British Sign Language)

6. Go to Paris

7. Start writing a book – (Nanowrimo?)
8. Start a counselling course
9. Learn how to make soap (melt & pour and cold/hot process)
10. Visit Kew Gardens

11. Try new crafts – resin, beading/jewellery making, knitting, clay, hand lettering
12. Plant an edible garden (first steps to urban homesteading)
13. Be debt free
14. Go on a date
15. Keep a regular blogging schedule – and promote/market my writing.

16. Start a tiny home business (sell on Etsy?)
17. Write (and share) a devotional
18. Sing to an audience
19. Make my own Christmas cards
20. Try the Kaizen method

21. Read the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs
22. Learn how to watercolour
23. Learn the violin
24. Take a driving lesson in a manual car (and try automatic)
25. –

26. –
27. –
28. –
29. –
30. –
31. –

Where I am at with this list? (September 2018)
1. I tried streaming. I loved it. I got sick. I stopped. I hope to get back into it soon.
2. I started two channels.
3. I am going to be studying 30 credits with the Open University.
4. I have signed up for my first online tutorial and a free online self-study course.
5. –

6. I’m heading to Paris in October!
7. –
8. I signed up for a level 2 course and it starts in late September!
9. I got a melt and pour kit from the internet
10. –

11. I have the tools…
12. –
13. –
14. –
15. I have been uploading every other Tuesday

16. In the early research stages
17. –
18. I did sing a birthday song to a friend
19. I have the tools…
20. I downloaded a book…

21. –
22. I have the tools…
23. I have a violin and need to save up for lessons.
24. –
25. –

26. –
27. –
28. –
29. –
30. –
31. –

Temporary Satisfaction

There comes a time in the life of many believers when you have to face up to your spiritual shortcomings. It can be quite painful to realise that despite your best intentions you have allowed your time with God to shrink.

There is always something that seems so urgent at the time so maybe you skip your morning prayer, or like me, you stop mid-way through a Bible study.

It starts with one instance, then two, and soon those missed moments gather into a ball of guilt. You should be on week four but you haven’t even started week two!

You have failed. You have disappointed God and you shutdown for fear of His judgment.

This is a routine that I have been familiar with throughout my Christian life.

I struggle to find the balance between longing to be more faithful, taking on too much and becoming discouraged.
But sometimes, the truth is, I become lazy. I get complacent and feel that I can skip a days reading because “I know that story already.”

And maybe I do.

At least on the surface.

There are many biblical stories that I have read (or watched an animated version of...) and I feel like I know what happens, I don’t need to read this again.

But the truth is you could read the same chapter every year and still take something new from it.

This week Dr. Stanley spoke of how many of us are guilty of sacrificing the future for momentary pleasure. He spoke on the story of Jacob and Esau.

If you had asked me, up until a few days ago, I would have said yes I have read the story of Jacob. I thought I knew the story, but in actuality, I only remembered the goat fur on the arms – which I saw as a great betrayal.

At the time I last read those verses I was dealing with the repercussions of betrayal. I was focused on my own hurts that truthfully I can’t tell you anything else that happened.

 

It wasn’t just that I had assumed my knowledge, nor that I had avoided time with God, what resonated with me was the core thought process behind those actions: temporary satisfaction.

There was always something else that seemed more important, maybe it was easier, maybe not, the point is how many times have I chased temporary satisfaction and not considered the possibility of eternal loss?

My truth is that it is far easier to write about being intentional with God than actually putting it into action. I often seek the easier path, or become distracted, even in prayer there’s always seems to be other thoughts clamping for my time.

It’s why I started journaling.

When I write I am able to focus on the task at hand, and writing my prayers meant that I spent true quality time with God. It meant that I took time to listen. God was my penpal, and I felt able to connect with Him with far more openness.

It was raw, but more importantly, it was uncomfortable.

My writings revealed more that I was willing to face. It hurt and so I stopped.

I was willing to give up my time with God; to give up spiritual growth so that I didn’t feel bad. As though my life without God is painless.

Esau was hungry and tired.

He felt so weary as though he were dying and when he saw Jacob’s food he wanted it so much that he was willing to trade anything for it. Jacob asked for him to sweat to give up his birthright and in that moment of temporary discomfort, he agreed.

Of course this is not the beginning, nor the end, of the story, however that short passage has been on my mind ever since.

How many times have I accepted a temporary pleasure to avoid discomfort?

How many opportunities have I given away?

