Monthly Archives: April 2009

A Productive Morning and Doors.

In fact, a productive several days now several pennies have dropped with resounding thuds, and I’m working with myself, not against.

So, I have negotiated a few things with myself! When I have work to do that involves serious thought, and I’m not home alone, I need to take myself out of the house and away somewhere else.

I need to cut back on one voluntary piece of work. One morning a week at it is as much as I can profitably manage!

I am going to take my energy levels as they happen, and work with them! Now is not the time for berating myself for being full of life and energy one day, and completely taken over be inertia the next. As long as I am at my work commitments, (when these fluctuating energy levels are not evident, or rarely so) and have done what is meant to be done, then what will be will be. Life is going to get chaotic enough in a few weeks, and I will need every ounce of energy I possess then.

Then, I’ve been pondering the symbolism of open/closed doors in my life. I only have my room door open when I’m comfortable in my living environment. At the moment, I live with my own room door shut at all times, unless I’m in the house on my own, then it’s open. I only ever go into the sitting room if we have visitors, because it doesn’t feel like somewhere I can be and relax. I’m realising how trapped, and hemmed in this has been making me feel for much of the time. Because, it’s not how I naturally live when I’m comfortable in my living space. Doors are usually open, except when wanting some privacy, or to keep the heat in, or at night. (Definitely since I watched a film with Year Five about how fast fires can spread!)

Given I’m not going to be in this environment for much longer, I’m not going to change how I do things now, because it would all take far more energy than I currently have, even allowing for the fact it seems to be taking up a lot of energy to live in ways that don’t work for me any more. But, I was aware when I was in retreat as well at the feeling of trappedness by closed doors. In fact, I ended up alleviating it by having the door to the en-suite bathroom open all the time, except when I’d just had a shower, out of consideration for my fellow retreatants, and not wishing to disturb their quiet by setting the fire alarm off – we had been warned this could easily happen.

But, there does seem to have been a recurring them of open/closed doors throughout my life, and always, it seems in the most difficult and trying situations I’ve lived in. Odd.

An organist’s dilemma…

Who sets the speed?

I am about to do battle with those who think if they don’t like my speed, if they sing loudly enough, and fast enough, (and we have two or three seriously loud, but somewhat untuneful singers, who dominate…) I will follow suit.

I didn’t, and I won’t. Not if that happens.

I’m not exactly slow, either. I’m all for a good, brisk pace, especially for longer hymns. I also very often sing along if I know it off by heart, (and when the sole word is “Alleluia”…) so I can allow for breathing breaks, something I’m not inclined to do if I just play.

I’m also aware of the underlying issues about control and power at the moment, which are legion.

But, I’m not going to play so fast that most people can’t sing or breathe, nor will I be bullied into something that my professional judgement says is wrong, by a group of people with other issues.

Any contributions to my thoughts before I have to go to choir practice later in the week?

Dealing with life, death and laundry

Holy Week busy-ness, eleven days away, and hitting the ground at record breaking speed on my return, and the realisation that the underwear drawer was very bare, and none of it was in the airing cupboard. Well, much as I had other ideas for today, laundry just had to be done!

I wasn’t exactly dressed for the outside world, luckily. Emergency items were dug out from their hiding hole, and I had to resort to the painting and decorating jeans. A Day At Home being domesticated was declared.

The retreat, for those interested, (Thanks for the prayers, Ian, and anyone else) was a really important time, and there is much to ponder and dwell on in the weeks to come. It was hard, hard work, much harder than I’d anticipated! Especially as I gave up all pretence at being a serious grown up mid retreat, but and got on with the work God needed me to do in a much more Japes friendly fashion, and at Japes friendly times. (Late night, when no-one else was around.) It meant there was a good chance of God getting a word in edgeways, and getting me to understand what He’s trying to get me to do…. I did give the poor Sister locking up at night a bit of a fright the first time, as she came across me in completely engrossed and utterly absorbed mode, with a huge pile of strips of paper all getting woven into a design. But, luckily, she was the one I was talking to, and I could explain I’m really a late night person, and the usual pattern of life in a retreat house/religious house doesn’t work well for me at all, though I do try and work with it. So, the next night, when I was surrounded by large sheets of paper, and glue sticks… she grinned, asked me to turn all the lights off when I went back off to my room, and left me to it! It all made for interesting packing coming home, and I had to plead mercy and ask for a bin liner. My poor spiritual director isn’t going to know what’s hit him when I turn up with this bin liner full of things to explain. That’ll teach him to say he wants to know all about it!

By way of light relief, my godchildren were visited on the way home. We need to have a serious conversation about prayer not being a one way process and God not being bored by us, ever. Soon! But, they know how to share chocolate cake, so I’m not a total failure as a godmother.

