Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Once upon a time...

For those of you who have been following my blog for some time, or who have read the earliest posts, you will know that I am writing a book. Recently my writing for it specifically has been little, I have focused on writing posts on here mainly, and plan to add them to the book in some way. I appreciate your support in reading my posts and the kind words you have expressed. I have written an introduction/preface to my book, and would like to have some feedback. It may not be the last draft but it is a start, and what better place to start than the beginning...


I woke up, wished that I was dead with an aching in my head, I lay motionless in bed. I thought of you and where you’d gone, and the world spins madly on.
    - ‘World Spins Madly On’ by The Weepies

   I have never read a self-help book about grief, and I do not intend this to be one. One reason for this is that I would not presume to know the gravity or depth of your grief and how ‘best’ for you to ‘deal’ with it. Another reason is that I am the worst person for taking advice and would not expect you to hither to mine as a resort to figuring out your own heart. Lastly, I am young, and I only know that which life has presented me thus far - but I am learning, and so share with you my experiences in the hope that they might encourage you through yours.

   My name is Rachelle, I am currently 21 years old. When I was 15 my Mum was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension, a condition which like so many wears down the body gradually and manifests itself in breathlessness and general exhaustion. She passed away when I was 19, 3 days before her 50th Birthday, 10 weeks before my brother was due to be married. She is my reason for being, for writing, for believing and for loving the way that I do. Her great faith and gentle spirit encompassed so many in her lifetime. She was not a bold woman in the sense of being loud, proud, or in-charge. Rather, it was in her calming presence, continuing kindness and constant strength which surpassed understanding, and reached many a heart, that she showed me the way.

   Ever since I was little I have had the habit of writing whether it be poems, diaries, letters or lyrics and I guess as a natural outlet of comfort I turned to this passion just as life’s chaos flooded around me in 2011. In sharing my experiences with people I have had many uplifting conversations and have heard heart-tugging stories in response to my own. I realise that death is something that we will all experience, but it is something rarely spoken about - especially in my age group. I studied English and Film Studies at the University of Dundee until May last year when I decided that I would take a gap year to turn my diaries, focused on my Mum and family through her illness, into a book - this book.
   I started a blog about my book in May 2012 and it continues to be a popular read for family, friends, acquaintances and even the odd stranger. I have been encouraged greatly to continue writing, and shall do so until I am done. I have so much to be thankful for in my life, it is only in the past few years that I have begun to realise just how much, and started to learn how to say thank you to the One who has blessed me so greatly - but I know I am young and have much much farther to go.

"Teach us to realise the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom."
- Psalm 90:12

Thank you for reading! Please do let me know what you think, if not by a comment then an email or via Facebook :]

For your efforts, here is a lovely song:

Saturday, 23 February 2013

O Sleeper & Little Hands

Friday 22nd Feb
   I am so tired. 
It definitely has something to do with the mere 3 and a half hours sleep I had last night having been up with some good friends talking 'til 4 am. It mostly has to with the crazy amount, and range, of emotions I've been feeling lately. Some things aren't very easy to 'sleep off' - some things fatigue you so deeply that you carry them like a force within you, feeling the slight drag of each step and the pause before each kind smile...

Saturday 23rd Feb
   After I wrote that last night we had dinner with the people that had arrived for the family seminar weekend here in Gemunden. We had some singing and a devotional after dinner and then free time before bed. I had been feeling 'weary and heavy laden' with worries about home, a job, friends, and grief, but something happened that evening which took that sense of helplessness away. One of the women who had arrived brought with her her three children, two girls aged 5 and 2 and a baby boy of 6 months. I was making a cup of tea in the kitchen when the youngest girl, Lucy, came up to me and just stood and looked up at me. I looked at her and said 'hello' and she mumbled something inaudible. Crouching down to her I asked her what she said and she looked at me and said "Can you sing me a song?" I laughed, and she smiled cheekily back. It was so random, and so sweet, so I obliged and sang a bit of 'Jesus Loves Me'.
   The family sat opposite us at dinner and we got better acquainted, after clearing up and sitting down to sing, Lucy climbed under the table over to me and sat on my lap whilst we sang. Her sister proceeded to follow and I shuffled over in my seat so she could share it with me. A few hours earlier I had been dwelling with a great sadness and there I sat with two beautiful children who wanted to be near me, singing God's praises, holding their little hands. It was wonderful. 