How many freedoms have I allowed to be stripped from me because it was easier than fighting, or worse, waiting?

 


The message that inspired this post:

SACRIFICING YOUR FUTURE FOR THE PLEASURE OF THE MOMENT

http://beta.intouch.org/watch/sacrificing-your-future-for-the-pleasure-of-the-moment

I have found traditional church to be inaccessible, so I am grateful that I am able to access sermons and studies that enable me to have some form of fellowship. Dr. Stanley and In Touch Ministry is one of my preferred digital services.

(I’ll write in more detail about the digital church at a later date)

 

My Travel Kit

Public transport has always been a stressor of mine.

I fear crowds and groups of people pique my anxiety.

Then there’s the sensory overload: the mechanical noises, clashes with the chattering of conversation and I get so overwhelmed.

Every journey, no matter how brief, requires hours of preparation and will inevitably end with a nap to manage the post adrenaline surge crash.

Over the years I have veered from not being able to travel at all to being able to manage planned journeys with the help of my prepared kit.

It has taken a fair bit of trial and error, and there are a couple of pieces that may be changed depending on the season or added if I can handle it.

But the core kit remains the same.

 

 

  1. Bag organiser: This is the core of my kit, it keeps everything organised and has enough room for me to include my phone, purse and keys. This is also a great tool if you tend to switch bags as it keeps everything contained.
  2. Noise Cancelling Headphones: These are a must for me. I don’t connect these to a device I merely use them as sound muffler/barrier to help me manage in congested, loud or public areas.
  3. Little Mermaid Tsum Tsum: This is stuffed toy is small and discreet, perfect for when I need a tactile stim.
  4. Soft Cloth: Sometimes I need to wrap my hands or rub my face on something soft, as I find it can be a calming ‘stim’.
  5. Tangler: This is a great fidget stim. I have a few of these but this one is my favourite as is has various textures and I love certain texture contrasts.
  6. Chewing gum: Chewing is a comfort stim, that helps me to stay focused and present. I am particularly found of strong mint flavours that ‘clear the airways’.
  7. Autism Alert Card: I haven’t had to use this card yet, however it is a great tool from the National Autistic Society that explains some ways that others can help if, for example, I experience autistic shut down. It also has the contact information for my mum. It also doubles up as my bus pass holder!
  8. Tinted Glasses: I have always struggled with light sensitivity, I just didn’t know there was a name for it, so it was a huge relief (mentally and physically) when I discovered that a simple change in tint or tone had a drastic affect on my wellbeing. Orange is my special colour and though these lenses look quite bright they only produce a light sepia haze.

I am short-sighted, so these are prescription lenses, however it is possible to purchase non-prescription versions.

  1. Hand sanitiser: This is a must. There is not always a sink with soap and water readily available and the world is dirty!

 

Seasonal additions:

  1. Gloves: Gloves may be seasonal, however last winter I discovered that the squeeze from these pleather gloves helped me feel calmer. They also dulled every touch sensation including holding the safety pole on public transport, which I typically avoid.
  2. Fan: I cannot always regulate my temperature and in the summer months a fan is a necessity.
  3. Umbrella: Whatever the weather, I carry my umbrella.
  4. Cooling mist: This is mostly a summer need and lowers your temperature and cools the air around you. I also use the can as a stim as it is always very cold and I like putting very cold, or very hot, things against my cheeks (not always safe, I know).
  1. My final addition is personal and not something anyone else can have: My mum.

My mum is my best friend. She is also my carer. Without going outside would not be something that I could even consider. She keeps me safe and distracts me if I am becoming overwhelmed. She encourages me when I am afraid and protects me when I am scared.

I also have a separate pouch for medications but those are personal, so I have not included those.

Do you have a Travel Kit?  

Has this post encouraged you to create one of your own?

 

Faithfully Autistic

Autistics have sensory processing difficulties, and this means that a seemingly everyday task such as getting dressed, can become a challenge. Materials that feels soft to some, can be interpreted by the autistic brain as rough. And the intensity of these sensations can change without warning, improve over time or even worsen.

Until my mid twenties I couldn’t shake hands with people, no matter how gently my hand was held I experienced pain akin to sharp tingles, like ‘pins and needles’, and other times it felt hot as though I had been burned. I would recoil in pain.

Sound is another sense that I process differently. For certain sounds my hearing is so acute that it hurts. I can hear the buzz of electricity in a plug; the spark of a charge as a light turns on and yet I can miss an entire conversation happening right beside me.