I came back to a much more humungous and urgent pile of work than I thought might have been the case… so, this is the first chance I’ve really had to sit down and reflect on the time away. The main thing is, I am much, much clearer that what ever happens in the future, the life I am currently leading is not where God wants me to be, nor is it enabling me to be the person He created me to be. It’s not going to be easy when it all goes public in about a month, but I feel much more able to cope with the potential fall out now.

And for your prayers, my niece’s friend died this week, aged 13. Expected as it has been, it’s still all very, very hard for everyone, especially her parents, and friends, who’d hoped so much it might not come to this.

Alleluia!! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!

But… it’s getting a bit feeble now, as I’ve been up since 4.00 a.m., and now avoiding the packing. Which is foolish as I have a 6.00 a.m. start tomorrow.

However, the festivities have been well observed, and I managed to be more up-beat than I thought might have been the case. There are definite advantages in long, long years of experience, especially as a church musician.

I’ll be back in the middle of next week, sometime.

Confession time

I’m having a somewhat minimal Holy Week.

Oh, it’s still busy by many peoples definitions, but I am not feeling obliged to go to everything on offer. Holy Week is done pretty thoroughly in these here parts, and I’ve got an eight day individually guided retreat starting on Monday. (That’s eight full days, so I won’t be emerging until the Wednesday of the week after.)

Yesterday I was like a grizzly bear with a sore head and a toothache and any other kind of ache likely to cause the bear to be cross and irritable. I was ready to fight my own shadow if it flickered the wrong way. I was seriously fed up with myself by the middle of the afternoon, and it didn’t aid matters that I was awoken from the nap I was having (as an attempt to see if that would improve things) by someone who I very rarely get cross and snappy with. And I, um, got very short and snappy.

Luckily, that seemed to snap me out of it! I gave myself a severe scolding, reminding myself the world did not revolve around me, I was getting wound up about something that didn’t really matter, had I forgotten how awful self-induced migraines were, (as a teenager, when seriously stressed out by something, I could bring on a migraine, but learnt other ways of dealing with my stress when I realised what I was doing. I’ve not had a migraine in the 25 years since this realisation) and did I really want to revert to those, which at the point of the nap, I was in serious danger of doing.

I will apologise for the snappiness tomorrow… but it may not have been noticed! (It’s happened before, I think I’ve been really nasty, gone to apologise, and been told it hadn’t been noticed.)

In other confessions…

I have spent too much time hitting a Penguin with a Flamingo, and causing said Penguin to crash into trees, (and Elephants, and occasionally Giraffes) bounce off Snakes, slithered over Elephants, and been thrown by Giraffes.

I have cleaned my room, but am afraid to tackle the Area Under The Bed, the Shelf Space Behind the Books and the Top Of The Wardrobe.

I have failed to write two letters which need writing, but will now have to wait.

I am about to be late for the one bit of non-Triduum Holy Week I’m taking part in!

Uphill Clarinet Playing

I’ve come home for a little lie down…

Palm Sunday is one of the days every year I vow I’m going to do more clarinet practice. Either that, or next time I change churches and go to one that has an outdoor Palm Sunday Procession, I do not admit to being able to play the clarinet.

It does help to keep the processional singing more together, and at a reasonable pitch. I do know the hymns off by heart, though I usually persuade a faithful soul to march alongside me to be my music stand, just in case.

But, my oh my, my lungs were fit to burst after three verse of You are the King of Glory, what seemed like hundreds of verses of All Glory, Laud and Honour, five of All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name, and six (I think) of Hail to the Lord’s Anointed. Which was when it literally was uphill! Toddling along, tootling, and praying hard for just a bit more breath, for my lip not to give up, for my reed to stay intact and for me not to fall over any of the uneven pavement we were warned about in the pre-procession Risk Assessment. Oh, yes. For the few hundred yards from the appointed starting place, to the church door, a Risk Assessment had to be carried out.

I’ve never been so thankful to get to the church door and let the organist take over! My work, however, was not done… we were doing a Proper Anthem, as is our wont on special days and occasions. We did it rather nicely, methinks. It goes on record that the choir have improved a hundredfold, and the hard work, sweat, and tears are paying off.

Now, if the next uphill battle of getting an answer out of someone of whom I am very fond, except their ability to respond to e-mails/phone messages, could be fought and won, that would be good for my equilibrium.

I think I’ve left the building and been replaced by an unknown creature.

It’s been a week that, on the whole, I’d rather forget happened.

The better points are, however, as follows

…that there is now some clarity as to timing over the next few months, and clarity as to due process.
…that a two and a half week break in routine started this evening, and numerous things will keep me well occupied.
…that I’m clearer about what some of the longer term options won’t be.

The better of the bad points include

…my failing ability to keep my cool.
…my failing ability to express myself coherently without tears.
…my frustration with some of the due process that needs to happen.

The Forgetting of the Keys incident will be glossed over!