   This weekend Monte Cox is giving lessons entitled 'The Word became flesh', talking about the true nature of Jesus - not just knowing the Bible but knowing the Author well enough to follow and represent Him. He spoke about an idea written in 'The Jesus I Never Knew' how the only King to ever chose his Mother and place of birth was Jesus - who chose to be born to a teenager, in a stable trough. He was put in a position where, when he met the outcast of society, he could speak to them as equals having been so low in social rankings himself. He gave hope to the helpless, and last night, holding that little girl's hand gave me hope too. For someone so small and actually helpless to want to be with me, even when sometimes I feel so small and helpless myself, well, it felt good.
   In helping others we help ourselves; in loving others, we are loved; and in sharing happiness the heart is glad.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Do be do be do.

   A few weekends ago Dad, Shanae and I visited the Grandparents in Devises. It was Grandpa's Birthday on the Monday and we went to the cinema to see Les Miserables, I made lasagna with Grandma which we had for dinner and a lovely cake Shanae had assisted with as well. Coming to this house as a child meant that we would play board and card games, do puzzles, go across the valley and make forts in the green opposite the back garden, have pudding after each meal, and no WiFi. The latter was not noticeable until recent years and now with such smart phone technology it is no longer as applicable, but it is interesting to see how dependent I seem to be on keeping in the cyber loop.

 I enjoy keeping in touch with people and playing games online with people miles away, and of course I blog, but it struck me a few weeks ago how I am not as alright being alone as I used to be. Losing Mum probably has something to do with this, but I think I've been searching for something for years now to occupy my time, other than myself.

When I was younger, about 9-13 I had my head stuck in books so much so that my brother would get frustrated with me when I would refuse to play games with him choosing instead to finish off a chapter or two in the latest Jaqueline Wilson book. I used to write a lot, poems, stories, letters, journals, and draw still life, people from photos and dress designs. I used to be quite content being by myself and doing my own thing and somewhere between then and late adolescence I got hooked onto social networking in different forms. 

When I started my journals for this book I reclaimed my passion for writing. Having started my degree in English and Film Studies I have rekindled my love of reading and expanded the horizons of my interest in film, but since my studies took a pause last May I feel I've fallen back into the habit of being cyber-social 24/7. A while ago I started 'The Glass Virgin' by Catherine Cookson and I'm over half way through it, an interesting read! At my Grandparent's house I completed a 1000 piece puzzle and remembered, I love puzzles. This may all seem elementary for some people, and maybe others are thinking my habits sound rather similar to their own, but I am discovering new likes and dislikes I was before unaware of because I hadn't spent the time to figure them out.

To make a long story short - I am doing more things now in the real world, by myself, rather than staring at a computer screen/waiting for a message response, and it's awfully refreshing. 

The other day I met a friend at my house and we walked up to a wee nature reserve in my village with a lake and watched the sunrise. I took along some hot chocolate in a flask and a few breakfast bars and we sat and talked and enjoyed the fresh breeze. It was surprisingly invigorating. Over the past few weeks I have been blitz clearing out my room, rearranging furniture and making it look generally more homey, my next project is to make a 'wall of frames' above the bed and it'll be done. A few days ago I dyed my hair red! My sister and I found the dye whilst clearing things out and I thought - why the heck not. 
   I have also been doing a few colourful things in my diary lately, and have a new idea to make my life from here on out more positive: I re-read my diary from last year and realised I complain in it a lot. Reading back over the things that went wrong, disappointments, sad thoughts and unwanted memories and I realised that they aren't the things that I want to remember. So I have decided that I will only write positive things in my diary. An idea on Pinterest was to have a clear glass jar and fill it with small notes of good things that happen each day in 2013, to re-read at the end of the year. If you use different coloured pieces of paper it can be a pretty display piece and you can be reminded daily of the good things that happen in your life.

So here's a wee list of things to brighten up your dull days as we wish the winter chills away:
- Go for a walk somewhere different (even just down a street or path you don't normally venture)
- Watch the sunrise/sunset with a friend (prefferably outside, if it's raining - take a brolly!)
- Drink Hot Chocolate in the morning (sweet starts to the day are always the best)
- Read a book (or finish all those ones you started and never finished)
- Do something different with your appearance (dye your hair/wear your good shirt to work)
- Clear out your room/redecorate (tidy house, tidy mind)
- Make a new playlist, discover some new music or get back into the stuff that you really used to love (I've been listening to a lot of country recently which reminds me of Spring Cleaning with Mum <3)
- Give a compliment a day (a 'Pay it Forward' idea - give a little love and it all comes back to you)
- Make something (a card/present/cake/smoothie - Valentine's Day coming up! We have a special ability to be creative, and Doing It Yourself can be rather therapeutic)

Do something new. Be content in what you have. Do something for someone else. And repeat - do, be, do, be, do...