However, there is a flip side of being negatively overwhelmed by these heightened, sometimes ‘wonky’ senses and that is something I am learning to embrace and enjoy.

I can see minute detail, the capillary on a leaf, and individual segments of seemingly smooth skin.
I can see every whorl of my finger prints, each twitch of my cats whiskers.
I enjoy a deeper level of taste which brings flavour to even the blandest of foods.
The experiences of brushing my hand across the back of my cat, of running my fingers over the textured pattern of the screen of our ancient LED television, or the bumps and grooves of my tangle stim-toy is amazing.

I am bathed in a wash of sensation and before it becomes too much – and it always becomes too much – I stand in the precipice, a step beyond the limit of ordinary, and it is wonderful.

And it is here that I find my deepest faith.

When you are in touch with the world in a way that few can even understand, your interpretations and experiences of a place are enhanced, and it is in those experiences that I see the majesty of the world. It is there that I find gratitude and peace. It is there that I do not feel disabled, I do not feel broken or wrong. I feel blessed.

Imagine, if you will, that moment in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ when Dorothy’s world turns from greyscale into full Technicolor and you have barely brushed the surface.

A very good friend described it like this:

I think it was more of a perspective thing for me (…) [I] Admire more of the small stuff around me.
They have always been there. I have just been too scared, to actually enjoy the things around me.
To live.

It is this duality to these unusual, and intense, sensory experiences that allows me to say that I am grateful to be Autistic.

Yes, there are times when I am so overwhelmed it is hard to function but on the other side of that is a glorious rainbow of experience that a neurotypical brain would never be able to connect with.

From this day forward, I want to use that connection as my drive and my passion; I want to create and share those experiences in my own limited way.

I want to glorify the gifts that they afford me.

I am autistic, God made me that way. And it is wonderful!

August Reading List

As part of my journey to being more intentional with my spiritual life, I want to start reading more faith-based texts so I have decided that each month I will pick 3-5 books that are focused on building a personal relationship with God; religious experience; spiritual growth; a bible study, or a devotional. There is no major rush to have every text completed by the end of the month (especially the devotionals) as I personally think that it is more important for me to actively read and mentally digest the words and the message placed in front of me than to rush towards some hypothetical ‘finish-line’.

With that being said, I thought that I would share the texts that I have chosen for this first month of intentional faith-based reading and write a bit about why I chose a particular text, and what, if anything I am hoping to garner from them.

Continue Reading

Faithful Creativity

I don’t always read my devotionals in order. Sometimes I just flick through the pamphlet and see where I am drawn, I am also inclined to read older publications as sometimes that past message is relevant for present me.

This week I was drawn to a word from a few weeks ago and the focus of the message was creativity:

God has made us all with the ability to be creative…

There are plenty of alternative, creative ways to connect with God. We can journal, read books, study theology and worship Him through art, music or hospitality. So if we’re feeling a bit stuck in our relationship with God, let’s think creatively and try something new. (ref)

In my last post, I told you about my prayer journal and my plans to develop my faith, encourage my spiritual growth and to take time to meditate on the word of God. As you know, I want to be more intentional with my prayer life and I want to ensure that I take time every day to read, study, contemplate and pray.

It was with this in mind that I was drawn to the latest release from Me and My Big Idea’s, Happy Planner collection; the Classic-sized 2018-2019 Walk By Faith is a lovely disc-bound planner that has restarted my #plannergirl dreams (one day I should take a photo of my ‘collection’). I plan to use this planner, alongside the prayer journal, as part of my faith-toolkit and my aim is to explore if having a focused, and themed planner will help (or hinder) my continuing spiritual journey and daily intentions.

I know I have to carefully manage all of my creative pursuits, and I do not want to get caught up in anything that causes a distraction, however, I want to experiment with the idea of faithful creativity and how our time with God can take on many forms.

My current plan is to create a plan-with-me style blog and/or video each week as I decide which scriptures I want to focus on that week, go through my current study notes and also show how I take time to incorporate my faith with my mental wellness journey.

If I do create videos they will be posted on YouTube and I hope to see you other there soon.

 


 

Rebecca Barlow Jordan says: All of us are artists, and God has work for us to do. [He] encourages us to enjoy the fruits of our labour. But the true blessing comes not just in knowing we’ve overcome…[it’s] when creativity validates its divine origin and brings honour to God (ref)